Standing on the Rock
If a doctor didn't know any more about Materia Medica than the average church member knows about the Bible, he'd be arrested for malpractice. —Billy Sunday.
APUBLISHER remarked to me that a Billy Sunday campaign did not create a demand for religious books in general. With rather an air of fault-finding he said, "You can't sell anything but Bibles to that Billy Sunday crowd."
That remark is illuminating. Billy Sunday does not create a cult: he simply sends people back to the Bibles of their mothers. His converts do not become disciples of any particular school of interpretation: the Bible and the hymn book are their only armory. It cannot be gainsaid that it is better to read the Bible than to read books about the Bible. The work of Billy Sunday is not done with a convert until he has inspired that person to a love and loyalty for the old Book.
Such passages as this show the uncompromising loyalty of Sunday to the Bible:
"Here is a book, God's Word, that I will put up against all the books of all the ages. You can't improve on the Bible. You can take all the histories of all the nations of all the ages and cut out of them all that is ennobling, all that is inspiring, and compile that into a common book, but you cannot produce a work that will touch the hem of the garment of the Book I hold in my hand. It is said, 'Why cannot we improve on the Bible? We have advanced everything else.' No, sir. 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not.' And so this old Book, which is the Word of God, the Word of Jesus Christ, is the book I intend to preach by everywhere. The religion that
5. And the people spake against God and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7. Therefore the people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a 6ery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9. And Moses made a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived.
The Jews were in Egyptian bondage for years. God said he would release them, but he hadn't come. But God never forgets. So he came and chose Moses to lead them, and when Moses got them out in the wilderness they began to knock and said, "Who is this Moses anyway? We don't know him. Were there not enough graves in Egypt?" and they said they didn't like the white bread they were getting and wanted the onions and the leeks and the garlic and melons of Egypt, and they found fault. And God sent the serpents and was going to kill them all, but Moses interceded and said, "Now see here, God." But the Lord said, "Get out of the way, Moses, and let me kill them all." But Moses said, "Hold on there, Lord. That bunch would have the laugh on you if you did that. They'd say you brought them out here and the commissary stores ran out and you couldn't feed them, so you just killed them all." So God said, "All right, for your sake, Moses, I won't," and he said, "Moses, you go and set up a brazen serpent in the wilderness and that will be the one thing that will save them if they are bitten. They must look or die."
has withstood the sophistry and the criticism of the ages, the sarcasm of Voltaire, the irony of Hume, the blasphemy of Ingersoll, the astronomer's telescope, the archaeologist's spade and the physician's scalpel—they have all tried to prove the Bible fake, but the old Book is too tough for the tooth of time, and she stands triumphant over the grave of all that have railed upon her. God Almighty is still on the job. Some people act as though they had sent for the undertaker to come to embalm God and bury him. But it is the truth; it is not an accident that places the Christian nations in the forefront of the world's battles. It is something more than race, color, climate, that causes the difference between the people that dwell on the banks of the Congo and those in this valley. The scale of civilization always ascends the line of religion; the highest civilization always goes hand in hand with the purest religion."
Rigid as he is in literal interpretation of the Bible, Sunday is celebrated for his paraphrases of favorite passages, a recasting of the familiar form of words into the speech of the day. Some of these "slang versions" of the old Book make one gasp; but generally the evangelist gets the innermost meaning of the Book itself. He is not an interpreter of the Bible but a popularizer of it. He does not expound the Scripture as much as he pounds in the Scripture. The Bible and its place in the life of the Christian are often on the Evangelist's lips.
Here, for instance, is his interpretation of the story of David and Goliath:
"All of the sons of Jesse except David went off to war; they left David at home because he was only a kid. After a while David's ma got worried. She wondered what had become of his brothers, because they hadn't telephoned to her or sent word. So she said to David,'Dave, you go down there and see whether they are all right.'
"So David pikes off to where the war is, and the first morning he was there out comes this big Goliath, a big, strapping fellow about eleven feet tall, who commenced to shoot off his mouth as to what he was going to do.
"'Who's that big stiff putting up that game of talk?' asked David of his brothers.
"'Oh, he's the whole works; he's the head cheese of the Philistines. He does that little stunt every day.'
"'Say,' said David, 'you guys make me sick. Why don't some of you go out and soak that guy? You let hirn get away with that stuff.' He decided to go out and tell Goliath where to head in.
"So Saul said, 'You'd better take my armor and sword.' David put them on, but he felt like a fellow with a hand-medown suit about four times too big for him, so he took them off and went down to the brook and picked up a half dozen stones. He put one of them in his sling, threw it, and soaked Goliath in the coco between the lamps, and he went down for the count. David drew his sword and chopped off his block, and the rest of the gang beat it."
SUNDAY UTTERANCES ON THE BIBLE
The Bible is the Word of God. Nothing has ever been more clearly established in the world today, and God blesses every people and nation that reverence it. It haa stood the test of time. No book has so endured through the ages. No book has been so hated. Everything the cunning of man, philosophy, brutality, could contrive has been done, but it has withstood them all.
There is no book which has such a circulation today. Bibles are dropping from the press like the leaves in autumn. There are 200,000,000 copies. It is read by all nations. It has been translated into five hundred languages and dialects.
No book ever came by luck or chance. Every book owes its existence to some being or beings, and within the range and scope of human intelligence there are but three things—good, bad, and God. All that originates in intellect, all which the intellect can comprehend, must come from one of the three. This book, the Bible, could not possibly be the product of evil, wicked, godless, corrupt, vile men, for it pronounces the heaviest penalties against sin. Like produces like, and if bad men were writing the Bible they never would have pronounced condemnation and punishment against wrong-doing. The holy men of old, we are told, "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Men do not attribute these beautiful and matchless and wellarranged sentences to human intelligence alone, but we are told that men spake as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost. The only being left, to whom you, or I, or any sensible person could ascribe the origin of the Bible, is God.
Men have been thrown to beasts and burned to death for having a Bible in their possession. There have been wars over the Bible; cities have been destroyed. Nothing ever brought such persecution as the Bible. Everything vile, dirty, rotten and iniquitous has been brought to bear against it because it reveals man's cussedness. But it's here, and its power and influence are greater today than ever.
Saloons, bawdy houses, gambling hells, every rake, every white-slaver, every panderer and everything evil has been against it, but it is the word of God, and millions of people know it.
This being true, it is of the highest importance that you should think of the truths in it. I'll bet my life that there are hundreds of you that haven't read ten pages of the Bible in ten years. Some of you never open it except at a birth, a marriage or a death, and then just to keep your family records straight. That's a disgrace and an insult. I repeat it, it's a disgrace and an insult. Don't blame God if you wind up in hell, after God warned you, because you didn't take time to read it and think about it.
It is the only book that tells us of a God that we can love, a heaven to win, a hell to shun and a Saviour that can save. Why did God give us the Bible? So that we might believe in Christ. No other book tells us this. It tells us yhy the Bible was written, that we might believe and be saved. You don't read a railroad guide to learn to raise buckwheat. You don't read a cook book to learn to shoe horses. You don't read an arithmetic to learn the history of the United States. A geography does not tell you about how to make buckwheat cakes. No, you read a railroad guide to learn about the trains, a cook book to learn to make buckwheat cakes, an arithmetic for arithmetic and a geography for geography. If you want to get out of a book what the author put in it, find out why it was written. That's the way to get good out of a book. Read it.
It was written that you might read and believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The Bible wasn't intended for a history or a cook book. It was intended to keep me from going to hell.
The greatest good can be had from anything by using it for the purpose for which it was intended. A loaf of bread and a brick may look alike, but try and exchange them and see. You build a house with brick, but you can't eat it. The purpose of a time table is to give the time of trains, the junctions, the different railroads. A man that has been over the road knows more about it than a man who has never been over it. A man who has made the journey of life guided by the Bible knows more about it than any highbrowed lobster who has never lived a word of it. Then whom are you going to believe, the man who has tried it or the man who knows nothing about it?
The Bible was not intended for a science any more than a crowbar is intended for a toothpick. The Bible was written to tell men that they might live, and it's true today.
One man says: "I do not believe in the Bible because of its inconsistencies." I say the greatest inconsistency is in your life—not in the Bible! I bring up before you the memory of some evil deed, and you immediately begin to find fault with the Bible! Go to a man and talk business or politics tind he talks sense. Go to a woman and talk society, clubs or dress, and she talks sense. Talk religion to them, and they will talk nonsense!
I want to say that I believe that the Bible is the Word of God from cover to cover. Not because I understand its philosophy, speculation, or theory. I cannot; wouldn't attempt it; and I would be a fool if I tried. I believe it because it is from the mouth of God; the mouth of God has spoken it.
There is only one way to have the doubts destroyed. Read the Bible and obey it. You say you can't understand it. There's an A, B, C in religion, just as in everything else. When you go to school you learn the A, B, C's and pretty soon can understand something you thought you never could when you started out. So in religion. Begin with the simple things and go on and you'll understand. That's what it was written for, that you might read and believe and be saved. I'm willing to stand here and take the hand of any man or woman if you are willing to come and begin with the knowledge you have.
In South Africa there are diamond mines and the fact has been heralded to every corner of the world. But only those that dig for them get the diamonds. So it is with the Bible. Dig and you'll find gold and salvation. You have to dig out the truths.
Years ago in Sing Sing prison there was a convict by the name of Jerry McCauley and one day an old pal of his came back to the prison and told him how he had been saved, and quoted a verse of Scripture. McCauley didn't know where to find the verse in the Bible, so he started in at "the first and read through until he came to it. It was away over in the ninth chapter of Hebrews. But he found Jesus Christ while he was reading it. He lived a godly life until the day he died.
Supposing a man should come to you and say, "The title to your property is no good and if some one contests it you will lose?" Would you laugh and go on about your business? No, sir! You would go to the court house and if you could find it in only one book there, the book in the recorder's office, you'd search and find it, and if the recorder said the deed was all right you could laugh at whatever any one else said.
There is only one book in the world that tells me about my soul. It says if you believe you're saved, if you don't you are damned. God said it and it's all true. Every man who believes in the Bible shall live forever. The Bible says heaven or hell, so why do you resist?
No words are put in the Bible for effect. The Bible talks to us so we can understand. God could use language that no one could understand. But we can not understand all by simply hearing and reading. When we see we will know.
"I stood one day beside a blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil beat and the bellows chime;
Looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn out with beating years and years of time.
'"How many anvils have you had?' said I,
'To wear and batter all these hammers so?'
'Just one,' said he, then said with twinkling eye,
'The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.'
"So methought, the anvils of God's word—
Of Jesus' sacrifice—have been beat upon—
The noise of falling blows was heard—
The anvil is unharmed—the hammers are all gone."
Julian the apostate was a hammer. Gone! Voltaire, Renan, hammers. Gone! In Germany, Goethe, Strauss, Schleiermacher—gone. In England, Mill, Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, Huxley and Spencer—the anvil remains; the hammer is gone. In America, Thomas Paine, Parker, Ingersoll, gone. The anvil remains.
Listen. In France a hundred years ago or more they were printing and circulating infidel literature at the expense of $4,500,000 a year. What was the result? God was denied, the Bible sneered at and ridiculed, and between 1792 and 1795 one million twenty thousand and fifty-one hundred people were brought to death. The Word of God stood unshaken amidst it all. Josh Billings said: "I would rather be an idiot than an infidel; because if I am an infidel I made myself so, but if I am an idiot somebody else did it." Oh, the wreckers' lights on the dangerous coasts that try to allure and drag us away from God have all gone out, but God's words shine on.
The vital truths of the Bible are more believed in the world today than at any other time. When a man becomes so intelligent that he can not accept the Bible, too progressive to be a Christian, that man's influence for good, in society, in business or as a companion, is at an end. Some think that being a doubter is an evidence of superior intellect. No!
I've never found a dozen men in my life who disbelieved in the Bible but what they were hugging some secret sin. When you are willing to give up that pet sin you will find it easy to believe in the Bible.
It explains to me why Saul of Tarsus, the murderer, was changed to Paul, the apostle. It explains to me why David Livingstone left his Highland home to go to darkest Africa. It explains to me why the Earl of Shaftesbury was made from a drunkard into a power for God in London for sixty-five years. It explains why missionaries leave home and friends to go into unknown lands and preach Jesus Christ, and perhaps to die at the hands of the natives.
I can see in this book God revealed to man and when I do and accept, I am satisfied. It is just what you need to be satisfied. God knows your every need.
This explains to me why Jesus Christ has such influence on men and women in the world today. No man ever had such influence to teach men and women virtue and goodness as Christ. This influence has been in the world from 2,000 years ago to the present time. The human heart is to Jesus like a great piano. First he plays the sad melodies of repentance and then the joyful hallelujahs.
The Bible has promises running all through it and God wants you to appropriate them for your use. They are like a bank note. They are of no value unless used. You might starve to death if you have money in your pockets, but won't use it. So the promises may not do you any good because you will not use them. The Bible is a galaxy of promises like the Milky Way in the heavens.
When you are in trouble, instead of going to your Bible, you let them grow, and they grow faster than Jonah's gourd vine. You're afraid to step out on the promises.
There are many exceedingly great and precious promises in the Bible. Here is one:
"Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
H some of you would receive such a promise from John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie, you'd sit up all night writing out checks to be cashed in the morning. And yet you let the Bible lie on the table.
But the infidel says: "Mr. Sunday, why are there so many intelligent people in the world that don't believe the Bible?"
Do you wonder that it was an infidel who started the question: "Is life worth living?" Do you wonder that it was some fool woman, an infidel woman, that first started the question: "Is marriage a failure?" A fool, infidel woman. Christians do not ask such fool questions. Would you be surprised to be reminded that infidel writers and speakers have always and do always advocate and condone and excuse suicide? Do you know that in infidelity the gospel is suicide? That is their theory and I don't blame them, and the sooner they leave the world the better the world will be.
The great men of the ages are on the side of the Bible. A good many infidels talk as though the great minds of the world were arrayed against Christianity and the Bible. Great statesmen, inventors, painters, poets, artists, musicians, have lifted up their hearts in prayer. Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, was a Christian; Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, was a Christian; Cyrus McCormick, who first invented the self-binder, was a Christian; Morse, who invented the telegraph, and the first message that ever flashed over the wire was from Deuteronomy—'What hath God wrought'. Edison, although a doubter in some things, said that there was evidence enough in chemistry to prove the existence of a God, if there was no evidence besides that. George Washington was a Christian. Abraham Lincoln was a Christian, and with Bishop Simpson knelt on his knees in the White House, praying God to give victory to the Army of the Blue. John Hay, the brightest Secretary of State that ever managed the affairs of state, in my judgment, was a Christian. William Jennings Bryan, a man as clean as a hound's tooth; Garfield, McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson—all Christians.
The poets drew their inspiration from the Bible. Dante's "Inferno," Milton's "Paradise Lost," two of the greatest works ever written, were inspired by the Word of God. Lord Byron, although a profligate, drew his inspiration from the Word of God. Shakespeare's works abound with quotations from the Bible. John G. Whittier, Longfellow, Michael Angelo, who painted "The Last Judgment," Raphael, who painted the "Madonna of the Chair," Da Vinci, who painted "The Last Supper," all dipped their brushes in the light of heaven and painted for eternity. The great men of the world of all ages, of science, art, or statesmanship, have all believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Twenty-seven years ago, with the Holy Spirit for my guide, I entered this wonderful temple that we call Christianity. I entered through the portico of Genesis and walked down through the Old Testament's art gallery, where I saw the portraits of Joseph, Jacob, Daniel, Moses, Isaiah, Solomon and David hanging on the wall; I entered the music room of the Psalms and the Spirit of God struck the keyboard of my nature until it seemed to me that every reed and pipe in God's great organ of nature responded to the harp of David, and the charm of King Solomon in his moods.
I walked into the business house of Proverbs.
I walked into the observatory of the prophets and there saw photographs of various sizes, some pointing to far-off stars or events—all concentrated upon one great Star which was to rise as an atonement for sin.
Then I went into the audience room of the King of Kings, and got a vision from four different points—from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I went into the correspondence room, and saw Peter, James, Paul and Jude, penning their epistles to the world. I went mto the Acts of the Apostles and saw the Holy Spirit forming the Holy Church, and then I walked into the throne room and saw a door at the foot of a tower and, going up, I saw One standing there, fair as the morning, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and I found this truest friend that man ever knew; when all were false I found him true.
In teaching me the way of life, the Bible has taught me the way to live, it taught me how to die.
So that is why I am here, sober and a Christian, instead of a booze-hoisting infidel.