Delivered at Cleveland, Ohio, October 5th, 1879, and considered by many to be one among Mr. Moody's best efforts.
I have selected to-day a subject rather than a text. We have come to this city to preach Christ, and I want to commence the services by just asking this congregation what Christ is to you. And now if we can get right home to ourselves to begin with, we will save a good deal of time. One of the most difficult things we have in preaching the gospel is to get people to hear for themselves. They are willing to hear for other people. I once read of a colored minister who said that a good many of his congregation would be lost because they were too generous; and the way he explained it was that they were so very generous with the sermon that they generally gave the sermon to their friends and neighbors, and did not take it home to themselves. And there are a great many white people, I think, who are just as generous as the colored people. They are always generous with the sermon. They are willing to give it to any one. It is always good for some one else. They are willing to lend their ears for some one else, but it is very hard for them to take it home to themselves.
Now, to-day, we want, if possible, to have every man, woman and child in this congregation ask himself this question, "What is Christ to me?" Not to ny neighbor, not to the world, but what is He to me? Who is He and what is He? I wish I could just lodge the subject right into your hearts to begin with. Now, don't think that will be good for some one behind you. Don't pass the text over your shoulder to some one back of you; he will pass it to some one behind him, as is often done; pass it along out doors and away it goes, they forget all about the text, the sermon and everything.
Now, let the question come to each one, "What is Jesus Christ to me?" I would like to tell you what He has been to me since I have known Him. And I think if any man here to-day wants to know Christ, he must first know Him as a Savior. "His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." It is the only name given under heaven —it cannot be said of any other man; it is not said of Moses; it is not said of Elijah; it is not said of the prophets or patriarchs or apostles that they shall save men—not any other name among men under heaven that can save the sinner, but the name of Jesus.
And if we are to know Him as our Redeemer, and if we are to know Him as our Deliverer, and if we are to know Him as our Shepherd, and our great High Priest, and our Prophet, and our King, we must first know Him as our Savior. We must meet Him on the cross first. We must see him at Calvary putting away sin, and when we have seen Him as our Savior, then we go on and He unfolds Himself to us, and we see Him in a great many other lights.
Copyright, 1900, by Robt. O. Law.
A MUS, LESSON, BIBLE LESTITULE, LE,AGO.
The students at the Moody Bible Institute, Chica', receive an education in music as well as insucuction
Now He is more than a Savior. I might see a man drowning. I might plunge into the stream and rescue that man. I might save the man from drowning, but then I would leave him there on the banks, and he would have to make the rest of the journey of life without me. But the Son of God is more than a Savior. After He has saved, He not only is with us, but He delivers us from the power of sin. He is a deliverer from sin. I believe there are a great many people who have gone to Calvary. They have seen Christ as their Savior, but they forget that He is a deliverer, and wants to deliver them from the power of sin. I don't believe that He comes down here and pardons us and then leaves us in prison. I don't believe He comes down here and snaps the fetters and then leaves us in the bondage. When the children of Israel were put behind the blood, down there in Goshen, God said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you.'' The blood was their savior, the blood was their salvation. But then He did something more when He took them out of Goshen, and when He took them out of Egypt, and away from their taskmakers, and out of the land of bondage. Then He was their deliverer.
When they came to the Red Sea, and the mountains were on each side of them, and Pharaoh with his hosts coming on in the rear, and the Red Sea before them—then it was that they wanted a deliverer. And I venture to say a good many of the children of God have known what it is to come to the Red Sea. You have known what it was to be where you could only look up and cry to God to deliver you. You could not turn to the right; you could not turn to the left; you could not turn back; and the Almighty God has come and opened the Red Sea, and you have passed over dry shod.
But when He delivered them from the hands of the king and from their taskmakers, and brought them out of the house of bondage, and brought them through the Red Sea, He became something else to them; He became then their way.
Now, you very often hear people say, "I don't know as I will become a Christian. I don't know really what church to belong to." They will give that as an excuse. I have heard more men give that as an excuse, than anything else. They say there are so many different denominations now, and there are so many different churches, that they don't know what to believe. I am very thankful that the Lord has not left us in darkness about that at all. It is no excuse at all. A man can't stand up at the door of heaven and say, "I didn't beconfe a Christian because I did not know the way."
Now, people say there are so many denominations. "There are the Methodists. John Wesley was a little nearer right than the rest of you. I will join the Methodists.'' Then there are our good Baptist brethren. They say their way is the best way. "You had better be immersed and come in through our door.''
And there is our Episcopal brother. He says, "If you want to come into the true apostolic church, you have got to join the Episcopal Church.''
And up steps a Roman Catholic, and says, "If yon want to come into the true apostolic church, you have got to become a Roman Catholic."
And then there are the Presbyterians, and they tell you that John Calvin is better than any of them, and you must go the Calvin way.
And so they say there are so many different denominations, so many different ways, that they don't know what church to join.
Now, my friends, listen to what the Son of God says: "I am the way." And if I follow Him I will be in the right church; He will not lead me into error; He will not lead me into darkness; He leads out of bondage. He leads into liberty, and into light, and He is the only man who ever trod on this earth that it is safe to follow in all things. If I follow any man but Jesus Christ, I will get into darkness and bondage. If I follow the isms of the day and nothing else, they will lead me out into black darkness. But if I follow the Son of God, He leads me into life and light immortal out of darkness.
As I walked through this hall yesterday morning, I stood and looked up there and I saw a text, and I said, "That is a good text for me." It says, "I am the way." There is life in those words. "I am the way," says the Son of God. Follow Him and you will be in the right church. And when a man is willing to bow his will to God's will and say, "Lord Jesus, I am willing to follow Thee, to receive Thee," then he will be in the right church; there will be no trouble then. He submits his will to God's will and submits his way to God's way, and takes God's way.
You know that God knows a great deal more about this earth than you and I do. God knew a great deal more about the pitfalls in the wilderness, and knew all about that perilous way when He led the children of Israel. He led them by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day; and all they had to do was to keep their eye on that cloud. When the cloud moved, they moved; when the cloud rested, they rested.
Now, all we have got to do is to keep our eye on the Master. Follow Him. He don't ask us to go where He has not gone Himself. He don't go around and drive you and me; but He says, "Follow thou Me." And if a man will become His disciple and follows in His path, he may put his feet right in His footprints and follow Him.
You know out on the frontiers you will find there the Indian trail; and I am told by some of those men who have been in that country there, that even over the Rocky Mountains it looks as though only one man had trod that path. The chief goes on before, and the rest follow and put their feet right in the foot-prints of the chief. So the Captain of our salvation has gone before in the path, and if I follow Him I will have the life and the peace that is promised to every child of God.
But then He is more than the way. You know He might be the way, and the way might be very dark, but He says, "I am the light of life, and if any man follow Me, he shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
Now, it is impossible for any man to be in darkness while following Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is the light of the world. What that the sun is in yonder heavens to the solar system, so Christ is to the spiritual world. There is a picture in some of your homes—if a man should give it to me, I don't know what I would do with it; I would have to put it up the wrong way, the face toward the wall. I don't know what the artist was thinking about when he got that picture up. It is a beautiful work of art, a beautiful steel engraving, and represents Jesus Christ standing at the door of a man's cottage with a lantern in His hand, knocking. What does Christ want with a lantern? You might as well hold a lantern to the sun. He says, "I am the light of the world." What we want is to keep our eye right upon Him. He will give us light.
There is no such thing as a man being in darkness that is following Him. If there is a man or woman in this audience to-day that is in darkness about spiritual things, it is because they have got away from Him; it is because they have not followed Him; it is because they have not got their eye upon Him. That is what brings darkness, and what He wants is to have each one of us just to keep our eye upon Him and follow Him.
But then I can imagine I hear some of you say, "If you had the trouble I have had, you would not talk in that way. If you were in my condition you would not talk in that way." I remember during our war, I was attending a meeting; it was the first year of the war. Our armies had been repulsed in the West; had been repulsed in the East, and it looked very dark. It looked as if this republic was going to pieces. Every one that got up to speak at that meeting had his harp upon the willow. It was a doleful meeting. But at last an old man got up; he had a beautiful white beard, and he gave us young men a lecture. Says he, "You don't talk like the children of light, don't talk like the sons of the King. We belong to the kingdom of God.'' Says he, "There is no darkness there. If it happens to be dark right around you, it is light somewhere else. If it is dark down here, look up; there is the light. Our home is up there." After rebuking us for our want of faith and our finding fault, he said he had just come from the East; that he had been induced by some friends to go to one of the Eastern mountain peaks to see the sunrise. He said he went to the half-way house and made arrangements with the landlord to take him up before daybreak, to get into the mountain to see the sunrise. The guide went before, holding the lantern. He said they had not been gone a great while before a storm came up, and it began to thunder, began to rain, and he said to the guide, "The storm will prevent my seeing the sunrise this morning, and you had better take me back." The guide smiled and said, "I think we will get above this storm." And sure enough we got above the clouds and the storm. On the mountain peak it was as calm as any summer evening in his life. As he looked down into the clouds, he saw the lightning playing up and down the valley, but he said it was all calm on the mountain peak, and turning to us, he said:
"Young men, if it is dark in the valley, look higher up; climb a little higher up and get on the mountain peak." And as the highest mountain peaks catch the first rays of the morning sun, so those who live nearest to heaven, nearest to Christ, get the first news from heaven. It is the privilege of every child of God to walk in an unclouded sun, in perpetual light. I believe it has done more to retard the cause of Christ and Christianity, than any one thing, our being so despondent, looking on the dark side, leaving the Author of life, light, and going the by-ways with our heads down like a bulrush. Let us remember, my friends, that Christ is the light of the world. If we follow Him we shall not be in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
It is said of some men away out on the frontier, that when they want to go off in the wilderness hunting, where there is no road or path, they take an ax or hatchet, and they cut off the bark of a tree, and they call that blazing the way. So the Son of God has been down in this dark world. He has "blazed the way," led captivity captive. He has traveled this wilderness and gone up on high. All we have to do is to follow Him. If we keep our eye right on Him, we will have light all the while.
I remember when I was a boy, I used to try to walk across a field after the snow had fallen, and try to make a straight path; and as long as I kept my eye on a point at the other side of the field, I could make a straight path, but if I looked over my shoulder to see if I was walking straight, I would always walk crooked—always. And where I find people turning around to see how others walk, they always walk crooked. But if you want to walk straight through this world, keep your eye on the Captain of your salvation, who has gone with you in the vale. Just keep your eye on Him, and you will have peace and light.
I remember when I was a little boy, I used to try to catch my shadow. I used to try to see it. I could not jump over my head. I ran and jumped, but my head always kept just so far ahead of me. I never could catch my shadow, but I remember I was running with my face toward the sun, and I looked over my shoulder and I found my shadow coming after me.
And I find since I became a Christian that if I keep my eye on the Son of Righteousness, peace and light and joy and everything follows in the train; but if I get my eye off Him, I always get in darkness and trouble. So if you want to keep in the light, keep your eye fixed on the Son of Righteousness and follow Him.
Now, we have Him as our Savior; we have Him as our Deliverer; we have Him as our Way; we have Him as our Truth, because He is the truth. If you want to know what is truth, Christ is the embodiment of truth; if you want to know the truth, know Him. There is no error in Him. He taught no false doctrine. He taught truth. And if you want to know the truth, know Him. He says, "I am the truth." He is the very embodiment of it. And if people say, "But I have not got life, I have not got spiritual power." Well, He is the life, and if you have not got spiritual power, it is because you have not got enough of Christ. If you want spiritual life more abundantly, let Christ come into your heart and reign without a rival. He is the life of the world, and when man goes away from Him, he goes away from the life and power.
But then He is something else. Perhaps some of you have come to a fork in the road sometimes, and you have not known just which way to turn. I was going to a little town last month to preach the gospel, and I came over a bridge, and I came to a road that ran right across mine, and which way to turn I did not know. There was no guide-post there, and I did not know which way to go. Well, I am talking, perhaps, to a good many in this audience that have come to such a fork in their spiritual life. You have come to a place where you have not known which way to turn. Well, right in here we have read that Christ is a teacher. God sent Him down to be a teacher, to be our counsellor, and to be our guide, and if we will have Him, He will guide us and teach us the right thing. He did not teach as the scribes did; He taught with the authority God had given Him. He did not teach opinions. Men come along now, and they teach their opinions. I would rather have "Thus saith the Lord" than all their opinions. It is not what man says, and when He teaches us, my friends, He will teach us the right way. Therefore, we want to take Him as our teacher—our guide. I have never known a man, I don't care how skeptical he has been, if he is willing to let the Lord teach him the way, but what the Lord has taught him. If a skeptic has come in here to-day, just out of curiosity, I would like to get his ear for about five minutes; I would like to say to him that the God that has made you can teach you if you will let Him. Infidels are so conceited that they think they are wiser than the Almighty God; they are not willing to let the God who created them teach them. They forget that when man fell in Eden his reason fell with him. They forget that the God of heaven and earth is greater than their reason.
I was in a little town in Illinois a number of years ago, when I first commenced to work for the Lord. I could not preach, but got up a liitle meeting and talk. There was a lady came to me just as the meeting was breaking up, and says, "Mr. Moody, I wish you would come and see my husband and talk with him about his soul." Well, I consented. I saw she was greatly burdened. I went to take down his name. She gave me the name, and I said to her, "You will excuse me; I can not go to see that man." She says, "Why not?" "Why, he is a Book infidel; a graduate of one of the Eastern colleges, and I am a mere strippling—a boy; I can't go to meet him." "Well," she says, "I would like to have you go, Mr. Moody, and talk to him about his soul." "Well," I says, "you had better have some one older; I can't meet him in argument." She says, "It is not argument he wants; he has had enough of that; he wants some one to invite him to Christ.'' She urged so hard, I went down to see him. I went into his office; I shook hands, introduced myself, and after I did so, I told him my errand. He laughed at me, thought I had come on a foolish errand. He did not believe in Christ or Christianity; he didn't believe in the Bible. I talked to him a little while, and brought out some of his infidel views. I said, "Judge, I will be honest with you; I can't argue with you; I cannot meet you in argument," and the man seemed to grow two inches right off. It is astonishing how these men do grow when they find somebody they can handle in argument. I said, "I can't meet you; I will be frank with you." He had been one of our leading men in the country, and I knew about his intellect. He had a very brilliant mind. He had been one of our supreme judges; he had been mayor of the city he lived in, had been a member of the State senate a good many years, and he was a public man; and I said it was impossible for me to bring forward the arguments that I would like to, and, therefore, he would have to excuse me, and I says, "Judge, there is just one favor I would like to ask of you." Says he, "What is that?" "When you are converted, let me know." "Well," says he, "I will let you know when I am converted. I will grant that request"—with a good deal of sarcasm. I went out of his office, heard the clerks snickering when I went out. I suppose they thought I had made a fool of myself.
But a year and a half after that I was back in that city. I was the guest of a friend, and while I was in the sitting-room, a servant came and said there was a man in the parlor that wanted to see me. I stepped into the parlor, and there was the old judge. He says, "When I saw you last I told you when I was converted I would let you know. I have come to-day to tell you I have been converted." I had heard it from the lips of others, but I wanted to get it from his own lips. Says I, "Judge, I wish you would tell the whole story; tell all about it." He took his seat, and he says, "Well, I will tell you; my wife and children had gone out to meeting one night, and there was no one in the house but the servant and myself, and I got to thinking." I tell you it is a good thing to get men to thinking; there is always hope of reaching men if you get them to thinking, especially in America. They are after money, and they can't stop to think. They are on the dead run; if you can stop them on a corner and get their attention five minutes, you are doing well in this country. And he got to thinking and reasoning with himself—and I tell you it is a good thing to get a man to reasoning with himself. That is the best kind of reasoning—and he said to himself, "Well, now, supposing that my wife and my children are right and I am wrong; supposing they are all on the way to heaven, as they profess to think, and I am on my way to hell. Why," said he, "I just dismissed that thought at once." He said he did not believe there was a hell.
The next thought came. "Well, judge, do you believe that there is a God that created you?" "Yes," he said, "I believe that. This world never happened by chance. Everything in this world teaches me that there is an overruling power, and there is a creator. This world was not thrown together. There must have been a creator." Then the next thought came. "If there is a creator, and one that created you, the one that created you could teach you." "Well," he said, "that is so. The God that created me could teach me," and he smiled and said, "The fact was, Mr. Moody, I thought nobody could teach me. I sat there by the fire. I was too proud to get down on my knees. I said, 'O, God, teach me.'" It was an honest prayer. And if there is an honest infidel here to-day who will make that prayer out of the depths of his heart, God will teach him more in five minutes than all the infidels can teach him in twenty years. He will teach you true wisdom. It is so reasonable that the God that created the heavens and the earth can teach mortal men. He said, God began to teach him, and he began to see himself in a different light. He had been, he said, a very righteous man in his own estimation. He thought he was one of the best men that ever lived. But he said he began to see himself a sinner. That was something new; and he said there was a burden right here. He said he had never felt any burden there before, and he said things began to look very dark. Things had always looked very bright before. And he said he thought his wife might come home and see that something ailed him—that he was troubled. So he said he went to bed, and he pretended to sleep; but he did not sleep a wink that night; but before morning he began to pray, "O God, save me; take away this burden of guilt; take away this load of sins!"
But he said he didn't believe in Jesus Christ; he didn't want any day's-man between him and God; didn't want any mediator; he was going right straight to the Father; he was going to settle the question without Christ.
The load grew heavier, and it grew darker and darker. He said when the morning came he got up and dressed, and said to his wife he was not feeling very well; he would not stay at home to breakfast. He wanted to get out of the way, and went down to his office. The old judge kept on crying, "O, God, take away this burden; O, God, forgive me;" he had waked up to the fact that he wanted forgiveness like other people. He went into his office. Men came to see him on business, but he could not do any business. He tried to tell his clerks what to do, but could not tell them. He told them they might take a holiday, and he locked the door of his office and got down on his knees and cried, "For Jesus Christ's sake, take away this load of sins." He said there was a bundle rolled off when he arose from his knees, and said his heart was as light as air. Says he, "I wonder if this is not what my wife has been praying for these years? if it is not what the Christians call conversion? I will go and ask the minister where my wife attends church if I ain't converted." And he said on the way to the minister's house a text of Scripture came to him that his mother had taught him forty years before. O, mothers, teach your children the word of God; it may spring up after many years; it may bear fruit unto life eternal after you are dead and gone. That text of Scripture that mother taught that little boy in childhood was: "When you pray, believe you will receive what you ask for, and you have it.'' And he said, "I have asked God to forgive my sins, and I am going up to ask the minister if my prayer is answered. I believe that is dishonoring God. I am a Christian." And he says, "I started home." His wife saw him coming. She knew how he went off, and thought he was coming home sick; she met him at the door, and said to him, "Are you sick?" "No, I have been converted." He says, "Mr. Moody, twenty-one long years that dear wife had prayed for me, and she could not believe her ears when I told her I was converted. She said, 'Come into the drawing-room.' I knelt down and made my first prayer with my wife." He erected a family altar. That old infidel judge said, "Mr. Moody, I have had more enjoyment in the last three months than in all the rest of my life put together." If there is an honest skeptic here to-day, let God Almighty be your teacher; ask Him to teach you; ask Him to give you light beyond the grave; He has got the power. If you want true wisdom, go to Him. He will open your darkened understanding and cause you to understand wonderful things. When I have been willing to let Him teach me, I have .had perfect peace. But whenever I have gone against His counsel and against His teachings, it brought me to captivity; it has brought me into bondage and into darkness. When Nicodemus was willing to let that rabbi teach him, he taught him true wisdom, taught him the doctrine of the new birth, taught him that he must be born again.
I might go on and speak of him as a shepherd. I might have known him now upwards of twenty years as a shepherd. He has carried my burdens for me. Oh, it is so sweet to know that you have one to whom you can go and tell all your sorrows; you can roll your burdens at his feet. Blessed privilege we have, dear friends, to go to Him with all our burdens and our sorrows. Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Think of Christ as a burden-bearer; what would this world do without Him. How dark the grave would be without Him.
I remember making a remark a few years ago that there was no burden we had but that Christ would carry it for us if we would let Him. At the close of the meeting a lady pushed her way through the crowd and came up to me and said: "Mr. Moody, if you had the burden I have got you could not have said what you did to-day." "Perhaps not," I said. "But have you a burden too great for Christ to carry?" "Well," she said, "I would not say it was too great for Christ to carry." But she said, "I can't leave it with Him." "Well, it is your fault, because He tells you to do it. He commands you to cast your care upon Him, for He careth for you, for he numbers the very hairs of your head, and a sparrow can't fall to the ground without His knowledge. Do you think He will not help you in the time of trouble, that He will not bear your burden and carry your sorrow if you will let Him?" "Well," she said, "just hear me, sir. I am the mother of one child, and that is a wanderer. For years I have not heard from him. Look at these hairs, they are untimely gray. I will soon go down to my grave. It is crushing me down to the grave." "Well," I said, "my good woman, don't you know that Jesus Christ knows where your child is, and don't you know that you can reach him this very hour by the way of the throne—that the spirit of God will search him out, and that boy may be convicted and converted and brought home in answer to prayer? Go tell it out to Christ. Go pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him all your sorrows." I told that lady of a case in Indiana.
A boy went from the southern part of Indiana to Chicago. He was a moral young man—and a great many parents are satisfied if their children are moral; but I tell you the temptations of city life are too much for any man who has not got Christ as a keeper. He will be swept away in the time of temptation. This young man had not been in Chicago a great many months when a neighbor came up to Chicago on business, and found that young man reeling through the streets drunk. When he went back he thought he ought to tell that father, but he knew it would about break his heart, and then he felt as though he could not do it. He kept it locked up in his heart for some time, but one day he thought if that boy was his, and was becoming a drunkard, he would want to know it. And so he took that father off to one side, one dav. and told Copyright, 1000. by Robt. O. Law,
PASTOR'S STUDY, CH,AGO AVENUE CHURCH.
Mr. Moody usually used this desk when preparing his sermons in Chicago. It was here some of his best efforts were
him what he had seen in Chicago. It was a terrible blow to the father. He went home that night, and after the children had been put to bed, and the wife was sitting by the table at work, and he said to her, "Wife, I have got some very bad news from Chicago to-day." The wife dropped her work and said, "Pray, tell me what it can be?" ''Our boy was seen on the streets of Chicago by Neighbor So-and-So drunk." They did not sleep that night. They spent that night taking that burden away to Jesus Christ. They took that wandering boy in the arms of their faith to the Son of God, pleading that their boy might be saved, and that he might not go down to a drunkard's grave. About daybreak the mother said, "I don't know where, I don't know when, I don't know how my boy is to be saved; but God has given me faith to believe that my boy is to become a Christian." Her faith rested there. She carried that burden to the Son of God, and at the end of the week that boy came home, and the first thing he said as he crossed the threshold was, "Mother, I have come home to ask you to pray for me," and it was found that the very night the father and the mother were praying God to touch the heart of their boy, he had become converted.
O, mothers, pray for your boys; fathers, cry mightily to God for the children He has given you.
I wish I had time to take Him up as our shepherd, I would like to take Hira up as our Redeemer, as our sanctification, as our justification, as our all in all. I could not tell you in one short hour what Christ is. It will take all eternity to tell you what Christ is. I want to stand here to-day to tell you that He is the best friend the sinner has got. He is just the friend every man needs here. If you take Him to be your Savior, your way, your truth, your life, your shepherd, your burden-bearer, He will be true to you, and He will carry all your sins, and all your burdens, and all your sorrows.