Prefatory Remarks

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It is not with the thought of publishing anything unknown before that this little volume is sent forth, but with the hope of bringing before the Christian reader what was well known in the beginning of Christianity, though now, perhaps, receiving less attention than the truth demands.
It is confessedly a time when every good thing is being diluted or adulterated; nor has the truth of God escaped the corrupting influences, so that many of the Lord’s people are sad and drooping instead of giving thanks and rejoicing; and collective ruin and disorder instead of worship, and united testimony to the truth, are to be seen on every hand. It must therefore be important to inquire where the defect lies in those who are truly born of God. We believe much of it arises from a low state of soul, a superficial acquaintance with divine truth, and an erroneous idea that God’s word is given only to teach sinners the way of salvation, and that there is little to be known here besides the forgiveness of sins. But as to souls who are better instructed, and where doctrine is guarded, and orthodoxy contended for, the question may be asked, Why is it there is so little liberty, joy, and devotedness? We believe the answer is found in a lack of peace and communion.
there cannot be communion and true worship. If “care” and “fear” distress the soul, there will not be the comfort of the peace of God {Phil. 4:77And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)}, which surpasseth all understanding, keeping the heart and mind. If we walk in His ways, the God of peace {Rom. 15:3333Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Romans 15:33)} will be with us.
is also the happy privilege of every child of God; but how few speak of these things as their own happy experience. It is not merely, then, the present certainty of forgiveness of sins (blessed as it is) which the believer is entitled to know, but peace with God {Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)}, the peace of God {Phil. 4:77And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)}, the presence of the God of peace {Phil. 4:99Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9)} with us, and even joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ {Rom. 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)}, by whom we have received the reconciliation, and much more.
While many a true-hearted Christian is suffering greatly in soul from lack of knowledge, others, perhaps, are too much taken up with doctrines; content, it may be, with critical accuracy and orthodoxy, rather than the power of the truth in the love of it. The consequence is that some have unconsciously become more like theological students and scholars of divinity, than devoted followers of Christ in the path of obedience and suffering for His sake. It is clear that it is not merely the knowledge of doctrines that the child of God should desire, important as it is, but he should be occupied with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all doctrine points, and in relation to whom we now stand as members of His body {Eph. 5:3030For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30)}, dependent on the Head {see Eph. 4:1515But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:15); Col. 2.19}, and called to show forth His characteristics, and to bear much fruit. We may be sure that when the word of Christ dwells in us richly, there will be faith and love in activity, as well as knowledge; there will be communion as well as peace. We can understand a person being taken up with certain “views,” as they are called, and holding what is true, perhaps, according to the letter of Scripture, and yet being as unspiritual and lifeless as he can well be; but we cannot understand a soul really receiving God’s testimony concerning the personal glory, the finished work, and the coming again of His own Son, without being attracted to Him. Neither can we understand a person having the present possession of eternal life without its producing results, both in experience and walk. Scripture is most decisive about this; for not only does John write his first epistle in order that those who believe on the name of the Son of God may know that they have eternal life, but he further declares that
and when this love to God’s children is wanting, the person is pronounced to be destitute of vital Christianity, however loud his profession may be, and however extensive his Bible knowledge; for it is added.
This point was also of such great moment with the apostle Paul, that we find the principle on which he accredited persons as being “in Christ” was not because they professedly believed in Christ, but because he also heard of their love . . . to all the saints {Col. 1:44Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, (Colossians 1:4)}; their love in the Spirit {Col. 1:88Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:8)}.
He knew how easy it was to say “I believe in Jesus,” as many do now; but until he heard of love flowing out to all saints, how could he recognize them as having eternal life? We, therefore, on one occasion find him teaching that whatever a man did, or whatever he said, if love were wanting, he was only
Take another point. Scripture teaches that those who have remission of sins have the Holy Ghost given unto them; being children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,
Now, we ask, is it possible that God the Holy Ghost should take up His abode in us for ever, without producing results both in experience and walk? Without this, could there be a consciousness of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts? (See Rom. 5:55And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5).) Have we no comfort from a power within us beyond what is natural in His leading, guiding, teaching, and taking of the things of Christ, and showing them unto us? Do we know what it is to have One directing our hearts to Him who is glorified, and in whom we possess all things, whilst we are increasingly conscious of having nothing in ourselves? Can we ascribe our joy in the Lord, our hope of His coming, or even the grief, and reproof when walking contrary to the truth of God, to any power short of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us? And how could our thoughts and affections flow in the current of the thoughts and affections of the Father and His Son, but for
May, then, both reader and writer be filled with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost!