Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,—I have received your kind epistle, and can rejoice to hear, by your language, that you are still taught by that unerring teacher, the Spirit of Truth. "No man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost;" and our dear Lord makes this a certain criterion, namely, "He that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." And again, "All men must honour the Son even as they honour the Father;" because "it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;" and "he hath given him to be Head over all things to his church," which is his mystical body.
It is a mercy that our hiding place is no less a Person than the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Father's anointed, and our ever-living Head; and because he lives, we shall live also. All these are precious truths. The great business of the Lord Jesus from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven, was to deliver his people from going down to the pit. For this cause "his goings forth have been ever of old, even from everlasting." For this end he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, was made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and know the things that are freely given to us of God. Christ was the guilty whom God would by no means clear. "It pleased the Lord to bruise him, to put him to grief, to make his soul an offering for sin;" and, that he might redeem us from the curse of the law, "he was made a curse for us," and suffered all the load of divine wrath due to our sins. In consequence of which, we hear the whisper of love and power, "Loose him and let him go." Thus the prey is taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered. Because the Lord hath need of him, the bands of the wild ass are loosed, and the wild ass is sent out free; and all through the everlasting love of Jehovah,—Father, Son, and Spirit, the source of all the blessings the church receives. Christ as the Head is given to the church, and he is all in all, and we are one with him. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. To us as his church he saith, "All my springs are in thee;" and we, as receivers, say the same to Jesus; for "of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." And the Holy Ghost beareth witness to the truth of this, by leading us to see our own emptiness, and by declaring that in him shall the Gentiles trust.
To have a right understanding in the mysteries of our redemption is one unspeakable blessing to enjoy, while we are in the valley below. By a right understanding, I do not mean head notions in things, but the knowledge of salvation through the remission of sins. A believer in Jesus is, first, for his own consolation, to prove his calling, and the rest will follow; and if he wants to do this, it must be by these two confessions, namely, "Lord, to whom shall I go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Secondly, "When I would do good, evil is present with me." Every believing soul is persuaded that there is salvation in no other but the adorable Jesus. He sees that he is the alone hiding place, the sinner's only Friend; and his language is, "To whom shall I go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." And he can by experience say with the apostle, "When I would do good, evil is present with me. "We" groan, being burdened."
This I am persuaded, my friend, is your experience. If so, to you the Lord hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." But, my dear friend, remember that distinguishing mercies never destroy soul conflicts; for "to us it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in his name, but also to suffer for his sake." We run into an error when we think that if we were beloved of God we should not feel ourselves such as we do by painful experience; but this we frequently do, especially in our younger days. We have an instance of this in the case of Ephraim, in Jeremiah 31:18, 19. But fiery trials, sharp temptations, soul darkness, and the like, are no marks of God's displeasure. The world are strangers to them. They are at ease, asleep under the curses of a broken law; but "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us;" and "where there is no law, there can be no transgression:" Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. "So then I with my mind serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin." The law cannot curse the believer, because Christ stood in his law place, room, and stead. Therefore the apostle saith, "Ye are not under the law, but under grace;" not under the law as a covenant of works; not under the law as the giver of comfort. "By the law shall no flesh living be justified;" "There is not a man that liveth and sinneth not;" "The law worketh wrath."
Concerning my own experience, I can only say that I enjoy most by living most abroad; for I am everything in myself but goodness. I meet with enemies from all quarters; but the Lord is my keeper. He never slumbers nor sleeps.
Your loving Brother in Christ,
Plymouth, H. FOWLER.