35. “Steal Away To Jesus.”

Only A Prayer Meeting by C. H. Spurgeon

“Return! O wanderer, to thy home,
Thy Father calls for thee;
No longer now an exile roam,
In guilt and misery.

“Steal away, steal away,
steal away to Jesus,
Steal away, steal away home;
for Jesus waits to save you.

“Return! O wanderer, to thy home,
’Tis Jesus calls for thee;
The Spirit and the Bride say, Come;
Oh, now for refuge flee!

“Return! O wanderer, to thy home,
’Tis madness to delay;
There are no pardons in the tomb,
And brief is mercy’s day.”

May those sweet words of invitation be very graciously blessed! I was smiling, while you were singing that refrain, “Steal away to Jesus,” at the recollection of something that happened a long time since. A brother minister was, years ago, almost as eccentric as I am said to be, though the peculiarity after all is not in us, but in other people who are not so concentric as we are. After an evangelistic service, we were holding a prayer-meeting, or a meeting for enquirers. Among the rest of the anxious ones, there was a young man in whom we were both interested. I was kneeling on one side of him, and my friend knelt down on the other side of him, and prayed a prayer which made me laugh,- I could not help it. He said, “Lord, here is a poor sinner, who has been a servant of the devil, and he has run away from his master, and never given him any notice.” I was amused by the expression at the time; but there is a great truth in it, and I want, just for a few moments, to call your attention to that truth, for it may be of lasting service to any of you who long to escape from the slavery of sin and Satan.

First, let me remark that, if you give the devil notice, you will never get away from him. If that prodigal son had gone to the citizen in the far country, and said to him, “I am engaged to you for another week to feed the swine, but I give you notice that, at the end of the week, I shall quit your service,” he would never have gone back to his father. The only way of escape for him was to steal away home; so he not only said, “I will arise and go to my father,” but at once “he arose, and came to his father.” Imitate his example. Do not give the devil any notice. This is the very meaning of the refrain, with which we have been familiar ever since we first heard it so pathetically sung by the Jubilee Singers,-

“Steal away to Jesus.”

That simple sentence may be a very delightful voice to someone here who has been living a life of sin. Do not go back into the midst of your old companions; but steal away to Jesus; steal away home. Perhaps your life has been a very evil one, altogether contrary to the law of God; yet here you are to-night, in the house of prayer, and among a company of praying people. Now, I beseech you, do not say what you will do tomorrow, or in a month’s time, or when you have set some matters right; but steal away to Jesus at once, just as the poor slave in the Southern States did when he found a chance of gaining his freedom. I warrant you that he did not go to his master, and say, “I’s goin’ to run away from you tomorrow, massa.” Oh, dear, no! But on some moon-shiny night, when his master least expected it, Sambo was away in the woods, and was being guided by the blessed pole-star to the land of liberty. I say to you again, imitate his example, steal away, steal away to Jesus, if you are held in bondage by sin and Satan; I cannot give you any better advice than that. Procrastination is not only the thief of time, but the murderer of many souls. Remember those verses we sometimes sing,-

“To-day, a pardoning God
Will hear the suppliant pray;
To-day, a Saviour’s cleansing blood
Will wash thy guilt away.

“But grace, so dearly bought
If yet thou wilt despise,
Thy fearful doom with vengeance fraught
Will fill thee with surprise.”

Then again, as to the idea of giving the devil notice, you cannot give it. Some try to give this notice by attempting to escape from the power of some one sin, when all the while they are in captivity to other sins as securely as ever. There is many a man who has meant to break off wrong-doing by degrees, and to loose himself from his fetters one by one; but he has not been able to do it; it can only be done all at once, straight away, there and then. Sin is like Joseph’s mistress; you must not parley with it, you must leave your garment, and run away; your only safety is in immediate flight. We say to you, as Mentor did to Telemaque, “Fly, Telemaque, fly! Your only hope of conquering is by flight.” Oh! get away at once, poor sinner. Steal away, steal away to Jesus. Let us sing that second verse and the chorus again very softly,-

“Return! O wanderer to thy home,
’Tis Jesus calls for thee;
The Spirit and the Bride say, Come;
Oh, now for refuge flee!

“Steal away, steal away,
steal away to Jesus,
Steal away, steal away home;
for Jesus waits to save you.”

Just this word in closing. You know that, in the old slave days, when one negro wanted to run away from his master, there was often someone who told him the way. There were some good people who worked what they called “The Underground Railway” by which they passed the slaves on from one place to another till they reached the land of liberty; so, to-night, there are many friends all about this Tabernacle who would be only too glad to speak to any of you who want to steal away to Jesus; and especially if you will come to the platform when the meeting is over, you will find some of my brethren who will be delighted to tell you how to get out of the great dismal swamp of sin. They know the road; some of them have hardly brushed the mud off their own garments yet, and they will be most pleased of all if they can guide you into freedom. The all-important thing is to get to Jesus. He is the great Liberator, and “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

If any of you have found your way to Jesus, let me say to you that it is all very well to steal away from the old master, but do not steal up to the new one. Come right up to Him, and say, “Thine I am, Lord Jesus, and I am not ashamed to own Thee as my Lord and Master.” Come out boldly on the Lord’s side, be baptized according to His command, and His example, too, and unite with His people in fellowship and holy service. If you are truly the Lord’s, you will never want to steal away from Him, and He will never give you up to your old master again, for so hath He declared,-

“The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

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