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"ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE." "JESUS CHRIST, THE SAME YESTERDAY, TO-DAY, AND FOR EVER. WHOM TO KNOW IS LIFE ETERNAL."
"CAN ye not discern the signs of the times?" said our most blessed Lord to the wicked and adulterous generation among whom he tabernacled on earth; and his solemn expostulation ought now to be reiterated by all his ambassadors, through the length and breadth of this once famed and favoured land, if, peradventure, the Lord will arouse from their apathy the careless sons of Zion in British churches, before "the abomination that maketh desolate," is fully set up, and the chains of priestly despotism are rivetted upon them. With this hope I cannot refrain from obeying the divine injunction given to the Prophet Joel, "Sound an alarm in my holy mountain" (Joel, ii. 1).
O England! England! why is thy glory faded? why is thy commerce blasted? why do thy sons languish in the streets? why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, and all faces turned into paleness? (Jer. xxx. 6). Why are men's hearts failing them for fear of those things which are coming upon the earth? (Luke, xxi. 16). Is it not because national wickedness is grown up to the heavens, and the salt of the earth has lost its savour? All classes of society profess to know where the fault lies, but none seem willing to own their participation in the awful cause; legislators, landowners, agriculturists, and manufacturers, are all censured, and censure each other in turns. Poorlaws, corn-laws, and church-laws, are all canvassed and condemned, but who mourns over the flagrant outrages committed against God's laws? His Sabbath laws, his sanctuary laws, and his social laws, are treated with contempt; so that his people have cause to cry out, as did the No. 1. Vol. II.-New Series.
psalmist, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law" (Ps. cxix. 126).
The history of nations bears one uniform testimony of God's abhorrence of idolatry, and the heaviest of judgments have been executed upon those nations which have encouraged it. Where is the nation under heaven that has fostered Popery, without being beclouded with the frown of Jehovah, and scourged by the visitations of his wrath? And can England expect to go unpunished, after having been exalted above all nations, while she rejected that idolatrous system; but forsaking the very principles of her greatness, to commit fornication with the mother of harlots, has forfeited her high distinction, and daringly insulted God and his church, in the dark deed of 1829 ?
Is it not monstrous that a civilized nation should sanction and encourage yea, even bribe and support, a system which enacts murder as a standing law, and practises it whenever opportunity offers? "Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord; and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (Jer. v. 9). We ought not to wonder at plague, famine, or sword, visiting such abuse of national mercies, and yet real Christians feel constrained to pray that these judgments may be averted; and if the destroying angel should be commissioned to go through the land, and stir up the spirit of insubordination to intestine war, they may expect the protection promised to the men who sigh and cry for the abominations which are done in the land (Ezek. ix. 4—6); while those who have taken the mark of the beast in their right hand, may expect to share largely in the vials of wrath.
The great deliverance which God wrought for this land, when he brake the oppressor's yoke at the glorious Reformation, was tarnished by the act of uniformity, falsely so called; but it was trampled under foot with scorn, when the Popish ascendency bill passed into a law, forming a confederacy with that very monster Popery, whose blasphemous pretensions pervert every principle of Christianity; insult all the persons and perfections of Deity, and outrage all the laws of human society. Let it not be imagined that Popery is at all improved in its laws and constution, or that its present fawning pretensions have any sincerity in them; for as soon as it has reached the authority and power to which it is fast advancing, it will again revel in its old deeds of tyranny and blood, until every man's property, conscience, and life, are placed at the mercy of a merciless and inhuman priesthood, who have no fear of God before their eyes.
Let not my reader suppose that I use language unwarrantably strong. Read their blood-stained history-hear their own declaration, that their system (falsely called religion) is unchanged and unchangeable; then ask why every priest at his ordination makes oath to destroy and extirpate, under the name of heretics, all who refuse to join in their idolatrous rites; and then say if any language can be too strong to execrate so detestable a conspiracy against God and man! I should think myself a traitor to God and my country-a hypocrite in the church-and a foe to the well-being of society, if I did not throw all the energies of my soul into the war with Antichrist. Cursed be the false charity
which hopes that the devil is not quite so black as he once was! I war not against persons, but against principles which benumb the common feelings of humanity--violate the most sacred ties of affinity--and frame mischief, by a law to murder the innocent; as it is written, "As troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent, for they commit lewdness" (Hosea, vi. 9). What then can we think of the rationality of those who can submit to such a debasing, soul-destroying system; and even call it Catholic, when its treachery, its tyranny, and its treason, have grown up to the clouds, and have enslaved kings and kingdoms not a few? The gross absurdities and vile idolatry of Popery ought to be opposed only by sound argument, Bible truth, and vital godliness; but their murderous laws and practices ought to be suppressed by civil authority and power.
O Zion! professing Zion! shall this mother of harlots be pampered by thee? Is it true that nominal Protestants are committing fornication with filthy Popery? Are her paramours issuing forth from Oxford in droves, decked with her paltry ornaments, and caparisoned with all her imposing superstitions? Have modern apostates sworn to ape the buffoonery of Rome in Oxford, to insult the memory of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer ? Have they walked university cloisters to rake up carrion to feed the Apocalyptic beast, that he may be strengthened to spread desolation and death over the garden of the Lord in England? Is Puseyism the rallying-point of Jesuitism, where all the intrigues of Popery are to concentrate their infernal arts to overthrow our Protestant constitution? Who can discern a difference between Puseyism and Popery, except in the bare acknowledgment of the authority of the Pope in these realms, an obstacle which traitors to our beloved Queen may soon find means to remove; especially if they can persuade her to receive the Roman Pontiff here with royal honours.
O what mischievous agents of Satan are carnal men in sacred offices! This evil constitutes the nerve and sinew of Popery; and whether they are called Papists or Puseyites, they, being destitute of the life of God in their souls, must be ministers of Satan, deceivers of souls, and mockers of God. Baal's worshippers formed a huge majority of ancient Israel, but they were all carnal, and consequently enemies to God. Jezebel's state religion pampered four hundred and fifty false prophets, but they were all carnal, and consequently all opposed to Elijah. The Pharisees in our Lord's day sat in Moses' seat, claiming the antiquity of their line, but they were all carnal, and consequently opposed to Christ, and haters of his soul-humbling doctrines; therefore the meek and lowly Jesus denounced them, saying, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in " (Matt. xxiii. 13).
The haughty claim to apostolic descent, by men who hate apostolic doctrine, and who are destitute of apostolical experience, may answer the purposes of fleshly gratification and worldly preferment; but a double condemnation, and the blood of souls, will rest upon the heads of those who blindly lead the blind, until both fall into the ditch; nor will the burn
ing of candles, the crossing of the i breasts, nor their idolatrous bowing to the east, save them from the wrath of Him whose glorious Gospel they pervert, whose sent servants they despise, and whose worship they mock. Again and again has our most blessed Lord denounced such deceivers, saying, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation" (Matt. xxiii. 14). Who can read these woes without trembling for Papists and Puseyites ! But I see among the signs of the times, another of a most appalling description. "Truth is fallen in our streets," and Puseyites are not the only agents of Popery, who teach for doctrines the commandments of men alas! it has now become common in the temples of religious amusement, to substitute the Popish fable of free-will for the divine realities of free-grace; so that while Popery sets up one man as Pope, to sit in the temple of God, and to show himself as God, Arminianism sets up every man as Pope for himself, exalting his free-will above God; yea, making God dependent upon man's free-will, and so declaring war with divine sovereignty.
The analogy between Arminianism and Popery is quite as clear as is the affinity between Puseyism and Popery; for the creed of the Papist says, Christ died for all, but there is no salvation out of their Church; and Arminianism says, Christ died for all, but there is no salvation without believing as they do. The difference is only in words, and it will be an easy transition for the free-willer to intrust his responsibility to a priest instead of trusting it to a class-leader, that the priest may forward it to Rome, and then pronounce his absolution for a very little more expense than weekly pence and quarterly tickets have cost him. What an accession to the enemies' ranks, when the Puseyites throw off their mask, and the Arminians unfurl their real colours! Gird on your armour, ye soldiers of the cross; the alarm of war is already sounding in our ears, and the confederate host is marching with haste upon our beloved Zion, preparing for a furious assault.
There is one more of the signs of the times which I must mention with grief, because it is the most specious, if not the most mischievous, being the least suspected. I mean that mongrel divinity which will not avow the free-will rebellion, nor proclaim free-grace loyalty, but employs a kind of ambiguous language, which may be explained to suit either party, but which satisfies neither. This spurious divinity seems to have sprung up in good old Nehemiah's time, but his heavenly zeal would not suffer it to grow; the degenerate Jews in his day aimed to be more merciful than God, and determined that the blessings of the covenant should not be limited to a covenant people, but that all the world should have a chance: they therefore "married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab" (in defiance of God's prohibition); and the result was, "their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the speech of each people" (Neh. xiii. 23, 24). So it is with modern divinity; there is so much of worldly motive, carnal policy, and universal charity, embodied with some little Bible truth, that the clear, bold, and distinct phrase
ology of Scripture is but rarely to be heard, except from the lips of here and there a faithful Nehemiah, who is sure to be despised as an Antinomian.
Now this fashionable divinity seems to me to be quite prepared to join any party which shall obtain ascendency; and, indeed, its spirit is more like Popery than anything else; for it hath its conclave of cardinals always ready to excommunicate as heretics the most devoted servants of God, who dare maintain the distinguishing doctrines of grace, while they scruple not to associate with Papists and with Infidels in political schemes. Is it to be wondered at that, amidst crowds of fashionable admirers of such spurious divinity, we never hear of broken-hearted sinners crying for mercy? God will not put honour upon that which robs him of his glory, but will leave such to that awful apostasy foretold in the Apocalypse, when "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship the Beast, whose names are not written in the book of life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. xiii. 8).
One word to my brethren of the household of faith; beloved in the Lord, let your closets witness that you mourn over these signs of the times, and show that you are true patriots, by associating in special prayer-meetings for the deliverance of our native isle from the fangs of Popery ; * "Who can tell, if God will be gracious to us, that we perish not." One thing we are sure of-viz. that God will have his own to see his face and dwell with him in glory; and if, in the three-years-anda-half persecution, which I apprehend to be at hand, some of us shall go home in fiery chariots, we shall be ready there to shout the eternal destruction of mystic Babylon, when "the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ."
Grace, mercy, and peace, be with all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and in truth, prays earnestly their brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,
Camberwell, December 4th, 1841.
THE EDITOR TO HIS READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS ON THE OPENING OF THE YEAR 1842.
AND do you not understand us yet? Still do ye wonder who we are and what we are? As yet are ye fearful of being deceived by a wolf in sheep's clothing? And, because we started with the resolution not to enter into unprofitable disputation, do some of ye continue to regard our first Salutation as a piece of deception? Well, be it so; as we have told you before, so we tell you now, you must wait till God the Holy Ghost makes manifest in your consciences that we are men of truth, ere you will receive any comforting power with the message which we bring.
* We understand that the monthly prayer-meeting which has been held at Grove Chapel more than two years for this purpose, is still kept up with vigour on the first Tuesday evening in every month.-ED.