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How to Do Good to Others

Category Articles
Date March 14, 2019

To do good to others, is an honour that comes from God only. The very desire is Christ-like; and those that are Christ’s have both the desire and the power. If you have lived without Christ, you have done nothing either for God or man in the past. If you would now take Christ, what might you not do both for God and man in the future! What a blessing on the earth might you be, who have hitherto been no blessing!

Many a time do I think of what I was, and of what I am — or at least of what I have been since I accepted Jesus. For forty-four years of my life, my object was to pass time pleasantly so long as the day was spent agreeably I was satisfied. During those years, whatever harm I may have done, I do not believe I ever did any real good to a human being. From 1835 until 1854, with the exception of about three years, the greater part of my time was spent in Scotland, where I rented moors and fisheries. My greatest idea of pleasure was to shoot grouse and catch salmon.

I believe, at the different shooting quarters I rented, I treated the poor with an average liberality, contributing to the different collections what I fancied would be expected, with an odd five shillings when an old woman lost her cow. But what I considered my great act of kindness to the people, and that for which I expected them to be most thankful, was to give them, at the end of the shooting season, a dance and supper. Now let not the philanthropist imagine that I intend to compare his philanthropy with mine. I put his on the very highest scale, mine on the very lowest; only maintaining, that to the recipients of our kindnesses it will be all the same a hundred years hence.

To this party of mine all the tenants in the neighbourhood, with their wives and their daughters, the gillies, the shopkeepers of the village, my own servants, and all and sundry and every acquaintance that any of these liked to bring. They were very merry. Late in the evening perhaps some were very noisy, and early in the morning I have seen some very tipsy. It would be daylight, perhaps, when a number of both sexes, giving me three cheers, and thanking me for my kindness, would cry, ‘God bless you!’ and start in their way home.

They thanked me for my kindness; but was it kindness? They cried, ‘God bless you!’ but could either they or I expect God’s blessing on such a meeting? It is true it was intended kindly, and as a return for kindness to those who had taken care of my shootings and preserved my game, and I knew no better way of saying, ‘I am obliged to you,’ yet again I ask, Was it kindness?

In the end of 1854 it pleased God to bring home with power to my heart, that it would profit me nothing if I gained the whole world and lost my own soul. After much conflict with sin and unbelief, I was enabled to receive the truth: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.’ If from all, then, great and many, and to my eyes unpardonable as my sins were, it could cleanse them. So by the grace of God I accepted Jesus, and have now, like the Corinthians, Scripture warrant for saying, I am washed, I am sanctified, I am justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. It is true that I rejoice, and say it with trembling — for though I have no doubt as to the justification, I am most dissatisfied with the sanctification. Still it is not out of what I am, but out of what he is, that I am to get my hope, and peace, and joy; and certainly, though I am not what I should be, I am not what I was.

Since I believed in God, it has pleased him to open to me many doors of usefulness, and instead of a shooter of grouse and a catcher of salmon, I have become a fisher of men. As I used to have at my shooting quarters, so do I still have meetings and gatherings wherever I go; but instead of asking those who come, to dance, I ask them to pray; and instead of feeding them with the meat which perishes, I offer them that bread of which if a man eat he shall never die, and point them to that flesh which ‘is meat indeed’, and to that blood which ‘is drink indeed’ (See John 6:51, 55).

And in the humblest gratitude would I say that it has pleased God greatly to bless these meetings. I am afraid lest I should seem to exalt myself, but remember I am not speaking of what I have wrought, but of what God has wrought, by a hell-deserving sinner, who has accepted Jesus and tried to scatter the unsearchable riches of his truth. To him be the whole honour and glory and praise and gratitude, for ever. I believe that I, who recorded that up to the year 1854 I had never by a single act either brought glory to God or done good to man, may now record that I have done such good to man as shall redound to the glory of God for ever and ever!

Glory be to God that many sinners are now in heaven who first received the gospel from my lips. Glory be to God that many more are now on their road to heaven, who first received the gospel from my lips. And glory be to God, I say again, that many of these, my children, have brought others, their children, and consequently my grandchildren, to Christ; and these others have brought others, and these others others.

And once more I say, Glory be to God that the sowing and the reaping, the seed-time and the harvest are not yet ended; nor do I believe they will ever end as long as the world shall stand. I have no doubt that the good seed of God’s Word which I have been privileged to scatter, and some of the fruits of which I have been privileged to see, will yield seed again, and bear fruit again after its kind. This in time will seed again, and bear fruit again; and so go on seeding and fruiting, seeding and fruiting, to the glory of God and the salvation of souls, not only when I am in my grave, but until time shall be no more.

Compare the happiness I must feel in being able to write this, with the pleasure the best salmon fishing or grouse shooting could ever give me. Compare the happiness and pleasure it gave me when a half-tipsy party shook me by the hand, and cried, after a dance and supper, ‘God bless you!’ with the pleasure I have felt when, passing through the people after speaking to them about Jesus, some hand, the face of whose owner perhaps I never saw, has slipped quietly into mine, and I have heard the same words whispered, ‘God bless you!’

Think not I write these things in the spirit of boasting. To record something of what God can do, and has been pleased to do with the chief of sinners, I think may encourage others, and therefore I record it; but I record at the same time, to my shame, that I believe many of those who call me their spiritual father, are much further on in the Divine life than I am; and I earnestly request every Christian who reads this book to pray that I may keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest after I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27).


The above is taken from Brownlow North‘s work Wilt Thou Go With This Man?, consisting of Gospel sermons preached during the 1859 Awakening in Ulster.

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