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I thought of it the stranger it seemed; and I wanted somebody to tell me more about it; but I didn't like to ask anybody, so I went on a bit. And then I began to say the words more in earnest; but it wasn't because I wanted to be good and to walk in God's truth, but only 'cause I felt confused, and wanted to get clear.
“ But there was a something working in me all this while, and I began to feel that you must have kept your promise to pray for me, and that God's ear was open, and He was hearkening to you and answering you, as you'd said He would. And I. remembered you'd said, too, that He liked us to pray for ourselves as well. So I thought I'd try, for anything would be better than the wretched, unsettled state I'd got into. So I began to think about the words as I said ’em. I prayed them, like, as well as I was able to, and each time they grew more and more like a prayer.
“And then I began to feel different again, and wanted now to be different from what I was, in my life like, and to understand what His truth was really, and to learn what the way of salvation was. This all began while I was well and about, so you may fancy how much more I thought of it all when, some weeks after, I feli bad and had to take to my bed. I thought then it was all over with me, for if I had died where should I go? What would become of me? I was frightened then, and all roused up, but I didn't know what to do at all. I was like a person groping in the dark ; I couldn't see my way clear one bit.
“I had thought of you, ma'am, many and many a time before, and now I did long so for you to come and talk to me, and teach me what to do; but I didn't like to send to you, though, somehow, I knew you would come if I did send. I got my missus to read me verses out of a Bible of hers; but yet even those didn't set me right; they only showed me how good God must be, and so how awful wicked I must seem to Him; for they told me how loving and gracious and patient and forgiving He is, even to the vilest of us. Always waiting ready to receive us and take us safe under His care, and yet I couldn't get no farther.' I saw all that ought to be done by me, but I didn't know how to do it. I thought I must do something myself. I didn't know it only needed us to go to Him, like, with our heart, and ask Him to take us just as we are, and save us through Jesus Christ. He said we must go to Him, and it was just this 'going' that I didn't understand. How could I get to Him ?
“I couldn't see it, and I never saw it till to-night. To-night, as I lay here by myself, after th' missus had gone for you, I prayed as I've never prayed before, ‘Show me the way of Thy salvation.' And as I was wondering if He'd hear and ever heed me, the answer came. There came back to my mind the days when I was a little one at home, and my mother used to get us round her and tell us Bible stories. And I remembered her telling us all about Jesus Christ coming to suffer and die for us. And it all came home to me that I was one as He'd loved and died for; and that He'd been leading and guiding me all this time, though I hadn't known it. He sent you that morning to start me thinking, and then He's never let me alone since, but kept making me keep in mind all you said to me. And then He heard your prayers, and answered them by leading me to pray for myself; and the moment real, heartfelt words of prayer came from me, He at once answered them, and set me free. Ah ! I understand it all now. All God's love to us poor sinful creatures. How He suffered and died to save us, bearing the punishment of our sins Himself, because death alone could atone for such sins; and He was not willing that we all should die, so He died instead, and that because He loves us so. And all we've got to do is to believe this, and to go to Him with our hearts sincerely, and ask Him to make us purer, that so we may serve Him and love Him as we ought. Oh, when I think of His love I feel as if I could never, never sin again and grieve Him ! May He keep me !"
The man's heart was full, and he bowed his head on his
hands in silence. Then in a moment he lifted his face again, all bright and joyous, and said fervently, “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Oh, thanks be to Him for His mercy and goodness, and for leading me in His paths and teaching me, and showing me the way of His salvation. And thank you, ma'am, for your kindness to me that morning-I shall never forget it; and thank you for coming to-night. I am sorry you have such a walk back, but I know you won't mind it. Please to think of me sometimes. If I get better I will bring you word myself. If I die, my wife will let
Some weeks after he took word himself to Mrs. Preston that he was well, for his illness, which had been thought fatal, took a turn for the better, and he was able to go about again, and soon to his work again, but not back to his old, careless mode of living. Not doing as, alas ! so many do—keeping their good resolutions only so long as they are ill, and then, when health is restored to them, laying them aside, and forgetting all about them. No; Jem Ashurst strove with God's help to carry out his good resolves. He learned daily more of God's ways and truth ; learned daily to love Him more, and tried to serve Him better. And on and on he went, happy and blessed.
Counsels to Communicants.
Lord's Supper. It is a pledge of Christ's love.
come regularly. Never make an excuse that you would be ashamed to give to Christ Himself, when He
II. Gain a clear view of its nature and design. It is not the offering of a sacrifice, but a memorial of the one Sacrifice once offered on Cavalry. It is not to remind God
of Christ's death, but to remind ourselves, and each other. It is a precious means of grace, in which the souls of believers are nourished and strengthened with the spiritual food of Christ's body broken, and blood shed, on the cross. Moreover, it is a renewal of our covenant with God. It is a taking hold afresh of His sure promise. It is engaging ourselves afresh to be His, and His alone for ever. In addition to this, it is a sign of the unity and love which ought to be found amongst Christ's disciples. We ought to be one in heart, for we are all “ partakers of that one bread.”
III. Remember that everything depends on the prepared heart. Without this the Lord's Supper will be to you as a vessel without water. Hence it is needful to examine yourself, and to pray fervently for the grace of the Holy Ghost. Be humble, watchful, trustful. Live in daily expectation of Christ's glorious appearing.
IV. Beware of any unscriptural views with respect to this sacrament. There is no change in the elements. It is not needful to receive them fasting, for Christ instituted the feast after supper; also the Corinthians were bidden, before going, “if they hunger, to eat at home.” Neither is it necessary to receive them in any peculiar way. Christ looketh not at the hand, but at the heart of the recipient.
V. At the time of communicating, do not fix your atttention on the outward symbols of bread and wine. The grace of the sacrament is not there, but in the heart. Fix your thoughts on the invisible realities which are here shadowed forth. Think of that bruised and wounded form—that blood which cleanseth from all sin—that blessed promise, that He is present where two or three meet in His name—that marriage supper, where all His faithful ones shall sit down together with Him.
VI. As a communicant, you are specially cailed upon to be a faithful witness for Christ. Be very consistent in your daily walk. Be a worker in the Church to which you belong. Strive to bring stray sheep into the fold of Christ.
VII. Never forget that all your help and strength is in Christ, and in Him alone. Lean on Him. Look to Him. Rejoice in Him. He will be to you “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."
Christ was made Sin for Us.
ds He cross on which Christ was extended points in
the length of it to heaven and earth, reconciling them together, and, in the breadth of it, to former
and following ages, as being equally salvation to both. "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” says the prophet; took it off from us, and charged it on Him; made it “ to meet on Him," or to fall in together," as the original word is. The sins of all, in all ages before and after, that were to be saved, all their guiltiness, met together on His back upon the cross; and whosoever of all that number had least sin, yet had no small burden cast on Him ; and, to give accession to the whole weight, “every man had his own way of wandering,” as the prophet there expresses it, and He paid for all—all fell on Him. And as in testimony of His meekness and patience, so in this regard likewise, was He so silent in His sufferings, that though His enemies dealt most unjustly with Him, yet He stood as convicted before the justice-seat of His Father, under the imputed guilt of all our sins; and so eyeing Him, and accounting His business to be chiefly with Him, He did patiently bear the due punishment of all our sins at His Father's hands, according to that of the psalmist, “I was dumb, I opened not My mouth; because Thou didst it.” Therefore the prophet immediately subjoins that of His silent carriage to that which He had spoken concerning the confluence of our iniquities upon Him : “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” And if our sins were thus accounted His, then, in the same way, and for that very reason of necessity, His sufferings and satisfaction must be accounted ours.—Leighton.