Chapter 18: A Sight of Redemption
Now a thought came into my mind:- "If there is a Saviour to be found, it must be in the New Testament." Upon this I seized immediately, and began with the first chapter of Matthew. I read that Evangelist through and went through Mark and Luke and began the first Chapter of John. Then I came to that verse where it said: "Behold, the lamb of God that taketh away the Sin of the World!" My attention was at once rivetted on Jesus as he walked. I thought I saw the most Glorious Person that I ever saw or could think of. His Stature was above the ordinary Height, say seven feet, his Countenance was the most benign and lovely I ever beheld. Yea, as the Bride has it in the Canticles "he was altogether Lovely". My heart was no longer my own, it was so taken up with his Loveliness. I shouted, as it were, and said;- "This is he. Oh this is he, the Saviour." Now I had no rest in my Spirit , but went up and down with him where he was teaching. Wherever he gathered a Crowd I would be one, hoping to attract his attention, When he went down to Jericho, and the Blind Man was calling upon him "Thou Son of David, have Mercy on me" I would join in the Cry and say "On me also!".
I attended also with him, hearing his Sermon on the Mount, expounding the Law, showing the utter Hopelessness to be saved by Law. Thus I was occupied following Jesus (of course this was by reading the Word). Well, as I said, I followed Jesus about, but could not gain his attention until I got desperate.
I had seen Jesus; but was not saved, nor could gain his attention. I thought "I could live so no longer! I must know whether he would save me or no." For I was placed like those Lepers at the siege of Samaria. If I stayed where I was I must die; and if I went to Jesus and he would not save me, I could but die. So I formed a Resolution. At the first opportunity I had I would throw myself at Jesus' feet and know the Worst of it! So, in my Usual reading of the New Testament I thought I saw Jesus, as His manner was, surrounded by a Crowd. "Now is my time", I thought, "I will burst through and Throw myself at his feet and say; "O Lord, if thou dost not save me I must perish". So, as it were in the heat of my Spirit, I jumped up to run to him, and, as I was running, I thought Satan tripped up my heels and I fell down, and Satan said; "What is the use of you running after Jesus. If you are not one of the elect he will not save You!" "What is that to me'?" I said, "Does he not say: 'If any man come to me I will not cast him out?'". In the heat of my Passion I jumped up and ran with all my might to get at the feet of Jesus. When I got there I fell at his feet, as it were exhausted, and said "O Lord, save me!" He looked at me and said "Peace be unto you!".
I retired and pondered the Word he had spoken. He did not deny my request; nor did he give me a complete answer to it. But I thought "A Word like that from Christ was as good as if he had said 'Yes'". So I encouraged myself with the Idea that Christ was my Friend.
Now the Tug of War began between Satan and myself. The Lord permitted Satan to Harrass and scare me at a Strange Rate. Now he would say all manner of things against Christ. "Was he indeed the Holy immaculate Son of God?" "If there was one Sin in Christ, one Sinful thought in Christ, he could not be a Saviour". I knew that myself; but the Word of God said that he was Holy, undefiled, separate from Sinners and made higher than the Heavens. That was an answer to that! But then he would say; "You are such a great Sinner that the Blood of Jesus cannot itself save you. You are a peculiar Sinner. There is no-one like you". "Ah", I would say, "that is true" and then clech it. He would dart into my mind such abominable thoughts - such as to Blaspheme Christ, on whom my whole salvation depends. Ah, that was a poser; but I recovered from that shock by reading from the word of Christ that, if anyone spoke a word against Christ, it should he forgiven him, and, moreover, it was against my wish and abhorrent to my inmost heart that I should do so.
Just at that time help came to my hand in a Work of John Bunyan speaking of this matter in the Law of Moses. If a Maid was overtaken in a Field by a Ruffian and ravished there was no penalty annexed to ber, because she was in the Open Field, and when she cried out there was none to help. So my fear about this Horrid matter was set at rest for the present. But my remorseless Enemy would not suffer me to Rest, as Job has it:- "No, not to swallow down my Spittle". I was harried from Morning to Night and from Night to Morning.
At night he would scare me with Visions. He would say; "You will have to go to Hell, and sit down in some dismal Corner among Devils". "Well," I says, "if it comes to that I will set Hell in uproar with my Cries without ceasing, 'Thou Son of David, have Mercy upon me'". It seemed as if the devil had permission to hunt and taunt me wherever he could find me.
The Place where I worked was in a Cellar, which would be full of Steam in the Morning, so that we could scarce see our way in carrying of the Scum to the Boxes wherein it was to be pressed. This Morning was one of the greatest onslaughts of Satan that I had experienced. I was carrying off the Stuff as usual when a most unearthly figure danced before me with a Wide Open mouth saying: "I will have you yet!" I thought he snapped at me as if he would swallow me whole. I cried out "Lord save me!" That word of Scripture came to my mind immediately "Shall the Lawful Captive be delivered? Yea, the Lawful Captive shall be delivered and I will save thy Children." The Enemy flew away in an Instant, and I was left in profound Peace.
Thus it was with me from Day and Night. I often wondered how it was that I existed at all. I thought it must be the unseen power of God that upheld me so marvellously that I was not cut off. Sometimes, when overpressed with some direful Temptation I would say "O make an end of yourself and Know the worst of it" but the hereafter and fearful looking for Judgement kept me from my proposal, and I would then burst out in Agony "O woe, woe is me that I have sinned." And now the Merciful Lord came to my help and shewed me the greatness of that Work of Christ which he wrought out on Mount Calvary, when he bowed his Head and said "It is finished". I saw now that there was not only enough in that Atonement for me, but for the whole world, if God would see fit to impute it. O the sufficiency of that Atonement! How my soul dilated, wondered and admired the sufficiency of that great Salvation Work. Now I could scarce contain myself for wondering and admiring. And then I would say to myself: "And can it he true? What, all my Sin and that Horrid Sin also? Yea, and that also! For now there is no condemnation of those that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
Now my year of Jubilee had come: I was free. Now I could think of nothing else but the great Salvation. Now, when at work pumping Lime Water, I would hang on the pump handle, musing and weeping and repenting with unaffected sorrow and contrition for my Sin, mixed with Joy at the Great Salvation. I do not know which was the greatest, the Sorrow or the Joy; but this I know: I never had such a delightsome time, before or since. As the Scripture saith:- "The Goodness of God leadeth to repentance". The thought of God broke me down. "O", thought I, "surely God must have loved you. Or how could it ever be brought about that I am in the State that I am in today? Formerly I loved Sin and wanted to be as far from God as I could: but now I want to be near him. Before this, I was as one labouring in the Gulf below a storm of Wrath, lightning and Tempest beating on my head dissolving my substance, looking with unmitigated Terror for Judgement to be passed upon me by a Righteous and Holy God. But now, putting forth his Arm of Power he lifts me up from this Abyss of Misery on to a sunny Mount, where I behold the depth from which I have been drawn to the Heights above and Glory where God is. And what has bridged that Awful Gulf but the Son of God coming down from heaven, taking our Flesh and dying the death and pouring out his Blood so freely? O what is this? Grace and wonderful Grace. Is it any wonder that the soul beholding this should lose itself in Admiration?"
So it was with me at that time. I would think and think again and say "Can it be true?". The answer was "Yes, every whit of it." Now I was taken up with this great salvation. Night and Day I could think of nothing else. My Body, in a Mechanical Way, performed its labours. I ate and drank as usual; but in another manner to what I did in my state of condemnation. I then ate like a Man in his Cell under condemnation to be hung, but now I was like those in the second chapter of the Acts - "They ate their meat in gladness and singleness of heart". In my condemnation it was "Why feed I this Body which is already under condemnation?" But now it was "Bless the Lord for giving me this Body and Food to nourish it" and "O my Soul, and Body - thou shalt soon be with the Lord in Glory!"
I was now in the habit of attending the Services in Chapel very religiously. This attracted the attention of one of the Members, a young man named Whitehead, who noticed my close attention on the Services. He asked me if I would like to come to the Sunday School and help them there. I said "Yes. And I should be glad if the Lord would accept of any poor Service I could render; but would consider it a high honour to be employed in any capacity wherein I might be Useful". They appointed me, I think, to Alphabet Class which was Vacant. After that he asked me if I would like to attend their Prayer Meeting. To this I also assented with pleasure. On the Monday following I attended with great awe on my Spirit. I observed the People as they came in, so clean and comfortable looking. I said to myself; "O, these are God's Saints. How happy they look!" Now I was all attention to their Prayers. After two had prayed, Mr Sanders their Minister read a Chapter from Exodus and commented expressly on the words "And they came to Marah, where there was a Well whose Water was Bitter. And Moses cut a Branch off a Tree and cast it into the Well, and the Waters thereof were made sweet." I remembered how pleased I was, and ever after attended the Monday Prayer Meeting, and also Thursday, meeting for a Lecture. Now my friend Whitehead asked me, would I like to join the Church, as a Member thereof. To this I replied "If they thought me worthy, I should like to". "Well then," says he "I shall take you to Mr Sanders and introduce you".