Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 5. 1900.
Dear Brother And Sister Hait: – You have both been on my mind for several days, and I feel impressed to write to you. The Lord leads his people in a peculiar way; in a way they do not know. While I am glad to have the desire to write to you, yet I do not feel worthy of your fellowship and love. If I am in the christian journey at all, I travel so slow. I seem to go backward instead of forward, and I grow smaller all the time. If I could only be like you both, and like all the brethren and sisters whom I love so much, having the mind of Christ, manifesting holiness, but I am worldly minded, the beggarly elements of the world interest me, I search for worldly comforts, and vain desires take hold upon me, I cannot think there is any one like me. It is a very solemn and a very serious thing for one to make public profession to be a follower of the lowly Lamb of God, and to have one’s name upon the church-book enrolled with the saints of God; surely it is a weighty matter, and a deep responsibility. As I see my brethren manifesting a feeling sense of the great things which they profess, thoroughly established in the doctrine of God our Savior, and fixed upon the foundation of our hope, the Rock Christ Jesus, how I desire to be like them, and how my heart longs for heavenly things. But alas, I turn my eyes within and behold mine infirmities, my weakness, my ignorance and my blindness, and indeed it makes my heart sick, and I am ready to faint by the way. My heart and my eyes (of faith) turn toward Jerusalem, and my soul’s desire is for the courts of Zion. For there is my King and my Savior, the life of my delights. To behold his beauty is joy unspeakable, to recognize his name as the shadow (and the substance, too) of a great rock in a weary land, where the pilgrims of Zion are sheltered from the cold storms and bleak east winds of the world, is a pleasure for evermore. I am glad to believe that to be a member of the church of Christ, worthy and consistent, in good standing, having the fellowship of all the brethren’, is greater honor than all the world can give. The lowest seat (if such can be found) in the temple of our God, is greater riches than the gold of a thousand mines. Infinitely more would we rather suffer affliction as a son, than to enjoy comforts and pleasures as a bastard. So much of my lime I question my own acceptance in the Beloved. I search and search for evidences of a good hope through grace. And usually the sad result of my search is vain, because I am looking for some good thing in my flesh. I forget (for the time) that God is both the author and finisher of my faith. But when the Spirit takes of the things of Jesus and shows them unto me, then is my hope strengthened that the promises of God in Christ Jesus are for me. I find I must learn the lesson over and over again, that I cannot by searching find out God, that the judgments of God are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. Except God reveals unto us the secrets of his treasurehouse, we are altogether and forever in darkness. And how we are humbled, dear brother and sister, when we discover that as grace exercises ns, so we are given light and wisdom and understanding to guide us all our journey through. You have both been long in the way, and you can call to remembrance the precious seasons when Jesus talked with you as you traveled, and your heart burned within you, and you knew not that it was Jesus, until he had blessed you and disappeared from your view. Then how you went on your way rejoicing in the assurance of everlasting life, and a good hope through grace. Jesus never leaves his followers without hope. However low down we get, or however discouraged, hope urges to “press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We are sometimes told by the religious world that the doctrine we hold is a dangerous doctrine. I will quote from a dear sister in the west, who when told it was a dangerous doctrine, said, “The few who do believe this dangerous doctrine have much to be thankful for.” It is dangerous to them that love the world, and delight to follow its dictates, because it opposes every desire of the flesh, but to the saints of God it is precious. Jesus Christ is the foundation of this doctrine, and to us it is a place of refuge, a strong tower, a comforting and a secure retreat, we lie down in green pastures, and there is none to molest or make us afraid, because he is our Shepherd, and he is with us, he watcheth over us in love, and not as an hired servant. How wonderfully secure are we in his tender embrace. He knoweth all our wants, and supplieth our necessities, he also giveth us the spirit of prayer and supplication to ask that his will be done concerning us. Merciful and divinely gracious is our God unto us. My cry out of a crushed heart is, “My leanness, my leanness.” He heareth my cry and giveth me rivers of oil. Is not this your experience, dear ones? The nights of a miction are ofttimes long and dreary, and sorrow is the shroud of the darkness, but to him that “looketh for the morning, joy cometh, Jesus is the bright and morning star, his countenance lighteth “all the world. He says, “My sheep hear my voice.” How quickly do they flee at the voice of the stranger. When I contrast my own ugliness with the beauty of our gracious Redeemer, I hang my head in shame, I am “less than nothing and vanity,” he is “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
What a selfish letter you will find this to be, it is self, self, from beginning to end, but such as I have I give unto you, I have done the very best I can; I want to do better for your sakes, but when the Lord shuts no man can open. Please bear with me and pray for me.
My wife joins me in love to you both, and to all the dear brethren and sisters of the Middletown and New Vernon churches, with your dear pastor included. May the Lord richly bless you, that you may yet these many years continue to be a blessing to your brethren.
Affectionately your brother,
B. F. COULTER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1901.