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I know there's double meaning in your words, and you are making an under-cover hit at my soul. Now am I not right in the present instance, sir?"
“Quite right, Allen, When you said you were doing today's work to-day, I felt I was not mistaken in my man, and that you had all the wisdom and good sense I gave you credit for.”
Edgar Allen shook his head, and muttered something about not understanding what I was driving at.
"Why, simply this, Allen : yesterday's work is done, and cannot be undone ; to-morrow's work you may not be alive to do; it is therefore clear that your only wise course is to set about to-day's in right good earnest.”
“And ain't I doing that, master?” said Edgar, energetically moistening his hands preparatory to renewing his work, “I'll tell you what, sir; if Edgar Allen had not pretty well looked after his to-days, he never would have been topsawyer in Squire Furlong's yard, as you find him to-day,"
“ And as I ought to find him, too, for he deserves the place," I replied, casting a look of admiration on the fine pliant figure standing above me ; " but, my friend, are you sure you are looking after your to-days from the highest point? Remember, to-day, as you reckon it, is but a question of time, but when reckoned as God would have you reckon, it becomes a question for eternity. Your to-day's work as regards eternity (or, in plain words, as regards your soul) is to do that which admits of no to-morrow. Other hands may quickly fill up your post here, if the morrow should come and find you wanting, but not so with soul work ; when once the awful to-morrow of death puts a stop to that, it must be, as the psalm says, for ever;"? and yet there is so vastly important a work to be done, that to leave doing it seems almost an act of madness.”
“Never fear; I'm as safe as most folks. To-morrows come to my neighbours all right, and why not to me, I should like to know?”
1 Psa. xlix. 8.
“Oh, Edgar, that is the foolish old tale. If you are as safe as most people who stake their precious souls on tomorrow, why not be safer, by looking after yours to-day? Why need you run risks, because your neighbours do ?”
Here Edgar, with a gesture of impatience, laid his hands on the saw, and I had only just time to say, “ You are a workman that needeth not to be ashamed 'l in this world's work, why not be the same towards the next?” when he and his fellow recommenced their labour, and I had to wait till breathing-time came round again to add a few words, beseeching him to attend to that momentous work which is as simple as it is saving, and summed up in these Bible words:
“This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.' 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'”2
“Why, sir, excuse me, but how contradictious you preaching folk are; one time telling a poor fellow he has nothing to do with working for salvation, and another time telling him he must work like a top-sawyer !"
“ Edgar, I can only repeat what God's Word tells me ; that is, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; and I ask you, as a sensible man, can you possibly work out that which you have not begun ?”
“Certainly not, sir; still, I can in no ways reconcile the working and not working."
6 Well, then, it is a comfort that you are not wanted to reconcile' them, for the plain reason, it needs no reconcilement. Because we make mistakes over God's plan of salvation, placing difficulties where He does not, our folly does not mar the beauty of His work. If you read the text I have quoted, you will see it goes on to say, after telling you to work out your own salvation,’ ‘for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.'3 The work of salvation is, so to speak, two-fold. God's work is to offer salvation for Jesus's sake ; man's work is to take salvation for Jesus's sake; but inasmuch as he has no power 12 Tim. ii. 15.
? John vi. 29 ; Acts xvi. 31.
3 Phil. ii, 12, 13.
of himself even to take what God offers, God sends the Holy Spirit into his soul to enable and help him to receive the gift of God, which is eternal life in His dear Son. The Holy Spirit must be the power within him to open his eyes to see the gift, to quicken his heart to long for it, and then to impart the strength of faith to grasp the gift, and make it his very own, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Do you see, Edgar, that this is working from first to last? but it is work that takes nothing from the glory and honour of God, for it is He who works in us first to will, and then to do.”
“I see !" cried Edgar Allen, with a shout of joy ; “it is just like this: there's my saw working on day after day, but it is I myself that is shooting it. Ne'er a plank would it take off if left to itself, I see it! There's a moving power wanted; and what that lifeless saw wants to move it, I need to move me. And yet I talk of my saw doing a good day's work !”
And Edgar rubbed his eyes, as though he were removing some impediment to clear sight; then, turning towards me, he said with some emotion :
“Ah, it will be the best day's work that Edgar Allen ever did, when he yields himself to that blessed moving power that you speak of, that will lead him as a poor sinner to take the gift of God.”
“But why delay, Edgar? Why should it not be this very day's work ?"
"I don't know," said Allen, sheepishly. “God will not be more willing to
morrow than He is to-day.”
“I know that,” he whispered. “The Lord Jesus will not be more willing.” “I know that too, sir." “The Holy Spirit will not be more willing to help you.” “I know that,” for the third time he answered.
And, oh, listen, my friend : to-morrow you will not be more willing; the fearful chances are, you may be less willing to be saved than you now are.”
“Nay, sir, the Lord grant against that! The truth is, I
am a bit taken aback; here I thought I was a top-sawyer ; and when I come to look into the question, I find I am of no account in the way of saving myself !”
“But that is a blessed ' finding out, if it leads you to call on Him who is able to save you. It was when we were yet without strength'l that Christ died for us. You are, therefore, just in a fit state for the salvation He only waits to bestow. Salvation with which you have nothing to do but to take it, and then to prove, or show that you have it by your outer walk and conversation, which must bear the mark of change from death to life, and from darkness to light.”
The sawyers' muster-bell here sounded, and in a moment the yard was cleared of the men, amongst whom Edgar Allen disappeared ; and we did not meet again, for I was that evening summoned to another part of the country; but if this narrative should meet his eye, I trust it may remind him, as I pray it may remind you, my reader, that there is a work of thrilling importance to be attended to to-day-and that is, to place our eternal safety beyond a doubt. A work that can be only done in God's own way, through God's own means, and in God's own time; that way being the Saviour Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life ;"'2 the means being through the Holy Spirit, Who draws, or brings us to Jesus; whilst the time is To-day, Now!
To-day, if ye will hear His voice ;"3 “Now is the accepted
The veil from mortals' days.
To One alone was given ;
By which the cloud is riven.
3 Heb. iv. 7.
2 Cor, vi. 2.
He viewed the depths of sin unveiled
And woes to us unknown:
Which did for sin atone.
The mocking tempter said ; “Ah, Holy One! Thy soul doth shrink
Amid these scenes of dread.
“Behold Thy loved ones led to death
Through every form of woe;
Beneath the tyrant's blow.
'Tis Thine its depths to sound ; The ocean of iniquity
In which Thy world. lieś drowned.
“Thine earth, that once was brightly fair,
Made for the pure and true,
And guilt of blood-red hue.
A gloomy shadow falls :
Without the city walls.
“Led forth, by traitor's kiss betrayed, .
To die a death of shame,
And fear to own Thy name.
Shall place upon Thy brow;
Their wrath doth burn e'en now.
“With loud outcry shall these demand
The murderer's release;
Where sin doth never cease.
Of those who darkly wait
Beyond the city gate?