IT is an odd product of our unhealthy nature the fear to believe. Yet have I met with it often so often that I wish I may never see it again. It looks like humility, and tries to pass itself off as the very soul of modesty, and yet it is an infamously proud thing: in fact, it is presumption playing the hypocrite.
If men were afraid to disbelieve, there would be good sense in the fear; but to be afraid to trust their God is at best an absurdity, and in very deed it is a deceitful way of refusing to the Lord the honor that is due to his faithfulness and truth.
How unprofitable is the diligence which busies itself in finding out reasons why faith in our ease should not be saving! We have God’s word for it, that whosoever believeth in Jesus shall not perish, and we search for arguments why we should perish if we did believe. If any one gave me an estate, I certainly should not commence raising questions as to the title.
What can be the use of inventing reasons why I should not hold my own. house, or possess any other piece of property which is enjoyed by me? If the Lord is satisfied to save me through the merit of his dear Son, assuredly I may be satisfied to be so saved. If I take God at his word, the responsibility of fulfilling his promise does not lie with me, but with God, who made the promise.
But you fear that you may not be one of those for whom the promise is intended. Do not be alarmed by that idle suspicion. No soul ever came to Jesus wrongly. No one can come at all unless the Father draw him; and Jesus has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise east out.” No soul ever lays hold on Christ in a way of robbery; he that hath him hath him of right divine; for the Lord’s giving of himself for us, and to us, is so free, that every soul that takes him has a grace-given right to do so. If you lay hold on Jesus by the hem of his garment, without; leave, and behind him, yet virtue will flow from him to you as surely as if he had called you out by name, and bidden you trust, him, Dismiss all fear when you trust; the Savior. Take him and welcome. He that believeth in Jesus is one of God’s elect.
Did you suggest that it would be a horrible tiring if you were to trust in Jesus and yet perish? It would be so. But as you must perish if you do not trust, the risk at the worst is not very great. “I can but perish if I go; I am resolved to try; For if I stay away, I know I must for ever die,” Suppose you stand in the Slough of Despond for ever; what will be the good of that? Surely it would be better to die struggling along the King’s highway towards the Celestial City, than sinking deeper and deeper in the mire and filth of dark distrustful thoughts! You have nothing to lose, for you have lost everything already; therefore make a dash for it, and dare to believe in the mercy of God to you, even to you.
But one moans, “What if I come to Christ, and he refuses me?” My answer is, “Try him.” Cast yourself on the Lord Jesus, and see if he refuses you.
You will be the first against whom he has shut the door of hope. Friend, don’t cross that bridge till you come to it! When Jesus casts you out, it will be time enough to despair; but that time will never come. “This man receiveth sinners”: he has not so much as begun to cast them out.
Have you never heard of the man who lost his way one night, and came to the edge of a precipice, as he thought, and in his own apprehension fell over the cliff? He clutched at an old tree, and there hung, clinging to his frail support with all his might. He felt persuaded that, should he quit his hold, he would be dashed in pieces on some awful rocks that waited for him down below. There he hung, with the sweat upon his brow, and anguish in every limb. He passed into a desperate state of fever and faintness, and at last his hands could hold up his body no longer. He relaxed his grasp! He dropped from his support! He fell — about a foot or so, and was received upon a soft mossy bank, whereon he lay, altogether unhurt, and perfectly safe fill morning. Thus, in the darkness of their ignorance, many think that sure destruction awaits them, if they confess their sin, quit all hope in self, and resign themselves into the hands of God.
They are afraid to quit the hope to which they ignorantly cling. It is an idle fear. Give up your hold upon everything but Christ, and drop. Drop from all trust in your works, or prayers, or feelings. Drop at once ! Drop now !
Soft and safe shall be the bank that receives you. Jesus Christ, in his love, in the efficacy of his precious blood, in his perfect righteousness, will give you immediate rest and peace. Cease from self-confidence. Fall into the arms of Jesus. This is the major part of faith — giving up every other hold, and simply falling upon Christ. There is no reason for fear: only ignorance causes your dread of that which will be your eternal safety. The death of carnal hope is the life of faith, and the life of faith is life everlasting. Let self die, that Christ may live in you.
But the mischief is that, to the one act of faith in Jesus, we cannot bring men. They will adopt any expedient sooner than have done with self. They fight shy of believing, and fear faith as if it were a monster. O foolish tremblers, who has bewitched you? You fear that which would be the death of all your fear, and the beginning of your joy. Why will you perish through perversely preferring other ways to God’s own appointed plan of salvation?
Alas! there are many, many souls that say, “We are bidden to trust in Jesus, but instead of that we will attend the means of grace regularly.” Attend public worship by all means, but not as a substitute for faith, or it will become a vain confidence. The command is, “Believe and live;” attend to that, whatever else you do. “Well, I shall take to reading good books; perhaps I shall get good that way.” Read the good books by all means, but that is not the gospel: the gospel is, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Suppose a physician has a patient under his care, and he says to him, “You are to take a bath in the morning; it will be of very great service to your disease.” But the man takes a cup of tea in the morning instead of the bath, and he says, “That will do as well, I have no doubt.” What does his physician say when he inquires — “‘ Did you follow my rule?” “No, I did not.” “Then you do not expect, of course, that there will be any good result from my visits, since you take no notice of my directions.” So we, practically, say to Jesus Christ, when we are under searching of soul, “Lord, thou badest me trust thee, but I would sooner do something else! Lord, I want to have horrible convictions; I want to be shaken over bell’s mouth; I want to be alarmed and distressed!” Yes, you want anything but what Christ prescribes for you, which is that; you should simply trust him. Whether you. feel or do not feel, east yourself on him, that, he may save you, and he alone. “But you do not mean to say that you speak against; praying, and reading good books, and so. on?”‘ Not one single word do I speak against any of those things, any more than, if I were the physician I quoted, I should speak against the man’s drinking a cup of tea. Let him drink his tea; but not if he drinks it instead of taking the bath which is prescribed for him. So let the man pray: the more the better. Let the man search the Scriptures; but, remember, that if these things are put in the place of simple faith in Christ, the soul will be ruined. Beware lest it be said of any of you by our Lord, “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; but ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.”
Come by faith to Jesus, for without him you perish for ever. Did you ever notice how a fir-tree will get a hold among rocks which seem to afford it no soil? It sends a rootlet into any little crack which opens; it clutches even the bare reek as with a huge bird’s claw; it holds fast, and binds itself to earth with a hundred anchorages. Our little drawing is very accurate. We have often seen trees thus firmly rooted upon detached masses of bare rock. Now, dear heart, let this be a picture of yourself. Grip the Rock of Ages. With the rootlet of little-faith hold to him. Let that tiny feeler grow; and meanwhile, send out another to take a new grasp of the same Rock.
Lay hold on Jesus, and keep hold on Jesus. Grow up into him. Twist fire roots of your nature, the fibers of your heart, about him. He is as free to you as the reeks are to the fir-tree: be you as firmly lashed to him as the pine is to the mountain’s side.