I HAD been about five years in the most fearful distress of mind, as a boy. If any human being felt more of the terror of God's Law, I can indeed pity and sympathize with him. Bunyan's "Grace Abounding" contains, in the main, my history. Some abysses he went into I never trod; but some into which I plunged he seems to have never known.
I thought the sun was blotted out of my sky - that I had sinned against God that there was no hope for me. I prayed - the Lord knows how I prayed; but I never had a glimpse of an answer that I knew of. I searched the Word of God; the promises were more alarming than the threatenings. I read the privileges of the people of God, but with the fullest persuasion that they were not for me. The scene of my distress was this: I did not know the Gospel. I was in a Christian land. I had Christian parents, but I did not fully understand the freeness and simplicity of the Gospel.
I attended all the places of worship in the town where I lived, but I honestly believe that I did not hear the Gospel fully preached. I do not blame the men, however. One man preached the Divine sovereignty. I could hear him with pleasure, but what was that to a poor sinner who wished to know what he should do to be saved? There was another admirable man who always preached about the law; but what was the use of plowing up ground that wanted to be sown? Another was a great practical teacher. I heard him, but it was very much like a commanding officer teaching the maneuvers of war to a set of men without feet. What could I do? All his exhortations were lost to me. I knew it was said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," but I did not know what I was to believe in Christ.
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, when I was going to a place of worship. When I could go no farther, I turned down a street and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning; snowed in, I suppose. A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort went up into the pulpit to preach.
Now, it is well that ministers should be instructed, but this man was really unlearned, as you would say. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason he had nothing else to say. The text was, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." He didn't even pronounce the words correctly, but that didn't matter.
There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. He began thus: "My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, 'Look.' Now, that doesn't take a great deal of effort. It isn't lifting your foot or your finger. It is just 'look.' Well, a man need not go to college to learn to look. A man need not be worth a lot of money to look. Any one can look; a child can look. But this is what the text says. Then it says, 'Look unto Me'."
"Aye," said he, in broad Essex, "many of ye are looking to yourselves. No use looking there. You'll never find comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No. Look to Him by and by. Jesus Christ says, 'Look unto Me.' Some of you say, 'I must wait the Spirit's working.' You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. It says, 'Look unto Me'."
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: "Look unto Me: I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hanging on the cross. Look! I am dead and buried. Look unto Me. I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend; I am sitting at the Father's right hand. Oh, look unto Me! Look unto Me!"
When he had got about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the length of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I dare say, with a few present, he knew me to be a stranger. He then said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made on my personal appearance from the pulpit before. However, it was a good blow struck. He continued: "And you will always be miserable - miserable in life, and miserable in death - if you do not obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment you will be saved."
Then he shouted as only a gospel preacher can. "Young man, look to Jesus Christ!" I did 'look'. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun: I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious Blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me that before: Trust Christ and you will be saved.
It was, no doubt, wisely ordered, and I must ever say:
E'er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy wounds supplied for me,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall forever be.
-Written by Spurgeon himself