IT was clear, concise, convincing, yet told out to his mates with many a pause, and often a sob. Said he, "Some of you knew me when I was dead enough in sins. There's Barley there, if he liked to tell on a fellow, could make your hair stand up; but it has all changed."
"You see, mates, it was just this way. My poor wife must well nigh have hated me. I had the Devil on my side; there was nothing bad he didn't help me to and my three helpless children, they never knew when they dare come near me. I was a brute; God only knows what would have been the end of it."
"I swore, I drank, I fought; I didn't care what became of me. One night I got a cut over my eyes in a row, and they took me home earlier than usual. My little Kittie was ill. She was turned four, and a delicate girl, but many a blow she had from my wicked hand."
Here James paused a moment and a sudden cough seemed to trouble him. "I was a bit better an hour later, and I heard her say, 'Mother, I don't want to leave you, 'cos father's so unkind'; and I saw my wife crying when she came out of the room, and I asked her what was up. 'Kittie's dying,' she said, looking straight at me. 'You've killed her.' I said, 'No, no, the child ain't dying. I'll speak to her.' In I went, and there lay the poor mite, her eyes staring, and her breath coming sharp. I said, 'What's the matter, Kit?' I never felt so queer as I did then. I felt like a murderer, somehow. She said, 'Don't shake me tonight, father; I am so ill; let me be'."
"I sat down beside her, for I was sober for once, and she seemed to think I was different, for she said, 'Has God done what mother keeps asking Him for?' 'What do you mean, Kittie?' I asked, and I took her wee hand in mine."
"'Don't you know, father, she asks God that Jesus would make you all new, (2 Corinthians 5:17), and save you from the drink, then we wouldn't be hungry and mother have to cry so, and we'd be ever so happy.' I turned all cold like, and her face looked, as I'd never seen it. I felt ashamed for the first time."
"It's hard work telling it all," said James, "but I'll make it short. I saw my wife was dead beat, and I sat on waiting for her to get better and come to the child. When all of a sudden Kittie said, 'Father, my Sunday School teacher said Jesus died to save us from our sins, and went back to Heaven to get a beautiful home ready for us. If I die I shall go there'."
"I said, 'I should think so, Kittie, but I don't know much about such things.' She seemed sleepy, and I watched her precious little face for an hour. Then she started and said, 'I thought Someone so bright and beautiful stood here, father, and said, "My little lamb, I died to have you. You shall soon come where you will never be cold or hungry any more," and I was just saying, "Jesus, may mother come," when I awoke.' I said, 'Kittie, don't you want me ever to come?' and she said, 'Oh, father, teacher said the Bible says they don't have any drunkards, or swearers, or unkind people there, 'cos it's Heaven'." (1 Corinthians 6:10).
"All at once I felt I was an awful sinner, and I seemed crushed. All next day I was just groaning inwardly and nearly wild. My wife couldn't make me out. I went home in the afternoon to see how Kittie was, and her teacher was kneeling beside her. I listened, and she was talking to that child so beautiful like, and then she prayed, and oh, fellows, that's what did it, for if she didn't pray for me! She just pleaded with God to save my wicked soul that I might live for Him here and with Him in Heaven, too."
"I was all over confusion when she came out of that room, and I said, 'Miss, whatever made you pray for me?' And she said, 'Mr. Thornton, the Lord Jesus came all the way from Heaven to save you, and your darling child has trusted Him and is going Home to Him. May she tell Him you've been saved today?' and she took my rough hand in hers, and, if you can believe it, I said, 'Yes,' and there was poor, wicked me, kneeling and crying like a child, and she praying for me."
"My little Kitty put her thin arms around my neck when I said I would be pleased to read her verses to her, and she whispered in her simple way, 'Does you know about Jesus now, does you trust Him, father?' I said, 'Yes, Kitty, great sinner as I am, I trust Him as my Saviour, too.' Two days after her spirit went away from this rough world to a brighter Home; and when she gave me her last kiss, she said, 'Come soon, father'."
"Now, mates, that's my story; and now I am seeking to live for God and my Saviour. He has changed my heart, changed my life, and what Christ has done for me He can do for each of you, and will if you trust Him." (John 1:12).
The man ceased. Day by day he lived among them - a rough, godless crew - but his life spoke, and his testimony was used in the salvation of many from sin and impiety.
By M. H. J.