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nothing but death: the dead burying the dead; and furthermore, as in the sight of God, we solemnly believe, that all that the true ministers of the gospel speak and write, which the Spirit doth not speak into them, and speak out by them, is death!) and is distressing to the church of God, rather than a comfort to her.
In taking a broad view on both continents, and of our own island, we see but little with which to congratulate the household of faith. Truth, like an innocent virgin, is insulted, and fallen in our streets. Error and Antichrist, with many faces, are rampant. Herein then, rests our consolation, that "God is love" and changeth not. Neither the fall of non-elect angels; the fall of Adam; the prevalency of sin; the solemn circumstances connected with time; the changes of the creature in time nor all the changes in our feelings, can possibly change the nature, will, and purpose; of God's love in Christ towards us, which he purposed in himself before the world was.
Then, when destructions fly abroad,
Melt earth, and seas, and skies;
Our souls shall live in Christ our Lord,
"God is love,”—God is light-God is a holy fire, consuming his adversaries driving sin, death, and destruction into everlasting darkness; it is the holy fire of divine love alone that melts us down into nothingness in ourselves: and transforms us and moulds our souls into his image of love and holiness, so that we live in God, and God liveth in us for ever.
But in this day of darkness:-on the one hand, we hear preached and see written, little else but moral responsibility, creature piety, moral philosophy, and vain deceit; and this they call the gospel! On the other hand, we hear but little beside creature corruption, creature vileness, and death; until our ears are insulted with hearing, and our eyes jaded with reading. O what loads of dirt and dross we have to turn over, to find a few grains of the precious gold; so that we have to complain, as the builders of old, "the strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish." Nehem. iv. 10. But we would not (if we can avoid it) fill our VESSEL, either with creature righteousness, or creature corruption, these opposite themes of the day. No, no, dear children, we wish rather to fill it with Christ, in whom all holy treasures are hidden: and with testimonies of his burning, shining, blazing love and glory; so that no room shall be found in it for man's devices, or man's foul wind of pride and vain glory.
Dear brethren in the faith of God's elect: you who take this Vessel in, pray for us, for we trust that we have a good conscience in this matter, desiring to live honestly, both in the sight of God and men, as far as in us lie. Pray that we may be filled with the Spirit, and filled with all the fulness of God, that we may be humble instruments of promoting his glory, of contending for his truth, of speaking forth his gospel, and of edifying the minds, and comforting the hearts of his people.
Many of God's dear ministers and living children, are filled with prejudice against us, and our Vessel: through the length and breadth of the land, they are both publicly and privately calling upon the church to beware of us;
and they fain would drive us back into oblivion: and so keenly have we felt their smitings that many times we would gladly have retired from the conflict; and so have spent the remnant of our days in silently seeking, and worshiping that glorious Triune JEHOVAH, by whom we trust we are predestinated and redeemed unto life. But, beloved, painful and powerful as the opposition against us has been, and is; and much as we have resolved to be found only in a waiting posture before God: there has been a secret power; yea, we say it with a clear conscience before God, there has been a solemn necessity laid upon us, both to preach and to publish the grace and the goodness of our sinconquering, iniquity-covering, soul-comforting, covenant God-so that we have indeed been "pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we have often despaired of life. Standing thus on the very margin of time, on the borders of the land; we know that yet a little while, and neither the frowns nor the fawnings (Daniel xi. 34.) of either good men or bad men, will be anything to us. Truly, our "tacklings are loosed; we cannot well strengthen the mast, not easily spread the sail :" but," the great spoil is divided; the lame have taken the prey :" the archers have sorely grieved us, and shot at us; and hated us; but our bow has abode in strength; and we do humbly trust that the hands of our arms have been made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; therefore we encourage ourselves in the Lord, and say, "the LORD is our judge; the Lord is our law-giver; the Lord is our king; HE WILL SAVE US :" and all we desire beside, is to give back in gratitude and praise, what the Lord, in grace and mercy, hath given unto us.
We desire to have our VESSEL filled with Christ and his love, blood and righteousness, beauty and glory: and if you be filled with the good "spiced wine of the juice of the pomegranate," until your souls run over with his love, you will not have much room for anything beside Christ. If you be filled with the love of the Father-filled with Christ's Atonement-and filled with the comforts of the Holy Spirit, you will be stayed with flagons, and so comforted with apples, from the apple tree of life, in this dark wood, that will heal all manner of diseases, and make your soul well.
With regard to that horrible and dreadful thing sin and corruption, we are compelled to believe it from distressing experience, far beyond all that we have heard preached by any man, or seen written: yea, beyond all that we can possibly express-" For the heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it ?" But we dare not set up these things, nor the knowledge of these things as evidences or witnesses of our title to heaven, because wicked men and devils have the same; and they feel it, believe it, and tremble. But they believe against their will, and wish they could not believe it: they have no godly sorrow on account of sin: it is a dead experience, which leads them into themselves where the death-worm gnaws; but a holy, true and living experience, wrought in heaven-born souls, by the Holy Ghost, is accompanied with self-loathing, godly sorrow, mourning, sighing, and groaning with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And such souls are ultimately led out of themselves, and are led by the Spirit unto Christ and his bleeding wounds, to heal those wounds which sin hath made: they are led by the Spirit, from under the curse of the law, to Christ, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. The Spirit helps them to believe in Christ, to
love the Lord Jesus, through whom they receive peace and pardon, and the atonement; they ultimately receive Christ in their hearts, the only hope of glory, which makes their souls expand, and their poor hearts to heave with the love of Christ: they not only hear of Christ afar off, but they receive him as their life," as many as received him, to them gave he power to be
come the sons of God."
We must leave some to their own vernility, and others to their mazey windings: but it is a most solemn consideration that multitudes are set up as teachers of others, and yet know nothing savingly of the way for themselves: as John Bunyan says, "they bring mud and mire on the road, and mar it rather than mend it." Not that the king's highway needs mending, only that men's dirt and rubbish be cast out of it. "Cast ye up, the highway, lift up a standard for the people." (Isa. lxii. 10.) For the king's highway is everlasting life and love in Christ Jesus, as he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." All other ways are lies and death.
"O for a closer walk with God!
A calin, and heavenly frame;
We are persuaded that every soul born of God, would be as holy as God is, and never will be completely satisfied until it awakes up in his likeness; for although the soul is regenerated and redeemed, it is waiting for the redemption of the body and while it is in the body of this death, it cannot do the things that it would, because the old man will oppose the new man, and there will be strong conflicts between flesh and spirit, sin and grace, faith and unbelief; and sometimes through the evils of the heart, and the power of temptation, the flesh will overcome, and a child of God may fall foully. “Gad, a troop shall overcome him, but he shall overcome at the last.” But, O, what wounds, and broken bones doth sin make!
But, to conclude; we would not willingly injure any man; nor speak evil of any man; nor attempt to rival any contemporary periodical of truth; but from what we have seen, felt, tasted and handled of the word of Life, we would speak in the name of God, with reverence as in the sight of God. The Lord forbid that we should spare any Achan or Agag, if found in our camp, neither would we connive at sin, either in ourselves or others; but our prayer shall be, both for ourselves and others, moaning under sin, "spare them, good Lord: spare us, good Lord: though thou takest vengeance on our inventions." We would neither fear nor spare any man in error: but say with the ancient father Polycarpe, when the empress threatened him, "TELL THE EMPRESS THAT I AM AFRAID OF NOTHING BUT SIN."
With one other word, we conclude this brief and imperfect address. It may be asked, "for what class of persons is the Vessel designed ?" We answer-It is for the gathering in, and gathering up, the "small and despised:"- "the outcasts of Israel:"-the halt, the lame, the satan-hunted, and sin-distracted souls:-such as composed David's ragged regiment; such as are in distress, in debt and discontented; that they may find contentment only in David's Son our King, who pays all their debts, and makes them free men in his kingdom for ever.
And now, beloved, in entering upon the year of our Lord one thousand,
eight hundred, and forty-six, we pray that "grace may be shewed us from the Lord our God:" that a remnant of precious souls may be given unto us, who shall escape the pollutions of the world; the snares of the adversary, and the terrors of death: that God may give us a nail in his most holy place; and a little reviving in our bondage: that so straight paths may be made for our feet that our eyes may be kept single; our hearts decided; our consciences tender; our evidences clear; and then shall we at length join the heavenly Epithalamium.-"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sin in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever." Amen.
JONATHAN AGAINST ZACCHEUS; & ZACCHEUS'S REPLY.
Dear Sir,-While perusing several numbers of the Earthen Vessel, I thought, "Well, I do wish Mr. Banks would exercise greater discrimination in his Reviews, and shake off that seemingly fear of offending man which so evidently characterises the generality of his remarks." I pray you not to look shy upon me, for I am no Ahitophel but a real true Jonathan: my words are as a fire in my bones, consequently must come out. But in several places, sir, you really seem to agree, concur, and join with any preacher, so long as he holds and sets forth the doctrines of grace, clearly and satisfactorily: when you must be fully aware that soundness in the letter merely is no test, (although making one of the tests,) of a God-sent man. Methinks we should always look for this one thing in every man's testimony:
In it, is there to be found any traces of the man ever having been experimentally taught what he is as a sinner in the sight of a HOLY, HEART-SEARCHING AND REIN-TRYING GOD? I know this language cuts some to the quick, and for it they will call you partial, bigotted, sectarian, and narrow-minded, but however much these professors may scoff, jeer, and deride HEART-SEARCHINGS, SELF-EMPTYINGS, and SOUL-STRIPPINGS, sure I am that every living soul and every real ambassador sent of God, must be brought into the same position as Joshua (the church's type,) CLOTHED IN FILTHY GARMENTS. Oh, sir, to whom but to those who have been feelingly here, is the glorious righteousness of Immanuel, God with us, precious?
Moreover, I am confident that before any soul can be experimentaly clothed, that soul must be experimentally unclothed. Oh, that our religion may be found to stand not in the "WISDOM OF MEN," but in the "POWER OF GOD!"
Amen and amen, say I; with many sincere thanks to this real Jonathan for his plain, straightforward and honest note. He evidently writes out of the abundance of his heart; and I feel persuaded it is a heart that has been circumcised by the grace of the blessed Spirit. But what is the matter? What mere doctrinal, letter preacher is it that I have countenanced, agreed, and concurred with, that so stirs up the zeal of my brother Jonathan? Oh-that's the man-is it? Oh, oh well, but I did not fully concur, and agree with all that he has said of himself: neither did I undertake to prove that his ministry was of God; or that he was savingly born again of God the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, I thought it good to throw down, and to lay open the man's testimony before the children; in order that they might take it up, look at it, turn it over, and see if there was in it any good thing towards the Lord God of Israel. 1 think Jonathan knocks me rather hard, when he says that I am influenced by a fear of offending: it is true, Jonathan, 1 have been very careful not to say anything to disparage, or to throw contempt upon the writings of men professing to fear and serve the Lord: and it is very possible-yea, it is very certain, that there has been too much of this carefulness; and consequently there has been very much of men's works and writings given, and apparently sanctioned, that I have since deeply regretted. "Let the righteous smite me, (says the Psalmist ;) it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head." And so, blessed be God, I have found that Jonathan's smitings have done me good-and I am sure his excellent oil will never break my head, for I do know right well that no other religion than that which he so briefly, but strikingly delineates can ever stand before a Holy God. After this, I trust Jonathan will keep a watchful eye upon me, and let me hear from him again. That great grace may rest upon him, is my humble prayer.
The Certainty and the Glory, of the Spiritual and the Personal Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
DEAR BROTHER IN THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL,
You are not the only one of my friends, who have expressed a desire to know my mind upon the kingdom and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore believing it to be a subject much calculated (under the Holy Spirit,) to produce watchfulness, separation from the world, and a diligent searching of the Scriptures of truth, I purpose, if it may be the will of the Lord to spare me, to give you, from time to time, a few thoughts upon such portions of the revealed will of God, as appear to me to speak clearly and certainly respecting the coming and the character of that kingdom in which Christ will reign, "before his ancients gloriously: wherein they shall "see him as he is, and be made like unto him.”
Let me first tell you, that about six years ago, this subject laid much upon my mind; and was one which, to a very considerable extent, engaged my attention. I had at that time, a friend who studied it deeply, and felt an unusual degree of interest in the same. But, alas! he was suddenly taken out of time: a flood of most distressing evils broke in upon my soul; I was driven from one end of the land to nearly the other: my hope and my strength appeared to have perished: I became an outcast; a wretched wanderer: and, although a heart-felt love to the glorious truths of the gospel; a continued thirst for hearing and attending upon the ministry of the word, NEVER LEFT ME; still, from that time down to the present, the coming of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, into my heart and conscience, with saving, sanctifying, and delivering power, has been of such vast and vital importance, that I have looked at the Second Coming and Personal kingdom of Christ, as the Israelites might have looked across the other side of the Red Sea when they encamped before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over-against Baalzephon. Deliverance from the Egyptians was the first great matter with them: and so it was with me. Well; ten thousand times ten thousand praises unto the God of all grace, deliverance has been wrought; mercy has been shewn; hope has been given; a humble confidence has been realised: THE LORD has become my salvation: he is my strength, and my song:" surely I will prepare him an habitation: I will exalt him, saying, "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy: and in the greatness of thine excellency, thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee."
My brother; until a sinner by the blessed inward teaching and anointing of the Holy Ghost, by faith, can say, "We know that Jesus Christ is come, and hath given us an understanding to know him :" until, I say, some saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is realised in the soul, it is but