THE GOSPEL PREACHER.
"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias, and when he had opened the book he found the place where It was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to neal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to pet at liberty them that are braised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again lo thu minister and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say nnto them, This day is the Scripture fultilled in yoor ears." Luke 4: 17-21.
I am going to ask our friends if they will please turn in their Bibles to the 4th chapter of Luke, and the 17th verse: "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah, arid when he had opened the book he found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bound; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all of them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears." I suppose our friends have noticed, in reading the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, that never when he was down on earth do we read about him taking a copy of the Scriptures in his hands except in this synagogue. I have no doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ knew the Scriptures from beginning to end, so that he did not require to take them up to find a passage. < Here, for the first and for the last time, do we read about him taking them in his hands. It was a prophecy he took up, and that prophecy was the book of Isaiah. We are told in Luke that the Lord Jesus Christ found a certain place. I suppose that means that he searched for a certain passage of Scripture which declared his mission to the children of men. He might have preached from any single text in that wpnderful book. If ne had liked, he could have told his message without any reference to that wonderful book; but he turned to the place and read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." You know that eighteen hundred years ago books were not printed as they are to-day. These books were written on parchment and put on rollers, and the Lord Jesus Christ had to unroll these parchments before he came to the passage, saying, u The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." I have often tried to imagine what thoughts passed through his mind as his blessed eye rested upon passage after passage of that book. He might have pointed to that passage: "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know;" but the Lord passed that by. He might have turned to a passage in the same chapter: "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither molified with ointment;" but he passed that by. He might have turned to that wonderful passage in the ninth chapter: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;" but Jesus passed that by. He did not want to read about the divinity; he came into that synagogue to read about the mission to sinners, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." He might have read that sweet passage: "Though thou wert angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me." Jesus didn't need that— the cross had not yet had its victim. He might have turned to that sweet 32d chapter: And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land;" but he just passed that by. He ought to have opened the book at that 35th chapter,
where it speaks about water breaking out in the wilderness and the desert blooming; but the millennium had not come yet. Without Calvary, there could be no millennium. So he turned to the passage which says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." I wonder how those men would have felt had he read: "He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows." He did not tell them how they treated him; he merely turned to the passage which spoke of his mission.
And in that synagogue, on that Sabbath day, beloved friends, there was not a human heart any different from yours. They loved to hear good news or glad tidings; and I am sure there is not one here tonight, rich or poor, high or low, but likes to hear glad tidings. In Ireland, a man used to live opposite to where I was living, and when a man would come from the market with something that had been ordered he would ring the bell, and stand waiting for five or six minutes before any servant would come to the door. Sometimes ladies and gentlemen would come up and stand waiting for the door to be opened. But I always noticed one thing: whenever the postman would come and give his double knock,'that moment three or four of them would come to the door. Sometimes the master and mistress of the house themselves would run to the door, to get what they thought good news. You know you never keep the postman at the door. Everybody is fond of good news, of glad tidings. Previous to my corning across to this great country of yours, I was holding meetings in London. I took my ticket from there to Manchester, to bid some friends good-bye. When I got to the railway carriage, I saw a little group of boys around two little fellows. Their coats were threadbare, with patches here and there carefully covering up the holes. Some good mother, it was evident, too poor to send them away in fine style, was trying to make them as neat as she could. The boys belonged to a Sunday-school in London, and the group around them was their schoolmates, who had come down to bid them good-bye. They shook hands, and then their Sunday-school teacher did the same, and wished them Godspeed. After that their minister came and took them by the hand, and breathed a prayer that they would be blessed. When they all had bade the boys good-bye, a poor widow came up and put her arms around the companion of her son. Perhaps he had no mother, and she kissed him for his mother and wished him good-bye. Then she put her arms around the neck of the other boy, and he put his arms around her, and she began to weep. "Don't cry, mother," said the boy; "don't cry; I'll soon b« in America, and I'll save money, and soon send for you to come out to me. I'll have you out with me. Don't cry." He stepped into the carriage, the steam was turned on, and the train was in motion when he put hie head out of the window and cried, " Farewell, dear mother;" and the mother's prayer went out: "God bless my boy; God bless my boy." Don't you think that when they came to America and sent the first letter to England, that mother would run quickly to the door when the postman came with that letter? How quick that mother would take that letter and break the seal. She wants to hear good news. There is not one here to-night who has not a message of good news, of glad tidings; better news than was everreceived by a mother in England from a son in America, or from a mother in England by a son in America. It is glad tidings from a loving Savior; glad tidings of great joy. He says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," to preach good news. That is what brought the Savior down from glory—to preach glad tidings.
But, mark you, it is to the poor—not the poor in pocket. God never looks into a bank-book; he never looks into your purse, to see whether you are rich or poor; he looks into the sinner's heart, and if that sinner has nothing—no deeds, no prayers, no tears, then the Son of God comes from heaven to that poor soul. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." On Friday night, in a certain place where I was, two or three ladies were talking about the Bible. One lady said to another: "I saw some of my friends reading the Bible, and they were looking so glum and melancholy." Turning round to me she said: "I don't think people should be melancholy when they read the Bible; do you, Mr. Moody?" "Well," I replied, "it depends upon the kind of people who read the Bible; if they are unsaved sinners, they will." "But," she asked, "tell me why." "Because that book is the death-warrant of an unsaved sinner; but if a man knows that he is lost, that he is guilty and condemned, and he comes to the Savior, then the Bible is not a death-warrant." It is a reprieve—it is a pardon—it is good news, glad tidings. Every man here to-night who is unsaved, ought to be sad when he reads his death-warrant; and that is the reason why people unsaved do not like to read this book. When we believe, we hear the good news that comes to us in the cry from Calvary, "It is finished!" That is not bad news—that is not our death-warrant—that is my pardon— that is my peace—my justification. Jesus finished that work, and he finished that work for me. It is good news and glad tidings to the sinner; and there is not a little child in this hall to-night but can understand it, if they take it as God gives it in this book. It is not long ago, it just seems the other day, when my dear friend Dr. Mathieson, now in heaven, told me he was preaching the gospel in Scotland, and a minister told him he had in his congregation a little idiot boy. He did not know what to do with him; he had spoken to him many times, but the boy always said: "Ye maun wait till a' come to ye, and when a' come I'll sing ye a sang an' tell ye a story; but ye maun wait till a' come to ye." The minister heard that the boy was dying, and he went to him and said: "Sandy, you promised
me that you would sing me a song and tell me a story before you died; will you tell it now?" "Yes, minister," replied the boy— "Three in ane an' ane in three, an' Jesus Christ he died for me; that's a'." "Three in one and one in three, and Jesus Christ he died for me." I tell you I would rather be a poor idiot and know •that, than be one of the mightiest and so-called wisest men in the city of Chicago, and not believe that Jesus took my place and died for me on Calvary's cross. That gospel's very simple; it is very easy to understand. Here am I, a poor sinner, and God has said, "The soul that sinneth shall die;" but God so loved that sinner that he don't want him to die. He had a Son whom he sent from heaven to Calvary to die on the cross, on purpose to put away our sin. Now, I believe; and my sins are put away, and I am saved. Do you want to be saved to-night? Jesus' blood was shed for you; he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. What must I do to be saved? Believe. How can believing save me? Jesus died to save. It is not my believing that puts away my sin; it is my belief that accepts Chnst as my Savior, and the moment I believe on him, I know that eighteen hundred years ago he bled and died on purpose to give me everlasting life. How can I know that I can be saved to-night? That dear young man in the gallery yonder—" Can 1 know I can be saved tonight?" Yes. That dear mother over there—" Can I know I can be saved to-night?" Yes. That dear father here—"Can I know I can be saved to-night?" Yes, before you leave your seat and go into the inquiry-room, if you believe he took your place and sent the message to you. On Thanksgiving night there was a young lady in the inquiry-room, who came to me, "Oh," said she, "will you tell me wnat you mean by knowing that you are saved?" She said she was a member of a ohurch and loved the Savior, but didn't know that she was saved. "Will you come and sit down here and
spell the next word, 'H-a-t-h'—that's not hope," I said; " that's hath." And she turned to me, a smile lighting up her face through her tears, and said: "That is to have everlasting life" "Are you saved now?" I asked. "Yes." "How do you know?" "Because," she replied, "I said so; that is how I know." We tell you to-night, in the Master's name, you can be saved here if you are guilty—if you have nothing to rive to God; for he came to preach the gospel to the poor. Some of you say: "Mustn't I repent for a week or two; must I not try and get some of the sin taken from me, and then so to the Lord; and when he sees I desire to be better, it will be easier?" My friends, you can't improve yourselves. He wants to take you just as you are.
When I was holding meetings a little time ago at Wharnecliffe, in England, a coal district, a great burly collier came up to me and said in his Yorkshire dialect, "Dost know wha was at meetin' t'night?" "No," I answered. "Why," said he, "So-an-so (mentioning name]. The name was a familiar one. He was a very bad man, one of the wildest, wickedest men in Yorkshire, according to Bis own confession, and according to the confession of everybody .who knew him. "Weel," said the man, "he cam' into meetin' an' said you didn't preach right; he said thou preached nothin' but love o' Christ, an'that won't do for drunken colliers; ye want t' shake 'em over the pit, and he says he'll ne'er come again." He thought I didn't preach about hell. Mark you, my friends, 1 believe in eternal damnation; I believe in the pit that burns, in the tire that's never quenched, in the worm that never dies; but I believe that the magnet that goes down to the bottom of the pit is the love of Jesus. I didn't expect to see him again; but he came the next night, without washing his face, right from the pit, with all his working clothes upon him. This drunken collier sat down on one of the seats that were used for the children, and got as near to me as possible. The sermon was love from first to last. He listened, at first attentively; but by-and-by I saw him with the sleeve of his rough coat, wiping his eyes. Soon after, we had an inquiry meeting, when some of those praying colliers got around him, and it wasn't long before he was crying: "O Lord, save me; I am lost; Jesus have mercy upon me;" and that night he left the meeting a new creature. His wife told me herself what occurred when he came home. His little children heard him coming along; they knew the step of his heavy clogs, and ran to their mother in terror, clinging to her skirts. He opened the door as gently as could be. He had had a habit of banging the door. My friends, if a man becomes converted, it will even make a difference in the slamming of doors. When he came into the house and saw the children clinging to their mother, frightened, he just stooped down and picked up the youngest girl in his arms, and looked at her, the tears rolling down his cheeks. "Mary, Mary, God has sent thy father home to thee," and kissed her. He picked up another, aGod has sent thy father home;" and lrom one to another he went, and kissed them all, and then came to his wife and put his arms around his neck; "Don't cry, lass; don't cry. God has sent thy husband home at last; don't cry;" and all she could do was to put her arms around his neck and sob. And then he said: "Have you a Bible in the house, lass?" They hadn't such a thing. "Well, lass, if we haven't we must pray." They got down on their knees, and all he could say was:
"Qenlle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity—
for Jesus Christ's sake, amen." It was a simple prayer, but God
answered it. While I was at Barnet, sometime after that, a friend came to me and said: "I've got good news for you. So-and-so (mentioning the collier's name) is preaching the gospel everywhere he goes—in the pit and out of the pit, and tries to win everybody to the Lord Jesus Christ." O brother and sister, won't you trust th« Savior to-night? Dear mother and father, won't you believe the gospel; won't you rest upon that finished work; won't you give up your doings and strivings, and just like a little child rest upon that Savior? Believe the glorious gospel, and have everlasting life. May God bless you all, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.