•GOD IS ABLE."
"Yes. he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4.
I want to call your attention to one little word to-night that should be, and will be, of great help to you. That little word is "Able;" and I will try and snow you what God is able to do. First, you will find it in the 14th chapter of Romans, part of the 4th verse: "Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand." "For God is able," mark you, "to make him stand." When I first became a Christian, it was predicted by those who knew me that I would not hold out; that I would fall away in a few months. I used to fear and tremble myself; I was afraid I should fall. I knew nothing of the Bible; I was not acquainted with this precious Word. I do not think there were a dozen passages in the whole Word of God that I had committed to memory, and that I could quote. I did not know this blessed truth I have just read to you to-night, that God was able to make me stand. But I have since learned the truth of it; and I tell you to-night, if any of you young converts are full of fear, full of doubt, and at times have actually trembled in view of the temptations surrounding you, if you just lay hold of this precious word "Able," it will hold you up in all your pilgrimage, in all your journey, no matter how rough and hard. "God is able to make you stand." The God that can create a world like this, and can call it from nothing into existence—the God that can create life with a word—he certainly can make a poor sinner like you and me "stand" by his mighty power. He was able to make Moses stand, when exposed to the mighty temptations of Egypt. God enabled that other prophet to stand unterrified before the wicked Ahab. God enabled Daniel to stand in Babylon, when the whole city was against him. There he stood like a rock in the current of the river; the high, angry waves Sash up against him, but there he stood; stood upright in that great city, with all against him. And Paul, I believe, wrote this blessed text out of his own experience; God held him up, and God made him stand. God sent him forth to the Gentiles; but along with him he sent his grace and gave him power from on high, telling him to be strong, to ppeak against the iniquity of meu, and to testify against it.
And so, let me say, the God of Paul still lives; you have the same God Paul had. Oh, put your trust in God; look to him and pray to him; and he will give you strength; and he will make you stand right here in Chicago. Let no one fall; God has power enough; God has grace enough; God has strength enough,- to keep every young convert in the straight path, if only you will look to him, if only you will pray to him daily for strength.
Let me warn you to put not your strength in yourself. When you are strong—when you think you are strong—then you are very weak; that is the very time you are weakest. Paul says, "When I am weak, then am I strong." Our strength don't lie in ourselves; it lies in our redeemer. If my strength is in God, he will give me all power. If my strength is in myself, I will be constantly tumbling, constantly falling down. Therefore keep a fast hold on God, who alone is able to make you stand. I do not think a young convert will be able to stand by himself in a few years, or in many years. The stronger he gets, the stronger, too, grows the danger of his falling. The longer I live—the nearer I get to Christ—the more danger I see. The nearer a man gets to God, the more he constantly needs him. Man never becomes independent of God, but the longer he lives the less confidence he should have in himself. I find, in reading my Bible, that some of the most eminent men have fallen. They got self-confident; and when they became strong in themselves, they fell. Let no young convert become spiritually proud and lifted up; he can come to no victory in his own strength. Let him pray, and then the tempter will go from him. You find that men who have stood highest in this world have been men that have fallen, at different times, in their lives; and I think you will find they stumbled on this stone of trusting in their own strength.
Peter—how confident he was. Though all the rest denied their Lord, he never would; but in a few hours he denied his Lord, and swore he never knew him. Oh, how self-confident he was! And so, always when a man is self-confident, satisfied with himself, and lifted up, he cannot hope to stand alone; he is on dangerous ground; look out, he will slip and tumble headlong. We find men failing in their very strongest points. I don't know how it is, unless even in their citadel God wants to show them their weakness—that they cannot stand alone. Thus you remember the meek and humble Moses; and yet it was the very lack of his vaunted humility that kept him from the promised land. Again, take Elisha, the valliaut man. In the Old Testament, you find hardly any one more exalted, unless it was Joshua, Daniel, and Joseph. But you find this very man Elisha getting afraid, and frightened almost out of his life, just at a simple message. He was cast down by alarm, and could not stand before Ahab; in the midst of his strength, he was weak. So men fail in the strongest points of their character; for if men get to thinking they are able to stand alone, their strength becomes sudden weakness. If we put our confidence in character, in habit, in anything but the might of God, our fall is not far off. Now, what the text says is this: God is able to make us stand. You can't stand alone, young convert; but God can and will give you the power, and will keep your feet from falling.
I want to call your attention to the 2d chapter of Hebrews, the 18th verse: "For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Oh, blessed thought, that God has himself stood these temptations, and so can realize our needs. I believe these very trials and temptations are feent to us to give us character. Men who never have temptations, never have trials, are not good for much as Christians. I count these things as most of a Christian's discipline; and the more of these thorns in his side he gets, the better and stronger a Christian he becomes. We don't want any hothouse Christians, shut up from the world and never tempted, never tried; but battling bravely with these powers which Christ came down from heaven to fight in his person and to overcome. God himself was touched with a feeling of our infirmities, coming down to this world and being one of us. He took upon him your nature and mine; therefore he can appreciate our frailties and is able—yes, abundantly able—to succor them that are tempted. What we want is not to pray God to deliver us from temptations; that is not it; but we want to pray that we may overcome them. Thus, whenever the great tempter of souls comes down upon us, God will give us the power and the grace to overcome him, and to grow the stonger for the victory. Of nhnself, a man has' not power; but God will give him triumph over all temptations, if he is only asked to do it. Now let me say, right here, that if you are tempted, my friends, don't think that that is a sin. It is not a sin to be tempted; it is only sin when you yield to temptation; it is only sin when you listen to the tempter. He may come—we can't help that; but we want to resist him, and pray God to give us grace to overcome him and trample him under our feet. And every temptation we overcome gives us more strength to overcome the next one. So, little by little, we go on toward the fullness of the Christian character.
A great many temptations will assail you in Chicago, my dear young converts; a great many dangers await you. Should you be overcome, many who should help you may perhaps make spurt at von, mad possibly point the finger of ridicule at you, instead of sympathizing with you as they ought. I pray you not to get discouraged. Instead of getting down-hearted, go to God in prayer; go to Jesus, for he is able to succor you in the hour of temptation. He himself has gone through it all. No one was more laughed at, no one was more ridiculed, more scoffed at, more jeered at, than the Son of God was; and he can sympathize with you in all your hours of trial. Just ask of him help, and he will succor you speedily, and give you a glorious victory.
The next text I want to call your attention to is in 2nd Timothy: "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." Now bear in mind that you cannot keep your own soul; but He will keep it for us, if we believe the language of this text, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto him against that day. Some men may come to you and ask you what denomination you belong to—what persuasion you are of. Tell them you are of Paul's persuasion. Say, "I am persuaded that he Ib able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." I would advise you to belong to Paul's persuasion. I would rather be of Paul's persuasion than be in the Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist churches, and not have the truth of Paul's words sunk down in my heart. Denominations cannot keep you. A man may be a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Methodist, or Congregationalist, and still not be a Christian at heart. Remember, we can't keep ourselves, neither can churches keep us. The Son of God only can keep us. He is able to do it. The Son of God, who stooped from the throne of heaven and came into this world, is able to keep that which is committed unto him. Now, if a man lives in England, he wants to have his money in the bank of England. He thinks that bank is the safest in the land. I know a great many people in this country who send money there; they keep a regular bank account there. They think that that bank is safe, should anything happen. If anything should occur with this government, they are sure their deposits are all right there. The Son of God is better able to keep your souls than the bank of England is able to keep one pound of your money. And if we commit ourselves to him and trust him to keep us, he will keep us. Now, if you go to the Tower of London, you will see the crown of England. Men watch it, day and night. There is not one minute in the hour, nor hour in the twenty-four, but a soldier of the English army has his eye on that crown. Suppose it should be taken to Buckingham Palace, and it was then only under the protection of the Queen. How long would Queen Victoria hold it? Why, some thief would have it in twentyfour hours. That weak woman would not be able to hold it herself. But she could keep it a great deal better than we can keep our souls. We have three enemies to contend against: the world, the flesh and the devil, who are always striving to obtain the mastery over our souls. What can we do? There is one thing we can do. We can call upon our Elder Brother and he will keep us from all harm. And if you, young converts, just trust him to keep your souls he will keep them.
Then the next text is in the 2nd of Corinthians. 9: 8: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work." Now that brings us into the vineyard. The first tells us he "is able to make us stand;" then he "is able to succor us in the day of temptation;" the next tells us he is able to keep us; and now he tells us we are able to go out and work in his vineyard. Why? Because "God is able to make all grace abound toward vou." There is nothing that God calls us to do but that he will give us grace to do it. AU we have got to do is to come to the throne of God and get all the grace we need.
I hope you young converts have gone into the church to work. I hope that s what you propose to do; I hope you haven't gone into the church to rest and go to sleep. What you want is to find some work in your churches. Let every young convert cry, "O God, give me a soul." Try to win others to Christ. Suppose you commence to-night, and go right to work. I believe there is not a young convert in this building that cannot win at least one soul to Christ within thirty days, if they will. If they do this every thirty days, that will be twelve souls in twelve months. Suppose every young convert here led twelve souls to Christ in the next year, what would be the state of affairs in Chicago at the end of a year? Why, what a host of new-born souls! What a shout of hallelujahs would be going up to the throne of God. It seems to me an easy thing to do. He has-got plenty of grace for you. Lift up your voices for the Son of God. Go into the lanes and alleys of the city, into the garrets and down in the slams, into the places where sin abounds. Find a poor, lost one, and tell him of Christ and heaven. I pity, from the depths of my heart, that Christian who can't help his brother to obtain salvation. He tells us to enter his vineyard and work for him. I remember I had a picture that I thought a good deal of. It was of a woman coming up out of water with both arms around the cross; I thought it was beautiful. But one day, I was going along the street and I saw in a window another picture. It was of a woman coming up from the waters of death. She had one arm around the cross, and with the other she was helping the struggling people around her, up to where she was. I didn't think much of the first picture then. I thought it was like a good many Christians. They had both arms clasped tightly around the cross, and gave no assistance to those struggling around them. If the Son of God pulls you out of the pit of darkness and puts a new song into your mouth, don't you hold your peace. He said to the man from whom he cast out the devils: "Go home, and tell your friends what great things the Lord has done for you." That man had a mighty power in that little town; and the young converts here have a power as great. I don't, know any class that has more power for good in Chicago to-day than those young converts. One of those men who were dead in trespasses and sin by his testimony can do an immense amount of good. 1 see many young converts in this audience who, by their testimony, have led scores to Christ. I was some montfis a Christian before I led any one to Christ. I didn't know anybody to tell me how to set about it. But after a while I got led out into the vineyard, and I thanked God I was led out. I say to you, my dear young converts, go out into the world and bear witness of what he has done for you; and your reward in winning souls will be great.
Go to a minister and to a church where you can find something to do. If you don't find it in the first one, go somewhere else; and if it isn't to be found in that church, with that minister, you just go to a third church. Keep going until you find a home where they will put you to work. Don't stand on ceremony, but pitch in. And don't despise doing humble work. Whatever is done for the Lord Jesus is honorable. One of the holiest and most successful missionaries wanted to be sont out to preach. But some objected, thinking ill of his talents. Finally, at his persistent requests, they asked him if he would go out and teach school among the heathen instead of preaching to them. He gladly went, and soon his marvelous talent for winning souls asserted itself, and every one did him honor. Yes, the temple of God is worth working for, in any capacity; if need be, do not despise being hewers of wood and drawers of water, and in due time promotion will come. The trouble is, too many are willing to do only great things. Go out to the streets and take up the dirty little ragged boys, the poor children of some poor mother who has gone down to her grave, perhaps, with a broken heart over a husband's drunkenness. Take the little urchins by the hand, and take them to the Sabbath-school. By and by, if you earn it, God will' promote you; or that little boy you have saved may become a Martin Luther, a Sommerfield, a Wesley, who can tell; and so, through your bumble effort, the brightest jewels may shine in the Lord's crown as eternal ages roll on. Inconceivable results may reach out from your poor efforts. Millions yet unborn may be brought to the kingdom of God. My friends, labor! Let that be your watchword. We have no higher privilege than to thus toil for others; it saves them, and keeps ourselves true to oui God. I do assure you, I have had a new joy since I began working for souls. And the more I work and preach, the more joy and satisfaction come to my soul. Wherefore let us all labor diligently, if we would have the full ben
efit of our religion; if we would keep alive and bright our own faith and devotion.
The next thing I call your attention to is in the 4th chapter of Romans, and the 20th verse: "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform." This is another "Able" I want to impress upon you; and this is, that God is able to do all he has promised. He promised, when he left this world, to send down the Comforter, and told the disciples to wait at Jerusalem for power from on high. And lo, when they had tarried there ten days, the Holy Ghost came as Christ had promised. And he promises still to send the Comforter, to all that pray for that best of gifts. Then think of Joshua, how, when he was going to die, he gathered the elders before him and reviewed the forty years of his life in Egypt, the forty in the desert, and then the thirty in the land of promise: how he lifted up his voice, and testified to the full and complete fulfillment of the promises of God: "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one good thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and ye know that not one thing hath failed thereof." And just as in the days of Joshua, God bringeth to pass all his Word; not one of his promises shall fail, but he is fulfilling them all to-day. Whenever you begin to doubt God's Word, think of all his prophets and their testimony, and then trust in him always. Now, let me say to these young converts, I hope you will rely implicitly on the precious promises of God's Word. Make them your stay and support, in all your warfare.
Then the next time this blessed word comes is in the 3rd ohapter of Ephesians, 20th verse: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." When we first came to Chicago we did ,not dare expect half the good things that God had in store for us; we did not dare to hope for the results which have come about, my friends. The Lord is able and willing, if we work diligently, to give us far beyond what we ask or hope for.
Again, I would call your attention to another text. You will find it in the 24th verse of Jude: "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling." Let me say, right here, that some young converts have an idea that there is such a thing as worldliness and backsliding in their heart, because they have heard of other men who have been converted drifting back. But it is a privilege of every child of God to know that you can be kept from falling, from this night, from this hour. Our Savior is able to help every one of you. I have taken a motto for the year, and I would like to have every one of you young converts take it also. It is in Isaiah 41:13: "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand." Now, if the God of heaven has got hold of my right hand, how am I going to fall? The thing is impossible. I have a divine power sustaining and leading me through this dark world. May this motto sink deep down into the heart of every young convert here: "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand." And as you go along, don't you forget where you came from. It does us a great deal of good to look into the pit from whence we came. The text in Deuteronomy 32:10, will apply to you then: "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye."
There is an institution in London, in connection with which a gentlemen of wealth has done a great deal of good. He went down to to the Seven Dials, one of the worst places in London, and there he used to stay till 2 o'clock in the morning, picking up young street Arabs, and taking them into the house of shelter. That man has spent thousands of pounds in that quarter of London. When I was there, he had upward of 300 young men, whom he had brought from those slums, who were some in China, others in Australia, and some in this country. When he would take them from the horrible pit, he would go and get their photographs taken, in their rags and dirt. Then they were taken to a bath and given new clothes. They were put into an institution, taught a trade, and not only the rules of life, but every one of them was taught to read his Bible. After keeping them a few years and educating them, before they left, they were taken to a photograph gallery and had their picture taken, and both were given them. This was to show them the condition in which the institution found them, and that in which it left them. So, my friends, remember where God found you. Remember that he found someof you asagambler, adrunkard, some ofyou standing on the very borders of hell, with all its horrors upon you; remember that some of you were in such a condition that you could see snakes all around you, and that he lifted you from the pit, and placed you on a rock of safety, and put a new song in your mouth. And let there go up from you a song of gratitude, thanking God that he has stooped down and lifted you out from the darkness of hell. .Praise God and work for him. I think it is one of the greatest privileges of Christian life that we can go out and work for the Son of God. Let me call your attention to this portion of Scripture, probably the last that will ever be read my me in this hall. You will find it in the 20th chapter of Acts, and it is Paul's farewell:
"And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner 1 have been with you at all seasons. Serving the Lord with all
humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of trie Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in th& spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I nave gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves,and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he had purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing th» flock.
"Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
This is a point I want to call attention to.
"I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."
"I commend you"—and in this connection, I want to tell you how the God of all grace has kept me. For nearly twenty-one years he has watched over me. He has watched over me and stood by me in thehour of temptation and trial; he has brought light to me out of darkness; and he will do the same with you. In leaving you, young converts, I would like to leave with you two "W's—the one is Work and the other is the Word; or, rather, the first is the Word and the other is Work. Go out and work for him, and you will become strong Christians. There are two lives you want to lead. The one is your inner life, that the world knows nothing of, that the wife of your bosom knows nothing of. That life is between yourself and God; and if you don't lead this aright, the outer life will not be longright. Let me say to you, young converts, read your Bibles and you will be strong. If you don't, you will fall; and the men who are now scoffing at this movement will say: "I told you you would fall back again; the meetings have been only an emotional excitement; only a sensation." I pray that Almighty God may keep you. Just have those two W's before you—the Word and Work; and make that your banner. I •would pray the young converts not to bring disgrace to the family of God into which they have entered. Let them be faithful. You are no longer your own, but you have been bought by Christ. If you do anything wrong, go and take it to Christ. In him, we have an advocate with the Father. It does not follow that, because you have committed a sin, you are not a Christian. It is only when you sin and want to remain in sin that you cease to be a Christian. If you see one of those young converts overtaken by sin, go and try to lift him out of it. Don't try to help the devil to keep him down. Try to get that young convert on his feet. If you see one of those saved drunkards falling back again, go and try to wean him from his danger. Go and tell him Christ is full of mercy and love, and wants to take him back again. Peter asked him if he should forgive his brother seven times. I can imagine the expression on his face as he answered: "Seven times, Peter? Why, forgive him seven times seventy times." If the Lord forgives so freely, shan't we forgive every man? If any man among you is led astray, let his brother try to get him back again.
I hate to say farewell. I cannot tell you howl have enjoyed myself here during the past three months. When we came back from Europe, I wanted to come here first; but to be honest with you, I was rather afraid. I was afraid the ministers would not come together, as they did in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other places we had visited; but since I have been here, I have never had such a band of ministers standing so close by me. The first Sunday morning I had a perfect host come to me and shake me by the hand; and when my brother was taken from me, they gave me the kindest sympathy. I want to thank God for the co-operation of the ministry; for, if we had not had such co-operation, our work would not have been near so great. While in Boston, there will be many a prayer going up for the ministers in Chicago. Let me thank you, dear ministers of God, for your sympathy and prayers. The next class I want to thank is the press. I cannot tell you how grateful I feel toward that body. I have to hear the first unkind word said against me by the daily press. May the blessings of heaven rest upon every member of the press of Chicago. The ushers, for their courtesy, the choir, for their regularity and service, the business men, for what they have done in giving such a building and donating so liberally toward this work, I also sincerely thank.
Twenty-one years ago, I gave myself to work for souls and bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ. And I tell you from experience, do not neglect private or public prayer; only so can you fit yourself for work to become effective Christians. This is my experience. By this power we have done what we have in this city; and by this power we look for a more wonderful work in Boston. I want you all, in your closets and homes, fr lift up your hearts, at least one* » day, in prayer for the work io Boston. Every night at 7 o'clock— for it will then be 8 o'clock in Boston, and our meeting -will be commencing—call upon God wherever you are, just lift up your hearts to God in prayer. Just ask God that power may be given from heaven, so that there may be a greater work in Boston than has ever been know, on this continent. I am looking for great things in Boston; T am expecting_a richer manifestation of divine grace than has yet been shown.
Let me say, in closing, go on to higher and higher things; continue to get nearer and nearer to God. I remember a few years ago, a little child died, and just before his soul went home, he asked his father to lift him up; and the father put his hand under the head of his child and raised it up. But the child only said: "That is not enough; that is not what I want; lift me right up." The child was wasted all to skin and bones; but still his father complied, and lifted the dying child out of his bed. But the little fellow kept whispering, fainter and fainter, "Lift me higher, higher, higher!" And the father lifted higher and higher, till he lifted nim as far as he could reach. Yet, still the barely audible whisper came, "Higher, father, higher," till at last his head fell back, and his spirit passed up to the eternal King—high at last. So, my dear friends, let your constant cry be higher, higher; more near the cross of the Son of God. Now, as an old gentleman attending a convention in the Western country could not bring himself to say farewell to his beloved hearers—the word seemed to choke him—and could only manage to falter out, "I bid you good night," just so I cannot eay good-bye, farewell, to you—and yet we must part. I must leave you; and in his words I merely say to you, "Good night." A dawn will come up yonder; and though never perhaps before that, I expect to meet you in the resurrection hour. So I bid you "Goodnight;" and, by the grace of God, we will meet in the morning.