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Anecdotes and Illustrations: Part 7

By Reuben Archer Torrey


      "God Use This Stammering Tongue"

      One day during his great mission in London, Mr. Moody was holding a meeting in a theatre packed with a most select audience. Noblemen and noble-women were there in large numbers. A prominent member of the royal family was in the royal box. Mr. Moody arose to read the Scripture lesson. He attempted to read Luke 4:27, "And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet." When he came to the name Eliseus, he stammered and stuttered over it. He went back to the beginning of the verse and began to read again, but again when he reached the word "Eliseus" he could not get over it. He went back and began the third time to read the verse but again the word "Eliseus" was too much for him.

      He closed the Bible with deep emotion and looked up and said, "Oh, God! Use this stammering tongue to preach Christ crucified to these people."

      The power of God came upon him and one who heard him then and had heard him often at other times said to me afterwards that he had never heard Mr. Moody pour out his soul in such a torrent of eloquence as he did then, and the whole audience was melted by the power of God.

      Give Me a Love For Souls

      One time during my ministry in Chicago, I was deeply disturbed that I had so little love for souls; that I could meet men and women who were lost and be so little concerned about it; that I could preach to them and had so little inclination to weep over them. I went alone with God and prayed, "O God give me a love for souls." Little did I realize how much the answer to that prayer involved.

      The next day there came into my Bible class a man who was the most distressing picture of utter despair I ever saw. At the close of my Bible class I walked down the aisle. I saw him in the last seat. His face haunted me. I was burdened. I could not lose sight of him. I cannot tell the pain I had for hours and days as I cried to God for his salvation, but I had the joy of seeing him profess to accept Christ.

      Love for souls is one of the costliest things a man can have, but if we are to be like Christ, and if we are to be successful in His work, we must have it. But don't pray for it unless you are willing to suffer.

      Pray Through

      A LADY in Melbourne, Australia, in reading the book "How to Pray" was greatly impressed by one sentence of two short words, "Pray through." It took a great hold upon her and she began to organize prayer circles all over Melbourne. Before we reached Melbourne there were 1,700 prayer circles a week and the wonderful success of the mission was largely due to these prayer circles. After we reached Melbourne, this lady told Mr. Alexander this story and it made a great impression on him. He afterwards said the two words, "'Pray through,' gripped me like a vice."

      One day he had occasion to go into a bank in Liverpool to get some money. While he was standing at the bank counter waiting for the clerk to come, he picked up a pen and began to write on the blotter in large letters these two words, which had been burned into his soul, "Pray through," "Pray through," "Pray through." Over and over and over again he wrote it on the blotter until the big blotter was filled from top to bottom with the words "Pray through." After he had transacted his business he went away.

      The next day a friend to whom he kept talking as he printed on the blotter came to him and said that he had a striking story to tell him. "A business man came into the bank soon after we had gone. He had grown discouraged with business troubles. He started to transact some business with the same clerk over that blotter, when his eyes caught the long column of 'pray through.' He asked who wrote those words, and when he was told, he exclaimed, 'That is the very message I needed. I will pray through. I have tried to worry through in my own strength, and have merely mentioned my troubles to God. Now I am going to pray the situation through until I get light.'

      A lady who heard Mr. Alexander tell the story wrote a hymn upon it, the last verse of which runs,

      "Don't stop praying but have more trust;
      Don't stop praying! for pray we must;
      Faith will banish mountains of care;
      Don't stop praying! God answers prayer."

      Which are You Like?

      Up in the mountains of North Carolina lived a farmer who had a poor farm, with thin soil, where by hard work, he was barely able to make a living for himself, wife and son. The son, however, was a remarkably bright boy, and easily surpassed all the other boys in the district school. One day the father said to the mother, "Our son is a natural born scholar and if he is only a poor farmer's son he shall have as good an education as a millionaire's son." The father and mother economized and raked and scraped and got enough together to send the boy off to college. The boy did well at college, and every little while sent a letter home telling how well he was doing in his classes. When these letters came the father and mother would read and reread them, and they filled their hearts with joy.

      One day a letter came and after the father had read it, he said, "Mother, these letters are all right. They do cheer my old heart, but letters are not enough. My heart is lonely for the boy and I must see the boy himself. I cannot wait. I must see him." But the mother was a canny woman and said, "You must wait, you cannot see him. He cannot afford to lose a day from his studies to come down here, and you cannot lose a day from the farm to go and see him. You must wait."

      The father said, "I must see him. I cannot stand it any longer. I must see my boy. I have a plan. I'll load up the old farm wagon this afternoon and get up before sunrise to-morrow and drive to town and sell my load and make enough to pay expenses, and see my boy. I cannot stand it any longer, I must see him." That afternoon the farmer loaded up the wagon, went to bed with the chickens, got up early in the morning before sunrise, hitched up the old team and started for the college town. It was a long tedious journey, but it did not seem long to the farmer for he was going to see his boy. As he drove along he would chuckle to himself, "I will soon see my boy. Won't he be glad to see me? He thinks I am at home on the farm. Won't he be surprised when I walk into his room? Won't he be glad?"

      Every hour of his dreary journey as he drew nearer the college town his heart grew lighter and happier, and at last as he drew near the town he said, "I am almost there. In a little while now I will see my boy. Won't he be surprised? Won't he be glad?" As he entered the town he tried to hurry the old team forward, but to no avail as the team was tired and could not go any faster. As he drove up the hill towards the college who should he see coming down the sidewalk but his boy with two gay young college companions. "There he comes! There he comes!" said the old man, "won't he be surprised to see me? Won't he be glad?" He whipped up the team, but it could not go any faster, they were tired out. He jumped off the wagon and ran up to his boy, who had not seen him. "My son," he cried. His son was surprised, but was not glad. He was ashamed of his father in his plain old homespun clothes before his gay college companions. "There must be some mistake, sir," he said. "I am not your son, you are not my father. I do not know you. There must be some mistake, sir." He might as well have driven a dagger into his father's heart. I am told that the father went home with a broken heart to die. Whether that part of the story is true I cannot say, but I can well believe it. If my son should treat me that way (thank God he never will) I think it would break my heart. What do you think of a son like that? I think he should be horsewhipped. The cowardly, ungrateful wretch.

      But stop before you condemn him. Some of you here to-night are more ungrateful than that son. Jesus Christ has done more for you than that father did for his son. Jesus Christ has done more for you than any father ever did for his son. Yet you are so cowardly and ungrateful that you won't stand up and confess Him before the world, because you are afraid of what some one will say, and you are ashamed of Him. I have never told this story without its making my blood boil, although I suppose I have told it over one hundred times.

      Let me tell you another story. Thank God it is entirely different.

      Down in the mountains of Georgia lived a poor widow. She had a few acres of ground where she raised berries and one thing and another and made a little money keeping chickens and selling eggs. She also took in washing and did other humble work for a living, but God gave her a bright son. He too surpassed every one in the district school. The mother worked hard to get the money to send him to Emory College. The son worked hard to get himself through the college. He graduated with high honors and won a gold medal for special excellence in study.

      When it came time for him to graduate he went up to the mountain home for his mother, and said, "Mother, you must come down and see me graduate."

      "No," said his mother, "I have nothing fit to wear, and you would be ashamed of your poor old mother before all those grand people."

      "Ashamed of you," he said, with eyes filled with filial love, "ashamed of you, mother, never. I owe everything I am to you and you must come down. What is more I will not graduate unless you come."

      Finally she yielded. He brought her to the town. When the graduating day came she went to the commencement exercises in her plain calico dress with her neat but faded shawl and simple mountain bonnet. He tried to take her down the middle aisle where the richest people of the town, friends of the graduating class, sat, but this she refused and insisted on sitting way off under the gallery. The son went up on the platform and delivered his graduating address. He was handed his diploma and received his gold medal. No sooner had he received the gold medal than he walked down from the platform and way to where his mother sat off under the gallery and pinned the gold medal on her faded shawl and said, "Mother, that belongs to you, you earned it."

      That is a son worth having. Which of those two sons are you like, the cowardly ungrateful wretch, ashamed of his poor old father or the noble boy who was proud of his poor mother to whom he owed all he was in the world? I have been told by a president of the college where this happened that when the boy pinned that gold medal on his mother's shawl the whole audience burst into such prolonged applause that the exercises could not go on for five minutes.

      You want to applaud too. Let me tell you a better way to applaud, imitate him. You owe all you are to Jesus Christ. Come, pin all your honors upon Him to day. Come out and confess Him before the world.

      "If I Could Only Have Saved Just One More"

      Before I close I must tell you a story. This incident is so remarkable that when I first heard it it seemed to me that it could not possibly be true. But the man that told it was of such a character that I felt that it must be true because he told it, and yet I said, "I must find out for myself whether that story is true or not." So I went to the librarian of the university where the incident was said to have occurred and I found out that it was true. The story as I tell it to you to-day is as I got it from the brother of the main actor in the scene.

      The story is this: About twelve miles from where I live, twelve miles from the city of Chicago, is the suburb of Evanston, where there is a large Methodist university, I think the largest university of the Methodist denomination in America; at all events, a great university. Years ago, before the college had blossomed into a great university, when there were not many students in it, two young country boys came from the State of Iowa -- strong, husky fellows, and one of them was a famous swimmer. Early one morning word came to the college that down on Lake Michigan, just off the shores of Evanston, there was a wreck. It proved to be the Lady Elgin. The college boys with everybody in town hurried down to the shores of Lake Michigan. Off yonder in the distance they saw the Lady Elgin going to pieces. Ed Spencer, the famous swimmer, threw off all his superfluous garments, tied a rope round his waist, threw one end to his comrades on the shore, sprang into Lake Michigan, swam out to the wreck, grasped one that was drowning and gave the sign to be pulled ashore. And again, and again, and again he swam out and grasped a drowning man or woman and brought them safe to shore, until he had brought to shore a seventh, an eighth, a ninth, and a tenth.

      Then he was utterly exhausted. They had built a fire of logs upon the sand. He went and stood by the fire of logs that cold bleak morning, blue, pinched, trembling, hardly able to stand. He stood before that fire trying to get a little warmth into his perishing members. As he stood there he turned and looked out over Lake Michigan, and off in the distance, near the Lady Elgin, he saw men and women still struggling in the water. He said, "Boys, I am going in again."

      "No, no, Ed," they cried, "it is utterly vain to try; you have used up all your strength, you could not save anybody; for you to jump into the lake again will simply mean for you to commit suicide."

      "Well," he cried, "boys, they are drowning, and I will try, anyhow."

      And he started to the shore of the lake. His companions cried, " No, no, Ed, no, don't try."

      He said, "I will," and he jumped into Lake Michigan and battled out against the waves, and got hold of a drowning man who was struggling in the water and brought him ashore. And again, and again, and again, until he had brought an eleventh, a twelfth, a thirteenth, a fourteenth, and a fifteenth, safe to shore. Then they pulled him in through the breakers. He could scarcely get to the fire on the beach, and there, trembling, he stood before that fire trying to get a little warmth into his shivering limbs. As they looked at him it seemed as if the hand of death was already upon him.

      Then he turned away from the fire again, and looked out over the lake, and as he looked, away off yonder in the distance he saw a spar rising and falling upon the waves. He looked at it with his keen eye, and saw a man's head above the spar. He said, "Boys, there's a man trying to save himself." He looked again and saw a woman's head beside the man's. He said, "Boys, there's a man trying to save his wife." He watched the spar as it drifted towards the point. He knew that to drift around that point meant certain death. He said "Boys, I am going to help him."

      "No, no, Ed," they cried, "you can't help him. Your strength is all gone."

      He said, "I will try, anyway." He sprang into Lake Michigan, swam out wearily towards the spar, and reaching it he put his hands upon the spar, and summoning all his dying strength, brought it around the right end of the point to safety. Then they pulled him in through the breakers. Loving hands lifted him from the beach and carried him to his room up in the college. They laid him upon his bed, made a fire in the grate, and his brother Will remained by to watch him, for he was becoming delirious.

      As the day passed on Will Spencer sat looking into the fire. Suddenly Will heard a gentle footfall behind him and felt some one touch him on the shoulder. He looked up and there stood Ed looking wistfully down into his face. He said, "What is it, Ed?"

      He said, "Will, did I do my best?"

      "Why, Ed, " he said, "you saved seventeen."

      He said, "I know it, I know it, but I was afraid I didn't do my very best. Will, do you think I did my very best?"

      Will took him back to bed and laid him upon it, and sat down by his side. As the night passed, I am told, Ed went into semi-delirium, and Will sat by the bed and held his hand and tried to calm him in his delirium. All that he thought about were the men and women that perished that day, for in spite of all his bravery many went down that day to a watery grave. Will sat there and held Ed's hand, and tried to calm him. "Ed," he said, "you saved seventeen."

      He said, "I know it, Will, I know it; but oh, if I could only have saved just one more."

      Men and women of Birmingham, you and I stand this afternoon beside a stormy sea. Oh, as we look out at this tossing sea of life round about us on every hand there are wrecks. Will you and I sit here calmly while they are going down, going down, going down, going down to a hopeless eternity!

      Men and women, let us plunge in again and again and again and again, until every last ounce of strength is gone, and when at last in sheer exhaustion we fall upon the shore in the earnestness of our love for perishing men, let us cry, "Oh, if I could only save just one more."

      God Does Give the Holy Spirit in Answer to Prayer

      With me the doctrine that God gives the Holy Spirit definitely in answer to prayer is not a matter of mere exegesis, it is a matter of personal experience. If it were a matter of mere exegesis, I would believe it. If it was clearly taught in the Bible, I would believe it, whether I had experience or not; for I do not believe in bringing the Bible down to the level of our experience but in bringing our experience up to the level of the Bible. But with me it is a matter of certain experience. I know that God gives the Holy Spirit in answer to definite prayer as well as I know that water quenches thirst and food satisfies hunger. How often as I have knelt beside a single brother, and how often as I have knelt in a great gathering of God's believing children, the Holy Ghost has fallen upon us as we prayed as definitely, and perceptibly, as the rain ever falls upon the thirsty ground.

      I shall never forget one night in Chicago Avenue Church. The ministers of the city had been holding meetings at noon in the Young Men's Christian Association preliminary to an expected coming to the city of Mr. Moody. At one of these noon meetings, one of the ministers of the city sprang to his feet and said, "Brother Torrey, what we need in Chicago is an all night prayer-meeting of the ministers."

      "Very well, Brother E.," I replied, "if the ministers of Chicago wish to have an all-night prayer-meeting, let them come to Chicago Avenue Church at ten o'clock next Friday night, and if God keeps us there all night, we will stay all night."

      At ten o'clock the following Friday night some four or five hundred people gathered in the vestry of Chicago Avenue Church. They were not all ministers, though there were many ministers. Indeed, they were not all men; there were some women.

      Were you ever in a prayer-meeting where the devil made a dead set to spoil the meeting? Well that was the kind of a meeting it was for the first two hours. To begin with three men got down by chairs near the door, and commenced to pound on the chairs and shout until some of our heads were nearly splitting, and when some one went to them and protested that things should be done decently and in order, they swore at the man who made the protest. Later still a man jumped up in the midst of the meeting and proclaimed that he was Elijah.

      He was not to blame. He was a lunatic. But these things disturbed many and they began to think of going home. But it is a poor prayer-meeting that the devil can spoil, and hundreds of us were there with the determination to stay until we got the blessing.

      About midnight God gave us complete victory, and for two hours there was such prayer in the Spirit as I have seldom heard. A little after two in the morning while we were all kneeling in prayer, suddenly there fell upon us an awful hush.

      Nobody could speak, nobody could sing, nobody could pray. All you could hear was the subdued sobbing of joy unspeakable and full of glory. The very air seemed tremulous with the presence of the Holy Ghost. It seemed to me as if, if I had looked up, I could almost have seen the Holy Spirit there visibly. I do not know how long we were held there in this awed silence before the presence of God. It was now Saturday morning. The following Sunday morning one of my deacons came to me and held out his hand and took mine and gave it a mighty grip and said, with choking voice, "I shall never forget yesterday morning to the longest day I live."

      In the early morning hours, one business man went out of that meeting and took an early train for Missouri to transact some business. When the business was done, he said to the hotel proprietor, "Is there any meeting going on in this town?" " Yes," he said. "There is a meeting going on in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church." He was a Cumberland Presbyterian himself and went to the meeting. When the meeting was opened, he stood up and asked if he might say a few words. The permission was readily given, and with the power of the Holy Spirit upon him, he poured out his soul to the people. In a few days I received a paper from that town saying that fifty-eight persons were converted while he spoke.

      A young man went out from that meeting to Baraboo, Wis., and in a few days I received a letter from Baraboo, Wis., saying that thirty-eight men and boys had been converted in Baraboo. That same man afterwards laid down his life in South Africa after a brilliant record as a missionary there.

      Another young man went out in the early hours and took a train to Wisconsin, and I soon began to receive letters from Methodist ministers and others near Milwaukee asking if we had in our Institute a young man named Sam J., and adding that a young man, giving that name, had appeared among them and was holding meetings in schoolhouses and churches and the soldiers' home, and wherever he went there seemed to be conversions. But they knew nothing about him, and he said he was a student of the Bible Institute.

      Men and women went from that meeting to the uttermost parts of the earth with the power of God upon them. As I have gone around the world and visited China, Japan, India and Australia and other lands, I think in every land I visited, I have found some one who was present that morning when the Holy Ghost fell upon us.

      "I Can Hardly Wait"

      In my first pastorate there was a revival of religion. It was sweeping through the town and people of all classes were being converted. Some of the infidels were greatly disturbed and sent off for an infidel lecturer with the hope of stopping the work, but his coming helped the work rather than hindered it. Many who did not dare to come out to hear the preachers had courage to go to hear the infidel lecturer and were so disgusted by his manner of presenting his position that they looked into the claims of Christ and were led to accept Him.

      One lady said to her husband the night of his first lecture, "Let us go and hear Professor J. to-night at the hall."

      Her husband replied, "What do you want to hear him for? You don't believe as he does."

      "I don't know what I believe," she replied. The husband consented to take her. As they came down the stairs of the hall after listening to the professor's coarse ridicule of the Bible, the lady turned to her husband and said, "Well, I have found out one thing to-night anyway."

      "What is that?"

      "I have found out that I believe the Bible."

      She came to me and asked to be taken into my church. It was evident she really had accepted Christ and she entered the church and became one of the most active members in it.

      But there was another lady in the community, who a few years before in a revival meeting in an adjoining town had started for the front and her husband had laid his hand upon her shoulder and forced her back into her seat. She never afterwards made any attempt to become a Christian but drifted, as so many others do who resist the Holy Spirit, into rampant infidelity. When she heard that the infidels of the town had sent for this infidel lecturer she remarked to a friend, "I can hardly wait until Professor J. gets here." She did not wait. One Saturday evening she was at the house of a friend at a card party. Ten o'clock came and they were still playing cards. Eleven o'clock came and they were still playing cards. Twelve o'clock came and they were still playing cards. The Sabbath began but they were still playing cards; -- Sabbath breaking and card-playing go hand in hand. In the early hours of the Sabbath morning, she sprang suddenly from the card table, clapped her hand upon her head and cried, "Oh," and dropped dead beside the table. I would rather die somewhere else.

      I shall never forget my first meeting with that woman's husband after this awful tragedy. He had never spoken to me before, but as I entered the post-office through one door, he came in through another. As soon as he saw me, he hurried across the post-office towards me, held out his hand and I held out mine in deepest sympathy for the unfortunate man. I shall never forget the grasp he gave my hand. He knew his wife had gone out into a hopeless eternity and that he was to blame. Oh! you men, who are standing between your wives and their acceptance of Jesus Christ, there is an awful day coming for you, a day when you will look upon the white faces of your wives as they lie in the casket and will be face to face with the thought that your wives are lost forever and that you are to blame.

      How Men Become Infidels

      IN one of our western colleges there was a time of deep religious interest. Many of the students were being converted but there were two young men in the college that set themselves against the movement. They agreed to meet on a certain evening and go into the college chapel and there blaspheme the Holy Ghost and thus get rid of their religious impressions. The appointed hour came and the two young men met at the door of the college chapel. One man's courage failed him and he refused to go in, and do as they had agreed. He afterwards was converted and became a Christian. The other went into the college chapel alone. It is not known what he did in there, but when he came out, he was as white as death. He afterwards drifted into utter unbelief and became a leader in one of the well-known infidel organizations of one of our great cities.

      This is the way in which many become infidels. They resist the Spirit of God. They know their duty, they know they ought to accept Christ but they refuse to do it, the Spirit of God leaves them and they drift into the darkness of utter unbelief.

      "I Wish I Were a Christian "

      In one of my pastorates there was a man who was bitterly opposed to the church. He was one of the most self-righteous men I ever knew. He never tired of criticising others, but maintained that his own character was so good that he had no fear of standing before God on the ground of his own upright character.

      But the time came for that man to die. A cancer appeared on his scalp. It ate its way through the scalp and then began to eat its way through the skull. At last there was only a thin film of skull between the cancer and the brain. The doctor informed him that as soon as the cancer penetrated to the brain, he must die. As he lay face to face with the stern reality of death, he said, "Send for Mr. Torrey." I hurried to his bedside and sat down beside him. "Oh," he said, " Mr. Torrey, they tell me I have not long to live; that as soon as the cancer eats a little further through the skull and penetrates the brain, I must die. Tell me just what I must do to become a Christian."

      I tried to make the way of life as plain as I knew how, but he seemed unable to grasp it. He had put off the great decision until too late, and his mind seemed to have lost all power to grasp things. At night I said to his family, "You have sat up with him night after night. I will sit up with him to-night." They told me what to do for him and retired. All through the night I was with him. Several times it was necessary to go out into an adjoining room to get him something, and whenever I would return to the room where he lay from the bed over in the corner of the room, I would hear one constant groan, "Oh, I wish I was a Christian," "Oh, I wish I was a Christian," "Oh, I wish I was a Christian"; and so the man died.

      He had found comfort in the thought of his own goodness in the time of health and strength but as he had lain face to face with death and eternity and God, he had seen clearly it was necessary to have some better foundation but it was too late to find it.

      "I Cannot Believe the Bible Because I am a Scientist"

      One night one of my workers called me to deal with a man who claimed to be an infidel. I said to him, "Are you an infidel?"

      He said, "I am."

      I said, "Will you please tell me what makes you an infidel?"

      He said, "Because I am a scientist and the Bible contradicts the teachings of science."

      I asked him of what branch of science he made a specialty. He replied, "Chemistry."

      I said, "Did you ever hear of Henry Clerk Maxwell?"

      He said, "No, I never did."

      I suggested he could not be very well read in chemistry if he had never heard of Henry Clerk Maxwell, and further called his attention to the fact that though Henry Clerk Maxwell was such an eminent man of science, he was also an earnest Christian. I next asked him if he had ever heard of James D. Dana (the great geologist). He replied that he had. I doubt if he really had, but he was becoming rattled and did not wish to appear too ignorant. "Well," I said, "you know that James D. Dana was one of the most eminent men of science that this country has ever produced. Now," I said, "it was my privilege to study under James D. Dana and to know him personally, and I have heard him say that one reason why he believed the Bible to be the Word of God was because there was such a remarkable agreement between the first chapter of Genesis and the most recent discoveries in geology. Now," I continued, "it will not do for a little six-by-nine scientist like you to say you cannot believe the Bible because you are a man of science, when men so eminent in the scientific world have found no difficulty in believing in the Bible as the Word of God."

      "There is But a Step Between Me and Death "

      At one of the noon meetings for business men in the Lyceum Theatre in Cleveland, a well known socialist agitator sat near a Christian man. He listened attentively to what was said. After I had finished, the Christian man said to him, "D., how did you like that?"

      He replied, "Such reasoning as that is no good. I could wipe that out in a few minutes if they would give me a chance to talk."

      The Christian man replied, "D., you do not understand spiritual things. You may be able to talk politics, but you cannot talk religion."

      "Yes, I can talk politics with any orator and no one can pluck the laurels from my brow," he replied.

      The following day at noon, just a little short of twenty-four hours from the time he made his boasts, the Big Four Railroad threw him into a ditch a lifeless corpse.

      Oh, if we only realized that there was but one step between us and death and eternity. How soon we would cease our empty boasting.

      "I Thought of My Mother"

      DURING our Dublin campaign, a young man came to me in great distress. He had been paying attention to a young lady, who was very worldly. He had been brought up under Christian influences, his mother being an earnest Christian woman. He told me that the preceding Sunday evening he had called upon the young lady in whom he was interested. Though it was Sunday evening, the girl's mother proposed that they play cards. The young lady's mother urged him to join in the game, but he refused. He said to me, "When I was invited to play cards on a Sunday evening, the thought came to me, 'What if I should and my mother should hear of it. It would break her heart.'"

      How many a man is kept back from doing things he would otherwise do by the thought of how it would grieve his mother if she should hear of it. But there is One who is more keenly sensitive than the purest mother, who is grieved at the slightest departure from the path of right as no other ever is grieved, that One is the Holy Spirit. He goes with us wherever we go. He sees all that we do. He hears all that we say. Yes, He sees the most secret fancy of the heart, and if there is an act or word or thought that has a taint of impurity or selfishness or sin, He is deeply grieved. To me this is one of the mightiest incentives to a careful walk. Oftentimes when some evil thought is suggested to me by the enemy, the thought comes, "I cannot entertain that thought for a moment. If I do, the Holy Spirit, who sees it, will be deeply grieved, and I cannot bear to grieve this ever-present, faithful Friend."

      "God Won't Take Me Away Without Giving Me Another Chance "

      A SAILOR from one of the lines of steamers entering New York dropped one night into the Berachah Mission. As he was going out, a worker stopped him at the door and urged him to accept Christ. But he refused to do so. The worker became more insistent and said, "It might be your last opportunity."

      "No," he said, "This will not be my last opportunity. God certainly won't take me away without giving me another chance." He resisted all the pleadings of the worker and left the mission and started for his steamer. As he went across the gangplank from the dock to the steamer, he missed his footing and fell into the water between the steamer and the dock. Before they could get him out he was drowned. It will not do to trifle with God. No man can tell that he will have another chance. The only day of which we are absolutely certain is to-day. The only opportunity of which we are absolutely certain is the present opportunity.

      "There Will be no Dance To-Night "

      Death often throws its dark shadow across our gayest moments. I shall never forget one of the last dances with which I had anything to do. It was a charity ball for the benefit of an organization in which I was deeply interested, and though I was a theological student I was one of the managers of the ball.

      On the afternoon of the day when the ball was to take place, my minister called upon me. I think he was disturbed that one of his members should be the manager in a charity ball. But as he talked with me, he did not come to the exact point of the ball. After a while a classmate, who was also one of the managers of the ball, came in and said, "Torrey, are you going to the ball to-night?" I think he did it partly to annoy me and partly to annoy the minister.

      I said, "Yes, of course, I am going to the ball to-night."

      "No," he said, "You are not going to the ball to-night."

      I said, "I am going to the dance to-night."

      He said, "You are not going to the dance to-night."

      "Well," I replied, "I guess I know and I am going to the dance to-night."

      He said, "You are not going to the dance to-night, for there is to be no dance to-night. While we were making the last arrangements in the hall this afternoon, Mrs. -- as she walked across the stage fell dead, and there will be no dance to-night."

      An Infidel Professor Converted

      In one of my pastorates there was a lady member of our church who had a brother who was a professor of geology. He was an able man but an infidel. Sometimes he delivered lectures on the conflict between science and Christianity. His sister came to me and asked me to pray for his conversion. This I consented to do. Not a great while after she came to me one day and said, "My brother is converted," and showed me a letter he had written her. He said he had recently begun the study of the Bible (it would have been well if he had begun the study of the Bible before he lectured on it) and he had been deeply impressed by the agreement between the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of modern science and that he had become a Christian.

      If more men who talked against the Bible would get down to a real study of the Bible, they would soon give up their infidelity and accept the Bible and its Christ.

      Common Stones Turned into Diamonds

      If it were announced that I were to speak in this hall to-morrow morning to the business men of the city upon a process which I had discovered by which common ordinary stones taken out of the street could be transformed into real diamonds, and if the business men of this city knew I really had discovered such a process, and this was the only occasion upon which I was to explain it, do you think there would be any one here to hear the address? The building would be packed to its utmost capacity. The business men of this city would begin to gather hours before the appointed time of the meeting. They would camp out all night before the doors and a few moments after the doors were open, the building would be filled, and when I had finished describing the process, they would not wait for the benediction, but would rush out into the streets and into the country roads, and you would see leading men of this city, forgetting their dignity, down on their knees in the dirt and mud hunting for stones. If some friend should come along and say, "What are you doing there down in the dirt?" they would say, "Don't bother me." If they should still inquire, "What are you doing?" He would reply, "Looking for stones."

      I can tell you that very thing. I can tell you how to go out into the streets and alleys of the city, out into the roads and lanes of the country, and stoop down into the mud and mire of sin, and take up the common ordinary rude stones, lost men and women, and by the glorious art of the soul winner, transform them into diamonds worthy of a place in the Saviour's eternal diadem. Is not that worth while? Is there any other work in the universe that really is worth while?

      No Pilot Ready

      One night during a severe storm a vessel was seen beating about near the entrance to the Golden Gate, making signals of distress and asking by signal for a pilot to guide it through the gate, to the harbour within. It kept on beating about and signalling for some time, but its signals were not answered, and so after a while the imperilled ship turned its prow again towards the stormy sea, from whose perils it was seeking to escape. The ship was never heard from again.

      There is many a storm-tossed vessel to-day seeking guidance through the golden gate into the harbour but many of us who profess to be Christians and know the way into the harbour well will not take the trouble to go out and face the storm and bring the distressed vessel safely into harbour. Thus we leave them to the perils of the deep and they are never heard of again. Oh, that God would arouse us sleeping Christians to a sense of our duty, and that we would hear the cry of God and go out to bring the storm-tossed safely into harbour.

      "The Harvest is Past, the Summer is Ended, and I am not Saved"

      In the early days of Mr. Moody's work in Chicago, a man who was a constant attendant at the Tabernacle often seemed on the verge of decision for Christ. One day when Mr. Moody urged him to accept Christ, he replied, "No, Mr. Moody, I cannot. My business partner is not a Christian and if I should accept Christ, he would ridicule me." Mr. Moody urged him to trust God and to brave his partner's ridicule but he could not muster courage to do it. Finally he became annoyed at Mr. Moody's constant urging of him to accept Christ, and ceased attending at the Tabernacle.

      For some time he was lost sight of, but one day his wife came to Mr. Moody's house and said, "Mr. Moody, my husband is very ill. There has been a consultation of physicians and they say he cannot possibly live. Won't you come down and speak to him before he dies?" Mr. Moody hurried to the home. He found the man in a very approachable state of mind, and he presented Christ to him. The man listened and seemed to accept Christ. To every one's surprise his disease took a turn for the better. His convalescence was rapid and the next time Mr. Moody called, he found him sitting up outdoors in the sunshine. Mr. Moody said to him, "Now God has been so good to you and raised you up, of course as soon as you are able to come up to the Tabernacle, you will come and make a public confession of your acceptance of Christ."

      "No, Mr. Moody," he said, "I cannot do that for if I should do that my partner would ridicule me and I cannot stand his ridicule." Mr. Moody urged him but he would not consent to make an open confession of his faith.

      Finally he said, "Mr. Moody, I am going to move to Michigan and I promise you when I get over there, I will make a public confession of Christ." Mr. Moody told him that Jesus Christ could keep him in Chicago just as well as He could in Michigan, but the man would not listen. Mr. Moody went away that day with a heavy heart.

      Just a week from that day, the man's wife called at Mr. Moody's house again. "Oh, Mr. Moody," she said, "my husband has had a relapse. We have had another consultation of physicians and they say it is not possible for him to live. Won't you come down and speak to him before he dies?"

      Mr. Moody said, "Did he send for me?"

      "No," she replied, "he did not. That is the worst of it. He does not want to see you, but I cannot let him die this way. Won't you come?"

      Mr. Moody accompanied the wife to the home, went into the room where the dying man lay. As he approached the bed, the dying man said, "Mr. Moody, I don't want you to talk to me. It will do no good. I have had my chance and thrown it away."

      Mr. Moody tried to show him how there was hope even in the last hour; how Jesus said, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out"; that even then he might put his trust in Jesus Christ and be saved, but the man said, "No, it is too late. I had my chance and I threw it away," and he could not be moved.

      Mr. Moody said, "May I pray with you?"

      "No, I don't want you to pray with me. It won't do any good. Pray for my wife and children -- they need your prayers, but don't pray for me. It is too late, I have thrown away my chance."

      Mr. Moody knelt down beside the dying man's bed and tried to pray. He said to me when telling the story long afterwards, "I could not pray. My prayers did not seem to go higher than my head. The heavens above me seemed like brass. When I got up the man said, "There, I told you it would do no good. It is too late. I have thrown away my chance." Mr. Moody went home with a heavy heart.

      All that afternoon as the man sank lower and lower, he kept repeating just one passage of Scripture, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and I am not saved." Again and again those standing around his bed heard him repeating, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and I am not saved." Just as the sun was sinking behind the western prairies they heard him whispering in a low tone and they leaned over to listen and in a feeble whisper he said, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved," and thus he went out into the darkness.

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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