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as the source of all blessedness; it is a most interesting point to be well known, and well understood, by the Lord's people; that the whole church of Christ is all equally interested, and all equally blessed, in those acts of grace manifested to the people. However different in age, or stature, however distingushed by various gifts, or attainments; the household of faith when brought into a state of regeneration is one and the same; for “ to every one is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” And therefore, as the Holy Ghost by John speaks, whether they are fathers, or young men, or little children, all are equally near and dear to Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons; and they should never lose sight of this, but daily study under divine teaching, to make a right estimate of the Lord's manifestations towards them; not by the largeness of the gift, but by the love of the giver, which is to all the same.
I have found it good sometimes to be straitened in myself; that when I am again enlarged, I may the better discover, that this enlargement is of the Lord, 2 Cor. xiii. 9, 13. And I love to trace all blessings, to their fountain head; namely, the eternal love of God which first gave Christ to the church all alike, and all the things in Christ. Such as are enabled to do so, and to behold the link in the golden chain which connects present blessings with eternal designs, are fathers, John speaks of, which “ have known him that: is from the beginning.” Young men, John so calls, are not accustomed, from not being so long taught, of thus tracing present mercies up to their eternal source; and are therefore by Paul, enjoined " to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” But the little ones, though equally beloved, and who are equally from being regenerated, said to have their sins forgiven for his name's sake; are not supposed by reason of their slender attainments and short acquaintance with divine things, to be equally ready “ to give an
answer to every one who asketh a reason of the hope that is in them.” But they should remember, that it is not their attainments, but the Lord's grace; not what is wrought in them, but what is wrought for them; the Lord's communications to them, not their's to him. A babe in Christ, like the babe in nature, testifieth his delight in his food, not by reasoning, but by appetite; not by what others talk, but by what he enjoys; and having tasted that the Lord is gracious, he desires to be continually coming to the breasts of consolation, that he may grow thereby! 1 Pet. ii. 3-6. Isa. lxvi. 11.
Health to the church of Christ, from the fountain of health, Christ! May the Lord hail his church at the opening of the new year, with acts of personal grace, in sweet communion in his Trinity of Persons, and the eyes of the Lord be upon it as upon Judea of old, " from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year!” And if the Lord be graciously pleased to give the savour of his love to this affectionate address to his church, and an unction from the Lord accompany the reading of it to his church and people, the end will be abundantly answered, for which it is sent to the Lord's people; and to the Lord's name be all the glory
The church will forgive me, if before I conclude, I pause to observe that this unction from the Lord to all the labours and ministry of man, is the first and most principal of all things. And never can a child of God be too earnest to discover in all the several means of grace and ordinances he attends, this, which is the crowning point of all the savour of Jehovah in all. It is among the most melancholy signs of the present awful day, that head knowledge is substituted in the place of heart influence. And amidst the increased, and increasing tide of general profession, the waters of Shiloah run low, Isa. viii. 6. There is a way of preaching Christ, and writing Christ; and in which many of the great truths of God may be delivered; and yet for want of the unction of the Spirit, there is no savour of Christ in them. And the reason is, such knowledge is acquired only in nature's school, and by natural men. And hence however promising they may appear, inward decays manifest the lifelessness of the principles; similar to consumptive persons, who though in dying circumstances, have not unfrequently florid countenances. Let the child of God therefore, never lose sight of this fundamental truth, that spiritual things can only be understood spiritually. Nature, in her highest attainments, is but nature still. And the regenerated child of God, however slender his knowledge of divine things may be, manifests more of the sovereign work of grace upon his soul, by those two simple acts of spiritual life, than all the sermons and writings of unregenerated men; namely, by the incomings of grace being received spiritually, and the outgoings of faith in spiritual enjoyment upon
the Persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit, through Jesus Christ! Health to the church of Christ from the fountain Christ! May the people of God“ be filled with all the fulness of God! Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Amen.
OF ALL BLESSEDNESS TO THE CHURCH, BOTH DURING THE
LORD GOD, 1822. “ For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people ; he will beautify the meek with
salvation.”—Ps. cxlix. 4. It was my mercy at the opening of the past year, 1821, in being permitted to send forth into the church of the Most High God, a small tract, as a token of my affection to the Lord's people; in which, after praying health for the church from the fountain of all health, the Lord Jesus Christ, I endeavoured to shew from the testimony of scripture, that the goings forth of Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons, in acts of personal communion with his church in Christ, is the source of all blessedness to the church, both " in the life that now is, and in that which is to come.”
As a renewed offering to the church, and from the same affection at the opening of the present year, 1822, I would seek the same mercy from the Lord, to follow up that subject with another intimately connected with it, or rather a continuation of the same; and to shew, from the like authority, that as all these acts of grace in Jehovah towards his chosen in Christ are the sole result of his will, so are they no less his pleasure. One scripture very graciously saith, “ for the Lord taketh pleasure in his people ; he will beautify the meek with salvation," Psalm cxlix. 4.- and another scripture, (as if the Lord himself would thereby confirm the former) thus speaks; “ Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good; and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole soul,” Jer. xxxii. 41-see also Zeph. iii. 17. And it was not without an eye to the same precious truth, that we find the Lord the Holy Ghost, by his servant the apostle, when declaring to the church the love of God, in those acts of sovereign grace, in choosing, adopting, and accepting the church in Christ before the foundation of the world, ascribes the whole to the same source; being
according to the good pleasure of his will;" and again repeating the same, being “ according to his good pleasure, which he had purposed in himself,” Eph. i. 3-9.
Let the reader pause one moment, and consider the blessedness of such declarations from Jehovah! Surely
from this statement, and given as it is by the Lord himself, it must and will undeniably follow, that all the gifts and graces bestowed upon the church, are but so many fruits and effects resulting from Jehovah's pleasure ; hence what we receive is not from any thing in us, but from the Lord's pleasure : for what is wrought in us is from the love and pleasure in him; yea, our happiness is not the first and pre-disposing cause, but his pleasure : and the very effects wrought in our hearts by the Lord, arise out of this cause, in coming from the Lord; so that, “ if we love him, it is because he first loved us," 1 John iv. 19.-if we bless him, it is because he hath first blessed us. All begins in his pleasure, and all reverts back again to his pleasure; as the rivers of the earth flow from the ocean, and cease not until they pour themselves into the same bosom. The conclusion therefore is plain; the Lord's pleasure in his people is the sole cause of their happiness in him; and this is the culminating point of all blessedness to the church, both during the time-state of grace here, and the eternal state of glory hereafter.
And if the Lord shall be pleased to give an unction to the word of his grace, (which I most humbly implore) and by the ministry of this little tract, make manifest this divine truth in the heart of any of his regenerated ones, it will open to a subject of the sweetest and most soul-refreshing nature; for by thus learning to trace all our blessings to the fountain-head of blessings, connecting our present mercy, be it what it may, with the source of that and every other mercy in everlasting love, and all blended with Jehovah's pleasure we bring in the divine sovereignty to crown all with his unceasing blessing. And we then discover, that every event, and every minute circumstance connected with that event, in relation to the Lord's people, comes to us from the good will and pleasure of our Lord : so that our being in Christ, and our well-being