In the moment of great victory in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Stonewall Jackson was wounded. As he was being taken to a field hospital in an ambulance, Dr. Hunter McGuire held the artery in the shoulder with his finger so that if the tourniquet should slip there would be no fatal bleeding. Life is in the blood.
The blood of Christ deliversus from the stain of sin because it assures us of the love of God. Somewhere in England there is a cathedral with two graves, and over them are the effigies of a crusader knight and his lady. The exquisite effigy of the lady, however, is without a right hand. The tradition is that in the wars of the crusades this knight was captured by the Moslem conqueror, Saladin. When the knight besought Saladin to spare his life for the sake of the love which his lady in England bore him, Saladin scoffed at him and said that she would soon forget him and marry another. Assured that she would never do that, Saladin asked for a proof. He said that if the lady sent him her right hand he would release the knight from the sentence of death. A letter to this effect reached the lady in England, who promptly had her right hand cut off and sent to the Moslem conqueror. When Saladin saw it, he set the knight free and sent him back to England. The severed hand was the proof of great love. So the blood of Christ, which was shed for our redemption, is the proof that God loves us; and that knowledge gives us hope.
A Presbyterian minister in Ireland told of an incident which took place at an after meeting in his church at Belfast. It was during the days of the strife between Catholics and Protestants, when murder and outrage were everyday and commonplace facts. A young man came into the inquiry room, where faithful Christians talked with him and prayed with him. But no one was able to do anything or say anything which helped him or relieved him of the distress under which he was laboring.
Then this minister was called in to see him. He told him to put his trust in Christ for forgiveness. "But how can I," he said—"one who has shot down nine persons in cold blood?" Then there came to the mind of the minister that great verse of John's: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). This was the word that the young man's troubled soul was waiting to hear, and, casting himself on the mercy of Christ, he found peace.
Martin Luther once had a dream in which he stood, in the Day of Judgment, before God. Satan was there to accuse him; and when the books were opened, he pointed to transgression after transgression of which Luther was guilty. Luther's heart sank in despair.
Then he remembered the Cross and, turning upon the devil, he said, "There is one entry which thou hast not made, Satan."
"What is that?" asked the devil.
"It is this," answered Luther: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7).
Hedley Vicars, a well-known officer of the British army, was sitting one day at his quarters waiting for another officer to come to see him. While he was waiting, he began to turn over the leaves of a Bible which was lying on the table. The words that caught his eye were these: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). He closed the Bible and said, "If this be true for me, henceforth I will live by the grace of God as a man should live who has been washed in the blood of Christ."
In Lee's official report of the Battle of Fredericksburg only one person below the rank of major general is mentioned— a young officer of the artillery whom Lee speaks of as the "gallant Pelham." He fell in the Battle of Brandy Station, March 17, 1863. His West Point and army comrades always remembered his fine figure, his bright face, and his beautiful spirit. After the battle his body was taken home to his widowed mother in Alabama. As they bore him up the lane to his mother's home, the moon was full: "Her still light lay white upon the way by the cotton fields he knew so well, and white on the roof, and in the dooryard of his home. His mother stood waiting for him on the doorstep; and as they bore him up to her, she whispered through falling tears, 'Washed in the blood of the Lamb that was slain.' "
The ancient legend of the Holy Grail tells how Joseph of Arimathea, who got permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus down from the cross and bury it, caught in a golden cup which Christ had held at the Last Supper the blood which flowed from a wound in his side. This cup he carried to Glastonbury, on an island in Somerset in England. There he formed an order of knights whose work it was to protect the precious blood. The chief of these knights was made their king. At certain times the king unveiled the golden cup that held the precious blood, at which times a glorious and radiant light fell on the faces of all who stood about, filling them with rapture and enbuing them with strength from on high. Only the pure in heart could look upon the cup and behold the wondrous light which streamed from the precious blood.
This is a beautiful story, which has played a great part in the history of our race. But there is one respect in which it
is in sharp contrast with the conception of the blood of Christ presented to us in the Gospels. Only the pure in heart,
according to the legend of the Holy Grail, could look upon the precious blood. But in the New Testament the thing which is emphasized is that the blood of Christ—and only the blood of Christ—cleanses the stained and sinful
Pursued once by the English with bloodhounds, Bruce and his followers were in desperate straits. His companions had given up all hope of escape. But the courageous Bruce took them down into a small stream and, walking with them for some distance in the waters up the bed of the river, threw the dogs off their scent, and so escaped. Even so, that retribution, penalty, and punishment which is man's due is turned back in the crimson tide that flowed from Calvary's tree.
On the night of Daniel Webster's death at Marshfield, October 24, 1852, his physician, Dr. Jeffries, knowing Mr. Webster's religious faith, suggested that he should read to him one of his favorite hymns. Mr. Webster having intimated his consent, Dr. Jeffries read Cowper's hymn, beginning
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel's veins.
He read on till he had finished the last stanza:
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.
Then, although his tongue was one of the least feeble and stammering of human tongues, Webster in a clear, strong voice replied, "Amen! Amen! Amen!"