But now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.— Acts xvii, 30.
You will find my text to-night in the 17th chapter of Acts, a part of the 30th verse: "Commandeth all men everywhere to'repent." That must take all in. It is another command. Then in the next verse he tells us why: '' Because he hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the dead."
The day is appointed. We do not know anything about the calendar of heaven. God has kept that appointment in His own mind. We do not know just the day, but the day is appointed, the time is fixed, and God is going to judge this world. So He sends out a proclamation and commands all men now everywhere to repent. And if you do not want to be brought into judgment and be judged, you had better repent; turn to God, and let Jesus Christ be judged for you, and escape the judgment. It is a great thing to get rid of the judgment. "There is no condemnation to him that is in Christ Jesus.'' That is, there is no judgment. Judgment is already past to the believer—to the man that has repented of his sins and confessed them, and turned away from them, and God has put them away. They never again shall be mentioned. We read in Ezekiel that not one of our sins have been mentioned; that they have been forgiven; therefore God calls upon all men everywhere now—not some future time— but now, right here to-night, to repent.
As we look at the beginning of the gospel of this dispensation, you will find that John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, that his voice just rung through the wilderness of Judea, and that he had but one text; you might say his text was one word, "Repent, repent, repent." That was his cry. He kept it up until he met Christ at the Jordan, and then he changed the text, and he had but one text after that: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.''
He first called to repentance, but when Jesus Christ commenced His ministry, he took up that wilderness cry and echoed it again over the plains of Palestine—"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." When He sent out the twelve, He told them to go into every town and make this proclamation: "That the kingdom of God was coming nigh, and men must repent. If they wanted to get in His kingdom, they must enter through that door of repentance." When He sent out the seventy, two by two, He gave them instructions that they should just say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.''
Then we find, after Christ had ascended again into glory, Peter took up that cry on the day of Pentecost, and as he preached through Jerusalem to sinners that they must repent, the Holy Ghost came down and testified to what Peter was saying.
Now, we find in this text Paul is here in Athens raising that wilderness cry again, and commands men now and everywhere to repent. There is no such thing as a man getting to heaven until he repents. You may preach Christ and offer Christ, but man has got to turn away from sin first, as we tried to show you last night. "Let the wicked forsake his way, the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn unto the Lord.'' Repentance is turning.
Before I commence to preach about repentance, I want to tell you what it is not. The fact is, I believe this great truth that has been talked so much in the church that every school-boy ought to be acquainted with it, is the very thing we are in darkness about.
It seems to me as if Satan has thrown dust in the eyes of the people; that the god of this world has blinded us to these things. I find a great many people have a false idea of what repentance is.
Now, repentance is not fear. Mark that. I may stand here to-night, and I may perhaps picture to you the judgment, and I might alarm some people here, and you may get scared and it would look as if it was true work, but it would pass away like a morning cloud. I might hold a revolver to your head and say, "Repent, or I will blow your brains out," and you would say, "I will repent, I will repent," but when the revolver was taken away, you would forget all about it. That is taking place all the while. Some people think they have got to be wrought up. Something has to be said to alarm them. You go out to sea, or out here on Lake Erie, and let a storm come up; fifteen minutes before the storm the sailors, and perhaps the captain, are cursing and blaspheming. A storm comes up and they go to praying. You would think they were saints. The storm passes away, and they are out of danger and they are swearing again. That is fear. That is not repentance. It seemed as if the king of Egypt was really coming to the Lord, to hear him talk when he heard the thunderings, and judgments of God upon him. The king was alarmed. It looked as if he was coming to the Lord, but he was only scared. The moment those judgments were off he forgot all about it. That was not repentance at all. A man may be scared and not repent. A man may be alarmed and not repent. Many men, when death comes and takes a look at them, begin to be alarmed. They get well and forget all about it.
Repentance is not feeling. Mark that! There are hundreds and thousands of people in Cleveland who just have their arms folded and they are waiting for some queer kind of feeling. They think repentance is a certain kind of feeling; that Ijiey have to feel very bad, very sorrowful—got to weep a good deal, and then they will be in a condition to come to God. Repentance is not feeling. A man may feel very bad and not really repent. I venture to say if you go down to Columbus to the state penitentiary you cannot find a man in there that does not feel sorry he got caught, awful sorry—shed a great many tears in court on his trial. The trouble is they are sorry they got caught . That is all. They feel very bad they got caught. But there is no true repentance; no turning to God. Feeling is not repentance. Last winter I preached seven months to the convicts in the Maryland penitentiary. I found men just the same under lock and key that they are out. There were a great many there in that prison who had passed through their trial, been sentenced ten years or five years to the penitentiary, that had no signs of repentance there at all. They were very sorry they got caught. They would like to get out very well, and perhaps they would do the same thing right over when they got out. That is not repentance at all.
A man may be dishonest in some business transaction, and bring ruin upon himself and his family; he may weep bitter tears for weeks and for months, and yet not repent. But he is very sorry he got caught. These defaulters are all sorry they got caught. I do not know how many of them truly repent. If they truly repent, God forgives them whether man does or not. They may shed a great many tears and not repent.
I tell you we have got to wake up to the fact that repentance is not feeling. It is something higher, deeper, broader than just mere sentiment or feeling. A man may weep, and brush away the tears and forget all about it.
And then repentance is not remorse. Judas had remorse. He did not repent towards God. He was filled with remorse and despair, and went out and hung himself. That was not repentance. There is a difference between remorse and repentance.
Then repentance is not penance. Some people think they have got to put that in the place of repentance. They think if they just do penance they are all right. Suppose I go down to Lake Erie and stand all night up to my neck in the water till daylight, is that repentance? Will I be more acceptable to God to-morrow night because I have been down there in the lake all night and stood in the water up to my neck? That is not repentance.
Conviction is not repentance. A man may be convicted that he is wrong and not repent. I may remain for years under conviction and not repent.
Repentance is not praying. A great many people think they are going to settle this question by going off to pray and asking God to forgive them, and they go right on living the same way they have been living.
Repentance is not forming a few good resolutions. It is not resolving that we will be better and do better in the future and just go right on.
Repentance is not breaking off from some sin. That is not repentance. Suppose a vessel has sprung a leak. There are three holes in it. You stop up two of them and leave one of them open. Down goes the vessel. That is enough to sink it. And so some men say, "Well, I will break off part of my sins.'' Suppose you are guilty of a hundred and break off ninety-nine of them and leave one, and go on committing that one. That one is enough, my friends.
If God drove Adam out of Eden on account of one sin, do you think He will let you into the Paradise above with one sin upon you? If God would not let Adam stay in Eden—that earthly paradise—with one sin upon him, do you think He is going to allow sinners into that heavenly Paradise above with one sin upon them? So, it is not just breaking off part of our sins and leaving part of them, but it is leaving the whole of them.
Perhaps you say: "Then what is repentance? If it is not fear, if it is not feeling, if it is not prayer, and if it is not forming a few good resolutions and doing penance, what is it?"
Listen, my friends. Repentance is turning right about—in other words, as a soldier would call it, "right about face." As some one has said, man is born with his back towards God. When he truly repents he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind. Repentance is an after-thought.
Now, I might feel sorry that I had done a thing, and go right on and do it over again. You see repentance is deeper than feeling. It is action. It is turning right about. And God commands all men everywhere to turn.
Let me read to you here a verse or two from the twenty-first chapter of the gospel according to Matthew: "What think ye?" These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. "What'think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he said to them: 'Go work in my vineyard.' One of them said, 'I will not go.' The other said, 'I will go, sir,' " and went not. But the man that said he would not go repented and changed his mind—an after-thought, you see—and turned and went and did it. "Now," says Christ, "which of the two sons did his father's will?" "Well, the man that repented." And Christ just held that right up to the people. That is what the Lord wants—to have a man turn right about—not try to justify himself in his sin, but acknowledge his sin, confess his sin, and turn from it; and the moment a man is willing to do that, that moment God is ready and willing to receive him.
Now, I think I can use an illustration that you can get hold of. Suppose I want to go to Chicago tonight. I go down to the depot. I do not know much about the trains in Cleveland. I see a man there whom I take to be connected with the depot, and I ask him, "Is this train going right to Chicago?" "Yes." I take my bag and jump right aboard that train. I get comfortably seated and my friend, Mr. Doan, comes down and he says: "Mr. Moody, where are you going?" And I say, "Going to Chicago." "Well, you are on the wrong train. That train is going off to New York." "I think you are wrong, Mr. Doan; I just asked a man who is a railroad man, and he told me this train was going to Chicago." "Well, sir, I tell you you are wrong. That train is not going to Chicago at all; it is going to take you right in an opposite direction. That train is going off to New York, and if you want to go to Chicago, you must get out of that train and get aboard another." I do not believe him at first. "Well," he says, "but I have been here in Cleveland for twenty-five years. I know all about these trains. I go to Chicago and New York a dozen times a year. I am constantly taking these trains. I am having friends nearly every week that take these trains, and I come down here, and I tell you that I am right and you are wrong, sir. You are on the wrong train." At last, Mr. Doan convinces me that I am on the wrong train. That is conviction. But, if I do not change trains, I will go to New York in spite of my conviction. That is not repentance. I will tell you what is repentance; grabbing my bag and running and getting on the other train. That is repentance.
Now, you are on the wrong train, my friends, and what you want is to change trains to-night. You are on the wrong side of this question. You are for the god of this world, and the world claims your influence. God commands all men now everywhere to repent. Change trains! Make haste! There is no time for delay! It is a call that comes from the throne of God for every man, woman and child in this audience. Repent! If you die without repentance, whose fault is it? God has called you; God has commanded you, and if you will not obey that command, if you will not repent, and you die in your sins, no one is to blame but yourself, mark that! No one is to blame but yourself, for God has commanded you.
Now, the question is, what will you do with this command? Will you repent? Will you this very night, and this very hour, change trains?
I will give you another illustration. There is going to be an election in this State to-morrow. Suppose you belong to a party up till to-night and you thought you were right; but to-night you become convinced that the party you are in is wrong. You become thoroughly convinced that if the party succeeds it is ruin to your state government. You are a patriotic man and you love the government.
Now, some men say, "Can a man repent all at once?" I say he can. A man may come in here to-night a strong democrat, or he may come in here a strong republican, and he may change inside of twenty-four hours. You know that, don't you? If you belonged to a party and you were thoroughly convinced to-night that you were in the wrong party, do you tell me you could not change to-night and join the other party and go out to the polls and go to work to-morrow and be on the other side of the question? You can do it if you will.
Now, my friends, we will not bring up this question of parties. I have nothing to do with that, I only use it as an illustration. There is one thing I do know; you are on the wrong side of this question. If you are away from God, and if you are fighting against the God of heaven, you had better change trains at once, hadn't you? Do it to-night. Make up your mind to-night that you will cast your lot with God's people—that you will just change trains.
Look at that train the other night on the Michigan Central road near Jackson. Do you tell me a man cannot repent all at once? Do you tell me that the engineer of that train could not have whistled down brakes and turned that train back if he had had three minutes? He could if he had had time. He didn't have enough time. Look at that steamer on the ocean. It is bearing down upon an iceberg. It is going at the rate of twelve knots an hour in a fog; they cannot see a rod ahead. All at once they reverse the steam. In a minute more they would have gone- on the iceberg, and all on that vessel would have gone down. There was a minute when they could have reversed the steam, and they just seized the opportunity and saved all on board.
And so there is a moment, my friends, that you can repent and turn to God, and there is such a thing as being a minute too late. Look at that White Star Line steamer when five hundred were lost off the coast of Newfoundland. There was a minute that they just crossed the line, as it were. It was too late.
So you may neglect your soul's salvation, and you may neglect to repent one day too long, and it will be too late. God commands you to do it now. He says "Except a man repent, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." "Except ye repent." We have got to enter through the door of repentance into the kingdom of God. There is no other way. The highest and the lowest, the richest and the poorest, have all got to go in in the same way—on their hands and knees.
I had a friend during the Chicago fire who got into one of those lanes there, and he became so stifled with smoke that he lay down to die. But as he lay on the ground, he got beneath the smoke and crawled out on his hands and knees. And I tell you when a man gets on his knees and says, "God be merciful to me a sinner," God will forgive him and bless him. And so, if there is a person to-night in this house that wants to be saved just now while I am talking, say, "God helping me, this night I turn my face toward heaven;" and if need be, God will send legions of angels to help you fight your way up to heaven. *
Some men say they are afraid they will not hold out. But God says, "My grace is sufficient for thee." "As thy faith, so shall thy strength be." God is not a hard master. "My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'' When men make deep and thorough work, and are willing to forsake all sin and turn to God with all their hearts, God helps them; then there is no trouble. God is not a hard master.
Now, it is left to you, as I said last night. You can turn if you will. The will comes in again. I read some time ago an account of some wealthy man who had an only son, who was a wild, reckless boy; but, although he was a wild, reckless boy, his father loved him. When the father was dying, he had his will made out, and he willed that boy all his property on one condition, and that was that that boy should repent of his sins. If the boy turned away from his evil associates, and his past life, and became a sober and an upright man, he should have all his estate. All he had got to do was to enter into it. The father put it in the hands of trustees on these conditions, and all that boy had to do was to turn from his past life, and his evil associates, and enter into it. He loved his sins so he would not do it, and he died in his sins. I do not know as I could have a better illustration than that. We have got an inheritance, incorruptible, kept in reserve for us, and the moment a man is willing to turn from his sins he can enter into that inheritance. God keeps it in store for all that want it. But do not think for a moment that you are going to enter into that inheritance—into those mansions Christ has gone to prepare, with sin upon you. It is utterly out of the question. In your sins it is impossible for you to enter into that inheritance. "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." We cannot get into the kingdom of God without repentance, without turning from sin, without laying hold of His righteousness and giving up our own.
So the question comes for us to settle, and it is a question we can settle if we will. We need not wait for this kind of feeling or that kind. It is to obey. Do you think God would command us to do something we could not do, and then punish us eternally for not doing it? Do you think God would command all men now everywhere to repent, and not give them power to do it? Do you believe it? Away with such a doctrine as that! He would be an unjust God if He commanded me to do something I could not do, and then punished me for not doing it.
Suppose I should command my boy to leap a mile at one leap, and if he did not do it that I would flog him, and then because he didn't do it I flogged him, what would you people in Cleveland say? You would not allow me to preach. You would say I was an unjust man. There is one thing, we must do as we preach about the love of God and mercy of God; we have also to stand up for His justice. He is a God of justice. God is not an unjust God. He does not command us to do anything we cannot do, and then punish us for not doing it. With the command comes the power to obey. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch out thine hand." The man might have said, "Well, Lord, I have been trying to stretch out that hand for thirty years, but I could not doit." But with the command came the power. He said, "Stretch out thine hand," and out came the old withered arm, and was made whole before it got out straight from his body; and so men are blessed in the very act of obedience. Not for just feeling or sentiment. What God wants is to have us obey. What is it to obey? It is to repent and bring forth fruit meet for
repentance. What does that mean? If you cheat a man out of five dollars, don't keep that five dollars. Give it back. If you are going to repent and turn to God, out with it! It don't belong to you. If some young man cheats his wash-woman by not paying his wash-bill, or goes off without paying his boarding mistress, don't think you can repent and turn to God without paying up every dollar, and bringing forth fruit meet for repentance.
In John Wesley's day, there was a hard case that came in among the Wesleys. He was one of the wildest men in Wales. He had been a drinking man for years. He used to take great pleasure in defrauding men. He would drink and not pay for his drinks. He would gamble, and not pay what he had lost. He owed debts to nearly everybody. But he was converted, and soon after he was converted he had a little legacy left him, and he bought a horse and saddle and he started, and went from town to town and hunted up his old creditors and paid them dollar for dollar. Then he would preach in those towns, and tell them what great things God had done for him. But he hadn't enough money to go around and he sold the horse and saddle, and he paid up the very last dime. It is to pay the last dime—that is repentance. We want a revival of righteousness here in the West. If we want anything we want right living. We want a revival of honesty. When the Bible says, "Bring forth fruit meet for repentance," it means to make restitution. If you ruin a man, do what you can to help that poor fellow. If you have helped to pull any down, do all you can to help him up. If it takes the last dollar you have got, you must pay it, where you have taken from men dishonestly.
When Mr. Sankey and I were in a town or city some time ago a man came to the inquiry room, and great drops of perspiration stood upon his brow. He was greatly excited and says, "Sir, I don't want to talk with you before these people. Can't we get off alone?" I took him off alone and he says, "The trouble with me is I am a defaulter." "Well," I said, "can you make restitution?" "No, sir; not for the whole amount." "How much is it?" "Fifteen hundred dollars." "How much can you pay back?" "About nine hundred dollars. But," says he, "if I pay that back, I will not have anything to support my wife and children." I says, "Well, it don't belong to you, anyhow. You don't want it. No man can prosper with stolen money.'' Says he, '' I want your advice; I have a chance to go into business, and if I do not give back that money and go into business, I think I can soon make up the $1,500 and pay it back." I said, "No, that is the devil's work. Don't take that stolen money and go into business: You will not prosper. God will turn your way upside down. He will hedge it up. 'He will turn the way of the wicked upside down.' What you want is to go to the root of the matter. Do right and God will bless you; but you can't ask God's blessing with stolen money." I believe that is the reason so many do not nourish—they can't ask God's blessing upon their business on account of some dishonest act; they have lied in selling goods or something else. Says he, "I will disgrace my wife and children if I come out and confess." I said, "Not necessarily. You can do it through a tnird party. Not only that, but I think those men you defrauded would forgive you if they saw true signs of repentance." He said the terms were too hard. I said when he went off, "The spirit of God has hold of you. You will not sleep any. You will not have rest until you pay back that money. It will not only burn in your pocket, but burn in your soul." He went off, and the next day he came back again, and he says, "Is there no other way?" Says I, "There is no other way. You don't want any other way. The right way is always the best way." Still he wanted to take some other way. Says I, "Do right, and let the consequences be what they will." He says, "I am afraid if I go back to those men they will just put me in prison." I says, "You had better go into prison with a clear conscience than be out with a guilty one. You won't have any peace with a guilty conscience. I have never heard of a man being put in prison that wanted to do right. Now, let me get those two men together and talk with them—see how they feel."
.He slunk from that; he said he could not do it. I said, "You can if you will." Finally, he consented, and we sent for the two men and got them in a room alone. He brought to me a great, long envelope, with $980.40—took the last penny out of his wife's pocket-book. "It is all there, is it?" says I. "Every cent; it is all there." Those two men were sitting there in the room, and I took out the money and laid it down and told them the story, and great tears trickled down their cheeks. They said they would like to forgive him, and I went down and brought him up. It was one of the sweetest sights of my life. Those two men got down and prayed with that man. The question was settled. Then friends gathered around him and helped him. He is now a successful business man. God forgave him and his employers forgave him. He brought forth fruit meet for repentance.
I believe the reason we do not have better work in this country is because there is so much sham. We do not go down to the bottom of things. O, may God give us a revival of honesty! Downright, upright honesty! That is what we want—right living! If it costs the right eye, out with it! That is what repentance means. It is not just mere sentiment—going to meeting and singing and praying and having a good time, not squaring our life according to Scripture. God is going to draw the plummet line by and by, and He will have it right. We may deceive our friends and deceive one another, but let us keep in mind we cannot deceive God. If we attempt to cover up some sin, some dishonest act, and come to God with our prayers, He will not accept them. They will not go higher than our heads.
Some people say they cannot get an answer to their prayers. If they would get down to the bottom of things, they would find out the reason. They would find that there was something not correct in their lives. They have not made the work deep and thorough. Let us pray for one thing in Cleveland, let me ask the Christians in this house to-night to pray for one thing, and that is that the Holy Ghost may convict us all of sin. Let it begin in the pulpit. If there is any one thing that I want more than anything else it is that God may show me everything in my life that is contrary to His will, and that He will give me grace enough to turn from it. I would rather do it—I would rather live so that God should be pleased with me than to have the applause of the world. I would rather live so that God could say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," than just to accumulate a little wealth down here and have the applause of men for a few short years, and then know that I had not pleased Him. When will we wake up to the fact that it is more important to live to please God than man?
And then how sweet our life will be, how pure our conscience will be, if God has forgiven everything, if we have brought everything to light, and turned from our sins, and the work has been deep and thorough!
But one thought more before I close, and that is, what produces repentance? Paul says in the second chapter of Romans, and the fourth verse: "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
O, that the Lord may open our eyes to-night and show us how good He has been to us all these years!
Now, the world has a false idea of God. I will venture to say there is not an unsaved man or woman in this audience to-night, but has a false idea of God, and the reason you cannot repent is because you do not turn from that false idea. You have got an idea that God hates you—is an enemy. That is as false as any lie that ever came out of the pit of hell. There is not any truth in it. God loves the sinner. He so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son to save sinners. Christ died for the ungodly, not the godly; for the sinner, not for the righteous. I want to say to every poor lost soul in this audience to-night: God loves you with an everlasting love, although you may have hated Him, and trampled his laws under your feet. He loves you still. May the love of God to-night lead you to repentance.
There is a story in English history of King Henry and his rebellious son, who rose up in arms against his father. The king was at last obliged to take his army and pursue that rebellious son. He drove him into a walled city in France, and while the poor fellow was in that city the father was besieging it for weeks and months. But the son fell sick, and while he was sick he began to think of the goodness and kindness of that father. At last it broke his heart, and he sent a messenger to his father to tell him that he repented of his past life in rebellion and asked his father to forgive him. But the old sire refused. He did not believe he was sincere. When the messenger brought back that message that his father would not forgive him, he requested them to take him out of his bed and lay him in sack-cloth and ashes and in that condition he would die. When they told his father of it and he went to look at that boy and saw him in sack-cloth and ashes, he fell on his face and cried as David did, "O, my son, would God I had died for thee."
That father made a mistake. He did not know that boy's heart. But God never makes any mistake. O, sinner, if you ask Him to-night for pardon, He will pardon you. If you want the love of God shed abroad in your heart turn away from sin and see how quick He will receive you and how quick He will bless you.
I pray thee have me excused. Luke xvi. 19.
These three men that we read about to-night were not invited to hear some dry stupid sermon or lecture, but they were invited to a feast. The gospel in this parable is represented as a feast, and there was an invitation extended to these three men to come to the feast. "And they all with one consent began to make excuse." It does not say that they had an excuse, but they made excuse—manufactured one for the occasion.
Now excuses are as old as man. The first excuse that we hear of was in Eden. The first thing we hear after the fall of man, was man making excuse. Instead of Adam confessing his guilt like a man, he began to excuse himself—justify himself. That is what every man is trying to do—justify himself in his sins. Adam said, "It is this woman that thou gavest me." He hid behind her—mean, cowardly act. And it really was charging it back on God. "It is the woman that thou gavest me." Blaming God for his sin. From the time that Adam fell from the summit of Eden to the present time, man has been guilty of that sin, charging it back on God, as if God was responsible for his sin and God was guilty.
Now, I venture to say that if I should go down among the congregation here to-night, every man that has not accepted this invitation would be ready with an excuse. You have all got excuses. You would have one right on the end of your tongue. You would be ready to meet me the moment I got to you. If I met that excuse, then you would get another and you would hide behind that. Then, if I drove you out from behind that, you would get another. And so you would go on, hiding behind some excuse—making some excuse; and if you should be cornered up and could not think of one, Satan would be there to help you make one. That has been his business for the past six thousand years. He is very good to help man make excuses, and undoubtedly he helped these three men we read of here to-night. No sooner do we begin to preach the gospel of the Son of God than men begin to manufacture excuses. They begin to hunt around to see if they cannot find some reason to give for not accepting the invitation. Excuses are the cradle, in other words, that Satan rocks men off to sleep in. He gets them into that cradle of excuses that they may ease their consciences.
But let me say to you, my friends, there is no man or woman in this assembly to-night that can give an excuse that will stand the light of eternity. All these excuses that men are making are nothing but refuges of lies after all. We read in the prophecy of Isaiah that God shall sweep away these refuges of lies. When a man stands before God he will not be making excuses. His excuses will all be gone then, and he will be speechless.
We read of that man that got into the feast without a wedding garment, and when the Lord of the feast came in he saw the man there. That man perhaps thought he could get in with the crowd. Some people say, "O, I will go with the crowd." He thought he could get in with the crowd, and he would not be noticed. But that eye was keen to detect one that had not on the wedding garment. Do not think for a moment that God's eye is not upon you? He knows how all these excuses are made. You cannot hide any thing from Him. You may make excuses and put on a sort of garment, and think you are justifying yourself in living away from God and not accepting this invitation; but really it is nothing that will stand the light of eternity. Things look altogether different when you stand before Him.
Did you ever stop to think what would take place
in a city like Cleveland if God should take every
man and woman that wants to be excused at their
word, and should say, "I will excuse you." God
took those three men that we read of at their word.
He said, "Not one of them that were bidden shall
taste of my supper." They spurned the invitation;
they turned their backs upon it; and then God
withdrew the invitation. "Not one of them that
were bidden shall taste of my supper.'' Suppose
that that should take place in Cleveland, and then
by a stroke of Providence he should sweep every
man and woman in Cleveland that wants to be
excused from this feast into eternity. Suppose that
every man and woman that wanted to be excused
from this feast should die inside of twenty-four
hours. I think there would be plenty of room in
this tabernacle to-morrow night for all that want to come. There would be a good many of your stores closed to-morrow. There would be no one to open them. Merchants, employes, clerks would all be gone. Every saloon in Cleveland would be closed up. Every rum-seller wants to be excused from this feast. He can't get into the kingdom of God with a rum bottle in his hand. "Woe be to the man that putteth the bottle to his neighbor's lips." He knows very well that if he accepts this invitation he has got to give up his hellish traffic. Every blasphemer in Cleveland wants to be excused from this feast, because if he accepts this invitation he has got to give up his blasphemy. Every drunkard in Cleveland, every harlot, every thief, every dishonest man, every dishonest merchant would be gone. They want to be excused from this feast. Why? Because they have got to turn away from their sins if they accept of this invitation. The longer I live the more I am convinced that the reason men do not come to Christ is because they do not want to give up sin. That is the trouble. It is not their intellectual difficulties. It is quite popular for people to say that they have got intellectual difficulties; but if they would tell the honest truth it is some darling sin that they are holding on to. They are not willing to give up the harlot; they are not willing to give up gambling; they are not willing to give up drinking, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. That is the trouble. It is not their intellectual difficulties as much as it is their darling sin. The grass would soon be growing in your streets in Cleveland if God should take every man at his word and excuse him from this feast and take him away. Things would look altogether different in your city inside of a week if God should excuse you that want to be excused. And yet the moment that God sends out His invitation excuses just run right in. "I pray thee have me excused." That is the cry to-day. Man prepares his feast, and there is a great rush to get the best seats. God prepares his feast—and what a feast it is! Think of it! It is not often that common people like you and me get an invitation to a royal feast. There is many a man that has lived in Windsor Castle for fifty years, and has never got sight of Queen Victoria. There are men in London that stand high, men of wealth, men of position who never were invited into her palace. Men think it is a great honor to be invited into a king's palace or the palace of a queen. But here we are invited to the marriage of the Lamb. We are invited by the Lord of glory to come fo the marriage of His only begotten son, and men begin to make excuses. "I pray thee, have me excused."
Now let us look for a moment at the excuses that these three men gave. The first man might have been very polite. Some men are very polite. Some are very gruff, and treat you with a great deal of scorn and contempt. The moment you begin to talk to them they say, "You attend to your business and I will attend to mine." But I can imagine this man was a very polite man and he said, "I wish you would take back this message to your Lord, that I would like to be at that feast. Tell him there is not a man in the kingdom that would rather be there than myself, but I am so situated that I can't come. Just tell him I have bought me a piece of ground, and that I must needs go and see it." Queer time to go and see to land, wasn't it? Just at that supper time. They were invited to supper, you see. But he must needs go and see it. He had not made a partial bargain and wanted to go and close the bargain. He did not have that good excuse. He had bought the land, and he must needs go and see it. Could he not go and see this land the next morning? Could he not have accepted this invitation and then gone and seen his land? If he had been a good business man, some one has said, he would have gone and looked at the land before he bought it. But the land was already bought, and the trade made. He did not say, "I want to get the deed on record, because I am afraid some one else will get a deed of it, and get it on record first, and I will lose it." He had not got that good an excuse. The only excuse he had was, "I have bought me a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it.'' You will see it was a lie right on the face of it. It was just manufactured to ease that man's conscience. He did not want to go to the feast, and he had not the common honesty to come out with it and say, "I don't want to go to the feast, but just take back word that I have bought me a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it," and away he went. How many men are giving their business as an excuse for not accepting this invitation! You talk to them about things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and they tell you they have got to attend to business; that business is very pressing. It does not say that this was a bad man. He might have been as moral as any man in Cleveland. He might have held as high a position as any man in Cleveland. He might have ridden in his chariot. He might have been a very liberal man to the poor. He might have been a very benevolent man. He might have given his substance, but he neglected to accept this invitation, and Christ teaches us plainly that if we neglect this salvation how shall we escape the damnation of hell.
People say, "What have I done? I have not got drunk; I have not murdered; I have not lied; I have not stolen. What have I done?" I will take you on the ground that you have not done anything—I will not admit that for a moment, but suppose I take you on that ground. If a man neglects salvation he will be lost. You see a man in yonder river, his oars lying in the bottom of his boat, and he is out there in the current, his arms are folded, and the current is quietly drawing him toward the rapids. Some one warns him: "Say, friend, you are hastening toward the rapids." "No, I am doing nothing, sir. My arms are folded. What have I done?" "But you are drawing toward the rapids." "I tell you, sir, I am not; I am doing nothing." You may try to convince him but he will be blind. So indeed he is not doing anything, but that current is quietly drawing him toward the cataract, and in a few moments he will go over. Many a man is flattering himself that he is not doing anything, but let him neglect salvation and he is lost.
The next man's excuse was one manufactured for the occasion. It was not one whit better than the excuse of the first man: "Take back word to thy Lord that I cannot come. I have got pressing business. I have bought five yoke of oxen and I must needs go to prove them." As if he had to prove his oxen that night at supper time He had plenty of time to prove his oxen. He had bought them, They were in his stall. But the fact was, he was like the first man; he did not want to go and had not the common honesty to say so, and so he says, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must needs go and prove them." He must go right off that night to prove them. That is his excuse. There is not a child five years old that cannot see that that excuse is just manufactured.
These men began to make excuse. They did not have one—they manufactured excuses to ease their consciences. It was nothing but a downright lie; that is what it was. Let us call things by their right names. People think if they can make a sort of plausible excuse they are justified. But these excuses are nothing but refuges of lies.
The third man's excuse is more absurd than the others; "I have married me a wife, and therefore I cannot come." Who likes to go to a feast better than a young bride? He might have taken his wife with him. He had no excuse. That was the excuse he was hiding behind. "I have married me a wife, and therefore I cannot come." If his wife would not go with him, he could let her stay at home, and he could go. This has got to be a personal matter. We are not going to heaven in families, as I said last night. It is a thing between you and your God. The invitation was extended to that man as the head of his own house. He was priest over his own household, and he had no excuse; but he just made up that excuse.
Now, there is nothing on record, you might say, against those three men. You might say there were a good many things noble about those men. It does not say that they were licentious; it does not say that they were drunkards; it does not say that they were dishonest; it does not say that they were thieves, but they only made excuses so as not to be at that feast. They did not want to accept of the feast.
I notice some of you smile as I take up those three excuses; but I would like to ask this congregation this question: Have you a better one? Come! I see a young man laughing down there. Have you a better excuse yourself? Come! Eighteen hundred years have rolled away, and they tell us we are living in a very wise age, that we are living in a very intellectual age, that men are growing much wiser, and that we know a good deal more than our fathers did; but with all men's boasted knowledge, can you find a man to-day who has a better excuse than those three men had? During the last three years I have spent most of my time talking to people about their salvation—their individual difficulties, and I have yet to find the first man or the first woman that can give me a better excuse than those three men had. I tell you that man or that woman cannot be found to-day. I will defy any man to come forward to-night and give me a better excuse than those three men had. The excuses men are hiding behind to-day are fearful. There is not an excuse that you would dare to give to God. Things look altogether different when you come to stand before Him.
Take a piece of paper, if you have it in your pocket, and a pencil and write down, "Why should I serve the God of this world? Second, Why should I serve the God of the Bible?" Then put down your reasons why you should serve the God of this world, and your reasons why you should serve the God of the Bible, and see how it looks; because it is clearly taught that we either serve the God of this world or the God of heaven. We cannot be neutral. There is no neutrality about this matter. We are either for God or against him. We cannot serve God and mammon. We are either serving the God of this world—that is, Satan—or we are serving the God of heaven. The line is drawn. You may not be able to see it, but God sees it. God knows the heart of every man and woman in this assembly. He knows all about us, and He sees right through the excuses we make. He looks at the heart. He does not look at the excuses you make. Those are only from the tongue. They are only manufactured in the head. He knows that the difficulty lies down in the heart. It is because you will not come unto Him It is not because men cannot come; it is because men set their wills up against God's will, and are not willing to yield.
One of the popular excuses of the present day is this good old book, the Bible. It is amazing to hear some men talk. I have touched upon this a number of times since I have come to Cleveland, but I find as I come out West a good deal of infidelity; men profess to be infidels. It is astonishing to hear them talk about the Bible—something they do not know anything about. I can find scarcely one of them that has ever looked into it and read it, and who knows anything about it. They have heard some infidel lecture—some scoffing, sneering man come along caviling at the Bible, and they have heard some few things that man has said, and they bring them out on all occasions. They will not look
into that Book and ask God to help them to understand it. If a man will be honest with God, God will be honest with him. There is no trouble about this Book; the trouble is with the life.
Wilmot, the great infidel, as he lay dying, putting "his hand upon that Book, said, "The only thing against that Book is a bad life." When a man has got a bad record against him, he wants to get that Book out of the way, because it condemns him; that is the trouble. The trouble is not with the Book; it is with your record and mine. Because that Book condemns sin we want to get it out of the way. Men do not like to be condemned; that is the trouble.
Then men say they cannot understand it. Well, you and the Bible agree exactly. A man was telling me some time ago that he could not understand the Bible. I said, "You and the Bible agree exactly." He said, "I don't agree with the Bible at all." "Well," I said, "you agree exactly," and I referred him to a passage in the prophecy of Daniel —"Many shall be purified and made white and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand." That is what Scripture says. If a man is living in sin, God is not going to reveal to that man his secrets.
I would like to ask those men who are giving this Bible as an excuse for not becoming Christians, who wrote that , book? Did bad men write it? It is a very singular thing that they should write their own condemnation, isn't it? How that book condemns bad men! Bad men would not write their own condemnation, would they? They do not do it nowadays, do they? They are the last ones to write their own condemnation. Well, if good men wrote a bad book, they could not be good, could they?
Now, it seems to me, that if a man will stop to think a moment he will see that the trouble is not with the book. The trouble is with himself. And when a man bows to the will of God, that book becomes food to his soul. He can feed on it, then; there is something to feed on. He gets life from it; he gets power, and he gets something that tells him how he can get victory over himself. I consider that the greatest triumph a man can have in this world. A man that knows how to rule himself is greater than he that taketh a city. Look at the misery and woe that has come into the world through that one door—men and women that cannot control themselves, that cannot control their tempers, their lusts, their passions, and their appetites. That book tells me how I can get victory over myself; and it is the only book in the wide world that can tell a man how to get victory over himself. I haven't time to dwell upon that excuse any longer.
There is another very common excuse, and I have heard it in Cleveland as much as any: "Why," they say, "Mr. Moody, you know it is a very hard thing to be a Christian—a very hard thing." When they tell me that I like to ask them, "Which is the hardest master, the devil"—for we will call him by his right name, because every man that serves not the Lord Jesus Christ, and will have nothing to do with the God of the Bible, is serving the god of this world. "Now, which is the easiest master?"
Christ says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Now, you go right along and say, "That is a lie." You don't say it right out in plain English, but we may as well talk plainly to-night. When you say it is hard to be a Christian you say that God is a liar; that it is an easier thing to serve the god of this world than it is the God of the Bible. Now, I want to say that I consider that one of the greatest lies that ever came out of the pit of hell; and how Satan can stand up in this nineteenth century and make men believe he is an easier master than the God of heaven, is one of the greatest mysteries of the present day.
"The way of the transgressor is hard." Blot it out if you can. Close up that book, and you will see the evidence of that fact all around you. There is not a day passes but you can read upon the pages of the daily papers, "The way of the transgressor is hard." I wish I could drive that lie back into hell where it came from.
You go over to the Tombs in New York city and you will find a little iron bridge running from the police court where the men are tried right in the cell. I think the New York officials have not been noted for their piety in your time and mine; but they had put up there in iron letters on that bridge, "The way of the transgressor is hard." They know that is true. Blot it out if you can. God Almighty said it. It is true. "The way of the transgressor is hard.'' On the other side of that bridge they put these words, "A bridge of sighs." I said to one of the officers, "What did you put that up there for?" He said that most of the young men (for most of the criminals are young men. "The wicked don't live out their days"—Put that in with it)—he said most of the young men as they passed over that iron bridge went over it weeping. So they called it the Bridge of Sighs. "What made you put that other there—'The way of the transgressor is hard?'" "Well," he said, "it is hard. I think if you had anything to do with this prison you would believe that text, 'The way of the transgressor is hard.'"
If a man will just look around him and keep in mind this one truth, "The way of the transgressor is hard," he will be thoroughly convinced inside of twenty-four hours that that passage of Scripture is true. It is not that God's service is hard. The trouble with men is they are trying to serve God with the old Adam nature. They are trying to serve God before they are born of God. Now, to tell a man in the flesh to serve God in the spirit, who is a Spirit, I would just as soon tell a man to try to jump over the moon and expect him to do it. He cannot do it. The natural man is not subject to the law of God and neither irdsed can be. You are not to try to serve Gou until you are born of God, until you are born again, born from above, until you are born of the Spirit; and when a man is born of the Spirit the yoke is easy and the burden is light. I have been in the service upwards of twenty years, and I want to testify to-night that my Master is not a hard Master. What say you ministers here to-night? Do you find him a hard Master? Speak out. I thought you would say so.
Ah, my friends, He is not a hard Master. I want to have you remember that. No, He is not a hard Master. That is one of the lies coming from the pit . "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." When a man submits his heart and will to God— takes Christ into his heart and lives a life of faith, it is delightful.
Now, I will tell you a good way to get at this. Put you people into a jury box. Just imagine you are on a jury to-night. I will take the most faithful follower the Lord Jesus has got in Cleveland. I don't know who the person is, it may be a man or woman that the papers, perhaps, have no record of. God knows where His loved ones are. It may be some poor person off in some dark street, but it is one who has great faith and walks with God, whose life is as pure and spotless and blameless as any person that you can find; one that has been living with Jesus Christ, say fifty years. Let that person come up on this platform to-night and speak out and testify. You will see in his face that he has not had a hard Master. There will be no wrinkles in that brow. There will be light in the eye, there will be peace stamped upon that brow, joy beaming from that countenance. He need not speak; let that person stand here and by his face he will show he has had a good Master and an easy Master.
Now, find the most faithful follower that the devil has got in Cleveland. Let him or her come up here. Ah! you need not speak. I think you would say "that is enough." You can tell by the looks, for the devil puts his mark upon his own. He stamps the mark deep. Men may try to get rid of it, but they carry the mark. And the Lord Jesus puts his stamp upon his own. You take the two and draw the contrast and see if that lie that has come from Satan is not as great a lie as ever was told—that our Lord is a hard Master. When people say they would like to become a Christian, but it is a hard thing to be a Christian, they virtually say God is a hard Master and Satan is an easy one.
Now do you think it easy to go against your own convictions? Because that is what men do. They have to stifle conscience to serve the god of this world and turn the back on the God of the Bible. Do you think it is an easy thing to go against your own judgment? For if a man will just stop and consult his judgment, his judgment will tell him that the safest, and wisest, and best thing he can do is to believe on the God of the Bible. Is it an easy thing to go against the advice and wishes of the best friends you have got? There is not a person in this congregation to-night that has got a true friend that would not advise him to serve the God of heaven. A man or woman that would advise you to serve the god of this world would be the worst enemy you could have. They would make the world dark and bitter. Is it an easy thing to trample a mother's prayers under your feet? to break a mother's heart and send her down to an untimely grave? That is easy, is it? Ah! many a man has done it. You call that easy. Is it easy to go against the very best counsel and advice you have from the best and most loved friends you have got? Hear what the Master said to Saul: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee"—he did not talk about its being hard for the disciples that Saul was going to put in prison, and, perhaps, have them stoned to death like Stephen. It was not as hard for Stephen to be stoned to death as it was for Saul to persecute him. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." It is hard for a man to contend with his Maker. It is hard for a man to fight against the God of the Bible. It is an unequal controversy. It is an unequal battle, and God is going to have the victory. It is folly for a man to attempt to fight against the God of that Bible.
Mr. Spurgeon uses this parable of a tyrant ordering a subject into his presence and saying to him: "What is your occupation?" "I am a blacksmith." "Well," says he, "I want you to go and make a chain a certain length," and he gave him nothing to make it with, "and on a certain day I want you to bring it into my presence." That day came. The blacksmith appeared with his chain. The tyrant says: "Take that chain and make it twice that length." He took' it, worked a long time and made it twice the length, and brought it back. The tyrant says: "Take that chain and make it twice the length." He made it twice the length and he had to get friends to help him get in the presence of the tyrant, and when he brought it back the tyrant says to his men standing around, "Take that man and bind him hand and foot and cast him into a dungeon ;" and, says Mr. Spurgeon, "That is what every man that is serving the god of this world is doing —forging the chain that is going to bind him." A man goes into a saloon and takes a social glass. You step up and tell that man of his danger; that he is binding himself, and that by and by he will be bound hand and foot, and he will laugh you to scorn and mock you; but he goes on adding link after link to that chain. By and by the tyrant has got him bound, and he says: "Now, let us see you assert your freedom." Men say they don't want to give up their freedom. There is no freedom until a man knows the Lord Jesus Christ. A man is a slave to sin, to his passions and lusts until Christ snaps the fetters and sets him free.
There was a man I used to know in Chicago that I talked to a great many times about drinking. He was a business man. He used to say: "I can stop when I please." One night I went out, and my family heard a strange noise. We lived on the corner. They heard him coming down the side street and he made an unearthly noise, and my wife said to the servants, "Are the doors locked?" He came around to the front door and tried to burst the door open. My wife says, "What do you want?" "Oh," he says, "I want to see your husband." "Well, he has gone down to the meeting.'' Away he started. I was walking down to the church and he went by me. He was running so fast he could not stop. He went on a rod or two and came back. The poor fellow was nearly frightened out of his life. He says, "I have got to die to-night." "Oh, no, you are not going to die." "I have got to die to-night. "Why," says I, "what is the trouble?" and I found the man had drank so much that he was under the power of the enemy. I saw what his trouble was. "Why," he says, "Satan is coming to my house to-night to take me to hell," and says he, "I have got to go.'' I begged of him to let me stay till one o'clock. He told me at one o'clock he will be back after me. I said, "He will not come after you." '' He will; there is no chance of my getting away from him. He is coming!" Well, I couldn't convince that man. Poor man! He had been serving the god of this world, and now he was reaping what he had been sowing. On that night I had six men come to that man's house and at one o'clock those six men could not hold him. "Look there! see him! There they are! They are after me! He is taking me! He is going to take me to hell! He is after me!" I thought that man would really die. Poor man! He is one of those men that thought God a hard master and the devil was one that was easy. That is the way the devil serves his subjects. Reaping time is coming. Poor man, he suffered untold agonies that night. Yet men, with all these witnesses around them, will go on drinking. A young man will go from this Tabernacle to-night, and go down to a saloon and order a glass and drink, and go on drinking, until by and by delirium seizes him and the snakes crawl around his body, and would seem as if death would lay right hold of him. I can't describe it. It would take some of these men that have been there to tell you about it. Oh, tell me that the devil is an easy master and that God is a hard one! Away with that lie; away with that excuse. My friends, never give it as long as you live. It is false.
When I was in Paris I saw a little oil painting, only about a foot square;it was at the Paris Exposition in 1867. I was going through the Art Gallery, and on that painting there was a little piece of white paper that attracted my attention. I went and looked at that white paper, and it said, "Sowing Tares," and there was the most hideous countenance I think I ever saw. A man was taking out a handful of seed, sowing tares all around him, and wherever a tare dropped there grew up some vile reptile, and they were crawling up his body and all around him. Off in the distance was a dark thicket, and prowling around the borders of that forest were wild beasts, and that hellish and fiendish look! What a fearful thing it is for a man to sow tares when he is going to reap them. And yet man goes on sowing with a liberal hand, and laughs and scoffs when we warn him and tell him what he is coming to by and by. The papers are full of it. I sometimes think these papers ought to preach the Gospel to the people—ought to warn them to flee from the wrath to come.
Look at that case we have just had in a court in New Jersey. Look at that poor man. For four long days the jury has been out. I don't know when my heart has been more touched than when I read that scene in court, when those little children climbed up on their father's knee and said, "Papa, papa, come home. Mamma cries so much now you are away.'' The law had him. Poor man! He reaped what he sowed. He had an uncontrollable temper. He took his weapon and shot down a coachman because he got mad with him. He never will get over it. He never can step back into the place where he was. The jury may acquit him. Poor man; he has got to reap a bitter, bitter reaping; what an awful thing sin is; and yet men will stand up with all these facts around them and tell you God is a hard master and the devil an easy one.
Let us look at the scene in the court. A young man just coming into manhood, twenty-one, promising, talented, gifted, beautiful young man, an only son; but he has been out drinking, and in a drunken spree helped kill a man, and now he is on trial for his life. In that court sit his father and mother and three lovely sisters. That is the only brother they have got. That is the only son they have got. The jury bring in the verdict, guilty; the man is sentenced to the penitentiary for life.
And with all these facts people stand up and say God is a hard master and the devil is an easy one. O, that the God of heaven may open our eyes to-night to show us how wicked it is to give these excuses, and that we will have to answer for them at the bar of God—for a person with an open Bible to say that God is a hard master and that Satan is an easy one.
I remember of closing a young men's meeting in Chicago a few years ago, when a young man got up and said, "Mr. Moody, would you allow me to say a few words?" And I said, "Say on." "Well," said he, "I want to say to these young men, that if they have friends that care for them, and friends that love them, and that are praying for them—I want to say you had better treat them kindly, for you will not always have them. I want to tell you something in my own experience. I was an only son, and I had a very godly father and mother. No young man in Chicago had a better father and mother than I had; and because I was an only child, I suppose, they were very anxious for my salvation> and they used to plead with me to come to Christ. My father many a time at the family altar used to break down in his attempt to pray for his only boy. At last my father died, and after my father died, my mother became more anxious than ever that I should become a Christian. Sometimes she would come and put her loving arms around my neck and say, 'My boy, if you were only a Christian, I would be so happy. If you would take your father's place at the family worship, and help me worship God, it would cheer your mother.' I used to push her away and say, 'Mother, don't talk to me that way; I don't want to become a Christian yet, I want to see something of the world.' Sometimes I would wake up in the night and hear my mother praying, 'O, God, save my boy!' and it used to trouble me, and at last I ran away to get away from my mother's influence, and away from her prayers. I became a wanderer. I did not let her know where I went. When I did hear from home indirectly, I heard that that mother was sick. I knew what it meant. I knew it was my conduct that was crushing that mother and breaking her heart, and I thought I would go home and ask her forgiveness. Then the thought came that if I did I would have to become a Christian, and my proud heart would not yield. I would not go. Months went on, and I heard again indirectly. I believe that if my mother had known where I was she would have come to me. I believe she would have gone around the world to find her boy. And when I heard that she was worse, .the thought came over me that she might not recover, and I thought that I would go home and cheer her lonely heart. There was no railway in the town, and I had to take the stage. I got into town about dark. The moon had just begun to shine. My mother lived back about a mile and a half from the hotel, and I started back on foot, and on my way I had to go by the village grave-yard. When I got to it I thought I would go and see if there was a new-made grave. I can't tell why, but my heart began to droop, and as I drew near that spot I trembled. By the light of the moon I saw a new-made grave. For the first time in my life this question came stealing over me, Who is going to pray for my lost soul now? Father has gone and mother is dead. They are the only two that ever cared for me, the only two that ever prayed for me. I took up the earth and saw that the grave was a new-made grave; I saw that my mother had just been laid away; and, young men, I spent that night by my mother's grave. I did not leave it until daybreak; but as the morning sun came up, right there by my mother's grave, I gave myself away to my mother's God, and then and there settled the great question of eternity, and I became a child of God. I never will forgive myself. I murdered that sainted mother."
Poor man! He was reaping what he sowed. Tell me that the way of the transgressor is easy! Tell me that God is a hard Master, and that the devil is an easy one! Young men, take the God of your mother; take the God of the Bible to be your God. Set your faces like a flint towards heaven to-night, and it will be the best night of your life. I wish I could say something to induce you to come to Christ. I wish I could see souls pressing into the kingdom of God. May the God of all grace touch every heart here to-night.