North Berwick, Maine, Jan. 30, 1908.
Wesley N. Spitler – Dear Brother In The Covenant Ordered In All Things And Sure: – All day long I have been letter-writing, and now it is night. Though I have written upon various subjects, amidst them all I had another train of thoughts, being upon my own peculiar personal pathway. However paradoxical it may appear, I was thinking upon many subjects at the same time. Concerning the one peculiar to myself, in the midst of it the words came again and again:
“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.”
I remembered how comforting they had been to me some months ago, and to-day they were again soothing and cheering. The Lord knows our needs, and to-day I have felt I very much needed those consolations which only the Lord can give. This afternoon I looked up for a moment from my writing and saw the snow falling down upon the earth, then the words in Isaiah lv. 10, 11, flowed into my heart: “As the rain cometh down, and the snow, from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” This was satisfying, and my soul feasted upon it. In a few moments I contemplated the doctrine of God our Savior. I looked at the whole testimony of the Scriptures of truth, and in my faith my heart said, “Thy word is settled in heaven.” – Psalms cxix. 89. Not one thing that the Lord has spoken shall be frustrated, for “The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” – Psalms xxxiii. 11. In the twinkling of an eye I reviewed his word to my soul, upon which he hath caused me to hope, and I was strengthened, my hope abounded and I could feel, I shall yet praise him, for he is the health of my countenance and my God.
“My conflicts are oft so severe,
I cannot tell where they will end,
Till Jesus, my Captain, draws near,
To act the kind part of a friend,
He shews me that all shall end well,
His blood is my prevalent plea,
And this to his glory I tell,
He saved a sinner like me.”
The apostle Peter had need of the intercession of the Author and Finisher of his faith, that his faith should not fail, and so have I. Innumerable discouragements from within and without so beset my steps that I feel I should fall by the way only that the Lord, I hope, is himself my Rock and Fortress, my strong Tower, into which I run and am safe. Some professors of the name of Christ get along in an easy-going style; there are no intimations that they have any felt need of God and of Christ; they can manage their own affairs, and find no insurmountable difficulties to impede their steps. It is not so with me. He with whom we have to do (Heb. iv. 13,) is not a myth, a something conjured up in our carnal, sickly imagination, but I believe that he is (Heb. xi. 6); the pure, the just, gracious, almighty One whom I so much need, and whom in some mysterious, gracious way (although I am a poor sinner) I am drawn unto, and in my heart I worship, and whose loving-kindnesses are more precious than all things else. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” – John i. 18. O thus it is, as revealed in Jesus, that I know him, and long for more and more intimacy with God. I am that foolish and sinful I have need every day to have that intimacy with him in his forgiveness. I long for that knowledge that his blood was shed for me, and have need to be nourished by his doctrine and encouraged by his precious promises. O let such communion, such intimacy, be mine, and whom shall I envy! Then I can sing,
“More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.”
I have just glanced over your letter again, and you tell of periods of destination when, as far as you could discern, the marks of God’s grace were lacking. Ah, well I know such times, and also well know that only the kindness of the Lord can lift me out of them. It is well for us to distinguish between what is the grace of God in us and what is not. For instance, the narration of the heart’s depravities, the infidelities, seditions and heresies that infest mankind is no evidence of the grace of God; there are manifold reprobates in the world who could tell the dismal, God-dishonoring story of iniquity. What then is the narrative betokening the grace of God! O that which declares one to be called by his grace is that when under the pressure of the heart’s vilenesses, when buffeted by temptations, when plagued with infidelities, that we are moved toward God, to sigh and mourn unto him, that we loathe ourselves in our own sight because of these abominations, that we blush before the Lord and our aching hearts entreat him to have pity upon us, to shew us his forgiveness, and that in his mercy he would deliver us from all the ungodliness so hatefully felt within us. Yes, our sighing hearts yearn for the blessing of Jesus ever to be ours in turning ns from our iniquities. (Acts iii. 36.) The grace of God teacheth us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Those who are not born of God can treat sin as though it were a trifle, and revel in its pleasures, but the grace of God will move us to turn from our transgressions. (Isaiah lix. 20.) Surely we loathe them, and would flee from them. Some professors of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ speak of their disinclination to read the Scriptures, they have no time to do so, that it is no use, for when they do they do not understand them. They mention all this as though it were sufficient excuse for their conduct. Any unregenerate person might say the same. But, my dear brother, do we know what it is to bemoan our indifference, hardness and worldliness! Do we pray to the Lord, or even sigh to have a heart to pray that he would arouse us from our lethargy, to revive our souls, to so animate us by his gracious power that we may find a sacred pleasure in the things of Christ! Fleshly lusts war against the soul, shall I indulge them! Shall I have intercourse with them! Shall I take them to my bosom! O if I do I shall find I have taken poisonous vipers to my breast. Have I not known that fleshly lusts make havoc of my peace and communion with the Lord! By them I am plunged into darkness and sore distress. Ah, yes, too well I know that if I am drawn away by fleshly lusts it is not long before I am in straits, in dismal, vile captivity, and my heart cries out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death!” How affectionately the apostle Peter presents the gracious counsel of the gospel; he says, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” – 1 Peter ii. 11. Our way is as though we were journeying through a foreign land, through the enemy’s country. On all sides and in every shape our enemies make their appearance; they lie in ambush to entrap our steps; with fair promises and alluring appearances the pleasures of sin would impede our journey, draw us aside from the paths of righteousness, and when enticed and held in their grasp we find them wretched tormentors; for fleshly lusts war, not in behalf of, ah no, but against the soul. Abstain from fleshly lusts. O where is the power to do so! O God, have mercy upon me, and save me, that I may not drink of the waters of iniquity; let me not taste sin’s dainty morsels. May my conversation be as becometh the gospel. Am I not thine, hast thou not loved and chosen and redeemed me, hast thou not called me unto thyself, and am I not a pilgrim to the city that thou hast prepared for thine own! O then, my God, for Jesus’ sake have pity upon me and guard me, and so bless me that I may abstain from all pollutions, and that I may be enabled to yield myself unto thee as one that is alive from the dead.
There, my dear brother, I will close. By what I have penned you know something of my own heart in things pertaining to God, and as in water face answereth to face, so I trust your heart is companionable with mine.
I am your brother, affectionately in Christ Jesus,
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. l9.
OCTOBER 1, 1908.