by John Dickie
THE town of Mansoul,—see Bunyan's "Holy War,"—had been brought almost to extremity of distress. Prince Immanuel had reconquered it; but his anger seemed to burn inexorably against his ancient subjects, and not one of the petitions which they had forwarded to him had been of any avail. Nearly despairing, while yet they had no other hope but in the Prince's clemency, they resolved to venture on another humble appeal to his well-known mercy. But whom should they now select to carry their urgent petition, seeing that previous messengers had sped so poorly? Old Mr. Good-Deed was suggested; but the appointment was overruled as a peculiarly unsuitable one. When they could think of nothing better, they agreed to send back their former messenger,
Mr. Desires-Awake, whom they instructed to be particularly careful about all that he should do or say in the presence of the Prince, lest he might give undesigned offence. Mr. Desires-Awake was willing to go; but he begged to be permitted to take Mr. Wet-Eyes along with him, on his new venture. This Wet-Eyes was a near neighbor of Mr. Desires, a poor man, a man of a broken spirit, yet one that could speak well to a petition. The two commissioners started on their sorrowful but most responsible errand; Mr. Desires with a rope upon his head, and Mr. Wet-Eyes characteristically wringing his hands together. When they reached the presence of Immanuel, after a brief preliminary apology for troubling him at all, they cast themselves on their faces before him, while Desires-Awake presented the petition. The Prince took it; and when he had asked Mr. Desires what was his name, and what was his standing in Mansoul, and why he, of all the citizens, had been selected for such an embassy, the prostrate petitioner answered, "Oh, let not my lord be angry; and why inquirest thou after the name of such a dead dog as I am? Pass by, I pray thee, and take no notice of who I am, because there is, as thou very well knowest, so great a disproportion between me and thee. Why the townsmen chose to send me on this errand to my Lord, is best known to themselves; but it could not be for that they thought that I had favor with my Lord. For my part, I am out of charity with myself; who then should be in love with me?" And when the Prince went on to ask about the name and condition of his companion, Mr. Desires told Immanuel that he was a poor neighbour of his, and one of his most intimate associates "His name," said he, "may it please your most excellent Majesty, is Wet-Eyes, of the town of Mansoul. I know that there are many of that name that are naught; but I hope it will be no offence to my Lord that I have brought my poor neighbour with me." Then Mr. Wet-Eyes fell on his face to the ground, and made this apology for his coming with his neighbour to his Lord, "Oh, my Lord," quoth he, "what I am I know not myself, not whether my name be feigned or true, especially when I begin to think what some have said—namely, that this name was given me because Mr. Repentance was my father. Good men have bad children, and the sincere do oftentimes beget hypocrites; my mother also called me by this name from my cradle, but whether because of the moistness of my brain, or because of the softness of my heart, I cannot tell, I see dirt in my tears, and filthiness in the bottom of my prayers. But I pray thee, (and all this while the gentleman wept,) that thou wouldst not remember against us our transgressions, nor take offence at the unqualifiedness of thy servants, but mercifully pass by the sin of Mansoul, and refrain from the glorifying thy grace no longer."
We feel tempted to follow out the instructive story, but as our present business has to do with Mr. Wet-Eyes alone, we must resolutely refrain. How graphic are the masterly touches with which the incomparable allegorist has outlined for us, in the words now quoted, a most interesting portrait. It is, indeed, but an outline; and yet, like the hasty jotting of a master, done in a second or two, it gives us a better likeness than can be made by the patient, labours of a trio. At the risk of illustrating this very principle—that is, at the risk of spoiling, rather than of completing the sketchy outline—shall we attempt to work in some of the lights and shades, and thus try to bring out as fully as we can the interesting features of the good Mr. Wet-Eyes? There are many Wet-Eyes in the world, nay there are many families of Wet-Eyes, but most of them bear no relationship, either by blood or marriage, to the dear old Wet-Eyes whom we love and admire. Indeed, for the last six thousand years, there are few corners of the earth in which the Wet-Eyes are not more plentiful than even the proverbially numerous Smiths or Browns. But the Mr. Wet-Eyes of whom we speak, is a son of old Repentance; and he had for his mother the well-known gentle and godly Saving-Faith. He partakes, in his mental character, of the peculiar excellences of each parent.
This branch of the family of the Wet-Eyes is an ancient, and a very honourable one. When sin brought with it man's misery into the world, and when the first two sinners were summoned before the Holy One, they began to justify themselves in dry-eyed pride, and to incriminate one another, even in the awful presence. But when the gracious Sovereign, in passing sentence on the serpent for his share in the deplorable transaction, intertwined with the hopeless doom of the tempter a promise, rich in hope, and sparkling with mercy towards the human rebel, the holy love displayed in this had so touched the heart of the hitherto haughty sinner, that he melted in response to it; and the family of the good Wet-Eyes date their origin from this moment. So touched, indeed, was he, that he changed his wife's name from Isha to Eve, from a word which connected her with himself as being her glory, to a word which connected her with the promised seed, as being now the sole hope of a ruined world. Since that day, the family of the Wet-Eyes has never been without a creditable representative.
All the Wet-Eyes are famed for their ability to speak well to a petition. Whatever else they may have, or may lack, they are all men who are mighty in prayer. Many of them are as weak as possible in controversy, and some of them are rather soft-headed when, they attempt to render a reason; but put a petition into their hands, and let them find arguments to support it, and you will be surprised to find what genuine eloquence the very dullest of the race can plead. The cause which they can best order, and the arguments which they are most skillful in arranging, are the cause and the arguments which men prosecute only on their knees. In fact, one of the family; the chief Wet-Eyes of his day, tried a wrestle with the mightiest combatant with whom human strength has ever grappled. It is a most strange and instructive story. For a whole night, Wet-Eyes struggled as in very agony, with his extraordinary assailant; and yet, when day dawned, the feeble man came off, the acknowledged victor. And how was such an issue possible? Was it Jacob's strength or firmness of will that made him a prince, who prevailed with God? Ah, it was neither; it was Jacob's tears. He wept and made supplication; and in this way only he had power over the angel and prevailed. It was his wet eyes which won him the victory.
And, all down through the generations, God has selected his honoured servants out of this family; his greatest favourites being the men and the women who had the moistest eyes. David was one who made his bed swim, and watered his couch with his tears, (Psa. vi. 6) nay, rivers of water sometimes ran down his eyes, (Psa. cxix. 136) Jeremiah wept so much in public, that they called him by the nickname of the "weeping prophet;" and yet, like all the Wet-Eyes, he kept most of his tears for his secret privacy. (Jer. xiii 17) As it was, his grief was so great, that his plentiful tears were not adequate to express it; and he had to say, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night." In Ezekiel's day, the mark by which God's children were known was their wet eyes; they were such as sighed and cried for the abominations that were being done. Ezra, the restorer of the captivity, had the dampest eyes of his generation; and he so wept in public that he once set "a very great congregation of men, women, and children," to weeping very sore, (Ezra x. 1) The entire ministry of John the Baptist aimed at this single point; and his dress, his habits, his discourse, were all pitched on the key which seemed to be best fitted for attaining it. He came to the people speaking in the tones of one who was mourning, that he might incite them to commence their responsive lamentation. When his ministry was terminated by violence, so important had it been, that his great Master took it up; and Jesus continued the Baptist's call, saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Alas, the Jews did not understand him; they made a fatal mistake, a mistake which turned on this very pivot. They had long been indulging in the most dry-eyed, self-righteousness, self-complacency; and they had expected the voice of Messiah to be a call to unbroken gladness. And so when Jesus came, and began to call the people to tears, the self-righteous said he had a devil, and was a madman, and they denied the possibility of his being their true Messiah. Alas, they had so misread the Old Testament prophecies as to have fancied that God's sent One, was to come for the purpose of calling righteous men to mirth, rather than sinful men to repentance, to flatter pride, instead of breaking proud hearts, and then comforting the heart broken.
Not only was the public ministry of Christ of this description, but he himself was the most extraordinary Wet-Eyes that ever has been a member of the weeping family. People said that he was Jeremiah back again. He was the Man of Sorrows, and discernible by his tears. Almost anything would make him weep. Sympathy would do it. Once he was honoured with a sort of triumph; and, in the midst of the boisterous joy, he covered his face with his hands and wept. No one has ever known, as he has, what strong crying and tears are; and now that he has gone into heaven, he manifests his power on earth chiefly by turning dry eyes into wet eyes, and then by hearing the weeping prayers of his wet-eyed petitioners. The ministry, which at present he carries on through his chosen servants, is well represented by the apostle Paul, who "ceased not to warn every one night and day, with tears."
Perhaps we have dwelt quite long enough on the family history of Mr. Wet-Eyes; we shall now confine our attention to the man himself.
The reputation of Mr. Wet-Eyes among his neighbours is very variable. The frivolous and the laughter-loving, dislike him exceedingly. They cannot, of course, enjoy his company, while they cannot make a butt of him; so they avoid his presence as instinctively as a merry wedding-band shrinks from mingling with a funeral cortege. His very look is a sermon; and men who hate to hear sermons, do not like to meet Wet-Eyes. The self-righteous like him, still less. But to the afflicted of all classes, he is a welcome and most effective comforter. He does not speak very much; but every word that he utters tells. Nay, he has got the rare gift of saying more by his silence than other men can do by the most voluble speech. He seems to know, by a sort of intuition, the very spot where the grief is pressing; and when he has to handle a sore, he touches it with fingers which are softer than eider down. He will ask after the details of the sorrowful story; and while it is being told him, he will outnumber with his sympathetic tears the tears of the principal mourner. He will gently try to develop the feeling of the pang into the profounder consciousness of sin, or into the heartier faith of the remedy; and if, in aiming at this, he has occasion to employ a trying word, he will soften his hardness by a shower of kindly tears. The light hearted may say of him that there is no bore in the country-side like Wet-Eyes; but the great family of the afflicted confess that there is certainly not another comforter like him.
But we shall completely misunderstand Mr. Wet-Eyes if we take him to be an unhappy man because of his tears. His heart is attuned to sorrow, and he seems to be never quite in his element, except when he is weeping. Of course, in a world like this, a heart so susceptible as his is never long without some call to tears. When he looks within himself, he sees only what makes him weep. When he looks around him, he finds everywhere, new provocatives of floods of tears. When he enters his closet and shuts the door, you may say that it is either to weep or to pray; for, with Mr. Wet-Eyes, the two words are pretty nearly synonymous. When he meets with the children of God in social worship, it is to sit, and melt, and weep among them; and the preacher he prefers is the one that can best unseal the fountain of his eyes. Mere flights of oratory are to him nothing better than the clatter of a brazen cymbal; but he delights in the hearty words of one who can make his eyes overflow. But it must not be supposed that it is the terrible half of God's Word which thus overcomes the good man. This, too, has its own effect; but it is the gracious half of it which most powerfully moves him. One of the alarming "take heeds" of the Bible will make him sigh; but the hearty repetition of some tender assurance like this, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love," will bring away his tears in a gushing stream. He weeps whenever he is led to think of the lost; he equally weeps when he thinks of the saved; but he weeps most plentifully when he attempts to breathe his humble thanks for the good hope, through grace, that his own great sins have been all so mercifully forgiven.
Some of his religious neighbours judge Mr. Wet-Eyes very harshly, for they have no sympathy with his sorrows. They look on him as a gloomy legalist; and they speak of him as one who knows scarcely anything of the light, and liberty, and joy of the genuine gospel. They occasionally tell him that he should try to take a leap out of the seventh chapter of Romans into the middle of the eighth, and begin to sing his triumph-song of faith. Wet-Eyes scarcely understands them; but, as he never defends himself from any charge, he accepts their ungracious censure with a tear of meek confession. The truth, however, is, that the good man lives exclusively in the eighth of Romans; and it is because he does so, that his eyes are seldom dry. The Spirit which God has given him is one that makes him groan within himself; nay, this Spirit himself groaneth in him, and these divinely prompted groanings are oftentimes unutterable. Sometimes, indeed, he is modestly elevated on the lofty height of the last two verses of the chapter; but on these happy occasions an unordinary flood of tears is sure to be just at hand. Not only does his very gladness make his eyes moist; but while he is sitting in Christ's banqueting house, always sick with the sweet pangs of love, he has only to remember the condition of dear ones who are still under the curse, and in exact proportion to his own joy in the Saviour, is the intensity of his holy anguish in their behalf. With Paul, he has scarcely uttered the words of his rapturous triumph-song in Rom. viii. 29, till, like the apostle, he is sobbing forth his grief in the startling words which follow, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
It is certainly not his sins that Wet-Eyes gives himself up to contemplate; though his censors take for granted that he does so. It is his Saviour with whom he is chiefly occupied; but in making his rich discoveries of the infinite grace of this Saviour, he finds nothing so helpful to him as the right use of his own past and forgiven sins. Of course, then he retains his remembrance of these sins, and like David and Paul, he is in no haste to forget that he has been purged from them. With an aged saint of the last generation, he feels, "There is at all times a thorn in my heart keeping me in continual remembrance of my vile ungrateful backslidings; so that I eat my sweetest morsels with bitter herbs." These bitter herbs, however, make a delightful seasoning to the roasted flesh of the paschal lamb; and both together make up the sweetest foretaste of heaven which is permitted to a redeemed soul, till he sit down with Abraham, with Isaac, and Jacob, at the actual table. Of course the cultivation of a taste like this, puts Wet-Eyes out of sympathy with those whose religious joy is disturbed by the remembrance of present failure or of past sin.
But Mr. Wet-Eyes does not need to go back to old sins in search of matter to provoke his present most lowly self-abasement. His present short-comings are quite enough to humble him; nay, his present unholy holiness sets him afresh to weeping. Like Professor Tyndal, who told us lately that he discovers dust everywhere, so Wet-Eyes can truly say that he sees in himself sin, sin, nothing but sin, in heart or in life. Others occasionally mistake their crimes for graces, (John xvi. 3) and glory in their actual shame. Or, perhaps, if better instructed, they try to distinguish between what is precious in themselves and what is vile; confessing the one, but secretly priding themselves upon the other. But Wet-Eyes has nothing precious in himself; he is altogether vile. Grounds for glorying he has none, save only in his gracious Lord. He says with M'Cheyne, "None but God knows what an abyss of corruption is in my heart." He therefore weeps for the sins of his holiest things; weeps even for his very lack of tears; and weeps also that the few tears he sheds are so polluted and unclean. In his inmost heart, he feels that for sins like his, no tears whatever would be an adequate expression of becoming grief.
One would almost fancy that there is something peculiar in the structure of his eyes, that a man so slow to discern the short-comings of others is so sharp to detect the smallest of his own. Can it be that the tears wash the eyes, and keep them always in the most perfect state of vision? Or is it that the tear-drop, like a lens, magnifies microscopically the very smallest sin, till the dust-flake looks like a mountain? Or is it,—and we prefer this explanation,— that the same influence which has imparted the capacity for such sorrow, has also imparted the most delicate sensitiveness to discover and to loathe the sin? Long ago, when Mr. Wet-Eyes used to be as dry-eyed as his neighbour, he was in the habit of confessing sin only in the general. He confessed it, too, not because he found the loathed fact of it in his heart, but because he found the orthodox theory of it in his creed; so he acknowledged it most humbly in the lump, but practically he denied his confession in the details of life. He was a sinner, a chief sinner, in the sum-total; but on each one of the items which went towards the making up of this humbling sum-total, he was ready to justify his immaculate integrity. He was a sinner only by his creed; in the genuine faith of his heart he was a most self-righteous man. But all this experience has been amazingly reversed. He now sees more guilt in his very best duties, than he then saw in his grossest offences. He can now understand and appropriate the trying words of Henry Martyn, "When the Spirit is pleased to show his creature but a few scattered specimens of his ungodly days---yea, of his godly ones—how universally and desperately wicked does he appear. Oh, that I knew to be duly abased! What shall I think of myself in comparison of others? How ought I to kiss the very dust beneath their feet, from a consciousness of my inferiority; and, in my thoughts of God and of his dealings with me, how ought I to be wrapped up in constant amazement!"
The special evil in sin which makes Wet-Eyes weep, is not that it operates to his own loss, but to God's dishonour. It is this sorrowful consideration that breaks his very heart. And yet when this God, whom he has so dishonoured, meets him with nothing but love, tender love, forgiving love, the soft word of mercy sets his penitent heart to the weeping in a way which the most terrible threatening had long ago failed to do. His sympathy with God appears to be pretty nearly perfect, except, indeed, on a single point;—the more freely that God forgives him, the less readily can he bring his mind to forgive himself. Indeed, he never forgives himself. It is this tender concern for the divine glory, which also makes Wet-Eyes weep, when he has occasion to speak of the sad doings of others. (Phil. iii. 13.)
But what is the need for all this weeping, what good can it do? Good?---why, it never occurred to Wet-Eyes to ask such a question. Enough for him that it is the most natural thing in all the world for a sinful heart to be a broken heart; and for a broken heart to be accompanied with weeping eyes. But still the thought has never occurred to himself; the tears of Wet-Eyes are very precious. The Lord in heaven values them beyond all costly diamonds and pearls. So precious are they in his sight, that he gathers them everyone, and preserves them in his bottle; nay, he even enters them, with day and date, upon a register, which is kept for the purpose. (Ps. lvi. 8) We may be sure that all this trouble is not taken for nothing; and though Mr. Wet-Eyes little expects it, he shall get a surprise of joy about these tears someday.
And these tears of Wet-Eyes have already,—strange to say— gladdened the hosts of heaven. The only earthly thing which is important enough to awaken angelic joy is, when a man's dry eyes begin to grow wet, (Luke xv. 7. 11) The angels who know nothing, and who care nothing, about the gain or the loss of earthly fortunes, the ebb or the flow of a nation's greatness, are kept duly informed about the tears of weeping penitents; and they hold a sort of jubilation when they first begin to flow.
But even in respect to this earth, these tears of Wet-Eyes have not been without their value. Not to speak of the infinite solace which their hearty sympathy has afforded to many a mourner, how many of the most thoughtless men have been arrested by them, and have been started on a similar course of penitential weeping. The moistness of the eyes which drips such blessed tears is very infectious; and when a man begins to weep after this fashion, there is no saying to what extent this happy ailment may spread.
Still it must be confessed that the tears of Wet-Eyes have been chiefly useful to himself. So conscious is he of their priceless value, and so sweet has his experience of them been, that he would almost like to be permitted, if it were possible, to carry his weeping with him into heaven. Like the martyred Hugh Mackail, in reference to his Bible, our weeping friend grudges the thought of leaving his delightful tears behind him. The blessings of many kinds which they have helped to work out for him have been actually incalculable. For one thing, it is plain that when a man's grief for sin is deep and genuine, he can scarcely be tempted to repeat the sin while he is still in the act of weeping for it. In this way the constant tears of Mr. Wet-Eyes have been his constant preservative in temptation. For another thing, we know that if a man's eye be single, his whole body shall be full of light; while the evil or double eye is accompanied by the bewilderment of universal darkness. The path of Mr. Wet-Eyes is always as bright and as easily discoverable as sunbeams can make it; and for this unspeakable boon he is indebted to his penitential weeping. Nothing keeps the eye single like constant tears of godly sorrow.
These tears have also made the Bible an entirely new book to Wet-Eyes. Before he began to weep, the words of God seemed very commonplace to him. For actual interest they were not to be compared with the words of his favourite newspaper, or of the last popular book. But now, since he has begun to read the Bible through his tears, the entire book has undergone an unaccountable change. The very smallest of its promises, formerly over-looked have now grown to be prodigiously big—the least bulky of all its statements now looks larger than the material heavens and earth; and he stands amazed at his folly in allowing the trifles of time to crowd out of view the glories of eternity. Ah, there is no pair of spectacles which can so magnify the printed type, to a decaying vision, as one of the tears of Wet-Eyes can magnify, to the heart, the grace of a Bible promise.
Besides this, the tears of Wet-Eyes have another strange effect, in an opposite direction; while they magnify the eternal, they equally diminish the temporal. The world, when it is looked at through the weeping eyes of a true penitent, is seen to be very small and very distant; and as for what is called its attractive pleasures, they disappear entirely. A peep at "present things" through such tears is like looking at the objects beside you through the wrong end of a telescope,—the nearest thing is set by it at such a distance, and the vast is diminished to such a size. Nay, more, besides diminishing the world's glory, and removing it to such a distance from one that it ceases to be a temptation; the penitential tear is like a dark-grcen glass—it tones down the world's bright and fascinating glare, and covers it with a sombre unattractive hue.
But the grand benefit which Wet-Eyes has procured from his tears remains to be told. Through them, he has been enabled to behold the glories of his Saviour in a way which no one but a Wet-Eyes shall be able to understand. What discoveries a man shall make of the glories of Christ depends altogether on the condition of the eye with which he begins to make the momentous search. To many, to most, the Lord of glory still appears to be only a root out of a dry ground, with no form and no comeliness, in whom there is no beauty of any kind wherefore a man should desire him. In fact, a dry-eyed man who sees nothing so really lovely as himself, sees also nothing so really vile as Christ. He to whom self looks lovely can see no beauty in Jesus; he to whom Jesus is the altogether lovely can see no beauty in self. Since Wet-Eyes began to lose all conceit of his own spiritual beauty, and to look on his Saviour through his self-abased tears, he has discovered in that Saviour, what he cannot describe to others,—whether in the body or out of it, he sometimes can scarcely tell.
It is a pity that men, like Mr. Wet-Eyes are not more common. Of course, in a world like this, there are always plenty of weepers, but everyone who weeps is not therefore a genuine Wet-Eyes. Pride will make a man weep, and so too will envy. Ambition once set a conqueror to weeping, that there were no more worlds within his grasp. Sorrow, uncomforted, selfish sorrow, is draining from weeping eyes whole rivers of waters every day; but how few the tears which are being shed from holy grief for sin! And yet the present dispensation was designed to be a wet-eyed one. In her present condition, the true Church is to be characterized beyond all else by her tears. Just before he left us, our Master said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I shall see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." What means then the dryness of so many eyes, the marks of carnal satisfaction resting on so many faces? Surely we cannot be willing to have the words of the prophet fulfilled again in us—"And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine; let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts." (Isa. xxii. 12-14)
There have all along, been two religions in the world—God's and man's. Of the latter, there is an endless variety; for man is able, not only to make up a religion to fit himself, but he can take God's revelation and so alter it as to transform it into a purely human thing. But, amid the thousand points of resemblance or of diversity, the grand distinctive marks of the two great classes of religionists lie in the wetness or the dryness of the eyes. Cain worshipped with as much of outward devoutness as Abel; but Abel's eyes were wet, while his brother had no spiritual sense of sin. David went, perhaps, as far astray as Saul; but David's wet eyes saw that in God which kept him from wandering finally from him, while Saul in dry eyed self-will went forward to his ruin. Peter sinned as well as Judas; but the tears of Peter were his safety, while Judas, in his dry-eyed remorse, went and hanged himself. The two men who went up to the temple to pray were typical of the two great classes of worshippers in all ages. The one was a genuine Wet-Eyes who could only beat upon his breast and groan his prayer, "God be merciful to me the sinner;" while the other lifted up his unblushing dry-eyed face to heaven to say, "God, I thank thee that among so many bad men I at least am good." And unless a man's study of the Bible, and careful waiting on God in ordinances have helped him to discover a something within himself which makes his eyes moist, it is to be feared that he has been getting no good from them to his own soul. Nay, though a man may have everything else belonging to the Christian but only the wet eyes, the want of these is a serious, if not, a fatal want. Among true Christians, there is to be found an almost endless diversity of personal experience; nevertheless, on two or three leading points, this diversified experience is characterized by the most extraordinary unanimity. And one of these points of perfect agreement among all true Christians is the estimate which each one forms of himself as a most guilty and self-condemning chief sinner. Every man of them is, in spirit at least, a genuine Wet-Eyes. Even Christ does not, cannot, heal a heart which never has been broken. We hear occasionally of diseases and of their crisis; but when a sick man is in the hands of the Great Physician, to be treated for the dreadful disease of sin, the first symptoms of a coming crisis are to be discovered in the man's eyes. When these begin to be suffused with holy grief for the dishonoured law of God, this is a proof that the medicine is telling on the system, and a promise of a final restoration. And then, after the crisis, these same tears are of unspeakable service to the believing man, whose recovery is slowly but steadily progressing. There is no better vehicle for the administration of spiritual medicines of all descriptions than such penitential tears. In fact, he should mingle all his drink with such weeping.
It is to be feared that we Anglo-Saxons belong to a hard-headed, dry-eyed race; and it is still more to be feared that we, of this nineteenth century, have had our lot cast for us in a peculiarly dry-eyed age. Men do not readily weep now-a-days for anything, and, least of all, for sin. The fresh young world, in its earlier days, like the unsophisticated heart of childhood, could weep more readily than we can; for we, like stern, hard, active men of the earth, have got but a scant supply of tears. To a race and an age like ours the scene at Bochim and Judges ii, would be impossible. And no British regiment, under any circumstances whatever, could be expected to act, as we are told of David and his men of war in 1 Sam. xxx. 4. So far as the mere outward sign goes, it may matter very little whether we are able to drop many tears or not; the grand requirement is to have the inward tenderness of soul. Let us persist in seeking this from God; and let us cultivate by every means in our power that holy jealousy for the honor of his name, which mourns for his dishonour with a grief that is as inconsolable as it is disinterested. Blessed are such mourners, they shall by-and-by be comforted. Happy are the eyes which are blinded by such gracious tears; God's own hand shall wipe them off, and they shall see his face. But if a man know nothing of these tears on earth, it is to be feared that he shall have his weeping time throughout eternity. Woe unto you that have it for your portion to laugh now, for ye shall have nothing else but weeping hereafter!
So far from cultivating this communion of holy sorrow with him who was the Man of Sorrows, many glory in a gospel so mutilated and so one-sided that it makes wet eyes altogether impossible. Their eyes are as dry, nay, if possible, are more dry than those of the self-righteous moralist. Alas, it is because there are so many who read the Bible with tearless self-confidence, that there are such crowds of self-deceived men and women. A genuine saint always departs out of the world a model Wet-Eyes; let all who name the name of Christ seek to spend the hours of life after the same fervent pattern of wet-eyed faith and fear. "If any man," said Boardman, the missionary, when dying, "if any man has cause to renounce his own righteousness, his prayers, his tears, his self-denial, his labours for Christ and the gospel, and in fact all that he is, or has done, or will do, or can do, and to trust entirely and solely, and without condition to grace, sovereign grace, flowing through an atoning Saviour—I am that man. Grace, sovereign grace is my only confidence!" And when John Vine Hall, another Wet-Eyes, was dying, someone told him that many who were converted by his book, "The Sinner's Friend," would welcome him to heaven. "Oh," said he, "if I can but crawl on my hands and knees, I shall be very well satisfied. Lord have mercy upon me a sinner! This is my prayer every day—many times a day. I so grieve that I have so little grief for my sins."
Weep on, ye beloved souls, God himself stirs up your sorrows; and your tears, with the prayers and labours to which they give birth, shall not be in vain in the Lord. No man can do better service for afflicted Mansoul, at the Court of Prince Immanuel, than Mr. Wet-Eyes; and scarcely any man can do better service for Prince Immanuel, among his unhappy fellow-citizens of Mansoul, than the same Wet-Eyes. So, while fools are making a mock at sin, and the Abners of the world are speaking of the most dreadful circumstances around us as play, (2 Sam. ii. 14) continue you to think of the bitterness that shall surely come in the latter end, and to weep. Yes, weep—it is your service, it is your badge, it is your glory; and your present night of weeping is prophetic of a fast-approaching morning of joy. The true Wet-Eyes is no idler: and neither he himself nor any of his fellow-citizens must look upon him as one. In the battle with Amalek, we cannot dispense with him; for though Victory may seem to take her orders from the spear-point of Joshua, yet, after all, her movements depend less on him and on his belted comrades, than on the tears of the unnoticed group of Wet-Eyes, who are weeping around Moses on the mountain top. These men, who can speak well to a petition when they lie weeping on their faces, rather than the men who can speak with the enemies in the gate, are the true shields of the earth and the defenders of the faith. May the Lord make every reader a genuine Wet-Eyes!