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HOPE OF RECOVERY.
and Christless state, I should have been lost for ever; for I was profoundly ignorant of the necessity of change of heart -perfectly unconscious that I must be born again of the Spirit. This vital truth had never come to my mind; I felt a love for God, and in my ignorance I wished to die.
One morning the thought came to me, as I was sitting all alone by the fire, "What have I been praying for?— that the Lord would take me to heaven if I died; or, if I lived, that He would let me live to His glory?" Why, this is heaven both ways!-heaven in heaven, or heaven on earth-whichever way it pleases God to answer my prayer. Somehow I felt certain that He would answer it. I was exceedingly happy, and could not help thanking Him. From that day I began to feel better, and became impressed with the idea that I was to live, and not die. The doctor smiled at me when I told him so, for he did not believe it. He, and two other physicians, had told me that my lungs were diseased; indeed, six months afterwards, all three sounded me, and declared that one lung was inoperative, and the other much affected.
Yet, notwithstanding the doctor's discouraging announcement-for he told me, also, that "it was one of the fatal signs of consumption for the patient to feel or think he was getting better "I had a certain conviction that I was to recover. As soon as the medical man had gone, I put on my coat and hat, and went out for a walk. I trembled much from weakness, and found it necessary to move very slowly and stop often; but under the shelter of a wall, courting the warmth of the bright-shining sun, I managed to make my way to the churchyard.
While I was sitting there alone, the great bell struck out unexpectedly, and caused me to shake all over; for I was in a very weak condition. It was the sexton tolling to announce the departure of the soul of some villager from
Having done this, he came out with his boards and tools to dig the grave. He did not observe me sitting by; so he at once commenced, and went on diligently with his work. The ground had so often been broken before, that it did not take him long to accomplish his task he gradually got deeper and deeper into the ground, till he disappeared altogether from my sight. I crept to the edge of the narrow pit in which he was, and looking into it, I could not help thinking of those words of Kirke White
"Cold grave, methinks, 'twere sweet to rest
I had no fear of death, but rather felt that I should welcome it even more than restoration to health.
I have even now a most vivid remembrance of this, and place it on record to show how delusive are our feelings: because I did not feel any danger, I took it for granted that there really was none. That day, however, was an eventful one in my life; for, in the gladness of my heart, I gave myself to God, to live for Him. I had given my will before, and now I gave my life, and was happy in the deed. I did not know at that time that faith does not consist in believing that I have given myself, even if I meant it ever so sincerely; but in believing that God has taken or accepted
At the outset, I began with the former-a merely human faith and its result was consequently imperfect. I was spiritually dead, and did not know it. Alas! what multitudes there are who are utterly unconscious of the fact of this spiritual death, though there are few things more plainly declared and revealed in the Word of God.
The full meaning of the word DEATH is too often misunderstood and overlooked. There are three kinds referred to in the Word of God-spiritual, natural, and everlasting. The first is a separation of the soul from God; the second,
DEATH AND LIFE
that of the body from the soul; and the last, that of the unbelieving man, body and soul, from God for ever.
It will be seen that there is one characteristic which is common to all three kinds—that is, separation; and that there is no idea of finality—death is not the end. When the Lord God created man, we suppose that He made him not merely in the form of a body, but a man with body and soul complete; and afterwards that He breathed into this living man the Spirit, and he became a living soul. As such, he communed with the eternal God, who is a Spirit. In this spiritual state he could walk and converse with God in the garden of Eden. When, however, he disobeyed the command which had been given to him, he incurred the tremendous penalty. The Lord God had said, "In the day that thou eatest of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt surely die." He did eat and he died there and then; that is, he forfeited that spirit which had quickened his soul, and thus became a dead soul; though, as we know, he remained a living man for nine hundred years before his body returned to its dust.
By his one act of disobedience, Adam opened in an instant (as an earthquake opens a deep chasm) the great gulf, the impassable gulf of separation which is fixed between us and God. By nature, as the children of Adam, we are all on the side which is away from God; and we are become subject also to the sentence pronounced against the life of the body. We know and understand that we are mortal, and that it is appointed unto men once to die; but we do not seem to be aware of the more important fact of the death of our souls. Satan, who said to our first parents, "Ye shall not surely die," employs himself now in deceiving men by saying, "Ye are not dead ;" and multitudes believe him, and take it for granted that it is actually true. Thus they go on unconcerned about this awful and stupendous reality.
ITH returning health and strength, I did not think of going back into the world, but rather gave myself more fully to the purpose for which I supposed that my life had been restored. I felt a thankfulness and joy in my recovery, which confirmed me more and more in my determination to live to the glory of God.
When I was able to return to the South, I did so by easy stages till I got back to the neighbourhood of London; and there it was ordered that I should be shut up for the remainder of the winter.
During this season of retirement, I spent my time most happily in reading and prayer, and found great delight in this occupation. I was able to say, with the Psalmist, "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplication;" and, like him, I could say, "I will call upon Him as long as I live; I will walk before Him in the land of the living; and I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord." That is, in secret or private life; in social intercourse with my fellow-men; and in the worship of the sanctuary, I will seek the glory of God.
TURNING A NEW LEAF.
I used to have much pleasure every day in asking God to give me a deeper sense of His love, that I might unfeignedly thank Him, and show forth His praise with my life as well as my lips.
All this, be it observed, was because God had saved not my soul, but my life; for as yet I had not, like the Psalmist, felt any trouble about my soul. I knew nothing of what he describes as the "sorrows of death and the pains of hell.” I had not been awakened by the Spirit to know the danger and sorrow of being separated from God (which is spiritual death). I was perfectly unconscious that between God and myself there was the "impassable gulf" I have already referred to, and consequently I had not experienced such overwhelming anxiety as made the Psalmist cry out, "O Lord, I beseech Thee, deliver my soul." I knew nothing of the necessity of passing from death to life, and therefore I could not say, "The Lord has delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."
The only thing I knew was that God was good to me, and therefore I loved Him, and was thankful, not for the sake of getting His favour, but because I thought I had it. I turned over a new leaf, and therewith covered up the blotted page of my past life. On this new path I endeavoured to walk as earnestly in a religious way, as I had before lived in a worldly one.
This mistake into which I fell was natural enough, and common as it is natural; but for all this it was very serious, and might have been fatal to me, as it has proved to multitudes. I did not see then, as I have since, that turning over a new leaf to cover the past, is not by any means the same thing as turning back the old leaves, and getting them washed in the blood of the Lamb.
I have said before that I did not know any better; nor was I likely to see matters in a clearer light from the line of