How unknown to those who know not God are those moments, given to the called of God, of nearness of access unto God. Here the soul pours forth its moans and longings, and adoration, and we are bowed in sacred worship at the throne of his grace. A few hours ago I sat reading the Scriptures, and found the word sweet, and my heart was stirred. Then certain persons came into my mind; my reading was suspended, and my heart went out in prayer to God for them. I mentally viewed their circumstances, burdens, temptations, and trials they were then enduring, and this was the burden of my prayer: Be merciful and gracious unto them, and let all these things work together for their good.
As I sat thus in prayer to God, my thoughts were turned to myself, and I felt in my heart, O that all things might work together for my good; and in an instant I felt, How can the great and holy God be good to me? How can he who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, ordain that all things shall work together for my good? How can he have a thought toward me? How can he delight in me? In the twinkling of an eye, I looked over my whole life, what I have been, – all unrighteousness – what I am even now in my Adamic nature. I saw myself utterly unworthy. I saw myself as a very abject, unholy, unclean, vile transgressor, ungodly. O the immeasurable gulf I saw between the Holy One of Israel and me, a sinner! I saw myself base, to be despised, a fit object for the just condemnation of God, meet to be under the curse of the law. I found my heart much moved, so humbled under the sight; the tears came into my eyes, and under the dreadful consciousness of what I am in my vile nature, I moaned and cried unto God, Do not abhor me, cast me not away. Then came with all graciousness the words to my heart, “to them who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” What! Can a vile, sinful being love the just and holy God? O, I feel I love God, and I love him as revealed in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Love I much? I’ve much forgiven;
I’m a miracle of grace.”
Once I was altogether enmity against God, alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in me, because of the blindness of my heart; but the Lord has, I hope, called me by his grace; he drew me, a wretched, guilty sinner, unto himself, brought me with a broken and contrite heart at his feet, crying for mercy. Surely he gave me a heart to know him (Jer. 24:7). As it is written, “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34). And unto me Jesus became precious, and to this day he is most precious to my soul; and I, a poor sinner, love him, – yes, I love the dear incarnate Son of God, the Lamb of God, our Saviour. “To them who are the called according to his purpose.” Called by God’s grace, called unto the fellowship of the incarnate Son of God, called to the inheritance of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, called unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus. I was comforted as the blessedness of the gospel of God’s grace was unfolded to my tried soul, and I saw in that moment my acceptance in the beloved Savior, the Head of the church, all according to the eternal purpose, everlasting love, and mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.
“O! wondrous grace, and mystery profound;
In God’s eternal purpose I was found;
His sovereign love, His grace, His deep decree,
In some mysterious way included me.”
O these precious, sacred verities came to my heart with comforting power, and I was nourished by the consolations of our Beloved, and was filled with joy and peace in believing.
“Whate’er thou deniest, O give me thy grace;
The Spirit’s sure witness and smiles of thy face;
Indulge me with patience to wait at thy throne,
And find even now some sweet foretastes of home.”
Thus once more I feel I can say, I have known in my soul the gospel of Christ in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. And as the tribes of Israel of old worshipped God by the shedding of the blood of a lamb in the morning and evening sacrifice, so the spiritual Israel, the true worshippers of God, unto this day draw nigh unto God continually by the one offering of Christ, the Lamb of God. O children of God, the throne at which we worship is the throne of God and the Lamb (Rev. 5:6-14; 22:3). He once was slain; he gave himself an offering and a sacrifice unto God for a sweet smelling savor, to wash away our sins in his precious blood, to obtain eternal redemption for us. But Christ Jesus the Lamb liveth again; he arose from the tomb, and ascended to heaven, and was received up unto glory, and he is set down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. He is enthroned; he reigns, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, loved, believed in and worshipped by all the blood-washed church of God, the redeemed of the Lord, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, and every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever,” (Rev. 5:12-14).
My heart is saying, “Amen,” too. O the contrast between this scene and that portrayed in the next chapter! “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:14-17).
O the comfort and delight of my yearning heart is to behold the Lamb in the midst of the throne, by faith to see the Lamb that was slain, and who liveth again, even Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor. For all my expectations of forgiveness, cleansing, righteousness, justification, salvation and of being brought unto glory, is by him. From the throne of God and the Lamb even now, by faith, I blessedly realize there flows unto me the pure river of water of life, clear as crystal (Rev. 22:1). Here I drink the river of his pleasures (Psa. 36:8).
“I taste, delight succeeds to woe;
I bathe, no waters cleanse me so;
Such joy and purity to share,
I could remain enraptured there.”
FREDERICK W. KEENE