網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

vain.

tender heart and merciful nature; and observed, If you look to him by faith as a helpless, ruined sinner, acknowledging to him that you deserve to die eternally for your sins against God and man, he will set your soul at a happy liberty, saying, “Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven.' “ Fear not, for I will be with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God!" Remember if you were not spiritually sick, you would not need the great Physician. If it were not for lost sinners he would have nothing to do, and his coming into the world would have been in

They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." “He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Now, surely, he that left his Father's bosom to call by his grace sinners to repentance, will not relinquish a returning sinner like you. Persons may be too good for Christ in their own estimation, but they cannot be too bad. The skill of an eminent physician is displayed in some desperate case which is given up by others as incurable. Therefore, the more deadly sick we are, and receive the healing effects of the blood of Immanuel, for by his stripes we are healed, the more thankful we shall be, and celebrate in higher strains his endless praise !

I moreover showed him, that Christ neither expected nor required, that helpless sinners should love him before they applied to him for mercy: for he knows well that they would never come to him until they had tried all other expedients, and every other refuge had failed. This was precisely the case with the woman in the gospel, who had expended all her living upon other physicians ; but instead of growing better, she was worse : and what brought her at last to Christ ? nothing less than pure and pressing necessity. Did he upbraid her, and say, Yes, you can come to me when you can obtain no help from others? No, blessed be his name; he healed her without money, and without price. I likewise proved to him, that the converted thief who was crucified with Christ, was no other than a hardened villain when first nailed to the cross, as well as the other that was left ; and confirmed the truth of this remark by the united testimony of St. Matt. xxvii. 44, and St. Mark xv. 32. I farther illustrated the free grace of God in the salvation of the vilest sinners, from the parable of, the prodigal son, and particularly impressed upon his mind, that the prodigal never thought of returning to his father's house until he began

to be in want, and actually perishing for bread; then he returned to his offended father, and was graciously received, not merely without a murmuring word, but with every demonstration of joy, music, and dancing. Believe me, my dear fellow-sinner, that not only God and Christ, but the angels in heaven, are rejoicing to see you return to God, and in a few hours they will welcome your happy spirit into everlasting rest.

He would occasionally say to me, “those scriptures are a great consolation to my mind, but I sometimes think my sins are 100 numerous to be forgiven !" I exhorted him to pray against this temptation, as proceeding from Satan and his own unbelieving heart, and to which the most eminent saints are often exposed in this world of sin and conflict; that if he gave way to unbelieving fears, it would be the greatest sin he ever committed, which consisted in rejecting the remedy God had in rich grace provided for the lost and unworthy, in disbelieving God's holy word, and believing Satan, the father of lies. It was undervaluing the precious blood of Christ, which was shed for the vilest transgressors; its cleansing power has brought millions of them that were ready to perish, to heaven. I am glad you feel yourself a sinner, but recollect the Son of God is a great Saviour. He is more able to save those who trust in him, than sin is able to destroy. That though I had not been permitted to offend capitally against the laws of my country, I was a far greater sinner than he was ; for I had possessed greater advantages, and had not improved them as I ought, and therefore have sinned against greater light and knowledge ; yet notwithstanding my aggravating and numberless transgressions, I trust my everlasting all into the hands of my most merciful Redeemer, and I believed that he would not disappoint my humble expectation. But if he is not able to save you, he is not able to save

I rest upon his word of promise ; and if you are enabled to do the same, you will happily find him as good as his word, and infinitely better than your

fears. that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.

To these plain gospel statements, with others of a similar nature, he listened with the most intense interest, which deeply affected my heart; and I think I shall never forget this solemn and truly interesting scene, in prayer, con. versation, and expounding different passages of scripture,

me.

« Не

which he desired to understand, and that he thought suitable to his case. I spent near three hours; and though in a dismal cold cell, I number them among the most happy moments I ever enjoyed. I firmly believe the Lord heard and answered our fervent and importunate prayers, according to his promise, which we often pleaded, namely

, “ That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” It matters not whether it be in a prison or in a palace, for “ where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them," St. Matt. xviii. 19, 20. The spiritual presence of Christ being with us, converted the solitary dungeon into the house of God, and the very gate of heaven!!! I was favoured with enlargement of heart at the throne of grace, and liberty of speech in pleading for mercy: and he enjoyed much comfort of mind and peace of conscience, so that we wept and rejoiced together; and I hope, through the grace of God and the blood of Christ, I shall unite in heaven with him, the penitent thief upon the cross, and myriads of saved sinners, in gathering fruit unto life eternal, and in singing ceaseless praises to God and the Lamb.

He once observed to me, “ I feel now uncommonly low in my mind." I replied, “My friend, I do not wonder at that, the solemn hour of your departure is drawing nigh. Death is at all times a serious event, and always an awful and destructive enemy to flesh and blood. And when you

reflect upon the manner in which you are to leave the world—not to feel, you would be destitute of all susceptibility of impression, which I should be sorry to witness; or above the sensations of mortality, which is impossible, so long as you are in the body.” We kneeled down together, and prayed to the Lord Christ, that he would be graciously pleased, of his infinite mercy, not to forsake his helpless afflicted servant, and divinely support him preparatory and during the bitter pains of natural death, assuring his heart, by the Spirit the Comforter, that he was redeemed from the torments of the second deatheternal damnation : then he would sing, through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

After we rose from prayer he was much comforted, and greatly delivered from the cruel fears of the last enemy.

though I walk

a

He wished me to see the letter he had written to his poor wife, who might then be considered a widow, and his children fatherless. He appeared to feel more for their forlorn condition than he did for himself, and wept bitterly, piteously exclaiming, it is my great sins and wicked course of life which have reduced them to this wretchedness. O that by my sufferings I could preserve them from it.' These piercing lamentations were almost too much for me to bear; but I was the means of tranquillizing his mind, by reminding hini, that as the Lord had enabled him to trust his immortal soul into his hand, it was his duty and privilege to commit his dear wife and helpless children unto his never-failing protection, who has promised to be husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless.”

He attempted to read the letter, but was too much affected to proceed ; and therefore gave it to me and desired me to finish it. There was one part of the letter which distressed him more than the rest, where he exhorted her never to leave her bed-room in the morning without praying to God, on her knees, to keep her and the children from all evil; and in the evening again, to pray with and for them, imploring God to keep them through the night under his merciful protection. When he had read these words, he burst into a flood of tears, and as soon as he could speak, exclaimed, “O this we have never done, we have never prayed together in all our lives, but have lived as though there was no God !!" It is sincere

prayer, that these cutting reflections of a dying husband, may make an effectual impression upon the heart of the widow- upon my own mind,

and

upon the hearts of all that read these lines. For the word of God declares, “ The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

He was also deeply affected with the situation of his afflicted mother, who is a widow ; but I am happy to add, that I have been informed, from good authority, that she is a sincere christian—" A widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God.” He said, O that I had not slighted and rejected the faithful warning of my dear mother, but had taken her good advice. All these calamities would have been prevented.' He was anxious, also, for an opportunity of warning his wicked companions to forsake their evil ways, and to flee from the wrath to come. He hoped the Lord would strengthen him, that he might be able to say a few words to them before he quitted this

my

world, as he expected to see them at the place of execution. Particularly, he desired to see one man, who first persuaded him to go out with him at night and steal sheep. He would have told me his name, had I wished it; but as I did not go to Maidstone as a police officer, but as a minister of the gospel, I had no desire of information. I understand he was on Penenden heath, to see the poor young man fall into the ditch he had prepared for him. It is

my sincere desire, that the person to whom I have. alluded, and his associates, who are yet permitted to go at large, will never forget the solemn and affecting scene, and bear in sorrowful remembrance the dying admonition of their former companion in crime, lest they repent when it is too late.

Mr. Winter joined us in the cell at seven o'clock, the time appointed. I then informed him that Paine had expressed a great desire to receive the sacrament; and if he would administer it, I should be happy to unite with them in commemorating the dying sufferings of our Lord; -to this he readily assented. Previous to receiving the sacrament, the prisoner said something respecting trusting in God, when Mr. Winter very properly cautioned him against confiding in the mercy of God in his absolute character. For he never would show the least mercy to any of the guilty race of Adam only in and by Christ, the God-man Mediator; and quoted many suitable passages of scripture to prove what he said, and observed, • I assure you that Mr. Heap and myself have no other hope of being saved. I with pleasure confirmed these solemn truths; and declared, that there was not a minister of the gospel upon earth that had the most distant hope of being saved on the ground of any goodness in himself

. In a word, we were not saved as ministers, but as poor ill and hell-deserving sinners, who had fled to Christ as our, only refuge; that all mankind had sinned, and become condemned criminals in the sight of God; and that if they did not put their whole trust and confidence in the glorious person and precious blood which cleanseth from all sin, they could not be saved. If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” He confessed his firm faith in these truths, and said that he had no other hope of being saved.

At half-past eight Mr. Agar, the governor, came in, and kindly asked me to take breakfast with him, and promised to send poor Paine some from his table. The invita

« 上一頁繼續 »