"Give Attendance to Reading"
There are some so-called Christian homes today with books on the shelves of the library that have no more business there than a rattler crawling about on the floor, or poison within the child's reach.—Billy Sunday.
"I NEVER heard Billy Sunday use an ungrammatical I sentence," remarked one observer. "He uses a great deal of slang, and many colloquialisms, but not a single error in grammar could I detect. Some of his passages are really beautiful English."
Sunday has made diligent effort to supplement his lack of education. He received the equivalent of a high-school training in boyhood, which is far more than Lincoln ever had. Nevertheless he has not had the training of the average educated man, much less of a normal minister of the gospel. He is conscious of his limitations: and has diligently endeavored to make up for them. When coaching the Northwestern University base-ball team in the winter of '87 and '88 he attended classes at the University. He has read a great deal and to this day continues his studies. Of course his acquaintance with literature is superficial: but his use of it shows how earnestly he has read up on history and literature and the sciences. He makes better use of his knowledge of the physical sciences, and of historical allusions, than most men drilled in them for years. He displays a proneness for what he himself would call "high-brow stuff," and his disproportionate display of his "book learning" reveals his conscious effort to supply what does not come to him naturally.
Sunday has an eclectic mind. He knows a good thing when he sees it. He is quick to incorporate into his discourses happenings or illustrations wherever found. Moody also was accustomed to do this: he circulated among his friends interleaved Bibles to secure keen comments on Scripture passages. All preachers draw on the storehouses of the past: the Church Fathers speak every Sunday in the pulpits of Christendom. Nobody originates all that he says. "We are the heirs of all the ages."
At the opening of every one of his campaigns Sunday repeatedly announces that he has drawn his sermon material from wherever he could find it, and that he makes no claim to originality. So the qualified critic can detect, in addition to some sermon outlines which were bequests from Dr. Chapman, epigrams from Sam Jones, flashes from Talmage, passages from George Stuart, paragraphs from the religious press, apothegms from the great commentators. It is no news to say that Sunday's material is not all original; he avows this himself. In his gleanings he has had help from various associates. Elijah P. Brown's hand can be traced in his sermons: the creator of the "Ram's Horn" proverbs surely is responsible for Sunday's penchant for throwing stones at the devil.
Sunday is not an original thinker. He has founded no school of Scriptural interpretation. He has not given any new exposition of Bible passages, nor has he developed any fresh lines of thought. Nobody hears anything new from him. In every one of his audience there are probably many persons who have a more scholarly acquaintance with the Bible and with Christian literature.
Temperamentally a conservative, Sunday has taken the truth taught him by his earliest teachers and has adapted and paraphrased and modernized it. In the crucible of his intense personality this truth has become Sundayized. His discourses may have a variety of origin, but they all sound like Billy Sunday when he delivers them.
A toilsome, painstaking worker, he has made elaborate notes of all his sermons, and these he takes with him in leather-bound black books to the platform and follows more or less closely as he speaks. No other man than himself could use these rough notes. Often he interjects into one sermon parts of another. He has about a hundred discourses at his command at present, and his supply is constantly growing.
The early copies of Sunday's sermons were taken down more or less correctly in shorthand, and these have been reproduced in every city where he has gone: consequently they lack the tang and flavor of his present deliverances.
He is alert to glean from all sources. In conversation one morning in Scranton I told him how on the previous day a lawyer friend had characterized a preacher with whom I had been talking by saying, "How much like a preacher he looks, and how little like a man." That afternoon Sunday used this in his sermon and twiddled it under his fingers for a minute or two, paraphrasing it in characteristic Sunday fashion. Doubtless it is now part of his permanent oratorical stock in trade.
The absolute unconventionality of the man makes all this possible. He is not afraid of the most shocking presentation of truth. Thus when speaking at the University of Pennsylvania, he alluded to a professor who had criticized the doctrine of hell, saying, "That man will not be in hell five minutes before he knows better." Of course that thrust caught the students. A more discreet and diplomatic person than Sunday would not have dared to say this.
The gospel preached by Sunday is the same that the Church has been teaching for hundreds of years. He knows no modifications. He is fiercely antagonistic to "modern" scholarship. He sits in God's judgment seat in almost every sermon and frequently sends men to hell by name.
All this may be deplorable, but it is Sunday. The Bible which he uses is an interpreted and annotated edition by one of the most conservative of Bible teachers: this suits Sunday, for he is not of the temperament to be hospitable to new truths that may break forth from the living word.
This state of mind leads him to be extravagant and intolerant in his statements. His hearers are patient with all of this because the body of his teachings is that held by all evangelical Christians. If he were less cock-sure he would not be Billy Sunday; the great mass of mankind want a religion of authority.
After all, truth is intolerant.
Although lacking technical literary training Sunday is not only a master of living English and of terse, strong, vivid and gripping phrase, but he is also capable of extraordinary flights of eloquence, when he uses the chastest and most appropriate language. He has held multitudes spellbound with such passages as these:
God's Token of Love
"Down in Jacksonville, Florida, a man, Judge Owen, quarreled with his betrothed and to try to forget, he went off and worked in a yellow-fever hospital. Finally he caught the disease and had succumbed to it. He had passed the critical stage of the disease, but he was dying. One day his sweetheart met the physician on the street and asked about the judge. 'He's sick,' he told her.
"'How bad?' she asked.
"'Well, he's passed the critical stage, but he is dying,' the doctor told her.
"'But I don't understand,' she said, 'if he's passed the critical stage why isn't he getting well?'
"'He's dying, of undying love for you, not the fever,' the doctor told her. She asked him to come with her to a florist and he went and there she purchased some smilax and intertwined lilacs and wrote on a card, 'With my love,' and signed her given name.
"The doctor went back to the hospital and his patient was tossing in fitful slumber. He laid the flowers on his breast and he awoke and saw the flowers and buried his head in them. 'Thanks for the flowers, doctor,' he said, but the doctor said, 'They are not from me.'
"'Then who are they from?'
'"I can't; tell me.'
"'I think you'll find the name on the card,' the doctor told him, and he looked and read the card, 'With my love.'
"'Tell me,' he cried, 'did she write that of her free will or did you beg her to do it?' The doctor told him she had begged to do it herself.
"Then you ought to have seen him. The next day he was sitting up. The next day he ate some gruel. The next day he was in a chair. The next day he could hobble on crutches. The next day he threw one of them away. The next day he threw the cane away and the next day he could walk pretty well. On the ninth day there was a quiet wedding in the annex of the hospital. You laugh; but listen: This old world is like a hospital. Here are the wards for the libertines. Here are the wards for the drunkards. Here are the wards for the blasphemers. Everywhere I look I see scarred humanity.
"Nineteen hundred years ago God looked over the battlements of heaven and he picked a basket of flowers, and then one day he dropped a baby into the manger at Bethlehem. 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.' What more can he do?
"But God didn't spare him. They crucified him, but he burst the bonds of death and the Holy Spirit came down. They banished John to the isle of Patmos and there he wrote the words: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door I shall come in to him and sup with him and he with me.'"
The Sinking Ship
"Years ago there was a ship on the Atlantic and a storm arose. The ship sprung a leak and in spite of all the men could do they could not pump out the water fast enough. The captain called the men to him and told them that he had taken observations and bearings and said unless the leak was stopped in ten hours the boat would be at the bottom of the sea. 'I want a man who will volunteer his life to stay the intake. It's in the second hold and about the size of a man's arm and some one can place his arm in the hole and it will hold back the water until we can get it pumped out enough.'
"Not a man stirred. They said they would go back to the pumps and they did. They worked hard and when a man dropped they would drag him away and revive him and bring him back. The captain called them again and told them it was no use unless it was changed. They would be at the bottom before ten hours unless some one volunteered and in less time than that if a storm arose. Then one stepped back. 'What! My boy!'
"'Yes, father, I'll go.'
"He sent some endearing words to his mother, took one last look at the sky and kissed his father and bade the sailors good-bye, and went below. He found the leak and placed his arm in it and packed rags around it and the men went back to the pumps. When day broke they saw the body floating and swaying in the water, but the arm was still in the hole. And the vessel sailed into port safe. There on the coast today stands a monument to perpetuate the deed.
"Nineteen hundred years ago this old world sprung a leak. God asked for volunteers to stop it, and all of the angels and seraphim stood back, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, Isaiah, David, Jeremiah, .Solomon, none would go, and then forth stepped his Son and said: 'Father, IH go,' and descended, and died on the cross; but
"'Up from the grave he arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain
And he Uvea forever with his saints to reign.
Hallelujah, Christ arose!'
He burst the bonds of death, and the gates of heaven, while the angels sang and would crown him yet. 'Let me stand between God and the people,' and there he stands today, the Mediator, with the salvation, full, free, perfect, and eternal in one hand and the sword of inflexible justice in the other. The time will come when he'll come with his angels; some day he will withdraw his offer of salvation.
"Come and accept my Christ! Who'll come and get under the blood with me?"
"What If It Had Been My Boy?"
"' Say, papa, can I go with you?' asked a little boy of his father. 'Yes, son, come on,' said the father, as he threw the axe over his shoulder and accompanied by a friend, went to the woods and felled a tree.
"The little fellow said: 'Say, papa, can I go and play in the water at the lagoon?' 'Yes, but be careful and don't get into deep water; keep close to the bank.' The little fellow was playing, digging wells, picking up stones and shells and talking to himself, when pretty soon the father heard him cry, 'Hurry, papa, hurry.'
"The father leaped to his feet, grabbed the axe and ran to the lagoon and saw the boy floundering in deep water, hands outstretched, a look of horror on his face as he cried, 'Hurry, papa; hurry; the alligator has got me.' The hideous amphibious monster had been hibernating and had come out, lean, lank, hungry, voracious, and seized the boy.
"The father leaped into the lagoon and was just about to sink the axe through the head of the monster when he turned and swished the) water with his huge tail like the screw of an ocean steamer, and the little fellow cried out:
'Hurry, papa; hurry, hurry, hur 'The water choked
him. The blood-flecked foam told the story. The father went and got men and they plunged in and felt around and all they ever carried home to his mother was just two handfuls of crushed bones.
"When I read that, for days I could not eat, for nights I could not sleep. I said, 'Oh, God, what if that had been my boy?'
"There are influences worse than an alligator and they are ripping and tearing to shreds your virtue, your morality. Young men are held by intemperance, others by vice, drunkards crying to the Church, 'Hurry, faster,' and the church members sit on the bank playing cards, sit there drinking beer and reading novels. 'Hurry.' They are splitting hairs over fool things, criticizing me or somebody else, instead of trying to keep sinners out of hell, and they are crying to the Church,'Faster! Faster! Faster!' 'Lord, is it I?'
"How many will say, 'God, I want to be nearer to you than I have ever been before. I want to renew my vows. I want to get under the cross.' How many will say it?
"Who'll yield his heart to Christ? Who'll take his stand for the Lord? Who'll come out clean-cut for God?"
A Dream of Heaven
"Some years ago, after I had been romping and playing with the children, I grew tired and lay down, and half awake and half asleep, I had a dream.
"I dreamed I was in a far-off land; it was not Persia, but all the glitter and gaudy raiment were there; it was not India, although her coral strands were there; it was not Ceylon, although all the beauties of that island of paradise were there; it was not Italy, although the soft dreamy haze of the blue Italian skies shone above me. I looked for weeds and briars, thorns and thistles and brambles and found none. I saw the sun in all its regal splendor and I said to the people, 'When will the sun set and it grow dark?'
"They all laughed and said: 'It never grows dark in this land; there is no night here.'
"I looked at the people, their faces wreathed in a simple halo of glory, attired in holiday clothing. I said: 'When will the working men go by clad in overalls? and where are the brawny men who work and toil over the anvil?'
"They said,'We toil not, neither do we spin; there remaineth a rest for the people of God.'
"I strolled out in the suburbs. I said, 'Where are the graveyards,the grave-diggers? Wheredo you bury your dead?'
"They said, 'We never die here.'
"I looked out and saw the towers and spires; I looked at them, but I did not see any tombstones, mausoleums, green or flower-covered graves. I said, 'Where, where are the hearses that carry your dead? Where are the undertakers that embalm the dead?'
"They said, 'We never die in this land.'
"I said, 'Where are the hospitals where they take the sick? Where is the minster, and where are the nurses to give the gentle touch, the panacea?'
"They said, 'We never grow sick in this land.'
"I said, 'Where are the homes of want and squalor? Where live the poor?'
"They said, 'There is no penury; none die here; none ever cry for bread in this land.' I was bewildered. I strolled along and heard the ripple of the waters as the waves broke against the jeweled beach. I saw boats with oars dipped with silver, bows of pure gold. I saw multitudes that no man could number. We all jumped down through the violets and varicolored flowers, the air pulsing with bird song, and I cried,
"'Are—all—here?' And they echoed,
"And we went leaping and shouting and vied with bower and spire, and they all caroled and sung my welcome, and we all bounded and leaped and shouted with glee, 'Home—Home—Home.'"
The Battle With Death
"Just one thing divides you people. You are either across the line of safety, or you are outside the kingdom of God. Old or young, rich or poor, high or low, ignorant or educated, white or colored, each of you is upon one side or upon the other.
"The young man who talked to Jesus didn't let an infidel persuade him, and neither should you.
"The time will come when his head will lie on his pillow and his fevered head will toss from side to side.
"The time will come when there will be a rap on the door.
"'Who are you?'
"'I didn't send for you. Why do you come here?' j" 'Nobody sends for me. I choose my own time. If I waited for people to send for me I would never come.'
"'But don't come in now, Death.'
"'I am coming in. I have waited for a long time. I have held a mortgage on you for fifty years, and I've come to foreclose.'
"but Death Says, Tvb Comb Fob You'" to you if you'll only
"But Death says, 'I've come for you. I don't want your money or your land or anything that you have. You must come with me.'
'"Death! Death! Don't blow that icy breath upon me. Don't crowd me against the wall!'
"'You must come! You have a week—you have five days—you have one day—you have twelve hours—you have one hour—you have thirty minutes—you have ten minutes—you have one minute—you have thirty seconds—
j— my home, everything I've got, I'll give all
my jewelry, my lands,
I've come [to take you. You must come.'
Death! Go get my pocketbook, there! Go get my bankbook! Go get the key to my safety deposit box! Take my gold watch, you have ten seconds! I'll count them—one—two—three— four—five—six—ha! ha!—seven—eight—nine—ten!'
"He's gone. Telephone for the undertaker. Carry him to the graveyard. Lay him beside his mother. She died saying, 'I'm sweeping through the gates, washed in the blood of the Lamb.' He died shrieking, 'Don't blow that cold breath in my face! Don't crowd me against the wall!' Oh! God, don't let that old infidel keep you out of the kingdom of God.
"Who'll come into the kingdom of God? Come quick—quick—quick!"
"Christ or Nothing"
"'And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.' No man can be saved without Jesus Christ. There's no way to God unless you come through Jesus Christ. It's Jesus Christ or nothing.
"At the close of the Battle of Gettysburg the country roundabout was overrun by Federals or Confederates, wounded or ill, and the people helped both alike. Relief corps were organized in all the little towns. In one of them—I think it was York—a man who had headed the committee, resigned as chairman and told his clerk not to send any more soldiers to him. There came a Union soldier with a blood-stained bandage and with crutches that he had made for himself, and asked to see this man. 'I am no longer chairman of the committee,' said the man, 'and I cannot help you, for if I were to make any exception to the rule, I would be overrun with applicants.'
"'But,' said the soldier, 'I don't want to ask you for anything. I only want to give you a letter. It is from your son, who is dead. I was with him, when he died. When he was wounded I got him a canteen of water and propped him up against a tree and held his hand when he wrote. I know where he lies.' The father took the letter, and he read it. It said, "Treat this soldier kindly for my sake/ Then it told how he had helped the writer—the dying boy. The father said, 'You must come with me to his mother.' She saw them coming and cried out, 'Have you any news of my boy?' The father said, 'Here is a letter-—read it.' She read it and shrieked. They took the wounded soldier into their home, 'Won't you stay with us and be our son? You were his friend, you were with him at the last, you look like him, your voice reminds us of him. When you speak and we turn our faces away, we can almost think he is here. Let us adopt you. Won't you do it?' He heard their plea, and he was touched and he stayed. So heaven will hear your prayer if it is in the name of Christ.
"When I go in the name of Jesus Christ, God will stop making worlds to hear me.
"Lord, teach us how to pray."
"There comes Judas, leading the devil's crowd, the churchly gang. Don't forget that Jesus was crucified by church members whose sins he rebuked. Judas said, 'The fellow that I kiss, that's Jesus.' Look at the snake on his sanctimonious countenance. He said, 'Hail, Master,' and he kissed him.
"Jesus said, 'Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?'
"And they staggered back. 'Whom seek ye?'
"'We are all looking for Jesus of Nazareth.'
"'All right, I am he.' They staggered again, and Judas led them on. O
"They rushed up and seized Jesus Christ. When starting for Calvary they put a cross on his back. He was tired and he staggered and stumbled, then fell, but he climbed up and a fellow smote him and said, 'Ha, ha,' and the young fellow spat upon him. They cursed him and damned him. What for? Because he came to open up a plan of redemption to keep you and me out of hell; and yet you live a life of disgrace. On he went and along came a colored man
named Simon and they put the cross on his back and he went dragging if for Jesus. The colored race has borne many a burden in the advancement of civilization, but a grander burden has never been on the back of black or white, than when Simon bore the Master's cross.
"On they went and seized him, and I can see his arms as they pounded the nails through his hands and his feet. Another fellow digs a hole, and I can hear the cross as it 'chugs' in the hole, and they lift him between heaven and earth. Then the disciples forsook him and fled. Left him all alone. How many will go with Jesus to the last ditch? Thousands will die for him, but there is another set that will not.
"The disciples followed him to the garden, but forsook him at the cross.
"If we had been there we might have seen the hill-tops and the tree-tops filled and covered with angels, and houses crowded. As Jesus hung on the cross and cried, 'I thirst,' a Jew ran and dipped a sponge in wormwood and gall and vinegar and put it on a reed and put it up to his lips. Then Jesus cried, 'My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' There he hung, feeling the burden of your guilt, you booze-fighter, you libertine, you dead-beat. 'My God, hast thou forsaken me?' he cried, and I imagine that the archangel cried, "Oh, Jesus, if you want me to come and sweep the howling, blood-thirsty mob into hell, lift your head and look me in the face and I will come.'
"But Jesus gritted his teeth and struggled on, and the archangel again cried, 'Oh, Jesus, if you want me to come, tear your right hand loose from the cross and wave it, and I will come.' But Jesus just clenched his fist over the nails. What for? To keep you out of hell. Then tell me why you are indifferent. And soon he cried, 'It is finished.'
"The Holy Spirit plucked the olive branch of peace back through the gates of heaven from the cross and winged his way and cried, 'Peace! Peace has been made by his death on the cross.' That is what he had to do. That was his duty."
The World for God
"A heathen woman named Panathea was famous for her great beauty, and King Cyrus wanted her for his harem. He sent his representatives to her and offered her money and jewels to come, but she repulsed them and spurned their advances. Again he sent them, this time with offers still more generous and tempting; but again she sent them away with scorn. A third time they were sent, and a third time she said, 'Nay.' Then King Cyrus went in person to see her, and he doubled and trebled and quadrupled the offers his men had made, but still she would not go. She told him that she was a wife, and that she was true to her husband.
"He said, 'Panathea, where dwellest thou?'
"'In the arms and on the breast of my husband,' she
"'Take her away,' said Cyrus. 'She is of no use to me.' Then he put her husband in command of the charioteers and sent him into battle at the head of the troops. Panathea knew what this meant—that her husband had been sent in that he might be killed. She waited while the battle raged, and when the field was cleared she shouted his name and searched for him and finally found him wounded and dying. She knelt and clasped him in her arms, and as they kissed, his lamp of life went out forever. King Cyrus heard of the man's death, and came to the field. Panathea saw him coming, careening on his camel like a ship in a storm. She called, 'Oh, husband! He comes—he shall not have me. I was true to you in life, and will be true to you in death!' And she drew her dead husband's poniard from its sheath, drove it into her own breast and fell dead across the body.
"King Cyrus came up and dismounted. He removed his turban and knelt by the dead husband and wife, and thanked God that he had found in his kingdom one true and virtuous woman that his money could not buy, nor his power intimidate.
"Oh, preachers, the problem of this century is the problem of the first century. We must win the world for God and we will win the world for God just as soon as we have men and women who will be faithful to God and will not lie and will not sell out to the devil."
A Word Picture
"Every day at noon, while Ingersoll was lecturing, Hastings would go to old Farwell Hall and answer Ingersoll's statements of the night before. One night Ingersoll painted one of those wonderful word pictures for which he was justly famous. He was a master of the use of words. Men and women would applaud and cheer and wave their hats and handkerchiefs, and the waves of sound would rise and fall like great waves of the sea. As two men were going home from his lecture, one of them said to the other: 'Bob certainly cleaned 'em up tonight.' The other man said: "There's one thing he didn't clean up. He didn't clean up the religion of my old mother.'
"This is the word picture Ingersoll painted: "'I would rather have been a French peasant and worn wooden shoes; I would rather have lived in a hut, with a vine growing over the door and the grapes growing and ripening in the autumn sun; I would rather have been that peasant, with my wife by my side and my children upon my knees twining their arms of affection about me; I would rather have been that poor French peasant and gone down at least to the eternal promiscuity of the dust, followed by those who loved me; I would a thousand times rather have been that French peasant than that imperial incarnation of force and murder (Napoleon); and so I would ten thousand times.'
"What was that? Simply a word picture. It was only the trick of an orator.
"Let me paint for you a picture, and see if it doesn't make you feel like leaping and shouting hallelujahs.
"Infidelity has never won a drunkard from his cups. It has never redeemed a fallen woman from her unchastity. It has never built a hospital for the crushed and sick. It has never dried tears. It has never built a mission for the rescue of the down-and-out. It wouldn't take a ream, or a quire, or a sheet, or even a line of paper to write down what infidelity has done to better and gladden the world.
"What has infidelity done to benefit the world? What has it ever done to help humanity in any way? It never built a school, it never built a church, it never built an asylum or a home for the poor. It never did anything for the good of man. I challenge the combined forces of unbelief. They have failed utterly.
"Well may Christianity stand today and point to its hospitals, its churches and its schools with their towers and the spires pointing to the source of their inspiration and say: 'These are the works that I do.'
"I would rather have been a French peasant and worn wooden shoes; I would rather have lived in a hut, with a vine growing over the door and grapes growing and ripening in the autumn sun; I would rather have been that peasant, with my wife and children by my side and the open Bible on my knees, at peace with the world and at peace with God; I would rather have been that poor peasant and gone down at least in the promiscuity of the dust, with the certainty that my name was written in the Lamb's book of life than to have been that brilliant infidel whose tricks of oratory charmed thousands and sent souls to hell."
The Faithful Pilot
"Some years ago a harbor pilot in Boston, who had held a commission for sixty-five years (you know the harbor pilots and the ocean pilots are different). For sixty-five years he had guided ships in and out of the Boston harbor, but his time to die had come. Presently the watchers at his bedside saw that he was trying to sit up, and they aided him. 'I see a light,' he said.
"'Is it the Minot light?' they asked him.
"'No, that is first white and then red; this one is all white all the time/ and he fell back. After a few moments he struggled to rise again. 'I see a light/ he gasped. "'Is it the Highland light?'
"'No, that one is red and then black; this one is white all the time.' And he fell back again and they thought certainly he was gone, but he came back again as if from the skies and they saw his lips moving. 'I see a light.'
"'Is it the Boston light; the last as you pass out?' they asked.
"'No, that one is red all the time; this one is white all the time.' And his hands trembled and he reached out his feeble arms. His face lighted up with a halo of glor3r. 'I see a light/ he gasped, 'and it is the light of glory. Let the anchor drop.'
"'And he anchored his soul in the haven of rest,
To sail the wild seas no more:
Tho' the tempest may beat o'er the wild stormy deep,
In Jesus I'm safe evermore.'
"That's where you ought to be. Will you come?"