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THE NEW CREATION
THE NARROW WAY OF LIFE;
BEING OUR COMPANION,
THE HOLY GHOST
OUR COMFORTER AND GUIDE,
AS WE JOURNEY HOMEWARDS TO OUR FATHER'S HOUSE.
BY A LAYMAN
OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND.
“ And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by
the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?"-LUKE XXIV. 32.
WERTHEIM AND MACINTOSH, 24, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
The Psalms cannot be held in too high estimation, nor is it too much to say of them, that, to a believer, they are the most instructive portion of Holy Writ. His study, knowledge, and understanding of them, giveth him a more intimate acquaintance with his own heart, and a more confident assurance in the reality of that oneness between him and his Lord ; so that he can, with her at Jacob's well, leave there his waterpots to go and say to his friends and neighbours, Come, see the man that telleth me all things that ever I did. Here I have the Christ of GOD speaking to me.
The Psalms are in religion, what Newton's “Principia" are in mathematics. The Old Testament asserts what the New proves by the facts there put on record. But the Psalms are the catholic deductions wherein each individual believer can, though with fear and trembling, work out the problem of his own salvation to a Q. E. D. ; for it is the Holy Ghost which worketh in him both to will and to do of his own good pleasure.
We come at the conclusions of the great philosopher only after painful and laborious investigations of pure science, based upon acknowledged truths ; what he asserts is taken as law by many who are not able wholly to comprehend his meaning.
Now, if in searching into (not after) the truth, we thus take up the study and contemplation of the Psalms, the application of them to pure and undefiled religion, as a personal and individual concern, will be inevitable. And although we may not arrive at a full understanding of all that is in them set forth, we shall find it our delight as well as our business to be occupied in searching into the depths and the heights of the great mystery of man's redemption, through the efficacy of the blood of the everlasting Covenant, applied by faith unto the conscience of every one who acknowledges the Christ of God -Jesus, He is Lord of all—as his Head.
The language of the Psalms is the breathing of a restored soul, the pulse of her life, the touchstone of her sincerity ; it is the language of the Courts above. Here, It is to be learned only in the school of Christ,There, to be used as the one lip language of his saints. The Spirit of Truth
- which is God the Holy Ghost—vouchsafeth now to examine us as to how far we have made this tongue the heart-exponent of our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, our sympathies and our antipathies ; when we would give utterance to them—not merely on the great stage of this passing scene of life, but chiefly in the secret rehearsal chamber-before Him who searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, and prompteth the stammering tongue.
The Holy Spirit inspireth us with holy boldness to use the language, as though we were thereunto native ; to take the words thereof with us to the throne of grace in prayer. If diffidence make us tremble lest we should be presumptuous, his warrant is, Hast thou not heard, O man, the prayer of Jesus for his people—that they might be one with Himself, even as He is one with the Father ?
The language of the Psalmist so amalgamates him with the Beloved One, that it is at times not easy to see which is speaking. They are, indeed, one in spirit, though two separate persons. The identity of David is not lost in David's Lord, nor the supremacy of the Lord confounded with the oneness of the believer, in the name and power of Jesus. “ Jesus” means a leader and commander ; “Disciple," one who is disciplined for the service of this great Captain of our salvation. The language is common to all in his camp, and must be understood by all in his army-alike from the first of his captains to the least amongst the camp followers. There are, indeed, a mixed multitude who use this sacred language much after the fashion of one who, reading the letters of musical notation as we do a newspaper, would maintain that he is singing a tune.
Presumption in the free use of the Psalms as our own, is effectually checked by the heart-searchings they provoke, the meditations they suggest, the watchings they awaken, and the spirit of prayer they inspire. They give the believer confidence in Jesus, but none in himself ; they give confidence, from the conviction that the language is familiar to Jesus, and that the soul which breatheth, readeth, or giveth utterance to it, being taught of the Holy Spirit, is able to know the difference betwixt mourning and murmuring-between willingness and weakness-betwixt the power of sin and the love of sin-between crucifying the flesh and cursing a brother -betwixt Pharisaic pride and the joy of a justifying faith in the blood of the Atonement. The believing soul can tremble lest she fall, without a wish to have the road a whit wider ; conscious of being still obnoxious to temptations, she mourns like a dove in a cage, separated from her mate, yet feels herself a prisoner of hope ; she hath no cause to murmur at the dispensations of her Lord, nor yet to fear his wrath, though freely acknowledging the worst, because she can say, The iniquity of us all was laid upon Him, and by his stripes we are healed.
Thus to use the Psalms requireth an intimate and continued acquaintance with Holy Writ. The compiler's thoughts and views may be traced and seen by the portions of Scripture which are brought to bear on the verse under consideration, whether in confession, prayer, or praise ; what is added of his own he desireth to do, somewhat in that spirit of the Corinthian Church when receiving the apostle's admonitions-(2 Cor. vii. 11); and as it will be seen that this mode of using the Psalms partaketh very much of the nature of the confessional, the publication goes forth without a name.
There appears to be a need for such a work, when so much importance is attached to the gifts of others as being instrumental in building up and holding together any portion of the body of Christ, especially the gift of prayer. Extempore prayer amongst the many, is but a temporary excitement.; and out of the multitudes that are led in their public devotions, by him whom they themselves have chosen as their pastor, how few there are who could give more than a very general answer as to the nature of the petitions to which they have given their “Amen ;” or even say, positively, that Jesus was the mediator addressed, in their behalf, by him who “made the prayer."
The fear of becoming formalists, or the fear of some superstitious belief in a set form of words, has led to all but a total exclusion of the Lord's Prayer in the public devotions of the people's assemblies ; and whilst the name of priest is held in abhorrence, his office, as intercessor, is retained by the minister, to the exclusion of the prayers of the people.
The distinction between public prayer and private devotion is not here to be set forth ; extreme views on either side may readily be received, and easily upheld by argumentative advocates, until the dispute raiseth a typhoon amongst the people ; thus the law of storms in the elemental strife, will be seen to hold also in those which the spirit of the evil one raiseth by the strife of tongues. Nearest the centre, there, all is quiet, serene, calm. The prophets of Baal are nothing without the madness of the people. No surer way for raising this madness than to tell the people that their gods are traduced, their altars polluted, or the liberty of their sanctuaries at stake. Now, when this blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against a wall, the peace of God will be with those who are near to Him, who is the refuge for the needy, from the storm which in its fury rageth from without. A time may come when, in these lands, the highways shall cease to be called the King's highway, in the good and lawful sense of that term :-a time when the narrow footpath be reserved for the priests alone, or when the footpath be trodden down, and no distinction made for foot-passengers and those who ride in carriages and on horses. In plain terms,—when the Established Church sanctions the spiritual despotism of her Bishops, Priests, and Deacons (and the people love to have it so, let us not deceive ourselves here) —the republicanism of the conventicle will in a great measure be justified. Thus will our beloved Institutions in Church and in State be brought to desolation. Nevertheless, wisdom is justified in all her children. Be it