Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 14:23.
Are you still cold and indifferent? Will not the blind man permit me to lead him to the feast? Will not my maimed brother put his hand upon my shoulder and permit me to assist him to the banquet? Will not the poor man allow me to walk side-by-side with him? Must I use some stronger words? Must I use some other compulsion to compel you to come in? Sinners, this one thing I am resolved upon this morning if you be not saved ye shall be without excuse. Ye, from the grey-headed down to the tender age of childhood, if ye this day lay not hold on Christ, your blood shall be on your own head. If there be power in man to bring his fellow, (as there is when a man is helped by the Holy Spirit) that power shall be exercised this morning, God helping me.
Come, I am not to be put off by your rebuffs; if my exhortation fails, I must come to something else. My brother, I entreat you, I entreat you to stop and consider. Do you know what it is you are rejecting this morning? You are rejecting Christ, your only Savior. “Other foundation can no man lay;” “there is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved.” My brother, I cannot bear that ye should do this, for I remember what you are forgetting: the day is coming when you will want a Saviour. It is not long ere weary months shall have ended, and your strength begins to decline: your pulse shall fail you, your strength shall depart, and you and the grim monster—death, must face each other. What will you do in the swellings of Jordan without a Savior? Deathbeds are stony things without the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is an awful thing to die anyhow; he that hath the best hope, and the most triumphant faith, finds that death is not a thing to laugh at. It is a terrible thing to pass from the seen to the unseen, from the mortal to the immortal, from time to eternity, and you will find it hard to go through the iron gates of death without the sweet wings of angels to conduct you to the portals of the skies.
It will be a hard thing to die without Christ. I cannot help thinking of you. I see you acting suicide this morning, and I picture myself standing at your bedside and hearing your cries and knowing that you are dying without hope. I cannot bear that. I think I am standing by your coffin now, and looking into your clay-cold face, and saying. “This man despised Christ and neglected the great salvation.” I think what bitter tears I shall weep then if I think that I have been unfaithful to you, and how those eyes fast closed in death, shall seem to chide me and say, “Minister, I attended the music hall, but you were not in earnest with me; you amused me, you preached to me, but you did not plead with me. You did not know what Paul meant when he said, `As though God did beseech you by us we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’“
I entreat you to let this message enter your heart for another reason. I picture myself standing at the bar of God. As the Lord liveth, the day of judgment is coming. Do you believe that? You are not an infidel; your conscience would not permit you to doubt the Scripture. Perhaps you may have pretended to do so, but you cannot. You feel there must be a day when God shall judge the world in righteousness. I see you standing during that throng, and the eye of God is fixed on you. It seems to you that he is not looking anywhere else, but only upon you, and he summons you before him, and he reads your sins, and he cries, “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire in hell!”
My hearer, I cannot bear to think of you in that position; it seems as if every hair on my head must stand on end to think of any hearer of mine being damned. Will you picture yourselves in that position? The word has gone forth, “Depart, ye cursed.” Do you see the pit as it opens to swallow you up? Do you listen to the shrieks and the yells of those who have preceded you to that eternal lake of torment? Instead of picturing the scene, I turn to you with the words of the inspired prophet, and I say, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Oh! my brother, I cannot let you put away religion thus; no, I think of what is to come after death. I should be destitute of all humanity if I should see a person about to poison himself, and did not dash away the cup; or if I saw another about to plunge from London Bridge if I did not assist in preventing him from doing so; and I should be worse than a fiend if I did not now, with all love, and kindness, and earnestness, beseech you to “lay hold on eternal life,” “to labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life.”
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