Study of Subjects—Love—Sanctification—Faith—Justification—Atonement—Conversion—Heaven—Revivals— Separation —Grace —Prayer— Assurance — God's Promises.
I FIND some people now and then who boast that they have read the Bible through in so many months. Others read the Bible chapter by chapter,and get through it in a year; but I think it would be almost better to spend a year over one book. If I were going into a court of justice, and wanted to carry the jury with me, I should get every witness I could to testify to the one point on which I wanted to convince the jury. I would not get them to testify to everything, but just to that one thing. And so it should be with the Scriptures.
I took up that word "Love" and I do not know how many weeks I spent in studying the passages in which it occurs, till at last I could not help loving people.. I had been feeding so long on Love that I was anxious to do everybody good I came in contact with.
Take Sanctification. I would rather take my concordance and gather passages on sanctification and sit down for four or five days and study them than have men tell me about it.
I suppose that if all the time that I have prayed for Faith was put together, it would be months. I 88 Study of Subjects.
used to say when I was President of the Young Men's Christian Association in Chicago, "What we want is faith; if we only have faith, we can turn Chicago upside down"—or rather, right side up. I thought that some day faith was going to come down, and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, "Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.
Take the doctrine that made Martin Luther such a power, Justification—"The just shall live by faith." When that thought flashed through Martin Luther's mind as he was ascending the Scala Santa on his knees (although some people deny the truth of this statement), he rose and went forth to be a power among the nations of the earth. Justification puts a man before God as if he had never sinned; he stands before God like Jesus Christ. Thank God, in Jesus Christ we can be perfect, but there is no perfection out of Him. God looks in His ledger, and says, "Moody, your debts have all been paid by Another; there is nothing against you."
In New England there is perhaps no doctrine assailed so much as the Atonement. The Atonement is foreshadowed in the garden of Eden; there is the innocent suffering for the guilty, the animals slain for Adam's sin. We find it in Abraham's day, in Moses' day; all through the books of Moses and the prophets. Look at the fifty-third of Isaiah, and at the prophecy of Daniel. Then we come into the Gospels, and Christ says, "I lay down My life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself."
People talk about Conversion—what is conversion? The best way to find out is from the Bible. A good many don't believe in sudden conversions. You can die in a moment. Can't you receive life in a moment?
When Mr. Sankey and myself were in one place in Europe a man preached a sermon against the pernicious doctrines that we were going to preach, one of which was sudden conversion. He said conversion was a matter of time and growth. Do you know what I do when any man preaches against the doctrines I preach? I go to the Bible and find out what it says, and if I am right I give them more of the same kind. I preached more on sudden conversion in that town than in any town I was in in my life. I would like to know how long it took the Lord to convert Zaccheus? How long did it take the Lord to convert that woman whom He met at the well of Sychar? How long to convert that adulterous woman in the temple, who was caught in the very act of adultery? How long to convert that woman who anointed His feet and wiped them with the hairs of her head? Didn't she go with the word of God ringing in her ears, "Go in peace"?
There was no sign of Zaccheus being converted when he went up that sycamore tree, and he was converted whe-n he came down, so he must have been converted between the branch and the ground. Pretty sudden work, wasn't it? But you say, "That go Conversion. ,
is because Christ was there." Friends, they were converted a good deal faster after He went away than when He was here. Peter preached, and three thousand were converted in one day. Another time, after three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John healed a man at the gate of the Temple, and then went in and preached, and five thousand were added to the church before night, and Jews at that. That was rather sudden work. Professor Drummond describes a man going into one of our after-meetings and saying he wants to become a Christian. "Well, my friend, what is the trouble?" He doesn't like to tell. He is greatly agitated. Finally he says, "The fact is, I have overdrawn my account"—a polite way of saying he has been stealing. "Did you take your employer's money?" "Yes." "How much?" "1 don't know. I never kept account of it." "Well, you have an idea you stole $1,500 last year?" "I am afraid it is that much." "Now, look here, sir, I don't believe in sudden work; don't you steal more than a thousand dollars this next year, and the next year not more than five hundred, and in the course of the next few years you will get so that you won't steal any. If your employer catches you, tell him you are being converted; and you will get so that you won't steal any by and by." My friends, the thing is a perfect farce. "Let him that stole, steal no more," that is what the Bible says. It is right about face.
Take another illustration. Here comes a man and he admits that he gets drunk every week. That man comes to a meeting and he wants to be converted. I say, "Don't you be in a hurry. I believe in doing the work gradually. Don't you get drunk and knock your wife down more than once a month." Wouldn't it be refreshing to your wife to go a whole month without being knocked down? Once a month, only twelve times in a year! Wouldn't she be glad to have you converted in this new way! Only get drunk after a few years on the anniversary of your wedding, and at Christmas; and then it will be effective because it is gradual. Oh! I detest all that kind of teaching. Let us go to the Bible and see what that old Book teaches. Let us believe it, and go and act as if we believed it, too. Salvation is instantaneous. I admit that a man may be converted so that he can not tell when he crossed the line between death and life, but I also believe a man may be a thief one moment and a saint the next. I believe a man may be as vile as hell itself one moment, and be saved the next.
Christian growth is gradual, just as physical growth is; but a man passes from death unto everlasting life quick as an act of the mind—"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
People say they want to become heavenly-minded. Well, read about heaven and talk about it. I once preached on " Heaven," and after the meeting a lady came to me and said, "Why, Mr. Moody, I didn't know there were so many verses in the Bible about heaven." And I hadn't taken one out of a hundred. She was amazed that there was so much in the Bible about heaven.
When you are away from home, how you look for news! You skip everything in the daily paper until your eye catches the name of your own town or 92 Study of Subjects.
country. Now the Christian's home is in heaven. The Scriptures contain our title-deeds to everything we shall be worth when we die. If a will has your name in it, it is no longer a dry document. Why, then, do not Christians take more interest in the Bible?
Then, again, people say they don't believe in revivals. There's not a denomination in the world that didn't spring from a revival. There are the Catholic and Episcopal churches claiming to be the apostolic churches and to have sprung from Pentecost; the Lutheran from Martin Luther, and so on. They all sprung out of revivals, and yet people talk against revivals! I'd as soon talk against my mother as against a revival. Wasn't the country revived under John the Baptist? Wasn't it under Christ's teachings? People think that because a number of superficial cases of conversion occur at revivals, that therefore revivals ought to be avoided. They forget the parable of the sower, where Jesus himself warns us of emotional hearers, who receive the word with joy, but soon fall away. If only one out of every four hearers is truly converted, as in the parable, the revival has done good.
Suppose you spend a month on Regeneration, or The Kingdom of God, or The Church in the New Testament, or the divinity of Christ or the attributes of God. It will help you in your own spiritual life, and you will become a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of-truth.
Make a study of the Holy Spirit. There are probably five hundred passages on the Holy Spirit, and what you want is to study this subject for yourself. Take the Return of our Lord. I know it is a controverted subject. Some say He is to come at the end of the Millennium, others say this side of the Millennium. What we want is to know what the Bible says. Why not go to the Bible and study it up for yourself; it will be worth more to you than anything you get from anyone else. Then Separation. I believe that a Christian man should lead a separated life. The line between the church and the world is almost obliterated to-day. I have no sympathy with the idea that you must hunt up an old musty church record in order to find out whether a man is a member of the church or not. A man ought to live so that everybody will know he is a Christian. The Bible tells us to lead a separate life. You may lose influence, but you will gain it at the same time. I suppose Daniel was the most unpopular man in Babylon at a certain time, but, thank God, he has outlived all the other men of his time. Who were the chief men of Babylon? When God wanted any work done in Babylon, He knew where to find some one to do it. You can be in the world, but not of it. Christ didn't take His disciples out of the world, but He prayed that they might be kept from evil. A ship in the water is all right, but when the water gets into the ship, then look out. A worldly Christian is just like a wrecked vessel at sea.
I remember once I took up the grace of God. I didn't know the difference between law and grace. When that truth dawned upon me and I saw the difference, I studied the whole week on grace and I got so filled that I couldn't stay in the house. I said to the first man I met, "Do you know anything about 94 Study of Subjects.
the grace of God?" He thought I was a lunatic. And I just poured out for about an hour on the grace of God.
Study the subject of Prayer. "For real business at the mercy seat," says Spurgeon, "give me a homemade prayer, a prayer that comes out of the depths of your heart, not because you invented it, but because the Holy Spirit put it there. Though your words are broken and your sentences disconnected,' God will hear you. Perhaps you can pray better without words than with them. There are prayers that break the backs of words; they are too heavy for any human language to carry."
Some people say, " I do not believe in Assurance." I never knew anybody who read their Bibles who did not believe in Assurance. This Book teaches nothing else. Paul says, "I know in whom I have believed." Job says, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." It is not " I hope," " I trust."
The best book on Assurance was written by one called "John," at the back part of the Bible. He wrote an epistle on this subject. Sometimes you just get a word that will be a sort of key to the epistle, and which unfolds it. Now if you turn to John 20:31, you will find it says, " These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through His name." Then if you turn to I. John 5:13, you will read thus: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life; and that ye .may believe on the name of the Son of God." That whole epistle is written on assurance. I have no doubt John had found some people who questioned about assurance and doubted whether they were saved or not, and he took up his pen and said, " I will settle that question;" and he wrote that last verse in the twentieth chapter of his gospel.
I have heard some people say that it was not their privilege to know that they were saved; they had heard the minister say that no one could know whether they were saved or not; and they took what the minister said, instead of what the Word of God said. Others read the Bible to make it fit in and prove their favorite creed or notions; and if it does not do so, they will not read it. It has been well said that we must not read the Bible by the blue light of Presbyterianism; nor by the red light of Methodism; nor by the violet light of Episcopalianism; but by the light of the Spirit of God. If you will take up your Bible and study " assurance" for a week, you will soon see it is your privilege to know that you are a child of God.
Then take the promises of God. Let a man feed for a month on the promises of God, and he will not talk about his poverty, and how downcast he is, and what trouble he has day by day. You hear people say, "Oh, my leanness! how lean I am!" My friends, it is not theii leanness, it is their laziness. If you would only go from Genesis to Revelation, and see all the promises made by God to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to the Jews and the Gentiles, and to all His people everywhere; if you would spend a month feeding on the precious promises of God, you would not go about with your heads hanging down like bulrushes, complaining how poor you are; but you g6 The Promises of God.
would lift up your heads with confidence and proclaim the riches of His grace, because you could not help it. After the Chicago fire a man came up to me and said in a sympathizing tone, "I understand you lost everything, Moody, in the Chicago fire." "Well, then," said I, "some one has misinformed you." "Indeed! Why I was certainly told you had lost all." "No; it is a mistake," I said, "quite a mistake." "Have you got much left, then?" asked my friend. "Yes," I replied, "I have got much more left than I lost; though I can not tell how much I have lost." "Well, I am glad of it, Moody; I did not know you were that rich before the fire." "Yes," said I," "I am a good deal richer than you could conceive; and here is my title-deed, 'He that overcometh shall inherit all things.'" They say the Rothschilds can not tell how much they are worth; and that is just my case. All things in the world are mine; I am joint heir with Jesus the Son of God. Someone has said, "God makes a promise; Faith believes it; Hope anticipates it; and Patience quietly awaits it."