Witnesses for God
BEING TRUE TO GOD WON
An eminent preacher relates the following: “There was once a young man who had begun to pray, and his father knew it. He said to him, ‘John, you know I am an enemy to religion, and prayer is a thing that never shall be offered in my house.’ Still the young man continued in earnest supplication. ‘Well,’ said the father one day, in a hot passion, ‘you must give up either God or me. I solemnly swear that you shall never darken the threshold of my door again unless you decide that you will give up praying. I give you till tomorrow morning to choose.’ The night was spent in prayer by the young disciple. He arose in the morning, sad to be cast away by his friends, but resolved in spirit that, come what might, he would serve his God. The father abruptly accosted him: ‘Well, what is the answer?’ ‘Father,’ he said, ‘I cannot violate my conscience, I cannot forsake my God.’ ‘Leave immediately!’ said he. And the mother stood there; the father’s hard spirit had made her’s hard, too, and though she might have wept, she concealed her tears. ‘Leave immediately,’ said he. Stepping outside the threshold, the young man said, ‘I wish you would grant me one request before I go; and if you grant me that I will never trouble you again.’ ‘Well,’ said the father, ‘you shall have anything you like, but mark me, you go after you have done that; you shall never have anything again.’ ‘It is,’ said the son, ‘that you and mother would kneel down and let me pray for you before I go.’ Well, they could hardly object to it; the young man was on his knees in a moment, and began to pray with such unction and power, with such evident love for their souls, with such true and saving earnestness, that they both fell flat on the ground, and when the sun rose, there they were, and the father, filled with mercy from on high, said, ‘You need not go: come and stop, come and stop,’ and it was not long before not only he, but the whole of them, began to pray, and they were united to a Christian church.”
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The “Christian Index” utters this wise saying: “A wise man when he is doing his duty never knows how much he is doing. And when a man is doing wrong he never knows how much he is doing.” This truth is illustrated by the experience of every thoughtful Christian and every sobered sinner. Apparent failures are often monumental successes. Livingstone, dying in a negro’s hut; Bunyan, lying in Bedford jail; Elijah, fainting under the juniper tree; Christ stretched on the cross of Calvary — were efficiently carrying out the work of God and glorifying Him in the very “hour and power of darkness” when God seemed to have forsaken them.
I AM A CHRISTIAN
The following poem on the death of Mrs. C. C. Van Deusen, who was burned to death in a recent railroad wreck, was written for the Chicago Inter-Ocean, by Elisa Allison Park. It was read by Rev. Geo. B. Kulp in his memorial sermon yesterday morning, and we republish the same at the request of many who wish to peruse it:
“I am a Christian” — words more strong, of deeper, grander weight, Ne’er were uttered, since the world was made, in face of stubborn fate. Sublimest sort of comfort, gathered in the midst of woe — Let human need take heart of faith and speak them low — “I am a Christian.”
Unfaltering faith, unwavering trust stood guard in that dread hour, Gave strength and courage — filled her soul with Heaven’s majestic power; Men stood appalled, and wept that they could not avert her doom; She spoke, as if to comfort them, from out her very tomb — “I am a Christian.”
Man’s inhumanity, borne in on man, doth direst forfeit take — Doth mar, alas! God’s noble plan, and keenest suffering make; God’s angels hovering round about to give comfort and relief — Give faith, strength. courage to the soul to utter its belief — “I am a Christian.”
On wings of prayer borne upward till circling the Great White Throne, God’s listening ear, in kindness bent to catch earth’s faintest tone, Hears echoing spheres take up the cry and waft it on through space — Immortal song on mortal lips, proclaiming all God’s grace — “I am a Christian.”
Divine assurance, calm and firm, a loving message sweet — Brave testimony uttered when Red Death stood there to greet; Ye saints and martyrs in whose wake this sainted spirit trod, Make way and list’ her martyr-song ascending up to God — “I am a Christian.”
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Suddenly a shout was borne across the waters. The “Trenton” was cheering the “Vandalia.” The sound of 450 voices broke upon the air, and was heard above the roar of the tempest. “Three cheers for the ‘Vandalia,’ was the cry that warmed the hearts of the dying men in the rigging. The shout died away upon the storm, and there arose from the quivering masts of the sunken ship a response so feeble that it was scarcely heard upon the shore. The men, who felt they were looking death in the face, aroused themselves to an effort and united in a faint cheer for the flagship. Those who were standing on the shore listened in silence, for that feeble cry was the saddest they had ever heard. Every heart was melted to pity. “God help them,” was passed from one man to another. The sound of music came across the water.
The “Trenton” band was playing the “Star Spangled Banner.” The thousand men on sea and shore had never before heard the strains of music at such a time as this. An indescribable feeling came over the hundred Americans on the beach who listened to the notes of the national anthem mingled with the howl of the storm.
For a Christian to confess his relation to Christ before men boldly is safer, as well as more becoming, than to attempt to conceal it. Dr. George F. Pentecost says that the next morning after he gave his heart to God he went to the office where he was engaged in the study of law. In the hurry and confusion of getting certain papers ready for the Court, an ink-bottle was overturned on the open pages of a Court book. His old temptation to use profane language arose, but remembering what he had done the night before he found grace to overcome. He got the papers ready, sat down and cut the ink-stained pages out of the book and rewrote them. Others in the office looked on with surprise, and one of them said, “Well, you do take that cool,” while the head clerk drew his spectacles down over his nose and offered to wager that Pentecost had attended the revival meeting the night before. Then came the crisis, and the young man answered: “Yes, gentlemen, I was there, and you who know me best know what need I had to go.” The old clerk, an ex-judge, said: “Young man, that is right; I wish I had had the strength to do as you have done when I was young.” Such a crisis comes to everyone who becomes a Christian. The temptation to deny Christ before men will arise. He who yields in the slightest degree will sustain an incalculable loss. Happy the man who is not ashamed of Christ. Sinners will respect, even though they may oppose him, and he will secure an immense advantage for the spiritual contests yet to come.
DOING GOOD TO ENEMIES
The horse of a pious man living in Massachusetts happening to stray to the road, a neighbor of the man who owned the horse put him into the pound. Meeting the owner soon after, he told him what he had done; “and if I catch him in the road again,” said he, “I’ll do it again.” “Neighbor,” replied the other, “not long since I looked out of my window in the night, and saw your cattle in my meadow, and I drove them out and shut them in your yard; and if I again find them there I’ll do it again.” Struck with the reply, the man liberated the horse from the pound and paid the charges himself. “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
IF MEAT MAKE MY BROTHER TO OFFEND
Several legal gentlemen, passing from place to place to attend court, amused themselves by playing cards on the train. Absorbed in the game, they did not notice that they were closely watched by a woman sitting near. She seemed to struggle for some time to suppress her emotions; but at last, as if unable to do so longer, she rose and approached them. Recognizing them as judge and attorneys in the court of the town they had just left, she introduced herself as the mother of the young man who had the day previous been sentenced to the State Prison for burglary. With show of deep emotion, she admitted the guilt of her son and the justice of the sentence. “But, O Judge,” said she, “knowing that his ruin and my sorrow all came about through playing these”– pointing to the cards — “it does seem too bad for you to be playing with them here.” Then she proceeded to tell of her son’s downward course; from the time when he first learned to play, till he began to stay out at night and be seen in disreputable company. Then, with the excuse that he needed a little money, selling some item from the farm; finally persuading her to dispose of the farm and move to the village; then rapidly gambling away the proceeds till he brought destitution to her, and involved himself in the crime for which he was imprisoned.
— Dr. DeMotte.
An incident in the life of Dr. Wilbur Fisk, related to me by his widow this morning, is a fine illustration of the power of a good man’s example, as well as of the Doctor’s wonderful influence on all minds in the circles where he moved. He was elected Chaplain of the Middletown Artillery Company, and served some time in that capacity. On his retirement a dinner was tendered him by the Company. According to the custom of the times, there was a bottle of brandy on every plate, but not a cork was drawn during the dinner. As they arose from the table, Dr. Fisk said to the Captain, “Sir, your guns are well loaded, but not a shot has been fired.” “Yes, Doctor,” said the Captain, “and it is all out of respect to yourself. It is a pleasure on such an occasion to defer to your sentiments.” When Dr. Fisk died, the Company begged the privilege of being pall-bearers and escort in citizen’s dress at his funeral.
DRAWING AN AUDIENC
Awhile ago we read a fragment from the history of General Lee, the brilliant general of the Confederate Army, which affords a suggestive lesson. He was stopping at a certain watering-place over Sunday. During the day it was announced that a Methodist preacher was in the place, and would hold a preaching service at three o’clock in the dancing hall. Before the hour for service, the General, himself a devout member of the Protestant Episcopal church, passed around among the cottages and talked up a congregation. Whenever he could spy a person, he went up to him, and said: “We are going to have divine service in the hall at three; will not you be kind enough to join us?” In most cases the simple invitation was accepted, and scores were led to hear the Gospel who would never have thought of such a thing but for the General’s call.
THE GREAT FOUNTAIN
An aged gentleman was on a visit to one of the noted American watering-places. Whilst taking a draught of water one morning at the spring, a lady came up to take her usual glass at the same time. The gentleman, turning towards her in a pleasant yet thoughtful manner, asked: “Have you ever drunk at that Great Fountain?”
The lady colored and looked surprised, but turned away without a word of reply.
In the following winter the gentleman was in Rochester, when he was invited to attend a meeting for religious conference and prayer. At the close of the meeting he was asked to visit a lady who was dying. As he entered the sickroom, the lady fixed her eyes very intently upon the gentleman, and said with a smile: “Do you know me?”
“No; are we not strangers to each other?” was the reply.
“Do you not recollect asking a woman at the Springs last year: ‘Have you ever drunk at that Great Fountain?'”
“Yes,” said the gentleman, “I do remember.”
“Well, sir, I am that person. I thought at the time you were very rude; but your words kept ringing in my ears. They followed me to my chamber, to my pillow. I was without peace or rest till I found Christ. I now expect shortly to die, and you, under God, were instrumentally the means of my salvation. Be as faithful to others as you have been to me. Never be afraid to talk to strangers on the subject of religion.”
What a blessing was granted on this short but faithful word! Little do Christians know how God may own His Truth. Let us faithfully scatter the precious seed, and He will give the increase.
CONCEALED HIS IDENTITY
“You’ll have a hard time of it up there, John, after those lumber men find out you are a Christian. They’re a hard set, and they’ll make it very trying for you. You will need a good deal of grace while you’re up there.”
After he got home again, his friend said:
“Well. how was it, John? Didn’t you find it just like I told you? What did those fellows do after they found out about your being a Christian?”
“Found out?” said John. “Found out that I was a. Christian? Why, they never mistrusted that I was!”
Brethren, there is too much of that. Too much of that. Let your light shine wherever you go.
HOW FAITHFULNESS WON A SOUL
T___ was an only child, and had been reared in a Christian home. He had early accepted Christ, and had entered the Church. When he was about sixteen or seventeen, he went away from home to enter college. At the boarding-house where he was to stay, there were several other young men, most of whom were older than himself. Only two of these were Christians. As the company gathered about the tea-table, on the first day of the term, the landlady said: “Mr. T___, will you return thanks?”
T___ blushed. He was a timid boy, and he was conscious that every eye was upon him. But he bent his head, and tremblingly returned thanks to God.
That night he could not sleep. “I’m in for it!” he said to himself. “I’ll be called on every meal this term, and blush and stammer as I did tonight. I’m almost sure that brainy H___ was disgusted. And yet, it surely would not be the manly thing to refuse. A Christian who won’t stand by his colors isn’t half a Christian. No, if she keeps on asking me, I’ll do it every time.”
The landlady did “keep on asking,” and at length T___ overcame his embarrassment and performed the service with no thought of these who sat by. About the middle of the term, to his utter surprise, H___, who had been regarded as either careless or skeptical, confessed Christ and was baptized.
“Do you want to know what set me thinking seriously upon the subject of religion?” asked H___ of T___. “I’ll tell you. The first night you were here, you were called on to give thanks. I could see that it was an awfully hard thing for you to do, and that it cost you a struggle. I said to myself that the religion that would give a shy little fellow like you pluck enough for a thing of that kind, was worth having. I’ve been watching you ever since, T___, and even when you didn’t know it at all, you have been influencing me. Under God, I owe my conversion to you.”
This little incident is a true one, and its sequel is well worth telling. H___ is now all earnest preacher of the Gospel. T___ is a wealthy business man, who gives his thousands to the cause of Christ. And those who have heard this story of his boyhood can understand why he is so careful, in every seemingly unimportant act of his life, to honor his divine Master.
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We have been reading about a Sunday School teacher who called on a scholar to read the third verse of the sixth chapter of Daniel, from which the lesson was taken. The verse reads: “Then this Daniel was preferred before the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king sought to set him over the whole realm.” The scholar, not being the best reader in the school, gave a slightly revised version of the text as follows: “Then this Daniel was preferred before the presidents and princes, because an excellent spine was in him.” An excellent spine was an extra good thing in the olden days, and its usefulness has by no means passed away.
LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE
A captain of a vessel, who was a professor of religion, once received a rebuke from a black man, which will bear repeating. The black man had long been acquainted with him, generally helping him to load his vessel. In the course of conversation one day, the captain accidentally remarked that he was a Christian! “You a Christian,” said the darky in astonishment. “Laws a mighty, massa, I’d never found it out in the world if you hadn’t told me!” It is to be feared that this is not a solitary case.
A GENERAL WITH TRUE COURAG
EGeneral Howard is an active and fearless Christian, as well as a brave and valiant soldier. During his residence in San Francisco he might be found in the church on the Sabbath and at the prayer-meetings with exemplary regularity. The writer of this heard him deliver an admirable address to a crowded congregation in Howard Street Methodist Episcopal Church, San Francisco, on the evening of Children’s Day, two years ago. At the close of the address a gentleman in the audience asked permission to speak. Ascending the pulpit, he said: “The magic influence of the name of the last speaker has induced me to ask the privilege of saying a word. Twenty-four years ago the battle of Fredericksburg was fought, and twelve thousand brave boys went down. I lay on the field that night supposed to be mortally wounded. During a lucid interval I recognized one coming and kneeling down beside me and offering prayer. He then spoke words of religious counsel and instruction, and said: ‘Cheer up, my boy; I hope you will get well,’ and throwing back the cape of his overcoat he tapped his empty sleeve and said: ‘I have given this right arm for the old flag, and, if need be, I am ready to give my life also.’ Having prayed and thus spoken, he went on to perform like Christian ministries for others who were in a similar case. I had been a wild young man; but on that awful night, when I had no hope that I should ever see the face of my mother, or hear the familiar voices of kindred again, I was conscious of a longing to have some one pray with me and counsel me. That prayer and those words of Christian counsel led me to Christ and into the Christian ministry; and since that night I have not seen the face of General Howard until this hour. Do you wonder that I say, ‘God bless the general who had courage to pray’?” The speaker proved to be the Rev. T. C. Warner, a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, who the day before had been elected Chaplain of the Grand Army of the Republic.
MY MOTHER’S GOD
At a fashionable party a young physician present spoke of one of his patients whose case he considered a very critical one. He said he was “very sorry to lose him, for he was a noble young man, but very unnecessarily concerned about his soul, and the Christians increased his agitations by talking with him and praying with him. He wished Christians would let his patients alone. Death was but an endless sleep, the religion of Christ a delusion, and its followers were not persons of the highest culture and intelligence.”
A young lady sitting near, and one of the gayest of the company, said, “Pardon me, doctor, but I cannot hear you talk thus and remain silent. I am not a professor of religion; I never knew anything about it experimentally; but my mother was a Christian. Times without number she has taken me to her room, and with her hand upon my head she has prayed that God would give her grace to train me for the skies. Two years ago my precious mother died, and the religion she so loved during life sustained her in her dying hour. She called us to the bedside, and with her face shining with glory, asked us to meet her in Heaven, and I promised to do so. And now,” said the young lady, displaying deep emotion, “can I believe that this is all a delusion? that my mother sleeps an eternal sleep? that she will never waken again in the morning of the resurrection, and that I shall see her no more? No, I cannot, I will not believe it.” Her brother tried to quiet her, for by this time she had the attention of all present. “No,” said she, “brother, let me alone; I must defend my mother’s God, my mother’s religion.”
The physician made no reply, and soon left the room. He was found shortly afterwards pacing the floor of an adjoining room in great agitation and distress of spirit. “What is the matter?” a friend inquired. “Oh,” said he, “that young lady is right. Her words have pierced my soul.” And the result of the conviction thus awakened was that both the young lady and the physician were converted to Christ, and are useful and influential members of the Church of God.
Young friends, stand up for Jesus at all times and in all places wherever you hear His name reviled, or His counsel set at nought. Rather let the language of your heart be, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
EFFECT OF A RELIGIOUS SONG
A bridal party traveling on a railroad train annoyed their fellow-passengers by card-playing and boisterous mirthfulness. The train stopping at a station for some time, and the card-playing continuing, an elderly gentleman who had been walking to-and-fro through the car, took a small book from his pocket and commenced singing, “Nearer my God to Thee.” After the singing of the hymn had progressed some time, a number of the passengers joined in the singing. It was soon noticed that the card party was becoming quite uneasy and was losing interest in the game. Soon the bride, shoving the cards aside, exclaimed, “I can’t play any more — that reminds me of home,” and the cards disappeared from view.
How true is it that the nearer we approach to God, the less we relish such sinful amusements.
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We admire the spirit of the young lady, a member of a Baptist Church in New Jersey, who refused the offer of $1,500 to sing in a Unitarian Church, because she would not lend assistance in that way to those who not only deny the divinity of the Lord, but are teaching others to deny it.
— Western Advocate.