Imatges de pÓgina
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CHAPTER XX

A Stranger from London.

1853.

LADY in London, reading in the Cornish newspapers about our revivals, became much interested, and having a strong desire to witness such a movement personally, proposed a visit to her uncle in Truro, who had sent her those papers. Being accepted, she came down—a long way in those days, when railway communication was not so complete as it is now.

This same lady was present at my church on Sunday morning; and expressing a wish to attend the afternoon service, we gladly welcomed her to the parsonage. In course of conversation, she spoke of churches in London where the Gospel was preached in its fulness; and I naturally asked her whether they had "after-meetings." She said, she did not know what I meant.

"Prayer-meetings, for conversion work, I mean."

"What is that?" she inquired. "Is not conversion God's work?”

"Yes," I answered, "indeed it is; but so is the harvest yonder in the corn-fields: it is all God's work, but men have to plough the ground and sow the seed."

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"Oh, is that what you call revival work? I have read

of it; and, to tell the truth, I have come all the way from London to see it."

She evidently had an idea that revivals were something like thunder-storms, which come of themselves, no one knows how or why; or something that is vented, like an occasional eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

I said, "Revivals-that is, the refreshening of believers and the awakening of sinners-ought to take place wherever the Gospel is preached in faith and power."

She could not understand it, and said, "It is not so in churches, is it?"

"Yes," I replied, "in churches as well as in cottages, halls, and chapels too." "I am sure Mr. in London preaches a full Gospel, but I have never heard of a revival there; indeed, I feel convinced they would not allow it."

"Is he converted?" I asked.

She smiled at the question, and said, "I suppose he is." "I mean, does he preach about the forgiveness of sins? and, more than this, does he expect people to have forgiveness ? "

She said she could not understand my Cornish way of talking-"They do not speak like that in London."

"Your sins are pardoned," I said, by way of explanation, in order to get her to comprehend my meaning from her . own experience. "Your sins are pardoned." She got very confused. "You know," I continued, "that it is a happy day when Jesus takes our sins away." This only made matters worse. She became greatly embarrassed. While we spoke of London and Gospel preaching she was free enough; but the moment I made a personal application of the subject, she was altogether bewildered.

At last, with a kind of forced effort, she said, "I have been a child of God for eleven years."

"Thank God!" I said, much relieved; "that is what I

THE LADY FROM LONDON.

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mean. You have been converted and pardoned for eleven years. It is all right, then. I did not intend to perplex you, and am sorry I did not convey my meaning in a better manner."

But I could not smooth down her ruffled feathers so easily, and was glad when the five minutes' bell began ringing to summon us to church. We got ready, and went. It happened to be a children's service, and our subject that afternoon was Joseph's reconciliation with his brethren. Three questions, among others, were asked and dwelt upon.

First, "Was Joseph reconciled with his brethren while they were self-convicted before him, and condemned themselves as verily guilty concerning their brother?""No."

Second, "Was he reconciled when he feasted with them, and made merry ?"—"No."

Third, "When, then, was he reconciled?"—" When they surrendered themselves, and all the eleven were prostrate at his feet, like the eleven sheaves which bowed to Joseph's sheaf in the harvest field; then he made himself known to them, and forgave them. It is not when a soul is under condemnation, nor yet when it is happy, that it is saved; but when it is actually, once for all, surrendered to Christ for salvation, then it is He makes himself known to them, even as Joseph did to his brethren."

The lady went away. I did not ascertain who she was,

nor where she came from; I was not much taken with her, nor was she with me. Hers was evidently a kind of religion which I had not met with before, and did not care to meet with again.

The next day I went for a few hours' rest and change to the sea-side at Perran, but there was a burden of prayer on my soul. I could not thank God for that unknown lady, but I could pray for mercy for her. The impression on my

mind was very clear: I felt that she was not saved. The day following the burden was heavier still, and I was on my knees praying for her for several hours in the day. In the evening I was quite in distress. The next day I was most anxious for her, and could do nothing but pray, even with tears. This lasted till the following day (Thursday), when I happened to go into the drawing-room for something, and there I observed a strange Bible lying on the table. I remembered that I had seen that same book in the lady's hand on Sunday. I took it up, and saw a name, and on making inquiry of the servants I found out that she came in Mr.'s carriage on Sunday.

This was enough. I wrote a note immediately, and sent the Bible, saying that I was greatly burdened for her soul, and should much like to see her. She sent me a kind letter in reply, appointing the following Monday for my visit.

On that day I called, and found her very kind, and seemingly thankful for the interest I expressed in her welfare. I said that she had nothing really to thank me for, for I could not help myself; the burden had been laid upon me. Then I asked her if she would tell me how she became a child of God.

She did so readily, and told me that once she was in the world, and as fond of dancing and pleasure as others with whom she associated; that in the midst of her gaiety she was called to the death-bed of a cousin, who was just such a lover of pleasure as herself. Her cousin said, "Oh, Mary, give up the world for my sake. I am lost! Oh, Mary, give it up!" Soon she died, poor girl, just awakened enough to see and feel herself hopelessly lost-a dying worldling. No one was near to point her to the Saviour, so she departed as she had liked to live, without salvation. Mary wept at the remembrance of that solemn scene, and said she could never forget it.

A "ZEAL FOR GOD."

"Well," I said, "and what did you do then?" She answered firmly, "I knelt down then and there, by the side of the bed where my poor cousin had just died, and I called God to witness that I would give up the world. I did so; and have never had any inclination to go back into its gaieties and pleasures since. I began from that time to pray, and read my Bible, and go to church; and I love these things now better than I did the things of the world before."

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At the time of this change, she was led to a church where Evangelical truth was preached simply and plainly; and thus became distinctly enlightened as to the way of salvation. She fully assented and consented to what she heard, and therefore became a very earnest disciple, enthusiastic about the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace, and all such matters. She understood the meaning of the Levitical types and offerings; could speak of dispensational truth and prophecy; was very zealous about missions to the heathen, and was also earnestly devoted to many charitable works at home.

There was, however, one little suspicious thing in the midst of all this manifest goodness. She had not much patience with elementary Gospel sermons, or much interest in, or sympathy with, efforts made to bring in perishing souls; she loved rather to be fed with high doctrines, and the mysteries of grace with its deeper teachings. There are some men who love to preach exclusively about these things, even before mixed congregations, addressing them as if they were all real Christians.

It is surprising how many people there are just like Mary, who seem to care more for doctrines than for God Himself-more for favourite truths than for souls. A simple elementary Gospel address, with some clear illustrations, was just the very thing which Mary wanted for her own

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