Some little time ago, after the conclusion of one of Mr. Brownlow North's addresses in Edinburgh a young man came into the room where he was receiving persons anxious for private conversation, and said to him, "I have heard you preach three times, sir, and I neither care for you nor your preaching unless you can tell me why did God permit sin." "I will do that with pleasure," was the immediate reply,—"Because He chose to." The young man, apparently taken by surprise, stood speechless; and Mr. North again replied, "Because He chose to; and," added he, "if you continue to question and cavil at God's dealings, and vainly puffed up by your carnal mind, strive to be wise above what is written, I will tell you something more that God will do,—He will some day put you into hell-fire. It is vain for you to strive with your Maker—you cannot resist Him; and neither your opinion of His dealings, nor your blasphemous expression of them, will in the least lessen the pain of your everlasting damnation, which, I again tell you, will most certainly be your portion if you go on in your present spirit.
There were such questioners as you in St. Paul's time, and how did the apostle answer them? 'Nay, but 0 man, who art thou that replied against God’ (Romans 9:20).”
The young man here interrupted Mr. North, and said, "Is there such a text as that in the Bible?" "Yes, there is," was the reply, "in the ninth chapter of the Romans; and I recommend you to go home and read that chapter; and after you have read it, and seen there how God claims for Himself the right to do whatever He chooses, without permitting the thing formed to say to Him that formed it, 'Why hast Thou made me thus?’ Remember that, besides permitting sin, there is another thing God has chosen to do,— God chose to send Jesus. Of His own free and sovereign grace God gave His only begotten Son to die for sinners in their stead—in their place; so that, though they are sinners, and have done things worthy of death, not one of them shall ever be cast into hell for his sins who will receive Jesus as his only Saviour, and believe in Him and rest in His Word. I have no time to say more to you now: others are waiting to see me. Go home, attend to what I have told you, and may God the Holy Spirit bless it for Jesus Christ sake."
This conversation took place on Sunday evening. On the following Friday, Mr. North was sitting in a friend's drawing room, when the servant announced that a young man wanted to speak to him. On being shown upstairs, he said, "Do you remember me?" "No." "Do you not remember the young man who on Sunday night asked you to tell him 'why did God permit sin'?" "Yes, perfectly." "Well, sir, I am that young man; and you said that God permitted sin because He chose to, and you told me to go home and read the ninth chapter of Romans; and also that God chose to send Jesus to die for such sinners as I am; and I did, sir, what you told me, and afterwards I fell down at God's feet and asked Him to forgive my sins, because Jesus died for me, and He did; and now I am happy—oh! so happy, sir; and though the devil still comes sometimes to tempt me with my old thoughts, and to ask me what reason I have to think God has forgiven me, I have always managed to get him away by telling him that I do not want to judge things by my own reason, but by God's Word, and that the only reason why I know I am forgiven, is that for Christ's sake, God chooses to pardon me.
The changed expression of the young man's countenance was quite sufficient to account for Mr. North's not knowing him again. It was radiant with joy and peace.
Dear reader, the first lesson a poor sinner has to learn, is to trust in the Lord, and not to his own understanding; to trust God not only for what he does understand, and for what is explained, but for what he does not understand, and for what is not explained. This is faith, and such faith honors God and saves the soul. This is receiving the kingdom of God as a little child; and let us ever remember that it is written (and the scripture cannot be broken), that unless we receive the kingdom of God as a little child, we shall in no wise enter therein.
"God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. v. 8.)
(copied from an old tract in my files- author unknown)- (emphasis mine-cmw)
Brownlow North was known as the great Evangelist of 19th century Scotland. God’s hand was on him in unusual way. When converted at age 45, he had been a sinful playboy, but went on to be remembered as one who spoke to the common man. Several books of his sermons have been published, but all seem to be presently out of print. The best are “The Rich Man and Lazarus” and “Wilt Thou Go With This Man?” You may find used copies at Amazon.com.
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