A remarkable reminiscence, as related by Haywire Davis, the Lumberjack preacher, is as follows:
About four o'clock one afternoon I was sitting in the bunk-house of a logging camp at Swan River Logging Company, Santiago Minnesota, reading my Bible. I glanced up as a tall, splendidly built man entered, and as he strolled toward me, I noticed that he was slightly under the influence of alcohol. He proved to be a brakeman on one of the logging trains. After roughly demanding to know if I were a preacher, he began to swear, and belittle God, the Bible, and all Christians.
I answered him kindly, with a few words, and resumed reading my Bible. He took a few hasty turns about the room, then standing squarely before me; he spat a great quantity of tobacco juice on my open Bible, which ran down on my shirt.
Friends that know of my former life, of my natural quick temper, and fighting nature, will have an opportunity of seeing what the power of the Prince of Peace did for me on that trying occasion.
I got up and carefully wiped the spittle from my Bible and shirt, placing my knife underneath the page that it might dry out. My calmness and forbearance seemed to further enrage the man; and he walked up, thrusting his big fist against my nose; pushing my head against the side of the building. I remarked: "Have a good time, Jack, while you're at it. It may not last long, and remember, I stand for the lowly Nazarene and the One that died for you and me." He turned and left me with an oath upon his lips.
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:" (Matthew 5:44-45)
That evening I held a service in the camp, with an attendance of 175 men, and 27 of them held up their hands for prayer.
At one o'clock the next morning, a hasty summons came to me to get up and come quickly to the office. There had been an accident. A brakeman, while coupling the engine to the logging train, slipped and fell under the car wheels, and his right leg was severed from his body.
As I entered I saw that splendid form of manhood, that had so insulted my God, and abused me, His servant, lying crushed and bleeding; pale with pain and anguish; hopeless and undone.
"As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." (Psalm 103:15-6)
As I approached him, he extended his hand to me and humbly asked me to forgive him. I quickly assured him that I had already forgiven him and then anxiously asked him, "How is it with your soul, Jack?"'
"I am lost," he said unhesitatingly. With my heart lifted to God for guidance, I related to him the story of the thief on the cross and of his agonizing cry to the Saviour; "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." (Luke 23:42)
Only a sentence. Just a request; but it meant a recognition of the Christ, and His resurrection, and the resurrection life beyond the tomb. It meant to him life eternal, a life of light and happiness instead of darkness and despair. Then I told him Christ's answer: "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
This shows that it was given for the asking. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13) What a blessed message to a dying soul!
With closed eyes, he repeated the prayer; 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'
Then a smile spread over his pale face as he said: 'I see, I see.'
The train was hastily made up to take him to the hospital sixty miles away. As I sat by his side, one of his fellow workmen approached and extended to him a flask of whisky with the remark: 'Take a little of this, Jack, when you feel faint, to brace you up.' He waved it aside, saying, 'Boys, that's what brought me to where I am. It was liquor that separated me from my wife and children; it was whisky that has brought me to my death tonight. Come here, boys, promise me that you will never touch another drop of liquor!' And each (being four of them) in turn, as they took the hand of the dying man, and looked upon that death-stricken face, said: 'I promise you, Jack.' And they each kept their word. Then he said, 'Take Jesus as your personal Saviour.' After this he sank into a sleep. After a period of silence, which seemed like an hour, he suddenly reached for my hand and, grasping it, with face all aglow, said: 'I see! I see! Tell the boys I--made--the--coupling.' And with a smile upon his face he passed into glory.
As this incident will no doubt be read by many railroad men, I take this opportunity of giving you a last word of advice: "Boys, be sure and make the coupling!"