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have entered into the joy of their Lord. They no more mourn over the littleness of their knowledge, or over the coldness of their hearts. They are not afflicted now with the unclean spirits of unbelief, pride, jealousy, and enmity. They are out of the gunshot of Satan, and no longer perplexed with slavish fear. They will never again be afflicted with the cruel speeches of their enemies, for they are far away from “the din of war,” and “the strife of tongues.” They are for ever with and like the Lord. They were predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's Son. They have risen through sovereign grace, and the invincible operations of the Spirit, to that conformity which is a higher and a fuller conformity than is possible on earth. Are we followers of them who inherit the promises ?- -are we cleaving to the same mighty Saviour ?-are the doctrines and institutions of Jesus increasingly dear to us ? “A happy new year !" The new year will bring fresh occasions for
and thanksgiving. There will be sunshine and dark clouds—trials and supportsbattles and victories—temptations and deliverances—hopes and fears-rough seas and great calms-contrary winds in the world, and sweet repose in God's everlasting covenant. God has helped his people hitherto, will he not help them in this year? There are four things which will make us happy in the new year.
1. A fuller sense of interest in God's favour. That God loves his people with an everlasting love, we rejoice to believe ; and we feel certain that his love comprehends in its heart all the family, and is in perfect harmony with God's infinite love to himself. His love is manifested in the revelation of the covenant of grace -in the mediatorial achievements of his Son Jesus Christ-in the regenerating work of the Spirit, and in the controlling of all dispensations for the ultimate good of his people ; yet we want to realize his love more and more to make us happy : “In his favour is life.” There is true dignity, Divine satisfaction, and heavenly blessedness, in the favour of God. When the Lord lifts upon us the light of his countenance, it fills our hearts with gladness. His favour softens the heart, endears the Scriptures, makes Christ more precious to the soul, and kindles the fire of holy earnestness for his cause. If the Lord shall give us a fuller sense of interest in his sovereign and immutable favour, it will make this “ a happy new year to our souls.
2. The second thing is a realized union to Christ. There is a vital, a fruitful, a comforting, and an unending union to Christ. This believers know ; but how few seem to realize the greatness, the blessedness, and the glory of this union. It is this union which is the spring of the believer's holy activities, and the source of his purest delights and brightest prospects. It originated in the Divine will, and is a sublime manifestation of sovereign goodness. It is a union in which one profits many ; for all united to Christ are blessed with all spiritual blessings in him. If my readers should be favoured to enter into this union-experimentally to realize their own vital interest in it, how happy they will be! They will be fragrant with the Rose of Sharon and savour of Christ wherever they go. Their faces will sometimes beanı with light and glory, as Moses' face shone when he came from the mount of God. Spiritual relation is the foundation of spiritual blessedness, and the root of spiritual dignity. We cannot desire for our many friends and readers a greater good-a richer blessing, than that they may largely enjoy this blessed union to Him, who has said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” If ye. abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done untó you.”
3. The third thing which would tend to make this “a happy new year” is a more spiritual, cordial, and visible union among the members and ministers of the Strict Baptist churches
There can be no real union unless the truth of God be its foundation. There can be no vital union to each other, without a realized union to the Head of the church. There can be no scriptural bond of union where there is not a reverent faith in God's word. There can be no practical union where there is not a spirit of forbearance and love. The Saviour prayed for the union of his people. Should not his example be followed? Are divisions of God, or of the devil ? We answer, Of the devil. Error is of the devil--truth is of God. Error is manifold
truth is one. Error is dissevering-truth is uniting. Error may make us stand well with erroneous men, but truth, vitally known, assures us that we stand well with God through Jesus Christ. We must be prepared to part with anything, rather than truth and a good conscience before God. If friendships or truth must be sacrificed, we must sacrifice the former, and cleave with intense earnestness the latter. “Socrates is my friend, and Plato is my friend ; but truth is a better friend than both." Whosoever da speak against truth, we must dare to speak for it. 'Tis noble to show ourselves friends to truth, though we lose friends by it; and enemies to error, though we get enemies by it.” It will be “a happy new year,” if we are brought to a more cordial and practical union in the truth and ways of God. This union would strengthen Zion, and be a source of great good. “ Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" It is good to dwell together in unity : it is good, for it is of God; and if unity is good, the
opposite must be an evil. Unity in the faith, unity in affection, unity in prayer, unity in fellowship, unity in the spirit, and unity in co-operation in disseminating Christ's gospel, is good and pleasant. In seeking
this unity, there must be the maintenance of our individuality and liberty of action. Destroy freedom of action, and you make the union the union of the dead, and not a living union. We respect the judgment and liberty of others, for we ourselves must be free; and if the truth has made us free, we are free indeed. More of this vital, cordial, and practical union realized and made visible, would make us happy in the new year. The Saviour prayed for union among his disciples. May grace be given us to do the same ; and whatever hinders the manifestation of union, the Lord forgive and put away from us. “Love truth and peace,” saith the word.
4. A fourth thing which would tend to give us “ a happy new year” is this, a larger measure of that influence, which is necessary to make any work successful in winning souls to Christ, and in bringing in those other sheep of the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. God knows what work he will do, and what instrumentality he will employ in doing it. God will not be hindered in doing his work ; for he hath said, “I will work, and who shall let it ?" God's purposes are his rule of action : his word should be ours. He employs a Paul to plant, and an Apollos to water ; but he giveth the increase himself. How wonderful that he should deign to use men at all-such nothings as we all are! The first disciples of Jesus were insignificant men in the world's judgment. So they were in the judgment of the religionists of their time. God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. See how this has been illustrated in the history of God's church on earth. What matters the feebleness of the instrument, if the God of the instrument is pleased to give his Spirit ! “The excellency of the power is of God.” When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, the word was accompanied with quickening and saving power. This power, we would remark, came down in answer to prayer. It is this Divine power that is necessary to make our feeble services, whatever they may be, successful. When Paul preached, the word was carried to the heart in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. When any of God's servants have been really successful, it has been by the mighty power of God. “ Power belongeth unto God.” We cannot command this power, any more than we can the wind. It is exercised sovereignly, and “ according to the good pleasure of his will." But would not God's power attending our efforts make them mighty? The Lord send down upon all his saints a spirit of fervent and importunate prayer for this necessary power, that we may see the dead brought into spiritual life, “ the living in Jerusalem” lively and joyous in the ways of God, and brought into that unity of the Spirit, which is both “good and pleasant.” Yours faithfully,
THE UNION OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH,
“I am the vine, ye are the branches." John xv. 5.
The Saviour laid open the most sublime mysteries in the simplest language. What words can be more simple than these, “I am the vine, ye are the branches !" yet what can be more profound than the truth they reveal ! — The oneness of Christ and the church, this is that mystery of mercy wherein God's glory shines brightest, and from whence the eternal security and happiness of the church springs. It must, therefore, be of the highest importance for the believer to have a scriptural knowledge of the subject. This truth is one of the rocks around which faith entwines her arms,—from which she sucks honey, and in which she finds shelter.
1. There is a seminal union of the church to Christ. The plant is in the seedthe stately oak was wrapped up in the little acorn. The whole human family lay concealed in Adam—in him they stood, and in him they fell, and by him they would all have been eternally ruined, but for the fact that Christ was before Adam. Though he were the child born,” he was not less “the everlasting Father," and had the elect wrapped up in him before the fully mystic, but real seminal union. This gives rise,
2. To a vital oneness with him. The branch springs out of the vine—is produced by it, through the peculiar and very mysterious working of life. Every believer, as such, is the offspring of Christ, and a “meinber of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," and herein is our interest in all he was, did, and suffered here below, as also in what he is doing now. The benefits of his death and mediation can never reach beyond the members of his mystic body, nor fail to reach them all. Harmony, consistency, and absolute certainty are to be found in the scheme of redemption. The church is loved, chosen, and adopted in Christ, and on that ground redeemed by him, and for the same cause quickened by the Holy Ghost and brought to him, engrafted upon him, and made expermentally one with him. Regeneration is an infallible proof of an interest in all that he is as the salvation of his people. He did not say ye must have much knowledge, great gifts, mighty faith, splendid talents, and the like; but he did say, “Ye must be born again;" and all who are born again have every fundamental grace, in some degree, and are the children of God, and as sure of heaven as that Christ is there. While he lives they can never die, for he is their life ; and when he appears they shall appear to be for ever with him and like him. Tried, and tossed, and tempted they may—nay, to some extent, they must be ; for it is through much tribulation that the kingdom is entered, but lost they cannot be. But we observe,
3. This vital union gives rise to a strong sympathic union between Christ and the church. If a branch be wounded, the vine feels it.
“ He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” “In all their afflictions he was afflicted.” He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” What precious truths are these to the real Christian! Our salvation does not only stand in union to Jesus, but all our consolation flows from it.
“ As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Behold the vine ! every branch, every little tendril, receives a constant and sufficient supply from the parent stem and hidden root. If the whole be in health, there is no redundancy, and no lack. Each branch receives just so much sap as it needs
So with the church-the branches of the tree of life—he that gathereth much hath nothing over, and he that gathereth little hath no lack. There is a blessed suitability and adaptation in the outflowings of life and comfort from Jesus to his people. These come through the word, by the Holy Spirit, and can never fail. The root of the righteous shall not be moved. This sympathy is mutual. What touches Christ touches his people. You may be tempted to fear that you have no interest in Christ, but let his honour be touched-his name blasphemedhis truth denied, and your soul will be stirred within you. No real Christian can hear his Lord attacked without feeling it, and none but such as are one with him do so feel.