I had been called to assist in a revival in a beautiful little city up in Virginia. The pastor of the Methodist Church was a most delightful Christian gentleman. If I should mention his name, it would be like ointment poured forth and known throughout the borders of Southern Methodism, and, in many places, around the world. Since then, he has been a very successful and much beloved missionary.

Soon after the beginning of the meeting, my attention was called to a young man in the town, the son of an excellent family who had been successful in business, but had taken to drink. He had gone from bad to worse, his business had failed, a good property had been swept away. At the present time, he was having delirium tremens. Some young men were laboring with him very faithfully. They would take him into the woods, on a creek bank, during the day and keep him there, a fine thing by the way; the deep, silent woods, on the bank of a clear, gurgling creek, is a place for calm thought and earnest prayer, -- a good place for a struggling soul to seek after God. These young friends would bring their fighting victim into church at night and sit with him on the back seat. As the days went forward, he improved a bit. He became less violent. He gradually sobered. On the last night of the meeting, they brought him to the altar and he was happily converted. It was a wonderful transformation.

Before his conversion, I had gone up to his cottage to talk and pray with him. His yard gate was off the hinges and his yard rooted up by the pigs. Weather-boarding had been torn off his cottage and it was in great need of repairs and paint. In the house, there were broken chairs and a little dilapidated furniture. His wife, lean and gaunt, in faded dress, sat on a piece of chair with her head down. A little baby sat on the floor with a hard crust in its hand and a swarm of flies about its face. It was a wretched place. The whiskey demon, it seemed, had done his worst.

Some three months afterward, I spent a few days in the same town. I met the pastor in front of his church and after a cordial greeting, he insisted that I should preach in the church on Wednesday evening, which I promised to do. He then said, "Step across the street to that grocery; there is a man there who would like to see you." I went over. A big, handsome, well dressed man rushed from behind the counter, grabbed my hand and squeezed it until the bones ached. He expressed his great joy at seeing me. I confessed that I did not know him. I said he, "I am the fellow that had the snakes in my boots and the monkeys on my bedposts when you were here in your revival meeting. Don't you remember I was converted the last night of the meeting." I did remember at once and we rejoiced together. He said, "I have not had the slightest appetite or desire for whiskey from that night to this time." He said, "You must take supper with me Thursday evening. My wife will be delighted to see you." I was glad to accept his invitation. After preaching in the church on Wednesday evening, many friends came up to greet me, among them a beautiful woman, tastefully dressed, with roses in her cheeks, laughter in her mouth, and tears in her eyes. She said, "I want you to take supper with us Thursday evening." I thanked her, but said to her, "I promised to take supper with my friend, Frank," naming this remarkable convert. She answered in laughter, "I am Frank's wife." I was greatly surprised and a bit displeased. I hardly thought it the proper thing for this new convert to bury the poor wretched looking creature of a wife he had just three months ago and marry this beautiful young woman in so short a time. But on inquiry, I found it was the same woman. The difference was when I saw her the first time, she was the wife of a miserable lost drunkard, jabbering about with delirium tremens. When I saw her three months later, she was the wife of a wonderfully saved man, filled with the joy of the Lord, prosperous and happy in his business.

You may be sure I went up to their house for supper the next evening. The gate was on its hinges, the fence had been repaired, the yard was in good order, the cottage had been mended and painted white as snow. When I entered the house, there was a carpet on the floor, well-arranged furniture, books on the shelves and pictures on the wall. When supper came, there was T-bone steak in plenty and a fat rosy-cheek baby sitting in a high chair without a fly on him. I was profoundly impressed. I renewed my faith and purpose to preach a Christ who is so mighty and so gracious to save.

Back yonder three months ago, at a late hour in the evening, at the altar of the Methodist Church, there had been a new birth. It was the beginning of a new life. Old things had passed away; all things had become new. This new birth and new life is a powerful and irrefutable evidence of the Godhead and saving power of the Lord Jesus. This is an argument that cannot be answered.

Shortly after this visit to old Virginia, I met with one of the distinguished lawyers of old Kentucky, a friend of mine, who was an infidel. We got into a discussion about the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ and His power to save sinners. When I got opportunity I related to him the above incident and he became deeply interested. At the close, I said, "Colonel, all skepticism in all the world has never taken the snakes out of a man's boots, the monkeys off his bedposts, put into him the power of a new life, planted roses in the cheeks of his wife and frightened the flies off of his baby." I said, "Colonel, if I have a lie and you have the truth, my falsehood is worth a million times more to the human race in its sorrow and sin than your truth, for this Gospel that I preach is winning multitudes of lost sinners to Christ, to pardon and peace, to salvation and victory, to happy hearts and joyful homes, while your infidelity is only destroying faith, blighting hope and sending sinners adrift into darkness." I said, "Colonel, I have the truth and you have the falsehood."

He said, "Brother Morrison, if I believed the Bible as you believe it and could preach what you claim to be the Gospel with the faith and joy that you have, I would rather preach the Gospel than to be President of the United States." We took a long walk together. He was one of the handsomest and most eloquent men I ever saw or heard. I said, "Colonel, I love you. You have a great soul, but you are in error and you are in darkness. I am going to pray for you and I hope, through the mercy of God, that sometime in the future, somewhere in the grand galleries of God's universe, I may meet you graciously saved and rejoicing in Jesus."

The great lawyer wept, he pressed my hand and said, "I want you to pray for me." Soon afterward, he died, and in his dying hour, he cried aloud and most earnestly to God for mercy. Who knows but the Christ, whose mighty arms of mercy caught the thief away from the cross to Paradise, may have reached out in answer to prayer and caught this poor man away from the verge of the pit to eternal blessedness?

 

From: REMARKABLE CONVERSIONS, INTERESTING INCIDENTS AND STRIKING ILLUSTRATIONS By Henry Clay Morrison, Herald Press Louisville, Kentucky, 1925

.

 

Index