By A.C. Dixon
THERE is a great magnet in a college laboratory so strong in its drawing power that it can lift from the floor, two feet distant, over two hundred pounds of solid iron. The cold steel that has this magnetic power has been magnetized by electric current.
There is something in Jesus Christ on the Cross that makes Him very attractive to penitent sinners. We might say in a word that He has been made magnetic by the currents of His love and sympathy and compassion and mercy that have flowed from Him toward us. Certainly there is something in Christ that draws ; and there is something in us that causes us to be drawn, as there is something in that big magnet which draws the iron, and something in the iron that makes it responsive to the magnet. It does not draw wood, nor stone. There is something in the soft iron that responds to the magnetism of the great magnet.
As the Holy Spirit may help us, we would analyze the magnetism of the Cross of Christ, and see what it is composed of; and look for a few moments at the glory of it. "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Can we see cause for glorying in the magnetism of our Saviour on Calvary? At least four things make up this magnetism.
I. THE SENSE OF GUILT. -There is in the heart of every man or woman, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, a sense of guilt and condemnation. Bunyan made it a heavy pack on the back of Pilgrim; and he did not lose it until he reached the Cross of Christ. When we realize how guilty sin is, and how condemned is the sinner, we begin to feel the weight of that load.
In Jesus Christ on the Cross there is forgiveness, with the power to remove the guilt; a power different from any judicial power on earth. You may forgive a man who has injured you, but you can never remove his guilt. If he has lied against you, that lie stands forever; it cannot be removed. He may beg your pardon, and you may forgive him, but the fact remains that he is guilty. If he commits murder, he may be pardoned by the proper authority; but the fact of murder remains there, with its guilt.
Now, in Jesus Christ on the Cross there is the power to forgive and at the same time remove the guilt; so that when the blood pronounces forgiveness, there is no condemnation-the guilt of the sinner is gone; and to one who realizes the sense of guilt there is a great attraction in Him who can forgive and take away that guilt.
I had the sorrow once of being compelled to attend the execution of a man who was the son of one of my Church members. A wicked, wayward boy he was; and he had committed at least three crimes for which death was the penalty. At his request I went to the Governor of the State, just because the Governor had power to pardon. I laid the case before him the best I could; and I could see that he was deeply touched with sympathy for the godly mother and the Christian sisters, and the shame it caused the family. But he could not let his sympathy run away with His judgment and his sense of justice to the rest of the community. He shook his head sorrowfully and said: "I would like to accommodate you, sir, but I cannot do it. If I pronounce the word that pardons that man, he will remain the guilty murderer and rake that he was, and that he is, and he will go into the community to do harm. It is not just to the rest of the people." He could pardon, but he could not remove the tendency to sin; but he was very attractive to the poor criminal, just because he could pardon. Now, in Jesus Christ on the Cross there is the power to forgive and to remove guilt; and that makes Him very attractive to a sin-burdened soul.
II. THE SENSE OF DEFILEMENT. -In the heart convicted of sin there is a sense of uncleanness. Sin is not only guilty, but it is vile; it pollutes. When you have, with the sense of guilt, the sense of uncleanness, are you not attracted to "the fountain open for all uncleanness," to the power that can cleanse and make you whiter than snow? If there is in Jesus Christ on the Cross a power that can take the defilement out of your heart and remove it from your soul, is there not a magnetism in the uplifted Christ that will draw you unto Him?
III. THE SENSE OF DANGER. -There is in sin not only guilt and defilement, but also danger. Sin is dangerous. It pursues us like a wild beast; it is always on our track. It destroys many a body and many a soul, and wrecks many a life. Unless there is some way of protecting one's self, some refuge from the power of sin, we are in danger in this world and the world to come.
Now, in Jesus Christ on the Cross there is refuge; there is safety; there is shelter; and all the power of sin upon our track cannot reach us when we have taken shelter under the Cross that atones for our sins.
IV. THE SENSE OF DISEASE. -There is in sin not only guilt and uncleanness and danger, but disease. Disease shows itself sometimes by pain, sometimes by paralysis, sometimes by a sense of weakness. Some diseases, you know, are indicated by pain. Such pain is benevolent; it tells you what is the matter, driving you to the physician. Other diseases are indicated by deadness of nerves, by paralysis; others, again, by just a sense of weakness in the body. If you realize that you are ill because you are suffering pain; or because you have paralysis creeping upon you; or because you have a sense of weakness that unfits you for service-would you not be attracted to a 'physician who could cure or to a medicine that was a real remedy? In Jesus Christ on the Cross there is the remedy for this disease.
The blood that He shed for us cures sin of its power to kill as a disease of the soul.
Let us put all four together-sin as guilt, uncleanness, danger and disease. God gives us a sense of it all in our souls; and yonder uplifted on Calvary is the One who can take away guilt, can remove uncleanness, can avert danger, can cure disease. Are we not attracted to Him? Is He not made magnetic by the fact that He can forgive sin and remove its guilt, that He can take away the defilement of sin, that He can protect us from the danger of sin, and that He can cure us of the disease of sin?
So much now, in this meager way, for the analysis of the magnetism of the Cross of Christ. But what of the glory of it? Is there reason for glorying in it?
Is there glory in being able to forgive? If somebody has done you an injury, there is certainly more glory in forgiving than in fostering malice and hatred. It is the noble nature that forgives. When you see a man forgive another in the spirit of Jesus Christ, you feel like honoring him for it. It is an index to a nature that is noble. And if you could find a man that had power not only to forgive, but remove guilt, he would be a man of glory among penitent criminals. If we could find a man like that and place him in the jails and prisons of earth, among men who knew they were guilty of crime, and make them believe that he had the power not only to pardon, but to take the criminality out of their natures, with all the shame of their sin, and put them back in the place of honour they occupied before they committed crime, I tell you, he would be popular among them! They would be willing to build him a monument, giving him all the glory they could. And when we realize that Jesus Christ has forgiven us, and taken away our guilt, with the shame of sin, we feel like glorifying Him in our spirits and our bodies which are His.
As to cleansing-is there not glory in making people clean? Some one has said that the greatest benefactor this world ever saw was the man who invented soap, for soap is one of the factors of civilization, marking it off from savagery. We honour the man who tells us how to be physically clean; but how much more worthy of honour is the man who teaches the world how to be morally clean, spiritually clean, to have a clean imagination, a clean conscience, a clean taste, and a clean soul? Such a man should have a monument that will touch the stars. That is what Jesus Christ has done in making Himself magnetic on the Cross by His sacrificial love. He has gained for Himself the glory not only of removing guilt, but of removing defilement and uncleanness from every one who will trust Him.
As to danger-is there any honour to the man who makes it safe for us to live in the community? Any honour to the man who protects us from danger? We have a way of honoring the policeman, the man who represents the law, who looks after our homes. We hold meetings to speak a word of glory for him, because in his watchful care he makes it safe to live in cities, in the midst of forces that would destroy our homes, if not our lives. Shall we give honour and glory to the men who make it safe to live here, and not honour Jesus Christ, who gives us protection from sin, assuring us of safety for time and for eternity?
As to disease-is there not glory in curing disease? Why, you glorify your family doctor! If he cures you once, you brag of him the rest of your life! If he just cures your headache you will say, "Thank you!" If he relieves you of pain or weakness you feel grateful to him. When a man shows that he is a skilful physician, he begins at once to be honored. Great physicians and great surgeons are highly honored. Those who have been healed by them delight in giving them due glory.
Young Walter Reed, whose biography was written by a famous surgeon, demonstrated that yellow fever was propagated only by the mosquito, and was not contagious. Under the authority of the United States Government, quarters were prepared in a lonely place; mosquitoes were brought into the room and permitted to bite the yellow-fever patient, and then by their bite to transfer the poison to the man who was well. Every one of those young men was taken ill as the result of the bite of the mosquito, and they proved by a series of experiments that lasted through many months that it is impossible to give yellow fever in any other way. You cannot catch it from another patient.
One of the young men lost his life in the experiment, and his memory has been cherished, the medical profession giving him the glory of a martyr's crown in the interest of science. He is specially honored in Havannah and New Orleans, where the yellow fever was for so many years a grievous scourge.
'Such men people are willing to glorify in the books they write and the monuments they erect. Shall Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, heal the soul of the bite of sin that brings eternal death, and do it by the sacrifice of His own life, and yet have no glory? Will you give Him no glory, no response of gratitude and praise in your soul for such a gift and such a salvation?
I ask you to join with me in singing the "Glory Song" in your hearts to Him who takes away guilt, defilement, danger and disease, while He gives us complete freedom from sin in its condemning, defiling, destructive and afflictive power.