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PRE FAC E.
AGAIN we have to present our thanks and new year gratulations to our friends; and again at the footstool of Deity have we to praise and adore that distinguishing grace which hath supported and protected us until now.
Our course during the by-gone year hath led through many a briary pathway, and been gloomed with many shades. We have witnessed the upspringing and growth of an alarming and blasphemous heresy: we have seen many, of whom we had hoped better things, drawn as if by fascination within its terrible vortex : we have sighed over the aberration of one we loved, and whom we should still esteem : one who suffering a commendable dislike to unsanctified ministers of a free-grace gospel, to blind his eyes to the excellency of that gospel himself, hath wandered into paths which are, we would still believe, uncongenial with his soul's affections, and from which we would pray the Spirit of all grace to restore him : we have regretfully beheld schisms among
: we have seen the ranks of Christ's faithful ministers thinned by the destroyer : and in reflecting throughout all, that we have been privileged to upraise, unsullied, the white standard of salvation-salvation as contrived in covenant by the eternal Three ere the fiat of creation went forth, prefigured through a long vista of typical ceremonies, completed by the obedience and death of Immanuel, and free to all whom the Holy Ghost shall enable to embrace it. In reflecting thus, the language of our hearts hath often been, “ What are we, and what is our father's house !"
Reader ! in accompanying us along the road-in listening to our sincere warnings, and admonitious, and encou
ragements-in perusing scrolls which thy brethren have penned for thy edification, telling thee in the hour of trial how they found God faithful, that thou mayest in the same situation glean comfort from the assurance-telling thee the doubts which perplexed them in their pilgrimage Zionward, and how they were cleared up, that thine likewise may be dispelled-developing comfortable and lucid expositions of God's word with which they have been favoured by the only Illuminator, for they would not eat their morsels alone :-in listening to and in perusing all this, what hath been the result? The question is for individual consideration : let each one put it to himself, and as in the presence of God! We would not labour in vain, and spend our strength for nought.
We thank our God-and we desire to speak it with all humility and thankfulness, that he hath not left us without tokens of usefulness : instances which make it evident his smile is upon us; and that in the day of account our silent messenger will be acknowledged, as having been the means of good to many of Christ's purchased ones.
We again launch our little vessel, and on the same enterprise. We wish not to change our Captain, neither would we desire to sail on any new adventure-our cargo shall be the same : things new and old, things appertaining to the kingdom ; and if when we put in to our next year's resting-place we shall have been favoured with the same encouragements, and we do not doubt we shall, we will then, as now, ascribe to our adorable Lord all the praise.
“Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
December 18, 1833.
Spiritual Magazine ;
* There are Three that bear record in heaven; the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST : and these Three are One."
1 John v.1. " Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
AN UNPUBLISHED SERMON OF A LATE EMINENT
GOSPEL MINISTER. Acts xvi. 30, 31. " Sirs, what must I do to be saved? and they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt te saved."
There never was, and never can be, a question of greater importance asked; nor a more important answer given, than those before us; our everlasting salvation entirely hang upon them; the case was this: Paul and Silas, two eminent ministers of the gospel of Christ, were apprehended for preaching the word, and brought before the rulers of the city, who caused them to be unjustly and severely scourged, and then committed them to prison, with a peculiar charge to the gaoler, to keep them safely; in consequence of which, they were thrust into the inner prison, or dungeon, and their feet made fast in the stocks. But these faithful servants of God were not unhappy; they were persecuted (as all such are by the world), but they were not forsaken; their master was with them (as he is with all his faithful people), according to his gracious promise, that he will never leave nor forsake them; this so filled their hearts with joy, that they sang praises to God, even at midnight; which their fellow-prisoners heard with no small surprise.
While the prisoners were attentive to the midnight devotions of his afflicted servants, there was a great earthquake.
The Lord, whom they served, took this method of vindicating their character, and of striking terror into the hearts of their persecutors.
Vol. IX.-No. 105.] B
So powerful was the shock, that the foundation of the prison was shaken; the doors immediately flew open, and the fetters of all the prisoners dropped off at once.
The keeper of the prison, suddenly awakened by the noise, starting up from his bed, and finding the doors of the prison open, concluded, as naturally he might, that all the prisoners had escaped; and dreading, perhaps, a public execution, as the punishment of a breach of trust, was just going to stab himself with his sword. St. Paul, aware of his wicked design, and moved with compassion for his immortal soul, cried out, with a loud voice, “ Do thyself no harm, for we are all here."
The gaoler, filled with astonishment at this wonderful appearance of God in favour of his servants, and impressed by the Holy Spirit with a deep conviction of his guilt of sin and danger, which, perhaps, he had little thought of before, immediately called for a light, sprang into the inner prison, and, trembling from head to foot, threw himself down on the ground before them; and, under a heavy burden of guilt and fear, he calls out in the words of the text, “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Thus every heavy laden sinner will cry, and nothing can stop him; and before God try his spirit, thus convict him, and bring him in guilty, at the bar of God's justice, nothing can prevail upon him thus to cry; how is it possible he should cry to be saved, when he is not sensible of the danger of being lost.
The answer to all who see and feel the weight of their sins, and their own insufficiency to save themselves, is, “To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved."
From these words, I shall first consider the nature of the question, “ What must I do to be saved ?" Secondly, I shall attend to the answer, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
In the narrative before us, we have an instance of a natural man being brought by God's spirit and power to see and feel the weight of his sins; there is no doubt but the gaoler had been a very wicked man: the employment bespeaks it. You know, the old proverb says, “ Choose an old rogue of a gaolkeeper.” Now all men, by nature (before the grace and spirit of God take place in their hearts), stand exactly where the gaoler did before this earthquake happened, and not one is willing to come out of it until the Lord shews them by his spirit what a deplorable situation they are in. I say, that there is not one that is left to his natural free will, but what would rush on headlong to destruction, as a spirited horse will rush into the battle.
We do not read that this gaoler was more wicked at this time than he had been, perhaps, for many years before; but this was the time that the Spirit of Ĝod opened his eyes to see the danger he was in ; it was not the earthquake that did it: that was the means