A Father's Love

SOME years ago, when visiting a large workhouse, I found a young man, who had been brought into the infirmary, in the last stage of illness. His countenance and manner indicated that he had once moved in good society, and despite his, utterly miserable appearance I saw that he was a gentleman.
Partly from my experience in sick wards, and partly from a strong impression laid upon my mind, I felt assured that he could not live more than a few weeks at the most. He was much dejected, and suffering intensely both in mind and body; my soul was filled with deep compassion for him, and also with earnest longings and prayer for his salvation.
It was my clear duty before God to tell the poor prodigal—for this I felt sure he was—that I was convinced he would never recover. So I told him I felt certain the longest time he could linger would be six or seven weeks, and having said this, I asked him plainly as to the state of his soul in the sight of God.
“What!" said he, "do you really think I shall not recover? Can I only live six weeks longer?”
“Yes; I feel assured," I replied, "that will be the longest time that you can remain on earth.”
He became very thoughtful, and then told me with tears, and in the deepest anguish, of the wicked life he had led. Once he had been rich, but had squandered away some thirty thousand pounds. The awful sin of having been the unintentional cause of the death of his poor wife and his children—who had died one by one from neglect and starvation—filled his soul day and night with unutterable remorse.
As he lay in the infirmary of the workhouse, I beheld a prodigal in the truest meaning of the word—a ruined life indeed—dying, and feeling the misery of his position, and also, thank God! the burden of his sins.
I told him of God and of His pardoning love, but the poor young man had no hope in his soul. He continually said he was too wicked to be saved; the awful life he had led could never be forgiven.
One day, after I had read to him the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke's gospel, and while I was pleading with him, he said, "I do not believe such an one as I can ever be saved. Do you think it possible that I could be forgiven?”
That is not the question at all," I answered;" the question is not whether you can be saved or not, for God's word answers Mat, but, do you know that you are lost?”
“Oh! lost, lost indeed! if any man was ever lost, I am," he answered, and indeed he was. Lost in every sense—lost to the world, lost to his friends, lost through his sins, lost, not knowing how to come to God, and, on the very border of eternity, about to be lost in hell forever!
“Well, if you are really lost and know it," said I," let us pray. I will plead with my Father for you. I can do nothing—you can do nothing; but I will tell my Father all about it.”
So I knelt beside his bed. "Give me your hand," said I. He stretched out his poor thin hand, and I took it in both of mine, and pleaded, with cries and tears, with my Father in heaven for the poor prodigal.
After some little time spent in travail for his soul, the dying man cried out, "I see it now; my sins, which were many, are all forgiven, all forgiven! Oh, that I could have known this before!" God had spoken to his soul; through the Holy Spirit the young man had received Christ in his heart: he was saved!
“Have you no friends?" I asked him, after a while.
He said he had, but that none of them knew where he was, nor had they heard of him for years. "My father," said he, "still lives; will you write to him?”
I gladly telegraphed for the young man's father, and he quickly came to see his prodigal son. Often and often had I read that fifteenth chapter of St. Luke's gospel before, and had loved it well for years; but that day that chapter told me more of the love of God the Father to a poor sinner than I had ever known before. The dear old parent embraced his son, and wept upon his neck, kissing him. He had found his son in this world; his eyes beheld his child, his poor son—saved, and ready for heaven and home. The son put his dying arms about his father's neck and kissed him, and they both wept tears of mingled joy and sorrow. Indeed, the dear father embraced me, too, thanking me for having spoken to his poor son, of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
With tears of joy rolling down his cheeks, that beloved Christian parent lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." His prayers of many years were answered.
There were other relations for whom the father intended to send, that they, too, might see the young man, but that very evening I felt a conviction that the time had now come, and that the son, who had been lost but was found, would not live to see them; so I told this to the young man's father.
“Is this really to be so?" said he.
I assured him I believed his son would be called home very shortly; and so it was, for before the next morning the prodigal had been taken home. C.