T. De Witt (Thomas De Witt) Talmage.

The pathway of life : a book for the home, a blessed guest at the fireside. Destined to lead the young and the old into paths of happiness and to prepare them for a holy companionship with him whose k online

. (page 20 of 41)
Online LibraryT. De Witt (Thomas De Witt) TalmageThe pathway of life : a book for the home, a blessed guest at the fireside. Destined to lead the young and the old into paths of happiness and to prepare them for a holy companionship with him whose k → online text (page 20 of 41)
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nanters gave a deeper dye to the heather of the Highlands; when the Vaudois
of France chose exterm.ination rather than make an unchristian surrender;
when on St. Bartholomew's Day mounted assassins rode through the streets of
Paris, crjang: "Kill! Blood-letting is good in August! Kill! Death to the
Huguenots! Kill!" when Lady Jane Gre3^'s head rolled from the executioner's
block ; when Calvin was imprisoned in the castle ; when John Knox died for the
truth; when John Bun3^an lay rotting in Bedford jail, sa\ang: "If God w-ill
help me, and ni}' ph3-sical life continues, I will sta}- here until the moss grows
on m3^ eyebrow-s rather than give up m3- faith." The da3-s of retreat for the
Church w^ere da3^s of victory.

The Pilgrim Fathers fell back from the other side of the sea to Pl3-moutli
Rock, but now are marshalling a continent for the Christianization of the
world. The Church of Christ falling back from Piedmont, falling back from
Rue St. Jacques, falling back from St. Denis, falling back from Wurtemburg
castles, falling back from the Brussels market place, 3'et all the time triumph-
ing. Notwithstanding all the shocking reverses which the Church of Christ
suffers, what do we see to da3' ? Three thousand missionaries of the cross on




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THE PATHWAY OF LIFE. 251

heathen ground ; sixty thousand ministers of Jesus Christ in this land ; at least
two hundred millions of Christians on the earth. All nations to-day kindling in
a blaze of revival. Falling back, yet advancing until the old Wesley an hymn
will prove true :

The Lion of Judah shall break the chain,
And give us the victory again and again !

But there is a more marked illustration of victorious retreat in the life of
our Joshua, the Jesus of the ages. First falling back from an appalling height
to an appalling depth, falling from celestial hills to terrestrial valleys, from
throne to manger, yet that did not seem to suffice Him as a retreat. Falling
back still further from Bethlehem to Nazareth, from Nazareth to Jerusalem,
back from Jerusalem to Golgotha, back from Golgotha to the mausoleum in the
rock, back down over the precipices of perdition until He walked amid the
caverns of the eternal captives, and drank of the wine of the w^ath of
Almighty God amid the Ahabs and the Jezebels and the Belshazzars. O men
of the pulpit and men of the pew, Christ's descent from heaven to earth does
not measure half the distance. It was from glory to perdition. He descended
into hell. All the records of earthly retreat are as nothing compared with this
falling back. Santa Anna, with the fragments of the army, flying over the
plateaux of Mexico, and Napoleon and his arni}^ retreating from Moscow into
the awful snows of Russia, are not w^orthy to be mentioned with this retreat,
when all the powers of darkness seem to be pursuing Christ as He fell back,
until the body of Him who came to do such wonderful things la}- pulseless
and stripped. Methinks that the city of Ai was not so emptied of its inhabitants
when they went to pursiie Joshua as perdition was emptied of devils when they
started for the pursuit of Christ, and He fell back and back, down lower, down
lower, chasm below chasm, pit below pit, until He seemed to strike the bottom
of objurgation and scorn and torture. Oh, the long, loud, jubilant shout of hell
at the defeat of the Lord God xA.lmighty !

But let not the powers of darkness rejoice quite so soon. Do 3^ou hear
that disturbance in the tomb of Arimathea ? I hear the sheet rending ! What
means that stone hurled down the side of the hill ? Push Him back ; the
dead must not stalk in this open sunlight. Oh, it is our Joshua. Let Him
come out. He comes forth and starts for the city. He takes the spear of the
Roman guard and points that way. Church militant marches up on one side
and the Church triumphant down on the other side. And the powers of dark-
ness being caught between these ranks of celestial and terrestrial valor,
nothing is left of them save just enough to illustrate the direful overthrow of
hell and our Joshua's eternal victory. On His head be all the crowns. In
His hand be all the sceptres. At His feet be all the human hearts ; and
here, Lord, is one of them.



252



THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.



THE TRIUMPH OF THE WICKED.

The triumph* of the wicked is short. Did you ever see an arni}^ in a
panic ? There is nothing so uncontrollable. If you had stood at Long Bridge,
Washington, during the opening of our Civil War, you would know what it is
to see an army run. And when those men of Ai looked out and saw those
men of Joshua in a stampede, they expected easy work. They would scatter
them as the equinox the leaves. Oh, the gleeful and jubilant descent of the
men of Ai upon the men of Joshua ! But their exhilaration was brief, for the

tide of battle turned and these quondam
conquerors left their. miserable carcasses
in the wilderness of Bethaven. So it
alwa3^s is. The triumph of the wicked
is short. You make twenty thousand
dollars at the gaming table. Do you
expect to keep it ? You will die in the
poor-house. You make a fortune by
iniquitous traffic. Do you expect to keep
it ? Your money will scatter, or it will
sta}^ long enough to curse j^our children
after you are dead. Call over the roll
of bad men who prospered and see how
short was their prosperity. For a while,
like the men of Ai, they went from con-
quest to conquest, but after a while dis-
aster rolled back upon them and they
were divided into three parts : Misfor-
tune took their property, and the grave
took their bod}^ and the lost world took
their soul. I am always interested in
the building of theatres and the build-
ing of dissipating saloons. I like to have
them built of the best granite and have

SCOURGING OK JESUS. ^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^^

pillars made very firm. God is going to conquer them, and they will be turned
into asylums and art galleries and churches. The stores in which fraudulent
men do business, the splendid banking institutions where the president and
cashier put all their property in their wives' hands and then fail for $200,000 —
all these institutions are to become the places where honest Christian men do
business. Where are William Tweed and his associates ? Where are Ketcham
and Swartwout, absconding swindlers ? Where is James Fisk, the libertine ?
AVhere is John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, and all the other misdemeanants !
The wicked do not live out half their days. Disembogue, O world of darkness !





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254 'I'HE PATHWAY OF LIFE.

Come up Hildebrand, and Henry II., and Robert Robespierre, and with blis-
tering and blaspheming and ashen lips hiss out : " The triumph of the wicked
is short." Alas for the men of Ai when Joshua stretches out his spear
toward the city !

THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING GOOD AIM.

In the stratagem b}^ which Ai was captured we have an illustration of the
importance of taking good aim — that is, of thorough preparation. There is
Joshua, but how are those people in ambush up yonder to know when they are
to drop on the city ? and how are these men around Joshua to know when the}^
are to stop their fight and advance ? There must be some signal — a signal to
stop the one division and to start the other. Joshua, with a spear on which
were ordinarily hung the colors of battle, points toward the cit}'. He stands
in such a conspicuous position, and there is so much of the morning light
dripping from that spear-tip that all around the horizon can see. It was much
as to say : " There is the city. Take it. Take it now. Roll down from the
west. Surge up from the north. It is ours, the city of Ai." God knows and
we know that a great deal of Christian attack amounts to nothing, simply be-
cause we do not take good aim. Nobod}^ knows, and we do not know ourselves,
which point we want to take, when we ought to make up our minds what God
will have us to do, and point our spear in that direction, and then hurl our
body, mind, soul, time, eternit}^ at that one target. Many are called by Christ,
as was j\Iatthew, but few leave their tithe-gathering, or their worldly engage-
ments to follow Him who gave His life for the world. In our pulpit and pews,
and Sunda\'-schools and prayer-meetings, we want to get a reputation for say-
ing prett}' things, and so we point our spear toward the flowers ; or we want a
reputation for saying sublime things, and we point our spear toward the stars ;
or we want to get a reputation for historical knowledge, and we point our
spear toward the past ; or we want to get a reputation for liberality, so M^e
swing our spear all around; and it strikes all points of the horizon, and 3'ou
can make out of it whatever 3'ou please ; while there is the old world, proud,
rebellious and armed against all righteousness ; and instead of running any
further away from its pursuit, we ought to turn around, plant our foot in the
strength of the eternal God, lift the old cross and point it in the direction of
the world's conquest till the redeemed of earth, marching up from one side and
the glorified of heaven marching down from the other side, the last battle-
ment of sin is compelled to swing out the streamers of Immanuel. O Church
of God, take aim and conquer.

THE BRAVERY THAT CONFRONTS STEEL AND BULLET.

It is comparatively eas}' to keep on a parade amid a shower of bouquets
aud handclapping and the whole street full of huzzas, but it is not so easy to
stand up in the day of battle, the face blackened with smoke, the uniform cov-



THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.



= 00



ered with the earth plowed up bj- whizzing bullets and bursting shells, half
the regiment cut to pieces, and yet the commander crying : " Forward, march !"
Then it requires old-fashioned valor. My readers, the great trouble of the
Kingdom of God in this day is the cowards. The}- do splendidly on a parade
day, and at the communion, when the}' have on their best clothes of Christian
profession ; but put them out in the great battle of life, at the first sharp-
shooting of skepticism they dodge, they fall back, they break ranks. We con-
front the enemy, we open the battle against fraud, and lo ! we find on our side
a great many people that do not try to pay their debts. And we open the battle
against intemperance, and we find on our own side a great many people who
drink too much. And we open the battle against profanity, and we find on our
own side a great many men who make hard speeches. And we open the battle
upon infidelity, and lo ! we find on our own side a great many men who are not
quite sure about the Book of Jonah. And while we ought to be massing our
troops and bringing forth more than the united courage of Austerlitz, and
Waterloo, and Gettysburg, we have to be spending our time hunting up ambus-
cades. There are a great many in the Lord's army who like to go out on a
campaign with satin slippers and holding umbrellas over their heads to keep
off the dew, and having rations of canvas-back ducks and lemon custards. If
they cannot have them, they want to go home. They think it unhealthy among
so many bullets !

I believe that the next twelve months will be the most stupendous year
that Heaven ever saw. The nations are quaking now with the coming of God.
It will be a year of successes for the men of Joshua, but of doom for the men
of Ai. Year of mercies and of judgments. Year of invitation and of M-arning.
Year of jubilee and of woe. Which side are you going to be on? — with the
men of Ai or the men of Joshua ?




(Tonstdlations of tfjr l^rtirrmrtr.

THE SPLENDORS OF THE HEAVENS COMPARED WITH
THE GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS.

VERY man lias a thousand roots and a thousand
branches. His roots reach down through all the
earth ; his branches spread through all the heavens.
He speaks with voice, with eye, with hand, with
foot. His silence often is thunder, and his life is
an anthem or a doxology. There is no such thing
as negative influence. We are all positive in the
' place we occupy, making the world better or making
I it worse, on the Lord's side or on the devil's, making

up reasons for our blessedness or banishment, and
we have already done a mighty work in peopling
heaven or hell. I hear people tell of what they are going to do.
A man who has burned down a city might as well talk of
some evil that he expects to do, or a man who has saved an em-
pire might as well talk of some good that he expects to do.
By the force of your evil influence you have already consumed
infinite values, or you have, by the power of a right influence,
won whole kingdoms for God.

It would be absurd for me by elaborate argument to prove
that the world is off the track. You might as well stand at the foot of an
embankment, amid the wreck of a capsized rail-train, proving by elaborate argu-
ment that something is out of order. Adam tumbled over the embankment sixt}^
centuries ago, and the whole race, in one long train, has gone on tumbling in
the same direction. Crash ! crash ! The only question now is, by what leverage
can the crushed thing be lifted? By what hammer may the fragments be
reconstructed ?

I want to show j^ou how we may turn many to righteousness, and what
will be our future pay for so doing.

We may turn them by the charm of a right example. A child, coming
from a filthy home, was taught at school to wash its face. It went home so much
improved in appearance that its mother washed her face. And when the father
of the household came home and saw the improvement in domestic appearance,
he washed his face. The neighbors happening in saw the change, and tried the
same experiment until all that street was purified, and the next street copied

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THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.



257



its example, and the whole city felt the result of one schoolboy washing his
face. That is a fable by which we set forth that the best way to get the world
washed of its sins and pollution is to have our own heart and life cleansed and
purified. A man with grace in his heart, and Christian cheerfulness in his face,
and holy consistency in his behavior, is a perpetual sermon ; and the sermon
differs from others in that it has but one head, and the longer it runs the better.
There are honest men who walk down Wall street, making the teeth of iniquity
chatter. There are happy men who go into a sick-room, and, by a look, help
the broken bone to knit, and the excited nerves drop to calm beating. There
are pure men whose presence silences the tongue of uncleanness. The mightiest
agent of good on earth is a consistent Christian. I like the Bible folded between
lids of cloth, or calfskin,
or morocco, but I like it bet-
ter when, in the shape of a
man, it goes out into the
world — a Bible illustrated.
Courage is beautiful to
read about ; but rather
would I see a man with all
the world against him
confident as though all
the world were for him.
Patience is beautiful to
read about; but rather
would I see a buffeted
soul calmly waiting for the
time of deliverance. Faith
is beautiful to read about ;
but rather would I find a man in the midnight walking straight on as though he
saw everything. Oh, how mau}^ souls have been turned to God by the charm of a
bright example !

THE SWIFT FEET OF PRAYER.

When, in the Mexican War, the troops were wavering, a General rose in
his stirrups and dashed into the enemy's lines, shouting, " Men, follow !" They,
seeing his courage and disposition, dashed on after him and gained the vic-
tory. What men want to rally them for God is an example to lead them.
All your commands to others to advance amount to nothing so long as you
stay behind. To affect them aright, you need to start for heaven yourself,
looking back only to give the stirring cry of " Men, follow !"

Again, we may turn many to righteousness by prayer. There is no sucli
detective as prayer, for no one can hide away from it. It puts its hand on
the shoulder of a man ten thousand miles off. It alights on a ship mid-Atlan-
tic. The little child cannot understand the law of electricity, or how the
17




HUSBANDLY SYMPATHY.




(258)



THE PATHWAY OF LIFE. 259

telegraphic operator, by touching the instrument here, may dart a message
under the sea to another continent ; nor can we, with our small intellects,
understand how the touch of a Christian's prayer shall instantly strike a soul
on the other side of the earth. You take ship and go to some other country,
and get there at eleven o'clock in the morning. You telegraph to New York,
and the message gets here at six o'clock in the same morning. In other
words, it seems to arrive here five hours before it started. Like that is prayer.
God saj^s : " Before they call I will hear." To overtake a loved one on the
road you may spur up a lathered steed until he shall outrace the one that
brought the news to Ghent, but a prayer shall catch it at one gallop. A boy
running away from home may take the midnight train from the country vil-
lage and reach the seaport in time to gain the ship that sails on the morrow,
but a mother's prayer will be on the deck to meet him, and in the hammock
before he swings into it, and at the capstan before he winds the rope around
it, and on the sea against the sky, as the vessel plows on toward it. There
is a mightiness in prayer. George Muller prayed a company of poor boys
together, and then he prayed up an asylum in which they might be sheltered.
He turned his face toward Edinburgh and prayed, and there came a thousand
pounds. .He turned his face toward London and prayed, and there came a
thousand pounds. He turned his face toward Dublin and prayed, and there
came a thousand pounds. The breath of Elijah's prayer blew all the clouds
off the sky, and it was dry weather. The breath of Elijah's prayer blew all
the clouds together, and it was wet weather. Prayer, in Daniel's time, walked
the cave as a lion-tamer. It reached up, and took the sun by its golden bit
and stopped it. We have all yet to try the full power of prayer. The time
will come when the American Church will pray with its face toward the West,
and all the prairies and inland cities will surrender to God ; and will pray
with face toward the sea, and all the islands and ships will become Christian.
Parents who have wayward sons will get down on their knees and say,
" Lord, send my boy home," and the boy in Canton shall get right up from
the gaming-table, and go down to the wharf to find out which ship starts first
for America.

HOW TO PRAY.

Not one of us yet knows how to pray. All we have done has only been
pottering and guessing and experimenting. A boy gets hold of his father's
saw and hammer and tries to make something, but it is a poor affair. The
father comes and takes the same saw and hammer and builds the house or
the ship. In the childhood of our Christian faith we make but poor work with
these weapons of prayer, but when we come to the stature of men in Christ
Jesus, then, under these implements, the temple of God will rise, and the
world's redemption will be launched. God cares not for the length of our
prayer, or the number of our prayers, or the beauty of our prayers, or the
place of our prayers ; but it is the faith in them that tells — believing that



26o



THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.



prayef soars higher than the lark ever sang, plunges deeper than diving-bell
ever sank, darts quicker than lightning ever flashed. Though we have used
only the back of this weapon instead of the edge, what marvels have been
wrought! If saved, we are all the captives of some earnest prayer. Would
God that, in desire for the rescue of souls, we might in prayer lay hold of
the resources of the Lord Omnipotent.




THE VOICE OF PRAYER.



We may turn many to righteousness bv Christian admonition. Do not
wait until you can make a formal speech. Address the one next to you. Just
one sentence may do the work, just one question, just one look. The formal
talk that begins with a sigh and ends with a canting snuffle is not what is
wanted, but the heart-throb of a man in dead earnest. There is not a soul on
earth that you may not bring to God if you rightly go at it. They said
Gibraltar could not be taken. It is a rock 1600 feet high and three miles



THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.



261



long. But the English and Dutch did take it. Artillery, and sappers and
miners, and fleets pouring out volleys of death, and thousands of men, reckless
of danger, can do anything. The stoutest heart of sin, though it be rock, and
surrounded by an ocean of transgression, under Christian bombardment, may
be made to hoist the flag of redemption.

But is all this admonition, and prayer, and Christian work for nothing?
The Bible promises to all the faithful eternal lustre. " The}^ that turn many
to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever."




'When the grave household 'round his hall repair,
Warned by a bell, and close the hours with prayer.



As stars the redeemed have a borrowed light. What makes Mars, and
Venus, and Jupiter so luminous ? When the sun throws down his torch in
the heavens the stars pick up the scattered brands and hold them in proces-
sion as the queen of the night advances ; so all Christian workers standing
around the throne will shine in the light borrowed from the Sun of Righteous-



262 THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.

ness — Jesus in their faces, Jesus in their songs, Jesus in their triumph. Christ
left heaven once for a tour of redemption on earth, yet the glorified ones knew
He would come back again. But let Him abdicate His throne, and go away
to stay forever, the music would stop, the congregation disperse, the temples of
God be darkened, the rivers of light stagnate, and every chariot would become
a hearse, and every bell would toll, and there would not be room on the hill-
sides to bury the dead of the great metropolis, for there would be pestilence
in heaven. But Jesus lives, and so all the redeemed live with Him. He shall
recognize them as His comrades in earthly toil, and remember what they did
for the honor of His name and for the spread of His kingdom. All their
prayers and tears and work wall rise before Him as He looks into their faces,
and He will divide His kingdom with them ; His peace, their peace ; His
holiness, their holiness ; His joy, their joy. The glory of the central throne
reflected from the surrounding thrones, the last spot of sin struck from the
Christian orb, and the entire nature atremble and aflash with light, the}- shall
shine as the stars forever and ever.

LIKE THE STARS.

Christian workers shall be like the stars in the fact that they have a
light independent of each other. Look up at the night, and see each world
show its distinct glory. It is not like the conflagration, in which 3'ou cannot
tell where one flame stops and another begins. Neptune, Herschel, and Mer-
cury are as distinct as if each one of them were the only star; so our indi-
vidualism will not be lost in heaven. A great multitude — yet each one as
observ^able, as distinctly recognized, as greatly celebrated, as if in all the space,
from gate to gate, and from hill to hill, he were the only inhabitant ; no
mixing up — no mob — no indiscriminate rush, each Christian standing illustri-
ous — all the story of earthly achievement adhering to each one ; his self-
denials, and pains, and services, and victories published. Before men went
out to the last war the orators told them that they would all be remembered
by their country, and their names are commemorated in poetry and song ; but
go to the graveyard in Richmond, and you will find there 6000 graves, over
each one of Avhich is the inscription, " Unknown." The world does not
remember its heroes, but there will be no unrecognized Christian worker in
heaven. Each one known b}' all, grandly known; known by acclamation; all
the past story of work for God gleaming in cheek, and brow, and foot, and palm.
The}' shall shine with distinct light as the stars, forever and ever.

Christian workers shall shine like the stars in clusters. In looking up,
you find the worlds in family circles. Brothers and sisters — they take hold of
each other's hands and dance in groups. Orion in a group. The Pleiades in
a group. The solar system is only a company of children, with bright faces,
gathered around one great fire-place. The worlds do not straggle off. They go
in squadrons and fleets, sailing through immensit}-.



r"









'-nE TR.UMPE.T 5H^



ANGELS— LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION.



(263)



264 THE PATHWAY OF UFE.

So Christian workers in heaven will dwell in neighborhoods and clusters.
I am sure that some people I will like in heaven a great deal better than
others. Yonder is a constellation of stately Christians. They live on earth by



Online LibraryT. De Witt (Thomas De Witt) TalmageThe pathway of life : a book for the home, a blessed guest at the fireside. Destined to lead the young and the old into paths of happiness and to prepare them for a holy companionship with him whose k → online text (page 20 of 41)