My dear Brothers and Sisters, set up of God the Father with Christ Jesus from everlasting, as a part of that church which has been his from all eternity, and will be throughout its countless ages; chosen, preserved, and called:--This is the soul-upholding truth which supports the poor believer, which is dear to him, though despised of all others.
I am making another attempt to communicate to you some of the precious things which engaged my mind when standing up on yesterday's Sabbath to proclaim the everlasting Gospel of God. They were great and glorious things which were given to me to proclaim, feeble and unworthy as the instrument might be made use of in their proclamation.
My attempt to communicate with you on Monday last was, in part, a failure, as I could not get through with the outline of the afternoon's discourse. I failed, in not being enabled, on account of my head, to set forth the way in which I had preached the child of light walking in light, as being light IN THE LORD. This was the main spot wherein I failed. I feel but very ill qualified, this morning, to communicate anything of the great things of yesterday's discourses, but I will make the attempt, looking to him, from whom I humbly hope and believe these discourses came at the time, to enable me to communicate some few at least of the precious thoughts of my mind when standing up and speaking upon these great, glorious, all-important, and deeply interesting words: "I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." (Hosea 2:19,20)
We opened the discourse in the morning, as far as I can recollect, with declaring the certainty of every thing being accomplished respecting the church, the Lord's people, that was spoken of in the word respecting them. That these things, as they were being accomplished in the Lord's people, were in time discoverable by them, as things declared to be God's purpose concerning them, and fulfilled in them. That in this way the great truths of the Gospel were known experimentally by them, not merely as things set forth in the word; while these being found in the word, by those in whom they were being fulfilled of God, was a great means of these persons being established in the truth, which constituted the word or Gospel of God. I showed that the words of the text related to the Lord's people when brought under the dispensation of grace, as distinguished from that of the law.
I showed man's condition under the law; the discovery of this made to the chosen ones, when God allured them, brought them into the wilderness, and, while dealing with them in the wilderness, speaking comfortably to them by his Gospel; in meeting that need and necessity, a sense of which he had wrought within, by opening their hearts to the reception, through faith, of Jesus, and the promises, yea and amen in him, to every one that believeth, in which way a door of hope was opened to them, and the Lord's work, of betrothing his own to him, was entered upon. I described the union and espousing of the church to Jesus, which had been from the setting up of Christ, from everlasting. That when Christ was set up from everlasting, it was as head of the chosen church, ordained in him to eternal life; in whom they had, and had had from everlasting, a holy, heavenly, divine, spiritual nature, of which at the betrothing time, when the poor, perishing, helpless sinner was to be brought and espoused to Christ, or God in Christ, they were, by the divine operations of the Holy Ghost, in and upon their souls, made partakers; it was then begotten in them. So that the betrothing of them to Christ was in righteousness: "I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness."
I showed that this nature, being always a part of Christ, as set up from everlasting, partook of his righteousness, and was in him when he became incarnate and fulfilled all righteousness, for or on account of the church. That this act of God was in righteousness, inasmuch as he did not betroth the sinner unto him, but as he had brought Christ, as set up from everlasting, under the law. That Christ was "made of a woman, made under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that they might receive the adoption of sons." That in this God had due respect to his own holiness and justice; so when he betrothed his people to himself, he did it in righteousness and in judgment. In this way there was righteousness in all that God did, while his people were made righteous when they were betrothed to Christ. I showed that it was in judgment; that the law was duly regarded by God in this. That Christ was made the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. That there was no other END of the law but this; that the righteousness of Christ was brought to render all the required obedience to the law, of those who were in eternity given to Christ. That the law had no other end but this; that in the case of these it had an end, but not in the case of any others. That it was in righteousness and in judgment God betrothed the chosen to himself, when he did it in Christ.
I spoke of the two natures in those that were thus betrothed. That it was the new and holy nature, partaker of the righteousness of Christ, and inspired and enlightened by the Spirit, that was made alive to and sensible of the unholy, carnal, sensual, earthly nature that was in and belonged to every man. That the light, the holiness, the spirituality of this new nature, enabled those betrothed to Christ to form a right judgment of the old nature, and its deserts at God's hand, and thus to judge scripturally of their own selves, and their state before God as in themselves, independent of the new man in them. That in this sense, it was in judgment that they were betrothed unto Christ. That they were brought to judgment in their own consciences to condemn themselves, and to justify God in their own eternal condemnation under the law; with the eternal condemnation of all found under the law in the same state and condition with themselves.
I spoke of the natural man--the man of the world--of his utter inability to come, in his natural state, to such a judgment of himself, or to form any right judgment or apprehension of the child of God in his relationship to God, as thus betrothed by him to himself. That he could form no idea of those holy principles of action, which, through this betrothing, becometh principles of action in the child of God, from his new and holy nature.
I showed the worldly man to be incapable of any principles higher than those of the world. I spoke of him as of the world, according to our Lord's own words of Christ's choosing his own from out of and amongst these; that it was a real separation, of the sovereign, discriminating, distinguishing grace of God, testified to, and spoken to, in the words of the text.
I showed that while the man of the world was incapable of forming a right judgment of the man of God, that the man of God could see through and judge of the principles of action by which the man of the world was influenced in all his ends and aims in all he said and all he did; and this through the light which he had from the new man, enabling him to see into and dissect the workings of his own old carnal, corrupt nature, according to 1 Cor. 2:14-16: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ."
What I have been deficient in endeavoring to set before you of this discourse you must apply to S. M. to make up. I fancy, from what was said by two persons afterwards, that the discourse was very searching. One said, that it made him tremble for his own interest in Christ, and fear he had none; while another said, that it had given him a tremendous shaking.
I spoke to the experimentally taught child of God being able to detect a hypocrite, through this inward enlightening and teaching. And in speaking about the end of the law to the child of God, through his union to Christ, I also showed in what way an end would be made in him at death, to the old nature, but that in all others it would outlive death, and fit them for making a hell for themselves and others, when they were all brought together with the infernal spirits, to act out their infernal principles one towards another, as far as would be compatible with subjection to that control which God would exercise over them, so as not to allow them in any way to interfere with him or his purposes, or his people.
I think I had better not attempt to send you anything of the afternoon discourse by this post, but see what I can do tomorrow, if the Lord permits and enables. I have written three letters before commencing this, and it is now dinner time, while yesterday was laborious and trying. My Christian love to you all.
Remaining affectionately yours in the Lord.