James Smith, 1864
"Lord, what is man!" Thus exclaimed the Psalmist in his day, and thus we often exclaim in ours. To see men . . .
with the gospel sounding in their ears,
with disease working in their system,
with death cutting down their fellows all around them,
with eternity opening before them,
with the stamp of immortality upon their souls —
to see men, under such circumstances, rejecting the gospel, slighting the Savior, and urging on their way to eternity in the dark — is enough to make any thoughtful person exclaim, "What is man!"
Let us endeavor to put the sinner's conduct into words, and see how many are prepared to own it as their own, or deliberately subscribe their names to it. Every sinner, who lives in impenitence and unbelief, within reach of the gospel, says:
"I am resolved to persevere in sin, and follow the maxims and customs of those around me — though it costs me the loss of my soul, and exposes me to everlasting damnation.
I am resolved to reject the Son of God — I will not embrace Him as my Savior, or have Him reign over me. I am resolved that I will not accept the pardon which God presents to me in the gospel, though it cost the Jesus His life to procure it — and I know I must eternally perish without it. I am determined not to submit to God's way of salvation, and I consent to be lost forever! I have made up my mind, that I will never consent to receive a free salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ — I will not have it!
I am resolved . . .
to reject God's message,
to strive against the influence of His love,
to dare His justice,
to defy His power,
to refuse His mercy,
to brave His threatened wrath, and
to harden myself against all His invitations, expostulations, exhortations, and promises!
I am resolved that I will not . . .
bow to His authority,
yield to His entreaties,
believe on His Son,
repent of my sins,
love His name,
or obey His precepts!
I am determined that there shall never be joy in Heaven among the angels of God — on account of my conversion.
I will never . . .
desert the ranks of Satan,
give up my sinful practices,
ask for mercy at God's hands,
or take up my cross and follow Christ!
I am resolved . . .
to keep on in my old wicked course,
to persevere in my present sinful path,
to associate with my carnal companions —
and if it secures my eternal damnation, then let it do so!
I will not receive salvation on God's terms,
I will not stoop to be saved by grace alone,
I will not take the yoke of Christ upon me, and engage to be His subject and servant — even though Heaven and all the glories of eternity would be secured by it.
If I cannot escape the wrath of God — but by faith, repentance, and holiness — why, I am determined go to Hell, for I am resolved not to yield to any such terms!
It is of no use for the preacher to spend His breath upon me! My mind is made up, I will be my own master, I will take my own course! No one has any right to interfere with me — for I shall injure no one but myself!
I have no objection to going to church, or to attending to some religious forms — but to give my heart to God, to be crucified to the present world, and to make God's glory the end of life — will never do for me; therefore I gladly take the consequences.
If this is required of those who would be true Christians — then you must stop urging me — for I will not yield! You must stop all attempts to convert me, for my mind is made up! I have heard hundreds of sermons, I have read the Bible myself — but I have hardened myself against the whole, and I am not going to yield now!
Tell me no more of the Savior's love,
tell me no more of the pleasures of holiness,
tell me no more of the terrors of death,
tell me no more of the dreadful judgment,
tell me no more of the joys of Heaven,
tell me no more of the agonies of Hell —
for you will never induce me to yield myself unto God, and seek the salvation of my soul. For my mind is made up, and my daily conduct is enough to convince you of it, if anything would. I am resolved not to yield — let the consequences be what they may!
I will go on just as I have done!
I will not be Christ's servant!
I will not be God's child!
I will obey only Satan!
I will follow the course of this evil world!
I will serve my lusts and pleasures!
In proof thereof, witness my signature, _____________.
Will you now sign your name?
Will you now solemnly put your seal to this statement?
Why are you so afraid?
Do not your actions speak louder than your words? Is not your daily practice stronger proof — than just putting your name to a statement once? If you do not say the above in words — yet if you do so in your actions — then where is the difference? Does not God read the language of your life? If you say it in your daily practice — then why not boldly take the pen and openly sign your name?
Well, will you sign the above? Why not? Is it true of you — or is it not?
The majority of people around us are living in enmity against God, they are not subject to his law, neither will they embrace his gospel — then why not sign the name?
Now suppose such a statement as the above was printed that it was signed by your own hand, and a copy of it was left at every house in the city, town, or village where you live — would you not feel ashamed to walk the streets? But why so? Ten thousand angels, every true believer, and God himself, read it every day in your conduct. As the ministering angels pass by you, they recognize and notice you, as one who refuses to be saved by grace — but prefers to perish in your sins. Every messenger of Satan who observes you, or is employed to blind your mind and tempt you to sin, gazes upon you as one who refuses to receive a pardon from the hand of God — but prefers to lie under condemnation, exposed to all the tremendous horrors of eternal damnation! Every right-minded and thoughtful Christian grieves over you and prays for you, that you may not be allowed to perish in your own deceivings.
Soon the judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened — and your criminality and folly shall be published before assembled worlds!
Oh, sinner, sinner! think, think what can be more preposterous than your conduct? What folly can be equal to yours? Jesus, the glorious Son of God, says, "I would receive you — if you come; I would pardon you, if you believe; I would give you the Holy Spirit — if you ask me; I would be a Savior unto you — if you receive me; but you will not. You will not come unto me that you might live. I would have gathered you under my wings — but you would not come. "But My people did not listen to Me; Israel did not obey Me! So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices!" (Psalm 81:11, 12).
Well, reader, will you sign the above? Why not? Is it true of you — or is it not? If you will not sign that — will you honestly, seriously, and solemnly, as before God, sign another document? It is this:
"I resolve, by God's mercy, and in God's strength, to break off all my old sinful habits, to forsake my carnal companions, and to make the salvation of my soul my one grand object. I am resolved to be saved, if the Lord Jesus will save me. I am resolved to be pardoned, if God will pardon me. I am determined to obtain mercy, if God will give it to me. I will be a thorough, decided, devoted Christian, if God, in answer to prayer, will make me one.
In proof thereof, witness my signature, ________.
My dear friend, you may blot out all those above "ifs" — for Jesus will save you, and rejoice to do it — if you are willing to be saved by him. God will pardon you, and pardon you abundantly, if you seek it in the name of his beloved Son. He will show you mercy, and make you what you ask — if you ask in faith and plead with importunity at his throne. There is no difficulty about salvation on God's part — all the difficulty is on ours. His justice is fully satisfied, on behalf of all who believe in Jesus. His mercy is free, for all who apply for it in faith. His Spirit, as the Sanctifier, Comforter, and Teacher, is promised to all who ask. He really delights in mercy. He waits day after day that he may be gracious. He will never reject a coming sinner, or refuse to listen to a praying soul.
Be, then, like the happy countryman, who was full of faith and rejoicing in hope; and, being asked how it was that he felt so confident and happy, replied, "The Lord Jesus says, Come unto me, and I will give you rest. And I say, Lord, I do come, and that's a bargain!" The Savior and the sinner were agreed. Jesus promises rest to the coming soul, the man accepted of the terms, he believed the promise, he came to Jesus, and he enjoyed rest. He who believes on Jesus has everlasting life, and he who exercises confidence in the promise of Jesus, enjoys the assurance of it. Believing on Jesus is just receiving his word, accepting his invitation, giving credit to his promise, and placing our entire dependence on him for access to God, acceptance with God, and justification before God. It is taking Jesus to be our Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior, and exercising entire confidence in him.
So doing, if there is virtue in his blood, if there is merit in his obedience unto death, if there is power in his intercession, if there is truth in his word — we must be saved. And if we really thus exercise faith in Christ, and expect to be saved by Christ, we shall obey his precepts out of love, and serve him from gratitude of heart. Thus the faith that receives salvation as a free gift, becomes the root of every good work — and the stronger our faith, the more perfect will our obedience be. True faith always produces correct conduct, and leads the exemplary Christian to give all the glory to God.