Dr. C. J. Davis.
"That is your man, sir;" or, Answering to a Description.
A few weeks ago, a passenger, after travelling all night by a mail train, arrived very early next morning at the A— Station. He was much fatigued, having been hard at work for some time previously. He greatly felt his need of some one (1) to direct him to his lodgings, which a kind friend had already taken for him — the way to which, however, he knew not; (2) he required some one to carry his load — a portmanteau — for him, as strength for it he had not. Standing on the platform, the station-master very courteously, yet confidently, said to him —
"That is your man, sir," pointing to a porter not far of "Do you know me?" asked the passenger.
"By description I do, sir. Your friend, expecting you by the last train, was here, and begged me, if you came by this, to secure some one to take your luggage, and to show you to your house in — Street, so I retained yon man for you, sir."
"How did he describe me?"
"As being a tall, dark-coloured gentlemen, etc., etc., wearing a — , and having — in your hands, and I think that you answer to this description."
"You are not mistaken," replied the passenger. "Thank you very much for your kindness in looking out for me. Some one to carry my luggage, and to direct me to my quarters was just what I needed, and I find that this is just what my friend provided." So saying he committed himself and his luggage to his guide and load-bearer, and in a very few minutes he was safe at home, and there he rested.
The above, dear reader, is a true story. I have sought to relate it in all its simplicity; and now, do sit with me for a few minutes before bed-time: ay, it may be just the last evening you shall be alive in this world, and let us see whether or not it is a word from God suited to you.
Have you been travelling up and down this world of pleasure, care, anxiety, and restlessness for all these years, and are you still unhappy? Does the sense of your guiltiness in God's sight make you miserable? Does the thought of death terrify you? Tell me, have you not tapped every earthen vessel around, and drunk greedily?
Yet you feel an aching void,
That nothing here can fill!
Why were you so wretched when you were ill not long ago? When you saw your dear relative lying dead by your side — when you witnessed the "dust returning to dust," and "the earth to earth," what was it, beyond the loss of the beloved one, that caused your poor breast to heave with such anguish? Thank God, I see the big tears roll down your cheeks; such are signs of good, and not of evil. But ponder seriously my questions NOW, and let us arrive at some conclusions AT ONCE. I ask you earnestly — Why are you not truly happy and peaceful? You believe that, sooner or later, you must die — for so it is appointed unto men; and you doubt not, moreover, that after death you are to wait for judgment only; not pardon, not forgiveness. (Heb. 9:27.) FOR GOD SAYS SO. Now, can you not think of death and judgment, and be peaceful? "No, I cannot," you say; and I shall be glad to be told why."
Well, I wish to tell you why. But I shall tell you from GOD'S WORD only. I take it for granted that you accept every truth in it, from Genesis to Revelation, as being God's. And surely what He says, you and I are bound to believe — or, woe unto us!
Now, let me say that all your neighbours are not as unhappy as you are. Indeed, you were once quite at ease, as they are still, without God — asleep on the very verge of eternal death, under the influence of some of Satan's opiates. You heard a "Peace, peace, when there was no peace." You were like a murderer of whom I heard, whose friends (?) beguiled his last hours with "sweet music," and to his real condition he never soberly awoke till a minute or two before he swung from the scaffold! His piercing cries I must not now refer to — the awful oaths and curses which he hurled at his friends (?), whom, though TOO LATE! he found to be his greatest enemies in the last minutes of his earthly existence — I shall prefer you to imagine, than to read from my pen. But, beloved reader, I thank God on your account, that the Holy Ghost has awakened you now from your sleep of calm indifference. Your wretchedness is a proof to me that God is dealing with you. With every man living, either God works or the devil lulls to sleep. No third agent is recognised in the Word of God. But Satan never leads any one to think of his condition as a helpless, wretched sinner. It would not be his interest to do that. Therefore I say that GOD is dealing with you by His SPIRIT. He is convincing you of sin, and that to save you now; lest, dying unpardoned, you perish for ever. Be careful not to resist Him. Then you are thus unhappy, I say, because God has opened your eyes to see yourself in your true character.
Once more, tell me your serious, sober judgment of yourself. What word would describe your character? Is GOOD the word? — "Oh no, I am a miserable SINNER; and my cry is, God be merciful to me." I thought so; and hence I felt sure that I had not made a mistake. The fact is, that not very long ago I was as you are — hence I knew you so well.
Now, tell me next, What do you need? Just what your messenger in the story wanted: (1) some one to ease me of my load of sin; (2) a person to lead me to a place of rest."
1. Well, dear friends, the LORD JESUS is just that person. Just turn your attention to Him now. Look not within any more. He who was Creator of everything (Col. 1:16) came 1800 years ago to this earth, and became a man. For 33 years He lived among men, manifesting in our midst, in the most practical way, what a God of love and grace was to His creature — ever for, never against, all that turn to Him. And He further showed in this scene, how a man should act for God. For One so peerless, so spotless, so holy — who, as a man like you and me (sin excepted), declared God, and set before believers such an example — all that love Him should feel deeply thankful. But to remove your load — to satisfy the demands of a just God about the sinner for whom blood must be shed, this blessed One laid down His life, a sacrifice for you and me. Nothing less than this would have rendered God just in justifying the sinner who believes Him. And with His sacrifice, the God at whose feet He offered Himself has been so pleased, that He has raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand, and callen upon all Heaven to adore the only One who is worthy of the praises of all His creatures. Hence, as far as atonement for sin is concerned,
Everything was fully done,
Long, long ago.
On the Cross the Saviour said, "It is finished." But, you ask, "How am I to know now that that sacrifice was for me?" Well, just turn to Romans 5. In v. 6 we read, "Christ died for" — Now, attend to the description; for your name is not there, but your character is. And God never forewrote our names in the Bible; for then, that would do away with faith altogether. He records apt descriptions of us — draws strikingly correct photographs of each one. You have found yours. It is indeed awfully ugly, and against it is written the word "Ungodly." Well, "Christ died for the ungodly." Are you in that dreadful class? Do you own it? Again, in v. 8, "God commendeth His love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners (note that last word — sinners) Christ died for us." So far, it must be evident that He died for YOU. I repeat that if He died for sinners, and you own that you are a sinner, then He died for YOU; for SO SAYS GOD the HOLY GHOST. "Then, how is it that all are not saved?" Ah, dear friend, you have nothing to do with "all" at present. In the matter of salvation, each must for once be selfish. Know first that you have a home, and then you can give your attention to others. Better escape the fire yourself than remain to be consumed with others. On the other hand, first escape with your life, and then use your endeavours to help others out if you can. Again, let us for once turn the finger inwards, "Am I saved?" "Then how am I to be sure that Christ died for ME? I do long to know it."
Well, I will answer you by asking you one question. How did the passenger of my story know that the porter was his man? "I suppose by believing the word of the stationmaster." Just so, and only so, and in no other way, dear friend. And just so, and only so, and in no other way, shall you ever get pardon for sins — simply by believing God. That is faith, and it is the right kind too.
In Acts 13:38, 39, God the Holy Ghost says by the mouth of Paul, that, "Through this man (Jesus the Lord) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED from all things."
"THAT IS YOUR MAN."
Believe it, and that is the divine link that connects you and God, beloved friends. Between Himself and the sinners He has placed Christ only. He is the mercy-seat where God meets every guilty believing one. (Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:2-14; Rom. 3:25.) The blood is there, and God is satisfied. Do you, in your heart, believe it?
Do you believe it's true,
And meant for every sinner,
And therefore meant for YOU?
Then that is the hand of faith which links you to God in perfect righteousness divine. Now, just believe God about this. You are not asked to feel, nor to pray, nor to doubt; for after doing all these you would still be left the "dark-coloured," sin-stained descendant of the old Adam — needing the blood of Jesus, which only can wash away the fixed colours, and make you, in the presence of God, "whiter than snow."
Owning this is BELIEVING; and then God says you are justified. More than forgiven, you see; called JUST, and made RIGHTEOUS in the sight of God. Not a stain remains against you; for it is justification from "ALL THINGS." Now, is it not simple? Has not God made it easy? Can there be any excuse if you are lost? You want a sin-bearer, and God your sin-bearer long ago provided. Now, listen a moment — let God see you make a note in your memorandum-book at once. Put the date of this day, month, and year when you did believe God; quote the Scripture which He used to you; sign your name. Yes, set to your seal that God is true, and never henceforth indulge a single doubt though Satan, and men, and your own heart, would have you do so.
Begin now to give Him the praise due to his name. Numbers of souls are not happy because they are robbers. — Can you expect a robber to be happy? Yes; they keep back the praise, the thanksgiving due to the Lord for dying for them; to the Holy Ghost for leading them to God; to God the Father, for receiving them and calling them His sons and daughters, and teaching them to say, "Abba."
The woman (Mark 5:25-34) never received the title of "daughter," nor the blessing of "peace" though she touched and felt, till she TOLD Jesus all the truth. She owned what He had done for her. Now, you just fall down before Him, and let your heart confess, in all honesty —
I the chief of sinners am,
But, Saviour, Thou art MINE.
And if peace be not yours, do tell me; and for such a strange event, for one soul to believe and not to get blessing — I say, if you call upon me, and assure me of such a thing, I will willingly — What shall I say? Such a thing would be simply impossible. "He that HEARETH and BELIEVETH HATH everlasting life." (John 5:24.) God has joined these three verbs together: who can dare to put them asunder?
So far your load is gone, and you feel happy. Think of death, think of judgment, think of God — and still the conscience has peace. To the Lord be praise: He alone is worthy.
2. Now, you must learn that you are brought to a Father. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our Father (compare John 1:12; 20:17; 1 John 1:3).
The love with which He loves the Son — such is His love to you and me (John 17:26.) This is also a question for faith. You believe that by the death of Jesus you are saved; so also believe that He suffered thus to bring you to God — His Father and our Father.
Refuse to own the former, and banishment from his presence for ever must be ours; but although the soul is saved — will not go to hell — yet if the second truth be disowned, the right affections of children will not flow out to the Father, nor towards all our brethren (1 John 3:14).
Now, the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) learned that he was with his father, else he might still have desired the companions of swineland. He fed upon the father's food, or he might have lusted for husks again.
Fellow-believer, it is the privilege of the child to know the Father (1 John 2:13), and to let his affections rest on that which delights the Father. The only delight of God is Jesus the Lord (and the saints are so only as seen in Him).
Oh let us, with the Father, rejoice in the Lord only. Let us love Him and His words (John 14:23). Let Him be our constant food. The new nature needs feeding momently, and nothing but Christ can satisfy it (John 6:32-51).
Remember that Israel, not valuing God's food for them — the manna — desired the flesh-pots of Egypt, and ultimately God sent them down to Babylon (Acts 7:39-43). Oh may our hearts rest in the presence of the Father! Oh may we find such constant delight in Christ — so precious, so lovely! — so feed on, so live by Him, that the heart may desire nothing of this world's pleasure or goods — apart from Himself, using such as He commits to us for Himself. Thus also, the hollowness of profession, with its satisfaction for the old nature, finds no admirers, much less ritualistic devotees, in us, who see in Him enough the mind and heart to cheer.
Such, dear reader, is a brief introduction to One whom God, in grace, provided for YOU before the foundation of the world, hence long before you needed Him. Say now — Have you committed yourself and your burden to Jesus? Has He indeed carried your load? Has He brought you to His Father? Faith's prompt answer is, "YES." Is that your answer?
Oh what a gift! His praise shall be
For ever on my tongue;
And mine shall be the loudest praise
That ransomed soul hath sung!
And now that your load is gone and now that you can utter "Abba, Father," by the Holy Ghost, let me say that you need Jesus the Lord now as your guide through this wilderness-world.
Are you willing to follow Him? He tells us (John 10:27), "My sheep hear MY voice, and I know them and they follow ME." "Strangers they" (in their healthy condition) "will not follow." Now His voice is heard in His WORD.
You should read it, and be guided by IT ONLY. There are numbers of ways in which persons are apt to walk who have their own will and not the Lord's — their own ways and not the Leader's.
In such cases they go without their Leader, and no surprise if they get into mischief here, and lose the reward for faithful discipleship hereafter. Of course, into the Father's house every saint shall be introduced (John 10:10) when the Lord comes; but to be true to Him in this day of His rejection by the world, the disciple must follow Him.
The path will have its briars and thorns. Men that hate Him, will hate you. But one second in the glory which He will share with you soon — "quickly" — will much more than repay for the sufferings of the "little while."
Therefore, beloved, shrink not from standing forth boldly for Jesus.
Perhaps my reader is a thoughtless young man, who cares for none of these things; an indifferent young woman, whose tastes would have been better indulged by a book of fashion, or by some comic newspaper — and she smiles now as she reads these lines.
Well, my young fellow-traveller, if there be a time to laugh, God says there is also a time to weep. But you see we are apt to do either at the wrong time. I saw a young lady laugh heartily as her sister lay dead by her side. Don't be surprised at the statement. It is curious, but quite explicable, for, poor child, her mind was wrong.
I have been alluding to the death of the Lord Jesus, the spotless, innocent One, for us guilty sinners, and I referred to everlasting perdition! torment for ever for His rejectors; and yet one can laugh? Are you in your senses? Surely not!
May you, like the prodigal, come to yourself, ere death, that unsparing, favourless monster, lays his icy hand on your graceful form, and changes your idol into food for worms. My entreaties, be they never so solemn, may fail to arrest you; but will you not listen to a beseeching God?
Read 2 Cor. 5:18-21.
Before we part, however, let me just say that, as surely as Jesus is the SAVIOUR of such as BELIEVE of the class described as "sinners" and "ungodly," so surely will He be the JUDGE — God says so (John 5:27; 2 Thess 1:7, 8) — of such as "obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction in that day."
Do, my fellow sinner, accept God's offer now, and so escape those terrible judgments. If you own now that you need the Saviour, God's word is "Look, and live;" "Believe, and live." That you may obey God for once (for until you come as a sinner to Jesus, you are a rebel against God), and so know the peace and rest that follow, prays yours very affectionately, C. J. Davis.