“And am I blest with Jesus’ love?
And shall I dwell with Him above?
And will the joyful period come
When I shall call the heavens my home?
Think, O my soul, what must it be,
A world of glorious minds to see:
Drink at the Fountain-head of peace,
And bathe in everlasting bliss!
To hear them all at once proclaim
Eternal glories to the Lamb,
And join, with joyful heart and tongue,
That new and never-ending song!
And does the happy hour draw near
When Christ will in the clouds appear,
And I without a veil shall see
The God, the Man that bled for me?
If in my soul such joy abounds,
While weeping faith explores His wounds,
How glorious will those scars appear
When perfect bliss forbids a tear!
Think, O my soul, if ‘tis so sweet
On earth to sit at Jesus’ feet,
What must it be to wear a crown,
And sit with Jesus on His throne”
A little while ago I sat musing, and the words I have just penned flowed into my mind, and I found them to be both soothing and animating. O, I find I am one much in need of grace and consolation. I speak for myself, shall I speak also for you? Look which way we will, go where we may, whatever our lot, all of it, without those consolations that flow from the dear Savior, is unsatisfying, we are burdened, and find in the end it all to be vanity and vexation of spirit. Without Christ all is a wilderness. How is this? Multitudes all around us have no such ideas, but come to conclusions far different. They find all they crave in the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). But from what cause is it that we are sometimes saying,
“How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see”?
It is founded in this sacred fact: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The Lord by his divine work in our souls has separated us unto himself (Psalm 4:3). The Holy Spirit has begotten in us cravings after that which the earth can never afford us. We find within us yearnings after holiness, we thirst for God, for the living God. Our heart in its throbbings says, O to know God, to know Jesus, that is, to know his tender compassion, forgiveness, friendship. These things are not airy nothings, castles in the air; O no, we say they are divine realities, more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb. How do we know? We have tasted that the Lord is gracious (1 Peter 2:3), we have had a sip of God’s goodness in Christ Jesus, and this so far exceeds all other blessedness that “the man whom thou chooseth, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple” (Psalm 65:4). “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” Are we not conscious of having in us a nature capable of taking in all the vanities of earth? I am deeply conscious of it, and this I confess, that but for God’s almighty preserving grace I should greedily pursue after all fleshly gratifications. Yet, notwithstanding all this (let me declare a divine mystery):
“I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy wounds, Emmanuel, all forbid
That I should seek my pleasures there.
It was the sight of thy dear cross
First weaned my soul from earthly things,
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings.”
It is, dear kindred in Christ Jesus, that divine work of God’s grace in our souls that sanctifies us unto God, and now we no longer wander as enemies and aliens, but he has put his fear in our hearts, he has begotten in us hungerings and thirstings after righteousness, he has moved us with affectionate longings after the knowledge of his truth, we desire to know God and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, whom to know is life eternal, and thus we are found turning from transgression (Isaiah 59:20), striving against sin (Heb. 12:4), warring a good warfare laying hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12). He that hath wrought us (2 Cor. 5:5) and formed us (Isaiah 43:21), to know and to worship himself, hath done it all according to the good pleasure of his will; it is according to the eternal purpose that he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world begun, and bestowed it by grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. O the riches of God’s grace! “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Our soul revolts at such a thought, and exclaims, God forbid. We cry to the Lord to keep us from evil, we sigh and grieve over the evils of our sinful hearts, and draw back with a shudder lest we should fall into outward iniquity. O Lord, hold thou me up and I shall be safe. We are surely taught of God to mortify our members which are upon the earth, and the evidence of our being Christ’s is that we have crucified the flesh with the affections and the lusts (Gal. 5:24). O abundance of grace is daily needed that we may fight the good fight of faith, and in very truth be found crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts. Ah, poor, sinful, weak and wretched me; instead of the affections and lusts of the flesh being nailed to the cross, where I have crucified them, and would have them crucified, they appear to have come down from the cross, to he walking abroad throughout the land, uncontrolled, committing all manner of depredations, ravaging and making havoc in all the regions of my soul, devouring, like wild beasts, all my peace and comfort and hope in Christ Jesus, intruding and marring all spiritual meditation, interfering with and endeavoring to bring to an end all worship of and communion with the everlasting God. How humiliating is the knowledge of our sinfulness! At times I am astonished and confounded at the horrible and hateful emotions working within me. Ah, so depraved is our flesh. The Scriptures declare man’s heart to be “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). All unholy passions dwell there, and if by the grace of God working in us they are not arrested, subdued, mortified, and like vile malefactors crucified, nailed to the cross, they will be lively, and with a high hand be found ravaging the land, intruding into, polluting and laying waste all our life. O every day there are lusts of our flesh springing up that need to be quelled and crucified, and our sin-grieved hearts say, Let all iniquity be execrated, accursed, mortified, crucified and slain. Yes, at times we sigh for the time when sins and temptations shall vex us no more, but we shall be like our ascended and glorified Redeemer, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
“When that happy era begins,
When arrayed in Thy glories I shine,
Nor grieve any more by my sins
The bosom on which I recline.
O then shall the vile be removed,
And round me Thy brightness be poured,
I shall meet Him whom absent I loved,
I shall see Whom unseen I adored.
And then never more shall the fears
And trials, temptations and woes,
Which darken this valley of tears,
Intrude on my blissful abode.
Thus the stroke which from sin and from pain
Shall set me eternally free,
Will but strengthen and rivet the chain
Which binds me, my Savior, to Thee.”
Sweet anticipation, blessed hope.
I am, I hope, your brother in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.
FREDERICK W. KEENE
North Berwick, Maine
SIGNS OF THE TIMES,
Pages 712 thru 714