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condemnatory, as one I got yesterday from a man who said he thought my sermons would do great damage in the fact that they would arouse the suspicion of domestic circles as to where the head of the family was spending his evenings! I was sorry it was an anonymous letter, for I should have written to that man's wife telling her to put a detective on her husband's track, for I knew right away he was going to bad places! My friends, you say, “It is not possible to do anything with these stalwart iniquities; you cannot wrestle them down.' Stupid man, read my text: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church." Those gates of hell are to be prostrated just as certainly as God and the Bible are true, but it will not be done until Christian men and women, quitting their prudery and squeamishness in this matter, rally the whole Christian sentiment of the church and assail these great evils of society. The Bible utters its denunciation in this direction again and again, and yet the piety of the day is such a namby-pamby, emetic sort of a thing that you cannot even quote Scripture without making somebody restless. As long as this holy iinbecility reigns in the church of God, sin will laugh you to scorn. I do not know but that before the church wakes up matters will get worse and worse, and that there will have to be one lamb sacrificed from each of the most carefully-guarded folds, and the wave of uncleanness dash to the spire of the village church and the top of the cathedral pillar. Prophets and patriarchs, and apostles and evangelists,and Christ himself have thundered against these sins as against no other, and yet there are those who think we ought to take, when we speak of these subjects, a tone apologetic. I put my foot on all the conventional rhetoric on this subject, and I tell you plainly that unless you give up that sin your doom is
sealed, and world without end you will be chased by the anathemas of an incensed God. I rally you under the cheerful prophecy of the text; I rally you to a besiegement of the gates of hell. We want in this besieg. ing host no soft sentimentalists, but men who are willing to give and take hard knocks. The gates of Gaza were carried off, the gates of Thebes were battered down, the gates of Babylon were destroyed, and the gates of hell are going to be prostrated. The Christianized printingpress will be rolled up as the chief battering-ram. Then there will be a long list of aroused pulpits, which shall be assailing fortresses, and God's red-hot truth shall be the flying ammunition of the contest; and the sappers and the miners will lay the train under these foundations of sin, and at just the right time God, who leads on the fray, will cry, “Down with the gates!" and the explosion beneath will be answered by all the trumpets of God on high celebrating universal victory. But there may be in this house one wanderer that would like to have a kind word calling homeward, and I cannot sit down until I have uttered that word. I have told you that society has no mercy. Did I hint, at an earlier point in this subject, that God will have mercy upon any wanderer who would like to come back to the heart of infinite love?
A cold Christmas night in a farm-house. Father comes in from the barn, knocks the snow from his shoes, and sits down by the fire. The mother sits at the stand knitting. She says to him: “Do you remember it is anniversary to-night?” The father is angered. He never wants any allusion to the fact that one had gone away, and the mere suggestion that it was the anniversary of that sad event made him quite rough, although the tears ran down his cheeks. The old house-dog, that had played
with the wanderer when she was a child, came up and put his head on the old man's knee, but he roughly repulsed the dog. He wants nothing to remind him of the anniversary day. The following incident was told me. It was a cold winter night in a city church. It is Christmas night. They have been decorating the sanctuary. A lost wanderer of the street, with thin shawl about her, attracted by the warmth and light, comes in and sits near the door. The minister of religion is preaching of Him who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and the poor soul by the door said: “Why, that must mean me; 'mercy for the chief of sinners; bruised for our iniquities ; wounded for our transgressions.'” The inusic that night in the sanctuary brought back the old hymn which she used to sing when with father and mother slie worshiped God in the village church. The service over, the minister went down the aisle. She said to him: • Were those words for me? 'Wounded for our transgressions.' Was that for me?": ' The man of God understood her not. He knew not how to comfort a shipwrecked soul, and he passed on and he passed out. The poor wanderer followed into the street. “What are you doing here, Meg?" said the
“What are you doing here to-night?” “Oh!" she replied, "I was in to warm myself;" and then the rattling cough came, and she held to the railing until the paroxysm was over. She passed on down the street, falling from exhaustion; recovering herself again, unti? after a while she reached the outskirts of the city and passed on into the country road. It seemed so familiar, she kept on the road, and she saw in the distance a light in the window. Ah! that light had been gleaming there every night since she went away.
On that country road she passed until she came to the garden gate. She
opened it and passed up the path where she played in childhood. She came to the steps and looked in at the fire on the hearth. Then she put her fingers to the latch. Oh! if that door had been locked she would have perished on the threshold, for she was near to death. But that door had not been locked since the time she went away. She pushed open the door. She went in and laid down on the hearth by the fire. The old house-dog growled as he saw her enter, but there was something in the voice he recognized, and he frisked about her until he almost pushed her down in his joy. In the morning the mother came down, and she saw a bundle of rags on the hearth; but when the face was uplifted, she knew it, and it was no more old Meg of the street. Throwing her arms around the returned prodigal, she cried, “Oh! Maggie.” The child threw her arms around her mother's neck, and said: “Oh! Mother," and while they were embraced a rugged form towered above them. It was the father. The severity all gone out of his face, he stooped and took her up tenderly and carried her to mother's room, and laid her down on mother's bed, for she was dying. Then the lost one, looking up into her mother's face, said: “Wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities!” Mother, do you think that means me ?” “Oh, yes, my darling," said the mother, “if mother is so glad to get you back, don't you think God is glad to get you back ?"
And there she lay dying, and all her dreams and all her prayers were filled with the words, “Wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities," until just before the moment of her departure, her face lighted up, showing the pardon of God had dropped upon her soul. And there she slept away on the bosom of a pardoning Jesus. So the Lord took back one whom the world rejected.
"And the vale of Siddim was full of slime-pits."-Genesis xiv: iv.
About six months ago, a gentleman in Augusta, Georgia, wrote me asking me to preach from this text, and the time has come for the subject. The neck of an army had been broken by falling into these half-hidden slimepits. How deep they were, or how vile, or how hard to get out of, we are not told; but the whole scene is so far distant in the past that we have not half as much interest in this statement of the text as we have in the announcement that our American cities are full of slimepits, and tens of thousands of people are falling in them night by night. Recently, in the name of God, I explored some of these slime-pits. Why did I do so? In April last, seated in the editorial rooms of one of the chief daily newspapers of New York, the editor said to me: “Mr. Talinage, you clergymen are at great disadvantage when you come to battle iniquity, for you don't know what you are talking about, and we layınen are aware of the fact that you don't know of what you are talking; now, if you would like to make a personal investigation, I will see that you shall get the highest official escort.' I thanked him, accepted the invitation, and told him that this autumn I would begin the tour. The fact was that I had for a long time wanted to say some words of warning and invitation to the young men of this country, and I felt if my course of serinons was preceded by a tour of this sort I should not only be bet- .