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Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 5

By Reuben Archer Torrey


      "Earth has no Sorrow That Jesus Cannot Heal"

      Some time ago, in America, there were a gentleman and his wife who had a very happy home. The man was prosperous in business in the city of Cleveland, but there came a reverse in business, and the man lost everything he had in the world. The home was broken up; his eldest daughter had to go out to work for a living. His two boys were too young to work. His wife had to leave him and take the two boys and go away to one of the southern states to the home of a sister, and act as housekeeper to make a living for herself and boys. The father went to Chicago, to see if he could not retrieve his fortunes. He met with success and cheering letters full of promise of a brighter day were sent to the wife in the south. But one day she received a telegraphic dispatch saying that her husband was very ill, and that she had better come on to Chicago at once. She took the train. It was a long journey. She reached Chicago at night and went to the hospital to which her husband had been taken.

      By some mistake, the authorities of the hospital said to her, "You cannot see your husband to-night; come at nine o'clock to-morrow morning, and you can see him." With a heavy heart she went to the place where she stopped, and went back to the hospital at nine the next morning. As she rang the bell, they met her at the door and said, "Your husband died last night." She took him out and buried him, and so great was her loneliness and her sorrow, and so frequent her weeping, that it affected her eyesight. She went to a physician. The physician told her that it was not very serious, that she could go back to Mississippi and her eyes would soon be well. She supposed that he was a regular practitioner but she found out too late that he was a Christian Science physician, and was trying to cure her by making her think she was not ill.

      She went back to Mississippi. Her eyes got worse and worse. She went to a regular physician. He said, "Madam, your case is hopeless. If you had come to me a few weeks ago, I could have helped you. Your trouble has gone so far now that there is absolutely no hope for you. You will be totally blind." In a few days she was totally blind -- home broken up, husband buried, eyesight gone. She came on to Chicago. She dropped into our church; she heard the gospel, she heard about Jesus. She came to Jesus with all her overwhelming sorrow, and Jesus gave her rest.

      If you come to the prayer-meeting at our church any Friday night, you will see sitting there a woman with a refined, beautiful face, dressed in black, eyes closed, perfectly sightless, but in that face you will see a serener and profounder joy than you have ever seen in many faces. Very likely, you will see her rise to her feet in the course of the meeting with a face radiant with the sunshine of heaven, and tell how wonderfully God has blessed her; and you may hear her say (what she often says) that she thanks God she has lost her sight, for out of her great trouble she was brought to Christ and found a joy that she never knew before.

      There is a place where there is a cure for every sorrow. That place is at the feet of Jesus.

      Hunted to Death by Her Own Conscience

      Over in Canada there was a young girl leading a quiet life in the country. Report came to her of the greater gaiety of city life in Toronto. She said, "I will go to the city; it is too quiet here in the country. I will go to the city of Toronto, and enter into a life of gaiety." She went to Toronto; she entered upon her gay life, and was soon caught, as so many another girl has been caught, in the whirlpool of sin, and went down into a life of shame. Days passed by; her conscience did not torment her very much. One night the Fisk Jubilee Singers were singing in Toronto, and a friend asked her to go and hear them sing. So she went to the church to hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers sing, and she enjoyed the concert very much until these black singers came to that song, the weird refrain of which runs:

      "My mother once, my mother twice,
      My mother she'll rejoice.
      In heaven once, in heaven twice,
      My mother she'll rejoice."

      As the strains of that refrain came floating over the heads of the audience up to where that poor girl sat in the gallery, it brought back recollections of her childhood. She was a little child again of four years of age. It was evening time. Her mother sat by the table in the sitting-room. The lamp stood upon the table, and the open Bible was in her mother's lap, and the mother was teaching her, an innocent golden-headed child of four, how to pray. The concert went on. Again the Fisk Jubilee Singers came to that refrain:

      "My mother once, my mother twice,
      My mother she'll rejoice.
      In heaven once, in heaven twice,
      My mother she'll rejoice."

      The hot blood rushed to the girl's cheeks. She sprang from her seat in the gallery. Her friend tried to detain her, but she broke away and rushed down the gallery, down the stairway, out on to the streets of Toronto. On and on and on, as fast as her feet, now growing weary, could carry her; on and on and on, beneath the flickering gaslights of Toronto; on and on and on, out into the open country; and the next morning, when a farmer came to his white farmhouse door, there lay the poor girl clutching the threshold -- dead. Hunted to death by her own conscience.

      Woe be to the men and women whose conscience wakes up, who have no hiding place from their own conscience.

      Only Two Boys

      A CHILD can bear witness for Christ. One night I went out to a suburb near Chicago. It was a bitter cold night. After the meeting I said, "Anybody that will accept Christ to-night, stand up." I saw something big begin to get up, and it rose higher and higher and higher, and broader and broader and thicker and thicker -- he weighed two hundred and ninety pounds. An enormous man. I said, "I have caught a pretty big fish to-night," and I had, for he has been an excellent worker ever since, but I caught two little fish that night -- they looked little but they turned out big. Before leaving the building I turned up my coat collar and put on my gloves ready to go out into the cold. I got about half way down the aisle and I saw two boys, I think one was about twelve and the other fourteen years old. I always like boys. Almost everybody had gone, and I turned and said, "Good-evening, boys. What are you waiting for?"

      "Waiting to talk with you, Mr. Torrey."

      "What do you want to talk with me about?"

      They said, "We want you to tell us how to be Christians."

      I turned down my coat collar and took off my gloves and sat down and explained to them the way to be a Christian. They understood it, and they took Christ. After we got up, I said, "Boys, what are your names?"

      "Henry Harris," "Charlie Harris." I wrote them down in my book.

      A few nights after there was a young lady sitting in the meeting, and while I preached I made up my mind that she was not a Christian. When I got through preaching I went down and said, "Good evening, are you a Christian?"

      "No, I am not a Christian."

      "Would you like to become a Christian?"

      "Yes."

      "Would you become a Christian if I showed you how?"

      "Yes." She sat down, and I took my Bible and showed her how to be a Christian. Then I asked for her name. "Miss Harris."

      "Where do you live?" I wrote it down, and I said over and over to myself, "Harris, Harris; where have I heard that name?" I turned back in my little book and I saw the names of these two boys. I said, "I had two boys here the other night with the same name as yours and they live where you do."

      "Oh, yes," she said, "they are my brothers. They brought me."

      A few nights after a lady came, and while I talked she just sat and listened, and when the meeting was over I stepped up to her and said, "Are you a Christian?"

      "I am not what you call a Christian. I call myself a Universalist."

      "Are you saved?"

      "Not what you would call saved."

      "Would you like to become a Christian to-night? Would you become a real Christian if I showed you how?"

      We sat down, and she took Christ and we had prayer together. Then I said, "What is your name, please?"

      "Mrs. Harris."

      "I had two boys by that name the other night, who live just where you do."

      "They were my two boys. They would not give me any rest until I came."

      The last meeting was in a great big skating rink, and one night a little boy, with long chestnut curls, came up to me. I said, "Good-evening, my boy, what do you want?"

      "I want to become a Christian."

      I said, "Why do you want to become a Christian?"

      "Because I am a sinner." He did not look a bit like it -- he looked more like an angel -- but he was right; he was a sinner. "We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God."

      I sat down and took my Bible and turned to Isaiah 53:6; " All we like sheep have gone astray." "Is that true of you, my boy?"

      "Yes."

      "What are you then?"

      "I am lost."

      "We have turned every one to his own way."

      "Is that true of you?"

      "Yes, sir."

      "Then what are you?"

      "I am a lost sinner."

      "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." I said, " On whom?"

      He said, "On Jesus."

      "Very well, what is all you have to do then to become a Christian?"

      "Just to believe on Jesus."

      "Will you do it?"

      "I will."

      "Let's kneel down." And he knelt down. I prayed and he prayed, and when he had finished I said, "What are you, my boy?"

      He said, " I am saved; my sins are all forgiven."

      "How do you know that?"

      "Because Jesus says so."

      "Suppose after you go home to-night you forget and do something you ought not to do, what will you do about it?"

      He said, "I will tell Jesus."

      "What will He do?"

      "He will forgive me."

      "How do you know that?"

      "Because He says so."

      I think that boy had a better idea of salvation than some grown-up men.

      "Now; my boy, what is your name?"

      "George Harris."

      The last one of the family. These two little boys that came out that first night brought the whole family to Jesus.

      A Lost Diamond

      A QUAINT preacher of the olden days in our country, the Rev. Dan Baker, puts the danger of delay in the way of a story. He tells of a man who was crossing the ocean. He was leaning over the side of the vessel; it was a bright sunny day, and not a wave broke the surface of the water, just a little ripple here and there kissed by the rays of the sun. And the man, as he leaned over the rail of the vessel, was tossing something in the air, something which, when it fell through the sunlight, sparkled with singular radiance and glory; and he watched it so eagerly as he tossed it up and caught it as it fell. He tossed it up again and again and again, and it threw out its marvellous light as it fell through the sunlight.

      At last an onlooker came and said, "May I ask what that is that you are tossing up so carelessly?"

      "Certainly," he replied, "look at it, it is a diamond."

      "Is it of much value?" asked the onlooker.

      "Yes, of very great value. See the color of it, see the size of it. In fact, all I have in the world is in that diamond. I am going to a new country to seek my fortune, and I have sold everything I have, and have put it into that diamond, so as to get it into a portable shape."

      "Then if it is so valuable, is it not an awful risk you are running in tossing it up so carelessly?"

      "No risk at all. I have been doing this for the last half-hour," said the man.

      "But there might come a last time," said the onlooker; but the man laughed and threw it up again, and caught it as it fell, and again and again, and once more, and it flashed and blazed with glory as it fell through the sunlight, and he watches it so eagerly as it falls. Ah! but this time it is too far out. He reaches as far as he can over the rail of the vessel, but he cannot reach far enough. There is a little plash in the ocean. He leans far over the rail and tries to penetrate with his eager gaze the unfathomable depths of deep blue ocean. Then cries, "Lost! lost! lost! All I have in the world is lost!"

      You say, "No man would be so great a fool as that; that story is not true." That story is true, and the man is here to-night. Thou art the man! That ocean is eternity; that vessel, life; that diamond, your soul, that soul of such priceless value that Christ died to save it. And you have been trifling with it! I come to you to-night and say, "My friend, what is that in your hand which you are playing with so carelessly?"

      You say, "It is my soul."

      "Is it worth much?"

      "Worth much? More than the whole round earth, 'for what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'"

      "But don't you think you are taking an awful risk?"

      "Oh, no," you say, "I have been doing this for the last five years, for the last ten, fifteen, twenty years."

      "Yes, but you might do it once too often."

      "Oh, no," you say, and to-night once more you throw it up. But you may throw it up once too often; it will fall too far out, beyond your reach; there will be a plash, and you will try to look after it; not into the impenetrable depths of the blue ocean, but into the unfathomable depths of the bottomless pit as it sinks and sinks and sinks, and you will cry, "Lost! lost! lost! my soul is lost!" That may be your cry some day. Come to-night, before it is too late, and put your soul where it will be everlastingly safe, in the keeping of the Son of God.

      "We Shall be Like Him"

      How well I remember one man -- I spent more time and more money on the salvation of that man than on any man I ever tried to lead to Christ. It was very discouraging. He came to me one night away down in sin, about fifty years of age. He came of a good family. He had been well educated, but now he was a common day laborer when he was sober -- a complete wreck. He came into a meeting. When almost everybody had gone he came up and said, "I want to ask you something alone."

      I said, "Come this way."

      He leaned over and whispered, "Mr. Torrey " (I had never met him before that night), " do you think Jesus Christ can save me?"

      I said, "Jesus Christ can save anybody."

      He said, "Do you really think He can save a man as far down as I am?"

      I said, "Jesus Christ can save anybody."

      "Well," he said, " I will take Him."

      For a little while he went on well. One day I was to go to a dinner at a house where he was invited also. My wife and I had nearly reached the house when, at the bottom of the block of houses, we saw a young fellow running out of the house up the street. He came to me and said, "Mr. Torrey, C. is drunk." My wife thought very much of him, and she turned to me and almost burst into tears and said, "Oh, Archie, whom can we trust?"

      I replied in one word, "God! You cannot trust C. You cannot trust any man, but you can trust God."

      We got to the house and found him raging. He wanted to get out, but they had locked him in a room. I went into the room and stood between him and the door. He was a great, big, burly fellow, and I said to him, "You cannot go out."

      He cried, "Let me out."

      I said, You cannot go out. You are not going to get out until you are sober."

      He said, "That is not fair. You know I would not strike you. You know I could throw you, and you know I won't touch you."

      I said, "You cannot go out."

      At last he lost all control of himself, and he made a rush for me, and there were heads and arms flying around the room for about half a minute. Then there was a sudden crash, and I was sitting on top. He was a much stronger man than I, one of the most powerful men I ever knew. I have heard that man when he was angry, grind his teeth so that you could hear it across this hall. I have seen that man, when under the influence of liquor, strike an iron fence with his bare fist. It was God that gave me the victory. He was subdued for the time being. I held him there until he got calmed down. "Now," I said, "I have to call and see a dying woman. I cannot leave you here. I cannot very well take you to see a dying woman, but you have got to go along." I took him along as far as the door of the house where the woman was dying, and I said, "Sit down on that threshold, and wait there until I come." When I came back he was fast asleep. I got him home all right.

      This sort of thing went on for months and years. I moved to Chicago. I sent for him to come to Chicago, where I got a position for him. He did first-rate for a while, and then he got drunk, and he came to see me and he said: "That was not fair at all the time you threw me in Minneapolis. You know you cannot throw me."

      I said, "I am not going to." That sort of thing went on for months and years; but I made up my mind that, by the grace of God, no matter what it cost in money, and no matter what it cost in time and patience, I was going to see that man saved. For some time I lost sight of him. One night I was in my pulpit in Chicago, preaching. I had already begun the service when I saw C. coming into the building. I went down to where he was sitting, and said, "Good-evening, C, I am glad to see you." He stayed to the after-meeting.

      The next day I was going to Minneapolis, and I took him along with me. He said, "Mr. Torrey, there is one thing that has cured me. I thought you would never want to see me again, but I hardly had got into the building, and had sat down away in the back, when you walked down from the platform and came to speak to a miserable tramp like me. That was too much!"

      Do you know, from that day C. got his feet on the Rock!

      Years passed, I was in Minneapolis again. I was in a big restaurant, when I saw C. come in at the farther end, and I went up to him. He said, "I was looking for you. I heard you were in town. Don't laugh at me."

      I said, "I am not going to laugh at you. What's up?"

      He said, "I want to ask you something. Don't laugh at me."

      I said, "I am not going to laugh at you. What do you want?"

      He said, "I want to be married. I am engaged to a right good Christian woman and I want you to marry us."

      I said, "I am your man. I'll do it." I married him. You say it was pretty risky, but his feet had been on the Rock now for a good while. He married that Christian woman, and they built up a happy Christian home.

      The other day my wife wrote to a friend of ours, who had gone to Minneapolis, to know how C. was getting on -- I think he is her pet of all the drunkards who have come under our roof. This lady wrote back, "He is doing well. He is leading a Christian life."

      And, friends, the time is coming when poor, wrecked, ruined C. transformed by the power of the returning Christ will be like Him, "For when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;" and when this man that I wept over and worked for and spent money on all these years, when he meets his Christ, and his salvation is indeed complete, he will be so like his Master that we can hardly tell the two apart.

      Killed by Shame

      Oh, the awful heart-breaking agony of shame. In America, in New York State, we had a cashier in a bank, who was in a hurry to get rich, so he appropriated the funds of the bank and invested them, intending to pay them back. But his investment was a failure. For a long time he kept the books so as to blind the bank examiner, but one day when the bank examiner was going over the books he detected the embezzlement. He called in the cashier -- he had to acknowledge his defalcation. He was arrested, tried, and sent to State's prison. He had a wife and a lovely child, a sweet angel-like little girl.

      Some time after his arrest and imprisonment the little child came home sobbing with a breaking heart. "Oh," she said, "mother, I can never go back to that school again. Send for my books.

      "Oh," she said, "my darling," thinking it was some childish whim, "of course you will go back."

      "No," she said, "mother, I can never go back. Send for my books."

      She said, "Darling, what is the matter?"

      She said, "Another little girl said to me to-day, 'Your father is a thief.'"

      Oh, the cruel stab! The mother saw that she could not go back to school. The wound was fatal. That fair blossom began to fade. A physician was called in, but it surpassed all the possibilities of his art. The child faded and faded, until they laid her upon her bed, and the physician said, "Madam, I must tell you this is a case in which I am powerless; the child's heart has given way with the agony of the wound. Your child must die."

      The mother went in and said to her dying child, "Darling, is there anything you would like to have me do for you?"

      "Oh," she said, "yes, mother, send for father. Let him come home, and lay his head down on the pillow beside mine as he used to do." Ah! but that was just what could not be done. The father was behind iron bars. They sent to the governor of the State, and he said, "I have no power in the matter." They sent to the warden of the prison. He said, "I have no power in the matter."

      But hearts were so touched that they trumped up a case and summoned him as a witness. So they made arrangements whereby the father was suffered to come home under a deputy-warden. He reached his home late at night, and entered his house. The physician was waiting. He said, "I think you had better go in to-night, for I am afraid your child will not live till morning." The father went to the door and opened it softly.

      The child looked quickly up. "Oh," she said, "I knew it was you, father. I knew you would come. I have been praying God to send you. Father, come and lay your head beside mine upon the pillow just as you used to do." And the strong man went and laid his head upon the pillow, and the child lovingly patted his cheek, and died. Killed by shame. Men and women, hell is the place of shame, where everybody is dishonoured.

      A Well-Known Entertainer Becomes a Soul Winner

      One night in London two men went to the theatre and presented passes for entrance. For some reason or other, the man at the door did not recognize them and the passes were refused. One of the men was a very prominent entertainer and thought he was well-known in the theatrical profession everywhere, and this refusal to accept the passes irritated him greatly, and he left the theatre with his friend in a rage. They took the Kensington Avenue bus, and as they were passing the Royal Albert Hall, he noticed the signs of the mission. He remembered he had promised his sister that he would come and hear me, so he suggested to his friend that they get off the bus and come into the hall that night. His friend consented and in they came. He was not much interested in the singing, though he himself did a good deal of work in his profession along that line, but the sermon went right to his heart. He left the Royal Albert Hall to think the matter over. His sister, who was an earnest Christian woman, had left on his mantelpiece a little tract (a report of a sermon on "Hell" that I had delivered in London). He took it down and read it. It brought him under deepest conviction of sin, and he then and there fell on his knees and surrendered himself to God.

      The next night he came to see me at the Royal Albert Hall, and told me of his decision to accept Christ. He made a public profession that night before the great crowd in the hall. He told me he could not go on and take the entertainments for which he was booked the next day at St. George's Music Hall. He said, "I cannot go and entertain those people and make them laugh when I know they are going to hell." He tried to get into communication with the stage manager, but could get no reply from him either by letter or telegraph. He went down to the Hall and asked to be let off from his engagement.

      The manager replied, "I will let you off on one condition, and one condition only, and that is that you will go out and tell the waiting crowd why you are not performing."

      He said, "I will do that."

      He went out on the stage and said, "Friends, I cannot give my entertainment this afternoon. I was converted last night at the Torrey-Alexander mission."

      The crowd burst into applause, thinking it was a new joke that he was getting off. He stopped the applause and said, "It is no joke. I have been converted. I cannot stand here and make you people laugh when I know that many of you are on the road to hell." The audience stopped their applause and became serious. Many of them were touched by his earnestness and his bravery. At least one woman was converted then and there in that audience.

      When he went off the stage, the manager offered the hall for the use of Gospel meetings the next week. He accepted the offer. Meetings were held in that music hall all through the week, and there were many interesting conversions, including at least one person connected with the nobility. He was afterwards invited ail over England and Scotland and Ireland and Wales to bold evangelistic meetings. A great London magazine had an article upon his conversion and said, "Two or three such conversions as that would move all London."

      Guilty of High Treason

      ONE day in Maryborough, over in Australia, a fine-looking man came to see me, an unusually fine-looking man, with splendid physique and dome-like forehead. He said, "I want to talk with you," and I said, "Very well, take a seat, sir."

      He said, "I want to know what you have against me."

      "What I have against you," I exclaimed, "I don't know you."

      "I mean this; I am not a Christian; I don't pretend to be a Christian, but I am a moral, upright man, and no one can deny it. Now," he said, "I would like you to tell me what you have against me."

      I said, "You are not a Christian?"

      "No, sir," he replied. "You have not taken Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and surrendered your life to Him as your Lord and Master, and confessed Him as such before the world, and given your life to Him?"

      "No, sir," he replied.

      "Then," I said, " I charge you, sir, with high treason against your King. Jesus Christ is your King, by Divine appointment, and I charge you, sir" -- and I looked him right in the eye -- "I charge you, sir, with the crime of high treason against your divinely appointed King."

      A dark cloud came over the man's face. He got up, and left the room, scarcely saying a word. As he went out the door he never looked back. He walked down the long walk without ever looking back. Out of the front gate, never looking back.

      Months passed away; we had been over to Tasmania and conducted a mission there, and had returned, and I was preaching in Ballarat, about forty miles away from Maryborough. After the service, a fine-looking man came to me, and said, "Do you remember me?"

      I knew his face, but I could not remember where I had seen him. I said, "I have seen you somewhere, but I cannot place you."

      He said, "Do you remember charging a man with high treason?"

      I said, "I have charged many a man with high treason."

      "Yes," he said; "but do you remember charging a specific man with high treason?" Then he began to tell me his story, and I commenced to gather who he was. He said, "I am the man, and I have come way to Ballarat, sir, to tell you that you will never charge me with high treason again;" and he held out his hand, and I held out mine, and he took mine in his mighty grip -- and it was a mighty grip !-- and he said, "Down!" and he dropped on his knees, and I dropped on to mine, and he said, "Lord Jesus, I hand in my allegiance; I give up my treason; I take Thee as my King."

      You men ought to do it to-night. He is your King, and every man and woman among you that does not accept Him and acknowledge Him as such to-night I charge you with high treason against Heaven's King.

Back to Reuben Archer Torrey index.

See Also:
   Anecdotes and Illustrations Publisher's Note
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 1
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 2
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 3
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 4
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 5
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 6
   Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 7

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