"What a Contrast"

We had been delayed a considerable time one morning at a station a little north of Derby, when several of the passengers on the platform became exceedingly impatient. I made a remark to the following effect. It was much better quietly to bear what we could not alter. And some could even thankfully do so, believing what the scripture said, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Surely it would be better to wait on the platform than be killed on the line: every passenger might not be quite ready to quit this life. An old countryman came up to me, and told me the following circumstance. He said, "A few days ago I was walking across a field with an old friend of mine, our village blacksmith; and though a blacksmith, he felt so much of the love of Christ, that he would frequently be found visiting the sick and dying, and pointing them to Christ: and not only them, but he would often call to see Christians, and was very useful to those who were of a doubting sort. He would show them it was not their feelings or their doings that would save them, but that Christ was all. Well, we two were walking over the fields. Now he was of a tender turn of mind, which grieved much over the state of the world and the church. As we were walking he became sorely depressed at the thought of so much division and carnal strife amongst Christians. Suddenly he stopped, looked up with such a gaze at heaven, his face beaming with joy, and said, 'Oh, what a contrast! there Christ is all.' His face became brighter, his eyes fixed, as though looking at Christ in heaven; his body gently lowered on the grass, the pale shadow of death passed over his face, the spirit departed to be with Christ."

I need not say I was thankful for the delay. I felt that it had worked together for my soul's good. The departure of this honoured pastor had given a reality to eternal things, which produced such a thrill in my soul that I can never forget. Yes, I call him the honoured pastor, for He who called the fisherman of Galilee, called also the blacksmith of Derbyshire, to feed His sheep. The Holy Ghost alone can teach and convince of the sublime truth contained in those few words, "It is not your feelings or your doings that can save you. Christ is all." Are you mourning over sin, and longing for assured forgiveness? Christ is all! "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall have remission of sins." Do you want peace with God? Christ is all! "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you want righteousness? Christ is all! "For he hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Do you want to be sanctified? Christ is all! "By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." Do you want to be kept from sin and Satan? Christ is all! "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Do you want to be certain, unworthy as you are, that you are an accepted person with a holy God? Christ is all! "Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." Now what can you want more? "Oh," says the trembling believer, "I want to be quite sure that I shall be with him at last." Christ is all! "We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2.) If you look at your feelings and your doings for salvation, it is like a person trying to climb a steep mountain of sand — every effort slides him lower. Our poor feelings and our doings are as unstable and shifting as the sand: there is nothing in either for faith to lay hold of. But when faith, looking away from our feelings and doings, takes fast hold of Christ, we are at once on the Rock of Ages. This is the difference between saving faith and all mere spurious faith, which really is only unbelief. If you have obtained the precious faith of God, you look at Christ. If false faith, you are looking at yourself, your feelings and your doings.

The departure of this servant of Christ reminds one of the death of Stephen. A glorified Christ in heaven was the object of faith to each of them. Neither of them had a single hope below. Christ, rejected on earth, glorified in heaven! What a contrast! Yes, the rejection or acceptance of Christ makes this immense difference. It is quite true that all the wretchedness and misery of this world came by sin, but it is the rejection of Christ that is the cause of its continuance. You see the wretched drunkard, reeling from the alehouse, led by a thin, pale-faced, half-starved child, its mother having sunk in the grave, slowly murdered by him who called himself a father and a husband. Ah, poor drunkard, drunk or sober, the cause of all thy misery is this — thou art a rejecter of Christ. Christ in thy family would have turned a hell into heaven. Look where you will on earth, it is a Christ-rejecting world. For eighteen hundred years has Christ been rejected by the succeeding generations of men. [Written in the XIXth century.] The few who through grace have received Him have all been hated by the world, and many of them persecuted to death. You may have as much of the world's false religion as you please, and the world will praise you. But if Christ is your all, the world will hate you, even as it hated Him. When Jesus looked upon the city of the Pharisees, he wept. The sectary may fight and wrangle, and stamp and storm; but, like the blacksmith, the true Christian, when he looks at the masses of rejecters around him, will not fight, but weeping, seek to save. And what grieved him most was, that much which calls itself the church dishonours Christ quite as much as the world. What deceit, what covetousness, what selfishness, hatred, malice, cruelty, and oppression. But enough! Look up. Oh, what a contrast in heaven! Jesus is all and in all. No rejecters there! No deceivers there! No sting of sin is felt there! No drunkard walks the golden streets! No liar there! No slave-driver there! No sorrow, no pain, not a sigh, a groan, nor a tear there! God is there, and in His presence there is fulness of joy; at His right hand pleasures for evermore. There is a moment fast approaching when all who are Christ's shall be taken, not from the body, as was the dying blacksmith, but when "we who are alive and remain shall be caught up." Yes, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." Our vile body shall be changed and fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ. Reader, this is my blessed hope. What is yours? It is not that I am better than you, and therefore worthy of such a place. Oh, no! I am a sinner — the very chief of sinners; but Christ is my all. Do you ask, "What can fit me for that happy, holy place?" My answer — nay, God's answer — is, Christ alone. Yes, it is the unquestionable privilege of all believers to "give thanks unto the Father, who hath made them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," &c. (Col. 1:12-14), "and ye are complete in Christ." Believer, this is all true, whether you enjoy it or not. The more you walk with God in the light, the more you will enjoy it. Remember, it is not your feelings or your works. Christ is all!

C.S.