Puslapio vaizdai

was God shaking him. And by just these means, more than any others, skeptics and infidels will know there is a God. Let me say a word to those ministers that have not and do not go into the inquiry-room. Many in your flocks, never seeing you there, think you are not in sympathy with this work, and then begin to think you don't care anything about their salvation. They feel in bondage, and do not go to help them. Well, there was a minister in a city we visited who did not "condescend" to be seen in our humble Tabernacle. He would have nothing to do with us. One day he was at a dinner party where they were discussing our work. Said he: 66 That sort of thing is good enough for those people, but it would never do for me." "Well," said another clergyman of the same belief, "fifty-seven of your congregation stood up in the Tabernacle for prayers to-day, and all of them afterward went into the inquiry-room." The cultured and popular pastor of those Christians could not kill the humane promptings to be charitable to all professing the name of Christ, and to worship along with such even in perhaps irregular modes. But with the cordial co-operation of every Christian pastor in the Tabernacle and inquiry-room, what limit would there be to the Christian inroads on the citadels of sin ? Oh, make it a duty, all of you, to talk to some soul at every meeting in these blessed inquiry-rooms. Don't take those in a position in life above your own, but take those on the same footing. Bend all your endeavors to answer for poor, struggling souls that question of all importance to them, "What must I do to be saved?" Yes, this is the question. What else but to answer it brought out these thousands at this early hour! My friends, God is with you in this work; go on more diligently and implicitly trusting in Him; go on to a more and more glorious harvest. Let us pray.

[ocr errors]

"The Lord of hosts mustereth the hosts of the battle."-Isa. xiii. 4.

AWAKE, ye soldiers of the Lord,

With shield of faith and gospel sword;

The trumpet echoes from afar,

And Zion shakes with sound of war.

Awake! awake! the call obey;
Awake! awake! and march away;
With sturdy blow beat down the foe,
For Truth will win the day,

[ocr errors]

The Penitent Thief.

WANT to call attention this evening to the conversion of the thief on the cross. I have spoken two or three times about sudden conversions, and have been approached by several people upon the subject. This morning two ladies came to me after the meeting and said they were in darkness, because I had been preaching that people could be converted suddenly. I thought we had got beyond that question. I thought I had got beyond that last Thursday night when trying to prove that conversion was instantaneous; but it seems we have not, and I want to call attention to it to-night. Well, we are told, by both Matthew and Mark, that these two thieves, who were hung up on either side of Him, reviled Him and scoffed at Him, as did the crowd. They cast His title in His teeth. We are told there was no difference between those men. Both had been in rebellion against God all their lives. Both were led out to execution as thieves and malefactors on the same day; but one of them was converted during the day, and the other was not. Over one of them came a wonderful change. What was it? How was it? What brought him under conviction? I don't know; but one thing I do know-he was convicted of sin, and confessed, and Christ saved him and snatched him from the very borders of hell. It says in Isaiah that He came to take the power from the mighty. Here was one who had been brought to the very borders of the pit by Satan, and yet Christ, whenever he called upon Him, was ready to help him. The thief had only to cry to Him and he was pardoned. You would think He had all He could do in attending to His own sufferings, when nailed to that tree, but the first cry from that thief was heard and answered. My friends, the Son of God was never in a position where He could not hear a sinner's prayers. No sinner ever uttered a cry that was not heard by Him. This man had no works to offer Him, no deeds of righteousness to bring before Him. He was a lost, ruined sinner. He had nothing to commend himself—nothing to offer. There he was, all mangled and bruised in consequence of his own sin. He had not only been a thief, but the very worst kind of a thief. I suppose he was a companion of Barabbas and of the most notorious thieves in the country. I have no doubt he

was a highwayman, and guilty of murder. He had been tried, but his trial had not broken his heart; the scourge had not softened him; imprisonment had not brought repentance. There he was on the cross, his heart as hard as ever, nailed hand and foot, and reviling the Son of God. I can just imagine what came over him when he heard the Son of God exclaim. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I can imagine this thief saying, when he heard this, "That is a strange thing to say. If I had the power I couldn't forgive them, but would call down fire from heaven to consume these wretches who are making jests about me." Perhaps it was the very cry of Christ on the cross while all those people were reviling Him and wagging their heads that convicted him, and that saved him. When He had uttered this prayer one of the malefactors reviled Him, and we find his companion rebuking him, saying: "Dost thou fear God?" We are told in Proverbs that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," and there is no hope for a sinner till the fear of God comes upon him. Sometimes in an audience like this a text similar to this one strikes into the heart of the people, and the fear of God comes upon them and they begin to see knowledge. I hope that may be the case to-night. This thief had been tried and scourged, the nails had been driven into his hands and feet, and he was suffering the agonies of the terrible death of the crucifixion, yet we find that then the fear of the Lord came upon him, and the moment the fear of God came upon him he confessed Christ. Not only did he confess Christ, but he confessed his own sins and turned and rebuked the thief on the other side of the cross, for we read that he said "We receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss." He confessed that he had been a sinner, and he was getting his just reward-death; and then there was hope for the man to be saved. This was the first step. There is no hope for a man being saved till he knows he is a sinner; there is no hope for a man who folds his arms and says, "I am willing to take the consequences if I am a sinner; I don't think God will condemn me." This thief stood when he confessed where every sinner ought to stand. He took his place as a sinner; he confessed his sins, and if you are to be saved to-night you must take your place before God as a sinner. If a man does not admit that he is a sinner, and that he has gone astray, there is no chance for God to forgive him. Suppose my boy has disobeyed me; suppose he has told me a falsehood, and he won't ask my forgiveness; won't acknowledge that he has told a falsehood. I can't forgive him. I must first get him to admit that he has told a lie, and when he does that then I can forgive him. So we must

confess our sins, acknowledge that we have committed sin in God's sight before he can forgive us. This thief confessed his sins and confessed Christ. "We receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss." A great many men in Chicago think that Christ did many things amiss, but the poor thief, who probably never heard the gospel in his life, who had perhaps lived in an atmosphere of crime, said, "This man hath done nothing amiss." He confessed him. That must have been a sweet moment in this, the darkest hour of His life. Judas had betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver. Peter had denied Him. He had been brought before Caiaphas and had been tried and found guilty by the Sanhedrim, and a howling multitude around Him jeering at His sufferings and wagging their heads, saying: “If thou be Christ, save Thyself." How pleasant it must have been to the Son of Man to hear the confession of this thief in those moments of bitterness. We read of Abraham in the promised land twenty-five years with abundant proofs of God's love to build up his faith, and yet he did not seem to have as much faith as this man. We read of Moses in the wilderness for forty years. He saw God's mighty hand leading the children through the Red Sea; he saw the water coming from the rock; he had everything to give him faith in his God, and yet he had not as much faith as this poor thief who, during his life, had nothing to school him in the faith of God. Look at Elijah. How much God gave him, how much He did for him, how miraculously He took care of him: he had everything to build up his faith; but here is a man who had never heard the gospel, who had never met Him before, who had mingled with the blasphemers, who had associated with the revilers and consorted with the worst classes of thieves. Why, if he had lived in Chicago to-day, and we had looked over the annals of crime, we would have found that he had been familiar with the Penitentiary, and yet this man as black as sin, and standing on the borders of hell, confessed Him and was saved. Peter had seen Him when raised from the dead, had witnessed the transfiguration, and he hadn't the faith of this man. I consider this one of the most remarkable evidences of conversion suddenly-the faith of this man on Calvary. He had heard none of His sermons, he had none of His miracles, and yet the very day he met Christ he was convicted and confessed, and took his place before Him as a sinner. He owned himself a sinner, and I tell you a man can never be saved till he has owned himself a sinIf he tries to put before Christ his own deeds, and justify himself, there is no hope for his salvation. This man merely took his place before Christ among the sinners, and his faith saved Him.



When I was a boy, I used to be a pretty bad speller-İ haven't improved much since-and I remember one day a word was given in the class. All passed the word, but when it came to me I was able to spell it and got clear up to the head of the class, and I was very proud of my promotion. If you will allow me the expression, this thief by his faith got clear up from the bottom to the head of the class. He passed by all the men of God and took his lead at the top of the class. He surpassed Peter, he surpassed Abraham, Noah, Elijah, Moses, and all of them when he said, "Why, this man hath done nothing amiss." Thank God for faith, thank God for this testimony, thank God for this confession. But what did he next do? He called Him "Lord." That is the marvellous thing. He was suffering upon that cross, his hands and feet nailed to it, and he called Him "Lord." Why, there was no sceptre in his hand; there was no crown on His head, except a crown of thorns, which sent the blood trickling down his face, causing Him to look hideous. He was a sorry sight, and amid the jeers of the multitude he called Him "Lord." Thank God for such faith. My friends, call Him Lord to-night. His prayer was short. He put it into three words, "Lord, remember me.' It was short, but it was a chain of golden leaves. He owned Him. "Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." What was it that induced this man to call him Lord, and ask him to remember him when He came into His kingdom. The idea of the man nailed to that cross and bleeding from His wounds having a kingdom! If He had a kingdom where were his subjects? See that howling crowd wagging their heads and reviling Him, and when he asked a draught of water they brought him vinegar. They were not His subjects. Where was the kingdom? His faith went beyond that, and that is what faith does. He didn't look upon his surroundings, but trusted him and cried to Him, “Lord, remember me." And how quick the answer came. Lord, remember me when Thou comest unto Thy kingdom,” and back came the answer: "To-day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." He got more than he asked for; and, my friends, when a man comes to Christ in faith he receives more than he asks. "Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." Here was, without conversation, sudden salvation, and I think that this is a proof which, if we are honest, ought to forever settle the question. How we linger around the death-bed of a man and hesitate about believing him accepted if he has not partaken of the Sacrament. If he hasn't people are in great distress. Now this man never partook of the Sacrament. Remember, I am saying nothing against the ordinance. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth when I say anything against the ordinance

[ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »