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“IT DOTH NOT YET APPEAR”

BELOVED IN THE LORD:

The Shepherd of Israel still loves and cares for his ransomed flock. I am comforted in believing that none shall pluck them out of his hand; and thus I have hope that he will not yield even me up a prey to sin and Satan. But to the end He will lead me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. And as I review the past, I believe that when I am faint and weary, and sick, and ready to die by the wayside, he will not despise me, pass me by, and leave me to perish in my infirmities, but he will, take me to his bosom, and carry me upon his shoulders, and with his own sweet mercy he will nurse me to health again. “He restoreth my soul.” There is no power, no one but the Lord our Shepherd that can quicken and revive our drooping souls. I have not written to you for some time, but I call to remembrance how sweet your last letter was, and I read it again and again, it was so good and comforting. There is something so above and beyond all other things in the fellowship and communion of the children of God. It is another world, another country, another life, than that which is merely in the flesh. Two lives we live: One the natural life which we have in common with all our fellow creatures, and the other a life which only the elect of God know. Multitudes lay claim to being the favored ones of God, to be Christians, the children of God, but as soon as they open their mouths upon the subject of religion, we feel to be ill at ease, that we are in the presence of strangers, and the more persistent they are in their religious talk to impress upon us that they are believers, our brethren, the more we feel that we are unknown, unrelated, and of no kin to one another. What a difference there is when we meet a quickened sinner, a humble believer in Jesus. We speak a few words to one another, we begin to relate our soul’s exercises to each other, and each heart says, That is a language I understand, I have been in that place, I have traveled a little in that path, I have had glimpses of that scene. O, that one whom my friend says is all his hope, Christ the Lord, the lovely Savior, surely I have seen his dear face, and he it is whom my heart yearns after. He has taken captive poor me, and I cannot live, and cannot, die without him. As we hear another speaking of the excellencies of Jesus, and of his hope in him, my poor heart that has mourned his absence is sometimes ready to burst with love-sickness, and exclaim, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him I am sick of love.” How sweet to my soul is communion with saints. I have been saying of late to myself, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God bath prepared for them that love him.” Look abroad throughout the world: sin and folly are rampant; the whole world lieth in wickedness. This may be disguised, glossed over, and covered up as with a garment, yet the child of God cannot always remain deceived. All mankind are but dust, corrupt, perishing, dying; there is none abiding; this earth is a vast sepulcher. Earth’s joys are transient, they have no endurance, they are suspended, they fade, they end, and bereaved of them the child of God learns that all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Surely this world, and our natural life therein, is not our abode. Its dying pleasures, its cares, pain and sickness, bereavements, losses and crosses, admonish us that this is not our rest, it is polluted. We are but strangers and pilgrims; we desire “a better country, that is an heavenly” (Heb. 1116). “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Now we have sorrows; the world, our flesh and the devil annoy us, and make our life sometimes dreary indeed. The ensnaring vanities of time allure us, by their deceitful baits, into traps and pitfalls, and were it not for the tender mercy of the Lord, we should utterly perish in the vanities of the flesh. Now, the enemy of our souls puts on a bold face, and sneers at our spiritual mindedness, and challenges us, when cast down and. broken in spirit, to produce the proofs of our being the beloved Sons of God. Often we are wounded by our own fleshly vanities, and by Satan’s malicious thrusts. At times everything seems to be against us, and our God himself it would seem, no more pities us, and in our infirmity we are ready to cry, “Lord, why casteth thou off my soul! why bidest thou thy face from me?” (Psalm 88:1.4). Sometimes the heavens over us are brass; we are thrust down, we are nothing. In regard to spiritual things I wander in desolate places, as a beggar, friendless, houseless, naked and hungry, and no one cares for my soul. How could they, even if it were in their power, such a worthless worm as I know I am? “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Now perplexities, sickness and pain, bring the wrinkles upon our features, and the grey hairs upon our heads; the outward man perishes, and the worms shall soon feed upon our mortal bodies, and still, as I have contemplated all this, I cry, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Sometimes in a mournful strain I have repeated these words to myself, and then again amidst a succession of scenes that have passed through my mind, hope has sprung up, my heart has warmed, I have looked out of obscurity and out of darkness, and in the voice of hope, in the foretaste of victory, my heart has sung the words, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Our beloved Christ journeyed through the world as a prince in disguise. The world knew him not, so the sons of God are unknown to the carnal world. It cannot see they are of God, his dear children, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. “As unknown, and yet well known,” unto the Lord. Now, while in the world, the saints are plagued with sin and sorrows, trials, sickness, pain, and death terminates their earthly career. We cannot see that such are the sons of God. Look ever so intently upon them with our mortal sight, and we cannot see that they are heirs of God, kings and priests, to reign with Christ in eternal glory. The true believer in Jesus is despised and hated by the world, and they are often accounted the off-scouring of all things unto this day. Contemplate them, and it will be seen that God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”

In the recent removal from our midst of some of our dear kindred in Christ, we have witnessed the truth of the word, “We do all fade as a leaf.” We have looked upon them in their coffins, our eyes have looked upon the mortal tabernacle, and I have said again to myself, “It doth nor yet appear what we shall be.” They have been carried to glory; their souls are with Christ, before the throne. Their bodies await the resurrection at the last clay. O, it will be “a better resurrection.” Our God shall build again, re-erect and raise again the bodies of all his dear children. No more a mortal body, a natural body, no more weakness, no more dishonor, no more corruption. “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible” (l Cor. 15:52). O, it is very infidelity to he quibbling, questioning, and presenting what men in the vanity of their earthly minds conceive as the incredible, to be denying that the mortal bodies of the children of God shall rise again at the last day. They shall be raised spiritual, immortal, incorruptible, in power and glory, changed, that they may he fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Phil. 3:21). The resurrection of them that are Christ’s (I Cor. 15:23), is the crowning act, the actual accomplishment, the consummation of the regeneration of the chosen in Christ Jesus, the church, which, is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. But in what I am now presenting, it is as it were a lifting of the vail, and getting a glimpse of what we shall be. To see what we shall be, we have need of keener sight than the eye of the vulture. What eyes were they which Abraham had to look through ages to come, and to see Christ’s day, and to rejoice therein? With eyes of faith the believer is favored as Moses, to see him who is invisible. We look with eyes of faith upon the things that are unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). When the eyes of our spiritual understanding are enlightened, we have such sight to see beyond all that the mortal eye can see, even though it takes to its aid the telescope of all the wisdom of this world. O, dear, humble believer in Jesus, “Blessed are your eyes that see,” that penetrate beyond the scenes of time, that pierce the mist and shadows of mortality. “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.” O, when our blessed Redeemer was received up into glory, he left not his body in the tomb. The Word made flesh, when he ascended and passed into the heaven’s, did not divest himself of his manhood. Glory to God, no. Our beloved Intercessor, our Mediator, who now within the vail appears in the presence of God for us, is David’s Lord, and David’s Son. Our manhood is in heaven, in eternal glory, and glorified in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” O blessed “afterward.” There is hope. O my soul, did the body of Jesus rest in hope? Then my flesh shall rest in hope. The bodies of all the elect, of all the church, of all that are Christ’s, shall be raised from the dead, harvested to glory. “Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Infidelity may deny all things recorded in the Scriptures, but not on the day that Jesus was taken up (Acts 1:2, 9-10). Let infidelity traverse every inch of the earth, let it drain the Mediterranean Sea, and it shall not find the body of Jesus. The Word, the Son of God, cast not his manhood away; it perished not as he ascended far above all heavens. Our precious Christ who suffered, bled and died, and thus descended, is the same that ascended (Ephes. 4:10). Then in eternity will the glorious body, the manhood of Christ, be the only manhood in heaven? Will he only, the Word made flesh, who “verily” (not in pretense) took on him the seed of Abraham, be found in eternal glory with his resurrected, glorious body? O no. Faith in our heart says, “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” In the resurrection it is “Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” When life’s journey is ended, then the better country, that is the heavenly, will be our abode. The climate is good. No sickness, pain or death, shall ever invade the realms of bliss. It is the home of the glorified church of Christ. We shall see him as he is, the King in his beauty, and we shall be like him. The psalmist long ago exclaimed, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall, be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness.” And then in the palace of our God we shall dwell forever and ever. By faith we receive the revelation of God, and believe that in the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, that our salvation and ultimate glorification was perfect. Again, by faith we look to the crucifixion of the Son of God, to his descending in sufferings unto death, and his rising again from the dead, and by faith, as we look to Jesus, we say all is perfect in Christ. He is our salvation, and by faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, we embrace and rejoice in the precious words of Jesus, who says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Christ Jesus, our glorious Head, has died; he could not be holden by the sorrows of death; he saw no corruption, but his dear body in the predestined time, the third day, rose again. He attained unto the resurrection, the first-fruits of them that slept. But, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” Even our beloved brother Paul tells us he was not already perfect, that he had not yet attained unto the resurrection of the dead, but it was his hope and blissful anticipation (Phil. 3:9-14). It doth not yet appear that mortality is swallowed up of life. Our mortal bodies shall be quickened. This mortal hath not yet put on immortality, but God hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, that is, that immortality might be swallowed up of life. We have not attained unto immortality and incorruption, for our body, which is Christ’s, which he bought with a price, is now mortal and corruptible, but O blissful hope of resurrection, we shall attain, for Jesus is our Head, he has died, he rose again, he is our salvation, he hath ransomed us from death, and the power of the grave, and God hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor. 5:5). Now we have the earnest; this is our consoling experience, our hope, the assurance of salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. We are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Now, our God hath given us the earnest, the foretaste by faith, that mortality shall be swallowed up of life, for the earnest of the Spirit, in our hearts is the assurance that this mortal body shall put on immortality. “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). “Shall also.” Therefore we shall attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:12). To this we hope to come (Acts 26:7). Our mortal bodies shall be quickened by his Spirit that dwelleth in us. They shall put on immortality and incorruption. God hath wrought us for the selfsame thing. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life. Having therefore the earnest in our hearts, we can sing, as we press toward this mark of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

FREDERICK W. KEENE,
North Berwick, Maine

SIGNS OF THE TIMES,
Volume 66, No. 23,
December 1, 1898