Through the mercy of God, my life is preserved, and I am again provided with the privilege of writing a short communication upon the comforting, inexhaustible and inconceivably glorious subject, of the goodness of God toward depraved and fallen man. Strong and impressive terms are used in Scripture to present man in his fallen condition. Have you ever reflected, my brethren, upon the style in which the Scripture is written? How beautiful and how solemn! What a perfect harmony reigns through all of the connected parts. Fraught with meaning and power; the Truth shining forth in its fullness. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, speaks of the depravity of man in this manner: “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
What a woeful condition this is! Is it not a bottomless pit of corruption? My brethren, we have been brought experimentally to know the Truth of the apostles language, all through our frame; in our thoughts, in our speech, in our actions, in our motives, have we seen the working of our own corruptions. We find language inadequate to express our feelings, when under the quickening operation of the Spirit we are enabled to discern our real condition in Adam and his corrupt nature.
“I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint,
That worst distemper, sin.
It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread,
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head.”
Bowed as it were in the dust, overwhelmed in the knowledge of our utter depravity; helpless and impotent as the man at the pool of Bethesda, who could not even as much as step in at the troubling of the waters and be healed.
Realizing the purity of the law, and the justice of God in our condemnation, we often look upon ourselves as less than the lowest of the beasts of creation, the very “ends of the earth.”
When we come up even with the Tree of Christ, behold Him as “the way, and the Truth, and the life,” realizing that in Him we have “righteousness and strength:” then can we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. How often does the enemy assail us, however, in regard to our experience; some of us may be led to fear that it is all the result of an excited imagination, or that it is not as bright an experience as the rest of the brethren have, in short that it is no experience at all; doubts and fears may arise in our mind until they become great mountains in our pathway, closing us in on every side; but there is imparted within us a bright and blessed hope (a fruit of the Spirit and gift of grace), which pierces through them all, and waits upon the Lord. That hope is in HIM. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” How different is the path we travel over, from that which our carnal reason would suggest. Our pathway leads us through fiery trials, seasons of darkness and dullness, and at times we are enabled to rejoice in the banqueting house of our Lord.
Often do we fall into the error of looking within, into our depraved natures for something good. Are there not times in our experience, my brethren, that a feeling of opposition will arise in our breast against the way in which we are led about and instructed from day to day; although we find that “all things” in this way are “working together for our good”? It is a comforting fact however, that the God of Israel forever reigns absolutely. He will not allow our carnal nature to proceed only so far as it is good in His sight, the remainder of it, He will restrain. All the saints are aware of the facts, that I have endeavored to present. We are perfectly well satisfied that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and this He actually did, for we know that these sinners were His people; that they were His people in seed-substance in Him before He was manifested in the flesh as their Redeemer. We also know that He has already saved them “with an everlasting salvation.”
When we reflect upon these facts are not the words of the Psalmist applicable in our experience” “Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” The question often arising in our mind is in regard to our interest in the atoning blood of Christ; this is the point we all long to know.
“I would believe Thy promise Lord,
O help my unbelief.”
We look upon the saints as a pure and perfect people IN Christ; we see so much of the opposite of this within ourselves. It is true that in our blessed Redeemer, we are a pure and righteous people. It is also true, “that in me, (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no god thing.” A law in our members we find, “warring against the law of our mind;” how earnestly we desire to do that which is right upon all occasions; and how far short we come of it! Is it not a glorious privilege, that we are brought to feel as the apostle felt, bowed as we are in our experience from day to day, yet we are highly favored: Ah! We are blessed beyond our remotest conception. It is true that we are “an afflicted and poor people.” Very few, if any of us, are in possession of good physical health; diseased in body, troubled in mind, we can trust in nothing save in the Lord, “As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourished; for the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto childrens children.”
Earnestly desiring the welfare of all the dear saints scattered abroad, that they may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and that you, Elder Beebe, may be strengthened in the arduous duties of the station that you have so long and satisfactorily filled.
I remain sincerely and truly,
yours in gospel bonds,
William M. Smoot.,