« PreviousContinue »
SAFEGUARDS OF YOUNG MEN.
“Is the young man Absalom safe?"_II. Sam. xviii: 29.
The heart of David, the father, was wrapped up in his boy Absalom. He was a splendid boy, judged by the rules of worldy criticism. From the crown of his head to the sole of his foot there was not a single blemish. The Bible says that he had such a luxuriant shock of hair, that when once a year it was shorn, what was cut off weighed over three pounds. But, notwithstanding all his brilliancy of appearance, he was a bad boy, and broke his father's heart. He was plotting to get the throne of Israel. He had marshalled an army to overthrow his father's government. The day of battle had come. The conflict was begun. David, the father, sat between the gates of the palace waiting for the tidings of the conflict. Oh, how rapidly his heart beat with emotion. Two great questions were to be decided : the safety of his boy, and the continuance of the throne of Israel. After awhile, a servant, standing on the top of the house, looks off, and he sees some one running. He is coming with great speed, and the man on the top of the house announces the coming of the messenger, and the father watches and waits, and as soon as the messenger from the field of battle comes within hailing distance the father cries out. Is it a question in regard to the establishment of his throne ? Does he say:: “Have the armies of Israel been victorious ? Am I to continue in my imperial authority? Have I overthrown my enemies ?” Oh! no. There is one question that springs from his heart to the lip, and springs from the lip into the ear of the besweated and bedusted messenger flying from the battle-field-the question,"Is the young man Absalom safe ?" When it was told to David, the King, that, though his armies had been victorious, his son had been slain, the father turned his back upon the congratulations of the nation, and went up the stairs of his palace, his heart breaking as he went, wringing his hands sometimes, and then again pressing them against his temples as though he would press them in, crying: "0 Absalom! my son ! my son! Would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom! my son ! my son !"
My friends, the question which David, the King, asked in regard to his son is the question that resounds to-day in the hearts of hundreds of parents. Yea, there are a great multitude of young men here who know that the question of the text is appropriate when asked in regard to them. They know the temptations by which they are surrounded; they see so many who started life with as good resolutions as they have who have fallen in the path, and they are ready to hear me ask the question of my text: “Is the young man Absalom safe ?'' The fact is that this life is full of peril. He who undertakes it without the grace of God and a proper understanding of the conflict into which he is going must certainly be defeated. Just look off upon society to-day. Look at the shipwreck of men for whom fair things were promised, and who started life with every advantage. Look at those who have dropped from high social position, and from great fortune, disgraced for time, disgraced for eternity. To prove that this life is an awful peril unless a man has the grace of God to defend him, I point to that wreck of Friday at Ludlow street Jail, showing on what a desolate coast a strong craft may crash and part. Let there be no exhilaration over that man's fate. Instead of the chuckle of satisfaction, let there be in every Christian soul a deep sadness. The fact is, that there are tens of thousands of men in this country who, under the same pressure of temptation, would have fallen as low. Instead of bragging and boasting how you have maintained your integrity, you had better get down on your knees and thank God that His Almighty grace has kept you from the same moral catastrophe. There is no advice more appropriate to you and this whole country this morning than the advice of the Scripture, which says: “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall." All my sympathies are for the afflicted family of that dead prisoner. For the last seven years some of them I know have endured an inquisition of torture. May the God of all comfort help them in this day when there are so few to pray for them. In the presence of this Christian assemblage I invoke the God of all compassion to have mercy upon those bereft children. It is hard to see our friends die, even when they die in Christian triumph and with all blissful surroundings; but alas ! when to the natural anguish is added the anguish of a moral and a lifetime shipwreck. Ah! my friends, let us remember that that man made full expiation to society for his crimes against it. Let us remember that by pangs of body that no doctor could arrest, and by horrors of soul which no imagination can describe, he fully paid the price of his iniquity. Let others do as they may, I will not throw one nettle or one thistle on that man's grave. But, my friends, no minister of religion, no man who stands as I do, Sabbath morning and Sabbath night and Friday night, before a great
multitude of young men, trying to help them and educate them for time and eternity, can allow that event of the past week to go by without drawing from it a lesson of the fact that life is an awful peril without the religion of Jesus Christ, and that the way of the transgressor is hard.” No stouter nature ever started out on this world than William M. Tweed. He conquered poverty; he conquered lack of education; he achieved an aldermanic chair in the metropolis of this country; he gained a position in the Congress at Washington, and then he took his position on a financial throne of power at Albany, his frown making legislative assemblages tremble, while he divided the notoriety with James Fisk, Jr., of being the two great miscreants of the nineteenth century. Alas! Alas! Young man, look at the contrastin elegant compartment of Wagner's palace-car, surrounded by wines and cards and obsequious attendants, going to the Senatorial place in Albany; then look again at the plain box in the undertaker's wagon at three o'clock of last Friday at the door of a prison. Behold the contrast --the pictured and bouqueted apartments at the Delavan, liveried servants admitting millionaires and Senators who were flattered to take his hand; then see the almost friendless prisoner on a plain cot, throwing out his dying hand to clutch that of Luke, his black attendant. Behold the wedding party at the mansion, the air bewitched with crowns, and stars, and harps of tuberoses and japonicas; among the wedding presents, forty complete sets of silver; fifteen diamond sets, one set of diamonds worth $45,000; the wedding dress at the expense $4,000, with trimmings that cost another $1,000; two baskets of silverware, representing icebergs, to contain the ices, while Polar bears of silver lie down on the handles of the baskets; the banquet, the triumph of Delmonico's lifetime; the whole scene a bewilderment of costliness and magnificence. And then behold the low-ceiling room, looking out on a dingy street, where poor, exhausted, forsaken, betrayed, sick William M. Tweed lies a dying. From how high up to how low down! There were many common people in New York who for years were persuaded by what they saw that an honest and laborious life did not pay. As the carriage swept by containing the jewelled despoiler of public funds, men felt like throwing their burdens down and trying some other way of getting a livelihood; but where is the clerk on $500 salary a year, where is the porter who will to-morrow sweep out the store, where is the scavenger of the street who would take Tweed's years of fraudulent prosperity if he must also take Tweed's sufferings, and Tweed's dishonor, and Tweed's death? Ah! there never was such an illustration for the young men of New York and Brooklyn of the fact that dishonesty will not pay. Take a dishonest dollar and bury it in the centre of the earth, and heap all the rocks of the mountain on the top of it; then cover these rocks with all the diamonds of Golconda,and all the silver of Nevada, and all the gold of California and Australia, put on the top of these all banking and moneyed institutions, and they cannot keep down that one dishonest dollar. That one dishonest dollar in the centre of the earth will begin to heave and rock and upturn itself until it comes to the resurrection of damnation. “As a partridge sitteth on eggs and hatcheth them not, so riches got by fraud, a man shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at the end he shall be a fool." You tell me that in the last days the man of whom I speak read his Bible three times a day. I cast no slur on such a thing as that. It was beautiful, and it was appropriate. God could save that