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of being speedily extricated from its entanglements. Sensible, however, of their responsibility in undertaking to declare all the counsel of God, they have often found it incumbent on them, as soldiers of Christ,―to draw the sword from its scabbard-place themselves in front of the battle and boldly war in that warfare of which they have the assurance of victory. Their fellow-labourers will acquiesce in the observation, that the task is more grateful, and the prosecution of it more delightsome, when in that department of the work, they fall in with their BRETHREN, with whom they enjoy the peace that passeth all understanding, which was obtained by the invincible arm of the glorious Captain of their salvation.
Encouraged by repeated testimonies, which have been given in favour of the work, and by its encreased circulation, the Conductors desire to pursue their unwearied course, mingling earnest prayer with every strenuous endeavour, and being conscious that the success they seek must be the gift of God, and not the fruit of human effort.
Commending the Spiritual Magazine to the prayers of its friends, and imploring the Great Head of the church to crown their endeavours with his bless ing, they desire to ascribe all glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Israel's triune Jehovah, Amen.
Spiritual Magazine ;
John v. 7.
"There are Three that bear record in heaven; the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST; and these Three are ONE." "Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." Jude 3.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.)
THOUGHTS ON THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES, AND ON THE SECURITY OF THE CHURCH.
IT is the opinion of some persons that the present state of religion is most auspicious, and that such prosperous and promising times were never before witnessed." From the rapid increase of churches, ministers, and gospel professors; from the prevalence of universal charity, and the strenuous exertions that are made to circulate the bible; many conclude we are on the eve of the millenium, and that very shortly the whole world will be evangelized.
How very different must be the opinion of him whose eyes the Lord hath opened, to take an impartial view of what is passing around him; and who forms his judgment by the unerring standard, God's most holy word; he finds nothing to bring him to such conclusions. He beholds in every direction the most awful delusions; and ministers who style themselves evangelical, uniting in opposition to every servant of God, who rises above them in knowledge and enjoyment of the everlasting gospel. He sees those evangelicals,' joining their forces with men of every sentiment, (except the reputed Antinomian) to spread their divers crudities and errors over the world, with the fallacious pretension of converting all mankind. He observes the glorious truths of the gospel are generally neglected, and very often denied, by the very persons who make the greatest boast about the spread of religion; and those ministers, whether churchmen or dissenters, reproached, who faithfully declare the counsel of VOL. II.-No. 14.
God; who proclaim a free, full, and finished salvation; who faithfully vindicate the insulted honours of Jehovah; who maintain the glorious doctrine of God the Father's love, God the Son's redemption, and God the Holy Ghost's personality, office, and influences.
With such scenes in view, and under the solemn consideration that there are so few, so very few, "who contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints ;" and that few stigmatized as enemies to God and holiness, by those who profess to have a superior love to Christ; can any one of spiritual discernment say that the gospel is prospering? Yes! praise to sovereign grace! it is prospering, and must prosper, in the thing whereunto its Almighty author sends it, notwithstanding the errors, or delusions, or oppositions of men. But those who view aright the present state of religion, find no warrant to consider that these are prosperous times; or that there are now signs of the gospel's universal triumph; but must conclude that these are days of rebuke and blasphemy-that the signs of the times rather portend a dismal night. Such is the opinion of the writer, and, it is presumed he is not alone in his view of the subject.
However, it is not his intention to fill his paper with reflections on what may well thrill the soul of every truly humble child of God with grief; but will proceed to consider, as proposed, the safety of the church in Christ, her living and covenant head.
In every age of time the church has been exposed to the assaults of numerous, powerful, and crafty enemies; but her real interests were never injured, nor in the least endangered. Many perilous circumstances she has been in, but perfectly secure in them all; and for this security the scripture very blessedly accounts. Our Lord says to his people, "Because I live ye shall live also ;" and Paul tells them, "Their life is hid with Christ in God;" thus garrisoned in Omnipotence they shall never fall. When the flood of sin, by Adam's first transgression, inundated the world, they were secure in Christ their holy head, their faithful surety, and their living Redeemer. On the flood of waters that drowned the world, they rode secure in Christ, the ark; shut in by Jehovah. In that flood of fire which will one day deluge the ungodly in everlasting perdition, they shall stand free from danger and fear, in the storm-proof, fire-proof, justifying robe of their surety's righteousness; and till then on every stormy sea on which they are destined to be tossed, they shall prove the power, the care, and the skill of their Almighty pilot, and every tempest will witness to his sovereign purpose, that the vessel of mercy shall never founder.
Think of these things, ye that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; they may tend to endear his precious name, and encourage you to stand fast in this evil day, against your and You are surrounded by men who, more your Lord's enemies.
audacious than the devil, dare to deny the deity of your Lord, and the truth of his sacred word. Such wretches, though they be awful foes to themselves, are to you the most feeble and contemptible of all who are opposed to you; for one ray of heavenly light in your mind instantly discovers their damnable delusion. You have others around you far more formidable as to your peace, but no more dangerous as to your safety; such as revile and persecute you, because you can no longer go with them in the paths of folly, or who deride you because you cannot swallow the hemlock of their heresies; such may wound your feelings, but they can do you no real injury. Remember, David says, the wicked are the Lord's sword; and that weapon, though a terrific one, is harmless while in the hand of a friend; you may be hunted by these foes, as David was, like a partridge on the mountains they may pursue so closely that you may fear, as he did, there is but a step between you and death; yet be assured you are never more safe than when the enemy presses with greatest violence, for even then, there is your God between him and you.
You have other enemies still more liable to prevent, or spoil for a time, your comforts; because through the wiles of the devil they may deceive and ensnare you. Such are they who make a great outward show in the flesh, talk much about real religion, genuine piety, and personal sanctification, so that the unwary will almost suppose them to be angels. Such characters would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect, by their signs and wonders of extensive learning, flowing eloquence, and fiery zeal. These characters being ignorant of any distinction between a regular profession of the gospel, and the truths of the gospel dwelling in the regenerate soul, by the quickening and sanctifyfying power of God the Holy Ghost, are the first and the loudest in exclaiming against those who have discovered and are freed from their delusions. Against such deceivers every truly humble believer has need constantly to watch; for Christ and his dear people have no greater enemies than these they are a pest to the church; yet from these also, as well as the rest of their opposers, the Lord will deliver and secure all his chosen.
This is a truth most blessedly attested throughout the book of God, and perhaps nowhere more fully and blessedly expressed, than by our Almighty Shepherd, when he said, "All that ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them;" that is, they did not hear them, so as to be finally deceived by them; for while the sheep were mingled in the common herd, with the goats and swine of satan, they might have heard them and with approbation; but when the good Shepherd called them by regenerating grace, he gave them an ear to distinguish his voice from the voice of strangers. Then they came from the mountains, where they had been scattered in the cloudy and dark day; then, by divine light, they were guided from the
poisonous pastures of error, into those of truth; and were led from the polluted streams of which they had been drinking, to the still waters of gospel peace. And so shall it be, in the Lord's good time, with all his chosen, they shall come to Christ and enjoy everlasting security in him to assure them of this the Lord says, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring in, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd;" and for their sweet consolation he adds, "I give unto them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."
There is another enemy forcibly opposed to the children of God, against whom they are bidden to watch and pray. Christ's words to Peter may be considered as spoken to all who love our Lord Jesus, "Satan hath desired to have you ;" and we see in the instances of the apostle and Job, what fearful havock he makes in the feelings of saints, when they fall under his power; yet this foe being a captive to Christ, can proceed no farther than his conqueror allows him; and that his malice cannot affect the best interests of the tempted soul, is demonstrated in the history of the man of Uz, and Peter's epistles. Believers may expect the frequent assaults of this enemy, for he is a vigilant and determined foe; but if living by the faith of the Son of God, we need not fear; the God of peace will shortly bruise satan under our feet; and till that is accomplished, Jesus says to every buffeted soul, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
Still the heirs of glory have another foe to grapple with, and that a most troublesome one indeed, constantly intruding on their comforts and breaking their peace, but can never affect their se-curity. Solomon says, " Israel shall know every man the plague of his own heart;" and a grievous plague does every true Israelite find it. For as one traitor in a city is more to be dreaded than many besiegers, or, as one enemy in the house is more destructive to domestic felicity, than a hundred without, so the rebel nature of the believer is his most troublesome foe. "O wretched man that I am!" is frequently the secret cry of the most established saint, and will be the cry of all such as are truly concerned for the glory of God, the honour of their holy vocation, and the well being of their souls. If the reader finds himself assailed by any of these enemies, let him unite with the writer in blessing and praising the God of all grace, that we know they are enemies; for awful indeed is the state of that soul who is in friendship with them. Let us watch and pray against them, but let us not fear them; they are all in the hand and at the disposal of our spiritual David, who in effect says to every troubled believer who comes to him, as the literal David did to poor Abiathar, 1 Samuel ii. 23. "Abide thou with me, fear not; for he that seeketh my life, seeketh thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.