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G. J. STEVENSON, 54, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
To My Readers And Friends, And To All
WHO ARE ASKING THE WAY TO ZlON,
In commencing the fifteenth volume of The Earthen Vessel, I shall not attempt any formal address; but simply endeavour to meet a threefold demand made upon me; the first of which is, the inward call of a living frith to offer up my thanksgiving unto the Lord for his continued goodness toward me in the field of labour, wherein "with all my power," (as Jacob said) I have served the churches of Christ I cannot yet say as one of old did—'God hath taken away my reproach,'—for
'—— trouble", like a gloomy cloud
but still,' the God of my father hath been with me :" and, "in the land of my affliction, he hath caused me to be fruitful.' Deep in my soul, I feel there is a desire to adopt the language of the ancient king, (2 Sam. xxii. 47,) 'the Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation. It is God that bringeth me forth from mine enemies. He baa lifted me up; and delivered me from the violent man. Therefore, I Will
OITE THAXKB UNTO THEE, 0 LOUD; I
will sing praises unto thy Name.' Albeit, as David intreated the king of Moab for his father and mother, saying, 'Let them be
With yOU, TTLL I KNOW WHAT GOD WILL
Do For mi"—so, until my deliverance be fully come, I would beseech my friends still to plead at Mercy's throne for me; and still to aid in further thrusting out this little Messenger of many minds, touching the good news the gospel brings, and the great work the Lord is accomplishing in the hearts of all whom grace divine hath called into the spiritual warfare between the flesh and the spirit; between truth and error; between the delusions of satan and the developements of the everlasting covenant which is ordered in all things and sure.
Vcl. XV.—No. 186.
Secondly, gratitude demands my unfeigned thanks to all my readers, correspondents, agents, and donors; for by their united exertions, and kind expressions of practical help, the circulation of this work has not diminished; neither has the Lord withholden his blessing from it, as some hundreds of testimonies declare. By very special providences, thus far I have been carried forward, and I cannot forbear, (like the Psalmist,) exclaiming—'* 0 bless our God, ye people; make the praise of his voice to be heard, which holdeth our soul in life; and suffereth not our feet to be moved!' and may the happy day soon arrive, when like the following verse, we may humbly acknowledge, ' Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads I we went through Jtre, and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a (spiritual,) wealthy place I" The third demand is, to give a few thoughts upon the words of Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians. 'But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of Die power may be of God, and not of us:' There are five distinct branches growing out of this scripture. It would fill a volume, to open all the leaves which on the branches grow; but a few words on each may lead to some good reflection.
I. The gospel is called a treasure.
II. There is an excellency of power going with it.
III. The mediums of communication are comparatively mean—only earthen vessels.
IV. The design of this is, to shew that the excellency of the power is not of men, but of God.
V. There is a three-fold confidence.
1 Of possession—'We have this treasure.'
2 Of humiliation, 'we are only earthen
3 Of submission—' that the glory may be given to God, and not to us; therefore, we would, with all the church unite—" Not unto us; but unto thy name be all the praised."