Chapter 1 WHERE ART THOU?
"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that be might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." I JOHN iii. 8,9.
"But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, anddoeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All therighteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: In his trespass that he hath trespassed, andin his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." EZEKIEL xviii. 24.
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils thebreath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden;and there be put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to growevery tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life also in the midst of thegarden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." GEN. ii. 7-10.
"And the Lord God commanded the man saying. Of every tree of the garden thou mayest eatfreely; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thatthou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." GEN. ii. 16, 17.
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to theeyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gavealso unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and theyknew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Andthey heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam andhis wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And theLord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice inthe garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." GEN. iii. 6-10.
A casual reader of the Bible would be impressed with the fact that the God revealed in theBible is a God who hates sin and loves Holiness. That the devil revealed in the Bible is a devilthat hates Holiness, but loves sin; therefore, to be godly, or godlike, we must hate sin and loveHoliness, but if we hate Holiness and love sin we are devilish, or like the devil. There is nogetting away from these facts.
Again, a casual reader of the Bible would be impressed with the fact that God demandsabsolute obedience to His commands, and that no one, in any state or condition, in this life canknowingly commit sin and retain the smile and approval of God. No where in the Book are thesefacts more plainly taught than in the Scriptures that I have read in your hearing. He that is born ofGod doth not commit sin. He that committeth sin is of the devil, but when a righteous man turnethaway and doeth according to the wicked, in his sins that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Thesetruths are very plainly set forth in the story of the fall of our first parents.
I am well aware of the fact that there is much skepticism abroad regarding the account ofthe fall of our first parents; that it is only a Jewish myth or tale, and that it is not true. Also that thestory of Jonah and the whale is not true; but right here allow me to place on record that I believethe whole Book from cover to cover. Of course, I understand that there are some errors intranslating a word here and there from the original language, but not enough to destroy or alter themeaning so that it would lead one astray; but, then, I do not know what kind of a little two-by-fourgod some of you have Why, sir, I have a great God.
I have stood on the rear platform of the overland limited and looked out over miles andmiles of the plains as we swept over them, and I have said, "The hand of our God mapped themout." I have gone in behind, or under, the great falls of Niagara, and have stood in the great chasmbeneath and said, "My God cut this out and started the water flowing over there." I have climbed tothe summit of Pike's Peak and looked at that great pile of granite rearing its lofty head into theheavens, and have said, "My God piled up these rocks in this fashion." I have stood on the deck ofthe ocean steamer and looked out on the trackless, boundless expanse and said, "My God spreadout these waters." I have gazed for hours at the starry heavens above me, and read in my Bible thatthey were placed there by my heavenly Father. I have looked at that great ball of brightness risingin the east and disappearing below the western horizon, and said, "My God lighted that lamp, andit has never ceased to light up this old world." It was our God that spake and a world moved intoexistence, and I reckon, did He see the need, He could speak into existence a fish large enough toswallow this whole crowd.
Oh, sir, I don't know about your god, but we have a great God, and this old Book is HisWord, and I believe it from cover to cover, and if you will throw away your doubts and unbeliefand follow its teachings, all your thorns and briars will disappear and joy and gladness will taketheir place.
Now, there are a few things to which I want to call your attention concerning the fall of ourfirst parents.
Firstly: I want you to see what Adam lost in the fall, and the relation it bears to the humanfamily today. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, told they might eat of the fruit of the treesof the garden, save one, and that in the day they ate of that one, they would die; they ate, sinned,and died. Now, what was there about them that died? Going back to the first chapter of Genesis weread that God, speaking to the other members of the Trinity, said, "Let us make man in our image,after our likeness, .. so God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him."
Now, sir, I have never been able to conceive the idea that God meant the body of manwhen He said man. I don't understand that God has a body like I have: my Bible tells me that Godis a spirit. In the second chapter of Genesis we are told that God rolled some dust together andbreathed into that pile of clay, and man became a living soul; that is, that God breathed somethinginto the dust He had brought together, put something on the inside of it. You look up here to thespeaker and you see the house, or tabernacle, or body, the man dwells in, but you only see the manas it crops out in his character.
If, in passing down the street, I should point across to a high steepled building and ask youwhat it was, and you replied it was the Methodist or Baptist Church, I would contradict you. Thechurch is not composed of building material, such as is used in erecting buildings. "God that madethe world and all things therein, seeing he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in templesmade with hands." Acts xvii. 24. The church is composed of souls who have been born fromabove, redeemed by the blood. That building is only a place where the church may gather togetherto worship. The church is on the inside. So with man, the body is only the temple, or house, that theman dwells in, and, as he is made in the image of God, he is a spirit, but God prepared him a bodyto dwell in. Made in the image of God was Adam; he came fresh from the hands of his Creator,pure, free from sin, holy, and like God to that extent that he bore the image of God. In other words,the very image of God was stamped upon man's nature; clothed with the Divine nature of hisCreator, he was like Him.
We have not time tonight to explain why or how sin was present, any more than we havetime to explain how or why the devil is here, but he is here just the same. There were not fiftypeople present before the devil walked in. He is the best church-goer you have in town. unless itbe to some dead, dried-up affair, where they are in the cold storage business, with an icicle sixfeet long in the pulpit. I don't think he pays much attention to those places, for he has them safeenough already; but in a place where full salvation from sin is being proclaimed, you may be surehe is always on hand. Well, the devil spoke to Mother Eve about the fruit that they had beenforbidden to eat. Listen to her reply, "God hath said ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch itlest ye die." She knew what God had said about it and about disobeying Him, and so do you; andwith such knowledge in the heart and such words on the lips, whose is the responsibility of doing.wrong? God hath said, Ye shall not, lest ye die, but she ate, gave to Adam, he ate and they died.How? Well, it was not their bodies that died, though decay set in from that hour. Had it been theirbodies they would have become a corpse; neither was it their minds, or they would have becomeidiots. Then what was it? They were clothed in the Divine image or nature of God, and the momentthey sinned they died. Webster says "dead" means void. The mom moment they sinned they losttheir Divine nature or image, which took its flight and went back to the hands of the Giver; it leftthem dead, void of the Divine image or nature of God. When the devil tempted Eve, he said, "Thoushalt not surely die," or, in plain English, sin and live: and right there he set up his abominablereligion, which, I am sorry to say, has become the popular religion of today, namely, a sinningreligion.
The devil said, sin and live, and he has many advocates today of his damnable lie, both inpulpit and pew. Many deny that we can live without committing sin, and then wrest the Scripturesin their teaching, and sneer at those who stand up for God's truth and His plain commands. I heardof a preacher lately who said there was not a day but what he broke the ten commandments. Iwonder which of the ten he broke. If he broke the first one, he is not a child of God at all, but anidolater. If he broke the second, he is a blasphemer. He could not be a child of God and not keepthe third, the fourth, nor the last. The breaking of the next three would put him in the penitentiary.Poor deluded soul, like many, on his way to the pit, never having been born again.
God said, sin and die; and so it is declared all through His Word. "The soul that sinnethshall die," "He that committeth sin is of the devil." Brother, those are not my words, but the wordsof the Almighty God, in whose hands your breath is. Adam knowingly sinned, and then and therelost his Divine nature! In other words, the devil succeeded in cheating him out of his pure, holy,Divine nature, and left him his own fallen, sinful, sensual, rebellious, devilish nature. You willplease excuse me for telling you so, but every unregenerated individual in this congregation tonighthas nothing but that devilish, sensual nature. Every child born into this world from that sad dayuntil now has been born into existence with that sinful, sensual, rebellious, devilish nature, and thatnature only.
First Corinthians xv. 22 tells us that the whole human family died (became void of theDivine image) through Adam's fall. The sinner is an unregenerated being, having but that onenature, and it is sinful in the extreme. It is that sinful nature that makes you swear, brother, thatmakes you get angry, fight, steal, lie, and cheat. It is that sensual nature that makes men and womencommit adultery and fornication, and gives rise to that sensual, unclean desire. It is that devilishnature that causes men to hate and murder. It is that devilish nature that causes Women to desire tokill their unborn offspring so that they may not be bothered with them, but continue on in society.Men look upon sin as an act only, but let me tell you that it is a million leagues beyond any act thatyou could commit: it is a warp in your very being, a crooked, devilish twist in your very existence.It is the devil's own nature implanted in your very being, and it takes something far deeper than thebrightest pardon God could give you to reach it. If you doubt my statement concerning it, go thereand pick up that little six months' old infant and undertake to do something with it that it don't wantdone, and you will get your proof of it quickly; you will have a kicking, squalling, struggling,fighting youngster on your hands, kicking, struggling and screaming in his rebellion against you,until you can see a picture of a demon in his actions and on his face.
Yes, sir, it is there, down deep in your very nature. Had it not been for that devilish naturein you, the first time you heard of Jesus' love for your poor lost soul it would have broken yourheart and you would have yielded then and there to God; but that thing in you made you stubbornand defiant, and you put up your will against the will of the Almighty God, and began your fightagainst His blessed Spirit, who has been trying to woo you from a path of sin and save you from adevil's Hell.
Secondly: I want you to take note of Adam's sense of his loss, or, the reason why men areafraid to meet God. The Book says that after they had sinned they heard the Lord God in the gardenand they hid themselves, and the Lord called unto them, "Where art thou?" and Adam replied, "Iwas afraid." Why was he afraid? For just exactly the same reason men are afraid to meet Godtoday, namely: they know they are wrong, are not obeying Him, have been disobedient. Adamknew the moment he had done wrong; he had a conscience. While conscience was no doubt greatlyimpaired in the fall, yet it was there, and the moment Adam heard the Lord, after he had donewrong, he was smitten with fear; he knew it, felt it. He had had other visits and conversations withthe Lord, prior to this one. In the preceding chapter we read of God bringing the animals and birdsHe had formed to Adam to see what he would call them. He had had many talks and walks with theLord no doubt, but now he had knowingly disobeyed, and how changed is everything! Before, itwas a delight to talk with his Creator, but now the sound of His voice smites him with fear and hehides. I repeat, he had done wrong, knew it, and the knowledge of his wrong doing brought fear tohis heart. That is the very reason why many in this large audience would be afraid to go this minuteinto the presence of God; they are wrong and they know it; and if Jesus should come walking up thecenter aisle and proclaim that He had come to take us to the judgment bar, the majority of thiscongregation would fall on their knees and beg for mercy, or try to hide from His presence, for thesimple fact that they know they are wrong in the sight of God.
Some one says. "Why, Mr. Williams, is not everybody afraid to meet God ?" No, sir, tenthousand times, no! Every soul here tonight who is right with God knows it, and they would not beafraid to step into His presence in the next ten seconds. They are prayed up, and paid up, andliving right in His sight; and if He came now, they would welcome Him with a shout. And, in fact,so far as their personal experiences are concerned, they are praying like John the beloved closedhis last prayer, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Hallelujah! Perfect love casteth out fear. Glory be toJesus, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. There is no fear in thehearts of those who are right in God's sight, because they know they are right with Him, and areliving to please Him, and not living to please the world or their friends.
Let me explain: There is your little brown-eyed son at home. You say to him, "Now,Tommy, be a good boy, and when I return home tonight I will bring you something nice." Justwatch that boy. He goes on his best behavior; no doubt he keeps mamma busy looking at the clockto see if it is train time; at last the whistle is heard, and there you come up the street; out he goes,with the front door in danger of losing its hinges and the gate flying open with a bang, and down thestreet he comes with curls and apron-strings flying in the air. As he nears you he calls out, "Papa,did you get it? What did you bring me?" He fairly leaps into your arms, while his little eyessparkle with anticipation of your promised word. Is he afraid of his father? No, sir! But why?Because he has obeyed father's orders and wishes, and now with the utmost confidence expectsfather to keep his word. Not a ray of fear, because he knows he has kept his father's commands.Exactly thus is it with the children of God; they keep His commandments in perfect confidence,expect Him to keep His promise, and God never breaks His promise. Heaven and earth might passaway, but the word of God is sure. Glory to God! They know they are right with Him, consequentlythere is absolutely no fear.
Now suppose Tommy had been good nearly all day, even up to a short time before youreturned, and then disobeyed. Would he have come rushing to you? I think not. You might come inand talk with mamma, but you would have to inquire for the boy, and then go to the backyard, thebarn, or upstairs to find him hiding away somewhere. What is the reason he does not come for hispresent? The child has a conscience, and he absolutely knows that he has done wrong, and not onlyforfeited his present, but incurred your displeasure by his disobedience, and is liable to receivepunishment. He has done wrong and knows it, and so does every individual in this room tonight.You know where you stand; whether you are right or wrong in the sight of God. You have aconscience, unless you have trampled on it so many times that it refuses to perform its functions. Ifthis is your case, you are indeed in a pitiful condition; but there are many in such a condition. Onceconscience was alive, alert, and tender, quick to reprove you of your misdeeds; but it is not sonow. Conscience reproved you many times about certain sins you were committing, but youthrottled and stifled those convictions and reprovals so often that conscience no longer bothersyou; there are. many things very wrong in your life, but you scarcely note them, or think of yourwickedness and coming judgment.
Let me explain. There is a little boy taught to pray at mother's knee. One day out among hisplaymates he hears them use a bad word, and soon he gets to swinging that word off his lips aseasily as they. Night comes on, playmates return home, and the little fellow turns towards thehouse. Conscience begins to tell him about that awful word he said out there. Bedtime comes."Hurry, Johnnie, come say your prayers at mother's knee." But no shoe-strings ever got into somany knots as his that night. Mother's time is all gone, and now she will listen to his prayer in bed.He begins, "Now I lay me", but there is a lump gets up in his throat, and he starts over again,skips some and stumbles along. What is the matter? Why can't the child pray? Why, conscience isthumping him, urging him to confess his wrong-doing to mother; but mother turns away. No wonderthat child has an awful dream in the night and awakes screaming. Mother has to go in and turn onthe light to make him understand that no wild beast was after him, but that it was only a dream. Oh,when morning comes he'll tell mother! But with the light comes boldness, and men are not so afraidin the daytime. The next night conscience does not warn him so hard. By and by he uses that wordagain, and while conscience condemns him, yet not so hard, and again he fights it off, until, well,perhaps he sits here listening to me preach; he has grown to be a man, but he cannot get in a crowdof men and talk five minutes concerning the questions of the day without using that same awfulword over and over, and he scarcely notices it now. Why? Because conscience does not botherhim any more concerning it. Once it did, but he throttled it and stifled it down, and now on the leastprovocation he will call on God to damn this, that, or the other, with no qualms of consciencewhatever, sinning on his way to a devil's Hell, and hardly stopping to realize it.
Do you remember the first lie you told? How conscience bothered you! It might have beenon something about your home or your business; do you remember it now? Well, did you stop then?Did conscience bother you as much on the last lie you told? That young girl lying to her mother,that young boy lying to his father, husband to wife, and neighbor to neighbor, are on their way.straight to a devil's Hell and they do not realize it. We think it awful when we read of that heathenwoman over there in dark heathenism, who takes her nursing babe from her breast and throws it tothe open-mouthed crocodiles in the river, believing in her heathen condition that she is appeasingthe wrath of her god by so doing. It seems terrible to us in this country. But I wonder how it willappear at the bar of Almighty God, alongside of the thousands of women in this enlightened land ofours who kill their offspring some months before they would be born. How will that poor heathenmother stand, or appear alongside of the women in this land who, instead of becoming mothers,calmly set themselves to destroy the young lives or even that which brings life, and cheat God andGod-given nature from accomplishing that which God arranged for it to accomplish. The first timeconscience may have thundered against the act, but it has been repeated until there are noconvictions on the subject any more, the wholesale murdering is kept up steadily, and that by folkswho even profess to be God's children. Conscience is now dead, but what a resurrection there willbe at the judgment of Almighty God! Hear Him speak: "For God will bring every work untojudgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil." Eccl. xii. 14. What will theconscience have to say then?
Adam had a conscience, and it pricked him to the quick, and the knowledge of his actbrought fear; he tried to hide from God, and that brings us to the third part of our text.
Thirdly: "Adam hiding, or the miserable subterfuge men give today for not serving God.What a fool Adam was to undertake to hide from God! He ought to have known that He who couldspeak a world into existence, settle each star in its place, and call all wherein was the breath oflife into being, could look through a piece of shrubbery; and yet we find men as foolish today. "Iwould be a Christian, but there are so many hypocrites." True, there are; but there can be nocounterfeit until we have the reality; and because there are counterfeit Christians, thank God thereare some who are real. But who is worse, the hypocrite, or the one making such excuses and hidingbehind them? They are both bound for the same pit, on the same road. The only difference is thatthe real out-and-out hypocrite is a little ahead of the one behind him.
In a meeting in Vermont some time ago, we noticed a large man seated to our left, whosehead dropped lower and lower under the searchlight of God's truth. He put his hands on the back ofthe pew in front of him and buried his face in his hands. We went and asked him to give himself toGod, and he replied, "I would were it in any other church than this one." Some one connected withthat church had done him an injury and he would not come; knew he ought to, but that man was inhis way. "Is that your only excuse for not going to the altar tonight and giving yourself to God?" weasked. "Yes," he replied, "that is my only excuse; I would, only for that hypocrite." We urged himnot to mind, but he finally said, "Excuse me, Mr. Williams, I cannot go with that man in here." Isaid, "All right, I'll excuse you. If you want to go to Hell with that hypocrite, you may go. I'llexcuse you. Now bow your head and tell God what you have told me; that you are unsaved, thatyou know it, that you know He is calling you, that you realize it, but because there is a man in thehouse living a hypocritical life and he has wronged you, because of that you turn your back on theChrist who died for you, you'll go to Hell with the hypocrite; then ask God to excuse you." In a fewmoments he dropped like a bag of sand at the altar and begged God to forgive and save. Therottenness of his flimsy excuse had dawned upon him. And just so rotten are all the excuses menmake for not giving up sin. They know they are wrong, but grasp at anything to get away from God;but He sees them just the same.
Fourthly: I want you to hear God calling, "Where art thou?" There are several classes Iwould like to mention as quickly as I can. First, I would like to ask the sinner here tonight, in thelight of this plain truth, "Where art thou?" Out on the great stormy sea, masts broken, sails inshreds, compass lost and steering apparatus disarranged, tossed here and there it the dark night ofsin, lost on the sea of time and without hope, "Where art thou?" The sinner absolutely has no hope.His only hope is Christ, and Christ he has rejected; consequently he has no hope. I do not believethere are many in this Bible land of ours but who know they are wrong, and have heard that Jesuscame to save from sin. But if they have heard and not accepted it, they have deliberately rejectedthe only hope and are going straight down to a devil's Hell, swept on by the awful bent to sin thatlies in their very nature. They have cursed, lied, and stolen, gotten angry and given vent to thatinbred damnable thing in them, taken the name of God in vain, sinned and sinned, and are sweepingon to an awful doom. Many a boy is wading knee-deep through a mother's tears: many a girlstrumming on her father's heart-strings; unsaved husbands crushing out the lives of pleading wives;while groans from thousands upon thousands of the blighted and blasted ones are coming up beforeGod, who sends me here with this message, "Sinner, Where art thou?"
A second class I would mention is the professor; he who professes to be God's child, butwho has never quit his sins, consequently has never been "born again." In our lesson tonight weread, "He that is born of God doth not commit sin." "Where art thou?" You profess to be God'schild, but you know you never have been "born again." You cannot point back to the place nor timewhen you threw up your hands and abandoned sin of all kinds, and stopped all your worldliness.This you never have done, and yet you have been passing yourself off to be a child of God. You goin worldly society, play cards, or go to the dance, the theater, or perhaps to Sunday baseball,smoke or chew, and still try to palm yourself off on this poor old world as a Christian; but sinceyou never gave up your sin, your life has been a living falsehood before God and holy men andwomen. Poor lost humanity has looked upon your life and known of your profession and could seeno difference between your life and other people's. Sir, I want to ask you, What will you say at thejudgment, when you are called before the bar of God for basely misrepresenting Christ on earth.No doubt, honest souls have been turned away from seeking God; when sick of sin they have turnedto find peace, and, knowing of your profession, have looked at you, and seeing no differencebetween your life and theirs, they turned away from religion in disgust, and tonight they may be inHell awaiting your coming. Long ere this they know the truth concerning your profession. You havedared to mingle with God's people and put your name with theirs, and make your empty profession.What will you say to God at the judgment for so basely misrepresenting the cause for which HisSon gave His heart's blood? I call to you before it is too late, "Where art thou?"
A third class of whom I desire to ask this question is the backslider. Not every one socalled is a backslider. In the language of Amanda Smith many of them never front-slid. They nevergave up their sins, consequently they were never converted, or "born again." But there are thosewho have been really and genuinely converted, who have backslidden and gone back to the world.I indeed feel sorry for the real backslider, for unless he gets back to God he can never haveanother day's happiness, nor a moment's peace. He has been completely spoiled for this world.Better for himself, even in this world, had he never started for the kingdom. He is a sad-hearted,discontented, never-to-be-satisfied being. Of all conditions in this life, his is the worst and mostwretched. Added to all this, he is a stumbling-block to all about him, and a stench in the nostrils of.God. I want to say to that father sitting there, who is a backslider, if your children ever knew ofyour profession, or heard you pray, you are now being used by the devil to damn your ownoffspring. I can say the same thing to that backslidden mother. However you may hate me for tellingyou the truth, yet I must be faithful to you, and to the Christ who has sent me to proclaim His truth.The backslider is a curse to the community he dwells in.
Allow me to explain. There are two friends, Jones and Brown. Jones gets saved and startsto live a clean life; gives up all his wrong doing, quits his dirty, vile habits, tobacco, cards,lodges, and everything vile and unclean he throws away. God plants the kiss of pardon on hischeek and the sunlight breaks in upon his soul; he is happy, shouts and sings, "Hallelujah, 'tisdone," and goes on his way rejoicing in his new-found joy. His life puts Brown under conviction;he finally begins to leave off his bad habits, and becomes a secret seeker after a better life. Hewatches Jones, and says, "I want the same kind of religion Jones has." One day he sees something alittle shady about Jones, and after awhile finds out that he has gone back to his tobacco, and someother things; and finally Jones comes out with many of his old habits, backslidden. Brown losesconfidence in Jones, in his religion, and finally in the Christ that Jones professes to serve, gives upall confidence in the question, loses all conviction, and may be tonight dead and in Hell, and all onaccount of Jones' backsliding. I call out to any backslider in the congregation tonight, "Where artthou?"
Just one more that class is made up of those who have been born again, converted people,Christians, God's children. I want to call your attention to two verses of Scripture, the first ofwhich you will find to be the last verse of the first chapter of James, and which reads, "Purereligion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows intheir affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Do you do this? Are you separateand distinct from the world, or are you mixed up with it? Do you seek worldly people for yourassociates? Are you mixed up with some worldly secret society, largely composed of godless andunsaved men? Do you look to the world for your enjoyment? Do you go where worldly people go?Or, are you separate and distinct from the world? The Book says, that whosoever will be a friendof the world is an enemy of God. and the Revised Version gives it thus, "Whosoever thereforewould be a friend of the world, maketh himself an enemy of God." "Where art thou" in the light ofthis truth? Are you friendly with the world; do you wish to be so? "Where art thou?" The otherverse I want you to notice is the 23rd verse of the 5th chapter of First Thessalonians, Paul's prayer,"The very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and bodybe preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." I only want one word out of thatverse tonight, and that is the word blameless. I say, are you doing your best for God? If yourneighbor, who may be unsaved, dies and goes to Hell while you are at this meeting, could Godhold you blameless at the judgment bar? Have you done your best to save that neighbor? Does yourlife so speak that he can see God in it? Are you unspotted from the world? "Where art thou?"
Let me ask that Sunday school superintendent sitting there, or that Sunday school teacher,what about your pupils, what are you teaching them; a bit of history; a few biblical, historicalfacts, or The spiritual meaning of God's book? Suppose one of those scholars dies and goes to thehome of lost souls while you are here in this meeting, could God hold you blameless at thejudgment? Have you done your best to lead them to God? Come, answer this question, "Where artthou?"' Let me ask this question of the preachers present, and press the question, for what.tremendous responsibility rests upon the preacher of the Gospel! Do you preach the full truthregarding the awful consequences of their deeds to those who commit sin? Do you tell one and allthat God can save them from it? Do you faithfully deal with the backslidden in heart? I ask you thisquestion in the light of the approaching judgment, "Where art thou.'' Suppose some member of yourcongregation drops dead and sinks into a devil's hell while you are attending this meeting, couldGod hold you blameless? Have you done your best to faithfully warn him? Could he face you at thejudgment and charge you with a neglect of duty? I press this question, "Where art thou?"
Finally, I would ask that father there about his boy. What about your life before him, if hedies while you are in this meeting and comes up before God, can God hold you blameless? Haveyou done your duty to that boy? If he followed in your footsteps would they lead him to Holinessand to Heaven?
And that mother there, what about your experience? That daughter of yours, if she diedbefore you ever saw her face again, could you meet her unflinchingly before the throne? If hername was not found written in the book of life, could God hold you blameless? Come on, answerthis call, "Where art thou?"
One illustration and I am done. Some years ago I was assisting a pastor in one of thelargest churches in northern New York. I was upstairs in the pastor's study, lying on a sofa, whenthe pastor came in and tossed me a paper and went out again. I began reading and read thefollowing from the pen of a noted minister. He said, "In a small mountain village of some four orfive hundred inhabitants there lived a young girl of some eighteen years of age; her given name wasMay. She was a bright, cheerful girl, whom everybody loved. One day she was taken quite ill andin four or five days died. The funeral was such a sad one. At the cottage home a number of herfriends tried to sing, but broke down in tears; the minister of the church of which she was amember, could scarcely read a lesson from the Scripture. At the close a number of younggentlemen friends bore the casket across the road to the village cemetery and the services werethere concluded. Everything seemed so sad. As the sexton had about finished his duty, and thegrave was being rounded up, a lady stepped out and knelt down by the newly made mound andbegan weeping bitterly. The pastor knelt down by her side and said, 'Now, Sister, come away, anddo not weep. Four years she was a member of your Sunday school class and you did your best tolead her to God, but the woman only wept the more bitterly, and finally between her sobs said,'Oh! if I could only feel that I had done my duty, but I have not. For some months past I feared Maywas backsliding. She did not care for her lessons and seemed so light and trifling that I feared forher; and as her Sunday school teacher I felt it was my duty to deal with her; but I kept putting it offuntil now she is gone, and I fear she is in a backslider's grave, and because I have not done myduty.' The pastor, too, began to sob and when able to control his emotions said, 'I have aconfession to make. For over a year I have noticed May and realized that she was losing outspiritually, and as her pastor I felt it to be my duty to deal with her about her soul; but she alwaysseemed so light and gay that I kept putting it off, until, oh, God! it is too late.' And he bowed hishead and sobbed bitterly, but finally said, 'Let us ask God to forgive us, and go from this gravedetermined to do our full duty hereafter.'
A few days later, thinking he might receive some balm for his aching heart, he went downto her home, but on his entrance the mother had to leave the room to weep. He finally asked the.father what was the spiritual condition of May when taken ill, and the father replied: 'For nearlytwo years May has been a backslider; mother and I thought we would deal with her on her lastbirthday, but she had the house full of company, and we put the matter off again and again, until wesaid, 'If she does not change, we will deal with her on her next birthday, but oh, God! we buriedher on her birthday, and she is now fill a backslider's grave!'"
Friends, when I read that article, I rolled off from that sofa to my knees and began pleadingwith God to help me always to do my duty, and while in that position, on my knees, I seemed to beat the judgment; there were multitudes of people, and in the center and above was the great whiteThrone. The name of May was called; a young lady stepped out before the Throne, and the angelicrecorder opened a book and began searching its pages. Just then there were four people whoseemed compelled by some unseen power, to be forced out from the great throng and to stand atone side near the girl; they did not want to come out, and seemed to struggle against doing so; butsome unseen power forced them out. Finally the recorder looked up and said, "Her name is notfound in the Book of Life." He that sat upon the Throne said, "He that is filthy, let him be filthystill," and then with a scream the young girl turned and, facing the four, charged a preacher, aSunday school teacher, and a father and a mother with her damnation. I can never forget that hour,there on my knees in that pastor's study. I pledged God I would speak the full truth as I understoodit, at any cost. I have endeavored to do that tonight. May God help you tonight if you are not right,or have not been doing right, no matter who you are, either on or off this platform, to fall at thealtar and ask God to put you right with himself, and to promise him that at any loss, at any cross,and at any cost, you will give up sin of all kinds, either of omission or commission, and walk inevery ray of light He gives you. Brother, friend, this is the only way to Heaven. I pray God youwill settle this matter and settle it now.