North Berwick, Maine, Dec. 14, 1901.
Mrs. Sarah E. Runkle – Dear Sister In Christ Jesus: – I received your kind letter and felt it was comforting to my soul. I have been for some days in such a disturbed state of mind, sinful, cast down, my God so far off, or rather I have wandered so far away from him, no communion between us, my prayers only formal, I could not pray. When I read yours, and two other letters received at the same time, I thought, Can it be that the children of God should write to me, a miserable, worthless worm? O how my soul was humbled, how ashamed I felt, how degraded I felt to be in my own eyes. Then I began to feel my heart moved toward the children of God, and I said in myself, They are dear to me. In contrition of soul I bowed before the holy One of Israel, and my heart in its mingled sorrow and comfort was saying, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm ciii. 10-12.
Those who esteem themselves little sinners, need little mercy, or none at all. But the called of God to whom the Holy Spirit discovers the leprosy within, whose eyes are opened to see that they are all “as an unclean thing,” need that abundance of mercy which is shed upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus iii. 5, 6). What can remove the mountains of our guilt but the rich mercy of the Lord that flows unto us poor sinners through the precious blood of the Lamb? It is Jesus’ blood that overwhelms and purges away all our pollutions, and brings us nigh to God. O, dear sister, how dear is our Savior! A little while ago I was as an outcast estranged from the Lord, a wretched wanderer, but when Jesus was discovered anew to my soul my faith and affections were drawn forth unto him again, to him I cling, and through him I have access into this grace wherein my soul is comforted and is saying, “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” “He will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah lv. 7. This is the God that I need, and it is so wonderful, so precious, it is joy unspeakable for such a sinner like me to be experimentally made nigh by the blood of Christ. Truly my faith is in Jesus’ blood, my poor, tempted, sin-troubled soul yearneth, and reacheth after the sin-atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. And why, I ask, this yearning after, this clinging to the obedience, suffering and blood of the Incarnate Word f It is because I am the chief of sinners, my iniquities are my grief, I loathe them, I long to be released from them. O yes, I long to be pure, faultless, holy, unblamable in the sight of God; I would be holy even as God is holy; my soul aspires to dwell forever with the Lord, to see our Redeemer face to face, to be conformed to his image, to love and to adore him throughout eternity. What can purge away my uncleanness, and make me whiter than snow before the throne of God? “Not the labors of my hands.” Only Jesus’ precious blood. This fountain, I hope, is opened to me, and in faith and love I wash my robes and make them clean in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. vii. 14.) The garments I wear, my outward and my inward life, my walk in the world, my life in my family, my preaching, my writings, my prayers and my praises all need to be washed in Jesus’ blood.
Our faith, dear sister, looks up to heaven, unto Jesus who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. Here our Redeemer reigns, our King and merciful High Priest. It is very precious by faith to see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor. And as he vanquished sin and death and the grave so we shall triumph too. Now, we are in the realms of conflict, and tribulation is our portion, but our hope reaches beyond this world, this natural life, to heaven, where Christ has gone, to the realms of holiness and incorruption, to be like our Savior and dwell for evermore with him in glory.
“No more shall the wicked our comforts annoy,
Nor conscience from guilt feel a wound;
No tree of temptation, our peace to destroy,
Shall in the blest region he found.
No passions unholy, our bosoms shall move,
To taint the fair mansions with strife;
Our Shepherd shall feed us on pastures of love,
And lead us to fountains of life.
Anticipate heaven, it will sweeten those hoars
When sorrows all round you appear,
Will strew all the road to Mount Sion with flowers,
And smooth the rough pathway of care.”
How often the Lord in his sovereign grace gives to me, a poor, tried sinner, sweet consolations in Christ; I am sustained amidst the temptations of life’s journey to live by faith upon the hope set before us in the gospel. O there is an incorruptible inheritance laid up for believers in heaven. Oar temporal substance may be small, but earthly gain is not godliness. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” We may be accounted the poor of this world, but having Christ we are rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him. Though we possessed all the treasures of earth, what of it? It perishes with the using, it corrupts, thieves break through and steal it, its lustre dims, its beauty fades, all is marred by the ravages of time; to-day it flourishes, but it is soon withered, the flower thereof falleth, the grace of the fashion of it perisheth, it fades away, tomorrow it is not. But O what an inheritance we have in oneness with our Lord Jesus Christ, being predestinated thereunto according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. In him we have obtained an inheritance of eternal life, of holiness and immortal comeliness; we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. Ah, dear sister, we easily learn that even we ourselves are corruptible, we fade as a leaf, our bodies are mortal and return to the dust, but we hope to attain “a better resurrection.” (Heb. xi. 55.) Our mortal bodies shall be quickened by the Spirit of Christ and raised again at the last day. (Rom. viii. 11; John vi. 44.) These mortal bodies of ours shall put on immortality, and in our re-created, incorruptible bodies, raised in power and glory, fashioned like unto the once crucified, but now risen, ascended and glorified body, Christ, the Head of the church. O yes, in heaven we have a better and enduring substance than all beneath the skies, a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory.
This divine and glorious hope calls for gratitude to him who hath wrought us for this selfsame thing, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit. (2 Cor. v. 5.)
O that I could praise him, and in all things honor him in my life and conversation, but I come very far short of this; I am a failure.
I shall be glad to receive a few lines from you again before long. I am, I hope, your brother in hope of eternal life,
FRED. W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1902.