"'He that believeth on the SON of GOD hath the witness in himself.' I have often heard one man say of another who has been discussing a subject — 'Oh, he does not know what he has been talking about.' Now, I want to tell you something about which I know a good deal, for it is an experience of my own.
"Ten years ago, when I was a schoolboy, I first realized the LORD JESUS CHRIST as my personal SAVIOUR from the sins I had committed. I realized that He had died to wash my sins away; I accepted His salvation, but there I stopped. I did not recognize that He was to be my KEEPER, that He was to be my SAVIOUR from sin, present and future. No, I just accepted His salvation as a free gift, and then went on trying to keep myself. I tried to live better; but I was only trying in my own strength, and I failed.
"It was not long before I was trying to live both for GOD and mammon, to have all the advantages of the sacrifice of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and yet not willing to confess Him before my fellow men, nor to do anything for Him. I tried to get all the pleasure I could out of the world, and to rest happy that my sins had been forgiven. As a Christian I felt that there were some things that I ought not to do, and yet I had not strength to resist temptation when it came, because I was not looking to Jesus.
"About four years ago, I started in life, as men say. It had always been my ambition to go to the Bar, and so I began to read law. I had only been reading for a few months when I was overtaken by a very serious illness — an illness that had laid me on what, for some time, seemed to be my death-bed. Then it was I began to think of my past life, and I could not but see that it had been very unsatisfactory and full of ingratitude to GOD. I made resolutions, that, if GOD would raise me up, I would live a better life and begin to do some Christian work. But they were resolutions with reservations — I was not prepared to live entirely for God.
"In His infinite mercy GOD did raise me up, and I did begin to do a little Christian work but it was very little, done fitfully, and left undone when any small excuse offered. I went back to work at law, but I got ill again, and had to leave England for a time. I returned after a few months with fresh vigour to work, and settle down this time really for good, I thought; and after eighteen months' hard work I began to look forward to doing something in my profession. However, last October, I was again overtaken by illness, and was ordered to go away to Australia for the winter. I felt very despondent: it seemed as if I was never going to get on.
"At this time it was suggested to me that possibly I was not intended for the Bar. This suggestion, however, did not please as I was quite set on it; and I went away, hoping to get back to England in the spring, well, and equal to work at my profession. I spent four months in Australia, and was just starting again for home, when I got a letter from my brother [Mr. C. T. Studd] here, saying that if I would return by China he would come down to within a reasonable distance of the coast and see me. Right glad I was to get that letter, for I wanted to see my brother; I had not seen him for two years and a half, and I was not likely to meet him again for years. As I was getting near Shanghai, I began to think to myself I will not stay very long in China: my brother is so keen about missionary work, he will, perhaps, be persuading me to stay and go inland with him: and I did not want that.
"I arrived at Shanghai about ten days ago (on May 19th), and found to my surprise that my brother had come here to meet me. When it was suggested that I should stay with my brother at the Inland Mission House, I was somewhat alarmed; for I was afraid of being thrown too freely into the society of such earnest Christian workers. I did not know what they might not want me to do, and I was afraid of being identified too much with Christians by men of the world. Yes, I liked the good opinion of men; and the world does not like much real religion. Religion is tabooed even as a subject of conversation: it throws, I suppose, too strong a light on men's lives; and, as the Bible says, 'Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.'
"For the first day or two it was all right, though I could not help noticing the calm and the peace amongst the people with whom I was living. No troubles or difficulties seemed really to bother them. They had their trials and difficulties, but these did not seem to burden them. With me it was quite different: I was sometimes vexed and troubled by small petty things. I asked the secret of this peace, and was told, 'Oh, whenever we have a difficulty we lay it definitely before the LORD in prayer, and He always does according to His promise:— "Cast thy burden upon the LORD and He shall sustain thee."'
"That was all very well, but I did not understand it. I believed in prayer, but I knew nothing of it as such a power in everything.
"Unconsciously I began to wish that I might have this peace, this settled calm. I knew I had not got it myself, and I saw that it was something worth having. I began to ask how I might get it, and was told to submit myself entirely to the Lord Jesus, and trust Him for everything. I did not feel I could do that: I did not want to submit myself wholly. I did not know what it might lead to; it might lead to my going to missionary work in China, and I did not want to do that, as I was determined to go home and go back to the Bar. I then heard there were to be some revival meetings in Shanghai, and that made me quite determined to go away at once. I thought they might want me to take part in them, which I was afraid to do; so I took my passage in the Japan Mail starting on Friday last.
"However, I began to feel such a craving, such a hungering for this peace, that I made up my mind, at all costs, that I must have it; and after much prayer I surrendered myself to the Lord Jesus, trusting that He would make my will His own. That was on Wednesday; and since that time I have had such peace, such joy in my soul, that I cannot express it in words. I know it has made me feel altogether a different creature; and really, last Thursday and Friday, I could scarcely believe that I was not in a trance, that I should not suddenly wake up the old self; but no, thank GOD! it is no trance, but just this, the LORD JESUS CHRIST is my KEEPER. He kept me then, He keeps me now, and He will continue to keep, I know, so long as I trust Him.
"I now felt that I must confess before men what the LORD JESUS had done for me, and I do not hesitate to say I was frightened at that; standing up and confessing before men that I was on the LORD'S side. My stumbling-block through life had been fear of man. I liked to stand well with my fellow men; to be applauded by them; to have a good reputation; and I had always been afraid of being too religious, lest men should sneer and give me the cold shoulder; and, oh! I could not stand that.
"I still felt the fear of man, but I was trusting JESUS for everything, and so I just trusted Him to take that away from me and make me boldly confess Him. Thank GOD! He did answer my prayer, and I did confess on the platform on Thursday night in a few words what I had been, and what the LORD JESUS had now done for me.
"I was still going away by the Japan Mail next day; I was quite sure of that. But my first thought on Friday morning, even before I was half awake, was just this — 'You confessed last night that you had been a coward in the past, but henceforth you were going to stand up for JESUS, and now isn't it just like firing the first shot in the battle and then running away to shelter, if you go away to-day instead of waiting for those meetings?' I could not go away then. At once I went and got my passage transferred, and I am staying on here to tell out the story of GOD'S love to me.
"Now, I have not told you all this long story about my past life because I like talking about myself, or because I want to hold myself up as a good example to you, GOD forbid! You will admit it is not a nice thing to have to confess to cowardice. I feel I must testify to the infinite mercy and wondrous grace of GOD to me. It may be there are some here now who are in the same position as I was, afraid to come right out on the LORD'S side, because they fear what the world will say, what their friends will say — in fact, because they fear man rather than GOD; and this, too, after having come to JESUS for the forgiveness of their sins and having accepted from Him salvation as a free gift. Surely this is cowardice indeed.
"You may say I cannot overcome this fear of man; no, I do not suppose you can, in your own strength. I know I could not; but if you trust the LORD JESUS in this thing, He will overcome it for you. His strength will be made perfect in your weakness, if you will put yourself unreservedly into His hands. Oh! I wish I could make you believe what real joy and real peace you can find in JESUS if you only trust Him fully. The Christian's life is not an unhappy one then. I can now understand, what I never could fully before, the self-denial of my brother and others who have given up home and comforts in order to preach the Gospel in China, and to live as Chinamen. Why, I see now it is truly their greatest pleasure to tell of the love of JESUS, to be always on His service — it is no hardship to them — they have given up a sham that they might obtain a reality. Their sole aim now, and I pray GOD that mine may be for the future, is to be telling of the love of the LORD JESUS, and of the salvation which He is offering to every man who will only believe. Do not let anyone here now refuse that salvation because he is afraid of what his fellow men will say. DO TRUST JESUS, AND TRUST HIM FULLY.
"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
From Days of Blessing in Inland China, 2nd ed., 1887.