"Incline your ear and come unto me. Hear, and your souls shall live." Isaiah 55-3
We have for our subject this afternoon the precious little word "Come." I want to call your attention first to the " Come" in the 55th chapter of the prophecies of Isaiah. "Incline your ear, and come unto me. Hear, and your souls shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
"Incline your ear and come unto me; hear, and your souls shall live." Now, I find if wo get people to listen—to pause and hear the voice of God, it isn't long before they are willing to follow that voice; but it is so hard to get people to stop and listen, for a moment. The din of the world makes such a noise that the people don't hear the voice—that still small voice. He says, "Incline your ear and come unto me." Now, if we could only get all the friends in this audience to incline their ears this afternoon—not only your natural ears, but the ears of your soul, you could be saved to-day. But Satan does not want you to do this; he does all he can to keep your ears from hearing. He makes you think about yourself, about your sons, your homes; but, my friends, let us forget all of those things to-dav. Let us forget all our surroundings, and close our eyes to the world, and just try and listen to the word of God, and come and hear what he has to say. "Incline your ear. and come unto me; hear, and your
•oul shall live." Now, let us turn to the 10th chapter of Romans, where we see, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Now, it is not my words I want to have you to listen to; it is not my words I want you to hear this afternoon; but I want you to hear the words of this loving King, who calls you to himself. What does he say? In another place ne says: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me;" or "if any woman," or any one; that's what it means, my friends—" hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to her, and will sup with her, and she with me." I heard of a little child, some time ago, who was burned. The mother had gone out and left her three children at home. The eldest left the room, and the remaining two began to play with the fire, and set the place in a blaze. When the youngest of the two saw what she had done, she went into a little cupboard and fastened herself in. The remaining child went to the door and knocked and knocked, crying to her to open the door and let her take her out of the burning building; but she was too frightened to do it. It seems to me as if this was the way with hundreds and thousands in this city. He stands and knocks; but they've got their hearts barred and bolted, because they don't know that he has come only to bless them. May God help you to hear; and if you listen to him and bring your burdens to him he will bless you. He is able to open the ears of every one here if you let him in. I was up here at the hotel the other night, and I had the door locked and bolted, and some one came and rapped. I shouted, "Come in!" The man tried to come in, but he couldn't; I had to get up and unlock the door before he could enter. That's the way with many people to-day. They've got the door bolted and barred; but if you only open it to him, he will come in.
"If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me." Now, my friends, can you hear it? Can you hear God's voice speaking through his own word? "Incline your ear and come unto me." Just listen. You know sometimes, when you hear a man speaking whose voice you don't hear very well, and you want to hoar every word the man says, you put vour hand up to your ear to catch the sound clearer. Now listen. God says, " Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your souls shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you." Now, is it not true? Can't you hear that loving voice speaking to you, and won't you obey that voice and let him save you? But I can imagine some of you saying, "I can't hear anything." Take your ears to him and he will make you hear.
Now let me take you to another course. While John and his disciples were standing, Jesus came along and John said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" and Jesus said, "What seek ye?" "Where dwellest thou?" he asked; to which He replied: "Come and see;" and they just obeyed him, and never left him. My friends, if I could introduce you to Christ—could just get you to catch one glimpse of him; if you could but see the King in all his beauty; if you could but see him in all his loveliness, you would never forsake him, for, "He shall grow up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground." Follow him, as your Savior. In order to appreciate him, you have to be brought to him; but if sin has come between you and him, I cannot tell you anything about him. It is just like telling a blind man about the beauties of nature, the loveliness of the flowers, or of the world. That is the way, if sin stands between you and him, and when Christians try to tell you about the beauties of Christianity they fail; but if you come and have an interview with him, you will see that you cannot help but love him; you will see that you cannot but forsake all and follow him. I remember once hearing of a child who was born blind. He grew up to be almost a man, when a skillful physician thought he could give the man his sight He was put under the doctor's treatment, and for a long time he worked, till at last he succeeded. But he wouldn't let the man see the light of the sun all at once, lest it would strike him blind. It had to be done gradually. So he put a lot of bandages upon his »yes, and removed one after another until the last one was reached; and when it was taken off, the young man began to see. When he saw the beauties of the world, he upbraided his friends for not telling him of the beauties of nature. "Why, we tried to tell you about the beauties of the world, but we could not," they said. And so it is with us. AH that we can do is to tell you to come and see; come and see the loveliness of Christ.
I can imagine some of you saying: "1 am blind, I cannot see any beauty in him." Bring your blindness to him, as you bring your deafness, and he will give you sight, as he did with the blind Bartimeus; as he did with all the blind men ou earth. There was never a blind man who came to him requesting his sight, whose request was not grarted; and there is not a blind soul in this assembly but will be healed, if you come to him. He says that's what he came for, to give sight to the blind. If you cannot see any beauty in him pray to God to give you sight.
The next "Come" is in the prophesies of Isaiah. "Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be »s scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." I find a great many people say their reason stands between them and God. Now, let me say here, the religion of Jesus is a matter of revelation, not of investigation. No one ever found out Christ by reason; it is a matter of revelation. Now see what he says, "Come now"—that means this afternoon— "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Now he pute a pardon in the sinner's face. "Your sins may be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Take the scarlet in that lady's shawl; it is a fast color. You cannot wash it out and make it white; if you tried, you would only destroy the shawl. But he will make your sins white as snow, though they be as scarlet, if you come to him. Just come to him as you are; and instead of reasoning, ask him to take them away. Then, he will reason it out with you. The natural man does not understand spiritual things; but when a man is born of the Spirit, then it is that the spiritual things are brought out to him. A great many people want to investigate—want to reason out the Bible from back to back; but he wants us first to take a pardon. That's God's method of reasoning. He puts a pardon in the face of the sinner: "Come, now." Do you think there is not reason in this? Suppose the whole plan of salvation was reasoned out to you, why death might step in before the end of the reasoning was reached. So God puts a pardon first. If you will be influenced today, you will just bring your reason to him; and ask him to give you wisdom to see divine things; and he will do it. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him, liberally. The idea that this reason that God hath given man should keep him from Christ! A number of years ago, as I was coming out of a daily prayer meeting in one of our Western cities, a lady came up to me and said: "I want to have you see my husband, and ask him to come to Christ." She said, "I want to have you go and see him." She told me his name, and it was of a man I had heard of before. "Why," said I, "I can't go and see your husband. He is a booked infidel, I can't argue with him. He is a good deal older than I am, and it would be out of
£'ace. Then I am not much for infidel argument." "Well, Mr. oody," she says, "That ain't what he wants, he's got enough of that. Just ask him to come to the Savior." She urged me so hard and so strong, that I consented to go. I went to the office where the Judge was doing business, and told him what I had come for. He laughed at me. "You are very foolish," he said, and began to argue with me. I said: "I don't think it will be profitable for me to hold an argument with you. I have just one favor I want to ask of you; and that is, that when you are converted you will let me know." "Yes," said he, "I will do that. When I am converted, I will let you know"—with a good deal of sarcasm. I went off, and requests for prayers were sent here and to Fulton street, New York; and I thought the prayer there and of that wife would be answered, if mine •were not. A year and a half after, I was in that city, and a servant came to the door and said: "There is a man in the front parlor who wishes to see you." I found the Judge there. He said: "I promised I would let you know when I was converted. I've been converted." "Well,' said I, "I'm glad to hear itl tell me all about it." T had heard it from other lips, but I wanted to hear i» from his own. He said his wife had gone out to a meeting one night, and he was home alone; and while tie was sitting there by the Ire, he thought: "Suppose my wife is right, and my children are right; suppose there is a heaven and a hell, and I shall be separated from them." His first thought was, "I don't believe a word of it." The second thought came: "You believe in the God that created you, and the God that created you is able to teach you. You believe that God can give you life." "Yes, the God that created me can give me life. I was too proud to get down on my knees by the fire, and I said, '0 God, teach me.' And as I prayed, I don't understand it, but it began to get very dark, arid my heart got very heavy. I was afraid to tell my wife when she came to bed, and I pretended to be asleep. She kneeled down beside that bed, I knew she was praying for me. I kept crying: '0 God, save me; O God, take away this burden;' but it grew darker, and the load grew heavier and heavier. All the way to my office I kept crying 'O God, take away this load of guilt;' I gave my clerks a holiday, and just closed my office and locked the door. 1 fell down on my face; I cried in agony to the Lord, 'O Lord, for Christ's sake, take away this guilt' I don't know how it was, but it began to grow very light. I said: 'I wonder if this isn't what they call conversion. I think I will go and ask the minister if I am not converted.' 1 met my wife at the door and said, 'My dear, I've been converted.' She looked in amazement. 'Oh it's a fact; I've been converted!' We went into that drawing-room and knelt down by the sofa and prayed to God to bless us." The old Judge said to me, the tears trickling down his cheeks: "Mr. Moody, I've enjoyed life more in the last three months than in all the years of my life put together." If there is an infidel here—if there is a skeptical one here, ask God to give you wisdom to come now. Let us reason together; and if you become acquainted with God, the day will not go before you receive light from him.
The next " Come" I want to call your attention ito is a very sweet one. He says, " Come and reason," "Come and see;" and now wo have, "Come and rest." What this world wants is rest. Every man, every woman, is in pursuit of it; and how many of us have found? How many are bearing burdens about our hearts always; how many have come into this hall to-day with a great burden "od their hearts? What does he say: "Come unto me, all ye( that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Now a great many people have an idea that they get rid of their burdens themselves; but they must come to him, if they want to be relieved. That's what Christ came for. Come to him. "He hath borne our griefs and carried our Borrows." There could not be a sweeter "Come" than this. How many mothers are bearing burdens for their children; how many because of their sons; or, perhaps, you have husbaads who have proved unfaithful; or may be you are widows, who have been without support. The future may look dark to you; but hear the loving voice of the Savior: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There is not a soul here—I don't care what the burden may be—in this vast audience, but can lay their burden on the Lord Jesus Christ; and he will bear it for you. We can be released; we have found a resting place, and that is in the loving bosom of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a hymn written by Dr. Andrew Bonar, which can express this much better than I can. Let me read it:
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
•' Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one. lay down
Thy head upon my breast"
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting-place,
And he has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
"Behold I freely give
The livinir water—thirsty one.
Stoop clown and drink and live 1"
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived
And now 1 live in him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
"i am this dark world's light; Look unto me, thy morn shnfi rise,
And all thy day be bright."
1 looked at Jesus and I found
In him my Star, my Sun.
And in that light of Life I'll walk
Till traveling days are done.
O, my friends, if you want rest to-day, come to him. He stands with his arms outstretched and says: "Come to me and rest." Does the world satisfy you? Are not the griefs of this world crushing many a heart here? Hear the voice of Jesus, "Come and rest." The world cannot take it from you; the world's crosses and trials will not tear it from you; he will give you peace and comfort and rest, if you but come.
The next "Come" is "Come and drink and eat." You don't have to pay anything. You know it is hard for a man to get a tax on water unless when it has to be brought into the city. But this water is always without price, and salvation is like a river, flowing at the feet of every one; and all you have to do is to stoop down and drink of tltis living water, and never die. The world cannot give you comfort—cannot give you water to satisfy your thirst, and every man and woman in this world is thirsty. That's the way our places of amusement are filled. People are constantly thirsting for something. But how are they filled with those amusements? They are as thirsty as ever. But if they drink the waters that he offers, they will have a fountain in them springing up into everlasting life. I remember coming down a river with some wounded soldiers. The water was very muddy; and as we had no filters, they had to drink the dirty water, which did not satisfy their thirst. I remember a soldier saying, "Oh that I had a draught of water from my father's well." If you drink of the living water, your soul will never thirst again. Not only does he say, "Come and drink of that living water," but he says, "Come and eat." In the 55th chapter of Isaiah you are invited to come and eat. You know all that the children of Israel had to do in the wilderness was just to pick up the manna and eat. They didn't have to make it. And people had just to stoop down and pick up the manna and eat, and drink from the flinty rock when the water flowed. And to-day the provision is brought to the door of our hearts. You haven't to go down to the earth for it, or to go up to the skies for it. It is here; and all you've got to do is to eat.
You know almost the last words of Christ after his resurrection, when, having a little fish, he said to his disciples, " Come and dine." Oh, what a sweet invitation—the invitation of the Master to his disciples, "Come and dine." I invite you now to come and dine with him; he will quench that thirst; he will satisfy your hunger, and all youv'e got to do is to take him at his word.
Is there a poor thirsty one here to-day? I bid you come and drink of the fountain of living water; I bid you come and eat of the heavenly bread; yes, the bread made in heaven, the bread that angels feed on. Christ himself is the bread of life.
Now, a many people make a great mistake about accepting Christ. They think they've got something to do* they think they've got to do some work, or that they've got to pray and wrestle before taking him; they think it is a question of performance whether they are saved or not. Now, it is a question of simply taking what God offers you. I remember, when I was out on the Pacific coast, a man took me through his house, out on his lands, and showed me his orchards, and then said: "Mr. Moody, you are a guest of mine, and I want you to feel perfectly at home; do what you like." Well, after this man said this, you don't suppose if I wanted an orange I was going under the tree to pray that it would fall into my pocket? I just went up boldly and plucked what I wanted. And so the bread of oeaven is offered to us; and all we've got to do is to go boldly up and take it. This is what God wants you to do. Everything is prepared for you.
There is a class, too, who say, "But I'm afraid I'll not hold out." How many people are stumbling over this! Now, if you come boldly up to the throne you'll get all the support you need: "Let us therefore corne boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." There is a passage for you; that ought to be sufficient. And there is not a woman here to-day but can be kept, from this very day and this very hour, from evil. "For I the Lord thy God will keep you, without spot or wrinkle, and without blemish." Some of the vilest men who have ever trodden this earth have been saved by the grace of God. Some have been kept sixty or seventy years merely by the grace of God, and never wavered. "Come boldly to the throne of grace," and you will get power. That is sufficient. Won't you take him at his word? It seems to me that it is madness not to take the gift offered us by God.
Let me call attention to another "Come." My friends, the Bible is full of them, and you can't say, if you don't come, there have been no invitations. He says. "Come to the marriage." Now, you young ladies like marriages pretty well. Let a marriage cdhie off in a church, and hundreds will be there; and probably next night, at the prayer meeting, there will scarcely be a dozen of you present. Now, here is a marriage; and there is not a lady here whom God does not want to be present at the marriage feast. There is an invitation. And here is another "Come " : "Come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world." God has got on inheritance for every one of you. The time will soon come, if you accept Christ and become as his bride, when you shall hear the voice of him saying to you: "Come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world." What a mistake it will be, my friends, if you will not hear that invitation given to you! There is an inheritance incorruptible in the heavens, a building not made with hands, and he wants every one to enter into this inheritance; and so it is your privilege to be present at the marriage feast, and receive the inheritance, if you will.
You know the first " Come" in the Bible is in regard to salvation. It was given to Noah. God said, "Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark;" not a part of them, but "all thy house." That is the first "Come," in the Bible; and all through that blessed book it is repeated. And now we come to the last one. It seems as if the Bible was created by this word "Come." "The Spirit and the bride say "Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." There is our invitation, as broad as the world itself. And if God says you are to come in there, no power in heaven, or earth, or hell can stop you! He bids yon come. Now, bear in mind, it is your sins God wants, and not your faith. You have nothing about you that he wants except your sins. People are continually trying to come to him by their faith, by their feelings, by their tears, by their good deeds, by their works; but you have to come to him just as you are. There is not a woman present but can roll off every sin and leave them in this Tabernacle.
Now the question comes, What right have you to come? Why, because the King invites you. Suppose Queen Victoria had sent me an invitation to be present at Windsor, at a feast given in honor of the marriage of one of her sons to a princess of Russia! I take the cars to New York, then the boat to Liverpool; then I would run down to London, where I would get the train to Windsor Castle. There is a sentry walking up and down in front of the gate. If I hadn't my invitation, he would refuse me admittance; but there is not a soldier in the British army can keep me out, because I've got the Queen's invitation. But suppose the man looks at me and says: "You can't go into the presence of the Queen with those clothes; you are not fit to stand before the Queen." That is none of his business; that's hers. So the invitation comes from him, and he wants you to come, and he will clothe you in garments fit for his presence. You will be stripped of every rag of self-righteousness, and a robe of spotlessness will be put upon you.
A great many people say, "I want to become clean before I come to Christ." Now, my friends, that is the devil's work. He tries to get people to believe that they can't come without getting rid of their sins; but, as I've said, all through the scriptures he bids yon come as you are. We cannot take away our sins; come to him and he will blot them out. A few years ago, in London, there used to be a good many little children stolen to act as chimney-sweeps. A child was stolen from a wealthy family, and a great reward was offered; but it couldn't be found. This child had been kidnapped. One day he was sent up a chimney and came down on the other side, and into a beautiful room. The little fellow was bewildered. A lady was sitting there and recognized him as her son; and although the little fellow was covered with smut, she ran to him, and drew him to . her bosom; and that is the way Christ will receive you. You needn't try to get rid of one particle of sin; he wants to save you as you are. "Whosoever will, let him come and drink of the waters of life freely." Will you come to-day? The spirit and the bride invite you this afternoon.
Now I want to ask you what are you going to do with these tea loving invitations to-day—"Come and hear;" "Come and see;" "Come and reason;" "Come and rest;" "Come and eat and drink;" "Come aud dine;" "Come and find grace;" "Come unto the marriage;" "Come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" "Whosoever will, let him come." Ask God to help you to come to-day. If I were in your place, I would settle this question before I left this building; I would just press up to the kingdom of God, and take him at his word. Now would you just all lift up your hearts in prayer. Let every Christian pray for every soul here to-day out of Christ. Let us now just unite in this one petition, that every soul in this building may oome to Christ to-day.