(Written by Elder Frederick W. Keene.)
The Maine Old School Baptist Conference, assembled with the church at North Berwick, York County, Maine, September 4th, 5th and 6th, 1914, to the churches composing the association to which we correspond.
BELOVED BRETHREN IN THE LORD: – We wish you all joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. The nations of Europe are engaged in war. Who that gives this matter any thought but must be appalled at its dreadfulness, its horrors, the untold miseries visited upon these proud nations. The Lord God onmipotent reigneth, and not without cause are the nations thus being chastened by the Almighty. What the end will be is only known and will only be determined by Jehovah our God. He gives unto the saints the power to say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof rear and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” O beloved brethren, how pleasant it is to turn from all this madness, cruelty and bloodshed among the nations to consider him who is the Prince of Peace, (Isaiah ix. 6,) to contemplate his kingdom, which is not of this world, where we shall see the officers to be peace and the exactors righteousness; for the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. When the Prince was made flesh and came forth of the womb of the virgin Mary, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, and a multitude of the heavenly host were found praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Jesus was seen of angels. (1 Tim. ii. 16.) As sinners of Adams race the way of peace we know not; we are at war with God, not subject to his law; man’s carnal mind is enmity against God. We are alienated from the life of God, strangers, enemies to God by wicked works. Such is the condition of all mankind by nature, and we are children of wrath, under the curse of God in his law, which we have transgressed. But this is the language of the gospel of peace: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” O what a subject we are now launched upon in this revelation of Christ Jesus. All this was in the eternal purpose which God the Father purposed in him, for the testimony of the gospel is that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing their trespasses unto them. God in the everlasting covenant of peace laid our iniquities upon our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the covenant Head and Husband and Savior of his people. He was “set up from everlasting,” “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” – Micah v. 2. Surely all these purposes and transactions of the Lord are in everlasting love, in the exceeding riches of his grace. It is so pleasant to the soul to trace the source of all that Christ is unto his people, and to behold it all proceeding from the counsel of Jehovah’s will, in his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. (2 Tim. i. 9.)
“A monument of grace,
A sinner saved by blood,
The streams of love I trace
Up to their fountain God,
And in his sacred bosom see
Eternal Thoughts of love to me.”
And if we are partakers of the benefit of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, and are reconciled unto God by his blood, what favored sinners we are, how blessed, what gratitude we owe to the God of our salvation! If then all mankind by nature are enemies of God, what can such vile transgressors do to bring about peace between them and the Almighty Holy One who inhabiteth eternity? We all must have been forever doomed to eternal separation from God under the curse of the law. But thus the glorious gospel speaks: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” “Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come.” “The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven; and you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight. “Who can contemplate a more blessed and gloriously exalted portion than this for a vile transgressor? and all of it wrought for us and in us in the kindness and love of God our Savior. Jesus shall save his people from their sins, and in everlasting love God laid our sins on Christ, the Surety of the new covenant, and the dear Lamb of God gave himself for us an offering, and a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor; his sacred, precious blood hath redeemed us from all iniquity, from the curse of the law and unto our God.
“Dear, dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved, to sin no more.”
Our peace with God flows from the triumphs of our Emmanuel, and it was through his unparalleled sufferings, by the shedding of his blood, that he was victorious. In his cross he triumphed over principalities and powers; he conquered sin and Satan, death and hell; he died for our offences and rose again for our justification. He magnified the law and made it honorable; he hath ransomed, with his own blood, his people from the power of the grave, and redeemed them from death, and he ascended to glory; yes, he has entered into heaven itself, with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. O so comforting it is for poor sinners, by faith, wrought in them by the Holy Ghost, to see Jesus, the Captain of their salvation, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. What Christ has done for his people to make reconciliation for their sins, they are so led that they feel they have need to have this declared in their hearts by the Spirit of truth, that hope and assurance may be theirs that they are justified by Christ’s blood and have peace with God through him. For we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we receive the atonement. A poor, guilty, perishing sinner can have no joy in God, only through Jesus and his precious atoning sacrifice. Therefore in calling his elect unto the fellowship of Jesus Christ they are taught of their God, and thus they come to me, saith Jesus. (John vi. 45.) All thy children, O Zion, shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children. This divine instruction convinces them of sin, shows them their lost estate, and moves them to seek mercy and reconciliation of God, their Creator. They learn that it is beyond all their endeavors to make their peace with God. With men this is impossible. But the eternal God in his everlasting love was in Christ reconciling his chosen people unto himself, and we have already traced this reconciliation which was wrought for them by the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. By the operations of God’s grace our enmity is subdued, and we are inclined to seek the face of the Lord. He teaches us that we are wretched transgressors; he puts his Spirit within us and gives us a heart to know him. O, then we yearn to know him, to know him as our God, our sin-pardoning God; and sin-afflicted, law-condemned, self-condemned, broken and contrite in heart, we cry, God, he merciful to me, a sinner. The glad tidings of peace with God can only he preached in the name of Jesus Christ; he is Lord of all; and it is the grace of God alone that brings, that guides the feet of poor sinners in the way of peace. (Luke ii. 79.) The Holy Spirit brought us, dear brethren, to Christ crucified, and there our sin-burdened hearts were instructed that the chastisement of our peace was upon him. Jesus made peace by the blood of his cross, and our hearts believed in him; we received the atonement. This is sacredly experimental, for the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, so takes of the things of Christ and assures us that for us Jesus died, and by his gracious, mighty power working in us we believe in Jesus with all the heart. In these sacred moments there is no part of our heart for any one else, or anything to reconcile us unto God.
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling.”
All our trust is in the dear Lamb of God, in him we have the knowledge of salvation by the remission of our sins. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. O sweet tranquility, blessed peace in the conscience, there is no condemnation to them which are in him. The terrors of law and of God with us can have nothing to do, our Savior’s obedience and blood. hide all our transgressions from view. All accusations are hushed, they are overcome by the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. xii. 11.) The blood of Christ speaks (Heb. xii. 24,) our pardon, justification and redemption, and we have peace with God. Dear brethren, we have tasted this blessedness, and how often it is needful for us poor sinners to taste again and again that the Lord is gracious. There are many aspects in which we are given to know Jesus as the Prince of Peace, for as we journey to the better country there are times of turmoil, conflicts are encountered; there are invasions of our pleasant land by the enemy. The children of Zion are at times tossed with tempest and not comforted. But when the enemy shall come in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah lix. 19.) For it is written, “And this man [the Prince of Peace, Christ the Lord] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land; and when he shall tread in our palaces.” – Micah v. 5. The Lord our God will in due time appear to the help of his afflicted ones. He will turn back the flood, the proud waves shall he stayed, the vile intruders shall be cast out and banished from our palaces, for Jesus’ standard is lifted up, and upon it is inscribed, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, I have redeemed thee, thou art mine. The Lion of the tribe of Judah prevails in our behalf to put to flight all the enemies of our souls. Our sins, our iniquities, the gates of hell, our fears and sorrows, are all subdued, and we are consoled and in rest when Jesus is near. He maketh peace in our borders, and fillest thee, O Zion, with the finest of wheat. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked; the way of peace they know not. But how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth. (Isaiah lii. 7.) All our hope is in the glad tidings of Christ. His felt presence in the soul, every revelation given us by the Comforter calms our fears, quells every disturbance that the world, the flesh and the devil may create, and we find that declaration so blessedly true, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on. thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” And if we are the subjects of the Prince of Peace, his indwelling Spirit will teach us to follow after peace, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Talebearers, hypocrites, teachers of errors, do not belong to the Prince of Peace, they are Christ’s enemies, and are ever hurtful among the family of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall he called the children of God.” All such have the Spirit of the Prince of Peace and walk in his laws. They are not found turning aside to crooked ways, they are not for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness, they are not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but they walk, and are constantly seeking grace to walk humbly with their God; they seek to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Blessed are the peacemakers, they walk in the truth, in wisdom’s ways, whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace; their feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. O how beautiful are thy feet with such shoes, O daughter of the God of peace, and spouse of Jesus Christ, the lovely Prince of Peace! Great peace have they that love thy law, O Christ, and nothing shall offend them.
We submit these thoughts unto you all, beloved of God, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
FREDERICK W. KEENE, Mod.
Joseph F. Hall, Clerk.
Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 19
October 1, 1914