On the War-Path
This subject was suggested to me when Mr. Johnson and Mr. Woolley came home from Canada. Mr. Woolley needed a vacation very badly, so he took one of twenty-four hours. I don’t know how many pounds he gained, but I gained a lot of information myself. Woolley tells me everything he knows, and then I preach.
He told me how one of the boys there in Canada who had gone to the front had written his mother that there was no “V.C.” blood in him. His duty was to carry ammunition along a certain road, and he wrote that the enemy had their range exactly and had dropped bombs all along the road, on every side of them; that the war-path was strewn with the bodies of dead men, dead animals, broken-up wagons, all sorts of explosions had occurred—and every time he took a step he trembled.
My friends, because we appear to be living in peace today, so in contrast to war, we seem to be calm about some of the great waste of life about us. Men are being hurled into eternity by the thousands, going into death by the millions—men who know not Jesus. On life’s war-path tonight are strewn the carcasses of men and women, young and old, all over the world. Sin and war, my friends, are greatly alike. I want to call your attention tonight to the resemblances between the war-path and the path of a sinner; to give you a little comparison.
God says in the sixth chapter of Romans, the 23rd verse: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What a wonderful verse!
The wages of sin is death. The wages of war is death. There is no other end to either. They go into it for death. They volunteer for death. They march out with death-dealing instruments on their shoulders, with their great engines pulling the guns of destruction and of death.
Sin, my friends, is to end in death, and all along the path of the sinner there are strewn the carcasses of men and of women who have sinned. Death comes to men from sin as it does in war from bullets.
There are some folks who creep along in sin and die; there are other men in whom sin simply explodes—the devil drops his awful bomb and they are gone. I had a boy friend in college, on the football team; he was considered one of the best fellows in college—and he went on a trip one day. He met a woman; he had never met her like in the world before. His father had money; and inside of three weeks he was gone—sin had grabbed him, taken him captive. The poor father and mother were horrified, the school was horrified—but he was gone. He had not only shot her, but shot himself. It was an explosion. And so sin, my friends, on the war-path takes some people that quickly. Others live along, travel a little further, and sin’s death gets them, but with some it is an explosion.
A Quick Shot
A poor man, with a wife and two children, living in the valley near Dayton, when the flood came went to his home from his work and found the mother gone, the children gone. He never had taken a drink in his life as far as anybody knew—what made him do it then no one knew—but he went to another part of the town, began to talk with some men there, and the first thing they knew his head was inflamed with liquor. Two weeks after that he woke up in jail, and has to serve years for the things that took place.
I say to you, my friends, if you do not know the awful deadliness of sin, wake up tonight! The wisest man on Earth is the man who reckons on the awful power of sin. Here are boys tonight on that war-path; some of them whistle and some sing and some crack their dull jokes as they go along; but friends, there is only one safe place to walk, and that is under the sheltering protection of the blood and power of Jesus Christ. No bomb can touch you there. Praise God that you can go out and in and find pasture with him, while the war-path is strewn with bombs.
Men Go Crazy
There is suicide in war. Men go crazy. Men went out with romance in their hearts, but have gone crazy, with the poison of the food, with the lack of sleep, with the noise.
My friend, a young man came back to the University from the Spanish War, and told me about an experience that happened in his tent one night, when two of the boys suddenly went insane. One of them drew his own sabre and stuck it into his heart. They went to pieces, because of the poison of the food. There are thousands of people who are committing suicide, going madly into sin, because of the poison of it. It poisons men. I have looked into faces of men who have sin soaked in their hearts, and they are poisoned, they are doped, they are wild: and they go right along into it. My grandfather used to tell about a charge in the Civil War; how the boys hadn’t had any sleep, nothing to eat, their shoes worn out, their clothing worn out; they could hardly carry their muskets; but when he gave the order to charge, they charged face foremost into the enemy without even lifting a gun, and the slaughter was terrific.
Anxious to Plunge
There are young fellows tonight waiting for the cabaret show to open, that they may charge into the things of sin. There are young women tonight, wild to plunge into sin; there is the girl who, like a fool, heedless of the mother who begs her not to go with that fellow, leaps into the leper’s arms. Into that vile, rotten man’s arms, his rotten lips upon her cheeks, she plunges, in the face of her mother who pleads with her to turn aside. Oh, the awful wreck from sin there is tonight! Oh, as you see the wreck of home and of young womanhood in our day, as you walk the streets, it makes you cry out to God to send salvation to young men and young women. I beg you in God’s name cover yourselves with the cleansing blood of Jesus, and let Him keep you from sin! Jesus wants to save you, He is anxious to be your Saviour, He is pleading with you to step out, and if you dare to step out, praise God, He will take you.
There are others who are traitors, there are others who are spies, in warfare. Oh, how many men are betraying young life. How many women are betraying young life. When they began to look into the white slave trade, they found that women—women who knew what a horrible, awful thing it was to lose everything precious to themselves in virtue,—were loaning their aid to get young girls in a life of shame. There are men taking young men to teach them the business of sin; talking about the habits of sin, joshing and joking about the deep things of crime, about the sacredness of womanhood, fooling and telling stories about it in the presence of young men; these are the men who are traitors to God, these are the men who are in league with the devil.
Oh my friends, it was an awful thing in Ireland for those men to have to be shot down by a government which they had tried to put out of commission. It was an awful thing in our country to have to take a traitor out and shoot him; but think of it! There are men who are traitors against God; God, who is trying to get men out of sin and give them liberty.
The Show System
God help you tonight to get out of the world system that is filled with its sin, and join Jesus Christ. The trouble with Christians these days, my friends, is that there is too much lolly-pop life with us. We need a little hard persecution, in order to stick by Jesus Christ. We have too many people who are liars about this thing. I ask you which ones of you are Christians and you will raise your hand in the Tabernacle, and the next night will find you in some dirty show, having your lowest sensations tickled. There isn’t a show on Earth that hasn’t behind it a great system of cultivating the passions of men and women. It is all sin promotion—that is how they get their money. Oh, friend, let Jesus into your heart tonight. I am so glad tonight I have an experience that is real and know what Jesus can do for a sinful heart. I am so glad that somehow God arrested me, tried me, found me guilty of sin, and then gave me Jesus to pay it all and set me free.
Next, this call to the world-warfare, and sin, is just alike. The colors are there, there seems to be romance about it. Young men go out under patriotic speeches, but they are going to death. And the devil imitates that sort of thing himself. The devil gets the music to going, he puts in the lights, puts in the song, he puts in the dance, he puts in the martial music and the little wiggle that is in the dance, and all the elusiveness of it, and even parades himself with the fancy dancers. He starts out a young couple of fancy dancers with the latest dances and isn’t satisfied to have them in New York, but sends them out over the country to teach everybody else how to wiggle themselves to hell. The call to the devil’s work and to sin, my friends, always has fine music with it, it looks like it is going to come out fine, but from that dark line of death and of hell, men will never march back.
There never will be a time when the medals will be passed out to them; it is forever, to eternity, into the jaws of death, because they refuse Jesus Christ as their Saviour. God help you to take Him tonight. He offers to take you off the war-path, and Himself to be the captain of your salvation. God made Him perfect through suffering, so that He was able to succor those that are tempted. The Lord knows I am tempted, He knows y ou are tempted, but praise God we have a mighty Saviour that can save from sin and keep from sin. He will hold you fast. God only wants to get hold of you.
Neither a soldier nor a sinner ever suffers alone. No, my friend, if some of you think you do, you are altogether mistaken. When that soldier goes out in the trench and fires his gun and the bomb explodes and these five men are blown to pieces, this poor fellow lies on the dump in his agony and cries for the doctor, and at the going down of the sun his soul passes out and he is gone. There they are tonight by the thousands, dying like that,—the worst war the world has ever known. But my friend, right out of this Tabernacle tonight, perhaps some young man, some older man, some young woman, some older woman, will go out into sin and think they are going to die alone and suffer in sin alone. No sir, no man can sin alone, no woman can sin alone.
Think of young Orpet who is being tried, his father and mother sitting by him, and on the other side an old father and mother—they used to be friends of the family before, but now a little girl is dead. Is he the only one injured? No, every one connected with him is tainted, families ruined, homes wrecked; it wasn’t his own sin alone; others had to share it with him. Every time there is a sinful boy in a home, the whole family is affected by him. He is not just one black sheep alone, but every sheep in the family suffers with him.
When they bring the news back from the firing-line, that fellow that is shot doesn’t suffer alone, but every one in the family suffers with a broken heart. The suffering out yonder tonight is nothing to the suffering when the news is brought back, when in the days to come the poor widows and orphans have to make their way in this world, weakened by the loss of the men who have gone out to their death. War is hell; it is an awful picture of sin. You cannot suffer alone. The sins of your life will have to go on with other people. Praise God that only the power of Jesus Christ can break that power and cut that connection and let the blood of Jesus Christ take care of the past and of the future. What a wonderful thing Jesus offers to you, men and women,—that if you come down these aisles and take Him tonight, God forgives the past, and puts it away as though you had never sinned! Glory to God!
God help you to see the awfulness of sin tonight, and what a fool a man is to stay in it when Jesus offers the chance to get out; offers to cleanse you so that God looks at you as if you had never sinned…
Oh, a great many of you here tonight think you have a right to sin as you please, when you please, and as long as you please, but I say to you you are not going to answer to God for the sin in your own life, but for the sin you put in other lives.
The boy walked out of that home, and he never any more expected to be in jail that night than to fly to the moon. They were sitting around a table in an adjoining town, a few of them. They had been drinking; there was another young fellow there who had been going with this girl. The girl wanted to break with Bert—his father hadn’t given him enough money to suit her—and when this other young fellow insulted him, he turned to the girl, grabbed his revolver—nobody ever knew where he got it—and pinned her first and the man afterwards. The people grabbed him and took him to the jail, and in another wagon carried home two dead bodies. And that whole family of girls, that noble father, a heartbroken, suffering group of those who loved him, had to walk out behind that casket after the crowd had gathered at the jail and seen him hanged by the neck, dead.
My God, teach some of you people what sin is tonight—sin—sin—SIN—the stuff that is in your life, that Jesus can take out, that He can put away from you as far as the East is from the West. He will keep you from sin, from the bombs of the devil, the wiles of the devil, the temptation of the devil. Hallelujah, I am telling you about something that is real! Jesus does exactly the thing I am talking about: cleanses and delivers.
The record never can be written of war. What newspaper can ever publish the sufferings of this war up to date, the things the soldiers have done when they have gone in to a town, the poor, suffering women ravaged, the awful horrors that have swept over a village. The papers say “So many thousands dead,” but that isn’t a millionth part of all the suffering—the famine that goes with it, the stricken, broken hearts. Think of the Armenian question alone. One of the men who seems to know the most about it says that over a million of them have gone down in that bloody slaughter, and one man in the province of Van boasted that in twenty-four hours he would rid that province of 50,000 Armenians. And made the boast good.
My friends, the world is full of sin tonight. Wake up before Jesus comes back, and get under the blood of Jesus Christ! I say to you that we are living in the most terrific day the world has ever known. You may call me a fanatic if you please but bless God I will try to wake you up to the awful things round about us. God help you men and women to stay out of sin tonight, and see the clouds of judgment just ahead.
No Record Here
The record can never be written here, but every bit of it is up there and it is against you unless the blood of Jesus Christ has blotted it out. That is God’s way, and it is perfectly just. Why? Because you can have cleansing tonight if you will take the step and confess Him before men. You can have it for nothing, simply if you will take it. There is a good deal up to your will tonight, that little will power that has taken you to sin and said, “Yes” to the devil. You have in your breast tonight the decision that will land you into heaven forever or into hell forever. God help you to see it. You don’t have to theorize. God says to you “Come” and you, with your stubborn will say back to Him, “I won’t come”—and you go on in this warpath of sin.
There are lots of folks who have not the fear of God in their hearts. There are men who will ruthlessly run into danger. Some of you say, “Mr. Rader, my conscience is all right.” My friends, the man who sees sin as he ought to see it, and then says he wants to run with it, there is only one charitable thing to say about such a man—and that is that he is a fool.
If You Will
It is all up to your will. We have books, books, books, published about the divinity of Jesus Christ. Let me tell you something. That poor down-and-out drunkard that just says “Yes” to the first message he hears about Jesus, and staggers up the aisle and falls at the altar and trusts Jesus Christ, will know more about the divinity of Christ than all the high-brows who haven’t taken Jesus as a Savior will know in a million years. Mary, simple Mary, Lazarus’ sister, knew of the divinity of Jesus, knew He was to die, and anointed Him for His burial. She knew Him. You can know Him, thank God, and He will reveal Himself to you in a peculiar way—there will not any two of you have the same experience, but you will say, “I am talking about the same person.”
Always He talks to your will—He says, “I can explain it if you will obey Me.” What does a man know about what a beefsteak can do who will not put it in his stomach? What does a man know about what water can do who will not drink it? He will die in agony without water, but if he just drinks it, not knowing anything about it, he will live. Jesus is water, He is bread, He is life itself, and He will reveal Himself to you, when?—when you consent to turn from your sin and obey Him.
On Christmas morning we throw back the doors and all come in to what? We say, “What is in that package?” “I don’t know, but I think it is so-and-so.” “What do you think is in the other one?” What are you all in for? Do you know what you are going to get? No, but it is the time for gifts, so you all come in, and when you open them up, you will know.
Jesus gives life, and His gift is to be put into your heart; then when He by His Spirit unwraps it you will know. No man in all the world ever sought Jesus who did not find Him. He has the gift, and you are to come—that is your part.
This is Henry Nesbitt’s story as I heard it. He was a lawyer in a little town in Missouri in his younger days. He had a dear little wife whom he said he loved, and they came out to Colorado to live. He was an orator, and such a brainy jovial fellow that all the folks loved him. They wanted to elect him to office, but his wife kept him back for his own sake. His wife knew the Lord, trusted the Lord, but he made fun of her when she prayed. They had gone to school together, and I remember how he told of taking the ribbon off her hair in school and tying something else on it. He was a great big fellow, about six feet two and weighted 260 or 270 pounds, with a splendid face; and he came from a fine family.
His wife was a timid little soul, who wouldn’t argue with him,—she just lived it. Henry didn’t pay any attention to what she said; he would say, “She is a lovely little woman, but her head isn’t big.” All the fellows looked up to Nesbitt, but he didn’t know the Lord, and how many boys in that city would say, “Nesbitt don’t belong to the Lord, and he is a pretty good fellow!” They didn’t know he was being preserved in the sugar of prayer, that his wife was holding him up to the Lord all the time.
Take these sweet, godly women out of the world, and things would go to rack and ruin in a short time.
Nesbitt would say to her: “Listen, tell me this.”
“I can’t tell you anything,” she would answer. “There is no arguing with you. I just have it in here—I can’t tell you about it.”
They were sitting at a meal one day, and had the first artichokes they ever had. They had never tasted them before. She pulled off one of the little leaves, and skinned it in her teeth—and said, “Wait a minute, don’t eat yours yet. Now ask me how it tastes.”
“What is the use? You couldn’t tell me how a thing tastes. I’ll have to try myself.”
“Sure, that’s it,” she replied. “To know what I am tasting, all you have to do is to pull off your leaf, stick it in your mouth, and what you taste then will be the same as what I am tasting. It is the same way with the life of Jesus in the soul, Henry Nesbitt!”
We know that we know and we don’t know how we know, but we know that we know.
One day she asked a number of women to come and pray with her in the afternoon, and she said to them, “I only brought you up here to pray for Henry, not for me. I am going fast. A few more days and I’ll be in glory.”
They came when she died; they had part of the funeral service in the house, the rest down at the big brown church where Nesbitt used to go sometimes Sunday mornings with her. He sat through it with a peculiar look on his face. Every one said, “I wonder what the judge will do now.” He walked up to the house, and shut himself in the library, closed the window blinds, locked the doors, and told the servants to let him alone. Up and down, up and down, he walked. He knew he was up against it. He had looked into that little grave, and it had changed everything. He was facing life from a different angle than he had faced it before.
Oh wake up, friend—death is ahead of you! Why do we bluff ourselves?
He walked up and down in that room, and finally said: “Oh God, I have got to find you! I have got to find you or I will die.” He turned and with one great fist lifted in the air he said, “Oh God, I will! I don’t know what it is, but I will.” And he threw himself over a plush chair and cried as though his heart would break, and as he did a great vase, the handsomest one in their beautiful home, fell and broke all to pieces.
He got on his feet and said, “Am I crazy? What made the vase fall?” Then he began to reason: “Vases don’t fall of themselves. I don’t know who has been listening, but somebody moved that vase.” He stood there and said, “Come out from behind those portiers; someone must be behind this vase breaking.”
A servant came out, trembling, and said, “Sir, I only wanted to help you, to keep you from dying. They elected me to come in here to protect you against yourself. Sir, they feared you would commit suicide.”
“That is all right, you can go,” said Nesbitt, and the minute the man had gone, without any Scripture verse on his lips, for he knew none of it by heart; he only knew the life of his wife and what she had told him, he said, “I see it. That vase fell because somebody pushed it. I fell over this chair crying of God to you because you pushed me. You are after me, Lord—you have been after me since I was a boy. Lord, I will, I will, I will.”
Then God said to him, “Look at the vase. That is the costliest thing in your house isn’t it, broken to wake you up? Well, I broke the costliest prize of heaven for your salvation. I gave my best for you.”
Nesbitt saw it all in a flash, and continued to say, “Lord, I will, I will. I’ve resisted your best offers but at this last I will. I’ll quit the sin that made You suffer, and your blood pays. I count it done.”
Yes, the old days were over. Nesbitt left the old war-path of sin.
Will you leave it? Will you? Take one look at all its wages of death and hell and leave it, my friend. Will you? Jesus is the way out of sin.