A Clean Man on Social Sins
There are a good many things worse than living and dying an old maid, and one of them is marrying the wrong man.—Billy Sunday.
SUNDAY'S trumpet gives no uncertain sound on plain, every-day righteousness. He is like an Old Testament prophet in his passion for clean conduct. No phase of his work is more notable than the zeal for right living which he leaves behind him. His converts become partisans of purity.
Sunday's own mind is clean. He does not, as is sometimes the case, make his pleas for purity a real ministry of evil. In the guise of promoting purity he does not pander to pruriency. As outspoken as the Bible upon social sin, he yet leaves an impression so chaste that no father would hesitate to take his boy to the big men's meeting which Sunday holds in every campaign; and every woman who has once heard him talk to women would be glad to have her daughter hear him also.
The verdict of all Christians who have studied conditions in a community after one of the Sunday campaigns is that Sunday has been like a thunder storm that has cleared the moral atmosphere. Life is sweeter and safer and more beautiful for boys and girls after this man has dealt plainly with social sins and temptations. Of course, it is more important to clean up a neighborhood's mind than its streets.
Even in cold print one may feel somewhat of the power of the man's message on "The Moral Leper."
A PLAIN TALK TO MEN
"Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
In other words, do just as you please; he if you want to, steal if you want to. God won't stop you, but he will hold you responsible in the end. Do just as you please until the end comes and the undertaker comes along and pumps the embalming fluid into you and then you are all in.
No one is living in ignorance of what will become of him if he does not go right and trot square. He knows there is a heaven for the saved and a hell for the damned, and that's all there is to it.
Many men start out on a life of pleasure. Please remember two things. First, pleasure soon has an end, and, second, there is a day of judgment coming and you'll get what's coming to you. God gives every man a square deal.
If a man stood up and told me he was going to preach on the things I am this afternoon, I'd want him to answer me several questions, and if he could do that I'd tell him to go ahead.
First—Are you kindly disposed toward me?
Second—Are you doing this to help me?
Third—Do you know what you're talking about?
Fourth—Do you practice what you preach?
That's fair. Well, for the first. God knows I am kindly disposed toward you. Second, God knows I would do anything in my power to help you be a better man. I want to make it easier for you to be square, and harder for you to go to hell. Third, I know what I'm talking about, for I have the Bible to back me up in parts and the statements of eminent physicians in other parts. And fourth, "Do I practice what I preach?" I will defy and challenge any man or woman on earth, and I'll look any man in the eye and challenge him, in the twenty-seven years I have been a professing Christian, to show anything against me. If I don't live what I preach, gentlemen, I'll leave the pulpit and never walk back here again. I live as I preach and I defy the dirty dogs who have insulted me and my wife and spread black-hearted lies and vilifications.
I was born and bred on a farm and at the age of eleven I held my place with men in the harvest field. When I was only nine years old I milked ten cows every morning. I know what hard knocks are. I have seen the seamy side of life. I have crawled out of the sewers and squalor and want. I have struggled ever since I was six years old, an orphan son of a dead soldier, up to this pulpit this afternoon. I know what it is to go to bed with an honest dollar in my overalls pocket, when the Goddess of Liberty became a Jenny Lind and the eagle on the other side became a nightingale and they'd sing a poor, homeless orphan boy to sleep. I'm not here to explode hot air and theories to you.
Some men here in town, if their wives asked them if they were coming down here, would say: "Oh no, I don't want to go anywhere I can't take you, dear." The dirty old dogs, they've been many a place they wouldn't take their wife and they wouldn't even let her know they were there.
If sin weren't so deceitful it wouldn't be so attractive. The effects get stronger and stronger while you get weaker and weaker all the time, and there is less chance of breaking away.
Many think a Christian has to be a sort of dish-rag proposition, a wishy-washy, sissified sort of a galoot that lets everybody make a doormat out of him. Let me tell you the manliest man is the man who will acknowledge Jesus Christ.
Christianity is the capital on which you build your character. Don't you let the devil fool you. You never become a man until you become a Christian. Christianity is the capital on which you do business. It's your character that gets you anything. Your reputation is what people say about yeu, but your character is what God and your wife and the angels know about you. Many have reputations of being good, but their characters would make a black mark on a piece of coal or tarred paper.
I was over in Terre Haute, Indiana, not long ago, and I was in a bank there admiring the beauty of it when the vice-president, Mr. McCormick, a friend of mine, said: "Bill, you haven't seen the vault yet," and he opened up the vaults there, carefully contrived against burglars, and let me in. There were three, and I wandered from one to another. No one watched me. I could have filled my pockets with gold or silver, but no one watched me. Why did they trust me? Because they knew I was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and living up to it. That's why they trusted me. There was a time in my life when a man wouldn't trust me with a yellow dog on a corner fifteen minutes.
Before I was converted I could go five rounds so fast you couldn't see me for the dust, and I'm still pretty handy with my dukes and I can still deliver the goods with all express charges prepaid. Before I was converted I could run one hundred yards in ten seconds and circle the bases in fourteen seconds, and I could run just as fast after I was converted. So you don't have to be a dish-rag proposition at all.
When a person's acts affect only himself they can be left to the conscience of the individual, but when they affect others the law steps in. When a child has diphtheria, you are not allowed personal liberty; you are quarantined, because your personal liberty could endanger others if exercised. So you haven't any right to live in sin. You say you'll do it anyhow. All right, you'll go to hell, too. Adam and Eve said they would eat the apple anyhow, and the world became a graveyard, and here's the result today.
I look out into the world and see a man living in sin. I argue with him, I plead with him. I cry out warning words. I brand that man with a black brand, whose iniquities are responsible for the fall of others.
No man lives to himself alone. I hurt or help others by my life. When you go to hell you're going to drag some one else down with you and if you go to heaven you're going to take some one else with you. You say you hate sin. Of course you do if you have self-respect. But you never saw anyone who hates sin worse than I do, or loves a sinner more than I. I'm fighting for the sinners. I'm fighting to save your soul, just as a doctor fights to save your life from a disease. I'm your friend, and you'll find that I'll not compromise one bit with sin. I'll do anything to help you. No man will argue that sin is a good thing. Not a one who does not believe that the community would be better off if there was no sin. I preach against vice to show you that it will make your girl an outcast and your boy a drunkard. I'm fighting everything that will lead to this and if I have to be your enemy to fight it, God pity you, for I'm going to fight. People do not fight sin until it becomes a vice.
You say you're not afraid of sin. You ought to be, for your children. It doesn't take boys long to get on the wrong track, and while you are scratching gravel to make one lap, your boy makes ten. We've got kids who have not yet sprouted long breeches who know more about sin and vice than Methuselah. There are little frizzled-top sissies not yet sprouting long dresses who know more about vice than did their great-grandmothers when they were seventy-five years old. The girl who drinks will abandon her virtue. What did Methuselah know about smoking cigarettes? I know there are some sissy fellows out there who object to my talking plain and know you shirk from talking plain.
If any one ever tells you that you can't be virtuous and enjoy good health, I brand him as a low, infamous, blackhearted liar.
Ask any afflicted man you see on the street. If you could only reveal the heart of every one of them! In most you would find despair and disease.
How little he thinks when he is nursing that lust that he is nursing a demon which, like a vampire, will suck his blood and wreck his life and blacken and blight his existence. And if any little children are born to him, they will be weak anemics without the proper blood in their veins to support them. Our young men ought to be taught that no sum they can leave to a charitable institution can blot out the deeds of an ignominious life. You don't have to look far for the reason why so many young men fail; why they go through life weak, ambitionless, useless.
Let's be common folks together today. Let's be men, and talk sense.
As a rule a man wants something better for his children than he has had for himself. My father died before I was born and I lived with my grandfather. He smoked, but he didn't want me to. He chewed, but he didn't want me to. He drank, but he didn't want me to. He cussed, but he didn't want me to. He made wine that would make a man fight his own mother after he had drunk it. I remember how I used to find the bottles and suck the wine through a straw or an onion top.
One day a neighbor was in and my grandfather asked him for a chew. He went to hand it back, and I wanted some. He said I couldn't have it. I said I wanted it anyhow, and he picked me up and turned me across his knee and gave me a crack that made me see stars as big as moons.
If there is a father that hits the booze, he doesn't want his son to. If .he is keeping some one on the side, he doesn't want his son to. In other words, you would not want your son to live like you if you are not living right.
An old general was at the bedside of his dying daughter. He didn't believe in the Bible and his daughter said, "What shall I do? You don't believe in the Bible. Mamma does. If I obey one I'm going against the other." The old general put his arms around his daughter and said: "Follow your mother's way; it is the safest." Man wants his children to have that which is sure.
I have sometimes imagined that young fellow in Luke xv. He came to his father and said, "Dig up. I'm tired of this and want to see the world." His father didn't know what he meant. '' Come across with the mazuma, come clean, divvy. I want the coin, see?" Finally the father tumbled, and he said, "I got you," and he divided up his share and gave it to the young man. Then he goes down to Babylon and starts out on a sporting life. He meets the young blood and the gay dame. I can imagine that young fellow the first time he swore. If his mother had been near he would have looked at her and blushed rose red. But he thought he had to cuss to be a man.
No man can be a good husband, no man can be a good father, no man can be a respectable citizen, no man can be a gentleman, and swear. You can hang out a sign of gentleman, but when you cuss you might as well take it in.
There are three things which will ruin any town and give it a bad name—open licensed saloons; a dirty, cussing, swearing gang of blacklegs on the street; and vile story tellers. Let a town be known for these three things, and these alone, and you could never start a boom half big enough to get one man there.
Old men, young men, boys, swear. What do you cuss for? It doesn't do you any good, gains you nothing in business or society; it loses you the esteem of men. God said more about cussing than anything. God said, "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not bear false witness," but God said more about cussing than them all; and men are still cussing. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain."
No Excuse for Swearing
I can see how you can get out of anything but cussing. I can see how a man could be placed in such a position that he would kill and be exonerated by the law of God and man, if he killed to protect his life, or the life of another.
I can see how a man could be forced to steal if he stole to keep his wife from starving.
Up in Chicago several years ago there was a longcontinued strike and the last division of the union treasury had given each man twenty-five cents. A man went into the railroad yards and got a bag of coal from one of the cars. They pinched him and he came up before a judge. He told the judge that he had only the twenty-five cents of the last division and he spent that for food. His wife and two children were at home starving and he had no fire. He stole the coal to cook their food. The judge thundered, "Get out of this room and get home and build that fire as quickly as you can."
Say, boys, if I was on a jury and you could prove to me that a father had stolen a loaf of bread to keep his wife from starving you could keep me in the room until the ants took me out through the keyhole before I'd stick him. That may not be law, I don't know; but you'll find there is a big streak of human nature in Bill.
There isn't a fellow in this crowd but what would be disgusted if his wife or sister would cuss and hit the booze like he does. If she would put fifteen or twenty beers under her belt, he'd go whining around a divorce court for a divorce right away and say he couldn't live with her. Why, you dirty dog, she has to live with you.
I heard of a fellow whose wife thought she would show him how he sounded around the house and give him a dose of his own medicine. So one morning he came down and asked for his breakfast. "Why you old blankety, blank, blank, bald-headed, blankety, blankety, blank, you can get your own breakfast." He was horrified, but every time he tried to say anything she would bring out a bunch of lurid u
oaths until finally he said, "Wife, if you'll cut out that cussing I'll never swear again."
I have sometimes tried to imagine myself in Damascus on review day, and have seen a man riding on a horse richly caparisoned with trappings of gold and silver, and he himself clothed in garments of the finest fabrics, and the most costly, though with a face so sad and melancholy that it would cause the beholder to turn and look a second and third time. But he was a leper. And a man unaccustomed to such scenes might be heard to make a remark like this: "How unequally God seems to divide his favors! There is a man who rides and others walk; he is clothed in costly garments; they are almost naked while he is well fed," and they contrast the difference between the man on the horse and the others. If we only knew the breaking hearts of the people we envy we would pity them from the bottom of our souls.
I was being driven through a suburb of Chicago by a real estate man who wanted to sell me a lot. He was telling me who lived here and who lived there, and what an honor it would be for me and my children to possess a home there. We were driving past a house that must have cost $100,000 and he said: "That house is owned by Mr. So-and-So. He is one of our multi-millionaires, and he and his wife have been known to live in that house for months and never speak to each other. They each have separate apartments, each has a separate retinue of servants, each a dining-room and sleeping apartments, and months come and go by and they never speak to each other." My thoughts hurried back to the little flat we called our home, where we had lived for seventeen years. I have paid rent enough to pay for it. There wasn't much in it; I could load it in two furniture vans, maybe three, counting the piano, but I would not trade the happiness and the joy and the love of that little flat if I had to take that palatial home and the sorrow and the things that went with it.
Suppose you were driving along the street and a man who was intimately acquainted with the skeletons that are in every family, should tell you the secrets of them all, of that boy who has broken his father's heart by being a drunkard, a black-leg gambler, and that girl who has gone astray, and that wife who is a common drunkard, made so by society, and the father himself who is also a sinner.
Leprosy is exceedingly loathsome, and as I study its pathology I am not surprised that God used it as a type of sin. A man who is able to understand this disease, its beginning and its progress, might be approached by a man who was thus afflicted and might say to him, "Hurry! hurry! Show yourself to the priest for the cleansing of the Mosaic law."
"Why?" says the man addressed. "What is the trouble?" The other man would say, "Do hurry and show yourself to the priest." But the man says, "That is only a fester, only a water blister, only a pimple, nothing more. I say there is no occasion to be alarmed. You are unduly agitated and excited for my welfare."
Those sores are only few now, but it spreads, and it is first upon the hand, then upon the arm, and from the arm it goes on until it lays hold of every nerve, artery, vein with its slimy coil, and continues until the disintegration of the parts takes place and they drop off, and then it is too late. But the man who was concerned saw the beginning of that, not only the end, but the beginning. He looked yonder and saw the end too. If you saw a blaze you would cry, "Fire!" Why? Because you know that if let alone it will consume the building.
That is the reason why you hurry when you get evidence of the disease. So I say to you, young man, don't you go with that godless, good-for-nothing gang that blaspheme and sneer at religion, that bunch of character assassins; they will make of your body a doormat to wipe their feet upon. Don't go with that bunch. I heard you swear, I heard you sneer at religion. Stop, or you will become a staggering, muttering, bleary-eyed, foul-mouthed down-and-outer, on your way to hell. I say to you stop, or you will go reeling down to hell, breaking your wife's heart and wrecking your children's lives. And what have you got to show for it? What have you got to show for it? God pity you for all you got to show for selling your soul to the devil. You are a fool. You are a fool. Take it from "Bill," you are a fool.
Don't you go, my boy; don't you laugh at that smutty story with a double meaning. Don't go with that gang. But you say to me, "Mr. Sunday, you are unduly excited for my welfare. I know you smell liquor on my breath, but I never expect to become a drunkard. I never expect to become an outcast." Well, you are a fool. You are a fool. No man ever intended to become a drunkard. Every drunkard started out to be simply a moderate drinker. The fellow that tells me that he can leave it alone when he wants to lies. It is a lie. If you can, why don't you leave it alone? You will never let it alone. If you could, you would. My boy, hear me, I have walked along the shores of time and have seen them strewn with the wrecks of those who have drifted in from the seas of lust and passion and are fit only for danger signals to warn the coming race. You can't leave it alone or if you can, the time will come when it will get you. Take it from me.
My mother told me never to buy calico by lamplight, because you can't tell whether the colors will stand or run in the wash. Never ask a girl to be your wife when she's got her best bib and tucker on. Call on her and leave at ten o'clock and leave your glove on the piano, and go back the next morning about nine o'clock after your glove and ring the doorbell, and if she comes to the door with her hair done up in curl papers and a slipper on one foot and a shoe on the other foot, and that untied, and a Mother Hubbard on, take to the woods as fast as you can go. Never mind the glove, let the old man have that if he can wear it. But if she comes to the door nice and neat in a neat working "don't GIVE A PUG-NOSED BULLDOG THE LOVE A BABYOUGHT TO HE GETTING "
Every Muscle In His Body Preaches In Accord With His Voice.
house dress, with her sleeves rolled up and her hair neatly done up, and a ribbon or a flower stuck in it, grab her quick.
Henry Clay Trumbull told me years ago that he was in Europe and in London he went to a theater to see a man who was going to give an exhibition of wild animals and serpents. He had a royal Bengal tiger and a Numidian lion, and he introduced a beast that seems to be least able of being tamed either by kindness or brutality, a black panther. He made him go through the various motions, and after a while a wire screen was put down in front of the stage between the audience and the performer, and to the weird strains of an oriental band the man approached from the left of the stage and a serpent from the right. The eyes of the serpent and the man met and the serpent quailed before the man. Man was master there. At his command the serpent went through various contortions, and the man stepped to the front of the stage and the serpent wound himself round and round and round the man, until the man and serpent seemed as one. His tongue shot out, his eyes dilated. The man gave a call, but the audience thought that part of the performance, and that horrified audience sat there and heard bone after bone in that man's body crack and break as the reptile tightened its grasp upon his body, and saw his body crushed before he could be saved.
He had bought that snake when it was only four feet long and he had watered and nursed it until it was thirtyfive feet. At first he could have killed it; at last it killed him.
Nursing Bad Habits
Are you nursing a habit today? Is it drink? Are you nursing and feeding that which will wreck your life and wreck you upon the shores of passion, notwithstanding all the wrecks you have seen of those who have gone down the line?
I never got such a good idea of leprosy as I did by reading that wonderful book of the nineteenth century by General Lew Wallace, "Ben Hur." You remember the banishment of Ben Hur and the disintegration of that family life and estate, and the return of Ben Hur from his exile. He goes past his old home. The blinds are closed and drawn and all is deserted. He lies down upon the door-step and falls asleep. His mother and sister have been in the leper colony and are dying of leprosy and only waiting the time when they will be covered with the remains of others who have come there. So they have come to the city to get bread and secure water, and they see their son and brother lying on the door-step of their old home. They dare not awaken him for fear anguish at learning of their fate would be more than he could bear. They dare not touch him because it is against the law, so they creep close to him and put their leprous lips against his sandal-covered feet. They then go back again with the bread and water for which they had come.
Presently Ben Hur awakens and rubs his eyes and sees great excitement. (This part of the story is mine.) Along comes a blear-eyed, old, whisky-soaked degenerate and Ben Hur asks him what is the trouble, what is the excitement about, and he says: "A couple of lepers have been cleansed, but there is nothing to that, just some occult power, it's all a fake." Ben Hur goes farther on and hears about this wonder, and they say it is nothing; nothing, some long-haired evangelist who says his name is Jesus Christ; it's all a fake. Then Ben Hur goes farther and discovers that it is Jesus of Nazareth and that he has cleansed Ben Hur's own mother and sister. He hears the story and acknowledges the Nazarene.
The Leprosy of Sin
The lepers had to cry, "Unclean! Unclean!" in those days to warn the people. They were compelled by law to do that: also they were compelled by law to go on the side of the street toward which the wind was blowing lest the breeze bring the germs of their body to the clean and infect them with the disease. And the victim of this disease was compelled to live in a lonely part of the city, waiting until his teeth began to drop out, his eyes to drop from their sockets, and his fingers to drop from his hands, then he was compelled to go out in the tombs, the dying among the dead, there to live until at last he was gathered to the remains of the dead. That was the law that governed the leper in those days. All others shrank from him; he went forth alone. Alone! No man of all he loved or knew, was with him; he went forth on his way, alone, sick at heart, to die alone.
Leprosy is infectious. And so is sin. Sin begins in so-called innocent flirtation. The old, god-forsaken scoundrel of a libertine, who looks upon every woman as legitimate prey for his lust, will contaminate a community; one drunkard, staggering and maundering and muttering his way down to perdition, will debauch a town.
Some men ought to be hurled out of society; they ought to be kicked out of lodges; they ought to be kicked out of churches, and out of politics, and every other place where decent men live or associate. And I want to lift the burden tonight from the heads of the unoffending womanhood and hurl it on the heads of offending manhood.
Rid the world of those despicable beasts who live off the earnings of the unfortunate girl who is merchandising herself for gain. In some sections they make a business of it. I say commercialized vice is hell. I do not believe any more in a segregated district for immoral women than I would in having a section for thieves to live in where you could hire one any day or night in the week to steal for you. There are two things which have got to be driven out or they'll drive us out, and they are open licensed saloons and protected vice.
Society needs a new division of anathemas. You hurl the burden on the head of the girl; and the double-dyed scoundrel that caused her ruin is received in society with open arms, while the girl is left to hang her head and spend her life in shame. Some men are so rotten and vile that they ought to be disinfected and take a bath in carbolic acid and formaldehyde. Shut the lodge door in the face of every man that you know to be a moral leper; don't let him hide behind his uniform and his badge when you know him to be so rotten that the devil would duck up an alley rather than meet him face to face. Kick him out of church. Kick him out of society.
You don't live your life alone. Your life affects others. Some girls will walk the streets and pick up every Tom, Dick and Harry that will come across with the price of an ice-cream soda or a joy ride.
So with the boy. He will sit at your table and drink beer, and I want to tell you if you are low-down enough to serve beer and wine in your home, when you serve it you are as low down as the saloon-keeper, and I don't care whether you do it for society or for anything else. If you serve liquor or drink you are as low down as the saloon-keeper in my opinion. So the boy who had not grit enough to turn down his glass at the banquet and refuse to drink is now a blear-eyed, staggering drunkard, reeling to hell. He couldn't stand the sneers of the crowd. Many a fellow started out to play cards for beans, and tonight he would stake his soul for a show-down. The hole in the gambling table is not very big; it is about big enough to shove a dollar through; but it is big enough to shove your wife through; big enough to shove your happiness through; your home through; your salary, your character; just big enough to shove everything that is dear to you in this world through.
Listen to me. Bad as it is to be afflicted with physical leprosy, moral leprosy is ten thousand times worse. I don't care if you are the richest man in the town, the biggest taxpayer in the county, the biggest politician in the district, or in the state. I don't care a rap if you carry the political vote of Pennsylvania in your vest pocket, and if you can change the vote from Democratic to Republican in the convention—if after your worldly career is closed my text would make you a fitting epitaph for your tombstone and obituary notice in the papers, then what difference would it make what you had done—"he was a leper." He was a great politician—but "He was a leper." What difference would it make?
I'll tell you, I was never more interested in my life than in reading the story of an old Confederate colonel who was a stickler for martial discipline. One day he had a trifling case of insubordination. He ordered his men to halt, and he had the offender shot. They dug the grave and he gave the command to march, and they had stopped just three minutes by the clock. At the close of the war they made him chief of police of a Southern city, and he was so vile and corrupt that the people arose and ordered his dismissal. Then a great earthquake swept over the city, and the people rushed from their homes and thousands of people crowded the streets and there was great excitement. Some asked, "Where is the colonel?" and they said, "You will find him in one of two or three places." So they searched and found him in a den of infamy. He was so drunk that he didn't realize the danger he wa1 in. They led him out, then put him upon a snow white-horse, put his spurs on his boots and his regimentals on; they pinned a star on his breast and put a cockade on his hat, and said to him: "Colonel, we command you as mayor of the city to quell this riot. You have supreme authority." ,
He rode out among the people to quell the riot, dug his spurs into the white side of the horse and the crimson flowed out, and he rode in and out among the surging mass of humanity.
He rode out among the people with commands here, torrents of obscenity there, and in twenty-five minutes the stillness of death reigned in city squares, so marvelously did they fear him, so wonderful was his power over men. He then rode out, dismounted, took off his cockade, tore the star from his breast and threw it down, threw off his regimentals, took off his sword; then he staggered back to the house of infamy, where three months later he died, away from his wife, away from virtue, away from morality, his name synonymous with all that is vile. What difference did it make that he had power over men when you might sum up his life in the words, "But he was a leper." What difference did it make?
I pity the boy or girl from the depths of my soul, who if you ask are you willing to be a Christian, will answer: "Mr. Sunday, I would like to be, but if I tell that at home my brothers will abuse me, my mother will sneer at me, my father will curse me. If I were, I would have no encouragement to stand and fight the battle." I pity from the depths of my soul that boy or girl, the boy who has a father like that; the girl that has a mother like that, who have a joint like that for a home.
Unclean! Suppose every young man who is a moral leper were impelled by some uncontrollable impulse over which he had no power to make public revelations of his sins! Down the street he comes in his auto and you speak to him from the curbstone and he will say: "Unclean! Unclean!" Yonder he comes walking down the street. Suppose that to every man and woman he meets he is impelled and compelled to make revelation of the fact that he is a leper.
Leprosy is an infectious disease; it is the germ of sin. If there is an evil in you the evil will dwell in others. When we do wrong we inspire others—and your lives scatter disease when you come in contact with others. If there is sin in the father there will be sin in the boy; if there is sin in the mother, there will be sin in the daughter; if there is sin in the sister, there will be sin in the brother; by your influence you will spread it. If you live the wrong way you will drag somebody else to perdition with you as you go, and kindred ties will facilitate it.
Supposing all your hearts were open. Supposing we had glass doors to our hearts, and we could walk down the street and look in and see where you have been, and with whom you have been and what you have been doing. A good many of you would want stained-glass windows and heavy tapestry to cover them.
"But the Lord Looketh on the Heart"
Suppose I could put a screen behind me, pull a string or push a button, and produce on that screen a view of the hearts of the people. I would say: "Here is Mr. and Mrs. A's life, as it is, and here, as the people think it is. Here is what he really is. Here is where he has been. Here is how much booze he drinks. Heie is how much he lost last year at horse races." But these are the things that society does not take note of. Society takes no note of the flirtation on the street. It waits until the girl has lost her virtue and then it slams the door in her face. It takes no note of that young man drinking at a banquet table; it waits until he becomes a bleary-eyed drunkard and then it will slam the door in his face. It will take no note of the young fellow that plays cards for a prize; it waits until he becomes a blackleg gambler and then it slams the door in his face.
God says, "Look out in the beginning for that thing." Society takes no note of the beginning. It waits until it becomes vice, and then it organizes Civic Righteousness clubs. Get back to the beginning and do your work there. God has planned to save this world through the preaching of men and women, and God reaches down to save men; he pulls them out of the grog shops and puts them on the water wagon.
I never could imagine an angel coming down from heaven and preaching to men and women to save them. God never planned to save this world with the preaching of angels. When Jesus Christ died on the cross he died to redeem those whose nature he took. An angel wouldn't know what he was up against. Some one would say: "Good Angel, were you ever drunk?" "No!" "Good Angel, did you ever swear?" "Oh, no!" "Good Angel, did you ever try to put up a stove-pipe in the fall?" "Oh, no!" "Did you ever stub your toe while walking the floor with the baby at three A. M?" "Oh, no!"
'Well, then, Mr. Angel, you don't know. You say there is great mercy with God, but you are not tempted."
No. God planned to save the world by saving men and women and letting them tell the story.
The servant of Naaman entered the hut of the prophet Elisha and found him sitting on a high stool writing with a quill pen on papyrus. The servant bowed low and said, "The great and mighty Naaman, captain of the hosts of the king of Syria, awaits thee. Unfortunately he is a leper and cannot enter your august presence. He has heard of the miraculous cures that you have wrought and he hopes to become the recipient of your power." The old prophet of God replied:
"Tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan—beat it, beat it, beat it." The servant came out to Naaman, who was sitting on his horse.
"Well, is he at home?"
"He's at home, but he is a queer duck."
Naaman thought that Elisha would come out and pat the sores and say incantations, like an Indian medicine man. Naaman was wroth, like many a fool today. God reveals to the sinner the plan of salvation and, instead of thanking God for salvation and doing what God wants him to do, he condemns God and everybody else for bothering him.
Now here is a man who wants to be a Christian. What will he do? Will he go ask some old saloon-keeper? Will he go ask some of these old brewers? Will he ask some of the fellows of the town? Will he ask the County Liquor Dealers' Association? Where will he go? To the preacher, of course. He is the man to go to when you want to be a Christian. Go to a doctor when you are sick, to a blacksmith when your horse is to be shod, but go to the preacher when you want your heart set right.
So Naaman goes into the muddy water and the water begins to lubricate those old sores, and it begins to itch, and he says, "Gee whizz," like many a young fellow today who goes to a church and just gets religion enough to make him feel miserable. An old fellow in Iowa came to me and said,
"Bill, I have been to hear you every night and you have done me a lot of good. I used to cuss my old woman every day and I ain't cussed her for a week. I'm getting a little better."
The Joy of Religion
The trouble with many men is that they have got just enough religion to make them miserable. If there is no joy in religion, you have got a leak in your religion. Some haven't religion enough to pay their debts. Would that I might have a hook and for every debt that you left unpaid I might jerk off a piece of clothing. If I did some of you fellows would have not anything on but a celluloid collar and a pair of socks.
Some of you have not got religion enough to have family prayer. Some of you people haven't got religion enough to take the beer bottles out of your cellar and throw them in the alley. You haven't got religion enough to tell that proprietor of the red light, "No, you can't rent my house after the first of June;" to tell the saloon-keeper, "You can't rent my house when your lease runs out"; and I want to tell you that the man that rents his property to a saloon-keeper is as low-down as the saloon-keeper. The trouble with you is that you are so taken up with business, with politics, with making money, with your lodges, and each and every one is so dependent on the other, that you are scared to death to come out and live clean cut for God Almighty. You have not fully surrendered yourself to God.
The matter with a lot of you people is that your religion is not complete. You have not yielded yourself to God and gone out for God and God's truth. Why, I am almost afraid to make some folks laugh for fear that I will be arrested for breaking a costly piece of antique bric-a-brac. You would think that if some people laughed it would break their faces. To see some people you would think that the essential of orthodox Christianity is to have a face so long you could eat oatmeal out of the end of a gas pipe. Sister, that is not religion; I want to tell you that the happy, smiling, sunny-faced religion will win more people to Jesus Christ than the miserable old grim-faced kind will in ten years. I pity anyone who can't laugh. There must be something wrong with their religion or their liver. The devil can't laugh.
So I can see Naaman as he goes into the water and dips seven times, and lo! his flesh becomes again as a little child's. When? When he did what God told him to do.
I have seen men come down the aisle by the thousands, men who have drank whisky enough to sink a ship. I have seen fallen women come to the front by scores and hundreds, and I have seen them go away cleansed by the power of God. When? When they did just what God told them to do.
I wish to God the Church were as afraid of imperfection as it is of perfection.
I saw a woman that for twenty-seven years had been proprietor of a disorderly house, and I saw her come down the aisle, close her doors, turn the girls out of her house and live for God. I saw enough converted in one town where there were four disorderly houses to close their doors; they were empty; the girls had all fled home to their mothers.
Out in Iowa a fellow came to me and spread a napkin on the platform—a napkin as big as a tablecloth. He said: "I want a lot of shavings and sawdust."
"I'll tell you; I want enough to make a sofa pillow. Right here is where I knelt down and was converted and my wife and four children, and my neighbors. I would like to have enough to make a sofa pillow to have something in my home to help me think of God. I don't want to forget God, or that I was saved. Can you give me enough?"
I said, "Yes, indeed, and if you want enough to make a mattress, all right, take it; and if you want enough of the tent to make a pair of breeches for each of the boys, why take your scissors and cut it right out, if it will help you to keep your mind on God."
That is why I like to have people come down to the front and publicly acknowledge God. I like to have a man have a definite experience in religion—something to remember.
A PLAIN TALK TO WOMEN
And I say to you, young girl, don't go with that godless, God-forsaken, sneering young man that walks the streets smoking cigarettes. He would not walk the streets with you if you smoked cigarettes. But you say you will marry him and reform him; he would not marry you to reform you. Don't go to that dance. Don't you know that it is the most damnable, low-down institution on the face of God's earth, that it causes more ruin than anything this side of hell? Don't you go with that young man; don't you go to that dance. That is why we have so many whip-poor-will widows around the country: they married some of these mutts to reform them, and instead of doing that the undertaker got them. I say, young girl, don't go to that dance; it has proven to be the moral graveyard that has caused more ruination than anything that was ever spewed out of the mouth of hell. Don't go with that young fellow for a joy ride at midnight.
Girls, when some young fellow comes up and asks you the greatest question that you will ever be asked or called upon to answer, next to the salvation of your own soul, what will you say? "Oh, this is so sudden!" That is all a bluff; you have been waiting for it all the time.
But, girls, never mind now, get down to facts. When he asks you the greatest question, the most important one that any girl is ever asked, next to the salvation of her soul, just say, "Sit down and let me ask you three questions. I want to ask you these three questions and if I am satisfied with your answer, it will determine my answer to your question. 'Did you believe me to be virtuous when you came here to ask me to be your wife?" "Oh, yes, I believed you to be virtuous. That's the reason I came here. You are like violets dipped in dew." The second question: "Have you as a young man lived as you demand of me as a girl that I should have lived?" The third question: "If I, as a girl, had lived and done as you, as a young man, and you knew it, would you ask me to marry you?"
They will line up and nine times out of ten they will take the count. You can line them up, and I know what I am talking about, and I defy any man on God's earth successfully to contradict me. I have the goods. The average young man is more particular about the company he keeps than the average girl. I'll tell you. If he meets somebody on the street whom he doesn't want to meet he will duck into the first open doorway and avoid the publicity of meeting her, for fear she might smile or give an indication that she had seen him somewhere and sometime before that. Yet our so-called best girls keep company with young men whose character would make a black mark on a piece of anthracite. Their characters are foul and rotten and damnable.
I like to see a girl who has a good head, and can choose right because it is right, never minding the criticism. Choose the good and be careful of good company and good conduct, and keep company with a good young fellow. Don't go with the fellow whose reputation is bad. Everybody knows it is bad, and if you are seen with him you will lose your reputation as well, although your virtue is intact; and they might as well take you to the graveyard and bury you, when your reputation is gone. When a man like that asks you to go with him, say to him that if he will live the way you want him to you will go with him. If he would take a stand like that there wouldn't be so many wrecks. If our women and girls would take higher stands and say, "No, no, we will not keep company with you unless you live the way I want you to," there would be better men. A lot of you women hold yourselves too cheaply. You are scared to death for fear you will be what the world irreverently calls "an old maid."
You remember the prophet Elisha and his journey to the school of prophets up to Mount Carmel. There was a woman who noticed the actions and conduct of the man of God and she said to her husband, "Let us build a little room and place therein a bed, and bowl and pitcher, that he may make it his home."
The suggestion evidently met with the approval of the husband, because ever afterward the man of God enjoyed this hospitality. I sometimes thought she might have been a new woman of the olden times, because no mention is made of the husband. You never hear of some old lobsters unless they are fortunate enough to marry a woman who does things and their name is always mentioned in connection with what the wife does.
You know there are homes in which the advent of one, two and possibly three children is considered a curse instead of a blessing. God, in his providence, has often denied the honor of maternity to some women. But there are married women who shrink from maternity, not because of ill health, but simply because they love ease, because they love fine garments and ability to flirt like a butterfly at some social function.
Crimes have been and are being committed; hands are stained with blood; and that very crime has made France the charnel house of the world. And America, we of our boasted intelligence and wealth, we are fast approaching the same doom, until or unless it behooves somebody with grit and courage to preach against the prevailing sins and run the risk of incurring the displeasure of people who divert public attention from their own vileness rather than condemn themselves for the way they are living. They say the man who is preaching against it is vulgar, rather than the man who did it.
I am sure there is not an angel in heaven that would not be glad to come to earth and be honored with motherhood if God would grant her that privilege. What a grand thing u
it must be, at the end of your earthly career, to look back upon a noble and godly life, knowing you did all you could to help leave this old world to God and made your contributions in tears and in prayers and taught your offspring to be God-fearing, so that when you went you would continue to produce your noble character in your children.
Maternity Out of Fashion
Society has just about put maternity out of fashion.
When you stop to consider the average society woman I do not think maternity has lost anything. The humbler children are raised by their mothers instead of being turned over to a governess.
There are too many girlo who marry for other causes than love. I think ambition, indulgence and laziness lead more girls to the altar than love—girls not actuated by love, but simply willing to pay the price of wifehood to wear fine clothes. They are not moved by the noble desires of manhood or womanhood.
Some girls marry for novelty and some girls marry for a home. Some fool mothers encourage girls to marry for ease so they can go to the matinee and buzz around. Some fool girls marry for money and some girls marry for society, because by connecting their name with a certain family's they go up a rung in the social ladder, and some girls marry young bucks to reform them—and they are the biggest fools in the bunch, because the bucks would not marry the girls to reform them.
You mothers are worse fools to encourage your daughter to marry some old lobster because his father has money and when he dies, maybe your daughter can have good clothes and ride in an auto instead of hoofing it. Look at the girls on the auction block today. Look at the awful battle the average stenographer and average clerk has to fight. You cannot work for six dollars a week and wear fine duds and be on the square as much as you are without having the people suspicious.
"society Has Just About Put MaTernity Out Op Fashion"
In a letter to Miss Borson, President Roosevelt said: "The man or woman who avoids marriage and has a heart so cold as to know no passion and a brain so shallow as to dislike having children is, in fact, a criminal."
Is it well with thee? Is it well with your husband? "The best man in the world," you answer. Very well; is it well with the child? I think its responsibilities are equal, if they don't outweigh its privileges, and when God is in the heart of the child, I don't wonder that that home is a haven of peace and rest.
I have no motive in preaching except the interest I have in the moral welfare of the people. There is not money enough to hire me to preach. I tell you, ladies, we have to do something more than wipe our eyes, and blow our nose, and say "Come to Jesus." Go out and shell the woods and make them let you know why they don't "come to Jesus."
I believe the time will come when sex hygiene will form part of the high-school curriculum. I would rather have my children taught sex hygiene than Greek and Latin. A lot of the high-school curriculum is mere fad. I think the time will come when our girls will be taught in classes with some graduated woman physician for an instructor.
Women live on a higher plane, morally, than men. No woman was ever ruined that some brute of a man did not take the initiative. Women have kept themselves purer than men. I believe a good woman is the best thing this side of heaven and a bad woman the worst thing this side of hell. I think woman rises higher and sinks lower than man. I think she is the most degraded on earth or the purest on earth.
Our homes are on the level with women. Towns are on the level with homes. What women are our homes will be; and what the town is, the men will be, so you hold the destiny of the nation.
I believe there is something unfinished in the make-up of a girl who does not have religion. The average girl today no longer looks forward to motherhood as the crowning glory of womanhood. She is turning her home into a gambling shop and a social beer-and-champagne-drinking joint, and her society is made up of poker players, champagne, wine and beer drinkers, grass-widowers and jilted jades and slander-mongers—that comprises the society of many a girl today. She is becorning a matinee-gadder and fudge-eater.
The Girl Who Flirts
I wish I could make a girl that flirts see herself as others see her. If you make eyes at a man on the street he will pay you back. It doesn't mean that you are pretty. It means that if you don't care any more for yourself than that why should he? The average man will take a girl at her personal estimate of herself.
It takes a whole lot of nerve for a fellow to look a girl in the face and say, "Will you be my wife and partner, and help me fight the battle during life?" but I think it means a whole lot more to the girl who has to answer and fight that question. But the fool girl loafs around and waits to be chosen and takes the first chance she gets and seems to think that if they get made one, the laws of man can make them two again.
The divorce laws are damnable. America is first in many things that I love, but there are many things that are a disgrace. We lead the world in crime; and lead the world in divorce—we who boast of our culture.
Many a girl has found out after she is married that it would have been a good deal easier to die an old maid than to have said "yes," and become the wife of some cigarettesmoking, cursing, damnable libertine. They will launch the matrimonial boat and put the oars in and try it once for luck, anyway, and so we have many women praying for unconverted husbands.
I preached like this in a town once and the next day I heard of about five engagements that were broken. I can give you advice now, but if the knot is tied, the thing is done.
I am a Roman Catholic on divorce. There are a whole lot of things worse than living and dying an old maid and one of them is marrying the wrong man. So don't be one to do that.
Now, girls, don't simper and look silly when you speak about love. There is nothing silly about it, although some folks are silly because they are in love. Love is the noblest and purest gift of God to man and womankind. Don't let your actions advertise "Man Wanted, Quick." That is about the surest way not to get a man. You might get a thing with breeches on, but he is no man
Many a woman is an old maid because she wanted to do her share of the courting. Don't get excited and want to hurry things along. If a man begins to act as though he is after you, the surest way to get him is just to make him feel you don't want him, unless you drive him off by appearing too indifferent.
And, girls, don't worry if you think you are not going to get a chance to marry. Some of the noblest men in the world have been bachelors and some of the noblest women old maids. And, woman, for God's sake, when you do get married, don't transfer the love God gave you to bestow on a little child to a Spitz dog or a brindle pup.
The Task of Womanhood
All great women are satisfied with their common sphere in life and think it is enough to fill the lot God gave them in this world as wife and mother. I tell you the devil and women can damn this world, and Jesus and women can save this old world. It remains with womanhood today to lift our social life to a higher plane.
Mothers, be more careful of your boys and girls. Explain these evils that contaminate our social life today. I have had women say to me, "Mr. Sunday, don't you think there is danger of talking too much to them when they are so young?" Not much; just as soon as a girl is able to know the pure from the impure she should be taught. Oh, mothers, mothers, you don't know what your girl is being led to by this false and mock modesty.
Don't teach your girls that the only thing in the world is to marry. Why, some girls marry infidels because they were not taught to say "I would not do it." A girl is a big fool to marry an infidel. God says, "Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers."
I believe there is a race yet to appear which will be as far superior in morals to us as we are superior to the morals in the days of Julius Caesar; but that race will never appear until God-fearing young men marry God-fearing girls and the offspring are God-fearing.
Culture will never save the world. If these miserable human vampires who feed and fatten upon the virtue of womanhood can get off with impunity; nay, more, be feasted and petted and coddled by society, we might as well back-pedal out and sink in shame, for we can never see to the heights nor command the respect of the great and good.
What paved the way for the downfall of the mightiest dynasties—proud and haughty Greece and imperial Rome? The downfall of their womanhood. The virtue of womanhood is the rampart wall of American civilization. Break that down and with the stones thereof you can pave your way to the hottest hell, and reeking vice and corruption.