« PreviousContinue »
I arraign before God the gift enterprises of our cities9 which have a tendency to make this a nation of gamblers. Whatever you get, young man, in such a place as that, without giving a proper equivalent, is a robbery of your own soul, and a robbery of the community. Yet, how we arc appalled to see men who have failed in other enterprises go into gift concerts, where the chief attraction is not music, but the prizes distributed among the audience; or to sell books where the chief attraction is not the book, but the package that goes with the book. Tobacco dealers advertise that on a certain day they will put money into their papers, so that the purchaser of this tobacco in Cincinnati or New York may unexpectedly come upon a magnificent gratuity. Boys hawking through the cars packages containing nobody knows what, until you open them and find they contain nothing. Christian men with pictures on their wall gotten in a lottery, and the brain of community taxed to find out some new way of getting things without paying for them. O, young men, these are the threads that make the cart rope, and when a young man consents to these practices, he is being bound hand and foot by a habit which has already destroyed "a great multitude that no man can number." Sometimes these gift enterprises are carried on in the name of charity; and you remember at the close of the late war how many gift enterprises were on foot, the proceeds to go to the orphans and the widows of the soldiers and sailors. What did the men who had charge of those gift enterprises care for the orphans and the widows? Why, they would have allowed them to freeze to death upon their steps. I have no faith in a charity which, for the sake of relieving present suffering, opens a gaping jaw that has swallowed down so much of the virtue and good principle of community. Young man, have nothing to do with these things. They only sharpen your appetite for games of chance. Do one of two things: be honest or die.
I have accomplished my object if I put the men in my audience on the look out. It is a great deal easier to fall than it is to get up again. The trouble is that when men begin to go astray from the path of duty, they are apt to say, "There's no use of my trying to get back. I've sacrificed my respectability, I can't return;" and they go on until they are utterly destroyed. I tell you, my friends, that God this moment, by His Holy Spirit, can change your entire nature, so that you will go out of this Tabernacle a far different man from what you were when you came in. Your great want—what is it? More salary? Higher social position? No; no. I will tell you the great want of every man in this house, if he has not already obtained it. It is the grace of God. Are there any here who have fallen victims to the sin that I have been reprehending? You are in a prison. You rush against the wall of this prison, and try to get out, and you fail; and you turn around and dash against the other wall until there is blood on the grates, and blood on your soul. You will never get out in this way. There is only one way of getting out. There is a key that can unlock that prison-house. It is the key of the house of David. It is the key that Christ wears at His girdle. If you will allow Him this morning to put that key to the lock, the bolt* will shoot back, and the door will swing open, and you will be a free man in Christ Jesus. O, prodigal, what a business this is for you, feeding swine, when your father stands in the front door, straining his eyesight to catch the first glimpse of your return; and the calf is as fat as it will be, and the harps of heaven are all strung, and the feet free. There are converted gamblers in heaven. The light of eternitj flashed upon the green baize of their billiard-saloon. In the laver of God's forgiveness they washed off all their sin. They quit trying for earthly stakes. They tried for heaven and won it. There stretches a hand from heaven toward the head of the worst man in all this audience. It is a hand, not clenched as if to smite, but outspread as if to drop a benediction. Other seas have a shore and may be fathomed, but the sea of God's love —eternity, has no plummet to strike the bottom, and immensity no iron-bound shore to confine it. Its tides are lifted by the heart of infinite compassion. Its waves are the hosannahs of the redeemed. The argosies that sail on it drop anchor at last amid the thundering salvo of eternal victory. But alas for that man who sits down to the final game of life and puts his immortal soul on the ace, while the angels of God keep the tally-board; and after the kings and queens, and knaves, and spades, are " shuffled" and "cut," and the game is ended, hovering and impending worlds discover that he has lost it, the faro-bank of eternal darkness clutching down into its wallet all the blood-stained wagers.
THE WOMAN OP PLEASURE. She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.—I. Tim. v: t
It is a strong way of putting the truth, that a woman who seeks in worldly advantage her chief enjoyment, will come to disappointment and death.
My friends, you all want to be happy. Fou have had a great many recipes by which it is proposed to give you satisfaction—solid satisfaction. At times you feel a thorough unrest. You know as well as older people what it is to be depressed. As dark shadows sometimes fall upon the geography of the school-girl as on the page of the spectacled philosopher. I have seen as cloudy days in May as in November. There are no deeper sighs breathed by the grandmother than by the granddaughter. I correct the popular impression that people are happier in childhood and youth than they ever will be again. If we live aright, the older we are the happier. The happiest woman that I ever knew was a Christian octogenarian; her hair white as white could be; the sunlight of heaven late in the afternoon gilding the peaks of snow. I have to say to a great many of the young people of this church that the most miserable time you are ever to have is just now. As you advance in life, as you come out into the world and have your head and heart all full of good, honest, practical, Christian, work, then you will know w^at \* is to begin to be happy. There are those who would Have us believe that life is chasing thistle-dowo and grasping bubbles. We have not found it so. To many of us it has been discovering diamonds larger than the Kohinoor, and I think that our joy will continue to increase until nothing short of the everlasting jubilee of heaven will be able to express it.
Horatio Greenough, at the close of the hardest life a man ever lives—the life of an American artist—wrote: "I don't want to leave this world until I give some sign that, born by the grace of God in this land, I have found life to be a very cheerful thing, and not the dark and bitter thing with which my early prospects were clouded."
Albert Barnes, the good Christian, known the world over, stood in his pulpit in Philadelphia, at seventy or eighty years of age, and said: "This world is so very attractive to me, I am very sorry I shall have to leave it."
I know that Solomon said some very dolorous things about this world, and three times declared: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." I suppose it was a reference to* those times in hi8 career when his seven hundred wives almost pestered the life out of him! But I would rather turn to the description he has given of religion, when he says in another place: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." It is reasonable to expect it will be so. The longer the fruit hangs on the tree, the riper and more mellow it ought to gro*r. You plant one grain of corn, and it will send up a stalk with two ears, each having nine hundred and fifty grains, so that one grain planted will produce nineteen hundred grains. And ought not the implantation of a grain ol Christian principle in a youthful soul develop into a large crop of gladness on earth and to a harvest of eternal joy in heaven? Hear me, then, this morning, while I discourse upon some of the mistakes which young people