In England a returned missionary to Russia was a guest in the Congregational minister's home. Visiting there at the time was the minister's grandson. One night after evening worship the missionary, who had been "taken" with the lad, asked him to point out the chamber where he slept. Early in the morning he called him, and as they sat together in the garden he told him of the love of Christ. A few days later, as they were concluding family worship, the missionary took the boy on his knee and said to those assembled, "I am convinced that this boy will preach the gospel. I am convinced that he will be a great preacher of the gospel, and that he will stand one day in the pulpit of Rowland Hill." Then he said to the boy, as he gave him a shilling, "I want you to promise that when that day comes and you stand in Rowland Hill's pulpit, you will give out the hymn, 'God Works in a Mysterious Way His Wonders to Perform.'"
Several years passed by; and the minister's grandson, now a lad of fifteen, was on his way to church in Colchester. A storm came up, and he turned into the first church he came to—the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Artillery Street. The regular minister did not appear, and a layman arose in the pulpit and gave out the text, Isaiah 45:22: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." The boy sitting in the rear of the dark and almost empty church answered the text and was saved.
That boy was Charles H. Spurgeon, who preached in the great Metropolitan Tabernacle for thirty years!
One day an old minister in England walked into his churchyard and, sitting down on a tombstone, began to weep. He wept because his church officers had just notified him that he was getting old and that he ought to resign and let a younger man take his place. As he sat there disconsolate, he saw a boy, with sunshine in his face and joy in his heart, coming down the street beyond the cemetery fence. The old preacher was fond of boys, and he called this boy to him and had him sit down beside him on the tombstone. There he forgot his sorrow as he talked with the boy about the meaning of life and told him about Christ and his salvation. Presently the boy left him and went on his happy way down the street. The old preacher went back to his manse and to his sorrow. Not long afterward he was called to his eternal home.
If it is permitted the redeemed in the life to come to behold what transpires on earth, then this is what that old preacher has seen: He has seen that boy with whom he talked become a lay preacher, a teacher, and a cobbler. In his schoolroom and cobbler shop he has fashioned a large leather globe; and scholars in his class and customers who come in for their shoes have seen the face of the teacher-cobbler suffused with emotion as he pointed to land after land on that globe and said, "And these are pagans!" After a few years he saw that boy to whom he had talked in the cemetery become the pioneer missionary to India, who translated the Scriptures into the dialects of the East. That boy was William G. Carey!
Early in the last century the Presbyterian minister at Darlington, Pennsylvania, out on his pastoral round, was riding his horse down a country lane. As he drew up before a humble cottage he heard the sound of a woman's voice lifted in earnest prayer. As he listened he heard this widowed mother, with her boys kneeling at her side, earnestly entreating God that he would open a door for the education of these boys, so that they might become good and useful men. The pastor dismounted and went in to speak with the widow who had prayed so earnestly, and yet with a note of sorrow in her voice. Struck with the alertness of one of these boys and touched by the woman's petitions, he took the boy with him to the old Stone Academy at Darlington, and there gave him the instruction for which his mother had prayed.
That boy, so handicapped in his birth, and for whom there seemed to be no opportunity, influenced more young minds in America in the last century than any other man; for he was William McGuffey, the author of the famous Eclectic Readers, which reached the extraordinary circulation of a hundred million copies.
A certain island in the West Indies is liable to the periodical advent of earthquakes. One year before the season of these terrestrial disturbances, Mr. X., who lived in the danger zone, sent his two sons to the home of a brother in England, to secure them from the impending havoc.
Evidently the quiet of the staid English household was disturbed by the irruption of the two West Indians, for the returning mail steamer carried a message to Mr. X., brief but emphatic:
"Take back your boys; send me the earthquake."
Aunt Eliza came up the walk and said to her small nephew: "Good morning, Willie. Is your mother in?"
"Sure she's in," replied Willie truculently. "D'you s'pose I'd be workin' in the garden on Saturday morning if she wasn't?"
An iron hoop bounded through the area railings of a suburban house and played havoc with the kitchen window. The woman waited, anger in her eyes, for the appearance of the hoop's owner. Presently he came.
"Please, I've broken your window," he said, "and here's Father to mend it."
And, sure enough, he was followed by a stolid-looking workman, who at once started to work, while the small boy took his hoop and ran off.
"That'll be four bits, ma'am," announced the glazier when the window was whole once more.
"Four bits!" gasped the woman. "But your little boy broke it—the little fellow with the hoop, you know. You're his father, aren't you?"
The stolid man shook his head.
"Don't know him from Adam," he said. "He came around to my place and told me his mother wanted her winder fixed. You're his mother, aren't you?"
And the woman shook her head also.—Ray Trum Nathan.