"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:6, 7.
This is the language of positive assurance. What then shall we say to the sentiment expressed in the fourth stanza of the hymn above referred to? It reads thus:—
"Perhaps he will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there."
Such language might be excusable in one who knew nothing of God; but uttered by one who has known God, or, rather, is known of God, it can be regarded only as libel upon God's word. The sinner is exhorted to resolve to throw himself prostrate before God, to confess his sins, and plead for mercy, and then is "encouraged" with the thought that perhaps God will hear his prayer, and admit his plea. Not in that manner does God encourage those who are sick of sin. Says the beloved disciple, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. He promises that he will "have mercy" upon and "abundantly pardon" those who turn to him confessing and forsaking their sins.
There is no such thing as "perhaps" with God. His promises to the penitent, and his threats to the impenitent, are equally positive. "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16. To the straying he says: "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12, 13. Again he says: "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." Isaiah 45:19.
Christ says: " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28, 29. There is no "perhaps" about this.
"God is love;" he has revealed himself to us as a God that "delighteth in mercy." The surety of this is found in the fact that Jesus died for us. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. And "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Timothy 1:15. Since he came for this express purpose, how can there be any doubt about his receiving those who come humbly to him?