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“ Then I came to speak to you of Christ, as one who came to save the lost: but I see you do not think yourself one of the lost, and therefore Christ will be nothing to you."
He left her. But his parting words remained, and they were words she could not forget. “What! did Christ come to save the lost, and do I mean that I am not one whom he can save ?" And the Spirit of God was there to teach her more of herself than she had ever known before. The friend came again; but what a change he found in her!
“Oh! sir,” she exclaimed, “I am one of the lost! I feel it now-I feel it, indeed, now." .
"Now let me tell you of Christ," said he. And that day she learned with gratitude how “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Many interviews afterwards took place with this dying young woman; at every visit she grew more earnest in her trust in Christ, and love to him,—and at last died saying, “ I have found him who came to save the lost." Reader, it is deserving of thought, how little worth the death of Christ would have been to this woman if she had not seen herself guilty, and as one who had need of Christ.
And have you never seriously thought of your need, as a sinner for whom Christ died? Are you content to stem the stream all alone—the stream that is hurrying you on, swiftly, surely, fatally, to your end? Or, like the young man who stifled conviction, and turned to the world, will you run on in sin and in infidelity until it is “ too late?" Or, if this open blasphemy be too revolting to your sense of right, or your convictions of truth, will you be satisfied to admit the fact of Christ's death, while at the same time you wrap yourself in the mantle of your own fancied excellences, and say, “God will accept me at last?” Nay, this is not wise. Never had Christ died, unless your wants had been so extreme that without his death you could never be forgiven. Never would God have made such a costly sacrifice as the life of his Son, except to provide a salvation for those who could never be saved without it. Therefore, while the gospel still cries aloud to every man, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” never turn away and say, “ I need not go;" but listen as though the invitation were all to you, and to none but you, that you may never have to mourn in bitterness of soul when the day of grace is past, saying, “ Alas! I might have been saved, if I had only felt my need of Christ.” Go to him, then; go at once; for not only do you need him, but he will never turn you away, and “ He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him," Heb. vii. 25.
THE HOUSE ON THE SAN D. “ EVERY one,” said Christ, “ that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it,” Matt. vii. 26, 27. Perhaps you may think, “Well, the people in those far countries may have odd ways of doing things, but we should never build a house without laying a firm foundation, to stand the storms.” And yet the circumstances mentioned in the following story actually took place not very long ago.
A poor family in Ireland, of the name of Sloane, were compelled to leave the little farm they had held, because they could not pay their rent; and they found themselves without a place to go to. They were respectable people, but hard times had come upon them, and they were quite broken down by the famine. They got behind with the landlord, and there was no help for them; they had to quit. Mickey Sloane was a weaver, but he had been forced to sell his loom to buy meal; so he, with his wife and two small children, had nothing to do, and no home.
Poor Mick was sadly put to it to find a shelter for those who were trusting to him. He would have gone to America; but who would pay his passage-money? So, after turning the matter over in his mind, he bethought him of a small strip of land on the shore, right under a sand bank. This spot had never been cultivated, for though the grass had grown over it there was nothing but sand underneath. However, as Mick got it for next to nothing, he had a mind to put him up a shelter there. So he collected some stones and wood, and set to work in right earnest; and in a very short time he had a house, such as it was. “But anyhow," said Mick, “it will keep my Mary and the little ones from the cold and the wet, and we'll not be beholden to the landlord.”
Now Mick never so much as thought of the foundation. If he had he never would have placed his house where he did; but he just set up his four walls upon the sand, and roofed them in, and thought it would serve his turn well enough.
“Morrow to ye, Mick," said a neighbour to him the day after he had come to live on the shore; “this is but a poor place I see you in; and I'm thiuking that the first hurricane that gets up will carry your house into the sea. Besides, you see, this sand is queer and shifting; I wish you had built somewhere on firmer ground, for I'm afraid that ye'll come to grief.” “Och, no, Pat!” said Mick, “ye'll see that the house will stand my time, and serve my turn till God sends me a better; and may be the times may mend, and I may get up in the world again. And then you see its handy for me being so near the boats, and I can get out and fish."
Well, sure enough, the house did stand for a good while, and Mick and his family lived in it for about a year: and doubtless many a time he looked at it with pride and pleasure as he was coming in to the shore in the boat, and thought it looked right well and snug under the bank, with the Morne mountains behind it. Little did he think that one day his shelter would deceive him, and fall when he most needed it.
But the winter set in very severe; storms swept along the Irish coast, and the whistling winds might have warned Mick to look to his house, and see if it would stand the blast. But he never gave it a thought. He felt quite safe, and it would have been all a waste of words to try to show him his danger.
This winter Mickey thought the times were really going to mend with him, for his father-in-law sent him a hundred of meal and a loom. His joy was great at getting the loom, for he thought now they would surely get work and be well to do again.
But a very short time after Mickey got the loom, there came a fearful storm. It set in just at night; the wind howled, and the sea dashed and foamed against the rocks, and the rain fel]
THE HOUSE ON THE SAND.
never dreaming of evil; and most likely they were very glad to have a roof over their heads on such a fearful night.
Death comes like a thief; for while they were all asleep the rain so loosened the sand around and under the house that it gave way, and the frail shelter fell upon Mick, and his wife and children, and buried them under its ruins. It is likely that poor Mick had some notion of his danger when it was too late, for his body was found sitting up, as if he had meant to try and save himself. Perhaps if he had a moment to think, he blamed himself for not giving heed to those that knew better than he, and wished that he had not built his house upon the sand.
Now, dear reader, doubtless you feel sorry for this poor man, and think that he was very foolish to do as he did; but are you quite sure that you are not acting in the same way yourself? Do you wonder what we mean? We will explain it to you. You must one day die; your body will be laid in the grave, but your soul will then be either happy or miserable. Now which do you wish to be? No doubt you will say that you wish and hope to go to heaven. But what reason have you to expect that you will do so ? Have you any good ground for such a hope ? for if not you are building your house upon the sand, and at the day of your death when you most want comfort it will fail you, just as Mickey Sloane's foundation failed, and his house fell on the stormy night when he most needed a shelter, and buried him in its ruins.
If Mickey had acted wisely he would have dug deep till he came to some firm ground, or may be to a rock, and then he would have had something solid for his walls to rest on, and his house would have stood so firmly that the rain might have descended and the floods come, and the winds have blown, and it would not have fallen.
Now, we hope you will act wisely about the salvation of your soul: do not build on sand. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ;" and again, “ There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Jesus Christ is the rock you are to build on, and if you trust to anything else you will find it deceive you. You may think all looks very fair and right; but mind, you have not yet met with the wind, and the rain, and the floods. Mickey Sloane thought his house looked all right, and because it stood in fair weather he thought it would resist the storm ; but it did not. And so you may get on very well as long as you are in health and prosperity ; but when the storm comes, that is, sickness and death, will you not find that you have trusted to what will deceive you? Like the sand it will slip away from beneath you, and nothing will be left to rest on. Jesus Christ has plainly told us what we must do to be saved; he says in effect, “Believe on me, and thou shalt be saved." That is the only way. He came into this world to die for our sins, to the end “that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He says, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." If you feel that you are a great sinner, unable to save yourself, and if you come to the Lord Jesus to save your soul from death, he will do it. He died for this very purpose, that all who come to him should be saved from their sins.
None are too poor to come to Jesus, for he says, “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” If we wait till we have anything to give to Jesus we may wait for ever, for we are poor sinners, and all that we are and all that we have is vile, but Jesus receives us just as we are ; he knows we have nothing, and he promises to give us everything.
None are too wicked to come to Jesus, for he says, “ Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” The greatest sinner on this earth, if he does but feel that he needs a Saviour and repents and believes in him, is sure to be forgiven by Jesus. All he asks is, that we come to him penitent and believing.
But you must trust to Jesus alone. You must not fancy that any good works of your own, or of any other person, will save you, or will help to save you. That would be building on sand. Nothing but the rock is a sure foundation, and that rock is Jesus Christ; and he is both able and willing to save you.
Now then, do you see why we have told you this story of Mickey Sloane and his fallen house? It is that you may examine whether your house has a good foundation for eternity; that is, whether you have built your hopes of salvation upon the only rock that will not fail you, Jesus Christ.
But there is yet another lesson to be learned, and it is this: If Mick had known for certain that his house would fall on one particular day, he would have taken care to have been clear of it before that time; but, you see, he did not believe it would fall, and it came down in the night, just when he thought he was most secure. So, friend, do not you think that you will go to Jesus some day or other before you die? How can you tell when that will be? Just go to him now, and pray to him to save you, a great sinner, from your sins, and give you the Holy Spirit to teach, sanctify, and comfort you. Trust only in Christ for salvation; and then whenever your earthly house falls, that is, whenever your body dies, you will have a house in heaven secure and firm.