THE GOSPEL GIFT.
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: and he that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark16: 15,16.
You'll find my text to-night in the 16th chapter of Mark, 15th md 16th verses: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; and he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." I like these kinds of texts—they've got such a sweep in them; they take in everybody. You know the great difficulty is to make all people believe that you are preaching to them individuallyA. text like this to-night takes in everyone. It says: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Don't leave out one. When he delivered this command to his followers, he was on his way home—to the land where all knew him, and all loved him. Gethsemane, with its hours of agony and blood, was over. He could aow look beyond it. He had been brought before Pilate and also before the Sanhedrim, and had been tried and condemned. All that was past. Calvary, with all its horrors, was over, and the empty sepulchre lay behind him; and he stood with a little body of believers around him, with a little handful of men, who had stood by him in his conflict with the Pharisees and priests; and now he was giving them his parting words—a mission, as it were. It was the Captain of our salvation, telling his warriors what .to do after he Wm gone. In a few minutes he was to be caught up into heaven. They were the words of the resurrected man—a man who had gone down and gounded the depths of the grave; a man who had gone down and conquered the lion of hell, and now stood on resurrection ground as he said: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Now, I want to ask you the question: Do you believe he would send those men out to preach the gospel to every creature unlest he wanted every creature to be saved? Do you believe he would tell them to preach it to people, without giving people the power to ac-. cept it? Do you believe that the God of heaven is mocking men by offering them this gospel; and not giving them the power to take hold of it? Do you believe he will not give men power to accept this salvation, as a gift. Man might do that; but God never mock* men. And when he says, "Preach the gospel .to every creature;" every creature can be saved, if he will. For 1800 years, the heralds of the Cross have been crossing seas and fording rivers, have been enduring hardships and persecution, in testifying to the people these glorious truths of the gospel. Their spirits have gone up amid flames and tortures; and they have died in prison, because of their preaching of the gospel. To-day, we live in an open land, where the gospel is as free as the air. Remember that it cost all God had to give it; and every poor, miserable sinner on the earth can be savedf or nothing. It is free to all; but don't forget that it cost God the Son of his love, the Son of his bosom, to redeem a rebellious world. If you are saved, bear this in mind, that it is a free gift; but it cost God everything. Its reading is that whosoever believes it, within the sound of my voice, can have it. Some people come tome and say: "Mr. Moody, don't you feel a great responsibility when you come before an audience like this; don't you feel a great weight vpon your shoulders?" "Well," I say, "no; I cannot oonvert men; I can only proclaim the gospel." Not only that, but I tell you that God gives me a mission to preach it to every creature—I don't care to what nationality you belong, what has been your early training, how far you are sunk in iniquity—I don't care who or what you may be; I tell you to-night you have either to receive the gospel and be saved, or reject it and be damned. There's the scripture. I was talking to a man this morning, and I asked him, "Would you like to become a Christian?" "No, sir." "You would rather be damned, eh?" "Well, I wouldn't exactly like to put it that way," he replied. "Well," I said, "that's the way you're putting it." My friends, let's put it in plain English, so that we can get hold of it. Are there any here to-night who are willing to say coolly and calmly and deliberately: "I don't want salvation as a gift; I don't want to be saved"? Would you rather go down fighting God and the Son of his love, than accept them and be saved? Now, the invitation is to every one. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is so hard to make people believe it is for them—to make them take it right home. Mr. Spurgeon told me that he once went to his orphanage on a visit. He said that a great many of those orphans had uncles and aunts, and cousins and sisters, who brought them Christmas presents. While he Whs on this visit a little boy came to him and said, "Mr. Spurgeon, will you let me talk to you a minute?" "Yes, my boy; wnat is it you want?" "Weil," said he, "Mr. Spurgeon, suppose vou were a poor little boy and had no aunts or cousins, or sisters or brothers, and had nobody to bring you any presents; and you saw others who had uncles and aunts, and cousins and sisters, and who brought presents to them, wouldn't you feel bad?" "Why, yes," replied Mr. Spurgeon. "That's me; that's me," said the boy. He got Mr. Spurgeon right down to the point; and so, if men would just aay: "This gospel is for us; I believe it is for myself," there would
be hope for them being saved. Now, I don't see how you can get away from this text to-night; it is put so plain. Don't reject it any longer, my friends. Every time you hear it, your heart is getting harder and harder; and you will, the longer you keep away, have more difficulty in bending your will to its acceptance. I tell yon, you will have to do either of two things to-night—reject it, or receive it. I remember a man, upon hearing this, getting up in a furious passion, and stamping up and down. "The idea of anyone saying we've got to receive it or reject it." He didn't like the plain statement. Well, my friends, can we tell you anything else? The audience must be divided into two classes; those who will receive it, and those who will reject it. It is for you to decide on which side you will be. As many as receive it, he will give power to become the sons and daughters of men.
The question is. What are you going to do with God's gift tonight? The question comes home to every one within this building. What are you going to do with the gift of God's love? You must either trample him under your feet, and make light of what he has offered us; or you must receive him as our way, our truth, our light I was down at the Ohio Penitentiary a few years ago, and the chaplain said to me: "I want to tell you a scene that occurred some time ago. Our Commissioner went to the Governor of the State, and asked him if he wouldn't pardon out five men at the end of sbt months who stood highest on the list for good behavior. The Governor consented, and the record was to be kept secret; the men were not to know anything«about. The six months rolled away, and the prisoners were all brought up—1,100 of them; and the President of the commission came up and said: 'I hold in my hand pardons for five men.' I never witnessed anything like it. Every man held his breath; and you could almost hear the throbbing of every man's heart. 'Pardons for five men!' and the Commissioner went on to tell the men how they had got these pardons—how the Governor had given them; but the chaplain said the suspense was so great that he told the Commissioner to read the names first, and tell the Teason afterward. The first name was called—'Reuben Johnson'— .and he held out the pardon; but not a man moved. He looked all Around, expecting to see a man spring to his feet at once; but no one moved. The Commissioner turned to the officer of the prison, and inquired: 'Are all the convicts here?* 'Yes,' was the replj. 'Reuben Johnson, come forward and get your pardon; you are no longer a criminal.' Still no one moved. The real Reuben Johnson was looking all the time behind him, and around him, to see where Reuben was. The chaplain saw him standing right in front of the Commissioner, and beckoned to him; but he only turned and looked around him, thinking that the chaplain must mean some other Reuben. A second time he beckoned to Reuben, and called to him; and a second time the man looked around. At last the chaplain said to him: 'You are the Reuben.' He had been there for nineteen years, having been placed there for life: and he could not conceive it would be for him. At last it began to dawn upon him; and he took the pardon from the Commissioner's hand, saw his name attached to it, and wept like a child." This is the way that men make out pardons for men; but, thank Godl we have not to come to-night and say we have pardons for only five men—for those who behaved themselves. We have assurance of pardon for every man. 'Whosoever will, let him drink of the water of life." It is offered to every thief and harlot, to every gambler and drunkard; salvation for every one. Salvation is offered to every man, woman, and child.
I can just imagine the scene, as those warriors of the cross stood around Christ, the tears trickling down the cheeks of Peter as he says, upon hearing the command: "You don't mean, when you command us to preach to every creature, that we are to tell the gospel to those unbelievers—those murderers in Jerusalem?" "Yes; go first to those Jerusalem sinners." And at that scene of Pentecost, I can imagine a man coming up and saying: "Peter, I am the man that spat in his face; you don't mean to say I can be saved?" "Yes, every one of you; for he told me before he left, preach the gospel to every creature." Another man comes up and says: "Peter, I an> he who made the crown of thorns; do you think I can be saved?" "Yes; he will give you in return the crown of life." "I am the man," says another, '• who drove the spear into his side." "Yes, I know it," replies Peter; "for I saw you doing it; but even you can be saved." My friends, if those Jerusalem sinners can be saved, there is hope for the sinners of Chicago. One man, in drawing that scene, said he could fancy Peter saying: "Surely, you don't mean that we are to go back to Jerusalem and preach to those men who sacrificed you—who spat in your face?" "Yes, hunt them up; hunt up the man who drove the spear into my side, and tell him in its place I will put a sceptre in his hand, if he will accept salvation from me; unto that man who made a crown of thorns for my head, My I will give a crown of glory; tell them there is forgiveness for •It* Oh, my friend, the gospel is for every creature. Take salvation as a gift. It is for you. God says plainly, he does not will any one to death, he wants all to be saved.
When 1 was East, a few years ago, Mr. Geo. H. Stuart told me of » scene that occurred in a Pennsylvania prison when Governor Pollock, a Christian man, was Governor of that State. A man was tried for murder, and the judge had pronounced sentence upon him. His friends had tried every means in their power to procure his pardon. They had sent deputation after deputation to the Governor; but he had told them all that the law must take its course. When they began to give up all hope, the Governor went down to the prison and asked the sheriff to take him to the cell of the condemned man. The Governor was conducted into the presence of the criminal; and he sat down by the side of his bed and began to t&lk to him kindly—spoke to him of Christ and heaven, and showed him that, although he was condemned to die on the morrow by earthly judges, he would receive eternal life from the Divine Judge, if he would accept salvation. He explained the plan of salvation; and when he left him, he committed him to God. When he was gone the sheriff was called to the cell by the condemned man. "Who was that man," asked the criminal, "who was in here and talked so kindly to me?" "Why," said the sheriff, "that was Governor Pollock." "Was that Governor Pollock? O sheriff, why didn't you tell me who it was? If I had known that was him, I wouldn't have let him go out till he had given me pardon. .The Governor has been here—in my cell—and I didn't know it;" and the man wrung his hands, and wept bitterly. My friends, there is one greater than a Governor here to-night, to tell you he is here. You naven't got to go to heaven to bring him down. He is here now, waiting for your acceptance. You can be saved for time and eternity, if you will. My friends, what will you do? Accept him and receive the crown of glory; or reject him, and be lost? It rests with you to decide.