Mercy at the Eleventh Hour

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 4
H. B.— was a relative of mine, and from my earliest childhood I can remember him as one addicted to habits of intemperance, betting, &c. Yet withal, he was a proud, stern man, with high views of his own morality. He would speak contemptuously of the drunkard and the swearer, seemingly blinded to his own faults.
He was an important person at all christenings, marriages, and burials in his family, but, apart from such occasions, rarely entered a place where God's word was read.
My sister, upon one occasion, ventured to speak to him about his soul's futurity.
She was net by such a volley of impiety that she did not again venture, for many years, to speak to him on such subjects, and, from that time, he treated her with the greatest ridicule. In a fit of intoxication, he broke a blood-vessel, and ever after his health suffered. As year after year passed away, and many and serious attacks of illness warned him of the shortness of his life, he became sobered from his former wild career, and occasionally went to church. At the dying bed of his step-mother he was spoken to faithfully of his responsibility to believe the gospel. He listened, but made no reply. But the dying woman said, as he left her room, “He’ll come to Christ. O yes, he'll come, for I've been praying for him, and God has heard me." How truly was that prayer of faith answered, even though all seemed lost.
Some time after this, his loved and only daughter died after a short illness. He, too, was in a very critical condition, and it was apparent to all that his days were numbered. I went to his house to look upon the face of his daughter, whom I loved so well, and over whom I sorrowed as of one gone into eternity without hope.
"What of your father's condition?" said I, to H. B.'s Christian son. “Alas! his heart seems harder than adamant, not a bit of preparation for his eternal future.”
“I will speak to him," I said.
“I’m afraid he won't listen to you, but he is alone in the drawing-room, do go, it is not a time to be falsely kind. May God bless your effort for his good.”
He was sitting in his arm chair, his poor feet, swollen with dropsy, on a hassock, and such a wretched look upon his still handsome face. I took his hand, and sitting down on a chair in front of him I burst into tears. We wept together for some minutes, then he said, “So you've seen the last of poor A.?”
“Yes, H.”
“Well, I shall be the next. I know I can't last much longer, and I'm quite resigned to my fate.”
“Forgive me, H., but may I ask you a question?”
“Where do you hope to go when you leave this world?”
“Well, that's known to the Almighty. I've nothing to fear. I die at peace with all men.”
“But, H., you are a sinner, and God is holy, how then can you meet Him in your sins?”
“Hush, hush," he cried angrily," I will not have you talk like this to me. I am many years older than you, and do you think I don't know these things?”
“I cannot help speaking, dear H. Your case is too momentous to allow of delay."
The old sarcastic expression came upon his face while he said, "I won't have it. I know all about it even before you were born. The responsibility is mine.”
“Well, I will only say two texts out of God's word. Mind, H., they are not my words, and then I will leave you:—’ God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)).
“Stay, be quiet, I won't hear," cried he, while his hands shook with excitement.
“Yet one other, and I promise you I will say no more: —’ The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin,'" (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)).
Then I prayed and sobbed before him. I felt that I could not give him up, I thought that God's word would surely melt that proud heart—surely he would not refuse the way of salvation.
He got calmer after a few minutes, and said,
"Why do you distress yourself about me?”
"I feel so deeply sorry for you, H.”
“I don't wish you to disturb yourself at all.
I'm all right. I know I must die, and I feel very comfortable in my mind. I dare say you mean what you say for my good, but I don't wish you to talk to me.”
“I promised you I would say no more, H., so, as I cannot do you any good, I must say good-bye." We shook hands, and parted.
"How did you get on?" said his son, on the stairs.
“He will not listen to Scripture, and is evidently deceiving himself.”
“How sad I Well, let us still pray for him, perchance, even now, God will have mercy upon him.”
A few days after, I received the following note: —
Dear A.,
Just a few lines to ask you to continue to pray for my poor father; and I rejoice that I can ask you to blend much praise with your petitions.
Blessed be God that the light has begun to drive back the darkness, and the gospel warmth is melting the ice.
Dr.— told father last Tuesday, that there was no hope of his recovery, and reminded him of the sinner's Friend. In the evening of same day I read Rom. 8., to him, and said a few words. Mr. D. saw him next day. He considers his case very hopeful, and believes God is working with him. Truly, He is faithful that promised. I will pray for him to-morrow, exactly at one o'clock; kindly spare a few minutes at that time that we may feel we are united on his behalf "...
The Sunday following the receipt of above note, H. B. passed into eternity.
There was no uncertainty with him as to where he was going. Grace reigned in that poor heart, that had been the slave of sin and Satan for more than fifty years. Now all was peace—Satan was defeated—the blood of God's Son had cleansed another guilty soul.
"I'm on the Rock!" shouted H. B., as his brother entered his room, about an hour before his departure, "on Christ!”
“Rock of Ages! cleft for me,
Grace hath hid me safe in Thee
Where the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Are of sin the double cure,
Cleansing from its guilt and power.”
"Is that what you mean?" inquired his brother.
“Yes, yes.”
“You are not resting on any righteousness of your own, any rites, or outward observances?”
“Oh! no, I'm a poor sinner, but I have a Saviour. His blood cleanseth from all sin— yes— from all sin. Only Christ now. He has saved my soul. My Rock is Christ. His blood cleanses—cleanses from all sin. Good-bye—I'm going to heaven—to be with Christ—saved through His blood!”
So he peacefully passed away, a trophy of divine grace, to the Lord's eternal praise.
What mercy was shown to H. B.! Like the dying thief, he was taken safely into glory.
Not on the ground of works, or his own righteousness, but his only merit that he was a sinner, he found a sufficiency in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh! the wondrous grace of God!
But, reader, if you are yet in your sins, do not leave it till the last moment to come to Christ; there may not be mercy for you then.
Shortly after H. B. was taken home, a young woman lay very ill in the workhouse infirmary of a suburban town.
A friend of mine had often spoken to her about her soul, but she heeded not her timely words—there was plenty of time for her, she said.
But the last day came, and again my friend begged her to decide for Christ without delay.
“You may not be here to-morrow," she said.
“I shall be here to-morrow," cried the sick girl.
“God only knows, you may not; do come to Jesus now.”
“I tell you I shall be here to-morrow.”
Reader, that very night the ward rang with the cries of the dying girl. "I am dying," she cried, "O mother, mother, there is a hell, and I am not saved! What shall I do? “Alas, her mother was powerless to help her. A poor sufferer, from another bed, cried out, “Come to Jesus, dear, He will save you, even now.”
But too late-too late! She passed away with out hope!
Reader, come now.
E. E. S.