PRAYING FOR A BIBLE.
"For a long while it has been my habit to be entirely guided for the day by the first verse in the Bible on which my eyes rested. While dressing for the day, I glance at the open page, or sometimes turning over the leaves. But my old Bible was poor print and small, and it troubled me for a long while. So I thought I would ask the Lord to send me a new one. I told Him all about it. One day, this Summer, the postman brought me a package of magazines and a letter. I began to undo the package, eager to scan their welcome pages. My sister laughingly said she would read my letter, and suiting the action to the word, opened the envelope. I really did not mind what she was doing, until she said: 'Why there is some money here, but no letter.' So she handed me the half sheet of paper, with the money folded inside. I looked it over, and there were only these words in pencil: 'For a Bible, and three dollars.' We looked at each other; I could not say a word, until she said, 'What does it all mean? 'I answered, 'The Lord sent it, I know; where could it come from?' It was wonderful -- wonderful because I could not remember as I ever told any one that I was praying for a Bible."
A SPRING MATTRESS.
"Last Summer, when I bought my bedstead, I did not have money to get either springs or a mattress, so I fixed up a clean, straw bed, and covered it nicely with a thick comfortable. It was pretty hard -- I did not rest well. So, one sleepless night, I said aloud, 'I will just ask the Lord to send me a set of springs.' I kept on day by day. When I felt the severe pain which denoted illness, I thought of my hard bed and prayed more earnest. One day my physician spoke of my hard bed. I told him I was going to have a better one; I was praying for some springs. And so I kept on. One day, a lady friend said something about my bed. I did not say much. Somehow I felt I must not; I wanted to have it all the Lord's doings, if I ever had any. One day my sister said a man was at the door, who wanted to fit a set of springs to my bed. Why, I can't tell how I felt; even after God had answered my simple prayers, and honored my faith so many times, I was astonished at this. But she helped me up, and the bed was fitted with nice, new springs. And they were mine. The man could not tell anything about them. My sister says, 'Annie, did you order them?' I said, 'No.' 'Don't you know who sent them?' I said, 'No.' 'Did you ask Mrs. W -- -- to order them?' I said, 'I did not; I would lay here six years before I would do it. No, somebody had a hand in it, but the Lord sent them, because I prayed for them all the time.' A friend was present when my physician called. I told him about the new springs. His kind face lit up grandly at this new evidence that God did answer humble, faithful prayer, and he turned to my friend with the words: 'I am glad they were just what she has been praying for.' I do not think he had anything to do about them. But these springs are only another proof of his love and power, in touching the hearts of his children to help others. And they have their reward. Soon after this, a lady sent me a white spread for my bed. Surely, God is good to his little ones."
THE HEALING OF MARY THEOBALD.
The following incident is related by her pastor, at Woburn, Mass., who, for three and a half years, was well acquainted with her physical condition, and who testified, in The Congregationalist, that no medicine, or physician's aid or advice, was of any avail:
"From the first of my acquaintance to the last, she had an unswerving confidence in her recovery. Many times has she said to me: 'I believe that I shall be well. Jesus will raise me up. I shall hear you preach some day.'
"But, in common with the friends who were watching her case, and with the physicians who had exhausted their skill upon her in vain, I had little or no hope for her. It seemed to me that her life was to be one of suffering; that God was keeping her with us that we might have a heroic example of what His grace could enable one to bear and to become.
"A few days ago, I received from her lips the following statement of the origin and progress of her sickness: 'My first sickness occurred when I was about sixteen years old. This illness lasted for a year. Indeed, I was never well again. That sickness left me with a bad humor, which, for two years, kept me covered with boils. When the boils disappeared, the trouble was internal. Physicians feared a cancer. For ten years, I was sick, more or less -- sometimes able to work, sometimes utterly prostrate.
"'My second severe illness began in the Autumn of 1871. I had been failing for two years. Then I was obliged to give up. I was on the bed five months. From this illness I never recovered so as to labor or walk abroad. When not confined to my bed, I have been on the lounge, as you have known me. No one can ever know the suffering which these years have brought me.'
"My acquaintance with her began in the Spring of 1873. Several times since I have known her, she has been carried so low that we have thought her release near at hand; and, indeed, the general tendency has been downwards. I recently asked an intelligent physician, who had attended her for a year or more, to give me the facts in her case. He replied: 'She is diseased throughout. Her system is thoroughly soured. It responds to nothing. Almost every function is abnormal. There is no help for her in medicine.' Other physicians had tried their skill with the same result. It was generally admitted by doctors, friends and family, that nothing more could be done for her. While all saw only suffering and an early death in store for her, yet she confidently expected to be well, and her faith never waned.
"It was her custom to spend a few weeks each year in the family of one of the sisters in the church. At her last visit, it was evident to this lady that Mary was not so well as in former years. One day, when conversation turned upon this topic, she felt constrained to express her fears. But Mary was hopeful. A proposition was made, and arrangements were perfected to visit Doctor Cullis, to secure the benefit of his prayers. But her feebleness was so great that the plan was abandoned. 'If,' said Mrs. F., 'faith is to cure you, why go to Doctor Cullis, or to any one? Let us go to God ourselves; and, Mary, if you have faith that God can and will cure you sometime, why not believe that He will cure you now?'
"She felt herself cast on God alone. All hope of human help was at an end. She had thought it, hitherto, enough patiently to wait His time. She saw that, after all, she must not dishonor God by limiting His power. Again her Bible opened to the familiar passages, 'the prayer of faith shall save the sick;' 'according to your faith be it unto you.' She felt that the time for testing her faith had come. She would dishonor the Lord no longer. Requesting the prayers of the family that God would now grant healing and restoration, she tottered to her couch, and, asking that in the morning she might be well, calmly closed her eyes in the assurance that it would be so. And according to her faith, so it was. She came forth in the morning without a remnant of the pain which had filled a decade of years with agony. That Sabbath was to her, indeed, 'a high day.' A week later the frequent prophecy that she should hear me preach was fulfilled.
"Not a vestige of suffering remained. So far as that is concerned, there was not a hint left that she had been an invalid for almost a score of years.
"She immediately took her place in the family as a well person. Two days after, I saw her. She came to meet me with a step light and strong, and with a face written all over with thankfulness and joy. Since that time all the abandoned duties of active life have been resumed. When last I saw her, she was in bounding health and spirits, declaring that she could not remember when she had felt so happy and well. That night -- one of the coldest of the winter, the roads at their iciest -- she walked more than half a mile to and from the prayer-meeting.
It is difficult for those who are not conversant with the case to believe it, yet there is no illusion in it. That she went to sleep a suffering, feeble, shattered woman, and, awoke free from pain, and that she has been gaining in strength ever since, are facts that cannot be doubted."
HOW PRAYER HELPED HIM TO KEEP THE PLEDGE.
In a rural district, in the North of England, lived a shoe-maker who had signed the temperance pledge often, but never had strength to keep it. After a while, he was able to keep it, and reformed entirely. A friend was curious to learn how he had been able, at last, to win the victory, and went to see him.
"Well, William, how are you?"
"Oh, pretty well. I had only eighteen pence and an old hen when I signed, and a few old scores; but now I have about ten pounds in the bank, and my wife and I have lived through the summer without getting into debt. But as I am only thirty weeks old yet (so he styled himself), I cannot be so strong yet, my friend."
"How is it you never signed before?"
"I did sign; but I keep it different now to what I did before, friend."
"How is this?"
"Why, I gae doon on my knees and pray."
Here was the real strength of prayer. His own resolves were of no value; but when he called on God to help, then came new strength, and he was kept by restraining grace. The bitter experience of those who pledge and pledge over and over again, and never gain the victory, at last must come to either of two ends -- their utter destruction, or else to call on God in prayer, to help them keep the pledge manfully, and make them steadfast in their resolutions.
ONE WHO REFUSED THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The following incident is related by D.L. Moody, the Evangelist, which contains a warning, how the Holy Spirit avenges itself to those who refuse its admonitions. It is a remarkable instance of the control of an overruling God, who alone knew that man's mind, and which alone could bring that text so often to his memory:
"There was a young man in my native village -- he was not a young man when I was talking to him -- we were working on the farm together one day and he was weeping; I asked him what he was weeping about, and he told me a very strange story. When he left home his mother gave him the text: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.' He was ambitious to get rich, and thought when he had got comfortable, that was the time to give his attention to religion. He went from village to village, and got nothing to do. Sunday came, and he went into the village church. What was his great surprise to hear the minister preach from that text. It went down into his heart -- he thought that it was his mother's prayers that were following him -- he thought the whole sermon was for himself, and thought he would like to get out. For days be could not get that text and sermon out of his mind. He went on still, from village to village, and at last he went into another church after weeks had rolled away. He went for some Sundays to the church, and it wasn't a great while before the minister gave out this very text. He thought surely it was God calling him then, and he said, coolly and deliberately, he would not seek the Kingdom of God. He went on in this way, and in the course of a few months, to his great surprise, he heard the third sermon from the third minister on the same text. He tried to stifle it, but it followed him. At last he made up his mind he would not go to church any more. When he came back to Northfield, after years, his mother had died, but the text kept coming to him over and over, and he said, 'I will not become a Christian;' and said he to me, 'Moody, my heart is as hard as that stone.' It was all Greek to me, because I was not a Christian myself at the time. After my conversion, in Boston, he was about the first man I thought of. When I got back and asked my mother about him, she told me he was gone out of his mind, and to every one who went to the asylum to see him he pointed his finger and said: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom, of God and His Righteousness.' When I went back to my native village, after that, I was told he was still out of his mind, but at home. I went to see him, and asked him did he know me. He was rocking backwards and forwards in his rocking chair, and he gave me that vacant stare and pointed to me as he said, 'Young man, seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.' When, last month, I laid down my younger brother in his grave, I could not help but think of that man lying but a few yards away. May every man and woman here be wise for eternity and seek now the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, is my prayer."
THE PRAYING SHOE-MAKER.
A correspondent of The American Messenger relates this instance of a poor man in the village where he lived, who, with a family of young children and a wife in very feeble health, found it extremely difficult to obtain a livelihood. He was at length compelled to work by the week for a shoe-dealer in the city, four miles from the village, returning to his family every Saturday evening, and leaving home early on Monday morning.
He usually brought home the avails of his week's labor in provisions for the use of his family during the following week; but on one cold and stormy night, in the depth of winter, he went towards his humble dwelling with empty hands, but a full heart. His employer had declared himself unable to pay him a penny that night, and the shoe-maker, too honest to incur a debt without knowing that he should be able to cancel it, bent his weary steps homeward, trusting that He who hears the ravens when they cry, would fill the mouths of his little family. He knew that he should find a warm house and loving hearts to receive him, but he knew, too, that a disappointment awaited them which would make at least one heart ache.
When he entered his cottage, cold and wet with the rain, he saw a bright fire, brighter faces, and a table neatly spread for the anticipated repast. The tea-kettle was sending forth its cloud of steam, all ready for "the cup which cheers, but not inebriates," and a pitcher of milk, which had been sent in by a kind neighbor, was waiting for the bread so anxiously expected by the children. The sad father confessed his poverty, and his wife in tears begged him to make some effort to procure food for them before the Sabbath. He replied, "Let us ask God to give us our daily bread. Prayer avails with God when we ask for temporal good, as well as when we implore spiritual blessings." The sorrowing group knelt around the family altar, and while the father was entreating fervently for the mercies they so much needed, a gentle knocking at the door was heard. When the prayer was ended the door was opened, and there stood a woman in the "peltings of the storm," who had never been at that door before, though she lived only a short distance from it. She had a napkin in her hand, which contained a large loaf of bread; and half apologizing for offering it, said she had unintentionally made "a larger batch of bread" than usual that day, and though she hardly knew why, she thought it might be acceptable there.
After expressing their sincere gratitude to the woman, the devout shoe-maker and his wife gave thanks to God with overflowing hearts. While the little flock were appeasing their hunger with the nice new bread and milk, the father repaired to the house where I was an inmate, and told his artless tale with streaming eyes, and it is unnecessary to say, that he returned to his home that night with a basket heavily laden, and a heart full of gratitude to a prayer-answering God.
HOW THE LORD CONTROLS EVEN THE LOCOMOTIVE AND THE RAILROAD TRAIN.
A remarkable instance of how the Lord controlled circumstances for the detention of one train, and speeded the arrival of the other, in answer to the prayer of a poor widow, who was in anxiety and distress, is thus known to the editor of The Watchman and Reflector:
"Not long ago an engineer brought his train to a stand at a little Massachusetts village, where the passengers have five minutes for lunch. A lady came along the platform and said: 'The conductor tells me the train at the junction in P -- -- leaves fifteen minutes before our arrival. It is Saturday night, that is the last train. I have a very sick child in the car, and no money for a hotel, and none for a private conveyance for the long, long journey into the country. What shall I do?' 'Well,' said the engineer, 'I wish I could tell you.' 'Would it be possible for you to hurry a little?' said the anxious, tearful mother. 'No, madam, I have the time-table, and the rules say I must run by it.'
She turned sorrowfully away, leaving the bronzed face of the engineer wet with tears. Presently she returned and said, 'Are you a Christian?' 'I trust I am,' was the reply. 'Will you pray with me that the Lord may, in some way, delay the train at the junction?' 'Why, yes, I will pray with you, but I have not much faith.' Just then, the conductor cried, 'All aboard.' The poor woman hurried back to her deformed and sick child, and away went the train, climbing the grade. 'Somehow,' says the engineer, 'everything worked to a charm. As I prayed, I couldn't help letting my engine out just a little. We hardly stopped at the first station, people got on and off with wonderful alacrity, the conductor's lantern was in the air in half a minute, and then away again. Once over the summit, it was dreadful easy to give her a little more, and then a little more, as I prayed, till she seemed to shoot through the air like an arrow. Somehow I couldn't hold her, knowing I had the road, and so we dashed up to the junction six minutes ahead of time.' There stood the train, and the conductor with his lantern on his arm. 'Well,' said he, 'will you tell me what I am waiting here for? Somehow I felt I must wait your coming to-night, but I don't know why.' 'I guess,' said the brother conductor, 'it is for this woman, with her sick and deformed child, dreadfully anxious to get home this Saturday night.' But the man on the engine and the grateful mother think they can tell why the train waited. God held it to answer their prayers."
Think of this wonderful improbability according to natural circumstances. These trains never connected with each other, nor were intended to. There was no message sent ahead to stop. There was not the slightest business reason for waiting, yet the second conductor, on arrival of the first, asks this question, "What am I waiting for," and the answer of the first is more singular, "I don't know."
ANOTHER INSTANCE OF SUPERHUMAN CONTROL OF THE LOCOMOTIVE, IN ANSWER TO PRAYER.
An exact parallel instance to the foregoing is given in the experience of a correspondent of The Christian, which occurred in the latter part of November, 1864, while traveling with her aged father and two small girls:
"We started from New Hampshire on Thursday morning, expecting to have ample time to get through to Indiana before Saturday night; but, after we crossed the St. Lawrence River, the next day, I think, there was a smash-up on a freight train, which hindered our train about two hours. I began to feel anxious, as I knew our limited means would not permit us to stop long on the way. After the cars had started again, I inquired of the conductor what time we should get to Toledo, fearing we should not reach there in time for the down train. He said it would be impossible to gain the time. Soon they changed conductors, and I made a similar inquiry, getting about the same answer. Still I hoped, till we reached the Detroit River. Here I found that, though they had put on all the steam they dared to, they were almost an hour behind time, so I should have to stay over till Sunday night.
"After getting seated in the cars on the other side, I ventured to ask the conductor if we should get to Toledo in time for the down train. He readily said, 'No, madam, impossible! If we put on all the steam, we dare to, we shall be more than half an hour behind time. If we were on some trains we might hope they would wait; but on this, never! He is the most exact conductor you ever saw. He was never known to wait a second, say nothing about a minute, beyond the time.' I then inquired if we could not stay at the depot. He said, No; we should all freeze to death, for the fire is out till Sunday evening.
"A gentleman sitting in front of us said he would show us a good hotel near by, as he was acquainted there. I thanked him, but sunk back on my seat. Covering my eyes with my hand, and raising my heart to God, I said, 'O, God, if thou art my Father, and I am thy child, put it into the heart of that conductor to wait till we get there.'
"Soon I became calm, and fell asleep, not realizing that God would answer my poor prayer; but, when we reached Toledo, to the astonishment of us all, there stood the conductor, wanting to know the reason why he had to wait, when our conductor told him there was a lady with her crippled father and two little daughters, who were going down on that train.
"Soon as all were out of the car, both conductors came with their lanterns and gave their aid in helping my father to the other train, where they had reserved seats by keeping the door locked. All was hurry and confusion to me, as I had my eye on father, fearing he might fall, it being very slippery, when the baggage-master said, 'Your checks, madam!' I handed them to him, and rushed into the car; but, before I got seated, the car started, and I had no checks for my baggage. Again my heart cried out, 'O, Thou that hearest prayer, take care of my baggage!' believing He could do that as well as make the conductor wait. In a few moments the conductor came to me with a face radiant with smiles, saying, 'Madam, I waited a whole half hour for you, -- a thing I never did before since I was a conductor, so much as to wait one minute after my time.' He said, 'I know it was your father that I was waiting for, because there was nothing else on the train for which I could have waited.' I exclaimed, in a half suppressed tone, 'Praise the Lord!' I could not help it; it gushed out. Then he said, 'At the very moment all were on board, and I was ready to start, such a feeling came over me as I never had in my life before. I could not start. Something kept saying to me, you must wait, for there is something pending on that train you must wait for. I waited, and here you are, all safe.' Again my heart said, Praise the Lord! and he started to leave me, when I said, 'But there is one thing.' 'What is it?' was his quick reply. 'I gave the baggage-master my checks, and have none in return.' 'What were the numbers?' I told him. 'I have them,' he said, handing them to me, 'but your baggage will not be there till Monday morning. We had no time to put it on, we had waited so long.'"