“’Whoever thirsts,” ‘O gracious word.’”
“Precious is the gospel invitation given in the hymn by Samuel Medley (subject of our previous Melody Moment), commencing:__
“O what amazing words of grace
Are in the gospel found.”
The line at the head of this page is in the fourth verse, and tells us in Scripture language who is invited.
This oft-repeated Bible word “whosoever” became the link of salvation to a wicked old man, who lay sick and dying.
He wanted to be saved, but he knew no Saviour; he wanted to get to heaven, but he did not know the way.
“Johnny” said he to his little boy one day, as the child sat by his bedside, “could you read to me a bit?”
“Yes, father,” he said; “I’ll read to you as much as I can; only I can’t make out the hard words.”
So the old man told his child to try; and as the little boy read from the Bible the father leant close to listen.
Johnny read on slowly until he came to the golden verse which says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that---------”
He stopped there. It was a long word, and poor little Johnny vainly tried to make it out. He spelt it over again and again; but at last he said:--
“I can’t make it out, father; I’ll just miss it, and go on reading.”
So he began again. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that ----------- believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“O Johnny, lad,” said the father, eagerly, “I do wish you could make out that word. It’s just what I’m wanting to know. I wonder what the word can be!”
The old man felt that he must know. It was such an intensely important question that his heart was asking now, “May I be saved—is heaven for me.” Life and death depended upon it; an eternity of joy or sorrow hung on the word that Johnny could not read.
So he rose from his bed and came down into the little room below. He took the Bible in his hands, and sat at the street door with his fingers marking the word that he wanted so very much to know.
By and by a man came quickly down the street; the house door was open, and the old man heard the step, for he was sitting there waiting to ask any one who should pass if they would read to him Johnny’s hard word.
Just as he was passing, the old man called to him, and asked him to come near and help him; and then they both bent close over the Bible to the place where the father’s trembling finger still marked the word.
The other man looked at it, and then read, “Whosoever.”
“Whosoever?” said the old man; “and could you tell us what that means?”
“Why it means anybody,” said the man, as he turned away, and went down the street.
Quickly this aged sinner laid “hold of the hope set before him” as he now saw that he was included in the “whosoever.” Gladly he took God at his word, believed, was saved, and was enabled with eyes beaming with joy to look forward to the time when he should exchange worlds and fully inherit eternal life.
“1. O what amazing words of grace
Are in the gospel found!
Suited to ev’ry sinner’s case,
Who knows the joyful sound.
- “Whoever thirsts,” O, gracious word!
“Shall of this stream partake,”
Come, thirsty souls,
and bless the Lord, and drink, for Jesus’ sake.
The quoted passage is from the "Illustrated History of Hymns and Their Authors," published in 1875, pages 286-287.
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