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The greatest captain of the day said, that he who will win victories must put himself in situations liable to sustain defeats. Throughout the universe there are degrees: angel is under archangel; the Son subordinate to, though co-equal with, the Father. In the redeemed and glorified church, the twelve Apostles are promised a higher place than the rest of the body. Each member must have its appropriate situation and function. The highest honour that created beings can receive, is to be of the Bride of the Lamb. There are, indeed, virgins who bear her company, but they are not of the bride. These are guests invited to the marriage-feast, but the wife is not invited to her the supper is given, and she sits down there of right in her husband's power and dignity. There is a band which is counted worthy to escape the things that are coming on the earth; while others are left to witness in the furnace which Antichrist will heat seven-fold. It is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the indwelling of the Father, his name written upon the forehead, by which the Lamb's wife makes herself ready, as a bride adorned for her husband. It is the person of the Holy Ghost, the living God Himself, taking up his abode in us, and shining forth through us in love and holiness and power, which makes the flesh be as a sackcloth covering a heap of ashes, consumed by the fire within; giving a real victory over the world, over its affections and its lusts; which having been in vain attempted in the flesh, in the strength of nature, has caused grief and disappointment to the sincere, and hypocrisy to the empty professor. Endowed with supernatural gifts, we should speak to the hearts of the hearers with the authority and power of conscious knowledge, not with the slow and uncertain expressions of logical deductions.
Confidence in God under every circumstance; feeling assured that our Father will not deceive us when walking uprightly with Him, and our conscience not condemning us before him (1 John iii. 19-22); can alone support us, whether used by Him to give utterance to His Spirit within ourselves, or when listening to His voice conveyed through the organs of another. Confidence in Him, when sentiments the most repugnant to our reason are spoken, sentiments seeming to be contradictory to one another; the confidence placed in its parent by a child when receiving lessons from him which are beyond its comprehension. This confidence is that which alone puts the Creator and creature in their proper relative positions; which alone brings down intellectual pride, and reduces all men to a real level in the things of God; and which alone furnishes an occasion for every one to ascertain whether or no he can trust God in things where no secondary causes or instrumentality are blended: for wherever the means are seen by which God works, we place our con
fidence in those means, and not in Him, however much we may deceive ourselves with a contrary notion.
Whoever will attempt to scan the work and utterance of the Holy Ghost by the intellect, instead of by the Spirit within himself, must be stumbled. If he be a child of God he will be stumbled in mercy, to shake him from this pride and presumption in bringing God down to the bar of his reason: if he be not a child of God, he will be sealed up, by that which causes his stumbling, to apostasy (Isai. xxviii. 13). It is spiritual, not intellectual discernment, which is needed: that which places the old woman and the babe on the same level as the greatest philosopher, and which shews the highest powers of nature wholly inadequate to measure a work of the Spirit.--These observations are as fully applicable to those who are gifted as to those who are not. Gifted persons are as liable to be stumbled by the utterances proceeding through themselves, as by those through the organs of any other instrument. Their security and their
peace is in their faith-or rather in the Lord in whom they trustexactly like those who listen to them. They must not place confidence in their gift, nor in the Spirit who dwells in them, but in Jesus, the Lord of the Spirit, from whom the Spirit proceeds, and who received the gifts from His Father for men: so that in all things the Word must have the pre-eminence-the gifts of the Spirit being, not for the glorifying of the Spirit, but for the glorifying of Jesus. To abide in Jesus is necessary, in order to receive the gifts; necessary, to retain them; necessary, to use them aright; necessary, not to be stumbled by them. A gifted person must feel that the utterance he has been made to give is not his own, but the Lord's; and he must therefore leave to the Lord to confirm, bring to pass, or alter, what He has spoken, as seemeth Him good.
Although it is painful to expose the failings of private individuals, we think ourselves bound to notice the cases of Miss Hall and Mr. Baxter, whose names the adversaries of the work of the Spirit have brought before the public, but of whom we still desire to think charitably and to hope favourably. Though both have given great occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme, He may, by giving them deep repentance for their sin, be preparing them as vessels of mercy, to shew forth the glory of his pardoning grace.
Many hard speeches have been used of Miss Hall; and we do not mean to palliate her sin, but we desire to judge of it as ourselves compassed about with the same infirmity: we wish to search and examine ourselves, lest we also should yield to temptation; and, to all who have thus examined themselves, we say, "Let him that is without sin among you cast the
first stone." We know Miss Hall to have been under delusion; and that she has, by her own powers, imitated the voice of God. This is in any case a great sin; and if committed knowingly, and with full purpose of heart, would be a sin so horrible that we should apprehend a judgment would ensue not less signal than that on Ananias and Sapphira. But enthusiasm may arise from witnessing the work of the Spirit; and a strong desire to possess may be mistaken for possessing; and the devil will be ready continually to present these temptations to the inexperienced. Miss Hall was ignorant of the ways of God, and of the devices of the enemy, but they are now made manifest; and we pray that she may be led to feel the depth of her sin, and the disgrace she has brought upon the people of God; while she also should feel, that even for her sin, when repented of, there is atonement in the blood of Christ, which "cleanseth from all sin," and can cleanse hers.
God shewed his protecting care over his church while this delusion was going on; for he so overruled Miss Hall, that nothing of error, we believe, was spoken: and this analogy with the word of God kept many from rejecting her utterances who did not perceive in them any power. God also shewed his tenderness and care, in his making those whom he had endowed with power testify to the conscience of Miss Hall; first in a general burden of sorrow; then in exhortations to repentance; then in special admonitions to those who spoke; and lastly in reproof to Miss Hall by name, which made her at once confess that she had been acting without warrant, and had sometimes even premeditated speaking at particular times, but not prepared what she should say. The detection was made entirely by the Spirit of God, and to God be all the glory.
Mr. Baxter's case was still more awful than that of Miss Hall, more mysterious, and more stumbling; yet from it we are full of hope that greater glory will redound to the work of the Holy Ghost in the midst of us. Mr. Baxter is a dear friend, whose present delusion we would gladly conceal, till the workings of God's providence, which is even now teaching us this lesson, shall have taught him wherein he mis-interprets his own utterances; but these desires of our heart have been frustrated by Mr. Baxter himself: he has precipitately blazoned his own ignorance of "what and what manner of time the Spirit which was in him did signify" (1 Pet. i. 11); and we may not now shrink from the painful duty of telling him and the public, that he is ignorant in this matter. We foresee the surprise of our readers, and the imputation of arrogance which will be cast upon us, for presuming to know more of the workings of Mr. Baxter's mind than he does himself; but such is our belief, and we must abide the consequences. "Let the prophets speak by two or
three, and let the rest discern." "Know ye not that the Holy Ghost is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
Too much self-esteem and self-confidence has been, and still is, Mr. Baxter's snare. He thought himself too much the centre of his own predictions, and himself the interpreter of the words. God warned him of this, and warned his auditors against it, in various ways, often expostulating with them thus: "Do you drink the cup? Glory not in the vessel, lest the Lord should dash it in pieces." But, alas! the warning has been in vain; and God is taking another way to shew out his truth and magnify his mercy. Mr. Baxter is at present taken in the snare of his own self-confidence; and, because his declarations have not been accomplished in the way which himself expected, he has not only inferred that his own declarations were false, but has most unwarrantably and presumptuously inferred that all the other claims to gifts or manifestations are false also.
Having thus discharged our painful duty to the public, in speaking thus of a dear friend, we commend him to God, and ask for him the prayers of the church. May he speedily be brought to a knowledge of the mind of God in this matter! May he become in all respects a fit instrument to be used by the hand of the Lord! And, though Satan is desiring to have him, to sift him as wheat, may the Great Head of the church hear our prayers, that his faith fail not; that, when he is converted, he may strengthen the brethren!
AN INTERPRETATION OF THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF THE APOCALYPSE.
THE word spoken by the Apostle Peter concerning the interpretation of prophecy is, as he himself declareth, of primary importance to be known and kept in mind. The canon also is very simple, and simply expressed: "NO PROPHECY OF THE SCRIPTURE IS OF ANY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION." It is a catholic canon delivered by the Holy Ghost to the catholic church, for whose use, and not for any place, age, or sect of men, the prophecy was inspired. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet i. 21). And though there hath been very much criticism and disputation, the meaning of it seems to me very clear, both from the time in which it was expressed, and from the place which it occupies in the discourse of the Apostle. He is entreating of the abundant entrance which shall be ministered to the saints into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, against the day of his appearing; whereof
he, with two others of the Apostles, had received a glorious fore-shewing upon the mount of transfiguration; until which time, to preserve our confidence and hold up our goings, he referreth us to the prophetic word, wherein the glorious advent of Christ is constantly treated of. And that we might not slip away into the fatal error that the prophets spake only for the people of their own day and generation, he lays it down as an axiom that they spake for the edification of the whole church of Christ, in which the Holy Ghost resideth, and not for any private and peculiar occasion; and that they ought to be interpreted for all times of the church;-that the prophecy never weareth out of date; for that the Holy Ghost predicteth all things, not for a particular time, but for all times, until the time of the fulfilment of all prophecy at the coming of the Lord. His argument is simply this: All prophecy holdeth up a light, until the coming of Christ, when all prophecy shall be fulfilled; therefore do ye walk by the light of it, until that day dawn, and that day-star arise on your hearts.
Since writing the above, another meaning of the Apostle's rule for interpreting prophecy hath been suggested to me, which, whatever may be thought of its soundness, it equally concerneth our present subject to make mention of. It proceeds by rendering the word dias, its own, or self, and brings out this meaning," No prophecy of the Scripture is of self-interpretation," but waiteth the opening of the Holy Ghost, by whom it was first given it came not by the will of man, that by the understanding of man it should be unfolded: it is written by the Holy Ghost, after a method which the Holy Ghost alone can unfold. 'This view of the passage accordeth well with that office of the Spirit, "He shall lead you into all the truth, and shew you things to come;" and that other, "He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you;" while it is the very doctrine taught by the Apostle Paul: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" (1 Cor. ii. 7). This is the hiding of the truth; and to whom the unfolding of it belongeth he thus declareth in the same place: "But God had revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God: For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (vers. 10, 11).
The interpretation which I am about to give of the xiv th chapter of the Apocalypse doth unite and arise out of both these views of the Apostolic canon: for while it openeth a fresh application of much which hath been symbolically applied to the other events, and so fulfilleth the former of the two views, it 2 s
VOL. V.-NO. II.