« הקודםהמשך »
cover to us the truth of the case. Those who are living in sin, may be said to walk in darkness, and bave no light. This is a state, which leaves them in darkness about true happiness; it leaves them to go on in deeds of darkness, and it leauls to the blackness of darkness for ever: Of such a state the apostle Paul enjoins the Ephesians to beware. Those who make a fiilser profession, and have a conversation unbecoming the Gospel, may be said to walk in darkness, and have no light. Such im. pose, on themselves, and fancy themselves in the light while they continge in darkness. “ If we say we have fellowship with bim, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.' But this is not what the Prophet means; for these persons do not fear the Lord, nor obey the voice of his servant.
But to walk in darkness, means also to walk in distressful and aflicted circumstances. The people of God are not exempted from aflliotions ; but their iniquities render such chastisements often necessary. But when the Lord does thus chastise them, it is always in love and in mercy. They are in much darkness on this account, anxious for deliverence from the rod, and in much darkness about its language and design. Thus it was with David when the Lord struck the child whom Bathsheba bare unto him. He besought God, and fasted, and lay all night upon the earth; but when the child died, he acquiesced in the will of God. When involved in such calamities, we inay well be said to walk in darkness. Hence we hear Jeremiah speaking in bis Lamentations in this manner :-“I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me and brought me into darkness, but not into light.” When the cause or design cannot be discerned by us, we may be said to walk in darkness, and to have no light. This may lead us to propose Job's enquiry and complaint, -“ My soul is weary of my life : I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say unto God, Do nol condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.
To walk in darkness may also refer to that anxious expectation of the people of God, during eventful periods, as to the designs of God, and the issue of present appearances. In times which seem pregnant with events of the greatest moment, the expecta Lions of the people of God are awakened, to view the workings of Jehovah's arm, and to observe the displays of his goodness. Whether these events be encouraging or alarming, when they seem interesting, their attention is aroused, and their hopes are elevated. Their safety itt God leads the saints to view all undis mayed. They invite others to consider his workings and his ways. To disregard the workings of his hand is a dangerous symptom. Aged Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel, though not left in darkness, would be anxious; and aged Anna, and those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, wouid be full of expectations as to the events transpiring when our Sa
viour appeared in our world. The disciples going to Emmaus, seemed to be walking in darkness, and to have no light, when they could only say of their crucified Master, we trusted that it had been be which should have redeemed Israel.
Self-righteousness produces such spiritual distress or fear. When we are disposed to justify ourselves, and take credit for our conduct, our regularity, or our diligence, spiritual pride gathers strength, we are hurt at the bumbling views others may express about us, and are ready to treat them with contempt or indignation. This seems to have been Job's way, when he uttered those complaints among his friends, which are recorded in the 23d and 2h chapters:-“Even to-day is my complaint bitter; my stroke is heavier than my groaning. O that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.” It is not likely that mere bodily affliction would have led him tbus to complain ; but though connected with this, it is evident that spiritual distress bore heaviest on his spirit: mourns an absent God. It cannot mean that be could find a throne of grace to which he might draw near, - but that the Lord tried him by withdrawing his presence, and hiding his face from them. He says, therefore, Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence : when I consider, I am afraid of him : for God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me. We hear him again complaining, and saying, “O that it were with me as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me! when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness!” — Can we suppose
that this does not express the want of the sensible manifes. tations of the divine presence? What can we understand by the candle of the Lord, which shone upon his head, the light by which he walked through darkness, and the secret of God which was with him, but the discoveries of the divine favour, and a sense of an interest in that favour? The withdrawing of the sense of these was certainly a cause for spiritual distress and despondency. Our spiritual pride and self-righteousness dishonour and rob bim of his glory; we cannot, therefore, have peace till we be humbled before God for deliverence from these.
Worldly-mindedness fosters this despondency and fear. When we are influenced by love to this world and the things of it, this often presses hard upon us. Then we are ready to faint, because things look discouraging, and are not going according to our wish. This eager attachment to the world carnalizes the mind and affections, and brings leanness into the soul, and draws a veil over our evidences. Untenderness of walk, or compliances with the world, produce it. The Lord is grieved and displeased when his people fall into sin, and associate with the worldly in any of
their ways or follies. This obscures our evidences, and must fill us with apprehension. Dejection, on account of any of God's deal. ings, will produce it. When we indulge hard thoughts of him, and think he deals hardly with us, we lose the benefit of the rod, and have less evidence that we are God's children. Till we submit, we must sigh in vain. We have also suitable counsel administered to these persons. He that is walking in this una comfortable condition, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” This is your only cure. Trust in the Lord, --stay upon him,--He will bear you up and deliver you. If
you have been dishonouring him by your self-righteousness, and your falling into sin, you must just humble yourself before him. You must trust in his name; so your iniquity will be taken away. Let not the aspect of Divine Providence disquiet you ; let the Lord be your stay, and he will strengthen your heart : "wait, I say, on the Lord.”
God will do all things well. You must then, like Jonah, in his extremity, still make application to God.' When in the fish's belly, he says, “ I am cast out of thy sight, yet will I look again towards thy holy temple.” He had been looking there bo. fore; and now he must look again. So do you look again towards his holy temple; he will save you.
REMARKS ON THE PROPER EVIDENCE OF
A WORK OF GRACE.
To the Editor. I HAVE observed that, though we are under the necessity of appealing to apostolic authority, in proof of the possibility of knowing our election of God, some writers have manifested strong objections to the propriety of ascertaining this fact in our own cases, by a conformity to their spirit and practice ; lest, as they express it, by carrying the marks of a renewed state too high, we should discourage and intimidate the weak. But it has struck myself, and probably some others, that, if it be needful to avail ourselves of the experience and testimony of the inspired writers to convince gainsayers, or to satisfy true Christians on that head, why should we hesitate to apply to others what was an evidence to them of a justified state? For can it be right or safe to try to give any satisfaction, as to this particular, in a way different from that in which they obtained it, and have stated it? Or need we fear any bad consequences to the weak and sincere, from referring them to that spirit and practice which was, with boly men of old, the satisfactory evidence of a renewed state, and of an interest in the inheritance above ?
Hluch stress is sometimes laid, by way of evidence of a work
of grace, upon the Spirit's convincing of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But it is pretty certain, that ever since the spirit of truth was poured upon the apostles, and other believers, many have been thus far convinced, by their instrumentality, that never yielded to it, nor were saved by it. * And there has, moreover, so much occurred under our own observation of a work resemba ling this, that has turned out nothing permanent and substantial, that we must probably advert to the continued effects of such conviction, in obedience, subjection, and conformity to the Divine Will, to discover, with more certainty, a genuine saving work of the Spirit from its counterfeits. - One apostle has taught us, that if we know that God is righteous, we know that every one that practiseth righteousness is born of him. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil ; .whosoever practiseth not righteousness is not of God; for he loveth him that followeth after righteousness, from the real love of it; and hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments, from such a state of mind. When We are exhorted by another to put off the old man, and to put on the new; to mortify our corrupt pașsions and inclinations; to exercise ourselves unto godliness, and to set our affections on things above, --- it seems quite natural to apply a conformity to all of this kind, to the evidence of being a new creature in Christ, which is peculiar to the man that is truly in him, by the Spirit of holiness and of life. And when a third has taught us, that adding to our faith, godliness, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, &c. is the sure way of obtaining evidence of our election, we ought to conclude, no evidence can be depended upon as authentic, where these are overlooked or neglected: and if for them to live was Christ, in order to death being a gain, it cannot be unscriptural to'unite the necessity of some such life with the evidence of a saving change in onr case also.
Nor need we, I conceive, be under any apprehensions of discouraging the sincere,' by urging to these as the prescribed way of securing legitimate proof of a justified state; because such a Jife is no more than the avowel proper use of those supplies of grace, promised and secured to all who are willing to seek them. +
It would indeed be difficult to shew a sterling undeniable work of grace, upon apostolic authority, without including in it a conformity to apostolic example. “I am crucified to the world with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I but Christ Jiveth in me; and the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God," &c. "I through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God," &c. They knew they loved their Lord, from the affection they felt for him, the delight they had ia him, and the pleasure they experienced in keeping his word. And they unquestionably meant this proof of their sincerity to be
Acts xxiv, 25
Heb. vi. 4.-6.
+ Luke xi, 9, 10 John i. 16.
applied to others, with the same view as they made use of it for themselves,
At any rate, we ought to be cautious how we propose any thing beneath this, as the trial of a gracious state, lest we make not a sufficient discrimination between such a state and what an hypocrite has been known to attain to. These have begun in the spirit
, have run well for a time, have known God, or rather been known of him, have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of Christ, have partook of the holy spirit, and tasted the good word of God, &c. from that word being sown in their leuri, and have been taken for real Christians, and treated accordingly by men of much judginent and experience in the divine life.
In a word, nothing short of sowing to the spirit, of striving to enter in at the strait gate, and of pressing toward the mark, in this way, to apprehend that for which also they were apprehended of Christ, would satisfy the apostles of the certainty of their election and calling. In the practice of this, wilh the love of Christ in their hearts, it was obvious they were under grace : and so far and so long as we follow them therein, we have an undo:bted right to conclude on the salety of our state as truly, and with the same certainty, as they. And whether this method of stating the evidence of our election do not sayour more of divine authority, is not more applicable to the case of the upright, and more likely to stir up their grace to lively exercise, than that which overlooks it, some of your correspondents, I hope, 'will take the trouble to show, the first convenient opportunity.
I am respectfully, dear Sir, yours, Knaresborough.
It is high time to awake out of sleep. - Rom. xiii. 11.
Sleer lias been justly called the Image of Death; for while the body is under its influence, there is a total suspension of animal motion ; a dişconcertment of the mental functions, and, of course, an incapacity for transacting the affairs of ordi
What sleep is to the body, sin is to the soul. It is rendered altogether lethargic by its operation ; neither terrified by the threatenings of the law, nor allured by the promises of the gospel. There is a dread insensibility pervading all its powers, notwithstanding the imminent danger to which the sinner is exposed.. Being under the condeinnatory sentence of a violated law, rendered ohtioxions to the just wrath of an offended God, an!, liable every moment to be summoned before his awful tribunal, to have the irreversible sentence past, ---surely the words address