Dear Sister Jenkins: – It seems a long time since I have, written to you, and I am sure the loss is mine rather than yours. For several months past I have not felt inclined to write much, and I do not know that I can even guess the reason. If it is because I have at times been led through deep waters, then do I feel to be willing to sacrifice any pleasure of my own, in the assurance that an exorcise of grace is going on within me. Yet I realize, when I do not write that I do not receive letters. Yesterday and to-day my mind has gone out to you in christian love and fellowship, and I have wondered if you, too, are passing through deep waters. I have thought perhaps our exercises being similar might be a cause of my mind being drawn to you. The Lord does not require that two of his children should be together in the body, in order to walk together in the Spirit. The body of Christ is one body, having many members, yet each member acts and moves in unison with every other member of the body. But I cannot help thinking there is a similarity of experience, and a walking together in the Spirit at the same time that the minds of each should be drawn to the other. I love to write to my brethren and sisters when I feel that peculiar drawing, and a direct impression impelling me to sit down and write. As for duty letters, I am a poor hand at them, I cannot for the life of me rind anything to say. What wonderful beauty Zion presents when her graces shine forth out of the suffering of her saints, whoso suffering is in fellowship with the sufferings of our gracious Redeemer. Conflicts and deliverances call forth our continued praises unto the King of glory; for in our conflicts we are made aware of our insufficiency in ourselves to withstand the enemy. Therefore we look to him who hath said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” As the Captain of our salvation, Jesus fights our battles, not with carnal weapons, but by the power of his word. And when we are delivered, he having opened our prison doors, he also puts a new song in our mouth, oven praises unto his holy name. You, dear sister, have felt the sweetness of his presence in your dreadful loneliness. To you he has been a husband to the widow. He has strengthened you to live on, fulfilling your allotted time, in the sweet assurance that when he has accomplished his wise purpose in you on earth, he will take you to himself, where the dear partner of your life, which he gave and has taken away, has preceded you but a short time. Only for this blessed assurance how could you bear up day after day? In addition to this, he has given you the company, the sympathy and the fellowship of your brethren, and the privilege of listening to the proclamation of his word, which things are greater riches than the world can ever give. Then out of a thankful heart you offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise at the altar of his grace and mercy. If the way through which we are called to pass is strewn with thorns and thistles, our bleeding and torn feet cry out for the courts of Zion, while the bruised and bleeding heart seeks after, and pants for the living God. There are no depths of suffering, or of humiliation into which we may sink, but Jesus has been there before us in suffering, in humiliation and in death, therefore is he able to succor all that are tempted. And he does deliver all who come unto God by him. God’s ways are far above our ways, both in knowledge and wisdom, because his ways are perfect. With our carnal blindness, through the vail of the flesh we cannot look into the perfect law of liberty, and know how to walk uprightly before God. My carnal nature keeps telling me all the time that I must do something which I am made to think is good and acceptable in the sight of God. But when I am so divinely favored as to see Jesus as the end of the law for righteousness, and the still small voice sweetly whispers, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him,” then does the carnally built ladder, which I had reared heavenward, fall to the earth, and I find it has proved as valueless to me as did the brick and slime affair which was erected by some of old, and called the tower of Babel. When Jesus reveals his heavenly virtues, then do I find I cannot think a good thought, and certainly no good act can I perform. Saul of Tarsus verily thought he was doing a good work and serving God, until the heavenly light of divine truth flooded his presence, which light revealed to him many things, foremost of which was the voice which answered his question, “I am Jesus whom thou persecuteth,” also that they whom he was pursuing to slaughter were the saints of God, and moreover that he himself was the “chief of sinners.” I am made to fear and tremble when I myself think I am doing some good thing in the service of my Master, because I hope I know that in the invisible kingdom of Christ, wherein we live by the faith of the Son of God, the right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth, and he that putteth his hand to the plow in the field of the spiritual Boaz, looketh not back to the world of carnal filthy righteousness, but with humble mien, and a contrite spirit, he presses toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He does this with the clear knowledge that his life, his strength and every motion of his soul, and every exercise of his mind, is dependent upon Jesus, the hope of his salvation, and that without him he can do nothing. Therefore any act that is visible to his natural senses, and he thinks is good, is utterly contemned, and is not acceptable in the sight of God. It is only as little children that we can in any wise enter in the kingdom of our God. The grace of God sustains us and builds us up in the nurture and ad monition of the Lord, and through faith we are saved by his grace. As little children, we desire the sincere milk of the word, but like the apostle, when we have grown to be men and women, we put away childish things, and then we need stronger food, even the doctrine of the Lord, which drops as the rain, and the speech of God, which distils as the dew. A brother said to me yesterday, “I cannot receive preaching, or the reading of the Bible, with the same childish glee that I did in the first years of my pilgrimage.” I asked him if he thought he could play marbles now, with the same childish innocence and glee that he did when in the first years of his natural life! There is no doubt a growth in grace, and a growth out of self, that when we do not comprehend it, we suffer and feel that our hope is vain, because we do not enjoy as we once did. Then do we moan and cry for days like the golden days of our youth, and with Job our cry ascends, “O that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.” Such reflections, too, are good for us, because they make us to realize the goodness of God, and his merciful loving-kindness to us throughout all our journey.
I have not written as I hoped I could, yet I hope, dear sister, you will receive it, not because of the value of its contents, but as a token of my esteem and fellowship for you. We all send love. All are in usual health.
Affectionately your brother, in hope of life eternal,
B. F. COULTER.
[Having had the privilege of reading the above letter, we have persuaded sister Jenkins to allow us to publish it. We have not obtained brother Coulter’s consent, but we know him to be an honest man, and that he would not refuse to his brethren what rightfully belongs to them. – Ed.]
Signs Of The Times
Volume 67, No. 10
May 15, 1899