My Heart Is So Hard!

It pleased God to visit the town of H., and the surrounding villages, with a time of general awakening. It bore no resemblance to those seasons of fitful and forced excitement, resulting from laborious efforts in what are called "special services," which are too often mistaken for revivals in the present day. It was a time in which the awakening and converting power of God's Holy Spirit was like "showers on the grass," or "a dew from the Lord that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men" (Mic. 5:77And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. (Micah 5:7)).
The preaching of the Gospel was attended by crowds who had not been wont to attend it; seriousness sat on every countenance while listening to the Word; old and young, men, women and children, were impressed with the importance of eternal things; and numbers, among whom many have fallen asleep, but the greater part continue to this day, "were turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
One of the converts in this time of blessing was Sarah A., a married woman of middle age, humble circumstances, and no education; but a person of stronger mind than many whose advantages were greater than hers. How she was first led to consider her fallen state, and solemn prospects for eternity, I do not at this distance of time remember; but her convictions and distress were so deep and long continued, as to leave an impression which no lapse of time could erase. Regular in her attendance on the preached word, and diligent in searching the Scriptures, she cried earnestly to God for mercy, and was always ready to listen to any Christian who would converse with her on the solemn question of how she was to be saved. For months her distress continued, amounting sometimes almost to agony; and nothing that was addressed to her seemed to afford the least relief. Her case became the subject of frequent and anxious conference among those who were laboring for the Lord; and often did they unite in prayer on her behalf, but still deliverance was delayed. The constant burden of Sarah A.'s complaint was the hardness of her heart.
“My heart is so hard," she would say; "I see what a sinner I have been, but I cannot feel it. I believe all you tell me, but though my sins stare me in the face, I cannot shed a tear; my heart is as hard as a stone. What is to become of me, poor, wretched, hardened sinner that I am?”
Often and often was she told that we are not justified by feeling, but by faith: that even faith justifies only as it receives Christ, and trusts in Him, in whom all the saving virtue dwells; while she, on the other hand, was trying to make a Savior of the softened, tender feelings after which she craved. I remember saying to her,
“Hard-hearted as you are, it was for such as you that Jesus died. Come to Him as you are. Bring your hard heart to Him. Behold the Lamb of God. One believing look to Jesus will do more to soften your heart than pouring over your sins and impenitence will do in a year. You wish for penitential feelings as a warrant for looking to Jesus and trusting in His precious blood; but depend upon it, if ever you have such feelings as you desire, they will be the effect of beholding Him by faith-of believing God's record of His Son.”
But all seemed to be in vain. While actually holding up before her the love of God in the gift of Jesus, and the love of Jesus in dying on the cross for His very foes, her attention would be fixed, and the hope awakened in one's breast that she was drinking in the good news. But no sooner did the sounds cease, than she would reply, with such a look of settled despondency,
“It is all true, but I can feel nothing; my heart is as hard as a stone!”
One day, when we had almost become accustomed to her despairing looks and accents, we were all startled by hearing that Sarah A. was rejoicing in the Lord. No time was lost in visiting her, to hear from herself how this change had come to pass. Its reality was apparent in her countenance, and in her whole demeanor. Her account was as follows:
“Last night was a dreadful night. Lying awake, and thinking of my sins, wondering how it was that I could neither feel them nor get rid of them, it seemed to me that God was quite giving me up to the hardness of my heart, and that there was nothing for me but the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched. What a night have I had! Towards morning I got upon my knees and began to cry to God. How long I continued I cannot tell; but what the Bible says about God so loving the world as to give His Son, and about Jesus dying on the cross, came to my mind, and somehow I began to think of His love, and I could think of nothing else. Before I was aware of it, my heart melted, and I found myself weeping to think of what Jesus had suffered for my sins. My tears flowed so fast, and yet they were not so much tears of sorrow as of joy. My load was gone, and I could only praise my Savior, and weep before Him, that He should have died for such a wretch as me. What love! to die upon the cross for such a wretch as me!”
Such was her account; and, she gave it, she who had never shed a tear when bemoaning the hardness of her heart, wept profusely as she dwelt upon the love of Christ, exclaiming, again and again,
“O the precious blood of Christ. That precious blood! It even avails for me!”
The change was as abiding as it was evident. It is many years now since the writer, from change of residence, lost sight of Sarah A.; but as long as he had the opportunity either of observing her or hearing of her, she was rejoicing in Christ, and enabled, amidst much outward trial, to adorn the doctrine of God, her Savior.
Dear reader, are you, like this poor woman, looking into yourself for some softening of heart, for some deeper sense of sin, before you trust your soul to Jesus? May you learn by her case, that the only way to have your hard heart softened, is to look to Jesus as you are.
“Behold the Lamb of God!" It was for sinners such as you that His blood was shed; and His "blood cleanseth us from all sin.”
Nothing but Thy blood, O Jesus,
Could relieve the sinner's smart;
Nothing else from guilt release us,
Nothing else could melt the heart.

Sense of sin doth only harden,
All the while it works alone;
But the grace that seals our pardon,
Soon dissolves a heart of stone.