North Berwick, Maine, Nov. 21, 1896.
ROSE M. Allen – My Dear Sister In Christ JESUS: – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” In perusing your last, I see that you are still treading in “the footsteps of the Muck.” Sometimes in pastures green, where the sweet promises are your soul’s meditation. Here comforts and blessedness abound, and we become fat and nourishing in the divine life. But we do not always dwell in such pleasant places; our Shepherd leads us into other pastures. The path to these pastures is one of temptations and trouble. Our Lord designs we shall learn some other features of the doctrine of Christ, which hitherto we have not tasted, and to prepare us to appreciate, and to eat with a relish in this new field of living green, we are minished and brought low through oppression, afflictions and sorrow. That is, our way lies through waste places, over rugged meuntains, through trials and difficulties, where the picking is scanty, and like one footsore and weary, our lagging footsteps tend toward the much longed for green pastures. O to be there! where we can eat and be satisfied, and lie down in sweet meditation upon the blessed truth of Christ’s gospel. The Lord has dealt very graciously with you; as one whom his mether comforteth, so the Lord has comforted you. (Isaiah lxvi.13.) You have nursed at the breasts of Zion’s consolations, the sincere milk of the word has nourished your soul, and you have grown thereby.
But, my beloved child, there is “strong meat” as well as “milk” in the gospel, and it will, as the Lord sees fit, be yours to feed upon it. Earthly parents do not feed their infants upon strong meat, but before the babe was able to masticate food, I have seen the affectionate muse holding a piece of juicy meat for the little one to suck. Thus the gracious God gives to babes and sucklings in Christ Jesus little tastes of the strong meat in the gospel of his grace, which in after days shall be their daily food. Children are not suckled all their days, but in due time they are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (Isaiah xxviii. 9). Weaning time is generally a trying season to the little one.
Perhaps this may be a key to unlock to you some of the trying times you are experiencing. Your heavenly Father is preparing you to feed upon strong meat, the deep things of God. When I was but a babe, I was foolish enough to think myself something mere than a babe. In the letter of the doctrine I thought myself well versed, I could talk about points of doctrine with those who loved the truth, and easily confound the opponents of the doctrine by citing proof texts sustaining this and that point of the doctrine. Many times I have silenced and put to rout the enemy; I took pleasure (fleshly pleasure, yes, I am now satisfied it was carnal) in meeting the enemies of the truth. I was eager for the fray. To-day there are those who are ready talkers about the teachings of the bible, but with all their talk, and ready reference to proof texts in the holy Scriptures, they handle the doctrine of election, predestination, and the eternal oneness of Christ and the church as if it were a toy, a plaything. I have thought, had they drank deeply of the depths of the sacred and glorious truth they would bean-feelingly and with sacred reverence speak upon such precious and soul-comforting themes. It is one thing to have in our natural understanding certain principles of the doctrine, (this, one with no experience of the grace of God may have) and altogether another thing to be led by the Holy Spirit experimentally into the truth. (John xvi. 13). Then the doctrine is our meat and our drink, our couch on which we sweetly repose, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, our stay, our support, our consolation and blessedness.
No doubt you have noticed in reading the Scriptures what a multiplicity of names and characters are employed by the Holy Spirit to make known unto us the attributes of God, and the gracious relationships that the Lord sustains unto his people. Such titles and characters in which our God is revealed are not meaningless, but such lie is to his ransomed ones. David says, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” To enter into the spiritual signification of all these relations that David speaks of, what various circumstances one must be brought into! If the Lord is our strength, then that means we have been brought into the knowledge of our weakness. Out of weakness they were made strong (Heb. xi. 34.) The Lord’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. It is while feeling his infirmity that the believer is brought to realize the power of Christ resting upon him (2 Cor. xii. 9). If the Lord is my rock, then it declares that in myself there is no stability. It is in the Lord, and supported by his grace that we are firm and steadfast. He is our sure foundation. Our precious Savior’s righteousness and blood is the rock of our heart, and our portion forever: all beside is but miry clay where we can find no standing, no rock on which to build our hope for eternity. Is the gracious Lord our fortress? then that means that we have foes in the field, and that they besiege us, but in him we are safe. He is our deliverer, yes, had he not come to our help we had been swallowed up by our sins and temptations, we had still been languishing in the prison-house, under our sins and the curse of the law. But our great Deliverer came to our relief, and in his great compassion, his own arm brought us salvation. All the characters and offices that our God fulfills are answerable to the straits and needs that we are brought into. Then whatever may be the adversities of your soul, in these trials you will prove how all-sufficient is the Lord thy God in his abounding mercies.
“In every office he sustains;
In every victory he gains;
In every counsel of his will,
He’s precious to his people still.”
All our appreciation of the dear Redeemer arises out of our needy conditions. These are the places where we learn and taste the preciousness of Christ. If, then, from time to time you are brought to feel how poor and needy you are, therein you are taught by the Holy Spirit your insufficiencies, and are led to cast yourself upon your gracious Lord as your only dependence. May the Lord continually instruct you, and keep you humbly waiting upon himself. You shall not wait in vain.
I am your brother and pastor in the gospel of Christ,
FRED. W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 65., No. 5
MARCH 1, 1897.