To E. M., April 30, 1857.
Much beloved friend,
My heart rejoices that the glorious Testifier has been again taking of the
things of Jesus, and showing them unto you; for it is in His days that "the
righteous flourish." As Jesus is exalted in the soul, self is abased.
"He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
I confess, some things you mention in your letter I had
not before seen in that way. My soul longs more than ever for an increase of
this spiritual knowledge of Him. Thorns within and thorns without I often
keenly feel; but in Him is also found such rest and refreshing as to make
one sing, even while feeling the smart.
May we cleave unto Him with full purpose of heart, that
it may be with us as with Paul, "I live, yet not I; but Christ lives in me."
Thus, too, will it come to pass that we shall not seek our own things—but
the things which are Jesus Christ's; and whether we live we shall live unto
the Lord, or whether we die we shall die unto the Lord, and so living or
dying, we are the Lord's.
Truly, my dear friend, we should be learning more and
more how completely He has saved us in Himself, (Isa. 45:17) and how
constantly He delights in us with all His heart, so that we have no need to
seek for anything in ourselves to make us more entirely accepted or more
beloved—"He cannot love us more, nor will He love us less; for in loving her
(His Church, His Bride,) He loves Himself." The experience of this union
releases the soul from a host of cares and anxious thoughts. Living in His
love, that same love flows back to His own dear Person, and being satisfied
with Him and His goodness, the heart has "leisure from itself" to seek His
glory. "And you are complete in Him." Colossians 2:10
The things which I taste and handle, I declare unto you,
my beloved; and most ardently do I long to grow in willingness to be poor in
self, that I may be learning experimentally more of His unsearchable riches,
who will be all or nothing. When He is ALL, there is no complaining; much of
our complaining shows a desire to be something which He will never gratify.
But viewing us in Himself, He ever says, "You are absolutely beautiful, my
darling, with no imperfection in you." (Song of Songs 4:7) And the response
of faith and love is, "He is altogether lovely!" (Song of Songs 5:16)
You will see where I am--just delighting in the same dear
object; yes, I think more absorbed in Him than ever, and more desiring to be
so. When I hear anyone speak against so much preaching and talking of
Christ, I can only think—Well, if this is to be vile, I must be yet more
vile, and will be base in my own eyes--that He may be more and more exalted.
I do not wish to conceal this, for it is the truth, and I would always be
honest. Moreover, to His praise I must confess, that the more I am taken up
with Him, the more blessedly do I realize His grace to be sufficient for me,
and that amidst many trials and temptations, and through all the plague of
indwelling sin. I find sin is more subdued by looking at Him, rather than
looking at it, because our Father has laid all our help upon this mighty
One. I humbly conceive, too, that much heartburning would be enjoyed, if
pilgrims were to meet to search for Him in all the Scriptures, (Luke 24:32)
and to ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
You will remember what a blessing I had in tracing His
sorrowful footprints under the pain of unanswered prayer in Psalm 22. It is
rather singular that my own steppings since have been in the same path, and
thus He sometimes says, "Follow me." But He has given sweet encouraging
words, and He is a precious sympathizing companion in tribulation. Yet
little did I think, when telling you of my Good Friday feast, that I was
going to follow the Lamb in the sharp exercise of unanswered petition, and
that when thinking I had the promise of an answer. I believe all is for
the further abasing of self, and for the lifting up of my precious Jesus on
high. How true is that word, "I will lead the blind by a way which they
I want also to tell you how I have been enjoying those
words, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go
out." You know I have often enjoyed them in an experimental sense—the fire
of love burning on the altar of our heart, and kept alive by Him who kindled
it. Now the ever-burning fire on the Jewish altar seemed to set forth the
unsatisfactory nature of those sacrifices; for, though thousands of goats,
of bullocks, of rams, and of lambs were consumed, still the fire burnt on,
crying, as it were, "Give, give." And as that flame was kindled from heaven,
how did it show that sin remained unatoned for, the law unfulfilled, justice
unsatisfied; and that in all the multiplied offerings the Divine Lawgiver
had found no pleasure. They were only like promises of payment; and the
unextinguished fire seemed like that word, "In burnt-offerings and
sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the
volume of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God."
And oh, what a glorious contrast: "It pleased the Lord to
bruise Him;" because every stroke brought payment of the debt. He did
find pleasure in that sacrifice, because it brought honor to His Divine
attributes, and salvation to His people. Thenceforward the altar fire burns
not again; the fire of justice has gone out as regards the Church, for the
blood of the Lamb has quenched and extinguished it. And "this is the
covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will
put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and
their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Oh, what
fathomless depths of grace and love are in those words! The sins were
remembered against Him—but they shall not be remembered against them; for
them waits no unquenchable fire. Their Surety said, "It is finished!"
Justice said, "It is enough!" He quenched His Father's flaming sword in
His own vital blood!
I know not whether you will get any of the savor of His
sacrifice through my weak words; but my endless, blissful theme is ever new,
and it is a very transporting one—Jesus and salvation will never wear out.
Oh, what will it be to see Him face to face--while foretastes are so
blissful? "In whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice
with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
I remain your tenderly affectionate (in Him, though in