Lebanon, Ohio, Feb. 8, 1903.
DEAR SISTER CROSS: – Yesterday afternoon and this morning we held meetings in the large, old brick church-house, with small attendance, mostly sisters, as the church is it “little flock,” yet it is their Father’s good pleasure to give his kingdom to the little flock of the good Shepherd, who laid down his precious life for the sheep. Is it any Wonder, then, the good pleasure of his loving Father to give them the kingdom, since his Son loved them, and gave himself for them? No, but the wonder would be if it were not his good pleasure to thus freely give them all things with his Son. This remark leads me to tell you of the subjects spoken upon yesterday. I read Romans v., then spoke on verses 8, 9, 10. The subject was specially the love of God to his people, commended toward them in the death of Christ, while they were yet in their sins. It was shown that for the everlasting Father, whose love for his darling and only Son was infinite, to sacrifice his lovely Lamb for ungodly and unloving sinners, was the hardest and most difficult part in all the wonderful work and way of salvation, and that if anything had been too hard for the Lord, or impossible with God, this would have been the one impossibility. With men it is impossible, for no loving parent could sacrifice a well beloved son for his enemies. God could far easier have sacrificed the whole universe, all worlds and men and angels, and have created other worlds and peopled them, but that would never have taken away our sins, nor reconciled us to God, nor saved us from the curse of the law and from death. Christ, his anointed, spotless, guileless and loving Son, must die. He did die, not because his holy Father was displeased in him; O no, but because “God is love,” and loved his sinful and perishing people, even as he loved his darling Son. Therefore, God the Father, in his infinite and changeless perfections, verily foreordained his altogether lovely and holy child Jesus before the foundation of the world, or the creation of his people in Adam, their earthly head and life, that in the fullness of time he should be manifested in the flesh, the near kinsman and very brother of all his people, and as their atoning High Priest unto God offer up himself in sacrifice as the spotless Lamb of God, and by the infinite price of his own precious blood, his holy life in the flesh, redeem unto God all the countless people of the Father’s love. God’s love was sufficient in its infinite omnipotence to make this sacrifice; and his unresisting, suffering and obedient Son, meekly went forth as a lamb to the slaughter, even hearing his own cross, because he loved his Father and his people, and delighted to do the will of God. O amazing love that could make this sacrifice! It surpasses angelic and finite thought. None but God could do this, and he only because he is infinite in love and omnipotent in power, as also changeless and eternal in his all-comprehensive purpose. O is it not most surprising and wonderful to contemplate? Pau1 shows what this infinite gift and sacrifice and commendation of the Father’s love has accomplished and secures to all for whom Christ died, in the strong words of his overcoming faith in God and Christ, saying, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Being freely justified by his blood and his grace, there is no foe or power that can ever condemn the covenant people of God’s everlasting The tenth verse amplifies and glorifies this prime truth in the gospel of salvation, saying, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” How very plain and simple, so that the. babes in the Father’s kingdom can see it and rejoice in it, yet how divinely wonderful, challenging the highest praise of prophets and apostles, saints and angels. Atoned for, redeemed, justified by his blood, salvation is ours, salvation from the law and its curse and wrath, salvation full and free and forever. Yea, the death of the redeeming Son of God slew all the power of all the foes of God, made peace by the blood of his cross, and is so infinite in its merit and power that it overcomes and removes the enmity of all his redeemed, conquers and reconciles them unto God as his dear and loving children by the invincible and resistless power of his all-conquering love in their hearts. This done, they now cry, Abba, Father, and in heart and spirit say, “Thy will be done.” Reconciliation, then, is the evidence and assurance of our personal salvation, salvation from sin and guilt, weakness and ungodliness, enmity and death, salvation now, henceforth and forever, full and personal salvation. “We shall be saved by his life.” We ourselves shall be saved. This is all we need, all we desire, all we can receive. This, all this, began in death, but ends in life. Strange, is it not? We must die in order to live. Atonement or reconciliation to God by death, salvation unto him by life, by the life of his Son. The world does not understand it, cannot believe nor receive it. The reason is, it discredits and repudiates their works, for they hold that our works must come in and obtain, somewhere in our salvation, and it will never do to ignore the value and merit of good works in our salvation. Baptists even are carried away with this way that seemeth right unto man, and insist upon it, to the extent of confusion and division among themselves, that certainly salvation is conditional, in some sort or part, and does depend upon our works of obedience. But all this is the doctrine and way of the world, for the way of God’s love is the death and the life of Christ. For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.
To-day, after reading the first chapter of Philippians, the sixth verse was spoken upon with the ability that the Lord gave me. It was first shown that the confidence of Paul, which amounted to divine fullness and assurance, was not in himself, nor in the church, to whom he wrote, but in the faithfulness and immutability and omnipotent power of God, who had begun the good work of righteousness and salvation in them, working in them their repentance and faith,love and obedience, making them perfect in Christ Jesus, and making them sweetly willing and obedient in the day of their Lord’s power. it was shown that the life of Jesus is made manifest in their mortal bodies and flesh, that they are made to die with Christ unto sin, and also to live with him unto righteousness and unto God. Special attention was called to the clear and strong truth of the text, that God is good, and to the words of his Son, “None is good, save one, that is God;” that he himself by his Spirit and reigning grace not only begins the good work of salvation in his people, but he carries it on, performs it, and will finish it. It was shown that the Lord’s work alone is a perfect work, but that all our works are very imperfect and faulty, that sin and fleshly infirmity is mixed with all we do, and’ that the eminent gospel prophet Isaiah confessed that we are all as an unclean thing, and that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Some of the many objections to the truth of the text that our entire righteousness and salvation, with all goodness and good works in the saved, are the good Work of God performed in us, were spoken of, such as that this doctrine means an unwilling and arbitrary power on our part, in which we are but indifferent and idle spectators, as passive as stones, or as lifeless ma chines, having no heartfelt desire for righteousness, no sweet emotion of love toward God, no springing in our souls of faith and hope in Christ, no mourning over our sins and sinful weakness, no hungering and thirsting after righteousness and no panting after the true and living God, as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks. So far from these stale objections against the sovereign power and grace of God in all the work and way of salvation, as he begins his good work and performs it in his people, being the true tendency and effect of this perfect work of the Lord in his saints, it was shown that the very opposite is the blessed truth, for when the Lord begins his good work of salvation from their sins in his redeemed, quickened and newborn people, then carries it on and performs it in them, they are made to realize and deeply feel its power, and all their quickened powers are actively enlisted and fervently engaged in the mighty work that is going on in them, until they are most willingly brought into the perfect obedience and finished righteousness of Christ, who of God is made unto them wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and they are made the righteousness of God in his Son. Texts were given in confirmation of the doctrine of the text, which shows that we work out, or manifest our salvation, for the grand and sufficient underlying cause, that it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure; that we give thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet, or prepared us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; that all this good work of God in his saints is unto the end that they should show forth the praise of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Paul’s strong words were quoted, giving his reason for saying, “Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” The experience of salvation by his grace was mentioned, showing that when the Lord begins and performs his good work in us, his life and light in us reveal in and to us our sins and all the latent or hidden evils of our lives in the flesh, so that there rises up in our hearts an irrepressible godly sorrow for sin, which worketh repentance unto salvation, therefore we were led to turn unto the Lord our God, and call upon him to be merciful to us sinners. We then lost confidence in the flesh, and in self-loathing turned away from all our own works to the perfect work of the Lord. So all goodness in us, and good works done by us, are those heavenly fruits of the Spirit of God wrought in us by himself. No other work is good. The blessed consummation of this good work of God was touched upon, and the day of the full revelation of Jesus Christ, when he shall come in his glory, and bring all his saints with him. It was shown that he hath chosen his people in the furnace of affliction, in which heated furnace he will refine and purify them as the burnished gold, and so in the fiery trials of the Lord’s servant Job, which were not for his destruction, but for his salvation, and that of God, his faith in God moved him to say, “When he hath tried me, 1 shall come forth as gold.” So the fires of God’s holiness shall burn up and consume all the alloy and dross of his people, all their own works, which are not good, for he will perform his good work in them until the day of the Lord Jesus in the full revelation of his life and righteousness in us, in the power and glory of his resurrection, when we shall be perfectly conformed to his heavenly image, unto which God hath predestinated all his chosen and blessed people, and they shall be like his glorified Son, and shall appear with him in glory. Unto this end Paul prayed, saying, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
Pardon me, dear sister, for writing all this. As the subject was dwelling in my mind, and knowing your situation at your home, with our dear brother Secor upon the bed of bodily suffering and languishing, while dear brother Gross and yourself are anxiously nursing him, it occurred to me that these views, though feebly set forth, of the love of God, and his good work in his dear dying Son, and in all his people whom he loved and chose and blessed in his Son, might be made a little comfort to you three in your present trial and affliction.
Your sad, yet comforting, letter came yesterday, and we were thankful to hear, thankful especially that our suffering brother is so reconciled and peaceful in Christ Jesus, his resurrection and his life. God hath given him this perfect peace. It is the life of Christ made manifest in his mortal flesh; yea, the Lord’s sufficient grace, and his strength made perfect in our languishing brother’s weakness. Yes, it is true, “Jesus can make a dying bed feel soft as downy pillows are.” We tenderly sympathize with you all, dear friends and kindred, yet feeling that you are all blessed, because of the presence and power and love of the Lord with you, who is conforming you to the image of his dear Son, who himself was made perfect through suffering. The close of the chapter in which the text was to-day says, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” How good and blessed are both of these: to believe on him, and to suffer for his sake. So be comforted in all your tribulations. O may it be the good pleasure of the Father to restore brother Secor, that he may still help you all who through grace have believed in Jesus, yet let us meekly accept the touching words of our precious Elder Brother, in the fearful night of his deepest anguish, when he knew that his sorrow was unto death, saying, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” The Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, abide with you all. Farewell.
Our love not only to your own household, but also to all the church and friends of Jesus, who meet with you, and with whom we met. Next Sunday will be your meeting again, the second one since we were with you. How time speeds away. May it be to you all a good meeting. If the Lord is present with you it will be. We shall be anxious to hear soon again, if you can write. As ever, your poor and most unworthy brother, saved by the Lord,
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 20
October 14, 1914