I was passing Worcester station the other day, when a young man entered my carriage. As he sat down I took out my ticket, and showed it to him, saying, "Young man, I have my ticket." "Yes, sir," he replied, "I see you have it." I said further, "I do not hope to have it sometime. I have not now to ask for one, or wish I had a ticket; I have it — that is a certainty. Just so, also, I have salvation. I do not hope I may be saved; I have not to ask now to be saved — I have salvation. Through God's unspeakable mercy I am saved." The young man looked with astonishment, and said, "Well, this is very strange: I could have got to Birmingham for about half the fare by the other line; but somehow I could not book that way. Something said I must come by this train, and I felt I must get into this carriage. Now I'll tell you: there is a man works in the same shop with me, and he says the same thing you say. He says he has eternal life; and mind you, he not only says so, but everything he does shows he has. Bless you! he has no fear of death at all; and when he has any trouble, this having eternal life makes him so quiet and happy, that I cannot help feeling that he has got something that I have not, do you see? And no matter how we chaff him at the shop, we cannot touch him, for he has eternal life. He tells us he has found eternal life by reading and believing the Bible. For myself, must tell you, I used to read Tom Paine and Voltaire; but somehow, when I got reading at night, I said, 'Tom Paine, thou canst not give me eternal life;' and I felt so miserable, I banged the book on the floor." As he said these words, he suited the words by action, with great earnestness, and then, putting his hand in his side pocket, he brought out a beautiful edition of a pocket Bible, and said, "I have now got the book that makes known eternal life, but I cannot say that I have eternal life. I want to feel that I have it!" I said to him, "When the clerk laid your ticket on the window-board this morning, did you say I must first feel that I have it before I take it; or did you first take it, and then feel that you had it?" "Oh," he said, "I see now how simple it is. I must first receive salvation, and then I shall feel that I have it."
I dare say many a reader of this paper has the very same difficulty that this person had. Instead of believing the word of God, in His glad tidings of pardon and life through Jesus Christ, you look, and look within, wishful to find some unknown amount of feelings in which you may rest, or at least on which you may base a hope of being saved. Thus you stand at the window, waiting for feeling, and all the while refusing the grace of God. Now what do you want to feel? "Why," perhaps you say, "I must feel very sorry for my sins, and I must feel that I have forsaken them, and I must feel that now I love God. I have often tried to feel all this; but I have always failed. And yet I must feel all this before I can be saved — must I not?" No, my friend, if these feelings were God's conditions of salvation, not one soul would be saved. Now let us look in the New Testament, and see. I cannot find one place where it says, If you feel sorry for your sins you shall be saved. The answer to the jailor's question, "What must I do to be saved?" was not "Be or feel sorry for thy sins, and thou shalt be saved." Nothing of the kind. They pointed him to a very different object than himself or his feelings — even to Jesus. They said,"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." And that same hour "He rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." On another occasion (Acts 8), as Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch, and set forth the great sacrifice for sins, the eunuch, said, "See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Did he reply, If thou feelest sufficiently sorry for thy sins? Was this the condition? Were his feelings needed to add to the atoning value of the blood of Jesus? Oh, no. Nothing but faith was needed to connect him with Jesus, or to warrant his showing forth that union in death and resurrection, by baptism. "If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest; and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." He was at once baptized, "and he went on his way rejoicing."
The apostle Paul does not say, "The gospel which I preached unto you, 'by which also ye are saved,' was that you should feel this or that." No, he says, "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."
Now, my reader, if there were no barriers then to exclude the sinner from Christ, why should you put your feelings now as a perpetual hindrance to your receiving Christ as your entire Saviour? Then Jesus and the resurrection was preached — never human feeling — never amendment, resolutions, or sorrow for sin, as conditions of God's free gift — eternal life.
The gospel finds man blind as to God's character of love, and morally dead in sin. It reveals God in the blessed Jesus, God is love. The cross — ah! there the sinner sees the goodness of God. The infinite love of God — what a sight! This, and this alone, leads to repentance, or, as the word in the Greek always means, a change of mind. When Jesus, saving from the curse of sin by the death of the cross, is revealed to the soul, there is then that change of mind toward God — that knowing God which is eternal life. This is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ — this is repentance toward God. It is only as I gaze on the cross of Jesus that I can either learn or feel what sin is. Blessed Jesus! Thy precious blood cleanseth me from the guilt, and delivers me from the power, of sin! If I look back at my feelings or my doings, all is failure and sin; and hence, if these have aught to do with my salvation, all is darkness and uncertainty. But looking at the cross of Jesus my Lord, I find no failure. "It is finished." With all my coldness, and unworthiness, and sin, I do believe; and hence I can say I am saved. "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." My reader, if you have been brought to give up all dependence on self, your feelings, your sorrows, or your tears, then hear the words of Jesus. He says, "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." Again, He Says, "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 pluck them out of my hand."
Think of those words — "eternal life," "hath everlasting life," "shall never perish neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."
Is this your present and eternal portion? Then can you say, "Worthy is the Lamb?" and "I have eternal life?" Do not rest satisfied with a mere hope of being saved. It will not do to tell the collector you hope you have a ticket.
The believer has redemption through the blood of Christ, and his hope is the coming of the Lord.