Brethren Archive

Like a Dog Without a Master

by G.J. Stewart

The above remarkable expression was used by one of the English champion cyclists, named H—, with whom I was thrown into company in Adelaide, S.A., and who was there on cycling business. Conversation brought out how little that which occupied him rendered the satisfaction he sought. Is there not in every man a sense of the need of a controlling power, which all his boasted independency cannot obliterate?

“I feel like a dog without a master,” said he, in answer to some interrogations as to what happiness such a life as his gave. He had been thrown from his cycle, and injured his collar-bone; indeed his friends thought him dying, but he had recovered, though he was still feeling the effects of the injury, and under treatment for it.

“Happy? No, I’m not happy,” said he, “at least only at times, when the beer is in, but it all vanishes with the effect of this stimulant, and then there is the fear that such another disaster as I have encountered already may prove the last. I feel indeed while wandering over the world in pursuit of pleasure and excitement like a dog without a master.”

I sought to present Christ to him as the alone source of happiness to man, and the only One who could possibly fill the blank his heart felt, and become a master to a poor wandering dog, and found him quite accessible to the truth, to which he listened eagerly.

But our brief interview soon closed, and we parted; I to go my way in seeking to serve my Master, however poorly; and he possibly still to feel his need of one. The next day he sailed for England in pursuit of fresh victories on the wheel.

Happening to take up a paper some months after, and looking down the English cablegrams, I saw that H—, still one of the champion cyclists, had been thrown from his wheel at a certain race and killed! This recalled the conversation which had taken place less than twelve months back, and awoke many reflections in my heart.

Had he sought and found the Master he so sensibly needed? Or, had he continued in the service of that master, who tries, however ineffectually, to hide the bonds by which he leads his victims to hell? Was he, when he passed off this scene, consciously the free man of the Lord Jesus Christ? Or, was he unconsciously the bondslave of Satan, led captive by him for his will? God only knows.

Reader, you have lately entered upon a new year. How did you enter upon it? “Like a dog without a master?” Like the scavengers of the East described in Psalm 59:15, which are more wolf than dog, who return at evening, and go round about the city, who wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied? Shall one of the months of the present year ring your knell? If so, how will you quit the year? How will you exchange time for eternity?

Ah! leave it not to chance! Avail yourself now of an offered Christ as Saviour, His blood for your sins; Himself for your heart, to satisfy your affections, and to control your wanderings here for His own glory. In other words, let Him be your Master.

No one can tell but He, how poor H— passed off the scene (save H— himself indeed), whether to be with a Master who loved him and gave Himself for him; or, whether to lift up his eyes in Hades being in torment. But, my reader, you may know, if you think it worth your while to know, how it is with you now.

Do not put it off! The principles of God’s judgment-seat are already made known. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Therefore, dear reader, you have sinned and come short of His glory. Plead guilty to this now in the depths of your being before God, and you shall know now that you are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).

Then come peace, and grace, and glory! A Saviour; a Friend; a Lord (Master)! Then you shall no more complain as a dog without a master. Rather, like the Psalmist who knew his Master, you shall, in the words of the Psalm already referred to, say: “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy” (Ps. 59:16-17).

If in such a case you pass from this scene during 1900, your friends may lift up their voices in thanksgiving, knowing that all wanderings are o’er, and rest and peace are yours for ever.

Reader! accept the Lord Jesus Christ as thy Master. He will engage thee!


The Gospel Messenger 1900, p. 75

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