What Do You
James Smith, 1859
The other night I heard a poor child cry bitterly, and its unfeeling mother was very angry; at length in a very angry tone she cried out, "What do you want!" It did not require much discernment to see what the little thing needed. I could have told her.
It was hungry—and wanted food;
it was cold—and wanted different clothing;
it was filthy—and wanted washing;
and it was weary—and wanted rest.
As I went along musing, I thought that child is the picture of an awakened sinner; and the wants of the one—resemble the wants of the other. Perhaps some poor, fretful, troubled spirit, may read these lines, scarcely knowing its own wants; or the eye of someone may alight upon them who has a friend, or some other relative, in a low, depressed, and sorrowful condition—and who is ready to ask them, "What do you want?" If so, I can tell you, as in the former case, the poor thing wants—
FOOD. Food for the soul. It has been quickened by the Holy Spirit, and has an appetite for spiritual provision. A deep inward craving of spirit is felt, which nothing can satisfy but the bread of life. Christ, in his person, Christ in his work, and Christ in his love and power—must be the food of the soul. To read of Christ, to think of Christ, and to commune with Christ—is to feed on Christ; and feeding on Christ revives, refreshes, and satisfies the soul.
The poor, timid, doubting child of God is apt to get fretful; it wants to realize its interest in Christ, to enjoy the presence of Christ, and to feel the sweet constraining power of the love of Christ. The Lord's people should be well fed. There is plenty of food in God's Word, and in our Father's house there should always be bread enough and to spare. Let the Lord's servants always place plenty of living bread on the Lord's table, that if any of the prodigals who begin to be in want should come in—they may eat and be satisfied. And whenever we meet with any of the children of Zion, fretting, crying, and moaning—let us hand them a little of this bread that they may eat and bless the Lord.
They want not only food, but—
CLOTHING. By nature we are clothed in filthy rags; when first awakened, we try to clothe ourselves with fig leaves, or something equally unsuitable. But we are soon pinched with cold, and are ashamed to appear in public. The thought of appearing before God clothed only in our own righteousness, fills us with fear, and makes us cry out, "O wretched man that I am!" We not only suffer from fear—but we begin to want to appear at least decent, then befitting, and at length glorious.
When we perceive the beauty of Christ's perfect robe of righteousness, and the comforting nature of the garments of salvation, we want to possess them, put them on, and wear them. And as they are provided for the poor, the destitute, and the naked—a hope springs up that we may possess them. Then we apply for them, are clothed with them, and feel happy in them. Now we rejoice in the Lord, and our souls are joyful in our God. We no longer weep, or complain, or sigh; for we are warm, peaceful, and safe!
Our garments not only shield us from cold—but adorn us! They not only adorn us—but justify us.
Weeping penitent! come to the wardrobe of Free Grace and be clothed! Naked sinner! come to Jesus, he will . . .
not only cover—but clothe;
not only clothe—but adorn;
not only adorn—but make you glorious!
Believer, always appear in your best clothing. Before God, wear only the righteousness of Jesus. Before men, appear in the garments of sanctification, and exhibit the works and graces of the Spirit.
They want not only clothing, but—
CLEANSING. The Lord never puts the fine linen of his Son's righteousness on a filthy sinner—simply to hide his pollution, and his shame; but he cleanses when he clothes! In the fountain which is opened for sin and uncleanness, by his word and by his Spirit—he makes the polluted sinner clean; and he clothes and adorns those whom he has cleansed.
Not only so—but however filthy the soul may have been in its habits, tastes, and ways—it imbibes at once, a hatred to all uncleanness, and a love to all that is chaste, pure, and lovely.
Nor are we merely cleansed once for all—but the fountain is always open, the laver is always full! And as we daily need cleansing—we can daily wash and be clean.
Our wedding robe never needs washing—for it never soils, no spot or stain was ever seen on it; but our persons and our daily dress need continual washing—and we must wash and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
O precious fountain that . . .
cleanses from all sin,
takes out all stain,
removes every spot,
makes the most polluted—to be as clean and as pure as a holy angel!
Come then, you poor, polluted, filthy souls, come to the fountain! Come, wash and be clean!
Come, daily, and wash away your daily stains!
Come, for you are welcome!
Come, for the Lord wishes you to come!
Come, be cleansed, be clothed, be fed!
They want not only washing—but—
REST. The Lord's little ones want rest. Burdened with guilt, laden with cares, and weakened with sorrows—they are weary. Weary of the world. Weary of sin. Weary of toiling at the law. Weary of living upon husks. Weary of themselves. Weary of almost everything—they need rest. They have tried to find rest in duties, in ordinances, in something within them--but have been painfully disappointed. There is no rest for an awakened sinner, anywhere but in Christ. He cannot rest until he realizes that he is safe.
Could the manslayer rest while pursued by the avenger of blood? Can the porter rest while he carries the heavy load on his back? Can the excavator rest while working in the rocky soil? No more can a sinner rest—while he fears the wrath of God; while he feels the guilt of sin, or strives to keep the law. But coming to Jesus—He removes the burden, rescues from the claims of the law, and satisfies the demands of justice.
No bed of down was ever so soft to the laborer's weary body—as the perfect work and precious promises of Jesus are to the poor law-condemned sinner. "Come," he says, "come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"
And his rest is glorious.
His rest is permanent.
His rest is sweet.
Weary sinner, come, O come to Jesus, and you shall find rest—soul rest, everlasting rest!
Had the crying child, who suggested these remarks been fed with wholesome food, clothed with suitable and sufficient garments, been cleansed from its filth, and been laid on a warm soft bed—its crying would have ended, and its rest would have been most sweet.
Just so sinner, so will it be with you—if you come to Jesus.
He will feed you—and satisfy the cravings of your soul.
He will clothe you—and so clothe you, that you will not envy an angel.
He will cleanse you—and make you perfectly clean.
He will give you rest—sweet, soothing, refreshing rest, such as the weary weeping babe enjoys as it slumbers on the soft bosom of its loving mother.
To Jesus then! To Jesus hasten—all you hungry, naked, filthy, weary souls!
Hasten to Jesus then—and he will, in one word, bless you with every blessing, and save you with an everlasting salvation!