James 2:19; Matthew 6:24.
"No Man Can Serve Two Masters;" or, How I found the Lord.
On this, our closing meeting, I will tell you, my friends, as promised, how, by the infinite grace of God, I learned to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I am thirty-seven years of age tonight. You look a little older than that, perhaps a man says; you have surely lived longer in the world than thirty-seven years. Yes, but I was like you — dead, while I lived. Young man! you have not begun to live unless you are converted. If you are not born of God, you have not begun to live; you are yet dead in your sins. I was dead for a good many years. I know some of you think, that a man could not be converted in one night. That is a great mistake; it takes but one moment to pass from death to life. It takes but one moment to go through the door; and so I found it in my case.
For twenty years, I believe, I was about the most thorough-going young worldling you could have met with. There is not a man in this hall tonight, who was more deeply immersed in the world, in its pleasures, its sin, and its enticements, nor a more downright, out-and-out slave of the devil, than the man who speaks to you tonight And yet in one hour God saved me. Hence, I love to sing —
"Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood."
I thank God that I had a pious mother — a praying mother. Perhaps you have one, and she has gone to heaven. Mine has, thank God, and I shall meet her again. Will you meet yours, if she has gone there? It is an inestimable boon for a man to have a praying mother, and much, I know, mine prayed for me. But for twenty years I knew nothing of the grace of God, nothing whatever!
My first real spiritual impression was when I was a schoolboy. I had a brother going out to the Crimean War in 1855. He was passing where I was at school, and I was to have met him at the train; but I missed the train. I was far more interested in other things, I may say. I had gone off to buy some new stumps for a coming cricket match, and spent too long over that, and so missed the train. I was very sorry, I know, at being a minute or two late, and the thought entered my mind, We may never meet again, perhaps he will be slain in the Crimea. I thought he was a Christian, and I knew I was not, and the thought that we might never meet again made such an impression upon my mind that it led me to what I then considered to be very meritorious. I set to work to read the Bible, as a sort of offset against my sins. I know perfectly well that I chose Isaiah, as being the most difficult part of the Bible, and therefore, in my opinion, the most meritorious thing I could do. But when I got to the end, I was just where I was before I began, — an unsaved sinner, in my sins.
School life passed by, and I got into an office in the town in which I lived. I had meant to be a lawyer at that time; and, although Blackstone did engage my attention in office hours, my heart was far more in everything that concerned the world, and its enjoyments, than anything else. There was not a ball or a concert, a regatta, or a cricket match, or a worldly entertainment of any kind, within twenty miles of where I was staying, that I was not in, if I could get to it. I just want you to see where I was before Christ met me.
But God spoke to me again, when I was about nineteen. A fine hearty young Christian — oh! it is a grand thing for a young man to be bold for Christ — came to see my father, from a distance. When he was leaving, my father said to me, "Show him down to the carriage gate." I went down the avenue with him, and at the gate he quietly turned to me, and said, "Well, Walter, are you a Christian?" "No!" "Then, had you not better come to the Lord?" I got very angry with him for talking to me in that way, and rapidly closed the gate. Ah! I was on my way down to hell, and my anger just showed how bitter was my hatred against Christ, and against His servants. Spite of that I was touched by his faithfulness, and if there were any young man I respected it was he, for no other ever dared to speak to me in that way. God had His eye upon me, blessed be His name!
In December 1860, it was arranged that I should go to London, to pursue my legal studies there. I accordingly quitted my home in Devonshire on the 4th of the month, leaving behind me a good many engagements for the Christmas week. The national volunteer movement had just sprung up, and I flung myself, heart and soul, into the organisation of the local artillery corps. We wanted a band, and money was not easily found, so we thought we would raise the funds by a concert. I recollect how tremendously I threw my heart into the concert, and I was set down for the comic songs, which suited me admirably in those days. We had one concert, and it was an immense success, so we arranged to have another at Christmas, because so many people could not get seats at the first. We arranged a new programme, and I remember very well, the conductor said to me, "If you go to London, you will not come back." "On my oath," I said, I promise you that I will come down and sing." Remember we cannot put another in your place." "Have no fear," I replied, "I will come down, for I have half-a-dozen most charming engagements for Christmas week, which I must keep."
I went up to London on Tuesday, 4th December, and I have no doubt God used this as a link in the chain of blessing, for I was leaving home really for the first time, and felt correspondingly that I was taking a serious step in life. Some of you fellows have left home, and know what that is. In the boarding-house, where I at first put up in the City, there was a young man, Tom W-, who came from the same county as I, and we naturally were drawn together, when we found that we came from towns within ten miles of each other, and that our parents were acquainted. He was going to study engineering, and I was going in for the law, but we soon agreed that we would lodge together. The next day we hunted about for lodgings, and on Saturday we took up our lodging together in Islington.
On Lord's Day we lay abed, just as some of you fellows do, till late on in the forenoon, thinking that if we went to church in the evening that would suffice in the way of religion. Sunday is really an awfully dull day for an unconverted man. I had received a letter from my dear old mother, urging me to go and hear the gospel, and my friend, Tom, asked me: "Where are you going? What do you say, shall we go and hear Richard Weaver? I see in the papers he is going to preach in Surrey Theatre tonight." To this I agreed, and about five o'clock we set out for Blackfriars Road.
I shall never forget that scene. The street was crowded outside the door. God was working in those days wonderfully, and souls were being saved in hundreds and thousands; and, I believe, that the man we went to hear was the means of awakening thousands of souls to their real condition before God, and of bringing them to a knowledge of Christ, and salvation. When the doors were opened, the flood of people poured in. I was separated from my comrade. He was carried to the pit, while I got to the dress circle, and then into one of the stage boxes. The theatre was crammed, and to 3,500 souls did that simple collier preach the blessed gospel of the grace of God. My memory will always retain some of the things I heard that night from him, as, from the crowded stage, he read Mark 5:25-34, and then told us the simple story of the woman with the issue of blood, and how all her disease and distresses were healed, when she simply touched the hem of the garment of Jesus. I saw clearly enough that salvation was by the simple touch of faith; but then, you see, he was only a common man, I thought, and I was a gentleman, and I could not be converted by a common man. Such was the pride of my poor sinful heart. Ah, my friend, take care lest you be damned through your pride. Take care lest you are damned, because you will not be saved in God's own way. But God had His eye upon me that night, and I was in measure impressed.
At the close it was intimated that if any were anxious they might go to the pit. I went down to the pit, not because I was anxious, but because, somehow, I thought that my friend might be anxious, and would be found there. I was not there three minutes before a young man, a simple fellow, came to me and said, "Sir, are you a Christian?" "No, I am not," I replied. "Would you not like to be one?" he next asked me. "I do not know," I said. "Oh, surely you had better be a Christian, and it is very easy to become one. I became one last Sunday evening. I went to Exeter Hall, and there I was converted by Richard Weaver's preaching." He began soon, that young man; he was not long converted before he began to tell others about it, and I hope you young fellows, who have been converted, will not be long in telling others about it too. He began well, you see.
I found out then who he was, and that he was a working tailor. He then said to me, "Will you not pray?" and I replied, "I never could pray." Then he said, "I shall pray for you," and he got down on his knees in the theatre, and prayed most fervently to God to bless, and save me. Thank God, he answered that young man's prayer; though I was too cowardly to get down on my knees then. I had to get down on my knees afterwards — and you will have to get down on your knees, be sure of that — but I was too proud to bend my knees at that moment. Tom W — had been in the pit, saw me, and came over. At that moment another young man, very earnest and intelligent looking, came over, and joining in the conversation, spoke a few words to me. I then rose to leave, and this stranger asked, "Which way do you go, gentlemen?" "Towards Islington." "Our way lies together then, as I live there, and if I may I will accompany you." To this we agreed, and outside the theatre he turned and said to us, "May I ask, Are you Christians?" We both replied, "No." "And would you not like to be Christians?" he next asked. I said, I would, for I began to think it was worth while being a Christian. "Then," said he, "you must be in earnest about it." "I hope we will be," I replied, "but what must I do to become a Christian?" "If you are in earnest about it, and really mean to he one, you must give up the world." Give up the world! Oh! how I clung to it at the moment when he suggested that; but, earnest as he was, he did not then know the gospel clearly. Then there came before my mind the memory of my engagements in Christmas week, and the uppermost thought was, How can I give them up?
Well, we walked up the three miles to Islington, and when near our lodgings I said, "Will you come in and have a cup of coffee with us?" He came in, and before going away he asked, "May I read a little bit with you?" "Certainly," we said, and then he read a portion of Scripture, and prayed with us. He was a nice young man, we thought, and so he was, and he became a great friend afterwards.
When he had left, my companion and I sat quietly at the sides of the fireplace, each thinking. All of a sudden, I remember, I said, "Tom, I think, if you and I are going to live together, and have God's blessing, we had better have family reading." "Dear me, Wolston," he replied, "that was the very thing I had on my mind, but I did not like to say it. We will buy a book tomorrow, and begin." "No books," said I; "if a man is going to pray to God, he should pray himself. I do not believe in praying other men's prayers; we ought to pray for ourselves. I do not believe in books, except the Bible. If we are going to pray, we will pray ourselves." Then Tom said, "How shall we begin?" "One of us will read, and the other will pray," I said. "I will read tomorrow, and you shall pray." He agreed, and next morning, when we came downstairs, I read the first of Matthew, and my friend prayed. I thought he did it splendidly. The next day it was my turn; he read the Bible, and I had to pray. I shall never forget what I felt when it was my turn to pray. My heart was in my mouth; but I was in downright earnest. I wanted to be saved, and he wanted to be saved too. I wish you were in the same mind. If you are anxious to be saved, you will be.
That week was a remarkable one, because we did pray earnestly in the morning, and in private too. There came over our souls a deep sense of our sins. We cried to God, too, for our relatives. "God save our relations," was frequently our prayer, for we had such a sense of our own sins, that, though we prayed, we had the fear we were too bad, too wicked, too sinful to be saved. This impression was deepened by the fact that though we read, and prayed earnestly in the mornings, I should be ashamed to say where we were found in the evenings. We were fresh from the country, and must needs see London life, so its music-halls and other hells tempted us at night, for the devil has hell-traps of every kind in abundance for young men there, and God only kept us from being engulfed that week. So the week went round, and then the next Sunday came. My mother had besought me before leaving home, and again by letter, to go and hear her friend, Mr Miller, a Scotchman, a well-known evangelist, preach; and intent on this, we started out on the Sunday morning, but, when well on the way, I remembered that the morning meeting was for the breaking of bread, and worship of the Lord, and that would not do for us, what we wanted was the gospel, and we must wait for that till night.
Accordingly we waited till night, and then started again, but, oh, what a hunt we had to find the place. It was a murky, misty, cold night, and we went on, and on, until at length, — and I cannot help thinking the devil knew what was coming, — Tom W- said, "I am not going a step farther." "You may go home," I said, "if you like, but I will find this place, even if I have to go till midnight" It was William Street, in the north of London, we were seeking, and just as Tom said he would not go another step, we were in it, but we could not see the name for the mist. "Is this William Street, where Mr Miller preaches?" "Yes," said a voice, "but he is not preaching tonight. He has gone down to Scotland; but Mr Charles Stanley is preaching." That name awakened old memories. When I was a boy of ten, that gentleman came to spend a day or two at my father's house. He wished to go to Dartmouth on some business, and my father told me to drive him, which I did. When we came home, he put his hand in his pocket, and then gave me a pearl-handled, four-bladed knife. "Take that, my boy," he said, and I was quite proud of the gift. Ten years had rolled by, but the name, Charles Stanley, reminded me of the gift. "That is the man who gave me a knife," I said to myself; "let us go in and hear him."
The place was crammed; and we stood in the aisle. The preacher was speaking very simply from the story of Solomon building the temple. Stones, three hundred tons in weight, were taken to build the temple. He told us where they came from, a cavern below Jerusalem, and how they were hewn out of the quarry, and then taken out, and built into the temple. Then he pointed out that God was building a spiritual temple; that the world was the quarry, and sinners were the stones. They were so deeply embedded in the quarry, however, that a good deal of blasting was needed to get them out. It often took trouble, and distress, and sorrow to break up a man, and dislodge him from the world. Then, again, his sins had to be pressed on him, and by-and-by he got a little bit anxious. Just as Hiram shaped the top and sides of his stones, so did God's Spirit act on a sinner, to shape him to receive the gospel. But how were these stones, three hundred tons in weight, got into position? I shall never forget the preacher's remark as to this. Supposing Hiram had gone to these stones and said: "You great stones, I want you up out of this quarry. Get up this ladder, with only ten steps, and get into the temple." How could those stones move? They were lifeless. The application was easy. The ladder was the law, the ten commandments. Could I keep them? Could I reach God's temple now, and heavenly glory hereafter, by keeping them? I saw that I could not. I began to get convicted; I began to get really anxious. I wish you were getting anxious. My brow became clouded. The brow of every man is clouded when he becomes serious about his soul. I was serious that night, and I will tell you why. I was a downright awakened sinner, I saw my sin, I saw my guilt; I saw the holiness of God. I knew if there was any one on earth who had righteously earned his way to the pit of hell, I was that man. I do not deny that I was deeply serious.
Then the preacher told us that, just as Hiram brought tackle and purchase, and lifted his big stones out of the quarry, and put them into the temple, without sound of hammer or chisel, so God was building His temple, composed of sinners, saved by grace, through the redemption of Jesus Christ. He showed us that God's Son had done the work for us, and His Spirit wrought in us; that the blood of atonement had been shed, and the claims of God had been all met by the Saviour on the cross. Jesus had died that the sinner might live. Christ's blood had been shed that the sins of the sinner might be washed away. I began then to think, Can this be for me? for I was deeply convicted of sin.
The meeting closed. Then the preacher said, "I will be glad to see anybody anxious, in the side room." Turning to my comrade, I said, "What are you going to do?" I shall never forget Tom's answer. "I am going home, to have it out with God." What had happened? He, too, was a convicted sinner. "Well," I said, "you can go home; I shall stay and speak to Charles Stanley." I went round the back of the buildings into the little vestry, and there had a little conversation with dear Mr Stanley. He then introduced me to a Christian lady, the wife of the man I had gone to hear. She told me she had been expecting to see me, as she had heard of my being in London through my aunt, then living in Somersetshire. Presently she said to me, "Are you a Christian?" "No" I replied. "Would you not like to be one?" she next asked. "I should very much like to be one," I replied, "but I do not know how to become one." Then she said, turning to her daughter, "Fetch Tom," and she went in search of her brother. He was a light-haired young man, who, I noticed, had been very active in putting people into seats, and giving out hymn-books. He was active also in the after-meeting.
After being introduced, he said: "I am glad to meet you. We heard from your aunt in Somerset that you were coming, and now we shall be very happy to see you at our house, any time you can come." I thanked him for this courtesy, and then he turned to me, and said, "May I ask, Are you a Christian?" "No, I am not, and I cannot profess to be what I am not." "Do you not want to be a Christian?" "Yes, I should very much like to be a Christian." "And how are you going to become a Christian?" "I suppose by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ." "Yes, there is no other way," said he. "Do you believe in Him?" "Yes, of course," I replied, "we all believe." "What do you believe?" he next asked me. I was never so puzzled in all my life, as by that question, and after a little pause, I replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." "Quite true, and are you a sinner?" "Oh, yes, I know that I am a sinner." "And did He come to save you?" "I hope so." "You hope so? and has He saved you?" "Oh, no!" "Why not?" "Because I do not feel saved," I said.
My friend thought a moment, and then continued, "You want to be saved, but you do not feel it?" "Exactly so," I replied, "I do not feel it." He then said: "You have not got to feel saved; all you have to do is believe what the Lord tells you. Do you believe He is able to save you?" "Yes." "And that He is willing to save you?" "Yes." "And are you willing to be saved?" "I am most desirous," I replied; "I would give all the world, if I had it, to know that I were saved, but how can I know it if I do not feel it? You surely do not expect me to believe a thing which I do not feel." "Indeed I do; I expect you to believe, because God says it, that the one who believes in His dear Son is forgiven, and saved." "Well," I replied, "I do believe." "What do you believe?" "I believe He is able, and willing to save me." "And that you are saved?" "No, I don't feel it." "Ah," said my friend, "I see where you are;" and he quoted to me that remarkable verse, in the Epistle of James, which runs thus, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). Then he added, "That is where you are."
Oh! my friends, never in all my history shall I forget the effect of that verse of God's Word on me. It was the means of my eternal salvation, although there is no gospel in it at all. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." It was a revelation from God; it was light to my soul. I saw my company, and I am not ashamed to confess it, I fled. I fled! I saw I was the companion of devils. I had just the traditional faith of Christendom; I believed there was one God; the devils also believed. They trembled; I was trembling. They were not saved; I was not saved. I was on the same ground as the damned devils in hell. Their faith had not saved them; mine, being just like theirs, could not save me. I was overwhelmed. I confess the Word of God broke me to pieces; and I trembled yet more. I am not ashamed to say it, my knees smote together. I saw myself to be what God knew me to be, a man going to hell in his sins, and with a conventional faith that would not avail. Is that the position you are in? Wake up then tonight, I pray you, I implore you.
I was utterly staggered, and like the awakened jailor in Philippi's prison, I cried, "What must I do to be saved?" My friend saw the effect of the scripture on me, and replied: "Stop, there is a difference between you and the devils. They are past mercy; you are still on ground, where mercy will meet you, if you will take God at His word." "I will gladly take it, if I can get it. What am I to do?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "What! only believe?" "Yes, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "But," I said, "I do not feel it." "Man," he replied, never mind your feelings; fling your feelings overboard as useless, just as you would an old coat. If you trust in your feelings you will wake up in hell some day, and then you will know what your feelings are worth. You are not told to feel, you are told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You must take God at His word."
I was just on the point of believing the gospel, when an old acquaintance stepped up to me, and whispered in my ear. His voice was very audible, and what he said was so emphatic that for the time being I lost all consciousness of earthly voices, and surroundings. What he said was this: "Stop! do not be in a hurry. Do not decide tonight; you know you have to attend a number of things in Devon. You have to sing at that concert, you know; you have already hired your piano; you have got your new comic songs, and you have been practising them for some time; and, besides, you have sworn to the conductor you would attend and sing. If you become a Christian you could not sing those songs. Then you are engaged for So-and-so's dinner party, and ball. You are engaged seven-deep in the Christmas week. Put it off for a fortnight, and get over the Christmastide. Go down to Devonshire, fulfil all your engagements like a gentleman, and then come back to London, and be a Christian." Then he craftily wound up his exhortation, and capped this diabolical advice with this bit of Scripture, "No man can serve two masters" (Matt 6:24).
That last word settled me. I said to my old master, the devil, "You are right, no man can serve two masters; you have been a bad master, and I will serve you no longer; Christ for me henceforth." I got saved there, thank God! on the spot. The very scripture which the devil would have bound me with, and thought to drag me down by, was the very scripture that snapped my chains and set me free. No sooner had I said, "I will serve you no longer," than I again became conscious that my young light-haired friend was still talking to me. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," again fell on my ear. The clock was striking ten, and our conversation had been long, and now I asked, "Have I only just to believe that Jesus died for me on the cross, bearing my sins, and if I believe in Him, am I saved?" "That is it," he said. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." I paused a moment. Could I believe in Him, still feeling nothing? "Lord, I believe," sprung from my heart, and fell from my lips, and I was saved on the spot. And so may you be on the spot where you now are, if you will believe in Him.
Yes, there and then I got the knowledge that I was forgiven; I met the blessed Saviour, who had overcome death for me. He filled my heart with peace and joy in the same moment, and we have been fast friends for seven-and-thirty years; and I am longing to be eternally with Him. Oh! will you not come with me? Will you not join me? He is a good Master; I can commend Him to you. But you must do as I did; I had to believe before I felt.
I went home that night to my lodgings as happy as a man could be. I was forgiven, saved, emancipated, taken out of darkness into light, brought from distance into nearness. I knew it, and enjoyed it. My soul began to cry out under the sense of the favour of the Lord, and of the love of the Lord; for I had the consciousness that my Saviour had made atonement for my sins, and had washed them all away in His blood.
When I got home, there was Tom, poor fellow, weeping as if his heart would break. "Well, Tom," I asked, "how is it now?" He looked at me, and said, "Man, I see how it is with you by your face." "Yes," I said, "thank God, I am saved, and I know I am saved." "But how did you get it?" he asked. Oh! what easy work now it was to tell him, and what happy work too. We sat up until three o'clock on Monday morning, reading, praying, and praising, and though Tom did not find Jesus that night, he did next day. I can never forget December 16, 1860.
I had been asked to go to a prayer-meeting, that evening, and went. My dear young fellow-believers, be sure and go to the prayer-meeting; get among Christians. It was a great thing for me that I got among Christians at the start. I remember that night at the prayer-meeting, it had got abroad that I had been saved over-night, and many a Christian came, and gave me a hearty greeting in Christ's name, which much cheered me. When I got home at eleven o'clock, Tom greeted me with a smile, and a warm grip of the hand. It was all right. He had found the Lord, all alone, just before I got in. "Thank God!" I could only say. God saved both of us. Two comrades, now two brothers in the Lord, who had saved us both.
Well, you say, what was the next thing you did? I did not mention my conversion in the office on Monday, as I thought it might be excitement, for I was not a little moved. I would that you could be moved just in the same way, and have the same joy as I had. On Tuesday, my master, a lawyer to whom I was to have had my articles transferred, sent me to Lincoln's Inn, with a message to another lawyer. When I got there, he was not in, and would not be back for an hour, his clerk told me. My business demanded that I should wait, and see his master, so I asked if he would favour me with pen, and paper, and ink, and there in that old musty quarter of London, — Lincoln's Inn, — I wrote to the conductor of the concert, the man to whom I had sworn faithfully I would come down and sing, and told him of the very remarkable thing that had happened to me. I told him the story as briefly as I could, how God had met me, a hell-going sinner, and saved me, and blessed me; and, I said, that if I went down to sing I must sing about Christ. If I could not sing about Christ, I could not sing at all. My songs had all been changed, and I must be permitted to sing about Christ, if present. I was afraid if I did so I should spoil his concert, so suggested that he had better let me off. I gave him all the gospel I knew, and at the end of the letter I wrote, "Be sure and read this letter to the whole of the Glee Club." Did he do it? Not he. He was one of those professing Christians who sail with the world, and who consequently are a dishonour to the name of Christ, and a stumbling-block in the way of many a young man. He who owns Christ as his Lord must break with the world to be really a witness for Him.
He did not read the letter to my fellow-singers, as I wished, but, as I did not appear at the concert, he told enough of its contents to let the people understand that I had "become religious," and gave them to understand that the reason I was not there was, because I had gone wrong in my head. My dear friends, I wish you had the same disease. I had not gone wrong in my head, but I had got right in my heart, that night. Some people may think me a little mad. I wish you had the same madness. If you think I am making a fool of myself for Christ's sake — godless man — you will find out by-and-by, that you made a great mistake in laughing at me, when I, and all the other people you have laughed at, are with Christ in glory. Where will you be then? Where will you spend eternity?
Let me assure you of this, that the Christian's life is the happiest, because the holiest. I have been seven-and-thirty years converted, and I find that my portion gets better every year. Christ is dearer, and heaven is nearer, and the gospel is sweeter every year. If you want to have a happy life, you must be on Christ's side. Decide for Him now. Trust the Saviour, and start with Him tonight. But if you start with Him, the next thing will be, you will go out to speak of the Lord. People often say to me, What set you preaching? Well, I never set up to be a preacher; all I can say is, that being filled with the joy of the Lord, I have not been able to contain it; I must tell of it to other people; and that is why I am here tonight; that is the secret. Conversion is just like scarlet fever; it is infectious. If you get converted yourself, you tell others of your new-found joy, and others will get converted also.
You, my dear young man, who have decided for Christ, be firm for Him. I do not say, Follow me, but I say, Follow Christ. Seek to serve the Lord, and put yourself, from this hour, absolutely under Him.
And you, my dear friend, if you have never decided for the Lord before, be decided tonight. If you have not been a Christian before, may the simple tale of my conversion lead you to decision, and set you on your way seeking to serve the Lord. He is coming back, and we shall soon see Him face to face. May we each heed His word, "Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).