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but the young man was under a nervous
tension, and remained standing. In a
straightforward manly way he said:

"We live in C , thirty miles away.

We were married this morning. We
have been engaged for a long time, but
this young lady, who is now my wife,
has been afraid to marry me for seme
months until to-day.^'

He scarcely seemed to know how to
go on, and to help him out I inquired,
"What was the trouble?''

"Well, you see,'' he replied, "it is this
way: I am a storekeeper. I keep a
general dry-goods and provision store,
and along with other things I always
keep a barrel of whisky on hand to sell
when people want it, as all the other



The Winning of the Young Merchant. 73

storekeepers do. Well, I got to drinking
it myself, and I took too much several
timeS; and Mary was frightened, and
was afraid to marry me for fear I would
turn out a drimkard. This morning I
promised her that if she would marry
me we would drive up here to see you.
We have seen in the papers how earnestly
you are fighting the saloons and working
for temperance, and I told her I would
come here and ask you to write out a
pledge, and then I would sign it, and
never drink another drop while I lived.'^
There was no mistaking the ring of
manly purpose in the young man's voice
and the flash of earnestness in his eyes
as he said these words, and instantly I
thought of the day when the young man
stood before Jesus, and the Master, look-
ing on him, loved him. I felt that I was
standing in the Master's place, and that
I must be true to his soul. So I said:
"I like you. There's something about
you that goes right to my heart. But



74 Soul-Winning Stories.

let me understand what it is you want
me to do."

^'Why, I want you to write out a
pledge not to drink any more, and I will
sign it."

" But you will go back home this after-
noon and sell the whisky to-morrow to
anybody who wants it, just the same?"

His face fell, but after a moment he
said, "Why, of course I could not keep
store in this country without selling
whisky. I would lose all my trade."

"Then this is what you mean," said I.
"You mean to sign this pledge not to
drink any more. But you will go back
to that town and you will sell whisky
to any other man who wants it. You
are going to keep your own self sober and
clean, but you will sell the stuff to others
that you know will ruin them, soul and
body. You are going to make your wife
feel safe. When you go down town in
the morning, you are going to have her
peaceful and at rest; never fearing that



The Winning of the Ycung Merchant. 75

you will come back with a hellish smell
on your lips and with the stagger in your
limbs. But you are going to keep every
other woman in town trembhng and
afraid.^'

By this time I was ablaze with inten-
sity of feeling, and looking him straight
in the eye, I thundered, ^^No, sir; I will
not do it. I will not have any hand in it.
I will not soil my fingers with so mean a
thing as that. But I will tell you what
I will do. If you will let me write a
pledge that you will not only quit drink-
ing it, but that you will never sell it again,
or have anything more to do with it, I
will gladl}^ write it. And that is the only
pledge you can keep. You think you
would keep the other, but I know you
would not. You have already got a
taste for it, and with that thirst in you
it would be impossible for you to sell it
long without coming to drink it again
yourself. Do something worthy of
yourself. Stop it altogether. Do that,



76 Soul-Winning Stories.

and I will join you with all my
heart/'

It was an electric moment. Eye
flashed to eye, and I saw the decision
when it came in his eye, and he exclaimed,
not feebly, but with a volume of manly
purpose, "I'll do it!"

Then an inspiration came to me.
The glow of the sermon was yet on me,
and it flashed through my mind that
no other man would ever have such a
chance to win these two people to Christ
as I had just then. When once I felt
that inspiration I was compelled to go
on. I had shaken hands with him on his
decision, and still held him by the hand.
Gripping it anew, I said : " My brother,
do something better than that. This
is your wedding day. In all the years to
come there will never be another day like
this. To-day you are setting up your
home. Everything is possible to-day.
Why not stop all sin to-day? Why quit
just one sin? Why quit the drink alone?



The Winning of the Young Merchant. 77

Why not join with your wife in dedicating
this new home of yours to the service
of God? Why not promise God here
and now that, by his help, you will not
only break off this one sin, but break
off every sin, and begin a life of prayer
and trust in God? Why not ask him
now, for Christ^s sake, to forgive your
sins and start you in this new life in a
new spirit?^'

The Holy Spirit helped me. The
young wife had been weeping almost from
the first of my talk to him, and as my
heartfelt appeals followed one after the
other the tears came to my own eyes,
and the great tears welled up in his and
rolled down his cheeks. Again I saw
the light of decision come into his face.
He tightened his grip on my hand until
I felt a thrill of pain, as he almost
shouted: '^God helping me, I'll do it!''

We knelt there together, the three of us,
on the study floor. I poured out my
heart to God in earnest prayer to send



78 Soul-Winning Stories.

forgiveness and regeneration to these
young hearts. The young man prayed,
and then the young woman. And thus
we prayed and cried together until the
hght of faith came into their hearts and
smiles of confidence illuminated their
faces.

It was a unique pledge that I wrote
out. I have often wished I had k©pt a
copy of it. In it he promised not to
drink or sell liquor, and to live prayer-
fully the Christian life. He signed it,
his wife signed it, and I signed it. I
gave it to her, and they went away.

The next day I went on my journey.
After a brief pastorate in my new home
I came over three thousand miles east-
ward. Five years had gone before I
knew of the issue of that hour in my
study. Then a lady came to visit me
in Boston, who had been living in that

town of C at the time of the young

merchant's visit to my study, and this
was the story she told me: The young



The Winning of the Young Merchant. 79

man and his bride returned that Sunday
evening to their home. Without waiting
until the next morning, he went and got
two or three of his friends, told them
of his pledge, and of his new purpose,
and took them with him to his store,
where they deliberately rolled his barrel
of whisky into the street, and with an
axe drove in the head of it and let the
liquor run into the gutter. Naturally, he
was made the butt of a good deal of ridi-
cule, and everything possible was done
to put temptation in his way. But all
to no avail. He never had a drop of
liquor about the store again, and while
it had been predicted that he would lose
his trade, and he himself had expected
to lose it, it had turned out otherwise,
and his business had prospered more than
ever. He set up a family altar in his
new home and let everybody know of
his new purpose to lead a Christian
life. A few weeks later a minister came
to the town and organized a little union



80 Soul-Winning Stories.

church. Our young merchant and his
wife were on hand to become charter
members. A Sunday-school was organ-
ized, of which he was made the superin-
tendent, and at the time of the lady's
visit that young man and his wife were
the very pillars of religious influence
and power in that whole community.

I think that was the most joyous in-
formation that ever came to me. My
heart was filled with it and my soul
exulted. I do not think anything that
has occurred in my whole career has ever
given me a greater impulse to make the
winning of souls the chief end of my
ministry. God has many kinds of joy
for his children to compensate them for
all their self-denial on earth's pilgrimage,
but the sweetest joy and the most satis-
fying that I have ever known is the joy
of feeling that I have been instrumental
in his hands of winning others to Christ.



CHAPTER VI

A GROCER'S CLERK WHO BECAME

A MIGHTY ARCHER FOR

THE LORD



CHAPTER VI.



I DO not know if other ministers
have the same feeUng or not, but,
personally, I have always a great
timidity in going to a new chm-ch,
and never have much comfort or
feel at all sure of my standing ground
until I am rejoicing over some converts
in the Lord's name. When I came from
Cincinnati to South Boston, some years
ago, and took the pastorate of a large
church in the midst of a populous dis-
trict, I came from a year of wonderful
revival success; and yet I remember
the many anxious days and some almost
sleepless nights for fear my method of
preaching and work might not fit the new
parish to which I had come. It was,
therefore, with great joy that I got on the
track of my first man in the new field.



84 Soul-Winning Stories.

He was a grocer^s clerk, and I met him
first at the parsonage door when he came
to see if he could get my trade. He was
a quick-eyed, ruddy-cheeked young fel-
low, short and round, but alive, every
inch of him. I was very much pleased
with him, and before he got away I
inquired : ^^ Where do you go to church?' '

"Well, to tell the truth. Dominie, I
don't go anywhere.''

"Why not?"

"Oh, I don't know. Got out of the
habit, I guess. I used to go to church
at home in Nova Scotia."

"Well, " I said, "you will have to come
and see me now, anyhow. Turn about
is fair play. If I buy your goods, you
will have to come and take some of my
goods."

That seemed to strike his fancy, and he
went away saying, "All right, I'll come
around next Sunday night."

To make sure he did come around I
went to the store on purpose the next



A Clerk Who Became a Mighty Archer, So

Saturday afternoon, and looked him up,
and reminded him that I would be look-
ing for him.

It was my habit then, as now, to be at
the door of the church Sunday morning
and evening when the church is opened,
and shake hands with the people when
they come in, till time for the service
to begin. So the next Sunday evening
I was on the lookout for my grocer^s
clerk. When he came I had a word with
him. I said to him,'^I have been think-
ing about you and praying about you ever
since I talked to you the other morning
at my house.'' I told him that I had
been homesick all the week because
there was not a man or a woman in the
community whom I had won to Christ.
^^And now," said I, ^'I have been hoping
and praying that the Lord will give me
you to-night. I somehow feel that it
was providential that you came to me
the other day, and that if you will begin
to be a Christian at once we shall begin



86 Soul-Winning Stories.

our pastorate here together, and you
and I together can do a great deal of
good with the blessing of God/'

He seemed very much touched. He
was a noble fellow, and the brotherly
way in which I approached him, and my
appeal to his better self to come to Christ
so that he could do good, seemed to get
hold.

The theme of the sermon that evening
was the story of the little boy who had
the loaves and fishes which, in the hands
of Christ, became sufficient to feed the
multitude. It gave me a great chance
to get at my young clerk, and I pressed
the Gospel home, with him in mind, with
all the power I had. The Holy Spirit
blessed the message. I could see by
his glistening eye and the rapt look on
his face that he was greatly interested.

At the close of the sermon I announced
that there would be an after-meeting in
the vestrv, and urged Christians and all
others who were interested to remain



A Clerk Who Became a Mighty Archer. 87

with us. To my great joy my grocer
clerk came in, and, on my giving an oppor-
tunity for any who would like to begin
the Christian life to manifest it by rising,
he was almost at once on his feet. He
was the only one who started that eve-
ning. When we knelt to pray, I asked
him to come and kneel with me at the
altar, so that I might talk and pray
with him. He came, and as he knelt
there the whole fountain of his nature
seemed to be broken up. He melted
down in complete surrender to God.
He had not knelt there five minutes
imtil his face was full of joy and gladness
and the peace that passes all imderstand-
ing filled his heart and illumined his
eyes.

When after a few moments we had a
little testimony meeting, he stood up
and in the manliest way told how I had
spoken to him, and how he had come
that night with no expectation of be-
coming a Christian at once, but that my



88 Soul-Winning Stories.

words at the door had set him thinking
and that during the sermon a great
longing had taken hold of his heart to
make his life worth something to some-
body by giving it to Christ. He said
there wasn't much of it, not any more
than there was of the little boy's loaves
and fishes, but if the Lord could do any-
thing with it he should have every crumb
of it.

This was the second Sunday night of
my pastorate, and one of the happiest I
can remember. For the young clerk's
conversion was so bright and clear,
and his testimony so evidently sincere,
that it melted the entire church, and
started the year's work with a great
evangelistic uplift. I would have been
happier yet, if it were possible, if I had
known the full measure of what it meant
to win that young man. He at once set
himself to work. He made it the rule
of his life that he would never let any
Sunday go by without having at least



A Clerk Who Became a Mighty Archer. 89

one new man, who had not been in the
habit of coming to church, with him at
the Sunday-school and at the church
service, and it was not uncommon for
him to have two or three. He hunted
these up while he was on his rounds,
taking orders for the grocery store, and
in any little wayside opportunity that
came to him. He brought these men to
the church and got them enrolled in the
men^s Bible class. Then he introduced
them to me and to some earnest Christian
men. Having got them there, he worked
for their immediate conversion. Many
a time I have had him come back to me
after going in with a man to the Sunday
night^s service. He would excuse him-
self for a moment, and shpping out he
would come to me at the door, where I
was shaking hands with the people, and
he would whisper to me as he got a chance
any information about the character or
the history of the man which he thought
would be valuable to me in making the



90 Soul-Winning Stories.

sermon more effective in winning him
to Christ. Many a valuable point did
he give me in that way which I was able
to use with profit.

Then, when the after-meeting came, he
was always at the man's elbow to draw
him quietly in to this service, and as
he had come with him, having usually
met him by engagement for that purpose,
it was not easy for his companion to get
away without being rude, and it was
impossible to be rude to so good-humored
and kindly a fellow as our grocer's
clerk. And so in the after-meeting he
was ready to say a kind word or offer to
go with a man to the altar, or to motion
to me cautiously at the critical time to
add my invitation to his, which often
turned the scale and brought about a
permanent decision for Christ.

If one of his men started for the altar
he was with him, and he knelt beside
him, praying and crying for joy, watching
over him mth a tender solicitude that



A. Clerk Who Became a Mighty Archer. 91

was the wonder and joy of the whole
church; and when the light broke into
the darkened mind, and the soul of his
companion lost its burden of guilt and
was able to testify that his sins were
pardoned, the next happiest man in that
room was the grocer's clerk. He could
hardly contain himself. He laughed and
cried, and often, when opportunity was
given to testify, he was too full for utter-
ance, and would, perhaps, only say a
sentence or two, such as, "Christ is the
best paymaster in the worW; or, "I
would rather have the joy of winning
a friend to Christ every week than have
the biggest store in town." But no
matter what he said, it was always some-
thing that just bubbled out of his heart,
something that touched the fountain of
tears in every heart in the room, and
lifted us all nearer to God.

In the first six months after my grocer's
clerk was converted he brought to the
church, by actual count, twenty-five men



92 Soul-Winning Stories.

who were hopefully converted to God
and joined our church. He was influ-
ential and ver>^ helpful to many other
men, but these twenty-five were all his
own. He hunted them up on the outside,
and brought them to the church himself,
and after he got them there stayed with
them till they were happily converted.
And yet he was hard at work all the time,
working the long hours ol a grocer's
clerk.

How quickly the world would be
brought to Christ if we could set all the
men and women of our churches as
earnestly at soul-winning as this man
gave himself. He is still at it. It is
now many years ago since this yoimg
man was converted, but once in a while
I run across him, and I always see the
old light in his eyes, and know that, like
Uncle John Vassar, he is faithfully hold-
ing on at his work as ^^God/s shepherd
dog."



CHAPTER VII

HOW AN OREGON TOWN WAS
CAPTURED



CHAPTER VII.



IT was in my young days, when I
was yet a circuit-rider. I had
been sent to Southern Oregon
to carve out a circuit where no
preacher had ever wrought, except in
one Httle valley, where there was already
a class established which met in a school-
house. Twenty miles away there was a

town on the railroad at D , which

gave the name for the circuit. It had
the reputation of being a very wicked
town, and it certainly lived up to its
reputation. I spent my first Sunday on
my new circuit with the lonely band of
Christians in the little valley henmied in
by the mountains, but I had written to

the postmaster of D that I would

preach there in the school-house on the
next Simday.



96 Soul-Winning Stories.

I arrived in D on Saturday night,

and Sunday morning went over to the
school-house. It was a small affair of
only one room, barren and barn-like.
Just eleven people came to the services
that morning, nine women and two men
— one, a man from three or four miles
away, who in a mild way was a Christian,
and the other the man with whom T had
stayed all night.

Giving emphasis to the emallness of
our congregation, some two or three
hundred men were gathered together at
a horse-race in plain sight of the school-
house, out on a little level flat adjoining
the town. Their yelling was very annoy-
ing during the entire services. My host
had told me that the horse-race had been
arranged for that spot in special resent-
ment against the fact of a preacher having
been assigned to the region.

I preached as best I could, and then
told my few hearers that I had sent
notice for a service in another school-



How an Oregon Town Was Captured. 97

house some ten miles away for that
evening, but that I would come back and
preach the next Sunday morning and

evening in D , and I wished them to

tell everybody they saw that week that
if they would come to church the next
Sunday they would find the school-house
full of people. They looked surprised
and amused, as though they thought I
was in for a big disappointment. But
when I saw that horse-race in the morn-
ing I felt that the battle was on, and that
I was either to be defeated or to win a
victory that would mean everything to
my success right there in that town. So
I determined on a bold measure.

I rode on and preached to a handful
of people in a little farm settlement on
Simday night, and Monday came back

again to D and remained there for

the week. During that week I visited
every house where a human being lived
within several miles of the town. I went
into the saloons, and into the mills, into



98 Soul-Winning Stories.

the logging camp, into every store and
private house. Everywhere I had the
same story to tell. I told them the
experience of the last Simday, that there
had only been eleven out to hear the
Word of God, while there were nearly
three hundred in the drinking, gambUng
carousal at the horse-race.

^^Come, now,'^ I would say, "give the
Lord a fair chance. The devil has been
having a frse hand here for a long time,
and he has made a bad mess of it. Come
and give me a hearing. Let decent
things at least have turn about with the
devil.''

That sort of talk aroused their atten-
tion and caught their fancy. By Thurs-
day of that week I was the one subject
of conversation for five miles around.

On Saturday something happened that
gave me great hope and courage. Every-
where I had gone I had asked, "Do you
know of any Christian in the commu-
nity?'' and I had always received the



How an Oregon Town Was Captured. 99

answer, "Yes, there is one,^' and then
they would go on to tell me about a sick
woman who lived up on a moimtain
some miles from town. She had been
confined to her room for a number of
years, but everybody bore testimony
to the fact that she was a Christian, and
they usually ended up their remarks of
appreciation with this sentence: "If
ever there was a Christian, she is one/'
Saturday morning I went up to see
her. It was a lonely place, and I remem-
ber thinking what a terrible thing it
must be to live there year after year
chained to one's bed by sickness. But
when I was ushered into her room I for-
got all about this. I shall never forget
the look on that woman's face as I came
in. The news had found its way up the
mountain, and she knew what was going
on. As I came into the room her face
was full of joy and expectancy. She
clapped her hands together, and, with
tear-wet eyes, exclaimed, "I thank God



100 Soul-Winning Stories.

that my prayers are answered at
la^tr'

Though every line in her face revealed
the traces of the pain she had suffered
and the long years of her confinement to
the house, yet it was a face of wonderful
peace. Her faith in God never wavered
and she had that spiritual insight which
makes of pain a tutor to culture and to
ennoble the soul.

As I sat there by her bedside she told
me that several months before my coming
there had been some terrible results
from drunkenness in the community,
and she had begun to pray to God every
day that he would send a preacher to
the town who might be instrumental in
bringing about a revival of religion and
the conversion of the people, and that
when she heard that I was in the neigh-
borhood and was going about from
house to house she had felt an answer
of peace and now thoroughly beUeved
that God had answered her prayers and



How an Oregon Town Was Captured. 101

that we were to have a great work of
grace.

You cannot easily imagine how much
comfort that was to me. I was very
young, but little more than a boy, and
the loneliness of this effort to get a hold
on that community, without any church
to back me up, was very hard, and this
good woman's conversation, her prayers,
and her faith were a divine tonic to me.

I stayed for dinner in the house, and
prayed with her again in the afternoon,
and went away to the wicked little town
feeling that I had been in an "upper
room" like that where the disciples
waited for the power which made Pente-
cost possible.

The next day that school-house would
not hold half the people who came. Not
only every seat, but every bit of standing
room in it was taken, and, as the weather
was mild, the people crowded around the
windows and around the door. There
was not a great deal of preliminary



102 Soul- Winning Stories.

service. I had a hymn-book, and the
man I have spoken of, who had belonged
to the church in other years, and who
had been present the Sunday before,
also had a hymn-book. I never could
sing much, and he carried a tune very
lamely, so that the singing was very
weak and lifeless. But I read the Scrip-
tures, and I poured out my heart to God
in prayer that the people before me might
have hearts to receive the Word of God,
might see their own sinfulness and be
willing to accept Christ as their Saviour.
Then I stood up to preach. I knew I
could not preach much, but I gave them
the Word of God. My text was, " Where-
fore do ye spend money for that which
is not bread? and your labor for that
which satisfieth not?''

As I had gone around during the week
I had gathered a great many incidents


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