A Remarkable Answer

In the backwoods of Canada lived a good minister, who one evening went out to meditate, as Isaac did, in the fields. He soon found himself on thc borders of a forest which he entered, and walked along a track which had been trodden before him, and he began to think how he should spend a night in the forest. He trembled at the idea of remaining there with the poor shelter of a tree into which he would be compelled to climb.

On a sudden he saw a light in the distance among the trees, and imagining that it might be from the window of some cottage where he could find a hospitable retreat, he hastened to it, and to his surprise, saw a space cleared and trees laid down to make a platform, and upon it a speaker addressing a multitude. He thought to himself, "I have stumbled on a company of people, who in the dark forest have assembled to worship God, and some minister is preaching to them, at this late hour of the evening, concerning the kingdom of God, and His righteousness."

But to his surprise and horror, when he came nearer, he found a young man declaiming against God, daring the Almighty to do His worst upon him, speaking terrible things in wrath against the justice of the Most High. venturing most bold and awful assertions concerning his own disbelief in a future state.

It was altogether a singular scene; it was lighted up by pine-knots, which cast a glare here and there while the thick darkness in other places still reigned. The people were intent on listening to the orator, and when he sat down thunders of applause were given to him; each one seeming to emulate the other in his praise. Thought the minister, "I must not let this pass; I must rise and speak; the honor of my God, and His cause demands it." But he feared to speak, for he knew not what to say, having come there suddenly; but he would have ventured, had not something else occurred.

A man of middle age, hale and strong, rose and leaning on his staff he said, "My friends, I have a word to speak to you tonight. I am not about to refute any of the arguments of the orator. I shall not criticize his style; I shall say nothing concerning what I believe to be the blasphemies he has uttered; but I shall simply relate to you a fact, and after I have done that you shall draw your own conclusions.

"Yesterday, I walked by the side of yonder river. I saw on its floods a young man in a boat. The boat was unmanageable, it was going fast toward the rapids. He could not use the oars, and I saw he was not capable of bringing the boat to the shore. I saw that young man wring his hands in agony. By-and-by he gave up the attempt to save his life, kneeled down and cried with desperate earnestness, ’O God! save my soul! If my body cannot be saved, save my soul.’ I heard him confess that he had been a blasphemer; I heard him vow that if his life were spared he would never be such again; I heard him implore the mercy of heaven for Jesus Christ’s sake, and earnestly plead that he might be washed in His blood.

"These arms saved that young man from the flood. I plunged in, brought the boat to shore, and saved his life. That same young man has just now addressed you and cursed his Maker. What say you to this, sirs!"

The speaker sat down. You may guess what a shudder ran through the young man himself, and how the audience in one moment changed their notes, and saw that after all, while it was a fine thing to brag and bravado against Almighty God on dry land and when danger was distant, it was not quite so grand to think ill of Him when near the verge of the grave. We believe there is enough conscience in every man to convince him that God must punish him for his sin, therefore, we think that this text will wake an echo in every heart - "If he turn not, He will whet His sword" (Psalm 7:12).