A Young Man Preaches To The Preacher
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
GEORGE F. PENTECOST told me this singular incident, which occurred during his pastorate in London :
" I was once traveling down from London to Edinburgh, for the purpose of preaching the opening sermon before the Prophetic Conference, to be held in the Free Assembly Hall in that city. I was in a third-class carriage, in which were three other travelers. At Newcastle, there came in the carriage a man, about thirty-five years of age. From his dress and general appearance, and especially from the look of his hands, he was, I suppose, a mechanic. He took the seat beside me. After the train started and was well under way, he addressed a few words of remark concerning the day and the weather, to which I responded politely. Presently, after a little embarrassment, he said :
" ` I beg your pardon, sir; really I do not wish to be obtrusive or impertinent, but I should like to ask you a question.'
" ` Certainly,' I replied.
" ` May I ask you, sir, if you are a Christian?'
This was rather startling, and I observed that the other passengers dropped their papers and books and turned their attention toward us. Suppressing my surprise, and quickly determining not to give a categorical answer to his question, I replied,
" ` Why, my friend, that is a very leading question and possibly ought not to be answered offhand. What do you mean by being a Christian?'
" He then began to tell me in a very simple and straightforward way what he understood and meant. His exposition was a very true and sincere one. In the meantime, I asked him many questions, for the purpose of drawing him out and ascertaining how much he himself knew about this important matter. I confess that I was gratified at his clear replies, and became convinced that he was utterly sincere—one of those Christians who felt it to be his duty to sow his seed beside all waters, if happily, he might win a soul to Christ. I did not in words tell him that I was a Christian, but plainly intimated to him that I was deeply interested in the matter. In the end, he told me that he had made a vow that he would never miss an opportunity of speaking a word for Christ, and evidently he was very earnest in his endeavor to win me. By this time we were drawing near to Edinburgh. He asked me if I were stopping overnight in the city; and when I told him I was so intending, he said,
" ` Well, sir, I have taken a day from my work to go down to the Conference for the purpose of hearing a man whom I have never seen or heard preach. A man,' he said, ` to whom I owe my own conversion, through reading one of his little tracts. For five years,' he said, ` I have kept a number of these tracts in my pocket, and give them away as I have opportunity. I would earnestly advise you to go to the Free Assembly Hall to night, and hear Dr. Pentecost.' And with that, just as we were stepping out of the carriage, he handed me one of my own tracts."
The courage and evangelical zeal of the young man are to be highly commended. People have become so in the habit of thinking and talking about every other subject than that of religion, that the one who ventures to intro-duce that question is likely to be considered impertinent, even by Christian people. The world will be converted much more rapidly when the missionary spirit and conversation of the young man shall characterize the average Christian.
There is no measuring the message of a true minister of God, its influence goes beyond his sight or his thought. The audience which the preacher ad-dresses is only the beginning of those saving influences that move out in ever widening circles. It is likely that the unconscious energies of a good man will be more potential than the conscious ones. The true minister of the Lord Jesus will doubtless find many souls in heaven, saved by his instrumentality, whose faces he had never seen, and whose hands he had never clasped.
The religious press has grown, in this age, to be a tremendous power in saving individual men, and in establishing the Kingdom of God. Many a precious soul has been redeemed by the judicious distribution of religious literature.