The Reward of the Faithful
byPastor Dwight L. Moody (1837 - 1899)
I can speak from experience - I have been in the Lord's service for twenty one years, and I want to testify that He is a good paymaster - that He pays promptly. Oh, I think I see faces before me light up at these words. You have been out in the harvest fields of the Lord, and you know this to be true. To go out and labor for Him is a thing to be proud of - to guide a poor, weary soul to the way of life, and turn his face towards the golden gates of Zion. The Lord's wages are better than silver and gold, because he says that the loyal soul shall receive a crown of glory. If the Mayor of Chicago gave out a proclamation stating that he had work for the men, women, and children of the city, and he would give them a dollar a day, people would say this was very good of the Mayor. This money, however, would fade away in a short time. But here is a proclamation coming directly from the Throne Of Grace to every man, woman, and child in the wide world to gather into God's vineyard, where they will find treasures that will never fade, and these treasures will be crowns of everlasting life; and the laborer will find treasures laid up in his Father's house, and when, after serving faithfully here, he will be greeted by friends assembled there. Work for tens of thousands of men, women, and children! Think of it, and the reward. These little children, my friends, are apt to be over looked; but they must be led to Christ - Children have done a great deal in the vineyard. They have led parents to Jesus. It was a little girl that led Naaman to Christ. Christ can find useful work for these little ones. He can see little things, and we ought to pay great attention to them. As I was coming along the street today I thought that if I could only impress upon you all that we have come here as to a vine yard, to reap and to gather, we shall have a glorious harvest, and we want every class to assist us. The first class we want is the Ministers. There was one thing that pleased me this morning, and that was the eight thousand people who came to this building, and the large number of Ministers who seized me by the hand, with the tears trickling down their cheeks, and who gave me a "God bless you!" It gave me a light heart. There are some Ministers who get behind the posts, as if they were ashamed of being seen in our company and of our meetings. They come to criticize the sermon and pick it to pieces. No effort is required to do this. We don't want the Ministers to criticize but to help us, and tell us when we are wrong. There was one Minister in this city who did me a great deal of good when I first started out. When I commenced to teach the Word of God I made very many blunders. I have learned that in acquiring anything a man must make many blunders. If a man is going to learn any kind of trade - carpenter's, plumber's, painter's - he will make any amount of mistakes. Well, this Minister, an old man, used to take me aside and tell me my errors. So we want the Ministers to come to us and tell us of our blunders, and if we get them to do this with us, a spiritual fountain will break over every Church in the city. Many Ministers have said to me, "What do you want us to do?" The Lord must teach us what our work shall be. Let every child of God come up to these meetings, and say, "Teach me, O God, what I can do to help these men and women who are inquiring the way to be saved," and at the close of the meetings draw near to them and point out the way. If men and women are to be converted in great meetings, it is by personal dealings with them. What we want is personal contact with them. If a number of people were sick, and a doctor prescribed one kind of medicine for them all, you would think this was wrong. This audience is spiritually diseased, and what we want is that Christian workers will go to them and find out their trouble. Five minutes private consultation will teach them. What we want is to get at the people. Every one has his own particular burden; every family has a different story to tell. Take the gospel of the Lord to them and show its application; tell them what to do with it, so as to answer their own cases; let the Minister come into the inquiry room.
An old man - a Minister in Glasgow, Scotland was one of the most active in our meetings. When he would be preaching elsewhere he would drive up in a cab with his Bible in his hand. It made no difference what part of Glasgow he was preaching in, he managed to attend nearly every one of our services. The old man would come in and tenderly speak to those assembled, and let one soul after another see the light. His congregation was comparatively small when we got there, but, by his painstaking efforts to Minister to those in search of the Word, when we left Glasgow his Church could not hold the people who sought admission, and I do not know of any man who helped us like Dr. Andrew Bonner. He was always ready to give the weak counsel and point the way out to the soul seeking Christ. If we have not Ministers enough, let those we have come forward, and their elders and Deacons will follow them.
The next class we want to help us to reach the people is the Sunday school teachers, and I value their experience next to that of the Ministers. In the cities where we have been, teachers have come to me and said, "Mr. Moody, pray for my Sunday school scholars," and I just took them aside and pointed out their duties and showed how they themselves ought to be able to pray for their pupils. Next meeting very often they would come, and the prayer would go up from them, "God bless my scholars."
In one city we went to, a Sunday school superintendent came to his Minister and said: "I am not fit to gather sinners to life eternal; I cannot be superintendent any longer." The Minister asked, "What is the reason?" and the man said, "I am not right with God." Then the Minister advised him that the best thing, instead of resigning, was to get right with God. So he prayed with that teacher that the truth would shine upon him; and God lit up his soul with the Word. Before I left that town, the Minister told me all doubt had fled from that superintendent's mind, and he had gone earnestly to work and gathered, from the time of his conversion, over six hundred scholars into the school of his Church. "God can bless, of course, in spite of schools and teachers; but they are the channels of salvation. Bring your classes together, and pray to God to convert them. We have from three thousand to five thousand teachers here. Suppose they said: "I will try to bring my children to Christ," what a reformation we should have! Don't say that that boy is too small, or that girl is too puny or insignificant. Every one is valuable to the Lord. A teacher, whom I found at our services when she ought to have been attending to her class, upon my asking why she was at our meeting, said: "Well, I have a very small class - only five little boys." "What," said I, "you have come here and neglected these little ones! Why, in that little tow head may be the seeds of a reformation. There may be a Luther, a Wheaton, a Wesley, or a Bunyan among them, You may be neglecting a chance for them, the effects of which will follow them through life." If you do not look to those things, teachers, some one will step into your vineyard and gather the riches you would have.
Look what that teacher did in Southern Illinois. She had taught a little girl to love the Savior, and the teacher said to her: "Can't you get your father to come to the Sunday school?" This father was a swearing, drinking man, and the love of God was not in his heart. But under the tuition of that teacher, the little girl went to her father, and told him of Jesus' love, and led him to that Sunday school. What was the result? I heard before leaving for Europe, that he had been instrumental in founding over seven hundred and eighty Sabbath schools in Southern Illinois. And what a privilege a teacher has - a privilege of leading souls to Christ. Let every Sabbath school teacher say: "By the help of God I will try to lead my scholars to Christ."
It seems to me that we have more help in our revivals from young men, except from mothers, than from any other class. The young men are pushing, energetic workers. Old men are good for counsel, and they should help, by their good words, the young men in making Christianity aggressive. These billiard halls have been open long enough. There is many a gem in those places, that only needs the way pointed out to fill their souls with love of Him. Let the young men go plead with them, bring them to the Tabernacle, and don't let them go out without presenting the claims of Christ, and show them His never dying love. Take them by the hand and say: "I want you to become a Christian." What we want is a hand-to-hand conflict with the billiard saloons and drinking halls. Do not fear, but enter them and ask the young men to come. I know that some of you say, in a scornful way: "We will never be allowed to enter; the people who go there will cast us out." This is a mistake. I know that I have gone to them and remonstrated, and have never been unkindly treated. And some of the best workers have been men who have been proprietors of these places, and men who have been constant frequenters. There are young men there breaking their mothers' hearts, and losing themselves for all eternity. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ asks you to seek them out. If we cannot get them to come here, let the building be thrown aside, and let us go down and hunt them up, and tell them of Christ and Heaven. If we get someone to preach to, let us preach, even if it be to one person. Christ preached one of His most wonderful sermons to the woman at the well; and shall we not be willing to go to one, as He did, and tell that one of salvation? And let us preach to men, even if they are under the influence of liquor.
I may relate a little experience. In Philadelphia, at one of our meetings, a drunken man rose up. Till that time I had no faith that a drunken man could be converted. When any one approached he was generally taken out. This man got up and shouted, "I want to be prayed for." The friends who were with him tried to draw him away, but he shouted only louder, and for three times he repeated his request. His call was attended to, and he was converted. God has power to convert a man even if he is drunk.
I have still another lesson. I met a man in New York who was an earnest worker, and I asked him to tell me his experiences. He said he had been a drunkard for over twenty years. His parents had forsaken him, and his wife had cast him off and married some one else. He went into a lawyer's office in Poughkeepsie, mad with drink. This lawyer proved a good Samaritan, and reasoned with him and told him he could be saved. The man scouted the idea. He said: "I must be pretty low when my father and mother, my wife and kindred cast me off, and there is no hope for me here or hereafter." But this good Samaritan showed him how it was possible to secure salvation; got him on his feet, got him on his beast, like the good Samaritan of old, and guided his face toward Zion. And this man said to me: "I have not drank a glass of liquor since." He is now leader of a young men's meeting in New York. I asked him to come up last Saturday night to Northfield, my native town, where there are a good many drunkards, thinking he might encourage them to seek salvation, he came, and brought a young man with him. They held a meeting, and it seemed as if the power of God rested upon that meeting when these two men went on telling what God had done for them - how He had destroyed the works of the devil in their hearts, and brought peace and unalloyed happiness to their souls. These grog shops here are the works of the devil - they are ruining men's souls every hour. Let us fight against them, and let our prayers go up in our battle, "Lord, manifest Thy power in Chicago this coming month." It may seem a very difficult thing for us, but it is a very easy thing for God to convert rum sellers.
A young man in New York got up and thrilled the meeting with his experience. "I want to tell you," he said, "that nine months ago a Christian came to my house and, said he, wanted me to become a Christian. He talked to me kindly and encouragingly, pointing out the error of my ways, and I became converted. I had been a hard drinker, but since that time I have not touched a drop of liquor. If any one had asked who the most hopeless man in that town was they would have pointed to me." Today this young man is the superintendent of a Sabbath school. Eleven years ago, when I went to Boston, I had a cousin who wanted a little of my experience. I gave him all the help I could, and he became a Christian. He did not know how near death was to him. He wrote to his brother and said: "I am very anxious to get your soul to Jesus." The letter somehow went to another city, and lay from the 28th of February to the 28th of March - just one month. He saw it was in his brother's handwriting, and tore it open and read the above words. It struck a chord in his heart, and was the means of converting him - And this was the Christian who led this drunken young man to Christ.
This young man had a neighbor who had drank for forty years, and he went to that neighbor and told him what God had done for him, and the result was another conversion.
I tell you these things to encourage You to believe that the drunkards and saloon keepers can be saved - There is work for you to do, and by and by the harvest shall be gathered, and what a scene will be on the shore when we hear the Master on the throne shout, "Well done! Well done!"
Let me say a word to you, mothers. We depend a good deal upon you. It seems to me that there is not a father and mother in all Chicago who should not be in sympathy with this work. You have daughters and sons, and if work is done now they will be able to steer clear of many temptations and will be able to lead better lives here. It seems to me selfishness if they sit down inactive and say, "There is no use in this. We are safe ourselves, what is the use of troubling?" If the mothers and fathers of the whole community would unite their prayers and send up appeals to God to manifest His power, in answer to them there would be mighty work.
I remember in Philadelphia we wanted to see certain results, and we called a meeting of mothers. There were from five to eight thousand mothers present, and each of them had a particular burden upon her heart. There was a mother who had a wayward daughter, another a reckless son, another a bad husband. We spoke to them confidently, and we bared our hearts to one another. They prayed for aid from the Lord, and that Grace might be shown to these sons and daughters and husbands, and the result was that our inquiry rooms were soon filled with anxious and earnest inquirers.
Let me tell you about a mother in Philadelphia. She had two wayward sons. They were wild, dissipated youths. They were to meet on a certain night and join in dissipation. The rendezvous was at the corner of Market and Thirteenth streets, where our meetings were held. One of the young men entered the large meeting, and when it was over went to the young men's meeting near at hand, and was quickened, and there prayed that the Lord might save him. His mother had gone to the meeting that night, and, arriving too late, found the door closed. When that young man went home he found his mother praying for him, and the two mingled their prayers together. While they were praying together the other brother came from the other meeting, and brought tidings of being converted, and at the next meeting the three got up and told their experience, and I never heard an audience so thrilled before or since.
Another incident. A wayward boy in London, whose mother was very anxious for his salvation, said to her, "I am not going to be bothered with your prayers any longer. I will go to America and be rid of them." "But, my boy," she said, "God is on the sea, and in America, and He hears my prayers for you." Well, he came to this country, and as they led into the port of New York some of the sailors told him that Moody and Sankey were holding meeting in the Hippodrome. The moment he landed he started for our place Of meeting, and there he found Christ. He became a most earnest worker, and he wrote to his mother and told her that her prayers had been answered; that he had been saved, and that he had found his mother's God.
Mothers and fathers, lift up your hearts in prayer, that there may be hundreds of thousands saved in this city.
When I was in London, there was one lady dressed in black up in the gallery. All the rest were Ministers. I wondered who that lady could be. At the close of the meeting I stepped up to her, and she asked me if I did not remember her. I did not, but she told me who she was, and her story came to my mind.
When we were preaching in Dundee, Scotland, a mother came up with her two sons, 16 and 17 years old. She said to me, "Will you talk to my boys?" I asked her if she would talk to the inquirers, and told her there were more inquirers than workers. She said she was not a good enough Christian - was not prepared enough. I told her I could not talk to her then. Next night she came to me and asked me again, and the following night she repeated her request. Five hundred miles she journeyed to get God's blessing for her boys. Would to God we had more mothers like her. She came to London, and the first night I was there, I saw her in the Agricultural Hall. She was accompanied by only one of her boys - the other had died. Towards the close of the meetings I received this letter from her:
"Dear Mr. Moody: For months I have never considered the day's work ended unless you and your work had been specially prayed for. Now it appears before us more and more. What in our little measure we have found has no doubt been the happy experience of many others in London, my husband and I have sought as our greatest privilege to take unconverted friends one by one to the Agricultural Hall, and I thank God that, with a single exception, those brought under the preaching from your lips have accepted Christ as their Savior, and are rejoicing in His love."
That lady was a lady of wealth and position. She lived a little way out of London; gave up her beautiful home and took lodgings near the Agricultural Hall, so as to be useful in the inquiry room. When we went down to the Opera House she was there; when we went down to the east end there she was again, and when I left London she had the names of 15O who had accepted Christ from her. Some said that our work in London was a failure. Ask her if the work was a failure, and she will tell you. If we had a thousand such mothers in Chicago we would lift it. Go and bring your friends, here to the meetings.
Think of the privilege, my friends of saving a soul, if we are going to work for good we must be up and about it. Men say, "I have not the time." Take it. Ten minutes every day for Christ will give you good wages. There is many a man who is working for you - Take them by the hand. Some of you with silver locks, I think I hear you saying, I wish I was young, how I would rush into the battle." Well, if you cannot be a fighter, you can pray and lead on the others. There are two kinds of old people in the world. One grows chilled and sour, and there are others who light up every meeting with their genial presence, and cheer on the workers. Draw near, old age, and cheer on the others, and take them by the hand and encourage them.
There was a building on fire. The flames leaped around the stair case, and from a three story window a little child was seen who cried for help. The only way to reach it was by a ladder. One was obtained and a fireman ascended, but when he had almost reached the child, the flames broke from the window and leaped around him. He faltered and seemed afraid to go further. Suddenly some one in the crowd shouted, and then a cheer went up. The man was nerved with new energy, and rescued the child. Just so our young men. Whenever you see them wavering, cheer them on. If you cannot work yourself, give them cheers to nerve them on in their glorious work. May the blessing of God fail upon us this afternoon, and let every man and woman be up and doing.
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." -Billy SUNDAY.