We’ll Get it if We be Earnest Enough.
by John Dickie
"OH, yes," said the old woman, "we're sure to get it if we be earnest enough." We had been speaking of forgiveness of sin, and a place in the family of God; and these she thought were to be got only by her earnest praying.
"And have you got it yet?" I asked.
She shook her head mournfully and replied, "No, I'm fear't I hae na got.it jist yet."
"What! have you not been asking it?"
"Surely, surely, but I dont I hae'na been sae earnest as I wad need to be."
"And when do you think you will be as earnest as you need to be?"
The old woman looked very miserable, as after a pause she answered, "Ah, weel! I dinna ken; but I'm sure we'll get it if we be earnest enough."
"Are you needing any money?" I inquired.
Looking both pleased to have done with the worry of such troublesome questioning, and surprised at the sudden change of subject, the old woman faintly smiled and said, "Oh, ay, I'm ne'er abune the need o' that."
"Would twenty pounds do you any good?"
"Hoots! the half o't wad mak' me a leddy."
"Well, you had better go down to the bank and ask twenty pounds from the banker."
"Oh, ye're jokin' me noo," said the old woman with a puzzled air; "the banker wad think I was gane wrang o' the mind if I did the like o' that."
"But ask earnestly; be earnest enough and tell him that he must give it, for you cannot do without it."
"What wad he care for my earnestness? He wad send for the police."
"And why would he not care for your earnestness? why would he not give you the money?"
"Na! what wad he gie me the money for, when I ha'e nane in his bank?"
"Oh, then, he gives money only to those that have it in his hands?"
"I’m sure ye ken that brawly," said the old woman, quite knowingly.
"Yes, I know it. The banker is there to do what is right, and he will give money to no one except to those who have a right to receive it. Is not this the case?"
"Yes," she said, "l believe it is."
"Then you cannot get any money from the banker for your own sake. Now, suppose that you try another way. Suppose that you know a kind and wealthy gentleman who has plenty of money in this bank, and who besides is interested in you. Well, suppose you go to him, and tell him your need, and after he has heard you out, he smiles and says, 'Now you have done me the greatest favour you could have done me, for I feel it such a pleasure to help you." And so saying, he fills up an order out of his bank-book, instructing the banker to pay you twenty pounds on demand, and to charge the sum to his account. Now, what would you do with that little bit of paper that he gives you?"
"I wad tak' it to the bank, and get the siller wi't," she said.
"But would you not need to ask the money very earnestly?"
"Na., na, the bit o' paper wad be plenty o' itsel', I'm thinkin."
"Yes, certainly, everything depends on that bit of paper, and the name that is written on it. If you take the paper with you, you will at once get the money for the sake of him whose name is written at the bottom of it; but if you go without the paper, all your earnest asking will be quite useless, and why? because it would not be right for the banker to give it to you. The banker, you see, will give you nothing for your own sake, but he will give you any amount your friend pleases, for your friend's sake.
"And now I wish you to attend very carefully to the application of this little parable to the subject we were speaking about. Do you know that you have nothing at all in God's bank, and that it is quite out of the question for you to expect such great blessings as forgiveness of sins, and such like, when you ask them in your own name, however earnestly you may ask? Ah, my friend, your name has as little weight in God's bank as it has in man's. Now, it is a blessed fact that God is willing to give to the sinner, nay—that He delights in giving; but then He will give us only in a way that is just and righteous. In order that there might be such a way for God to forgive our sins, and to bless ourselves, He sent His beloved Son to bear our sins Himself, and thus to become the Author of eternal salvation to all who believe in His name. And now, since the Lord Jesus has done all this, God is quite ready to pardon and to bless any sinner at once; but it must be clearly understood that what He gives us He gives us only for Jesus' sake, and not for our own. Now, you have been all along completely setting aside the name of the Lord Jesus; and when you did go to ask anything from God, you have been expecting to get it, not for Christ's sake, but for the sake of your own earnest praying. You have been going to God's bank, you see, without the little bit of paper that was needed to get you what you wanted. Is not this true?"
"I'm fear'd it's ower true," said the old woman, as the light of a new and seasonable truth lightened up her countenance.
"Will you please to read Ps. xxv. 11."
She got the verse and read, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great."
"You see from this, that though David's sin was great, just like yours or mine, he both asked and expected God's forgiveness; but notice that he expected to be forgiven, not for his own sake, or for his earnest asking, but 'for thy name's sake pardon mine iniquity.' You see that he was not like you, for he took care to have the little bit of paper with him when he went to the bank. And it is quite the same all through the Old and New Testaments.
“Please read a verse in the New—Acts iv. 12."
She read, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.''
"Now, you see from this," said I, "that we are saved on account of a name; and that there is no name whatever that is of any use to us, save only the one name of the Lord Jesus. Now, don't you see that you have been using your own name instead of Christ's, and you have expected to get what you asked if you only asked it earnestly enough? Ah, you must do as Jesus bids you; you must use His name and then you will get it for His dear sake, for the Word of God says that 'whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' You close your prayers with the words 'for Christ's sake,' don't you?"
'Oh, yes," she said, "l never miss that, but I see noo that I never hae been thinkin' on what it means."
"No, you have used it as a mere form, whereas in truth, it is by far the most important part of any prayer. Do you think that you understand what I have been saying to you?”
"l understun't brewly, I never saw it sae plain before.”
"Well, be sure then to make immediate use of your knowledge. Oh, how solemn it is to be so near to death as you are and yet not pardoned. On no account allow yourself to put off another day. Jesus is ready; God is ready. All are invited to come and receive. God is freely pardoning, not those who ask earnestly enough, not those who think they have fewest sins; but He is pardoning all who come to Him trusting only in the blood of Jesus and asking only in the name of Jesus. Believe all that He is telling you about your ruin and your danger; believe, too, all that He tells you about the preciousness of the name of Jesus. And then, with that name on your lips, and trusting to God's promised mercy to every one who pleads that name, go in to ask what God delights to give, and be assured that every one that so asketh receiveth. Never say again, 'We're sure to get it if we be earnest enough,' but rather think on what Jesus says, 'If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.’ "
“The British Messenger” July 1865