When Mr. Sankey and I were in London a lady who attended our meetings was brought into the house in her carriage, being unable to walk. At first she was very skeptical; but one day she said to her servant:
|Take me into the inquiry room.|
After I had talked with her a good while about her soul she said:
|But you will go back to America, and it will be all over.|
|Oh, no,| said I, |it is going to last forever.|
I couldn't make her believe it. I don't know how many times I talked with her. At last I used the fable of the pendulum in the clock. The pendulum figured up the thousands of times it would have to tick, and got discouraged, and was going to give up. Then it thought, |It is only a tick at a time,| and went on. So it is in the Christian life -- only one step at a time. That helped this lady very much. She began to see that if she could trust in God for a supply of grace for only one day, she could go right on in the same way from day to day. As soon as she saw this, she came out quite decided. But she never could get done talking about that pendulum. The servants called her Lady Pendulum. She had a pendulum put up in her room to remind her of the illustration, and when I went away from London she gave me a clock -- I've got it in my house still.
The Greater Mystery
Dr. Andrew Bonar once said that, although it was a mystery to him how sin should have come into the world, it was still a greater mystery how God should have come here to bear the penalty of it Himself.
Never Runs Dry
I remember being in a city where I noticed that the people resorted to a favorite well in one of the parks. I said to a man one day:
|Does the well never run dry?|
The man was drinking of the water out of the well; and as he stopped drinking, he smacked his lips, and said:
|They have never been able to pump it dry yet. They tried it a few years ago. They put the fire-engines to work, and tried all they could to pump the well dry; but they found there was a river flowing right under the city.|
Thank God, the well of salvation can never run dry either!
He Trusted his Father
A party of gentlemen in Scotland wanted to get some eggs from a nest on the side of a precipice, and they tried to persuade a poor boy that lived near to go over and get them, saying they would hold him by a rope. They offered him a good deal of money; but they were strangers to him, and he would not go. They told him they would see that no accident happened to him; they would hold the rope.
At last he said: |I will go if my father will hold the rope.|
He trusted his father.
A man will not trust strangers. I want to get acquainted with a man before I put my confidence in him. I have known God for forty years, and I have more confidence in Him now than I ever had before; it increases every year.
When France and England were at war once a French vessel had gone off on a long whaling voyage. When they came back, the crew were short of water, and being near an English port, they wanted to get water; but they were afraid that they would be taken prisoners if they went into that port. Some people in the port saw their signal of distress, and sent word that they need not be afraid, that the war was over, and peace had been declared. But they couldn't make those sailors believe it, and they didn't dare to go into port, although they were out of water. At last they made up their minds that they had better go in and surrender their cargo and their lives to their enemies rather than perish at sea without water; and when they got in, they found out that what had been told them was true, that peace had been declared.
There are a great many people who don't believe the glad tidings that peace has been made by Jesus Christ between God and man, but it is true.
Sawdust or Bread
If you go out to your garden and throw down some sawdust, the birds will not take any notice; but if you throw down some crumbs, you will find they will soon sweep down and pick them up.
The true child of God can tell the difference (so to speak) between sawdust and bread. Many so-called Christians are living on the world's sawdust, instead of being nourished by the Bread that cometh down from heaven. Nothing can satisfy the longings of the soul but the Word of the living God.
|Baby's Feeding Himself!|
You know it is always regarded a great event in the family when a child can feed itself. It is propped up at table, and at first perhaps it uses the spoon upside down, but by and by it uses it all right, and mother, or perhaps sister, claps her hands and says:
|Just see, baby's feeding himself!|
Well, what we need as Christians is to be able to feed ourselves. How many there are who sit helpless and listless, with open mouths, hungry for spiritual things, and the minister has to try to feed them, while the Bible is a feast prepared, into which they never venture.
Should Not Be Postponed
In 1871 I preached a series of sermons on the life of Christ in old Farwell hall, Chicago, for five nights. I took Him from the cradle and followed Him up to the judgment hall, and on that occasion I consider I made as great a blunder as ever I made in my life. It was upon that memorable night in October, and the court-house bell was sounding an alarm of fire, but I paid no attention to it. You know we were accustomed to hear the fire-bell often, and it didn't disturb us much when it sounded. I finished the sermon upon |What Shall I Do with Jesus?| and said to the audience:
|Now, I want you to take the question with you and think it over, and next Sunday I want you to come back and tell me what you are going to do with Him.|
What a mistake! It seems now as if Satan was in my mind when I said this. Since then I never have dared give an audience a week to think of their salvation. If they were lost, they might rise up in judgment against me. |Now is the accepted time.|
I remember Mr. Sankey singing, and how his voice rang when he came to that pleading verse:
|To-day the Savior calls,
For refuge fly!
The storm of Justice falls,
And death is nigh!|
After the meeting we went home. I remember going down La Salle street with a young man, and saw the glare of flames. I said to the young man:
|This means ruin to Chicago.|
About one o'clock Farwell hall was burned; soon the church in which I had preached went down, and everything was scattered. I never saw that audience again.
My friends, we don't know what may happen to-morrow, but there is one thing I do know, and that is, if you take the gift of God you are saved. If you have eternal life you need not fear fire, death, or sickness. Let disease or death come, you can shout triumphantly over the grave if you have Christ. My friends, what are you going to do with Him? Will you not decide now?
Teaching Willie Faith
Some years ago I wanted to teach my boy what faith was and so I put him on a table. He was a little fellow about two years old. I stood back three or four feet, and said.
The little fellow said, |Papa, I'se afraid.|
I said: |Willie, I will catch you. Just look right at me, and jump.|
The little fellow got all ready to jump, and then looked down again, and said, |I'se afraid.|
|Willie, didn't I tell you I would catch you? Will papa deceive you? Now, Willie, look me right in the eye, and jump, and I will catch you.|
The little fellow got all ready the third time to jump, but he looked on the floor, and said:
|Didn't I tell you I would catch you?|
At last I said: |Willie, don't take your eyes off me|; and I held the little fellow's eyes, and said, |Now, jump; don't look at the floor;| and he leaped into my arms.
Then he said to me, |Let me jump again.|
I put him back, and the moment he got on the table he jumped, and after that, when he was on the table and I was standing five or six feet away I heard him cry, |Papa, I'se coming,| and had just time to rush and catch him. He seemed to put too much confidence in me. But you cannot put too much confidence in God.
Act on Your Belief
When President Lincoln signed the proclamation of emancipation, copies of it were sent to all points along the Northern line, where they were posted. Now, supposing a slave should have seen a copy of that proclamation and should have learned its contents. He might have known the fact, he might have assented to its justice, but if he had still continued to serve his old master as a slave his faith in the document would not have amounted to anything.
And so it is with us. A mere knowledge of the historical events of Christ's life, or a simple intellectual assent to His teachings and His mission, will be of no help in a man's life unless he adds to them a trustful surrender to the Lord's loving kindness.
|Forty Miles to Liberty|
A friend of mine went to teach in Natchez before the war. He and a friend of his went out riding one Saturday in the country. They saw an old slave coming, and they thought they would have a little fun. They had just come to a place where there was a fork in the road, and there was a sign-post which read, |Forty miles to Liberty.|
|Sambo, how old are you?|
|I don't know, massa. I guess I'se about eighty.|
|Can you read?|
|No, sah; we don't read in dis country. It's agin the law.|
|Can you tell what is on that sign-post?|
|Yes, sah; it says forty miles to Liberty.|
|Well, now,| said my friend, |why don't you follow that road and get your liberty? It says there, only 'forty miles to Liberty.' Now, why don't you take that road and go there?|
The old man's countenance changed, and he said: |That ar's a sham, young massa, but if it pointed up thar,| and he raised his trembling hand toward heaven, |to the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free, that ar wouldn't be no sham.|
The old slave, with all his ignorance, had even then experienced a liberty in his own soul that these young men, with all their boasted education, at that time knew nothing of.
The Most Important Thing
A certain John Bacon, once a famous sculptor, left an inscription to be placed on his tomb in Westminster Abbey:
|What I was as an artist seemed of some importance to me while I lived; but what I was as a believer in Jesus Christ is the only thing of importance to me now.|
Taking the Wrong Boat
A Methodist minister, on his way to a camp-meeting, through some mistake took passage on the wrong boat. He found that instead of being bound for a religious gathering, he was on his way to a horse-race. His fellow-passengers were betting and discussing the events, and the whole atmosphere was foreign to his nature. He besought the captain that he would stop his boat and let him off at the first landing, as the surroundings were so distasteful to him.
The story also goes on to relate how, on the same occasion a sporting man, intending to go to the races, by some mistake found himself on the wrong boat, bound for the camp-meeting. The conversation about him was no more intelligible to him than to the man in the first instance, and he, too, besought the captain to stop and let him off the boat.
Now what was true in these two cases is practically true with every one. A true Christian is wretched where there is no fellowship, and an unregenerate man is not at ease where there are only Christians. A man's future will be according to what he is here prepared for. If he is not regenerate, heaven will have no attractions for him. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
The Best Proof
|The highest proof of the infallibility of Scripture,| said the late A. J. Gordon, |is the practical one that we have proved it so. As the coin of the realm has always been found to buy the amount of its face-value, so the prophecies and promises of Scripture have yielded their face value to those who have taken the pains to prove them. If they have not always done so, it is probable that they have not yet matured. There are multitudes of Christians who have so far proved the veracity of the Bible that they are ready to trust it without reserve in all that it pledges for the world yet unseen and the life yet unrealized.|
I remember a man telling me he preached for a number of years without any result. He used to say to his wife as they went to church that he knew the people would not believe anything he said; and there was no blessing. At last he saw his error; he asked God to help him, and took courage, and then the blessing came.
|According to your faith it shall be unto you.| This man had expected nothing and he got just what he expected. Dear friends, let us expect that God is going to use us. Let us have courage and go forward, looking to God to do great things.
Chasing His Shadow
When I was a little boy I tried to catch my shadow. I don't know if you were ever so foolish; but I remember running after it, and trying to get ahead of it. I could not see why the shadow always kept ahead of me. Once I happened to be racing with my face to the sun, and I looked over my head and saw my shadow behind me, and it kept behind me all the way.
It is the same with the Sun of Righteousness. Peace and joy will go with you while you go with your face toward Him, but those who turn their backs on the Sun are in darkness all the time. Turn to the light of God, and the reflection will flash in your heart.
His Minister's Bible
If I have a right to cut out a certain portion of the Bible, I don't know why one of my friends has not a right to cut out another, and another friend to cut out another part, and so on. You would have a queer kind of Bible if everybody cut out what he wanted to! Every adulterer would cut out everything about adultery; every liar would cut out everything about lying; every drunkard would be cutting out what he didn't like.
Once a gentleman took his Bible around to his minister, and said, |That is your Bible.|
|Why do you call it my Bible?| said the minister.
|Well,| replied the gentleman, |I have been sitting under your preaching for five years, and when you said that a thing in the Bible was not authentic, I cut it out.|
He had about a third of the Bible cut out; all of Job, all of Ecclesiastes and Revelation, and a good deal besides. The minister wanted him to leave the Bible with him; he didn't want the rest of his congregation to see it. But the man said:
|Oh, no! I have the covers left, and I will hold on to them.|
And off he went holding on to the covers.
Mocked by his Children
When I was in St. Louis some years ago, there was an old man who had been away off on the mountains of an ungodly life, but in his early manhood he had known Christ. He came into the inquiry-room, literally broken down. About midnight that old man came trembling before God and was saved. He wiped away his tears, and started home.
Next night I saw him in the audience with a terrible look in his face. As soon as I finished preaching, I went to him and said:
|My good friend, you haven't gone back into darkness again?|
Said he: |Oh, Mr. Moody, it has been the most wretched day in my life.|
|Well, this morning as soon as I got my breakfast, I started out. I have a number of children, married, and in this city, and they have families; and I have spent the day going around and telling them what God has done for me. I told them how I had tasted salvation, with the tears trickling down my face; and, Mr. Moody, I hadn't a child that didn't mock me!|
That made me think of Lot down in Sodom. It is an awful thing for a man who has been a backslider to have his children mock him. But it is written: |Thy back-slidings shall reprove thee; know, therefore, and see that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.|
No Need to Read Them
A great many people say, you must hear both sides; but if a man should write me a most slanderous letter about my wife, I don't think I would have to read it; I should tear it up and throw it to the winds. Have I to read all the infidel books that are written, to hear both sides? Have I to take up a book that is a slander on my Lord and Master, who has redeemed me with His blood? Ten thousand times no! I will not touch it.
Tolling the Bell
I well remember how in my native village in New England it used to be customary, as a funeral procession left the church, for the bell to toll as many times as the deceased was years old. How anxiously I would count those strokes of the bell to see how long I might reckon on living! Sometimes there would be seventy or eighty tolls, and I would give a sigh of relief to think I had so many years to live. But at other times there would be only a few years tolled, and then a horror would seize me as I thought that I, too, might soon be claimed as a victim by that dread monster, Death. Death and judgment were a constant source of fear to me till I realized the fact that neither shall ever have any hold on a child of God. In his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul has showed, in most direct language, that there is no condemnation for a child of God, but that he is passed from under the power of law, and in the Epistle to the Corinthians he tells us that |there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,| |and as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.|
A Father's Neglect
A story has gone the round of the American press that made a great impression upon me as a father. A father took his little child out into the field one Sabbath, and, it being a hot day, lie lay down under a beautiful shady tree. The little child ran about gathering wild flowers and little blades of grass, and coming to its father and saying:
At last the father fell asleep, and while he was sleeping the little child wandered away. When he awoke, his first thought was:
|Where is my child?|
He looked all around, but he could not see him. He shouted at the top of his voice, but all he heard was the echo. Running to a little hill, he looked around and shouted again. No response! Then going to a precipice at some distance, he looked down, and there, upon the rocks and briars, he saw the mangled form of his loved child. He rushed to the spot, took up the lifeless corpse, and hugged it to his bosom, and accused himself of being the murderer of his child. While he was sleeping his child had wandered over the precipice.
I thought as I read that, what a picture of the church of God! How many fathers and mothers, how many Christian men and women, are sleeping now while their children wander over the terrible precipice right into the bottomless pit! Father, mother, where is your boy to-night?
Worth Ten Thousand Men
Let us not give heed to gloomy and discouraging remarks. In the name of our great Commander let us march on to battle and to victory. There are some generals whose name alone is worth more than a whole army of ten thousand men. In our army in the Civil War there were some whose presence sent a cheer all along the line. As they passed on, cheer upon cheer went up. The men knew who was going to lead them, and they were sure of having success. |The boys| liked to fight under such generals as that. Let us encourage ourselves in the Lord, and encourage each other; then we shall have good success.
|With or Without Power|
Doctor Gordon of Boston used to say that as you passed along Washington street of that city, or Broadway, New York, you might see stores with the card in the window, |To rent, with or without power,| and any one could rent the store, and by paying something extra could have power furnished from the engine in the rear. Doctor Gordon thought it would be a good thing to ask men and women when they joined the church if they wanted to be a member on the |with power| or the |without power| basis, and if the latter, to tell them there were no vacancies for that kind in the church, it already had too many members without power.
Turning on the Tap
A man who lived on the bank of Lake Erie had water pipes laid to his house from the lake; and when he wanted water all he had to do was to turn the tap and the water flowed in. If the government had presented him with the lake he would not have known what to do with it. So we may say that if God were to give us grace enough for a lifetime, we should not know how to use it. He has given us the privilege of drawing on Him day by day -- not |forty days after sight.| There is plenty of grace in the bank of heaven; we need not be afraid of its becoming exhausted.
The late Dr. Andrew Bonar once remarked in his own quaint fashion that it was always easy to trace the footprints of a person if we walked close behind him, but if we were some distance back we might fail to find them; and accordingly, if we followed close after the Master we would easily see the way, but if we tried to follow afar off we would find it difficult to know the path of His will.
On Both Knees
William Dawson once told this story to illustrate how humble the soul must be before it can find peace.
He said that at a revival meeting a little lad who was used to Methodist ways, went home to his mother and said:
|Mother, John So-and-so is under conviction and seeking for peace, but he will not find it to-night, mother.|
|Why, William?| said she.
|Because he is only down on one knee, mother, and he will never get peace until he is down on both knees.|
Until conviction of sin brings us down on both knees, until we are completely humbled, until we have no hope in ourselves left, we cannot find the Savior.
A great many people seem to think that the Bible is out of date, that it is an old book, that it has passed its day. They say it was very good for the dark ages, and that there is some very good history in it, but it was not intended for the present time; we are living in a very enlightened age and men can get on very well without it; we have outgrown it.
Now, you might just as well say that the sun, which has shone so long, is now so old that it is out of date, and that whenever a man builds a house he need not put any windows in it, because we have a newer light and a better light; we have gaslight and electric light. These are something new; and I would advise people, if they think the Bible is too old and worn out, when they build houses, not to put windows in them, but just to light them with electric light; that is something new and that is what they are anxious for.
Bidding Christ Farewell
A rule I have had for years is to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. It is not a creed, a mere empty doctrine, but it is Christ Himself we have. The moment we receive Christ we should receive Him as a friend. When I go away from home I bid my wife and children good-bye; I bid my friends and acquaintances good-bye; but I never heard of a poor backslider going down on his knees and saying:
|I have been near You for ten years. Your service has become tedious and monotonous. I have come to bid You farewell. Good-bye, Lord Jesus Christ!|
I never heard of one doing this. I will tell you how they go away; they just run away.
Any One Can Believe
God has put the offer of salvation in such a way that the whole world can lay hold of it. All men can believe. A lame man might not perhaps be able to visit the sick; but he can believe. A blind man, by reason of his infirmity, cannot do many things; but he can believe. A deaf man can believe. A dying man can believe. God has put salvation so simply that young and old, wise and foolish, rich and poor, can all believe if they will.
The Wrath of God Was on Him
I heard of a rich man who was asked to make a contribution on behalf of some charitable object. The text was quoted to him -- |He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again,| He said that the security might be good enough, but the credit was too long. He was dead within two weeks.
The War was Ended
During the last days of the Civil War, when many men were deserting the Southern flag, Secretary Stanton sent out a notice from the war department that no more refugees should be taken into the Union army.
A Southern soldier who had not seen that order came into the Union lines, and they read it to him. He didn't know what to do. If he went back into the Southern army he would be shot as a deserter, and the Northern army wouldn't have him. So he went into the woods, and stayed there, living on roots and whatever else he could get, until finally he was starving.
One day he saw an officer riding by. He rushed out of the woods, caught the horse's bridle, and said he would kill the officer if he didn't help him. The officer asked what was the trouble, and he told him.
|But haven't you heard the news?| said the officer.
|No; what news?|
|Why, the war is over! Lee has surrendered, and peace has been declared. Go to the nearest town and get all the food you want.|
The man waved his hat, and went off as fast as he could.
I want to say that peace has been declared between God and man. Be reconciled to God. The blood is on the mercy-seat, and the vilest sinner can be saved for time and eternity.
Nearer than he Thought
I was reading, some time ago, of a young man who had just come out of a saloon, and had mounted his horse. As a certain deacon passed on his way to church, he followed and said:
|Deacon, can you tell me how far it is to hell?|
The deacon's heart was pained to think that a young man like that should talk so lightly; but he passed on and said nothing. When he came round the corner to the church, he found that the horse had thrown that young man, and he was dead. You, too, may be nearer the judgment than you think.
Its Strength was Underestimated
Some of the older people can remember when our Civil War broke out. Secretary Seward, who was Lincoln's Secretary of State -- a long-headed and shrewd politician -- prophesied that the war would be over in ninety days; and young men in thousands and hundreds of thousands came forward and volunteered to go down to Dixie and whip the South. They thought they would be back in ninety days; but the war lasted four years, and cost about half a million of lives. What was the matter? Why, the South was a good deal stronger than the North supposed. Its strength was underestimated.
Jesus Christ makes no mistake of that kind. When He enlists a man in His service, He shows him the dark side; He lets him know that he must live a life of self-denial. If a man is not willing to go to heaven by the way of Calvary, he cannot go at all. Many men want a religion in which there is no cross, but they cannot enter heaven that way. If we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. So let us sit down and count the cost. Do not think that you will have no battles if you follow the Nazarene, because many battles are before you. Yet if I had ten thousand lives, Jesus Christ should have every one of them. Men do not object to a battle if they are confident that they will have victory, and, thank God, every one of us may have the victory if we will.
Seeing the Gospel
|Have you ever heard the Gospel?| asked a missionary of a Chinaman, whom he had not seen in his mission before.
|No,| he replied, |but I have seen it. I know a man who used to be the terror of his neighborhood. He was a bad opium smoker and dangerous as a wild beast; but he became wholly changed. He is now gentle and good and has left off opium.|
We see very few illuminated Christians now. If every one of us was illuminated by the Spirit of God, how we could light up the churches! But to have a lantern without any light, that would be a nuisance. Many Christians carry along lanterns and say, |I wouldn't give up my religion for yours.| They talk about religion. The religion that has no fire is like painted fire. They are artificial Christians. Do you belong to that class? You can tell. If you can't, your friends can.
There is a fable of an old lantern in a shed, which began to boast because it had heard its master say he didn't know what he would ever do without it. But the little candle within spoke up and said: |Yes, you'd be a great comfort if it wasn't for me! You are nothing; I'm the one that gives the light.| We are nothing, but Christ is everything, and what we want is to keep in communion with Him and let Christ dwell in us richly and shine forth through us.
I have a match box with a phosphorescent front. It draws in the rays of the sun during the day and then throws them out in the dead hours of the night, so that I can always see it in the dark. Now, that is what we ought to be, constantly drawing in the rays of the Sun of Righteousness and then giving them out. Some one said to some young converts, |It is all moonshine being converted.| They replied, |Thank you for the compliment. The moon borrows light from the sun, and so we borrow ours from the Sun of Righteousness.| That is what takes place when we have this illumination.
Not Ashamed of his Lord
A young convert tried to preach in the open air; he could not preach very well either, but he did the best he could. Some one interrupted him and said:
|Young man, you cannot preach; you ought to be ashamed of yourself.|
Said the young man, |So I am, but I am not ashamed of my Lord.|
That is right. Do not be ashamed of Christ -- of the Man that bought us with His own blood.
He Silenced the Devil
If you find yourself getting very miserly, begin to scatter, like a wealthy farmer in New York state I heard of. He was a noted miser, but he was converted. Soon after, a poor man who had been burned out and had no provisions came to him for help. The farmer thought he would be liberal and give the man a ham from his smoke-house. On his way to get it, the tempter whispered to him:
|Give him the smallest one you have.|
He had a struggle whether he would give a large or a small ham, but finally he took down the largest he could find.
|You are a fool,| the devil said.
|If you don't keep still,| the farmer replied, |I will give him every ham I have in the smoke-house.|
Warm the Wax!
A gentleman in Ireland had a seal made for me. |D.L.M.| is on one side, and on the other, |God is love.| If I want to stamp |God is love| I would not make much headway if the wax was hard and cold. Many people go to meetings, and it is as hard to make an impression on them as in pressing a seal on hard wax. But let the wax be warmed up and an impression is made. If we are willing, every one of us may be sealed for the day of redemption. |In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.|
When I was a boy my mother used to send me out doors to get a birch stick to whip me with, when I had to be punished. At first I used to stand off from the rod as far as I could. But I soon found that the whipping hurt me more that way than any other; and so I went as near to my mother as I could, and found she could not strike me so hard. And so when God chastens us let us kiss the rod and draw as near to Him as we can.
The Panorama Looks Brighter
|When a panorama is to pass before an audience, the artist darkens the room in which they sit, so that the picture may be more fully seen. So God sometimes darkens our place on earth, puts out this light and that, and then before our souls He makes to pass the splendors and glories of the better land.|
All Things Work for Good
There is one passage of Scripture which has always been a great comfort to me. In the eighth chapter of Romans Paul says: |All things work together for good to them that love God.| Some years ago a child of mine had scarlet fever. I went to the druggist's to get the medicine, which the doctor had ordered, and told him to be sure and be very careful in making up the prescription. The druggist took down one bottle after another, in any one of which there might be what would be rank poison for my child; but he stirred them together and mixed them up, and made just the medicine which my child needed. And so God gives us a little adversity here, a little prosperity there, and all works for our good.
It Takes Time
Suppose I should send my little boy, five years old, to school to-morrow morning, and when he came home in the afternoon, say to him:
|Willie, can you read? can you write? can you spell? Do you understand all about algebra, geometry, Hebrew, Latin and Greek?|
|Why, papa,| the little fellow would say, |how funny you talk. I have been all day trying to learn the A, B, C's!|
Suppose I should reply: |If you have not finished your education, you need not go any more.| What would you say? Why, you would say I had gone mad!
There would be just as much reason in that as in the way that people talk about the Bible. The men who have studied the Bible for fifty years have never got down to the depths of it yet. There are truths there that the church of God has been searching out for the last nineteen hundred years, but no man has yet fathomed the depths of the ever-living stream.
Something God Cannot Do
In Ireland, some time ago, a teacher asked a little boy if there was anything that God could not do. The little fellow said:
|Yes, He cannot see my sins through the blood of Christ.|
It Seemed Too Good to be True
Some time ago I read in one of the daily papers a thing that pleased me very much. When the new administration of President McKinley went into office some clerks in one of the departments were promoted. One young lady was offered a promotion, but she went to see the secretary, General Butterworth, and said that there was a girl sitting next to her that had a family to support. A brother who had been supporting the family had died, or sickened, and it had fallen upon her, and she asked the general to let her friend that sat next to her have the promotion in her place.
The general said that he had heard of such things in other generations, but he didn't know that it would ever happen in his generation. He was amazed to find a person on duty in Washington that was willing to give up her position and take a lower one, and let some one else have it that she might be able to help her family.
In Colorado the superintendent of some works told me of a miner that was promoted, who came to the superintendent, and said:
|There is a man that has seven children, and I have only three, and he is having a hard struggle. Don't promote me, but promote him.|
I know of nothing that speaks louder for Christ and Christianity than to see a man or woman giving up what you call your rights for others, and |in honor preferring one another.|
The Scarlet Thread
In the British Navy there is said to be a scarlet thread running through every line of cordage, and though a rope be cut into inch pieces it can be recognized as belonging to the government. So there is a scarlet thread running all through the Bible -- the whole book points to Christ.
The First |Don't Worry Club|
Mrs. Sangster says that we hear a good deal in this age, as if it were a novelty, about the futility of being anxious, and people have established |Don't Worry Clubs.| But the first |Don't Worry Club| was begun by our blessed Lord Himself when He said: |Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.| He bade us consider the lilies growing in their beauty and purity without a thought, and taught us the true way of living without care, without solicitude, bearing all burdens lightly, and having continual joy on our faces. Only those who have the indwelling Christ in their hearts can walk through this world with bright and glad looks, because they know that, let come what may, their Father is leading them safely.
The Story Followed Him
While I was at a convention in Illinois an old man past seventy years, got up, and said he remembered but one thing about his father, and that one thing followed him all through life. He could not remember his death, he had no recollection of his funeral, but he recollected his father one winter night taking a little chip, and with his pocket-knife whittling out a little cross, and with the tears in his eyes he held up that cross, telling how God in His infinite love sent His Son down here to redeem us, and how He had died on the cross for us. The story of the cross followed him through life; and if we tell children these truths, they will never forget them.
The Fatal Sleep
Some time ago a vessel had been off on a whaling voyage, and had been gone about three years. The father of one of the sailors had charge of the light-house, and he was expecting his boy to come home. It was time for the whaling-vessel to return. One night there came up a terrible gale. This father fell asleep, and while he slept his light went out. When he awoke he looked toward the shore and saw a vessel had been wrecked. He at once went to see if he could not yet save some one who might be still alive. The first body that came floating toward the shore was, to his great grief and surprise, the body of his own boy! He had been watching for that boy for many days. Now the boy had at last come in sight of home, and had perished because his father had let his light go out!
I thought, what an illustration of fathers and mothers to-day that have let their lights go out! You are not training your children for God and eternity. You do not live as though there were anything beyond this life at all. You keep your affections set upon things on the earth instead of on things above, and the result is that the children do not believe there is anything in Christianity. Perhaps the very next step they take may take them into eternity; the next day they may die without God and without hope.
That Love is Spontaneous
Some time ago, in an inquiry meeting, I said to a young miss who said that she could not love God, that it was very hard for her to love Him:
|Is it hard for you to love your mother? Do you have to learn to love your mother?|
She looked up through her tears, and said, |No; I can't help it; that is spontaneous.|
|Well,| I said, |when the Holy Spirit kindles love in your heart, you can not help loving God; it will be spontaneous.|
When the Spirit of God comes into your heart and mine, it will be easy to love and serve God.
The Summing Up of His Life
A man was taken into one of our insane asylums a few years ago from one of the Western cities. He had resolved to be rich. How he turned every stone to accumulate wealth! All his energy and every faculty were pushed toward that one end. |Wealth, wealth, wealth! money, money, money!| was his cry. At last it drove him mad, and they took him to the mad-house, where he threw himself into a rocking-chair, and cried:
|Millions of money, and in a mad-house!|
That was all there was of his life. Pretty short, wasn't it? Sixty years gone, millions of money, and in a mad-house; and he died there. That was the summing up of his life.
Beautiful Motion but No Progress
Many people are working and working, as Rowland Hill said, like children on a rocking-horse -- it is a beautiful motion, but there is no progress. Those who are working for salvation are like men on a treadmill, going round and round and round; toiling and toiling and toiling; but nothing comes of it all. There is no progress, and there cannot be until you have the motive power within, till the breath of life comes from God, which can alone give you power to work for others.
Get It into Your Heart
|Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.| An old Scotchman says: |It is a good thing in a good place for a good purpose.| Many people have the Bible in their heads, or in their pockets; but we need to get it down into our hearts.
How the Miners were Saved
In the north of England they have been digging the coal for a century. They have gone miles and miles away from the shaft, under the sea, and there is danger of men getting lost. I heard of two old miners who lost their way. Their lights went out, and they were in danger of losing their lives. After wandering around for a long time, they sat down, and one of them said:
|Let us sit perfectly quiet, and see if we cannot feel which way the air is moving, because it always moves toward the shaft.|
There they sat for a long time, when all at once one of them felt a slight touch on his cheek, and he sprang to his feet and said:
|I felt it.|
They went in the direction in which the air was moving, and reached the shaft.
Sometimes there comes a little breath from God that touches our souls. It may be so gentle and faint that you barely recognize it; but if you do, do not disregard it. Thank God that He has spoken to you, and praise Him for it, and whatever may come do not go in the opposite direction. Give yourself up to be led by it, and you will come out of darkness, out of bondage, out of sorrow, into perpetual light and joy.
Receiving and Never Giving
What makes the Dead Sea dead? Because it is all the time receiving, never giving out anything. Why is it that many Christians are cold? Because they are all the time receiving, never giving out anything.
It is a very sad thing that so many of God's children are dumb; yet it is true. Parents would think it a great calamity to have their children born dumb; they would mourn over it, and weep; and well they might; but did you ever think of the many dumb children God has? The churches are full of them; they never speak for Christ. They can talk about politics, art, and science; they can speak well enough and fast enough about the fashions of the day; but they have no voice for the Son of God.
Like Siamese Twins
Covetousness and stealing are almost like Siamese twins -- they go together so often. In fact we might add lying, and make them triplets, |The covetous person is a thief in the shell. The thief is a covetous person out of the shell. Let a covetous person see something that he desires very much; let an opportunity of taking it be offered; how very soon he will break through the shell and come out in his true character as a thief.| The Greek word translated |covetousness| means -- an inordinate desire of getting. When the Gauls tasted the sweet wines of Italy, they asked where they came from, and never rested until they had overrun Italy.
Not Troubled with Doubts
One of the happiest men I ever knew was a man in Dundee, Scotland, who had fallen and broken his back when he was a boy of fifteen. He had lain on his bed for about forty years, and could not be moved without a good deal of pain. Probably not a day had passed in all those years without acute suffering. But day after day the grace of God had been granted to him, and when I was in his chamber it seemed as if I was as near heaven as I could get on earth. I can imagine that when the angels passed over Dundee, they had to stop there to get refreshed.
When I saw him, I thought he must be beyond the reach of the tempter, and I asked him: |Doesn't Satan ever tempt you to doubt God, and to think that He is a hard Master?|
|Oh, yes,| he said, |he does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages, and Satan says: 'If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? You might have been a rich man, riding in your own carriage.' Then I see a man who was young when I was walk by in perfect health, and Satan whispers: 'If God loved you, couldn't He have kept you from breaking your back?'|
|What do you do when Satan tempts you?|
|Ah, I just take him to Calvary, and I show him Christ, and I point out those wounds in His hands and feet and side, and say, 'Doesn't He love me?' and the fact is, he got such a scare there eighteen hundred years ago that he cannot stand it; he leaves me every time.|
That bedridden saint had not much trouble with doubts; he was too full of the grace of God.
I have sometimes been in a place where the very air seemed to be charged with the breath of God, like the moisture in the air. I remember one time as I went through the woods near Mount Hermon school I heard bees, and asked what it meant.
|Oh,| said one of the men, |they are after the honey-dew.|
|What is that?| I asked.
He took a chestnut leaf and told me to put my tongue to it. I did so, and the taste was sweet as honey. Upon inquiry I found that all up and down the Connecticut valley what they call |honey-dew| had fallen, so that there must have been altogether hundreds of tons of honey-dew in this region. Where it comes from I don't know.
Do you suppose that this earth would be worth living on if it were not for the dew and the rain? So a church that hasn't any of the dew of heaven, any of the rain that comes down in showers, will be as barren as the earth would be without the dew and rain.
A Personal Matter
|The life of Christianity,| says Luther, |consists of personal pronouns. It is one thing to say, 'Christ is a Savior.' It is quite another to say, 'He is my Savior.' The devil can say the first. Only the true Christian can say the second.|
They Knew It
Let me tell you how I had my eyes opened about the theater question. I had an assistant superintendent of a Sabbath school, a very promising young man, who seemed to be very happy in the work. A star actor came to the city, and he went to see him. I knew nothing of it, but the next Sunday when he came into the Sunday-school all over the building the boys cried out:
The perspiration started out of every pore of my body; I thought they were looking at me. I said to the little newsboys:
|Who are you calling a hypocrite?|
They mentioned the assistant's name. I asked the reason, and they said:
|We saw him going into the theater.|
I had never said anything about the theater to those children, but they saw that man going in, and called him a hypocrite. They seemed to know it was no place for a Christian to go. He lost his influence entirely, withdrew from the school, and after a while gave up Christian work altogether. He was just swept along with the tide in Chicago and his influence was lost.
Pull for the Shore
A vessel was wrecked off the shore. Eager eyes were watching and strong arms manned the life-boat. For hours they tried to reach that vessel through the great breakers that raged and foamed on the sand-bank, but it seemed impossible. The boat appeared to be leaving the crew to perish. But after a while the captain and sixteen men were taken off, and the vessel went down.
|When the life-boat came to you,| said a friend, |did you expect it had brought some tools to repair your old ship?|
|Oh, no,| was the response; |she was a total wreck. Two of her masts were gone, and if we had stayed mending her only a few minutes, we must have gone down sir.|
|When once off the old wreck and safe in the life-boat what remained for you to do?|
|Nothing, sir, but just to pull for the shore.|
Man can't save himself. He has been wrecked by sin, and his only safety lies in taking Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Easy, and Yet Difficult
It is the easiest thing in the world to become a Christian, and it is also the most difficult. You say: |That is a contradiction, a paradox.| I will illustrate what I mean.
A little nephew of mine, a few years ago, took my Bible and threw it down on the floor. His mother said,
|Charlie, pick up uncle's Bible.|
The little fellow said he would not.
|Charlie, do you know what that word means?|
She soon found out that he did, and that he was not going to pick up the Book. His will had come right up against his mother's will.
I began to be quite interested in the struggle: I knew if she did not break his will, he would some day break her heart.
She repeated, |Charlie, go and pick up uncle's Bible, and put it on the table.|
The little fellow said he could not do it.
|I will punish you if you do not.|
He saw a strange look in her eye, and the matter began to get serious. He did not want to be punished, and he knew his mother would punish him if he did not lift the Bible. So he straightened every bone and muscle in him, and he said he could not do it. I really believe the little fellow had reasoned himself into the belief that he could not do it.
His mother knew he was only deceiving himself, so she kept him right to the point. At last he went down, put both his arms around the Bible, and tugged away at it; but he still said he could not do it. The truth was -- he did not want to. He got up again without lifting it.
The mother said, |Charlie, I am not going to talk to you any more. This matter has to be settled; pick up that Bible, or I will punish you.|
At last she broke his will, and then he found it as easy as it is for me to turn my hand. He picked up the Bible, and laid it on the table.
So it is with the sinner; if you are really willing to take the Water of Life, YOU CAN DO IT.
During the war, when enlisting was going on, sometimes a man would come up with a nice silk hat on, patent-leather boots, kid gloves, and a fine suit of clothes; perhaps the next man who came along would be a hod-carrier, dressed in the poorest kind of clothes. Both had to strip alike and put on the regimental uniform.
When you come and say you are not fit, haven't got good clothes, haven't got righteousness enough to be a Christian, remember that Christ will furnish you with the uniform of heaven, and you will be set down at the marriage feast of the Lamb. I don't care how black and vile your heart may be, only accept the invitation of Jesus Christ, and He will make you fit to sit down with the rest at that feast.
Drawing a Comparison
When I was in California I went into a Sunday-school and asked:
|Have you got some one who can write a plain hand?|
We got up the blackboard, and the lesson upon it proved to be the text, |Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.|
I said, |Suppose we write upon that board some of the earthly treasures? We will begin with 'gold.'|
The teacher readily put down |gold,| and they all comprehended it, for all had run to that country in hope of finding it.
|Well, we will put down 'houses' next and then 'land.' Next we will put down 'fast horses.'|
They all understood what fast horses were -- they knew a good deal more about fast horses than they knew about the kingdom of God. Some of them, I think, actually made fast horses serve as gods.
|Next we will put down 'tobacco.'| The teacher seemed to shrink at this. |Put it down,| said I; |many a man thinks more of tobacco than he does of God. Well, then we will put down 'rum.'|
He objected to this -- didn't like to put it down at all.
|Down with it! Many a man will sell his reputation, his home, his wife, his children, everything he has, for rum. It is the god of some men. Many here are ready to sell their present and their eternal welfare for it. Put it down,| and down it went.
|Now,| said I, |suppose we put down some of the heavenly treasures. Put down 'Jesus' to head the list, then 'heaven,' then 'River of Life,' then 'Crown of Glory',| and went on until the column was filled, and then just drew a line and showed the heavenly and the earthly things in contrast.
My friends, they could not stand comparison. If a man does that, he cannot but see the superiority of the heavenly over the earthly treasures.
It turned out that this teacher was not a Christian. He had gone to California on the usual hunt -- gold; and when he saw the two columns placed side by side, the excellence of the one over the other was irresistible, and he was the first soul God gave me on that Pacific coast. He accepted Christ, and that man came to the station when I was coming away and blessed me for coming to that place.
A Legend about Doves
There is a beautiful legend about a conference held by the doves to decide where they should make their abode. One suggested that they should go to the woods; but the objection was made that there they would be in danger from hawks; another mentioned the cities, but boys would stone them there, and drive them away or kill them. Presently some dove suggested that they go and hide in the clefts of the rocks, and there they were safe. |O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth.|
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
Look to Christ!
A leading surgeon I heard of, when he has a bad wound to dress, or a broken limb to set, tells the patient:
|Now, look at the wound, see just how it looks, and then look at me!|
So when you have seen the state your heart is in, look up to Christ, and nowhere else.
Paying Attention to the Preacher
There was an architect in Chicago who was converted. In giving his testimony, he said he had been in the habit of attending church for a great many years, but he could not say that he had really heard a sermon all the time. He said that when the minister gave out the text and began to preach, he used to settle himself in the corner of the pew and work out the plans of some building. He could not tell how many plans he had prepared while the minister was preaching. He was the architect for one or two companies; and he used to do all his planning in that way.
You see, Satan came in between him and the preacher, and caught away the good seed of the Word. I have often preached to people, and have been perfectly amazed to find they could hardly tell one solitary word of the sermon; even the text had completely gone from them.
Better Make Sure
|I hab hearn folks say, 'Hope I has 'ligion, but I doan know'; but I neber hearn a man say, 'I hope's I has money, but I doan know.' Dat sorter 'ligion dat yer hopes ye's got, but doan know, ain't gwine to do no mo' good dan der money what yer hopes ye's got but doan know.|
Some Things Quite Plain
An English army officer in India who had been living an impure life went round one evening to argue religion with the chaplain. During their talk the officer said:
|Religion is all very well, but you must admit that there are difficulties -- about the miracles, for instance.|
The chaplain knew the man and his besetting sin, and quietly looking him in the face, answered:
|Yes; there are some things in the Bible not very plain, I admit; but the seventh commandment is very plain.|
Your Own Picture There
The Bible is like an album. I go into a man's house, and while waiting for him, I take up an album and open it. I look at a picture. |Why, that looks like a man I know.| I turn over and look at another. |Well, I know that man.| I keep turning over the leaves. |Well, there is a man who lives in the same street as myself -- he is my next-door neighbor.| And then I come upon another, and see myself.
My friends, if you read your Bibles you will find your own pictures there. It just describes you. You may be a Pharisee; if so, turn to the third chapter of John, and see what Christ said to the Pharisee: |Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.| But you may say: |I am not a Pharisee; I am a poor miserable sinner, too bad to come to Him.| Well, turn to the woman of Samaria, and see what Christ said to her.
While we were in London, Mr. Spurgeon one day in his orphanage told about the boys -- that some of them had aunts and some cousins, and that nearly every boy had some friend that took an interest in him, and came to see him and gave him a little pocket money. One day, he said, while he stood there, a little boy came up to him and said:
|Mr. Spurgeon, let me speak to you.|
The boy sat down between Mr. Spurgeon and the elder who was with him, and said:
|Mr. Spurgeon, suppose your father and mother were dead, and you didn't have any cousins, or aunts, or uncles or friends to come and give you pocket money, and give you presents, don't you think you would feel bad? Because that's me!|
Said Mr. Spurgeon: |The minute he said that, I put my right hand down into my pocket and took out some money for him.|
Queer Ideas of Repentance
The unconverted have a false idea about repentance; they think God is going to make them repent. I was once talking with a man on this subject, and he summed up his whole argument by saying:
|Moody, it has never struck me yet.|
I said: |What has never struck you.|
|Well,| he replied: |Some people it strikes, and some it doesn't. There was a good deal of interest in our town a few years ago, and some of my neighbors were converted, but it didn't strike me.|
That man thought that repentance was coming down some day to strike him like lightning. Another man said he expected some sensation, like cold chills down his back.
Repentance isn't feeling. It is turning from sin to God. One of the best definitions was given by a soldier. Some one asked him how he was converted. He said:
|The Lord said to me, Halt! Attention! Right about face! March! and that was all there was in it.|
A Good Illustration
A little child gives a good illustration of faith. Let the wind blow her hat into the river, and she does not worry; she knows her mother will get her another. She lives by faith.
|Come! Come! Come!|
A man in one of our meetings had been brought there against his will; he had come through some personal influence brought to bear upon him. When he got to the meeting, they were singing the chorus of a hymn:
Come! oh, come to Me!
Come! oh, come to Me!
Come! oh, come to Me!
He said afterward he thought he never saw so many fools together in his life before. The idea of a number of men standing there singing, |Come! come! come!|
When he started home he could not get this little word out of his head; it kept coming back all the time. He went into a saloon, and ordered some whisky, thinking to drown it. But he could not; it still kept coming back. He went into another saloon, and drank some more whisky; but the words kept ringing in his ears: |Come! come! come!| He said to himself, |What a fool I am for allowing myself to be troubled in this way!| He went to a third saloon, had another glass, and finally got home.
He went off to bed, but could not sleep; it seemed as if the very pillow kept whispering the word, |Come! Come!| He began to be angry with himself: |What a fool I was for ever going to that meeting at all!| When he got up he took the little hymn book, found the hymn, and read it over.
|What nonsense!| he said to himself; |the idea of a rational man being disturbed by that hymn.|
He set fire to the hymn book, but he could not burn up the little word |Come!|
He declared he would never go to another of the meetings; but the next night he came again. When he got there, strange to say, they were singing the same hymn.
|There is that miserable old hymn again,| he said; |what a fool I am for coming!| When the Spirit of God lays hold of a man, he does a good many things he did not intend to do.
To make a long story short, that man rose in a meeting of young converts, and told the story that I have now told you. Pulling out the little hymn-book -- for he had bought another copy -- and opening it at this hymn, he said:
|I think this hymn is the sweetest and the best in the English language. God blessed it to the saving of my soul. And yet this was the very hymn that I despised.|
|He that winneth souls is wise.| Do you want to win men? Do not drive or scold them. Do not try to tear down their prejudices before you begin to lead them to the truth. Some people think they have to tear down the scaffolding before they begin on the building. An old minister once invited a young brother to preach for him. The latter scolded the people, and when he got home, asked the old minister how he had done. He said he had an old cow, and when he wanted a good supply of milk, he fed the cow; he did not scold her.
A Long Time to Reap
A man died in the Columbus penitentiary some years ago who had spent over thirty years in his cell. He was one of the millionaires of Ohio. Fifty years ago when they were trying to get a trunk road from Chicago to New York, they wanted to lay the line through his farm near Cleveland. He did not want his farm divided by the railroad, so the case went into court, where commissioners were appointed to pay the damages and to allow the road to be built.
One dark night, a train was thrown off the track, and several were killed. This man was suspected, was tried and found guilty, and was sent to the penitentiary for life. The farm was soon cut up into city lots, and the man became a millionaire, but he got no benefit from it.
It may not have taken him more than an hour to lay the obstruction on the railroad, but he was over thirty years reaping the result of that one act!
|As a Little Child|
A little child is the most dependent thing on earth. All its resources are in its parents' love; all it can do is to cry; and its necessities explain the meaning to the mother's heart. If we interpret its language, it means: |Mother, wash me; I cannot wash myself. Mother, clothe me; I am naked, and cannot clothe myself. Mother, feed me; I cannot feed myself. Mother, carry me; I cannot walk.| It is written, |A mother may forget her sucking child; yet will not I forget thee.|
This it is to receive the Kingdom of God as a little child -- to come to Jesus in our helplessness, and say: |Lord Jesus, wash me!| |Clothe me!| |Feed me!| |Carry me!| |Save me, Lord, or I perish.| -- Rainsford.
Following the Lamb
A friend who lost all his children told me about being in an eastern country some time ago, and he saw a shepherd going down to a stream, and he wanted to get his flock across. He went into the water and called them by name, but they came to the bank and bleated, and were too afraid to follow. At last he went back, tightened his girdle about his loins, took up two little lambs, and put one inside his frock, and another inside his bosom. Then he started into the water, and the old sheep looked up to the shepherd instead of down into the water. They wanted to see their little ones. So he got them over the water, and led them into the green pastures on the other side.
How many times the Good Shepherd has come down here and taken a little lamb to the hill-tops of glory, and then the father and mother begin to look up and follow.
A friend told me of a poor man who had sent his son to school in the city. One day the father was hauling some wood into the city, perhaps to pay his boy's bills. The young man was walking down the street with two of his school friends, all dressed in the very height of fashion. His father saw him, and was so glad that he left his wood, and went to the sidewalk to speak to him. But the boy was ashamed of his father, who had on his old working clothes, and spurned him, and said:
|I don't know you.|
Will such a young man ever amount to anything? Never!
There was a very promising young man in my Sunday-school in Chicago. His father was a confirmed drunkard, and his mother took in washing to educate her four children. This was her eldest son, and I thought that he was going to redeem the whole family. But one day a thing happened that made him go down in my estimation.
The boy was in the high school, and was a very bright scholar. One day he stood with his mother at the cottage door -- it was a poor house, but she could not pay for their schooling and feed and clothe her children and hire a very good house too out of her earnings. When they were talking a young man from the high school came up the street, and this boy walked away from his mother. Next day the young man said:
|Who was that I saw you talking to yesterday?|
|Oh, that was my washerwoman.|
I said: |Poor fellow! He will never amount to anything.|
That was a good many years ago. I have kept my eye on him. He has gone down, down, down, and now he is just a miserable wreck. Of course, he would go down! Ashamed of his mother that loved him and toiled for him, and bore so much hardship for him! I cannot tell you the contempt I had for that one act.
Let us look at --
A Brighter Picture
Some years ago I heard of a poor woman who sent her boy to school and college. When he was to graduate, he wrote his mother to come, but she sent back word that she could not because her best skirt had already been turned once. She was so shabby that she was afraid he would be ashamed of her. He wrote back that he didn't care how she was dressed, and urged so strongly that she went. He met her at the station, and took her to a nice place to stay. The day came for his graduation, and he walked down the broad aisle with that poor mother dressed very shabbily, and put her into one of the best seats in the house. To her great surprise he was the valedictorian of the class, and he carried everything before him. He won a prize, and when it was given to him, he stepped down before the whole audience and kissed his mother, and said:
|Here, mother, here is the prize! It's yours. I would not have won it if it had not been for you.|
Thank God for such a man!
The Folly of Covetousness
The folly of covetousness is well shown in the following extract:
|If you should see a man that had a large pond of water, yet living in continual thirst, nor suffering himself to drink half a draught for fear of lessening his pond; if you should see him wasting his time and strength in fetching more water to his pond, always thirsty, yet always carrying a bucket of water in his hand, watching early and late to catch the drops of rain, gaping after every cloud, and running greedily into every mire and mud in hopes of water, and always studying how to make every ditch empty itself into the pond; if you should see him grow gray in these anxious labors, and at last end a thirsty life by falling into his own pond, would you not say that such a one was not only the author of his own disquiet, but was foolish enough to be reckoned among madmen? But foolish and absurd as this character is, it does not represent half the follies and absurd disquiets of the covetous man.|
I have read of a millionaire in France, who was a miser. In order to make sure of his wealth, he dug a cave in his wine cellar so large and deep that he could go down into it with a ladder. The entrance had a door with a spring lock. After a time, he was missing. Search was made, but they could find no trace of him. At last his house was sold, and the purchaser discovered this door in the cellar. He opened it, went down, and found the miser lying dead on the ground, in the midst of his riches. The door must have shut accidentally after him, and he perished miserably.
What is Needed
Nine-tenths, at least, of our church members never think of speaking for Christ. If they see a man, perhaps a near relative, going right down to ruin, going rapidly, they never think of speaking to him about his sinful course and of seeking to win him to Christ. Now certainly there must be something wrong. And yet when you talk with them you find they have faith, and you cannot say they are not children of God; but they have not the power, the liberty, the love that real disciples of Christ should have.
A great many think that we need new measures, new churches, new organs, new choirs, and all these new things. That is not what the Church of God needs to-day. It is the old power that the apostles had. If we have that in our churches, there will be new life.
I remember when in Chicago many were toiling in the work, and it seemed as though the car of salvation didn't move on, when a minister began to cry out from the very depths of his heart:
|Oh, God, put new ministers in every pulpit.|
Next Monday I heard two or three men stand up and say, |We had a new minister last Sunday -- the same old minister, but he had got new power,| and I firmly believe that is what we want to-day all over America -- new ministers in the pulpit and new people in the pews. We want people quickened by the Spirit of God.
A minister rebuked a farmer for not attending church, and said:
|You know, John, you are never absent from market.|
|Oh,| was the reply, |we must go to market.|
My friends, we have too many orators in the pulpit, I am tired and sick of your |silver-tongued orators.| I used to mourn because I couldn't be an orator. I thought, Oh, if I could only have the gift of speech like some men! I have heard men with a smooth flow of language take the audience captive; but they came and they went. Their voice was like the air -- there wasn't any power back of it; they trusted in their eloquence and their fine speeches. That is what Paul was thinking of when he wrote to the Corinthians: |My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.|
Take a witness in court and let him try his oratorical powers in the witness-box, and see how quickly the judge will rule him out. It is the man who tells the plain, simple truth that has the most influence with the jury.
Suppose that Moses had prepared a speech for Pharaoh, and had got his hair all smoothly brushed, and had stood before the looking-glass, or had gone to an elocutionist to be taught how to make an oratorical speech and how to make gestures. Suppose that he had buttoned his coat, put one hand in his chest, had struck an attitude, and begun:
|The God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has commanded me to come into the presence of the noble King of Egypt.|
I think they would have taken his head right off! They had Egyptians who could be as eloquent as Moses. It was not eloquence they wanted.
To Which Class Do You Belong?
Some one has said that there are three classes of people: the |wills,| the |won'ts,| and the |can'ts|; the first accomplish everything, the second oppose everything, and the third fail in everything.
A Christian man was once urged by his employer to work on Sunday.
|Does not your Bible say that if your ass falls into a pit on the Sabbath, you may pull him out?|
|Yes,| replied the other; |but if the ass had the habit of falling into the same pit every Sabbath, I would either fill up the pit or sell the ass.|
There Must Be Roots
Suppose I hire two men to set out trees, and after a day or two I go out to see how they are getting along. I find that one man has set out a hundred trees, and the other only ten. I say:
|Look here; what does this mean? That man has set out a hundred trees, and you have set out only ten. What does it mean?|
|Yes, but he has cut off all the roots, and, just stuck the tops into the ground.|
I go to the other man, and say: |What does this mean? Why have you planted all of these trees without roots?|
|I don't believe in roots; they are of no account. My trees look just as well as his.|
But when the sun blazes upon the trees, they all wither and die.
There are a lot of people running around who haven't got any roots. A good many live on negations. They are always telling what they don't believe. I want a man to tell me what he does believe, not what he does not believe. And I like to meet a positive man. We just want to know what men do believe. We don't want trees that haven't any roots, for they will dry up when the sun blazes on them. There are a good many persons that are going on without any foundation; they have no faith.
The Path of Obedience
Whatsoever He tells you to do, do. But be sure He says it. Don't take your ideas. Go and live right at home, go and treat your wife and children right, pay your debts, and do some things of that kind.
A colored man said he had seen a sign; he said it read, |G. P. C,| and he understood it to mean, |Go preach Christ.|
Another man got up, and said. |No, that ain't it; it is 'Go pick cotton.'|
If it is preach the gospel, go preach the gospel; and if it is pick cotton, then pick cotton.
Calling a Man a Liar
You cannot offer a man a greater insult than to tell him he is a liar. Unbelief is telling God He is a liar.
Suppose a man said, |Mr. Moody, I have no faith in you whatever.| Don't you think it would grieve me? There is not anything that would wound a man much more than to be told that you do not have any faith in him.
A great many men say, |Oh, I have profound reverence and respect for God.|
Yes, profound respect, but not faith. Why, it is a downright insult!
Suppose a man says, |Mr. Moody, I have profound respect for you, profound admiration for you, but I do not believe a word you say.|
I wouldn't give much for his respect or admiration; I wouldn't give much for his friendship. God wants us to put our faith in Him. How it would wound a mother's feelings to hear her children say, |I do love mamma so much, but I don't believe what she says.| How it would grieve that mother. And that is about the way a great many of God's professed children talk. Some men seem to think it is a great misfortune that they do not have faith. Bear in mind it is not a misfortune, but it is the damning sin of the world.
Bending His Will
A mother told me up in Minnesota that she had a little child who took a book and threw it out of the window. She told him to go and pick it up. The little boy said, |I won't.|
She said, |What?|
He said again, |I won't.|
She said: |You must. Go and pick up that book.|
He said he couldn't do it. She took him out, and she held him right to it. Dinner-time came, and he hadn't picked up the book. She took him to dinner, and after it was over she took him out again. They sat there until tea-time. When tea-time came she took him in and gave him his supper, and then took him out and kept him there until bed-time. The next morning she went out again and kept him there until dinner-time. He found he was in for a life job, and he picked the book up.
She said she never had any trouble with the child afterward. Mothers, if you don't make your boy obey when he is young, he will break your heart.
How To Find the Thirsty
When preaching in Chicago, Dr. Monro Gibson once asked in the inquiry meeting, |Now, how can we find out who is thirsty? I was just thinking how we could find out. If a boy should come down the aisle, bringing a good pail full of clear water and a dipper, we would soon find out who was thirsty. The thirsty men and women would reach out for water; but if he should walk down the aisle with an empty bucket, we wouldn't find out. People would look in and see that there was no water, and say nothing. So,| said he, |I think that is the reason we are not more blessed in our ministry; we are carrying around empty buckets, and the people see that we have not anything in them, and they don't come forward.|
Stewart Robertson met Marshall, the great politician, and Marshall said:
|Why don't you preach in parables like your Master?|
Robertson said: |I would if I knew enough. I wish you would make me a few.|
He never could get to see him from that day until one day he met him on a corner, and he said:
|Marshall, where are those parables?|
|I knew you would be after me, but I give it up. I tried, but I couldn't make them. I didn't know it was so hard.|
People say, |Oh, any one can make up a sermon.| But if you think so, just try it!
A Father's Mistake
The story is told that a man once said he would not talk to his son about religion; the boy should make his own choice when he grew up, unprejudiced by him.
The boy broke his arm, and when the doctor was setting it, he cursed and swore the whole time. The father was quite grieved and shocked.
|Ah,| said the doctor, |you were afraid to prejudice the boy in the right way, but the devil had no such prejudice. He has led your son the other way.|
The idea that a father is to let his children run wild! Nature alone never brings forth anything but weeds.
A Rum-Seller's Son Blows His Brains Out
Look at that rum-seller. When we talk to him he laughs at us. He tells you there is no hell, no future -- there is no retribution. I've got one man in my mind now who ruined nearly all the sons in his neighborhood. Mothers and fathers went to him and begged him not to sell their children liquor. He told them it was his business to sell liquor, and he was going to sell liquor to every one who came. The saloon was a blot upon the place as dark as hell.
But the man had a father's heart. He had a son. He didn't worship God, but he worshiped that boy. He didn't remember that whatsoever a man soweth so shall he reap. My friends, they generally reap what they sow. It may not come immediately, but the retribution will surely come. If you ruin other men's sons, some other man will ruin yours. Bear in mind God is a God of equity; God is a God of justice. He is not going to allow you to ruin others and escape yourself. If we go against His laws, we suffer.
Time rolled on, and that young man became a slave to drink, and his life became such a burden to him that he put a revolver to his head and blew his brains out. The father lived a few years, but his life was as bitter as gall, and then went down to his grave in sorrow. Ah, my friends, it is hard to kick against the pricks.
Mrs. Moody Teaching Her Child
There was a time when our little boy did not like to go to church, and would get up in the morning and say to his mother:
|What day is to-morrow?|
|Thursday|; and so on, till he came to the answer, |Sunday.|
|Dear me,| he said.
I said to the mother, |We cannot have our boy grow up to hate Sunday in this way; that will never do. That is the way I used to feel when I was a boy. I used to look upon Sunday with a certain amount of dread. Very few kind words were associated with the day. I don't know that the minister even noticed me, unless it was when I was asleep in the gallery, and he had some one wake me up. This kind of thing won't do. We must make the Sunday the most attractive day of the week; not a day to be dreaded, but a day of pleasure.|
Well, the mother took the work up with this boy. Bless those mothers in their work with the children! Sometimes I feel as if I would rather be the mother of John Wesley or Martin Luther or John Knox than have all the glories in the world. Those mothers who are faithful with the children God has given them will not go unrewarded.
My wife went to work, and took Bible stories and put those blessed truths in a light that the boy could comprehend, and soon his feeling for the Sabbath was the other way.
|What day's to-morrow?| he would ask.
|I am glad.|
If we make Bible truths interesting, and break them up in some shape so that these children can get at them, then they will begin to enjoy them.
Missed At Last!
In one of the tenement houses in New York City a doctor was sent for. He came, and found a young man very sick. When he got to the bedside the young man said:
|Doctor, I don't want you to deceive me; I want to know the worst. Is this illness to prove serious?|
After the doctor had made an examination, he said, |I am sorry to tell you you cannot live out the night.|
The young man looked up and said, |Well, then, I have missed it at last!|
|I have missed eternal life. I always intended to become a Christian some day, but I thought I had plenty of time, and put it off.|
The doctor, who was himself a Christian man, said: |It is not too late. Call on God for mercy.|
|No; I have always had a great contempt for a man who repents when he is dying; he is a miserable coward. If I were not sick, I would not have a thought about my soul, and I am not going to insult God now.|
The doctor spent the day with him, read to him out of the Bible, and tried to get him to lay hold of the promises. The young man said he would not call on God, and in that state of mind he passed away. Just as he was dying the doctor saw his lips moving. He reached down, and all he could hear was the faint whisper:
|I have missed it at last!|
Dear friend, make sure that you do not miss eternal life at last.
A teacher had been relating to his class the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and he asked:
|Now, which would you rather be, boys, the rich man or Lazarus?|
One boy answered, |I would rather be the rich man while I live, and Lazarus when I die.|
That cannot be.
The Mansion Made Ready
Once when I was traveling to a city there was a lady in the car with me. After I had reached the hotel where I was to stay, and had got comfortable quarters, she came, and said:
|Oh, sir, I cannot get a room in this hotel; they are quite full! How ever did you manage to get a room?|
|Easily enough,| I replied; |I just telegraphed on before that I was coming, to have a room ready for me.|
And it is somewhat similar in regard to gaining admission to heaven. Your names must be sent on beforehand, and entered in its book, else you won't get in; but get your names inscribed on its pages, and then you won't be disappointed. God will have a mansion ready for you when you ascend to your heavenly home. When you come to its gates, the guardian angels will refer to the book of life to see if your name is there. If so, pass in; but if not, admittance will be inexorably refused.
The Promise For All
Every one of God's proclamations is connected with that word |whosoever| -- |whosoever believeth,| |whosoever will.| I think it was Richard Baxter said he thanked God for that |whosoever.| He would a good deal rather have that word |whosoever| than Richard Baxter; for if it was Richard Baxter, he should have thought it was some other Richard Baxter who had lived and died before him; but |whosoever| he knew included him.
I heard of a woman once that thought there was no promise in the Bible for her; she thought the promises were for some one else, not for her. There are a good many of these people in the world. They think it is too good to be true that they can be saved for nothing. This woman one day got a letter, and when she opened it she found it was not for her at all; it was meant for another woman that had the same name; and she had her eyes opened to the fact that if she should find some promise in the Bible directed to her name, she would not know whether it meant her or some one else that bore her name. But you know the word |whosoever| includes every one in the wide world.
Reaping As They Sowed
Although God forgave the sins of Jacob and David, and the other Old Testament saints, yet there were certain consequences of their sins which those saints had to suffer after they were forgiven.
If a man gets drunk and goes out and breaks his leg, so that it must be amputated, God will forgive him if he asks it, but he will have to hop around on one leg all his life. A man may sow thistle-seed with grain-seed in a moment of pique against his master, and the master may forgive him, but the man will have to reap the thistles with the grain.
An obscure man preached one Sunday to a few persons in a Methodist chapel in the South of England. A boy of fifteen years of age was in the audience, driven into the chapel by a snowstorm. The man took as his text the words, |Look unto me and be ye saved,| and as he stumbled along as best he could, the light of heaven flashed into that boy's heart. He went out of the chapel saved, and soon became known as C. H. Spurgeon, the boy-preacher.
The parsonage at Epworth, England, caught fire one night, and all the inmates were rescued except one son. The boy came to a window, and was brought safely to the ground by two farm-hands, one standing on the shoulder of the other. The boy was John Wesley. If you would realize the responsibility of that incident, if you would measure the consequences of that rescue, ask the millions of Methodists who look back to John Wesley as the founder of their denomination.
Saying and Doing
A man was once conversing with a Brahmin priest, and he asked:
|Could you say, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life?'|
|Yes,| replied the priest, |I could say that.|
|But could you make any one believe it?|
Christ proved His superiority right there. His character and His actions were back of His words. He exhibited His divine power to silence His enemies.
I remember being in a meeting after the Civil War had been going on for about six months. The army of the North had been defeated at Bull Run; in fact, we had nothing but defeat, and it looked as though the Republic was going to pieces; so we were much cast down and discouraged. At this meeting every speaker for a while seemed as if he had hung his harp upon the willow; it was one of the gloomiest meetings I ever attended. Finally an old man with beautiful white hair got up to speak, and his face literally shone.
|Young men,| he said, |you do not talk like sons of the King. Though it is dark just here, remember it is light somewhere else.| Then he went on to say that if it were dark all over the world, it was light up around the Throne.
He told us he had come from the East, where a friend had described to him how he had been up a mountain to spend the night and see the sun rise. As the party were climbing up the mountain, and before they had reached the summit, a storm came on. This friend said to the guide:
|I will give this up; take me back.|
The guide smiled, and replied: |I think we shall get above the storm soon.|
On they went; and it was not long before they got up to where it was as calm as any summer evening. Down in the valley a terrible storm raged; they could hear the thunder rolling, and see the lightning's flash; but all was serene on the mountain top.
|And so, my young friends,| continued the old man, |though all is dark around you, come a little higher, and the darkness will flee away.|
Often when I have been inclined to get discouraged, I have thought of what he said. If you are down in the valley amidst the thick fog and the darkness, get a little higher; get nearer to Christ, and know more of Him.
The Greatest Miracle
Jesus said, |The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do because I go to the Father.|
I used to stumble over that. I didn't understand it. I thought what greater work could any man do than Christ had done? How could any one raise a dead man who had been laid away in the sepulchre for days, and who had already begun to turn back to dust; how with a word could he call him forth?
But the longer I live the more I am convinced it is a greater thing to influence a man's will; a man whose will is set against God; to have that will broken and brought into subjection to God's will -- or, in other words, it is a greater thing to have power over a living, sinning, God-hating man, than to quicken the dead. He who could create a world could speak a dead soul into life; but I think the greatest miracle this world has ever seen was the miracle at Pentecost. Here were men who surrounded the apostles, full of prejudice, full of malice, full of bitterness, their hands, as it were, dripping with the blood of the Son of God, and yet an unlettered man, a man whom they detested, a man whom they hated, stands up and preaches the Gospel, and three thousand of them are immediately convicted and converted, and become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Different Kinds of Murder
One young man at college, an only son, whose mother wrote to him remonstrating against his gambling and drinking habits, took the letters out of the post-office, and when he found that they were from her, he tore them up without reading them. She said:
|I thought I would die when I found I had lost my hold on that son.|
If a boy kills his mother by his conduct, you can't call it anything else than murder, and he is as truly guilty of breaking the sixth commandment as if he drove a dagger to her heart.
|It Is Not For You!|
Commenting on the text: |It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power,| Spurgeon said:
|If I were introduced into a room where a large number of parcels were stored up, and I was told that there was something good for me, I should begin to look for that which had my name upon it, and when I came upon a parcel and I saw in pretty big letters, 'It is not for you,' I should leave it alone. Here, then, is a casket of knowledge marked, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.' Cease to meddle with matters which are concealed, and be satisfied to know the things which are clearly revealed.|
Stolen Goods a Burden
I heard of a boy who stole a cannon-ball from a navy-yard. He watched his opportunity, sneaked into the yard, and secured it. But when he had it, he hardly knew what to do with it. It was heavy, and too large to conceal in his pocket, so he had to put it under his hat. When he got home with it, he dared not show it to his parents, because it would have led at once to his detection.
He said in after years it was the last thing he ever stole.
The story is told that a royal diamond valued at [USD]600,000 was stolen from a window of a jeweler, to whom it had been given to set. A few months afterward a miserable man died a miserable death in a poor lodging-house. In his pocket was found the diamond, and a letter telling how he had not dared to sell it, lest it should lead to his discovery and imprisonment. It never brought him anything but anxiety and pain.
Unlocked By Prayer
God's best gifts, like valuable jewels, are kept under lock and key, and those who want them must, with fervent faith, importunately ask for them; for God is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
The Faithful Promiser
God is always true to what He promises to do. He made promises to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and the others, and did He not fulfill them? He will fulfill every word of what He has promised; yet how few take Him at His word!
When I was a young man I was clerk in the establishment of a man in Chicago, whom I observed frequently occupied sorting and marking bills. He explained to me what he had been doing; on some notes he had marked B, on some D, and on others G; those marked B, he told me, were bad, those marked D meant they were doubtful, and those with G on them mean they were good; and, said he, you must treat all of them accordingly. And thus people indorse God's promises, by marking some as bad and others as doubtful; whereas we ought to take all of them as good, for He has never once broken His word, and all that He says He will do, will be done in the fullness of time.
Throw Out the Ballast
When men go up in a balloon, they carry with them what they call ballast -- that is, small bags of sand, and when they want to rise higher they just throw out some of the sand. So we, if we want to rise nearer heaven, must just throw out some of the sand, and cast aside every weight. We won't rise higher till we do so.
A Mother's Love
The closest tie on earth is a mother's love for her child. There are a good many things that will separate a man from his wife, but there isn't a thing in the wide, wide world that will separate a true mother from her own child. I will admit that there are unnatural mothers, that there are mothers that have gone out of their heads, mothers that are so steeped in sin and iniquity that they will turn against their own children, but a true mother will never, never turn against her own child. I have talked with mothers when my blood boiled with indignation against the sons for their treatment of their mothers, and I have said:
|Why don't you cast him off?|
They have said: |Why, Mr. Moody, I love him still. He is my son.|
I was once preaching for Dr. G. in St. Louis, and when I got through he said that he wanted to tell me a story. There was a boy who was very bad. He had a very bad father, who seemed to take delight in teaching his son everything that was bad. The father died, and the boy went on from bad to worse until he was arrested for murder.
When he was on trial, it came out that he had murdered five other people, and from one end of the city to the other there was a universal cry going up against him. During his trial they had to guard the court-house, the indignation was so intense.
The white-haired mother got just as near her son as she could, and every witness that went into the court and said anything against him seemed to hurt her more than her son. When the jury brought in a verdict of guilty a great shout went up, but the old mother nearly fainted away; and when the judge pronounced the sentence of death they thought she would faint away.
After it was over she threw her arms around him and kissed him, and there in the court they had to tear him from her embrace. She then went the length and breadth of the city trying to get men to sign a petition for his pardon. And when he was hanged, she begged the governor to let her have the body of her son, that she might bury it. They say that death has torn down everything in this world, everything but a mother's love. That is stronger than death itself. The governor refused to let her have the body, but she cherished the memory of that boy as long as she lived.
A few months later she followed her boy, and when she was dying she sent word to the governor, and begged that her body might be laid close to her son. That is a mother's love! She wasn't ashamed to have her grave pointed out for all time as the grave of the mother of the most noted criminal the State of Vermont ever had.
The prophet takes hold of that very idea. He says: |Can a mother forget her child?| But a mother's love is not to be compared to the love of God.
I was preaching in British Columbia some years ago and a young man came to me, and wanted to become a Christian. He had been smuggling opium into the States.
|Well, my friend,| I said, |I don't think there is any chance for you to become a Christian until you make restitution.| He said, |If I attempt to do that, I will fall into the clutches of the law, and I will go to the penitentiary.| |Well,| I replied, |you had better do that than go to the judgment-seat of God with that sin upon your soul, and have eternal punishment. The Lord will be very merciful if you set your face to do right.|
He went away sorrowful, but came back the next day, and said: |I have a young wife and child, and all the furniture in my house I have bought with money I have got in this dishonest way. If I become a Christian, that furniture will have to go, and my wife will know it.|
|Better let your wife know it, and better let your home and furniture go.|
|Would you come up and see my wife?| he asked; |I don't know what she will say.|
I went up to see her, and when I told her, the tears trickled down her cheeks, and she said: |Mr. Moody, I will gladly give everything if my husband can become a true Christian.|
She took out her pocketbook, and handed over her last penny. He had a piece of land in the United States, which he deeded over to the government. I do not know, in all my backward track, of any living man who has had a better testimony for Jesus Christ than that man. He had been dishonest, but when the truth came to him that he must make it right before God would help him, he made it right.
No amount of weeping over sin, and saying that you feel sorry, is going to help it unless you are willing to confess and make restitution.
Willie and the Bears
I said to my little family, one morning, a few weeks before the Chicago fire, |I am coming home this afternoon to give you a ride.|
My little boy clapped his hands. |Oh, papa, will you take me to see the bears in Lincoln Park?|
I had not been gone long when my little boy said, |Mamma, I wish you would get me ready.|
|Oh,| she said, |it will be a long time before papa comes.|
|But I want to get ready, mamma.|
At last he was ready to have the ride, face washed, and clothes all nice and clean.
|Now, you must take good care, and not get yourself dirty again,| said mamma.
Of course, he was going to take care; he wasn't going to get dirty! So off he ran to watch for me. However, it was a long time yet until the afternoon, and after a little he began to play. When I got home, I found him outside, with his face all covered with dirt.
|I can't take you to the park that way, Willie.|
|Why papa? you said you would take me.|
|Ah, but I can't; you're all over mud. I couldn't be seen with such a dirty little boy.|
|Why, I'se clean, papa; mamma washed me.|
|Well, you've got dirty again.|
But he began to cry, and I could not convince him that he was dirty.
|I'se clean; mamma washed me!| he cried.
Do you think I argued with him? No. I just took him up in my arms, and carried him into the house, and showed him his face in the looking-glass. He had not a word to say. He would not take my word for it; but one look at the glass was enough; he saw it for himself. He didn't say he wasn't dirty after that!
Now, the looking-glass showed him that his face was dirty -- but I did not take the looking-glass to wash it; of course not. Yet that is just what thousands of people do. The Law is the looking-glass to see ourselves in, to show us how vile and worthless we are in the sight of God; but they take the Law and try to wash themselves with it, instead of being washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Christ For All
An old Welshwoman said Christ was Welsh, and an Englishman said:
|No, He was a Jew.|
She declared that she knew He was Welsh, because He spoke so that she could understand Him.
Many a man is lost because he does not start right. He makes a bad start. A young man comes from his country home, and enters upon city life. Temptation arises, and he becomes false to his principles. He meets with some scoffing, sneering man, who jeers at him because he goes to a church service; or because he is seen reading his Bible; or because he is known to pray to God. And the young man proves to be weak-kneed; he cannot stand the scoffs and the sneers and the jeers of his companions; and so he becomes untrue to his principles, and gives them up.
I want to say here to young men, that when a young man makes a wrong start, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is ruin to him. The first game of chance; the first betting transaction; the first false entry in the books; the first quarter-dollar taken from the cash-box or the till; the first night spent in evil company -- either of these may prove the turning-point; either of these may represent a wrong start.
Napoleon and the Conscript
There is a well-known story told of Napoleon the First's time. In one of the conscriptions, during one of his many wars, a man was balloted as a conscript who did not want to go, but he had a friend who offered to go in his place. His friend joined the regiment in his name, and was sent off to the war. By and by a battle came on, in which he was killed, and they buried him on the battle-field. Some time after, the Emperor wanted more men, and by some mistake the first man was balloted a second time. They went to take him, but he remonstrated.
|You cannot take me.|
|I am dead,| was the reply.
|You are not dead; you are alive and well.|
|But I am dead,| he said.
|Why, man, you must be mad. Where did you die?|
|At such a battle, and you left me buried on such a battle-field.|
|You talk like a madman,| they cried; but the man stuck to his point that he had been dead and buried some months.
|Look up your books,| he said, |and see if it is not so.|
They looked, and found that he was right. They found the man's name entered as drafted, sent to the war, and marked off as killed.
|Look here,| they said, |you didn't die; you must have got some one to go for you; it must have been your substitute.|
|I know that,| he said; |he died in my stead. You cannot touch me; I died in that man, and I go free. The law has no claim against me.|
They would not recognize the doctrine of substitution, and the case was carried to the Emperor. He said that the man was right, that he was dead and buried in the eyes of the law, and that France had no claim against him.
This story may or may not be true, but one thing I know is true: Jesus Christ suffered death for the sinner, and those who accept Him are free from the Law.
Green Fields or Desert?
When I was out in California, the first time I went down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and dropped into the Valley of the Sacramento, I was surprised to find on one farm that everything about it was green -- all the trees and flowers, everything was blooming, and everything was green and beautiful, and just across the hedge everything was dried up, and there was not a green thing there. I could not understand it. I made inquiries, and I found that the man that had everything green, irrigated; he just poured the water right on, and kept everything green, while the fields that were next to his were as dry as Gideon's fleece without a drop of dew.
So it is with a great many in the church to-day. They are like these farms in California -- a dreary desert, everything parched and desolate, and apparently no life in them. They can sit next to a man who is full of the Spirit of God, who is like a green bay tree, and who is bringing forth fruit, and yet they will not seek a similar blessing.
Well, why this difference? Because God has poured water on him that was thirsty; that is the difference. One has been seeking this anointing, and he has received it; and when we want this above everything else God will surely give it to us.
Religion In the Home
What we want is family piety, righteousness in our homes. A young minister came to me, and said he couldn't get along with his wife, and what should he do? I told him to get out of the ministry. A man has no right to be in the pulpit unless he can get along with his family.
A Universal Failing
It is a false idea that all pride is confined to the upper classes. You will find it in the lanes and alleys. You will find little dirty, barefooted children who will get a string of shavings, put it round their necks, and strut down the street as if they were wearing golden beads. Pride is born and grows in the human heart. You do not plant it there; it grows there of itself. There is as much pride among the poor as among the rich; and that is one reason why more of them do not come to the Lord Jesus Christ: they do not like to be laughed at, scoffed at, sneered at, and ridiculed. It costs them too much.
Words and Actions
A man may preach with the eloquence of an angel, but if he doesn't live what he preaches, and act out in his home and his business what he professes, his testimony goes for naught, and the people say it is all hypocrisy after all; it is all a sham. Words are very empty, if there is nothing back of them. Your testimony is poor and worthless, if there is not a record back of that testimony consistent with what you profess. What we need is to pray to God to lift us up out of this low, cold, formal state that we live in, that we may dwell in the atmosphere of God continually, and that the Lord may lift upon us the light of His countenance, and that we may shine in this world, reflecting His grace and glory.
The One-Eyed Doe
There is an old fable that a doe that had but one eye used to graze near the sea; and in order to be safe, she kept her blind eye toward the water, from which side she expected no danger, while with the good eye she watched the country. Some men, noticing this, took a boat and came upon her from the sea and shot her. With her dying breath, she said:
|Oh! hard fate! that I should receive my death wound from that side whence I expected no harm, and be safe in the part where I looked for most danger.|
If a farmer neglects to plant in the springtime, he can never recover the lost opportunity; no more can you, if you neglect yours. Youth is a seed-time, and if it is allowed to pass without good seed being sown, weeds will spring up and choke the soil. It will take bitter toil to uproot them.
An old divine said that when a good farmer sees a weed in his field he has it pulled up. If it is taken early enough, the blank is soon filled in, and the crop waves over the whole field. But if allowed to run too late, the bald patch remains. It would have been better if the weed had never been allowed to get root.
A steamboat was stranded in the Mississippi River, and the captain could not get her off. Eventually a hard-looking fellow came on board, and said:
|Captain, I understand you want a pilot to take you out of this difficulty?|
The captain said, |Are you a pilot?|
|Well, they call me one.|
|Do you know where the snags and sand-bars are?|
|Well, how do you expect to take me out of here if you don't know where the snags and sand-bars are?|
|I know where they ain't!| was the reply.
Beware of temptations. |Lead us not into temptation,| our Lord taught us to pray; and again He said, |Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.| We are weak and sinful by nature, and it is a good deal better for us to pray for deliverance rather than to run into temptation and then pray for strength to resist.
Looking for Revivals
Men are anxious for a revival in business. There is a great revival in politics just now. In all departments of life you find that men are very anxious for a revival in the things that concern them most.
If this is legitimate -- and it is perfectly right in its place -- should not every child of God be praying for and desiring a revival of godliness in the world at the present time? Do we not need a revival of downright honesty, of truthfulness, of uprightness, and of temperance? Are there not many who have become alienated from the Church of God and from the house of the Lord, who are forming an attachment to the saloon? Are not our sons being drawn away by hundreds and thousands, so that while you often find the churches empty, the liquor shops are crowded every Sabbath afternoon and evening? I am sure the saloon-keepers are glad if they can have a revival in their business; they do not object to sell more whisky and beer. Then surely every true Christian ought to desire that men who are in danger of perishing eternally should be saved and rescued.
A sculptor once showed a visitor his studio. It was full of statues of gods. One was very curious. The face was concealed by being covered with hair, and there were wings on each foot.
|What is his name?| said the visitor.
|Opportunity,| was the reply.
|Why is his face hidden?|
|Because men seldom know him when he comes to them.|
|Why has he wings on his feet?|
|Because he is soon gone, and once gone can never be overtaken.|
It becomes us, then, to make the most of the opportunities God has given us.
The Usual Way
I used at one time to read so many chapters of the Bible a day, and if I did not get through my usual quantity, I thought I was getting cold and backsliding. But, mind you, if a man had asked me two hours afterward what I had read, I could not tell him; I had forgotten it nearly all.
When I was a boy I used, among other things, to hoe corn on a farm; and I used to hoe it so badly, in order to get over so much ground, that at night I had to put down a stick in the ground, so as to know next morning where I had left off.
That was somewhat in the same fashion as running through so many chapters every day. A man will say, |Wife, did I read that chapter?|
|Well,| says she, |I don't remember.|
And neither of them can recollect. And perhaps he reads the same chapter over and over again; and they call that |studying the Bible.| I do not think there is a book in the world we neglect so much as the Bible.
Getting On Splendidly
One man said to another, some time ago: |How are you getting on at your church?|
|Well -- well, on that side we are not getting on so well. But,| he said, |we have rented all our pews and are able to pay all our running expenses. We are getting on splendidly.|
That is what the godless call |getting on splendidly.| They rent the pews, pay the minister, and meet all the running expenses.
A man was being shown through one of the cathedrals of Europe; he had come in from the country. One of the men belonging to the cathedral was showing him around, when he inquired:
|Do you have may conversions here?|
|Many conversions here?|
|Ah, man, this is not a Wesleyan chapel.|
The idea of there being conversions there! And you can go into a good many churches in this country and ask if they have many conversions there, and they would not know what it meant, they are so far away from the Lord; they are not looking for conversions, and don't expect them.
A Hundred Years Hence
Once, as I was walking down the street, I heard some people laughing and talking aloud. One of them said:
|Well, there will be no difference; it will be all the same a hundred years hence.|
The thought flashed across my mind, |Will there be no difference? Where will you be a hundred years hence?|
Young man, just ask yourself the question, |Where shall I be?| Some of you who are getting on in years may be in eternity ten years hence. Where will you be, on the left or the right hand of God? I cannot tell your feelings, but I can my own. I ask you, |Where will you spend eternity? Where will you be a hundred years hence?|
A Free Gift
Remember, salvation is a free gift, and it is a free gift for us. Can you buy it? It is a free gift, presented to |whosoever| will accept it.
Suppose I were to say, I will give this Bible to |whosoever| will take it; what have you got to do? Why, nothing but take it. But a man comes forward, and says:
|I'd like that Bible very much.|
|Well, didn't I say 'whosoever' will can have it?|
|Yes; but I'd like to have you mention my name.|
|Well, here it is.|
Still he keeps eyeing the Bible, and saying, |I'd like to have that Bible; but I'd like to give you something for it. I don't like to take it for nothing.|
|But I am not here to sell Bibles; take it, if you want it.|
|Well, I want it; but I'd like to give you something for it. Let me give you a cent for it; though, to be sure, it's worth about five dollars.|
Suppose I accept the cent; the man takes up the Bible and marches away home with it.
His wife asks, |Where did you get that Bible?|
|Oh, I bought it.|
Mark the point; when he gave the penny, it ceased to be a gift. So with salvation. If you were to pay ever so little, it would not be a gift.
What Seed Are You Sowing?
Suppose I meet a man who is sowing seed, and say, |Hello, stranger, what are you sowing?|
|What kind of seed?|
|I don't know.|
|Don't you know whether it is good or bad?|
|No; I can't tell. But it is seed -- that is all I want to know, and I am sowing it.|
You would say that he was a first-class lunatic, wouldn't you? But he wouldn't be half so mad as the man who goes on sowing for time and eternity, and never asks himself what he is sowing or what the harvest will be.
Father, what seed are you sowing in your family? Are you setting your children a good or a bad example? Do you spend your time at the saloon or the club, until you have become almost a stranger to them? or are you training them for God and righteousness?
Bound Hand and Foot
When I was speaking to five thousand children in Glasgow some years ago, I took a spool of thread and said to one of the largest boys:
|Do you believe I can bind you with that thread?|
He laughed at the idea. I wound the thread around him a few times, and he broke it with a single jerk. Then I wound the thread around and around, and by and by I said:
|Now get free if you can.|
He couldn't move head or foot. If you are slave to some vile habit, you must either slay that habit, or it will slay you.
There is one thing I have noticed as I have traveled in different countries; I never yet have known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord's people were divided. Unity is one thing that we must have if we are to have the Holy Spirit of God to work in our midst.
If a church is divided, the members should immediately seek unity. Let the believers come together and get the difficulty out of the way. If the minister of a church cannot unite the people, if those that were dissatisfied will not fall in, it would be better for that minister to retire. I think there are a good many ministers in this country who are losing their time; they have lost, some of them, months and years; they have not seen any fruit, and they will not see any fruit, because they have a divided church. Such a church cannot grow in divine things. The Spirit of God doesn't work where there is division, and what we want to-day is the spirit of unity amongst God's children, so that the Lord may work.
You have looked at the windows of a grand church erected at the cost of many thousands of dollars. From the outside they did not seem very beautiful; but get inside, when the rays of the sun are striking upon the stained glass, and you begin to understand what others have told you of their magnificence. So it is when you have come into personal contact with Christ. You find Him to be the very Savior and friend you need. You will see in Him what you have never seen before.
Hunt For Something
We must study the Bible thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth.
If a friend were to see me searching about a building, and were to come up, and say, |Moody, what are you looking for? Have you lost something?| and I were to say, |No, I haven't lost anything; I'm not looking for anything particular,| I fancy he would just let me go on by myself, and think me very foolish. But if I were to say, |Yes, I have lost a dollar,| why, then, I might expect him to help me to find it.
Read the Bible, my friends, as if you were seeking for something of value. It is a good deal better to take a single chapter, and spend a month on it, than to read the Bible at random for a month.
|When Ye Think Not|
McCheyne, the Scotch preacher, once said to some friends, |Do you think Christ will come to-night?|
One after another they said, |I think not.|
When all had given this answer, he solemnly repeated this text, |The Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.|
If a Christian is unsound in patience or unsound in love, we take no notice of it; but let him be unsound in faith, and off goes his head. I do hate to see a minister or professing Christian mean and peevish to his wife, and yet be as polite as a dancing-master to other women. I tell you he is not fit to preach the Word of God. I don't want to have anything to do with him. The home was established before the church, and he sadly needs more home piety.
The Persians had an annual festival when they slew all the serpents and venomous creatures they could find; but they allowed them to swarm as fast and freely as ever until the festival came round once more. It was poor policy. Sins, like serpents, breed quickly, and need to be constantly watched.
The Wrong Physician
I heard once of a man who went to England from the Continent, and brought letters with him to eminent physicians from the Emperor. The letters said:
|This man is a personal friend of mine, and we are afraid he is going to lose his reason. Do all you can for him.|
The doctor asked him if he had lost any dear friend in his own country, or any position of importance, or what it was that was weighing on his mind.
The young man said: |No; but my father and grandfather and myself were brought up infidels, and for the last two or three years this thought has been haunting me, 'Where shall I spend eternity?' And the thought of it follows me day and night.|
The doctor said, |You have come to the wrong physician, but I will tell you of One who can cure you|; and he told him of Christ, and read to him the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, |With His stripes we are healed.|
The young man said, |Doctor, do you believe that?|
The doctor told him he did, and prayed and wrestled with him, and at last the clear light of Calvary shone on his soul. He had settled the question in his own mind at last, where he would spend eternity.
I ask you, sinner, to settle if now. It is for you to decide. Shall it be with the saints and martyrs and prophets, or in the dark caverns of hell, amidst blackness and darkness forever? Make haste to be wise; for |how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?|
Seeking the Lost
I remember, when we were in London, they found one old woman who was eighty-five years old, and not a Christian. After the worker had prayed, she made a prayer herself:
|O Lord, I thank Thee for going out of Thy way to find me.|
He is all the time going out of His way to find the lost.
He Got Time To Think
I was once preaching on the text, |Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.| No sooner had I read it than a man stood right up in the audience and said:
|I don't believe it.|
I said: |My friend, that doesn't change the fact. Truth is truth, whether you believe it or not; and a lie is a lie, whether you believe it or not.|
He didn't want to believe it. When the meeting broke up, an officer was at the door to arrest him. He was tried and sent to the penitentiary for twelve months for stealing. I really believe that when he got into his cell, he believed that he had to reap what he sowed.
The Motherless Child
Once I heard of a little sick child, whose mother was seriously ill; and so, in order that she might have quiet, and that the sick child might be no trouble to her, the little one was taken away to a friend's house, and placed in charge of a kind lady for a time. The mother grew worse, and at length died. The father said:
|We'll not trouble the child about it; she is too young to remember her mother; just let her remain where she is until the funeral is over.|
This was done, and in a few days the little girl was brought back to the house. No mention was made of her mother, or of what had occurred; but no sooner was she taken to the house than she ran first into one room, then into another, into the parlor, the dining-room, and all over the house, and then away into a little room where her mother used to go to pray alone.
|Where is mother?| she cried. |I want mother!|
And when they were compelled to tell her what had happened, she cried out:
|Take me away, take me away; I don't want to be here without mother.|
It was the mother made it home to her. And so it is in heaven. It is not so much the white robes, the golden crown, or the harps of gold, but it is the society we shall meet there. Who, then, are there? What company shall we have when we get there? Jesus is there, the Holy Father is there, the Spirit is there -- our Father, our elder Brother, our Comforter.
Converted the Regular Way
I never yet knew a man converted just in the time and manner he expected to be. I have heard people say, |Well, if ever I am converted, it won't be in a Methodist church; you won't catch me there.| I never knew a man say that but, at last, if converted at all, it was in a Methodist church.
In Scotland a man was converted at one of our meetings -- an employer. He was very anxious that all his employes should be reached, and he used to send them one by one to the meetings. But there was one employe that wouldn't come. We are all more or less troubled with stubbornness; and the moment this man found that his employer wanted him to go to the meetings, he made up his mind he wouldn't go. If he was going to be converted, he said, he was going to be converted by some ordained minister; he was not going to any meeting that was conducted by unordained Americans. He believed in conversion, but he was going to be converted the regular way. He believed in the regular Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and that was the place for him to be converted.
The employer tried every way he could to get him to attend the meetings, but he wouldn't come.
After we left that town and went away up to Inverness, the employer had some business up there, and he sent this employe to attend to it, in the hope that he would attend some of our meetings.
One night, as I was preaching on the bank of a river, I happened to take for my text the words of Naaman: |I thought; I thought.| I was trying to take men's thoughts up and to show the difference between their thoughts and God's thoughts. This man happened to be walking along the bank of the river. He saw a great crowd, and heard some one talking, and he wondered to himself what that man was talking about. He didn't know who was there, so he drew up to the crowd, and listened. He heard the sermon, and became convicted and converted right there. Then he inquired who was the preacher, and he found out it was the very man that he said he would not hear -- the man he disliked. The very man he had been talking against was the very man God used to convert him.
Crazy from Sin
I was once preaching in Chicago, and a woman who was nearly out of her mind came to me. You know there are some people who mock at religious meetings, and say that religion drives people mad. It is sin that drives people mad. It is the want of Christ that sinks people into despair.
This was the woman's story:
She had a family of children. One of her neighbors had died, and her husband had brought home a little child. She said, |I don't want the child,| but her husband said, |You must take it and look after it.| She said she had enough to do with her own, and she told her husband to take that child away. But he would not. She confessed that she tried to starve the child; but it lingered on. One night it cried all night; I suppose it wanted food. At last she took the clothes and threw them over the child and smothered it. No one saw her; no one knew anything about it. The child was buried. Years had passed away, and she said:
|I hear the voice of that child day and night. It has driven me nearly mad.|
No one saw the act; but God saw it, and this retribution followed it. History is full of these things. You need not go to the Bible to find it out.
I was greatly amazed not long ago, in talking to a man who thought he was a Christian, to find that once in a while, when he got angry, he would swear. I said: |My friend, I don't see how you can tear down with one hand what you are trying to build up with the other. I don't see how you can profess to be a child of God and let those words come out of your lips.|
He replied: |Mr. Moody, if you knew me, you would understand. I have a very quick temper. I inherited it from my father and mother, and it is uncontrollable but my swearing comes only from the lips.|
When God said, |I will not hold him guiltless that takes My name in vain,| He meant what He said, and I don't believe any one can be a true child of God who takes the name of God in vain.
The True Sheep Knows
I tell you the true sheep know a true shepherd. I got up in Scotland once and quoted a passage of Scripture a little different from what it was in the Bible, and an old woman crept up and said:
|Mr. Moody, you said -- -- .|
I might make forty misquotations in an ordinary audience, and no one would tell me about them. Like two lawyers: one said in court that the other didn't know the Lord's Prayer. The other said he did:
|Now I lay me down to sleep.|
|Well,| the first said, |I give it up. I did not think you knew it.|
Didn't either one of them know it, you see.
The Father Knew Best
Dr. Arnot, one of the greatest Scotch divines, was in this country before he died. His mother died when he was a little boy only three weeks old, and there was a large family of Arnots. I suppose they missed the tenderness and love of the mother. They got the impression that their father was very stern and rigid, and that he had a great many laws and rules.
One rule was, that the children should never climb trees. When the neighbors found out that the Arnot children could not climb trees, they began to tell them about the wonderful things they could see from the tops of the trees. Well, tell a boy of twelve years that he mustn't climb a tree, and he will get up that tree some way. And so the Arnot children were all the time teasing their father to let them climb the tree; but the old sire said:
One day he was busy reading his paper, and the boys said:
|Father is reading his paper. Let's slip down into the lot and climb a tree.|
One of the little fellows stood on the top of the fence to see that father did not catch them. When his brother got up on the first branch, he said:
|What do you see?|
|Why! I don't see anything.|
|Then go higher; you haven't got high enough.|
So up he went higher, and again the little boy asked:
|Well, what do you see now?|
|I don't see anything.|
|You aren't high enough; go higher.|
And the little fellow went up as high as he could go, but he slipped, and down he came, and broke his leg. Willie said he tried to get him into the house, but he couldn't do it. He had to tell his father all about it. He said he was scared nearly out of his wits. He thought his father would be very angry. But his father just threw aside the paper, and started for the lot. When he got there, he picked the boy up in his arms, and brought him up to the house. Then he sent for the doctor. And Willie said he got a new view of that father. He found out the reason why that father was so stern. He said the moment that boy got hurt, no mother could have been more loving and gentle.
My dear friends, there is not one commandment that has been given us which has not been for our highest and best interest. There isn't a commandment that hasn't come from the loving heart of God, and what He wants is to have us give up that which is going to mar our happiness in this life, and in the life to come.
When I was out on the Pacific coast, in California, some years ago, I was the guest of a man that had a large vineyard and a large orchard. One day he said to me:
|Moody, while you are my guest I want you to make yourself perfectly at home, and if there is anything in the orchard or in the vineyard you would like, help yourself.|
Well, when I wanted an orange, I did not go to an orange tree and pray the oranges to fall into my pocket; but I walked up to a tree, reached out my hand, and took the oranges. He said |Take,| and I took.
God says, |There is my Son; take Him as your Saviour. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.|
The Rich Husband
There was a shop-girl in Chicago, a few years ago. One day she could not have bought five dollars' worth of anything; the next day she could go and buy a thousand dollar's worth of whatever she wanted.
What made the difference?
Why, she had married a rich husband; that was all. She had received him, and of course all he had became hers. And so we can have all, if we only receive Christ.
Settle It Now!
Some years ago, in one of the mining districts of England, a young man attended one of our meetings and refused to go from the place till he had found peace in the Savior. The next day he went down into the pit, and the coal fell in upon him. When they took him out, he was broken and mangled, and had only two or three minutes of life left in him. His friends gathered about him, saw his lips moving, and, bending down to catch his words, heard him say:
|It was a good thing I settled it last night.|
Settle it now, my friends, once for all. Begin now to confess your sins, and pray the Lord to remember you. He will make you an heir of His kingdom, if you will accept the gift of salvation.
The True Source of Joy
God doesn't ask us to rejoice over nothing; He gives us ground for our joy. What would you think of a man who seemed very happy to-day and full of joy, and couldn't tell you what made him so? Suppose I should meet a man on the street, and he was so full of joy that he should get hold of both my hands and say:
|Bless the Lord, I am so full of joy!|
|What makes you so full of joy?|
|Well, I don't know.|
|You don't know!|
|No, I don't; but I am so joyful that I just want to get out of the flesh.|
|What makes you feel so joyful?|
|Well, I don't know.|
Would we not think such a person unreasonable? But there are a great many people who want to feel that they are Christians before they are Christians; they want the Christian's experience before they become Christians; they want to have the joy of the Lord before they receive Jesus Christ. But this is not the Gospel order. He brings joy when He comes, and we cannot have joy apart from Him. He is the author of it, and we find our joy in Him.
The Meanest Kind of Murderers
When I was in England in 1892, I met a gentleman who claimed that they were ahead of us in the respect they had for the law. |We hang our murderers,| he said, |but there isn't one out of twenty in your country that is hung.|
I said, |You are greatly mistaken, for they walk about these two countries unhung.|
|What do you mean?|
|I will tell you what I mean,| I said; |the man that comes into my house and runs a dagger into my heart for my money is a prince compared with a son that takes five years to kill me and the wife of my bosom. A young man who comes home night after night drunk, and when his mother remonstrates, curses her gray hairs, and kills her by inches, is the blackest kind of a murderer.|
Where your Treasure Is
You can soon tell where a man's treasure is by his talk. If it is in heaven, he will not be long with you before he's talking about heaven; his heart is there, and so his speech isn't long in running there, too. If his heart is in money, he will soon have you deep in talk about mines, speculation, stocks, bank rate, and so on. If his heart is in lands, it won't be long before he's talking about real estate, improvements, houses, and so on. Always the same, wherever a man's heart is, there his tongue will be sure to go.
Some one in England said, if you see a man's goods and furniture come down by the luggage train, you're pretty sure he'll be down by the next passenger train; he won't be long after; he'll follow his goods. And so it is with heaven; if your treasure is on before you, you'll be wanting to follow it; you'll be glad to be on the road thither as soon as possible.
Why his Life was Spared
Two Americans who were crossing the Atlantic met on Sunday night to sing hymns in the cabin. As they sang the hymn, |Jesus, Lover of my Soul,| one of them heard an exceedingly rich and beautiful voice behind him. He looked around, and although he did not know the face he thought that he recognized the voice. So when the music ceased he turned around and asked the man if he had not been in the Civil War. The man replied that he had been a Confederate soldier.
|Were you at such a place on such a night?| asked the first.
|Yes,| he said, |and a curious thing happened that night; this hymn recalled it to my mind. I was on sentry duty on the edge of a wood. It was a dark night and very cold, and I was a little frightened because the enemy were supposed to be very near at hand. I felt very homesick and miserable, and about midnight, when everything was very still, I was beginning to feel very weary and thought that I would comfort myself by praying and singing a hymn. I remember singing this hymn --
'All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring.
Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.'
|After I had sung those words a strange peace came down upon me, and through the long night I remember having felt no more fear.|
|Now,| said the other man, |listen to my story. I was a Union soldier, and was in the wood that night with a party of scouts. I saw you standing up, although I didn't see your face, and my men had their rifles focused upon you waiting the word to fire, but when you sang out --
'Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.'
I said, 'Boys, put down your rifles; we will go home.' I couldn't kill you after that.|
The Sinner's Heart
When I was in Dublin some years ago I got up to go to an early meeting, and found the servants had not opened the front door; so I pulled back a bolt, but I could not get the door open. Then I turned a key, but the door would not open. Then I found there was another bolt at the top and another bolt at the bottom. Still the door would not open. Then I found there was a bar, and then I found a night-lock. In all I found five or six different fastenings.
I am afraid that door represents every sinner's heart. The door of his heart is double-locked, double-bolted, and double-barred. Oh, my friends, pull back the bolts, and let the King of glory in!
There are a great many different ways of doing good. A lady once visited a hospital, and noticed with what pleasure the patients would smell and look at the flowers sent to them. Said she:
|If I had known that a bunch of flowers would do so much good, I would have sent some from home.|
As soon as she got home, she sent some flowers out of her garden. It was a little thing -- a bouquet of flowers. It might be a very insignificant work -- very small; but if it was done in the right spirit, God accepted it. A cup of water given in His name is accepted as given to Himself. Nothing that is done for God is small.
An Anecdote about Tennyson
It is said that Tennyson once asked an old Christian woman if there was any news.
|Why, Mr. Tennyson,| she replied, |there's only one piece of news that I know, and that is -- Christ died for all men.|
|That is old news, and good news, and new news,| Tennyson responded.
On Satan's Ground
There is a legend that the Apostle John was much distressed over the fall of a young convert. He summoned Satan before him, and reproached him for ruining so good a youth.
|I found your good youth on my ground,| said Satan; |so I took him.|
The only safe course is to avoid temptation altogether.
Two Bidding for the Soul
There are two who are bidding for your soul and mine -- the Lord Jesus and Satan.
Satan bids, and he offers that which he cannot give. He is a liar, and has been from the foundation of the world. I pity the man who is living on the promises of the devil. He will never satisfy. But the Lord Jesus is able to give all that He offers. And what does He offer? He offers peace and joy and comfort that the world knows not of. He offers eternal life in the kingdom of God. He offers a seat in His mansions. We are to sit with Him upon His throne.
May God help you to make a right choice! Make up your mind you will not rest until the great question of eternity is settled, until you have crossed the borderland, and pressed into the kingdom of God.
Tried and Proven
I knew an old lady that marked in the margin of her Bible, opposite the promises. T. P.; T. for |tried,| and P. for |proven.| What we want is to try the Bible and see if it is not true.
The Prairie Fire
Out in the Western country, in the autumn, when men go hunting, and there has not been any rain for months, sometimes the prairie grass catches fire, and there comes up a very strong wind, and the flames just roll along twenty feet high, and travel at the rate of thirty or forty miles an hour, consuming man and beast. When the hunters see it coming, what do they do? They know they cannot run as fast as the fire can run. Not the fleetest horse can escape. They just take a match and light the grass around them, and let the flames sweep, and then they get into the burnt district and stand safe. They hear the flames roar as they come along, they see death coming toward them, but they do not fear, they do not tremble, because the fire has swept over the place where they are, and there is no danger. There is nothing for the fire to burn.
There is one mountain that the wrath of God has swept over -- that is, Mount Calvary; and the fire spent its fury upon the bosom of the Son of God. Take your stand by the cross, and you will be safe for time and eternity.
A good many people are afraid of doing anything out of the regular lines -- of doing anything out of order. Now, you will find perfect order in a cemetery. You will find perfect order where there is death. Where there is life you will find something out of order.
Is your Soul Insured?
|Pa,| said a little boy as he climbed to his father's knee, and looked into his face as earnestly as if he understood the importance of the subject, |pa, is your soul insured?|
|What are you thinking about, my son?| replied the agitated father. |Why do you ask that question?|
|Why, pa, I heard Uncle George say that you had your house insured, and your life insured; but he didn't believe you had thought of your soul, and he was afraid you would lose it; won't you get it insured right away?|
The father leaned his head on his hand, and was silent. He owned broad acres of land that were covered with a bountiful produce; his barns were even now filled with plenty, his buildings were all well covered by insurance; and as if that would not suffice for the maintenance of his wife and only child in case of his decease, he had, the day before, taken a life-policy for a large amount; yet not one thought had he given to his own immortal soul. On that which was to waste away and become part and parcel of its native dust he had spared no pains; but for that which was to live on and on through the long ages of eternity he had made no provision. |What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?|
I have been twice at the point of death. I was drowning once, and just as I was going down the third time I was rescued. In the twinkling of an eye my whole life came flashing across my mind. I cannot tell you how it was. I cannot tell you how a whole life can be crowded into a second of time; but everything I had done from my earliest childhood -- it all came flashing across my mind. And I believe that when God touches the secret spring of memory, every one of our sins will come back, and if they have not been blotted out by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will haunt us as eternal ages roll on.
We talk about our forgetting, but we cannot forget if God says |Remember.| We talk about the recording angel keeping the record of our life. I have an idea that when we get to heaven, or into eternity, we will find that recording angel has been ourselves. God will make every one of us keep our own record; these memories will keep the record, and when God shall say, |Son, remember,| it will all flash across our mind. It won't be God who will condemn us; it will be ourselves. We shall condemn ourselves, and we shall stand before God speechless.
There is a man in prison. He has been there five years. Ask that man what makes the prison so terrible to him. Ask him if it is the walls and the iron gates -- ask him if it is his hard work, and he will tell you no; he will tell you what makes the prison so terrible to him is memory; and I have an idea that if we got down into the lost world, we would find that is what makes hell so terrible -- the remembrance that they once heard the Gospel, that they once had Christ offered to them, that they once had the privilege of being saved, but they made light of the Gospel, they neglected salvation, they rejected the offer of mercy, and now if they would accept it they could not.
A friend of mine was going back to Scotland, and he heard a couple of these little modern philosophers discussing the Bible. One said: |The Bible says that Balaam's ass spoke. Now, I am a scientific man, and I have taken the pains to examine an ass's mouth, and it is so formed that it couldn't speak.|
He was going to toss the whole Bible over because Balaam's ass couldn't speak.
My friend said he stood it just as long as he could, and finally he said:
|Ah, man, you make an ass, and I will make him speak.|
The idea that the God who made the ass couldn't speak through his mouth! Did you ever hear such stuff? And yet this was one of your modern philosophers!
The Border Apple-Tree
If you want real peace and rest to your soul, keep separate from the world.
I remember when I was a boy in Northfield, right near the old red schoolhouse there was an apple-tree that bore the earliest apples of any tree in town. They had a law in that town that fruit on a tree overhanging the street belonged to the public, and any fruit on the other side of the fence belonged to the property-holders. Half that apple-tree was over in the street, and it got more old brooms and brickbats and handles than any other tree in town. We boys used to watch to see when an apple was getting red. I never got a ripe apple from that tree in my life, and I don't believe any one else ever did. You never went by that tree that you didn't see a lot of broom-handles and clubs up there.
Now, take a lot of Christians who want to live right on the line, with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. They get more clubs than any one else. The world clubs them. They say, |I don't believe in that man's religion.| And the church clubs them. They get clubs both sides. It is a good deal better to keep just as far from the line as you can if you want power.
A friend of mine said he had a beautiful canary bird; he thought it was the sweetest singer they had ever had. Spring came on, and he felt it was a pity to keep the poor bird in the house, so he put it under a tree right in front of his house. He said before he knew it a lot of these little English sparrows got under that tree (and you know they cannot sing any more than I can, and I don't know one note from another), and went, |Chirp, chirp, chirp.| Before he knew it, that little canary had lost all its sweet notes. It had got into bad company.
After he found out that he had made a mistake, he took the bird into the house, but it kept up that |Chirp, chirp, chirp.| He bought another bird, but the canary nearly ruined it. He said that bird never got back its sweet notes.
Now, don't you know lots of Christian people who had a fine testimony several years ago, but they have lost their witness, and all they do now is talk, talk, talk, talk? Why? Because they are out of communion with God, and have lost their witness.
|Hitch On| and |Cut Behind|
Some one tells of an incident that happened in a New England town the other day. All the boys were sleighing. A big sleigh -- we call it a |pung| up there -- was being driven through the streets by an old man who looked like Santa Claus. He was calling out to the small boys to hitch on, for a pung is like a 'bus, it always holds one more.
There were already about twenty rollicking boys hitched on, when one little fellow dropped off behind. He tried, but couldn't catch up again, and pretty soon he began to look out for another chance for a ride. A man's sleigh was standing near by, and the boy began to eye the man. When the man in the sleigh started off, the little fellow hitched on behind, and the man grabbed his whip and struck him directly in the eye. It looked as if the eye had been put out, but it wasn't.
Now, that's the way we go through this world. Some say, |Hitch on, hitch on|; others, |Cut behind, cut behind.| The hitch-on people fill the churches, and the cut-behind ones empty them.
Known by Name
A friend of mine was in Syria, and he found a shepherd that kept up the old custom of naming his sheep. My friend said he wouldn't believe that the sheep knew him when he called them by name. So he said to the shepherd:
|I wish you would just call one or two.|
The shepherd said, |Carl.|
The sheep stopped eating and looked up.
The shepherd called out, |Come here.|
The sheep came, and stood looking up into his face.
He called another, and another, and there they stood looking up at the shepherd.
|How can you tell them apart?|
|Oh, there are no two alike. See, that sheep toes in a little; this sheep is a little bit squint-eyed; that sheep has a black spot on its nose.|
My friend found that he knew every one of his sheep by their failings. He didn't have a perfect one in his flock.
I suppose that is the way the Lord knows you and me. There is a man that is covetous; he wants to grasp the whole world. He wants a shepherd to keep down that spirit. There is a woman down there who has an awful tongue; she keeps the whole neighborhood stirred up. There is a woman over there who is deceitful, terribly so. She needs the care of a shepherd to keep her from deceit, for she will ruin all her children; they will all turn out just like their mother. There is a father over there who wouldn't swear for all the world before his children, but sometimes he gets provoked in his business and swears before he knows it. Doesn't he need a shepherd's care? I would like to know if there is a man or woman on earth who doesn't need the care of a shepherd. Haven't we all got failings? If you really want to know what your failings are, you can find some one who can point them out. God would never have sent Christ into the world if we didn't need His care. We are as weak and foolish as sheep.
The Right Time for Action
A man was always telling his servant that he was going to do a great thing for him. |I am going to remember you in my will.|
Sambo got his expectations up very high. When the man came to die, it was found that all he had willed Sambo was to be buried in the family lot. That was the big thing, you know. Sambo said he wished he had given him ten dollars, and let the lot go.
If you want to show kindness to a person, show it to him while you are living. I heard a man say that he didn't want people to throw bouquets to him after he was dead, and say, |There, smell them.|
Now, this is the time for action. I have got so tired and sick of this splitting hairs over theology. Man, let us go out and get the fallen up. Lift them up toward God and heaven. We want a practical kind of Christianity.
Criticising the Sermon
Very often a man will hear a hundred good things in a sermon, but there may be one thing that strikes him as a little out of place, and he will go home and sit down at the table and talk right out before his children and magnify that one wrong thing, and not say a word about the hundred good things that were said. That is what people do who criticise.
I remember blaming my mother for sending me to church on the Sabbath. On one occasion the preacher had to send some one into the gallery to wake me up. I thought it was hard to have to work in the field all the week, and then be obliged to go to church and hear a sermon I didn't understand. I thought I wouldn't go to church any more when I got away from home; but I had got so in the habit of going that I couldn't stay away. After one or two Sabbaths, back again to the house of God I went. There I first found Christ, and I have often said since:
|Mother, I thank you for making me go to the house of God when I didn't want to go.|
Transplanting the Lily
|It is easy to go when the time comes. There are no ropes thrown out to pull us ashore; there are no ladders let down to pull us up. Christ comes and takes us by the hand, and says:
|'You have had enough of this. Come up higher!'
|Do you hurt a lily when you pluck it? Is there any rudeness when Jesus touches the cheek, and the red rose of health whitens into the lily of immortal purity and gladness?| -- Talmage.
How many men fold their arms and say:
|If I am one of the elect, I will be saved, and if I ain't, I won't. No use of your bothering about it.|
Why don't some of these merchants say: |If God is going to make me a successful merchant in Chicago, I will be one whether I like it or not, and if He isn't I won't.|
If you are sick, and a doctor prescribes for you, don't take the medicine -- throw it out the door. It does not matter, for if God has decreed you are going to die, you will; if He hasn't, you will get better. If you use that argument you may as well not walk home from this tabernacle. If God has said you'll get home, you'll get home -- you'll fly through the air.
I have an idea that the Lord Jesus saw how men were going to stumble over this doctrine, so after He had been thirty or forty years in heaven He came down and spoke to John. One Lord's day in Patmos, He said to him:
|Write these things to the churches.|
John kept on writing. His pen flew very fast. And then the Lord, when it was nearly finished, said, |John, before you close the book, put in one more invitation. 'The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take the water of life freely.'|
The Mysteries of the Bible
Dr. Talmage tells the story that one day while he was bothering his theological professor with questions about the mysteries of the Bible, the latter turned on him and said:
|Mr. Talmage, you will have to let God know some things you don't.|
The Little Lone One
I sometimes think if an angel were to wing its way to heaven, and tell them that there was one little child here on earth -- it might be a shoeless, coatless street Arab -- with no one to lead it to the cross of Christ, and if God were to call the angels round His throne and ask them to go and spend -- aye, fifty years, in teaching that child, there would not be an angel in heaven but would respond gladly to the appeal. We should see even Gabriel saying, |Let me go and win that soul to Christ.| We should see Paul buckling on his old armor again, and saying, |Let me go back again to earth, that I may have the joy of leading that little one to his Saviour.|
Ah! we need rousing; there is too much apathy amongst professing Christians. Let us pray God that He may send His Holy Spirit to inspire us with fresh energy and zeal to do His work.
It is the privilege of every child of God to know that he is saved, and yet I find ever so many people living in Doubting Castle. Why, it is salvation by doubts nowadays, instead of by faith; there are so few that dare to say, |I know that my Redeemer liveth; I know in whom I have believed.| We find most Christians nowadays shivering and trembling from head to foot -- they do not know whether they are saved or not.
Bishop Ryle has very well likened faith to a root whose flower is assurance. To have the latter, he says, it is necessary that there must first be the hidden source of faith.
Faith is the simplest and most universal experience in the world. Call it by whatever name you may, confidence, trust, or belief, it is inseparable from the human race. The first sign of a dawning intelligence in the mind is the exercise of the infant's faith toward those it knows, and its fear toward those it does not know. We cannot even remember when we first began to have faith.
Confessing Christ at Home
I was preaching in Chicago to a hall full of women one Sunday afternoon, and after the meeting was over a lady came to me and said she wanted to talk to me. She said she would accept Christ, and after some conversation she went home. I looked for her for a whole week, but didn't see her until the following Sunday afternoon. She came and sat down right in front of me, and her face had such a sad expression. She seemed to have entered into the misery, instead of the joy, of the Lord.
After the meeting was over I went to her and asked her what the trouble was.
She said, |Oh, Mr. Moody, this has been the most miserable week of my life.|
I asked her if there was any one with whom she had had trouble and whom she could not forgive.
She said, |No, not that I know of.|
|Well, did you tell your friends about having found the Saviour?|
|Indeed I didn't. I have been all the week trying to keep it from them.|
|Well,| I said, |that is the reason why you have no peace.|
She wanted to take the crown, but did not want the cross. My friends, you must go by the way of Calvary. If you ever get peace and joy you must get it at the foot of the cross.
|Why,| she said, |if I should go home and tell my infidel husband that I had found Christ, I don't know what he would do. I think he would turn me out.|
|Well,| I said, |go out.|
She went away, promising that she would tell him, timid and pale, but she did not want another wretched week. She was bound to have peace.
The next night I gave a lecture to men only, and in the hall there were eight thousand men and one solitary woman. When I got through and went into the inquiry meeting I found this lady with her husband. She introduced him to me (he was a doctor and a very influential man), and said:
|He wants to become a Christian.|
I took my Bible and told him all about Christ, and he accepted Him. I said to her after it was all over:
|It turned out quite differently from what you expected, didn't it?|
|Yes,| she replied; |I was never so scared in my life. I expected he would do something dreadful, but it has turned out so well.|
She took God's way, and got the joy and peace she sought.
How to Settle the Theater Question
A lady came to me once and said, |Mr. Moody, I wish you would tell me how I can become a Christian.| The tears were rolling down her cheeks, and she was in a very favorable mood. |But,| she said, |I don't want to be one of your kind.|
|Well,| I asked, |have I got any peculiar kind? What is the matter with my Christianity?|
|Well,| she said, |my father was a doctor, and had a large practice, and he used to get so tired that he used to take us to the theater. There was a large family of girls, and we had tickets for the theaters three or four times a week. I suppose we were there a good deal oftener than we were in church. I am married to a lawyer, and he has a large practice. He gets so tired that he takes us out to the theater,| and she said, |I am far better acquainted with the theater and theater people than with the church and church people, and I don't want to give up the theater.|
|Well,| I said, |did you ever hear me say anything about theaters? There have been reporters here every day for all the different papers, and they are giving my sermons verbatim in one paper. Have you ever seen anything in the sermons against the theaters?|
She said, |No.|
|Well,| I said, |I have seen you in the audience every afternoon for several weeks, and have you heard me say anything against theaters?|
No, she hadn't.
|Well,| I said, |what made you bring them up?|
|Why, I supposed you didn't believe in theaters.|
|What made you think that?|
|Why,| she said, |do you ever go?|
|Why don't you go?|
|Because I have got something better. I would sooner go out into the street and eat dirt than do some of the things I used to do before I became a Christian.|
|Why!| she said; |I don't understand.|
|Never mind,| I said. |When Jesus Christ has the preeminence, you will understand it all. He didn't come down here and say we shouldn't go here and we shouldn't go there, and lay down a lot of rules, but He laid down great principles. Now, He says if you love Him you will take delight in pleasing Him.| And I began to preach Christ to her. The tears started again. She said:
|I tell you, Mr. Moody, that sermon on the indwelling Christ yesterday afternoon just broke my heart. I admire Him, and I want to be a Christian, but I don't want to give up the theaters.|
I said, |Please don't mention them again. I don't want to talk about theaters. I want to talk to you about Christ.| So I took my Bible, and I read to her about Christ.
But she said again, |Mr. Moody, can I go to the theater if I become a Christian?|
|Yes,| I said, |you can go to the theater just as much as you like if you are a real, true Christian, and can go with His blessing.|
|Well,| she said, |I am glad you are not so narrow-minded as some.|
She felt quite relieved to think that she could go to the theaters and be a Christian. But I said:
|If you can go to the theater for the glory of God, keep on going; only be sure that you go for the glory of God. If you are a Christian you will be glad to do whatever will please Him.|
I really think she became a Christian that day. The burden had gone, there was joy; but just as she was leaving me at the door she said:
|I am not going to give up the theater.|
In a few days she came back to me and said: |Mr. Moody, I understand all about that theater business now. I went the other night. There was a large party at our house, and my husband wanted us to go, and we went; but when the curtain lifted everything looked so different. I said to my husband, 'This is no place for me; this is horrible. I am not going to stay here, I am going home.' He said, 'Don't make a fool of yourself. Every one has heard that you have been converted in the Moody meetings, and if you go out it will be all through fashionable society. I beg of you don't make a fool of yourself by getting up and going out.' But I said, 'I have been making a fool of myself all of my life.'|
Now, the theater hadn't changed, but she had got something better, and she was going to overcome the world. |They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.| When Christ has the first place in your heart you are going to get victory. Just do whatever you know will please Him. The great objection I have to these things is that they get the mastery, and become a hindrance to spiritual growth.
What a Sister Can Do
I want to say to young ladies, perhaps you have a godless father or mother, or a skeptical brother, who is going down through drink, and perhaps there is no one who can reach them but you. How many times a godly, pure young lady has taken the light into some darkened home! Many a home might be lit up with the Gospel if the mothers and daughters would only speak the word.
The last time Mr. Sankey and myself were in Edinburgh, there were a father, two sisters, and a brother, who used every morning to take the morning paper and pick my sermon to pieces. They were indignant to think that the Edinburgh people should be carried away with such preaching. One day one of the sisters was going by the hall, and she thought she would drop in and see what class of people went there. She happened to take a seat by a godly lady, who said to her:
|I hope you are interested in this work,|
She tossed her head and said: |Indeed I am not. I am disgusted with everything I have seen and heard.|
|Well,| said the lady, |perhaps you came prejudiced.|
|Yes, and the meeting has not removed any of it, but has rather increased it.|
|I have received a great deal of good from them.|
|There is nothing here for me. I don't see how an intellectual person can be interested.|
To make a long story short, she got the young lady to promise to come back. When the meeting broke up, just a little of the prejudice had worn away. She promised to come back again the next day, and then she attended three or four more meetings, and became quite interested. She said nothing to her family, until finally the burden became too heavy, and she told them. They laughed at her, and made her the butt of their ridicule.
One day the two sisters were together, and the other said, |Now what have you got at those meetings that you didn't have in the first place?|
|I have a peace that I never knew of before. I am at peace with God, myself, and all the world.| Did you ever have a little war of your own with your neighbors, in your own family? And she said: |I have self-control. You know, sister, if you had said half the mean things before I was converted that you have said since, I would have been angry and answered back, but if you remember correctly, I haven't answered once since I have been converted.|
The sister said, |You certainly have something that I have not.|
The other told her it was for her, too, and she brought the sister to the meetings, where she found peace.
Like Martha and Mary, they had a brother but he was a member of the University of Edinburgh. He be converted? He go to these meetings? It might do for women, but not for him! One night they came home and told him that a chum of his own, a member of the university, had stood up and confessed Christ, and when he sat down his brother got up and confessed; and so with the third one.
When the young man heard it, he said: |Do you mean to tell me that he has been converted?|
|Well,| he said, |there must be something in it.|
He put on his hat and coat, and went to see his friend Black. Black got him down to the meetings, and he was converted.
We went through to Glasgow, and had not been there six weeks when news came that that young man had been stricken down, and had died. When he was dying he called his father to his bedside and said:
|Wasn't it a good thing that my sisters went to those meetings? Won't you meet me in heaven, father?|
|Yes, my son, I am so glad you are a Christian; that is the only comfort that I have in losing you. I will become a Christian, and will meet you again.|
I tell this to encourage some sister to go home and carry the message of salvation. It may be that your brother may be taken away in a few months.
How one Man Treated Doubts
A wild and prodigal young man, who was running a headlong career to ruin came into one of our meetings in Chicago. Whilst endeavoring to bring him to Christ, I quoted this verse to him: |Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.|
I asked him: |Do you believe Christ said that?|
|I suppose He did.|
|Suppose He did! do you believe it?|
|I hope so.|
|Hope so! do you believe it? You do your work, and the Lord will do His. Just come as you are, and throw yourself upon His bosom, and He will not cast you out.|
This man thought it was too simple and easy.
At last light seemed to break in upon him, and he seemed to find comfort from it. It was past midnight before he got down on his knees, but down he went, and was converted. I said:
|Now, don't think you are going to get out of the devil's territory without trouble. The devil will come to you to-morrow morning and say it was all feeling; that you only imagined you were accepted by God. When he does, don't fight him with your own opinions, but fight him with John vi.37: 'Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out.' Let that be 'the sword of the Spirit.'|
I don't believe that any man ever starts to go to Christ but the devil strives somehow or other to meet him and trip him up. And even after he has come to Christ, the devil tries to assail him with doubts, and make him believe there is something wrong in it.
The struggle came sooner than I thought in this man's case. When he was on his way home the devil assailed him. He used this text, but the devil put this thought into his mind:
|How do you know Christ ever said that after all? Perhaps the translators made a mistake.|
Into darkness he went again. He was in trouble till about two in the morning. At last he came to this conclusion. Said he:
|I will believe it anyway; and when I get to heaven, if it isn't true, I will just tell the Lord I didn't make the mistake -- the translators made it.|
Use or Lose
An Eastern allegory runs thus: A merchant, going abroad for a time, gave respectively to two of his friends two sacks of wheat each, to take care of against his return. Years passed. When he came back, he applied for them again.
The first took him into a storehouse, and showed him his sacks; but they were mildewed and worthless.
The other led him out into the open country, and pointed to field after field of waving wheat, the produce of the two sacks given him.
Said the merchant: |You have been a faithful friend. Give me two sacks of that wheat; the rest shall be thine.|
Let us put to good use the talents God has given us.
The Anchored Boat
I once heard of two men who were under the influence of liquor. They came down at night to where their boat was tied. They wanted to return home, so they got in and began to row. They pulled away hard all night, wondering why they never got to the other side of the bay. When the gray dawn of morning broke, behold! they had never loosed the mooring line or raised the anchor!
That's just the way with many who are striving to enter the kingdom of heaven. They cannot believe, because they are tied to this world. Cut the cord! Confess and forsake your sins! Cut the cord! Set yourselves free from the clogging weight of earthly things, and you will soon rise heavenward.
Not Much up There
A friend of mine was once taken by an old man to see his riches. He took him to a splendid mansion, and said, |This is all mine.| He pointed to a little town, |That is mine; it is called by my name.| He pointed to a rolling prairie, |That is all mine; the sun never shone on a finer prairie than that, so fruitful and rich, and it's all mine.| In another direction he showed him fertile farms extending for thirty miles, |These are all mine.| He took him into his grand house, showed him his beautiful pictures, his costly gold plate, his jewels, and still he said, |These are all mine. This grand hall I have built; it is called by my name; there is my insignia on it. And yet I was once a poor boy. I have made it all myself.|
My friend looked at him. |Well, you've all this on earth; but what have you got up there?|
|Up where?| said the old man.
|Up in heaven.|
|Well, I'm afraid I haven't got much up there.|
|Ah,| said my friend, |but you've got to die, to leave this world; what will you take with you of all these things? You will die a beggar; for all these riches count as nothing in the kingdom of heaven. You will be a pauper; for you have no inheritance with the saints above.| The poor old man (he was poor enough in reality, though rich in all the world's goods) burst into tears. He had no hope for the future. In four months' time he was dead; and where is he now? He lived and died without God, and without hope in this world or the next.
Touching the Spot
When a man has broken his arm, the surgeon must find out the exact spot where the fracture is. He feels along and presses gently with his fingers.
|Is it there?|
|Is it there?|
Presently, when the surgeon touches another spot, |Ouch!| says the man.
He has found the broken part, and it hurts.
It is one thing to hear a man preach down other people's sins. Men will say, |That is splendid,| and will want all their friends to go and hear the preacher. But let him touch on their individual sin, and declare, as Nathan did to David, |Thou art the man,| and they say, |I do not like that.| The preacher has touched a sore place.
The Little Boy and the Big Book
I like to think of Christ as a burden bearer.
A minister was one day moving his library upstairs. As he was going up with a load of books, his little boy came in, and was very anxious to help his father. So his father just told him to go and get an armful, and bring them upstairs. When the father came back, he met the little fellow about half-way up, tugging away at the biggest book in the library. He couldn't manage to carry it up. It was too big. So he sat down and cried.
His father found him, and just took him in his arms, book and all, and carried him upstairs. So Christ will carry you and all your burdens, if you will but let Him.
The Invitation to a Saloon Opening
They were going to have a great celebration at the opening of a saloon and billiard hall in Chicago, in the northern part of the city, where I lived. It was to be a gateway to death and to hell, one of the worst places in Chicago. As a joke they sent me an invitation to go to the opening. I took the invitation, and went down and saw the two men who had the saloon, and I said:
|Is that a genuine invitation?|
They said it was.
|Thank you,| I said; |I will be around, and if there is anything here I don't like I may have something to say about it.|
They said, |You are not going to preach, are you?|
|We don't want you. We won't let you in.|
|How are you going to keep me out?| I asked. |There is the invitation.|
|We will put a policeman at the door.|
|What is the policeman going to do with that invitation?|
|We won't let you in.|
|Well,| I said, |I will be there.|
I gave them a good scare, and then I said, |I will compromise the matter; if you two men will get down here and let me pray with you, I will let you off.|
I got those two rum-sellers down on their knees, one on one side of me and the other on the other side, and I prayed God to save their souls and smite their business. One of them had a Christian mother, and he seemed to have some conscience left. After I had prayed, I said:
|How can you do this business? How can you throw this place open to ruin the young men of Chicago?|
Within three months the whole thing smashed up, and one of them was converted shortly after. I have never been invited to a saloon since.
At our church in Chicago I was closing the meeting one day, when a young soldier got up and entreated the people to decide for Christ at once. He said he had just come from a dark scene. A comrade of his, who had enlisted with him, had a father who was always entreating him to become a Christian, and in reply he always said he would when the war was over. At last he was wounded, and was put into the hospital, but got worse, and was gradually sinking. One day, a few hours before he died, a letter came from his sister, but he was too far gone to read it. It was such an earnest letter! The comrade read it to him, but he did not seem to understand it, he was so weak, till it came to the last sentence, which said:
|Oh, my dear brother, when you get this letter, will you not accept your sister's Savior?|
The dying man sprang up from his cot, and said, |What do you say? what do you say?| And then, falling back on his pillow, feebly exclaimed, |It is too late! It is too late!|
My dear friends, thank God it is not too late for you to-day. The Master is still calling you. Let every one of us, young and old, rich and poor, come to Christ at once, and He will put all our sins away. Don't wait any longer for feeling, but obey at once. You can believe, you can trust, you can lay hold on eternal life, if you will. Will you not do it now?