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“ Christ is all and in all."
An Exhortation to Steadfastness in the Baith.
BY THE LATE JOSEPH SWAIN.
round. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith.”—1 Cor. xvi. 13. BRET AREN, let us aim at harmony and consistency in doctrine, experience, and practice, as the best and only way of standing fast in the faith, and maintaining a sense of divine approbation, the testimony of our own conscience, and a witness in the consciences of others, to the sincerity of our profession.
In order to our standing fast in the doctrines of the Gospel three things are constantly needful. That we keep close to the Scriptures (which are
( our only complete rule of faith, experience, and practice) by frequent reading and meditation. That we keep close to the Saviour, by faith in His person as God-man; by faith in His work, sufferings, and exaltation, as our substitute ; and by dependence only on His fullness and grace for fresh supplies in every time of need.
time of need. And that we may both understand the Scriptures, and maintain right views of the person and work of Christ, let us not neglect to pray frequently and fervently for the Holy Spirits instructing, sealing, and comforting influences on our hearts.
For by one or another of these avenues, neglect of the Word, neglect of the Saviour, or neglect of the Holy Spirit, errors of every description creep like watchful serpents into the mind, and poison our sentiments before we are aware of our danger. If, therefore, you would stand fast in the faith, keep a diligent watch with respect to these three things.
In order to maintain a sound and consistent experience, remember that communion with God, a just esteem of His people, and habitual fellowship with them, together with a lively and well-grounded hope of eternal life, make
up the substance and constitute the sweetness of Christian experi
Be frequent, therefore, brethren, and fervent also in private prayer, if would enjoy a sound and sweet experience of the love of God in your own souls, and be useful to others in the ways of the Lord. For unless it is well with you in this secret exercise of the new-born soul, you will have but little habitual relish for frequent communion with saints. For the love of God in our own hearts is the spring of love to His people; and in proportion to our enjoyment of a sense of union to Christ the Head of the Church, and the communications of grace from Him, will be our esteem of His members, and delight in them. Thus you will find, that only while
No. 601.-JANUARY, 1883.
the spring is kept rising, the streams will keep flowing ; for ye are “ kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
Now, communion with saints (which forms the second branch of Christian experience) is a kind of medium between immediate fellowship with God and the prospect of future glory, and takes in something of the true nature of both. For that which constitutes the communion which believers enjoy with each other is the fellowship with God and hope of eternal glory, which each individual enjoys in his own soul, and makes known to the rest. But, remember, he that would enjoy frequent communion with the people of God must watch for opportunities of being often among them, not only in public worship, but also in prayer and godly conversation; as, without these, he cannot intimately know them; and how should habitual fellowship exist without intimate knowledge ? Thus it was that the primitive Church maintained that lively communion of which we read in the first five chapters of the Acts. But, though coming often together into one place is essential to our enjoyment of the social blessings I am speaking of, it does not constitute it; it is the mutual exercise of gifts and grace in the worship of God, and in the service of each other for Christ's sake, which produces Christian fellowship.
The third branch of this word of exhortation is, Let your practice harmonise with the doctrines you profess to believe, and with the experience of the love of God which you profess to enjoy. Without this last, however splendid you may appear as to the two former branches, you will but too nearly resemble a tree in spring, the promising blossoms of which are blighted before the fruit is set, so that in summer it will be found as useless as though it had never bloomed. Here you will recollect the barren fig-tree, the house built on the sand, and the foolish virgins without oil in their lamps. Let us now seriously consider what are the best means of watching over our practice, so that it may be consistent with our faith and experience as believers in Christ.
As the first of these, I consider-A due regard to all the moral precepts in the Word of God. These, if rightly understood, will appear to the true Christian like the well-ordered walks in a beautiful garden, by means of which we enjoy the best views of the scene, and the easiest access to the flowers and fruits. Though the false professor considers them in much the same light as the thief does the garden fence which is put up to keep the fruit out of his reach, yet you, beloved, “ have not so learned Christ." That faith which shuts out evangelical obedience, is, at least, as erroneous as that obedience which shuts out faith. I never yet knew one professor who despised the moral precepts of God's Word without (as far as I could discern) proportionably erring in some branch or other of his practice. “If ye love Me," said our divine Master, "keep My commandments." “ He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me." Here we have faith and obedience united like the tree and its fruit : and what God has thus joined, no well-instructed Christian will wish to put asunder.
The next rule of practice on which I would fix your attention is the example of Christ, as set before us in the Scriptures for our imitation.
“If any man,” saith He, “ will be My disciple, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be.” Let us then endeavour, brethren, to set the Lord always before us; for with Him at cur right hand we shall not be easily moved from the path of duty, which is always, without exception, the path of safety: 'The man Jesus Christ is a complete example for us, in His love to the law, His derotedness to God, the spirituality of His affections, the sweetness of His tempers, the simplicity of His manners, and the benevolence of His heart.
The third and last rule of watchfulness which I recommend to you at this time, is the example of godly men who had like passions with ourselves, and yet have by their practice set forth the purity of the Gospel, to the conviction of the wicked, and the comfort of their brethren. This kind of example bas a peculiar force ; because it proves the obedience of faith, to which we are exhorted, both possible and practicable. It likewise sets before us so many proofs that God is faithful to His word of promise, in enabling poor, sinful mortals to glorify Him by the harmony of their faith, experience, and practice, as some, through grace, have done in all ages of the world.
Further, what we see, or read, or hear of them who are shining examples of piety, always carries evidence with it, that the holiest of mankind are incomparably the happiest of men.
On all these accounts, example has often a stronger influence on our practice than precept. “Let us not then be slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, are gone to inherit the promises."
Brief Iz istorical Sketch of the Baptist @hurch in
IZittle FIlie Street, London.
as Pastor and Deacon, The history of the Baptists begins with that of John the Dipper for that is the plain English of his name- —who, about eighteen centuries and a half ago, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa," and immersed in Jordan those who received his ministry, confessing their sins. John, as the forerunner and herald of Christ, was honoured to immerse his heavenly Master, who was pleased to make this the preliminary and opening act of His own public ministry, thus teaching us, by His own example, that we should in this way enter His visible kingdom on earth. On this sacred occasion there was such a manifestation of the Blessed Trinity as was never before witnessed, thus putting the highest possible honour upon that orjinance which men have since so greatly despised. The Apostles sent forth by our Lord Himself to preach the Gospel of His grace immersed those who gladly received the Word—both men and women.
Their immediate successors followed their example, and notwithstanding the early. corruptions that prevailed in the professing Church, the gross departures from the simplicity of primitive Christianity that, with more or less universality, have
taken place, and the dense darkness that for so many ages Popery was suffered to spread over the nations called Christian – there have always been some who firmly and devoutly kept to the institution in its originality, both as to the subject and the mode. These are the Baptists of to-day, known in past ages by various epithets--abusive or otherwise, as given by their enemies, adopted by themselves, or in other ways applied. As thus known and distinguished, Baptists have had the honour, more than any other religionists, of being hated of all men for Christ's sake on account of their faithful adherence to His laws and ordinances, and resolutely holding fast to the principle that “we ought to obey God rather than men," when the latter impose a course compelling to the alternative. All through the dark ages, even the darkest of them, God had His witnesses for the truth on this point as well as on others who prophesied in the wilderness, sometimes hidden from their enemies, at others exposed to their bitterest cruelty and rage,
The present “ Denomination of Particular Baptists” in this country dates back about 250 years. Baptists had existed here long before, probably all along from the first introduction of Christianity into this land ; but the rage of their persecutors at times was so great as almost to exterminate them. When the country emerged somewhat from the darkness of Popery at the time of the Reformation, men but gradually arrived at Scriptural views concerning Christ's ordinances and the order of Gospel churches. In or about the year 1615, the first Congregationalist church in England of modern times was formed in London. From this society, in the year 1633, some twenty or thirty persons, who had become convinced of the Scripturalness of believers' baptism, were amicably dismissed to form a distinct church in accordance with their own principles. These persons, having become baptized, united together as a church of Jesus Christ on September 12th in the year 1633, as aforesaid. Probably the method of proceeding on this occasion was similar to that observed by the Independent church they had just left on its formation seventeen years previously, and which is recorded as having been as follows :—Having observed å day of solemn fasting and prayer for a blessing on their undertaking, each person made an avowal of his or her faith. Then, standing together, they joined hands and solemnly covenanted with each other in the presence of Almighty God to walk together in all God's ways and ordinances. From this church of baptized believers the church in Little Alie is descended. Mr. John Spilsbury was its first pastor, who was a man of reputation among his brethren in his day. His name is appended to the confession of faith published by seven Particular Baptist churches in London in the year 1642. Mr. Spilsbury had a colleague named Samuel Richardson whose name is coupled with his own in the list of signatories. It would appear that each of these
seven churches had two pastors or elders, there being fourteen names attached to their confession. Mr. Spilsbury published a treatise on baptism not now extant; it appears he died about the year 1662. The meeting-bouse of the church was in Broad Street, Old Gravel Lane, Wapping, and was probably built in the year 1673, forty years after the formation of the church. Where they met for the worship of God during those forty years does not appear ; probably in private houses, or in secluded places, to avoid interruptions and arrests by their persecutors. But at the date last named the iron hand of oppression was a little fifted from off the hated “ dissenter," who forthwith set about building houses for the public worship of his God. This chapel in Gravel Lane was a good-sized place, standing back from the road with large gates before it. It stood for about 150 years, when the site being required for the London Docks it was taken down, having long previously passed into the hands of the Independents.
Mr. Spilsbury was succeeded in the pastoral office by Mr. John Norcott, who was a very judicious, popular, and useful minister of the Gospel. The church was greatly increased under his ministry, towards the latter end of which the