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Touching Incidents: Part 11

By S.B. Shaw


      A little girl once said: "Mother, does God ever scold?" She had seen her mother, under circumstances of strong provocation, lose her temper, and give way to the impulse of passion; and pondering thoughtfully for a moment, she asked: "Mother, does God ever scold?"

      The question was so abrupt and startling, that it arrested the mother's attention almost with a shock, and she said, "Why, my child, what makes you ask such a question?"

      "Because, mother, you have always told me that God was good, and that we should try to be like Him; and I should like to know if he ever scolds."

      "No, my child; of course not."

      "Well, I'm glad he don't, for scolding always hurts me, even if I feel I have done wrong; and it don't seem to me that I could love God very much if he scolded."

      The mother felt rebuked before her simple child. Never before had she heard so forcible a lecture on the evils of scolding. The words of the child sank deep in her heart, and she turned away from the innocent face of her little one to hide the tears that gathered to her eyes. Children are quick observers; and the child, seeing the effect of her words, eagerly inquired:

      "Why do you cry, mother? Was it naughty for me to say what I said?"

      "No, my love, it was all right; I was only thinking that I might have spoken more kindly, and not have hurt your feelings by speaking so hastily, and in anger, as I did."

      "O mother, you are good and kind; only I wish there were not so many bad things to make you fret and talk as you did just now. It makes me feel away from you so far, as if I could not come near you, as I can when you speak kindly. And, oh, sometimes I fear I shall be put off so far I can never get back again!"

      "No, my child, don't say that," said the mother, unable to keep back her tears, as she felt how her tones had repelled her little one from her heart; and the child, wondering what had so affected her parent, but intuitively feeling it was a case requiring sympathy, reached up, and throwing her arms about her mother's neck, whispered "Mother, dear mother, do I make you cry? Do you love me?"

      "O, yes! I love you more than I can tell," said the parent, clasping the little one to her bosom; and I will try never to scold again; but if I have to reprove my child, I will try to do it, not in anger, but kindly, deeply as I may be grieved that she has done wrong."

      "O, I am so glad. I can get so near to you if you don't scold! And do you know, mother, I want to love you so much, and I will try always to be good?"

      The lesson was one that sank deep in that mother's heart, and has been an aid to her for many years. It impressed the great principle of reproving in kindness, not in anger. If we would gain the great end of reproof -- that of winning the child to what is right, and to the parent's heart.

      -- Mother, Home, and Heaven.


      I believe it to be a great characteristic of the American heart, that it clings to home and mother. I remember passing over a battlefield, and seeing a man just dying. His mind was wandering. His spirit was no longer on that bloody field; it was at his home far away. A smile passed over his face--a smile, oh, of such sweetness, as looking up, he said: "O mother! O mother! I'm so glad you have come! "And it seemed as if she were there by his side.

      By and by he said again: " It's cold! It's cold! Won't you pull the blanket over me?" I stooped down, and pulled the poor fellow's ragged blanket closer to his shivering form. And he smiled again "That will do, mother; that will do I " And so, turning over, he passed sweetly into rest, and was borne up into the presence of God on the wings of a pious mother's prayers. -- G.I Mingins.


      Trained religiously, I had reached a young man's years before making a public profession of religion. Prior to my conversion, thoughts of the ministry sometimes flashed across my mind; but it was only a flash. After my conversion, I was earnest for the welfare of others, and wanted to promote the interests of the church and of humanity. The conviction grew upon me that I must preach; yet I tried to put that away, because I feared I could never succeed. I saw the greatness of the work, and the reproachful poverty then connected with the itinerant ministry. There were two special difficulties in the way. First, I had no gift of speech. My voice was poor, and in school I always shunned declamation. I firmly believed I could never make a speaker, and so chose the profession of medicine, which I studied three years in a professional school. I think I should have resolutely rejected the idea of the ministry, except that it seemed inseparably connected with my salvation. I fasted, I prayed for Divine direction; but I found no rest until, reading in the Bible one day, I found a passage which seemed especially written for me "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." I accepted it, and resolved to do whatever God in his providence should indicate by opening the way. I never lisped to a friend the slightest intimation of my mental agony, but I took a more earnest part in the church services.

      One Sabbath I felt a strong impression that I ought to speak to the people at night in prayer-meeting, as we had no preaching. I said to myself: " How shall I? For my friends will say I am foolish, as they know I cannot speak with interest." Especially I dreaded an old uncle, who had been a father to me, and superintended my education. While I was discussing this matter with myself in the afternoon, my uncle came into the room, and, after a moment's hesitation, said to me: "Don't you think you could speak to the people tonight?" I was surprised and startled. I asked him if he thought I ought. He said, "Yes; I think you can do good."

      That night, for some strange reason, the house was crowded, and I made my first religious address to a public congregation. It was not written. It was not very well premeditated. It was simply an outgushing of a sincere and honest heart.

      My mother was a widow. I was her eldest son, the only child remaining at home. I feared it would break her heart to leave her, and feared it would be impossible to do so. One day, after great embarrassment, I was induced to speak to my mother on the subject of my mental struggles, and tell her what I thought God required of me. I never shall forget how she turned to me with a smile, and said : "My son, I have been looking for this hour ever since you were born

      She then told me how she and my dying father, who left me an infant, consecrated me to God, and prayed that, if it were His will, I might become a minister; and yet that mother had never dropped a word of intimation in my ear that she ever desired me to be a preacher. She believed so fully in the Divine call, that she would not bias my mind with even a suggestion of it in prayer.

      That conversation settled my mind. Oh, what a blessing is a sainted mother! To-day I can feel her hands on my head, and I hear the intonation of her voice in prayer. -- Bishop Simpson.


      The Rev. Theodore Clapp, for many years a minister of religion in the city of New Orleans, narrates the following incident, which occurred within his experience:

      Several years ago there was a lady--a mother--residing in one of the Northern States, distinguished for her wealth, social position, and religious character. She had a favorite son, for whose advancement in life great efforts had been made. But notwithstanding, he became a profligate and vagabond.

      I had known the youth in our school-boy days. The mother addressed to me a letter concerning her lost child. From the latest information she believed that he was wandering in the Southern States. She besought me, if I should meet the hapless fugitive, to acquaint her with the facts, and extend to him such offices of kindness as I might judge expedient.

      A few days after the receipt of this letter, the young prodigal made his appearance in New Orleans, and found his way to my study. He was in a most woeful plight, both physically and morally. In manners he was rude, audacious, and grossly profane. He wanted money. "Money will do you no good," said I, "unless you reform your life."

      "Reform! " repeated he; "it is impossible. It is entirely too late. I have no hope; I can never retrieve my steps. I have nothing- to live for. I am the execration of all who kn6w me. I have not a friend left in the wide world."

      On his saying this I went to my desk, and took out the letter from his mother. Showing him the superscription, I asked him if he knew the hand-writing. A change came over his manner. He replied with a thoughtful air: "It is my dear mother's.'' I opened the letter, and read to him a single paragraph; and this was-the sentence I read to him "O my Heavenly Father, I beseech Thee to preserve, forgive, and redeem my poor lost child; in Thy infinite mercy, be pleased to restore him to my embrace, and to the joys of sincere repentance."

      In moment he seemed as if struck by some unseen power. He sank down upon his chair, burst into tears, sobbed aloud, and convulsively exclaimed: "O God, forgive my base ingratitude to that beloved mother! Yes, the thought of that fond parent, in a far-distant and dishonored home -- who cherished for him an undying affection, who overlooked all his baseness, who never failed to mingle his outcast name with her morning and evening prayers -- the thought of such tenderness broke his obdurate heart, and the waters of penitence rushed forth.

      From that hour he was a reformed man. He is now an inhabitant of his native place, shedding around him the blessed influence of a sober, useful, and exemplary life. -- Mother, Home, and Heaven.


      During the winter of t885-86 we were called to hold a revival meeting in New Haven, Shiawassee county, Michigan. During the first few days of the meeting we found many difficulties, and the powers .of darkness arrayed against the work. Keenly realizing our need, we went to God in earnest prayer, and soon experienced a wonderful travail of soul for the desolation of Zion. In less than twenty-four hours from the time this wonderful spirit us wrestling prayer was given us, the work commenced to move in earnest. The pastor, in sobs and tears, confessed that he was backslidden, asked pardon of some of his members, and came to the altar seeking forgiveness of God. Many professed Christians followed his example, and in a few days the whole country was in a flame of revival, such as had never been known in that section of the country. The spiritual condition of the community was so changed that for years sinners were converted at almost every public gathering of God's people. Never elsewhere have we witnessed so sweeping and thorough a work of grace, and such wonderful manifestations of God's presence and glory. Over two years after the commencement of that wonderful awakening, at a camp-meeting held in the same community, a paper was drawn up endorsing our work, and signed by several ministers of the gospel and forty or fifty others; and from that paper we clip the following statement in reference to this glorious revival, known in all that section as "the big revival":

      "When Brother Shaw came, great division and lack of harmony existed among the members of the different churches in the neighborhood -- Methodist, Episcopal, Free Methodist, Weslyan Methodist, and German Evangelical. Bible Christianity was at a low ebb, but he preached the truth of God faithfully. He condemned sin of every kind. God honored the message by a mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The truth went home to hearts. The whole county was stirred. Scores who opposed the work bitterly for a time, were brought under conviction, saved, and became its warmest friends. Under the mighty power of God souls were humbled, confessions were made, wrongs were made right, and sectarian bigotry melted away. Hearts were united. Several ministers of the gospel knelt at the altar as seekers. The work was so thorough that no difference could be discovered among the members of the different churches. All were equally separated from the world, and equally baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire. During the meeting, lasting in all about seven weeks, between two and three hundred souls were gloriously converted, reclaimed or sanctified. Never has there been known in all this community such a revival." -- Editor.


      I had a singular experience, which is very vivid to my mind. The precise year I cannot say, and I may be mistaken in the name of the vessel. But somewhere about the year 1860, the bark Benjamin Burgess sailed from Boston for Cienfugos. The crew were mostly from the house of which I had charge. There had been, and there still was, a powerful religious influence pervading our house. I said to the men as they were going on board: "Remember, Ishall pray for you every day." I made it a practice, directly after 12 M., to retire, and pray, and commune with God. One day, after the bark had been gone about six weeks, while bringing up before the Lord the different cases, this crew was presented with unusual interest. I was thrown into an agony of feeling before God, and I cried to him to have mercy on that crew. Such were my feelings. I noted the time. After the terrible struggle in prayer for God to save that crew, with strong cries and tears, there came into my feeling a great peace, as though prayer were' answered, and that crew made safe. Unbeknown to me, the bark was chartered to go to Antwerp, and thence to Boston. On their arrival back, I said "Boys, did you have a hard time in either passage? " "Yes," said they, "a fearful time on the voyage from Cienfugos to Antwerp. We were being driven upon the rocks in a terrible gale and storm. Captain Snow said to us: "Boys, there is no hope and no deliverance, unless God helps us; " and sure enough, to our great astonishment, there came a wind from off the shore, and we were saved." The day of my agony of prayer before the Lord for that crew, that they might be saved, was the day they were having that terrible experience on the bark. I have no comments to make on that experience. I simply give the facts in the case. -- N. Hamilton, in Christian Witness.


      Mrs. C. Chipperfield, of Springfield, Ohio, sent us, in 1887, an account of several very clear and definite answers to prayer for the supply of temporal needs, received during her Christian experience of about ten years, during the greater part of which time she was a widow; and added:

      "I would like to tell you how the Lord mercifully saved my boy from death. While I was on my knees praying for him, I was strongly impressed that some evil was about to happen to him; and while in earnest prayer for him the burden was lifted, and he was saved from a terrible death. In crossing the railroad, where there were many tracks, in trying to avoid one engine he was knocked down by another, and dragged a distance of a block or more; but though his face and hands were terribly lacerated and filled with coal-ashes, yet not a bone was broken. This was about eight years ago; and the next morning there was an article in the paper under the heading: 'A Most Miraculous Escape.' And when the railroad men tried to explain to me that it was because the road was so smooth that he was dragged along; or if the ties had been above the ground he must have been crushed, I said: 'No, but God heard his mother's prayer."


      On his fiftieth birthday, Rev. C. H. Spurgeon was interviewed in reference to his long and eventful ministerial life, especially as to his confidence in the efficacy of prayer. Being asked whether he had in any way modified his views, he replied:

      Only in my faith growing far stronger and firmer than ever. It is not a matter of faith with me, but of knowledge and everyday experience. I am constantly witnessing the most unmistakable instances of answers to prayer. My whole life is made up of them. To me they are so familiar as to tease to excite surprise; but to many they would seem marvelous, no doubt. Why, I could no more doubt the efficacy of prayer than I could disbelieve the laws of gravitation. The one is as much a fact as the other, constantly verified every day of my life. Elijah, by the brook Cherith, as he received the daily rations from the ravens, could hardly be a more likely subject for skepticism than I.

      Look at my Orphanage. To keep it going entails an annual expenditure of about ten thousand pounds. Only one thousand four hundred is provided for by endowment. The remaining eight thousand six hundred comes to me regularly in answer to prayer. I do not know where I shall get it from day to day. I ask God for it, and he sends it. Mr. Muller, of Bristol, does the same on a far larger scale, and his experience is the same as mine.

      The constant inflow of funds--of all the funds necessary to carry on these works--is not stimulated by advertisements, by begging letters, by canvassing, or any of the usual modes of raising the wind. We ask God for the cash, and he sends it. That is a good, material fact, not to be explained away.

      But quite as remarkable illustrations of the efficacy of believing faith are constantly occurring in spiritual things. Some two years ago a poor woman, accompanied by her neighbors, came to my vestry in deep distress. Her husband had fled the country; in her sorrow she went to the house of God, and something I said in the sermon made her think I was personally familiar with her case. Of course I had known nothing about her. It was a general illustration that fitted a particular case. She told me her story, and a very sad one it was. I said: ''There is nothing we can do but to kneel down and cry to the Lord for the immediate conversion of your husband." We knelt down, and I prayed that the Lord would touch the heart of the deserter, convert his soul, and bring him back to his home. When we rose from our knees , I said to the poor woman : "Do not fret about the matter. I feel sure that your husband will come home, and that he will yet become connected with our church." She went away, and I forgot all about it. Some months after she re-appeared, with her neighbors, and a man, whom she introduced to me as her husband. He had indeed come back, and he had returned a converted man. On making inquiry and comparing notes, we found that the very day on which we had prayed for his conversion, he, being at that time on board a ship far away on the sea, stumbled most unexpectedly upon a-stray copy of one of my sermons. He read it. The truth went to his heart. He repented, and sought the Lord, and as soon as possible he returned to his wife and to his daily calling. He was admitted a member, and last Monday his wife, who up to that time had not been a member, was received among us. That woman does not doubt the power of prayer. All the infidels in the world could not shake her conviction that there is a God that answereth prayer.

      I should be tha most irrational creature in the world if, with a life every day of which is full of experiences so remarkable, I entertained the slightest doubt on the subject. I do not regard it as miraculous; it is a part and parcel of the established order of the universe, that the shadow of a coming event should fall in advance upon some believing soul in the shape of prayer for its realization. The prayer of faith is a Divine decree commencing its operation.

      -- Faith Made Easy.


      Six years ago Miss Shelly won a gold medal from the Iowa Legislature, "and a wealth of admiration from all who read of her act of heroism." The facts are these In a fearful thunder-storm and a torrent of falling rain, she looked out of her window in the darkness of the night, and by the vivid flashes of lightning shining on the scene, she saw that a railroad bridge near her home had been swept away by the storm. Just then she saw the headlight of a locomotive swiftly approaching the spot where the bridge had just been swept away, and plunge into the abyss below. She lighted her lantern, and alone, amidst the thunder, and lightning, and storm, she crept up a rocky steep, and with her clothes torn to rags, and lacerated flesh, she reached the rails, and on her hands and knees crept out to the last tie of the fallen bridge, swung the lantern back and forth over the abyss, until she heard the faint voice of the engineer, who, though in the greatest peril himself, cried to her to go quickly and give the alarm to save the express train, which was then coming toward that perilous spot, and some help also, to rescue him. She started for the nearest station, which was a mile away. To reach that station she had to cross a high trestle bridge of five hundred feet in length. She had gone but a few steps when a fearful gust of wind put out her lantern, which she then threw away, knowing that she could not relight it in the storm. She then dropped upon her hands and knees, and crept along from tie to tie over the trestle. Her way was lighted only by frequent flashes of lightning. After crossing the bridge she hastened along the rails by the flashes of lightning to the station, and with what strength she had left told her story, and then fell in a dead faint at the station-agent's feet. Help went quickly to the poor engineer's rescue, and telegrams flew up and down the line, notifying all that the bridge was gone. While Miss Shelly lay yet unconscious, the express train came rushing into the depot. When the passengers learned what perils the brave girl had passed through to save them, and saw her still lying in an unconscious state, they took her up tenderly, and bathed her torn and bleeding limbs, and soon brought her back to consciousness. Oh, how the scene beggars description, as the men and women gather about this brave girl of sixteen, looking upon her pale face, her torn and bleeding form. As they think how she went through all this to save their lives, words are too weak to express the deep gratitude of their hearts. They laid a substantial expression of their appreciation at her feet. Then, as the best they could do, they embalmed her memory in their warmest affections, while the world placed a wreath of lasting honor on her brow. And Kate Shelly, living or dying, with her approving conscience, can say: "I did what I could."

      What an example to all Christians, who see so clearly the dark abyss just a step before unconverted men, and they rushing with great speed towards it. Let us swing the lamp of truth before them, and cry with great earnestness: "Danger ahead! Bridge gone! No crossing but through the bleeding victim of Calvary!" May we all learn a lesson of sacrifice and effort to save others, from this incident, that in the coming day Christ, may say of us: "They have done what they could." -- A. B. Earle.


      "I came home one night very late," says the Rev. Matthew Hale Smith, in his Marvels of Prayer, "and had gone to bed to seek needed rest. The friend with whom I boarded awoke me out of my first refreshing sleep, and informed me that a little girl wanted to see me. I turned over in bed, and said:

      "'I am very tired, tell her to come in the morning, and I will see her.'

      "My friend soon returned and said:

      "'I think you had better get up. The girl is a poor little suffering thing. She is thinly clad, is without bonnet or shoes She has seated herself on the door-step, and says she must see you, and will wait till you get up.' I dressed myself, and opening the outside door I saw one of the most forlorn looking little girls I ever beheld. Want, sorrow, suffering, neglect, seemed to struggle for the mastery. She looked up to my face, and said:

      "'Are you the man that preached last night, and said that Christ could save to the uttermost?'


      "'Well, I was there, and I want you to come right, down to my house, and try to save my poor father.'

      "'What's the matter with your father?'

      "'He's a very good father when he don't drink. He's out of work, and he drinks awfully. He's almost killed my poor mother; but if Jesus can save to the uttermost, He can save him. And I want you to come right to our house now.'

      "I took my hat and followed my little guide, who trotted on before, halting as she turned the corners to see that I was coming. Oh, what a miserable den her home was! A low, dark, underground room, the floor all slush and mud--not a chair, table, or bed to be seen. . A bitter cold night, and not a spark of fire on the hob, and the room not only cold, but dark. In the corner, on a little dirty straw, lay a woman. Her head was bound up, and she was moaning as if in agony. As we darkened the doorway a feeble voice said: 'O my child! My child! Why have you brought a stranger into this horrible place?' Her story was a sad one, but soon told. Her husband, out of work, maddened with drink, and- made desperate, had stabbed her because she did not provide him with a supper, that was not in the house. He was then upstairs, and she was expecting every moment that he would come down and complete the bloody work he had begun. While the conversation was going on the fiend made his appearance. A fiend he looked. He brandished the knife, still wet with the blood of his wife.

      "The missionary, like the man among the tombs, had himself belonged to the desperate classes. He was converted at the mouth of a coal-pit. He knew the disease and the remedy--knew how to handle a man on the borders of delirium tremens.

      "Subdued by the tender tones, the madman calmed down, and took a seat on a box. But the talk was interrupted by the little girl, who approached the missionary, and said:

      "'Don't talk to father; it won't do any good. If talking would have saved him, he would have been saved long ago. Mother has talked to him so much and so good. You must ask Jesus, who saves to the uttermost, to save my poor father.'

      "Rebuked by the faith of the little girl, the missionary and the miserable sinner knelt down together. He prayed as he never had prayed before; he entreated and interceded, in tones so tender and fervent, that it melted the desperate man, who cried for mercy. And mercy came. He bowed in penitence before the Lord, and lay down that night on his pallet of straw a pardoned soul.

      "Relief came to that dwelling. The wife was lifted from her dirty couch, and her home was made comfortable. On Sunday, the reformed man took the hand of his little girl and entered the infant class, to learn something about the Savior 'who saves to the uttermost.' He entered upon a new life. His reform was thorough. He found good employment, for when sober he was an excellent workman; and next to his Savior, he blesses God for the faith of his little girl, who believed in a Savior able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."


      Dr. Lyman Beecher said of the great revival in Rochester, N.Y., conducted by Mr. Finney, that it was the greatest revival in the Christian era. During Mr. Finney's evangelistic ministry, hundreds of thousands were converted to God through his labors, joined to those of the church. His Lectures on Revivals " have been most wonderfully blessed in the conversion of sinners, directly and indirectly, not only in this country, but in foreign countries. When they were published in this country, 12,000 of them were sold as fast as they could be printed. They were reprinted in England and France. They were translated into Welsh, French and German. One publisher in London put out 80,000 volumes of them. Great revivals followed wherever they circulated.

      But why did such revivals follow Mr. Finney's preaching, and the reading of his lectures? I will let Mr. Finney answer this question himself. Said he, in his autobiography - "Let the reader remember that long day of agony and prayer at sea, that God would do something to forward the work of revivals, and enable me, if He desired to do it, to take such a course as to help forward the work. I felt certain then, that my prayers would be answered, and I have regarded all that I have since been able to accomplish, as in a very important sense, an answer to the prayers of that day. The spirit of prayer came upon me as a sovereign grace, bestowed upon me without the least merit, and in despite of all my sinfulness. He pressed my soul in prayer until I was enabled to prevail; and through infinite riches of grace in Christ Jesus, I have been many years witnessing the wonderful results of that day of wrestling with God. In answer to that day's agony, He has continued to give me the spirit of prayer."

      Said Dr. N. Murray: "Prayer is the power of the Church; and could I speak as loud as the trumpet which is to wake the dead, I would thus call upon the Church, in all branches and in all lands: 'Awake! awake! put on thy strength, 0 Zion! put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem! Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' Patriarchs, prophets, apostles. martyrs, reformers, were mighty in prayer. -- Prevailing Prayer, by Wigle.


      Sometime about the commencement of the year 1871, train was passing over the North-Western Railroad, between Oskaloosa and Madison. In two of the seats, facing each other, sat three lawyers engaged at cards. Their fourth player had just left the carriage, and they needed another to take his place. "Come, Judge, take a hand," they said to a grave magistrate, who sat looking on, but whose face indicated no approval of their play. He shook his head, but after repeated urgings, finally, with a flushed countenance, took a seat with them, and the playing went on.

      A venerable woman, gray and bent with years, sat and watched the Judge from her seat near the end of the railway carriage. After the game had progressed awhile, she arose, and with trembling hand and almost overcome with emotion, approached the group. Fixing her eyes intently on the Judge, she said in a tremulous voice: "Do you know me, Judge ----"

      "No, mother, I don't remember you," said the Judge, pleasantly. "Where have we met?"

      "My name is Smith," said she; "I was with my poor boy three days, off and on, in the court-room at Oskaloosa, when he was tried for -- for -- for robbing somebody, and you are the same man that sent him to prison for ten years; and he died there last June."

      All faces were now absorbed, and the passengers began to gather around and stand up all over the car, to listen to and see what was going on. She did not give the Judge time to answer her, but becoming more and more excited, she went on:

      "He was a good boy, if you did send him to jail. He helped us clear the farm; and when father took sick and died, he done all the work, and we were getting along right smart. He was a stidy boy until he got to card-playin' an' drinkin', and then, somehow, he didn't like to work after that, and stayed out often till mornin'; and he'd sleep so late, and I couldn't wake him when I knowed he'd been out so late the night afore. And then the farm kinder run down, and then we lost the team; one of them got killed when he'd been to town one awful cold night. He stayed late, and I suppose they had got cold standin' out, and got skeered and broke loose, and run most home, but run agin a fence, and a stake run into one of 'in; and when we found it next mornin' it was dead, and the other was standin' under the shed. And so, after a while, he coaxed me to let him sell the farm, and buy a house and lot in the village, and he'd work at carpenter work. And so I did, as we couldn't do nothin' on the farm. But he grew worse than ever, and after awhile, he couldn't get any work, and wouldn't do anything but gamble and drink all the time. I used to do everything I could to get him to quit and be- a good, industrious boy agin; but he used to get mad after awhile, and once he struck me, and then in the morning I found he had taken what little money there was left of the farm, and had run off. After that time I got along as well as I could, cleanin' house for folks and washin', but I didn't hear nothin' of him for four or five years; but when he got arrested and was took up to Oskaloosa for trial, he writ to me."

      By this time there was not a dry eye in the car, and the cards had disappeared. The old lady herself was weeping silently, and speaking in snatches. But recovering herself, she went on:

      "But what could I do? I sold the house and lot to get money to hire a lawyer, and I believe he is here somewhere," looking around. "Oh, yes, there he is, Mr. ----;" pointing to lawyer ---- who had not taken part in the play. "And this is the man, I am sure, who argued agin him," pointing to Mr., the district attorney. "And you, Judge, sent him to prison for ten years; 'spose it was right, for the poor boy told me that he really did rob the bank; but he must have been drunk, for they had all been playin' cards most all the night, and drinkin'. But, oh dear! it seems to me kinder as though if he hadn't got to playin' cards he might a been alive yet. But when I used to tell him it was wrong and bad to play, he used to say: 'Why, mother, everybody plays now. I never bet only for the candy, or the cigars, or something like that.' And when we heard that the young folks played cards down to Mr. Culver's donation party, and that 'Squire Ring was goin' to get a billiard table for his young folks to play on at home, I couldn't do nothin' with him. We used to think it was awful to do that way, when I was young; but it jist seems to me as if everybody was goin' wrong now-a-days into something or other. But may be it isn't right for me to talk to you, Judge, in this way; but it jist seemed to me the very sight of them cards would kill me, Judge; I thought if you only knew how I felt, you would not play on so; and then to think, right here before these young folks! May be, Judge, you don't know how younger folks, especially boys, look up to such as you; and then I can't help thinking that may be if them that ought to know better than to o so, and them as are better larnt and all that, wouldn't set sich examples, my Tom would be alive and caring for his poor old mother; but now, there ain't any of my family left but me and my poor granchile, my darter's little girl, and we are going to stop with my brother in Illinoy."

      Tongue of man or angel never preached a more eloquent sermon than that gray, withered old lady, trembling with old age, excitement and fear that she was doing wrong. I can't recall half she said, as she, poor, lone, beggared widow, stood before the noble looking men, and pleaded the cause of the rising generation. The look they bore as she poured forth her sorrowful tale was indescribable. To say that they looked like criminals at the bar would be a faint description. I can imagine how they felt. The old lady tottered to her seat, and taking her little grandchild in her lap, hid her face on her neck. The little one stroked her gray hair with one hand and said: "Don't cry, grandma; don't cry, grandma." Eyes unused to weeping were red for many a mile on that journey. And I can hardly believe that any one who witnessed that scene ever touched a card again. It is but just to say that when the passengers came to themselves, they generously responded to the Judge, who, hat in hand, silently passed through her little audience. -- Selected.


      A Christian wife, whose husband was an officer on a Mississippi steamer (which was burned), as she prayed that her husband would be preserved and saved, not knowing of the disaster, was assured that his life would be spared and that he would be saved. When, the day following, she received a telegram, stating that her husband had perished, she folded it and said: " It is not so. He is saved from the flames and waves, and shall be from his sins." A few days later he arrived at home, and was soon converted. The faith of this Christian wife, after praying earnestly, was of the same nature as the faith of Luther, who, after praying nearly all night, with some of his friends, exclaimed: " Deliverance has come! Deliverance has come! " -- Rev. S.A. Keene, in Prevailing Prayer.


      This eminent saint of God labored in England during the early history of Methodism. His biographer, Harvey Leigh, says: "Our brother was an extraordinary man in the importunity and prevalence of his prayers. What has been said of the strength and constancy of his faith may be said, with equal propriety, of his importunate and prevalent prayers; that is, he was second to none. In fact, we need not be surprised at this, for generally these two excellences walk hand in hand. For some years he was known in the religious world to thousands by the singular name of

      'Praying Johnny.' This epithet he justified in the whole of his conduct. His prayers were long and very fervent in his own closet. Mr. Bottomley, who was stationed with him in the Halifax circuit, says: 'During the time of his stay at Halifax, he was much given up to prayer, and generally spent about six hours each day upon his knees, pleading earnestly with God, in behalf of himself, the church and sinners, whose salvation he most ardently desired.

      "Frequently, when harassed by any particular temptation, when concerned about the temporal condition of any person in dangerous affliction, when under engagement to pray for one who was troubled with an evil spirit, when foiled some late attempt to do good, when travailing in anguish of mind for a revival of religion in the neighborhood in which he was laboring, and when deeply anxious to see the glory of the Lord revealed, he has spent many hours in the most decided abstinence and secluded retirement; and has sometimes, in this manner, devoted whole days and nights to God.

      "In the public services of the sanctuary, John had great influence with God in prayer. In answer to the earnest breathings of his soul, a whole assembly has been moved as the trees of a would are moved when shaken with a strong wind. A mighty shaking has been felt, and a great noise heard, amongst the dry bones. The breath of Jehovah has been felt, numbers among the slain have been quickened, and a great army has been raised up.

      "A strange fact connected with the history of this good man, and strikingly illustrative of his close communion with God in prayer, and of the results of such communion, we shall here relate. When in Hull circuit, he visited Burlington Quay, and was rendered eminently useful. When there, his home was with Mr. Stephenson, whose family was one of the most influential in the place. Their mercantile engagements were numerous; at home they carried on a considerable business, and were extensively connected with the shipping department. About the year 1825, Mr. Stephenson had a ship at sea, on a foreign and distant voyage, about the safety of which he and the family began to feel anxious. There had not been any tidings of the vessel extending over a period far beyond what they had expected. And what tended much to increase their solicitude, they had a son on board for whom they feared the worst -- feared that they should see him no more. At this time Mr. Oxtoby was sojourning in the family, and was painfully concerned at witnessing their anxiety. Pressed in spirit for them, and desirous to be the instrument of their relief, he fell back upon his usual and safe resort--special fasting and protracted prayer to God--in which he besought the Almighty to give him an assurance whether the ship was really lost, or whether it would return home in safety. In his protracted travail, he clearly ascertained that the ship, which had been the object of so much solicitude, was not lost, but that it and the son for whose safety the family were so anxious, would, in due course, return in safety, and that all would be well. This welcome intelligence he communicated to the anxious family; and did it with as much confidence as characterized St. Paul's mind, when he uttered his noble speech to the embarrassed ship's crew, while they drew near to the island of Melita, and, contrary to all human appearance, assured them that not a hair of their heads should perish. Rut high as our brother stood in the estimation of the family, and exalted as was their opinion of his extraordinary piety, and the power and prevalency of his prayers, yet his calm and positive assertions on this subject almost exceeded the powers of their belief; and though they did not distrust them, they staggered at them. But John remained unmoved. He smiled at their doubts; reiterated his expressions of confidence; told them that God had 'shown him the ship while at prayer;' that he was as certain of her safe return as if she were in the harbor then; and that when the vessel returned, though he had never seen her, excepting when revealed to him in prayer, he should know her, and could easily distinguish her from any other. Time rolled on, John pursued his work, and the family remained anxious, when news reached them, one day, that the vessel was safe and on her way home. It soon after arrived, at which time Mr. Oxtoby was about ten miles distant in the country. The Stephenson family were, however, so delighted with the occurrence--with the realization of all/~their devoted friend had uttered--with the accomplishment of what, to them, appeared like a prediction, and from which the good man had never wavered--no, not for a moment--that a gig was immediately sent for him, by which he was to return with the least possible delay. When he reached Burlington Quay, Mr. Stephenson asked him if he should know the ship about which he had sought Divine counsel, providing he could see her. 'I should,' said John; 'God so clearly revealed her, to me in prayer, that I could distinguish her among a hundred.' Then they walked out on the pier, and on their left were many vessels, some near and some remote, floating at anchor in the spacious bay. Among them John looked, and exclaimed; while pointing in a certain direction : 'That's the ship which God showed me while at prayer. I knew she would come home safely, and that I should see her.' We need scarcely add that in this he was correct; and that this last particular of the strange account filled Mr. Stephenson with overwhelming amazement."

      -- Shining Lights.

Back to S.B. Shaw index.

See Also:
   Touching Incidents: Introduction and Preface
   Touching Incidents: Part 1
   Touching Incidents: Part 2
   Touching Incidents: Part 3
   Touching Incidents: Part 4
   Touching Incidents: Part 5
   Touching Incidents: Part 6
   Touching Incidents: Part 7
   Touching Incidents: Part 8
   Touching Incidents: Part 9
   Touching Incidents: Part 10
   Touching Incidents: Part 11
   Touching Incidents: Part 12
   Touching Incidents: Part 13
   Touching Incidents: Part 14
   Touching Incidents: Part 15
   Touching Incidents: Part 16


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