"Escape for thy life!" (Genesis 19:14)
I want to invite your attention this evening to a part of the fourteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of Genesis:
"Escape for thy life!"
There is in the bosom of every man an instinctive love of life, and an instinctive fear of death. Man has a spiritual nature as well as a physical nature, and there are certain things which are death-dealing poisons to the moral and spiritual life as there are things which are poison to the physical life. So the warning, "Escape for thy life," means escape from sin. I intend to speak plainly to all of you this evening. When a man preaches to me there are three questions I ask of him: "Do you mean kindly to me, and are you my friend?" "Are you posted on the subject you are discussing?" and "Do you love what you preach?" You can tell whether or not I am your friend by the way I speak to you; you can find out how I live by inquiring where I have lived, and you will find out before I get through that I'm I intend to discuss.
Now, I intend to discuss some cardinal sins, and the first is the sin of profanity. What an awful sin it is and how it has got into society. If I should say that the man who did that would lie and drink, you would say that I am right; but if I should say that the man who will swear will lie and drink, you would say: "Hold on there, don't say that or there'll be a row; I swear sometimes." Now I tell you that the man who will swear will do all the other things if you just take the bridle off him and turn him loose, and the young man that stilts himself upon his honor and integrity, and is a swearer -- I say that young man would steal and crush the virtue of the sweetest maiden in this great city, if only the obstacles that now prevent him from doing it were removed. The swearing man that went into the army, stole and went to a house of ill-fame at night. The bars were down. Don't you know that?
They say at when the devil wants to catch any other kind of a sinner he baits his hook; but when he wants to catch a profane swearer he just drops his hook without any bait, and the poor fool just gobbles it up. The man who swears -- you can say what you please about it -- the man who swears lacks just that much of being a gentleman. Those men that swarm the railway trains. The railway trains have their fine chair cars, and sleeping cars, and smoking cars, and they need now just one more car, and that is the man that steals gets something, but the man that swears, what does he get? You ask me if I stole when I swore, and I say "yes," I did. I stole the peace from my home and the roses from the cheeks of my wife, and that was about as far as I could get without running against the sheriff.
The next cardinal sin I want to talk about is the sin of Sabbath breaking.
See these men having all the money that they can make during the week, and sometimes money that they don't make and all for the purpose of going out Sunday and breaking the Sabbath. Just go up to a crowd of those fellows and hear them. Hear the nasty, obscene language and the miserable oaths they use. Why if a buzzard would come along flying in the air above a crowd of those men, he'd get within about ten feet of them and stop, and then say. "Whe-e-e-e-u," and spread his wings and sail away. And I tell you, when a crowd of men get so low that a buzzard won't come near them, they're pretty low. You say to me, "I don't like these Sunday Christians." I tell you that I do. I tell you that the man that keeps the Sabbath holy keeps every other day holy, and the man that violates the Sabbath violates every other day in the week.
Now, I want to talk to you about gambling.
I have no respect for those cotton gamblers and these speculators. I see that those fellows in the East have made a spec, and there's going to be many a one squeezed. I am glad that every now and then they catch some Ward or Fish and disgrace them. I wish these Christians would quit speculating, I do indeed. I tell them it's wrong to buck against futures, but you can't convince any of these old Methodist deacons who's just won about $30,000 that gambling in futures is wrong; oh, no. He wouldn't think that was any more wrong than it is for a goat to eat grass. But just let him lose $30,000 and he'll come and say: "O, it's wrong to deal in futures." The church raffles and lotteries are wrong, but the devil will help you to get them up. The devil will help you to get up anything of this kind in the church, but he charges you compound interest, and he'll sue you and levy on you when you haven't got a cent. I know that. I've been there. I say to you, fellow citizens, that people may talk about their gold and silver and greenbacks, and their hard and soft money, but I say to you, let us have honest money. I'd rather have one dollar I had worked for, that I had earned by the sweat of my brow, than all the millions of Jay Gould.
Here is a young man getting $50 a month. His livery stable is $25, Louisiana lottery tickets $10 or $15, theater tickets $15, tailor's bill $25. Where does he get his money? I knew a boy getting $40 and spending money like this in Atlanta, and one day his employer took him into a room and backed him up against the door and said: "Now, I know you are spending all this money. Where do you get it?" And the boy -- aha! the boy said that his step-mother sent it to him. Now, how foolish that was, for everybody knows that step-mothers don't send their boys any money. I had a step-mother, but she never sent me money. Look at this boy that's just won $10,000 in the Lousiana lottery, a concern which can't receive letters through the mails, and you have to whip the devil around the stump to get your money to it even. The money all goes in vile companionship and in pouring liquor down his throat, and he hunts up something else which will give him a chance of getting something for nothing. And here's the boy who has earned a dollar by hard work, and he puts it covered with sweat in his pants pocket, and he puts his pants under his pillow and goes to sleep, and that eagle on the dollar turns to a nightingale and sings to him in his dreams. But the man who deals in cotton futures can't blame his boy for buying Louisiana lottery tickets. A man told me once "There's a man who's a cotton buyer, and he's one of the most honest men on earth. He is so honest that he'll pay the poorest man, that can't read or write, the fair price for his bale of cotton," and I felt like going up to him and shaking hands with him and asking him if he didn't feel lonesome among his associates.
I want to speak licentiousness. It is the worst and most damnable of the cardinal sins. I was told not long ago that this wave of licentiousness had involved half of our society, and if it this is so I thought how long will it be before the mighty wave sweeps over and engulfs the other half. Let us build a wall around the virtue of our pure women a mile high. Oh, I believe that the most awful hell there is in the next world is reserved for the man that tampers with the virtue of a pure woman; and yet so our society is, that when such a thing as this happens, the woman sinks down lower and lower and passes into oblivion, while he is lionized. How different was the action of Christ!
This the evangelist illustrated by the story of Christ and the woman taken in adultery. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," and they all shrank away. There are many of these poor creatures who are longing for other things and other lives, and there are many of your St. Louis millionaires who would contribute thousands toward the building of a house of refuge for them. The evangelist then discussed libertinism and libertines, young and old, denouncing both in language far more vigorous than that used by evangelist Varley, although he did not descend to the indecent description and filthy detail of the London preacher. The immoral husband he especially denounced, saying as he did so, that he knew very well that he had in his audience a number of the very men of whom he was speaking, concluding his remarks upon this sin, with:
"I have more hope of any man than of the one who is in the power of licentiousness, and has given himself up to it. We can do very little with the man who has yielded himself up to an unhallowed alliance of this kind. We put our arms around him and try to pull him away, but he clings to his sin.
In conclusion, I'm agoing to tell you to beware of intemperance, the deadly sin of intemperance. This the evangelist disposed of briefly. In St. Joseph he had angered the saloon-keepers by speaking of their business, and he had heard that they were talking in an aggrieved way of his remarks. He had gone to one of them and told him to meet him and go with him to see the wife of a man who had sunk from respectability to drunkenness and had committed a crime for which he was then in the penitentiary. "Thus we will put our ears to her side and hear the lifeblood trickling away, and then, if you say I have been unjust, I will get down on my knees and beg your pardon." His own miserable experience as a drunkard was told from the time he married his Kentucky wife to the time of his conversion "I never had but one child who saw me drunk, and God took him away. I may, when I was raving, have said something brutal to him. When I meet him in Heaven I shall kneel down before him and ask him if this is true, and if it is I shall ask forgiveness."
Now I want all of you who think you will try to abandon or shun these sins I have spoken of to stand up and let me see you.
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