Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ligence and uprightness, the judgment of foreigners OR him has long been an index to the judgment of poster. ity here. No other American is read so much and 80 constantly abroad. His extraordinary imagination, earnestness, descriptive powers and humor, his great art in grouping and arrangement, his wonderful mastery of words to illumine and alleviate human conditions and to interpret and inspire the harmonies of the better nature, are appreciated by all who can put themselves in sym. pathy with his originality of methods and his high consecration of purpose. His manner mates with his nature. It is each sermon in action. He presses the eyes, hands, his entire body, into the service of the illustrative truth. Gestures are the accompaniment of what he says. As he stands out before the immense throng, without a scrap of notes or manuscript before him, the effect produced can not be understood by those who have never seen it. The solemnity, the tears, the awful hush, af though the audience could not breathe again, are ofttimes painful.

His voice is peculiar, not musical, but productive of startling, strong effects, such as characterize no preacher on either side of the Atlantic. His power to grapple an audience and master it from text to peroration has no equal. No man was ever legs self-conscious in his work. He feels a mission of evangelization on him as by the imposition of the Supreme. That mission he responds to by doing the duty that is nearest to him with all his might-au confident that he is under the care and order

of Divine Master as those who hear him are that they are under the spell of the greatest prose-poot that ever made the gospel his song and the redemption of the race the passion of his heart.

The following discourses were taken down by steno graphic reporters and revised by Mr. Talmage specially for this work. On the occasion of their delivery the church was thronged beyond description, the streets around blockaded with people so that carriages could not pass, Mr. Talmage himself gaining wiwion only by the help of the polioa

[ocr errors]

OHAPTER I.

A PERSONAL EXPLORATION IN HAUNTS OF VICE.

“When said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall; and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw ; and behold every form of creeping things and abominable beasts.”—Ezekiel, viii: 8, 9, 10.

[ocr errors]

So this minister of religion, Ezekiel, was commanded to the exploration of the sin of his day. He was not to stand outside the door guessing what it was, but was to go in and see for himself. He did not in vision say: “O Lord, I don't wan't to go in ; I dare not go in ; if I go in I might be criticised ; O Lord, please let me off pou When God told Ezekiel to go in he went in, “and saw, and behold all manner of creeping things and abominable beasts.” I, as a minister of religion, felt I had a Divine commission to explore the iniquities of our cities. I did not ask counsel of my session, or my Presbytery, or of the newspapers, but asking the companion. ship of three prominent police officials and two of the elders of my church, I unrolled my commission, and it said: “Son of man, dig into the wall; and when I had digged into the wall, behold a door ; and he said, Go in and see the wicked abominations that are done here ; and I went in, and saw, and behold !” Brought up in the country and surrounded by much parental care, I had not until this antumn seen the haunts of iniquity. By the grace of God defended, I had never

[ocr errors]

sowed

any

“ wild oats." I had somehow been able to tell from various sources something about the iniquities of the great cities, and to preach against them; but I saw, in the destruction of a great multitude of the people, that there must be an infatuation and a temptation that had never been spoken about, and I said, “I will explore.” I saw tens of thousands of men going down, and if there had been a spiritual percussion answering to the physical percussion, the whole air would have been full of the rumble, and roar, and crack, and thunder of the demolition, and this moment, if we should pause in our service, we should hear the crash, crash ! Just as in the sickly season you sometimes hear the bell at the gate of the cemetery ringing almost incessantly, so I found that the bell at the gate of the cemetery where lost souls are buried was tolling by day and tolling by night. I said, “I will explore.” I went as a physician goes into a small-pox hospital, or a fever lazzaretto, to see what practical and useful information I might get. That would be a foolish doctor who would stand outside the door of an invalid writing a Latin prescription. When the lecturer in a medical college is done with his lecture he takes the students into the dissecting room, and he shows them the reality. I am here this morning to report a plague, and to teil you how sin dissects the body, and dissects the mind, and dissects the soul. “Oh !” say you,

“are you not afraid that in consequence of your exploration of the inquities of the city other persons may make exploration, and do themselves damage ?” I reply: “If, in company with the Commissioner of Police, and the Captain of Police, and the Inspector of Police, and the company of two Christian gentlemen, and not with the spirit of curiosity, but that you may see sin in order the better to combat it, then, in the name

of the eternal God, go ! But, if not, then stay away. Wellington, standing in the battle of Waterlvo when the bullets were buzzing around his head, saw a civilian on the field. He said to him, “ Sir, what are you doing here? Be off ??? “Why," replied the civilian, “there is no more danger here for me than there is for you.” Then Wellington flushed up and said, “God and my country demand that I be here, but you have no errand here.” Now I, as an officer in the army of Jesus Christ, went on this exploration, and on to this battlefield. If you bear a like commission, go; if not, stay away. But you say,

“Don't you think that somehow your description of these places will induce people to go and see for themselves ?" I answer, yes, just as much as the description of the yellow fever at Grenada would induce people to go down there and get the pestilence. It was told us there were hardly enough people alive to bury the dead, and I am going to tell you a story in these Sabbath morning sermons of places where they are all dead or dying. And I shall not gild iniquities. I shall play a dirge and not an anthem, and while I shall not put faintest blush on fairest cheek, I will kindle the cheeks of many a man into a conflagration, and I will make his ears tingle. But you say, “Don't you know that the papers are criticising you for the position you take? I say, yes; and do you know how I feel about it! There is no man who is more indebted to the newspaper press than I am. My business is to preach the truth, and the wider the audience the newspaper press gives me, the wider my field is. As the secular and religious press of the United States and the Canadas, and of England and Ireland and Scotland and Australia and New Zealand, are giving me every week nearly three million souls for an audience, I say I am

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »