Middletown, N. Y., July 10, 1900.
Elder F. A. Chick – Dear Brother In The Lord: – Your kind, welcome letter came yesterday, and I am glad to know that I am still remembered by you, and also by the other friends at Hopewell, N. J. Even in the depths of sorrow and affliction, our hearts are made glad when we have the assurance of the love and fellowship of the saints. To know in sickness that they are praying for our recovery, and in affliction that they are praying for God’s presence to be with us, and his everlasting arms underneath ns, that we may be supported and sustained in the trial of our faith, which is more precious than that of gold, which perisheth not, though it be tried with fire, is truly a comfort and help. Yet at the time, our trial cannot be seen to be to this end, else it would cease to be a trial; for “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grevious: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” I feel that I do know what sorrow is, and affliction has been my lot for years. I hope that I do fully realize what the chastenings of our God are, and that they are all sent in love, that the saints may be partakers of his glory. They all are exercised thereby and come forth as gold from the furnace, which is purified and shining, and as Moses on the mount, they reflect the glory of God. The fathers and mothers in Israel behold the shining after the burning by deep affliction, and trial, and sorrow, of the babes, and are made to shout for joy, and to sing, “Glory to God in the highest,” who hath ordained praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. How wonderful indeed are the teachings of God, what a peculiar school; one teacher, one class, and above all, the still small voice. I often doubt if indeed I know anything of these things, I go on from day to day hoping that I may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; when night falls around I ask, Have I been taught anything to-day? and always have to say no, I am the same poor, ignorant worm of the dust that I have ever been. I am not exercised by my trials and afflictions, and if in the school at all, I am dull, slow to understand, and often do not seem to know or think that the hand of God is upon me. I have never been able to say with Job, “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” O, that I might be able to say in truth these words, but it seems that it is not for me. How different it has been with me from what I hoped or expected in my first experience, even before I had a hope, I then boasted that if ever I was a christian, I would be a model one, I would be an example for men to follow. After the hope came, I did hope soon to be better, and to go on to grow in grace, and to be a perfect man, but how short of all this I have come, I realize every day that I cannot do the things that I would; sometimes I feel that I would like for the brethren to know me just as I am, and at other times I would not have them to know me in that way for the world, for then surely I should be cut off from them, and of all things in the world, I dread that most, yet I fear that some day I shall be a castaway. My conversation does not seem to me godly, and my walk not circumspect, and my thoughts like the fool’s eye, wandering to the ends of the earth, and with Paul I often say, “O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
When I began to write, I only intended to acknowledge your letter, and state the condition of my health, but what I have written I have written. You have heard through others of my recent illness, from which I am now steadily recovering, and I think that in a few more weeks, I will be able to again meet my appointments. My sufferings were great, I never expect to suffer more when the time shall come to end the scene, it would be impossible to describe the agony, not only of body but also of mind. You stated in your letter that you hoped that I had been made to hope during my sickness. I thought, how differently from Elder Durand, was I dealt with, while he realized the presence of God, and could feel his sustaining power, and the sweet peace of mind, which passeth all understanding, and realize that all was right, because the Lord did it, such was not the case with me. If ever, since I have been given a hope, I have been without it utterly, it was during my illness, from the first of it until now, I can hardly dare say that I have a hope in the mercy of God at all. I have often quoted the words of the Savior in his dying hour, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” but never in all my life did I know what they meant until now, when it seemed to me a few hours would end the scene with me. This was my experience; O, the darkness of mind I can never tell, it seemed my hope was gone, not one thing in the past could I bud to relieve me, not the slightest evidence could I find that I was born of God, it was like taking a leap in the dark, and if ever I quote again those words of anguish, I shall know better than I did before what they mean.
Last Sunday I was able to ride down to the meeting-house, and hear Elder McCounell preach, and was comforted to find that I did know the joyful sound.
My wife joins me in love to you and family, and to all the dear friends who manifest such au interest in my welfare. I hope that I appreciate their interest in my welfare. As ever your brother I hope, in the bonds of life,
H. C. KER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 16.
AUGUST 15, 1900.