THE RIPENING HARVEST.
"Say not ye. There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say onto you, lift up your eyes and look upon the fields: for they are white already for the harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." John 4: 35, 36.
I want to call your attention this morning to the 35th and 36th verses of the 4th chapter of John: "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look upon the fields; for they are white already for the harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
He that reapeth may also rejoice with those that have been sowing for years in this city. You know that it takes a great many more people to plant and to sow than it does to reap; but when the reaping time comes, the difference is that the reaping must be done at once, and therefore it needs a great many more men for a few days at work to gather the harvest than it did to sow and plant. This planting and sowing has been going on here for years; and I am one of those that firmly believe that the day and the hour has come for us to reap a great harvest. A great many people have asked me, during the past week: "What the signs are in Boston; how is the work opening?" Now I want to say, right here, that we have never had it open any better. The last week is as good a week as we have ever had anywhere; I don't know but better. For the indications are now that the crowds have not come here to hear the singing, or listen to the preaching only, but to pray; and when the services are over, more people have tarried in the inquiry rooms to pray than, for an opening, we have had at any other place we have been to. And I want to tell you that is a sign. It is not when people come here to hear the singing or preaching, but when they come to pray, that we have a sure sign of a coming harvest. It is a good sign when they come with their consciences and hearts burdened, and commence to pray. I believe that the time has fully come, if the reapers will but gird on the armor of faith and go forth into these fields already white to harvest. And those that do reap will not be disappointed.
I can tell you now, before the work begins, who are going to be disappointed. There are always three classes of people who come to these meetings. First, the critics come. They don't take any
part in the services. Perhaps they may take a seat upon the plat form, if they have obtained tickets, and sit there with arms folded and remain in a dignified manner, looking about and criticising. And when there is work really to be done, and souls around them anxiously seeking Christ, they won't help them, but turn away and go off and criticise. Anybody can do that. It don't take brains to do it. Most anybody can criticise. I never saw a meeting but what I could find something to criticise; find something that would make it better and better. I can criticise, so can anyone. It don't take much ability to do that. That class will be disappointed by these meetings, and disappointed from the beginning to the end. The meetings won't come up to their expectations. A second class come just to enjoy these meetings. They have the best seats there are every night and noon; but when it comes to performing real work and working to gather in some sheaves for the Master, they say: "Oli, you will have to excuse me; I am not qualified; I come to attend the meetings, of course; but I have very important business at home;" and away they go. That class will enjoy the meetings a little while, but be more or less disappointed.
Then we come to the third class—that is the class we are after— the workers. We don't care for the critics and curiosity-seekers, or if they are disappointed. But the third class, the workers, they are the ones that will not be disappointed. They have gone out in the harvest-field to work. Those people are not going to be disappointed. Now we want to get just as many workers as we can. The object of these morning meetings is to see how many are ready to go out and work in the harvest-field, and work personally for the Master. In other words, lay yourselves out for the work. We want men and women of Boston that will lay themselves out for the work. When we went to Chicago, a few months ago, there was a young man in a Sabbath-school there who had a class of rather wild young men. He was in the habit of taking them into the country, and spending two or three weeks of every summer of the time with them in boating, gunning and riding. Last summer he took them out, and always used to talk to them; but there was not one in the fifty or sixty of his class who was converted. When he went to Chicago, he said: "I am going to get a blessing upon my own soul, and see if God won't help me; and this may get a blessing upon my class." You see, he laid himself out. Now what was the result? Why, he only had about sixty or seventy in his class when we were there. And I got a letter from him last night informing me that he had over two hundred in his class now, and upward of sixty of those were converted and working Christians. He had laid himself out for the work, and, therefore, God blessed him. Superintendents and Sabbathschool teachers of Boston, make up your minds that, God helping you, you will lay yourselves out for the work. The reaping time has
come, and he that reapeth shall receive wages. Recollect one thing, that God will pay. Now a great many people want work. Why, there is work here for ten thousand. Enter into it, and God will fill your own soul with light, truth, peace and joy, and there will be joy continually. *
When in Manchester, a man came to me and said that he would like to do some work for souls. I said, "You haven't got to look a great ways. Look at these servant girls all around, anxious to find Christ, asking us to do something to help them, coming night after night. They can't get out to hear the preaching. You could form a Bible class and lead them to the Savior." Ho took that work up, and when we left Manchester he said the Lord was blessing and paying him good wages. God always does. And when we sailed in July from Liverpool for this country, that man came down to the landing to see us off. And he said: "Mr. Moody, I have got seventy-seven servant girls in my class; and forty-five of them are converted, and have united with churches." He found his work. He .was getting his wages. "And he that reapeth shall receive wages."
Let me ask you, superintendents and Sabbath-school teachers, do you believe that a superintendent or teacher in the whole city can fail to bring down a blessing upon their charge, if they lay themselves out for the work? Some of you may ask, "What do you mean?" I mean, let your parties and church festivals go. Set your face like a flint against frivolous things, and cry to God: "O God, give me souls, or I die." And God will not disappoint you. It may be that you do not get what you want now; but this religion and God's power is as strong as ever. If you will only lay yourselves out for the work of saving souls, God will not disappoint you, but give you success. In one city where we went, a Sunday-school superintendent came to one of these morning meetings; and he felt that he was not faithful enough, and was troubled. He went to his pastor, and said: "I want to resign my position as superintendent; I cannot be superintendent any longer; I want you to read my resignation in the pulpit." The minister asked: "What is the reason; what do you want to resign for?" "Well," says he, "I am afraid I am not converted; If I am, I am so cold no one would know it; I am not fit to gather sinners to life eternal, not fit to be superintendent." The minister said: "Don't you think that, instead of resigning, you ought to ask God to bless you?" And the minister knelt with him right there, prayed with him, and in the oourse of two or three days the man found relief, and peace and happiness in believing; and instead of wanting to give up his school, he wanted to get his school blessed likewise. You see his heart hadn't been right, and that was the reason his work had not been successful in that Sunday-school. He confessed this to his Sunday-school, telling them
of how he had not been faithful, and how he had at last got right with God. And mark the result. Why, the teachers broke down, and confessed themselves in the same condition their superintendent had been in. And all the teaphers in that school re-consecrated themselves to God and his service. And the pastor of that church told me that he took one hundred and thirty into that school, after that superintendent and those teachers got themselves ready for their work as Christian workers.
Now, I want to ask you here, to-day, Are you ready to go into the harvest field? Are you ready to go to your class this afternoon; and can you go with your heart burdened for their salvation? And can you tell those children that you care more for their salvation than for anything else? I believe these children can see by your eyes whether you care much for their salvation. If they can see you anxious, I believe we would see them come flocking to Christ. A great many people have asked me, "When are you going to reach the children?" First of all, the superintendents, teachers and parents must prepare themselves; and then we can reach the children. Are you ready to-day, superintendents and Sunday-school teachers? That is the way to reach them. It is not by bringing them to this building, to preach to them, or to sing with them. Not that; but to get the parents and teachers warmed up. The trouble is, they are cold now. I believe hundreds of children are saying to-day, "Oh, that somebody would lead me to Christ!" A friend of mine went to a meeting in Michigan. There were Sabbath-school teachers there; and he was telling these teachers and parents the importance of taking the children by the hand and leading them to Christ As he was speaking, telling how few of them were willing to do this, a sweet little child, only about four years old, jumped out of her mother's lap, and reaching up her little hand, said, "Will you please lead me to Jesus?" She wanted to come at once; such love as his moved her little heart And I believe, if we could get the language of hundreds of the hearts of these children, we would find written there the same words, "Will you please lead me to Jesus?" But with a cold church and mothers indifferent they will not be saved. O parents, wake up to the great fact that the souls of these children are worth more than kingdoms and worlds.
I remember of a Sunday-school teacher, who did not really wake up to his responsibility to God for his class until he was ready to die. It was where I was a superintendent for a while. There was one class, this gentleman's, with which I had more trouble than all the rest. They were boisterous, unruly, and bound not to behave. One Sunday he was away, and they acted worse than ever. The next week he came into my place of business trembling, and said: "Well, Moody, the doctor tells me that I can't live; I have been bleeding again at the lungs, and I am going home to my widowed mother to
die." He trembled and wavered so much that I said: "What is the trouble? You are not afraid of death; you are ready to go?" He said: "No, sir, I am not afraid; but I am anxious for my Sabbathschool. None of them are converted. I have been with them for years, and tried hard to lead them to God. If I had been faithful, I cannot help thinking that they would have been converted." I said: "Suppose you go round and see them personally, and talk with them." He said: "I cannot. When I ooufd have done so, I would not." I took that conscience-troubled man in a carriage, and we went from house to house, visiting each scholar. And as he got out of that carriage, he would reel in his weakness across the sidewalk to the doors and call them—Martha, Mary, Julia, or whatever the name might be—to him. And with the tears trickling down his cheeks, he would beg of them to come to Christ, to settle the question then and there, and would commend them to God in prayer. He labored for ten days, and at the end of that time the last one yielded to God. The great vital question of their lives was settled; they had acceped his Savior, his Lord, Jesus Christ. He came to me and said, "My work is done, and I am going home." I said: "You are not going to-day; wait till to-morrow and get the whole class together." I invited them to tea. That was one of the most memorable nights that I have ever known. I look back to that night as the night I got the strongest impulse for trying to bring souls to Christ. Before that, I hadn't worked much. I was satisfied with sowing, and didn't think of reaping. I believe a good many Christians have that way. I had labored years without reaping much. Well, the class gathered that night, and after we had talked and sung a few moments, he prayed with them for more and deeper faith, that the Lord would keep the little flock together, and that they would all meet in glory. After a while, the class began to pray; they prayed that they might be kept faithful, and meet that teacher in heaven, and win others to Christ. We sung, "Blest be the Tie that Binds Our Hearts;" and then we separated. The next evening, as the sun was going down over the Western prairies, this teacher was to leave our city. I thought I must get just one more shake of his hand, look once more into that lovely eye, and bid him God-speed. So I went to the station; and when I got there, I found one after another of that class had met there, without any preconcerted action. The whole class was there. They felt as I did, that they must see him once more. They gathered around him and sang, "Here we meet to part again, but when we meet on Canaan's shore, there'll be no parting there." He stepped upon the platform, and as the cars rolled out of the depot we could see his pale hand pointing toward that heaven where he wished to meet them. He died; but his influence lives iu Chicago to-day, and it will live as long as there is a Chicago. Some of the best we have there were converted at thai time.
Oh, may God give us a passion for souls! "Say not ye there are yet four months and then cometh harvest; behold I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." May God lift up our eyes, and show us the harvest! May we lift up our eyes and see the fields white to harvest. Let tu pray that God will give us some souls to-day.