North Berwick, Maine, Feb. 1, 1908.
Miss Louise E. Canegaly – Dear Friend: – A stranger, but as you are friendly to my daughter Ruth, you are certainly my friend. I was a little surprised but not at all displeased to have you pen me a few lines. It is pleasant to think of the agreeableness between yourself and our daughter. You say, “It seems so good to have somebody I can talk with about heavenly things.” Talk about heavenly things! Why, that is the last thing the vast host of professors of religion talk about. They can talk about their church, their preacher, themselves and their achievements, and what they intend to accomplish for the Lord, but “heavenly things” are not their theme, because they lack the experience and knowledge of “heavenly things.” Dear friend, one must be born again to understand heavenly things. (John iii. 12.) The “heavenly kingdom “(2 Tim. iv. 18,) no one can see or enter unless born of God. It is through the riches of God’s grace that any poor sinner is a partaker of “the heavenly calling,” (Heb. iii. 1,) and then begins that true and vital experience of “heavenly things.” God gave unto his people discoveries of heavenly things long, long ago, in types and shadows, (Heb. viii. o,) and then the true regenerate people of God worshiped him in spirit and in truth through these divinely appointed patterns of things in the heavens. (Heb. ix. 23.) Take a glimpse with me of heavenly things under the old testament times, and though in types and shadows much of it is pictured to our view, yet see what gracious gospel realities are to be seen. First, there is the Israelite, a sinner; he is troubled over his iniquities, and he comes unto God. What a mercy for a poor, guilty sinner to be drawn to the Lord. (Jer. xxxi. 3.) He comes before the Lord. How! In his self-righteousness! with the works of his own hands! with good resolutions and fair promises that he will henceforth be better, live a religious life, say his prayers, read the Scriptures, join a church and work for the Lord, &c.! No; one that was a true Israelite comes unto God in God’s revealed way. God taught and moved Abel, and he, a poor sinner, by faith offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. (Heb. xi. 4.) The true worshiper seeks access-unto God by sacrifice. (Psalms 1. 5.) He came with a lamb without blemish and without spot. Dear friend, be not deceived, no matter what any one may say, there is only one way, one hope by which a sinner can draw nigh unto God. (Heb. vii. 19.) It is very blessed to have peace with God, and to stand in justification of life (Rom. v. 18,) before him; but it is only through Jesus that we have access by faith into this grace. (Rom. v. 2.) Saith Christ our Savior, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John xiv. 6. The worshiper came with a lamb for a burnt offering, and wended his way with sighs and grief, with an humble and contrite heart to the place appointed by the Lord. (Exodus xxv. 8-22.) There he found the priesthood, and an high priest, too, who could “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.” – Heb. v. 2. The sinful one then laid his hands on the head of his sacrifice and confessed over it his sins unto God.
What next! O that wondrous mystery! The lamb was slain, its blood was shed, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. (Heb. ix. 22.) It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. (Lev. xvii. 11; Rom. v. 11.) The body of the lamb that was slain was burnt upon the altar, a burnt sacrifice, a propitiation. (Rom. iii. 25.) Thus reconciliation was made through the blood, (2 Chron. xxix. 24,) and sweet peace and pardon were shed abroad in the heart. What heavenly balm for the sin-stricken heart! These are heavenly things, things pertaining to God. What can be better for a sin-troubled heart than the healing, blissful hope that Jesus is our merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God! (Heb. ii. 17.) Am I related to, have I that heartfelt intimacy with Jesus! Have I been so taught that my sin-stricken, yearning heart cries out,
“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Black, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die”?
Tens of thousands sing these words and the language is utterly meaningless coming from their lips. They are such of whom Jesus speaks: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.” – Matt. xv. 8. But the heart of the quickened sinner is not far from God; O No. God has put within that one a heart to know him. (Jer. xxiv. 7; xxxii. 39.) A heart capable of knowing God, yearning to know God, to know him in all heavenly intimacy. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John xvii. 3. They shall be all taught of God. (John vi. 45.) “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” – Jer. xxxi. 34. Am I included in the number of such favored ones! O, is there any heart intimacy between me and God through the Mediator Jesus Christ! If in very truth this is so, then in part our spiritual, heavenly knowledge will be in this: “All shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” – Heb. viii. 11, 12. Sweet, sweet is forgiveness of sins flowing to the sin-burdened one through Jesus’ precious blood. (Psalms xxxviii. 4; Eph. i. 7.) This is to know the Lord. (Jer. ix. 24.) What are we in ourselves! All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. (Isa. lxiv. 6.) The best obedience of our hands is defiled, and dares not appear in God’s sight. O what shall a guilty sinner do, hell-deserving, “ready to perish”! (Isa. xxvii. 13.) Can he alleviate his woes! Can he satisfy the claims of eternal justice! Can he atone for his vile transgressions of God’s holy law! What can he do to reconcile himself unto the high and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity! (Hab. i. 13.) We are without strength (Rom. v. 6,) to accomplish our justification from the curse of the law. (Gal. iii. 10-12.) We can give the Lord no help, for we learn by divine teaching the truth, and it is very humbling, that we have no might. (Isa. xl. 29-31.) There was none to help our Lord Jesus Christ, and he needed none from poor, helpless sinners. (Isa. lxiii. 5.) He trod the winepress alone, his own arm brought salvation, and this is his voice from Calvary: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – Isa. xlv. 22. Have you, have I, been drawn to the crucified One! (John xii. 32.) Very blessed is that sinner who has eyes of faith and love to look unto Jesus.
“Looking to Jesus we look not in vain;
Christ’s our salvation, the Lamb that was slain.
In love and pity for us he hath died,
Our sins he atoned, the law satisfied.”
Perhaps I have presented to you a glimpse of heavenly things; things that pertain not to this world, they are invisible to mortal sight, but are related to that kingdom that is not of this world. (John xviii. 36.) O there are manifold other glimpses of heavenly things testified of in the gospel of Christ, and that are seen and tasted by faith in that vital experience known in the souls of those whom God hath translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Col. i. 13.) While in the earth believers are subject to tribulation and temptations; they know, every one of them, the plague of their own heart, (1 Kings viii. 31,) and need constant mercy and loving-kindness from the Lord in their pilgrimage. But they are looking for a better country, that is, an heavenly one. (Heb. xi. 16.) Are we such pilgrims walking in the footsteps of the ransomed flock! Then the steps of our faith (Rom. iv. 12,) will be in the blood and righteousness of Christ. He, our High Priest, Sacrifice, Redeemer and Forerunner, has entered within the veil with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us, and now appears in our behalf before the Majesty in the heavens. (Heb. vi. 20.) What a glorious revelation is this! What a sacred hope to cherish in the heart of a poor, sinful worm like me!
“Love moved him to die, on this I rely;
My Savior hath loved me, I cannot tell why;
But this I can tell, he hath loved me so well
As to lay down his life to redeem me from hell.”
Perhaps you never received such a letter as this before. It will do you no harm. May the Lord make it a blessing to you. Give my kind love to Ruth, and with kindly feelings to yourself, I am your well wisher and servant in the gospel of Christ,
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 8.
APRIL 15, 1908.