Rescued and Fulfilled

A poor youth came to the shores of America from Old England, a few years ago, bringing with him only the prayers of a devoted mother whom he left in the home of his birth. His faith stood then only in the teachings of his mother. The living faith which is the vital union between Jesus and the soul he had not.

Falling in company with Universalists on his way westward from New York, his traditional faith was soon shaken from its sandy foundation, and then the legitimate fruits of his new notions about universal salvation were quick to ripen, and most abundant in fruitage, though, alas, their fruits were not very fair to the eye nor very sweet to the taste. Bitterly did he rue it afterwards.

He fell into loose habits and loose company. The Sabbath [the Lord’s Day] was turned into a play day, or a work day, as best suited to his pleasure or his purse, and vice ceased to be contraband. His feet were on slippery steps, and swiftly sliding, when suddenly the Lord arrested him by a casualty from which he was saved alive by a singular–miracle, shall I say? Almost a miracle it certainly was.

At work on a frame, then in course of construction, his foot slipped–he tottered, reeled, fell, (he was at work on the second story) and falling he was caught by a joist below. He fell backwards and the small of his back came upon the timber. He was taken up alive, but with little hope of his living a single hour.

His agony was awful, and as he recovered from the first stunning effects of his fall, his returning sensibilities seemed more and more alive to suffering every moment. Nothing relieved him. The severity of his pain constantly grew greater for many hours. At last in the madness of despair, he sent for a quantity of whiskey, and drank enough, as he hoped, to drown his suffering, and let him die in insensibility–but it failed to intoxicate. Strangely enough, it gave the relief which all the physician’s medicines and skill had failed to give, and he began to recover.

With the thought of recovery came also a review of his past life. Remembrances of his home and his mother came upon him, and now his life of dissipation, with the opiate of Universalism, which had lulled his fears of God and Eternity, was to him like a dream when one awakes. He felt it to be all wrong, all false. He saw his delusion, and most bitterly lamented his folly and sin.[1]

Weary nights and days he prayed and struggled for peace and pardon. Sleep seldom visited his eyes. Fears were his daily food. His cries prevented the dawn of the morning. His sins grew heavy–a load too great to be borne.

At last, one night, overborne with weariness, he fell into a troubled sleep, and in his sleep he dreamed. He thought he had fallen into a ditch, not very deep. It seemed to him at first easy to make his escape, but when he attempted it, he sunk down deeper and deeper with each successive struggle, until at last he found himself sinking in the mire over his head, and just about to be drowned in the filthy waters of that horrible place.

Just then, lifting up his eyes, he saw stooping over him, the bending form of a strong man, with his hand outstretched to save.

“Oh that he would save me!” thought the young man, and he ceased to struggle to save himself. Then the hand of the rescuer grasped him firmly, and lifted him easily out of the mire, and placed him upon the bank of the ditch, and in a moment he had stripped him, washed him, and clothed him anew–and just then the troubled dreamer awoke from his sleep.

“Ah!” said he to himself, “I see. I see. l can never save myself–all my struggles are in vain, and worse than in vain. l do but sink deeper and deeper. Jesus must save or l must perish.” [2] And Jesus did save. His feet were taken from the horrible pit and the miry clay. He was washed and clothed, and made happy in a sense of sin forgiven, and the hope of Heaven [1 Pet. 1:3-9].

His spirits rose, and his health returned–that is to say, the health of his body, from the waist upward. From the small of his back downward he was paralyzed and shrivelled away. From his waist upward he grew fat and fair. He applied himself to sewing for employment and for a living, and soon acquired skill to earn a fair maintenance, with something to give to the poor and to the treasury of the Lord.

He was happy until by and by thoughts of his desolation began to grow upon him. Others, God had set in families; to him this was denied. None would ever love him as he longed to be loved. He should never have wife or children bound to him by the tender bond of matrimonial or filial affection. His heart yearned for the endearments which he felt in his soul he was created to enjoy. And as the certainty pressed upon him that he could never enjoy them, his heart sunk within him and seemed to he withering away like his limbs.

“Alas!” he thought, “must it be so? Yes, it must indeed. None could ever love me as the bride loves her husband. l can never have one to love and cherish, as the bridegroom loves and cherishes the chosen companion of his life.”

Again, he became intensely wretched. His troubled soul denied him the embrace of even “tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,” until at last, in sheer exhaustion, he fell into wakeful slumbers, and dreamed again as before. In his dream he seemed to be entangled in logs and trees, lying criss-cross over the ground in utter confusion, as they are sometimes found in our forests, where the hurricane has done its work, and made what is called a windfall–no tree left standing, but all blown down, one over the other, in all conceivable positions.

In the distance, he saw Jesus standing, and at once began struggling to make his way over the logs to the Master, but could not. He was foiled in every attempt, and at last gave up in despair; and then, looking up, there was Jesus standing with outstretched arms, before him. And oh, so lovely and so loving. The Savior clasped him in His arms, and spoke words of endearment, assuring him that He would be ever with him; would never forsake him, but love him freely, as the bridegroom loves the bride, and cherish him as His beloved forever. [3]

He awoke, and behold it was a dream, and yet not all a dream. Thenceforth the longing of his soul for one to love him, and be beloved, was satisfied. Evermore Jesus was with him, the bridegroom of his heart.

From THE HIGHER CHRISTIAN LIFE (NEW YORK: SHELDON & Co, 1858). Part 3, Chapter 5 [Scripture references in brackets and article title added.] This book was seminal to the Keswick movement and was instrumental in the deeper life testimony of A. B. Simpson (pastor, author, missionary leader and founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance). The 2006 GN edition was titled “A Cripple Who Walked with God.”

[1] Scriptures that refute universalism include Matthew 7:13,14,24,25; John 5:29; Revelation 20:14,15.

[2] Acts 4:12; Heb. 7:25

[3] John 6:37; Matt. 22:2; Rev. 19:7

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