EXCUSES - Part 1
by Dwight L. Moody
ONE METHODIST VOL. 1 NO. 5 December 1998

"And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Luke 14:18-20

NO sooner does anyone begin to preach the Gospel than men and women begin "to make excuse." It is the old story. There is not an unsaved person here but has got some excuse. If I were to go to each of you and ask why you do not accept God's invitation to the Gospel feast, you would have an excuse ready on the end of your tongue; and if you had not one ready, the devil would be there to help you to make one. And if they could be answered he is ready to make new ones. He has had six thousand years' experience, and he is very good at it; he can give you as many as you want.

Do you know the origin of excuses? You will find it away back in Eden. When Adam had sinned, he tried to excuse himself. "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." He tried to lay the blame on God, Eve tried to lay it on the serpent; and down to the present time, men and women, with one consent, begin to make excuse.

Remember that these men Luke tells us about were not invited to a funeral, or to hear some dry, stupid lecture or sermon; they were not invited to visit an hospital, or a prison, or a madhouse to witness some terrible scene or execution something that would have pained them. It was to go to a feast. The Gospel is represented in the Bible as a feast. In the evening of this dispensation there is going to be the marriage supper of God's Son.

Blessed is he that shall be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. If I know my own heart I would rather be torn limb from limb, or have my heart taken from my body this moment, and be present on that glorious day, than have the wealth of the world rolled at my feet, and miss that wonderful banquet at the marriage of the Lamb.

Not only was this a feast, but it was a royal feast. If you had the honor of an invitation from Queen Victoria of England - if the Queen invited you to some great banquet got up in honor of her son, there is not a man or woman here but would accept the invitation. You would all want it to be put into the papers, to show how you had been honored. But here is something worth more than that. Here is an invitation from the King of kings, the Lord of lords, God's only Son. By and by He will take His bride into the bridal chamber. The marriage supper of the Lamb is hastening on. He has gone to prepare new mansions for His bride; the old mansions are not good enough; and He will come by and by to take her to Himself. It is an invitation to this feast that I bring you. The invitations are going out now to every corner of the earth. There is not one here who is not invited. For eighteen hundred years God's messengers have been crossing over valley and mountain, over desert and sea, from end to end of the earth, inviting men and women to the Gospel feast. What an honor for worms of the dust! When man prepares a feast, there is a great rush to see who will get the best place. But God prepares His feast, and the chairs would all be empty if His disciples did not go out and compel them to come in.

Then, when man prepares a feast, he invites his friends, those who love him; but God invites His bitterest enemies, those who are in rebellion against Him. And yet men make excuse! No sooner is the invitation given by God than the excuses begin to rain in.

Did you ever stop to think what would take place if God should take, at his word, everyone who makes excuse? if He were to say, "Yes, if you want to be excused from this feast, I will excuse you," and with the next stroke should sweep them all from the face of the earth? Supposing everyone in this land should be taken at their word, and laid in the arms of death, how many of your shops would be closed tomorrow; how many homes would be filled with mourning and tears? Not a bartender would be left to carry on his traffic; every rumseller rants to be excused. He knows that if he accepts of this invitation, he would have to give up his hellish trade. He could not go on making all those fatherless children, and taking the bread out of the mouth of the orphan and the widow, and be going on his way to the marriage supper of the Lamb at the same time. Every bartender and every drunkard wants to be excused. If God did excuse them and take them away with a stroke, you would have no drunkards reeling through your streets There would be no harlots then, for every harlot wants to be excused; she knows she has to give up her sins if she wants to be present at the supper of the Lamb. And your princely merchants, many of them, would be gone. They do not want to accept the invitation, because they think if they do they cannot make money so fast. They are carrying on some business which would then have to be stopped, and, with one consent, they begin to make excuse. But oh, my friends, it would be a solemn time if God should take men at their word. The grass would soon be growing in the streets, and the living would be occupied in burying the dead.

Now, be honest with God today. God is honest; He means what He says. This is an honest invitation, and He wants us to be honest. If you do not want to be at this supper, why not say so? Why make excuses? They are nothing but lies. Is there anyone of you can rise up and give a reasonable excuse - if so, tell us what it is - why you don't accept this invitation? Think for a minute. What valid reason can you give? You have none. It is not often we get an invitation to attend a royal feast, but here comes one to be present at the marriage supper of God's only Son. Is it not downright folly for anyone to refuse? Just think what you are asking to be excused from? From heaven; from the society of the pure; from those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Man asks to be excused from the mansions which Christ has prepared; from the society of the angels; from God the Father, and Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost. All the really great men of the world are not down here, they are in heaven. You talk of the great men of today, but I tell you the best this earth has ever had are there, and the best that ever lived will be gathered at that feast. For six thousand years they have been gathering there - all the pure of the earth - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, we shall sit down with the patriarchs and prophets, and apostles and martyrs, and with the best that have lived upon this earth. I would rather die tonight and be sure of meeting the bliss of the purified in yon world of light, than live for centuries with the wealth of this world at my feet, and miss the marriage supper of the Lamb. I have missed many appointments in my life, but, by the grace of God, I mean to make sure of that one. Why, the blessed privilege of sitting down at the marriage Supper of the Lamb, to see the King in his beauty, to be forever with the Lord, who would miss it?

Let us take up these three men who, "with one consent, began to make excuse."

What did the first one say? "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it." Someone has said, Why did he not look at the ground before he bought it? If he had been a good business man, he would have seen his ground first, he couldn't make the bargain any better by going to look at it now. And now that he has got it, he can go and look at it at anytime; the land could not run away! It was not that he had made a partial bargain and might withdraw, or that someone might step in ahead of him and get the ground from him. He did not even have that excuse. He had bought the land, there was no fear that he should lose his title to it. Yet he must needs go and see it. Strange time to go and see ground just at supper-time! On the face of it, it was a downright lie. He did not want to go to the feast, and so he manufactured this excuse to ease his conscience. That is what people make excuses for. The devil gets men into that cradle and rocks them to sleep in it.

What did the second man say? "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them. I pray thee have me excused." Why not prove them before he bought them? It was no time to prove oxen after they were bought. And now that the bargain was closed he could prove them any time. Why not let them stand in the stall till he had accepted this invitation? Don't you see that was another lie?

The third man's excuse was the most ridiculous of them all. "I have married a wife and therefore I cannot come." Why did he not take his wife along with him? Who likes to go to a feast better than a young bride? He might have asked her to go too; and if she were not willing, then let her stay at home. The fact was, he did not want to go.

Eighteen hundred years have rolled away, and they tell us the world has grown wiser; they say it has improved wonderfully during these years; but tell me, have men got any better excuses? Young lady! can you give a better excuse? Have you got an excuse that will stand the light of eternity, have you got an excuse that will even satisfy yourself? Men try every kind of excuse, but the man does not live who can give a good one. Let some terrible disease lay hold of a man, let death come and look him in the face, and his excuses are gone in a moment. My friends, your excuses will look altogether different when you come to stand before the great tribunal of your judge.

I would just like to take up some of the popular excuses of the present day. There is one very common one, "I do not like this minister or that preacher." Well, what has that to do with it? What have you to do with the messenger? Suppose a boy comes and gives me a dispatch, some good news from my wife. I don't turn round to see who brings it. He may be black or white, that is nothing to me. It is the message I care for. Is it not the fact that God invites you to a feast? What are you looking at the messenger for? I have heard this excuse till I am tired, "I don't like this minister or that minister, this person or that one who calls himself a Christian." Never mind about the messenger. The question is, are you willing to receive the message from God? Do you believe the Word of God is true, and that God invites you to this feast? Do you believe that the invitation is to "every creature" in the world? You have nothing to do with the preacher who brings the message. If the message is from God, I ask you, why not accept it? If you are going to wait until you find some perfect man or woman to bring you the invitation, you will never accept it. There was never but one perfect Man. You will find a good many flaws in our character, a good many things you may not like in the followers of Christ, but I challenge you to find a flaw in the character of our Master. He bids you come. And anyone who accepts the invitation He will receive.

Another excuse. Only the other night, a lady came to me in the inquiry-room and said, "There are so many things in the Bible I cannot understand." No doubt about that. God says, the carnal man cannot understand spiritual things, and the Bible is a spiritual book. How can the unregenerate heart understand the Bible? Well, you say, if it is a sealed book, how am I going to be saved? Well, when God put salvation before the world, He put that very plain. The word of God may be darkened to the natural man, but the way of salvation is written so plain, that the little child of six years old can understand it if she will. Take this passage and see if you do not understand it:- "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come;' and let him that heareth say, 'Come;' and let him that is athirst come." Are not many of you thirsty? God says come. "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Then you know what it is to take a gift? God puts salvation before you as a Gift.

- "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." You can understand that? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." You know what it is to believe? At any rate you know what it is to trust, to commit your soul to the Lord Jesus Christ - that is all. There are dark and mysterious things in the Bible now, but when you begin to trust Christ your eyes will be opened, and the Bible will be a near book to you. Many things that are dark and mysterious today, tomorrow will have a new beauty. It will become the Book of books to you. Today Christ may be a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness; but He will become to you the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely, the bright, and the morning star, if you take Him as your Savior. Then you will understand the Bible.

No book in the world has been so misjudged as the Bible. Men judge it without reading it. Or perhaps they read a bit here and a bit there, and then close it saying, "It is so dark and mysterious!" You take a book nowadays, and read it. Someone asks you what you think about it." Well," you say, "I have only read it through once, not very carefully, and I should not like to give an opinion." Yet people take up God's book, read a few pages, and condemn the whole of it. Of all the skeptics and infidels I have ever met speaking against the Bible, I have never met one who read it through. There may be such men, but I have never met them. It is simply an excuse. There is no man living who will stand up before God and say that kept him out of the kingdom. It is the devil's work trying to make us believe it is not true, and that it is dark and mysterious. The only way to overcome the great enemy of souls is by the written Word of God. He knows that, and so tries to make men disbelieve it. As soon as a man is a true believer in the Word of God, he is a conqueror over Satan. Young man! the Bible is true. What have these infidels to give you in its place? What has so exalted us as the Bible? Every nation that exalteth the Word of God is exalted and every nation that casteth it down is cast down. Oh, let us cling close to the Bible. Of course, we shall not understand it all at once. But men are not to condemn it on that account. Suppose I should send my little boy, five years old, to school tomorrow morning, and when he came home in the afternoon I say to him, "Willie, can you read? can you write? can you spell? Do you understand all about algebra, geometry, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek?" "Why, papa," the little fellow would say, "how funny you talk; I have been all day trying to learn the A B C!" Well, suppose I should reply, "If you have not finished your education, you need not go any more." What would you say? Why, you would say, I had gone mad. There would be just about as much reason in that, as in the way that people talk about the Bible. My friends, the men who have studied the Bible for fifty years the wise men and the scholars, the great theologians have never got down to the depths of it yet. There are truths there that the Church of God has been searching out for the last eighteen hundred years, but no man has fathomed the depths of that everliving stream.

There is another class here, who say, "That's not my difficulty. I believe the Word of God. But if I could speak alone to you, I would tell you my excuse. The fact is, I love the world very much, and if I become a Christian, I shall have to give up all pleasure and go through the world with a long face and never smile again. My joy will be forever gone!" Well, I want to say here, that no greater lie was ever forged than that. The devil started it away back in Eden; but there is not one word of truth in it; it is a libel upon Christianity. It does not make a man gloomy to become a child of God. See! there is a man going to execution. In a few moments he will be launched into eternity. But, flashing over the wires, comes word from the Governor. He sends a reprieve. I run in haste to the man. I shout, "Good news! good news. You are not to die!" Does that make him gloomy? No! no! no! Young men, young women, old and young, don't believe Satan's lies any longer. It is the want of Christ that makes men gloomy. Take a man who is really thirsty, dying for want of water, and you go and give him water. Is that going to make him gloomy? That is what Christ is water to the thirsty soul. If a man is dying for want of bread, and you give him bread, is that to make him gloomy? That is what Christ is to the soul the bread of life. You will never have true pleasure or peace or joy or comfort until you have found Christ.

The idea that a man cannot have peace and joy in this world, if he is a Christian, is all folly. That used to be my difficulty. But I want to tell you I had more joy and solid comfort and peace the first year after I was converted, than I had all my previous life put together, and I never heard of any young convert who would not testify the same thing.

Another excuse - how thick they are! The air is full of them. I hear someone say, "Well, I should like to be a Christian, but it is a very hard thing. I have tried it a good many times. I would not like to speak right out, but that is just the honest truth." I will tell you what you have been doing, you have been trying to serve God with the old carnal mind. You might as well try to walk to the moon! It is utterly impossible. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin; the leopard cannot change its spots. It is impossible to serve God with the old carnal heart; but with the new heart God will give you the power, and you will not then be talking about its being hard to serve Him. That is just another lie. Let us look at it. Do you mean to say that God is a hard Master? Do you say it is a hard thing to serve God, and do you say that Satan is an easy master, and that it is easier to serve him than God? Is it honest - is it true? God a hard master! If I read my Bible right, I read that the way of the transgressor is hard. Let me tell you it is the devil who is the hard master. Yes. "The way of the transgressor is hard." The Word of God cannot be changed. If you doubt it, young man, look at the convict in the prison, right in the bloom of manhood, right in the prime of life. He has been there for ten years, and must remain for ten years more - twenty years taken out of his life, and when he comes out of that miserable cell, he comes out a branded felon! Do you think that man will tell you "The way of the transgressor has been easy?" Go ask the poor drunkard, the man who is bound hand and foot, the slave of the infernal cup, who is hastening onwards to a drunkard's hell. Ask him if he has found the way of the transgressor easy. "Easy?" he will cry - "Easy?" "The way of the transgressor is hard, and gets harder and harder every day!" Go ask the libertine and the worldling; go ask the gambler and blasphemer - with one voice they will tell you, that the service has been hard. Take the most faithful follower of the devil and put him upon this platform tonight, and let us put questions to him. The best way to settle this question is to find out by the testimony of those that have served both masters. I do not think a man has any right to judge until he has served both. If I heard a man condemn a master, I should be very apt to ask him if he had served him; and if he had not, he could not very well testify. Now, if you have served two masters then you are very good judges. I want to stand here tonight as a witness for Christ. I have been in this school for twenty years, and I want to testify tonight that I have found him an easy master. I used to say, as you do, "It is a hard thing to be a Christian," and I thought it was; but now I tell you that the yoke is easy and the burden light. And I am speaking to many more tonight who have served both masters. Many of you have served Christ; and many of you before you were brought into His fold, served the devil. I would like to ask you, you that are Christ's, you who have served Him - some five, some ten, some twenty years - is Jesus a hard master? ("No! No!") I thought you would say No. I knew you would. I never heard a man say, "I have served Christ for five years, or for ten, and found him a hard master." And now let me put you into the witness box again. For many years you served Satan, some of you are serving him still, "Do you not find him a hard master?" ("Yes! Yes!") Oh yes! my friends, you cannot help admitting it, you know it is true, the way of the transgressor is hard.

we circuit riders are everywhere - sunset crater, AZ

Suppose we could go beyond this life; suppose we could go down to the bottomless pit and summon up Judas, who has been there for the last eighteen hundred years. Suppose we put the question to him, "Judas, you betrayed the Son of God, sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. You have served the devil faithfully; have you found his service an easy one?" What a wail would rise from these lips! Do you think Judas found it easy? Do you think he found Satan a kind master? See him throwing down the thirty pieces of silver! Why, he got so tired of the devil's service that he hanged himself twenty-four hours after publicly entering it.

Now let us call upon Paul who, you may say, took the place that Judas once filled; let him come down from the hilltops of glory. Do you think he would say it was a hard thing to serve God, and an easy thing to serve the devil? "I served the devil well," he says, "I breathed out threatenings, I persecuted the Church. But it was hard for me to kick against the pricks."

And now let us see what God says about it. I would like to ask those who think Him a hard master, what they would do with a passage like this, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light?" Yes, it is an easy thing to serve anyone we love. If you love a person how you delight to please them!

Oh, my friends, do not dishonor God by calling Him a hard master. Speak to the young disciple of the Lord Jesus. Look at his very face. See how his eye is lit up with a light from heaven; how the glow from Calvary is shed around his path. Let him tell of the peace and the joy he has found in the service of Christ. Let him tell, till language fails him, how the way grows lighter and lighter as he journeys on, how his hopes grow brighter and brighter as he nears his eternal home. Oh yes, there is a vast difference in the yoke of Satan and the yoke of Christ. The yoke of the Christian is easy and light; the yoke of the devil is heavy and hard. I beg of you do not listen to Satan's lies. He has deceived the whole human race. Oh, will you not just change masters tonight, and accept of the invitation to be present at the marriage supper of the Lamb?


Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes because we need them; and he proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires. Let us trust his skill and thank him for his prescription. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

The valley of the shadow of death holds no darkness for the child of God. There must be light, else there could be no shadow. Jesus is the light. He has overcome death. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)

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