J. T. Mawson.
Here are a few stories of some who have proved that the grace that saves is no myth, but a blessed, satisfying reality. They are personal incidents, and true, and are put together in this form that their united testimony to a living Saviour may be a blessing to many. There are also words of warning and entreaty, but whether the former or the latter their object is the same, as all who read may see.
The Best Friend.
On a brilliant day in August just before the war, a friend and I were distributing Gospel booklets at the cottages of a small fishing-town in Northumberland. Having finished this delightful work, we went down to the harbour to watch a fleet of boats sail out for a night's fishing. There were a lot of men about, mainly Scotsmen, and some of them were God-fearing men, who went out to their night-toil upon the great deep in prayerful dependence upon the God of earth and sea, and returned when it was over with thankfulness for His mercies to them. There was one of them, a rugged old man of not less than seventy years, who seemed specially glad to see us, and when he read the title of the book that we gave him, "A Friend in need is a Friend indeed," his old face brightened up into a radiant smile, making a rare study for an artist, and he said, "Yes, and the best Friend is Jesus."
He needed to say no more to make us thoroughly at home with him, for his Saviour was our Saviour, we were brethren in Christ. We asked him how long he had known the Lord Jesus Christ, and in reply he told us the story of his conversion. He had been a rough fellow, scoffing at God's truth and persecuting His people, but some cottage preachings were being held in his native town, and he heard that the Christians were praying that God would save his soul. This aroused a strange and strong desire in his heart to see what these meetings were like, so he went, and in that meeting, as he listened to the story of the love of Jesus, and His death for sinful men, he looked in faith to that wonderful Saviour for salvation and he was converted to God.
That, he told us, took place more than forty years ago, and said he, "I have weathered some stormy seas since then, but the Lord has never failed me." As the tears rolled down his rough cheeks we thought that he must have a tale to tell, and so asked him to tell us about some of the storms.
He said: "We had four sons and lost them all in two years. They were 28, 26, 24, and 21 years old. It was sore work parting with them, but they all belonged to the Lord Jesus and we shall meet them again."
"When the last one came to die, his mother and I were sorely troubled, and he said to me, 'Father, you and mother look very down: what's wrong with you?'
"'Why,' I said, 'my boy, we don't like the thought of losing you; it's that that makes us down.'
"'But,' he replied, 'you're not going to lose me, Dad. I belong to Jesus, and I'm going home, and you and mother'll come soon, and we'll all be united again; but give me the hymn-book, and I'll sing a hymn to cheer you up a bit.'
"'You're too weak to sing, my boy,' I said. But he at once replied, 'Give me the book and let me try.'
"And so the book was given to him, and he opened to that sweet hymn, and began to sing:
"Jesu, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the waters near me roll,
While the tempest still is nigh;
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide
Till the storms of life be past;
Safe into the haven guide —
Oh receive my soul at last.'"
He got through the first verse of it, but he found that what his father had said was true — he was too weak to sing.
So he handed the book back again, and said, "You sing the next verse, Father, and I'll wave my hand to the tune."
The father's heart was full to bursting, and it was a hard task that his dying son had given him, but for his sake he began and with halting notes sang:
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee."
And while the father sang, the dying lad, with a glad light upon his wan face, waved his hand to the tune, but ere the father finished the verse, that feeble hand fell, and the ransomed spirit rose to be with the One who had gilded his bed of death with light.
"Aye, that's the way he died," said the old man as he drew his sleeve across his tear-washed cheeks, "but the Lord did not fail us."
My tears fell with those of the bereaved father, and as we shook hands and separated, we could not help feeling, perhaps as never before, how good it was to know the Best of friends, whose love could drive the fear of death from the heart of the dying lad, and make him sing upon the borderland; and whose grace and love could also sustain the bereaved hearts left behind, so that they could say, "The best Friend is Jesus. He has never failed us."
"The day of death is the master day," a great writer has said, and it is; in it is tested every hope and refuge and possession. The dying fisher-lad's hope for eternity stood the test. He had the rock beneath his feet — the finished work of Christ. His soul was washed in the precious blood which was shed on Calvary's hill for sinners — "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, which cleanseth from all sin"; he was ready to go, and God gave him the "victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
How a Dream Came True.
I had to travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh towards the end of the first week in January, and as is well known, traffic is very heavy during that week between those two cities. While I went to the booking office to secure my ticket, a friend kindly looked out a seat for me, and found one in the crowded train near the engine, next to a soldier. He was returning to camp after five days' leave at home in South Wales, and was in a holiday mood. Indeed, the truth is, he had taken on board rather more whiskey than was good for him, and was a little tipsy.
When the train started, he took out a packet of cigarettes and offered one to me. I thanked him for his kindness, but declined, as I am not a smoker. He seemed disappointed, and produced a bottle of whiskey and asked if I would drink with him. Again I declined, assuring him that my reason for so doing was that I did not drink.
"All right," he said, "I see you are a man of principle, and I respect you."
"No," I replied, "I am a Christian, and I wish you knew my Saviour. He would make you a happy man. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He died for you and me. I wish you knew Him."
He dropped back in his seat as if someone had hit him, and was silent for a minute or two. Then he took from his pocket a card on which was written a man's name and address, and said, "Do you see that? That's the name of the very best friend that ever a man had. He's a Salvation man, and none of your shams; an out-and-outer he is. I went to say good bye to him on Monday, and he said to me, I've prayed for your conversion every day for five years, and my prayers have not been answered yet, but I've had a dream about you. You're going back to Scotland; and I dreamt that you'll meet a perfect stranger, who will speak to you, and my prayers will be answered.'"
"It looks to me," said he, "that his dream is going to come true."
"It certainly does," I said, "and you could have no better time than this. Every man needs the Saviour, for all have sinned against God, but no man needs Christ more than the man in khaki, because his temptations and dangers are so great."
He asked me if I would talk to him privately when we got to Edinburgh, which I promised to do. After a while he took out his bottle again, and lowering the window of the compartment, threw it out.
We had our talk in Edinburgh. A serious talk about how all we like sheep had gone astray, and turned every one to his own way, and consequently all deserved the judgment of the just and almighty God. My soldier friend felt that what I said to him was true. He had often heard the Gospel, for he had a Christian friend and a praying wife, and he knew that his life of God-forgetfulness had been entirely sinful. When he owned this I repeated for him the words, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15), and "When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly," and "God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6, 8). I also showed him those wonderful words in Isaiah 53: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed."
These were good words for him to listen to, for they were words from God's infallible Book. Words from God to sinful men. Words that he needed, and words also that you need, whosoever you are who read them here, be you officer or man, civilian or soldier — all need the glorious Gospel concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. And faith in Him alone will save you from eternal hell. Before I left my new acquaintance he told me that he would yield himself to the Saviour, for he felt his need of Him.
I have had several letters from that man since, in which he tells me of his own thankfulness for our talk in the train, and of the change that the knowledge of Christ has made in his life; of the joy of his Christian wife at the news of his repentance towards God and his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be that you wonder why this story is told to you, since the soldier who is the subject of it has no claim on your interest. The reason is that there is someone probably praying for you, has prayed for you for years, and the Saviour who saved the soldier has a very great claim on you. He has the claim that creation gives, for He made you. He has the claim that His sovereign rights give, for He is Lord of all. He has the claim that love gives, for He laid down His life to save you because He loved you. Will you not own His claims, bow your knees to Him, confess Him as your Lord and Saviour? If you do you will have Him as your Friend — the Friend who never fails. If you refuse His claims you will have Him as your Judge, and from this there will be no escape.
"FAITH in to-morrow instead of Christ is Satan's nurse for man's perdition."
"The Old Text Again."
Dreams are queer things. Ninety-nine per cent of them are probably foolish, and perhaps the result of a disordered digestion, or an anxious mind. But here and there one comes and passes, and leaves an impression because of its vividness and truth. Such a one was the following.
I was staying in Yorkshire, my native county, with a friend, who like myself believes in the blessedness and power of the Gospel. And that night I dreamed that he and I were visiting a village of that county, distributing Gospel tracts at the houses, and speaking to the people about the one great and only Saviour — JESUS.
It was a beautiful summer's afternoon, and here and there the women of the village were chatting together in groups. We handed our books to each in one of these groups, and stood talking to them for a while; they listened respectfully until I quoted those notable words, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Then one of them said in her native dialect, "T'owd text agean," and laughed aloud, and the other women joined in her mirth.
I awoke from my dream with the scornful laughter of those Yorkshire women ringing in my ears, and it set me thinking, and my thoughts were very sad. "The old text again" was the reception given to my quotation of the most wonderful words that mortal ears have ever heard. Yes, but it was only a dream! I know it, but I also know from considerable experience that the dream was a revelation of what is sadly true.
The text is not new; it is "the old text," and to quote it moves some to laughter that any should still be so out of date as to dwell upon it. Others it leaves unmoved; to use a current and striking phrase, "It leaves them cold." And yet it tells of the best that God, the Almighty, could do; it tells of His love, His amazing love to a guilty world; it tells of His unspeakable gift and of His everlasting blessing. Surely it is strange that it should meet with such treatment
But the women of the dream may have been ignorant, and so unable to appreciate "the old text" and its story; surely the majority of mankind are glad to hear it. Is that what you think?
I was crossing the Atlantic on board the great ship "Mauretania." It was evening, and the sun was setting as in a sea of liquid fire. It was the sight of a lifetime. The western sky was ablaze with the glory of the monarch of the day, and shafts of crimson beauty were shot across the heaving waters. By my side stood a gentleman, delighted as I was with the great picture, and he talked of it as only an artist and an admirer of great sights could talk. At last I said to him, "Do you know, sir, that the God whose hand painted that glowing west loves you and me?"
He did not laugh like the Yorkshire woman of my dream, but he drew back from me, and looked at me for a moment, not scornfully, but with anger in his eyes, and then without a word turned on his heel and went to the other side of the ship, and for the rest of the voyage he avoided me as though I had some pestilence.
It seems strange that the mention of God's love should so affect a man, yet it is explained by the solemn truth that "the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7).
And yet the glorious truth remains, undimmed by man's rejection of it, "God so loved the world," and the proof of it is that "He gave His only begotten Son," and the result of it is "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And there is no person, man or woman, rich or poor, ignorant or refined, who may not get into that most blessed "whosoever." The arms of God's love are stretched out to all. He does not will that any should perish, and yet all will perish who reject the way of life that He has provided. Most assuredly they will; for His way of blessing is the only way, all others are ways of death.
What a subject to be treated with indifference: the love of God to guilty men; love that yearned for the self-willed sinner on the downward road, and sent the Only-begotten to demonstrate that love in saving power; sent Him into the thorny path, to taste all the sorrows of it; sent Him not for honour nor the praise of men — for "shame was His kingdom, and reproach His glory"; sent Him to suffering, ignominy, and death.
"Thieves, and a CULPRIT crucified between them,
All men forsaking Him — and THAT WAS THOU!"
Only thus could love's story be told, but thus it was told fully and victoriously by Jesus on the cross; told to the everlasting defeat of the devil; told to the eternal salvation of men; told to the infinite glory of God who is the source of it all.
"You cannot repent too soon, for you know not how soon it maybe too late to repent."
The Footballer's Conversion.
I will tell you the story of a friend of mine; one of the finest forwards that ever led a Rugby scrum in the West country.
The triumphant roar of the thousands who followed the fortunes of the football club of which he was captain was like music to him, for he lived for the game. He was a very popular fellow too; "a good sport," his friends called him, as well as a skilful player. He had a capital voice, was always ready with a smart story, and could be relied upon to help a man who was down in his luck. That sort always have a crowd of friends.
But somehow he began to lose his interest in the game, and his jollity settled down into that forced kind that lacks sparkle. The matter was this: his wife had been converted, and G— gradually got upset about it, she was so different from him now, and he felt that she was right and he was wrong. She prayed to God, he didn't; she read the Bible, he didn't; she loved the Lord Jesus Christ and owned Him as her Saviour; it made him angry to hear His name. Yes, there was a great difference between them, and he felt it; in fact, he began to realize that he was a sinful man, though he told this to nobody, least of all to the praying wife.
She often asked him to go to the Gospel preachings; he as often refused. But one Sunday when she was more persistent than usual, as wives can be sometimes, he said, "All right. I'll go with you to-day, if you'll let me alone in future; but only on this condition, that you go with me to the hotel, and wait until I get some beer." He did not think that she would accept the condition, but she did, to his surprise.
He left her outside, for he had too much respect for her to press her to join him inside his favourite house; in fact, he felt like a cad for having brought her so near it. He called for his drink, and raised the foaming glass to his lips, but put it down again without even tasting it. That was a queer thing for him to do — a most unusual thing — and at that moment he could not have given a reason for doing it. Again he took it up, and a second time put it down untasted; a third time he raised it, determined this time to finish it, but a third time down that glass of beer came on the counter, and though he had paid for it, he left it there untasted, and turned on his heel and joined his wife outside. He told me afterwards that the thought of his wife praying for him outside made him feel that if he had drunk that beer it would have choked him.
They said nothing to each other, and reached the place of the preaching some time before the time for the service to begin. He took up a Bible and began to turn its pages. Suddenly he was arrested by some words that seemed to stand out upon the page as though they were embossed, words that seemed entirely for him. Eagerly he read them, over and over again. Everything began to seem different as their meaning dawned upon him, his misery passed away, that misery that had been eating out his life for weeks, and he turned to his wife, and said, "I'M A SAVED MAN." Yes, before even the service began that night, sitting by the wife who loved him and prayed for him, and as a result of the light that came to him through one solitary verse of Scripture, he was able to say, "I'm a saved man."
The verse that did the work was this, "VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD, AND BELIEVETH ON HIM THAT SENT ME, HATH EVERLASTING LIFE, AND SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION; BUT IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE" (John 5:24).
Wonderful words are these; just how they appealed to the captain of the town's football club I cannot say, but I know that they revolutionized his life; they made him a happy man; made him rejoice in Jesus the Saviour who spoke them; made him glad to boldly preach that same Saviour at the street corners of his native town. I have stood with him and heard him, so that I know that to be a fact.
Yes, the words are words of life; they were spoken by the Saviour who died; who died for the ungodly, for sinners like G—, and the writer, and you, the reader. Yes, for you, that you might be able to say, "I'm a saved man." That you might have everlasting life.
"Something in it."
A young sceptic stood at our open-air meeting in our town, and heard our testimony to Christ.
He said to himself, "There must be something in it, after all." That was a ray of light in his darkness, and it made him ready to hear more of that Gospel and to discover, if he could, what that "something" was.
Yes, there is something in it! There is the love of our Lord Jesus Christ; there is the grace of our God; there is pardon, peace, and eternal salvation. We know these things, we want you to know them, and we say to you — HEAR AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL OF GOD'S GRACE TO MEN.
The Kloof of the Crying Child.
I have heard a story, a story that is told at the hearthstone of the Boer homesteads when the day's work is done. There is in South Africa a kloof, called the Kloof of the Crying Child, which — so runs the story — is said to be haunted by a strange demon, from whose power some had barely escaped with their lives, and others had actually fallen victims to its malignity. Its manner of attack upon unwary travellers was generally the same. As the horseman rode his tired steed at the day's close through the haunted area, he would hear what seemed to be a child's cry. Reining his horse, he would see in the dim light a small child lying by the bridle-road — so helpless and attractive and appealing in appearance, that he could not do other than dismount and take it in his arms, and carry it with him to his home for shelter and care.
But as he travelled homeward, he found, to his horror, that it grew and grew — this thing that he had taken to his heart; nor could he cast it off. Its entrancing smile changed to a hateful scowl, and at last, with the hands of a giant, it would seize its victim at the throat — and some have been left lying strangled and dead beneath the night stars.
Thus they tell the strange story, an altogether incredible one to our less romantic minds; and yet tragedies which this story does but faintly figure, are being enacted a thousand times over, and that daily; and not in one part of the world only, but wherever men are found.
S-I-N, what a power it is, and how subtle! It appears small, a little thing, and so attractive at the start that men take it to their bosoms; youths and maidens embrace it and hug it to their hearts. Then it grows in strength, imperceptibly at first, perhaps — yet it grows and grows until at last with a vice-like grip it holds its victims and strangles their souls. It is soft as a zephyr breeze at the beginning — it is a devastating tempest at the close. It is like a smiling child at the start, — it is a strong-sinewed giant at the end, binding its dupes with thongs of steel, and casting them down to everlasting destruction.
The South African story may be entirely a fable, though it figures a terrible truth; but here is a fact. I was preaching the Gospel one night in a town in the North of England. A fine young fellow of 21 years, the son of a gentleman, was present, brought to the service by a friend. I was introduced to him, and we talked together upon what I believe to be the most important subject that can occupy the tongue of a mortal man. I said to him, "Ought you not to think of your soul's salvation, and turn to Christ the Saviour, and yield to Him as your Lord?" He replied, "No; I want pleasure." "What pleasure," I asked, "are you particularly fond of?" He said, "Oh! the horses and the theatres. I want the horses and the theatres." He had made up his mind, and my words did not move him; and a few weeks afterwards he went up to London, where he could gratify his propensities to their full bent.
A few months passed, three I believe, when I received through the post a copy of the London Daily Telegraph; round a paragraph in that paper was a blue pencil mark; and in that paragraph I read of a young man who had been found in his bedroom in a London hotel with the towel twisted round his neck. The verdict of the coroner's jury was "Felo de se."
He was the young man of my story. Sin had slain him. But who could he blame? He had put himself beneath its power, willingly and eagerly; and he had rejected the only Deliverer from its toils; for there is a Deliverer for men. He is our Lord Jesus Christ, and besides Him there is none else.
"SIN IS LAWLESSNESS," and though you love it, it is one of your chief foes. It is the determination of your heart to be insubject to God; and every sin committed is an act of rebellion against Him. Sin has spoiled the earth; it has ruined men; it is the parent of sorrow, and crying, and pain; it has made the shroud and the open grave necessities; it has forged the chains of darkness that bind lost souls in hell's deep dungeons. It would dethrone Almighty God, if it could, and, becoming supreme thereby, would fill the universe with weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, casting every creature of God into everlasting destruction.
Sin's awful power drives men onward, corrupted and deceived, with backs upon God, and with empty, unsatisfied hearts, — onward and downward to the lake of fire.
Man, in your sins, awake! The clock of time is ticking out your days, and every swing of its ceaseless pendulum carries you nearer to Eternity. And as you travel swiftly onward, sin holds you on the downward road, and the devil whom you serve deceives you. You need a Deliverer, and there is one for you. He is our Lord Jesus Christ. He can save, but beside Him there is no saviour found.
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
God Stretching out His Hands to Men.
I said one night to a hard old sinner who had come on several occasions to the Gospel services, "Is it not time you turned to Christ for salvation?" He told me that he had done so that very night, and that he was a saved man. I asked him how he knew this; was it because he had determined to give up the drink and live a decent life? He said, "No, it was not that; but while you were preaching I thought I saw God holding out His hands to me and saying, 'I will receive you just as you are.' And I just came."
That old sinner was not deceived; God is stretching out His hands to men all the day long. He commends His love to sinners; He beseeches them to be reconciled to Him; He "will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Oh, weary sinner, laden with guilt, sick of the world's deceptions and sins, come to the Saviour. Above the din of this restless world His voice calls to you. He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Let these words enter your ears and heart; they bring a great peace and a priceless blessing.
Oh, tired heart, do not close your ears to His words; let the music of them charm you and draw you to His feet. Thousands have come, thousands are still coming. Do not you stay away. He will make you feel that He is glad to see you, and as your weary and sin-burdened soul finds everlasting rest upon His bosom of eternal love, your only regret will be that you did not come before.
"Don't Forget Eternity."
"Do you remember the last word you said to me as we said 'Good-bye' at the Central Station, twelve years ago?"
I did not remember, but the sturdy British soldier who asked the question did, as his story will show.
Since I had last shaken his hand, as he started out on a sea-faring life, he had seen a good bit of the world and its ways before settling down to a landsman's job in America. Then there came the call for men and yet more men to fill the gaps and to increase the strength of the British Expeditionary Force in France, and his English heart fired at the call, and he threw down his good job and crossed the Atlantic and joined up.
He was light-hearted and fearless, like the bulk of the men in khaki, and, also like many of them, he was careless about the future. But the war woke him up, and this is how it happened.
He was in a carrying party when the shells began to come over, and most of the men ran for cover. This roused the wrath of the sergeant-major, who shouted, "Eh, you fellows, come out here; are you afraid of shells bursting a mile away?" The words were scarcely out when he was hit, and fell dead at the feet of my young friend. Others were killed in that little band, but my friend was unhurt; but as he looked into the dead face of the sergeant-major, a fine young soldier of twenty-four, my words of twelve years before flashed into his mind, "George, don't forget Eternity."
Eternity seemed very near to him at that moment, and he trembled in the presence of it, and of God. He was no coward; no German force could have broken his spirit or made him tremble, but death and the vast Eternity that stretches beyond it, and the thought of having to meet God, and the knowledge that he was not ready, brought him to his knees, and he prayed that night.
It was early in the night when that shell did its deadly work, and when God used it to arouse that fearless young soldier to the danger his soul was in. He saw things as he had never seen them before, and realized then that, being an unforgiven sinner, he was not ready to pass into Eternity, nor to meet God. And that shell that had killed the sergeant-major might have hit him, for he was only a few feet from him; but his life had been spared, — for what?
At five the following morning he made his decision, for then it was that the way of salvation and life shone clearly before his soul. He remembered the Gospel he had often listened to at home, how that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15:3-4). And that, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9). His wonder was that he had not seen it so clearly before, and that he had not yielded himself to this great Saviour who had loved him and died for him. It was then that he passed from death unto life, and found peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He wrote to his home telling the story, and his letters made those of us who had often prayed for him rejoice exceedingly; for this change that had come into his life was no passing emotion, it was deep and real, and his confidence was as strong as his conversion was genuine, for it rested, not upon any false phantom of the human mind, such as "death on the battlefield saving the man who dies" — a pagan and not a Christian doctrine is that! — but it rested upon the unchanging, infallible Gospel of God, plainly told us in His word, concerning Christ His beloved Son, who "died for the ungodly," whose precious blood cleanseth from all sin.
It is His death that saves the sinner, and it was love that passes all understanding that led Him to die. But He not only died, He lives again. Jesus is the risen and glorified Lord, before whom every knee must bow, and to whom all must give account.
Happy are those who yield to Him now, for all such are saved by His great salvation.
We would repeat here the words that flashed into the mind of my friend on that memorable night: "Don't forget Eternity!" Have you strong confidence as you look ahead?
Christ alone can give this. He is the only Saviour; forgiveness and justification can only be found in Him. God says, "Be it known unto you, men . . . that through this Man [Christ Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things" (Acts 13:38, 39).
George, who became a corporal of the tanks, got this blessing, and if you could talk with him now he would say to you, "I am persuaded, that neither DEATH, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor THINGS PRESENT, NOR THINGS TO COME, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD" (ROM. 8:38, 39).
A Young Medical Student.
A November drizzle made the streets of Leith both cold and unpleasant, but it did not damp the fervour of a veteran Christian, who for more than fifty years had been an open-air preacher. So on the Sunday evening of which I write, we went with him to tell the Gospel story on the streets before turning into a hall hard by for a further service. As the old Scotsman of more than eighty years proclaimed salvation through the Lord Jesus, a young medical student drew near and listened. He had come to Edinburgh from an Irish home and the training of a Christian mother, but contact with other students who held sceptical views and laughed at religion had shaken the traditional faith that he held. It may have been by a process of his own reasoning (for reason never helped a man to God), or to be like his new friends; I cannot tell, but by whatever way he had arrived at it he was that night an agnostic in thought and intention.
But the plain words of this rugged old man made an impression upon him. Here was not light-hearted inexperience toying with the realities of life and death, and God and eternity, like a juggler tossing his balls at a circus; he had grown used to that kind of thing in the class and dissecting-room, but now he heard one who, near the end of his long life, was telling the people what had given him peace and joy in time, and a certain hope for eternity, and this impressed him, and when an invitation was given to all to come to the preaching in the hall he came along with others.
The preaching in the hall deepened the impression that had been made upon him in the street, and he remained in his seat when the meeting closed. A Christian man sat by his side, but after a few minutes' conversation with him, our young friend rose up to leave the hall, disconsolate and sad. I had noticed his earnest listening to the preaching, and extending my hand to him at the door asked him what his trouble was. He said, "That gentleman refuses to talk with me because I do not believe that the Bible is God's Word." "Oh!" I said, "you do not believe that this Book is the Word of God?" "No," he replied, "I don't, for even if there is a God I do not see how He could write a book for us; it is the work of men." "I see," I said; "then it is evidently useless to discuss that question, so I will put my Bible in my pocket. Now tell me, are you happy?" He confessed that he was not. "Well," I said, "if you don't mind, I should like to introduce you to some of my friends here," and I called two young men, the sons of the old street preacher, to come and sit beside us. Having introduced them to him I said, "Do you think that my friends look happy?" He thought they did. Then I said, "I am going to ask them to tell us how God made them happy."
Glad of an opportunity of bearing witness to the grace of God the elder of the two told how as a youth he attended a certain Gospel preaching, and though he did not lay hold of the sermon, the text laid hold of him. It was that wonderful word from the lips of Jesus: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
He saw that there was room for him in that great and blessed WHOSOEVER, and that salvation from everlasting perdition and the gift of eternal life were for him. Yes, more truly for him than if his own name had been in the verse, for there were many in Scotland bearing his name, whereas God's "whosoever" stretched out its long arms of blessing to embrace all who would simply believe no matter what their name or nation. There and then he, an anxious sinner, put his faith in the only-begotten Son of God, who had died for him, and he had known from that time onward that he had a Saviour in heaven who would not let him perish.
The younger brother told us that on the same night that his brother turned to the Saviour he also found the blessing. It was at home by the fireside that his father pointed out to him a beautiful verse in the Bible. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
He learnt that his sins had been laid upon the Lord Jesus, his holy substitute, that He had suffered the judgment of divine justice instead of him, that He had not only been delivered for his transgression, but had been raised again from the dead, positive proof that the work was finished, the debt paid, that God was satisfied in all His holy claims, and that the sins were gone for ever. Who, seeing this, could refuse to bow the knee and confess Jesus as Lord? Certainly he could not refrain from this, and there and then he surrendered to the Saviour, confessing Him as his Lord. He also told how that the next day he confessed the name of Christ at the dentistry establishment where he was at the time an apprentice, and that a fellow-dentist there remarked, "This is an important event, we must make a note of it," and wrote on the wall "Conversion of St. Edward, Jany. 1891," and added, "but in three weeks St. Edward will be the same as he was before." The scoffer was no true prophet, however, as the happy face of the young dentist proved that night.
I, too, had a story to tell, a story of sin and need on my part, but of love and mercy and cleansing blood on the Saviour's part, a story such as every saved soul delights to tell for the glory of God.
The young medical student listened to us with growing interest, and before we finished our tales of grace he had ceased to be an agnostic. He felt that his need was what ours had been, and that the Saviour who had saved us could also save him. And so we knelt together, just the four of us, two Scotsmen, one Irishman, and one Englishman, and we found the Saviour very near to us as that anxious sinner sought Him.
Our kneeling there together was an incident that would not have interested the ordinary man of the world, but at that moment that young man's sins were forgiven and his soul was saved, and he could say,
"'Tis done, the great transaction done,
I am my Lord's, and He is mine."
The greatest event that could happen in the history of any man.
God has given the abundance of the earth for the upkeep of your body, but for the salvation of your soul He has given His only-begotten Son. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:27). "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent."
The Salvation of the Canteen Sergeant, and his Heroic Death.
Sergeant-Major M—, of the 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., the Canteen Sergeant of our story, certainly died the death of a Christian hero. He might have saved his own life, but it would have been at the risk of the lives of the men whom he loved, and for whom he had often prayed, and whom he had constantly sought to win for his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I met him two years previously in Dublin, and there heard the story of his conversion from his own lips. When the war broke out I thought that his story might be the means of blessing to other men, so wrote it as a tract for the soldiers. Not knowing where he was, I was unable to obtain his permission to do this, but the published story was sent out to him by a friend into whose hands it came, and he responded to it in a letter to me in which he said:
"I am resting under the shadow of the Almighty in an ancient town in Flanders. . . . As to the story of my conversion, I am ready to be anything at all times for my Master's sake, and am still the happy Christian whom you met in Dublin, though I should not care to call myself zealous as you do. Still never a day passes on which I do not endeavour by word and deed to show that I have Christ, and on every occasion when the men of my battalion are out of the trenches we have a Gospel, prayer, and praise meeting."
Several letters passed between us since I received that first from him. In one of them he wrote, "I would not change places with any man in the world. This is a glorious work, and not a few are coming asking the way of life; there is no need to go after men, though I do that."
Again he wrote, "Our men came out of the trenches late last night, and early this morning arrived at the base. . . . With Sergeant-Major F—, of the R.F.A., we held an evening service. . . . Hearts were prepared for the message, and at the close between 30 and 40 knelt in the ring, desirous of enlisting under the banner of the cross. It was a glorious sight and must have set heaven ringing with joy. . . . The men were loath to leave that meeting, and altogether 56 names were taken, all openly admitting that they realised that Christ Jesus had taken them to Himself."
Six days after writing that letter Sergeant-Major M— was absent from the body, present with the Lord. The story of his conversion is given herewith, as it appeared in the early days of the war, save for a few slight corrections made by himself.
* * * * *
Canteen Sergeant M —, of a famous Yorkshire regiment, had come through several fights in the Boer War without a scratch, but he did not feel like congratulating himself on this; he sometimes wished that the fate of many of his gallant comrades whose blood had been drunk by the rough country on the Modder River had been his, for he had lost all joy in life. Drink and worse things had diseased and shattered his strong frame: he was notoriously wicked, and as wretched as man could be.
One day in camp at Kimberley, in May, 1900, he seemed to reach the very depth of misery; but instead of blaming himself and his sins, he cursed God with a flood of curses, as though He were the cause of it all. And almost instantly God, who is not far from any one of us, gave an answer to his curses.
Each incident of that day will never be forgotten by him, for it left an indelible stamp upon his memory. With the oaths hot upon his lips, and red rage against God flaming up in his heart, he went into a canteen. Lying upon a table in it was a small leaflet: he did not know what it was or who had put it there, but he took it up and read it. A blow between his eyes, delivered by an unseen hand, could not have startled him more than what he read in that leaflet did; it was God's answer to his rage, an answer so strange and unexpected that the sergeant's glib tongue could find no words with which to express his astonishment. These were the words: "You may be a great sinner, but God loves you, for God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). M— had never thought of God in that way before, and as the meaning of the words entered his very soul, he broke down where he stood.
Outside the canteen was a group of his comrades; they would have laughed at his tears had they seen him, and he did not feel like meeting them then; he wanted to be alone in order to think this matter over, and so he crept out behind the canteen, and away into the gathering night.
What an astounding thing was this; God loved him, a blaspheming canteen sergeant! a sinner whose sins were like scarlet! It seemed impossible, and yet it was true, and the truth of it folded him in its warm embrace; like the light of the morning it shone in his heart, and as he thought about it he sobbed like a child. Then he came face to face with the one man in his company that he had disliked, a Christian soldier, who also that evening wished to escape the company of his comrades. It was a dramatic meeting. "What's the matter?" asked the Christian. Through his tears M— told him what had happened, and how he had read that God loved him. And they knelt together, those two men, beneath the open sky, and there the great sinner realized the pardoning grace of God and the peace that follows the realization of it. Those comrades in arms, brothers in Christ now, for they were saved by the same Saviour, talked and prayed and praised God together for a while. They talked of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us in order to prove that God loves the sinner, who shed His precious blood that the worst of sins might be washed from our souls for ever, and who died and rose again that we might have eternal redemption in Him.
They praised God for the grace that had pardoned their sins, and prayed that He would help them to confess the name of the Saviour boldly and at once.
To confess Christ before godless companions does not seem an easy thing to do. Many a man, who would have no fear were a hundred Germans charging down upon him with bayonets fixed, has become the worst of cowards when he has thought of the jeers of his comrades in the camp. But the converted sergeant had believed in a great Saviour, who had died for him and risen again, who had delivered him from the power of the devil and sin, and of that Saviour he would not be ashamed. Straight to the canteen he went: there were many men there, some of the worst, and they all knew the sergeant. It mattered not to him what they knew or thought; he was now a forgiven man, and he was full of the fact that God loved him, and plainly and bluntly he told them the truth, and owned before them that Christ was now his Saviour.
It was no passing emotion that swept over him that night out in distant South Africa. The Saviour he found then has proved well worth knowing, and one year ago when I met him, twelve years after his conversion, Sergeant-Major M— was a happy, healthy Christian, zealously serving the Lord amongst the men of his company.
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved . . . for the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed" (Rom. 10:9 and 11).
There is not a sinner on earth, no matter how terrible or gross his transgressions, who may not be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you can show me within the covers of that Bible one text that declares that you, or any other sinner, may not come to the Saviour, then I must cease from preaching, for I could not henceforth proclaim this "Whosoever" Gospel in which I delight.
But there is no such text. On the contrary, "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). That is enough for me. Let it be enough for you. Cast the burden of your guilt at the Saviour's feet. He is your only hope. Put your case into His hand, and you will prove for yourself that God's "whosoever" Gospel is a great reality.
"Christ has Conquered?"
While staying in Dublin I was asked by a Christian doctor to visit a young man who had been badly hit by consumption; he was lying in a small hospital in the city, with practically no hope of recovery. My doctor-friend told me that he had a Christian mother, but that he had developed atheistic notions and did not care to be spoken to about God and eternity.
He was dozing when I arrived at the hospital, but the sister of the small but exceedingly pleasant ward kindly allowed me to sit by his bed-side for a while in case he awoke.
He was not long in opening his eyes, and seemed surprised to find a stranger at his side. I explained that I had been asked to visit him by the doctor whom he knew, and asked if I might read a little to him out of my book — drawing my Bible from my pocket as I spoke.
His lip curled in scorn, and he said, "I am surprised that a sensible-looking fellow like you should believe in that book; it's a collection of old wives' fables." I replied, "I am surprised to hear you talk like that, for I hear that you have a Christian mother, that she taught you to read this book when you were a child, and has never ceased to pray for you throughout the thirty years of your life. Tell me how you came to have such notions as you now hold."
"Yes," he said, "my mother taught me that the Bible was the Word of God, and a good mother she always was. But as a lad of fifteen, or so, I began to have questions as to whether there was a God after all. Nobody could satisfy me on this point, and I decided to be a man and think for myself. I was still under twenty when I went to America, where I joined a secular society, and I have lectured on the absurdities of the Bible from New York to San Francisco." I had gained his confidence, and he told me much more than this: interesting details of a chequered life that revealed a restless spirit and an unsatisfied heart. When he had finished, I said to him, "Thank you for telling me so frankly and fully the story of your life. I also have a story to tell; I wonder if you would care to hear it?"
"Certainly," he said, "I shall be glad to hear it."
"Well, I also had a Christian mother and she taught me the wonderful Bible stories from my earliest childhood, and in those days my young heart seemed to respond to what she taught me, especially to the story of JESUS and His great love. But when I reached about the age of fifteen I also had infidel thoughts. I knew that I was a sinner, and that the Bible said I must give an account to God. And I was afraid. Then it was that the thought crept into my mind: What a good thing it would be if there were no God, for then I could live as I pleased without any fear of the consequences. The sinful wish that it might be so was father to the infidel thought." He winced most perceptibly at this point in my narrative, and I saw that the bow, drawn at a venture, had sent the arrow to the mark.
"The thought grew in my mind," I continued, "until I said, 'I do not believe that there is a God after all; who can really say for certain?' And that very day the Life of Charles Bradlaugh was put into my hand. I read it with avidity, it seemed to confirm my thoughts, and I said boldly, within my heart, 'There is no God.' Those were dark hours for me, perhaps the darkest in my life, but they did not last long, for the misery of them brought me to my knees before God to seek His forgiveness, and I afterwards found through faith in my mother's Saviour, that all the sins that had made me afraid of God were gone from me for ever, washed away in the blood of Jesus, who died for sinners."
I rose and said, "I will not stay longer to-day, but if I may return to-morrow I will."
"I should be glad if you would," he replied; "and thank you for your visit."
The next day he greeted me very warmly and said he had been looking for me, and after a talk as to his illness, I said, "Shall I read a few verses from my Book?" "Yes, I wish you would," he said, and closed his eyes tight to hide the gathering tears, I thought.
What part of the whole Book, so full of precious words for weary souls, could be more suitable for the dying sceptic than Isaiah 53? I turned to that chapter, and read:
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.
"He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken."
We talked earnestly together for half an hour, and then with his consent I knelt at his side, and prayed that the God of all grace would make clear to him those things that we had read from the Scriptures.
I was to leave the city the next day for home, and he said to me, "Leave me your address, and if ever I get what you have got I will write and tell you."
The days passed by, but at last there arrived the letter with the Dublin post-mark, and this was the welcome tidings that the letter brought: —
"My dear Friend,
"Christ has conquered! I cannot tell you exactly how it has come about, I only know that it has, and now I have a peace in looking forward to death that I never thought possible.
"The Bible, the book that I despised, is my constant companion and I am learning wonderful things out of it. . . ."
So the letter ran, filled to the end with expressions of thankfulness to the Saviour who had suffered upon Calvary that he might be saved, and of regrets that the spring-tide of his life had been wasted in infidelity and sin.
He lived a few months, a confessor of Christ as his Lord, and went home to Him at last to be for ever a trophy of the mercy which saves the sinner without any merit on his part. By the self-same means must all be saved who are saved; those ransomed multitudes who shall dwell in God's everlasting home shall be there not because of their deservings, for every several one in the countless host were hell-deserving, but they will be in heaven through the "blest merits of the Saviour's blood."
"It Passeth Knowledge."
We were talking together, a young Scotsman and I. He was in deep soul-trouble; for he had discovered that he was a sinful man, a neglecter of God's great salvation, and he wanted to be saved.
I read to him those wonderful words in Isaiah 53:5: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Then I said to him: "You take my book and read the verse, and put yourself into it, as you do. Change the plural pronoun into the singular." He took the Bible, and read slowly and with a good deal of feeling. "He was wounded for MY transgressions; He was bruised for MY iniquities; the chastisement of MY peace was upon Him; and with His stripes I —." He stopped there suddenly, and burst into a big sob. I waited until he managed to control himself, and said to him, "What's the matter?" He replied, "I cannot understand why He should have loved me so much as to die for me; I haven't cared about Him at all." "Neither can I understand it," I replied, and God knew that neither of us would be able to understand it, and so He calls it in His Word, "THE LOVE OF CHRIST THAT PASSETH KNOWLEDGE."
That remark helped him and he believed what he could not understand.
The Next World.
Amongst the young men of my acquaintance who found soldiers' graves in France, was one who lived in our sea coast town. His last letter to me was a very thoughtful and interesting one, in which he told me that out there he had refaced the great problems of life and death and of time and eternity, and had found his faith in Christ strengthened thereby. The Lord was his hope and confidence whether in life or in death; and his only regret at being in France and not at home was that he could not wheel out his invalid mother on sunny days as he had been used to do. His conversion was an exceedingly interesting one, and I will try and tell it in as nearly his words as I can. He had a companion with whom he used to stroll in the country. They were thoughtful lads, and some would think them queer, for they preferred a quiet holiday of that kind to the football field or the picture palace. They had read a great deal; his friend had devoted himself mostly to socialistic and atheistic literature, and was in revolt against society as they viewed it, and both professed scepticism as to the existence of God.
They had chosen a pleasant spot for their outing, but this only added to their disgust at the state of things in general. His friend, a budding orator, said to him, "This lovely spot that we are enjoying to-day will all be spoilt in a few years' time. The capitalist will invade it, and giant oaks and peaceful walks will be blotted out, and grimy chimneys and ugly factories and wretched cottages will take their places. But that is the way everything that is beautiful in this world goes; and then there's the war! Life is not worth living. I wish I were dead."
My young friend had agreed with him up to that point, when suddenly, he could not tell why or from whence, a question flashed into his mind and was at once put into words: "And I wonder if life in the next world will be any better for us?" The young orator argued against there being another life and a next world, and with all the assurance of ignorance declared that when a man died that was the end of him.
But the question had thoroughly startled my friend, and he could not shake off the anxiety that it had produced in his mind. "The next world!" He must find out something about that, and at once; but to what book should he turn for information? He would try his mother's Bible; and so for hours on that Saturday night he read from the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, onwards. The result of that first prolonged reading of that wonderful Book was that his scepticism fell away from him, a deep conviction laid hold of him that God is, and that he had to give an account to Him as to how he spent this life; and then in the next world there was heaven and hell, and his business was to win the one and escape the other if this was within the bounds of possibility.
He did not sleep much that night, but he did better; he decided between heaven and hell, and his definite choice was "Heaven for me." Another thing He argued out with himself, and it was this: the Book that told so clearly of these two great destinations, to one or other of which every individual is travelling, would also tell us clearly how to leave the broad way and how to enter and tread the narrow way that leads to life and heaven. That was a sound argument, and he set himself to find the way from that self-same Book!
Now, as he continued to read another truth gripped him. He discovered that a wonderful person, spoken of amongst other names and titles as "Jesus," "Christ," "the only-begotten Son of God," and the "Lord Jesus Christ," had made a great sacrifice in order to save him from hell and win him for heaven. There could be no doubt about this, for he read: "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). "Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8), and "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Then this lad of seventeen years made another decision on his bended knees; he said, "Lord Jesus, if Thou didst make this great sacrifice to save me, the only right thing for me to do is to yield my soul and life to Thee, and I do it now." That was a grand decision, and it changed his whole outlook. It made this life worth living and gave him a bright prospect for the next.
He learnt many things after that. Amongst them was his own sinfulness, in that he had lived for his own pleasure and forgotten God his Maker, and that it was because of his sinfulness that Jesus had to die, for "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). But the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God "cleanseth from all sin" (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7). But this one thought governed him: The Son of God loved me, and made a great sacrifice for me, and now and henceforward I must live for Him.
I was glad that I had known him when the news came through that he had been killed; especially glad that I had heard the story of his conversion from his own lips, and that I had had that last letter from him; glad to be able to assure the distressed parents, on the authority of the Word of God, that since their boy had yielded himself to the Saviour, he was with Him now, for, for every one that believeth, it is true, that "whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord's."
While travelling with a friend in Jamaica, who was a native of the place, we happened to see growing near to the roadside a curious little bush. He pointed it out to me, and suggested that I should let my clothes touch it. I did so, and at once found myself caught by a hooked thorn not unlike a fish-hook. While releasing myself from it I was caught by another, and then again by still another, and it was only with much care and patience that I got clear of it at last. "Wait a bit" is the name given to the bush by the natives of the island, and an exceptionally good name I thought it.
Has not the devil got many such bushes growing alongside the road which leads to the blessing? Indeed he has. You wake up to the fact that it is time you thought of eternity, and immediately you are caught by some pleasure, or pursuit, or sin, which holds and detains you, saying, "Wait a bit," and many are thus detained until it is too late for ever.
You mean to be saved, to have Jesus for your Saviour some day. Do it now; do not tread the road of By-and-By, for it leads eventually to the town of "Never."
The Text on the Wall.
The thing that troubled me more than anything else, as a lad in my teens, was a text of Scripture that hung in our home. Four words only was the length of it, but those four words fastened themselves upon my mind, and made me afraid on most unexpected occasions. The four words were: "THOU GOD SEEST ME."
I had been taught that "God is love"; that He sought my greatest blessing, and desired that I should be happy for ever. I knew that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish, but have everlasting life; and yet I was afraid, and many a time and oft I wished that there were no God, and that the text were a delusion.
It may seem strange that I should have felt like that, but the reason is not difficult to find. I was a sinner, and knew that all my sins were placed on record in God's Book, that there were no mistakes in God's book-keeping, and that I could not erase a single entry therein. It was true in my case, as in all others, that, —
"The moving finger writes —
And having writ, moves on,
Nor all my piety nor wit
Can lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all my tears blot out one word of it."
I remember reading about that time a story by a famous writer, in which he suggested that the recording angel often dropped a tear of pity upon the page whereon he had recorded some sin, as though he could wash it out. I wished the suggestion were true, but I knew it was not. I read, also, in the Book that always tells the truth, of the time when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God; when the books shall be opened and the dead judged out of the things written in the books, every man according to his works (Rev. 20:11-15). It was this that made the text a trouble to me, so much so that often at night I would bury my face in my pillow in the vain endeavour to blot it out from my thoughts.
Then there came a certain Gospel Service in which I heard old truths clearly and powerfully preached. At the close of it I was induced to stay to a second meeting, when the preacher announced that we would sing the hymn: —
"Oh, do not let the Word depart,
And close thine eyes against the light,
Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,
Thou wouldst be saved; why not to-night?"
I tried to sing that verse with the rest of the people, but I couldn't. The lump rose to my throat, and the tears to my eyes, for I felt that I had been hardening any heart for a long time against the love of a Saviour God. I hoped that nobody would see my anxiety and grief; but the preacher had a keen eye for anxious sinners, and presently he sat down by my side, and putting his arm round me, he gave me a warm hug and said, "You'll trust Him to-night, won't you, dear?" I had no need to ask him who he meant by "Him." I knew that he was speaking of JESUS, the only begotten Son of God, who had died that I might live, who had shed His precious blood that my sins might all be cleansed. So in reply to the preacher's question, I replied, "Yes, I will trust Him to-night."
The preacher asked no more questions, he took that to be my decision, which it was, and he said, We'll sing, —
"'Tis done, the great transaction's done,
I am my Lord's, and He is mine.
He drew me, and I followed on,
Glad to confess His voice divine.
Happy day! Happy day!
When Jesus washed my sins away."
I did not sing the words then, but I did before I slept that night, and I can sing them to-day as I look back to that solemn but blessed hour.
I am not now afraid of the text that once troubled me so much. On the contrary, I rejoice that every deed of mine, even the most sinful, was seen by God, that not one act escaped His notice; and my reason for this is, that, knowing all, He has forgiven all. You will understand this, I think, if you recall the story of the prodigal of Luke 15. He said to his father, "I have sinned before heaven, and in Thy sight." In other words, "I have sinned, and you know it all." But the father having kissed him with the kiss of forgiveness, brought him into his house, clad in the best robe, and then they began to be merry.
Suppose for the moment that the boy's sinfulness had not been known to the father. Then he would have lived under the continual fear that somebody coming from the far country would tell his father of his misdeeds, and that if he knew the truth he would turn him out of his doors. But no such fear affected him; he could say, "My father knows the worst about me, and has kissed and forgiven me in spite of it all. All is known and all is forgiven." And I can say the same, thank God, and so can every sinner that has come to God through Christ Jesus the Saviour. This knowledge brings a great peace to the heart.
Such a forgiveness as this God offers to all; it is a complete clearance, and it is offered freely through the Lord Jesus Christ. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, 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 ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
O Lord, I bring to Thee.
O Lord, I bring to Thee
This sinful life of mine,
There is no rest for me,
Save in Thy love divine.
WEARY I come to Thee,
For Lord Thou callest me.
I own to Thee my guilt,
No merit can I plead,
But Lord, Thou canst, Thou wilt
Meet e'en my deepest need.
SINFUL I come to Thee,
Have mercy, Lord on me.
Take Thou this ruined life,
I yield it up to Thee,
And change sin's bitter strife
For peace and liberty.
HELPLESS I come to Thee,
For Thou hast died for me.
Sinful and weak I fear,
To take my way alone,
Saviour I look to Thee,
Exalted on the Throne.
I'd draw my strength from Thee,
For Lord, Thou lovest me.
Four of us sat one on each side of a square table in a small parlour. We were three young men and myself; two of them now lie in soldiers' graves in France. We were not there to shuffle cards or crack jokes, or even discuss the topics of the day; we had graver business in hand. These three young men had attended on the night previous a Gospel service, and there had been awakened within them a desire to hear more of the way of salvation, for they felt they were not right with God. It was interesting and remarkable that each of them, close friends as they were, had been similarly affected, and when they discovered this at the close of the service, it made them all the more eager for an interview. And so we arranged to meet at a friend's house and talk things over.
They had many difficulties which they freely aired; for instance, they were all three fond of sport, and they wanted to know whether if they yielded to Christ they would get something that would please them more. I assured them that the Lord Jesus was brighter and better than the brightest and best that the world could give. They were afraid, too, that if they became Christians they would have a hard time with their chums; they would get laughed at and scorned, and would probably lose many a merry mate. I assured them that the best friend to have is JESUS, and that they would be worse than fools if they allowed the jeers of godless men to keep them away from Him whom they knew they needed the most. There were a good many other questions; but all these, one by one, were answered, and they were brought to own candidly that they were sinful men, that they would have to meet God about their sins, and they were not ready. They went further, and acknowledged that they wanted to be ready, that they had talked the matter over, and had decided to ask me to help them.
It was easy then to tell them of the Saviour who died for sinners, and so for them; who shed His precious blood to cleanse away the sins of guilty men, and so to cleanse theirs away. I told them that the Saviour who died for them was now a living Saviour, for He had been raised from the dead, and that He claimed their confidence, and all that remained for them was to yield themselves to Him in simple faith.
The leader of the three was sitting opposite to me, and he broke in upon my talk by saying, "What's the use of talking to us about believing in Christ; how can we believe in Him unless God's Holy Spirit makes us? I tell you I can't believe."
I replied, "I am afraid it is not a question of can't but won't. But suppose you could believe in Jesus. Will you suppose that you could for three minutes?"
"All right, I will," he said.
"Well, now, suppose you could believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, WILT THOU HAVE THIS SAVIOUR TO BE THY SAVIOUR, NOW?"
I looked into his eyes, and his friends looked eagerly into his eyes, and we waited for his answer. After a pause I repeated the question, "Wilt thou have this Saviour to be thy Saviour, to-night?"
The dear fellow's eyes filled up with tears, and he stretched his hand across the table, and took mine in a warm grip, and replied, "I WILL." And with that decision every difficulty disappeared, his anxiety departed, he was saved, and saw it so clearly that his friends were astonished. One of them made a clear decision too; I could not be sure about the other. But this was plain enough to them all, that it was the "I will" on their part that was needed.
The Lord Jesus has said His "I will." "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28); and "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
And God has said, "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. IF YE BE WILLING" (Isaiah 1:18, 19).
Nothing could be plainer, and when a sinner feels his need of the Saviour, and is ready to say "I will" to Him — to the Lord Jesus Christ — the great transaction is for ever done.
God will not Sell His Blessing.
Money cannot secure the blessing; if it could, the rich alone could claim it, and poor folk would go wanting for ever. But God has made His salvation free; it is an absolute gift from Him to all who get it. There are some who would like to put God in the place of the merchant in the market place, bartering His goods to the highest bidder, but their desires will never be gratified. There are two reasons why God will not sell His blessing:
1st. Men are far too poor to buy it;
2nd. God is far too rich to sell it.
But He gives it gladly and freely to whosoever will take it in simple, child-like faith.
How a Young Sapper lost his Misery.
A company of Royal Engineers were stationed at North Shields. It was a Sunday in the early part of January, the very day when the German raid was attempted which ended in the sinking of the Bluecher. The men were confined to their billets that day to be ready for any emergency; indeed they had had no liberty for a week, but on this Sunday there was one of them who was so intensely wretched that, as he said, "he could not stick it anyhow"; he felt he must do something, and so he slipped out of the fort to try and find some relief. He did not want to be seen by the regimental police, so he crossed the river by the ferry, and there he was stopped by a Christian man and invited to a Gospel service. He came and listened; listened so earnestly, in fact, that I had singled him out before the preaching was over as one who seemed anxious to be saved.
When the meeting closed, I asked any who were in trouble, especially the boys in khaki, or any who were anxious to be saved — like the jailor at Philippi (Acts 16) of whom I had been speaking — to stay and have a quiet and personal talk, as we wanted to help them. The young sapper remained and said to me, "I should like to speak to you, for I have a great sin on my soul, and am awfully miserable."
I asked him to tell me about himself, which he did. He was eighteen years old; fifteen months before his mother had died, and he had joined the army and gone to Chatham. There he had got in with an evil set of men and women, and had taken the downward way at the "double." "Seems to me," I said, "that you have got a lot of big sins on your soul." "I have," he said, "And I'm glad my dear old mother is dead; it would have broken her heart if she could have known about me." Then the poor lad, having finished his tale of sin, sobbed and wept on my shoulder.
We knelt down together and told his sorrow to God; as we did so, the story of Calvary, which he had often heard in his home as a lad, and at the Sunday School, appeared in an entirely new light to him. He had always believed that Jesus died upon the cross, now he saw that it was for him that He had suffered there, for we looked together at that verse in Romans 5:6, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time, CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY." He had confessed that he was ungodly, and so he was able to say, "That means me, Christ died for me."
From that verse we turned to Isaiah 53. And the young soldier read the fifth verse of that wonderful chapter, changing the plural pronoun to the singular, and laying the emphasis on it as he read. "He was wounded for MY TRANSGRESSIONS, He was bruised for MY INIQUITIES: the chastisement of MY PEACE was upon Him; and with His stripes I AM HEALED." And he found that though his sins were as scarlet — the indelible dye — yet by the precious blood of Jesus, God could make them as white as snow.
Before we rose from our knees he thanked God for showing him the way of salvation; not in the same words, but meaning the same thing as a young recruit in the "Duke of Wellington's," who said in my hearing, "O God, I thank Thee for bringing this light into my life."
He said to me as I left him near his billet, "I haven't slept for nights for misery, but I can go to my bed to-night and say, 'God has forgiven me.'"
Like the father of the prodigal, God had run to meet him, had given him the kiss of forgiveness, and changed his misery to merriment.
I looked out every day for a letter from my young friend, and was very disappointed when a fortnight passed without news. But then I got a note from him, written in the trenches "somewhere in France." It told me that he was "SO HAPPY." His sins were forgiven; his guilty conscience had been relieved of its burden; he had peace with God. All this was his, not because he deserved it, not because he had made up his mind to reform his ways and live a good, clean life, but because he had come as a miserable and helpless sinner to the one and only Saviour of sinners — the Lord Jesus Christ.
The blessing that he got, all may have, for the Saviour says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The drunkard, the gambler, the profligate, all may come, and Jesus will receive them, for He says, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." And those who have not indulged in these vices need to come to Him too, for "All have sinned." They are no exceptions to this sweeping rule. How glad we should be that "whosoever will" may come.
I did not hear again from the young sapper, and it may be that his body lies with many others of his brave comrades, beneath the sad soil of one of those awful battle fields, and we may not meet again on earth, or again we may; but whether or not, I know that he is safe, for his Saviour and mine has said, "My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (John 10:27, 28).
The Waiting Friend.
"Will you not stay to our after-meeting and yield to Christ?" I said to a young man at the close of a preaching service.
"I cannot," he replied. "There is a friend waiting for me outside."
"And there is a Friend waiting for you inside. He has waited for you a good many years. Do you know His Name?" I remarked.
My young friend hung his head; the shot had gone home.
"You would not like to disappoint the friend outside," I continued; "but you do not mind disappointing the Friend who is waiting inside, and yet He continues to wait. Do you know His Name?"
"It is Jesus," he replied.
"And will you still keep Him waiting?"
Thank God, that night he turned to the Friend who waits to receive and bless poor sinners.
This same wondrous Friend of sinners is waiting, waiting, waiting still — waiting for you who are still away from Him. How many of you, my readers, will keep Him waiting longer?
For a moment, while reading this page, you are withdrawn from the world, and the Saviour waits so near at hand to receive you.
But outside there is the world which professes lasting friendship, but you know full well its promises are false.
Pleasure, sin, Satan, all wait outside to please you for a while, and then to cast you off, and leave you comfortless and lonely in the night of your despair.
Will you listen to the voices of the false friends outside, who would keep you outside of heaven and the blessing of God for ever; or, will you now listen to the voice of the "Friend that loveth at all times," who "sticketh closer than a brother," who, that He might have your friendship, showed Himself to be friendly, and laid down His life that He might be your Saviour?
"I own Jesus as my Lord."
For some days a young man of my acquaintance had been anxious about his soul's salvation, and now at the close of a Gospel meeting, he remained seeking that which he felt he needed above all beside.
After talking for a while with him, I said: "Now tell me just what you think about these matters." For a moment he bowed his head, and then, rising to his feet, he raised his right hand, and said: "I own Jesus as my Lord." It was well said — a glorious decision, entailing eternal salvation. Make the same decision to-day, my unconverted reader.
* * * * *
"I will never bow my knee to that Man," said a man to me in the West Indies, as I pressed upon him the claims of Christ.
Vain boast when God hath declared "that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).
Washed and Brushed Up!
It was a wet and raw November Sunday in Edinburgh, the sort of day that often greatly tests the preacher of the Gospel, for he knows that he is more than likely to have fewer ears to listen to his message. And yet such a day often brings some within sound of the Word who would other wise have avoided it as they would the policeman.
So it happened on this day of which I write. We were holding our Gospel services in a theatre in the city, and amongst others who came to the afternoon service was a human derelict, a man who slunk in to the service with the one hope of shelter from the biting east wind. He was good material for a Gospel service. He had been brought up in a Christian home in the North of Ireland, and while still in his teens had kicked over the traces like a young unbroken horse, and from that time had served sin and the devil with both hands eagerly. At the start he had had great hopes, for the world and the devil had promised a life of freedom and gaiety. They always do that, but they don't fulfil their promises; they don't deliver the goods, though they often damn the souls of those who listen to them. Our friend was one of their many victims, a wretched sinner, without a penny to buy a meal or pay for a bed, shivering on the brink of hell.
The story of redeeming love, of a Saviour who shed His blood for the salvation of ruined men, awakened memories of the old home, of the praying mother, and of the father who loved and served God, and he stayed to talk with us afterwards. We thought that all he sought was food and shelter, but in this we misjudged him. He told us that he would have committed suicide long ago if he had not dreaded the judgment that he knew followed after death. He told us that he knew that his sins had blasted his life, broken his parents' hearts, and dishonoured God, and this turned out to be true repentance.
We did not know how absolutely destitute he was, and he did not tell us, and we let him go away on his promising to return to the evening service. He spent the interval in the Princes Street Gardens, spending part of the time there on his knees, and there alone he confessed the terrible story of his sinful life to God, and returned in the evening to tell us that God had forgiven him. There was no doubt about it either. The early teaching had come back to him as he sat lonely and desolate in those gardens. He remembered that the Lord Jesus had said, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"; he remembered having heard that He had also said, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."
Yes, he was a changed man, and we had a long talk that night about the greatness of God's love, which led Him to give His only-begotten Son for sinners, and of the value of the precious blood of Jesus that cleanseth from all sin. And not till then did we discover how complete a wreck as to all things material he was.
He returned to our service on the Monday night with a happy face, and told us that "God was good," and that he had been successful in getting work that very morning.
We saw a good bit of him for some weeks, and everybody could see that the grace of God that had saved him was teaching him how to behave himself, and then he left the city for work elsewhere. It would be about six months after that red-letter day in his history that a dear friend who had been a good help to him was accosted at a gathering of believers in another Scotch town by a man that he did not recognize, a smart, well-dressed, happy man. "Don't you know me, Doctor?" he asked. "What!" said the doctor, "is it our old friend William?" "Yes, Doctor, it is," he replied." You see, when the Lord had hold of me, He not only saved me, but He washed and brushed me up."
If He could save an almost hopeless man like William, He can save the reader, and the reader needs His saving power just as much as William did. That "there is no difference" is not a pleasant doctrine to all who hear it, but it is true, "for all have sinned."
Oh, how thankful should we be that God has provided a way of salvation for sinners. That He commends His love to us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Better news we could not hear. Happy is every soul that believes it.
JESUS, my Saviour, come I to Thee,
Take me, oh! take me, Thine ever to be;
Guilty and helpless, this is my plea,
That Thou hast suffered for sinners like me.
Nothing I bring as price for my sin,
Thy blood alone my redemption doth win.
This is my hope, none other I know;
Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Jesus, my Saviour, to Thee I yield,
Henceforth to own Thee my Lord and my Shield;
Keep me, oh! keep me close to Thy side,
There shall I safely for ever abide.
Every Dark Shadow wiped out.
I was sitting by the couch of a dying relative, and our conversation turned on the deeply important matter of his prospects for eternity.
He had some years before attended a Gospel meeting which I had held in the town, in the course of which the well-known story of Martin Luther's dream was told as follows: —
He imagined that Satan stood before him with two huge scrolls in his hand, upon which was a true record of his sins. On being assured that all his sins were there recorded, he triumphantly exclaimed: "Take thy pen, O Satan, and write across the scrolls: 'The blood of Jesus Christ God's Son, cleanseth [ME] from all sin.'"
The dying man referred to this incident, and quietly said: "There is great comfort in that verse — EVERY DARK SHADOW IS WIPED OUT."
Dark shadows there had been in his life, or he could not have spoken of them as being wiped out. But what an unspeakable joy to find that there was something that could wipe them out. Dark shadows there are in your life, O reader! aye, darker than pen of mortal can describe. You know it, and God knows it; have you discovered yet that which can wipe them all out? Nothing but the blood of Jesus can do it, for God has declared: "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22); but He has also declared that "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). And were your sins as dark as the midnight of the damned there is comfort for you in words like those, for every dark sin may be wiped out.
An Old Man's Mistake.
In response to a request I called to have a talk with an old man who was too ill to leave his bed.
He assured me that he had lived a good life and so had nothing to fear for the future.
I said, "I had better read to you from God's Book; we shall get the truth of the matter there." So I read "There is none righteous, no, not one. . . . There is none that doeth good, no, not one. . . . There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:10-12-23). These words seemed to startle the old man, and he said, after thinking about them for a little, "I am afraid that I have been a bit of both bad and good, but perhaps God will balance the one against the other."
"Well," I said, "let us consider that now. You go to Mr. Brown, the grocer, and you get goods from him every day for a week, and pay for all you get, that would be doing right. The next week you get more goods from him for which you don't pay, they are booked against you. Then the following week you pay for what you got, and then again the next you don't. Do you think that Mr. Brown would balance one week against another and call it square at the end of the month?"
"No, he would not," was his reply, and it seemed as though the folly of his false hope for his future was apparent to him.
There are a good many folk whose notions are very much akin to his. They hope that what they call the good in their lives will be set off against the bad in the day of judgment. But they are deceived of the devil. To begin with, that which they call "good" is base coin, it has no purchasing power; or to use the striking simile of the Bible, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Wise men and women believe what God says, even though they may not feel or understand it. And when they own that they have no goodness, but are sinners indeed, lost and helpless, then they are ready to hear those glorious gospel statements.
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS" (1 Timothy, 1:15).
"The Son of Man is come to seek and to save THAT WHICH WAS LOST (Luke 19:10).
"When we were yet WITHOUT STRENGTH, in due time CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY (Romans 5:6).
"GET right with God" — for life is sad and dreary
Without the sunshine of His face divine;
Turn now to Him, who offers untold blessing
To satisfy the need of souls like thine.
"Get right with God" — thy load of guilt is heavy,
And God alone can take that load away;
He gave His well-beloved Son to suffer
Upon the cross, thy every debt to pay.
"Get right with God" — no longer be rebellious
Against the love that seeks thy soul to win;
Bow down at last, and as thy Lord confess Him,
Whose blood alone can cleanse away thy sin.
"Get right with God" — Eternity's before thee,
How dark 'twill be if, banished from His face,
Thou goest forth into the night of sorrow,
A stranger ever to His saving grace.
A Warning to Neglecters.
Cold and lifeless lay one to whom I had often spoken. He was genial in disposition, and prosperous in business, but I fear he was a Christ-rejecter. It was in a Canadian city. We were holding Gospel meetings, and the one of whom I write came, listened, and seemed to be impressed. I had a long talk with him, and sought to show him the danger of turning away from the only Saviour for sinners; but as we parted, he said, "It is all true, no doubt, but I can't take Christ now." I left that city, and returned to it again after a short absence. As I stepped from the railway car to the platform at the station a friend met me, saying, "You won't have heard of poor B— this morning at two o'clock he died." The first words that started to my lips were, "Was he saved?" and sad indeed did the answer of my friend make me: "No, we could not say that; he died apparently without hope."
That evening I stood beside the coffin, and gazed upon that face, now still and dead, and sorrow surged through my heart. He might have been saved, but was he? He might have passed into realms of endless joy; but it seemed as though he had missed it. Almost he had decided for Christ — almost was he wrapped in the arms of the Saviour's love; but we fear that he had rejected this, and had gone from earth's business, pleasure, and friends to eternal loss.
I turned from gazing on that face to speak a word of comfort to the sorrowing young wife, but could not — the words would not come, though the tears did. I had to go away from the house of death with a lump in my throat, and the sorrow "without hope" for him who had gone.
Oh! to die is solemn, deeply solemn; but to die without Christ, without hope, this is truly horrible — to miss heaven, and to land in hell; to be almost pressed to the bosom of the Saviour's love, and yet to be enshrouded in eternal darkness — this is woe speechless and eternal. May this never be the portion of my reader.
Yet, if still Christless, the danger is terrible. It may be that before to-morrow's light you may be cast from this world — rudely cast by death into the great for-ever to which you are travelling. Oh! say, how will you do then? Look forward into eternity, and flee to Christ, the only Saviour, while yet you may. Will He receive you? Yes, thank God. Yes! He calls to such as you, and eternal melodies are in his voice — "Come," He says, "and I will give you rest."
Let not the world hold you. Let not your friends keep you away from the Saviour. Take Him now, and you will find Him able to bring you clear away from your danger. You will find His precious blood able to cleanse away your foulest sins. His love will fill your heart with joy, and upon your lips shall be placed the song of redemption. Believe on Him, once dead, but now alive for evermore.
"Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25).
TO-DAY is the day of mercy; to-morrow may be the day of doom.
"THE road of By-and-by leads to the town of Never."
How a Strong Man Yielded.
We had decided to erect our Gospel Tent in a small Yorkshire town, as notorious for the godlessness and infidelity of its men folk, as for the smoke and grime of its foundries and mills.
We chose a fine summer's evening for the work, and had, in consequence, an interested group of onlookers. One of these, who was more than interested, for he kindly helped us with the work, asked, "Why are you putting your tent here?" We replied, "In the hope that you may be converted, and when you are we will thank God, and take it somewhere else." He laughed at this, and assured us that we should not succeed in our purpose; for he had the notion — a notion very common amongst men — that these things are all right for the wife at home, and not bad for the children, but for men — why, to back the horses, drink with a friend, and live a careless, godless life, these things suit them better.
We knew the man well who helped us to drive the stakes and pull the ropes that evening. He was the husband of a downright honest Yorkshire woman who had put her trust in the Saviour some years before, and a very decent sort of man he was in his way — kind to his wife, and a good father; always ready to help a neighbour when he could, but entirely indifferent to his soul's welfare, and quite regardless of God.
How earnestly his wife prayed for him, for she was a Christian of the right stamp; but her prayers and entreaties did not seem to move him from his determination not to attend the Gospel services.
In fact, as the meetings went on he began to turn more frequently into the public-house, and to return to his home quite drunk, sometimes more than once a week. This was unusual, and was a great trial to the praying wife and to us who were longing for his salvation.
The summer drew to a close, and the cold, damp autumn evenings made it necessary to draw the meetings to a finish. We decided on one last week of services, which week was the annual feast week of the town, part of which was a general holiday. The people who could do so went away that week, and amongst these was the Christian wife; her husband stayed at home and spent the time in carousing.
We saw him on the Saturday the worse for drink, and he continued his "celebration" of the annual holiday until the following Tuesday. On that evening we met him as we walked in the direction of the tent, and taking him by the arm, said: "You would not come to the tent sober, J—, you must come to it drunk." He protested, and did his best to get away from us, but at last we prevailed upon him to come, and when the service commenced he was sitting amongst the people.
We began by singing that very lovely hymn:
"Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin's darkness,
Now by His grace I am free."
J— stood up with the rest of the audience and did his best to look sober, but he had to hold on tight to the seat in front of him in order to keep his feet. Then came the preaching about the Saviour who came into the world to save sinners, and who was able to take a dying malefactor from a cross to the very paradise of God, and fit to be there, too, for the precious blood of Christ — the Lamb of God — had washed all his sins away.
Then we sang again our opening hymn, and we noticed that when we sang the chorus —
"Saviour of sinners,
Saviour of sinners like me —
Shedding His blood for my ransom,
This is the Saviour for me."
J— was visibly affected, so we sang it over and over for his sake. While we did this he sat with his head buried in his hands, sobbing like a child. He had come to the end of his resistance of God's mercy, and said to us, "Nothing but Christ will do for me." He passed through the deep waters of repentance, and when the Christian wife returned from her trip to the seaside at the end of the week, she found a God-fearing husband awaiting her, most anxious now to hear the Word of God, and to know, without a question, that all his sins were pardoned by the God whom he had so neglected. And he got that knowledge before the week was out, and could sing with joyful heart —
"Long I was chained in sin's darkness,
Now by His grace I am free."
And this was no delusion; how wretched would those who have trusted Christ be if it were. How happy and secure they are because it is not a delusion, but a reality, as faithful and true as the very throne of God Almighty.
I am writing the story of J—'s conversion seventeen years after it occurred. He still lives, not many miles from the spot of his new birth, and many a time between then and now have I seen his happy face in a Gospel meeting as he has listened to the old, old story of the Saviour's love, and if the reader of my little book could ask him what was the best news he ever heard, he would probably reply, "God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
And that Christ is the
"Saviour of sinners,
Saviour of sinners like me."
"I am Saved To-night."
"I am saved to-night, sir," said a bright-faced negro boy at the close of a Gospel meeting in Jamaica. "Saved! are you; how did that come about?" I asked. "It was the word that you spoke, sir," he answered. "Will you tell me what that word was?" I enquired.
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised has from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). While you were preaching I believed in my heart what you said, and when you had finished I told Tommy about it," was his ready reply, and close beside him stood Tommy to bear witness to the truth of what he had told me.
Has anything like this ever happened in your history, my reader? "THOU SHALT BE SAVED" are wonderful words when they come from the lips of God, and His salvation is much to be desired, but what are the terms? If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Saved on the Street.
"TELL EVERYBODY THAT CHRIST CAN BE ACCEPTED ON THE STREET, SAME AS I FOUND HIM."
So wrote an honest, sensible railway man, in one of the higher grades, to me; and while I can't "tell everybody," I want to tell YOU, my reader, about this man's good fortune.
I had noticed him at the Tent Service on the Sunday night; had, indeed, been quite impressed by his earnest listening. He was there again on Tuesday evening, and also on Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon I met him on the street. We stood and talked a bit, and he told me that he wanted to be a Christian, not in name only, but in reality. He knew that he needed salvation because he was a sinner, and he also knew that the Lord Jesus was the only Saviour.
I said to him, "You need not wait until the meeting to-night. Neither consecrated building nor penitent form are necessary. You may yield to the Lord now; and HERE ON THE STREET OF YOUR NATIVE TOWN YOU MAY BE SAVED."
He thought for a moment, and then took my hand, and said, "I accept Christ as my Saviour." That was his decision; then followed his thanks. He said, "Lord Jesus, I accept Thee as my Saviour." It was good to hear him talk like that, and to know that he meant what he said.
He had not been what would be called a bad man; he did not drink or gamble; and he was kind to his wife, and a good workman; and there are thousands like him in these respects; but he needed the Saviour; and so does every man. He needed the Saviour, because he was a sinner; and every man needs the Saviour for the same reason, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
On Saturday of that week I called at his home to see him, and I got a very hearty welcome. He told me that he could say, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine." And his wife, who was a Christian, said to me, "It was a happy day on Thursday. He came into the house, saying, Christ must be the Head of this house.'"
There are people who are very sceptical about these things. They do not see how a man can be saved; and if any do profess such things, they look upon it as a passing emotion, caused by the excitement of a revival service. And I freely acknowledge that there is a great deal of that kind of thing; a little of which would be too much. But this man was saved on the street on a dull, wet afternoon. There was no excitement there to make him do it; and what he did then and there has lasted, for three months after that date he wrote to me, saying, "I truly thank God you came here. . . . I decided to accept Christ as my personal Saviour. Tell everybody that Christ can be accepted on the street, same as I found Him. Thank God, I have the blessed assurance that Christ is mine and I am His. Praise God! I am always telling my workmates what Christ has done for me. It was a happy day when Jesus washed my sins away."
YOU MAY BE SAVED WHERE YOU STAND, for what God has done once He can do again. But I would not have you ignorant of what it cost Him to be able to do this. He created the world by His Word; but to redeem sinners from the power of Satan and hell He had to give His Son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It is because Jesus died that sinners can be saved; and it is by His blood that their sins can be washed away. Not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, could the blessing be bought, but by "the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
This great price has been paid, and now the blessing is offered to you without money and without price. And I'll guarantee that if you receive it, and thank Him for it, you, too, will want others to know it.
Guilty man, away from God, in danger of hell because of your sins, take the blessing now.
A Personal Matter.
"Christianity is a religion of personal pronouns." How true this is! It is not — All are sinners, but — I am a sinner.
It is not — Jesus is a Saviour, but — Jesus is my Saviour.
A young man in the West Indies once said to me, "I believe all that you say, and I like your meetings, but I am not saved; how is it?"
I replied: "Have you ever got alone in the presence of God and said: O God, if there were not another sinner on earth, I am one, and as a sinner I claim Christ as my Saviour, even though every other sinner refuse Him.'"
"Well," he said, "it is that very personal way you have of putting it that I do not like." Ah! that was the secret. He had missed the blessing, because he refused to make it a personal matter.
A Great Decision.
During a series of Gospel meetings in the West of England, I invited any to whom a visit in their homes would be acceptable, to leave their names and addresses and I would endeavour to call upon them. That night a slip of paper was found on one of the seats upon which was a lady's name and address.
The following afternoon, as the clock struck three, I stood at the door of the home indicated. It was opened by the maid, who informed me that her mistress was not at home, but that if I wished particularly to see her, I should find her at her sister's house a few doors away.
Going there, the lady herself, whose address I had, opened the door, and she seemed very surprised to see me. I explained to her that her name and address had been left at the Gospel service on the previous evening, and that I naturally concluded that she was one who wished for a visit. But in this I found that I was mistaken, for she was anything but pleased, and declared that she would like to know who had done that. I handed her the slip of paper upon which her name and address was clearly written, and said, "Perhaps you know the handwriting." She examined it carefully and replied, "That's my own handwriting, but I do not know how it got to your meeting. I must have dropped it somehow." "I believe that God's hand is in this," I said, "and so I am coming in to have a talk with you."
Somewhat reluctantly she admitted me, and after telling me that her sister was out shopping, she said, "She isn't a good woman, and she never goes anywhere. I wish you could induce her to come to your meetings." "Well, we must try, but what about yourself?" I asked. "Oh, I'm all right; its my sister that I'm troubled about," she quickly answered. "Quite right, too, but had you not better first think about yourself? If you have not accepted Christ as your Saviour, you are not all right. Indeed, you are in exactly the same danger as your sister, who never goes anywhere."
But she did not want to talk about herself, and while she was doing her best to avoid the personal talk, her sister walked in, and seemed very surprised to find a stranger in her house.
I hastened to explain to her the object of my visit, and invited her to come and hear the Gospel. As she did not look at all like a woman who would care to sacrifice the theatre for the Gospel service on a week night, I suggested that she should come on the following Sunday. She gave me the most emphatic, "No" that ever it has been my lot to receive, and seemed to be a most unpromising subject. "Well," I said in response, "I think that you are wise in not promising to come to the service on Sunday evening, for long before then you may be dead, and — lost for ever; had we not better say Friday night instead?" She did not answer so readily or emphatically this time, and it was evident that the shot had gone home. Still, she declined to make any promise for Friday. I said, "The Book says, 'Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.' You had better not put off even until to-morrow, but come and hear the Word of God to-night." She did not reply, and I said to her sister, "You will bring her to-night, and may God bless you both."
There they sat, side by side, in the Gospel meeting that night, each of them listening with great interest to the lovely story of the Saviour's death and resurrection; of the precious blood of Jesus that can make the worst of sinners fit for the presence of God, and of the hearty welcome that awaits every man, woman, and child that will come to Him.
The preaching finished, we turned to Charlotte Elliot's hymn, than which none more suitable for anxious sinners was ever written in our English language: —
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me;
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come."
I said, "I will repeat this first verse to you, my friends, leaving out certain words in it; and if you are anxious to come to the Saviour put in the missing words."
So I read: —
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for — "
There was a brief pause, and then from the corner where the sisters were sitting there came clearly and distinctly the word "ME." It was the bad sister who "never went anywhere" who had said it. Yes, said it with her whole heart.
"Thank God!" said more than one in that audience; and I turned back and repeated the lines again: —
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for — "
Then we heard a duet, and in our ears, who loved the Lord and sinners for His sake, it sounded most sweet.
Both sisters put in that missing word. The bad sister and the one who thought she was good enough, together they took the sinner's place for whom the blood of Jesus was shed.
Then I continued: —
"And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God — "
"I COME," they said, and others in an undertone joined in the same blessed decision, making music in the ears of heaven and in ours.
It was a definite and never-to-be-regretted decision, and they found that He to whom they came was delighted to receive them, and to keep them, to never let them slip from His all-powerful hand, but to be their Lord and never-changing Friend in time, and their joy for ever.
That is the story. It interested me greatly at the time. May the telling of it interest the reader, and more, if unconverted, may he make the same decision that those sisters made in that happy gospel service.
I met a man in Canada who told me that for years he had been perfectly satisfied with himself. He thought that he was quite good enough for God, and if anybody had a chance of heaven, he was the man.
One day he tried to recall all the good deeds he had ever done to assure himself that he had really merited God's favour. But to his dismay his sins in black array crowded to his memory, and he found out for the first time in his life that he was a guilty sinner before God. Then he also discovered that "CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY," and that God can freely justify all those who believe in Him.
The Door of Salvation.
I have heard of a dream that a man had. It was night, and a great storm raged fiercely about him, and he had neither home nor shelter. Presently he saw a light shining in the darkness, and struggling against the tempest he reached the door from which it shone, only to find that that light spelt in letters of fire the stern and forbidding word JUSTICE over the portal within which he had hoped to rest. Now he was not just, but unjust, a guilty, godless sinner, so that there was no welcome at that door for him, and he shrank from it in terror, for the storm outside was less to be feared than the justice within. He found another door standing open, but its name was TRUTH, and from this also he turned, for he felt that truth could only convict and condemn him. From still another door there radiated a light, but it was the light of HOLINESS, and he was sure that there could be neither shelter nor blessing inside that door for so vile a wretch as he, and so he turned away into the night and the storm a hopeless man. Then upon his weary eyes there shone another light, and he stumbled on towards it, fell almost fainting before it, but found a hand stretched out to save him and to draw him across the threshold that the light illuminated, and he found himself within the house of MERCY.
That was the dream, and it has been used as an illustration of the gospel, and has passed current as a very good illustration of the gospel too; BUT I WANT TO SAY PLAINLY AND EMPHATICALLY THAT IT IS NOT A TRUE ILLUSTRATION OF "THE GOSPEL OF GOD CONCERNING HIS SON," it falsifies it, utterly and miserably. Let us suppose that things are as the dream put them, that the guilty man is harboured in the house of mercy; but justice has claims upon him and he has sinned against truth and holiness. Can they allow their claims to be flouted and the man to escape the judgment he deserves? Impossible. These great attributes of God must be maintained unsullied whatever else may happen. Then suppose they seek the door of mercy and demand, as they must, the extradition of the guilty man that had taken refuge there, can mercy refuse their righteous demand? If it does, then there is conflict between mercy and justice; yet if it yields the man whom it has commiserated to his just deserts, it is itself saddened and defeated. This is the dilemma into which such a mis-presentation of the gospel throws us.
Thank God the true gospel involves us in no such difficulty. It tells us that there is one door of refuge, and it stands wide open for all, and from it there shines into the darkness a light — kindly, attractive and inviting; and the goodness of God is abroad in the night and the storm to lead weary wanderers to its friendly threshold. It is the door of mercy, truly, but justice, truth, and holiness are also inscribed upon it, and they join with mercy in welcoming the sinner to rest and peace.
The gospel tells that "mercy and truth are met together"; it declares God's righteousness "that He might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." The gospel makes plain that every attribute of God is for the sinner who draws near, nay that God Himself is for us, and that without sacrificing His glory in one iota. Mercy and truth, righteousness and grace, justice and love — all these, impossible of reconciliation by any means known to men, are upheld and proclaimed in the gospel of Christ to the glory of God and the blessing of men.
But only through the cross of Christ could this be; it was there and by it that all came into full evidence, and was told out as one harmonious whole — God's full character revealed.
"And in the cross of Christ we see
How God can save yet righteous be."
It was there that the dread demands of justice against sinful men were revealed, and it was there that those demands were fully satisfied by Him who, according to the unmeasured grace of God, was "delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification."
"Stern Justice can demand no more
And Mercy can dispense her store."
Mercy can do this righteously, in full accord with the eternal justice of God, so that never for ever can the blessing that mercy bestows upon the sinner who believes be taken from him.
It is the knowledge of this gospel that gives stability to the soul and lasting peace to the conscience; it is when this is known, that we are able to advance thankfully and without fear into those deeper things that may be known by the Holy Ghost by all those who are in Christ Jesus; but until this is known there is neither peace nor progress.
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom. 5:21).
The Dying Infidel.
The doctor had spoken plainly, for his patient had wished to know the whole truth. This patient was an infidel, a bold one he imagined, but to be told that in three months' time he would be forced out of this life, had shaken him somewhat, but it was evidently only momentarily.
An infidel friend called to see him, and was very sympathetic, of course, but could only say, "Don't show the white feather, B—," and he had replied that he would not.
A Christian relative called to see him and suggested that he might be glad to have a visit from some one who could tell him of God's way of salvation.
His reply was harsh and decisive. "I do not want any one to come here talking rubbish, and if you have nothing better to say to me stay away."
This was a burden and sore trouble to the Christian; he confided it to me, and many a prayer went up to God that the dying infidel might have his eyes opened.
The weeks passed but the answer to the prayers came at last, in the shape of a request that the Christian relative would go to his bedside as quickly as possible. I went instead; be knew me by name and motioned me to a chair by his bedside, then he said to me with a thrill of earnestness that I shall not soon forget, "I have been looking DEATH in the face for two months and I am not ready."
Yes, the bravery and the infidelity had taken their flight from that sick chamber; but was this the "white feather" of cowardice in the presence of a great foe, or was it "repentance not to be repented of"? This was the question in my heart as I interrogated him as to how this change had come about.
It was evident that God had been speaking to him, however, and that this was real soul trouble and with a great gladness in my heart I told him of Jesus, God's way of salvation. I told him the story as I would have told it to a child, and he who had boasted in the breadth and strength of his mind listened to that story as a child would have listened.
Before I reached the end of it he put his hand on mine and said, "Stop." Then, while down his cheeks tears flowed fast, he said, "Lord Jesus, I trust in Thee; I trust Thee about all the past, and about all the future, and with the present." Then turning to me he said, "You told me that He would not cast me out if I came to Him, did you not?" "Yes," I replied, "I told you what He said, 'Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.'" "I have come to Him and He has received me. Will you pray?"
I did so, and left him, and saw him again and heard of him often. His witness to the saving power of the Lord Jesus was very sweet and clear. A few days before the end he said to his doctor, "You have done your best for me, and I thank you. I am not afraid to go, and if you will hand me that New Testament I will show you the words that showed me the way." And then he went over the life-giving words, first showing the futility of all human works (Eph. 2:8), the sinfulness of all (Rom. 3:23), the love of God for sinners, and the death of Jesus for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-8), and last of all the blessed fact that God can freely justify the ungodly (Rom. 3:24-26), because Jesus had suffered and died in their stead (Isa. 53:6). This was his last testimony; he sank into unconsciousness when it was finished, and did not awake on earth. But the grace of God had triumphed, the chains were broken and the darkness dispelled, and another witness to the long-suffering and saving mercy of God passed away to be with Christ.
Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20).
The Power of the Gospel.
In a Bristol to Birmingham express I met a Christian. He told me that twenty-one years previous he was, without exception, the worst sinner in Stockton-on-Tees — a drunken, blaspheming sceptic; but God laid His hand upon him in a Gospel meeting, and he turned to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a mechanic, and in the shop where he worked were six other infidels. They first scoffed, and often afterwards tried to draw him into argument. But his one reply was: "I will not argue with you, for you can beat me at that; but you know what I was, and you see what I am now. If you want to argue, argue with the power that saved and keeps me." That power was the power of the grace of God. They saw it, and their mouths were closed; and ere long he had the joy of grasping the hands of six of his fellow-workmen as fellow-Christians!
Something More Wanted.
At the close of a Gospel meeting in the West Indies, a woman in great distress of soul remained to speak with me.
"Will you tell me what is troubling you?" I asked.
"Oh, sir," she said, "there is something more wanted."
"Indeed ! what is it?" I enquired.
"Well," she said, "I really trust in Jesus, I know that He died for me, but something more is wanted."
"You are sure that Jesus died for you?" I asked.
"Yes, I am sure of it."
"And that He is able to save you?"
"Yes, I am sure of that."
"Do you think that He is willing to save you?"
"Oh, I know that He is willing," was her earnest reply.
"And you tell me that you really trust Him as your Saviour?"
"Yes," she said, "I do; but I am not happy; something more is wanted."
"There is nothing more wanted to make you safe," I replied. "If you have really believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, YOU ARE AS SAFE AS HE CAN MAKE YOU. Not one poor sinner who trusted in Him was ever lost. But it is one thing to be safe, and another thing to be sure about it. What you need is to have assurance, and this you may have on the authority of the Word of God."
Taking my Bible, I turned to Acts 13:38, 39, and read: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things."
"Now, here we have God's unchanging truth. He says, 'All that believe are justified.' Are you a believer?"
"Yes, I am," she answered.
"Then what does God say about you?" I asked.
"I'm justified," she answered, with a sigh of relief.
"How do you know?" I queried.
"It says so there," was her reply.
"Then do you want anything else?"
"Nothing more now, sir; that's enough," was her emphatic answer, as she saw for the first time, on the authority of God's Word, that she belonged to the justified company because she was one of the "all that believe."
Thank God! His word is true, and upon the authority of God's Word every believer may say, "I'm justified."
I quoted those same words to a young fellow in Canada who was longing to have peace with God.
"Let me look at the verse," he said, "I never saw it like that before."
Slowly he read the verse over, and then rubbing his eyes as the light broke into his soul, he said, "Praise God, I'm justified."
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"Why, THE BOOK says so," was his triumphant reply.
Yes, the Book that never lies says, "By Him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
"What does justified mean?" said a hard-headed but conscience-stricken miner in the North of England to me on one occasion.
I replied, "The man who is justified stands in God's sight as clear of all his sins as is Jesus the Saviour."
Placing his finger on the verse in my Bible, he asked, "Do you mean to tell me that if I believe that verse I shall be clear of my sins like that?"
"No," I answered. "What I say is, if in simple faith you look to Jesus for pardon and salvation, believing what the Bible says about Him, what that verse says about All that believe will be true of you."
"I see that, and I thank God for it," was his happy response.
God's Word is reliable. You may safely rest in what it asserts, beloved anxious soul. It has been written for us that we might know with certainty these blessed things, and that we might have joy and peace in believing.
If you have been in any way aroused to the need of your soul, I would earnestly entreat you not to delay this solemn question. Let no other question intervene. Lay hold of God's salvation to-day.
How can you be happy in a world that is rolling on to judgment? How can you be happy with the load of years of sins upon your soul? How can you be happy when you know not the moment when death may seize you and hurl you into a lost eternity?
Soul of man! wake up to these solemn matters and seek God's salvation.
Facts — Faith — Feelings.
Christians are the only people in the world who have a right to be happy, but they do not know that they are saved because they are happy, but they are happy because they know that they are saved. To put feelings first is to put the cart before the horse, the right order is as follows
1. GOD'S FACTS.
2. YOUR FAITH.
3. HAPPY FEELINGS.
I am aware that many deny that anyone can be sure about their soul's salvation in this world, but as ONE VERSE OF SCRIPTURE IS BETTER THAN TEN THOUSAND THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF MEN, we will set aside all that you and others may think, or feel, or say, and look for a moment at some of God's facts.
THE FIRST GREAT FACT which you must accept is that you need a Saviour. God speaks very definitely on this point.
You are "guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19). You are "without strength" (Rom. 5:6).
Death is before you, and "after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
Every Christless soul is included in these scriptures, for before God "there is no difference" (Rom. 3:22). You may not feel that what God says about you is true, but, if so, your feelings are all astray; GOD'S FACTS ALONE ARE WORTHY TO BE RELIED UPON. Let Him be true, and every man a liar.
It is evident, then, that there is no hope for you in yourself, and that if you are to be saved, God must in perfect grace undertake for you and provide a way of salvation Himself, for you certainly cannot make or find one. This is just what God has done, and if in His Word He brings before you solemn facts about yourself, it is that He might interest you in the Gospel of His grace, which contains blessed truth concerning His Son.
THE SECOND GREAT FACT is, there is a Saviour for you. We read, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16).
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:25).
"Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).
It is a wonderful thing that God should be interested in this guilty world. He might have let us all go our own self-willed way to hell. He would have been righteous in consigning us to the everlasting burnings, for this our sins deserved; but then His love would never have been manifested had He done so.
Now in the Gospel we see the righteousness of God fully revealed, and His love displayed at the same time. The love of God was displayed in the gift of His Son, and we see His righteousness maintained when Jesus suffered sin's full penalty. He suffered, the Just One for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. And now God can take to Himself the glorious title of "Him that justifieth the ungodly" (Rom. 4:5). He is "just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
Jesus accomplished the work of redemption, and God has raised Him from the dead; thus it is proved that God was fully satisfied with His work.
Now God's GLAD TIDINGS DO NOT SPEAK OF YOUR FEELINGS OR DOINGS, but about Christ; the Gospel tells you what He has accomplished for you, and of the blessing you may have through Him.
You are not to consult your own heart, for the Word says: "Say not in thine heart," but look out to Christ upon the throne of God. And while you look to Him, raised from the dead and exalted to the throne, hear God proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through Him.
THE THIRD GREAT FACT is that this blessing can only be secured by faith in Christ. He is the only Saviour, and He is willing and able to save even the vilest sinner. You may come to Him boldly; all are welcome, for God's glorious Gospel word is "Whosoever." But it is not whosoever prayeth, or feeleth, or worketh, but "whosoever believeth in Him" (John 3:16). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). "By Him, all that believe are justified from all things" (Acts 13:39). You say, "I am not satisfied with my experience and faith, and love for Him," but that is not the point. Are you satisfied with what Christ has done for you? God is fully satisfied with what Christ has done, so that you may be satisfied as well. PUT YOUR FAITH IN GOD'S FACTS, and the whole thing is settled; believe what He tells you about Christ, and believe what He tells you about "all that believe."
Take Him at His word; thank Him for His boundless grace; then you will not feel justified, but will feel very happy because you know, on the authority of God's own Word, that you are justified.
Then, when you have turned to Jesus — when you can say, "He is my own Saviour," you are wonderfully blest.
You have a loving Saviour in heaven caring and interceding for you. He knows all your infirmities, and is able to save you all the way home to heaven. The foes cannot take you from His hand, for if He gave His life that you might belong to Him, you are so precious to Him that He will take great care of you for ever.
Abide with Me.
Abide with me, my Saviour, Friend, and King,
To Thee my life with all its sins I bring;
Thy blood can wash me whiter than the snow;
Thy power can keep me safe where e'er I go.
To Thee I come, no goodness can I plead,
Sinful I am in thought, and word, and deed;
Yet Thou for me dost care, for me hast died.
Friend of the sinful, oh, with me abide.
When I am far from those who love me well,
And round me fierce the tides of danger swell,
Lord, be my Shield, and keep me close to Thee;
Thou art my only hope, abide with me.
Abide with me when sin besets my way,
And like a mighty foe my faith would slay;
Preserve my soul, from yielding keep me free,
I must be safe if I abide with Thee.
Three Golden Words.
A great work had to be done before the way of blessing could be opened for us, a work completely outside the powers of the best and greatest of sinful men. Only Jesus could accomplish that work. He went to the cross and suffered there for us, there He cried, "It is finished." Do not talk of your puny doings in the presence of that stupendous work, but drop your own efforts and rest in what He has done.
I called to see a man who was seriously ill, and very much dejected, for he knew that he was not right with God. I said to him, "Robert Brown, I have three words for you to-day. I will not tell you who said them, or when He said them, or why. I want you to find out those three things for yourself, but the words are these, 'It is finished.'" Then I knelt by his side and prayed that God would bless that short sentence to the sick man's soul. A few days afterwards I received a letter from a friend who was living in that district, in which he wrote: "Those three golden words have done their blessed work and Robert Brown's soul has found perfect rest." O anxious soul, will you not thank God for these words and rest in that same blessed work.
God loves His ransomed people with a love so wonderful that He has opened heaven for them, and will not be satisfied until they all are there. But He does not keep them waiting until they get there to enjoy it, He has given to them His Spirit that they might begin to enjoy it now.
Lord, I am Thine.
LORD, I am Thine: in mercy Thou hast broken
The fetters strong that bound me to my sin;
Thy blood was shed — of love the mighty token —
From ways of death my guilty soul to win.
Lord, I am Thine: who saw no beauty in Thee,
But spurned Thy mercy with rebellious pride;
Saved by Thy grace, I lowly bow before Thee,
And in Thy love my soul is satisfied.
Lord, I am Thine: yet sinful, weak, and fearing,
I need Thy grace to keep me day by day,
Hold Thou my hand, and keep my feet from falling,
Then shall I tread with joy my pilgrim way.
Lord, I am Thine: though sorrows gather round me,
And death's dark shadow 'thwart my path is thrown;
Saviour divine, Thine outstretched hand upholds me;
And being Thine I shall not walk alone.
Yes, I am Thine, and Thou art mine, O Saviour —
My Lord, my life, my never-changing Friend;
Nor death, nor hell, can take me from Thy favour,
Those that are Thine Thou lovest to the end.
And soon shall shine the bright and cloudless morrow
When blood-washed saints upon the stormless shore
Shall stand with Thee, beyond the reach of sorrow;
Their boast that they are Thine for evermore.
The Believer's Destiny.
When you accept the Lord Jesus by simple faith as your Saviour, you have God's testimony to the fact that you are justified — for ever cleared of every charge of guilt. Then your destiny will be the Lamb's glory. You will be able to sing truthfully —
"I have a home above,
From sin and sorrow free;
A mansion which eternal love
Designed and formed for me."
This is the destiny of every truly saved soul, and nothing can change it. The blessing comes on the ground of the precious blood of Jesus, and His blood can never lose its value. The source of the blessing is the free grace of the blessed God, and His grace can never change.
Christ Himself will be the centre of all the redeemed in God's many-mansioned home, and to dwell in the sunlight of His presence will be the blessed portion of all His blood-purchased saints.
We read, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Llord" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). "When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).