« AnteriorContinuar »
my part was to get my own consent to give up my sins and accept Christ. Salvation, it seemed to me, instead of being a thing to be wrought out by my own works, was a thing to be found entirely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who presented himself before me as my God and Saviour. After this distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the question seemed to be put, Will you accept it now, to-day ?' I replied, “Yes, I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the attempt.'
“Instead of going to the office, I turned and bent my course towards the woods, feeling that I must be alone, and away from all human eyes and ears, so that I could pour out my prayer to God. I recollect repeating as I went up, 'I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again.'
“But when I attempted to pray, I found that my heart would not pray. I found myself verging fast to despair. I said to myself, 'I cannot pray; my heart is dead to God, and will not pray.' I then reproached myself for having promised to give my heart to God before I left the woods. When I came to try, I found I could not give my heart to God. I began to feel deeply that it was too late, that it must be I was given up of God, and was past hope. Just at that point, this passage of Scripture seemed to drop into my mind with a flood of light, ‘Then shall ye seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.' I instantly seized hold of this with my heart. I had intellectually believed the Bible before, but never had the truth been in my mind that faith was a voluntary trust, instead of an intellectual state. I was as conscious as I was of my existence, of trusting at that moment in God's veracity. I cried to Him, “Lord, I take Thee at Thy word. Now Thou knowest that I do search for Thee with all my heart, and that I have come here to pray to Thee, and Thou hast promised to hear me.' This seemed to settle the question that I could then, that day, perform my vow. The Spirit seemed to lay stress upon that idea in the text, 'When you search for me with all your heart.' The question of when, that is, of the present time, seemed to fall heavily into my heart. I told the Lord that He could not lie, and that therefore I was sure that He had heard my prayer, and that He would be found of me. .. ." He then gave me many other promises, both from the Old and the New Testament, especially some most precious ones respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. I never can, in words, make any human being understand how precious and true those promises appeared to me. I took them, one after another, as infallible truth, the assertions of God, who could not lie. I prayed till my mind became so full that before I was aware of it I was on my feet and tripping up the ascent towards the road. The question of my being converted had not so much as arisen to my thought; but as I went up, brushing through the leaves and bushes, I recollect saying, with great emphasis, 'If I am ever converted, I will preach the Gospel.' I soon reached the road that led to the village, and began to reflect on what had passed, and I found that my mind had become most wonderfully quiet and peaceful. All sense of sin, all consciousness of present guilt had departed from me. The repose of my mind was unspeakably great. I never can describe it in words. The thought of God was sweet to my mind, and the most profound spiritual tranquillity had taken full possession of me. This was a great mystery, but it did not distress or perplex me. There was a great sweetness and tenderness in my thoughts and feelings. Everything appeared to be going right, and nothing seemed to ruffle or disturb me in the least. In the evening (after we had finished business), as I closed the door and turned around, all my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was, “I want to pour out my whole soul to God. The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the back room to pray.
There was no fire and no light, nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus face to face. It did not occur to me for some time afterward that it was wholly a mental state. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with choked utterance. As I turned, and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.
“Without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. It seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. No words could express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I said, 'Lord, I cannot bear any more, yet I was not afraid of death. Late in the evening a member of the church came into the office to see me. He found me weeping, and said, “Mr. Finney, what ails you? Are you in pain ?' I replied, 'No, but so happy that I cannot live.' It was impossible for me to doubt that the Spirit of God had taken possession of my soul. In this state I was taught the doctrine of justification by faith as a present experience. I could now see and understand what was meant by the passage, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
"I could see that the moment I believed, while up in the woods, all sense of condemnation had entirely dropped out of my mind. My sense of guilt was gone; my sins were gone. This was just the revelation I needed. I felt myself justified by faith. Instead of feeling that I was sinning all the time, my heart was so full of love that it overflowed. My cup ran over with blessing and with love, and I could not feel that I was sinning against God. Of this experience I said nothing that I recollect at the time to anybody, that is, of this experience of justification.
“ After receiving these baptisms of the Holy Spirit, I was quite willing to preach the Gospel. Nay, I found that I was unwilling to do anything else. I had no disposition to make money. I had no hungering and thirsting after worldly pleasures and amusements in any direction. My whole mind was taken up with Jesus and His salvation, and the
world seemed to me of very little consequence. Nothing, it seemed to me, could be put in competition with the worth of souls; and no labour, I thought, could be so sweet, and no employment so exalted, as that of holding up Christ to a dying world.”
C. G. Finney became, in the Lord's hand, the honoured instrument of a great revival work in the churches of England and America, and of the conversion of hundreds of souls. He died, after a few hours' illness, on August 16th, 1875, lacking two weeks of having completed his eighty-third year.
G Cabman's Testimony. YA NE evening, a few years ago, a very pleasing sight
might have been witnessed at an open-air service held in a place a few miles out of London. Ser.
vices were conducted by one or two ministers and lay helpers on a certain evening of the week—always at the same hour—and at a particular part where three roads met, and where three or four public-houses were exerting their tempting influences within a stone's throw of each other. The first night, when the little band of workers for the Master appeared upon the spot, they seemed to be very likely to have the service to themselves. Notwithstanding the invitations that had been given from house to house, only a very small number presented themselves at the commencement of the service, and these appeared as if they would take good care not to go too near, lest any of their neighbours or the passers-by should think that they belonged to the street-preaching party. However, as the harmonium struck up, and one of the hymns which have become so popular of late began to be sung, the listeners drew a little closer and gradually joined in the singing. And for the greater part, they remained and paid great attention till the close of the service. The next week there was a pretty good number gathered round; and, as soon as the singing commenced, several doors were thrown open, so that some could hear as they sat in their houses, while others came and joined the group of listeners.
The shyness seemed to have largely taken its departure; and not only the men and women, but the children came very near to the speakers, and showed a desire to have some share in the service. Hardworking men were there, some of them with their pipes in their mouths, leaning with their backs against the walls and fences, and all looking as if they were glad that their day's toil was over. Then there were mothers and wives, with their aprons on and sleeves tucked up, which seemed to say that their work was never done until they closed their eyes in sleep. Then there were some of those interesting specimens of humanity-boys : some big, some little ; some with caps, some without; some with clean faces, and several others whose faces were not very clean. However, we were delighted to see the boys there, and the girls, too; they are always first when there is anything good going on, and especially if there is to be any singing in connection with it.
Now it happened on this particular night that a cabman drove by while one of the short addresses was being given. And, hearing what was going on, he drew up, got down from his seat, and stood at his horse's head, listening very attentively. The preacher was telling his hearers what the religion of Christ could do for people; how much better and happier their lives would be, and how everybody around them would soon begin to feel the gladdening influence. Then he went on to speak of being Christ's witnesses; of not being ashamed to let our friends and neighbours know that we are on the Lord's side. He referred to the Psalmist, when he had been brought up out of the horrible pit and the miry clay, and had his feet set upon a rock, and learned to sing the new song, saying, “ Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” “Now," said the preacher, “this is what we all ought to be trying to do, when we have