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FOR THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

Kingwood, N.J., October 8, 1847.

DEAR BROTHER: – It is written, “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power.” Shall we then endeavor to speak of some of those things that pertain to this spiritual kingdom, and contemplate for a few moments the glory thereof?

I think we shall discover, as we pass along, that all the excellency, and beauty, and glory, of this kingdom are derived from the King himself: it shall therefore be our aim, to “hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house.” When we consider man under the character in which he is presented to view in the scriptures, with the teaching of the Spirit and the influence of divine truth upon our minds, we then form a just conception of his contamination by sin, and the depravity and degradation into which he has fallen, and are lost in wonder and astonishment that the Lord should ever have had thoughts of compassion and mercy towards him. The patriarchs and prophets of old, nay even the apostles of the Lamb, were never able to fathom the depth of redeeming love, as it had been manifested to a guilty, rebellious race of men. Angels can but wonder, adore, and admire; but the love of Christ passeth knowledge; it is far beyond their comprehension. We are told they desire to look into these things. It is an unfathomable deep, a profound which no thought can measure. The sweet singer of Israel says, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, and the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained: What is man that thou art mindful of him or the son of man that thou visitest him?” Again, it is written, “Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; and the heavens are not clean in his sight: How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water.” That he ever should have considered it meet to feed his people on the rich provisions of grace, is according to the multitude of his mercies, and the love wherewith he hath loved us. We can only exclaim with an apostle, “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Let these considerations, then, excite our love and gratitude, while we proceed to speak more particularly, first of the way in which the blessedness and glory of this kingdom were provided; second, of the abundant provision that is made for its subjects, its sufficiency, and its adaptation to their situation, and their varied wants; and lastly; of its safe repository, the ultimate enjoyment of it being secured to those for whom it was provided.

With respect then to our first proposition, the King himself “though he was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich.” The subjects of his kingdom were partakers of flesh and blood, were under a law which they had broken, and consequently were under condemnations as transgressors, subjects to sin and death, and held in lawful captivity: but notwithstanding all this, he was not ashamed to call them brethren, and to own them as children, saying, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” “Forasmuch then as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Yea in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. And now seeing it hath pleased the Father to bruise him, and he hath put him to grief, let us follow him into the gloomy garden, and listen a while to his piteous complaint: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” “Be not far from me; for trouble is near, and there is none to help.” “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none,” “They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness.” “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”

An angel appears and strengthens him, but it is for a more severe and dreadful conflict. The sword of divine justice is awakened against the Shepherd. He seems to have been forsaken of his Father for a time, and left to the unrelenting cruelty of his enemies. He is taken from prison, and from judgment. Dogs were permitted to encompass him, and the assembly of the wicked to enclose him on every side.

The kings of the earth and the rulers have assembled together, and taken counsel against the Lord’s Anointed: “they gave him gall for his meat; and in his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink;” they pierced both his hands and his feet. And finally, to cap the climax of their wickedness, and for the full completion of the work he had undertaken, “his life is taken from the earth.” “He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” Now he appears to be taken captive of his last enemy; and the princes of this world combine with the powers of darkness to hold the mighty prisoner. But their triumph is of short duration. When the signal moment arrives, their soldiers become like dead men. Their seal of state is disregarded. The massy chains of death are burst in sunder, and he rises victorious over all his enemies. “Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it;” Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: and thus delivered them, who through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage. It was written, “He should not fail nor be discouraged, till he had set judgment in the earth;” and now having finished his work, and cut it short in righteousness: as a mighty conqueror over sin, death, and hell; he is gone up with a shout, and with the sound of a trumpet; having led captivity captive, and received gifts for men: yea for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. The Lord declares himself well pleased for his righteousness” sake. “He hath magnified the law and made it honorable.” “And being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.”

We will now proceed to the second branch of our subject, to contemplate the abundance of the provision, its sufficiency, and its adaptation to the situation and varied wants of those for whom it was intended. The inspired writers seem to have been at a loss, on this subject, for language sufficiently expressive to convey their ideas. An apostle says, The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant: where sin hath abounded grace doth much more abound. There is enough and to spare; yea there is sufficient for the vilest and most ungrateful of all. To one of the bitter persecutors of old, He said, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” No matter how profligate, how long a course of transgression has been continued, or under what aggravated circumstances sin has been committed; “He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And not a single instance is recorded, where the suit of any poor sinner was denied. It is the word of eternal truth that, “He that cometh to him shall in no wise be cast out.” It seems ever to have been a prominent feature in the divine economy, to single out some of the basest and most abandoned wretches, as standing monuments of the riches of his grace, thereby to set forth in living characters, the fulness and sufficiency of that finished righteousness which is wrought for them. No long routine of service is required, no terms or conditions proposed to be complied with: but to the dying sinner he says, “When I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, live; yea I said unto thee, live.” This is salvation worthy of its Author. This is salvation suited to the wants of lost sinners. When awakened to a sense of their situation, guilty and condemned, when every hope is cut off, and the last refuge fails, when even the fire that never shall be quenched, seems already to be preying upon their vitals: His voice is heard, saying, “Son, (or daughter,) be of good cheer, thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” The provisions of the gospel are not only life from the dead, but food for the hungry, and drink for the thirsty. The table is spread with the richest dainties – “A feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined;” milk and honey in abundance, and without money and without price. This food is suited to the appetite and capacity of every subject; it is nourishing and strengthening; it is also satisfying in its nature and tendency; for here they that hunger and thirst after righteousness are filled. This food is the true bread from heaven, and this drink is living water; they that eat thereof live for ever, and they that drink thereof never thirst. They are destitute of clothing, and here is a garment of surpassing beauty prepared for them: here is medicine provided for the sick, eye salve for the blind, gold tried in the fire for the poor, strength for them that have no might, and light for them that sit in darkness. Here is also an hiding place from the tempest, a covert from the storm, and when assailed by their adversaries, a strong tower into which they may run and find safety. Finally, here is triumph over the last enemy. Death has here lost its sting, and is swallowed up in victory. Disarmed of its terrors, it is now a calm and quiet sleep; a sweet repose of the body till the morning of the resurrection, when Christ shall appear to take home his ransomed; when he shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God; to gather together his redeemed from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other.

Then shall we see the King in his beauty, and be satisfied when we awake in his likeness. “We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” “The King’s daughter will then appear all glorious within; her clothing being of wrought gold.” We will now proceed to our last proposition, which we consider the most interesting and important one; viz. The safe repository of the gospel blessings; and the ultimate enjoyment of them being secured to those for whom they were provided. All these things of which we have been speaking, are treasured up in the King himself; for “in him there is plenteous redemption:” and all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth, that he might give eternal life unto as many as the Father hath given him. The government is upon his shoulder, and he has the keys of hell and of death; and hence there is no safety any where else but in him. I am, says he, he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for ever more; and because I live ye shall live also. He is the fountain from whence flow all the blessings of the new covenant. “He is known in the palaces of his kingdom for a refuge.” He is the head over all things to his church, and the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Hence the safety that is found in him for whatever is committed to his trust.

But notwithstanding the bountiful provision he has made to supply all the wants of his people, so utterly undone are they, so weak and so faithless, that if they were even required, of themselves, to reach forward their hands and take of the food, and lay hold of the garment and put it on, the whole would be an entire failure; not one would ever obtain the blessing. But not so, the King well understands their situation and therefore he does not trifle with them. It was not said in vain, that he was such an High Priest as became them. And now, as their Advocate and Forerunner, he has entered within the veil, where he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Shall we draw near, and listen to his voice, while he intercedes in behalf of transgressors? “Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake; let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.” “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach, the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me,” Are such sinners as we are, the objects of this intercession? if so, who can doubt its efficacy? For in him the Father is well pleased. Nay, we have the strongest assurance that he will be heard. He himself says, “My prayer is unto thee O Lord, in an acceptable time:” To which we may understand the Father as replying; “In an acceptable time I have heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee;” To which the apostle adds, “Behold, now is the accepted time! behold, now is the day of salvation;” by which he evidently intends the gospel day. He seems to anticipate all the trials and temptations, the doubts and fears to which his children would be liable. He had partaken of their nature and was therefore well acquainted with their infirmities. Therefore when he was about to leave them, and go to prepare a place for them, he promised them another Comforter, who should abide with them for ever; even the Spirit of truth. How reviving and consoling are his words, I will not leave you comfortless, the Comforter whom the Father will send in my name, shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you. And how oft have we realized the fulfillment of his words; when sinking in despondency, pressed down with a sense of guilt, and surrounded by a host of enemies, some of his precious promises have been brought to our remembrance, bringing them comfort and peace.

And when the promises are brought to view by the Spirit, they come “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” It is his province not only to quicken and make alive, but to bring to a knowledge of themselves, of their lost condition by nature, and of the way of life and salvation through a Redeemer. “He shall guide you into all truth.” Also to enable them from time to time to receive of the provisions of the gospel, and to rejoice in them. “He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you,” and just according to our necessities, and when we are properly prepared to receive, when we have learned the value of these things, so that we will properly prize them, then will he abundantly satisfy us with the fatness of his house, and cause us to drink of the river of his pleasures. And we confidently assert that sinners in a state of nature, are as unable to receive and enjoy the blessings of the gospel, as they are to keep the law. And therefore every blessing, according to their utmost need, will be freely bestowed upon them. His grace will be found sufficient for them. Unto the bride, in all her destitution and rags, “ was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.” “The Father said unto his servants, bring forth the best robe and put in on him, and put a ring on his hand, and put shoes on his feet.” Again, “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Thus, then, is the promise made sure to all the seed; they are taken out of a horrible pit, and miry clay, and their feet set upon a rock; because the Lord hath anointed one that is mighty, one chosen out of the people, “to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” In conclusion, not one is so weak, so little, or so unworthy as to be neglected, out in all the families of the earth, “the prey shall be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered.” “For the Lord hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary, to behold the children of men, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, and to loose those that are appointed to death.”

Yours in christian fellowship,
E. RITTENHOUSE.

Signs of the Times
Volume 15, No. 21
November 1, 1847