Brethren Archive

This is it

by W.T.P. Wolston

“Then you believe in witchcraft.” The utterer of this statement was a hard-headed, intelligent-looking Birmingham mechanic, who occupied a corner seat vis-a-vis to me in the carriage in which, some years ago, I was travelling on the Great Western Railway through Oxfordshire. What led up to this strange affirmation I will narrate.

Our compartment was quite full, and I had handed to my fellow travellers some small two-page leaflets which contained nothing but Scripture, presenting the gospel of the grace of God in God’s own language. Most of the recipients perused the leaflet; but the foregoing speaker did not do so. The moment he received his copy he glanced at it, made a contemptuous comment to a comrade sitting by his side, let down the window of the carriage, and with a very audible and contemptuous “Whew!” cast the leaflet out.

“If you did not want it you might have returned it to me,” I said quietly.

“Oh, I do not believe at all in those stupid tracts; they are perfectly worthless,” was his rejoinder.

“Many a tract that man has written might be worthless, but what you just now held in your hand was not what man wrote, but what God wrote. It was nothing but His own Word that you thus carelessly cast to the winds. In plain language, it was the Word of God.”

“And, pray, what is the Word of God?” he sarcastically rejoined.

“This is it,” I replied, holding up a small polyglot Bible which I was reading at the moment.

“Oh, you believe in the Bible, do you? I do not. I am a sceptic.”

“Most certainly I do; every line of it, front to cover. I am perfectly assured it is God’s Word, and God’s revelation of Himself to man, and I regret to learn that you thus scoff it.”

“Do you mean to say that you believe it all?” was his next query.

“Yes, all.”

“And all that is in it?”

“Yes. God’s record of everything I believe.”

“Then you believe in witchcraft,” was his triumphant rejoinder.

“I thought that was coming,” said a cheery voice from the half-divided compartment which was behind us, and looking up I saw a happy-faced Church of England clergyman standing at my back that he might hear our conversation.

My reply to my querist was, “We must first define what you mean by believing in witchcraft. If you mean, by believing in witchcraft, that I accept it, or commit myself to it, use or rely on it, I in no sense believe in it, for I believe it to be thoroughly of the devil. But if, by believing in it, you mean that witchcraft is a power that can be exercised over men’s minds, the Word of God makes it abundantly plain to me that witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, or spiritualism, by whatever name you like to call it, is a real power, and a satanic system, which God’s Word condemns; but which, nevertheless, many a man prefers to traffic in, in face of God’s Word.”

“But how do you know that the Bible is God’s Word,” was his reply.

“I could not prove to you that it is God’s Word,” I said, “but the way I know it is God’s Word is this, that He has spoken to my soul through it. By it He made me know I was a lost sinner, for it is written, ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 9:10). By it He has given me to know that He is love, and that His Son has died for a sinner like me; for it is written, ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:9-10). He has proclaimed pardon to me through His Son, and given me eternal life in His Son, and all this I have learned through the Scriptures applied to my soul in the power of the Holy Ghost.”

“But I do not believe that it is the Word of God,” was his reply.

“Very likely. And I do not think you will believe it until by it God wounds you. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God.’ The proof of this is seen in the effects of that word, ‘For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ (Heb. 4:12). If I held a sharp-pointed sword in my hand, you might argue that it could neither cut nor pierce. But if I ran it through you, or lopped off a limb with it, you would then believe in its edge and its point. Your arguments would all die. Similarly you may argue all your days that Scripture is not the Word of God; but if the Holy Ghost were to apply it, as I trust He will, in power to your conscience, your opposition would cease, your heart would be broken, and your then troubled and guilty conscience would alone be calmed by its precious and peace-giving statements. It reveals Christ, and fills the heart that is led to know Him with peace and happiness. I wish you knew Him, my friend. You would have real happiness then.”

“What makes you think I am not happy?” was his sullen rejoinder.

“Your face,” I replied, “you do not look at all happy.”

“There is very little happiness in this world,” was his response, “I am just off to Paris to see if I cannot get some.”

“That is a long way to go to get happiness; I do not need to go so far as that to get mine,” said I, “I carry mine with me. Christ dwelling in my heart by faith secures abiding joy.”

“But I have got a fortnight’s holiday, my mate and I, and we are going to the Paris exhibition. We hope to get some happiness there.”

“Paris cannot furnish what the knowledge of Christ alone can give you,” I replied, “and if you are a wise man, you will turn to Him, the fount of all real joy, long before you get to Paris. But I think I know the reason why you are not happy.”

“What is that?” said he, looking me very keenly in the face.

“I have a suspicion you are not a holy man,” was my quiet rejoinder, and a furious blush suffused his face ere he softly said, “How do you know that?”

“I did not say I know it, I merely said I suspected it. I know this, that happiness and holiness go together. ‘Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.’ if you see Him, you will be happy, as were the disciples (see John 20:20). Let me ask you a plain question, Are you a holy man? are you leading a life of purity?”

The blush deepened, and then faded, leaving his face pallid and wretched as he paused a minute, and then said, said, “You are right. No, I am not a holy man. I know I am leading a sinful life.”

“I thought so,” I replied. “When man leaves God out of his life, he gets into the clutch of Satan, and that means self-gratification, indulgence in lust, passion, and sin of every kind, with misery in the heart as the consequence.”

The train slowed down at the station where I was to alight, so I could only now with a few words beg him to turn to Jesus. As I got out he said, “I will think of all you have said to me.” I gave him another gospel booklet, which he thankfully received, and we parted, never more I fancy to meet on this earth. Whether I shall see him in heaven God only knows.

Reader, shall I see you there? If you have any doubts about the Word of God, let me ask you quietly to read it. Do not judge it, let it judge you. You will find it will expose you to yourself. That is the reason why most men dislike it. Another working man said once in a train, “I have observed through a long life that good men love the Bible, and wicked men hate it.” That witness is true.


The Gospel Messenger 1903, p. 85

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