It is said that on one occasion when Caesar gave a very valuable present, the receiver replied that it was too costly a gift. The Emperor answered that it was not too great for Caesar to give. Our God is a great King; and He delights to use us: so let us delight to ask Him for great grace, that we may go out and work for him.
I find that many Christians are in trouble about the future; they think they will not have grace enough to die by. It is much more important that we should have grace enough to live by. It seems to me that death is of very little importance in the meantime. When the dying hour comes there will be dying grace; but you do not require dying grace to live by. If I am going to live perhaps for fifteen or twenty years, what do I want with dying grace? I am far more anxious about having grace enough for my present work.
I have sometimes been asked if I had grace enough to enable me to go to the stake and die as a martyr. No; what do I want with martyr's grace? I do not like suffering; but if God should call on me to die a martyr's death, He would give me martyr's grace. If I have to pass through some great affliction, I know God will give me grace when the time comes; but I do not want it till it comes.
There is a story of a martyr in the second century. He was brought before the king, and told that if he did not recant they would banish him. Said he, "O king, you cannot banish me from Christ; for He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee!" The apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos; but it was the best thing that could have happened: for if John had not been sent there, probably we should never have had that grand Book of Revelation. John could not be separated from his Master.
So it was with this brave martyr, of whom I was speaking. The king said to him, "Then I will take away your property from you." "You cannot do that: for my treasure is laid up on high, where you cannot get at it?" "Then I will kill you." "You can not do that; for I have been dead these forty years: my life is hid with Christ in God." The king said, "What are you going to do with such a fanatic as that?"
Let us remember that if we have not grace enough for service, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We are not straitened in God: He has abundance of grace to qualify us to work for Him.
MORE TO FOLLOW.
I heard a story about two members of a Church: one was a wealthy man, and the other was one of those who cannot take care of their finances—he was always in debt. The rich brother had compassion on his poor brother. He wanted to give him some money; but he would not give it to the man all at once: he knew he would not use it properly. So he sent the amount to the minister, and asked him to supply the needs of this poor brother. The minister used to send him a five-dollar bill, and put on the envelope "More to follow." I can imagine how welcome the gift would be; but the best of all was the promise—"More to follow." So it is with God: there is always "more to follow." It is such a pity that we are not ready to be used by God when He wants to use us.
Dear friends, let me put this question to you: Are you full of grace? You shake your head. Well, it is our privilege to be full. What is the best way to get full of grace? It is to be emptied of self. How can we be emptied? Suppose you wish to get the air out of this tumbler; how can you do it? I will tell you: by pouring water into the tumbler till it is full to overflowing. That is the way the Lord empties us of self. He fills us with His grace. "I will pour water on him that is thirsty." Are you hungering to get rid of your sinful selves? Then let the Spirit of God come in and fill you. God is able to do it.
See what He did for John Bunyan—how He made one of the mightiest instruments for good the world ever saw, out of that swearing Bedford tinker. If we had a telescope which would enable us to look into heaven as Stephen did, I can imagine we should see the thief, who believed in Jesus while on the cross, very near the throne. Ask him how he got there; and he would tell you it was through the grace of God. See how the grace of God could save a Mary Magdalene possessed of seven devils! Ask her what it was that melted her heart: and she would tell you that it was the grace of God. Look again at that woman whom Christ met at the well at Sychar. The Saviour offered her a cup of the living water: she drank, and now she walks the chrystal pavement of heaven. See how the grace of God could change Zaccheus, the hated publican of Jericho! Now he is in yonder world of light; he was brought there by the sovereign grace of God.
You will have noticed that many of those who were about the most unlikely, have, by the power of God's grace, become very eminent in His service. Look at the twelve apostles of Christ; they were all unlettered men. This ought to encourage all whose education is limited to give themselves to God's work. When our earthly work is ended, then, like our Master, we shall enter into glory. It has been well remarked: "Grace is glory militant; and glory is grace triumphant. Grace is glory begun; glory is grace made perfect. Grace is the first degree of glory: glory is the highest degree of grace."
"Oh, to grace how great a debtor Daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it— Prone to leave the God I love— Here's my heart, oh take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above."
A CHIME OF GOSPEL BELLS.
IN Baltimore, a few years ago, we held a number of meetings for men. I am very fond of this hymn; and we used to let the choir sing the chorus over and over again, till all could sing it.
"Oh, word of words the sweetest, Oh, word in which there lie All promise, all fulfillment, And end of mystery! Lamenting or rejoicing, With doubt or terror nigh, I hear the 'Come!' of Jesus, And to His cross I fly.
Come! oh, come to me! Come! oh, come to me! Weary heavy-laden, Come! oh, come to Me!
O soul! why shouldst thou wander From such a loving Friend? Cling closer, closer to Him, Stay with Him to the end Alas! I am so helpless, So very full of sin; For I am ever wandering, And coming back again.
Oh, each time draw me nearer, That soon the 'Come!' may be Nought but a gentle whisper To one close, close to Thee; Then, over sea and mountain, Far from, or near, my home, I'll take Thy hand and follow, At that sweet whisper, 'Come!'"
There was a man in one of the meetings who had been brought there against his will; he had come through some personal influence brought to bear upon him. When he got to the meeting, they were singing the chorus of this hymn—
"Come! come! come!"
He said afterwards he thought he never saw so many fools together in his life before. The idea of a number of men standing there singing, "Come! come! come!" When he started home he could not get this little word out of his head; it kept coming back all the time. He went into a saloon, and ordered some whiskey, thinking to drown it. But he could not; it still kept coming back. He went into another saloon, and drank some more whiskey; but the words kept ringing in his ears: "Come! come! come!" He said to himself, "What a fool I am for allowing myself to be troubled in this way!" He went to a third saloon; had another glass, and finally got home.
He went off to bed, but could not sleep; it seemed as if the very pillow kept whispering the word, "Come! Come!" He began to be angry with himself: "What a fool I was for ever going to that meeting at all!" When he got up he took the little hymn book, found the hymn, and read it over. "What nonsense!" he said to himself; "the idea of a rational man being disturbed by that hymn." He set fire to the hymn book; but he could not burn up the little word "Come!" "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My word shall not pass away."
He declared he would never go to another of the meetings; but the next night he came again. When he got there, strange to say, they were singing the same hymn. "There is that miserable old hymn again," he said; "what a fool I am for coming!" I tell you, when the Spirit of God lays hold of a man, he does a good many things he did not intend to do. To make a long story short, that man rose in a meeting of young converts, and told the story that I have now told you. Pulling out the little hymn book for he had bought another copy and opening it at this hymn, he said: "I think this hymn is the sweetest and the best in the English language. God blessed it to the saving of my soul." And yet this was the very hymn he had despised.
I want to take up this little word "Come!" Sometimes people forget the text of a sermon; but this text will be short enough for any one to remember. Let me ring out a chime of Gospel bells, every one of which says, "Come!" The first bell I will ring is,
COME AND HEAR!
"Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." "Incline your ear," God says. You have sometimes seen a man who is a little deaf, and cannot catch every word, put his hand up to his ear and lean forward. I have seen a man sometimes put up both hands to his ears, as if he were determined to catch every word. I like to see that. This is the figure that the prophet uses when he says on God's behalf, "Incline your ear."
Man lost spiritual life and communion with his Maker by listening to the voice of the tempter, instead of the voice of God. We get life again by listening to the voice of God. The Word of God gives life. "The words that I speak unto you," says Christ, "they are spirit, and they are life." So, what people need is—to incline their ear, and hear. It is a great thing when the Gospel preacher gets the ear of a congregation—I mean the inner ear. For a man has not only two ears in his head; he has also what we may call the outer ear, and the inner ear—the ear of the soul. You may speak to the outward ear, and not reach the ear of the soul at all. Many in these days are like the "foolish people" to whom the prophet Jeremiah spoke: "Which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not." There are many in every congregation whose attention I am not able to secure for five minutes together. Almost any little thing will divert their minds. We need to give heed to the words of the Lord: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
You remember when Peter was sent to Cornelius, he was to speak to him words whereby he and his house were to be saved. If you are to be saved, it must be by listening to the Word of God. Here is the promise: "Hear; and your soul shall live."
There was an architect in Chicago who was converted. In giving his testimony, he said he had been in the habit of attending church for a great many years, but he could not say that he had really heard a sermon all the time. He said that when the minister gave out the text and began to preach, he used to settle himself in the corner of the pew and work out the plans of some building. He could not tell how many plans he had prepared while the minister was preaching. He was the architect for one or two companies; and he used to do all his planning in that way. You see, Satan came in between him and the preacher, and caught away the good seed of the Word. I have often preached to people, and have been perfectly amazed to find they could hardly tell one solitary word of the sermon; even the text had completely gone from them.
A colored man once said that a good many of his congregation would be lost because they were too generous. He saw that the people looked rather surprised; so he said, "Perhaps you think I have made a mistake; and that I ought to have said you will be lost because you are not generous enough. That is not so; I meant just what I said. You give away too many sermons. You hear them, as it were, for other people." So there are a good many now hearing me who are listening for those behind them: they say the message is a very good one for neighbor So-and-so; and they pass it over their shoulders, till it gets clear out at the door. You laugh; but you know it is so. Listen! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
The next note in this peal of bells I wish to ring out is—
COME AND SEE!
Scripture not only uses the ear, but the eye, in illustrating the way of salvation. When a man both hears and sees a thing, he remembers it twice as long as if he only heard it. You remember what Philip said to Nathanael: "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, we have found Him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see." Philip was a wise winner of souls. He brought his friend to Christ. Nathanael had one interview with the son of God; he became His disciple and never left Him. If Philip had gone on discussing the matter with him, and had tried to prove that some good thing could come out of Nazareth, he might have never been a disciple at all.
After all, we do not gain much by discussion. Let objectors or inquirers only get one personal interview with the Son of God; that will scatter all their darkness, all their prejudice, and all their unbelief. The moment that Philip succeeded in getting Nathanael to Christ, the work was done.
So we say to you, "Come and see!" I thought, when I was converted, that my friends had been very unfaithful to me, because they had not told me about Christ. I thought I would have all my friends converted inside of twenty-four hours; and I was quite disappointed when they did not at once see Christ to be the Lily of the Valley, and the Rose of Sharon, and the Bright and Morning Star. I wondered why it was. No doubt many of those who hear me now have had that experience; you thought when you saw Christ in all His beauty that you could soon make your friends see Him in the same light.
But we need to learn that God alone can do it. If there is a skeptic now hearing me, I want to say that one personal interview with the Son of God will scatter all your infidelity and atheism. One night, in the inquiry-room, I met the wife of an atheist, who had been brought to God at one of our meetings. She was converted at the same time. She had brought two of her daughters to the meeting, desiring that they too should know Christ. I said to the mother: "How is it with your skepticism now?" "Oh," said she, "it is all gone." When Christ gets into the heart, atheism must go out; if a man will only come and take one trustful, loving look at the Saviour, there will be no desire to leave Him again.
A gentleman was walking down the street in Baltimore, a few years ago. It was near Christmas-time, and many of the shop-windows were filled with Christmas presents, toys, etc. As this gentleman passed along, he saw three little girls standing before a shop window, and he heard two of them trying to describe to the third the things that were in the window. It aroused his attention, and he wondered what it could mean. He went back, and found that the middle one was blind—she had never been able to see—and her two sisters were endeavoring to tell her how the things looked. The gentleman stood beside them for some time, and listened; he said it was most interesting to hear them trying to describe the different articles to the blind child—they found it a difficult task. As he told me, I said to myself, "That is just my position in trying to tell other men about Christ: I may talk about Him; and yet they see no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. But if they will only come to Him, He will open their eyes and reveal Himself to them in all His loveliness and grace."
Looking at it from the outside, there was not much beauty in the Tabernacle that Moses erected in the desert. It was covered on the outside with badgers' skins—and there was not much beauty in them. If you were to pass into the inside, then you would find out the beauty of the coverings. So the sinner sees no beauty in Christ till he comes to Him—then he can see it.
You have looked at the windows of a grand church erected at the cost of many thousands of dollars. From the outside they did not seem very beautiful; but get inside, when the rays of the sun are striking upon the stained glass, and you begin to understand what others have told you of their magnificence. So it is when you have come into personal contact with Christ; you find Him to be the very Friend you need. Therefore we extend to all the sweet Gospel invitation "Come and see!"
Let me now ring out the third bell—
COME AND DRINK!
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters: and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." If you will come and drink at this fountain, Christ says you shall never thirst again. He has promised to quench your thirst. "If any man thirst," He says, "let him come unto Me and drink."
I thank God for those words: "If any man." That does not mean merely a select few respectable people; it takes in all—every drunkard, every harlot, every thief, every self-righteous Pharisee.
"If any man thirst." How this world is thirsting for something that will satisfy! What fills the places of amusement—the dance houses, the music halls, and the theaters, night after night? Men and women are thirsting for something they have not got. The moment a man turns his back upon God, he begins to thirst; and that thirst will never be quenched until he returns to "the fountain of living waters." As the prophet Jeremiah tells us, we have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewn out for ourselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. There is a thirst this world can never quench: the more we drink of its pleasures, the thirstier we become. We cry out for more and more; and we are all the while being dragged down lower and lower. But there is "a fountain opened to the House of David . . . for sin and for uncleanness." Let us press up to it, and drink and live.
I remember after one of the great battles in the War we were coming down the Tennessee River with a company of wounded men. It was in the spring of the year, and the water was not clear. You know that the cry of a wounded man is: "Water! water!" especially in a hot country. I remember taking a glass of the muddy water to one of these men. Although he was very thirsty, he only drank a little of it. He handed the glass back to me, and as he did so, he said, "Oh for a draught of water from my father's well!" Are there any thirsty ones here? Come and drink of the fountain opened in Christ; your longing will be satisfied, and you will never thirst again. It will be in you "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Water rises to its own level; and as this water has come down from the throne of God, it will carry us back to the presence of God. Come, O ye thirsty ones, stoop down and drink, and live! You are all invited: come along! When Moses took his rod and struck the flinty rock in the wilderness, out of it there came a pure crystal stream of water, which flowed or through that dry and barren land. All that the poor thirsty Israelites had to do was to stoop and drink. It was free to all. So the grace of God is free to all. God invites you to come and take it: will you come?
I remember being in a large city where I noticed that the people resorted to a favorite well in one of the parks. I said to a man one day, "Does the well never run dry?" The man was drinking of the water out of the well; and as he stopped drinking, he smacked his lips, and said: "They have never been able to pump it dry yet. They tried it a few years ago. They put the fire engines to work, and tried all they could to pump the well dry; but they found there was a river flowing right under the city." Thank God, the well of salvation never gets dry, though the saints of God have been drinking from it for six thousand years! Abel, Enoch Noah, Abraham. Moses, Elijah, the Apostles all have drunk from it; and they are now up yonder, where they are drinking of the stream that flows from the throne of God. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Let me ring another Gospel bell:
COME AND DINE!
My brother, my sister—are you hungry? Then come along and dine. Some people are afraid of being converted, because they think they will not hold out. Mr. Rainsford once said, "If the Lord gives us eternal life, He will surely give us all that is needful to preserve it." He not only gives life; but He gives us our daily bread to feed that life.
After the Saviour had risen from the dead, He had not appeared to His disciples for some days. Peter said to the others, "I go a fishing." Seven of them started off in their boats. They toiled all night but caught nothing. In the grey of the morning, they saw a Stranger on the shore. He addressed them and said "Children, have ye any meat?" They told Him they had not. "Cast the net on the right side of the ship; and ye shall find." I can imagine they said to each other, "What good is that going to do? We have been fishing here all night, and have got nothing? The idea that there should be fish on one side of the boat, and not on the other!" However, they obeyed the command; and they had such a haul that there was no room for the fish in the boat. Then one of them said, "It is the Lord." When he heard that, Peter sprang right into the sea, and swam to the shore; and the others pulled the boat to land.
When they reached the shore the Master said, "Come and dine." What a meal that must have been. There was the Lord of Glory feeding His disciples. If He could set a table for His people in the wilderness, and feed three millions of Israelites for forty years, can He not give us our daily bread? I do not mean only the bread that perisheth; but the Bread that cometh from above. If He feeds the birds of the air, surely He will feed His children made in His own image! If He numbers the very hairs of our head, He will take care to supply all our temporal wants.
Not only so: He will give us the Bread of Life for the nourishment of the soul—the life that the world knows nothing of—if we will but go to Him. "I am the Bread of Life," He says. As we feed on Him by faith, we get strength. Let our thoughts rest upon Him; and He will lift us above ourselves, and above the world, and satisfy our utmost desires.
Another Gospel bell is—
COME AND REST!
Dear friend, do you not need rest? There is a restlessness all over the world to-day. Men are sighing and struggling after rest. The cry of the world is, "Where can rest be found?" The rich man that we read of in the parable pulled down his barns, that he might build greater; and said to his soul, "Take thine ease." He thought he was going to find rest in wealth; but he was disappointed. That night his soul was summoned away. No; there is no rest in wealth or pleasure.
Others think they will succeed in drowning their sorrows and troubles by indulging in drink; but that will only increase them. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked:" they are like the troubled sea that cannot rest. We sometimes talk of the ocean as being as calm as a sea of glass; but it is never at rest: and here we have a faithful picture of the wicked man and woman.
O weary soul, hear the sweet voice that comes ringing down through the ages: "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy-laden; and I will give you rest." Thank God, He does not sell it! If He did, some of us are so poor we could not buy; but we can all take a gift. That little boy there knows how to take a gift; that old man, living on borrowed time, and almost on the verge of another world, knows how to take a gift. The gift Jesus wants to bestow is rest: Rest for time, and rest for eternity. Every weary soul may have this rest if he will. But you must come to Christ and get it. Nowhere else can this rest be found. If you go to the world with your cares, your troubles, and your anxieties, all it can do is to put a few more on the top of them. The world is a poor place to go to for sympathy. As some one has said: "If you roll your burdens anywhere but on Christ, they will roll back on you with more weight than ever. Cast them on Christ; and He will carry them for you."
Here is another bell—
COME AND REASON!
Perhaps there are some infidels reading this. They are fond of saying to us, "Come and reason." But I want to draw their attention to the verses that go before this one in the first chapter of Isaiah. The trouble with a good many skeptics is this—they take a sentence here and there from Scripture without reference to the context. Let us see what this passage says: "When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."
Then we have the gracious invitation, "Come now, and let us reason together." Do you think God is going to reason with a man whose hands are dripping with blood, and before he asks forgiveness and mercy? Will God reason with a man living in rebellion against Him? Nay. But if we turn from and confess our sin, then He will reason with us, and pardon us. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
But if a man persists in his rebellion against God, there is no invitation to him to come and reason, and receive pardon. If I have been justly condemned to death by the law of the State, and am waiting the execution of my sentence, I am not in a position to reason with the governor. If he chooses to send me a free pardon, the first thing I have to do is to accept it; then he may allow me to come into his presence. But we must bear in mind that God is above our reason. When man fell, his reason became perverted; and he was not in a position to reason with God. "If any man willeth to do His will he shall know of the teaching." We must be willing to forsake our sins. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon," The moment a man is willing to part with his sins, God meets him in grace and offers him peace and pardon.
The next bell I would like to sound out is—
COME TO THE MARRIAGE!
"Behold, I have prepared my dinner: . . . all things are ready; come unto the marriage." Who would not feel highly honored if they were invited to some fine residence, to the wedding of one of the members of the President's family? I can imagine you would feel rather proud of having received such an invitation. You would want all your friends to know it.
Probably you may never get such an invitation. But I have a far grander invitation for you here than that. I cannot speak for others; but if I know my own heart, I would rather be torn to pieces to-night, limb from limb, and die in the glorious hope of being at the marriage-supper of the Lamb, than live in this world a thousand years and miss that appointment at the last. "Blessed is he that is called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb." It will be a fearful thing for any of us to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob taking their place in the kingdom of God, and be ourselves thrust out.
This is no myth, my friends; it is a real invitation. Every man and woman is invited. All things are now ready. The feast has been prepared at great expense. You may spurn the grace, and the gift of God; but you must bear in mind that it cost God a good deal before He could provide this feast. When He gave Christ He gave the richest jewel that heaven had. And now He sends out the invitation. He commands His servants to go into the highways, and hedges, and lanes, and compel them to come in, that His house may be full. Who will come? You say you are not fit to come? If the President invited you to the White House, and the invitation said you were to come just as you were; and if the sentinel at the gate stopped you because you did not wear a dress suit, what would you do? Would you not show him the document signed in the name of the President? Then he would stand aside and let you pass. So, my friend, if you can prove to me that you are a sinner, I can prove to you that you are invited to this Gospel feast—to this marriage supper of the Lamb.
Let me ring out another bell in this Gospel chime—
"COME, INHERIT THE KINGDOM!"
"Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." A kingdom!—think of that! Think of a poor man in this world, struggling with poverty and want, invited to become possessor of a kingdom! It is no fiction; it is described as "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." We are called to be kings and priests: that is a high calling. Surely no one who hears me intends to miss that kingdom! Christ said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." Those who inherit it shall go no more out.
Yet another bell—
"COME UP HITHER!"
In the Revelation we find that the two witnesses were called up to heaven when their testimony was ended. So if we are faithful in the service of our King, we shall by and by hear a voice saying, "Come up hither!" There is going to be a separation one day. The man who has been persecuting his godly wife will some day find her missing. That drunkard who beats his children because they have been taught the way into the Kingdom of God, will miss them some day. They will be taken up out of the darkness, and away from the persecution, up into the presence of God. When the voice of God saying, "Come up hither" is heard, calling His children home, there will be a grand jubilee. That glorious day will soon dawn. "Lift up your heads, for the time of your redemption draweth nigh."
One more bell to complete the chime—
"WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM COME!"
It is the last time that the word "Come" appears in the Bible; and it occurs there over one thousand nine hundred times. We find it away back in Genesis, "Come, thou and all thy house, into the ark"; and it goes right along through Scripture. Prophets, apostles, and preachers, have been ringing it out all through the ages. Now the record is about to be closed, and Christ tells John to put in one more invitation. After the Lord had been in glory for about sixty years, perhaps He saw some poor man stumbling over one of the apostles' letters about the doctrine of election. So He came to John in Patmos, and John was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. Christ said to His disciple, "Write these things to the Churches." I can imagine John's pen moved very easily and very swiftly that day; for the hand of his Lord was upon him. The Master said to him, "Before you close up the Book, put in one more invitation; and make it so broad that the whole world shall know they are included, and not a single one may feel that he is left out." John began to write "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come," that is, the Spirit and the Church; "and let him that heareth say, Come!" If you have heard and received the message yourself, pass it on to those near you; your religion is not a very real thing if it does not affect some one else. We have to get rid of this idea that the world is going to be reached by ministers alone. All those who have drunk of the cup of salvation must pass it around.
"Let him that is athirst, come." But there are some so deaf that they cannot hear; others are not thirsty enough or they think they are not. I have seen men in our after-meetings with two streams of tears running down their cheeks; and yet they said the trouble with them was that they were not anxious enough. They were anxious to be anxious. Probably Christ saw that men would say they did not feel thirsty; so He told the apostle to make the invitation still broader. So the last invitation let down into a thirsty world is this: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Thank God for those words "Whosoever will!" Who will come and take it? That is the question. You have the power to accept or to reject the invitation. A man in one meeting once was honest enough to say "I won't." If I had it in my power I would bring this whole audience to a decision now, either for or against. I hope many now reading these words will say, "I will!" If God says we can, all the devils in hell cannot stop us. All the infidels in the world cannot prevent us. That little boy, that little girl, can say, "I will!" If it were necessary, God would send down a legion of angels to help you; but He has given you the power, and you can accept Christ this very minute if you are really in earnest.
Let me say that it is the easiest thing in the world to become a Christian, and it is also the most difficult. You will say: "That is a contradiction, a paradox." I will illustrate what I mean. A little nephew of mine in Chicago, a few years ago, took my Bible and threw it down on the floor. His mother said, "Charlie, pick up Uncle's Bible." The little fellow said he would not, "Charlie, do you know what that word means?" She soon found out that he did, and that he was not going to pick up the Book. His will had come right up against his mother's will. I began to be quite interested in the struggle; I knew if she did not break his will, he would some day break her heart. She repeated, "Charlie, go and pick up Uncle's Bible, and put it on the table." The little fellow said he could not do it. "I will punish you if you do not." He saw a strange look in her eye, and the matter began to get serious. He did not want to be punished, and he knew his mother would punish him if he did not lift the Bible. So he straightened every bone and muscle in him, and he said he could not do it. I really believe the little fellow had reasoned himself into the belief that he could not do it.
His mother knew he was only deceiving himself; so she kept him right to the point. At last he went down, put both his arms around the Book, and tugged away at it; but he still said he could not do it. The truth was he did not want to. He got up again without lifting it. The mother said, "Charlie, I am not going to talk to you any more. This matter has to be settled; pick up that Book, or I will punish you." At last she broke his will, and then he found it as easy as it is for me to turn my hand. He picked up the Bible, and laid it on the table. So it is with the sinner; if you are really willing to take the Water of Life, you can do it.
"I heard the voice of Jesus say, 'Come unto Me, and rest; Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, Thy head upon My breast.' I came to Jesus as I was— Weary, and worn, and sad, I found in Him a resting-place, And He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, 'Behold, I freely give The living water—thirsty one, Stoop down, and drink, and live.' I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, 'I am this dark world's Light: Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, And all thy day be bright.' I looked to Jesus, and I found In Him my Star, my Sun; And in that Light of life I'll walk Till traveling days are done."
Dr. H. Bonar
I.—MR. MOODY AND REV. MARCUS RAINSFORD.
WHAT IT IS TO BE A CHILD OF GOD.
MR. MOODY—What is it to be a child of God? What is the first step?
Rev. M. Rainsford—Well, sir, I am a child of God when I become united to the Son of God. The Son of God prayed that all who believed upon Him should be one with Him, as He was one with the Father. Believing on Jesus, I receive Him, and become united to Him; I become, as it were, a member of his Body. I am an heir of God, a joint-heir with Christ.
Mr. M.—What is the best definition of Faith?
Mr. R.—Trust in the Son of God, as the Saviour He has given to us. Simple trust, not only in a creed, but in a Person. I trust my soul to Him. I trust the keeping of my soul to Him. God has promised that whosoever trusts Him, mercy shall compass him on every side.
Mr. M.—Does not the Scripture say that the devils believe?
Mr. R.—They believe the truth, do they not? They believe that Jesus was manifested to destroy them; and they "tremble." I wish we believed as truly and as fully that God sent His Son into the world to save us.
Mr. M.—What is it to "trust?"
Mr. R.—I take it to mean four things:
(1) Believing on Christ: that is, taking Him at His Word.
(2) Hoping in Christ: that is, expecting help from Him, according to His Word.
(3) Relying on Christ: That is, resting on Him for the times, and ways, and circumstances in which He may be pleased to fulfill His promises according to His Word.
(4) Waiting on Christ: that is, continuing to do so, notwithstanding delay, darkness, barrenness, perplexing experiences, and the sentence of death in myself. He may keep me waiting awhile (I have kept Him a long time waiting); but He will not keep me waiting always. Believing in Him, hoping in Him, relying upon Him, and waiting for Him—I understand to be trusting in Him.
Mr. M.—Can all these friends here believe the promises?
Mr. R.—The promises are true, whether we believe them or not. We do not make them true by believing them. God could not charge me with being an unbeliever, or condemn me for unbelief, if the promises were not true for me. I could in that case turn round and say: "Great God, why did you expect me to believe a promise that was not true for me?" And yet the Scriptures set forth unbelief as the greatest sin I can continue to commit.
Mr. M.—How are we "cleansed by the Blood?"
Mr. R.—"The blood is the life." The sentence upon sinners for their sin was, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." That we might not die, the Son of God died. The blood is the poured-out life of the Son of God, given as the price, the atonement, the substitute, for the forfeited life of the believer in Jesus Christ. Any poor sinner who receives Christ as God's gift is cleansed from all sin by His Blood.
Mr. M.—Was the blood shed for us all?
"There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day; And there may we, though vile as he, Wash all our sins away."
Mr. M.—Some may think that this is only a hymn, and that it is not Scripture. Did the Lord ever say anything similar to what the hymn says?
Mr. R.—He said: "I have given you the blood upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls." That was said of the picture of the blood of Christ. And at the Last Supper our Lord said His blood was "the blood of the new testament which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins."
Mr. M.—What is "the gift of God?"
Mr. R.—There are three great gifts that God has given to us—
(1) His blessed Son.
(2) The Holy Ghost, "the promise of the Father," that we might understand the unspeakable gift bestowed on us when He gave His Son.
(3) He has given us His Holy Word.
The Holy Ghost has inspired the writers of it that we may read, and hear, and know the love that God has to us, "in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." We could not have the Son for our Saviour, unless God gave Him. We could not understand the gift of God, unless the Holy Ghost had come to quicken us and teach us; and this He does through the Word.
Mr. M.—How much is there in Christ for us who believe?
Mr. R.—In Him dwelt "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"—fullness of life, of righteousness, of sanctification, of redemption, title to heaven, and meetness for it; all that God wants from us, and all that we want from God, He gave in the person of Christ.
Mr. M.—How long does it take God to justify a sinner?
Mr. R.—How long? The moment we receive Him we receive authority to enroll ourselves among the children of God, and are then and there justified from all things. The sentence of complete justification does not take long to pronounce. Some persons profess to see a difficulty in the variety of ways in which a sinner is said to be justified before God: (1) Justified by God; (2) Justified by Christ; (3) Justified by His Blood; (4) Justified by grace; (5) Justified by faith; (6) Justified by works.
Justification has reference to a court of justice. Suppose a sinner standing at the bar of God, the bar of conscience, and the bar of his fellow-men, charged with a thousand crimes.
(1) There is the Judge: that is God, who alone can condemn or justify: "It is God that justifieth." That is justification by God.
(2) There is the Advocate, who appears at court for the sinner; the counselor, the intercessor: that is Christ. "Justified by Christ."
(3) There is next to be considered the ground and reason on account of which the Advocate pleads before the Judge. That is the merit of His own precious Blood. That is justification by His Blood.
(4) Next we must remember the law which the Judge is dispensing. The law of works? Nay, but the law of grace and faith. That is justification by His grace.
(5) And now the judge himself pronounces the result. "Be it known unto you that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things." Now, for the first time, the sinner at the bar knows the fact. This is justification by faith.
(6) But now the justified man leaves the criminal's dock. He does not return to his prison, or to his chains. He walks forth from the court-house a justified man; and all men, friends or foes, are made aware that he is free. That is "justification by works."
Mr. M.—A man says: "I have not found peace." How would you deal with him?
Mr. R.—He is really looking for the wrong thing. I do not look for peace. I look for Christ; and I get peace with Him. Some people put peace in the place of Christ. Others put their repentance or prayers in the place of Christ. Anything put in the place of Christ, or between the sinner and Christ, is in the wrong place. When I get Christ, I possess in Him everything that belongs to Him, as my Saviour.
Mr. M.—Some think they cannot be Christians until they are sanctified.
Mr. R.—Christ is my Sanctification, as much as my Justification. I cannot be sanctified but by His blood. There is a wonderful passage in Exodus. The high priest there represented in picture the Lord Jesus Christ. There was to be placed on the forefront of the miter of the high priest, when he stood before God, a plate of pure gold, and graven upon it as with a signet, the words: "Holiness to the Lord." My faith sees it on the forefront of the miter on the brow of my High Priest in heaven. "And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord." That was for Israel of old! That on the brow of Jesus Christ is for me. Yes—for me, "that I may be accepted before the Lord." As I believe this truth it purifies my heart, it operates on my affections and my desires; and I seek to walk with Him, because He is my Sanctification before God, just as I trust in Him as my Justification—because He shed His blood for me.
Mr. M.—What is it to believe on His name?
Mr. R.—His name is His revealed self. We are informed what it is in Exodus. Moses was in the mount with God, and He had shown him wonderful things of kindness and of love. And Moses said, "O God, show me thy glory!" And He said, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee." So He put Moses in the cleft of the rock, and proclaimed the name of the Lord: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin"—there it is, root and branch "and that will by no means clear the guilty." That is His name; and His glory He will not give unto another: and to believe in the name of the Lord is just to shelter under His promises.
Mr. M.—What is it to "receive the Kingdom of God like a little child?"
Mr. R.—Well, I do not believe in a little child being an innocent thing. I think it means that we are to receive it in all our need and helplessness. A little child is the most dependent thing on earth. All its resources are in its parents' love: all it can do is to cry; and its necessities explain the meaning to the mother's heart. If we interpret its language, it means: "Mother, wash me; I cannot wash myself. Mother, clothe me; I am naked, and cannot clothe myself. Mother, feed me; I cannot feed myself. Mother, carry me; I cannot walk." It is written, "A mother may forget her sucking child; yet will not I forget thee." This it is to receive the Kingdom of God as a little child—to come to Jesus in our helplessness and say: "Lord Jesus, wash me!" "Clothe me!" "Feed me!" "Carry me!" "Save me, Lord, or I perish."
Mr. M.—A good many say they are going to try. What would you say to such?
Mr. R.—God wants no man to "try." Jesus has already tried. He has not only tried, but He has succeeded. "It is finished." Believe in Him who has "made an end of sins, making reconciliation for iniquity, finishing transgression, and bringing in everlasting righteousness."
Mr. M.—If people say they are "going to try," what would you say to them?
Mr. R.—I should say, Put trusting in the place of trying; believing in the place of doubting; and I should urge them to come to Christ as they are, instead of waiting to be better. There is nothing now between God the Father and the poor sinner, but the Lord Jesus Christ; and Christ has put away sin that I may be joined to the Lord. "And he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit;" "And where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Mr. M.—About the last thing an anxious inquirer has to contend with is his feelings. There are hundreds here very anxious to know they are safe in the Kingdom; but they think they have not the right kind of feeling. What kind of feeling should they have?
Mr. R.—I think there are several of those present who can say that they found a blessing in the after-meetings through one verse of Scripture. I will quote it as an answer to Mr. Moody's question. "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Some of you may be walking in darkness; that is how you feel. What is God's command? "Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." If I am to trust God in the darkness, I am to trust Him anywhere.
Mr. M.—You would advise them, then, to trust in the Lord, whether they have the right kind of feeling or not?
Mr. R.—If I were to think of my feelings for a moment, I should be one of the most miserable men in this hall to-night. My feelings are those of a sinful corrupt nature. I am just to believe what God tells me in spite of my feelings. Faith is "the evidence of things not seen:" I might add, "the evidence of things not felt."
Mr. M.—Some may say that faith is the gift of God: and that they must wait till God imparts it to them.
Mr. R.—"Faith cometh by hearing." The word of God is the medium through which faith comes to us. God has given us Christ; and He has given us His Spirit, and His Word: what need is there to wait? God will give faith to the man who reads His Word and seeks for His Spirit.
Mr. M.—What, then, should they wait for?
Mr. R.—I do not know of anything they have to wait for. God says: "Come now; Believe now." No, no; there is nothing to wait for. He has given us all He has to give: and the sooner we take it the better.
Mr. M.—Perhaps some of them think they have too many sins to allow their coming.
Mr. R.—The Lord Jesus has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." Why do we not believe him? He says He has "made an end of sins." Why do we not believe Him? Is He a liar?
Mr. M.—Is unbelief a sin?
Mr. R.—It is the root of all sin.
Mr. M.—Has a man the power to believe these things, if he will?
Mr. R.—When God gives a command, it means that we are able by His grace to do it.
Mr. M.—What do you mean by "coming" to Christ?
Mr. R.—Believing in Him. If I were to prepare a great feast in this hall to-morrow night, and say that any man that comes to it would have a grand feast and a five-pound note besides, there would not be any question as to what "coming" meant. God has prepared a great feast. He has sent His messengers to invite all to come; and there is nothing to pay.
Mr. M.—What is the first step.
Mr. R.—To believe.
Mr. M.—Believe what?
Mr. R.—God's invitation; God's promise; God's provision. Let us believe the faithfulness of Him who calls us. Does God intend to mock us, and make game of us? If He did so to one man, it would hush all the harps in heaven.
Mr. M.—Suppose the people do "come," and that they fall into sin tomorrow?
Mr. R.—Let them come back again. God says we are to forgive till seventy times seven. Do you think the great God will do less than He commands us to do?
Mr. M.—If they truly come, will they have the desire to do the things they used to do before?
Mr. R.—When a man really receives Christ into his heart, he experiences "the expulsive power of a new affection." The devil may tempt him to sin; but sin has lost its attraction. A man finds out that it does not pay to grieve God's Holy Spirit.
Mr. M.—What would you advise your converts to do?
Mr. R.—When you were little babes, if you had had no milk, no clothing, and no rest, you would not have lived very long. You are now the result of your fathers' and mothers' care. When a man is born in the family of God he has life; but he needs food. "Man doth not live by bread alone." If you do not feed upon God's promises you will be of no use in God's service: it will be well for you if your life does not die out altogether before long. Then you need exercise. If you only take food, and do no work, you will soon suffer from what I may call spiritual apoplexy. When you get hold of a promise, go and tell it to others. The best way for me to get help for myself is by trying to help others. There is one great promise that young disciples should never forget: "He that watereth shall be watered also himself."
Mr. M.—How are they to begin?
Mr. R.—I believe there are some rich ladies and rich gentlemen on the platform. When such persons are brought to the Lord, they are apt to be ashamed to speak about salvation to their old companions. If our Christian ladies would go amongst other ladies; Christian gentlemen amongst gentlemen of their own class; and so on we should see a grand work for Christ. Each of you have some friends or relations whom you can influence better than anybody else can. Begin with them; and God will give you such a taste for work that you will not be content to stay at home: you will go and work outside as well.
Mr. M.—A good place to start in would be the kitchen, would it not? Begin with some little kitchen meetings. Let some of you get fifteen or twenty mothers together; and ask them to bring their young children with them. Sing some of these sweet hymns; read a few verses of Scripture; get your lips opened; and you will find that streams of salvation will be breaking out all around. I always think that every convert ought to be good for a dozen others right away.
Mr. R.—Let me tell a little incident in my own experience. I was once asked to go and see a great man and tell him about Christ. He did not expect me; and if I had known that, perhaps I should not have had the faith to go at all. When I went he was very angry and very nearly turned me out of the house. He was an old man, and had one little daughter. A few weeks afterwards he went to the Continent, and his daughter went with him. One day when he was very ill he saw his daughter looking at him, while the tears rolled down her cheeks. "My child," he said, "what are you crying about?" "Oh, papa, you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ; I am afraid you are going to hell!" "Why do you say that?" "Do you not remember when Mr. Rainsford called to see you, you were very rude to him? I never saw you so angry. And he only wished to speak to you about Jesus." "Well, my child, you shall read to me about Jesus." If that man has gone to heaven—I do not say whether he has or not—the only light he had he got from his little daughter. You set to work; and you cannot tell what may be the result, by the blessing of God.
"Sons of God, beloved in Jesus Oh, the wondrous word of grace! In His Son the Father sees us, And as sons He gives us place.
Blessed power now brightly beaming— On our God we soon shall gaze; And in light celestial gleaming We shall see our Saviour's face.
By the power of grace transforming We shall then His image bear; Christ His promised word performing, We shall then His glory share."
II.—MR. MOODY AND REV. MARCUS RAINSFORD.
HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN.
MR. MOODY.—Mr. Rainsford, how can one make room in their heart for Christ?
Rev. M. Rainsford.—First, do we really want Christ to be in our hearts? If we do, the best thing will be to ask Him to come and make room for Himself. He will surely come and do so. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." "Without Me ye can do nothing."
Mr. M.—Will Christ crowd out the world if He comes in?
Mr. R.—He spake a parable to that effect. "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace [the poor sinner's heart], his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted [unbelief, false views of God, worldliness, and love of sin], and divideth his spoils." The devil keeps the heart, because Christ desires it for His throne—until Christ drives Him out.
Mr. M.—What is the meaning of the promise?—"Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out."
Mr. R.—I think we often put the emphasis upon the wrong word. People are troubled about how they are going to come, when they should put the emphasis on Him to whom they are coming. "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out:" no matter how he may come. I remember hearing this incident at an after-meeting. A gentleman was speaking to an anxious inquirer, telling him to come to Christ, to trust in Christ; but the man seemed to get no comfort. He said that was just where he found his difficulty. By and by, another friend came and spoke to the anxious one. All he said was: "Come to CHRIST; trust in CHRIST." The man saw it in a minute. He went and told the other gentleman, "I see the way of salvation now." "Tell me," said he, "what did that man say to you?" "Well, he told me to trust in Christ." "That is what I told you." "Nay, you bade me trust in Christ, and come to Christ; he bade me trust in Christ, and come to Christ." That made all the difference.
Mr. M.—What does Christ mean by the words "in no wise?"
Mr. R.—It means that if the sins of all sinners on earth and all the devils in hell were upon your soul, He will not refuse you. Not even in the range of God's omniscience is there a reason why Christ will refuse any poor sinner who comes to Him for pardon.
Mr. M.—What is the salvation He comes to proclaim and to bestow?
Mr. R.—To deliver us from the power of darkness and the bottomless pit, and set us upon the throne of glory. It is salvation from death and hell, and curse and ruin. But that is only the half of it. It is salvation to God, and light, and glory, and honor, and immortality; and from earth to heaven.
Mr. M.—If the friends here do not come and get this salvation, what will be the true reason?
Mr. R.—Either they are fond of some sin which they do not intend to give up, or they do not believe they are in a lost condition, and under the curse of God, and therefore do not feel their need of Him who "came to seek and to save that which was lost." Or they do not believe God's promises. I have sometimes asked a man, "Good friend, are you saved!" "Well, no, I am not saved." "Are you lost?" "Oh, God forbid! I am not lost." "Where are you, then, if you are neither saved nor lost?" May God wake us up to the fact that we are all in one state or the other!
Mr. M.—What if any of them should fall into sin after they have come to Christ?
Mr. R.—God has provided for the sins of His people, committed after they come to Christ, as surely as for their sins committed before they came to Him. Christ "ever liveth to make intercession for all that come unto God by Him." "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." . . . . For, "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins." He will take care of our sinful, tried and tempted selves, if we trust ourselves to Him.
Mr. M.—Is it not said that if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins?"
Mr. R.—Yes. Paul wrote it in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Some of them were trifling with the blood of Christ, reverting to the types and shadows of the Levitical Law, and trusting to a fulfilled ritual for salvation. He is not referring to ordinary acts of sin. By sinning willfully he means, as he explains it, a "treading under foot the Son of God," and a total and final apostatizing from Christ. Those who reject or neglect Him will find no other sacrifice for sin remaining. Before Christ came the Jewish ceremonies were shadows of the good things to come; but Christ was the substance of them. But now that he has come to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, there is no other sacrifice for sin remaining for those who reject Him. God will send no other Saviour, and no further atonement; no second "fountain shall be opened for sin and uncleanness." There remains, therefore, nothing for the rejector of salvation by Christ, but "a fearful looking-for of judgment."
Mr. M.—There are some who say they do not know that they have the right kind of faith.
Mr. R.—God does not ask us if we have the right kind of faith. He tells us the right thing to believe, and the right faith is to believe the right thing, even what God has told us and promised us. If I told you, Mr. Moody, that I had found a hymn-book last night you would believe me, would you not? (Mr. Moody: Yes.) Suppose I said it was the valuable one you lost the other night, you would believe me also just the same. There is no difference in the kind of faith; the difference is in the thing believed. When the Son of God tells me that He died for sinners, that is a fact for my faith to lay hold of: the faith itself is not some thing to be considered. I do not look at my hand, when I take a gift, and wonder what sort of a hand it is. I look at the gift.
Mr. M.—What about those people who say their hearts are so hard, and they have no love to Christ?
Mr. R.—Of course they are hard and cold. No man loves Christ till he believes that Christ loves him. "We love Him, because He first loved us." It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that makes the change.
Mr. M.—Paul said he was "crucified with Christ." what did he mean?
Mr. R.—Oh, that is a grand text! Thank God I have been "crucified with Christ." The Cross of Christ represents the death due to the sinner who had broken God's laws. When Christ was crucified every member of His body was crucified: but every believer that was, or is, or shall be, is a member of Christ's body, of His flesh, and of His bones. Again, we read: "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it: now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." So when Christ was crucified for sin, I was also crucified in Him; and now I am dead and gone as far as my old self is concerned. I have already suffered for sin in Him. Yes; I am dead and buried with Christ. That is the grand truth that Paul laid hold upon. I am stone dead as a sinner in the sight of God. As it is written, I am "become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that I might be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that I should bring forth fruit unto God." "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;" and God Himself commands me so to regard my standing before Him as His believing child. "In that Christ died, He died, unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Mr. M.—Should not a man repent a good deal before he comes to Christ?
Mr. R.—"Repent a good deal!" I do not think any man repents in the true sense of the word till he loves Christ and hates sin. There are many false repentances in the Bible. We are told that Pharaoh repented when the judgment of God came upon him, and he said, "I have sinned;" but as soon as the judgment passed away, he went back to his sin. We read that Balaam said: "I have sinned." Yet "he loved the wages of unrighteousness." When Saul lost his kingdom he repented; "I have sinned," he said. When Judas Iscariot found that he had made a great mistake, he said: "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood;" yet he went "to his own place." I would not give much for these repentances; I would rather have Peter's repentance: when Christ looked upon His fallen saint it broke His heart, and he went out and wept bitterly. Or the repentance of the Prodigal, when his father's arms were around his neck, and his kisses on his cheek, and he said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
Mr. M.—What is your title to heaven?
Mr. R.—The Person, the Life, Death, and Righteousness, of the God-man, the Son of God, my Substitute, and my Saviour.
Mr. M.—How do you obtain that?
Mr. R.—By receiving Him. "As many as received Him, to them gave He authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name."
Mr. M.—What is your meetness for heaven?
Mr. R.—The Holy Ghost dwelling in my heart is my fitness for heaven. I have only to get there; and I have, by this great gift, all tastes, desires, and faculties, for it: I have the eyes to contemplate it: I have the ears for heaven's music: and I can speak the language of the country. The Holy Ghost in me is my fitness and qualification for the splendid inheritance for which the Son of God has redeemed me.
Mr. M.—Would you make a distinction between Christ's work for us and the Spirit's work in us?
Mr. R.—Christ's work for me is the payment of my debt; the giving me a place in my Father's home, the place of sonship in my Father's family. The Holy Spirit's work in me is to make me fit for His company.
Mr. M.—You distinguish, then, between the work of the Father, the work of the Son, and the work of the Holy Ghost.
Mr. R.—Thanks be to God, I have them all, and I want them all—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I read that my Heavenly Father took my sins and laid them on Christ; "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." No one else had a right to touch them. Then I want the Son, who "His own self bare my sins in His own body on a tree." And I want the Holy Ghost. I should know nothing about this great salvation, and care nothing for it, if the Holy Ghost had not come and told me the story, and given me grace to believe it.
Mr. M.—What is meant when we are told that Christ saves "to the uttermost?"
Mr. R.—That is another grand truth. Some people are troubled by the thought that they will not be able to hold out if they come to Christ. There are so many crooked ways, and pitfalls, and snares in the world; there is the power of the flesh, and the snare of the devil. So they fear they will never get home. The idea of the passage is this. Suppose you are on the top of some splendid mountain, very high up. You look away to where the sun sets, and you see many a river, and many a country, and many a barren waste between. Christ is able to save you through and over them all, out and out, and beyond to the uttermost.
Mr. M.—Suppose a man came in here just out of prison: all his life he has been falling, falling, till he has become discouraged. Can Christ save him all at once?
Mr. R.—It is just as easy for Christ to save a man with the weight of ten thousand sins upon him and all his chains around him, as to save a man with one sin. If a man has offended in one point, the Scripture says he is guilty of all.
Mr. M.—If a man is forgiven, will he go out and do the same thing to-morrow?
Mr. R.—Well, I hope not. All I can say is that if we do, we shall smart for it. I have done many a thing since the Lord revealed Himself to my soul that I should not have done—I have gone backward and downward; but I have always found that it does not pay when I do anything that grieves my Heavenly Father. I think He sometimes allows us to taste the bitterness of what it is to depart from Him. And this is one of the many ways by which He keeps us from falling.
Mr. M.—What do you consider to be the great sin of sins?
Mr. R.—The Word of God tells us that there is only one sin of which God alone can convince us. If I cut a man's throat or if I steal, it does not need God to convince me that that is a sin. But it takes the power of the Holy Ghost to convince me that not to receive Christ, not to love Christ, not to believe in Christ, is the sin of sins, the root of sins. Christ says, "When the Spirit is come, He will convince the world of sin, because they believe not on Me."
Mr. M.—What do you mean by the Word of God?
Mr. R.—The Son of God is the Word of God incarnate: the Bible is the Word of God written. The one is the Word of God in my nature: the other is the Word of God in my language.
Mr. M.—If a man receives the word of God into his heart, what benefit is it to him, right here to-night?
Mr. R.—The Father and the Son will make their abode with him; and he will be the temple of the Holy Ghost. Where He goes the whole Trinity goes; and all the promises are his. "Man doth not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Mr. M.—Who is it that judges a man to be unworthy of eternal life?
Mr. R.—Himself!! There is a verse in Acts xiii that is worth remembering: "Seeing ye put it [the Word of God] from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." God does not judge us unworthy. He has given His Son for our salvation. When a man puts away the Word of God from him and refuses to receive Christ into his heart, he judges himself unworthy of salvation.
Mr. M.—I understand, then, that if a man rejects Christ to-night, he passes judgment on himself as unworthy of eternal life?
Mr. R.—He is judging himself unworthy, while God does not so consider him. God says you are welcome to eternal life.
Mr. M.—If any one here wants to please God to-night, how can he do it?
Mr. R.—God delights in mercy. Come to God and claim His mercy in Christ; and you will delight His heart.
Mr. M.—Suppose a man say he is not "elected?"
Mr. R.—Do you remember the story of the woman of Canaan? Poor soul; she had come a long journey. She asked the Lord to have mercy on her afflicted child. He wanted to try her faith, and He said: "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." That looked as if He Himself told her that she was not one of the elect. But she came and worshipped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" and He helped her there and then. No; there is no election separating between the sinner and Christ.
Mr. M.—Say that again.
Mr. R.—There is no election separating between the sinner and christ.
Mr. M.—What is there between the sinner and Christ?
Mr. R.—Mercy!! Mercy!!
Mr. M.—That brings me near to Christ.
Mr. R.—So near that we cannot be nearer. But we must claim it. In John we get God's teaching about election. "This is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again at the last day." He will do his work, you may depend upon it. Then in the next verse we read: "And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." That is the part I am to take: and when I have done so I shall know the Father's will concerning me.
Mr. M.—What do you mean by the New Birth?
Mr. R.—I judge it by what I know of the Old Birth. I was born of human parents into the human family; so I belong to Adam's race by nature and by generation, and I inherit Adam's sin and curse accordingly. The new birth is from my union by faith with the second Adam; but this is by grace, not nature: and when I receive the Lord Jesus Christ I am born of God—not by generation, but by regeneration. As I am united to the first Adam by nature and generation, so I am united by faith through grace and regeneration to the second Adam, and inherit all His fullness accordingly.
Mr. M.—What is the meaning of being "saved by the Blood?"
Mr. R.—A gentleman asked me that in the inquiry-room; "What do you mean by the shed Blood?" It is the poured-out life of the Son of God forfeited as the atonement for sinners' sins.
Mr. M.—Is it available now?
Mr. R.—Yes; as much as ever it was.
Mr. M.—You mean it is just as powerful to-day as it was eighteen hundred years ago when He shed it?
Mr. R.—If the blood of Abel cried out for vengeance against his slayer, how much more does the blood of Christ cry out for pardon for all who plead it! "It cleanseth (present tense) from all sin."
Mr. M.—How do you get faith?
Mr. R.—By hearing God's Word. "Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God."
Mr. M.—How do you get the Holy Ghost?
Mr. R.—In the same way as you get faith. The Holy Ghost uses the Word as the chariot by which He enters the believer's soul. The Gospel is called "the ministration of the Spirit."
Mr. M.—Is the Word of God addressed to all here?
Mr. R.—"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches" (Rev. iii 22).
Mr. M.—What is the Gospel?
Mr. R.—"Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." If our Gospel, proclaiming life, pardon, and peace, is not as applicable for salvation to the vilest harlot here as to the greatest saint in London, it is not Christ's Gospel we preach.
Mr. M.—What reason does the Scripture give tor the Gospel being hid to some?
Mr. R.—It is "hid to them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them." May God open all our eyes, and take away the veil of unbelief with which the devil may be blinding any of us!
Mr. M.—Are there not many who give an intellectual assent to all these things; and who yet have no power, and no divine life?
Mr. R.—An intellectual assent is not faith. I have never found anyone who really believed God's Word who did not get power in believing it. People may assent to it; but I do not admit that that is believing it. I do not think there is any man or woman here who really believes the Gospel of the grace of God, who has not been taught it by the Holy Ghost. I could easily cross-examine any one of those "intellectual believers" who imagines he believes God, but really does not; and he would break down in a few minutes.
Mr. M.—For whom, then, did Christ die?
Mr. R.—For "the ungodly."
Mr. M.—Why is salvation obtained by faith?
Mr. R.—That it might be by grace. "For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace?"
Mr. M.—How may a man know if he has eternal life?
Mr. R.—By not treating God as if He were a liar, when He tells us He has given us eternal life in His Son.
Mr. M.—What is the means by which the New Birth we were speaking of is effected?
Mr. R.—"Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth." "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God . . . . and this is the Word, which by the Gospel is preached unto you."
"Oh, the wondrous love of Jesus To redeem us with His blood! Through His all-atoning merit, He has brought us near to God: For the boundless grace that saves us We His name will magnify; He is coming in His glory, We shall see Him by and by!
Oh, the wondrous love of Jesus To redeem our souls from death! We will thank Him, we will praise Him, While His mercy lends us breath: We are waiting—only waiting— Till He comes our souls to bear To the Home beyond the shadows, In His Kingdom over there!"
F. J. Crosby
III.—MR. MOODY AND MR. RADSTOCK.
WHAT IT IS TO BE CONVERTED.
MR. MOODY: Christ says, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." What is it to be converted?
Mr. Radstock: To be "converted" is to turn to God, who is the only one that can save. We cannot save ourselves even by our religion. Therefore, in order to salvation we must turn to God, who alone has the grace, the wisdom, and the power to save.
Mr. M.—What is it to be born of the Spirit?
Mr. R.—Man, by nature, cannot enter into the thoughts of God. He cannot hold communion with God until he has a new nature. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: he has no capacity until he has the new life which God will give him by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Mr. M.—Can he get that to-day if he repents?
Mr. R.—Yes. Repentance means a change of mind—a turning away from his own thoughts to hear the voice and the message of God. If we listen to the voice of God and confess our sins, God is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins."
Mr. M.—To whom are we to confess our sins?
Mr. R.—When the light of God comes in, we see that we are guilty before him; then we are constrained to go and lay our case before Him. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.
Mr. M.—There is a passage that says the Lord Jesus Christ bear our sins. In what sense did He bear our sins.
Mr. R.—The Lord Jesus Christ had really laid to His charge sins which He had never committed. He was punished as if He had been the sinner. Therefore on the cross He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" God was dealing with Jesus as if He had really been the guilty one.
Mr. M.—Do we get any help by believing that?
Mr. R.—When I believe God's testimony, God's witness about Jesus, I then can trust myself to God, Giving myself to God, God becomes my Saviour.
Mr. M.—Have these friends the power to believe?
Mr. R.—They are commanded to believe. They can believe it just as well as they can believe any other fact, if they only listen to God's voice. But they must get rid of their own thoughts, and listen to God: Hearing His voice they will believe. "Faith cometh by hearing: and hearing by the Word of God."
Mr. M.—All the sinner has to do is to repose in the promises of God?
Mr. R.—Simply to trust Himself to God.
Mr. M.—What would you say to a man who says he has tried a good many times and failed; and who has become discouraged?
Mr. R.—That man has probably made a good many resolutions, hoping that he would gradually make himself a Christian by going through this or that process, or by doing this or that thing. Of course he failed, because he tried to make himself a Christian. Instead of trying to save himself, let him trust in God, who has pledged His word that every one who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has at that moment everlasting life.
Mr. M.—Should a man not break off from some of his sins before he comes to God? Suppose he swears or has a bad temper, should he not get a little control over his temper, or stop swearing, before he comes to Christ?
Mr. R.—God knows that a man's nature is wrong: therefore He has promised to give a man a new nature. We must therefore go to God, just as a man goes to a physician, because he needs to be cured of some disease.
Mr. M.—Can a drunkard or a blasphemer be saved all at once?
Mr. R.—Paul says: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly" bad people, lost people, ruined people—"his faith is counted for righteousness." When he believes God, God becomes his Saviour. God is the friend of sinners.
Mr. M.—What is it to believe God?
Mr. R.—To take Him at His word.
Mr. M.—Do you not think there are a good many here who believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world; and yet they are not saved?
Mr. R.—No doubt; because they have not believed for themselves. A man at the time of the Deluge, for instance, might have said, "Yes, I believe it is a very good ark indeed; and that it will save those who get into it." But it does not follow that he got into it himself. The ark only saved those who went into it. So, when a man trusts in Jesus Christ for himself, Jesus becomes his personal and eternal Saviour.
Mr. M.—What if he should fall into sin after he has believed in Christ?
Mr. R.—"These things write I unto you that ye sin not," says John; "and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." The Good Physician will not give up His case because of the disease; He will deal with it. The Good Shepherd will not turn His poor wandering sheep away; He will go after it, and bring it back. He has promised that He will save His people from their sins.
Mr. M.—Is salvation within the reach of every man here tonight?
Mr. R.—Jesus said, "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Mr. M.—But some say they do not feel that; they do not realize it.
Mr. R.—When they take God at His word, and cast themselves upon Him, whether they feel it or not—when they confess Jesus Christ as their Lord—the Holy Ghost will come as a power to make them realize it. For instance, a man at the time of the Deluge might have stood outside the ark, and said, "I cannot realize how this ark will lift me up above the waters." But if he were inside when the flood came he would realize it. The sinner must believe first, and have his experience afterwards. A man is told that a certain train will take him to Edinburgh. He has never been there: he does not understand about this particular train; and he cannot realize that it will take him there. But he knows that he may trust the friend who told him; so he gets into the train. Then he realizes that he is in the train; by and by he will be able to realize that he is in Edinburgh.
Mr. M.—Would you advise people to come to God as they are, with their unfeeling, treacherous, hard hearts—with any kind of heart?
Mr. R.—God has provided this salvation for lost sinners—those who are thoroughly bad and corrupt. It is for such that God has shown His salvation, His love, His grace.
Mr. M.—What would you say to any one who thinks he has no power to believe?
Mr. R.—He has the power to believe. Probably he is trying to believe something about himself; to feel something about himself instead of giving credit to God—He is not asked to realize this or that about himself, but to believe the faithful God.
Mr. M.—Some say they have no power to overcome a besetting sin?
Mr. R.—Jesus came proclaiming liberty to the captives. As we read in the beautiful words of the Church of England Prayer-book: "Though we be tied and bound by the chains of our sin, let the pitifulness of Thy mercy save us." Jesus Christ takes the prisoners of sin and breaks off their chains.
Mr. M.—There is something said about confessing Christ. Would you advise any one who wants to become a Christian to start right here by confessing Christ with the mouth?
Mr. R.—God is already on your side, whoever you are. Christ is Immanuel—God with us and for us. He is already on your side, whether you believe it or not. Now it is for you to decide whether He shall be your Saviour. He says that if you own Him as Lord—who is now the one rejected by the world—He is responsible to be your Saviour from that moment.