COURAGE AND ENTHUSIASM.
"B« of good courage." Joshua <1: 6, 7, 9.
I (hall take for my subject to-night only two words, courage and enthusiasm—necessary qualifications for successful work in the Lord's service. In this chapter I read to-night, four different times God tells Joshua to be of good courage; and he says that if he was of good courage no man should be able to stand before him, all the day» of his life. And we read that in the evening of his life he was successful; and that no man was able to stand before him all his days. God fulfilled his promise; God kept his word. But see how careful God is to instruct him on this one point. Four times in one chapter he says to him, "Be of good courage; and then you shall prosper; then you shall have good success." And I have yet to find that God ever uses a man that is all the time looking on the dark nde, and is all the time talking about the obstacles and looking at them, and is discouraged and cast down. It is not these Christians that go around with their head down like a bul rush, looking at the obstacles and talking about the darkness all the time, that God uses. They kill everything they touch; there is no life in them. Now, if we are going to succeed, we have got to be of good courage; and the moment we get our eyes on God and remember who he is, and that he has all power in heaven and earth, that it is God that com* mands us to work in his vineyard, then it is that we will have courage given us.
Now if you just take your Bibles and look carefully through them, yon will see the men that have left their mark behind them, the men that have been successful in winning souls to Christ, have all been men of that stamp. You will notice that when Moses commenced, after he had been among the Egyptians forty years, he thought the time had come for him to commence his work of delivering the captives, and he went out; and the first thing we hear is that he was looking this way and that way to see if somebody saw him. He was not fit for God's work. God had to take him on the back side of the desert for forty years; and then God was ready to send him, and Moses then looked but one way. And he sent him down into Egypt. He had boldness now, and he goes right before the king of Egypt; and he Lad courage, and God could use him. But it took him forty years to learn that lesson, that he must have courage and boldness to be a fit vessel for the Master's use.
Again, we find Elijah on Mount Carmel, full of boldness. How the Lord used him! How the Lord stood by himl How the Lord blessed him! But when he got his eyes off the Lord, and Jezebel sent a message to him that she would have his life, he got afraid. He was not afraid of Ahab and the whole royalty, and he was not afraid of the whole nation. He stood on Mount Carmel alone, and see what courage he had! But what came over him I don't know, unless it was that he got his eyes off the Lord, and when one woman gave him that message he got frightened, and God had to go to him and ask him what he was doing; and he was not fit for God's communion.
That, I think, is the trouble with a good many of God's people. We get frightened, and are afraid to speak to men about their souls. We lack moral courage, and if we hear the voice of God speaking to us and saying, "Run and speak to that young man," we will go to him meaning to do it; and will really talk to him about everything else, and dare not about his soul. When we begin to invite men to Christ is when the work begins; and it won't begin until we have the courage given us, and are ready to go and speak with them about their souls. We read that, when the apostles were brought before the council, they perceived their boldness; and it made an impression on the council. The Lord could use them then, because they were fearless and bold. Look at Peter on Pentecost, when he charged the murder of the Son of God upon the Jews. A little while before he had got out of communion, and one little maid had scared him nearly out of his life, so that he swore he didn't know Christ. Ah! he had his eyes off the Master, and the moment we get our eyes off Christ we get disheartened; and then God cannot use us.
I remember a few years ago I got discouraged, and could not see much fruit of my work; and one morning, as I was in my study, cast down, one of my Sabbath-school teachers came in and wanted to know what I was discouraged about; and I told him, because I could see no result from my work. And speaking about Noah, he said: "By the way, did you ever study up the chapter of Noah?" I felt that I knew all about that, and told him that I was familiar with it; and he said: "Now, if you never studied that carefully, you ought to do it; for I cannot tell you what a blessing it has been to me." When he went out, I took down my Bible and commenced to read about Noah; and the thought came stealing over me: "Here is a man that toiled and worked a hundred years and didn't get discouraged, if he did, the Holy Ghost didn't put it on record." And the clouds lifted; and I got up and said, If the Lord wants me to work without any fruit I will work on. I went down to the noon prayer meeting; and when I saw the people coming to pray, I said to myself: "Noah worked a hundred years, and he never saw a prayer-meeting outside of his own family." Pretty soon a man got
np right across the aisle where I was sitting, and said he had come from a little town where there had been a hundred uniting with the church of God the year before. And I thought to myself: "What if Noah had heard that! He preached so many, many years and didn't get a convert; yet he was not discouraged. Then a man got up right behind me, and he trembled as he said: "I am lost; I want you to pray for my soul." And I said: "What if Noah had heard that! He worked a hundred and twenty years, and never had a man come to him and say that; and yet he didn't get discouraged." And I made up my mind then that, God helping me, I would never get discouraged. I would do the best I could, and leave the results with God; and it has been a wonderful help to me. And so let me say to the Christians of New York that we must expect good results; and never get discouraged; but if we don't get good results, let us not look on the dark side, but keep on praying, and in the fullness of time the blessing of God will come. What we want is to have the Christians come out and take their stand. I find a great many professed Christians for a long time ashamed to acknowledge that they have been quickened. Some have said they did not like the idea of asking Christians to rise, as I did last evening; that it was putting them in a false position. Now, if we are going to be sucsessful, we have got to take our stand for God, and let the world and every one know we are on the Lord's side. I have great respect for the woman that started out during the war with a poker. She heard the enemy were coming and went to resist them. When some one asked her what she could do with a poker, she said she would at least let them know what side she was on. And that is what we want, and the time is coming when the line must be drawn in this city, and those on Christ's side must take their stand; and the moment we come out boldly and acknowledge Christ then it is that men will begin to inquire what they must do to be saved.
Then there is a class of people that are not warm enough. I don't think a little enthusiasm would hurt the church, at the present time. I think we need it. I know the world will cry out against it; business men will cry out against religious enthusiasm. But let railroad stocks go up fifteen or twenty per cent., and see what a revival there would be in business. If there should be a sudden advance in stock, see if there wouldn't be enthusiasm on 'Change tomorrow. Let there be a sudden change in business, and see if there isn't a good deal of enthusiasm on the street. We can have enthusiasm in business; we can have enthusiasm in politics, and no one complains of that. A man can have enthusiasm in everything else; but the moment that a little fire gets into the church they raise the cry, "Ah, enthusiasm—false excitement—I am afraid of it." I do not want false excitement; but I do think we want it little fire, a little holy enthusiasm. But these men will raise
out knowledge." I had a good deal rather have zeal without knowledge than knowledge without zeal; and it won't hurt us to have a little more of this enthusiasm and zeal in the Lord's work. I saw more zeal when I was in Princeton last Sunday than I have in many a year. I was talking with the students there about their souls, and after I had been talking for some time, quite a group of young men gathered around me; and the moment that one of them made a surrender and said, "Well, I will accept Christ," it seemed as if there were twenty-five hands pressed right down to shake hands with him. That is what we want—men that will rejoice to hear of the conversion of men. Although I don't admire his ideas, I do admire the enthusiasm of that man Garibaldi. It is reported that when he marched toward Rome in 1867, they took him up and threw him into prison; and he sat right down and wrote to his comrades: "If fifty Garibaldis are thrown into prison, let Rome be free!" That is the spirit. Who is Garibaldi? That is nothing. "If fifty Garibaldis are thrown into prison, let Rome be free!" That is what we want in the cause of Christ. We have got to work, and not be loitering at our ease. And then the question of dignity comes up. We have got to lay all that aside, and we have got to be helpers. What difference does it make whether we are hewers of wood or carriers of water, while the temple of God is being erected. Yes, let us have an enthusiasm in the church of God. If we had it in a few of the churches in New York, I believe it would be like a resurrection. The people would say: "What has come over this man? he ain't like the same man he was two months ago." We want to have them say: "The Son of God is dearer to us than our money. The Son of God is dearer to us than our families. The Son of God is dearer to us than our position in society."
Let us do anything that the work of God may go on; and when we get there, God will bless us. Why, it says in the Bible, "One shall chase a thousand." We have not got many of that kind in our churches; I wish we had more of them. It says, "Two shall put ten thousand to flight." Now, if a few should lay hold of God in this way, see what a great army ere long will be saved in this cityJ But then we have got to be men after God's own heart. They cannot be lukewarm. They have got to be on fire with the cause of Christ. We have got to have more of this enthusiasm that will carry us into the Lord's work. If there is going to be a great revival in New York, it ain't going to be in this hall. It has got to be done by one and by another going around and talking to their neighbors. There isn't a skeptic, there isn't a drunkard, but what can be reclaimed, if we come with desire in our hearts. We mustn't go around professionally, if we want to see any result. There is a story told in history, in the ninth century I believe, of a young man that came up with a little handful of men to attack a king who had a great army of 3,000 men. The young man had only 500; and the king sent a messenger to the young man saying that he need not fear to surrender, for he would treat him mercifully. The young man called up one of his soldiers and said, "Take this dagger and drive it to your heart;" and the soldier took the dagger and drove it to his heart. And calling up another, he said to him, "Leap into yonder chasm." and the man leaped into the chasm. The young man then said to the messenger: "Go back and tell your king I have got 600 men like these. We will die, but we will never surrender. And tell your king another thing, that I will have him chained with my dog inside of a few hours." And when the king heard that, he did not dare to meet them, and his army fled before them like chaff before the wind; and within twenty-four hours he had that king chained with his dog.
That is the kind of zeal we want. "We will die, but we wul never surrender." We will work until Jesus comes; and then we will rise with him. Oh, if men are willing to die for patriotism, why can they not have the same zeal for Christ? All that Abraham Lincoln had to do was to call for men, and how speedily they came. When he called for 600,000 men, how quick they sprung up all over the nation. Isn't souls worth more than this republic? Isn't souls worth more than this government? Don't we want 600,000 men? If 600 men should come forward, whose hearts were right red-hot for the Son of God, we would be able to see what mighty results would follow. "One man shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to flight." During our war, the generals that were all the time on the defensive never succeeded. The generals that were successful were the generals that were on the aggressive. Some of our churches think they are doing remarkably well if they hold their membership; and they think, if they have thirty or forty conversions in that church during the year, that that is remarkable work. They think it is enough to supply the places of those who have died, and those who have wandered away during the past. It seems to me we ought to bring thousands and thousands to Christ. I say the time has come for us to have a war on the side of aggression. There may be barriers in our path, but God can remove them. There may be a mountain in our way, but God can take us over the mountain. There may be difficulties in the way, but he can overcome them. Our God is above them all; and if the Church of God is ready to advance, all obstacles will be removed. No man ever sent by God erer failed, but self must be lost sight of. We must be willing to lay down our lives for the cause of Christ.
When I was going to Europe in 1867, my friend Mr. Stuart, of Philadelphia, said: "Be sure to be at the General Assembly in Edinburgh, in June. I was there last year," said he, "and it did me a world of pood." He said that a returned missionary from India was invited to speak to the General Assembly on the wants of India. This old missionary, after a brief address, told the pastors who were present to go home and stir up their churches, and send young men to India to preach the gospel. He spoke with such earnestness that after a while he fainted, and they carried him from the hall. When he recovered he asked where he was, and they told him the circumstances under which he had been brought there. "Yes," he said, "I was making a plea for India, and I didn't quite finish my speech, did If" After being told that he did not, he said: "Well, take me back and let me finish it." But they said, "No! you will die in the attempt." "Well," said he, "I will die if I don't;" and the old man asked again that they would allow him to finish his plea. When he was taken back, the whole congregation stood as one man; and as they brought him on the' platform, with a trembling voice he said: "Fathers and mothers of Scotland, is it true that you will not let your sons go to India? I spent twenty-five years of my life there; I lost my health, and I have come back with sickness and shattered health. If it is true that we have no strong grandsons to go to India, I will pack up what I have and be off to-morrow; and 1 will let those heathen know that if I oannot live for them, I will die for them."
The world will say that that old man was enthusiastic. Well, that is just what we want. No doubt that is what they said of the Son of God, when he was down here. Oh, that God may baptize us to-night with the spirit of enthusiasm! that he iii:iy anoint us tonight with the Holy Ghost! Let me say to some of you men—I see some gray locks here, who, I have no doubt, are saying: "I wish I was young again; 1 .would like to help in this work; I would like to work for the Lord." When we went to London there was an old woman eighty-five years old, who came to the meetings and said she wanted a hand in that work. She was appointed to a district, and called on all classes of people. She went to places where we would probably have been put out, and told the people of Christ. There were none that could resist her. When the old woman of eightyfive years old came to them and offered to pray for them, they all received her kindly—Catholics, Jews, Gentiles, all. That is enthusiasm—that is what we want in New York. If you cannot give a day to this work, give an hour; or if not an hour, five minutes. If you have not strength to do anything personally, you can pray for this work. Now, it is- a good deal better to do that than it is to stand off criticising. Some will say: "Oh, I heard my grandfather say how such things should be done. This is not managed right to be successful." And they stand off and criticise and find fault; and we will never succeed as long as they do this. All should work, and ask God's guidance.
Once, when a great fire broke out at midnight, and people thought that all the inmates had been taken out, away up there in the fifth story was seen a little child crying for help. Up went a ladder, and soon a fireman was seen ascending to the spot. As he neared the second story, the flames burst in fury from the windows; and the multitude almost despaired of the rescue of the child. The brave man faltered, and a comrade at the bottom cried out, "Cheer I " and cheer upon cheer arose from the crowd. Up the ladder he went, and saved the child, because they cheered him. If you cannot go into the heat of the battle yourself, if you cannot go into the harvest field and work day after day, you can cheer those that are working for the Master. I see many old people in their old days get crusty and sour, and they discourage every one they meet by their faultfinding. That is not what we want. If we make a mistake, come and tell us of it; and we will thank you. You don't know how much you may do by just speaking kindly to those that are willing to work.
I remember when I was a boy, I went several miles from home with an older brother. That seemed to me the longest visit of my life. It seemed that I was then further away from home than I had ever been before, or have ever been since. While we were walking down the street, we saw an old man coming toward us, and my brother said: "There is a man that will give you a cent. He gives every new boy that comes into this town a cent." That was my first visit to the town;- and when the old man got opposite to us he looked around; and my brother not wishing me to lose the cent, and to remind the old man that I had not received it, told him that I was a new boy in the town. The old man, taking off my hat, placed his trembling hand on my head, and told me I had a Father in heaven. It was a Kind, simple act, but I feel the pressure of the old man's hand upon my head to-day.
Now you can all do something in this work of saving souls—that ii what we have come to this city for. There is not a mother, father, nor wife, there is not a young man in all the city, but what ought to be in sympathy with this work. We have come here to try to save souls. I never heard of one that was brought to Christ that it injured them. Oh, let us pray for the Spirit of God. Let us pray that this spirit of criticism and fault-finding may be all laid aside, ind that we may be of one spirit, as they were on the day of Penteooat