« PreviousContinue »
Yes! a God of love can only afflict his people in love, for their profit; that they may be partakers of his holiness. "Affliction for the present is not joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, it yieldeth the fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby." Let us, then, my dear friend, view Covenant Love in all that befals us. Jesus, our adorable Redeemer, was made perfect through sufferings, and did he not leave us an example that we should tread in his steps? His grace is sufficient for us now, on our journey Zionward; and a heaven of eternal glory, soon to be revealed, will abundantly and infinitely compensate for all the troubles of the way. Happy Agnes! whose little vessel has so soon been wafted into the haven of eternal rest! No storms and tempests shall ever overcloud her bright horizon! No fears or sorrows shall ever more disturb her breast! She is gone to heaven by a shorter road! and beckons us to follow,
I am glad to hear from Mr. Waller, that you are stronger than you were at Leeds-although, from your own account, I fear not much. I hope, however, yes, fervently hope, that you may be permitted to preach the gospel, and be spared to a good old age, labouring in the vineyard of the Lord, and bringing many wandering sinners to Jesus Christ. I am, through mercy, much better in health than during the winter months; but I feel to want a thankful heart. I am often cast down, when I review, first my mercies, and then my returns! Oh! how deceitful is the human heart! My comfort is, that there is a fountain filled with blood! that in this fountain I am privileged to wash, as Naaman in Jordan; that this blood alone can cleanse from all sin, and is ever open for the guilty and unclean. But here comes in another want. A more lively faith in the divine promises of pardon and acceptance through Jesus Christ-a more ardent love to my redeeming God-a more assured hope of glory. Again I receive comfort; that the Holy Spirit, who alone can work these graces in the hearts of sinners, is freely offered to all that beg of God this unspeakable gift; "ask, and ye shall receive!" Are these things so? Hath God prepared his feast, and all things are ready? Are all coming sinners welcome, who feel their burden, and look simply unto Jesus for deliverance? Then, my dear friend, let us not be faithless, but believing. Like David, let us encourage ourselves in the Lord our God. Remembering that he who hath called us is faithful, let us come to the throne of grace with humble boldness; pleading that blood which was shed for us; that righteousness which was wrought out for us; and, leaning upon the arm of our Beloved, may we and ours pass through this thorny wilderness, in faith and patience, looking to that city which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God. Mr. Atkinson is now gone to Kippax for the summer. When I see him, and relate the mournful account of dear, sweet Agnes' departure, his kind heart, I am sure, will feel a kindred feeling, for he can weep with them that weep. He is a dear, precious friend to me; and loves you and yours most dearly. Before I conclude, permit me to beg an interest in your prayers, as you have in those unworthy ones of your truly sincere, sympathizing, and affectionate Friend,
T. S. B. READE.
DEATH OF A BELOVED MOTHER.
Dec. 20th, 1844. REVEREND SIR,-The best of parents has just been removed from amongst us. We feel the privation in many respects. My dear mother was a Christian in the true sense of the word: she told us on her deathbed that she had been a seeker of the Saviour for forty years. During that time, she had experienced every state of the religious life. She had trembled, desponded, trusted, rejoiced; and, through it all, possessed such deep humility of spirit, that the good of all parties resorted to her, and were both surprised and delighted at what the Lord had done for her soul. It is but natural that we should think and speak highly of those we love. I wish to guard myself, therefore, while upon this subject, from any exaggeration; and I feel I can confidently affirm of my dear mother that, as far back as my memory reaches, perhaps for twenty-five years, I can remember her in only one point of view. Religion she deemed the one thing needful. This she followed after, and, I believe, always made everything else subservient to it. It might be said of her, that, "with purpose of heart she cleaved unto the Lord;" esteeming nothing as a sacrifice which tended to promote God's glory in the world; ever willing to give her time, her influence, her property, whenever opportunities for doing this presented themselves. In the last few months of her life, it pleased God to afflict her with much suffering, mental and bodily. He hid, as it were, his face from her-it ceased to be with her as it once was: but she said, "it was her infirmity, and she remembered the years of the right hand of the Most High." Once when her family thought her dying, and stood around her bed weeping, she turned to them affectionately, and exclaimed in the words of the hymn
"Why should we mourn departed friends,
Or shake at death's alarms?
'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to his arms."
As life drew to a close, the clouds all dispersed; and when asked whether she felt the presence of her Saviour, she meekly replied, that she could not say otherwise; and added, I think at this time, after a brief pause, "my Father, my Friend!" She died on the 11th of December last. No sigh or struggle denoted the precise moment of her departure; having literally and indeed "fallen asleep in the Lord." Well! she is now gone to her rest. She has seen the Saviour she loved so well eye She has heard the blissful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." By the grace of God she was what she was. May we all have like grace given unto us, to follow her as she followed Christ, and hereafter meet her in glory.
to eye and face to face.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "CHRISTIAN RETIREMENT."
"By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”—GAL. ii., part of the 16th verse.
WHAT declaration can be plainer than this? Surely he who runs may read; and yet, we are so much blinded through pride and unbelief, that no truth is more opposed. However, let the proud sinner say what he will, the Word of God cannot be broken. No man was ever saved by his works. Adam, had he continued innocent, would have enjoyed eternal life and happiness, as the reward of his obedience, according to the Covenant of Works; but he sinned, and all his posterity fell in him, as their federal head. If Adam, therefore, were saved, it could only be by grace through faith in the promised seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent's head.
The Law, which was given 2500 years after the Fall, was not intended to work out a sinner's salvation; but to be a mirror, in which man might behold the Divine Purity, and his own vileness. The Law was designed to work wrath, not peace in the conscience; to convince of sin, not to expiate it. By the Law is the knowledge of sin, to humble the criminal; but no knowledge of deliverance from it.
Who, then, dare seek to be justified by the works of the law, through a mutilated and partial obedience to its requirements, when it denounces death against the least transgression, even in thought and purpose? Vain is the attempt; therefore St. Paul without hesitation declares, "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified." (Rom. iii. 20.) "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. x. 4.) "The law," saith the Apostle, "is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we may be justified by faith;" it lashes our conscience with the rod of conviction; but when we come to Jesus with a broken heart and a wounded spirit, He pours into our souls the oil of joy and gladness, administers the precious cordial of his Gospel, and proclaims, in accents of mercy, pardon and peace. Thus coming to Christ, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, by whom we are led into all truth; are filled with abundant consolation, and obtain the victory over sin.
This is salvation by grace, through faith in a crucified Saviour, whose blood cleanses us from all sin, and procures our pardon; (for without shedding of blood there is no remission;) and whose spotless life and perfect obedience to the Law of God in our nature and in our stead, obtains our title to eternal life, by being imputed to us through faith. Thus we are made complete in Him, who is head over all things to his Church. Oh! my soul, what a precious salvation is this: it magnifies the law and makes it honourable; yea, infinitely more honourable than the united obedience of myriads of angels, or the destruction of a world of sinners. Thy righteousness is the righteousness of God.
This doctrine of justification by faith brings glory to God in the highest. He devised the plan; he executed it himself; and to him be all the glory. It brings comfort to man. Now we can look into the grave without fear, and into eternity with joy. We can welcome the day
when Christ shall appear in all his glory, because, being clothed in his righteousness, we shall be accepted of him, and dwell for ever with him.
Did Christ die for sin,
This blessed truth produces a hatred of sin. and shall I live in the wilful commission of it? its tremendous load, and shall I make light of it? should thus crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Justification by faith, a doctrine so full of comfort and holiness, has in all ages been violently opposed by Satan, and the carnal mind. No sinner can be truly humbled, so long as he resists this fundamental truth of the gospel; neither can any one be in the faith, whatever his profession may be, who takes advantage of this gracious doctrine to continue in sin. The Son and the Spirit, Justification and Sanctification, are inseparable; for "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;" and "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
Thus is salvation all of grace. The corner-stone is laid in grace. The whole edifice is raised by the hand of grace; and the head-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings: "grace, grace unto it."
BREAD UPON THE WATERS.
My father was the pastor of an obscure country parish in New England. He was unknown to fame, but I doubt not his name is among the brightest in the annals of heaven, if it be true that they who turn many to righteousness "shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." Content to do his Master's will, though in obscurity, he paid no court to the rich and powerful. His only ambition was to tread in the steps of Him who came to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort those that mourn. His lot was cast in a place where intemperance had made fearful ravages among husbands and fathers. He saw men, yet in the prime of life, cut down by the destroyer; and the young eagerly and madly following in their steps. His heart was touched at the view of such misery and infatuation, and he opposed his single arm against the destroyer. Long before the heart-stirring appeals of Kitteridge had come home to men's business and bosoms, or the thrilling eloquence of Edwards had enlisted the noblest spirits of our land in the cause of temperance, in that secluded spot he had advocated the doctrine of total abstinence. Fearless of reproach, he warned the wretched victims of the soul-destroying vice; he took by the hand those whom he saw blindly approaching the fearful precipice, and entreated them to pause and abstain. The decanter and glasses disappeared at his approach, and the deadly drug, so freely bestowed on every other visitor, was no longer offered to him. But he stood alone. Public opinion was against him. All, with one consent-the professed Christian as well as the scoffer-hugged the viper to their bosoms, although they were writhing in agony beneath its fangs, and the poison was already drinking up their life-blood. Finding his efforts unavailing to stay the withering step of the destroyer, the pastor turned the tide of heavenly charity towards the innocent sufferers -mothers, whom it had made more than widows; their children more than fatherless. Among those who shared his sympathy and prayers, was one, the mother of three children, whose husband was intemperate, idle, and brutal. She was uneducated, and poor indeed in this world's
goods. But she was a Christian-she opened her Bible,
"And in that charter read, with sparkling eyes,
Her figure is before me now-tall, thin, and care-worn; her hair already
"The youngest, best-beloved of all."
But God did not forget her. This young man, who had scarcely met his benefactors since his boyhood, heard of her affliction, and sought her out. As soon as the invalid was able to be removed, he took them to his own heL cheered them by his kindness, and was all to them that a son and brother could have been. Nor did his gratitude end here; but, while his life was spared, his kindness knew no pause; and, ever watchful to do good, he repaid an hundred-fold all that had, in days long past, been bestowed on his afflicted mother.
Ye, on whom the sun of prosperity yet shines without a loud, will you not be induced by this instance of God's faithfulness to his promises, to go and do likewise? Ye, who know the happiness of the favoured Sew
"Whose hearts on hearts as faithful may repose,"
remember, there are those who find the staff on which they would lean,