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We went to the bed-side of the afflicted with the hope of teaching, instead of which we felt cold and tongue-tied. But what were we led there for? Why, that we might be taught; for depths had been entered and billows fathomed by that poor, prostrate one, that we had not entered, and it was evident our position was to sit still and drink in the gospel which she preached, for it was the Spirit's will to turn the tables and give us the "here a little" that we required. And surely such facts aim a death-blow against that flimsy assertion of the enemy, that the doctrines of grace lead to licentiousness and looseness of life. It is impossible, and as much as charging the Holy Spirit with being the leader into sin. No; if the child of God feels and knows that it is by "here a little and there a little" that he is to be ripened for glory, he will be kept looking out for, and using all those channels which are to produce this effect, and the palpable and practical result will be, that, far from leading an indifferent life, he must, for his own sake, become a visitor of the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep himself "unspotted from the world." And again, who that knows anything of the leadings of the Spirit, has not ofttimes been obliged to acknowledge that they cannot see their way clear in such and such a movement, cross-purposes seem to prevail, and their expectations prove of no avail, and yet, perhaps, in a different manner altogether, the way has been opened up and made plain, and that which was calculated upon as a source was found dried up, and another spring traced out as bringing the required "here a little and there a little;" as dear HART says,
""Tis to credit contradictions, Yet the victory hope to gain."
explanation, that we may be brought to feel, and not merely formally sing, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."
Now this dependency makes the poor soul a creature of need continually; he feels he cannot think a good thought, much less do a good action; that he shall ever err if he advances alone, and what is the result? Why, he is driven, from sheer necessity, to the throne; it becomes his constant resort, and he desires to preface every page of his eventful history with prayer, and close it with praise. And whereas, at the throne of grace formerly, his appeal was for general blessings, now it is for special benefits; it is, "Give us this day our daily bread." Thou hast brought us to live by the moment. Now, Lord, help. And then, beloved, not merely do we find that the Spirit-born children must thus be fed and brought on little by little; but the quality of the food must be special. They cannot partake of swine's husks any longer, but must have the fatted calf of gospel privileges; anything short of this will be loathed, as their dear Redeemer loathed the spirit of lukewarmness. They are, as the Word describes them, "a peculiar people," and they must have peculiar food. And what is this peculiar food, so necessary to the growth of, and sustenance of, the children of God? Surely, beloved, it might well be labeled the fulness of Christ; anything short of this will not do: hence, ofttimes, when led to the sanctuary, what they hear advanced may be all very well in its place, nicely ordered, and dished up very prettily, yet, somehow or other, they cannot relish it; they try, but the spiritual system rejects it. Why? It is not the here a little" of the fulness of a precious Christ. It may be made to appear very like it-a good copy of the original, but, if closely analyzed, it is found to be the fulness of the creature, and not the fulness of Christ; by which fulness alone all the joints of the mystical body receiveth nourishment, apart from which the mutual joints receive none at all. Hence the hankering of the children after LIVING BREAD, and the gathering of the precious mannaa little and there a little "-while He who gave the appetite will supply the
A dear minister of the gospel, to whom we were telling a little of the leadings of Providence in our own experience lately, made a remark that will not easily pass away from our memory. We were stating that we could not understand the last seven years' exercises of soul upon a particular point. "No (he replied), perhaps not, but the next seven years will explain it." Ah! so it is. We must wait upon the Spirit for the exercise through the exercise, and for its
food, and proportion everything to the now the supply will be cut off, it will necessity of His people, according as it surely fail. One såys, Ah! the Lord is is written, “ Thy bread shall be given, leading me to a neighbourhood where and thy waters shall be sure, and thy de- there exists "no truth ;" His prophets fence the munition of rocks." And this are all dead, and I shall remain alone, shows us the deep necessity for the uncared for, and left to spiritually perish unction and power of the Holy Spirit, in this waste-howling wilderness. But through which source alone the fulness this is wrong; He never did yet forsake of Christ flows, except as He pleases to His people thus, and never will. This make use of human instrumentality to is resting upon arms of flesh, and not convey from Himself this all-important upon the fact that He shall supply ALL nourishment. And this reminds us of thy need according to His riches in how forcibly that precious passage of glory. No, Christ's fulness is never Scripture was pressed home upon us a exhausted, nor is it His purpose to shut short time back, which states, “ Who- up that fulness within His own heart of soever shall speak a word against the love; but to communicate it to those Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; whom He thus loves, and so fulfil His but unto him that blasphemeth against own gracious promise, “ They shall go the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.” on from strength to strength, every one. No, it cannot be forgiven such; for the (not a hoof left) shall appear in Zion. only medium through which pardon can and then, dear reader, while this preflow is the Holy Ghost, and if you cut cious fulness shall be continuous, there off that medium there is no pardon : is a needs-be for its being imparted just as if a wealthy man had upon a high “ little by little.” The impulse of young shelf a cask of good old wine, and from experience is to take rapid strides; but that cask down to his mug was a pipe the ballast of tribulation afterwards which conveyed the good old wine for steadies the vessel, and keeps it from his use; if the man cut off the con- being top-heavy: Sometimes, like the nexion, how could he get the wine ? boy, at school who has only half learnt there it would be, in all its fulness and his lesson, and, consequently, gets turned fruitiness, but no use to him if he could back to learn it more perfectly, the child not get it brought down to him. So of God, in the school of Christ, striving with the blasphemer against the Holy to hurry through experience and be Ghost, which is equivalent to denying wiser than his elders, is put back by his His power.
may be forgiven man if Lord and Master, that by “line upon we blaspheme against the Son of mar- line, here a little and there a little," he it is forgiven, again and again ; indeed, may be shown that the matter is too imbeloved, are we not living instances of portant to be scamped, and that he must it, for we said, I will not have this man move by steps, and not strides, in order to reign over me ? but deny the Holy to be made wise unto salvation. Nor Ghost, and it cannot be forgiven, for is there the least drawback in his being there is no other medium through which obliged thus to learn" little by little;" forgiveness of sins can flow. Oh yes, for, as with the manna in the wilderness, there is, says the apostate Church, the children of Israel had to gather by through the medium of the priests. the day, so there was no lack; the little Surely this, reader, is a double blas- satisfied the need, and more would only phemy ;
it is robbing, the Holy Ghost of have been wasted. The poor woman's His power, and raising another to de- little oil in the cruse was made sufficient ceive immortal souls, and which cannot for the emergency; and low as the barrel exist. Well, then, the necessity of plead- of meal was, yet it did not fail. ing constantly for the outpouring of Beloved, then look out for “the little the Holy Spirit, “ little by little,” into by little" of the genuine wine of the an empty vessel. And then, beloved, gospel; despise not the instrumentality we must further notice, that the supply through which it comes, if such an inof this little by little of the genuine strumentality proves to be a golden pipe wine of the gospel, through the golden from
the great Source of communication, pipe, is continuous and ever flowing. the Holy Spirit. When providences are dark, we think Bury St. Edmunds.
FAITH'S ESTIMATE OF AFFLICTIVE DISPENSATIONS,
“And she answered, It is well.”—2 Kings iv. 26. SHORT words, soon spoken; but to leave the deeper they cut when they are rea suitableness of heart to them, is one of moved. Many of you can judge what the highest attainments of faith. To be the loss of a son, an only son, must be, sure it is well; we think sc, when all and when there is no hope of a Seth inthings go according to our wish, when stead of Abel. there is nothing in providence that But, behold, “He taketh away, and crosses our desires, that thwarts our who shall hinder Him?” Well : what designs, that sinks our hopes, or awakens does the mother do now? One would our fears : submission is easy work then ; think all her hope was cut off
, and all but to have all things seemingly against her comfort dried up. No, it is far otherus; to have God smiting in the tenderest wise; the same power that gave him part, unravelling all our schemes, con- could raise him ; in faith of this she lays tradicting our desires, and standing aloof him upon the prophet's bed, and makes from our very prayers; how do our souls all the haste to him she could. behave thenThis is the true touch- She concealed what had happened (as stone of our sincerity and submission : it is probable) from her husband; he here, as it is said Rev. xiii. 10, "is
the objects to her going to the prophet patience and faith of the saints." This (verse 23), “Wherefore wilt thou go to shows what they are made of, what they him to-day? it is neither new moon nor are within; but instances there are
Sabbath. And she said, It shall be in the Book of God, wherein we find this well.” Faith sets aside every obstacle : sweet frame prevailing: as Abraham, “ It shall be well;" the end will be Job, David, and the Shunammite in the peace; God is with me, and He will text, than whose story we meet with few make all things work together for things in providence more affecting. If good. you look back a little, you may see what Commentators in general make very were her circumstances, and those of her light of this, and her answer to Elisha's family. She was a great woman, says message in my text. Some suppose she verse 8, and that she was a good woman has a reserve in her breast, when Gehazi the whole context shows.
asks after her family, that this well only Her husband and she wanted but one refers to her husband and herself. Others thing to make them as happy as the vanity think it is but a transition to something and uncertainty of all human affairs would further, which she was in haste to say: admit of. They had enough of the world, as if she had said, “All is weil, do not and they seem to have had the enjoy- hinder me, I have urgent business with ment of it; for when Elisha, to requite your master Elisha, and cannot stay to her kindness, asks, “What shall be done talk farther with you upon any matters.” for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for This is the sense which most annotators to the king ?” &c. she answers, No, incline to, which, I confess, I the more I dwell among mine own people.” I wonder at, because all agree that the seek nothing greater than what I apostle's words in part refer to this have; only (as Gehazi learnt from her) story (Heb. xi. 35), “ Women received they wanted a child to comfort them their dead to life again.” How they now, and to inherit what they had when received them is there specified; namely, they were gone. God, in a miraculous by or through faith : faith, not as some way, gives them their request. This child carry it, in the prophet, but in the pergrows up, and was, no doubt, the delight sons who had their dead restored to of its parents; just at the time of life them; or else there would have been no when children are most engaging, before need to make mention of any by name. they are capable to do any great thing to Now wherein this woman's faith appeargrieve their parents, God lays his hand ed, the text and context make manifest. suddenly upon him, and takes him away. Here was a dependence upon God's The dearest comforts are but short. promise, an abiding by that.
God had lived; the dearer they are when living, ' promised her a son ; a son, not to lose
him, but to have comfort in him; and spoken of the good of it, it presents as if she had said, “ As for God, itself unto us with a very different face; His work is perfect, He does not use it is matter of present grief and sorrow to raise His people's expectations for to them that are chastised; nor are we nothing; to give, and immediately to blamed for our feeling and sense of it. take away again: my son is dead, but Our blessed Lord Himself wept at the God, all-sufficient, liveth; why should I grave of his dear friend (John xi. 35). mourn as though I had no hope ? As And at the approach of His last sufferfor God's power and faithfulness, there ings, “His soul was exceeding sorrowful, is no abatement in them." Therefore even unto death” (Matt. xxvi. 38); yet she makes no preparation for his burial," He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; tells her husband nothing of his death, He opened not His mouth; there was but seeks to God by the prophet, and patience and quiet submission under all expects help from Him. See how she His sorrows, while nature had some vent; expresses herself; "Is it well with thée, 'for groans are sometimes an easement to (says Gehazi,) Is it well with thy hus- our grief. Thus it is said of this good band ? Is it well with the child ? And woman, that.“ her soul was bitter within she answered, " It is well.” Here is her” (ver. 27). Elisha saw her agony in the greatest submission in the deepest her looks, though he knew not the cause distress; her son, her only son, the son of it; and yet " All is well.” When of all her love, the son of her old age, he Job lost his substance and his children, is taken away with a stroke, and yet all and was 'smitten in his body with sore is well. There is nothing amiss in the boils; when Heman, and when the dispensation; had she been to choose it, church, in the Lamentations, were deshe would not have had it so; but as God prived of the consolations of God, when bath chosen it, it is well, it is best, she the Comforter, who could relieve their has nothing to object. Here are sub- souls, was far from them; when David, mission and faith, both discovered in also, was cursed by Shimei, and turned their sweetest exercise ; submission to out of doors by his own son; can you what God hath done, faith in what He is think that in all this there was no feeling? able to do, and in what she believed He Had there been none, there could have would do : “ By faith women received been no profit by any of the dispensatheir dead raised to life again;" so that tions. Unless we realize our trials, and the words, thus explained, afford us this account them trials indeed, what are we plain and useful observation. Observe: the better for them! This would be to faith in God's promise and power will despise the chastening of the Lord, to bring a man to submit to the sorest and be above correction. To be smitten and most trying dispensation of His provi- not grieve, is one of God's sorest judg. dence. Or thus : faith, where it is in ments, and always argues a soul ripe for exercise, will teach a Christian to say of ruin; this well does not suppose insen. all God does, “ It is well.”
sible of the evil of afflicting; On this proposition I will endeavour, II. Though we believe all that befals
I. To show what submission is, or us is well, this does not forbid our inhow, and in what sense, we are to under- quiring into the reasons of God's prostand the expression in the text, “It is vidential dispensations, and a searching well.” What is submission to the will out the cause for which they come upon of God? To prevent mistakes, we will us. Every rod hath a voice in it, and consider a little what it is not, and then the man of understanding will hear it, what it is. Therefore, 1. This well does and see the name of God in it (Micah not suppose there is nothing in provi- vi. 9); what God intends by it, what is dential disļensations which to flesh and His end and design in it, for He does sense appears evil. Submission quiets not aflict willingly, nor grieve the chilunder an affliction, but it does not take dren of men. away our sense and feeling of the afflic- There is a “need-be" in every distion. The apostle speaks what is every pensation that befals us (1 Pet. 1. 6), believer's experience (Heb. xii. 11), wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now, “No chastening for the present seemeth for a season, if need be, ye are in heato be joyous, but grievous.” Whatever be viness through manifold temptations."
God acts with judgment in proportion to heart; there is so much self-love and our needs; there is conveniency and fit-self-flattery hid there, that a man cannot ness, nay, there is absolute necessity in judge aright of himself or of God withthe case; it must be that we are "in out divine teachings.. "It is meet to be heaviness, and that through manifold said unto God, I have borne chastisetemptations." One single trial often- ment." Sirs! It is one thing to be times will not do to empty us of self, to chastised, and another thing to bear wean us from the world, to show us the chastisement; to behave aright under vanity of the creature, the sinfulness of it; to be patient, submissive, thankful; sin; it must be repeated, or others to have a frame of heart suited to the joined with it, so fast are our affections dispensation whatever it is. This is to glued to the things of time and sense. bear chastisement; and wherever this is, Now, what this need is in us, what this the language of the soul will be, "That intention and end is in God, the Chris- which I see not, teach thou me; if I tian will and ought to be searching out, have done iniquity, I will do no more." and inquiring daily into. This was Job's When an affliction is sanctified, it always frame and ye have heard (as says the begets godly fear and jealousy. A man apostle), of the patience of Job" (Job is then most afraid of his own heart, lest xxxiv. 31, 32, "Surely it is meet to be that should deceive him; lest he should said unto God, I have borne chastise- come out of the furnace unpurged, unment, I will not offend any more, that refined; lest the end of God's visitation which I see not teach thou me; if I upon him should be unattained. And have done iniquity, I will do no more." this is well consistent with our believing Sin lies deep, it must be searched after all that God does is well done. in the deep and secret corners of the (To be continued.)
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine.
DEARLY BELOVED EDITOR,Although for many weeks I have been unable to write, you and your work have been in daily remembrance before the Lordthe mercy-seat is a sweet meeting place; I trust you have remembered me there. I have rejoiced and do rejoice in the blessing vouchsafed. May He graciously multiply it a hundred fold to His glory, and the increase of your joy and peace in Him. Of how little moment would be the foundation stone of your church, had not the Lord laid the chief corner stone of the Church within, ere ever the world was. May He give you to build up many living stones on that sure foundation, cemented together by love, grace, and blood. Cast not away your confidence, beloved, He will make the place of His feet glorious, and will beautify the place of His sanctuary. "Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that are of heavy hearts; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more," and those who see them shall acknowledge that they are the seed whom the Lord hath blessed.
Very, very sweet was your August portion, "In the Cloud." It is descending mercies that are so precious in the wilderness, where we are "troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; often cast down, but not destroyed." Knowing that He openeth the ear to discipline, to bring back the soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living, then is our heart filled with melody and our tongue with praise. Soon it will be one unbroken strain of praisethe new song. Now we say, "I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, though I walk in the midst of trouble.' Yet a little while and our God shall have wiped away all tears, for the former things-sin and death-will have passed away. Hallelujah. I earnestly desire your health and strength; and above all a feast of fat things for your soul, that you may send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.
I am, dear Sir, affectionately yours in the love of Jesus,
H. E. A.