ON SAVING CHILDREN.
uBring him unto me." Mark 9: 19.
I have had a little trouble to find a text for to-night. All last night and this morning I was trying to find one, but could not This morning, however, in coming out of Far well Hall prayer-meeting, a mother, whom I have known for a great many years, came to me with tears running down her cheeks, and, with grief, nearly sinking to the floor. "Oh! Mr. Moody," she said, "have these meetings to close and not one of my children saved?" And the thought flashed on my mind, I have got a text; and it is in the ninth chapter of Mark, which we have read: "Bring him unto me." The disciples had failed to cure this man's son. James and John and Peter had been with the Master upon the mount, where they had seen tb« transfiguration; and when they came down from that scene, they found a great company around his disciples, asking them questions. I suppose the skeptics were laughing and ridiculing the religion of Jesus Christ and its teachers. His disciples had failed; they had not been able to cast out the dumb spirit. And the father said, when asked a question: "I have brought my son to your disciples, and they cannot heal him;" and he said, "Bring him unto me." When he was brought, the devil threw him down. The moment the poor deaf and dumb man came into the presence of Christ, the spirit within began to tear at him. This is often the case now. Sometimes, when there is a good deal of prayer going up for people, they become worse. When the Spirit begins with men, instead of getting better, they sometimes become worse, and it seems as if God did not answer prayer; but this is only a sign that God is at work. A mother was praying for and giving good council to a loved son lately; and he said, if ever she spoke to him about religion again he would leave the house. Whenever the word was presented to him, he became worse. That mother did not take her son to the preachers, but, thank God, she took him to Christ. She didn't take him to the church, she did not take him to her friends; she knew that if he was to be saved, it was only by Jesus Christ. She took him to the Master; and the result was that within forty-eight hours after saying this to his mother, that wayward boy was brought to the feet of Jesus. So if any have been praying earnestly and faithfully for their sons without success, my dear friends, get your eyes off the church, off friends, off everything else but him, and let your prayer go up day and night; and it will be heard, because we have God's Word for it. An answer is sure. We are not sure whether the sun will rise to-morrow morning; but we are sure that he will answer our prayers. It is sure. If we hold on to God in prayer, and find that we don't get our supplications answered in a month, or in a year; we are to hold on till the blessing comes. Now, it may be that this mother, like a great many mothers, has befcn looking to the prayers here—looking to what has been going on in these meetings, and has been saving; "There are so many Christian people praying; and surely God will bless my boys, owing to these prayers." Now, we must get our eyes from off multitudes, from sermons, from others' prayers, and let all our expectations be only from him; and a blessing will come. These meetings have been very profitable; and during the weeks past, I have noticed that those fathers and mothers who have gone out after other people's children, have had their own wonderfully blessed. Whatever good you do to other people's children, the reflex will come back upon yours. It may be that that mother was very selfish, and wanted her sons blessed only; she hasn't, perhaps, been trying to bring others under the influence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day, fathers and mothers come to me with tears in their eyes—fathers and mothers who have gone out after other people's children—testifying how their children have been blessed. A mother who has been working for him here, told me that her five children—every one of them—had been blessed by these meetings; and I suppose that, if I put it to the vote, many parents here would stand up and testify as to the answers received tc prayers and personal efforts for their children. I was very much surprised, lately, to see an old citizen coming into our meetings with a wayward son by his side, night after night. Every evening he was to be seen with him; and last Monday evening he got up and told what God had done for him in answer to personal effort. That father got woke up, and did not rest till he was answered.
Now it seems to me, just as we are leaving this city, that a great
many parents are beginning to wake up to the fact that these meeting are about to be closed, and their children have not been blessed. When we were in Great Britain, in Manchester, a father woke up to the fact that we were going away from that town. Just as we were about closing, he got wonderfully interested in the meetings; and when we had gone to another town, he said to his wife: "I have made a mistake; I should have taken you and the children and the servants to those meetings. Now I'm going to take my son from business, and take you and the children and the servants to the town where they are being held now, and take a house, and have you all attend the meetings. He came and took a house, and sat down determined to remain there till all had been blessed. I remember him coming to me one night, soon after arriving, and saying: "Mr. Moody, my wife has got converted. Thank God for that. If I get nothing else, I am well paid." A few nights after, he came in and said his son had become converted; and then he told me one of the servants had been brought under the influence. And so be went on, until the last day we were to be in that town arrived, and he came to me and said the last one of the family had yielded himself up to Christ; and he went back to his'native city rejoicing. When we were in London, the father and son came up and assisted in the work; and I don't know a happier man in all Europe than that one. How many parents, living almost within sight of this building, have felt no interest in these meetings; yet they know their children are hastening down to death and ruin. "Business must be attended to:" "time is very precious." And so they have suffered these precious opportunities to go to waste, by a neglect to bring their sons and daughters under religious influences; and the result will be that many and many a family in this city will see dark days and bitter hours, and many a parent will go down to the grave on account of wayward children. Now, why won't you, even in the closing hours of these meetings—why won't parents wake up and bring their children to Christ; just hold them up in the arms of their faith, and pray: "Lord Jesus, save these children that God has given me. Grant, O God, that they may be with me in glory."
It may be that some father or mother is saying: "I have not been living right myself in God's sight; so how can I talk to my children of him?" It seems to me, the best thing to do under those circumstances is to make a confession. I know a father who, a few davs ago, told his children that he had not been living right. The tears rolled down his cheeks as he asked their forgiveness. "Why," said one child, "do you ask us for forgiveness? Why, father, you hare always been kind to us?" "I know I have, my child," he answered; "but I have not been doing my whole duty toward you. I've never had a family altar; I have paid more heed to your temporal welfare than to your spiritual: but I am going to have a family altar now." tie took down his Bible, and began there; and it wasn't long before his children were touched. Suppose you haven't been living in accordance with the gospel: why not make an open confession to your wife, and to your children? Set up a family altar, and pray for yout children; and it will not be long before you will be blessed. Let us come to him. Let us look straight away from the churches; let us look from every influence to only the Master himself; and let his words ring in the soul of every parent here to-night: "Bring him unto me." Have you got a wayward son? He may be in some distant State, or foreign land; and by the last news you received of him, was rushing headlong down to ruin. My friend, you can reach him; you can reach him by intercession at the throne. A short time after I got here, I received a letter from Scotland. I haven't time to read it. The letter was sent to a minister, and he forwarded it to me. It was the out-gushing of a loving father. He asked us to look out for his boy, whose name was Willie. That name touched my heart, because it was the name of my own boy. I asked Mr. Sawyer to try and get on the track of that boy some weeks ago; but all his efforts were fruitless. But, away off in Scotland, that Christian father was holding that boy up to God in prayer; and last Friday, in yonder room, among those asking for prayer was that Willie. And he told me a story there that thrilled my heart, and testified how the prayers of that father and mother, in that far-off land, had been instrumental in affecting his salvation. Don't you think the heart of that father and mother will rejoice? He said he was rushing madly to destruction; but there was a power in those prayers that saved that boy. Don't you think, my friends, that God hears and answers prayer; and shall we not lift up our voices to him, that he will bless the children he has given us?
You know how Elisha was blessed by the Shunamite woman, and she was blessed in return by a child. You know how the child died, and how she resolved to go at once to the man of God. I can imagine Elisha sitting on Mount Carmel, and seeing that woman afar off, and saying to his servant: "Do you see that woman? I think I know her face. It is the Shunamite, now that I see her face. Go run, and ask her, Is it well with her." Off the servant runs, and when the servant came to her, she said, "It is well." Although her child was dead, she said, "It is well." She knew that the man who gave her the child could raise it up. She runs up to the Master, and falls down, putting her arms about his feet; and the servant tried to put her away. But Elisha wouldn't let him. He says to the servant: •• Here, take this staff, and go and lay it upon the face of the dead child;" and tell the servant to go home with her. But she won't leave the man of God. She doesn't want to lean upon the staff, or the servant. It wasn't the servant, or the staff, that she wanted, but the man of God that she wanted with her. "You1 come with me," she says; "you can raise it up." She would not leave him till he came to her house. He went in and closed the door, and prayed to God that the child should be restored, and then lay upon the child, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands; and the child began to sneeze, and there was the child of the Shunamite woman raised up. Bear in mind that it was not the servant nor the staff, but the Master himself that saved the child. My friends, if we lean upon the Master, we shall not be disappointed. The moment that child was brought to the Master, the wish of that woman was granted; and if we, as parents, bring our children to him, we shall not be disappointed."
But there is another thing I want to call your attention to. We don't fast enough. This fasting don't mean fasting from meat, as many people think to be necessary. It seems to me, if I had a wayward boy, I should put myself at the feet of Christ, and fast a little, by keeping away from amusements, from theatres. I find a great many worldly Christians going off into the theatres. They say: "I only go for a little relaxation; of course, I could stop going whenever I like, and needn't be influenced by them; I only go occasionally." A worldly Christian said to me, "I only go once a month." "Well," said I, "how about your boy? He may not have the willpower you have; and your example, in going only once a month, may only be the means of his going there all the time." A man, my friends, may have great will-power; yet his son may have very little. And, therefore, a little fasting in this regard would he good for our children. We should abstain from all pleasures that are liable to be hurtful to our children. If you, fathers and mothers, want your children to keep from evil influences, you ought to keep away from them yourselves. If they see you indulging in these pleasures, they think they are on the right side by doing the same thing. A young man says: "I don't want to be any better than my father; and he goes to the theatres." Now, there are young men who have come into the inquiry-rooms one night, and the next night have gone off to the theatres. I don't know how a man with the Spirit of God could go there. These men may one night be here, and the next night may go off to some amusement, where they hear as a waltz: "What Shall the Harvest Be;" or, "Almost Persuaded." How Christian men and women can go to such places as that, I cannot conceive. If it is not sacrilege, then nothing is. What can those worldly Christians expect from their children, if they frequent such places? I think the time has come for a little fasting. When Christ died, it was to separate his church from the world; and how can a man, who has consecrated himself as a. child of God, go back to the world without trampling that b'.ood under his feet? When will the day oome when a man of God shall make known by his conversation, by his actions, by his general appearance, that he has been freed from the curse of the world?
Then another thing. It seem to me that every man should have a family altar in his Bouse. And if we cannot deliver prayers, let us take up each of our children by name; let us ask that Johnny, while playing with his schoolmates, may be kept from temptation. Why, we forget that a little child's temptations are just as much to him as ours are to us. The boy at school has just as heavy trials as we have. And then pray for Mary. If she is in trouble, bring it out, arid pray that God may give her power to overcome any besetting sin that she may have in her heart. I believe the day has come when we should have more religion in our families, more family altars. I believe that the want of this is doing more injury to the growth of our children than anything else. \Vhy, long before the church was in a building, it was in the homes of the people. We can make the family altar a source of happiness. By it we can make the home the pleasantest place in the world. Let us, when we get up in the morning, bright and fresh, have some family devotions. If a man runs down town immediately on eetting up, and don't get home until five o'clock, and then has family devotions, the children will be tired and so go sound asleep. And it seems to me that we should give a little more time to our children, and call them around the altar in the morning. Or, suppose we ask them to recite a vefte, to recite a portion of anymn—it must not necessarily be a long one; and after that have some singing, if the children can sing. Do not be in a hurry to get it out of the way, as if the service was a nuisance. Take a little time. Let them sing some religious hymns. The singing need not be all psalms, but there should be a few simple religious hymns. Let the little children be free from all restraint. Then pray for each of them.
Another thing. It seems to me that we devote too little time to studying the Sunday-school lesson. You know, now we have a uniform lesson all over the country. That lesson should be taken up by parents, and they should try to explain it to their children. But how many ever think of this? How many parents ever take the trouble to inquire even as to the kind of Sunday-school teachers who instruct their children. And then we should take our children into the churches with us. It seems to me we are retrograding, at the present day. A great many of our children are never seen in the churches at all. Even if the sermon don't touch them, they are getting into good habits. And then, if the minister says a weak thing, don't take it up; don't pick it out or speak of it before the children, because you are bringing your minister in to disrespect with your children. If you have got a minister whom you cannot respect, you ought to get out of that church as soon as you can. Encourage them to bring the text home; let the Word be spoken to them at all
times, in season and out of season. If the great Bible truths sink down into their hearts, the fruit will be precious; wisdom will blossom upon them, and they will become useful in the Church, and in the world. Now, how many parents will not take the trouble to explain to the children what the minister preaches. Take your children into the pews, and let them hear the Word of God; and if they do not understand it, show it to them. You know the meat they require is the same as we feed on; but if the pieces are too large for them, we must cut it up for them—cut it finer. If the sermon is a hard one, out it into thin slices, so that they can take it. There was a time when our little boy did not like to go to church, and would get up in the morning and say to his mother, " What day is to-morrow?'' "Tuesday." "Next day?" "Wednesday." "Next day?" "Thursday;" and so on, till he came to the answer, "Sunday." "Dear me," he would moan. I said to his mother: "We cannot have our boy grow up to hate Sunday in that way; that will never do." That is the way I -used to feel, when I was a boy. I used to look upon Sunday with a certain amount of dread. Very few kind words were associated with that day. I don't know that the minister ever said a kind thing, or ever even put his hand on my head. I don't know that the minister even noticed me, unless it was when I was asleep in the gallery, and he woke me up. This kind of thing won't do. We must make the Sunday the most attractive day of the week; not a day to be dreaded, but a day of pleasure. Well, the mother took the work up with this boy. Bless those mothers in their work with the children. Sometimes I feel as if I would rather be the mother of John Wesley, or Martin Luther, or John Knox, than have all the glories in the world. Those mothers, who are faithful with the children God has given them, will not go unrewarded. My wife went to work and took those Bible stories, and put those blessed truths in a light that the child could comprehend, and soon the feeling of dread for the Sabbath with the boy was the other way. "What day is to-morrow?" he would ask. "Sunday." "I am so glad." And if we make these Bible truths interesting—break them up, in some shape, so that these children can get at them, then thev will begin to enjoy them. Now, there's no influence like a mother's; and if the mothers will give a little time to the children in this way, and read them some Bible story, or tell them it in a simple way, it will not be long before the child knows the Bible, from beginning to end. I know a little boy, eleven years of age, who got up last Monday in the meeting, and told how he found Christ. His father began by telling him Bible stories, and now he knows them as well as I do. The little fellow of eleven years is quite a preacher. Let us pick out the stories that will interest them, from Genesis to Revelation, and that is the way to bring our children to Christ. It will fill them with the gospel—fill them with Christ. They will soon be so full of Jesus that, when an infidel comes to unseat their faith, he will find no room for infidelity.
Now, the New Year's day is coming on. I haven't much time to speak about that now; but let me ask, What are you going to do when the young men come to your homes on that day? Are you
cup; don't be the instruments to lead the children of others away i the God of their fathers. , I hope that, in this city, this infernal custom will soon be* swept away. The idea of having some of our best young men reeling on the streets beastly drunk, on the first day of the year, is revolting; and yet there are Christians who, when young men visit them on New Year's day, just urge the cup on them— press them to take it. They have got some new kind of wine, and they want them to taste it, and urge the young man just to take a little; and the young man hasn't got will, hasn't got back-bone enough to resist the temptation; hasn't the power to say, No. He goes to another house and the same thing is repeated, and so on, until at night the poor fellow goes home intoxicated, and breaks the heart of some mother. Remember, when you offer the cup, if it is not to your own boy, it is to somebody else's boy. I have a great respect for that old woman who, with ribbons flying, ran into a crowded thoroughfare and rescued a child from under a wagon. Some one asked her, "Is it your child?" "No," she replied, "but it is some one's child." She had a mother's heart; and bear in mind when a young man comes to you, as you put the cup before him —remember, he is some other one's child. God has given us a charge, not only in looking to the salvation of our own children; but we have to see to the salvation of the children of others.
Now, let me say a word to the unfaithful fathers. At the close of this meeting, if you have been unfaithful to the children God has given you, why not stay, and then go home and make an honest confession to your children. If you have a boy who is a reckless young man; if he is a drunkard, ask yourselves: "Have I done all that I could? have I ever set before him the truth of Christ?" Not long •go, a young man went home late. He had been in the habit of going home late, and the father began to mistrust that he had gone astray. He told his wife to go to bed, and dismissed the servants, and said he would sit up till his son came home. The boy came home drunk, and the father in his anger gave him a push into the street and told him never to enter his house again, and shut the door. He went into the parlor and sat down, and began to think: "Well, I may be to blame for that boy's conduct, after all. 1 have never prayed with him; I have never warned him of the dangers of the world." And the result of his reflections was that he put on his overcoat and hat, and started out to find his boy. The farst policeman he met he asked eagerly, "Have you seen my boy?" "No." On he went till he met another. "Have you seen anything of my son?" He ran from one to another all that night, but not until morning did he find him. He took him by the arm and led him home, and kept him till he was sober. Then he said: "My dear boy, 1 want you to forgive me. I've never prayed for you; I've never lifted my heart to God for you; I've been the means of leading you astray, and I want your forgiveness." The boy was touched, and what wag the result? Within twenty-four hours that son became a convert, and gave up that cup. It may be that some father has had a wayward son. Go to God, and on your knees confess it. Let the voice of Jesus sink down in your heart to-night. "Bring him unto me." A father, whom I have known for many years, said to me this afternoon, with tears trickling down his cheeks: "I want to tell you something that I have never told in public. Forty-three years ago, when I was five years old, I was sick with scarlet fever; and my mother knelt down and prayed to God, if it was his will, that her boy might be spared. My father was a drinking man, and she also prayed that I might be kept safe from the cup. My mother died early; but my mother's prayer has followed me all those years, and I have never touched one drop of liquor." Last night a young man, the son of that man, got up and told his experience. Yes, the mother's prayer for her little boy, five years old, was answered. That prayer was answered. Why shall we not lift up our hearts in prayer for our children? Let us plead, day and night, till God saves them — till he brings them into the ark of safety. May the God of Israel save our children.
I remember being in the camp, and a man eame to me and said: "Mr. Moody, when the Mexican war began I wanted to enlist. My mother, seeing I was resolved, said if I became a Christian I might go. She pleaded and prayed that I might become a Christian; bat I wouldn't. I said, when the war was over I would become a Christian, but not till then. All her pleading was in vain; and at last, when I was going away, she took out a watch and said: 'My son, your father left this to me when he died. Take it: and I want you to remember that every day, at twelve o'clock, your mother will be praving for you.' Then she gave me her Bible, and marked out passages, and put a few different references in the fly-leaf. I took th« watch and it was twelve o'clock. I had been gone four month; bat I remembered that my mother at that hour was praying for me. Something prompted me to ask the officer to relieve me for a little; and I stepped behind a tree, away out on those plains of Mexico, and cried to the God of my mother to save me." My friends, God saved him, anrl he went through the Mexican war: "And now," he said, "I have enlisted again to see if I can do any good for my Master's cause;" and the old man was down among the soldiers there, preaching Christ. My friends, let us believe that God answers prayer, and let us not cease our supplication till salvation comes to our children, and all our little ones are brought into the ark of safety. Let us all unite in prayer.