T. DeWitt Talmage
"Masterly retreat" is a term often used in military
circles, but in religion there is no such thing. It is
either glorious advance or disgraceful and ignominious
falling back. I address the more than three hundred
members added today, and indeed all Christians, in the
order given to the Israelites by the Lord through
Moses: "Go forward."
It would be a strange thing if all our anxiety about
men ceased the moment they were converted. You would
almost doubt the sanity of the farmer who, having
planted the corn and seen it just sprout above ground,
should say: "My work is all done. I have no more
anxiety for the field." No. There is work for the
plough and the hoe, and there must be a careful
keeping up of the fences, and there must be a
frightening away of the birds that would pillage the
field. And I say the entrance upon Christian life is
only the implantation of grace in the heart. There is
earnest, hard work yet to be done, and perhaps many
years of anxiety before there shall be heard the
glorious shout of "Harvest home." The beginning to be
a Christian is only putting down the foundation; but
after that there are years of hammering, polishing,
carving, lifting, before the structure is completed.
It takes five years to make a Christian character; it
takes twenty years; it takes forty years; it takes
seventy years, if a man shall live so long. In other
words, a man dying after half a century of Christian
experience feels that he has only learned the "A B C"
of a glorious alphabet.
It is May now in the natural world. The May blossoms
will soon scatter, but the pumps are busy in the
trees, the apple tree and the pear tree and the plum
tree, sending forth fountains of life that will after
awhile hang out in luscious fruit. And so it is in the
hearts of many of you. The May blossoms of your first
experience will scatter and we are anxiously watching
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