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Excuses, I.

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R. MOODY then said the text he would take was to be found in the chapter read, the nineteenth verse: “1 pray thee have me excused." Christ had been invited to dine with a rich Pharisee, and it seemed as though this man had gathered his friends together in a kind of conspiracy to catch Christ. They watched Him. A man who had the dropsy was placed before Jesus, as though they wanted to see what he would do. Christ read their hearts, and so before He healed the man, He asked them if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day. But they didn't want to answer, for fear they'd betray themselves, and so they held their peace. Then Christ put the question to them in another way, and asked them if any of them had an ox or an ass fall into a pit, should he not straight way pull him out on the Sabbath day, and then he healed the man, as the Pharisees and lawyers weren't able to answer Him. Then He told them about the feast, and told them to be humble. When a man prepares a feast, men rush in, but when God prepares one they all begin to make excuses, and don't want to go. The first excuse was that made by Adam, "the woman Thou gavest me, she gave me to eat." These men that excused themselves made manufactured excuses; they didn't really have any. The drunkard, the libertine, the business man, the citizen, the harlot, all had their excuses. If God were to take men at their word about these excuses, and swept every one into his grave who had an excuse, there would be a very small congregation in the Tabernacle next Sunday, there would be little business in Chicago, and in a few weeks the grass would be growing on these busy streets. Every man who was nursing a sin had an excuse, as though God had asked them to go into a plaguestricken city, or a hospital, or to hear a dry lecture, or something repelling and objectionable, something that wasn't for their greatest good.

Take the excuses. There wasn't one that wasn't a lie. The devil made them all; and if the sinner hadn't one already the devil was there at his elbow to suggest one, about the truth of the Bible, or something of that sort. One of the excuses mentioned was that the man invited had bought a piece of ground, and had to look at it. Real estate and corner lots were keeping

It was a lie to say

a good many men out of God's kingdom. that he had to go and see it then, for he ought to have looked at it before he bought it. Then the next man said he'd bought some oxen, and must prove them. That was another lie; for if he hadn't proved them before he bought them he ought to have done, and could have done it after the supper just as well as before it. But the third man had the silliest, the worst excuse of all; he said he had married a wife, and couldn't come. Why didn't he bring her with him? She'd have liked the supper just as well as he would, and would have enjoyed a supper, as almost any young bride would.

These seemed to be foolish excuses, but they were not any more so than the excuses of to-day. Indeed, the excuses of men are getting worse and worse all the time. They say they can't believe the Bible; it's so mysterious. Well, what of it? Infidels, sceptics, pantheists, deists, said they didn't believe the Bible. Had they ever used it? Did they read it as carefully as they read any other book. This was their excuse. If everybody could understand everything the Bible said it wouldn't be God's book; if Christians, if theologians had studied it for forty, fifty, sixty years, and then only began to understand it, how could a man expect to understand it by one reading? A child the first day at school couldn't even know the alphabet, and yet it wasn't a sign that it was a poor school, because he didn't learn the first day all about grammar, arithmetic, and geometry. Another said God was a hard master. No; that was one of Satan's lies. The devil's the hard master. In the Tombs in New York there is over the door the remark, "The way of the transgressor is hard." God's yoke is easy, his burden light. Ask prisoners, ask gamblers, ask sinners, if Satan's yoke is easy. It's the hardest of all. He asked the Christians in the audience if God was a hard master. (Cries-No! No!) That, said Mr. Moody, is pretty faint. Is God a hard master, Christians? (Cries all over the hall-No! No! No!) God's service a hard one! How will that sound in the judgment? Many said it wasn't that, but there is such a struggle. Wasn't all life a struggle? Some said they were wicked. Those are just the kind Jesus came to save. They weren't too wicked to be saved. They were so worldly-minded, so hard-hearted; that was another falsehood. Look at what God did for Bunyan and John Newton, and many others who were the wickedest, and even the thief on the cross. God is already reconciled; He doesn't need the sinner to be reconciled to Him. The Lord prepares the sinner. A touching story was told of an English father and son, who had become estranged, but who were united over the deathbed of the wife and mother. The father was stern, but was re

conciled by the prayers of the dying parent. And this was so with God the sinner had left Him, God was removed from him but God and the sinner were brought near by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I

This afternoon I chose for my text the fourteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter of Luke, and you will remember I took up certain of the excuses of the present day in regard to accepting Christ. One of these excuses I said was that Christ was a hard master; it was a very difficult thing to become a Christian, and the other was that Christ would not receive them. Now, I just want to take up where I left off, and notice the excuses we hear in the inquiry room, in the streets of Chicago-everywhere. said this afternoon you were not invited when asked to come to Christ to a dry lecture on a disagreeable subject, but to a marriage feast. The Lord has said, "Blessed is he who shall be at the marriage supper of the Lord." I have missed a good many appointments in my life, but there is one I will not miss. I would rather be at the marriage feast than have the whole world rolled at my feet. I want to be there and sit down with Isaac and Jacob and Abraham at that supper. It is an invitation for joy and gladness that comes from the King of Kings, from the Lord of Glory, to every man and woman in this assembly-the invitation to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is not a personal invitation, but a universal one-"Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Bid them come, "the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind," to the marriage feast, prepared at great expense by our blessed Redeemer. I said in the afternoon that people began to make excuses very early in the history of Christianity, and they are still at it. Nineteen hundred years have rolled away and still there are excuses. One of the excuses that we very often hear people giving, is that they don't want to become Christians because it will make them gloomy-they will have to put on long faces and button their coats up, cut off all joy and walk through the world till they get to heaven, where they will have pleasure for evermore. We look forward to that happy future, but thank God, we have some pleasure here. Indeed, no man in the world should be so happy as a man of God. It is one continual source of gladness. He can look up and say, "God is my father," "Christ is my Saviour, and the Church is my mother." All who think otherwise than that a Christian's life is one of unceasing joy are deceiving themselves. I was going by a saloon the other day and saw a sign, "Drink and be merry." Poor, blind, deluded fellows, if they think this will make them merry. If you want to be merry you must come to the living fountain that bursts from the throne

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of God; then you will have true pleasure. A man away from
God cannot have true pleasure. He is continually thirsting for
something he cannot get-thirsting for something that can
quench his thirst, and he cannot get it until he comes to the
living fountain. My friends, that is just another wile of the
devil to keep men from grace. It is false. The more a man is
lifted up to heaven the more joy and peace and gladness he has.
He is lifted away from gloom. Look at a man on his way to
execution. Suppose I run up to him, holding out my hand, and
say: "There is a pardon that has been signed by the Governor,"
and I give it him. Would he be gloomy and joyless? That is
Christ. He comes down with a pardon to us poor men and
women on our way to execution. Yonder is a man starving. I
go to him and give him bread. Is that going to make him
gloomy? A poor man comes along crying with thirst, and I
give him a glass of ice water; would that make him gloomy?
That is what Christ is doing for us. He has a well of living
water, and He asks every thirsty soul to drink freely. Don't
you believe for a moment that Christianity is going to make you
gloomy.

I remember when I was a boy I thought I would wait till I died and then become a Christian. I thought if I had the consumption, or some lingering disease, I would have plenty of time to become one, and in the mean time I would enjoy the best of the pleasures of the world. My friends, I was at that time under the power of the devil. The idea that a man has more pleasure away from church is one of the devil's lies. Do not believe it, but accept of this universal invitation to the marriage feast.

"Come now,

and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow."-Isaiah i. 18.

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Excuses, II.

CAN imagine some men saying "Mr. Moody has not touched my case at all. That is not the reason why I won't accept Christ. I don't know if I am one of the elect." How often am I met with this excuse-how often do I hear it in the inquiry room? How many men fold their arms and say, "If I am one of the elect I will be saved, and if I ain't I won't. No use of your bothering about it." Why don't some of those merchants say, "If God is going to make me a successful merchant in Chicago I will be one whether I like it or not, and if he hasn't I won't." If you are sick, and a doctor prescribes for you, don't take the medicine; throw it out of the door; it don't matter, for if God has decreed you are going to die you will, and if he hasn't you will get better. If you use that argument you may as well not walk home from this tabernacle. If God has said you'll get home, you'll get-you'll fly through the air, if you have been elected to go home. These illustrations are just the same as the excuse. You cannot go up there and give that excuse. The water of life is offered freely to every one. No unconverted man in the wide, wide world has anything to do with the doctrine of election any more than I have to do with the government of China. That epistle of Paul was written to Godly men. Suppose I pick up a letter and open it, and it tells me about the death of my wife. Dear me-my wife dead. But I look on the other side of the letter and find that it is directed to another man. And so a great many people take Paul's letter to the churches and take it as a personal letter. This is what you have to take up: "Whosoever will, let him drink of the water of life freely." He came down sixty years after his resurrection and said to John-put it so broad that no one will mistake it; put it so broad that no one in Chicago can be stumbling over it, so that all men may see it plainly-"Whosoever will, let him drink of the water of life freely." If you will, you will: if you won't, you won't. Do you think that God will come down here to give you salvation without giving you the power to take it, and then condemn you to eternity for not taking it? With the gift comes the power, and you can take it and live if you will. Don't stumble over election any more. You have to deal with that broad proclamation: "Whosoever will, let him drink of the water of life freely." I can imagine some one in the

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