The Murderer’s Will
by G.J. Stewart
Some few years ago, in one of the Australian colonies, a man named C— was outlawed for some crime he had committed against the State. As a consequence of this, the troopers were sent out on his track, as he had taken to the bush.
Not many days after they had started in pursuit, one of the troopers who had become separated from his comrades, not suspecting he was anywhere near the man who he was in pursuit of, had dismounted, and stooping down at a water-hole, was refreshing himself. At that moment, the outlaw, who was watching him from behind a tree where he was hiding, fired at and wounded him. Then, with the butt-end of his rifle, he dashed out his brains.
Such a brutal murder, added to his other crimes, redoubled the vigilance of the police, and a liberty so diabolically purchased was but of a momentary duration. The miscreant was taken, tried, and condemned to be hanged.
Just before the sentence was executed, the murderer made a will, leaving all the property he possessed to the widow of the murdered man; supposing, perhaps “to make a kind of reparation for the dreadful deed he had committed. A notice of this duly appeared in the morning papers.
The next morning another announcement appeared with expressions of astonishment, in which the readers pretty generally shared, when it became known that the widow refused to receive either stick or straw from the hands of the man who had murdered her husband.
A woman of a noble mind, indeed!
How could she, who was inconsolable at the loss of one who was nearer and dearer to her than any other on earth, be a debtor to the bounty of him whose hands were wet with her husband’s blood? Every loving heart and every upright mind would be inexpressibly shocked at the bare mention of such a thing.
Let our beloved fellow-believers, and especially the young readers of the Gospel Messenger, reflect that this incident exactly sets forth the relationship that exists between the world and themselves as part of the bride of Christ, together with the conduct suitable to this blessed relationship.
The world has murdered Him, around whom all the renewed affections play. It has cast Him out, and stands condemned of this act by the Holy Spirit, whose very presence here demonstrates the guilt of the world in respect of its unbelief in rejecting the Son of Man. As it is written, He shall convict the world “of sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:9).
One of the functions of the Holy Spirit here is thus to testify against the world, and, in fact, His very presence, as stated above, is a witness to its guilt, for He would not be here if Christ had not been murdered by the world.
The world is, then, by the presence of the Holy Spirit, put into the place of the prisoner in the dock; while the Holy Spirit is as the witness in the box, upon whose testimony the prisoner’s guilt is proved.
Men and women in the world are either in collusion with the world, or they are in the current of the testimony of the Holy Spirit against it.
Which is it with us, dear reader?
Would it not be an anomaly to see the witness in the box, leaning forward, and fraternising with the prisoner in the dock, or receiving favours from him?
Is it not equally an anomaly to see Christians eagerly seeking the favours, the honours, the emoluments of the world, whose hands are imbrued with the blood of their Lord?
If natural affection and uprightness of mind repudiate such a thing, as in our illustration, how much more should spiritual affection, and that loyalty of heart to Christ, which resents every insult offered to Him, lead the Christian to repudiate all the overtures of the world, which are only made with a view to draw away the affections from Christ?
How wily an enemy is the devil, the prince of this world! How speciously he uses the world as an instrument in his hands to tempt the believer! Alas, how frequently is he successful!
Yet, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:16-17).
The “young men” of John, though they be strong, and the Word of God abide in them, and they have overcome the wicked one, nevertheless have need of the exhortation:
“LOVE NOT THE WOULD.”
We should beware of it as a thing which always appeals to us, and from which we are never free, but as we abide in Christ.
The need of the day is loyalty of heart to Christ, and this in repudiation of the claims of the world, which, as a siren, would entice the soul, and rob it of its joy, and render at the same time all testimony against itself valueless.
The testimony of Lot seemed as an idle tale to the men of Sodom—his sons-in-law. Why? Because Lot valued and sought after the riches and honours of Sodom.
May the Lord in His mercy raise up and sustain amongst His people a band of loyal, true-hearted “young men,” who shall go forward for the prize of their high calling, refusing to look back to the world or to go back in heart to it. His grace alone can accomplish this.
And surely if natural affection can sustain a true-hearted and cruelly bereaved woman in integrity of conduct towards her deceased husband, the Christian may count upon grace to be sustained by divine affection for the One who is not only dead, as far as this world is concerned, but who laid down His life for him—sustained in quiet devotedness to Him, loyally refusing the overtures of the murderer, and testifying against him in the current of the Holy Spirit’s witness in this world.
May the Lord grant it to both readers and writer!
The Gospel Messenger 1900, p. 312