HELD AT FARWELL HALL, CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER l8, 19 AND 20,
1883. PREFACED BY THE TWO SERMONS PREACHED BY
MR. MOODY THE SUNDAY PREVIOUS. PROCEED-
INGS AND SERMONS REPORTED IN FULL.
MORNING SERVICE. SEPT. l6, 1883.
For the first time for many years, D. L. Moody, Chicago's own great evangelist, appeared on a pulpit platform in that city, where he grew into greatness. The mere announcement that the great evangelist was to preach at the Chicago Avenue Church was sufficient to secure the filling of that church many times over. Long before the doors of the church were open, dense crowds covered the sidewalks on the two street sides of the church.
After the opening services Mr. Moody made a few remarks relative to that particular church, before entering upon the theme of the occasion.
Moody's Church. You are all aware that this is a free church. I see some of you putting your hands in your pockets, seeing what I am coming at. A good many of my friends said to me that this church could not succeed, because it was an undenominational church; because it was not a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Presbyterian church; that no undenominational church could live. Well, it has lived now for twenty years, and, while I am no prophet, I think it will live twenty years longer. My heart has been wonderfully cheered that I have not had to raise any money this time to pay pastors' bills. Everything is paid up to the present time, and I believe the true Scriptural idea of a church is that every one should give as he is prospered from day to day and week to week. We don't ask you to give what you haven't got, but we want you to give this morning as you have been blessed in worldly store. There is one thing that should be remedied at once—the sidewalk on Chicago avenue in front of the church. I almost feared the crowd this morning would break it down, and I should like to have a stone sidewalk put there instead of the old wooden one. We need $2,000 for this, and that is not much for a congregation like this so there will be no danger of the
sidewalk breaking in and the people getting hurt. So we will devote to that purpose the collection both this morning and evening. THE MORNING SERMON.
I have, said Mr. Moody, four texts this morning. One is a question, another is an exhortation, another is a command, and the last, the fourth, is a promise.
And, first, the question: It is the first words that fell from the lips of Christ as recorded by John. Other evangelists record other words, but these are the first recorded by John, "What seek ye?" According to the commentators, John wrote the Gospel about sixty years after Christ was gone, the last New Testament book written, and he was so impressed with the interview he held with Christ that it figures in his opening sentence. It was in the afternoon on the day after John had been baptized. On seeing the Saviour in the presence of His disciples, John cried out, "Behold the Lamb of God!" And John followed Jesus, and Jesus turned to John and his accompanying disciples and said, "What seek ye?"
Now, all classes sought the Lord when He was on earth, the rich and poor, the learned and the unlearned; there was not a class to stay away; the priests and the Levites, the Pharisees and the Saducees, all classes sought Him. But they didn't all seek Him with the same motive, and therefore they didn't all get blessed alike.
Some sought Him that they might see a sign. They wanted to see Him perform a miracle They wanted to see a man lame from his birth jump up and walk, and see him leaping and praising God. That's a sight thev'd like to see. They didn't care anything about the explanation. They only wanted the excitement 01 the spectacle. Some were a little skeptical and didn't believe. But they didn't come there to believe; they didn't want to believe. And so they were constantly coming to see a sign. And one day He turned Him to them and asked them the question of the text. We can imagine that these men spread the reports of what they saw all over Palestine.
It was a great wonder, indeed, that here was one who could make bread without flour. It was a marvel, truly, that He could give them food in the desert without any preparation, the very best bread that ever they had eaten. Fresh from the hand of the Creator, of course it was good bread. They didn't care about anything else, except to say that they had seen and tasted it. Just so nowadays; some men rush to hear somebody preach to just be able to say that they have heard him. They don't care what he says, but they love to say, " Oh, yes, I have seen him and heard him." And so there was that class of men who sought Him.
And others sought Him because they thought He was going to set up a temporal kingdom, and they would be the first in authority under Him—wanted to be prime ministers and secretaries of state, and all that, monopolizing all the fat offices of the land. I have not any doubt that such was the motive that took Judas into the ranks of the Lord; he wanted high position, the fishes and loaves of worldly prominence and lordship. The same class existed then as now, and with the same motive; they followed the Lord because it promised rewards of an earthly kind, and to be His disciple would be the fashion.
Another class sought Him that they might entangle Him in His conversations, that they might accuse him before the law, and take Him out and stone Him to death. They wanted to get something against Him. They wanted to trap Him into some utterance against Caesar. They had nothing but murder in their hearts. Others sought Him because the crowd went that way, for multitudes were going into the desert to see the signs and the wonders that were wrought. Many went because others went, and if they answered truly the question, " What seek ye?" they would have answered, "I am going to see what is going on." Another class wanted to hear some new thing. They would like to hear this new doctrine. And there was another class that didn't care. They were ready to take in anything that was going on.
And another class—and I am sorry to say that is a small class— sought Him for what He was. And let me say right here that no man or woman was ever disappointed. Christ is all, and more than we make Him to be. Men grow smaller and smaller, but don't grow larger and larger. No man ever made too much of Christ Jesus. Some people have a very small Savior, and are continually venturing into sin. Why? Because they do not know the power of that Savior, have no intimate acquaintance with Christ, don't know much about Him. But when he is the great and mighty Savior, and recognized in the soul as such, then a man's path is safe.
And now let me look into this audience this morning and let me ask the question, What seek ye? and answer me truly. The text is not changed. It is the same to-day as when Christ uttered it, and is man changed? Not one bit. I think if this audience could be sifted and you could get at the reasons that brought people together this morning you would find much similarity to the old reasons. Hundreds of men and women came here this morning who did not come to learn. It is the hardest thing in the world to reach such. I believe hundreds and thousands of people go to church Sabbath after Sabbath, and go away without one thought of duty upon them, just as untouched as for the last twenty years. They did not come to the house of God to meet God, they do not bring their souls into contact with the grace of Christ.
Now all are seeking for something, and let the question come, What seek ye? Come, friends, ask ^he question of yourselves What was your motive in coming here this morning? Did some come for information? "I just came," you say, "to see what was going on. I was going down street this morning and saw the great crowd and thought I would just cone in and hear what was going on." You have just dropped in. Well, glad you are here, and if you haven't come with the best motive I hope God will meet you.
Another, perhaps, has come in order to please his mother. "She has been very anxious," you say, "that I should come out to meeting, and I thought it would please her." Well, I am glad you have come, even if you didn't come with a better motive than that.
On my last visit to London I was preaching in Agricultural Hall when a man dropped in out of the rain, and he staid till he found the Savior. Well, I was reminded of Sir Rowland Hill, who said that he had heard of people making a cloak out of religion, but this man made an umbrella out of it. [Laughter.] Another time a man dropped in who said he hadn't been in a church before for years. This was in Philadelphia where I was speaking one Tuesday night. He was a bricklayer, a great strapping six-footer, a hard-drinking man, and very profane. Well, somebody had told him it was a remarkable sight to see 11,000 empty chairs on one floor, and he thought he would like to see them. Didn't care for the Gospel, but wanted to see the empty tabernacle and those chairs. Low motive, wasn't it? So, early in the evening he came up, and as soon as the sexton unlocked the door he popped in ahead of everybody, and ran up the aisle to see the empty chairs from the foreground. He said: "What do so many fools rush in here for?" But he stayed, and the divine word and Holy Spirit began to tell on him, and he has adorned the doctrine of God his Savior ever since. That's the kind of people to preach to. They are open to God's truth. I would rather preach to that kind than those who become hardened under pulpit ministrations. Those are the hardest to reach.
If you have heard the word unmoved and disobedient, I don't think there is much chance for you. God in His mercy may save you, but there is not much hope for you. However, come ahead; even if like that bricklayer you haven't come with the best of motives. Our God is a great God, and He is able to bless everv one, and he knows our needs better than any one. So let us pray God that every one may seek His face and find Him precious.
The next text tells us to "Seek the Lord while He may be found." Now notice how it reads: "Seek the Lord while He may be found." It does not say seek happiness, seek peace, seek jov. And yet a good many people are only seeking these; seeking peace, seeking joy, seeking happiness. I cannot see any place in the Bible where we are told to seek for peace, for happiness, for joy. If we seek after the virtue, we will have all those things following. If we have the spirit we will have the fruit. We cannot get an apple without we have the tree. We cannot have an orange without we have an orange tree. Set a good tree and you will have good fruit. Therefore, what is wanted is to seek the Lord Himself. If we get the Lord we will have peace, joy, rest. We cannot have them without Christ. Christ Himself comes with them; brings them to us. He is the author and bearer of them. If we want peace, therefore, and joy and happiness, and rest, we must seek Him.
Call upon him while he is near.
I remember, when I was a boy, a little fellow, smaller than this boy here, I would try—you may think I was a foolish fellow—I would try to catch my shadow. But many a time I have tried to tread on my shadow, but I never caught my shadow. I would run after it a good many times, but never caught up with it. But once, running toward the sun, I saw my shadow coming after me; and one of the sweetest lessons I have learned in the school of righteousness is, and was, that the fruit comes after our seeking the Lord. Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. Seek Him and we have all the hope, the peace, the rest, and happiness that we desire. Now, dear friends, if we seek these things instead of seeking Christ, we shall be disappointed.
Do you think the Lord can be found in this house before twelve o'clock? Can a man who has been living in sin up to this hour, who has never sought the Lord until this hour, do you believe that such a man can see Him within this house, before twelve o'clock? Yes! I believe it, just as much as I believe in anything. If there is any man who cannot find Him, I believe it is because he does nothing to find Him; and the reason that so few people find the Lord is becaus j they do not seek Him in their heart. They cannot find Him in the head. The seeking after the Lord is the work of revelation, and revelation comes to the heart and not to the head of man. When people seek God from the heart they find Him. \V hen I said to another man that I could tell him when he would be converted, he answered: "Mr. Moody, I did not know that you claimed to be a
?rophet." I said that I was not a prophet, nor my father before me. f men will be earnest in their souls they need not go out of the house to find Him.
His salvation is within the reach of every soul here if he will wake up as the man did on the day of Pentecost. The cry was, "What must we do?" And when He told them, they went and bowed themselves down. And if you are wilhng to do what God wants you to do, and seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. Once, at one of my meetings, a man was leaning upon a post with both his hands in his pockets. "Are you a Christian, friend?" I asked. He said, " No!" "Would you like to be one?" "I have no objection," he replied. Now, I don't think that man is fit to be saved with that kind of a spirit, and I do not believe that any man will ever step into the kingdom of God in that condition of mind. If people were as anxious about their eternal welfare as they are about their temporal welfare, there would be no trouble to men and women getting into the kingdom of God by hundreds.
People are so earnestly bent on their temporal affairs, so diligent and self-sacrificing in piling up earthly riches, that they have softening of the brain, so much are they troubled in reference to that which perisheth. They are terribly in earnest about these things which are earthly and which perish. Shall we not be in earnest about the things eternal? It is no time to seek God when the house begins to fall, when the walls are coming down, when we are tortured on the bed of sickness. It is no time then to seek eternal riches. It is this beautiful Sabbath morning, this very hour, that we should call upon Him while He is near.
Is He near? That is the question of many. If any man or woman thinks He is far away, let them remember that He said that when only " two of you are together, I am with you." Is He not still merciful? Is He not still gracious? Does He not still want to lift up the world? Does He not wish to place you on the heights above? Did God not show His love for us when He sent His only begotten Son down into this world for our salvation, when He left the throne and came down into this dark world, and passed by the columns of the palace and went to the manger? Was he not in earnest? And, dear friends, if God was in earnest when He came among us to die on the cross, shall we not be in earnest? Is it not time to turn toward Him—to seek the Lord when He may be called?
The text shows that the time has come. There are many that have called when it was too late.
Now take the third section of my text, and that is a command: "Seek first the. kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Now, if that means what it says, and I have no doubt it does, it means to seek the kingdom of God before you go out of this house this morning. It means you are to seek Him before you go home—before you take another step. There is not a thing that you can put between your salvation and your soul—no solitary thing. No man or woman in this place ought to think of waiting for a moment. You know that all of God's blessings have come that way. Take the life of Christ while He was here, and its one teaching is, be obedient.
Every solitary one who did what he thought he ought to do was Hessed. Take blind Bartimeus who was commanded to go his way, and he went and was blessed in the very act of going. To another this blessed Lord said, "Go home and tell your friends what great things the Lord has done." He started home and he was blessed on the way. He said to the ten lepers, "Go show yourselves to the priests!" These men might have said, "We show ourselves to the priests! Why they have banished us to the desert, sent us outside the walls of the city, crying 'Unclean! unclean!'" But the ten obeyed, and what was the result? They were healed in the very act of obedience. I would like to have seen those ten men who were healed, as their wholeness dawned upon them. "Why, look here, John, I am whole; I feel as if I could leap over a stone wall." And another says, " So am I," and the whole ten find that they are whole, and walk and leap and praise God.
And you remember the paralytic to whom the word came, " Take up thy bed and walk." He did not withhold obedience one second, and God gave him power to fulfill the word. So you can always take God at his word, and in obedience to your salvation. What he has commanded He will give you ability to perform. Obedience, that is the first and great thing. No other question will compare with that of our immortal destiny.
I can imagine the commotion there would be in this audience this morning if a whisper should go through the congregation, " Solomon is here." How all eyes would turn to yonder door in wondering expectancy. And if he should walk to the platform, how hushed you would be. I can imagine you would look up to him in reverence and love. I can imagine his saying to you, " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no knowledge in the grave whither thou goest." Do what thou hast to do with all thy might. My friends—is there any other question of importance to compare with this question of eternal life?
To buy and sell, to get gain, and live a little longer in Chicago —is that so important as this question of eternal life? Suppose you had rolled up the wealth of Croesus, and had not eternal life; suppose you should live many years longer without eternal life; is there anything in this life compared with the life beyond?
And I imagine another speaker coming in. He is the old prophet of Carmel, the Tishbite. Wouldn't you like to hear Elijah? He has got a strange coat on, all camel's hair, walks like a giant. You say, " I would like to hear Elijah." You would want me to urop down into a seat pretty quick, and let the old prophet speak. And what does he say ?" How long halt ye between two opinions? If God be God, then serve Him; if Baal, then follow him."
He called to a nation that was in need of decision. That is what Chicago wants to-day; for you serve either God or the devil. You cannot serve both. Oh, I believe the curse of the day—the present day—is this worldliness that has come into the church. People try to serve both God and mammon. They are trying it in Chicago. But no man can serve God that way. No. He must have the whole heart. He won't accept of any other service. My friends, it is decision we want. It is not more sermons, not more light, but to obey the light we have. I have come this morning in the hope that I may call you to decide what you will do. I spoke to you of Solomon and Elijah.
I will speak to you of another person you would like to hear. You would like to hear Paul, and I can imagine your saying to yourselves: "Yes; wouldn't I like to hear him. I would walk a hundred miles to hear Paul." If there is any man who is my ideal of a preacher, Paul is that man. Well, suppose him here. What does he say? Behold, to-morrow is the day of salvation? "Behold, now is the day of salvation. Behold, now is the accepted time."
This day, this hour, this moment! I have no right to speak to you about to-morrow. Only three weeks ago I talked long and earnestly with a dear friend, and he has just been followed to his grave; and this morning and last night, at midnight, I thought of different texts; and different subjects came up to me that might stir the church of God; and it seemed to me that I heard it said—so impressed was it on my mind—that there might be some one in the congregation who would never hear a Gospel sermon again. There may be some one here, and he may never hear my voice again; and so I took for my text this matter in hope that there might be some who would hear my voice this morning, and, hearing it, would heed.
Oh! I beseech of you, my friends, don't spurn the gift of God. If I could only picture eternal life, I would have one sermon, and would go to heathen nations and take an interpreter, and just tell it out. But I cannot do it. I have tried many times to describe what it is, but somehow or other it seems that my tongue is tied. If I could but picture what eternal life is, we should see a greit rush into the kingdom of God this morning. We would flock into the kingdom by hundreds and thousands, if only we coul 1 see what it is; if we could only grasp this tremendous thing—the eternal life of the soul. What is life here? The world is filled with sorrow; filled with disappointment. As I look over the audience I see on every side the emblems of mourning over the victories of the grave; no circle but what has been broken; no fireside without the vacant chair. Before us all dawns the opening grave. In a little while we must lie down in its darkness.
But think of the life where there is no care;, where the natural strength never becomes abated; the eye never grows dim; wiiere the pulse is always firm; a city that has no cemetery; where death ..ever comes; where sin never enters—for all that is sweet and pnre and lovely is in its native clime.- There we should be in the presence of our dear Lord, and our bodies would be fashioned like unto His own glorious body, and we shall be with Him for ever and for ever. Blessed eternal life!
What is here but banishment compared to such eternal life? To go on the Board of Trade and make a lew, thousand dollars; what is that? To live a few years; what is that? Nothing at all to be mentioned with the life of the redeemed souls stretching in happiness on and on and on, beyond the grave.
And this is my charge: "The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life." Will you, my friends, have it this morning? Man! will you take it? Come, my friends, will you not tell me you are stretching out for it with every sinew of your soul; and will you not now embrace it to your hearts? Oh! if you will take my advice, you will not go out of this house this morning until you have eternal life.
The last text: That is the promise. The Scripture says: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;" for the Scripture says, " Whosoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed."
Now, dear friends, there is the promise—that if we shall confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus and believe on Him, thou shalt not be ashamed.
I believe that a great many are kept out of the kingdom of God because they are ashamed to confess. If they could get into the kingdom of God without the cross, they would be very glad to get in. If they could get into the kingdom of God without confessing, they would be willing to go in. But this taking up of the cross, this self-denial, this it is that keeps thousands out from the kingdom of God. Why is it that Mohammed has got so many more disciples than Christ, many ask me. It is because his follower does not have to deny himself of the lusts of the flesh like the follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that the fear of the cross is keeping hundreds and thousands out of the kingdom of God. But if you want to meet Christ you must meet Him at the cross; and if you want Christ this morning you must take up the cross. What is the cross, I would know. It is different things to different persons.
I remember when last in Edinburgh a business man came to our meeting. He had made up his mind that he ought to live right, and that he ought to have a family altar. And as he hurried his wife and children up the next morning his wife said, " George, what's your hurry?" And he went into the parlor and said: " I have a confession to make this morning, and I want to have you forgive me. You have never heard me say any words in prayer. I am going to commence this morning. I want you and I want my children to help me." And then he got down and confessed his soul as well as he could. That was the way he took up the cross; and I do not know of a man who was ever more blessed with God than that man. He met God at the cross. Make up your mind that He tells you that to-day is the time; that He tells you to call upon Him now. Will you respond to His call? Will you give yourselves henceforth and forever to Him?
Once, I remember, a lady came into the meeting I was at, and she came in like many others, just out of idle curiosity. She and her father, her brother and her sister had been making a good deal of sport of the meetings; but she thought she would go in. There was not anything in the sermon that seemed to touch ber; but there was a lady at her side, and when the meeting was over this lady spoke to her kindly, gently, in winning accents. The lady threw up her head haughtily, and said, "I don't like such kind of preaching." But the other lady asked her to come again, and she came again, and this Christian woman soon won her affection. She came to see this lady, and promised to have a little talk with her, and came back again and again.
But what kept her from the kingdom of God for about a week was that she had to confess before her brother, her father and her sister. She knew what bitter opposition there would be from them. But, she said, if the Lord would take the burden she would take the cross. She went home and told her father that she had made up her mind to become a Christian. The opposition became very bitter. "Now, won't you tell us what you have got there?" they asked her. She answered: "In the first place I have got self-control." And she says: "You know, sister, if you had said half the many unkind things you have said to me since I have been converie ! before I had been converted, I should have answered back. Then I have got peace, too—peace with God, and peace with all around." The sister broke into a flood of tears and exclaimed, "I have not got them." "Go with me to the meeting," the other answered. They both went and became firm friends of Jesus. But the father was firm in his convictions. He said he would never be known to be at such meetings. He was ashamed of people going to such places. But the sisters worked along together, and finally they told their brother that Mr. Black, of the University, would speak that night. The young man turned pale and said: "There must be something in it; I will go to-night; and that friend led him into the kingdom of God; and he had only been a Christian six weeks when he died, and he called his father and said: "Was it not a good thing that
Black got up and spoke? Was it not a good thing that I became a Christian?"
Oh! dear friends, you may be spending your last summer, your last winter on earth. Take the cross. Take it up, and thou shalt be confessed to the Lord Jesus. Oh! that you may be saved; that you may be blessed just now. Let us unite in prayer. EVENING SERVICE.
At the evening services the congregation was fully as large as that in the morning, and there was visible on the vast sea of faces upturned to the earnest speaker on the platform an expression of deep interest and emotion. Occasionally as the voice of the evangelist pealed out the promises of God to those who love Him, and tl ie punishment to be meted out to the wicked, here and there a handkerchief was raised, or a low sob broke upon the ear.
The services were opened with an offering of prayer and song, after which Mr. Moody announced as the text of
Mark xii., 34: "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
In this chapter, he said, I suppose the Saducees and Pharisees both had met to attack Christ; at least they had come asking Him questions in hopes that they might entangle Him, and get Him to say something that would give them occasion to stone Him to death. After He had silenced them, and they could ask him no more questions, a lawyer asked Him which was the greatest commandment of all. He answered Him, and the lawyer was obliged to say that He had answered well, and Christ made this remark to the young lawyer: "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." ' I am afraid if Christ bad not made that remark we would have put Him down as a caviler; that He had come in the same spirit that the Saducees and Pharisees had come; but Christ was a prophet; He could read this man's heart; He could see that this man could tell the difference between the external and the internal; that it was not just a matter of form with him; that he knew that the law of God was pure, and that he knew the spiritual meaning of the doctrines that Christ had come to teach. Now, there was no class of people that thought they were so near to the kingdom of God as the Pharisees did; and there was no class of people that were so far from the kingdom of God as these very men. They were the most difficult class of people to teach, and it is so to-day. You can reach the abandoned a great deal better and easier than you can reach the elder brothers and the Pharisees.
Now, suppose that we had been in the temple when the Pharisee and the publican went up to worship, we would have put the Pharisee down as a noble man, already in the kingdom of God, or, if not, very near it; and we would have said that the publican was a good way from it. But God can see more than we can see; the Pharisee was near the kingdom of God, but the publican passed right by and went in. In another place Christ said to the Pharisees, " The publican and harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you." Why? Because they repented and turned from their sins. The kingdom of God is wide open; the door is wide open to any man that is willing to repent of his sins and turn to God, but the man that is drawing around him the rags of self-righteousness, and thinks that he is better than other people, is a good way from the kingdom of God.
The object of the text and of the sermon to-night is to call your attention to a class of people—I think it is a large class—that come very near the kingdom of God, and yet miss it. I think you will find the world is full of that class of men—that is, their representatives. Cases have been recorded, and I think it may be a warning to us. I never noticed until lately how Herod, who took the life of John the Baptist, was once very near the kingdom of God. If a man had said to me a year ago, or two years ago, "Did you ever think, Mr. Moody, that Herod came near the kingdom of God?" I should have said, "No, I do not think he ever came near it." But there was one passage of Scripture that I had overlooked. Let me read it. It is the sixth chapter of Mark, verse 20: "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man, and heard him gladlv*
Now that snows that Herod was brought under the influence of John's preaching. I can imagine when John was preaching there in the wilderness there was a great crowd standing upon the banks of the Jordan, listening to that wonderful man—one of the most wonderful preachers, perhaps, that this world has ever had or ever will have. Most any man can get a crowd in a city, where people throng and are numerous; but it is quite a different thing to get people together offin the desert to hear a man preach. Here was a man coming into the wilderness of Judea without reputation, without fame, without a long title to his name—just a mere voice crying on the banks of the Jordan, and that mighty audience flocked by thousands to hear him. I can imagine, as he stands there preaching the glorious gospel of the kingdom of God, that many who had been looking into the future, trying to catch a glimpse of the coming one, must have been thrilled as he stood there proclaiming the glad tidings; and while he was preaching in that way I can imagine there was a great commotion in the congregation, and, perhaps, if Herod once in a while had heard him—the idea that Herod should go to hear a street preacher—that he should leave the palace and go to the banks of the Jordan to hear this man!
Every eye was upon him. Every once in a while you would see
them looking around to see how Herod took it; and I can imagine they perhaps saw a tear in his eye, because it says he heard him gladly, and not only heard him but he done many things, and if you had gone into Herod's court in those days you would have heard him talking of John the Baptist. I will venture to say there 'was not hardly one who w'ould talk about John the Baptist but who would be told: "You want to go down and hear that man preach; I never heard a man preach like him; his words come right straight from the heart; I never heard a man talk like him; I never had a man talk to me the way that man did. I have stopped swearing; I used to swear, and I haven't sworn since I heard him preach; in fact I have done a good many things that I would not have done if I hadn't heard him preach; he is just the preacher I like; he talks right at me, and he tells me my faults. He was brought under conviction, and under deep conviction, because when you see a man breaking off this sin and that sin you may know that they have been touched by the spirit of God. And this was Herod; the spirit of God was moving upon his heart; but, alas! Herod made a compromise; he wanted to be a disciple, and yet he didn't want to give up all sin. I believe there are a great many men to-day in the same position that Herod was. I believe Chicago is full of men that have been or are to-night near the kingdom of God: but, alas! they are going to miss the kingdom, because they are not willing to give up all sin; they want to make a compromise. There are many different sins; perhaps he was in the habit of taking bribes up to that time, and he had got to the point where he would not take any bribes. It may be he was in the habit of getting under the influence of liquor and got drunk now and then. He savs: "I must stop drinking so much; I must break off many things;" and he was a hopeful subject.
I can imagine after John had preached one day, and then had seen Herod brought under the influence of his preaching, it might have been reported to John, "Well, I do think Herod will be among the inquirers to-morrow when you get through pleading; I think he has almost got to the point, and is just coming to see you after you break up," because John did heal inquirers, you know. Soldiers asked him what they should do; civilians asked him what they should do; publicans, they addressed words to him, and wanted to know what they should do, and undoubtedly many of the disciples thought that Herod would soon be among the inquirers; that he would soon be pressing up to the front to ask John what he must do that he might inherit eternal life. Alas, Herod came near the kingdom of God, but he missed it, and is was not long before he became worse than ever
Now, I hear people bring this charge against special meetings. They say they make some people worse; well, there is no doubt about that, but any one that knows anything about the teaching of that book would not talk in that way. The Gospel will be, perhaps, a savor of life unto life, or death unto death. It is the Gospel that softens some hearts, and hardens others. The same sun that strikes upon the ice in one moment, strikes upon the clay and hardens it and the hardening process or the softening process is going on here to-night. Men do not remain the same. You are not the same you were ten years or five years ago. Sermons that would have impressed you five years ago make no impression upon you now. The sermon that would have brought tears to your eyes five years ago would make no impression upon you now. because the hardening process has been going on in that time; men do not remain as they were; men do not stand still; we are going on either for better or for worse. If some one had said to Herod after he was brought under the influence of Johns preaching, "Herod, do you know you are going to take the life of that good man? Do you know you are going to have John beheaded, and do you know you will do it in a few months?" He would have said, "Am I a dog that I should do such a thing? That man with the voice he has? I never heard such a voice; I would rather hear him preach than any man I ever heard in my life. Silence him? I silence him? Never!" Alas! a few months after that and Herod was seven times more a child of hell than ever, and it was Herod that silenced the voice of one of the best preachers this world has ever known; a man of whom it could safely have been said, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
Now let us notice the mistake Herod made; it was that he didn't make clean work of it. No man can get into the kingdom of God that does not make a complete surrender; it is an unconditional surrender that it needed; it is not ninety-nine sins out of a hundred, but it is every one. If a man does not make clean work he cannot get into the kingdom of God. Now there are a good many men want to be saved, but they do not want to give up all their sins. There are some secret sins. I used to think men had intellectual difficulties; there were so many mysteries in the Bible that men would not give their hearts to God, but I have got over that. There is no trouble about getting into the kingdom of God when you are read)' to part with sin. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his faults and go to God and be abundantly pardoned. But Herod had a secret sin, his life was not right, but at last John pointed out that sin. Thank God for such preachers. I will tell you, what we want to-day is men who will go into the pulpit and tell you what your sin is. It is not these men who will say "Peace, peace, peace," when there is no peace; it is not these men who will come with oily words and a silvery tongue, men who believe all is right in sin because it is all wrong. The day of retribution is coming. God has got a controversy with sin and is going to punish sin, and if we do not warn men of their sins, why we are not faithful. I am so thankful that John was true, and told Herod that he could not go on sinning; he pointed out his sins. He saw Herod's difficulty; he knew what was keeping him from God; he was living in adultery, and, my friends, I believe the day has come when ministers have got to speak out against this course of sin.
I firmly beheve more men and women are kept out of the kingdom on account of adultery to-day than strong drink. A man when he gets drunk goes rolling through the streets and publishes it, and every one finds it out; but this sin is covered up, and it is a delicate thing, and ministers do not like to speak about it on account of the young in the congregation; but the time has come when we have got to speak out, "No adulterer shall enter into the kingdom! No adulterer shall enter into the kingdom of God!" Do you-believe it? Do you believe it? Well, if you do, then, dear friends, break with sin, and if that is your besetting sin, may God help you tonight to make clean work of it, and do just as Lot did, flee out of Sodom, turn your back upon it, and cry, "God have mercy upon me. Oh! God, forgive me." I don't know of a quicker way down to death and hell than the way of the harlot, and it is a sin some people seem t.i make light of; they do not seem to realize it is going to destroy their soul and their body as it did poor Herod's. Yes, he liked John's preaching; he liked his style, he liked his manner,he liked the truth, but, alas, he did not like it enough to bring him out from his sin.
Now', it may be I am speaking to-night to some man or some woman that has been kept out of the kingdom of God on account of this curse of sin. May God deliver you to-night. May that person cry from the depth of his soul, "Oh, my God, have mercy; my God deliver me," and from this night let the cry go up, "Oh, my God, help me; God forgive me;" or your fate will be like that of Herod's.
Ages have passed and Herod—how black his name is! What a bitter end was his! Do you remember after he beheaded John that Jesus came preaching and the news spread through the country, "The crowds are flocking to hear this Galilean." I suppose it was Herod's conscience which rose up. Herod whispered. "It is John risen from the dead." It was his conscience. "John risen from the dead; what will become of me? This man that I have slain to gratify the woman that led me astray; he is living again;" it was' his conscience that was troubling him.
But let me pass on, because there are many things 1 want to call your attention to here to-night. I want to bring to your mind some other Bible characters, and bring home to you your sins in order that you will see yourselves, because that is the object of these Bible characters; it is that we may see ourselves. I believe Pilate was as other men that came near the kingdom of God. He was different from Herod, but he represents another class. I believe that the day Christ was before Pilate was Pilate's golden opportunity; it was Pilate's chance. Every man has his chance, and when Pilate met Christ first, you will remember he was prejudiced against Him; he didn't believe in Him. He believed He was in the wrong, but when he came to talk with Him, he found that he was mistaken, and after making a close examination he came out and said to the Jews, "I find no fault with this man."
He would have been glad to have found some fault in His character; he would have been glad to have found some fault with Him, but after making a thorough examination, this was his testimonv: "I find no fault in Him; I will chastise Him and let Him go." What is he going to chastise an innocent man for? Nor do you know the weakness of Pilate's character. Do you know Pilate wanted to be popular? That is all. He wanted to be on the popular side. There is a good many men kept out of the kingdom of God because they haven't got the moral courage to act up to their convictions; they are not far from the kingdom; almost in,but they haven't got the moral courage to "do right and let the heavens fall," if they will; do right because it is right. And when Pilate found out He was an innocent character, he ought to have taken his stand and immortalized himself. His name would have be«n associated with Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus; his name would have been associated with the twelve apostles; his name would have come down through the ages, and shone brighter and brighter as the ages passed away. He would have become immortal if he had only acted up to his conviction; but, alas, he wanted to release Christ and he wanted the applause of the world; he wanted the favor of the Jews; he wanted to hold office a little while longer; poor, vacillating character, and vet how many men there are in this congregation to-night in exactly the condition of Pilate.
You know very well you ought to be a Christian. You know your mother is as godly as the very God you do not serve; vou know your early training was true; that it is not now a myth; that it is not now a fiction; but you come up here to Chicago; you have left a praying mother; you have left a praying circle at home, and you have got in perhaps with some skeptic, perhaps with some men who cavil at the Bible because thev are living in sin and they want to destroy the Bible in order that they may quiet their conscience;
you know very well if you come out, these very men will begin to laugh at you; they will begin to point the ringer of scorn at you and say, "So you are a Christian, are you? You have become pious; you was up to hear that man preach the other night, was you?" "Yes," and yet you have not got the moral courage to stand up like a man and sav; "Yes, I have made up my mind 1 will be a different man." I believe more men are lost because they haven't got the moral courage to say "no" at the right time than for any other reason.
When I was in Edinburgh last winter I heard a good thing. A young man left a praying home and went up to Edinburgh, and he had not been there but a few months before he got in with some fast young men, and one night while they were on their way to a house of shame, walking up Princes street, the great thoroughfare of Edinburgh, the nine o'clock bell struck, and the young man said: "This is the hour my father is taking down the Bible to have family worship; this will be the hour my father will be praying for me," and he came to a halt and said: "Young men, I cannot go with you." "Why not?" "Well, I cannot go with you; I can't go there." Then they began to laugh at him. He says: "You may laugh, but I can't go with you." He turned round; he went to his room and got his Bible down; he got on his knees and cried to his mother's God to have mercy upon him; he found heaven, and to day he is one of the most eminent merchants in the city of Edinburgh, while these young men went down to ruin; they were lost, but this man returned to the fold; he acted upon his conviction. That was the trouble with Pilate, he didn't act upon his convictions. That was his golden opportunity. One step would have taken him into the kingdom of God; one step then and there, and he might have faced Christ and said: "I will die rather than sign your death warrant; you never shall go to the cross; I would rather go there than send you there." It was a golden opportunity, and I say it is a golden opportunity for you to-night to take your stand on the side of Jesus Christ. It is a blessed day; the gates are standing wide open; God invites you to come. Sinners cannot get into the kingdom of God without going to the gate and leaving their sins behind them. Christ is the way, and this man received sinners. The gates of heaven would be closed against sinners, but Christ receives you and makes you meet for the kingdom of God. It is Christ that gets you into the kingdom.
Let me pass on. Here is another case, and that is Judas. I believe there are a great many hypocrites in the church to-day, and I believe that Judas, notwithstanding all he did, I cannot help but believe that many a time he was very near the kingdom of God. I believe that when he sat there on the Mount and heard that wonderful sermon that Christ preached—no man ever heard such a sermon—I cannot help but believe Judas was almost persuaded to give up his hypocrisy and press into the kingdom. I cannot help but believe when he heard him utter those parables that Tudas was almost persuaded to give up his hypocrisy.'
I believe it could have been safely said, "Judas, thou art not far from the kingdom." When he heard Him or saw Him perform those mighty miracles, when he saw the dead rising out of their graves, when he saw the lepers cleansed and those that he touched made whole, I cannot help but believe that during those three years Judas was almost persuaded to be a real disciple. And I believe there are a good many hypocrites who come to the churches who are almost persuaded to give up their shams and hypocrisy and to come out and be real. And that is what God wants us to do. May God help you to do it to-night. May God grant that this mask may be torn away, and that they may not profess to possess what they do not possess.
It may be that Judas stood near enough to Christ to touch Him when He wept over Jerusalem; and was not his heart touched then? As He came up Mount Olivet to see the city He loved, they were waving palm branches in front of Him, and taking ofF their garments and casting them in front of Him to do Him homage, but He seemed to forget it all. As He came up that Mount He saw the city His heart loved, and He saw Gethsemane, where He was to sweat drops of blood, but He seemed to forget it all in a few moments. He just wept over the city and said: "Jerusalem! Thou that stonest the rophets; how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth er brood under her wings, but ye would not." Judas saw those tears trickling down the cheeks of the Savior, and do you tell me he was not then and there almost persuaded—that he was not then almost persuaded? There was the King, and he was iiyvited into the kingdom; but, alas! he missed it. And is not that the thing that makes eternity terrible to Judas? I believe it is far worse for him than if he had never heard of the kingdom. It is far worse than if he had never heard the sound of the gospel.
And I pity, from the very bottom of my heart, the man or woman who has attended the faithful ministry and heard the word of God, Sabbath after Sabbath, and has turned a deaf ear to the invitation and rejected the offer of mercy and goes on and dies in their sins.
If I had made up my mind to remain out and not become a Christian, I would never hear another gospel sermon if I could help it—never! I would never allow any man to talk to me about the kingdom of God. I would never read the Bible or any religious book. I believe we will take away with us into another world all
the memories of this. You may go out of this meeting to-night and in ten minutes forget all about it; but there is a time coming when God will say;
"Son! daughter! remember!"
All these things will come back, and you will remember every sermon you ever heard. You will remember the text to-night; you will remember how this meeting was brought together this night; how these people looked on the platform, and how they sang these gospel hymns. You will remember how they sang:
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me 10 Thy bosom fly."
And you will remember the text to-night and what I am saying to you. You are not far from the kingdom; some of you were almost persuaded to take the step that would have taken you into the kingdom; but, alas! you did not take it, and it will be worse for you.
We are told many of his disciples went back, and they walked no more with Him. Sad day! They went back; and they walked no more with Him. I suppose those disciples were very near the kingdom—they were almost in the kingdom. One step more would have taken them in, and it could have been said of them:
"Thou art not far from the kingdom."
But some accursed sin, some secret sin kept them. It was going to cost them too much to take up their cross and be laughed at by men, and they went back. But do you tell me that to all eternity they do not regret that step? And is there not an army of such now-— almost disciples; almost ready to give up the world; almost in the kingdom? They get so near they look in. One more step would take them in, but, alas, like the children of Israel, when they came up to Kadesh Barnea they laid themselves down in the wilderness, when they might have gone in from Kadesh Barnea into the promised land. I believe that Felix was just in that condition when he said: "Go thy way this time, and when I have a convenient season I will call for thee." I believe he meant to call for him again. He heard the mightiest preacher that ever preached on this earth—Paul. He stood before Felix and he reasoned with him on righteousness and judgment to come; and when he got to that point of judgment to come, perhaps God opened his mind, and it swept on until that day when he should stand before the Judge of the earth and render an account of the things done in the body. Felix trembling said:
"Go thy way this time; not to-night."
Is not that the condition of many here to-night? Am I not speaking to more than 300 young men that are saying: "Wait! Not now. Wait until I go into business for myself. Wait until I am a free man, and then I will attend to this business, but not tonight." Almost like Agrippa, hut not altogether. And if you are only almost, I think it is far worse to be almost, and not altogether persuaded. It is a fearful thing to come near the kingdom and miss it.
And now let me ask you a question. Begin here and let the question sweep right up through the gallery, and go to every one in yonder gallery. Has there not been some one time in your life —let your mind travel back into the past— can you not call to mind some one night, or some one hour when you were near the kingdom? The word of God came to your soul with power. It might, perhaps, have been the midnight hour, when you were called to stand by the bedside of some loved member of your familv, who was just leaving you. They were launching their frail bark out on the ocean of eternity, and they said:
, "Now. I want you to promise me that you will meet me in the kingdom of God."
And the powers of the unseen world seemed to-lay hold of you that night, and after they were gone you saw them silent in the arms of death. You went to your room and you said:
"Yes, I must settle this question. I must be a Christian."
Have you never passed through that scene? Have you never passed that station? Come, say, friends, to-night. Just ask yourself that question. Have vou not been in a state of mind of that kind?
Or it may be that the spirit of God came in the time of a great revival in the denomination to which your family belonged; that your mother was a member of; and vour Christian friends gathered about you and pleaded with you, with tears in their eyes, to become a Christian. That loved mother could not sleep nights, and she spent her days in fasting, and she seemed to travail again over you. She went to God with you in prayer. She said to you:
"If you would only come, my boy, I will be the happiest woman in the world." Or: "O, my daughter! won't you come into the kingdom? I will be so happy if you will only say you will;" but alas! you did not say it. And now you have come to Chicago, and you have got in with free-thinkers and atheists, and you have forgotten that scene. "Thou art near the kingdom." Yes, you were near the kingdom some hour in your life. Some hour the word of God came and knocked at your ear. There was a gentle knock, and you inquired who was there, and a still, small voice whispered, "Jesus. I have come to save you and take you into My kingdom. I have come to take you into My familv and make you a joint heir with Myself." And you have been almost persuaded to say, "Yes, Jesus, I will take you; but wait a little: not to-night; not now." Perhaps five, or ten, or fifteen, or twenty years have passed and you are farther from the kingdom of God to-night than you have been before. The sermons that impressed you ten years before make no impression upon you at all now. You can laugh at death. You can go down and attend to your business and can forget everything you have ever heard about it.
I remember some time ago hearing of an eminent divine, who said it was a solemn thing to see 2,000 persons listening to a sermon on eternal things; but I will tell you something more solemn than that. It is to meet them ten minutes afterward and hear their levity. They have forgotten all about it. Is it not true that many here to-night have been very near the kingdom, but to-night you can laugh at this sermon? You can make light of this text, and you can say without any trouble: "Jesus, go; I don't want you. I have no desire for you. There was a time when I thought something about you, because my mother was such a beautiful Christian. I could see Christ in her face; but she has been gone so long, and those impressions "have been all wiped out, and I am a great- ways from any serious thoughts." Is not that the condition of many hearts to-night? Now,dear friends, let me to-night plead with you to get into the kingdom of God, let it cost you what it will. If it is thy right eye, out with it. If it is thy right hand, off with it. If it is thy right foot, let it go. It is better to go through life halt; it is better to be maimed; it is better to be blind down to our graves than it is to miss the kingdom of God. I would rather be torn to pieces, limb from limb, and my heart torn out of my body and be with a glorious hope of immortality than to live a hundred years and lose heaven at last. If you miss the kingdom of God it would be far better you had never been born.
Now, are you not near, some of you? Am I not speaking to men and women who are saying to themselves, "I ought to be a Christian; I ought to settle this thing to-night; well, then, I will do it. God be good to me, God helping me, I will, I will!"
Do not be "almost persuaded, but be altogether. I remember of reading, some time ago, of eleven men in the Alps, in 1870, that were coining down through one of the passes, and there came up a sudden snowstorm, and these men got lost, and they wandered around for some time, and at last they dug themselves out a place in the snow, and laid themselves down. The next day guides were sent out to hunt them up, and these eleven men were found within five feet of the path. Five feet more would have taken them into the path, and taken them safely to the hotel, to the inn; but they missed it. They might as well have been five hundred miles from the path as five feet. There they were. They came near saving their lives, but they missed it. And so, dear friends, to-night are
vou not near the kingdom? Is not God in our midst to-night? Don't you feel the working of the spirit of God? Is it all imagination? Is this all a myth, a fiction? Is not the spirit of God brooding over this audience to-night? I have no more doubt that the spirit of God is trying to woo you to Christ now, than that I stand before you. There have been a good many prayers gone up to God to-night for this meeting. You have the power to spurn and reject his offered mercy. Now, what will vou do? You have the power to say, " Go your way," or you have the power to receive Him. What will you do? Will vou step into the kingdom? I once heard a man get up and say," There are three steps to heaven." I thought that was a very short way. Only three steps; out of self into Christ, out of Christ into glory. But there is but one step into the kingdom; out of self into Christ, and that is glory. Just one step takes you right into the kingdom. The door is wide open. God wants you to pass in to-night. Dear friends, there is no power on earth can save you against your will. I imagine some of you saying, " Why don't God save me against my will?" I can only say, He don't. He don't want machines in heaven; He wants sons; He wants to draw you by the cords of love. He could save you against your wills, but He don't.
Let me ask you this question: He gives you Christ, what more can He do? If you are waiting for God to do something more toward your salvation, what more can He do? Just think a moment I believe a great many are kept out of the kingdom of God because they think God could do more toward their salvation. But I tell you God can literally do no more than He has done. He has sent us prophets, and we killed them; He has sent us his only begotten Son, and we took him to Calvary and put Him to death. We know when a man goes into a court and the court decides against him, he takes an appeal and carries it to a higher court, but here men decided that Christ should go into the grave, and the angels took Him to a higher court, and God took up the appeal and put Him upon the throne. Now, what more would you ask Him to do for your salvation? Can He literally do any more? Dear friends, God has done all that He can do. Now, you accept what He has done. Do not leave this house until this question is settled. I think some of us would be willing to spend this night here if we we could only have the joy of knowing that we would enter the kingdom of God. I think I would be willing to stay here until the sun gets up to-morrow morning if God would give us some hope; if you will say, "We will not leave until we have settled this question." Let the decision come to-night. Say to-night, "I will go into the kingdom of God if I can get in," and you will soon get in.
Now, I can imagine Satan, while I am preaching, is at work with you, saying, "Don't he carried away by that man; don't you act rashly; be calm; be quiet; don't you do anything on the impulse of the moment; plenty of time: take your time." Now, bear in mind that is the devil's work. Do you think the Lord Jesus would whisper to you and say, "Don't you decide to-night." Would your godly praying mother say to you, "My son, don't you decide this to-night; don't you be in haste about it; take your time?" Do you think your mother would do that? Have you got a true friend on earth that would ask you to put this off to-night? Not one.
Now, dear friends, I do not want to leave this pulpit to-night without warning you that procrastination is the greatest enemy the human race has got. If Satan can get you to leave this church to-night without deciding, he has accomplished his work; for to-morrow there will be a hundred things that will keep you from deciding this question. Far better at the close of this holy Sabbath evening take your stand and press into the kingdom of God. A few years ago, on the Old Colony Road from New York to Boston, just before the train came up, a farmer saw near his house a landslide. There was not time for him to get to the railway station and telegraph the night express to stop it, and he did not know what to do. He took his lantern and went up the track, and just before the train came he fell down and broke his lantern. He could not get another, but he was terribly in earnest, and he took the broken lantern and hurled it at the engineer. The engineer mistrusted something was wrong, and he whistled down brakes, and the train was stopped within a few feet of the land-slide. I throw a broken lantern at your feet; dear friends, take warning. Before I come back to Chicago again many of you will be gone. Will you die inside the kingdom of God. Will you die with the glorious hope of immortality? May God keep you from missing heaven. Let us unite in prayer.
The congregation bowed their heads, and Mr. Moody offered the following prayer:
Oh Lord, bless the words that have been spoken to-night in weakness. May they be carried home and bear fruit, and may old and young to-night press into the kingdom of God. Oh, that our hearts may be rejoiced to-night by seeing hundreds give their hearts to Thee. Oh, that angels may rejoice in heaven over the souls that shall be s;ived here. We praise Thee for what Thou didst do this morning. We thank Thee that Thou wast with us, and oh, this night may hundreds be saved. Oh God of Pentecost, give us a Pentecost this night, and may there come a wave of blessing over this congregation, and now at the silent hour, at the close of this solemn meeting, may the still, small voice be heard throughout this building. May there be many that shall hear the gentle voice of Jesus saying: 'Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.' Let the weary find rest here to-night. May those that have been cast down for months and years, may they cast their burdens on Christ just now, and may there come sweet peace and rest to their weary souls. Oh, Son of God, pass this way to-night. Go through this congregation, and while we are praying and the silent prayers are going up from many, may the dew of heaven come upon the congregation and may the powers of the world to come fall upon us just now. Make this place awfully solemn. May we hear Thy voice, and now, while the voice of man is hushed, may the voice of God be heard.
Speak, Lord, to every heart, and to every conscience. May the deaf hear Thy voice and may the blind to-night see Christ as thev never have seen Him before. Oh, God, do this for Thy Sonship, and now while we are waiting on Thee silently, wilt Thou speak, and may many hear Thee saying, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door I will go in to him, and sup with him and he with me. Jesus, Master, come unto all our hearts. Oh, we invite Thee to come, and may the proud heart to-night yield. Help us to unlock the door. Help us to unbolt it. Help us to open it and give Thee a royal welcome. Oh, blessed Master, just now deliver the captive. Help these men to give up their besetting sin. Help these men to turn to right from every sin and to be wholly Thine; and may there be an influence go forth from this meeting that shall make glad the city of our God. Amen.
At the close of the services in the main hall a meeting of seekers after the truth was held in the lecture room, and a large number placed themselves in the ranks of the army of the Lord."
FIRST DAY OF THE CONTENTION.
The excellent report of the proceedings of this memorable convention, furnished daily by "The Inter-Ocean," was fitly prefaced by the following remarks about Farwell Hall and the accessories of the occasion:
Nature seemea to sanction the good work inaugurated yesterday morning in the fair opening of the Christian Convention. It was veritably a "day of joy and gladness" beneath the bright sky; it was all this and far more within the walls of Farwell Hall, where, at 9:30 o'clock, there had gathered between 2,000 and 3,000 Christian workers from far and near, with ears to hear and anxious, docile hearts to believe. At 9 o'clock they had begun to throng the large hall, that was to be taxed to its utmost capacity. Phrases from the Scriptures, intoning the spirit of the hour and the convention, were displayed about the edge of the gallery. They read, "Love the Brotherhood," "God Is Love," "Pray Without Ceasing," "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," "Rejoice evermore," "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost," "That they all may be one as Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me."
Upon the high wall back of the platform was hung an enormous chart that is well intended to uplift its mute appeal in behalf of foreign missions. It depicts by means of squares, each representing a million of people, the actual and relative numbers of mankind, according to their religion. Its showing of the prodigious discrepancy existing between the number of the souls of Christendom and heathendom can but prove a standing text for each humble worker of the convention whose influence, however slight, goes for good in the slow and laborious process of universal Christianization. The chart shows the world's population to be divided as to their religion and want of religion as follows: Protestants, 116,000,000; Greek Church, S,ooo,ooo; Roman Catholics, 190,000,000; Jews, 8,000,000; Mohammedans, 170,000,000; heathens, S56,000,000.
After the opening exercises of prayer and singing, the subject and the first speaker were announced by Mr. Moody, namely:
Rev. Dr. E. P. Goodwin, pastor of First Congregational Church, Chicago.
"HOW CAN WE BEST SECURE A PREPARATION FOR CHRIST'S WORD."
Speaking to this, Dr. Goodwin, with that power that has secured him a conspicuous eminence in the Congregational pulpit, said: Dear friends, you could not possibly be more disappointed than I am that it should have been appointed to me to have a word to say here instead of the brother whose name is upon the programme. At a late hour last night, after an exhausting day's work, including a trip to Graceland and work on missions, I was told that this brother might be absent this morning, and I would be expected to take his place, but still when I came here five minutes ago, I hoped that some other arrangement might have been made to relieve me. But I should be sorry not to respond to my duty to do all that I can do, especially after so long an absence from the city, and after so great gladness has been put into my heart on my return by seeing such a work commenced already as this one proposed by this convention; not waiting till the mid-winter, but going forward thus early, as if the Lord's people would say—how shall we best, in these beautiful autumn days, put ourselves in training for doing this great work and for deserving great blessings. It seems to me that the Scripture way of putting the matter is about this: That God is always prepared, and that there is nothing we need to sec to, excepting that the people prepare themselves the right way for the doing of the work.
You find many a passage in the Old Testament about preparing the way of the army; nothing about the Lord. Hut the people have sometimes a good deal to do about getting ready. And chiefly of that it might be said, as the brother said, that the first thing to do is to get the hindrances out of the way, to prepare the way of the Lord, by gathering up the stones, as in the old time when preparations were made for the king's coming—the highways swept smooth, the stones gathered up, and everything put in readiness that the great monarch could come without delay. You will notice this thought in the Bible. Let my first suggestion or fir:it thought, then, be this: The way the Lord will have His people prepared for His work is, first of all, to get a view of Him. You will notice in the 6th chapter of Isaiah where one of the Lord's servants, in preparing for a special work and message looking between God and people, the first thing prominent is that Isaiah is not found in a convention nor in a circle of even two or three, but personally He is alone with God. Dear friends, it seems primarily necessary for you and me as workers to bear in mind that the first fundamental condition of our success and power is that we shall go alone with God. These are the days in which God is thought little of. These are the days in which God is made little of, in which God is largely cast out of the thoughts and minds of men.
These are the days of such pressure of business and absorption in worldly matters that men either at home or in the study find little time for communion with God. I am sure I speak the mind of ministers, of brethren, when I say that it is one of the hard things of this day to be alone with God; and I am sure we shall fail in our work unless we get before us the proper conception of who God is; that before all else, over all business, over all pleasures, over all home life, over all other sources that impress us, the great conception that is to inspire us, the great fact that is to rule us is that we are God's people, God's ministers; seeking first of all how we may glorify rlim. You will find that among all the long list of prophets who had any special work of revelation, that somebow in the very earliest stages of it, the prophet is closeted with Him, like Abraham, like Gideon when the angel of the Lord comes to him; like Elijah. Look at all the prophets. When in the work to which they were called, they were with God. It was sometimes a month, not merely an hour. It was a closeting with God, like that of Moses where he bows dovvn on his face until the forty days and forty nights are accomplished. Great things come from praying; from finding out God, from being with God, from seeing God, from feeling as God feels.
And the only conception, it seems to me, we can get from their examples is the consciousness that in us dwelleth no good thing; that we need cleansing and purifying. The first conception of the prophet is that I am unclean, and he thought that because he had been with God, he must needs perish; but lo! there was cleansing, and he was purged from his sins, and he could go out and declare his message to the people.
Now, brethren, I am sure for myself, for you, that in this first hour, the first thing, the supreme conviction of our hearts is that God is here, and the dearest wish of our hearts is that we may know God; that we may be like God; that we may be filled with the power of God; then we shall be put in the way of being so; we shall have made the best preparation, and, I think, the best way traced out for doing work; work that shall glorify God in these coming davs. Then will come what our brother has referred to. You remember in the Scriptures, God's people are spoken of as vessels, as the old vessels of the temple, down even to the very smelters and the articles of the least significance, although sacred as used in the service of God.
You will find that when, in Nehemiah's day, they held great gatherings, perhaps like these, they read for hours every day the book of the law. You will discover all their names written to the solemn covenant to God that they would keep His law, obey his commandments, cleanse themselves from every form of defile- . ment, and from that time be His people and His alone. I am sure there is meaning in that. I am sure that if we are willing to have God's spirit poured upon us we shall be willing to cast aside our pleasures and pride of the flesh. I am sure if we are willing to do that, to put all things of the home life and the business life temporarily aside, and write over all, this is for the glory of God; to take, every man his lips, his hands, and his feet into the closet, and say, as the old priest said, these shall be kept for God, these are for the service of God—we shall have for ourselves solved the question that will get its blessing of answer, for every quality, and in every home, in every business place, the power of God; and the power of God will not longer tarry to come upon us for the salvation of souls."
Mr. Moody, a man who never lets the anvil forget the ring and touch of the hammer, or the white heat of the ductile iron dissipate itself and nothing shaped, briskly rose and said, "Major Whittle will follow on this question." Thus introduced, this home evangelist, who has made his campaigns against Satan, and Southron as well, addressed the audience in his firm, tuneful, and measured way.
Major Whittle presented three questions which should be answered. The first was personal experience of what conversion to Christ was. The second was to study God's word, ami the third was to have faith in the presence and power in the spirit of God.
The speaker, in reference to the first question, read from Paul's Epistles, giving the personal experience of the great apostle. We were to lift up Christ as a personal Savior, to be witnesses to what we had seen and heard and no more. We could not be witnesses to anything more than we experienced personally, and that was all that was expected. It was no credit to a man to be converted, and it was no discredit not to be converted. There might be, there were, manv persons in the churches who had not had this personal experience that they might stand as witnesses to a personal Savior.
They had never been brought to a personal knowledge, but were standing on the forms of religion. The speaker had known of ministers who had not had this personal experience, and they failed to exert that converting power that was necessary to the work. This personal experience was the preparation we needed. We were to search our hearts, to drive out forms and find a personal Savior. Then we would find ourselves prepared to do Christ's work.
In the Gospel of John we were commanded to search the Scrip
tures. There were three things for which we should search the Scriptures—for history and biography, for moral truth, and for spiritual power Martin Luther studied his Bible on his knees for years before he was used by the Lord. John Knox studied the Scriptures before he was called to do any work for tne Lord. So it was with all men. They could not expect to be useful servants and called to do important work for Christ until they had studied the Scriptures that they might find what was His work.
We were to be filled with the spirit. If we, standing on redemption ground, preached the word, that preacbing would have the power to convert. We were given the promise of success. God was just as anxious to fulfill His promise to-day as He was at the Pentecost.
Prayer was offered by the Rev. Dr. Herrick Johnson and hymn 93 was announced, Mr. Moody requesting that it be sung softly, for all should remember it to be a prayer. So in a prayerful key the invocations were uttered, "More holiness give me, more strivings within." The opportunity for five-minute talks on the foregoing topic was then given by Mr. Moody. H. L. A. Stevenson of Boston, by the aid of illustration and anecdote, showed that the secret of a hallowed life is found in personal communion with God. The growth and fruitfulness of a tree depended upon its unseen root, unless the tree were a Christmas tree, which bore its crop all outside. True Christian lives of some men were like the fruitage of Christmas trees—hung upon the outside.
"Oh! Happy day," was then started by Mr. Sankey, and the obedient voices of the many hundreds took up the glad refrain.
Mr. Moody concluded the discussion with one of his plain talks, striking home in every sentence. He said: I once heard a man say he had a very good well with two exceptions. It would go dry in summer and freeze up in winter. There were a good many Christians like that well. They are good in spots. Wbat we want is an even temperature, good for 365 days in the year. It is this spasmodic Christianity that is doing so much against our work to-day. They are enthusiastic for a time and then they fall back into the cold.
There must be a personal experience and an evenness. One way to secure this is to call together all the hungry in our churches. There may not be a dozen in any one church, but let them come together, for it is often in such small meetings that we find the richest results. We are told that "Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." When I came home from England in May last I found that an old oak tree near my house was still filled with the dead leaves of last year. I tried to pull the dead leaves off, but I found that would be a big work which I could not hope to complete soon. One bright mora g I found the leaves nearly all off, and the new buds were putting out, showing signs of the new life. This new life, new sap, was casting off the old life. There are a good many old things in ou: lives that should be cast off by the new life. Let us pray for this blessing. Let us pray for this new life. Let the motive, howevnr, be pure.
Too often our motives are not right. We want to take up the service before we receive the holy life. This is not right. We want the holy life first Paul never said anything about winning souls, and is it not strange? No. He was enthusiastic for Christ. He spoke always of knowing Christ, and when we come to know Christ we may then take up His service and win souls.
There are three ways of knowing persons. We know them by hearsay; we know them historically. Another class we know by introduction, but we don't know much about them. We have heard their names, but that is all we know. Then there are people that we know intimately and have known them for years. There are men on this platform that I have known for twenty years, and it seems to me I learn something more of them each day that I live. There are three ways of knowing Christ.
Some people know Him historically, just as they know Napoleon and Ca;sar. They know Him from what they have heard of Him. These people come into the church because they think it a dutv, or it may advance them socially or in their business. There aie others who know Christ slightly. They talk and talk, but don't »ay anything. They are as sounding brass. Their talk don't amount to anything. There are too many in the church who have no testimony to give. You can count on your fingers those who can give personal testimony for Christ. They are like Lot in Sodom. He was for many years there, and said to be an influential man, but when it came to the test it was shown that in all those years this man had not converted one soul. He even lost part of his family in that great destruction. There are paying members in the churches, but they are not praying members. The result is that the churcn has little power for Christ.
The woman at the well was taken into immediate service by Christ, because she could give personal testimony, and we see that she went out and at once turned the town upside down aimost. If we run into the field without the Master we will fail. That is the reason we see so many failures among those that are working for God.
There followed a few moments of silent prayer, and afterwards the audible petitions of two of the brethren upon the platform. Again the worship of song was resumed in the quartet singing of Messrs. Sankey and McGranahan, Mrs, McGranahan, and Mrs. Carrington, the congregation participating in rendering two of the stanzas.
The hour—eleven o'clock—for the consideration of the second topic, "What are the great hindrances to Christ's kingdom, and how can they be removed?" had arrived, and the Rev. Dr. J. H. Barrows, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Chicago, allotted twenty minutes for his subject, was introduced.
"the Great Hindrances."
Rev. Dr. J. H. Barrows prefaced his remarks by saying that others would point out how the hindrances were to be removed, his duty being to show what they were. This pulpit orator, whose speech rung as virgin metal, proclaiming clear, true thoughts, bred 'mid the refinements of a generous scholarship, advanced to the front to hold his audience, saying:
This question, as it stands, is world wide, nay, wide as the universe, for we have scriptural authority for believing that some of the obstacles and enemies of the Christian Church are extramundane. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they were wrestling with fallen angels of different orders, that they were struggling against wicked spirits in high places.
Here are obstacles or foes that we cannot remove, and to guard ourselves against which the Apostle urges to take on the whole armor of God, girdle, breast-plate; shoes, shield, helmet, and sword.
If we consider merely the hindrances which are earthly and sensual, omitting those which are devilish, we are brought face to face with a variety of obstructions, and different observers, occupying different points of view, will vary in their judgments as to which are the most formidable. The Rev. Dr. Jessup, of Syria, looks on Mohammedanism, reaching from the hearts of Africa to the heart of India; Mohammedanism, with its iron cruelty and hardness of spirit, blasting the lands it controls, and blinding the minds that inherit its faith as the chief obstacle to the Redeemer's kingdom. The English missionary, toiling amid the 260,000,000 of India, regards the frightful system of caste, with its immemorial grip on Hindoo life from the cradle to the grave—caste which is rooted in an abominable theology, and in its essence is the contradiction of the spirit of Christianity, as the one mighty barrier to the regeneration of the most populous of the continents. The Christian worker in Japan looks on that empire as the key to the redemption of Asia, and finds his chief enemy in the skeptical, materialistic philosophy which the emancipated Japanese mind is rapidly imbibing from the translations of Renan, Strauss, Spencer, John Stuart Mill, Paine and Ingersoll. The American missionary in France, Austria, Spain, and Italy regards the downfall of Romanism, with its false doctrines, its corrupt practices, and its persecuting tyranny, as the one thing needful to the speedy triumph of the gospel.
Joseph Cook returns from a tour of observation around the globe, and finds the chief obstacle to the progress of Christianization in what he calls the "semi-universalism" of the home churches, paralyzing missionary enterprise. Many a Christian pastor in America or England reading of $700,000,000 wasted annually in strong drink in each of these lands, a larger sum than the church has expended in foreign mission work for 300 years, noting the demoralization which drunkenness produces in the great centers of population, seeing its alliance with all that corrupts and degrades our political and social life, many such a pastor has come to regard intemperance as the one prodigious hindrance, the one heaven-defying obstacle to the kingdom of righteousness, purity, and good will. If I should put to you the question which I am to discuss I should get a great variety of answers. Some of you would find the main hindrance to the rapid advance of our Redeemer's kingdom in the weakness of the pulpit, in the decline of Sabbath observance, in the selfish extravagance of church members, in the wastefulness of the use of tobacco, in the lack of that parental consecration which devoted the children to God's service, in the unwillingness of Christians to do personal work for others, in the church's comparative neglect of the great masses of our city populations, in the dread of revivals, in "the lack of thorough ftible study, and so on. And doubtless every answer thus far given has truth in it, though the truth may not be one which it would greatly profit this convention to consider.
What we need to perceive clearly and feel deeply is not so much the external hindrances as those that are within the church.
I once asked a little company of earnest Christian workers what was the most frequent excuse given by impenitent persons for not coming to Christ, and they unanimously replied: 'The faults of Christians." And if we take an historical survey of Christianity we must be convinced that opposition from without has been weaker than corruption within, that Hophni and Phineas rioting in the tabernacle had dishonored the Lord and defeated His hosts more than the Philistines fighting for the ark. Reading the history of the church, our distress and shame are not so much over the attacks of cruelty and unbelief as are the lapses of false teachers of the truth, priests turning practical atheists, right conduct disregarded in the attempt to secure church conformity, worldliness and sensualism creeping in among the successors of the apostolic fishermen, and of Him who had not where to lay His head, wranglings among the friends of truth, the church lowering its claims to please secular power or to capture the worldly, Caesar consummating a diabolical marriage with the Lamb's wife.
In those times when the church has been, cold and sluggish and self-cenlered and oppressive, the weapons of infidelity have been forged. . I have recently read a remarkable book called "Underground Russia," written by a Nihilist, who describes the fearful revolutionary world that plots and dares and dies beneath the throne of the Czar. He narrates the story of the attack which infidel socialism has made on Russian institutions.
The first onset was on Christianity, and this, he says, was the easiest citadel to capture. Translations of the leading works of German and English unbelief were scattered over the empire, and Christianity, as a system of national belief, was destroyed in the minds of all cultivated people. In a land where such things could be done, the Christian church must be in a sink of imbecility and immorality. Allied with a tyrannical government, disgraced by the lives of corrupt priests, feeding the people on the pictures of saints and not the word of God, the Russian church had no practical arguments wherewith to meet its foe. The triumphs of unbelief to-day spring from precisely the same causes with the triumphs ot the heathen over the children of Israel in the Arabian desert, and in the promised land, the disobedience and faithlessness of God's own people.
In times of special religious interest, our sins, our shortcomings, our imperfect lives rise up, a mountain of offense, between many men and salvation. They look on us rather than Christ. It is a deplorable fact that when men's minds are turned toward the Lord Jesus, they are sometimes turned away by the sight or knowledge of our moral delinquencies. They argue that if Christianity does not make men more upright in business, more trustworthy in their promises, more generous, gentle, humane, and courteous, then the gospel is a practical failure.
I know that God's grace gets hold occasionally of some crooked sticks, and they always show thereafter something of their natural bent. •• Grace," it has been said, "is like lightning; when it strikes a man it follows the grain."
A coarse-fibred man may be converted to God and yet need a vast deal of pounding on the anvil of God's discipline. An intensely selfish man may become a Christian and always be more distinguished for prudence than for generosity. A mean, crafty, unscrupulous man, like Jacob, may be converted to God and require a semi-annual reconversion before he is fitted for companionship with the Apostle John. There is need of a vast deal of charity for men who inherit terrible constitutional obliquities or violent passions that come down through a long series of ungodly generations. And we must also remember that God does not perfect human character immediately. But looking on Christian men generally and on the average, they may rightfully be expected to exhibit a conspicuously higher morality than others. It is not enough for us to say that when men make comparisons they choose a poor specimen of a Christian, and the best specimen of an unbeliever. It should become plain to all the world that the church aims directly, continuously, and with all earnestness to make men truer, juster, purer, more helpful, and more loving in every human relationship. We must show that we believe not only in the Christ who died on Calvary the atonement for sin, but also in the Christ who, as the teacher of righteousness, proclaimed the sermon on the mount.
But the main hindrances to the cause of Christ are not the flaring sins which bring reproach on the Christian church. The sin of Ananias and Sapphire, the sin of Peter in denying his Lord, the sin of Judas in betraying his master, these exceptional transgressions which you can put your finger right on and puncture with righteous indignation are not those which most grievously dishonor Christ. The body of Christ has received many wounds of this sort which have been quickly healed.
Worse than a wound is general debility, a languid, low-toned vitality such as people complain of in the spring of the year, when they sigh for Peruvian bark and tonic bitter drinks. Malaria in the church atmosphere, breathing depression and inertness over the great body of believers, is often worse than swift and terrible disease striking down a few. When the cares of this world have choked the word into unfruitfulness, when a systematic avarice fills up the routine of lives externally honorable, when luxurious worldliness has usurped the place of a self-denying other worldliness of mind, then it is that we cause the name of Christ to be blasphemed, then it is that the sound of the Spirit is dulled, then it is that the heavenlv flame is most completely smothered. A Christian woman has described God's work of redemption as a fire. As soon as it was kindled men tried to stamp it out, but it spread all the faster. Then they tried to drown the fire in rivers of blood, but the fire rose up through the blood in brighter splendor Then the engulfing waters, heathenism and skepticism, rolled over the fire but the flame was not quenched. At last there came a snowstorm, millions on millions of little cottony flakes, falling, falling, falling, day after dav. week after week, year after year, on the divine fire, and it almost went out. The dreadful quenching storm is the cold indifference, the manifold worldly cares, the delicate dropping innumerable snowflakes of earthlv interest and distraction, which more than outward persecution and unbelief have subdued the fire of the Holy Ghost.
A spiritual, pure, self-denying, consecrated church, united with Christ in His death to sin, united to Christ in the new and risen life of holiness, united to Christ in separation from the world, united to Christ in toil and suffering and blessed expectation is God's mightiest force among men. It was for such a church that Jesus died, that the spirit was given, that the New Testament was delivered to men. It was for this that Cod's saints have suffered persecution and martyrdom. It was for this that in times of corruption God has raised up John the Baptists and Martin Luthers. A pure and Christly Church. Before such a church unbelief will be stripped of half its armory of strength. By sue! i a church the forces that attack heathenism will be augmented ten-fold. Vital interests of benevolence will not appeal in vain for adequate support. The great evils of the land will be checked, for the church will sever the chains which have bound her to much that was iniquitous and more that was questionable.
Two things ought right here to be considered. One is a fact of history, the other is a fact of revelation. The historical faot is this: that the external hindrances were never so great as at the beginning. The mountains that confronted the feeble, hated, and despised church in Judea overtop the hills which lie before the church of to-day, with its powerful hand on the civilization, the riches, the science, the commerce, and the learning of the leading nationalities of the world. Our internal dangers may be greater than those of the infant church that felt the tide of love
"Stream on her from her Lord's yet recent grave,"
but no such vast, complex, malignant, and mighty external forces are now linked in unholy and seemingly invincible alliance against the gospel as at the beginning.
The fact of revelation is this: Omnipotence is our ally. Back of the day of Pentecost was a divine command to evangelize the nations. Back of this command was a colossal "therefore." Back of this "therefore" was the declaration of Him whose hand built the heavens, and had laid that hand on the cross from love to the world, and had smitten the might of death, and was about to ascend to the throne of infinite majesty. "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth." "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
If the church then is at any time weak and fearful, and cries out as did Judah before Ammon and Moab, "We have no weight against this great company," it needs to hear what the spirit of the Lord said through Jahziel, "The battle is not yours but God's." During the great struggle in the British Parliament over West India emancipation, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton kept his Bible open every day at the fifteenth verse of the twentieth ciiapter of Second Chronicles. And it would be well for the church daily to read, "Be not afraid nor discouraged by reason of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's."
Therefore, it seems indisputable that one of the chief hindrances to a more rapid spread of the gospel is our failure . to see our Divine Leader as John saw Him—on the white horse, with bow and crown, going forth conquering and to conquer. The secret of the church's power is not in glittering ceremonials, or vast machineries, or prosperous organizations drawing the fashionable crowds, though I believe thoroughly in Christian ceremonies, and Christian machinery, and in endeavoring to bring the rich to Christ and to His church.