by G.J. Stewart
Sam B—d lived on a “scrub” farm on the banks of the Mary, in Queensland, Australia.
He had led a wild life, as so many, in the early days of the colony, had; working hard and drinking hard; clearing, farming, butchering, and doing other things by turns. Had made money, and spent it as easily as he had made it. Drink, that moral and social blight, had been his curse, and the publican’s hut had seen many a cheque “knocked down” by Sam B. He had had hair-breadth escapes riding home through the bush; even good horses cannot guarantee drunken riders from injury by falls, collision with trees, &c. His boy had feared the reckless riding of the one whom he should have been led to respect in everything, and had hidden himself anywhere rather than be mounted before his father in these bouts. Again and again had that father been thrown, and dragged by the stirrup by his frightened beast, at the imminent risk of his life. On one occasion he awoke in the morning lying head downwards on the side of a waterhole, within a foot of the water, where he had been thrown the night before.
But all this had told on his health, and in later years he had been more steady; had bought a farm, and worked upon the kindly soil, which had repaid his efforts, and he was tolerably comfortable; but, in this world, as well as in the next, “What a man soweth that shall he also reap;” his health failed him, and he lay upon his bed from which he never got up.
Whilst preaching in the neighbourhood, I had been told of him by some neighbours interested in his spiritual welfare, and pulled up the river to his landing-place, and found him slowly dying. Conscience had begun to make itself heard, and his past life, with its iniquities, was all before him, but darkness covered him as to how all was to be blotted out, and dread as to how he should stand in the presence of Him before whom he expected shortly to be summoned. All this he did not attempt to conceal.
Presentations of the Gospel in ways that reach some failed in this case, he being quite unable to read, and his darkness remained unbroken. Thinking over his case before the Lord, and what he had himself told me, I said, one day, “Sam, you know what debt is?”
“Yes,” said he.
“And what a receipt is?”
“Yes, I’ve had plenty of them in my time.”
“Well, now, if you were in debt, and could not possibly pay, and a friend came forward and paid the debt, handing you a receipt, would you fear the creditor?”
“No, of course not, the receipt would settle it anywhere.”
“Your sins, then, may be compared to a debt. You have incurred by them the displeasure of God, who demands satisfaction, and it must be rendered to Him, or you cannot escape hell.”
“Ah, but can a receipt be had for that debt?”
“Yes,” I said, referring to the parable of the two debtors (Luke 7:41-42), “but the debt must be owned, and the fact acknowledged that you have nothing to pay; give up all attempts at compounding with your Creditor, your debt is ten thousand talents, and your assets nothing, then there is free forgiveness.”
“But the receipt, what’s that?”
“Well, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ He undertook to pay the penalty; He endured the wrath; He died the death, and He sustained the judgment you deserved. His blood, His death, was what paid the debt, but God raised Him from the dead, declaring to all that He, the Creditor, was satisfied with the work of His Son, and He took Him, as a man, up to heaven, and gave Him a place at His right hand. This is really the receipt, Jesus risen, ascended, and seated at God’s right hand. But the Holy Spirit has come down, and declared God’s satisfaction in the work of Christ, and caused it to be written in this Book (the New Testament), so that this may answer to a written receipt, which any poor sinner, who owns to God his condition and helplessness, may hold in his hand, and have the blessed sense of security which it alone can give; and it cannot lie, nor can it change.”
This he seized upon with the avidity of a soul who needed it, as a drowning man clutches the life buoy thrown to him, and he was at peace.
Thinking over it afterwards, my fears were aroused lest he had too easily entered into peace, so on the next visit I thought I would test him. He was reminded of his sins and past life, of the inflexible holiness of God, whose purity could not be sullied by sin, of the impossibility of a sinner in his sins ever finding a standing-place before this holy God, and of the hell that awaits all such.
Quiet attrition and recognition of the truth of the statements made gradually gave way to a nervous excitement as he saw his reality was questioned, and, raising himself up on his left elbow, with his right forefinger he touched several times the New Testament which lay unopened upon my knee, and said, “Well, I can’t read, but, if you read in that book, you’ll find that Jesus Christ died for sinners,” and fell back again upon his bed.
Happy Sam, he had got the receipt, and he clutched it steadily to the end, which was not long now.
His farm and its prosperity were left. He had worked hard for it of late years, but now he had become entitled to blessings of another character, that he had not wrought for, and, shortly, he was divested of that which made care for the one necessary, and entered more fully into the other, though he awaits yet the full enjoyment of those spiritual blessings that were made his, feeble believer as he was, in common with all who rest on Christ for salvation.
His funeral in the bush cemetery was romantic. The horses of the cavalcade that followed the body, composed of the farmers and settlers for miles up and down the river, were “hung” on the post and rail fence of the cemetery, or to the gum trees that grew within and without, and the men stood around as we committed his body to the grave; stalwart and strong they were; though with traces of hardship and endurance that mark ordinarily the conquerors of the soil in new countries, and with marks also of that sympathy that knits men’s hearts together who have shared common dangers and won common victories. Some that stood around that grave had found the peace S.B—d had so recently found; others knew it not. Some have passed off this scene, while others still remain. The day will declare how many really trusted Christ for salvation.
And you, my reader, have, you made the receipt your own? This is faith’s work. The value is in the blood.
Scattered Seed 1887, p. 1