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If you will allow me an expression, Satan got a match when he got Paul. He tried to get him away from God, but he never switched off. Look how they tortured him. Look how they stripped and beat him. Not only did the Romans do this, but the Jews also. How the Jews tried to drag him from his high calling. How they stripped him and laid upon the back of the apostle blow after blow. And you know that the scourge in those days was no light thing. Sometimes men died under that punishment. If one of us got one of the stripes that Paul got, how the papers would talk about it. But it was nothing to Paul. He just looked at it as if it were a trivial thing--as if it were a light affliction. When he was stripped and scourged by his persecutors you might have gone and asked him: "Well, Paul, what are you going to do now?" "Why, press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;" Take your stand before Him and ask him as they bring the rod down upon his head, "What are you going to do now, Paul?" "Do? I am going to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." He had one idea, and that was it. Look at him as they stoned him. The Jews took up great stones to throw upon the great apostle. They left him for dead, and I suppose he was dead, but God raised him up. Come up and look at him all bruised and bleeding as he lies. "Well, Paul, you've had a narrow escape this time. Don't you think you had better give up? Go off into Arabia and rest for six weeks. What will you do if you remain here? They mean to kill you." "Do!" he cries as he raises himself like a mighty giant, "I am going to press toward the mark of the high calling of God." And he goes forth and preaches the gospel. I am ashamed of Christianity in the nineteenth century when I think of those early Christians. Why, it would take all the Christians in the Northwest to make one Paul. Look at his heroism everywhere he went. Talk about your Alexanders; why, the mighty power of God rested upon Paul. "Why," said he, "thrice was I shipwrecked while going off to preach the gospel." What did he care about that? Cold churches wouldn't trouble him, although they trouble us. What would lying elders and false deacons be to him? That wouldn't stop him. He had but one idea, and over all obstacles he triumphed for that one idea. Look at him as he comes back from his punishment. He goes up some side street and gets lodgings. He works during the day and preaches at night on the street. He had no building like this, no committee to wait on him, no carriage to carry him from the meeting, no one to be waiting to pay his board bills. There he was toiling and preaching, and, after preaching for eighteen months, they say, "We'll have to pay you for all this preaching, Paul," and they take him to the corner of the street and pay him with thirty-nine stripes! That is the way they paid him. Oh, my friends, when you look at the lives of such men don't it make you feel ashamed of yourselves. I confess I feel like hanging my head. Go to him in the Philippian jail and ask him what he is going to do now. "Do? press forward for the mark of my high calling." And so he went on looking toward one point, and no man could stand before him.
Saved and Saving.
One day I saw a steel engraving that I liked very much. I thought it was the finest thing I ever had seen, at the time, and I bought it. It was a picture of a woman coming out of the water, and clinging with both arms to the cross. There she came out of the drowning waves with both arms around the cross perfectly safe. Afterwards, I saw another picture that spoiled this one for me entirely, it was so much more lovely. It was a picture of a person coming out of the dark waters, with one arm clinging to the cross and with the other she was lifting some one else out of the waves. That is what I like. Keep a firm hold upon the cross, but always try to rescue another from the drowning.
A Story Moody "Never will Forget."
A few years ago, in a town somewhere in this state, a merchant died, and while he was lying a corpse I was told a story I will never forget. When the physician that attended him saw there was no chance for him here, he thought it would be time to talk about Christ to the dying man. And there are a great many Christians just like this physician. They wait till a man is just entering the other world, just till he is about nearing the throne, till the sands of life are about run out, till the death rattle is in his throat, before they commence to speak of Christ. The physician stepped up to the dying merchant and began to speak of Jesus, the beauties of Christianity, and the salvation he had offered to all the world. The merchant listened quietly to him, and then asked him, "How long have you known of these things?" "I have been a Christian since I came from the East," he replied. "You have been a Christian so long and have known all this, and have been in my store every day. You have been in my house; have associated with me; you knew all these things, and why didn't you tell me before?" The doctor went home and retired to rest, but could not sleep. The question of the dying man rang in his ears. He could not explain why he had not spoken before, but he saw he had neglected his duty to his principles. He went back to his dying friend, intending to urge upon him the acceptance of Christ's salvation, but when he began to speak to him the merchant only replied in a sad whisper, "Oh, why didn't you tell me before?" Oh, my friends, how many of us act like this physician? If we don't practice in every particular the professions we make, and try to influence the lives of others, and lead the lives of Christians according to Christian precept, the world will go on stumbling over us.
The Missing Stone.
I remember hearing of a man's dream, in which he imagined that when he died he was taken by the angels to a beautiful temple. After admiring it for a time, he discovered that one stone was missing. All finished but just one little stone; that was left out. He said to the angel, "What is this stone left out for?" The angel replied, "That was left out for you, but you wanted to do great things, and so there was no room left for you." He was startled and awoke, and resolved that he would become a worker for God, and that man always worked faithfully after that.
Sad Lack of Zeal.
Two young men came into our inquiry room here the other night, and after a convert had talked with them, and showed them the way, the light broke in upon them. They were asked, "Where do you go to church?" They gave the name of the church where they had been going. Said one, "I advise you to go and see the minister of that church." They said, "We don't want to go there any more; we have gone there for six years and no one has spoken to us."
A Zealous Young Lady.
I was very much interested some time ago in a young lady that lived in the city. I don't know her name, or I have forgotten it. She was about to go to China as the wife of a missionary on his way to some heathen field. She had a large Sabbath-school class in the city and succeeded in getting a blessing upon many of her scholars through her efforts. She was very anxious to get some one who would look after her little flock and take care of them while she was gone. She had a brother who was not a Christian, and her heart was set on his being converted and taking her place as leader of the class. The young man--perhaps he is in the audience to-day--refused to accept of Christ, but away in her closet alone she pleaded with God that her brother might be converted and take her place. She wanted to reproduce herself and that is what every Christian ought to do--get somebody else converted to take up your work. Well, the last morning came, and around the family altar as the moment drew near for the lady's departure, and they did not know when they should see her again, the father broke down, and the boy went up stairs. Just before she left for the train the boy came down, and putting his arms around his sister's neck, said to her, "My dear sister, I will take your Saviour for mine, and I will take care of your class for you," and the young man took her class, and the last I heard of him he was filling her place. There was a young lady established in good work.
How Moody Treated the Committees.
I remember when I was in Chicago before the fire, I was on some ten or twelve committees. My hands were full. If a man came to me to talk about his soul I would say I haven't time; got a committee to attend to. But now I have turned my back on everything--turned my attention to saving souls, and God has blessed me and made me an instrument to save more souls during the last four or five years than during all my previous life. And so if a minister will devote himself to this undivided work, God will bless him. Take that motto of Paul's: "One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Fourscore and Five.
When we went to London there was an old woman eighty-five years old, who came to the meetings and said she wanted a hand in that work. She was appointed to a district, and called on all classes of people. She went to places where we would probably have been put out, and told the people of Christ. There were none that could resist her. When the old woman, eighty-five years old, came to them and offered to pray for them, they all received her kindly--Catholics, Jews, Gentiles--all. That is enthusiasm. That is what we want.
Saul's Conversion. Gustave Dore. Acts, ix.
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