Brethren Archive

A Book Without Words

by Inglis Fleming


“The Wordless Book”—a book having black, red, white and gold pages.

1.—THE BLACK PAGE

All black—dead black—without a spot of white or streak of colour to relieve the darkness; no glimpse of golden sunshine to enlighten it, nought to lessen its ugliness—all black; nothing but black.

’Tis the first page of a wordless book.

What can it mean? What does it show?

“Is it black all through?” asked Winnie, once. “If you turned over the page, would there be nothing but black? Oh! what an ugly book.”

“I don’t like that page at all,” said another.

And it is not strange that the black page should be disliked. It is so sombre, and mournful, so dull and dark.

Ah! but that is not the reason that it is refused. That black page tells the truth, and truth is not always pleasant or palatable.

You see a child with soiled hands and face before you; tell him that he needs a wash—that he is dirty. ’Tis true, but is it pleasant to him? No, indeed. The vanished smile, the altered look, all speak his displeasure; and, perhaps in unbelief, he climbs a chair, and surveys himself in the looking glass, doubting your truthfulness.

’Tis true, if not pleasant, unsaved reader. That black page means you. It is but a picture of what you in the sight of a holy God are—a sinner, lost and undone. Will you look at yourself in the looking glass which God has given? Then search the Word, and see in Romans 3 your full length portrait, drawn by the pen of God. There is no difference, ‘for all have sinned,’ is the solemn summing up; all alike unrighteous, all alike guilty before God.

“Do you mean to say that I must be saved just as my footman?” asked a lady who had attended a preaching.

“Most certainly,” was the preacher’s answer.

“Then I won’t be saved,” was the wilful reply. The truth of God was not pleasant to her in her self-righteousness; and thus her fatal decision was made. No difference, no, none. ’Tis terrible, but it is true.

“I believe all are sinners, but I do not believe that all are the same,” said a young man.

Well, we have only one infallible authority to refer to, and it is within your reach. Will you take your Bible, and remember one thing, that it is GOD who speaks? “For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This is what GOD has said.

“Well, I never saw that before.”

But it was there, although you never saw it.

Reader, believe it or no, ’tis true. “You have sinned,” and God who looks upon you seeks from you a confession of your sins. He waits to hear, now in this day of grace, that contrite cry, “I have sinned.”

GOD IS LIGHT,

and He hates, abhors, detests sin, and commands you to repent; but

GOD IS LOVE,

and loves the sinner, and has proved and commended His love, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

Now the message is proclaimed: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For all who repent there is richest blessing in store—for all who are honest with God; but for the unrepentant and self-righteous, nought remains but that which is figured again by that dismal page, even the blackness of darkness for ever. Mark those two last words, my reader, “for ever.

Pause now, in this “accepted time,” for another step may take you to ETERNITY, and then—what then? Dying in your sins. Where Christ has gone you cannot go. Buried in a Christless grave, you would be summoned to stand before “the great white throne,” and there all the hideousness of your sins would be brought to light; every thought, word and deed, be manifested, and you judged according to your works, with no Saviour to flee to, no refuge, no shelter; thence hurried away, and “cast into the lake of fire.”

A Blackened page—

“Oh! God,” I cried,

“Is this my soul?

Is there not one white spot

Within the whole?”

His Spirit answered to my groan,

“All is corrupt from foot to crown.” (Isa. 50:6.)

2.—THE CRIMSON PAGE

The black page passed, we reach a crimson one. No spot of black, no trace of defilement or of sin. The black all covered too and hidden now from sight.

What voice has this for us?

It tells us of that which alone can meet the sinner’s need—that which alone can cleanse—even of blood, the precious blood of Christ

“Without shedding of blood is no remission”, is the solemn testimony of Hebrews 9:22. Works, prayers, ordinances, fastings, tears, cannot avail—without shedding of blood is no remission. Not one spot of defilement nor one stain of sin could be washed away by all the tears which were ever shed. How cheering to the troubled soul is the tidings: The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from ALL sin (1 John 1:7). Yes, from ALL, from every spot, from every stain.

A lamb without blemish and without spot was to be taken from Israel’s folds before the night of woe and judgment upon Egypt, kept up from the tenth day of the month until the fourteenth; perhaps loved and caressed by the younger ones of that household; but the house is not sheltered by its presence there whilst alive; the spotless lamb must die—its blood must be shed, and then being sprinkled upon the posts and lintel, the house is sheltered from the judgment (Ex. 12).

Jehovah’s word, infallible and sure, has gone out: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The judgment cannot reach that home, the sprinkled blood is outside, the faithful word rested upon inside, the lamb is roasted, and with girt loins and well shod feet, in haste they eat the passover—and soon are gone beyond Egypt’s dominion—set free to serve the Lord.

God Himself has provided the Lamb. His only begotten, well-beloved Son, “the Lamb of God.” A life unsoiled by failure, and unstained by sin was His. “He knew no sin,” He “did no sin,” “In Him is no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5) give the three-fold cord of testimony to Him as the spotless One. His meat was to do His Father’s will, and to finish His work, the object of His mission here.

But the presence of that blessed one here did not shield the sinner from judgment. We read, “He must be lifted up.” Without shedding of blood is no remission. Jesus, the Lamb of God, must die, and so to Calvary we trace His blessed footprints. There, “lifted up,” scorned, mocked, and crucified, the Saviour hangs between two thieves, numbered with transgressors, but bearing the sins of many. Forsaken of God, and bearing the judgment, He utters those solemn words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and then, with bowed head, He yields up the ghost. It is finished, the work is done, and from His pierced side flow the atoning blood and the cleansing water.

Listen to the voice of Scripture as it testifies to the value of His precious blood:—

It brings nigh to God (Eph. 2:13).

Makes eternal peace (Col. 1:20).

Purges a guilty conscience (Heb. 9:14).

Gives boldness to enter the holiest (Heb. 10:19).

Redeems to God (1 Pet. 1:19).

Cleanseth from all sin (1 John 1:7)

Yes, that precious blood can meet your need, trembling sinner.

“I’m going to heaven,” said a dying woman to a friend.

“You going to heaven; how can you go there? You are a sinner, and everyone knows it—no sin can enter there.”

“I be bad, I be bad,” was her contrite cry, “but there’s that precious blood.”

Unsaved reader, thou too art bad—art black—art sinful; but put thy trust as simply as that unlearned cottager did in “that precious blood,” and thou too wilt learn its cleansing power.

“‘And is this all for loathsome sin?

Nothing for me to do, nothing to win?’

He answered only, ‘When I see

The blood, I will pass over thee.’” (Ex. 12:13).

3.—THE WHITE PAGE

Perfectly pure, clean, without a spot. Such is the blood-washed one in the sight of a sin-hating God, clean every whit through the precious blood of Christ. Such is its value, such is its power. It cleanseth from all sin, and leaves not a stain behind, and He can say, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”

Often I ask young people, “If there were ten spots of black upon my face, and I washed them all off, how many would be left?”

The answer, of course, is at once given, “None.”

“If there were a hundred, and all were removed, how many would remain?”

“None.”

So with a thousand, or with ten thousand.

Thus it is with a great sinner, or a little sinner; scarlet stains, many or few. The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth from all sin. No sin, no stain, no spot remains; the believer is made whiter than the snow.

Job, when he thought of the majesty and holiness of God, had to say, “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”

He knew that though he sought to cleanse himself with the purest water he could obtain, yet he would be still unfit for God, and judgment must fall, and he be plunged into the ditch of perdition (Job 9).

In Jeremiah 2:22, we find the Lord telling His people of the folly of seeking to make themselves really fit for His presence. “Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me” saith the Lord.

Yes, nitre (or soda) and soap are as useless as snow water to cleanse away sin.

Thus David, owning his need, cries to the Lord, against whom he had sinned, “Wash me,” and he knows the blessed result of that cleansing, “I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 2).

Then in Revelation 1 we find a blood-washed company can sing with thanksgiving, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”

All the praise rises to Him whose precious blood it is alone has cleansed them from their sins.

Thus they can give thanks that they are fitted for the home of glory, the home of the saints in light, for no fear is theirs; they have boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10). They are now in a position of nearness to God, made nigh by the blood of Christ, and can say, “In Christ we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Yes, they HAVE it, they do not HOPE for it, as so many doubters would say. It is their present portion; made theirs through the work of Christ. The black page is their past; the white page their present; the golden page their future, the glory for which they wait. They do hope for that, but not for the purity of the white page, that is theirs already. True, there is still an evil nature within, which ever is to be kept in the place where God has put it, in the place of death. But, though there is sin in the believer, there is no sin upon him in the sight of God. Though his sins were as scarlet, they are white as snow; though they were red like crimson, they are now as wool.

Be it known unto you, my reader, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses; and not only justified, free from all charge of sin, but cleansed from all sin by that precious blood, and thus fit for the presence of God.

Made too children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, they are able to look up, and cry, by the Holy Spirit, “Abba, Father.”

The Apostle John, who says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins ARE forgiven you for His name’s sake,” also says, even to those only babes in Christ, “I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father” (1 John 2:12-13).

The Spirit of God dwells in the believer’s body, to direct and guide, comfort and cheer him; and gives the strength in which the Christian can tread his upward, homeward, heavenward path.

How blessed, indeed, the portion, position, and privileges of those whose condition is set forth by the white page.

To Him who died, that we might be of that number, be all the praise and glory.

AUTUMN.

Autumn leaves are falling,

Summer’s past and gone,

Harvest’s nearly ended,

Winter comes ere long.

God, in pity, lingers,

Still His wrath forbears,

Sinner, flee for refuge,

While in love He spares.

Winter’s storms of judgment

Soon will sweep the land;

Direst desolation,

Death on ev’ry hand.

Grace, if long rejected,

Thou’lt in vain implore;

Judgment is unsparing,

Mercy speaks no more.

Come then, while He lingers,

Unto Jesus bow;

Still the door is open,

Sinner, enter now.

Still long-suffering mercy

Waiteth thee to bless,

Offering peace and pardon,

Life and righteousness. (S.T.)

4.—THE GOLDEN PAGE

The golden page, as it flashes in the light, tells of the brightness and joy of the glory of God.

In Revelation 21:18, we read, “And the city was pure gold.” No defilement will ever soil that holy home of the blood-bought, blood-washed throng. Earth’s gold may tarnish, but heaven’s joy and glory will never dim. No cloud of sorrow will ever darken the brightness of that glorious land.

“’Tis all sunshine there,

No sighing nor care,

But glory so fair.”

“That is the best page of all,” most of my young friends exclaim, when the black, red, and white pages are passed, and the golden page is reached; but there are some who will say, “No! I think the red page is better than even the golden one, for it tells of One who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Yes! indeed, they are right; for the person is more than the place, and it is that blessed, peerless Person who makes the glory what it is, and He died that we might be there.

Home would be little to a loving child without mother. Heaven would, indeed, be little without Christ.

In Revelation 5 we read of those who there surround the Saviour with their song, “Thou art worthy . . . for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.”

Yes, it is the Saviour Himself who is the joy of that home; the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light of it. The glory of God—God who, in wondrous love, gave His Son to die,—and Jesus the Lamb of God, the Lord of glory, whose precious blood has made us clean—these make heaven what it is.

No sorrow, no sighing will be known there. No tears, for God will have wiped them all away. No death, for there will be no sin there, nought to mar the happiness, nought to dim that eternal joy.

But will you be there, my reader? Will your voice swell that song of praise to the sinner’s Saviour? Will your eye gaze on His glory, and behold His face? Will your ear listen to His then well-known voice? Will you be among His many servants, who serve Him, and have His name in their foreheads.

Christ is coming again, coming soon, coming suddenly. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Then, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, all His own loved ones will be caught up to meet their long expected Lord in the air, and so be for ever with the Lord. Oh! joyous hope of the blood-washed one, who awaits with longing heart that promised return, listening for the shout of welcome home.

In Matthew 25 we read, “They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut,” Oh! the rapture of that moment for those who are on the white page—“READY, WITH HIM”—shut in from all the sorrow, sighing, suffering, and sin, to enjoy in His company the inside brightness of that home, made ready by His own hand of love. But, oh! consider the misery of that moment for those still on the black page in their sins; where Christ has gone they cannot go; and as that door of mercy closes—and closes for ever—they find themselves shut out to spend ETERNITY in the outer darkness, even the blackness of darkness for ever.

What a contrast! One company shut in, the other company shut out. With which company will you be, my reader?

The inside brightness of eternal glory, or the outside darkness of eternal gloom, awaits you; which is it?

Tarry no longer undecided. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

For though we’re sinners, every one,

Jesus died, Jesus died.

And though there’s none good, no, not one,

Jesus died, Jesus died.

We may be cleansed from every stain,

And righteousness in Christ may gain,

And with Him in His glory reign.

Jesus died, Jesus died.

That one verse reminds us of all four pages. For “sinners every one,” “none good, no, not one,” is the message the black page gives. Then the refrain, “Jesus died, Jesus died,” tells of the red, bringing before us that precious blood, which cleanses from all sin. The next two lines tell of the white page; how those who do truly believe on the Lord Jesus are “cleansed from every stain,” and have a new place “in Christ”; no longer “in their sins,” but “in Christ”; and “with Him in His glory reign” reminds us of the golden page.

May God in His mercy bless you, young reader, and grant that you may be there.

I.Fleming

Scattered Seed 1886, p. 110, etc.






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