MRS. OLIVE M. POWRIE
DEAR SISTER IN THE COVENANT ORDERED IN ALL THINGS AND SURE
The days are gilding by since I received your letter. I have been much occupied, and even tonight I do not feel fitted, either bodily or mentally, to begin letter writing. I have proved, however, many times that “our sufficiency is of God;” he can equip us for whatever relations in life we are called upon in his providence to fulfill. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” “My grace [saith the Lord] is sufficient for thee.” The children of God are ever learning their nothingness and helplessness, and are thereby prepared to appreciate the sufficiency and preciousness of those mercies which are only found in Christ, the Head of the church. “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” I have many times during the past year been thinking how very wonderful it is, for a poor, vile sinner to be sighing after intimacy, and to be in very truth (in a way that the unregenerate can never understand) living in very near relations with the high and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity. The Lord of old said, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them, and there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:8, 22). So in Christ Jesus, the Antitype, we meet, we have communion with the Lord. O what nearness, what friendship there is between a poor, vile sinner and God when he abundantly pardons, when he, in his everlasting covenant love reveals to the sinner’s heart that he is justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; and then, my dear sister, from day to day, in the midst of earthly perplexities, trials, afflictions, and amidst the spiritual conflicts and adversities of the soul, how needful in our pilgrimage is the nearness, the succor, the upholding pity of the Lord, that we may hold on our way. It all is very wonderful, and all is the fruit of the everlasting love of God.
“O had He not pitied the state we were in,
Our bosoms His love had ne’er felt,
We all should have lived, should have died, too, in sin,
And sunk with the load of our guilt.”
Do we not find, amidst all the changes of our life, how preciously adapted to every condition is the truth of the gospel of the grace of God? All things that pertain unto life and godliness are communicated unto us by God’s divine power (2 Peter 1:3), and thus ministered unto, the inward man is renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). When, by the Holy Ghost, we are living in reverential nearness with the Lord we are delivered from the fear of man, that bringeth a snare. Our heavenly Father hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6). What can man do? Man has no power at all against us except it be given him of God (John 19:11). God may suffer man to persecute us, to cast out our names as evil, to torment us even unto death, and after that there is no more that he can do. But our dear Savior saith, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able [after he hath killed, Luke 12:5], to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:28-31). Can we believe this? I find I can only do so according to the working of God’s mighty power (Eph. 1:19), and then how comforted is my soul. The other night, upon my bed, I was thinking of the vicissitudes, the anxieties that attend my life; I looked forward, but all was obscurity, and my soul was cast down within me. Then in a quieting, soothing way came the thought, Is not the Lord your friend? Instantly in my comforted soul I said, I hope he is, and my heart with entreaty turned to Jesus, Be my friend, O be my friend. I looked then over the pathway to the end of my pilgrimage, yes, even into eternal glory, and in the picture in my mind, with me always my Companion, my Guide, my Up-holder, I could see him that wise, compassionate, almighty Friend. Though I am foolish, weak and sinful, though the way be rough and snares and pitfalls are everywhere, though enemies internal and external would impede my way and cast me down, all is well if thou, Jesus, art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. These contemplations were consoling and strengthening to my heart, and thus once more encouraged I was able to cast all my care upon him who careth for me. O to think that the merciful loving-kindness of the Lord is to one like me! I see myself vile (Job 40:4), less than the least (Eph. 3:8), base, despised, a thing that is not (1 Cor. 1:28), dust and ashes (Gen. 18:27), yet I am moved to hope, in spite of the insinuations of Satan, that the Lord thinketh upon me (Psalm 40:17). But, my dear sister, disquietudes again enter into my life, I am seldom long at ease, I find myself as needy as ever for the Lord to appear and bring me forth to the light, or to light up my gloom with the lamp of his counsel. The following verse has come into my mind many times during the past month:
“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower”
I have often purposed, but many, many of my purposes utterly fail; they no doubt are contrary to the purposes of the Lord. But what his hand and counsel hath before determined to be done, that shall stand, that shall be fulfilled. My heart as I pen this says, O let me say, Thy will be done. It is otherwise with me sometimes, I find I am fretful, murmuring (God knows it, though no creature has knowledge of it), yet I long, yes I entreat the Lord not to leave me, but to bring me and to keep me waiting upon him, acquiescing in all his ways. Without the riches of his grace subduing me I am a very rebel. In the depravity of my sinful heart I see I should set aside all regard for the good pleasure of the Lord. O the unsubmissive creature! I should enthrone myself, and have myself a self-determining being. Ah, what presumptuous vanity! Some in their folly claim to be such. But God is merciful, and in my spirit I say unto him, Let me worship thee, love thee, glorify thee, and ever say amen to all thy counsel. In times of my weakness, when unbelief plagues me and I am drawn aside from the Lord, very little then discourages; I am cast down and the way looks difficult and rugged, and unless divine help is afforded me I am dismayed. But the Lord is greater than all my fears, and O he is so merciful to my unrighteousness, and my shameful forgetfulness of his loving-kindnesses. Memories of his goodness, and how he hath been my help, revive me, my soul is drawn out to our covenant-keeping God, and I feel, What time I am afraid I will trust in thee, thy faithfulness and mercy shall shelter me; let me hide in thy bosom; let the everlasting arms encompass me. Then, though the world, the flesh and the devil are more than I can withstand, and my soul is wearied in its conflicts, I shall overcome them all by the blood, thy precious blood, O Jesus.
Let thy blood for me avail,
And though sin and hell assail,
I shall then the victory gain
Through the Lamb, who once was slain,
Here I rested in my writing, and mentally reviewing what I had written I said to myself, What does it all signify? It signifies that there is a sinful, weak creature upon the earth moved toward the everlasting God, and exercised concerning things that are eternal. God has come into his life; he is not without God, without Christ and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). I hope it all signifies that I am one of the taught of the Lord, and that in very truth Jesus is precious to me. Very sacred indeed is the hope that we are vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory.
May the Lord bless you and crown your life with his compassion and salvation.
I am your brother in Jesus,
FREDERICK W. KEENE
North Berwick, Maine, February 7, 1909