That Which Was Lost
The burning rays of an August sun were falling in meridian power on the level and fully ripe corn-fields of Somerset, as, ever a quarter of a century ago, I wended my way from a village, where I had overnight preached the gospel, to another where I was announced to hold a meeting that evening. Pushing along at a good pace I saw before me, and eventually overtook, a little donkey-cart containing two women, evidently of a humble station in life. Offering them each a gospel tract, the eider, who held the reins, stopped her conveyance and thanked me courteously for the gift. A moment or two of conversation soon revealed that she was a simple and happy believer in the Lord Jesus, and knew her sins were forgiven through faith in His name.
“And do you know this blessed Saviour also?” I inquired of the younger, who was her daughter. A sad shake of the head, accompanied by a deepening of the settled melancholy of her face was the only response she made, but her mother put in, “No, she does not yet know the Saviour. She is in great sorrow, and cannot rise above it.”
I had noticed that each was draped in mourning, and now learned that the younger had several months previously lost her only child, a babe of tender years. “She has never looked up since,” now added the mother, “and refuses to be comforted.”
Expressing my sympathy, with the bereaved mother, I said, “But it surely ought to be a comfort to you to know that your dear babe is with Christ.”
“Oh!” she cried, “if I were only sure of that, I would not care what became of me.”
“Sure of that,” said I, “why, how can you doubt it?”
“That is the cause of her sorrow,” put in her mother again. “She thinks her child is lost for ever, and she is indifferent as to what happens to herself.” How deep and real is a mother’s love, I thought, but turning again to the stricken woman I simply said, “Have you never read what the Lord Jesus says about the ‘little ones,’ in Matthew 18?”
“What does He say?” was the sad reply.
Taking out a little Testament, I read, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. . . Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of Man is COME TO SAVE that which was lost . . . It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt. 18:1-3, 11, 14).
The sorrow-stricken one was arrested by the blessed Lord’s statements as to His interest in the “little ones,” and she listened with the deepest attention as I read on. At verse 11, I pointed out that the expression “that which was lost” applied simply and directly to the “little ones.” They are not, because young in years, therefore “innocent,” as men foolishly say, but being children of Adam, are “lost” as such, and therefore the Son of Man has come to “save” them. His work on the cross avails for them, and as they do not refuse it, He applies its efficacy for them—and His heart is gratified in saving them.
“Observe,” I added, “that in Lake 19:20, where the Lord is dealing with and addressing Himself to ‘a man’ who was old enough to have become a ‘chief’ and ‘rich,’ He says, ‘The Son of Man is come to SEEK and to SAVE that which is lost.’ He has to seek us big grown-up folk, for like silly foolish sheep, we have all run away from Him when we had strength and age to do so. Not so the ‘little ones,’ yet nevertheless are they ‘lost’ too. Them He saves outright. Us He has first to seek. The ‘little ones’—your dear babe, for instance—never ran away from Him, so He had not to seek it, but being the child of a sinful parent, it was ‘lost,’ and He died to save it, and I believe He has it safely now in His blessed arms. Don’t you believe it too, now?”
The surcharged heart found relief in a copious shower of tears, as the truth of the eternal safety of her child burst upon her, and then “Thank God, thank God for that,” fell from her lips. “Yes, I believe that,” she added, “and oh, what a comfort to know my babe is safe with Jesus. I don’t care what happens to me now that I know he is safe.”
“But would not you like to be saved, too? Will you not let the blessed Saviour that has already saved your dear child, save you?”
“If He will have me,” she softly answered.
“Oh, He will have you, without doubt. Just trust Him simply. You see He has been seeking you for a long time, and perhaps He saw the only way to get at your heart—so full of earth and its ties—was to take away your darling child, thus giving you a link with heaven, and now He is calling upon you to surrender yourself fully to Him. Will you not do it?”
“He has saved my child, I will let Him save me too. Yes, I will trust Him, for He came to save ‘that which was lost,’ and I know I am lost, and He died to save we too. I see it all now clearly. Thank God, thank God.”
I needed to say no more. The cloud had departed from her face, the load from her heart, the weight of sin from her conscience, and in the conscious sense of the favour of the Lord she rejoiced in His goodness to herself and to her child.
It is said that the Eastern shepherd, if he will take his flock over a brook, easily effects it. He does not drive his sheep, he leads them, and when he would have them cross the water—which they like not—he simply takes a lamb under each arm, goes over and deposits them on the other side. The anxious dam follows its offspring without hesitation, and the flock, following suit, is soon over.
Thus is it too with us oftentimes. God takes from our side here some tenderly loved one to scenes of rest and glory on high. The hearts of others left behind them get awakened, and the matter ends in solid conversion to God.
Reader, how is it with you? Are you still among “them that are lost”? Why is this? Perhaps you say you cannot tell. Let me then point out the reason to you in the words of the Holy Ghost. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3-4) Yes, the devil brings in the things of time and sense to block out of your vision what is eternal and divine. If you are wise you will decline to be any longer duped. Birds are wiser than men. Of them Scripture says, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Prov. 1:17). But Satan sets his net for careless sinners, and in they walk to their eternal ruin. Friend, be wise in time!
The Gospel Messengers 1890, p. 253