By Reuben Archer Torrey
Are You a Murderer?
I WAS sitting one day with a very brilliant lawyer in the city of Minneapolis, who was beginning to go down through drink. He was partly intoxicated this day. I said to him, "John, you ought to be a Christian."
"Oh," he said, with a laugh, "I don't believe as you do. I am one of these new theologians. I believe in the larger hope. Now, honour bright," he continued, "do you believe in hell, Torrey?"
"Yes," I replied, "I do."
"Honestly, do you believe in hell?"
"See here, suppose I should drop down dead right here, what do you think would become of me?"
I said, "John, if you should drop down dead right here, you would go to hell and you would deserve to."
He bristled up full of anger and said, "What have I done?"
I said, "I will tell you what you have done. You have got your wife's heart right under your heel, and you are grinding the life right out of it."
He could not deny it. He knew it was true. I said, "You are doing something worse. You are trampling under foot the Son of God who died on the cross of Calvary for you."
How many a young man is killing his mother by his wild, reckless, dissolute life. I was once stopping in a beautiful home, fine house, spacious grounds, many servants, horses and carriages, lawns and parks, everything that money could buy. Now to have gone into that home and not have known what lay beneath the surface, one would have said, "The lady at the head of this house must be perfectly happy." But I found out while I was there that the mother of the household, so far from being perfectly happy, was perfectly miserable. When all the rest of the household were asleep, she would arise in the silent hours of the night and walk up and down the broad halls of that mansion with a breaking heart. She could not sleep. She had a wayward boy in New York City and did not even know where he was. Some months afterwards I stood by the grave into which that woman had been lowered, and that wayward son stood by my side. The doctor's verdict was that that woman died from a stroke of apoplexy, but I said in my heart, "This woman died of murder, and this man beside me, her son, is her murderer."
I told this story once in Melbourne, Australia, in the Town Hall at the business men's meeting. Scarcely had I finished the story when a man thirty or thirty-five years of age in the back part of the room sprang to his feet and came rushing down the aisle crying aloud, "I am a murderer. I am a murderer. I have killed my mother." He was a notorious infidel and drunkard. He had often blasphemed Christ from the public platform in that city, but this day the arrow went home, his sin was laid bare. He went into a side room and fell upon his knees and cried to God for mercy.
After the meeting was over, I went and knelt by his side, where an aged Episcopal clergyman was talking to him. "Oh," he said, "is there pardon for me? For one who has spoken so blasphemously as I have from the infidel platform in this city?" I showed him that there was pardon for the chief of sinners, that there was pardon for one who had killed his mother by his reckless life and even for one who had blasphemed the name of the Saviour who had died on the cross of Calvary for him, and done all he could to get others to blaspheme Him too, and that day he went away trusting in the Saviour, whom he had once blasphemed.
What joy there must have been in that mother's heart that day in the Glory if word of her son's conversion was taken to her.
One night one of my workers called me and said, "Come and talk to this man. He is an infidel."
I went over and talked to him. I said, "Are you an infidel?"
He said, "Yes, I am an infidel."
I said, "Will you tell me why you are an infidel?"
He said, "Yes, sir, because the Bible is full of contradictions."
I said, "Will you please show me one?"
He said, "It is full of them."
"Well," I said, "if it is full of them you ought at least to be able to show me one. Will you show me one?"
He said, "I don't pretend to know as much about the Bible as you do."
"What are you talking about it for then?" I asked. "Now," I continued, "the Bible is God's Word. God is its author, and in throwing contempt on the Bible, you are throwing contempt upon God who is the author of it, and Jesus tells us that men shall give account of every idle word in the Day of Judgment, and you will have to give account of this idle word you have spoken against the Bible and against God who is its Author."
He turned pale, as well he might, and said, "I did not mean to do that."
"Well, that is what you have done," and that is what many a man is doing, speaking lightly and thoughtlessly about the Bible, not realizing that in condemning the Bible, he is insulting the God who is the Author of it, and he will have to give account of his folly in the Day of Judgment.
Waiting for an Opportunity
One year when I was conducting missions in different parts of England, my family resided at Southport, a pleasant seaside town. I would go there to spend my holidays. The first time I was there I met a man whom God laid upon my heart, and whom I determined to win for Christ. He had once been a prosperous farmer and had gone down and down through drink and his wife was now supporting the family by taking lodgers, and he was doing little things as he was able. He was a most unlikely case and my heart went out towards him, and I determined to win him for Christ. I began to cultivate his acquaintance, watching for an opportunity to win him for Christ. Every time I met him on the street, I would speak with him. When he became disposed to show me little acts of kindness I accepted them in order to win him. Time after time I met him but an opportunity to speak about the great question did not come. When we were in Manchester, I referred to him in an address and about my waiting for an opportunity, and a man in the audience was heard to whisper to another, "Well, he will die before he speaks to him," but he was mistaken. I was watching and praying and God was listening, and the desired opportunity came.
Returning to Southport for a few days after a mission, I heard the man had caught cold and was quite ill. I met his daughter and asked if I could see him. "Yes," she said, "father heard you were coming to Southport, and wondered if you would not come to see him." I went to the room where he was lying in bed and found him very ill indeed and very approachable. In fact, his wife was trying to read the Bible to him, though she did not know where to read. I took the Bible and read passages that pointed out our need of a Saviour and told of God's love to sinners, and that made clear God's way of salvation, and then explained the way of salvation as simply as I could and prayed with him.
The next evening I met his daughter again and asked if I could see her father again. "Yes," she said, " he was hoping you would come again and wondered if you would not." I heard that during the night in his delirium he had been talking about me and my son, whose acquaintance he had also made. This encouraged me to think that I was winning my way with him. I went to see him and found him perfectly clear in mind, but I felt he could not pull through the night. I was more definite than the night before, explained the Way of Life more fully and he professed to accept Christ, and I knelt by his bed and prayed, and afterwards asked him to follow me in prayer word by word. He followed me in a confession of his sin, in an expression of his belief in the testimony of God's Word about Jesus Christ, that Jesus had borne his sin in His own body on the cross (Isa. 53:6) and he asked God to forgive his sins because Jesus had borne them in His own body. Then he told his Heavenly Father that he trusted He had forgiven his sins because of the atoning death of Christ. Finally he told God that if it was His will, he wished to be raised from that bed of sickness, that he might serve Christ before men but if it was not His will to raise him up, he was willing to be taken from this world and to depart and be with Christ. When I arose he seemed to be resting clearly in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A few hours later, there was a rap on my door. A lady came in and told me he had passed away, a little while after I left, trusting in Christ.
Lost Through Delay
When I was at home in Chicago, if I had a night off, I would often run out to some other city to help the ministers there. One night I ran across the line to the city of Hammond, Indiana. After speaking I gave out the invitation. Among those who were moved by the Spirit of God was a young woman. She rose to her feet and started for the front, but the young man who sat by her side caught her by her arm and said, "Don't go to-night. If you wait a few days I may go with you." For fear of offending this young man to whom she was engaged to be married, she sat down and threw away her opportunity.
The next week I went to speak in the opera house. At the close of the meeting two young women came to me and said, "Oh, Mr. Torrey, just as soon as you can get away from the opera house, come with us. There is a young lady who started for the front the other night but the young man to whom she was engaged asked her to wait for him and she sat down. Now she has erysipelas. It has gone to her brain. We think she is dying. Probably she will not live until morning. Come to see her just as soon as you can get away from the opera house." As soon as I could get away from the after-meeting, I hurried along from the opera house to her home. I was taken up the stairs into the room where the poor girl lay a dying. You could not recognize her. Her face was painted black with iodine. But she was perfectly conscious. I urged her then and there to take Christ.
"Oh," she said, "I cannot."
"But," I said, "you started to take Him the other night when I was here at Hammond."
"Yes," she said, "but I did not take Him then. I am dying now and I cannot take Christ now. It is too late."
I plead with her. I besought her. I knew it was her last hour. I tried to persuade her that the Lord Jesus would receive her even then, that He said: "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out," but she would not listen and would not yield.
When I passed out of that room of awful darkness, a young man in the hallway caught me by the hand, took me into a cold, dark room, and though I could not see him in the darkness, I could feel that he was shaking like a leaf. "Oh," he said, "Mr. Torrey, I am engaged to marry that girl. When you spoke here last week we were both at the meeting. When you gave out the invitation, she started for the front but I detained her. I said, 'No, don't go. If you wait for a few days I may go with you.' She did not go forward and now she is dying without Christ. She is lost, and I am to blame. I am to blame."
If you to-night are anywhere near a decision for Christ, don't put it off. Don't let the fear of man frighten you out of taking your stand for Him.
Jolly, But Wretched
One of the brightest memories of my boyhood is of the jolliest man I ever met. He was the centre of attraction in every circle of society he ever visited. Let him go into a room full of strangers and soon everybody was at home with him and he was the centre of the entire circle always. I loved him. I delighted in his company. There was no man or boy that I so loved to have around. Whenever he was present I knew there was to be merriment. He was the first man that ever took me to the theatre. He took my brother next older than I and myself and his own son, but he was more fun than the whole show. It was merriment all the way to the theatre; it was merriment all the way back from the theatre.
Though more than forty years have passed I can remember the details of that evening yet. I think he was the brightest, cheeriest man I ever saw.
But I grew older and he grew older. When I had attained to manhood and was a preacher of the Gospel, one night he dropped into the house where I was staying. It was the dinner hour. After dinner I was to preach in New York, and I invited him to go along with me. He had become somewhat religious but not an out and out Christian. I felt confident he was not a saved man and hoped that if he went to the meeting that night I might succeed in leading him to Christ; for I was sure he loved me as I did him; so I invited him to go. He went with me.
After the meeting was over and we were on our way home, I approached him directly and personally on the point of accepting Christ. He opened his heart to me and let me see what was there, and I found that the merriest of all men I had ever known, underneath all this gaiety was one of the saddest of men. He had not found the true secret of joy, the joy that goes down to the deepest depths of the heart and that never fails, the joy of the Holy Ghost, which Jesus alone can give.
A Bartender' s Jest
An honest German couple in Chicago kept a saloon on the west side. It did not seem to have ever entered their heads that there was anything wrong in keeping a saloon. One day the woman was a little ill and complaining about the saloon. A company of colored people across the road were holding meetings and claiming that God answered their prayers. The bartender said jestingly to the saloon keeper's wife, "Why don't you go over and let the niggers pray for you?"
She replied, "I believe I will." She went over and they did pray for her and she was not only healed but led to accept Christ and saved.
She came back to the saloon and told what the Lord had done for her. After that every day she would go into the saloon, sit down with the men at the tables and urge them to accept Christ. The bartender was now frightened and said to the saloon-keeper, "You had better stop your wife's talking, or she will spoil your business."
He said, "I don't care if she does." Soon he was converted himself and they both gave up the business and became active out and out Christians, and for years have been faithful members of the Chicago Avenue Church.
"I Want to Wait a Little Longer "
It is amazing how the devil blinds men and women into thinking that there is plenty of time to repent and accept Christ. One night there came into our after meeting in Chicago a man far above the average in intelligence. In fact, he occupied a high judicial position in an adjoining state. When I began to speak to him, he said, "I have lost my wife this past summer, and I have been very lonely and I have been thinking that I ought to accept Christ. I am getting to be an old man. I am seventy-six years old. Your sermon touched me deeply to-night and I decided that I would rise and that I would speak to you afterwards."
"I am very glad you did," I said. "Will you accept Christ now?"
The old judge hesitated a little while, then he said, "No, I don't think I am quite ready to do it yet. I would like to wait a while longer."
It took an amazing amount of persuasion to convince that man that seventy-six years was long enough to wait. He seemed to think that though he was seventy-six years old, there was still plenty of time to accept Christ.
Sold Her Soul for One Dance
A YOUNG lady was once under deep conviction of sin. She saw and felt her need of a Saviour. Her minister went to her and urged upon her an immediate acceptance of Christ. " No," she said, " I cannot accept Christ to-night. I am going to a dance next week, and if I accepted Christ I could not go to that dance, but I will promise you, Mr. S that I will accept Christ immediately after that dance." Her minister tried to show her the peril of the decision she was making, but she was determined to go to one more dance and then she would accept Christ. Until that dance was past no amount of persuasion moved her. The night of the dance came and she went. She caught cold at the dance and it settled down into lung fever. She began to sink rapidly, and her minister fearing that her time had come called upon her again. He recalled his former conversation and how she had promised to accept Christ after the dance, but the dying girl was hard and hopeless. "No," she said, "Mr. S, I cannot accept Christ now. I refused to accept Him when I was well and strong and now I am dying and I cannot accept Christ." He tried to show her how ready Christ was to pardon even at the last moment but she could not grasp it. All his persuasions were of no avail and the poor girl died in hopeless despair. She had sold her soul for one more dance.
I Am an Infidel
When we were in New Zealand, by the delay of the steamer, we were enabled to hold one evening meeting in Invercargill. The meeting was held in the Drill Hall. The night was close. There was no way of adequately ventilating the building. Men and women fainted on every hand and were carried from the building, but still the people lingered and listened to the preaching of the Word of God. When I dismissed the first meeting, many of the people had to pass right in front of the platform. A tall man with stooped shoulders about sixty years of age came by the platform and looked up at me and scowled and said, "I am an infidel."
"You don't need to tell me that," I replied. "Your face shows it. You have one of the most wretched faces I ever saw."
The man passed on in silence. The next day I received a letter from him. He said, "I am wretched. How can I be anything but wretched?" Ah, there is nothing in infidelity to meet the deepest needs of the human heart. Nothing in infidelity to transform the sorrows of life into joys. Intelligent faith in Christ fills the life with sunshine. Unbelief fills the heart with clouds and despair.
The Champion Heavy Weight Pugilist Converted
When we were in Launceston in Tasmania, I received a letter from a man asking me to visit his wife. He said his wife had been an invalid for many years and they had tried all the physicians in Launceston. He noticed in the papers that I was a doctor and he thought an American doctor might succeed where their home doctors had failed.
It was evident that the man had mistaken me for a physician. A few nights after this man followed up his letter by coming around to the meeting to interview me personally. He was the champion heavy-weight pugilist of Tasmania. He had not come to hear a sermon but to implore me to visit his sick wife. But he got there in time to hear the sermon. The subject was "Heroes and Cowards," and he was greatly interested. In it I told the story of a South Carolina farmer's son whose father at great sacrifice had sent him to college, and then when the father went to visit the son, the son was ashamed of him before his gay college companions. As I pictured this farmer with glad heart driving towards the college town to visit his son and then his son's denial of his father, the pugilist grew very angry. He wanted to thrash that ungrateful son, but then the thought came to him, "You are meaner and more ungrateful than he. You owe more to God than that son owed his father and yet how are you treating Him?" Filled with shame at his ungrateful treatment of God, when I gave out the invitation, the pugilist rose to his feet and then came forward and turned around and faced the audience, most all of whom knew him by reputation, and publicly confessed his sin and his acceptance of Jesus Christ.
He immediately went to work for Christ, and about the last sight we saw as the steamer pulled out of Launceston and sailed down the river was Jim Burke, towering above the crowd waving good-bye to us with his red hymn-book.
The Spirit Illumined the Face of Jesus
One night a lot of our students came home from Pacific Garden Mission full of rejoicing over the number of conversions there had been that night. "We had a great time at the mission to-night," they said, "a large number of drunkards came to the front and accepted Christ as their Saviour."
The next day I met Harry Monroe, superintendent of the mission on the street. "Harry," I said, "the boys tell me you had a great time at the mission last night."
"Would you like to know how it came about?" he answered. "It pleased the Holy Spirit to illumine the face of Jesus, and sinners just saw Him and believed."
It was a rather unique way of putting it but it well stated the truth. It is only when the Holy Spirit bears His testimony to Jesus that men see and believe.
There was handed to me one evening in Christ Church, New Zealand, a note from a lady. It read, "Is there any place where I can find satisfaction for my soul? I have been looking for it everywhere. I have sought it in wealth, but have not found it; I have sought it in society, but have not found it; I have sought it in the pleasures of this world, but have not found it; I have sought it in study, but have not found it; I have sought it in art, but have not found it; I have been seeking it in travel, I have just returned from a tour around the world seeking for satisfaction for my heart, but have not found it. Can you tell me where I can find it?"
The note was unsigned. I read it before the meeting that night and replied, "Yes, I can tell this lady where she can find satisfaction to-night. She can find it in Jesus. 'Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'"
At the close of the meeting a lady came to me and said, "It was I who wrote that note." With my open Bible, I showed the Way of Life and she accepted Jesus. The next night she came back and came forward and said, "Last night I wrote a note to Dr. Torrey asking him if there was any place where I could find satisfaction for my soul. I had sought it everywhere. I had sought it in wealth, in fashion, in society, in pleasure, in study, in art and in travel but could not find it. Last night I took Jesus Christ and I have found the satisfaction for my soul which I have been seeking all these years."
I Don't Know Him
A BEAUTIFUL young mother in New York City returning to the building in which her little infant lay asleep was appalled to see the building in flames. The firemen could not restrain her and she dashed through the flames and rescued her child, but in doing so, she was so severely burned that her face was horribly disfigured for life. When she looked at her face in the glass after it was healed, she was shocked at her disfigurement, but was comforted by the thought that when her little daughter grew up she would appreciate the sacrifice that her mother had made to rescue her. The little child did grow up to be a young woman of uncommon beauty. She was much admired and petted.
One day there was an excursion up the river and both mother and daughter went. The beautiful daughter was on the front deck surrounded by a host of admirers, laughing and talking. The disfigured mother was on the rear deck looking after the wraps and other things. The mother had occasion to go to the front deck to speak to her daughter. As she drew near, a gay young man asked the beautiful young girl, "Who is that hideous looking woman coming?" In a low tone, the beautiful daughter said, "I don't know." But the words were not so low but what the mother caught them and that loving heart was broken by the gross ingratitude of the daughter for whom she had sacrificed so much.
How we shudder at the thought of such awful ingratitude, but are we not guilty of a grosser ingratitude towards our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? His visage was more marred than any man's and His form more than the sons of men, and yet how many today are ashamed of Him and say, "I do not know Him."
Won by Love
I USED to have a friend in Chicago-- he is in heaven now -- Colonel Clarke, a man who lived entirely for others, and especially for the poor and outcast -- a rich man, who gave up all his money for the poor. He lived very plainly. He worked himself literally to death. He worked at his business six days every week, and he preached the Gospel seven nights every week. He worked at his business to make money to run his mission and feed the poor. And the poor loved him, and the outcast loved him, and everybody that had any sense and knew him loved him -- one of the loveliest men that ever walked God's earth.
One night there came into the Pacific Garden Mission -- his mission -- a man who had for fourteen years been a hopeless slave to whiskey and alcohol in all its forms, and opium and morphine. The man had been crippled in early childhood. He had been in a railroad accident, was all smashed up, and lost the use of both legs. He dragged himself along as best he could on his crutches. He was not able to stand on his feet. He sort of balanced himself as he dragged himself along on his crutches.
This night, when he came into the mission. Colonel Clarke saw him. I suppose he was the most miserable-looking man in the mission and Colonel Clarke went up to him, and tried to persuade him to take Christ and to believe on the Lord Jesus. But he would not. The next day Colonel Clarke was going down La Salle Street, one of our busiest business streets, and right ahead of him he saw this poor opium fiend dragging himself along on his crutches. Colonel Clarke hurried up, put his hand on his shoulder, and took him into an alleyway, where he told him about Jesus. Then he said, "Let us kneel down." And the strong man put his arm around that poor wretch of a cripple, helped him down on to his knees and prayed for him. This poor man in rags, a wretch, a cripple, an opium fiend, a whiskey fiend, an alcohol fiend, knelt there in the alleyway, put his confidence in Jesus Christ, and when Colonel Clarke helped him up on his crutches he was a child of God, and to-day he is a preacher of the gospel.
Two Lawyers Convinced
In the great triumph of Deism in England, two of the most brilliant men in the denial of the supernatural were the eminent legal authorities, Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton. The two men were put forward to crush the defenders of the supernatural in the Bible. They had a conference together and one of them said to the other that it would be difficult to maintain their position unless they disposed of two of the alleged bulwarks of Christianity, namely the alleged resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and the alleged conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Lyttleton undertook to write a book to show that Saul of Tarsus was never converted, as is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, but that his alleged conversion was a myth, if Gilbert West would write another book to show that the alleged resurrection of Christ from the dead was a myth.
West said to Lyttleton, "I shall have to depend upon you for my facts, for I am somewhat rusty on the Bible." To which Lyttleton replied that he was counting upon West, for he too was somewhat rusty on the Bible. One of them said to the other, "If we are to be honest in the matter, we ought at least to study the evidence," and this they undertook to do.
They had numerous conferences together while they were preparing their works. In one of these conferences West said to Lyttleton that there had been something on his mind for some time that he thought he ought to speak to him about, that as he had been studying the evidence, he was beginning to feel that there was something in it. Lyttleton replied that he was glad to hear him say so, for he himself had been somewhat shaken as he had studied the evidence of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Finally, when the books were finished, the two men met. West said to Lyttleton, "Have you written your book?" He replied that he had, but he said, "West, as I have been studying the evidence and weighing it according to the recognized laws of legal evidence, I have become satisfied that Saul of Tarsus was converted as is stated in the Acts of the Apostles, and that Christianity is true and I have written my book on that side." The book can be found to-day in any first-class library.
"Have you written your book?" said Lyttleton.
"Yes, but as I have studied the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and have weighed it according to the acknowledged laws of evidence, I have become satisfied that Jesus really rose from the dead as recorded in the gospels, and have written my book on that side." This book can also be found in our libraries to-day.
Let any man of legal mind, any man that is accustomed to and competent to weigh evidence -- yes, any man with fair reasoning powers, and above all with perfect candour, sit down to the study of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and he will become satisfied that beyond a peradventure that Jesus really rose from the dead as is recorded in the four gospels.
Lost by Neglect
More people are lost in Christian lands through simple neglect than in any other way. Millions of people drift through life neglecting, drift into the grave neglecting, drift into eternity neglecting, drift into hell neglecting.
Here is a dying man, very near death, lying upon his death-bed. Standing upon a table within easy reach -- and he has power to put out his hand and get it -- is a goblet in which there is a healing draught. If the man puts out his hand and takes the goblet and drinks the medicine, he will be cured. If he won't drink it, he will die. Now, what is all that is necessary for that man to do to be saved? Simply to put out his hand, take the medicine and drink it. What is all that is necessary for him to do to die? It is not necessary for him to commit suicide by cutting his throat; it is not necessary for him to assault the doctor; it is not necessary for him to even take the medicine and throw it out of the window; it is not even necessary for him to refuse to take the medicine; all that is necessary for him to die is simply to neglect to put out his hand and take it.
Every man and woman and child out of Christ is now dying the eternal death. Eight within reach in the Bible and in the Christ of the Bible is the medicine that will cure you and save you, and it is the only medicine that will. What is all that you have to do to be saved? Simply to put out your hand and take the medicine. What is all that is necessary for you to do to be lost? It is not necessary to get up and curse and swear; it is not necessary for you to get up and ridicule the Bible; it is not necessary to go out and say outrageous things about God and Christ; it is not necessary to go out and commit a great immorality; it is not necessary even to say, "I won't take the Gospel"; all that is necessary for you to do to be lost is simply to neglect to take it. You are lost already, and unless you take Christ and take Him soon, you will be lost eternally.
Here is a boat in the Niagara River away above the falls. The current there is very gentle. A man sits in the boat. There is a strong pair of oars resting by his feet. If the man wants to, he can take the oars and pull out of the current to the shore. But the man simply sits there and drifts on and on, gently at first, then a little swifter, then swifter, and now the man is in the swift current. He is already at the head of the rapids. If he should get up now and take hold of the oars with all his strength, he could not pull against the current. Men on the shore see his peril. They run along the shore, throw a rope, as has often been done, and it falls in the boat right at the man's feet. Strong arms on the shore are ready to pull him ashore if he takes the rope. What is all that is necessary for him to do to be saved? Simply to lay hold of the rope, and the men on shore will do the rest. What is all that is necessary for him to do to be lost ? It is not necessary for him to take the oars and pull on with the current; it is not necessary for him to throw himself overboard into the rapids; it is not necessary for him even to refuse to take the rope. If he will only sit still for about thirty seconds and do nothing, the current will take that boat and sweep it on, on, on over the falls over which no man has gone and lived.
That is a picture of every man and woman out of Christ. You are in the current. The current of sin is so swift and strong that no man can pull against it in his own strength. But God, standing on the shores of eternity, in His infinite love, has thrown out a rope in the Gospel of His Son, good and strong, and it has fallen at the feet of every man and woman. What is all that you have got to do to be saved? Just lay hold of the rope -- just take Christ, and God will bring you home to glory. What is all you have to do to be lost? It is not necessary for you to get drunk, to commit adultery, or some other great sin ; it is not necessary for you to go out and try to be an infidel; it is not necessary for you to abuse the preacher. All that is necessary for you to do is simply to do nothing. You are in the current. Do nothing just a little longer, and it will sweep you on, on, on over the awful cataract into the bottomless abyss of eternal despair.
The Holy Ghost Fell Upon Us
I SHALL never forget a day at Northfield, July 8, 1894. It was a Sunday. I was preaching in the church to the college students gathered there from Yale, Harvard and other eastern colleges. I was speaking about the Holy Spirit. I took out my watch as I closed. It was precisely twelve o'clock. I said, "Young men, Mr. Moody has invited us up to the mountainside this afternoon at three o'clock to pray for the Holy Ghost. It is three hours to three o'clock. Three hours is a long time to wait. You don't need to wait three hours. Go to your hotel, go to your tent, go out into the woods, go anywhere alone with God, meet the conditions, and ask God for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and you will receive it before three o'clock."
Three o'clock came, and four hundred and fifty-six students gathered in front of Mr. Moody's mother's house. She was still living then. I know the number, because Paul Moody counted them as they passed through the gate. We passed down through the fields, and started up the mountainside. After going part way up, Mr. Moody said, "We don't need to go farther now; sit down here." We sat down on the logs and on the pine needles. Mr. Moody said, "Has any one anything to say before we pray?" One after another -- about seventy-five students, rose and said in substance, "Mr. Moody, I could not wait till three o'clock. I have been alone with God and I believe I have a right to say I have received the Holy Ghost."
After these testimonies were over, Mr. Moody said, "I can't see any reason why we should not kneel down here and pray for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us as definitely as He fell upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Let us pray." Some of us knelt. Some of us lay upon our faces, and we began to pray. As we had been going up the mountainside, thick clouds had been gathering over us. As we began to pray, the clouds broke and the raindrops commenced to fall through the overhanging pine needles. Another cloud had been gathering over Northfield for ten days -- a cloud big with the blessing and power of God ; and as we prayed, our prayers seemed to pierce that cloud, and the Holy Ghost fell upon us.
An Untutored Savage Silences a Man of Science
Years ago a great Frenchman of science was crossing the Arabian desert under the leadership of an Arab guide. When the sun was setting in the west, the guide spread his praying-rug down upon the ground and began to pray. When he had finished the man of science stood looking at him with scorn, and asked him what he was doing. He said, "I am praying."
"Praying! praying to whom?"
"To Allah, to God."
The man of science said, "Did you ever see God?"
"Did you ever hear God?"
"Did you ever put out your hand and touch God or feel God?"
"Then you are a great fool to believe in a God you never saw, a God you never heard, a God you never put out your hand and touched."
The Arab guide said nothing. They retired for the night, rose early the next morning, and a little before sunrise they went out from the tent. The man of science said to the Arab guide, "There was a camel round this tent last night."
With a peculiar look in his eye, the Arab said, "Did you see the camel?"
"Did you hear the camel?"
"Did you put out your hand and touch the camel?"
"Well, you are a strange man of science to believe in a camel you never saw, a camel you never heard, a camel you never put out your hands and touched."
"Oh, but," said the other, "here are his footprints all around the tent."
Just then the sun was rising in all its oriental splendour, and with a graceful wave of his barbaric hand, the guide said, "Behold the footprints of the Creator, and know that there is a God."
I think the untutored savage had the best of the argument.
Worth More Than a Bank Account
Here is a working man who goes home on Saturday from the place where he works. His wife meets him at the door, expecting him to hand over the week's wages -- very happy at the end of another week's work. As she opens the door she sees a very anxious look in his face. She says, "John, what is the matter?" "Mary, I am discharged. The place is shutting down. We are all discharged. There are thousands of men out of employment in London. I don't know of anything I can find to do. I have no money in the bank, and I don't know how I am going to take care of you and the children till work begins again." And the man sits down and buries his face in his hands, and is filled with utter despair.
Another man goes home from the same mill. His wife meets him at the door, but there is no anxious look. There is a serious look. She says, "John, what is the matter?" and he tells her the same story up to a certain point. "The place is shut down; we are all out of work. I have no money put away for a rainy day, and I don't know where to find employment. I don't know how to keep you and the children from starvation, but, Mary, we believe in God and we believe in the Bible." He hangs up his overcoat, takes out the family Bible, opens it at the twenty-third Psalm, and reads, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want;" turns to the sixth chapter of Matthew, the thirty-third verse, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;" turns to Philippians, fourth chapter and the nineteenth verse, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." "Mary," he says, "these are promises of God. I don't know how we shall be taken care of, but I know we shall, for these promises are sure." I had rather have that in a world of change such as you and I live in, where a man is a millionaire to-day and a pauper to-morrow than to have the biggest bank account in England.
Take another illustration. The man goes home this time light-hearted, his week's wages in his pocket, thinking how it will gladden his wife as he hands it over. As he reaches the door, his wife hurries to the door. The anxious look is on her face now. He says, "Mary, what has happened?" "Oh," she says, "John, little Minnie is very ill. She has a high fever. You know they are having scarlet fever around the corner. I am afraid she has it." He hurries in, lays his hand upon the fevered brow, looks at those parched lips and that curious looking skin. He says, "Mary, you are right; she has the scarlet fever." He sits down crushed. He has nowhere to turn, for a man who is godless cannot turn to God.
The other man -- the Christian man -- goes home. His wife meets him at the door. He sees an earnest look in her face. He asks the same question and gets the same answer up to a certain point -- that she is afraid the little daughter has the scarlet fever. He goes in, lays his hand upon the fevered brow, looks at the symptoms, and sees beyond a doubt that his little child has the terrible plague. He says, "Mary, she has the scarlet fever, but we believe in a God that answers prayer, and I believe that if we pray He will raise up our child. But, if in His infinite wisdom. He sees fit to take her from us, we have brought her up to be a Christian, and for her to die will simply be to depart and be with Christ, where we shall meet her again." He opens his Bible and reads Psalm 50:15: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." He kneels down and prays; arises and opens his Bible again at John 14:1 and reads, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also."
That is something worth having in a world such as you and I live in, and I would rather have that than the biggest bank account on earth.
Whom the Lord Loveth He Chasteneth
A GENTLEMAN met me on the street one day and said, "Would you like to take a drive?" We went out to a cemetery, and came to a place where there were three graves. One was long; it was the grave of an adult, and in it his wife was buried. In the two short graves were the bodies of his two daughters, all he had in the world except a baby boy. We knelt and prayed by the side of the graves. As we were driving back to town the gentleman said, "I pity the man that God has not chastened." What did he mean? He meant that he had been a man of the world, an upright man, but not a Christian. One night when he came home his wife said, "Porter, one of the children is sick." In a few days she was cold and dead; and, as she lay in the casket, he knelt down, and promised God to take Christ as his Lord and Master. But he lied to God, and forgot all about his resolution. Some time after he came home again, and his wife said, "Porter, the other child is sick." In a few days she also lay cold and dead. Once more he knelt down and promised God that he would become a Christian, and he kept his word. All the holiest, deepest, purest joys of life had come from his great sorrow.
"I Am a Scoundrel"
One night in my own church in Chicago in the after-meeting, a gentleman who sat in the second row called me to his side. He said, "I want to ask you a question. I am not a Christian. I make no pretensions to being a Christian, but I lead a moral, upright, honest life, and the question I want to ask you is this, if I don't accept Christ, leading the moral, upright life that I do, will I be sent to hell just because I don't accept Christ?"
I said, "You certainly will."
"Well, all I have to say is, it isn't fair."
I said, "Wait. Suppose you had a mother, who was one of the noblest women that ever lived."
He said, "I have."
"Suppose that mother loved you with even greater love than a mother ordinarily loves her son."
He said, "She does."
"Suppose that mother would be willing to lay down her life and to die for you."
He said, "She would."
"Very well," I said, "having such a mother as you say you have, suppose you should do your duty by every one else, your duty by your wife, by your children, by those you are connected with in business, by your neighbours, by the state, your duty by every one else but that old mother that loves you, that has suffered for you, that would be willing to die for you; now suppose you turned her out on the street to starve and perish, what would you say of yourself?"
He said, "I should say that I was a scoundrel."
"Very well," I said, "Jesus Christ is holier, better, nobler than any mother that ever lived. Jesus Christ not only loved you enough to die for you. He actually did die for you. Now suppose you do your duty by wife, by children, by neighbours, by business associates, but utterly fail in your duty to Jesus Christ, what would you say of yourself?"
He had sense enough to see the point. He said, "I am a scoundrel."
Be honest. You will have to be honest some day. Be honest with God, be honest with yourself. The claims of Christ are higher than the claims of the whole race, and if we do our duty by every fellow being and fail in our duty towards Christ, we fail at the principal point.