Qualifications for Soul Winning
the vipers that are in the Church, formalism, pride, and
2. It is the
only happy life to live for the salvation of souls.
3. We must be
willing to do little things for Christ.
4. Must be of
5. Must be
God had no
children too weak, but a great many too strong to make use of. God
stands in no need of our strength or wisdom, but of our ignorance,
of our weakness; let us but give these to Him, and He can make use
of us in winning souls.
"And they that
be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they
that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Now we all
want to shine; the mother wishes it for her boy, when she sends him
to school, the father for his lad, when he goes off to college; and
here God tells us who are to shine - not statesmen, or warriors, or
such like, that shine but for a season - but such as will shine for
ever and ever; those, namely, who win souls to Christ; the little
boy even who persuades one to come to Christ.
this, Paul counts up five things (1 Cor. 1:27-29) that God makes use
of - the weak things, the foolish things, the base things, the
despised things, and the things which are not, and for this purpose,
that no flesh might glory in his sight - all five being just such as
we should despise. He can and will use us, just when we are willing
to be humble for Christ's sake, and so for six thousand years God
has been teaching men; so with an ass's jawbone Samson slew his
thousands (Judges 15:15), so at the blowing of rams' horns the walls
of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:20). Let God work in His own way, and with
His own instruments; let us all rejoice that He should, and let us
too get into the position in which God can use us.
There is much
mourning to-day over false "isms," infidelity, and the like, but sum
them all up, and I do not fear them one half so much as that dead
and cold formalism that has crept into the Church of God. The
unbelieving world, and these skeptics holding out their false
lights, are watching you and me: when Jacob put away his idols, he
could go up to Bethel and get strength and the blessing - so will it
be with the Church of God. A viper fixes upon the hand of the
shipwrecked Paul; immediately he is judged by the barbarians some
criminal unfit to live; but he shakes it off into the fire, and
suffers no harm, and now they are ready to worship him, and ready
too to hear and receive his message: the Church of God must shake
off the vipers that have fastened on hand and heart too, ere men
will hear. Where one ungodly man reads this Bible, a hundred read
you and me: and if they find nothing in us, they set the whole thing
aside as a myth.
Again, a man
who has found out what his true work is, winning souls to Christ,
and does it, such is the happiest man. Not the richest are this -
least of all those who have just got converted for themselves, and
into the Church - lost what pleasure the world could give, and found
none other. Job's captivity turned away when he began praying for
his friends; and so will all who thus work for others shine not in
heaven alone and hereafter, but here as well, and now.
But you say "I
haven't got the ability." Well, God doesn't call you to do Dr.
Bonar's work, or Dr. Duff's work, else He had given you their
ability, their talent. The word is, "To every man his work." I have
a work to do, laid out for me in the secret counsels of eternity; no
other can do it. If I neglect it, it is not true that some other
will do it; it will remain undone. And if, for the work laid upon
us, we feel we have not the ability or talent necessary, then we
have a throne of grace; and God never sends, unless that He is
willing to give the strength and wisdom. The instruments He often
uses may seem all unlikely, yet when did they fail? - when once? and
why not? Because He had fitted them out as well.
He sent Moses
to Egypt to deliver His people - not an eloquent, but a stuttering
man. He refuses a while, at last he went; and no man once sent by
God ever did break down.
So was Elisha
a most unlikely man to be a successor to the great prophet Elijah.
Men would have chosen some famous man, some professor in the school
of the prophets. God took one from the plough; but He gave him what
was needed. Elisha had but to keep by his master to the end; and he
received even a double portion of the Spirit. And if we want to get
it, we too must keep by the Lord, nor ever lose sight of Him, should
He, as Elijah Elisha, in one way or another try our faith.
we must be ready to do little things for God; many are willing to do
the great things. I dare say hundreds would have been ready to
occupy this pulpit to-day. How many of them would be as willing to
teach a dirty class in the ragged school?
one afternoon I was preaching, observing a young lady from the house
I was staying at, in the audience. I had heard she taught in the
Sabbath-school, which I knew was at the same hour; and so I asked
her, after service, how she came to be there? "Oh," said she, "my
class is but five little boys, and I thought it did not matter for
them." And yet among these there might have been, who knows, a
Luther or a Knox, the beginning of a stream of blessing, that would
have gone on widening and ever widening; and besides, one soul is
worth all the kingdoms of the earth.
America, a young lady was sent to a boarding-school, and was there
led to Christ; not only so, but taught that she ought to work for
Him, By-and-by she goes home, and now she seeks, in one way and
another, to work for Him, but without finding how. She asks for a
class in her church Sunday-school, but the superintendent is obliged
to tell her that he has already more than enough of teachers. One
day, going along the street, she sees a little boy struck by his
companion, and crying bitterly. She goes up and speaks to him; asks
him what the trouble is? The boy thinks she is mocking him, and
replies sullenly. She speaks kindly, tries to persuade him to
school. He does not want to learn. She coaxes him to come and hear
her and the rest singing there; and so next Sunday he comes with
her. She gets a corner in the school of well-dressed scholars for
herself and her charge. He sits and listens, full of wonder. On
going home, he tells his mother he has been among the angels. At
first at a loss, she becomes angry, when a question or two brings
out that he has been to a Protestant Sunday-school; and the father,
on coming home, forbids his going back, on pain of flogging. Next
Sunday, however, he goes, and is flogged, and so again, and yet
again, till one Sunday, he begs to be flogged before going, that he
may not be kept thinking of it all the time. The father relents a
little, and promises him a holiday every Saturday afternoon, if he
will not go to Sunday-school. The lad agrees, sees his teacher, who
offers to teach him then. How many wealthy young folks would give up
their Saturdays to train one poor ragged urchin in the way of
salvation? Some time after, at his work, the lad is on one of the
railway cars. The train starts suddenly; he slips through, and the
wheels pass over his legs; he asks the doctor if he will live to get
home; it is impossible. "Then," says he, "tell father and mother
that I am going to heaven, and want to meet them there." Will the
work she did seem little now to the young lady? Or is it nothing
that even one thus grateful waits her yonder?
we want is, to be of good courage. Three or four times this comes
out in the first chapter of Joshua; and I have observed that God
never uses a man that is always looking on the dark side of things:
what we do for Him let us do cheerfully, not because it is our duty
- not that we should sweep away the word but because it is our
privilege. What would my wife or children say if I spoke of loving
them because it was my duty to do so? And my mother - if I go to see
her once a year, and were to say - "Mother, I am come all this way
to discharge what feel to be my duty in visiting you;" might she not
rightly reply - "My son, if this is all that has brought you, you
might have spared coming at all!" and go own in broken-hearted
sorrow to the grave?
minister, a friend of mine, lately pointed out a family of seven,
all of whom he was just receiving into the Church. Their story was
this: going to church, he had to pass by a window, looking up at
which one day, he saw a baby looking out; he smiled - the baby
smiled again. Next time he passes he looks up again, smiles, and the
baby smiles back. A third time going by, he looks up, and seeing the
baby, throws it a kiss - which the baby returns to him. Time after
time he has to pass the window, and now cannot refrain from looking
up each time: and each time there are more faces to receive his
smiling greeting; till by-and-by he sees the whole family grouped at
the window - father, mother, and all. The father conjectures the
happy, smiling stranger must be a minister, and so, next Sunday
morning, after they have received at the window the usual greeting,
two of the children, ready dressed, are sent out to follow him: they
enter his church, hear him preach, and carry back to their parents
the report that they never heard such preaching; and what preaching
could equal that of one who had so smiled on them? Soon the rest
come to the church too, and are brought in - all by a smile. Let us
not go about, hanging our heads like a bulrush; if Christ gives joy,
let us live it! The whole world is in all matters for the very best
thing - you always want to get the best possible thing for your
money; let us show, then, that our religion is the very best thing:
men with long, gloomy faces are never wise in the winning of souls.
preaching in Jacksonville, and, at the house in which I stayed, my
attention was attracted by a little boy, who bore a different name
from the household, and yet was in all things and in all respects
treated as one of themselves; to the other children he was
"brother," and they were "brothers" and "sisters" to him, and with
them he came up to the mother for the same good-night kiss.
asked the lady of the house who it was. She told me the father of
the boy was a missionary out in India; some years before, father and
mother had come home with their five children to have them educated.
After being home a short time, the father resolved to return to
India; wishing to leave the mother with the children till their
education should be finished. She wanted to go back with him; he
opposed to it, saying it was hard enough for him to leave them, for
her it must be impossible. Still she wished to go, - she had
received and been some blessing in India, and she would give up even
all for Christ.
was arranged that the children should be received into various
families, - treated as part of them, - and that father and mother
together should return. So with the boy the mother came to this
friend's and stayed a few days along with him. The night before she
had leave, sitting with the lady of the house, she told her how
anxious she was that her boy should receive the impression that his
mother had for Christ's sake cheerfully left him behind, and that
for this end she wished to leave him without a tear at parting. The
struggle this would cost the lady well knew, especially as the boy
was of a peculiarly amiable disposition.
passing the door of the mother's room, the lady overheard a sobbing,
struggling prayer for strength to do what was on her heart to do. In
a short time the mother came down with smiling, cheerful face; and
looking so, she took leave of her boy, to go by rail some miles
further on to bid a like farewell to another of her family. She went
with her husband to India.
A short year
after, a still, quiet voice came to her, to come up to meet her
Saviour. And would not a welcome await her there, who had so loved
Him here, and so cheerfully served Him?
"They that be
wise shall shine, as the brightness of the firmament; and they that
turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel
12:3). The Lord help us as humbly, devoutly, and cheerfully to
abound in His work!
delivered by Dwight L. Moody in Dr. Bonar's church, Edinburgh,
Scotland, 7th December, 1873.
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