A Scene in Manchester Police Court
” I tell you I didn’t steal it. I bought it,” he kept on repeating, till at last the magistrates were obliged to silence him.
It appeared that Kelly was arrested on the charge of stealing a watch. There was no doubt that the watch had been stolen and found in his possession, which was sufficient in the opinion of both policemen and magistrates to convict him.
Just as the magistrates had apparently arrived at their decision what to do with Kelly, I stepped into the witness box to be sworn.
“What do you want?” asked the magistrate.
“I want to give evidence in this case, sir.”
The moment Kelly heard that, he turned on me in a rage. “Don’t listen to him. He knows nothing about it. He has only gone into the box to tell a lot of lies. He wants to make it hot for me.”
It was almost useless my telling Kelly to keep quiet and listen. He seemed to think, because I was in police-sergeant’s uniform, that I was bound to be against him. At last the magistrates got him to keep quiet and told me to proceed. I said:
“Some weeks ago I was on duty escorting two prisoners by train to Strangways Gaol. I sat on one side of the compartment, while the two prisoners sat on the other, recounting their experiences as they usually do. I heard one say to the other, “I did old Kelly the other day!” “How was that?” asked his companion. “I sold him a watch for thirty shillings that wasn’t worth a crown!”
What a change on the faces of all in court! As for Kelly, he looked as if he could have kissed me. Of course, he got off, for he was proved innocent in spite of all the circumstantial evidence against him. The little bit of evidence I gave for him more than counter-balanced all that was against him. But observe that if he had had his way he would never have known what was in my heart towards him.
That is just the way some men treat God. They will not listen to Him, because they think He is against them, whereas He is for them.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17
Kelly was innocent, but God’s heart can be righteously gracious towards a guilty man, and let the guilty man go free. That is more than any Court of Justice can do without sacrificing its name and character. But God can be “A JUST GOD AND A SAVIOUR” (Isaiah 45:21) at one and the same time. He can be “JUST, and the JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus” –Romans 3:26. He can JUSTIFY the UNGODLY.
God (who seems to be against man as He appears in the witness-box) loves man, and now the great question is this; How can God righteously let the man go free when He Himself has proved him guilty.
The only answer is, by SUBSTITUTION.
In THE CROSS we see God’s love to the sinner displayed in the gift of His Son (the only One who was capable of taking the sinner’s place, being without sin Himself), who bore the sinner’s sins –1 Peter 2:24, —suffered for them, –I Peter 3:18, –“DIED FOR THE UNGODLY,” therefore the ungodly can go free.