A Sister in Christ
May 23, 1869 — Duane Methodist Episcopal Church, New York City
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. I am aware, dear friends, to-night, that I stand before some of you who have learned to love me, and may who for years have accounted me as a sister in Christ; and I bless God that I have this precious privilege, “even though it be a cross that raiseth me.” I am also aware that I stand before some who will jusdge me severely; but, dear ones, it matters but little to me what your judgment may be, as long as I feel acquitted before the Judge of the whole earth. Dear Savior, grant that those who have entered within the house of God may find the gate of heaven! You will find the words selected for my text for this evening’s medication — and now, dear friends, don’t expect to hear a great sermon, because I am no sermonizer; I am only up to talk for Jesus, and if you call it preaching, it is your own look-out, and not mine. I simply stand up before you a sinner, and nothing else. But I wan to present to you my Jesus, and God grand that you may see him in his glory! My text is taken from the 10th chapter of Hebrew and part of the 23d verse:
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.”
St. Paul had been talking to the Hebrews in reference to the sacrificial death of our Redeemer, and had shown them how this precious blood of Christ had put away sin and uncleanness. He had presented to them the true and living way, even the way of the cross. He had told them how they should draw near with true hearts in full assurance of faith, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and their bodies washed with the pure water of heaven; then no doubt looking upon them and beholding some who had professed the faith in Christ, and yet had wavered and vacillated — that they had laid hold on Christ one day, and on another had turned back to the world — St. Paul, observing them, began to exhort them to hold fast the profession of their faith; for St. Paul understood very well, as every searcher of the scriptures understands, that unless we, after having professed faith in Christ, hold thereto by faith, and simple faith, in vain is our profession. And this to my soul is a great grief and sorrow, and to every observing child of God it is so, that when we enter the Church of God and see upon the register so many that have bowed about the consecrated altar, and have then made a profession of their faith in God, we in a few brief days find that the adversary of souls has come in and drawn them away by his wicked devices, and they follow in the footsteps of that dark fiend of despair, who leads the to inevitable destruction. And therefore it behooves every soul who professes a love for the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they stand upon the watch-towr and watch, lest the adversary should overcome them. And not only are we to stand there, but we are constantly to hold onto the blood-stained cross of our faith. How my soul revels in and enjoys the holy, blood-stained cross; how I love to stand up before a dying world and proclaim the risen Jesus; how much I love to tell of the precious blood that cleanses away the sins of the world!
“Whosoever will come to me.” The invitation is as wide as the world, and it is as broad as eternity — it takes in every son and daughter of Adam. The Bible teaches us that there is a hell; but , loving ones, it is not for you or me. It is prepared for the devil and his angels, and if you enter it you go there determinedly and willfully. And how many there are that are going in the downward road! You are gathered there to-night, but it does not show that you are the children of God. There may be many who have been led here to-night, and what for? “What went ye out for to see, a reed shaken by the wind?” How vain, then, was your coming here to-night! You had no idea of worshiping God. You came here out of idle curiosity, and to see what? A sinner, saved by grace.
Glory be to Christ! And I would, like St. Paul, exclaim to-night, Would to God that you all felt the pardoning blood of Christ as this poor, sinful heart has been permitted to feel it; that you might rejoice in the love of Jesus, who sits to-night on the mediatorial throne to intercede in your behalf! Many say that I am apt to utter truth extremely plain, and I would like to speak plainly to you. I would like to speak to those who profess faith in Christ. The worldly do not expect to be guiding-stars pointing up to heaven; but the professing children of God, be they never so young, never so aged, we expect to see them walk with an upright and public conversation, being distinguished and separated from the world. You remember, brethren, that there was a difference in that night when the destroying angel passed over Egypt. Among the Egyptians there was a darkness that might be felt, but in the house of Israel there was light. So there is a difference between God’s people and the people of the devil. But I wish there was a greater difference. How I wish that every one that felt God’s love would stand out a peculiar people! There would not be then so many sinners in the world. But the trouble is that there are professors that are not possessors; that a sinner is perfectly at ease in their company. They feel sure that they will never hear about Jesus. The sinner may go into their society for many months, but they never hear any thing of the Lord. I met a gentleman a few weeks since — my custom is at the revivals to go among them and speak to them individually — and I stooped down and said to a gentleman, “Brother, do you love Jesus?” The gentleman was about forty. He looked up and said, “That is a strange question.” “There is nothing strange about it,” said I. “My simple question is, Do you love Jesus?” “I have been a professor of religion twenty years,” replied he, “and no one has ever said such a thing as that to me.” “Look into your heart, and say whether you love Jesus.” “I would not like to answer the question.” “Well, you are a sinner, and I beseech you to go to the altar and ask Christ to give you religion.” I am really glad that the Methodist religion is known at once. Years ago I was thought to be as good as necessary, and yet I was as worldly as was any one. I was just as fond of society and the giddy follies of life, but God in his mercy saved me. One night I sat in the third seat thee, and John Parker stood here and said, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” It fell upon my soul. I knew that it meant me — that there was no escape for me. And then I looked up and saw upon the accursed tree the five bleeding wounds of my Redeemer, and that spoke of redemption and full salvation pure. I cried out, “God take me and make me all thing own.” But a few weeks later — there are some brethren here who can testify — one asked me to come to the class-meeting in the schoolroom beneath. I said no, that I did not think it looked well to see a lady speak in public. But you see I have got bravely over it. “Well,” said the old man, “I’ll tell you what I will do. If you come you shall not be asked to speak; only come and help us to sing.” And so I attended the class-meeting, and I heard one sister speak of her love for Jesus, and then, as her eyes became lighted up, she began to expatiate upon the glories of this religion. My heart began to condemn me. By and by a dear old saint rose and said, “O, I rejoice that I have this precious privilege, for the Bible teaches me that “he who confesses me before men I will confess before my Father and his angels.” That was an arrow to my soul. I felt as if I was ashamed of Jesus, and he would be ashamed of me. Still I had no idea of saying a solitary word. He then came and said, “We won’t ask you, dear sister, to speak. God bless our dear sister.!” And he has blessed me. Halleluiah to his name! There came from heaven an electric spark, and it thrilled through me. Halleluiah to the Lamb! I am ready now, not only to speak for Jesus, but to die for Jesus. They tell me that I have no right to do this. But God forgive me if I do wrong to speak for Jesus; but I will and when my voice is hushed in death my soul will be attuned in power. Halleluiah to the Lamb of God! I am glad that there is coming a day of judgment, when these critics and I will have to stand before the throne of God and answer for the sins done in the body. And if I did nothing more wicked than to speak for Jesus the pearly gates will be thrown open, and then my soul will be in the presence of Him whom I adore. I am determined to hold fast the profession of my faith without wavering. You see yonder that majestic ship riding upon the waves. She seems as if being lulled to sleep. The breeze seems to fan the sails, and she rides with majesty, sublimity, and grandeur. But look at yonder cloud. It seems to be all calmness and peace. But it draws near .Hark to the whistling wind! Hark to the peals of thunder as they rattle in the heavens! And immediately all is confusion. They hasten upon deck, and the command goes forth. “Reef the sails,’ and they are quickly gathered up by nimble fingers. And then the giant waves begin to roll, the sky looks angry, and the clouds look fierce, and all nature seems convulsed. Just then you see a form upon the towering wave. The sailors have picked up a coil of rope and thrown it out, and the man lays hold upon it, and nothing will compel him to relax his tenacious grasp. And why? Because he sees salvation just ahead, and therefore he holds on until they bring him up over the side. Sinner, so it is with you. You are tossed upon the tempestuous billows, but to-night Jesus casts out the rope of faith and bids you catch it. It is the opportunity for you to be drawn safely to heaven. Will you be drawn into the haven of rest? God help you! Let us hold on by faith. This matter of faith is to me most interesting, but now, as in the time of the antediluvians, it is looked upon as a sort of fanaticism. When they saw the old man of that time building his ark, and laying the keel safe and strong, they shrugged their shoulders and said it was time that he was taken care of, he is crazy. But when they saw him and his family go in, and the door shut by the hand of God, then they began to fear. And by and by the fountains of the great deep are broken up. They climb to the topmost pinnacle to escape the waters, but it is useless. Though he is a God of mercy, he is also a God of justice. O, glory be to Christ! Trust to God, and we can not fall or falter. No, though the world despise and leave us, yet we have dear Jesus, May God bless you, and grand that when congregations break up on earth they may meet in heaven, where congregations never break up, and Sabbaths have no end! May we mingle with that redeemed host, and sing forever the praises of his glory! May the Lord grant it, for the Redeemer’s sake! Amen!
Source: New York World, May 24, 1869.
Also: Life and Labors of Mrs. Maggie Newton Van Cott, The First Lady Licensed to Preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, by John Onesimus Foster (Cincinnati: Hitchcock and Walden) 1872, pp. 285-294.