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pending, and marvellous are to be the forerunners (as taught us in scripture) by which will be ushered in the latter day glory: but amidst all the convulsions with which the Lord will shake the earth, the church is impregnable; and this voice through all may be heard by every regenerated child of God, "Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him," Isa. iii. 10. Keeping in remembrance the eternal, inherent, essential, and underived perfections of our most glorious Christ, which are his own, and which he possesseth in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, nothing of this time-state arising from the temptations of men or devils, while upheld by the Lord, can stagger for a moment my faith. In him I behold a sovereignty competent to all the purposes of his church. The infinite greatness of his Person stamps infinity upon all he wrought in his human nature; every act, every word, every thought, was the act, the word, and thought of God, in the man Christ Jesus. Through grace I never suffer myself to lose sight of his oneness, in all that constitutes Godhead, with Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons. And in all my approaches to the mercy-seat, I approach to the one undivided Jehovah through the mediation of Christ, "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," Col. ii. 9. And as the Godhead of the Holy Three in One is alike inaccessible, the mediation of Christ, as Christ, (that is, God and man in one Person) is as necessary to approach the divine nature of the Son, as that of the Father, or of the Holy Ghost: this may be considered a solecism in the world's vocabulary, but the word loseth its meaning when applied to the glorious truths of God; there are no solecisms in scripture: the Lord enables his spiritual church to receive the Lord's manifestations spiritually. And then, while carrying about with us this charter of grace, the precious question of our most glorious Lord put by him
self and opened by himself in all its beauty and fulness, will be like an anchor to the soul in the darkest night of heresy, silencing all the blasts of a Christdespising generation-" What think ye of Christ ?"
THE SOLEMN DEMAND OF CHRIST: THE SUBJECT HUMBLY CONTEMPLATED IN AN AFFECTIONATE SALUTATION OF THE SPIRITUAL CHURCH OF OUR MOST GLORIOUS LORD, ON THE ENTRANCE OF THE NEW YEAR, 1827.
"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke xviii. 8.
Under deep humblings of soul, in the contemplation of divine goodness for the preservation of my unworthy life to the present hour; and under the impression of warm affection to the people of God, whom the Lord hath also preserved alive to this day; I desire to gratulate the spiritual church of the living and true God on the entrance of a new year. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the anointings of the Holy Ghost.
In looking back on the events of the past year, the days of which are gone to be numbered with the generations before the flood, while I see enough, in all that relates to me, to lay low in the dust of self-abasement before God, I behold no less, in all that relates to the divine dealings of the Lord towards me, abundant cause to raise a voice of praise, and to say with one of old,
surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!" I can and do, therefore, " set to my seal that God is true." And amidst all the reproaches of my own faithless and unbelieving heart, I arise by sovereign grace above all that I am the subject and the object of in myself, to live upon him and his unchangeableness, who is the same faithful God, "yesterday, and to-day, and for ever!"
But while calculating the revolutions of time, and beholding the beautiful order of things in the divine government, I cannot but connect with the view, the dying state in which our nature stands. True it is indeed, the sun of this lower world occupies the same place in the heavens as he did on the first day of the last year: the regular return of seasons are the same : and the Lord hath said, " while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease," Gen. viii. 22. Yea, and the Lord hath further promised, that those ordinances of heaven and earth become the sure pledge of his everlasting covenant, in the higher department of grace with his people. Jer. xxxiii. 25, 26. but not so man, in his present being of nature, his life is but "a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," James iv. 14. "As a flower of the field so he flourisheth; for the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more," Ps. ciii. 16. "Your fathers (said one of old) where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever ?” Zech. i. 5. Our lengthening shades lengthen as we go, and amidst the zenith of the great luminary of the day as he is in himself, to us he becomes a setting sun, indicating continually the approach of night. Blessed will it be, if, while under the conscious sense of his declinings, we are brought under the divine shinings of " the Sun of Righteousness, which ariseth with healing in his wings,” Malachi iv. 2. And amidst all our changes, while passing from one tropic to another here below, we live under his influences, " with whom is no variation, neither shadow of turning," James i. 17.happy will it be our own declining state, if, while lessening in ourselves, we are growing up in him; and, like the moon, whose waning is increased in proportion as she draweth nearer to the sun, so the church dwindles in self, and all self-attainments are for ever
lost and swallowed up, when brought within the sphere of his orb, who is to his people" an everlasting light, our God our glory," Isa. lx. 19.
And amidst these circumstances of fluctuation in the natural world, the church lays exposed to great changes in the spiritual. There are seasons when the waters of the sanctuary run low : times when as things appear to the child of God, the Lord seems inattentive to his bitterest cries, and answers neither by Urim nor Thummim: yea, and what tends to aggravate the sorrow to the brim full cup of affliction, Zion herself is threatened to be ploughed as a field. The present day is an awful epoch in this history: the nineteenth century hath advanced the church into a period fraught with peculiar exercises: every thing around us in this our insular situation, and the state of things on the Continent in reference to religion, bespeak some mighty convulsion at hand: add to these, the scriptures themselves in relation to the present era, unite in teaching the people of God to be on the look out "for a time of Jacob's trouble." The last days are foretold as perilous days: great events are said to be pending over the church of the Most High God: and we are admonished, that a vast struggle for a while will be maintained by the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of Christ. It is very gracious in our God that before the conflict commenceth he hath assured us the issue is not doubtful: the termination shall be to the church's glory, and her enemies destruction: for when the seventh angel shall sound his trumpet, the triumphs of the church shall be complete," the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever," Rev. xi. 15. Nevertheless, during the conflict there will be " a time of trouble such as never was, since there was a nation even to that same time," Dan, xii. 1.
We have already beheld the preparations of the
enemy for the war; we have seen the several armies marshalled under their respective leaders. Popery, which at one time was paralyzed in this land, now, like the frozen serpent, brought by the incautious husbandman into a warm atmosphere, hath emerged from her benumbed state, and is endeavouring to recompence the kindness by biting our children: she hath unfurled her banners, and more than once attempted to gain again a legitimate footing in this kingdom: while with equal earnestness, but with more craft and subtilty, infidelity with her hydra heads, hath been at work to sap the very foundation of the christian church altogether by digging up the first principles of our holy faith. I stay not to take notice of those various auxiliaries of nondescripts, which have shewn their hatred to our common cause, and are only waiting the sound of the war-whoop in joining the phalanx to form the battle of Armageddon, Rev. xvi. 16. What will further appear before the dreadful crisis, as preludes to the slaughter of the two witnesses, is not revealed; only in general terms it is said, that " men shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," Rev. xi. 7. 1 Tim. iv. 1.
In the mean time, there is a stillness in the confederate powers which augurs not good; a seeming suspension of hostilities, as if repeated disappointments had dashed the hopes of the aspiring parties: but it is rather to be suspected, that though apparently inactive they are at work: from their very principles they cannot give over; like the mole of the earth, they are beneath the surface throwing up the ground in various heaps; and, by and by, as pioneers, their entrenchments will be opened, and the garrison of God attacked. The present stillness, therefore, is not to be considered favourable. Naturalists have observed, that a more than ordinary quietness in the elements precede an earthquake: and burning mountains give no symptoms