(Exodus xxxiv. 14.)
My Dear Sister In The Lord: – For some days I have felt promptings within to take my pen and write you a few lines in return for your grateful letter, but the opportunity I did not find, other cares occupied me. It is written, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.” I trust we know a little of this secret, and have had some precious and comforting glimpses of his covenant. Perhaps I cannot always frame my speech to say, I fear the Lord, but since the time my heart was first divinely exercised toward him, although the affairs of my soul have been sometimes in a desperate plight, yet that word in Psalm lxxxvi. 11, has been maintained by the Spirit within me, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” However far off the child of God has declined from the ways of the Lord, there will spring up affectionate longings toward the name of the Lord. “The desire of our soul is to thy name and to the remembrance of thee.”
You remember that some time ago I intimated to you that I had thoughts of writing you a series of letters upon a certain subject that was then exercising my thoughts. Well, I have not done so, and it seems far off now, the life, the beauty, the sweetness of the subject seem to have been withdrawn; indeed, I do not seem to retain in my thoughts the skeleton of the matter, but the bones lie scattered in the open valley, and are very dry. If I should gather together bone to his bone, I could hardly make my skeleton stand up, and then I could not clothe it with flesh and animate it with life; I could not set before you the church in her beauty as I then beheld her, when I first purposed to write to you upon that delightful theme. The vision has gone up from me, but should the Lord open the heavens again, and repeat the sight, if it is his will I should like to tell you something about it. Since then many things have been in my thoughts, some were sweet, and others bitter; some musings made my heart ache, and then I had contemplations upon our God that gave me peace and rest, and little moments of rejoicing. Amidst my contemplations of late there has been a subject upon which a number of times I have had some thought. At first I thought it strange, but the more I mused the more I felt I know a little something about it, and that little something I should like to tell you. The subject is, The jealousy of the Lord. I feel to approach the subject with reverence, for I felt in my musings that it was something very sacred, and upon the lines in which there has been a little opening up of the subject to me it is I feel with humility of heart, and holy fear of the great name of the Lord, that I venture to pen you some of my thoughts. I know at all times in speaking of God it should be with reverence, but to speak of the jealousy of our God is to speak of him with such intimacy that it seems to be beyond what poor, finite creatures can have knowledge of. But God, though so infinite and glorious, reveals himself by the Holy Ghost unto his own. The Holy Ghost in ages past moved men, and they spake the things which he revealed unto them, and our precious Scriptures are what they were thus inspired to write. In those Scriptures God speaks unto Israel, “Thou shalt worship no other God: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” – Exodus xxxiv. 14. The apostle John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; for God is love.” – 1 John iv. 7, 8. The love and jealousy of God are related, as are all the attributes of God. Therefore if we know him whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, it is our God who is love that is jealous. As the love that the children of God have unto God and to one another is of God, so there is a jealousy which they have some knowledge of, which is also of God. Thus the apostle Paul writes, “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.” – 2 Cor. xi. 2. The jealousy of the Lord, and this godly jealousy of which the apostle speaks, is not to be confounded with the vile jealousy that rages sometimes in the breasts of mortals. The Lord, whose name is Jealous, is pure, and his jealousy revealed in relation to his people is as pure and sacred as his love. It is only in consideration of the relations that God is revealed as sustaining to his people that we can attain to a right apprehension of the jealousy of the Lord whose name is Jealous. He is the Creator, and they are his creatures; he is their God and Father, and they are his children. But the highest, the most sublime, the most endearing revelation of himself unto his elect, is that the Lord is the Husband of the church: “For thy Maker is thine Husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” – Isaiah liv. 5. It is especially in connection with this relationship that my contemplations have been upon the jealousy of the Lord. As a nearer approach to the subject it is blessed to consider that God was manifest in the flesh. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the brightness of God, the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, is the Incarnate Son of God. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” He, our beloved Savior, equal with God, and who is of the seed of Abraham, the child of the Virgin Mary according to the flesh, is in the bosom of the Father, and declares the Father unto us. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. He is very God (John i. 1-3; Heb. i. ‘2-8,) and verily man. (Heb. ii. 16.) Christ is the Husband and Head of the church. “This is a great mystery.” The gospel tells of the Lord’s great mercy to sinners, and of his salvation. Who Is our Redeemer and Savior! He is, saith the apostle, the Husband and Head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. (Eph. v. 23.) Therefore in his doctrine he declares, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin unto Christ.” – 2 Cor. xi. 2. To be called unto the fellowship of this mystery is an unspeakable blessing, the highest favor that can be bestowed upon a sinful creature; indeed, it is the foretaste of the blessedness of heaven. When it pleases the Lord to call his elect by his grace, they begin to feel they are sinners, and find themselves poor and needy, and in due time he gives them sweet tastes of his pardoning love that flows through the blood of the Lamb unto them. The Savior revealed to poor sinners by the Holy Spirit, is all their heart’s desire, to him their longing souls flee as their sanctuary from sin and the curse of the law. Jesus is their great Deliverer, their merciful and faithful High Priest; indeed, as they grow in the knowledge of him they with unspeakable comfort realize that “Christ is all.” You, dear sister, and I, acknowledge him to be such unto us. Upon his almighty arm we would lean, and from his fullness derive all our supplies, and all our fitness for time and eternity, for in ourselves we have no sufficiency, we are nothing, but Christ is all. The more and more poor sinners learn of Jesus, the more lovely and desirable he is unto them. To him our warm desires flow forth, and we love him because he first loved us. Our Savior, who is our Husband, shed his own blood to cleanse away our guilt; he poured out his soul unto death to ransom us from the power of the grave, and to redeem us from death. In his incomparable love he gave himself for his bride, a sacrifice of a sweet smelling sacrifice, to redeem her from all iniquity, “that he might sanctify and cleanse the church with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” In the time of our first thoughts and first comforts that we tasted in Jesus, we felt to say in our hearts, Jesus is dear to me. It was the time of our “first love.” (Rev. ii. 4.) The love of our espousals, (Jer. ii. 2,) and in these days of spiritual youth we sang, (Hosea ii. 15,) for we were happy in the hope of the forgiveness of our sins, and our song was, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” In our knowledge of Jesus as our Savior and King, we dwell safely, secured by his atoning blood from all encroachments of the enemy; we have rest and peace in our hearts in our Beloved. In Jesus is our perfect safety. “In his days [when he reigns as our Savior and King in our sight, and with eyes of trustful love we are looking unto him,] Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.” – Jer. xxiii. 6. It is a wondrous act of God’s love that Christ’s righteousness is unto and upon all that believe in him. The gospel brings us the tidings of great joy, that Christ Jesus was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. All the glorious transactions of the everlasting God, in the salvation and justification of his chosen, are brought into view in the gospel, declaring the Son of God to be the Husband of the church. And so in oneness is the church accounted to be with Christ, that she stands forth in him before the Majesty in the heavens in eternal excellency, holy, unblamable and unreprovable, and the Lord declares, “This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” – Jer. xxxiii. 16. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that jnstifieth, who is he that condemnetht Her Husband hath died for her, yea, rather he is risen again, and is even at the right hand of God, and maketh intercession for her. O, it is sweet to sing,
“My beloved Intercessor stands before the throne of God,
Pleading for a vile transgressor, his atoning, precious blood.
Precious Jesus, O how sweet to live on the.”
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ!
“Jesus loved, and loves forever,
Sion on his heart does dwell;
He will never, never, never
Leave his church a prey to hell:
All is settled, and my soul approves it well.”
While I have been writing the last few minutes I have felt that the things of which we speak are in realms divine, far removed from what the depraved mind of man can attain unto. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” If it were not for the teaching of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, how could a creature, a sinful creature, dare reach unto and indulge the thought that our Maker is our Husband! There is something so very sacred in all this, that God should reveal unto his people that he has brought them into such union with himself in Christ Jesus our Lord, the Incarnate Son of God. This is the holy of holies which the uncircumcised in heart can never enter.
I have written lengthily enough for a letter, and have but penned an introduction to the subject of the jealousy of the Lord. I have just been perusing again your good letter, and I feel there is a oneness of Spirit cementing us in those things that relate to God. All the struggles and conflicts that attend our life cannot bring to naught the life of faith which we live upon the Son of God. Oar sinfulness, the temptations and cares of our lives are only as a furnace for the trial of our faith, which shall be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
I am your brother in the fellowship of the gospel,
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
VOL. 69., NO. 3.
FEBRUARY 1, 1901.