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Written by J.H. Oliphant   


The Primitive Monitor--June 1911

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and, I will give you rest;” --Matt. xi, 28.

This text has been quoted to prove that Christ is seeking to save all the race, but the words do not include all the race. Who are the laboring and heavy laden? I think it should include those who feel the weight and guilt of sin—those laboring to get rid of it, and burdened with the intolerable burden, who have seriously sought relief by the law, but found no relief. Jesus says, “Come unto me,” as if he were skilled in removing burdens from sin-burdened souls, and he is.
Maybe someone will see this who is truly “laboring, and heavy laden,” and if so, I assure you this text is for your good. The first impression of one who is enabled to see his real state is that he must do some good thing. “What good thing must I do that I might have eternal life?” I believe everyone who is blessed with a true conversion in his first conviction for sin looks to the law for relief. He says, I am a sinner both by nature and practice and am unfit to come to Christ as I am. So I must reform and improve my base before I venture on the mercy of God. Men, by nature, believe that we must in some degree deserve it, and so when they wake to see their state as it is, they try the system they had ever looked to, but I understand the words, “Come to me” to mean, “Look to me” or depend on me. The people looked to the brazen serpent, not to heal those slightly wounded by the serpent, or to heal those who had been improved by their own effort, but to heal the worst, those who were the worst. So the Son of man was lifted up, not to save good and reformed people, but to save sinners. One difficulty with men is, they forget that their sins that bear them down as a mountain weight, stand as the reason why they are to “look” to him or go to him. If their sins are few and small, then they might find relief in some other way, but if they are “five hundred pence” sinners they need a Savior skilled in taking off such burdens.

“Come to me.” Some fly to the church and its ordinances. They may do this and not “Come to me.” They try reformation, and think when they get to be fit to go to him then they will go, and so try in every way to improve, but all to no avail—they are sinners still. “He smote on his breast and said, God, be merciful to me a sinner.” The thief said, “‘When thou comest into thy kingdom remember me.” This was coming to Jesus, or it was looking to him. The thief had just said, “We suffer justly.” He not only felt unfit for heaven, but he felt unfit to live on earth. Surely, he was one of those who “labor and are heavy laden.” He had no good works to recommend him, no obedience to law, human or divine. It was a coming to him. “Nothing but sin have I to give.” Jesus replied, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It often ‘takes’ time to learn that we must come to him without one plea it our favor. The prodigal said, “I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” He came with no fitness to come, no worthiness, nothing but sin, and yet be was welcomed.

The words, “come to me” are important. To do this is to have no hope but in him, no hope in self or in duties of any kind. When the woman kissed the Savior’s feet and washed them with tears, one there said, “She is a sinner,” and thus found fault with Christ because he suffered her to come near him. No doubt this man believed that we must be good and worthy before we come to him. We read of some who faulted Christ for receiving sinners and eating with them. They thought that those who come to him must be worthy. How sweet the words, “Look unto me all the ends of the earth.” The outside cases are here meant. The thief was an extreme case, so was the poor woman who bent over his feet and kissed them. She had no self-righteousness to trust in, no sinless life to plead. It was, “I am a sinner,” “but Christ came to save sinners.” If these lines ever come to one of “The ends of the earth,” I would say, once I was situated just as you are. I was an outside case; none were so far away as I. I tried my prayers, and those of others. I tried to become fit to go to him, but at last I went to him, or I looked to him, or I depended on him, with no plea but his mercy. We need not look to duties and say these will put away sin, nor to the church, nor to friends. Paul says, “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Christ is not engaged to supply what we lack, but he is to be the whole Savior and to have all the glory of it.

We come to him as criminals, and not as claimants. If you feel that you are a criminal against God, then come to him as such. A self-righteous man cannot do this, but the thief did, and met a sweet response. His prayer was, “Remember me,” and Jesus responded, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

“I have sinned too long or against light so that mine is an extreme case. I have vowed to do better and have not kept my vows; mine is an outside case. So I feel no encouragement to go to him. Others can be saved, but not me. I see no good in my prayers—so empty, so formal, so cold. Were I to be made judge of my own case I could not decide favorably.” I have been all over this way.

I feel, after a long experience, that it is a good sign for one to see his sin, to feel it as a burden. If sin troubles you here, it will not trouble you hereafter. Those who are troubled over sin are laboring and heavy laden. It is better to be troubled over sin than to be careless. If your heart aches for sin and your tears flow, this is better than to be indifferent. You once were indifferent, could sin all day and sleep well at night, but now it is different with you. Our text says, “Come to me.” Till yet I try to come to him and my sins are in my way, and it is good to remember that he came to save sinners. We can say, “Lord, I am a sinner and I crave mercy.” This is the plea—no claim for reformation, no plea that I have done my part. I come to thee as a sinner, trusting only in thy mercy. “No sinner shall ever be empty sent back who comes seeking mercy for Jesus’ sake.”

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.