ADDRESS TO YOUNG MEN.
"And Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." 1 Kings 13:21.
I want to call your attention to-night to a text which you will find in the 18th chapter of 1st Kings, 21st verse: "And Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." We find in this portion of the * Word of God that Elijah was calling the people of Israel back, or he
was calling them to a decision as to whether they were for God or Baal, and a great many were wavering, just halting between two opinions, like the people of Chicago at the present time.
During the last eight weeks, a great deal has been said upon the subject of religion. Men have talked about it all over the city. A great many are talking, a great many are taking their stand for, and a great many against him. Now, what will you do to-night? I will just divide this audience into two portions—one against and one for him. It seems to me a practical question to ask an audience like this: "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." A man who is undecided about any question of any magnitude never has any comfort, never has any peace. Not only that, but we don't like a man who cannot decide upon a question. I like men of decision, and firmly believe that more men are lost by indecision than by anything else. It is a question whether I am not talking to many men to-night who intend some day to settle this question. Probably every one here intends to make heaven his home; but Satan is trying to get you to put off the settlement of the question till it will be too late. If he can only get men to put off till the to-morrow, which never comes, he, has accomplished all he wants. How many in this audience has promised some friend, years ago, that they would settle this question. Maybe you said you would do it when you came of age. That time has gone with some of you, and it has not been settled yet. Some have reached thirty, some forty, and others have reached fifty years; their eyes are growing dim, and they are hastening toward eternity, and this is not settled with them yet. Some of you have promised dying brothers that you would meet them in that world; some have promised dying wives that you would see them in that land of light; and again, others have given your word to dying children that you would meet them in heaven. Years have rolled away, and still you have not decided. You have kept putting it off, week by week and year by year. My friends, why not decide to-night? "How long halt ye between two opinions?" If the Lord be God, serve him; if not, turn your back upon him. It seems to me a question every man can settle, if he will. You like those grand old characters in the Bible, who have made a decisive stand. Look at Moses! The turning point in his life was when he decided to give up the gilded court of Pharaoh and cast his lot with God's people. You will find that every man who has left a record in the Bible has been a man of decision. "What made Daniel so great? It was because he was a man of decision. What saved the prodigal? It was not that he got into his father's arms; it was not his coming home. The turning point was • when he decided the question: "I will arise and go to my father." It was the decision of the young man that saved him. Many a man has been lost because of indecisioi:. I.ook J^^^ix" l^ok at Agrippa.
Felix said: "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient .•season I will call for thee." See what Agrippa said: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Look at Pilate—all lost; lost because of his indecision. His mind was thoroughly convinced that Jesus was the true Christ. He said, "I find no fault in him;" but he hadn't the courage to take his stand for him. Thousands have gone down to the caverns of death for want of courage.
My friends, let us look this question in the face. If there is anything at all in the religion of Cnrist, give everything for it. If there is nothing in it; if it is myth; if our mothers, who nave prayed over us, have been deceived; if the praying people of the last 1,800 years have been deluded, let us find it out. The quicker, the better. If there is nothing in the religion of Christ, let us throw it over, and eat, drink, and be merry, for time will soon be gone. If there is no devil to deceive us, no hell to receive us; if Christianity is a sham, let us come out like men and say so. I hope to live to see the time when there only be two classes in this world—Christians and infidels; those who take their stand bravely for him, and those who take their stand against him. This idea of men standing stall and saying: t" Well, I don't know, but I think there must be something in it, is absurd. If there is anything in it, there is everything in it. If the Bible of our mothers is not true, let us burn it. Is there one in this audience willing to say and do this? If it is a myth, why spend Bo much money in publishing it? Why send out millions of Bibles to the nations of the earth? Let us destroy it, if it is false, and all those institutions giving the gospel to the world. What is the use of all this waste of money? Are we mad, are we lunatics who have i been deluded? Let us burn the book, and send up a shout over its ashes: "There is no God; there is no hell; there is no heaven; there is no hereafter. When men die, they die like dogs in the street!" But, my friends, if it is true—if heaven, if the hereafter in the Bible, is true, let us come out boldly, like men, for Christ. Let us take our stand, and not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why, it seems to me a question that ought to be settled in this nineteenth century easy enough, whether you are for or against him, or not. Why, if Baal be God, follow him; but if the Lord be God, follow him. If there is no truth in the religion of Jesus Christ, you may as well tear down all your churches, destroy your hospitals, your blind asylums. It's a waste of money to build them. Baalites don't build blind asylums; they don't build hospitals or orphan asylums. If there hadn't been any Christians in the world, there would have been no charitable institutions. If it hadn't been for Christianity, you would have had no praying mothers. Is it true that their prayers have exercised a pernicious influence? Is it true that a boy who had a praying father and mother, or a good teacher, is no better off than a boy who has been brought up amid blasphemy
and infamy? Is it true? It must be either one way or the other. Did bad men write that Bible? Certainly not, or they wouldn't have consigned themselves to eternal perdition. The very fact that the Bible has lived and grown during these 1,800 years, is a strong proof that it came from God. Men have tried to put it out of the world; they have tried to burn it out of the world; but they have failed. It has come down to us—down these 1,800 years, amidst persecution; and now we are in a land where it is open to all, and no man need be without one. What put it into the minds of those men to give money liberally to print and circulate this book? Bad men wouldn't do this. This is a question that, it seems to me, could be decided to-night. If it is not good, then take your stand. If the Lord be God, follow him, but if God be Baal, then follow him. Some one asked Alexander how he conquered the world, and he replied, that he conquered it by not delaying. If you want to conquer the devil, you must not delay. Accept eternal life as a gift to-night.
Let us take the surroundings of this text. We are told that Elijah stood before Ahab and told him, because of the evil deeds of Israel and the king, there would no rain come upon the land for three years and a half. After that Elijah went to the brook Cherith, where he was fed by the ravens; then he went to Zarephath, and there dwelt with a poor widow for months and months. Three years and a half rolled away, and not one drop of rain or dew had come from heaven. Probably, when Elijah told the king there would be no rain, he laughed at him. The idea that he should have the key of Heaven 1 He scouted the very idea, at first. But after a little, it became a very serious matter. The brooks began to dry up; the cattle could not get water; the crops failed the first year; the next year they were worse; the third year they were even a worse failure; and the people began to flee out of his kingdom to get food; and yet they did not call upon Elijah's God. They had 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of the groves; and yet all their prayers did not bring rain. Why did they not ask God for rain? Baal was not an answerer of prayer. The devil never answers prayer. If prayer has ever been answered, it has been answered by the God of our fathers, by the God of our mothers. After Elijah had been gone three and a half years, he returns and meets Obadiah, the governor of the king's house, to whom Ahab had said: "You go down that way, and I'll go down this way, and see if we oan't discover water." They hadn't been separated long when Obadiah meets Elijah, and asks him to come to the king. The prophet tells him to go and say to Ahab, "Elijah is here. But Obadiah don't want to leave him, and says: "If I lose sight of you this time, when the king knows you have stepped through my hands, it may cost me my life. Don't you know I've been a servant of the true God all the time, and I've had a hundred of the prophets of the Lord in a cave. If you don't co-jie I will
lose my life." Elijah tells him to go and bring Ahab; and instead of Elijah going to Ahab, Ahab comes to him. As soon as the king comes he says: "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" That is the way with men. They bring down the wrath of God upon themselves, and then blame God's people. A great many people are blaming God for these hard times. Look on the millions and millions of money spent for whisky. Why, it is about time for famine to strike the land. If men had millions of money, it wouldn't be long before all the manhood would be struck out of them. Now, the people of Israel had gone over to Baal; they had forgotten the God that brought them out of Egypt—the God of Jacob and Abraham and of their fathers. "Now," says Elijah, "let's have this settled. Let some of your people make an offering to their God on Mount Carmel, and 1 will make an offering to my God; and the God that answers by fire will be the God."
The king agrees, and the day arrives. You can see a great star among the people that day. They are moving up to Mount Carmel. By and by Ahab comes up in his royal carriage, and those four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the groves made a great impression. Dressed in priestly robes, they moved solemnly up that mountain. The king has swept along in his chariot, and perhaps passed by the poor priest Elijah, who comes slowly up, leaning upon his staff, his long white hair streaming about his shoulders. People don't believe in sensations, but that was one of the greatest sensations of their age. What is going to happen? No doubt the whole nation had been talking about this Elijah, and when he came to that mountain, the crowd looked upon him as the man who held the key of heaven. When he came up, he addressed the children of Israel; perhaps there were hundreds of thousands there. "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if he be Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." Their eight hundred and fifty prophets had made a great impression upon them, and the king was afraid too. These people are just like a great many people now. They are afraid to go into the inquiry room, for what people will say. If they do go in, they get behind a post, so that they can't be seen. They are afraid the people in the store will find it out, and make fun of them. Moral courage is wanted by them, as it was wanted by those people. How many among us have not the moral courage to oome out for the God of our mothers! People know these blackhearted hypocrites around them are not to be believed. They know these men who scoff at their religion are not their friends, while their mothers will do everything for them. The truest friends we can have are those who believe in Christ. "And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even J. only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred
and fifty men. Let them, therefore, give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it ou wood, and put no fire under it. And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God that answereth by fire let him be God. And all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken."—" Yes, sir, that's right. We'll stand by that decision." They built an altar, and laid their bullock on it, and began to cry to Baal, "O Baal! O Baal! IJual! Baal!" No answer. They cry louder and louder, but no answer comes. They pray from morning till noon, but not a sound. Elijah says: "Louder; you must pray louder. He must be on a journey; he must be asleep. He must be on a journey, or asleep." They cry louder and louder. Some people say it don't matter what a man believes, so long as he is earnest. These men were terribly in earnest. No Methodists shout as they did. They cry as loud as their voices will let them, but no answer. They take their kes and cut themselves, in their earnestness. Look at those four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the grove, all covered with blood, as they cry out in their agony. They have no God. Young man, who is your master? Whom do you serve? If you are serving Baal, I tell you, if ever you get into trouble, he will not answer you. No answer canle. Three o'clock came, the hour for the evening sacrifice; and Elijah prepared his altar. He would have nothing to do with the altar of Baal. He merely took twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, and built his altar, ami laid his bullock on. No doubt some skeptic said he had some fire concealed in his garment, for he digs a trench all around it to hold water. Then he tells them to bring four barrels of water, and empties them over his sacrifice. Four more barrels are brought and thrown on the bullock, making eight, and then four barrels more are added, making twelve in all. Then, there lies that bullock, dripping with water; and Elijah comes forward. Every ear and eye is open. Those bleeding Baalites look at him. Whsit is going to be the end of it? He comes forward, calm as a summer evening. He prays to the God of Isaac and Abraham—when, bohold, look! look! down it comes—fire from the very throne of God, and consumes the wood and the stones and the sacrifice, and the people cry, " The Lord is the God!" The question is decided. The God that answereth by fire is the God of man. My friends, who is your God now? The God who answers prayer? or have you no God?
I can imagine some of you saying: "If I had been on Mount Carmel and se»n that, I would have believed it." But 1 will tell you of amount on which occurred another scene. That was a wonderful scene; but it does not compare with the scene on Calvary. Look there! God's own beloved Son hanging between two thieves, and crying; "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Talk about wonderful things. This has been the wonder of ages. A man once gave me a book of wonderful things. I saw a good many wonders in it; but I did not see anvthiug so wonderful in it as the story of the cross. My friends, see his expiring look. See what happened. The very rocks were rent, and the walls of the temple were rent; and all nature owned its God. The sun veiled its face and darkness fell over the earth, when the Son of man expired on Mount Calvary. Where can you find a more wonderful sight than this? Those Israelites lived on the other side of the cross; we live on this side of it. If a man wants proof of his gospel, look around this assembly. See men who thirty days ago were slaves, bound hand and foot to some hellish passion which was drawing them to hell. What a transformation there is. All things seem changed to them. They have got a new nature. "Is not this the power of God?" said a young convert to me to-day; "It seems as if we were living in the days of miracles, and the Son of God is coming down and giving men complete victory over lusts and passions." That is what the Son of God does for men; and yet, with all the proofs before their eyes, men are undecided.
What is it that keeps you from your decision? I wish I had time to tell you many of the reasons. Hundreds of thousands of men are thoroughly convinced; but they lack moral courage to come out and confess their sins. Others are being led captive by some sin. They have got some darling sin, and as long as they hold on to it there is no hope. A man the other day said he would like to become a Christian, but he had a bet upon the election, and he wanted that settled first. He did not think that he might die before that was decided. Eternity is drawing on. Suppose we die without God, without hope, without everlasting life, it seems to me it would have been better never to have been born. My friends I ask you to-night, why not come out like men? Say, "Cost what it will, I will accept Jesus to-night." Now have moral courage. Come. How many of you are thoroughly convinced in your minds that you ought to be Christians to-night? Now just ask yourselves the question: "What hinders me, what stands in my way?" I can imagine some of you looking behind you, to see how the one sitting there looks. If he seems serious, you look serious; if he laughs, you will laugh, and come to the conclusion that you will not accept him to-night. You think of your companions, and you say you cannot stand their jeers. Is not that so? Come. Trample the world under your feet and take the Lord to-night, cost what it will. Say, "By the grace of God, I will serve him from this hour." Turn your backs upon hell, and set your faces toward heaven; and it will be the best night of your lives. Have you ever seen a man who accepted Christ regret it? You cannot find a man who has changed masters and gone over to Christ who has regretted it. This is one of the strongest proofs of Christianity. Those who have never followed him only regret it. I have seen hundreds dying, when in the army and when a missionary, and I never saw a man who died conscious but who regretted that he had not lived a Christian life. My friends, if you accept him to-night, it will be the best hour of your life. Let this night be the best night of your lives. Let me bring this to your mind. If you are lost, it will be because you do not decide. "How long halt ye between two opinions. If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." How many men in this assembly want to be on the Lord's side? Those who want to take their stand on the side of the true God, rise.
Upon this request by Mr. Moody, nearly 2,000 men instantly arose.