A MAN WHO LACKED MORAL COURAGE
A few years ago I went to close a meeting, and said: “Are there any here who would like to have me remember them in prayer? I would like to have them rise!” And there was a man rose, and when I saw him stand up, my heart leaped in me with joy. I had been anxious for him a long time. I went to him as soon as the meeting was over, and took him by the hand, and said: “You are coming out for God, are you not?”
He said: ” I want to, and have made up my mind to be a Christian; only there is one thing standing in my way.” “What is that?” I asked. “Well,” he replied, “I lack moral courage.” Naming a friend of his, he added: ” If he had been here tonight I should not have risen; I am afraid when he hears I have risen for prayer he will begin to laugh at me, and I won’t have moral courage to stand up for Christ.”
I said: “If Christ is, what he is represented in the Bible, he is worth standing up for; and if heaven is what we are told it is in the Bible, it is worth living for.” “I lack moral courage,” he answered; and the man was trembling from head to foot.
I thought he was just at the very threshold of heaven, and that one step more was going to take him in, and that he world take the step that night. I talked and prayed with him, and the Spirit seemed to be striving mightily with him; but he did not get the light. Night after night he came, and the Spirit strove with him; but just one thing kept him back, he lacked moral courage.
At last the Spirit of God — which had striven so mightily with him, seemed to leave him, and there were no more strivings, he left off coming to church, was off among his old companions, and would not meet me in the street; he was ashamed to do so. About six months afterward I got a message from him, and found him on what he thought was his dying bed, he wanted to know if there was hope for him at the eleventh hour. I tried to tell him that there was hope for any man that would accept Christ. I prayed for him, and day after day I visited him.
Contrary to all expectations, he began to recover; and when he was convalescent, finding him one day sitting in front of his house, I sat by his side, and said: “You will soon be well enough to come up to the church, and when you are, you will come up; and you are just going to confess Christ boldly, are you not?” “Well,” says he, “I promised God when I was on what I thought to be my dying bed I would serve Him, and I made up my mind to be a Christian; but I am not going to be one just now.
Next spring I am going over to Lake Michigan, and I am going to buy a farm and settle down, and then I am going to be a Christian.” I said, “How dare you talk that way! How do you know that you are going to live till next spring? Have you a lease of your life?” “I was never better than I am now; I am a little weak, but I will soon have my strength. I have a fresh lease of my life, and will be well for a good many years yet,” he answered.
I said: “It seems to me you are tempting God;” and I pleaded with him to come out boldly. “No,” he said; “the fact is I have not the courage to face my old companions, and I cannot serve God in Chicago.” I said “If God has not grace enough to keep you in Chicago, He has not in Michigan.” I urged him then and there to surrender his soul and body to the Lord Jesus; but the more I urged him the more irritated he got, till at last he said “Well, you need not trouble yourself any more about my soul; I will attend to that. If I am lost it will be my own fault. I will take the risk.”
I left him, and in about a week I got a message from his wife. Going to the house, I met her at the door weeping. I said: “What is the trouble?” “Oh, sir! I have just had a council of physicians here, and they have all given my husband up to die; they say he cannot live.”
I said: “Does he want to see me?” She replied: “No.” “Why did you send?” “Why,” she said, “I cannot bear to see him die in this terrible state of mind.” “What is his state of mind?” “Why, he says that his damnation is sealed, and he will be in hell in a little while.”
I went into the room, but he turned his head away. I said: “How is it with you?” Not a word; he was as silent as death. I spoke the second time, hut he made no response. I looked him in the face, and called him by name, and said “Will you not tell me how it is with you?” he turned, and fixed that awful, deathly look upon me, and, pointing to the stove, he said: “My heart is as hard as the iron in that stove; it is too late, my damnation is sealed, and I shall be in hell in a little while.”
I said: “Don’t talk so; you can be saved now if you will.” He replied: “Don’t mock me I know better.” I talked with him, and quoted promise after promise, but he said not one was for him. “Christ has come knocking at the door of my heart many a time, and the last time he came I promised to let Him in; and when I got well I turned away again, and now I have to perish without Him. “I talked, but I saw I was doing no good, and so I threw myself on my knees.
He said: “You can pray for my wife and children, you need not pray for me; it is a waste of your time, it is too late. “I tried to pray, but it seemed as if what he said was true – it seemed as if the heavens were brass over me. I rose and took his hand, amid it seemed to me as if I were bidding farewell to a friend that I never was to see again in time or eternity.
He lingered till the sun went down. His wife told me that his end was terrible. All that he was heard to say were these fearful words: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved. “There he lay, and every little while he would take up the awful lamentation: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.” And just as the sun was sinking behind those western prairies he was going into the arms of death.
As he was expiring, his wife noticed that his lips were quivering, he was trying to say something, and she reached over her ear, and all she could hear was ” The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved;” and the angels bore him to the judgment. He lived a Christless life, he died a Christless death, we wrapped him in a Christless shroud, nailed him in a Christhess coffin, and bore him to a Christless grave. Oh, how dark! Oh, how sad! I may be speaking to some one today, and the harvest may be passing with you, the summer may be ending. Oh, be wise now, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ. May God’s blessing rest upon us all, and may we meet in glory, is the prayer of my heart! – D.L. Moody.