BE NOT WEARY IN WELL-DOING
Evangelist Sam Jones- Famous Methodist Preacher
The last sermon Sam Jones preached before he died was one called "Sudden Death."
Speaking of his own death in that sermon, he said, "When my last moment comes, I will go hometo God, happy as any school boy who ever went home from school."
WE INVITE YOUR ATTENTION TO THE 9TH VERSE OF THE 6th chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians:
"And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."
This exhortation may be wisely and prayerfully considered by us now. Moral forces necessarily move slowly. This city has been wicked for forty years, and if you think it can be brought to God in a day you know nothing of moral forces and how they operate. This exhortation comes in with a good deal of force upon us here to-night: "Let us not weary in well-doing, for in due season-"
There's the promise-"for in due season we shall reap it if we faint not."
Well, now, this very verse, like some verse of almost every chapter in the Bible, is a key to the whole chapter. This chapter before us is a great palace of Scripture truth and this text is a key. I take this text and I walk up to the front door of this great palace of truth and I unlock the front door and walk in, and the first thing my eye falls upon is this: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness."
Then I find from the lesson of to-night that the first well-doing of every Christian man is to ignore himself, and that of every good man to live for others. If there is anything incompatible with Christianity it is selfishness. If there is anything that Christianity fights and would have you and me put out of the way it is selfishness. And hell itself is nothing but pure, unadulterated, concentrated selfishness. There is not an intolerable element in hell itself that has not in it every element of selfishness. No man is in a position to do for others until he can get himself out of the way. The greatest man I ever saw was the most unselfish man. The smallest man I ever saw was the most selfish. There is a little preacher on a small circuit in Georgia who, when I walk up into his presence grows and expands and develops, and I commence to whittle. and whittle down until I feel like a mole-hill by a mountain, and do you know why that man seems so great and I seem so small? It is because when I look into his face I look into the face of the most unselfish man my eyes ever looked upon. Why, he don't care anything for himself. His last thought at night is: "How can I benefit somebody to-morrow?" and his first thought in the morning, "Where may I go and what may I do to benefit some one to-day?"
This world is run on selfish principles. "How much enjoyment may I get out of this, and how much profit out of that, and how much will I lose by the other." Selfishness always defeats itself-never carries its point. You let a man live for himself, and lay up money for himself, and provide for himself, and let all the world go. "Let all the world go, but I am going to lay up for myself." Why such a man as that defeats his very end. In our State a man spent his life laying up for his old age. He said, "I'm never going to want. I'm going to lay up for my old age." He laid up $200,000, and to illustrate his state of mind, one of his neighbors was over at his house one day, and they were talking about one thing and another, and directly the neighbor said, "Well, how are you off for meat?" The old rich fellow said, "Well, I've got a smokehouse full now and hogs enough to make me meat this fall, and pigs enough to make it full afterwards, but what in the world I am to do after that I can't tell!" That old fellow was starving to death with three year's rations on hand.
Selfishness! Live for self, love for self, work for self, and let all the world go. Now, that sort of spirit is at enmity with Christianity, and I assure you that Christianity is at enmity with a spirit like that. Our Lord taught us a great lesson in unselfishness. Do you know that around all the broad acres of this world Jesus of Nazareth never staked Him off a single acre and told the world, "That's mine"? Do you know that amid all the palaces of earth Jesus looked out and said: "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but I have nowhere to lay my head"? Do you know that, amid all the coin on earth, Jesus, when pressed for His taxes, sent His disciples to a fish's mouth to get money to pay them? We see that unselfish One as He arises in the morning, and after a simple breakfast at the home of Mary and Martha, walks out on the streets of the city, and over here He is giving sight to a blind man, and over there He is healing the sick, and over there He is cleansing a leper, and in the afternoon He meets a j widow bearing her son to the tomb to bury him, and He takes the son by the hand and lifts him back into his mother's loving arms, and, amid the shouts of praise from the mother's lips, He presses His way until He reaches the farthest suburbs of the city, and then He stops by the roadside and sits down and leans His head on His aching arm, and says: "This is the first time I have thought of myself since I got up this morning. I have just been thinking about others; how I could benefit others; how I could do for others; I have been hunting the blind; I have been seeking the sick; I have been comforting the disconsolate." Oh, Christl Thy life was written in a single sentence: "He went about doing good." And the man who is most like Christ is the man that spends most of the hours of his life just like Christ did, going about doing good.
Now, the first lesson of this text tells us:
Brethren, if a man be taken in a fault, ye which are spiritual go and restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself also lest thou be tempted.
I used to think there was a great deal of difference, after all, in our churches and in the membership of our churches. I have thought, after all, we have got our first-class members and our second-class members and our tenth-rate members, and all that sort of thing. But, brethren, the great trouble is, we can hardly find a whole man among us. We have got pieces enough to make a thousand, but they won't fit. We file and saw and chip and plug, and yet here we are to-day without a whole man in the city of St. Louis.
Now, we say: "There are a great many different sorts of members in the church." I grant you that. There is one brother. He says: "I declare, if you don't turn out these dancing members, I'm going to quit the church. I won't live in a church with dancing members." You see, he don't dance. But I tell you what he will do every day-loan his money at twenty per cent. interest; and God says that the man who will do that ain't fit for the church, and will never go to heaven. Here's another brother. He's got no money to loan, and he despises dancing, but you can tote him right into hell with a demijohn, he does love liquor so. Here's another member of the church. He don't drink and don't lend money at usury, and don't dance, but he will skin you nine times out of ten when you go to trade with him, and I want to say this: You will never know how much real, genuine scriptural hell fire there is in a good trade till you get to hell. And I tell you another thing: We can sort of put up with a fellow that sins like we sin, but when he does something we won't do, we are ashamed of him right straight. I declare, I never see a man doing anything wrong that I don't get off to myself, and bury my face in my hands, and say: "Look a-herel You may not sin like that man, but are you not doing something just as bad in the sight of God?" I say we can put up with a man as long as he sins like we do, but when he does something we won't do, then we'll fall out with him right there, and say: "That man won't do."
Now, I like this position. If there is in your church an incorrigible backslider, then every man in it has backslidden. You say: "How do you know that?" Well, sir, the spirit that will make you neglect a backslidden brother, I don't care what else you do, or what else you don't do, that spirit will make you backslide in spite of all you can do. For if Christianity is anything, it is brotherly kindness in all its living, active force; and if I have no more of the spirit of Christ than to let a brother stray off and off and off and finally be lost, then I have none at all of the spirit of Christ. Now, here we are, the churches in this town looking to see a gracious revival and thousands of souls turned to God. They would like to see millions of people brought to Christ. Well, brother, it is one thing to bring a soul to Christ, and it is another thing to look after him after he gets there. Take an instance like this, happening in Rome, Ga. The pastor of the leading church in that city told me the incident. He said that a young man, perhaps twentytwo or twenty-three years old, was dying with consumption, and just the day before he died the young man said: "Brother L--, you are my pastor. I belong to your church. I joined your church three years ago, and I have tried to live right and do my duty; but," said he, "brother I-, not a single member of your church ever opened his mouth to me on the subject of religion. Not one came to me to speak a word of comfort or a word of cheer to me or a word of encouragement. And say to your church as you preach at my funeral, that, with 360 odd members, they have never been any help to me. And tell them, when I am dead and gone, never to do to any poor boy as they have done to me-just leave him to himself, and tell him to rough it." And I tell you to-day, from all the Christian churches in this country, men and women have strayed off, and made their way to hell that you never opened your mouth to on the subject of religion.
Oh, what a sad thought in human historyl The brotherhood in Christ Jesus, the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of the whole race. I declare to you to-day, there is nothing that I wouldn't do for my brother; there is nothing that I wouldn't sacrifice for my sister; there is no place at the table too good for my brother; there is no room in my house too good for my sister. And I say to you all that the brotherly kindness and the brotherly love that ought to be manifested one toward another have well-nigh died out from the face of the earth. Instead of helping each other and joining hands and marching like a band of brothers all through the world, there are members of different churches that don't know a dozen members of the same church they belong to. I have told them sometimes that I expect if they were to get to heaven-if they were fortunate enough to get there-the angels would be kept busy several years introducing them to one another.
If a Mason were to come here to St. Louis, and he needed assistance and needed help, and he was a Methodist as well as a Mason, which would he go to for help, the Methodist Church or the Masonic fraternity? If a man were an Odd Fellow and a Baptist, to which class would he go to get means to follow his journey? Would he go to the Odd Fellows or go to the Baptists? Ah, brother, the Irishman told a great truth when he said, "If there was a little more of the milk of human kindness in this world what a grand world would we have." I tell you, I had frequently rather go to a wholesale liquor dealer to get help than go to some members of the church.
And we can never accomplish what we ought to as a church unless this spirit of self-sacrifice, and of brotherly kindness and love shall take possession of us. [Here the speaker told of a lawyer, some fifty years of age, who joined the church of which he was pastor, in one of the wickedest counties in Georgia.]
And that man has never backslidden an inch in his life since he joined the church. An old brother at a camp-meeting once turned to me and said: "Jones, haven't you been a wonderful backslider in your day?" Said I: "I don't know. Why?" "Well," he says, "you seem to know more backsliders than I ever saw in my life." "Well," said I,. "brother, I ought to begin to know something about them. I have never associated with any other sort since I joined the church." A fellow will learn something once in a while if he will keep eyes and ears open. Now, why was it this.
lawyer brother never backslid an inch? Do you want to know why? He literally spent his life in looking after backsliders. Shortly after he joined the church he commenced working with the brethren. If he saw two members of the church quarreling on the street, no matter what church they belonged to, he went out and put his hand on each's shoulder and said: "You are my brother. You are brethren to one another. You mustn't quarrel or fuss. If this is a question of financial difference I will pay the money out of my own pocket before I will see brothers fussing." And if a member of the church went into a grocery to get a drink he ran right in after him-not to take a drink with him, like some of you do, but to bring him out of there. And he walked into the grocery, and said he: "My brother, don't drink that, because Christian people ought not to drink. I used to drink when I was a child of the devil, but we can't drink whisky and be religious. My brother, walk out of here." And he would carry the brother out of there.
And if a member of the church got so drunk on the street that he could not walk home, he would say to another man, "Here is my brother drunk on the street, will you help to carry him down to the house with me? And he would carry that poor drunken fellow down to his house and say a word to his wife-the Major called his wife Sister Martha and Mary-and she was the best Martha I most ever saw, and she was the best Mary I think I ever saw. She was good on both sides. She would sit at the Saviour's feet and when she came to housekeeping everything about her home would shine-and he would say, "Sister Martha and Mary, here is one of our brothers slipped up; he's done a little wrong; fix a bed; let us put our brother to bed." And he would be put to bed and the Major would sit by his side and say to his wife, "Fix a nice cup of coffee for our brother to drink when he wakes, and I'll pick out a few verses of Scripture to read to him, and I think he won't get drunk any more." And when he would wake up the Major would say to him, "Now, drink some of Sister Martha and Mary's coffee." And then he would show her the washstand and towel and invite her to wash the dirt off his face, and when he was straightened up he would kneel down by her and pray; "God help my brother. He has made a little slip, being tempted, but I don't think he'll do it any more." And he never had to take a man to his house but once. The first dose of that treatment generally fetched them.
A sister may say, "Ah, me ! I would have no drunken dog in my bedl" That is because you are a good Sister Martha, but you are a failure as a Mary.
The Lord Jesus Christ lay out on that mountain top, bleak and dark and dreary, for forty days and forty nights, and suffered for you; the Lord Jesus Christ wept and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, with a bloody sweat bursting from His body, and expired on Calvary for you, and there you are, claiming to have the spirit of Christ, and you would not soil one of your snow-white counterpanes to save a soul from hell! Do you call that religion? Ah, me! We've got to be different if we ever do anything. We go to church and sing.
Christ gave his life for me,
And then we'll break out on the next line-
What have we done for him?
Just like we had done everything. And then we'll take up the next verse-
Christ suffered much for me,
And then we'll break out on the next line-
What have I suffered for him?
And there seems to be an exultation of soul as we strike that second line. Brother, sister, look at the life and character of Jesus Christ. Take the life and character of Paull Take the life and character of those men who rotted to death in dungeons, and who died at the stake, and who were imprisoned and striped and abused for you and me, and then let us look how our hands have grown soft and white, and our own personal interest has absorbed all our energies and all our efforts.
I'll tell you where the rub is. There is a member of the church, and here is a poor drunkard; he walks up and gives his heart to God and joins the church, and that member of the church sits back there and shakes his head, "Oh, my soul! I wish that fellow hadn't joined our church"; and then, about three months after that, the poor fellow has tried to be faithful, but fell under temptation, and then the brother meets the preacher, and he tells him: "I knew you ought not to take that man into our church; I knew when he joined he would be disgracing our church." And I will tell you another thing: That poor fellow lying there in the gutter is a gentleman and a scholar and a Christian beside that old Pharisee, who stands by the side of him and says, "Just look at that! Just look at that!"
I will tell you, we got too much just such Phariseeism in this city as that. My Godl help us to see that Jesus Christ died for the poorest and meanest wretch that ever walked on the face of the earth, and we can do nothing that can glorify Christ more than to put our arms around a poor, ruined wretch and bring him to God. And I praise my Saviour, now and forever, that He is able and willing, and an seems more willing, to save the lowest, meanest man on earth than any other character that lives. That man may be so mean that the common people on the street kick him out of their way; the barrooms have kicked him out the door; his very wife has fled from him; but Christ says to all of us, when our father and mother forsake us, then He will takes us up. Oh, Christ! let the race of man be as good to each other as thou art good to us!
In the Fifth and Walnut Church at Louisville, Ky., two years ago, one night during a revival meeting, fifteen men came up and took the front seats, and those fifteen men on that front pew were the very imps of the devil. I never looked, and no man ever looked, at such men in a church of God. Now, how about those fifteen men? The pastor of that church-one of the sweetest-spirited, most Christly men I ever saw-he went to each one and took his name and said to him, "You remain here after this service." There sat the son of old Col. , who had been drunk on the streets of Louisville for twenty years; and here was another, one of the worst reprobates that ever walked the face of the earth; and here was another, and there was another; and there the fifteen men sat, the very imps of the devil, at the very gates of hell, and that preacher took their names and asked them to remain. He took his board of stewards and said, after services: "Now, let us take these fifteen men to the bathroom, and let us take them to the clothing house and let us put clothes on them and have them made respectable and win them to Christ." And I was at that Louisville church just fifteen months after that. Now, how about the fifteen? One of them had died-had gone home to heaven; one of them had backslid, and thirteen of the most earnest workers at the Fifth and Walnut Church came off that front bench that I have been talking to you about, and the son of Col. , a bookkeeper for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and that same man would jump up in the meeting, now and then, and say: "Glory to Godl I get up to say that God has saved the lowest sinner that lived in Louisville."
God help us to go out among the wharf rats and the degraded of this town and bring them to Christ. Poor fellows, how sorry we ought to be for theml They are kicked and cuffed about by humanity, and they toil every day for the meat they eat at night, and for the poor, cold house, and the shivering wife, and the ragged children. God help us to do what we can for those poor, degraded menl And when we see such a spirit as that among you all, then you may look for God to touch this city with a power that will move it from center to circumference.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual go and restore him. It is not your business to criticize or say: "Just look how that man has degraded the church and disgraced Christianity," but it is your business to go out to him, and rescue him, and bring him back to God. There are many members of the church strayed off to-night and are wandering away from God that would have been good, active members of the church if you had been a brother, indeed, to them. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual go and restore him." Why? If you don't you will backslide yourself. The spirit that makes you neglect your brother will make you backslide inevitably. Bishop Marvin, the noble man that died in your midst, related an incident how faithful class leaders cared for a poor drunken man and straightened him up, and brought him to God, and took him into the church, and labored with him, and labored for him, and had him praying night and morning in his family, and how that man moved out farther west, and how that man lived right there for several months, and how his wife wrote back to the noble class leaders and said to them: "My husband died happy last night and said, `Write it back to my faithful class leaders there is another sinner saved by Christ.' "
Brethren, let us look to our Christianity. Does it send us out to those that need us? Is it bringing others to Christ through us? Are we spending and being spent year after year in the great work of seeing that souls are marching home to God?
Then I take this key and open it into another apartment of this chapter, and I read this: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
I see in the Church of God that all of its duties rest on a few in all the churches. If you want any praying done, call on Brother A; if you want any paying done, call on Brother B, and all that sort of thing. And I want to tell you, we can never make the church what it ought to be until every man shall bear one another's burdens. We must do our part in all the phases of church work. I will tell how the thing stands now. You go about through the community and you will find the phases of church work. I will tell how the thing stands now. You go about through the community and you will find the whole of the church up in the wagon-the whole thing; some of them up there laughing, some dancing, some cursing, some shouting, some praying-the whole thing up in the wagon and the poor little preacher out in the shafts trying to pull the thing to glory, and every little while some fellow up in the wagon will say, "Tap him up a bit! Move him up a little, boysl" and feeding him on wheat straw all the year round. No horse ever made 2:40 on wheat straw.
Bear ye one another's burdens. Listenl If I were to go fishing to-morrow with four men, and we were to buy twenty-five cents' worth of lard to fry our fish, and we had to get wood to fry them, and prepare them to fry, if i didn't pay my five cents of that quarter, and I didn't get my part of the wood, and do my part of the cleaning of the fish, I would not consider myself a gentleman, much less a Christian. If I was a member of any church in this town, and I didn't do my part of the paying and my part of the praying and my part of the everything that was done, I wouldn't consider myself a gentleman, much less a Christian. The shirks and sharks in the church! And the shirk don't run long until he turns to the shark. He will shirk every day, and like the old shark he'll eat everything within a mile of him. There's a good deal of that sort going on in the world. And I will tell you where all the growling comes in. These fellows that don't pay any and don't pray any, they are the growlers, and there ought to be an addition to every church in this country, and call it "The Growler," and run them in there. If there is anything in the world I have got a contempt for it is to see two or three fellows sitting back in a Pullman sleeper with a dead-head ticket in their pockets quarreling with the conductor about how he is pulling the train.
Bear a part in the great work of bringing the world to God.
Then I take this same key and open into another apartment and read this: "For if a man think himself something, when he is [or when he does] nothing, he deceiveth himself."
What a man does is the test of what a man is. If what a man does is not a test of what a man is, then what a man pays is the test of what a man is. I can put up with a fellow in the church that won't do anything, but who'll pay well.. There ain't a railroad in heaven or earth that don't charge extra for a sleeper, and you ought to pay it. That's the truth about it. I believe in doing the thing yourself or hiring somebody else to do it. I will either pray every time they call on me at church, or I will have a fellow there paid by the month to do my praying-one or the other. And that's the only honest way to get out of it, sir. You've got a good many elements of the hog in you if you don't run it that way. I declare to you this shirking spirit-want all, all, all that can come to you and yet never give back anything-is too prevalent in the church to-day. And a man gets out of his religion just in proportion to what he puts into it. I used to be pastor; and I'll tell you another thing, I never had a member of my church in my life that would not pray in public and pray in his family, that was any account-never did.
What a man does is the test of what he is. If he runs on that line, there is the test. If he runs on this line, there is the test; and if a man thinks he must be doing something when he is doing nothing, he deceiveth himself. What an engine does is a test of what an engine is. When the president of the Wabash road writes to Mr. Rogers, at his locomotive works, and says: "I want an engine that will pull twenty cars up a grade of so many feet to the mile," Mr. Rogers sends an engine. They couple twenty cars to it and start it up the grade, but it stands stock still, and the president of the railroad telegraphs to Mr. Rogers: "Come after -our engine; I don't want it." Mr. Rogers comes. They walk up to the engine and he says: "Look at that cab; it's the nicest cab ever sent out of the shop. Look at that bright piston rod how it glistens in the sunshine. Look at those magnificent driving wheels." The president replies, "I never said anything to you about cabs or piston rods or driving wheels. I want an engine that will take these cars up that grade." Another engine is built and it is ready for the trial. They fire her up until the gauge indicates 160 pounds pressure to the square inch. The engineer opens the throttle. The engine starts up hill, moving the cars with it, and when it turns the grade it seems to say, "I could have pulled up ten more cars if you had put them on the train." The president says, "That is what we want."
God does not want you because you live in a four-story house. He does not want you because you have the finest turnout in town. He does not want you because you are president of the leading bank. But God wants you for what you can do. Sister, God does not want you for how you can dress your children or how you can bang your hair. God wants you for what you can do.
There are some things you cannot delegate to another. I have a contempt for those folks who, when I go to their house, want me to conduct family prayers for them, and who never have any at any other time. Somehow, there is always something that will let the secret out. If a fellow is not in the habit of praying with his family you can always find it out without asking the question. An old preacher once went to a place like that. They asked him to read a chapter of the Bible and pray with them. After he had read a chapter of the Scriptures they all knelt down, and as they did so all the cats jumped out of the window. They had never seen anything like that before, and they did not know what was happening. I expect there is many a professing Christian in this house at whose home prayer is so great a stranger that if you were to pray with them the cats would jump out of the window. It is something unusual with them. I really believe some of us are like the man I once heard Dr. Young tell of. He awoke one morning and said to himself: "I have been a member of the church for fifteen years, and I have never been religious a single day." Afterward he lay there thinking and finally said, "I am going to put this day over as a Christian man. I am going to do my best this day to be religious." He got up out of his bed, and, kneeling down beside it, said, "Oh, Lord, help me to be a Christian this day. Help me this day to live aright." Then he rose from his knees, and before the breakfast bell rang he called his wife and family into the family room and said, "Take your seats. I'm going to read a chapter with you all. I have never lived religious one day in my life, but by God's grace I am going to put one day over religiously." Then he read a chapter of the Bible and offered up prayer. After breakfast he bade his wife and children good-by pleasantly. He was kind to all his clerks during the day, and gentle in all his transactions. He came back to dinner, and when he sat down he said grace-a "blessing," as we say-at his table. I like that, too. A man who will sit down to his table before his children and eat, without returning thanks to the Good Provider of all things, that fellow is eleven-tenths hog. All the human in him is turned to hog, and he is, at best, eleven-tenths hog. He sat down to his table and asked a blessing, and after dinner he said, "Wife, will you please fix up this half-broiled chicken here; make some nice toast, and will you arrange it nicely on a waiter for Brother Johnson, living down here. He has been paralyzed two years. He is a member of our church, and I have not been to see him. I have not paid any attention to him, but if you fix up these things nicely on a waiter I will take them down to him." The waiter was fixed up, and he took it down to the sick brother. Then he said: "If you have a Bible I will read to you," and he read: "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want." Then he knelt down and prayed heaven's blessing on the poor sick fellow. That night he held family prayer in his own home, and after they had gone to bed, his sons Bill and Tom, who slept in the next room, with the door open between, began talking. Tom hunched Bill in the side and said: "Bill, the old man's going to die"; and Bill said: "How do you know, Tom?" "Why," said Tom, "don't you see he is getting pious?"
Let me tell you, there is many a Christian in this town whose children, if he were to go home and resolve to be religious for one day, would punch one another in the short ribs and say, "The old man is going to die."
And now let us go away and think about the part we are to take in this great work. "How am I to prepare myself, and what shall I do, in order that God may carry on and bless this work?" And now, brethren, Christian brethren of all churches, if you have it in your hearts will you stand squarely on your feet and say, "God helping me, I intend to live an unselfish Christian. I intend to try to be a good man and to help others to be good"? Will everybody of every church that feels that way stand up? Well, thank God for such a house as that, and may God inspire you to lead a better life. And may the blessing of Almighty God abide with you for ever and ever. Amen.