Swept Away; or, False Confidence.
Much attention had been bestowed, and much money expended, to make the [Hot Air] balloon a success. Everything deemed needful had been supplied; a store of requisites was carefully secured, and every preparation was considered complete for the ascent. It was its trial trip; and an experienced aeronaut was to accompany its owner on this its first attempt to soar above the clouds. A long journey was not anticipated, and a bright afternoon had been chosen for the adventure; but the preparations occupying more time than had been expected, it was getting dark ere everything was ready. The car had been carefully secured to the ground by ropes, which at a given signal could be simultaneously slipped from the moorings. The silk was inflated with gas, and the two gentlemen entered the car. Adieus were exchanged, and hopes for a prosperous journey expressed. The motion was made by the hand of the aeronaut and the ropes slipped, but one was obstinate and would not yield. The balloon, freed on all sides but this, swayed and leaped like a frighted horse. The sudden jerk capsized the car with the occupants. The aeronaut fell to the ground, but happily was not killed; his companion, apparently more fortunate, caught the tethered rope in his fall and hung suspended in the air. A momentary shout of joy and delight was uttered by the terror-stricken friends beneath as they saw the fall broken and the rope grasped. But it was only momentary; for, to their horror, they found the rope had slipped the knot or dragged its moorings away, and the balloon, set free, bounded up—far, far up, higher, yet higher into the heavens. Frantic with agony, they behold the devoted man still clinging to the delusive hope, swept away in the darkness to be seen or heard of no more.
"What an awful end!" you doubtless say. But though such a terrible catastrophe is happily seldom witnessed, it is but a faint picture of what is, alas! of daily occurrence in the matter of the soul and its eternal interests. Men tenaciously cling to their own notions and superstitions, imagining it will be all right by-and-by, though it be not right now; nor will they give up their vain hope, though it be but "as the spider's web." It matters not, say they, what you are or what you believe, provided you are sincere. As though the sincerity was the pledge of safety. Was not that fated man sincere in his death-grip of the balloon rope? But his earnestness and sincerity in a false hope were the cause of his terrible end. Had he dropped the rope and fallen, there might have been some hope; but holding on, he sealed his doom. Perhaps the reader is resting his hopes on his morality, and thinks because he is not so outwardly wicked as some others, and tries his best to live uprightly, therefore he is safe; but it is only a delusion of the wicked one, and must end in death; for "there is none righteous, no, not one." (Ps. xiv. 3; Rom. iii 10.) Many delusions Satan holds out, as ropes from the balloon, that sinners may grasp them; but they all lead one way, and carry the blinded sinner into the darkness of death—swept away.
There is the Religious rope on which thousands are depending. They are diligent at their pious devotions, at their prayers and good deeds; but they, not submitting to the righteousness of God—going about to establish their own righteousness, and not receiving Christ—are hopelessly holding on to a delusion which will sweep them away.
Then there is the Reformation rope which sustains its multitudes. Trying to be better turning over a new leaf—leaving off outside sins, they vainly believe they are safe. But these forget the fact that "God requireth that which is past." (Eccles. iii. 10.) And no future well-doing can efface one sin of yesterday.
The most fatal rope men grasp is the rope of Procrastination. Men are persuaded they are in danger, and need salvation; but they are great believers in the mercy of God, though they totally ignore His justice; and they say, "God is very merciful, and He can save at the eleventh hour. We intend to be saved sometime, but there is plenty of time." And these, clinging to this rope, are swept away in the flight of time, and lost to all eternity. How is it with the reader? What rope are you clinging to? Is it to Jesus, and to Him alone? If not, give up every other hope, and trust Him, and Him wholly, and eternal security is yours, for His Word says it. But, on the other hand, if any other ground of hope is yours, be sure it will be swept away, for "there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." (Acts. iv. 12.) Other refuges are numerous, but they are "refuges of lies." Multitudes are clinging to other supports, but they are worthless.
A Canadian villager, in May, 1845, was engaged in dragging sand from the Niagara, three miles above the Falls; and, seated in his cart, backed the horses into the water, being ignorant of the depth. The cart sank, but the box on which he sat floated. To this he clung with the energy of despair, as he was unable to swim. A high wind drove it into the strong but smooth current. A boat was let loose, but he feared to let go his hold of the box and grasp the means of safety. I'm lost! I'm lost!" he shrieked, and his dreadful cries penetrated the dull roar of the torrent. Presently, a small island is seen, and the devoted man, still clinging to his fatal support, is washed close to it. Will he leave the box and grasp the shore? The onlookers from the other side, unable to help, anxiously await the result. The box strikes the rock, and the man is within an inch of safety, but to secure his life he must let go the box. He doubtless intends to, but ere he springs for life, a whirling eddy sweeps the box swiftly into the stream again, and all hope is lost. Onward he goes, smoothly, swiftly, surely, to his doom. He presently is seen to enter the blue unbroken flood of smooth water, twenty feet in depth, in the centre of the Canadian fall. His doom is sealed. One moment more and he has loosed his hold. His hands are clasped as if in prayer, and with frantic gestures and a terrific scream he is carried over the cataract, and is seen no more, nor any trace of him for ever after. Had he but given up his false hope and leaped on the rock, or grasped the boat, he might have been saved; but delaying too long, his chance was lost. Oh, dear reader, have you given up trusting to self, or religion, or good resolutions? Are you resting now on Jesus' finished work? If not, delay no longer. "Escape for thy life."
"Venture on Him, venture wholly;
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.''
“The Gospel Watchman” 1885