I was deeply impressed, the other day, with a sentence in a letter I received from a person at a distance, in which he states, "the Gospel as (sometimes) preached in our day, is of no use to a man who feels himself to be lost."
When a man has broken the laws of his country, and is under sentence of death, he paces the floor of his gloomy cell, looks through the iron grate and thinks of the fearful morrow. That is something like being lost, as to this world. Let us go down the dark passage, and speak to him at the iron grate. Hark! how he groans. What will you say to him? Would a lecture on morality do? Would you tell him to be a good man and keep the laws of his country? Would he not reply, You very much mistake my case; that sort of talk is no help to me at all; my life is forfeited, I am under the sentence of death. Poor lost one! Would it help him if you engaged to keep the laws of his country for him? Not in the least: the law demands his life, and the day is fixed. The only way of keeping the law for him would be to die in his stead; and the only good news that would meet his case would be the free pardon of his sovereign.
Such is the case of an awakened sinner who feels himself lost. This world to him is a condemned cell. The devil roars in his conscience, guilty! guilty! He has tried to be innocent; he has pleaded "Not so guilty as my neighbours;" he has tried "to mend;" he has tried to keep the law of God, he has broken it more and more. And now, trembling with guilt and fear, conscience, the devil's jailer, has turned the heavy bolt of the iron gate of despair. And thus, sooner or later, is every saved sinner brought to utter despair as to all help in self, or self's doing. Now what is the good news that will meet a man who has thus learnt the truth about himself, and feels himself lost? Will it meet his case to tell him to amend his life, to love God, and keep His commandments? Would he not reply, You don't understand my case at all: if I could do that, I should not be lost: I am lost, I am vile, I am condemned; I have forfeited my life, heaven, everything!
Reader, art thou the man? Have I described thy condition, — art thou one who feelest thyself lost? Then hearken; I will tell thee of One who came to seek, and to save the lost. I come not to thy iron gate to tell thee what thou must do. Nothing that thou canst do can save thee from thy dark condemned cell, nor thy future fearful doom. I tell thee, if the Spirit of God has thus made thee feel thou art lost, I have good news from heaven to thee. There sits Jesus at the right hand of the Majesty on high; that is the blessed One, who came in pity to this condemned cell, who took the sinner's place, died the just for the unjust. Hadst thou forfeited thy life? He gave up His own, even to the death of the cross. Hadst thou forfeited heaven? He left it and became a man of sorrows. Oh think of the glory of this mighty Saviour. He knew that nothing short of His very life's blood could meet thy guilty, condemned state. He gave it freely. What plenteous redemption through that precious blood! Thou hadst sinned against God, and God is satisfied, justified, glorified by this precious sacrifice. God hath raised Him from the dead, "and through Him is preached the forgiveness of sins;" free, full, everlasting forgiveness — through Him, not through thy doing: and by Him, not by thy doing, thou, and all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Thy door is open: come out, and rejoice in the gospel, that suits the man who feels himself to be lost.