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But 'tis surprising to us that, from all which we have written, many appear
still to remain in doubt as to the nature and extent of our creed. They seem to want a formal statement of our belief; and doubtless there are those who would like to subject us to a course of catechetical inquiry, that thereby they might pass their judgment upon us. Our imagination conjures up such a scene : we can fancy ourselves brought with due solemnity into the august presence of some stately full-grown professor, who, with pompous air and dignified demeanour, asks us who we are; whence our pedigree; and what our object ? Chilled with the coldness of our reception and the formality of his inquiries, we reply, if language fail us not, in terms equally precise, and equally destitute of
Anon, some young coxcomb of a student, with a head far better filled with mathematical problems, geographical positions, and the conflicting opinions of high-famed theologians, than a beart under the rich bedewings and gracious instructions of God the Holy Ghost, with a showy exterior assisted by artificial vision, inquires what possible pretensions men of narrow capacity, contracted information, and very. limited intellectual attainments, can have to so important a position asthat we presume to occupy ? What reply will satisfy such? Againunexpectedly we find ourselves in the company of some old dame-a very mother in Israel ; ah! now we are at home! And she begins to talk to us of the good hand of her God upon her ; how he hath led her and fed her all her life long; how he hath delivered out of this trouble, and rescued from that danger; and she tells of her quiet waiting and joyful anticipation in the prospect of home! Our hearts are warmedspirits comforted—souls enlarged—and we, too, venture to tell of the things which we have heard and seen touching the King. To such a scrutiny, however rigid, we have not the least objection !
But we hate formalities ; and, as soon as we find ourselves getting into a dry, prosy strain, we think it high time to throw down our pen, and wait the fresh springing of that water which our dear Lord says shall be in his people "a well of living water, springing up into everlasting life.” We love, by the sweet unctuous leadings of the eternal Spirit, to fetch our supplies daily and hourly from the Fountain-head. The overplus manna of yesterday serveth not for to-day: it has become insipid-tasteless. · Hence, in our anxiety, as feeble instruments, to serve out to the people that precious bread which Christ hath blessed and brake, we have neither had inclination, nor deemed it essential, to run back to the formularies of a creed ; * but have, from time to time, delivered our message simply as God has given it us, leaving it to the judgment of the discerning reader to form his estimate of what are our real sentiments.
When, in the inscrutable providence of God, the GOSPEL MAGAZINE was rescued from the hands of men professing a love and a jealousy for the truth, but who, at the same time, contended most violently against
* Some four or five years since a creed was issued, classified into little short of a hundred heads ! Its author soon after departed from the simplicity of the truthbroached some error-and died insane! At which we marvel not.
men of truth ; when, by the veriest accident (as we term it), the editorship fell into our hands and that, too, under the most disadvantageous circumstances, considering that we were totally ignorant of how the Magazine had been conducted during the few previous months, and almost as much so of the manner of its existence even prior to that
period; many inquire"Whose son the stripling is?' (Sam. xvii. 56). What is hema Churchman or a Dissenter?-a Baptist or an Independent ? -a bastard Calvinist or a man of sterling truth, advancing as far as the Holy Ghost has led him, and no farther? What are his views ? Has he
any fixed principles? Does he not seek to avoid controversy, in order to please all parties-to offend none, and thereby sell the Magazine ? Is not this his opening Address (see June No., 1840) a piece of cant-a species of religious deception? In a word, does he speak from the head or the heart ?" These and such like interrogatories, we presume-we know-have dropped from the lips of some of the Magazine's old supporters.
Ye that charge us with propagating dangerous doctrines-doctrines that are calculated to apologize for and encourage sin-point us to the man or the woman that is living in the habitual practice of sin, under refuge of these doctrines ; AND WE WILL POINT YOU TO A MAN OR A WOMAN (as the case may be) THAT IS AWFULLY DELUDED-HAS TAKEN SHELTER IN A REFUGE OF GREAT ADVERSARY-AND HAS TOTALLY MISCONSTRUED THE SUBJECTMATTER OF OUR PEN; WE WILL POINT YOU TO ONE WHO, IF A CHILD OF GOD, WILL BE BROUGHT BACK WITH WEEPING-WITH BITTERNESS OF SPIRIT—WITH ANGUISH OF SOULAND WITH BROKEN BONES ; WE WILL POINT YOU TO ONE WHO, IF NOT A CHILD OF GOD, ONE STANDING IN NAME ONLY, WHO HAS CLIMBED OVER THE WALL AS A THIEF AND A ROBBER, AND NOT COME IN BY THE DOOR INTO THE SHEEPTO SUCH A
ONE, WE WOULD POINT, AND SAY, WOE, WOE, BE TO THAT MAN OR WOMAN, WHOSOEVER HE OR SHE MAY BE !" FOR SUCH AN AWFUL PRESUMER WE TREMBLE !
Sirs, we insist upon fruit; we contend for it as strongly as the most sainted Arminian—the most dignified free-will man, in existence; we know as well as they do, that "faith without works is dead;” and are quite aware that the tree is only to be “known by its fruits,” and that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit :" but betwixt their creed and ours there is this point—this vital point-of difference; while they come with their fruit (such as it is) to strew the pathway to the gate of life, we insist upon it as a living proof and testimony of having entered into life, or rather of eternal life having entered into them, which is Christ himself being formed in their hearts the hope of glory. According to ancient settlements, a marriage union has taken place between Christ and his church ; the bride is raised from her degradation, misery, and woe, and “ made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ;” therefore she must be, and is, clad in her royal attire ; covenant relationship has been ratified, nor is the bride ashamed to claim affinity to her beloved Lord ; the branch that was cut off from the old Adam-stock is grafted into the
good Olive-tree, and as a necessary consequence must grow and bring forth fruit, "unto the praise of the glory of his grace wherein she (the church) hath been made accepted in the Beloved.”
But, as this is the first Number in a new year, we sat down with the intention of for once gratifying the wishes of the curious, by a statement of our creed. We are not ashamed of our principles; blessed be God, the opinions, as far as they extend, which we are about to express, are not the opinions of a day, or a month, or a year, but they are such as we have been slowly learning, under the ministry of the Holy Ghost, during the last fifteen years.
As then you want to know our creed—the ground we go upon what you have had, and what you are still to expect, in the Magazine, we will tell you very briefly, that-We believe “ that there are Three which bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;" that they are co-equal and co-eternal, dwelling in an incomprehensible Three-in-one and One-in-three Jehovah. How they dwell we know not, but that they do dwell we entertain not the shadow of a doubt ; and why? Because it is declared in the word, and because the Trinity is so stamped in our hearts, as neither earth nor hell can ever erase. We have approached the Father through the Son, and by the sweet leadings of God the Holy Ghost; we know the Father's love, the Son's redemption, and the Spirit's applicatory work ; and therefore we beliere in, worship, and shall ere long, in heaven's glory, adore, a glorious Trinity in Unity and a Unity in Trinity.
We believe in the ancient settlements between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, to redeem and save, out of the ruins of the fall, a people formed for himself; whom God the Father loved with an everlasting love, and gave over to God the Son to redeem; whom God the Son received at the hands of the Father, and, as their Divine Surety, undertook their cause ; whom in the fulness of time he bought out of the hands of Divine justice, and whose precious blood the eternal Spirit applies with efficacious power; clothing the naked souls of his redeemed in the righteousness of the God-Man, leading on from strength to strength, and finally completing the work of
in eternal glory.
We believe that the rest of mankind were passed by, and left to the consequences of the fall ; that the blood of the Redeemer was shed for his elect, and for his elect only; that every one for whom he died shall, in the Lord's own time, be effectually called out of darkness into light
-out of nature into grace-out of death into life; that they shall be led on in time, supported and supplied through time, and be eternally glorified after time.
We believe the regenerating work of the Holy Ghost, set forth in Scripture as a new birth, to be a new birth—unto righteousness ; mere reformation of the old Adam-nature, but the absolute calling forth out of a death in trespasses and sins, and imparting new life, separate and distinct from that derived from a union to the first Adam. the inquiry, “ What do we see in the Shulamite ?-as it were the company of two armies; from which arises the conflict, the unceasing
warfare spoken of by the apostle in the seventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, and confirmed by the daily experience of every trueborn heir of glory.
We believe that the offences against the moral law lighted upon the head, and were laid to the charge, of our adorable Surety, who, having magnified and made it honourable, hath blotted out the hand-writing which was against us, and introduced us to a new and a better covenant. It was a debt contracted prior to our open espousals to the heavenly Bridegroom, which he having paid to the satisfaction of Divine justice, we are free-we have no more to do with it as a covenant. “ Ye are not under the law," says the apostle, “but under grace." Having received a new law of faith and love, we are desirous of walking in a course of holy obedience to the righteous mind and will of our beloved Husband. As the fruit of his “great love wherewith he loved us when dead in sin,” and in our desire to show forth his loving-kindness in “calling us out of nature's darkness into his marvellous light,” and “betrothing us unto himself in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies,” we seek to testify our love, and show our sense of his great goodness, by a holy life, walk, and conversation.
The pringrace which he implanted in our hearts when first he revealed himself to us, has caused us to hate sin; to declare war against it; to mourn when it in any measure obtains the mastery over us; to long for deliverance from it; and to hail with a holy anticipation the dawning of that celestial day when the Master shall come and pull down the clay tabernacle when he shall free us from a body of sin and death; a day when our blessed Bridegroom shall appear, and, in accents of sweetest tenderness with his own loved voice, exclaim, “ Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
We believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost; but into what is commonly called adult or water baptism, our minds were never led. Nevertheless, seeing the best of men have held this an important feature of their creed, we contend not the point. We say, let every man be thoroughly persuaded in his own mind; and if, by prayer and fervent wrestling, his mind is so led, we should be sorry to interfere.*
And now what more shall we say ? Does not what we have advanced embody all ? But there is one point--a favourite point of discussion in the former series of the Magazine-the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ. Many will be ready to inquire, “Ah! do you believe in that, Mr. Editor ?" To which Mr. Editor replies, he does not. He has never read half-a-dozen pages upon the subject, being amply satisfied with the plain scriptural testimony of the incarnation of the Son of God, as described by the evangelists under the inspiration of the Bible's Divine Author, God the Holy Ghost. As for the previous appearance of the Angel of the Covenant, the God-Man Christ Jesus, as referred to in several parts of the Old Testament—an argument commonly used by
* We, however, hesitate not to state that, as a matter of principle, we publicly dedicate our infant children to God; and we sanction the use of water as an outward symbol expressive of our fervent desire that, in the Lord's good time, the child may be "saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus, iii. 5).
the advocates of the Pre-existent scheme--we believe that it was no difficult matter with Him“ for whom are all things, and by whom are all things," to assume humanity, at any time prior to the arrival of that day when, according to eternal purpose, he should “pass by the nature of angels, and take on him (he does not now assume”) the seed of Abraham ;" be “ fashioned as a man;" and come in the " likeness of sinful flesh.”
Lastly—and oh! this is a vital question with many—“What are you, Mr. Editor, a Churchman or a Dissenter?” Ah! there's the secret! Well, then, in, the strict sense of the word, we are neither. “Neither!” No, not either. We cannot approve of the bigotry of the High-churchman any more than we can join hand in hand with the general Dissenter. The former carries himself with a demeanour almost paramount to the Popish dogma of “no salvation except within its pale; " the other, in his anxiety to rid himself of pecuniary obligations, would, with a reckless impetuosity, level her ancient walls, regardless of the consequences. Endeavouring, therefore, to avoid each extreme ; with much on either hand that we should gladly see different; wè seek—and when we find, we offer the right hand of fellowship unto -men of truth, either in or out of the Establishment. Our principle, as we have long since stated, is with such upon minor points to differ, and agree to differ--to sink the less, in order to establish the greater, the more momentous subject of a full, free, and complete salvation to all the objects of eternal love, whether found under a church or a chapel roof!
Dear reader, farewell! Jehovah--Father, Son, and Holy Ghostgrant thee a new-year's gift ; be with thee, sustain thee, and comfort thee through the year! If 1842 is to be the privileged year that commemorates thine exit from earth, and entrance into glory, we say, hail, happy saint! if its termination finds thee still in the wilderness, the Lord give thee in the retrospect abundant reason to exc'aim, “ He hath done all things well !--He hath guided me by the skilfulness of his hand!"
THE UNSEASONABLE WEATHER, AND THE COMMERCIAL
CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY. As the feeblest instruments, we call upon men of truth, both publicly and privately, to remember before God the present state of our once highly-favoured Britain. Our ardent desire is, that he would condescend to pour out upon his people a spirit of grace and supplication on behalf of our guilty land ; for surely none with the fear of God sensibly alive in their hearts,. can behold, unmoved, the evident tokens of his righteous displeasure. A large portion of vegetation is under water; potatoes to the value of five millions sterling are said to be flooded; trade is so distressingly bad, that thousands of the poorer classes are thrown out of employment ; many factories, we are informed, are kept
* Though the Lord Jesus Christ took upon him our nature, he was free, except by imputation, from its contamination. “He knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”
He was holy, harmless, undefilerl, and separate froin sinners.”