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The Conversion of Saul.
OU who were here last night know that I was speaking on the Prodigal Son; to-night I want to take up another man for my text-the one we have been speaking about; a much harder case than the prodigal, because he didn't think he needed a Saviour. You needn't have talked a great while to that prodigal before you could have convinced him that he needed a Saviour. It is easy to reach a prodigal's heart when he reaches the end of his rope. This man stood high in the estimation of the people-he stood, as it were, at the top round of the ladder, while the prodigal was at the bottom. This man was full of self-righteousness, and if you had tried to pick out a man in Jerusalem as a hopeless case, so far as accepting Jesus of Nazareth as a Saviour, you would have picked out Saul. He was the most utterly hopeless case you could have found. I would sooner have thought of the conversion of Pilate than of this man. When they were putting to death the martyrs to the cross he had cheered on the murderers; but in spite of all this we find the Son of God coming and knocking at his heart, and it was not long before he received Him as his Saviour. You can see him as he goes to the chief priests of Jerusalem, getting the necessary documents that he might go to Damascus, that he might go to the synagogue there and get all who were calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ cast into prison. He was going to stamp out the teachers of the new gospel. One thing that made him so mad probably was that when the disciples were turned out of Jerusalem, instead of stopping they went all around and preached. Phillip went down to Samaria, and probably there was a great revival there, and the news had come from Damascus that the preachers had actually reached that place. This man was full of zeal and full of religion. He was a religious man, and no doubt he could say a prayer as long as any one in Jerusalem. He had kept the laws faithfully, and been an honest and upright man. The people then would never have dreamed of him requiring a Saviour. A good many people right here in Chicago would say, "He is good enough. To be sure he don't believe in Jesus Christ, but he is a good man." And there's a good many in Chicago who don't believe in Him. They think if they pay their debts and live a moral
life they don't need to be converted. They don't want to call upon Him; they want to get Christ and all His teaching out of the way as this man did. That's what they have been trying to do for eighteen centuries. He just wanted to stamp it out with one swoop. So he got the necessary papers, and away he went down to Damascus. Suppose, as he rode out of the gate of Jerusalem on his mission, any one had said to him: "You are going down to prosecute the preachers of Christ, but you'll come back a preacher yourself.” If a man said this he would not have had his head on his shoulders five minutes. He would have said, "I hate Him; I abhor Him; that's me." He wants to get Christ and His disciples out of the way. He was no stranger to Christ; he knew His working; for as Paul said to Agrippa, "This thing was not done in a corner." He knew all about Christ's death. Probably he was acquainted with Nicodemus and the members of the Sanhedrim who were against Christ. Perhaps he was acquainted with Christ's disciples, and with all their good deeds. Yet he had a perfect hatred for the gospel and its teachers, and he was going down to Damascus just to have all those Christians put into prison. You see him as he rides out of Jerusalem with his brilliant escort, and away he goes through Samaria, where Philip was. He wouldn't speak to a Samaritan, however. The Jews detested the Samaritans. The idea of him speaking to an adulterous Samaritan would have been ridiculous to him. So he rode proudly through the nation, with his head raised, breathing slaughter to the children of God. Damascus was about one hundred and thirty-eight miles from Jerusalem, but we are not told how long he took for that journey. Little did he think that nineteen hundred years after, that in this country, then wild, there would be thousands of people gathered just to hear the story of his journey down to Damascus. He has arrived at the gates of the city and he has not got cooled off as we say. He is still breathing revenge. See him as he stands before that beautiful city. Some one has said that this is the most beautiful city in the world, and we are told that when Mohammed came to it he turned his head away from it, lest the beauty of it would take him from his God. So this young man comes to the city, and he tells us the hour when he reached it. He never forgets the hour, for it was then that Christ met him. He says he "saw in the way a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun;" he saw the light of heaven and a glimpse of that light struck him to the ground. And when God speaks to the sinner that's where he ought to be. Every man ought to fall on his face. From that light a voice called, "Saul, Saul." Yes, the Son of God knows his name. Sinner, God knows your name. He knows all about you. He
knows the street you live in, the number of your house, because
I remember hearing of a Sabbath school teacher who had led every one of her children to Christ. She was a faithful teacher. Then she tried to get her children to go out and bring other children into the school. One day one of them came and said she had been trying to get the children of a family to come to the school, but the father was an infidel, and he wouldn't allow it. "What is an infidel ?" asked the child. She had never heard of an infidel before. The teacher went on to tell her what an infidel was, and she was perfectly shocked. A few mornings after the girl happened to be going past a post-office on her way to school, and she saw the infidel father coming out. She went up to him and said, "Why don't you love Jesus?" If it had been a man who had said that to him probably he would have knocked him down. He looked at her and walked on. A second time she put the question. "Why don't you love Jesus?" He put out his hand to put her gently away from him, when, on looking down he saw her tears. "Please, sir, tell me why you don't love Jesus?" He pushed her aside and away he went. When he got to his office he couldn't get this question out of his mind. All the letters seemed to read, Why don't you love
Jesus ?" All the men in his place of business seemed to say, "Why don't you love Jesus ?" When he tried to write his pen seemed to shape the words, "Why don't you love Jesus?" He couldn't rest, but on the street he went to mingle with the business men, but he seemed to hear a voice continually asking him, “Why don't you love Jesus?" He thought when night came and he got home with his family he would forget it; but he couldn't. He complained that he wasn't well, and went to bed. But when he laid his head on the pillow that voice kept whispering, "Why don't you love Jesus ?" He couldn't sleep. By and by, about midnight, he got up and said, "I will get a Bible and find where Christ contradicts Himself and then I'll have a reason," and he turned to the book of John. My friends, if you want a reason for not loving Christ, don't turn to John. He knew Him too long. I don't believe a man can read the gospel of John without being turned to Christ. Well, he read through and found no reason why he shouldn't love Him, but he found many reasons why he should. He read this book and before morning he was on his knees, and that question put by that little child led to his conversion. My friends, if you make up your minds not to go to sleep to-night without a good reason why you shouldn't love Him, you will love Him. There is no reason, as I said before, in the wide, wide world, why you shouldn't love Christ. Go down to the dark corners of the earth-even to hell, and ask them there if they can give you any reason for not loving Christ. My friends, the lost spirits can give you no reason. Neither in earth nor in hell can any reason be found for not loving Him. To-night put this question to yourselves: "What keeps me from coming to Christ ?" "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?" Oh may the question go down to our hearts to-night, and may you not sleep till you can look up and say, "Christ is my Saviour, He is my Redeemer," and until you can see your title clear for one of those mansions He has gone to prepare.
When this question was put to Saul, "Why persecutest thou Me?" he supplemented it by saying, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." The thought I want to call attention to is this: It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." You and I would not have had any compassion upon Saul if we had been in Christ's place. We would have said the hardship is upon the poor Christians in Damascus. But the Lord saw differently. He said, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." In those days when they didn't drive their camels with whips, they had a piece of stick with a sharp piece of steel at the end called a prick, and it was applied to the animal. A lady said to me some time ago, "It is easy to sin, but
it is hard to do right,” or, in other words, it is hard to serve God and easy to serve the devil. I think you will find hundreds of people in Chicago who think this way. There is not a lie which ever came from hell so deceptive as this. It is as false as any lie the devil ever uttered. We want to drive that lie back where it came from. My friends, it is not true. God is not a hard master. He is a lenient one. What did Christ say to Saul? "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." There is a period at which the sinner arrives when he sees the truth of this. How many men have said to me, “Mr. Moody, the way of the transgressor is pretty hard." It is a common expression. I have been with men in court and in prison who have said this. It is not a hard thing to serve God if you are born of God; but, my friends, it is a hard thing to serve Satan. The way of sin grows darker and harder to a man the longer he is in it. Before I came down I took up a paper, and the first thing I saw was the account of a Boston man who had forged, and it closed by saying his path was a hard, flinty one.
Now, take up any class of sinners in Chicago. We've representatives here to-night. Take the harlot. Do you think her life is an easy one? It is very short. The average one is seven years. Just look at her as she comes up to the city from the home where she has left_sisters and a mother as pure as the morning air. She came down to the city and is now in a low brothel. Sometimes her mind goes back to the pure home where her mother prayed for her; where she used to lay down her head on that mother's bosom, and she used to press the sweet face of that child to her own. She remembers when she went to Sunday-school; remembers when her mother tried to teach her to serve God, and now she is an exile. She don't want to go home. She is full of shame. She looks into the future and sees darkness before her. In a few short years she dies the death of a harlot, and she is laid away in an unknown grave. All the flattery of her lovers is hollow and false. Is her life a happy one? Ask a harlot to-night, and she will tell you the way of the transgressor is hard; and then ask the pure and virtuous if Christ is a hard master. Go ask that drunkard if his way is an easy one. Why, there was a man whom I knew who was an inveterate drinker. He had a wife and children. He thought he could stop whenever he felt inclined, but he went the ways of most moderate drinkers. I had not been gone more than three years and, when I returned I found that that mother had gone down to the grave with a broken heart, and that man was the murderer of the wife of his bosom. Those children have all been taken away from him, and he is now walking