"How shall I be happy?" was the question of a weary soul who had tried a hundred different ways of happiness, and had always failed.
"Secure the favor of God," was the prompt answer, by one who had himself tasted that the "Lord is gracious."
"Is there no other way of being happy?"
"None, none," was the quick and decided reply. "Man has been trying other ways for six thousand years, and has utterly failed, and are you likely to succeed?"
"No, not likely; and I don't want to go on trying. But this favor of God seems such a shadowy thing, and God Himself so far off, that I know not which way to turn."
"God's favor is no shadow; it is real beyond all other realities; and He Himself is the nearest of all near beings, as accessible as He is gracious."
"That favor of which you speak has always seemed to me a sort of mist, of which I can make nothing."
"Say rather it is sunshine which a mist is hiding from you."
"Yes, yes, I believe you; but how shall I get through the mist into the sunshine beyond? It seems so difficult and to require such a length of time!"
"You make that distant and difficult which God has made simple and near and easy."
"Are there no difficulties, do you mean to say?"
"In one sense, a thousand; in another, none."
"How is that?"
"Did the Son of God put difficulties in the sinner's way when He said to the multitude, 'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest'?"
"Certainly not; He meant them to go at once to Him, as He stood there, and as they stood there, and He would give them rest."
"Had you then been upon the spot, what difficulties should you have found?"
"None, certainly; to speak of difficulty when I was standing by the side of the Son of God would have been folly, or worse."
"Did the Son of God suggest difficulty to the sinner when He sat on Jacob's well, by the side of the Samaritan? Was not all difficulty anticipated or put away by these wondrous words of Christ, 'thou wouldst have asked, and I would have given'?"
"Yes, no doubt; the asking and the giving was all. The whole transaction is finished on the spot. Time and space, distance and difficulty, have nothing to do with the matter; the giving was to follow the asking as a matter of course. So far all is plain. But I would ask: Is there no barrier here?"
"None whatever, if the Son of God really came to save the lost; if He came for those who were only partly lost, or who could partly save themselves, the barrier is infinite. This I admit; nay, insist upon."
"Is the being lost, then, no barrier to our being saved?"
"Foolish question, which may be met by a foolish answer. Is your being thirsty a hindrance to your getting water or is being poor a hindrance to your obtaining riches as a gift from a friend?"
"True; it is my thirst that fits me for the water and my poverty that fits me for the gold."
"Ah, yes, the Son of Man came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. If you be not wholly a sinner, there is a barrier; if you be wholly such, there is none!"
"Wholly a sinner! Is that really my character?"
"No doubt of that. If you doubt it, go and search your Bible. God's testimony is that you are wholly a sinner, and must deal with Him as such, for the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."
"Wholly a sinner, well!--but must I not get quit of some of my sins before I can expect blessing from Him?"
"No, indeed; He alone can deliver you from so much as even one sin; and you must go at once to Him with all that you have of evil, how much so ever that may be. If you be not wholly a sinner, you don't wholly need Christ, for He is out and out a Saviour; He does not help you to save yourself, nor do you help Him to save you. He does all, or nothing. A half salvation will only do for those who are not completely lost. He 'His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.' " (1 Peter 2:24)