THE VALLEY OF DECISIO.

BY REV. JOSEPH ODELL,
" Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision." — Joel Hi., 14.
With this word "valley," we have a crowd of thoughts at
once interesting and instructive. We think of it geographically,
and we regard it as the synonym of fertility, fragrance, beauty.
We think of it historically, and we associate with it the tales of
battles fought and lost and gained ; of kings dethroned, empires
destroyed, the boundaries of countries and peoples changed ; of
treaties signed, charters given and peace proclaimed. We think
of the valley scripturally, and we see in it the type of humility ;
it forms the canvas upon which is sketched the stirring scenes of
holy war ; it is made the platform upon which the principles of
good and evil are discussed ; it is the arena of mysterious conflict,
the ground upon which a vision of death is transformed into a
scene of glorious life — the place where grace reigns and triumphs.
ow, it is very difficult to decide positively upon the valley of
this text. Some Biblical critics assure us that this valley is that
of Jehosaphat, a very secluded and beautiful spot, protected on
every side by towering hills and proudly rising rocks, and exhibit-
ing a scene of natural grandeur almost without a rival. Here,
the king's garden was kept and cultivated, and here many of those
national reforms, so remarkable in Jewish history, had their ori-
gin. The name " Decision " here accorded to it, is understood to
arise from the spirit of prophecy, and is given in anticipation of
that period when the way-worn and weather-beaten Jew from
every quarter of the globe shall repair to his long-lost land
THE VALLEY OF DECISIO. 117
and home, and the representatives of the nation shall
gather, under the memory of punishment, incision, appeal and
recovery ; and here in this valley, full of their national remind-
ers, they shall decide in favor of Christ — " shall look upon Him
whom they have pierced and mourn," — while in penitence, prayer
and vows they pledge themselves to the service and worship of
our glorious Messiah. But as the language of the text is evi-
dently highly figurative, there being no valley literally called
"Decision" we certainly may be permitted to take the words of
the text and employ them as a very apt figure for the happiest
possible use ; specially so may we venture to do this as we are
certainly not bound to restrict the general figures of Scripture to
one, and that the lowest meaning, but we should feel perfect
liberty in working out and working up the words and symbols of
the Book for the more attractive and emphatic teachings of the
gospel, the most imperative claims for the Divine service, and
the promotion of the highest glory of God. This text, therefore,
comes to us and presents a glowing picture of the chief and
superlative quality demanded at the very beginning of a godly
life, and also of the commanding influence and vision that the
gospel affords as witnessed in the " Multitudes in the valley of
decision."
Sustaining the happy figure of the text, we shall now call your
attention to The name this valley bears.
The name " decision" is very significant, and it is correct to
employ it as applicable to the character of religion. If there-
fore this name is given to the valley, it must be so in opposition to
the indifference and indecision so observable around ; and in sus-
taining the symbol we state that this name distinguishes the val-
ley from the outlying districts ; beyond this vale of high and holy
name there are districts covered with the ungodly and sinner. To-
night you may clearly discern the plains of good desires — many
are strolling here ; the cloudy regions of unbelief, so shadowy
and dark ; the marshy grounds of drunkenness, where myriads
sink to rise no more ; the altitudes of self -righteousness, where
shivering they stand ; the cold hills of scepticism, where starv-
ing, shrivelled beings gaze and die ; the wild cliffs of back slid-
ing, where they stumble and pine and bleed away ; and the
burning table-lands of sinful pleasure, where moral fevers waste
and burn. All these localities and out-lying districts are crowded
with the unconverted, while here and there you may see the
bleached bones and ghastly skulls of the victims of indecision.
But, here in this valley of my text, so distinct in locality and so
different in name, you can now command a beautiful, bright
vision of a multitude all singing in response and testimony :
118 UDER CAVAS.
The ways of religiou true pleasures afford,
There are no joys that can equal the joys of the Lord.
Again, the name this valley bears is derived from an event
the most singular and unrivalled. Events do immortalize places ;
thus the pass of Thermopalye where Leonidas and his brave band
so nobly fought and bled and fell ; so the vale of Runnymede,
where a papist king was compelled by the British barons to sign
the Magna Charta ; these events gave a lasting name and fame
and glory to the localities ; and it is from one glorious event that
we obtain the name that shall give tone and effect, and immortality
to this figurative vale. This event is " decision for God'"- — thus
the name is derived from a principle at work upon the human
mind ; the grace of God leads to decision ; under the influence of
the gracious Spirit so freely given in these last days a man may
decide to be the Lord's, body and soul, for time and eternity. If
this be the event, any local spot may become the valley and be
immortalized by the deed ; there in the lovely natural valley a
man may wander and believe ; in the mighty massive cathedral,
where the choir sings and the organ rings, you may decide and be
saved ; in the cottage of the artisan decision can be formed, sal-
vation found ; in your own chamber, where you may have gone
to rest many times without devotion or decision, there you may
pray, believe, be saved ; in this tent to-night, with all the attract-
iveness, and light, and music, and hope of this service, your
anxiety may be augmented, your penitence intensified, your long-
ings agonized, your prayers so pointed that your will shall be
brought into complete submission to God and then into absolute
decision for God.
So you observe, that while we try to localize the event and
to the place afford the name, it is the event itself that we deem
supremely desirable ; it is the great event we long for ; it is not
places but deeds, that make a brilliant immortality ! What is a val-
ley — though the loveliest Eden ever seen, or a palace of unequalled
splendour to an undecided, unconverted man ? Oh ! I claim the
profoundest attention to this demand of decision for God ! Such
a deed shall immortalize this service under canvas ; and though
there be no tablet, no inscription to mark the spot where you
decide ; though this covering be but temporary, and the design and
workmanship be unartistic; though no pilgrimages shall ever be
taken by posterity to this sacred spot ; yet, the angels of God as
they take their splendid tour through immensity, their grand
surveys of the universe, here they shall hover, and linger, and
sing, and bending down in happy clusters to each other they shall
say " this is the valley of decision ;" " this man and that woman
were born here ;" then singing with spirit-music, they shall soar
THE VALLEY OF DECISIO. Ill)
away in search of other valleys — valleys with such happy memo-
ries and such splendid names.
Let me next ask your attention to the way this valley is
ETERED.
The manner of this decision should be fully known ; the
entrance is by the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ; there is but
this single way in ; every other pass is blocked up and defended
by Justice. Jesus says : "I am the way." " I am the door."
There is none other name or way given to us men and sinners ;
this door is available from each of those out-lying districts ; you
can all get down to the Cross, round to this Door, and up to God
and glory by this Way ; there are means employed to induce you
to enter ; they are various as agencies, but they all say " Enter
in f" The pale looks of affliction turn that way; your sick
friends would gladly follow you in ; the ghastly hand of death
points that way ; many a dying one has tried to clutch the gate of
happiness ; the crowd of weeping penitents are marching that
way ; the throngs of new converts are calling out to you, " Come
The voices of God's servants from this desk, and the
in i
/"
pleadings of the Holy Spirit, uniting cry, " This is the way, walk
ye in it."
The valley entered, there are privileges and immunities to be
enjoyed ; there is the enjoyment of glorious life in this valley ; to
serve God is to live ; religion is life ! You have seen the ex-
uberant life of the natural valley; there the water flows the
freshest, the grass grows the greenest, the flowers appear the
loveliest, the birds sing the sweetest, and all nature is the grandest.
But, here in our valley, " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him." " God hath revealed them
unto us by His Spirit." For, having decided for God and found
Christ, the salubrious air of Eden in all its balmy freshness is
upon us, the water of life flows near ; music falls in soft and
measured cadences upon the ear, and heaven itself bathes us in
the valley. We have the privilege of the purest society ; all the
best of our race associate here ; bright angels linger here. The
triune God dwells here. " Truly our fellowship is with the
Father and with His Son Jesus Christ ;" if we walk in the light
and live in the valley of light and glory, we shall have fellowship
one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son clean-
seth us from all sin. Here, the bridge of light is found across
the stream of death ; religion does not exempt us from death ;
the black flood flows here ; along the back it winds ; but, Christ
has bridged the stream ; we here find the bridge and see angels
standing along the piers to light straight across. Here we dis-
cern the realms of bliss beyond ; in this vale we have the scene
120 UDER CAVAS.
gradually growing clearer ; the saints are singing now : " Yon-
der's my house and portion fair." " For me my elder brethren
stay : " The canopy of the sky is lined with dear ones waiting for
me.
" I come, I come, my soul replies,
I'm bound to meet you in the skies
Aud claim a mansion there.*'
Finally, this text is the language of one gazing upon a mar-
vellous scene. " Multitudes, multitudes in the valley." In our
minds to-night we take a survey of God's work, and in view of
the results of the services held here, the words of this text best
describe our emotions ; it is a vision of surprise at the numbers
and characters that have been saved, of joy over such displays of
saving grace, of faith that this is but the beginning of the work
— the waving of the first fruits — the joy of harvest is coming.
For the unsaved, it should, however, be a vision of solemn con-
sideration. Many have entered, why am I still undecided ? the
door is open, why should I still tarry ? I ought to decide ; this
nio;ht I will be saved.
" I will accept His offers now,
From every sin depart ,
Perform my oft-repeated vow
And render Him my heart."
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