To The Uttermost
( Originally Published 1868 )
REV. GARDINER SPRING PLUMLEY
MRS. M was an aged woman. For eighty-four years God had spared her, though she was an impenitent, hardened sinner. Pious parents from her birth had commended her in faith to God, and with their dying breath prayed that she might meet them in heaven.
Early in life she had imbibed skeptical notions, which she loved to avow. She read her Bible to find difficulties and make objections. When personally addressed on the subject of religion, she would adroitly turn the conversation to disputed topics, and claim that she could not understand the doctrines of grace. Thus she lived with no fear of God before her eyes, and with no interest in his written and preached word, except as it furnished her with materials for argument and cavilling. Her faculties were unimpaired by age, her mind clear ; and, but for her repugnance to religion, her society was agreeable.
Two successive ministers of the congregation to which her family beonged declared her to be the most hopeless individual for whom they laboured. They did not, however, neglect her. Often was her pastor found talking pointedly with her until she proposed an argument, when he would read an appropriate portion of Scripture, then pray with her, and go his way. He sometimes despaired of being at all useful to her, but was encouraged when he reflected that her parents had been faithful, that God's people were praying for her conversion, that many texts of Scripture were in her memory, and that one of her household was daily setting her a godly example.
One day, as usual, he called upon her. She seemed the same woman as ever—no penitence, no softness. She remarked, " I can't see anything wrong in what Christians call sin. I see evil in ugliness and the like ; but some very good people are always talking about their sins. I can't tell what they mean." The Scripture statements respecting the guilt of disobeying God were held up to view, and sin was described to her as " any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God."
"Nell, if there is such a thing as religion, I should not object to have it."
"Do you doubt, then, that there is such a thing as religion ?"
" I never saw anybody different after, from what they were before, they professed to be converted."
Indeed ! that is strange ; though much younger than you, I think I have seen many. Is not your son L a different person from what he once was? Does he not give evidence of a great change ?"
" I can't see that he does. He always was a good boy before he was pious, and he is a good son now."
" Do you not feel that you yourself need to be changed in order to meet an infinitely holy God ?"
" No, I don"t know as I do. I never have done any sin."
After a pause the pastor read a few verses of Scripture, and committed her to God in prayer.
Ten days afterwards he visited her again. But to his surprise he seemed to find a woman as different from Mrs. M as it is possible to conceive. It was Mrs. M as. far as form was concerned, but with a subdued expression of countenance wonderful to behold. God's Holy Spirit had descended upon her, and was powerfully convincing her of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. She was bathed in tears, and with sobbing and cries for mercy was begging God to pardon "the chief of sinners." Her pastor sought to comfort her, but she refused his consolations. " Oh, there is, there can be no mercy for me. Such a sinner, such a sinner !"
"But I thought you didn't understand what sin is—that you had never sinned ? What have you been doing so bad of late ?"
" Oh, do not talk so ; I have committed the greatest sin that any one can commit."
" Why, what sin is that ?"
Oh, it's rejecting Christ's mercy all these years. Surely he will not save me now."
Jesus was preached to her as " able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." Heb. vii. 25. It was, however, many days before she could rest upon Christ aone, and believe that he would have anything to do with such a sinner. Prayer was daily made for her and with her. The old elder, her neighbor, whose visits and prayers were once unwelcome, was urged by her to come as often as he could, and all other Christian friends were entreated to pray.
"The worst is," said she, " I have been sinning on and on, and opposing everything good so ong ; and now I am shut up in this corner, where I can do nothing but come to Christ ; and can it be possible that he will receive me when I can do nothing else ?"
"Yes, he has promised to save to the uttermost.
He ever liveth, he will be your Saviour eternally. He is willing to begin to be your Jesus now. Though aged, you are blessed with clear reason. You can hear and understand his message : ' Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'" Acts xvi. 31.
At last light broke in upon her soul. She saw the compassion of Jesus. She received him into her heart, and found all his promises true. Then her prayers were mingled with praises. She called upon all about her to sing the praises of her Saviour. In the night she would awake and request this, and on. more than one occasion succeeded in having her friends sing " songs in the night." Old hymns ong forgotten came back to her memory, and must be searched up and sung. The burden of those she loved most was the power of Christ to cleanse and save the vilest sinners. Jesus had discovered to her her sinfulness; Jesus had made her whole. The language of her heart was,
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On thy kind arms I fall: Be thou my strength and righteousness, My Jesus and my all."
Here are important lessons.
1. There is hope even for those whose case seems most hopeless. Never despair of such. Use all the means of grace for them. Do not argue with them. Read or repeat to them God's word, converse with them tenderly, and pray for them earnestly. Every true prayer will be answered, and every portion of truth become at last effectual.
2. Let parents train their children for Christ, and in faith commit them to his care. Teach them his word, set before them a godly example, and if you are taken from them, trust in God to make them his own. " I believe," said a dying Christian mother, " that all my children will be converted." And the event was in accordance with her faith.
3. Do not delay accepting Jesus as your Saviour. By so doing you rob God of that service which it is your privilege to render him now, and heap up sorrows for the future. Oh may you never know the pangs of remorse that folow a life of sin ! If you are now convinced of your duty, and fail to do it, God may leave you to your chosen course, to sink into eternal death.
4. The greatest sin is rejection of Christ's love. Such is the testimony of a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Ah, sinner, beware ! Are you slighting the infinite ove of Jesus ? Remember it was to bless you that he died ; to make you for ever happy he bowed his head in unutterable anguish. And his power is as mighty as his ove. If you believe on him, he can, he will save you. HE Is ABLE TO SAVE THEM TO THE UTTERMOST THAT COME UNTO GOD BY HIM.