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Old Samba and "Massa."
A friend of mine said he was down in Natchez before the war, and he and a friend of his went out riding one Saturday--they were teaching school through the week--and they drove out back from Natchez. It was a beautiful day, and they saw an old slave coming up, and they thought they would have a little fun. They had just come to a place where there was a fork in the road, and there was a sign-post which read, "40 miles to Liberty." One of the young men said to the old darkey driver, "Samba, how old are you?" "I don't know, massa. I guess I'se about eighty." "Can you read?" "No, sah; we don't read in dis country. It's agin the law." "Can you tell what is on that sign-post?" "Yes, sah; it says 40 miles to Liberty." "Well, now," said my friend, "why don't you follow that road and get your liberty. It says there, 'only 40 miles to Liberty.' Now, why don't you take that road and go there?" The old man's countenance changed, and he said, "Oh, young massa, that is all a sham. If the post pointed out the road to the liberty that God gives, we might try it. There could be no sham in that." My friend said he had never heard anything more eloquent from the lips of a preacher. God wants all his sons to have liberty.
"Liberty Now and Forever."
When Miss Smiley went down South to teach, she went to a hotel and found everything covered with dirt. The tables were dirty, dishes dirty, beds were dirty. So she called an old colored woman who was in the house, and said, "Now you know that the Northern people set you at liberty. I came from the North and I don't like dirt, so I want you to clean the house." The old colored woman set to work, and it seemed as if she did more work in that half day than she had done in a month before. When the lady got back the colored woman came to her and said, "Now, is I free or ben't I not? When I go to my old massa he says I ain't free, and when I go to my own people they say I is, and I don't know whether I'm free or not. Some people told me Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation, but massa says he didn't; he hadn't any right to." So Christian people go along, not knowing whether they are free or not. Why, when they have the Spirit they are as free as air. Christ came for that. He didn't come to set us free and then leave us in servitude. He came to give us liberty now and forever.
Out of Libby Prison.
There was a story told me while I was in Philadelphia, by Capt. Trumbull. He said when he was in Libby prison the news came that his wife was in Washington, and his little child was dying: and the next news that came was that his child was dead, and the mother remained in Washington in hopes that her husband could come with her and take that child off to New England and bury it; but that was the last he heard. One day the news came into the prison that there was a boat up from City Point, and there were over nine hundred men in the prison rejoicing at once. They expected to get good news. Then came the news that there was only one man in that whole number that was to be let go, and they all began to say, "Who is it?" It was some one who had some influential friend at Washington that had persuaded the government to take an interest in him and get him out. The whole prison was excited. At last an officer came and shouted at the top of his voice, "Henry Clay Trumbull!" The chaplain told me his name never sounded so sweet to him as it did that day. That was election, but you can't find any Henry Clay Trumbull in the Bible. There is no special case in the Bible. God's proclamations are to all sinners. Everybody can get out of prison that wants to. The trouble is, they don't want to go. They had rather be captives to some darling sin.
An Emperor Sets Forty Million Slaves Free.
Once the Emperor of Russia had a plan by which he was to liberate the serfs of that country. There were forty millions of them. Of some of them, their whole time was sold, of others, only a part. The Emperor called around him his council, and wanted to have them devise some way to set the slaves at liberty. After they had conferred about it for six months, one night the council sent in their decision, sealed, that they thought it was not expedient. The Emperor went down to the Greek Church that night and partook of the Lord's Supper, and he set his house in order, and the next morning you could hear the tramp of soldiers in the streets of St. Petersburgh. The Emperor summoned his guard, and before noon sixty-five thousand men were surrounding that palace. Just at midnight there came out a proclamation that every slave in Russia was forever set free. The proclamation had gone forth, and all the slaves of the realm believed it. They have been free ever since. Suppose they had not believed it? They never then would have got the benefit of it. If one man can liberate forty millions, has not God got the power to liberate every captive?
Moody on "Duty"--How He Loves His Mother.
I have an old mother away down in the Connecticut mountains, and I have been in the habit of going to see her every year for twenty years. Suppose I go there and say, "Mother, you were very kind to me when I was young--you were very good to me; when father died you worked hard for us all to keep us together, and so I have come to see you because it is my duty." I went then only because it was my duty. Then she would say to me, "Well, my son, if you only come to see me because it is your duty, you need not come again." And that is the way with a great many of the servants of God. They work for Him because it is their duty--not for love. Let us abolish this word duty, and feel that it is only a privilege to work for God, and let us try to remember that what is done merely from a sense of duty is not acceptable to God.
Moody with Gen. Grant's Army in Richmond.
It was my privilege to go to Richmond with Gen. Grant's army. Now just let us picture a scene. There are a thousand poor captives, and they are lawful captives, prisoners in Libby Prison. Talk to some of them that have been there for months and hear them tell their story. I have wept for hours to hear them tell how they suffered, how they could not hear from their homes and their loved ones for long intervals, and how sometimes they would get messages that their loved ones were dying and they could not get home to be with them in their dying hours. Let us, for illustration, picture a scene. One beautiful day in the Spring they are there in the prison. All news has been kept from them. They have not heard what has been going on around Richmond, and I can imagine one says one day, "Ah, boys, listen! I hear a band of music, and it sounds as if they were playing the old battle cry of the Republic. It sounds as if they were playing "The star spangled banner! long may it wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!" And the hearts of the poor fellows begin to leap for joy. "I believe Richmond is taken. I believe they are coming to deliver us," and every man in that prison, is full of joy, and by and by the sound comes nearer and they see it is so. It is the Union army! Next the doors of the prison are unlocked; they fly wide open, and those thousand men are set free. Wasn't that good news to them? Could there have been any better news? They are out of prison, out of bondage, delivered. Christ came to proclaim liberty to the captive.
Condemned to be Shot.
There was a man came from Europe to this country a year or two ago, and he became dissatisfied and went to Cuba in 1867 when they had that great civil war there. Finally he was arrested for a spy, court-martialed, and condemned to be shot. He sent for the American Consul and the English Consul, and went on to prove to them that he was no spy. These two men were thoroughly convinced that the man was no spy, and they went to one of the Spanish officers and said, "This man you have condemned to be shot is an innocent man." "Well," the Spanish officer says, "the man has been legally tried by our laws and condemned, and the law must take its course and the man must die." And the next morning the man was led out; the grave was already dug for him, and the black cap was put on him, and the soldiers were there ready to receive the order, "Fire," and in a few moments the man would be shot and put in that grave and covered up, when who should rise up but the American Consul, who took the American flag and wrapped it around him, and the English Consul took the English flag and wrapped it around him; and they said to those soldiers, "Fire on those flags if you dare!" Not a man dared; there were two great governments behind those flags. And so God says, "Come under my banner, come under the banner of love, come under the banner of heaven." God will take care of all that will come under His banner.
Snapping the Chains.
In the North there was a minister talking to a man in the inquiry-room. The man says, "My heart is so hard, it seems as if it was chained, and I cannot come." "Ah," says the minister, "come along, chain and all," and he just came to Christ hard-hearted, chain and all, and Christ snapped the fetters, and set him free right there. So come along. If you are bound hand and foot by Satan, it is the work of God to break the fetters; you cannot break them.
Napoleon and the Conscript.
There is a well-known story told of Napoleon the First's time. In one of the conscriptions, during one of his many wars, a man was balloted as a conscript who did not want to go, but he had a friend who offered to go in his place. His friend joined the regiment in his name, and was sent off to the war. By and by a battle came on, in which he was killed, and they buried him on the battle-field. Some time after the Emperor wanted more men, and by some mistake the first man was balloted a second time. They went to take him but he remonstrated. You cannot take me." "Why not?" "I am dead," was the reply. "You are not dead; you are alive and well." "But I am dead," he said "Why, man, you must be mad. Where did you die?" "At such a battle, and you left me buried on such a battlefield." "You talk like a mad man," they cried; but the man stuck to his point that he had been dead and buried some months. "You look up your books," he said, "and see if it is not so." They looked, and found that he was right. They found the man's name entered as drafted, sent to the war, and marked off as killed. "Look here," they said, "you didn't die; you must have got some one to go for you; it must have been your substitute." "I know that," he said; "he died in my stead. You cannot touch me: I died in that man, and I go free. The law has no claim against me." They would not recognize the doctrine of substitution, and the case was carried to the Emperor. But he said that the man was right, that he was dead and buried in the eyes of the law, and that France had no claim against him. This story may or may not be true but one thing I know is true; Jesus Christ suffered death for the sinner, and those who accept Him are free from the law.
The King's Pardon.
A man was once being tried for a crime, the punishment of which was death. The witnesses came in one by one and testified to his guilt; but there he stood, quite calm and unmoved. The judge and the jury were quite surprised at his indifference; they could not understand how he could take such a serious matter so calmly. When the jury retired, it did not take them many minutes to decide on a verdict "Guilty;" and when the judge was passing the sentence of death upon the criminal he told him how surprised he was that he could be so unmoved in the prospect of death. When the judge had finished, the man put his hand in his bosom, pulled out a document, and walked out of the dock a free man. Ah, that was how he could be so calm; it was a free pardon from his king, which he had in his pocket all the time. The king had instructed him to allow the trial to proceed, and to produce the pardon only when he was condemned. No wonder, then, that he was indifferent as to the result of the trial. Now that is just what will make us joyful in the great day of judgment: we have got a pardon from the Great King, and it is sealed with the blood of His Son.
The Judgement of Solomon. Gustave Dore. 1 Kings, iii.
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