"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." 1 Coriktuiavb 13: 1.
You will find the text in the 1st verse of the chapter I read this evening—1st Corinthians, 13th chapter: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." You, I have no doubt, wondered how it is that you have not met with more success. I think if I have asked myself this question once, 1 have a thousand times: "Why is it that I have not had greater success?" But I never read this chapter without finding it out. It is a chapter that every Christian ought to read at least onoe a week, I think, with a great deal of profit. A man may be a preacher and have all the eloquence of a Demosthenes—he may be the greatest pulpit orator that ever lived; but if love is not the motive power, "it is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." A good many churches have eloquent ministers. The people go there, and listen critically and closely; but there are no converts. They have wondered why? The cause has been the lack of love. If a minister has not got love deep in his heart, you may as well put a boy in the pulpit and make him beat a big drum. His talking is like the "sounding of brass."
Failures to make converts in those churches are common; and the reason so many preachers have failed is, because love has not been
the motive power. The prophet may understand prophecy, and interpret it in such a clear way as to astonish you. I have met men and sat down beside them, and they would dig out the most wonderful truths out of prophecy, which I could not see. I have sat at their feet and wondered at their power in this respect, and wondered also why it was that they were not blessed with more converts. I have sought the cause, and invariably found it was want of love. A man, though he is deep in learning and in theology, if he has no love in his heart he will do no good. A man may understand all the mysteries of life, may be wonderful in seeking out truths, yet may not be blessed by winning men. Paul says that though a man understand all mysteries, if he have no love his understanding goes for nothing; and he goes a step further and says that a man may give large sums to feed the poor, but if love does not accompany the gift it goes for naught in the sight of God. The only fruit on the tree of life worth the having is love. Love must be the motive power. A man may give his thousands to the poor and get the gift written about in the paper, where you will see that he is a good philanthropic man; yet if love does not prompt the deed, it goes for nothing in God's sighti Many a man here is very liberal to the poor. If you ask him for a donation to a charitable purpose, he draws hia purse and puts down $1,000; if you come to him for a subscription for this or that theological seminary, he will draw his check instantly; but God looks down into that man s heart; and if he has no love it goes for nothing. Some men would give everything they have— would give their body for what they think is a good cause—for some truth they've got hold of; yet there is no love in the act.
The main teaching of this chapter is, that love must be the motive power in all our actions. If our actions are merely performed out of a sense of duty, God will not accept us. I've heard this word duty in connection with Christian work till I am tired of it. I have come down to a meeting, and some one has got up and asked a brother to get up and speak. After considerable persuasion, he has got up on his feet and said: "Well, I did not intend to speak when I came down to-night; but I suppose it is my duty to say something." And it is the same with the Sunday-school; many teachers take up classes from a sense of duty. There is no love in them, and their services go for nothing. Let us strike for a higher plane—let us throw a little love into our actions; and then our services will be accepted by God, if love will be the motive power.
1 have an old mother, away down in the Connecticut mountains and I have been in the habit of going to see her every year for twenty years. Suppose I go there and say: "Mother, you were very kind to me when I was young—you were very good to me; when father died, you worked hard for us all to keep us together, and so I have come to see you because it is my duty." I went, then, only because it was my duty. Then she should say to me: "Well, my son, if you only come to see me because it is your duty, you need not come again." And that is the way with a great many of the servants of God. They work for him because it is their duty —not for love. Let us abolish this word duty, and feel that it is only a privilege to work for God; and let us try to remember that what is done merely from a sense of duty is not acceptable to God.
One night, when I had been speaking in this way in London, a minister said to me after services: "Now, Moody, you are all wrong. If you take this word duty out from its connection with your works, you will soon have all the churches and Sunday-schools empty." "Well," said I, "I will try and convince you that I am all ripht You are married?" "Yes." "Well, suppose this was your wife's birthday, and you bought a present of a book for her, and you went home and said: 'Now, ray wife, this is your birthday; I have felt it my duty to buy something for you—here's a book; take it' Would your wife not be justified in refusing it?" "Well, I think you are correct; she would be right in refusing it." That wife would want a present given her through love, not duty. What Christ wants is, that we will work for him because we love him. The first impulse of a young convert is to love; and if a young man attempts to talk to people without he has been won to Christ by love—without he has been converted by the true spirit of the Holy Ghost—his efforts fall short of their mark. If he has been touched to the heart with the love of Jesus, the first thing he does is to shout out that love, which is waiting for all hearts. Paul, in the fifth chapter of Galatians, tells you that the fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering." That is the fruit of the Spirit. He commences this line with love at the head of the list; and if love is not the motive, we have not been born of the Spirit.
Let us ask ourselves the question: "Is love the motive power that urges us to go out and work for God?" This is the first question that we ought to ask ourselves. Without it a great deal of work will go for naught. The work will be swept away like chaff without it. Christ looks down and examines our hearts and actions; and although our deeds may be great in the eyes of the world, they may not be in his eyes.
Look at that woman in Jerusalem. All the rich people were casting in their treasures to the Lord. I can aee the women and men come into the temple, some giving $100, others giving $300, and others putting in $500; and if there had been newspapers in Jerusalem in those days, there would have been notices of these contributions. It would have sounded very well in print But by and by a poor widow woman comes along and puts in a humble two mites. I can see the Lord sitting at the treasury when that woman comes with her little all, and hear him saying: "That woman hath given more than all of them." Why? Not owing to the large amount—no; but simply because it was love that prompted that woman.
The one great thing that the church lacks at the present day, and if you ask me to put it into as small space as possible I can put it into four letters—and that is, "Love." Show me a church in which the members love one another, and I will show you a church that is on fire in the cause of Christ. In it there is a revival every day for the twelve months of the year—the 365 days of the year are filled with continual manifestations of Christ's love. That is the lack to-day. There is lukewarmness—coldness one toward another. In 2d Titus Paul tells what Christians' lives should be—sound in faith, sound in love, and sound in patience. If a man is not sound in faith, we would draw his head right off; if he is not sound in faith, put him out. But let him be ever so unsound in love, he will be kept in. How many men are here in Chicago who are in churches, and who are continually picking to pieces and slandering their brothers. He is continually going about finding fault with some one; he has no love. Those who.do not love in the way stated in this chapter, ponder well its meaning. Let the question go home to every heart here to-night, "Is there any one I do not love?" If you are treasuring up in your heart any feeling of hatred toward any man or woman, God will not love you. You must be ready to forgive and love. I do not know that we could put up anything better on the platform than that motto that "God is Love;" and may it be burned into your heart. You say you love them who love you. Any black-hearted hypocrite can love those who love him. But what Christ wants to teach us is, to love them that hate us and slight us. If you can only convince men that you love them, you can influence them. That is what we want to do, in order to touch the hearts of those we come in contact with the coming month. If one of us went to a bad man and said to him, "You are the worst man in Chicago," that would not touch him; it would only harden his heart the more. We want to go to him lovingly, and show him the love that Christ offers him. When the Son of man came into the world, it was love that moved him; and we will never do any good with anybody till our own hearts are touched with that same love. If we are not loving toward others, they will not like us; and instead of trying to talk for Christ, we had better keep away. A worker must win the hearts and affections of the people before he can do any effective work.
When in London Dr. Arnott came down from Edinburgh to one of our meetings, and he told those people something—I don't think the Londoners understood him; but if they knew of farm life as I did, they would have known what he meant. He said: "When I was on my father's farm, when they wanted to teach a calf to drink, they would bring it to the pail and a man would dip his fingers into the milk and put it into the calf s mouth, drawing his hand slowly away, and before you knew it the calf was drinking itself. And so," he said, "if you want to win people to Christ, you have to go lovingly to them and lead them gradually to him. If you do not make people love you, you need not talk to them. Oh, that God may show you this truth to-night, that the great lever of the Christian is love! If a Sabbath-school teacher does not love his scholars—if he goes to them as if it was a lesson he wished to get over, it will not be long before they find it out. They will see it in his eyes, in his face, in his actions. And so, let us see to-night the necessity of having the love of God in our hearts; aud so, when we approach that drunkard or that gambler, we can win him to Christ; and so that, when you show him the gospel and tell him you want him to be saved, he will receive you with a welcome. If you go to him from a sense of duty, you will make no progress with him, but if you go to him and talk of the love of Christ, and show kindness in your actions, he will hear you.
A minister in London said to me one night: "Mr. Moody, I want you to pray for a lot of people who will be at the-meeting to-night;" and when I went there, I saw in one corner a father, mother, and four or five children. And I prayed for them. When I got home I asked the minister about that family, and he said they had been won to Jesus by a smile. He said he was passing by a house in that city one day, at the window of which a little child was standing. He liked children, and he smiled to it and bowed. This minister was in the habit of passing the house every day; and the second time he noticed the child again, and he smiled again. The next time there were several children there, and he smiled and bowed again. When he came again he saw the same children standing there, but he saw a lady standing with them. He thought it would not be right to bow to the lady, but he smiled at the children; and the lady said, when she saw him looking so pleasant, "That man must be a minister." My friends, it would be a good thing if all ministers had a smile on their faces. There are nlore men driven away from churches by sour looks than by anything else. A minister ought to have a clear conscience, and he would wear a pleasant smile. Some of you will say: "Well, Christ was melancholy, and wept over sinners." Ah, but it was love. There is such a thing as a man weeping in his love. Well, the lady said to her little ones: "I want you to follow that gentleman, for I am sure he is a minister." And when he came round again the children went after him, shadowing him through several streets, until by-and-by he turned into an Independent church. The children followed him right in and they brought home a good report. They said they never had heard such a preacher, although probably they did not understand a word he said. But you know a little pat on the head and a kindly look goes a long way with children. Well, the result was that the mother came and she brought the father. They became converted, and thus a whole family were brought to Christ by a smile.
We want to believe that the love of Christ is the best thing we can have. If a man wants to buy a horse, he goes around till he finds the best horse for his money. You women, if you want to buy a dress, go from one store to another and search till you find the best dress. And it is the uersal law the world over. So if we can show the sinners, by love, that the religion of Jesus Christ is the best thing to have, we can win the world to us. If we can only show that we are full of love, and not full of envy and malice and bitterness, every one can be won to Christ. If the spirit of love can come upon all of us, so that we can talk to every one kindly, it will not be long before salvation shall break over us through Christ.
You go into a church that is all aglow with love, and into another where there is a lack, and mark the difference. In the latter, the people get as far away from the pulpit as possible; and mark the coldness, and see how quick they get out of the church. Their hearts we cold to one another, and they have no sympathy. But when . their hearts are all aglow, they crowd round and are genial toward one another; and "God bless the sermon," however poor the minister who preaches. The reason that we have so many poor ministers is, because we have so few praying people. Look at Joshua, while he was fighting for the Lord Moses was up on the mountain praying. So we want every one to pray for their ministers while they are fightlog for the Lord. When a man comes to me and grumbles and complains about his minister, I ask him, "Do you ever pray for your minister?" He runs away. It spikes his guns. They do not work with the minister: never think of praying for him. We want to see every man red-hot for the Savior, and he will wake up the church. If he has got his heart red-hot, sparks will kindle in the little circle, and the whole church will be ablaze. Every soul will be filled with the glory of Christ. There is not a man in all Chicago—I do not care what he is; he may be an Atheist, a Pantheist, a drunkard, or a gambler—I do not believe that a man's heart is so hard but that God can break it.
Mr, Warner, superintendent of probably one of the largest Sunday schools in the world, had a theory that he would never put a boy ont of his school for bad conduct. He argued that, if a boy misbebaved himself, it was through bad training at home; and that if he put him out of the school; no one would take care of him. Well, this theory was put to the test one day. A teacher came to him and said: "I have gotaboy in my class that must be taken out; he breaks the rules continually, he swears and uses obscene language, and I cannot do anything with him." Mr. Warner did not care about putting the hoy out, so he sent the teacher back to his class. But he came again, and said that unless the boy was taken from his class he must leave it. Well, he left, and a second teacher was appointed. The second teacher came with the same story, and met with the same reply from Mr. Warner. And he resigned. A third teacher was appointed, and he came with the same story as the others. Mr. Warner then thought he would be compelled to turn the boy out at last i in,. 11;! v a few teachers were standing about, and Mr. Warner said: "I will bring this boy up and read his name out in the school, and publicly excommunicate him." Well, a young lady came up and said to him: "I am not doing what I might for Christ; let me have the bey; I will try and save him." But Mr. Warner said: "If these young men cannot do it, you will not." But she begged to have him, and Mr. Warner consented. She was a wealthy young lady, and surrounded with all the luxuries of life. The boy went to her class, and for several Sundays he behaved himself—and broke no rule. But one Sunday he broke loose, and in reply to something she said, spat in her face. She took out her pocket-handkerchief and wiped her face, but said nothing. Well, she thought upon a plan, and she said to him, "John "—we will call him John—" John, come home with me." "No," says he, "I won't; I won't be seen on the streets with you." She was fearful of losing him altogether if he went out of the school that day, and she said to him, " Will you let me walk home with you?" "No, I won't," said he; "I won't be seen on the streets with you," Then she thought upon another plan. She thought of the "Old Curiosity Shop," and she said: "I won't be at home to-morrow or Tuesday; but if you will come round to the front door on Wednesday morning, there will be a little bundle for you." "I don't want it; you may keep your old bundle." She went home, but made the bundle up. She thought that curiosity might make him come.
Wednesday morning arrived, and he got over his mad fit; and he thought he would just like to see what was in this bundle. The little fellow knocked at the door, which was opened, and he told his story. She said, "Yes; here is the bundle." The boy opened it, and found a vest and a coat and other clothing; and a little note written by the young lady, which read something like this:
"Dear Johnnie: Ever since you have been in my class I have prayed for you every morning and evening, that you might be a good boy, and I want you to stop in my class. Do not leave me."
The next morning, before she was up, the servant came to herand said there was a little boy below who wished to see her. She dressed hastily, and went down stairs, and found Johnnie on the sofa, weeping. She put her arms around his neck, and he said to her: "My dear teacher, I have not had any peace since I got this note from you. I want you to forgive me. Won't you pray for me to come to Jesus?" And she went down on her knees and prayed. And now Mr. Warner said, that boy was the best boy in Sunday school.
And so it was love that broke that boy's heart. May the Lord give us that love in abundance! May we be so full of love that every one may see that it only prompts us to bring them to heaven!