By S.B. Shaw
A CHILD'S PRAYER ANSWERED
The following touching incident which drew tears from my eyes, was related to me a short time since, by a dear friend who had it from an eyewitness of the same. It occurred in the great city of New York, on one of the coldest days in February.
A little boy about ten years old was standing before a shoe-store in Broadway barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.
A lady riding up the street in a beautiful carriage, drawn by horses finely caparisoned, observed the little fellow in his forlorn condition and immediately ordered the driver to draw up and stop in front of the store. The lady richly dressed in silk, alighted from her carriage, went quickly to the boy, and said:
"My little fellow why are you looking so earnestly in that window?"
"I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the proprietor if he would allow one of his clerks to go and buy half a dozen pairs of stockings for the boy. He readily assented. She then asked him if he could give her a basin of water and a towel, and he replied: "Certainly," and quickly brought them to her.
She took the little fellow to the back part of the store, and, removing her gloves knelt down, washed those little feet and dried them with the towel.
By this time the young man had returned with the stockings. Placing a pair upon his feet, she purchased and gave him a pair of shoes, and tying up the remaining pairs of stockings, gave them to him, and patting him on the head said: "I hope my little fellow, that you now feel more comfo rtable."
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes answered her question with these words: "Are you God's wife?"
THE CONVERTED INFIDEL
Some two miles from the village of C. on a road that wound in among the hills stood a great white house. It was beautifully situated upon a gentle slope facing the south, and overlooking a most charming landscape. Away in the distance, a mountain lifted itself against the clear blue sky. At its base rolled a broad, deep river. Nestling down in a valley that intervened, reposed the charming little village with its neat cottages, white church, little red school house and one or two mansions that told of wealth. Here and there in the distance a pond was visible; while farm houses and humbler dwellings dotted the picture in every direction.
Such was the home of three promising children, who for the last three months had been constant members of the village Sunday School. The eldest was a girl of some fourteen years. John, the second, was a bright, amiable lad of eleven. The other the little rosy-cheeked, laughing Ella, with her golden curls and sunny smile had just gathered the roses of her ninth summer.
The father of these interesting children was the rich Captain Lowe. He was a man of mark, such, in many respects as are often found in rural districts. Strictly moral, intelligent and well read, kind-hearted and naturally benevolent, he attracted all classes of community to himself and wielded great influence in his town.
But, not withstanding all these excellences, Mr. Lowe was an infidel. He ridiculed in his good-natured way, the idea of prayer, looked upon conversion as a solemn farce, and believed the most of professing Christians were well-meaning but deluded people. He was well versed in all the subtle arguments of infidel writers, had studied the Bible quite carefully, and could argue against it in the most plausible manner. Courteous and kind to all, few could be offended at his frank avowal of infidel principles, or resent his keen, half-jovial sarcasms upon the peculiarities of some weak-minded, though sincere members of the church.
But Mr. Lowe saw and acknowledged the saving influence of the MORALITY of Christianity. He had especially, good sense enough to confess that the Sunday School was a noble moral enterprise. He was not blind to the fact, abundantly proved by all our criminal records, that few children trained under her influences ever grow up to vice and crime. Hence his permission for his children to attend the Sunday School.
Among the many children who knelt as penitents at the altar in the little vestry, one bright beautiful Lord's Day, were Sarah Lowe and her brother and sister. It was a moving sight to see that gentle girl, with a mature thoughtfulness far beyond her years, take that younger brother and sister by the hand, and kneel with them at the mercy-seat--a sight to heighten the joy of angels.
When the children had told their mother what they had done and expressed a determination to try to be Christians; she, too, was greatly moved. She had been early trained in the principles and belief of Christianity, and had never renounced her early faith. Naturally confiding, with a yielding, conciliatory spirit, she had never obtruded her sentiments upon the notice of her husband, nor openly opposed any of his peculiar views. But now, when her little ones gathered around her and spoke of their new love for the Savior, their joy and peace and hope, she wept. All the holy influences of her own childhood and youth seemed breathing upon her heart. She remembered the faithful sermons of the old pastor whose hands had baptized her. She remembered, too, the family altar, and the prayers which were offered morning and evening by her sainted father. She remembered the counsels of her good mother now in heaven. All these memories came crowding back upon her and under their softening influences she almost felt herself a child again.
When Mr. Lowe first became aware of the change in his children, he was sorely puzzled to know what to do. He had given his consent for them to attend the Sunday School, and should he now be offended because they had yielded to its influence? Ought he not rather to have expected this? And after all, would what they called religion make them any worse children? Though at first quite disturbed in his feelings, he finally concluded upon second thought to say nothing to them upon the subject, but to let things go on as usual.
But not so those happy young converts. They could not long hold their peace. They must tell their father also what they had experienced. Mr. Lowe heard them, but he made no attempt to ridicule their simple faith, as had been his usual course with others. They were HIS children, and none could boast of better. Still, he professed to see in their present state of mind nothing but youthful feeling, excited by the peculiar circumstances of the last few weeks. But when they began in their childish ardor to exhort him also to seek the Lord, he checked their simple earnestness with a peculiar sternness which said to them: "The act must not be repeated."
The next Sunday the father could not prevent a feeling of loneliness as he saw his household leave for church. The three children, with their mother and Joseph, the hired boy, to drive and take care of the horse; all packed into the old commodious carriage and started off. Never before had he such peculiar feelings as when he watched them slowly descending the hill.
To dissipate these emotions he took a dish of salt and started up the hill to a "mountain pasture" where his young cattle were enclosed for the season. It was a beautiful day in October, that queen month of the year. A soft melancholy breathed in the mild air of the mellow "Indian summer," and the varying hues of the surrounding forests, and the signs of decay seen upon every side, all combined to deepen the emotions which the circumstances of the morning had awakened.
His sadness increased; and as his path opened out into a bright, sunny spot far up on the steep hillside, he seated himself upon a mossy knoll and thought. Before him lay the beautiful valley guarded on either side by its lofty hills, and watered by its placid river. It was a lovely picture; and as his eye rested upon the village, nestling down among its now gorgeous shade-trees and scarlet shrubbery, he could not help thinking of that company who were then gathered in the little church, with its spire pointing heavenward nor of asking himself the question: "Why are they there?"
While thus engaged, his attention was attracted by the peculiar chirping of a ground sparrow near by. He turned, and but a few feet from him he saw a large black snake, with its head raised about a foot above its body, which lay coiled upon the ground. Its jaws were distended, its forked tongue played around its open mouth, flashing in the sunlight like a small lambent flame, while its eyes were intently fixed upon the bird. There was a clear, sparkling light about those eyes that was fearful to behold--they fairly flashed with their peculiar bending fascination. The poor sparrow was fluttering around a circle of some few feet in diameter, the circle becoming smaller at each gyration of the infatuated bird. She appeared conscious of her danger, yet unable to break the spell that bound her. Nearer and still nearer she fluttered her little wings to those open jaws; smaller and smaller grew the circle, till at last, with a quick convulsive cry; she fell into the mouth of the snake.
As Mr. Lowe watched the bird he became deeply interested in her fate. He started a number of times to destroy the reptile and thus liberate the sparrow from her danger, but an unconquerable curiosity to see the end restrained him. All day long the scene just described was before him. He could not forget it nor dismiss it from his mind. The last cry of that poor little bird sinking into the jaws of death was constantly ringing in his ears, and the sadness of the morning increased.
Returning to his house, he seated himself in his library and attempted to read. What could be the matter? Usually he could command his thoughts at will, but now he could think of nothing but the scene on the mountain, or the little company in the house of God. Slowly passed the hours, and many times did he find himself, in spite of his resolution not to do so, looking down the road for the head of his dapple gray to emerge from the valley. It seemed a long time before the rumbling of the wheels was at length heard upon the bridge which crossed the mountain stream, followed shortly by the old carry-all creeping slowly up the hill.
The return of the family somewhat changed the course of his thoughts. They did not say any thing to him about the good meeting they had enjoyed, and who had been converted since the last Lord's day; but they talked it all over among themselves, and how could he help hearing? He learned all about "how good farmer Haskell talked," and "how humble and devoted Esquire Wiseman appeared," and "how happy Benjamin and Samuel were"; though he seemed busy with his book and pretended to take no notice of what was said.
It was, indeed, true then that the old lawyer had become pious. He had heard the news before, but did not believe it. Now he had learned it as a fact. That strong-minded man who had been a skeptic all his days, had ridiculed and opposed religion, was now a subject of "the children's revival." What could it mean? Was there something in religion after all? Could it be that what these poor fanatics, as he had always called them, said about the future world was correct? Was there a heaven, and a hell, and a God of justice? Were his darling children right, and was he alone wrong? Such were the thoughts of the boasted infidel, as he sat there listening to the half-whispered conversation of his happy children.
Little Ella came and climbed to her long accustomed place upon her father's knee, and throwing her arms around his neck, laid her glowing cheek, half-hidden by the clustering curls, against his own. He knew by her appearance she had something to say but did not dare to say it. To remove this fear, he began to question her about Sunday School. He inquired after her teacher and who were her classmates, what she learned, etc. Gradually the shyness wore away, and the heart of the innocent praying child came gushing forth. She told him all that had been done that day--what her teacher had said of the prayer meeting at noon, and who spoke, and how many went forward for prayers. Then folding her arms more closely around his neck, and kissing him tenderly, she added:
"Oh, father, I do wish you had been there!"
"Why do you wish I had been there, Ella?"
"Oh, just to see how happy Nellie Winslow looked while her grandfather was telling us children how much he loved the Savior, and how sorry he was that he did not give his heart to his heavenly Father when he was young. Then he laid his hand on Nellie's head, who was sitting by his side, and said: 'I thank God that he ever gave me a little praying granddaughter to lead me to the Savior.' And, father, I never in all my life saw anyone look so happy as Nellie did."
Mr. Lowe made no reply--how could he? Could he not see where the heart of his darling Ella was? Could he not see that by what she had told him about Esquire Wiseman and his pet Nellie, she meant HE should understand how happy SHE should be if HER father was a Christian? Ella had not said so in words--THAT was a forbidden subject--but the language of her earnest loving look and manner was not to be mistaken; and the heart of the infidel father was deeply stirred. He kissed the rosy cheeks of the lovely girl, and taking his hat, left the house. He walked out into the field. He felt strangely. Before he was aware of the fact he found his infidelity leaving him, and the simple, artless religion of childhood winning its way to his heart. Try as hard as he might he could not help believing that his little Ella was a Christian. There was a reality about her simple faith and ardent love that was truly "the evidence of things not seen." What should he do? Should he yield to thin influence and be led by his children to Christ? What! Captain Lowe, the boasted infidel overcome by the weakness of excited childhood! The thought roused his PRIDE and with an exclamation of impatience at his folly, he suddenly wheeled about, and retracing his steps, with altered appearance, he re-entered his house.
His wife was alone with an open Bible before her. As he entered he saw her hastily wipe away a tear. In passing her he glanced upon the open page, and his eye caught the words "YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!" They went like an arrow to his heart. "TRUTH," said a voice within, with such fearful distinctness that he started at the fancied sound; and the influence which he had just supposed banished from his heart returned with ten-fold power. The strong man trembled. Leaving the sitting-room, he ascended the stairs to his chamber. Passing Sarah's room, a voice attracted his attention. It was the voice of prayer. He heard his own name pronounced, and he paused to listen.
"Oh, Lord, save my dear father. Lead him to the Savior. Let him see that he MUST BE BORN AGAIN. Oh let not the SERPENT CHARM HIM! Save, oh, save my dear father!"
He could listen no longer, "Let not the serpent charm him!" Was he then like that helpless little bird, who fluttering around the head of the serpent, fell at last into the jaws of death? The thought shot a wild torrent of newly awakened terror through his throbbing heart.
Hastening to his chamber he threw himself into a chair. He started! The voice of prayer again fell upon his ear. He listened. Yes, it was the clear, sweet accents of his little pet. Ella was praying--WAS PRAYING FOR HIM!
"O Lord, bless my dear father. Make him a Christian, and may he and dear mother be prepared for heaven!"
Deeply moved, the father left the house and hastened to the barn. He would fain escape from those words of piercing power. They were like daggers in his heart. He entered the barn. Again he hears a voice. It comes from the hay-loft, in the rich silvery tones of his own noble boy. John had climbed up the ladder, and kneeling down upon the hay WAS PRAYING FOR HIS FATHER.
"O Lord, save my father!"
It was too much for the poor convicted man, and, rushing to the house he fell, sobbing upon his knees by the side of his wife and cried:
"O Mary, I am a poor, lost sinner! Our children are going to heaven, and I--I--AM GOING DOWN TO HELL! Oh, Wife, is there mercy for a wretch like me?"
Poor Mrs. Lowe was completely overcome. She wept for joy. That her husband would ever be her companion in the way of holiness, she had never dared to hope. Yes, there was mercy for even them. "Come unto me, and find rest." Christ had said it, and her heart told her it was true. Together they would go to this loving Savior, and their little ones should show them the way.
The children were called in. They came from their places of prayer, where they had lifted up their hearts to that God who had said "WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK THE FATHER IN MY NAME HE WILL GIVE IT YOU." They had asked the Spirit's influence upon the hearts of their parents, and it had been granted. They gathered around their weeping, broken-hearted father and penitent mother, and pointed them to the cross of Jesus. Long and earnestly they prayed, and wept and agonized. With undoubting trust in the promises, they waited at the mercy-seat, and their prayers were heard. Faith conquered. The Spirit came and touched these penitent hearts with the finger of love; and then sorrow was turned to joy--their night, dark and cheerless and gloomy, was changed to blessed day.
They arose from their knees, and Ella sprang to the arms of her father, and together they rejoiced in God.
--Brother H. P. in Christian Advocate
On board an English steamer a little ragged boy, aged nine years, was discovered on the fourth day of the voyage out from Liverpool to New York, and carried before the first mate, whose duty it was to deal with such cases. When questioned as to his object in being stowed away, and who had brought him on board, the boy, who had a beautiful sunny face, that looked like the very mirror of truth, replied that his step-father did it, because he could not afford to keep him nor pay his passage to Halifax where he had an aunt who was well off, and to whose house he was going.
The mate did not believe his story, in spite of the winning face and truthful accents of the boy. He had seen too much of stowaways to be easily deceived by them, he said; and it was his firm conviction that the boy had been brought on board and provided with food by the sailors.
The little fellow was very roughly handled in consequence. Day by day he was questioned and requestioned, but always with the same result. He did not know a sailor on board, and his father alone had secreted and given him the food which he ate. At last the mate, wearied by the boy's persistence in the same story, and perhaps a little anxious to inculpate the sailors, seized him one day by the collar, and dragging him to the fore, told him that unless he told the truth, in ten minutes from that time he would hang from the yard arm. He then made him sit under it on the deck. All around him were the passengers and sailors of the midway watch, and in front of him stood the inexorable mate, with chronometer in his hand, and the other officers of the ship by his side. It was a touching sight to see the pale, proud, scornful face of that noble boy; his head erect, his beautiful eyes bright through the tears that suffused them. When eight minutes had fled the mate told him that he had but two minutes to live, and advised him to speak the truth and save his life. But he replied with the utmost simplicity and sincerity, by asking the mate if he might pray. The mate said nothing, but nodded his head, and turned as pale as a ghost, and shook with trembling like a reed in the wind. And then all eyes turned on him, the brave and noble fellow-- this poor boy whom society owned not, and whose own step-father could not care for--knelt with clasped hands and eyes upturned to heaven. There then occurred a scene as of Pentecost. Sobs broke from strong, hard hearts, as the mate sprang forward and clasped the boy to his bosom, and kissed him, and blessed him, and told him how sincerely he now believed his story and how glad he was that he had been brave enough to face death and be willing to sacrifice his life for the truth of his word.
--Illustrated Weekly Telegraph
THE GOLDEN RULE EXEMPLIFIED
Early one morning while it was yet dark, a poor man came to my door and informed me that he had an infant child very sick, which he was afraid would die. He desired me to go to his home, and, if possible help them. "For," said he, "I want to save its life, if possible." As he spoke thus his tears ran down his face. He then added:
"I am a poor man; but, Sir, I will pay you in work as much as you ask if you will go."
I said: "Yes, I will go with you as soon as I take a little refreshment."
"Oh, sir," said he, "I was going to try to get a bushel of corn, and get it ground to carry home, and I am afraid the child will die before I get there. I wish you would not wait for me"; and then he added: "We want to save the child's life if we can."
It being some miles to his house, I didn't arrive there until the sun was two hours high in the morning, when I found the mother holding her sick child, and six or seven little boys and girls around her, with clean hands and faces, looking as their mother did, lean and poor. On examining the sick child, I discovered that it was starving to death! I said to the mother: "You don't give milk enough for this child."
She said: "I suppose I don't."
"Well," said I, "you must feed it with milk."
She answered: "I would, sir, but I can't get any to feed it with."
I then said: "It will be well, then, for you to make a little water gruel, and feed your child."
To this she replied: "I was thinking I would if my husband brings home some Indian meal. He has gone to try to get some and I am in hopes he will make out."
She said this with a sad countenance. I asked her with surprise: "Why madam, have you not got anything to eat?"
She strove to suppress a tear, and answered sorrowfully: "No sir; we have had but little these some days."
I said: "What are your neighbors, that you should suffer among them?"
She said, "I suppose they are good people, but we are strangers in this place, and don't wish to trouble any of them, if we can get along without."
Wishing to give the child a little manna I asked for a spoon. The little girl went to the table drawer to get one, and her mother said to her: "Get the longest handled spoon." As she opened the drawer, I saw only two spoons, and both with handles broken off, but one handle was a little longer than the other. I thought to myself this is a very poor family, but I will do the best I can to relieve them. While I was preparing the food for the sick child, I heard the oldest boy (who was about fourteen), say: "You shall have the biggest piece now, because I had the biggest piece before." I turned around to see who it was that manifested such a principle of justice, and I saw four or five children sitting in the corner, where the oldest was dividing a roasted potato among them. And he said to one: "You shall have the biggest piece now," etc. But the other said: "Why, brother, you are the oldest, and you ought to have the biggest piece."
"No," said the other, "I had the biggest piece."
I turned to the mother, and said: "Madam, you have potatoes to eat, I suppose?"
She replied, "We have had, but this is the last one we have left; and the children have now roasted that for their breakfast."
On hearing this, I hastened home, and informed my wife that food was needed for the sick family. I then prescribed a gallon of milk, two loaves of bread, some butter, meat and potatoes, and sent my boy with these; and had the pleasure to hear in a few days that they were all well.
ONLY ONE VOTE
A local option contest was going on in W--, and Mrs. Kent was trying to influence her husband to vote "No License." Willie Kent, six years old, was, of course on his mamma's side. The night before election Mr. Kent went to see Willie safe in bed, and hushing his prattle, he said: "Now, Willie, say your prayers."
"Papa, I want to say my own words, tonight," he replied. "All right, my boy, that is the best kind of praying," answered the father.
Fair was the picture, as Willie, robed in white, knelt at his father's knee and prayed reverently: "O dear Jesus, do help papa to vote No Whiskey tomorrow. Amen."
Morning came, the village was alive with excitement. Women's hands, made hard by toil, were stretched to God for help in the decision.
The day grew late and yet Mr. Kent had not been to the polls. Willie's prayer sounded in his ears, and troubled conscience said: "Answer your boy's petition with your ballot."
At last he stood at the polling place with two tickets in his hand-- one, license; the other, "No License." Sophistry, policy, avarice said: "Vote License." Conscience echoed: "No License." After a moment's hesitation, he threw from him the No License ticket and put the License in the box.
The next day it was found that the contest was so close that it needed but one vote to carry the town for prohibition. In the afternoon, Willie found a No License ticket, and, having heard only one vote was necessary, he started out to find the man who would cast this one ballot against wrong, and in his eagerness he flew along the streets.
The saloon men were having a jubilee, and the highways were filled with drunken rowdies. Little Willie rushed on through the unsafe crowd.
Hark! a random pistol-shot from a drunken quarrel, a pierced heart, and sweet Willie Kent had his death wound--
They carried him home to his mother. His father was summoned, and the first swift thought that came to him, as he stood over the lifeless boy, was: "Willie will never pray again that I vote No Whiskey."
With a strange still grief he took in his own the quiet little hand chilling into marble coldness, and there between the fingers, firmly clasped, was the No License ballot with which the brave little soul thought to change the verdict of yesterday.
Mr. Kent started back in shame and sorrow. That vote in his hand might have answered the prayer so lately on his lips now dumb, and perhaps averted the awful calamity. Fathers, may not the hands of the "thousands slain" make mute appeal to you? Your one vote is what God requires of you. You are responsible for it being in harmony with His law as if on it hung the great decision.