Sermon In A Basket Of Provisions
( Originally Published 1902 )
DR. RUSSELL, H. CONWELL, of Philadelphia, who preaches to more people every Sunday than any other minister of the globe, has a way of saving men by his practical benevolences, as well as by his sermons.
Two fast young men, with their young lady acquaintances, attended Dr. Conwell's church one Sunday night, and after the services entered upon a discussion of the merits of the pastor. The young men insisted that the pastor was in the profession, like other ministers, for the money there is in it. The girls protested against such an unjust estimate of their pastor. Some time after that these two young men came reeling out of a saloon, at midnight, at the same time that a tall man and a little girl passed by the door. The man was saying to the girl, " My dear child, why did you not tell- me that you were in need? You know that I would not let you suffer." The young men heard the conversation, and one of them said: " That is Conwell." " No," the other answered, " you are mistaken, it is not he." " I tell you that was Conwell's voice, let us go after him." And through the driving snow they followed the tall man with the basket of provisions on one arm, and leading the child by the hand, to a hovel of want, where the need was supplied, and the half-drunk men in the winter's storm wept as they said, " That man does not preach for money, but for love." A spirit of conviction there and then seized their hearts; and they united, on profession of faith, with the Grace Baptist Church, and became faithful workers with the loyal, steadfast supporters of the pastor, Dr. Conwell.
Any estimate of the Ministerial profession which attributes to it any but the highest motives is unjust. There are degrees of unselfishness and consecration amongst the ministers, as amongst the layman : the average preacher we believe to be a man of devout spirit and of practical benevolence. He saves the people by what he does as well as what he says ; by his services in the homes of the people, especially those of the poor, as well as by his sermons in the sanctuary. Human love under grace divine can break the hardest heart and bring it to Christ.