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POETRY. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” 'John viii. 36
If the Son has made me free,
[The following is a correct copy of the lines written by Mr. Hone, on a blank leaf in his
LINES Written before Breakfast, 3rd June, 1834, the Anniversary of my Birth-day in 1780.
The proudest heart that ever beat
Hath been subdued, in me;
Is quell’d, my God, by Thee.
My heart be ever thine ;
What saith the Scripture ?-Rom. iv. 3.
REMARKS ON CHURCH CONSTITUTION. In the third chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, we find the revelation which God made to the Jews, through Moses, called “the ministration of CONDEMNATION;" also, in the same chapter, the revelation made to us, through Jesus, is called “the ministration of RIGHTEOUSNESS." From this, as well as from other portions of Scripture, it is evident that these two ministrations were in some things contrasted, the one with the other. This, indeed, the very names here given to them show; for condemnation and righteousness are entirely opposite, the one to the other. It is not our intention at present to trace out all the particulars in which they were contrasted. We shall notice only one; and that one which has been too much forgotten, It is, however, one which is very plain, and of peculiar importance, if we would rightly understand the doctrine of Scripture concerning “church constitution.” We refer to the manner in which God was pleased to unfold his mind to the respective parties, “ Israel,” and “the Church.”
In order to prevent misunderstanding, we would here observe, that we are not about to refer to the difference in the nature of the blessings given, &c., as referred to in the close of the 12th chapter of Hebrews. It is quite another thing which is before us: it is God's manner of bringing out the truths and blessings which he was pleased to communicate to these two parties. His manner in the one case was directly opposed to his manner in the other. In constituting the ministration of condemnation, He wrought from the outside to the inside: in constituting the ministration of righteousness, he wrought from the inside to the outside. The potter, with his fine clay, and his wheel, and his delicate touch, may, in our sight, seem to ponder for a moment which of the many stores of nature he shall imitate, and then present us with the most perfect copy of either flower or fruit which art can afford. He may bake it and colour it, and hide within it the essential perfume of the object imitated. We admire the skill of the artist, but feel that the
process is a very different one from that by which the real flower or fruit, which he has so aptly copied, is produced. In shape, in colour, in scent, it may be a perfect imitation of the peach; but still it is not a peach ; and the process by which it was formed is very different from that by which a real peach is produced. God’s manner of acting in constituting the ministration of condemnation was that of the potter. His manner of acting in constituting the ministration of righteousness was that of nature in the fruit. Another figure occurs to us, which may to some minds seem more happy than the foregoing :-It is found in the different modes in which God effected deliverance for two different parties who were dear to him,-Noah from the antediluvian world, and Israel from out of Egypt. In the former case, we find that God gave to Noah full and complete particulars as to the building of the ark : its length, its height, its breadth, its internal arrangements, &c., in full detail were declared. And then we behold, as it were, Noah surrounded by all the felled giants of the forest, and the mighty mass of materials required for his structure: gradually the work advances; by slow degrees it rises : piece is added to piece, as each part is formed, and then adjusted in its place, till the whole form is completed, the whole order accomplished, the whole plan executed. It is finished, he enters, and God shuts him in. Behold the mighty structure ! Its whole value consists in that which it now contains. It is excellent and admirable neither for its size nor form, but for the purpose for which it is now employed. It is God's refuge for his elect, and bears them triumphantly through the waters. Contrasted in manner with this deliverance, was God's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. In this case, Himself is with them, manifestly present. The word is spoken, and the waves stand on heap: he leadeth them through the depths of the great deep; and Israel--fearful, timid, faint-hearted Israel-is led forth out of Egypt with a high hand into the wilderness. Surely to faith each manner is, at its own time, the right one; but how different the modes of these two salvations, the one from the other.
We would now briefly run through the history of the formations of the two ministrations referred to, in order to show that we have assumed nothing in making these comparisons.
In the history of the formation of the ministration of condemnation, we find all the materials which were to be used, or to have part in forming the witness for God, first produced; each part perfect in itself, yet without any inherent or necessary connexion one with another; and each part of the whole mass also presented in separate perfection to the eye: and then, when all were arranged according to the pattern shown in the mount, yet all without value until recognised and occupied by Him who had to come down out of the place proper to his glory, into the sanctuary thus formed. (See Exodus.) The mediator was found in Midian; and as he journeyed to find the nation in Egypt, the priest met him in the wilderness. And afterward, when brought forth out of the house of bondage, we find at the foot of Mount Sinai, as it were, the whole frame-work of the witness, yet without any manifested connexion between its parts. The person of the Mediator manifested; but, in the transgression of the people, none to mediate to,—so he brake the tables of the covenant: Aaron chosen as the priest, but he the leader in rebellion; and though chosen as priest, without a dress, or sanctuary, or sacrifices : his sons appointed as his partners in service, yet still as the rest of the people; and the Levites, his servants, not yet separated : the sanctuary all made known in pattern,—to be built out of the materials which the people, now in rebellion, should afterwards lay down around Moses. And when the free-will offerings of the people were put piece to piece, and the whole was fashioned and finished, and the tabernacle pitched ; yet was it not of the slightest value until occupied by God. What grace, to dwell at all with man! But how great the grace to let man build him, of such beggarly elements, an habitation! The tabernacle was pitched, and God came into it. We shall not go further into details here, persuaded that it is impossible for any one to read the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, without seeing, as to the sanctuary, the priesthood, the camp, and the land (in short, as to the whole of that which was to constitute the witness), that every thing was formed from the outside. The materials were brought and laid around, and seen by all first; the plan of arrangement made known next, and then the various parts adjusted : and, when the whole was formed, presenting a shell without life or value in it, but which became of value when the presence of the Lord was poured into it; the which glory was both different in nature, and altogether separate from the shell. Thus we have the tabernacle pitched first, and then the glory given. And we would notice, that the fact of the sanctuary being separable into so many parts, stamps home upon our minds the assured feeling that it was built from the outside, having no unity of life in it.
The very opposite of all this we find to have been the case in the history of the formation of the present witness in “ the ministration of righteousness.” Jesus lived, and Jesus died, and Jesus rose, and Jesus ascended, and the whole work in principle was finished; yet none knew it, but sorrow and astonishment filled the souls of his followers; “ We
trusted it had been He which should have redeemed Israel : yea, and certain made us astonished, saying, they had seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.” That it might not abide alone, the corn of wheat (God's corn) falls into the ground and dies; and then it bringeth forth much fruit. In Him as the corn of wheat germinating in resurrection-life (as we see in Ephesians, chaps. i. and ii.), we find the whole glory of the dispensation unfolded; but mark the manner ;—“ built up from the inside :"—the grain of wheat unfolding from within itself its own glorious contents..
I pray, said Paul, writing to the Ephesian converts, that ye may know “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. i. 19—23.) Yet who knew this-did the disciples when (Acts i. 6) they asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Did Peter, when he said (chap. x. 14), “ Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common and unclean ?” Surely none knew how rich a germ of life and glory was in this corn of wheat, or how by the spontaneous power of the life inherent in it, it would unfold from within itself the rich, the wondrous dispensation of grace under which we live, “ the much fruit.” It was all perfected in him, in the hour of his appearing in resurrection-life before the Father; but yet none knew the mind of the Lord, none was his counsellor. Jesus had lived the righteous one, and Jesus had died the victim, and Jesus had arisen the priest, and Jesus had ascended the Mediator of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man. But while all the stems, and all the ears of wheat were to the eye of God folded up in Him, and about to be put forth by Him; we have in Jerusalem upon earth the hundred and twenty waiting in prayerful ignorance of what shall be. On earth nothing was known as to what should come; to God every thing was seen in Jesus. He was himself the obedient one-the sacrifice—the sweet savour— the high priest--the Mediator - the fountain and channel of the Spirit to the church — the author and finisher of faith— the Shepherd and Bishop of souls: but the church was not; and how was the new witness to be constituted ? Would he reveal his plan first ? Should men be nominated as pastors and deacons, &c. &c, and be thus