Page images

years of age, and in full swing of vagabondism. The putrid politics of ten years ago sowed much of the crop which is now being harvested by the almshouse and the penitentiary. But you say, "What is the practical use of this subject this morning? Have I any relation to it?" You have. In the last judgment you will have to give answer for your relation to it. Through all eternity you will feel the consequences of your relation to it. I could not waste my time, nor your time, in a discussion if there were not some practical significance to it. First of all, I give you a statistic which ought to make every office-table, and every counting-room desk, and every money-safe quake and tremble. It is the statistic that larcenies in New York city, directly and indirectly, cost that city $6,000,000 per year. There are all the moneys taken, in the first place. Then there are the prisons and the station-houses. Then there are the courts. Tfcen there is the vast machinery of municipal government*for the arraignment and treatment of villainy. Why, the Court of Sessions and the police courts cost the city of New York about $200,000 per year. The police force directly and indirectly costs the city of New York over $2,000,000 a year, and all that expenditure puts its tax on every bill of lading, on every yard of goods, on every parlor, every nursery, every store, every shop, every brick from foundation to capstone, every foot of ground from the south side of Castle Garden to the north side of Central Park, and upon all Brooklyn, and upon all Jersey City, for the reason that the interests of these cities are so interlocked that what is the prosperity of one is the prosperity of all, and what is the calamity of one is the calamity of all. But I do not, this morning, address you as financiers. I address you as moralists and Christian men and women, who before God have a responsibility for all this turpitude and scoundrelism, unless in every possible way you try to stop it and redeem it. "Oh!" says some one in the house, "sueh criminals as that cannot be reformed." I reply: Then you are stupidly ignorant of Christianity. Who was the man on the righthand cross when Jesus was expiring? A thief—a dying thief. Where did he go to? To heaven. Christ said to him: "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." In that most conspicuous moment of the world's history, Christ demonstrating to all ages that the worst criminal can be saved. Who is that man in the Fourth Ward, New York, preaching the gospel every night of the week, and preaching it all the year round, and bringing more drunkards and thieves and criminals to the heart of a pardoning God than any twenty churches in Brooklyn or New York. Jerry McAuley, the converted river thief. That man took me to his front window the other evening, and he said, "Do you see that grog-shop over there?" I said, "Yes; I see it." "Well," he said, "I once was pitched out of that by the proprietor for being drunken and noisy. The grace of God has done a great deal for me. I was going along the street the other day, and that man who owned that groggery then, and who owns it now, wanted a favor of me, and he called to me. He did not call me drunken Jerry; but he said Mister McAuley—Mister McAuley!"

01 if the grace of God could do as much for that man it can save any outcast. If not, then what is the use of Paul's address when he says, "Let him that stole, steal no more"? I will tell you something—I do not care whether you like it or not—that at last, in heaven, there will be five hundred thousand converted thieves, pickpockets, gamblers, debauchees, murderers and outcasts, all saved by the grace of God, washed clean and prepared for glory. That exquisite out there gives a twitch to his kid glove, and that lady brings the skirt of her silk dress nearer her, as though she were afraid of having that truth tarnish her. "Why," says some one in the house, "are you going to make heaven such a common place as that?' I do not make it common. God makes it common. It is to be the most common place in the whole universe. By that I mean they are going to come up from all classes and conditions, and from the very lowest depths of society, washed clean by the grace of God, and entering heaven. "But," say some people, "what am I to do?" I will tell you three things, anyhow, you can do. First, avoid putting people in your employ amid too great temptation. You can take a young man in your employ and put him in a position where nine hundred and ninety-nine chances out of a thousand are that he will do wrong. Now, I have no right to do that. If you have any mercy on the criminal classes, and if you do not want to multiply their number, look out how you put people under temptation. In the second place, you can do this: you can speak a cheerful word when a man wants to reform. What chance is there for those who have gone astray! Here they are in the lowest depths of society, first of all, with their evil proclivities; then, with their evil associations. But suppose thej conquer these evil proclivities, and break away from them. Now, they have come up to the door of society. Who will let them in? Will you? No; you dare not. They will go all around these doors of decent society, and find five hundred, and knock—no admittance; and knock—no admittance; and knock—no admittance. Now, I say it is your duty as a Christian man to help these people when they want to come up and come back. There is a third thing you can do, and that is, be the stanch friends of prison reform associations, home missionary societies, children's aid societies, and all those beneficent institutions which are trying to save our cities. But perhaps I ought to do my own work now, leaving yours for you to do some other time. I will now do that work. Very probably there is not in all this house one person who is known as a criminal, and yet I suppose there are scores of persons in this house who have done wrong. Now, perhaps I may meet their case healthfully and encouragingly when I tell them what I said to two young men. One young man said to me: "I have taken from my employer $2,500 in small amounts, but amounting to that. What shall I do?" I said, "Pay it back." He said, "I can't pay it back." Then I said, uGet your friends to help you pay it." H« said, "I have no friends that will help me." Then 1 said, "I will give you two items of advice: First, go home and kneel down before God and ask his pardon. Then, to-morrow morning, when you go over to the store, get the head men of the firm in the private office, and tell them you have something very important to communicate, and let the door be locked. Then tell the whole story and ask their pardon. If they are decent men—not to say any thing about their being Christians or not Christians—if they are decent men, they will forgive you and help you to start again." "But," he said, "suppose they don't?" "Then," I said, "you have the Lord Almighty to see you through, and no man ever flung himself at Christ's feet but he was helped and delivered." Another young man came to me and said, "I have taken money from my employer. What shall I dor I said, "Pay it back." "Well," he said, "I took a very large amount—I nearly paid it all back." I said, "Now, how long before you can pay it all back?" "Well," he said, "I can in two weeks, but my conscience disturbs me very much, and I want your counsel." It was a delicate case. I said to him, "You are sure you can pay it in two weeks¥' "Yes; but," he said, "suppose I die?" I said to him: "If you can pay that all up, every farthing of it, in two weeks, pay it, and God don't ask you to disgrace yourself, or your family, and you won't die in two weeks. I see by the way you have been paying this up that you are going to be delivered. Ask God's pardon for what you have done, and never do so again."

It is very easy to be hard in making a rule, but I say the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of mercy, and wherever you find anybody in trouble, get him out, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteoug man his thoughts." You see, I am preaching a very practical sermon this morning. I know what are all the temptations of business life, and I did not come on this platform this morning to discourage anybody. I come to speak a word of good cheer to all the wandering and the lost, and I believe I am speaking it. The fact is, these cities are going to be redeemed. You know there is going to be another deluge. "Why," you say, "I thought the rainbow at the end of the great deluge, and the rainbow after every shower, was a sign that there would never be a deluge again!" But there will be another deluge. It will rain more than forty days and forty nights. The ark that will float that deluge will be immeasurably larger than Noah's ark, for it will hold a quadrillion of passengers. It will be the deluge of mercy, and the ark that floats that deluge will have five doors—one at the north to let in the frozen populations; one at the south to let in the sweltering and the sunburned; one at the east to let all China oome in; one at the west, to let America in; one at the top,

« PreviousContinue »