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VOICE OF TRUTII;
"SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE.”
IN ESSENTIALS, UNITY; IN NON-ESSENTIALS, LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY.
(Continued from p.6.) My friends at the cave were very kind, and sent many an earnest petition to the King, beseeching him to deliver me from my bonds; and I began myself also to frame some petitions to him ; but being a poor scholar, and unacquainted with the proper style in which to address royalty, I had many fears lest my poor petitions should offend him, and bring upon me more misery rather than relief. But the good people with whom I lodged (for I had no home, being a wanderer) said there was no reason to fear, for His Majesty did not stand upon ceremony. They greatly astonished me by saying that the great Prince himself had been a poor man, and, to prove it, they referred me to the records of his life, written and published by his own direction. Here I found that his parents were working people, and he was born in a stable, because they could not afford to pay for apartments; it is said that all the lodgings in the town were let, but if his parents had possessed a golden key, some door would have opened; but they had not, and therefore the birth-place of the Prince was a stable, and his bed was the crib of the brute. In reading his life for the first time, many things surprised me, but nothing more so than the fact that he gloried in his past poverty. Most people who have risen, as it is called, try to conceal their former low estate, and some of them are even ashamed of their poor relations. I was astonished also to find that all his poverty and sufferings were voluntary, that he might sympathise with his suffering people (Phil. ii. 7, 8 ; 2 Cor. viii. 9). These facts made my heart glow with love to him, although I had never, to my knowledge, seen him (1 Pet. i. 8; Luke xxiv. 32). About this time I learnt another thing, which filled me alternately with hope and fear: it appeared that the King knew all my case and had his eye upon me, this made me hope for his mercy, and yet fear his wrath.
After sending many of the best petitions I could frame, and waiting a long while, he sent me a message-it was this : “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears” (2 Kings xx. 5). These sweet words had no sooner saluted my ears and comforted my heart, than one whispered, “ Do not deceive yourself ; this message is not for you. Do you think it likely so great a Prince will hear your prayer, or take any notice of your tears ?” I said it was not likely, and then this enemy, for such he was, raked up all my past sins and set them before my face (Psa. li. 3 ; xc. 8), to which I pleaded guilty, and left off petitioning for a time, thinking it was of no use. After a while, a friend informed me that the message really was for me, and he was an enemy who said it was not; he urged me to petition the King again, and assured me of ultimate success. My reply was, that all the foe had said of me was true, and it was of no use.“ Grant that it is true,” said he,“ the King delighteth in mercy (Mic. vii. 18), and as surely as you seek, you shall find, if you only seek aright.” “Ah!” said I, “that is it, seek aright : how can a poor creature like me seek aright ?" However, I resolved to try, thinking that I could but perish after all (Esther iv. 16), and só sent another petition to the King. It was blotted and spotted with tears, for I wept all the time of framing it, and was much ashamed when done ; but it went, and in a few days the postman (Esther viii. 10, 11) brought me this answer, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isa. Ixvi. 2). No sooner had I read the words than the foe was at my right hand (Zech. iii. 1), and said, “You are not the manthat letter is not for you ; your name is neither upon the back of it nor in it.” “ But the postman said it was for me,” I replied ; and while the conversation was going on, the royal officer came again (for he was still in the street), and gave such a knock at the door (Rev. iii. 20) that it made me tremble again, and he handed me this message from His Majesty : “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John vi. 37). I asked the adversary what he thought of these words “In no wise." He made no answer, but slunk away and troubled me no more for some hours, during which the same postman gave me many sweet notes, all of which he assured me were from the King, and intended specially for myself. My mind was much cheered by these, but still I could not get rid of the chain.
About this time I made the acquaintance of one Mr. Go-between, who took a hammer (Jer. xxiii. 29) and broke a link or two, so that I was able to walk a little, but had to carry the chain, and the loose ends of it dangled about and often entangled me as much as before (Gal. v. 1). But having a long journey before me, I was anxious to proceed, and asked Mr. Go-between "for the old paths ” (Jer. vi. 16). He said, “ You must not go by the old way; it was all very well for people who lived in the olden times, but in these days of progress a much better way has been discovered, and you must move with the times." I was wonderfully taken with this man, he appeared to me as near perfection as possible ; and my foolish heart put implicit confidence in him. He said this new way was called Moderation-hill, which lay directly between Duty-lane and Freeman's-walk, and partook of the nature of them both. He told me that it was a very glorious yet a very mysterious way, for all was free and yet not free; “ food, clothing, lodging, and every needful thing, for travellers,” said he, “are to be had without money, and without price, and yet they will be punished if they don't pay for them !" Moreover I was informed that all might go up this hill, some must go, and although many had no power at all to climb, the King would punish them if they did not. I confessed myself much bewildered and confused, and wanted an explanation of the mystery. “Ah !" said my instructor, “ we cannot explain ; all we know is that it is so, and it is not for us to find fault with the King's own way, but to walk in it, and he will explain it by and bye." I was not at all satisfied, but being a poor ignorant creature, and thinking Mr. Go-between must know, for he bad served his time to be a guide in such matters, I started to go up this Moderation-hill. But he ought to have called it Botheration-hill, I think, for I was never so bothered in my life as in trying to ascend it ; there were nothing but hooks and crooks, and ins and outs, you never could tell where you were ; and then the great chain was constantly catching in something or other, and bringing one to a complete standstill. Here I toiled on for many a weary day, and might have been toiling now with my chain on; but my old enemy, in attempting my ruin, outwitted bimself, and was the means of my deliverance. Seeing that I could not run, he sent one after me called “ The Avenger of Blood ” (Numb. xxxv. 12; Psa. xliv, 15, 16), who charged me with attempting the King's life, and put me in prison (Acts xii. 4), and assured me that I should not come out, except for execution. This led many friends to petition the King very earnestly on my behalf, and he graciously condescended to hear them, and sent one of his servants to fetch me out (Acts xii. 7). He brought such a light with him as I never saw before nor since (Mic. vii. 8); it seemed more like a dream than a reality (Acts xii. 9). However, my chain fell off, and I got up and followed my guide, who took me to some friends, living on the right-hand side of what I call Botheration-hill. This place is called Freeman's-walk, and had the following inscription over the archway where you enter—“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John viii. 32). Here I met with one Mr. Freeman, who took his name from the name of the street, having been born there. Being a native of the place, Mr. Freeman knew the locality well, and it was a mercy for me that I ever made his acquaintance.
I was now, as it were, in a new world. Mr. Freeman and I met in the spring, and he conducted me through the the fields toward the King's palace ; the lambs were playing, the birds singing, the flowers blooming, and the sun shining (Sol. Song ii. 10–13), so that I forgot my past troubles and felt as if I could sing too. I had not gone far in this delightful path before I was met by one of the King's servants, who said, “I am sent to tell you that His Majesty commands you to dine with him to day at noon” (Gen. xliii. 16). I said he must surely be mistaken, but he insisted upon it that I was the person, and in proof thereof shewed me these words in His Majesty's own hand-writing (2 Cor. iii. 3): “Fear not ; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name ; thou art mine” (Isa. xliii. 1). I made all manner of excuses : however, he would not be said nay, but compelled me to go in (Luke xiv. 23). I was first taken into what some people call “the stripping-room," and there divested of all my own clothes (Zech. iii. 4), which were indeed mere rags and very filthy (Isa. lxiv. 6). I was next led to the bath-room, and thoroughly washed (Zech. xiii. 1 ; Titus iii. 5 ; 1 Cor. vi. 11), which was unspeakably refreshing. Then my kind friend took me to the King's wardrobe, and clothed me anew, and really I hardly knew myself. My raiment was of the most exquisite needle-work, and wrought with the best gold, and richly perfumed with oil of myrrh, and other sweet odours (Psa. xlv. 8, 13; Esther ii. 12). Thus was I arrayed, and begun to sing this song
“ He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He hath covered me with the role of righteousness,
And as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels "—(Isa. xli. 10). But my kind friend had not finished : he led me to another chamber, called “the treasury” (Matt. xiii. 52), and put bracelets upon my hands, and a beautiful chain upon my neck, and jewelled earrings in my ears, and set a crown upon my head (Ezek. xvi. 11, 12). Thus he brought me in unto the King (Esther ii. 16), in whose eyes I obtained favour, and he held out to me a golden sceptre which was in his hand ; and I drew near, fell at his feet, and kissed the sceptre. I then had the honour of sitting down with His Majesty, at his own table, which was richly laden with fat things, and wines of the best quality, and he was pleased to say—“Eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved (see Isa. xxv. 6; Sol. Song i. 12; v. 1). Thus was I entertained for many days, and glorious days they were, such as I could not forget were I to try.
At length my good friend, Mr. Freeman, reminded me that those who had received so many royal favours ought, in some way, to shew their gratitude ; and one day, at the close of our feast, he cried with a loud voice, “Who is on the side of my Lord ?” (Exo. xxxii. 26.) Several who were present, and myself amongst them declared that no other lord should ever again rule over us ; and we were willing to do anything that might prove our loyalty. Mr. Freeman addressed us thus: “My Lord has no need of any service from your hands, but he loves to see his subjects show their attachment to his Person and crown, and, therefore, has given orders that all who love him keep his commandments (John xiv. 15); and one command is that you separate yourselves from his enemies, and to prove that you are willing so to do, he has placed a pool of water before the door of the house of enrolment ; you must pass through that pool into the house, and then have your names formally enrolled amongst his loyal subjects.” He told us to think it over, as it was a very important thing to do, and many had done it in thoughtless haste, and afterwards gone over to the foe again, which was a great grief to the King's army. We all promised to think the matter over very seriously, and to see him again on the subject.
We did not merely think, but talked a good deal about this matter of going through the pool. We also observed how others acted who were seeking to be enrolled in the army, and occasionally asked their advice. In some cases they laid a plank over the water and passed in on that, in others they went round it, and entered by the back door ; and they excused themselves by saying that it was not necessary to go through the water. I was greatly disposed to follow the example of these people, but Mr. Freeman, who stood at the head of a few who had all gone in through the water, would not have a plank put over the pool. I asked him what right he had to put the pool there, which he denied having done. “The King” he said, “put it there, and I am set to see that it is neither filled up nor bridged over; and my duty is to refuse admission to all who decline entering in that way.” “Who are you ?” said I ;“ it is not your house, or your army, therefore what right have you to refuse admission to me, who have dined with His Majesty, and received so many tokens of his royal favour at bis hands ?” “You are right,” said he ; " and just because it is not my house, I dare not depart from the royal commands which I have received (Matt. xxviii. 20). Were it my house, I could do as I pleased; but I am only a servant, and must obey my Master's commands, whatever others may do." “ Then,” said' 1, "you doubt my interest in the King's favour, and loyalty to his person, do you ?” He replied, “No, I have nothing whatever to do with that ; these things are between you and him : my duty is to be faithful to my charge, and to see that all who come in here shew their love by their obedience” (John xiv. 15). That word had great weight with me, and I began to see and feel that it was simply a matter of obedience or disobedience. Nothing could be more plain than that the King had ordered the water to be placed there, and commanded all who entered the house to go through it; and what if a large majority evaded the law, that would be no excuse for me. So I made up my mind to obey, and hoped in that house to find a little rest for the poor
WANDERER ... (To be continued.)
A PRECIOUS CHRIST.
"Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious.”—1 Pet. ii. 7.
SECOND. - He is precious in his covenant undertakings. “His goings forth in this respect have been from of old, even from everlasting." He who was always in the bosom of the Father, tells us, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth ; when there were no fountains abounding with water ; before the mountains were settled ; before the hills was I brought forth ; while as yet he had not made the earth or the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there ; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree ; when he appointed the foundations of the earth. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him ; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men." (Prov. viii. 22–31.) Surely we have in this wonderful language Christ, as the great wisdom of God, speaking; the first and the last of all God's thoughts, and works, and ways. The eternal loving heart of Christ was fixed upon his bride before she fell, and in consideration of her lapsed and woeful condition under the fall, his thoughts of love and pity enıbraced her, and in the foreview and foreknowledge of all that she would prove, he willingly engaged his heart in eternity on her behalf, and entered into a covenant of everlasting peace with his Father to redeem her honourably and eternally from all the direful effects of the fall, by becoming her Kinsman Redeemer, her glorious Substitute and Surety, and that with a full and perfect knowledge of all that it would cost him to redeem her, he stipulated in covenant to give him himself for her, to stand in her place, to obey and suffer in her room and stead. And hence his precious blood is called, "the blood of the everlasting covenant.” And all this was settled and done in the fixed and eternal purposes of grace. All was secured, before the wheels of time began to revolve, in covenant betwixt the Great Three-One.
The eternally loved and chosen people of God, the election of grace, were given by the Father to the Son, and he (the Son) embraced the church in his everlasting loving heart as his own chosen and dearly-loved bride. He fixed his love upon her before she fell as she was presented to him in her pure condition, and having loved her and betrothed her to himself, he entered into covenant with the Father on her behalf. “The covenant of peace was between them both ;" that is, between the Father and the Son. In the Father's book of life were all his mystic members then written, when as yet there was none of them ; and long before the stage or platform of time was erected on which these mighty wonders were to be actualized and brought to pass. Is not this truth precious to thee, poor believer? though it is hated and despised by all others. Let the world kick, and mere professors rail and gainşay these glorious gospel facts, be it ours often with a melted heart and glowing soul to sing with dear Kent
“Before thy bands had made
The sun to rule the day,
Or fashioned Adam's clay;
In thy dear bosom, O my God.” We can afford to pity those who hate the doctrine of God's electing love, while we are favoured to lie upon the bosom of it, and drink a draught of this pure water of eternal life. Oh, the thoughts of our loving God were busy active thoughts indeed ! they took in everything of the future, they ran out on our salvation before he spread the starry sky, and these firm, settled, ancient and covenant undertakings of Christ are precious indeed, and are the rock on which the believer builds, and from whence he draws strong consolation. But, Thirdly.-His name is precious. Ah
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds,
In a believer's ear!” By his name we may understand all his precious names in one. What a sweet and blessed cluster is here, as they are exhibited in the glorious gospel. His name shall be called Wonderful ; and this epithet, Wonderful, may well be attached to all his other names. Is he à Saviour ? Ah, he is a wonderful Saviour ! Nay, he is the only Saviour ; his saved ones will for ever illustrate this great truth that he is a wonderful Saviour, for every one of the many millions are all wonders. Oh what mysterious and God-like wonders are unfolded in all his saving acts. Is he a Priest ? What a wonderful Pries the is! The only one Great High Priest of our profession. Great indeed he is, so great, there is no room for another; the sacrifice