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As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 5:14,15

DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST: - Ever since my acquaintance with the SIGNS I have felt a desire to write some word of comfort or encouragement to the dear saints that are scattered abroad. The above Scripture is one that gives me great comfort when my sins press heavily upon me; when the serpent {the seed of sin in my flesh} inflicts his painful and would be fatal wounds. Bitten and dying, Jesus my Saviour is lifted up to me, and I look and live. I have been especially impressed to write something from this Scripture, since hearing it so often quoted and misapplied by the Arminians.

We read that as Israel journeyed from Mount Hor, to compass the land of Edom, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died. To meet this emergency, the Lord commanded Moses to make a serpent and put it upon a pole. And it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he was healed. This serpent was a type of Christ, for he is the reality of all the types, the substance of all the shadows, the fulfillment of all prophecy, and the way, the truth and the life. But does it not appear strange that a serpent, the very essence of iniquity, the ideal of an uncleanness, should be taken as a type of our dear Redeemer, the immaculate Son of God, who was always holy and separate from sinners? Adored be his precious name, he was made sin for us. God predestinated him to be sin for his chosen, before sin was permitted to enter the world. He goes before his church in all things; inasmuch as he was predestinated to be sin for us, we must fall in Adam. Joseph, a type of Christ was sent into Egypt before Israel, the type of the church; and as Joseph was sent before, Israel must follow. There is no frustrating the purpose and grace of our God. So we see this type is very suggestive of the great humiliation of the Redeemer in becoming sin for us, in being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemning sin in the flesh.

“Even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” The serpent was lifted up in the camp of Israel, after they left Egypt. It was not lifted up in Egypt, and a general proclamation made to all who would to look and come out. Nor is Christ lifted up in the world, as the Arminians do vainly preach, that every one who will may look to him and come out of Egypt, or bondage in sin; but he is lifted up in the camp of Israel, {the church,} that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. Remember that Israel was not bitten by the serpents until they came out of Egypt. So we are never troubled nor feel our sins until we are born again. We feel no need of Christ until our omnipotent God, with a high hand and outstretched arm, brings us out of Egypt. Then we realize our condition; we find ourselves in the midst of a wilderness, bitten by the fiery serpents, and having no skill or remedy in ourselves to heal the deadly venom of the sting. This flying fiery serpent is the seed of sin in the flesh; for the Scripture says, “Out of the serpent’s root shall come a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.” This root and its fruit is in us by nature, but we never taste its bitterness until born again, and the Spirit or seed of eternal life is manifested in us, and through this perfect life we realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

When grieved and tormented with the burden of our sins, with no power to deliver ourselves, how often do we desire, as Israel did, to go back into Egypt, where we received none of these plagues. As it is written, “But we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread.” Jeremiah 42.14. Thus it is with the poor, wretched sinner when called by grace. How often would we go back to our condition of carnal security. But strive as we may, we never can get back. God has commenced the work, and he will perform it. Whither shall we fly from his presence? If we take the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, he is there. If we make our bed in hell, behold, he is there. There in no possible way of escape from the call of our God. This I know by experience; for if ever I was made a Christian, it was directly against the will of the flesh; and if I could have driven the Spirit from me, I would have done so, for it was indeed mortifying to my carnality. But thanks be to his adorable name, what he does is perfect, and must stand forever. When he by his own finger writes his law in the heart, neither the will of the flesh nor the combined powers of hell can ever erase it.

It is when in this condition that Jesus is lifted up to us. “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He is our life, our hope, our way, our all in all. In all our troubles, in all our sorrows, he is lifted up to us, and we look to him by the faith of the Son of God, as our Mediator, our Prophet, Priest and King. He is making intercession for us at the right hand of God. O may we trust our all to him. He undertook our redemption, and he accomplished it. All the blood-bought seed, who were loved of God before the foundation of the world, shall be gathered and saved by Christ, notwithstanding all our troubles, all our conflicts, and all our adversaries; for Jesus Christ is lifted up to save them, and what can hinder it?

Yours in hope of eternal life,
Newfoundland, Ky., April 3, 1883.