The charge that God brought against his ancient people was this – "My people doth not consider" (Isa. 1:3). The etymological definition of that word is "to look at a thing until you see it." If we look at a landscape a glance will take in the main features – such as the mountain scenery, the stream, and the hamlet. A consideration or careful examination will show the foliage of the mountain trees, the road leading to the mansion, the cattle grazing on the hill slopes, and so on. There is a great difference between glancing at an object and considering it. Now let us consider the situation here.
This service, brethren, is rather an unusual service in the city – Saturday night service – and we wind up the business of this week. And we'll wind up life after awhile. What will we be then? Oh, to be a grand, a pure, a noble man, is the assurance, and the only assurance, that we'll be happy and pure and noble forever. I am very anxious indeed to see us not only right ourselves, but I am so anxious to see the sinners of this town saved. When all the Church members get right – if such a consummation could be brought about – then we have only prepared ourselves to do the work God wants us to do.
I will tell you how I feel about it. I have been feeling a good deal since I have been here. I have pulled, and pulled, and pulled at different times in different places in my life; and here I have pulled and pulled. Sometimes it looked like all the world was a load and I was pulling. And brethren, I have reached the point now where you ought to pull some and you ought to push some. I will tell you what is true, if God Almighty had blessed me with the money that some of you have – and you may not have a great deal – if God Almighty had blessed me with such a home as some of you have, and with so many blessings as He has blessed you, I'd put in the next week for Him as no Christian in this town ever put in a week for God.
We'll never do anything with this city, when the Christian world looks like you can just take nickels and scatter them along, one every ten feet, and tote them right into hell with them. We'll never do anything with such a world – never!
I will tell you another thing: you need not say I am a fool – and all that sort of thing. I've got a wife and I've got children to support, just like you have, and I love my wife and children just as you do; but I tell you one thing; here is one man that is going to do his duty every day to God and the right, and if me and my wife and children starve to death, we'll make out like we died with typhoid fever; we'll not say one word about it in any way, shape or form. But I want to see one man starve that is doing his duty.
And we'll never take this town for Christ, and you down town at your business every hour of the day, and when night comes, pin on the pinions of an old owl, and flap out and come to meeting. We won't do it.
God Almighty sent this very work along here in St. Louis to prepare some of you members of the Church for your coffins, and to prepare many a sinner in this town for eternity. And if an angel were to alight on this stand this moment and say, "Ten people in this town will be in their coffins next Saturday night," ah, me! – without mentioning any names – I'll tell you that every soul in this house would be here every time this bell rang. You are going to die next Saturday night. I don't know whether it is I or somebody else, but there are ten of us, who may be in our coffins next Saturday night.
We have no time to throw away in this work. One third of my time is gone now. I have no time or disposition to come here and camp with you all through the winter – three or four or six months. I expect to be away from here, and before the first day of February I expect to see thousands of souls converted in another city. I expect to; verily I do. I have no time to fool away with you all. If you want me and say so, I am your man, under God; but if you don't I want you to say so. I will take the first train that leaves this town on Monday morning.
You aren't in earnest. You don't mean anything. I can buy out your interest in this meeting for a quarter, and I expect a great many of you haven't made a quarter each day while we were here serving and praying and working the best way we could, and you gadding about town.
I believe it's the first meeting I ever ran in my life when there were more men out at any service than women; and I tell you when it gets so good women in a city are scarce, things are getting mighty bad, they are, sure as you're born.
There isn't any doubt about that. I've seen a few towns where good men were scarce, but I believe you've got less earnest Christian women in this town than any town I have ever known of its size. What do you think about that?
Now, there is no use in quibbling over the matter at all, brethren. If St. Joseph can rush up under a tent four times a day, and turn everything loose – and God has blessed that town as I scarcely know God has ever blessed a town in the United States of America of its size, almost literally redeemed St. Joseph, Mo. – you can. How came that? The people got interested and took stock; don't you see! That was all. Now, how may we obtain just such a blessing? By getting interested and taking stock.
I will tell you how I feel about it. I can afford to fail. Christ could afford to fail in some places, for in some places he didn't do many wonderful works. What paper is it in your city that that article was in today that spoke about burying Sam Jones?
It says: "Jones has come here to be buried. We buried Moody here, and he has never done anything since; and we buried Harrison here, and he has never done anything since." I believe that is about the sense of the article. "And Jones has come to St. Louis to be buried." Yes, I will be the best man that was ever buried in this community. You'll never bury Jones – I'll say that to you. My faith in God, and faith in the right, and faith in the Cross of Christ, will be as strong when I leave this city if not a single soul is blessed, as it shall be if one hundred thousand are blessed. My faith in God Almighty doesn't depend upon what the Christian people in St. Louis will or will not do. I have no notion of going into my grave till I die, and then I will go in as gracefully and as dignified as a man ever did; but I will never be dignified until I do die. That's just the way I feel about it.
Well, now, I don't like to call up the memories of the war, not at all; and if there is any section in all America that the war question brings up sad memories in, it is here and in Missouri. I would not lift the mantle and veil of charity from a single scar that was left by the war. Not that.
But let me tell you a little war incident. I do not care which side you were on. You admire a brave man, to whichever side he belonged. I do. I love a brave man today, whether he wore the blue or the gray. I like a brave man, for me or against me. I despise a coward in blue or gray. When Johnston turned over his army to Hood in Atlanta – Joe Johnston that carried his army on, back and back, retreating before Sherman until be reached Atlanta – there Johnston turned over his army to Hood. Hood was a gallant man and a brave man. He had already lost one of his legs in battle, and when he took charge of Johnston's army he came round back into Tennessee with it, and, you recollect, fought the bloody battle of Franklin, perhaps one of the most bloody battles of the war. When that battle was raging hot and thick, Gen. Hood's tent was on a prominence, and from that prominence Gen. Hood, in walking up and down in front of his tent, could see the battle. He could see lines and he could hear the booming of the cannon and the rattle of the musketry. And as he walked up and down in front of the tent, halting with his artificial leg, every time he turned his eyes downward towards the lines he saw that there was a fort out in a locust grove that was literally hewing down his ranks by the hundred. Every time he walked up and down in front of his tent, limping as he walked and every time he turned his face towards the lines he saw that that fort in the locust grove was literally hewing down his ranks.
After he had watched the fight awhile he called his Adjutant General to him. That officer rode up on his bloody horse, and Gen. Hood said: "Adjutant, go and present my compliments to Gen. Cheatham, and tell him that I ask at his hands that fort in the locust grove." The Adjutant General loped off with all the speed of his horse. In a few minutes he returned and said: "Gen. Hood, Gen. Cheatham is missing. They think he has been killed, He has not been seen in two hours." Gen. Hood bowed his head, and marched up and down in front of his tent, and every time he turned his face to the lines, that fort in the locust grove was literally hewing down his ranks to the ground. And directly he called his Adjutant General again, and lie said: "Adjutant General, go and present my compliments to Gen. Claiborne, and tell him I ask at his hands the fort in the locust grove." The Adjutant General loped off down the lines and in a few moments came back and said: "Gen. Hood, Gen. Claiborne is dead on the battlefield."
Gen. Hood dropped his head, and the tears ran down his cheeks as he marched up and down in front of his tent. He looked through the tears as they glistened in his eyes and saw that the fort in the locust grove was still hewing his ranks to the ground. And directly he called his Adjutant General again, and he said: "Adjutant General, go and present my love" – he is softening down now, no longer compliments – "Adjutant General, go and present my love to Gen. Cockrell and tell him I ask at his hands that fort in the locust grove." The Adjutant General loped off down the line, and rode up to Gen. Cockrell. I believe he is, perhaps, from your city or state – one of the youngest Generals in the Southern army. The Adjutant General rode up to him and said: "Gen. Cockrell, Gen. Hood sends you his love, and says he asks at your hands that fort in the locust grove." Gen. Cockrell straightened himself up in his saddle, and said: "1st Missouri Brigade, attention!" And he dropped his fingers on that fort. They charged upon the fort with intrepid courage and captured it, and Gen. Cockrell called his Adjutant General and said: "Adjutant General, go and present my love to Gen. Hood, and also tell him that I present him the fort in the locust grove."
And I want to tell you Christian people here whether that incident be true or not, it illustrates what I desire to say to you. I am here as the adjutant general of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I say to you Christian people, as I point over this wicked city, that the Lord Jesus Christ presents his love to you Christian people, and He wants at your hands every fort of sin in this community, and in less than thirty days I hope you all with one accord will say, "Lord Jesus, we present our love to you, and we also present the city redeemed by Thy grace."
I want every Christian man that is ready to march out into line, not to fight his fellow man, but to bring his neighbor and friend to God and do what he can for the race. This coming week I will do my best, and I want every Christian in this house, of every denomination, who feels like saying: "God is my helper; I will go into the fight, and pray and work and do my best". I want every such an one to stand up; and I hope you will all stand up immediately and say: "That is my honest conviction. I want to go into the fight. I want to do my best."
Brethren, there cannot be a movement without friction, a battle without an issue, no issue without browsing of lines, and no victory without a fight. The fight is now on. Will you come up to the help of the Lord against the powers that be?
Well, thank God for this Saturday night meeting. God bless this service to the good of every Christian here. Now, we say to you all, we want the battle to begin now; we want the battle to be pushed on now. If you good women will pray as you ought, you will hear of such a meeting as St. Louis never had before. God give us power, and I want to tell you that nothing but the power of God can ever reach this city. Nothing but the power of God. God Almighty does not ask any more odds in St. Louis, if you take hold right, than He does in the smallest town in the state. He is an omnipotent God, and can do all He undertakes. Now we are going to sing "Hold the Fort, for I Am Coming." I want everybody to join in that song, and afterwards we will pronounce the benediction.