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Nothing Left For You To Do

[ The Words of an old MONK. ]

A young man somewhere in Europe was heard to preach the Gospel to a bookseller so clearly and so earnestly that he followed him out and asked him how and where he had learned the Gospel so fully and plainly. "I learnt it," answered the young man, "just in the very last place in the world where you would have expected me to have heard it," and then he told his story.

Though he would always call himself a Catholic, he had really no religion at all. Accordingly he spent his time in pleasing himself and became so notoriously wicked that none amongst his companions would have dared to have sinned so boldly as he; yet, strange to say, it was this extraordinary wickedness which God used to awaken his conscience. It struck him one day, "It may be true after all that there is an eternal punishment for sinners." He had heard of the Judgment and the Lake of Fire and he thought, "if anyone is ever to be there, it must be myself; for I have never seen or heard anyone who has sinned as I have done." He was still quite young and had delighted in his sinful life; but this thought so terrified him that he suddenly left his sinful companions and gave himself up to despair. He began to think how sinners might be saved by entering a monastery, and doing penance, and a faint hope rose within him that by that means it might just be possible to escape eternal punishment, and have in exchange, perhaps, some thousands or millions of years in purgatory; but to gain favour with God, it would be necessary to do more penance than anyone had ever done before.

He had heard of the La Trappe Monastery in Sicily, which was said to have rules more severe than any other in the world. The monks got up at a quarter to two or even at midnight, for services in the chapel, and after a frugal meal they went forth to hard work in the fields, there to endure heat and cold and storms, and never to change their clothes to suit the weather. They slept on hard knotted ropes which was called a bed. There were many other hardships undertaken, but when the young man heard of such a convent he was filled with joy and determined to go at once and offer himself to the monks. He was very poor, so he decided to travel the hundreds of miles on foot.

He found himself at last across the Straits of Messina, and a little more weary walking brought him to the old convent with its gloomy walls. He was very tired and worn out by the time he stood at the postern gate and rang the bell. The gate was slowly opened by an old monk who seemed scarcely able to move. The old man asked him what he wanted. "I want to be saved," was the reply. The old monk looked kindly at him and led him into a little room near the gate, where they were alone.

"Now tell me what you mean," said the old man, "I would like to hear your history." The young German told his sad story. He continued, "I have been a far greater sinner than anyone I have ever heard of. I do not think it is possible that I can be saved. But anything that can be done I am willing to do, if only I may have a faint hope at last that I may, perhaps, escape eternal punishment; but it must be by spending all the rest of my life in penance, and the harder it is the more I shall be thankful, if I may do it. Only tell me what I am to do, and I will do it gladly."

"If you will do what I tell you," replied the old monk, "you will go back to Germany, for there has been One down here Who has done the whole work in your place before you came, and He has finished it. He did it instead of you, so there is NOTHING LEFT FOR YOU TO DO. IT IS ALL DONE."

The young German knew not what to make of these wonderful words. "Who has done it?" he asked. "Did you ever hear of the Lord Jesus Christ?" asked the old man. "Yes , of course I have heard of Him." "Do you know where He is now?" continued the old man. "Yes, of course, I know He is in Heaven," replied the German. " But tell me," said the old monk, looking earnestly into his face, "do you know why He is in Heaven?" "No , except that He is always in Heaven." "He was not always in Heaven," said the old man. "He came down here to do the work that you want to do yourself; He came down here to bear the punishment of your sin. He is in Heaven now because the work is done. If it were not so He would still be here, for He came down to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; and if anything remained to be done, He would still be here, for He undertook to do the whole work Himself, and He has gone back to Heaven because He has done it. Do you know that He said upon the Cross "IT IS FINISHED?" The young man asked, "What was finished?" The reply came, "It is the work you want to begin; and now if you want to add the crowning sin to your wicked life, and do something worse than you have done before, you may stay here and cast contempt upon the blessed, perfect work of the Son of God, and take upon yourself to do what He only could do, and what He has done and finished. It will be as much as saying, Christ has not done enough and I must add to the work that He has declared to be finished."

"I have to stay here for I am very old and I can only walk to the gate. I must stay here till the Lord takes me to Heaven. But you can go, and I entreat you to go back at once to your friends, and to tell them all that the Lord has done for you. You may stay here three days, and I will tell you all I can during that time about the Lord Jesus Christ, and then you must go."

"As a guilty sinner, I acknowledged my sin to God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal substitute and Saviour. (Read John 3:36)

"And so," said the German, when he had finished his strange story, "I did remain there three days, and the old man told me more about the work done by the Lord Jesus on the Cross. And so I came back to Germany, and from that day on I have told anyone who will listen , the blessed news of the perfect work of Christ."

The true story you have just read illustrates what happened to the jailor in Acts Ch16. He asked Paul and Silas "what must I do to be saved?" They both answered " BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and thou shalt be SAVED."

The following lines of a Hymn can be the expression of anyone in our day too:

Jesus dying on the tree
Means the sentence passed on me
Has descended on His head,
And that He has died instead.

Jesus dying on the tree
Means - and O, how blest to see-
That believing, I'm forgiven,
White as snow, and meet for Heaven.

One of the most beautiful records of the gospel being preached is in Acts. 13:38. The Apostle Paul says; Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through THIS MAN(the Lord JESUS) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And by HIM all that BELIEVE are Justified.

Will you TRUST Christ to-day?

R.B.
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