D.L. Moody: “The Dearest Institution on Earth”
Let me say this especially to all young converts. I have heard that some say they can be Christians and not unite with the church; and I was told, last night, that one of them said I didn’t belong to the church. That is a mistake. I tried, as soon as I was converted, to enter the church; but at first they would not let me; some doubted whether I was converted. But I have been in the bosom of the church ever since, and have never seen the day or the hour that I would be out of it. I believe it is the dearest institution on earth; that there is no institution to be compared with it. It was the church that Christ died for, because he loved it so dearly.
I have very little sympathy with these men who talk about the coldness of the churches. It is well enough for men who are hard at work in the church to talk about it. I contend that the best institution under heaven is the church. I have always been a member of the church; and if ever I get out of it, I will have to be put out. Christ died to redeem the church; and every man who is true to Christ ought to support it. Did you ever think what this city would be, if not for the church? There would not be a man’s life safe in the city. The church is the place where God meets and blesses his people.
Let it be distinctly understood, my advice is, join some church at once. Go there, not for getting anything by it, but to do good. Go there, not to get your heart warmed, but go with your heart already warmed. Get some church home where you will get sympathy, and friends to take an interest in you. So, my advice is, just unite with the church, and then go to work. A good place for you to go to work is in the Sabbath-school; and if you cannot find a class or scholars, go down into the lanes and alleys, and get them. The first day I went out in Chicago, I got eighteen; and for the first time found I had a talent, and could do something. It was not long before the building could not hold all that were brought.
If a man is born of God, he should take shelter in the church, that it may be to him a nursing mother. To do so ought to be held not only the duty, which it is, but a glorious privilege. I have no sympathy with those people who stay out of the church and simply throw stones at it, and proclaim what it ought to be. If we can make it better, let us go in. Don’t expect the Church of God upon earth to be without failings. If the church is cold, go in and warm it up. Let us each do what we can to make it better. And then the Sunday-school — let us make that better. Go out on the streets and get those children, and teach them the words of life; that is the way to maintain good works. Bible societies should be maintained; Bible reading should be maintained. Whatever the good work is, carefully maintain it.
~ From Moody’s sermons “Sowing and Reaping” and “Work” in The Gospel Awakening