I Shall Lie Down Happy Tonight!

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
ONE day, while visiting the poor women in the workhouse of a large town, I was more disheartened than ever by the amazing ignorance and lack of interest shown by the poor creatures in the things which concern salvation. They lay there in the different stages of their various diseases, some in great pain, others in comparative ease, but almost all utterly careless of a future state. True, there were now and then bright spots in this dreary scene, and a little conversation with one of God's children (of whom a few are to be found even here) was most cheering and refreshing. But the greater number of those to whom I spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His glorious work for poor sinners, either turned the conversation to other topics-sufferings, troubles, or private affairs-or else, by their replies, showed they did not in the least understand what I was saying; or, by answering as they supposed I wished, thought to get rid of me the sooner. Feeling very much troubled by all this, I came to the bedside of one whom I knew to be a true believer in the Lord Jesus. She had lately had a stroke of paralysis, and though in some measure recovering, her speech was almost unintelligible. However, I understood that she would like me to read to her, which I did, taking part of the 9th and 10th chapters of Hebrews. We afterward had a little conversation together, and then I left her, much refreshed and strengthened for my work.
There lay a poor woman in the opposite bed, to whom I had never before spoken, but that day I went up to her, and asked her if she had found peace, or on what foundation she was building for salvation. She told me she was trying to do her best, and be a good woman; that she was ninety years old, and her mother had lived to be a hundred, and that she had never done any one any harm, and she thanked the Lord for having given her such a long life. "But," said I, "do you know what God said when He looked down out of heaven upon every one? He said, ‘There is none that doeth good; no, not one.' And, you know, He saw the good ones, as we call them, as well as the bad; and yet He said there was not one good." "Oh, no," said the old woman, "I know there are none good; I wouldn't trust in anybody." "Well, but, my friend," I said, "you are trusting to yourself to be good, though God says there are none good." She repeated once more that she would not trust any one; that she had done no harm, and had always tried to be a good woman; and all this in a sort of querulous, complaining voice. We had some further conversation, in which I endeavored to show her how useless works were towards the attainment of everlasting life; and at last I left her, more hopeless than ever, and strongly inclined to give up visiting at the workhouse, thinking it could not be the work intended for me. I laid the matter before the Lord, and asked Him to send me, if He would have me go, and the next week I went again. When the old woman recognized me, she began saying, " I have been thinking about what you told me, and I read the little book; and, oh, I'm ninety years old; do come and talk to me." These were the words, as nearly as I can remember. There was not a word this time about her attempts to make herself better, but the utmost agony at the thought of her great age, and consequent nearness to death, for which she felt herself unprepared. I therefore spoke to her of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and repeated to her several times the well-known lines-
" Nothing, either great or small-nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it-did it all-long, long ago."
The last two lines I said over many times as distinctly as possible, for the old woman was very deaf. I told her how the work had been all done for her more than eighteen hundred years ago; how the Lord Jesus Christ had "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," and that through this Man is preached the forgiveness of sins, &c. I spoke to her very earnestly in this way for some time-the poor creature sitting up in her bed silently listening, with a look of great interest. At last she lay back on her pillow, saying, in a tone of complete satisfaction and rest, " I shall lie down happy to-night!" Shortly after this I left her, feeling very much happier on her account, but scarcely daring to think she had already found rest in the Lord. On visiting her the next week, I inquired if she was still happy. She replied, "I have been happy ever since you told me." I asked, "What makes you happy; is it because you know all your sins are forgiven?" She said, "That's it; I've been happy ever since you told me." And then she began thanking and blessing me for having spoken to her, adding, in a childlike, simple manner, "and I don't think I should mind if I were to die now." I told her it was God who had sent her the message, and she must thank Him; and that now, indeed, she could bless Him for the long life He had given her, but more especially for having discovered Himself to her as a "just God and a Savior." The last time I saw her, before leaving the town, she was still happy, praising and blessing the Lord for having called her "out of darkness into his marvelous light."