Page images
PDF
EPUB

ness. He says: "Fm going to be honest;" but on the same street, on the same block, in the same business, are Shylocks. Those men, to 'get the patronage of any one, will break all understandings with other merchants, and will sell at ruinous cost, putting their neighbors at great disadvantage, expecting to make up the deficit in something else. If an honest principle could creep into that man's soul, it would die of sheer loneliness! The man twists about, trying to escape the penalty of the law, and despises God, while he is just a little anxious about the sheriff. The honest man looks about him and says: "Well, this rivalry is awful. Perhaps I am more scrupulous than I need be. This little bargain I am about to enter is a little doubtful; but then they all do It" And so I had a friend who started in commercial life, and as a book merchant, with a high resolve. He said: "In my store there shall be no books that I would not have my family read." Time passed on, and one day I went into his store and found some iniquitous books on the shelf, and I said to him: "How is it possible that you can consent to sell such books as these?" "Oh," he replied: "I have got over those puritanical notions. A man cannot do business in this day unless he does it in the way other people do it." To make a long story short, he lost his hope of heaven, and in a little while he lost his morality, and then he went into a mad-house. In other words, when a man casts off God, God casts him off.

One of the mightiest temptations in commercial life, in all our cities, to-day, is in the fact that many professed Christian men are not square in their bargains. Such men are in Baptist, and Methodist, and Congregational Churches, and our own denomination is as largely represented as any of them. Our good merchants are fore* most in Christian enterprises; they are patronizers of art, philanthropic and patriotic. God will attend to them in the day of His coronation. I am not speaking of them, but of those in commercial life who are setting a ruinous example to our young merchants. Go through all the stores and offices in the city, and tell me in how many of those stores and offices are the principles of Christ's religion dominant? In three-fourths of them? No, In half of them? No. In one-tenth of them? No. Decide for yourself.

The impression is abroad, somehow, that charity can consecrate iniquitous gains, and that if a man give to God a portion of an unrighteous bargain, then the Lord will forgive him the rest. The secretary of a benevolent society came tome and said: "Mr. So-and-So has given a large amount of money to the missionary cause," mentioning the sum. I said: "I can't believe it." He said: "It is so." "Well, I went home, staggered and confounded. I never knew the man to give to anything; but after awhile I found out that he had been engaged in the most infamous kind of an oil swindle, and then he proposed to compromise the matter with the Lord, saying: "Now, here is so much for Thee, Lord. Please to let me.off!" I want to tell you that the Church of God is not a shop for receiving stolen goods, and that if you have taken anything from your fellows, you had better return it to the men to whom it belongs. If, from the nature of the circumstances, that be impossible, you had better get your stove red hot, and when the flames are at their fiercest, toss in the accursed spoil. God does not^ want it. The commercial world to-day is rotten through and through, and many of you know better than I can tell you that it requires great strength of moral character to withstand the temptations of business dishonea

ties. Thank God, a great many of you have withstood the temptations, and are as pure, and upright, and honest as the day when you entered business. But you are the exceptions in the case. God will sustain a man, however, amid all the excitements of business, if he will only put his trust in Him. In the drug-store, in Philadelphia, a young man was told that he must sell blacking on the Lord's day. He said to the head man of the firm: "I can't possibly do that. I am willing to sell medicines on the Lord's day, for I think that is right and necessary: but I can't sell this patent blacking." He was discharged from the place. A Christian man hearing of it, took him into his employ, and he went on from one success to another, until he was known all over the land for his faith in God and his good works, as well as for his worldly success. When a man has sacrificed any temporal, financial good for the sake of his spiritual interests, the Lord is on his side, and one with God is a majority.

Again: Look around you and see the pressure of political life. How many are going down under this influence. There is not one man out of a thousand that can stand political life in our cities. Once in awhile a man comes and says: "Now I love my city and my country, and, in the strength of God, I am going in as a sort of missionary to reform politics." The Lord is on his side. He comes out as pure as when he went in, and, with such an idea, I believe he will be sustained; but he is the exception. When such an upright, pure man does step into politics, the first thing, the newspapers take the job of blackening him all over, and they review all his past life, and distort everything that he has done, until, from thinking himself a highly respectable citizen, he begins to contemplate what a mercy it is that he has been so long out of gaol. The most hopeless, God-forsaken people in all our cities are those who, not in a missionary spirit, but with the idea of sordid gain, have gone into political life. I pray for the prisoners in gaol, and think they may be converted to God, but I never have any faith to pray for an old politician.

Then look around and see the allurements to an impure life. Bad books, unknown to father and mother, vile as the lice of Egypt, creeping into some of the best of families of the community; and boys read them while the teacher is looking the other way, or at recess, or on the corner of the street when the groups are gathered. These books are read late at night Satan finds them a smooth plank on which he can slide down into perdition some of your sons and daughters. Heading bad books—one never gets over it. The books may be burned, but there is not enough power in all the apothecary's preparations to wash out the stain from the soul. Father's hands, mother's hands, sister's hands, will not wash it out. None but the hand of the Lord God can wash it out. And what is more perilous in regard to these temptations, we may not mention them. While God in this Bible, from chapter to chapter, thunders His. denunciation against these crimes, people expect the pulpit and the printing-press to be silent on the subject, and just, in proportion as people are impure are they fastidious on the theme. They are so full of decay and death they do not want their sepulchres opened. But I shall not be hindered by them. I shall go on in the name of the Lord Almighty, before whom you and I must at last come in judgment, and I shall pursue that vile sin, and thrust it with the two edged-sword of God's truth, though I find it sheltered under the chandeliers of some of your beautiful parlors. God will turn into des

traction all the unclean, and no splendors of surrounding can make decent that which He has smitten. God will not excuse sin merely because it has costly alray> and beautiful tapestry, and palatial residence, any more than He will excuse that which crawls, a blotch of sores, through the lowest cellar. Ever and anon, through some law-suit there flashes upon the people of our great cities what is transpiring in seemingly respectable circles. You call it "High life," you call it "Fast living," you call it "People's eccentricity." And while we kick off the sidewalk the poor wretch who has not the means to garnish his iniquity, these lords and ladies, wrapped in purple and fine linen, go nnwhipped of public justice. Ah, the most dreadful part of the whole thing is that there are persons abroad whose whole business it is to despoil the young. Salaried by infamous establishments, these cormorants of darkness, these incarnate fiends, hang around your hotels, and your theatres, and they insinuate themselves among the clerks of your stores, and, by adroitest art, sometimes get in the purest circles. Oh, what an eternity such a man as that will have I As the door opens to receive him, thousands of voices will cry out: "See here what you have done;" and the wretch will wrap himself with fiercer flame and leap into deeper darkness, and the multitudes he has destroyed will pursue him, and hurl at him the long, bitter, relentless, everlasting curse of their own anguish. If there be one cup of eternal darkness more bitter than another, they will have to drink it to the dregs. If, in all the ocean of the lost world that comes billowing up, there be one wave more fierce than another, it will dash over them. "God will wound the hairy scalp of him who goeth Ol still in his trespasses." I think you are persuaded there is but little chance

« PreviousContinue »