MIDDLETOWN, N. Y., Feb. 22, 1905.
Dr. B. F. Coulter – My Dear Brother: – A few days ago I received your welcome letter. For several weeks you had been much in my mind, and I had really been expecting a letter from you, but could not tell why, and now do not know why you should think of me and write, unless you realized in the spirit I am a companion to you in these dreadful and very peculiar exercises of mind and Soul of which you speak in your letter, Paul communed in the spirit with his brethren when in body they were separated by many miles. This communion is common to-day with the children of God. I believe, brother Coulter, you and I had such communion these last few weeks, though one hundred and sixty-five miles apart, The Spirit of Christ is one, and dwells in each member of his body, as the natural life is in each member of our earthly body. We are members one of another. This mysterious union is beyond our conception or comprehension, but faith lays hold upon the glorious truth and mystery, Christ manifest in the flesh. Where Christ is, there is communion and fellowship. As we speak or write these things we feel their assurance with power for the members of the body of Christ. But you know when the sons of God present themselves before the Lord, Satan is there also to present himself, (we feel to us more than to God) and he says to us, The body of Christ is perfect, each member as perfect as the head, and you know you are vile, unclean, hateful, deceitful, hypocritical, full of cursing and bitterness; every act you perform is utter selfishness, your walk in the church is merely mechanical, your manifested love is a lie, your humility is pride, your prayers are mockery, for many times when so engaged your mind is filled with some vain or vile subject, your professed fellowship is only for gain, your writings are not from the heart, but of the head, and for the purpose that you may have the applause of men. While Satan is said to be a liar from the beginning, he told Eve the truth when he said their eyes would be opened, and they should be as gods, knowing good and evil. (See Gen. iii. 22.) These above suggestions from him are in my case too true, too true. I believe, my brother, you are my companion in these trials of mind, and to Satan we are compelled to say, No, it cannot be that I am a member of the body of Christ. Where are past evidences, joys, songs of praise and heart-felt adoration to God? Gone, yes, and it seems forever. You say, “At such times we cannot walk in the beauty of holiness, nor can we write in the darkness.” Neither can we live without hope, and we long for renewed evidences (daily bread), but learn man is not to live by bread alone. How prone we are to think God is slack concerning his promise, one day, with him, is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. We can never have better or stronger evidence that we are members of his body than to be with him in the wilderness, in the garden and in prison, to be hungry and thirsty, sick and naked, weary and oppressed, crying with strong groanings and tears because of fear, striving against sin, praying to be delivered from our enemies, and in anguish of Soul ask, Why is the way so dark and the night so long? or why hast thou forsaken me? This was the life of Christ while here as a man, and it is his life still in each member of his body. I know well, my brother, what it is to be in the belly of hell, at the bottom of the mountains with the seaweeds wrapped about my head. Well do I know what it is to groan within myself passing under the rod. With all such I can walk in fellowship, I know little of bright and glorious experiences, and of wonderful visions and revelations. Jonah with his rebellion and running away from the Lord, and Peter with his denial of Jesus and his cursing and swearing, are more companionable to me than John with his ardent affection and love. Is there not a turning over to Satan in our experience for (he destruction of the flesh, as well as in the order of the house? Was it not so in the case of Job? While he was perfect in the sight of God through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, Job realized his experience to be needful, that he might be refined, and said, When I am tried (refined) I shall come forth as gold. The destruction of Job’s earthly passions represents all the passions of our carnal nature, these must be destroyed (consumed) that the spirit be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The image of Jesus can never be seen until all dross and tin are burned up, then his image appears in the gold (spirit); it cannot be seen in the flesh, for “the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
You ask why faith is not always in exercise? Because we do not need faith when we flunk evidences are so bright and clear that we can walk by sight. Faith is in exercise only when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, faith is the evidence of things not seen, it is never stronger than when all sight disappears and the darkness of night settles upon us. A few other evidences for the members of the body of Christ I will mention for your consideration and, I hope, comfort. Jesus said to the man sick of the palsy, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” The pharisees complained and said he spoke blasphemies. Jesus answered, “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk!” Hence to say, “Thy sins are forgiven,” is to say to the dead, Rise up and walk, and to say, Rise up and walk, is to say, “Thy sins are forgiven.” (See John v. 5, 9.) Every child of God realizes, as Paul did, he is dead, yet he lives. This is because his sins are forgiven; he is lame on both feet, yet he walks; he is blind, yet he sees what the world can never see; he is naked, yet he is clothed; he is poor, yet rich in faith and an heir of the kingdom; he is filled with unbelief, yet believes and cries. Lord, help thou my unbelief; he is a leper, yet he is permitted to mingle with the people of God; he is dumb, yet he speaks; he is cast down, but not destroyed; forsaken, but not alone; he doubts and fears, yet is in possession of a good hope through grace; he is cast out by men, yet sits down in the kingdom of God with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; he is vile and unclean, yet loved with an everlasting love. These are evidences of God’s mercy to poor sinners, and that we are members of his body. Many times the best evidences of our acceptance with him we count as the things which are against us. When the Lord showed Manoah and his wife wonderful things in days of old, Manoah said, “We shall surely die;” but his wife said, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have shown us these things. So today, my brother, if the Lord intended to kill us he would not have given us the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, or manifested himself to us in his wonderful works of salvation. What we feel to be evil to us he intends for good. Then may we not call light darkness, and darkness light. We may be mistaken in some of the bright seasons of joy and gladness, but the dying of the Lord Jesus is so marked in his members that it hardly seems possible to mistake it.
I am glad of your letter, brother Coulter, it did me good. Did you ever feel that all men had turned from you, and that the assembly of the saints would be perfect without you! This produces a lonely feeling indeed. In such a condition to receive a letter like yours to me, brings comfort and encouragement. Little of my life is spent except in this darkness of mind and Soul.
Will now close, as I have already written more than I expected, and have perhaps said more than I should have done.
With love I hope unfeigned, I am your brother and companion in tribulation,
H. C. KER,
Signs Of The Times
Volume 78., No. 24.
DECEMBER 15, 1905.