How often have we cause to remember, that, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” We remember that we are but dust. And as the habitation, and the course, and the performance of the earth and the heavens, and all the creation of God, are fixed within the bounds, and subjected to an inflexible law, by the hand and perfect wisdom of God; so also does the same hand of wisdom, and equity, and judgment, lead about and instruct the children of the living God, in the wilderness of this world. He bringeth them also to “a place of broad rivers and streams.” To the Zion of our God. They shall find it to be a solemn city, and “a quiet habitation.” They did walk “according to the course of this world,” in their own vain glory, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were children of wrath even as others,” until the Lord by his grace did save them from themselves and their sinful lusts, and did turn them about, setting their faces away from the delusions and snares of the world; which were once a joy and gladness to them. Nothing short of the power of the grace of God can turn a dead sinner away from himself. All the natural powers within him are opposed to godliness and true holiness. All his desires proceed out of a deceitful heart, and from carnal-mindedness, which is enmity to God. Thus can the little child, weary in the conflict with Satan and with sin, lay his head upon the bosom of the Master, and say, Salvation is all of grace through the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. If our walk and deportment is marked by graces not seen in the world, or known by it, then we know the walk is by faith, and not by sight. Only those who walk by faith, are enabled to discern faith’s exercised in the pilgrims of Zion. Therefore if we go searching for the christian walk, we will be sure not to find it, for if we could come upon it by searching, then it would be a walk by sight, and not by faith. For the work of faith is invisible, and points to things not seen. We cannot tell our brother how to walk, because we do not know ourselves how to walk. When we think we are walking circumspectly, and become a little proud of it, then are we walking on a precipice, and we are pretty sure to fall. Upon the other hand, If becoming wise in our own conceit, we attempt to point out to our brethren, the christian pathway, we will find it will prove that our advice and counsel emanates from a carnal mind, out of a fleshly heart, and that which we have presented is but a by-path, rounded up with clods of worldly wisdom, and sodded with error and darkness, unillumined with the light of divine wisdom and knowledge. He that giveth right counsel and showeth a goodly heritage in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, does it, all unconscious of any divine light in himself, speaking the words of truth and soberness out of a broken and bleeding heart, and a meek and quiet spirit. Then faith answers to faith, “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” The Spirit of God worketh in the heart of the children of men, and is made manifest, not by what they do, but how they do it. Or rather, the manner of spirit makes itself manifest, whether of good or of evil. The spirit of truth, by an unfeigned love for the brethren. With a zeal according to knowledge, for all that pertains to the order and discipline of the church of Christ. A meek, lowly or orderly walk. A sense of unworthiness. A fear and trembling, lest he might bring reproach, or wound the tender little ones. An esteem for others, as better and mere worthy than himself. All these are invisible, save to the eye of faith, which penetrates to the source and fountain of the Spirit’s work in the heart of man. How do we know that we are walking in the path of the just? By the revelation of Jesus in us, as our hope and sure foundation. We see Jesus as the end of the law for righteousness, and although the desires of our flesh, and the lusts thereof, beckon us to the world and its vanities, yet by reason of grace, we turn from them. Because in us is the principle of the law of life in Christ Jesus, which, as a still small voice, points us to Jesus, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” The apostle asserted his knowledge that he was in the way, by saying, “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” This is an evidence, and our hope is based upon “the evidence of things not seen,” which is our faith. Carnal reason cannot enter into the exercise of faith, but it is made subject to the law of faith, and is exposed by the light of faith. Again, we know that we are in the way of life everlasting, when we realize a like precious experience with those whom we know to be meek and lowly followers of the Lamb of God. We travel together in the same afflictions, having the same doubts and the same fears, being alienated from the same desires of the flesh under the power of darkness, in which we had our conversations in the times past, consuming our time upon our lusts, therefore entangled in the yoke of bondage. Now we walk together, because we agree one with another. Having the same mind, and our affection set upon things above, and not on things of the earth. Seeing the light of life and the walk by faith in our brethren, our whole heart’s desire is, that we should be like them. We want to have an eye single to God’s glory. We long for the things to be found only in the Father’s house. On the husks of worldly wisdom and carnal pleasures we cannot subsist. We hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God, and yearn for true holiness. These also are evidences encouraging us to go “on seeking that country to which our faith directs us. The christian walk is not one that any natural man could desire. No man has ever attained unto it by any voluntary exercise of his natural will. Many, like the proud pharisee, start out to accomplish what they think the christian walk is, with great noise and clatter, to be seen of men, by which they proclaim a do and live system, and are well satisfied with themselves; but they have no fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. The walk of the Lord’s people is neither a pretense nor an effort. But the whole life of the subject of it, is absorbed and swallowed up in the fear of God, which is the hatred of evil. It is a life of shrinking and trembling, and a walking softly, rather than a bold effrontery of vanity in the puffing up of the flesh, by exhibiting the mighty powers of man to save himself. The man must be born again, “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” by which he becomes a little child, knowing nothing, “Save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” As the natural child begins to act and to grow, from its birth, so also the child of grace. It enters the christian walk at the very mement it is born into the kingdom of Christ. Is the natural child conscious of its growth? Does it act voluntary according to its will or reason! Is it not impelled by a power which completely controls it, hunger, pain and the natural results of the life into which it is born! This is typical of the children of God. The first thing they do is to cry. For the new life (the life of Christ) is the light of men; which light reveals the knowledge of sin, and the disastrous consequences which follow in its train. To the newly opened eyes, a new world is revealed, presenting the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, in the salvation of poor, fallen sinners. Untaught by men the child enters upon the christian travel, and continues therein through many vicissitudes and conflicts with the enemy, but nurtured and sustained by the grace of God, in the precepts of the gospel of Christ, which is, “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” His heart abounds in the sweetness of the service, made willing by the love of God shed abroad in the heart. Then, in sweet fellowship, is echoed the experience of the apostle when he says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and builded up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
B. F. COULTER
Philadelphia, Pa., Nov, 15, 1897.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 65., No.24.
DECEMBER 15, 1897.