And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. - Psalms 39:7.
Sam P. Jones: I WOULD get very close to every person in this congregation to-night. I would talk face to face with you, and I would have my heart pulsate against your heart. I know that Christ is all the world to me, and I believe his glory I shall see, and I'd rather lie down and die than leave my Savior. Christ is precious to many hearts in this house and in this city. Christ has blessed thousands of the blood-washed throng that have gone home to heaven from this city. The multitude in this city that are in the straight and narrow path to-night rejoice in the Savior's love.
A COMMON SALVATION.
|Heaven, Hell and Sam Jones|
|In this sermon, Sam Jones presents the conventional, medieval view of human destiny as "going to eternal bliss with God in heaven" or "going to eternal torment by the Devil in hell". Though the New Testament teaching on heaven and hell differs, Sam's message is just as powerful.|
I have found out that we are all of one blood. What is good for one of us is good for all of us. Anything that will help me will help you. Anything that will make me a better father will make you a better father. Anything that will make my wife a better mother will make your wife a better mother. Anything that will make my children good and cheerful and sweet, will make your children good and cheerful and sweet. Oh, precious Savior! Show us that thy grace and peace can make a world happy and joyous and good.
Will you listen, and as I preach to-night, will you think as I talk? I would have you do this in your mind; talk back at me just as you would if we sat in your parlor face to face and carried on a conversation. Now, as I talk, you answer me immediately. You think answers, as I talk to questions as we proceed. Let us get close to each other; let us talk, for very soon these tongues are going to be silent, and these ears will hear no more in this world. Let us use our ears and our tongues to glorify God to-night and to get better.
WAITING TO CONSIDER.
What wait I for? My hope is in God.
Well, now, friends, I will come down on your side of the question, and will talk on that side a while.
That man sitting back there, he is attentive and thoughtful, and when we press this question upon him he says: "I tell you what I am waiting for. I am waiting for time to consider this question. This is a momentous question. It is the most weighty question of time and eternity, and I don't want to be hurried into a thing of so much importance. I want time to consider this great question. All intelligent action is based upon wise, careful, intelligent thought. Don't hurry me in this great matter."
"Want time to consider." "I am waiting to consider this question."
Listen to me a moment, friend. Do you want time to consider whether you'd rather be good than be bad? Do you want time to consider whether you'd rather go to heaven than go to hell? Do you want time to consider whether it is better to do right than it is to do wrong? Do you want time to consider whether it is better to set a good example to your home or to set a bad example? Do you want time to consider questions like that?
COULD BE QUICKLY DECIDED.
How long ought it to take a sensible man to decide the question whether he would rather go to heaven than go to hell? Whether it was better to do right than to do wrong? Whether it was better to love God and keep his commandments, or to love the wrong and serve the devil? How much time does a sensible, wise man want on a question like that? Why, brother, you can answer it in the twinkling of an eye. I never saw a moment in my life, but what, if you would bring my mind with all its powers to bear upon those questions for fifteen seconds, for ten seconds, for five seconds, I could decide it.
Really, friend, you sit back there to-night wanting time to consider a question that some of you settled twenty years ago. There are men in this house to-night that settled that question twenty-five years ago. "It is right to do right, and I ought to do right; it is wrong to do wrong, and I ought not to do it; I'd rather go to heaven than go to hell." Why, friend, consider. You are talking for time to consider a question that you have settled ten years ago, twenty years ago, thirty years ago, some of you. Oh, gray-headed father, out of the church, forty years ago you settled the question that right is right, and you ought to do it, that wrong is wrong, and you ought not to do it. "I'd rather be good than to be bad." Then, my friend, what wait you for? You certainly don't want time to consider this question.
WANT TO DO IT DELIBERATELY.
"Oh, when I make up my mind about this I want it done deliberately, carefully, prayerfully. I don't want any excitement about it." I notice this much: Whenever any worldly influence wants to carry its point they get up an excitement. Why, I can take Gilmore's Band and get up a bigger stir in this town than all the sermons that are preached in any church any Sunday. You say, why? It enthuses the people. How it stirs the people! I am ashamed of myself as a minister that I cannot stir the people to deeper enthusiasm than Gilmore's Band can do. These, with a few instruments as they blow their breath into them, and the tinkling [=clanging] cymbals, arouse people and enthuse people more than any gospel sermon I can preach. Brethren, I am ashamed of myself, or I am ashamed of my [human] race - one or both.
Enthusiasm! Without enthusiasm a man is already half dead; and if there is anything that ought to arouse excitement and enthusiasm it is the great question of eternity; and the only use I'd have for enthusiasm anyway is to make you do the thing that is right for you to do.
There's many a log adrift, floating way out on the ocean; but when the spring tide, with its fearful breezes and its in-flowing waters, shall sweep out and out, there's many a log swept out high and dry that would never come out but for those brisk breezes and those rising tides. Lord God, send us such a heavenward tide to-night as will sweep us out to the kingdom of God - and sweep us in spite of ourselves; for if some of us will ever be saved at all, we must be saved in spite of ourselves.
"I am waiting for time to consider this thing, and as soon as I consider it long enough I am going to decide it."
SHOULD ACT ON HIS DECISION.
Now, my friend, let me say to you at this point: You have already considered it; and all the preachers wait for, and all the angels wait for, and God waits for, and heaven and earth wait for, is for you to act on your decision. You have already decided it is right to do right, and wrong to do wrong; and the decision does not amount to that [fillipping, "a snap"], until the man says: "I will act on my decision." I might decide to go home, but I'd die right here in the corporate limits of this city unless I acted on my decision, and took a train and went. Don't you see? And, then, I don't consider a question decided in any sense at all until it is decided in the sense that I act upon my decision. And I speak it reverently, my brethren of the ministry, and my brethren in Christ, tonight; I speak it reverently; but God himself can't help a man to be good until the man decides and starts out on his decision. My theology is this - I haven't got much, but I have got enough, thank God, to keep me straight if I keep up with it - and that is this:
SAM JONES' THEOLOGY.
God Almighty cannot make any man a good man, and the devil cannot make him bad. God can help folks to be good, and the devil can help them to be bad, too. If God could arbitrarily make anybody good, he would make them good, because he wishes us all to be good; and if the devil could arbitrarily make anybody bad, we would all be bad, because he wants us all to be bad; and if you want to be good the Lord will help you, and if you want to be bad the devil will help you. Now - I speak it reverently - God won't help a man to be good unless the man decides to be good.
A PLAIN APPLICATION.
Let us take a common sense view of this subject. Here is a father and he has a son, and he wants to make a farmer out of that boy. What will he do now? Well, he goes out here ten miles, buys a thousand acres of land and stocks the farm, employs hands, furnishes the house, and says, "Son, now Sir, there is the plantation and it is stocked, and there are your hands; now go ahead to farm it." The boy, spending every day in the week in St. Louis here in the saloons, spending all his time here in the city, has never been out on the farm and never intends to go. That father is making a farmer out of him with a vengeance - isn't he? How will a man make a farmer out of his boy by buying some land and buying some stock, when that boy won't go to it, won't look at it, and won't touch it?
Here is a father going to make a lawyer out of his boy. He buys every law book extant, and builds an office, and puts all the best law books in the office, and locks it, and gives the boy the key and says: " Son, I'm going to make a lawyer out of you. I have built that office and have stocked it with law books for your use." And the boy puts the key in his pocket, and twelve months have passed, and he hasn't been in that office one day, and be hasn't looked in a law book. He is making a lawyer out of his boy! And if a father cannot make a lawyer out of his boy until he has decided to become a lawyer, how can he help him! If he cannot make a farmer out of his boy until he has decided to become a farmer, how can he help him? If God cannot make a man good until he has decided to be good, how can he help him? Now, I won't say how much God has to do in helping you to decide it, but it is a common-sense declaration that God helps no man to be good until he decides to be good.
And I tell you another thing: Whenever a man chooses to be good - God throws the deciding point on a man's will - "whosoever will" (Rev. 22:17) - you choose this day and say, "I will choose to be good" - then you can command the resources of God's omnipotence and love; but until you decide to be good, God himself cannot help you to be good. That is common-sense theology. And I do believe you can mix common-sense and religion, and I do believe that when you mix them it is the best compound you ever looked at - common-sense and religion mixed up in equal parts - and then you have a man that loves God and humanity. And God says, "Whosoever will." He throws it on your will; and says, "Whatsoever you choose" (Deut. 30:19). He tells you to choose; and when you do choose he throws his omnipotence to help you, and decides the question. And until you decide it, there is no use discussing the question at all.
WAITING FOR BETTER TERMS.
But the man says, "Well, really, I am not waiting for time to decide this. There is no use discussing that. I am waiting for better terms. I tell you, the terms, the conditions of salvation, are pretty tough where a man has to give up everything."
Well, a man has to give up mighty little and he get a great deal - I tell you that much. And here is one thing about religion. A man waiting for terms! I am so glad the terms are just what they are. I am very glad the good Lord will never take any man into his kingdom until that man decides to "cease to do evil and learn to do well" (Isa. 1:16). Suppose the Lord had said to me when I was seeking religion, "You needn't give up drinking. You can be my child and just drink on." I would be in a drunkard's grave this moment if he had said that. I am so glad I threw down the cup and told my Lord, "I have taken my last drink."
SOMETHING TO BE GLAD OF.
I am so glad that God Almighty don't take a man into the kingdom until the man has quit everything that could disgrace him in time, or harm him in time, or damn him in eternity. I am not going to stand here and say that some things were not hard for me to give up; but I will stand here and say this much: I have heard some people talk about sacrifices. Blessed Christ! Blessed Saviour! I have never made a sacrifice to Thee, and to-day I stand here with the consciousness and utter it, there is no cross for me now. I used to sing-
Simply to the cross I cling -
I have sung that many a time, and I thank God for the privilege of singing it; but my song all the day now is:
Safe in the arms of Jesus.
It is a prostrate, it is a recumbent, it is a resting posture.
A SMALL SACRIFICE.
Sacrifice! Fourteen years ago  I emptied a whole lot of dirt out of my pockets and God filled them up with diamonds, and shall I go around here saying: "I had to give away a whole lot of dirt to get a pocket-full of diamonds." Isn't that a nice thing to give up? Talk about sacrifice! Well, I gave up dancing, God being my judge, I gave it up; I gave up dram [whiskey] drinking, I gave up profanity, I gave up everything that my preacher said was wrong, and I tell you what: I have in place of it joy and peace in this world, and bright everlasting peace in the world to come.
Why, suppose I danced on and drank on and enjoyed the world, and then, as I walked through the lurid flames of damnation with some poor, lost fellow like myself, he and I locked arms and said, "Well, I could have got to heaven, but I could not give up dancing. I am here in hell forever, but I tell you I danced with more pretty girls and drank more champagne and had more fun than any fellow you ever saw in your life. Clear the pit."
If some of you ain't going to do something better than you are doing, that's where you're going, and you might just as well cut your patching on that line, and just enjoy this world all you can - that's my candid advice. If I hadn't made up my mind to give myself to God and go to heaven at any cost, I would have all the fun there is in this world. I would that.
"I am waiting for better terms. I am waiting till God lets the terms down, so I can curse a little when I get mad, or drink a little at Christmas, or when I go fishing, or have a good time in the parlors. I want to drink a little. I want the terms to come down some; it's up too high."
Oh, foolish thing!
DON'T LIKE A NO-FENCE LAW IN RELIGION.
I like this no-fence law they have down in Georgia. Every man has to keep up his stock, and the planters turn out at their own risk. I like that when it comes to physical agriculture; but, Lord bless you, when it comes to religion, no no-fence law for me. I want God Almighty to make the kingdom of heaven with a ten-rail fence, stake and rider, all around. I want the devil's goats fenced out; I don't want them turned loose with us. I say to every man: "If you,don't want to get up where you can get into the kingdom of God, you stay out."
God knows I would not lower the standard one-half inch. I would not. I have to deny myself and struggle to the top of yonder hill, but, blessed be God, when I have struggled on and pulled on - and I have pulled loads that would break me down - and I have fallen down the shafts many a time panting for breath, with shoulders all sore, and I have told God I could not pull another inch - "My God, I am broken down" - the good Lord would come and pour his grace into my soul and the water of life all over me, and then tell me, "Get up now and I will push for you;" and the Lord God has pushed me up some of the steepest places on my route to that hill of glory.
THE VALUE OF DENIAL.
And, brothers, I have got to deny myself and take up my cross to get to heaven, and when I do get to heaven I am going to be badly disappointed if it ain't a grand old heaven. I will see enough in heaven the first hour I am there to pay for every suffering and for all the sacrifices I have made and everything I have ever given up.
Waiting for better terms! Well now, there are churches in this country that will take you on most any terms - I don't say God will - there are churches here that will take you most anyway. And that is consistent to-day with the attitude of this world. Sort of like the woman praying for a husband,and the owl shouting back or whispering and hooting back, and she thought it was the Lord asking her, "Who?" And she said, "Just anybody, Lord! Anybody."
And there is many a church now standing with its arms stretched out, saying, "Give us anybody; give us anybody!"
THE LORD HELP US.
Lord help us preachers who claim to be religious and proclaim the gospel of Christ. God help us to protect the kingdom of Christ, and say, "Unless you deny yourself and take up your cross (Matt. 16:24), then we can't take you and compromise the religion of Christ."
God help me! If I am a Baptist, I will be one all over. If I am a Methodist, I will be one all over. If I am a Christian [Church of Christ], I will be one all over. If I am a Presbyterian, I will be one all over - I will be as loyal to my Church as angels are to God. I will be what I profess to be and what my religion demands I should be. That's it.
A DOORWAY FOR SIMPLE SOULS.
"I am waiting until they will take a fellow that is just about half-way ready. That is what I am waiting for." Now, if you are in earnest about that, you can go in. I don't think the Lord will be hard on you. There is aside door to heaven, I have heard, where idiots and infants get in, and I think maybe they will motion you around to that side door and let you in there.
Another one said: "Well, I am not waiting for better terms. The Lord knows I want to be a good Christian. If ever I start at all I want to be a good one. I do not want to be one of those hypocrites in the Church. I want to be a grand Christian in the Church;" - and they are not anything there.
WAITING FOR THE CHURCH TO GET RIGHT.
Another one says: "I am not waiting for time to consider the question, and I am not waiting for better terms, but I tell you what I am waiting for - I am waiting for the Church to get right."
And that is the biggest fool in the lot, when you get right down to him. I tell him, "You will be in hell a million years before the Church will be right." And it will be a great consolation to him after being a million years in hell to know that the Church has got right at last, won't it?
"Waiting for the Church to get right! Brother, what have you and I got to do with the Church? I used to stand on the outside and say, "Well, I am as good as this one in the church, and that one in the Church." But I tell you I always picked out some little, old, lame, wrinkled case that was not much.
A DISGUSTING SIGHT.
And if there is a disgusting sight in this world to me it is to see a man calling himself a gentleman out in the world, who will go out and drag one of those little, old, lame dwarfs out into the road, and stretch him out in the road and lay himself by his side, and say, "I am going to measure this fellow and show you that I am as long as he is." And after he has laid down and measured himself with the little thing he jumps up and says, "I am just the same length as this fellow in the Church." Let me ask you, "Why didn't you get a first-class Christian, and measure with him?" You take a first-class Christian and lay him down there, and then, brother, you lie down beside him and see how you look. You would look like a rat terrier lying by an elephant.
And the fact of the business is we have got some sorry members, and we got them from your side, and we were never able to do anything with them, and you can take them back when you want them. And we tell you right here that you are welcome to them. And the reason we have never been able to do anything with them is because they are so much like you. And is it not strange that you should put a few of your sort off on us, and then make it a reason that you won't come up and live right? Lord have mercy on us! That is the schedule we are running. There is not a lowdown member of the Church we don't get from your side, and the reason they are not good members is because they are just like they were when we got them. We have never been able to improve them because they would not let us improve them.
WAITING FOR FEELING.
Another says: "I am not waiting for the Church to get ready. The Lord knows the Church is too good for me like it is. I will tell you what I am waiting for. I am waiting for feeling. Now, as soon as I have feeling, then I tell you right plainly I am going to move."
As soon as I get feeling! I told you about a fellow who stood in a wood with his back against a tree one cold, frosty morning, and with his ax resting against his knee. I walked up to him and said: "Friend, good morning."
"Good morning," he returned.
"What are you going to do?" I asked.
He said: "I am going to cut down this tree."
"Wy don't you get at it?" I said.
"I am waiting until I begin to sweat." he said.
I asked again: "Waiting until you begin to sweat?"
"Why don't you get up and go to cutting, and you will begin to sweat."
"No." he said, "I'm not going to cut a lick until I begin to sweat."
What are you going to do with a case like that?
"I am waiting for feeling;" and people think, "Well, if I do a thing that I do not feel like doing, I am a hypocrite." That is the way they talk. Look here, doctor: When you were sent for the other night at midnight, you had been up a great deal and had lost a great deal of sleep, and when the summons came you got up and rubbed your eyes and said: "Wife, I declare I don't feel like going." But you got out of bed, dressed yourself and relieved the patient.
Were you a hypocrite? You did not feel like going, but you went like a true man and did your duty. Were you a hypocrite?
Sister, when you get up in the morning you do not feel like getting up, much less like proceeding to the table to attend to your household duties; but just as the time came for you to rise, you got up and went at them. Were you a hypocrite when you got up and went to work, when you did not feel like it?
Look here, why cannot we have just as much sense in religious matters as in all other matters? That is the way to talk.
A fellow running on feeling reminds me of a man who had just returned from Nashville. A neighbor called to see him and asked:
"Did you have a nice trip?"
"Yes," was the reply, "we made quick time. We had a pleasant trip, but when only about ten miles this side of Nashville, I turned deathly sick and had to raise the window of the car."
"And you were sick?" the neighbor said.
"I was, and I was deadly sick for about ten minutes."
Well, the next week this neighbor finds that he has got to go to Nashville. Every station he passes is right. He is on the Louisville and Nashville cars. It is an L. and N. conductor. The engineer is an L. and N. engineer and the engine is an L. and N. engine. And there he is and he sits there all right, perfectly satisfied, until he gets within ten miles of this side of Nashville. The conductor passed through the car, and he said: "Captain, hold on and put me off this train."
"What is the matter?" asked the conductor.
"I want to go to Nashville."
"You are going there at the rate of forty miles an hour."
"No, we are not."
"What makes you think we are not?"
"I have a friend who went to Nashville last week, and he was taken sick ten miles before he got there, and I know - I am certain we are not on the right road, or I would be taken sick here."
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH HIM.
What are you going to do with a man like that, that ain't got any sense? Feeling, feeling, running on feeling. And if you were to start him down to Nashville, about every ten minutes he would say, "I do not feel like I am going to Nashville;" and he would turn to the fellow in the next seat and ask him lots of question; and he would have to be tied before he got there, and the passengers would all go into the next car.
"I don't know whether I feel right about the matter or not. If I feel like I was going to Nashville I would be all right. But somehow or other I do not feel that way. Captain, just stop this train and put me off."
There is a man that is running on feeling. Oh, I wish we could see and keep good and sensible, viewing all these things as God intended we should.
And the Lord knows that you are laughing and showing merriment here, and I was never more solemn in my life. I do not think it will be fun for some of you, but whenever people see themselves they laugh at themselves. When you hold up a mirror before them they quickly form an estimate which makes them laugh at themselves. That is a mystery to me.
Feeling! Do you wait for feeling? Look here, friends. What do you mean when you say "feeling?" "I want feeling" Do you mean serious thought on the subject? What do you mean? What do you mean by feeling? That you hadn't to blubber and blubber and blubber? What do you mean by feeling? Brethren, if you mean serious thought, you are right. Every man that goes to God ought to go with serious thought and prayer. Or, when you say feeling, do you mean an emotional spur? Do you mean that?
AND THEY ARE INSINCERE, AFTER ALL.
I walked out into the congregation in a meeting once, and a man stood there trembling from head to foot. I took hold of him by the hand and said to him: "Come to the altar and give your heart to God." He said: "Mr. Jones, I'll go in a minute, but I ain't got a bit of feeling." Such people are insincere in this. They don't mean what they say, and when they are shaken from head to foot with what they call emotional sincerity, they say that ain't what they want. Brethren, hear me to-night, if you mean "serious thought about my soul's eternal interest." Every man ought to have it. Serious thought.
WAITING FOR FITNESS.
Another one says, "No, I am not waiting for feeling. I have found it. I'll tell you what I am waiting for. I ain't fit to be religious. I ain't fit to be a Christian." And they make that a reason why they don't come to Christ.
"If I was fit I would come!" Brethren, do you know that my acceptance is the only thing that commends me to Christ; and if that man was fit to come, then Christ would wave him back.
He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Matt. 9:13)
He loved us and gave himself to die for us. (Gal. 2:20)
And listen again:
It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. (I Tim. 1:15)
When it comes to pleading want of fitness, the most intelligent lawyer in this town and the most ignorant colored man are on the same level!
That reminds me of a poor fellow that is absolutely starved to death. A friend walks up to him, takes him by the hand and leads him up in five steps to a heavily-loaded table, with every luxury on it.
He says, "Friend, are you hungry?"
"Never was more hungry in my life."
He says, " There is a table loaded with every luxury; walk up and eat."
"Because my hands ain't fit."
"Here is soap, water and towel. Wash your hands."
"Because they ain't fit to be washed."
And there he stands, starving to death, with plenty within his reach, because he ain't fit to eat and because his hands ain't fit to be washed.
I go and tell yonder man to give himself to the Church of God. He says:
"I ain't fit."
"I ain't fitten to get fit;" and he stands there starving to death.
Now that is true, and you needn't laugh. The Lord knows we ought to be grave over these things, for that is what we have been doing for years and years - that very thing.
There he stands and dies. It is a sad thing.
KNOWS HE ISN'T FIT.
Another one says: "Well, I know I'm not fit. I can see that. My wife sees it. My neighbors can see that. My heart is harder now than last year, and my will is more obdurate than it was last year, and the truth of the business is there's no use in my putting up such a story as that; for
If I tarry [wait, delay] till I'm better,
I shall never come at all."
And bless God for this old hymn - this old verse - this grand old verse:
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel my need of him.
The money, the influence that buys a ticket to God's table is the fact that you are hungry. The only thing that commends you to the out-gushing waters of life is the fact that you are thirsty. Don't you see?
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel our need of him.
WANTS TO GO CLEAR THROUGH.
Another man says: "Well, a man ought not to talk about being fit, for the Lord knows we are all unfit, and that's the reason we are where we are to-day; but I tell you what I'm waiting for: I'm waiting till I get enough religion to take me through before I make any start at all. Because, I tell you, I've seen the beginning and ending of so many good religious lives, I'm afraid to start on a small capital."
I've been right there many a time in my thoughts. Oh, how it did trouble me to think I had joined the church, and might run well for awhile, like some of them, and then quit. That bothered me a great deal. There's a stumbling block to a good many minds there. But let's see how it looks. "I'm going to wait till I get religion enough to run me through before I start." I illustrate it this way.
I was standing in Atlanta, in the great Union Depot there. The engines stand out from under the shed a few feet and the passenger coaches under the depot. That day, before our train left on the State [Rail] Road, I walked out round the engine. I wanted to look at the magnificent engine that was going to pull us to our destination. I walked around the engine, and the engineer was oiling his engine all round, and he looked up at the cab of the engine and said to the fireman: "Have you got enough steam to start with?" And the fireman looked at the gauge and said, "Yes." I threw my eye round on the gauge, and he had 70 or 80 pounds of steam. I said to myself: "Well, that engine carries 180 pounds of steam and she has 138 miles to pull this heavy train. I wonder what that man is thinking about, pulling out with less than 80 pounds. That won't do."
In about two minutes he reversed the lever of his engine and drove her back to couple her on to the eight or ten coaches, and the bell rang and the engineer pushed his lever forward and pulled his throttle open, and the engine began to move out and out. And when we got out six miles, nearly, to the Chattahoochee River, one of those short cuts and curves, I pushed my head out of the window and I saw the engine was blowing off. Her safety valve was lifted and she was blowing off steam. She had more than she wanted, more than 180 pounds. And I said: "Well, that engineer never asked the fireman, did he have steam enough to run to the river, that seven miles; nor whether he had enough to run him to Cartersville, about fifty miles; nor whether he had enough to run him into Chattanooga, 140 miles; but he says: 'Have you got enough to start with! If you have, off we go and away we start.'" An engine generates steam faster running than she does standing still, and she only ran seven miles before she was blowing off. Suppose that engineer had staid there on his engine till he had got steam enough to run to Chattanooga, about 138 miles; if he had tried to compress enough steam in that boiler to have run him that 138 miles, he would have blown that engine into 10,000 pieces. He couldn't have helped it.
ENOUGH TO START WITH.
And there's a man out there. He says: "I want enough religion to carry me through to glory before I'll move a wheel."
Well, brother, if the Lord were to come down and compress enough religion to carry you clear through to glory into that little soul of yours, it would blow it into 10,000 pieces - you couldn't hold it. And all a man wants in this universe is to get enough to start with.
Well, what's enough to start with? Wrong is wrong and I'll quit it. Right is right and I'm going to do it. Now, there's enough to start with. There's enough. Brother, just pull the throttle and you'll start up, and you'll not run ten miles toward the celestial city before you'll be shouting praise to God and have more religion than you can hold. That's true.
"Waiting to get enough to carry me through before I start." Now, brother, hear me to-night. Every man of us has grace enough to make a start. And it seems to me, sometimes, brother, that when I started I had none at all and you had to take a crowbar and punch my engine along to get a start at all. Oh, all I had in the universe was, "I'm lost! I'm ruined! And I've promised my dying father I'll quit my ways and go to him in heaven." [which is what Sam Jones did in 1872.] That's all I had.
Well, we have already taken up nearly an hour of the time with the first part of the text. Now, brother, is it right to wait for time to consider this question? Is it right for us to wait for better terms? Is it right for us to wait for the churches to get right? Is it right for us to wait for feeling? Is it right for us to wait till we are fit? Is it right for us to wait till we can get religion enough to take us clear through?
MAKE UP YOUR MIND AND DON'T WAIT.
Oh, this latter clause of this text comes in now with a great deal of force.
What wait I for? My hope is in God.
Now, brothers, let's pay special attention to this point. Give me your attention for a few minutes, and let's see if we can't decide: "I'll wait no longer. There's no reason for waiting, but ten thousand reasons why I ought not to wait a single moment." And now hear me:
What wait I for?
Said the Psalmist:
For my hope is in God.
Thank God! My hope is in him. If my hope was in stocks and bonds and I had all the world could give, those stocks and bonds might take unto themselves wings and fly away from me, and then my hope is gone forever.
Suppose my hope was in my father; and my father has been buried fourteen years! My hope is buried fourteen years!
Suppose my hope was in my precious mother! For nearly thirty years precious mother has been buried! My hope in the ground for thirty years!
Suppose my hope was in my wife! And she has been all the world to me. Since the day God gave her to me she has been like a crutch under each one of my arms to hold me up. But suppose my wife should die or by a railroad accident to-night should be cut off in a minute; my hope is gone forever.
Suppose my hope was in my children! The time might come when I would kiss the cold lips of the last child I have in the world; and then my hope is gone forever.
Suppose my hope was in preachers! The time might come when every one would turn their backs on me and forsake me; and then my hope is departed.
Suppose my hope was in the Church! The time might come when the Church would drive me from her pews and forbid me to enter her doors; and then my hope has vanished away.
If my hope was in angels, the time might come when I would lose their sympathy, and they would leave me; and then my hope is gone forever.
If my hope was in my friends around me; then those friends might all depart and leave me.
A MAN'S SURE HOPE.
But, brother, here to-night my hope is not in wife. It is not in children. It is not in neighbors. It is not in the church. It is not in preachers. It is not in angels. But my hope is in God, who is my trust and my portion forever.
Brother, do you know that a man is just as strong as the thing he commits himself to, that he trusts himself to?
Why, if I start to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a paper [=cardboard] box, just as soon as my box gets wet and goes to pieces, I'll go down with it. If I start across the Atlantic Ocean in a grand old ocean steamer, then all the strength of her hull, and all the power in her boilers, and all the comfort of her cabin, is mine, and I'll never go down till she does. If I commit myself to the arm of flesh, I am no stronger than the arm I commit myself to; but if I commit myself to God I'll never go down until God goes down. Blessed be his holy name. The man who puts his trust in God is as strong God. He can live like God, and he can conquer like God, and he can triumph like God, and he shall live with God forever. Blessed be the name of God; my hope is in him.
TRUSTING IN GOD.
But they say: "Why, ain't you afraid to start? You're mighty weak."
"Yes," I say, "I'm mighty weak, but my hope is in God."
They say: " Look here; you'll be tempted all the way along."
"Well, I know I will, but my hope is in God."
"Yes, but there'll be ten thousand trials along your pathway!"
"I know that, but my hope is in God."
And brother, now: "If you want to go to God, just lift your hands up, and just take bold of the hand of God, and say "Father, lead me into the life everlasting." And to have your hand in the hand of God is not only a post of honor, but it is also a post of safety.
Brother, think about this to-night and let every one of us say:"I know I have no strength of my own, but my hope is in God, and I'm not afraid to start."
THE WAGON-SHOP PARABLE.
Oh, poor humanity, so afraid it can't hold out! Well, brother, I reckon I have been as afraid along there as anybody, but the way I conceive the gospel to be to-night, it is nothing more nor less than a succession of wagon shops on the way to glory, just remedial all along. Here, fourteen years ago, I run my old broken-down wagon of humanity right up under the cross. I don't think it would have rolled ten feet further until it would have gone all to pieces forever. I got it clear up under the wagon-shop at the cross.
Well, sir, it wasn't there but a few minutes until it was made all new from bottom to top; and then I hitched up my resolutions to it and drove off, and I said: "Thank God for rolling stock that will take me clear through to glory. I'm all right now." And I drove off.
I hadn't gone a mile till I made a miss-drive, somehow or other, and struck a stump, and smashed one wheel all to pieces. And I said: "Well, just look at that. Ain't no use me trying to go anywhere. Broke down already!" Well, I was just about to give up and turn round and start back, but about that time I looked up at the side of the road and a kind, benevolent-looking gentleman says:
"Bring that wheel up here. I run this shop in the interests of fellows breaking down going the road that you are going."
And I took off my wheel and carried it up to the shop and he fixed it good as new - better, maybe - and I put it on and said:
"What do you charge?"
He said: "Don't charge anything; only I charge you especially that if you break down again, you go to the first shop on the way." And he said again: "You can't break down out of sight of a shop all the way. Now recollect that."
A BROKEN AXLE.
Well, I drove off. I said: "Now, I ain't going to break down any more. I'm going to mind what I'm about." And I drove off.
I hadn't got two miles further till I run into a gully there and broke the axle right square off, and I said: "Well! just look at that! I'll turn round and go back. I'm disgusted at myself, I am; and just look at me!" I was in utter despair. I thought I would give up and quit; but, blessed be God! about the time I was going to despair I thought about what that kind old man said, and I looked up at the roadside and another man motioned his hand and said:
"Bring that axle up here. I'm running this shop in the interest of parties broken down in the direction you are going."
I took my axle up and got it fixed, and I said:
"What is the charge?"
"Nothing, only be mighty careful now. There's danger all along."
GOING TO BE CAREFUL NOW.
I drove off and I said, "Well, now, I will watch what I'm doing from this time on. I'll look now how I'm going sure. This way of being mended up every two or three miles of the way don't quite suit me." And I drove off.
And directly, I was making a short turn, sir, and snap went the tongue, right square off my wagon; and I said:
"I'll give up and quit. There ain't any use me talking about doing anything. Why, just look here, I'm breaking down every mile or two."
And I was just about to give up again when I looked up, and there was another shop, and the man said:
"Bring that tongue up here." He waved his hand to me and said: "I'm running this shop in the interest of men that break tongues off wagons in the direction you are going."
A GRAND SUMMARY.
And, brother, I want to say this to yen: There hasn't been a day since I started that I haven't been in the shop to repair. And I can say this much: Sometimes I have driven along ten miles and never broke anything, and then struck a rough piece of road; and the rougher the road the thicker the shops all along. And I have been troubled sometimes to know whether the shops would hold out.
Some time ago I walked up by the side of an old, dying Christian man and said:
"Brother, do the shops hold out?"
He said, "Yes, glory to God; it hasn't been ten minutes since I was in the shop, and I've got the last finishing touch, and I'll ride into glory now."
Blessed be God, no soul ever broke down out of sight of the shop all along the way. And let us come to-night, God helping us, and roll our broken down wagons into the shop of the cross, and have them repaired, and then let us drive on, and on, and on, and some of these days I shall light off this old wagon of humanity and I shall be in heaven.
And if ever I get to heaven, and my mother runs and throws her arms around my neck and says: "Son, I congratulate you on your quick trip to heaven;" and my father says: "Son, I'm glad you kept your promise;" and my friends there remark on my safe trip to the good world, I shall tell them:
"Friends, all of you hush! I have had very little to do with this thing. Where is the Lord Jesus? Show me to him, and I will show you the divine being that went out and sought me, a poor wandering sheep, and when he found me poor and starved and tired and hungry and lost, he didn't scold me; he didn't upbraid me; he didn't take a club and beat me; but he walked up to me and put his arms close around me and laid me upon his shoulder, and brought me safe to peace, and finally safe to heaven."
THE LAST APPEAL.
Precious Christ, seek these lost sheep to-night and help them to the cross. Brothers, won't you be saved? I'm sorry there has been anything like levity. I don't believe it has been levity at all! I have never felt more serious in any discussion in my life. God help you to-night to decide: "Others doing as they may, I intend to give myself to God to-night. Why wait for anything? God is my hope, and he is strong enough to take care of me, and I'll just put my hands in his to-night." Won't you say that? God help you all to say that to-night!
Sermon by Samuel P. Jones, Cartersville, Georgia, preached in St. Louis, ca. 1886. from "Sermons by Rev. Sam. P. Jones", Philadelphia: Scammell & Co., 1886. BV3797.J75
How can you reform any State in God Almighty's world with an old swill-tub for a Governor and two or three old mash-tubs for Supreme Judges. A man who is privately corrupt can never be politically pure." Sam P. Jones
You can run Mormonism with Joe Smith and Brigham Young in their graves; it goes right on. You can run Confucianism without Confucius. But you can't run Christianity without Christ." Sam P. Jones
If any man doesn't like what I say, let him come to me after the meeting and say so, and I will -- forgive him. Sam P. Jones
Go to Literature Index Page
This URL is abcog.org/jones.htm