Mr. Moody's First Impulse in Converting Souls.
I want to tell you how I got the first impulse to work solely for the conversion of men. For a long time after my conversion I didn't accomplish anything. I hadn't got into my right place; that was it. I hadn't thought enough of this personal work. I'd get up in prayer meeting, and I'd pray with the others, but just to go up to a man and take hold of his coat and get him .down on his knees, I hadn't yet got round to that. It was in i860 the change came. In the Sunday school I had a pale, delicate young man as one of the teachers. I knew his burning piety, and assigned him to the worst class in the school. They were all girls, and it was an awful class. They kept gadding around in the school-room, and were laughing and carrying on all the while. And this young man had better success than any one else. One Sunday he was absent, and I tried myself to teach the class, but couldn't do anything with them; they seemed farther off than ever from any concern about their souls. Well, the day after his absence, early Monday morning, the young man came into the store where I worked, and, tottering and bloodless, threw himself down on some boxes. "What's the matter?" I asked, "I have been bleeding at the lungs, and they have given me up to die," he said. "But you are not afraid to die?" I questioned, "No," said he, "I am not afraid to die, but I have got to stand before God and give an account of my stewardship, and not one of my Sabbath-school scholars has been brought to Jesus. I have failed to bring one, and haven't any strength to do it now."
He was so weighed down that I got a carriage and took that dying man in it, and we called at the homes of every one of his scholars, and to each one he said, as best his faint voice would let him, "I have come to just ask you to come to the Saviour," and then he prayed as I never heard before. And for ten days he labored in that way, sometimes walking to the nearest houses. And at the end of that ten days every one of that large class had yielded to the Saviour. Full well I remember the night before he went away (for the doctors said he must hurry to the South), how we held a true love-feast. It was the very gate of heaven, that meeting. He prayed, and they prayed; he didn't ask them, he didn't think they could pray; and then we sung, "Blest be the tie that binds." It was a beautiful night in June that he left on the Michigan Southern, and I was down to the train to help him off. And those girls every one gathered there again, all unknown to each other; and the depot seemed a second gate to heaven, in the joyful, yet tearful, communion and farewells between these newly redeemed souls and him whose crown of rejoicing it will be that he led them to Jesus. At last the gong sounded, and, supported on the platform, the dying man shook hands with each one, and whispered, "I will meet you yonder."
Very Hard, yet Very Easy.
The hardest thing, I will admit, ever a man had to do is to become a Christian, and yet it is the easiest. This seems to many to be a paradox, but I will repeat it, it is the most difficult thing to become a Christian, and yet it is the easiest. I have a little nephew in this city. When he was about three or four years of age, he threw that Bible on the floor. I think a good deal of that Bible, and I don't like to see this. His mother said to him, "Go pick up uncle's Bible from the floor." "I won't," he replied. "Go and pick up that Bible directly." "I won't." "What did you say?" asked his mother. She thought he didn't understand. But he understood well enough, and had made up his mind that he wouldn't. She told the boy she would have to punish him if he didn't, and then he said he couldn't, and by and by he said he didn't want to. And that is the way with the people in coming to Christ. At first they say they won't, then they can't, and then they don't want to. The mother insisted upon the boy picking up the Bible, and he got down and put his arms around it and pretended he couldn't lift it. He was a great, healthy boy, and he could have picked it up easily enough. I was very anxious to see the fight carried on because she was a young mother, and if she didn't break that boy's will he was going to break her heart by and by. So she told him again if he didn't pick it up she would punish him, and the child just picked it up. It was very easy to do it when he made up his mind. So it is perfectly easy for men to accept the gospel. The trouble is they don't want to give up their will. If you want to be saved you must just accept that gospel—that Christ is your Saviour, that he is your Redeemer, and that he has rescued you from the curse of the law. Just say "Lord Jesus Christ, I trust you from this hour to save me," and the moment you take that stand he will put his loving arms around you and wrap about you the robe of righteousness.
The Arrows of Conviction.
I remember while preaching in Glasgow, an incident occurred which I will relate. I had been preaching there several weeks, and the night was my last one, and I pleaded with them as I had never pleaded there before. I urged the people to meet me in that land. It is a very solemn thing to stand before a vast audience for the last time and think you may never have another chance of asking them to come to Christ. I told them I would not have another opportunity, and urged them to accept, and just asked them to meet me at that marriage supper. At the conclusion I soon saw a tall young lady coming into the inquiry room. She had scarcely come in when another tall young lady came in, and she went up to the first and put her arms around her and wept. Pretty soon another young lady came and went up to the first two and just put her arms around both of them. They were three sisters and I found that although they had been sitting in different parts of the building, the sure arrow of conviction went down to their souls, and brought them to the inquiry room. Another young lady came down from the gallery and said: "Mr. Moody, I want to become a Christian." I asked
a young Christian to talk to her, and when she went home that night about 10 o'clock—her mother was sitting up for her—she said: "Mother, I have accepted the invitation to be present at the marriage supper of the Lamb." Her mother and father laid awake that night talking about the salvation of their child. That was Friday night, and next day (Saturday) she was unwell, and before long her sickness developed into scarlet fever, and a few days after I got this letter:
"mr. Moody—Dear Sir: It is now my painful duty to intimate to you that the dear girl concerning whom I wrote to you on Monday, has been taken away from us by death. Her departure, however, has been signally softened to us, for she told us yesterday she was "going home to be with Jesus," and after giving messages to many, told us to let Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey know that she died a happy Christian."
How a Citizen Became a Soldier.
One day I was walking through the streets of York, in England. I saw a little way ahead a soldier coming toward me. He had the red uniform on of the infantry—the dress of the army. I knew at once when I saw him that he was a soldier. When he came near me I stopped him. I said, "My good man, if you have no objection I would like to ask you a few questions." "Certainly, sir," said he. "Well, then, I would like to know how you first became a soldier." "Yes, sir, I will tell you. You see, sir, I wanted to become a soldier, and the recruiting officer was in our town, and I went up to him and told him I wanted to enlist. "Well, sir, he said, 'All right,' and the first thing he did, sir, he took an English shilling out of his pocket, sir, and put it into my hand. The very moment, sir, a recruiting-sergeant puts a shilling into your hand, sir, you are a soldier." I said to myself, "That is the very illustration I want."
That man was a free man at one time—he could go here and there; do just what he liked; but the moment the shilling was put into his hand he was subject to the rules of war, and Queen Victoria could send him anywhere and make him obey the rules and regulations of the army. He is a soldier the very minute he takes the shilling. He has not got to wait to put on the uniform. And when you ask me how a man may be converted at once, I answer, just the same as that man became a soldier. The citizen becomes a soldier in a minute, and from being a free man becomes subject to the command of others. The moment you take Christ into your heart, that moment your name is written in the roll of Heaven. *
Moody a Young Convert.
I remember soon after I got converted a pantheist got hold of me, and just tried to draw me back to the world. Those men who try to get hold of a young convert are the worst set of men. I don't know a worse man than he who tries to pull young Christians down. He is nearer the borders of hell than any man I know. When this man knew I had found Jesus he just tried to pull me down. He tried to argue with me, and I did not know the Bible very well then, and he got the best of me. The only way to get the best of those atheists, pantheists, or infidels, is to have a good knowledge of the Bible. Well, this pantheist told me God was everywhere—in the air, in the sun, in the moon, in the earth, in the stars, but really he meant nowhere. And the next time I went to pray, it seemed as if I was not praying anywhere or to anyone. We have ample evidence in the Bible that there is such a place as heaven, and we have abundant manifestations that His influence from heaven is felt among us.
You will remember when we had slavery we used to have men come up from Kentucky, Tennessee, and other slave states in order to escape from slavery. I hope if there are any Southern people here they will not think in this allusion I am trying to wound their feelings. We all remember when these rolored men came here how they used to be afraid lest some one should come and take them back. Why, I remember in the store we had a poor fugitive, and he used to be quaking all the time. Sometimes a customer would come in, and he would be uneasy all the time. He was afraid it was some one to take him back to slavery. But somebody tells him if he was in Canada he would be perfectly safe, and he says: "If I could only get into Canada; if I could only get under the Union Jack I would be free." There are no slaves under the Union Jack he has been told—that is the flag of freedom; the moment he gets under it he is a free man. So he starts. We'll say there are no railways, and the poor fellow has got ten miles ahead when his master comes up, and he hears that his slave has fled for Canada and sets off in pursuit. Some one tells the poor fugitive that his master is after him. What does the poor fugitive do? What does he do? He redoubles his exertions and presses on, on, on, on. He is a slave born, and he knows a slave belongs to his master. Faster he goes! He knows his master is after him and he will be taken if he comes up with him before he reaches the lines. He says, "If I can only hold out and get under the English flag, the English government will protect me." The whole English army will come to protect me if need be. On he presses. He is now nearing the boundary line. One minute he is a slave, and in an instant he is a free man. My friends, don't mistake. These men can be saved tonight if they cross the line.
An Irishman Leaps Into the Life-Boat.
While I was in New York, an Irishman stood up in a young converts' meeting and told how he had been saved. He said in his broken Irish brogue that I used an illustration, and that illustration saved him. And I declare that that is the only man I ever knew who was converted without being spoken to. He said I used an illustration of a wrecked vessel, and said that all would perish unless some assistance came. Presently a life-boat came alongside and the captain shouted, "Leap into the life-boat— leap for your lives, or you will perish," and when I came to the point I said, "Leap into the life-boat; Christ is your life-boat of salvation, and he leaped and was saved.
Safe in the Ark.
When the voice came down from heaven to Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation," now, there was a minute when Noah was outside the ark, and another when he was inside, and by being inside he was saved. As long as he was outside of the ark he was exposed to the wrath of God just like the rest of those antediluvians. If he stayed out, and remained with those antediluvians, he would have been swept away, as they were. It was not his righteousness; it was not his faith nor his works that saved him; it was the ark. And, my friends, we have not, like Noah, to be one hundred and twenty years making an ark for our safety. God has provided an ark for us, and the question is: Are you inside or outside this ark? If you are inside you are safe; if you are outside you are not safe.
—It is our privilege to know that we are saved. —We shall draw the world to Christ when we are filled with religion.
—He that overcometh shall inherit all things. God has no poor children.
—I hold to the doctrine of sudden conversion as I do to my life, and I would as quickly give up my life as give up this doctrine, unless it can be proved that it is not according to the word of God. Now, I will admit that light is one thing and birth is another. A soul must be born before it can see light. A child must be born before it can be taught; it must be born before it can walk; it must be born before it can be educated. 7