He is Able
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb. vii. 25.
Sometimes when you have started to read a story book you have noticed that in the early chapters there have been characters which were quite prominent; as you went on through the volume those characters simply dropped away from your notice, but as you neared the conclusion of the book, those same characters came back with all the more force on account of their seeming absence. Now, if that should be the way with the text tonight; if you lose sight of it for a little while, do not think the preacher has. It will appear again, if you do lose sight of it for a little while. It is an old text, one that has been preached from, I suppose, by nearly every holiness preacher in the land; but the Book tells us that no Scripture is of private interpretation; and the Holy Ghost has a peculiarity of revealing certain truths to each individual, and I trust He will give us something new tonight.
Now, before looking at the text, there are two or three propositions that we want to place before you for your prayerful consideration. The first proposition I am quite sure every one, not only on this platform, but in this audience, will agree to; that is, that some time, somewhere, and somehow, we must all stand before God. For a proof of my proposition, I cite you to 2nd Corinthians the 5th chapter and 10th verse, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Brother, those are not my words, but they are God’s words. That means, sir, that if there is a licentious man here, you have got to appear before the judgment bar of God Almighty, and be a partaker of your damnable uncleanness, and spend eternity with those of your kind There are people here who have been in the habit of misrepresenting things who have been guilty of lying; this verse means that you must come before the judgment bar of God and be a partaker of your sin, and go to Hell and spend everlasting eternity with your own kind. If there is a young girl in this room tonight who has been in the habit of telling what she is pleased to call “little white lies,” misrepresenting things to her parents, let me inform you that there was no lie ever told that was white. The simplest misrepresentation you ever made is just as black a lie as Hell ever hatched. If there is a girl here tonight who has asked her mother the privilege of stepping down the street a few minutes; if she knew that, if her mother was aware of the company she would be in she would not let her go, she misrepresented the case, she lied to her mother, and, unless she finds something that will forever take away that damnable lie, she will have to go up before the judgment bar of the Great White Throne and be a partaker of that falsehood, and spend eternity in a burning Hell. If there is a man here that has been guilty of stealing anything, no matter how small a thing it may have been, if he does not make it right, he will have to go to the judgment bar and there be judged and sent to Hell with all the thieves in the universe. That young man sitting there who has taken the name of God in vain, must repent of his sin or come up to the judgment and be sent to Hell with all the swearers that ever lived. If there is an adulterer here, let me inform you that you must repent and get out of your adultery, or you will spend an eternity in Hell with the adulterers of this godless and Christless age. Each will find his own class or kind and go to Hell to dwell with them. Jesus Christ preached this truth when He was here upon earth, and He preached it so plainly that any way-faring man might see it.
If you will turn with me to the 13th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and read the parable of the tares, you will find that after the good seed had been sown, while men slept, an enemy came and sowed tares; and when the good seed was sprung up and had come to the blade and brought forth fruit, the tares also appeared. The Servants came to their master and asked him if they should go and pluck up the tares, but he said, “No, let them grow together until the harvest, when I will send my reapers to gather the tares into bundles and burn them.” It says so in the Book. Why gather them up into bundles? That they may be burned. That means, sir, that if you have been guilty of sensuality, you will be bound up with those of your own class and character. It means if you have been dishonest, no matter in how little things if you have taken little things from somebody else’s cupboard or table, you have been dishonest; if you have taken that which did not belong to you, however small it might have been, you belong to the class of thieves. It means that that boy who has taken five cents of the change when shopping for his mother, without her knowledge; that girl who slips a few pennies away when she goes to market; it means that unless they repent, they will be bound up in bundles with those who have stolen greater things, the thieves of all classes and all kinds, to be burned. It takes in the liars, little and big, — I beg your pardon, there is no lie small or white; every lie that has been told is as black as Hell. If you have been guilty, you might as well get your grave clothes ready, for God Almighty is on your track. It means for all sinners of every kind and class to be bound up in bundles at the end of the age.
If you will read this chapter carefully, you will find the word “world” has been used with two different meanings. According to the King James’ translation, it would seem that this time of gathering up the tares and biding them in bundles would be put off until this old world and all there is in it shall be burned up; but the word “world” springs from two Greek words. One is kosmos, which means the world; the other is aion, which means the age. If you will read carefully, you will see that it is in the completion of this age, singular number, not plural; in the completion or end of the age, the Lord will send His reapers. The disciples could not understand this parable of the tares, so they came to Jesus for an explanation, and He told them that this should take place at the end of the world, or rather at the end of the age.
I have met some preachers who said the field was the church, hence their excuse for not having a house cleaning and turning of their church the members who drank whiskey, played cards, ran to the race tracks, played progressive euchre in their private gambling homes, etc. Their excuse for not drawing the lines of their creed and bearing down upon such members and turning them out was that the field was the church, and Jesus said, “Let them grow together.” But the field is not the church. Jesus said, “The field is the world.” The word He used there for the world is the word kosmos, and did not mean the trees and the rocks, the sea and the ground. He used the same word that John used when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” The rocks, the sea and the land that compose the world do not commit sin, and Jesus Christ did not die to cleanse them from sin. He means the people that go to make up this great world. “The field is the world” — kosmos — the great human family. “The field is the world and the good seed are the children of the kingdom,” God’s own people; men and women who have been born from above. The tares are sinners, the children of the devil. Every tare is a sinner; every sinner is a tare. Every unregenerated being in this room tonight is a tare, a child of the devil, growing with the wheat until the end of the world — not kosmos here, but aion — the end of the age. If you will turn to Revelation xiv. 15 you will find where the angel cried with a loud voice saying, “Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time is come for thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” The Son of God is going to thrust in His sickle and reap, and He is going to tell His angels to bind the tares in bundles to burn them.
“At the end of the age.” What age? Why, the age in which they were then living. The Gospel age. Nearly two thousand years ago it came on in its pale moonlight under the preaching of John the Baptist, and the glory grew brighter as Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, came “with healing in his wings,” and on Pentecost it grew so bright that a poor, benighted sinner might find his way without the blood of bulls and goats or the ashes of an heifer, or the prayers or intervention of a priest — might find his way back to God, back to Heaven, back to glory Thank God, we are in that age yet.
Turn to 1st Corinthians, 10th chapter. Paul, in writing to the church, said, “I would not that ye should be ignorant how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” This is positive proof that their crossing the Red Sea stood for a type of regeneration. When they crossed the sea, they came out of bondage. But he goes on and says they did not all get into Canaan, and told the reason why. He says, “These things happened unto them for ensamples and were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.”
If Paul realized, nineteen hundred years ago, that he was in the last age, great God, help us to see how much nearer we are to the end flow! Oh, sir, we are driving on! If they spoke that way away back eighteen or nineteen hundred years ago, how much nearer the end of the age we must be! I was thinking this morning, how some of these days you are going to wake up and find some of us gone. I said to my wife when I kissed her good-bye, “Good-bye, mamma; if I don’t see you here again, we will meet just over the tree tops.”
Without holiness, without sanctification, no man shall see the Lord. It is a subject I like to preach about. It is a theme that does my soul good. When I go to bed I say, “Lord Jesus, if you call before morning, be sure and wake me up, so I will catch the early morning train. I have my ticket, and am all ready.” And the first thing in the morning I say, “Lord, you did not call last night; help me to walk today so that if you should call before night, I should not fail to hear nor be ashamed to go.”
I have given you the proof of the first proposition, that some time, somewhere and somehow, we must all come before the Lord.
My second proposition you may not fall in with quite so quickly. It is that there are two ways of coming before God. Mark you, I did not say there are two acceptable mediums, but there are two ways of coming before God. This is laid down very clearly in the Book. Going away back down to the time when Joseph was in a state of perplexity, not hardly knowing what to do, the angel said, “Fear not, Joseph, it is all right to take unto thee Mary to wife, . . . she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.” Why? “For he shall save his people from their sins.” Well, who are “his people?” Well, sir, that woman who takes more time arranging her hair than she does saying her prayers, is not a child of God; that man who thinks more of his gold and silver than he does of the salvation of his children, he is not a child of God; that proud, fashionable, worldly church member is not a child of God. Only those belong to God’s family who have been born into it. You cannot “join” it. Until that supernatural birth takes place, until we renounce everything that is sinful and wrong, until God can see in our hearts an earnest desire and willingness to just let Him have His way with us, we cannot become members of His family. Conversion means to turn around, and until a man turns around, with his back to the world and his face towards Jesus, he is not converted. If you have not given up your sins, I want to look you in the face and tell you upon the authority of God’s Word that every time you profess to be a child of God you actually lie, and you cannot find God until you give up everything that is worldly and sinful.
Some one said to me, “Did you hear that preacher preach down at our church?” “No.” “Well, he has the Holy Ghost.” “Is that so?” “Yes, and he preaches lovely. Don’t you want to hear him?” “No.” “Well, why?” “Because, a neighbor of his told me that he spends nearly all the time sitting on his back porch with a nasty, dirty old pipe in his mouth, smoking something that a hog or a dog would not touch, and I do not believe the man is saved.” I want to say further that I have not got a cent of money, not one solitary copper, to help support a man who stands in the pulpit to preach, and then goes out to practice a dirty, filthy habit like that. We have a lot of people who come to holiness camp-meetings and hurrah and sing, “My all is on the altar,” and say they will do this and do that and do the other, and then when they get home, they will draw back and go to supporting a nasty, dirty, tobacco-using preacher, and say they have got the blessing. No, you have not! If this thing gets too hot for you, there is a door right there at the side. May God Almighty help us! Brother Hills, you are to blame for about half of this. When you placed into my hands that little book of your, “Tobacco Vice,” it set me to digging. Bless God for all the blessing it has been to me! You can buy that booklet on this camp-ground for fifteen cents, and, listen! I dare any man in this audience, whether he is a saint or a sinner, to read that little book through and say that it is neither wrong nor criminal to use tobacco.
Some time ago, at a convention of the Anti-Tobacco Society in London, there were gathered together above six hundred physicians, and during one of the sessions, the question was asked from the platform if there was any one present who did not believe the use of tobacco to be harmful. A gentleman, apparently about fifty years of age, arose and stated that he had used it nearly all his life and that he did not believe it to be harmful. He was asked how he used it, and replied that he took about three chews a day. He was asked to the platform, and on being requested, took out his plug and cut off three pieces, each being the size of one chew. A second request was made for a young man, who on his honor could state that he did not know the use of the stuff, to rise, and a young man, about twenty-four years of age, arose. On being asked to the platform, he was offered $20 in gold if he would stand up before the audience and chew one of the pieces. He consented to do so, and on being examined by the doctors and pronounced to be in excellent condition, he took one of the pieces and began chewing it. A cuspidor was set out for him. He only chewed a little until he began to show signs of the effect of the drug and got what the boys call “pale about the gills,” white around the corners of his mouth. In a few moments he was stretched out on the floor, too sick to raise his head. The poison in the one chew did its deadly work. Another piece was taken, and after being put into a compress and the juice being squeezed out, it was placed on the tongue of a large male cat, and the animal was in convulsions in five minutes. A pipe was secured from some one in the audience and the bowl screwed off and the drops of juice that had settled in the bottom of the bowl taken out and placed on the tongue of a dog, and the canine was dead in a few minutes.
Do you tell me that it is not wrong to use such stuff? Those physicians stated that if it was not for the pure blood of the mothers, the children of tobacco-using fathers would be groveling idiots in the asylum by the third or fourth generation. My boy has a right to be born right, and if I knowingly take into my system that which is poison and transmit it into his system, I am no better than a murderer. Every man, woman and child has a moral right to God’s pure air, and the man who poisons the water I drink is no greater criminal than the man who poisons the air I have to breathe. You have no legal right this side of Heaven to do this, and when you do, you are a criminal in the sight of God. Do you mean to tell me that a man who is a criminal can stand up in the pulpit as God’s chosen instrument, to break the bread of life to the people ? No, sir! Away with such doctrine! He cannot go to Heaven with the damnable stuff, and if he does not get rid of it, he will go to Hell. I could go into a saloon and buy a drink of whiskey to ease up the awful burning thirst, to quench the fire in the very bones of a poor old bum, to tide him over a spell of the delirium tremens, with ten times more grace, and expect God to bless me in so doing, than I could give ten cents of my money that I say is all consecrated to God, to a man standing in the pulpit, posing as Christ’s representative, and still a slave to such dirty poison as tobacco is. I know of a town where three out of five of its present ministers are tobacco users, and I know it to be a fact that many of their members once knew God and some of them had given up the use of the dirty weed, but today they are backslidden and away from God, back to their filthy habits, and the young people of those churches laugh and slur at holiness or the people who profess it. No, sir! not one penny have I for such preachers. My money is consecrated to God, and I dare not give it to the devil and expect God to bless me. I could not do it and retain my experience.
God’s child is a clean child; God’s man is a clean man. There is only one thing wrong with a converted man; there is only one thing about him that is not right in God’s sight, and that is that he has inbred sin. There is not a wrong thing in his actions. The first time he gets mad, he backslides; the first time he swears, he backslides. You say you lived an up-and-down life so long. Well, when you were down, you were not justified. A justified life is a victorious life. When God justifies a man, he goes; he has power. This namby-pamby stuff that says a man must have the second work of grace in order to break from his appetites is false. God bless your soul, the first work of grace will clean you up. Will I ever forget the struggle I had for ten nights? Will I ever forget the faces of those two preachers who used tobacco? I was trying to give it up, but something kept saying, “The preachers use it,” and it came near sending me to Hell. But I promised God I would give it up, and I did not get saved until I did give it up. God bless your soul, when I was saved, the swearing went, the tobacco went, the whiskey went, the card table went, the theater went, the dance went, the whole business went. When I gave it all up, the Lord saved me, and made me a child of His, and I was at peace. “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter, when he stood up before the Sanhedrin, that great big official board, said “There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we can be saved.” The angel, in announcing the coming Messiah, said, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” John iii. i6, 17, “For God so loved the world (not the age) that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
There are two kinds of belief, head belief and heart belief. Head belief professes; heart belief practices. One makes a profession; the other lives what he has in his heart. One has religion, but the other has salvation. Mr. Webster’s definition of religion is, in substance, that it is the outward part of a man’s life, his actions, his belief in a creed or in a God in whose hands is his destiny. Salvation is that which delivers a man from the thralldom of sin. Dr. Livingstone found a woman throwing her body upon the burning funeral pile in the midst of darkest Africa, that her spirit might be united with her husband’s spirit. she believed in religion. Go, sir, if you please, and visit the graves of the North American Indians and see their funeral processions; they have a way of putting vessels of food on the graves to feed the soul of the departing warrior on its flight to the “happy hunting grounds.” They believe in religion. Brother Stalker tells how men in India will measure their length upon the ground for thirty or forty miles to get to a god of stone, in the hope that when they get there they may get a clean heart; putting into activity what they believe.
Some time ago, we were holding a meeting in the city of Leadville, that city of the clouds, where the courthouse threshold is 12,050 feet above the level of the sea. One night we were preaching on the “Uncertainty of Life and the Certainty of Death, and after that the Judgment.’ We were on the last part and warning the people to be saved and escape Hell, when a young man, who was standing up with his back against the wall, spoke out interrupting me, saying, “Mr. Preacher, we don’t take any stock in that kind of stuff up here; we are too near the clouds. We believe in Jesus, that He was the Son of God, and all that; we believe in Heaven and like to hear you preach about it; but we do not take any stock in your Hell theory. We don’t care for that sort of stuff up here: we are too near Heaven.” I replied, “Young man, there will come a time when you will believe in it. I would not stand in your shoes for all the ground Leadville is built upon.”
He got angry and wished to do me harm, but I met him out in the vestibule after the meeting, and he put it off for a more convenient season. I did my best to warn him, but he went away angry. A day or two after, he got his feet wet, caught cold and took pneumonia. They told me that often men who were strong and well, taking pneumonia, were placed in their coffins in less than sixty hours afterwards. Well, this young man took the disease and was in bed. A young man was nursing him. The doctor on one of his visits asked of the nurse, “Who is he, and where are his parents?” “They live in St. Louis.” The doctor shook his head. “I am afraid for him. The disease has a great hold on him and it will go hard. It will all be over long before his parents can reach him, I am afraid.” The nurse told the sick man what the doctor had said, and immediately he wanted to see the physician, who returned soon, bringing another with him. The young man was still conscious, and while he could only speak in a low, hoarse whisper, yet he began pleading with the doctor: “Don’t let me die. Doctor, I must not die. Doctor, I am unprepared to die. Oh, doctor, father is a wealthy man, and he will make it worth much to you to save me. Doctor, I would be damned! I would!” And he went on raving that way until he lost his mind, or lost consciousness. He believed in his head, but be did not believe in his heart. He had a form, but knew nothing about real, genuine, heartfelt, supernatural, religion, consequently, was on the way to Hell with the kind of religion he had.
How shall we get it? “If we confess our sins” — not sin, singular number; inbred sin is never spoken of in the plural number. Actual sin is spoken of in the plural number, while inbred sin is spoken of in the singular number. If we confess and forsake our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (the conjunction comes on there), and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Any school boy can tell you the difference between “cleanse” and “forgive.” If we confess, He is faithful and just to forgive us. He will do it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s first work of grace was in giving His Son. “With the heart,” says Paul, “man believeth unto righteousness.” He may have believed with his head, but when a man believes in his heart, that brings the first work of grace to the soul. God gave His Son for our pardon if we believe ; then, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The first work brings us over into the family of God’s own dear Son. We are God’s children.
We have found what God has alone, now we will find what Jesus did. In the fifth chapter of Ephesians we find that Jesus loved the church (Greek, ecclesia) the called-out people. The New Testament Church was composed of people who, in response to the call of the Holy Spirit. had come out of sin. I want you to see that point The church comprises the family of God; not a card-playing, theater-going, dancing, horse-racing, tobacco-soaked crowd. Jesus gave Himself for the church that He might cleanse the church and sanctify the church. The church is composed or souls who have come out of sin. I defy any Greek scholar to deny it. God help us to get the truth that Jesus gave Himself for the church that He might sanctify the church, that the church might be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. He is in the laundry business. He washes out the dirt and irons out the wrinkles.
The first way to come is the way laid down. The second way, either refuse it all or in part, just go in for part of the plan, get regenerated, then say, “I am not going to get sanctified.” Well, then you will go to Hell. The Book says, “Without sanctification no man shall see the Lord.” Heb. xii. 14 (Revised).
This thing called sin crept into the domain of God and robbed Him of one of His greatest angels, “Lucifer, the son of the morning.” He was one of the greatest archangels, but, when he sinned, God turned him out, and he took with him one-third of the angels of that beautiful city. You may set it down that God is never going to take you and me there if there is an iota of sin about us. If God rejected the angels who left their first estate, we will have to be made holy in order to enter Heaven.
Brother, you need to get sanctified in order to keep justified. I do believe that at least 95 per cent. of the people who do get converted, if they are not led into the experience of entire sanctification, backslide before they have been converted twelve months. You may think that a rather sweeping statement, but look at it a moment. The Book says that “he which is born of God doth not commit sin,” also that “he that committeth sin is of the devil.” According to that, no man can knowingly do that which he knows to be wrong without committing sin, and, if he commits sin, the Book says he is of the devil. Then he can’t be a child of God and of the devil at the same time. Impossible! You have but to keep your ears open in almost any testimony meeting and you will hear folks saying, “I know I am not perfect, for I know I do so many things that I ought not to do.” Well, sir, if you do that which you know to be wrong at the time you do it, then you are no better than any other sinner. Again, you will hear them say, “I leave so many things undone that I should do.” Listen to the old Book speak: “He that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, unto him it is sin.” Brother, you can neither do that which you know is wrong nor leave undone the things which you know you should do, and keep the smile of God on your soul. There it is in the Book. What are you going to do about it ? How long was it after you were converted before you did that which you should not have done, or left undone that which you know you should have done? Yes, sir, I believe that 95 per cent. of the folks that are not led on into the experience of entire sanctification backslide before twelve months. Some of them, no doubt, repent and get back to God, but the majority do not. The only safe way is to obey God, walk in the light, get sanctified wholly, and live true. We said in reference to this last proposition that there were two ways of coming to God for salvation; first, come God’s way; second, refuse to walk in the light, refuse to obey the Holy Ghost, reject any part of God’s plan and come up before the judgment and be judged, doomed and damned.
My third proposition is, that it is possible to be damned in coming the wrong way. To begin with, God tells us of His plan, that we should be saved to the uttermost. The fight against holiness dates away back thousands of years ago. We read in the Book of Numbers where Korah and his crowd rose up against Moses and said, “You make yourself more holy than we.” That is what they say to us these days. We have not said that, but we do say that the blood of Jesus has cleansed and does cleanse us from all sin. They said to Moses, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, . . . wherefore then lift ye yourselves up above the congregation of the Lord?”
There are men and women here today whose hearts are as black as the devil’s, whoremongers and adulterers. I have not the least doubt but that there are men here who have been dishonest in their business dealings, and who have old debts hanging over them which they do not intend to pay, and every time they go to shouting it sounds like an old cracked bell. A good case of repentance will put a fellow’s nose on his back track and make him straighten up. Yes, sir, you will have to do it. It kept my nose on the grindstone for a long time, but I got the last debt paid and got everything cleaned up. I do not owe any man in this universe a dollar or a penny that I know of.
What did Moses say? “We will prove who is holy; if you die a natural death, then God has not spoken.” Then he told the rest of the people to come away and separate themselves from those wicked people. I have taken the separation side. I do not propose to go with the old gang who are going to Hell. I do not propose to stay with the tobacco-chewing, whiskey-drinking, card-playing, worldly professors. The Holy Ghost comes and says, “Separate yourselves; come away from them.” Then what happened? The earth just split open and that crowd went down into the pit alive. Why, down here in Galveston, a few years ago, God sent faithful messengers who stood on the streets and warned the people of that wicked city, and told them that if they did not repent, God Almighty would visit that place with His judgments. They laughed and sneered; but some time afterward God just turned His hose on the city, and a few thousand of them went down to a watery grave.
Over there in Johnstown, a little band had gone up and down the streets and wept and prayed and plead with the people to turn to God, but they laughed and sneered and made light of the Gospel message; then the dam broke and thousands of them met their doom, and met it pretty quick.
Some missionaries, whom some of you know, told me that while down there in St. Pierre, at the foot of Mt. Peele, in the island of Martinique, they were running the only Full Gospel Mission that was ever on the island. They labored faithfully with the people, who laughed and scoffed, ridiculed and persecuted them until they went to the authorities, but were told that if they did not like the ways and laws of the place, they could leave. They remained until about a year before the trouble. God said it was enough. They left, but returned, passing through St. Pierre just a few days before the eruption took place. I was told by one of the missionaries that of all the godless, sensual places, that was beyond anything he had ever seen. It went on until they were going to crucify a pig on the very day that the eruption came. About noon God said they had gone far enough, and took off the top of one of His chimneys, and thirty or more thousand Christ-rejecters found real fire and found it quick. I was told that men who blasphemed the name of God lay on the decks of those warped and twisted vessels and cried for water, while their flesh, burned and scalded, was falling off. They cried for water, and while there was an ocean of it there, there was not a drop to drink. How much better off were they than the rich man who wanted a beggar to dip his finger in water and place it on his tongue?
You all remember the Chicago fire and the burning of the Iroquois Theatre. They say that there were several preachers there; went for a little innocent recreation. They found something they were not looking for; something that was not down on the bills. The play was a travesty on Lot’s wife. A woman representing a poor, fallen woman of the street went about on the stage asking for help. She went to Bluebeard, Junior, and, not getting it, they said send her to Hell. They raised a trap-door, and sent her down through the stage, but soon afterwards she was bounced up, clad in a fireman’s suit, with a placard on her back that she was not wanted. I have been told that the words were, “No room in Hell.” Some one said, “I wonder if there is a fire?” And just at that time the cry was made of “Fire! Fire!” and the flames broke forth and they found the real article, among them some of the preachers. They found the real thing. We can only hope they repented and found pardon in those awful moments.
Brother, I can prove to you in less than two minutes that fire can reach the soul. Put your hand on a red-hot stove. You jerk it off. Why? You say it burns you. Wait! Let your soul leave your body. Now place the hand on the stove again. It just lays there. Why don’t it jerk back as before? Ah! the soul that felt the pain has gone. If you think God cannot reach your soul with fire, you are badly mistaken. Go on in your worldliness and sin, make a profession of being a Christian if you choose, play your cards and go to the theater; but you will find, like those preachers in Chicago found, that you will be damned by coming to God in the wrong way. But you may ask, Why is it that God is so stern? Why? He is jealous of His plan of salvation. It cost Him the society of His Son; it cost Him the heart-breaking cries of Jesus; so if you try to come some other way than the way laid down in this old Book you will find you will be damned.
Some years before his death. some one asked Dr. Talmage “if God suffered with Christ on the cross, and if so, how,” and his answer will explain the point I am trying to make you see, namely, that God is so jealous of His plan of salvation that souls will be damned for trying to come to Him the wrong way. A large sailing vessel started from the other side of the ocean for a port on this side; among those on board was the captain’s only son, a lad of some twelve summers. The old captain’s heart was all wrapt up in the lad, and he was all the more precious because his mother was dead. The gallant old bark ploughed her way across the deep until the voyage was nearing the end, when they encountered a terrific storm. Day turned into night and the days went past without any letting up of the terrible storm. The sails were torn to threads and the masts all blown away, except one, which was partly broken off at the top; the rudder was disarranged and the compass lost. At the mercy of the wild waves, they drifted in the darkness until the sound of the waves breaking over the rocks sent a cry up from those on board, “We are lost! We are lost!” At a great effort the signal gun of distress was fired. Perhaps some of you know how the work is carried on in our life-saving stations. When a vessel is in distress, they fire a gun on board; the men at the station hearing the signal will answer, and, if it is dark, will signal for a light to be put up on board ship, so that her position can be seen; then a rocket with line attached is fired over her, the line falls across the ship, willing hands soon draw the life-line on board and the life car is soon at work. The signal went up to put up a light, and the captain called for volunteers to climb to the top of the broken mast, and make fast a light. The first mate did not volunteer, neither the second, nor any of the crew. Turning away with the words on his lips, “We are all lost,” what was his amazement when he heard the voice of his little son saying, “I’ll go father; I’ll put up the light.” Can you parents imagine what must have been his feelings, as he handed the lantern into the hand of his child? With a “God bless you, my son,” the boy started up the mast, which was covered with ice, and the vessel rolling and pitching in the heavy sea. It meant almost certain death for any one to undertake to go to the top. The little fellow went up a short distance and shouted back through the storm, “Father, I don’t believe I can make it; may I come back?” But the lives of all on board depended on the success of the effort. “Look up, my son, and go on,” shouted the father. A little further up and a second time he called back, “Father, my hands are too cold, I cannot go further; may I return?” But a second time the father cried, “Look up, my son, and go on.” Encouraged by his parent, the brave little fellow went up higher, but called back a third time, “Father, my hands are so numb and I am about to fall; I cannot go further. Please, may I come back?” But again the father shouted through the storm, “Look up, my son, and go on.” Can you imagine what must have been the feelings of that father as he heard the pleadings of his son? But it was life or death to all on board, and again he encouraged him, until the place was reached and the light made fast and the lad started to return. He had scarcely reached his father’s arms when the rocket was sent streaming across the sky, and soon the rattling of the line was heard as it fell across the vessel. Willing hands soon drew the life-line on board, which was soon followed by the life-boat, and all were rescued and taken ashore.
Nearly two thousand years ago, this old world was fast drifting on the rocks, and there went up a cry of distress to the great life-saving station of the skies. God heard the cry and called for volunteers; for some one to come down and hang up a light. There was no one but the Son of God who volunteered to come. His name was given to us as Jesus, and the first faint gleams of the light were seen hovering around a babe in a manger. It is true that not many saw that light, but there were a few shepherds and a few wise men from the East who saw the glimmer of the star and heard the choir from the skies. The light came on as the carpenter left his bench and tramped the shores of Galilee, healing the sick and restoring to the blind their sight. Crooked limbs were made straight, and the deaf were made to hear; the graves were unlocked, the funeral processions were halted, and the dead brought back to life. Think you the light was too dim for mortal man to see? Think you those of that day who saw and refused to come into that light will be able to find another acceptable way unto the harbor?
But look again. Tread softly! There! Do you see that form? There, yonder, kneeling down with his hands raised in supplication to his Father. Hark! hush! listen! He’s praying! How his voice trembles with emotion! What agony! Look there! Great drops of bloody sweat are oozing from his pale brow. Listen! “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. What does He mean, and who is He? Sir, it is the Son of God, pleading with His Father for strength to go on that terrible journey to the top of the cross to put up a light, that you might be saved from going down to an endless destruction. Hark! Do you hear that agonizing cry? Do you see those great drops of bloody sweat as they run down His face? Stop! Don’t you think the Father in Heaven saw those drops of blood and heard those pleading words from His only Son? Then you undertake to come to Him by some other way than the way laid down in His Word! You will find why you will be damned for coming the wrong way.
They have arrested Him now. There He goes, the Son of God, led away like a common criminal. See how they jostle Him about. They reach Pilate’s hall. He stands there surrounded by a howling mob. “Say, Pilate, this fellow is an impostor. He is going about trying to raise up the people against Caesar. He calls Himself the Son of God, and by our law He ought to die. He says He is a king. Well, let’s crown Him. Bring that briar vine over there; there, twist it up in a wreath. Ah! you impostor, you shall have a crown. There, that will do; jam it down on His head. That’s it. There, you devil, how do you like being crowned?” They get a robe and put it on Him, and they smite Him first or one side of the face and then on the other. Oh, my God in Heaven! Say, you sinner; you Christ-rejecter; you gay, proud child of the devil; you godless, Christless professor; you gay, card-playing, dancing church member; you who say you do not believe in a second work of grace; you who do not believe in sanctification; stop! Don’t open your mouths lest God strike you down with a lightning bolt from the skies. Do you not think that God in Heaven saw those thorns and those blows and the mockery that was made of His only Son? If not, go on in your devilish ways, and in time you will find out that you will be driven from the judgment bar, judged, doomed and damned for coming the wrong way.
But the trial is over. He has been condemned to die on the cross. They have started for the place of execution. There they go. See! They have laid the cross on Him, but He staggers beneath the load. Yes, He has lost some blood during the night and, with nothing to eat, perhaps, He is weak and faint. “But, say, He says He is the Son of God, and if so, He would have supernatural power, so let Him carry it. Make Him go on there.” What! He refuses to go as He staggers with the load? “Strike Him down with that ox-goad. Get up, you devil you! Get up there! You call yourself the Son of God. Get up and go on with your load.” Think you that the Father in Heaven failed to see His Son staggering beneath that cross? Think you He failed to see those cruel blows with the ox-goad? Then you try to come to Him in any other way than that laid down in His Word, and you will find that it is possible to be damned for coming the wrong way.
They reach the top of the hill, throw down the cross, and then stretch out that fainting form upon its frame. My God, men! What do you mean? That is a human being; nay, more, He is the Son of God! You must not drive those nails through His hands. “Stand back! He is an impostor. He calls Himself the Son of God. Drive the nails in!” Hark! With sickening thud the huge iron spikes are driven through His hands and the blood spurts upon the executioners. “Ah! nail Him fast; now the other hand; drive the nails well in. Cross His feet and drive the spike well in. There, raise the cross;” and as it reaches its position it drops with a thud into the hole in the rock dug for that purpose. “Ah I you devil you! You call yourself the Son of God; you saved others; now save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down off of the cross. What? He thirsts? “Get that sponge; dip it in the gall and jam it in the impostor’s mouth.” Oh, my God! Could men be so cruel? The Son of God, He who came to bring life, He who is the water of life, denied even a drop of water in His death. Hark! He is praying; His lips move. It is getting dark, and the sun refuses to shine on that awful deed perpetrated by men with the carnal mind in them. The same devilish, damnable thing that makes you hate, was the thing that crucified the Lord. See the blood as it runs in spider-like streams down His pale, white face from the crown of thorns that has been jammed down into His flesh. See the blood spurting from the nails in His hands and feet. Hark! He is praying. As the darkness grows darker, and as the sins of a lost world settle down on His uncovered head, even the face of God was turned away for a moment, and out of the gloom comes the cry from His lips, that pierces to the heart those who stand there, “My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?” Brother, do you think for a moment that that heart-breaking wail of His only Son failed to reach the ear and heart of the Father on the throne? Then you try to come up before Him some other way than the way laid down in the Word, and you will and that you will be eternally damned for coming the wrong way. You will find why God is jealous of His plan of salvation.
I have now reached my text; a few things concerning it and we are through.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb. Vii. 25. He is able. He picked me up; a drunken, wayward boy, breaking my father’s heart; soaked in whiskey and tobacco, sinful and bad. Oh, how my life has come up before me tonight. Thank God, if He was able to deliver me, brother, if your heart is as black as Hell, if you have been guilty of every sin in the catalogue, excepting the one against the Holy Ghost, Jesus will save you if you repent, and a second touch will take that damnable thing out of you that causes you to commit sin, and you can shine and shout and live for God. He is able to do it! He is able to do it!
Secondly. He ever lives. Brother, we have not a little Christ, but a great High Priest: the one who knocked the bottom out of that new tomb and burst the bands of death asunder and preached to the spirits in prison. He lives! He lives! And because He lives, I shall live also.
Third and last. He saves to the uttermost all that put their trust in Him. The Blood of Jesus can wash away the past. He can take your feet from the mire and clay, and send you out to live for Him, and some of these days He will invite you to come and live with Him. Some day if you are true to God, He will say, as He said to Enoch, “You are nearer My house than your own; come on and go home with Me.” That will be a great day. Glory! He can save to the uttermost. He took me, a poor, sinful boy; He took my feet from the mire and clay and put them upon a rock. Brother, He will deliver you. Sister, if you have Him when the coffin-box comes into the house, you can brush away your tears, and lean upon the Everlasting Arms; and when the waters of death begin to encircle your feet, you can look into His face and trust Him. When you come to the banks of the river, and put your feet in the stream, you will feel like that dying saint, dear old Mother Booth, whose last words were, “The waters are rising; so am I, I am not going under; I am going over.” Oh, glory to Jesus! “O grave, where is thy victory: O death, where is thy sting?” The angels will meet you over on the other shore and take you up the shining way. It will be the home-coming of a conqueror, and the bells of Heaven will ring the glad welcome. You will behold the innumerable company of the redeemed and the harpers standing upon the sea of glass. They will form a procession and lead you up the shining way, and Jesus will say to the Father, “Here is the one whom Thou hast given Me, and whom I have kept, saved to the uttermost.”
Brother, don’t you want Him? Don’t you want to come to Him the right way? Don’t you want to be clean?
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” I must say, I love Him. He is the “rose of Sharon,” the “fairest of ten thousand to my soul.” the “lily of the valley,” the “One altogether lovely.”