The Artizan and the Bible.
"LESMAHAGOW, return, to-day," expressed my plan for the day as I made application to the booking clerk at Eglinton Street Station, Glasgow. En route to a Christian Conference, I wanted a quiet read of the Grand Old Book, so selected a poor-looking carriage, and a compartment as near the engine as possible, the portion least used as being most disastrous in case of collision. Nicely seated and Book just opened, the train was about to start when a respectable looking artizan hurried into the compartment and opened a conversation on the severity of the frost, the danger from microbes in such old rolling-stock, &c. Then my fellow-traveller suddenly enquired, "What's that book you're reading?" "The Bible, sir." "You don't believe it!" "Yes, I do." 'No, you don't." 'Yes, sir, I believe it all." "Well, I don't!" " Oh, I did not say you believed it; I said I believed it," I replied, and after a little more "sparring" as the train sped on its onward course, I said, "Man, I have long wanted to meet a man like you; a sensible working man who, while not believing the Bible, yet knows the Bible fairly well, for I have often wondered if it were possible by reading the Bible only, to be unable to believe it on account of the difficulties, contradictions, and peculiarities which you mention. I have read it now for 30 years, and though there is very much in it that I can't understand, there is nothing in it I can't believe. Tell me, did you get your doubts from the Bible or from other books?" "Oh, from the Bible,'' replied my companion. "But have you not read other books?" "A few."
This led me to know how we stood, and remembering the old adage, "The Christian is often argumentatively wrong, but spiritually right," I decided to take my stand not on the ground of reason, but on the tried and proved ground of experience. Letting my friend have his innings, in which he used strong, free, yet not uncourteous language against the Bible, I plied him with thrust No. 1, "Man, tell me this, in spite of the frost, the microbes, and the uncomfortable journey, are you really and truly a happy man?" "No, man, to tell you the real truth, I am not." "Well, replied I, "don't you see I have the better of you, for I believe this Book. I believed in the Christ of this Book in 1874, I was made happy that night, I have been kept happy ever since, and I can say this cold day of January, with frost, microbes, and all, if this train goes smash, I have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
"Oh, well! oh, well! don't let me upset your belief in that Book," replied my infidel friend, not being accustomed to or quite liking this turn of the argument. "Now, don't have any fear on that score, for surely as fellow-men, we can speak freely and frankly to each other, and I admire your frankness and fairness," I replied, as I prepared thrust No. 2.
I weighed up my friend, middle aged, well fed, sensible looking, settled job, so I broke in, "I should judge you are a married man?" "Yes," said he. "Family?" "Yes," again. "Man, how do you get on with the youngsters? I fancy I see you taking your wee lassie on your knee and looking into her blue eyes." He sat up and stared. I had hit it—one girl among boys, blue eyes. "Yes, man, I can see you sitting in the big arm-chair taking your own child on your knees, looking her straight in the face, and telling her whatever she does, she is not to believe in the Bible or the God of the Bible! I suppose you do so with your children?" "Not a bit of it," said he with vehemence; "they go to the Sunday school like any other man's bairns." "Well, well, I retorted; it's a mighty poor thing you've ·got. It doesn't make the father happy, and he dare not teach it to his offspring. Good neither for old nor young." "Thank God," I continued, "the salvation l have through faith in the Lord Jesus made me happy, and I can tell my loved ones that God so loved them, that He gave His only begotten Son to die on Calvary's Cross on their account, and if we believe on Him, commit our souls to Him, we have everlasting life now, and will meet an unbroken family around the throne of God in Heaven."
A few more words as to the solid satisfaction to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, eliciting from my fellow-traveller, a voluntary admission that "he wished he were truly satisfied on one side or the other;'' the train slowed up into Hamilton West, and the conversation which had opened with a tinge of bitterness, ended in a friendly handshake, both feeling that we were not only fellow-travellers in the same earthly train, but feltow-travellers to the great terminus—Eternity; a parting word to "rest not till satisfied with the knowledge of salvation through the Blood of the Lamb," and a peculiar longing that should we never meet on earth again, we may unite in that glory song, "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Rev. i. 5, 6).
Ah! deep down in every human being—deeper in some than others—is the settled conviction that—
(1) There is something in LIFE, some tie above the mere creature ties of earth, an inner consciousness that man is an ever-existent being, having a relation to his fellows because of the creative link with God, for ''in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts xvii. 28).
(2) There is something in DEATH. The still, small voice crying aloud that after all, we do not die like the brute creation. The parting of that which "God breathed into man" from the body, making death a solemn moment to all. Death! the king of terrors, and the terror even of kings.
(3) There is something in JUDGMENT. "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment" (Heb. ix. 27). In childhood, boyhood, manhood, even down to hoary hairs, that inward preacher Conscience cries, "Get ready for death! Prepare for judgment!"
(4) There is an ETERNITY! "I wish I were satisfied on one side or the other," was the railway traveller's way of expressing his conviction that as a man, he knew he was going to eternity—to be on one side or the other, even there! You know it too. In a hundred years from now, you will either be in Heaven's glory or Hell's gloom for eternity!
Beloved fellow-traveller, in the express of Time to the great terminus of Eternity, whether infidel or nominal Christian, old or young, if not absolutely certain at this moment that your sins are forgiven, your soul is saved, and your seat in Heaven is secured, let me plead with you to haste to some quiet spot, and alone with God, let your weary, aching heart flow out to Him in contrition. Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John i. 29); test His unconditional promise, "Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out" (John vi. 37), and you will be "fully persuaded, that what He has promised, He is able to perform" (Rom. iv. 21). Millions have put the matter to the test, why should not you? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and THOU shalt be saved" (Acts xvi. 31); then should dangers affright, death ensue, worlds go smash, or eternity dawn, you will be able to say, "We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." HyP.
"The Railway Signal" 1909