Danger and Deliverance
James Smith, 1859
"Lord, save me!" Matthew 14:30
Peter was in imminent danger; his mind was filled with distress; his divine Master was near, and he cried from the very depths of his soul, "Lord, save me!" His prayer was very short — but it was powerful. It went right to the heart of Jesus, and moved his right arm which caught Peter, and his tongue which said unto him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" What a mercy for Peter that Jesus was there, that Jesus was touched with the feeling of his infirmities, and that prayer has power with the Omnipotent. There is a similarity between the circumstances of Peter, and every soul that is saved by Sovereign grace. Let us, for a few moments, try to trace it out.
The sinner is in DANGER, in the greatest possible danger, for he has broken God's law, is under its curse, and cannot possibly be saved — unless its demands are met, and its penalty endured. How can he meet its demands? He is insolvent, and has nothing to pay. How can he endure its penalty, which is to be punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power? The penalty due to sin, is Hell.
Hell is torment, wrath, despair!
Just and infinite wrath!
If even the thought of these things is dreadful — then what then must it be to actually endure them — and endure them forever, without hope or mitigation or end! Yet, every sinner is exposed to it, and every soul that is quickened by the Spirit, every one who is taught of God, perceives and realizes this. O what a fearful thing to be in danger of Hell-fire! O how terrible the thought of being shut up in black despair, with devils and damned souls, the refuse of God's sinful creation! Do you wonder that a soul realizing its danger, and believing the testimony of God's Word is,
The sinner is filled with DISTRESS. — How can an immortal soul avoid the deepest distress, if he believes that he may, at any moment, be sent to endure the vengeance of eternal fire, and sees no way of finally escaping it? But this is the case with the quickened soul, so long as it is under the law. Oh the wretched days and sleepless nights which many have passed through while doing business in these deep waters! Oh the agitation, perplexity, and bitter sorrow experienced by many now — who do not see the way of escape opened by the everlasting gospel! Their hearts are as heavy as lead; their sighs and groans are deep and bitter. Their days are gloomy, and wearisome nights are appointed to them. They are afraid of God, they dread death, and tremble at the idea of judgment! If a ray of light shines into the mind — it is soon extinguished. If hope springs up — it soon withers and dies again. If they try to harden themselves, and desperately endeavor to drown the future — their strength and courage fails them, and, beginning to sink, they cry out with a loud and exceeding bitter cry, "Lord, save me!" What a mercy for the self-despairing sinner that there is,
A SAVIOR is near. Jesus is on the waters; he can control the waves; he can rule the elements. Jesus is within reach of the sinner's cry, and he can save to the very uttermost. His eye is watching the workings of the mind. His ear catches every sigh, groan, and cry. His heart yearns with pity over the poor distressed criminal. His hand is strong enough to grasp him, and his arm long enough to reach him. He only waits until he exhausts his own strength, gives up all hope in his own efforts — and is heartily willing to be saved by him, and by him alone. The Savior is ready, is willing, is waiting, and as soon as the sinner despairs of help from every quarter, and cries to Jesus alone — he will save him.
There is, in reality, no excuse for his fear, no ground for his distress, because there is a present, powerful and willing Savior. But the sinner is taken up with himself, his sins, and his circumstances — and hence comes his heart-rending fears and sorrows.
Oh sinner, whoever you are — Jesus can save you!
Oh sinner, whatever you have been, whatever you are now — Jesus is willing to save you!
Oh sinner, wherever you are, in the land of gospel light, or in countries shrouded with the horrid gloom of heathenism — Jesus is at hand to save you! He can see you, he hears you, he is waiting to be gracious unto you; therefore, do as Peter did,
Cry from the depths of your soul, "LORD, SAVE ME!" He who heard Peter — will hear you. He who stretched out his hand and caught Peter — will stretch out his hand and rescue you. He who saved Peter from sinking into the depths of the sea — will save you from sinking into the depths of Hell.
Peter's prayer was but short — but it was hearty, it was earnest, it was addressed directly to the Savior — it was to the point. Pray thus, and Jesus will soon, very soon, say unto your soul, "I am your salvation." Cry to Jesus at once, instead of . . .
dwelling on your sins,
encouraging your fears, or
listening to the enemy of your soul.
Cry mightily to Jesus; never mind what anyone says. Regard not any discouragements that may present themselves. Remember, it is life — or death; eternal life — or eternal death.
Your eternal soul is at stake. Cry to Jesus — and an eternal Heaven shall be yours. Neglect to cry — and Hell, an eternal Hell, with all its horrors, must be your portion! Believe on Jesus — and you are saved. Saved instantly, saved perfectly, and saved forever!
Do not delay — there is no time to be lost! Do not defer — or it may be too late; your doom may be fixed forever. Do not object.
Here is a prayer ready for you, "Lord, save me!"
Here is a Savior ready for you — Jesus the Son of God.
Here is an invitation ready for you, "Come unto me."
Here is a command, not only encouraging — but requiring you, and rendering the act that brings salvation to you as much a duty as a privilege, "Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else."
Oh look, look, look to Jesus!
Cry, cry, cry mightily to Jesus — and he will save you!
Well, Reader, have you realized your danger? Have you felt distressed on account of your danger and of your sin, which is the cause of it? Have you perceived that Jesus the almighty Savior is near to save you? Have you cried unto him, "Lord, save me!" Has he stretched forth his gracious hand to save you from the yawning gulf of Hell? Are you saved? Saved by Jesus? Saved by grace alone? If so — happy are you. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, and publish it abroad in all the region round about you. Tell, oh tell to all poor sinners around you — what great things Jesus has done for you, and how he has had compassion on you!
But if you are not saved, trifle not, delay not — but make salvation, the immediate salvation of the soul, the one business of your life. Do not rest — until you rest in Jesus. Do not rejoice — until you rejoice in Jesus. Take no satisfaction in anything — until you have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
O that I could persuade you to come to Jesus, to cry to Jesus, and to obtain the salvation that is in Jesus, with eternal glory! Oh for a Seraph's fire, that I may write in flames to you! Oh for an angel's eloquence, that I may powerfully plead, until I prevail with you. Rather, oh for the power, unction, and operation of the Holy Spirit — to incline you, to constrain you, and to win you over to the Savior. Blessed Spirit, bring souls to Jesus, bring souls to Jesus, by this poor paper!