Boy, I would like the morning paper,” said a kind yet imperious voice to me as, at 6:30 A.M., I handed out newspapers at the railway bookstall in my home town. I glanced in awe at the well-dressed, distinguished man who thus commanded me, as I, a six-teen-year-old lad, handed him the paper and took his money. For he was the person whom the evening before I had heard thrill a great congregation with a tremendous sermon on “Prevailing Prayer.”
It was an anniversary occasion, and for such church events John Henry Jowett was a name to conjure with. He had come from Birmingham, where he was minisister of Carr’s Lane Congregational Church, for this special event. When I reached the church it was packed to overflowing, with several hundred people outside. I wormed my way through the crowd and came face to face with an usher guarding a closed door. “You can’t go in,” he said; “the church is already packed to suffocation.” “Do you think that Christ would keep a boy from hearing the Gospel?” I countered. That did it! He opened the door to let me in, and several scores of people got in behind me before the door could be closed again.
The preacher’s text was: “When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray …” (Matt. 9:36–39). After many years three things stand out in my memory, above the overwhelming impression of the sermon as a whole. One was the thrilling way in which he said Pray, and finished reading the text with that great word. The second was a quotation from the Latin poet Horace: “I hate the vulgar crowd and keep it at a distance,” which ...1
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