Meeting After Thirty Years Of Absence
( Originally Published 1902 )
I WAS invited to speak, one Sunday afternoon, at the Young Men's Institute in the Bowery, New York City. The room was full of young men. The Scriptures were read by the chairman of the Devotional Committee ; beautiful music was rendered; and earnest prayer was offered. I spoke about twenty minutes on the religious privileges and duties of young men, urging them to be charitable with their fellow men, and especially to try to bring some soul into the Kingdom of God. At the conclusion of the remarks, a well-dressed, gentlemanly-looking man arose, and addressing the one who had charge of the meeting said, With your permission I should like to relate an incident which illustrates the lesson of this hour's message. In a certain college were two young men near about the same age, their fathers were both lawyers, had both been judges, and were themselves friends. These two students were in the same department in college ; were in the same class ; boarded with the same family, and slept in the same bed. They became very closely attached to each other. One was a Christian ; the other was not. The one who was a Christian never spoke to the other on the subject of religion, until one evening as they were about to retire for the night, he said, ` Frank, I have often felt it my duty to speak to you on the subject of your soul's salvation, but have never quite had the courage to do so. Do you not think it is about time you were becoming a Christian. It seems to me you ought to consecrate your young life to the Master, besides, Christ can do so much more for you than you can do for His cause.' The young man replied, that he had often thought he ought to enter upon a religious life, and intended, some day to do so. The roommate answered, ` Why not here and now.' The other said, ` I am willing to do so.' Both kneeled by the side of the bed, and prayed the prayer of faith, which was answered by the conversion of the one who sought. And next to the joy of the one who was saved, was that of his mate who had led him into the light. Soon after, these classmates parted, and strange to say, for thirty long years neither ever saw the face of the other, nor had a line of communication with him. This afternoon they have met. I am the one who was converted, and the roommate who brought me to Christ is the minister who has addressed us this hour. I came East to finish my college education, and settled in my profession. I lost sight of my friend ; did not know that he was in the ministry. I knew that he had another profession in view, and supposed that he was following it. I saw in one of the New York papers, that a person bearing the same name as my old classmate was to speak here this afternoon, and I came over from Brooklyn to see if it was the same man." Having made these remarks the visitor sat down. I could not believe my eyes, and could hardly believe my ears, for the boy with clear complexion, and red, rosy cheeks, had become the mature man, with beard all about his face ; with only here and there a hint of his former features. He had become an officer in one of the leading Congregational Churches of the country, and a physician of skill and reputation. I went down into the Bowery, simply to talk to the young men about Christ; I had the added joy of renewing the friendship of my old roommate.
We never see one-half of what we do; there is a larger harvest from evangelical seed that is scattered than one would think; there is a greater reward to an effort to save souls than one would imagine. If we shall only embrace one opportunity out of a hundred presented to us ; if we shall only bring to Christ one out of a score whom we might save, our crowns at last, through grace divine, will be studded with jewels. And, under the shade of some tree, or in some garden of flowers, or by the side of some fountain in that other world, persons whose faces we had forgotten, or had never known, may say to us " by some word or petition or act, you brought me to the Cross and to this beautiful heaven."