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´╗┐Title: Men of the Bible
Author: Moody, Dwight Lyman, 1837-1899
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MEN OF THE BIBLE


BY


D. L. Moody.


Chicago: New York: Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company

Publishers of Evangelical Literature



_Copyright, 1898, by The Bible Institute Colportage Association._



CONTENTS.


I. ABRAHAM'S FOUR SURRENDERS

II. THE CALL OF MOSES

III. NAAMAN THE SYRIAN

IV. THE PROPHET NEHEMIAH

V. HEROD AND JOHN THE BAPTIST

VI. THE MAN BORN BLIND AND JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA

VII. THE PENITENT THIEF



Men of the Bible


ABRAHAM'S FOUR SURRENDERS


A great many people are afraid of the will of God, and yet I believe
that one of the sweetest lessons that we can learn in the school of
Christ is the surrender of our wills to God, letting Him plan for us
and rule our lives. If I know my own mind, if an angel should come
from the throne of God and tell me that I could have my will done
the rest of my days on earth, and that everything I wished should be
carried out, or that I might refer it back to God, and let God's
will be done in me and through me, I think in an instant I would
say:

"Let the will of God be done."

I cannot look into the future. I do not know what is going to happen
to-morrow; in fact, I do not know what may happen before night; so I
cannot choose for myself as well as God can choose for me, and it is
much better to surrender my will to God's will. Abraham found this
out, and I want to call your attention to four surrenders that he
was called to make. I think that they give us a pretty good key to
his life.


I


In the first place, Abraham was called to give up _his kindred and
his native country_, and to go out, not knowing whither he went.

While men were busy building up Babylon, God called this man out of
that nation of the Chaldeans. He lived down near the mouth of the
Euphrates, perhaps three hundred miles south of Babylon, when he was
called to go into a land that he perhaps had never heard of before,
and to possess that land.

In the twelfth chapter of Genesis, the first four verses, we read:

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and
from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I
will shew thee." Now notice the promise: "And I will make of thee a
great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and
thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and
curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the
earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto
him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy five years old and
when he departed out of Haran."

It was several years before this that God first told him to leave Ur
of the Chaldees. Then he came to Haran, which is about half-way
between the valley of the Euphrates and the valley of the Jordan.
God had called him into the land of the Canaanite, and


HE CAME HALF-WAY,

and stayed there--we do not know just how long, but probably about
five years.

Now, I believe that there are a great many Christians who are what
might be called _Haran Christians_. They go to Haran, and there they
stay. They only half obey. They are not out-and-out. How was it that
God got him out of Haran? His father died. The first call was to
leave Ur of the Chaldees and go into Canaan, but instead of going
all the way they stopped half-way, and it was affliction that drove
Abram out of Haran. A great many of us bring afflictions on
ourselves, because we are not out-and-out for the Lord. We do not
obey Him fully. God had plans He wanted to work out through Abram,
and He could not work them out as long as he was there at Haran.
Affliction came, and then we find that he left Haran, and started
for the Promised Land.

There is just one word there about Lot--"and Lot went with Abram."
That is the key, you might say, to Lot's life. He was a weaker
character than Abram, and he followed his uncle.

When they got into the land that God had promised to give him, Abram
found it already inhabited by great and warlike nations--not by one
nation, but by a number of nations. What could he do, a solitary
man, in that land? Not only was his faith tested by finding the land
preoccupied by other strong and hostile nations, but he had not been
there a great while before a great famine came upon him. No doubt a
great conflict was going on in his breast, and he said to himself:

"What does this mean? Here I am, thirteen hundred miles away from my
own land, and surrounded by a warlike people. And not only that, but
a famine has come, and I must get out of this country."

Now, I don't believe that God sent Abram down to Egypt. I think that
He was only testing him, that he might in his darkness and in his
trouble be


DRAWN NEARER TO GOD.

I believe that many a time trouble and sorrow are permitted to come
to us that we may see the face of God, and be shut up to trust in
Him alone. But Abram went down into Egypt, and there he got into
trouble by denying his wife. That is the blackest spot on Abram's
character. But when we get into Egypt we will always be getting into
trouble.


II


Abram became rich; but we don't hear of any altar--in fact, we hear
of no altar at Haran, and we hear of no altar in Egypt. When he came
up with Lot out of Egypt, they had great possessions, and they
increased in wealth, and their herds had multiplied, until there was
a strife among their herdsmen.

Now it is that Abram's character shines out again. He might have
said that he had a right to the best of everything, because he was
the older, and because Lot would probably not have been worth
anything if it had not been for Abram's help. But instead of
standing up for _his rights_, to choose the best of the land, he
surrenders them, and says to the nephew:

"Take your choice. If you go to the right hand, I will take the
left; or if you prefer the left hand, then I will go to the right."

Here is where Lot made his mistake. If there was a man under the sun
that needed Abram's counsel, and Abram's prayers, and Abram's
influence, and to have been surrounded by the friends of Abram, it
was Lot. He was just one of those weak characters that


NEEDED BOLSTERING UP.

But his covetous eye looked upon the well-watered plains of the
valley of the Jordan that reached out towards Sodom, and he chose
them. He was influenced by what he saw, He walked by sight, instead
of by faith. I think that is where a great many Christian people
make their mistake--walking by sight, instead of by faith. If he had
stopped to think, Lot might have known that it would be disastrous
to him and his family to go anywhere near Sodom. Abram and Lot must
both have known about the wickedness of those cities on the plains,
and although they were rich, and there was chance of making money,
it was better for Lot to keep his family out of that wicked city.
But his eyes fell upon the well watered plains, and he pitched his
tent towards Sodom, and separated from Abram.

Now, notice that after Abram had let Lot have his choice, and Lot
had gone off to the plains, for the first time God had Abram alone.
His father had died at Haran, and he had left his brother there.
Now, after his nephew had left him, he moved down to Hebron, and
there built an altar. "Hebron" means _communion_. Here it is that
God came to him and said:

"Abram, look around as far as your eye can reach--it is all yours.
Look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and
eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee
will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed
as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of
the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through
the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will
give it unto thee."

"Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of
Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord."

It is astonishing how far you can see in that country. God took
Moses up on Pisgah and showed him the Promised Land. In Palestine, a
few years ago, I found that on Mount Olivet I could look over and
see the Mediterranean. I could look into the valley of the Jordan,
and see the Dead Sea. And on the plains of Sharon I could look up to
Mount Lebanon, and up at Mount Hermon, away beyond Nazareth. You can
see with the naked eye almost the length and breadth of that
country. So when God said to Abram that he might look to the north,
and that as far as he could see he could have the land; and then
look to the south, with its well-watered plains that Lot coveted,
and to the east and the west, from the sea to the Euphrates--then
God gave His friend Abram a clear title, no conditions whatever,
saying:

"I will give it all to you."

Lot chose all he could get, but it was not much. Abram let God
choose for him, and was given all the land. Lot had no security for
his choice, and soon lost all. Abram's right was maintained
undisputed by God the giver.

Do you know that the children of Israel never had faith enough to
take possession of all that land as far as the Euphrates? If they
had, probably Nebuchadnezzar would never have come and taken them
captives. But that was God's offer; He said to Abram, "Unto your
seed I will give it forever, clear to the valley of the Euphrates."
From that time on God enlarged Abram's tents. He enriched His
promises, and gave him much more that He had promised down there in
the valley of the Euphrates when He first called him out. It is very
interesting to see how God kept


ADDING TO THE PROMISE

for the benefit of His friend Abram.

Let us go back a moment to Lot, and see what Lot gained by making
that choice. I believe that you can find five thousand Lots to one
Abram to-day. People are constantly walking by sight, lured by the
temptations of men and of the world. Men are very anxious to get
their sons into lucrative positions, although it way be disastrous
to their character; it may ruin them morally and religiously, and in
every other way. The glitter of this world seems to attract them.
Some one has said that Abram was a far-sighted man, and Lot was a
short-sighted man; his eye fell on the land right around him. There
is the one thing that we are quite sure of--he was so short-sighted
that his possessions soon left him. And you will find that these
people who are constantly building for time are disappointed.

I have no doubt that the men of Sodom said that Lot was


A MUCH SHREWDER MAN

than his uncle Abram, and that if he lived twenty-five years he
would be the richer of the two, and that by coming into Sodom he
could sell his cattle and sheep and goats and whatever else he had
for large sums, and could get a good deal better market than Abram
could back there on the plains of Mamre.

For awhile Lot did make money very fast, and became a very
successful man. If you had gone into Sodom a little while before
destruction came, you would have found that Lot owned some of the
best corner lots in town, and that Mrs. Lot moved in what they
called the _bon-ton_ society or upper ten; and you would have found
that she was at the theatre two or three nights in the week. If they
had progressive euchre, she could play as well as anybody; and her
daughters could dance as well as any other Sodomites. We find Lot
sitting in the gates, he was getting on amazingly well. He might
have been one of the principal men in the city; Judge Lot, or the
Honorable Lot of Sodom. If there had been a Congress in those days,
they would have run him for a seat in Congress. They might have
elected him


MAYOR OF SODOM.

He was getting on amazingly well; wonderfully prosperous.

But by and by there comes a war. If you go into Sodom, you must take
Sodom's judgment when it comes, for it is bound to come. The battle
turned against those five cities of the plain and they took Lot and
his wife and all that they had, and one man escaped and ran off to
Hebron and told Abram what had taken place. Abram took his
servants,--three hundred and eighteen of them,--went after these
victorious kings, and soon returned with all the booty and all the
prisoners.


III


On Abram's way back with the spoils one of the strangest scenes of
history occurs. Whom should he meet but Melchizedek, who brought out
bread and wine; and the priestly king blessed the Father of the
Faithful. After the old king of peace had blest him, he met the King
of Sodom, and the King of Sodom said, "You take the money, and I
will take the people"; but Abram replied:

"Not a thing will I take, not even the shoe-latchets, lest thou
shouldst say, I have made Abram rich."

There is another surrender. There was a temptation _to get rich at
the hands of the King of Sodom_. But the King of Salem had blessed
him, and this world did not tempt him. It tempted Lot, and no doubt
Lot thought Abram made a great mistake when he refused to take this
wealth; but Abram would not touch a thing; he spurned it and turned
from it. He had the world under his feet; he was living for another
world. He would not be enriched from such a source.

Every one of us is met by the prince of this world and the Prince of
Peace. The one tempts us with wealth, pleasure, ambition: but our
Prince and Priest is ready to succor and strengthen us in the hour
of temptation.

A friend of mine told me some years ago that his wife was very fond
of painting, but that for a long time he never could see any beauty
in her paintings; they all looked like a daub to him. One day his
eyes troubled him and he went to see an oculist. The man looked in
amazement at him and said:

"You have what we call a short eye and a long eye, and that makes
everything a blur."

He gave him some glasses that just fitted him, and then he could see
clearly. Then, he said, he understood why it was that his wife was
so carried away with art, and he built an art gallery, and filled it
full of beautiful things; because everything looked so beautiful
after he had had his eyes straightened out.

Now there are lots of people that have


A LONG EYE AND A SHORT EYE,

and they make miserable work of their Christian life. They keep one
eye on the eternal city and the other eye on the well-watered plains
of Sodom. That was the way it was with Lot: he had a short eye and a
long eye. It would be pretty hard work to believe that Lot was saved
if it were not for the New Testament. But there we read that "Lot's
righteous soul was vexed,"--so he had a righteous soul, but he had a
stormy time. He didn't have peace and joy and victory like Abram.

After Abram had given up the wealth of Sodom that was offered him,
then God came and enlarged his borders again--enlarged the promise.
God said:

"I will be your exceeding great reward; I will protect you."

Abram might have thought that these kings that he had defeated might
get other kings and other armies to come, and he might have thought
of himself as a solitary man, with only three hundred and eighteen
men, so that he might have feared lest he be swept from the face of
the earth. But the Lord came and said:

"Abram, fear not."

That is the first time those oft-repeated words, "fear not," occur
in the Bible.

"Fear not, for I will be your shield and your reward."

I would rather have that promise than all the armies of earth and
all the navies of the world to protect me--to have the God of heaven
for my Protector! God was teaching Abram that He was to be his
Friend and his Shield, if he would surrender himself wholly to His
keeping, and trust in His goodness. That is what we want--to
surrender ourselves up to God, fully and wholly.

In Colorado the superintendent of some works told me of a miner that
was promoted, who came to the superintendent, and said:

"There is a man that has seven children, and I have only three, and
he is having a hard struggle. Don't promote me, but promote him."

I know of nothing that speaks louder for Christ and Christianity
than to see a man or woman giving up what they call their rights for
others, and "in honor preferring one another."

We find that Abram was constantly surrendering his own selfish
interests and trusting to God. What was the result? Of all the men
that ever lived he is the most renowned. He never did anything the
world would call great. The largest army he ever mustered was three
hundred and eighteen men. How Alexander would have sneered at such
an army as that! How Caesar would have looked down on such an army!
How Napoleon would have curled his lip as he thought of Abram with
an army of three hundred and eighteen! We are not told that he was a
great astronomer; we are not told that he was a great scientist; we
are not told that he was a great statesman, or anything the world
calls great; but there was one thing he could do--he could live an
unselfish life, and in honor could waive his rights, and in that way
he became the friend of God; in that way he has become immortal.
There is


NO NAME IN HISTORY

so well known as the name of Abram. Even Christ is not more widely
known, for the Mohammedans, the Persians, and the Egyptians make a
great deal of Abram. His name has been for centuries and centuries
favorably known in Damascus. God promised him that great men, and
warriors, and kings, and emperors, should spring from his loins. Was
there ever a nation that has turned out such men? Think of Moses,
and Joseph, and Joshua, and Caleb, and Samuel, and David, and
Solomon, and Elisha. Think of Elijah, and Daniel, and Isaiah, and
all the other wonderful Bible characters that have sprung from this
man! Then think of Peter, of James, and John, and Paul, and John the
Baptist, a mighty army. No man can number the multitude of wonderful
men that have sprung from this one man called out of the land of the
Chaldeans, unknown and an idolater, probably, when God called him;
and yet how literally God has fulfiled His promise that through him
He would bless all the nations of the earth. All because he
surrendered himself fully and wholly to let God bless him.


IV


The last surrender is perhaps the most touching and the hardest of
all to understand. Perhaps he could not have borne it until the
evening of life. God had been taking him along, step by step, until
now he had reached a place where he had learned to obey fully
whatever God told him to do. I believe the world has yet to see what
God will do with the man who is perfectly surrendered. Next to God's
own Son, Abraham was perhaps the man who came nearest to this
standard.


FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS

Abraham had been in the Promised Land without the promised heir. God
had promised that He would bless all the nations of the earth
through him, and yet He did not give him a son. Abraham's faith
almost staggered a number of times. Ishmael was born, but God set
aside the son of the bondwoman, for he was not to be the ancestor of
the Son of God. God was setting Abram apart simply that He might
prepare the way for His own Son, and now, at last, a messenger comes
down from heaven to Hebron, and tells Abraham in his old age that he
should have a son.

It seemed too good to be true. He had hard work to believe it; but
at the appointed time Isaac was born into that family. I don't
believe there was ever a child born into the world that caused so
much joy in the home as in Abraham's heart and home. How Abraham and
that old mother, Sarah, must have doted on that child! How their
eyes feasted on him!

But just when the lad was growing up into manhood Abraham received
another very strange command, and there was another surrender--_his
only son_. Perhaps he was making an idol of that boy, and thought
more of him than he did of the God that gave him. There must be no
idol in the heart if we are going to do the will of God on earth.

I can imagine that one night the old patriarch retired worn out and
weary. The boy had gone fast to sleep, when suddenly a heavenly
messenger came and told him that he must take that boy off on to a
mountain that God was to show him, and offer him up as a sacrifice.
No more sleep that night! If you had looked into that tent the next
morning I can imagine that you would have seen the servants flying
round and making preparations for the master's taking a long
journey. He perhaps keeps the secret locked up in his heart, and he
doesn't tell even Sarah or Isaac. He doesn't tell the servants, even
the faithful servant Eliezer, what is to take place. About nine
o'clock you might have seen those four men--Abraham, Isaac and the
two young men with them--start off on the long journey. Once in a
while Abraham turns his head aside and wipes away the tear. He
doesn't want Isaac to see what a terrible struggle is going on
within. It is a hard battle to give up his will and to surrender
that boy, the idol of his life. Oh, how he loved him!

I can imagine the first night. The boy soon falls asleep, tired and
weary with the hot day's journey, but the old man doesn't sleep. I
can see him look into the face of the innocent boy, and say:

"Soon my boy will be gone, and I will be returning without him."

Perhaps most of the night his voice could have been heard in prayer,
as he cries to God to help him; and as God had helped him in the
past so God was helping him that night.

The next day they journeyed on, and again a terrible conflict goes
on. Again he brushes away the tear. Perhaps Isaac sees it, and says:

"Father is going away to meet his God, and the angels may come down
and talk with him as at Hebron. That is what he is so agitated
about."

The second night comes, and the old man looks into that face every
hour of the night. He sleeps a little, but not much, and the next
morning at family worship he breaks down. He cannot finish his
prayer.

They journey on that day--it is a long day--and the old patriarch
say: "This is the last day I am to have my boy with me. To-morrow I
must offer him up; to-morrow I shall be without the son of my
bosom."

The third night comes, and what a night it must have been! I can
imagine he didn't eat or sleep that night. Nothing is going to break
his fast, and every hour of the night he goes to look into the face
of that boy, and once in a while he bends over and kisses him, and
he says:

"O Isaac, how can I give thee up?"

Morning breaks. What a morning it must have been for that father! He
doesn't eat; he tries to pray, but his voice falters. After
breakfast they start on their journey again. He has not gone a great
way before he lifts up his eyes, and yonder is Mount Moriah. His
heart begins to beat quickly. He says to the two young men:

"You stay here, and I will go yonder with my son."

Then, as father and son went up Mount Moriah, with the wood, and the
fire, and the knife, the boy turns suddenly to the father, and says:

"Father, where is the lamb? We haven't any offering, father."

It was a common thing for Isaac to see his father offer up a victim,
but there is no lamb now.

Did you ever think


HOW PROPHETIC THAT ANSWER WAS

when Abraham turned and said to the son, "God will provide Himself a
sacrifice?" I don't know that Abraham understood the full meaning of
it, but a few hundred years after God did provide a sacrifice right
there. Mount Moriah and Mount Calvary are close together, and God's
Son was provided as a sacrifice for the world.

On Mount Moriah this father and son begin to roll up the stones, and
together they build the altar; then they lay on the wood and
everything is ready for the victim. Isaac looks around to see where
the lamb is and then the father can keep it from the son no longer,
and he says:

"My boy, sit down here close to the altar, and let me tell you
something."

Then perhaps that old, white-haired patriarch puts his arm around
the lad, and tells how God came to him in the land of the Chaldeans,
and the story of his whole life, and how, by one promise after
another, God had kept enlarging the promised blessings, and that He
would bless all the nations of the earth through him. Isaac was to
be the heir. But he says:

"My son, the last night I was at home God came to me in the hours of
the night and told me to bring you here and offer you up as a
sacrifice. I don't understand what it means, but I can tell you one
thing: it is much harder for me to offer you up than it would be for
me to be sacrificed myself."

There was a time when I used to think more of the love of Jesus
Christ than of God the Father. I used to think of God as a stern
judge on the throne, from whose wrath Jesus Christ had saved me. It
seems to me now I could not have


A FALSER IDEA OF GOD

than that. Since I have become a father I have made this discovery:
that it takes more love and self-sacrifice for the father to give up
the son than it does for the son to die. Is a father on earth a true
father that would not rather suffer than to see his child suffer? Do
you think that it did not cost God something to redeem this world?
It cost God the most precious possession He ever had. When God gave
His Son, He gave all, and yet He gave Him freely for you and me.

I can imagine that Abraham talks to Isaac and tells him how hard it
is to offer him up. "But God has commanded it," he says, "and I
surrender my will to God's will. I don't understand it, but I
believe that God will be able to raise you up, and maybe He will."

They fell on their faces, and prayed together. After prayer I can
see that old father take his boy to his bosom, and embrace him for
the last time. He kisses and kisses him. Then he takes those hands
that are so innocent, and binds them, and he binds the feet, and he
ties him up, and lays him on the altar, and gives him a last kiss.
Then he takes the knife, and raises his hand. No sooner is the hand
lifted than a voice calls from heaven:

"Abraham, Abraham, spare thy son!"

You remember that Christ said, "Abraham saw my day, and was glad." I
have an idea that God then and there just


LIFTED THE CURTAIN OF TIME

for Abraham. He looked down into the future, saw God's Son coming up
Calvary, bearing his sins and the sins of all posterity. God gave
him that secret, and told him how His Son was to come into the world
and take away his sins.

Now, my friends, notice: whenever God has been calling me to higher
service, there has always been a conflict with my will. I have
fought against it, but God's will has been done instead of mine.
When I came to Jesus Christ, I had a terrible battle to surrender my
will, and to take God's will. When I gave up business, I had another
battle for three months; I fought against it. It was a terrible
battle. But oh! how many times I have thanked God that I gave up my
will and took God's will. Then there was another time when God was
calling me into higher service, to go out and preach the gospel all
over the land, instead of staying in Chicago. I fought against it
for months; but the best thing I ever did was when I surrendered my
will, and let the will of God be done in me. Because Abraham obeyed
God and held back not even his only child, God enlarged his promises
once again:

"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the
second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for
because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son,
thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in
multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and
as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess
the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of
the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."

If you take my advice, you will have no will other than God's will.
Make a full and complete surrender, and the sweet messages of heaven
will come to you. God will whisper into your soul


THE SECRETS OF HEAVEN.

After Abraham did what God told him, then it was that God told His
friend all about His Son. If we make a full surrender, God will give
us something better than we have ever known before. We will get a
new vision of Jesus Christ, and will thank God not only in this life
but in the life to come. May God help each and every one of us to
make a full and complete and unconditional surrender to God, fully
and wholly, now and forever.



THE CALL OF MOSES


There is a great deal more room given in Scripture to the _call_ of
men to God's work than there is to their _end_. For instance, we
don't know where Isaiah died, or how he died, but we know a great
deal about the call God gave him, when he saw God on high and lifted
up on His throne. I suppose that it is true to-day that hundreds of
young men and women who are listening for a call and really want to
know what their life's mission is, perhaps find it the greatest
problem they ever had. Some don't know just what profession or work
to take up, and so I should like to take the call of Moses, and see
if we cannot draw some lessons from it.

You remember when God met Moses at the burning bush and called him
to do as great a work as any man has ever been called to in this
world, that


HE THOUGHT THE LORD HAD MADE A MISTAKE,

that he was not the man. He said, "Who am I?" He was very small in
his own estimation. Forty years before he had started out as a good
many others have started. He thought he was pretty well equipped for
service. He had been in the schools of the Egyptians, he had been in
the palaces of Egypt, he had moved in the _bon ton_ society. He had
had all the advantages any man could have when he started out,
undoubtedly, without calling on the God of Abraham for wisdom and
guidance, yet he broke down.

How many men have started out in some profession and made a failure
of it! They haven't heard the voice of God, they haven't waited upon
God for instruction.

I suppose Moses thought that the children of Israel would be greatly
honored to know that a prince of the realm was going to take up
their cause, but you remember how he lost his temper and killed the
Egyptian, and next day, when he interfered in a quarrel between two
Hebrews, they wanted to know who had made him judge and ruler over
them, and he had to flee into the desert, and was there for forty
years hidden away. He killed the Egyptian and lost his influence
thereby. Murder for liberty; wrong for right; it was a poor way to
reform abuses, and Moses needed training.

It was a long time for God to keep him in His school, a long time
for a man to wait in the prime of his life, from forty to eighty.
Moses had been brought us with all the luxuries that Egypt could
give him, and now he was a shepherd, and in the sight of the
Egyptians a shepherd was an abomination. I have an idea that Moses
started out with a great deal bigger head than heart. I believe that
is the reason so many fail; they have


BIG HEADS AND LITTLE HEARTS.

If a man has a shriveled-up heart and a big head he is a monster.
Perhaps Moses looked down on the Hebrews. There are many people who
start out with the idea that they are great and other people are
small, and they are going to bring them up on the high level with
themselves. God never yet used a man of that stamp. Perhaps Moses
was a slow scholar in God's school, and so He had to keep him there
for forty years.

But now he is ready; he is just the man God wants, and God calls
him. Moses said, "Who am I?" He was very small in his own eyes--just
small enough so that God could use him. If you had asked the
Egyptians who he was, they would have said he was


THE BIGGEST FOOL IN THE WORLD.

"Why," they would say, "look at the opportunity that man had! He
might have been commander of the Egyptian army, he might have been
on the throne, swaying the sceptre over the whole world, if he
hadn't identified himself with those poor, miserable Hebrews! Think
what an opportunity he has lost, and what a privilege he has thrown
away!"

He had dropped out of the public mind for forty years, and they
didn't know what had become of him, but God had His eye upon him. He
was the very man of all others that God wanted, and when he met God
with that question, "Who am I?" it didn't matter who he was but who
his God was. When men learn the lesson that they are nothing and God
is everything, then there is not a position in which God cannot use
them. It was not Moses who accomplished that great work of
redemption, for he was only the instrument in God's hand. God could
have spoken to Pharaoh without Moses. He could have spoken in a
voice of thunder, and broken the heart of Pharaoh with one speech,
if He had wanted to, but He condescended to take up a human agent,
and to use him. He could have sent Gabriel down, but he knew that
Moses was the man wanted above all others, so He called him. God
uses men to speak to men: He works through mediators. He could have
accomplished the exodus of the children of Israel in a flash, but
instead He chose to send a lonely and despised shepherd to work out
His purpose through pain and disappointment. That was God's way in
the Old Testament, and also in the New. He sent His own Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh to be the mediator between God and man.

Moses went on making excuses and said, "When I go down there, who
shall I say has sent me?" I suppose he remembered how he went before
he was sent that other time, and he was afraid of a failure again. A
man who has made a failure once is always afraid he will make
another. He loses confidence in himself. It is a good thing to lose
confidence in ourselves so as to gain confidence in God.

The Lord said, "Say unto them, 'I AM hath sent me.'"

Some one has said that God gave him


A BLANK CHECK,

and all he had to do was to fill it out from that time on. When he
wanted to bring water out of the rock, all he had to do was to fill
out the check; when he wanted bread, all he had to do was to fill
out the check and the bread came; he had a rich banker. God had
taken him into partnership with Himself. God had made him His heir,
and all he had to do was to look up to Him, and he got all he
wanted.

And yet he seemed to draw back, and began to make another excuse,
and said:

"They will not believe me."

He was afraid of the Israelites as well as of Pharaoh: he knew how
hard it is to get even your friends to believe in you.

Now, if God has sent you and me with a message it is not for us to
say whether others will believe it or not. _We_ cannot make men
believe. If I have been sent by God to make men believe, He will
give me power to make them believe. Jesus Christ didn't have that
power; it is the work of the Holy Ghost; we cannot persuade men and
overcome skepticism and infidelity unless we are baptised with the
Holy Ghost and with power.

God told Moses that they _would_ believe him, that he would succeed,
and bring the children of Israel out of bondage. But Moses seemed to
distrust even the God who had spoken to him.

Then the Lord said, "What is that in thy hand?"

He had a rod or staff, a sort of shepherd's crook, which he had cut
haphazard when he had wanted something that would serve him in the
desert.

"It is only a rod."

"With that you shall deliver the children of Israel; with that rod
you shall make Israel believe that I am with you."

When God Almighty linked Himself to that rod, it was worth more than
all the armies the world had ever seen. Look and see how that rod
did its work. It brought up the plagues of flies, and the thunder
storm, and turned the water into blood. It was not Moses, however,
nor Moses' rod that did the work, but it was the God of the rod, the
God of Moses. As long as God was with him, he could not fail.

Sometimes it looks as if God's servants fail. When Herod beheaded
John the Baptist, it looked as if John's mission was a failure. But
was it? The voice that rang through the valley of the Jordan rings
through the whole world to-day. You can hear its echo upon the
mountains and the valleys yet, "I must decrease, but He must
increase." He held up Jesus Christ and introduced Him to the world,
and Herod had not power to behead him until his life work had been
accomplished. Stephen never preached but one sermon that we know of,
and that was before the Sanhedrim; but how that sermon has been
preached again and again all over the world! Out of his death
probably came Paul, the greatest preacher the world has seen since
Christ left this earth. If a man is sent by Jehovah, there is no
such thing as failure. Was Christ's life a failure? See how His
parables are going through the earth to-day. It looked as if the
apostles had made a failure, but see how much has been accomplished.
If you read the book of Acts, you will see that every seeming
failure in Acts was turned into a great victory. Moses wasn't going
to fail, although Pharaoh said with contempt, "Who is God that I
should obey Him?" He found out who God was. He found out that there
was a God.

But Moses made another excuse, and said, "I am slow of speech, slow
of tongue." He said he was


NOT AN ORATOR.

My friends, we have too many orators. I am tired and sick of your
"silver-tongued orators." I used to mourn because I couldn't be an
orator. I thought, Oh, if I could only have the gift of speech like
some men! I have heard men with a smooth flow of language take the
audience captive, but they came and they went, their voice was like
the air, there wasn't any _power_ back of it; they trusted in their
eloquence and their fine speeches. That is what Paul was thinking of
when he wrote to the Corinthians:--"My speech and my preaching was
not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the
Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom
of men, but in the power of God."

Take a witness in court and let him try his oratorical powers in the
witness-box, and see now quickly the judge will rule him out. It is
the man who tells the plain, simple truth that has the most
influence with the jury.

Suppose that Moses had prepared a speech for Pharaoh, and had got
his hair all smoothly brushed, and had stood before the looking
-glass or had gone to an elocutionist to be taught how to make an
oratorical speech and how to make gestures. Suppose that he had
buttoned his coat, put one hand in his chest, had struck an attitude
and begun:

"The God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has
commanded me to come into the presence of the noble King of Egypt."

I think they would have taken his head right off! They had Egyptians
who could be as eloquent as Moses. It was not eloquence they wanted.
When you see a man in the pulpit trying to show off his eloquence he
is making a fool of himself and trying to make a fool of the people.
Moses was slow of speech, but he had a message, and what God wanted
was to have him deliver the message. But he insisted upon having an
excuse. He didn't want to go; instead of being eager to act as
heaven's messenger, to be God's errand boy, he wanted to excuse
himself. The Lord humored him and gave him an interpreter, gave him
Aaron.

Now, if there is a stupid thing in the world, it is to talk through
an interpreter. I tried it once in Paris. I got up into a little box
of a pulpit with the interpreter--there was hardly room enough for
one. I said a sentence while he leaned away over to one side, and
then I leaned over while he repeated it in French. Can you conceive
of a more stupid thing than Moses going before Pharaoh and speaking
through Aaron!

But this slow-of-speech man became eloquent. Talk about Gladstone's
power to speak! Here is a man one hundred and twenty years old, and
he waxed eloquent, as we see in Deuteronomy xxxii:1-4:

   Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak;
   And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
   My doctrine shall drop as the rain,
   My speech shall distil as the dew,
   As the small rain upon the tender herb,
   And as the showers upon the grass:
   Because I will publish the name of the Lord:
   Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
   He is the Rock, His work is perfect:
   For all His ways are judgment:
   A God of truth and without iniquity,
   Just and right is He.

He turned out to be one of the most eloquent men the world has ever
seen. If God sends men and they deliver His message He will be with
their mouth. If God has given you a message, go and give it to the
people as God has given it to you. It is a stupid thing for a man to
try to be eloquent. Make


YOUR MESSAGE, AND NOT YOURSELF,

the most prominent thing. Don't be self-conscious Set your heart on
what God has given you to do, and don't be so foolish as to let your
own difficulties or your own abilities stand in the way. It is said
that people would go to hear Cicero and would come away and say,
"Did you ever hear anything like it? wasn't it sublime? wasn't it
grand?" But they would go and hear Demosthenes, and he would fire
them so with the subject that they would want to go and fight at
once. They forgot all about Demosthenes, but were stirred by his
message; that was the difference between the two men.

Next Moses said: "O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him
whom thou wilt send."

Did you ever stop to think what Moses would have lost if God had
taken him at his word, and said:

"Very well, Moses; you may stay here in the desert, and I will send
Aaron, or Joshua, or Caleb!"

Don't seek to be excused if God calls you to some service. What
would the twelve disciples have lost if they had declined the call
of Jesus! I have always pitied those other disciples of whom we read
that they went back, and walked no more with Jesus. Think what Orpah
missed and what Ruth gained by cleaving to Naomi's God! Her story
has been


TOLD THESE THREE THOUSAND YEARS.

Father, mother, sisters, brothers, the grave of her husband--she
turned her back on them all. Ruth, come back, and tell us if you
regret your choice! No: her name shines one of the brightest among
all the women that have ever lived. The Messiah was one of her
descendants.

Moses, you come back and tell us if you were afterwards sorry that
God had called you? I think that when he stood in glorified body on
the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah, he did not
regret it.

My dear friends, God is not confined to any one messenger. We are
told that He can raise up children out of stones. Some one has said
that there are three classes of people, the "wills," the "won'ts,"
and the "can'ts"; the first accomplish everything, the second oppose
everything, and the third fail in everything. If God calls you,
consider it a great honor. Consider it a great privilege to have
partnership with Him in anything. Do it cheerfully, gladly. Do it
with all your heart, and He will bless you. Don't let false modesty
or insincerity, self-interest, or any personal consideration turn
you aside from the path of duty and sacrifice. If we listen for
God's voice, we shall hear the call; and if He calls and sends us,
there will be no such thing as failure, but success all along the
line. Moses had glorious success because he went forward and did
what God called him to do.



NAAMAN THE SYRIAN


I wish to call your attention to one who was a great man in his own
country, and very honorable; one whom the king delighted to honor.
He stood high in position; he was captain of the host of the King of
Syria; but he was a leper, and that threw a blight over his whole
life. As Bishop Hall quaintly puts it, "The meanest slave in Syria
would not have changed skins with him."

Now you cannot have a better type of a sinner than Naaman was. I
don't care who or what he is, or what position he holds--all men
alike have sinned, and all have to bear the same burden of death.
"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." All men must
stand in judgment before God. What a gloom that throws over our
whole life!

"_But he was a leper_." There was


NO PHYSICIAN

who could help him in Syria. None of the eminent doctors in Damascus
could do him any good. If he was to get rid of the leprosy, the
power must come from on high. It must be some one unknown to Naaman,
for he did not know God.

But I will tell you what they had in Syria--they had one of God's
children there, and she was a little girl, a simple captive maid,
who waited on Mrs. Naaman. Naaman knew nothing about this little
Israelite, though she was one of his household.

I can imagine that one day, as she was waiting on the general's
wife, she noticed her weeping. Her heart was breaking because of the
dark cloud that rested over her home. So she told her mistress that
there was a prophet in her country that could cure her master of his
leprosy. "Would to God," she said, "my lord were with the prophet in
Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."

There's faith for you!

She boasted of God that He would do more for this heathen than He
had done for any in Israel; and


GOD HONORED HER FAITH.

"What do you say? A prophet in Israel that can cure leprosy?"

"Yes."

"Why, did you ever know any one that was cured?"

"No."

"Well, then, what makes you think there is a prophet that can cure
leprosy?"

"Oh, that isn't anything to what Elisha can do. There was a little
child that lived near us that died, and he raised him to life. He
has done many wonderful things."

She must have had a reputation for truthfulness. If she hadn't, her
testimony would not have been taken.

Some one told the general of it, and he made it known to the king.
Now, Naaman stood high in the king's favor, for he had recently won
a great victory. He stood near the throne. So the king said:

"You had better go down to Samaria, and see if there is anything in
it. I will give you letters of introduction to the King of Israel."

Yes, he would give Naaman letters of introduction to the king.
That's just man's idea. The notion was, that if anybody could help
him it was the king, and that the king had power both with God and
man. Oh, my friends, it is a good deal better to know a man that
knows God! A man acquainted with God has more power than any earthly
potentate. Gold can't do everything.

Away goes Naaman down to Samaria with his kingly introduction. What
a stir it must have made when the commander of the Syrian army drove
up! He has brought with him a lot of gold and silver. That is man's
idea again; he is going to pay for a great doctor, and he took about
five hundred thousand dollars to pay for the doctor's bill. There
are a good many men who would willingly pay that sum if with it they
could buy the favor of God, and get rid of the curse of sin. Yes, if
money could do it,


HOW MANY WOULD BUY SALVATION!

But, thank God, it is not in the market for sale. You must buy it at
God's price, and that is "without money and without price." Naaman
found that out.

My dear friends, did you ever ask yourselves which is the worse--the
leprosy of sin, or the leprosy of the body? For my own part, I would
a thousand times sooner have the leprosy of the body eating into my
eyes, and feet, and arms! I would rather be loathsome in the sight
of my fellow-men than die with the leprosy of sin in my soul, and be
banished from God forever! The leprosy of the body is bad, but the
leprosy of sin is a thousand times worse. It has cast angels out of
heaven. It has ruined the best and strongest men that ever lived in
the world. Oh, how it has pulled men down! The leprosy of the body
could not do that.

There is one thing about Naaman that I like specially, and that is
his earnestness of purpose. He was


THOROUGHLY IN EARNEST.

He was quite willing to go one hundred and fifty miles, and to take
the advice of this little maid. A good many people say:

"Oh, I don't like such and such a minister; I should like to know
where he comes from, and what he has done, and whether any bishop
has laid his hands on his head."

My dear friends, never mind the minister; it is the message you
want. If some one were to send me a telegraph message, and the news
were important, I shouldn't stop to ask about the messenger who
brought it. I should want to read the news. I should look at the
message, and not at the boy who brought it.

And so it is with God's message. The good news is everything, the
minister nothing. The Syrians looked down with contempt on the
Israelites, and yet this great man was willing to take the good news
at the hands of this little maiden, and listened to the words that
fell from her lips. If I got lost in New York, I should be willing
to ask anybody which way to go, even if it were only a shoeblack;
and, in point of fact, a boy's word in such a case is often better
than a man's. It is the way I want, not the person who directs me.

But there was one drawback in Naaman's case. Though he was willing
to take the advice of the little girl, he was not willing to take
the remedy. The stumbling-block of pride stood in his way. The
remedy the prophet offered him was a terrible blow to his pride. I
have no doubt he expected a grand reception from the King of Israel,
to whom he brought letters of introduction. He had been victorious
on many a field of battle, and held high rank in the army; perhaps
we may call him Major-General Naaman of Syria, or he might have been
higher in rank even than that; and bearing with him kingly
credentials, he expected no doubt a distinguished reception. But
instead of the king rushing out to meet him, he, when he heard of
Naaman's arrival and his object, simply rent his mantle, and said:

"Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto
me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore consider, I pray you,
and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."

Elisha heard of the king's trouble, and sent him a message, saying:

"Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? Let him come now to me, and
he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."

I can imagine Naaman's pride reasoning thus: "Surely, the prophet
will feel very much exalted and flattered that I, the great Syrian
general, should come and call upon him."

And so, probably, full of those proud thoughts, he drives up to the
prophet's humble dwelling with his chariot and his splendid retinue.
Yes, Naaman drove up in grand style to the prophet's abode, and as
nobody seemed to be coming out to greet him, he sent in his message:

"Tell the prophet that Major-General Naaman of Syria has arrived,
and wishes to see him."

Elisha takes it very coolly. He does not come out to see him, but as
soon as he learns his errand he sends his servant to tell him to dip
seven times in the river Jordan, and he shall be clean.

That was a terrible blow to his pride. I can imagine him saying to
his servant:

"What did you say? Did I understand you aright? Dip seven times in
the Jordan! Why, we call the river Jordan a _ditch_ in our country."

But the only answer he got was, "The prophet says, Go and dip seven
times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall become like the flesh of a
little child."

I can fancy Naaman's indignation as he asks, "Are not Abana and
Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?
May I not wash in them and be clean? Haven't I bathed myself
hundreds of times, and has it helped me? Can water wash away
leprosy?"

So he turned and went away in a rage.

It isn't a bad sign when a man gets mad if you tell him the truth.
Some people are afraid of getting other people mad. I have known
wives afraid to talk to their husbands, afraid of getting them mad.
I have known mothers who were afraid to talk to their sons because
they were


AFRAID THEY WOULD GET MAD.

Don't be afraid of getting them mad, if it is the truth that makes
them mad. If it is our foolishness that makes them mad, then we have
got reason to mourn over it. If it is the truth, God sent it, and it
is a good deal better to have a man get mad than it is to have him
go to sleep. I think the trouble with a great many nowadays is that
they are sound asleep, and it is a good deal better to rouse them
even if they do wake up mad.

The fact was, the Jordan never had any great reputation as a river.
It flowed into the Dead Sea, and that sea never had a harbor to it,
and its banks were not half so beautiful as those of the rivers of
Damascus. Damascus was one of the most beautiful cities in the
world. It is said that when Mahomet beheld it he turned his head
aside for fear it should divert his thoughts from heaven.

Naaman turned away in a rage. "Ah," he said, "here am I, a great
conqueror, a successful general on the battlefield, holding the very
highest rank in the army, and yet this prophet does not even come
out to meet me; he simply sends a message. Why, I thought he would
surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord
his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper."

There it is. I hardly ever knew a man yet who, when talked to about
his sins, didn't say:

"Yes, but I _thought_ so and so."

"Mr. Moody," they say, "I will tell you what _I think;_ I will tell
you _my opinion_."

In the 55th chapter of Isaiah it says that God's thoughts are not
our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. And so it was with Naaman. In
the first place, he thought a good big doctor's fee would do it all,
and settle everything up. And besides that there was another thing
he thought; he thought going to the king with his letters of
introduction would do it. Yes, those were Naaman's first thoughts.
_I thought_. Exactly so. He turned away in rage and disappointment.
He thought the prophet would have come out to him very humble and
very subservient, and


BID HIM DO SOME GREAT THINGS.

Instead of that, Elisha, who was perhaps busy writing, did not even
come to the door or the window. He merely sent out the message:

"Tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan."

And away went Naaman, saying, _I thought, I thought, I thought_.

I have heard that tale so often that I am tired of it. Give it up,
and take God's words, God's thoughts, God's ways. I never yet knew a
man converted just in the time and manner he expected to be. I have
heard people say, "Well, if ever I am converted, it won't be in a
Methodist church; you won't catch me there." I never knew a man say
that but, at last, if converted at all, it was in a Methodist
church.

In Scotland a man was converted at one of our meetings--an employer.
He was very anxious that all his employees should be reached, and he
used to send them one by one to the meetings. But there was one man
that wouldn't come. We are all more or less troubled with
stubbornness; and the moment this man found that his employer wanted
him to go to the meetings he made up his mind he wouldn't go. If he
was going to be converted, he said, he was going to be converted by
some ordained minister; he was not going to any meeting that was
conducted by Americans that were not ordained. He believed in
conversion, but he was going to be


CONVERTED THE REGULAR WAY.

He believed in the regular Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and that
was the place for him to be converted.

The employer tried every way he could to get him to attend the
meetings, but he wouldn't come.

After we left that town and went away up to Inverness, the employer
had some business up there, and he sent this employee to attend to
it in the hope that he would attend some of our meetings.

One night as I was preaching on the banks of a river I happened to
take this for my text: "I thought; I thought." I was trying to take
men's thoughts up and to show the difference between their thoughts
and God's thoughts. This man happened to be walking along the banks
of the river. He saw a great crowd, and heard some one talking, and
he wondered to himself what that man was talking about. He didn't
know who was there, so he drew up to the crowd, and listened. He
heard the sermon, and became convicted and converted right there.
Then he inquired who was the preacher, and he found out it was the
very man that he said he would not hear--the man he disliked. The
very man he had been talking against was the very man God used to
convert him.

Whilst Naaman was thus wavering in his mind, and thinking on what
was best to be done, one of his servants drew near and made a very
sensible remark:

"My lord, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest
thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee,
Wash, and be clean?"

There is a great deal of truth in that.

If Elisha had told him to go back to Syria on his hands and knees,
one hundred and fifty miles, he would have done it and thought it
was all right. If he had told him to go into some cave and stay
there a year or two, he would have done it and thought it was all
right. If he had told him that it was necessary to have some
surgical operation performed, and that he had to go through all the
torture incident to it, that would have suited him. Men like to have
something to do about their salvation; they don't like to give up
the idea that they can't do anything; that God must do it all. If
you tell them to take bitter herbs every morning and every night for
the next five years, they think that's all right, and if he had told
Naaman to do that he would have done it. But to tell him merely to
dip in the river Jordan seven times, why, it seemed absurd on the
face of it! But this servant suggested to him that he had better go
down to the Jordan and try the remedy, as it was


A VERY SIMPLE ONE.

Now, don't you see yourselves there? How many men there are who are
waiting for some great thing; waiting for some sudden feeling to
come stealing over them; waiting for some shock to come upon them.
That is not what the Lord wants. There is a man that I have talked
to about his soul for a number of years, and the last time I had a
talk with him, he said:

"Well, the thing hasn't struck me yet."

I said: "What?"

"Well," says he, "the thing hasn't struck me yet."

"Struck you; what do you mean?"

"Well," said he, "I go to church, and I hear you preach, and I hear
other men preach, but the thing hasn't struck me yet; it strikes
some people, but it hasn't struck me yet."

That was all that I could get out of him. There are a good many men
who reason in that way. They have heard some young converts tell how
light dawned upon them like the flash of a meteor; how they
experienced a new sensation; and so they are waiting for something
of the kind. But you can't find any place in Scripture where you are
told to wait for anything of the kind. You are just to obey what God
tells you to do, and let your feelings take care of themselves. I
can't control my feelings. I can't make myself feel good and bad
when I want to, but I can obey God. God gives me the power. He
doesn't command me to do something and not give me the power to do
it. With the command comes the power.

Now, Naaman could do what the prophet told him; he could go down to
the Jordan, and he could dip seven times; and that is what the Lord
had for him to do; and if we are going to get into the kingdom of
God, right at the threshold of that kingdom we have to learn this
doctrine of obedience, to do whatsoever He tells us.

I can fancy Naaman still reluctant to believe in it, saying, "Why,
if there is such cleansing power in the waters of Jordan, would not
every leper in Israel go down and dip in them, and be healed?"

"Well, but you know," urges the servant, "now that you have come a
hundred and fifty miles, don't you think you had better do what he
tells you? After all, you can but try it. He sends word distinctly,
my lord, that your flesh shall come again as that of a little
child."

Naaman accepts this word in season. His anger is cooling down. He
has got over the first flush of his indignation. He says:

"Well, I think I might as well try it."

That was


THE STARTING-POINT OF HIS FAITH,

although still he thought it a foolish thing, and could not bring
himself to believe that the result would be what the prophet had
said.

At last Naaman's will was conquered, and he surrendered. When
General Grant was besieging a town which was a stronghold of the
Southern Confederacy, some of the officers sent word that they would
leave the city if he would let them go with their men. But General
Grant sent word:

"No, nothing but an unconditional surrender!"

Then they sent word that they would go if he would let them take
their flag with them. But the answer was: "No, an unconditional
surrender."

At last the beleagured walls were broken down, and the city entered,
and then the enemy made a complete and unconditional surrender.
Well, it was so with Naaman; he got to that point when he was
willing to obey, and the Scripture tell us, "To obey is better than
to sacrifice."

God wants obedience. Naaman had to learn this lesson. There was no
virtue, probably, in going down to the Jordan, any more than in
obeying the voice of God. He had to obey the word, and


IN THE VERY ACT OF OBEDIENCE

he was blessed.

Look at those ten New Testament lepers who came to Christ. He said
to them: "Go show yourselves to the priests."

"Well," they might have said, "what good is that going to do us?
Here we are all full of leprosy, and if we go and show ourselves to
the priests they will order us back again into exile. That is not
going to help us."

But those ten men started off, and did just what the Lord Jesus
Christ told them to do, and in the very act of doing it they were
blessed; their leprosy left them.

He said to that man that had the palsy, whom they brought to Him
upon a bed: "Take up thy bed and walk."

The man might have said: "Lord, I have been trying for years to take
that bed up, but I can't. I haven't got the power. I have been
shaking with the palsy for the last ten years. Do you think that if
I could have rolled up that bed that I would have been brought here
and let down through the roof? I haven't the power."

But when the Lord commanded him He gave the power. Power came with
the command, and that man stood up, rolled up his bed, and started
off home. He was blessed in the very act of obedience.

My friends, if you want God to bless you, obey Him. Do whatsoever He
calls upon you to do, and then see if He will not bless you.

Christ went to a Pharisee's house one day while He was down here
upon earth, to be entertained. They wanted to get Him to do
something to break the law of Moses, that they might condemn Him to
death, and so they put a man right opposite to Him at the table with
a withered hand, to see if He would heal upon the Sabbath day. He
said to the man:

"Stretch out thy hand."

Now, the man might have said, "Lord, that is a very strange command.
I haven't got the power. That hand has been withered for the last
twenty years. I haven't stretched it out for the last twenty years;
and you say, 'Stretch it out.'"

But when He told him to do it He gave him the power, and out went
that old withered hand, and before it came out straight, right in
the very act, it was made whole. He was blessed in the very act of
obedience.

Now, Naaman had to be taught the lesson that he had to obey; and so,
finally, he went down to the Jordan just as he was told to do. And
if you will do just what the Lord tells you the Lord will bless you
as He did Naaman.

You may ask, "What does He tell me?"

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

The word of God to Naaman was to go and wash; and the word of God to
every soul out of Christ is to believe on His Son. "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." If a man believes
with all his heart on the Lord Jesus Christ, God will never bring
him to judgment for sin; that is all passed--that is all gone. Take
Him at His word; believe Him; believe what He says, and you shall
enter into life eternal. "He came unto His own, and His own received
Him not." HIM--mark you--not a dogma, not a creed,


NOT A MYTH, BUT A PERSON.

"He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as
received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons and daughters
of God." That is the way you get the power.

Naaman goes down to the river and takes the first dip. As he comes
up I can imagine him looking at himself, and saying to his servant:

"There! there I am, no better than I was when I went in! If one
-seventh of the leprosy was gone, I should be content."

The servant says: "The man of God told you to dip seven times. Do
just as he told you. There is no discount on God's word."

Well, down he goes a second time, and he comes up puffing and
blowing, as much a leper as ever; and so he goes down again and
again, the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time, with the same
result, as much a leper as ever. Some of the people standing on the
banks of the river probably said, as they certainly would in our
day:

"Why, that man has gone clean out of his mind!"

When he comes up the sixth time, he looks at himself, and says:

"Ah, no better! What a fool I have made of myself! How they will all
laugh at me! I wouldn't have the generals and aristocracy of
Damascus know that I have been dipping in this way in Jordan for all
the world. However, as I have gone so far, I'll make the seventh
plunge."

He has not altogether lost faith, and down he goes the seventh time,
and comes up again. He looks at himself, and shouts aloud for joy.

"Lo, I am well! My leprosy is all gone, all gone! My flesh has come
again as that of a little child."

If one speck of leprosy had remained, it would have been a
reflection on God.

Ask him now how he feels.

"Feel? I feel that this is the happiest day of my life. I thought
when I won a great victory upon the battlefield that that was the
most joyful day of my life; I thought I should never be so happy
again; but that wasn't anything; it didn't compare with this hour;
my leprosy is all gone, I am whole, I am cleansed."

First he lost his temper; then he lost his pride; then his leprosy.
That is generally the order in which proud, rebellious sinners are
converted.

So he comes up out of Jordan and puts on his clothes, and goes back
to the prophet. He was very mad with Elisha in the beginning, but
when he was cleansed his anger was all gone too. He wants to pay
him. That's just the old story; Naaman


WANTS TO GIVE MONEY

for his cure. How many people want to do the same nowadays. Why it
would have spoiled the story of grace if the prophet had taken
anything! You may give a thank-offering to God's cause, not to
purchase salvation, but because you are saved. The Lord doesn't
charge anything to save you. It is "without money and without
price." The prophet Elisha refused to take anything, and I can
imagine no one felt more rejoiced than he did.

Naaman starts back to Damascus a very different man than he was when
he left it. The dark cloud has gone from his mind; he is no longer a
leper, in fear of dying from a loathsome disease. He lost the
leprosy in Jordan when he did what the man of God told him; and if
you obey the voice of God, even while I am speaking to you, the
burden of your sins will fall from off you, and you shall be
cleansed. It is all done through faith and obedience.

Let us see what Naaman's faith led him to believe. "And he returned
to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood
before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in
all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a
blessing of thy servant."

What I want particularly to call your attention to is the words


I KNOW.

There is no hesitation about it, no qualifying the expression.
Naaman doesn't now say, "I think"; no, he says, "_I know_ there is a
God who has power to cleanse the leprosy."

Then there is another thought. Naaman left only one thing in
Samaria, and that was his leprosy; and the only thing God wishes you
to leave with Him is your sin. And yet it is the only thing you seem
not to care about giving up.

"Oh," you say, "I love leprosy, it is so delightful, I can't give it
up; I know God wants it, that He may make me clean. But I can't give
it up."

Why, what downright madness it is for you to love leprosy; and yet
that is your condition.

"Ah," says someone, "I don't believe in sudden conversions."

Don't you? How long did it take Naaman to be cured? The seventh time
he went down, away went the leprosy. Read the great conversions
recorded in the Bible. Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus, and a host of
others; how long did it take the Lord to bring them about? They were
effected in a minute. We are born in iniquity, shapen in it, dead in
trespasses and sins; but when spiritual life comes it comes in a
moment, and we are free both from sin and death.

You may be sure when he got home there was no small stir in Naaman's
house. I can see his wife, Mrs. Naaman, when he gets back. She has
been watching and looking out of the window for him with a great
burden on her heart. And when she asks him, "Well, husband, how is
it?" I can see the tears running down his cheeks as he says:

"Thank God, I am well."

They embrace each other, and pour out mutual expressions of
rejoicing and gladness. The servants are just as glad as their
master and mistress, as they have been waiting eagerly for the news.
There never was a happier household than Naaman's, now that he has
got rid of the leprosy. And so, my friends, it will be with your own
households if you will only get rid of the leprosy of sin to-day.
Not only will there be joy in your own hearts and at home, but there
will also be


JOY AMONG THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN.

Once, as I was walking down the street, I heard some people laughing
and talking aloud. One of them said:

"Well, there will be no difference, it will be all the same a
hundred years hence."

The thought flashed across my mind, "Will there be no difference?
Where will you be a hundred years hence?"

Young man, just ask yourself the question, "Where shall I be?" Some
of you who are getting on in years may be in eternity ten years
hence. Where will you be, on the left or the right hand of God? I
cannot tell your feelings, but I can my own. I ask you, "Where will
you spend eternity? Where will you be a hundred years hence?"

I heard once of a man who went to England from the Continent, and
brought letters with him to eminent physicians from the Emperor. The
letters said:

"This man is a personal friend of mine, and we are afraid he is
going to lose his reason. Do all you can for him."

The doctor asked him if he had lost any dear friend in his own
country, or any position of importance, or what it was that was
weighing on his mind.

The young man said, "No; but my father and grandfather and myself
were brought up infidels, and for the last two or three years this
thought has been haunting me, Where shall I spend eternity? And the
thought of it follows me day and night."

The doctor said, "You have come to


THE WRONG PHYSICIAN,

but I will tell you of one who can cure you"; and he told him of
Christ, and read to him the 53d chapter of Isaiah, "With His stripes
we are healed."

The young man said, "Doctor, do you believe that?"

The doctor told him he did, and prayed and wrestled with him, and at
last the clear light of Calvary shone on his soul. He had settled
the question in his own mind at last, where he would spend eternity.
I ask you, sinner, to settle it now. It is for you to decide. Shall
it be with the saints, and martyrs, and prophets, or in the dark
caverns of hell, amidst blackness and darkness forever? Make haste
to be wise; for "how shall we escape if we neglect so great
salvation?"

At our church in Chicago I was closing the meeting one day, when a
young soldier got up and entreated the people to decide for Christ
at once. He said he had just come from a dark scene. A comrade of
his, who had enlisted with him, had a father who was always
entreating him to become a Christian, and in reply he always said he
would when the war was over. At last he was wounded, and was put
into the hospital, but got worse and was gradually sinking. One day,
a few hours before he died, a letter came from his sister, but he
was too far gone to read it. Oh, it was such an earnest letter! The
comrade read it to him, but he did not seem to understand it, he was
so weak, till it came to the last sentence, which said:

"Oh, my dear brother, when you get this letter, will you not accept
your sister's Savior?"

The dying man sprang up from his cot, and said, "What do you say?
what do you say?" and then, falling back on his pillow, feebly
exclaimed, "_It is too late! It is too late!_"

My dear friends, thank God it is not _too late_ for you to-day. The
Master is still calling you. Let every one of us, young and old,
rich and poor, come to Christ at once, and He will put all our sins
away. Don't wait any longer for feeling, but obey at once. You can
believe, you can trust, you can lay hold on eternal life, if you
will. Will you not do it now?



THE PROPHET NEHEMIAH


I should like to call your attention to the prophet Nehemiah. We may
gain some help from that distinguished man who accomplished a great
work. He was one of the last of the prophets, was supposed to be
contemporary with Malachi, and perhaps his book was one of the last
of the Old Testament books that was written. He might have known
Daniel, for he was a young man in the declining years of that very
eminent and godly statesman. We are sure of one thing at least--he
was a man of sterling worth. Although he was brought up in the
Persian court among idolaters, yet he had a character that has stood
all these centuries.

Notice his prayer in which he made confession of Israel's apostasy
from God. There may be some confessions we need to make to be
brought into close fellowship with God. I have no doubt that numbers
of Christians are hungering and thirsting for a personal blessing,
and have a great desire to get closer to God. If that is the desire
of _your_ heart, keep in mind that if there is some obstacle in the
way which you can remove, you will not get a blessing until you
remove it. We must cooperate with God. If there is any sin in my
heart that I am not willing to give up then I need not pray. You may
take a bottle and cork it up tight, and put it under Niagara, and
not a drop of that mighty volume of water will get into the bottle.
If there is any sin in my heart that I am not willing to give up, I
need not expect a blessing. The men who have had power with God in
prayer have always begun by confessing their sins. Take the prayers
of Jeremiah and Daniel. You find Daniel confessing his sin, when
there isn't a single sin recorded against him; but he confesses his
sin and the sins of the people. Notice how David confessed his sins
and what power he had with God. So it is a good thing for us to
begin as Nehemiah did.

It seems that some men had come down from his country to the Persian
court, perhaps to see the king on business. This man, who was in
high favor with the king, met them, and finding that they had come
from Jerusalem he began to inquire about his country. He not only
loved his God, but he


LOVED HIS COUNTRY.

I like to see a patriotic man. He began to inquire about his people
and about the city that was very near to his heart, Jerusalem. He
had never seen the city. He had no relations back there in Jerusalem
that he knew of. Nehemiah was not a Jewish prince, although it is
supposed he had royal blood in his veins. He was born in captivity.
It was about one hundred years after Jerusalem was taken that he
appeared upon the horizon. He was in the court of Artaxerxes, a
cupbearer to the king, and held a high position. Yet he longed to
hear from his native land. When these men told him the condition of
the city, that the people were in great want and distress and
degradation, and that the walls of the city were still down, that
the gates had been burned and never restored, his patriotic heart
began to burn. We are told he fasted and prayed and wept, and not
only did he pray for one week, or one month, but he kept on praying.
He prayed "day and night." Having many duties to perform, of course
he was not always on his knees, but in heart he was ever before the
throne of grace. It was not hard for him to understand and obey the
precept, "Pray without ceasing." He began the work in prayer,
continued in prayer, and the last recorded words of Nehemiah are a
prayer.

It was in November or December when those men arrived at that court,
and this man prayed on until March or April before he spoke to the
king. If a blessing doesn't come to-night, pray harder to-morrow,
and if it doesn't come to-morrow, pray harder, and then, if it
doesn't come keep right on, and you will not be disappointed. God in
heaven will hear your prayers, and will answer them. He has _never
failed_, if a man has been honest in his petitions and honest in his
confessions. Let your faith beget patience. God is never in a hurry,
said St. Augustine, because He has all eternity to work.

In the first chapter of Nehemiah is


THE PRAYER

of this wonderful man, his cry which has been on record all these
years, and a great help to many people:

"I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God,
that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe
his commandments: let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes
open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray
before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy
servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we
have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.
We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the
commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou
commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word
that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I
will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto me,
and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast
out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them
from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen
to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people,
whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.
O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer
of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to
fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and
grant him mercy in the sight of this man."

When he began to pray I have no idea that he thought he was to be
the instrument in God's hand of building the walls of Jerusalem. But
when a man gets into sympathy and harmony with God, then God
prepares him for the work He has for him. No doubt he thought the
Persian king might send one of his great warriors and accomplish the
work with a great army of men, but after he had been praying for
months, it may be the thought flashed into his mind:

"Why should not I go to Jerusalem myself and build those walls?"

Prayer for the work will soon arouse your own sympathy and effort.

Now mark, it meant a good deal for Nehemiah to give up the palace of
Shushan and his high office, and identify himself with the despised
and captive Jews. He was among the highest in the whole realm. Not
only that, but he was a man of wealth, lived in ease and luxury, and
had great influence at court. For him to go to Jerusalem and lose
caste was like Moses turning his back on the palace of Pharaoh and
identifying himself with the Hebrew slaves. Yet we might


NEVER HAVE HEARD OF

either of them if they had not done this. They stooped to conquer;
and when you get ready to stoop God will bless you. Plato, Socrates,
and other Greek philosophers lived in the same century as Nehemiah.
How few have heard of them and read their words compared with the
hundreds of thousands who have heard and read of Nehemiah during the
last two thousand years!

If you and I are to be blessed in this world, we must be willing to
take any position into which God puts us. So, after Nehemiah had
prayed a while, he began to pray God to send him, and that he might
be the man to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

After he had been praying some time, he was one day in the
banqueting hall, and the king noticed that his countenance was sad.
We might not have called the face sad; but much prayer and fasting


CHANGE THE VERY COUNTENANCE

of a man. I know some godly men and women, and they seem to have the
stamp of heaven on them. The king noticed a strange look about this
cupbearer, and he began to question him. Then the thought came to
Nehemiah that he would tell the king what caused his sorrow,--how
his own nation was degraded, and how his heart was going out for his
own country. After he had told the king, the king said:

"What is your request?"

Now, some men tell us they don't have time to pray, but I tell you
if any man has God's work lying deep in his heart he _will_ have
time to pray. Nehemiah


SHOT UP A PRAYER

to heaven right there in the king's dining hall that the Lord would
help him to make his request in the right way. He first looked
beyond Artaxerxes to the King of Kings. You need not make a long
prayer. A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in
public. The Lord told Nehemiah what to ask for, that he might be
sent to his own country, that some men might go with him, and that
the king would give him letters to the governors through whose
provinces he would pass so that he might have a profitable journey
and be able to rebuild the walls of his city. God had been preparing
the king, for the king at once granted the request, and before long
this young prince was on his way to Jerusalem.

When he reached the city he didn't have a lot of men go before him
blowing trumpets and saying that the cupbearer of the great Persian
king,


THE CONVERTED CUPBEARER,

had arrived from the Persian court, and was going to build the walls
of Jerusalem. There are some men who are always telling what they
are going to do. Man, let the work speak for itself. You needn't
blow any horns; go and do the work, and it will advertise itself.
Nehemiah didn't have any newspapers writing about him, or any
placards. However, there was no small stir. No doubt every one in
town was talking about it, saying that a very important personage
had arrived from the Persian court; but he was there three days and
three nights without telling anyone why he had come.

One night he went out to survey the city. He couldn't ride around;
even now you cannot ride a beast around the walls of Jerusalem. He
tried to ride around, but he couldn't, so he walked. It was a
difficult task which he had before him, but he was not discouraged.
That is what makes character. Men who can go into a hard field and
succeed, they are the men we want. Any quantity of men are looking
for easy places, but the world will never hear of them. We want men
who are looking for hard places, who are willing to go into the
darkest corners of the earth, and make those dark places bloom like
gardens. They can do it if the Lord is with them.

Everything looked dark before Nehemiah. The walls were broken down.
There was not a man of influence among the people, not a man of
culture or a man of wealth. The nations all around were looking down
upon these weak, feeble Jews. So it is in many churches today, the
walls are down, and people say it is no use, and their hands drop
down by their side. Everything seemed against Nehemiah, but he was a
man who had the _fire of God_ in his soul; he had come to build the
walls of Jerusalem. If you could have bored a hole into his head,
you would have found "Jerusalem" stamped on his brain. If you could
have looked into his heart you would have found "Jerusalem" there.
He was a fanatic; he was terribly in earnest; he was an enthusiast.
I like to see a man take up some one thing and say, "I will do it; I
live for this thing; this one thing I am bound to do." We spread out
so much, and try to do so many things, that


WE SPREAD SO THIN

the world never hears of us.

After he had been in the city three days and nights, he called the
elders of Israel together, and told them for what he had come. God
had been preparing them, for the moment he told them they said:

"Let us rise up and build."

But there has not been a work undertaken for God since Adam fell
which has not met with opposition. If Satan allows us to work
unhindered, it is because our work is of no consequence. The first
thing we read, after the decision had been made to rebuild the
walls, is:

"When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite,
and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and
despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel
against the king?"

These men were very indignant. They didn't care for the welfare of
Jerusalem. Who were they? A mixed multitude who had no portion nor
right nor memorial in Jerusalem. They didn't like to see the
restoration of the ruins, just as people nowadays do not like to see
the cause of Christ prospering. The offence of the cross has not
ceased.

It doesn't take long to build the walls of a city if you can only
get the whole of the people at it. If the Christians of this country
would only rise up, we could evangelize America in twelve months.
All the Jews had a hand in repairing the walls of Jerusalem. Each
built over against his own house, priest and merchant, goldsmith and
apothecary, and even the women. The men of Jericho and other cities
came to help. The walls began to rise.

This stirred up Nehemiah's enemies, and they began to ridicule.


RIDICULE

is a mighty weapon.

"What do these feeble Jews?" said Sanballat. "Will they fortify
themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they make an end in a day?
Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which
are burned?"

"Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break
down their stone wall," said Tobiah the Ammonite.

But Nehemiah was wise. He paid no attention to them. He just looked
to God for grace and comfort:

"Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon
their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
and cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out
from before: for they have provoked thee to anger before the
builders."

Young man, if you wish to be successful in this world, don't mind
Sanballat or Tobiah. Don't be kept out of the kingdom of God or out
of active Christian work by the scorn and laughter and ridicule of
your godless neighbors and companions.

Next, these enemies conspired to come and fight against Jerusalem.

Nehemiah was warned, and took steps to guard against them. Half of
the people were on the watch, and the other half held a sword in one
hand and a trowel in the other. There was


NO EIGHT-HOUR WORKING DAY

then; they were on duty from the rising of the morning till the
stars appeared. They did not take off their clothes except to wash
them. Fancy, this man who came from the Persian court with all its
luxury, living and sleeping in his clothes for those fifty-two days!
But he was in earnest. Ah, that is what we want! men who will set
themselves to do one thing, and keep at it day and night.

All the people were bidden to lodge within the city, so that they
should always be on hand to work and fight. Would to God that we
could get all who belong inside the church to come in and do their
share. "Happy is the church," says one, "whose workers are well
skilled in the use of the Scripture, so that while strenuously
building the Gospel Wall, they can fight too, if occasion require
it." We ought all be ready to use the Sword of the Spirit.

By and by the men wrote a friendly letter, and wanted Nehemiah to go
down on the plain of Ono and have a friendly discussion. It is


A MASTERPIECE OF THE DEVIL

to get men into friendly discussions. I don't know whether Nehemiah
had a typewriter in those days or not; I don't know whether he had a
printed form of letters, but he always sent back the same reply:

"I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down."

How many a church has turned aside for years to discuss "questions
of the day," and has neglected the salvation of the world because
they must go down to the "plain of Ono" and have a friendly
discussion! Nehemiah struck a good keynote--"I am doing a great
work, so that I cannot come down." If God has sent you to build the
walls of Jerusalem, _you go and do it_.

They sent him another letter, and again he sent word back, "I am
doing a great work, so that I cannot come down." He did not believe
in "coming down." They sent him another, and he sent back the same
word. They sent him a fourth letter, with the same result. They
could not get him down; they wanted to slay him on the way.

I have seen many Christian men on the plain of Ono, men who were
doing a splendid work but had been switched off. Think how much work
has been neglected by temperance advocates in this country because
they have gone into politics and into discussing woman's rights and
woman's suffrage. How many times the Young Men's Christian
Association has been switched off by discussing some other subject
instead of holding up Christ before a lost world! If the church
would only keep right on and build the walls of Jerusalem they would
soon be built. Oh, it is a wily devil that we have to contend with!
Do you know it? If he can only get the church to stop to discuss
these questions, he has accomplished his desire.

His enemies wrote him one more letter,


AN OPEN LETTER,

in which they said that they had heard he was going to set up a
kingdom in opposition to the Persians, and that they were going to
report him to the king. Treason has an ugly sound, but Nehemiah
committed himself to the Lord, and went on building.

Then his enemies hired a prophet, one of his friends. A hundred
enemies outside are not half so hard to deal with as one inside--a
false friend. When the devil gets possession of a child of God he
will do the work better than the devil himself. Temptations are
never so dangerous as when they come to us in a religious garb. So
Tobiah and Sanballat bought up one of the prophets, and hired him to
try to induce Nehemiah to go into the temple, that they might put
him to death there.

"Now, Nehemiah, there is a plan to kill you, come into the temple.
Let's go in and stay for the night."

He came near being deceived, but he said, "Shall I, such a man as I,
be afraid of my life, and do that to save my life?"

After he had refused their invitation he saw that this man was a
false prophet; and so by his standing his ground he succeeded in
fifty-two days in building the walls of Jerusalem. Then the gates
were set up and the work was finished.

Now during all these centuries that story has been told. If Nehemiah
had remained at court, he might have died a millionaire, but he
never would have been heard of twenty years after his death. Do you
know the names of any of Nineveh's millionaires? This man stepped
out of that high position and took a low position, one that the
world looked down upon and frowned upon, and his name has been
associated with the walls of Jerusalem all these centuries. Young
man, if you want to be immortal, become identified with God's work,
and pay no attention to what men outside say. Nehemiah and his
associates began at sunrise and worked until it grew so dark they
could not see. A man who will take up God's work, and work summer
and winter right through the year, will have a harvest before the
year is over, and the record of it will shine after he enters the
other world.

The next thing we learn of Nehemiah is that he got up a great


OPEN-AIR MEETING

for the reading of the law of Moses in the hearing of the people. A
pulpit of wood, large enough to hold Ezra the Scribe and thirteen
others, was built. The people wept when they heard the words of the
law, but Nehemiah said:

"Mourn not, nor weep. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet,
and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this
day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the
Lord is your strength."

He did not forget the poor. Reading the Bible and remembering the
poor--a combination of faith and works--will always bring joy.

Nehemiah then began to govern the city, and correct the abuses he
found existing. He gathered about fifty priests and scribes together
and made them sign and seal a written covenant. There were five
things in that covenant I want to call attention to.

First, _they were not to give their daughters to the heathen_.

They had been violating the law of God, and had been marrying their
daughters to the ungodly. God had forbidden them to intermarry with
the heathen nations in the land of Canaan; "for they will turn away
thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will
the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and _destroy thee
suddenly_." I have known many a man who has lost his power by being
identified with the ungodly. If you want to have the blessing of God
rest upon you, you must be very careful about your alliances. The
Jews always got into trouble when they married with the nations
round about. The houses of Ahab and of Solomon lost their kingdom by
that sin. That was the cause of the overthrow of David's kingdom.
Families who marry for wealth, and marry the godly to the ungodly,
always bring distress into the family.

Then he made them sign a covenant that they would _keep the
Sabbath_, that they would not buy upon the Sabbath.

Think of a man going from a heathen court where they had no Sabbath,
a man brought up in that atmosphere, coming up to Jerusalem and
enforcing the law of Moses! It is recorded that they brought up
fish, and he would not let them into the city on the Sabbath, and
the fish spoiled. After they had tried that a few times, they gave
it up. If you will take your stand for God, even if you stand alone,
it will not be very long before you will get other men to stand with
you. God stood with this man, and he carried everything before him.

I don't believe we shall have the right atmosphere in this country
until we can get men who have backbone enough to stand up against
the thing they believe is wrong. If it is a custom rooted and
grounded for a hundred years, never mind; you take your stand
against it if you believe it is wrong. If you have gatherings, and
it is fashionable to have wine and champagne, and you are a
teetotaler; if they ask you anywhere and you know that they are to
have drink, tell them you are not going. A man said to me some years
ago:

"Mr. Moody, now that I am converted, must I give up the world?"

I said: "No, you haven't got to give up the world. If you give a
good ringing testimony for the Son of God, the world will give you
up pretty quick; they won't want you around."

They were going to have a great celebration at the opening of a
saloon and billiard hall in Chicago, in the northern part of the
city, where I lived. It was to be a gateway to death and to hell,
one of the worst places in Chicago. As a joke they sent me an
invitation to go to the opening. I took the invitation and went down
and saw the two men who had the saloon, and I said:

"Is that a genuine invitation?"

They said it was.

"Thank you," I said, "I will be around; if there is anything here I
don't like I may have something to say about it."

They said: "You are not going to _preach_?"

"I may."

"We don't want you. We won't let you in."

"How are you going to keep me out?" I asked; "there is the
invitation."

"We will put a policeman at the door."

"What is the policeman going to do with that invitation?"

"We won't let you in."

"Well," I said, "I will be there."

I gave them a good scare, and then I said, "I will compromise the
matter; if you two men will get down here and let me pray with you,
I will let you off."

I got those two rumsellers down on their knees, one on one side of
me, and the other on the other side, and I prayed God to save their
souls and smite their business. One of them had a Christian mother,
and he seemed to have some conscience left. After I had prayed, I
said:

"How can you do this business? How can you throw this place open to
ruin young men of Chicago?"

Within three months the whole thing smashed up, and one of them was
converted some time after. I have never been invited to a saloon
since.

You won't have to give up the world, not by a good deal. If you go
to reunions, and there is drinking, get up and go away. Don't you be
party to it. That is the kind of men we want. When you find anything
that is ruining your fellow men, fight it to its bitter end.

Nehemiah said, "We will not have desecration of the Sabbath." Not
sell the Sunday paper? Not buy a Sunday paper? How many read the
Sunday newspapers?

I suppose that if you had Nehemiah as mayor of New York, he would
stop that sort of thing. Here we have boys who are kept away from
the Sunday school to sell papers on the streets--trains running in
order that the papers can be distributed. I don't believe a man is
in a fit state to hear a sermon whose mind is full of such trash as
the Sunday newspaper is filled with. Men break the Sabbath and
wonder why it is they have not spiritual power. The trouble nowadays
is that it doesn't mean anything to some people to be a Christian.
What we must have is a higher type of Christianity in this country.
We must have a Christianity that has in it the principle of self
-denial. We must deny ourselves. If we want power, we must be
separate.

The next thing they were to do--(and bear in mind this was a thing
they had to sign)--was to _give their land rest_.

For four hundred and ninety years they had not let their land rest,
so God took them away to Babylon for seventy years, and let the land
rest. A man that works seven days in the week right along is cut off
about five or ten years earlier. You cannot rob God. Why is it that
so many railroad superintendents and physicians die early? It is
because they work seven days in the week. So Nehemiah made them
covenant to keep the law of Moses. If the nations of the earth had
kept that law, the truth would have gone to the four corners of the
earth before this time.

Then he made them sign a covenant that _they would not charge
usury_.

They were just grinding the poor down. I believe that the reason we
are in such a wretched state in this country to-day is on account of
crowding the poor, and getting such a large amount of money for
usury. People evade the law, and pay the interest, and then they
give a few hundred dollars to negotiate the loan. There is a great
amount of usury, and see where we are to-day! See what a wretched
state of things we are having, not only in this country, but all
over the world!

The fifth thing he made them do was to _bring their first fruits to
the sons of Levi_.

They were to give God a tenth, the first and best. As long as Israel
did that they prospered, and when they turned away from that law
they did not prosper. You can look through history and look around
you and see the same thing to-day. As long as men keep God's law and
respect God's testimony, they are going to prosper, but when they
turn aside, like Samson, they lose their strength; they have no
power.

If you take these five things and carry them out, you will have
prosperity. Let us all do it personally. If it was good for those
men it is good for us. The moment we begin to rob God of time or
talents then darkness and misery and wretchedness will come.



HEROD AND JOHN THE BAPTIST


If some one had told me a few years ago that he thought Herod at one
time came near the kingdom of God, I should have been inclined to
doubt it. I would have said, "I do not believe that the bloodthirsty
wretch who took the life of John the Baptist ever had a serious
thought in his life about his soul's welfare." I held that opinion
because there is one scene recorded in Herod's life that I had
overlooked. But some years ago, when I was going through the gospel
of Mark, making a careful study of the book, I found this verse:

"Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and
observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard
him gladly." (Mark vi, 20).

This caused me to change my views about Herod. I saw that he was not
only brought within the sound of John's voice, but under the power
of the Spirit of God; his heart was touched and his conscience
awakened. We are not told under what circumstances he heard John;
but the narrative plainly states that he was brought under the
influence of the Baptist's wonderful ministry.

Let me first say a word or two about


THE PREACHER.

I contend that John the Baptist must have been one of the grandest
preachers this world has ever had. Almost any man can get a hearing
nowadays in a town or a city, where the people live close together;
especially if he speaks in a fine building where there is a splendid
choir, and if the meetings have been advertised and worked up for
weeks or months beforehand. In such circumstances any man who has a
gift for speaking will get a good audience. But it was very
different with John. He drew the people out of the towns and cities
away into the wilderness. There were no ministers to back him; no
business men interested in Christ's cause to work with him; no
newspaper reporters to take his sermons down and send them out. He
was an unknown man, without any title to his name. He was not the
Right-Rev. John the Baptist, D. D., or anything of the kind, but
plain John the Baptist. When the people went to inquire of him if he
were Elias or Jeremiah come back to life, he said he was not.

"Who are you then?"

"I am the Voice of one crying in the wilderness."

He was nothing but a voice--to be heard and not seen; he was Mr.
Nobody. He regarded himself as a messenger who had received his
commission from the eternal world.

How he began his ministry, and how he gathered the crowds together
we are not informed. I can imagine that one day this strange man
makes his appearance in the valley of the Jordan, where he finds a
few shepherds tending their flocks. They bring together their
scattered sheep, and the man begins to preach to these shepherds.
The kingdom of heaven, he says, is about to be set up on the earth;
and he urges them to set their houses in order--to repent and turn
away from their sins. Having delivered his message, he tells them
that he will come back the next day and speak again.

When he had disappeared in the desert, I can suppose one of the
shepherds saying to another:

"Was he not a strange man? Did you ever hear a man speak like that?
He did not talk as the rabbis or the Pharisees or the Sadducees do.
I really think he must be one of the old prophets. Did you notice
that his coat was made of camel's hair, and that he had a leathern
girdle round his loins? Don't the Scriptures say that Elijah was
clothed like that?"

Says another: "You remember how Malachi says that before the great
and dreadful day of the Lord, Elijah should come? I really believe
this man is the old prophet of Carmel."

What could stir the heart of the Jewish people more than the name of
Elijah?

The tidings of John's appearance spread up and down the valley of
the Jordan, and when he returned the next day, there was great
excitement and expectation as the people listened to the strange
preacher. Perhaps till Christ came he had only that


ONE TEXT:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Day after day you
could hear his voice ringing through the valley of the Jordan:

"Repent! repent! repent! The King is at the door. I do not know the
day or the hour, but He will be here very soon."

By and by some of the people who flocked to hear him wanted to be
baptized, and he took them to the Jordan and baptized them.

The news spread to the surrounding villages and towns, and it was
not long before it reached Jerusalem. Then the people of the city
began to flock into the desert to hear this prince among preachers.
His fame soon reached Galilee, and the people in the mountains began
to flock down to hear him. Men left their fishing-smacks on the
lake, that they might listen to this wonderful preacher. When he was
in the zenith of his popularity, as many as twenty or thirty
thousand people perhaps flocked to his ministry day after day.

No doubt there were some old croakers who said it was


ALL SENSATION.

"Catch me there! No, sir; I never did like sensational preaching."

Just as some people speak nowadays when any special effort is made
to reach the people!

"Great harm will be done," they say.

I wish all these croakers had died out with that generation in
Judea; but we have plenty of their descendants still. I venture to
say you have met with them. Why, my dear friends, there is more
excitement in your whisky shops and beer saloons in one night than
in all the churches put together in twelve months. What a stir there
must have been in Palestine under the preaching of John the Baptist,
and of Christ! The whole country reeled and rocked with intense
excitement. Don't be afraid of a little excitement in religious
matters; it won't hurt.

One might hear those old Pharisees and Scribes grumbling about John
being such a sensational preacher. "It won't last." And when Herod
had John the Baptist beheaded, they would say, "Didn't I tell you
so?"

Do not let us be in a hurry in passing judgment. John the Baptist
lives to-day more than ever he did; his voice goes ringing through
the world yet. He only preached a few months, but for more than
eighteen hundred years his sermons have been repeated and
multiplied, and the power of his words will never die as long as the
world lasts.

I can imagine that just when John was at the height of his
popularity, as Herod sat in his palace in Jerusalem looking out
towards the valley of the Jordan, he could see great crowds of
people passing day by day. He began to make inquiries as to what it
meant, and the news came to him about this strange and powerful
preacher. Some one, perhaps, reported that John was preaching
treason. He was telling of a king who was at hand, and who was going
to set up his kingdom.

"A king at hand! If Caesar were coming, I should have heard of it.
There is no king but Caesar. I must look into the matter. I will go
down to the Jordan, and hear this man for myself."

So one day, as John stood preaching, with the eyes of the whole
audience upon him, the people being swayed by his eloquence like
tree-tops when the wind passes over them, all at once he lost their
attention. All eyes were suddenly turned in the direction of the
city. One cries:

"Look, look! Herod is coming!"

Soon the whole congregation knows it, and there is great excitement.

"I believe he will stop this preaching," says one.

And if they had in those days some of the compromising weak-kneed
Christians we sometimes meet, they would have said to John:

"Don't talk about a coming King; Herod won't stand it. Talk about
repentance, but any talk about a coming King will be high treason in
the ears of Herod."

I think if any one had dared to give John such counsel, he would
have replied: "I have received my message from heaven; what do I
care for Herod or any one else?"

As he stood thundering away and calling on the people to repent, I
can see Herod, with his guard of soldiers around him, listening
attentively to find anything in the preacher's words that he can lay
hold of. At last John says:

"The King is just at the door. He will set up His kingdom, and will
separate the wheat from the chaff."

I can imagine Herod then saying to himself: "I will have that man's
head off inside of twenty-four hours. I would arrest him here and
now if I dared. I will catch him to-morrow before the crowd
gathers."

By and by, as Herod listens, some of the people begin to press close
up to the preacher, and to question him. Some soldiers are among
them, and they ask John:

"What shall we do?"

John answers: "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely;
and be content with your wages."

"That is pretty good advice," Herod thinks; "I have had a good deal
of trouble with these men, but if they follow the preacher's advice,
it will make them better soldiers."

Then he hears the publicans ask John, as they come to be baptized:

"What shall we do?"

The answer is: "Exact no more than that which is appointed you."

"Well," says Herod, "that is excellent advice. These publicans are
all the time overtaxing the people. If they would do as the preacher
tells them, the people would be more contented."

Then the preacher addresses himself to the Pharisees and the
Sadducees in the crowd, and cries:

"O generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath
to come? Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance."

Says Herod within himself: "I like that. I am glad he is giving it
pretty strong to these men. I do not think I will have him arrested
just yet."

So he goes back to his palace. I can imagine he was


NOT ABLE TO SLEEP MUCH

that night; he kept thinking of what he had heard. When the Holy
Ghost is dealing with a man's conscience, very often sleep departs
from him. Herod cannot get this wilderness preacher and his message
out of his mind. The truth had reached his soul; it echoed and re
-echoed within him: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
He says:

"I went out to-day to hear for the Roman Government; I think I will
go to-morrow and hear for myself."

So he goes back again and again. My text says that he heard him
gladly, that he observed him, and feared him, knowing that he was a
just man and a holy. He must have known down in his heart that John
was


A HEAVEN-SENT MESSENGER.

Had you gone into the palace in those days, you would have heard
Herod talking of nobody but John the Baptist. He would say to his
associates:

"Have you been out into the desert to hear this strange preacher?"

"No; have you?"

"Yes."

"What! you, the Roman Governor, going to hear this unordained
preacher?"

"Yes, I have been quite often. I would rather hear him than any man
I ever knew. He does not talk like the regular preachers. I never
heard any one who had such influence over me."

You would have thought that Herod was a very hopeful subject. "He
did many things." Perhaps he stopped swearing. He may have stopped
gambling and getting drunk. A wonderful change seemed to have passed
over him. Perhaps he ceased from taking bribes for a time; we catch
him at it afterwards, but just then he refrained from it. He became
quite virtuous in certain directions. It really looked as if he were
near the kingdom of heaven.

I can imagine that one day, as John stands preaching, the truth is
going home to the hearts and consciences of the people, and the
powers of another world are falling upon them, one of John's
disciples stands near Herod's chariot, and sees the tears in the
eyes of the Roman Governor. At the close of the service he goes to
John and says:

"I stood close to Herod today, and no one seemed more impressed. I
could see the tears coming, and he had to brush them away to keep
them from falling."

Have you ever seen a man in a religious meeting trying to keep the
tears back? You noticed that his forehead seemed to itch, and he put
up his hand; you may know what it means--he wants to conceal the
fact that the tears are there. He thinks it is a weakness. It is no
weakness to get drunk and abuse your family, but it is weakness to
shed tears. So this disciple of John may have noticed that Herod put
his hand to his brow a number of times; he did not wish his
soldiers, or those standing near, to observe that he was weeping.
The disciple says to John:

"It looks as if he were coming near the kingdom. I believe you will
have him as an inquirer very soon."

When a man enjoys hearing such a preacher, it certainly seems a
hopeful sign.

Herod might have been present that day when Christ was baptized. Was
there ever a man lifted so near to heaven as Herod must have been if
he were present on that occasion? I see John standing surrounded by
a great throng of people who are hanging on his words. The eyes of
the preacher, that never had quailed before, suddenly began to look
strange. He turned pale and seemed to draw back as though something
wonderful had happened, and right in the middle of a sentence he
ceased to speak. If I were suddenly to grow pale, and stop speaking,
you would ask:

"Has death crept onto the platform? Is the tongue of the speaker
palsied?"

There must have been quite a commotion among the audience when John
stopped. The eyes of the Baptist were fixed upon a Stranger who
pushed His way through the crowd, and coming up to the preacher,
requested to be baptized. That was a common occurrence; it had
happened day after day for weeks past. John listened to the
Stranger's words, but instead of going at once to the Jordan and
baptizing Him, he said:

"I need to be baptized of Thee!"

What a thrill of excitement must have shot through the audience! I
can hear one whispering to another:

"I believe that is the Messiah!"

Yes, it was the long-looked-for One, for whose appearing the nation
had been waiting these thousands of years. From the time God had
made the promise to Adam, away back in Eden, every true Israelite
had been looking for the Messiah; and there He was in their midst!

He insisted that John should baptize Him, and the forerunner
recognized His authority as Master, took Him to the Jordan, and
baptized Him. As He came up from the water, lo! the heavens opened,
and the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and rested on
Him. When Noah sent forth the dove from the Ark, it could find no
resting-place; but now the Son of God had come to do the will of
God, and the dove found its resting-place upon Him. The Holy Ghost
had found a home. Now God broke the silence of four thousand years.
There came a voice from heaven, and Herod may have heard it if he
was there that day:

"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Even if he had not witnessed this scene and heard the voice, he must
have heard about it; for the thing was not done in a corner. There
were thousands to witness it, and the news must have been taken to
every corner of the land.

Yet Herod, living in such times, and hearing such a preacher, missed
the kingdom of heaven at last. He did many things because he feared
John. Had he feared God he would have done everything. "He did many
things"; but there was one thing he would not do--


HE WOULD NOT GIVE UP ONE DARLING SIN.

The longer I preach, the more I am convinced that that is what keeps
men out of the kingdom of God. John knew about Herod's private life,
and warned him plainly.

If those compromising Christians of whom I have spoken had been near
John, one of them would have said:

"Look here, John, it is reported that Herod is very anxious about
his soul, and is asking what he must do to be saved. Let me give you
some advice; don't touch on Herod's secret sin. He is living with
his brother's wife, but don't you say anything about it, for he
won't stand it. He has the whole Roman Government behind him, and if
you allude to that matter it will be more than your life is worth.
You have a good chance with Herod; he is afraid of you. Only be
careful, and don't go too far, or he will have your head off."

There are those who are willing enough that you should preach about
the sins of other people, so long as you do not come home to them.
My wife was once teaching my little boy a Sabbath-school lesson; she
was telling him to notice how sin grows till it becomes habit. The
little fellow thought it was coming too close to him, so he colored
up, and finally said:

"Mamma, I think you are getting a good way from the subject."

John was a preacher of this uncompromising kind, for he drove the
message right home. I do not know when or how the two were brought
together at that time, but John kept nothing back; he boldly said:

"Herod, it is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife."

The man was breaking the law of God, and living in the cursed sin of
adultery. Thank God, John did not spare him! It cost the preacher
his head, but the Lord had got his heart, and he did not care what
became of his head. We read that Herod feared John, but John did not
fear Herod.

I want to say that I do not know of a quicker way to hell than by
the way of adultery. Let no one flatter himself that he is going
into the kingdom of God who does not repent of this sin in sackcloth
and ashes. My friend, do you think God will never bring you into
judgment? Does not the Bible say that no adulterer shall inherit the
kingdom of God?

Do you think John the Baptist would have been a true friend of Herod
if he had spared him, and had covered up his sin? Was it not a true
sign that John loved him when he warned him, and told him he must
quit his sin? Herod had before done many things, and heard John
gladly; but he did not like him then. It is one thing to hear a man
preach down other people's sins. Men will say, "That is splendid,"
and will want all their friends to go and hear the preacher. But let
him touch on their individual sin as John did, and declare (as
Nathan did to David), "Thou art the man," and they say, "I do not
like that." The preacher has touched a sore place.

When a man has broken his arm, the surgeon must find out the exact
spot where the fracture is. He feels along and presses gently with
his fingers.

"Is it there?"

"No"

"Is it there?"

"No."

Presently, when the surgeon touches another spot, "Ouch!" says the
man.

He has found the broken part, and it hurts. John placed his finger
on the diseased spot, and Herod winced under it. He put his hand
right on it:

"Herod, it is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip's
wife!"

Herod did not want to give up his sin.

Many a man would be willing to enter into the kingdom of God, if he
could do it without giving up sin. People sometimes wonder why Jesus
Christ, who lived six hundred years before Mohammed, has got fewer
disciples than Mohammed to-day. There is no difficulty in explaining
that. A man may become a disciple of Mohammed, and continue to live
in the foulest, blackest, deepest sin; but a man cannot be a
disciple of Christ without giving up sin. If you are trying to make
yourself believe that you can get into the kingdom of God without
renouncing your sin, may God tear the mask from you! Can Satan
persuade you that Herod will be found in the kingdom of God along
with John the Baptist, with the sin of adultery and of murder on his
soul?

And now, let me say this to you. If your minister comes to you
frankly, tells you of your sin, and warns you faithfully, thank God
for him. He is your best friend; he is a heaven-sent man. But if a
minister speaks smooth, oily words to you; tells you it is all
right, when you know, and he knows, that it is all wrong, and that
you are living in sin, you may be sure that he is a devil-sent man.
I want to say I have a contempt for a preacher that will tone his
message down to suit some one in his audience; some Senator, or big
man whom he sees present. If the devil can get possession of such a
minister and speak through him, he will do the work better than the
devil himself. You might be horrified if you knew it was Satan
deceiving you, but if a professed minister of Jesus Christ preaches
this doctrine and says that God will make it all right in the end,
that though you go on living in sin, it is just the same. Don't be
deluded into believing such doctrine--it is as false as any lie that
ever came from the pit of hell. All the priests and ministers of all
the churches cannot save one soul that will not part with sin.

There is an old saying that, "Every man has his price." Esau sold
his birthright for a mess of pottage; pretty cheap, was it not? Ahab
sold out for a garden of herbs. Judas sold out for thirty pieces of
silver--less than $17 of our money. Pretty cheap, was it not? Herod
sold out for adultery.


WHAT IS THE PRICE

that you put upon your soul? You say you do not know. I will tell
you. _It is the sin that keeps you from God_. It may be whisky;
there is many a man who will give up the hope of heaven and sell his
soul for whisky. It may be adultery; you say:

"Give me the harlot, and I will relinquish heaven with all its
glories. I would rather be damned with my sin than saved without
it."

What are you selling out for, my friend? You know what it is.

Do you not think it would have been a thousand times better for
Herod to-day if he had taken the advice of John the Baptist instead
of that vile, adulterous woman? There was Herodias pulling one way,
John the other, and Herod was in the balance. It's the same old
battle between right and wrong; heaven pulling one way, hell the
other. Are you going to make the same mistake yourself? We have ten
thousand-fold more light than Herod had. He lived on the other side
of the cross. The glorious gospel had not shone out as it has done
since. Think of the sermons you have heard, of the entreaties
addressed to you to become a Christian. Some of you have had godly
mothers who have prayed for you. Many of you have godly wives who
have pleaded with you, and with God, on your behalf. You have been
surrounded with holy influences from year to year, and how often you
have been near the kingdom of God! Yet here you are to-day, further
off than ever!

It may be true of you, as it was of Herod, that you hear your
preacher gladly. You attend church, you contribute liberally, you do
many things. Remember that none of these avail to cleanse your soul
from sin. They will not be accepted in the place of what God
demands--repentance and the forsaking of every sin.

A child was once playing with a vase, and put his hand in and could
not draw it out again. His father tried to help him, but in vain. At
last he said:

"Now, make one more try. Open your fingers out straight, and let me
pull your arm."

"Oh, no, papa," said the son, "I'd drop the penny if I opened my
fingers like that!"

Of course he couldn't get his hand out when his fist was doubled. He
didn't want to give up the penny. Just so with the sinner. He won't
cut loose from his sins.

Your path and mine will perhaps never cross again. But if I have any
influence with you, I beseech and beg of you to break with sin now,
let it cost you what it will. Herod might have been associated with
Joseph of Arimathea, and with the twelve apostles of the Lamb, if he
had taken the advice of John. There might have been a fragrance
around his name all these centuries. But alas! when we speak of
Herod, we see a sneer on the faces of those who hear us. If one had
said to Herod in those days, "Do you know that you are going to
silence that great preacher, and have him beheaded?" he would have
replied, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do such a thing? I
never would take the life of such a man." He would probably have
thought he could never do it. Yet it was only a little while after
that he had the servant of God beheaded.

Do you know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ proves either a savor of
life unto life, or of death unto death? You sometimes hear people
say: "We will go and hear this man preach. If it does us no good, it
will do us no harm." Don't you believe it, my friend! Every time you
hear the Gospel and reject it, the hardening process goes on. The
same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay. The sermon that would
have moved you a few years ago would make no impression now. Do you
not recall some night when you heard some sermon that shook the
foundations of your skepticism and unbelief? But you are indifferent
now.

I believe Herod was seven times more a child of hell after his
conviction had passed away than he was before. There is not a true
minister of the Gospel who will not say that the hardest people to
reach are those who have been impressed, and whose impressions have
worn away. It is a good deal easier to commit a sin the second time
than it was to commit it the first time, but it is a good deal
harder to repent the second time than the first.

If you are near the kingdom of God now, take the advice of a friend
and step into it. Don't be satisfied with just getting near to it.
Christ said to the young ruler, "Thou art not far from the kingdom,"
but he failed to get there. Don't run any risks. Death may overtake
you before you have time to carry out your best intentions, if you
put off a decision.

It is sad to think that men heard Jesus and Paul, and were moved
under their preaching, but were not saved. Judas must many times
have come near the kingdom, but he never entered in. I saw it in the
army--men who had


ALMOST DECIDED

to become Christians cut down in battle without having taken the
step that would have made them sure of eternal life. I confess there
is something very sad about it.

In one of the tenement houses in New York city, a doctor was sent
for. He came, and found a young man very sick. When he got to the
bedside the young man said:

"Doctor, I don't want you to deceive me; I want to know the worst.
Is this illness to prove serious?"

After the doctor had made an examination, he said: "I am sorry to
tell you you cannot live out the night."

The young man looked up and said: "Well, then, I have missed it at
last!"

"Missed what?"

"I have missed eternal life. I always intended to become a Christian
some day, but I thought I had plenty of time, and put it off."

The doctor, who was himself a Christian man, said: "It is not too
late. Call on God for mercy."

"No; I have always had a great contempt for a man who repents when
he is dying; he is a miserable coward. If I were not sick I would
not have a thought about my soul, and I am not going to insult God
now."

The doctor spent the day with him, read to him out of the Bible, and
tried to get him to lay hold of the promises. The young man said he
would not call on God, and in that state of mind he passed away.
Just as he was dying the doctor saw his lips moving. He reached
down, and all he could hear was the faint whisper:

"_I have missed it at last!_"

Dear friend, make sure that you do not miss eternal life at last.
Will you go with Herod or with John? Bow your head now and say:

"Son of God, come into this heart of mine. I yield myself to Thee,
fully, wholly, unreservedly."

He will come to you, and will not only save you, but will keep you
to the end.



THE MAN BORN BLIND AND JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA


There were two extraordinary men living in the city of Jerusalem
when Christ was on earth. One of them has come down through history
nameless--we do not know who he was; the name of the other is given.
One was not only a beggar, but blind from his birth; the other was
one of the rich men of Jerusalem. Yet in the Gospel of John, there
is more space given to this blind beggar than to any other
character. The reason why so much has been recorded of this man is
because he took his stand for Jesus Christ.

Look at the account given in John ix., beginning at the fifth verse.
In the previous chapter Christ had been telling them that He was the
Light of the world, and that if any man would follow Him he should
not walk in darkness, but should have the light of life. After
making a statement of that kind, Christ often gave


AN EVIDENCE OF THE TRUTH

of what He said by performing some miracle. If He had said He was
the Light of the world, He would show them in what way He was the
Light of the world. If He had said He was the Life of the world, He
would prove Himself to be such by quickening and raising the dead;
just as He did, after telling them that He was the Resurrection and
the Life, by going to the graveyard of Bethany and calling Lazarus
forth. When Lazarus heard the voice of his friend saying, "Lazarus,
come forth!" he came forth immediately.

The Son of God does not ask men to believe Him without a reason for
so doing. We need to keep this in mind. You might as well ask a man
to see without light or eyes, as to believe without testimony.

He gave them good reason for believing in Him, and proved His
Messiahship and authority. He not only told them that He had the
power, but He showed them that He had.

These two men, then, were both at Jerusalem. One held as high a
position, and the other as low a position, as any in the city. One
was at the top of the social ladder, and the other at the bottom.
And yet they both made a good confession; and one was as acceptable
to Jesus as the other.


I


The man mentioned in this chapter was born blind. We find the Lord's
disciples asking Him:

"Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born
blind?"

Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but
that the works of God should be manifest in him."

When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the
spittle; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
and said unto him:

"Go wash in the pool of Siloam."

The blind man went his way and washed, and his eyesight was
restored.

Observe what that man did. He did _just what Christ told him to do_.
The Savior's command to him was to go to the pool of Siloam and
wash; and "he went his way therefore, and came seeing." He was
blessed in the very act of obedience.

Another thought: God does not generally repeat Himself. Of all the
blind men who were healed while Christ was on earth, no two were
healed in exactly the same way. Jesus met blind Bartimeus near the
gates of Jericho, and called him to Him and said:

"What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?"

The answer was: "Lord, that I might receive my sight."

Now, see what He did. He did not send Bartimeus off to Jerusalem
twenty miles away to the pool of Siloam to wash. He did not spit on
the ground, and make clay, and anoint his eyes; but with a word He
wrought the cure, saying:

"Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."

Suppose Bartimeus had gone from Jericho and had met the other blind
beggar at the gate of the city of Jerusalem, and asked him how it
was he got his sight; suppose they began to compare notes--one
telling his experience, and the other telling his. Imagine the first
saying:

"I do not believe that you have got your sight, because you did not
get it in the same way that I got mine."

Would the different ways the Lord Jesus had in healing them make
their cases the less true? Yet there are some people who talk just
that way now. Because God does not deal with some exactly as He does
with others, people think that God is not dealing with them at all.
God seldom repeats Himself. No two persons were ever converted
exactly alike, so far as my experience goes. Each one must have an
experience of his own. Let the Lord give sight in His own way.

There are thousands of people who


KEEP AWAY FROM CHRIST

because they are looking for the experience of some dear friend or
relative. They should not judge of their conversion by the
experiences of others. They have heard some one tell how he was
converted twenty years ago, and they expect to be converted in the
same way. Persons should never count upon having an experience
precisely similar to that of some one else of whom they have heard
or read. They must go right to the Lord Himself, and do what He
tells them to do. If He says, "Go to the pool of Siloam and wash,"
then they must go. If He says, "Come just as you are," and promises
to give sight, then they must come, and let Him do His own work in
His own way, just as this blind man did. It was a peculiar way by
which to give a man sight; but it was the Lord's way; and the man's
sight was given him. We might think it was enough to make a man
blind to fill his eyes with clay. True, he was now doubly blind; for
if he had been able to see before, the clay would have deprived him
of his sight. But the Lord wanted to show the people that they were
not only spiritually blind by nature, but that they had also allowed
themselves to be blinded by the clay of this world, which had been
spread over their eyes. But God's ways are not our ways. If He is
going to work, we must let Him act as He pleases.

Shall we dictate to the Almighty? Shall the clay say to the potter,
"Why hast thou made me thus?" Who art thou, O man, that repliest
against God? Let God work in His own way; and when the Holy Ghost
comes, let Him mark out a way for Himself. We must be willing to
submit, and to do what the Lord tells us, without any questioning
whatever.

"He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The
neighbors, therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was
blind, said, 'Is not this he that sat and begged?'"

"Some said, 'This is he'; others said, 'He is like him.'"

Now, if he had been like a good many at the present time, I am
afraid he would have remained silent. He would have said:

"Well, now I have got my sight, and I will just keep quiet about it.
It is not necessary for me to confess it. Why should I say anything?
There is a good deal of opposition to this man Jesus Christ. There
are a great many bitter things said in Jerusalem against Him. He has
a great many enemies. I think there will be trouble if I talk about
Him; so I will say nothing."

Some said, "This is he"; others said, "He is like him." But he said,
"I am he." He not only got his eyes opened, but, thank God, he got
his mouth open too!

Surely, the next thing after we get our eyes opened is for us to
open our lips and begin to testify for Him.

The people asked him, "How were thine eyes opened?"

He answered: "A man that is called Jesus made clay and anointed mine
eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash: and I
went and washed, and I received sight."

He told a straightforward story, just what the Lord had done for
him. That is all. That is what a witness ought to do--tell what he
knows, not what he does not know. He did not try to make a long
speech. It is not the most flippant and fluent witness who has the
most influence with a jury.

This man's testimony is what I call "experience." One of the
greatest hindrances to the progress of the Gospel to-day is that the
narration of the experience of the Church is not encouraged. There
are a great many men and women who come into the Church, and we
never hear anything of their experiences, or of the Lord's dealings
with them. If we could, it would be a great help to others. It would
stimulate faith and encourage the more feeble of the flock.


THE APOSTLE PAUL'S EXPERIENCE

has been recorded three times. I have no doubt that he told it
everywhere he went: how God had met him; how God had opened his eyes
and his heart; and how God had blessed him. Depend upon it,
experience has its place; the great mistake that is made now is in
the other extreme. In some places and at some periods there has been
too much of it--it has been all experience; and now we have let the
pendulum swing too far the other way.

I think it is not only right, but exceedingly useful, that we should
give our experience. This man bore testimony to what the Lord had
done for him.

"And it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his
eyes; Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received
his sight. He said unto them, 'He put clay upon mine eyes; and I
washed, and do see.' Therefore said some of the Pharisees, 'This man
is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.' Others said,
'How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?' And there was a
division among them.

They say unto the blind man again, 'What sayest thou of Him, that He
hath opened thine eyes?'"

What an opportunity he had for evading the questions! He might have
said: "Why, I have never seen Him. When He met me I was blind; I
could not see Him. When I came back I could not find Him; and I have
not formed any opinion yet." He might have put them off in that way,
but he said:

"He is a prophet."

He gave them his opinion. He was a man of backbone. He had moral
courage. He stood right up among the enemies of Jesus Christ, the
Pharisees, and told them what he thought of Him--

"He is a prophet."

If you can get young Christians to talk, not about themselves, but
about Christ, their testimony will have power. Many converts talk
altogether about their own experience--"I," "I," "I," "I." But this
blind man got away to the Master, and said, "He is a prophet." He
believed, and he told them what he believed.

"But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been
blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him
that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, 'Is this
your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see?' His
parents answered them, and said, 'We know that this is our son, and
that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not:
or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he
shall speak for himself.' These words spake his parents, because
they feared the Jews; for the Jews had agreed already that if any
man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the
synagogue. Therefore said his parents, 'He is of age; ask him.'"

I have always had great contempt for those parents. They had a noble
son, and their lack of moral courage then and there to confess what
the Lord Jesus Christ had done for their son, makes them unworthy of
him. They say, "We do not know how he got it," which looks as if
they did not believe their own son. "He is of age; ask him."

It is sorrowfully true to-day that we have hundreds and thousands of
people who are professed disciples of Jesus Christ, but when the
time comes that they ought to take their stand, and give a clear
testimony for Him, they testify against Him. You can always tell
those who are really converted to God. The new man always takes his
stand for God; and the old man takes his stand against Him. These
parents had an opportunity to confess the Lord Jesus Christ, and to
do great things for Him; but they neglected their golden
opportunity.

If they had but stood up with their noble son, and said, "This is
our son. We have tried all the physicians, and used all the means in
our power, and were unable to do anything for him; but now, out of
gratitude, we confess that he received his sight from the prophet of
Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth," they might have led many to believe on
Him. But, instead of that, they said, "We know that this is our son,
and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know
not."

Do you know why they did not want to tell how he got his sight?
Simply because it would


COST THEM TOO MUCH.

They represent those Christians who do not want to serve Christ if
it is going to cost them anything; if they have to give up society,
position, or worldly pleasures. They do not want to come out. This
is what keeps hundreds and thousands from becoming Christians.

It was a serious thing to be put out of the synagogue in those days.
It does not amount to much now. If a man is put out of one church,
another may receive him; but when he went out of the synagogue there
was no other to take him in. It was the State church: it was the
only one they had. If he were cast out of that, he was cast out of
society, position, and everything else; and his business suffered
also.

Then again the Jews called the man that was blind, "and said unto
him, 'Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.'"

It looks now as if they were trying to prejudice him against Christ:
but he "answered and said, 'Whether He be a sinner or no, I know
not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.'"

There were no infidels or philosophers there who could persuade him
out of that. There were not men enough in Jerusalem to make him
believe that his eyes were not opened. Did he not _know_ that for
over twenty years he had been feeling his way around Jerusalem; that
he had been led by children and friends; and that during all those
years he had not seen the sun in its glory, or any of the beauties
of nature? Did he not know that he had been feeling his way through
life up to that very day?

And do we not know that we have been born of God, and that we have
got the eyes of our souls opened? Do we not know that old things
have passed away and all things have become new, and that the
eternal light has dawned upon our souls? Do we not know that the
chains that once bound us have snapped asunder, that the darkness is
gone, and that the light has come? Have we not liberty where we once
had bondage? Do we not know it? If so, then let us not hold our
peace. Let us testify for the Son of God, and say, as the blind man
did in Jerusalem, "ONE THING I KNOW, that whereas I was blind, now I
see. I have a new power. I have a new light. I have a new love. I
have a new nature. I have something that reaches out toward God. By
the eye of faith I can see yonder heaven. I can see Christ standing
at the right hand of God. By and by, when my journey is over, I am
going to hear that voice saying, 'Come hither,' when I shall sit
down in the kingdom of God."

"Then said they to him again, 'What did He do to thee? how opened He
thine eyes?' But he answered them, 'I have told you already, and ye
did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be His
disciples?'"

This was a most extraordinary man. Here was a young convert in
Jerusalem, not a day old,


TRYING TO MAKE CONVERTS

of these Pharisees--men who had been fighting Christ for nearly
three years! He asked them if they would also become His disciples.
He was ready to tell his experience to all who were willing to hear
it. If he had covered it up at the first, and had not come out at
once, he would not have had the privilege of testifying in that way,
neither would he have been a winner of souls. This man was going to
be a soul-winner.

I venture to say he became one of the best workers in Jerusalem. I
have no doubt he stood well to the front on the day of Pentecost,
when Peter preached, and when the wounded were around him; he went
to work and told how the Lord had blessed him, and how He would
bless them. He was a _worker_, not an _idler_, and he kept his lips
open.

It is a very sad thing that so many of God's children are dumb; yet
it is true. Parents would think it a great calamity to have their
children born dumb; they would mourn over it, and weep; and well
they might; but did you ever think of the many dumb children God
has? The churches are full of them; they never speak for Christ.
They can talk about politics, art, and science; they can speak well
enough and fast enough about the fashions of the day; but they have


NO VOICE FOR THE SON OF GOD.

Dear friend, if He is your Savior, confess Him. Every follower of
Jesus should bear testimony for Him. How many opportunities each one
has in society and in business to speak a word for Jesus Christ! How
many opportunities occur daily wherein every Christian might be
"instant in season and out of season" in pleading for Jesus! In so
doing we receive blessing for ourselves, and also become a means of
blessing to others.

This man wanted to make converts of those Pharisees, who only a
little while before had their hands full of stones, ready to put the
Son of God to death, and even now had murder in their hearts. They
reviled him, saying, "Thou art His disciple, but we are Moses'
disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses. As for this fellow, we
know not from whence He is."

Well, now the once blind man might have said, "There is a good deal
of opposition, and I will say no more; I will keep quiet, and walk
off and leave them." But, thank God, he stood right up with the
courage of a Paul! He answered and said unto them:

"Why, herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He
is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes! Now we know that God heareth
not sinners; but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His
will, him He heareth."

Now, I call that logic. If he had been through a theological
seminary he could not have given a better answer. It is sound
doctrine, and was a good sermon for those who were opposed to the
work of Christ. "If this man were not of God He could do nothing."
This is very strong proof of the man's conviction as to who the Lord
Jesus was. It is as though he said: "I, a man born blind, and He can
give me sight. He a _sinner!_" Why, it is unreasonable! If Jesus
Christ were a man only, how could He give that man sight?

Let philosophers, skeptics, and infidels answer the question,

Neither had he to wear glasses. He received good sight, not short
sight, or weak sight, but as good sight as any man in Jerusalem, and
perhaps a little better. They could all look at him and see for
themselves. His testimony was beyond dispute.

After his splendid confession of the divinity and power of Christ,
"they answered and said unto him, 'Thou wast altogether born in sin,
and dost thou teach us?' And they cast him out." They could not meet
his argument, and so they cast him out. So it is now. If we give a
clear testimony for Christ, the world will cast us out. It is a good
thing to give our testimony so clearly for Christ that the world
dislikes it; it is a good thing when such testimony for Christ
causes the world to cast us out.

Let us see what happened when they cast him out. "Jesus heard," that
is the next thing. No sooner did they cast him out than Jesus heard
of it. No man was ever cast out by the world for the sake of Jesus
Christ but He heard of it; indeed, He will be the first one to hear
of it. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He found
him He said unto him, 'Dost thou believe in the Son of God?' He
answered and said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?'
And Jesus said unto him, 'Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that
talketh with thee.' And he said, 'Lord, I believe!' And he worshiped
Him."

That was


A GOOD PLACE TO LEAVE HIM

--at the feet of Jesus. We shall meet him by and by in the kingdom
of God.

His testimony has been ringing down through the ages these last
nineteen hundred years. It has been talked about wherever the Word
of God has been known. It was a wonderful day's work that man did
for the Son of God; doubtless there will be many in eternity who
will thank God for his confession of Christ.

By thus showing his gratitude in coming out and confessing Christ,
he has left a record that has stirred the Church of God ever since.
He is one of the characters that always stirs one up, imparting new
life and fire, new boldness and courage when one reads about him.
This is what we need to-day as much as ever--to stand up for the Son
of God. Let the Pharisees rage against us; let the world go on
mocking, and sneering, and scoffing; we will stand up courageously
for the Son of God. If they cast us out, they will cast us right
into His own bosom. He will take us to His own loving arms. It is a
blessed thing to live so godly in Christ Jesus that the world will
not want you--that they will cast you out.


II


Now we come to Joseph of Arimathea.

I do not think he came out quite so nobly as this blind beggar did;
but he did come out, and we will thank God for that. We read in John
that for fear of the Jews he was kept back from confessing openly.

"And after this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but
secretly, _for fear of the Jews_, besought Pilate that he might take
away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him leave. He came,
therefore, and took the body of Jesus."

Read the four accounts given in the four Gospels of Joseph of
Arimathea. There is very seldom anything mentioned by all four of
the Evangelists. If Matthew and Mark refer to an event it is often
omitted by Luke and John; and, if it occur in the latter, it may not
be contained in the former. John's Gospel is made up of that which
is absent from the others in most instances--as in the case of the
blind man alluded to. But all four record what Joseph did for
Christ. All His disciples had forsaken Him. One had sold Him, and
another had denied Him. He was left in gloom and darkness, when
Joseph of Arimathea came out and confessed Him.

It was the death of Jesus Christ that brought out Joseph of
Arimathea. Probably he was one of the number that stood at the cross
when the centurion smote his breast, and cried out, "Truly, this was
the Son of God," and he was doubtless convinced at the same time. He
was a disciple before, because we read that on the night of the
trial he did not give his consent to the death of Christ. There must
have been some surprise in the Council-chamber on that occasion,
when Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, stood up and said:

"I will never give my consent to His death."

There were seventy of those men, but we have very good reason to
believe that there were two of them that, like Caleb and Joshua of
old, had the courage to stand up for Jesus Christ--these were Joseph
of Arimathea and Nicodemus: neither of them gave their consent to
the death of Christ. But I am afraid Joseph did not come out and say
that he was a disciple--for we do not find a word said about his
being one until after the crucifixion.

I am afraid there are


MANY JOSEPHS TODAY,

men of position, of whom it could be said they are secret disciples.
Such would probably say to-day, "I do not need to take my stand on
Christ's side. What more do _I_ need? I have everything." We read
that he was a rich and honorable councillor, a just and a good man,
and holding a high position in the government of the nation. He was
also a benevolent man, and a devout man too. What more could he
need? God wants something more than Joseph's good life and high
position. A man may be all Joseph was and yet be without Christ.

But a crisis came in his history. If he was to take his stand, now
was the time for him to do it, I consider that this is one of the
grandest, the noblest acts that any man ever did, to take his stand
for Christ when there seemed nothing, humanly speaking, that Christ
could give him. Joseph had no hope concerning the resurrection. It
seems that none of our Lord's disciples understood that He was going
to rise again even Peter, James, and John, as well as the rest,
scarcely believed that He had risen when He appeared to them. They
had anticipated that He would set up His kingdom, but He had no
sceptre in His hand; and, so far as they could see, no kingdom in
view. In fact, He was dead on the cross, with nails through His
hands and feet. There He hung until His spirit took its flight; that
which had made Him so grand, so glorious, and so noble, had now left
the body.

Joseph might have said, "It will be no use my taking a stand for Him
now. If I come out and confess Him I shall probably lose my position
in society and in the council, and my influence. I had better remain
where I am."

There was no earthly reward for him; there was nothing, humanly
speaking, that could have induced him to come out; and yet we are
told by Mark that he went boldly into Pilate's judgment-hall and
begged the body of Jesus. I consider this was


ONE OF THE SUBLIMEST, GRANDEST ACTS

that any man ever did. In that darkness and gloom, His disciples
having all forsaken Him; Judas having sold Him for thirty pieces of
silver; the chief apostle Peter having denied Him with a curse,
swearing that he never knew Him; the chief priests having found Him
guilty of blasphemy; the Council having condemned him to death; and
when there was a hiss going up to heaven over all Jerusalem, Joseph
went right against the current, right against the influence of all
his friends, and begged the body of Jesus.

Blessed act! Doubtless he upbraided himself for not having been more
bold in his defence of Christ when He was tried, and before He was
condemned to be crucified. The Scripture says he was an honorable
man, an honorable councillor, a rich man, and yet we have only the
record of that one thing--the one act of begging the body of Jesus.
But I tell you, that what he did for the Son of God, out of pure
love for Him, will live for ever; that one act rises up above
everything else that Joseph of Arimathea ever did. He might have
given large sums of money to different institutions, he might have
been very good to the poor, he might have been very kind to the
needy in various ways; but that one act for Jesus Christ, on that
memorable, that dark afternoon, was one of the noblest acts that a
man ever did. He must have been a man of great influence, or Pilate
would not have given him the body.

And now you see another secret disciple, Nicodemus. Nicodemus and
Joseph go to the cross. Joseph is there first, and while he is
waiting for Nicodemus to come, he looks down the hill; and I can
imagine his delight as he sees his friend coming with a hundred
pounds of ointment. Although Jesus Christ had led such a lowly life,
He was to have a kingly anointing and burial. God has touched the
hearts of these two noble men and they drew out the nails, and took
the body down, washed the blood away from the wounds that had been
made on His back by the scourge, and on His head by the crown of
thorns; then they took the lifeless form, washed it clean, and
wrapped it in fine linen, and Joseph laid Him in his own sepulchre.

When all was dark and gloomy, when His cause seemed to be lost, and
the hope of the Church buried in that new tomb, Joseph took his
stand for the One "despised and rejected of men." It was the
greatest act of his life; and, my reader, if you want to stand with
the Lord Jesus Christ in glory; if you want the power of God to be
bestowed upon you for service down here, you must not hesitate to
take your stand boldly and manfully for the most despised of all
men--the Man Christ Jesus. His cause is unpopular. The ungodly sneer
at His name. But if you want the blessings of heaven on your soul,
and to hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou
into the joy of thy Lord," take your stand at once for Him; whatever
your position may be, or however much your friends may be against
you. Decide for Jesus Christ, the crucified but risen Savior. Go
outside the camp and bear His reproach. Take up your cross and
follow Him, and by and by you will lay it down and take the crown to
wear it for ever.

I remember some meetings being held in a locality where the tide did
not rise very quickly, and bitter and reproachful things were being
said about the work. But one day, one of the most prominent men in
the place rose and said:

"I want it to be known that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and if
there is any odium to be cast on His cause, I am prepared to take my
share of it."

It went through the meeting like an electric current, and a blessing
came at once to his own soul and to the souls of others.

Depend upon it, there is


NO CROWN WITHOUT A CROSS.

We must take our proper position here, as Joseph did. It cost him
something to take up his cross. I have no doubt they put him out of
the council and out of the synagogue. He lost his standing, and
perhaps his wealth: like other faithful followers of Christ, he
became, henceforth, a despised and unpopular man.

The blind man could not have done what Joseph did. Some men can do
what others cannot. God will hold us responsible for our own
influence. Let each of us do what we can. Even though the conduct of
our Lord's professed followers was anything but helpful to those
who, like Joseph, had but little courage to come out on the Lord's
side, he was not deterred from taking his stand.

Whatever it costs us, let us be true Christians, and take a firm
stand. It is like the dust in the balance in comparison to what God
has in store for us. We can afford to suffer with Him a little while
if we are going to reign with Him for ever. We can afford to take up
the cross and follow Him, to be despised and rejected by the world,
with such a bright prospect in view. If the glories of heaven are
real, it will be to His praise and to our advantage to share in His
rejection now.

May the Lord keep us from halting; and may we, when weighed in the
balance, not be found wanting! May God help every reader to do all
that the poor blind beggar did, and all that Joseph did!

Let us confess Him at all times and in all places. Let us show our
friends that we are out and out on His side. Every one has a circle
that he can influence, and God will hold us responsible for the
influence we possess. Joseph of Arimathea and the blind man had
circles in which their influence was powerful. I can influence
people that others cannot reach; and they, in their turn, can reach
a class that I could not touch. It is only for a little while that
we can confess Him and work for Him. It is only for a few months or
years; and then the eternal ages will roll on, and great will be our
reward in the crowning day that is coming. We shall then hear the
Master say to us:

"Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of
thy Lord."

God grant it may be so!



THE PENITENT THIEF


It should give us all a great deal of hope and comfort that Jesus
saved such a man as the penitent thief just before He went back to
heaven. Every one who is not a Christian ought to be interested in
this case, to know how he was converted. Any one who does not
believe in sudden conversions ought to look into it. If conversions
are gradual, if it takes six months, or six weeks, or six days to
convert a man, there was no chance for this thief. If a man who has
lived a good, consistent life cannot be converted suddenly, how much
less chance for him! Turn to the 23d chapter of Luke, and see how
the Lord dealt with him. He was a thief, and the worst kind of a
thief, or else they would not have punished him by crucifixion. Yet
Christ not only saved him, but took him up with Himself into glory.

Let us look at Christ hanging on the cross between the two thieves.
The Scribes and Pharisees wagged their heads, and jeered at Him. His
disciples had fled. Only His mother and one or two other women
remained in sight to cheer Him with their presence among all the
crowd of enemies. Hear those spiteful Pharisees mocking among
themselves: "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." The account
also says that the two thieves "cast the same in his teeth."


REVILING.

The first thing we read, then, of this man is that he was a reviler
of Christ.

You would think that he would be doing something else at such a time
as that; but hanging there in the midst of torture, and certain to
be dead in a few hours, instead of confessing his sins and preparing
to meet that God whose law he had broken all his life, he is abusing
God's only Son. Surely, he cannot sink any lower, until he sinks
into hell!


UNDER CONVICTION.

The next time we hear of him, he appears to be under conviction:

"And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying,
If thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering
rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the
same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due
reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss."

What do you suppose made so great a change in this man in these few
hours? Christ had not preached a sermon, had given him no
exhortation. The darkness had not yet come on. The earth had not
opened her mouth. The business of death was going on undisturbed.
The crowd was still there, mocking and hissing and wagging the head.
Yet this man, who in the morning was railing at Christ, is now
confessing his sins and rebuking the other thief. "We indeed
justly!" No miracle had been wrought before his eyes. No angel from
heaven had come to place a glittering crown upon His head in place
of the bloody crown of thorns.

What was it wrought such a change in him?

I will tell you what I think it was. I think it was the Savior's
prayer:

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I seem to hear the thief


TALKING TO HIMSELF

in this way:

"What a strange kind of man this must be! He claims to be king of
the Jews, and the superscription over His cross says the same. But
what sort of a throne is this! He says He is the Son of God. Why
does not God send down His angels and destroy all these people who
are torturing His Son to death? If He has all power now, as He used
to have when He worked those miracles they talked about, why does He
not bring out His vengeance, and sweep all these wretches into
destruction? I would do it in a minute if I had the power. I
wouldn't spare any of them. I would open the earth and swallow them
up! But this man prays to God to forgive them! Strange, strange! He
_must_ be different from us. I am sorry I said one word against Him
when they first hung us up here.

What a difference there is between Him and me! Here we are, hanging
on two crosses, side by side; but all the rest of our lives we have
been far enough apart. I have been robbing and murdering, and He has
been feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and raising the dead. Now
these people are railing at us both! I begin to believe He must be
the Son of God; for surely no man could forgive his enemies like
that."

Yes, that prayer of Christ's did what the scourge could not do. This
man had gone through his trial, he had been beaten, he had been
nailed to the cross; but his heart had not been subdued, he had
raised no cry to God, he was not sorry for his sins. Yet, when he
heard the Savior praying for His murderers, that


BROKE HIS HEART.

It flashed into this thief's soul that Jesus was the Son of God, and
that moment he rebuked his companion, saying:

"Dost thou not fear God?"

The fear of God fell upon him. There is not much hope of a man's
being saved until the fear of God comes upon him. Solomon says, "The
fear of God is the beginning of wisdom."

We read in Acts that great fear fell upon the people; that was the
fear of the Lord. That was the first sign that conviction had
entered the soul of the thief. "Dost thou not fear God?" That was
the first sign we have of life springing up.


CONFESSING.

Next, he confessed his sins: "We indeed justly." He took his place
among sinners, not trying to justify himself.

A man may be very sorry for his sins, but if he doesn't confess
them, he has no promise of being forgiven. Cain felt badly enough
over his sins, but he did not confess. Saul was greatly tormented in
mind, but he went to the witch of Endor instead of to the Lord.
Judas felt so bad over the betrayal of his Master that he went out
and hanged himself; but he did not confess to God. True, he went and
confessed to the priests, saying, "I have sinned in that I have
betrayed innocent blood"; but it was of no use to confess to them
--they could not forgive him.

How different is the case of this penitent thief! He confessed his
sins, and Christ had mercy on him there and then.

The great trouble is, people are always trying to make out that they
are not sinners, that they have nothing to confess. Therefore, there
is no chance of reaching them with the Gospel. There is no hope for
a man who folds his arms and says: "I don't think God will punish
sin; I am going to take the risk." There is no hope for a man until
he sees that he is under just condemnation for his sins and
shortcomings. God never forgives a sinner until he confesses.


JUSTIFYING CHRIST.

The next thing, he justifies Christ: "This Man hath done nothing
amiss."

When men are talking against Christ, they are a great way from
becoming Christians. Now he says, "He hath done nothing amiss."
There was the world mocking him; but in the midst of it all, you can
hear that thief crying out:

"This Man hath done nothing amiss."


FAITH.

The next step is faith.

Talk about faith! I think this is about the most extraordinary case
of faith in the Bible. Abraham was the father of the faithful; but
God had him in training for twenty-five years. Moses was a man of
faith; but he saw the burning bush, and had other evidences of God.
Elijah had faith; but see what good reason he had for it. God took
care of him, and fed him in time of famine. But here was a man who
perhaps had never seen a miracle; who had spent his life among
criminals; whose friends were thieves and outlaws; who was now in
his dying agonies in the presence of a crowd who were rejecting and
reviling the Son of God. His disciples, who had heard His wonderful
words, and witnessed His mighty works, had forsaken Him; and perhaps
the thief knew this. Peter had denied Him with oaths and cursing;
and perhaps this had been told the thief. Judas had betrayed Him. He
saw no glittering crown upon His brow; only the crown of thorns. He
could see no sign of His kingdom. Where were His subjects? And yet,
nailed to the cross, racked with pain in every nerve, overwhelmed
with horror, his wicked soul in a tempest of passion, this poor
wretch managed to lay hold on Christ and trust Him for a swift
salvation. The faith of this thief, how it flashes out amid the
darkness of Calvary! It is one of the most astounding instances of
faith in the Bible!

When I was a boy I was a poor speller. One day there came a word to
the boy at the head of the class which he couldn't spell, and none
of the class could spell it. I spelled it; by good luck; and I went
from the foot of the class to the head. So the thief on the cross
passed by Abraham, Moses and Elijah, and went to the head of the
class. He said unto Jesus:

"Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom."

Thank God for such a faith! How refreshing it must have been to
Christ to have one own Him as Lord, and believe in His kingdom, at
that dark hour! How this thief's heart goes out to the Son of God!
How glad he would be to fall on his knees at the foot of the cross,
and pour out his prayer! But this he cannot do. His hands and feet
are nailed fast to the wood, but they have not nailed his eyes and
his tongue and his heart. He can at least turn his head and look
upon the Son of God, and his breaking heart can go out in love to
that One who was dying for him and dying for you and me, and he can
say:

"Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."


WHAT A CONFESSION

of Christ that was! He called Him "Lord." A queer Lord! Nails
through His hands and feet, fastened to the cross. A strange throne!
Blood trickling down His face from the scars made by the crown of
thorns. But He was all the more "Lord" because of this.

Sinner, call Him "Lord" now. Take your place as a poor condemned
rebel, and cry out:

"Lord, remember me!"

That isn't a very long prayer, but it will prevail. You don't have
to add--"when Thou comest into Thy kingdom," because Christ is now
at His Father's right hand. Three words; a chain of three golden
links that will bind the sinner to his Lord.

Some people think they must have a form of prayer, a prayer-book,
perhaps, if they are going to address the Throne of Grace properly;
but what could that poor fellow do with a prayer-book up there,
hanging on the cross, with both hands nailed fast? Suppose it had
been necessary for some priest or minister to pray for him, what
could he do? Nobody is there to pray for him, and yet he is going to
die in a few hours. He is out of reach of help from man, but God has
laid help upon One who is mighty, and that One is close at hand. He
prayed out of the heart. His prayer was short, but it brought the
blessing. It came to the point: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest
into Thy kingdom." He asked the Lord to give him, right there and
then, what he wanted.


THE ANSWERED PRAYER.

Now consider the answer to his prayer. He got more than he asked,
just as every one does who asks in faith. He only asked Christ to
"remember" him; but Christ answered:

"To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise!"

Immediate blessing--promise of fellowship--eternal rest; this is the
way Christ answered his prayer.


DARKNESS.

And now darkness falls upon the earth. The sun hides itself. Worse
than all, the Father hides His face from His Son. What else is the
meaning of that bitter cry:

"My God! my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Ah! It had been written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a
tree." Jesus was made a curse for us. God cannot look upon sin: and
so when even His own Son was bearing our sins in His body, God could
not look upon Him.

I think this is what bore heaviest upon the Savior's heart in the
garden when He prayed:

"If it be possible, let this cup pass from me."

He could bear the unfaithfulness of His friends, the spite of His
enemies, the pain of His crucifixion, and the shadow of death; He
could bear all these; but when it came to the hiding of His Father's
face, that seemed almost too much for even the Son of God to bear.
But even this He endured for our sins; and now the face of God is
turned back to us, whose sins had turned it away, and looking upon
Jesus, the sinless One, He sees us in Him.

In the midst of all His agony, how sweet it must have been to Christ
to hear that poor thief confessing Him!

He likes to have men confess Him. Don't you remember His asking
Peter, "Whom do men say that I am?" and when Peter answered, "Some
people say you are Moses, some people say you are Elias, and some
people say you are one of the old Prophets," He asked again, "But,
Peter, whom do _you_ say I am?" When Peter said, "Thou art the Son
of God," Jesus blessed him for that confession. And now this thief
confesses Him--confesses Him in the darkness. Perhaps it is so dark
he cannot see Him any longer; but he feels that He is there beside
him. Christ wants us to confess Him in the dark as well as in the
light; when it is hard as well as when it is easy. For He was not
ashamed of us, but bore our sins and carried our sorrows, even unto
death.

When a prominent man dies, we are anxious, to get his last words and
acts.


THE LAST ACT OF THE SON OF GOD

was to save a sinner. That was a part of the glory of His death. He
commenced His ministry by saving sinners, and ended it by saving
this poor thief. "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the
lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives
of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible
shall be delivered." He took this captive from the jaws of death. He
was on the borders of hell, and Christ snatched him away.

No doubt Satan was saying to himself: "I shall have the soul of that
thief pretty soon. He belongs to me. He has been mine all these
years."

But in his last hours the poor wretch cried out to the Lord, and He
snapped the fetters that bound his soul, and set him at liberty. He
threw him a passport into heaven. I can imagine, as the soldier
drove his spear into our Savior's side, there came flashing into the
mind of the thief the words of the prophet Zechariah:

"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David,
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness."

You see, in the conversion of this thief, that


SALVATION IS DISTINCT AND SEPARATE FROM WORKS.

Some people tell us we have to work to be saved. What has the man
who believes that to say about the salvation of this thief? How
could he work, when he was nailed to the cross?

He took the Lord at His word, and believed. It is with the heart men
believe, not with their hands or feet. All that is necessary for a
man to be saved is to believe with his heart. This thief made a good
confession. If he had been a Christian fifty years, he could not
have done Christ more service there than he did. He confessed Him
before the world; and for nineteen hundred years that confession has
been told. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all recorded it. They felt
it so important that they thought we should have it.

See how


SALVATION IS SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM ALL ORDINANCES

--not but that ordinances are right in their place.

Many people think it is impossible for any one to get into the
kingdom of God if he is not baptized into it. I know people who were
greatly exercised because little children died unbaptized. I have
seen them carry the children through the streets because the pastor
could not come. I don't want you to think I am talking against
ordinances. Baptism is right in its place; but when you put it in
the place of salvation, you put a snare in the way. You cannot
baptize men into the kingdom of God. The last conversion before
Christ perished on the cross ought to forever settle that question.
If you tell me a man cannot get into Paradise without being
baptized, I answer, This thief was not baptized. If he had wanted to
be baptized, I don't believe he could have found a man to baptize
him.

I have known people who had sick relatives, and because they could
not get a minister to come to their house and administer the
sacrament, they were distressed and troubled. Now, I am not saying
anything against the ordinance by which we commemorate the death of
our Lord, and remember His return. God forbid! But let me say that
it is not necessary for salvation. I might die and be lost before I
could get to the Lord's table; but if I get to the Lord I am saved.
Thank God, salvation is within my reach always, and I have to wait
for no minister. This poor thief certainly never partook of the
sacrament. Was there a man on that hill that would have had faith to
believe he was saved? Would any church to-day have received him into
membership? He had not to wait for this. The moment he asked life,
our Savior gave it.

Baptism is one thing; the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is another
thing; and salvation through Christ is quite another thing. If we
have been saved through Christ, let us confess Him by baptism, let
us go to His table, and do whatever else He bids. But let us not
make stumbling-blocks out of these things.

That is what I call sudden conversion--men calling on God for
salvation and getting it. You certainly won't get it unless you call
for it, and unless you take it when He offers it to you. If you want
Christ to remember you--to save you--call upon Him.


TWO SIDES.

The cross of Christ divides all mankind. There are only two sides,
those for Christ, and those against Him. Think of the two thieves;
from the side of Christ one went down to death cursing God, and the
other went to glory.

What a contrast! In the morning he is led out, a condemned criminal;
in the evening he is saved from his sins. In the morning he is
cursing; in the evening he is singing hallelujahs with a choir of
angels. In the morning he is condemned by men as not fit to live on
earth; in the evening he is reckoned good enough for heaven. In the
morning nailed to the cross; in the evening in the Paradise of God,
crowned with a crown he should wear through all the ages. In the
morning not an eye to pity; in the evening washed and made clean in
the blood of the Lamb. In the morning in the society of thieves and
outcasts; in the evening Christ is not ashamed to walk arm-in-arm
with him down the golden pavements of the eternal city.

The thief was


THE FIRST MAN TO ENTER PARADISE

after the veil of the Temple was rent. If we could look up yonder,
and catch a glimpse of the throne, we would see the Father there,
and Jesus Christ at His right hand; and hard by we would see that
thief. He is there to-day. Nineteen hundred years he has been there,
just because he cried in faith:

"Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."

You know Christ died a little while before the thief. I can imagine
that He wanted to hurry home to get a place ready for His new
friend, the first soul brought from the world He was dying to
redeem. The Lord loved him because he confessed Him in that dark
hour. It was a dark hour for many who reviled the Savior. You have
heard of the child who did not want to die and go to heaven because
he didn't know anybody there. But the thief would have one
acquaintance. I can imagine how his soul leaped within him when he
saw the spear thrust into our Savior's side, and heard the cry:

"It is finished!"

He wanted to follow Christ. He was in a hurry to be gone, when they
came to break his legs. I can hear the Lord calling:

"Gabriel, prepare a chariot. Make haste. There is a friend of mine
hanging on that cross. They are breaking his legs. He will soon be
ready to come. Make haste, and bring him to me?"

The angel in the chariot swept down from heaven, took the soul of
that penitent thief, and hastened back to glory. The gates of the
city swung wide open, and the angels shouted welcome to this poor
sinner who had been washed white in the blood of the Lamb.

And that, my friends, is just what Christ wants to do for you. That
is the business on which He came down from heaven. That is why He
died. And if He gave such a swift salvation to this poor thief on
the cross, surely He will give you the same if, like the penitent
thief, you repent, and confess, and trust in the Savior.

Somebody says that this man "was saved at the eleventh hour." I
don't know about that. It might have been the first hour with him.
Perhaps he never knew of Christ until he was led out to die beside
Him. This may have been the very first time he ever had a chance to
know the Son of God.

How many of you gave your hearts to Christ the very first time He
asked them of you? Are you not farther along in the day than even
that poor thief?

Some years ago, in one of the mining districts of England, a young
man attended one of our meetings and refused to go from the place
till he had found peace in the Savior. The next day he went down
into the pit, and the coal fell in upon him. When they took him out
he was broken and mangled, and had only two or three minutes of life
left in him. His friends gathered about him, saw his lips moving,
and, bending down to catch his words, heard him say:

"It was a good thing I settled it last night."

Settle it now, my friends, once for all. Begin now to confess your
sins, and pray the Lord to remember you. He will make you an heir of
His kingdom, if you will accept the gift of salvation. He is just
the same Savior the thief had. Will you not cry to Him for mercy?

 .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

   A cross,--and one who hangs thereon, in sight
   Of heaven and earth.

                         The cruel nails are fast
   In trembling hands and feet, the face is white
   And changed with agony, the failing head
   Is drooping heavily; but still again,
   And yet again, the weary eyes are raised
   To seek the face of One who hangeth pale
   Upon another cross. He hears no shrill
   And taunting voices of the crowd beneath,
   He marks no cruel looks of all that gaze
   Upon the woeful sight. He sees alone
   That face upon the cross. Oh, long, long look,
   That searcheth there the deep and awful things
   Which are of God!

                        In his first agony
   And horror he had joined with them that spake
   Against the Lord, the Lamb, who gave Himself
   That day for us. But when he met the look
   Of those calm eyes,--he paused that instant; pale
   And trembling, stricken to the heart, and faint
   At sight of Him.
      .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

                                    At length
   The pale, glad lips have breathed the trembling prayer,
   "_O Lord, remember me!_" The hosts of God
   With wistful angel-faces, bending low
   Above their dying King, were surely stirred
   To wonder at the cry. Not one of all
   The shining host had dared to speak to Him
   In that dread hour of woe, when Heaven and Earth
   Stood trembling and amazed. Yet, lo! the voice
   Of one who speaks to Him, who dares to pray,
   "_O Lord, remember me!_" A sinful man
   May make his pitiful appeal to Christ,
   The sinner's Friend, when angels dare not speak.
   And sweetly from the dying lips that day
   The answer came.

                          Oh, strange and solemn joy
   Which broke upon the fading face of him
   Who there received the promise: "_Thou shalt be_
   _In Paradise this night, this night, with Me_."

      .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

                           O Christ, the King!
   We also wander on the desert-hills,
   Though haunted by Thy call, returning sweet
   At morn and eve. We will not come to Thee
   Till Thou hast nailed us to some bitter cross,
   And _made_ us look on Thine, and driven at last
   To call on Thee with trembling and with tears.--
   Thou lookest down in love, upbraiding not,
   And promising the kingdom!

      .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

                          A throne,--and one
   Who kneels before it, bending low in new
   And speechless joy.

                          It is the night on earth.
   The shadows fall like dew upon the hills
   Around the Holy City, but above,
   Beyond the dark vale of the sky, beyond
   The smiling of the stars, they meet once more
   In peace and glory. Heaven is comforted,--
   For that strange warfare is accomplished now,
   Her King returned with joy: and one who watches
   The far-off morning in a prison dim,
   And hung at noonday on the bitter cross,
   Is kneeling at His feet, and tasteth now
   The sweet, sweet opening of an endless joy.





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