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THE VILENESS OF OUR NATURE

If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction; for it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvelous upon me. Thou renewest thy witnesses (margin “plagues”), against me, and increaseth thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me (Job 10:15-17).

I feel I can in some little degree enter into this. My own soul’s affairs are full of changes. Oft I am constrained to groan beneath the vileness that infests my life, Job said, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:4). Surely no one can be more vile than I. O the self-loathing and abasement that is mine; and yet I feel I do not loathe myself as I ought. I am astonished at the continued scenes of the deep, dark depravity that I am made to see, and to feel too. Ah, it is not as a mere onlooker that I see the pride, the lust, the hellish blackness of my nature. O the stench of my carnal heart! O the horrors that creep over my soul as the pit of corruption closes in upon me, and I feel to sink in the deep mire. Ah, those sunned faced professors who can always testify of their delight in God, and how happy they are in Jesus can have no use for me, and I suppose I should be a nuisance in the presence of these self-satisfied ones. Nevertheless I had rather have my griefs than their joy, my dark hours than their sunshine. Ah yes, I would sooner have my rugged tried pathway than their easy going, smooth way. But there is a state I dread more than all, that is, when notwithstanding all my sinfulness I find I am so hardened, there is not a sigh escapes me, I am as one dead in all the filth and abominations of my flesh. Then, before long, I find that questioner, and accuser puts in his appearance in the field, and I am stricken and thrust through on every hand. Then, as it were, I awaken as one that has been dreaming on the brink of a precipice. Ah! I am too far gone, and down, down I am plunged in the abyss of corruptions. Surely this is the belly of hell to my soul, and here the adversary presseth me sore. Ah, those easy going Christians will think of me, “He no doubt is a great sinner, or he would not be punished like that.” I can say, Ah, yes, I know in my heart I am a great sinner, I know no greater, yet in my outward walk perhaps I could say, “I am not inferior to you” (Job 12:3). Perhaps the outside of my cup and platter is almost as clean as yours. But to my grief, to my anguish of heart I find all uncleanness, and such uncleanness as I am not able to subdue, to exterminate. If sighs, and tears, and prayers would wash me white as snow; then surely I should find by this time some spots clean. But no, year by year I am consciously more unholy, so vile! Others may not be so, but it is my grief that I am such a wretch. Can God save a wretch like me? Ah, when I have felt to be plunged into the deep, and distracted by the insinuations of the devil, my God does not utterly cast off a worthless wretch. O no! It is wonderful! He turns my thoughts unto Himself. I remember His former loving-kindnesses. So, amidst all my stinking wounds, out of the horrible pit and miry clay, I sigh and cry, Lord, look down from heaven and behold a poor and sinful worm, I am vexed and tried with this unclean heart of mine; questionings, fears roll in upon my soul, and I sink beneath their waves. O Lord, dost thou not know my troubled state? Wilt thou not have compassion on me? Forsake me not utterly, O God, though base and vile thou knowest I am, oh, for Jesus’ sake break through this gloom, and give my soul one glance of pity. One ray of sunshine from thy face, oh fair Redeemer. Oh, for a word of pardoning mercy. Oh, for a thrill of life, reconciliation, and peace from thee in the precious blood and righteousness of the Lamb of God. This would heal all the maladies of my soul, and I should come forth, and live in thy sight to praise thee, O my God.

O the matchless, reigning grace of God! Even this day I was so full of cares, so plagued, so tossed about, craving, craving something, I hardly knew what. But that precious something that I needed the Lord knew, and He had the answer ready before I called (Isaiah 65:24). I took up a hymn book and read:

“When rocks and mountains rent with dread,
And gaping graves gave up their dead,
When the fair sun withdrew his light,
And hid his face to shun the sight;

Then stood a wretch of human race,
And raised his head, and showed his face;
Gazed unconcerned, when nature failed,
And scoffed, and sneered, and cursed, and railed!

Harder than rocks and mountains are
More dull than dirt, and earth by far,
Man viewed unmoved thy blood’s rich stream,
Nor ever dreamt it flowed for him.

Such was that race of sinful men,
That gained that great salvation then!
Such, and such only, still we see:
Such were they all, and such are we.

Soldiers with thorns His temples crowned
And lashed Him when His hands were bound:
But thorns, and knotted, whips and bands
By us were furnished to their hands.

They nailed Him to the accursed tree:
They did, my brethren, so did we,
The soldier pierced His side, ‘tis true,
But we have pierced Him through and through.”

I could read no more, I was filled with emotions. I saw myself so vile, such grief I felt as I gazed upon the man of sorrows and such desires flowed forth unto the dear Savior, I wanted to clasp Him in my arms and call Him mine. Oh, He was mine! I felt in my heart, He is mine, and said, “I will creep beside Him like a worm and see Him die for me.” O what I need is the voice of thy precious blood, dear Lamb of God, that speaketh better things than that Of Abel’s.

Some whose lives appear to be calm, and holy, who appear to always have peace, and rest satisfied in the doctrine of salvation by grace, dislike and are off ended with such language as, hell-deserving sinner, a vile and abominable wretch, but what words can a sinner like me make use of? They all appear too tame to describe what I am in such distress over when the Holy Spirit gives me a sight of myself. I would I were pure and holy even as my God. For this I sigh, for this I pant. Oh, when shall the hope of righteousness through the obedience and blood of the Lamb have its consummation? In eternal glory. When Thou, O my God, at death shall receive my spirit to Thyself; when at the last trump Thou shalt come, O Redeemer, the Resurrection and the Life to call forth the ransomed bodies of thy people from the dead. Thou shalt change our vile bodies, and in immortality, in incorruption, and in glory they shall rise, then body, soul and spirit we shall be holy and without blame before Thee in love. Till then, oh, grant me that portion to wait, as Thy dear apostle has written, “We through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness through faith.” Oh, I love to see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, even the same dear and precious Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. When thus by faith I am looking unto Jesus who has gone into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us. I find hope springing up, as a well of living waters, that I shall ascend too, and be crowned with Jesus, with glory and honor. Oh even now I taste (as I am writing this) this blessedness, a foretaste, the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14). This is as the beauteous bow in the cloud. But for a moment I look into that dark, dark cloud. I have to say of myself, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness (Psalm 38:5).

I loathe myself because of the abominable filth that is in me (Ezek. 6:9). I say this is the “lowest hell” (Psalm 86:14). There was once in my life, and perhaps only that once, a time when it seemed to me I tasted the depths of misery, and then a sip of heaven, can I ever forget it? I so loathed myself, and screamed aloud in my anguish. I so loathed myself I think I could enter into the meaning of the one who wrote,

“Vain toad, too filthy to be damned,
Else in his face the Judge had slammed
The door of darksome hell;
He feared the vile infernal crew,
Back to the earth the wretch would spue,
Too black with them to dwell.”

As a very leper, I am made to cry, “Unclean, unclean” (Lev. 12:45).

There are moments when I see and feel “from the sole of the foot, even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:6).

O the exceeding riches of that grace of God that saveth a sinner like me!

FREDERICK W. KEENE,
Raleigh, NC

THE LONE PILGRIM,
Volume 7, No. 73,
June 1929