If this is true, the New Testament has a meaning, and, what is more, we sinful men have a gospel. If it is not true, it is difficult to know why the New Testament was written, and still more difficult to know what we must do to be saved. It does not help to point us to the parable of the Prodigal Son, and tell us that there is a story of salvation without an atonement. The whole gospel cannot be put into a parable, not even into such a parable as this. Besides, if the argument proves anything, it proves too much. The parable is not only a story of salvation without an atonement, it is a story of salvation without Christ; and if no more is needed than what is given here, Christ Himself is no part of His own gospel, forgiveness can be had with no reference to Him. But it is not so the redeemed have learned Christ; it is not thus they have received forgiveness. They know that it is “in Him” they have their redemption, through His blood; and apart from Him there is no salvation and no gospel.
It is time to bring our reasonings to an end. We are under the shadow of the Cross; let us worship and adore. When Christ died on the tree nineteen hundred years ago, there were some that mocked, and some that watched and yet saw nothing—nothing but a miserable criminal’s miserable end; a few there were that wept, and one there was who cried, with lips already white with death, “Jesus, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom.” And still does that Cross divide men. Where is our place, and with whom are we? Not, I think, with them that mock; for these to-day are a broken and discredited few. We choose rather the centurion’s cry, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” But is this all we have to say? He who gave His life-blood for us, shall He have no more than this—the little penny-pieces of our respect? If we owe Him aught we owe Him all; and if we give Him aught let us give Him all—not our thanks but our souls. “He loved me, and gave Himself up for me”— there is the secret of the Cross which no man knows save he who cannot speak of it without the personal pronouns. Until then we are but as blind watchers that look and see not. “Jesus, remember me”—this is the word that becomes us best. Let us cry unto Him now, and He who heard the robber’s prayer on the Cross will hear and save us.
* * * * *
“Come, Holy Ghost, our
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the Anointing Spirit art,
Who dost Thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love:
Enable with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight;
Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of Thy grace;
Keep far our foes; give peace at home;
Where Thou art guide no ill