TOGETHER WITH OTHER EVANGELISTIC ADDRESSES
J. WILBUR CHAPMAN
HODDER & STOUGHTON
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
The Winona Publishing Company
And Judas Iscariot An Old-Fashioned Home The Swelling of Jordan A Call to Judgment A Changed Life The Lost Opportunity A Great Victory Paul a Pattern of Prayer A Startling Statement The Grace of God Conversion Five Kings in a Cave Definiteness of Purpose in Christian Work The Morning Breaketh An Obscured Vision The Compassion of Jesus Sanctification An Unheeded Warning The Approval of the Spirit A Reasonable Service The True Christian Life
The sermons contained in this volume are published in response to numerous requests that they might be put into permanent form.
The author of these sermons needs no introduction to the Christian readers of America. His fame as an author, preacher and evangelist is more than national. As Director of the evangelistic work carried on by the General Assembly's Committee of the Presbyterian Church, he has achieved distinction as a preacher of the Gospel. Under his direction simultaneous evangelistic campaigns have been held in many of the leading cities of the land, and the Christian Church and the world have had an experience of a new, aggressive and emphatic evangelism that has stirred the Church, revived Christian service and been the means under God of turning thousands to a life of allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Therefore it is a privilege and pleasure to put into book form some of the sermons which Dr. Chapman has preached in his evangelistic work and also as the Director of the Interdenominational Bible Conference at Winona Lake, Indiana. Thousands have borne witness to the profound impression and enduring influence of those messages. Especially is this true of "And Judas Iscariot" and "An Old-Fashioned Home." One can never forget the scene when the latter sermon was preached on Thanksgiving Day, 1905, in the great theater in Jersey City. Great numbers of men have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as a personal Savior following the preaching of "The Swelling of Jordan."
The book is sent forth with devout gratitude to God for his blessing upon the preaching of these sermons, and with a prayer that even the reading of them may be attended with deeper devotion to Jesus Christ, and increasing service to those for whom Christ died.
PARLEY E. ZARTMANN.
AND JUDAS ISCARIOT
AND JUDAS ISCARIOT
TEXT: "And Judas Iscariot."—Mark 3:19.
There is something about the name of this miserable man which commands our attention at once. There is a sort of fascination about his wickedness, and when we read his story it is difficult to give it up until we have come to its awful end. It is rather significant, it would seem to me, that his name should come last in the list of the Apostles, and the text, "And Judas Iscariot," would suggest to me not only that his name was last, but that it was there for some special reason, as I am sure we shall find out that it was. It is also significant that the first name mentioned in the list of the Apostles in this third chapter of Mark was Simon, who was surnamed Peter.
The first mentioned Apostle denied Jesus with an oath, the one last referred to sold him for thirty pieces of silver and has gone into eternity with the awful sin of murder charged against him. The difference between the two is this: their sins were almost equally great, but the first repented and the grace of God had its perfect work in him and he was the object of Christ's forgiveness; the second was filled with remorse without repentance and grace was rejected. The first became one of the mightiest preachers in the world's history; the second fills us with horror whenever we read the story of his awful crime.
Different names affect us differently. One could not well think of John without being impressed with the power of love; nor could one consider Paul without being impressed first of all with his zeal and then with his learning. Certainly one could not study Peter without saying that his strongest characteristic was his enthusiasm. It is helpful to know that the Spirit of God working with one who was a giant intellectually and with one who was profane and ignorant accomplished practically the same results, making them both, Paul and Peter, mighty men whose ministry has made the world richer and better in every way. But to think of Judas is always to shudder.
There is a kindred text in this same Gospel of Mark, but the emotions it stirs are entirely different. The second text is, "And Peter." The crucifixion is over, the Savior is in the tomb, poor Peter, a broken-hearted man, is wandering through the streets of the City of the King. He is at last driven to the company of the disciples, when suddenly there rushes in upon them the woman who had been at the tomb, and she exclaims, "He is risen, has gone over into Galilee and wants his disciples to meet him." This was the angel's message to her. All the disciples must have hurried to the door that they might hasten to see their risen Lord—all save Peter. And then came the pathetic and thrilling text, for the woman gave the message as Jesus gave it to the angels and they to her, "Go tell his disciples—and Peter."
But this text, "And Judas Iscariot," brings to our recollection the story of a man who lost his opportunity to be good and great; the picture of one who was heartless in his betrayal, for within sight of the Garden of Gethsemane he saluted Jesus with a hypocritical kiss; the recollection of one in whose ears to-day in eternity there must be heard the clinking sound of the thirty pieces of silver; and the account of one who died a horrible death, all because sin had its way with him and the grace of God was rejected.
The scene connected with his calling is significant. Mark tells us in the third chapter of his Gospel that when Jesus saw the man with the withered hand and healed him, he went out by the seaside and then upon the mountain, and there called his Apostles round about him, gave them their commission and sent them forth to do his bidding.
In Matthew the ninth chapter and the thirty-sixth to the thirty-eighth verses, we are told that when he saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion, and he commissioned the twelve and sent them forth that they might serve as shepherds to the people who appeared to be shepherdless. "Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." And then he sent the twelve forth. As a matter of fact the Scriptures concerning Judas are not so very full, but there is a good outline, and if one but takes the points presented and allows his imagination to work in the least, there is a story which is thrilling in its awfulness.
The four Evangelists tell us of his call, and these are practically identical in their statement except concerning his names. Matthew and Mark call him the Betrayer; Luke speaks of him as a Traitor, while John calls him a Devil. The next thing we learn concerning him is his rebuke of the woman who came to render her service to Jesus as a proof of her affection. In John the twelfth chapter, the fourth to the sixth verse, we read, "Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."
Next we hear of him bargaining with the enemies of Jesus for his betrayal. The account is very full in Matthew, the twenty-sixth chapter the fourteenth to the sixteenth verse. "Then one of the twelve called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."
Then we are told of his delivering Jesus into the hands of his enemies, in Matthew, the twenty-sixth chapter, the forty-seventh to the forty-ninth verses: "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him." And then finally comes his dreadful end, the account of his remorse in Matthew, the twenty-seventh chapter, the third and the fourth verses. "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that." And the statement of his suicide in Matthew, the twenty-seventh chapter, the fifth verse, "And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself."
The natural question that comes to every student of the life of Judas must be, "Why was he chosen?" but as Joseph Parker has said, "We may well ask why were we chosen ourselves, knowing our hearts as we do and appreciating our weakness as we must." It has been said that if we study the Apostles we will find them representatives of all kinds of human nature, which would go to show that if we but yield ourselves to God, whatever we may be naturally, he can use us for his glory. It was here that Judas failed. I have heard it said that Jesus did not know Judas' real character and that he was surprised when Judas turned out to be the disciple that he was; but let us have none of this spirit in the consideration of Jesus Christ. Let no man in these days limit Jesus' knowledge, for he is omniscient and knoweth all things. Let us not forget what he said himself concerning Judas in John the thirteenth chapter and the eighteenth verse, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." Again, in the sixth chapter and the seventieth verse, "Jesus answered them. Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" and finally, in the sixth chapter and the sixty-fourth verse, "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him."
There were others who might have been chosen in his stead. The Apostles found two when in their haste they determined to fill the vacancy made by his betrayal. Acts 1:23-26, "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
It seems to me that there can be no reason for his having been called of Christ except that he was to serve as a great warning to those of us who have lived since his day. There are many such warnings in the Scriptures.
Jonah was one. God said to him, "Go to Nineveh," and yet, with the spirit of rebellion, he attempted to sail to Tarshish and we know his miserable failure. Let it never be forgotten that if Nineveh is God's choice for you, you can make no other port in safety. The sea will be against you, the wind against you. It is hard indeed to struggle against God.
Jacob was a warning. Deceiving his own father, his sons in turn deceived him. May we never forget the Scripture which declares, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
Esau was a warning. Coming in from the hunt one day, weary with his exertions, he detects the savory smell of the mess of pottage, and his crafty brother says, "I will give you this for your birthright," which was his right to be a priest in his household; a moment more and the birthright is gone; and in the New Testament we are told he sought it with tears and could find no place of repentance. But many a man has sold his right to be the priest of his household for less than a mess of pottage, and in a real sense it is true that things done cannot be undone.
Saul was a warning. He was commanded to put to death Agag and the flock, and he kept the best of all the flock and then lied to God's messenger when he said that the work had been done as he was commanded. He had no sooner said it than, behold, there was heard the bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the oxen. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
The New Testament has many warnings like these in the Old, but Judas surpasses them all. There is something about him that makes us shudder.
It is said that in Oberammergau, where the Passion Play is presented, the man taking the character of Judas is always avoided afterwards. He may have been ever so reputable a citizen, but he has been at least in action a Judas, and that is enough.
I was once a pastor at Schuylerville, N. Y., where on the Burgoyne surrender ground stands a celebrated monument. It is beautiful to look upon. On one side of it in a niche is General Schuyler, and on the other side, if I remember correctly, General Gates; on the third, in the same sort of a niche, another distinguished general is to be seen, but on the fourth the niche is vacant. When I asked the reason I was told that "It is the niche which might have been filled by Benedict Arnold had he not been a traitor."
The story of Judas is like this. He might have been all that God could have approved of; he is throughout eternity a murderer, and all because grace was rejected. Numerous lessons may be drawn from such a story. Certain things might be said concerning hypocrisy, for he was in the truest sense a hypocrite. Reference could be made to the fact that sin is small in its beginnings, sure in its progress, terrific in its ending, for at the beginning he was doubtless but an average man in sin, possibly not so different from the others; but he rejected the influence of Christ. Or, again, from such a character a thrilling story could be told of the end of transgressors, for hard as may be the way the end baffles description. Judas certainly tells us this.
However much of a warning Judas may be to people of the world, I am fully persuaded that there are four things which may be said concerning him.
First: He gives us a lesson as Christians. There were many names given him. In Matthew the tenth chapter and the fourth verse, and in Mark the third chapter and the nineteenth verse, we read that he was a betrayer; in Luke the sixth chapter and the sixteenth verse he was called a traitor; in John the sixth chapter and the seventieth verse he is spoken of as a devil, but in John the twelveth chapter and the sixth verse he is mentioned as a thief. To me however one of the best names that could be applied to him is that which Paul feared might be given to him when he said, "Lest when I have preached to others I myself should be [literally] disapproved" (1 Corinthians 9:27). It is indeed a solemn thought, that if we are not right with God he will set us aside, for he cannot use us. I have in mind a minister, who once thrilled great numbers of people with his message. Under the power of his preaching hundreds of people came to Christ. There was possibly no one in the Church with a brighter future. To-day he is set aside, for God cannot use him. I have in mind a Sunday school superintendent, who used to be on every platform speaking for Christ, and then yielded to undue political influence of the worst sort, lost his vision of Christ and his power in speaking, and to-day is set aside. But of all the illustrations, I know of nothing which so stirs me as the story of Judas. He might have been true and faithful and he might have been with Christ to-day in glory; instead, he is in hell, a self-confessed murderer, with the clinking of the thirty pieces of silver to condemn him, and his awful conscience constantly to accuse him. It is indeed enough to make our faces pale to realize that, whatever we may be to-day in the service of God, we can be set aside in less than a week, and God will cease to use us if we have anything of the spirit of Judas.
Second: I learn also from Judas that environment is not enough for the unregenerate. It is folly to state that a poor lost sinner simply by changing his environment may have his nature changed. As John G. Woolley has said, "it is like a man with a stubborn horse saying, 'I will paint the outside of the barn a nice mild color to influence the horse within.'"
The well on my place in the country some years ago had in it poisoned water. It was an attractive well with a house built around about it, and the neighbors came to me to say that I must under no circumstances drink from it. What if I had said, "I will decorate the well house that I may change the water?" It would have been as nonsensical as to say, "I will change the environment of a man who is wicked by nature, and thereby make him good." Judas had lived close to Jesus, he had been with him on the mountain, walked with him by the sea, was frequently with him, I am sure, in Gethsemane, for we read in John the eighteenth chapter and the second verse, "And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples." He was also with him at the Supper. But after all this uplifting, heavenly influence of the Son of God he sold him for silver and betrayed him with a kiss. Nothing can answer for the sinner but regeneration. His case is hopeless without that.
Third: Hypocrisy is an awful thing. The text in Galatians is for all such. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Those words in Matthew in connection with the sermon on the Mount are for such, when men in the great day shall say, "Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out Devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" Jesus will say, "I never knew you." If we read the commission in Matthew the tenth chapter the fifth to the twentieth verses inclusive, we shall understand that these Apostles were sent forth to do a mighty work, and evidently they did it. Judas had that commission, and he may have fulfilled it in a sense, but he is lost to-day because he was a hypocrite. The disciples may not have known his true nature. In John the thirteenth chapter the twenty-first to the twenty-ninth verses we read, "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he should give something to the poor." Which would seem to impress this thought upon us. Oh, may I say that it is a great sin to be untrue? The only time that Jesus is severe is not when sinners seek him out, nor when the woman taken in adultery is driven to him by those who would stone her with stones, nor with the thief on the Cross, but when he faces hypocrites; he can have no tenderness for them.
Fourth: I learn from Judas that sin is of slow progress. There may have been first just a natural ambition. He thought that the Kingdom of Jesus was to be a great temporal affair, and he desired to be a part of it. How many men to-day have wrecked their homes and all but lost their souls, because of unholy ambitions! It may be an ambition for your family as well as for yourself. Doubtless Jacob had such when he stopped at Shechem. The result of his tarrying was his heart-breaking experience with the worse than murder of his daughter. There are souls to-day in the lost world who were wrecked upon the rock of ambition.
Fifth: He was dishonest. It is a short journey from unholy ambition to dishonesty. The spirit of God Himself calls him a thief. But,
Sixth: Let it be known that while sin is of slow progress, it is exceedingly sure. In the twenty-second chapter of Luke and the third to the sixth verses we read that Satan entered into Judas. It seems to me as if up to that time he had rather hovered about him, tempting him with his insinuations, possibly causing him to slip and fall in occasional sins, but finally he has control and then betrayal, denial and murder are the results.
I looked the other day into the face of a man who said to me, "Do you know me?" and I told him I did not, and he said, "I used to be a Christian worker and influenced thousands to come to Christ. In an unguarded moment I determined to leave my ministry and to become rich. My haste for riches was but a snare. I found myself becoming unscrupulous in my business life and now I am wrecked, certainly for time—oh," said he, "can it be for eternity? I am separated from my wife and my children, whom I shall never see again." And rising in an agony he cried out as I have rarely heard a man cry, "God have mercy upon me! God have mercy upon me!"
There are but three things that I would like to say concerning Judas as I come to the end of my message.
The first is that he was heartless in the extreme. It was just after a touching scene recorded in Matthew the twenty-sixth chapter the seventh to the thirteenth verses, "There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." It was after this that Judas went to the enemies of Jesus and offered to sell him, and as if that were not enough, it was just after he had left Gethsemane, in Matthew the twenty-sixth chapter the forty-fifth to the forty-ninth verses, that he betrayed him with his kiss. "Then cometh he to his disciples and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him." The blood drops had just been rolling down the cheeks of the Master, for he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood; and I can quite understand how upon the very lips of Judas the condemning blood may have left its mark. But do not condemn him; he is scarcely more heartless than the man who to-day rejects him after all his gracious ministry, his sacrificial death and his mediatorial work of nineteen hundred years.
Second: His death was awful. Acts 1:18, "Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." I can imagine him going out to the place where he is to end it all, remembering as he walked how Jesus had looked at him, recalling, doubtless, some of his spoken messages, and certainly remembering how once he had been with him in all his unfaithful ministry. All this must have swept before him like a great panorama, and with the vision of his betrayed Master still before him he swings himself out into the eternity; and then as if to make the end more terrible the rope broke and his body burst and his very bowels gushed forth. Oh, if it be true that the way of the transgressor is hard, in the name of God what shall we say of the end?
Third: I would like to imagine another picture. What if instead of going out to the scene of his disgraceful death he had waited until after Jesus had risen? What if he had tarried behind some one of those great trees near the city along the way which he should walk, or, possibly on the Emmaus way? What if he had hidden behind some great rock and simply waited? While it is true that he must have trembled as he waited, what if after it all he had simply thrown himself on the mercy of Jesus and had said to him, "Master, I have from the first been untrue; for thirty pieces of silver I sold thee and with these lips I betrayed thee with a kiss; but Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me"? There would have been written in the New Testament Scriptures the most beautiful story that the inspired book contains. Nothing could have been so wonderful as the spirit of him who is able to save to the uttermost, and who never turned away from any seeking sinner, and he would, I am sure, have taken Judas in his very arms; he, too, might have given him a kiss, not of betrayal, but of the sign of his complete forgiveness, and Judas might have shone to-day in the city of God as shines Joseph of Arimathaea, Paul the Apostle, Peter the Preacher.
The saddest story I know is the story of Judas, for it is the account of a man who resisted the grace of God and must regret it through eternity.
AN OLD-FASHIONED HOME
TEXT: "What have they seen in thy house?"—2 Kings 20:15.
If you will tell me what is in your own house by your own choice I will tell you the story of your home life and will be able to inform you whether yours is a home in which there is harmony and peace or confusion and despair. Let me read the names of the guests in your guest book, allow me to study the titles of the books in your library in which you have special delight, permit me to scan your magazines which you particularly like, allow me to listen to your conversation when you do not know that you are being overheard, give me the privilege of talking but for a moment to your servants, and make it possible for me to visit with your friends in whom you have particular delight—and I will write a true story of what you have been, of what you are, and of what you will be but for the grace of God, even though I may not know you personally at all. In other words, whatever may be seen in your home determines what your home is.
I was a man grown before I visited Washington, the capital of the nation. I was the guest of a member of the President's Cabinet. Riding with him the first evening, when the moon was shining, we suddenly came upon the National Capitol, and I said to my host, "What in the world is that?" He said, with a smile, as if he pitied me, "That is the Capitol building, and that is the home of the nation." I am sure he was right in a sense, because the building is magnificent, and is in every way the worthy home of such a nation as ours; but I think I take issue with him, after careful thought, in his statement that the Capitol building is the home of the nation. I can recall a visit made to a home which was not in any sense palatial, where the old-fashioned father every morning and evening read his Bible, knelt in prayer with his household about him, commended to God his children each by name, presented the servants at the throne of grace, and then sang with them all one of the sweet hymns of the church; and from the morning prayer they went forth to the day of victory, while from the evening prayer they went to sleep the undisturbed sleep of the just, with the angels of heaven keeping watch over them.
I recall another home in the State of Ohio where the father and mother were scarcely known outside of their own county. The size of their farm was ten acres, but they reared two boys and two girls whose mission has been world-wide and whose names are known wherever the church of Christ is known and wherever the English language is spoken. These, in the truest sense, are the homes of the nation, and such homes give us men and women as true as steel.
Napoleon once was asked, "What is the greatest need of the French nation?" He hesitated a moment and then said, with marked emphasis, "The greatest need of the French nation is mothers." If you will ask me the greatest need of America I could wish in my reply that I might speak with the power of a Napoleon and that my words might live as long, for I would say, the greatest need of the American nation to-day is homes; not palatial buildings, but homes where Christ is honored, where God is loved, and where the Bible is studied.
A returned missionary, who had been for twenty-five years away from his home because he would not accept his furloughs, was asked after he had been in California for a little season what impressed him the most after his absence of a quarter of a century. The reporter expected him to say that he was impressed with the telephone system which bound houses and cities together, or that he was amazed at the wireless telegraphy, by means of which on the wave currents of the air messages were sent from one city to another; but the returned missionary expressed no such surprise. He said, "When I went away from America almost every home had its family altar; now that I have returned I have watched very carefully and find that a family altar in a home is the exception and not the rule." Wherever this is true there is real cause for great alarm, for in proportion as the home fails the nation is in danger.
Hezekiah had been sick unto death. The word of the Lord by the mouth of the Prophet came to him, saying, "Set thy house in order, for thou must die." Then he recovered for a season. The King of Babylon sent messengers to him, and when the messengers had gone Isaiah asked him the question of the text, "What have they seen in thy house?"
The dearest and most sacred spot on earth is home. Around it are the most sacred associations, about it cluster the sweetest memories. The buildings are not always palatial, the furnishings are not always of the best, but when the home is worthy of the name ladders are let down from heaven to those below, the angels of God come down, bringing heaven's blessing and ascend, taking earth's crosses. Such a home is the dearest spot on earth, because there your father worked and your mother loved. There is no love which surpasses this.
Some years ago, when the English soldiers were fighting and a Scotch regiment came to assist, the Scotchmen, strangely enough, began to die in great numbers. The skill of the physicians was baffled. They could not tell why it was that there seemed to be such a rapid falling away of the men. But at last they discovered the cause. The Scotch pipers were playing the tunes that reminded the Scotchman of the heather and the hills, and they were dying of homesickness. When the music was changed the deaths in such large numbers almost instantly ceased.
We are drifting away from our old-fashioned homes; fathers have grown too busy, mothers have delegated their God-given work to others. We have lost instead of gained. Wherever the homes are full of weakness the government is in danger. The homes of our country are so many streams pouring themselves into the great current of moral and social life. If the home life is pure, then all is pure. I stand with that company of people today who believe that we are at the beginning of a great revival of religion, and I am persuaded that this revival is to be helped on not so much by preaching, though that is not to be ignored; nor by singing, though that in itself is useful; but it is to be helped or hindered by the condition of the homes in our land.
I have a friend, George R. Stuart, who says that when God himself would start a nation he made home life the deciding question. He selected Abraham as the head of the home, and in Genesis, the eighteenth chapter and the nineteenth verse, he gives the reason for this in these words: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him."
There are two great principles which must prevail in every home:
First: Authority, suggested by the word "command."
Second: Example, suggested by the expression, "He will command his children and his household after him."
In order that one may rightly command he must himself be controlled or be able to obey an authority higher than his own. It is absolutely impossible for one to be the father he ought to be and not be a Christian, or to be worthy of the name of mother and not yield allegiance to Jesus Christ. If we are to set before those about us a right example, we cannot begin too soon. Your children are a reproduction of yourself, weakness in them is weakness in yourself, strength in them is but the reproduction of your own virtue.
A convention of mothers met some years ago in the city of Cincinnati and was discussing the question as to when one ought properly to begin to train the child for Christ. One mother said, "I begin at six"; another suggested seven as the proper age; another said, "I begin when my child takes his first step, and thus point him to Christ, or when he speaks his first word I teach him the name of Jesus." Finally an old saint arose and said, "You are all of you wrong; the time to begin to train the child is the generation before the child is born," and this we all know to be true.
But the responsibility does not rest simply upon mothers; fathers cannot ignore their God-given position. Judge Alton B. Parker and his favorite grandson, Alton Parker Hall, five years old, narrowly escaped death by drowning in the Hudson River. For half an hour the two played in the water. Then Judge Parker took the boy for a swim into deep water. Placing the boy on his back, he swam around for awhile, and then, deciding to float, turned over, seating the boy astride his chest. In this manner the judge floated a distance from the wharf before noticing it. Then he attempted to turn over again, intending to swim nearer the shore. In the effort to transfer the boy to his back the little fellow became frightened and tightly clasped the judge about the neck. Judge Parker called to the boy to let go his hold, but the youth only held on the tighter, and, frightened at the evident distress of the judge, began to whimper. In a few moments the grasp of the boy became so tight that Judge Parker could not breathe. He tried to shake the boy loose, and then attempted to break his grasp. The boy held on with the desperation of death, however, and every effort of the judge only plunged them both beneath the choking waves. With his last few remaining breaths, Judge Parker gave up the struggle and shouted for assistance. The mistake that the distinguished man made was that he went too far from shore with the boy. There are too many men to-day who are doing the same thing. They are going out too far in social life, they are too lax in the question of amusements, they are too thoughtless on the subject of dissipation. Some day they will stop, themselves recovering, but their boys will be gone.
Example counts for everything in a home. It there is any blessing in my own life or others, if there has been any helpfulness in my ministry to others, I owe it all to my mother, who lived before me a consistent Christian life and died giving me her blessing; and to my father, who with his arms about me one day said, "My son, if you go wrong it will kill me." I was at one time under the influence of a boy older than myself and cursed with too much money. I had taken my first questionable step at least, and was on my way one night to a place which was at least questionable if not sinful. I had turned the street corner and ahead of me was the very gate to hell. Suddenly, as I turned, the face of my father came before me and his words rang in my very soul. If my father had been anything but a consistent Christian man I myself, I am sure, would have been far from the pulpit, and might have been in the lost world. There are those who seem to think that the height of one's ambition is to amass a fortune, to build a palace or to acquire a social position. My friend, George R. Stuart, says you may build your palaces, amass your fortunes, provide for the satisfaction of every desire, but as you sit amid these luxurious surroundings waiting for the staggering steps of a son, or as you think of a wayward daughter, all this will be as nothing, for there is nothing that can give happiness to the parents of Godless, wayward children. Some one has said, "Every drunkard, every gambler, every lost woman once sat in a mother's lap, and the downfall of the most of them may be traced to some defect in home life."
The real purpose of every home is to shape character for time and eternity. The home may be one of poverty, the cross of self-sacrifice may be required, suffering may sometimes be necessary, but wherever a home fulfills this purpose it is overflowing with joy. One of my friends has drawn the following picture which he says is fanciful, but which I think is absolutely true to life:
Back in the country there is a boy who wants to go to a college and get an education. They call him a book-worm. Wherever they find him—in the barn or in the house—he is reading a book. "What a pity it is," they say, "that Ed cannot get an education!" His father, work as hard as he will, can no more than support the family by the products of the farm. One night Ed has retired to his room and there is a family conference about him. The sisters say, "Father, I wish you would send Ed to college; if you will we will work harder than we ever did, and we will make our old dresses do." The mother says, "Yes, I will get along without any hired help; although I am not as strong as I used to be, I think I can get along without any hired help." The father says, "Well, I think by husking corn nights in the barn I can get along without any assistance." Sugar is banished from the table, butter is banished from the plate. That family is put down on rigid, yea, suffering, economy that the boy may go to college. Time passes on. Commencement day has come and the professors walk in on the stage in their long gowns and their classic but absurd hats. The interest of the occasion is passing on, and after a while it comes to a climax of interest as the valedictorian is introduced. Ed has studied so hard and worked so well that he has had the honor conferred upon him. There are rounds of applause, sometimes breaking into vociferation. It is a great day for Ed. But away back in the galleries are his sisters in their old plain hats and faded clothes, and the old-fashioned father and mother; dear me, she has not had a new hat for six years; he has not had a new coat for a longer time. They rise and look over on the platform, then they laugh and they cry, and as they sit down, their faces grow pale, and then are very flushed. Ed gets the garlands and the old-fashioned group in the gallery have their full share of the triumph. They have made that scene possible, and in the day that God shall more fully reward self-sacrifice made for others, he will give grand and glorious recognition. "As his part is that goeth down to battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff."
This experience describes a home in the truest sense of the word better than all the palaces the world has ever known where love is lacking and the spirit of God is gone.
There are two great forces in every home. I speak of the father and the mother, not but that the children have their part in either making or breaking a household, but these two are the mightiest of agencies.
The mother stands first. There are certain things which must be true of every mother. She must be a Christian. The father may fail if he must, but let the mother fail and God pity the children. She must be consistent. The children may forget the inconsistencies of the father but when the mother fails the impression is lasting as time and almost as lasting as eternity. She must be prayerful. I do not know of anything that lifts so many burdens or puts upon the face such a look of beauty as the spirit of prayer. And she must study her Bible. When we pray we talk with God, but when we read the Bible God talks with us and every mother needs his counsel.
A poor young man stood before a judge in a great court to be sentenced to death. When asked if he had anything to say, he bowed his head and said, "Oh, your honor, if I had only had a mother!"
A mother's love is unfailing. When I was in Atlanta, Georgia, in October, 1904, a little girl and an old mother came to see the governor. They had met on the train, and the child agreed to take the old lady to see the governor of the State. They entered the governor's office and she spoke as follows:
"I want to see the governor," was the straightforward request of the little lady addressed to Major Irwin, the private secretary to the governor, as he inquired her errand.
"That is the governor standing there. He will see you in a moment," replied the major, indicating Governor Terrell standing in the group. The governor went over to her. "What can I do for you, dear?" he asked. Throwing back her curls she opened wide her baby brown eyes and said:
"Governor, it is not for me; it is for this old lady. Her name is Mrs. Hackett, and she wants to talk to you about pardoning her boy." This was said by a little lady of eleven, who spoke with all the grace and savoir-faire of a woman twice her age.
In a voice choked with emotion, Mrs. Hackett began her tearful, scarcely audible story and presented her petition for clemency for her boy.
"Governor, have mercy on me," she began, and threw back her bonnet, showing a face wrinkled by age and furrowed and drawn by suffering, "and give me back my boy."
Breaking down under the strain of talking to the governor, whom she had planned for months to see, the pleading mother gave way to her grief. The governor was visibly moved, and continued to stroke the curly hair of Mrs. Hackett's little guide. "Give me back my boy. I am an old woman, going on seventy-nine, and I cannot be here long. I know I am standing with one foot in the grave, and I do want to hear my boy, my baby, say to me, 'Ma, I'm free.' Let me go down on my knees to you and beg that you have mercy on a mother's breaking heart. During the last month I picked five hundred pounds of cotton and made two dollars to get here to see you. I got here without a cent, and this little angel gave me a dollar—her all. I don't care if I have to walk back home, for I've seen you and told you of my boy."
With unsteady voice the governor told her the law, and referred her gently to the prison commission, assuring her that they would give her petition the most considerate attention. I am told that when the books were examined the crime was found to be one of the blackest on the calendar, and yet the mother loved him.
Her love always stimulates love. It lasts when everything else fails. A man cannot wander so far from God as to forget his mother, or go so deep in sin as to be unmindful of her sweet influence.
The following is a sketch, full of touching interest, of a little ragged newsboy who had lost his mother. In the tenderness of his affection for her he was determined that he would raise a stone to her memory. His mother and he had kept house together and they had been all to each other, but now she was taken, and the little fellow's loss was irreparable. Getting a stone was no easy task, for his earnings were small; but love is strong. Going to a cutter's yard and finding that even the cheaper class of stones was far too expensive for him, he at length fixed upon a broken shaft of marble, part of the remains of an accident in the yard, and which the proprietor kindly named at such a low figure that it came within his means. There was much yet to be done, but the brave little chap was equal to it.
The next day he conveyed the stone away on a little four-wheeled cart, and managed to have it put in position. The narrator, curious to know the last of the stone, visited the cemetery one afternoon, and he thus describes what he saw and learned:
"Here it is," said the man in charge, and, sure enough, there was our monument, at the head of one of the newer graves. I knew it at once. Just as it was when it left our yard, I was going to say, until I got a little nearer to it and saw what the little chap had done. I tell you, boys, when I saw it there was something blurred my eyes, so's I couldn't read it at first. The little man had tried to keep the lines straight, and evidently thought that capitals would make it look better and bigger, for nearly every letter was a capital. I copied it, and here it is; but you want to see it on the stone to appreciate it:
MY MOTHER SHEE DIED LAST WEAK SHEE WAS ALL I HAD. SHEE SED SHEAD BEE WAITING FUR—
and here the boy's lettering stopped. After awhile I went back to the man in charge and asked him what further he knew of the little fellow who brought the stone. "Not much," he said; "not much. Didn't you notice a fresh little grave near the one with the stone? Well, that's where he is. He came here every afternoon for some time working away at that stone, and one day I missed him, and then for several days. Then the man came out from the church that had buried the mother and ordered the grave dug by her side. I asked if it was for the little chap. He said it was. The boy had sold all his papers one day, and was hurrying along the street out this way. There was a runaway team just above the crossing, and—well—he was run over, and lived but a day or two." He had in his hand when he was picked up an old file sharpened down to a point, that he did all the lettering with. They said he seemed to be thinking only of that until he died, for he kept saying, "I didn't get it done, but she'll know I meant to finish it, won't she? I'll tell her so, for she'll be waiting for me," and he died with those words on his lips. When the men in the cutter's yard heard the story of the boy the next day, they clubbed together, got a good stone, inscribed upon it the name of the newsboy, which they succeeded in getting from the superintendent of the Sunday school which the little fellow attended, and underneath it the touching words: "He loved his mother."
God pity the mother with such an influence as this if she is leading in the wrong direction!
It is necessary also to say just a word about the father. There are many pictures of fathers in the Bible. Jacob gives us one when he cries, "Me ye have bereft of my children."
David gives another when he cries, "O Absalom, my son." The father of the Prodigal adds a new touch of beauty to the picture when he calls for the best robe to be put upon his boy. I allow no one to go beyond me in paying tribute to a mother's love, but I desire in some special way to pay tribute to the devotion and consistency of a father.
There are special requisites which must be made without which no father can maintain his God-given position. He must be a Christian. I rode along a country road with my little boy some time ago. I found that he was speaking to my friends just as I spoke to them. One man called my attention to it and said, "It is amusing, isn't it?" To me it was anything but amusing. If my boy is to speak as I speak, walk as I walk, then God help me to walk as a Christian.
He must be a man of prayer. No man can bear the burdens of life or meet its responsibilities properly if he is a stranger to prayer.
He must be a man of Bible study. One of the most priceless treasures I have is a Bible my father studied, the pages of which he turned over and over, and which I never used to read without a great heart throb.
"I con its pages o'er and o'er; Its interlinings mark a score Of promises most potent, sweet, In verses many of each sheet; Albeit the gilding dull of age, And yellow-hued its every page, No book more precious e'er may be Than father's Bible is to me.
"Its tear-stained trace fresh stirs my heart The corresponding tear to start; Of trials, troubles herein brought, For comfort never vainly sought, For help in sorest hour of need, For love to crown the daily deed, No book more precious e'er may be Than father's Bible is to me."
He must also erect in his house a family altar. I know that many business men will say this is impossible, but it is not impossible. If your business prevents your praying with your children, then there must be something wrong with your business. If your life prevents it, then you ought to see to it that your life is made right and that quickly.
My friend, George R. Stuart, one of the truest men I know, gave me the following picture of a Christian home. He said: "When I was preaching in Nashville, at the conclusion of my sermon a Methodist preacher came up and laid his hand upon my shoulder and said, 'Brother Stuart, how your sermon to-day carried me back to my home! My father was a local preacher, and the best man I ever saw. He is gone to heaven now. We have a large family; mother is still at home, and I should like to see all the children together once more and have you come and dedicate our home to God, while we all rededicate ourselves to God before precious old mother leaves. If you will come with me, I will gather all the family together next Friday for that purpose.' I consented to go. The old home was a short distance from the city of Nashville. There were a large number of brothers and sisters. One was a farmer; one was a doctor; one was a real estate man; one was a bookkeeper; one was a preacher; and so on, so that they represented many professions of life. The preacher brother took me out to the old home, where all the children had gathered. As we drove up to the gate I saw the brothers standing in little groups about the yard, whittling and talking. Did you never stand in the yard of the old home after an absence of many years, and entertain memories brought up by every beaten path and tree and gate and building about the old place? I was introduced to these noble-looking men who, as the preacher brother told me, were all members of churches, living consistent Christian lives, save the younger boy, who had wandered away a little, and the real object of this visit was to bring him back to God.
"The old mother was indescribably happy. There was a smile lingering in the wrinkles of her dear old face. We all gathered in the large, old-fashioned family room in the old-fashioned semicircle, with mother in her natural place in the corner. The preacher brother laid the large family Bible in my lap and said, 'Now, Brother Stuart, you are in the home of a Methodist preacher; do what you think best.'
"I replied, 'As I sit to-day in the family of a Methodist preacher, let us begin our service with an old-fashioned experience meeting. I want each child, in the order of your ages, to tell your experience.' The oldest arose and pointed his finger at the oil portrait of his father, hanging on the wall, and said in substance about as follows: 'Brother Stuart, there is the picture of the best father God ever gave a family. Many a time he has taken me to his secret place of prayer, put his hand on my head, and prayed for his boy. And at every turn of my life, since he has left me, I have felt the pressure of his hand on my head, and have seen the tears upon his face, and have heard the prayers from his trembling lips. I have not been as good a man since his death as I ought to have been, but I stand up here to-day to tell you and my brothers and sisters and my dear old mother that I am going to live a better life from this hour until I die.' Overcome with emotion, he took his seat, and the children in order spoke on the same line. Each one referred to the place of secret prayer and the father's hand upon the head. At last we came to the youngest boy, who, with his face buried in his hands, was sobbing and refused to speak. The preacher brother very pathetically said, 'Buddy, say a word; there is no one here but the family, and it will help you.'
"He arose, holding the back of his chair, and looked up at me and said, 'Brother Stuart, they tell me that you have come to dedicate this home to God; but my old mother here has never let it get an inch from God. They tell you that this meeting is called that my brothers and sisters may dedicate their lives to God, but they are good. I know them. I am the only black sheep in this flock. Every step I have wandered away from God and the life of my precious father, I have felt his hand upon my head and heard his blessed words of prayer. To-day I come back to God, back to my father's life, and so help me God, I will never wander away again.'
"Following his talk came a burst of sobbing and shouting, and I started that old hymn, 'Amazing grace (how sweet the sound!) that saved a wretch like me!' etc., and we had an old-fashioned Methodist class-meeting, winding up with a shout. As I walked away from that old homestead I said in my heart, 'It is the salt of a good life that saves the children.' A boy never gets over the fact that he had a good father."
"What have they seen in thy house?" If we are to help our children for time and eternity, our homes must be better, our lives must be truer, our ambition to do God's will must be supreme. When these conditions are met it will be possible for us to answer the question of the text.
THE SWELLING OF JORDAN
TEXT: "How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?"—Jer. 12:5.
High up in the mountains of Anti-Lebanon a famous river was born which was to play so important a part in the history of God's people that it would not have been strange if the birds of heaven had chanted their praises when first it began its journey. From four different places in the mountain the stream starts. Then the four streams become one, and in a single channel the river makes its way across the plain.
There are two chief characteristics which must be borne in mind. The first is that a part of its journey is through a rocky country, and caves are on either side of the river, sometimes one above another; frequently three caves are to be seen one above another. The other characteristic is that it overflows its banks in all the time of harvest. These two things must be kept in mind if the text would teach its lesson.
There are certain people who will always remember the river Jordan—the children of Israel first of all, because it separated them from the Promised Land; and while scripturally Canaan does not stand for Heaven, yet in the mind of many it does, and the Jordan typifies an experience which stands between us and the future. Naaman will remember it, for when he came as a leper to the servant of God he was bidden to wash seven times in this river. At first he rebelled against the thought, finally he entered the stream, bathed twice, three times, four, five, six times, and was still a leper; but you will remember the word of the Lord, seven times must he bathe, and when the seventh plunge was taken, behold, his flesh was as the flesh of a little child! No man need expect to have light and peace and power or eternal life until he has fulfilled all the commands of God.
The wild beasts frequently make their way to these caves as a place of refuge. When the waters begin to rise they are driven out, when they go to the higher cave, and then to the highest of all, and the waters constantly rising fill this cave and they are overpowered and put to death. They are an illustration for us. Men of to-day are in caves of different sorts; some in the cave of dissipation, others in the cave of infidelity, and still others in the cave of morality. One day the waters of judgment will begin to rise, and it will be an awful thing to stand in terror before God, driven forth without refuge.
Dissipation. "I am in the clutch of an awful sin," wrote some one to me recently, whether man or woman I cannot tell, but this was the story:
Three years before the writer had been free, and then in an unguarded moment had gone down. Now came the pathetic cry, "I am helpless and hopeless." I do not know what the sin was, but it makes no difference; any sin can bind us if we but yield to it. Under the subject of dissipation I do not speak of drinking as the worst of sins, because it is not the worst, by any means. I had a thousand times rather admit to my home the drunkard who has been cursed with his appetite than to admit there the man who is lecherous, who possibly stands high in society and in the business world, but whose sin is great and whose heart is vile beyond description. I speak of drinking because it is the most common of sins.
John B. Gough cries out concerning this sin, "I do not speak of it boastingly," said he, "for I have known what the curse of strong drink is; I have felt it in my own life and seen it in others, but I say the truth, let the bread of affliction be given me to eat, take away from me the friends of my old age, let the hut of poverty be my dwelling place, let the wasting hand of disease be placed upon me, let me live in the whirlwind and dwell in the storm, when I would do good let evil come upon me—do all this, merciful God, but save me from the death of a drunkard." When he would speak in such language, God pity the man who yields to such a sin.
It may be that gambling is your weak point. When I was in Colorado a young man who was a graduate of Harvard, the honor man of his class, and who had recently buried his wife, sat at the gambling table, staked his last dollar and lost it; then deliberately put up his little child and lost her; and then, in despair, blew out his brains and sent his soul to hell. When such a man of culture and training would go down under such a sin, God pity the man who yields to it.
Or it may be licentiousness, that sin which makes men lower than the beasts of the field, from which one can scarcely break away. I do not know what the sin may be that clutches your life, but if you have given way to it and rejected Christ, how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan, when the waters rise higher and higher and you are without Christ and without hope?
Some are in the cave of infidelity. That there are honest skeptics in the world we all believe, and the honest skeptic is one who says, "I cannot believe as you do, and I do not know that I would if I could, but if your hope is any comfort to you, then cling to it and go down to your grave trusting in it."
The dishonest skeptic is the man who sneers at my faith, who laughs at the old-fashioned religion, who says that once he believed in it but has grown away from it, seemingly forgetting that the greatest men the country has ever produced have been humble followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Infidelity does not satisfy. It leaves an aching void in life and mocks us in death. Besides, it is deceiving and the talk of the infidel orator is deceiving. Said one of the most eloquent not many years ago, "When I think of the Christian's God and the Christian's Bible, I am glad I am not a Christian. I had rather be the humblest German peasant that ever lived, sitting in his cottage, vine clad, from which the grapes hang, made purple by the kiss of the sun as the day dies out of the sky, shod with wooden shoes, clad in homespun, at peace with the world, his family about him, with never a thought of God—I say the truth I had rather be such a peasant than any Christian that I have ever known." And when he said it the people cheered him. It was, however, but the trick of an orator. Let us change the sentences and give a new ring to the thought. "When I think of what infidelity would do I am glad I am not an infidel; how it would rob me of the hope of seeing my mother and meeting again my child; how it would take me in despair to the grave and send me away with a broken heart—I say I am glad I am not an infidel. I had rather be the humblest German peasant that ever lived, sitting in his cottage, vine clad, from which the grapes hang, made purple by the kiss of the sun as the day dies out of the sky, clad in homespun, shod with wooden shoes, at peace with the world and at peace with God, his family Bible upon his knees, the look of ineffable joy in his face and singing that grand old hymn of Luther's, 'A mighty fortress is our God'—I had rather be such a German peasant than to be the mightiest infidel the world has ever known," and so I would, a thousand thousand times. God pity you if you allow yourself to put Christ out of your life and stand in the midst of the rising floods with no hope in him! How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
Some are in the cave of morality. It seems a strange thing to have a word to say against it, only when we remember that he that offends in one point is guilty of all, and when we remember God's word as he has declared, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things written in the Book of the law to do them."
Then the question for the moralist is this, "Have you ever offended in one point?"
A splendid steamer was launched on Lake Champlain. She made her way safely across the lake and started back, when a storm came upon her, the engines were disabled and she drifted to the rocks. "Out with the anchor," said the captain, and the command was obeyed, but still she drifted, and although the anchor was down she crashed against the rocks with an awful force, and all because the anchor chain was three feet too short. Your morality so far as it goes may be a good tiling, but it does not reach the standard of God, nor can it until you are safely united to Christ; and if you have put him out of your life and stand alone in the midst of the rising floods, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
Sin is a terrible thing. It not only blights our hopes and prospects for the future, but it wrecks the strongest characters. One has only to open his eyes to see, if he will but look abroad, what dreadful havoc this awful evil hath wrought in the world, and yet the wonderful thing is that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life," and no matter how dreadful the wreck or how awful the ruin, Jesus Christ comes seeking to save that which was lost.
Major Whittle used to tell the story of the aged Quaker named Hartmann whose son had enlisted in the army. There came the news of a dreadful battle, and this old father, in fear and trembling, started to the scene of conflict that he might learn something concerning his boy. The officer of the day told him that he had not answered to his name, and that there was every reason to believe that he was dead. This did not satisfy the father, so, leaving headquarters, he started across the battlefield, looking for the one who was dearer to him than life. He would stoop down and turn over the face of this one and then the face of another, but without success. The night came on, and then with a lantern he continued his search, all to no purpose. Suddenly the wind, which was blowing a gale, extinguished his lantern, and he stood there in the darkness hardly knowing what to do until his fatherly ingenuity, strength and affection prompted him to call out his son's name, and so he stood and shouted, "John Hartmann, thy father calleth thee." All about him he would hear the groans of the dying and some one saying, "Oh, if that were only my father." He continued his cry with more pathos and power until at last in the distance he heard his boy's voice crying tremblingly, "Here, father." The old man made his way across the field shouting out, "Thank God! Thank God!" Taking him in his arms, he bore him to headquarters, nursed him back to health and strength, and he lives to-day. Over the battlefield of the slain this day walks Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crying out to all who are wrecked by this awful power, "Thy Father calleth thee," and if there should be but the faintest response to his cry he would take the lost in his arms and bear them home to heaven. Will you not come while he calls to-day?
A CALL TO JUDGMENT
TEXT: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."—Deut. 30:19.
Moses was a wonderful man; whether you view him as a poet or as a leader of men, he is alike great. This text was spoken by him to the people of Israel at the close of his career. The leadership of God's chosen people is now to be transferred to Joshua, and it is in order that he may speak to them as they should be addressed, and at the same time in order that he may free himself from judgment, that he speaks as he does.
I have two great desires as I present this message.
First, that I might myself be faithful, and that it might be said that I am free from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.
Second, that I might help some one to the knowledge of Christ. This is no time for argument, for argument always calls forth discussion. It is no time for theory. Practical, every-day people of the world care nothing for mere theories. And it is no time for speculation, for to give such to the people is like giving a stone when they have asked for bread. But it is time for eternal choice. The audience of the preacher vanishes when he thinks of the text and its meaning and he is face to face with the Judgment when he shall be judged for the way he has spoken, and the people shall be called to account for the way they have heard. It is indeed a solemn word. "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
Record. I desire to use this word as if it were a noun for the time being, for it will bring to us the same truth. This leads me to say that every one is making a record, either good or bad. Deep down through the surface of the earth you will find the evidence of storms centuries ago; the record was indelibly made.
Two records are being kept. This is indicated in the twentieth chapter of Revelation, where it is said, "And the books were opened." Notice that it is plural and not singular. There is a record in heaven kept by the Recording Angel. If it were in the memory of God it would be an awful thing, for while God does not remember forgiven sin, he cannot, from the very nature of the case, forget unpardoned sin, and if that is the record one day we shall meet it face to face.
There is also a record upon earth. We have seen it in the characters of men who have gone astray, and in the faces of those who have been affected by their sins.
In an eastern city where I was preaching my attention was called to a young man of brilliant prospects. He was a member of a great wholesale grocery firm, and young men looked at him almost with envy; but he began to drink, and at the end of a year the senior partner called him in to say that he must change his conduct or retire from the firm. He made promises only to break them, and finally, going from bad to worse, he was forced to retire. One morning we read the news in the paper that his bloated body had been found floating in the Hudson river; and his old father, up to a few years ago, walked up and down the streets with bowed head, giving every evidence of an almost broken heart. Sin is an awful thing and makes its record on whatever it touches.
Two Ways. There are just two ways in this world along which men may walk, and they are not parallel ways. I used to have that idea, but I am sure it is wrong. As a matter of fact, it is but one way; going in one direction is death, and in the opposite direction is life.
First: Away from God, away from his love, every step only leads us farther from Him—not because of anything he is, but because of what we have done ourselves.
A father in the South sent his boy to a northern university, and for seven years he was away from the restraints of his home. Then he came back with his diploma but with the habit of intemperance fastened upon him. It seemed impossible for him to break it, and his old father was fairly crushed. His mother broke her heart and died, all because of her boy. And yet the father loved him. One day the old father stepped from his carriage in the town in which he lived. The son was heard to make a request of him, and when evidently it was refused the boy turned and struck him full in the face. The old father staggered and would have fallen to the walk except for assistance. He entered his carriage, drove back to his home, the servants saw him go out into the grove where his wife was buried, throw himself on the grave and shriek aloud. Some time later the boy returned and the father met him at the door to say, "You must go away; you have disgraced my name and killed your mother and broken my heart." This is the measure of a father's love perhaps in this one instance, but think how many times you have trifled with God, spurned his love, disregarded his Son, and yet he has loved you. And remember also that word which says,
"There is a time, we know not when, A place, we know not where, That seals the destiny of men For glory or despair."
Second: Towards God. How easy a thing it is, therefore, to be saved if there is but one way and this way runs in opposite directions, meaning either life or death. It is just to "right about face," as the soldier would say, by an act of the will and with the help of God to turn away from sin and from self. I am very sure we can do it, because it is commanded in this text, and God would not mock us with a command which could not be obeyed. I am equally sure that we must do it now, for God has plainly stated this in his Word.
Choose Life. As has been indicated, the text proves that we may choose life if we will, but I have more especially in mind the question, "Why should we do it?" and I answer, because it is the best sort of life and the only life.
One of my friends used to tell of a man whom he saw in Colonel Clarke's mission. The man rose for prayers and accepted Christ. Later on he saw him again in the mission. He went forward to testify. He had that look upon his face the result of sin, because of which you could not tell whether he was young or old, and leaning up against the platform he gave his testimony. Among other things he said: "I came to Chicago some little time ago from my home in the east, my father having made two requests—first, that I should change my name because I had disgraced his; second, that I should go away and never return. I had fallen too low here for them to receive me even in the station house, and I was on my way to end it all when I heard the music of this mission and came in and found Christ. As I came down the aisle this evening I heard one man say to another, 'He is getting paid for this,' and I wish to say that I am. I have a letter in my pocket from my father, and he tells me that I cannot come home too soon for him. Boys, I am getting paid. I have a sister at home whose name I would hardly dare to have taken upon my impure lips, and she writes me that every day she has prayed for me and that a welcome home awaits me. I am getting paid, for to-night I am starting back to my New England home."
It is life which we may choose, and life of the very best sort. It is better than anything that this world can give. Men have tried other ways, and they have ended in despair and shame and death, but this way is the path of the just and shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. Therefore choose life and choose it now.
In St. Paul's cathedral in London it is said that under the dome there is a red mark, and I have been told that this mark indicates the place where a workman lost his life. He fell from the scaffolding and was dashed to pieces upon the floor. I have been told that in the Alps very frequently you will see black crosses where men have slipped into eternity as the result of an accident. But I suggest these stories in order that I may say that where you are at this present moment may be the black cross of death, because there some one rejected Christ. If you feel this, choose Jesus Christ; choose him, and choose him now.
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
A CHANGED LIFE
TEXT: "And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity: And he laid his hands on her; and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."—Luke 13:11-13.
These verses present to us one of the most interesting stories imaginable—of interest to us first because it is one of our Lord's miracles, and one has only to study these manifestations of his power to be persuaded of his divinity; interesting, again, because it is the account of a remarkable recovery from a great infirmity, for instead of bondage which had held this woman for eighteen years we behold her standing upright glorifying God. But it is all the more interesting to us because it presents a picture of what may be called the overflow ministry of Jesus, of which there are many instances—as, for example, the account of the staunching of the issue of blood when the woman touched the hem of his garment. He was going upon another errand, but was so filled with virtue that when one of the multitude at his side touched him, by faith healing was the result. And, again, we have an illustration in the raising of Jairus' daughter, and once again in the rescue of the widow's son from death. He was on his journey across the country and beheld the funeral procession coming. Mr. Moody used to say that Jesus broke up every funeral he attended, and he stops long enough in this journey to restore this boy to his broken-hearted mother. Again, in the case of the woman of Samaria, when he is going about his Father's business, he stops by the wellside to rest, and even in his resting moments forgives a woman's sins, so that under her influence an entire city is moved. Would that we could learn that it is the overflow of our lives that gives power to our Christian experience! This text is one of the best illustrations of this truth in the life of our Savior.
Many lessons might be drawn from this scripture, the first of which would be his power to uplift womanhood; but this is so well understood that it is unnecessary to take a moment of time to discuss it, except to say in passing that all that woman is today she owes to Jesus of Nazareth. She was as truly bound as this afflicted woman, and just as truly was she set free. But I prefer rather to let the woman of Samaria illustrate many Christians to-day who are bound in one way or another and so are shorn of power. For this suggestion I am indebted to my dear friend, the Rev. F. B. Meyer, a brief outline of whose sermon I recently had the privilege of reading.
She was a daughter of Abraham, as we read in verse 16, "And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" And therefore she was like many children of God whom we know. What it is that binds them we cannot always tell. With this person it is fashion, and with that it is earnings; with another it is pride, and still another selfishness; with this one it is the encouragement of some passion, and with still another it is the practice of some secret sin. It is not necessary to describe the bondage; it is true, alas, that many of us are sadly crippled in our influence because of these things, for this woman was just as truly bound as if she had been in chains. When Jesus entered the synagogue his eye saw her instantly, and he detected her difficulty. He is in the midst of us to-day, and while we are unconscious of the bondage of the one who is beside us, he understands it perfectly. That minister who has lost his old power and is therefore an enigma to his people, that church officer who is out of communion and whose testimony has lost its old ring of genuineness, that young woman bordering on despair because in her heart she knows she is not right with God, and that young man whose character is being undermined by the cultivation of a secret sin—all these are known to him. He looks them through and through, and not a point of weakness is hidden from his gaze.
Note again, that she was powerless to help herself. I doubt not that she had tried again and again to lift herself up. She had been unable to turn her eyes upward to see the stars, her vision had been centered upon things below, and in this way she is like many a Christian attempting to be satisfied with earthly things and making life a miserable failure. The Scriptures declare that she "could in no wise lift up herself," and I have been told that this expression is the same word which is used in another place in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where Jesus is said to be able to save to the uttermost; so that really the Scriptures mean that she tried to the uttermost to lift herself up and failed, and that she had gone to the uttermost in the matter of bondage, and then because Jesus is able to save to the uttermost he set her free; or, in other words, her need was met by his power. Oh, what an encouragement to know that the thing which has been your defeat and mine he may easily conquer! It is a striking picture to me; he laid his hands on her and said, "Woman, thou art loosed," and she stood straight and glorified God.
Some years ago there came into the McAuley mission, in New York City, a man who was, because of his sin, unable to speak and was bound down until, instead of standing a man six feet high, as he should have done, he was like a dwarf. He came to Christ in the old mission, and when kneeling at the altar he accepted him, as if by a miracle Jesus set him free also, and when he stood up the bonds were snapped that held him, and he had his old stature back again. His speech, however, was not entirely recovered. It is the custom in the mission for one to observe his anniversary each year and to give a testimony. Whenever the anniversary of this man occurred he always had another read his lesson, then he would stand before the people bowed down as he had been in sin and suddenly rise before them in the full dignity of his Christian manhood, glorifying God in his standing. This was like the woman of the text, and oh, that it might be like some one reading this who, bound by an appetite or a passion, shall be set free by the power of God!
The difference between this woman in the one case bound and wretched and in the other straight and glorifying God is the difference between Christians bound by appetite, pride or sin and when set free by the power of Christ. It is the difference between the average Christian experience and what God means we should be.
Two things this woman had—first, his word, when he said, "Woman, thou art loosed"; and, second, the touch of his hand as he laid his hands upon her. Both of these privileges we may have.
Have you really taken all that God meant you should have? Your life is the test of this question. If you are constantly failing at the same point, if you are dominated by a spirit of unrest, if you are lacking in spiritual power, something is wrong and you need the touch of the living Christ. The early disciples were an illustration of those of us who have not yet fully appreciated and appropriated our Savior. He had given them life, for in the seventeenth of John he declares that this is true. They had peace as a possession, for in the fourteenth chapter and twenty-seventh verse he says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." They also had joy as a gift, for he said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full"; and yet they quarreled among themselves, one of them denied him with an oath, and all of them forsook him. They were a weak, vacillating company of men, but suddenly there came a remarkable change. It was as if there had been two Peters. The first was a coward, the second a perfect giant in his fearlessness. The first was afraid of a little girl, the second faced a mob and fearlessly proclaimed the truth of God that condemned him; and the secret of this change is found in the fact that the Holy Ghost had fallen upon him and upon them. This is what we need. Jesus was God's gift to the world, and the Holy Ghost is his gift to the church. Have we failed to take both? A man over in England, telling his pastor about his experience, said that he had taken Jesus for his eternal life and the Holy Ghost for his internal life. This is certainly what we need to do more than anything else. We need the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. He would illuminate our minds as we read the Bible, strengthen our faith as we appropriate Christ, transform our lives as he came to do, and enable us to live and preach in demonstration of the Spirit and with power. Have you ever stopped to think what is really associated with the full acceptance of the third Person of the Trinity?
First, Power. "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you."
Second, Ability to pray. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us."
Third, Victory over sin. "For the law of the Spirit of Christ in Christ Jesus sets me free from the law of sin and death."
Fourth, Cleanness of life. "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit."
Fifth, The representation of Jesus Christ. Not imitation, but reproduction, is what we need.
Two artists are painting before a picture. The work of one is sadly deficient, the other an inspiration, for one is copying while the other is reproducing his own work. Oh, that we might be so filled with the spirit of God that men should take knowledge of us that we not only had been with Jesus but were like him! Two things we need, both of which we may have: His word and his touch. First, his Word. We surely have this. Has he not said, "Ye shall receive power"? But with this there is coupled a condition, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." Fulfilling this condition, we have only to step out upon his promise on the ground of the fact that he has said, "That ye might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Second, we have the touch of his hand. This emphasizes his reality. One of the greatest dangers of the day, it seems to me, is the fact that we are so inclined to make him unreal. It also indicates his nearness. He can fill us so that his life may come throbbing into our very being, and this is the secret of victory in the time of temptation. We must be empty to be filled, but no man can empty himself. Two ways may be presented for the emptying of a jar of air. First, use the air pump; but in this way it cannot be perfectly done. Second, fill the jar with water. This is the better way. When Christ fills our lives he empties us of self and sin. To some unknown friend I am indebted for four steps which we must take if we would be loosed from our bondage and stand straight in the presence of God and men.
First: What God claims I will yield; that is myself.
Second: What I yield God accepts. Since I have taken my hands off from myself I am not my own.
"I have not much to bring Thee, Lord. For that great love which made Thee mine, I have not much to bring Thee, Lord, But all I am is Thine."
Third: What God accepts he fills.
Fourth: What God fills he uses.
Mind you, it is not once and for all that we are filled with the Spirit of God; there will be a necessity for daily renewal, not only because we may sin but also because we may use the strength which he has imparted to us. Three suggestions may be made, therefore, for our constant infilling.
First: Make his word your daily portion. Count that day lost which passes without a portion of his word absorbed into your life.
Second: Make his will supreme. There can be no joy in the household when the children rebel against the parents. There can be no power in Christian experience when our wills are contrary to his.
Third: Make him the king of your life. His coronation will one day come, when he shall be proclaimed King of kings and Lord of lords; but while we wait for that we may crown him in our own lives.
When Queen Victoria had just ascended her throne she went, as is the custom of Royalty, to hear "The Messiah" rendered. She had been instructed as to her conduct by those who knew, and was told that she must not rise when the others stood at the singing of the Hallelujah chorus. When that magnificent chorus was being sung and the singers were shouting "Hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth," she sat with great difficulty. It seemed as if she would rise in spite of the custom of kings and queens, but finally when they came to that part of the chorus where with a shout they proclaim him King of kings suddenly the young queen rose and stood with bowed head, as if she would take her own crown from off her head and cast it at his feet. Let us make him our King and every day be loyal to him. This is the secret of peace.
THE LOST OPPORTUNITY
TEXT: "And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it."—1 Kings 20:40.
There is a very striking incident connected with this text. The great battle is raging, a certain important prisoner has been taken, and if you read between the lines you seem to know that upon him depend many of the issues of war. His skill in leading the enemy had been marvelous, his courage in the thick of the fight striking; and now he is a prisoner. The king puts him in the keeping of a Jewish soldier, saying, "Guard this man; if he escapes thy life shall be demanded for his." It is possible that they gave an extra pull to the thongs that bound the enemy and the guard was left alone with him. It is an important duty he has to perform. His life hangs in the balance. He must have been impressed with it. But, as we read on between the lines, strange as it may seem, he becomes negligent, his bow is laid down and his spear is left standing against the tent. He becomes hungry and takes a few small cakes to eat, he is weary and lies down to doze and sleep. Suddenly there is a snap and a bound, and the guard arouses himself just in time to see his prisoner dash into the thicket, and he is gone. Now the king requires the prisoner at the guard's hand. Terror-stricken, he falls upon his face to cry aloud in the words of the text, "And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it."
It is my purpose to show in this illustration that God is always placing opportunities within our grasp. In a sense they are bound, for they may be made to do our will if we rightly use them. And it is also my purpose to show that as saint and sinner alike we have permitted opportunities to slip away while we doze in weariness or give attention to matters of less importance. God save us all from the expression, "It might have been," when it is too late, for even God himself cannot reverse the wheels of time and bring back the lost opportunity. We see this all about us. I hold in my hands a piece of cold iron. I cannot bend it; if I put it in the fire it becomes pliant; if I take it out it is cold again. There is a point in time, however, where it is bent as easily as a piece of paper.
Years ago our nation sent astronomers to Africa to witness the transit of Venus. Preparation for this great sight had been going on for months. There was a critical moment when the sun, Venus and the earth were all in line. Every astronomer knew that at that moment his eye must be at the smaller end of the glass if he would see the planet go flying past the larger end. If he should miss that moment no power on earth could bring the planet back again. The world is full of these moments.
Galileo studied the eye of an ox and beheld the principle of the lens. Watts [Transcriber's note: Watt?] looked at the teakettle lid as it was lifted by steam, Columbus saw the wind's direction and knew there was land not far away. The difference between these men, to whom the world is indebted, and many others is this, that they have looked at the oxen's eyes and have been unmoved, have allowed the teakettle to boil without making an impression upon them, and the wind to blow without leading them to any shore. The opportunity for greatness is gone. There is not a person in the world but to whom at some time a great opportunity has been given, and for the use or abuse of it we shall be called to a strict account.
These opportunities for doing good come to the one who is a Christian.
First: I would not preach to others what I did not first preach to myself, but there are many of us as ministers like Chalmers, who was one day visiting an old man seventy-two years of age, apparently in perfect health. They talked together about everything but Christ. The minister was inclined to speak about his soul, but did not. Before morning the old man was dead. Dr. Chalmers returned to the house, called all the old man's household about him, and offered the most touching apology and prayer. He spent the entire day in the woods, saying, "If I had been faithful this might not have been." I have no question but God would say, "So shall thy judgment be."
Second: You who are Christian workers have failed. A Christian merchant was told that there was a certain man with whom he had traded for years to whom he had never spoken about his soul. "I will speak the next time I see him," he said, but he never came, for while he was busy here and there the man was gone from him. Before he came again death met him. So shall his judgment be.
Third: You who are parents have failed. Years ago a young Scotchman from Fife, in Scotland, was leaving home. He was not an active Christian. His mother went with him to the turn of the road and said, "Now, Robert, there is one thing you must promise before you go." "No," said the lad, "I will not promise until I know." "But it will not be difficult," said his mother. "Then I will promise," he said. And she said, "Every night before you lie down to sleep read a chapter and pray." He did not want to promise it, but he did. Who was that Robert? It was Robert Moffat, the great missionary, who, when he came into the Kingdom, brought almost a continent in after him. Many a mother has lost her opportunity to speak to her boy, and she has lost it because she has not lived as a mother should who would help her boy. So shall her judgment be.
These opportunities come to the unsaved. The Bible is full of men who have had an opportunity to be saved but are lost.
First: There is Herod. His face blanches as he listens to the truth, he is ready to forsake some of his sin; but more is required than that to be a Christian, and Herod fails.
Second: Look at Felix. As he gazes into the face of Paul the Apostle and hears his message, he trembles; a moment more he will be a Christian; but more is required than that to be saved, and Felix is lost.
Third: Behold Judas. See him at the feet of Jesus. Later he is full of remorse because he has sold him for thirty pieces of silver; but mere remorse never saved a soul, and Judas is lost.
You have doubtless heard of that young girl of whom the poet tells us. She had a string of pearls in her hand and her hand is in the water, the string is broken, and one by one the pearls slip away. So it has been with you who have been Christians. My hope is that there may be one pearl left yet. To-day is the accepted time; do not let the opportunity slip.
The Bible is full of men just the opposite who had opportunities to be saved and embraced them.
First: Zaccheus. There was just one day, one hour, one moment; when Jesus would pass by, and Zaccheus ran to the sycamore tree; but he made haste and came down, and that saved him.
Second: Bartimeus. There was just a moment when Jesus was near to hear the sound of his voice. If Bartimeus failed that moment he would be blind forever. I can see him quickly turning his sightless eyes in the direction of the Savior. He cried unto him and it was his earnestness that saved him. We must make haste while yet it is to-day.
Third: Coming down from the mountain, where he had preached his great sermon, Jesus beheld the leper. He was dead, according to the law, yet he had a napkin bound about his mouth. If one had called to him, "Your child is dead," he could not have gone to see the little one. But he breaks through all of this and cries, "If thou wilt thou canst make me clean." It was his desperation that saved him.
Fourth: Look at the dying thief, so near that he could have touched Christ if he had been free. Here yawned before him the very brink of hell, here was judgment for his sins, for he acknowledged that he was justly punished. I can see him struggle to decide whether he shall speak or not, and at last he cries, "Lord, remember me." And Jesus said, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." It was his last chance, and he took it. And this may be yours. God forbid that you should let the opportunity slip away.
But whether my message is to ministers, to Christian workers, to parents or to the unsaved, I call your attention to this fact: It was when the soldier was busy that the prisoner escaped. Many of you have been busy about pleasure, and some day it will mock you. You have been caught by the fascination of business, and it does not prevent your soul having been surrounded by sin from which after a while you cannot escape, and if the opportunity slips away so shall our judgment be, for we must decide it. In a few years at the latest, possibly in a few months, perhaps in a few weeks—who knows but within a few days?—eternity shall be upon us. If it is an opportunity that is gone or a soul that is lost it will be a sad eternity indeed for us. To this end may God keep us watchful.
A GREAT VICTORY
TEXT: "And they stood every man in his place round about the camp, and all the host ran, and cried, and fled."—Judges 7:21.
Few things in this world are so inspiring to the traveler and at the same time so depressing as a city or temple in ruins. I remember a delightful experience in passing through the ruins of Karnak and Luxor, on the Nile in Egypt, and later passing through Phylae at Assuan on the Nile; and these two thoughts, each the opposite of the other, kept constantly coming to my mind. The loneliness is oppressive, and one would be delighted to hear the song of a bird, the bark of a dog, or the cry of a child. These ruins were once happy homes, or were temples filled with worshipers. Here little children played and gray-haired patriarchs worshiped their gods.
Akin to this picture is the one of the people of Israel at the time of this story, and the alternating feelings of pleasure and sadness keep constantly coming and going. The condition of the land beggared description. Homes were there, but no children were about the doors; there were fields, but no crops to be harvested; pastures, but no cattle fed upon them; the hills were to be seen, but no flocks bleated on their sides; people were there, but they were found in the caves and hiding away on the mountain sides. When they had entered Canaan, these chosen people of God, he had said unto them, "And it shall come to pass, if thou shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth; and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face; they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee."