Featured Article from Youthful Days
I wonder when you last used a dictionary. I have always disliked using one, and I was such a bad speller that I often could not begin to find the words that I wanted. I would look for words like ‘phantom’ under the letter ‘F’ instead of ‘P’, and would try to find ‘subtle’ under ‘suttle’.
One of the greatest dictionaries, and also one of the first, was produced by a man called Samuel Johnson. He was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and became very famous not only as a man who knew a lot about words and their various meanings, but also as a great talker. Much of his life he spent in London, and, whilst living in a house in Gough Square, EC4, his dictionary was put together over about six years.
Long before he became famous for his dictionary, and when he was still living at home, his father had asked him to help him with the bookstall at the Uttoxeter market. Young Samuel had refused. He hated the stall and it hurt his pride to have to help there.
Years later, when he was in middle age, he felt guilty about this, and one day when he was staying in Lichfield he felt the need to make some kind of recompense. He records himself what he did: “I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bareheaded in the rain on the spot where my father’s stall used to stand.” He added that he hoped the penance was sufficient.
How often when we feel guilty about something we act in the same way. We think that, if we do something uncomfortable it will somehow wipe out the guilt. This kind of activity may make us feel good for a while, but it does nothing to really get rid of our sins. The only way that our sins can be dealt with is by coming to Jesus, owning up to our past and recognising that only He can meet our need. Everyone who has ever come to know peace about their past has had to find it that way.
It is what the Bible tells us. “We have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Have you that kind of peace? We often try for a long time to find peace for the past in our own way, and we can dream up many strange ways! Yet only God can forgive sins. Only He can cleanse us from our sins and the terrible effects of guilt which follow on from them. As the hymnwriter said:
“O wilt thou to the Saviour come?
This hour He waits for thee,
To cleanse thy conscience, fill thy heart,
Thy captive soul set free.”
Article adapted from Gleams of Light, October 1954
extracted from the July 2021 issue of Youthful Days