Margery D—— (26 “Gospel Messenger” Series) (16pp)
SHE was spoken of as "a good woman." Her neighbours called her ''very religeous." Among her fellow work-women, she was looked up to and respected. It is true, the giddy and trifling shunned her as "not their sort," but still they respected her, while the steady quiet women felt honoured by her regard, and by her company.
I cannot say any of them loved her. Had you asked them why, you would have heard various answers. "She is too religious," or “she is proud,” or "she does not think we are good enough for her,'' the young and careless would have told you in a moment, with many more such reasons.
The thoughtful women would have been puzzled to give you a satisfactory reply, for they appreciated her worth. "I think a mighty deal of Margery, but I could not just say I love her," was about as near to the truth as you could arrive at.
The fact was, Margery was self-righteous. Trusted by her employers, and looked up to by her companions, she felt perfectly satisfied with herself.
She had her own thoughts as to the actions of everyone else; and her own standard, by which she judged these actions, and pretty severely did she condemn all who did not come up to her standard. Thus, she did not win love. She put herself outside others as a judge, and everyone else felt almost like a prisoner at the bar, who, however much he may fear and respect his judge, can scarcely be said to love him, not even though he should dismiss him with words of strong approval instead of blame.
Margery read her Bible three times a day always, and she said her prayers, and she lived an outwardly correct and upright life; and she thought in her heart that she thus stood as high in God's favour as she did in the favour of her employers.
She spoke of "going to Heaven" as though it were as much her right to go there, as to go to her own little room at night, the only home she knew on earth.
But Margery's title to Heaven was not the blood of Jesus, but her own model life; the example of honesty, industry, and sobriety she had set to others, her careful church-going, her Bible reading, and the saying of her prayers. I speak of this latter as "saying of her prayers,” for of her, it was not then recorded in Heaven, "Behold she prayeth," and between the two, there is a great difference.
Do not think for a moment, dear reader, I wish to make light of Bible reading, or an upright life, or outward respect to God. Far from it. These are good and right as far as they go, but they will not redeem a soul from death, nor give to God a ransom for it; one ransom only will God accept, and that is the one He Himself has provided, the blood of Jesus Christ, His own beloved Son.
To think of meriting Heaven by any good deeds of my own is to deny the total ruin of man, to deny that "In me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing," and therefore to deny the necessity for the atonement. If my living a so-called "good-life” can save me, the Lord Jesus Christ need never have died to save me.
But the thought of being utterly lost and ruined and helpless in herself, and of being saved entirely by the work of another, and that other, God's own blessed Son, never entered Margery's mind.
Had you asked her the old evangelist's great question, "Would God do a righteous thing if he cast you into hell?” She would have answered emphatically "No."
Thus, you see, she had never seen herself in the light of God's presence and discovered there the difference between the holy and the unclean. A soul that comes to God, finds out two things, first, that he is totally unfit for God, and then that God has Himself provided a way, by which he may approach unto Him.
God cannot let man into His presence in his sins, nor in his own robes, the robes of self- righteousness and works, for in the light and dazzling glory of that presence, these are shown up as ''filthy rags.'' But God provides a robe suitable for the place, and man has only to let his own filthy garment fall off and take the one of God's providing in its place, "the best robe," even Christ.
But Margery was wrapped tightly round with her own garments. In the dark (as to God's thoughts) they looked spotless, but the moment came when the Lord brought her into the light, and she saw herself as she was, ''unclean." She was accustomed to speak of death placidly as ''God's angel to carry her to the realms above," and piously she would fold her hands on hearing of the death of a neighbour or acquaintance, and ''trust they were prepared for the great change;'' implying that of her own preparation, there could not be a doubt.
But then Margery had never faced death. Thirty years she had lived, strong in nerve and robust in body generally; death to her looked like an angel who might be sent to any one else, but from whom she herself, by no means, expected a visit, and if the truth be told, she as little desired as expected it.
In one moment, the Lord put her face to face with death and eternity, and then she found she had nothing on which to rest her soul’s salvation. She saw herself then as she was, a sinner in her sins.
A sudden and unlooked-for accident among some machinery racked her poor body with pain, and her soul with terror.
The surgeons considered it necessary at once to amputate both leg and arm, as the only chance of life, and they did not hesitate to tell her this chance was small, and the issue more than doubtful.
No words could tell her agony. The mental torture far exceeded even the sufferings of the body, great though these were.
Her friends whispered, ''Thank God, Margery, you are prepared for the worst. Thank God you are not afraid to die, whatever comes, you are quite resigned, you have led a good life, and have long been ready to go."
Poor Margery! She only felt "I am a hypocrite as well as a sinner. I have missed everything, for I have missed the one thing."
Then I suppose, her first real prayer went up, "Lord give me time to find Thee. Lord be merciful to me a sinner. I thought myself all right, but I have missed the one thing needful. Lord be merciful to me a hypocrite as well as a sinner.''
This was while lying on the table where the surgeon's knife was to do its work.
A Christian doctor standing by, whispered in her ear, just before the chloroform was administered,
''Do you know Jesus?"
"No, I do not," said poor Margery in reply, ''but I want Him. Do you think He will give me time enough to find Him, even yet before I die? I have been a hypocrite, I missed the way of salvation. Will He give me time?"
"Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out," was the whispered answer; and then the chloroform was given.
This was Margery's real conversion, though she had no peace yet, for now she judged herself, she took sides with God against herself, condemned herself, and turned round to Christ.
Days passed on, and Margery still lived, crippled in body; humble, penitent, and still distressed in soul. Thus, I found her.
I went to the hospital ward in which she now lay, by mistake. I had been sent to that ward to find some one else and addressed Margery under the wrong notion that she was the woman I sought.
On discovering my error, something in her weary, anxious look made me sit down by her side, and in a few moments, I discovered her distress of soul and its cause.
There was no need in this case to seek to rouse her to a sense of sin, she was already crushed under its weight. "I am a hypocrite," she said, "and oh, Ma'am, the Bible says, 'the hypocrite's hope shall perish.' "
''Granted, Margery, that you were a hypocrite, but you have given up trying to make yourself appear fair now, either in God's eyes or man's, and you want the blood of Christ to be your shelter, do you not?"
"I do, I do, indeed."
"Do you believe His blood has power to cleanse all sin?"
"Even the sin of hypocrisy?"
A long pause; then, with streaming eyes and anxious look, "God says, 'all sin!' and that must take in hypocrisy—all sin—oh, does it really take in mine, my long years of living a lie?''
''Margery, do you believe that God knows everything?''
''And sees everything beforehand?”
''Yes, I am sure He does.''
''Then when God wrote that 'the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin,' do you think He forgot yours? or did not know of yours when He said 'all sin'?''
"He must have known. Oh, He must have meant mine too. Jesus-Saviour. ''
I left her then, for I saw she had another to talk to, for He had spoken to her, and she had heard His voice, and of human voices, she seemed unable to bear more at that time.
As I left, she murmured, "Will you come back? God sent you to-day."
Her old friends could not understand it, she told them simply that her religion had all been mere empty form, that though they had thought her the best, she had really been the worst; for she had been a hypocrite, and religion like hers would not do to meet death with. She told them of her agony of soul on that operation table; of her terror and dismay, and fear of death and judgment; of the long, dark days of distress that followed, as she thought her sin too great for forgiveness, and then how the Lord had spoken peace through His own little word "all."
The women listened amazed. "If Margery was not fit to die," they said, "what is to become of us?" The Spirit of God made this question rankle in some of their bosoms. "What is to become of us?" They followed Margery's example and ceased their questionings at the feet of Jesus.
Margery lived a year after this, and then one dark winter's morning the Lord whispered to His tired, suffering child, "Come home," and she smiled back an answer of deep satisfaction, "Take me, my Saviour.” There was no terror now, no distress, no darkness, no desire to stay another hour, no need of preparation. She left herself in His arms, and He gently put her to sleep.
But though she only lived one short year after she knew the Lord, many blessed God for that one year of Margery's life. I could tell you of several happy Christians, who in their turn, are circles of blessing, and others, who if you asked them how they were saved, would tell you of some simple word of Margery's as that which had first roused them to anxiety about their souls, or had directed them to Him whom she so loved to call, "My Saviour."
Reader, is He your Saviour yet? If not, take care lest, though you may say, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his,” your end will be like Balaam's of old, slain among God's enemies, in the day when He shall make His foes His footstool, for "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” X.
“God’s Glad Tidings” 1880