THE LATTER RAIN
I dropped in at five o’clock a few evenings ago, to see a poor man dying of dropsy. On asking him how he was, he said,
“Why, bad as I can beÂ—my legs just ready to burst, I have had a day of it.Â—I never stirred out of this position since four o’clock this morning. O but I’ve had such a dayÂ—I’m a wonder to myself. I who am so fidgetty, so grumbling, so rebellious, yet here I’ve laid all day, and not felt a bit impatient or troublesome to myself. Ah! (said he with a smile), I’ve had a Helpmate with me all day. One who has made, and who can bear. There now, ain’t it wonderful that I don’t even feel sorry for my pains that I don’t want to get out of itÂ—that I am contented and thankful? O what a thing experience is! Now I have proved what God can do, how He can support and make any one happy in the midst of all their torments.”
“What kind of a night had you?” I enquired.
“Oh, bad, bad! But there now, I shouldn’t say that, ‘twern’t really bad, you know; for the Lord was with me, and his smile sweetens all. What a wonder I am to myself! to think I should feel so comfortable in the midst of all thisÂ—ready to bide my timeÂ— not troubled about any thing. What a grand secret true religion is! Why all sorts come to see me, but O how few are in the secret; (not that I wish to judge any one).”
“No,” said I, “you have enough to do at home for that matter.”
“That I have,” he said. “Why, I keep on sinning so, and I hate it; but it lives in me, aye and breaks out of me sometimes; and then you know I want a fresh dip in the blood of the Lamb. If I had done with sin, I should have no need of a Saviour, I suppose. Why, there, sometimes the pillow won’t stay right, and even that do put me out; and then I’m ready to say, can I have grace in my heart, and yet be put out by a pillow, and sometimes my sufferings are so great I feel quite rebellious, just as if nobody ever suffered like me. The doctor came last night, and he said, ‘Now don’t keep on groaning like that, what good’s in that?’ And I said, ‘Ah, sir! if you had my legs, may hap you’d groan, and then I thought that was wrong. Why should I groan, when the Lord is so good to me? But I haven’t groaned much today, for all I be so bad, because the Lord is so near. He has been such a Help-mate all day. Now you know I would not part with what I have learnt of God to-day, for all this world could give. I feel now for myself, that he can guide. I thought a good deal before, and I hoped a good deal, but I never knew it inwardly as I do now. I know now how happy God can make any one, when nobody else can do them good.”
I called the next day to see him; he said he was easier, the inflammation gone down in his legs. “But, I ain’t half so happy as I was yesterday,” he said, “Indeed, I ain’t happy at all, I feel so shaken, so troubled. Last night I was that nervous, I could not
bide alone without a light. Oh, the nights be terrible lonesome sometimes!”
“But,” said I, “where’s your wife, and your children, can’t they stay with you?”
“Why, there now, at the first starting off of this complaint,” he replied, “I was very impatient, and used to groan and make a terrible noise over my pains, and, poor things, they had no rest with me, and I wished them to leave me to myself, for I was afraid I should keep them awake with my groans; but I don’t make so much noise now, for all I be worse. No, the Lord helps me to bear it better, to see it is His will I should suffer, and He makes me feel quieter, and not so restless and impatient. Bless His dear name! But I wish I was happier. I have a hope; but I want more. I want His presence. I want what I had all yesterday.”
I lifted up a walking stick that was lying on the bed, put there for the poor man to knock on the floor when he needed any of his family to attend upon him. “This stick,” said I, “never changes its shape or appearance now, but when it was a part of a tree you know it was ever changing, the sap was rising or sinking, and it was budding, or leafing, or flowering, or fading, or fallingÂ—it was ever on the change. Then it had life; now it is dead, and knows no change.” The poor man caught the idea and smiled, while in a plaintive tone he said,
“True, true. But I have been a great sinner, and my sins rise like mountains, and then all my peace is gone till the Lord appears.”
A solemn thought this remark led to. For many years the man had been a consistent believer, and enjoyed a full assurance of interest in divine love: but the world crept in, and sin and guilt followed, and peace flew away, but where the Lord begins. He will finish. And a second repentance, deep and bitter, he had to pass through, from which God brought him out with a living hope, but kept him for a long time in the dark, as to his sense of present interest. It was in this state he was visited by a class of religionists who would set the creature to do the work of the Holy Ghost, and whose language was, “Why don’t you believe? What’s to hinder your taking the precious promises in the word of God? A poor troubled peace-seeking soul like you, are just the characters described in the Scriptures that are welcome to Christ, and all that He is and has:Â—and you ought to come to Him, and you are dishonouring Him by not coming. The comforts of the Gospel belong to such as you, and you should take them. Jesus says. Come unto me; and surely you ought to come.” In order to try the state of his mind, I used this language, asking him what he thought of it?
“Now all that is not worth one farthing’s good to me,” he replied, “for I can’t do it; I know God could do it in a moment for me, and I have proved it, but as for my oughts and shoulds, ’tis all nonsense. I should be happy now if it were left to my will. God
knowsÂ—but I can’t make myself happy. I can’t rest in the promises. I can’t get up to Jesus just when I like. No, no. He must do it. He must come to me. I have no power to go to Him, but just as He gives it. I have fathomed that sort of faith to the bottom, and it won’t do. I know it ain’t God’s sort of faith. It is His shalls and wills I have to depend upon, not what a poor creature like me ought to do.”
I said, “You were a hearer at BÂ— Chapel, were you not?”
“O yes,” he replied with a smile, “that’s among my mercies. Many, many years have I attended there, and blessed food I found there. I’ll tell you now how I used to like to go to chapelÂ— like a man that wanted his dinner. Oh then, how good it used to come! and how satisfied and happy I used to feel sometimes, while sitting there, listening to the word.”
I have just heard that death has closed the sufferings of poor B. and I have no doubt he is entered into his everlasting rest.
Gospel Magazine, 1854.