Christ's vicarious death



A single verse written on paper, now yellow with age, hangs on the wall of a nobleman's study in London. It has a remarkable history and has, in two notable instances at least, been blessed of God to conversion. The verse was originally composed by Dr. Valpy, the eminent Greek scholar and author of some standard school books. He was converted late in life and wrote this verse as a confession of faith:


In peace let me resign my breath;

And Thy salvation see;

My sins deserve eternal death,

But Jesus died for me.


On one occasion, Dr. Marsh was visiting the house of Lord Roden where he held a Bible reading with the family. He mentioned Dr. Valpy's conversion by way of illustration in the course of his remarks, and recited the verse. Lord Roden was particularly struck with the lines, wrote them out, and affixed them to the walls of his study, where they still are. Lord Roden's hospitable mansion was often full of visitors, among whom were many old army officers. One of these was General Taylor, who served with distinction under Wellington at Waterloo. He had not at that time thought much on the subject of religion and preferred to avoid all discussion of it. But soon after the paper was hung up he went into the study to talk with his friend alone, and his eyes rested for a few moments upon the verse. Later in the day, Lord Roden upon entering his study came upon the general standing before the paper and reading it with earnest face. At another visit the host noticed that whenever General Taylor was in the study his eyes rested on the verse.

At length Lord Roden broke the ice by saying, "Why General, you will soon know that verse by heart." "I know it now by heart," replied the general, with emphasis and feeling. A change came over the general's spirit and life. No one who was intimately acquainted with him could doubt its reality. During the following two years he corresponded regularly with Lord Roden about the things which concerned his peace, always concluding his letters by quoting Dr. Valpy's verse. At the end of that time, the physician who attended General Taylor wrote to Lord Roden to say that his friend had departed in peace, and that the last words which fell from his dying lips were those which he had learned to love in his lifetime.

A young relative of the family, an officer who served in the Crimea, also saw it but turned carelessly away. Some months later, Lord Roden received the intelligence that his young acquaintance was suffering from pulmonary disease, and was desirous of seeing him without delay. As he entered the sickroom, the dying man stretched out both hands to welcome him, at the same time repeating Dr. Valpy's simple lines. "They have been God's message," he said, "of peace and comfort to my heart in this illness, when brought to my memory, after days of darkness and distress, by the Holy Ghost, the Comforter." -- C. H. Spurgeon