When a heavy storm is raging, and the waves run mountains high, when nothing is seen hour after hour but the wild waste of turbulent waters, the traveller is made to feel that his safety lies alone, humanly speaking, in the vessel in which he is voyaging.
But what must be the feeling when the vessel is foundering, and there is not enough room in the lifeboats for all! The cry goes forth, redounding to the honour of brave men, “Women and children first!”
Have not our hearts been thrilled when we have read of troops standing at attention, as on the ill-fated Birkenhead , moment after moment, till at last the steamer has taken its final plunge into the fearful deep, carrying them down to certain death?
But, thank God, when it comes to the question not of saving the body from a watery grave, but of saving the soul from an eternal hell, it is not a question of “Women and children first,” but of “Whosoever will.” How many a brave man has perished at sea to let women and children be saved, who has in the hour of his dire need turned to the Lord, and as the deck of the vessel sank under his feet, carrying him to certain death, he has been saved by believing on Christ for all eternity. Only the great day, when everything shall be revealed, will declare what God hath wrought under such circumstances.
My reader, are you saved? There is room in the scheme of salvation for ALL. How blessed! The old and young, the man and woman, the rich and poor, the learned and ignorant, the white and black, all are welcome. Oh! that wonderful, God-honoured verse, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but HAVE everlasting life” (John 3:16). There is no excuse for you, if you are unsaved. The door of blessing is open, wide open, in the grace of God. You have but to enter.
Scattered Seed 403 (1917)
Windsor Castle is the chief royal residence of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland. It was first a fortress in the time of William the Conqueror. Henry I made great additions to it, and transformed it from a fortress into a palace. Nearly every king or queen since has increased this truly stately castle. James II and William of Orange added fine collections of oil-paintings; during the reigns of George III and George IV more than a million of public money was expended upon it, whilst stables were erected in the reign of Queen Victoria. So many monarchs have resided there that Windsor Castle has been called “The home of kings.”
But can this be rightly called a home, for after all the royal inmates use it but for a few brief, transient years, and then? And then?
It carries my mind back to a very different scene which happened years ago. It was in a busy, dirty, northern town and a Sunday evening in summer time. A crowd was gathered round a street preacher, a young man who has since risen to great eminence.
I can hear his ringing joyful voice. I can recall his beaming face and uplifted finger. I remember his words with a thrill to this day: “You ask me for my permanent address. It is the Father's house on high!”
Happy young man! But stranger and a pilgrim here; he knew the joyful end of life's journey. Could a King or Queen have wished for more?
And whether you are an inmate of Windsor Castle or a beggar in a vagrant ward, the grace of God is open to all. Have you accepted that grace? Do you know what it is to be saved?
If you are a believer, then the Lord's words come to you: “In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
What a glorious prospect for the believer on the Lord Jesus! His home—the home of the Son of God is ours, and it is better far than any home of kings.
Scattered Seed, 402 (1917)
I remember, when I was a child, my young friends used to ask me to write my name in their birthday books. I found nearly always the text opposite my date was,
“THOU GOD SEEST ME.”
Time after time this verse appeared opposite my date, until at length I was troubled by it.
I went about with the feeling that God was looking at me, and it made me miserable, for I was not converted.
There is a tale of a punishment certain prisoners used to endure years ago in a foreign land.
They were put in prison—a small cell. There was a hole, and a jailer was stationed to keep his eye looking through the hole at the prisoner. The prison was so small, that the prisoner could not get out of sight of this eye with its steady stare upon him.
When one jailer was tired, another would take his place, and so, night and day this eye was staring upon the poor prisoner, until at length the strain upon him was so great, that he would go out of his mind.
Now, if a human eye looking upon you constantly is so terrible, what about God looking at you?
When you are out of your parent's sight; away from the schoolmaster's or school-mistress's sight, remember GOD SEES YOU.
He reads your heart, and knows all you do, and your sins are all written down by Him.
Another thing troubled me when I was a child. I knew the Lord was coming, and that I was not ready.
Oh! I remember often waking up in the night, and feeling afraid that the Lord had come, and had taken my father and mother to heaven, and all the Christians, and had shut to the door of heaven, and left me behind to be damned for ever.
I would fall asleep again, troubled and anxious. How eagerly I went downstairs in the morning to see if my father and mother were there. When I saw them, as usual, how relieved I was. It made me all the more anxious to be saved.
When I was about eleven years old, I was brought to know Christ as my Saviour, and I have never regretted being brought to know Him.
I am not afraid that God sees me now, because all my sins are washed away in the precious blood of Christ; and I am not afraid of the Lord's coming, because I know when He comes, He is coming for me.
Are you ready for Him? Does God see you still in your sins? Oh! fly to the Lord Jesus, and He will wash away all your sins, and make you fit for His coming again.
Scattered Seed 1896
Ah! those were grand days when men and women and even children were found who were ready to suffer for the truth, even to death in some cases.
It was a thrilling sight in old Greyfriar's Churchyard in Edinburgh when men drew the blood from their own veins in order to sign the Solemn League and Covenant.
The hills and moors of Scotland have witnessed many a scene that has made Heaven glad. When Christians of both sexes and all ages would creep singly by unfrequented paths to a distant spot of meeting in some lonely glen, post their watchers to guard against a surprise attack, and there open the blessed Word of God, and feed upon its holy contents, these were indeed stirring times.
Did you ever hear the story of old Dick Peden? A price was put upon his head for no other crime than being a Christian who loved his Bible. One day the dragoons of Graham of Claverhouse surprised him. The old man ran, but what could he do when troopers, digging their spurs into their horses' sides, were after him. As old Dick ran up the hillside he felt his strength giving way, and there seemed no escape possible, as the dragoons gained on him.
He fell upon his knees and asked God simply to cover him with the shadow of His wings. As he prayed the Scots mist rolled down the mountain-side, folded the old man in its fleecy embrace, and hid him effectually from the sight of the enemy. He could hear the disappointed troopers cursing and swearing, but they lost their prey that day.
Oh! may we, who are Christians, be prepared to suffer for the truth's sake. May we trust God more in circumstances of trial. Or, if you have never trusted Christ as yet, we beseech you to do so now. He alone can save. Alas! if you enter eternity unsaved, there can be no shelter there from the storm of judgment. Here and now is the day of opportunity. “Behold, Now is of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
Scattered Seed 405 (1917)
Never shall I forget a sight I saw many years ago. It was enough to make the coldest heart thrill.
Returning from preaching the gospel one Sunday evening in a Durham colliery village the train drew up at an intervening station. I quickly saw that something unusual was stirring. Evidently a stalwart young miner was emigrating, and his friends had gathered to give him a suitable send-off. Among them one could tell at a glance his old mother. The hungry way she used up every minute in gazing on her son, and the tearful expression on her face, told their own tale. His friends were jovial, wished him luck, and perhaps some hoped to follow him to a foreign land.
But his mother! She was old, and was never likely to see his face again nor he hers. At last the guard's whistle sounded, the ponderous engine began to draw our train out of the platform.
I shall ever remember how the old mother ran along the platform to get the very last look at her boy.
I can see him. Leaning out of the window, feeling the parting deeply, but he showed it in a man's way. No tears; no sobs; just a hard stony look.
I can see her. Her shawl fallen from her head; her grey and scanty locks flowing in the wind as she ran. Never shall I forget the pathos of her cry, “Oh! Jack, oh! Jack, shall I never see you again? Jack, oh! Jack, shall I never see you again?”
It is terrible to be parted for time. How inexpressibly terrible to be parted for eternity? How do you stand? Are you ready to enter the next world?
Some partings are different. For instance, the boys going off to school. They leave their kind parents and nice homes, but they are only parting for a little while, and then after hard and useful work at school they have the joy of the reunion with loved ones at home, perhaps bringing an armful of prizes and certificates home.
I saw just such a parting a little while ago. I stood beside an open coffin in which lay the body of a Christian man, seventy-eight years old. Widow, grown-up sons and daughters and grandchildren were there. The old wife came forward to take a last look at her husband's face. She stroked tenderly, saying, “Good-bye, good-bye.”
Ah! but she knew, like the schoolboys, the parting was only for a little while. He was a believer in Jesus, died in the knowledge of Christ as his Saviour and his spirit was with Him. She too was a Christian, and if the Lord were to return quickly, in a moment she would be reunited to her husband, in a scene where the old relationships will not be taken up, but every ransomed heart will be absorbed with the Saviour. At best her days of pilgrimage, as of all the Lord's people, are but few.
How happy to be ready! Are you? God grant you may not rest satisfied till you know you are saved through the work of Jesus on the cross. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Scattered Seed 399 (1917)