Are we not

church at Ephesus, left our first love. (Rev. ii. 4.) often saying, "O that I were 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?" (Job xxix. 2, 3.) Have we not departed in heart and affections greatly from the Lord, and gone after other lovers? Was there not a time when the house of God, or place of worship, was our delight? How we longed for the Sabbath morning to come, that we might hear what the Lord would say to us through his servants! Have we not sometimes felt the Lord's sweet presence, which has enabled us to take our harps down from the willows, and sing with the poet:

"Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,

And sing thy great Redeemer's praise;
He justly claims a song from thee;
His loving kindness, O how free."

At such times, has he not been more to us than everything beneath the sun? Have we not thus, constrained by love, cheerfully taken up our cross and followed the Lord through the ordinance of baptism, and to his table; and felt that the agonies he endured on the cross were to put away our sins? Then could we not feelingly say:

"Through fire and flood, if Jesus lead,

I'll follow where he goes."

But, alas! alas! how is it now? Are not our minds again sadly entangled with the things of time and sense? Is there not a needs-be for the Lord to come and turn out the idols which have crept into our hearts? Even when in the sanctuary, do we not find our minds are wandering, like the fool's eye, to the end of the earth, planning this, that, and the other thing? And O! what coldness and indifference there seem in the things of God! If we ask ourselves the question, whether, when able, we always fill our seats in God's earthly courts, as often as the doors are opened, must we not confess we do not? Have we not sometimes said, "I feel too tired to go;" or, "It looks like rain;" or, "I expect some friend to call; and I should like to be at home?" What would the martyrs have said to such excuses as these? They met together in sheds, caves, and different places, at the peril of their lives. How little of that kind of religion is to be found in these days! I believe many neglect the ordinances of God's house for fear of the frowns of those around them. What! ashamed to follow in the footsteps of the Lord of life and glory, because of frail man, whose breath is in his nostrils? God says, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels." (Mark viii. 38.)

May the Lord enable us to look right on, and not to turn to the right hand or the left; but to say, "Choose thou the path for


"Choose thou the way, but still lead on."

Can we wonder at the church of God being in such a low place, when the means that God himself has appointed are lightly esteemed? Do we not often seem going hand in hand with the men of the world? O that we could live more separate from them! For O! what death we find association with them brings into our souls! Yea, we are compelled to say, with the prophet Isaiah (xxiv. 16), "My leanness! my leanness! Woe unto me! The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously," &c. O may the Lord enable us who are his people to unitedly pray for an outpouring of his Holy Spirit upon us. He has promised to hear the petitions of his children. Yea, he delights to hear and answer them when they ask in real sincerity for those things that shall be for their soul's good and his honour and glory.

What is the reason we bear so little fruit? Is it not greatly because the throne of grace is not oftener resorted to, and God's precious Word searched with more earnestness? He has said, "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." And God's shalls and wills, as the poet says, are “Firm as the everlasting hills.”

Do we not from our hearts feel there is a cause why we are so often afflicted and tried? And can we not at times bless the Lord for the means he uses to wean us from the world, and to make us sick of sin, and everything but himself, however mortifying to flesh and blood? Does not our inmost soul say, "Make me right, Lord, whatever it may cost me; and don't let me be a fruitless branch. And if losses, crosses, trials, temptations, and afflictions will be profitable to my soul, and are needful to make me bear fruit to thy honour and glory, thy will be done. Only remember that I am dust and ashes, and give me strength to bear up under them. Do thou be my All, and I crave no more; for, having Jesus, I have an exhaustless store."

Do we not at times long for the time to come when we shall lay down this clayey tabernacle, and be free from this body of sin and death, which plagues us from day to day? What hidden evils seem daily rising and trying to triumph over the little spark of grace. This makes us cry out,

"Can ever God dwell here?" But even this will work for our good. It will be the means of showing us what we are in and of ourselves, and will make us realize our dependence upon divine aid; feeling that if left one moment, our sinful hearts would lead us astray. And it will further make us long for the time of dissolution; knowing that then we shall be captivated no more, but be taken to the haven of peace and rest, where we shall dwell for ever with Him who is "the Chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." "There we shall tune our harps afresh,

And sing for evermore.

For there will be no more the Canaanite in that land of peace, that house of the Lord.




"Whilst the long cloud of witnesses Shows the same path to heaven." My very dear esteemed Friend,-I hope I am not a burden to you, dear brother. I think you have enough burdens without my adding to them. I do hope you will tell me if I take too much upon me. You have been much on my mind, particularly last Tuesday; and if you can spare a moment I should like to know how it fared with you, and also what times are going over your head. We were disappointed not to be with you in the flesh. I trust there was a meeting and uniting with you in spirit; and several times through the day I retired to try and entreat the Lord to think upon you. That word dropped in a little sweetly: They without us should not be made perfect." I thought our dear friends will get on without us to-day, but not by-and-bye; for if so, then would the assembly be imperfect; for I must still hope my precious soul will be gathered with the Lord's people when I have done gathering with them here below. I was glad also to hear you were remembered at the prayer-meeting here in the same hour. Shall we see anything published? I have thought it would prove perhaps interesting if some little account of the centenary services was published, together with a little of the history of both places of worship, yours and ours, and of the goodness of God so long continued to each. I suppose there are very few chapels in the land of so long standing where the truth is still preached. "How is the gold become dim!"

I feel too poor, or perhaps not poor enough, to write. If I could, I might tell you I get more vile and poor every day I live. Then I wonder where and how it will end. Indeed and indeed, of all I shall die most deeply indebted to God; and may I not Glory in the thought,


That I shall owe him most."

And is not God honoured thereby? What think you ?

You may have heard what is left on record of Alexander. One of his favourites being in straitened circumstances, makes his case known to his friend, the emperor, who gave him leave to draw on his treasurer to what amount he chose. In his sovereign's name, he goes and demands £10,000; which the secretary refuses, till he had seen the king, who at once commands him to pay it, saying, "I am delighted with my friend. He does me great honour by asking such a sum; thereby he shows what ideas he has of my royal munificence." Though I have no need to quote the words of the King of kings to my beloved brother, "Open thy mouth wide," yet I have need enough of the exhortation myself; for though of all the most needy, yet I often feel of all the most prayerless. Still, blessed be God, I trust I know at times the difference. It is as though my poor soul was all prayer. As David hath it, “But I prayer" (Psalm cix. 4. margin); or as poor dear Ruth Bryan says, "My heart would keep on talking to God," after being five hours on her knees.

Since writing (in bed) the dear children of God have been gathered here for worship. Mr. Chappell preached, and baptized a young man from Swindon, a thing quite unusual here as not taking place on the Sabbath. This evening is the prayer-meeting, and to-morrow Mr. Warburton will (D.V.) be with us. Four days in succession the doors opened. The walls were not, we hope, built to no purpose. To-morrow you will be at Grittleton. Had it not been so, dear mother and sister would most likely have been with you. As for myself, I am often shut out. May the Lord be with you, my dear friend, and bless your message. I trust I picked up a crumb in that chapel many years ago from the lips of your predecessor. I am often now deprived of meeting with those I love. I was much disappointed the day you were at Dauntsey. Why could you take the pains to come out of your way and toil up the hill to come and preach to such a black wretch in his sick chamber? Was it because of the love of your heart towards such a one, of all the most worthless, yet one whom you kindly call your "poor afflicted brother"? It has sent the water into my eyes thinking of another who went out of his way, and toiled, worn and wearied with his journey, to preach from an unworthy pulpit to a poor black adulteress. But though her skin may have been blacker, and her outward life may have been darker than mine, yet her inward part was not, I think, half so dark. A word of good John Newton's has often moved me to tears. The dear good man says, "But here let me be silent (he is speaking of himself); but let me not be silent from the praise of that grace that could atone, that blood that could expiate, such sins as mine." I know not whose choice it was that the inscription on Hart's stone should contain the dear man's own words:

"O bring no price; God's grace is free

To Paul, to Magdalene, to me;

[ocr errors]

but I have thought a more suitable one could not well have been chosen. And it has been sweet to my poor sin-stained soul to remember such great sinners were pardoned, though I can give place to none as "the chief of sinners." Paul may have been so in his day; but that was before my time. Though I have been trying to tell the Lord for 20 years what a sinner I am, yet I seem farther from the end of my tale than ever. And is this all? No; indeed it is not. When I have told him what a black and ugly wretch I am, and what a sad pitiable plight I am in, then how sweet to tell him of his mercy, and how he loves to extend it, and that he is just such a great Saviour" as I need.

[ocr errors]

I have passed another milestone on my wearisome journey. "Forty years didst thou sustain them;" and forty save one has the God of Israel sustained the poor worm who writes in the wilderness. Forty years long was he grieved with them; and thirty-nine years have I been sinning against the God who gave me breath, and who is the kind giver of all my mercies. He has been a good God to me, my dear friend, all my life long. He


has borne with me, and borne me up, and brought me on till now; and here I am, a debtor to mercy alone." Mercy began; mercy is carrying on; and mercy, I trust, will close the scene. But I will burden you no more. Do, dear friend, try and bear with my poor medley. My mind is so enfeebled, I seem to have no power to think, and you have a sample of my confusion before you. My very kind love and sympathy to your dear afflicted partner; also yourself. The Lord himself be with you, and I am, my dear Mr. Hemington,

bless you.

Your most unworthy friend,


Clack, Aug. 2nd and 3rd, 1880. P.S.-Pray for a poor worm. Pray for poor Zion. Pray for poor guilty England.

My dear Sister Eliza,-We have been thinking it was your turn to write; but my wife says you sent two sermons last, for which I thank you. Fresh sermons are of some value, as our folks often say to me, You have read that before. They are eager, too, when the " Gospel Standard" arrives, to read it. Thus those sermons given in it are read before the Sabbath; so that when the Sabbath comes we are at a loss to know what to read that will be suitable and most productive of spiritual instruction and edification.

I sup

How are you getting on in spirituals and temporals? pose we are four thousand miles apart, and shall never see each other in the flesh again; but it is a great mercy to be brought to know, or be acquainted with the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. The first branch of this knowledge has to us been very painful, because we had sinned against him, and had brought ourselves into everlasting condemnation. His manifested displeasure against all manner of sin burnt up all our fleshly hopes and fleshly refuges; and we were obliged to stand naked before him, with nothing but our crimes left us, and our mouth stopped, and hell opened to receive us at our coming. The Spirit of grace then moved us to cry out for mercy and salvation, though we could not see, and did not know of any way by which it could honourably and justly be extended to us. Yet there was a hidden way, known to the Most High, whereby he could honourably and justly rescue, pluck, deliver, and eternally save a most righteously law-condemned wretch, and adopt an enemy into the family of God, and truly reconcile a natural opposer, and make him a real friend of God in his law and gospel; and all through the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of his dear Son. This we had possibly heard of; but could not see into or believe in. But when the rescue was accomplished, the salvation tasted, was not mercy sweet, and salvation great, and all God's judgments right? You know it was. As Jesus is revealed in his glory as a Saviour, and in his adorable offices, so he is God's way; his just way, his honourable way, his merciful way, his gracious way, adorable, strong,

« VorigeDoorgaan »