The English preacher Rowland Hill (1739-1804) once preached in a larger city in England. People came from far and near to hear him.
In the middle of his sermon, a wagon pulled up outside. Lady Anna Erskine, a person well-known for her wealth and love of splendor, stepped out. She was a star at all balls, concerts, and theaters but seldom a guest at a church hosting an earnest worship service. She had heard of Rowland Hill and wanted to hear him preach once “for her pleasure.”
Her presence never went unnoticed, as she was not used to mingling quietly among other people, and because she dressed in a way designed to attract attention. This time was no different. Rowland Hill, who knew of her and whose eagle eye saw every movement among his listeners, had noticed her entrance at once. Like lightning, the thought flashed through his mind that he had been given a special opportunity to minister to a soul!
Suddenly interrupting his sermon, he stretched out his arm and called out in a mighty voice: “Look, here comes Lady Erskine! Come, let us auction her off!”
The woman’s surprise was indescribable, and now she would have liked to sink into the ground as all eyes were on her. But she could not turn back. The preacher called into the congregation: “Who wants to buy the soul of Lady Erskine?”
Pausing a bit after this strange question, he then continued, “I see several lovers, all wanting to pay their price.”
“World, what will you pay for it?”
“I give all the splendor and glory that is at my disposal, honor and prestige, good life and good days!”
“Nothing more? No immortality and eternal life?”
“I do not have that myself.”
“Then your price is too low for us, world. You will not get her soul! For what good would it do the Lady if she gained the whole world and yet suffered damage to her soul?”
“Now, Satan, what do you give in return?”
“I give desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. She may have her way with me, satisfy all her lusts and desires, and empty the world’s cup of pleasure to the last drop.”
“And what do you ask in return?”
“Her soul, that she may one day come completely under my power.”
“The price is too high for us! Nor will you get her soul, Satan, for you are a murderer from the beginning, a liar and a father of lies.”
“Now, Lord Jesus, what will You give?”
“I have already given My own life for the Lady. I poured out My blood for her when I paid the ransom for the whole world on the cross. I will give her peace in her soul, which surpasses all understanding. I will give her joy that the world cannot give and cannot take away. I will clothe her with righteousness and adorn her with the gold of faith. She will be like a signet ring to Me, and no one will be able to snatch her out of My hand. When she has finished her race of faith, then I will bring her to Me in glory, for where I am, there shall My servants be too!”
“And what do You ask for all these glorious gifts?”
“Her sins, her bad conscience, everything that inwardly suppresses and torments her. That is what I ask for.”
“You shall have her, Lord Jesus. She is Yours, and she shall remain Yours forever and eternally. Lady Erskine, are you satisfied?”
“Yes,” she replied in a loud, firm voice, while deep emotion moved throughout the congregation. Lady Erskine kept her word. She repented, and from that hour on, her spirit and conduct were changed. She put aside her fancy trinkets and flashy apparel and gave up her partying and worldly companions. She became a friend and mother to all who were poor, sick, suffering, and distressed. There was no one far and wide to be found who showed such enthusiasm for the cause of Jesus Christ and who made so many sacrifices for Him as this woman, who had previously been so ensnared by the things of this world. Throughout her life, she praised the love of God, which had searched for her and led her to that assembly and had snatched her so powerfully from the clutches of the world and its prince.
Yes, Satan, the prince of this world, and Jesus, the Son of God, are the two powers who compete for every soul and fight each other for its possession. This battle is also raging for your soul, dear reader. You may have felt this wooing, this pulling from both sides many times in your life. With loud words, the world praises its pleasures and glory to you and promises you good life, good days, and happiness without end. Millions believe it and follow its lures, only to find out too late that they have been deceived. Will you allow yourself to be deceived?
Know that Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your soul. You have long since been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, but you are unjustly still a servant and slave of sin. At any hour, you have the right to leave this service and follow Jesus. Jesus is calling and beckoning you even now through this literature which He has placed in your hands. You don’t need to wait for a more favorable opportunity. You must not think that you have to improve yourself first. That is in vain. No, no opportunity and no hour is as favorable as this one. Therefore, do not delay any longer but surrender yourself to Him to become His permanent, eternal possession! Jesus can and will make everything new in you!