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the years of disappointment and delay
had not failed to keep her tryst with
God and to daily send her prayers
heavenward for the salvation of her
boy.



CHAPTER X
WON THROUGH FRIENDSHIP



CHAPTER X.



I ONCE found in the neighborhood
of my church in a large city a
family which interested me great-
ly. It consisted of the husband and
wife and two children. I became
acquainted with them first through the
children, who were in the Sunday-
school. One day, speaking to one of
the Sunday-school teachers about the
bright little girl as she passed us, the
teacher said, ^^ I suppose you know about
her father?'' I replied that I did not
know the father, and asked what she
meant. Her reply was that the father
was one of the very best business men
in the community; that he belonged to
an old and honored family, and was
himself a refined and cultivated gentle-
man; but that he seemed to have an in-



140 Soul-Winning Stories.

herited weakness for strong drink. This
manifested itself in a peculiar way.
He never went about liquor saloons
and was never known to drink in one of
them. Indeed, he would go months at
a time without drinking at all, and then
the spell would come on him, and an
awful thirst would take possession of
him. He would take liquor home with
him to his house, and there he would
drink until his stomach and throat
would be raw with it and he was on the
very verge of the grave. Then the
doctor would come in and patch him up,
and possibly it would be five or six
months before it would happen again.
The story moved me very deeply,
and I saw at once that here was a family
that needed help. As the children came
to the Sunday-school, it gave me a right
to call at the house, and I did so a few
days after I had heard the story, and
made a pleasant acquaintance with the
wife and mother. In response to my



Won Through Friendship. 141

invitation she attended the church, and
I called also at the business place of the
husband and made his acquaintance.
I found him as he had been described
to me, a most delightful gentleman, a
man full of dignity, and yet of fine feel-
ings and genial, kindly nature. I de-
liberately set myself to cultivate the
friendship of the family, and I was met
half-way by all the parties. It was not
long before I felt that the time had
come to press for a decision in the case
of the wife. I sought her at her own
home, and urged not only her own obli-
gation to Christ, but also her duty to be
a Christian on account of her influence
upon her husband and children. She
responded readily to all these appeals
and definitely accepted Christ and came
into the church. And it was at this
time that she opened her heart to me
and told me the story of her husband^ s
weakness and of the haunting fear she
had that his awful habit would get



142 Soul-Winning Stones.

worse and worse until it would, ere long,
carry him away. I promised her to
devote myself with all my soul to his
salvation, and told her that I had been
thinking it over and had made up my
mind that the only thing I could do was
to win his friendship; that I believed
if I could make him love me I could then
win him to Christ, for I had seen that
it was not easy to get back of that wall
of quiet dignity ana reserve where the
real man lived.

So I set myself to make a friend. It
was not hard work, for I liked the man
very much. We had many tastes in
common, and I made much of these. Of
all out-door recreations I am most fond
of fishing, and I soon found that he, too,
was an ardent fisherman, and so we
planned trips together. Sometimes we
went away for two or three days together
on fishing excursions; but no matter
what we fished for, or whether our luck
"was good or bad, my hook was always



Won Through Friendship. 143

baited for my friend's soul. A year
and a half went by, nearly two years.
Three times during that period he had
come near to death in those times of
awful giving way to drink. The last
time my power over him as his friend
had become so strong that, as he was
getting better, but before he had gone
out to his store, he sent for me to come
in and see him. I went to see him, and
he opened his heart to me, and told me
what a terrible time he had had, and
how ashamed he was to so demean him-
self before his family and in the eyes of
his friends. This was my opportunity,
and I used it as far as my ability could
reach. I told him there was only one
hope, and that was in Jesus Christ. He
had been trying to save himself from
his besetting sin, and he had failed again
and again. But there was one hope
he had not tried, and that was Christ.
I talked with him a long time, and though
he heard me with great respect, and



144 Soul-Winning Stories.

permitted me to pray with him, it
seemed impossible for him to beUeve
that even Christ could give him power
over this sin which had so debased him.
A series of union evangelistic meetings
were being held in one of the churches
of the city at the time, and I asked him
if he would go with me that evening, and
he promised to do so. When we arrived
at the church it was packed to the door
and I took him around with me to the
side door, and up on the platform, where
seats were reserved for the ministers
and singers. My friend seemed almost
frightened to be in such a conspicuous
place, but it was the only way to get
into the house, and so he yielded.
The sermon was a plain, heart-searching
one that made everybody look at Christ
as the divine Saviour. Just as the
preacher was getting well started a mes-
senger came, and tapping me on the
shoulder said that my wife desired me
to come to the parsonage, nearly a quar-



Won Through Friendship. 145

ter of a mile away. I feared very much
to leave my friend, and yet, not knowing
what was desired, I felt I must respond
to the call. Asking my friend to wait
until my return, even if the meeting
should adjourn, I slipped back to the
rear of the platform and hurried home.
I found it was only a stray couple wait-
ing to get married, and, I never married
a couple more impatiently. I performed
the ceremony as quickly as possible, and
ran all the way back to the church,
hoping and praying that the minister
might preach a long sermon that night.
The sermon was not yet done. I slipped
in beside my friend, and I saw that his
interest and his hope seemed greatly
deepened. When the invitation was
given to go into the inquiry-room at the
close of the sermon, and I turned to him
and said, "Shall we go?^' he yielded
without any further urging, and when we
got down into the inquiry-room we went
away into a quiet corner by ourselves,



146 Soul- Winning Stories.

and there on our knees, while I prayed,
he surrendered his whole heart and life
to Jesus Christ as his Lord and King.
The next Sunday I had the indescribable
joy of receiving him into the church.

Many times since then we have talked
the matter over together, and again and
again he has assured me that I never would
have won.him to Christ if I had not first
won his friendship. He declares that
it was his love for me that led him finally
to have courage to hope that he might
love Christ as I did, and find in Christ^s
love the help which I believed was there
for him.

We still go fishing together sometimes,
and I shall not forget, while memory
remains, one summer afternoon sitting
in the boat on the lake as the sun was
dropping low in the west. We were
looking about at the green wall of the
mountains and speaking of its beauty.
Gradually the conversation drifted to
a more personal quarter and we spoke



Won Through Friendship. 147

appreciatively and reminiscently of the
many good times we had had together
on such excm-sions. Suddenly turning
to me, his eyes filled with tears, and
with a glow of thanksgiving on his
usually pale cheek, he said in a trem-
bling, hushed voice, "All that I am I
owe to you.'' I would not have ex-
changed that short sentence and the
look that came with it for any wealth or
honor that the world has power to give,
and I went home that night with a new
sense of appreciation of the blessedness
of the privilege of being a soul-winner.



CHAPTER XI

AN OLD SAINT'S SURPRISE



CHAPTER XI.



ONE of the most delightful scenes
I ever witnessed in the work
of saving souls — and altogether
the most delightful and gi^atifying
experiences I have ever known have been
in that work — was the intense surprise
and exquisite joy I once saw in the face
of a white-haired old man at the con-
version of his son. It occurred in the fol-
lowing way : I found in one of my pas-
torates in a large Eastern city an old man
who was pre-eminently the saint of the
church. He had been there for a long
time and his godly life, his spiritual tone,
and the graces of the Spirit manifested
in all his conduct marked him out as a
Christian of the noblest type. It was not
an imcommon thing to have people on
the outside of the church, men rough



152 Soul-Winning Stories.

and coarse, who did not take much inter-
est in Christian things, say about him :
"Well, I will say, if ever there was a

Christian, Father T is one.'' The

old man had not much money to give to
the church; he was not specially gifted
in prayer or particularly eloquent in his
testimony; but he was a good man. He
had no enemies. Everybody loved him.'
And, as they say in Washington^ "he
had the ear of the House " every time he
got up to speak. The old man had our
ears because he had our hearts.

About the time I came to the church
the old man's son, who had been away
from home a long time, came back from
his travels and work in the West and
settled down near his father and went
into business. The boy had been well
brought up in a Christian way, but he
had gone away from home very early
and had drifted entirely away from
religious things. He had been in the
mines and had associated with wicked



An Old Saint's Surprise. 153

and reckless men and women until he
had simply become indifferent to religious
affairs. The old home teaching and
example of his father (his mother had
died young) had hedged him in, how-
ever, and kept him back from shameful
and outrageous sins. He did not drink
or gamble, and lived, so far as the world
could see, an orderly, moral, and upright
life. But his heart was hard toward
God, and he had been so long away from
the church, and had lived prayerless so
many years that, while he was polite and
good-humored about it, he let you have
no chance to get inside to the real citadel
of his heart in any attempt to win him
to Christ.

The attitude of the son was a great
sorrow to his father. He had been pray-
ing for him all the years, and it was the
longing of his heart to see him a happy
and useful Christian. Happily the bond
between the father and the son was un-
usually strong and tender. The boy



154 Soul-Winning Stories.

could not say too much concerning his
father's goodness. He had unbounded
faith in the sincerity and genuineness of
his father's religion. During the year
and more that I was trying to win him
to an open confession of Christ, the one
hopeful thing about the attempt was this
fact, that I knew he never doubted his
father's reUgion. The neares\; I ever
got home to him in private conversation
was when I would turn to the subject
of his boyhood and get him to talk about
his boyish experiences. That was always
sure to bring out something about his
father's religious life, something about
the family worship, the Bible reading
and the prayers that were a part of every
day's life. Sometimes he would wind up
such a talk by saying: "I do not want
you to think that it is my father's fault
that I am not a Christian. If ever a man
lived right before his children it was my
father, and during all the years that I
have been away in the mines and in the



An Old Saint's Surprise. 155

mountains, among wicked men, going
months and months without ever seeing a
church or attending a rehgious service,
not knowing when Sunday had come
except that it was wash-day, I never
went to bed at night without thinking
of my father^s family prayers. And if
I had never seen another Christian, my
father has lived so honestly and so truly
a Christian life in my presence that I
should always know there was one
Christian.''

Now when a man would say a thing like
that, and say it so loyally and earnestly
that his cheeks would glow and his eyes
glisten with moisture, you would think
you had almost won him. So I thought,
only to be disappointed again and again.

You have seen an old snag of a tree
growing beside the road. It has been
struck by lightning, probably, and split
down through the center until most of
the top is gone. One side is dead en-
tirely. There is no sign of life anywhere



156 Soul- Winning Stories*

about the main trunk to be discovered
from without. If you see it for the first
time in winter you think it is entirely
dead, and you are very much astonished
along in April to see one little branch up
near the top on which the buds begin
to swell out, and after a while the leaves
break forth, and you see that the heart of
the tree is still alive. It is alive in that
one spot; but for that one outcropping
of life, there would be no hope for the
gnarled and wounded tree. Well, it was
that way with my young business friend.
While he was still a young man in age,
he was past middle age in experience with
the kind of associations that had wounded
and seared his spiritual nature. There
was just one green spot of Hfe left in him;
that was his love for his father and his
unshaken faith in his father's Chris-
tianity.

Time passed on, month after month.
Again and again I sought opportunities
for conversation with him. These were



An Old Saint's Surprise. 157

never hard to obtain. He was a bright,
genial fellow, seemed to like me very-
much, and always met me with a certain
kind of frankness when I broached the
subject of religion; but I soon discovered
that he always met me at the outside
gate, and kept the talk out there, and I
never got inside, where he really lived.
He was an enigma to me. He was so
friendly, both to me and to the church,
and yet toward God and Christ he was
as hard as a rock. I think of all the
men I have ever known of his type, a
man so good in many ways, he was the
most utterly indifferent to the claims
of God.

Every now and then his father would
speak to me about it, and beg me not
to forget him or cease to pray for his
conversion. A very powerful and suc-
cessful revival of religion passed by, but
without winning my young friend. He
came but little to the meetings, though
he always came on Sunday; but they



158 Soul-Winning Stories.

seemed to have no effect whatever upon
him, and when the meetings closed, and
he was still outside, the aged father's
heart was very heavy.

Now Father T himself was a very

faithful soul-winner. While I doubt if
he ever passed a waking hour during
all that year that he did not have some
thought and prayer in his heart about
the conversion of his son, he did not, on
that account, neglect others. No man
in the church was more alert in looking
out for opportunities to say a good word
for his Master or to reach out a helping
hand to one in the dark, or to a weak
soul that was ready to faint.

So time passed on during the early
summer till we came to a wet Sunday
night. How well I remember it ! I had
prepared, with unusual care, an appeal
to the unconverted, with special reference
to some people whom I hoped would
be present and in whom at the time I
was interested. But when, that after-



An Old Saint's Surprise. 159

noon, it began to storm, and the night
was so rainy that we did not go up into
the main auditorium, but turned the
people who came into the Sunday-school
room, I was bitterly disappointed. I
do not know when I have been so dis-
appointed concerning a stormy Simday
night, which I confess is always a great
trial to me, as on that night. During
the opening service it seemed to me that
the sermon I had prepared would be
entirely out of place, as I thought that
the few who had ventured out through
the unusual storm were all Christians.
But while they were singing the last
hymn the son of my old saint came in
and sat down in the back row of chairs
near the door. Suddenly there was a
flash of light through the black cloud
that had been overshadowing my sky.
I determined to direct my whole sermon
at that man. So far as I knew, he
was the only man in that small audi-
ence who was not a Christian, and I



160 Soul-Winnmg Stories.

secretly purposed to concentrate all my
thought and hope on him, and preach
my sermon to him as if we were the only
two in the audience. As Nehemiah
prayed to God for the right word when
he stood before the king in the palace at
Shushan, so I breathed out my heart
to God during the remaining verses of
that hymn that this might be the hour
for the capture of the man's soul. God
greatly helped me in preaching. I de-
livered the discourse with unwonted
zest and earnestness. But toward the
chair near the center, in the rear of the
room, where that young merchant sat,
I directed my gaze. After a few minutes
he seemed restless under it and uneasy,
and then he gave himself up to it, and
we two men seemed looking into each
other^s squIs.

At the close of the sermon I asked the
congregation to sing a hymn, and invited
any who would like to ask the prayers
of Christian people that their own sins



An Old Saint's Surprise. 161

might be forgiven to rise, the congrega-
tion remaining seated. There were
four verses in the hymn, and three verses
were sung, and no one rose. My eyes
were on my young friend. His face was
white, and I could see that there was a
Hfe and death struggle going on in his
soul. There he sat, motionless as a
statue, as if he were glued to his seat.
To me the suspense and agony were
something terrible, for I somehow had
it borne in on me that if I could not win
him there and then I would never have
so good a chance again. When the
third verse was completed I raised my
hand to the pianist and began to speak.
Very quietly and very solemnly I went on
to say just what was in my heart — that
I believed some soul was making a life
and death struggle then and there, and
I greatly feared that if it grieved the
Holy Spirit at that time the struggle
would never be so hard for it again. It
would always find it easier to shut God



162 Soul-Winning Stories,

out after that, and it would shut him
out at last, and thus shut itself out of
heaven. "Now,^' I continued, "we will
sing this last verse, and it is not only a
verse of song, it is an open gate into
heaven, and I am sure some one ought
to enter it." Scarcely the first line of
the hymn had been sung when my young
business friend leaped to his feet.
" Leaped " is the proper word, for he had
been holding himself so tense, and had
been so stiffening himself against such
conviction, that he simply had to leap
from it in order to conquer. Until he
stood up there had been no sign of emo-
tion about his face except its pallor; but
the moment he was on his feet, and had
really committed himself, the tears began
to run down his cheeks, and he threw him-
self upon his knees. With difficulty
mastering my own great emotion at this
sudden and glorious victory, I quietly
said that one young man had asked our
prayers and was praying for himself;



An Old Saint's Surprise. 163

and urging all to unite their prayers
for him, we knelt in prayer.

After several had led briefly in prayer,
on rising from our knees, I called for a
brief testimony meeting, and very soon

Father T was on his feet. During

the course of his remarks, which were
devoted almost entirely to his own ex-
perience, he finally spoke very tenderly
of his joy that ''the young m.an'^ had
started that evening for heaven. It at
once became apparent to the audience,
most of whom were acquainted with
both the father and son, that the old
man, who had been sitting much further
front, did not know who it was that had
risen. Another old man, a few seats
away, was so overcome with this, that,
half rising out of his seat, he shouted:

"Why, Father T , don't you know?

It is Albert that started.'^

I never saw such surprise and unutter-
able joy mingled in a human face as I
then saw on the face of that dear old



164 Soul-Winning Stories.

man. He turned around, looking back-
ward toward where his son sat, his hands
upraised, and cried out in broken tones:
"Oh, is it my boy? Is it my boy?''

In the meantime the young man had
found the Lord, and he met his father's
looks with a joyous and reverent expres-
sion; and when his father sat down,
unable to speak further on account of
his emotion, the son rose to speak, and
I have never heard a sweeter tribute of
love and veneration paid by a son to his
father than that young man gave out
of the new Christian joy that had come
to his heart. It was a blessed hour.
We all thoroughly appreciated what it
must be to be in heaven where the angels
have "joy over one sinner that re-
penteth.'*



CHAPTER XII
THE BOY IN THE DRY-GOODS BOX



CHAPTER XII.



THERE once appeared in my Sun-
day-school a boy with the most
wonderful head and the most
captivating eyes that one could find
in a year of travel and search. He was
a little fellow, about ten years old, but
oh, what a head ! It would have been the
despair of an artist and at the same time
his joy. A wealth of curls, great, dark
eyes as gentle as a fawn's and with some-
thing so appealing in them that they
went straight to your heart. I turned
to look at him again and again as I
passed around through the Sunday-
school. He evidently came from a home
of moderate circumstances, for while
his clothing was neat and clean, it was
well patched. A few weeks passed by
and the little boy was Yeiry regular at the



168 Soul-Winning Stories.

Sunday-school and won the hearts of
all who came in touch with him.

One Sunday he did not come. Both
the superintendent and myself missed
him. Then, when he did not come the
next Sunday, we went to look him up.
It was just before Christmas time, and
the weather was very cold. From his
address on the class record we found
that his home was on one of the very
poorest streets in the poorest section of
the city. Going to the place, a revelation
of poverty came to us that was heart-
rending. There was the mother and
father and five children, and they lived
in two Uttle rooms. One of these rooms
was a dark room, without a window in
it, and they rented this daytimes to a man
who worked nights. The family had
been in good circumstances up to within
a year of the time of our meeting. The
father had earned good wages, and they
had lived well. Then the firm for which
he labored had gone out of business, and



The Boy in the Dry-goods Box. 169

it had thrown him out of emplo3niient.
They had come East, hoping to better
their condition, but had struck hard
times. The father had walked the
streets day after day hunting for work.
In the meantime they had pawned their
wedding presents, and one after another
had pawned or sold quite a library of nice
books, and then, as things grew worse,
all their better clothing had gone the
same way. Day after day the father
searched for work. The mother, who
was frail and in delicate health, did what
she could. Now and then the father
got a little job to do, but as his good
clothing went, and as he lost heart, it
became harder and harder to get any
employment at all.

And so it happened, as Christmas time
drew near, that they were on the very
verge of starvation. They had got down
to bread and tea, and not much of that.
To make matters worse the little boy
had fallen ill, and when the superintend-



170 Soul-Winning Stories.

ent and myself hunted them out the
Uttle fellow was terribly sick with typhoid
fever and was lying on a little bed made
up in a dry-goods box. Without proper
medicine and care I have no doubt he
would have died within the next two or
three days. Of course we gave them
temporary relief at once, and saw to it
that they had proper food and that the
little boy had a chance to get well. I
immediately interested myself in finding
employment for the man, and was suc-
cessful. Both the man and his wife had
been Christians and members of the
chiu-ch in their former home, and the
unexpected help which had come to them
from the church at a time when their
hearts were so broken and when they


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