‘And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.’ Luke 15:20
Suggested Further Reading: Mark 10:17–22
You have a desire towards God, and you would if you could, lay hold upon eternal life. But you feel too far off for anything like comfortable hope; now I must confess I feel many fears about you who are in this state; I am afraid lest you should come so far and yet go back; for there are many whom we thought had come as far as this, and yet they have gone back after all. Remember that desires after God will not change you so as to save you. You must find Christ. Remember that to say, ‘I will arise’ is not enough, nor even to arise; you must never rest till your Father has given you the kiss, till he has put on you the best robe. I am afraid lest you should rest satisfied and say, ‘I am in a bad state; the minister tells me that many are brought to such a state before they are saved. I will stop here.’ My dear friend, it is a good state to pass through, but it is a bad state to rest in. I pray you never be content with a sense of sin, never be satisfied with merely knowing that you are not what you ought to be. It never cures the fever for a man to know he has it; his knowledge is in some degree a good sign, for it proves that the fever has not yet driven him to delirium; but it never gives a man perfect health to know that he is sick. It is a good thing for him to know it, for he will not otherwise send for the physician; but unless it leads to that, he will die whether he feels himself to be sick or not.
For meditation: Do you use the excuse that you feel too far away from God? It won’t wash, because God is only a cry of faith away from you (Romans 10:6–9). The tax collector in the parable felt far from God, but he didn’t let that prevent him from crying for God’s mercy and receiving it (Luke 18:13–14).
Sermon no. 588
4 September (1864)