Our Miseries, Messengers of Mercy
"Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."—Hosea 6:1-2
Fender feathers seek first to will their children by gentle means. The Lord, in his long-suffering, dealt very kindly with his erring Israel, sending them favor after favor, and blessing after blessing, saying by his acts, "I have given them their corn, and their wine, and their oil, they will surely turn unto me and say, 'Our Father, thou shalt be the guide of our youth.' But the more he multiplied his bounties, the more they multiplied their iniquities, and they burned sacrifice unto the gods of Edom, and of Moab, even to those that were no gods, saying, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which have given unto thee thy corn, and thy wine, and thy oil;" so they spent the mercies of God in sacrifice upon their idols, and committed transgressions with the false gods of the heathen, consuming upon their lusts the very mercies which God had sent to bring them to repentance. When at last God saw that this measure did not move them, because their sin was written as with an iron pen, and graven upon the very horns of their altars, then he tried harsher means; he hewed them by the prophets; they rose early and they prophesied until the going down of the sun, giving line upon line, precept upon precept, threatening them with the anger and vengeance of God. At last that vengeance came; he carried them away captive, and they went into a land that they knew not, among a cruel people, whose speech they could not understand. Again he delivered them out of the hand of their enemy; and yet, again, because of their sin, he sold them to Assyria, and afterwards to Babylon, that at last, after they had been rent and torn, they might say within themselves, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord." Now, my brethren, the people of Israel are but a picture of ourselves; especially are they representatives of a certain class, some of whom are now present. God has tried you with mercy upon mercy; kept you long in health, till you scarce ever had a day's sickness; given you all that you could wish, till your cup was brimming and flowing over; but you used his mercies for your own self-indulgence, and the bodily strength which was given you to be a blessing you have made a curse. Streams of mercy never ceasing God has vouchsafed to you, but your only return has been stream of sin, broad, and black, and deep. And now to-day he has been changing his ways with you. I am speaking to some whom God has of late heavily afflicted; seeing gentler means would not do, he has turned your wine into wormwood, and your honey into gall; he has made you sick in body and dispirited in mind; your earthly goods are melting like snow before the summer's sun; your children die before your very eyes, and the desire of your heart is taken away with a stroke. God has made all his waves and his billows go over you; the law has sounded ids trumpet in your ear and brought your sin to remembrance; conscience has started up in alarm from its long sleep and cries like a mighty man that waketh up from his slumber and finds the camp besieged. You are troubled and sore broken; your heart is melted like wax in the midst of your bowels, so that while you are sitting in the house of God to-day you are complaining.—"I am the man that has seen affliction;" and perhaps worse thank that you are groaning, "His wrath lieth hard upon me, I cannot look up." It is to you I am about to speak this morning. I single you out from the crowd, and yet I trust while I address you there may be also some words of comfort or of instruction for the rest of the congregation. Oh! may you, nay hearer, you upon whom I fix my eye this morning, you whose case is the case of Israel in Hosea, may you say, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." I desire to come straight up to you who are in this condition and put my hand inside yours, holding you fast while I strive in God's name to reason with you, beseeching God the Holy Spirit to reason better than I can, sweetly moving your soul, till you say, "I will arise and go unto my Father."
Three things I must do this morning; first, I must deal a blow, at the old Tempter, who has got the first hand at you; secondly, I will come to reason comfortably with you; and then, thirdly, I must lovingly persuade you, saying—
"Come, let us return unto the Lord."
I. First then, I must DEAL A BLOW AT THE OLD TEMPTER, WHO HAS GOT BEFORE ME AND HAS BEGUN TO DECEIVE YOU.
I cannot tell what is the precise temptation that Satan has been using with you, but I think it is very likely to be one of four.
The first one has been this—"Oh," saith he, "see how troubled you are, nothing prospers with you; what pains of body you suffer, and how depressed you are in spirit. God is a tyrant to you, he treats you cruelly; hate him, set your teeth together and curse him; say no, if he treats me thus he is not a God that I can love, I will abhor him from my very soul." I have uttered that temptation in startling language because such dark insinuations as this have been very common with much tried and troubled men. I remember many who, in telling their experience of how they were brought to Christ, have confessed that when first the hammer of God's law fell upon their hearts it hardened them, when God smote, they were like the bullock which kicks against the pricks of the ox-goad; they felt like a high blooded, unbroken horse, the bit was in their mouths, but they pulled and tugged at it, and the more it cut and wounded them the more resolved they were that they would not turn, in fact, hatred was stirred up against God by what was intended to bring them to his feet. Soul, doth Satan tempt thee thus? Then indeed it is a sad proof that sin is madness. I can only compare thy case to you poor maniac, who has labored hard to destroy himself by existing himself into the fire or into the water. Some kind person, willing to bear all the inconveniences of such an office, has volunteered to be his keeper. See, the man is dashing to the water's brink and means to throw himself into the stream, his keeper holds him back, and with stern words and sterner acts throws him down upon the ground, and binds him so that he cannot take the fatal leap. But look again, he longs to burn himself, he makes a tremendous effort to thrust his body into the flame, but his keeper shuts him up in a room where he cannot get at the devouring flame. All the "while this madman hates him, curses him, spits upon him, and would do anything if he could but kill his keeper and tear him to pieces in his fury. Mark you, when yonder maniac shall get back his reason, he will kiss the feet of that man whom now he hates, he will say—"I bless you for the loving violence which has restrained me from my own destruction, I thank you for denying me my own will, that you stood in my path and thwarted my mad desire, and that you would not let me ruin myself." Now, poor sinner, God is doing this with you. Oh! do not hate him. He does not hate you; he is not coaling with you in wrath, but in mercy. There is still behind the black cloud the sun of his mercy shining. Oh! that Satan may be cast out of you that you may not be tempted to hate God because of his sore smitings of you.
Or, perhaps, the temptations of Satan have taken another shape, not so much hatred as sullenness. You have lost all you care for now, and you think that your state does not matter much to you, you would as soon die as live, and as for your soul, you think you cannot be more wretched in hell itself than you are, and you say, "So let it be; it is so bad that it cannot be mended." You do not bestir yourself, but you sit down with a stony heart waiting to be crushed. You are like some poor man benighted on the frozen Alps, who feels sleep creeping upon him, and is content to lie down there and die, as he certainly must unless some friendly hand shall shake him out of his desperate sleep. There is a kind of numbness which pain brings to the body, which has its equivalent in the spirit, a numbness because the grief has been so acute, that nature could bear no more. Then death itself loses its horror in the nearer terrors of the soul. "My soul chooseth strangling rather than life." Soul, Satan desireth to have thee that he may utterly destroy thee, and this is one of his ways, he seeks to make thee torpid that he may find thee dead; for when thou art sullen he knows that the warnings of the ministry, and the earnest exhortations of the gospel, will have but little force with thee. Wake, man, wake! thy dander is awful! Multitudes have perished here. Wake, I pray thee, wake! Oh! if thou hast any sensibility left, bestir thee. Depend on it, that bad as thy case is, it will be worse in the world to come, unless the badness of it be now blessed to thy soul. Oh! man, the pains thou hast had as yet are but as the finger-ache, they are but mere trifles compared with the miseries of eternity. Instead of opiates to make thee sleep, let them be goads to stir thy sluggish flesh, and make thee start from the deadly couch of presumption. I would be but too glad if I might thrust lancets into thee again, and again, anything sooner than you should sleep that sleep of death and be utterly destroyed.
Possibly, however, the temptation of Satan has taken the form of despair. "Oh," saith he, "there is no hope for you; you can clearly perceive that you are the subject of divine hatred; God has not dealt with others as he has with you; these trials are but to first drops of the long shower of his eternal wrath. Depend upon it," says Satan, "now that your conscience is in this state, your convictions will deepen into a settled remorse, and then that remorse will end in final despair, and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord; your sins are too many and too great; there is hope for any man, but there is no hope for you; you are beyond the lines of mercy; the arm of grace is not long enough or strong enough to reach such a wretch as you are; you are not jammed in hell yet, but you are the same as if you were; you are reprobate; the decree shuts you out of heaven, while the greatness of your sin confirms it; you are bound up in fetters that cannot be broken and cast into a horrible pit lout of which you never can be drawn." Satan, thou art a liar, oh! that this poor heart did know it: I tell thee this to thy face, for thou didst once bewitch me with thy falsehood. Thou didst bring me into this state of despair too till I was ready to put an end to myself, because I thought nothing awaited me but the wrath of God. Oh! thou lying hell-hound, how thou didst slander my Lord and Master. He was willing to receive me, but thou modest me think he would reject me; he stood waiting about the door of my heart, saying, "Open to me," and thou saidst that he had gone, that he had shut up the bowels of his compassion, and doomed for ever to destruction. I will be even with thee, thou great destroyer of souls, for thy cruel treachery with me, as long as I live I will raise the hue and cry against thee. Soul, do not thou believe him, he is a murderer of souls, and a liar from the beginning; there is hope for you; there is hope for you now. There is still the gospel preached to you: still is it freely presented in your hearing. May you say today, "Come, let us return unto the Lord" and he will heal you; he will bind you up; he will receive you to his heart; he will in no wise cast you out.
But it may occur, that yet a fourth temptation has been tried with some of you. Satan has said, "Well, now, you can see it is of no use. Give it up altogether, and if you cannot be happy one way, try another; you clearly perceive that you are shut out of heaven, well, make the best of this world." "Now," says the devil, "Christ will not have you, what is the use of your going to a place of worship? Do not go, stay away, it is hopeless; the gospel will never be of any use to you; you have heard it these three or four years, and you only get more hardened; don't go again; besides, why make yourself miserable for nothing; drink your fill of the world's delight, if you cannot get the best good, get the other; eat, drink, and be merry; live a fast life, and satisfy yourself; you may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb; you may as well perish for a great sin as perish for a little one. God evidently has cast you off, follow your own way and choose your own delight." Oh! soul, oh! soul, how sad it is that these afflictions and warnings of conscience which are meant to bring you to Christ should be used by Satan as the reason why you should go from Christ. Oh! soul, the Lord has designs of mercy for you now he has begun to try you in your circumstances and afflict you in your soul; and the devil knows it, and is afraid of losing you and so he wants you to get out of the way of mercy just when mercy is coming. What, suppose you have as yet gained no good by attending the means of grace, does that prove that you will not soon be blessed? You are travelling in the wilderness, you had a torch, and the wind blew it out: you lit it again, and it blew it out again, do not say that therefore you will never see. The sun is rising, the sun is rising, and the fact that torches have been blown out does not prove that the night will last for ever. If your false hopes have left you, and your self-righteous trusts have all been taken away, I am glad. I am glad it is dark with you, for the darkest part of the night is that which heralds the dawning of the day. I am glad the Lord has laid you how, for it is now he means to hit you up. Do not I pray you be cajoled out of this divine mercy by the temptations of the fiend of hell. Rouse thee, man! Cry, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him! If I be at Bethesda's pool and the water be not stirred, yet will I die there," (that you will never do; mark that) "though I pray, and he hears me not, yet my cries even to my dying hour shall go up to him." And mark you, he will surely hear you; only, do not be led astray of the Evil One to turn what is the mercy of God into an excuse for excess of riot; but, do you rather listen now to the voice of wisdom and mercy, while I seek in the second place to reason with you comfortably that I may bring you to say, "Come, let us return unto the Lord."
II. Now forget your troubles, for a little while if you can, or only think of them as a background for the brightness of THE COMFORT which I would give you as God's messenger.
1. So you say you have had so many trials in life, and so many strivings of conscience, that therefore you feel you must be too guilty to be saved. Do you think that you have been punished for your sins? Permit me to remind you that this is not the place where the Judge of all the earth usually punishes sin; his wrath he reserves for the day of judgment and the world to come. All sorrow is the result of sin, but still it does not come to any particular man, except in some remarkable instances, because of any special sin in him. Now there was Job—will you equal him among the saints? Was he not one of the chief of them? Yet he was more tried than any other man; that evidently was not because he was a greater sinner than others. Do you not know the fact that often the most wicked men are the most prosperous, whilst the most holy are the most afflicted? Therefore this is not the place where God dispenses providence according to the sole and absolute rule of justice; that is to be in the world to come? How would you account for such an instance as this, which occurred not long ago in a certain railway accident? There were two men who entered the train; one of them a Christian, the other a worldling. The Christian man took his seat; so did the other. At a station the worldly one said, "I should like a game of cards; will you get out and go with me?—there is So-and-so in such a carriage; come with me, and we will play together." "No," said the other, "I would much rather be out of your company, if that is what you are at." "Well then," said he, "good morning, I am going there." An accident of the most frightful character occurred; the Christian man saw those on each side of lam killed; his two companions crushed, and himself such a mass of bruises and broken brings as you scarcely ever saw; his leg broken in seven different places, and himself as it seemed at death's doctor. His companion who went to play cards, was perfectly safe all the carriage in which he rode was untouched! Now, this plainly shows that this is of the world in which God deals with men according to the rules of justice. Ships sink whether men are at prayer, or whether they are cursing God. Providence here is not ordered according to the rule by which God shall dispense his favors or his fury in the world to come. This is the land of long-suffering rather than of execution. This is the land where God in his wise providence rather brings us to repentance than to punishment. Now I can see the hand of God in all. The man who escaped as a card player, I fear, was hardened by the providence by which he escaped. Yet, mark you, God was glorified, because his providence will become a savor of death unto death to that man should he live and die impenitent, while in the Christian who was thus injured God is honored, for if you could see him as I saw him, with his smiling face relating the fact that he has never murmured once, though he had laid upon his bed for very many weeks, you would only admire the favor and goodness of God which gave the sinner space for repentance, and gave the believer room to display the grace of patience. It was good for the one that he was afflicted, it was good for the other that he escaped. But this is not the hand of punishment, and your having more afflictions than others, may be because God loves you; certainly it is not because he hates you. I have seen the wicked in great power, spreading themselves like green bay-trees; and I have seen them in their death too, and they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men; they are at ease, they are settled on their lees; they are not emptied from vessel to vessel. As for God's people, they are chastened every morning, and vexed every evening and the Lord's hand lieth heavy on them; yet there is God's goodness in that heavy hand, and infinite lovingkindness in their tribulations. God only gives the wicked prosperity as we give husks to swine; he gives them this world's transient things because he loves them not. I pray you then, do not misconstrue your sufferings of body and mind, they may be tokens of mercy; they certainly are not indicators of any special wrath.
Secondly, you will say that you have great distress of mind, and trials of soul, and therefore there is no hope for you. I say, therefore, there is hope. Perhaps some of those troubles of mind come from Satan. Now observe this, Satan very seldom troubles those men who are all his own. A poor negro who had been tempted by Satan was once laughed at by his master about it. Said he, "The devil never tempts me, I do not even know that there is such a being in existence." They went out sometime after shooting wild ducks, and as the master shot at a covey of them and borne of them were wounded he was exceedingly earnest with clubs and stones to secure those that were wounded, while he left those that were evidently dead to float on the stream till he had time to pick them up. This gave the negro a fine opportunity of explaining his master's experience. "Massa, whilst you was a splashin' in de water after dem wounded ducks, and lettin' de dead ones float on, it jist come into my mind why it is dat de debil troubles me so much whilst he lets you alone. You are like de dead ducks, he's sure he's got you safe. I'm like de wounded ones, trying to git away from him, and he's afraid I'll die it, so he makes all de fuss after me and jist lets you float on down de stream. He knows he can get you any time, but he knows it now or never wid me. If you were to begin to flutter a little and show signs like you were a goin' to get away from him, he would make jist as big a splashin' after you as he does after me."
But again, you will remember that it is not God's way to send convictions of sin to reprobates. Do men plough the sand? Do they send their oxen upon the rock? No, they attempt to use materials that are utterly rotten? No, they give them up, and leave them alone. Now, why is the all-wise Jehovah at work with you unless he has gracious designs for you; I hope it is because he is about to bring you to himself.
Let me show you yet in the third place that this is according to the analogy of nature. Did you ever hear this parable? There was a certain shepherd who had a sheep, which he desired to lead into another and better field. He called it and it would not come, he led it and it would not follow, he drove it but it would only follow in own devices. At last he thought within himself "I will do this." The sheep had a little lamb by its side, and the shepherd took the lamb up in his arms, and carried it away, and then the ewe came too. And so with you, God has been calling to you, mother, and you did not come. Christ said "Come," and you would not, he sent affliction and you would not come, then he took your child away, and you came then, you followed the Saviour then. You see it was loving work on the shepherd's part, he did but take the lamb to save the sheep, the Saviour took your child to heaven that he might bring you to heaven. We had before the church the other night a sister who is here now I dare say, there were four in the family and the Lord took one child away. But that was not enough he took another, and another, and the fourth lay sick and ready to, die and then the mothers heart was broken, and mother and father both came to Jesus Oh! blessed afflictions, blessed losses, blessed deaths that end in spiritual life! Now this I trust is how God is dealing with you. You know, if a man has a field and desires to gather a harvest from it, what does he do? First of all he ploughs it. The field might say, "Why these scars across my face? Why thus upturn my sods?" Because there can be no sowing till there has been ploughing, sharp ploughshares make furrows for good seed. Or take yet another picture from nature. A man desireth to make of a rusty piece of iron a bright sword which shall be serviceable to a great warrior. What doth he do? He putteth it into the fire and melteth it, he taketh away all its dross and removeth all its till, then he fashioneth it with his hammer, he beateth it full sore upon the anvil, he anneals it in one fire after another till at last it comes out a good blade that will not snap in the day of warfare. This is what God doeth with you—I pray you do not misread the book of God's providence, for if you read it aright it runs thus—"I will have mercy on this man and therefore have I smitten him and wounded him. Come, therefore, let us return unto the Lord, for he hath wounded and he will heal, he hath smitten and he will bind us up."
I have other arguments to use, and you must bear with me somewhat patiently. Thou art wounded in spirit this morning, poor mourner, wilt thou remember that it is God's delight to bind up broken hearts. "He telleth the number of the stars." What its the next verse—do you remember it?—"He bindeth up the broken in heart." What a mighty stoop this is! From counting the stars and leading them forth, mighty worlds though they be, he bows to become a surgeon to the poor wounded heart. You know what Christ's occupation is in heaven—"If he shall wipe away tears from oft an faces." What a blessed occupation—wiping away tears! Soul, Christ will be glad to wipe away thy tears now. He delights to do it—Christ is never more happy than when he is showing his heart to shiners, he is so glad when he can find his poor lost sheep, and put it on his shoulders and carry it home. It will maker you glad to be saved; but he will be infinitely glad to save you, and delighted to receive you, for he delighteth in mercy.
Please remember, yet once again, that the wounds which you now feel he made himself, and if he is willing to heal any wounds, how much more those that he has himself made. There are some diseases in which the surgeon is compelled to wound; the proud flesh has gotten in; the cure has been a bad one, and in order that it may be thoroughly sound, he perhaps makes a cross out, a deep cross cut that goes into the very core of the matter. Well, his lances has made a bad wound, do you think the doctor will not do his best to heal it? I will go to him and say, "Surgeon, thou didst thyself make the wound, thou modest it in order to my healing, heal the wound, I pray thee, heal me." Occasionally when a man has broken his leg, it has been badly set by some bungler, and when he has consulted a skillful surgeon, he says, "I can do nothing for you till I break your leg again." And so often is it with men's minds; they get peace, peace, when there is no peace, and there is no doing anything with them until God breaks their heart again. Suppose a surgeon should break a man's led again, do you think he would go away and leave the poor man without setting it? No, he broke that he might heal, that he might make the cure a sound one. And so is it, perhaps, with your broken heart. Go to him, then, go to him; say, "Lord, thou didst break my heart; I was a hard blasphemer once, but thou hast brought me to my knees. I once said, 'I would never enter a place of worship;' Lord, thou knowest I go there now, though I get no comfort there, but I pray thee give me comfort. It was such-and-such a sermon that brought me to despair; Lord, guide thy servant to preach another that will bring me into liberty. Lord, if thou hast not broken my heart, break it now; but if thou hast broken it, Lord, I appeal to thee to heal it. Thou hast begun the work by killing me, finish the work by making me alive; thou hast begun by stripping me, Lord, clothe me." That is good argument; he will surely do it, he will not fail to carry on and complete that which he has begun to perform.
Once more only—and perhaps this will be the best argument of all—remember you have got his promise for it. The text I read as a promise. It looks at first sight as if it were spoken by man, and so it is; but then inasmuch as it is put in God's book as the utterance of God's inspired prophet, it is a part of God's word, and it is warranted to be most true. "He hath torn and he will heal." Go and put your finger on this text and say, "Lord, thou hast torn me, and it is written in thy word, 'He will heal us;'"
"Lord, I know thou canst not lie,
Heal my soul or else I die."
Put you your finger on the next—"He will bind us up." Say, "Lord, I do not deserve it; I deserve only to perish, but then thou hast said thou wilt do it, be as good as thy word. Lord, here is a poor sinner near despair, he comes to thee, bind up his broken heart; give him peace;"—and soul, the everlasting hills shall bow, the hoary deep shall itself be burned up, and earth's foundation shall be removed, but God's word shall never pass away, nor shall his promise fail in one single case. Only believe the promise; receive the promise, and this very day, poor broken heart, he will heal thy wounds, and thou shalt have joy and peace in believing through Jesus Christ our Lord.
III. I shall not detain you much longer, but I have now the third point to dwell on upon which earnestly. And O Spirit of the living God bless these words, Jesu, do thou woo hearts to thyself whilst we seek to will them to thy love.
And now I would come LOVINGLY TO PERSUADE YOU, and the persuasion I would use is this—"Come, let us return unto the Lord." Do you see it! The prophet does not say, "Go," but "Come;" he does not say, "Go you," but "Come, let us." Poor soul, thou sayest there is none like thyself; behold I take my place side-by-side with thee. Art thou a sinner? So am I. Dost thou deserve God's wrath? So do I. Hast thou gone very far astray? So have I. Come, let us return, let us go together. Or if that comfort thee not enough, let me tell thee I have gone as thou now art; as despairing, perhaps more so; as cast down, perhaps worse, but I have found him to be a loving Saviour, a blessed Saviour, willing and able to save to the uttermost. Soul, come and try him, come and try him. My brothers and sisters in Christ in Christ reject you when you came to him? You were as bad as others, some in you were worse, did he reject you? I am sure that if I should ask it there would be not one thousand here but a vast company, who would rise and say, "I sought the Lord and he heard me, this poor man cried, and the Lord heard me and delivered me from all my fears." Soul, come, let us return. He saved me; he will save you.
"Tell it unto sinners tell
I am, I am saved from hell."
If he could and would save one, why not another; and if the thousands of Israel, why not poor sinful you?
Then, that I may persuade you further, let me remind you that to return to God is not a cruel request to you. He does not ask you to perform a pilgrimage and blister your weary feet, or to thrust an iron in your back and swing yourself aloft as does the Hindoo, he asks you not to lie on a bed of spikes or starve yourself till you can count your bones. He asks no suffering of you, for Christ has suffered for you. All he asks is than you would return to him, and what is that? That you would be unfeignedly sorry for your past sin, that you would ask his grace to keep you from it in the future, that you would now believe in Christ who is set forth to be the propitiation for sin, that through faith in his blood you may see your sin for ever put away and all your iniquity cancelled. That is neither a hard nor a cruel demand. It is for your good as well as for his glory. O Spirit of God, make the sinner now willing to repent and to believe in Christ.
But, yet again, remember the comfortable fruits which will surely follow if you return. What would you think if I could show you yourself within a week? There he stands; he is singing—
"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with thy righteousness on,
My person and offering to bring.
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood,
Hide all my transgressions from view."
What man is that? Why, that is the man who came in here last Sunday morning, and said he was utterly lost. He heard the minister exhort him to trust Christ, and he did it, and that is where he is standing now. He has been brought up out of a horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and his feet are set upon a rock. "If I thought that would be the case," saith one, "I would try it." My dear sir, you need not think it will be the case. God promises—and he cannot lie—"He that believeth and is baptized," he does not say, "may be," but "shall be saved," and God's "shalls" and "wills" do not play with men; but he speaks them in real earnestness. "Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved." Dare you say that this is not true? "No," say you, "it is undoubtedly true." Well, then, if you call upon the name of the Lord you shall be saved, or else the promise is false. Again, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson, they Enroll be whiter than snow." Do you believe that? Is it not a promise made to the penitent who casts himself at the feet of Jesus? Very well, try it personally, and if you cast yourself there, either this book must be withdrawn, and God must change, Christ's blood must lose its power, and God must un-God himself, or else he must and will save you. Oh! that there were such a heart in you, and such a mind towards God, that you would now say, "I do believe; I will believe; I trust my Saviour with my soul." This done, you are saved.
Once more, may I not plead with you to return to God, because of the precious love of Christ? Love, I know, has great power to move. You will remember how in that wonderful book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," there is a singular instance of the power of love. Miss Ophelia had been laboring to train up that wicked girl biopsy, but she would not learn anything, though Miss Ophelia tried to make her say the Assembly's Catechism, in order that she might know all about it. But one day, Eva, the little five, (the very gospel incarnate, just as Miss Ophelia was the picture of the law,) sits down by her side, and says to her, "Topsy, why will be so naughty; what is it makes you so wicked?" "Miss Eva," says Topsy, "it aren't no use any being good nobody loves me." The little girl puts her arm round her neck and kisses her, saying. "Why I love you, Topsy, and it grieves me very much to see you so naughty." "Oh!" said Topsy, "I will try to be good if you will but love me." Love had won the poor child, and had subdued her. Well, now, perhaps you are saying, "If Christ would but say he would love me, I think I could repent that I ever sinned against him; I think I would be willing to give him my heart." Soul, if that is what you say, he does love you. He loved you and gave himself for you. Behold his cross—is there better proof of love than that? See his flowing wounds; hear how he groans; behold him dying! "It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and he saves them because he loves them. Oh! if that love will woo you, it is indeed in plenteous abundance flowing down to you now. "Ah! well," you say, "I cannot do enough for him." If that be true, I am glad you have got as far as that, and I have finished when I have told you an anecdote which I trust will do us all good.
A missionary was preaching to the Maori tribe of the New Zealanders. He had been truing them of the suffering love of Christ, how he had poured forth his soul unto death for them; and as he concluded, the hills rung to the thrilling question—"Is it nothing to all who pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto his Borrow?" Then stood forth a plumed and painted chief, the scarred warrior of a thousand fights, and as his lips quivered with suppressed emotion, he spoke. "And did the Son of the Highest suffer all this for us men? Then the Indian chief would like to offer him some poor return for his great love. Would the Son of God deign to accept the Indian's hunting dog? Swift of foot and keen of scent the tribe has not such another, and he has been to the Indian as a friend." But the missionary told him that the Son of God had need of no such gifts as these. Thinking he had mistaken the gift he resumed—"Yet perchance he would accept the Indian's rifle? Unerring of aim, the chief cannot replace it." Again the missionary shook his head. For a moment the chief paused; then as a new thought struck him, suddenly despoiling himself of his striped blanket he cried with childlike earnestness, "Perhaps he who had not where to lay his head will yet accept the chieftain's blanket. The poor Indian will be cold without it, yet it is offered joyfully." Touched by love's persistency, the missionary tried to explain to him the real nature of the Son of God; that it was not men's gifts but men's hearts that he yearned for. For a moment a cloud of grief darkened the granite features of the old chief; then as the true nature of the Son of God slowly dawned upon him, casting aside his blanket and rifle he clasped his hands, and looking right up into the blue sky, his face beaming with joy, he exclaimed—"Perhaps the Son of the Blessed One will deign to accept the poor Indian himself!"
Is that what you say this morning? You would give Christ this, and that, and the other. Soul, give him your heart. Say to him now,
"Jesus, I love thy charming name,
'Tis music to my ear;
Fain would I sound it out so loud,
That earth and heaven might hear."
And then it is done; the compact is concluded; the work is over; thou art in the arms of Christ, thou lovest him and he loves thee. He wounded but he has healed; he killed thee but he has made thee alive. Go in peace; thou art loved much; thy sin which are many are all forgiven thee."