« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
I read these words,— My blood, which is shed for many,
for the remission of sins.'
“Jesus praying for his murderers had enlightened my mind : Jesus dying for sinners now touched my heart. But who were the many of whom he spoke ? On what conditions could the benefit of his sacrificial death be applied ? I revolved these thoughts in my mind as I continued to turn over the leaves; and I saw these words : God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
“6 Whosoever,' said I to myself; I am “whosoever: none can desire more than I do to trust in that God who •so loved the world !'
“ As I compared the two passages which had so enlightened me, a new illumination seemed to spring from them. The death of Christ, of which I had so often heard, as an expiation, had always hitherto appeared to me as harshness on the part of God, who caused the punishment of the guilty to fall upon the innocent. The sacrifice was doubtless a voluntary one on the part of the victim; but the painful impression of a judge accepting, like an implacable creditor, the payment of a debt from one who owed nothing, had ever occupied my mind. Now, I remarked, for the first time, that this voluntary sufferer was the Son of God. God, in accepting his sacrifice, imposed upon himself as hard a sacrifice—that of his own Son. I now saw in Jesus the representative of God and man—the union of the judge and the criminal—the embrace of justice and mercy ; and, although much still appeared to my mind mysterious, my heart was satisfied. I now saw the Father and the Son working together for my salvation; the Creator of all things, as it were, descending from his throne to give me eternal life; me, the vilest of his creatures ! O, God, what shall I give thee in return? What have I done for thee, who hast done everything for me?"
“Then,” said the invalid, “ from that time to the present, you have not doubted of eternal life ?"
“I have not,"
“ Then there is no fear of losing that of which God has once assured
?” “ Not so, my friend: I am not of those who say, “Let us continue in sin, that grace may abound. One who deeply feels his sinfulness, and has received in his heart the assurance of pardon through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, loves the Saviour who pardoned him, is faithful and obedient to his God, and cannot willingly grieve by his sins that Jesus who died for him. I feel that God is my reconciled Father; and I am no longer a slave, but a son.”
“But are you not in danger of spiritual pride, on this account?”
“ How can I be proud of a forgiveness which only makes my guilt appear more flagrant? How can I boast myself of a grace which proclaims that I had merited nothing ? No, my friend; the greatness of this salvation is, on the contrary, a motive for humility. The word of God says, we are saved by grace,
lest any man should boast.'' “ And this salvation makes you happy ?”
“I will not say that my happiness is perfect. That it cannot be on this sinful earth. But I may assure you that the certainty of the forgiveness of my sins, and of everlasting life, if I continue faithful, causes me to feel cheerfulness, peace, and joy, unmingled with any feeling of impatience or dread. I wait until God shall be pleased to call me to himself ; satisfied, until then, to abide on earth, and to relate to others my own happy experience; and I have done so even now, in the hope that you also will attain this great blessing of which I speak.'
“ May God grant it! But I must own to you, that while I assent to all that you have said, and feel disposed to believe it, there is in my mind a contrary influence, a voice that tells me all this is too good to be true.”
“ My friend, that is the voice of Satan.”
Very likely; but how shall I get conviction ?” “Pray to God for light, and read his word.” “ Pray? I cannot.” will pray for you,
then." “ And read the Bible; for I have not strength now.” “Let us unite in prayer, and then I will read a chapter."
The sick man fell on his knees beside his friend, who poured out his soul in fervent prayer. The heart of the invalid was touched; and from time to time the word “ Amen” fell from his lips with earnestness.
Edward afterwards read aloud the third chapter of St. John's Gospel, and the friends separated.
The presentiments of the sick man, who was in the last stage of consumption, had not deceived him. A few weeks later he was dying. His faithful Charles wept in silence at the foot of his bed. The doctor slowly poured into a glass a few drops of cordial. The Curé had arrived, in the hope of inducing him to accept the succours of the church; and the invalid, lying upon the bed from whence he would never more rise, turned his languid looks from one to another of the spectators.
“ Your calmness," said the doctor, at last, “surprises me; particularly when I think on the distress in which I saw you a month since. But swallow a few drops of this cordial.”
“ It is quite superfluous; and I feel that I can better employ the time that remains, if you will listen to me.” “True,” interposed the priest, “the moments are precious ; if you
will permit me, I will now receive your confession, and”
“ No more of that, Monsieur le Curé; but if you will lend me your attention for a few minutes, I will thank
Will you both be seated ? and you, Charles, attend. The words of a dying man are always worth hearing.
“You are aware, my friends, in what a state of anguish you found me, a month since; and you also see the calmness which I now enjoy. I doubt not that it will please you to understand the reason of the change; and, better still, it may
The doctor and the priest brought their chairs nearer; and Charles leaned upon the bolster, that his master might not have to speak too loud. The dying man resumed: « You are all assured that in this momentous hour I have no interest in deceiving you; and that I feel too near the presence of God to dare to hide the truth. Listen, then, with confidence to a voice that will soon be for ever silent, but which is animated by a spirit that is shortly to ascend to the skies. Yes, to heaven, my friends: I know it; for there is in my heart an unerring witness that tells me so. You will recollect that my anguish proceeded from my desire of life, and my fear of being condemned before God. Well, to-day that desire is satisfied, and that fear has vanished. God has pardoned all my sins, and has given me eternal life; not that I merit now, more than I did a month since, this gift and this forgiveness, but only because Jesus has died for me, and I believe in him. And I know it; I feel it; I am certain of it! My confidence surprises you, I
I can only repeat to you the same thing. I am certain of it, because a Divine assurance—the Holy Spirit descended into my heart—is
witness. Yes, my friends, my thirst of life and the gnawings of my conscience at last conducted me to the truth. I bowed my knees. For the first time, I really prayed to God; and God, by his Holy Spirit, applied these words to my conscience: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.? God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“I responded to this appeal without delay, without hesitation, without reserve.
I cast myself into the arms of my God, ask
ing him for grace and pardon ; and God has forgiven me. He has assured me of it, in my soul; and he shows it to you by this tranquillity which astonishes you, and the joy which I express. Yes, joy; for now, whether I live or die, it matters not; I have secured my salvation. I shall live here or in eternity.”
“And where have you found all these ideas ?” said the doctor.
“Yes, where ?” added the priest.
“ There !” solemnly replied the dying man, placing, with a last effort, his hand on a small volume lying on the bed. That word and that movement were his last. He was no more.
The doctor seized the volume, opened it, and read aloud the title :
“ The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The priest took it in his turn, turned over a few of the leaves, and read these words, which fell under his eyes :
“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH,
London: J. & W. RIDER, Priuters, 14, Bartholomew Close.
A GREATER THAN A ROYAL PROMISE.
It was not without much deliberation that
Esther ventured, unbidden, into the presence of her lord, who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia. She was urged by Mordecai to do so, once and again ; her mind, in making the attempt, was sustained by the reflection, that, to ensure success, all the Jews that were present in Shushan did neither eat nor drink three days, night or day, and that she and her maidens did fast likewise. Her resolution being taken to risk her life in presenting her petition, she selected a favourable opportunity, made every needful arrangement with care, and, having assumed the position of a suppliant, patiently waited the issue. The result was successful. “ Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request ? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom."
Now, the most high God, the King of kings, is addressing a similar promise to you, the reader of this tract, whosoever you be. The Divine promise has not been extorted by urgent or extraordinary requests on the part of those to whom it is given. It has not been announced in answer to protracted supplications, or painful austerities, or heart-sickening suspense, on your part, or that of any of your fellow-sinners. It comes from the throne of God, spontaneously as the act of sovereign love, and freely as the breath of heaven. These are its significant and authentic terms :-“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth ; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone ? Or, if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall
Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him ? ” Matt. vii. 7-11.
What are we to ask ? The promise, as it stands, sets no limit to our requests.