Sermon 850. Soul-winning
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"He that wins souls is wise."- Proverbs 11:30.
THE text does not say, "he that wins money is wise," though no doubt he thinks himself wise and perhaps, in a certain grovelingsense in these days of competition, he might be so. But such wisdom is of the earth, and ends with the earth. There is anotherworld where the currencies of Europe will not be accepted, nor their past possession be any sign of wealth or wisdom. Solomon,in the text before us, awards no crown for wisdom to crafty statesmen, or even to the ablest of rulers. He issues no diplomasto philosophers, poets, or men of wit. He crowns with laurels only those who win souls.
He does not declare that he who preaches is necessarily wise-and alas, there are multitudes who preach and gain much applauseand eminence-who win no souls and who shall find it go hard with them at the last, because in all probability they have runand the Master has never sent them. He does not say that he who talks about winning souls is wise, since to lay down rulesfor others is a very simple thing, but to carry them out is far more difficult. He who actually, really and truly turns menfrom the error of their ways to God, and so is made the means of saving them from going down to Hell is a wise man. And thatis true of him whatever his style of soul-winning may be. He may be a Paul, deeply logical, profound in doctrine, able tocommand all candid judgments-and if he thus win souls he is wise.
He may be an Apollos, grandly rhetorical, whose lofty genius soars into the very Heaven of eloquence-and if he wins soulsin that way he is wise, but not otherwise. Or he may be a Cephas, rough and rugged, using uncouth metaphor and stern declamation.But if he win souls he is no less wise than his polished brother or his argumentative friend. The great wisdom of soul-winners,according to the text, is proven only by their actual success in really winning souls. To their own Master they are accountablefor the ways in which they go to work, not to us.
Do not let us be comparing and contrasting this minister and that. Who are you that judges another man's servants? Wisdomis justified in all her children. Only children wrangle about incidental methods-men look at sublime results. Do these workersof many sorts and various manners win souls? Then they are wise! And you who criticize them, being yourselves unfruitful,cannot be wise, even though you affect to be their judges! God proclaims soul-winners to be wise, dispute it who dare! Thisdegree from the College of Heaven may surely stand them in good stead-let their fellow mortals say what they will of them."He that wins souls is wise," and this can be seen very clearly.
He must be a wise man in even ordinary respects who can, by Divine Grace, achieve so Divine a marvel. Great soul-winners havenever been fools. A man whom God qualifies to win souls could probably do anything else which Providence might allot him.Take Martin Luther! Why, Sirs, the man was not only fit to work a Reformation, but he could have ruled a nation or have commandedan army! Think of Whitefield and remember that the thundering eloquence which stirred all England was not associated witha weak judgment, or an absence of brain power-the man was a master orator, and if he had addicted himself to commerce, wouldhave taken a chief place among the merchants. Or had he been a politician, amid admiring senates he would have commanded thelistening ear.
He that wins souls is usually a man who could have done anything else if God had called him to it. I know the Lord uses whatmeans He wills, but He always uses means suitable to the end. And if you tell me that David slew Goliath with a sling, I answerit was the best weapon in the world to reach so tall a giant and the very fittest weapon that David could have used, for hehad been skilled in it from his youth up. There is always an adaptation in the instruments which God uses to produce the ordainedresult, and though the glory is not to them, nor the excellence in them-all is to be ascribed to God-yet is there a fitnessand preparedness which God sees, even if we do not. It is assuredly true that soul-winners are by no means idiots or simpletons,but such as God makes wise for Himself, though vainglorious wiseacres may dub them fools.
"He that wins souls is wise," because he has selected a wise object. I think it was Michelangelo who once carved certain magnificentstatues in snow. They are gone. The material readily compacted by the frost as readily melted in the heat. Far wiser was hewhen he fashioned the enduring marble and produced works which will last all down the ages. But even marble itself is consumedand fretted by the tooth of time! And he is wise who selects for his raw material immortal souls, whose existence shall outlastthe stars! If God shall bless us to the winning of souls, our work shall remain when the wood and hay and stubble of earth'sart and science shall have gone to the dust from which they sprang.
In Heaven itself, the soul-winner, blessed of God, shall have memorials of his work preserved forever in the galleries ofthe skies. He has selected a wise object, for what can be wiser than to glorify God and what, next to that, can be wiser thanin the highest sense to bless our fellow men-to snatch a soul from the gulf that yawns, to lift it up to the Heaven that glorifies-todeliver an immortal from the thralldom of Satan and to bring him into the liberty of Christ? What more excellent than this?I say, that such an aim would commend itself to all right minds and that angels themselves may envy us poor sons of men thatwe are permitted to make this our life-work, to win souls for Jesus Christ!
Wisdom herself assents to the excellence of the design. To accomplish such a work, a man must be wise, for to win a soul requiresinfinite wisdom. God Himself wins not souls without wisdom, for the eternal plan of salvation was dictated by an infalliblejudgment and in every line of it infinite skill is apparent. Christ, God's great Soul-Winner, is "the wisdom of God," as wellas "the power of God." There is as much wisdom to be seen in the new creation as in the old. In a saved sinner there is asmuch of God to be beheld as in a universe rising out of nothing! And we, then, who are to be workers together with God, proceedingside by side with Him to the great work of soul-winning, must be wise, too.
It is a work which filled a Savior's heart-a work which moved the Eternal mind before the earth was. It is no child's play,nor a thing to be achieved while we are half asleep, nor to be attempted without deep consideration, nor to be carried onwithout gracious help from the only-wise God, our Savior. The pursuit is wise. Mark you well, my Brethren, that he who issuccessful in soul-winning will prove to have been a wise man in the judgment of those who see the end as well as the beginning.
Even if I were utterly selfish and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, tobe a soul-winner, for never did I know perfect, overflowing, unutterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling ordertill I first heard of one who had sought and found a Savior through my means. I recollect the thrill of joy which went throughme! No young mother ever rejoiced so much over her first-born child-no warrior was so exultant over a hard-won victory. Oh,the joy of knowing that a sinner once at enmity has been reconciled to God, by the Holy Spirit, through the words spoken byour feeble lips!
Since then, by Divine Grace given to me, the thought of which prostrates me in self-abasement, I have seen and heard of, nothundreds only, but even thousands of sinners turned from the error of their ways by the testimony of God in me. Let afflictionscome! Let trials be multiplied as God wills, still this joy preponderates above all others-the joy that we are unto God asweet savor of Christ in every place-and that as often as we preach the Word, hearts are unlocked, bosoms heave with a newlife, eyes weep for sin and their tears are wiped away as they see the great Substitute for sin and live!
Beyond all controversy, it is a joy worth worlds to win souls and, thank God, it is a joy that does not cease with this mortallife. It must be no small bliss to hear, as one wings his flight up to the Eternal Throne, the wings of others flutteringat one's side towards the same Glory and turning round and questioning them, to hear them say, "We are entering with you throughthe gates of pearl-you brought us to the Savior." To be welcomed to the skies by those who call us father, in God-father inbetter bonds than those of earth-father through Grace and sire for immortality-it will be bliss beyond compare, to meet inyon eternal seats with those begotten of us in Christ Jesus, for whom we travailed in birth, till Christ was formed in themthe hope of Glory!
This is to have many heavens-a Heaven in everyone won for Christ, according to the Master's promise, "they that turn manyto righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever." I have said enough, Brethren, I trust, to make some of you desireto occupy the position of soul-winners. Now, before I further address myself to my text, I should like to remind you thatthe honor does not belong to ministers only. They may take their full share of it, but it belongs to every one of you whohave devoted yourselves to Christ! Such honor have all the saints! Every man here, every woman here, every child here whoseheart is right with God, may be a soul-winner!
There is no man placed by God's Providence where he cannot do some good. There is not a glowworm under a hedge but gives aneeded light. And there is not a laboring man, a suffering woman, a servant girl, a chimney sweeper, or a crossing sweeper,but what has opportunities for serving God. And what I have said of soul-winners belongs not to the learned doctor of divinity,or to the eloquent preacher, alone, but to you all who are in Christ Jesus! You can, each of you, if Divine Grace enablesyou. Therefore be wise and win the happiness of turning souls to Christ through the Holy Spirit.
I am about to dwell upon my text in this way-"He that wins souls is wise." I shall, first, make that fact stand out a littleclearer by explaining the metaphor used in the text-winning souls. And then, secondly, by giving you some lessons in the matterof soul-winning, through which, I trust, the conviction will be forced upon each believing mind that the work needs the highestwisdom.
I. First, LET US CONSIDER THE METAPHOR USED IN THE TEXT-"He that wins souls is wise." We use the word, "win," in many ways.It is sometimes found in very bad company, in those games of chance, juggling tricks and sleight-of-hand, or thimble-rigging(to use a plain word), which cheaters are so fond of winning by. I am sorry to say that much of legerdemain and trickery areto be met with in the religious world. Why, there are those who pretend to save souls by curious tricks, intricate maneuversand dexterous posture making. A basin of water, half-a-dozen drops, certain syllables-presto!-the infant is a child of Graceand becomes a member of Christ and an inheritor of the kingdom of Heaven!
This aqueous regeneration surpasses my belief! It is a trick which I do not understand! The initiated, only, can perform thisbeautiful piece of magic which excels anything ever attempted by the Wizard of the North! There is a way, too, of winningsouls by laying hands upon heads-only the elbows of aforesaid hands must be encased in flowing robes-and then the machineryacts and there is Grace conferred by blessed fingers! I must confess I do not understand the occult science, but at this Ineed not wonder, for the profession of saving souls by such juggling can only be carried out by certain favored persons whohave received Apostolic succession direct from Judas Iscariot.
This Episcopal confirmation, when men pretend that it confers Divine Grace, is an infamous piece of juggling. The whole thingis an abomination! Only to think that in this 19th century there should be men who preach up salvation by sacraments and salvationby themselves, indeed! Why, Sirs, it is surely too late in the day to come to us with this drivel! Priestcraft, let us hope,is a fossil and the sacramental theory out of date. These things might have done for those who could not read and for thedays when books were scarce!
But ever since the day when the glorious Luther was helped by God to proclaim with thunderclaps the emancipating Truth ofGod-"By Grace are you saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God"-there has been too much lightfor these Popish owls! Let them go back to their ivy-mantled towers and complain to the moon of those who spoiled of old theirkingdom of darkness. Let shaven crowns go to Bedlam, and scarlet hats to the scarlet harlot- but let not Englishmen yieldthem respect.
Modern Tractarianism is a bastard Popery-too mean, too shifty, too double-dealing-to delude men of honest minds. If we winsouls it shall be by other arts than Jesuits and idiots can teach us. Trust not in any man who pretends to priesthood. Priestsare liars by trade and deceivers by profession. We cannot save souls in their theatrical way and do not want to do so, forwe know that with such jugglery as that, Satan will hold the best hand and laugh at priests as he turns the cards againstthem at the last.
How do we win souls, then? Why, the word, "win," has a far better meaning. It is used in warfare. Warriors win cities andprovinces. Now, to win a soul is a much more difficult thing than to win a city! Observe the earnest soul-winner at his work.How cautiously he seeks his great Captain's directions to know when to hang out the white flag to invite the heart to surrenderto the sweet love of a dying Savior. When, at the proper time, to hang out the black flag of threat, showing that if DivineGrace is not received, judgment will surely follow. And when to unfurl, with dread reluctance, the red flag of the terrorsof God against stubborn, impenitent souls.
The soul-winner has to sit down before a soul as a great captain before a walled town. He has to draw his lines of circumvallation,to cast up his entrenchments and fix his batteries. He must not advance too fast-he may overdo the fighting. He must not movetoo slowly, for he may seem not to be in earnest and may do mischief. Then he must know which gate to attack-how to planthis guns at Ear-Gate and how to discharge them. He has to know how, sometimes,
to keep the batteries going, day and night, with red-hot shot. He has to know when and if, perhaps, he may make a breach inthe walls.
At other times he may have to lay by and cease. And then, on a moment's notice, to open all the batteries with terrific violence,if perhaps he may take the soul by surprise or cast in a Truth of God when it was not expected, to burst like a shell in thesoul and do damage to the dominions of sin. The Christian soldier must know how to advance by little and little-to sap thatprejudice, to undermine that old enmity, to blow into the air that lust-and at the last to storm the citadel. It is his tothrow the scaling ladder up and to have his ears gladdened as he hears a clicking on the wall of the heart, telling that thescaling ladder has grasped and has gained a firm hold! And then, with his saber between his teeth, he climbs up and springson the man! He slays his unbelief in the name of God and captures the city and runs up the blood-red flag of the Cross ofChrist! Then he can say, "The heart is won, won for Christ at last!"
This needs a warrior well trained-a master in his art. After many days' attack, many weeks of waiting, many an hour of stormingby prayer and battering by entreaty to carry the Malakoff of depravity-this is the work-this the difficulty. It takes no foolto do this! God's Grace must make a man wise to capture Mansoul, to lead its captivity captive and open wide the heart's gatesthat the Prince Immanuel may come in. This is winning a soul!
The word, "win," was commonly used among the ancients, to signify winning in the wrestling match. When the Greek sought towin the laurel, or the ivy crown, he was compelled a long time before to put himself through a course of training. And whenhe came forth at last, stripped for the encounter, he had no sooner exercised himself in the first few efforts than you sawhow every muscle and every nerve had been developed in him. He had a stern opponent, and he knew it, and therefore left noneof his energy unused.
While the wrestling was going on you could see the man's eyes, how he watched every motion, every feint of his antagonistand how his hands, his feet and his whole body were thrown into the encounter. He feared to meet with a fall-he hoped to giveone to his foe. Now, a true soul-winner has often to come to close quarters with the devil within men. He has to strugglewith their prejudice, with their love of sin, with their unbelief, with their pride. And then again, all of a sudden, to grapplewith their despair. At one moment he strives with their self-righteousness, at the next moment with their unbelief in God.Ten thousand arts are used to prevent the soul-winner from being conqueror in the encounter, but if God has sent him, he willnever renounce his hold of the soul he seeks till he has given a throw to the power of sin and won another soul for Christ!
Besides that, there is another meaning to the word, "win," upon which I cannot go into too much detail here. We use the word,you know, in a softer sense than these which have been mentioned, when we come to deal with hearts. There are secret and mysteriousways by which those who love win the object of their affection, which are wise in their fitness to the purpose. I cannot tellyou how the lover wins his fond one, but experience has probably taught you. The weapon of this warfare is not always thesame, yet where that victory is won the wisdom of the means becomes clear to every eye. The weapon of love is sometimes alook, or a soft word whispered and eagerly listened to. Sometimes it is a tear. But this I know, that we have, most of usin our turn, cast around another heart a chain which that other would not care to break and which has linked us together ina blessed captivity which has cheered our life.
Yes, and that is very nearly the way in which we have to win souls. That illustration is nearer the mark than any of the others.Love is the true way of soul-winning, for when I spoke of storming the walls and when I spoke of wrestling, those were butmetaphors, but this is near the fact. We win by love. We win hearts for Jesus by love, by sympathy with their sorrow, by anxietylest they should perish, by pleading with God for them with all our hearts that they should not be left to die unsaved. Wewin hearts for Jesus by pleading with them for God that, for their own sake, they would seek mercy and find Divine Grace.Yes, Sirs, there is a spiritual wooing and winning of hearts for the Lord Jesus! And if you would learn the way, you mustask God to give you a tender heart and a sympathizing soul.
I believe that much of the secret of soul-winning lies in having hearts of compassion, in having spirits that can be touchedwith the feeling of human infirmities. Carve a preacher out of granite and even if you give him an angel's tongue, he willconvert nobody. Put him into the most fashionable pulpit. Make his elocution faultless and his matter profoundly orthodox,but so long as he bears within his bosom a hard heart he can never win a soul. Soul-winning requires a heart that beats hardagainst the ribs. It requires a soul full of the milk of human kindness. This is the sine qua non of success. This is thechief natural qualification for a soul-winner, which, under God and blessed of Him, will accomplish wonders.
I have not looked at the Hebrew of the text, but I find-and you will find who have margins to your Bibles-that it is, "Hethat takes souls is wise," which word refers to fishing, or to bird catching. Every Sunday when I leave my house, I cannothelp seeing as I come along, men with their little cages and their stuffed birds, trying all around the common and in thefields, to catch poor little warblers. They understand the method of alluring and entrapping their little victims. Soul-winnersmight learn much from them. We must have our lures for souls adapted to attract, to fascinate, to grasp. We must go forthwith our birdlime, our decoys, our nets, our baits, so that we may but catch the souls of men.
Their enemy is a fowler possessed of the basest and most astounding cunning. We must outwit him with the guile of honesty,the craft of Grace. But the art is to be learned only by Divine teaching and herein we must be wise and willing to learn.The man who takes fish must also have some art in him. Washington Irving, I think it is, tells us of some three gentlemenwho had read in Izaak Walton all about the delights of fishing. So they entered upon the same amusement and accordingly theybecame disciples of the gentle art.
They went into New York and bought the best rods and lines that could be purchased. They found out the exact fly for the particularday or month so that the fish might bite at once and, as it were, fly into the basket with cheerful accuracy! They fishedand fished and fished the whole day but the basket was empty. They were getting disgusted with a sport that had no sport init, when a ragged boy came down from the hills without shoes or stockings and humiliated them to the last degree. He had abit of a bough pulled from off a tree and a piece of string and a bent pin. He put a worm on it, threw it in and out camea fish directly, as if it were a needle drawn to a magnet! In again went the line and out came another fish and so on, tillhis basket was quite full.
They asked him how he did it. Ah, he said, he could not tell them that, but it was easy enough when you had the way of it.Much the same is it in fishing for men. Some preachers who have silk lines and fine rods, preach very eloquently and exceedinglygracefully, but they never win souls. I know not how it is, but another man comes with very simple language, but with a warmheart and, straightway, men are converted to God. Surely there must be a sympathy between the minister and the souls he wouldwin! God gives to those whom He makes soul-winners a natural love to their work and a spiritual fitness for it. There is asympathy between those who are to be blessed and those who are to be the means of blessing and very much by this sympathy,under God, souls are taken. But it is as clear as noonday-to be a fisher of men a man must be wise. "He that wins souls iswise."
II. And now, Brothers and Sisters, you who are engaged in the Lord's work from week to week and who seek to win
men's souls to Christ, I am, in the second place, to illustrate this BY TELLING YOU OF SOME OF THE WAYS BY
WHICH SOULS ARE TO BE WON. The preacher himself wins souls, I believe, best, when he believes in the reality of his work-whenhe believes in instantaneous conversions! How can he expect God to do what he does not believe God will do? He succeeds bestwho expects conversion every time he preaches. According to his faith so shall it be done unto him.
To be content without conversions is the surest way never to have them. To drive with a single aim entirely at the savingof souls is the sure method of usefulness. If we sigh and cry till men are saved, saved they will be! He will succeed bestwho keeps closest to soul-saving Truth. Now, all the Truth of God is not soul-saving, though all Truth may be edifying. Hethat keeps to the simple story of the Cross-tells men over and over again that whoever believes in Christ is not condemned-thatto be saved nothing is needed but a simple trust in the crucified Redeemer. He whose ministry is much made up of the gloriousstory of the Cross, the sufferings of the dying Lamb, the mercy of God, the willingness of the great Father to receive returningprodigals.
He who cries, in fact, from day to day, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world"-he is likely to bea soul-winner-especially if he adds to this much prayer for souls, much anxious desire that men may be brought to Jesus, andthen, in his private life seeks as much as in his public ministry to be telling out to others of the love of the dear Saviorof men.
But I am not talking to ministers, but to you who sit in the pew, and therefore to you let me turn myself more directly. Brothersand Sisters, you have different gifts. I hope you use them all. Perhaps some of you, though members of the Church, think youhave none. But every Believer has his gift and his portion of work. What can you do to win souls? Let me recommend to thosewho think they can do nothing, the bringing of others to hear the Word of God. That is a duty much neglected. I can hardlyask you to bring anybody here, because many of you attend other places which are not
perhaps half-filled. Fill them! Do not grumble at the small congregation, but make it larger! Take somebody with you to thevery next sermon and at once the congregation will be increased.
Go up with the prayer that your minister's sermon may be blessed, and if you cannot preach yourselves, yet, by bringing othersunder the sound of the Word, you may be doing what is next best. This is a very commonplace and simple remark, but let mepress it upon you, for it is of great practical value. Many Churches and Chapels which are almost empty, might soon have largeaudiences if those who profit by the Word would tell others about the profit they have received, and induce them to attendthe same ministry. Especially in this London of ours, where so many will not go up to the House of God-persuade your neighborsto come forth to the place of worship. Look after them. Make them feel that it is a wrong thing to stay at home on Sundayfrom morning till night.
I do not say upbraid them, that does little good. But I do say entice them, persuade them. Let them have your tickets forthe Tabernacle, for instance, sometimes, or stand in the aisles, yourself, and let them have your seat. Get them under theWord and who knows what may be the result? Oh, what a blessing it would be to you if you heard that what you could not do,for you could scarcely speak for Christ, was done by your pastor, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through your inducing oneto come within gunshot of the Gospel! Next to that, Soul-Winners, the preacher may have missed the mark-you need not missit. Or the preacher may have struck the mark and you can help to make the impression deeper by a kind word.
I recollect several persons joining this Church who traced their conversion to the ministry in the Surrey Music Hall, butwho said it was not that, alone, but another agency cooperating with it. They were fresh from the country and some good man,I knew him well, I think he is in Heaven now, met two of them at the gate, spoke to them, said he hoped they had enjoyed whatthey had heard. He heard their answer, asked them if they were coming in the evening. He said he would be glad if they woulddrop into his house to tea. They did, and he had a word with them about the Master. The next Sunday it was the same and atlast, those whom the sermons had not much impressed, were brought to hear with other ears, till by-and-by, through the goodold man's persuasive words and the good Lord's gracious work, they were converted to God!
There is a fine hunting ground here and, indeed, in every large congregation for you who really want to do good. How manycome into this House every morning and evening with no thought about receiving Christ. Oh, if you would all help me, you wholove the Master-if you would all help me by speaking to your neighbors who sit near you-how much might be accomplished! Neverlet anybody say, "I came to the Tabernacle three months and nobody spoke to me." But do, by a sweet familiarity, which oughtalways to be allowable in the House of God, seek with your whole heart to impress upon your friends the Truth of God whichI can only put into the ear, but which God may help you to put into the heart!
Further, let me commend to you, dear friends, the art of button-holing acquaintances and relatives. If you cannot preach toa 100, preach to one! Get a hold of the man, alone, and in love, quietly and prayerfully, talk to him. "One!" you say. Well,is not one enough? I know your ambition, young man-you want to preach here, to these thousands. Be content and begin withthe ones. Your Master was not ashamed to sit on the well and preach to one! And when He had finished His sermon He had reallydone good to all the city of Samaria, for that one woman became a missionary to her friends. Timidity often prevents our beinguseful in this direction, but we must not give way to it. It must not be tolerated that Christ should be unknown through oursilence and sinners unwarned through our negligence!
We must school and train ourselves to deal personally with the unconverted. We must not excuse ourselves, but force ourselvesto the irksome task till it becomes easy. This is one of the most honorable modes of soul-winning and if it requires morethan ordinary zeal and courage, so much the more reason for our resolving to master it. Beloved, we must win souls! We cannotlive and see men damned! We must have them brought to Jesus. Oh, then, be up and doing and let none around you die unwarned,unwept, uncured for! A tract is a useful thing, but a living word is better. Your eyes and face and voice will all help. Donot be so cowardly as to give a piece of paper where your own speech would be so much better. I charge you, attend to this,for Jesus' sake.
Some of you could write letters for your Lord and Master. To far-off friends a few loving lines may be most influential forgood. Be like the men of Issachar who handled the pen. Paper and ink are never better used than in soul-winning. Much hasbeen done by this method. Could you not do it? Will you not try? Some of you, at any rate, if you could not
speak or write much, could live much. That is a fine way of preaching-that of preaching with your feet-I mean preaching byyour life and conduct and conversation! That loving wife who weeps in secret over an infidel husband, but is always so kindto him. That dear child whose heart is broken with a father's blasphemy, but is so much more obedient than he used to be beforeconversion! That servant whom the master swears at, but whom he could trust with his purse and the gold uncounted in it! Thatman in trade who is sneered at as a Presbyterian, but who, nevertheless, is straight as a line and would not be compelledto do a dirty action, no, not for all the mint!
These are the men and women who preach the best sermons! These are your practical preachers! Give us your holy living andwith your holy living as the leverage, we will move the world! Under God's blessing we will find tongues, if we can, but weneed greatly the lives of our people to illustrate what our tongues have to say. The Gospel is something like an illustratedpaper. The preacher's words are the print, but the pictures are the living men and women who form our Churches. And as whenpeople take up such a newspaper, they very often do not read the print, but they always look at the pictures-so in a Church,outsiders may not come to hear the preacher-but they always consider, observe and criticize the lives of the members. If youwould be soul-winners, then, dear Brothers and Sisters, see that you live the Gospel! I have no greater joy than this, thatmy children walk in the Truth of God.
One thing more, the soul-winner must be a master of the art ofprayer. You cannot bring souls to God if you go not to God yourself.You must get your battle-ax and your weapons of war from the armory of sacred communion with Christ. If you are much alonewith Jesus, you will catch His Spirit. You will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast and consumed His life. Youwill weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing. And if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did,yet shall there be in what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences ofmen.
My dear Hearers, especially you members of this Church, I am always so anxious lest any of you should begin to lie upon youroars and take things easy in the matters of God's kingdom. There are some of you-I bless you and I bless God at the remembranceof you-who are in season and out of season, in earnest for winning souls and you are the truly wise. But I fear there areothers whose hands are slack, who are satisfied to let me preach, but do not preach themselves. There are some who take theseseats and occupy these pews and hope the cause goes well, but that is all they do. Oh, let me see you all in earnest!
A great host of 4,000 members-for that is now as nearly as possible the accurate counting of our numbers-what could we notdo if we were all alive and all in earnest? But such a host, without the spirit of enthusiasm, becomes a mere mob, an unwieldymass out of which mischief grows and no good results arise. If you were all firebrands for Christ, you might set the nationon a blaze! If you were all wells of living water, how many thirsty souls might drink and be refreshed! One thing more youcan do. If some of you feel you cannot do much personally, you can always help the College and there it is that we find tonguesfor the dumb. Our young men are called out by God to preach. We give them some little education and training and then awaythey go to Australia, to Canada, to the islands of the sea, to Scotland, to Wales and throughout England, preaching the Word!
And it is often, it must be often, a consolation to some of you, to think that if you have not spoken with your own tonguesas you could desire, you have at least spoken by the tongues of others, so that through you the Word of God has been soundedabroad throughout all this region. Beloved, there is one question I will ask and I have done and that is, Are your own soulswon? You cannot win others if they are not. Are you yourselves saved? My Hearers, every one of you under that gallery, there.And you behind here, are you, yourselves, saved? What if this night you should have to answer that question to another andgreater than I am? What if the bony finger of the last great orator should be uplifted instead of mine?
What if his unconquerable eloquence should turn those bones to stone and glaze those eyes and make the blood chill in yourveins? Could you hope, in your last extremity, that you were saved? If not saved, how will you ever be? When will you be savedif not now? Will any time be better than now? The way to be saved is simply to trust in what the Son of Man did when He becameMan and suffered the punishment for all those who trust Him. For all His people, Christ was a Substitute. His people are thosewho trust Him. If you trust Him, He was punished for your sins! And you cannot be punished for them, for God cannot punishsin twice-first in Christ and then in you! If you trust Jesus, who now lives at the right hand of God, you are this momentpardoned and you shall forever be saved.
that you would trust Him now! Perhaps it may be now or never with you. May it be now, even now! And then, trusting in Jesus,dear Friends, you will have no need to hesitate when the question is asked, "Are you saved?" for you can answer, "Yes, thatI am, for it is written, 'He that believes in Him is not condemned.'" Trust Him, then! Trust Him now and then God help youto be a soul-winner and you shall be wise and God shall be glorified.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 51.