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If we were about to have the numbers of the GOSPEL MAGAZINE rebound, we should be much inclined to have them "lettered" on the back "WILDERNESS MERCIES" for 1840, 41-47;" for what do these volumes contain? For the most part, a simple, unpretending record of the merciful dealings of a covenant God with a small portion of his sons and daughters, whilst travelling onward through a land of briars and thorns towards
"Heaven, their dwelling-place."
And should any happen to take up one of these volumes, ignorant of its contents, we give them this hint, in order to apprize them of what they may be led to expect, should curiosity prompt them to a perusal. This world is a wilderness, lying, so to speak, between two eternities-that past and to come; across this wilderness is travelling a race of pilgrims, standing high in birth and relationship to Him who may be emphatically called LORD OF THE COUNTRY. And this mighty HIM, saw He fit so to do, could save one or all of them the toil and the trouble of the journey; but "wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working," it is His Royal pleasure to put them upon pilgrimage, and that for the twofold object of his glory and their good. He glorifies Himself in their sustenance and security in the midst of an enemy's land, and they derive essential profit and advantage as well from Jehovah's method of dealing as from their numerous wilderness privations and inconveniences; these stand in contrast with, and are made instrumental in producing an ardent longing after and looking for, that glorious peace and plenty which await them in the inheritance of which they are heirs, and towards which they journey.
In a primary sense these pilgrims comprise but one family, although they journey in sections or companies; but with these divisions this Magazine professes to have nought to do. Its recognition is the one body, as such. To this one family, it is
our happiness, at the close of another year, to address ourselves.
Dear brethren and sisters in Christ, being twelve months in advance upon our former and usual salutation, we cannot but greet you with warmth and animation of heart upon the goodness, faithfulness, and immutable love of our all-gracious Friend and Benefactor, in that he hath conducted us thus safely onward through and amid the varied dangers and difficulties which necessarily encompass the pilgrim's path. We may well exclaim in the contemplation, "Having obtained help of God, we continue unto this day;" yea, and by the very fact of our "continuance," are furnished with an earnest of our endurance unto the end. "By this I know that thou favourest me,” said the psalmist," because mine enemy doth not triumph over me." Hallelujah!
Beloved, it is not that our eyes are blinded to the circumstances by which we are surrounded, that we thus address you. We feel and that deeply—the Church's present position-the real invisible Church we mean. Her enemies assail her, and that most formidably. We have long intimated our belief that we hasten onward towards a climax of a most momentous kind; but the Church's ground of consolation is this, that, whilst devastation and death shall fall upon her assailants, she shall "stand as a city set upon a hill which cannot be moved,” Jehovah being "a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her."
Beloved, the internal dissension-the family strife-the falling out by the way among the brethren on account of little party and petty feelings, give us more real sorrow than all the outward assaults of the enemy; and, if we mistake not, there is more cause of apprehension on this than upon any other ground. Were the vitality of the union of the brotherhood in Christ realized, assuredly we should be less moved by merely outward threatenings and discomforts. Our common adversary, knowing the truth of the old adage, "Union is strength," has sought to sow the seeds of discord, and thus interrupt the family harmony; having succeeded in this, he now attacks the
citadel from without. But the hotter the enemy's fire-the nearer his approach—the more shall be seen the necessity for a closer approximation on the part of his opponents.
Brethren, the temporary triumph of our anti-Christian foe is most certainly drawing very, very near. Surely the signs of the times betoken this. The kingdom does indeed appear to be given over to the beast! Protestantism seems doomed! Still, as we have long said to you, we hope, as the conductor of this work, to resist to the very last! Contemplating Popery, as we see it every day and every hour of the day in Ireland, we blush-we mourn for-England, bent as she is upon conceding to it at any cost, and even at the sacrifice by every act of her legislature of those dear-bought privileges which called for the martyr's blood! No, brethren, we will not calmly relinquish the contest; after this Magazine has so long and so boldly wielded the sword, God forbid that we should be the first tamely to return it to its scabbard.
God allowing and enabling us so to do, we will, both from the pulpit and the press, withstand the foe! In this respect we trust we can say, we count not our own lives dear We fight not against men as men, but against their vile, soul-destructive principles. Nor can we stand as mute, unmoved spectators, whilst we see thousands upon thousands hurried headlong down the stream of Papal superstition, idolatry, and fraud, and this not into a purgatory merely, but to plunge into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Whilst permitted to address you, you shall continue to hear, through the pages of this Magazine, what Popery is what she is doing and what she will do! For this purpose our PROTESTANT BEACON is set up. May our present friends (with many, many more) continue to rally round our standard; and whilst our little band moves gently on heavenward and homeward, as upon one banner is inscribed in glowing charac"Grace be with them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;" upon a second shall be stamped, “Beware of Rome ;” and upon a third, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be
not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," for "Her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
Readers, these are our sentiments-these our feelings! Our position during the past year has changed, but our principles remain the same! Some were apprehensive that our entrance into the Church of England would chill the heart, and cause us to feel less interest in the Household of Faith.
We will not
here stop to ask why, or to discuss the question, Hath not the Church of England, both in its ministers and lay-members, proved itself as capable of enjoying light, and love, and liberty, as any other body? but we come at once to the avowal, that no such chill as that apprehended has overtaken us. The heart is still warm-the hand of fellowship still outstretchedand the arms of love and affection still extended-towards the Lord's family! Are we not one among them? Is not Jesus our elder Brother? Are we not all brethren and sisters in Him, and not in mere form, opinion, or outward mode of worship? Are we not really and truly united in bonds that neither men nor devils can burst ?-in a love that causes us to sympathise with each other's sorrows, and share each other's joys? Verily, dear brethren, it is so! God is our witness! Union with the Head Christ, and communion with the members of his mystical body, is realized, be those members who they may, or however or wherever situated. And once more we declare to all such, that, whether you are within the pale of the Establishment or not, whilst Jesus and his love and grace are the burden of your communications, you are (and God being our helper, shall continue to be) as heartily welcome to these pages as the contributors to a GOSPEL MAGAZINE ought to be! Praying that He who hath blessed may still vouchsafe unto us, unitedly and individually, His own special favour,
We are, Dear Brethren and Sisters,
Yours, as ever, to serve in the Gospel of Christ,
Ireland, Dec., 1847.