The Gospel of Whosoever
Now, I like to proclaim the gospel, because it is to be proclaimed to all. When I see a poor drunkard, when I see a thief, when I see a prisoner in yonder prison, it is a grand, glorious thing, to go and proclaim to him the glad tidings, because I know he can be saved. There is not one that has gone so far or fallen so low but that he can be saved; because every one of God’s proclamations are headed “whosoever.” That takes in all; nobody is left out. Somebody said he had rather have “whosoever,” than his own name, because he would be afraid it was some other man who might have had his name.
This was well brought out in a prison the other day, when the chaplain said to me, “I want to tell you a scene that occurred here some time ago. Our commissioners went to the Governor of the state and got him to give his consent to pardon out five men for good behavior. The Governor said the record was to be kept in secret; the men were to know nothing about it, and at the end of six months the men were brought out, the roll was called, and the president of the commission came up and spoke to them; then putting his hands in his pocket he drew out the papers, and said to those 1,100 convicts, ‘I hold in my hand pardons for five men.’ I never witnessed anything like it. Every man held his breath, and it was as silent as death. Then the commissioners went on to tell how they got these pardons; how it was that the Governor had given them,” and the chaplain said the suspense was so great that he spoke up to the commissioner and told him to first read the names of those pardoned, before he spoke further, and the first name read out was, “Reuben Johnson will come out and get his pardon.” He held out the paper, but no one came. He looked all around, expecting to see a man spring to his feet at once; still no one arose, and he turned to the officer of the prison, and said: “Are all the convicts here?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Then, Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon.” The real Reuben Johnson was all this time looking around to see where Reuben was; and the chaplain beckoned to him, and he turned and looked around and behind him, thinking some other man must be meant. A second time he beckoned to Reuben, and called to him, and a second time the man looked around to see where Reuben was, until at last the chaplain said to him, “You are the man, Reuben;” and he got up out of his seat and sank back again, thinking it could not be true. He had been there for nineteen years, having been placed there for life, and when he came up and took his pardon, he could hardly believe his eyes, and he went back to his seat and wept like a child; and then, when the convicts were marched back to their cells, Reuben had been so long in the habit of falling into line, and taking the lockstep with the rest, that he fell into his place, and the chaplain had to say, “Reuben, come out, you are a free man.”
As I was talking last night in the inquiry-room, a man tried to tell me that he had made many mistakes, but had committed no sins. They were all mistakes, instead of sins. Better call things by their right names. We have all sinned. There is none righteous; and there is no man that has walked the streets that has not broken the law of God. Therefore, all need a Savior; and there is no chance of one being saved, no hope of man being saved, unless he will admit first that he has sinned and is lost. Of course, if a man has not sinned he won’t need a Savior; but it is just because we have sinned that we need the gospel. Now, as I stated last night, the gospel is the very best tidings that could come to us.
In Glasgow, they were telling me of a scene that occurred when Dr. Arnott was preaching there. A woman was in great distress about her rent. She could not pay it, and so he took some money and went around to the house – went to the door and knocked. He listened, and thought he heard the footsteps of some one inside; and so he knocked louder. No one came, and he knocked still louder; but after waiting some time he went away disappointed. A few days afterward he met this lady on the street at Glasgow, and told her that he heard she had been in great distress and he went around to help her; and the woman threw up both hands and said, “Why, doctor, that was not you, was it? I was in the house all the time and I thought it was the landlord coming around to get the rent; and I kept the door bolted.” Now, Christ comes to bless. He doesn’t come to demand; He don’t come to ask you to do something that you cannot do. He comes to bless you. When he commenced his Sermon on the Mount, what did he say? “Blessed! Blessed! Blessed!” When he got ready to go back to heaven, he raised his hands over that little company and breathed upon them blessings. And so, my friends, he comes into this building to-night to bless you; to help you; He offers to be your salvation; He offers to pay all the debt you owe. You owe God a debt you cannot pay. Can you forget this? You have broken the law of God. What are you going to do with the sins you have committed?
~ This is from “The Gospel II” in The Gospel Awakening