HE WHO SPOKE and wrote this message will be greatly disappointed if it does not lead many to the Lord Jesus. It is sent forth in childlike dependence upon the power of God the Holy Ghost, to use it in the conversion of millions, if so He pleases. No doubt many poor men and women will take up this little volume, and the Lord will visit them with grace. To answer this end, the very plainest language has been chosen, and many homely expressions have been used. But if those of wealth and rank should glance at this book, the Holy Ghost can impress them also; since that which can be understood by the unlettered is none the less attractive to the instructed. Oh that some might read it who will become great winners of souls!
Who knows how many will find their way to peace by what they read here? A more important question to you, dear reader, is this—Will you be one of them?
A certain man placed a fountain by the wayside, and he hung up a cup near to it by a little chain. He was told some time after that a great art-critic had found much fault with its design. “But,” said he, “do many thirsty persons drink at it?” Then they told him that thousands of poor people, men, women, and children, slaked their thirst at this fountain; and he smiled and said, that he was little troubled by the critic’s observation, only he hoped that on some sultry summer’s day the critic himself might fill the cup, and he refreshed, and praise the name of the Lord.
Here is my fountain, and here is my cup: find fault if you please; but do drink of the water of life. I only care for this. I had rather bless the soul of the poorest crossing-sweeper, or rag-gatherer, than please a prince of the blood, and fail to convert him to God.
Reader, do you mean business in reading these pages? If so, we are agreed at the outset; but nothing short of your finding Christ and Heaven is the business aimed at here. Oh that we may seek this together! I do so by dedicating this little book with prayer. Will not you join me by looking up to God, and asking Him to bless you while you read? Providence has put these pages in your way, you have a little spare time in which to read them, and you feel willing to give your attention to them. These are good signs. Who knows but the set time of blessing is come for you? At any rate, “The Holy Ghost saith, Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
WHAT ARE WE AT?
I HEARD A STORY; I think it came from the North Country: A minister called upon a poor woman, intending to give her help; for he knew that she was very poor. With his money in his hand, he knocked at the door; but she did not answer. He concluded she was not at home, and went his way. A little after he met her at the church, and told her that he had remembered her need: “I called at your house, and knocked several times, and I suppose you were not at home, for I had no answer.” “At what hour did you call, sir?” “It was about noon.” “Oh, dear,” she said, “I heard you, sir, and I am so sorry I did not answer; but I thought it was the man calling for the rent.” Many a poor woman knows what this meant. Now, it is my desire to be heard, and therefore I want to say that I am not calling for the rent; indeed, it is not the object of this book to ask anything of you, but to tell you that salvation is all of grace, which means, free, gratis, for nothing.
Oftentimes, when we are anxious to win attention, our hearer thinks, “Ah! now I am going to be told my duty. It is the man calling for that which is due to God, and I am sure I have nothing wherewith to pay. I will not be at home.” No, this book does not come to make a demand upon you, but to bring you something. We are not going to talk about law, and duty, and punishment, but about love, and goodness, and forgiveness, and mercy, and eternal life. Do not, therefore, act as if you were not at home: do not turn a deaf ear, or a careless heart. I am asking nothing of you in the name of God or man. It is not my intent to make any requirement at your hands; but I come in God’s name, to bring you a free gift, which it shall be to your present and eternal joy to receive. Open the door, and let my pleadings enter. “Come now, and let us reason together.” The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. It may be that the hour is come in which you shall enter upon that new life which is the beginning of heaven. Faith cometh by hearing, and reading is a sort of hearing: faith may come to you while you are reading this book. Why not? O blessed Spirit of all grace, make it so!
—All of Grace