Among my early hearers at Waterbeach was one good old woman whom I called “Mrs. Much-afraid.” I feel quite sure she has been many years in Heaven, but she was always fearing that she should never enter the gates of glory. She was very regular in her attendance at the house of God, and was a wonderfully good listener. She used to drink in the gospel; but, nevertheless, she was always doubting, and fearing, and trembling about her own spiritual condition.
She had been a believer in Christ, I should think, for fifty years, yet she had always remained in that timid, fearful, anxious state. She was a kind old soul, ever ready to help her neighbours, or to speak a word to the unconverted; she seemed to me to have enough grace for two people, yet, in her own opinion, she had not half enough grace for one.
One day, when I was talking with her, she told me that she had not any hope at all, she had no faith; she believed that she was a hypocrite.
I said, “Then don’t come to the chapel any more; we don’t want hypocrites there. Why do you come?”
She answered, “I come because I can’t stop away. I love the people of God; I love the house of God; and I love to worship God.”
“Well,” I said, “you are an odd sort of hypocrite; you are a queer kind of unconverted woman.”
“Ah!” she sighed, “you may say what you please, but I have not any hope of being saved.”
So I said to her, “Well, next Sunday, I will let you go into the pulpit, that you may tell the people that Jesus Christ is a liar, and that you cannot trust Him.”
“Oh!” she cried, “I would be torn in pieces before I would say such a thing as that. Why, He cannot lie! Every word He says is true.”
“Then,” I asked, “why do you not believe it?”
She replied, “I do believe it; but, somehow, I do not believe it for myself; I am afraid whether it is for me.”
“Have you not any hope at all?” I asked.
“No,” she answered; so I pulled out my purse, and I said to her, “Now, I have got £5 here, it is all the money I have; but I will give you that £5 for your hope if you will sell it.”
She looked at me, wondering what I meant. “Why!” she exclaimed, “I would not sell it for a thousand worlds.” She had just told me that she had not any hope of salvation, yet she would not sell it for a thousand worlds!
I fully expect to see that good old soul when I get to Heaven, and I am certain she will say to me, “Oh, dear sir, how foolish I was when I lived down there at Waterbeach! I went groaning all the way to glory when I might just as well have gone there singing. I was always troubled and afraid; but my dear Lord kept me by His grace, and brought me safely here.”
She died very sweetly; it was with her as John Bunyan said it was with Miss Much-afraid, Mr. Despondency’s daughter. Mr. Great-heart had much trouble with those poor pilgrims on the road to the Celestial City; for, if there, was only a straw in the way, they were fearful that they would stumble over it. Yet Bunyan says, “When the time was come for them to depart, they went to the brink of the river. The last words of Mr. Despondency were, ‘Farewell night, welcome day.’ His daughter went through the river singing.”
Our Lord often makes it calm and peaceful, or even joyous and triumphant, for His departing timid ones. He puts some of His greatest saints to bed in the dark, and they wake up in the eternal light; but He frequently keeps the candle burning for Mr. Little-faith, Mr. Feeble-mind, Mr. Ready-to-halt, Mr. Despondency, and Miss Much-afraid. They go to sleep in the light, and they also wake up in the land where the Lamb is all the glory for ever and ever.
[C. H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary: Volume 1, 1834-1854, 239-40 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009). A bit of editing (shape, not content) to enhance readability.]