June 27: We His Accepted People

“For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Heb. 11:5

BEHOLD the character of those with whom God is pleased. They are a spiritual people, and God, who is a Spirit, must love and delight in that which harmonizes with His own nature. Faith may be feeble, grace may be limited, and knowledge may be defective; yet, if there be just that strength of faith that travels to, and leans upon, the sacrifice of Jesus, and just that measure of love that constrains to a sincere, though imperfect, obedience, with just that extent of knowledge that discerns Christ to be the Savior of a poor lost sinner, then, there is one who is pleasing to God.

They are also an accepted people, and therefore their people are pleasing to Him. The delight of the Father in the person of His Son reveals to us the great secret of His marvelous delight in us. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Blessed truth to those who see enough defilement and imperfection in their best doings, to cover them with eternal confusion and shame!—who, after the most spiritual performances, are constrained to repair in penitence and confession to Him, who bears the iniquity of His people’s holy things. Sweet truth to fall back upon in all the failures and flaws we are perpetually discerning in our works, in our motives, and our ends—blots not appearing upon the surface, but visible to the microscopic eye of faith, which sees material for self-condemnation, where others, in their fond and blind affection, approve and applaud. If God, my Father, is well pleased in His Son, then is it a truth, strictly inferential, that He is well pleased in me whom He beholds in His Son. But not their people only, their offerings also are equally pleasing to God. “I will accept you” (the person first), “with your sweet savor” (the offering next). Their preceptive walk likewise pleases Him. Is the obedience of the child, springing from love, a pleasing and acceptable offering to a parent’s heart? Ah! how imperfectly are we aware of the beauty and fragrance there are to God in a single act of filial, holy obedience, the fruit and offering of a divine and deathless affection!

How great and exalted the heavenly calling of the Christian! Aim to walk worthy of it. Debase it not by allying it with a carnal mind. Impair not your spiritual life by enchaining it to spiritual death. Let the friendships which you cultivate, and the relationships of life which you form, be heavenly in their nature, and eternal in their duration. Seek to please God in all things. Rest not where you are, even though you may have attained beyond your fellows. Let your standard of heavenly-mindedness do not be that of the saints, but of Christ. Study not a copy, but the original. High aims will secure high attainments. He is the most heavenly, and the happiest, who the most closely resembles his Divine Master.

Be much in your closet. There is no progress in spiritual-mindedness apart from much prayer: prayer is its aliment, and its element. But leave not your religion there; let it accompany you into the world. While careful not to carry your business into your religion—thus secularizing and degrading it—be careful to carry your religion into your business—high integrity, holy principle, godly fear—thus imparting an elevation and its concerns. Be the man of God wherever you are. Let these solemn words be held in vivid remembrance—”I have created you for my glory. I have formed you for my praise. You are my witnesses, says the Lord.”

June 22: Love To The Saints

“Every one that loves him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him.” 1 John 5:1

THE feeling here referred to is a love to the saints, as saints. Whatever natural infirmities we may discover in them, whatever different shades of opinion they may hold to us, and to whatever branch of the Christian Church they may belong, yet the feeling which is to establish our own divine relationship is a love to them as brethren. Irrespective of all dissonance of creed, of denomination, of gifts, of attainment, of rank, of wealth, of nation—when we meet in a Christian professor the image of Christ, the family-likeness, our love will prompt us immediately to recognize that individual as a believer in Jesus, and to acknowledge him as a brother in the Lord.

And what are the grounds of my affection? I may esteem his character, and prize his gifts—may admire his talents, and feel there is an assimilation of disposition, of taste, and of judgment—but my Christian love springs from an infinitely higher and holier source. I love him because the Father is in him, because the Son is in him, because the Holy Spirit is in him. I love him because he is an adopted child of the same family; a member of Christ, and of the same body; and a temple of the same Holy Spirit. I love him that is begotten, because I love Him that begat. It is Christ in one believer, going out after Himself in another believer. It is the Holy Spirit in one temple, holding fellowship with Himself in another temple. And from hence it is that we gather the evidence of our having “passed from death unto life.” Loving the Divine Original, we love the human copy, however imperfect the resemblance. The Spirit of God dwelling in the regenerate soul yearns after the image of Jesus, wherever it is found. It pauses not to inquire to what branch of the Christian Church the individual resembling Him belongs; that with which it has to do is the resemblance itself.

Now, if we discover this going out of the heart in sweet, holy, and prayerful affection, towards every believer in Christ—be his denominational name what it may—the most to those who most bear the Savior’s image—then have we the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. A surer evidence we cannot have. There is the affection which surmounts all the separating walls of partition in the Church, and in spite of sects, and parties, and creeds, demonstrates its own divine nature and heavenly birth, by its blending with the same affection glowing in the bosom of another. And where this love to the brethren exists not at all in any Christian professor, we ask that individual, with all the tenderness of affection consistent with true faithfulness, where is the evidence of your union with the body of Christ? You have turned away with contractedness of heart, and with frigidity of manner, if not with secret disdain, from one whom God loves, whom Christ has redeemed, and in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, because he belonged not to your sect.

Yes, you have turned away with coldness and suspicion from Christ Himself! How can you love the Father, and hate the child? What affection have you for the Elder Brother, while you despise the younger? If you are a living branch of the same vine, can you, while cherishing those feelings which exclude from your affection, from your sympathies, and from your fellowship, other Christians, more deeply wound Jesus, or more effectually grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom they are “sealed unto the day of redemption”? Perhaps you have long walked in darkness and uncertainty, as to the fact of your own personal adoption into the family of God.

Anxious fear and distressing doubt have taken the place of a holy assurance, and a peaceful persuasion that you were one of the Lord’s people. In endeavoring to trace this painful state of mind to its cause, did it never occur to you, that your lack of enlargement of heart towards all saints, especially towards those of other branches of the same family, has, in all probability, so grieved the Spirit of adoption, that he has withheld from your own soul that clear testimony, that direct witness, by which your interest in the covenant love of God, and your union with Christ, would have been clearly made known to you? You have grieved that same Spirit in your brother, who dwells in you, and upon whom you are so dependent for all your sweet consolation and holy desires; and He has suspended the light, and peace, and joy of your own soul.

March 12: The Exercise Of Christian Love

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. 2 Timothy 2:24

ONE exercise of Christian love will be its endeavor to avoid all occasions of offence. These, through the many and fast-clinging infirmities of the saints of God, will often occur. But they are to be avoided, and, in the exercise of that love which proves our Christian character, they will be avoided. The child of God will desire to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Whatever tends to weaken that bond he will endeavor to lay aside. Whatever He may discover in his communion with the saints calculated to wound, to distress, to alienate, to offend, either in his manner or in his spirit, the healthy exercise of holy love will constrain him to overcome. He will avoid “giving offence.” He will be modest in the expression of his own opinion, respectful and deferential towards the opinion of others. He will avoid that recklessness of spirit which, under the cover of faithfulness, cares not to estimate consequences; but which, pursuing its heedless way, often crushes beneath its rough-shod heel the finest feelings of the human heart; saying and doing what it pleases, regardless of the wounds which, all the while, it is deeply and, irreparably inflicting.

How sedulous, too, will he be to avoid anything like a dictatorial manner in enunciating his judgment, and all hard words and strong expressions in differing from authorities of equal, perhaps of greater, weight than his own. Oh! were this divine affection but more deeply lodged in the hearts of all those who “profess and call themselves Christians,” what courtesy of manner—what grace of deportment—what tender regard of each other’s feelings—what kindness in word and in action—what carefulness to avoid inflicting even a momentary pain—what putting away, as becomes saints, all wrath, anger, evil speaking, and malice—and what constant remembrance of His solemn words who said, “Whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea,” would each believer exhibit! Lord, fill our souls more and more with this lovely grace of love!

Especially in Church communion will the grace of forbearance be called in requisition. When the providence of God has thrown together a community of individuals, composed of a great variety of character, of mind, and of constitutional temperament, although each grade may be more or less modified by the renewing of the Spirit, there will still be a broad field for the passive exercise of love. In a Church, necessarily imperfect, there may exist many things, in which taste as well as judgment will be found at fault, calculated to engender a feeling of dislike, and even of disgust, in a mind refined and delicate. But here Christian forbearance must be exercised. They are the infirmities of the weak of Christ’s flock, and they who are stronger in grace should kindly and patiently bear them. In pursuing a different course, we may wound some of the most gracious, humble, and prayerful saints of God.

We may be but little aware with what frequent and deep humiliation in secret their conscious failings may overwhelm them. And we ought to bear in mind, that if we sometimes might wish to see in
them less that was rough in speech, abrupt and forward in manner, and fault-finding in disposition, they may detect in us a loftiness of spirit, a coldness of demeanor, and an apparent haughtiness of carriage, which may be an equal trial to them, demanding the exercise on their part of the same grace of forbearance towards us. How watchful, how tender, how kind, then, should we be, ever standing with the broad mantle of charity in our hands, prepared to cast it over the failings of a Christian brother, the moment it meets the eye!

Dedication Service Of Emmanuel Church

Below is a newspaper clipping from the Brighton Gazette advertising the opening of Winslow’s last church he held a pastorate at in Brighton, UK.

Coincidentally, it was on August 20… my birthday.

Winslow kicked up quite a bit of dust during this occasion due to the fact that he invited the Rev. John Knapp, an Anglican, to preach during the dedication service. In those days, any ministers of the Church of England were absolutely forbidden to preach in dissenting (churches not of the Church of England) churches.

I will post more on this controversy later.

October 9: The Pillar And Ground Of Truth

“That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

God has been graciously pleased to appoint His church the great conservator of His truth, and His truth the especial medium of sanctification to His church; there is a close and beautiful relation between the two.

The church may be compared to the golden lamp which contains the sacred oil, which, in its turn, feeds the flame of its light and holiness. The church is to guard with a jealous and vigilant eye the purity of the truth, while the truth is to beautify and sanctify the ark which preserves it. Thus there is a close relation, and a reciprocal influence, between the church of Christ and the truth of God.

Every individual believer in Jesus is himself a subject, and therefore a witness, of the truth; he has been quickened, called, renewed, and partially sanctified through the instrumentality of God’s revealed truth: “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth.” “For the truth’s sake which dwells in us.” “You are my witnesses, says the Lord.”

Here is unfolded one of the most solemn and affecting truths touching the character and individual responsibility of a child of God. He is a subject of truth, he is a repository of the truth, and he is a witness for the truth; yes, he is the only living witness to the truth which God has on earth. The world he lives in is a dark, polluted, God-blaspheming, Christ-denying, truth-despising world. The saints who have been called out of it according to His eternal purpose and love, and by His sovereign, distinguishing, and free grace, are the only lights and the only salt in the midst of this moral darkness and corruption.

Here and there a light glimmers, irradiating the gloomy sphere in which it moves; here and there a spot of verdure appears, relieving the arid and barren desolation by which it is surrounded. These are the saints of the Most High, the witnesses of the Divine character, the omnipotent power, and the holy tendency, of God’s blessed truth.

Let the saints of God, then, solemnly weigh this affecting fact, that though the written word and the accompanying Spirit are God’s witnesses in the world, yet they are the only living exemplification of the power of the truth, and, as such, are earnestly exhorted to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Let them be careful to maintain good works, and so walk in all the holiness of the truth they profess; let them see that by no carelessness of deportment, by no want of integrity, by no worldly conformity, yes, by no inconsistency whatever, they bring a slur upon the holy doctrines they avowedly maintain and love; but let them show that, with the truth in their judgments, they possess grace in the heart, and unspotted holiness in the life.

September 7: A Deeper Filling

“Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”

What the Church of God needs as a Church we equally need as individual Christians—the deeper baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Reader, why is it that you are not more settled in the truth—your feet more firm upon the Rock? Why are you not more rejoicing in Christ Jesus, the pardoning blood more sensibly applied to the conscience, the seal of adoption more deeply impressed upon your heart, “Abba, Father” more frequently, and with stronger, sweeter accent, on your lips? Why are you, perhaps, so yielding in temptation, so irresolute in purpose, so feeble in action, so vacillating in pursuit, so faint in the day of adversity? Why is the glory of Jesus so dimly seen, His preciousness so little felt, His love so imperfectly experienced? Why is there so little close, secret transaction between God and your soul?—so little searching of heart, confession of sin, dealing with the atoning blood? Why does the conscience so much lack tenderness, and the heart brokenness, and the spirit contrition? And why is the throne of grace so seldom resorted to, and prayer itself felt to be so much a duty, and so little a privilege, and, when engaged in, so faintly characterized with the humble brokenness of a penitent sinner, the filial boldness of an adopted child, the rich anointing of a royal priest?

Ah! let the small measure in which you have received the Holy Spirit’s influence supply the answer. “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?”—have you received Him as a Witness, as a Sealer, as a Teacher, as an Indweller, as a Comforter, as the Spirit of adoption? But, rather, have you not forgotten that your Lord was alive, and upon the throne exalted, to give you the Holy Spirit, and that more readily than a father is to give good gifts to his child? That He is prepared now to throw back the windows of heaven, and pour down upon you such a blessing as shall confirm your faith, resolve your doubts, annihilate your fears, arm you for the fight, strengthen you for the trial, give you an unclouded view of your acceptance in the Beloved, and assure you that your “name is written among the living in Jerusalem”?

Then, as you value the light of God’s countenance, as you desire to grow in a knowledge of Christ, as you long to be more “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” oh, seek to enjoy, in a larger degree, the presence, the love, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Christ has gone up on high to give to you this invaluable blessing, and says for your encouragement, “Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

July 27: The Hereafter

“Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do you know not now, but you shall know hereafter.” John 8:7

Oh that “hereafter,” what a solemn word to the ungodly! Is there, then, a hereafter? Jesus says there is; and I believe it, because He says it. That hereafter will be terrible to the man that dies in his sins. It will be a hereafter whose history will be “written in mourning, lamentation, and woe.” It had been better for you, reader, living and dying impenitent and unbelieving, had you never been born, or had there been no hereafter. But there is a hereafter of woe to the sinner, as of bliss to the saint. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.”

The position which the Christian shall occupy hereafter will be most favorable to a full and clear comprehension of all the mysteries of the earthly journey. The “clouds and darkness”–emblems in our history of obscurity and distress–which now envelope God’s throne, and enshroud His government of the saints, will have passed away; the mist and fog will have vanished, and, breathing a purer atmosphere, and canopied by a brighter sky, the glorified saint will then see every object, circumstance, incident, and step, with an eye unobscured by a vapor, and unmoistened by a tear. “Now we know in part; then shall we know even as we are known.” And what shall we know? All the mysteries of providence. Things which had made us greatly grieve, will then be seen to have been causes of the greatest joy. Clouds of threatening, which appeared to us charged with the agent of destruction, will then unveil, and reveal the love which they embosomed and concealed.

All the mysteries of faith, too, will be known. “Now we see through a glass darkly (in a riddle), but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The great “mystery of godliness” will develop and unfold its wonders. His everlasting love to His Church–His choice of a people for Himself–His sovereign grace in calling them–all, all, will shine forth with unclouded luster to the eternal praise of His great and holy name. Oh, what a perfect, harmonious, and glorious whole will all His doings in providence and grace appear, from first to last, to the undimmed eye, the ravished gaze of His white-robed, palm-bearing Church.

Many and holy are the lessons we may gather from this subject. The first is the lesson of deep humility. There are three steps in the Christian’s life. The first is–humility; the second is–humility; the third is–humility. In veiling His dealings, Jesus would “hide pride” from us. In “leading the blind by a way that they know not,” He teaches them to confide in the knowledge, truth, and goodness of their Divine escort–and that confidence is the calm unquestioning repose of faith.

July 4: Our Corner Stone

“A precious corner stone.” Isaiah 28:16

Of whom does the prophet speak this but of Jesus, compared with whom nothing is precious? He alone is worthy of the term, who alone can smooth life’s rugged path, sweeten life’s bitter trials, lighten life’s heavy burdens, and this by daily and hourly emanations of His own life, grace, and preciousness. Oh, how precious–what language can express?–is this precious stone to him who, conscious of his vileness, poverty, and nothingness, or with a spirit oppressed with deep trial, or bleeding from painful bereavement, wades to it through the billows, exclaiming, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” Precious in His all-atoning blood–precious in His all-justifying righteousness–precious in His infinite fullness–precious in every office that He fills, in every work that He performs, in every promise that He makes, is Christ to him who, finding all other foundations but as sliding sand, builds his hope of glory upon the incarnate God. “To you, therefore, who believe, He is precious.”

A “corner stone,” too, is our glorious Redeemer. The important position which this occupies in the spiritual building–its essential relation to the compactness, strength, and durability of the whole fabric–we fear, is not duly considered by many who are professedly “lively stones” in the “spiritual house.” And yet how momentous and how holy is the instruction it conveys! The corner stone is that which unites the parts of the edifice; it is to the building what the key-stone is to the arch; it imparts unity, symmetry, and strength.

The Lord Jesus has been the uniting stone of the Church in all ages. The saints of the Patriarchal, Levitical, and Christian Churches all meet and form, in Him, one glorious temple of the living God. “No more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God:” they are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, grows unto an holy temple in the Lord,” and thus becomes “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” That there are divisions in the Church of God, visible and painful–that the one body is sadly dismembered, the seamless robe rudely torn and disfigured, is a truth too glaring to conceal, and almost too painful and humiliating to acknowledge. Alas, that it should be!

Oh, how much is the unity of the Church lost sight of in the din of religious controversy and in the heat of party zeal! How does brother look coldly upon brother, and minister glance suspiciously at minister, and church stand aloof from church! Ought this so to be? And to what may it in a great degree be traced? We believe to a forgetfulness of the truth that all true believers are “one in Christ Jesus;” that the blood of the Lamb is the bond of union of the saints; that He is the “corner stone,” uniting all the parts of the one edifice; and that, if built upon Him, we are one with that Church, and that Church is one with Christ.

March 24: One Spirit

“By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Cor. 12:13.

The Church of God is equally one in the Holy Spirit. One Spirit regenerating all, fashioning all, teaching all, sealing all, comforting all, and dwelling in all. Degrees of grace and “diversities of gifts” there are, “but the same Spirit.” That same Spirit making all believers partakers of the same divine nature, and then taking up his abode in each, must necessarily assimilate them in every essential quality, and feature, and attribute of the Christian character.

Thus, the unity of the Church is an essential and a hidden unity. With all the differences of opinion, and the varieties of ceremonial, and the multiplicity of sects into which she is broken and divided, and which tend greatly to impair her strength, and shade her beauty, she is yet essentially and indivisibly one- her unity consisting, not in a uniformity of judgment, but better far than this, in the “unity of the Spirit.”

Thus, no individual believer can with truth say that he possesses the Spirit exclusively, boasting himself of what other saints have not; nor can any one section of the Christian Church lay claim to its being the only true Church, and that salvation is found only within its pale. These lofty pretensions, these exclusive claims, this vain-glory and uncharitableness, are all demolished by one lightning touch of truth, even by that blessed declaration, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.”

March 23: One In Christ

“One Lord.” Ephesians 4:5.

The Church is also one in the Son- “There is one Lord.” The Lord Jesus is the one Head, as He is the one Foundation, of the Church. All believers are chosen in Christ, blessed in Christ, saved in Christ, preserved in Christ, and in Christ will be glorified. The work of Christ is the one resting-place of their souls. They rely for pardon upon the same blood, for acceptance upon the same righteousness, and for sanctification upon the same grace.

One in Christ, all other differences and distinctions are merged and forgotten: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Blessed truth! the “righteousness of God, which is unto all and upon all those who believe,” imparts the same completeness to all believers in Christ. Upon the breastplate of the great High Priest, now within the veil, every, name is alike written- not a sectarian appellation dims the luster of the “Urim and the Thummin,” in whose glowing light the names of all the saints are alike enshrined. What a uniting truth is this!

Jesus is the one Head of life, light, and love, to all His saints. He carried the transgression of all- He bore the curse of all- He endured the hell of all- He pardons the sin of all- He supplies the need of all- He soothes the sorrows of all, and He lives and intercedes for all. To Him all alike repair, it is true, with different degrees of knowledge and of faith, and from different points; yet, to Jesus, as to one Savior, one Brother, one Lord, they all alike come. Oh! what a cementing principle is this! The body of Christ- the purchase of the same blood, loved with the same affection, and in heaven represented by the same Advocate, and soon, oh, how soon, to be “gloried together” with Him.

What love, then, ought I to bear towards Him whom Jesus has so loved! How can I feel coldly, to, or look unkindly at, or speak uncharitably of, one whom Jesus has redeemed with the same precious blood, and whom He carries each moment in the same loving heart?