Personal Work—Three Kinds of Church Services— Church Members—Individual Experience—One hiquirer at a Time—Those who lack Assurance— Backsliders—Not Convicted of Sin—Deeply Convicted—The Divinity of Christ—Can't Hold Out— No Strength—Feelings—Can't Believe—Can't be Saved all at Once—Not Now—Further Suggestions.
PERSONAL dealing is of the most vital importance. No one can tell how many persons have been lost to the Kingdom of God through lack of following up the preaching of the Gospel by personal work. It is deplorable how few church-members are qualified to deal with inquirers, yet that is the very work in which they ought most efficiently to aid the pastor. People are not usually converted under the preaching of the minister. It is in the inquiry-meeting that they are most likely to be brought to Christ. They are perhaps awakened under the minister, but God generally uses some one person to point out the way of salvation and bring the anxious to a decision. Some people can't see the use of inquiry-meetings, and think they are something new, and that we haven't any authority for them. But they are no innovation. We read about them all through the Bible. When John the Baptist was preaching he was interrupted. It would be a good thing if people would interrupt the minister now and then in the middle of some metaphysical sermon, and ask what he means. The only way to make sure that people understand what he is talking about is to let them ask questions. I don't know what some men, who have got the whole address written out, would do if some one should get up and ask: "What must I do to be saved?" Yet such questions would do more good than anything else you could have. They would awake a spirit of inquiry. Some of Christ's sweetest teachings were called forth by questions.
THREE KINDS OF CHURCH SERVICES.
There ought to be three kinds of services in all churches: one for worship—to offer praise, and to wait on the Lord in prayer; another for teaching; and at these services there needn't be a word to the unconverted, (although some men never close any meeting without presenting the Gospel), but let them be for the church people; and a third for preaching the Gospel. Sunday morning is the best time for teaching, but Sunday night is the best night in the whole week, of the regular church services, to preach the simple Gospel of the Son of God. When you have preached that, and have felt the power of the unseen world, and there are souls trembling in the balance, don't say, as I have heard good ministers say: "//"there are any in this place concerned — at all concerned — about their souls, I will be in the pastor's study on Friday night, and will be glad to see them." By that time the chances are the impression will be all wiped out. Deal with them that night before the devil snatches away the good seed. Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, there should 114 Personal Work.
be an expectation of immediate results, and if this were the case the Church of Christ would be in a constant state of grace.
"Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." How much would Paul and Barnabas have accomplished if they had pronounced the benediction and sent these people home? It is a thing to weep over that we have got thousands and thousands of churchmembers who are good for nothing towards extending the Kingdom of God. They understand bazaars, and fairs, and sewing-circles; but when you ask them to sit down and show a man or woman the way into God's kingdom, they say: "Oh, I am not able to do that. Let the deacons do it, or some one else." It is all wrong. The Church ought to be educated on this very point. There are a great many church-members who are just hobbling about on crutches. They can just make out that they are saved, and imagine that is all that constitutes a Christian in this nineteenth century. As far as helping others is concerned, that never enters their heads. They think if they can get along themselves, they are doing amazingly well. They have no idea what the Holy Ghost wants to do through them.
No matter how weak you are, God can use you; and you cannot say what a stream of salvation you may set in motion. John the Baptist was a young man when he died; but he led Andrew to Christ, and Andrew led Peter, and so the river flowed on.
LAYING DOWN RULES.
I admit you can't lay down positive rules in dealing with inquirers. Tin soldiers are exactly alike, but not so men. Matthew and Paul were a good way apart. The people we deal with may be widely different. What would be medicine for one might be rank poison for another. In the 15th of Luke, the elder son and the younger son were exactly opposite. What would have been good counsel for one might have been ruin to the other. God never made two persons to look alike. If we had made men, probably we would have made them all alike, even if we had to crush some bones to get them into the mould. But that is not God's way. In the universe there is infinite variety. The Philippian jailer required peculiar treatment. Christ dealt with Nicodemus one way, and the woman at the well another way.
YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE.
It is a great mistake, in dealing with inquirers, to tell your own experience. Experience may have its place; but I don't think it has its place when we are dealing with inquirers. For the first thing the man you are talking to will do will be to look for your experience. He doesn't want your experience. He wants one of his own. Suppose Bartimeus had gone to Jerusalem to the man that was born blind, and said: "Now, just tell us how the Lord cured you." The Jerusalem man might have said: "He just spat on the ground, and anointed my eyes with the clay." "Ho!" says Bartimeus; "I don't believe you ever got your sight at all. Who ever heard of such a way as that? Why, to fill a Ii6 Your Own Experience.
man's eyes with clay is enough to put them out!" Both men were blind, but they were not cured alike. A great many men are kept out of the kingdom of God because they are looking for somebody else's experience—the experience their grandmother had, or their aunt, or some one in the family. I have a friend who, whenever he is sick, drinks hot water and goes to bed; he is sure that will always cure him. So one day last summer, when I did not feel well, he said: "Drink some hot water and go to bed, and you'll be all right. No matter what ails you, that cures everything." Just so many people use the Bible; they know a verse or two that helped them, and they give it to everybody. A man was converted under a railroad bridge; and his advice to all seekers was, "Go and get right down on your knees under that bridge, and the Lord will hear you and save you. He did me!"
ONE INQUIRER AT A TIME.
. Then it is very important to deal with one at a time. A doctor doesn't give cod-liver oil for all complaints. "No," he says, " I must see what each one wants." He looks at the tongue, and inquires into the symptoms. One may have ague, another typhoid fever, and another may have consumption. What a man wants is to be able to read his Bible, and to read human nature, too.
Those do best who do not run from one inquirer to another, offering words of encouragement everywhere. They would do better by going to but one or two of an afternoon or evening. We are building for eternity, and can take time. The work will not then be superficial.
Now, it will be a great help to divide inquirers into classes as far as possible, and bring certain passages of Scripture to bear on these classes.
THOSE WHO LACK ASSURANCE.
In the first place, there is a class of people who lack assurance. Of course they aie church-members, but there are plenty of people inside the church who need inquiry-work just as much as those outside. The First Epistle of John was written on purpose to help this class of doubting believers, and there are a good many of them. A lady once said, "I think it is presumption to say I know I am saved.' I told her I thought it was presumption to doubt it when God said so. The whole book of John was written for one thing, to help people out of Doubting Castle and to teach them they may know they are saved.
Frances Ridley Havergal once said: "I have lost the weary bondage of doubt. I could not before see why I should be saved, I cannot now see; why I should not be saved if Christ died for sinners. On that word I took my stand and rest there."
Next, the class of backsliders. You always find when Christians are awakened there are a great many returning backsliders, and you want to know how to deal with them. Backsliders are doing a vast amount of injury. One backslider will do more harm than twenty Christian men can do good. Unconverted people say: "Here are some men who have tried this life. If there is as much joy in it as you make out, how is it that so many people are dissatisfied and go back into the world?" It is a hard argument to overcome. It is very important to get Ii8 Backsliders.
these stumbling-blocks out of the way. Now, in dealing with backsliders, I use Jeremiah more than any other book in the Bible. Some use only the New Testament, but I want the Old Testament as well as the New. It seems as if the whole Book of Jeremiah was written for backsliders. "Thou, therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee." It is God speaking through Jeremiah.
"Thus saith the Lord, what iniquity have your fathers found in Methatthey are gone far from Me?" What has Christ ever done to you that made you leave him? Did He ever deceive you, leave you, wrong you? I have asked that question of a great many backsliders; they alJL know He never did; they generally say: "Some professing Christian cheated me, lied about me." Ah, your eyes are off your Master! Never mind what others have done, keep looking at Him; looking at men never helped anybody. "What iniquity have you found in Met" None at all. The trouble has been with yourselves.
I remember once talking with a backslider, and I said: "If you would treat Christ as you would treat any earthly firiend, you would never go away from Him." "How is that?" "Did you ever know a backslider to go to his closet, get down on his knees, tell the Lord he was tired of His service, and bid Him good-bye and then go back into the world? When you are leaving a friend you bid him goodbye, don't you? Then you treat Christ as you would not treat an earthly friend."
"My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." That goes to the heart of every true backslider. A great many people are not true backsliders; as the old chaplain in the army said, they never slid forward. They have been clinging to some minister, some church, some choir; they were never converted at all. But a man that has ever known the Shepherd—ah, he will hear the voice! When you find a real backslider, who has once known the Lord and loved Him, take him to the Word as quickly as you can—" My people have hewn out cisterns, broken cisterns." And then just turn right around to him and say: "Isn't that your difficulty? Does the world satisfy you? Does the water of this world quench your thirst?" And if he is a true child of God, he will shrink and say, " No" Then, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee; know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts." I have known men whose backslidings have been ruin to their families, and their children have grown skeptical. When you read this passage to this kind of backslider, they say: "What! does the Bible say that? That is my case. Darkness and sorrow have come into my family." There is nothing like bringing the word of God to bear upon these people. "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet My people have forgotten Me, days without number." You know very well if you lost an earring you would hunt for days to find it. Yet you l>20 Backsliders
may lose your Christian hope, and you won't hunt for it. If you lost a diamond ring, how you would hunt for it! I have met a great many backsliders in that way. I remember saying to a lady: "Madam, you think more of that earring than you do of the kingdom of God. Don't you know that?" "Why, no!" "Yes; if you lost it, wouldn't you hunt for it?" "Yes." "Have you thought as much of the peace you have lost? You have lost the peace of God, and the joy of your salvation. Have you sought it?" In that way you are likely to bring them back.
See how the Lord pleads with backsliders to return: "Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you, for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou has transgressed against the Lord." I read that to a despairing backslider. "What!" said he, "is that in the Bible? Is that all God asks of me?" Read the opening words of Hosea, fourteenth chapter: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thy iniquity. Take with you words and turn to the Lord; say unto him, take away all iniquity and receive us graciously. * * * I (God) will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away." Then bring up the story of the prodigal for illustration; also the apostle Peter, how he was drawn to God after greviously backsliding, and how he was even admitted to the blessings of Pentecost.
There is one peculiarity about backsliders. They must get out of the ditch the way they got in. "Repent, and do the first works." "Turn from your backslidings." "Turn from your sin." Take the same road to bring you back to Christ. But they must not look for their former experience. God doesn't repeat Himself. That is the very pit a great many tumble into—they want the same experience. But God will give them a fresh experience, and perhaps a better one.
NOT CONVICTED OF SIN.
Another class—those who have not been convicted of sin. When we preach the Word it falls upon all kinds of ground; and we must preach right along, no matter what the soil is. Some farmers cultivate rich soil, but others have to do what they can in stony ground among the old hills of New England. We must not sit in judgment upon men that we think are hard to impress, and say: "These men are not worth offering the Gospel to." Our business is to offer the Gospel to every one. We are to sow beside all waters. But in the inquiry room, it is a great mistake to give to a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The law is what he needs. It is no use talking peaceful words if he doesn't know there is war; no use offering medicine when he doesn't know he is sick. First try to make a wound. Don't offer the consolation of the Gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the law to take away all self-righteousness. I pity the man who preaches only one side of the truth—always the Gospel and never the law. God meets man on the spot of self-surrender. The 122 Not Convicted of Sin.
Pharisee was just as far from God as he could possibly go. The publican was brought to the threshold of the kingdom before God met him. Those two men are types of two classes in the inquiry meeting. Give the former the law, nothing but the law. Don't give comforting passages. I would not say: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden." He isn't heavy laden. He has got his head so high that he is liable to tumble over backward—full of his own conceit, his own righteousness. That man needs the law. "There is none righteous; no, not one." "We all, like sheep, have gone astray." Read to him descriptions of his own heart, and let him see himself as God sees him. But remember that it is the work of the Holy Ghost to produce conviction. You are simply to present the truth, and let the Holy Spirit do His work. It isn't your fault, if you have preached faithfully and the man isn't convicted. "When He comes, He will convince the world of sin."
DEEPLY CONVICTED OF SIN.
There is another class of inquirers, those who are deeply convicted of sin. For those I would take, first, the nth chapter of Matthew: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." This comes with great tenderness and great power when a man is awakened. Then use texts that say: "Come." The word "come" occurs 1,900 times in the Bible. It begins in Genesis, and runs right through to the last chapter of Revelation—"Come," "Come." In talking to an unconverted person, make it as plain as you can. Sometimes I talk this way: "Come"is the first thing a mother says to her little child. When she wants it to learn to walk, she places it beside a chair, goes off a little distance, and then says "Come," and the little thing pushes the chair along to get to its mother. That is what coming means. If you can't come as a saint, come as a sinner. If you feel that your heart is so hard you are not fit to come, God wants you just as you are. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." If you are weary and heavy laden, come, and the Lord will bless you. I remember a man in the north of England who fell into the hands of a good worker — a Scotchman. He said he felt he was bound by a chain so that he could not go to God. "Eh, mon," said the Scotchman, "why don't you go chain and all?" "Why, I never thought of that!" And he went. One text you can make great use of: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life." Another is: "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out."
The devil has two ways of dealing with people. He tries as long as he can to keep their eyes off their own hearts, chiefly by setting them to watch their neighbors; and when that fails he says, "Oh! you are so bad the Lord won't have you any way." Show such inquirers that it is the bad ones Christ came to save. "Come now, let us reason together, saith the 124 The Divinity of Christ.
Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." No matter how fast the color is, the blood of Jesus Christ can wash it out. "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins." Make them see that it is done.
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.
A great many are troubled about the divinity of Jesus Christ. Very often they want to discuss the question, but don't discuss it with them. I have never known any good to come that way; generally you are farther apart at the end than at the beginning. I was once brought into contact with a skeptic. He had been trying to find out Christ by reason. "You have been trying," I said, "to do this with your brains. It's not a matter of brains. It's a revelation." Give such inquirers the Bible. If that and the Holy Spirit won't help them, I don't know what will. There are several passages specially adapted for this purpose. "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from Heaven." That is Paul's testimony. Sometimes they ask, "Where did Christ ever say He was God?" "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Then see His testimony before the highpriest, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am." It was this testimony which cost Jesus Christ His life, for the council cast a verdict of guilty of blasphemy, and by Jewish law the penalty of that crime was death. He made out that He was more than man.
I ask these inquirers, Where shall we put Him? You say He was a good man, but how can that be, if He tried to deceive us? If He was not what He claimed to be, He must have been an impostor. How could He be a good man and let us make Him an idol? Moses and Elijah never did that, and was He less good than they? If He was a bad man, then it is very strange that He should have forfeited all for a malefactor's cross and a pauper's grave. He declared that He was equal with God. How could a good man, a mere man, say that? He declared that He was omnipresent. Moses and Elijah couldn't have said that. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.' No mere man ever said that. Here is another verse: "Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." What man ever said that? After He had forgiven the man sick of the palsy, the question was raised, "Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" No man ever claimed such power till Christ came. Then, again, he allowed men to worship Him. No good man, no angel, ever allowed himself to be worshipped. If any man had done so, he could not have been a good man. The blind man who had received his sight, said: "Lord, I believe," and worshipped the Saviour. Christ didn't rebuke him. "And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had seen and heard, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto 126 The Divinity of Christ.
me, See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow-servant." When Paul and Barnabas healed the cripple at Lystra, the people came bringing sacrifices, and wanted to worship them as gods, but they wouldn't allow it. Yet Christ allowed men to worship Him. "Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God." He didn't rebuke them. "Behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." In the story of the woman of Canaan: "Then came she, and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me!" There are many other passages, but I give these to show that Christ was worshipped, and that He never rebuked it. He claimed to be God-man. He claimed that He was, before the morning stars sang together. "Before Abraham was, I am." He was "the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father." And how men can read the Bible and not see this, is a mystery to me. I don't know anything that will do skeptics more good than to give them the Word of God. If you have any one troubled about the divinity of Christ, don't complain and scold and condemn him, and then leave him. There are some people who, if they saw one of this class in an inquiry room, would say: "Why! this man doesn't believe Jesus Christ is divine. He is a heathen. We won't talk to him at all." Now, that isn't the way. Christ was constantly dealing with men that had the same views. How tenderly and gently He dealt with them! And how are we going to deal with them but by showing Christ as the God-man? Sometimes the part of His nature we see is human, sometimes divine. When He commanded the waters to be still, and the winds to cease, He spoke as God. When He cried, " My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He spoke as man.
Can't Hold Out.
A great many are afraid they won't hold out. It is a good thing to press upon these people that they haven't got to hold on to Christ; it is Christ holding on to them. "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." "He that keepeth thee will not slumber." "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom."
If our life is hid in Christ, how are the powers of darkness going to get at it? Oh, the security of the believer in Christ, if we only trust Him—that is all we want—and believe He is able to keep us. In 2 Cor. i. 10 we find three " delivers "—" Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust, that He will yet deliver us." A great many people are troubled about the future. God will take care of the future. What they want is to trust Him to-day.
Some young converts say, "I am afraid I have sinned again, and I can never be a Christian." Let such as these turn to the first Epistle of John: "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." I don't 128 Sinned Again.
want to make light of sin, but it is to me a comforting thought that my Master has made provision for my sin. This was written in John's old age, when he knew well enough by his own experience whether the Christian sins or not.
Another class of people say they haven't got strength. Well; it is a good thing they haven't. The weaker we are the better. What is faith? "Our weakness leaning on God's strength." It is a good thing for one to wake up to his own weakness. "I am as weak as water," says some one. Then God can hold you. That is the way God's grace is magnified. I remember when we were in New York — in the Hippodrome — there was a poor miserable man in the inquiry-meetings, and a good Christian lady was toiling and working with him. After she had explained to him the way, the man accepted Christ and went home. In those days we had scrip for small currency, and as this man put his hand into his pocket he found ten cents. He hadn't been able to carry so much money in his pocket for many years. He couldn't pass a saloon if he had any money — some insane power would seize him and he would spend every cent for whiskey. As he took out this bit of paper he prayed that the Lord would enable him to hold on to that ten cents for twenty-four hours; then he would have no more doubt that God was able to keep him. And he did hold on to the money. Next day he came into the meeting, told the story, and held up the scrip as a token that God was keeping him. Every time I go to New York, I ask, " How is the ten-cent man getting on?" What is it that holds that little vine all the way up, seventy or a hundred feet above the ground? It can't stand alone. It is the great oak it is clinging to that holds it up. If you lay hold of the Cross Christ will hold you. Any man that belongs to a strong government can stand, can't he? Our ambassadors can stand in foreign courts with a great government back of them.
In connection with the Irish church missions, Canon Hoare used to tell the answer of a little boy in one of the ragged schools of Dublin. Canon Hoare had been speaking of Christ, the Rock on which we stand, and said: "But if I am a poor trembling sinner, what good is a Rock to me?" to which a little ragged lad made reply: "My feet may trimble on the Rock, but the Rock won't trimble under me/"
"Build on the rock, and fear no shock."
Then there is another class that are in great trouble about their feelings. They are afraid they don't feel right, or don't feel enough. So they get into doubt, and the devil will keep them on that plank for a few weeks, and then let them down into the pit again. I want to say there isn't a word about feelings in the Scriptures in reference to salvation. It doesn't say, "He that feeleth." It is "he that believeth." I do a great many things that I don't feel like doing. Obedience means marching right on whether we feel like it or not. Many times we go against our feelings. Faith is one thing; feeling is another. What was it that made the slaves free? Was it their feelings? Suppose they had tried it—just imagined they were free and acted on that feeling. They 130 Feelings.
would very soon have heard the crack of the slavedriver's whip. No; it was Abraham Lincoln's proclamation. Now, the proclamation of the Gospel is: "He that believeth . . . hath everlasting life." I remember some years ago—oh, how I used to pray for feeling! I thought faith was feeling, and that some strange kind of feeling would come stealing over me. But it wasn t that at all. Then I found this text — and how it came upon me like a flash of light — "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
We are not to wait for feeling. I heard of a man who was lying under a tree on a very cold day, and some one asked him what he was doing there. Said he: "I am waiting till I feel warm enough to get up, and then I will cut down this tree." If he had got right up and gone on cutting, he would soon have been warm enough. "But," says the inquirer, "I hear Christians telling how they feel." That comes afterwards; you will find out about that after you are converted. In every case where Christ healed the infirm, it was act first and feeling afterward. He said to the man with the withered arm, "Stretch forth thine hand." The man didn't stop to find out whether he was believing with all his heart or half his heart. He just stretched forth his arm, and the Lord healed him right there. He said to Zaccheus, "Come down." Zaccheus didn't say, " I don't feel right, Lord." The Lord had said, "Come down." What God wants is obedience. What men are to do is to surrender their will — do what God tells them, and let feelings take care of themselves.
Can't Believe. There is another class. Some persons say, "I can't believe." I like to press them on this point. I was once talking with a man, and he said, " I can't believe." Said I, " Whom?" "But I can't believe." "Whom?" "But I can't believe." "Whom?" "You don't understand my case. I can't believe." "Whom?" The man began to color and squirm around, and he said, "Mine is a peculiar case. I emit believe." "Whom?" The man became more and more embarrassed, and said he: "You don't understand my case at all. I have a great many intellectual difficulties. There are a great many things I can't believe." I kept on asking "Whom," and finally the the man broke down, and said: "I can't believe myself." "Thank God for that!" When a man says he can't believe, the question is whether he can believe the Lord, and I just press him on that one point. I challenge any infidel to put his finger on any promise which God has not kept. For 6,000 years the devil has been trying to find that God has broken His word. What a jubilee there would be in hell to-day if they found God had broken His word! Didn't He keep His word with Adam and Abraham and Moses? Isn't every Jew a monument of God's word? "Come, my friend," you can say, "did you ever know Him to break His word?" Press the unbeliever on that point. It is so easy. A man said to me once: "I think the doctrine you preach is the most unreasonable I ever heard." "What part?" "Why, you teach that pernicious doctrine, that a man is saved by simply believing." "Yes," said I; "thank God I do. It is Scripture, and I try to 132 Cant Believe.
preach Scripture." "But," said the man, "it is against reason." "I can't help that. God is above reason." Said the man: "I don't see how any rational man can stand up before an audience and say they are saved by simply believing, when a man's life is not affected by what he believes." "Is that your difficulty?" I said. "I can show you in three minutes that you are affectedby what you believe. If some one came and shouted that this building was on fire, and you and I believed it, we would get up and get out pretty quick, wouldn't we?" "Yes." "Then I suppose you can't deny that you are affected by what you believe?" If a man believes this Book, it will change his life quicker than anything else. Can't Be Saved All At Once. Sometimes a person will say: "You can't make me believe a man can be saved all at once." Well; as I read the Bible, I don't see how a man can be saved in any other way. "The wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." If you take a gift, there must be a moment when you haven't taken the gift and another moment when you have. There must be a moment when you take it. In passing from one territory to another, there must be a moment when you cross the line. At Cajsarea,when Peter preached to the Centurion and his family and friends, they were all converted and baptized that very day.
You will constantly meet with men and women who say: "Well, I expect to be a Christian some day." Perhaps a young man wants to sow his wild oats. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Some one has said that a man who sows wild oats seldom raises any other crop.
If he sows sin, he will reap its evil results—physical and temporal ruin. Press such persons to make an immediate decision.
"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve."
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
"Now is the accepted time."
CONFESSING AND FORGIVING.
There is another point: Very often a young convert will go with a light heart, full of ecstasy and joy, and then inside of twenty-four hours you will find him in great darkness. He thinks he hasn't been converted. If you don't know how to use the Bible, and know the workings of that man's heart, he will remain in darkness. Now I have found that there are two reasons—it is always one of two reasons that has brought him into bondage. One is that he is ashamed to go home and confess Christ, and the other is that there is some one he will not forgive. I have never seen it fail in my life. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, 'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.'" Now, if a man is ashamed, darkness comes; and he will never get into the light till he is ready to confess Jesus Christ. In the Ser134 Confessing and Forgiving.
mon on the Mount our Saviour teaches the great doctrine of forgiveness. If the Holy Spirit reveals to me that some one has aught against me or that I have aught against him, and I am not ready to forgive, of course darkness will fall. It will help young converts a great deal to show them the eighteenth chapter of Matthew on the question of forgiveness; and the tenth of Romans on confessing Christ.
It is a good thing to get a man on his knees, but don't get him there before he is ready. You may have to talk with him two hours before you can get him that far along. But when you think he is about ready, say, "Shall we not we ask God to give us light on this point?" Sometimes a few minutes in prayer have done more for a man than two hours in talk. When the Spirit of God has led him so far that he is willing to have you pray with him, he is not very far from the kingdom. Ask him to pray for himself. If he doesn't want to pray, let him use a Bible prayer; get him to repeat it; for example: "Lord help me!" Tell the man: "If the Lord helped that poor heathen woman, He will help you if you make the sam'j prayer. He will give you a new heart if you pray from the heart." Don't send a man home to pray. Of course he should pray at home, but I would rather get his lips open at once in the inquiry-room. It is a good thing for a man to hear his own voice in prayer. It is a good thing for him to cry out: "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
Never tell a man he is converted. Never tell him he is saved. Let the Holy Spirit reveal that to him. You can shoot a man and see that he is dead, but you can not see when a man receives eternal life. You can't afford to deceive one about this great question. But you can help his faith and trust, and lead him aright.
Come to the inquiry-meeting prepared to do personal work. When war was declared between France and Germany, Count von Moltke, the German general, was prepared for it. The news was brought to him late at night, after he had gone to bed. "Very well," he said to the messenger, " the third portfolio on the left;" and he went to sleep again.
Do the work boldly. Don't take those in a position in life above your own, but as a rule, take those on the same footing. Don't deal with a person of opposite sex, if it can be otherwise arranged. Bend all your endeavors to answer for poor, struggling souls that question of all importance to them, "What must I do to be saved?"