Once upon a time, there came one to my house of a black and terrible aspect. He smote the door; I tried to bolt it- to hold it fast. He smote again and again, till at last he entered, and with a rough voice he summoned me before him; and he said, "I have a message from God for you-- you are condemned on account of your sins."
I looked at him with astonishment; I asked him his name.
He said, "My name is the Law." and I fell at his feet as one that was dead. "I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." As I lay there, he smote me. He smote me till every rib seemed as if it must break, and the bowels be poured forth. My heart was melted like wax within me; I seemed to be stretched upon a rack- to be pinched with hot irons- to be beaten with whips of burning wire. A misery extreme dwelt and reigned in my heart.
I dared not lift up mine eyes, but I thought within myself, "There may be hope, there may be mercy for me. Perhaps the God whom I have offended may accept my tears and my promises of amendment, and I may live." But when that thought crossed my mind, heavier were the blows and more poignant my sufferings than before, till hope entirely failed me, and I had nothing wherein to trust. Darkness black and dense gathered round me. I heard a voice as it were, of rushing to and fro, and of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I said within my soul, "I am cast out from his sight, I am utterly abhorred of God- he has trampled me in the mire of the streets in his anger."
And there came one by, of sorrowful but of loving aspect, and he stooped over me, and he said, "Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." I arose in astonishment, and he took me, and he led me to a place where stood a cross, and he seemed to vanish from my sight. But he appeared again hanging there. I looked upon him as he bled upon that tree. His eyes darted a glance of love unutterable into my spirit, and in a moment, looking at him, the bruises that my soul had suffered were healed; the gaping wounds were cured; the broken bones rejoiced; the rags that had covered me were all removed; my spirit was white as the spotless snows of the far-off north; I had melody within my spirit, for I was saved, washed, cleansed, forgiven, through him that did hang upon the tree! Oh, how I wondered that I should be pardoned! It was not the pardon that I wondered at so much; the wonder was that it should come to ME. I wondered that he should be able to pardon such sins as mine; such crimes, so numerous and so black, and that after such an accusing conscience he should have power to still every wave within my spirit, and make my soul like the surface of a river, undisturbed, quiet, and at ease.