"And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, washing away thy sin, calling on the name of the Lord" (especially the first part of the verse, "Why tarriest thou?").-Acts xxii. 16.
It was God who asked the question, through His servant Ananias, of Saul of Tarsus; and I believe that God is asking that same question to-night through me of every man and woman and child in this building that is not an openly confessed, out-and-out follower of Jesus Christ. God is saying to you to-night, "Why tarriest thou? What are you waiting for? Why do you not come out to-night on the side of Jesus Christ?" You remember that Saul of Tarsus hated Jesus Christ Saul of Tarsus thought that Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor; he did not believe that He was the Christ and the Son of God as He claimed to be. But away down in the depths of his heart Saul of Tarsus had an uneasy feeling that perhaps He was the Christ, perhaps He was the Son of God, but he never admitted it even to himself. As far as big admitted convictions were concerned, Saul of Tarsus thought Jesus was an impostor, and he hated Jesus with a very intense hatred; and he said, "I am going to stamp out this religion of the followers of Jesus." And he not only hated Jesus Christ, but he hated everybody that bore the name of Christ, and whenever he saw a man or woman or child that believes in Jesus and followed Him, he hated them. He did everything in his power to stamp out the religion of Jesus. He went from house to house in Jerusalem, and arrested men and women and children, sparing neither age nor sex, and dragged them before the courts to be tried; and when they were sentenced to death, he gave his vote for their execution. But at last Saul of Tarsus had exhausted all the opportunities for murder in Jerusalem, but he had not exhausted the hatred of his heart. He breathed an atmosphere of murder and slaughter, and hearing that a
hundred and more miles away, in the city of Damascus, there were followers of Jesus, he went, with a heart full of hatred, to the High Priest, and said, "Give me letters to Damascus, and I will go and do in Damascus what I have done in Jerusalem. I will arrest all the Christians, whether men or women or children, and I will bring them down here to Jerusalem to be punished." His request was quickly granted.
It was a long journey across the barren, desolate, dreary desert, whether on foot or on horseback, but day after day Saul of Tarsus pressed on, not even staying for the burning heart of the noonday sun. At last he has almost reached Damascus, and he stands on the last hilltop, and there Damascus lies before him, in all its beauty, a city of olive groves, a city of vineyards, a city of gardens, and of flashing fountains, a city of glittering palaces and dashing rivers, a city of which poets loved to sing, and of which one Persian poet says, "Damascus is a diamond in a setting of emeralds." But as Saul looks down on Damascus in all its far-famed beauty, he has no eye for its beauty; his only thought is that in that city are some of there accursed Christians, and he adds to himself as he stands there, "I will soon have them in my power, and be dragging them back to be punished at Jerusalem." He starts to press on towards the city, to do the hellish work for which he has come, when suddenly there shines round about him a marvelous light with a brightness about that of the noonday sun, and there in the midst of it he beholds the most wondrous face and form his eyes had ever gazed upon, the face and form of the glorified Christ. He is blinded by the glory of it and falls on his face to the ground. He hears a voice speaking to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and the humbled man cries back from the ground, "Who art Thou, Lord?" and back comes the crushing and overwhelming answer, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Men, thoroughly subdued and awed, he cries back, "What wilt Thou have me to do, Lord?
" And the answer comes, "Arise, stand upon thy feet, and go into Damascus, and there it shall be told you what thou must do." He rises to his feet, but everything is black. He turns his eyes hither and thither, but he sees nothing. He has to hold out his hand and be led like a helpless child into the city he expected to enter as a conqueror. He goes to the house of Judas, and there for three days and three nights he shuts himself up and sees no one, neither eating, sleeping, nor drinking; but still he does not yield himself up to Christ. At last, God, weary of waiting, sends His servant Ananias with the message, "Why do you not come out openly and confess Him whom you know to be the Christ?"
Men and women, God is putting the some question to you: "Why tarriest thou? Why do you not come out openly and accept Christ, and confess Him before the world as your Saviour and Lord and Master?" I wish it were possible for me to go down from this platform, and to go from seat to seat, and from man to man, and put to every man and woman out of Christ this question: What are you waiting for before you come out on the side of Christ? I would have you tell me your real reason. I would have you give me an honest answer, and then I would sit down beside you with the Word of God, and show you h little there is in your reason. If I could do that I believe I could get almost every man and woman in this building that is out of Christ to accept Him to-night. But there is no time of course for that, it would take days and weeks and months, so I am going to ask you to do the next best thing. I am going to ask every man and woman who is not a Christian to forget about every one else, and not to look at me as preaching a sermon to a multitude, but to think of you and me as being here alone in personal conversation together, face to face. Will you put to yourself this question before we begin our conversation, "What am I waiting for? Why do I not come out on the side of Christ to-night?" Now we are going to have a few moments of silence and prayer, and I am going to ask every Christian man and woman in the room to pray that every one may be honest, and I am going to ask all of you who are not Christians to put this question to yourselves, "What am I waiting for?" Let us have silence.
Will every man and woman put to themselves the question, "What is the real reason that I do not accept and confess Christ to-night; what am I waiting for?" Now I will take up your answers one by one.
1. Some of you have said to-night, ""I am waiting until I shall be convinced; just as soon as I am convinced that the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Son of God, I will accept Christ as my Saviour, and confess Him before the world." Now, I want to make an offer to every man and woman who has made that answer. If you will come to me at the close of this meeting, I will show you the way to find out that, beyond all peradventure, the Bible is God's Word, and Jesus Christ is God's Son. Now, if you are an honest skeptic, you will accept that offer, and if you do not accept it, never say again that you are a skeptic. You are a humbug. Of course, if you are only a trifler I have no time to waste upon you, but if you are a sincere doubter, I would rather speak with you than anybody else in the building, for I have yet to find the first sincere doubter, the first sincere agnostic, the first sincere atheist, the first spiritualist, the first Christian Scientist, the first Theosophist, who really wanted to know the truth, that I could not show the way to find it. All over the world to-night there are men who used to be agnostics and doubters whom it has been my privilege to lead to Jesus. If you are an honest skeptic, you will accept that offer, and if you do not, at least one good result will come of it-you will know when you go out of this hall that you are not an honest skeptic. I went to a man one night during my first pastorate; he was standing away at the end of the hall between the two doors, and I stepped up to him and said, "Mr. B. (I knew him very well, he was one of the most prominent business men in the place and one of the most highly esteemed) "Why are you not a Christian?" "Well," he replied, "I don't boast about it, but I don't believe anything." I said, "Don't you believe there is a God?" And he said, "I have never given up faith that there is a supreme Being." "Well," I said, "if there is a God, you ought to surrender your will to Him. Will you do it? Will you take your stand upon the will of God, and follow it wherever it carries you?" He replied, "I try to live now as near right as I know how" (I believe he did, for he was one of the most upright men in the community). But I said, "That is not what I asked; will you take your stand upon the will of God, and follow it wherever it carries you?" He said, "I have never put it in quite that way." I said, "Will you put it that way to-night?" He said, "I will." Then I said, "One more thing; do you believe God answers prayer?" "No," he said, "I do not." He said, "I have often lain awake at night thinking about that, and I have come to the conclusion that God does not answer prayer." "Well," I said, I know He does, and you can test it to-day. Pray this prayer: "Oh, God, show me if Jesus Christ is Thy Son or not, and if You show me that He is, I promise to accept Him as my Saviour, and confess Him before the world." He said., "I will." That same week I saw that gentleman come in to the prayer meeting at the church, a very unusual thing for him to do, and as soon as I threw open the prayer meeting, I saw this man rise to his feet. He said "Friends, I doubted everything; I was in a perfect mist; I did not know what I believed; I did not know as I believed anything." Then he told us what he had done. He had been honest with himself and with God and with truth, and he had done what he had promised to do. "And now," he said, "my mists have all gone, and I do not know where they have gone." You say, "I doubt that story." Well try it for yourselves.
Another Man in that same community lived across the street from my house, and I went to see him one evening; the sun, was just setting, and I was standing on his front lawn, talking with him, for, though he was an agnostic and I was a Christian minister, we were good friends. Christians ought not to get off somewhere where nobody of an ordinary kind can touch them. The Word says, "Ye are the salt of the earth." You cannot preserve meat by putting meat in one barrel and salt in another. Well, I was standing on this man's lawn; suddenly he turned to me -the sun had gone down and there followed a peculiar glow in the sky, and I think he felt a strange influence from it- he said to me suddenly, Dr. Torrey, I am sixty-six years of age, and I have no one to leave my money to" (and he had a good amount to leave). "I cannot take a penny of it with me, and I would give every penny of it, if I could believe as you do." I said, "I can tell you how." He said, "I wish you would." I said, "Let us go in." We stepped into the house and I asked his wife for a sheet of paper, and I wrote on it something like this: "I believe there is an absolute difference between right and wrong" -I did not say "I believe there is a God;" he did not affirm or deny that, and I began just where he was- "I believe there is an absolute difference between right and wrong, and I hereby take my stand on the right to follow it wherever it carries me. I promise to make an earnest search to find if Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and if I find that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I promise to accept Him as my Saviour and confess Him before the world." When I had written that, I said, "Mr. H., read that." He read it. "Now," I said, "will you sign that?" "Why, anybody ought to be willing to sign that," he replied. "Well, will you sign it?" I said. "All you ask me to sign is what my own conscience tells me I ought to do. Anybody ought to be willing to sign that." "Yes I said, "but will you sign it?" And he said again, "Anybody ought to be willing to sign that." "Will you sign it?" "I will think about it."
He never signed it, and he died as he had lived, without God and without hope. He went out into the darkness of a Christless eternity, and I ask you, "whose fault was it?" Away out in the darkness a light had been shown to him, and he confessed that his own conscience told him that he ought to be willing to follow it, and he would not follow it. Will you follow it? You say you are skeptics and agnostics; so I used to be, but I was an honest man, and when a way was pointed out I tried to see where it led, and thank God, it led out of the barrenness and desolation and darkness of utter nihilism into a clear faith that cannot be shaken, that that blessed Book is God's Word, and that the Christ of that Book is the Son of God.
2. Well, some one else may say, "My case is different. I believe in the Bible just as much as you do, but I am waiting till I have enjoyed the world enough." There are a great many people of that kind in London. Some of them have grown old and gray in that condition. They make the mistake of thinking that when they grow tired of the world, they can turn to Christ without any sacrifice; they think that after a while a man will grow tired of the world and give it up without an effort. What a great mistake! The longer you live for the world the less enjoyment you get out of it, but the tighter its grip becomes upon your shriveling soul. There will never be another night when it is so easy to give up the world as it is to-night. You know that is true in the case of the drinking man, When a man begins to drink, there is pleasure in it; the first glass of beer or of wine or of champagne has joy in it, and exhilaration in it -a man feels like two men; but as a man goes on drinking there is less and less joy, but the more complete his slavery becomes, until at last a man reaches a place, which thousands of men and women in London have already reached, where they hate alcohol as much as any prohibitionist, but are utterly unable to give it up. They know it is robbing them of their brains, they know it is robbing them of their manhood, of the respect of the community, of the affection of their wives, and the confidence of their children. They know it is taking the bread out of their children's mouths, and the clothes from their wives' backs; yet, hating it as they do, they will take up their glass filled with liquid damnation, and drink it to the dregs. You say, "That is true." It is just as true of the love of money. The slavery of money is as complete and as degrading as the slavery of strong drink. I would rather undertake to save ten drunkards than one money fiend, any day. When a man begins, there is pleasure in it; the first ten pounds, or the first hundred pounds, or perhaps the first thousand pounds that he lays by gives him joy; but as a man goes on accumulating, there is less and less pleasure, and at last there is no pleasure at all, but the man is the slave of the degrading lust for gold. I was visiting a man in the State of Ohio when I was living in Minneapolis, in the Boom days, when men were making fortunes in a day. The man to whom I refer had a comfortable fortune of about L100,000, and was now upwards of seventy years of age. One foot was in the grave, and the other foot almost over the edge. Only a few weeks before I came to see him, they had to send post-haste for the doctor to come and pull the man's other foot away from the edge of the grave. After everybody else had gone to bed, he said to me in a low tone of voice- what do you think? "Oh," you say, "something about Heaven, something about eternity; a man with one foot in the grave and the other almost over would wish to talk about the future and what it meant for him." But no, he leaned over and said: "To you know any place up in Minneapolis where I could invest my money where it would bring big interest?" Oh, some of you men are going ,very fast that same road selling your souls for damning gold. It is just the same way with the love for pleasure. The first dance, the first card party, the first theatre, all the excitement of it and the pleasure of it and the exhilaration of it; but as one goes on the pleasure of these things becomes less and less, and more and more complete does the slavery to them become. The time will never Come when you have enjoyed the world enough. Furthermore, there is more joy in Jesus Christ in twenty-four hours than there is in the world in 365 days. I have tried them both.
Further, suppose while you are waiting until you have enjoyed the world enough you are called out of the world. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" One night I went down the aisle almost to the far end of it, and the people were standing up singing, and I turned to a young lady and I said to her, "Why don't you become a Christian?" "Oh," she said, "I enjoy the world too much.", I simply quoted God's word to her, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?' and passed on. The meetings went on and the last night came. The last meeting had finished, and, after I had returned to the house where I was staying, my hostess came to me and said, "Two young ladies want to see you; they are waiting in the other room." I went in, and one of them was the young lady of whom I am speaking. I said to her, "Why do you want to see me?" "Oh," she said, "I do not enjoy the world any more; since you spoke to me your words have been ringing in my ears: 'What shall it profit a man if be gain the whole world and lose his own soul?' And I have come to-night, and have brought my friend with me, so that you may tell us what to do to be saved." Oh, that those words would ring in the ears of some of you men and women until you cannot rest, until you come to the Son of God for rest and joy, which is rest and joy indeed.
3. "I am waiting for my friend," says another. That is true of a great many persons. Young men are waiting for their friends, and young ladies are waiting for their lady friends, women are waiting for their husbands, lovers are waiting for their sweethearts- one is waiting for another. What I say to you is, You come to Christ first, and bring your friends along. If your friends love you as much as you love them, when you come to Christ they will come too. It is better that you should take them to Heaven with you than that they should take you to hell with them.
I was staying at one time with a minister, and he told me this story. He said: "After my wife and I had been married for fourteen and a half years she turned to me one night and said, 'Husband, I have made up my mind to be a Christian and to unite with the Church.'" He said, "I was very angry; I was the principal of the schools in that town and held a prominent position, and I said to her, 'Why, you must not do it; you and I have lived very happily together for fourteen and a half years, but if you become a Christian, I have no intention of becoming one, and that will just separate us for ever.' But she said to me, 'I must be a Christian. I love you, and would do almost anything to please you, but I feel I must first please God.' 'Well,' I said, 'you become a Christian, if you feel that you want to, but you must not unite with the Church.' "She regarded my wishes in this respect, and so we went on for six months, she a Christian, and I not. Then she said to me, 'Husband, I must become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.'" (Of course, if a person is converted they will never be happy out of the Church.) "Then" her husband said, "I was very angry, and said to her, 'If you do join the Church, I want you to I understand that you are nothing more to me. We have lived happily together now for fifteen years, but if you unite yourself with the Church from this time on you go your way, and I shall go mine, and you will be nothing more to me! She said, 'Husband, I love you, and I would do all I could to please you, but I must first of all please God, and I have made up my mind to unite with the Church to-morrow.' She went to her room, and I went to mine. I was very angry with her. I was getting angrier all the time. I could not sleep. I heard eleven o'clock strike, and I was very angry; I heard twelve O'clock strike, and I was more angry still; I heard one o'clock, and I was angrier still; but when two o'clock came, I called out to my wife, 'Wife, I am converted.'" The husband and wife went into the Church together. He became a minister of the Gospel, and to-day he is in Heaven. If that wife had waited for him, they would have gone down to a Christless grave and a Christless eternity together. Oh, men and women, come to Christ and bring your friends with you. Even if they do not come, you come to Christ. I would start for Heaven to-night, even if I had to start alone. I would rather go to heaven alone than go to hell in company. I believe that one of the darkest experiences of that dark world will be when a husband that goes there is met by the wife whom he dragged there.
In one, of my pastorates a solemn thing occurred; before I had gone there, in the neighbouring township there had been a great awakening, and many people had come out on the side of Christ, and one night, when the preacher extended an invitation for all those who would accept Christ to come to the front, a lady rose from her place to do so. But her husband, sitting back of her, laid his hand on her shoulder, and forced her back into her seat. She yielded to him, and she drifted away from her conviction into skepticism and blank infidelity. That is the way people become infidels, by resisting the Spirit of God. Show me a hundred infidels, and I will show you in ninety-nine cases men who were under conviction of sin at some time or other, but who have resisted the Spirit of God. This lady became an utter atheist. Some time afterwards there was a revival in the town. It caused the infidels of the town to be greatly stirred up. When we get a revival, it stirs up the infidels wonderfully. They said, "This cannot go on. We will send off and get one of our infidel lecturers;" and they got their lecturer, a follower of Ingersoll. Thank God, they did have that lecturer. People went to hear him; and when they had heard him, they said, "If that is infidelity, we do not want any of it." While waiting for this professor, this lady said, "I can hardly wait for Professor_____ to get here." She did not wait. There was a little card party being held on the Saturday night, and this lady and her friends were among the party. Eleven o'clock on Saturday night came, and they were still playing cards; at twelve o'clock they were still playing; and at one o'clock on Sunday morning-on the Lord's Day-they were still playing cards. Sabbath-breaking and card-playing go hand in hand, you know. About one o'clock in the morning this woman sprang to her feet, clapped her hand on her head, and cried, "Oh!" and dropped dead beside the table. I shall never forget my meeting with her husband after that awful day. I had never spoken to him before; but I happened to walk into the post-office, and this man came in at the same time, and he came across the post-office and held out his hand, and, with a grip of despair, he took my hand in his. He knew he had sent his wife into a Christless eternity. Oh, don't wait for others; come yourself, and bring the others with you.
4. "Well," some one else says, "that is not what I am waiting for; I am waiting for feeling.- I believe that is true of a great many. There is many an earnest soul that would really like to be a Christian, but they think they have not got the right kind of feeling. Some are waiting for the joy and peace that Christians talk about. I went to a young lady once in a meeting like this, and said to her, "Why are you not a Christian ?" She replied, "I have not the right kind of feeling. These people have been talking about the joy and peace that they have; I have not any joy like that, and I cannot come to Christ until I get it." I said, "But that is the result of coming. You don't expect the result, do you, before you take the step?" Suppose I should go and see a very sick man, and I said to him, "What is the matter with you?" and he said, "'Influenza." Then I might say., "I had the influenza some time ago, and I took such and such a remedy, and it cured me completely." Then he would say, "What is that remedy?" Then, when I tell him what it is, he calls for his man, and tells him to run down to the chemist's at once and buy it; and when he brings the bottle back, the sick man hands it to me and says, "Is that it?" and I say, "Yes, that is the medicine." And he says to me, "You say you took it, and it made you better right off?" and I say, "Yes." Then he says, "Thank you for telling me of it; I am so much obliged." Then a few days afterwards I go to see that man, and expect to find him up and well; but instead of that, I find him still in bed and sicker than ever. I say to him, "I don't understand this. Are you not any better?" "No," he says, "I am worse." "Why, how is that?" I ask; "did you not get that medicine which cured me?" "Yes, of course I got it" he says; "were you not in the room when my man brought it to me from the chemists?" "Well, did you take it?" I ask. "Oh, no, I didn't take it," he says; "you said it made you a great deal better right off. But I did not feel any better, so I did not take it!" You would say, "What a foolish man." Is he any more foolish than you? You cannot expect to have the result of accepting Christ until you take the step; take Christ and confess Him, and you will get all the joy you need.
A woman once came to me in one of our missions and said, "I want to be a Christian." I said, "Become one now." She said, "How?" I said, "It is just as simple as it is to walk home." "Oh, but" she said, "I don't feel any better." I said, "Of course you don't. You haven't done the thing to make you feel better." "But all the other folks talk about their joy," she said. I said, "Yes, because they have taken the step that leads to joy. Don't you know you are a sinner, and that Christ died for your sins, and that He is your rightful Lord and Master?" She said, "Yes, I know that" "Well"' I said, "will you take Him for your Saviour, and yield to Him as your Lord and Master now?" She said, "I will." "Then let us get down and pray," I said. When we had prayed, I said, "Now it is too late to confess Christ publicly in the meeting, for the people have nearly all gone, but you confess Christ the first chance you get." "But I don't feel any better," she said. "I did not suppose you would," I said; "You have not gone far enough yet. You must confess Christ before the world, and then the joy and peace will come to you." The next day, when I went to the town hall, before I went on to the platform to address the business men's meeting, I received a note from this lady, which said: "Oh, Dr. Torrey, I feel so grateful to you; I am so-happy. Fifteen minutes after leaving the hall last might I had all the joy I could contain. When I got outside I met my brother, and went home with him: and on the way I told him that I had given myself to Christ; and as I told him, the joy came into my heart, and has been there ever since."
Other people are waiting for conviction of sin. They feel that they cannot come to Christ, because they have not shed tears, and are not overwhelmed with the burden of sin. I like to see conviction of sin, but there is no passage in the whole Bible that says you have got to feel sorry before you are saved. In Isaiah lv. 7 we read, "Let the wicked forsake his way" (not be sorry about it) "and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." It does not say "feel sorry for your sin;" it says, "quit your sin and turn to God." I have seen people very sorry over their sins; they just weep and weep, and then go right out and do the same thing again for which they have professed to be sorry. I have known people just as stolid as a man could be, but they turned from their sin and took Christ in cold blood, as it were, and God kept His word and saved them. And He will keep His promise to-night.
On one occasion in Chicago I went to preach for a Baptist minister. In the second meeting I sat down by a man and his wife, aged about forty years, and I said to him, "Why are you not a Christian?" He said, "I would like to be; I hope to be a Christian some day. My father was a Baptist minister, and my mother is one of the best women that ever lived on earth." "Well," I said, "come right now." He said, "I want to." I said, "Then why don't you?" He said, "I have not got the right kind of feeling." I said, "What do you think is the right kind of feeling?" He said, "I don't feel sorry for my sins. Don't you think a man ought to have conviction of sin?" I said, "I think you ought, but I do not read in my Bible anything that says a man has to feel sorry to be saved. My Bible says, 'Turn from sin and take Christ'; my Bible says, 'Receive Christ.' 'As many as received Him -not to as many as wept over their sins- 'as many as received Him to them gave He power to become sons of God.' Don't you know you are a sinner?" I said. "I know I am a sinner.," he said, "but I don't feel it." I said, "Don't you know that Jesus Christ is your Saviour?" "Yes," he said. "Don't you know it would be the best thing you could do to take Him as your Saviour?" "Yes, I do." Then I said, "Take Him as your Saviour now." He said, "Without feeling sorry?" I said, "Never mind the feeling. Will you take Him?" He said, "I have not any feeling." I said, "See here, what business are you in?" He said, "I am in the real estate business." I said, "Suppose that I should come down to your office to-morrow morning and offer to sell you a corner lot for five thousand dollars, and you knew it was a lot that you could sell in twenty-four hours for ten thousand dollars, but, for some reason or other, you didn't feel like buying it -Would you buy it?" He said, "I would buy it quick, feeling or no feeling." "My friend," I said, "show the same commonsense in religion that you do in business. Don't you know it would be the best paying investment you could make to take Jesus Christ as your Saviour?" He said, "Yes, I do." "Will you do it, then, feeling or no feeling?" He said, "Is that all?" I said, "That is all to start with." "Then," he said, "I will do it." I said, "Will you kneel down and seal the bargain right now?" and we knelt, and he and his wife took Christ. I went back to that church in a few months, and that man had come along so finely that they had made him a trustee of the church.
Men and women., Christ is a Saviour. God offers Him to you; you take Him and it is done. Feeling or no feeling, will you take Him tonight?
No one has a good reason for not coming to Christ. There are a thousand reasons why you ought to come. Every year that you have lived has brought you one year nearer to eternity, and is a reason for coming to Christ to-night; every year that you have still to live and that might be a year of service is a reason for coming to Christ to-night. Every saved friend you have is a reason for coming to Christ to-night, that you may spend eternity with him in Heaven. Every unsaved friend that you have is a reason why you should come to Christ to-night, that you may bring him with you. Every thorn in the Saviour's crown, every nail in the Saviour's hands and feet, every stroke laid upon the Saviour's back, when He was wounded for your transgressions and bruised for your iniquities, and the chastisement of your peace was laid upon Him, is a reason for accepting Christ tonight. Will you do it? Oh, there is an awful risk in delay.
A quaint old preacher of the olden days in our country, the Rev. Dan Baker, puts it in the way of a story. He tells of a man who was crossing the ocean. He was leaning over the side of the vessel; it was a bright sunny day, and not a wave broke the surface of the water, just a little ripple here and there kissed by the rays of the sun. And the man, as he leaned over the rail of the vessel, was tossing something in the air, something which, when it fell through the sunlight, sparkled with singular radiance and glory; and he watched it so eagerly as he tossed it up and caught it as it fell. He tossed it up again and again and again, and it threw out its marvelous light as it fell. At last an onlooker came and said, "May I ask what that is that you are tossing up so carelessly?" He replied, "Certainly; look at it, it is a diamond." "Is it of much value?" asked the onlooker. "Yes, of very great value. See the colour of it, see the size of it. In fact, all I have in the world is in that diamond. I am going to a new country to seek my fortune, and I have sold everything I have, and have put it into that diamond, so as to get it into a portable shape." "Then if it is so valuable, is it not an awful risk you are running in tossing it up so carelessly?" was the next question. "No risk at all. I have been doing this - for the last half-hour," said the man. "But there might come a last time," said the onlooker; but the man laughed and threw it up again, and caught it as it fell, and again and again, and once more, and it flashed and blazed, and looked like a burning coal in the sunlight, and he watches it so eagerly as it falls the last time. Ah, but this time it is too far out. He reaches as far as he can over the rail of the vessel, but he cannot reach far enough. There is a little plash in the ocean. For a moment he stands aghast, and then he cries, '"Lost! lost! lost! All I have in the world, lost!"
You say, "No man would be so great a fool as that; that story is not true." That story is true, and the man is here to-night. Thou art the man in that ocean is eternity; that vessel you are on is life; that diamond is your soul, of priceless value, that soul that Christ put great enough value upon to die for it, to save it. And you have been trifling with it! I come to you to-night and say, "My friend, what is that in your hand which you are playing with so carelessly?" You say, "It is my soul." "Is it worth much?" "More than the whole round earth, 'for what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'" "But don't you think you are taking an awful risk?" "Oh, no," you say, "I have been doing this for the last five years, for the last ten, fifteen, or twenty years." "Yes, but you might do it once too often." "Oh, no," you say, and to-night once more you throw it up. But you may throw it up once too often; it will fall too far out, beyond your reach; there will be a plash, and you will try to look after it; not in the impenetrable depths of the blue ocean, but in the unfathomable depths of the bottomless pit it sinks and sinks and sinks, and you cry, "Lost! lost! lost! my soul is lost!" That may be your cry some day. Come to-night, before it is too late, and put your soul where it will be everlastingly safe, in the keeping of the Son of God.