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VOICE OF TRUTH;
"SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE."
In ESSENTIALS, UNITY; IN NON-ESSENTIALS, LIBERTY; IN All Things, CHARITY.
Expositions and Essays.
A FEW WORDS TO OUR READERS. What wonders have been accomplished by the press ! and more especially since steam power has been employed to work it, and the electric telegraph to supply the material! We literally talk by lightning. Just fancy the astonishment of past generations if they could return and read in London to-day what took place in New York yesterday. The press has been the means of dethroning tyrants, liberating slaves, and lifting up thousands from ignorance, vice, and superstition. In fact the railway, the telegraph, and the printing-press have turned the world upside down, so that its past inhabitants would not know it.
A free press has made England what she is, as a free nation ; and while the pulpit, the platform, and the press remain free we have little to fear. We think, however, that the religious press has sadly degenerated. It is no credit to the theological writers of the present time that the ponderous folios of the Puritans are being reproduced in handy octavos. Where would have been the necessity for reprinting the works of Owen, Goodwin, Sibbes, Charnock, and others, if we had any Owens and Goodwins amongst us now? But, alas! there are none. The theologians of our time are pigmies,-the Puritans were giants. The quantity of books constantly pouring forth is wonderful ; the quality of most of them is very questionable. Would that no stronger language were needed. It is no pleasure to us to find fault, and most gladly would we cease to issue the Voice of Truth, were there plenty of sound publications of the kind. There are a few, and we heartily wish good-speed to all those magazines wherein the same truths are advocated. We disclaim all party prejudice; and for the future, as during the last two years, decline all paper war with brethren of the same views. But we will unflinchingly lift up our voice against the errors of the day.
And now let us ask our truth-loving readers to consider the power of the press for evil. This is an established power, having its foundation in our liberty. The
law of freedom gives the infidel, the papist, and the ritualist, as much right to print their views as we have ours. We acknowledge the right, and would not, if we could, deprive them of it. Let us have a fair field to all, and no favour to any; and truth, with God on her side, will accomplish all the divine pleasure. But seeing the floods of error pouring from the, so called, religious press every week, are we to be idle or indifferent ? Surely nay. Open communion and low doctrine are spreading with amazing rapidity. If things go on as they have done for the last few years, there will be very few real Baptist churches in the kingdom. And what are the agents at work to produce this sad state of things? One of the most powerful is the press. In the popular system of the day, there is nothing distinctive except a distinct denial of the great fundamental doctrines of grace. There are thousands of preachers who boast that their hearers do not know what they are. They go so nicely, as they think, between free-will and free-grace, that the more thinking Calvinists and Arminians in their congregations may each claim them. There are tens of thousands of church members who have no reason whatever for belonging to one sect and not to another, except convenience. This wretched state of things is encouraged and helped by the flood of weekly or monthly periodicals wherein is everything to please the flesh and foster a worldly spirit, but nothing to explain the plan of salvation or inform the mind on the truths of the gospel. We look upon the periodical press of the present day-which is called religious-as nothing more or less than the flood of error referred to in Rev. xii. 15—" And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.” We earnestly and affectionately appeal to our brethren, ininisters, deacons, and church members, who agree with our views, to help us. Remember who hath said_“Ye are the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” While ye sleep, the enemy is sowing tares in the field. While ye are neglecting to use the press as a means of good, the advocates of false doctrine are busy, night and day, sowing, through the medium of the press, the seeds of evil. We beseech you, as ye value sound doctrine,—as ye would be loyal to Zion's great King, -awake, and help to print and circulate the truth as it is in Jesus. Yours for his sake,
“My wanderings.”—Psa. lviii. 6.
I CANNOT boast of my origin; my father was only a gardener (Gen. ii. 15). How long he held the situation with honour, I have no means of ascertaining ; but ultimately he was discharged for stealing the fruit, and thereby the whole family were plunged into disgrace and ruin (Gen. iii. 24 ; Rom. v. 19; 1 Cor. xv. 22). . In consequence of my father's shameful conduct, I was born in slavery, as indeed were all my brothers and sisters (Jer. ii. 14). I served my master very cheerfully for many years, and, no doubt, would have continued in his service till the day of my death, if left to myself. But an alarming report reached my ears, to the effect that my master, and all who were found in his employment, were to be burnt alive. I tried
at first to disbelieve the story, but could not. The words, “burnt alive, burnt · alive,” kept ringing in my ears, till I became perfectly terror-stricken, and determined to flee for my life (Gen. xix. 17). When I started from home, strange as it may seem, I had not the least idea where to go (Heb. xi. -8). I had heard of a city called Bezer (Deut. iv. 43), where all such poor things as myself were safe, but where Bezer was,-east, west, north, or south, I could not tell. My only resource was to enquire (Jer. 1. 5); and meeting a gentleman named Do-and-live, I asked if he could direct me to the city of Bezer. The enquiry seemed at once to awaken an interest in me. The gentleman said he was exceedingly glad to find that I wanted to get into that good city, and directed me to go down Dead-man-street, take the first turning to the left, which would bring me into Duty-lane. “And,”
said he, “when you come to Duty-lane, you will observe a great crowd going one way, but very few the other ; go you the way of the crowd, neither turn to the right or left ;-Duty-lane leads direct to the city of Bezer." I thanked my kind friend, as I supposed him, and started. But he called me back, and said, “Young man, I cannot let you go without a word of caution. When you get into Duty-lane, you will see here and there, a person going the contrary way ; beware of those people, they are dangerous characters ; do not ask one of them the way, for they are sure to misdirect you.” I thanked him again, and proceeding, soon came to the celebrated Duty-lane.
There was indeed a crowd, and so respectable; they all seemed dressed in their best, and appeared so happy, it did me good to see them ; at least I thought so ; and many of the people were unmistakeably pleased when they saw me turn the corner to go the same way as the rest. “Now," thought I to myself, “I am all right ; nobody shall ever persuade me to turn out of this way. After many days, (for it is a long lane,) I saw one of those “ dangerous characters ” coming. He elbowed his way through the crowd as well as he could, for none made way for him. They seemed to look on him with contempt, and I thought he had in his face an expression of pity towards them ; but having been warned, I tried to get out of his way. He evidently observed this, and at once seized me by the arm, which alarmed me very much. “Young man,” said he, “where do you come from? and where are you going to ?” “To the city of Bezer,'' was the reply. “I thought 80,” said he; “but you will never get there by the way you are going.” “ Are not all these people going there ?”? “They think so, poor things, but they came in at the wrong end of the lane, and are really going from it. This startled me. I looked at the man with all the eyes I had. He said, “You may look, and be astonished, but I tell you the truth, depend upon it. You had better cone with me, and I will do you good” (Numb. x. 29). I declined to turn back, and was complimented for it by some who had listened to the conversation. It fact, this little incident led to the formation of several friendships with the travellers. We had many consultations together, from time to time, upon different parts of a pocket map of the country, which one had with him, and at last we concluded that we understood it quite sufficiently to find the way without further enquiry. One day when we were puzzling over the map,-for some parts we could not make out, -another of these queer people came up, and as we thought, somewhat rudely intruded himself upon us. One had quoted the opinion of Mr. Do-and-live upon some part of the map, when the stranger, interrupting, said, “If you follow that man's advice, instead of finding yourselves in Bezer, you will get to the burning mountain.” I confess I was nettled by the remark. The speaker appeared to me only a working man, and evidently had had very little education, whereas Mr. Do-andlive was a perfect gentleman, and very learned too. I answered as I felt, but will not repeat the insulting language used, for I am ashamed of it. The good man replied, “Young man, before you get to Bezer, or anywhere else in the King's dominions, you will have to be stripped of these fine clothes of yours, and have the conceit taken out of you a bit. I wish you well ; good bye.” We all laughed very rudely as he turned away, and affected to pity him ; but I felt stung by the remarks, and, to be honest, had a deal more hatred than pity in my heart toward hini.
As yet we had not been overtaken by a storm ;-all had been smooth and pleasant; but soon after the conversation above referred to, we began to be overshadowed by a dark cloud, and sounds like distant thunder were heard. The darkness increased, till I could not see my hand before me, and the thunder began to rattle dreadfully. I pushed on, hoping to find shelter, but could find none, and at last came in sight of “the burning mountain” (Heb. xii. 18). I dared not go another step; everything seemed in a blaze, yet it was pitch dark! The tempest was awful; the earth trembled so that I thought it would split and swallow me. (Numb. xvi. 32). I felt my flesh creep, and my hair stand on end. But no tongue can tell nor pen describe the scene, nor can it be realized by any who have not been there. It was a terrible sight (Heb. xii. 21), and put an end to my journey for some time in Duty-lane.
The storm having abated a little, and my fears having subsided, I began to question what was best to be done. I could not go forward, and dared not go back; therefore, there was nothing for me but to take some turning out of the lane ; and, without asking anybody, I took the first I came to. This turned out to be a very lonely road, and I had not gone far before a man met me with a drawn sword in his hand, and wrath in every feature of his countenance.-I believe his name is Moses (Rom. vii. 8–11). Seeing he meant to strike, I cried for mercy, but he said, " There is no mercy in me” (Heb. x. 28); and by one blow, smote me to the earth, and kept slashing away, till I was wounded from head to foot (Isa. i. 6). Not only so, but he stripped me of all “my fine clothes," as I certainly thought them, and took every penny of money from me, leaving me to die as in a ditch, which he said I deserved to do (Luke x. 30). There I lay for many a weary hour, and wished in my heart that I had never left home (Acts vii. 39). My wounds festered, and I became loathsome to myself (Psa. xxxviii. 5—7). At length I heard footsteps, and thought, surely, whoever it is, he will put me out of my misery. However, the man passed by, and would not so much as look at me. (Luke x. 31 ; Rom. viii. 2). His name, I believe, was Aaron. After a while, another person drew near, who did give me a look of pity as he passed, but seemed to say, “Poor creature, I can do nothing for you.” He was much like the first, and I have heard since that they are brothers.
At length, when I was as nearly dead as could be, there came a third person, on horseback, who also had a drawn sword in his hand, and his garments were all stained in blood, as though he had slain many (Rev. xix. 11-15). Now, thought I, it is all over with me ; and I cried faintly, “Woe is me, for I am undone !” (Isa. vi. 5). But as he drew near, he gave me a smile of compassion which I shall never forget. "It put new life into me, and he whispered, “ This is the time of love" (Ezek. xvi. 8), which made, as it were, a new man of me. And truly it was "the time of love." I cannot help weeping tears of thankfulness when I think of the love he manifested; for he got off his horse,-and a milk-white beauty it was ; he poured wine into my wounds, which he seemed to draw from some wounds of his own which he had received in war (Isa. liii. 5; 1 Peter ii. 24; Luke x. 34), he anointed me with oil, which was not only healing, but beautifully fragrant, and destroyed the filthy stench of my wounds (Exod. xxx. 35, 37; Prov. xxvii. 9). He also stripped himself to cover my nakedness (Ezek. xvi. 8), and put me upon bis own horse, and took me to an inn by the road side (Luke x. 34, 35). He charged the innkeeper to take every possible care of me, and whatever the expense might be, when he came that way again, he would pay it. It is quite as impossible for me to describe the pleasure I enjoyed at this time, as the pains which I had before. None but those who have had the experience of these things can at all understand them.
Great, however, as my joys were, in being thus cared for, they were short-lived. It was an inn to which I had been taken, and not a home ; therefore, my stay, at the longest, could be but short. The landlord was very kind to me, but intimated, after a while, that I had better betake myself to my journey again (Micah ii. 10). He directed me which way to go, and described certain objects which I might consider as way-marks (Jer. xxxi. 21). But I either forgot his directions, or misunderstood them, and soon lost myself upon the mountains (Ezek. xxxiv. 6), where I wandered during many a dreary day and night without either food or drink ; and while I so wandered, the agents of my old master found me. And now my troubles were, if possible, worse than ever. They mocked at my misery (Psa. xlii, 10), and said Í might as well go back and subinit myself; for I had so offended my friend who took me to the inn, that he would have no more to do with me. Indeed they made me believe that I had wandered quite beyond his reach, and could not hope to see him any more, except as an angry foe. These old fellow-servants worked terribly upon my feelings, and at last succeeded in getting me back. My old tyrant of a master at once put me in chains, and vowed that I should never more leave him.
The fetters were so constructed that they did not prevent me doing anything