383) A Few Old Stories

From The Clergy of America: Anecdotes, 1869, J. B. Lippincott Publishers, Philadelphia

     A young man who had graduated at one of the first colleges in America, and was celebrated for his knowledge of mathematics, settled in a village where a faithful minister of the Gospel was stationed.  It was not long before the clergyman met with him in one of his evening walks, and after some conversation, as they were about to part, addressed him as follows:  “I have heard you are celebrated for your mathematical skill.  I have a problem which I wish you to solve.”  “What is it?,” eagerly inquired the young man.  The clergyman answered with a solemn tone of voice, “What will it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

     The youth returned home and endeavored to shake off the impression fastened on him by the problem proposed to him, but in vain.  In the giddy round of pleasure, in his business, and in his studies, that question still forcibly returned to him, “What will it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  It finally resulted in his conversion, and he became an able advocate and preacher of that Gospel which he once rejected.  (p. 27-28)

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     A minister was once speaking to a brother clergyman of his gratitude for a merciful deliverance he had just experienced.  “As I was riding here today,” he said, “my horse stumbled, and came very near throwing me from a bridge, where the fall would have killed me; but I escaped unhurt.”

     “I can tell you something more than that,” said the other; “as I rode here today, my horse did not stumble at all.”

     We are too apt to forget the common, everyday mercies.  (p. 231)

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     Such was the perseverance of this holy man in his great work, that on the day of his death in his eightieth year, the “Apostle of the Indians” was found teaching the alphabet to an Indian child at his bedside.  “Why not rest from your labors now?” said a friend.  “Because,” said the venerable man, “I have prayed to God to render me useful in my sphere; and now that I can no longer preach, he leaves me strength enough to teach this poor child his alphabet.”  (p. 180)

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     The ministry of Rev. Cross was with the American Tract Society.  While visiting house to house with a church elder, they came to the hut of a coal-digger.  “We will not go into that house,” said the elder, “the man is so wicked it would be of no use.”  Rev. Cross maintained that such were the very men he was sent to.  They entered the hut, which indicated great poverty within and without, and found sitting on a broken bench in the corner, a large athletic man, nearly naked.  He had remained unwashed so long, that the coal-dust lay like scales all over his body.  The face of his wife was black and swollen with bruises which he had given her, and his own countenance was very fierce.

     “We have come,” said Rev. Cross, “to sell you some good religious books, and to have some conversation with you on the subject of religion.”

     “I have no money, sir,” he said, “and I don’t want any of your books.”

     “If you have no money,” said Rev. Cross, “you may have the books at no cost.  You have a soul, and you must die.  You are not prepared to die now, are you, friend?”  His eye, which had been fixed with a savage glare upon him until this question, lowered a little, and began to soften, and he replied that he was not ready to die.  Before Rev. Cross left, the coal-digger wept like a child, and told him that he was the first man who had ever come there to talk with him about his soul.  (p. 187)

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     A Mrs. D., whom Rev. Case baptized in Charleston, Maine, in 1811, when but a young lady, was one of a party who rode out on a sleigh, drawn by two horses, on the river from Hampden to Bangor.  The ice gave way, and she, with her companions, was plunged beneath the water.  She felt that she was within a few moments of an eternal world, without being prepared for so great a change.

     Happily, the lives of all were saved.  During the immersion, her soul, by the instantaneous and powerful work of the Holy Spirit, was converted to God.  In the rapid progress of thought and feeling in this short moment, a most vivid and impressive thought of death filled her mind; and this was instantly succeeded by an overwhelming consciousness of her sins, her guilt, and her just condemnation.  And then, in a moment, every energy of her soul seemed concentrated in one unyielding desire for God’s mercy.  At this instant, those who escaped from the water drew her out, and her soul was filled with love for Jesus, and she praised his name.  She said that she had hardly thought about her life being saved, but with unutterable astonishment and gratitude she beheld that glorious grace which gave her heavenly delight.  This was no delusion.  Her subsequent life of piety gave evidence of its reality.  (p. 411)

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Matthew 16:26  —  (Jesus said), “What will it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Hebrews 9:27  —  …It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that to face judgment.

Mark 1:15  —  “The time is come,” Jesus said.  “The Kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news.”

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A MORNING PRAYER:

Lord, I shall be very busy this day.
I may forget Thee, but do not forget me.

–Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1652) on October 23, 1652 before the battle of Edgehill in the English Civil War.