Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and to them were sons born after the flood.…
My text sets forth Nimrod as a hero when it presents him with broad shoulders and shaggy apparel and sun-browned face, and arm bunched with muscle — "a mighty hunter before the Lord." I think he used the bow and the arrows with great success practising archery. I have thought if it is such a grand thing and such a brave thing to clear wild beasts out of a country, if it is not a better and braver thing to hunt down and destroy those great evils of society that are stalking the land with fierce eye and bloody paw, and sharp tusk and quick spring. I have wondered if there is not such a thing as Gospel archery, by which these who have been flying from the truth may be captured for God and heaven. The archers of olden times studied their art. They were very precise in the matter. The old books gave special directions as to how an archer should go, and as to what an archer should do. But how clumsy we are about religious work. How little skill and care we exercise. How often our arrows miss the mark.
1. In the first place, if you want to be effectual in doing good, you must be very sure of your weapon. There was something very fascinating about the archery of olden times. Perhaps you do not know what they could do with the bow and arrow. Why, the chief battles fought by the English Plantagenets were with the long-bow. They would take the arrow of polished wood, and feather it with the plume of a bird, and then it would fly from the bowstring of plaited silk. The broad fields of Agincourt, and Solway Moss, and Neville's Cross heard the loud thrum of the archer's bowstring. Now, my Christian friends, we have a mightier weapon than that. It is the arrow of the Gospel; it is a sharp arrow; it is a straight arrow; it is feathered from the wing of the dove of God's Spirit; it flies from a bow made out of the wood of the cross. Paul knew how to bring the notch of that arrow on to that bowstring, and its whirr was heard through the Corinthian theatres, and through the courtroom, until the knees of Felix knocked together. It was that arrow that stuck in Luther's heart when he cried out: "Oh, my sins! Oh, my sins!" In the armoury of the Earl of Pembroke, there are old corslets which show that the arrow of the English used to go through the breastplate, through the body of the warrior, and out through the backplate. What a symbol of that Gospel which is sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and body, and of the joints and marrow! Would to God we had more faith in that Gospel!
2. Again, if you want to be skilful in spiritual archery, you must hunt in unfrequented and secluded places. The good game is hidden and secluded. Every hunter knows that. So, many of the souls that will be of most worth for Christ and of most value to the Church are secluded. They do not come in your way. You will have to go where they are.
3. I remark, further, if you want to succeed in spiritual archery, you must have courage. If the hunter stand with trembling hand or shoulder that flinches with fear, instead of his taking the catamount, the catamount takes him. What would become of the Greenlander if, when out hunting for the bear, he should stand shivering with terror on an iceberg? What would have become of Du Chaillu and Livingstone in the African thicket, with a faint heart and a weak knee? When a panther comes within twenty paces of you, and it has its eye on you, and it has squatted for the fearful spring, "Steady there." Courage, O ye spiritual archers! There are great monsters of iniquity prowling all around about the community. Shall we not in the strength of God go forth and combat them? We not only need more heart, but more backbone. What is the Church of God that it should fear to look in the eye any transgression?
4. I remark again, if you want to be successful in spiritual archery, you need not only to bring down the game, but bring it in. I think one of the most beautiful pictures of Thorwaldsen is his "Autumn." It represents a sportsman coming home and standing under a grapevine. He has a staff over his shoulder, and on the other end of that staff are hung a rabbit and a brace of birds. Every hunter brings home the game. No one would think of bringing down a reindeer or whipping up a stream for trout, and letting them lie in the woods. At eventide the camp is adorned with the treasures of the forest — beak, and fin, and antler. If you go out to hunt for immortal souls, not only bring them down under the arrow of the Gospel, but bring them into the Church of God, the grand home and encampment we have pitched this side the skies. Fetch them in; do not let them lie out in the open field. They need our prayers and sympathies and help. That is the meaning of the Church of God — help. O ye hunters for the Lord! not only bring down the game, but bring it in.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.