TREASURES HIDDEN IN THE SAND
A thoughtless young nobleman once went into a place of worship on a Sunday afternoon, not for the purpose of worshipping, but with the view of meeting with a young lady who had formerly been his companion in sin, and whom he expected to find thereÂ— the Lord having brought her to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being a stranger, and from the respectability of his appearance, the congregation were much excited, as was also the minister, Mr. Hanks, who, upon first seeing him, felt a strong desire, if it were the Lord’s will, his mind might be impressed with the things of the Gospel; with this view he gave out the following hymn:Â—
“In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear;
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my mad career.
“I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood;
Who fixed His languid eyes on me
As near His cross I stood.
“Ah, never till my latest breath
Shall I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.”
One of the friends, seeing he was a stranger, gave him a hymn-book, when he appeared to listen to the hymn with much attention, and showed great interest throughout the whole of the service; at the close of which he returned the book, and, without making any observation, withdrew with the rest of the congregation, amongst whom there was great inquiry if he were known, or if Mr. Hanks had noticed him.
Not succeeding in finding the object of his search, he was there again on the following Lord’s Day, and listened with no less attention throughout the service, at the close of which he left, as before, disappointed with regard to the individual whom he was seeking. On this occasion, one of the deacons gave out the following hymn, to which he seemed to listen with peculiar interest, as if indicating he had never heard the like beforeÂ—the strains were quite new to him:Â—
“Lord, Thou hast won; at length I yield;
My heart, by mighty grace compelled,
Surrenders all to Thee;
Against Thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against Thy love?
Love conquered even me.”
In the ensuing week he left England for Switzerland. On reaching Belgium, he suddenly became unwell, and was thereby prevented from proceeding any further. His friends being alarmed at the symptoms of the malady, and himself no less so, medical aid was quickly in attendance, and from the first but little hope was held out of his recovery.
The thoughts of death, and the unwelcome recollection of his past life, with the anticipation and dread of meeting his Maker, brought him into a state of mind bordering upon despair. His earnest cries for mercy and forgiveness were to all who heard them thrilling and heart-rending to the last degree. Every means within the reach of his friends were resorted to, with a view of allaying his fears, mitigating his mental distress; but all was in vain.
In this appalling state of mind he continually exclaimed, “I am lost; I shall soon have to appear before God; and, oh, what an awful account shall I have to give unto Him.”
In the midst of the sufferings of his body and the terrors of his mind, he frequently referred to the services he had attended on those two afternoons in the room at Woolwich; and now for the first time confessed how much he had been affected by them; and desired that the hymn-book should be sent for which contained the hymns that were then sung, that he might read them, which was done; and over and over again he very eagerly and with apparent pleasure read them with others from the same collection, which in all probability was the one edited by the late Mr. John Stevens, of Meard’s Court.
At length his anguish began to abate, and his tears to subside; and, when speaking of the effect the hymns had upon him when first heard, he mentioned several Scriptures as quoted by Mr. Hanks, which had not passed from him. “We all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” These were the words that first took possession of his heart, and brought the sense of sin, the value of his soul, the fear of death, and the wrath of God before him.
He happily received a sense of the full forgiveness of his sins Â—yea, all his sins; and the love and compassion of a precious Christ fully absorbed every power of his happy soul. He wept for joy, as pardoned sinners do, and sung with rapture and delight of that mercy he had obtained.
Often and earnestly did he pray for Mr. Hanks as the instrument in the Lord’s hand of stopping him in his mad career of folly and sin, and also for all his friends worshipping with him; and desired that certain books should be forwarded to him by way of remembrance, which was done by his friends, and brought to
Woolwich by his uncle, who is a clergyman of the Church of England, and who communicated the above particulars of this valuable treasure, once hidden in the sand of nature, but now, through sovereign grace, a diadem in the Redeemer’s crown.
A short time before his death, and in the anticipation that his desire would soon be granted, he sung the sweet hymn of Medley:
“Weary of earth, myself, and sin
Dear Jesus set me free;
And to Thy glory take me in,
For there I long to be.”
He fell asleep in Jesus with the utmost triumph of faith, and breathed out his ransomed spirit, exclaiming with his last breath, “Glory, glory, glory!” Who can say this is not “a brand plucked out of the fire?” He departed May 26th, 1863.