“It’s All Right; I’ve Signed To It.
“Would yer honour be so kind as to give me a lift on my road?" said a jaded-looking individual to the writer some time ago.
It was a fortnight before Christmas, and in the teeth of a biting east wind, I was driving over one of the ridges of the Blackdown Hills, going to a town some miles from my home. I was at the time so occupied with my own thoughts that I had not noticed I was passing a traveller, until the above words caused me to look around, and draw up the horse.
"Would yer honour be so kind as to give me a lift on my road? I've walked nigh on to twenty miles to-day and have nearly eight more before I get home again."
Seeing at a glance that the poor fellow was honest and possessed an open and straightforward appearance, and feeling the comfort of riding myself, I replied, "By all means, my good fellow; jump up in the trap."
As he did so, I inwardly prayed it might be the means of his blessing, and sought guidance from God as to how I should introduce the subject to him.
Said I, "You appear very tired. Where do you come from and what brings you over the Hills in this weather?" for I knew he was not one of the immediate neighbourhood; besides, he himself had said he had eight miles to walk before he got home.
"I live near M—— sir, if you know where that is. But I'm going to change houses pretty quick; leastways I want to, and the landlord of the house I want to take, lives in H——, or some way out of it. So I'm come up to-day to see him about it, and get it settled, sir. You see, 'twill soon be quarter-day, and I must get it decided before then; so l thought I'd better come and see about it myself and get it settled," he said.
"So you believe in making sure as you can about your new house?" I replied.
"Well sir," he went on to say, "you see, I had spoken to the landlord about it, but there was nothing settled, as the papers weren't signed; so I wasn't quite satisfied, and felt very uneasy like; and my missus, she says to me, 'John,' says she, 'you had better go up at once and see about it and get the 'greement-paper signed, or perhaps he'll run word,' says she. So that's why I comed up to-day, sir. But 'tis all right, sir, now; 'tis signed to," said the poor fellow, with much evident satisfaction, and a feeling of relief.
"So I suppose," I asked, "there's not much fear of his running word now, and you are quite satisfied about it?"
"Oh yes, sir!" said he. "I haint afeared of that now, because 'tis signed to, and he can't alter it. I can KEEP him to it." This last was said with a very decided emphasis.
"So you will be changing houses soon? said I.
"Well," he replied, "not just directly, sir, not till Lady-day; but we shall then, I suppose."
"Don't you think between this and then, either he or you may alter your mind?"
"Well, sir, I don't reckon I shall; for the place where I do live now is scarcely fit to live in. I want to get out as soon as I can, and should be glad to at Christmas, only the present tenant don't go out till Lady-day. And as for the landlord, I've got him too tight; 'tis signed to."
"What about that other house you're going to leave before long?" I asked. "Have you got another to live in when you leave that one?"
He looked at me very confusedly, as though he had either misunderstood me, or I had misunderstood him, and said:
"What other house, sir? I don't rent only one; leastways, I only live in one, and I don't count I should rent a house I didn't occupy."
"Oh, yes you do!" I replied. "You occupy two; one near M——, which you hope to reach by-and-by; the other here by my side. The one made of bricks and mortar; the other of flesh and blood—your body. What about this last? Do you know you have had notice to quit, and should be preparing to change? Where are you going when you leave 'the earthly house of this tabernacle'? Have you a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'?"
"Oh, sir," said the man, "I am sorry to say I have not! That's just what I've been waiting for eighteen years; but what I'm afeerd I can't get."
"Oh, yes you can," I replied. "if you really want it! But what makes you say you are afraid you can't get it?"
"Well. sir," said he, "I'm a bad feller, there's no mistake about it; and nobody has ever spoken to me so kind as you have about it, sir, for eighteen years. Then my mother died, and on her deathbed, she begged me to follow her, and I said I would, but I never kept to it, and I'm afeerd 'tis no use now. But sir, believe me, I've never felt so strange a feeling as I've had since l've been in your trap. no, not for all those years. But directly I put my foot on the step of the trap, I felt, that man's a Christian like my mother! Oh, sir, do you think 'tis too late for me?"
"I am quite sure it is not too late," said I; "and another thing, I am perfectly sure it is just the right time; for God's Word declares, 'Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.' 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.' "
"I wish I could be sure of it," said the poor fellow in deep earnestness, the tears proving his sincerity.
Said I, "How do you know it is settled with you and the landlord about your house? how are you sure it is all right?"
"Why because the 'greement is signed, sir," he said.
"Who signed it" I asked.
"Both of us, sir; leastways I put my mark, I can't write very well," said he.
"The landlord agreed to let the house under certain conditions, and signed to it. Was that it"
"Do you enter on the property merely on his signing the agreement?" I asked.
"Oh no, sir; I had to sign to it too!"
"Just so," I replied. "God has provided eternal life, eternal happiness, and an eternal inheritance at a great cost for certain persons. The price He paid for these was His only begotten Son's precious blood. Jesus, when He died on the Cross, removed all difficulty for the sinner by bearing away the sins of the world. God has promised eternal life and eternal glory to every one who will accept it in His way, and He has ‘signed to it’ by rising up Jesus our Lord from the dead, and gives us farther proof by sending the Holy Spirit to convince us of the truth. Now this is God's part. But just as the landlord's signing your agreement did not put you in possession without your mark—you had to sign it also—in the same way you must sign to God's covenant by receiving and believing what God says of Jesus Christ, His blessed Son. that He died, 'the just for the unjust', that He might bring us to God;' and God's Word declares that this is signing to God's agreement; for 'he that hath received His testimony, hath set to his seal, that God is true' (John iii. 33); in other words, He that accepts Jesus as his Saviour gets into possession."
"Is it like that?" said the astonished man. "Then by the help of God, I'll sign to it now;" and with streaming eyes, he said aloud, with upturned face, as we drove along the road, "O God, I do accept Thy blessed Son as my Saviour; I will sign to the 'greement. Thou hast promised to give everlasting life to those who believe. I do believe; praise God;" and turning to me, he said, "Oh, sir, I was never so happy in my life! I shall have good news to tell my wife when I get home." But here he seemed to be in trouble, and said, "I can't read very well, sir; I wish I could remember what you have said."
I got him to repeat several verses of Scripture over and over again, and by the time I reined up in the town of W——, he had learnt several. He, on leaving me to proceed on his journey, grasped my hand in both of his, and said, "Good-bye, sir; I shall to all eternity have to bless God for riding in your trap to-day. My first step on to your trap was my first step to Heaven. We may never meet again on earth, but we shall meet in Heaven; 'tis all right, sir, 'tis signed to," and he passed on, a new man, happy in the Lord.
I had scarcely got on to the pavement to enter a shop when he came running back, saying, "My name is ——, sir. If you should ever be in our neighbourhood, and wouldn't think it beneath you, I should be terrible glad to see you, sir. I'm not afraid to quit this house, sir," said he, striking his breast. "When the Lord's time comes, I'm ready; I feel sure of it. There's a better house waiting 'tis sartin, sir; isn't it, 'cause 'tis signed to."
I have never seen him since and may never on earth; but I have confidence I shall meet him in Heaven, all because he, by faith signed to the agreement of divine love and grace.
Has the one who has been reading these lines? If not, put your name to it to-day. God says, in Rom. vi. 23, His "gift" is eternal life. He promises to bestow it on every one who will receive it. Will you agree to take it as poor John did, of whom you have been reading? May God help you to do so today, for His name's sake.
“The Gospel Watchman” 1884