But this refuge will be of no worth to you unless you lay hold of it. The time will come when you will wish that you had done so. It will come soon. At an unexpected moment it will come. The castle bridge will be drawn up and the fortress closed. When you see this discomfiture, and look back, and look up at the storm gathering, and the billowy darkness of death has rolled upon the sheeted flash of the storm, you will discover the utter desolation of those who are outside of the refuge.
What you propose to do in this matter you had better do right away. A mistake this morning may never be corrected. Jesus, the Great Captain of salvation, puts forth his wounded hand to-day to cheer you on the race to heaven. If you despise it, the ghastliest vision that will haunt the eternal darkness of your soul will be the gaping, bleeding wounds of the dying Redeemer.
Jesus is to be crucified to-day. Think not of it as a day that is past. He comes before you to-day weary and worn. Here is the cross, and here is the victim. But there are no nails, and there are no thorns, and there are no hammers. Who will furnish these? A man out yonder says: “I will furnish with my sins the nails!” Now we have the cross, and the victim, and the nails. But we have no thorns. Who will furnish the thorns? A man in the audience says: “With my sins I will furnish the thorns!” Now we have the cross, the victim, the nails, and the thorns. But we have no hammers. Who will furnish the hammers? A voice in the audience says: “My hard heart shall be the hammer!” Everything is ready now. The crucifixion goes out! See Jesus dying! “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.”
“And it came to pass
on the morrow, when the Philistines came
to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons
fallen in Mount Gilboa.”—I. Sam. xxxi: 8.
Some of you were at South Mountain, or Shiloh, or Ball’s Bluff, or Gettysburg, and I ask you if there is any sadder sight than a battle-field after the guns have stopped firing? I walked across the field of Antietam just after the conflict. The scene was so sickening I shall not describe it. Every valuable thing had been taken from the bodies of the dead, for there are always vultures hovering over and around about an army, and they pick up the watches, and the memorandum books, and the letters, and the daguerreotypes, and the hats, and the coats, applying them to their own uses. The dead make no resistance. So there are always camp followers going on and after an army, as when Scott went down into Mexico, as when Napoleon marched up toward Moscow, as when Von Moltke went to Sedan. There is a similar scene in my text.