The Christian's Daily Helper
Too much of the work of the Church today is like a squirrel in a cage— lota of activity, but no progress.—Billy Sunday.
IN the course of one of his campaigns, Sunday sweeps the arc of the great Christian doctrines. While he stresses ever and again the practical duties of the Christian life, yet he makes clear that the reliance of the Christian for all that he hopes to attain in character and in service is upon the promised Helper sent by our Lord, the ever-present Holy Spirit. One of the evangelist's greatest sermons is upon this theme, and no transcript of his essential message would be complete without it.
"THE HOLY SPIRIT"
The personality, the divinity and the attributes of the Holy Ghost afford one of the most inspiring, one of the most beneficial examples in our spiritual life. We are told that when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, he came as the rushing of a mighty wind and overurging expectancy. When Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, of John, out from the expanse of heaven was seen to float the Spirit of God like a snowflake, and they heard a sound as of whirring wings, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered over the dripping locks of Christ. Neither your eyes nor mine will ever behold such a scene; neither will our ears ever hear such a sound again. You cannot dissect or weigh the Holy Spirit, nor analyze him as a chemist may analyze material matter in his laboratory, but we can all feel the pulsing of the breath of his eternal love.
The Holy Spirit is a personality; as much a personality as Christ, or you or I. "Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself." He is to us what Jesus was when he was on earth. Jesus always speaks of the Holy Spirit in the future tense. He said, "It is expedient that I go away; if I go not away the Spirit will not come. It is expedient for you that I go away, but when I am gone, then I will send Him unto you who is from the Father." So we are living today in the beneficence of the Holy Spirit.
No Universal Salvation
I do not believe in this twentieth-century theory of the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. We are all made of one blood—that is true, physically speaking; we are all related. I am talking about the spiritual, not the physical. You are not a child of God unless you are a Christian; then you are a child of God—if you are a Christian.
Samson with the Holy Spirit upon him could take the jawbone of an ass and lay dead a thousand Philistines. Samson without the Holy Spirit was as weak as a newborn babe, and they poked his eyes out and cut off his locks. And so with the Church and her members. Without the Holy Spirit you are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, simply four walls and a roof, and a pipe organ and a preacher to do a little stunt on Sunday morning and evening. I tell you, Christian people, that with the Holy Spirit there is no power on earth or in hell that can stand before the Church of Jesus Christ. And the damnable, hell-born, whisky-soaked, hog-jowled, rum-soaked moral assassins have damned this community long enough. Now it is time it was broken up and it is time to do something.
There are three classes in the Church, as I have looked at it from my standpoint. The first are those in the Church personally who want to be saved, but they are not concerned about other people. They do not give any help to other people; they don't lie awake at night praying for other people that they may be brought to the Lord.
The second class are going to depend upon human wisdom. There is no such thing as latent power, expressed or implied—power is just as distinctive in an individual as the electricity in these lights. If these globes are without a current they would be nothing but glass bulbs, fit for nothing but the scrap heap. Without the Holy Spirit you are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, and a third-rate amusement parlor, with religion left out.
The third class are church members not from might and honor and power, but from the Spirit.
While at Pentecost one sermon saved 3,000 people, now it takes 3,000 sermons to get one old buttermilk-eyed, whisky-soaked blasphemer.
Happiest Nation on Earth
We have our churches, our joss houses, our tabernacles; we have got the wisdom of the orientals, the ginger, vim, tabasco sauce, peppering of the twentieth century; we have got all of that, and I do not believe that there are any people beneath the sun who are better fed, better paid, better clothed, better housed, or any happier than we are beneath the stars and stripes—no nation on earth. There are lots of things that could be eliminated to make us better than we are today. We are the happiest people in God's world.
Out in Iowa, a fellow said to me: "Mr. Sunday, we ought to be better organized." Just think of that, we ought to be better organized. Now listen to me, my friends! Listen to me! There is so much machinery in the churches today that you can hear it squeak.
Drop into a young people's meeting. The leader will say in a weak, effeminate, apologetic, minor sort of way, that there was a splendid topic this evening but he had not had much time for preparation. It is superfluous for him to say that; you could have told that. He goes along and tells how happy he is to have you there to take part this evening, making this meeting interesting. Some one gets up and reads a poem from the Christian Endeavor World and then they sing No. 38. They get up and sing:
"Oh, to be nothing—nothing,
Only to lie at His feet."
We used to sing that song, but I found out that people took it so literally that I cut it out.
Then a long pause, and some one says, "Let us sing No. 52." So they get up and then some one starts,
"Throw out the life line,
Throw out the life line."
They haven't got strength enough to put up a clothesline. Another long pause, and then you hear, "Have all taken part that feel free to do so? We have a few minutes left. So let us sing No. 23." Then another long pause. "I hear the organ prelude; it is time for us to close, now let us all repeat together, 'The Lord keep watch between me and thee, while we are absent one from another.'"
I tell you God has got a hard job on his hands. Ever hear anything like that?
Ambassadors of God
Believe that God Almighty can do something. Don't whine around as though God were a corpse, ready for the undertaker. God is still on the job. The Holy Spirit is needed to bring man into spiritual touch with God; to make man realize that he is a joint representative of God on earth today. Do you ever realize that you are God's representative—God's ambassador?
And as we are God's ambassadors why should we fear what the devil may do? Can it be that you fail to realize his power? Or are you so blind to the spiritual that you can't see that you need God's help? Let me ask you one question: Are you ready to surrender to him? A man said to me: "It was a mighty little thing to drive Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden because they ate an apple." It wasn't the fruit. It was the principle, whether man should bow to God or God bow to man. That act was an act of disobedience. You may say it was a mighty little thing for England to go to war with us because we threw some tea into Boston harbor. We didn't go to war over the tea. We said: "You can't brew tea in the East India Company and pour it down our throats." It was the principle we went to war about, not the price of tea, and we fought it out. Are you ready to surrender? You, who are in rebellion against God? You, who are in rebellion against the authority of God's government? Are you ready to do his will?
A good many people suppose that when they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and joined the Church that is all there is to the Christian life. As well might a student who has just matriculated imagine that he has finished his education. Nobody has reached a stage in the Christian life from which he cannot go further unless he is in the coffin—and then it's all over. To accept Christ, to join the Church, is only to begin. It is the starting of the race, not the reaching of the goal. There are constant and increasing blessings if you are willing to pay the price.
I don't care when or where you became a church member, if the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, is not with you, you are a failure.
This power of the Spirit is meant for all who are Christians. It is a great blessing for the Presbyterian elder as well as for the preacher. I know some Methodist stewards who need it. Deacons would "deak" better if they had it. It is a great blessing for the deacon and the members of the prudential committee, and it is just as great a blessing for the man in the pew who holds no office. To hear some people talk you would think that the Holy Spirit is only for preachers. God sets no double standard for the Christian life. There's nothing in the Bible to show that the people may live differently from the man in the pulpit.
Holy Spirit a Person
I once heard a doctor of divinity pray for the Holy Spirit, and he said: "Send it upon us now." He was wrong, doubly wrong. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal thing. He is a person, not an "it." And the Holy Spirit has always been here since the days of Pentecost. He does not come and go. He is right here in the world and his power is at the command of all who will put themselves into position to use it.
A university professor was greeted by a friend of mine who took him by the hand, and said: "What do you think of the Holy Spirit?" The professor answered that he regarded the Holy Spirit as an influence for good, a sort of emanation from God. My friend talked to him and tried to show him his mistake, and a few months later he met him again. "What do you think of the Holy Spirit now?" he asked. The professor answered: "Well, I know that the Holy Spirit is a person. Since I talked with you and have come to that conviction, I have succeeded in bringing sixty-three students to Christ."
A great many people think the Holy Spirit comes and goes again, and quote from the Acts, where it says that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Well, if you will find that Peter had been doing things right along, that showed he had been filled with the Holy Spirit all the time. Acts, second chapter and fourth verse, we read: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." You have no right, nor have I, to say that the Holy Spirit ever left any one. We have no right to seek to find Scripture to bolster up some little theory of our own. We must take the Word of God for it, just as we find it written there. Now, at Pentecost, Peter had said: "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins." Then he promised them that the Holy Spirit would come and fill them. Now we have the fulfilment of the promise.
Who were filled with the Holy Spirit? Peter and James and John? No—the people. That is the record of the filling with the Holy Spirit of the three thousand who were converted at Pentecost, not the filling of Peter and James and John.
If the Spirit remains forever, why doesn't his power always show itseK - Why haven't you as much power with God as the one hundred and twenty had at Pentecost? There are too many frauds, too much trash in the Church. It is because the people are not true to God. They are disobeying him. They are not right with him yet.
I don't know just how the Holy Spirit will come, but Jesus said wc should do even greater works than he did. What are you doing? You are not doing such works now.
The Last Dispensation
We find the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. When the prophets spoke they were moved by him. God seems to have spoken to man in three distinct dispensations. Once it was through the covenant with Abraham, then it was through Moses and under the Mosaic dispensation, and finally it is through his own son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came into the world, proved that he is the Son of God, suffered, died and was buried, rose again, and sent his Holy Comforter. This is the last dispensation. There is no evidence that after the Holy Spirit once came, he ever left the world. He is here now, ready to help you to overcome your pride, and your diffidence that has kept you from doing personal work, and is willing and ready to lead you into a closer relationship with Jesus.
But you say, some are elected and some are not. On that point I agree with Henry Ward Beecher. He said: "The elect are those who will and the non-elect are those who won't."
But you go in for culture—"culchah." If you are too cultured to be a Christian, God pity you. You may call it culture. I have another name for it. Is there anything about Christianity that is necessarily uncultured? I think the best culture in the world is among the followers of Jesus Christ.
But you say: "Ignorance is a bar to some." No sir. Billy Bray, the Cornish miner, was an illiterate man. He was asked if he could read writing, and he answered: "No, I can't even read readin'." Yet Billy Bray did a wonderful work for God in Wales and England. Ignorance is no bar to religion, or to usefulness for Jesus.
Some time ago, over in England, a man died in the poor house. He had had a little property, just a few acres of land, and it hadn't been enough to support him. After he died the new owner dug a well on it, and at a depth of sixtyfive feet he found a vein of copper so rich that it meant a little fortune. If the man who died had only known of that vein, he need not have lived in poverty. There are many who are just as ignorant of the great riches within their reach. Lots of people hold checks on the bank of heaven, and haven't faith enough to present them at the window to have them cashed.
You may say, "I have failed in something, but it is a little thing." Oh, these little things! Bugs are little things, but they cost this country $800,000,000 in one year. Birds are little enemies of the bugs, and birds are little things, and if it weren't for the birds we would starve in two years. If there's anything that makes me mad it is to see a farmer grab a shotgun and kill a chicken hawk. That hawk is worth a lot more than some old hen you couldn't cook tender if you boiled it for two days. That chicken hawk has killed all the gophers, mice and snakes it could get its claws on and it has come to demand from the farmer the toll that is rightfully due to it, for what it has done to rid the land of pests.
Why is it that with all our universities and colleges we haven't produced a book like the Bible? It was written long ago by people who lived in a little country no bigger than some of our states. The reason was that God was behind the writers. The book was inspired.
When good old Dr. Backus, of Hamilton College, lay dying the doctor whispered to Mrs. Backus, saying, "Dr. Backus is dying." The old man heard and looked up with a smile on his face and asked: "Did I understand you to say that I am dying?" ,
Sadly the doctor said: "Yes, I'm sorry, you have no more than half an hour to live."
Dr. Backus smiled again. "Then it will soon be over," he said. "Take me out of bed and put me on my knees. I want to die praying for the students of Hamilton College." They lifted him out and he knelt down and covered his face with his transparent hands, and prayed "Oh, God, save the students of Hamilton College."
For a time he continued to pray, then the doctor said, "He is getting weaker." They lifted him back upon the bed, and his face was whiter than the pillows. Still his lips
moved. "Oh, God, save "Then the light of life went
out, and he finished the prayer in the presence of Jesus. What did his dying prayer do? Why, almost the entire student body of Hamilton College accepted Jesus Christ.
If you haven't the power of the Spirit you have done something wrong. I don't know what it is—it's none of my business. It's between you and God. It is only my duty to call upon you to confess and get right with him.
A man went to a friend of mine and said: "I don't know what is wrong with me. I teach a Sunday-school class of young men, and I have tried to bring them to Jesus, and I have failed. Can you tell me why?"
"Yes," was the answer. "There's something wrong with you. You've done something wrong."
The man hesitated, but finally he said, "You're right. Years ago I was cashier in a big business house, and one time the books balanced and there was some money left over. I took that money and I have kept it. That was twelve years ago. Here is the money in this envelope."
"Take it back to the owner," said my friend. "It's not yours, and it's not mine."
"But I can't do that," said the man. "I am making a salary of $22,000 a year now, and I have a wife and daughters, and my firm will never employ a dishonest man."
"Well, that's your business," said my friend. "I have advised you, and that's all I can do; but God will never forgive you until you've given that money back."
The man sank into a chair and covered his eyes for a while. Then he got up and said, "I'll do it." He took a Chesapeake and Ohio train and went to Philadelphia, and went to a great merchant prince in whose employ he had been, and told his story. The merchant prince shut and locked the door. "Let us pray," he said. They knelt together, the great merchant's arm about his visitor; and
when they got up the great merchant said: "Go in peace. God bless you."
On the next Sunday the man who had confessed took the Bible on his knee as he sat before his class and said to them: "Young men, I often wondered why I couldn't win any of you to Christ. My life was wrong, and I've repented and made it right." That man won his entire class for Christ, and they joined Dr. McKibben's church at Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, Ohio.
If you would get right with God what would be the result? Why, you would save your city.
The Fame of a Christian
Some time ago the funeral of a famous woman was held in London. Edward, who was king then, came with his consort, Alexandra, to look upon her face, and dukes and duchesses and members of the nobility came. Then the doors were opened and the populace came in by thousands. Down the aisle came a woman whose face and dress bore the marks of poverty. By one hand she led a child, and in her arms she carried another. As she reached the coffin she set down the child she was carrying and bent her head upon the glass above the quiet face in the coffin, and her old fascinator fell down upon it.
"I've Walked Sixty Miles To Look Upon Her Face Again"
"Come," said a policeman, "you must move on."
But the woman stood by the coffin. "I'll not move on," she said, "for I have a right here."
The policeman said, "You must move on. It's orders;" but the woman said, "No, I've walked sixty miles to look upon her face again. She saved my two boys from being drunkards." The woman in the coffin was Mrs. Booth, wife of the great leader of the Salvation Army.
I'd rather have some reclaimed drunkard, or some poor girl redeemed from sin and shame, stand by my coffin and rain down tears of gratitude upon it, than to have a monument of gold studded with precious stones, that would pierce the skies.
"If ye love me keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever."
A Victorious Sermon
If you fall into sin and you're a sheep you'll get out; if you're a hog you'll stay there, just like a sheep and a hog when they fall into the mud.— Billy Sunday.
N the walls of Sir Walter Scott's home at Abbotts
ford hangs the claymore of the redoubtable Rob
Roy, one of the most interesting objects in that absorbing library of the great novelist. A peculiar interest attaches to the instruments of great achievement, as the scimitar of Saladin, or the sword of Richard the LionHearted, or the rifle of Daniel Boone. Something of this same sort of interest clings to a particular form of words that has wrought wondrously. Apart altogether from its contents, Sunday's sermon on "The Unpardonable Sin" is of peculiar interest to the reader. This is the message that has penetrated through the indifference and skepticism and self-righteousness and shameless sin of thousands of men and women. Many thousands of persons have, under the impulse of these words, abandoned their old lives and crowded forward up the sawdust trail to grasp the preacher's hand, as a sign that they would henceforth serve the Lord Christ.
"The Unpardonable Sin" is a good sample of Sunday's sermons. It shows the character of the man's mind, and that quality of sound reasonableness which we call "common sense." There are no excesses, no abnormalities, no wrenchings of Scripture in this terrific utterance.
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
"THE UNPARDONABLE SIN"
"And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
I'd like to know where anybody ever found any authority for a belief in future probation. Jesus Christ was either human or he was divine. And if he was only human then I am not obligated to obey his word any more than I am that of any other philosopher.
The Pharisees charged Jesus with being in league with the devil. They said to him, "You have a devil." They grew bolder in their denunciation and said: "You do what you do through Beelzebub, the prince of devils." Jesus said: "How is that so? If'what I do I do through the devil, explain why it is I am overthrowing the works of the devil. If I am a devil and if what I do is through the devil, then I wouldn't be working to hurt the works of the devil. I would not be doing what I am doing to destroy the works of the devil, but I would be working to destroy the works of God."
From that day forth they dared not ask him any questions.
I know there are various opinions held by men as to what they believe constitutes the sin against the Holy Ghost. There are those who think it could have been committed only by those who heard Jesus Christ speak and saw him in the flesh. If that be true then neither you nor I are in danger, for neither has ever seen Jesus in the flesh nor heard him. Another class think that it has been committed since the days of Jesus, but at extremely rare intervals; and still a third class think they have committed it and they spend their lives in gloom and dread and are perfectly useless to themselves and the community.
And yet I haven't the slightest doubt but that there are thousands that come under the head of my message, who are never gloomy, never depressed, never downcast; their conscience is at ease, their spirits are light and gay, they eat three meals a day and sleep as sound as a babe at night; nothing seems to disturb them, life is all pleasure and song.
What It Is
If you will lay aside any preconceived ideas or opinions which you may have had or still have as to what you imagine, think or believe constitutes the sin against the Holy Ghost, or the unpardonable sin, and if you will listen to me, for I have read every sermon I could ever get my hands upon the subject, and have listened to every man I have ever had an opportunity to hear preach, and have read everything the Bible has taught on the subject.
I do not say that my views on the subject are infallible, but I have wept and prayed and studied over it, and if time will permit and my strength will allow and your patience endure, I will try and ask and answer a few questions. What is it? Why will God not forgive it?
It is not swearing. If swearing were the unpardonable sin, lots of men in heaven would have to go to hell and there are multitudes on earth on their way to heaven who would have to go to hell. It is not drunkenness. There are multitudes in heaven that have crept and crawled out of the quagmires of filth and the cesspools of iniquity and drunkenness. Some of the brightest lights that ever blazed for God have been men that God saved from drunkenness.
It's not adultery. Jesus said to the woman committing adultery and caught in the very act: "Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more."
It isn't theft. He said to Zaccheus, "This day is salvation come upon thy house." Zaccheus had been a thief.
It's not murder. Men's hands have been red with blood and God has forgiven them. The Apostle Paul's hands were red with blood.
What is it? To me it is plain and simple. It is constant and continual, and final rejection of Jesus Christ as Rev. L , Peacock, One Of Mr Sunday's Assistants, Preaching In A Machine Shop In One Op The NoonDay Meetings That Form An Important Part or All Campaigns.
Billy Sunday And His Family At Home, Mount Hood, Winona Lake, Indiana.
your Saviour. God's offer of mercy and salvation comes to you and you say, "No," and you push it aside. I do know that there is such a thing as the last call to every man or woman. God says that his spirit will not always strive with man, and when a man or woman says "No" as God's spirit strives for the last time it forever seals your doom.
It is no special form of sin, no one act. It might be swearing, it might be theft. Any one becomes unpardonable if God keeps calling on you to forsake that sin and you keep on refusing to forsake it, and if you don't then he will withdraw and let you alone and that sin will become unpardonable, for God won't ask you again to forsake it.
It is no one glaring act, but the constant repetition of the same thing. There will come a time when you commit that sin once too often.
It is a known law of mind that truth resisted loses its power on the mind that resists it. You hear a truth the first time and reject it. The next time the truth won't seem so strong and will be easier to resist. God throws a truth in your face. You reject it. He throws again; you reject again. Finally Uod will stop throwing the truth at you and you will have committed the unpardonable sin.
"There is a line by 08 unseen;
It crosses every path;
It is God's boundary between
His patience and his wrath.
"To cross that limit is to die,
To die as if by stealth.
It may not dim your eye,
Nor pale the glow of health)
"Your conscience may be still at ease;
Your spirits light and gay;
That which pleases still may please,
And care be thrown away;
"But on that forehead God hath set
Indelibly a mark,
Unseen by man; for man as yet
Is blind and in the dark.
"Indeed, the doomed one's path below
May bloom as Edens bloom;
He does not, will not know,
Nor believe that he ie doomed."
Over in Scotland there are men who earn their living by gathering the eggs of birds, laid upon ledges on rocks away below the cliff top. They fasten a rope to a tree, also to themselves, then swing back and forth and in upon the ledge of rock. When a man was doing that same thing years ago, the rope beneath bis arms became untied, and the protruding rock caused the rope to hang many feet beyond his reach.
The man waited for help to come, but none came. Darkness came, the light dawned, and he gave himself up to the fate of starvation, which he felt inevitably awaiting him, when a breeze freshened and the dangling rope began to vibrate. As the wind increased in velocity it increased the vibration of the rope and as it would bend in, he said: "If I miss it, I die; if I seize it, it's my only chance," and with a prayer to God as the rope bent in, he leaped out of the chasm and seized it and made his way hand over hand to the top, and when he reached it his hair was as white as the driven snow.
There is one cord that swings through this old world today—the Holy Spirit. With every invitation it swings farther away. We are living in the last dispensation, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and God is speaking to the world through the Holy Spirit today.
Resisting the Truth
By every known law of the mind, conversion must be effected by the influence of the truth on the mind. Every time you resist the truth the next time you hear it, it loses its force on your mind. And every time you hear a truth and withstand it, then you become stronger in your power to resist the truth. We all know this, that each resistance strengthens you against the truth. When a man hears the truth and he resists it, the truth grows weaker and he grows stronger to resist it.
No matter what Jesus Christ did the Jews refused tc believe. He had performed wonderful deeds but they wouldn't believe, so when Lazarus was dead, he said: "Lazarus, come forth," and then turned to the Jews and said: "Isn't that evidence enough that I am the Son of God?" and they cried: "Away with him." One day he was walking down the hot dusty road and he met a funeral procession. The mourners were bearing the body of a young man and his mother was weeping. He told them to place the coffin on the ground and said:
"Young man arise," and he arose. Then he asked the Pharisees: "Is that not proof enough that I am the Son of God, that I make the dead to arise?" and they cried: "Away with him." So no matter what Jesus did, the Jews refused to believe him. No matter what Jesus Christ says or does today, you'll refuse to accept, and continue to rush pell-mell to eternal damnation.
Jesus Christ gives you just as much evidence today. Down in Indiana, my friend, Mrs. Robinson, was preaching. I don't remember the town, but I think it was Kokomo, and I remember the incident, and the last day she tried to get the leader of society there to give her heart to God. She preached and then went down in the aisle and talked to her. Then she went back to the platform and made her appeal from there. Again she went to the girl, but she still refused. As Mrs. Robinson turned to go she saw her borrow a pencil from her escort and write something in the back of a hymn book.
A few years afterward Mrs. Robinson went back to the town and was told the girl was dying. They told her the physicians had just held a consultation and said she could not live until night. Mrs. Robinson hurried to her home. The girl looked up, recognized her and said: "I didn't send for you. You came on your own account, and you're too late." To every appeal she would reply: "You're too late." Finally she said: "Go look in the hymn book in the church."
They hurried to the church and looked over the hymn books and found in the back of one her name and address and these words, "I'll run the risk; I'll take my chance." That was the last call to her. Not any one sin is the unpardonable sin, but it may be that constant repetition, over and over again until God will say: "Take it and go to hell."
Who can commit it? I used to think that only the vile, the profane were the people who could commit it.
Whom did Jesus warn? The Pharisees. And who were they? The best men, morally, in Jerusalem.
Who can commit it? Any man or woman who says "No" to Jesus Christ. You may even defend the Bible. You may be the best man or woman, morally, in the world. Your name may be synonymous with virtue and purity, but let God try to get into your heart, let him try to get you to walk down the aisle and publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ, and your heart and lips are sealed like a bank vault, and God hasn't been able to pull you to your feet. And God won't keep on begging you to do it.
Something may say to you, "I ought to be a Christian." This is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. God spoke in three dispensations. First, through the old Mosaic law. Then Jesus Christ came upon this earth and lived and the Jews and Gentiles conspired to kill him. Then the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost and God is speaking through the Holy Spirit today. The Holy Spirit is pressing you to be a Christian. It takes the combined efforts of the Trinity to keep you out of hell—God the Father to provide the plan of salvation, the Holy Spirit to convict, Jesus Christ to redeem you through his blood, and your acceptance and repentance to save you. Sin is no trifle.
Representative of the Trinity
The only representative of the Trinity in the world today is the Holy Ghost. Jesus has been here, but he is not here now—that is, in flesh and blood. The Holy Ghost is here now. When he leaves the world, good-bye.
There was an old saint of God, now in glory. He was holding meetings one time and a young man came down the aisle and went so far as to ask him to pray for him. He said: "Let's settle it now," but the young man refused and told him to pray for him. Years afterwards, in Philadelphia, the old saint was in a hotel waiting for his card to be taken up to the man he wanted to see. He looked in the bar-room door. There was a young man ordering a drink. The two saw each other's reflections in the French plate behind the bar, and the young man came out and said: "How do you do?" The old man spoke to him.
The young fellow said: "I suppose you don't remember me?" and the old saint had to admit that he did not
The young fellow asked him if he remembered the meeting eleven years before in New York when a young man came down the aisle and asked him to pray for him. He said he was the young man. The old saint said: "From what I have just seen I would suppose that you did not settle it."
The young fellow said: "I did not and I never expect to. I believe there is a hell and I'm going there as fast as I can go."
The old man begged him to keep still, but he said: "It is true. If Jesus Christ would come through that door now I would spit in his face."
The old man said: "Don't talk that way. I would not stand to have you talk about my wife that way, and I will not stand it to have you talk about Christ that way." The young fellow said it was all true. The old fellow said: "Maybe it is all true, but I do not like to hear it." The young fellow said it was true, and that if he had a Bible he would tear it up. With a string of oaths he went to the bar, took two or three drinks and went out the door.
Sometimes it may be utter, absolute indifference. Some can hear any sermon and any song and not be moved. I'll venture that some of you have not been convicted of sin for twenty-five years. Back yonder the Spirit of God convicted you and you didn't yield. The first place I ever preached, in the little town of Garner, in Hancock county, Iowa, a man came down the aisle. I said, "Who's that?" and someone told me that he was one of the richest men in the county. I asked him what I had said to help him, and he said nothing. Then he told me that twenty-one years ago he had gone to Chicago and sold his stock four hours before he had to catch a train. Moody was in town and with a friend he had gone and stood inside the door, listening to the sermon. When Moody gave the invitation he handed his coat and hat to his friend and said he was going down to give Moody his hand. The friend told him not to do it, that he would miss his train, and then the railroad pass would be no good after that day. He said he could afford to pay his way home.
His friend told him not to go up there amid all the excitement, but to wait and settle it at home. He said he had waited thirty-five years and hadn't settled it at home, but the friend persisted against his going forward and giving his heart to God. Finally the time passed and they had to catch the train and the man hadn't gone forward. He told me that he had never had a desire to give his heart to God until that time, twenty-one years later, when he heard me preach. The Spirit called him when he heard Moody, and then the Spirit did not call him again until twenty-one years later, when he heard me.
I have never said and I never will say that all unbelievers died in agony. Man ordinarily dies as he has lived. If you have lived in unbelief, ninety-nine cases out of one hundred you'll die that way. If Christianity is a good thing to die with it is a good thing to live with.
I don't go much on these death-bed confessions. A death-bed confession is like burning a candle at both ends and then blowing the smoke in the face of Jesus. A deathbed confession is like drinking the cup of life and then offering the dregs to Christ. I think it is one of the most contemptible, miserable, low-down, unmanly and unwomanly things that you can do, to keep your life in your own control until the last moment and then try to creep into the kingdom on account of the long-suffering and mercy of Jesus Christ. I don't say that none is genuine. But there is only one on record in the Bible, and that was the first time the dying thief had ever heard of Christ, and he accepted at once. So your case is not analogous to this. You have wagon loads of sermons dumped into you, but it's a mighty hard thing to accept in the last moment. If you've lived without conviction, your friends ought not to get mad when the preacher preaches your funeral sermon, if he doesn't put you in the front row in heaven, with a harp in your hands and a crown on your head.
God can forgive sins but you have got to comply with his requirements. He is not willing that an> .shall perish, but he has a right to tell me and you what to do to be saved.
A doctor had been a practitioner for sixty years and he was asked how many Godless men he had seen show any trace of concern on their death-bed. He said he had kept track of three hundred and only three had shown any real concern. That is appalling to me. You ordinarily die as you have lived.
A minister was called to a house of shame to be with a dying girl in her last moments. He prayed and then looked at her face and saw no signs of hope of repentance. He was led to pray again and this time he was led to put in a verse of scripture, Isaiah 1 :18: "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
"Is that what the Bible says?" the girl asked. He said it was. "Would you let me see it?" and the minister pointed it out to her.
"Would you pray again and put in that verse?" the girl asked and as he started she called, "Stop! Let me put my finger on that verse." The minister prayed and when he looked again, he saw hope and pardon and peace in the girl's face. "I'm so glad God made that 'scarlet,'" she said, "for that means me."
All manner of sins God will forgive. Then tell me why you will not come when God says, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Great heavens! I can't understand how you sit still.
But a man says: "Bill, will He forgive a murderer? My hands are red with blood, although no one knows it." Didn't I say he forgave Paul?
A Forgiving God
/ A friend of mine was preaching in Lansing, Michigan, one time, and in the middle section of the church there was a man who made him so nervous he couldn't watch him and preach. Nothing seemed to attract him until he said, "Supposing there were a murderer here tonight, God would forgive him if he accepted Christ," and the man grabbed the chair in front of him at the word murderer and sat rigid throughout the sermon, never taking his eyes from my friend. At the end of the meeting my friend went down to him and asked him what was the matter, telling him that he had made him so nervous he could hardly preach. The man said: "I'm a murderer. I escaped through a technicality and I'm supporting the widow and
children, but I am a murderer." My friend brought him to Jesus Christ and now that man is a power in the Church. All manner of sins God says he will forgive.
Some say: "Mr. Sunday, why is it that so few aged sinners are converts?"
Infidels when asked this, seize upon it as a plan of attack. When God begins to show his power, then the devil and all of the demons of hell get busy. That's the best evidence in the world that these meetings are doing good, when that bunch of knockers gets busy. Infidels sneer and say: "How does it happen that when a man's mind has developed through age and experience and contact with the world, and he has passed the period of youthful enthusiasm, how does it happen that so few of them are converted?"
Religion makes its appeal to your sensibility, not to your intellect. The way into the kingdom of heaven is heart first, not head first. God is not an explanation; God is a revelation.
A grain of corn is a revelation, but you can't explain it. You know that if you put the vegetable kingdom in the mineral kingdom the vegetable will be born again, but you can't explain it. Some of the greatest things are revelations. Therefore, instead of being an argument against religion, it is an argument for it.
Don't you know that sixteen out of twenty who are converted are converted before they are twenty years old? Don't you know that eighteen out of thirty who are converted are converted before they are thirty years old? Don't you know that? *
What does that prove? It proves that if you are not converted before you are thirty years old the chances are about 100,000 to one that you never will be converted.
Power of Revivals
Most people are converted at special revival services. I want to hurl this in the teeth, cram it down the throats of those who sneer at revival efforts—preachers included. Almost nine-tenths of the Christians at this meeting were converted at a revival. What does that show? It shows that if you are thirty and have not been converted, the chances are that if you are not converted at this revival you never will be converted.
If it weren't for revivals, just think of what hell would be like. Then think of any low-down, God-forsaken, dirty gang knocking a revival.
God says: "You can spurn my love and trample the blood under your feet, but if you seek my pardon I will forgive you." You might have been indifferent to the appeals of the minister, you might have been a thief, or an adulterer, or a blasphemer, or a scoffer, and all that, but God says: "I will forgive you." You might have been indifferent to the tears of poor wife and children and friends, but if you will seek God he will forgive you.
But when He came down and revealed himself as the Son of God through the Holy Spirit, if you sneer and say it is not true, your sin may become unpardonable. If you don't settle it here you never will settle it anywhere else.
I will close with a word of comfort and a word of warning. If you have a desire to be a Christian it is proof that the devil hasn't got you yet. That is the comfort. Now for the warning: If you have that desire thank God for it and yield to it. You may never have another chance.