I have found the blogosphere to be somewhat slow around the weekend, so I have decided to post some kind of edifying work from the past on Saturdays.
This post continues a series from J.C. Ryle (1816-1900, Bishop of the Anglican Church): "Forgiveness." It is a wonderful, gospel-centered work. Here is the first part, the second part, the third part, the fourth part, the fifth part, and the sixth part.
1. And now, before I conclude, let me put a home [close] question to every one who reads this paper. It shall be short and plain, but it is all important: “Are you forgiven?”
I have told you all I can about forgiveness. Your need of forgiveness, — the way of forgiveness, — the encouragements to seek forgiveness, — the marks of having found it, — all have been placed before you. Bring the whole subject to bear upon your own heart, and ask yourself, “Am I forgiven? Either I am, or I am not. Which of the two is it?”
You believe perhaps, there is forgiveness of sins. You believe that Christ died for sinners, and that He offers a pardon to the most ungodly. But are you forgiven yourself? Have you yourself laid hold on Christ by faith, and found peace through His blood? What profit is there to you in forgiveness, except you get the benefit of it? Except you lay hold for your own soul, you will be as surely lost as if there was no forgiveness at all.
If ever your sins are to be forgiven, it must be now, — now in this life, if ever in the life to come, — now in this world, if they are to be found blotted out when Jesus comes again the second time. There must be actual business between you and Christ. Your sins must be laid on Him by faith: His righteousness must be laid on you. His blood must be applied to your conscience, or else your sins will meet you in the Day of Judgment, and sink you into hell.
Oh, how can you trifle when such things are at stake? How can you be content to leave it uncertain whether you are forgiven? Surely that a man can make his will, insure his life, give directions about his funeral, and yet leave his soul's affairs in uncertainty, is a wonderful thing indeed.
2. Let me next give a solemn warning to every one who reads this paper, and knows in his conscience he is not forgiven.
Your soul is in awful danger. You may die this year. And if you die as you are, you are lost for ever. If you die without pardon, without pardon you will rise again at the last day. There is a sword over your head which hangs by a single hair. There is but a step between you and death. Oh, I wonder that you can sleep quietly in your bed!
You are not yet forgiven. Then what have you got by your religion? You go to church. You have a Bible, you have a Prayer-book, and perhaps a Hymnbook. You hear sermons. You join in services. It may be you go to the Lord 's Table. But what have you really got after all? Any hope? Any peace? Any joy? Any comfort? Nothing: literally nothing! You have got nothing but mere temporal things, if you are not a pardoned soul.
You are not yet forgiven. But you trust God will be merciful. Yet why should He be merciful if you will not seek Him in His own appointed way? Merciful He doubtless is, wonderfully merciful to all who come to Him in the name of Jesus. But if you choose to despise His directions, and make a road to heaven of your own, you will find to your cost there is no mercy for you.
You are not yet forgiven. But you hope you will be some day. I cannot away with [endure] that expression. It is like thrusting off the hand of conscience, and seizing it by the throat to stop its voice. Why are you more likely to seek forgiveness at a future time? Why should you not seek it now? Now is the time for gathering the bread of life. The day of the Lord is fast drawing near, and then no man can work (Exo 26:26). The Seventh trumpet will soon sound. The kingdoms of this world will soon become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev 11:15). Woe to the house which is found without the scarlet line, and without the mark of blood upon the door! (Jos 2:18; Exo 12:13). Well, you may not feel your need of forgiveness now. But a time may come when you will want it. The Lord in mercy grant that it may not then be too late.