to Me & be
for I am
In my conversion, the very point lay in making the discovery that I had
nothing to do but
To look to Christ
and I should be saved.
I believe that I had
been a very good, attentive hearer; my own impression about myself was
that nobody ever listened much better than I did. For years, as a child, I
tried to learn the way of salvation; and either I did not hear it set
forth, which I think cannot quite have been the case, or else I was
spiritually blind and deaf, and could not see it and could not hear it;
but the good news that I was, as a sinner, to look away from myself to
Christ, as much startled me, and came as fresh to me, as any news I ever
heard in my life. Had I never read my Bible? Yes, and I read it earnestly.
Had I never been taught by Christian people? Yes, I had, by mother, and
father, and others. Had I not heard the gospel? Yes, I think I had; and
yet, somehow, it was like a new revelation to me that I was to ''believe
and live.'' I confess to have been tutored in piety, put into my cradle by
prayerful hands, and lulled to sleep by songs concerning Jesus; but after
having heard the gospel continually, with line upon line, precept upon
precept, here much and there much, yet, when the Word of the Lord came to
me with power, it was as new as if I had lived among the unvisited tribes
of Central Africa, and had never heard the tidings of the cleansing
fountain filed with blood, drawn from the Savior's veins.
When, for the first time, I received the gospel to my soul's salvation, I
thought that I had never really heard it before, and I began to think that
the preachers to whom I had listened had not truly preached it. But, on
looking back, I am inclined to believe that I had heard the gospel fully
preached many hundreds of times before, and that this was the
difference,--that I then heard it as though I heard it not; and when I did
hear it, the message may not have been any more clear in itself than it
had been at former times, but the power of the Holy Spirit was present to
open my ear, and to guide the message to my heart….
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had
it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday
morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go
no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive
Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen
people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly
that they made people's heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I
wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did
not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that
morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a
shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit
to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this
man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple
reason that he had little else to say. The text was,--'
LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED,
ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter.
There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher
'My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It
says, 'Look.' Now lookin' don't take a deal of pains. It ain't liftin'
your foot or your finger; it is just, 'Look.' Well, a man needn't go to
College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can
look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone
can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, 'Look unto Me.'
Ay!'' said he, in broad Essex, ''Many on ye are lookin' to yourselves, but
it's no use lookin' there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves.
Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says,
'Look unto Me.' Some on ye say, 'We must wait for the Spirit's workin'.'
You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says,
'Look unto Me.' ''
Then the good man followed up his text in this way:--
''Look unto Me; I am sweatin' great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin' on the cross.
Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto
Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin' at the Father's right
hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!''
When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes
or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the
gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.
Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said,
''Young man, you look very miserable.''
Well, I did; but I
had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my
personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right
home. He continued,
''and you always will be miserable--miserable in life, and miserable in
death,--if you don't obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you
will be saved.''
Then, lifting up his
hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do,
''You man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin' to do
but to look and live.''
I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,--I did
not take much notice of it -- I was so possessed with that one thought.
Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and
were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but
when I heard that word, ''Look!'' what a charming word it seemed to me!
Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then
the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw
the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most
enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and simple faith
which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before,
''Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.''…
It is not everyone who can remember the very day and hour of his
deliverance; but, as Richard Knill said, ''At such a time of the day,
clang went every harp in Heaven, for Richard Knil was born again,'' it was
e'en so with me. The clock of mercy struck in Heaven the hour and moment
of my emancipation, for the time had come. Between half-past ten o'clock,
when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o'clock, when I was back
again at home, what a change had taken place in me! I had passed from
darkness into marvelous light, from death to life.
Simply by looking to
Jesus, I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a
joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me,
''Something wonderful has happened to you;'' and I was eager to tell them
all about it….I have always considered, with Luther and Calvin, that the
sum and substance of the gospel lies in that word Substitution, --Christ
standing in the stead of man. If I understand the gospel, it is this: I
deserve to be lost for ever; the only reason why I should not be damned
is, that Christ was punished in my stead, and there is no need to execute
a sentence twice for sin. On the other hand, I know I cannot enter Heaven
unless I have a perfect righteousness; I am absolutely certain I shall
never have one of my own, for I find I sin every day; but then Christ had
a perfect righteousness, and He said, ''There, poor sinner, take My
garment, and put it on; you shall stand before God as if you were Christ,
and I will stand before God as if I had been the sinner; I will suffer in
the sinner's stead, and you shall be rewarded for works which you did not
do, but which I did for you.'' I find it very convenient every day to come
to Christ as a sinner, as I came as the first. ''You are no saint,'' says
the devil. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into
the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope I have
none. By looking to Him, I received all the faith which inspired me with
confidence in His grace; and the word that first drew my soul--''Look unto
Me,''--still rings its clarion note in my ears. There I once found
conversion, and there I shall ever find refreshing and renewal.