ADDRESS TO BUSINESS MEN.
"And I will say to my eonl, Soul, thon hast much good Intd up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. Bat God aald unto Dim, Thou fool, thin eight thy aoul shall be required of thee." Luk* IS: IS), M.
I want to call your attention, for a few minutes this evening, to this man that the Savior has brought before us, in this portion of Scripture. You will see by reading it that he was what we would call now-a-days a successful business man—a man that many parents would hold up to their sons as a model. I don't think he was a drinking man; there's nothing in the story that would lead us to suppose he was. He hadn't made his money in getting up corners on grain; he didn't get it by any acts of usury, by which he drew twenty per cent.; he didn't get it by making a corner on gold, or getting up a Black Friday; he didn't make his money by betting on election or buying stocks, but he got it lawfully. No doubt he was a moralist; certainly there is nothing in what we have read to-night against his character. That was not his fault. He didn't rent his property for billiard halls, for liquor saloons, or to harlots. He was a farmer. I don't know of a more lawful occupation than that of a farmer. He was a successful man. I don't believe he ever compromised with his creditors by paying fifty cents on the dollar when he could pay one hundred. He didn't get his money that way. He didn't get it by shaving notes, or by taking advantage of the widow and orphan, or those who were poor; but he got it lawfully. He
was an upright man. I presume, if he was here, we would send him to Congress; or if we could not send him to Congress, we would make him mayor. He was a thoroughly good business man, who paid all he promised to pay. He was what we would call a shrewd man—a long-headed man, just deluged with business, and undoubtedly, if you had spoken to him about his soul's welfare, he would have turned to Scripture and said, "Be not slothful in business." Business must be attended to first; that's what Scripture teaches. And I think that Chicago men have got as far as that in Scripture, and there they stop. A man came out here from the East, and a minister asked him to preach in his pulpit, and he picked out the text "Not slothful in business," but went no further. "Why," said the minister to him, "don't you know that all Chicago have got that down in 'their souls; why don't you preach upon the whole of the text, and not apart?" "Not slothful in business;" Chicago don't want that kind of preaching. He forgot the rest—" fervent in spirit serving the Lord."
This man was earnest with business. He had got off that part of the text. Undoubtedly, he moved in the best society of his time. He had the best turn-out in that part of the country. He had the best farm in that section of the country, and the best horses and cattle. If he had been living to-day, probably he would have had the best short-horn cattle and the very finest wool sheep. He had the very best undoubtedly, in his time, and had been called a great success. No doubt in those days they had revival meetings; of course they bad, because one of the greatest revivals that ever took place occurred in those davs under John the Baptist. Perhaps it took place near his farm; but he could not leave his business to attend to it. Great multitudes flocked past his house, from early morn till late at night, on their way to the banks of the Jordan to hear the greatest revivalist that ever lived, except Jesus Christ. But he didn't leave his business to go; he probably thought they were fanatics. The idea of a business man turning from his legitimate business, from his merchandise—should waste his time to hear that preacher. No doubt, he belonged to the synagogue. He believed in set doctrines, and walked accordingly. He would not hear of those innovations. The idea of spending his time in going to listen to a man who was clothed with a leather girdle, and fed on locusts and wild honey! No, sir; he wouldn't hear him. Undoubtedly, Jesus and his apostles passed by that way, and he might have one night entertained him. Perhaps he had heard about the dead being raised by this man, as these drunkards are being raised in Chicago to-day—men who are being lifted from sin and degradation and a new song put into their mouth. Like a great many of these business men <to-day, perhaps he said: •Oh, it's only a nine days' wonder; and the excitement will *>e gone soon." Christ came and went; but he was so pressed with'business that he hadn't time to attend to -what that heavenly preacher said He hadn't time to go to those meetings on the banks of the Jordan. So it is with men to-day. They haven't time to look into this great question of Jesus Christ. They have heard of him, but can't stop to see how he came, why he came, or what he has done? Business is so pressing. Undoubtedly, he had the very best wine there was in the land, and it was always on his table, although he wasn't a drunkard. He had the very best fruit, the very best fish and game upon his table. The very best material he wore—perhaps he sent all the way down to Egypt to buy clothing for his wife and daughters. His turn-out was the most stylish—probably he was often seen with a four-in-hand on the highway. Everybody said he was getting along nicely. If a friend came to see him, he would take him all around, and show him his land and his barns, and point to this and trial part that he was going to pull down and make larger. Business was increasing. He would show him all through his grand house, and tell how he was once a poor boy, how his father died, and how the creditors came and took everything; how he had commenced life with nothing, and he had made all his friends saw. Just like a great many men here. They will tell how they came to Chicago poor boys, how by hard work, by incessant toiling, they had gained what they have now, taking all the glory to themselves instead of giving it to God. Look at him! If a man cheated him out of five dollars, how he would resent it. A shrewd, practical, business man; and yet the devil was cheating him out of his soul. That is the way today. They are just living for time. The great trouble with this man was he was blind—he was just living from the cradle to the grave. He didn't want to take death into his plans. "In every man's garden there is a sepulcher." My friends, in every man's home there is a sepulcher. Death is inevitable; and is not a man mad who does not take it into his plans?
Look at him. One night he is in the drawing-room of this beautiful palatial home and he stands with an architect looking over plans. He is going to have a new barn built. It is going to be the best that money can erect. He don't want any of his neighbors to approach him. It is going to be the very best. The architect has gone away, and he stands there looking over the plans. His family have retired, and all the servants have gone to bed. The doors and windows are all double-locked, double-barred, sealed, chained—fastened securely, but a stranger comes in slowly and lays a cold hand upon him, and says, "Come, I must take thee away." "Who art thou, stranger?" "I am Death." He should not have been any stranger to him. The idea of Death being a stranger to any of us. Why, death is all around us. No doubt he had attended many funerals, and perhaps acted as pall-bearer. Perhaps he was like some people in Chicago; he never heard a sermon except when he attended a funeral. He had heard
a sermon then, and had seen the body laid in the ground, and now his time has come. He wants to bribe Death, and offers him thousands of dollars to give him a little more time; but he cannot bribe Death. You can bribe politicians, you may bribe these business men; but there is an officer that never can be bought, never can be bribed, and when he comes we have to obey his summons. When Death says, "Come, you must go with me, we have to obey him. When Death entered that chamber and said, "Come, I want thee," he might have cried: "Let me live a little longer; let me have these places finished; just a few years longer." "Come," says Death, "come." "Why, what are you going to do with me? Where are you going to take me?" "You have had time enough to see to that; you must come now." The man weeps and cries: "I've got a loving wife; I have loving children; I have got a perfect palace—a beautiful home, which I have been all my life preparing; I've just got i'i fixed up now; don't summon me away now; oh, Death, spare me a little longer." Like that queen he cries, "Oh for an inch of time!" But says Death, "Come!" and lays his cold hand upon that heart, and it ceases to beat. Perhaps when the servants come in, they find him sitting at his desk dead. The news spreads through the house, and that wife learns she is a widow. I see that widow and those children gathering around the body of that father. The family physician comes. He looks at that body and puts his hand on that pulse; but the pulse, that told the man how fast he was traveling toward eternity, had ceased to beat. There is a stir in that community next morning. "Squire so-and-so is dead; he was a shrewd man; practical, successful man." Perhaps at the funeral the whole community turned out, and probably got a minister, as they get them in our day, to come to the funeral and deliver a eulogy over him, who said he was very benevolent to the poor, he was very philanthropic, and held him up as an example. It appears to me there is more lying at funerals than anywhere else. Men stand up and pronounce a eulogy over men who have lived a churchless, godless life; who have gone down to a Chrlstless, godless grave, and say, because they have Been wise and good to the poor, they have gone to a better world, God sees differently. You and I may try to make out this man as a shrewd man, a wise man, a man to be held up as an example; but just see what the Son of Man says about him. He says, such a man is an abomination to God. The Son of Man says, "Thou fool." He wrote his epitaph, and it has been handed down to us as a warning —handed down for 1,800 years.
I can imagine some of you saying: "If I had known that he would have talked about death to-night, I would not have come. Why don't he talk about life, about happiness; why don't he tell us about how to get on in business—how to get through the battle of life? Why does he speak about death only?" 1 will tell you why it is. It is because nine out of every ten die unexpectedly; it is because nine out of every ten die wholly unprepared. They may have been warned; death may have come very near. It might have entered their house and taken away a loved wife, loved children, & loved father or mother; death may have come into their homes four, five, six, seven, ten times, and taken away relatives from their midst. Yet they are unprepared. Do you know that six millions of people die annually in the world? Since I came here and began preaching in this Tabernacle, death has thrown ita mantle around many a one. Do you remember that death in this cold, dark, bleak night is doing its work? I am speaking to some who may be in eternity to-morrow. I come to tell you to be prepared. Is not it downright folly to spend your lives in piling up wealth and to die as this man died, without nope, without Christ, without eternal life? Let me call your attention to this. The sin of this man was simply neglect. It is clear. We cannot condemn his business. It was honest, legitimate. But the thing we do condemn is, that he neglected to secure hia soul's salvation. A great many say: "Am I not kind to the poor; am I not honorable in all my transactions; do I not pay a hundred cents on a dollar always?" But are you honest to your soul's salvation? You may fold your arms and depend upon your deeds; but if you do not seek salvation in this world, you will be lost. You know that there are three steps down the hill; and they are to neglect, to refuse, and to despise. Now, all in this audience are standing on some of the steps of this ladder. You can see how, if a man neglects his salvation, he will be lost. All you men, if you neglect your business and leave it to itself, you know you will soon become bankrupt. And if a man wants to air, all he has to do is not to call in a doctor. Look at a general of an army of 10,000 men. He knows that there is an army of 10,000 coming to meet him, but he goes and takes his glass, and sees in the distance another army of 10,000 men, who are coming up to reinforce his enemy. He knows he cannot delay; if he does, he will soon be overwhelmed by the 20,000 men ahead of him. A man who neglects his soul's salvation does not look at what is ahead of him; and the enemy comes up and overwhelms him. Death conies, as it probably came to this man, at the midnight hour, unexpectedly and unbidden. You know more men die at night than in the day—from twelve to three o'clock in the morning. How many men die unexpectedly. Look at the millions and millions who die unexpectedly. Although we live an allotted time—threescore and ten—when death comes, iV comes unexpectedly. This man had provided for his family; he had built up a great business and had provided for his own wants; but he made no provision for his own soul. You might have gone to his house and taken up a pencil and written on everything he possessed, "Thou fool." He spent all his life in accumulating money; and then he had to leave it all. A sailor
was telling a man that his father and his grandfather and his great grandfather, were all drowned at sea, and the man said, " Why don't you get prepared to die, then; you may be ,drowned any day too?" "Where did your father die?" inquired the sailor. "On land." "And your grandfather?" "On land. "And your great grandfather?" "On land, too." "Are you prepared to die?" "Well, no." "Why don't you get prepared?" asked the sailor. He didn't think he was in danger continually himself, but that the sailor was.
I think the greatest text that is given to us is, "Prepare to meet thy God." Are you ready? Why do you neglect any longer to accept salvation? All the children of Israel had to do to be oured was to look on that brazen serpent; they were healed instantly. If they neglected to look upon that serpent, they died. All you nave got to do is, to look upon Christ and receive life. Look at the Indian who is in his canoe. He has gone to sleep. Perhaps he may be dreaming about hunting-grounds; perhaps he may be dreaming of his friends, in the Indian village. Yet he is in the rapids, which are taking him over the cataract. He is not rowing toward it; he is sound asleep; the paddle lies in the bottom of that canoe. Without any effort of his own, the current is taking him toward the fall. By-andby, the poor man wakes up, and he sees he is on the brink of the cataract. In a few moments he will plunge over. He gives an unearthly cry, and down he goes into the jaws of death. All here to-night are in the current that is carrying them to the cataract—rushing on to judgment. A great many things in this world are not sure. You may buy grain, you may buy land, you are not sure whether the value will go up or down; but there is one thing that you are sure of, and that is death. "For it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." After that the judgment. You can be sure of that.
Now the question is, Are you ready? I can imagine some of you saying: "I've got time enough; I don't propose to settle this question just yet; there's a good many years before me." Is there a man who can say this? Is there a man who can say, "To-morrow is mine?" We are on the journey toward the judgment. Have you got a hope in the future; have you that which will take vou over the grave; have you that power which will carry you through death and judgment? You go to Graceland and summon up the dead. Bring them into this hall in the midst of this audience, with their ghastly windingsheets, and see how many of them died old. You will find that more of them died young than old. Why, whole populations are swept into eternity before they reach their allotted age. Instead of threescore and ten, the allotted age now-a-days is about thirty years. My friends, we will soon be in eternity. What are you doing? Are you reflecting?
Some of you are on the second round of the ladder. You are re
fusing. I was talking to a lady last night, and she said calmly, coolly, and deliberately: "I don't want him; I don't want Christ." "Do you really mean this?" I asked. "Yes, I don't want him." I presume a few years ago she would not have said this; but she had got on the second round of the ladder. And some now despise it if you get a tract upon the streets, yon just tear it up. You mock ana make light of the God of your father and your mother. Yon have got on the bottom round of the ladder, and you despise the gift of God. My friends, that is the last round. A man has sunk pretty low when he despises the gift of God—when he hurls it back to God and says, "I will not have it."
Now, I want to ask you this question, "What are you going to do? Will you think a few minutes, young man? Will you stop for a few minutes, and just think? I wish I could wake this audience up for five minutes. Just ask yourselves where you are;" or, to make it more personal, "What am 1? Where am I going? A dying man called a Hindoo priest to his bedside, and asked him where he was going. The priest said he was going into an animal. "Well, after that where am I going?" "Going into another animal." "Where next?" "Into another animal;" and he went on telling the man he would enter into this and that animal, until he stopped. Then the man asked, "Where shall I go after that?" and the poor heathen priest could not tell him. Ah, won't you settle this question tonight? "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Suppose a man has the whole wealth of Chicago rolled at his feet, and then he dies; what has he gained?
A father was on his death-bed lately, and he called in his son. The boy was careless; he would not take death into account. He wanted to enjoy the pleasures of life; and he took no heed of the future. The old man said: "My son, I want to ask you one favor, and that is; when I am dead promise me you will come into this room for five minutes every day for thirty days. You are to come alone, not to bring a book with you; and sit here." The thoughtless young man promised to do it. The father died. The first thing when he went into that room that he thought of was his father's prayer—his father's words, and his father's God; and before the five minutes expired he was crying out, "God be merciful to me." It seems to me if I could get men to always ask themselves, '•- What is going to be my end?" "Where am I going to spend eternity?"' it would not be long before they would come to Christ. You may be moralists; you may be proprietors of a successful business; you may be what the world calls successful business men; yet, "W^ere are you going to spend eternity?" Can you tell me where you will be next year? Can you tell me where you are going to be ten years hence? Can you tell me? I want to read a little notice on a card which is headed, "I have missed it at last."
A few months ago, in New York, a physician called upon a young man who was ill. He sat for a little by the bedside, examining his patient, and then he honestly told him the sad intelligence that he nad but a short time to live. The young man was astonished; he did not expect it would come to that so soon. He forgot that death comes "in such an hour as ye think not." At length he looked up in the face of the doctor, and with a most despairing countenance, repeated the expression, "I have missed it—at last." "What have you missed?" inquired the tender-hearted, sympathizing physician. "I have missed it—at last," again the young man replied. The doctor, not in the least comprehending what the poor young man meant, said: "My dear young man, will you be so good as to tell me what you—" He instantly interrupted, saying, "Oh! doctor, it is a sad story—a sad—sad story that I have to tell. But I have missed it!" "Missed what?" "Doctor, I have missed the salvation of my soul." "Oh! say not so. It is not so. Do you remember the thief on the cross?" "Yes, I remember the thief on the cross. And I remember that he never said to the Holy Spirit—Go thy way. But / did. And now he is saying to me, Go your way." He lay gasping awhile, and looking up with a vacant, staring eye, he said: "I was awakened, and was anxious about my soul a little time ago. But I did not want religion then. Something seemed to say to me, Don't postpone it. I knew I ought not to do it. I knew I was a great sinner and needed a Savior. I resolved, however, to dismiss the subject for the present. Yet I could not get my own consent to do it, until I had promised that I would take it up again, at a time not remote and more favorable. I bargained away, insulted, and grieved away the Holy Spirit. I never thought of coming to this. I meant to have religion, and make my salvation sure. And now I have missed it— at last." "You remember," said the doctor, "that there were some who came at the eleventh hour!' "My eleventh hour," he rejoiced, "was when I had that call of the Spirit. I have had none since—I shall not have. I am given over to be lost." "Not lost," said the doctor, "you may yet be saved." "No—not saved—never. He tells me I may go my way now. I know it—I feel it, feel it here," laying his hand upon his heart. Then he burst out in despairing agony: "Oh, I have missed it! I have sold my soul for nothing—a feather —a straw—undone forever!" This was said with such unutterable, indescribable despondency, that no other words were said in reply. After lying a few moments, he raised his head, and looking all around the room as if for some desired object—turning his eyes in every direction—then burying his face in the pillow, he again exclaimed, in agony and horror: "Oh, I have missed it at last!" and he died.
Dear friends, you may not hear my voice again. I may be speaking to you for the last time. You may never come into this Tabernacle again, and I beg of you as a friend, and as a brother, do not go out of this Tabernacle without salvation. Let this night be the night that you will accept everlasting life. Let this be the night on which you will cry from the depth of your heart, "Let me haw Christ, let me have salvation." "Though it cost me my right hand or my right eye, I will have Christ to-night." May that be the cry of every one here to-night, and salvation be accepted for time and eternity, by every soul in this building. May God wake up every soul here to-night, and when that summons comes may you go to triumph over the grave, and so enter into a glorious immortality.