You know I have an idea that the Bible is like an album. I go into a man’s house, and while waiting for him, I take up an album and open it. I look at a picture. “Why, that looks like a man I know.” I turn over and look at another.
“Well, I know that man.” By-and-by I come upon another. “Why, that man looks like my brother.” I am getting pretty near home. I keep turning over the leaves. “Well, I declare, there is a man who lives in the street I do; why, he is my next-door neighbor.” And then I come upon another, and I see myself. My friends, if you read your Bibles, you will find your own pictures there.
It will just describe you. Now, it may be there is some Pharisee here to-night; if there is, let him turn to the third chapter of John, and see what Christ said to that Pharisee. “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, no doubt, was one of the fairest specimens of a man in Jerusalem in those days, yet he had to be born again, else he couldn’t see the kingdom of God.
But you may say, “I am not a Pharisee; I am a poor, miserable sinner, too bad to come to Him.” Well, turn to the woman of Samaria and see what He said to her. See what a difference there was between that publican and that Pharisee. There was as great a distance between them as between the sun and the moon. One was in the very highest station, and the other occupied the very worst.
One had only himself and his sins to bring to God, the other was trying to bring in his position and his aristocracy. I tell you, when a man gets a true sight of himself, all his position and station and excellences drop. See this prayer, “I thank God,” “I am not,” “I fast,” “I give,” “I possess.” Why, if he had delivered a long prayer, and it had been put into the hands of printers, they would have to send out for some “I’s.” “I thank God.” “I,” “I,” “I.” When a man prays, not with himself, but to God, he does not exalt himself; he don’t pass a eulogy upon himself. He falls flat down in dust before God. In that prayer you don’t find him thanking God for what He had done for him.
It was a heathen, prayerless prayer, merely a form. I hope the day will come when formal prayers will be a thing of the past. I think the reason why we cannot get more people out to the meetings is because we have too many formal prayers in the churches. These formal Christians get up like this Pharisee, and thank God they are not like other men; but when a man gets a look at himself in the mirror, he prays with the spirit of the publican.