"THEIR ROCK IS NOT AS OUR ROCK."
"For their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Deuteronomy 32: 31.
I want to call your attention to-night to a text which you will find in the 32d chapter of Deuteronomy and the 31st verse: "For their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." I wish that this audience for about thirty minutes would just imagine they are sitting in judgment—that each one is sitting upon the case brought up. We want every man, woman and child in this building to decide the question brought before them: "For their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." This was uttered by Moses, in his farewell address to Israel. He had been with them forty years, day and night. He had been the king, or president, or judge, or whatever you may call it; he had been their leader or instructor; in other words, he had been a god to them, for all the blessings of heaven came through him. And the old man was about leaving them. He had taken them to the borders of the promised land; and all who had left Egypt with him, but Joshua and Caleb, had been laid in that wilderness. Now he is making his farewell address; and young man, if you have never read it, read it to-night. It is the best sermon in print. I do not know any other eermon in the New or Old Testament that compares with it. His natural activity hadn't abated; he had still the vigor of youth. I can see him as he delivers it: his long white hair flowing over his shoulders, and his venerable beard covering his breast, as he gives them the wholesome instruction. Now, I want every one to wake up here. I see one young man over there who has just gone to sleep. All you young men will help me, if you see any one next you going to sleep, by pinching his elbow. We don't want any one here to sleep. I remember, when I was in Boston, I fell asleep m church; and a man just pinched me, and I rubbed my eyes and woke up. I looked at the minister; and lo, and behold, I thought he was preaching directly at me. It seemed as if he knew all about my faults, and my disposition, and everything about me. I never felt so cheap in my life. All bis remarks seemed to be directed to me, and I wondered who had been telling that minister about me. At the conclusion of the sermon, I pulled my coat-collar up and got out as quick as I could. Now bear in mind, you men who have gone to sleep are the very men I want to speak to. But let us go back to the subject. The old man was giving his farewell address, in which he said: "This rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Now I am not going to call upon Christians to settle this question, but the ungodly, the unconverted, must decide this question; and if you be fair with the argument you will have to admit that "Your rock is not as our rock;" your peace is not as our pettce; because we have got our feet on the rock of Jesus.
You know, in the first place, that the atheist does not believe in any God. He denies the existence of a God. Now, I contend that his rock is not as our rock, and will let those atheists be the judges. What does an atheist look forward to? Nothing. He is taking a very crooked path in this world. His life has been dark; it has been full of disappointments. When he was a young man, ambition beckoned him on to a certain height. He has attained to that height; but he is not satisfied. He climbs a little higher, and perhaps he has got as far as he can get; but he is not contented. He is dissatisfied; and if he takes a look into the future, he sees nothing. Man's life is full of trouble. Afflictions are as numerous as the hairs of our head; but when the billows of aSliction are rising and rolling over him, he has no God to call upon. Therefore, I contend, his "rock is not as our rock." Look atvhim. He has a child. That atheist has all the natural affection for that child possible. He has a ion, a noble young man, who starts' out in life full of promise; but he goes astray. He has not the will-power of his father, and cannot resist the temptations of the world. That father cannot call upon God to save his son. He sees that son go down to ruin, step by stop; and by-and-by he plunges into a hopeless, Godless, Christless grave. And as that father looks into that grave, he has no hope. His " rock is not as our rock." Look at him again. He has a child laid low with fever, racked with pain and torture; but the poor atheist cai. not offer any consolation to that child. As he stands by the bedside of that child, she says: "Father, I am dying; in a little while I will go into another world. What is going to become of me? Am I going to die like a dumb boast?" "Yes," the poor atheist says, " I
mc. "Why," said I, " did you send your daughter out of the room before you said this?" "Well," he replied, " I did not think it woulo do her any good to hear what I said." My friends, his "rook is not as our rock." Why did he send hie daughter out of the room, if he believed what he said? It was because he did not believe it. Why, if I believed in infidelity, I would wish my daughters and my sons, my wife, and all belonging to me, sharers in the same belief. I would preach it wherever I went. But they doubt what they advocate. If they believed it down in their souls, why, when their daughters die, do they send for a true Christian to administer consolation? Why don't they send for some follower of Voltaire, or Hume, or Paine? Why, when they make their last will, do they send for some Christian to carry it out? My friends, it is because their rock has no foundation; it is because in the hour of adversity, in spite of all their boasts of the grandeur of infidelity, they cannot trust their infidel friends. "Their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges."
Now, did you ever hear of a Christian in his dying hour recanting? You never did. Did you ever hear of Christians regretting that they had accepted Christianity, and in their dying hour embracing infidelity? I would like to see the man who could stand and say he had. But how many times have Christians been called to the bedside of an Atheist, or Deist, or Infidel in his dying hours, and heard him crying for mercy? In that hour infidelity is gone; and he wants the God of his father and mother to take the place of his black infidelity. It is said of West, an eminent man, that he was going to take up the doctrine of the resurrection, and show the world what a fraud it was, while Lord Lyttleton was going to take up the conversion of Saul, and just show the folly of it. These men were going to annihilate that doctrine, and that incident of the gospel. They were going to emulate the Frenchman, who said it took twelve fishermen to build up Christ's religion, but one Frenchman pulled it down. From Calvary this doctrine rolled along the stream of time, through the eighteen hundred years, down to us, and West got at it and began to look at the evidence; but, instead of being able to cope with it, he found it perfectly overwhelming—the proof that Christ had risen, that he had come out of the sepulchre, and ascended to heaven and led captivity captive. The light dawned upon him; and he became an expounder of the Word of God, and a champion of Christianity. And Lord Lyttleton, that infidel and skeptic, hadn't been long at the conversion of Saul before the God of Saul broke upon his sight, and he too began to preach. I don't believe there is a man in the audience, who, if he will take his Bible and read it, but will be convinced of its truth.
What does infidelity do for a man? "Why," said a dying infidel, "My principles have lost me my friends; my principles have sent my •wife to her grave with a broken heart; they have made my children beggars; and I go down to my grave without peace or consolation." I never heard of an infidel going down to his grave happily. But not only do they go on without peace, but how many youths do they turn away from God? How many young men are turned away from Christ by these infidels and devils? Let them remember that God will hold them responsible, if they are guilty of turning men away from heaven. A few infidels gathered around a dying friend lately, and they wanted him to hold on to the end, to die like a man. They were trying to cheer him, but the poor infidel turned to them: "Ah," said he, "what have I got to hold on to?" My friends,, let me ask you what you have got to hold on to? Every Christian has Christ to hold on to—the resurrected man. "I am be that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore." Thank God, we have some one to carry us through all our trials. But what has the Infinel, only the shell. How majff men are there in Chicago who are His gods are false gods. They are like the false gods of the Hebrews; they never hear their cry. Whereas, if we have the God of Daniel, of Abraham, he is always ready to succor us when in distress; and we can make him our fortress, and we have a refuge in the storm of adversity. There we can anchor safely, free from danger and disaster. I was reading to-night almost the last words of Lord Byron, and I want to draw a comparison between the sorrowful words of Byron and those of Saint Paul. He died very young—he was only thirtyJ->i—after leading an ungodly life.
"My days are in the yellow leaf.
The flower and fruit of life are gone;
The worm, the canker and the grief
Are mine alone."
Compare those words with the words of St. Paul: "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." What a contrast! What a difference 1 My friends, there is as much difference between them as there is between heaven and hell, between death and life. Be judges which is the most glorious—atheism, deism, infidelity, or the Christianity of St. Paul. May God take all these isms and sweep them from the world.
I want to read to you a letter which I received some time ago. I read this to you because I am getting letters from infidels, who say that not an infidel has repented during our meetings. Only about ten days ago I got a letter from an infidel, who accused me of being a liar. He said there had not been an infidel converted during our meetings. My friends, go up to the young converts' meeting any Monday night; and you will see there ten or twelve every night, who have accepted Christ. Why, nearly every night we meet with a poor infidel who accepts Christ. But let me read this letter. We get many letters every day for prayer; and, my friends, you don't know the stories that lie behind those letters. The letter I am about to read was not received here, but while we were in Philadelphia. When I received it, I put it away, intending to use it at a future day:
"Dear Sir: Allow me the privilege of addressing you with & few words. The cause of writing is indeed a serious one. I am the f on of an aristocratic family of Germany—was expensively educated, and at college at Leipsio was ruined by drinking, etc.; was expelled for gambling and dishonesty. My parents were greatly grieved at my conduct, and I did not dare return home, but sailed for America. I went to St. Louis, and remained there for want of money to get away. I finally obtained a situation as bookkeeper in a dry goods house; heard from home and the death of my parents. This made me more sinful than ever before. I heard one of your sermons, which made a deep impression on me. I was taken sick, and the words of your text came to me and troubled me. I have tried to find peace of God, but nave not succeeded. My friends, by reasoning with me that there was no God, endeavored to comfort me. The thought of my sinfulness, and approaching the grave, my blasphemy, my bad example, caused me to mourn and weep. I think God is too just to forgive me my sins. My life is drawing to a close. I have not yet received God's favor. Will you not remember me in 'your prayer, and beseech God to save my soul from eternal destruction? Excuse me for writing this, but it will be the last I shall write this side of the grave."
Ah, my friends, his "rock was not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." I have two more letters I would like to read. I am not accustomed to read so many letters, but on this occasion I will read them to you. Some of you remember me speaking of a man who came in here, who was a fugitive from justice. The Governor of the State from which he came had offered a reward for him, and he came into this tabernacle. He received Christ, and returned to his State. This morning I received the following letter:
* Dear Sir And Brother: Owing to the law's slow delay, I am yet a prisoner of hope. By Thursday or Friday my case will be reached, and I'll be committed to the penitentiary; how long 1 do not know. This condition is voluntary, or of my own seeking, because I feel it due the cause of God, or the only evidence I can give of my repentance and desire to do better. My family and friends hope ultimately to obtain a pardon. I desire to thank you for the interest you have taken in me, and I ask your prayers, and those of God's people in Chicago, that I may have strength and grace to live under these calamities, that my poor heart-broken wife and children may be sustained, and, further, that God's blessing may rest on al) efforts being made for my future. After it is all over,and I am in a felon's cell, I'll write you. In your efforts to warn men to do better and lead a new life, bid them beware of ambition to accomplish a» undertaking at all hazards. Such is my condition. Had I left off speculation in an invention, I might now be happy. Step by step I yielded, until my forgeries reached over $30,000. My aim was not to defraud, but to succeed, and pay it all back. Oh, pray for me— for all who suffer with me. While in Chicago, I was under an assumed name. Here I am, in my native village, in my father's home, a prisoner, not daring to go out, or even to see my children (we have three, two boys and one girl). I hear their voices, and when they sleep I silently go in their little room and look at them in innocent slumber. My crimes are in another county, whither I go Thursday. May our heavenly father bless your labors. Humbly and repentant lam. * *"
To-morrow probably he will go into the penitentiary to suffer for his crime, but now his rock is our rock.
Last week a beautiful-looking young man came into the inquiryroom. He had been brought up in a happy home, with a good father and mother. He had gone astray. When he came into the inquiry room, he said he intended to become a Christian; but he could not, because he knew what it would make him do. He had robbed an express company, and that sin came between him and God. He had been heard, and received a verdict in his favor; but he knew he was guilty. He had gone into the witness box and committed perjury. He turned away, and left the building. Last Friday, however, he was at the noonday meeting; he was in my private room for a while, and I never felt so much pity for a man in my life. He wanted to become a Christian; but he thought of having to go back and tell his father that he was guilty, after his father had paid $2,000 to conduct his trial. After a great struggle, he got down on his knees and cried out: "O, God, help me; forgive me my sin;"' and at last bei got up and straightened himself, and said, "Well, sir, I will gc> back." A friend went down to the railway station and saw him off, and shortly after I got this dispatch from him:
"Mr. Moody—God has told me what to do. The future is as clear M crystal. I am happier than ever before."
He went on his way, reached his native village, and I received this letter from him this morning, and I have felt my soul filled with sorrow ever since it came. Let me say here, if there is anyone in this hall who has taken money from his employer, go and tell him of it at once. It is a great deal better for you to confess it than have it on your mind—than to try to cover it up. "He that covereth his sin shall not prosper." If you have taken any money that don't belong to you, make restitution, by confession at least. If in v one here is being tempted to commit a forgery or any crime, let this be a warning to them:
"Mr Belovbd Fribnd And Brother: lam firm in the cause. I have started, and feel that God is with me in it. And, oh, dear brother, do never cease praying for my dear father and praying mother; and I wish you would some day write them, and tell them that God will make this all for the best. If I live for ages, I will never cease praying for them; and I never can forgive myself for mv ungratefulness to my dear broken-hearted sisters and brothers, and dear, good parents. Oh, that link that held the once happy home it severed. 0 God! may it not be forever. Would that I had been a Christian for life; that I had taken my mother's hand when a child and walked from there, hand in hand, straight to heaven; and then the stains would not have been. But we know, O God, that they •can't follow me into heaven, for then I will be washed of all my sins, and the things that are on this earth will stay here.
"Oh, my dear Christian brothers, my heart almost failed me when I was approaching my dear, happy home, and the thought that I was the one out of eight brothers and sisters to break the chain of happiness that surrounded that once happy and beautiful home, which is now shaded with misery, and the beautiful sunshine that once lit that happy, that dearest of homes, is now overshadowed with darkness. Oh, I fear it will take my dear parents; it is more than they can bear. When I reached home, and they all greeted me with a kiss, and I told them I had started for heaven, and God sent me home to tell them, my mother shed tears of happiness, and when I was forced to bring the death stroke upon her the tears ceased to flow, and God only can describe the scene that took place. I called them all around me, and I thought I could not pray if I were to attempt it. But when I knelt with them in prayer, God just told me what to say, and I found it the will of God; and after I had prayed, I kissed them all, and asked their pardon for my ungratefulness, which I received from them all. Then I made my preparation to leave home, for how long God only knows, but 1 got grace to leave in a cheerful way, and it appeared for a short time; and if God lets mi live to return home I will join my mother's side, take her to church and bring my brothers and sisters and father to God. We will all go to heaven together. My beloved brother, I must see you some day, and just tell you what God has done for me; and I know he will never forsake me, when I am shut up in those prison walls receiving the punishment I justly deserve for my crime. When T can't communicate with any one else, I know I will not be shut off from God. Oh, glory!
"I came to Cleveland last night, and was going to get that money and return it to the general superintendent, but my attorney had made that arrangement already. I find there is an indictment at
Akron against me now for perjury, and I am going to take the morning train and go to Akron. Court is in progress now, and I am going to ask the court if there is an indictment against me; and if there is, I will hear it and then plead guilty. I will write you again soon, and give you all the particulars and the length of my sentence."
I want to urge this letter upon your consideration as a warning. Think of the punishment that young man has brought upon himself; think of the agony of that father and mother when he broke the news to them; when he told them of his guilt. His "rock was not as our rock." May God bless every young man here to-night, and may they be brought to the acceptation of salvation. May they turn to the God of their fathers, and of their mothers, so that they can say, "Your rook is our rock—we are servants of God."