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The different monthly Numbers of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine for the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty being now before the reader, if they were to be regarded as no more than the successive portions of a periodical which might excite a passing interest at the time of their appearance, and would then almost cease to be remembered, the sole remaining duty of the Editors would be to supply a postscript, which should contain the usual expressions of acknowledgment and thankfulness. And even as the matter really stands, these expressions are very extensively due ; and therefore, both to contributors and subscribers, they are most sincerely and respectfully offered. Indeed, the assistance and support which they receive, and the countenance which is afforded to their labours, are every way most gratifying. They add, it is true, to editorial anxiety, by greatly increasing editorial responsibility ; but, on the other hand, they contribute in no ordinary degree to sweeten editorial toil. They establish between the Editors and their readers a relation very peculiar in its character, not so much commercial and interested, as it is personal and friendly; and thus encourage them to believe that their labours to provide a regular succession and constant variety both of agreeable and profitable reading, have not been altogether unsuccessful.
The thanks which are thus presented to all classes of friends, the Editors request them to receive as constituting, likewise, a pledge that the Numbers for the ensuing year (by the divine permission and blessing) shall be prepared with unremitting diligence, and with a constant attention to the circumstances with which the entire church of God may appear to be connected; especially in their bearing on the position and prosperity of that important section of it, with which the great majority of the readers of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine may be supposed to be associated. The Editors hope that it is scarcely necessary to repeat their determination not only to maintain the great truths of catholic Christianity, but to maintain them in their connexion with that inward, spiritual, vital religion, without which even a correct belief is useless,—for the devils believe,—and the external services of the sanctuary, however important in their place, are only a lifeless form.
But even as a work of reference, it is hoped that the Magazines already published are not unworthy of a place in the library either of the private Christian, or of the theological student. The various biogra
phical articles contain not merely a testimony to departed worth, but what is infinitely more important, a testimony to that living power by which that worth was produced. Even in the brief-but to ourselves, and we believe to our readers generally, highly interesting-notices contained in our recent death department, not only is delightful encouragement afforded to the living who are yet warring a good warfare, but most solemn, undeniable proof is given that "the people called Methodists” are indeed partakers “ of the root and fatness of the olivetree.” The articles more directly didactic will be found to be all based on the same leading principles : while, even in those avowedly polemic, the reader will find, it is confidently believed, that the object sought has been truth rather than victory, and that the apostolic injunction has not been forgotten, which requires that we speak the truth in love.
But the Editors cannot refrain from referring particularly to what they believe is one of the most important portions of their monthly communications. In the Monthly Notices of the Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society, some of the most wonderful, even of the always wonderful, works of the God of grace and providence, are regularly, and in most delightful succession, presented to the reader. The "Notices" of every year exhibit now the visible augmentation of the church of Christ, so far as the Wesleyan Methodists are concerned ; and as their claims have in them nothing exclusive, but are always meant to be only participative, it will be understood,—though the limits within which the “ Notices" are unavoidably confined may prevent it from being always expressed, that other sections of Christ's church are favoured with the same tokens of the divine presence. By the future historian of the church, these monthly notices of Missionary enterprise and success will be reckoned among his most valuable records.
For the future the Editors can only say, that they trust to be enabled steadily to pursue the same object as heretofore, and by the employ. ment of the same means. Nothing within their teach shall be withheld that may contribute to render the Numbers for the coming year increasingly worthy of the support which has hitherto been accorded. They are not unobservant of the signs of the times, nor of the means which are employed to spread through the land doctrines which are only true on the supposition that the great German and English Reformers were all mistaken ; doctrines which, if true, prove that Mr. Wesley and his coadjutors and successors were all deeply involved in guilty and dangerous error. The pages of the Magazine show that these are topics which have not been overlooked in the past ; nor will they be in the future. The supremacy of Holy Scripture, and the doctrines of justification by faith alone, and of spiritual regeneration, will be constantly anët earnestly maintained; and the attention of the reader will be directed to those circumstances which show that the presence and blessing of God are not confined to one portion only of the Christian Israel. By such méans, it is hoped, a volume may be prepared which shall from-month to month contribute, in no ordinary degree, to the Christian edification of its readers. To their candour and good-will the Editors commend themselves without fear.
November 21st, 1840.
FOR JANUARY, 1840.
MEMOIR OF MR. JOHN LAWSON,
Of Leeds : BY THE REV. JOHN ANDERSON. The memory of the just is blessed. In everlasting remembrance before God, they ought not to be forgotten by those who still sojourn on earth, and who are instructed and incited by their remembered example, to be “ diligent, and followers of those who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises." The subject of this brief memoir was one of these ; and though not of exalted origin, in a worldly sense, yet his character presents an example which deserves to be rescued from oblivion. He was born of poor but pious parents, in the township of Rawdon, near Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the year 1780.' Early trained to a regular attendance upon Christian ordinances, and faithfully superintended by his parents, he was graciously préserved from flagrant wickedness; yet did he continue, during several years, to resist the Holy Ghost, and to refuse a submission to the “ righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.“ But, in the twentieth year of his age, he became providentially allied to a family of deeided and devoted piety. And, in the year 1802, during a glorious revival of religion in the township of Woodhouse, near Leeds, (whither he had removed,) he was deeply convinced of his lost estate as a rebel against “ the throne and monarchy of God;" and, in a short time afterwards, embraced the atonement for human transgression in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and was sealed by the Holy Ghost an heir of eternal glory.
It is a happy day that fixes the choice of an immortal being upon the God of his life, as the God of his salvation. It is a work which declares the almighty Spirit to be its author, and which, being productive here of "the divine nature," hath eternal salvation for its end. Faith in Jesus, as “ the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is its distinguishing principle; a faith which, as a learned Prelate of our English Church justly remarks, “is not a speculative but a practical acknowledgment of Jesus as the Christ, an effort and motion of the mind toward God; when the sinner, convinced of sin, accepts with thankfulness the proffered terms of pardon, and in humble confidence applying individually to seek the benefit of the general atonement, in VOL. XIX. Third Series. JANUARY, 1840.
the elevated language of a Father of the Church, drinks of the stream which flows from the Redeemer's wounded side.'” This is that salvation by faith which the Gospel teaches; which our Protestant Reformers proclaimed; and for the bold exhibition of which, our Methodist ancestors were reviled by men, but honoured by God in a multitude of converts, who, from the beginning, were taught to sing in the sweet strains of the poet of Methodism,
" Spirit of faith, come down,
Reveal the things of God ;
And witness with the blood :
And give us eyes to see,
Hath surely died for me." This precious faith our young convert had received ; and, with it, like the first converts, “went on his way rejoicing.” But, like all those in every time and place who have received “ like precious faith,” he was soon brought to feel, that there is trial of faith as well as a rejoicing. While yet in the freshness and fulness of his “first love,” he was assailed by no unusual temptation. To his Leader, good Joseph Braithwaite, an experienced disciple, he once observed, with great simplicity, “ Joseph, I do not know how it is, but if I go to bed ever so full of the love of God, in the morning I feel destitute of it; and yet I hare had no consciousness of having committed sin.” The reply of the veteran Christian was as effective as it was appropriate : “Knowest thou not, John, that the just shall live by faith, and not by feeling ?" By renewed acts of faith, the feeling is to be preserved.
Unwarrantable conclusions have been drawn from the principle stated by the good Class-Leader; conclusions opposed to the necessity and certainty of “the comforts of the Holy Ghost," and experimental enjoyment of the Gospel salvation. But it must not be denied, that as all “ the fruits of the Spirit,” and even the “ direct witness of the Spirit,” which precedes them, are inseparable from the continued exercise of “ faith in the blood of Jesus," therefore any cessation in the acts of faith must necessarily “grieve the Spirit," becloud his testimony, and, to say the least, abate the comfortable sense of the divine favour! It is not undeserving the serious attention of some, who cannot be classed with babe in Christ, that the infallible method of retaining and increasing our consolation is that delivered by the Holy Ghost through St. Paul : “Now, the God of hope fill you with all peace and joy IN BELIEVING, that ye may abound in hope” (of eternal glory)" by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Mr. Gambold sweetly speaks his sense of instructed souls, in these beautiful lines :