RALEIGH, North Carolina.
DEAR KINDRED IN CHRIST JESUS: - There are periods in our lives when our pathway is in the sea; we are called to pass through the rivers. But in the deeps is ours to prove that underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut. xxxii. 27.) Jonah's hell! Where that sinful, rebellious, one was swallowed up was God's love school. Hath not the Lord said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten"? - Rev. iii. 19. The God of his mercy taught Jonah that he had been observing lying vanities, and in so doing had forsaken his own mercies. "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains: the earth with her bars was about me for ever:, yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer, came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the land." How sacredly wonderful, what riches of grace to a vile transgressor is declared in all this. This is reigning grace. For a sinful, rebellious, vile transgressor to be drawn, inspired by the Holy Spirit, so ministered unto by the Spirit of Truth of the things of Christ that we rise up with the wings of faith, with a humble arid contrite heart,, and in our supplications to come in unto the Lord, to fall before the throne of God and the Lamb, and there tell our troubles, there pour forth our miseries, and plead for, yes, receive also, mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Oh to see the Lamb in the midst, of the throne; the Lamb that was slain, and who liveth again, our precious Christ and Savior, who gave himself a sacrifice for us, whose precious blood cleanseth us from all sin. Oh let me but drink of the pure river of the water of life that proceedeth from the throne of God and the Lamb, then all is well; for all the sure mercies of the everlasting covenant are mine, and I am comforted and abundantly satisfied with the goodness of the Lord. Oh the blessedness to go forth in faith and love with the Lamb in the midst of the throne, who feedeth us in the green pastures, and leadeth us unto living fountains of waters: and God wipeth away all tears from our eyes. (Rev. vii. 17.) But it is not always thus with me. Ah no I To my shame I have to tell there have been dreadful times, when there is a devil to do in my soul; for the devil cometh to me in my tribulations, a pitying devil, telling me my lot is hard, that the Lord is putting upon me more than my share of troubles, and that others of the household are not so tried, and not called into such straits, that they have a smooth path and mine is a rough one. Soon I am tempest-tossed indeed, my vile nature, the ocean of my corruptions is all in commotion, and the restless waves run high. I am filled with envy and jealousies toward the people of God, and in my fretful heart there dares to arise the thought that our heavenly Father is not impartial, that he has his favorites in the family, and I am not one, and in these wicked, cruel imaginations oh what a sea of wretchedness I am plunged into. I envy, I am jealous, I do not think kindly of the children of God, I am as one thrust out from among them, I am in a troublesome mood, and the tempest continues its ragings. Ah, I am not strong enough to quell this disgraceful uprising, I am conscious that I am vile, perverse, fit for God's reprobation; I sigh, and moan, and weep over my estate; I loathe myself, and yet I cannot put an end to it. I am tossed with tempest, and so discomfited I am at my wits' end; I am bewildered, I feel I have no wisdom to know what to do. But our God hears my sighs and moans, he knows my distresses. "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee." - Psalms lxix. 5. The God of all grace, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He rideth upon the storm; he has the dominion of all things. He can quiet the raging of all seas, when the waves thereof arise he stilleth them. Oh I have found he has but to speak a word of his grace to my soul and all is a calm, Satan has fled, and my vile imaginations have been cast down, forgiveness, riches of mercy are mine, and then I sail on the ocean of his loving-kindness. Then in my happiness and adoring love I marvel, I say, Why, O Christ, hast thou shed thy blood for me I Why didst thou not leave me to perish in my sins? But thou hut called me (a vile transgressor) to know thee in all thine excellencies declared unto the people in the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and thou art mine, my God, my salvation, and I, a wretched, base nothing, am thine in Christ Jesus, the Son of thy love.
O Lord, how forgetful, ungrateful, how foolish, repeatedly so, am I. Surely I have wearied thee with my iniquities, and made thee to serve with my sins, and now thou tellest me thou hut redeemed me, and I am thine. O Christ most precious, thou art in my heart the hope of eternal glory. Oh that I could love thee, serve thee, cleave to thee, never stray away, never have a wrong thought of thee, that I could glorify thee in my body and spirit, which are thine. Ah, what paradoxes such contradictions are in my life. But, O the divine blessedness that I, a poor sinner, while in tribulations, while walking in the midst of trouble, should experience the revivings of the gracious God. (Psalms cxxxviii. 7.) The Lord bringeth us into truthfulness to lean upon our Beloved (Solomon's Song viii. 5), to be in submission, yes, even to loving acquiescence to all providences, and thus through floods and flames hold on our way, for his grace is our sufficiency, and sometimes in oar very conflicts we sing, "In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us." - Rom. viii. 37. Let me still relate some matters of my soul's experience. When for a little space the path is smooth we may think we have sufficient grace to tread even a rough wilderness beneath our feet, to encounter whatever may be in the future. Oar thoughts are that we have an abundance of grace: we hardly need all the money we have in our purse. But when trials and conflicts meet us and swallow us up, then we find we have none too much strength and grace in our possession, scarcely enough for these adverse days, and we are constrained to go to our heavenly Banker quite frequently, not only for small sums, but we must ask for, we feel we must have, quite a large amount to carry us through our adversities; and though we are timid sometimes in our asking, Christ Jesus, our smiling Banker, says, My grace is sufficient for my strength is made perfect in thy ness; of my fullness thou shalt receive, and grace for grace; I am thy all, I in you all. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and I be opened unto you. When I hear this encouraging, blessed doctrine of Christ it entereth my soul, then I consider him, the great High Priest of our profession, who knows how to succor them that are tempted. I am so encouraged that I come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain all that I need. Oh he abundantly pardons, and much forgiveness I feel must be my portion; he healeth all my soul's maladies, he has the healing medicines, and bringeth me health and cure, and abundance of peace is mine. Here I am at the mercy-seat, and He that dwelleth between the cherubims shines forth, and lifts up the light of his countenance upon me, the poor sinner. Hath not the Lord. said, "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"? - Exod. xxv. 22. There are times when I see my vanity, my folly, my vileness, my heart wanderings, my goings astray far from the realms of communion with the Lord. I am made to feel this (what a mercy is this) and I am brought to confess unto my God I am base, to be despised, I am worthless; then also I see, I feel, I know that my God is the Holy One that inhabiteth eternity. And I? I am vile, I loathe myself in my own sight. Then also I see that under his chastening providences I have been fretful, forgetful of his kindness, I have gone on frowardly, I have turned unto him the back and not the face. Ah! oh how wretched I have been, what a contemptible worm I am, I hardly know how to describe the meanness in which I have had to know myself. Some years ago I could not have believed that I could have been so contrary, so angry, so quarrelsome with the Lord because of providences. I have looked upon myself as though I were one that spit in his face when he pleaded with me. I feel it is dreadful to write this, but I cannot find wilder language to set forth the horrible condition that my soul was in some time ago. I thought of Jonah's impudence. The Lord said to him, "Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death." - Jonah iv. 9. But I have seen myself far more perverse that Jonah. I am not writing this to condone his shameful behavior, or to make light of my own shame. I am humbled, I sigh, I hate myself, my heart melteth even now in remembering my quarreling with the all-wise and gracious God, for I do acknowledge in my heart that all his ways are judgment, a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. Oh from that time to which I am alluding had he henceforth never spoken another kind word, had he never smiled upon me again, had he never shown mercy to me any more, what could I say? But the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. So the Lord looked upon me, and said, Have I not loved thee with an everlasting love? and I fell with a humble and contrite heart, with weeping and supplications, and in love's adoration, at his feet. The God of our salvation has not answered me according to my deserts, he has not dealt with me after my sins, nor rewarded me according to my transgressions, but he does in the exceeding riches of his grace abundantly pardon. O blood, blood! the precious blood of Christ the Lamb, "without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." - 1 Peter i. 19-21. Oh this is the channel in which my faith and hope is in God.
"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head."
Frederick W. Keene.
Signs of the Times
Volume 90, No. 19 &nbshp; October 1, 1922