North Berwick, Maine, Dec. 23, 1904.
Millie A. Little – My Dear Sister In The Lord: – I have been much hindered in writing to you, and when not hindered I so lacked the inclination for any letter writing. I much appreciate the letters of my dear kindred in Christ Jesus, and sometimes even a glance at their handwriting stirs up affectionate remembrances. Still there are writings that are more wonderful and precious by far than all that all the saints have written, and when I can have a glimpse of and read these writings I have blessedness indeed. Look at this: “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” – Luke x. 20. “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Jer. xxxi. 33. “Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart.” – 2 Cor. iii. 3. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” – Rev. xiv. 1. I “will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” – Rev. ii. 17. “I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.” – Rev. iii. 12. These writings are infinitely glorious and incomparably precious. Contemplate with me awhile these writings of the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity. “Your names are written in heaven.” These names written in heaven are the names of the church of the firstborn. (Heb. xii. 23.) Christ is the firstborn, as it is written: “I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” – Psalms lxxxix. 27; Romans viii. 29; Col. i. 15, 18. Then as a farther insight into the divine mystery of our names being “written in heaven,” it is declared their names are “written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” – Rev. xiii. 8. And the book of life was opened, “and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Rev. xx, 15, The names written in the book of life are the names of God’s elect.
“O wondrous grace and mystery profound,
In God’s eternal purpose I was found;
His sovereign love, his grace, his deep decree.
In some mysterious way included me.”
The eternal purpose which Jehovah purposed in Christ Jesus embraced this, the exaltation of his chosen one in immutable holiness, and to immortal happiness in union with his incarnate Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. But the subject is far better expressed in the language of inspiration: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” – Eph. i. 3-6. As I muse upon the deeps of the doctrine of God I say in my Soul, Did the Lord look through the ages and the generations of mankind and see me one of Adam’s race, and write me in the book of life? Was I, in his eternal purpose, given to Christ and accounted one with him, and in him promised (Titus i. 2,) and given (1 John v. 11,) and ordained unto eternal life? (Acts xiii. 48.) The date of all this writing is eternal, before the world began. “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” God in his everlasting love wrote them there, and is there any power (hat can erase them? O, is it not
“Sweet to look back and see my name
In life’s fair book set down;
Sweet to look forward and behold
Eternal joys my own”?
Then how full of consolation to us poor sinners is the revelation that the book of life in which God’s elect are written is the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. His goings forth in the everlasting covenant both as the Shepherd of his people, (Micah v. 2,) and as the Lamb, (1 Peter i. 19, 20,) show how from eternity the thoughts of our eternal God were set upon the exaltation, redemption and regeneration of his people. For our election in Christ Jesus, and being blessed in him with all spiritual blessings, our acceptance in his sight, our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins, our adoption and predestination to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, are all declared to be embraced in and according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself. (Eph. i. 9.)
But the inquiry arises in my thoughts, How shall a poor sinner read his name written in the Lamb’s book of life? It is only in the experience of the new covenant being written in our hearts by the holy Spirit that we read our names written in heaven. This brings me, dear sister, to put down a few thoughts upon God writing in the fleshy tables of the heart. He gives to his chosen ones in his decreed times a new heart, and a new spirit. (Ezek. xxxvi. 26.) “I will put my fear in their hearts,” saith the Lord. This is wonderful writing to be found in a sinner’s heart, but the Lord, who hath loved his own with an everlasting love, and who wrote their names in the book of life, will have them fear him, love him, believe him, trust him and confess that he is their exceeding joy. The Spirit of God gives this new heart, and the favored sinner touched with this heart is no more dead in trespasses and sins; he is now alive in a divine life unto God, and the writing begins. If the writing were in I tables of stone, the tables of stone might be broken; the ravages of time might at length obliterate what was written, and the very stones themselves crumble into dust; but the fleshy tables of the heart, in which the Spirit of the living God writes the ministration of life, is that new covenant heart (Jer. xxxi. 33,) that pulsates with spiritual, eternal life from God, and therefore forever this writing shall endure, and all the throbbings of this heart shall find its consciousness in the writings that are written therein by the Holy Ghost. Sacred, wonderful is the experience as the Lord is writing. He writes love there, love to himself, the just, the holy and gracious God. We find our hearts moved with longings after the Lord, to know him, to taste that he is good. As poor, sin-stricken, condemned transgressors we feel we must have his friendship or we must perish in our sins and grief beneath the curse of the law. We are led to think upon God’s infinite greatness and majesty, and that he is just in all his ways, and then as we are led to contemplate that he is kind and gracious, rich in mercy, our heart pulsates with yearnings, and that language is no exaggeration which says, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My Soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God!” – Psalms xlii. 1, 2. All this declares that God has written his fear and his love in our heart. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Spirit which is given unto us. “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” In the gracious fulfillment of this promise God’s revealed will becomes dear to us, and our affection flows forth unto the doctrine of God our Savior, and we are described as believing with all the heart; for our faith in God, in our precious Redeemer and in the gospel worketh by love. The faith of God’s elect is an affectionate faith. It is very wonderful that a sinner who in his natural estate is alienated from the life of God, and an enemy of the holy One, should be so turned to the Lord, to seek his face, to yearn with an aching heart for tokens of his compassion, and find also his delight is in the law of the Lord after the inward man. What is the Sonrce of all this? It is because of the writing done by the Lord in the heart. The writing goes on; he is still writing, and will continue to write in the hearts of his chosen ones all the days of their pilgrimage. Would we see one in whom God has written his law? A very true likeness is found in that precious 119th Psalm. All through this Psalm one feels the throbbings of the heart in whose fleshy tables the Spirit of the living God has written. Although I am a poor, unworthy sinner I will tell this, that I have read this Psalm a number of times when my heart has panted, thirsted, longed and grieved, and delighted and throbbed in unison with this wonderful Psalm. “I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.” O, I must repeat it again, that the writings of the holy Spirit in the fleshy tables of the heart are wonderful. Not only wonderful, but so blessed, for when we are sin-stricken and tempted, and our hearts are bleeding and contrite, then he takes of the things of Christ, the blessings of the new covenant, and writes them in the heart. Mercy, forgiveness of sins, how sweet, how healing is this to the wounded heart. This writing by a figure of speech may be said to be written upon the humble heart in the red ink of Jesus’ precious blood. We have forgiveness of sins through his blood according to the riches of his grace. (Eph. i. 7.)
“What stream is that which sweeps away
My sins, just like a flood,
Nor lets one guilty blemish stay?
‘Tis Jesus’ precious blood.”
The holy Spirit writes the promises and the sworn mercies of God in the hearts of the elect, and the effect of such writings is that the heirs of promise have a strong consolation and a gracious sanctuary in the gospel of Christ. (Heb. vi. 17-20.) Thus writing in our hearts the things of Christ is called in the Scriptures, sealing us. The sealing of the Spirit, whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. i. 13; iv. 30.) My Soul still holds its soliloquy, and I say, has my heart in very truth felt the impress of the things of Christ? Is Christ himself graven upon my heart? Surely it must be so, for does not my heart cry out, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm”! – Solomon’s Song viii. 6. And can I not say, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee “? Though I write this, a feeling comes over me of “love and grief my heart dividing,” and I am saying,
“Lord, it is my chief complaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more.”
O let my heart know more and more of thee, more of thy loving-kindness, which is better than life; O write deeper and deeper the acts of thy love, and thy mercy and grace in the fleshy tables of my heart, that wherever I go, and whatever my state, I may know thee and love thee and never forget thee, but ponder affectionately in my heart thine almighty and gracious acts in behalf of thy church in all the relations and characters that thou sustainest unto them.
What the Spirit writes in the fleshy tables of the heart is always in agreement with the Scriptures of truth, for it was as they were moved by the holy Ghost that holy men of old spake, and so they were inspired by God to write for the comfort and learning of the church of’ Christ. It is of no avail for me, or for you, or for any one to say, I have experienced this; I was taught it of the Lord in my experience; I love this doctrine; I find much comfort and pleasure in it; it is written in my heart, if that doctrine is contrary to and is not found in the holy Scriptures. No matter how logical it may appear, no matter how lovely and satisfying it may be, if it has not the “thus saith the Lord” for it in the Scriptures it is very vanity, a cunningly devised fable, a lying divination, the deceit of that heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. (Ezek. xiii. 6; Jer. xiv. 14.) Let these who would pervert the gospel of Christ, (Gal. i. 7; Jer. xxiii. 36,) who corrupt the word of God, (2 Cor. ii. 17,) who wrest the Scriptures, (2 Peter iii. 10,) who make a lie, and love what they have made, (Rev. xxii. 15,) let them sport themselves with their own deceivings, (2 Peter ii. 13,) but may my heart and your heart only have affection for and delight in what is verily taught in the word of God. What the holy Spirit writes in the fleshy tables of the heart is never contrary to, but is ever in sacred agreement with the testimony of the holy Scriptures. Sometimes there are things written in our hearts by the Spirit, but we have not yet been able to read with understanding what is there written. Then it may be in the providence of our God we hear Christ’s gospel preached, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance; then we read with understanding what God has taught us, and we say, I know that my heart has tasted these glorious, precious things of the covenant ordered in all things and sure. And at times also when we read the Scripture, in what grateful surprise and comfort we find what is written there is in sweet accord with what has been wrought by the Spirit of the living God in our hearts. The Scriptures therefore are for the comfort and learning of Christ’s body, the church, and are able to make them wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. iii. 15.) The redeemed of the Lord have the name of their heavenly Father written in their foreheads. (Rev. xiv. 1.) Christ says, “I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.” – Rev. iii. 12. This writing is sealing them as the children of God, it is giving them power to become the sons of God. (John i. 12.) It is sending forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts crying, Abba, Father. (Gal. iv. 6.) The Lord writes and thus he speaks, “Thou shalt call me, My Father; and shalt not turn away from me.” – Jer. iii. 10. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” Jesus said to his disciples, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.” We cannot realizingly do so until Christ tells us to say, “Our Father.” But the gracious covenant work of the holy Spirit is to bring us into intimate relations with the dear Savior; he brings us to know him as ours, through whom we are forgiven, and justified and redeemed, and in whom we are predestinated unto the adoption of children unto God. And because God is our Father we love Jesus. (John viii. 42.) Christ is all our heart’s desire, and our faith is all in him. Being thus in intimacy with Jesus Christ we find his doctrine confesses to us the Father’s name. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” As it is written, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” – Heb. ii. 12. We are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. (Rom. viii. 14-17.) The word also says, I will write upon him the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem. This seals us as citizens of Zion, the city of God. Even now there are sacred seasons when the feet of our faith stand within her gates, but this is but the earnest of our inheritance. We are destined for the heavenly Jerusalem, and like the dear saints of olden times, we are looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. We are pilgrims on the earth, but upon our foreheads is (I hope) written the name of our God and the name of the city of our God.
“Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name over dear to me;
When shall my labors have an end
In joy, and peace, and thee?
Reach down, O Lord, thine arm of grace,
And cause me to ascend
Where congregations ne’er break up,
And Sabbaths never end.
When wilt thou come to me, O Lord?
O come, my Lord, most dear;
Come nearer, nearer, nearer still,
I’m safe when thou art near.”
I had not intended writing you so long a letter, but I think I shall be safe in promising you that I will pen you a shorter one next time. Thousands of miles intervene between our earthly abodes, but the God of Israel is near to all that fear him wherever they may be. May the Lord comfort you and bless you, and lift up upon you the light of his countenance.
I am your brother in hope of eternal life,
FRED. W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 73., No. 3.
FEBRUARY 1, 1905.