Behold He Prayeth
“Repent and be ye converted.”
“Except ye be converted, ye shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The patience, counsel and prayers, with godly example of praying parents, are not forgotten before Him as a memorial. Again and again has it been proven true the prayers of a father or a mother avail much with God. We were very much impressed and encouraged as we read a short time ago the following incident right along this line. Father, mother, read it and be encouraged; pray on; God is faithful; He will answer.
The President of the Sunday Breakfast Association, Philadelphia, Mr. Lewis U. Bean, relates the following:
“One Sunday morning, on my arrival at the old church, a gentleman stepped up and said: ‘There is a lady on the platform upstairs, wearing a sealskin coat, who wishes to see you.’ I went up to her. She said: ‘Oh, sir, can’t you help me find my poor lost boy?’ and tears ran down her face. She said he had run away from home three years ago, when about thirteen, and as far as she knew he was a tramp. I said to her: ‘Are you a praying, Christian woman?’ ‘Yes, and a member of the Presbyterian Church.’ ‘How came you here to seek your boy?’ ‘I thought he might be in the congregation.’ After getting the boy’s name, I stepped to the front, and called for him, but no reply came. After two or three inquiries, I went to the lower room, into the overflow meeting, and made the same inquiry, but without response. After standing on the platform a little while, in deep meditation and prayer, I stepped down through one of the narrow aisles, where I never go excepting to see some one or on special business, and about one-third of the way down the aisle I stopped, with my hand under my chin, and thought: ‘It cannot be possible that God will send a poor, broken-hearted Christian mother on a fool’s errand after her boy. Lord, show us where to find the boy.’ Then at my right elbow I saw a young fellow, dirty all over, looking almost like a colored person, and as if he had not had a bath for months, or as if he might have just arrived in the city under a freight car, after many miles’ travel. He said: ‘What did you say the boy’s name was?’ I said, ‘You know his name better than I do; you are the boy.’ He burst into tears, and said: ‘Yes, I am the boy. What are you going to do with me?’ evidencing at once that he had been doing something criminal and expected arrest. He went with me behind a large partition in the back of the room, while I went and beckoned to the mother. I stayed between her and the boy, so that she could not see him until I stepped aside. When the mother discovered the boy, they both made a wild rush for each other and were gathered in each other’s arms. Such a scene of love and affection I never before witnessed. The mother would press him to her bosom, kiss and hug him, and then hold him at arm’s length to be sure that she was not mistaken, while I stood with my head against the partition and big tears ran down my face and dropped to the bare floor. She cried out, ‘Oh, my boy! my boy! Why did you not come home?’ He said, ‘Mother, I didn’t know that you would allow me to come home.’
“We men folks know little or absolutely nothing about a mother’s love for her children, and yet we are told in Scripture that a mother may forget her child, but Christ never forgets His children. After breakfast the mother took her boy home. Some time afterward one of the cleanest, brightest, nicest young men came to me and asked me if I remembered about that boy. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I do.’ ‘I am the boy,’ he said. ‘You cannot be the boy,’ said I. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I am in business in our little town, living with mother. I joined the church, and I am teaching a Sunday School class.’ I gave a shout: ‘Amen! praise the Lord!’ Will any one who doubts the efficacy of prayer please tell us how it came that this mother came to the Sunday Breakfast Association that Sunday morning, never having been there before in her life, and that this boy should have arrived from the far west about two o’clock that Sunday morning, having ridden underneath coal and freight cars all the way?”
In the Spring of 1812 it pleased God to visit Cudworth with a gracious revival of His work in answer to the prayers of His people. Several persons were awakened and converted, and, among others, a cousin of John Smith. On Sunday, April 5th, of that year, John, with one of his companions, came over from Barnsley to Cudworth. He there saw what had been done for others, and his mind was much affected. In the course of the day his pious mother conversed with him at large on his miserable condition; and, when he was about to return, she said to him: “You are wandering about in search of happiness, but you will never find it till you turn to God.” Her conversation produced so powerful an effect on him, that he abruptly left her, lest she should notice his emotion. He and his companion had not proceeded far on their journey home before Smith suddenly stopped, and, with a deep groan, and a gesture expressive of strong determination, exclaimed: “I am resolved to lead a new life.” As soon as he had uttered this resolution, he felt a measure of satisfaction to which he had before been an entire stranger; and he immediately proposed to return, and attend the prayer-meeting which was that evening to be held at Cudworth. When he arrived at the chapel, the meeting had begun. He entered, however, and almost instantly the agitation of his mind became uncontrollable. He cried aloud and besought the friends to pray for him. The meeting closed, but he obtained no relief. Several others who were in distress accompanied him to his father’s house, where another meeting commenced. Mr. Smith, the father, had been out on the circuit filling an appointment. His feelings may be imagined when on entering his home the first objects which presented themselves were two of his children, in deep agony of soul crying unto God for mercy. One of them was the prodigal upon whom he had expended so many tears and prayers, and for whom he had undergone such deep anxiety. God answers the prayers of the distressed youth that night, and brought him into glorious liberty, filling his heart with peace and joy in believing. The next day he was again brought into bondage by giving way for a moment to the hastiness of his temper, and for awhile he walked in great darkness and disquiet. He was encouraged, however, by the advice and intercession of some Christian friends, again to trust in the atonement of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit once more returned to his soul. From that time, there is reason to believe, to the day of his death, he walked uninterruptedly in the light of God’s countenance.
Perhaps these pages may fall into the hands of some pious parent, who has to mourn over the irreligion of a dear child. To such the conversion of John Smith ought to be a source of the highest encouragement. No condition, surely, can be marked by a more obvious alienation from the spirit and practice of Christianity, than that in which the mercy of God found him. In his case, there is the strongest illustration of the honor which the Almighty will put upon the Labors of godly parents. The Holy Spirit is the Giver of pious and compunctious recollections. Christ expressly promised that the Comforter should recall to the minds of the disciples whatsoever He had declared to them during His personal ministry. (John 14:26.) The instructions of pious parents are treasured up in the secret cells of memory, hidden, it is true, for a time, and perhaps supposed to be forgotten. But the time will come, when the energy of the Spirit will quicken them, and they shall stand forth in the sudden broad light of Heaven, endued with accumulated power to astonish and confound the heart of the careless and ungodly child. It may be in the hour of sickness, or in some other time of darkness; it may be when shame and want shall have driven away the companions of his dissipation. He may be far from the influence and example of his Christian instructors. He may have hardened his heart and stiffened his neck, and given himself to the companionship of the infidel and scoffer, but there is no condition so remote from piety, as not to be within reach of the mercy of God, and He has promised His Spirit to the seed of Jacob, and His blessing to the children of His servants. Isa. 44:3.