O What to a child of God can be bitterer than to be given over to be chastened by his own iniquities? “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee.” – Jer. ii. 19. I ask again, What is more aggravating, what can inflict more cruel torture to those who are born of God, than to be for a time as it were, given up as a prey to the vilenesses of our flesh; when sinful thoughts as ravaging beasts of prey rove through the land, biting and devouring, and laying waste every pleasant thing! Ah, then my vineyard is eaten up and trodden down. (Isaiah v. 5.) “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” When God saith this it is to chasten Ephraim, and in the end he will make him heartily sick of idols, and Ephraim shall cry, “What have I to do any more with idols?” – Hosea xiv. 8. O, the deceitfulness of sin! Have you ever been in that wretched place where you have brooded over some injury or fancied injury that you have received at the bands of some one, and have found yourself indulging hard, bitter thoughts? Do we forgive them their trespasses? O no, we are deceived by our vile hearts (which are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked) to think that we are justified in harboring and nursing our injured feelings, and vile, unforgiving spirit that has taken possession of us. So from morn till eve we brood over the wrongs that have been inflicted upon us till the sunlight and blessedness of our life is gone. O, an unforgiving spirit is a fretting sore that as it were eats out our very life; it will so torture and vex the soul till at length it will bring us into the depths of hell. O, beloved of God, I know it is so, for my soul has bitterly proved it. If captivated with an unforgiving spirit, we shall be driven by it into realms far off from God. The Lord delighteth in mercy, he abundantly pardons, (Micah vii. 18,) and he says by the mouth of the apostle Paul, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” O, how blissful are the realms of forgiveness! When God has sore chastened us beneath our own unforgiving spirit, when he has shewn us how unlike Jesus we have been, then he has brought us to loathe ourselves, and we have cried unto him to deliver us from our hard feelings, to quench and quell our unchristlike spirit, and we have implored him to give us a kind and tender heart, that compassion and love might rule in us. Ah, when we have with shame and grief confessed our guilt before the Lord, and his own pardoning love again we have felt, then by faith we know that in God’s presence is fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore. O, the blessedness of the man whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered, and a kindred blessedness is also our pleasant portion when we feel in our very heart we forgive every one his trespasses against us. Sometimes the voice of our God I hear saying, “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Those precious words have been to me as the light of God’s eyes penetrating my wayward, dark path, and I have felt, “Thou God seest me.” One glance of thine, eternal God, pierces all nature through. There is no creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. O, dear kindred in Christ, I am not able to tell you fully how this glorious truth affects me, when with divine power it falls upon my spirit, a sacred awe possesses me; I have trembled at the presence of the Lord, and have felt how dreadful is this place. “His eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men.”
“Great God, thy penetrating eye.
Pervades my inmost powers;
With awe profound my wondering soul
Falls prostrate and adores.”
In the light of God’s countenance I have seen that I was out of the ways of pleasantness, and the paths of peace; I have felt that his reproofs were in love, and that he was full of tender mercy toward a poor sinner, and I have mourned before him and cried, I have gone astray like a lost sheep; take me out of all the entanglements of my iniquities, and let me not forget thy commandments. My way, since first with affection I thought upon the Lord, has been so intricate, such a riddle, blessedness and sorrow have been my heritage, my attainments have been few, and my non-attainments are ever before me; sweet peace I have known, victory I have tasted, but at times I have such a bleared view of it all, that my whole life appears as a succession of defeats, failure after failure, an utter failure am I. Yet in the midst of these failures and defeats I have been taught by the Comforter to look with all my heart to our dear Savior, to the fountain of his precious blood shed for the remission of sins, then thus believing, strength has been given me, and in my heart has been the song, “We shall be more than conquerors through him that loved us.” It is written, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jer. xvii. 10. This essential attribute of Deity is ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ, (Rev. ii. 23,) declaring his own essential Deity. When I have contemplated this I have felt to rejoice with trembling before him; yes, I have supplicated our glorious Mediator, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I believe he answers my prayers, shewing me often that I am a poor, sinful worm, yes, and I believe he leads me in the way everlasting. This precious and divine way is indeed the path of life, (Psalm xvi. 11,) the highway of holiness, (Isaiah xxxv. 3,) the new and living way, (Heb. x. 20,) wherein by faith we walk in peace with God. See the vast multitudes chasing after very soap-bubbles, religious myths, fine spun theories, heartless, hairsplitting metaphysics, which they vainly believe, and would have others accept as the religion of Jesus Christ. Ah, my Savior and Friend, the Author and Finisher of the faith of all the elect, let me live by faith in simplicity on Thee, that precious faith may be in my mouth and in my heart saying, Christ descended and is risen from the dead, and hath ascended on high, the first-fruits of them that slept. (Romans x. 8.) This is the everlasting way from sin to holiness, from the curse to blessedness, from death to life, from earth to heaven, from Satan to God, and those who are sanctified by the Spirit walk therein in faith and love to God and to the way everlasting. The gracious and efficacious work of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the redeemed is far beyond bare theories of doctrine in our natural intellect. By his almighty power there is wrought in us the fear of the Lord. (Jer. xxxii. 40.) And what is this precious fear of the Lord! It is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death. This fear of the Lord is to love him, to hate all evil; yes, this fear is such that the Lord and every revelation of his will is held fast in our hearts in holy and affectionate reverence.
FRED. W. KEENE.
North Berwick, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 10.
MAY 15, 1900.