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(For the Spiritual Magazine.) THE SUPERIORITY OF THE FRIENDSHIP OF CHRIST
ABOVE THAT OF HUMAN FRIENDSHIP. THERE is a something in the friendship of Christ which fills the mind with astonishment; it is a friendship that brings with it all happiness, and which like the Redeemer himself is from everlasting to everlasting. The superiority of this friendship appears-
1. In that Christ is a rich friend. A man may have a friend warmly attached to his interest, but unable to administer to his necessities;
but Jesus hath all the riches of nature, grace, and glory in his possession. There is not a want but he can supply, not a blessing but he can bestow. Possessed of uncontrouled authority and dominion, he can make the greatest persecutors relieve the wants of his people, and bring them relief from unexpected quarters. Even the prince of darkness must subserve his purpose, and at his command bring support to the distressed saints. Hence the poorest believer who hath Jesus for his portion, may, adopt the language of the apostle, “having nothing and yet possessing all things.” In Christ he has every blessing, for it is his fulness that supplieth all in all. 2. Christ is an ever-present
friend. It is possible for a man to have a friend whose affection for him is fervent, but he may be absent in the hour of distress; but Jesus is ever present with his people. Whatever may be their trials, still he is near them. He directs every trial through which they pass, beholds all the workings of their minds under trials, and proportions their strength and consolation to their afflictions; amidst the various dangers to which they are exposed, and temptations through which they are called to pass, the arms of the Redeemer's everlasting love are underneath, and his eye of compassion continually watches over them. This is his encouraging promise, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” No artifice of Satan against his people is unknown to the Redeemer ; and their persecutors cannot be more ready to injure than he is to defend them.” “ I am with thee,” is his promise, “ in all places whither thou goest, and I will not leave thee till I have done that which I have spoken concerning thee."
3. Christ is an unchangeable friend. Earthly friendship may be broken-man is a fickle creature, but Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Amidst all the changes that his people pass through, with regard to their frames and feelings, his love is still the same. Amidst all the various trials and temptations they experience, they are ever in his-sight as those that have found favour. In all their afflictions there is no wrath, for there is not (according to the original text of Rom. viii. 1.) one condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus. “ As I have sworn,” saith the Redeemer, “ that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth ; so have I sworn that I will not be wrath with thee nor rebuke thee!”
But what renders the friendship of Christ so glorious is, that it is everlasting in its duration, Death will snap asunder the most endearing bonds of human friendship, but the friendship of Christ will survive the wreck of worlds. It will convey every ransomed soul to the realms of light, and to the constant source of his enjoyment. This is the declaration of the Redeemer who is faithful and true, “ I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Afflict them he may—cause them to walk in darkness—and lead them through many sharp soul exercises, but he hath graven them in the palms of his hands, and they shall never, never be forsaken of him. And let every humble follower of Jesus remember that this description of his friendship is not imaginary, for he is a tried friend. Thousands have depended upon him, and found him a friend that liveth at all times. They have passed through various trials, been persecuted and harassed in the world, but Jesus hath not forsaken them. They have enjoyed his presence, fed upon his truth, been upheld by his power, and are now saying in the celestial kingdom, “Oh! what a friend was Christ to me!" Thousands who are now travelling to glory, who can say that Jesus is a friend that loveth at all times--they have often been cast down-experienced the uncertainty of human friendship--but are brought to adopt from experience the words of David, "
my soul is even as a weaned child;" but they can say respectively, “ this is my beloved and this is my friend.”
O reader, make this the solemn enquiry, " what know I of the friendship of Christ ?” And let every regenerate child of God learn to prize more this friendship. Come to Jesus under all your temptations, wants, and sorrows, as a brother born for adversity. Come to Jesus as your never-failing friend ; cast all you care upon him-; and look for grace to rest upon that promise:-“his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure.” Twyford, May 12, 1827.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE AFFLICTED.
IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO A FRIEND. My dear Friend and fellow-heir of the grace of life,
I HAVE been looking somewhat anxiously for some time past for an opportunity to answer your last epistle, and now embrace a few flying moments to acknowledge my debt, and in some measure to repay the same. As for a subject to employ my pen, I know not what is more sweet for a christian to contemplate, than, " the unceasing kindness, and unalterable friendship of a covenant-keeping God.” This is a theme always cheering, especially when faith steps over the dusky surface of this guilty globe, and enters within the veil, where - uncreated majesty reflects unnumbered glories upon an innumerable company of the ransomed of the Lord, who have arrived at their destined home by the good hand of him
who leads forth the people whom he redeemed: whose conquest and pleasures (for without us they cannot be 'perfect,) beckon away our thoughts and affections from this busy bustling scene, where all is hurry, confusion, and vexation, to that blissful land, where white-robed victors, and the palm-bearing throng, sing without sighing, and shout without fear of painful interruption.
But, here, how many, very many painful distractions of soul ; how much to oppress the heart, and to lower the tone of spiritual feeling, arising from the world of evil within, and the world of affliction without ! To this thou art no stranger ; thine has been hitherto a rough path ; and to the end we must expect much tribulation. But has there been no mercy in all the cup? No love in all the appointments ? And no friendship intermingled with every stroke "Oh! yes; though nature may feel restless, and cruel unbelief misconstrue the kindest intention, still Jehovah is the same, his promise never fails, “and though we believe not, he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself.” This has often cheered my spirits when darkness has beclouded my path, and difficulty attended my steps; and no doubt you have gathered encouragement from the same consideration. Time is rolling on with rapid pace, and soon, yea, very soon, we shall have done for ever with sorrow and temptation, and feel no
a pricking briar, or a grievous thorn;" for we shall be shut in with God in the land of uninterrupted repose, where nothing can intrude to mar enjoyment, or to vex our peace !
All this realized by faith tends greatly to smooth the rugged brow of care, and to sweeten the pathway of human existence; and all this we need to aid us upward, and to give a fulness, a satisfaction to the immortal mind. Nothing short of the fulness of Christ, and his heaven-creating smiles, can possibly satisfy the soul spoiled for the world ; and when this is received by the manifestation of the Spirit of God, how light is the heaviest burthen; how vain the world with all its pomp; how righteous the government of heaven; how wise the appointments of divine faithfulness; and how growingly precious to the soul is the Lord Christ in his person, promises, grace and salvation. Then though poverty in all its forms be our portion, and affliction our allotment, we cannot help singing,
“ I am rich to all the intents of bliss,
If thou, O Christ, art mine." The sacred sentiments of the cross are those, and only those, by which the child of God can live with satisfaction, and these are they which soothe an anxious heart in the dying moment. The bible-fact (experimentally understood) that God is our refuge and portion, cannot fail to generate a secret satisfaction and triumph, even when the
weary wheels of life stand still.”
Infidelity may affect a sneer, but the stubborn fact it cannot gainsay; the “ secret of the Lord” it cannot reach, and the holy pleasures of the renewed soul it does not understand. The modern professor dressed in all the gaudy plume of the “ would-be christian,” treats the sacred unction, the heavenly savour, the holy influence, the
kindly operation, and the diffusive generous quality of the holy incorruptible seed, with contempt; with him all (and little else beside) external shew and parade will be relished, because he possesses no inner consciousness that he needs a receiving principle or faculty, by which the real disciple has and holds fellowship with Jesus in his person, fulness, grace and salvation! Knowledge without faith, and faith without love, will not do; this will not stand the trying test; a dry speculative faith or knowledge will leave the soul upon the premises of speculation, and not upon the rock of eternal
whilst heaven-born faith, which is the gift of eternal kindness, the fruit of Immanuel's death, and the offspring of the power of the Holy Spirit, brings the soul with sweet simplicity to him who is the head, and centre, and end of all Jehovah's ways; as its Alpha and Omega, yea, as its all in all.
Cheer up, my fellow traveller, thine is not a solitary path, though it may be a trying one ; thickly imprinted on it are the footsteps of the flock; and behold the impress of the Master's feet, who was a man of sorrows and had grief as his intimate companion, remember his gracious words, dweli upon his promises, hang upon his arm, look up to his throne, expect his visits, and anticipate deliverance, for “ he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” What has become of many who once occupied honourable stations in the church of Christ ? And where are many of the once cross-bearing train ? They have left this vale of tears, and are now around the throne : thrice happy songsters, how cheerfully and melodiously they strike their harps, and attune their voices to him who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever,
“ All their sorrows left below,
And earth exchanged for heaven.” And is it not still said in the page of unerring truth, “ and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried ; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them ; I will say it is my people; and they shall say the Lord is my God ?” Zech. xiii. 9. This must suffice; my pen has betrayed me, and in conclusion would rehearse the exhortation of the man of God, “ Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait I say on the Lord.” Ever believe me your's in our's,
May 14, 1827.
For the Spiritual Magazine.) ON THE RELIEF OF POOR, SICK, INFIRM, AND AGED
GOSPEL MINISTERS, Mr. Editor,
It is with much pleasure that I have perused papers in your Magazine under the signatures of .“ James,” and “Henry,” advocating the formation of a society for the relief of necessitous gospel ministers. Such a society well organized, and properly conducted,
would prove a great blessing. It is indeed much needed. I fully agree with “ Henry,” that the proposed society should be formed
upon a broad and liberal plan,” and with him would“ deprecate the idea of party feeling.” I would, in such a society, have no knowledge of the names * baptist,” or “ independent," but I would say 5 ministers of the gospel of the ever-blessed God.” “ Henry would have no reference made to “ doctrinal faith, or church discipline.” No; not by any means to church discipline; but to doctrinal faith most assuredly. Here is the rub. It is doctrinal faith that excludes many a worthy honourable man of God now from ample available funds to which he is entitled.
I would not trust my pen 10 mark in sentences what my mind teems with on this subject. They say, it is the exposition of some great lawyer that, “ the greater the truth, the greater the libel ;" I therefore forbear. Yet not altogether forbear, but would suggest could not a meeting be brought about, in the first instance, of a few honourable God-fearing persons, whose hearts are in this thing, and a committee be formed, whose first object should be to make inquiry and obtain real information as to what funds are already in existence, and available to this distinct object ? I am very much deceived if it does not turn out, that the difficulty will not lie in how to raise money for this laudable object, owing to the multiplicity of societies already in being, &c. &c. but how monies long ago raised, and funded, may be obtained and appropriated according to the donor's intentions !" If this latter can be done, and it ought to be done, we shall not need to raise much money:
Both your correspondents have adverted to the Regium donum, the parliamentary grant,” it is now called. My information runs (I vouch not for its correctness) that the amount is, at least, £1700 per annum; this is voted by parliament exclusively for the benefit of poor dissenting ministers. i look to the case of the poor applicant refused relief from its funds, adverted to in p. 332 of this Magazine by “ James, and would say to you, Mr. Editor, that this poor man, and such like him, only wanted the existence of such a society (a little army of observation) as is proposed, to stand up for him, and the determination of these charitable gentlemen not to relieve such, would be instantly done away. Sir, they have no choice; they must relieve poor deserving applicants while funds last, or answer for it to the government, whose almoners they are.
Again; what funds the independents have, professedly appropriated to this exclusive object, I cannot say at present; though I feel persuaded their resources, on investigation, will be found to be ample. The baptists have means. Upwards of one hundred years ago the “ Particular Baptist Fund” was instituted for the relief of poor ministers, &c. The ministers and messengers of nine (formerly ten) baptist churches in London, whose names I can give you, form the society who yearly distribute its funds. What is the amount now of the annual distribution in March, I really cannot say, but it must Vol. IV.–No. 38.