About this Book
You may have heard of the clergyman who was converted while preaching his own sermon! Well, this is man -- William Haslam. It happened in Cornwall one Sunday in 1851. He later wrote his autobiography in two books: From Death into Life and Yet not I. In Leaves from my Notebook, William Haslam writes about events and people not present in his autobiography. They make fascinating and challenging reading as we watch him sharing his faith, one to one or in small groups, with dramatic results. Haslam was a man who mixed easily with titled gentry and the poorest of the poor, bringing the message of salvation in a way that people were ready to accept. This book has been lightly edited to make reading easier today by using modern punctuation and avoiding over-long sentences. William Haslam’s amazing message is unchanged.
First Published 1889
This edited and abridged edition ©Chris Wright 2016
e-Book ISBN: 978-0-9935005-2-7
White Tree Publishing
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this abridged edition.
Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.
About this book
1. MY FIRST SERMON IN LONDON
2. A TRANSACTION WITH GOD
3. THE PARISH CLERK
4. “I WAS A HAPPY BOY THEN”
5. A SAVING GOD
6. THAT’S A BARGAIN
7. THE YOUNG JOCKEY
8. COME BY MISTAKE
9. THE OLD GENERAL
10. THAT COUPLE
11. THE DINNER DRESS
12. “ENDORSE THE CHEQUE”
13. I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU
14. “YES, TONIGHT”
15. “I CANNOT FEEL IT”
16. “I’M ON FIRE”
17. “THAT BIG BEN”
18. THE HORRIBLE PIT
19. “I DREAMT I WAS DEAD”
20. “I AM ORDERED OFF”
21. A PRAISE MEETING
22. SWINGING ON THE GATE
23. “I HOPE SO”
25. THE LATCH
26. THE JOY OF HEAVEN
27. ASHAMED TO DIE
28. THE ANGRY MAN
29. THE DUMB DEVIL
30. “I HAVE GIVEN UP RELIGION”
31. “HASLAM’S PEN”
32. THE TORN BOOK
33. GRAVE CLOTHES
34. THAT UMBRELLA DID IT
35. THE CROWN OF PEACE
36. “COMING, IS HE?”
37. CAST AWAY
38. I AM A BARONET TOO
39. THE DOORMAT CHRISTIAN
40. I AM SO UNREAL
ABOUT WHITE TREE PUBLISHING
Victorian authors generally wrote in long sentences that can be hard to unravel, when readers had more time for reading than many of us do today. This book has been slightly abridged, and many sentences have been broken into two or even three, and modern punctuation has been used. The occasional outdated or obsolete word has been replaced, but the message is completely unchanged. I would like to thank Geraint Jones for kindly allowing me the use of the OCR scan he made from the original book.
The main message of Haslam’s writing in Leaves from My Notebook is that there is more to the Christian life than conversion. For many, it’s time to start moving forward! In 2005 I abridged William Haslam’s double volume autobiography (From Death into Life and Yet not I) into a single paperback book. It is published by Highland Press (ISBN: 978-18979137-8-9) entitled Haslam’s Journey.
Introduction by the Original Author
This book is divided into two parts. The first part contains cases of anxious persons who have already experienced conversion; and the second part refers to converted people who have received a further blessing.
It is important to distinguish between pardon and deliverance. It is clear we need a Saviour to save us from the penalty of sin, and equally so, that we need a living Physician to deliver us from the power of sin.
The picture shows children playing at a gate. One boy is seen balancing himself on the top, with arms extended in high glee, “as happy as a king”. Others are timidly clinging to the sides of the gate. Others are pushing the gate to and fro; while one is sprawling on the ground.
Too many converted people are like these children. They are swinging on the gate of conversion, instead of leaving it, to pass on their heavenward way.
I have endeavoured as much as possible to conceal the names of people and places, for my object has not been to tell the particular history of any individual, but to state the case for the good of others.
These stories have been so much blessed, and I have been asked so often to publish these in a book form, that I now comply, with prayer that the volume may help many anxious ones, and otherwise promote the glory of God.
Problems After Conversion
My First Sermon in London.
THE first time I preached in London after my conversion, I found it very cold and hard. There was no hearty response, or Amen, such as I was accustomed to hear in Cornwall. On the whole the sermon to me was like a discouraging battle, and I was not sorry when it was over.
In the vestry the Vicar said he thought that I was very excitable, and that his quiet people had been too much agitated.
I was rather surprised at this, for I thought they were very far from excited. However, I may have been mistaken. While we were talking, there came a loud knock at the door. The Vicar said, “Come in;” and a gentleman entered in a great state of perturbation. He said, “Oh, sir, do help me! What shall I do?”
“There,” said the Vicar, “did I not tell you——”
“Oh, sir!” interrupted the stranger, “I am sure you can help me. I have been in distress about my soul for over three weeks. I have been tempted more than once to shoot myself, and tonight I have been thinking of drowning myself in the river.”
“Sit down, my friend,” I said. “Let me understand your trouble. What is it all about?”
He answered, “I was awakened under a sermon from the text, ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve.’ I was much alarmed at what I heard, for I felt I had not been serving God, or even trying to do so. I have been serving the world. What is worse, I am so tangled up in it that I cannot get free. There is nothing but ruin before me if I give up the world, and perdition if I do not. It has nearly driven me mad!”
I said, “I do not think that God desires to ruin you, or anyone else. His desire and will is to do you good, both in this world and the next. He cares for you and yours far more than you care for yourselves. You had better trust Him.”
“But suppose I trust Him and He takes away everything I possess! Why, I should be a ruined man!”
I replied, “But on the other hand, suppose you keep all your possessions and go on as you are. What will become of you then?”
“Oh, I know all about that too. That is the very thing which distracts me. It will just drive me out of my mind.”
I continued, “David said, ‘Let me fall into the hand of God, and not into the hand of man’ (2 Samuel 24:14). Ruin or no ruin, if I were you I would give myself up to God.”
“Then again,” he said, “you see I am such a sinner. I have been sinning against light and knowledge.”
I answered, “Did you hear that hymn we were singing in church just now?”
“That last hymn do you mean: ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’?”
“Yes,” I replied, “that one.”
“Why yes,” he said, “I have known that hymn ever since I was a child. I have been well taught. So that means my sin is all the greater, you see.”
“My dear man, you do not know that hymn yet. It does not say that sinners plunged beneath the Thames, but sinners plunged beneath the blood, lose all their guilty stains. The dying thief was a bad man,” I went on to say, “and yet his sins were pardoned through that blood. And there may you, though vile as he, wash all your sins away. I advise you to go to this fountain, cost what it may. There you may get rid of your sins and become God’s child. Then be sure, He will know how to provide both for you and yours.”
“I never thought of the meaning of that hymn,” he said, with some surprise.
“God has awakened and shown you what a sinner you are, on purpose that you may come to Him for forgiveness. Come now, everything is ready. The dying thief believed. Why may not you?”
After a little more persuasion, this troubled man fell on his knees and begged God to forgive him. He pleaded with a loud voice, to the evident astonishment of the Vicar and his churchwarden. Seeing that I was in no way alarmed, they remained, I suppose to witness what would happen next.
There was only one thing to happen. I urged the man to pray, and when his prayer was deep and earnest enough, I assured him of God’s answer. I said, “God would not offer pardon to a sinner such as you, and then refuse you when you came. Thank Him.”
He had not turned in that direction long, before the dear man’s soul was set at liberty, and he began to rejoice and praise God. He rose from his knees and came forward to shake hands with me, and no doubt would have turned to the Vicar and churchwarden to do the same. But they had fled, leaving us to find our way out of the church as best we could.
Lost in wonder, love, and praise, my friend looked at me, and said, “I do not mind now what happens to me. I can trust God, and I will. Lord, help me.”
I assured him that God does not show us our faults to ruin us, but to save and set us free. “Quietly trust Him,” I said. “Do not put your hand to anything that you see is wrong, or that is against your conscience. Rather lose the benefit which might accrue from such an action, for it will be no real benefit to you.”
He went away a changed man, at peace with God, and determined to follow the Lord, come what might. After this, whenever he heard of my being in London, he found me, and his testimony was, “The Lord is good. I am not a ruined man, but happy and prosperous. My business is changed, and my wife is happy too. It is a blessed thing to be on the Lord’s side.”
Some ten years after this man’s conversion I was telling his story to illustrate a point in my address, and remarked that I had not seen my friend lately, when a voice cried out from the audience, “All right, I am here, thank God.”
This voice startled some timid people, but added weight and confirmation to the subject I was urging.
We should never give way to despair, for that is unbelief in a dangerous form; but when we come to our extremity, turn to the Lord. This is His opportunity. He that believeth is not confounded.
The blood of Jesus is certain in its pardoning efficacy. The dying thief was forgiven while that blood was still warm and flowing. Multitudes of persons have been forgiven since, and multitudes more will be, through the same. It is true, as the poet says, that that blood…
“Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”
A Transaction with God
I WAS speaking one afternoon in a drawing room on the subject of spiritual religion. I said, “It does not consist in knowing Scripture truth, or in assenting to articles of the Christian faith, but rather in definite transactions with God. God says, ‘Give me your heart;’ and you reply, ‘Lord, take it.’”
A gentleman of high taste and good degree was sitting by reading a newspaper, in which he appeared to be deeply absorbed. I did not imagine he was listening to our conversation, but putting down his paper, he said, “I quite agree with you, sir. I do not suppose there is much good in simply assenting to words of Scripture.”
I inquired, “Have you, then, ever had a transaction with God?”
“Yes, I have,” he replied, “a very remarkable one. It was nine years ago, but I have never told anyone of it.”
“Surely,” I said, “it is time then to say something about it now. What was it?”
“I have no objection to tell you,” he answered, wheeling his chair round. “I was away, and in danger of my life. It was just a choice between yellow fever and being shot during an insurrection. I did not like to face the one or the other, and in great perplexity walked about my room. I took up a book and laid it down again. Then I took up something else, but I could not rest.
“At last I fell to unpacking my portmanteau, and there I espied my mother’s Bible. Taking it up, I said to myself, ‘Ah, my dear old mother was the one to help me out of trouble. I never applied to her in vain!’ So thinking, I began to look over the leaves of her precious Bible. It was marked from end to end both in pencil and in ink. Here and there were strong marks attracting attention. One such caught my eyes, and I read the verse opposite to it. It was, ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me’ (Psalm 1:15).
“Sir, when I read these words, I felt as if my mother’s spirit was in the room speaking to me. I knelt down at once and called upon the Almighty to deliver me out of danger. Would you believe it, sir, I received an answer, in my mind, as clearly as if my mother had given it to me!”
“Yes,” I answered, “I can readily believe what you tell me; but what did you do?”
“Do?” he repeated. “There was only one thing to do. I packed up my traps and came off immediately, wondering why I had not seen this way before. I had a safe journey and reached London without any harm. Now, what do you think about that, sir? Is not that a transaction with God?”
“Yes,” I replied quietly, “that is part of the transaction. The text says, ‘I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me;’ but you say that you have never told anyone. What did you do when you reached London in safety? Did you kneel down and thank God for answering your prayer?”
As he remained silent, I continued, “Do you mean to tell me that you never thanked God? Nine years have passed away without your making any acknowledgment to Him, and that you have not even told anyone of His goodness to you?”
He looked somewhat ashamed and confused, so I said, "You had better do it now -- at once. Better late than never. Thank God now."
He pushed back his chair, and kneeling down gave the Almighty thanks for having saved his life, and apologised for not having done so before. “On my honour,” he said, “I never thought about it.”
“Now,” I proposed, “you are on your knees, why not let us ask God to save your soul, and show you the way to heaven? He would rather do that than save your life.”
As my friend continued in the attitude of prayer, I prayed for him to this effect, and after a little while he prayed for himself. When he rose from his knees he could not help expressing surprise at his forgetfulness.
I said to him, “Supposing that you had exercised your influence to obtain some favour for me, and I went off to enjoy it without thanking you, or taking any notice. Would you do me another favour, do you think?”
“No, sir,” he answered, “certainly not.”
“Well,” I said, “now you may understand why it is that nine years have passed away, without you having had any other transaction with God. When we receive such distinct answer to prayer as you did, we ought to acknowledge it, at least as earnestly as we prayed for it.”
“Yes, yes, I quite agree with you; but why did I forget like that?”
This gentleman began from that day to seek the Lord. The next time I met my friend he told me of his conversion; and added, “This time I did not forget to thank the Lord, I assure you, or to make known to others what a forgiving and loving God He is.”
Henceforth it became the mission of his life, to speak to people on this very subject. He made it his business to ask individuals, “Do you pray? I do not mean, do you say your prayers, as they call it; but do you pray?”
He continued, “Many people do not, but sometimes I meet people who do pray. Then my next question is, ‘Do you get or expect answers to your prayers?’ Many do not expect an answer, and others are surprised when they get it. But some really expect an answer, and have it too. Then I ask, ‘Do you thank God for the answer?’ Oh, I am not alone,” he exclaimed. “You would be surprised to find how very few persons there are, who even think of thanking God for the answer He has sent them. Ah, well,” he continued, “He has kindly forgiven that now, and I thank Him, and thank you too, my good sir.”
“Yes,” I said, “thanking God is like keeping open the window or door of communication between God and your soul, so that you can always come to Him freely. Whereas withholding thanks has the effect of setting up a barrier between Him and yourself.”
I continued, “If you had done me some great favour, and I was aware that I had neglected to thank you for it, I should be ashamed to meet you. The longer the acknowledgment was deferred, the greater would the embarrassment be. ‘Short accounts make long friends,’ and I am quite sure it is, as the Psalmist says, ‘a good thing to give thanks.’”
The Parish Clerk
SOME years ago I was passing across a nobleman’s park in company with a friend. We were going to visit the gamekeeper’s wife who was very ill, and could not attend some special services then being held.
As we were passing the church, which was situated in the same park, the parish clerk came running out at the door. He took off his hat, and at the same time bowing almost to the ground, said, “Come in, sir, and see the candles I have been putting up in the church.”
I said, “Thank you, we shall see them in the evening, when they are lighted.”
“Nay, if you please, come in and see them now.”
Again I declined, and was moving forward when he drew nearer to me and said, somewhat in a whisper, “Come in, and have a prayer for the evening.”
I at once complied with this request, to his evident joy. As my friend and I directed our steps to the church door, the parish clerk ran before us and went into the great pew of the nobleman. From this he brought out three hassocks which he placed side by side on the chancel step. When we came up to the place, he pointed to my friend. "Mr. --, you will kneel there, and Mr. Haslam," pointing to the next hassock, "will kneel there; and your humble servant, with your consent, will take this one," touching the third hassock as he spoke.
We all knelt for a few seconds in silence. Then the clerk rose to his feet, and said, "Mr. -- will pray," which my friend did. After this, rising again, the clerk said, "Mr. Haslam will pray next." I did so. Then the clerk rose to his feet for the third time, and said, "Your humble servant will pray now, with your permission."
Permission being granted, he began a collect, and broke down in the middle of it. He then began another, which shared the same fate. “What shall I do?” said the poor man, in evident distress.
Presently he burst into tears, and cried out with a broken voice, “Lord, have mercy upon me,” becoming more and more earnest as he went on.
I quietly and calmly said “Amen” to his prayers.
“O Lord;” he continued, “Thou knowest how miserable I am, and have been all the time during this mission. O Lord, do have mercy upon me. I’m the only one in my house unsaved. Wife, son and daughter all saved, and I am left. Salvation is all round me, and I am swimming in it, and yet I’m not saved. What shall I do?”
On the previous night I had been telling a story, which I had either read or heard, of a ship without any fresh water on board. She had plenty of spirits, abundance of salt meat, and dry biscuits, but no water. The sailors were in great distress, fainting and dying of thirst. At last a vessel hove in sight, and came alongside. Seeing the signal of distress, the captain of the ship inquired, “What is your trouble?” They answered, “We have no water. We are dying of thirst. Send us water!” The captain put his trumpet to his mouth, and shouted out, “It is all round you. You are swimming in it!”
The great river Amazon comes out a long way to sea with its fresh water, and this vessel was then floating in it, but the distressed mariners did not know it. One of the suffering crew believed the word of the captain, and immediately threw a bucket overboard and drew up some of the water. He greedily put his parched lips to it, and sure enough it was fresh water. Though rather brackish, it was good enough to restore the fainting ones. He lost no time in waking up his shipmates to tell them the good news.
It was in reference to this story that the clerk said, “I have been swimming it. It is all round me.” He was in evident distress of soul, because he had not availed himself of the Gospel privileges which had been so evidently blessed to his wife and children. This was the thought that was pressing on his soul. He had been neglecting the mercy of God. He had heard the words of the Gospel, and had seen their effect on others, yet he remained unsaved. Now it was his turn to plead for mercy! And plead he did, in much earnest.
When I saw that the man was thoroughly sincere in his desire, and that he had come to his extremity, I suggested to him that he must trust in God. I said, “You must take salvation as the sailor took the water, which was all round him. Take it, and thank God. He says ‘It is finished.’ Believe it is, and thank Him for it.”
This evidently was a new thought to him. “I will, I will,” he exclaimed.
Soon he did this, and gave thanks with all his heart. He rejoiced with a loud voice until the walls of the empty church echoed with the sound of his thanksgiving. It had often resounded with his sonorous and somewhat nasal “Amen”, but now the words came from the very depth of his heart.
After this he rose from his knees and gave expression to his happy feelings in snatches of psalms and favourite collects, as they came to his mind. “To think,” he said, “that I have been worshipping here these thirty years, and yet never believed in the dear Lord before. I do believe, and I will praise Him, and all that is within me.”
All at once another thought came to his mind. He looked towards my friend, who was kneeling on the hassock beside mine, weeping copiously. He fell on his knees again and said, "O Lord, do save Mr. --. Save him. He knows nothing about it. I've known him, Lord, for thirty years, and he has never said a word to me on the subject. O Lord, save him."
Hearing this, I leaned over and spoke kindly to my friend, urging him to yield his heart to God, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He said with a trembling voice, “I did so last night, but I have no joy like the clerk.”
I replied, “You are looking at yourself, instead of looking to Jesus. He is the only foundation of joy. You cannot admire a picture,” I continued, “if you do not look at it. Look, and it will command your admiration. So a look at the Lord will command your salvation. Look and live.”
In a short time I and my two friends were rejoicing together, and praising God.
The happiness of the clerk was excessive. He could scarcely contain himself. He was in a hurry to run home and “tell his people.” He said, “I want to tell all my neighbours, and wish to give thanks to God publicly in church tonight!”
Indeed, he did all these things. More than this, he has continued to be a faithful witness of the truth as it is in Jesus.
How simple is the plan of salvation. It is all round you -- you are swimming in it! What a shame it is to live without salvation. What a shame to die and perish without being a partaker of God's love!
“I Was a Happy Boy Then.”
A LADY said to me one day, “What do you think? I heard a good man say ‘Sunday schools are a necessary evil.’”
“Indeed,” I replied, “then the ‘good man,’ as you call him, at least acknowledged that Sunday schools are necessary. Let us be content.”
“But what did he mean?” asked the lady.
I answered, “Perhaps he meant that parents ought to teach their children at home on Sundays, or that children ought to be catechised in the church; but failing this being done, then Sunday schools are necessary.”
“No, I am sure,” said the lady; “he meant that Sunday schools did no good.”
“Well,” I replied, “there may be something in that. The good they do depends very much on what is taught, and how it is taught. There are multitudes of people who owe everything to the Sunday school. It is all the Bible teaching or instruction they ever had, and many owe their salvation to it. Every teacher of the Sunday school ought to be a believer. By that, I mean a saved soul. And every such teacher should aim not merely to impart Gospel teaching to his or her scholars, but to bring them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a new heart.”
“I am afraid,” said the lady, “I never did that, though I was very particular in still looking up my scholars.”
“What did you teach the children?” I asked.
She replied, “I taught them Scripture, the Catechism, and hymns.”
“Then you filled their minds and memories with Divine truths, hoping that somehow the precious words would find their way into their hearts and take root there?”
“What else could I do?”
“I am afraid,” I replied, “that not only children, but many grown-up congregations, are treated much in the same way. Christ sends His servants to bring people to Him, but they go out and deliver a message to those to whom they are sent, and leave it. ‘Compel them to come in,’ said the Master; but the servant says, ‘I told them to come!’ Properly speaking, the ground ought to be prepared before the seed is sown. Very much good teaching is like seed thrown upon unbroken ground. There it remains, or is taken away by the birds of the air. But even if it remains, it lies dormant in some crevice where it cannot grow or do any good. I have known persons who said that they have forgotten all they had learned in their childhood. The Lord says that the devil took away the seed, lest they should believe and be saved. Others I have known who have forgotten much that they were taught, but yet something has remained which has eventually done good.”
I continued, “I will tell you of a case, which perhaps is one of many thousands. There was a wicked, rough, and ignorant man who lived… I was going to say a heathen life, but heathen people are for the most part religious, whereas this wicked fellow had not a spark of religion or knowledge of good things in his head.
“His wife, who was a Christian, came one day to ask me whether I would visit him, as he was very ill. I consented to do so. On the way to the house she told me what a bad man her husband was. I therefore asked her how she came to marry such a man. ‘Oh!’ she said, ‘I was as bad as he when we married, but since then God has changed my heart. From that time my husband has been more wicked and cruel to me than before.’
“On arriving at the house I was shown into the man’s room, and soon after I began to inquire as to his state, and to speak to him concerning his soul. With this he flew into a desperate rage, and said, ‘Sir, if I had been a rich man you would not have dared to come to my house and talk to me like this; but because I am a poor man you think you may take this liberty and trample upon me.’
‘“Oh, I beg your pardon,’ I said. ‘I did not mean to insult you by coming to see you.’
‘“Come over to me,’ said his wife, who was sitting by the fire and heard her husband’s speech. ‘Come here and speak to me. I shall be very glad of a few words from you.’
“I rose up and went to the fireside, and there sat down. I spoke loudly enough for the husband to hear, although our conversation was not about him, nor did I refer to his rudeness to me. After a time we happened to commence singing. I do not usually do this, but so it was then.
‘O for a thousand tongues, to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
And sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.’
‘“Sing that verse over again,’ said the sick man, who was by this time sitting up in his bed and listening. We did so, until at last the poor fellow wept as if his heart would break. It appeared that this hymn awakened memories which had long been dormant. He had learnt these words when he was a boy in the Sunday school. He said, with a broken voice, ‘When I was a good boy, I used to sing that very hymn; but the devil got hold of me. Oh, them was happy days. I was a happy boy then.’
“I ventured to approach his bedside once more; and asked him how it was the devil got hold of him. He said, ‘I fell into the company of other boys, and went along with them. I know’d I was doing wrong when I did it; but for all that I went on, and then, as I say, the devil got hold on me.’
“I said, ‘The name of Jesus is a name that devils fall and fly before. Jesus has already conquered the devil.’ I went on to speak more about the hymn we had been singing. I said, ‘If the tune and the memory of the words have such an effect on you, how much more would the power of Jesus touch and hold you. He is called Jesus because He saves His people from their sins.’
“The poor man was willing now to let me speak to him about his salvation, without hindrance. He even consented to my praying with him, and asked me to come again.
“When I returned the following day, he said, ‘I see all about it, but you do not know what a terrible sinner I am.’
“‘Ah,’ I replied, ‘but I know what a Saviour Jesus is. He is making you feel your sins, in order that He may forgive them. And this He will do, if you will ask Him.’
“He did ask, and prayed very earnestly.
“I told him of God’s readiness to forgive, and assured him of his pardon. The poor man did not attain to joy and liberty that day, but the day following I found him sitting by the fireside rejoicing in the forgiveness of sin.
“Immediately I entered the room, he said, ‘Have you forgiven me for my rudeness to you?’
“I replied, ‘Oh, do not mention that. I am used to it. Let me rejoice with you.’ We did rejoice together. His wife, who had made much prayer for him, was beyond herself in praising God.
“I thought that the best thing I could do was to recall the past, and ask him about God’s dealings with his soul when he was young.
‘“Oh, them was happy days,’ he said. ‘I often thinks how I promised and intended to be good. My teacher in the Sunday school used to be so kind to me, but she was grieved at my going off with the other boys. She came after me again and again, and spoke so kindly, but it was all of no use. I often thinks of her, and how much she worried her poor self over me. She’s gone to heaven long since, dear soul. I wonder whether she knows about me now.’
“I said, ‘Perhaps she heard the angels singing at your conversion.’
‘“Do you think she did, though?’ he said, turning round sharply towards me. ‘It would be a comfort to me to think that. However, I’ll tell her all about it when we meet. I suppose it won’t be long.’”
What a change a few short weeks had made in this man. To God be the glory!
A Saving God
“WHAT makes you say that God is a saving God, so frequently?” I asked a man who attracted my attention by his continued use of this phrase. He was a big and determined-looking fellow, full of zeal and enthusiasm.
He told me that when he was younger he had fallen in with a band of Freethinkers and atheists who lived in the city where he was. He rather liked their talk, and all the more because they “scared the respectables” so much. “We were a terror to them,” he said, drawing himself up. “And I thought we were a fine lot of fellows indeed. I read their papers,” he continued, “and primed myself with their arguments. I found that the generality of the people who came to talk to us were not up with the subject at all, and it was a grand thing to floor these good men. We shut them up one after another. They could not answer us. I do think that you teacher-people ought to be better up with the controversy than you are. Don’t you?”
I replied, “I do not think I would trouble myself to get up controversial subjects. There are two sides to every question. I prefer stating God’s truth.”
“Ah yes, but you have to prove to me that it is God’s truth, don’t you see?”
“No,” I answered, “I do not see, or care to do so either. I am quite satisfied that it is God’s truth. If its genuineness depended on my establishing it, it would stand on a poor basis indeed. I believe God, and therefore I believe what He says.”
This man was evidently not yet free from his old entanglements, though there was no mistake that he was in some measure changed from what he used to be.
I asked him to tell me how he came to know that there is a God, and that He is a saving God. “Has He saved you?”
“Yes,” he replied, “He has, and I am on His side now!” From his account of himself, I gathered that in days past he was a notorious and bold champion among the so-called Freethinkers. He could not say that he believed their talk altogether, but he saw the people stare when he boldly declared, “There is no God!”
On one occasion he had a crowd gathered round him at a street corner where he stood holding forth. Seeing that he had gained the attention of the people, he waxed very bold. He had once heard of a man who made himself notorious by asking God to destroy him, so he thought he would startle his audience by doing the same. Accordingly, he called on the Almighty and gave Him five minutes to strike him dead. Then he gave Him five minutes more. Nothing happened, so he walked away triumphantly, as if he had proved to demonstration that there was no God.
This man went on in this manner, more or less, for three years, at which time he caught cold and became very ill with rheumatic fever. The poor fellow suffered a great deal, and was so sensitive that he could not bear anyone to come near him. It gave him pain even to think of being touched. But there was one kind, sympathetic lady who visited him again and again. She read and talked to him in such a voice and manner that he could not help listening to her. She spoke so confidently of the love of God, and said that she had it in her own heart. Indeed, he said, she looked like it.
At length the man was persuaded to let her pray with him, and afterwards he promised to pray for himself. He thought that if he could be like that lady it would be “a deal better than what he had been.”
One day while the lady was singing about the love of God, he felt his heart melting and the tears came to his eyes. He said,” I wish you would teach me to be like you.”
“Like me!” said the lady. “God is not bound to copy me. He can make you a great deal better. Give your heart to Him, and ask Him to do this for you.”
He asked God to take his heart and to give him His Holy Spirit for Jesus Christ’s sake. In a short time he found that many of the words the lady had spoken to him were wonderfully true.
To make a long story short, this man became changed, and from being a notorious blasphemer and injurious to many, he rose up from his bed to be a wiser and better man.
Now it was his privilege to go to his old companions and tell them how happy he was, and why. Some laughed at him, but others believed and rejoiced with him.
He was not deterred by any discouragement he met with, but felt that his life work was to be among these people, to do them good.
One day, soon after his change of heart and his recovery from his painful illness, he happened to be passing round the same street corner where he had defied God in his conceit.
He said, “I stopped all at once. God seemed to say to me, ‘Did you call Me? Here I am.’ Oh, I felt such a fool! I saw then and there how vain and arrogant I had been. God seemed to say to me, ‘I am not a slaying, but a saving God.’ On my knees before the people who stood around me I confessed what a fool I had been, and how God had forgiven and changed me altogether from what I used to be.
"Three years ago I stood here, and said, 'God Almighty, where art Thou?' and He did not answer me, because I asked Him to kill me. But when I called on Him to have mercy on me, He saved me. Yes, I see that He is not a slaying, but a saving God -- that is His character. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn to Him and be saved.
“Oh,” he continued, “I poured out my heart as the crowd collected round me in that old corner. How I longed to tell them of God’s love. They were people who professed to believe there is a God, but they didn’t know Him! That’s my message now,” said the man. “God is love. He is a saving, not a destroying God.”
The Lord had dealt so bountifully with this man, that I could not doubt but that He would go on to melt him more and more. Wonderful was the change in his life, and very effective the testimony he bore to others.
That’s a Bargain
TRAVELLING home by train one day after some weary work, I sought and found an empty carriage so that I might be alone. After a stage or two of the journey, when the train stopped for a few minutes, I got out onto the platform to walk a little. A friend caught sight of me and asked if I would come into his carriage.
“No,” I said, “I would rather not. I want to be quiet and rest.”
“But,” he continued, “there is some work for you here. I have been told you can never rest without working. Come here. We have a gentleman with us who says he is not saved, and that he does not wish to be.”
By this time I was in the carriage. My friend remarked, pointing to the gentleman, “There he is, in the corner.”
Taking a seat by his side, I said to him, “It is not well to be unsaved in a train journey, especially in such a train as this. Presently we shall be going at a terrific pace down hill, and should anything go amiss there would not be a chance for any of us!”
“Oh, you will not frighten me like that,” said the gentleman. “I know this train too well. It has been going up and down here for years without accident.”
“That may be a reason,” I replied, “why there might be one today.”
“No such thing. I don’t believe it, sir.”
“That may be, but anyway it is a good thing to be saved, even if we do get to the end of our journey safely.”
However, our efforts only seemed to irritate the gentleman in the corner, so I turned to my friend. When first I knew my friend, several years before this, he used to be a very fashionable and worldly man. I asked him to tell me how he had become so changed. He complied readily enough, and then his wife told me how she was brought to God.
After this, my friend went on to tell me or the conversion of his father, who was a well-known man in the city, and had been Mayor no less than three times.
The gentleman in the corner happened to know something or this far-famed Mayor, and became interested in our talk; so much so, that he asked questions about the Mayor’s conversion.
Now that he was come into the circle of our conversation, my friend said to him, “That clergyman,” pointing to me, “was converted in his own pulpit while he was preaching his own sermon. What do you think of that?”
“Why,” said the gentleman, turning towards me with surprise, “you never mean to say that you are the man!”
“Yes, I am, thank God.”
“And did you write that book?”
Guessing what book he referred to, I replied, “Yes, I did.”
“Why, that is strange. Did you really write that book, From Death into Life? And are you the man?”
I nodded assent.
He said again, “Well, I am surprised. I was reading about you last week, and the book had such a disturbing effect on me that my dear wife said she would take it away. However, I would not part with it. I have it here in my bag.”
“Do go on,” I said, “and tell me more of your story.”
He continued, “I went on reading the book, and became very miserable. I could not sleep at night, or rest by day. My wife was in great trouble about me, and so was I about myself. Whether I read the book or not, it made little difference, I was still miserable.
“Two nights ago I tossed about in my bed, sighing and groaning in great anxiety. Then I suppose I fell asleep. I dreamed that the Lord said to me, ‘If you will give Me your heart I will pardon your sins.’ I struck my hands together instantly and said, ‘That’s a bargain, I will give my heart’ I woke out of my sleep so full of joy that I was surprised at myself. I shook my wife to wake her up, and said, ‘My dear, God has pardoned my sins.’
‘“Be quiet,’ she said, ‘and go back to sleep. You are going out of your mind. Oh, what shall I do?’
‘“If this is going out of my mind,’ I replied, ‘I wish with all my heart that you would go out of your mind too.’ She began to cry and said, ‘Oh, how I wish it was day.’
“As soon as it was daylight she sent off immediately for the doctor. He came to see me before I was up. ‘Yes, yes,’ he said, feeling my pulse, ‘you must keep very quiet. Stay in bed, and I will send you something.’
‘“What for?’ I inquired. ‘I am neither sick nor sorry. I am happy.’
‘“Yes, yes,’ he repeated, ‘exactly so. You go on rejoicing, but keep very quiet. There is a little perturbation of the brain. That’s a good man, just do as I tell you.’
“As soon as he was gone, I rose up and came to breakfast as usual. My dear wife was very much upset, and said, ‘I cannot bear to look at you. You look so different. Oh dear, dear, what shall I do?’ and she went off into a flood of tears.
“The doctor came again and had a long talk with me. I told him about the book, and the dream too. He said, ‘Yes, yes, are you fond of pictures?’
“I replied, ‘Yes, I am.’
“Well, I advise you,’ said the doctor, ‘to go to London for a week and see the Exhibition. Go today.’ No, I could not do that. ‘Then go tomorrow, without fail.’ And here I am on my way there.”
Just then the train stopped again, and my friend and his wife had to get out to take another train to their destination. I was then left alone with the unknown dreamer.
He looked at me, and said, “Is it not strange that I should fall in with you, the very man I have been reading and thinking about so much, for days? I did not know but what you had been dead for years.”
“Never mind me,” I said. “Let us go back to your dream. You tell me that you struck hands, and said you would give your heart to God. Have you done that?”
“I did in my dream, you know.”
“Do you mean this?” I asked. “Will you keep to the bargain now that you are awake?”
“Oh yes,” he said, “I do not want to go back from it.”
“Then you may be sure God will not go back. He is ready to pardon your sins. Let us kneel down and ask Him here, in this carriage. Why not? We are alone. The Lord Jesus,” I continued, “shed His blood to obtain your pardon, and He loves to give it to every sinner who comes to Him.”
We prayed together, and then I put the question to him. “Do you believe that God will keep His word? If you promised to do me a favour, you would expect me to thank you. Now let us thank God for His promise.”
Before we reached the next stopping place, we were both rejoicing in the Lord. The gentleman was full of joy and wonder too. He was altogether out of his old mind, and into a new one.
As we were approaching London, I asked him whether he had any friends there.
“No,” he replied, “I do not know who is in town at this time of the year. I have written to a young man who may be in London, but he is one who can do me no good.”
“Perhaps you will do him good,” I suggested. “Tell him your wonderful story.”
“Oh, he would make fine game of me!”
“Never mind that,” I said. “Make up your mind to speak to him.”
When the train arrived at Euston, he said, “There is my friend,” pointing to a young man who came up to the carriage door. The young man had a blue ribbon on his coat, and told us that he had something better under it, in his heart. I left these two friends rejoicing together. (The blue ribbon was being used to denote a believer, someone who belonged to God. See Numbers 15:38-40.)
The Young Jockey
SITTING in my vestry one morning to receive any person who desired to call on me for conversation or inquiry, I heard a knock at the door. “Come in,” I said. Who should appear but a young man whom I had observed for several Sundays in the congregation. I bade him enter, take a seat, and tell me his business.
“If you please, sir,” he said, “I should like to become a communicant.”
“Very well,” I replied, “tell me something about yourself. I have seen you in church several times, and I think I heard you singing heartily.”
“Yes, sir,” he answered, “I am fond of singing, and now I love to sing the praises of God.”
“That is right. It is a good thing to give thanks and to sing praises to our God. Were you always fond of such kind of singing?”
“Oh no, sir, I am sorry to say. Not by any means. I used to sing jocular comic songs, and keep people in roars of laughter.”
“Where was it that you used to sing like that?” I inquired.
“Oh, in the servants’ hall, sir, and in different places. Sometimes at the hotel, you know, and at the bar.”
“What made you change from that?” I asked.
"I will tell you, sir. I got thrown from a horse and broke my leg very bad. I am a light weight," he said, looking at his own slim figure, "and my master, Lord ---- said I was bold and likely, so he got me to ride his horses at races in different parts of the country. I have often had bad falls, but last time I came down a reg'lar cropper. They thought I was dead, but when I came to they found it was only my leg that was broken. I was much hurt inside as well. They did all they could for me there, and at last brought me to the hospital. Master was very sorry, and came to see me more than once.
“After lying for six weeks, sometimes suffering a good deal, I began to get better. At least I thought so, and the doctor said so too. Still I had strains, and every now and then severe pains inside. The doctor did not take much account of this, but I couldn’t help a-thinking that perhaps I should die in that hospital.
“One night the chaplain came to my bedside at nine o’clock, and talked very kindly to me. He wanted me to take the communion, but I was afraid to do that. ‘My poor fellow,’ he said, ‘I am sorry to have to tell you that you will die tonight. The doctor has sent me to break this solemn news to you. May God have mercy on your soul.’
“I was struck all of a heap. My worst fears were come to pass. The pain in my poor chest was so bad, too. I was in the greatest distress. Then the nurse came and put a screen round my bed. I thought, ‘It is all up with me!’ Dear me, it makes me feel quite bad again, even to tell it. What a night I had of it. The hours passed very slowly, and every time I heard the clock strike I thought to myself, ‘Is this the last time I shall ever hear that? Then I shall lie down in the ground, and the clock will go on striking, and I never hear it!’
“How I did long to send for mother. What a bad, wicked boy I had been. She gave me good advice, and I never followed it. I knew better than I was doing. I knew that I was going wrong, and that my master was going wrong too.
“When the daylight began to show at the hospital window I looked about, and over the top of the screen I could see a text. When there was light enough I read, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’
“‘Ah,’ I said to myself, ‘I used to know and say that text. Oh, if I had come to Jesus when I was young!’ Then the pain came back again very bad indeed. I said, ‘O Lord, don’t take me away to die. I will come to Thee. Do have mercy on my soul, and spare me a little longer. Thou didst shed Thy blood for me.’ I went on something like this till at last my burden and sorrow passed away. I felt happy. I felt I did not care now if the Lord did take me away to die. I should be with Him.
“Soon after the nurse came and felt my pulse. Then she looked at me, and said, ‘Well, I don’t think you want this screen. You are better!’
‘“I am,’ I said, ‘I am better. My soul is better anyhow.’ Then the doctor came round, and there was a whispering with the nurse. ‘Oh no,’ I heard the doctor say, ‘it is quite a mistake. I meant the poor man upstairs. He died at three o’clock this morning.’
“After this, he stepped up to the bedside and examined me. He said, ‘I think we will get you up today. You must be careful, you know, about that leg. Mind you don’t break it again.’”
I inquired, “Did the chaplain make that same mistake too?”
“Yes, he did. It was not me at all who was to die that night, it was another man. But the fright the chaplain put me in was the saving of my soul, praise the Lord.
“The next time the chaplain came round the ward he told me how sorry he was. ‘Don’t say a word about it,’ I said. ‘The terrible fright you gave me was the means of my salvation. I don’t mind having the communion now.’ But he did not care to talk with me.”
Having heard his story, I said to him, “So you would like to come to the communion next Sunday?”
“Yes, sir,” was his reply, “if you please.”
“It is the Father’s table for His children,” I continued. “I am His servant, and shall rejoice to see you there. Where are you living now?”
“Oh,” he replied, “I am with the same master still. I told his lordship the story about the dying, you know, and told him I was a changed man since then, and could not go out racing any more.
‘“No, no,’ he answered, ‘and I have done with that too.’ His lordship has been to church, sir, for two Sundays; and oh, I do pray for him. Will you pray for him, sir?”
Having previously noticed that this young man had a good voice for singing, I said to him, “Would you like to join the choir? I want living souls to sing there.”
"Oh yes, sir," he said, "I should like that very much -- if you would let me come and practise a little."
My happy jockey friend from this time became a good and efficient help in the choir, and more than that, he was a regular and consistent communicant. While I had the pleasure of ministering to him, he remained an earnest worker for Christ. I have not the least doubt he is still holding on his way. His interesting story and remarkable conversion won for him a ready hearing. He was a bold witness for the Master, and as happy as he was bold.
Come by Mistake
I WAS invited to a great house in a northern county for the purpose of conducting some special services in the area on the Sunday, and also on the following weekdays. When I arrived on Saturday afternoon I was kindly and hospitably received; but for all that, I saw at once that the lady of the house was in perplexity for some reason or other. She said at last, "I do not know what to do. My brother-in-law, Lord ----, and his wife, have just arrived here on a week's visit, instead of next week. The fact is, they have come by mistake. It is very awkward, for I am sure they will not sympathise with our services."
I said, “God can overrule such a mistake, and perhaps they are drawn here by Him. Let us hope so.”
“Oh dear, no,” answered the lady. “I am afraid that is not likely. Her ladyship is intensely worldly, and I fear she might even be rude to you if you introduced religious conversation at the dinner table. She will not go to the services, I am sure, and how am I to get there? Oh, it is such a mistake their coming this week. It seems as if Satan must have sent them to hinder the work. If his lordship had come alone I should not have minded.”
I said, “But do not mind now. Let us together trust the Lord. It will not be the first time that Satan has made a mistake.”
Shortly before dinner her ladyship came into the drawing room, dressed from head to foot no doubt to the satisfaction of her maid, and one would imagine to her own satisfaction also. She was very gracious and polite, and his lordship kind and openhearted.
The dinner “went off very well,” as is commonly said, and the evening also passed pleasantly in general and interesting conversation. The family worship, in the hall with the household, was all that we could wish, and so ended the day. When we were retiring it was announced that the church service the next day would be at eleven o’clock.
“Eleven o’clock?” involuntarily repeated her ladyship; “but is there not an afternoon service too?”
The lady of the house answered in the affirmative, and so we separated for the night.
In the morning his lordship came down to breakfast, and said, “I do not think that my lady will be down in time for church this morning, as she seldom leaves her room before twelve o’clock.”
However, to our surprise, down she came, dressed, and all ready for the walk to church, in good time. The sermon that morning was taken from the text, “Come, for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17). From the pulpit, I said, “The Lord spoke this parable to a man who said, ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.’ This he evidently said in reference to going to heaven hereafter. Like too many, this man was for deferring his goodness to a dying hour, or hoping somehow to get good after death. The Lord seems to teach in this parable that we are invited to a heaven now. ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ You cannot have heaven hereafter if you do not have it now. Those who make excuses do themselves no good. And besides this, they make the Master angry. He says of all such, they shall not even taste of My supper.”
The lady of the house and her husband were much disturbed all through the sermon, for they thought it was far too plain and pointed, and that their visitors would never stand such preaching.
Imagine our surprise when her ladyship said, coming out of church, “There, Ned,” speaking to her husband, “that is what I call a sermon. I understood every word of it, and could follow it with interest. It was what I call sensible!”
“You are quite right, my dear,” said his lordship, looking thoughtfully on the ground
“I am glad you liked it too,” said the lady, “for I shall go to church again this afternoon.”
Overhearing this conversation, I could not help stepping back to reassure our trembling host and hostess, and bid them fear not, but go on trusting. They were pleased too with what they heard from their relatives as they walked home, so at luncheon we were all very cheerful.
Again, in the afternoon the same party went to church. There was a great crowd of country people and others also present. That being the case, I spoke warmly and very plainly about the necessity of salvation, and the folly and peril of neglecting it. In the pulpit again, I said I had come, not only to tell them about this great salvation, but to bring them to it. “You are to come to Jesus just as you are, sins and all, and you will find that Christ is ready and willing to pardon and to save you. Will you come this afternoon?”
Several persons remained behind after the sermon and yielded themselves to God. I had to remain with these anxious ones, and having another service in another church later on in the evening, I did not return to the house until after the other guests had gone to bed.
I was somewhat tired on my return, but was much cheered and encouraged to hear that her ladyship, who had been the chief object of our fears, had said that she had had a very profitable day. She professed to have been much pleased, and edified also.
I did not quite know what to make of this, or how to take it. When worldly people are pleased with the Gospel, instead of being angry, what is it? His lordship was more satisfactory, to my mind at least, for he was quiet and thoughtful. Evidently he was under conviction, and so was his brother, the head of the house.
In the morning her ladyship came down to breakfast, and was also present at family prayer in the hall. But alas, when the letter bag was opened there was a summons in it to call the great people to London at once.
Now there was a stir in the house and it was decided, after somewhat lengthened conversation, that her ladyship should return alone, as her husband particularly wished to remain a few days longer.
Before her departure she shook hands very heartily with me, and said, “You have done me much good. I hope you will not fail to come and see us when you are in London.”
The meetings went on day by day, with more or less blessing, until one evening when his lordship and brother remained for the after-meeting.
Country people require very plain and direct speaking to, particularly those who have had many invitations and are still wavering. Therefore I urged them, with all the solemnity I could, to decide for Christ. I said, “Suppose there is a wall, and that damnation is one side of it and salvation the other, and you are brought to the threshold of the door which leads to salvation. What have you to do, but take that one step? To be so near salvation, and yet to lose it, would indeed be most dreadful. Who is willing to cross the line and accept salvation tonight?”
“I will,” said a voice; “I will,” said another; “So will I,” said his lordship. His brother followed with, “I will,” and a few others besides.
I continued, “God cannot fix our choice until we make it; and when we have made it how can we expect Him to do otherwise than welcome all who come?” We then sang together…
‘“Tis done, the great transaction’s done,
I am my Lord’s, and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice Divine.”
We returned home that night with hearts filled with rejoicing, and sat up till a late hour, talking happily together of the things of God.
I said to the lady of the house, “What do you think now, about your visitors who ‘came by mistake’?”
“Well,” said his lordship when he had learned of the situation, “the mistake arose by my writing 21st instead of 14th. We intended and planned to come, as we did, on the 14th.” He added, “It was a very happy mistake, however it came about.”
It turned out really that the mistake was, after all, on the part of the lady who had invited us, she having written me to come the same date as her other visitors.
“Very well,” said the lady, “I am quite willing to take the blame, and I rejoice in it too.”
Some months afterwards I called to see his lordship in London, and found him gravely ill. “Thank God,” he said, “I know now where to go with my troubles, or what should I do in this hour of trial?”
A little later on I was sent for to see him again. This time his lordship was on his deathbed. He said, “I cannot help thinking what would become of me now, if I could not trust the Lord.” He added, “I am so happy, and my dear wife also can trust the Lord in her present trouble.”
The Old General
ON one occasion I observed a fine-looking military man, though he wore no uniform. However, his demeanour and bearing showed his calling plainly enough. He was marching out of church as cool as probably he was on the battlefield.
“Who was that fine-looking man?” I inquired afterwards.
"He is General ----, from India," replied my friend, with a smile.
“Why do you smile?” I asked.
My friend answered, “Why, you admire him more than he admires you. He was asking me who in the world you were, and remarked that he came to church to hear about Christ, but that you seemed to know and talk more about the devil. He says he has heard enough from you, and will wait until you are gone before he comes to the church again. I expect you have hit him rather hard.”
“I hope so,” I said. ‘“He that winneth souls is wise.’ I was led to expose a few of the devices of the devil this morning, that some of my hearers might be made aware of him.”
However, to my relief, in the evening I saw the same erect figure striding into church, and to my great pleasure as well as surprise, he remained to the after-meeting.
As soon as I had given instruction collectively to those who remained behind from the first congregation, I went down to speak to individuals who were still waiting. As the General did not move from his place, I took him in his turn. When I came up to him I asked the usual question, “Are you saved? Or can I do anything to help you?”
“Why, sir,” he answered, “I have been a champion for the truth for years, but you make out that I am standing outside the door, and looking through. What is more, you say the devil is sure to have me.”
Inwardly thanking God, I sat down by his side and asked him the question, “What makes you think you are outside, and not inside the door?”
“Sir,” he replied, “I never in my life thought or even heard of such a thing as crossing the threshold. You say there is a wall, and that all those inside that wall are saved. How are we to know who is inside?”
I replied, “When you are outside you knock and pray for admission. When you are inside you do not do that, but thankfully accept your position as safe.”
“Then you mean to say that if I am knocking for admission, I am still in the enemy’s power and entangled in his net?”
I hesitated for a moment, for I wanted to tell him that God had opened his eyes to see things so clearly, that I was sure he was not far from the kingdom.
Observing my hesitation, the General said, “I see you do not mean the same thing out of the pulpit that you so bravely preach while you are in it. Some of your people, when they are up in ‘Coward’s Castle’, utter things they are afraid to say to our faces. Do you mean me to understand that you are saved, and that you have crossed the threshold yourself?”
I replied, “Yes, I do indeed mean to say that, and I do mean out of the pulpit every word that I declare in it. More than that, I know by experience about those nets of the devil, and I also know how the Lord can and does deliver from them.”
“Then,” said the General, “you are my man. Let me talk freely with you.”
I said, “I am under promise to speak to two or three persons who are now waiting. Will you let me go to them first? In the meantime, please think over some definite questions or points for consideration.”
When I returned to him, he said, “I am obliged to go now. Besides, I have more questions to ask than I care to detain you with tonight. But will you call on me in the morning?”
I willingly agreed to do this, but before parting I said, “I cannot help telling you that there is only one step between you and salvation, and no one can take that step for you. You must take it for yourself. Do it like a man tonight, and we will go into your difficulties, please God, tomorrow morning if needful. Now, just a short prayer before you go.”
The General knelt down, and I did the same. He was greatly moved during my prayer, and then rising from his knees he thanked me with much emotion, exclaiming, “God bless you!”
“Yes,” I said, “thank you, and may He bless me to your soul’s good.”
The gallant man turned away his face, but he pressed my hand. Having given me his card, he went away.
The next morning I called, according to promise, punctually at ten o’clock. “Come in,” said the General. “I like punctuality.” He looked so much brighter than the previous evening, that I was not surprised when he said, “I have taken the one step which you told me no one else could take for me. Now, instead of asking, I am thanking. I am inside the wall. I thank God, and you too.”
What a marvellous change twenty-four hours had made in that man! He said to me, “I used to be a thoughtless, worldly man in India, but when the cholera broke out with great virulence, and I saw strong men seized in the morning and dead at night, I was moved with fear. It was awful, I can tell you, and dreadful to see the way in which they died. It made me think and pray as well. I then and there determined to live a better life, and I have ever since persevered in doing that to the best of my ability. I commenced at once reading religious books, and was amazed at my ignorance, and how much there was to be said and written on these subjects.
"I soon became aware that I was a marked man, and that my fellow officers meant me, when they pointed fun at religious people -- what they called 'the psalm-singing lot'. These men were not so bold during the cholera time, I assure you. I told them this, and told them also that I was not ashamed of being a Christian. I was enabled not only to stand against them and their fun, but was compelled to be aggressive. The more I read the Bible, the better I understood the way of salvation -- or at least I thought so. I used to talk freely of what I saw in God's Word, and what I knew to be true. I suppose this is what you call looking through the door which was made for me to go through.
“When you described ‘doing your best’ as a denial of the finished work of Christ who has done all, that was a severe blow to me. When you added, ‘That is one of the devil’s nets by which people are kept outside the door of salvation,’ I was astonished beyond measure; though, to tell the truth, I had not been satisfied with my work. I felt all along that there was something wanting, though I was accounted such a saint. I wished to feel more than I did, and to realise what I stood up for.”
I said, “Now you understand how this waiting to feel is another of the devil’s nets. How can you feel saved until you are saved -- or feel inside the door until you are there?”
“I pacified my mind,” said the General, “by hoping that all would come right somehow or some time.”
“This hoping to be saved is also one of the devil’s nets. People do not hope for a thing they already have.”
“Yes,” said the General, “I understand it now, but I must confess I was immensely disgusted with you when you said that this kind of hope was the devil’s hope.”
I said, “Satan uses such devices as these for keeping back souls whom the Holy Spirit has made anxious, and has brought even to the door of salvation.”
“I cannot tell,” said the General, “how I reached home after that morning discourse of yours, it upset me so thoroughly. I found some relief, however, in abusing you and saying I would never hear you again.”
“I am obliged to you, General,” I said, “for this insight into the other side. I see and feel my side of the story, and often wonder what people can be made of, who remain so cool and untouched by God’s Word. I am encouraged by what you tell me, to hope that more good is done by the preaching of the truth than we are aware of at the time. I observed you marching out of church, and must confess the thought crossed my mind: ‘That fine man has not felt very much,’ whereas it appears that you were riddled through and through with the shots of Divine truth.
“Now, dear friend, let me advise you to make a note of these thoughts and experiences of yours. You will meet with many who are looking through the door, who are doing their best, who are waiting to feel, and who are hoping they shall be saved some time; and you will know how to deal with such. Remember, the whole world is outside the door of salvation until they step over the threshold to enter inside. Never trifle with souls. It is far better to say that a saint is not saved, than to say a sinner is. You can do no harm to the former, and may flatter the other into hell. This is what the devil is ever doing, with saints and sinners.”
The General became an out-and-out Christian soldier. Among his other badges of honour he had this degree to his name -- OAO -- Out and Out. Moreover, he was happy in his home besides, for his wife, son, and daughter were all on the Lord's side. A man cannot work happily abroad if those at home are not in sympathy with him.
ONE Sunday morning when it was raining hard, and consequently the pews were emptier than usual, there came into church two strangers who were duly shown into one of the vacant pews in front of the pulpit. They were distinguished looking people. The gentleman was dark, with raven black hair, and his lady was as fair as he was dark.
Evidently they were stranded by the accident of the weather, and being unable to get to their usual place of worship had turned in at the first open door they could find. They attracted considerable attention, not from any eccentricity or peculiar behaviour on their part, but from their remarkable appearance. Indeed, they were reverent and attentive throughout the service. When the text was given out they retired each to a corner of the pew, and then settled themselves as if to endure the sermon.
My subject was taken from the twelfth chapter of Luke: “A man’s life doth not consist in the abundance of the things he possesseth.” I said, “Neither does it consist in the use we make of our abundance, but in the use we make of it for God. We really possess nothing as absolute owners. Our possessions are God’s gift, or rather loan to us, to be used for Him, and we shall have to give an account of them hereafter.”
The couple opened their eyes and looked at one another, then looked up at the pulpit. They afterwards told me that they were accustomed to sermons which put subjects before them for their consideration or otherwise, as they were disposed; but this one came straight at them as if it was intended for them alone. What was more, I later learnt that it was on a verse about which they had been speaking together at breakfast in the morning.
As the sermon went on, the lady took a paper or letter out of her pocket, the gentleman handed her a pencil case, and she began taking notes forthwith, looking at her husband every now and then. If they had been within reach, no doubt they would have nudged one another, as some people do.
I continued, “What ingratitude and denial of God it is for anyone to speak of my goods, my barns, where shall I bestow my goods? How shall I enlarge my barns? The poor deluded man we read of in this Gospel was only thinking of himself, and his own advancement and progress in wealth. He did not acknowledge or thank God, from whom his abundance had come.”
With illustrations and stories the lesson was sent home, or at least the intention was to do so, that men might be led to remember their Creator -- and more than that, their Redeemer who loved them.
The couple remained on their knees in silence after the sermon, and then rose up and sat in their pew till I passed by. It was clear from their looks that they desired to speak to me, so leaning over the pew I addressed them kindly.
The gentleman said, “We have been remarking that it was very strange you should have taken the text you did this morning, and that we should have been here. We set out to go to another church. How did you come to choose that subject?”
I said, “I suppose the Lord chose it; and besides, it comes in the lesson for the day. Why do you ask?”
The gentleman replied, “We were speaking about that very text this morning, and wondered what it could mean. And here you bring it forward and apply it, as if you meant us. It never came to my mind to deny God, but I see plainly enough that we are living as if there was no God at all. We just live from day to day to take our pleasure and enjoy ourselves, and study our health, of course.”
I said, “Will you allow me to call upon you this afternoon, as I have people waiting in the vestry to see me at this time?”
The gentleman assented, and handing me his card he left the church.
In the afternoon I did not fail to call and see these new friends. I found that the lady was titled, and the gentleman was the younger son of a marquess. They had no family, and were living, as the gentleman had said, for themselves and their own pleasure. He was a Member of Parliament, often detained late in the House night after night, and his wife also spent much of her time in the Ladies’ Gallery of the House, taking as much interest in the proceedings of Parliament as her husband.
They received me kindly, and spoke out frankly enough. “Do you mean to say that we are going to hell in living as we do?” asked the gentleman.
“Yes,” I replied; “the Scripture says, ‘The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God.’”
“Dear me,” he exclaimed, “that’s a thing to know! No one has even hinted such a thing as that to us before. We never do any harm to anyone. We wish to be left to ourselves, and we leave other people to themselves. We are very happy and content together,”
I said, “Then you have the more reason to thank God and acknowledge His kindness to you. You should not live as if you were your own, and your possessions your own. God created you, and has redeemed you for Himself with no less a price than the blood of Jesus.”
“To tell the truth,” said the gentleman, “I do believe there is a God, but I have no idea of Him as a person. He is to me a kind of abstract being, no one knows where, and sometimes I have my doubts about the things He does. What are we to do? If we cannot help ourselves, we are obliged to submit, you know.”
I replied, “I am glad that you acknowledge there is a God. Now dare to believe that He knows you and loves you both, and longs for you to be acquainted with Him. He so loves you that He gave His Son to die in your place, that if you believe in Him you should not perish but have everlasting life. Just think, He loves and cares for you, and He has given you your position and possessions, and yet you do not know Him. The Son of God so loves you that He willingly shed His blood to wash away your sins, and yet you do not thank Him.”
It was as much news to that couple, put in this way, as if they had been Muslims, as the gentleman put it. The anxious look with which they regarded me while I was speaking proved to my mind that they were not resisting God, or even disposed to do so. It appeared they were willing to receive the Word, and they did receive it. They were both of one heart and one mind in the matter, and both very thankful to hear this definite teaching.
It seemed as if the Lord had opened their hearts to take in the word spoken. I had prayer and thanksgiving with them, and then took my departure. So easy was their transition from death into life that I could not help doubting the reality of their change. However, I had reason subsequently to be condemned for so doubting.
As time passed on, and I had more communication with my friends, I found evident tokens of grace in them. While hundreds of others who had long known the way of salvation were disputing and backsliding, these two went steadily forward, growing in knowledge and in obedience to the Word. Their home was happy before, but it had been empty compared with what it was now. They went to many houses such as theirs had been, and told their story with more or less success.
The gentleman’s father was dying, and his butler who was a Christian had tried more than once to speak a word to lead his master to Jesus; but now there came the nobleman’s son and daughter-in-law with bright faces to confirm the good news. They had the joy of bringing their dying father to Jesus. Besides him, they were blessed to others of their kindred.
That couple were noticed for their regularity at the services, and their joy and sympathy in and with the work of the Lord.
The Dinner Dress
"WE cannot get our rich folks out to church on the weekday evenings," said the Vicar. "They dine late, you know. They come on Sunday sometimes, and let their servants come; but dinner is such an important business for them -- it must not be interrupted."
“Excepting,” I added, “by sickness or death, I suppose.”
However, the following day I had occasion to speak to the point, and in my address mentioned the Vicar’s regret that the wealthier part of his parish were losing a benefit which their poorer brethren were receiving. This remark happened to be the topic of conversation at more than one dinner table that evening. One result is worth telling.
That same evening I saw, sitting in a particular place in church, a young lady in a blue and white silk dress. It was evidently a ball or dinner dress, not such a one as people usually wear to church or to an after-meeting. I looked at her and walked by her, and round her, but did not venture to speak. There was an elderly lady sitting close by, watching over three other young ladies who as far as I could judge seemed to be much impressed. She was a kind of dragon over them, and kept her eyes fixed on me so that I should not speak to them, and I thought I must not dare to approach the other. However, as I had much else to do, and many to speak to in that after-meeting, I left them for the present.
The next evening this mysterious young lady was in the same place, and wore exactly the same dress. She was on her knees, with her face buried in her hands. I did venture near her this time, and said softly, “Can I help you?” She never moved or spoke, so I left her, walking by as often as I could to help her if she needed help.
The next evening she was there again, in the same dress and in the same place. I thought to myself, “There must be some meaning in this. Here is a lady who has evidently come away from the dinner table in her dinner dress. Surely she must be in earnest, and wanting something.”
Approaching her, I said, “I have observed you here for the last three evenings, in the same place. What can I do for you?”
She did not speak, but as I remained by her either repeating texts or saying a few words, she suddenly lifted up her head and said, “May I call and see you tomorrow morning at eleven o’clock?”
“Yes, certainly,” I replied. “I shall be free then, and very pleased to see you.”
At eleven, a carriage drew up and the same young lady stepped out and came into the library. She sat down, but was as silent as before. I said, “Tell me, have you given your heart to God?”
“I do not know what you mean,” she answered, in a perplexed way.
“If the Lord Jesus stood before you here, and said, ‘Give me your heart, my child,’ would you say, ‘Take it, Lord?”
“No,” she said; “I should be afraid to do so.”
"What, be afraid of Him, would you, who died to save you -- afraid of putting yourself under His care, and not afraid of being under the power of Satan, without His care?"
“These things are all new to me. I do not know what to do,” she said, with a look of perplexity.
I answered, "You should understand that we are all under the power of Satan, who is the god of this world, until we dare, in spite of him, to give ourselves to Christ. Satan blinds the minds of those who do not believe in Jesus, and he will keep you blinded and perplexed too if he can. Just picture to yourself the Lord Jesus standing before you now, and saying, 'Give me your heart, my child,' and speak to Him yourself. Come; let us kneel before Him -- He is here."
I knelt down, and she did the same. Then I said, “Lord, speak plainly to this child. Make her to hear Thy voice and invitation. Thou lovest her, and didst die for her salvation, and Thou didst rise again victorious over every power that would keep her from Thee.”
She said, “Lord, take my heart.”
“Thank God!” I responded. “I am witness that you have given your heart. Now I want you to believe that Christ does not ask for our hearts to mock us, but rather in order, with our consent, to take the heart so proffered. As surely as you know you have given your heart, more surely believe that He has taken it. He is more willing to take than you are to give.”
As she remained silent, evidently trying to feel something, I said, “Now ask Him to give you His Holy Spirit, and He will teach you how to pray and what to pray for.”
She did not speak, but I took it for granted that she was not resisting. So it proved, as I was made to know afterwards. At that time she did ask for the Spirit, and the Spirit helped her to pray, though it was in silence.
It is invariably better to give voice to prayer under such circumstances; but if people will go a roundabout way, they have to take the consequences. This young lady remained for a long time on her knees, and seemed unwilling to rise. I ventured to suggest that she should say, "Glory be to God -- Jesus died for me."
“Oh, I dare not say that,” she said, with a kind of start. “No, I cannot be a hypocrite.”
“But,” I said, “you are daring to do worse than that. You are doubting the love and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not die for angels, but for sinners. When you say those words, you acknowledge yourself a sinner for whom Christ died, and thank Him also.”
“Well, I do not know what to do,” she said, again burying her face in her hands.
I replied, “Give glory to God for His love in giving Jesus to die for you. Do not worry, but trust. You are bewildering yourself, and allowing Satan to get advantage over you. There is nothing more to be done. Supposing you owed a debt, and I came to tell you your debt was paid. You would not be anxious any more, excepting to acknowledge your obligation to your benefactor.”
“Oh, I see what you mean,” she exclaimed, with a look of surprise. “Why did I not see this before?”
“Perhaps you did not look,” I said. “Your eyes were open enough to see other things. Never mind that now, but give glory to God, and never be afraid to make known what the Lord has done for you.”
It was wonderful how frank and open this young lady became, who had hitherto been so mysteriously silent.
She said, “My father came to church with me the first night. Did you not see him?”
“How am I to know your father?” I asked.
“Oh, I thought you knew us. He went away very happy from your meeting, but he has been a Christian for a long time. I was the only one in our family who was resisting and wayward. When I heard him say at the dinner table that he would go to church, I said I would go with him. It was rather late, so I came just as I was, without changing my dress. The next time, I sat in the same place and wore the same things, so that you might notice and speak to me.”
"What mysterious people you are," I said. "However, all is well that ends well. Mind now, you begin to work for the Lord. Ever remember that you are not saved to die and go to heaven, but to live and give glory to God -- in your life, as well as your words."
This is what our friend has done for many years, and she is not yet weary in well-doing.
“Endorse the Cheque.”
A WORLDLY gentleman was once awakened under a rousing sermon. He began to think about eternal realities and about his soul’s condition. The more he thought, the more he was convinced that his life was most unsatisfactory.
He made up his mind that he would seek for salvation, and give up his past bad ways. Like many others, he fell into the common mistake of turning over a new leaf -- that is to say, he determined to cover up the past by leading a better life in the future. He thought that by so doing, he would succeed in his search after salvation.
In this new enterprise he was not altogether without encouragement. Being naturally a determined man, he went about his work with energy and earnestness. He made bold also to let everybody know what he had made up his mind to do, and to be.
He put himself under rule, and kept to it. He rose early, read his Bible for so long, and made prayer until such an hour. Thus far, to outward appearance at least, he did well; but inwardly, before God, he was not doing well. He was doing all these things to save himself, but denying that Christ had already done everything necessary for his salvation. In trying to obtain God’s favour, he was practically denying that Christ had done that already.
However, he did not intend to make this mistake, nor was he wilfully sinning against light. Consequently, God not only bore with him, but encouraged him by many tokens of His favour and blessing. Passages of Scripture were sometimes applied to his mind, and at others, prayers were suggested which he had never thought of.
Gradually his eyes were opened to see that if he had gone on in his former neglectful and wicked life, he would have been lost for ever. Nevertheless, his religious life and exercises, instead of satisfying him, made him feel more and more that something was still wanting.
He had heard of people who professed to be saved, but he could not say that he had arrived at that happy state. For this blessing he began to pray in right earnest. Not receiving the answer he desired he became discouraged.
He went on in this way for three years until he was nearly driven to despair. Humanly speaking he would have gone into despair. He talked of giving up prayer and letting himself go. But he could not do this. The enemy suggested to him that he was not one of the elect, and therefore God could not save him. This made him somewhat angry with God for inviting people, as he said, and then not receiving them.
Then the thought came to his mind that he was doomed to be damned -- that there was no help for him. Sometimes he even ventured to say as much as this about himself, though he could not bear the thought that anyone else should say it of him.
At length he came to me “By the merest chance,” as he afterwards affirmed. “Indeed, it was quite an accident!”
However, he opened his mind freely and told me in substance what I have already stated. I asked him whether he expected to be pardoned or saved because he prayed.
“Yes, certainly,” he answered, “I have been so expecting.”
"If that is the case," I replied, "it may be the reason why you have not received pardon. God commands believers -- that is, His own people -- to pray to Him. He assures them of answers, but those who are not yet His, He requires them to come to Him, not as praying men to recommend themselves as such, but as lost sinners for whom Christ died. Christ died for sinners. You should come to Him in that character."
“Yes,” he said, “I do pray as a sinner.”
“But, my friend, did you not tell me just now that you had been expecting pardon because you prayed, not because you were a sinner?”
He could not quite see my meaning.
I continued, “Supposing that you were in financial distress, and you received a money draft or order in your name for one hundred pounds to set you free from your trouble. What would you do?”
“I would go and get the order cashed, of course.”
“But suppose, when you presented your order or cheque at the bank, the clerks refused to give you a single penny. What then?”
“I should be disappointed,” he said, “and perhaps angry. I might inquire, ‘Is not the signature genuine? Has the gentleman no money in your bank?’”
“And suppose the reply was, ‘Yes, the signature is good, and there is plenty of money, but the cheque is not endorsed!’ You observe the cheque is made to your order, but you have not signed your name. That cheque is worthless until you acknowledge with your own signature that you are the person to whom and for whom the draft was made.”
“Oh,” he said, as if waking up with a new thought, “I see now where you are. You mean that I must acknowledge myself a lost sinner, and come to God as such. I am obliged to you, for this makes the matter quite clear to me. I see that God is not to blame after all, but my own self.”
I said, “It is so. Let us then ask Him to forgive your past fault.”
He was ready and willing to do this, and asked God’s forgiveness for all the hard and unjust thoughts he had indulged towards Him. He came not only as a lost sinner, but as a sinner believing in Jesus’ great sacrifice, and soon found peace with God.
For more than three years this dear man had been struggling and labouring in vain under a mistake. But now that his understanding was enlightened and he was willing to accept the finished work of Christ, he soon entered into joy and rest. He came to me a despairing soul, and went out a pardoned sinner.
It is surprising how near some people are to salvation, and yet they do not reach it. They seek it earnestly, yet do not obtain it. Why is this? Because they seek amiss and not according to God's will. If salvation is provided and ready for the helpless, it is obvious that we should come to the Lord in that character, and that alone. Our helplessness is our qualification, so to speak, for receiving blessing, not for being debarred from it. The excuses people make for not being saved are the very reasons why they should be -- if they only knew it.
I Have Good News for You
SOME years ago there lived in an old Abbey House in the country a colonel and his wife. They had no family, but in the place of children they were surrounded with dogs and horses, and occasionally with company staying at the house.
These two lived as if there was no eternity, and as if the pleasures of this world were all that they need care for. They were happy in their way, and appeared to have neither care nor anxiety of any kind to trouble them. God had provided them with abundance of everything, but they made no acknowledgement of His providence. They had no family prayer for the household, nor did they even give thanks for their table.
Literally, God was not in their thoughts at all. Certainly they went to their parish church on Sunday morning, if the weather was fine enough, and came back as they went. It was all very well for them that there were occasional evangelistic services held in the town hall, and other places.
One day there was an announcement in the newspaper that Mr B---- would give a Gospel address in the hall of a neighbouring town. The colonel said, "I used to know that man once."
“Yes” said his lady, “so did I. I have danced with him very often. I should like to go and hear him preach.”
Away they went, and found the hall pretty well filled with country as well as town people. It was a somewhat novel kind of service they thought, but very interesting, and the singing was hearty.
The colonel and his wife did not venture to renew the acquaintance of their old friend, but speedily arranged to return home. Evidently they had heard enough, and so betook themselves to their carriage and drove home in silence.
When they met in the drawing room before dinner, the colonel said, “I have good news for you, my dear,” and before he could finish his speech, the wife began a similar speech. She had good news for her husband.
“Henceforth I am the Lord’s,” said the Colonel.
“So am I,” added his wife. “That address has quite decided me.”
It was so. These two worldly persons had a great deal to learn, but they had heard enough to decide them to give up useless lives they had been leading.
That evening, the time after dinner was spent in a novel manner for them -- it was in reading together the New Testament.
"What chapter was it that Mr B---- recommended us to look over?" asked the colonel. "Was it not the third chapter of Saint John? Let us turn to that."
“Yes,” answered his wife, “and he told us to read the concluding verses of the preceding chapter as well.”
They read the portions of Scripture, which might as well have been in Greek for all these benighted people understood. They were as far off as ever.
The wife, however, drew her husband’s attention to the third verse. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“Observe,” she said, “there are three things here: born again, see, and the kingdom of God.”
“Well, yes,” said the Colonel, looking anxious, “but what are they? What is it to be born again?”
“Why,” answered his wife, “I was taught that being born again was being baptized.”
“Yes,” was the Colonel’s reply; “I have heard that too, and I have been baptized, but I do not see anything yet. What is this kingdom of God? It is hard lines to be shut out of heaven for not being born again. What in the world is it?”
Being unable to help one another, they at last gave it up in despair and shut the book.
Presently they began to talk to people who had been at the meeting in the afternoon. “How they listened, did they not?”
“Happy thought,” suddenly exclaimed the Colonel, striking his knee with his hand. “I will send for Dick, the blacksmith. He knows about this new birth.”
The thought had scarcely come to his mind before the Colonel had despatched his servant in search of the man in question. He soon returned, bringing the blacksmith with him.
The man was ushered into their presence at once. “Now, Dick,” asked the Colonel, looking at him, “are you born again?”
“Yes, bless the Lord,” replied the blacksmith, “that I am, sure enough.”
“What is it,” enquired the colonel eagerly.
“Well,” answered the man, “I be glad to hear you ask about this, but how can I tell yer what it is? It’s the new birth, yer know, that’s what it is; and a very blessed thing it is to have yer sins all pardoned, and yer soul saved! That’s what it is.”
“How did you get to know about this?” asked the lady.
“Why, ma’am, I’ll tell yer. It was through Mr. Haslam preaching at the barn yonder that opened my blind eyes. He told me I was a-going to hell, and I saw it plain enough. So I cried to the Lord to have mercy on my soul, and He just did it. Yer know, that’s how it was. I tell yer what,” he continued, “Mr. Haslam is a-coming tomorrow evening to preach. Now do yer come and hear the gentleman.”
After a little further conversation the Colonel dismissed the blacksmith, and he and his wife determined to go to the barn meeting the next evening.
Not knowing anything that had passed, I came to the appointed service and was led to dwell on the necessity of new birth. I remarked, “As we cannot see natural things without a natural birth into this world, in like manner we cannot see spiritual things without spiritual birth. At this new birth we are endowed with spiritual faculties, without which we are not fit for God’s presence, either here or hereafter.”
The Colonel and his wife made arrangements that I was to sleep at the Abbey that night. Accordingly, they brought me home with them and we sat long into the night talking of spiritual things.
They told me all that had passed the day before. It was easy to discern how the Lord had already laid hold of these two and made them willing. Their eyes were opened to see the danger, and now all that they needed was to be brought from the darkness of ignorance into the light of salvation -- from the power and devices of Satan to God, to receive forgiveness of their sins.
We went to prayer, and after I had prayed, the Colonel spoke out his mind and burden to the Lord in earnest supplication; and with many tears his wife did the same. All I had to say now was to assure them that all was done and finished by Christ upon the cross.
“Have we nothing to do?” inquired the Colonel.
“No,” I said, “you have nothing to do for your salvation, but to accept it. It is God’s gift to you for Christ’s sake.”
After this, it was a joy to see these two new-born souls hungering and thirsting to know more of the Word of God. The simplicity of their questions, and the earnestness of their devotion, was most cheering. They came straight from the world to their Bibles, and helped each other greatly in the study of the word, and they were not behind in their testimony to their worldly friends.
THE first time I preached at Liverpool I took for my subject the necessity of accepting salvation at once. Like the man we read of in Saint Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14:16), too many persons dream of the blessedness of eating bread in the kingdom of God hereafter.
This man was evidently thinking of a blessedness in the future, either in this world or the next. The Lord’s answer, however, set the matter more clearly before him. He said, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready” (verses 17-18). These persons bidden had already heard of the supper and had been invited. No doubt it was their intention to accept the invitation at some convenient season; but when at last it was definitely given for a set time, “they all with one consent began to make excuse.”
Whatever these excuses were, whether good, bad, or indifferent, they amounted to a refusal. Those who made them incurred the anger of the Master. So much so that He said to His servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. For I say unto you, that none of those which were bidden shall taste of My supper” (verses 21-24).
This is a common danger, and it is a solemn one. I felt it, and therefore could not help lifting up my voice on the subject.
In all our Evangelistic services there are people who have heard the Gospel over and over again, and sometimes they have felt its power -- but they have not yielded themselves. This is a very bad habit to get into, and one not easily relinquished.
I had been pointing out not only the danger of excusing one’s self, but also urging the great advantage of closing at once with so desirable an invitation.
After the address, a good number of the congregation waited behind for an after-meeting, and some were persuaded to fall in with God’s plan of salvation.
We had a happy closing, and were just on the point of leaving the hall when my attention was directed to a gentleman sitting in the gallery. Observing that I was looking towards him, he beckoned me to come up. I immediately made my way to the place where he was and asked what I could do for him.
He said, “Sir, I have been under conviction several times before tonight, but it has always passed off. Now I am under conviction again. You said, sir, that I need not leave this hall until I was saved. I am determined this shall be done. I will yield myself to God tonight, yes, tonight.”
“That is well,” I replied. “I am thankful to hear that you have come to this decision. You know there is a great difference between a promise and an offer. If God promised to save you, it would be His fault if He did not do so. But if He offers to save you, as He does now, then it is your fault if you are not saved.”
He said, “I do not quite understand you.”
I explained, “Suppose I promise to give you this book, and that I fail to do so, either from forgetfulness or any other cause. It would therefore be my fault if you did not have it. But if I offer it to you now, and you do not take it, the fault is yours.
“When we preach the Gospel, we are sent by God to offer you salvation at once. We bring you a gift from God for your acceptance. We do not preach (or rather should not) merely to indoctrinate you, or to inform you merely of the way of salvation, but urge on you to close with a present offer.”
“Yes, yes, I see,” exclaimed the gentleman. “I have never thought of it like that. I have often heard the Gospel, and desires have sprung up in my heart; but it may be from not bringing my mind to bear on the subject that the impressions have all passed off. I am determined, sir, it shall not be so now, even if I have to stay here all night.”
“Very good,” I said, “and I will stay with you.” So saying, I sat down by his side.
After a short pause, I inquired, “What shall we do now?”
“Indeed, sir,” he replied, “I do not know.”
“Oh then, if that is the case, we maybe here for six months instead of all night. Shall we pray?”
“Yes, sir, do.”
“What shall we pray for?”
This he did not know, for he had not yet thought about it.
I said, “You ought to know what you want. If God is offering you salvation. If I were you I would acknowledge His undeserved kindness, and accept it.”
“Yes,” he said, “that seems clear enough; but how can I?”
I replied, “Would you have Christ come down from heaven and die all over again for you?”
“Oh dear no, certainly not.”
“What then? Do you believe that He did come and die for you?”
“Yes, certainly I believe that,” he answered, “but somehow I do not feel any the better for it.”
“You know,” I said, “there are many people who profess to believe that God has given them a gift, and yet they go on asking for it as if it had not been given.”
“That is just like myself. That is what I do.”
“Well,” I replied, “I think that you should ask God to enable you to believe in Him, and at least in the meantime you ought to thank Him for what He has done for you. While you are asking for a thing, you cannot feel you have it; but when you are thanking, it may be possible for you to realise that it is yours. Let us thank God for sending His Son to die for you, and sending the Holy Spirit to strive with you. You have much reason for thankfulness, and thanksgiving too.”
“I am willing,” said the gentleman, “to do all you tell me.”
“Willingness will not do,” I answered, “if you do not do the thing.”
He did so, and the usual result followed, to his surprise and great joy.
Now we were ready to come down from the gallery, and in doing so we met the man who was putting out the gas.
“Here, here,” said my friend to the man, “come here. I will pay for the gas, and the hall too. How much will it be?”
He gladly gave the money, and went away with many expressions of gratitude.
Presently he came running back to ask whether there would be a service next day. On being answered in the affirmative, he said, “I claim the privilege of paying the expense of the hall. I will come tomorrow and bring some friends with me.”
This was the beginning of a useful life of service for the Lord. Henceforth, instead of wasting his time in wishing and intending, here was a man pouring out himself for the glory of God and the good of souls.
This is the great banqueting feast to which we are invited. It is not only to receive salvation ourselves, but to be the channels of blessing to others.
“I Cannot Feel It.”
IT ought to be written in conspicuous letters and words everywhere: first, Faith; second, Thanksgiving; and third, Feeling. I say it ought to be written everywhere, for in every place I visit I find real earnest and anxious souls who are hindered from obtaining joy and liberty -- because they are waiting for Feeling.
How can we feel a thing until we have it? And how can we have it without taking it? And how can we take it if it is not offered? If salvation is offered to us as a gift, how can we have it without accepting? And how can we help feeling, when we have accepted?
I have in my mind a particular lady who for a long time was in great distress of soul because she could not feel saved.
I told her that I once heard a gentleman say, "Look here, there are three men going along one after another. The first is Mr. Fact. He walks along with a bold, undeniable step, and no one can stand against him. He is a stubborn fellow. Next to him follows Mr. Faith, looking at Mr. Fact with admiration; and next behind him is Mr. Feeling -- he always follows Mr. Faith. But suppose Mr. Faith turns round and looks at Mr. Feeling, where is Mr. Fact? Faith cannot see him at all. That is what you are doing," I said, "looking at Feeling instead of Fact."
No, that illustration failed to convince this lady.
“Well, then,” I continued, “let me tell you another story. It is of a young lady who was very wretched, and looked miserably ill because she could not feel that she was saved. A gentleman who was asked to speak to her said, ‘Pray, Miss, have you come a long way today?’
“‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘more than thirty miles.’
‘“Did you have your breakfast before you started?’
‘“Yes, I breakfasted at seven o’clock.’
‘“Did you feel you had had your breakfast before you took it, or after?’
“The lady looked at me as if to know what to do, and whether she ought to answer such a question.
‘“Oh certainly,’ I said, ‘reply to that inquiry. It is a very good one for you. Come, answer it freely.’
“She said, ‘Why, of course I felt I had had my breakfast after I took it.’
‘“Yes, exactly so. That is the answer I wanted; and so you must take salvation first, and then you will feel you have it’
“She began to cry, and said, ‘I cannot take it.’
‘“Because I do not feel.’
'"Certainly you cannot feel before you take it. Here is salvation provided for you, because you are a sinner. I mean you -- yourself. You would not be so anxious if the Holy Spirit were not striving with you. It is for you -- take it'
‘“How can I take it?’ she inquired, in a bewildered way.
‘“Why, by thanking God for it. That is the usual manner of accepting a gift. Thank Him.’
“‘What, before I feel it?’
‘“Yes, assuredly; for you do not thank God for your feelings, but for His gift. Thank Him for that.’
‘“Oh, I never understood that,’ she said. ‘Lord, I do thank Thee for Thy great love in giving Thy Son to die for me.’
“Once in that attitude, she went on thanking God until she obtained joy and peace in believing; not believing in joy and peace, but having joy and peace in believing on the Lord. She is now walking in the light.”
None of these arguments or illustrations appeared to touch my friend. She seemed determined as ever to wait for feelings. After a while, I said, “I cannot spend more time with you now, but suppose I call upon you tomorrow?”
“Oh do, sir, if you please,” she replied. “I will answer the door for you myself. What time will you come?”
“If I am with you by two o’clock, will that do?”
“Yes, that will be a very convenient time, and I will be on the lookout for you.”
“Suppose,” I added, “that when I come and knock at your door, and you open it, I still remain outside and say, ‘I cannot feel I am inside yet, let me have the knocker again.’ You say, ‘Come in,’ but I continue to repeat, ‘I cannot yet feel I am inside, I must knock again,’ and accordingly I begin again to knock at the open door before your face. What would you think of me then? I expect you would conclude that I was demented, or something else, would you not? Do you not see that God has put an open door before you, and that He has been pressing you to come in? But you persist in saying you cannot come in until you feel you are inside. How can you expect to feel you are inside, while you determine to remain outside?”
“Oh, what shall I do?” she exclaimed. “I am nearly driven to despair!”
“I cannot wonder at that,” I said. “I do not know how you have held out so long. Make up your mind at once to give up this waiting for feeling, and thank God for His great love in giving His Son for you, and thank the Lord Jesus for laying down His life to save yours. If you do this, I promise you will find it true that feeling comes after thanksgiving. In any case, I would advise you to go on thanking God, even in the dark. You may, perhaps, have to do that now, after all your hardness and perverseness.”
We knelt down in prayer, saying, “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief. Lord, increase my faith, and help me to praise Thee. O my soul, praise God, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!” and so on.
It is surprising what an effect articulation of such words has on the heart. This lady, hitherto so hard and cold, began to be in earnest, as if she really did feel something. In any case, she did not thank God long for His goodness, before warmth and animation came to her soul. She passed through the open door, thanking God. From the knocking side of the door where she had been for months, she came to the thanking side, and soon felt herself to be safe.
It is surprising how persistent Satan is with this device of waiting to feel. Whether it is his work or that of the old Adam-nature within us, I cannot say, but there is no doubt that it is a very serious hindrance and trouble to many anxious souls. The very fact of their being anxious is of itself cause enough to encourage them to praise God.
“I’m on Fire!”
I WAS invited on one occasion to conduct a mission at a fashionable watering place. As the invitation came altogether unsolicited by me, I had but one answer: this was in the affirmative. There was no reason why it should be otherwise. I confess a kind of dread and misgiving haunted me, for report said that the Vicar who had invited me was not much in sympathy with my kind of work, and that the people of the place were exceedingly proper and respectable. I prayed much, that I might be guided so as not to give unnecessary offence, but otherwise do all I could to win the people.
On my arrival at the place my worst fears were realised. I found the Vicar cool and unsympathetic, the congregation exceedingly well satisfied with their respectability, and the atmosphere of the church as dead and cold as a garden in winter.
My first appeal on Sunday morning fell very flat on me, if it did not on my hearers. It seemed as if I could not get the edge of the sword to bear at any point. I did not intend to flash the glittering sword in the eyes of the people and hit very hard with the flat side of it for fear of hurting anyone. Far from that, I wanted very much to do deadly hurt with the sharp edge of the blade, but it was like a nightmare -- the sword would not cut.
In the afternoon I was not much happier, but in the evening I thought the atmosphere, spiritually, was warmer. The after-meeting however, in the schoolroom, was a failure.
Nevertheless I determined to go on. I had experienced as discouraging beginnings as this before, and things had then changed.
The Vicar said to me the next morning, “Did you see a great, tall woman in the congregation yesterday?”
“Yes,” I said, “I think I know the one you mean. I noticed her standing up without a book, but she appeared very attentive.”
He said, “She is a Roman Catholic and a most ignorant woman. I do not think she can read a word. I cannot imagine what brought her to church. I am sure she has never been there before. I have known her in the parish for a long time, as a notorious character. She drinks and swears like a man, and has been seen to knock someone down who argued with her. She is to be heard about the streets all day long, shouting fish or vegetables.”
At the afternoon instruction the woman in question presented herself again, and sat looking the picture of attention. Whether she understood anything that was said I do not know, but there she sat. In the evening she was at church again, and came also to the after-meeting in the schoolroom. At the conclusion of the opening hymn I asked the Vicar to pray, and while he was engaged in a quiet and silvery utterance -- it was anything but exciting -- the large woman suddenly rose to her feet, and uttering a loud piercing shriek, cried out, "I'm on fire! I'm on fire!" Then, shaking her clothes violently, she shrieked louder and louder.
The Vicar was dumb with amazement, and the respectables were thoroughly scared. I rose up from my knees and walked quietly towards the woman. As I went along I gave out the words of a hymn, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds!” and commenced to sing it to a well-known tune. This was taken up and carried on by a few of the congregation.
The poor affrighted woman, after stamping with her feet and shaking her clothes again and again as if she really was in flames, made a leap all at once and bounded over the feet of others who were kneeling between her and the aisle. Here she continued shaking her clothes as if to extinguish flames.
“Come here with me,” I said to her. “Come to the end of the room. We will see about putting out the fire.”
“Oh!” she cried, with a louder shriek than ever, “I’m sinking into hell! Oh, save me, save me!”
“Come here,” I continued, “and we will see about that too.”
The singing of the hymn was still going on at the other end of the room by those who were not quite terrified. Poor people! They could not make their escape, for the “dreadful” woman and I were in possession of the only way of exit from the building.
At length I persuaded her to kneel down, and I knelt by her side and prayed softly until she became calm. Then I put before her the way of salvation.
“Oh, but it’s a sinner I am. Yes, I am, that I am.”
I said, “I am glad you feel your sins. Christ came to save sinners such as you. He can save you direct. You ask Him for yourself. Say, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ He wants no priests to help Him in this work. He can save without them. Only believe on Him.”
The poor creature was still trembling and panting with the terrible fright she had been in, and was willing to do or say anything. I urged her again to repeat the prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
I said, "The Lord Jesus has taught us sinners to make that prayer, and He has in His love told us the answer to it before we begin. You will go home justified -- saved, you know. He loves you. He died to save you."
The same Divine Spirit who had convicted her in this remarkable manner was present to guide and teach her. She found peace and pardon, and in a short time she returned quietly to a seat in the prayer meeting.
I was led to say a few words to those still present about the work of the Spirit; how the wind bloweth where it listeth: we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit. I added, “The Lord has brought our sister in a remarkable way to pardon and peace. Shall we sing again and praise God?”
“Yes,” said the Vicar; “here is a hymn I have found …
‘O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter in the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.’”
“Yes,” I replied, “let us sing that. It is more of a prayer than praise. However, begin.”
After singing this hymn I prayed, and then dismissed the meeting. I must say that I felt as if I had dismissed the mission too, for surely the disturbance had proved too much for everyone.
The people went out quietly one by one, but as I had beckoned to the Irish woman to stay behind, she did so; and I had a long talk with her.
She told me that she had had a dream in which she was bidden to go to church. She went as she had promised, but could not tell why she came again and again.
I found her very uneducated; but as she said, one thing she knew: that once she was lost, but now she was saved; and that made her happy.
The Vicar was suspicious, and doubted very much about this woman’s change. He dwelt continually on what she had been in the past. I could not help saying to him, “You are like those people who call poor fallen women Magdalenes. The true Magdalene is the person who is saved, and out of whom the devils have been cast.”
However, I could not help thinking, “It is all up with the mission;” and although I greatly rejoiced over the poor woman in question, still I went to bed feeling much depressed.
Somewhat to my surprise, the next morning the meeting was well attended. In the afternoon still more were present; and in the evening, though a weekday, the church was full. My worst fears were dispelled. The atmosphere was changed from winter to spring, and like springtime, new life was visible all around. Living souls were revived, and dead ones were beginning to move.
We had a good after-meeting, and several persons (without shrieking) found peace with God. By the time we reached the second Sunday, the church would not hold the people who desired to come. Many had to go away, being unable to get in.
My Irish friend grew in intelligence marvellously, and actually was seen in the after-meeting talking to anxious persons of her own acquaintance. There was no mistake about the change wrought in her, and if she had gone back after the mission was over, I feel sure that I should have heard of it with vengeance. That lioness had become a ewe-lamb; though, as she said, "I'll never forget that awful fire I was in. Oh, it was just awful -- that it was!"
“That Big Ben.”
WE were just about to begin an Evangelistic service when one of our helpers, as he was called, came into the vestry and said, “I say, I have brought seven fellows out of a public house.”
“How did you get them?” I inquired.
“Oh, I went into the public bar after them.”
“And how did you get them, then?”
“Why,” he said, “I asked them to come along with me to the service. They laughed at first, and then one of them, that once called Big Ben, said, ‘We’ll come, master, if you’ll treat us to half-a-pint each.’ ‘All right,’ I replied. So I ordered them a couple of quarts of beer, and when they had been served, they came along as quietly as possible.”
Peeping out at the vestry door, he said, “Look, there they are, all sitting as proper as their betters.”
The means our helper had used to bring these men in seemed questionable, but there they were and the next thing was to pray for and expect a blessing on them.
In the course of my address I spoke of the various hindrances there were to the Gospel; and among others I mentioned drink, and the love of it, as one of the greatest. I went on to say that the poor drunkard was a loser every way. He received very little enjoyment. He soon lost his right senses, lost his money, and injured his wife and children.
I continued, “Once I heard it said that the very mice in the drunkard’s house could find nothing. The poor little things went about with tears in their eyes, looking for crumbs in the cupboard, and all in vain!”
The seven men were sober enough to give attention to the sermon, embellished as it was by the tale of the drunkard's mice. After the sermon they all knelt down at the time of prayer, and when others rose up to go, they rose up to depart also -- thinking, I have no doubt, that they had done enough for their half-pint.
Our young helper asked them to stay a little longer.
“No,” said Big Ben, “we have had enough. I’m a-going. That’s a fine man, though, to see tears in the mouse’s eyes. I wonder how he did that!”
“Stay a little,” said our friend, “and we will go and ask him.”
No, they would not be persuaded to do that. But about an hour afterwards, who should come back to the church but Ben.
He said, “I’ve been in bed, but I can’t get any sleep. I want to know how the man that preached got to know about me! I declare I never set eyes on him in all my life till tonight. The chaps all say he meant me in his sermon. How did he know about me? That’s what I want to know.”
“Come along,” said our helper, “and we will ask him about it.”
So saying, my friend led Big Ben up to me.
“Do you know me at all?” said Ben, looking straight into my face.
“Why do you want to know?” I inquired.
‘“Cause you told ‘em about me in your sermon. All the mates said that you meant me. I’ve been a-bed and couldn’t sleep for a-thinkin’ how yer knew about me. So who told yer?”
Perceiving that God had been speaking to this man, I said, “God knows all about you, and He told me to say those words. You had better give up to Him. Come, let us kneel down.”
The man did so, and began speaking in prayer as if mechanically, uttering words after me. It was not long, however, before he put in some emphasis for himself. It was surprising to witness, though I have seen it often, how the use of the tongue or voice stirs the heart. Now it was as though the man could not stop praying, and pleading for mercy for his soul.
As the prayer waxed warmer and warmer, his convictions deepened, and he acknowledged what a sinner he was. This thought only added greater earnestness to his prayers. After pleading in this way for more than half an hour, he stopped, as if in despair.
“Is there no mercy for me?” he asked. “I know I am a proper bad un. O God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I will give up drink, bad words, everything. Oh, do have mercy on me.”
It was evident he was trying to buy his forgiveness with his sacrifices, in the same way that mariners throw overboard their cargo to save the ship; but that is not the way of God’s salvation.
I said, “God can save you, and He is willing to do so, but only for Christ’s sake. You owed a debt, and Christ has paid it. Come and acknowledge God’s love in sending His Son, and thank Him for it. Take salvation, take it now, and be happy.”
This was like a new idea to him.
“I’ve been sinning a lot of years,” he said, “and will the Almighty pardon me right off like that, all at once?”
“Yes,” I replied, “He will do so, for the sake of the finished work of Christ. God is able to forgive the vilest sinner through the death of Christ upon the cross. Let us praise Him. Say, ‘Glory be to God, Jesus Christ died for me.’ None but sinners can use these words. Christ did not die for angels, therefore angels cannot sing this song, only sinners. And you are a great sinner. Say, ‘Glory be to God, Jesus Christ died for me.’”
It was a long time before I could get him to utter these words; but when once he began to do it, it was astonishing to see the light breaking into his soul. He was perhaps less conscious of the change which was coming over him, than we who were observing him.
That face that had been dull and slow was now lighted up with an intelligence and an energy which were wonderful. He rose from his knees, and standing up, said, “Glory be to God, Jesus Christ died for me. He did. I can see it plainly enough. Why, it is as plain as knowing I’m a sinner, and there’s no mistake about that!”
We united together in singing a verse and chorus of praise, and then sent the man on his way rejoicing. The next day he came back, bringing some of his mates with him. He was most intent and earnest in his endeavour to show them the way of salvation, and appeared greatly surprised that they could not see it.
“It’s all so plain,” he said. His labour of love, however, was not without success among his companions. Besides this, I rejoice to add that Big Ben’s conversion was the means of bringing to Jesus the “helper” who first bought Ben with the half-pint.
The Horrible Pit
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:1-3).
THERE must have been some providential event in David’s life, to which he refers in the beginning of the Psalm 40, and yet it is so penned as to picture most minutely the spiritual deliverance which all lost sinners need.
In the first two verses of the Psalm we have five distinct stages of the believer’s life described, by which we shall do well to measure and test ourselves.
1. Taken out of an horrible pit.
2. Out of the miry clay.
3. On the rock
4. Established in our goings.
5. Singing the new song.
And lastly, in verses three we have the effect of this: “Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”
“Is not that a pure imagination?” asked one in my company. “People spiritualise everything these days. You may in this way make up whatever you please, if only you are clever enough! I never knew anything like it. I suppose you do not mean to unchristianise me!”
I said, “Is it in your imagination that you are saved?”
“Saved?” repeated the gentleman. “Why, every Christian is saved, is he not?”
“Certainly,” I answered, “if he is a real Christian; because as such, he is saved from the penalty and power of sin. If he has not been saved, I should say he is not a real, but merely a nominal Christian.”
“Well, that beats all the narrowness I ever heard. You are saying there is no salvation for anyone who does not agree with you.”
“My friend,” I said, “you and I by nature are children of Adam, and as such, dead in trespasses and sins; in the power of the world, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 2:2); and by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Now this is not an opinion, but a fact; as much as the fall of man is a fact. I lived many years in the world before I was enabled to see and understand this as a reality which concerned myself. If you have not found out this truth about yourself, the very first work of the Holy Spirit has not been wrought in you. God’s record of man’s fall and restoration begins here, and so does the work of the Spirit.”
“Oh,” said my friend, “I never felt myself so lost as all that.”
“Well,” I answered, “whether you feel it or not, the fact remains. We are all lost, until we are found.”
“How can a man know these things?”
I answered, “By taking God at His word. If you rightly believe the Word, the Spirit of God will make you know its reality, and you will know this as certainly as you know any other fact.”
“I do not feel anything of the kind,” remarked the gentleman, “and never did.”
I replied, “We are not asked to believe what we feel, but believe what God says. I wonder whether you were ever conscious of danger in your life?”
“Yes,” he said, “and more than once. On one occasion I fell over a cliff in the dark, though I had a lantern in my hand. I was much bruised and my lantern smashed. I could not find my way up the cliff again, and the tide was coming in. I was in a fright, I can tell you.”
“I dare say you were, but you must remember that you knew your danger then, by natural perception only; whereas we know of our spiritual danger on the truthfulness of God. The natural danger is not to he compared with the horrors of the other.”
“Do you mean to say,” said my friend, “that you once felt the lost condition of your soul, as one would feel the lost condition of himself?”
"Yes indeed, and even more so -- feeling there was no eye to pity, and no arm to save. The Psalmist would never have cried out, 'O Lord, I beseech Thee deliver my soul,' if he was unconscious of danger. Did you cry out for help in your trouble?"
“Yes, indeed I did, most lustily, till a coastguard man heard and came to my rescue. He led me up by a path I could never have found in the dark, though not before the waves began to knock me about on the rocks.”
I said, “Now you know of such a deliverance, you would not sneer at others who profess to have had a similar one. A story like yours would remind you of your own case and stir your gratitude, instead of disagreement.
“When I was a boy in India,” I continued, “I was running along a very muddy lane in the rainy season. There was a drenching rain pouring down on me, and in some places the road was impassable for mud. Looking about, I espied, as I thought, a smooth hard surface by the side of the road. I made for that, and leaped on it with delight. To my horror I found that I was in a miry pit, filled with thick mud and water. I instantly sank up to my middle, and felt myself slowly sinking deeper and deeper. The more I struggled the faster I sank, and if I made no effort I was conscious of steadily sinking still. I was buried up to my arms, and then my paddling was over, and I was up to my neck, and even my mouth in the pit. I cried out piteously for help, but no one was in sight. I can never forget the sickening horror of that death, which seemed inevitable. I became insensible, and knew nothing more, until I found myself lying in a bed, washed and comfortably tended. A friendly hand had saved me, and kindly cleansed me from the mire.
“I can never forget that, nor can I forget the similar dread and fear I was in, on another occasion, when I felt myself sinking into hell as a lost sinner. If anything, the latter was even more horrible than the former.”
“How did you ever come to feel all that?” said the gentleman.
"I gave myself to the Lord, and He opened my eyes to see my danger. In like manner, if you give yourself to Him -- and no one else can do this for you -- He will do the same for you. He is not bound to lead you in this exact manner of distress and trouble, but though not in degree, yet in kind, He will show you your lost, helpless condition.
“You must give up to God sooner or later,” I continued. “If you will not surrender to the Gospel, then you will have to surrender when death comes. You had far better yield yourself willingly now, and wait patiently upon Him. He will make you conscious of your real state before Him, and will take you out of the pit which He says is horrible, whether you know it to be so or not. Danger is all the more serious if a man is in ignorance of it.”
“Well, I confess,” he said, “my Christianity does not satisfy me. I have my fears and doubts too sometimes.”
I replied, “Christianity cannot save anyone. You must have to do with a Person -- a living, though unseen Person. The Psalmist says, ' He took me out of an horrible pit.’”
This young man was persuaded, and gave himself to God. In due course he was convicted of his sin, and converted too. When by the Spirit of God he was brought into the light, he was surprised and alarmed to see what danger he had been in, without suspecting it.
He was not backward in testifying to the reality of God’s Word, and set to his seal that it was true, from his own experience.
On one occasion, being asked how he knew that he was converted, he answered, “How do I know that I am standing here?” He knew it!
I said, “You asked the Lord to show you the pit, and He has also shown you your deliverance from it. Now ask Him about deliverance from the miry clay, and about being placed on the rock with no clay or mire between it and you. He will show you this, and will establish your goings besides. The Lord be with you.”
A theology that leaves out the horrible pit is to be suspected and avoided, for we are all in it by nature, until we are taken out of it.
“I Dreamt I Was Dead.”
“I HAVE had that bad boy in my black books for several years,” said the Rector. “I was obliged to punish him in many ways, and at last, for the sake of the other boys, I expelled him from the school. I do not usually send a boy away for being bad, but this one is an exception. He is a most audacious fellow; but I keep on praying for him.”
The boy in question persisted in coming with other lads to the mission services in the church, and even remained behind to the after-meetings.
One evening I ventured to speak to this uncultured youth. But receiving very unsatisfactory answers, I left him to himself, though I would not allow him to interfere with the other boys or hinder them. On another occasion I was led to speak kindly to him about his soul, and he let me go on so long without interruption that I really began to hope the Word was making an impression on him. Suddenly, to my surprise and disappointment, he turned towards me and said,” I haven’t heard a word you’ve been talking, and don’t want to. You’re nota-going to catch me like that. Don’t yer think it.”
“I am sorry for you,” I replied. “It will be your loss more than mine.”
The following evening I happened to be preaching in another church a mile or two farther off. My young incorrigible was there also, but this time he was sitting alone, and I thought looking a little sad. After passing him by once or twice, I looked at him and said, “You seem to like coming to church, wherever it is.”
He did not answer, or even look up. So I continued, “I wonder whether you mean to give your heart to God.”
He muttered, “I had a dream last night.”
“Indeed!” I replied. “What was it about?”
He said, “I did not like it. I dreamt that I was dead, and being carried away to hell.”
The poor boy had evidently not yet recovered from the fright he sustained in that dream. I said to him, “You know that dream must come true if you do not give up. You had better do so at once. Shall I pray with you?”
He made no answer. I said, “Have you been praying for yourself?”
“Yes, I have,” he muttered in a sullen way, with his head still bent down. “As well as I could.”
“What did you ask for?”
“I prayed God not to kill me yet.”
“But what is the use of keeping you alive if you will go on in your bad ways, and set such a bad example to others? You had far better give up, I say.”
“I will,” he responded, in a mournful voice. “I didn’t like my dream.”
“Let us kneel down then, at once. What is your prayer? What shall we ask for?”
“Ask the Lord God,” said the boy, “to save me like Josey. He is downright good now. I should like to be like him.”
“We need not ask God to save you after any particular pattern,” I said. “You had better ask Him to save you, and let Him do it as He will.”
“Oh, Lord God, do save me,” he cried out. “I am bad, and I feel very bad. Oh, do save me!”
I told him that God loved him, and would rather save him than not, and that Jesus Christ died for him. “He shed His blood on purpose to secure your pardon. If you believe this, thank Him for His love to you.”
This wicked lad was soon changed, and brought from death into life. He was, as he said of himself, that happy that he could not help going to “tell the chaps about himself.”
Now he attended the Bible class where he used to be such a trouble, but in a very different spirit. He was a brand plucked out of the burning, and one who was not ashamed to manifest the great change which had been wrought in him.
This boy had been a kind of ringleader among his associates, and now he was disposed to still hold his place and use his influence for good. He did not aspire to rule, or apparently make any effort for this, but it was in him as if born to do so. He had only to speak, and other boys did as he suggested. In a very short time he was the means of bringing in numbers of the lads who were his followers -- that is, those who had not already submitted to God before he did.
His example and steadfastness were a great help and encouragement in the class, as well as in the neighbourhood in which he lived.
It was so remarkable that a lad who had manifested such dislike and even opposition to all good things, should have been the subject of the Rector’s prayers, should have persisted in coming to the services, though he said he would not yield, and should have been arrested through a dream.
He could have easily declined attending the meetings himself, and besides this, have drawn away other lads with him -- but he did not.
Instead of doing so, we find him at the special services; and though he was so rude to me, yet I was led to speak to him, to care for his soul, and at last was instrumental in leading him to the Saviour.
Shall we say that this is special favouritism? Does not God love other sinners in the same way? God is not responsible to us for His doings or ways. He doeth as He will, and is perfectly free to do so.
However remarkable this lad’s conversion may have been, I think no one can consider the history of his own conversion without seeing signs of Divine intervention also. We cannot fail to observe that circumstances which had no connection with one another came together, and persons who had no previous agreement or interaction with one another were made to work together, to the one end of bringing us to conviction and conversion.
In this way, more or less, God’s Spirit strives with every soul. When there is yielding, the strivings of the Spirit are more closely applied. On the other hand, when there is no yielding, but rather an opposition to the reasonable calls of the Spirit, there is a hardening process which ends in the rejection of that soul.
God cannot deny Himself or alter His own law. As a man sows, so must he reap. If he sows resistance, he reaps resistance. If he sows procrastination, he reaps procrastination. But if he sows submission to God and acceptance of His offered salvation, he receives salvation to the joy of his soul. God says, “Whosoever will may come.”
“I Am Ordered Off.”
SITTING one day in a large bookseller’s shop, I observed a young gentleman come in. He was one in whom I was much interested, for I had often spoken to him about his soul, and had even prayed with him.
His mother was a devoted Christian, one who prayed daily for her children, and for this one in particular, he being her firstborn. She had dedicated him to God from his infancy, and longed that he should not only be saved, but live before Him.
However, her efforts to persuade this loved one to come to Jesus were ineffectual, at least as far as we could see. Nevertheless, God was all the time hearing and answering prayer.
I heard this young man ask for some books about New Zealand. What is the matter now? I wondered to myself.
“I want some books,” he said, “with maps and pictures.”
“Yes, yes,” said the shop keeper, “I think we have something of the kind.”
While the man was away looking through his stock, I stepped forward and said to my young friend, “How do you do? What do you want books about New Zealand for?”
He answered with a sad face, “I am ordered off to that place.”
“Indeed,” I said, “why is this?”
“Oh, you know, I have been rather wild lately, and they tell me I have just done for my health. The old doctor says if I go to New Zealand at once I may live, but that is quite impossible if I remain in this country.”
I thought to myself, God has various ways with men. If they will not “come”, they may have to “go”. If they will not yield in one way, He tries them in another.
In the meantime, several books were brought and set before my friend -- some with pictures and no maps, and others with maps and no pictures. The young man was obliged to supply himself with more than one book to obtain the information he wanted.
While the parcel was being tied up, I said to him, “Why are you getting so many books?”
He replied, “I need them all, in order to acquaint myself with the place to which I am going. I must get to know something about the manners of the people, and the climate, you know. Also what preparations to make.”
“Yes, exactly so. That is well and wise,” I said.
He having paid the bill and taken up the parcel, we set off together.
On our way, I said, “My dear fellow, if you had given your heart to God, I do not think you would have had this banishment from home put upon you. Now, the next best thing for you to do is to accept this sentence as from God, and ask Him to bless it to your soul’s good.”
The young man was rather sad, so I went on to say, “You have refused many invitations to come to God, and now He is bidding you go. Thank Him that it is not to go away out of this world, but at present only to another part of it where you may perhaps live and enjoy health. Now, do you propose to spend your life there in the way you have done here, or be a wiser man?”
“I have been thinking about that,” he said. “I see what a fool I’ve been, but the fact is I’m as weak as water.”
“You dear fellow,” I replied, “then you are exactly the kind of person to go to God for strength. Do not trust yourself, or your own resolutions.”
By this time we were passing by the Bible Depot, so I went in. In remembrance of the kindness I had received from his family, I bought a good Bible and wrote his name in it.
“Here is a book for you,” I said. “It is a book which will tell you of a better world than New Zealand. It has maps, pictures, illustrations, and directions of all kinds. Mind you read this, as well as the other books you have bought. It is well to know about the land to which you are going. I am doctor enough to tell you that we have no abiding city here. We are all under orders to go, but where? To heaven or to hell?”
My young friend was very sad at the thought of going away from home, and as he told me, perhaps to die in a far-off land and be buried by strangers.
I said to him, “Now, dear fellow, do let me persuade you to give your heart to God before you go. It will do you good, and nothing will cheer and comfort your dear mother so well. She will have anxiety enough about your going off alone, especially in your precarious state. You really ought to give her this comfort. The voyage itself may do you good, and the climate yonder re-establish your health, or it may not. Give God your heart.”
“I will,” he said with emotion.
“Thank God,” I replied. “Now then, do it, and I will call again and see you in the evening.”
In the evening I found this young man in a most hopeful condition. He was not ignorant of the way of salvation, and all he wanted was a definite surrender of himself to God. This he now made unreservedly.
After a few words of cheer and encouragement his soul came into liberty. What joy awaited his dear mother next morning after the sleepless and anxious night she had passed.
“Now, Lord,” she said, “I can trust my boy with Thee anywhere!”
In due course he embarked on his voyage and arrived in safety at New Zealand. There he travelled about, and had many opportunities of testifying for God and telling about salvation, which was too much neglected in those parts.
The physician had told him that if his health improved by the end of the year he might return to England. Accordingly he came home and spent many happy years in the Lord’s service, joyfully following, and by his life recommending, Him to others.
His past experience gave him influence with young men, and his present joy was a testimony they could not dispute or gainsay. The deep longing of his heart to win his old companions beamed forth in the expression of his countenance as he pleaded with them.
A Praise Meeting
I HELD a mission once which was begun under great difficulties and perplexity. Those who should have been the helpers of it, because they were ostensibly the promoters, were the very people who placed obstacles in the way.
The Sunday services opened with many tokens of God’s smiles, and also of Satan’s frowns. There was no pre-arrangement or organisation for the meetings day by day, so we went forward as blind ones, but trusting the Lord’s leading.
Some of the things that happened were very perplexing at the time, but afterwards we could see how wonderfully, and wisely too, all had been ordered. Day by day souls were saved, and day by day new opposition arose.
All of us who were engaged in the mission proposed to meet for prayer at twelve o’clock in a central place. We invited friends who were interested to join us, and some influential person of the town to preside each day at the meeting.
On the Friday, the gentleman who should have been in the chair sent me a note to say that he was unable to attend that morning, but if Mr. C——, who was appointed to preside the next day, would take his place, he would take Mr. C——‘s place on the morrow.
Another note was enclosed, which was to be read at the meeting. Mr. C---- kindly took the chair, and read and re-read the note in his hand. Then he wiped his tears, and then his glasses, and when the first hymn was sung he rose up and said in a trembling voice, "I have here a note from Mr. B---- requesting me to take the chair in his absence today." Then there was a pause. "He begs," said the chairman, "that this meeting will thank God with him for saving his soul."
“Praise the Lord!” said a voice, and then followed a murmur all over the hall.
The people had hitherto regarded this gentleman as a saved man, for he had previously expressed his indignation at any suspicion on the subject.
While they were thus whispering together I gave out the doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” This was readily taken up and sung heartily twice over.
After this the chairman said, with much emotion, “I want you to praise God also, for me.” Then after another pause, he added, “Most of you remember my dear wife joining the Church of Rome a few years since. She was converted to God last night, and has come back to us.”
There was again a burst of praise, and again we sang, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” The people had scarcely taken their seats, when another gentleman of position stood up and said, “May I say a word or two? Thank God for me. I was saved last night.”
The meeting became excited, and once more we praised God in the same song and words. In this way we went on until eleven persons, in more or less lengthened testimony, asked for thanksgiving and praise.
Before the conclusion of the meeting I could not resist standing up and saying, “Last night it seemed to me as if the powers of hell were let loose to hinder the preacher and to harden sinners. Now see what God has wrought! We must not go by our feelings -- that is certain. I have seldom been more discouraged and beaten down than I was last evening." With prayer and thanksgiving this remarkable meeting closed.
After the people had dispersed, there remained behind a gentleman to speak with me. He said, “I have been following this mission very closely, and I have observed the persistence with which you keep to that one point, ‘Ye must be born again.’”
I replied, “I am thankful to hear your testimony. That is the point I desire to urge in one way and another, and it is one of the objects of the mission to enforce this truth. I have not come as a shepherd to feed and lead out the flock to pasture, but as a fisherman to put down the net. This net is let down to enclose fishes of the sea, and to draw them out of their natural element to the Master’s feet.”
“Do you mean,” asked the gentleman, “that we are all fishes of the sea, as you term it?”
“Yes,” I said, “all those who have not yet been enclosed and drawn out. By nature we are all children of Adam and lost in the Fall, without exception.”
“But it is very hard,” he interrupted, “for you, a perfect stranger, to come here and judge us in this way.”
"Dear friend, I do not judge you at all. I merely state what Scripture says. 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God' -- 'there is no difference.'"
“That seems very uncharitable to me. Many of us, including myself, have never heard of this new birth. We are doing our best to be as good as we possibly can. What can we do more?”
I said, “Suppose now you are an unsaved man, and as such, certain of being lost for ever. Would it not be very uncharitable and unkind of me to tell you that you were all right, and that you need not fear? The God of love and truth would not tell you that. He is too charitable. It is the devil who flatters and thus spreads a net for the feet. He gets the deceitful heart of man, to co-operate with him in this deadly work”
“Well, well,” said the gentleman, “what am I to do to be saved?”
I answered, “Saint Paul gave a very good reply to that question once, but we should remember that the person to whom he gave it was a man who had been awakened by the Spirit of God to see and know himself to be a lost sinner. It was to such a man as this that the Apostle said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’ God’s Word says we are all lost, and the same Holy Spirit who inspired these words comes to the willing heart to write that truth or fact there. It then becomes a matter of reality, not mere opinion, and the sinner knows and feels he is a sinner.”
Seeing I had his attention, I continued. “Ask God to convict you in this way, and then believe in the Lord Jesus, who died to save lost sinners, and you will be saved and know it.”
After prayer, he thanked me, and went his way.
He had not been gone long before he returned to the same place, saying, “I do believe, I will believe.” And he did so. It appeared that he had been under conviction for some days, and now he had found peace.
I said, “This hall has been the place of testimony for twelve persons at least today. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
My friend became a worker in that very mission, and continues to be one still.
Further Blessings after Conversion
Swinging On the Gate
MY attention was one day attracted to the picture I mentioned in the Introduction, showing several country children riding on a gate. One was balancing himself on the top of the gate, while others took their turn to swing it, first out into the public road, and then in the opposite direction. One or two boys were to be seen sprawling on the ground, and one or two behind these were crying.
I described this picture at a Bible reading, and pointed out that too many believers spend their time in riding on the gate of conversion. They are saved and happy, and they know why. Therefore they are delighting themselves. Other believers are occupied in swinging the gate to and fro. They talk about conversion and the necessity of it, and there they stop. Not a few fall and fail in this exercise, and some hurt themselves. In the meantime, no one can pass through that gate to go on the way which leads through it to the palace beyond.
The gate is not the way, any more than the way is the gate. Too often these perfectly distinct things are confused, as if they were the same.
An earnest young man who happened to be present at the reading was attracted by this illustration, and remained behind to ask questions.
He said, “You have exactly described my experience in its several phases. Sometimes I have been riding on the gate full of joy, and at others pushing it backwards and forwards. I must confess too that I have fallen more than once. I see one thing plainly enough,” he added, “that my mind has never been definitely directed to walking in the way, as it was to finding the gate. I thought that if I kept up the joy of salvation, and my confidence, it would be enough.”
I said to him, “When you were a babe I expect you smiled and crowed, and no doubt took your milk, or you would not have satisfied your mother. I suppose you have renounced all that now!”
“I think,” he replied, “that I understand your meaning. Please go on.”
“The road in the picture,” I continued, “is as clearly defined as the gate, but you have overlooked that. Now that your attention is directed to the way, you are as free to walk in it as you were to swing on the gate. The Lord says to all who believe in Him, ‘Follow Me.’ He does not say, ‘Come,’ to those who have come; or ‘Follow,’ to those who have not come.”
“Very good,” said my friend. “My mind is made up. I will be a follower of the Lord.”
He went away, and two days after this he returned with a print of the picture in question, nicely framed and glazed as a gift for me. With a beaming face he went over the different characters in the engraving.
My friend having determined, as he said, to live the Christian life, I inquired, “How do you propose to begin?”
He answered, “Oh, I have a book here which I am delighted with. It is called, Aids to a Devout Life. I mean to work at this, and another book I have, The Imitation of Christ. Do you know it?”
“Yes,” I said, “I do. I used to study it most diligently before I was converted, but I have put it away since that time.”
“Put it away!” repeated my young friend with evident surprise. “I hope to find these two books very useful.”
“Useful for what?” I said. “To bring you into bondage instead of liberty? Have you forgotten that you once tried by works to make a door of salvation for yourself, and failed; and that afterwards you found Christ the Door, already made? Now you are going to try and make a pathway to heaven for yourself, instead of walking in the way that is provided for you. You have yet to find out that Christ is the Way, as well as the Door.”
"You discourage me," he said. "I saw Mr. ---- last evening, and he told me to study these two books. He said they would be a great help to me."
I replied, “I am not going to put myself in comparison with that good man, or any other, but you must judge for yourself whether salvation and progress are attained by works, or by faith.”
He went away, evidently unwilling to follow my advice. The few hours he had spent over his books had given him so much pleasure that he longed to return to them again. Religiousness is so soothing to the natural mind, that my young friend pursued his studies with great self-satisfaction.
One day however, in spite of all his resolutions, and prayers too, he fell grievously. In his sorrow and disappointment he came to me, and said, “It is hard work, this falling and rising. I am happy enough when I am reading and praying, but when I leave the house, down I go!”
“Ah,” I said, “you are now beginning to find out that you cannot stand by yourself. You will find moreover that you cannot walk by yourself. Indeed, you cannot do without Christ for your leader. Books are very well, and maybe useful too when they bring you to Him, but if they do not do that, they are no help; but rather mislead you. The devil can easily overthrow you at his pleasure, the world sweep you away with its torrent, or the flesh hinder you most of all. You can no more stand by yourself than that umbrella! The Psalmist says, ‘Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe’ (Psalm 119:117). Believe me, only Christ can keep you from falling, and only Christ can guide you in the right way.”
My young friend remained silent as if thinking, so I continued, “If I had a child in prison in a foreign land, I would ransom him. Do you think I would then leave him there to find his own way home? No, certainly not. I would take the child by the hand and bring him home with me. This, too, is God’s way of salvation and deliverance. You know that beautiful hymn:
‘Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah!
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.’
Take this first verse, and make it your prayer. Never mind your books for the present.”
He followed my advice, and in a short time proved in his own experience that Christ can as easily guide us when we are saved, as He can save us when we are lost -- that indeed He is the Way of life, as well as the Door of salvation.
“I Hope So.”
SOME years ago when I was in Norfolk, as my two churches were small, I held meetings for Evangelistic purposes in a large barn on my glebe. Having much encouragement in this effort, I went by invitation to other barns in various parts of the county, for the same object.
One gentleman remarked, “Aha! I never knew before what my grandfather built this great barn for. I see now!” With a large farm wagon for a pulpit, blocks of timber and planks across for seats, it made an excellent place for preaching.
At some of these meetings we had people of all social classes, for many of the gentry from the neighbourhood favoured us with their presence.
One evening a lady of title from London came and brought a lively interest in the proceedings. When the address was over, according to London custom (at least at that time) she rose up to go away. She did not understand then about after-meetings, or their object. At the end of the barn a young farmer who had recently been converted to God, stood at the door giving away tracts and speaking to the people now and again, as he was led. Amongst other persons so addressed, he said to this lady from London, “Take a tract.” She took it graciously, whereupon he asked in his abrupt manner, “Are you saved?”
She answered, “I hope so.”
“Haven’t you got further than that?” was the reply. The young man then went on distributing the remainder of his tracts, and speaking to others who were thronging by him.
The lady could not stop to make any remark, for she was in the stream of people flowing out. But she thought to herself, “I have been a Christian for forty years, and yet I have not satisfied that young man. I must go back.”
She stepped aside until the people had passed out, watching her opportunity to speak to the young man. Then she went up to him and said, “You asked me a question just now, young man, and I did not satisfy you with my answer.”
“What was the question, madam?” inquired the farmer politely.
“You asked me whether I was saved.”
“Well,” he added, “and what was your answer?”
“I said,” replied the lady, ‘“I hope so.’”
“Haven’t you got further than that?” repeated the young man.
“Yes, indeed I have,” said the lady; “I have been a Christian for forty years.”
“Then why didn’t you say so? You should have said that.”
“Now suppose,” continued the lady, “I ask you the question, ‘Are you saved?’ What would your answer be?”
“Ah yes, thank God, that I am,” replied the young man, with a happy face.
“I understand now what you mean,” said the lady, and bidding the young man good evening she walked thoughtfully away.
Afterwards, when this lady met me, she said, “I know now what to say when I am challenged by you or any of your people, about my salvation. The answer is not, ‘I hope so,’ but, ‘Yes, thank the Lord!’”
Notwithstanding this little banter, she not only ever after gave this answer for herself, but did not let anyone pass who said, “I hope so.” She became proverbial for this, and never let the hoping kind escape.
Many people say, “I hope so,” when they really mean, “I believe.” Hoping has to do with something in the future, while believing has to do with that which is present. We do not hope for a thing we have. “I hope I shall” implies that I have not yet obtained possession of the thing I desire. It also implies that the Holy Spirit, who is the Author of all good desires, has been striving with me, and that I have not accepted His offer. But “I hope I am” means nothing, and is not only vague, but dangerous.
I know many persons who I really believe have accepted Christ as their salvation, but who nevertheless continue to say, “I hope so.” This does not produce any happy result in their own minds, nor tend to confirm their confidence. It is neither well for themselves, nor for their usefulness. On the other hand, I have known believers who used to say, “I hope so,” but who, when roused from this bad habit became clear and decided as to their own standing. Besides this, they have gone on to be earnest and accurate in their testimony and work for the Lord.
It is not well to say, “I hope I am saved,” nor is it well to pass those who say so. When people are saved, it is by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore they need not be modest about acknowledging it, as if they had saved themselves. If the Lord has done it, the least they can do is to thank Him and acknowledge His goodness freely. Who is to make known His praises to the world if those whom He has saved do not? How is the Lord to be glorified if those who have received His blessing are too retiring to speak about it? True humility consists in being as nothing, rather than being taken up with our own views, thoughts, and modesty. True humility says, “I am but a poor sinner, but God has had mercy on me.”
Our friend, the lady from London, on her return to the Metropolis immediately opened her drawing room for Gospel addresses. She was very pointed in her questions after the address, and was not content with people who came merely to patronise the Gospel. Neither was she satisfied for them to receive the invitation to come to Jesus, and go away without accepting it, or at any rate, being urged to do so.
When a soldier on parade is commanded to turn “right about face,” he does not smile, nod, assent, and say, “It is all right, I know what you mean, I can do it,” or “I hope I shall;” but promptly he puts his feet into position, and with one turn of his body he is looking the other way, standing like a soldier. So, when the command is given, “Come unto Me,” the answer should be, “Just as I am, I come; I have no other plea, but that the blood of Jesus was shed for me.”
“I will do so,” “I can do so,” or “I may, or must do so,” are beside the mark. “I come as Thou hast bidden me, Lord,” is the only true surrender. There is a sure welcome for everyone who comes in this way, and there should be a distinct testimony from those who have thus come.
AFTER a sermon I had been preaching in a university town, a student came up to me and said, “I feel that I can speak to you. Will you permit me?”
“Certainly,” I replied. “Come at once.”
“No thank you,” said the young man. “I must be in College at nine o’clock; but if you will allow me I will call upon you tomorrow morning.”
We made an appointment, and punctually to the time the young man put in his appearance, looking very miserable. He sat down and at once told me how unhappy he was. He said, “I have lost my light and my joy.”
I replied, “We do not naturally have light and joy to lose.”
“Oh yes, I know that,” rejoined the young man. “But I mean to say I have had great joy, but it has all gone.”
I said, “Now I understand you. Do you mind telling me how you received the joy you refer to?”
He readily complied with this request, and began his story.
He gave me to understand that he was the son of believing parents, and that he came up to the university a steady, well-disposed man. He did not waste his time, as far too many do, in idle amusements or dissipation, but on the contrary he applied himself diligently to his books.
Being thus engaged all the week, it was his custom on Sundays to go out for a long walk in the afternoon. He said, “On one occasion, as I was passing a certain church I heard the two bells ringing. They seemed to my ears to say, ‘Come in, come in, come in.’ I looked towards the church but I could see no one. Also up and down the street, but not a person was approaching. Yet the bells pleaded on as distinctly as before, ‘Come in, come in.’
“As I walked forward, the thought came to my mind, ‘Why do you not come in? I, come in? No, I am going for my walk. I have been reading hard all the week. I have been to College chapel this morning, and intend going to church again this evening. I am going for my walk now.’
“Still the bells went on with their distinct ‘Come in, come in.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am going for a walk, I cannot;’ but the bells seemed to say more vehemently than before, ‘Come in, come in, come in.’ I said, ‘I won’t!’ striking the ground at the same time with my stick. That very instant the bells stopped.
“It was foolish of me you will say, but I could not help myself. I was all of a tremble and felt inclined to turn back and go into church. However, I rallied myself and set out resolutely for my walk, inwardly saying, ‘I will not be so superstitious.’ For all this, I was obliged to return and go into church.
“It was rather late, as you may suppose, but I took a seat near the door and joined in the service.
“As the curate was reading the second lesson, he looked off his book straight at me, and uttered the words, ‘By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). I heard no more, and cannot describe to you the effect those words had on me. I was as it were arrested. I trembled and fell on my knees. ‘By grace … through faith … not of works.’ These words convicted me. Hitherto I had been trying to lead a good life in order to go to heaven, but all that was brought to an end now. Before the service was over I was as happy as I could be, and down at the bottom of the high pew was thanking God, wondering what had happened.
“At the conclusion of the service I went away in haste, and on my way met one of the men, who said, ‘Hello, what’s the matter with you? Have you good news?’ I did not speak but hurried on to my rooms. There I sat down, ‘lost in wonder, love, and praise,’ as the hymn says, at what the Lord had done for me.”
He continued: “I went on rejoicing in my heart with a sense of sins forgiven, and was so happy that I could not hide it. Men in College made remarks about my appearance, and asked whether I had received a legacy, or what. ‘Have you got the vacant scholarship?’ said one, but I evaded all their questions.”
“Why did you not tell them your experience?” I asked. “It would have increased your joy, and most likely have done them good too. Were you afraid they would laugh at you, or what?”
“No,” he replied, “I did not think about that. I cannot tell what made me so reserved.”
“Go on with your story,” I said,” and tell me all.”
He continued: "When the vacation began, I went down, and on my arrival home my dear mother remarked, 'I am very pleased to see you looking so well -- and so happy,' she added significantly. But somehow, though I knew what she was referring to, and what joy it would have given her to hear the good news, I did not tell her why I was so happy.
"My father also asked me many pointed questions -- whether we had had any special services or meetings during the past term, and so on. Still I was silent, and did not tell them about myself.
“After the vacation, I came back to College as happy as before, but all at once my joy went away and I have been most miserable ever since. Last night, while you were speaking I thought you could help me. I am …”
There he paused. I said, “Are you miserable now?”
“No,” he replied. “Strange to say, I feel happy again.”
I did not like to interrupt his story, but while he was speaking I could see his countenance brightening. “Shall I tell you,” I said, “why your joy went away, and why it has come back again? You lost your joy because you did not tell of it, and you have received it back because you have borne testimony. We are but broken cisterns at best, which cannot hold water, though we may do very well for channels to transmit it.”
“I am very much obliged to you for the encouragement you give me,” said the young man, “and thank you sincerely.”
“I accept your thanks,” I said, “and will ask you to show your gratitude in two ways. First, I should like you to write home to your parents at once and tell them why you were so happy at Christmas. Secondly, I want you to tell some of your College friends what the Lord has done for you.”
He promised me he would comply with these two requests. He afterwards told me that the first he found comparatively easy, but the second cost him a great struggle. He said he went to several of the men, but had much difficulty introducing the subject.
At last he communicated his secret to one of his friends, who to his astonishment replied, “I take shame to myself that I have never spoken to you. I am a converted man too.”
They rejoiced together, and then went in company with each other to a third man whom they suspected, and found, that he was a believer also. In this way they discovered several more who could sympathise with them. They all came to my service in the evening.
My friend of the morning looked up with a bright face, as if he would say, “See the six men I have brought with me!” None of them were gloomy or sad of countenance.
Afterwards I talked to these men, and impressed on them the importance and advantage of testimony. I pointed out how much we lose if we do not testify, and what encouragement we have if we do.
I said to them, and I say to all, “Never be ashamed to tell of the Lord’s goodness to you. Only think, who is to tell of your salvation if you do not? And how is God to be praised if those who have received His benefits do not acknowledge Him?”
WALKING along a street in London I observed a clergyman looking at me, but not knowing him I moved on. Presently I heard footsteps quickly approaching, and in a moment the same clergyman was by my side.
“Is your name Haslam?” he said.
“Yes,” I replied, “that is my name.”
“God bless you, a thousand times,” he exclaimed.
“Thank you,” I replied, “as much of that as you please, and the same to you. But let me ask, What is it all about?”
“Did you not say in Paris,” inquired the clergyman, “that the latch is on your side of the door?”
I answered, “I expect I did. I have said such a thing more than once.”
“Oh, God bless you. It was you, then. I cannot tell you what effect those words had on me.”
“Do try and tell me,” I said. “I should like so much to know.”
My newly-found friend was so excited and demonstrative in his manner that I saw we were attracting public attention. I therefore took his arm, and walking along, bid him tell me all about it.
“I am a converted man,” he said, “but I was so weak in myself, and so powerless in my ministry, that I went on praying and asking God to give me strength. I did not seem to receive any answer to my petitions, and this made me both unhappy in mind, and depressed in body.
“At length I went to Paris for a change of scene, and it was there that I heard you say, ‘Many people are praying and waiting for God, while all the time He is waiting for them. The fact that they are desiring and praying is a proof that Christ is knocking at the door of their hearts, to give them the very blessing which they are craving. The latch is on your side of the door. Do not wait for Him, but lift the latch and bid Him enter.’
"This word came to me like a revelation from heaven. You went on speaking as if you had said nothing particular, but indeed it was most particular and effective for me. From your preaching I returned to my hotel, and there I knelt down and said, 'Lord, if Thou art waiting for me, come in. I lift the latch -- come in, and welcome.'
“Oh, what joy filled my soul that day! I longed to find you in order to tell you of the blessing I had received, but I could not. Soon after this I returned to my parish here in England. With joyful voice and lips I told my people that it is not by asking and waiting, but by believing and taking, that we have God’s blessing.
“I am thankful to say,” he continued, “that my ministry is altogether changed in its character, and my congregation and parish are now a delight to me instead of a burden as they used to be. Oh, I find it such a joy to speak from experience of the things of God.”
I could not do otherwise than agree with my friend, and thanked God with and for him, and for the work in which he was so happily engaged.
“I have not yet told you all,” said the clergyman. “My two daughters were with me in Paris at that time, and they also heard you say, ‘The latch is on your side of the door.’ Without speaking a word to me, they each went to their room that evening and opened the door of their hearts to Christ. They had been seeking for salvation a long time, and were expecting it would come to them somehow. Instead of this, they learned from you that Christ was waiting for them. It reversed the course of their action, and instead of waiting longer for this great gift, they accepted it. Instead of waiting for God, they saw that all things were now ready. That visit to Paris has revolutionised not only my family, but my whole parish.”
Dear man, he was so happy and so full of gratitude that I could not bear to stop him, but I was obliged to tell him that I was pressed for time.
“Which way are you going?” he inquired.
On my reply, he said, “I will go some of the way with you.”
As we were walking along, I took the opportunity of asking him why he had not communicated with me before.
“The fact is,” he said, “I have written several letters to you, but somehow they were never sent. I have been wanting you for a long time to come and preach in my parish.”
“It is all right,” I replied. “God intends you to be His instrument in your own place, and while you are so full and so zealous, there is no need for another voice. Go on, and prosper more and more.”
Before parting I asked his name, and that of his parish. We exchanged cards and then took leave of one another with warm and mutual greetings.
A few months after this time I received a most urgent letter from my friend, begging me to pay him a visit. I went as soon as I could arrange, and found him and his two daughters involved in a difficulty not at all uncommon.
They had been confusing the door (Christ) at which a sinner enters for salvation, with the door of the believer’s heart, at which Christ stands, waiting for admittance. The door of salvation is open for the sinner, whereas the believer has to lift the latch to admit the mighty Saviour Himself. I was not surprised to hear that this clergyman’s experience, and that of his daughters, had come into collision. They had not distinguished the difference between their respective standings.
It is well always to remember that the unsaved need salvation, and that those who are saved need a living Saviour. The Lord sets an open door before the former, and He comes in Person to the door of the latter, and knocks that He may enter in and dwell there.
Obviously there is a difference between our dwelling in Christ for safety, and His dwelling in us for our usefulness. This simple information set these friends right and helped them to go forward in the double work of saving sinners, and building up believers.
It is an important thing to divide the Word of God correctly. For want of this, too often the unconverted are led on to light beyond their experience, and the converted are kept back, to the detriment and hindrance of both kinds. The door of salvation which the sinner is invited to enter should never be confused with the door of the believer’s heart, which Christ desires to enter.
Receiving the knowledge of salvation is not imparting it. The receptive life is not the life of giving. One proceeds from faith, and the other from love.
It was really surprising to learn what a difference that little word “latch” had produced in my friend’s family and parish. His congregation, which used to be dead and leafless as a tree in winter, burst out into life, blossom, and fruitfulness. All glory be to God.
The Joy of Heaven
A GENTLEMAN of wealth and position was brought to the Lord in a remarkable manner. He was as surprised at himself, and the change which had been wrought in him, as other people were. His heart was so full of happiness that he could not keep it to himself, but went about telling freely of his conversion.
Like the man we read of in Saint John’s Gospel (John 9) whose eyes had been opened, he declared boldly, “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.” He was sure of this, and sure also that his sins were pardoned. He delighted in attending meetings, and was bold in his testimony and earnest in prayer. Having much liberty in speech he was the life of such meetings, but he was also the life in another way of worldly society in his own house. His wife and daughters had not experienced the same change of heart which he enjoyed, and plainly declared that they did not desire it.
Our friend’s house was continually full of worldly company. Dinners and dances followed one another in quick succession, and no one was more hospitable to his guests or apparently happier in their company than the gentleman, a colonel.
Account for this as you will, he was indeed a changed man, a rejoicing believer amongst believers, though in his worldly home as gladsome and free as he used to be before his conversion. This manner of life was a great stumbling block to Christians, and no help to his worldly friends, for even they could not respect such inconsistency.
It was evident, however, that God was not pleased, and therefore He sent chastisement upon His child, not in anger, but in love to awaken him to a better mind. One day news reached him of the failure of a bank which swept away a large portion of his ample fortune. It was gone, and there was no remedy. He was taken aback for a little space, but buoyant as a cork he rose above his trouble, and said, “Thank God for what is left. It is only a few horses and servants less. We can get on well enough!”
This blow passed over him, but without having its desired effect.
The next blow was more serious. Amy, his eldest daughter, the belle of the neighbourhood, the charm of society, the best singer and the best dancer, besides being a very handsome girl, was taken ill of a fever. It became more and more serious, until every hope of her recovery was given up.
The poor father in his anguish did all he could to bear his testimony for her soul’s good, but she heeded his warnings as nothing, as Lot’s sons-in-law heeded their father’s.
Poor child. Her mind was running on the world and its amusements to the very last. She talked about what she would do when she recovered, and what others should do till then, and so on.
Alas, she did not recover, but died as she had lived, without God and without salvation.
Her father was distracted with grief, as well he might be, and declared that she was lost for ever, but his wife was most indignant at the idea that such a beautiful girl should be lost!
She endeavoured to console herself with the thought that her darling had gone to heaven. Her worldly friends, if they could be called friends, wrote letters of condolence and tried to comfort her in her sorrow by telling her, “Amy is far better off now.”
The young lady's father knew better than this. He was sure from the teaching of God's Word that there could be no heaven for any unconverted person -- that there is no repentance in the grave, and no forgiveness there.
He saw plainly enough that it could do the departed one no good to say she had gone to heaven, and it might do deadly wrong to his wife and remaining daughter, to let them suppose so.
Yet with all this heavy chastisement and severe discipline, this gentleman was not awakened to see his mistake, or his worldliness of his life.
The next blow came closer home still, for he himself was brought down on a bed of pain and sickness. There he suffered greatly, and in a very short time his life was pronounced to be in imminent danger. He made his will and all other arrangements for his departure, even to his funeral, and then gave up the world.
Obviously it was rather late to give up the world, when it had given him up. However he did, and that thoroughly, and turned to the Lord.
Then it was that his eyes were opened to see the folly and inconsistencies of his life. His repentance was true and real, consequently his sorrow and humiliation before God deep. Humbling himself under the mighty hand of God, he was exalted. From the depths of darkness and abasement he was raised up into joy and gladness. The joy of heaven was the atmosphere of his room.
Now he made it his one concern to speak faithfully to his wife and daughter, and to his servants one by one. He also sent for his acquaintances and neighbours, and frankly told them of his sorrow for his past inconsistent life.
I visited him from time to time, and continually found him rejoicing with joy unfeigned and full of glory. Truly, the joy of God’s presence was with him, so that it was easy to speak or pray or sing in that sick room. I could not help putting the question to him, “Is this really the joy of heaven that you realise?” I did not doubt it myself, but I wanted an admission from him.
“Yes,” he said, “I believe it is, and that to a most unworthy creature.”
“How was it,” I asked, “that you did not have this joy when you were in health and usefulness?”
“Ah,” he replied, “I know what you mean. I allowed the world to come between God and my soul, and that hid His face from me.”
“Yes,” I said, “you are right, it is so. I am quite sure that God would rather His children were joyful in health. It is as easy for Him to shine on them then, as it is in sickness.”
This dear man died rejoicing, but not before he had pleaded earnestly with God for the salvation of his wife and daughter.
He was not, however, permitted to see the answer to his prayers, for they remained hard and rebellious until after the funeral was over. Then, when all was still, their hearts melted, and the one and then the other fell down before God and sought and found pardon and peace.
For a long time, mournful and sad was their life in their broken nest; but for all that, they thanked God continually that He had not forsaken or given them over to their own folly.
Ashamed To Die
I WAS called in haste one day to visit a gentleman who was believed to be dying. I had noticed him in church several times, but latterly I had lost sight of him and did not know where he lived or lodged.
On going into the sick man’s room I recognised him at once, and was sorry to find him looking so ill. In conversation, I soon ascertained that he was concerned more about his soul than his body. He had very little hope for his recovery, but he was not thinking so much about that. His great anxiety was concerning his spiritual state.
I asked him whether he was saved.
He answered, “I thought so when I was hearing you, but I have been so miserable since.”
“Why so?” I inquired. “Tell me, and I will see if I can help you.”
“Yes,” he continued, “I am saved. I was converted years ago. I am not in trouble about my conversion, but here on my deathbed I see that my life has been lost. I have been saving and keeping my life for my own business and pleasure, and now it is gone I can never have these years over again. I am not afraid of death, but I am ashamed to die.”
What could I say to this? How many there are who are selfish enough to take their salvation, and even enjoy it, while they never think of living for God’s service. Like this gentleman, they may not be afraid to die, but they have not yet arrived at being ashamed to die. Such persons will inevitably be ashamed at the Lord’s appearing, to find that they have done nothing for Him who gave up all for them.
I could not help thanking God for my friend. I said to him, “Better late than never. I thank God you have been enabled to see the difference between salvation and life. Salvation is what God gives you, and life is what you give to God. He has shown you, that although you accepted His salvation, you have not given Him your life.”
“Yes, yes, exactly. That is what I feel and regret, particularly now when I have no opportunity to mend it.”
I said, “God does not upbraid us for the past. If He has shown you your fault, it is that He may pardon you; and not only so, He can restore the years the canker-worm has eaten.”
“Thank you so much for this word of cheer,” said the poor gentleman. “Can God … will He … forgive the past?”
“Yes,” I replied, “He can, and He is willing. He wounds to heal, and kills to make alive. What is more, He can yet raise you up and give you a longer continuance here to be a witness to others.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much for this encouragement. But I am ashamed,” said the sick man. “I feel unworthy to ask Him for all that.”
I answered, “I am very glad you feel your unworthiness, and no doubt it is a hundred times worse than you think. It is for this very reason that God has provided the worthiness of Christ for you. You and I are unworthy of the cross, and the shameful death that Christ bore; but He willingly took that place, that His worthiness might be applied to us. ‘He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’” (See 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
“I am overwhelmed with the thought of all this,” said my sick friend. “What can I say or do?”
“Do?” I repeated. “Do the first thing. Ask God to forgive the past, and to bless your dying testimony, if you are called away, to others who are living as you have lived.”
“Yes, that I will,” he said heartily, and at once he made his double petition, with great earnestness and many tears.
I responded with “Amen” from my heart. Then it came to my mind to ask God to raise him up and make him an example of Christian living. We have many witnesses for salvation. Would we had more, but surely we do need witnesses to testify of the reality and power of Christian life.
In prayer I was led to say, “Lord, now that Thou hast opened Thy servant’s eyes to see his past fault, forgive him for Jesus’ sake, and for the same Lord Jesus’ sake raise him up from his bed of sickness, to glorify Thee upon earth.”
The dear man wept very much, and after a little time he interrupted me while I was speaking to him by saying, “I believe that God has forgiven me, and I believe also that He will restore me to health again.”
I said, “Let us then thank Him together. There is nothing too hard for Him to do, and I have reason to testify to His willingness and ability, for He raised me up from a greater sickness than yours many years ago.”
It was a joy to visit that dear man day by day, and to see him gaining strength of body, and better still, gaining strength in the Lord.
"I want to give myself," he said, "a whole thank offering -- spirit, soul, and body -- to be henceforth and for ever the Lord's."
“That is right,” I answered. “Now, do not believe in your giving, but believe in God’s taking. If you believe He has accepted your offering, thank Him for having done so.”
“Do you mean,” asked the gentleman, “that God has taken me already, spirit, soul, and body?”
“Yes, according to your faith. If you only believe in your giving, you are not further on than that; but if you believe in God taking, then you are there, and He has taken you. If I put this book on the table, the table has it.”
“I do not think,” said my friend, looking down, “I half understand about faith. I have much to learn.”
This gentleman was in such a childlike and teachable frame of mind that he was bound to grow and become a happy witness for God.
He left his sick room a new man, full of zeal for God and love for souls, especially for saved souls who were living in neglect of God’s service as he had been. He longed that they also might be brought to live for God. He did not forget the unsaved, or lose an opportunity of urging them to accept salvation; but his specialty was to wake up believers to their privilege of working in the vineyard.
The vineyard should not be confused with the harvest field, or the work of the Evangelist. A vineyard is the place where the vine is cultivated, its branches particularly. These need tending and training, propping and pruning. Young believers should have someone to look after them, and encourage them to abide in the way of the Lord. They should be upheld in the time of temptation and depression, and their young zeal needs to be judiciously and carefully moderated.
This gentleman of whom we have been speaking used to say to every believer he had conversation with, “Give yourself to God as a thank offering. Offer and present yourself a living sacrifice upon the altar, Christ, which sanctifies every gift.”
We want more of such men. May the Lord raise them up.
The Angry Man
I HAD been speaking one day on the power of God to subdue the unruly wills and sinful tendencies of believers. I said that too often people have compassion on the slaves of drink, temper, or any other problems, without having regard to their sin against God. Too often they try to deliver a drunkard from his bad habit, and if they succeed in this effort they think everything is done. But what about the drunkard’s sin against God? Is not this like covering up past sins with successful reformation? Supposing a man succeeds in getting the better of a problem with which he has been habitually sinning before God. Is that enough? Does he not need pardon, as well as deliverance?
At the close of my address an elderly clergyman came forward, and said, “I thank you for your discourse. Let me tell you something which you may use another time as an illustration.
“I inherited a dreadful temper. As a child I was often punished for it, as a boy at school even more severely so, and at college I was shamed again and again for my passionate outbursts. At my conversion I thought to myself, ‘Now my temper is subdued,’ and so it was for a time. I was very happy, and rejoiced not only about the salvation of my soul, but as I supposed for deliverance from my great enemy. But, alas, soon after this my temper reappeared in full force. I found out that though my sins were pardoned, yet the long-desired deliverance had not come.
“After my ordination, I grieve to say I was betrayed into many improprieties of violent temper, for which I had to apologise and sometimes make amends.
“Oh, how earnestly I prayed God to help me to overcome this infirmity, and how often I made resolutions; but all was in vain. Sometimes I had power over my weakness, and rejoiced in being able to control myself under provocation; but I cannot say that I was ever satisfied, or that I was sure I should succeed another time.
‘“How was this?’ you ask. It was because I felt that my temper was still there, boiling within. It was not dead or gone, but only kept under for the time. I continued in prayer, and with many watchful efforts I tried to keep down my enemy.
“One day after a bad outburst of temper I was most dejected. I made supplication with tears, and besought God to help me in my trouble. On that occasion I expected that victory was sure, and that I should have power given me to overcome. I must say that I left my room that morning feeling hopeful.
“As I neared the foot of the stairs I saw a sturdy beggar standing and looking in through the glass panel of the door. He appeared strong and able enough for work, instead of begging. But he may have been a thief looking in to spy out the land. Our eyes met, whereupon I signalled to him to be gone. As he did not move, I shook my head as if to say, ‘I have nothing for you.’ The impudent fellow shook his head too, as much as to say, ‘I will not go.’ In a moment my blood was up and I was boiling with rage. I opened the door and commanded the man to go away instantly.
“The beggar quietly put his foot inside so that I could not shut the door again. He looked at me in the coolest manner, saying, ‘Are you a minister of religion, and send away a poor starving man from your door like that?’ I could not find words to express my indignation, for the man did not look or speak as if he was in a starving condition at all. He stood before me with a provoking insolence which was very irritating. Seeing my anger, he remained cool and said in a whining tone, ‘I’ve not had a taste of victuals or a morsel to eat.’
“I was deaf to his complaint, for I did not believe a word of it. I therefore told him again to go away.
‘“You had much better give me a trifle,’ was his reply, ‘and let me go, than get into that towering passion. You a parson, and with such a temper as that!’
“Immediately I put my hand into my pocket and took out the first coin that came. I think it was a shilling. I gave it to the man, saying, ‘There, go away with you!’
‘“Thank you! Thank you!’ said the provoking beggar, and went away shrugging his shoulders as if he had done a good stroke of business.
“Well, so he had. Even better than he thought. I could have burst into tears with vexation at my weakness and that impudent man’s triumph. Shutting the door, I returned to my study in despair. Kneeling down, I said, ‘O Lord, is there no deliverance for me? Forgive my sin, I beseech Thee, and do deliver me from this temper. I cannot do anything to conquer it. Lord, do Thou save me.’
“When I once let myself go into God’s hands, such a calm thankfulness stole over me. The Lord was present in the power of His love, and it seemed as though He pitied me in my distress. Hot tears flowed from my eyes, and I could do nothing but sob. I felt that my prayer was answered, and my deliverance had come. With grateful love I thanked God, and rose up from my knees.
"All that afternoon I felt as if I had been actually in the Divine presence, and that the Lord had spoken to me. From that day to this, nearly three years, I have had many and often very great provocations. But thank God, I have not been overcome by them. I cannot tell you what has become of my temper -- the Lord has taken it away."
“Praise Him,” I said. “That is exactly like His way of deliverance.”
"Yes, indeed, I do praise Him," said my friend; "and I thank you too. I have learned from your words how the deliverance came to me. I see now that Christ, the risen Lord Himself, was there that afternoon. It was His power alone that released me. I see also why He did not do it before. I never asked Him to forgive my sins, nor did I know of His power to deliver me from my temper. I only asked that He would help me to conquer it myself. How blind I was not to see that the Lord must do it, and He alone -- that we must stand aside and see the glory of God."
The dear man said, “I feel as if I was going over the ground again. The Lord is here showing Himself to me.”
The more I observed this gentleman afterwards, the more confirmed I was of the reality of his story. If he had been an irritable and passionate man before, beyond all doubt he was now most loving and patient, full of compassion for others. His forbearance and gentleness were so striking that it seemed impossible he could ever have been otherwise.
“Oh, the years of misery and trial I have passed through,” he said. “All because I did not know that the Lord was able and willing to give me a complete deliverance!”
Yes, indeed it is so. What multitudes of persons exercise themselves, and labour hard to overcome that which cannot be conquered by self. It is the Lord’s work. Salvation, in every sense of the word, belongs to Him, and to Him only.
The Dumb Devil
WHILE I was on a visit to a clergyman, in course of conversation he said, “I have in my parish a young couple who are lying side by side in their beds, dying of consumption. I cannot get a word from them about their spiritual condition, which greatly troubles me. They speak freely enough about their bodily state, their coughs, and their pains; but not a word about their souls.”
He asked me to call with him and to see them, if they were willing to receive us.
I went with him, and was permitted to enter the sick chamber. On doing so I was surprised to find that the two sick ones were acquaintances of mine. I had known them both before they were married, but since that time I had lost sight of them.
They appeared very pleased to see me again and to talk of old days. Whether it was that they were flushed with animation or what, I do not know; but to me, they looked in blooming health, and their eyes were clear and bright. Notwithstanding this, the poor wasted bodies under the bedclothes told another tale. It was only too true that they were both under sentence of death.
After a little conversation about other things, I said, “God has been very good to me. Since I saw you last, He has saved my soul.”
“Yes,” said the lady, “we heard of that event, and we were very glad about it.”
“I am thankful to hear you say so,” I replied, “for most of my old friends have been very angry with me for being converted! Some have cast me off altogether. Are you converted?”
She was silent.
I then put the question to her in another way, but could get no response. “You would not like to die as you are,” I said, “in an unconverted state, surely?”
“Oh dear, no,” she replied, “I hope not.”
“You know,” I continued, “sickness like yours does not spring out of the ground. It comes from God in love and mercy. If health and happiness have not brought you in submission to Him for salvation, it may be that He is now trying what sickness will do.”
She assented to this, in a general way.
I said, “When I was ill and was told I could not recover, I gave myself up to God. I humbled myself under His mighty hand, and He raised me up. I really gave myself to Him, but not knowing better I went into religiousness and tried to live a holy life. This was not pleasing to God, nor did it satisfy my soul. At length God brought me to see myself a lost sinner, and showed me my need of life before I could live. Oh, it is such a blessed thing to be saved.”
The lady began to cry.
“Shall I tell you,” I said, “how you may be saved?”
She made no reply, but cried the more. Evidently she was struggling with some difficulty. At last, with considerable effort, she said, “I am saved.”
“Thank God!” I exclaimed. “Glory be to God!”
It was such a relief to me, for her silence had greatly perplexed me. Bending forward I whispered, “Is your husband saved, too? You said just now, with reference to my conversion, ‘We were glad.’”
“I do not know,” she gasped with some difficulty.
The gentleman having overheard this question and answer, I turned to him, and said, “Well, friend, what do you say? Are you saved?”
“Yes,” he replied,” thank God, I am.”
His wife gave an involuntary scream of joy, and put out her hand to reach his bed, and he did the same. It was very touching to see these two sick ones look at one another.
I said, “How is it that you have kept this good news to yourselves so long?”
“I do not know,” answered the wife, still crying.
Anyway, the secret was out now that they both had sought and found the Lord many months before. It appeared that there was no reason in the world, unless it was fear or shame, why they should have kept silence. The vicar had often tried to draw them out, but in the presence of one another they were afraid to speak.
Actually for months these two sick ones had been lying side by side, talking of every subject they could think of, excepting the one that was nearest their hearts. How they might have been rejoicing, and encouraging one another in the Lord all this time!
Our tongues were made to speak with, as surely as our hearts were made to love, but God did not give us tongues to speak to everyone but Himself, and about everything but His love. Satan knows the importance of using the tongue for God, and to God, and therefore he possesses as many as he can with a dumb devil. He also knows the importance to believers of speaking to one another about the things of God, and so he does all he can to hinder them.
This dumb devil being cast out of these two afflicted Christians, with joy they began to communicate with one another. The lady told her experience, and the gentleman his, and we all talked happily together of the love of God.
The sick ones were full of such joyful animation that I began to fear we might be overdoing our visit, so rose up to go.
“Oh, do not go yet,” they both said. “We are none the worse.”
The gentleman added, “It has done us both good. I feel ever so much better!”
It is so. The Spirit does quicken the poor weak body very often. Nothing can cheer the sick and disconsolate like the love of God.
However, we thought it well to go, and so after thanksgiving and prayer we took leave, promising to call again.
Walking home with the vicar, he said, “Do you know, I think that I must be possessed with the dumb devil, as you call it. I never told of my conversion in my life!”
“Thank God,” I said. “I do believe your dumb devil is going too. Tell me now, how and when you were brought to God.”
He said, “My conversion was the turning point of my life, and in more ways than one. Before I was convicted and converted to God, I was going into the army. After that, I went to college and entered the ministry, but I have often thought since that I mistook my calling in doing so.”
“Not at all,” I interrupted. “Your calling is right enough, but the dumb devil has hindered your usefulness. You have been ministering without witnessing, and that is why you are discouraged. God would have all His children ministers and witnesses, especially those in an official position. Now, do let the dumb devil go freely, and begin forthwith to tell what the Lord has done for you.”
This was a new era in the vicar’s life, and also in the work in his parish. The following day, we went again to see our sick friends, and this time the vicar told us his experience: how he also had been held by the dumb devil, and how he became free.
It pleased God to spare these two for several months, during which time the vicar had happy communion with them before they passed away in joyful anticipation of meeting again, where partings will be unknown.
“I Have Given Up Religion.”
ONE evening I was speaking of the risen Christ as the Great Physician of the soul. In the course of my address I said, “The Great Physician, the Risen Christ, is present now to heal all manner of diseases. Many persons, however sincere they may be, are not aware that they have a sin-sick soul to be healed, as well as many sins to be pardoned.
“Suppose the case of a criminal under sentence of death. This is a picture of every unsaved soul. Such a man needs but one thing, while execution is deferred. What is it? It is his pardon, and with it, of course, his life. There is such a pardon provided for every sinner and new life too, through believing in Jesus Christ.
“Let us suppose further that the condemned criminal is not only guilty, but sick. It is easy to understand that pardon and release could not cure his sickness. He might be very happy for a time, and perhaps forget his malady, but eventually he will need a physician.
“So it is with all pardoned sinners. They may rejoice greatly for a time, but then start to find out the sickness of their souls. Such as these usually do their best to cure themselves, or else they use crutches and every available help. Or otherwise give up in disappointment, if not despair.
“The fact is, they need a Physician to heal, as surely as they needed a Saviour to pardon; but they do not know there is ‘balm in Gilead’, and a Physician there.”
After the address a number of people stayed behind for an after-meeting, and I went down to speak with them. The first person I fell in with was a gentleman who appeared to be thoughtful, and seemed somewhat depressed. I asked him whether he was saved.
Looking up into my face, he said, “I cannot say I am not. I have been listening attentively this evening to your address, and I think I may say that I was saved fourteen years ago. But I have had a wretched time of it since that. I have had more temptations than ever I had before, and more trials of every kind. I thought I had found peace, but it has been a sword! My soul has been sick indeed, and full of discouragement, so much so that I have given up religion altogether.”
I was not sorry to hear this confession, though I felt for the poor man. I said to him, “Have you taken up anything else in the place of religion?”
“Yes,” he answered, “I have occupied myself with the temperance cause. I took up that, and do all the good I can. I never say a word about religion, but I tell you what,” he continued, “I have heard something tonight which I never knew before.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“It is about Christ as the Physician of the sick soul. I see plainly enough how He died to save, and now I understand also how as a living Saviour He can minister to sin-sick believers. That is good news to me, I can tell you.”
“Thank God for that,” I replied. “But what is the good of knowing about this?”
“Why,” he answered, “did I not kneel down then and there, when I heard what you said, and give myself up to the Great Physician. I am sure He will heal me.”
“You dear man,” I said, “if you believe He will, it is done! What more do you want? Many people believe He can heal them, and there they stop; but when you come to Him believing that He will, it is done.”
“I do not understand you,” said the gentleman, looking perplexed.
I said, “Those ten men we read of in Saint Luke’s Gospel who were lepers, believed that Jesus Christ could heal them, and they showed their faith when they had the opportunity by calling on the Master to have mercy on them. The Lord seemed to say to them, ‘Do you believe that I can cleanse such a hopeless disease as leprosy?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ was the reply. ‘What would you do if I did heal you?’ ‘We would go and show ourselves to the priest’ ‘Then,’ said the Lord, ‘go and show yourselves to the priest.’
“In the reality of their faith they set off to go, while the leprosy was still present. They did not wait until they were better, or wait to feel that they were healed first. They went forward, and we read that as they went they were cleansed, every one of them (Luke 17). Do you comprehend the teaching of this?”
“Yes,” he said, “I think I understand your meaning.”
“Then, if you really believe Christ is here, and is able and willing to heal you, do not wait, but do as you would if you were healed. Thank Him for it, say
‘Hallelujah, ‘tis done,
I believe in the Son,
I am cleansed through the life
Of the crucified One.’”
“Oh, it is wonderful,” he said. “I am sure it is done. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. He forgiveth all my iniquities, and healeth all my diseases. I never saw this before!”
The dear man’s joy was unbounded.
The next morning he came to me, and said, “Fourteen years ago I heard you preach. I wished to go again but was hindered, and then you went away. I was very unhappy about it, but turning to my notes of your address I saw the way of salvation, and readily embraced it. I was happy, very happy for a time; but as I have already told you, it was not long before temptations and trials beset me very sorely. I began to think that I had made a mistake in thus supposing I was saved. Not finding help, in my discouragement I at length gave up religion and would not think or speak about it.”
“Were you content,” I asked, “in thus throwing aside your privileges and responsibilities?”
“Oh dear no,” he answered. “Far from that, I have been anything but content. Sometimes I have been most miserable, and at others as cold and dead as a stone. When I heard you were coming here, I determined I would hear you again. Strange to say, on Sunday I was hindered. The next day I could not come, and the day following, that is yesterday, it snowed and rained so hard that my friends said I must not go. Very reluctantly I took off my boots, but felt so wretched that I put them on again. I said, ‘I must go, even if I get up to my neck in snow.’ Thank God, I did! My soul is happy again, and set free from a long captivity.”
“Now friend,” I said, “remember that there were ten lepers who were cleansed, but only one of the ten came back and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. The Lord said, ‘Where are the nine?’ Do not be like them, but come at once and cast yourself at His feet. Give yourself to Him for His work, and may He bless you greatly.”
This gentleman was most grateful, and became a helper to me during that mission. After I left, he went on with work for the Lord as he had opportunity, praising God not only with his lips, but in his life.
ONE day in the course of an address I was giving to young believers, I was telling how I began to work, in my first zeal. I spoke of myself, because too often believers are touchy and do not like being “shown up,” as they call it.
I said, “I used to sit down and plan what I would say, and how I would say it. I consulted men and books to confirm me in my work, and of course asked the Lord to help me carry it out to the best of my ability.
“I knew of no other way. Therefore I went on, thinking it was my duty to persevere through many discouragements, both within and without.
“In the midst of my many undertakings, God awakened me to see that I was doing my own will, instead of His. During all this time I was under the delusion that I was serving my Master in heaven!
“Imagine a servant sitting down to plan what he would like to do, and asking his master now and then to come and help him. Or imagine a pen getting up to write your letters, and asking you to hold it up while it went on writing its own thoughts. You could not trust such a pen as that, and would be afraid to use it. In the same way God cannot trust believers who go about to do their own will, neither can He use them to carry out His purposes.”
A friend who had been sitting still while I spoke about the pen, passed it by for the time as if he had not heard it. Perhaps like many others he did not hear what I said. However, one midnight he was heard roaring with laughter in his bed. Some of his household were awakened, and naturally came to his door to inquire what was the matter.
“I cannot sleep,” said the gentleman, “for thinking about Haslam’s pen.” Then he set off laughing again. “It is a funny conceit, to be sure,” he continued, “but wonderfully true.”
What a number of earnest people there are just like that pen. They are working their own will, and verily think that are doing God’s service.
My friend could look back on the time when he himself was exactly like that extraordinary pen, though at the time he was not aware of it.
The Lord says, plainly enough, “Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” “Oh yes,” says the branch, “I think I can do something. I will try and do my best”
But how can a branch be fruitful, or even live, except it abide in the vine, and the sap of the vine abide in it? Our dwelling in Christ is not enough, except for our safety and keeping; but when He dwells in us, He makes us to bring forth much fruit.
The Lord’s teaching on this subject is very clear, but notwithstanding this it is surprising how commonly people make resolutions and ask God to help them carry them out.
A gentleman had for a long time been striving in this way, continually begging God that He would give him a stock of grace whereby he might accomplish his purposes. He had many schemes in his mind for promoting the glory of God and the good of the people, therefore thought his prayers demanded an answer.
Not receiving the encouragement he looked for, he was getting disheartened. Other people were working successfully, who he thought were not half so well instructed as himself, or so efficient, while he met with little else than disappointment.
Notwithstanding this, he persevered in pleading for strength and grace. Instead of giving him strength and grace, God was answering his prayer in a far better way than he asked; that was, by showing him his own weakness and inability to do anything.
He did not understand at the time, that this is the way in which God answers such petitions.
This gentleman heard a sermon one morning, during which the preacher pointed out the difference between an agent and an instrument. How the one is deputed to act, while the other is only used to do the work. God once deputed Adam, but Adam failed, and since then He has not trusted poor weak man any more.
Better than this, in His love He has found a substitute in His own beloved Son. He has given Jesus Christ to be His Agent, to accomplish all the great purposes of His love towards the world.
The Lord Jesus came as willingly as He was sent, and by His death He has already made atonement towards God, and by His resurrection He has conquered our enemies. Now He has all power in heaven and on earth, and no one else has power, or may be entrusted with it.
As the Omnipotent One, instead of doing all the work Himself, He desires the fellowship of His believing people. For this purpose He requires that they should be His instruments to carry out His work for the glory of God and the good of men.
The light flashed into this gentleman’s mind. He saw not only where he had been wrong, but what was right.
After the service he came into the vestry in a very excited state, and said with much animation, “Thank you, thank you very much for that word. I never saw before the difference between an agent and an instrument. I have for several years been praying to be made God’s agent, instead of giving up myself to be Christ’s instrument. I have been trying to take Christ’s place, and God would not let me have it. I see it all now.
“I am a stockbroker in London,” he continued, “and people entrust me with money to invest for them. I am their agent, but I have clerks under me who do the work. How could I make such a mistake?
“But,” he went on to say, “most of you preachers tell us to do the very thing you forbid. How is that? They tell us to make resolutions, do our best, and ask God to help us.”
“Yes,” I said, “I am afraid this is true of a great many. But if man’s teaching is not according to the Word of God, you are not bound to receive it. Can you show me anywhere in Scripture that we are told to ‘make resolutions’ and ‘to do our best’? On the other hand, are we not told to cease from our own works? Again, ‘help,’ does not mean God supplementing our deficiencies, but His doing the work altogether.”
This gentleman went away saying, “I see now that our grace is in Christ, not from Him -- that when we abide in Him, and He in us, then we have what He has."
I replied, “Such is the teaching of God’s Word.”
My friend came into a liberty and blessing which made him one of the most useful of men. He has now no burdens, they are the Lord's -- no anxieties or troubles in his work, for that too, is the Lord's work. He is a pen in the hand of a ready writer -- a conscious pen, knowing the joy it is communicating to others.
The Torn Book
“DO you think a person can give his will to God?” inquired a lady.
I answered, “Yes, as surely as He can give anything else.”
“Well, I find it very difficult. I cannot do it.”
I said, “It is as easy as giving your heart to God, and you have done that, have you not?”
“Y-e-s,” she said, as if hesitating and undecided. “I have done that, and I mean it; but it does not go. Sometimes I think my heart has gone, and then I find that it has not.”
I said, “You are like a person looking two ways. You should remember that when you give a thing, it is not yours any more. Suppose you give me a book, then it is mine. You cannot give it again.”
“Yes, that is very clear; but giving my heart to God does not seem quite like that.”
“When you give your heart you should let it go, regarding it as gone, and apply yourself to and for the object to which you have given it. You will soon find out that it has gone, as you call it, and sometimes beyond recovery.”
“I wish mine would go like that, I am sure,” she said thoughtfully.
"Worldly people," I continued, "give their hearts to pleasure, and see how they are taken up with it -- so much so that they are miserable without a constant whirl of gaiety. We were not made for this world, but for God, and only the things of God can satisfy the soul."
“I agree with you,” said the lady. “There are times when I am so taken up with the Lord Jesus that I wonder how I could ever think of anything else. But …”
There she paused. I said, “Think of the Lord Jesus, read about Him, speak to Him, and you will soon find that He can possess your soul. Believe more in His taking than in your giving, and you will then feel and know that your heart is not your own.”
“I am sure you are right,” she said. “I have felt like that more than once.”
“Feeling,” I replied, “is a result produced by a cause. If I touch a thing, I feel it; but if I cease to touch, I cease to feel. While you believe, you feel; when you cease to believe, you cease to feel.”
“Yes, that seems clear enough, and I wish it was always as clear as that with me.”
I said, “Now you can understand why you find it so hard to give your will to God. The heart and the will act and react upon one another. When you give your heart to God, and let your will go after something else, it drags the heart back. Whereas if you let your will go after the Lord, to whom you have given your heart, you will find that they help one another greatly.”
“Thank you very much,” said the lady cheerfully. “You make me laugh, it all seems so clear. But at times it is very dark for all that. You are like a conjuror.”
“Excuse me,” I said, “but you are like a shuttlecock, driven hither and thither. You should be more like the weathercock, which is always steady and true to the wind.”
“I can see what you mean,” she said, “how people are driven hither and thither if they have not Christ to guide them.”
“Yes,” I said; “it is very sad to see believers thinking and acting, everyone according to his or her own conscience, instead of according to the will of God. What is a man’s conscience but his own will?”
“I see that,” she said; “and that is why I wish to give up my own will to follow the Lord fully.”
“Thank God for that,” I replied. “But mark, being willing to do a thing is not doing it. The Prodigal Son was willing to arise and go his father, but for all that, he remained where he was. While he was willing and resolving he had no deliverance; but when he actually arose to go, then his father ran to meet him. Wishing to give your will up to God is good, but giving it up outright is far better.”
“Oh, I wish I could remember this,” said the lady. “It sounds so true while you are speaking it, but alas I fear that it will all pass away again.”
I replied, “That is because you are trying to remember it, instead of acting on it. Act on it at once. Strike while the iron is hot.”
"I will," she said emphatically. "I do -- Lord, help me."
“Amen,” I said. “Now, believe it is done, and act accordingly.”
After prayer, she went away to pray and read by herself. The following morning I saw her again. No one could be happier. She said she had been singing
“Sound the loud timbrel
o’er Egypt’s dark sea;
Jehovah has triumphed,
His people are free.”
The happiness of those who give their wills to God is deeper and more abiding than those who only give their hearts to Him. We must not suppose however, that this happiness is one which is exempt from changes or trials.
My young friend came to me again at another time, looking very miserable and ready to cry.
“What is the matter now?” I inquired.
“Oh,” she said, with a sigh, “I do not think my will is gone after all!”
“What makes you think that?” I asked.
“Why, I find myself wishing and longing for things I know I ought not to desire; but still I cannot help wishing for them.”
I said, “Such trials are permitted to test our sincerity and faith. Let me tell you a story, which may help you. When my children were young, a friend gave them a book of Aesop’s fable, with beautiful woodcuts. They played with the book, and delighted in pointing out the animals and birds pictured in it. With constant use the book was sadly torn, and many of the leaves were missing. Another friend who was collecting woodcuts, said, ‘Give me that torn book and I will give the children an indestructible one in its place, printed on calico.’ I agreed with thanks, and gave him the book. The cover was complete, but the inside was not.
“This gentleman believed in my giving him the book, and took it away. For weeks after this we were continually finding stray leaves belonging to the same book, some on a shelf, and some in drawers and other places. I did not cry at the discovery of these stray leaves, or wish to give the book to my friend again, or suppose I had not given it. The sight of the torn leaves rather reminded me that the book had been given, and therefore I put the leaves which belonged to it aside for their rightful owner.”
“I like that story,” said the lady, “and I think it will help me to remember what you tell me.”
I said, “God permits us to be tried, to prove what is in our hearts; whether we will continue in the act of surrender we have made, or nullify that and make another. If you do this, you will never get on any more than a man building a house would get on if he pulled up the foundation every time he came to a difficulty. Having once laid the foundation, he goes on through every discouragement, and so the building advances.
“Do likewise, and you will find that it is not necessary to give your heart or will to the Lord again and again. He would not ask for your heart if He did not intend to take it, or bid you follow Him if He did not desire to be your Guide all the way from earth to heaven.”
AS surely as Lazarus came out of his grave with grave clothes on him, so surely all converts come from death into life with some difficulties or entanglement about them, in which they were held before.
Some people are bound up with worldly ways, and cannot live without them. Others are taken up with themselves and have conscientious scruples which they think must be attended to, as if their eternity depended on it. Others are immersed in religious exercises, which they believe they must observe and do in order to be saved. They regard the sacraments and ordinances of religion as absolutely necessary for salvation.
A lady I have in my mind at the present time was so absorbed with this idea, that she was ignorant of any other way of obtaining what she called grace, excepting by the use of means. She was like the woman of Samaria who went to the well to draw water.
I said to her, “Do you get rest and peace by your efforts?”
“Yes,” she answered, “most assuredly I do.”
“How long does it last?” I inquired.
“Oh, I do not know about that. I have to do it again and again, and keep on supplying myself.”
“Exactly so,” I replied. “That is what the Lord said to the woman at the well: ‘If you drink of this water (which you draw) you will thirst again; but the water which I will give you shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:14).
The lady made no reply, so I continued, “Are you really satisfied with this doing of yours?”
“Yes,” she answered, “I am. There is a satisfaction in doing, which I could not have if I had nothing to do.”
She was evidently struck with the difference between drawing water for herself, and receiving living water as an abiding gift from the Lord Himself. Being an earnest soul, she was prejudiced in favour of her own views and practices. Yet underneath all this there was something else which was stronger than her prejudices. She really desired the Lord’s will more than her own. Therefore she had no difficulty in asking for this living water.
The Lord, knowing her wants better than she did, opened her eyes to see herself a sinner. Hitherto she had considered herself good, and religious, and was so regarded among her friends. But the Lord made no account of her religious exercises and self-denials.
When Saul of Tarsus was seeking for mercy, God said, “Behold, he prayeth!” (Acts 9:11), as if to imply that all his past prayers and prolonged exercises were nothing at all.
From the sorrows of conviction, this lady was brought to conversion with its consequent joy and thankfulness. She was now conscious of possessing something she never had before -- something she had been wanting, though she did not know what it was. With this new experience, she said to herself, "Now I know how to walk in liberty." But for all this, she went on depending on her exercises -- not for salvation this time, but for progress in her Christian life.
Again I reminded her of the difference between drawing from a well, and receiving from a living person. I endeavoured to show her that we are not only justified by faith, but that the just live by faith also.
This was the hardest struggle of all. In her perplexity, instead of going direct to the Lord as she had done before for pardon, she went to a man who called himself a “priest of God.” Dear man, he did not mean to mislead or deceive her, any more than he desired to deceive himself.
This gentleman directed my friend, who was now on the threshold of spiritual liberty, to go back to deeper and closer vows of religious bondage and legality. He forbade her speaking to anyone about these matters, but told her simply to follow his directions.
By giving her conscience to be kept by another, she professed to have peace, and went on with her works of devotion. This was accounted the right thing.
The question may be asked, How could this lady, if she was really converted, fall back again to these “beggarly elements”? If she had never known the difference between the way of works and the way of faith, there might have been some excuse for her; but why should she take to crutches when she might follow the Lord freely?
It is a very important thing to distinguish between spiritual death and religious grave clothes. Because a person is brought out of one, it does not follow that he or she is yet free from the other. Otherwise the Lord would not have said, “Loose him, and let him go,” to the people who saw the living Lazarus standing before them.
When converts go back to legality, we suppose that they were never really out of it. Like those who go back from apparent conversion, we say that they were not really converted, “For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).
How was it possible to get at this lady, according to the Lord’s command, and loose her grave clothes? She was so well guarded on every side, and so fortified against all comers by her spiritual director, that humanly speaking it was hopeless. But God knows how to deliver His own.
It pleased Him to lay her on a bed of sickness, and there she occupied her time in reading the Bible. One morning she closed the book to meditate on the words she had been reading, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). “Who does this mean,” she said to herself, “if it is not me? Can Christ give me rest direct from Himself?”
She came from “Can Christ?” to “Christ can,” to “Christ will,” to “Christ has done it!” Her eyes were opened, so was the door of her cage, and she flew out as a bird into liberty.
Now she said to herself, as if she had never heard it before, “The just shall live by faith, not works.”
She was right. Works are on the other side of faith -- the result and token that faith is living.
A tree does not live by bearing fruit, but bears fruit because it lives.
This lady was amazed at the simplicity of faith when once she had entered into it. She found out that the Lord’s yoke was easy because He enabled her to bear it, and that His burden was light, for she loved to carry it.
Of course it followed that she was denounced as a fanatic, heretic, and so on, but this did not take away her peace or interrupt her joy.
Without loss of time she was sent adrift from the position which she occupied, lest she should “contaminate” other birds in that cage.
It was naturally a great struggle for her to tell me what she had passed through. However, she did this, and I could not help rejoicing at the marvellous manner in which the Lord Himself had delivered His child from bondage, and brought her to walk with Him in the liberty of God’s children.
That Umbrella Did It!
WHAT multitudes sit in darkness and in the shadow of death without a thought of imminent danger. Though they know life is so uncertain, and the future dark, yet they go on as if they did not care for these things. There are others besides, and they are a great many in these days of light, who have had a taste of liberty and joy, but somehow they have lapsed into bondage again. We call these backsliders.
John Bunyan represents them as persons in an iron cage, implying that they are living captives rather than dead souls. Dead people are not put into cages. In every mission, and in every place of inquiry, we find such persons. The question is, What is to be done with them, and for them?
There was a man with a sad countenance sitting in the corner of a pew at church. At the after-meeting, as he was still there, among others, I went up and spoke to him, but received no answer. I told him that I could do nothing for him if he did not tell me his case. I said, “How am I to know where you are, or what you want?”
He muttered something to the effect, “You can do me no good, nor any of you.”
“But God can,” I replied, “if you will speak out.”
He shook his head, so I passed on to talk to others who were waiting.
The following evening he was in the same place, and appeared to be very much in the same frame of mind. His countenance, if anything, was harder and sadder than before.
I said, “There you are again. I am glad you are sitting in the same corner. I know where to find you.”
He made no reply, nor did he even look up. I said, “If you went to a doctor and remained as silent as this, you would pay your guinea, or perhaps two guineas, for nothing. Probably the doctor would show you out and call in another patient.”
Still he made no answer. I continued, “I only hope you are not as deaf as you are silent. You have heard words and cheering hymns tonight.”
“No,” he said, “there is no cheer for me. The words only condemn me more.”
“I am thankful to hear that,” I said. “Perhaps you will have to be worse before you are better, and then you will be compelled to cry out.”
“What,” he said, looking round, “cry out before all these people?”
"Yes, certainly -- anywhere."
He shook his head, and again subsided.
I said, “If you prefer to be quiet, and you are thus led, be as quiet as you please; but whatever else you do, yield yourself to God so that He may do as He will with you.”
He still looked down, so I went away, intending to come again to him later on.
I was so much engaged with other anxious persons that I could not get back before he thought it necessary to go away.
The next evening I looked towards his corner, and there he was. I took courage at this, but all in vain. He would not utter a word, and went away as dismal as he came. The following evening he was not in his place, and I regretted that his name and address had not been taken, for I had become interested in him. On returning home however, I heard that he had been in church, though I had not seen him.
The fifth evening I approached him again. He said, “You made me feel very miserable when you passed me last night, without a word.”
I answered, “I did not see you, but what is the good of speaking to you when I get no response? It is like shooting in the dark.”
“Oh, it is dark enough,” he said. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Do?” I repeated. “Do nothing but believe on Him who has done and finished all.”
As he again subsided, I was constrained to speak somewhat sharply. This did not rouse him any more than smoother words. At last I handed him over to my dear wife who was passing by at the moment. She elicited from him that he was a backslider. I had begun to suspect it was so, but when she told me this I went back and asked him what he was doing about his backsliding?
“Oh, I do everything I can,” was his reply. “I pray and read, and ask for mercy over and over again, but God will not have mercy on me any more.”
“Is this so?” I said. “Why, I could not be as hard as that. Do you want me to believe that God is worse than I am? That will not do with me. Have you been asking God to convert you again?”
He nodded assent.
“And have you promised never to backslide any more?”
He nodded again.
I said, “These are two good reasons why your prayers are not answered. Tell me when and how you were converted.”
He replied, “It was more than three years ago. I stood fast, firm, and happy for more than a year, then I fell into sin. I asked God to forgive me, and He did. I am sure of that, but I fell again, and went on. Then I gave up prayer, and left off going to services and meetings. I felt like a man who was given over, and could get no pardon again. My wife said to me, ‘If that is all religion can do for a man, don’t talk to me about it.’”
I said, “There is a text in Scripture for a man like you, which does not fit anyone else: ‘I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from them’ (Hosea 14:4). Read that carefully when you go home and ask God, on your knees, what it means, and whether it refers to you. You have made two mistakes. First, you suppose that God can convert people twice. Secondly, that you can keep yourself. It is like this,” I said, taking my umbrella in my hand. “Look here.” So saying, I put my finger on the point of my umbrella. “Suppose that is the door, or the place and time when you were converted, and that you walked with God, say for two years.” I passed my hand upward, along the umbrella. “You came to this place, and here you fell. You know how. Here is the gap in the hedge of the narrow way where you broke out. Do you see? Now God cannot forget all the way He led you those two years. But you have been passing them over altogether, going back to the place where you started originally. That will not do. You must come back to the gap here, where you slid back. Here ask God to forgive you, and heal your backsliding.”
For the first time I saw a ray of hope in the man’s countenance. I said, “Do you understand what I mean?”
“Yes, I do,” he answered, looking up into my face at last.
I said, “Now, let us pray.” After a short prayer, I bid him go home and have a definite transaction with God about his case.
The next day my wife brought the man up to me again, but his face was so changed I did not know him.
“Yes,” he said, “thank God, it is all right. It was that umbrella that did it. I saw it all quite clear.”
There was no necessity to cross-examine him. I said, “Now trust God to keep you in future. You fell, because you tried to keep yourself.”
“Thank you,” he replied. “God bless you.” Then he added, “I have my wife here. Will you come and speak to her?”
A very little conversation brought her to the point of decision. She broke down and said that she was the cause of her husband’s backsliding. “Tell God that too,” I said, “and ask Him to forgive you everything, and to change your heart. It is His will that husband and wife should be one in soul, as well as in body.”
She found peace with God before she left the church, and went away rejoicing together with her husband.
The Crown of Peace
I WAS pressed in spirit one morning to go to a certain cottage. At the time this impulse came to me, I was much engaged and interested in a profitable book I was reading. Besides, I thought that this call could not be of God, for the young woman who lived in that place was a determined opposer of the truth. At times she was rude, and even violent towards those who professed to believe it, particularly since her husband had been converted.
However, the pressure was so urgent that I could not attend to my book any longer. I therefore put on my hat and set off for the cottage. On my way there I thought to myself, “There must be some reason for all this woman’s opposition.” Yet I felt somewhat hopeless as to my errand, for she had said so often, “The like of you ain’t a-going to convert me.”
I found her at home, sitting by the fire with some needlework in her hands, and a baby’s cradle nearby. “Good morning,” I said pleasantly, “you are settled to work, I see.”
“Yes,” she answered, without asking me to be seated, “and I have a lot more to do besides this.”
I asked her whether she was at the meeting the previous evening.
“Yes,” she said, “I was there, but I don’t go a bit with that there singing, and praying, and all that.”
“Is it not well to see people happy and rejoicing?” I asked.
“I do not believe them, I tell you,” she answered. “I knows them better than you do.”
I said, “If you know better than we do, you should do better, and show us how to improve ourselves.”
As the conversation went on, she became short and uneasy, and began to poke the fire and to sweep the hearth. She made such a noise with her violent efforts that I was obliged to wait. Besides this, the dust she raised was making me sneeze.
“Do sit down,” I said as I stood by. “You have done up the hearth very well.”
She sat down, but began to rock the cradle vigorously. I quietly suggested that the baby was asleep and did not need rocking.
“I don’t care for any more talk,” she said. “I’ve had enough of that.”
This was very evident, but nevertheless I persevered, and said, “Did you hear your husband praying last night in the meeting? He prayed for you, if I remember right. And didn’t you hear him sing? The Lord has given you a new husband. Now, is it not better for you to go to heaven with him, than to go to hell by yourself. He is not going that way at all.”
“Oh,” she answered, “I knows him well enough. That fit won’t last long, I tell yer.”
“Then,” I said, “if that is likely to be the case, there is the greater reason why you should give your heart to God, that you may help him to hold on his way. It is a blessed thing to be on the way to heaven.”
Turning round, I beheld an elderly woman sitting by the window, a silent listener to the conversation which had taken place. Speaking to her, I said, "Is not that true -- it is a blessed thing to be on the way to heaven?"
“Oh, she’s no good,” said the younger woman. “She ain’t going that way. She’s a backslider, she is.”
“Is that so?” I asked.
“Yes,” the elderly woman replied. “I was happy once, but it is all gone.”
“How long were you happy?” I inquired.
“For more than three years, and then I fell into sin. I have been very miserable ever since.”
“Why did you not ask the Lord to forgive you, when you fell?”
“That’s no use,” she said. “I’ve got a bad habit, and I can’t get clear of it anyhow.”
“If that is the case, you ought to ask the Lord not only to forgive you your sin, but to deliver you from that bad habit.”
“No, sir, it’s no use, He won’t do it. It can’t be,” she said with much emotion.
“Then,” I continued, “do you mean to die like that?”
“No,” she replied, “I hope not; but I can’t help myself at all.”
“Were you at the meeting last night?”
“Yes, I was,” she answered. “I like to go to such places, though I never gets any good. I was fine and glad though to hear my boy, Richard, break out in prayer last night, that I was.”
“Did you hear him singing this with us?
‘Though we’re sinners, everyone,
And though our crown
of peace is gone,
“You know from experience that Jesus died for sinners, and have found the first line true. Why not go to Him again? You will find the second line true also. ‘Our crown of peace is gone;’ that is for backsliders like you, for sinners have no crown of peace. You know you had it once. The remedy for it is the same, as the remedy for sinners: ‘Jesus died.’ ‘It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,’ whether they be saved or unsaved sinners. He can save, and He alone. If you have found Him once, you will find Him again, willing and ready as ever.
‘Though we’re sinners, everyone,
And though our crown
of peace is gone,
We may be washed
from every stain,
We may be crowned
with peace again,
And in that land
of pleasure reign:
“Come,” I said, “let us sing this verse.”
We sang it, and sang it again. Then the elderly woman went down on her knees and began to beg the Lord to restore her soul, and save her from her backsliding.
“Yes,” I said, “the Lord can do that, and He can deliver you from your bad habit, whatever it is, and keep you in the future.”
After a little more prayer and thanksgiving she rose up from her knees, and said, “The Lord has healed my soul. I believe He will keep me, praise God! To think of all the years I have been in darkness and misery, and now the Lord has brought me out. Hallelujah!”
She did rejoice, and so did I. While we were thus engaged, I looked behind me, and there was her daughter-in-law on her knees, with her face buried in her hands.
I immediately went and knelt by her side, and speaking kindly I asked if I should pray with her. As she did not refuse, or resist as at other times, I prayed, and then asked her to speak in prayer that I might see where she was.
It came out that she was very unhappy, that her husband Dick was “going off to heaven,” and leaving her behind.
I said, “I am sure he would like you to come along with him to heaven. It is better for you to come with him than for him to be lost with you. You would not like him to be lost, would you? Come, yield yourself to God. He cannot save you until you do that. That is all He is waiting for.”
“I do give up,” she said, bursting into tears. “O Lord, save me. Oh my, how miserable I have been. I did not know what to do. I prayed the Lord to send someone, and when I saw you coming I thought, ‘Here is the answer;’ and yet I behaved that rude to you. O Lord, save me!”
“Amen and amen,” I said. “I am sure He will.”
The Lord did save her that morning, and her husband's prayer was answered -- for himself, his wife, and his mother also. From this time, all these three went forward on their way rejoicing, cheering and encouraging one another.
I went home, wondering at the way of the Lord, and thanking Him for using me. I could not help adding, “Lord, do not mind my reluctance to leave my book or any other employment, when Thou hast a work for me to do. Constrain and compel me to obey Thee, for that is my will in the matter.”
I went despairing of one, and the Lord gave me two souls that morning!
If I had exercised more faith, I might have remembered Richard’s prayer in the meeting the night before, and gone away in good faith. After this time, I always had a warmer and a better welcome in that house, and a chair placed for me to sit on.
“Coming, is He?”
MY old friend Billy Bray, of Cornwall, was a right down happy soul. He was always singing and rejoicing, not only in voice but in every gesture of his body. He had a theory that if he praised God with his mouth only, at the resurrection he would be like those things on the tombstones, all mouth and wings. If he clapped with his hands, he would rise with a pair of hands; but what a funny thing he said he would be with mouth and hands! But if he danced on his feet, then he would rise complete, and men would see what the dear Lord could make of poor Billy Bray.
There was some inkling of truth in this quaint and facetious saying. The good fellow intended to give himself up entirely to the Lord forever, and he had done it.
Miss Havergal expressed a like sentiment in more refined language, in her hymn:
“Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise;
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my king;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.”
These two children of God undoubtedly meant the same thing, but Billy’s theology was not so Scriptural, for it never rose higher than singing about going to heaven, or to Canaan as he called it, when he died. His continual theme was:
“Canaan is a happy place
I’m bound for the land of Canaan.”
While singing these words he used to clap his hands and dance with joy. I had again and again to show him that Christian hope does not consist in going to heaven merely, anymore than resting in the grave. It consists rather in the coming of the Lord to change the body of humiliation, and to make it a glorious body like his own.
“Oh, that will be grand,” he exclaimed. “‘Our face, like His, shall shine. Oh what a glorious company, when the saints and angels join.’ Oh, that will be joyful, when we arrive at home.”
His words more frequently flowed in the words of hymns than in those of Scripture. I seldom tried to teach him anything, but what he immediately went off, expressing himself in the lines of some hymn or traditional chorus. Very often these favourite verses of his were sadly unscriptural, but Billy did not know this.
On one occasion I asked him what is meant by all the fighting we read about in the land of Canaan. "What fighting do you mean?" he asked. "There's no fighting in the sweet fields of Eden on the other side of Jordan. No poverty there -- the saints are all wealthy. No sickness there, no fighting, sure enough."
Then the incorrigible man began to sing again -
“I’m bound for the land of Canaan -
Canaan is a happy place,
I’m bound for the land of Canaan.”
All my efforts to enlighten him on this subject seemed hopeless. The glorious truth of the coming of the Lord to change us is something which we can only fully apprehend under the quickening touch of the Spirit’s teaching. As faith, by which we receive the forgiveness of sins is the gift of God, and Divine love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given, so in like manner we need the operation of the same Spirit to teach us about the glory of the coming Christ, which is the object of our hope.
Billy Bray, however, was so content with salvation and the idea of going to heaven that he did not give his attention to any other teaching. I often endeavoured to show him that it was a very selfish thing to avail ourselves of the sufferings of Christ, and care nothing for His glory. No, he did not see it; he was looking at something else.
One day he listened to what I had to say so quietly, and with so much more patience than usual, that I really thought I was breaking ground with him, and he was taking in the idea of the Lord’s coming. I told him that it was by no means the same thing as our going to be with the Lord at death, for when we go to Him at death it is only in spirit. We leave our bodies behind. But when He comes from the heavens for us, we shall depart with spirit, soul, and body too, and that in a glorified state.
He seemed to be enjoying what I was saying, but it turned out that he was not following my words, but his own thoughts. Being pressed into a corner for an answer, he looked at me and said, “What is that you say about the dear Lord? Coming, is He?”
“Yes” I said, “the Lord is coming, and that I believe soon.”
“I shall be fine and glad to see him!” said Billy, looking radiant with happiness. “Fine and glad to see him, for I do love the dear Lord.”
“He is coming,” I continued, “to change our vile body, and fashion it after our glorious body. This change is more certain than death itself.”
“How is that?” said Billy.
I replied, “We are told in Scripture that we shall not all die or sleep, but we shall all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51). Multitudes of believers will be alive on the earth when the Lord comes to call His saints. The Apostle Paul says, that ‘we which are alive and remain … shall not prevent (or go before) them which are asleep,’ but ‘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 Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Lord may come before you die.”
“Then,” said Billy, as if disappointed, “I shan’t go to heaven at all! That won’t do for the like of me.”
And off he went singing about Canaan. Dear Billy kept his thoughts and views about heaven to an advanced old age, and though he may have assented to some of my teaching now and then, his heart was full of the thought of going to heaven when he died. A little time before his departure he was ordered to take a short sea voyage. He went out on the broad Atlantic with some fisherman friends.
While they were out, a great squall arose which threatened to be violent. On this account “Uncle Billy,” as he was called, was sent below into the cabin. The squall developed into a storm, and raged so furiously that the fishermen came to see how he was. They found him as happy as usual, singing to himself.
“Uncle Billy,” said one of his friends, “I don’t think that we can weather this storm!”
“All right” said Billy cheerily, “I would as soon go to heaven from here, as elsewhere. If Father has any more work for me on the land, this storm can do nothing.”
It was so: the storm did nothing. It did not even frighten this trustful child of God.
Billy was safely landed again and lived to see the conversion of many more precious souls, and on his deathbed, that of his doctor. “You will meet me in heaven, doctor,” were among his last words. So he departed to be “with Christ.”
“I DO not like your confident Christians,” remarked a gentleman. “They should be more humble minded, and more fearful about falling.”
Another gentleman who was in the party said, “I suppose the people you refer to are so careful and watchful that they do not fall?”
“No,” said the first speaker, “we must all fall, you know!”
“Yes,” I replied, “that is true. You will surely fall, if you expect to do so. It will be according to your faith. How can it be otherwise? Do you not think that Christ can keep the believer who trusts in Him?”
“Oh yes, certainly He can,” was the answer. “But suppose the believer will not be kept. What then?” This was uttered in a triumphant tone, as if it settled the question finally.
“But,” I asked, “what sort of a believer is he who will not let Christ keep him? The Lord 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 man pluck them out of My hand’” (John 10:27-28).
“Well,” said my friend, “Saint Paul himself was not so confident as you make out, for he said, ‘Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway’” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I answered, “Do you really suppose that Saint Paul was referring to his salvation when he wrote those words?”
“Certainly,” said the gentleman. “He says so.”
“Can you really think,” I asked, “that after all Saint Paul teaches on the subject of salvation as God’s free gift to man, he meant to say in that passage that he might be finally lost if he did not persevere in the race, and win it?”
“Was not Judas lost?” said my friend. “Although he went about with Christ Himself, and preached the Gospel, and more than that, worked miracles?”
“Yes,” I answered, “without doubt we are to understand Judas was lost for ever, because he was never saved. He had an office and a ministry, but he knew he was not changed. On the other hand, Saint Paul was saved, and he knew it. He said, ‘I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.’”
“Well,” said my friend, with some hesitation, “I have always been taught that Saint Paul did doubt his safety; or, rather, was not altogether sure of his final salvation, though he knew about his conversion.”
1 said, “Would you be surprised to hear that the Apostle was not referring to salvation at all when he wrote those words about being a ‘castaway,’ which you quote?”
“I confess,” said my friend, “that I hate your Calvinism. You are sensible enough when you keep off that subject.”
“You dear man,” I answered, “look at the context for yourself. Saint Paul is speaking in the end of the ninth chapter of First Corinthians about a race, and a crown to be had at the end of the race. A crown or reward for something which men may do. That is a very different thing to salvation, which is given to men freely, for what Christ has done once for all.”
This gentleman had been taught that men are saved at their conversion by faith, but that their final salvation into heaven depends on their faithfulness to grace.
He was angry at my spoiling this good and "very useful text" as he called it. He thought my interpretation worth nothing -- it was only a fancy, whereas believers might be continually whipped to diligence and faithfulness by putting before them the danger of being lost hereafter! He said he had three excellent sermons on the subject, which he would lend me. God had blessed them -- he hated Calvinism.
However, in place of disputing with him about points of opinion, I preferred bringing him to the statements in God’s Word. He became very uneasy as I set them before him. They did not altogether coincide with his cherished views.
I said, “You cannot really suppose that Saint Paul meant to teach in this passage that he could run himself into heaven, or run into spiritual life by his own efforts and diligence?”
He did not reply, so I continued. “You must have birth before you can live, grace before you can grow in it, and life before you can run a race. In England they do not run dead horses, nor did the Corinthians run dead men.”
The third party in the room began to laugh at the idea of dead things running themselves into life. This had the effect of vexing my friend still more. He said somewhat hastily, “I never did like controversy. It does no good whatever. The fact is,” he added, “you are like the cattle which trample down the pastures they cannot eat. This text about being cast away is one of the best texts in the world for believers. It helps to keep them in the way of life. If it were not for such warnings, shoals of them would wander further away.”
“It is not well,” I said, “to misinterpret God’s Word, even though it be to do God’s work.”
“Sir,” said my friend, getting indignant, “if God blesses it, how can it be wrong?”
I answered, “God says in His Word, ‘If a prophet come to me with an idol in his heart, I the Lord will answer him according to his idol.’”
This did not tend to mollify matters, for my friend’s bugbear and idol were both in danger. The former was something he called Calvinism, and the latter, human perseverance, or “the perseverance of the saints.”
I endeavoured to show him that the “perseverance of the saints” did not mean man’s perseverance with God, but God’s perseverance in man.
“Pshaw-nonsense-fanaticism-don’t believe a word of it,” he exclaimed all in one breath, at the same time rising from his seat.
“Come, sit down,” I said quietly, “and I will give you four good reasons why Saint Paul did not mean what you think he did.”
“Come, sit down, friend,” said the other gentleman present, “and let us hear him out.”
He did so, and I proceeded to set before them the four good reasons.
“First,” I said, “Saint Paul is not speaking about salvation, or life and death in this passage, but about a race, and a crown to be attained by running for it.
“Secondly, Saint Paul never put salvation at the end, but at the beginning of Christian life.
“Thirdly, this same Apostle teaches that salvation is not by works, but by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Lastly, the words ‘cast away’ are not in the original at all. The Greek word that the Apostle used, so translated means rejected, as unworthy of the prize. Supposing twenty people started to run in the race, only one could obtain the crown. All the rest would be rejected, or ‘cast away,’ if you like.”
My friend was very vexed with the four reasons, and still remained unwilling to be convinced.
I told of a similar man who said he was sorry for the Greek, and what did the ‘“Postle Paul know about Greek!”
The other gentleman laughed again, to the complete vexation of my friend.
However, I bid him think over the matter calmly, and come again. I said, “We will have a talk about the Race and the Crown, and I will show you how to make a good sermon on the subject.”
Dear man, he professed to be very jealous for the truth, and would not have it interfered with by “modern discoveries.”
A man, convinced against his will, has to be convinced still.
Thus he went away, without adding more. He was an earnest, though mistaken man.
I Am a Baronet Too
THERE was once a fine aristocratic-looking young man who was employed as a lawyer’s clerk. Everyone remarked, “What a gentlemanly young man that is;” and yet he was glad to earn only fifty pounds a year. From nine o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening daily, he worked away at his quill or steel pen, excepting the little time allowed for his dinner. He was content for the present, hoping to rise in due time, somehow.
One day, while thus engaged, two gentlemen came to the office, and asked to see Mr. ----.
“Yes,” said the young man, “that is my name.”
While he was answering, one of the gentlemen whispered to the other, “He has the family features. There is no doubt of that.”
“Well,” said the young man, after a little pause, “may I ask what is your business?”
“Why, sir,” replied one of the two gentlemen, “we expect that you are the man we have been seeking for the last two years. May I ask your Christian name?”
“My name is Lionel,” answered the young man.
“Indeed,” said one gentleman, and the other added, “That is a family name, and I also observe the family voice.”
“Pray, sir,” continued the gentleman to the young man, “can you tell me anything of your father, and uncles?”
“Yes,” was the reply. “my father is dead, and my uncles do not notice me. My grandfather was a baronet,” he added.
“I am happy to inform you,” said one of the gentlemen, “that your uncle is dead, his son also, and that you are now the baronet.”
“I am jolly glad to hear that,” said the young man. “That is news. Will you come in and see my chief, and tell him all this?”
So much for readily believing good news. The young man conducted the two strangers into the private room of his chief, saying, “These gentlemen have a communication to make, sir.”
“Be seated,” said the lawyer, and drawing his chair forward he sat down to hear what was to be said. The communication was very brief. The gentlemen said, “We have been looking for the heir to a baronetcy, and at last we have found him in the person of our young friend here.”
The lawyer looked up with surprise, and said to the young man, “I congratulate you, sir. Allow me to shake hands with Sir Lionel. Of course, I release you from your engagement to me.”
“This is like a dream,” said the young man. “I suppose it is not all gammon. You are not making a fool of me.”
“By no means,” said one of the gentlemen, drawing himself up. “It is all true, and we congratulate you also, Sir Lionel.”
The young man believed this good news, and came out of that office in a very different position to what he went into it. He was duly installed in his new possessions, and henceforth lived like a baronet -- because he was one. He did not do anything to create himself a baronet.
There are many of God’s children who try to content themselves in the experience of forgiveness of sins, hoping to know something more at some future time. They pray for peace, and go to the cross of Jesus in their devotions, and hope to go to heaven when they die. The Lord Jesus was delivered for their offences and raised again for their justification, but they do not know what justification is. They imagine that it is some abstruse doctrine which theologians are divided about, instead of a matter of personal experience with which they are personally concerned.
They have no idea that pardon and justification go together, though they have read Saint Paul’s statement, “That through this Man [Christ Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe” (that is, all who have received pardon) “are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses,” or by works or ordinances (Acts 13:38). We may be justified therefore, and know about it, as surely as we know of our pardon.
After the prodigal son had received the embrace and kiss of reconciliation, he was clothed with the best robe (Luke 15:12). Adam and Eve, we believe, received forgiveness through the blood of the sacrifice which was offered in Eden, and they were clothed in coats of skin, evidently the skins of beasts offered in sacrifice. So we have pardon offered through the blood of Jesus, and we may be clothed in the righteousness of God.
This is the Lord’s purpose towards us, that we should be accounted righteous before God, as surely as the Lord Jesus was accounted as a sinner before men. As joy is the effect of reconciliation, so peace is the result of justification. “Who can bring any charge against God’s elect? [whose election is known, by the fact of their pardon], it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?”
Too many believers go to God and pray for peace, instead of taking it. They might as well go out into an open field in cold weather and pray to God to make them warm, instead of sitting by the fire which God has already provided for them.
The story of the baronet had a great effect upon a gentleman who happened to be present. He said, “That cap fits me exactly. I am one who has had my pardon a long time, and I have been praying for peace, as you say, and have not found it. I am worried with doubts about the future continually. You have opened out a wonderful prospect before me. I only wish I could as readily believe, as the young baronet did. Am I justified as well as pardoned, really?”
“Yes,” I replied. “If you will believe God’s Word and trust Him to give you what He has promised, you will have peace, and actual possession of all other benefits as well. You are as much justified now as ever you will be to all eternity, if you are a real believer.
“Let the fact take hold of your heart and mind, that you are not only a pardoned sinner, but that for Christ’s sake you are accounted righteous before God as if you had never sinned. You are God’s child, accepted in the Beloved, and you have access into the very presence of God as your Father. More than this, you may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which is to be revealed at Christ’s coming” (Romans 5:2).
As the gentleman looked surprised and hesitated, I pointed him to another text in the Epistle to the Romans, “… whom He justified He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
“I must go home and think over these things,” he said.
“No, indeed,” I answered, “it will be far easier for you to believe them at once. The young clerk did not stop to think before he believed.”
“Well then, suppose I say I believe, will that do?”
“No,” I replied, “you must do it, not say it: I do believe, I will believe on the authority of God’s Word.”
How much easier it appears to receive the world’s good news than spiritual. Thank God however, our friend did believe, and said with joy, “I am a baronet too!”
The Doormat Christian
I WENT to a place to preach, in rotation with others. The friend who invited me, in course of conversation said, “By the way, what are you going to preach about tonight?”
I replied, “I do not usually tell, for somehow, if I do, I find that I invariably lose my message.”
“Oh, very well,” he answered, “if that be so, by all means keep your secret. But let me beg of you not to take the Prodigal Son for your subject.”
“Why not?” I asked. “It is the subject of subjects, and one very much needed at the present time.”
“Oh, pray do not,” he repeated. “Everybody has that theme, and they tell us what the prodigal said, and what his father did. The people here have heard that story at least a dozen times.”
I said, “Have they ever heard about doormat Christians?”
“No,” he replied, “what may they be?”
I answered, “Let your curiosity rise to tiptoe in expectation, and I will tell you at the proper time.”
“No,” he said, “my curiosity is roused quite enough now. Tell me at once.”
"Suppose," I said, "a great man invited you to dinner, and suppose you are a very humble-minded individual -- that is, one who thinks much of yourself and your humility. You have received the invitation and wish to accept it, but you are really so unworthy! You imagine that the master of the house knows nothing about your unfitness. You walk up and down outside the house, saying, 'I am invited to this great mansion, but how can such as I go in?'
“At last, you go up trembling to the door, and give a timid single knock. When the door is opened you ask if you may enter, even though you have been invited to the feast. You are bidden to come in, and assured again and again of your welcome. But still you remain standing on the doormat, wondering whether you have any good reason for being there.
“Something keeps telling you that you are not accepted. All this time the door is open behind you, filling the house with cold air. Your worldly friends outside look on and wonder what you are doing there on the doormat. You certainly do not look like a welcomed guest. You have been bidden to come to the dining hall and to the banquet, but you shrink back for fear and for your unworthiness. My friend, you have some hope that you may get to the great banquet when you die. Think what a troublesome guest you would be, and how unwelcome too, if you are not to come to dinner till you are dead!”
“Oh,” said my friend, “I begin to see what your drift is now. You mean to say that we bring the invited guests just inside the door of salvation and leave them there, instead of bringing them to the banqueting hall.”
“Yes indeed,” I said; “and I mean even more than that. If you will look at the story of the prodigal, you will see that there are five things provided for him, and that they are all ready. There is the kiss of reconciliation or pardon, the robe, the ring, the shoes, and the fatted calf. No wonder that young converts are not satisfied when five such things are provided, and they only take one. Supposing a legacy were left you in five figure. Let us say twelve thousand, three hundred and forty-five pounds. You go to prove the will, and because of your humility you only take five pounds. Would that satisfy you?”
“I expect,” said my friend, “I am one of your doormat Christians. I do not think I am further than that. Like the Prodigal Son I was a long time making resolutions and wishing, but when I arose to go to my Father, He met me and forgave my sins. There I have stopped.”
“Saint Paul tells us,” I said, “‘that through this Man (Christ Jesus), is preached forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe,’ that is, all like you who have received forgiveness, ‘are justified.’ As surely as you have received your welcome, there is the best robe for you.”
“What is that?” asked my friend.
"The robe," I replied, "is our justification before God -- our being accounted righteous for Christ's sake, as if we had not sinned. Being justified by faith we have peace with God. We have access to our Father in heaven, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
“Next, there is a ring for our hand, a token of our oneness with Christ now, as we were one with Adam before. His God is our God, and His Father ours. We are united to Him, as a bride is united with her husband.
“Then there are the shoes for our feet, to protect us from the flints and thorns of this world. While we are in the body we come into contact with the world, just as our feet touch the ground on which we stand. We need this protection, and it is provided for us by and in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Lastly, we have the fatted calf, the feast of communion with the Father in the gift of His beloved Son for us. He so loved us that He gave us His Son, and we love Him in consequence, and feast and rejoice with Him in the banqueting house where the banner over us is love!”
My friend was evidently thinking, and was silent. I therefore continued, “When you see a rejoicing Christian, one who is not afraid or ashamed to tell what the Lord has done for his soul, you see a man in the banquet. Such a one recommends it, and is not content to feast alone, but longs for others to come and partake with him of his Lord’s bounty. It is as free for them as for him.”
“I do not wonder now,” said my friend, “at the doubts and misgivings I am subject to. I am nothing but a doormat Christian! I have been trying my best to make myself happy, by doing all the good I could to other people. How may I enter into all these privileges?”
I answered, “You may have them as freely as you received pardon. You received that by simple faith. By the same faith you may rejoice in your justification before God, and realise your oneness with Christ, the protection of His grace, and the fullness of His blessing. It is all provided and offered together, though you enter into the experience of these several blessings one by one, progressively. Why take five pounds when you may have twelve thousand, three hundred and forty-five?”
“Most speakers,” said my friend, “offer but the one thing.”
I replied, “Never mind us, poor messengers. Look at your Bible. There you will find the full message of the King. Read of His royal bounties so richly and abundantly provided, and accept them with rejoicing. Notice in the story of the prodigal, that when he reached the banquet, then it was that they ‘began to be merry.’ And however great this joy is, yet it is only the beginning of still higher and greater things to be enjoyed even in this world, to say nothing of the eternal glory which awaits the believer hereafter.”
I Am so Unreal!
A LADY called on me one day, apparently in distress of mind. She told me that she was converted and was the child of out-and-out Christian parents. She had always been brought up under religious influences, and for her respected father’s sake everyone was kind to her. “I have therefore always been happy,” she added.
I stopped her in her story to ask when she was converted, for I suspect people who say they have always been happy.
She answered, “I was awakened by reading your book, From Death into Life. It was the means of bringing me to a decided change of heart. I believe that book was blessed to my soul; but to tell the truth,” she said, looking earnestly at me, “I am so unreal. There is a wide gap between my experience and my light. I have a Bible class at the convalescent hospital, but while I am teaching others, something keeps telling me, ‘You are a hypocrite. You are teaching what you do not know yourself!’”
I said, “Whenever such suggestions come to you again, say inwardly to the Lord, ‘Lord, give me the knowledge and experience of this light.’ If the rebuke is from Him, it is surely sent to bring you to Himself, that He may give you the experience you need. On the other hand, if it is from the devil to hinder you, you will defeat his purpose by your prayers. Besides this, when we teach others out of God’s Word, we must necessarily often teach beyond our personal experience. Nevertheless, it is the best way to learn. He that waters others, shall be watered himself.”
“Yes, I know that is true, thank you,” she said, hesitating. “Yet I am not satisfied.”
“My dear friend,” I replied, “you are not intended to be satisfied with yourself. We can only be satisfied with the Lord. He took your place and bore your punishment, that you might have His place, and His merit.”
“Yes,” she said, “I know that too, but I do not know how to explain my difficulty.”
I answered, “You are explaining clearly enough. I see where you are, and what you want. You have been praying for a blessing, and now you are waiting to feel it, before you believe you have it.”
“Yes,” she replied, “that is the fact; and is not that right?”
“No,” I answered, “when you pray for anything God has promised in His Word, and have a desire for it, God is then and there offering you the blessing you are craving. Ask for it, as if you were falling in with His offer, and thank Him for it, as if you had it.”
“What,” she said, “before I get it?”
"Yes," I answered, "before you get it -- that is, before you feel you have it. Waiting to feel the answer is nature. Taking it with thanksgiving is faith and grace. When you ask for a thing in faith, God's Word tells you that you have the petition you desire, because you believe -- not because you feel or because you prayed."
She looked as if amazed, or as if in doubt whether this was really true. To confirm her faith, I said, “Those ten lepers we read about in Saint Luke’s Gospel, cried to Jesus for cleansing. The Lord seemed to say to them, ‘Do you believe I can cleanse such an incurable disease as leprosy?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they answered, ‘and no one else.’ ‘What would you do if I did cleanse you?’ ‘We would go and show ourselves to the priest’ ‘Then go and show yourselves to the priests.’ They might have said, ‘How can we go as we are, in our uncleansed state?’ But these lepers did not say anything of the kind. We read that they did as they were commanded. They went, and it came to pass that as they went they were cleansed. So I say to you, ‘What would you do if you felt all you wish to feel? Do that, and you will feel.’”
Still the lady hesitated, and looked perplexed. I continued, “You are asking in faith for the blessing of reality. This is the very will of God towards you, and He is putting that prayer or desire into your heart. Make the petition with thanksgiving, and give thanks as if the answer was come, and you will find it true. Feeling, or realisation as you call it, comes after thanksgiving.”
The lady began to cry.
“What are you crying about?” I asked.
She replied, “Do you really think all this can be true?”
“No,” I answered, “I do not think at all about it: I know. I am sure! You have no idea how much God is desiring to bless you. This hungering and thirsting which you have for deeper and fuller realisation of God and His work, is from Him. The Lord not only says, ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ but far more, they shall be filled. Satan is trying to persuade you that you are so unreal. Why do you believe the devil like this?”
“I do not know,” said the lady, crying more than before.
“Look up, child,” I continued. “The Lord not only says that you are blessed of Him for hungering and thirsting after righteousness, but He adds that you will be filled. Is that what you want?”
“Yes, indeed it is,” she replied.
“Then,” I said, “you may have it, and have it now. Let us thank Him together.”
She shrank from doing this, saying it would be an act of profaneness for her to do so.
“Oh no,” I said, “the profaneness consists in not doing it. Come, say with me, ‘Lord, I thank Thee for this hunger and thirst which I have in my soul. Lord, I believe Thou wilt fill me. Thou art filling me now.’”
“No,” she repeated, “I cannot say that. I do not feel like that at all.”
I said, “I do not ask you to feel. I want you to believe. Believe it first and thank the Lord, then feeling will follow. Say after me, ‘I do believe, I will believe, that Thou art filling me now. I thank Thee.’ Repeat that again and again.”
“I think,” she said, “I see what you mean.”
“That is well, but do not stop there. Go on thanking the Lord for answering your prayers.”
She soon passed over the line of her difficulties, and began to thank God with rejoicing.
It is not a bad thing to see a gap between your light and your experience. It shows that your eyes are opened, and that the Holy Spirit is dealing with you in kindling such desires. Thank God for that, and the gap will be speedily bridged over and cease to be. God gives us the sense of our need to draw us to Himself. Satan uses the same, to send us back. Be sure Satan would not try to hinder you if he did not see that God was helping and drawing you. Cheer up, and teach others the way of deliverance by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be confirmed and established in your own soul.
Oh, tender and sweet was the Master’s voice,
As He lovingly called to me:
"Come over the line! it is only a step --
I am waiting, My child, for thee!”
“But my sins are many, my faith is small:”
Lo! the answer came quick and clear:
“Thou needest not trust in thyself at all;
Step over the line: I am here!”
“But my flesh is weak,” I tearfully said,
“And the way I cannot see;
I fear if I try I may sadly fail,
And thus may dishonour Thee.”
Ah! the world is cold, and I cannot go back;
Press forward I surely must;
I will place my hand in His wounded palm,
Step over the line, and trust.
Ellen N. Bradford (1883)
More books from White Tree Publishing are on the next pages, many of which are available as both eBooks and paperbacks. More Christian books than those listed are planned for 2016-2017.
White Tree Publishing publishes mainstream evangelical Christian literature in paperback and eBook formats, for people of all ages. We aim to make our eBooks available free for all eBook devices, but some distributors will only list our books free at their discretion, and may make a small charge for some titles -- but they are still great value!
We rely on our readers to tell their families, their friends and churches about our books. Social media is a great way of doing this. Take a look at our range of fiction and non-fiction books on the following pages and pass the word on. Also, please write a positive review if you are able.
Four short books of help in the Christian life:
So, What Is a Christian? An introduction to a personal faith. Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-2-6
Starting Out -- help for new Christians of all ages. Paperback ISBN 978-1-4839-622-0-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-0-2
Help! -- Explores some problems we can encounter with our faith. Paperback ISBN 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-1-9
Running Through the Bible — a simple understanding of what’s in the Bible — Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-6-5, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-3-3
Bible Words of Peace and Comfort
There may come a time in our lives when we want to concentrate on God’s many promises of peace and comfort. The Bible readings in this book are for people who need to know what it means to be held securely in the Lord’s loving arms.
Rather than selecting single verses here and there, each reading in this book is a run of several verses. This gives a much better picture of the whole passage in which a favourite verse may be found.
As well as being for personal use, these readings are intended for sharing with anyone in special need, to help them draw comfort from the reading and prayer for that date. Bible reading and prayer are the two most important ways of getting to know and trust Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
The reference to the verses for the day are given, for you to look up and read in your preferred Bible translation.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1
116 pages 5×7.8 inches
e-Book ISBN: 978-0-9933941-4-0
A Previously Unpublished Book
The Simplicity of the Incarnation
J Stafford Wright
Foreword by J I Packer
“I believe in … Jesus Christ … born of the Virgin Mary.” A beautiful stained glass image, or a medical reality? This is the choice facing Christians today. Can we truly believe that two thousand years ago a young woman, a virgin named Mary, gave birth to the Son of God? The answer is simple: we can.
The author says, “In these days many Christians want some sensible assurance that their faith makes sense, and in this book I want to show that it does.”
In this uplifting book from a previously unpublished and recently discovered manuscript, J Stafford Wright investigates the reality of the incarnation, looks at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and helps the reader understand more of the Trinity and the certainty of eternal life in heaven.
This book was written shortly before the author’s death in 1985. The Simplicity of the Incarnation is published for the first time, unedited, from his final draft.
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-9525-9563-2
160 pages 5.25 × 8 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-5-7
An Unforgettable A-Z of Who is Who in the Bible
In a fascinating look at real people, J Stafford Wright shows his love and scholarly knowledge of the Bible as he brings the characters from its pages to life in a memorable way.
Read this book through from A to Z, like any other title
Dip in and discover who was who in personal Bible study
Check the names when preparing a talk or sermon
The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – no one is spared. This is a book for everyone who wants to get to grips with the reality that is in the pages of the Bible, the Word of God.
With the names arranged in alphabetical order, the Old and New Testament characters are clearly identified so that the reader is able to explore either the Old or New Testament people on the first reading, and the other Testament on the second.
Those wanting to become more familiar with the Bible will find this is a great introduction to the people inhabiting the best selling book in the world, and those who can quote chapter and verse will find everyone suddenly becomes much more real – because these people are real. This is a book to keep handy and refer to frequently while reading the Bible.
“For students of my generation the name Stafford Wright was associated with the spiritual giants of his generation. Scholarship and integrity were the hallmarks of his biblical teaching. He taught us the faith and inspired our discipleship of Christ. To God be the Glory.” The Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool
This is a lively, well-informed study of some great Bible characters. Professor Gordon Wenham MA PhD. Tutor in Old Testament at Trinity College Bristol and Emeritus Professor of Old Testament at the University of Gloucestershire.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-5-6
314 pages 6×9 inches
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1
Note: This book is not available in all eBook formats
Christians and the Supernatural
J Stafford Wright
There is an increasing interest and fascination in the paranormal today. To counteract this, it is important for Christians to have a good understanding of how God sometimes acts in mysterious ways, and be able to recognize how he can use our untapped gifts and abilities in his service. We also need to understand how the enemy can tempt us to misuse these gifts and abilities, just as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
In this single volume of his two previously published books on the occult and the supernatural (Understanding the Supernatural and Our Mysterious God) J Stafford Wright examines some of the mysterious events we find in the Bible and in our own lives. Far from dismissing the recorded biblical miracles as folk tales, he is convinced that they happened in the way described, and explains why we can accept them as credible.
The writer says: When God the Holy Spirit dwells within the human spirit, he uses the mental and physical abilities which make up a total human being . . . The whole purpose of this book is to show that the Bible does make sense.
And this warning: The Bible, claiming to speak as the revelation of God, and knowing man’s weakness for substitute religious experiences, bans those avenues into the occult that at the very least are blind alleys that obscure the way to God, and at worst are roads to destruction.
Paperback ISBN 13: 9-780-9525-9564-9
222 pages 5.25 × 8 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-4-0
His Own Story
Foreword by J. Stafford Wright
Howell Harris was brought up to regard the Nonconformists as “a perverted and dangerously erroneous set of people.” Hardly a promising start for a man who was to play a major role in the Welsh Revival. Yet in these extracts from his writings and diaries we can read the thoughts of Howell Harris before, during and after his own conversion.
We can see God breaking through the barriers separating "church and chapel", and discover Christians of different denominations preparing the country for revival. Wesley, Whitefield, Harris. These great 18th century preachers worked both independently and together to preach the Living Gospel. This book is a vivid first-hand account of the joys, hardships and struggles of one of these men -- Howell Harris (1714-1773).
From the Streets of London
to the Streets of Gold
The Life Story of
Brother Clifford Edwards
A True Story of Love
Brother Clifford Edwards
(A printed copy is available directly from Brother Clifford)
This is the personal story of Clifford Edwards, affectionately known as Brother Clifford by his many friends. Going from fame to poverty, he was sleeping on the streets of London with the homeless for twenty years, until Jesus rescued him and gave him an amazing mission in life. Brother Clifford tells his true story here in the third person, giving the glory to Jesus.
The Gospel of John
Published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, this book contains the full text of Bagster’s assembled work for the Gospel of John. On each page in parallel columns are the words of the six most important translations of the New Testament into English, made between 1380 and 1611. Below the English is the original Greek text after Scholz.
To enhance the reading experience, there is an introduction telling how we got our English Bibles, with significant pages from early Bibles shown at the end of the book.
Here is an opportunity to read English that once split the Church by giving ordinary people the power to discover God’s word for themselves. Now you can step back in time and discover those words and spellings for yourself, as they first appeared hundreds of years ago.
Wyclif 1380, Tyndale 1534, Cranmer 1539, Geneva 1557,
Douay Rheims 1582, Authorized (KJV) 1611.
[_ English Hexapla -- The Gospel of John _]
Published by White Tree Publishing
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-1-8
Size 7.5 × 9.7 inches paperback
Not available as an eBook
Roddy Goes to Church
Church Life and Church People
No, not a children’s book! An affectionate, optimistic look at church life involving, as it happens, Roddy and his friends who live in a small town. Problems and opportunities related to change and outreach are not, of course, unique to their church!
Maybe you know Miss Prickly-Cat who pointedly sits in the same pew occupied by generations of her forebears, and perhaps know many of the characters in this look at church life today. A wordy Archdeacon comes on the scene, and Roddy is taken aback by the events following his first visit to church. Roddy’s best friend Bushy-Beard says wise things, and he hears an enlightened Bishop . . .
Bishop David Pytches writes: A unique spoof on church life. Will you recognise yourself and your church here? … Derek Osborne’s mind here is insightful, his characters graphic and typical and the style acutely comical, but there is a serious message in his madness. Buy this, read it and enjoy!
David Pytches, Chorleywood
Paperback ISBN: 978-09927642-0-3
46 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches paperback UK £3.95
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
eBook coming late 2015
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
“I go to prepare a place for you.” This well-known promise from Jesus must cause us to think about the reality of heaven. Heaven is to be our home for ever. Where is heaven? What is it like? Will I recognize people there? All who are Christians must surely want to hear about the place where they are to spend eternity. In this abridged edition of William Branks classic work of 1861, we discover what the Bible has to say about heaven. There may be a few surprises, and there are certainly some challenges as we explore a subject on which there seems to be little teaching and awareness today.
I See Men As Trees, Walking
Roger and Janet Niblett
Roger and Janet Niblett were just an ordinary English couple, but then they met the Lord and their lives were totally transformed. Like the Bethlehem shepherds of old, they had a compulsion to share the same good news that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners. Empowered by the Holy Spirit they proclaimed the gospel in the market place, streets, prisons, hospitals and churches with a vibrancy that only comes from being in direct touch with the Almighty and being readily available to serve Him as a channel of His grace and love. God was with them and blessed their ministry abundantly. Praise God! (Pastor Mervyn Douglas, Clevedon Family Church)
The story of Roger Niblett is an inspiration to all who serve the Lord. He was a prolific street evangelist, whose impact on the gospel scene was a wonder to behold. It was my privilege to witness his conversion, when he went forward to receive Christ at the Elim Church, Keynsham. The preacher was fiery Scottish evangelist Rev’d Alex Tee. It was not long before Roger too caught that same soul winner’s fire which propelled him far and wide, winning multitudes for Christ. Together with his wife Janet, they proceeded to “Tell the World of Jesus”. (Des Morton, Founder Minister of Keynsham Elim Church)
I know of no couple who have been more committed to sharing their faith from the earliest days of their journey with the Lord Jesus Christ. Along the way, at home and abroad, and with a tender heart for the marginalised, Rog and Jan have introduced multitudes to the Saviour and have inspired successive generations of believers to do the same. It was our joy and privilege to have them as part of the family at Trinity where Janet continues to serve in worship and witness. Loved by young and old alike, they will always have a special place in our hearts. (Andy Paget, Trinity Tabernacle, Bristol. Vice President, International Gospel Outreach)
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-1-0
Also available as a paperback
(published by Gozo Publishing Bristol)
paperback ISBN: 978-1508674979
eBook coming 2016
Blunt’s Scriptural Coincidences
Gospels and Acts
J. J. Blunt
This book will confirm (or restore) your faith in the Gospel records. Clearly the Gospels were not invented. There is too much unintentional agreement between them for this to be so. Undesigned coincidences are where writers tell the same account, but from a different viewpoint. Without conspiring together to get their accounts in agreement, they include unexpected (and often unnoticed) details that corroborate their records. Not only are these unexpected coincidences found within the Gospels, but sometimes an historical writer unknowingly and unintentionally confirms the Bible record. J. J. Blunt spent many years investigating these coincidences. And here they are, as found in the four Gospels and Acts.
First published in instalments between 1833 and 1847
The edition used here published in 1876
eBook coming 2016
Fullness of Power
How to Obtain
Fullness of Power in
Christian Life and Service
R. A. Torrey
White Tree Publishing Edition
From many earnest hearts there is rising a cry for more power: more power in our personal conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, more power in our work for others. The Bible makes the way to obtain this longed for power very plain. There is no presumption in undertaking to tell “How to obtain Fullness of Power in Christian Life and Service”; for the Bible itself tells, and the Bible was intended to be understood. The Bible statement of the way is not mystical nor mysterious, it is very plain and straightforward. If we will only make personal trial of “The Power of the Word of God,” “The Power of the Blood of Christ,” “The Power of the Holy Spirit,” “The Power of Prayer,” “The Power of a Surrendered Life,” we will then know “The Fullness of Power in Christian Life and Service.” We will try to make this plain in the following chapters. (Foreword by W. A. Torrey to the original edition that is just as relevant today as it was then.)
The edition used here published in 1903
eBook coming 2016
Gospels and Acts
White Tree Publishing Edition
e-Book ISBN: 978-0-9935005-9-6
The Lost Clue
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Romantic Mystery
With modern line drawings
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9932760-2-6
Living the life of a wealthy man, Kenneth Fortescue receives devastating news from his father. But he is only able to learn incomplete facts about his past, because a name has been obliterated from a very important letter. Two women are vying for Kenneth's attention -- Lady Violet, the young daughter of Lady Earlswood, and Marjorie Douglas, the daughter of a widowed parson's wife.
Written in 1905 by the much-loved author Mrs. O. F. Walton, this edition has been lightly abridged and edited to make it easier to read and understand today. This romantic mystery story gives an intriguing glimpse into the class extremes that existed in Edwardian England, with wealthy titled families on one side, and some families living in terrible poverty on the other.
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Romantic Mystery
with modern line drawings
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9932760-0-2
Doctor Forester, a medical man only twenty-five years old, has come to a lonely part of Wales to escape from an event in his recent past that has caused him much hurt. So he has more on his mind than worrying about strange noises behind his bedroom wall in the old castle where he is staying.
A young woman who shares part of the journey with him is staying in the same village. He is deeply attracted to her, and believes that she is equally attracted to him. But he soon has every reason to think that his old school friend Jack is also courting her.
Written and taking place in the early 1900s, this romantic mystery is a mix of excitement and heartbreak. What is the secret of Hildick Castle? And can Doctor Forester rid himself of the past that now haunts his life?
Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.
Ghosts of the past kept flitting through his brain. Dark shadows which he tried to chase away seemed to pursue him. Here these ghosts were to be laid; here those shadows were to be dispelled; here that closed chapter was to be buried for ever. So he fought long and hard with the phantoms of the past until the assertive clock near his bedroom door announced that it was two o’clock.
Was I Right?
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Victorian Romance
With modern line drawings
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9932760-1-9
May Lindsay and her young stepsister Maggie are left penniless and homeless when their father the local doctor dies. Maggie can go to live with her three maiden aunts, but May at the age of nineteen is faced with a choice. Should she take the position of companion to a girl she doesn’t know, who lives some distance away, or accept a proposal of marriage from the man who has been her friend since they were small children?
May Lindsay makes her decision, but it is not long before she wonders if she has done the right thing. This is a story of life in Victorian England as May, who has led a sheltered life, is pushed out into a much bigger world than she has previously known. She soon encounters titled families, and is taken on a tour of the Holy Land which occupies much of the story.
Two men seem to be a big disappointment to May Lindsay. Will her Christian faith hold strong in these troubles? Was she right in the decision she made before leaving home?
Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.
In His Steps
Charles M. Sheldon
This new abridged edition of a classic story that has sold over an estimated 30 million copies, contains Charles Sheldon’s original writing, with some passages sensitively abridged to allow his powerful story to come through for today’s readers. Nothing in the storyline has been changed.
A homeless man staggers into a wealthy church and upsets the congregation. A week later he is dead. This causes the Rev. Henry Maxwell to issue a startling challenge to his congregation and to himself -- whatever you do in life over the next twelve months, ask yourself this question before making any decision: "What would Jesus do?"
The local newspaper editor, a novelist, a wealthy young woman who has inherited a million dollars, her friend who has been offered a professional singing career, the superintendent of the railroad workshops, a leading city merchant and others take up the challenge. But how will it all work out when things don’t go as expected?
A bishop gives up his comfortable lifestyle -- and finds his life threatened in the city slums. The story is timeless. A great read, and a challenge to every Christian today.
Also available in paperback 254 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-19350791-8-7
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9927642-9-6
A Previously Unpublished Book
Locked Door Shuttered Windows
A Novel by J Stafford Wright
What is inside the fascinating house with the locked door and the shuttered windows? Satan wants an experiment. God allows it. John is caught up in the plan as Satan’s human representative. The experiment? To demonstrate that there can be peace in the world if God allows Satan to run things in his own way. A group of people gather together in an idyllic village run by Satan, with no reference to God, and no belief in him.
J Stafford Wright has written this startling and gripping account of what happens when God stands back and Satan steps forward. All seems to go well for the people who volunteer to take part. And no Christians allowed!
John Longstone lost his faith when teaching at a theological college. Lost it for good -- or so he thinks. And then he meets Kathleen who never had a faith. As the holes start to appear in Satan’s scheme for peace, they wonder if they should help or hinder the plans which seem to have so many benefits for humanity.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-4-1
206 pages 5.25 × 8.0 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-3-3
Margaret S. Haycraft
Pansy is an orphan who is cared for by her aunt, Temperance Piper, who keeps the village post office and store. One day Pansy meets wealthy Mrs. Adair who offers to take her under her wing and give her a life of wealth in high society that she could never dream of, on condition Pansy never revisits her past life. When they first meet, Mrs. Adair says about Pansy’s clothes, “The style is a little out of date, but it is good enough for the country. I should like to see you in a really well-made dress. It would be quite a new sensation for you, if you really belong to these wilds. I have a crimson and gold tea gown that would suit you delightfully, and make you quite a treasure for an artist.” This is a story of rags to riches to … well, to a life where nothing is straightforward. First published in 1891.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
eBook coming 2016
Margaret S. Haycraft
For several years in the peaceful village of Meadthorpe, the church and the chapel existed in an uneasy peace while the rector and the chapel minister were distracted by poor health. When a young curate arrives at St Simeon’s, he brings with him high church ritual and ways of worship. Gildas Haven, the daughter of the chapel minister is furious. The curate insists that his Church ways are right, and Gildas who has only known chapel worship says the opposite.
Battle lines are quickly drawn by leaders and congregations. Mary Haycraft writes with light humour and surprising insight in what could be a controversial story line. With at least one major surprise, the author seems to be digging an impossible hole for herself as the story progresses. The ending of this sensitively told romance is likely to come as a surprise.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
eBook coming 2016
Margaret S. Haycraft
“It seems, Miss, Mr. Glyn drew out that money yesterday, and took it all out in gold. The Rector happened to be in the Bank at the time, but was on his way to town, and could not stop to talk to your father just then, though he wondered to hear him say he had come to draw out everything, as treasurer of the fund.” Amaranth Glyn’s comfortable life comes to an end when the church funds disappear. Her father, the church treasurer who drew out the money, is also missing, to be followed shortly by her mother. The disgrace this brings on the family means Amaranth’s marriage plans are cancelled. Amaranth is a competent artist and moves away with her young brother to try to earn a living. There are rumours that her parents are in France and even in Peru. Living with her sick brother, Amaranth wants life to be as it was before the financial scandal forced her to leave her family home and the garden she loved.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
Mary Jones and Her Bible
An Adventure Book
The true story of Mary Jones’s and her Bible
with a clear Christian message and optional puzzles
(Some are easy, some tricky, and some amusing)
Mary Jones saved for six years to buy a Bible of her own. In 1800, when she was 15, she thought she had saved enough, so she walked barefoot for 26 miles (more than 40km) over a mountain pass and through deep valleys in Wales to get one. That’s when she discovered there were none for sale!
You can travel with Mary Jones today in this book by following clues, or just reading the story. Either way, you will get to Bala where Mary went, and if you’re really quick you may be able to discover a Bible just like Mary’s in the market!
The true story of Mary Jones has captured the imagination for more than 200 years. For this book, Chris Wright has looked into the old records and discovered even more of the story, which is now in this unforgettable account of Mary Jones and her Bible. Solving puzzles is part of the fun, but the whole story is in here to read and enjoy whether you try the puzzles or not. Just turn the page, and the adventure continues. It’s time to get on the trail of Mary Jones!
Paperback ISBN 978-0-9525956-2-5
5.5 × 8.5 inches
156 pages of story, photographs, line drawings and puzzles
eBook ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9933941-5-7
An Adventure Book
Travel with young Christian as he sets out on a difficult and perilous journey to find the King. Solve the puzzles and riddles along the way, and help Christian reach the Celestial City. Then travel with his friend Christiana. She has four young brothers who can sometimes be a bit of a problem.
Be warned, you will meet giants and lions -- and even dragons! There are people who don't want Christian and Christiana to reach the city of the King and his Son. But not everyone is an enemy. There are plenty of friendly people. It's just a matter of finding them.
Are you prepared to help? Are you sure? The journey can be very dangerous! As with our book Mary Jones and Her Bible, you can enjoy the story even if you don’t want to try the puzzles.
This is a simplified and abridged version of [_ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition ], containing illustrations and a mix of puzzles. The suggested reading age is up to perhaps ten. Older readers will find the same story told in much greater detail in [ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition _] on the next page.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-6-3
5.5 × 8.5 inches 174 pages £6.95
Available from major internet stores
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9933941-6-4
This book for all ages is a great choice for young readers, as well as for families, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who wants to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in a clear form.
All the old favourites are here: Christian, Christiana, the Wicket Gate, Interpreter, Hill Difficulty with the lions, the four sisters at the House Beautiful, Vanity Fair, Giant Despair, Faithful and Talkative -- and, of course, Greatheart. The list is almost endless.
The first part of the story is told by Christian himself, as he leaves the City of Destruction to reach the Celestial City, and becomes trapped in the Slough of Despond near the Wicket Gate. On his journey he will encounter lions, giants, and a creature called the Destroyer.
Christiana follows along later, and tells her own story in the second part. Not only does Christiana have to cope with her four young brothers, she worries about whether her clothes are good enough for meeting the King. Will she find the dangers in Vanity Fair that Christian found? Will she be caught by Giant Despair and imprisoned in Doubting Castle? What about the dragon with seven heads?
It’s a dangerous journey, but Christian and Christiana both know that the King’s Son is with them, helping them through the most difficult parts until they reach the Land of Beulah, and see the Celestial City on the other side of the Dark River. This is a story you will remember for ever, and it’s about a journey you can make for yourself.
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9932760-8-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-7-0
5.5 × 8.5 inches 278 pages
Available from major internet stores
Zephan and the Vision
An exciting story about the adventures of two angels who seem to know almost nothing -- until they have a vision!
Two ordinary angels are caring for the distant Planet Eltor, and they are about to get a big shock -- they are due to take a trip to Planet Earth! This is Zephan's story of the vision he is given before being allowed to travel with Talora, his companion angel, to help two young people fight against the enemy.
Arriving on Earth, they discover that everyone lives in a small castle. Some castles are strong and built in good positions, while others appear weak and open to attack. But it seems that the best-looking castles are not always the most secure.
Meet Castle Nadia and Castle Max, the two castles that Zephan and Talora have to defend. And meet the nasty creatures who have built shelters for themselves around the back of these castles. And worst of all, meet the shadow angels who live in a cave on Shadow Hill. This is a story about the forces of good and the forces of evil. Who will win the battle for Castle Nadia?
The events in this story are based very loosely on John Bunyan’s allegory The Holy War.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-9-4
5.5 × 8.5 inches 216 pages
Available from major internet stores
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9932760-6-4
Agathos, The Rocky Island,
And Other Stories
Once upon a time there were two favourite books for Sunday reading: Parables from Nature and Agathos and The Rocky Island.
These books contained short stories, usually with a hidden meaning. In this illustrated book is a selection of the very best of these stories, carefully retold to preserve the feel of the originals, coupled with ease of reading and understanding for today’s readers.
Discover the king who sent his servants to trade in a foreign city. The butterfly who thought her eggs would hatch into baby butterflies, and the two boys who decided to explore the forbidden land beyond the castle boundary. The spider that kept being blown in the wind, the soldier who had to fight a dragon, the four children who had to find their way through a dark and dangerous forest. These are just six of the nine stories in this collection. Oh, and there’s also one about a rocky island!
This is a book for a young person to read alone, a family or parent to read aloud, Sunday school teachers to read to the class, and even for grownups who want to dip into the fascinating stories of the past all by themselves. Can you discover the hidden meanings? You don’t have to wait until Sunday before starting!
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-8-7
5.5 × 8.5 inches 148 pages £5.95
Available from major internet stores
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9927642-7-2
You may have heard of the clergyman who was converted while preaching his own sermon! Well, this is man -- William Haslam. It happened in Cornwall one Sunday in 1851. He later wrote his autobiography in two books: From Death into Life and Yet not I. Here, in Leaves from my Notebook, William Haslam writes about events and people not present in his autobiography. They make fascinating and challenging reading as we watch him sharing his faith one to one or in small groups, with dramatic results. Haslam was a man who mixed easily with titled gentry and the poorest of the poor, bringing the message of salvation in a way that people were ready to accept. This book has been lightly edited to make reading easier today by using modern punctuation and avoiding over-long sentences. William Haslam's amazing message is unchanged.