"Behold-." Put* 61: 5.
I want to call your attention to one word in the 51st Psalm, "Behold." That word means, "Look with attention." If I said, "Look and see'V—how your eyes would go to the wall to see what I saw. The Lord says that to attract attention. When I am giving out a text, some of you are looking at the people around you, at some hat, or the shape of some bonnet. Look! Behold! God wants your attention: it is something important. Now the Psalmist says: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." I have learned this,—that the first thing we want to get a man to do is to learn the lesson that there is nothing good about him, that he was shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin. The nearer a man gets to God, the more he finds that out. A man does not know himself; he thinks he is a great deal better than he is. But the moment he sees himself in God's looking-glass he says, "I was shapen in iniquity." "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Every one has to learn that lesson. Daniel in the ] Oth chapter of his prophecies says: "My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength." God was coming near him. Look at Job. If you had Job here, you would think he was the noblest man in Philadelphia; he would stand very high in the community; yet Job had to learn the lesson. He said: "I fed the hungry and clothed the naked. I did this and that and the other." At last the Lord said: "Now Job, you gird up your loins like a man, and I will put a few questions to you." And the moment the Lord spoke to him, he cried out: "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth, and I will speak no more." Another word cannot be got out of Job. "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." When man comes to see God, he is in the dust, where he belongs. Look at that wonderful man Isaiah, how beautiful he wrote. Turn to the 6th chapter. He saw God high and lifted up on his throne, and he cried out: "Woe is me; for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midstof apeople of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Then came an angel and took a coal of fire from the altar and put it upon his lips and purged away his iniquity, and he says, "Here am I, eend me." He was ready; but he had to learn the lesson that he
was born in sin and shapen in iniquity. Thanks be to God, there is a better way than that. We don't like to hear how vile and sinful we are, but at the same time it is important that we know it; because if we don't we will not believe the good news of the gospel.
The next "behold" is, "Behold, I bring you good tidings o/ great joy." What is the good tidings? What is the gospel? Three or four times I have tried to bring out the word "gospel," and tell you what it is. The gospel was proclaimed to Cornelius in the 10th chapter of Acts, when Peter told him how Christ had died and had risen, and ascended to God in Heaven. Paul says: "I declare unto you the gospel, how Christ died for our sins, and how he was buried and rose again." He has died for our sins, and if we believe the gospel we are saved. Away on the northern coast, some time ago, there was a vessel wrecked; and among those on that vessel who lost their lives was a mother, with a little babe in her arms. When they found her body on the shore, that babe was clasped to her bosom. They attempted to separate them, but they found it so difficult that they buried them together. So Christ took the burden of sin, and went down to the grave, and burst asunder the bars of death, and took it up to Heaven. He died, and rose, and ascended: and he is at the right hand of God for me. We have only to appropriate him, and he is ours. It is good tidings.
There is a story an Englishman called my attention to, in reference to Jonathan's son. I can see David and Jonathan in the fields together. It had been revealed to Jonathan that David was to take his father's throne, and Jonathan's place. Jonathan seems to be the most lovely character in the Bible. Instead of being jealous of David, he loved him as he loved his own life. He said to David: "Make me this promise: When you get my father's throne, if there is any left of my father's house, you will show them kindness." "Oh, yes," says Dayid; "I will do that for you." The years rolled on. You know the story of David and Saul : how Saul hunted him as you would a partridge upon the mountains; how he drove him off into the cave of Adullam, an exile in a foreign land; how Israel had been defeated, and Saul had fallen, and Jonathan by his side; how when David heard of it, he came to Hebron, and established his throne and reigned there; how he went to Jerusalem and conquered that city, and established his throne and reigned there, and built a palace. While walking in his palace, that vow which he made to Jonathan came back to him. "Why, I made a promise to Jonathan." He brought his servant into his presence and asked him: "Is there any of the house of Saul left, that I may show him kindness." David's servant looks at him. What! David want to show kindness to the house of Saul, to Saul that tried to kill him,—that tried to slay him 1 He want to show kindness to the house of Saul I That is grace. And the servant said: "One of the old servants of
Saul is here, and he can tell whether there is any of the house of Saul left." He was called in, and David said: "Is there any of the house of Saul left, that I can show kindness unto them?" "Yes," said Ziba; "yes, there is one. Jonathan has a son." "What!" David .says; "that Jonathan, has he got a son? Where is he?" When the news had come that Jonathan had been slain, the servant took up Mephibosheth, and she tripped and fell, and lamed him on both his feet. They were a/raid that David would take his life, and they hid him. Where do you suppose he was? He was down to Lodebar. Did you ever hear of that place before? Perhaps some of you work in the Post Office, and have never seen a letter directed to Lodebar. You never heard of Lodebar before. Perhaps some of you have been around the world and never were in Lodebar. If you think you never were there, you are mistaken. There is not a man in Philadelphia but has been there. All of Adam's sons have been there. It is not a j^reat ways from Philadelphia. It is a place of no pasture. That is where every poor sinner is to-night, hiding away from the living God. Poor, lame Mephibosheth -was away in a place of no pasture, hiding away from David, the best friend he had. I can see David's heart begin to swell, and he says: "Go fetch him." That is fetching grace. Some people would have said: "Let him stay there; but if he comes here, I will have compassion on him." David says: "Go fetch him." That is the spirit of the Gospel. I can see the servant bringing out David's chariot, and going away to where Mephibosheth is. He sees Mephibosheth, and calls out, "I have glad tidings for you." "What is it?" said Mephibosheth. "David has sent for you; he wants to show you the kindness of God; he wants you to come to Jerusalem." Mephibosheth trembles from head to foot, and says, "I am afraid he is going to take my life." Says the messenger: "It is true; David wants to show you the kindness of God." And they take the poor, lame Mephibosheth up in a chariot. I see the chariot sweepingdown the streets of Jerusalem. David is going to show him the kindness of God. The king does not stand upon his dignity, but rushes to the door to meet him. And they bring him to the king. Mephibosheth goes down on his face; he is afraid it is not good news. The first thing David says, is, " Mephibosheth, I restore you all Saul's possession." He got it all in one word. That is the Gospel. We get everything Adam lost, and a great deal more. David said: «* 1 restore the land of Saul, thy father, and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually." Poor, lame Mephibosheth now dwelt at the palace of the king, and sat down at the king's table. David brought him up from Lodebar, introduced him into the royal palace, and made him a member of his family. Christ wants you to come to Jerusalem to-night, and eat at his table. If poor Mephibosheth had been like many Christians, he would have looked at his lameness, and at his club feet all the time. I can imagine he pat his feet under the table, and he looked the king in his face. He was not going to find fault with his lameness. If you look upon your lameness, remember the message, and come to Jerusalem and sit down at the king's table. If you stay at Ix)debar, it is not because God wants you there. You hare gone to Lodebar, and hid away from a loving king. Yon can come up and associate with the royafty of Heaven to-night, if you will come. Behold I bring you good tidings; and that good tidings is, the Lord wants you to come to Jerusalem.
Next: "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of tie world." Now, my dear friends, instead of your looking at yourself and trying to take away your sin, lift your eye away from yourself and let it rest upon the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. That is what Christ was given for: "His namn shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." You cannot save yourself. Look at Jesus, from the cradle to the oross, as he went through the towns and villages of Palestine, restoring sight to the blind and causing the deaf to hear. People lifted up their voice at one time and said, "He hath done all things well." Behold him at Gethsemane. See him there, solitary and alone; his disciples sleeping around him, for they were weary. There is the Son of God. Draw near and look at him. Gaze upon him, and as you get near him you can see the blood. He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood. The hour was coming when the sin of the world was to be laid upon him. In a few short hours he was to be condemned by hi* countrymen to die the cruel death of the cross. The cross throws iti dark shadow across his path. Oh, sinner, gaze upon him! He is your substitute. He is yours to-night. He became yours, and you we a free man. Look at him before the Sanhedrim. Hear him as those witnesses come in and testify against him. Go to Calvary with me. Look at those three men; Christ in the midst of those thieves. Look into that eye; look into that face. Hear that piercing cry, and then tell me he is not able to save you. Will you say he ha$ no power to save you to-night? Oh, behold him, as he comes np out of the sepulchre! See the mighty power he had as he ascended from the grave. Then look at him as he goes sweeping through space, on his way home. There he is at the right hand of God. I don't ask you to1 look at him in the tomb; but see him at the right hand of God in heaven. His voice on high conies rolling down from the throne to-night: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth." And will you say that he cannot save you, that he has no power to save you? Is his arm shortened that he cannot deliver? Is his ear grown heavy that he cannot hear the poor •inner? All power is given to him. Oh, this night he has power to save you! This night, if you gaze upon him as your Savior and Redeemer, you can be saved.
There is a "behold" Paul brought out. "Behold, now is the accepted time." Suppose I should stand here and say, "Everyone of you had better put off salvation for a year," how you would go out of this building, shaking your heads and saying: "I will not go to hear that preacher again; what he preaches is right against the word of God." If I should say, "Behold, 1877 is the time to seek the kingdom of God," many of you would be so disgusted you would try to get out before the doors were open. You would say, "What right has the man to preach that doctrine?" And yet when we say, "Now is the accepted time," you say: "He wants to drive us to a decision; there is time enough." The only time I have to preach the gospel is Now. I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that I may preach it to-morrow. All through the Scripture it is over and over again impressed upon those that preach the gospel that they are to urge every man to decide the question at once: "Behold now is the accepted time." The little word "now," oh, may it ring down in your soul to-night! May it sink into the heart of every person here. Why, just think of those in yonder world of light. Now, they are with the King in his beauty; now, they move along to those mansions; now, they walk down the crystal pavement of Heaven; now, they walk by that crystal river; now, they walk by the tree of life and pluck its fruit. They are now in Heaven. Think of those who were in this city a year ago. Some of them are now lost. They are lifting up their voices in torment, and are weeping over lost opportunities. Perhaps men who were a year ago as well in health as you are to-night, are now weeping over their lost souls. Now what are vou doing here to-night? Are you rejecting the Son of God? rejecting salvation? rejecting eternal life? Oh, may God press it upon you! Will not you take Christ to-night as your Savior? Take him now.
There is another "Behold" in that verse: "Behold now is the day of salvation." Now, this 14th day of January, 1876, is the day of salvation. I cannot tell you the 15th day of January, 1876, will be the day of salvation. I don't know that it will ever come. God shuts us up to that little word "now." "Behold, now is the day of salvation."
There is a story told that a man was seen in the Niagara river. His boat was capsized, and he was sweeping along towards the rapids, A man on the shore saw his danger, and ran to the bridge on the American side. He saw where the man was coming under the bridge, and he let himself down and put his hand out, and cried to the man, "Lay hold on my hand." That was his chance. Now, he had to do it. He seized the man's hand, and the man drew him up out of the jaws of death. The Savior puts down his hand to-night. Now believe; now be saved. If that man had missed the bridge, there was no hope for him. Every man that has gone over that cataract has logt his life. Every man that dies without hope is lost forever.
My little boy God calls thee to-night. Young man, God calls thee to-night. "Behold, now is the day of salvation." Are you going to let these meetings close, and leave you outside of the ark? Are you going to let these special meetings close, and you be left unsaved? Will there ever be a better opportunity than to-night to seek the Idngdon of God? Will Christ ever be more willing than now to save you? "Now, is the day of salvation." Why put it off?
But there is another "behold." I have spoken of it a number of times, but I will bring it up again because it brings Christ so near. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." How near that brings him. Does he stand knocking at the door of this building? He stands nearer than th>t. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." What door? The door of your heart. Yes, the door of your heart, young man. "I stand at the door and knock." He calls, "Behold!" In another place the Scripture says, "My head is rilled with dew, «nd my locks with the drops of the night." He has waited long. He has come hundreds of times; but, like King Agrippa, you have said: "Go thy way this time, and when I have a convenient season I will call for thee." Have you called for him? He has waited for ten, twenty, thirty, forty and fifty years for some of you; and that convenient time has not come. Asain he crosses your path. Does your heart throb? That is Christ knocking. As he stands at the door, knocking, what does he say? "If any man"—thank God for those words—"If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Will you lot him in to-night? Sinner, will you open the door and let him in?
I was the guest of a friend in Dublin, and I set out one morning to go to meeting, and I found the door was locked so that I could not get out. I unlocked it, and tried to get out; but I found it chained. I unfastened the chain, and then I found it was bolted. I pulled back the bolt, and found another bolt. I pulled it back and found there was a secret lock. I unlocked that, and so got out. I thought, then, that that was the way with every sinner's heart. It i* locked, chained, barred, and bolted to keep out the Son of God. Puil back those bolts, unlock the door, and say: "King of glory, come in;" and he will come. Will you let him in to-night?
Young man, what are you going to do with him to-night? Father, mother, -what are you going to do with him to-night? Are you going to say with Felix: "Go thy way, I have no time"? The next all may be death himself. With a cold, icy hand he may lay hold of the door. You may have it bolted and barred; but the moment he puts his hand upon it, he will open it; and he will lay his icy hand upon you and say, "Come with me." You cannot say to him, "I have no time." He will not be turned away. He will s»v, " I have no time to linger." I can imagine his coming^to a man who says, "Give me twenty-four hours." "No, I cannot give you twenty-four hours." "Give me one hour." "No, I cannot give you a minute." And away he takes him. No chance for Christ now. He rushes into eternity in the twinkling of an eye, without God and without hope.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Sinner, if you don't believe me to-night, believe that godly woman at your side. Say to her, What shall I do with Jesus to-night? Shall I turn him away? Ask that godly wife, What shall I do with Jesus? And she will say, "Let him in." Younjr man, ask that Sabbath-school teacher that has brought you here to-night if the preacher is not right, and if you had not better let Christ in; and see if that Sabbath-school teacher will not join me to-night. Every godly mother and every godly father will say you had better let him in to-night. Every Christian will say you ought to let him in. While he stands knocking, don't turn him away.
The next " behold" is: "Behold he prayeth." There may be some men here greatly opposed to these meetings—men who have come out of curiosity, or men who have come to ridicule and make sport; but I don't think there is any man here so unpromising as Saul of Tarsus was. If any man had said Saul would be converted before he got to Damascus, he would not have been believed. Yet as he draws near, Christ speaks to him. He commences knocking at the door of Saul's heart, and Saul cries, "Who is there?" The answer comes to him, "It is Jesus." The first thing Saul did was to let him in. He cried out: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" And the Lord said: "Enter in to Damascus, and I will tell thee." And they led him into a street called Straight. And the word of the Lord came to Ananias from heaven. There was not any one on earth would believe that Saul was converted; but the news went to heaven, and came back to Ananias. The Lord said, "You go and tell Saul what he is to do." Ananias says: "I have heard a good deal about that man. I have heard it from many and many different ones, that Saul is coming from Jerusalem; and he has papers giving him authority to imprison the disciples of the Lord. He will take you, Ananias, and put you into prison, and all that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." I can imagine Ananias keeping his house bolted; and now, instead of getting bad news, he gets the best of news. "Ananias, Saul is praying. Tell him what he must do to be saved." They heard it in heaven before it was heard on earth. The moment Saul cried out, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do," it was heard in heaven; and the news came from there to Damascus that he prayeth. I hope the news will go on High to-night, "Behold he prayeth." This night ask the Lord to save you. If you seek him with all your heart, you will find him.
Among the inquirers I talked with this afternoon was a young miss about fifteen years of age. She said, " I want to become a Christian." She said: "I lost a valuable diamond the other day, and I asked the Lord to help me find it, and he did so." I said: "Ask him to save your soul, as you sought for the lost diamond, and let that be the uppermost thought in your heart." I never saw a man that sought God with all his heart but found him. Let the news go to heaven, "Behold he prayeth."