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JOHN VI. 67.

“WILL ye also go away?”

BELOVED IN THE LORD: – A little while ago the following words came into my mind, and as I thought over them my heart was exercised with varied emotions:

“When any turn from Zion’s way –
Alas, What numbers do?
Methinks I hear my Savior say,
Wilt thou forsake me, too?

Ah, Lord, with such a heart as mine,
Unless thou hold me fast,
I fear I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last.”

When our Savior was upon the earth many professedly believing disciples went back and walked no more with him. There are those whom the apostle Paul speaks of who draw back unto perdition, in whom he saith, “My soul hath no pleasure.” These have “forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balsam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” There are men who turn from the holy commandment; such depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. How dreadful is the condition of men who bring in damnable heresies and pervert the gospel of Christ. Though they sport themselves with their own deceivings, their damnation slumbereth not. We cannot bid such Godspeed, for God has not sent them, and he does not speed them. “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” – Jer. xxiii. 21. Some go away from the profession of Christ’s name, and fall into sin, and walk in open immorality. Such a career’ is dreadful to contemplate. Others who once professed to love Jesus Christ are now indifferent, they are gone into the world, there endured for awhile, but God’s truth had no deep root in them, also thorns and briers have choked their profession, and there is nothing in their lives in word or walk to declare that they have been with Jesus.

“Will ye also go away?” Was it not Jesus Christ who drew us to himself? and have we not found him to be the Fountain of living waters? Unto you that believe, he is precious. Yes, and in my inmost heart I have sung:

“Jesus is all I wish or want;
For thee I sigh, for thee I pant;
Let others after earth aspire,
Christ is the treasure I desire.”

And yet to my shame I must own my backslidings in heart have been many. But it is written in the new covenant, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” How very comforting was this verse to me awhile ago. The apostle Peter, in answer to Christ’s question, “Will ye also go away?” exclaimed, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter could see no place, and no one to whom he should go. To him, and to all poor sinners who are taught of the Lord, it is so essential for their comfort, their nourishment in life unto the Lord their God, that Christ shall speak to them, all the days of their journey, the words of eternal life. No one has these words to speak, they flew from Emmanuel’s lips. His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son the words of life eternal. His name is, The Word of God. (Rev. xix. 13; John i. 1.) But let us hear the voice of our God in the everlasting covenant: “I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” – Jer. xxx. 40. In the eternal counsel of his will he chose his people unto himself in Christ Jesus, and blessed them in him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, and in his everlasting love, his unspeakable, covenant, immutable love he saith, “I will not turn away from them.” They are ever contemplated in Christ Jesus their Lord, their covenant Head, and he will rest in his love. “I will not turn away from them.” O, dear children of God, this is our security, our happiness, the rock of our steadfastness in the faith. Surely we shall cleave to Jesus Christ, our dear Redeemer, for he cleaves unto us. “I will not turn away from them.” He does not become tired of his own, he will not cast away his people whom he foreknew, whom he hath loved from eternity; he will hold them fast unto himself. “I will not turn away from them.” How can we turn away from him? O what shameful behavior to do so. Have we ever treacherously departed from Jesus the Savior, the Lamb of God? Have we ever been drawn aside and wandered away? Surely shame and confusion of face belong unto us, and onto the Lord our God belongeth mercies. Saith the Lord, “I will not turn away from them, to do them good.” This is what we poor sinners need. We need the gracious ministrations of our covenant God, his acts of tender mercy; we need continual sustenance, we need to live upon, to feed upon the words of eternal life. O precious Jesus, thou hast the words of eternal life. There is no other one, there is no other fountain of blessedness, of forgiveness, of salvation, of righteousness, of justification, of eternal life and glory. Our God does so often, so graciously do us good in and through Jesus Christ, our covenant Head. The Holy Ghost in covenant love glorifies our precious Christ and takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto us. O truly this does us good. Compared with the good things in Christ Jesus there are no good things; all things else in comparison are but dung and dross.

“Compared with Christ, in all beside
No comeliness I see;
The one thing needful, dearest Lord,
Is to be one with thee.

The sense of thy redeeming love
Into my soul convey;
Thyself bestow, for thee alone
My All-in-All I pray.”

“I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” O this sacred, undying, unquenchable fear of the Lord in our hearts is our preservation. Though we are tempted to stray away from Jesus, though we, through unbelief, wander from the Lord and are backsliders, this fear of the Lord shall not utterly perish in our souls, for Jehovah, our covenant God, hath said, “I will not turn away from them, to do them good.” He will do us good, he will heal our backslidings, he will chastise us in love, he will bring us with broken and contrite hearts to seek his face and to lie at his footstool. His sacred, precious fear in our hearts shall revive and grow and glow in divine warmth to our God and Father, and unto our precious Christ, in whom all the excellencies of our God are declared. Our hearts in very truth shall say, “Hallowed be thy name.” His fear shall so operate in our hearts “that [saith the Lord] they shall not depart from me.” Though we feel in our humility and grief to say,

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it!
Prone to leave the God I love,”

yet by the Lord doing us good we are brought to return again and again unto him, our Savior and our God. Those spurious disciples mentioned in the sixth chapter of John may become offended with Christ, go back and walk no more? with him, but, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me,” saith Christ, and his own elect are taught to know that all their hopes for time and eternity are centered in the Savior.

“Let earth’s alluring joys combine,
While thou art near in vain they call;
One smile, one blissful smile of thine,
My dearest Lord, outweighs them all.”

“Will ye also go away?” O dear Savior, let. us never part; shew me mercy, keep me near thee, cleaving to thee with full purpose of heart.

FREDERICK W. KEENE.
NORTH BERWICK, Maine.

Signs of the Times
Volume 82, No. 7
April 1, 1914