NEW TABERNACLE SERMONS BY T. DE WITT TALMAGE, D.D.
AUTHOR OF "CRUMBS SWEPT UP," "THE ABOMINATIONS OF MODERN SOCIETY," etc.
Delivered in the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
NEW YORK: GEORGE MUNRO, PUBLISHER, 17 TO 27 VANDEWATER STREET. 1886.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1885, by GEORGE MUNRO, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D.C.
PAGE BRAWN AND MUSCLE 7 THE PLEIADES AND ORION 21 THE QUEEN'S VISIT 34 VICARIOUS SUFFERING 45 POSTHUMOUS OPPORTUNITY 59 THE LORD'S RAZOR 72 WINDOWS TOWARD JERUSALEM 83 STORMED AND TAKEN 95 ALL THE WORLD AKIN 108 A MOMENTOUS QUEST 119 THE GREAT ASSIZE 134 THE ROAD TO THE CITY 147 THE RANSOMLESS 158 THE THREE GROUPS 171 THE INSIGNIFICANT 184 THE THREE RINGS 197 HOW HE CAME TO SAY IT 209 CASTLE JESUS 221 STRIPPING THE SLAIN 233 SOLD OUT 246 SUMMER TEMPTATIONS 259 THE BANISHED QUEEN 274 THE DAY WE LIVE IN 285 CAPITAL AND LABOR 297 DESPOTISM OF THE NEEDLE 311 TOBACCO AND OPIUM 325 WHY ARE SATAN AND SIN PERMITTED? 339
BRAWN AND MUSCLE.
"And Samson went down to Timnath."—JUDGES xiv: 1.
There are two sides to the character of Samson. The one phase of his life, if followed into the particulars, would administer to the grotesque and the mirthful; but there is a phase of his character fraught with lessons of solemn and eternal import. To these graver lessons we devote our morning sermon.
This giant no doubt in early life gave evidences of what he was to be. It is almost always so. There were two Napoleons—the boy Napoleon and the man Napoleon—but both alike; two Howards—the boy Howard and the man Howard—but both alike; two Samsons—the boy Samson and the man Samson—but both alike. This giant was no doubt the hero of the playground, and nothing could stand before his exhibitions of youthful prowess. At eighteen years of age he was betrothed to the daughter of a Philistine. Going down toward Timnath, a lion came out upon him, and, although this young giant was weaponless, he seized the monster by the long mane and shook him as a hungry hound shakes a March hare, and made his bones crack, and left him by the wayside bleeding under the smiting of his fist and the grinding heft of his heel.
There he stands, looming up above other men, a mountain of flesh, his arms bunched with muscle that can lift the gate of a city, taking an attitude defiant of everything. His hair had never been cut, and it rolled down in seven great plaits over his shoulders, adding to his bulk, fierceness, and terror. The Philistines want to conquer him, and therefore they must find out where the secret of his strength lies.
There is a dissolute woman living in the valley of Sorek by the name of Delilah. They appoint her the agent in the case. The Philistines are secreted in the same building, and then Delilah goes to work and coaxes Samson to tell what is the secret of his strength. "Well," he says, "if you should take seven green withes such as they fasten wild beasts with and put them around me I should be perfectly powerless." So she binds him with the seven green withes. Then she claps her hands and says: "They come—the Philistines!" and he walks out as though they were no impediment. She coaxes him again, and says: "Now tell me the secret of this great strength?" and he replies: "If you should take some ropes that have never been used and tie me with them I should be just like other men." She ties him with the ropes, claps her hands, and shouts: "They come—the Philistines!" He walks out as easily as he did before—not a single obstruction. She coaxes him again, and he says: "Now, if you should take these seven long plaits of hair, and by this house-loom weave them into a web, I could not get away." So the house-loom is rolled up, and the shuttle flies backward and forward and the long plaits of hair are woven into a web. Then she claps her hands, and says: "They come—the Philistines!" He walks out as easily as he did before, dragging a part of the loom with him.
But after awhile she persuades him to tell the truth. He says: "If you should take a razor or shears and cut off this long hair, I should be powerless and in the hands of my enemies." Samson sleeps, and that she may not wake him up during the process of shearing, help is called in. You know that the barbers of the East have such a skillful way of manipulating the head to this very day that, instead of waking up a sleeping man, they will put a man wide awake sound asleep. I hear the blades of the shears grinding against each other, and I see the long locks falling off. The shears or razor accomplishes what green withes and new ropes and house-loom could not do. Suddenly she claps her hands, and says: "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!" He rouses up with a struggle, but his strength is all gone. He is in the hands of his enemies.
I hear the groan of the giant as they take his eyes out, and then I see him staggering on in his blindness, feeling his way as he goes on toward Gaza. The prison door is open, and the giant is thrust in. He sits down and puts his hands on the mill-crank, which, with exhausting horizontal motion, goes day after day, week after week, month after month—work, work, work! The consternation of the world in captivity, his locks shorn, his eyes punctured, grinding corn in Gaza!
I. First of all, behold in this giant of the text that physical power is not always an index of moral power. He was a huge man—the lion found it out, and the three thousand men whom he slew found it out; yet he was the subject of petty revenges and out-gianted by low passion. I am far from throwing any discredit upon physical stamina. There are those who seem to have great admiration for delicacy and sickliness of constitution. I never could see any glory in weak nerves or sick headache. Whatever effort in our day is made to make the men and women more robust should have the favor of every good citizen as well as of every Christian. Gymnastics may be positively religious.
Good people sometimes ascribe to a wicked heart what they ought to ascribe to a slow liver. The body and the soul are such near neighbors that they often catch each other's diseases. Those who never saw a sick day, and who, like Hercules, show the giant in the cradle, have more to answer for than those who are the subjects of life-long infirmities. He who can lift twice as much as you can, and walk twice as far, and work twice as long, will have a double account to meet in the judgment.
How often it is that you do not find physical energy indicative of spiritual power! If a clear head is worth more than one dizzy with perpetual vertigo—if muscles with the play of health in them are worth more than those drawn up in chronic "rheumatics"—if an eye quick to catch passing objects is better than one with vision dim and uncertain—then God will require of us efficiency just in proportion to what he has given us. Physical energy ought to be a type of moral power. We ought to have as good digestion of truth as we have capacity to assimilate food. Our spiritual hearing ought to be as good as our physical hearing. Our spiritual taste ought to be as clear as our tongue. Samsons in body, we ought to be giants in moral power.
But while you find a great many men who realize that they ought to use their money aright, and use their intelligence aright, how few men you find aware of the fact that they ought to use their physical organism aright! With every thump of the heart there is something saying, "Work! work!" and, lest we should complain that we have no tools to work with, God gives us our hands and feet, with every knuckle, and with every joint, and with every muscle saying to us, "Lay hold and do something."
But how often it is that men with physical strength do not serve Christ! They are like a ship full manned and full rigged, capable of vast tonnage, able to endure all stress of weather, yet swinging idly at the docks, when these men ought to be crossing and recrossing the great ocean of human suffering and sin with God's supplies of mercy. How often it is that physical strength is used in doing positive damage, or in luxurious ease, when, with sleeves rolled up and bronzed bosom, fearless of the shafts of opposition, it ought to be laying hold with all its might, and tugging away to lift up this sunken wreck of a world.
It is a most shameful fact that much of the business of the Church and of the world must be done by those comparatively invalid. Richard Baxter, by reason of his diseases, all his days sitting in the door of the tomb, yet writing more than a hundred volumes, and sending out an influence for God that will endure as long as the "Saints' Everlasting Rest." Edward Payson, never knowing a well day, yet how he preached, and how he wrote, helping thousands of dying souls like himself to swim in a sea of glory! And Robert M'Cheyne, a walking skeleton, yet you know what he did in Dundee, and how he shook Scotland with zeal for God. Philip Doddridge, advised by his friends, because of his illness, not to enter the ministry, yet you know what he did for the "rise and progress of religion" in the Church and in the world.
Wilberforce was told by his doctors that he could not live a fortnight, yet at that very time entering upon philanthropic enterprises that demanded the greatest endurance and persistence. Robert Hall, suffering excruciations, so that often in his pulpit while preaching he would stop and lie down on a sofa, then getting up again to preach about heaven until the glories of the celestial city dropped on the multitude, doing more work, perhaps, than almost any well man in his day.
Oh, how often it is that men with great physical endurance are not as great in moral and spiritual stature! While there are achievements for those who are bent all their days with sickness—achievements of patience, achievements of Christian endurance—I call upon men of health to-day, men of muscle, men of nerve, men of physical power, to devote themselves to the Lord. Giants in body, you ought to be giants in soul.
II. Behold also, in the story of my text, illustration of the fact of the damage that strength can do if it be misguided. It seems to me that this man spent a great deal of his time in doing evil—this Samson of my text. To pay a bet which he had lost by guessing of his riddle he robs and kills thirty people. He was not only gigantic in strength, but gigantic in mischief, and a type of those men in all ages of the world who, powerful in body or mind, or any faculty of social position or wealth, have used their strength for iniquitous purposes.
It is not the small, weak men of the day who do the damage. These small men who go swearing and loafing about your stores and shops and banking-houses, assailing Christ and the Bible and the Church—they do not do the damage. They have no influence. They are vermin that you crush with your foot. But it is the giants of the day, the misguided giants, giants in physical power, or giants in mental acumen, or giants in social position, or giants in wealth, who do the damage.
The men with sharp pens that stab religion and throw their poison all through our literature; the men who use the power of wealth to sanction iniquity, and bribe justice, and make truth and honor bow to their golden scepter.
Misguided giants—look out for them! In the middle and the latter part of the last century no doubt there were thousands of men in Paris and Edinburgh and London who hated God and blasphemed the name of the Almighty; but they did but little mischief—they were small men, insignificant men. Yet there were giants in those days.
Who can calculate the soul-havoc of a Rousseau, going on with a very enthusiasm of iniquity, with fiery imagination seizing upon all the impulsive natures of his day? or David Hume, who employed his life as a spider employs its summer, in spinning out silken webs to trap the unwary? or Voltaire, the most learned man of his day, marshaling a great host of skeptics, and leading them out in the dark land of infidelity? or Gibbon, who showed an uncontrollable grudge against religion in his history of one of the most fascinating periods of the world's existence—the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—a book in which, with all the splendors of his genius, he magnified the errors of Christian disciples, while, with a sparseness of notice that never can be forgiven, he treated of the Christian heroes of whom the world was not worthy?
Oh, men of stout physical health, men of great mental stature, men of high social position, men of great power of any sort, I want you to understand your power, and I want you to know that that power devoted to God will be a crown on earth, to you typical of a crown in heaven; but misguided, bedraggled in sin, administrative of evil, God will thunder against you with His condemnation in the day when millionaire and pauper, master and slave, king and subject, shall stand side by side in the judgment, and money-bags, and judicial ermine, and royal robe shall be riven with the lightnings.
Behold also, how a giant may be slain of a woman. Delilah started the train of circumstances that pulled down the temple of Dagon about Samson's ears. And tens of thousands of giants have gone down to death and hell through the same impure fascinations. It seems to me that it is high time that pulpit and platform and printing-press speak out against the impurities of modern society. Fastidiousness and Prudery say: "Better not speak—you will rouse up adverse criticism; you will make worse what you want to make better; better deal in glittering generalities; the subject is too delicate for polite ears." But there comes a voice from heaven overpowering the mincing sentimentalities of the day, saying: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins."
The trouble is that when people write or speak upon this theme they are apt to cover it up with the graces of belles-lettres, so that the crime is made attractive instead of repulsive. Lord Byron in "Don Juan" adorns this crime until it smiles like a May queen. Michelet, the great French writer, covers it up with bewitching rhetoric until it glows like the rising sun, when it ought to be made loathsome as a small-pox hospital. There are to-day influences abroad which, if unresisted by the pulpit and the printing-press, will turn New York and Brooklyn into Sodom and Gomorrah, fit only for the storm of fire and brimstone that whelmed the cities of the plain.
You who are seated in your Christian homes, compassed by moral and religious restraints, do not realize the gulf of iniquity that bounds you on the north and the south and the east and the west. While I speak there are tens of thousands of men and women going over the awful plunge of an impure life; and while I cry to God for mercy upon their souls, I call upon you to marshal in the defense of your homes, your Church and your nation. There is a banqueting hall that you have never heard described. You know all about the feast of Ahasuerus, where a thousand lords sat. You know all about Belshazzar's carousal, where the blood of the murdered king spurted into the faces of the banqueters. You may know of the scene of riot and wassail, when there was set before Esopus one dish of food that cost $400,000. But I speak now of a different banqueting hall. Its roof is fretted with fire. Its floor is tesselated with fire. Its chalices are chased with fire. Its song is a song of fire. Its walls are buttresses of fire. Solomon refers to it when he says: "Her guests are in the depths of hell."
Our American communities are suffering from the gospel of Free Loveism, which, fifteen or twenty years ago, was preached on the platform and in some of the churches of this country. I charge upon Free Loveism that it has blighted innumerable homes, and that it has sent innumerable souls to ruin. Free Loveism is bestial; it is worse—it is infernal! It has furnished this land with about one thousand divorces annually. In one county in the State of Indiana it furnished eleven divorces in one day before dinner. It has roused up elopements, North, South, East, and West. You can hardly take up a paper but you read of an elopement. As far as I can understand the doctrine of Free Loveism it is this: That every man ought to have somebody else's wife, and every wife somebody else's husband. They do not like our Christian organization of society, and I wish they would all elope, the wretches of one sex taking the wretches of the other, and start to-morrow morning for the great Sahara Desert, until the simoom shall sweep seven feet of sand all over them, and not one passing caravan for the next five hundred years bring back one miserable bone of their carcasses! Free Loveism! It is the double-distilled extract of nux vomica, ratsbane, and adder's tongue. Never until society goes back to the old Bible, and hears its eulogy of purity and its anathema of uncleanness—never until then will this evil be extirpated.
IV. Behold also in this giant of the text and in the giant of our own century that great physical power must crumble and expire. The Samson of the text long ago went away. He fought the lion. He fought the Philistines. He could fight anything, but death was too much for him. He may have required a longer grave and a broader grave; but the tomb nevertheless was his terminus.
If, then, we are to be compelled to go out of this world, where are we to go to? This body and soul must soon part. What shall be the destiny of the former I know—dust to dust. But what shall be the destiny of the latter? Shall it rise into the companionship of the white-robed, whose sins Christ has slain? or will it go down among the unbelieving, who tried to gain the world and save their souls, but were swindled out of both? Blessed be God, we have a Champion! He is so styled in the Bible: A Champion who has conquered death and hell, and he is ready to fight all our battles from the first to the last. "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, mighty to save?" If we follow in the wake of that Champion death has no power and the grave no victory. The worst man trusting in Him shall have his dying pangs alleviated and his future illumined.
V. In the light of this subject I want to call your attention to a fact which may not have been rightly considered by five men in this house, and that is the fact that we must be brought into judgment for the employment of our physical organism. Shoulder, brain, hand, foot—we must answer in judgment for the use we have made of them. Have they been used for the elevation of society or for its depression? In proportion as our arm is strong and our step elastic will our account at last be intensified. Thousands of sermons are preached to invalids. I preach this sermon this morning to stout men and healthful women. We must give to God an account for the right use of this physical organism.
These invalids have comparatively little to account for, perhaps. They could not lift twenty pounds. They could not walk half a mile without sitting down to rest. In the preparation of this subject I have said to myself, how shall I account to God in judgment for the use of a body which never knew one moment of real sickness? Rising up in judgment, standing beside the men and women who had only little physical energy, and yet consumed that energy in a conflagration of religious enthusiasm, how will we feel abashed!
Oh, men of the strong arm and the stout heart, what use are you making of your physical forces? Will you be able to stand the test of that day when we must answer for the use of every talent, whether it were a physical energy, or a mental acumen, or a spiritual power?
The day approaches, and I see one who in this world was an invalid, and as she stands before the throne of God to answer she says, "I was sick all my days. I had but very little strength, but I did as well as I could in being kind to those who were more sick and more suffering." And Christ will say, "Well done, faithful servant."
And then a little child will stand before the throne, and she will say, "On earth I had a curvature of the spine, and I was very weak, and I was very sick; but I used to gather flowers out of the wild-wood and bring them to my sick mother, and she was comforted when she saw the sweet flowers out of the wild-wood. I didn't do much, but I did something." And Christ shall say, as He takes her up in His arm and kisses her, "Well done, well done, faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
What, then, will be said to us—we to whom the Lord gave physical strength and continuous health? Hark! it thunders again. The judgment! the judgment!
I said to an old Scotch minister, who was one of the best friends I ever had, "Doctor, did you ever know Robert Pollock, the Scotch poet, who wrote 'The Course of Time'?" "Oh, yes," he replied, "I knew him well; I was his classmate." And then the doctor went on to tell me how that the writing of "The Course of Time" exhausted the health of Robert Pollock, and he expired. It seems as if no man could have such a glimpse of the day for which all other days were made as Robert Pollock had, and long survive that glimpse. In the description of that day he says, among other things:
"Begin the woe, ye woods, and tell it to the doleful winds And doleful winds wail to the howling hills, And howling hills mourn to the dismal vales, And dismal vales sigh to the sorrowing brooks, And sorrowing brooks weep to the weeping stream, And weeping stream awake the groaning deep; Ye heavens, great archway of the universe, put sack-cloth on; And ocean, robe thyself in garb of widowhood, And gather all thy waves into a groan, and utter it. Long, loud, deep, piercing, dolorous, immense. The occasion asks it, Nature dies, and angels come to lay her in her grave."
What Robert Pollock saw in poetic dream, you and I will see in positive reality—the judgment! the judgment!
THE PLEIADES AND ORION.
"Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion."—AMOS. v. 8
A country farmer wrote this text—Amos of Tekoa. He plowed the earth and threshed the grain by a new threshing-machine just invented, as formerly the cattle trod out the grain. He gathered the fruit of the sycamore-tree, and scarified it with an iron comb just before it was getting ripe, as it was necessary and customary in that way to take from it the bitterness. He was the son of a poor shepherd, and stuttered; but before the stammering rustic the Philistines, and Syrians, and Phoenicians, and Moabites, and Ammonites, and Edomites, and Israelites trembled.
Moses was a law-giver, Daniel was a prince, Isaiah a courtier, and David a king; but Amos, the author of my text, was a peasant, and, as might be supposed, nearly all his parallelisms are pastoral, his prophecy full of the odor of new-mown hay, and the rattle of locusts, and the rumble of carts with sheaves, and the roar of wild beasts devouring the flock while the shepherd came out in their defense. He watched the herds by day, and by night inhabited a booth made out of bushes, so that through these branches he could see the stars all night long, and was more familiar with them than we who have tight roofs to our houses, and hardly ever see the stars except among the tall brick chimneys of the great towns. But at seasons of the year when the herds were in special danger, he would stay out in the open field all through the darkness, his only shelter the curtain of the night, heaven, with the stellar embroideries and silvered tassels of lunar light.
What a life of solitude, all alone with his herds! Poor Amos! And at twelve o'clock at night, hark to the wolf's bark, and the lion's roar, and the bear's growl, and the owl's te-whit-te-whos, and the serpent's hiss, as he unwittingly steps too near while moving through the thickets! So Amos, like other herdsmen, got the habit of studying the map of the heavens, because it was so much of the time spread out before him. He noticed some stars advancing and others receding. He associated their dawn and setting with certain seasons of the year. He had a poetic nature, and he read night by night, and month by month, and year by year, the poem of the constellations, divinely rhythmic. But two rosettes of stars especially attracted his attention while seated on the ground, or lying on his back under the open scroll of the midnight heavens—the Pleiades, or Seven Stars, and Orion. The former group this rustic prophet associated with the spring, as it rises about the first of May. The latter he associated with the winter, as it comes to the meridian in January. The Pleiades, or Seven Stars, connected with all sweetness and joy; Orion, the herald of the tempest. The ancients were the more apt to study the physiognomy and juxtaposition of the heavenly bodies, because they thought they had a special influence upon the earth; and perhaps they were right. If the moon every few hours lifts and lets down the tides of the Atlantic Ocean, and the electric storms of last year in the sun, by all scientific admission, affected the earth, why not the stars have proportionate effect?
And there are some things which make me think that it may not have been all superstition which connected the movements and appearance of the heavenly bodies with great moral events on earth. Did not a meteor run on evangelistic errand on the first Christmas night, and designate the rough cradle of our Lord? Did not the stars in their courses fight against Sisera? Was it merely coincidental that before the destruction of Jerusalem the moon was eclipsed for twelve consecutive nights? Did it merely happen so that a new star appeared in constellation Cassiopeia, and then disappeared just before King Charles IX. of France, who was responsible for St. Bartholomew massacre, died? Was it without significance that in the days of the Roman Emperor Justinian war and famine were preceded by the dimness of the sun, which for nearly a year gave no more light than the moon, although there were no clouds to obscure it?
Astrology, after all, may have been something more than a brilliant heathenism. No wonder that Amos of the text, having heard these two anthems of the stars, put down the stout rough staff of the herdsman and took into his brown hand and cut and knotted fingers the pen of a prophet, and advised the recreant people of his time to return to God, saying: "Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion." This command, which Amos gave 785 years B.C., is just as appropriate for us, 1885 A.D.
In the first place, Amos saw, as we must see, that the God who made the Pleiades and Orion must be the God of order. It was not so much a star here and a star there that impressed the inspired herdsman, but seven in one group, and seven in the other group. He saw that night after night and season after season and decade after decade they had kept step of light, each one in its own place, a sisterhood never clashing and never contesting precedence. From the time Hesiod called the Pleiades the "seven daughters of Atlas" and Virgil wrote in his AEneid of "Stormy Orion" until now, they have observed the order established for their coming and going; order written not in manuscript that may be pigeon-holed, but with the hand of the Almighty on the dome of the sky, so that all nations may read it. Order. Persistent order. Sublime order. Omnipotent order.
What a sedative to you and me, to whom communities and nations sometimes seem going pell-mell, and world ruled by some fiend at hap-hazard, and in all directions maladministration! The God who keeps seven worlds in right circuit for six thousand years can certainly keep all the affairs of individuals and nations and continents in adjustment. We had not better fret much, for the peasant's argument of the text was right. If God can take care of the seven worlds of the Pleiades and the four chief worlds of Orion, He can probably take care of the one world we inhabit.
So I feel very much as my father felt one day when we were going to the country mill to get a grist ground, and I, a boy of seven years, sat in the back part of the wagon, and our yoke of oxen ran away with us and along a labyrinthine road through the woods, so that I thought every moment we would be dashed to pieces, and I made a terrible outcry of fright, and my father turned to me with a face perfectly calm, and said: "De Witt, what are you crying about? I guess we can ride as fast as the oxen can run." And, my hearers, why should we be affrighted and lose our equilibrium in the swift movement of worldly events, especially when we are assured that it is not a yoke of unbroken steers that are drawing us on, but that order and wise government are in the yoke?
In your occupation, your mission, your sphere, do the best you can, and then trust to God; and if things are all mixed and disquieting, and your brain is hot and your heart sick, get some one to go out with you into the starlight and point out to you the Pleiades, or, better than that, get into some observatory, and through the telescope see further than Amos with the naked eye could—namely, two hundred stars in the Pleiades, and that in what is called the sword of Orion there is a nebula computed to be two trillion two hundred thousand billions of times larger than the sun. Oh, be at peace with the God who made all that and controls all that—the wheel of the constellations turning in the wheel of galaxies for thousands of years without the breaking of a cog or the slipping of a band or the snap of an axle. For your placidity and comfort through the Lord Jesus Christ I charge you, "Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion."
Again, Amos saw, as we must see, that the God who made these two groups of the text was the God of light. Amos saw that God was not satisfied with making one star, or two or three stars, but He makes seven; and having finished that group of worlds, makes another group—group after group. To the Pleiades He adds Orion. It seems that God likes light so well that He keeps making it. Only one being in the universe knows the statistics of solar, lunar, stellar, meteoric creations, and that is the—Creator Himself. And they have all been lovingly christened, each one a name as distinct as the names of your children. "He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names." The seven Pleiades had names given to them, and they are Alcyone, Merope, Celaeno, Electra, Sterope, Taygete, and Maia.
But think of the billions and trillions of daughters of starry light that God calls by name as they sweep by Him with beaming brow and lustrous robe! So fond is God of light—natural light, moral light, spiritual light. Again and again is light harnessed for symbolization—Christ, the bright and morning star; evangelization, the daybreak; the redemption of nations, Sun of Righteousness rising with healing in His wings. Oh, men and women, with so many sorrows and sins and perplexities, if you want light of comfort, light of pardon, light of goodness, in earnest, pray through Christ, "Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion."
Again, Amos saw, as we must see, that the God who made these two archipelagoes of stars must be an unchanging God. There had been no change in the stellar appearance in this herdsman's life-time, and his father, a shepherd, reported to him that there had been no change in his life-time. And these two clusters hang over the celestial arbor now just as they were the first night that they shone on the Edenic bowers, the same as when the Egyptians built the Pyramids from the top of which to watch them, the same as when the Chaldeans calculated the eclipses, the same as when Elihu, according to the Book of Job, went out to study the aurora borealis, the same under Ptolemaic system and Copernican system, the same from Calisthenes to Pythagoras, and from Pythagoras to Herschel. Surely, a changeless God must have fashioned the Pleiades and Orion! Oh, what an anodyne amid the ups and downs of life, and the flux and reflux of the tides of prosperity, to know that we have a changeless God, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.
Xerxes garlanded and knighted the steersman of his boat in the morning, and hanged him in the evening of the same day. Fifty thousand people stood around the columns of the national capitol, shouting themselves hoarse at the presidential inaugural, and in four months so great were the antipathies that a ruffian's pistol in Washington depot expressed the sentiment of a great multitude. The world sits in its chariot and drives tandem, and the horse ahead is Huzza, and the horse behind is Anathema. Lord Cobham, in King James' time, was applauded, and had thirty-five thousand dollars a year, but was afterward execrated, and lived on scraps stolen from the royal kitchen. Alexander the Great after death remained unburied for thirty days, because no one would do the honor of shoveling him under. The Duke of Wellington refused to have his iron fence mended, because it had been broken by an infuriated populace in some hour of political excitement, and he left it in ruins that men might learn what a fickle thing is human favor. "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto the children's children of such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them." This moment "seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion."
Again, Amos saw, as we must see, that the God who made these two beacons of the Oriental night sky must be a God of love and kindly warning. The Pleiades rising in mid-sky said to all the herdsmen and shepherds and husbandmen: "Come out and enjoy the mild weather, and cultivate your gardens and fields." Orion, coming in winter, warned them to prepare for tempest. All navigation was regulated by these two constellations. The one said to shipmaster and crew: "Hoist sail for the sea, and gather merchandise from other lands." But Orion was the storm-signal, and said: "Reef sail, make things snug, or put into harbor, for the hurricanes are getting their wings out." As the Pleiades were the sweet evangels of the spring, Orion was the warning prophet of the winter.
Oh, now I get the best view of God I ever had! There are two kinds of sermons I never want to preach—the one that presents God so kind, so indulgent, so lenient, so imbecile that men may do what they will against Him, and fracture His every law, and put the cry of their impertinence and rebellion under His throne, and while they are spitting in His face and stabbing at His heart, He takes them up in His arms and kisses their infuriated brow and cheek, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." The other kind of sermon I never want to preach is the one that represents God as all fire and torture and thundercloud, and with red-hot pitch-fork tossing the human race into paroxysms of infinite agony. The sermon that I am now preaching believes in a God of loving, kindly warning, the God of spring and winter, the God of the Pleiades and Orion.
You must remember that the winter is just as important as the spring. Let one winter pass without frost to kill vegetation and ice to bind the rivers and snow to enrich our fields, and then you will have to enlarge your hospitals and your cemeteries. "A green Christmas makes a fat grave-yard," was the old proverb. Storms to purify the air. Thermometer at ten degrees above zero to tone up the system. December and January just as important as May and June. I tell you we need the storms of life as much as we do the sunshine. There are more men ruined by prosperity than by adversity. If we had our own way in life, before this we would have been impersonations of selfishness and worldliness and disgusting sin, and puffed up until we would have been like Julius Caesar, who was made by sycophants to believe that he was divine, and the freckles on his face were as the stars of the firmament.
One of the swiftest transatlantic voyages made last summer by the "Etruria" was because she had a stormy wind abaft, chasing her from New York to Liverpool. But to those going in the opposite direction the storm was a buffeting and a hinderance. It is a bad thing to have a storm ahead, pushing us back; but if we be God's children and aiming toward heaven, the storms of life will only chase us the sooner into the harbor. I am so glad to believe that the monsoons, and typhoons, and mistrals, and siroccos of the land and sea are not unchained maniacs let loose upon the earth, but are under divine supervision! I am so glad that the God of the Seven Stars is also the God of Orion! It was out of Dante's suffering came the sublime "Divina Commedia," and out of John Milton's blindness came "Paradise Lost," and out of miserable infidel attack came the "Bridgewater Treatise" in favor of Christianity, and out of David's exile came the songs of consolation, and out of the sufferings of Christ came the possibility of the world's redemption, and out of your bereavement, your persecution, your poverties, your misfortunes, may yet come an eternal heaven.
Oh, what a mercy it is that in the text and all up and down the Bible God induces us to look out toward other worlds! Bible astronomy in Genesis, in Joshua, in Job, in the Psalms, in the prophets, major and minor, in St. John's Apocalypse, practically saying, "Worlds! worlds! worlds! Get ready for them!" We have a nice little world here that we stick to, as though losing that we lose all. We are afraid of falling off this little raft of a world. We are afraid that some meteoric iconoclast will some night smash it, and we want everything to revolve around it, and are disappointed when we find that it revolves around the sun instead of the sun revolving around it. What a fuss we make about this little bit of a world, its existence only a short time between two spasms, the paroxysm by which it was hurled from chaos into order, and the paroxysm of its demolition.
And I am glad that so many texts call us to look off to other worlds, many of them larger and grander and more resplendent. "Look there," says Job, "at Mazaroth and Arcturus and his sons!" "Look there," says St. John, "at the moon under Christ's feet!" "Look there," says Joshua, "at the sun standing still above Gibeon!" "Look there," says Moses, "at the sparkling firmament!" "Look there," says Amos, the herdsman, "at the Seven Stars and Orion!" Don't let us be so sad about those who shove off from this world under Christly pilotage. Don't let us be so agitated about our own going off this little barge or sloop or canal-boat of a world to get on some "Great Eastern" of the heavens. Don't let us persist in wanting to stay in this barn, this shed, this outhouse of a world, when all the King's palaces already occupied by many of our best friends are swinging wide open their gates to let us in.
When I read, "In my Father's house are many mansions," I do not know but that each world is a room, and as many rooms as there are worlds, stellar stairs, stellar galleries, stellar hallways, stellar windows, stellar domes. How our departed friends must pity us shut up in these cramped apartments, tired if we walk fifteen miles, when they some morning, by one stroke of wing, can make circuit of the whole stellar system and be back in time for matins! Perhaps yonder twinkling constellation is the residence of the martyrs; that group of twelve luminaries is the celestial home of the Apostles. Perhaps that steep of light is the dwelling-place of angels cherubic, seraphic, archangelic. A mansion with as many rooms as worlds, and all their windows illuminated for festivity.
Oh, how this widens and lifts and stimulates our expectation! How little it makes the present, and how stupendous it makes the future! How it consoles us about our pious dead, that instead of being boxed up and under the ground have the range of as many rooms as there are worlds, and welcome everywhere, for it is the Father's house, in which there are many mansions! Oh, Lord God of the Seven Stars and Orion, how can I endure the transport, the ecstasy, of such a vision! I must obey my text and seek Him. I will seek Him. I seek Him now, for I call to mind that it is not the material universe that is most valuable, but the spiritual, and that each of us has a soul worth more than all the worlds which the inspired herdsman saw from his booth on the hills of Tekoa.
I had studied it before, but the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany, never impressed me as it did this summer. It is admittedly the grandest Gothic structure in the world, its foundation laid in 1248, only two or three years ago completed. More than six hundred years in building. All Europe taxed for its construction. Its chapel of the Magi with precious stones enough to purchase a kingdom. Its chapel of St. Agnes with masterpieces of painting. Its spire springing five hundred and eleven feet into the heavens. Its stained glass the chorus of all rich colors. Statues encircling the pillars and encircling all. Statues above statues, until sculpture can do no more, but faints and falls back against carved stalls and down on pavements over which the kings and queens of the earth have walked to confession. Nave and aisles and transept and portals combining the splendors of sunrise. Interlaced, interfoliated, intercolumned grandeur. As I stood outside, looking at the double range of flying buttresses and the forest of pinnacles, higher and higher and higher, until I almost reeled from dizziness, I exclaimed; "Great doxology in stone! Frozen prayer of many nations!"
But while standing there I saw a poor man enter and put down his pack and kneel beside his burden on the hard floor of that cathedral. And tears of deep emotion came into my eyes, as I said to myself: "There is a soul worth more than all the material surroundings. That man will live after the last pinnacle has fallen, and not one stone of all that cathedral glory shall remain uncrumbled. He is now a Lazarus in rags and poverty and weariness, but immortal, and a son of the Lord God Almighty; and the prayer he now offers, though amid many superstitions, I believe God will hear; and among the Apostles whose sculptured forms stand in the surrounding niches he will at last be lifted, and into the presence of that Christ whose sufferings are represented by the crucifix before which he bows; and be raised in due time out of all his poverties into the glorious home built for him and built for us by 'Him who maketh the Seven Stars and Orion.'"
THE QUEEN'S VISIT.
"Behold, the half was not told me."—I KINGS x: 7.
Solomon had resolved that Jerusalem should be the center of all sacred, regal, and commercial magnificence. He set himself to work, and monopolized the surrounding desert as a highway for his caravans. He built the city of Palmyra around one of the principal wells of the East, so that all the long trains of merchandise from the East were obliged to stop there, pay toll, and leave part of their wealth in the hands of Solomon's merchants. He manned the fortress Thapsacus at the chief ford of the Euphrates, and put under guard everything that passed there. The three great products of Palestine—wine pressed from the richest clusters and celebrated all the world over; oil which in that hot country is the entire substitute for butter and lard, and was pressed from the olive branches until every tree in the country became an oil well; and honey which was the entire substitute for sugar—these three great products of the country Solomon exported, and received in return fruits and precious woods and the animals of every clime.
He went down to Ezion-geber and ordered a fleet of ships to be constructed, oversaw the workmen, and watched the launching of the flotilla which was to go out on more than a year's voyage, to bring home the wealth of the then known world. He heard that the Egyptian horses were large and swift, and long-maned and round-limbed, and he resolved to purchase them, giving eighty-five dollars apiece for them, putting the best of these horses in his own stall, and selling the surplus to foreign potentates at great profit.
He heard that there was the best of timber on Mount Lebanon, and he sent out one hundred and eighty thousand men to hew down the forest and drag the timber through the mountain gorges, to construct it into rafts to be floated to Joppa, and from thence to be drawn by ox-teams twenty-five miles across the land to Jerusalem. He heard that there were beautiful flowers in other lands. He sent for them, planted them in his own gardens, and to this very day there are flowers found in the ruins of that city such as are to be found in no other part of Palestine, the lineal descendants of the very flowers that Solomon planted. He heard that in foreign groves there were birds of richest voice and most luxuriant wing. He sent out people to catch them and bring them there, and he put them into his cages.
Stand back now and see this long train of camels coming up to the king's gate, and the ox-trains from Egypt, gold and silver and precious stones, and beasts of every hoof, and birds of every wing, and fish of every scale! See the peacocks strut under the cedars, and the horsemen run, and the chariots wheel! Hark to the orchestra! Gaze upon the dance! Not stopping to look into the wonders of the temple, step right on to the causeway, and pass up to Solomon's palace!
Here we find ourselves amid a collection of buildings on which the king had lavished the wealth of many empires. The genius of Hiram, the architect, and of the other artists is here seen in the long line of corridors and the suspended gallery and the approach to the throne. Traceried window opposite traceried window. Bronzed ornaments bursting into lotus and lily and pomegranate. Chapiters surrounded by network of leaves in which imitation fruit seemed suspended as in hanging baskets. Three branches—so Josephus tells us—three branches sculptured on the marble, so thin and subtle that even the leaves seemed to quiver. A laver capable of holding five hundred barrels of water on six hundred brazen ox-heads, which gushed with water and filled the whole place with coolness and crystalline brightness and musical plash. Ten tables chased with chariot wheel and lion and cherubim. Solomon sat on a throne of ivory. At the seating place of the throne, on each end of the steps, a brazen lion. Why, my friends, in that place they trimmed their candles with snuffers of gold, and they cut their fruits with knives of gold, and they washed their faces in basins of gold, and they scooped out the ashes with shovels of gold, and they stirred the altar fires with tongs of gold. Gold reflected in the water! Gold flashing from the apparel! Gold blazing in the crown! Gold, gold, gold!
Of course the news of the affluence of that place went out everywhere by every caravan and by wing of every ship, until soon the streets of Jerusalem are crowded with curiosity seekers. What is that long procession approaching Jerusalem? I think from the pomp of it there must be royalty in the train. I smell the breath of the spices which are brought as presents, and I hear the shout of the drivers, and I see the dust-covered caravan showing that they come from far away. Cry the news up to the palace. The Queen of Sheba advances. Let all the people come out to see. Let the mighty men of the land come out on the palace corridors. Let Solomon come down the stairs of the palace before the queen has alighted. Shake out the cinnamon, and the saffron, and the calamus, and the frankincense, and pass it into the treasure house. Take up the diamonds until they glitter in the sun.
The Queen of Sheba alights. She enters the palace. She washes at the bath. She sits down at the banquet. The cup-bearers bow. The meat smokes. The music trembles in the dash of the waters from the molten sea. Then she rises from the banquet, and walks through the conservatories, and gazes on the architecture, and she asks Solomon many strange questions, and she learns about the religion of the Hebrews, and she then and there becomes a servant of the Lord God.
She is overwhelmed. She begins to think that all the spices she brought, and all the precious woods which are intended to be turned into harps and psalteries and into railings for the causeway between the temple and the palace, and the one hundred and eighty thousand dollars in money—she begins to think that all these presents amount to nothing in such a place, and she is almost ashamed that she has brought them, and she says within herself: "I heard a great deal about this place, and about this wonderful religion of the Hebrews, but I find it far beyond my highest anticipations. I must add more than fifty per cent. to what has been related. It exceeds everything that I could have expected. The half—the half was not told me."
Learn from this subject what a beautiful thing it is when social position and wealth surrender themselves to God. When religion comes to a neighborhood, the first to receive it are the women. Some men say it is because they are weak-minded. I say it is because they have quicker perception of what is right, more ardent affection and capacity for sublimer emotion. After the women have received the Gospel then all the distressed and the poor of both sexes, those who have no friends, accept Jesus. Last of all come the people of affluence and high social position. Alas, that it is so!
If there are those here to-day who have been favored of fortune, or, as I might better put it, favored of God, surrender all you have and all you expect to be to the Lord who blessed this Queen of Sheba. Certainly you are not ashamed to be found in this queen's company. I am glad that Christ has had His imperial friends in all ages—Elizabeth Christina, Queen of Prussia; Maria Feodorovna, Queen of Russia; Marie, Empress of France; Helena, the imperial mother of Constantine; Arcadia, from her great fortunes building public baths in Constantinople and toiling for the alleviation of the masses; Queen Clotilda, leading her husband and three thousand of his armed warriors to Christian baptism; Elizabeth of Burgundy, giving her jeweled glove to a beggar, and scattering great fortunes among the distressed; Prince Albert, singing "Rock of Ages" in Windsor Castle, and Queen Victoria, incognita, reading the Scriptures to a dying pauper.
I bless God that the day is coming when royalty will bring all its thrones, and music all its harmonies, and painting all its pictures, and sculpture all its statuary, and architecture all its pillars, and conquest all its scepters; and the queens of the earth, in long line of advance, frankincense filling the air and the camels laden with gold, shall approach Jerusalem, and the gates shall be hoisted, and the great burden of splendor shall be lifted into the palace of this greater than Solomon.
Again, my subject teaches me what is earnestness in the search of truth. Do you know where Sheba was? It was in Abyssinia, or some say in the southern part of Arabia Felix. In either case it was a great way off from Jerusalem. To get from there to Jerusalem she had to cross a country infested with bandits, and go across blistering deserts. Why did not the Queen of Sheba stay at home and send a committee to inquire about this new religion, and have the delegates report in regard to that religion and wealth of King Solomon? She wanted to see for herself, and hear for herself. She could not do this by work of committee. She felt she had a soul worth ten thousand kingdoms like Sheba, and she wanted a robe richer than any woven by Oriental shuttles, and she wanted a crown set with the jewels of eternity. Bring out the camels. Put on the spices. Gather up the jewels of the throne and put them on the caravan. Start now; no time to be lost. Goad on the camels. When I see that caravan, dust-covered, weary, and exhausted, trudging on across the desert and among the bandits until it reaches Jerusalem, I say: "There is an earnest seeker after the truth."
But there are a great many of you, my friends, who do not act in that way. You all want to get the truth, but you want the truth to come to-you; you do not want to go to it. There are people who fold their arms and say: "I am ready to become a Christian at any time; if I am to be saved I shall be saved, and if I am to be lost I shall be lost." A man who says that and keeps on saying it, will be lost. Jerusalem will never come to you; you must go to Jerusalem. The religion of the Lord Jesus Christ will not come to you; you must go and get religion. Bring out the camels; put on all the sweet spices, all the treasures of the heart's affection. Start for the throne. Go in and hear the waters of salvation dashing in fountains all around about the throne. Sit down at the banquet—the wine pressed from the grapes of the heavenly Eschol, the angels of God the cup-bearers. Goad on the camels; Jerusalem will never come to you; you must go to Jerusalem. The Bible declares it: "The Queen of the South"—that is, this very woman I am speaking of—"the Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment against this generation and condemn it; for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon: and, behold! a greater than Solomon is here." God help me to break up the infatuation of those people who are sitting down in idleness expecting to be saved. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." Take the Kingdom of Heaven by violence. Urge on the camels!
Again, my subject impresses me with the fact that religion is a surprise to any one that gets it. This story of the new religion in Jerusalem, and of the glory of King Solomon, who was a type of Christ—that story rolls on and on, and is told by every traveler coming back from Jerusalem. The news goes on the wing of every ship and with every caravan, and you know a story enlarges as it is retold, and by the time that story gets down into the southern part of Arabia Felix, and the Queen of Sheba hears it, it must be a tremendous story. And yet this queen declares in regard to it, although she had heard so much and had her anticipations raised so high, the half—the half was not told her.
So religion is always a surprise to any one that gets it. The story of grace—an old story. Apostles preached it with rattle of chain; martyrs declared it with arm of fire; death-beds have affirmed it with visions of glory, and ministers of religion have sounded it through the lanes, and the highways, and the chapels, and the cathedrals. It has been cut into stone with chisel, and spread on the canvas with pencil; and it has been recited in the doxology of great congregations. And yet when a man first comes to look on the palace of God's mercy, and to see the royalty of Christ, and the wealth of this banquet, and the luxuriance of His attendants, and the loveliness of His face, and the joy of His service, he exclaims with prayers, with tears, with sighs, with triumphs: "The half—the half was not told me!"
I appeal to those in this house who are Christians. Compare the idea you had of the joy of the Christian life before you became a Christian with the appreciation of that joy you have now since you have become a Christian, and you are willing to attest before angels and men that you never in the days of your spiritual bondage had any appreciation of what was to come. You are ready to-day to answer, and if I gave you an opportunity in the midst of this assemblage, you would speak out and say in regard to the discoveries you have made of the mercy and the grace and the goodness of God: "The half—the half was not told me!"
Well, we hear a great deal about the good time that is coming to this world, when it is to be girded with salvation. Holiness on the bells of the horses. The lion's mane patted by the hand of a babe. Ships of Tarshish bringing cargoes for Jesus, and the hard, dry, barren, winter-bleached, storm-scarred, thunder-split rock breaking into floods of bright water. Deserts into which dromedaries thrust their nostrils, because they were afraid of the simoom—deserts blooming into carnation roses and silver-tipped lilies.
It is the old story. Everybody tells it. Isaiah told it, John told it, Paul told it, Ezekiel told it, Luther told it, Calvin told it, John Milton told it—everybody tells it; and yet—and yet when the midnight shall fly the hills, and Christ shall marshal His great army, and China, dashing her idols into the dust, shall hear the voice of God and wheel into line; and India, destroying her Juggernaut and snatching up her little children from the Ganges, shall hear the voice of God and wheel into line; and vine-covered Italy, and wheat-crowned Russia, and all the nations of the earth shall hear the voice of God and fall into line; then the Church, which has been toiling and struggling through the centuries, robed and garlanded like a bride adorned for her husband, shall put aside her veil and look up into the face of her Lord the King, and say: "The half—the half was not told me."
Well, there is coming a greater surprise to every Christian—a greater surprise than anything I have depicted. Heaven is an old story. Everybody talks about it. There is hardly a hymn in the hymn-book that does not refer to it. Children read about it in their Sabbath-school book. Aged men put on their spectacles to study it. We say it is a harbor from the storm. We call it our home. We say it is the house of many mansions. We weave together all sweet, beautiful, delicate, exhilarant words; we weave them into letters, and then we spell it out in rose and lily and amaranth. And yet that place is going to be a surprise to the most intelligent Christian. Like the Queen of Sheba, the report has come to us from the far country, and many of us have started. It is a desert march, but we urge on the camels. What though our feet be blistered with the way? We are hastening to the palace. We take all our loves and hopes and Christian ambitions, as frankincense and myrrh and cassia, to the great King. We must not rest. We must not halt. The night is coming on, and it is not safe out here in the desert. Urge on the camels. I see the domes against the sky, and the houses of Lebanon, and the temples and the gardens. See the fountains dance in the sun, and the gates flash as they open to let in the poor pilgrims.
Send the word up to the palace that we are coming, and that we are weary of the march of the desert. The King will come out and say: "Welcome to the palace; bathe in these waters, recline on these banks. Take this cinnamon and frankincense and myrrh and put it upon a censer and swing it before the altar." And yet, my friends, when heaven bursts upon us it will be a greater surprise than that—Jesus on the throne, and we made like Him! All our Christian friends surrounding us in glory! All our sorrows and tears and sins gone by forever! The thousands of thousands, the one hundred and forty-and-four thousand, the great multitudes that no man can number, will cry, world without end: "The half—the half was not told us!"
"Without shedding of blood is no remission."—HEB. ix: 22.
John G. Whittier, the last of the great school of American poets that made the last quarter of a century brilliant, asked me in the White Mountains, one morning after prayers, in which I had given out Cowper's famous hymn about "The Fountain Filled with Blood," "Do you really believe there is a literal application of the blood of Christ to the soul?" My negative reply then is my negative reply now. The Bible statement agrees with all physicians, and all physiologists, and all scientists, in saying that the blood is the life, and in the Christian religion it means simply that Christ's life was given for our life. Hence all this talk of men who say the Bible story of blood is disgusting, and that they don't want what they call a "slaughter-house religion," only shows their incapacity or unwillingness to look through the figure of speech toward the thing signified. The blood that, on the darkest Friday the world ever saw, oozed, or trickled, or poured from the brow, and the side, and the hands, and the feet of the illustrious sufferer, back of Jerusalem, in a few hours coagulated and dried up, and forever disappeared; and if man had depended on the application of the literal blood of Christ, there would not have been a soul saved for the last eighteen centuries.
In order to understand this red word of my text, we only have to exercise as much common sense in religion as we do in everything else. Pang for pang, hunger for hunger, fatigue for fatigue, tear for tear, blood for blood, life for life, we see every day illustrated. The act of substitution is no novelty, although I hear men talk as though the idea of Christ's suffering substituted for our suffering were something abnormal, something distressingly odd, something wildly eccentric, a solitary episode in the world's history; when I could take you out into this city, and before sundown point you to five hundred cases of substitution and voluntary suffering of one in behalf of another.
At two o'clock to-morrow afternoon go among the places of business or toil. It will be no difficult thing for you to find men who, by their looks, show you that they are overworked. They are prematurely old. They are hastening rapidly toward their decease. They have gone through crises in business that shattered their nervous system, and pulled on the brain. They have a shortness of breath, and a pain in the back of the head, and at night an insomnia that alarms them. Why are they drudging at business early and late? For fun? No; it would be difficult to extract any amusement out of that exhaustion. Because they are avaricious? In many cases no. Because their own personal expenses are lavish? No; a few hundred dollars would meet all their wants. The simple fact is, the man is enduring all that fatigue and exasperation, and wear and tear, to keep his home prosperous. There is an invisible line reaching from that store, from that bank, from that shop, from that scaffolding, to a quiet scene a few blocks, a few miles away, and there is the secret of that business endurance. He is simply the champion of a homestead, for which he wins bread, and wardrobe, and education, and prosperity, and in such battle ten thousand men fall. Of ten business men whom I bury, nine die of overwork for others. Some sudden disease finds them with no power of resistance, and they are gone. Life for life. Blood for blood. Substitution!
At one o'clock to-morrow morning, the hour when slumber is most uninterrupted and most profound, walk amid the dwelling-houses of the city. Here and there you will find a dim light, because it is the household custom to keep a subdued light burning: but most of the houses from base to top are as dark as though uninhabited. A merciful God has sent forth the archangel of sleep, and he puts his wings over the city. But yonder is a clear light burning, and outside on the window casement a glass or pitcher containing food for a sick child; the food is set in the fresh air. This is the sixth night that mother has sat up with that sufferer. She has to the last point obeyed the physician's prescription, not giving a drop too much or too little, or a moment too soon or too late. She is very anxious, for she has buried three children with the same disease, and she prays and weeps, each prayer and sob ending with a kiss of the pale cheek. By dint of kindness she gets the little one through the ordeal. After it is all over, the mother is taken down. Brain or nervous fever sets in, and one day she leaves the convalescent child with a mother's blessing, and goes up to join the three in the kingdom of heaven. Life for life. Substitution! The fact is that there are an uncounted number of mothers who, after they have navigated a large family of children through all the diseases of infancy, and got them fairly started up the flowering slope of boyhood and girlhood, have only strength enough left to die. They fade away. Some call it consumption; some call it nervous prostration; some call it intermittent or malarial disposition; but I call it martyrdom of the domestic circle. Life for life. Blood for blood. Substitution!
Or perhaps the mother lingers long enough to see a son get on the wrong road, and his former kindness becomes rough reply when she expresses anxiety about him. But she goes right on, looking carefully after his apparel, remembering his every birthday with some memento, and when he is brought home worn out with dissipation, nurses him till he gets well and starts him again, and hopes, and expects, and prays, and counsels, and suffers, until her strength gives out and she fails. She is going, and attendants, bending over her pillow, ask her if she has any message to leave, and she makes great effort to say something, but out of three or four minutes of indistinct utterance they can catch but three words: "My poor boy!" The simple fact is she died for him. Life for life. Substitution!
About twenty-four years ago there went forth from our homes hundreds of thousands of men to do battle for their country. All the poetry of war soon vanished, and left them nothing but the terrible prose. They waded knee-deep in mud. They slept in snow-banks. They marched till their cut feet tracked the earth. They were swindled out of their honest rations, and lived on meat not fit for a dog. They had jaws all fractured, and eyes extinguished, and limbs shot away. Thousands of them cried for water as they lay dying on the field the night after the battle, and got it not. They were homesick, and received no message from their loved ones. They died in barns, in bushes, in ditches, the buzzards of the summer heat the only attendants on their obsequies. No one but the infinite God who knows everything, knows the ten thousandth part of the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of anguish of the Northern and Southern battlefields. Why did these fathers leave their children and go to the front, and why did these young men, postponing the marriage-day, start out into the probabilities of never coming back? For the country they died. Life for life. Blood for blood. Substitution!
But we need not go so far. What is that monument in Greenwood? It is to the doctors who fell in the Southern epidemics. Why go? Were there not enough sick to be attended in these Northern latitudes? Oh, yes; but the doctor puts a few medical books in his valise, and some vials of medicine, and leaves his patients here in the hands of other physicians, and takes the rail-train. Before he gets to the infected regions he passes crowded rail-trains, regular and extra, taking the flying and affrighted populations. He arrives in a city over which a great horror is brooding. He goes from couch to couch, feeling of pulse and studying symptoms, and prescribing day after day, night after night, until a fellow-physician says: "Doctor, you had better go home and rest; you look miserable." But he can not rest while so many are suffering. On and on, until some morning finds him in a delirium, in which he talks of home, and then rises and says he must go and look after those patients. He is told to lie down; but he fights his attendants until he falls back, and is weaker and weaker, and dies for people with whom he had no kinship, and far away from his own family, and is hastily put away in a stranger's tomb, and only the fifth part of a newspaper line tells us of his sacrifice—his name just mentioned among five. Yet he has touched the furthest height of sublimity in that three weeks of humanitarian service. He goes straight as an arrow to the bosom of Him who said: "I was sick and ye visited Me." Life for life. Blood for blood. Substitution!
In the legal profession I see the same principle of self-sacrifice. In 1846, William Freeman, a pauperized and idiotic negro, was at Auburn, N.Y., on trial for murder. He had slain the entire Van Nest family. The foaming wrath of the community could be kept off him only by armed constables. Who would volunteer to be his counsel? No attorney wanted to sacrifice his popularity by such an ungrateful task. All were silent save one, a young lawyer with feeble voice, that could hardly be heard outside the bar, pale and thin and awkward. It was William H. Seward, who saw that the prisoner was idiotic and irresponsible, and ought to be put in an asylum rather than put to death, the heroic counsel uttering these beautiful words:
"I speak now in the hearing of a people who have prejudged prisoner and condemned me for pleading in his behalf. He is a convict, a pauper, a negro, without intellect, sense, or emotion. My child with an affectionate smile disarms my care-worn face of its frown whenever I cross my threshold. The beggar in the street obliges me to give because he says, 'God bless you!' as I pass. My dog caresses me with fondness if I will but smile on him. My horse recognizes me when I fill his manger. What reward, what gratitude, what sympathy and affection can I expect here? There the prisoner sits. Look at him. Look at the assemblage around you. Listen to their ill-suppressed censures and their excited fears, and tell me where among my neighbors or my fellow-men, where, even in his heart, I can expect to find a sentiment, a thought, not to say of reward or of acknowledgment, or even of recognition? Gentlemen, you may think of this evidence what you please, bring in what verdict you can, but I asseverate before Heaven and you, that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the prisoner at the bar does not at this moment know why it is that my shadow falls on you instead of his own."
The gallows got its victim, but the post-mortem examination of the poor creature showed to all the surgeons and to all the world that the public were wrong, and William H. Seward was right, and that hard, stony step of obloquy in the Auburn court-room was the first step of the stairs of fame up which he went to the top, or to within one step of the top, that last denied him through the treachery of American politics. Nothing sublimer was ever seen in an American court-room than William H. Seward, without reward, standing between the fury of the populace and the loathsome imbecile. Substitution!
In the realm of the fine arts there was as remarkable an instance. A brilliant but hypercriticised painter, Joseph William Turner, was met by a volley of abuse from all the art galleries of Europe. His paintings, which have since won the applause of all civilized nations, "The Fifth Plague of Egypt," "Fishermen on a Lee Shore in Squally Weather," "Calais Pier," "The Sun Rising Through Mist," and "Dido Building Carthage," were then targets for critics to shoot at. In defense of this outrageously abused man, a young author of twenty-four years, just one year out of college, came forth with his pen, and wrote the ablest and most famous essays on art that the world ever saw, or ever will see—John Ruskin's "Modern Painters." For seventeen years this author fought the battles of the maltreated artist, and after, in poverty and broken-heartedness, the painter had died, and the public tried to undo their cruelties toward him by giving him a big funeral and burial at St. Paul's Cathedral, his old-time friend took out of a tin box nineteen thousand pieces of paper containing drawings by the old painter, and through many weary and uncompensated months assorted and arranged them for public observation. People say John Ruskin in his old days is cross, misanthropic, and morbid. Whatever he may do that he ought not to do, and whatever he may say that he ought not to say between now and his death, he will leave this world insolvent as far as it has any capacity to pay this author's pen for its chivalric and Christian defense of a poor painter's pencil. John Ruskin for William Turner. Blood for blood. Substitution!
What an exalting principle this which leads one to suffer for another! Nothing so kindles enthusiasm or awakens eloquence, or chimes poetic canto, or moves nations. The principle is the dominant one in our religion—Christ the Martyr, Christ the celestial Hero, Christ the Defender, Christ the Substitute. No new principle, for it was as old as human nature; but now on a grander, wider, higher, deeper, and more world-resounding scale! The shepherd boy as a champion for Israel with a sling toppled the giant of Philistine braggadocio in the dust; but here is another David who, for all the armies of churches militant and triumphant, hurls the Goliath of perdition into defeat, the crash of his brazen armor like an explosion at Hell Gate. Abraham had at God's command agreed to sacrifice his son Isaac, and the same God just in time had provided a ram of the thicket as a substitute; but here is another Isaac bound to the altar, and no hand arrests the sharp edges of laceration and death, and the universe shivers and quakes and recoils and groans at the horror.
All good men have for centuries been trying to tell whom this Substitute was like, and every comparison, inspired and uninspired, evangelistic, prophetic, apostolic, and human, falls short, for Christ was the Great Unlike. Adam a type of Christ, because he came directly from God; Noah a type of Christ, because he delivered his own family from deluge; Melchisedec a type of Christ, because he had no predecessor or successor; Joseph a type of Christ, because he was cast out by his brethren; Moses a type of Christ, because he was a deliverer from bondage; Joshua a type of Christ, because he was a conqueror; Samson a type of Christ, because of his strength to slay the lions and carry off the iron gates of impossibility; Solomon a type of Christ, in the affluence of his dominion; Jonah a type of Christ, because of the stormy sea in which he threw himself for the rescue of others; but put together Adam and Noah and Melchisedec and Joseph and Moses and Joshua and Samson and Solomon and Jonah, and they would not make a fragment of a Christ, a quarter of a Christ, the half of a Christ, or the millionth part of a Christ.
He forsook a throne and sat down on His own footstool. He came from the top of glory to the bottom of humiliation, and changed a circumference seraphic for a circumference diabolic. Once waited on by angels, now hissed at by brigands. From afar and high up He came down; past meteors swifter than they; by starry thrones, Himself more lustrous; past larger worlds to smaller worlds; down stairs of firmaments, and from cloud to cloud, and through tree-tops and into the earners stall, to thrust His shoulder under our burdens and take the lances of pain through His vitals, and wrapped himself in all the agonies which we deserve for our misdoings, and stood on the splitting decks of a foundering vessel, amid the drenching surf of the sea, and passed midnights on the mountains amid wild beasts of prey, and stood at the point where all earthly and infernal hostilities charged on Him at once with their keen sabers—our Substitute!
When did attorney ever endure so much for a pauper client, or physician for the patient in the lazaretto, or mother for the child in membranous croup, as Christ for us, and Christ for you, and Christ for me? Shall any man or woman or child in this audience who has ever suffered for another find it hard to understand this Christly suffering for us? Shall those whose sympathies have been wrung in behalf of the unfortunate have no appreciation of that one moment which was lifted out of all the ages of eternity as most conspicuous, when Christ gathered up all the sins of those to be redeemed under His one arm, and all their sorrows under His other arm, and said: "I will atone for these under my right arm, and will heal all those under my left arm. Strike me with all thy glittering shafts, O Eternal Justice! Roll over me with all thy surges, ye oceans of sorrow"? And the thunderbolts struck Him from above, and the seas of trouble rolled up from beneath, hurricane after hurricane, and cyclone after cyclone, and then and there in presence of heaven and earth and hell, yea, all worlds witnessing, the price, the bitter price, the transcendent price, the awful price, the glorious price, the infinite price, the eternal price, was paid that sets us free.
That is what Paul means, that is what I mean, that is what all those who have ever had their heart changed mean by "blood." I glory in this religion of blood! I am thrilled as I see the suggestive color in sacramental cup, whether it be of burnished silver set on cloth immaculately white, or rough-hewn from wood set on table in log-hut meeting-house of the wilderness. Now I am thrilled as I see the altars of ancient sacrifice crimson with the blood of the slain lamb, and Leviticus is to me not so much the Old Testament as the New. Now I see why the destroying angel passing over Egypt in the night spared all those houses that had blood sprinkled on their door-posts. Now I know what Isaiah means when he speaks of "one in red apparel coming with dyed garments from Bozrah;" and whom the Apocalypse means when it describes a heavenly chieftain whose "vesture was dipped in blood;" and what Peter, the apostle, means when he speaks of the "precious blood that cleanseth from all sin;" and what the old, worn-out, decrepit missionary Paul means when, in my text, he cries, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." By that blood you and I will be saved—or never saved at all. In all the ages of the world God has not once pardoned a single sin except through the Saviour's expiation, and He never will. Glory be to God that the hill back of Jerusalem was the battle-field on which Christ achieved our liberty!
The most exciting and overpowering day of last summer was the day I spent on the battle-field of Waterloo. Starting out with the morning train from Brussels, Belgium, we arrived in about an hour on that famous spot. A son of one who was in the battle, and who had heard from his father a thousand times the whole scene recited, accompanied us over the field. There stood the old Hougomont Chateau, the walls dented, and scratched, and broken, and shattered by grape-shot and cannon-ball. There is the well in which three hundred dying and dead were pitched. There is the chapel with the head of the infant Christ shot off. There are the gates at which, for many hours, English and French armies wrestled. Yonder were the one hundred and sixty guns of the English, and the two hundred and fifty guns of the French. Yonder the Hanoverian Hussars fled for the woods. Yonder was the ravine of Ohain, where the French cavalry, not knowing there was a hollow in the ground, rolled over and down, troop after troop, tumbling into one awful mass of suffering, hoof of kicking horses against brow and breast of captains and colonels and private soldiers, the human and the beastly groan kept up until, the day after, all was shoveled under because of the malodor arising in that hot month of June.
"There," said our guide, "the Highland regiments lay down on their faces waiting for the moment to spring upon the foe. In that orchard twenty-five hundred men were cut to pieces. Here stood Wellington with white lips, and up that knoll rode Marshal Ney on his sixth horse, five having been shot under him. Here the ranks of the French broke, and Marshal Ney, with his boot slashed of a sword, and his hat off, and his face covered with powder and blood, tried to rally his troops as he cried: 'Come and see how a marshal of French dies on the battle-field.' From yonder direction Grouchy was expected for the French re-enforcement, but he came not. Around those woods Blucher was looked for to re-enforce the English, and just in time he came up. Yonder is the field where Napoleon stood, his arm through the reins of the horse's bridle, dazed and insane, trying to go back." Scene of a battle that went on from twenty-five minutes to twelve o'clock, on the eighteenth of June, until four o'clock, when the English seemed defeated, and their commander cried out; "Boys, can you think of giving way? Remember old England!" and the tides turned, and at eight o'clock in the evening the man of destiny, who was called by his troops Old Two Hundred Thousand, turned away with broken heart, and the fate of centuries was decided.
No wonder a great mound has been reared there, hundreds of feet high—a mound at the expense of millions of dollars and many years in rising, and on the top is the great Belgian lion of bronze, and a grand old lion it is. But our great Waterloo was in Palestine. There came a day when all hell rode up, led by Apollyon, and the Captain of our salvation confronted them alone. The Rider on the white horse of the Apocalypse going out against the black horse cavalry of death, and the battalions of the demoniac, and the myrmidons of darkness. From twelve o'clock at noon to three o'clock in the afternoon the greatest battle of the universe went on. Eternal destinies were being decided. All the arrows of hell pierced our Chieftain, and the battle-axes struck Him, until brow and cheek and shoulder and hand and foot were incarnadined with oozing life; but He fought on until He gave a final stroke with sword from Jehovah's buckler, and the commander-in-chief of hell and all his forces fell back in everlasting ruin, and the victory is ours. And on the mound that celebrates the triumph we plant this day two figures, not in bronze or iron or sculptured marble, but two figures of living light, the Lion of Judah's tribe and the Lamb that was slain.
"If the tree fall toward the south or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there it shall be."—ECCLES. xi: 3.
There is a hovering hope in the minds of a vast multitude that there will be an opportunity in the next world to correct the mistakes of this; that, if we do make complete shipwreck of our earthly life, it will be on a shore up which we may walk to a palace; that, as a defendant may lose his case in the Circuit Court, and carry it up to the Supreme Court or Court of Chancery and get a reversal of judgment in his behalf, all the costs being thrown over on the other party, so, if we fail in the earthly trial, we may in the higher jurisdiction of eternity have the judgment of the lower court set aside, all the costs remitted, and we may be victorious defendants forever.
My object in this sermon is to show that common sense, as well as my text, declares that such an expectation is chimerical. You say that the impenitent man, having got into the next world and seeing the disaster, will, as a result of that disaster, turn, the pain the cause of his reformation. But you can find ten thousand instances in this world of men who have done wrong and distress overtook them suddenly. Did the distress heal them? No; they went right on.
That man was flung of dissipations. "You must stop drinking," said the doctor, "and quit the fast life you are leading, or it will destroy you.". The patient suffers paroxysm after paroxysm; but, under skillful medical treatment, he begins to sit up, begins to walk about the room, begins to go to business. And, lo! he goes back to the same grog-shops for his morning dram, and his even dram, and the drams between. Flat down again! Same doctor. Same physical anguish. Same medical warning.
Now, the illness is more protracted; the liver is more stubborn, the stomach more irritable, and the digestive organs are more rebellious. But after awhile he is out again, goes back to the same dram-shops, and goes the same round of sacrilege against his physical health.
He sees that his downward course is ruining his household, that his life is a perpetual perjury against his marriage vow, that that broken-hearted woman is so unlike the roseate young wife that he married, that her old schoolmates do not recognize her; that his sons are to be taunted for a life-time by the father's drunkenness, that the daughters are to pass into life under the scarification of a disreputable ancestor. He is drinking up their happiness, their prospects for this life, and, perhaps, for the life to come. Sometimes an appreciation of what he is doing comes upon him. His nervous system is all a tangle. From crown of head to sole of foot he is one aching, rasping, crucifying, damning torture. Where is he? In hell on earth. Does it reform him?