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Unconscious Influence

( Originally Published 1902 )

GOING from New York west, to the home of my childhood, for a Sabbath, I was invited to make an address in the afternoon at a meeting of the Young Men's Christian Association. The splendid building, which was the property of the Association, was beautiful and complete in all its appointments . Its chapel was filled with people at the service. The General Secretary, before introducing me, gave a short history of the organization from its beginning, and, to my astonishment, he named me as the founder of the organization in the city. There had almost faded from my memory the fact, that between thirty and forty years before I had gathered a few young men together, solicited funds and secured a room in the business part of the city, where reading material was supplied, and where religious meetings at stated times were held ; and it was hard to realize that, out of that humble, insignificant start, the great Association, with its fine building and its efficient work, had sprung. I was treated to another surprise as the secretary continued : " Some years ago I attended a revival service at a church in this city, and the minister preached a sermon which touched my heart, at the close of which I felt myself drawn irresistibly into the number of those who went forward as penitents. I was but a little boy, and the minister kneeled down and, bending over me, talked with and prayed for me. I found then and there a peace in Christ which has remained with me till this day. The minister who led me to Christ is the one who is to address you this hour." I recalled the revival service and the meetings, where some little children came forward and gave themselves to Christ, but I did not recall the particular boy who had grown to be the secretary of the Association. It seemed that, going from the meeting, he united with another church to which his people belonged, and I did not have an opportunity to identify him. I did not know that I had been instrumental in leading the secretary to Christ, until he revealed the fact to me in his introductory remarks.

God only knows what vast harvests spring out of the smallest seed of right intention or holy endeavor. There is an immortality of good deeds on this side of the grave. The unseen, unconscious influence which we may have among men, is a thousandfold greater than any visible power we may exert.

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