Page images
PDF
EPUB

cumstances which led to the publication, and have now called for the suspension of this Journal, there is a lesson concerning the purposes of God; and to it we desire, in a few words, to direct the attention of our readers.

All Scripture declares, and all history exemplifies the fact, that God deals with mankind collectively; making it necessary for every individual to become one of a community, in order to enjoy all the privileges, and partake all the benefits, which God hath pronrised to bestow. It is shewn in his choice of the people of Israel, it is shewn in the Christian church; many individuals being gathered into unity to receive collective blessings in the ordinances ; many members in one body receiving, not singly, but all together, energy and direction from the Head.

The chief aliment of faith is teaching : "faith cometh by hearing :” and unity of faith can only be brought about and maintained by unity of spirit in teacher and hearer; by that one Spirit in both which searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. The ordained rulers of the church are held responsible for this spiritual teaching, the members of the church for this spiritual hearing: where both fulfil their calling, both are edified, and grow up into Christ in all things; where either fails, both suffer loss; and if they fail irrecoverably, God must set aside that ordinance, and will set up another, for he will not let his people be starved.

But God is long suffering, and very slow to anger: he will not set aside any ordinance till he has given full proof of its corruption, and allowed full time for repentance, and often called to the faithless shepherds to turn at his reproofs. And if they still refuse to obey, he gently leads his flock by new paths and to fresh pastures, and raises up shepherds after his own heart; making them to know that they are his flock, the flock of his pasture-feeding them according to the integrity of his heart, and guiding them by the skilfulness of his hands. “Woe bé unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord. Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of my flock; and I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.” (Jer. xxiii.)

When our Lord came to found His Church, the ordained rulers of the Jewish people were almost all become Pharisees, and had made void the law of God by their traditions; yet, notwithstanding this, he commanded his followers to reverence the word of teaching in their mouth, because they sat in Moses' seat, but not to follow their evil practices or false traditions, and to discern between truth and error. And even when they had -filled

up the measure of their iniquity by crucifying the Lord

of glory, the doom which then passed upon the Jewish rulers was restrained till other teachers were raised up full of the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual drawn out of the Jewish people and gathered into a church; when the wrath of God was poured out to the uttermost upon those who had been for many centuries the chosen people of Ood.

To the church, Christ had given the rule before the casting off of the Jewish people, saying, “ Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven;"_“Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” And in the living men, whithersoever they went, he set both the word of rule and the word of teaching: “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted :" Go ye, teach all nations.” While the church kept her first love, cherished the Holy Ghost, and produced the fruits of the Spirit; her authority, her wisdom, and her instruction lay in the mouth of living men, who spake continually as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: it was a living word going forth from the heart of the faithful speaker, and making instant way to the heart of every faithful hearer. This should have been the continual standing of the church; she should have had the word of testimony abiding still in living members.

But in process of time faith was suffered to become weak, and love to wax cold; and the living witness became proportionably feeble. Then it was that the importance of the written word became most apparent, which, being fixed in the faith of the early church, and rendered canonical by men full of the Holy Ghost, remained the unvarying test and standard for measuring the decline of the church, and renewing her in faithfulness. The written word is the common property of the whole church, of people as well as of rulers; and has been made use of continually by God to check the wanderings and recover the fidelity of his people.

The Papacy used all its efforts to defeat this purpose of God, first by their corruptions of the written word itself, and then by endeavouring to keep it from the people, both by prohibiting any version but the Latin, and not allowing any to read even the Latin without a licence from the clergy. Their efforts were defeated at the Reformation by Luther and his colleagues carrying the people back to the written word, and when faith had been thus revived in the hearts of the people, going forth anew as living teachers of the living word, preaching it warm and fresh from the heart to the heart, from faith to faith. Protestantism stands in the living word, Papacy in lifeless traditions.

And now, when the Protestant church is become nearly as dead and formal as the Papal; when the ample volume of the word of God, designed to fill every chamber of the soul of

man, to satiate all its longings and transcend its highest imaginings; when this gift of God to all men, designed to be free as the air of heaven and refreshing as the breeze of spring, has been squeezed into Articles, fettered by commentators, and the larger portion, the portion most needed now—the Prophetic portion—prohibited and proscribed by all the rulers in all the churches of the land ;-at such a time, and in such circunstances, did the Morning Watch come forth, to claim the whole word of God for the whole church ; to assert the right of every individual to interpret the whole of that word which reveals the Lord God, whose image and likeness we bear.

This work God has strengthened us to do effectually. We have torn the veil which had been cast by man over the Prophetic Volume; we have battered down the walls of the modern Babylon; the children of God are able to read the title-deeds of their inheritance, and are free to go in and take possession. Another and a far higher work now lies before us,-of leading the children in. From it we should shrink, if left to ourselves, knowing our own unfitness. But we were unprepared for the work we are closing; yet God, who saw the honest intention, greatly blessed and prospered our undertaking, and we wish to ascribe to Him all the glory of its success.

The work we are now engaged in will, in every step of its progress, bring us nearer to God, and keep us dependent upon him; and we know that He will sustain us therein, and glorify His great name.

But God has made it the inseparable condition, the unalterable constitution of man, that he should be dependent on the sympathies and support of his fellow-men; and we do therefore conclude in most earnestly soliciting the prayers of every one into whose hands this may fall. If we have taught a single truth, if we have cleared a single text, if we have presented a single motive, if we exposed a single fault, if we have done any thing to awaken esteein or excite regard, then pray

for us. Pray that we may be kept continually from thinking of ourselves, and that we may devote ourselves singly and entirely to the service of God. And

ye

who have been roused and quickened by our labours, press ye forward. The time is short, very short: there is much work to be done, and the Master standeth at the very door. The Morning Watch is past, the day dawneth, the Day Star is about to arise: put ye off all the works of darkness, put ye on the whole armour of light. Soon, very soon, shall your Lord appear, to change the living and to raise the dead : be ye ready. Soon shall the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ : be ye of them that overcome, to whom he will grant to sit with him in his throne. Soon shall the sign of the Son of Man appear in the heavens, to which all the sons of

[ocr errors]

God shall gather; lift up your heads with joy, for your redemption draweth nigh.

And let each man take for his motive the word of our Lord, “ Behold I come quickly : hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. iii. 1.)

END OF VOL. VII.

Ellerton and Henderson, Printers,

Gough Square, London.

« PreviousContinue »