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the destruction and misery of the fall. And over the top of this first mirror the terrible words are written" All have sinned and come short of the glory of God !” So that whatever may be said of “the redemptive quality and property in man after the fall, by the cultivation of which he may recover himself
, and beginning to return to his Maker, the Lord will meet him, and help him, and save him :" whatever gloss may be put upon this most false but popular sand-bank of free-willism, it is to be discarded as one of the most dangerous stepping-stones down to perdition that ever was laid by Satanic ingenuity and power. If anything was required to prove the entire ruin of man in the fall, it is surely realised by the regenerated believer in CHRIST,—who, after grace has done great things for him, finds a law in his members warring against the law in his mind, bringing him into captivity to the law of sin and death.
And if the question be asked— To what extent is it possible for this law of sin in the members to carry any of the Israel of God ? then Hosea's revelation comes in with the answer : for this prophet actually opens a scene before us, wherein, as we may almost say—not irreverently, but as speaking after the manner of men-here is God weeping over the cavern and captivity into which Israel has fallen, and exclaiming with an intensity which no words of ours can fully explain, “Oh, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself !” Mark you, it is not Ephraim only—it is not Judah merely-it is not the external professing Israelite simply-nay, it is God's Israel, over whom the lamentation is made—Oh, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself”--thou hast done it thyself!
Murmuring against God, unbelief, and idolatry, brought the tribes of Israel into a civil, a national, and a spiritual ruin ; and had there not existed a previous covenant-had there not been a Covenanted and Substitutionary Head and Hiding-place—the destruction must have been for ever,—without remedy-without recovery-without help, hope, or salvation of any kind.
Ah! brethren, how many of us, like ancient Israel, have destroyed ourselves! Our spiritual comforts; our peace of conscience; our usefulness in Zion; our position in the world; our unity with the saints; our fellowship with the Saviour ; our joys in the Holy Ghost ; our prospects, our possessions, yea, our all, in every sense, in many cases, has been destroyed. And like the broken and crushed vessel which has been wrecked, and torn asunder by the waves and the winds, we have laid a wretched spectacle to angels, and devils, and men ! The
of despair has been presented to us by the foul adversary of souls, and although we have not been permitted to drink enough of the deadly poison to sink us finally into perdition, we have tasted enough of it to understand something of the fearful cries of David, of Heman, of Job, and of even Jonah, when he said, “Out of the belly of hell cried I, for thou hadst cast me into the deeps ; into the midst of the seas; I went down to the bottoms of the mountains, and my soul fainted within me.” How boundless the mercy! God gave him grace to look again, to cry again : that look was not disdained ; that cry was not unheeded ; for the Lord brought him from even the deepest misery, to shout aloud, “Salvation is, of the Lord !"
I have felt thankful unto the God of my mercies, for three things. First, because, immediately after the Lord has said, “O, Israel thou hast destroyed thyself,” he adds as in the same breath, lest Israel die in
despair, “ But, in me, is thine heip." Secondly, because the Lord has proved that although vain is the help of man, yet, He is the all-sufficient help of His people; and, thirdly, because, seeing we are so weak, and so foolish, the Lord determines to glorify Himself in our eternal and complete salvation, and therefore, carrying His thoughts and purposes and promises, right into the Glory World, where neither the sense nor sound of destruction can ever enter, He adds unto all the rest, “I WILL BE THY KING !" The full interpretation of which I have found in the metaphors employed in the Canticles of which, as yet, I cannot write. That, I hope, will be in its place.
Brethren, at the commencement of another year, we expect we shall have some long, and dry, and hard, and logical, and collegelearned addresses by the editors of our magazines; some of whom will be reprobating every body, but their own most excellent community; others will be writing their borrowed essays respecting the necessity of preaching Christ and his cross. Not a few will be prophesying of solemn things, shortly about to transpire; and many will be exhorting us all to do good, and to be good, and to get good, and thus prepare to meet the Lord.
Brethren,we will not dispute the sincerity of any of these annual admonitors. We have our commission. We believe, in the Churches of Christ now upon the earth, and in the world at large, there are thousands of the vessels of mercy who are so deeply wounded, so fearfully bruised, so seriously afflicted, so fast bound in captivity, so much under the influence of the sentence of death in themselves, that it is not one minister in a thousand that is of any ilse to them ; nor is there one book out of a million that conveys one drop of consolation to their hungry and thirsty souls. Much as I may expose myself to the ridicule and contempt of the plausible, the penetrating, the clear-headed, and hardhearted hosts which thrust themselves into our churches, I will not fear to write down this one thing, that my deepest desire, my largest aim, my most constant purpose, is, under God, and as an instrument in his hands, to be (unto the poor sin-sick souls in the secret hospitals of our Zion), that very character of which Elihu spake to Job, who, when discoursing upon the heavy afflictions endured by those who know they have destroyed themselves, he said, “If there be an interpreter with him one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then He is gracious unto him ;” and his recovery is certain. If the Lord has still any work of this kind for me to do, none will be more willing than myself, still to be found in the humble huts which stand close on the edge of the battle-field, and into which they often bring the blind, the halt, the maimed, and the half-dead, and if the Lord himself will give me the power to convey to them any of the healing medicines His kind hand provides, I will, as ever, rejoice to see the lame man leap like a hart, and to hear the tongue of the dumb to sing, and to our GLORIOUS HEALER'S NAME, I all the praise will give. I am still the living witness of God's free, unmerited, and undying grace. He speaks in me, He works by me, although my measure of usefulness may appear to be small, and my position somewhat obscure. Blessed be His holy name, He is my portion, and with such a treasure, I desire to be most gratefully content.
I think I envy no man, let his influence be what it may. Nor would I for one moment, desire to stand in the place of any man now
living on the face of the earth. “ God has set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased Him.” Whether all the great men and the little men of the day are members in the body or not, is not mine to determine. I am called upon to be faithful to the commission given me, and to be found in faithfulness is my most hearty prayer.
Here, of dire necessity I find I must defer the seven helps until February, and the other two mirrors. To this, if I may be permitted, I pledge myself, in the fear of the Lord, and subscribe myself still to be an anxious and unworthy servant in the Church.
CHARLES WATERS BANKS. 1, Portland Terrace, Victoria Park Road,
South Hackney, Dec. 24, 1866.
Four Sons Dead in One Day.
A SHORT PAPER ON
" Deep in unfathomable mines,
Of never failing skill,
And works His sovereign will." It was one Saturday night in November,—ah ! I remember well, it was the same Saturday evening which belonged to that morning when I officiated at the marriage of a noble-looking and very honourable farmer, and his most handsome bride—(a sight on earth more pleasing, a service of the kind more solemn, never passed before the sight and sense of my mind). The church wherein this ceremony was performed, too, was singularly chaste, most excellently arranged, and fitted up so thoroughly comfortable and substantial, so lofty and so spacious, I could not but admire it. It is called, “Trinity Free Church,” and belongs to a man of earnest devotion, of high principle; one that fears God above many. He was an ordained priest of the Church of England, as they call them ; but his conscience would not allow him to read all, and do al), and believe all, and teach all which the “Common Prayer Book demands; so he sacrificed all his interests, all his prospects, and nearly all his connections in the Church of England, and came out. Not like Mr. Philpot, or Mr. Tryon, or the late Mr. Tiptaft; not as Baptist Noel, and others of whom we might write, who left Church, Prayer book, surplices, gowns, christening, organ, bells, belfry, font, fees, churchings, church-goings, chants, church-wardens, and all the other antiquities thereto belonging, and joined themselves unto that sect which is everywhere spoken against. No, this gentleman renounced his position and prospects in the Church of England; but he retains part of her litany and some of her liturgy. He has no bell or belfry; but he has organ, Prayerbook, clerk, reading-curate, chanting, communion table, and many other little things, which might almost make some think they were still in the National church ; while others might wonder where they were got to; for he told me himself, that he had three services, and
at one of them he preached in his surplice, at another he preached in his gown, and at another he simply stood up in his black coat. “The Popery the people talk of,” said this spirited minister, “is neither in the dress, nor in the church, it is in the false doctrines; it is there where the devil blinds and deceives the people.” And it is amazing how deluded even those people are, who make great professions of the Gospel. Why, an enlightened mind can scarcely credit one half of what we are obliged to hear, and see, and know in these days of “genteelly returning back to Romanism." Here is an instance: close beside, or near unto this “Trinity Free Church of England” stands another called “The Congregational Church;” and a grand building it is. Its tower and spire reacheth high up toward the heavens, and its whole exterior and interior is of the highest order. Every stranger would decidedly conclude it was “A district church.” Its minister wears his beautiful gown, and on special occasions, he takes numerous little lovely infants into his arms, and sprinkles, and christens them, and thereby initiates them into the Christian church; the dear mothers and tender nurses feeling assured as they take them from that ceremony, that their babies are now in a much safer and holier position than they were before. But an old minister's wife asked one of these ladies who was so highly delighted with the “amiable appearance" of this Congregational clergyman, and so enamoured with the graceful style in which he held and sprinkled the darlings, that made some fear she thought much more of the sweet clergyman than she did of “Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” To this lady of all ladies, the old minister's wife said, “I do not believe those christening services have any foundation or authority in the Word of God; no, none whatever;" which startling assertion to the half-blinded devotee, appeared too shocking to be received in any other way than by a flirt, and a flying from the scene of discussion. A discussion I will not enter upon any further now, for it is futile and mischievons; and we live in days when the sprinkling of infants is more than ever popular, while the disposition to despise those ministers and churches who abide by the plain New Testament order, grows stronger on every hand; and the Open-communion medium is, in tens of thousands of cases, most highly appreciated.
The Saturday morning, the Saturday evening, and the Sabbath which followed, were seasons to be cherished in sacred remembrance for long time to come. As I stood by the communion table, as they call it, in that church, I saw the procession approach, and in the face of the bride, I saw the strong features of the deceased father re-engraved by Nature's powerful hand so correctly, that the sight touched my heart; and for a moment threatened to prevent my proceeding with the service; but, while all stood silently waiting for the commencement of a service in every way interesting and solemn, I said, “Let us ask God for His presence and blessing;” and by opening my heart and my mouth before the Lord, I recovered my strength; but, truly, I felt, "The memory of the just is blessed;" and when we see the holy and happy features of the departed parent raised up again in the blooming offspring; the sight to sensitive spirits is grateful and good. That father to whom I refer, was a man of God indeed. He was a kind of Elijah over again. He believed firmly all the doctrines of Divine Grace; he prayed unto his heavenly Father fervently and frequently; he lived a life of faith upon the Son of God; and, without prejudice, or undue exaltation of the creature, I may say, he walked in all the ordinances of the Lord's house blameless. His children revere his memory, and deeply mourn his loss unto this day.
He had set his house in order. He had gradually retired from the world. He had reached a ripeness of age, yet none expected his end ; but one Christmas-day, in driving some of his children out, the horse fled away, the fright touched his heart, in his own little chariot he fell back, and breathed his last ; in a moment, it was "absent from the body, and present with the Lord,"—and here I pause.
The Relative Characters of Christ.
66 Thou art the Christ.”—Matt. xvi. 16. What a statement for sinful man to make ! how unlike the language of flesh and blood ! surely it is the utterance of a lesson taught by the great Teacher, and learned by a highly favoured scholar. Yes, this is true; for Christ says of the man who speaks such a glorious confession, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” Hence, if you from your heart can give expression to this distinguished acknowledgment of the Sent of God, who was and (to such as are in nature's darkness) still is “as a root out of a dry ground, he hath no form nor comeliness," it must be by the revelation of the Spirit of all Truth ; for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.”—1 Cor. xii. 3. See also 1 John iv. 15. Nor can I write or you read of so sublime a character with true pleasure and profit, but by the same Agency.
The subject is placed before us by the evangelist Matthew in a most interesting form, chap. xvi. 13th to 20th verse, and shews to us the world's carnal and unsettled, as well as the believer's spiritual aud established view of Christ,—“Thou art the Christ.”
What a beautiful fulfilment does this confession give to us of Isaiah's words, when in his prophetic language he says, “ My people shall know my name ;” and this has ever been the sweet experience of those of whom it so clearly speaks. They have known its meaning, felt its power, rejoiced in its efficacy, realised its preciousness, and often have sung of its value and life-giving power in the words,
Jesus, the name that charms our fears,
'Tis life and health and peace. Let our thoughts now dwell upon some points in relation to the Christ of God, the true Messiah, as he stands in relation to His people.
I.-As the anointed Corner Stone ; or as Isaiah directs our attention to the great truth that Christ was set apart to this sacred position, in those beautiful words, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation !" On which all that the believer is or has, which is of real worth, must rest every grace, must spring from and rest on the immovable Rock. This