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premature speculation to be talking and preaching about his glorious Second Coming: therefore let me preface this, my first epistle, with a few words descriptive of the character and condition of those happy souls of whom the Lord himself did speak, when he said, "And THEY THAT WERE READY, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut." Oh, what a closing up of the Gospel dispensation will that be!

The words which I have just quoted (out of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins,) were dropped with softness and sweetness, into my soul on the afternoon of Friday, the 28th of November, 1845; just before setting out for Camberwell to preach. A few thoughts with which my soul was then most sweetly favoured, shall here follow.

First: I looked at the word, "THEY."—" They that were ready." Who these people are; and what it is that shall make them ready to go in with him to the marriage, are most certainly subjects that can never be top deeply, nor seriously canvassed; nor our personal interest in them too frequently inquired after.

While thinking of the word, "They :" that is, of the people, my mind was arrested by the description which the Holy Ghost gives you in the 72nd Psalm, of the kind of materials, or persons, or characters, of which the kingdom of Christ shall be composed. First, of Christ it is said, “ And he shall live:" that is, manifestly, gloriously, triumphantly: "and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba." This language is figurative; but, I believe it is most beautifully descriptive of the eternal origin, spiritual character, and ultimate destiny of the whole redeemed church of God.

Why is the word Sheba employed? It certainly does not mean that material gold shall be given to Christ! Oh, no; there is a most deep and holy mystery couched in this figurative expression. You know Solomon says " "If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest for her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then, then, shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord: and find THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD."

The knowledge of God is, by the diligent, Spirit-taught man, to be found in the Scriptures of truth, and in the experience of the soul.

Come, then, with me back to the beginning of the history and the mystery of this word Sheba.

In the 21st chapter of Genesis, the Holy Ghost begins it. He says, "It came to pass that Abimelech and Phicol, the chief captain of the host, spake unto Abraham, saying, "God is with thee, in all that thou doest." What an expression to preface their speech with! "GOD IS WITH THEE, IN ALL THAT THOU DOEST." You may depend upon it, something of heavenly and divine importance to the church of the living God is contained here. Who is this Abimelech-and, who is this Phicol, that thus come to Abraham? The importance of their names, (as given by the Hebrew scholar,) appears to be full of expression and divine glory. Abimelech being interpreted, means "The father of the King" and Phicol means, 'The mouth, or the tongue of all." We are told that Abimelech was king of Gerar: now Gerar denotes a pilgrimage, a combat, or strife. The

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intercourse between the Lord God and Abimelech seems to bespeak an interest in the divine favour. God came to Abimelech in a dream by night. God held Abimelech back from sinning against him; God witnessed to the integrity of his heart, and the innocency of his hands: and God healed him. (Gen. xx.) Further, we read that Abimelech and Phicol came to Abraham and said, "God is with thee in all that thou doest. Now, therefore, swear unto me here by God, that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's sons," &c. And Abraham swear unto him." I believe in my very soul that Abimelech is here a type and figure of the majesty of the holy law of God in its coming to our spiritual Abraham, (the Lord Jesus Christ.) Hence, the Holy Ghost says that when Abimelech came to Abraham demanding Abraham to swear faithfully to him that is expressive of the law's demand for a perfect obedience and fulfilment of its commands; when Abimelech thus came to Abraham, "Abraham reproved Abimelech, because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away?" What well was this? Who were Abimelech's servants? How was this well violently taken away? The well is the everlasting love of God: this existed before the church of God had a being. The three Persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, in their several works in the bringing elect sinners to glory, are designated "The wells of salvation"-because, as I humbly apprehend, in the electing love of GOD THE FATHER-in the atoning blood of GOD THE SON-and in the regenerating and sanctifying powers of GOD THE ETERNAL SPIRIT, there are depths which never can be fathomed, and a glorious fulness that never can be diminished: these are the wells of the Lord's people's salvation, the springing-up of which is and shall be found in their souls even unto eternal life. But what well was it of which Abraham spake unto Abimelech ? Joseph, as a sweet and holy type of Christ, is said to be a fruitful bough by a well, by which it was so richly watered, that his branches run over the wall." This well is the electing love of God. "That is the well," (says the Holy Ghost,) "whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Gather the people together, and I will give them water." Yes, this is the precious well which was opened up in the glorious person of Christ, to which God's Israel are to be gathered-and it is out of this well that God will give them water; that is, spiritual and eternal life, with all the cleansing and comforting mercies therewith connected. (Numbers xxi. 16, 17.) Oh, how beautifully is the decision and the success of the Gospel Ministry set forth by Abraham's servant, who, on being commissioned to go forth to get a wife for Isaac, comes up to this well: and, said he, Behold, I STAND HERE by the well of water." "Here he Stood-here he prayed mightily unto God-here he found Rebekah-he saw the hand, and realised the faithfulness of God. Ministers of the Gospel! Have ye come up to this well? Depend on it, the bride, the elect church, is no where else to be found.

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But Abraham said, Abimelech's servants had violently taken away the well. Who were Abimelech's servants? If Abimelech, (the Father of the King), was typical, though it be only in name and office, of the holy

majesty of God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, then his servants are his own elect: who by reason of their fall into, and their abominable practice of sin and iniquity, took away, or stopped up, the well of electing love : for, although its sovereign course could never be resisted, yet the church having fallen into sin, rebellion, and pollution, up to glory, in her fallen state, she could never come: until sin be virtually and eternally removed from her, God's everlasting love could never flow down to her: the scriptures— (condescending to our weak capacities, in the developement of the operations of God's everlasting love unto his chosen in Christ)-do speak as though this well was taken away; that is, its mouth was closed. In the 63rd of Isaiah, this apparent suspension of the flowings of God's everlasting love unto his people, is thus spoken of by the Lord Christ himself: "I looked; and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury it upheld me:" so in the 5th of the Revelations ; and in many other parts. But whether the law and divine justice, are not rather there set forth; or sin and satan; as the instruments of taking away the well; are matters I will not insist upon. Abraham brings a sacrifice-"for these seven ewe lambs," (said Abraham to Abimelech) "shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well; wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; (that is, the well of the OATH :) "Thus," says the Holy Ghost," they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: and Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba"-that is-Christ, our spiritual Abraham (see Luke xvi. 22 to the end), having engaged to make one perfect offering for sin, and thereby covenanting to open a fountain to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did thereby plant his own church-his garden-(all the trees of righteousness which the Father had given unto him,) in the covenant of grace; in the mystical and spiritual Beer-sheba; and there his intercessory work begun; "there he called upon the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." Genesis xxi. 33.

By the gold of Sheba, then, which is to be given unto Christ, (Psalm lxxii. 15.) I do understand, the children of God, who, from everlasting have been planted and provided for, in that covenant which is ordered in all things and sure.

God's elect family, Christ's redeemed sheep; the subjects of regenerating grace, are called "the gold of Sheba." See how beautifully and lovingly Christ speaks of his sheep: He calls them his fruit-" My fruit," says he, " is better than gold; yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness; in the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance. And I will fill all their treasures." Our glorious and precious Christ is the Tree of Life: his fruit is the purchase of his blood; they are living branches of Him, the living Vine: and he, declaring the glory which they shall have with him, says, "they are better than fine gold." Oh, how strong is the language of my dear old prophet and companion in tribulation, Jeremiah! afflicted soul seemed ready to burst with the two-fold view he had of the Church of Christ: "THE PRECIOUS SONS OF ZION," says he, "comparable

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tɔ fine gold; how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers; the work of the hands of the potter!" Poor earthen pitchers, indeed! oftimes without a drop of spiritual moisture within them; seemingly made to be broken and dashed to pieces by sin and satan; and yet, withal, they are "the precious sons of Zion; comparable unto fine gold." Wherefore are they comparable unto fine gold?

They are comparable unto fine gold, first, because they are secretly hidden, buried up, and covered with the ore of sin and a fallen nature: so that although the God of Israel has thousands of elect vessels of mercy laying among the ruins and the rubbish of the fall; and although they are eternally predestinated and redeemed unto life; yet, while deeply buried in their unregenerate state, no one can see that they are of the gold of Sheba. Secondly, because they are powerfully brought forth out of the dark cavern, the deep pit of sin and iniquity, by the Almighty voice and power of the eternal God. Thirdly, because they are subjected to a severe process by the purging and purifying powers of the Spirit of God. "I will turn my hand upon them," (saith the Lord,) "and I will purely purge away their dross; and take away all their tin." (Isaiah i. 25.) What a wonderful work is the work of God upon a living sinner's conscience! First, says God, "I will bring them :" for they are a long way off, even in a far country, as the prodigal was: Oh, how deeply sunken in drunkenness, in uncleanness, in blasphemy, in enmity, and in ignorance, are many of the elect of God by nature! But, it is a high hand, and a stretched-out arm, that God putteth forth, to bring in his beloved ones.

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Mark you; many of our fine so-called ministers talk about offering salvation and men refusing: they might as well go to the farthest end of a coal pit, and command the coal to rise up, and walk out of itself. God says, "I WILL BRING THEM;" and that not part of the way merely; no: but through the fire, and try them; purify them: put a living, crying soul into them and answer them in the joy of their hearts: so that they shall say, "the Lord is my God; and I will say they are my people."

Thus, my beloved brother, I have, in some humble measure spoken a little of the people who shall be made ready to go in with Christ to the marriage supper. I must, for the present, say, farewell: hoping to resume the subject in my next. Believe me, your's to love and serve for Christ's

sake.

C. W. BANKS.

6, Pagoda Terrace, Bermondsey New Road,

Southwark.

WHAT IS PRAYER?-Christ receives sighs in his censor for prayers: though others mock at groans, yet he that made them knows what they mean. The Spirit first makes the sigh as an intercessor, and then, as God,hears it; he is within praying, and without hearing; a dumb beggar gets an alm at Christ's gate even by making signs, when his tongue cannot plead for him, and the rather, because he is dumb. The Lord regards not the grammar of prayers, how men word it in prayer; nor the arithmetic of prayers, how often they pray; nor the rhetoric of prayers, how finely they pray; nor the music of prayers, what sweetness of tone men have in prayer; but the divinity of prayer. Christians, the Spirit of God makes intercession in us with sighs and groans which cannot be uttered, for their greatness; that as there is joy unspeakable, so there is joy unutterable; rather for their littleness, their feebleness, and faintness: yet God hears them when we scarce feel them; he knows the meaning of those groans, which never as yet knew their own meaning, and understands the sense of those sighs, which never understood themselves.

A TRUE AND LIVING EXPERIENCE.

IN giving the following testimony and declaration of the work of God on the soul of an elect vessel of mercy, our minds have been secretly impressed with the instructions given by the God of Israel unto his people in ancient times; he said not only that they should set up a standard to the people; that is, CHRIST JESUS THE LORD: but he also commanded them to "SET UP WAYMARKS; and to make high heaps;" that so the virgin daughter of Israel, in her turning again to her own cities might be assured of the certainty, and the safety of the way in which she was caused to travel.

Some good men are decidedly against the publication of such works as the Earthen Vessel: and treat them with the greatest contempt. So long, however, as they are instrumental in setting up such solemn waymarks of a living experience as the following, we have no fear but that there will be many seeking souls, to whom they will be made a blessing.

The writer of the subjoined epistle was, for a time, much exercised in his mind about sending it for insertion: after sincerely seeking direction from the Lord, he felt it impossible to withold it: we, therefore, (fully believing it to be of God,) give it with much confidence, earnestly praying many troubled souls may be comforted by it. The writer in a letter to a friend of his, says:

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"I am much obliged by your kind enquiry respecting the growth of grace in my soul; and to be candid on this important matter, I assure you I am sometimes led to doubt whether the seeds of divine grace were ever sown at all in my stony heart, and to fear that all is nothing but delusion from first to last if such has been the case, there can be no taking root, or growth of grace in the heart. O what a wretch! what a mass of corruption is man by nature! quite incapable of ever thinking a good thought, much more performing one good act. So that if ever saved at all, it must be all of free sovereign grace from first to last. But to your most important question, relative to my growth in grace.

It is now about twenty-four years since my mind was solemnly arrested by these words-"Cursed is he that setteth light by his father or mother, and all the people shall say, Amen." At this time I had carelessly taken up the word of God; why or wherefore I know not; for I had not the least desire for any thing of the kind: neither had I, to my knowledge, ever looked into it for months before; for I had shamefully neglected reading the word after leaving my dear father's roof: and it was very seldom that I had attended a place of worship for some time past: for I was determined to have my fill of the world, come what would: and when I did attend a place of worship, it was only to appease conscience, which would harass me much at times, and compel me to resolve that I would lead a better life in future; but though I would neither hear the word or read it, this did not in the least frustrate God's designs or purposes towards me :-the place, the time, the chapter, the verse, and the very sentence, were all fixed in his eternal mind before all ages.-Think not, O man, whoever thou art, that thy puny arm can in any degree frustrate the purposes of Jehovah. No: be assured that when the hour is come; I say, when the fixed time to favour Zion is come; she shall be brought out, in spite of men and devils.

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