“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his inline, And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” – Malachi iii. 16, 17.
It was a time of affliction and desolation when these words were uttered. Iniquity abounded in the nation, and yet the outward worship of the Lord in his temple was maintained, but it was a hollow mockery; though they drew nigh unto God with their mouth, and honored him with their lips, their heart was far from him. The Lord was not deceived, for all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. The Lord by the mouth of the prophet Malachi unmasked their hypocrisies and laid bare the carnality of their reprobate worship. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Were there any such in Israel then! Yes, there was a remnant according to the election of grace, and in our text they are described: “Then they that feared the Lord.” Precious ones, in whom the Lord delighteth, the salt of the earth. Such they were then, and to-day such are God’s sacred ones. It was because of God’s intimate dealings with them that they reverenced his name; they were the workmanship of his grace; for thus the Lord speaks in the new covenant: “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” – Jer. xxxii. 40. Ah, unless the Lord himself does it his fear is not in us. All mankind are estranged from God, and there is no fear of God before their eyes. Putting his fear in our hearts is God’s own gracious, transforming work. It brings them that were alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that was in them because of the blindness of their hearts, into intimacy with the Lord their God. The fear of the Lord in the heart is vital and animating; that one becomes conscious of emotions toward the Lord; he now is moved with a sacred reverence for God, he thinks of the majesty, the justice and purity of the Lord, and in reverential trembling of soul he feels to bow before him. Ah, in a feeling sense he now knows he is a transgressor; vile, depraved, he loathes his sins, and loathes his own black self. The Lord is not now despised, unsought, unknown, but the heart of the quickened sinner with sacred awe, with entreaty, is turned unto him. Yes, as the Holy Spirit discovers more and more the attributes of God to us, the more hallowed becomes his glorious name. And O, when we are given to taste the forgiveness of our sins, when his salvation sets us free from guilt and condemnation, O then, contemplating his mighty and gracious acts in our behalf, our God becomes in very heartfelt experience our “exceeding joy,” and our heart says, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” If the fear of the Lord is in my heart will it not be a living power there! It is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death. This is the blessed God-glorifying effect of the fear of the Lord, we are turned from our iniquities. (Acts iii. 26.) The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life springing up within us, lifting us up, away from evil. Ah, when sin and Satan would drag us down and bury us in darkness and despair, the fear of the Lord is our defence, refreshing the soul and animating us with hallowed emotions toward the Holy One of Israel. Thus in all our temptations and all adversities we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” God hath set them apart unto himself. (Psalms iv. 3.) They feared the Lord, and this precious fear drew them forth, separated them from the ungodly. In the sinful and dark times, and amidst the hypocritical worship of the Most High, there was a coming together of those who feared the Lord. They sought out one another, for they were of’ kindred minds, they had the selfsame hopes and fears, and their hearts throbbed in unison in the things pertaining to God. They “spake often one to another.” This does not mean that when they met they spent their time gossiping one with another, discussing the affairs of the mere natural life. All of the world are capable of doing this. The theme of their conversation was the Lord, and their relations unto him. The prophet Daniel says, “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot! And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” – Daniel viii. 13, 14. And once two that feared the Lord walking to Emmaus talked together, and as they communed together and were sad Jesus himself drew near and went with them. (Luke xxiv. 13.)
“Mid scenes of confusion and creature complaints,
How sweet to my soul is communion with saints!”
This fellowship and communion is one of the very blessed fruits of God having wrought his fear in our hearts; it makes us fellows, companionable companions. So the beloved John declares himself, “Your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” – Rev. i. 9. It was in the midst of trying dispensations that they that feared the Lord spake often one to another. They felt they could confide in one another, they were spiritually bosom friends pouring forth to each other their sighs and fears, desires and hopes. They could not but be sad in their communion one with another when they had to witness sin so abounding in the nation. No doubt they recognized and spake one to another of the manifest chastening hand of the Lord. But how compassionate was the Lord unto them amidst all their troubles. Did he not speak by the mouths of his prophets very comforting things! Yes, the Holy Ghost moved Malachi to speak glorious, uplifting revelations. The cup of their griefs was sweetened, and their souls were animated with hope. Though at present all was dark and their heart-griefs were many, yet this is the word the Lord hath spoken: “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.” They “spake often one to another.” There was an attraction which drew them into frequent intercourse one with another; it was so congenial, soothing and profitable. The Lord had given them one heart and one way, that they might fear him forever, for the good of them and their children after them. (Jer. xxxii. 39.) How could it then be otherwise than that they should speak often one to another! Is there any such thing as this in the world now! There is indeed; but in some places where there are those who profess to fear the Lord it is hardly discoverable, and instead of sacred communion together in the things of Christ, worldly-mindedness is manifest. The apostle Paul said, “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults.” – 2 Cor. xii. 20. O what a heart-saddening picture! No wonder that the apostle shrank from beholding such a scene. It is so becoming the household of God to speak often one to another, and where there is that spiritual recognition of one another as those who have obtained like precious faith, our speech should be always with grace seasoned with salt. (Col. iv. 6.) There are words of counsel, admonition and exhortation to be spoken, there are words of sympathy, of good cheer to be said, and if I have offended my brother it is good to confess my fault to him, and if any one has transgressed against me how good it is to have a forgiving heart to speak to him words of forgiveness. O whatsoever we may find to speak one to another then in our tongue may there ever be the law of kindness, (Prov. xxxi. 21,) and all will be God-glorifying and to our mutual edification.
“And the Lord hearkened, and heard it.” This is infinite condescension. What, such a Listener to our poor, imperfect utterances one to another! Yes, the Lord hearkened. He inclines his ear unto the speech of those that fear him. O dear kindred in Christ, we ever have our holy, heavenly Listener, the Lord our God. How blessedly this gives us glimpses of his beauty. Though he is high, yet he has respect unto the lowly, he will not turn a deaf ear to beggars, (1 Sam. ii. 8,) he hears the speech of dust and ashes. (Gen. xviii. 27.) Poor, destitute soul, he will regard thy cry, he hears the groanings of the prisoner (Psalms cii. 17-20,) and the sighs of the needy. (Psalms xii. 5.) He inclined Unto me and heard my cry, saith David, and this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him. (Psalms xl. 1; xxxiv. 6.) Sometimes when we talk one to another our tongues fail to tell all that our hearts would speak, and sometimes our language is so imperfect we mistake the meaning of one another; but the Lord hearkens and knows exactly our heart’s language. It is very encouraging to needy souls that God heareth prayer, for while the children of God are pilgrims and strangers in the earth, so many are their needs, so many straits attend their journey, and so unequal in themselves are they in their conflicts with the world, the flesh and the devil, that if succor were not given them from on high they would soou perish from the way.
“A book of remembrance was written before him.” This is the most wonderful book that was ever written; it contains so much that were all the pens of mortals employed to tell its contents the half could not be told, and the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. In considering this book let us contemplate, first, the book and its contents; second, the writer of the book; third, where it was written; fourth, for whom it was written, the readers of the book; fifth, where it is read. The title of the book is of sacred significance, “a book of remembrance,” but of this I will speak further on. This book contains the records of eternity, the thoughts and acts of Jehovah, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost before the creation of the world. In it is found the revelation of the good pleasure of God in creation, providence and grace. In its pages is unfolded the everlasting covenant of grace, ordered in all things and sure. It is the book of Jehovah’s infinitely wise and glorious and immutable decrees, that embrace and determine all things in heaven and earth and hell. In this book you will find the Lamb’s book of life. Is my name written therein! All the holy Scriptures are in this book; yes, this book also embraces all those wonderful, divine, ineffaceable writings of the Spirit of the living God in the hearts of the elect. In the Scriptures we read of a book in the right hand of him that sat upon the throne, written within, and on the back side, sealed with seven seals, and the Lamb opened the book. (Rev. v. 1-10.) Also a book was opened, which is the book of life, and whosoever was not found written therein was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. xx. 12-15; Phil. iv. 3.) David speaks of his tears being in God’s book, (Psalms lvi. 8,) and saith he, “In thy book all my members were written.” – Psalms cxxxix. 16. And Jesus said, Your names are written in heaven. This, beloved ones of God, is but a bare outline regarding the book of remembrance.
The writer of the book is the Holy Ghost. Shall I speak of him as the Recorder who writes in imperishable lines the memorials of the everlasting kingdom and dominion of the Lord God Omnipotent who reigneth! Every word written in this book is such that none could pen them except the Spirit of the living God. (2 Cor. iii. 3.)
Where was this book written! It is before the throne of God, and there it was written. “A book of remembrance was written before him.” The Lord is not forgetful; he is not as that king who, in his restlessness, one night called for the book of records of the chronicles of his reign to be read before him. (Esther ii. 23; vi. 1.) The book was written before the Lord, but the Lord of hosts himself hath no need of it, it was not written for his benefit. Our God has an all-glorious and infinite sufficiency in himself; his understanding is infinite. (Psalms cxlvii. 5.) For whom then was this wonderful book written! It was “written before him for those who feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” To them it is read by the Holy Spirit, and taught of the Lord they themselves read, its living words.
The book of remembrance is written before the Lord, and only there can any one read it understandingly. It is written in the prophets, “All thy children shall be taught of God.” Now the Lord, who loves his people, and is himself their Teacher, constrains them by his divine operations to come before him to receive instruction from the book, and his gracious, pitying eyes are ever upon them as they ponder over its lines. He knows all the difficulties that they experience in spelling and pronouncing and understanding some words that are hard to be understood. (2 Peter iii. 16.) Often while we are reading we find things of deep signification, and our puzzled hearts look up inquiringly to the throne of our compassionate God, saying, What is the meaning of this! Yes, our God is very indulgent, for this is written for the encouragement of all who sit at his feet: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
The saints living in the days of the prophet Malachi read the book of remembrance and were no doubt comforted and strengthened as they pondered over the remembrances that were called forth by their perusal of the book. The Scriptures written in former times by holy men of God, the prophecies and the history of the nation of Israel read before the Lord would revive in their minds how holy, merciful and covenant-keeping was Jehovah their God. And also looking over those divine leadings, the things of the Spirit wrought in them, they would trace how wondrously mindful of them the Lord had been.
“I muse on the years that are past,
Wherein my defence thou hast proved:
Nor wilt thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved.”
Let us now come to ourselves and trace what intimacies we have had with the book of remembrance. Can you recall the time when you began to read in the book! You were before the Lord, the book was opened, you had eyes to see and a little understanding to know what was written on the page which God set before you to read. This was something new; it was the beginning with you of a new, undying life. Yes, we were before the Lord, raised up from death in trespasses and sins. (Eph. ii. 1.) In our spirit we were thus in divine life before the Lord. In times past we were without God, then our thoughts were only such as a darkened imagination could picture. To us God was a far off, dreaded being, or we conjured ideas of him that were flattering to ourselves; he was, we vainly thought, one like ourselves, one who would consider himself favored if we only would turn our thoughts unto him and worship him, and in consideration of this he would reward us on earth and give us everlasting happiness in heaven. How sacred and yet how awful was our soul’s first experience of being before the Lord, and the book was opened. We were in this quickening life before the living God. He was near, and yet how far off, separated we felt to be, by our iniquities, from him. In our spirit, in a way that we had never known before, we now knew that the Lord was holy and just and almighty, and we saw, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” Shame, guilt, condemnation was ours as our transgressions were called to our remembrance. Ah, in our consciences we were made to possess the sins of our youth, we found a power moving the emotions of our quickened souls before the Lord; we were exercised in humbleness and self-loathing, and with a contrite heart before him. To thus read our just condemnation out of the book causes us to fear and quake. God, before whom we stand, is terrible in majesty, the Holy One, a consuming fire. (Heb. xii. 21-29.) This trembling of quickened sinners is sacred, not like the trembling of devils, (James ii. 19,) for when those who are brought before him tremble at his word there is so graciously wrought in them by the Holy Ghost that humble and contrite spirit. Blessed tremblers, the eyes of God’s eternal pity are upon you while you read. (Isaiah lxvi. 2.) Some that fear the Lord are kept many days reading these sin-convincing, soul-afflicting lines in the book of remembrance, others are but a little while reading these heart-grieving remembrances. The Lord times our reading, he is the Judge, and determines when we have read long enough this and that page in the book. When he says, Thou hast read the page of thy sins and condemnation “long enough,” (Deut. i. 6,) then his own hand (not ours) turns over the page, and our eyes look with glad surprise upon a more glorious page. The ministration of condemnation declares God’s glory, but the ministration of righteousness and life far excelleth in glory. (2 Cor. iii. 7-11.) Onr first reading in the book was the law, but this page is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Here we read in glowing, animating, comforting lines the exceeding riches of God’s grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus, even that grace which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life. Exceeding glorious remembrances are in the gospel of Christ. In the crucifixion of the Son of God we read that God remembered our sins, visiting them upon our Surety, who made atonement for them and put them away by the sacrifice of himself. With the eyes of our spiritual understanding we read so comfortingly that God remembered us in our low estate, remembered us in mercy, and the more and more our eyes are enlightened, (Eph. i. 18,) and as again and again we read in the gospel, we see, and we shall continue to see, that God hath remembered us from everlasting. This is not all understood at our first reading of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Comforting glories shine forth to faith’s vision in every word of the gospel, and God in all the glory of his attributes is remembered to us in our Emmanuel’s dear face. If now, while we are absent from the Lord, while as through a glass darkly so comforting and glorious is our view of Jehovah’s glories, what must it be when faith is turned to sight! Then we shall be with him, be like him, and face to face see him as he is. (1 John iii. 2, 3; 1 Cor. xiii. 12.) The Bible is a book of remembrance given by inspiration of God; it was written before him for our comfort and learning, and only before the Lord can it be read understandingly. Heresies arise in the minds of the untaught of God. Such persons in their self-sufficiency read the Scriptures a little, it may be, but not before the Lord. It is a very blessed experience of those who are of the truth to sit down at the feet of the Lord and there receive his words. (Dent. xxxiii. 3.) But those who disseminate false doctrines are not those who sit at Jesus’ feet; they are not those whose hearts’ entreaty before the Lord is for wisdom. (James i. 5.) But stirred with false spirits that have gone forth into the world, they corrupt the word of God, (2 Cor. ii. 17,) wrest the Scriptures, (2 Peter iii. 16,) handle the word of God deceitfully, (2 Cor. iv. 2,) and in their vain imaginings with sleight, (Eph. iv. 14,) as “a dice thrower” they juggle wrested text* of the Bible, and invent such doctrines as would pervert the gospel of Christ. They receive not the love of the truth; for this cause God sends them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, (2 Thess. ii. 11,) and though they sport themselves with their own deceivings, (2 Peter ii. 13,) and are transformed as ministers of righteousness, of what profit is it? Their end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor. xi. 13-15.) What a painful picture! O dear children of God, how happy are we if we have that grace to examine ourselves whether we are in the faith. Are we ever found sitting at Jesus’ feet as little children, teachable, inquiring, reading the precious Scriptures! Though the heady and high-minded in their hearts sneer at this humble waiting upon the Lord, our safety and blessedness is in it. The apostle prayed for the saints at Ephesus; we have need of the same mercies. (Eph. i. 17-19.) Christ is the center, the heart, the Alpha and Omega of the revelation of God. Bear in mind, dear child of God, that it is not in your power to say what pages in the book you will read to-day or to-morrow. I am not meaning alone the Bible, (though we are not self-determiners what we shall read with our natural eyes in the Scriptures) but I am meaning that reading with our spiritual understanding (Col. i. 9,) the revealed things of God. Sometimes you may say, I should like to read here today, this bright and cheerful page, I should like to read just what that dear saint has been reading. I know from the past and from what has taken place this day that I am writing that I cannot select what I shall read. Early this morning some dark, bitter lines were spread before me; I looked upon them with an aching heart, all was obscurity to me, a voice in me seemed to say, Can you see the end of this, can you read the will of God in this! My eyes filled with tears, and my throbbing soul cried to the Lord, O I cannot understand this. Do you understand, dear reader, what I am writing about! Perhaps not. It is not for us to choose whether to read upon the mount of transfiguration or in Gethsemane’s garden, but our God and Father opens the book of remembrance to the page where we are to read to-day, this month, this year. Some of us are not far enough advanced to read certain parts of the deep things of God; we have to come into deep waters to read understandingly certain lines in the book; words of one syllable are all we are capable of reading just at present. Milk is the seasonable diet of those who are not of age for strong meat. Some indeed of those who fear the Lord have the eyes of their understanding so marvelously enlightened with the light of life that they read in the twinkling of an eye or in a little while what others are years in attaining unto. (See that thief upon the cross, Luke xxiii. 42.) This is all according to the good pleasure of the Lord of hosts, before whom and by whose grace alone the book of remembrance is read. It is very difficult (I find it so) to put into human speech the transactions of the Holy Ghost wrought in our souls, in his glorifying Christ, in his taking the things of our Emmanuel and shewing them unto us. We have to be brought into such manifold conditions, experiences, to prepare us to have the excellencies of Christ made known unto us. Sometimes we are much stirred up to read in God’s book. Whether it be the words of the Scriptures, or the book of our souls’ experience of divine realities, or God’s providences, we long to learn the will of God, but it is not always an easy thing to do this. We come before the Lord to read, but we are much buffeted and tormented while endeavoring to understand the good pleasure of our heavenly Father. There arise in our souls such questionings, and whisperings of unbelief. Satan is at our right hand to resist us, (Zech. iii. 1,) he would throw dust in our eyes and blear our sight. At times it is as though a very battle were being fought between the devil and our spirit that is yearning for Jesus Christ and his precious doctrine. Our souls cling, to the Lord, our face with entreaty is turned to him, we long for the book to be unsealed, and for eyes to see, to read and understand, to find food and encouragement, but even while we are praying before the throne we are assaulted with the insinuations of the adversary. What is this that you are studying so intently, child of God! You say, There is that rod, it has been cruel to me, its strokes have put me to grief; truly these chastenings are grievous, I cannot see how all things work together for good; this trial, these strokes, seem to me only for evil. Ah, dear kindred in Christ Jesus, we never can read aright our chastenings away from the Lord. It is our mercy to be driven, and to be drawn when under the rod to the throne of our God, and there to fall at his feet while our chastened souls sigh and cry before him, Tell me wherefore thou hast afflicted me. The Lord opens the book of our chastenings and little by little we begin to read. This is one of the most difficult parts to read in the book of remembrance. The Lord has written, and there is so much to read in the chastenings of his children. Our reading times are before him. The Lord of hosts, our heavenly Father, speaks: “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” – Micah vi. 9. Our ears are opened to discipline, (Job xxxvi. 10,) and the voice of the rod speaks to our hearts humbling and comforting things. Our trials are God’s covenant chastenings in faithfulness and everlasting love, and are all to bring forth unto us the peaceable fruits of righteousness. We look into some of the mysterious providences toward us, but we cannot read their signification; all is to us dense, painful obscurity, we can see nothing in our afflictions and temptations glorifying to God, and nothing of any hope or benefit to ourselves. But God is very gracious to his chastened ones, and even though we have been self-pitiful and fretful, we are, as I have intimated, both driven and drawn, in due time, to come before him, and to his chastened, grieved, wearied, fretful child God opens the book of his chastenings. The Holy Spirit pours a little divine enlightenment upon the eyes of our understanding, and we begin reading before our Father in heaven, line upon line, here a little and there a little. Here are some things that the hearts of chastened children read: “Then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” “Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.” When we read this before the Lord it is a humbling remembrance, and our bowed hearts confess that we have strayed away, and that we have been foolish indeed. (Psalms lxxiii. 22.) This also is the doctrine we read: “I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord.” – Ezek. xiv. 23. Hard, soul-abasing words, they stir up remembrances of our vain life. nere is another line to read in chastening’s book: “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” – Heb. xii. 5, 6. O what memories these words of our Father stir up; they bring us with contrite confession before him, saying, I know that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted thy wayward child. “Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” The voice of the rod is the voice of our Father in heaven, and as we ponder over our chastened pathway we at length say, “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” – Lam. iii. 19-22. And when after many times reading our chastenings before the Lord we are brought into subjection to the Father of spirits and live, and lift up our faces unto him, then we can see “Love inscribed upon them all.” O happy is that chastened child who with eyes of faith and love can see the end of the Lord, that he is very pitiful and of tender mercy. (James v. 11.)
“Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true-horn child of God
Must not, would not if he might.”
The Lord’s supper is a book of remembrance to the churches of Christ; many consoling remembrances are ours therein. “This do in remembrance of me.” – 1 Cor. xi. 24. In God’s dealings with the elect of mankind his attributes are so fully declared that heavenly beings, the holy angels in glory, contemplate with holy adoration God’s glories therein. There were cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat whose faces looked one to another; “Toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.” – Exodus xxv. 20. And, in a figure, may we not say that the church of the redeemed is the most comprehensive book that the angels in heaven read! For unto them principalities and powers in heavenly places are made known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God. (Eph. iii. 10.) “Which things the angels desire to look into.” – 1 Peter i. 12. The apostle Peter had a never to be forgotten time reading in the book of remembrance. Look at him denying Christ with oaths and curses, he did not appear to be reading just then. But the Lord Jesus turned and looked upon Peter. That look was the look of incarnate omnipotence, and drew the eyes of sinful Peter to look into the eyes of Jesus. O Emmanuel’s eyes were then a book of “remembrance indeed to Peter. He read, shall I say, volumes in a moment; he read the unfailing pity of the Son of God’ to him, an unworthy wretch; he read in Jesus’ eyes the story of injured love, and he knew that it was he himself who was the guilty, injurious one. “Peter remembered” (Luke xxii. 61,) the words of faithful warning, “Thou shalt deny me thrice,” and the words of everlasting love, “I have prayed for thee.” Surely Peter never forgot all this; throughout all eternity he will remember it. I have thought very much upon the dear children of God who lived on the earth in old testament times. As I have mused about them I have felt at home with them. Their regenerated spirits are now with Christ in heaven itself, even as the spirits of that once crucified thief, (Luke xxiii. 43,) and the martyr Stephen. (Acts vii. 59.) Some of these saints now with Christ in heaven have their regenerated bodies, too, as Enoch and Elijah. The bodies of these two did not die, they were translated that they should not see death. (Gen. v. 24; 2 Kings ii. 11; Heb. xi. 5.) God translated them from earth to heaven, he quickened their mortal bodies, be changed them in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and they put on immortality and incorruption. Thus it shall be with the resurrected bodies of the saints at the last day, and also with the saints who are alive on the earth at the time of the resurrection, and thus Enoch and Elijah are now in heaven in their regenerated, spiritual bodies, fashioned like unto the glorious body of the ascended Savior Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. xv. 51-54; Phil. iii. 20, 21.) O comforting, glorious hope! There took place in these dear saints while on earth very sacred transactions of the Holy Ghost. Ponder over the following description of it:” Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” – 1 Peter i. 10, 11. These saints were, to use our present similitude, reading the writings of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts. Are you looking at the picture! Contemplate their inquiries, their diligent searchings, their hopes and expectations, yes, even some moments were theirs of holy rapture, as by faith they looked forward and caught glimpses of and ascended with Christ into “the glory that should follow.” These saints of olden times would be very companionable, would they not!
There are many things pertaining to our reading the book of remembrance before the Lord that I cannot now enter into. Therein we read our title deeds to an inheritance incorruptible, and undeflled, and that fadeth not away, which is reserved in heaven for us. Pleasant reading! Very blessed indeed it is to read our names in the Lamb’s book of life. Sometimes we read the book of remembrance with fears and weeping, and the pages are tear-stained. Ah, sometimes we cannot read a line therein, the book to us is sealed and we cannot open it. Then it is given us by our merciful God to read in joy the covenant ordered in all things and sure, wherein we see God hath from everlasting been mindful of us, and hath predestinated us unto eternal glory by Christ Jesus. Strong consolations are given us in times of trouble while reading the book before our God, we are stayed up to endure our conflicts by the way, our hope is made to abound, and in our earnest expectations of ultimate triumph we are enabled to sing, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
“A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1908.