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By the good providence of God, the Primitive Church Magazine has been permitted throughout another year to continue its advocacy of New Testament principles. From this great duty it has not consciously swerved either to the right hand or to the left, and the Editor has received assurances that the service rendered by it during the year 1858 has not been rendered in vain. For this encouragement he is largely indebted to the numerous brethren and friends who have with such unwearied kindness supplied him with the means of continuing the interest and usefulness of the work, and he would respectfully solicit their valuable assistance in the future.
In the prosecution of the objects for which this Magazine was originated, and has been now for fifteen years so perseveringly sustained, the Editor has been brought into closer contact with the lax principles of the day than it had ever been his lot before. He has possessed far more abundant opportunities than he could have had in any other circumstances, of becoming acquainted with the plausibilities, the loose reasoning, the superficial pleas of an equally superficial liberality, under whose disguises rank error is paraded among the churches as sage religious truth. And after an impartial and a comprehensive survey of these too popular methods of teaching the commandments of men,” he is more than ever convinced of the necessity of such an organ as the Primitive Church Magazine, if for no other purpose than that of maintaining a standing protest against the surrender of a known ordinance of God in favour of the gratuitous liberality of the day.
To every true-hearted Baptist it must be a source of deep and constant regret that a large portion of his own denomination have so deliberately abandoned the high vantage ground which their noble forefathers
No. CLXIX.-JANUARY 1, 1858.
Essays, Expositions, &c.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR. And what shall make it happy? What and matchless assurance addressed to him, is that condition that shall make the year “All are your's, and ye are Christ's, and 1858 the happiest year we have ever Christ is God's." passed ? As a " new year's” welcome, we
II. If we
walk with God” in daily beg to offer a few plain thoughts on the communion, it will be a happy new year. elements of that condition that shall make
“Heaven begins below” where the soul it truly “ a happy new year.”
lives in daily communion with God; and I. If we are in a state of pardon, it will “ a happy new year” indeed will that be be a happy new year. There is no hap- which brings us into a closer communion piness upon earth to be compared to that with our Father in heaven. It is no vain of a pardoned state.
stretch of the imagination to suppose that, “ If sin be pardoned I'm secure, when “Enoch walked with God,” that Death hath no sting beside."
holy man and distinguished saint passed To a pardoned sinner, the thunders of a no day without the most intimate combroken law, the afflictions of time, and munion with his Maker. His heavenly the solemnities of eternity can convey no Friend, though invisible, was ever at his terror, and threaten no alarm. The past, side ; and as converse flows between black as it may have been with sin, is re- earthly companions when they travel by the medied by pardon; and the future, though way, so that eminent patriarch "walked arrayed in all the awful majesty of inexo- with God” in holy communion about spirable justice, is deprived of dread by the ritual and everlasting things. And how removal of sin. He who enjoys this bless- unutterably sweet will such communion be ing of God's everlasting love, can look to the saint of God upon the earth, when back with gratitude and forward with he converses with the Infinite Good, and joy, for both law and gospel unite to as- brings his own poverty, weakness, and sure him, that where sin is removed by corruption, to the All-supplying Fountain pardon, 'there is now no condemnation of grace, strength, and holiness. The very and there can be no future curse. Such want of the one party invites the approach a man needs not wealth, or worldly ho- of the greater with a boundless supply; nour, or “the pleasures of sin” to make and when the saint, “with groanings him happy. Blessed with pardon, he which cannot be uttered,” opens looks up to heaven and can hear the sweet to his Divine Father, it is that he may be
VOL. XV.---NO, CLXIX,
“filled with all the fulness o God.” And nations may spread perplexity and disthe year that brings its round of days, may abroad. Or the glow of health may where each shall witness the spontaneous be reduced, and consuming sickness, or flowing of the believer's communion with death itself, appointed in its place;-father, God, will be to him, in the highest and mother, sister, brother, son, or daughter, holiest degree, a happy new year. may be snatched from our sight, and re
III. If our union with Christ, and con- moved for ever from our earthly embrace. fiding trust in his glorious work, are clear Yet if, under all these changes, sorrows, and undoubted, it will be a happy new and losses, we are prompted by a solid year.
trust in God our Father to exclaim, with Christ is “the life;" hence the true be- \ a throbbing heart and a plaintive gratiliever's life is “hid with Christ in God," tude, “Thy will be done,” —even then, in and can be known only to the man who is the darkest day, and amidst the deepest united to the Son of God. Apart from waters, it will be a happy new year. him, the soul of man is “dead in trespasses There will be seen the golden thread of and sins.” It has no more acquaintance heaven interweaving its quiet brilliance with “life”, than a corpse has with the with the coarse and complicated web of bustle of living socie But what is the human life; and as the eye of faith shall principle of union? It is faith, living trace its silent working, there will appear faith in the Saviour, as one from whom all in all its movements the hand of an AllDivine life proceeds, and without whom wise, All-merciful God. Watching the all is dead, -spiritually, morally, and ir- motions of that wonder-working hand, recoverably dead. If, then, this union the tried and tempted saint will enjoy in with the source of life is ascertained and its fullest assurance the imperishable truth, demonstrated, --if we really feel that spi- that “all things work together for good ritually "we live, and move, and have our to them that love God.” being” in Christ, then all is right for time V. If we throw our whole energies into and eternity. Our hope in the great fu- the cause of God and his truth, it will be ture, and our exertions, activity, and suc- to us a happy new year. cess in the present world, will concentrate To be a "cumberer of the ground,"—to in Christ. He will be our “all and in all.” pass year after year until life itself has Without him we shall conceive nothing, ebbed away, and leave no trace behind of attempt nothing, and“ do nothing;" and,“ the work of faith or the labour of love." with this conviction upon us, we shall is not only the most dangerous, but it is gladly admit that a crucified Redeemer is also the most miserable condition of man. our life, our strength, our entire existence. The beautiful poet of our childhood has Upon this conviction we shall unhesi- described with remarkable accuracy this tatingly acknowledge that our justifica- unhappy character in the well-known tion, our righteousness by imputation, and lines :our victory over Satan, self, and the
" And Satan finds some mischief still world, can come alone from Christ, and
For idle hands to do." that he is as vitally necessary to all the aspects of our spiritual life as breath is to If we are not co-operating with God in our body, or as light is to the eye. If the kingdom of his dear Son, then we are this conviction,—this confidence in Christ, the slaves, and servants, and agents, of is but reduced to practice, then the pre- the wicked one; and no condition of exsent will be to us a happy new year.
istence short of everlasting perdition can IV. If we resign ourselves to the sole compare in point of misery with the one, government of the Divine will and aban- where the sole activity is that of evil, and don our own, then it will be to us a happy the only work done is that of darkness new year.
and sin. But if, inspired with heavenly The year may be one of great trial, grace, and prompted to copy Him “who temptation, and want;—“the fig tree may went about doing good,” we give ourselves not blossom, neither may fruit be in the to the cause of God, to his church, his vines; the labour of the olive may fail, truth, his interests,-if, with revolving and the fields may yield no meat;" com- seasons, each can declare with honest sinmercial embarrassments may occasion se- cerity, 'I have loved the habitation of thy 'vere privaticns at home, and distress of house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth;" and that in the family, the assurance of faith.” Then, the “calling ministry, the Sabbath-school, or the world and election" are sure. The vast interests at large, we have earnestly aimed to “turn of future glory are placed from that momany unto righteousness;" then, in a very ment beyond all uncertainty in the conhigh degree the present will be a happy victions of the believer; and while faith new year. The rolling months will neces- maintains this Pisgah elevation, the heasarily bring returning labour, and the venly Canaan is seen beyond the Jordan, assured reward of that prayerful, depend- stretching out in celestial beauty into the ent labour, will be the fulfilment of the broad plains of everlasting delight. And promise that “in due season ye shall reap should the present year but place our viif ye faint not.” To have been “workers sion upon that favoured eminence, whence together with God” in the gospel of Christ, we may survey in the past the “waste, to have wrestled by the power of the howling wilderness,” through which we Holy Spirit, and to have given him “no have been so safely conducted, and overrest” until "he make Jerusalem a praise look in the forward distance the golden in the earth,” will be to have employed city with the saints and angels there, beprecious time to the most valuable of pur- holding their worship before the throne of poses, and to have secured, in the noblest God an the Lamb, and then be assured of all employments, a happy new year. that, once the Jordan passed, we are at
VI. If by a diligent and prayerful use home for ever and ever,—the year will be of the Lords ordinances we are enabled to itself a foretaste of that glory, and
prove make our “ calling and election sure," then the best we have known upon earth. it will be to us a happy new year.
Let us, then, “gird up the loins of our The path to heaven is as " the shining mind,” and labour after this sounder cerlight, that shineth more and more unto tainty concerning our everlasting future. the perfect day.” Where there is no pro- With Paul, our true wisdom is to “press gress there can be no grace, for “the toward the mark for the prize of the high Blade, the ear, and the full corn in the calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Should ear” are necessary to each other as ad- this be our purpose in the grace of the vancing developments of Divine truth in Holy Spirit, then its attainment will the heart. Its early stages are in most stamp the present above all former ones, instances weak and faint, but, progressing as a happy new year.” onwards, it reaches eventually “the full
ARE THE EPISTLES OF THE APOSTLES EQUAL IN AUTHORITY WITH THE WORDS OF CHRIST RECORDED IN THE GOSPEL ?
The enquiry, be it or served, is not from his superiority, manifests his conwhether the personal dignity or authority descension in a stronger and more wonof the speakers in both cases be equal; derful manner. As the great Bridegroom for concerning that we cannot have a mo- of the church, he was willing to put disment's hesitation. Christ is exalted above tinguished honour upon her, giving honour all principality and power, and has a name to the weaker vessel. (1 Pet. iii. 7.) “Verily, which is above every name, whether in verily, I say unto you,” are the words of this world or in the world to come, so the Almighty Saviour, “He that believeth that before Him every knee must bow. on me the works that I do shall he do
Nor does our present inquiry so much also; and GREATER works than these shall relate to the comparative clearness and he do.” The Lord Jesus was willing that fulness of disclosure in exhibiting the way his apostles should, by the power of the of salvation; for in this it perhaps might Holy Ghost, convert more sinners in the be shown that the discoveries of grace space of a few days, than were probably made in the epistles are more full and converted during the whole of his perclear even than those communicated by sonal ministry on earth. He well knew the Saviour during his personal ministry that without him they could do nothing, on earth. This, so far from derogating and this he carefully taught them to re
WERE WRITTEN BY
member. A few hours only before his The chief hazard in the communication death he said, “I have yet many things of truth, is, lest it should be intermingled to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them or encrusted with error or falsehood. now. Howbeit
, when he, the Spirit of Many tales have a basis of fact, but fictruth, is come, he will guide you into all tion has been wrought up into the supertruth.” (John xvi. 12,13.) Some of Christ's structure; so that as a whole they can clearest and fullest disclosures of the way have no claim to belief. Many reports of salvation after his death and resurrec- are partially true and partially false: and tion, when he opened the understandings unless we are competent to separate the of his disciples, are not recorded in the true from the false, our belief is properly gospels at all; or, if mentioned, it is with held in abeyance. the utmost brevity. Have these most One chief reason why Divine revelation important discoveries been lost to the claims our implicit regard and belief is, world? Certainly not: they survive in the ground that we have to conclude that the teaching of the apostles. After the work it is free from falsehood and error. What of redemption was finished, and Christ we understand by inspiration* is, the suhad ascended on high, and received gifts perintendence of God exercised over the for men, and sent forth the plenitude of writers of the Holy Scriptures, to preserve the Holy Spirit, the veil was not merely them from false and erroneous statements. rent from the top to the bottom, but taken If such a superintendence was exercised, away, so that “we all with open face be- then we may without hesitation receive holding as in a glass, the glory of the their writings as embodying pure truth. Lord, are changed into the same image Our argument is with those who admit from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the the Divine authority of Christianity and Lord.” We assume it, therefore, as proved, the Divine authority of all the sayings of that the fullest and clearest disclosures of Christ recorded in the four gospels. grace and salvation were given forth after I. Let it then be remembered, THAT the departure of Chrisťs bodily presence WE HAVE NO SAYINGS OF CHRIST WHICH from the earth.
All the There can be no degrees in real truth, words of the Saviour which have been in so far as truth itself is concerned: that handed down to us were written by his is, one real truth is as true as another real disciples, and the earliest date of any of truth. But if there can be no degrees in the gospels, so far as can be ascertained, truth viewed abstractedly as truth, there is not less than eight years after the asmay be assertions which in one sense are cension of the Saviour; while the last of true, but not in another. There may be the gospels—that of John, is supposed to likewise indefinite degrees in the import- have been written about sixty years after ance of several distinct truths, in their the facts and sayings which it records were bearing on the interests of ourselves or of done and spoken. As we have no proof that others. And all real truths may be ex- the disciples wrote down the sayings of pected to have authority in influencing Christ at the time in which they were utthe understanding, in proportion to their tered, or even took notes of them, we intrinsic importance and the amount of might justly hesitate concerning the corevidence by which they are proved. But rectness of their report after the lapse of the medium or channel by which any truth is conveyed, does not increase or diminish
* This may be deemed too low a view of the importance or value of such truth, pro- present. (Mere "superintendence” is unques
inspiration, but it is sufficient for our purpose at vided its accompanying evidence be con- tionably "too low a view of inspiration.” We clusive, If, for example, information were should never omit from any statement of inspirabrought to me that a wealthy individual tion the important fact of an infallible communihad left me property to the amount of cation; and this on the sufficiently solemn ground £1000 per annum; it could make no real that, when deprived of this dignity, inspiration is difference in regard to the effect of that reduced to the inferior office of simply " superin
tending" something already known. But inspirainformation on my mind, whether a no- tion is confined almost exclusively to the commubleman or a pauper brought me the infor- nication of truth not known before; and this mation, provided the evidence of the fact grave particular should always be remembered were unquestionable, and equal in both when treating upon the subject. With this ex
planation, the able reasoning in the above paper will be better understood.-Ed.]