You will find my text to-night in the third chapter of Romans and the 226. verse. "For there is no difference." I will venture to say there are a good many here to-night that will differ with the text. But I didn't make it; and I am not going to quarrel with you. If you don't like it you must settle it with the Word of God. I just give it you as I have got it. If I had a servant working for me and I should send that servant to deliver a message, and he thought it didn't sound right and should change the message, I think I should change servants, I should want him to deliver the message just as I sent it. If I am going to be the messenger of God to-night—if I am going to preach the gospel to you, I have to give you the law as well as the gospel.
Now, we find in this third chapter of Romans, Paul is bringing in the law to show man his guilt. If a man wants to read his own biography he should turn to the third chapter of Romans and he will find it all there. A great many men are anxious to get their lives written. Why, they are already written. God knows more about you than you do about yourselves. If you want to find out what a man is by nature, all you have to do is to read the third chapter of Romans. It is all there. If you want to find out what God is, read the third chapter of John and you will find that God so loved the world, even fallen man, that He gave His Son to die for him.
Now, I do not know a text in the Bible that the natural man dislikes any more than this one. I have a great many people attack me for preaching this doctrine of "No difference." I was led to take it up to-night by what I heard last night in the inquiry room. There was a moralist there—that is, he said he was a moralist—and he could not understand just how he was as bad as other people. Now, the longer I live, and the more I mingle with men, the more I am convinced that moralists are scarce, after all. There are a great many who think they are very moral; but I venture to say, if your sins and my sins—I won't leave out one now; I take every man and woman in this audience—if all our secret thoughts, and all that has been in our hearts, should be written on yonder wall, there would be the greatest stampede you ever saw. You would get out of this hall as if you were struck with the plague. You know very well that if your sins were all brought to light you would not talk about being moralists, or about being so very good. Now, man is not so very good by nature after all. "The heart is deceitful above all things.'' Man is being deceived by his own heart. Man is bad by nature. I don't think you have got to go inside of yourself to find out that you are bad. If you will only get a look at yourself, if man could only see himself as God sees him, he would not be talking about his righteousness. It would be gone very quick.
Now, just the moment we begin to preach from this text man begins to strengthen up and say, "I don't believe it." We think we are a little better than our neighbors—a little better than other people.
The next verse throws light upon it. "There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Every one.
It would be an absurd thing to make a law without a penalty. I believe the state of Massachusetts, a few years ago, did make a law without a penalty, and that legislature became the laughing stock of the whole state. What is a law without a penalty? Suppose your state legislature should pass a law that no man in the state of Ohio shall steal, and fix no penalty to it, the thieves would be in your houses before you got home to-night. What do they care for a law that has no penalty? God's law has a penalty to it. There are not ten different laws.
They are one law. Some people seem to think the ten commandments are ten different laws. They are one law. If you have broken one of them you have broken the law, and are therefore guilty. I need not break the decalogue to be a sinner; if I break one of these commandments I have broken the law of God. You need not take up all the rails on the railroad track between here and Chicago to have a collision—only one rail. A man may say he has a good fence around his pasture, but if he leaves one gap the cattle get out. What is the fence good for? Take one inch of pipe out of that gas pipe and the gas is cut off from this building. You need not take out all the pipe—take out one inch and there is no gas. So if a man has broken the law of God he is guilty; he is a criminal in the sight of God. That is the teaching of the third chapter of Romans. You will find it all through the teachings of Christ: he that breaketh the least of the law is guilty of all. Why? Because he has broken the law of God. He has transgressed the law of God and become guilty in the sight of a pure God. A perfect God could give nothing but a perfect law—a perfect standard. There is no trouble about the law. Your life and property would not be safe if it were not for the law. The law is all right. Skeptics find fault with the Bible. You seldom find an infidel attacking the law of God. That is all right. We have to have law— could not live without law. The trouble is, man has broken the law of God. If you have broken one commandment you are guilty in the sight of God. If I was hanging from yonder ceiling by a chain of one hundred links and one link should break, down I would come. The links do not all need to break to let me fall.
When God put man in Eden he bound him to the throne of heaven by a golden chain. When Adam fell he broke that golden chain. Man is lost. He is out of communion with God. Some men say, "Well, do you pretend to say I am as bad as other people?" I don't know but what you are worse. The moralist straightens up and says, "I am not as bad as that drunkard. Do you call me as bad as that thief, that adulterer, and that libertine? Do you call me as bad as that forger, that defaulter?" I don't know but what you are worse; really, I can't tell. God judges us according to the light we have had. Suppose I have had nothing but light from earliest childhood up; that I have been nursed in a religious family; I have heard all about God, but I turn my back upon all His teachings, and I praise myself because I think I am better than other people, and call myself a moralist. Here is a young man who has a cursing father and a cursing mother, and has heard nothing but cursings and blasphemies. He has had no light. It may be I am worse in the sight of God than that man. The idea of a man drawing the filthy rags of self-righteousness about him and thinking he. is better than other people! The fact is, there is not any thing that grows on this Adam tree that is good. It is all bad. I will admit that some men have more fruit than others. Suppose you have two trees, both miserable, worthless, good for nothing. One has five hundred apples and the other only five. One has more fruit, but both bad. So one may be more fruitful in bringing forth sin, but both bad.
A friend of mine went into a jail some time ago and fell to talking with the prisoners. He began to talk with one who was a murderer, and he tried to rouse the man up to talk about his awful guilt, but the man thought he was not so very bad after all. "Why," said he, "you talk as if I was the worst man in the world. There is a man down in the other cell who has killed six men; I have only killed one." There he was trying to justify himself. That is the cry all over the world at the present time. Men are measuring themselves by men, and they think that because they have not committed as many sins as other people they are not so bad. If they could just get a glimpse of their own hearts, they would see that they were black and vile.
Now, God never gave the law to save any man. The law was given that every man's mouth might be stopped, and the whole world become guilty before God. When a man gets a good look at himself in God's law, he does not try to make out that he is better than other people; he gets down in the dust, and he cries, "God be merciful to me a sinner.
Suppose an artist should come here to Cleveland and advertise that he could photograph men's hearts —that he could get a correct likeness of what is in a man's heart—do you think he would take a single likeness in all Cleveland? People arrange their toilets, go to the artists and get their photographs taken; and if the artist flatters them a little and makes them look a little better than they really do look, they say, "Yes, that is a very good likeness," and they send it to their friends and pass it around by post. I got one to-night from a friend, and it was a very fine one.
But suppose you could get a photograph of your heart. Do you think you would send that around? There is not a man in all Cleveland who would have a photograph of his heart taken. You know it very well. There is not any thing that will close a man's mouth about his being so pure, and good, and moral, as to get a look at himself in God's lookingglass. The law is God's looking-glass dropped down into the world that man may see himself as God sees him. Or, in other words, the law is made that man may see how he has fallen short of God's standard.
Just a, little while before the Chicago fire, I said to my family at breakfast that I would come home after dinner and take them out riding. My little boy jumped up and said, '' Papa, will you take us up to Lincoln Park to see the bears?" "Yes, take you up to Lincoln Park to see the bears." You know that boys like to see animals. I hadn't more than gone off before he began to tease his mother to get him ready. She washed him, put a white dress on him, got him all ready. Then he wanted to go outdoors. When he was a little fellow he had a strange passion for eating dirt, and when I drove up, his face was all covered with dirt and his dress was dirty. He came running up to me and wanted me to take him up in the carriage to Lincoln Park. Said I, "Willie, I can't take you in that state; I have got to wash you." "No, I'se clean!" "No, you are not. You are dirty. I shall have to wash you before I can take you outriding." "O, I'se clean, I'se clean! Mamma washed me." "No," I said, "you are not." The little fellow began to cry, and I thought the quickest way to stop him was to show him himself. So I got out of the carriage, and took him into the house, and showed him his face in the looking-glass. That stopped his mouth. He never said his face was clean after he saw himself But I didn't take the looking-glass to wash him with. I took him away to the water. The law is only given to show man his needs; to show man his guilt—not to save him. The law is a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. But the law never saved a man, never will, and never can. The law condemns me, shows me my guilt. But Christ comes and saves me from the curse of the law. Paul says, in this very chapter, that the law was given that every mouth might be stopped; and when men will get done measuring themselves by their neighbors, by their friends, and will begin to measure themselves by God's law, they will see just where they are. They will see how they have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and they will not see it before.
Why, you may go to yonder prison at Columbus, and you will find there, probably, a thousand prisoners, more or less, some of them are there for forgery, some for rape, some for theft, some for manslaughter, some for murder; and you will find, perhaps, a hundred different kinds of prisoners. But the law makes no difference. They have all sinned, and come short of the requirements of the law of the state. They have broken the law. They have transgressed and when they came to that prison they all went in alike. Their hair was cut short and they put on the garb of the prison and they are there. "There is no difference." The law of this state recognizes "no difference." They are criminals. They are guilty.
Not long ago one of these whiskey men was taken up by the law—a man estimated to be worth a million dollars—and he was sent to prison, and when he got to the prison door and wanted to take his trunk in, they said, "No, you can't take that." "Well," he said, "I am afraid I can't get on with the prison fare, and I have brought a few things for my own comfort." "No," they said, "there is no difference here. The law recognizes no difference."
You may divide society into a hundred classes. There are the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned, men of culture, men of science. But the law of God recognizes no difference. If a man has broken the law of God, I tell you, my friends, there is no difference; and the quicker you can find it out the better. A man up here on this avenue, worth his millions, who dies without Christ, without God and without hope, goes down to his grave like a beggar, and there will be no difference one minute after his death; and ten days after he is in his grave the worms will feed upon his body as they would upon a beggar. We make a great difference, but God does not look at things as we do.
Now, the object of this discourse is to get you people to-night to give up measuring yourselves by other people. If you want to get a correct measurement, measure yourself by the law of God, and see where you are.
A few years ago, when the city of Chicago was incorporated as a city, they gave the Mayor power to appoint policemen. When the city was small, the plan worked very well, but when it got to be large, it was too much power in one man's hands, and he would use that power to secure his re-election, and the thing worked disastrously for the city government. Some citizens went to Springfield to our legislature, and got through a Police bill that took the power out of the hands of the Mayor, and placed it in the hands of a Board of Police Commissioners. The law provided that no man should be a policeman unless he was of a certain height. I remember there was a great rush to headquarters to get appointments as policemen. Men were going all over the city getting recommendations, because it was said no man would get an appointment that hadn't a good character. Now, for my illustration. Suppose that Mr. Doane and myself want to get in as policemen; we are running around getting letters from leading men of Chicago. We meet at the door at the appointed time, and I say, "Mr. Doane, I think I have as good a chance as any man in this crowd. I have letters from United States senators, representative in Congress, the mayor of the city and judges of the supreme court." "Well," says Mr. Doane, "I have letters from the same ones, and I am sure they do not speak any more highly of you than they do of me." I step up to the Commissioner and lay down my letters, and the Commissioner says to me, "Mr. Moody, those letters may be all right, but before we read those letters, we will measure you. The law says you must be of a certain height.'' I stand up and am measured, but I don't come within the requirement of the law. The law says I must be five feet and six inches—for illustration call it that—and I am only five feet. I do not come but within a half a foot of it, and he hands the letters back to me and says, "Your letters may be all right, Mr. Moody, but you have come short of the standard; the law says you shall be five feet and six inches." Mr. Doane looks down upon me and he says, "Mr. Moody, I am a little taller than you are." I say, "Mr. Doane, don't say anything, wait until you are measured." Mr. Doane steps up, and he is five feet five inches and nine-tenths of an inch. He has come short only one-tenth of an inch. There is no difference.
The way to measure yourself is by God's requirements. Is there a man here who is willing to be measured to-night? Are you willing to be measured by the law of God, and not by your neighbors and by your friends? That is working the mischief. People are all the time measuring themselves by their neighbors and friends. Be measured by the law of God, and see where you are. I do not know of anything that will stop a man's mouth quicker. He will not be talking about being better than his neighbors if he measures himself by God's law. Have you kept it? That is the question.
I can imagine Noah leaving the ark and going out to preach from this text: "There is no difference. Every man that does not get into the ark shall perish." Those antedeluvians would have laughed at him; they would have said, '' Noah you had better get back into the ark and not talk that stuff to us." "There is no difference. All are going to perish alike," says Noah. "Every man that does not get into the ark will perish." They would have caviled at him and laughed at him. I doubt whether or not they would not have stoned him to death. But did that change the fact? The flood came and took them all away—kings, governors, judges, rulers, drunkards, harlots, thieves all swept away alike. "There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." I can imagine Abraham leaving his tent and Lot going down into Sodom a few days before Sodom was destroyed, and preaching from the text. '' There is no difference, God is going to rise in judgment upon these cities of the plain. Every man that does not escape from this city God will destroy. When he comes to deal in judgment there will be no difference.'' - Those Sodomites would have laughed at him. They would have told him he had better go back to his tent and his altar. But the fire came and they were all destroyed alike. The king of Sodom, princes, governors, rulers, all perished alike.
I can imagine Christ preaching to those men in Jerusalem. "God is going to judge Jerusalem, and when God comes in judgment there will be no difference." And when God judged Jerusalem eleven hundred thousand perished. There was no difference. All perished alike.
It seems to me I got a glimpse in the Chicago fire of what the Judgment will be, when I saw that fire rolling down the streets of Chicago, twenty and thirty feet high, consuming man and everything in its march that did not flee. I saw there the millionaire and the beggar fleeing alike. There was no difference. That night our great men, learned men, wise men, all fled alike. There was no difference. And when God comes to judge the world, there will be no difference. Because you are in a higher position, or because you have a little wealth, because you have a title to your name or some position in this world, if you are out of Christ—out of the ark, it will make no difference. God has provided an ark of refuge. God says, "Come in." God has provided salvation. "The grace of God hath appeared bringing salvation to all men.'' You spurn the offer of mercy. You just turn aside from this gift. Many a man is kicking this unspeakable gift around as he would a foot-ball—as if it was not worth picking up. Whose fault is it? God has provided salvation for all. M any a man turns his head with a scornful look and says: "I don't want it." Ah, my friends, if you refuse this gift you must perish. There will be no difference when God comes in judgment.
Wherever man had been tried without God he has been a failure. God put Adam in Eden, surrounded him with everything that heart could desire, and Satan walked in and stripped him of every
thing he had. I don't believe Satan was in the garden thirty minutes before he had everything that Adam had. He was a failure. Then God took man and made a covenant with him. He says to Abraham, "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.'' After that covenant man was a failure. He turned away from God. What a stupendous failure man was under the Judges! Then we find God bringing them to Sinai and giving them the law. Who would have thought they were not going to keep it! Moses went up into the mountain to have an interview with God and took Joshua with him, and was gone but forty days. Those men gathered around Aaron and said, "Where is Moses? We do not know anything about him. Make us a god to worship." They brought gold to him and he made them a golden calf. These very men that were going to keep the law, inside of thirty days were bowing down and worshiping a golden calf, and their children have been at it ever since. More people to-day bow down to the golden calf than to the God of heaven. Man away from God is a stupendous failure. Man was a failure under the prophets. Now, we have been two thousand years under grace, which means undeserved mercy; and what is man under grace but a failure without God? Pick up your daily papers and look at your daily records. Look at that transaction in Cincinnati within forty-eight hours! Look at what is occurring in all the towns, cities, and villages! Man away from God is a failure. When will men learn the lesson?
But I can imagine some of you say, "Is there no star to light this darkness? Are we to be left under this law?" Right here comes this gospel. Jesus came to redeem us from the law. Christ was the end of the law for righteousness' sake. He has atoned for sin! He has by the sacrifice of Himself put away sin. The law cannot touch me. Blessed truth. The law condemns me, but Christ saves me. The law casts me down, but Christ lifts me up. If you can afford to turn away from such a Savior and go on in your sins and take the consequences, you can take a greater responsibility upon yourself than I would dare to do.
Perhaps I can illustrate this by an ificident that occurred during our war. When the war broke out there was a young man in New Englard who was engaged to be married to a young lady. He enlisted for three years. Letters passed between them. He wrote to her after every battle. The three years were nearly up. She was counting the days before he would return. The battle of the Wilderness came on. She got no letter for some time. Day after day she went to the little village postoffice, but got no letter; but at last one came in a strange handwriting, written by one of his comrades. She tore it open. It stated that he had lost both of his arms in that battle, and how he loved her, but as he would be dependent upon the charities of a cold world for his support, and as she was worthy of a noble husband he released her from the engagement and she was at liberty to marry whom she pleased. She never answered that letter. The next train that left that little village for the South she was on. She went to the army, and her tears and entreaties took her beyond the lines, and she got down to the hospital in the Wilderness. She got the number of the ward or the cot he was in. She went down that long line of cots and at last her eye fixed upon that number. She rushed to that cot, and bent over and kissed that armless man, and she said, "I will never give you up. These hands will toil for you. I am able to support you and care for you.'' That young man could have spurned her offer and turned her away and said, "No, I will not carry out the engagement." He was a free agent. But she came to him in his helpless condition, and now they are living a happy life. She has been true to her word. She takes care of that man.
Ah, my friends, it is a poor illustration of what Jesus Christ will do for every sinner in this hall tonight. We are worse than armless. We are dead in trespasses and sins. Christ came from the throne of heaven and redeemed us from the law. "He bore our sins for us in his own body on the tree.1 "He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquity, and by His stripes we are healed." He took the penalty of the law into His own bosom. He tasted death for every man. Christ was the end of the law by giving up His own life. Sinner, will you have Him as your Savior? Will you let Him redeem you from the curse of the law to-night? Will you to-night pass from death unto life? You can, if you will, have Him. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." And when you and I stand before God, the question will be: "What did you do with My Son? I offered you eternal life through Him. What did you do with Him?"