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A FAREWELL EPISTLE TO THE SPIRITUAL CHURCH OF OUR MOST
GLORIOUS CHRIST, FROM ROBERT HAWKER, D. D. ON CLO-
Brethren, beloved in the Lord!
It hath been long in my intention of addressing you in a letter of love, as a small token of my affection before “ I go hence, and be no more seen!” And being arrived at an age, in which, according to the nature of things, the time of my departure cannot be very far remote, and may be near indeed, I avail myself of the present moment, that I may have finished my letter before that I have finished life, and that wellknown voice, (though never so heard before) shall graciously sound through all the chambers of my heart, “ the master is come, and calleth for thee!"
I had written thus far, when an event took place which seemed to forebode, not only that my intended letter to the church was over, but with it all human correspondence for ever. The year had opened most gracious and lovely with the Lord's day, and I was enabled to be found at my post as usual, It hath been my custom for many a new year in succession, to make proclamation to the church on that text of scripture, Deut. vii. 9. " The faithful God.” But whether on this occasion from a debility of which I myself was then unconscious, or whether from a more than ordinary exertion—when the public service of the holy day was over, I found myself in a state of undescribable weakness : since which I have been the Lord's prisoner at home, without once being able to go up to the house of the Lord.
This will explain to the church the cause of my omission; the very account of which I had not strength to have communicated, but by an amanuensis. There is
a beautiful passage in the book of Job, which gives a comprehensive statement, how “the purposes of men are broken off by death!” Job xvii. 11.
The letter I had intended for the church would have savoured I hope of divine things, suited for one to have sent to the church who is himself on the eve of departure from things temporal to enter on those which are eternal: but, perhaps, there would have mingled with it much of egotism, such as belongs to the talk of old men. Be this as it may, the intention is superseded, and most probably will never be revived. But is it not likely, that the hand of the Lord is in this appointment? And while my intention was to have said somewhat to the church of my affliction, and the regard I have for their love, the Lord hath called off my attention from so unimportant a matter as hath any reference to myself, to look at higher subjects connected with the manifestation of his glory.
I apprehend the spiritual church of our most glorious Christ to be at present much agitated, with the appearance of a recent publication, entitled, “ Zion's Banners:' and indeed, the novelty of the work carries with it much plausibility to attract attention. The singularity of the dedication with which it opens first arrested my notice, for it is such as I had never seen before. The words are in an address to God, Most beloved and adored Sovereign and Sire.' I have heard that in the pageantry of earthly courts, sometimes in a way of greater adulation the word Sire is substituted for Sir; but these things lose all meaning, when considered in relation to Jehovah : the word of God furnisheth not a single instance to countenance the appellation. And what should we have thought, if among the patriarchs, prophets, or apostles we had found them using such words when laying low in the dust before God, they had so prefaced their supplications, in addressing “the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy !"
But if the mode of dedication appear so singular, how much more did the motive call forth my astonishment, which the author assigns in the body of the work that he had in view on writing the pamphlet. The one direct object he fearlessly declares to be in his design, is to shew,' that the glorious name of Immanuel is essentially written upon the whole spiritually baptised body, in conjunction with its glorious head, (this he saith. page 7): and in the following page (8), he adds,What I intend chiefly to investigate, and I hope scriptually to establish, is, that the regenerate church in conjunction with her glorious head, is really and essentially Immanuel.' And ma
And marvellous to read, in a subsequent part (page 30), he observes, that'God, with the individual humanity of his Son, could not possibly save and glorify us, if it did not result in God with our individual humanity:' and he adds, the blessed name, Immanuel, however, does in itself correspond with all the other scripture testimony, as to the church being destined to the same vital union with Godhead as himself; for as before observed, it does not signify God with him, as though this great glory were intended to be confined to the head of the church, but it is, God with us. I pause,
and while I pause I tremble, in the contemplation of what is here advanced! When the author saith, “it is not God with him, but God with us,' I ask, what God doth he mean? He will hardly venture to say, the person of God the Father only; for what is then become of the other persons in the Godhead? And if he saith, he means Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then will it follow that he cannot but mean also, that all the Persons of the Godhead were and are in Christ, “ for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!" Col. ii. 9. Had our author for a moment lost sight of that fundamental truth, that Christ himself is God,
and eternal life? 1 John v. 20. How then, and in what sense can it be said, not God with him, but with us? Is He, who is alone,” the way, the truth, and the life-and none cometh to the Father but by Him”-is he passed by in this view of our union with God?
Our author hath brought forward a great number of very beautiful portions of the word of God, in proof of God dwelling in his people, and they in God; and he might have brought forth as many more, for they are among the plainest truths of the gospel: but unhappily, he keeps in the back ground, the whole and sole cause wherefore these scriptures are in the interest of the church, namely, because the church is in Christ. There is not one of them belongs to the church, but as the church is in Christ. The charter of grace runs in these words; “ men shall be blessed in Him." There is not a blessing out of Christ, for one of the fallen race of Adam: hence, “ all the promises of God are said to be in Christ Jesus, yea and amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Cor. i. 20. And hence, when Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons blesseth the church, they are said to be “ blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” Eph. i. 3.
The author of this novel system appears to be very fond of argument and reasoning, and makes an appeal to certain portions of scripture, which in his apprehension, are unanswerable in support of his hypothesis. But argument and reasoning are not divine teaching. Isa. liv. 13. One line as of old, when Jehovah taught his people to avoid error, throws to the ground all the wisdom of men, “ thus saith the Lord !”
It is very highly observable, what attention God the Holy Ghost hath shewn towards the church, in giving his redeemed and regenerate family, clear, scriptural, and spiritual apprehensions of the glorious Person of her Lord, under this name and character of Immanuel. He marks it down, in terms not to be mistaken, when saying by Paul, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh," Tim. iii. 16. And the divine statement he himself hath given of this mysterious event is such, as is impossible to be mistaken, by the truly regenerated spiritual church of Christ, when they receive the glorious truth; “ Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” 1 Cor. ii. 13.
Brethren, attend I beseech you to this statement of God the Holy Ghost; and observe the infinite grace and condescension in the Almighty Teacher. When the time came for revealing to the church the marvellous doctrine of God incarnate, we read that the intimation was made by the ministry of an angel. The almighty agency of God the Holy Ghost, was the first in the account given of this divine ministry. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God,” Luke i. 35. Observe what is said, " that holy thing," not that holy person, for it never had been a person; it never was intended for a person; for it had no subsistence of itself to be a person; but in the moment it was brought forth, the same moment God the Son assumed it into union with himself, and that holy portion of our nature called in this scripture, (to gegnomenon agion, the nearest translation of which is, that holy begotten) being now united to the divine in the Godhead of Christ, became one glorious person, Emanuel, God with us !"'
Brethren, remember that this is not my statement, but the divine statement of God the Holy Ghost. And now attend to another of a similar kind : a thousand years before the incarnation, we read in scripture, God the Son speaking to God the Father in these words, (compare Ps. xl. 6. with Heb. x. 5.) “Sacrifice and