“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it”—Isaiah 30:21.
Watch him, for the voice is calling again, and he is every now and then turning his ear round as if he wanted to hear it. “Return, return, return.” He smites upon his breast and cries, “Would God I could return; I will return, for I cannot perish; I cannot let things go as once I did; I cannot leave everything to take its own way while I take my chance. No, I must have Christ or else I die, and I must have him soon, or else I shall seal my eternal destiny, and prove a castaway for ever. O God, call again, call again; keep on calling, till I come; for lo, my spirit answers, ‘Draw me, and I will run after thee.’ When thou saidst unto me, ‘Seek ye my face,’ my heart said unto thee, ‘Thy face, Lord, will I seek.'”
What will be the last stage of this inner work? Since the man dares not go any further in this wrong way, what is he to do? He cannot turn to the right or to the left, for God has hedged up his way with thorns. Now, listen to what he will say, “I will return unto my first husband, for it was better with me then than now.” This poor soul looks on him whom he pierced. He did not know he was piercing his Redeemer; but now he sees it all, and while his eyes begin to stream with tears, he turns unto this Christ upon the cross, and finds life while looking at him. See him get up and feel as if he did not know what to do with himself as he cries,
“Blest cross; blest sepulchre; blest rather be
The man that here did shed his blood for me.”
Now he enquires, “Which is my way? Speak, sweet voice; speak, sweet voice; tell me which is my way.” And now the voice moves and speaks in front of him; for shepherds go before their sheep. The man looks and sees the Crucified One with pierced hands and feet leading the way, and he delights to follow him: ay, and he shall follow him until at the last he shall see his face in glory everlasting. Redeemed by blood and rescued by power eternal, and brought home to the great Shepherd’s fold, to go no more out for ever, the sinner shall be filled with gladness. Listen, then, listen, ye that have turned your backs on God! Infinite mercy woos you, boundless compassion entreats you to be saved. Turn ye; turn as you are, all black and filthy and bemired; tarry not to mend or wash, but come to Jesus all unholy and unclean, without a single sound speck upon your leprous frame, utterly lost and ruined. Christ died for such as you. I say again, tarry not to improve yourselves, but come now, while mercy’s voice incites you, while the Holy Ghost not only entreats, but sweetly constrains. Come and welcome, sinners, come. The Lord bless you. Amen.