A Father's Love Trampled Under Foot.
I once heard of a father who had a prodigal boy, and the boy had sent his mother down to the grave with a broken heart, and one evening the boy started out as usual to spend the night in drinking and gambling, and his old father, as he was leaving, said: "My son, I want to ask a favor of you to-night. You have not spent an evening with me since your mother died. Now won't you gratify your old father by staying at home with him?" "No," said the young man, "it is lonely here, and there is nothing to interest me, and I am going out." And the old man prayed and wept, and at last said: "My boy, you are just killing me as you have killed your mother. These hairs are growing white, and you are sending me, too, to the grave." Still the boy would not stay, and the old man said: "If you are determined to go to ruin, you must go over this old body to-night. I cannot resist you. You are stronger than I, but if you go out you must go over this body." And he laid himself down before the door, and that son walked over the form of his father, trampled the love of his father under foot, and went out.
"That is the Price of My Soul."
I heard a story of a young lady who was deeply concerned about her soul. Her father and mother, however, were worldly people. They thought lightly of her serious wishes; they did not sympathize with her state of mind. They made up their minds that she should not become a Christian, and tried every way they could to discourage her notions about religion. At last they thought they would get up a large party, and thus with gayety and pleasure win her back to the world. So they made every preparation for a gay time; they even sent to neighboring towns and got all her most worldly companions to come to the house; they bought her a magnificent silk dress and jewelry, and decked her out in all the finery of such an occasion. The young lady thought there would be no harm in attending the party; that it would be a trifling affair, a simple thing, and she could, after it was over, think again of the welfare of her soul. She went decked out in all her adornments, and was the belle of the ball. Three weeks from that night she was on her dying bed. She asked her mother to bring her ball dress in. She pointed her finger at it, and, bursting into tears, said, "That is the price of my soul." She died before dawn. Oh, my friends, if you are anxious about your soul, let everything else go; let parties and festivals pass.
The Two Fathers.
Whenever I think about this subject, two fathers come before me. One lived on the Mississippi river. He was a man of great wealth. Yet he would have freely given it all could he have brought back his eldest boy from his early grave. One day that boy had been borne home unconscious. They did everything that man could do to restore him, but in vain. "He must die," said the doctor. "But, doctor," said the agonized father, "can you do nothing to bring him to consciousness, even for a moment?" "That may be," said the doctor; "but he can never live." Time passed, and after a terrible suspense, the father's wish was gratified. "My son," he whispered, "the doctor tells me you are dying." "Well," said the boy, "you never prayed for me, father; won't you pray for my lost soul now?" The father wept. It was true he had never prayed. He was a stranger to God. And in a little while that soul, unprayed for, passed into its dark eternity. Oh, father! if your boy was dying, and he called on you to pray, could you lift your burdened heart to heaven? Have you learned this sweetest lesson of heaven on earth, to know and hold communion with your God? And before this evil world has marked your dearest treasures for its prey have you learned to lead your little ones to a children's Christ?
What a contrast is the ether father? He, too, had a lovely boy, and one day he came home to find him at the gates of death. "A great change has come over our boy," said the weeping mother; "he has only been a little ill before, but it seems now as if he were dying fast." The father went into the room, and placed his hand on the forehead of the little boy. He could see the boy was dying. He could feel the cold damp of death. "My son, do you know you are dying?" "No; am I?" "Yes; you are dying." "And shall I die to-day?" "Yes, my boy, you cannot live till night." "Well, then, I shall be with Jesus to-night, won't I, father?" "Yes, my son, you will spend to-night with the Saviour." Mothers and fathers, the little ones may begin early; be in earnest with them now. You know not how soon you may be taken from them, or they may be taken from you. Therefore let this impression be made upon their minds—that you care for their souls a million times more than for their worldly prospects.
The Stolen Boy—A Mother's Love.
There was a boy a great many years ago, stolen in London, the same as Charley Ross was stolen here. Long months and years passed away, and the mother had prayed and prayed, as that mother of Charley Ross has prayed, I suppose, and all her efforts had failed and they had given up all hope; but the mother did not quite give up her hope. One day a little boy was sent up into the neighboring house to sweep the chimney, and by some mistake he got down again through the wrong chimney. When he came down, he came in by the sitting-room chimney. His memory began at once to travel back through the years that had passed. He thought that things looked strangely familiar. The scenes of the early days of youth were dawning upon him; and as he stood there surveying the place, his mother came into the room. He stood there covered with rags and soot. Did she wait until she sent him to be washed before she rushed and took him in her arms? No, indeed; it was her own boy. She took him to her arms all black and smoke, and hugged him to her bosom, and shed tears of joy upon his head.
The Repentant Father.
Not long ago a young man went home late. He had been in the habit of going home late, and the father began to mistrust that he had gone astray. He told his wife to go to bed, and dismissed the servants, and said he would sit up till his son came home. The boy came home drunk, and the father in his anger gave him a push into the street and told him never to enter his house again, and shut the door. He went into the parlor and sat down, and began to think: "Well, I may be to blame for that boy's conduct, after all. I have never prayed with him. I have never warned him of the dangers of the world." And the result of his reflections was that he put on his overcoat and hat, and started out to find his boy. The first policeman he met he asked eagerly, "Have you seen my boy?" "No." On he went till he met another. "Have you seen anything of my son?" He ran from one to another all that night, but not until the morning did he find him. He took him by the arm and led him home, and kept him till he was sober. Then he said: "My dear boy, I want you to forgive me; I've never prayed for you; I've never lifted up my heart to God for you; I've been the means of leading you astray, and I want your forgiveness." The boy was touched, and what was the result? Within twenty-four hours that son became a convert, and gave up that cup. It may be that some father here has a wayward son. Go to God, and on your knees confess it. Let the voice of Jesus sink down in your heart: "Bring him unto Me."
The Sleep of Death.
I read some time ago of a vessel that had been off on a whaling voyage and had been gone about three years. I saw the account in print somewhere lately, but it happened a long time ago. The father of one of those sailors had charge of the lighthouse, and he was expecting his boy to come home. It was time for the whaling vessel to return. One night there came up a terrible gale, and this father fell asleep, and while he slept his light went out. When he awoke he looked toward the shore and saw there had been a vessel wrecked. He at once went to see if he could not yet save some one who might be still alive. The first body that came floating toward the shore was, to his great grief and surprise, the body of his own boy! He had been watching for that boy for many days, and he had been gone for three years. Now the boy had at last come in sight of home and had perished because his father had let his light go out! I thought, what an illustration of fathers and mothers to-day that have let their lights go out! You are not training your children for God and eternity. You do not live as though there were anything beyond this life at all. You keep your affections set upon things on the earth instead of on things above, and the result is that the children do not believe there is anything in it. Perhaps the very next step they take may take them into eternity: the next day they may die without God and without hope.
A Defaulter's Confession.
One week ago I preached on the text, "Christ came to heal the broken-hearted." I told you just before I came down that I had received a letter from a broken-hearted wife. Her husband one night came in, to her surprise, and said he was a defaulter and must flee, and he went, she knew not where. He forsook her and two children. It was a pitiful letter, and the wail of that poor woman seems to ring in my ears yet. That night up in that gallery was a man whose heart began to beat when I told the story, thinking it was him I meant, till I came to the two children. When I got through I found that he had taken money which did not belong to him, intending to replace it, but he failed to do so, and fled. He said: "I have a beautiful wife and three children, but I had to leave her and come to Chicago, where I have been hiding. The Governor of the State has offered a reward for me." My friends, a week ago this poor fellow found out the truth of this text. He was in great agony. He felt as if he could not carry the burden, and he said, "Mr. Moody, I want you to pray with me. Ask God for mercy for me." And down we went on our knees. I don't know as I ever felt so bad for a man in my life. He asked me if I thought he should go back. I told him to ask the Lord, and we prayed over it. That was Sunday evening, and I asked him to meet me on the Monday evening. He told how hard it was to go back to that town and give himself up and disgrace his wife and children. They would give him ten years. Monday came and he met me and said, "Mr. Moody, I have prayed over this matter, and I think that Christ has forgiven me, but I don't belong to myself. I must go back and give myself up. I expect to be sent to the penitentiary; but I must go." He asked me to pray for his wife and children, and he went off. He will be there to-day in the hands of justice. My friends, don't say the way of the transgressor is not hard.
Divided We Fall.
I remember one mother who heard that her boy was impressed at our meeting. She said her son was a good enough boy, and he didn't need to be converted. I pleaded with that mother, but all my pleading was of no account. I tried my influence with the boy; but while I was pulling one way she was pulling the other, and of course her influence prevailed. Naturally it would. Well, to make a long story short, some time after I happened to be in the County Jail, and I saw him there. "How did you come here?" I asked; "does your mother know where you are?" "No, don't tell her; I came in under an assumed name, and I am going to Joliet for four years. Do not let my mother know of this," he pleaded; "she thinks I am in the army." I used to call on that mother, but I had promised her boy I would not tell her, and for four years she mourned over that boy. She thought he had died on the battle-field or in a Southern hospital. What a blessing he might have been to that mother, if she had only helped us to bring him to Christ. But that mother is only a specimen of hundreds and thousands of parents. If we would have more family altars in our homes, and train them to follow Christ, the Son of God would lead them into "green pastures," and instead of having sons who curse the mothers who gave them birth, they would bless their fathers and mothers.
The Faithful London Lady.
When I was in London, there was one lady dressed in black up in the gallery. All the rest were ministers. I wondered who that lady could be. At the close of the meeting I stepped up to her, and she asked me if I did not remember her. I did not, but she told me who she was, and her story came to my mind. When we were preaching in Dundee, Scotland, a mother came up with her two sons, 16 and 17 years old. She said to me, "Will you talk to my boys?" I asked her if she would talk to the inquirers, as there were more inquirers than workers. She said she was not a good enough Christian—was not prepared enough. I told her I could not not talk to her then. Next night she came to me and asked me again, and the following night she repeated her request. Five hundred miles she journeyed to get God's blessing for her boys. Would to God we had more mothers like her. She came to London, and the first night I was there I saw her in the Agricultural Hall. She was accompanied by only one of her boys—the other had died. Toward the close of the meeting I received this letter from her:
"dear Mr. Moody: For months I have never considered the day's work ended unless you and your work had been specially prayed for. Now it appears before us more and more. What in our little measure we have found has no doubt been the happy experience of many others in London. My husband and I have sought as our greatest privilege to take unconverted friends one by one to the Agricultural hall, and I thank God that, with a single exception, those brought under the preaching from your lips have accepted Christ as their Savior, and are rejoicing in his love."
That lady was a lady of wealth and position. She lived a little way out of London; gave up her beautiful home and took lodgings near Agricultural Hall, so as to be useful in the inquiry room. When we went down to the Opera House she was there; when we went down to the east end, there she was again, and when I left London she had the names of 150 who had accepted Christ fromher. Some have said that our work in London was a failure. Ask. her if the work was a failure, and she will tell you. If we had a thousand such mothers in Chicago we would lift it. Go and bring your friends here to the meetings. Think of the privilege, my friends, of saving a soul. If we are going to work for good, we must be up and about it.
Arthur P. Oxley! Your Mother Wishes to See You.
There was a lady that came down to Liverpool to see us privately; it was just before we were about to leave that city to go to London to preach. With tears and sobs she told a very pitiful story. It was this: She said she had a boy nineteen years of age who had left her. She showed me his photograph, and asked me to put it in my pocket. "You stand before many and large assemblies, Mr. Moody. My boy may be in London, now. Oh, look at the audience to whom you will preach; look earnestly. You may see my dear boy before you. If you see him, tell him to come back to me. Oh, implore him to come to his sorrowing mother, to his deserted home. He may be in trouble; he may be suffering; tell him for his loving mother that all is forgiven and forgotten, and he will find comfort and peace at home." On the back of this photograph she had written his full name and address; she had noted his complexion, the color of his eyes and hair; why he had left home, and the cause of his so doing. "When you preach, Mr. Moody, look for my poor boy," were the parting words of that mother. That young man may be in this hall to-night. If he is, I want to tell him that his mother loves him still. I will read out his name, and if any of you ever hear of that young man, just tell him that his mother is waiting with a loving heart and a tender embrace for him. His name is Arthur P. Oxley, of Manchester, England.
The Cruel Mother—Hypothetical.
Suppose a mother should come in here with a little child, and after she has been here awhile the child begins to cry, and she says, "Keep still," but the child keeps on crying, and so she turns him over to the police and says, "Take that child, I don't want him." What would you say of such a mother as that? Teach a child that God loves him only so long as he is good, and that when he is bad the Lord does not love him, and you will find that when he grows up, if he has a bad temper he will have the idea that God hates him because he thinks God don't love him when he has got a bad temper, and as he has a bad temper all the time, of course God does not love him at all, but hates him all the time. Now God hates sin, but He loves the sinner, and there is a great difference between the love of God and our love.
The Loving Father.
I remember my little girl had a habit of getting up in the morning very cross. I don't know whether your children are like that. She used to get up in the morning speaking cross, and made the family very uncomfortable. So I took her aside one morning and s*aid to her, "Emma, if you go on that way I shall have to correct you; I don't want to do it, but I will have to." She looked at me for a few moments—I had never spoken to her that way before—and she went away. She behaved herself for a few weeks alLright, but one morning she was as cross as ever, and when she came to me to be kissed before going to school, I wouldn't do it. Off she went to her mother, and said: "Mamma, Papa refused to kiss me: I cannot go to school because he won't kiss me." Her mother came in, but she didn't say much. She knew the child had been doing wrong. The little one went off, and as she was going down stairs I heard her weeping, and it seemed to me as if that child was dearer to me than ever she had been before. I went to the window and saw her going down the street crying, and as I looked on her I couldn't repress my tears. That seemed to be the longest day I ever spent in Chicago. Before the closing of the school I was at home, and when she came in her first words were: "Papa, won't you forgive me?" and I kissed her and she went away singing. It was because I loved her that I punished her. My friends, don't let Satan make you believe when you have any trouble, that God does not love you.