Philadelphia, Pa., March 16, 1908.
Dear Fellow-travelers: – If you climb a mountain and successfully reach the top, about the first thing you do is to take a long breath of satisfaction. The next thing is to view the beautiful panorama spread out before your wondering vision; hills and valleys with sparkling, laughing streams between, grazing cattle and waving fields of grain, joyous songbirds gracefully flitting from tree to tree, giving vent to the beauty of life which is theirs to enjoy; then over all, the deep blue vault of heaven, in the midst] of which you behold the sun shining in his strength. Thoughts all-glorious fill your mind, because the Creator of all, the Master of all, is seen and felt in all created nature; the heart leaps with joy, the whole being echoes her delight. So also as you travel over the hills and valleys of Canaan, and as you reach the summit of one of the delectable mountains of God’s love you feel that same sense of satisfaction and peace, a desire to rest; there in God’s holy mountain you behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The beauty and order of the house of the Lord is unfolded to your wondering vision, and with the poet you sing,
“Father, whate’er of earthly bliss
Thy sovereign will denies,
Accepted at the throne of grace
Let this petition rise:
Give me a calm and thankful heart,
From every murmur free;
The blessing of thy grace impart,
And make me live in thee.
Let the sweet hope that thou art mine,
My life and death attend;
Thy presence through my journey shine,
And crown my journey’s end.”
You feel in your heart you are now forever free from sin, from anxious cares, turmoil and doubts. Bathed in heavenly light, crowned with the star of hope, draped with the dazzling, flowing robe of the righteousness and holiness of Christ the Lord, you fain would sit and sing yourself away to everlasting bliss. But alas, all too soon are you called back to earth and earthly things, your feet are sore, your weary limbs bespeak a tedious, tiresome journey, your whole body is racked with pain, a long drawn sigh escapes you, while your soul longeth for a quiet, peaceful rest. Just then a voice, not audible to your natural ear, speaks sweetly to your soul, There is a rest that remaineth to the people of God. And O what a rest! – a restful, abiding faith, secure in the lap of precious grace, and stimulated by the fondest and cheeriest hope. So you look about you with rapturous gaze, your eyes turn to the deep valley below from whence you came, and the tortuous way along the mountain’s side, where many days and nights were consumed in fear, in doubt and in trembling. “Remember.” What a word and how full of meaning. Remembering all the way our weary feet have trodden, all the way the Lord our God hath led us, remembering the strength, the cunning and the hatred of our enemies, and, with Jeremiah, “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” We remember the many obstacles in the tiresome way, our thoughts fly back to the ends of the earth, the place of God’s creation, from whence we were called to the light of life, to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a lively hope by his resurrection from the dead. How dim the distance as memory travels, yet how bright and clear in remembrance the places of conflict and deliverance, where the gracious hand of the blessed Redeemer led us in the right way. Long were the valleys and short the hills, but very steep, as we traveled on, sometimes in hope, sometimes in fear, and often in dismal doubt. Now however we have reached another summit and are looking back in fond remembrance of the hand which lovingly, kindly, secretly, surely led us by the still waters and into green and quiet pastures. Seeing as through a glass darkly, (the glass darkened with sin and evil thoughts,) we never could have found our way alone, indeed we would not have sought the way at all had not the soft, kindly touch of the Elder Brother’s hand encouraged us to press forward and scale the mountain’s side. How wonderful was this leading when we call to remembrance the time of our awakening, that we were enemies to him who redeemed us, “Enemies in your [our] mind by wicked works,” and that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And because he loved us, by his own lifeblood he removed from us the stain of sin, and clothed us with pure linen, which is the righteousness of saints. Turning the eyes from the fitful, feverish journey, from the blackness and deceitfulness of the flesh, and by faith looking not at the things which come up out of the earth, but at the things which come down from heaven, beholding the beauty of the Lord and the order of his house, then have we entered into rest, the gospel heavens are filled with the glory of the Majesty on high. We behold Jesus as the end of the law for righteousness, and “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 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.” This is the peace that passeth understanding, made known only to the saints of God who reach the summit of the holy mountain of the Lord; then the ever-watchful eye of the Lord of the mountain protects and keeps his children in perfect security. “The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
May grace, mercy and peace rest with all the saints as they travel the dark and dreary way.
B. F. COULTER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 20.
OCTOBER 15, 1908.