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will, let him take the water of life freely." The water is free, but the thirsty must dip it up and drink it.
If you refuse, what then? Then you remain just where you were. In no event can there be any ground of complaint. You stay where you elect to stay, and take your chances under the law. He that doeth the law shall live by it! But if you have broken the law, what then? The law explicitly says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; and soul-death is hopeless alienation from a holy God.
If you accept the overtures of my friend, he has somewhat further to say. He proposes to be your taskmaster, from this time on. His words are, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
He claims the right of mastery over those who are saved through him. “Ye call me, Teacher and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am.” The man who is forgiven must straightway pass under the yoke. Conversion is subjugation. My friend wants you to "come”; but the moment you come he insists that you shall “go.” Go where? Wherever he says.
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain and plain and sea;
I'll be what you want me to be. His word must be henceforth your law. You are to believe what he says, no matter what the world thinks about it. And in your walk and conversation you are bound to follow in his steps. No man passes into heaven who does not first pass into commission as a servant of Christ. He is engaged in a great work, the setting up of his Kingdom in this world of ours. He said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." He is the reaper of the world's harvest. He comes this way with sickle in hand; and if he find a man with “Christ" on his forehead and apparently nothing to do, he addresses him thus: “Why stand ye idle all the day? Say not, It is yet four months and then cometh the harvest. Lift up your eyes and see! The fields are white already unto the harvest. I go to reap. Here is a sickle for thee; thrust it in and reap. As the Father sent me into the world, so send I you. Work while it is day!” I doubt not that my friend could accomplish his purpose without any assistance from you or me. He could restore the world to truth and righteousness by the sheer dead-lift of his omnipotence; but he has chosen otherwise. He calls us to co-operate with him. It is infinite condescension on his part thus to include us in the partnership of grace. How splendidly the possibilities of manhood are exalted by it! The greatest thing in the world is this co-partnership of saved sinners with the Saviour in the work of universal salvation. Lend a hand, my brother, if you would make your life tell.
One thing more you will discover in this interview, to wit, that my friend is a sure paymaster.
He asks nothing for nothing. We are saved by his grace and not by any works of our own. Yet none of our good works is for naught. He says, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” We go to heaven by grace; but the kind of heaven we find when we get there will depend upon the faithful seryice which we render here and now.
In the parable of The Vineyard, he is said to have agreed with his laborers for “a penny a day.” But what a penny! On one side of it is the image and superscription of the King; on the other is this legend, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord !”
It means something to be a Christian. It means giving up some things, but nothing which is not tinctured with sin. It means taking on other things, but nothing which has not to do with the kingdom of God. And for all that we surrender we are promised "manifold more in this time and in the world to come eternal life.” Manifold here and now! This is better than the best gold-bearing bonds. And in the time to come life eternal! Who shall define that? It means heaven, eternal felicity, the Master's “Well done!” It means to eat of the hidden manna and to drink of the river of life. Oh, it pays, it pays splendidly and eternally, to serve in the retinue of the only-begotten Son of God!
This is my friend to whom I would introduce you. Will you enter and commune with him? Do not stand upon ceremony. Be quite free. If you have aught against him, tell him so. Bring forth your strong arguments. But dispossess yourself of all prejudgments; and look candidly, dispassionately, earnestly into his face. To see him is to wonder; to know him is to love.
It was the red-letter day of my life when I made his acquaintance fifty-eight years ago. It will be the red-letter day of your life if you shall now receive him, saying, "My Lord, my life, my sacrifice, my Saviour and my all !”
New York, October 1, 1914.