CORRESPONDENCE

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.

DEAR SISTER JONES: – Your gladly welcomed letter of February 19th has been received and read with real pleasure by myself and wife, also by several of our dear brethren and sisters besides. We Old School Baptists in Philadelphia do not consider that we are justified in withholding from each other the rich grains of the golden harvest which come to us as sweet messages of Christ’s dear love out of the plenteous fields of our spiritual Boaz. In this way we share each other’s joys as well as sorrows, and so bear each other’s burdens. Your letter was rich in the sweet experience which is common to all the saints, and also rich as you touched upon the precious doctrine of God our Savior. I can imagine how your heart was filled with adoration and praise when you wrote the words, What a blest people God’s people are. What is sweeter, deeper and more lasting than the love of Christ? Did you ever think, dear sister, that words written out of the overflowing abundance of the heart are illuminated by the force and power of the emotion actuating them, and when they are sent to and reach the heart that is filled with the same sweet song it is also thrilled with the same emotion and love? How wonderfully true it is, God works in a mysterious way in the hearts of his people. The manifestation of his love toward us always (I think) astonishes us, because it comes from a source the least expected. You remember Paul prayed three times that the thorn might be removed from his flesh, and the prayer was answered in a very different way than he expected, for God in a few simple words (but attended with power), My grace is sufficient for thee, gave him such strong assurance that he was able (by that grace) to withstand the messengers of Satan which did buffet him, and so the thorn was removed without his present knowledge, and in a sense that was difficult for him to readily understand.

Again I will quote from your letter: “The Bible speaks of teachers, apostles, &c., but I do not see any subject designated to ask questions.” Perhaps not, and 1 may tell you I cannot think at this moment of any characters in the Bible who did not ask questions, except perhaps righteous Noah and faithful Abraham. Indeed, I feel that it is highly commendable in the saints of God to encourage an inquiring mind. But, as you say, it is easier to ask than to answer questions, although I sometimes find it very hard to ask for the information I desire. Really the first step of importance to be taken in the matter of seeking information is to approach unto the Source of all knowledge. You remember that Solomon (as an humble child) went out in the field and asked the Lord, not for riches and honor, but that he might be given wisdom and knowledge to rule the people, Israel, in his father David’s stead. Then, secondly, to those whom we feel have been led deeper into the wonderful mystery of the gospel we little ones may go, always depending upon the Lord that he may give them the wisdom and knowledge to so instruct us according to our desire. Now, dear sister, if you only could know how little and weak I am in Christ’s kingdom, the very least of all the saints, and less than the least, if indeed one at all, you would not ask of me to give you gospel light, who are so favored with that light from above, but as it is our plain christian duty to use all the ability with which we are blessed of God to comfort, enlighten and sustain each other, 1 will as much as in me is endeavor to answer the questions you have asked me. As we read from the beginning of the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, which being on your mind you have of course read carefully, we can understand something of the manner by which this beautiful figure of peace and harmony was accomplished, and by whom. The prophet is here foretelling the coming of the peaceable kingdom of the branch out of the root of Jesse, how that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, &c., and righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins. He foretold the coming of a King who should reign in righteousness. Now having the girdle of righteousness about his loins, having wisdom, and understanding, and counsel, and might, and the’ fear of the Lord, well could he say, when he came to his own, In the world ye shall have tribulation, in me peace. Your understanding of the spiritual application of that reign of peace, my sister, is strictly in accord with my understanding of it: that that kingdom is already set up in the hearts of his people, that all other kingdoms have been broken down, that King Jesus reigns supreme, and blessed peace exists. The apostle declares, Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? Where his Spirit dwells there is peace. In this spiritual or gospel kingdom is represented the two natures in each individual inhabitant. Although Christ has died for us, and our sins are washed away in the blood of the Lamb of God, and are remembered against us no more forever, yet when we enter the holy mountain of the Lord we must necessarily carry with us these vile bodies in which we are sometimes tenants. The Adamic nature not being changed, only clothed upon, represents still all the works of the flesh, of which the wolf, the leopard, the bear and the lion in our chapter are figures, each one representing its own peculiar characteristic in the evil propensities of our flesh. The spiritual nature manifests and represents the fruits of the Spirit, of which the lamb, &c., are figures, and these are enmity the one to the other, literally and also spiritually. But our chapter tells us they lie down together in the kingdom of peace, and how? You remember our Savior said, When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted. Jesus hath overcome the world, and by his appearing hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The victory is won, the stronger man has come, the strong man is overcome and bound, but not destroyed, the Adamic or carnal nature is subdued and in subjection. The wild animal propensities in us are not changed, but are overcome and conquered by the stronger power. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. Yes, none can enter this peaceful kingdom except they become as a little child, and, no matter how strong and fierce they were outside, a little child shall lead them, and they gladly and joyfully follow; and the cow and the bear shall feed, and their young ones shall lie down together. N o strife now, for Jesus reigns, and is exalted as a Prince and a Savior. And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. This to me is a beautiful picture of the patience, forbearance, mildness and peaceful qualifications of the children of grace (the inhabitants of beloved Zion). Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (Rom. iv. 13.) Whereas in the times past we would have resented every persecution, now, like the patient ox, we eat the straw of tribulation, suffering all things for Christ’s sake, thereby receiving the blessing. For Christ has said, Blessed are ye when men revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake: rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

I hope in this I have not darkened counsel by words without knowledge, also that out of the many pages you find a little crumb of comfort and enlightenment. My wife joins me in christian love to yourself and husband.

Hoping you will again favor us, I am your unworthy brother,
B. F. COULTER

Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 23
December 1, 1914