Beloved One In Christ Jesus: – Though you have very lowly thoughts of yourself, and “dust and ashes” is thy name, and many conflicts are your lot, yet thou surely art “greatly beloved” (Dan. x. 11,) of the Lord, for he teacheth thee, and in all thy distresses thou art constrained, drawn, enticed to flee for refuge to that hope set before thee in the gospel. Thou art indeed beloved of God, even though thy foolish, unbelieving heart sometimes questions this. Had he not loved thee, dear brother, you had never been drawn to Jesus; he would not be thine heart’s attraction. But though a vile sinner, to whom all the world can afford no shelter, yet thy God, and I would fain say, our God, loves thee, pities thee, and though thy sins and the devil would chase thee to hell, the blessed God sets the hope before thee. If he loved thee not, the Hope, even Jesus, had never been set before thee; but to Jesus and his precious blood and righteousness you have fled for refuge, and your heart lays hold (yes, it is dear to your heart,) upon the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. To you I can speak freely, to many if I did so they would not understand me. The sea on which they sail is far smoother than mine. My own soul’s affairs are full of changes. Oft I am constrained to groan beneath the vileness that infests my life, Surely no one can be more vile. O, the self-loathing and abasement that is mine, and yet I feel I do not loathe myself as I should. I am astonished at the continued scenes of deep, dark depravity that I am made to see, and to feel, too. Ah, it is not as a mere onlooker that I see the pride, the lust and the hellish blackness of my nature. O, the stench of my carnal heart! O, the horrors that creep over my soul as this pit of corruption closes in upon me, and I feel to sink in the deep mire! Ah, those sunnied-faced professors who can always testify of their delight in the things of Jesus can have no use for me. I suppose I should be a nuisance in the presence of these satisfied ones. Nevertheless I had rather have my griefs than their joy, my dark hours than their sunshine. Ah, yes, I would sooner have my rugged, tried pathway, than their easy going, smooth way. But there is a state that I dread more than all, that is, when notwithstanding all of my sinfulness, I find I am so hardened, there is not a sigh escapes me, I am as one dead in all the filth and abominations of my flesh. Then before long that questioner and accuser puts in his appearance on the field, and I am stricken and thrust through on every hand. Then, as it were, I awaken as one on the brink of a precipice. Ah, I am too far gone, and down; down I am, plunged into the abyss of corruption. Surely this is the belly of hell to my soul, and here the enemy presseth me sore. Ah, those easy going christians will no doubt think of me, He must be a great sinner, or he would not be punished like that. I am indeed a great sinner, and my punishment is less than my iniquities deserve, yet perhaps in my outward walk I am not much inferior unto you. Perhaps the outside of my cup and platter is almost as clean as yours. But to my grief and anguish of heart I find all uncleanness within, and such uncleanness as I am not able to subdue and exterminate. If sighs and tears would wash me white as snow, then surely I should find by this time some spots cleansed away, but no, year by year I am more unholy, so vile. O, when I think upon my God, so infinite, so high and holy, what am I f so impure. I shrink away, no, No. I sigh, I mourn, and O such yearnings that his almighty grace would make me holy, even as he is holy. Can God save a wretch like me? Ah, when I have been plunged into the deep, and distracted by the insinuations of the devil, my God does not utterly cast off a worthless wretch; O no! It is wonderful. He turns my thoughts unto himself, I remember former mercies, so amidst my stinking wounds I sigh, I cry, O Lord look down from heaven and behold a poor and sinful worm. I tell him I am vexed and tried with this unclean heart of mine, that questionings and fears roll in upon my soul, and that I sink beneath the waves. O Lord, dost thou not know my troubled state! Wilt thou not have compassion on me? Forsake me not utterly, O God, though base and vile thou knowest I am. O, break through this gloom, O Jesus, and give my soul one glance of pity, one ray of sunshine from thy face, O fair Redeemer. O, for a word of thy tender mercy, O for a thrill of life and peace from thee. This would heal all the maladies of my soul, and I should come forth and live in thy sight to praise thee, my God and my Redeemer. O, the matchless reigning grace of God! Even this day (Nov. 18th,) I was full of cares, tossed about, craving, craving something, I hardly knew what. But that precious something that I needed the Lord knew, and he had the answer ready before I called. I took up a hymn book and read,
“When rocks and mountains rent with dread,
And gaping graves gave up their dead,
When the fair sun withdrew his light,
And hid his head to shun the sight,
Then stood the wretch of human race,
And raised his head, and showed his face;
Gazed unconcerned when nature failed,
And scoffed, and sneered, and cursed, and railed!
Harder than rocks and mountains are,
More dull than dirt and earth by far,
Man viewed unmoved thy blood’s rich stream,
Nor over dreampt it flowed for him.
Such was that race of sinful men,
That gained that great salvation then!
Such, and such only, still we see:
Such were they all, and such are we.
The Jews with thorns his temples crowned,
And lashed him when his hands wore bound:
But thorns, and knotted whips and bands,
By us were furnished to their hands.
They nailed him to the accursed tree;
They did, my brethren, so did we.
The soldier pierced his side, ‘tis true,
But we have pierced him through and through.”
I could read no more; I was filled with emotions. I saw myself so vile, such grief I felt as I gazed upon the man of sorrows, and such desires flowed forth unto the dear Savior, I wanted to clasp him in my arms and call him mine. O, he was mine, I felt he was mine, and I said, “I will creep beside him like a worm, and see him die for me.” O, what I need is the voice of thy precious blood, dear Lamb of God, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Some whose lives appear to be calm and holy, who appear to always have peace and gladness within their reach in the doctrine of salvation by grace, do not seem to appreciate such language as a hell-deserving sinner, a vile, abominable wretch. I do not care for the words myself, but what words can a sinner like me make use of? They all appear too tame to describe what I am in such distress over, when God gives me a sight of myself. I would I were pure and holy even as my God. For this I sigh, for this I pant. O, when shall that hope for which I wait, be consummated f that hope of righteousness in the obedience and blood of the Lamb! In eternal glory. When thou, my God, at death shall receive my spirit to thyself, when at the last day, at the last trump thou shalt come, O Redeemer, the Resurrection and the Life, to call forth the ransomed bodies of thy people from the dead, thou shalt change our vile bodies, and in immortality, in incorruption and in glory they shall rise. Then body, soul and spirit, we shall be holy and without blame before thee in love. Till then grant me the portion of those that fear thee, that through the Spirit I may wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. O, I love to see thee, Jesus, crowned with glory and honor; thou art the same dear Jesus who wast made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death. As I muse upon thy obedience, sufferings and death, thy burial, resurrection and ascension to glory, I feel thou, my lovely One, art my hope, yes, dear Savior, my hope springs up in thee that I, too, shall triumph, that I, too, shall rise again from the grave, that I shall ascend and be crowned through thy matchless grace with glory and honor. Surely even now I have a sip of the blessedness, the earnest of the Spirit in my poor heart. O, that I could but love thee and serve thee forever.
Well, my dear brother, dear and precious as the Son of God is unto us; and times, little moments are given me of joy unspeakable and full of glory in our hope in him, yet sometimes I groan under my vileness, and have to confess before the Lord, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.” – Psalm xxxviii. 5. As a very leper I am made to cry Unclean, unclean, I see that” from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in me, but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” And I loathe myself because of the abominable filth that is in me. (Ezek. vi. 9.) There was a time in my life, and perhaps only that once, a time when it seemed to me I tasted the depths of misery, and then such a sip of heaven, so sweet, Can I ever forget it! I so loathed myself that I think I could enter into the meaning of the one who wrote,
“Vain toad, too filthy to be damned,
Else in his face the Judge had slammed
The door of darksome hell.
He feared the vile, infernal crew,
Back to the earth the wretch would spue,
Too black with them to dwell.”
O, the exceeding riches of that grace that saveth a sinner like me!
Perhaps even you will think this is a strange mixture of a letter. It is, and it is just like one who is, I hope, your brother,
FRED. W. KEENE.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 67, No. 16.
AUGUST 15, 1899.