of time, while the arch adversary is busy in our very midst !”

“Now," said he, “ clear these seats again; we are going to have all up here who desire to save their souls and want to be prayed into the kingdom to-night. Brethren and sisters, go forth among the congregation and compel them to come in and sup with us at the marriage-supper of the Lamb."

He then struck up another tune, while certain ones moved among the crowd, and invited them to go forward for prayers.

The leader looked again at Israel and his companion, who did not seem inclined to move. “Young men there, near that middle pillar,” he cried at length, while the singing went on, “Come up here to the altar and get religion to-night. You'll never have a better time than this."

Several now turned and looked at them with an expression of commiseration for their hardness of heart.

“What shall we do?” asked Israel's companion of him, in a low voice. “If we stay out here, they will set us down for burglars or escaped convicts. We shall be branded in the face of all the people, and our characters will be gone forever. Let us escape at the door before it grows worse.”

“No," said Israel. “Let us go forward. It will not hurt us to be prayed for."

“But are you sincere?” asked his friend.

“I am," answered Israel.” “It has just occurred to me that the fault may be in me, and not in them."

They went forward, while the leader cried,

“Hallelujah, two more have decided to go with us in the glorious way, to-night.”

Soon after, the leader knelt, calling upon every soul of them to do likewise, and began to pray for the spirit to come down.

A portion of the prayer was directed in the behalf of those two stranger young men in their midst, especially that one whose proud spirit had refused to kineel when he first caine in among

them. Israel knew that all those people were praying for him. He was not angry. No; the feeling of gratitude began gradually to rise within his heart.

“ These good people are in earnest for the salvation of my soul,” he said to himself; “ although I have believed I was a Christian before, I feel now that I am not like these. Perhaps I have been deceived.”

“ Search him, strip him, O Lord !” spoke the leader; “ strip him naked of all his filthy rags of selfrighteousness and put on him a clean white robe.”

At this juncture, a clear, sweet voice commenced to sing something about “palms of victory” and “white robes," "clean robes," and the prayers ceased, though all remained on their knees.

Tears filled Israel's eyes. “ Surely,” thought he, “they are unselfish to take so much heed for an entire stranger. This must be, truly, an apostolical faith and practice as new to me as it is beautiful.”

Now some one bentover him and whispered,“Friend, do you

feel better? Have you got religion?” " I don't know," said Israel, “I thought I had sometime ago; but I have not been enough in earnest, I fear.”

[ocr errors]

“ He wishes to feel more the terrible weight of his salvation,” said the leader aloud, and renewed his strong supplication to that effect, until another voice cried out, “I know it is all right with him now. Let us praise God. He has got the victory. Shout, brother!

The audience became seated, and after the singing of another verse, those who felt that they had obtained salvation were requested to rise. Several stood, but Israel was not among

them. “ How is this?” asked the leader, looking at Israel, can you not give God the glory for your salvation? Speak! speak a word for the Master, and tell us what he has done for your soul. If you hold your peace, the spirit may leave you, and you may be silent in the cause forever.”

Israel now arose, and looking down very modestly, said that he felt new convictions of his duty to be a more earnest Christian, such as he never had before. He asked their prayers that the will of the Lord might be made plain to him. His friend looked on him in astonishment, but

silent himself. Many responded fervently Amen,” and “ We will


brother.” Nearly all those who had newly risen “gave in their testimony,” as it was called, what the Lord had done for them — these testimonies being often interspersed with singing.

It may be thought unaccountable that Israel had so soon fallen in with a tide which, at first, he was disposed to resist or undervalue. The contradiction is only apparent. A young man with a naturally


decided religious temperament, possessed with a conviction that somewhere on the earth the divine presence dwelt with a peculiar people, whose local habitation could be named, “ The Lord is here;” such a person, comparatively alone in the world as to kindred and near friends, and disposed to conscientiously discipline himself in a religious way, would easily become affected with the new and strange interest manifested towards him by this fervid, and apparently friendly and humble people. Hitherto, it had not been in his experience to hear the voice of prayer uttered by another in his individual behalf. With the Baptists, he had more than once knelt at their family altar, and no word had gone up for the guest, orphaned and desolate on the threshold of manhood, although they had prayed most kindly for their own beloved ones. The Congregationalists had vouchsafed no such friendly regard as this. Hungering and thirsting after a personal righteousness, he began to have an emotion of partial satisfaction in this new demonstration of strangers towards himself. Although at first he had felt that injustice was done him, yet it was far better for them to think of him, even though the thought was short of what he wished, than not to think of him at all.

“Brother Simond," spoke the leader, when the testimonies from the anxious seat were concluded, “I want you to pray now, and particularly remember our strange brother," looking at Israel, “who so sincerely desires to understand his duty. The Lord has surely sent him among us for his profit to-night. Let us all invoke a special blessing upon him, that he may leave this place, feeling as he never did before. After that, let other of the brethren and sisters pray for all the rest on these seats, that they may be confirmed and strengthened in the faith. Let us all now expect a present blessing."

Brother Simond was unlike some others who had prayed there that night. To the fervor of his religion was added a loving charity, otherwise called by his people "a sweet spirit,” which moved upon the hearts of those of a certain temperament with a remarkable power. He was often called a Christian of the St. John stamp. He leaned much upon the Saviour's bosom, and so caught His heavenly spirit. Low and reverent were his tones, unless the tide of his feeling ran uncommonly strong and high, when he grew not loud, but deep and powerful, like a beautiful and full-flowing river of Faith hastening towards the sea of Infinite Compassion.

He it was who now prayed for Israel, and touched his heart by the might of his spirit as never man had done before. Words of Holy Writ, clothed with the seemingly unlimited power of his friendly soul, were on his lips as if they belonged there. The sword of the spirit accompanied them. They cut Israel to the heart. They transfused his nature into contrition and love. He wept.

Before the exercises of that evening had closed, Israel arose unbidden, and asked leave to speak to the people present.

“Speak, brother, and the Lord fill your heart with His Spirit,” responded the leader.

“I came in hither," said Israel, “without knowing for what intent the Lord led me. I came with gain,

« VorigeDoorgaan »