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Title: Steve P. Holcombe, the Converted Gambler - His Life and Work
Author: Alexander, Rev. Gross
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Steve P. Holcombe, the Converted Gambler - His Life and Work" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)

[Illustration: Steve P. Holcombe.]












  Mrs. S. P. Holcombe,










It has been thought and suggested by some of those having knowledge of
Mr. Holcombe's history, that an account of his life and work in
book-form would multiply his usefulness and do good. And since the
narration of his experiences by himself has been of such great benefit
to those who have been privileged to hear him, why may not others also
be benefited by reading some account of his uncommon career?

It is hoped that it will be of interest to the general reader as a
revelation and record of the workings and struggles of some human hearts
and the wretchedness and blessedness of some human lives. It is a sort
of luxury to read about and sympathize with wretchedness, as it is a joy
to see that wretchedness turned to blessedness. It will show to those
who are unwillingly the slaves of sin what God has done for such as
they. It will possibly interest and encourage those who are engaged in
Christian work. It may furnish suggestions as to practical methods to be
pursued in working among poor and needy classes, whether in towns or
cities. Even ministers of the Gospel may find encouragement and
instruction in the experience of Mr. Holcombe's life and the methods and
successes of his work.

What few letters of Mr. Holcombe's could be found are put in as showing
phases of this interesting character that could be shown as well no
other way, and some letters written _to_ him are selected out of
several hundred of like character to show how he touches all classes of

The "Testimonies" are from men who have been rescued under Mr.
Holcombe's ministry, and will give some idea of the work that is being
done. These are only a few of the men who have been brought to a better
and happier life through Mr. Holcombe's efforts. If any should feel that
there is a sameness in these testimonies, which it is believed very few
will do, perhaps others will feel the cumulative effect of line upon
line, example upon example.

The sermons or addresses are inserted because they have been the means
of awakening and guiding many to salvation, and they may be of interest
and possibly of benefit to some who have not heard Mr. Holcombe. They
contain much of the history of his inner life in statements of
experience introduced by way of illustration. They are given in outline
only, as will be seen.

The book lays no claim to literary excellence. The position and work of
the man make his life worth writing and reading apart from the style of
the book.

The accounts here given of Mr. Holcombe's character and work are not
written for the purpose of glorifying him. Many of these pages are
profoundly painful and humiliating to him. But they are written that
those who read them may know from what depths he has been brought, and
to what blessedness he has been raised, through Jesus Christ, to whose
name the glory is given and to whose blessing the book is commended.

     AUGUST, 1888.



The author of this volume, the Rev. Gross Alexander, Professor of
Theology in Vanderbilt University, was surely the man to give to the
world the Life of Steve Holcombe. The warm heart and clear head of the
author, and the consecrated, self-denying life of the subject of the
volume, assure the reader ample compensation for the time given to the

Mr. Alexander has known Brother Holcombe from the beginning of his
Christian life, and tells the story of his fidelity to Christ and
loyalty to duty as no other could.

I first met Brother Holcombe at Louisville, in the year 1882, when I was
preaching in the church of his pastor, Rev. J. C. Morris. It was from
Brother Morris that I learned of this consecrated layman. He often told
me with joy of many incidents connected with the conversion and work of
Brother Holcombe. My acquaintance with him soon grew into a warm
friendship. It has always been an inspiration to me to talk with him,
and a source of gratitude to me to know that I have his affection and

The work he is doing now in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, is very
much like Jerry Macauley's work in New York City years ago. No man has
experienced more vividly the power of Christ to save, and no man has a
stronger faith in Christ's ability to save. Brother Holcombe's humility
and fidelity have made him a power in the work of rescuing the
perishing and saving the fallen. I have been charmed by the purity of
soul manifested by him on all occasions, and his continual efforts to
bring back those who have been overtaken in a fault. Hundreds of men who
have felt his sympathizing arms about them and listened to his brotherly
words have grown strong, because they had a friend and brother in Steve
Holcombe, who, in spite of their failures and faults, has clung to them
with a love like that which Christ Himself manifested toward those who
were as bruised reeds and smoking flax.

Brother Holcombe, rescued himself by the loving hand of Christ, has
extended the hand from a heart full of love for Christ and men, and has
done his best to save all who have come under his influence.

This volume will be especially instructive to those who are interested
in the salvation of the non-churchgoers of the great cities. For surely
Brother Holcombe's Mission is a place where the worst sinners hear of
Christ's power to save, and where they see, in Brother Holcombe himself,
with his rich experience, one of the greatest triumphs of the Gospel.

I heartily commend this volume to all Christian people, because it tells
of the life of a saved man. It tells also what a saved man can do for
others, and it will inspire many hearts with sympathy for such work and
prepare many hands to help in it. I heartily commend this book because
it is the biography of one whom I love and whom all men would love, if
they knew him in his devotion to God and duty. Brother Holcombe has
frequently been with me in my meetings and in my private room; I have
frequently been with him in his Mission, in his family circle, on the
streets of the great cities, and he is one man of whom it may be said:
"His conversation is in heaven." I frequently feel that my own life
would have been more successful with such a fervent consecration to my
work as Brother Steve Holcombe exemplifies.

The sermons contained in this volume will be read with interest. They
are his sermons. They come from his heart, and they have reached the
hearts of hundreds and thousands who have heard him gladly.

I bespeak for the book a circulation which will put it into the library
of all pastors and into thousands of homes.

     SAM P. JONES.

     CARTERSVILLE, GA., October 18, 1888.


I have read with very great interest the "Life of Steve Holcombe," and
have carefully looked through the letters, testimonies and sermons to be
included in the proposed volume, and I rejoice that it is to be
published. Professor Alexander, who was Mr. Holcombe's first pastor, has
written the life with the best use of his fine literary gifts, and with
sound judgment and good taste. It is a wonderful story. I have long felt
interest in Mr. Holcombe and his work, for after beginning his Mission
he attended my seminary lessons in the New Testament through a session
and more; but this record of his life warms my heart still more toward
him and his remarkable labors of love. I think the book will be very
widely read. It will stir Christians to more hopeful efforts to save the
most wicked. It will encourage many a desperate wanderer to seek the
grace of God in the Gospel. Such a book makes a real addition to the
"evidences of Christianity." No one can read it without feeling that
Christian piety is something real and powerful and delightful. Much may
be learned from Mr. Holcombe's recorded methods and discourses, and from
the testimonies of his converts, as to the best means of carrying on
religious work of many kinds. The book will, doubtless, lead to the
establishment of like Missions in other cities, and put new heart and
hope into the pastors, missionaries and every class of Christian
workers. It will show that zeal and love and faith must be supported by
ample common sense and force of character, as in Mr. Holcombe's case,
if great results are to hoped for. Many persons can be induced to read
his brief outline sermons who would never look at more elaborate
discourses. As to two or three slight touches of doctrinal statement,
some of us might not agree with the speaker, but all must see that his
sermons are very practical, pervaded by good sense and true feeling, and
adapted to do much good.


     LOUISVILLE, KY., September 25, 1888.



Steve P. Holcombe, known in former years as a gambler and doer of all
evil, no less known in these latter days as a preacher of the Gospel and
doer of all good, was born at Shippingsport, Kentucky, in 1835. The
place, as well as the man, has an interesting history. An odd,
straggling, tired, little old town, it looks as if it had been left
behind and had long ago given up all hope of ever catching up. It is in
this and other respects in striking contrast with its surroundings. The
triangular island, upon which it is situated, lies lazily between the
Ohio river, which flows like a torrent around two sides of it, and the
Louisville canal, which stretches straight as an arrow along the third.
On its northeast side it commands a view of the most picturesque part of
La Belle Riviere. This part embraces the rapids, or "Falls," opposite
the city of Louisville, which gets its surname of "Falls City" from this
circumstance. In the midst of the rapids a lone, little island of bare
rocks rises sheer out of the dashing waters to the height of several
feet, and across the wide expanse, on the other side of the river, loom
up the wooded banks of the Indiana side, indented with many a romantic
cove, and sweeping around with a graceful curve, while the chimneys and
towers and spires of Jeffersonville and New Albany rise in the
distance, with the blue Indiana "Knobs" in the deep background beyond.
From this same point on the island, and forming part of the same
extensive view, one may see the two majestic bridges, each a mile in
length, one of which spans the river directly over the Falls and
connects the city of Louisville with Jeffersonville, Indiana, while the
other joins the western portion of Louisville with the thriving city of
New Albany. Across the canal from the island, on the south, lies the
city of Louisville with its near 200,000 population, its broad avenues,
its palatial buildings.

In the very midst of all this profusion of beauty and all this hum and
buzz and rush of commercial and social life, lies the dingy, sleepy old
town of Shippingsport with its three hundred or four hundred people, all
unheeded and unheeding, uncared for and uncaring. There are five or six
fairly good houses, and all the rest are poor. There is a good brick
school-house, built and kept up by the city of Louisville, of which,
since 1842, Shippingsport is an incorporated part. There is one
dilapidated, sad looking, little old brick church, which seldom suffers
any sort of disturbance. On the northeast shore of the island directly
over the rushing waters stands the picturesque old mill built by
Tarascon in the early part of the century. It utilizes the fine
water-power of the "Falls" in making the famous Louisville cement. Part
of the inhabitants are employed as laborers in this mill, and part of
them derive their support from fishing in the river, for which there are
exceptional opportunities all the year around in the shallows, where
the rushing waters dash, with eddying whirl, against the rocky shores of
their island.

There are, at this time, some excellent people in Shippingsport, who
faithfully maintain spiritual life and good moral character amid
surrounding apathy and immorality. "For except the Lord had left unto
them a very small remnant, they should have been as Sodom, and they
should have been like unto Gomorrah."

And yet, Shippingsport was not always what it is now. Time was when it
boasted the aristocracy of the Falls. "The house is still standing,"
says a recent writer in Harper's Monthly Magazine, "where in the early
part of the century the Frenchman, Tarascon, offered border hospitality
to many distinguished guests, among whom were Aaron Burr and
Blennerhasset, and General Wilkinson, then in command of the armies of
the United States." He might have added that Shippingsport was once
honored with a visit from LaFayette, and later also from President
Jackson. But in other respects also Shippingsport was, in former years,
far different from what it is to-day. In business importance it rivaled
the city of Louisville itself. In that early day, before the building of
the canal, steamboats could not, on account of the Falls, pass up the
river except during high water, so that for about nine months in the
year Shippingsport was the head of navigation. Naturally, it became a
place of considerable commercial importance, as the shrewd Frenchman who
first settled there saw it was bound to be. Very soon it attracted a
population of some hundreds, and grew into a very busy little mart.
"Every day," says one of the old citizens still living, "steamboats were
landing with products and passengers from the South, or leaving with
products and passengers from Kentucky and the upper country." The
freight which was landed at Shippingsport was carried by wagons and
drays to Louisville, Lexington and other places in Kentucky and Indiana.
This same old citizen, Mr. Alex. Folwell, declares that he has seen as
many as five hundred wagons in one day in and around the place. There
were three large warehouses and several stores, and what seems hard to
believe, land sold in some instances for $100 per foot.

The canal was begun in 1824, the first spadeful of dirt being taken out
by DeWitt Clinton, of New York. During the next six years from five
hundred to a thousand men were employed on it. They were, as a general
thing, a rough set. Sometimes, while steamboats were lying at the place,
the unemployed hands would annoy the workmen on the canal so that
gradually there grew up a feeling of enmity between the two classes
which broke out occasionally in regular battles.

In 1830, when the canal was finished, the days of Shippingsport's
prosperity were numbered. Thenceforth steamboats, independent of
obstructions in the river, passed on up through the canal, and
Shippingsport found her occupation was gone. The better classes lost no
time in removing to other places, and only the poorer and rougher
classes remained. Many of the workmen who had been engaged in building
the canal settled down there to live; unemployed and broken-down
steamboatmen gravitated to the place where they always had such good
times; shiftless and thriftless poor people from other places came
flocking in as to a poor man's paradise. Within easy reach of
Louisville, the place became a resort for the immoral young men, the
gamblers and all the rough characters of that growing city.

Such was the place to which Steve Holcombe's parents removed from
Central Kentucky in 1835, the year of his birth; and, though coming into
the midst of surroundings so full of moral perils, they did not bring
that strength of moral character, that fixedness of moral habit and that
steadfastness of moral purpose which were necessary to guard against the
temptations of every sort which were awaiting them.

The father, though an honest and well disposed sort of man and very kind
to his family, was already a drunkard. His son says of him: "My poor
father had gotten to be a confirmed drunkard before I was born, and
after he had settled at Shippingsport, my mother would not let him stay
about the house, so that most of his time was spent in lying around
bar-rooms or out on the commons, where he usually slept all times of the
year." It is not surprising that as a consequence of such dissipation
and such exposure he died at the early age of thirty-three, when his son
Steve was eleven years old. Dead, he sleeps in an unmarked grave on the
commons where formerly he slept when drunk and shut out by his wife from
his home.

Mrs. Holcombe, the mother of Steve, a woman five feet ten inches in
height and one hundred and ninety pounds in weight, was as strong in
passion as in physical power. "When aroused," says her son, "she was as
fierce as a tigress and fearless of God, man or devil, although she was
a woman of quick sympathy and impulsive kindheartedness toward those who
were in distress, and would go further to help such than almost any one
I have ever known." She was a woman of more than ordinary mind, though
entirely without education. In the government of her children she was
extremely severe. "Though my father," says Mr. Holcombe, "never whipped
me but once in my life, and that slightly, my mother has whipped me
hundreds of times, I suppose, and with as great severity as frequency.
She has, at times, almost beaten me to death. She would use a switch, a
cane, a broom-stick or a club, whichever happened to be at hand when she
became provoked. She whipped me oftener for going swimming than for
anything else, I believe. If I told her a lie about it she would whip
me, and if I told her the truth, she would whip me."

From neglect and other causes little Steve was very sickly and puny in
his babyhood, so that he did not walk till he was four years old; but
from the beginning his temper was as violent as his body was weak, and
from his earliest recollection, he says, he loved to fight. At the same
time he had his mother's tenderheartedness for those who were in
distress. Once a stranger stopped for a few days at the tavern in
Shippingsport, and the roughs of the place caught him out on one
occasion and beat him so severely that he was left for dead; but he
crawled afterward into an old shed where little Holcombe, between five
and six years old, found him and took him food every day for about two

The boys with whom he associated in childhood were addicted to petty
stealing, and he learned from them to practice the same. When about
seven years old his mother, on account of their poverty, provided him
with a supply of cakes, pies and fruits to peddle out on the steamers
while they were detained in passing the locks of the canal. Instead of
returning the money to his mother, however, he would often lose it in
gambling with the bad boys of the place, and sometimes even with his
half-brothers, so that he seldom got home with his money, but always got
his beating.

At eight years of age he played cards for money in bar-rooms with grown
men. At ten he began to explore those parts of the river about the
falls, in a skiff alone looking for articles of various kinds lost in
wrecks, that he might get means for gambling. This, together with the
fact that his hair was very light in color, gained for him the
distinction of the "Little White-headed Pirate."

In 1842 Shippingsport was taken into the city of Louisville, and a
school was established, which he attended about three months during this
period of his life, and he never attended school afterward. The
brown-haired, black-eyed little girl who afterward became his wife,
attended this school at the same time. Her parents had lately removed to
Shippingsport from Jeffersonville, Indiana. They were people of
excellent character and were so careful of their children that they
would not allow them to associate with the children of Shippingsport any
farther than was necessary and unavoidable. But, notwithstanding these
restrictions, their little Mary saw just enough of Steve Holcombe in
school to form a strange liking for him, as he did also for her--an
attachment which has lasted through many and varying experiences up to
the present. At that time he had grown to be "a heavy set little boy,"
as Mrs. Holcombe describes him, and was "very good looking," indeed,
"very handsome," as she goes on to say, "with his deep blue eyes and his
golden hair." She did not know that she was in love with a boy who was
to become one of the worst of men in all forms of wickedness, and as
little did she know that she was in love with a boy who was to become
one of the best of men in all forms of goodness and usefulness. Nor did
he foresee that he was forming an attachment then and there for one who
was to love him devotedly and serve him patiently through all phases of
infidelity and wickedness, and through years of almost unexampled trials
and sufferings, who was to cling to him amid numberless perils and
scandals, who was to train and restrain his children so as to lead them
in ways of purity and goodness in spite of the father's bad example, who
was to endure for his sake forms of ill treatment that have killed many
a woman, and who was in long distant years to be his most patient
encourager and helper in a singularly blessed and successful work for
God and the most abandoned and hopeless class of sinful men, and to
develop, amid all and in spite of all and by means of all, one of the
truest and strongest and most devoted of female characters. A singular
thing it seems, indeed, that an attachment begun so early and tested so
severely should have lasted so late. And yet it is perhaps at this
moment stronger than ever it was before.


Notwithstanding young Holcombe's lack of religious instruction and his
extraordinary maturity in wickedness, he declares that at times he had,
even before his tenth year, very serious thoughts. He says:

"I always believed there was a God and that the Bible was from God, but
for the most part my belief was very vague and took hold of nothing
definite. Hence, nearly all my thoughts were evil, only evil and evil
continually. I am sure, however, that I believed there was a hell. When
a child, I used to dream, it seems to me, almost every night, that the
devil had me, and sometimes my dreams were so real that I would say to
myself while dreaming, 'Now this is no dream; he has got me this time,
sure enough.' I remember that one text which I heard a preacher read
troubled me more than anything else, when I thought about dying and
going to judgment. It was this: 'And they hid themselves in the dens and
rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us
and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne.' I always
had a fear of death and a dread of the future. The rattling of clods on
a coffin filled me with awe and dread. When I thought about my soul, I
would always say to myself, 'I am going to get good before I go into the
presence of God; but now I want to keep these thoughts out of mind so I
can do as I please and not have to suffer and struggle and fight against
sin--till I get consumption. When I get consumption I will have plenty
of warning as to death's approach and plenty of time to prepare for it.'
But I had gotten such an admiration for gamblers and such a passion for
gambling that I had a consuming ambition to become a regular blackleg,
as gamblers were called in those days. I made up my mind that this was
to be my business, and I began to look about for some way to get loose
from everything else, so I could do nothing but gamble, with nobody to
molest or make me afraid."

It is hard enough for a boy to keep from doing wrong and to do right
always, even when he has inherited a good disposition, enjoyed good
advantages and had the best of training. But our little friend, Steve
Holcombe, poor fellow, inherited from his father an appetite for drink
and from his mother a savage temper. To balance these, he had none of
the safeguards of a careful, moral or religious education, and none of
those sweet and helpful home associations which follow a man through
life and hold him back from wrong doing.

Thus unprepared, unshielded, unguarded, at the tender age of eleven
years he left home to work his own way in the world. No mother's prayers
had hitherto helped him, and no mother's prayers from henceforth
followed him. No hallowed home influences had blessed and sweetened his
miserable childhood and no tender recollections of sanctified home life
were to follow him into the great wicked world. On the contrary, he was
fleeing from his home to find some refuge, he knew not what, he knew not
where. He was going out, boy as he was, loaded down with the vices and
hungry with the passions of a man. He did not seek employment among
people that were good or in circumstances encouraging to goodness, but
just where of all places he would find most vice and learn most
wickedness--on a steamboat. One knowing his antecedents and looking out
into his future could easily have foreseen his career in vice and
crime, but would hardly have predicted for him that life of goodness and
usefulness which now for eleven wonderful years he has been leading.

He was employed on a steamboat which ran on the Tennessee river, and his
first trip was to Florence, Alabama. His mother did not know what had
become of him. He was employed in some service about the kitchen. He
slept on deck with the hands and ate with the servants. Hungry as he was
for some word or look of sympathy which, given him and followed up,
might have made him a different character, nobody showed him any
kindness. The steward of the boat on the contrary showed him some
unkindness, and was in the act of kicking him on one occasion for
something, when young Holcombe jumped at him like an enraged animal and
frightened him so badly that he was glad to drop the matter for the
present and to respect the boy for the future. On this trip he found
five dollars in money on the boat, and was honest enough to take it to
the steward for the owner.

When he returned home from this trip, strange to say, his mother so far
from giving him a severer beating than usual, as might have been
expected, did not punish him at all. She was probably too glad to get
him back and too afraid of driving him away again. But nothing could
restrain him now that he had once seen the world and made the successful
experiment of getting on in the world without anybody's help. So that he
soon went on another trip and so continued, going on four or five long
steamboat runs before he was fourteen years of age, and spending his
unoccupied time in gambling with either white men or negroes, as he
found opportunity.

After he was fourteen years old he went on the upper Mississippi river
and traveled to and from St. Louis. On the Mississippi steamers of those
days gambling was common, not only among the servants and deck-hands, it
was the pastime or the business of some of the first-class passengers
also. Sometimes when a rich planter had lost all his ready money in
gambling, he would put up a slave, male or female, that he might happen
to have with him, and after losing, would borrow money to win or buy
again the slave. Professional gamblers, luxuriously dressed and living
like princes, frequented the steamers of those days for the purpose of
entrapping and fleecing the passengers. All this only increased the
fascination of gambling for young Holcombe, and he studied and practiced
it with increasing zeal.

About this time, when he was in the neighborhood of fourteen years of
age, his mother, awaking all too late to his peril and to her duty, got
him a situation as office-boy in the office of Dr. Mandeville Thum, of
Louisville, hoping to keep him at home and rescue him from the perilous
life he had entered upon. Dr. Thum was much pleased with him, took great
interest in him, and treated him with unusual kindness. He even began
himself to teach him algebra, with the intention of making a civil
engineer of the boy. And he was making encouraging progress in his
studies and would, doubtless, have done well, had he continued.

During the time he spent in the service of Dr. Thum, he attended a
revival meeting held by the Rev. Mr. Crenshaw, at Shippingsport, and was
much impressed by what he heard. He became so awakened and interested
that he responded to the appeals that were made by this devoted and
zealous preacher and sought interviews with him. He tried his level
best, as he expresses it, to work himself up to a point where he could
feel that he was converted, a not rare, but very wrong, view of this
solemn matter. But he could not _feel_ it. While, however, he could not
get the feeling, he _determined_ to be a Christian, anyhow, a rarer and
better, but not altogether correct, view of the subject either. For a
week or ten days he succeeded in overcoming evil impulses, and in living
right, but he was led away by evil companions. Soon after this he tried
it again, and this time he succeeded for a longer time than before in
resisting temptations and following his sense of right, but was one day
persuaded to go on a Sunday steamboat-excursion to New Albany, with some
young folks from Shippingsport, which proved the occasion of his fall.
On returning home he and two other boys went part of the way on foot.
They heard a man, not far away, crying for water, and Holcombe's quick
impulse of sympathy led him to propose to go to the relief of the
sufferer. When they found he was not so bad off as they thought, the two
other boys began to abuse and mistreat the stranger. He was an unequal
match for the two, however, and as he was about to get the best of them,
young Holcombe knocked the poor man down, and they all kicked him so
severely over the head and face that when they left him he was nearly
dead. Holcombe went back the next day, and half a mile away he found the
coroner holding an inquest over the man. He was preparing to flee to
Indiana when he heard that the verdict of the jury was: "Death from
exposure to the sun."

This cowardly and wicked deed wrought in him such shame, such
self-loathing and such discouragement that he abandoned all hope and
purpose of living a better life. With a sort of feeling of desperation
and of revenge against his better nature for allowing him to yield and
stoop to such meanness, he left his position in Louisville and shipped
on a steamboat again for St. Louis. While the boat was lying at the
wharf at St. Louis he got into a difficulty with one of the deck-hands
who applied to him a very disgraceful name. Instantly young Holcombe
seized a heavy meat-cleaver and would have split the man's head in two
if the cook had not caught his arm as he swung it back for the stroke.
From St. Louis he went up the Missouri river to Omaha, engaging, as
usual, in gambling and other nameless vices.

On his second trip from Omaha to St. Louis he innocently provoked the
anger of the steward of the boat, who abused him in such a way that
Holcombe ran at him with an ice-pick, when the terrified man rushed into
the office and took refuge behind the captain. It was decided that
Holcombe should be discharged and put ashore. When the clerk called him
up to pay him off, he volunteered some reproof and abuse of the
seventeen-year-old boy. But, upon finding he was dealing with one who,
when aroused, knew neither fear nor self-control, he was glad to quiet
down and pay him his dues, as Holcombe remarked: "You may discharge me
and put me ashore, but you shall not abuse me." And they put him ashore
at Kansas City, then a small village. While waiting at Kansas City for
the next boat to St. Louis (all traveling being done in those days and
regions by water), he spent his time around bar-rooms and
gambling-houses. There he saw a different and more extensive kind of
gaming than he had ever seen before. Great quantities of money were on
the tables before the players, greater than he had ever seen, and he saw
it change hands and pass from one to another. Such a sight increased his
desire to follow such a life. So he put up his money, the wages of his
labor on the boat, and lost it--all. He spent the remainder of his stay
in Kansas City wandering around, destitute, hungry, lonely, with various
reflections on the fortunes and misfortunes of a gambler's life, till at
last he got deck-passage on a boat to St. Louis, and paid his fare by
sawing wood. During this trip his violent and revengeful temper led him
to commit an act that nearly resulted in murder. One of the deck-hands
threw down some wood which he had piled up, and Holcombe protested,
whereupon the deck-hand cursed him and said: "You little rat, I will
throw you overboard!" Mr. Holcombe replied: "I guess you won't," and
said nothing more at the time. After the man had lain down and gone to
sleep, Mr. Holcombe got a cord-stick, slipped upon him, and hit him on
the skull with all his might, completely stunning the man. "Now," says
Mr. Holcombe, speaking of this incident, "I can not understand how a man
could do so cruel a thing, but _then_ I felt I must have revenge some
way, and _I could not keep from it_."

At St. Louis he got a position on a boat for New Orleans, and soon after
arriving in that city he shipped on board a steamship for Galveston,
Texas, but returned immediately to New Orleans. Here, however, he soon
lost, in gambling, all the money he had made on the trip, and was so
entirely without friends or acquaintances that he could find no place to
sleep, and wandered about on the levee until one or two o'clock in the
morning. To add to the loneliness and dismalness of his situation, it
was during an epidemic of yellow fever in the city, and people were
dying so fast they could not bury them, but had to plow trenches and
throw the corpses in, as they bury soldiers on a battle-field. About one
or two o'clock, a colored man, on a steamboat seeing him walking around
alone, called him, and finding out his condition, took him on board the
steamer and gave him a bed. But Holcombe was so afraid the negro had
some design upon him, as there were no others on board, that he stole
away from the boat and wandered around, alone, all the rest of the

On that awful night the great deep of his heart was broken up and he
felt a sense of loneliness that he had never felt before in his life. He
was in a strange city among a strange people. He had no friends, he had
no means. He had not where to lay his head. The darkness of the night
shut off the sight of those objects which in the day would have diverted
his mind and relieved his painful reflections; and the awful stillness,
broken only by the rattling of wheels that bore away the dead, made it
seem to him as if his thoughts were spoken to him by some audible voice.
His past life came up before him, but there was in it nothing pleasant
for him to remember. It had been from his earliest recollection one
constant experience of pain and sin. He was uneasy about himself. He was
frightened at the past, and the recollection of his hard, but vain,
struggle to get his evil nature changed and bettered, cast a dark cloud
over his future. What could he do? Where could he go? Who was there
could help him? Who was there that loved him? At his own home, if home
it could be called, there was nothing but strife and cruelty and sin.
Father, he had none. He that was his father had lived a drunkard's life,
had died a drunkard's death and was buried in a drunkard's grave. And
his mother--she had no power to help him or even love him as most
mothers love their children, and as on that lone dismal night he would
have given the world to be loved. Of God's mercy and love he did not
know, he thought only of his wrath, nor had he learned how to approach
him in prayer. Alone, alone, he felt himself to be shut up between a
past that was full of sin and crime and a future that promised nothing
better. But he did think of one who had loved him and who had said she
would always love him and he felt there was truth in her soul and in her
words. It was the brown-haired, sweet-faced, strong-hearted little girl
he had left in Shippingsport. He would go back to her. She alone of all
people in the world seemed able to help him and this seemed his last,
his only hope. If she had remained true to him, and if she would love
him, the world would not seem so dreary and the future would not seem so
dark, and maybe she could help him to be a better man. "On the next
day," says Mr. Holcombe, "an acquaintance of mine from Louisville ran
across me as I was strolling about the streets, took me aboard a steamer
and made me go home with him."



As has already been said, Mr. and Mrs. Evans, the parents of Mrs.
Holcombe, were people of excellent moral character and were so careful
of their children that as long as they could prevent it, they did not
allow them to associate freely with the Shippingsport children. But of
Steve Holcombe, the worst of them all, they had a special dread. Mr.
Evans could not endure to see him or to hear his name called. And yet,
this same Steve Holcombe was in love with their own precious child, and
had now come home to ask her to marry him. Of course, he did not visit
her at her own home but he managed to see her elsewhere. He found that
she had not wavered during his absence, but that the bond of their
childhood had grown with her womanhood. And yet she knew full well his
past career and his present character. She went into it "with her eyes
open," to quote her own words. Against the will of her parents and
against the advice of her friends she adhered to her purpose to marry
Steve Holcombe when the time should come. Even his own mother, moved
with pity at the thought of the sufferings and wretchedness which this
marriage would bring the poor girl, tried to dissuade her from it and
warned her that she was going to marry "the very devil." She replied
that she knew all about it, and when asked why she then did it, her
simple answer was "because I love him."

He promised her that he would try to be a better man and _she_, as well
as _he, believed it_, though not because she expected he would some time
become a Christian and not because she had the Christian's faith and
hope. Her simple belief was that the outcome of her love would be his
reformation and return to a better life. It was not thus definitely
stated to herself by herself. It was an unconscious process of reasoning
or rather it was the deep instinct of her strong and deeply-rooted love.

Mrs. Holcombe was recently asked if, during all the years of her
husband's recklessness and disgraceful dissipation, his sins and crimes,
his cruel neglect and heartless mistreatment of herself, her love ever
faltered? She answered: "No; never. There never was a time, even when
Mr. Holcombe was at his worst, that I did not love him. It pained me, of
course, that some things should come _through_ him, but I never loved
_him_ any less." A rare and wonderful love it surely was. When she was
asked if during those dark and bitter years she ever gave up her belief
that her husband would change his life and become a good man, she
answered, "No; I never gave it up." A woman of deep Insight, of large
reading and wide observation, on hearing these replies of Mrs. Holcombe,
said: "It is the most wonderful case of love and patience and faith I
have ever known."

He had come home then to marry Mary Evans. He met her at the house of a
mutual friend and proposed an elopement. She was frightened and refused.
But he pleaded and besought her, and, wounded and vexed at what seemed a
disregard of his feelings and rights, he ended by saying, "It must be
to-night or never." Whereupon she consented, though with great
reluctance, and they went together to the house of his mother, in the
city of Louisville. But his own mother would not consent to their
marriage under such circumstances until she could first go and see if
she could get the consent of the girl's parents. Accordingly, she went
at once to Shippingsport, night as it was, and laid the case before
them. They did not consent, but saw it would do no good to undertake to
put a stop to it. So that, at the house of his mother in Louisville,
they were married, Steve Holcombe and Mary Evans, the hardened gambler
and the timid girl.

After his marriage he quit running on the river, settled down at
Shippingsport and went to fishing for a living. And it did seem for a
time that his hope was to be realized and that through the helpful
influences of his young wife he was to become a better man. He grew
steadily toward better purposes and toward a higher standard of
character, and within two or three months after their marriage they
joined the church together. Mrs. Holcombe says, however, that she does
not now believe that she was a Christian at the time. They thought in a
general way that it was right to join the church, and that it would do
them good and somehow help them to be good. If they had had some one,
wise and patient and faithful, to teach them and advise them and
sympathize with them at this time of awakening and of honest endeavor
after a spiritual life, they would probably have gone on happily and
helpfully together in it. But alas! as is true in so many, many cases
to-day, nobody understood or seemed to understand them, nobody tried or
cared to understand them; nobody cared for their souls. It was taken for
granted, then as now, that when people are gotten into the church,
nothing special is to be done for them any further, though, in fact, the
most difficult and delicate part of training a soul and developing
Christian character comes after conversion and after joining the church.
Mr. Holcombe attributes his present success in the helping and guidance
of inquiring and struggling souls to his lack on the one hand of careful
and sympathetic training in his earlier efforts to be a Christian and on
the other hand to the great benefit of such training in his later
efforts. In such a nature as his, especially, no mere form of religion
and no external bond of union with the church was sufficient. The
strength of his will, the tenacity of his old habits, the intensity of
his nature and the violence of his passions were such that only an
extraordinary power would suffice to bring him under control. It was not
long, therefore, before he was overcome by his evil nature, and he soon
gave over the ineffectual struggle and fell back into his old ways. His
poor wife soon found to her sorrow that reforming a bad man was a
greater undertaking than she had dreamed of, and was often reminded of
her mother-in-law's remark that she had married "the very devil." And
Mr. Holcombe found out, too, that his wife, good as she was, could not
make him good. Some men there are so hungry-hearted and so dependent,
that they can not endure life without the supreme and faithful and
submissive affection of a wife, but who know not how to appreciate or
treat a wife and soon lose that consideration and love for her which
are her due. Then marriage becomes tyranny on the one side and slavery
on the other.

Perhaps the reader will conclude later that this description applies all
too well to the married life of Steve Holcombe and his faithful and
brave-hearted young wife; for it was not long before he returned, in
spite of all his solemn vows and his earnest resolutions, to his old
habit of gambling and to all his evil ways. On a certain occasion not
long after he married, in company with a friend, who is at this moment
lying in the jail in Louisville for the violation of the law against
gambling, he went on a fishing excursion to Mound City, Illinois. Having
returned to the landing one night about midnight they found a
fierce-looking man sitting on the wharf-boat who said to them on
entering, "I understand there are some gamblers here and I have come to
play them, and I can whip any two men on the Ohio river," at the same
time exposing a large knife which he carried in his boot. He was
evidently a bully who thought he could intimidate these strangers and in
some underhanded way get from them their money. Mr. Holcombe did not
reply but waited till the next morning when he "sized up the man" and
determined to play against him. After they had been playing some time
Mr. Holcombe discovered that the man was "holding cards out of the pack"
on him. He said nothing, however, till the man had gotten out all the
cards he wanted, when Mr. Holcombe made a bet. The other man "raised
him," that is, offered to increase the amount. Mr. Holcombe raised him
back and so on till each one had put up all the money he had. Then the
man "showed down his hand" as the saying is, and he had the four aces.
Mr. Holcombe replied "That is a good hand, but here is a better one;"
and with that struck him a quick heavy blow that sent the man to the
floor, Mr. Holcombe took all the money and the other man began to cry
like a child and beg for it. Mr. Holcombe was instantly touched with
pity and wanted to give him back his money but his partner objected. He
did, however, give the man enough for his immediate wants and left him
some the wiser for his loss of the rest.

At the same place the owner of the storeboat left a young man in charge,
who, during the absence of his proprietor, offered to play against Mr.
Holcombe and lost all the money he had. Then he insisted on Mr.
Holcombe's playing for the clothing which he had in the store and Mr.
Holcombe won all that from him, leaving him a sadder, but it is to be
hoped a wiser, man.

Having thus once again felt the fascination of gambling and the
intoxication of success, Mr. Holcombe was impelled by these and by his
naturally restless disposition to give up altogether his legitimate
business and to return to the old life. So without returning to visit
his wife and child or even informing them of his whereabouts, he shipped
on a steamer for Memphis and thence to New Orleans.

On his return trip from New Orleans he played poker and won several
hundred dollars. On landing in Louisville, his half-brother, Mr. Wm.
Sowders, the largest fish and oyster dealer in Louisville, gave him a
partnership in his business, but they soon fell out and he quit the

He removed to Nashville, Tennessee, and opened a business of the same
kind there in connection with his brother's house in Louisville, Mr.
Holcombe shipping his vegetables and produce in return for fish and
oysters. This was early in 1860. It was a great trial for his young wife
to be taken from among her relatives and friends and put down among
people who were entire strangers, especially that she had found out in
four or five years of married life that her husband had grown away from
her, that his heart and life were in other people than his family, in
other places than his home and in others pleasures than his duty. She
knew that she could not now count on having his companionship day or
night, in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth. And to make
the outlook all the more gloomy for her, she had just passed through one
of the severest trials that had come into her life.

When an intense woman finds that she is deceived and disappointed in her
husband, and the hopes of married bliss are brought to naught, she finds
some compensation and relief in the love of her children. So it was with
Mrs. Holcombe. But just before the time came for them to remove to
Nashville, death came and took from her arms her second-born child. This
made it all the harder to leave her home to go among strangers. But
already, as a wife, she had learned that charity which suffereth long
and is kind, which seeketh not her own and which endureth all things.

Mr. Holcombe's business in Nashville was very profitable and he made
sometimes as much as fifty dollars a day, so that in a short time he had
accumulated a considerable amount of money. But his passion for
gambling remained. His wife had hoped that the sufferings and death of
their little child might soften his heart and lead him to a better life.
But it seemed to have no effect on him whatever. Though he did not
follow gambling as a profession, he engaged in it at night and in a
private way with business men.

When the active hostilities of the war came on, his communication with
Louisville was cut off and so his business was at an end. Leaving his
wife and only remaining child alone in Nashville he went to Clarksville
and engaged in the ice business. While he was there, the Kentucky
troops, who were encamped near that place, moved up to Bowling Green,
Kentucky. The sound of fife and drum and the sight of moving columns of
soldiers stirred either his patriotism or his enthusiasm so that he got
rid of his business and followed them on up to Green river in Kentucky,
and went into camp with them where he spent some time, without, however,
being sworn into service. But this short time sufficed for him and he
became satisfied that "lugging knap-sack, box and gun was harder work
than" gambling.

He quit the camp, settled down at Bowling Green, and opened a grocery
and restaurant, doing a very prosperous business. While there, he had a
severe spell of sickness and came near dying, but did not send for his
wife and child, who were still alone in Nashville. Just before the
Federal troops took possession of Bowling Green, he sold his grocery for
a large claim on the Confederate Government which a party held for some
guns sold to the Confederacy. He then rode horseback from Bowling Green
to Nashville, where he rejoined his wife and child. After another
severe spell of sickness through which his wife nursed him, he left his
family again in those trying and fearful times and went South to collect
his claim on the Confederate Government. Having succeeded in getting it
he returned to Nashville with a large sum of money.

As he had no legitimate business to occupy his time and his mind, he
returned to gambling and this is his own account of it: "Then I began
playing poker with business men in private rooms; and one of those
business men being familiar with faro banks, roped us around to a faro
room to play poker; and while we were playing, the faro dealer, who had
cappers around, opened up a brace game, and the game of poker broke up,
and I drifted over to the faro table, and did not look on long until I
began to bet, and soon lost two or three hundred dollars which I had in
my pockets, and lost a little on credit, which I paid the next morning.
I lost what I had the next day, and kept up that same racket until I was
broke. During this time I had been very liberal with the gamblers,
treated them to oyster stews and other good things; and when I got broke
I got to sitting around the gambling-house, and heard them say to each
other, 'We will have to make Steve one of the boys,' and thus it was I
became familiar with faro."


The initiation of Mr. Holcombe into the game of faro was an epoch in his
life. He was so fascinated with it, and saw so much money in it, that he
now finally and deliberately gave up all attempts at any other business
or occupation, and, removing again to Louisville, in partnership with a
gambling friend he "opened up a game" or established a house of his own
for playing faro in that city. He sent for his family thinking he was
settled for life. Alas! how little he knew of that heart of his that
knew so little of God. He found out later what St. Augustine has so
beautifully said for all humanity: "Thou hast made us for Thyself and
our hearts find no repose till they repose in Thee." It was not long
before he had lost all his money and was "dead broke" again. It was
about this time and during this residence at Louisville, that,
uncontrolled by the grace and power of God, and untouched by the love
that can forgive as it hopes to be forgiven, he committed the greatest
crime of his life.

A young man was visiting and courting a half-sister of his at
Shippingsport, and, under promise of marriage, had deceived her. When
Mr. Holcombe found it out, he felt enraged, and thought it his duty to
compel him to marry her. But knowing himself so well, and being afraid
to trust himself to speak to the young man about it, he asked his two
older half-brothers to see him and get the affair settled. They refused
to do so. Mr. Holcombe then got a pistol and looked the man up with the
deliberate intention of having the affair settled according to his
notion of what was right, or killing him. He met him at Shippingsport,
near the bank of the canal, and told him who he was--for they scarcely
knew each other. Then he reminded him of what had occurred, and said
that the only thing to be done was to marry the girl. This the man
declined to do, saying: "We are as good as married now." He had scarcely
uttered the words when Mr. Holcombe drew his derringer and shot him.
When he fell, Mr. Holcombe put his hand under the poor man's neck,
raised him up and held him until a doctor could be called. He was
touched with a great feeling of pity for his victim, and would have done
anything in his power for him. But all his pity and repentance could not
bring back the dying man. He went into a neighboring house and washed
the blood from his hands, but he could not wash the blood from his
conscience. In after years the cry of another murderer, "Deliver me from
blood-guiltiness, O, God!" was to burst from his lips, and faith in the
blood of a murdered Christ was to bring the answer of peace to his long
troubled soul. But alas! alas! he was to add crime to crime and multiply
guilt manifold before that time should come.

He was soon arrested and taken to jail, where, after some hours, he was
informed that the man was dead. Some time afterward he was tried by a
jury and acquitted, though the Commonwealth's Attorney, assisted by
paid counsel, did all he could to procure his conviction. But no human
sentence or approval of public opinion can quiet a guilty human
conscience when awakened by the God whose sole prerogative of executing
justice is guarded by His own solemn and awful words, "Vengeance is
mine; I will repay," saith the Lord. When the conscience is pressed with
a great sense of guilt, it seeks relief by the way of contrition and
repentance, or it seeks relief by a deeper plunge into sin and guilt, as
if the antidote to a poison were a larger dose of poison. There is no
middle ground unless it be insanity. Nor did Mr. Holcombe find any
middle ground, though he declares that he never allowed himself to think
about the killing of Martin Mohler, and could not bear to hear his name.
He had to _keep very busy_ in a career of sin, however, to _keep from_
thinking about it, and that is exactly the second alternative of the two
described above.

"After this," says Mr. Holcombe, "I continued gambling, traveling around
from place to place, and at last I settled down at Nashville and dealt
faro there. I took my family with me to Nashville. I gambled there for
awhile, and then came back to Louisville, where I opened a game for
working men. But when I looked at their hard hands and thought of their
suffering families, I could not bear to take their money. Then I turned
my steps toward the South and landed in Augusta, Georgia. I went to
Augusta in 1869 in connection with a man named Dennis McCarty. We opened
there a big game of faro, where I did some of the biggest gambling I
ever did in my life. On one occasion I played seven-up with a man and
beat him out of five thousand dollars, which broke him up entirely."

Let us now take a peep into his home-life: Mrs. Holcombe says that in
Augusta he was in the habit of staying out for several days and nights
at a time, a thing which he had never done before. They lived in Augusta
something over two years, and during all that time she had not one day
of peace. He was more reckless than he had ever been before. She
suffered most from his drunkenness and his ungovernable temper.
Sometimes he would come into the house in a bad humor and proceed to
vent his wrath on her and the furniture; for he was never harsh to his
children, but on the contrary, excessively indulgent, especially to his
sons. During his outbursts of anger, Mrs. Holcombe always sat perfectly
still, not in fear, but in grief; for she knew as little of fear as he.
Many a time he has come into the house in a bad humor and proceeded to
upset the dining-table, emptying all the food onto the floor and
breaking all the dishes. On one occasion he came home angry and found
his wife sitting on a sofa in the parlor. He began to complain of her
and to find fault with her, and as her silence seemed to provoke him, he
began to curse her; and as she sat and wept in silence, he grew worse
and worse, using the most dreadful oaths she ever heard. When he had
fully vented his passion, he walked out and stood awhile at the front
gate as if in a study. Then he walked back into the house where she sat,
still weeping, and said, in a mild and gentle tone: "Well, Mary, I was
pretty mad awhile ago, wasn't I?" Then he began to apologize and to
tell her how sorry he was for having talked to her so harshly, and wound
up by petting her. He was at times almost insanely jealous of his wife,
and if he saw her even talking with a man, no matter whom, it put him in
a rage which ended only when he had vented it in the most abusive
language to her.

On another occasion, while they were living in Augusta, an incident
occurred which illustrates at once her unexampled devotion and his
unexampled depravity. On the night in question she had gone to bed, but
not to sleep. About midnight he came staggering in and fell full length
on the floor at the foot of the stairway. She tried to help him up, but
he was so dead drunk she could not lift him. She left him lying at the
foot of the stairway and went back to bed. But, though she was very
tired, she could not endure the thought of lying in a comfortable bed
while her husband was on the floor. She got up, therefore, and went down
stairs again and sat on the floor beside him in her night-dress till
morning. Then she left him and went up stairs to dress, that she might
be prepared for the duties of the day. When, some time afterward, she
came back to where he was lying, he abused and cursed her for leaving
him alone, and, before his tirade was ended he was sorry, and tried to
smooth it over by saying: "I did not think _you_ would leave me."

Mrs. Holcombe says concerning her life at this period: "I usually walked
the floor, after the children were in bed, till past midnight waiting
for him to come home. One night in particular, between eleven and
twelve o'clock, I heard a shot fired and I heard a man cry out not far
from the house. I thought it was Mr. Holcombe, and my agony was almost
more than I could bear while waiting for day to come, for I was sure
somebody had shot him. But between three and four o'clock In the morning
he came in, and his coming brought me great relief." "Then another
time," she goes on to say, "I was sitting by the window when an express
wagon drove up with a coffin in it. The driver said to me, 'Does this
coffin belong here?' I understood him to say, 'Does Mr. Holcombe live
here?' I thought it was Mr. Holcombe and that he had been killed and
sent home to me in his coffin. The driver repeated his question twice,
but I was so paralyzed I could not answer him a word."

From Augusta Mr. Holcombe removed with his family to Atlanta, where he
made a good deal of money. Mrs. Holcombe says concerning their stay in
Atlanta, "My life at Atlanta was no better than it had been at Augusta.
Much of my time was spent in walking the floor and grieving. Often in my
loneliness and sorrow my lips would cry out, 'How can I endure this life
any longer?' I had not then become a Christian and did not know what I
do now about taking troubles and burdens to God. And yet I believe that
it was God who comforted my heart more than once when my sorrow was more
than I could bear. I cried to Him without knowing Him. All these years I
tried to raise my children right, and I taught them to respect their
father. I hid his sins from them when I could, and when I could not, I
always excused him to them the best I could." But Mr. Holcombe instead
of aiding his wife's efforts to bring up their children in the right
path, often perversely put obstacles in her way and increased her
difficulties, though he did try to conceal his drinking from them, and
would never allow his boys to have or handle cards. So in many things he
was a combination of contradictions. He could not endure, however, for
his wife to punish the children, and especially the boys. On one
occasion he came home and the younger son was still crying from the
punishment inflicted by his mother for wading in a pond of water with
his shoes on. Mr. Holcombe asked him what was the matter, and when he
found out, he was so angry he made the boy go and wade in the pond again
with his shoes on. And yet Mrs. Holcombe's love for her husband "never
wavered," and she loved him "when he was at his worst."

While Mr. Holcombe was living in Atlanta he attended the races in
Nashville, and while there, two men came along that had a new thing on
cards, and they beat him out of five or six thousand dollars--broke him,
in fact. After he was broke, he went to one of the men by the name of
Buchanan and said, "I see that you have got a new trick on cards, and as
I am well acquainted through the South, if you will give it away to me,
we can go together and make money." The man, after some hesitation,
agreed to do so. They went in partnership and traveled through the South
as far as Key West, Florida, stopping at the principal cities and making
money everywhere. At Key West he and his partner had a split and
separated. From Key West Mr. Holcombe crossed over to Cuba, and spent
some time in Havana. In seeking adventures in that strange city he made
some very narrow escapes, and was glad to get away. On landing at New
Orleans, though he had a good deal of money, the accumulations of his
winnings on his late tour through the South, he got to playing against
faro bank and lost all he had. But he fell in with a young man about
twenty years of age, from Georgia, on his way to Texas, and became very
intimate with him. Finding that this young man had a draft for $1,050,
by the most adroit piece of maneuvering he got another man, a third
party, to win it from him for himself, and gave this third party $50 for
doing it. Then he took charge of the young man in his destitution and
distress, paid his bill for a day or two at a hotel in New Orleans, and
gave him enough to pay his way on to Texas. The young man departed
thinking Mr. Holcombe was one of the kindest men he had ever met. The
gentle reader, if he be a young man who thinks himself wise enough to be
intimate with strangers, might learn a useful little lesson from this
young Georgian's experience as herein detailed.

From New Orleans, Mr. Holcombe went by river to Shreveport, Louisiana,
where he met again with his former partner, Buchanan. They made up their
differences and went into partnership again, and were successful in
winning a good deal of money together. But afterward their fortunes
changed and they both lost all they had. This soured Buchanan, who had
never cordially liked Holcombe since their quarrel and separation at Key
West. Mr. Holcombe himself shall narrate what took place afterward:
"During this time we had been sleeping in a room together. Buchanan knew
that I had two derringer pistols. He got Phil Spangler to borrow one,
and I feel satisfied he had snaked the other. A friend of mine, John
Norton, asked me to deal faro bank, and I got broke, and the night that
I did, I put the box in the drawer pretty roughly, and made some pretty
rough remarks. Buchanan was present, but took no exception to what I
said that night. The next morning, however, in the bar-room he began to
abuse me, and we abused each other backward and forward until I had
backed clear across the street. During this time I had my derringer
pistol out in my hand. He had a big stick in his hand and a knife in his
bosom. When we got across the street I made this remark, 'Mr. Buchanan,
I do not want to kill you,' He was then about ten feet from me, and made
a step toward me. I took deliberate aim at his heart and pulled the
trigger, but the pistol snapped. He walked away from me then. I ran up
to the hotel where Aleck Doran was, knowing that his six-shooter was
always in good condition. I borrowed it and started to hunt Buchanan up,
and when I found him, he came up to me with his hand out. We made up and
have been good friends ever since. After we left there, these parties
with whom we had been playing, got to quarreling among themselves about
the different games, and the result was that John Norton killed Phil
Spangler and another one of the men. And such is the life of the
gambler." And such is too often, alas! the death of the gambler.

From Shreveport he went back to Atlanta where his family, consisting now
of his wife, two sons and two daughters, had remained. But he could not
be contented at any one place. It seemed impossible for him to be
quiet, no matter how much money he was making. Indeed, the more he got
the more disquieted he seemed, and yet it was his passion to win money.
Sometimes he would go to his home with his pockets full of it and would
pour it out on the floor and tell the children to take what they wanted.
He was so restless when he had won largely that he could not sleep; and
his wife says she has known him to get up after having retired late and
walk back to the city to his gambling house to find somebody to play
with. He seemed to want to lose his money again. In fact, he seemed
happier when he was entirely without money than when he had a great

Not contented, then, at Atlanta, he went from there to Beaufort, South
Carolina, to gamble with the officers of the navy. He got into a game of
poker with some of them and won all the money. Then he was ready to quit
and leave the place, but he got into a difficulty with a man there whose
diamond pin he had in pawn for money lent him, and though it be at the
risk of taxing the reader's patience with these details, yet, in order
to show vividly what a gambler's life is, we shall let Mr. Holcombe give
his own account of the affair:

"This man was the bully of the place. I had his diamond pin in pawn for
seventy-five dollars, and another little fellow owed me eighteen
dollars, or something like that, and I wanted him to pay me. Instead of
paying me, however, he began to curse and abuse me; and I hit him on the
nose, knocked him over and bloodied it, and he was bleeding like
everything. He got over into the crowd; and under the excitement of the
moment, I drew my pistol and started toward him. This big bully caught
me gently by the vest, and asked me quietly to put up my pistol. I did
so. Then he said, 'You can't shoot anybody here,' I said 'I do not want
to shoot anybody.' I then asked him to turn me loose. He again said 'You
can't shoot anybody here.' I then said, 'What is the matter with you?
Are we not friends?' And he said 'No,' and made the remark, 'I will take
your pistol away from you and beat your brains out.' I struck him and
knocked him over on a lounge, but he rose up and came at me, and we had
quite a tussle around the room. The others all ran and left the house,
and the barkeeper hid.

"When we separated, the big fellow had quite a head on him; was all
beaten up. He then went into the other room and sat down, and the
barkeeper came in where I was. I was willing to do or say anything to
reconcile this man, and I said to the barkeeper that I was sorry of the
difficulty, as I liked the man, which was a lie, and a square one, for I
hated him from the moment I saw him. When he heard what I said, he came
sauntering into the room, and I said to him, 'I am sorry this occurred,
but you called me such a name that I was compelled to do as I did. You
know that you are a brave man; and if any man had called you such a
name, you would have done just as I did.' He called me a liar, and at it
we went again. We separated ourselves every time. I got the best of the
round. After that he stepped up to the sideboard and got a tumbler; but
I looked him in the eye so closely that he could not throw it at me, and
he put it down. After a little more conversation, he started to lift up
a heavy spittoon of iron. I stepped back a foot or two, drew my pistol,
and told him if he did not put that down, I would kill him. He put it
down. I then told the barkeeper he must come in there and witness this
thing, because I expected to have to kill him. After the barkeeper came
in, the man went out, saying, 'You had a gun on me to-night, and I will
have one on you to-morrow.' Feeling satisfied if I remained, one of us
would have to be killed; and feeling that I did not want to kill him,
neither did I want to get killed on a cold collar, I concluded to walk
out of the place. I got the barkeeper to promise to ship my trunk to
Atlanta, and walked through the swamps to a station fourteen miles away,
arriving there some time next day." Other such experiences Mr. Holcombe
had enough to fill a volume perhaps, but these are sufficient to give an
impression of what a gambler's life is and to show what _was_ the life
of that same Steve Holcombe who now for eleven years has been a pattern
of Christian usefulness and zeal.

After spending a short time at Atlanta, he went to Hot Springs,
Arkansas, and then again to Louisville, where he opened a faro bank and
once more settled down for life, as he thought. _At any rate for the
first time in his life he thought of saving a little money_, and he did
so, investing it in some houses in the West End. Poor man! he had
wandered _nearly_ enough. He had almost found that rest can not be
found, at least in the way he was seeking it, and the time was
approaching when he would be _prepared_ to hear of another sort and
source of rest. Until he should be prepared, it would be vain to send
him the message. To give the truth to some people to-day would be to
cast pearls before swine, to give it to them to-morrow may be
re-clothing banished princes with due tokens of welcome and of royalty.
To have told Steve Holcombe of Christ yet awhile would probably have
excited his wonder and disgust; to tell him a little later will be to
welcome a long-lost, long-enslaved and perishing child to his Father's
house and to all the liberty of the sons of God.

So _he thought_ of saving a little money and of investing in some
cottages in the west end of Louisville. And God was thinking, too, and
He was thinking thoughts of kindness and of love for the poor wicked
outcast. He was _more_ than thinking, He was getting things ready. But
the time was not yet. A few more wanderings and the sinning one,
foot-sore, heart-sore and weary will be willing to come to the Father's
house and rest. Truth and God are always ready, but man is not always
ready. "I have many things to say to you, but you can not bear them

His income at Louisville at this time was between five and seven
thousand dollars a year. He had a large interest in the bank and some
nights he would take in hundreds of dollars. But he could not be
contented. The roving passion seized him again, and in company with a
young man of fine family in Louisville, who had just inherited five
thousand dollars, he set out on a circuit of the races. But in
Lexington, the very first place they visited, they lost all they had,
including the young man's jewelry, watch and diamond pin. They got more
money and other partners and started again on the circuit and they made
money. At Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mr. Holcombe withdrew from the party,
just for the sake of change, just because he was tired of them; and in
playing against the faro banks at Kalamazoo he lost all he had again.
Then he traveled around to different places playing against faro banks
and "catching on" when he could. He visited Fort Wayne, Cleveland,
Utica, Saratoga and New York. At New York he was broke and he had become
so disgusted with traveling around and so weary of the world that he
determined he _would_ go back to Louisville and settle down for life. He
did return to Louisville and got an interest in two gambling houses,
making for him an income again of five thousand dollars a year.

During all these years his faithful wife, though not professing to be a
Christian herself, endeavored in all possible ways to lead her children
to become Christians. She taught them to pray the best she could, and
sent them to Sunday-school. After her first child was born she gave up
those worldly amusements which before she had, to please her husband,
participated in with him--a good example for Christian mothers. She was
in continual dread lest the children should grow up to follow the
father's example. She always tried to conceal from them the fact of his
being a gambler. The two daughters, Mamie and Irene, did not, when
good-sized girls and going to school, know their father's business. They
were asked at school what his occupation was, and could not tell. More
than once they asked their mother, but she evaded the question by
saying, "He isn't engaged in any work just now," or in some such way.
Mrs. Holcombe begged her husband again and again not to continue
gambling. She says, "I told him I was willing to live on bread and
water, if he would quit it." And she would not lay up any of the money
he would give her, nor use any more of it than was necessary for herself
and the children, for she felt that it was not rightly gotten. And
because she would neither lay it up nor use it lavishly, she had nothing
to do but let the children take it to play with and to give away. Under
the training of such a mother with such patience, love and faith, it is
no great marvel, and yet perhaps it is a great marvel, that Willie, the
eldest child, notwithstanding the father's example, grew up to discern
good, to desire good and to be good. While he was still a child, when
his father came home drunk, the wounded and wondering child would beg
him not to drink any more. Mrs. Holcombe says of him further, "When
Willie would see his father on the street drinking, I have seen him,
when twelve years old, jump off the car, go to his father and beg him
with tears to go home with him. And I never saw Mr. Holcombe refuse to

In this way the boy grew up with a disgust and horror of drunkenness and
drinking, and when in the year 1877 the great temperance movement was
rolling over the country and meetings were held everywhere, and in
Louisville also, though the boy had never drunk any intoxicating liquor
in his life, he signed the pledge. He took his card home with his name
signed to it, and when his father saw it, he was very angry about it.
And yet, strange to say, on that very evening the father himself
attended the meeting; and on the next evening he went again, in company
with his wife. During the progress of the meeting he turned to his wife
and said, "Mary, shall I go up and sign the pledge?" Concealing her
emotions as best she could, lest the show of it might disgust and repel
him, she replied, "Yes, Steve, Willie and I would be very glad if you
would," and he did so.

Some time after that, Willie asked his father and mother if they would
accompany him to the Broadway Baptist church in the city to see him
baptized. While witnessing the baptism of his son, Mr. Holcombe made up
his mind that he would quit gambling, and as he went out of the church,
he said to his wife, "_I will never play another card_."

Some friend of his who overhead the remark said to him, "Steve, you had
better study about that." He answered, "No, I have made up my mind. I
wish you would tell the boys for me that they may count me out. They may
stop my interest in the banks. I am done."

His wife, who was hanging on his arm, could no longer now conceal her
emotions, nor did she try. She laughed and cried for joy. God was saying
to her, "Mary, thy toils and tears, thy sufferings and patience have
come up for a memorial before me, and I will send a man who will tell
thee what thou oughtest to do, and speak to thee words whereby thou and
all thy house shall be saved."

Mr. Holcombe was as good as his word. He did give up gambling from that
time. But he had had so little experience in business that he was at a
great loss what to do. Finally, however, he decided to go into the
produce and commission business as he had had some experience in that
line years before in Nashville, and as that required no great outlay of
money for a beginning. All the money he had was tied up in the houses
which he had bought in Portland, the western suburb of Louisville. He
was living in one of these himself, but he now determined to rent it out
and to remove to the city that he might be nearer his business.

One day in October, 1877, a stranger entered his place of business, on
Main street, and, calling for Mr. Holcombe, said: "I see you have a
house for rent in Portland."

"Yes," said he, "I have."

"Well," said the stranger, "I like your house; but as my income is not
large, I should be glad to get it at as low a rent as you can allow."

Mr. Holcombe replied: "I am rather pressed for money now myself, but
maybe we can make a trade. What is your business?"

"I am a Methodist minister, and am just sent to the church in Portland,
and you know it can not pay very much of a salary."

"That settles it then, sir," said Mr. Holcombe, with that abruptness and
positiveness which are so characteristic of him, "I am a notorious
gambler, and, of course, you would not want to live in a house of mine."

He expected that would be the end of the matter, and he looked to see
the minister shrink from him and leave at once his presence and his
house. On the contrary, the minister, though knowing nothing of Mr.
Holcombe's recent reformation, yet seeing his sensitiveness, admiring
his candor and hoping to be able to do him some good, laid his hand
kindly on his shoulder and said:

"Oh no, my brother; I do not object to living in your house; and who
knows but that this interview will result in good to us both, in more
ways than one?"

Mr. Holcombe's impression was that ministers of the Gospel were, in
their own estimation, and in fact, too good for gamblers to touch the
hem of their garments, and that ministers had, for this reason, as
little use and as great contempt for gamblers as the average gambler
has, on the very same account, for ministers. But he found, to his
amazement, that he was mistaken, and when the minister invited him to
come to his church he said, not to the minister, yet he said:

"Yes, I will go, I never had a good man to call me 'brother' before. And
he knows what I am, for I told him. I am so tired; I am so spent. Maybe
he can tell me what to do and how to go. If Sunday ever comes, I will go
to that man's church."

And when Sunday came the minister and the gambler faced each other
again. With a great sense of his responsibility and insufficiency the
preacher declared the message of his Lord, not as he wished, but as he
could. To the usual invitation to join the church nobody responded.
After the benediction, however, Mr. Holcombe walked down the aisle to
the pulpit and said to the minister: "How does a man join the church?"
He had not attended church for twenty-three years, and had been engaged
in such a life that he had forgotten what little he knew. The minister
informed him.

"Then," said he, "may I join your church?"

"You are welcome, and more than welcome," replied the minister, and the
people wondered.

"From the day I joined his church," says Mr. Holcombe, "that minister
seemed to understand me better than I understood myself. He seemed to
know and did tell me my own secrets. He led me into an understanding of
myself and my situation. I saw now what had been the cause of my
restlessness, my wanderings, my weariness and my woe. I saw what it was
I needed, and I prayed as earnestly as I knew how from that time. I
attended all the services--preaching, Sunday-school, prayer-meeting,
class-meeting in any and all kinds of weather, walking frequently all
the way from Second street to Portland, a distance of three miles,
because I was making too little to allow me to ride on the street-cars.
But with all this, I felt something was yet wanting. I began to see that
I could not make any advance in goodness and happiness so long as I was
burdened with the unforgiven guilt of forty years of sin and crime. It
grew worse and heavier until I felt I must have relief, if relief could
be had. One day I went in the back office of my business house, after
the others had all gone home, and shut myself up and determined to stay
there and pray until I should find relief. The room was dark, and I had
prayed, I know not how long, when such a great sense of relief and
gladness and joy came to me that it seemed to me as if a light had
flooded the room, and the only words I could utter or think of were
these three: 'Jesus of Nazareth.' It seemed to me they were the sweetest
words I had ever heard. Never, till then, did the feeling of
blood-guiltiness leave me. It was only the blood of Christ that could
wash from my conscience the blood of my fellowman."

As in his case, so always, in proportion as a man is in earnest about
forsaking sin, will he desire the assurance of the forgiveness of past
sins, and _vice versa_. But Mr. Holcombe did not find this an end of
difficulty and trial and conflict--far from it. Indeed, it was the
preparation for conflict, and the entrance upon it. Hitherto, in his old
life, he had made no resistance to his evil nature, and there was no
conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil. But such a nature as
his was not to be conquered and subjected to entire and easy control in
a day. His passions would revive, his old habits would re-assert
themselves, poverty pinched him, people misunderstood him, failure after
failure in business discouraged him. Hence, he needed constant and
careful guidance and an unfailing sympathy. And he thus refers to the
help he received from his pastor in those trying days:

"Seeing the great necessity of giving me much attention and making me
feel at home in his presence and in the presence of his wife, he spent
much time in my company, and with loving patience bore with my
ignorance, dullness and slowness. In this way I became so much attached
to him that I had no need or desire for my old associations. He led me
along till I was entirely weaned from all desire for my old sinful life
and habits. I think he gave me this close attention for about two years,
when he felt that it was best for me to lean more upon God and less upon

Mr. Holcombe received continual kindness and encouragement from the
minister's wife also, who not only had for him always a cordial greeting
and a kindly word of cheer, but who took great pleasure in entertaining
him frequently in their home. It was a perpetual benediction to him to
know her, to see the daily beauty of her faithful life, to feel the
influence of her heavenly spirit. With quick intuition she recognized
the sincerity and intensity of Mr. Holcombe's desires and efforts to be
a Christian man; with ready insight she comprehended the situation and
saw his difficulties and needs, and with a very Christlike
self-forgetfulness and joy she ministered to this struggling soul. Not
only Mr. Holcombe, but all who ever knew her, whether in adversity or
prosperity, whether in sickness or in health, admired the beauty and
felt the quiet unconscious power of her character. As for Mr. Holcombe
himself, his mingled feeling of reverence for her saintliness and of
gratitude for her sisterliness led him always to speak of her in terms
that he did not apply to any other person whom he knew. He could never
cease to marvel that one of her education, position and tender
womanliness should take such pains and have such pleasure in helping,
entertaining and serving such as he. A few years only was he blessed
with the helpfulness of her friendship. In 1885, when she was just past
the age of thirty-one, her tender feet grew so tired that she could go
no further in this rough world, and Christ took her away. Few were more
deeply bereaved than the poor converted gambler, and when he was asked
if he would serve as one of the pallbearers on the occasion of her
funeral, he burst into tears and replied, "I am not worthy, I am not
worthy." If those who knew her--little children of tender years, young
men and women, perplexed on life's threshold and desiring to enter in
at the strait gate, people of rank and wealth, people in poverty and
ignorance, worldly-minded people whom she had unconsciously attracted,
experienced Christians whom she unconsciously helped, and, most of all,
her husband and children who knew her best--if all these should be
asked, all these would agree that St. Paul has written her fitting

    "Well reported of for good works;
    If she have brought up children,
    If she have lodged strangers,
    If she have washed the saints' feet,
    If she have relieved the afflicted,
    If she have diligently followed every good work."

It was not long after Mr. Holcombe's conversion before his entire family
became members of the church. Though this was to him cause of
unspeakable joy and gratitude, it did not mark the limit of his love and
zeal. From the time of his conversion he had a deep and brotherly
sympathy for all who were without the knowledge and joy he had come into
the possession of, but he felt a special interest in the salvation of
the wretched and the outcast, and of the men of his own class and former
occupation who were as ignorant as he was of these higher things and as
shut out from opportunities of knowing them. So that from the very
beginning of his Christian life he undertook to help others, and when
they were in need, not stopping to think of any other way, he took them
to his own house. This, with the support of his own family, increased
the cost of his living to such an extent that he was soon surprised and
pained to find that he could not carry on his business. He had taken to
his home, also, the father of his wife, whom he cared for till his
death. And in a short time he was so pressed for means that he had to
mortgage his property for money to go into another kind of business.

When it was first reported that Steve Holcombe, one of the most
successful, daring and famous gamblers in the South, had been converted
and had joined the church, the usual predictions were made that in less
than three months, etc., he would see his mistake or yield to
discouragements and return to his old life of self-indulgence and ease.
But when men passed and repassed the corner where this man had a little
fruit store and was trying to make an honest living for his family,
their thoughts became more serious and their questions deepen Steve had
got something or something had got him. He was not the man of former
times. And most of his friends, the gamblers included, when they saw
this, were glad, and while they wondered wished him well. But there was
one man engaged in business just across the street from the little fruit
store, who with a patronizing air bought little fruits from Mr.
Holcombe, and then spent his leisure in discussions and arguments to
prove not only that he had made a big blunder in becoming a Christian,
but that religion was all a sham, the Bible a not very cunningly devised
fable and that Mr. Ingersoll was the greatest man of the day, because he
had shattered these delusions. Mr. Holcombe patiently heard it all, and
perhaps did not frame as cogent or logical an answer to this man's
sophistries as he could do now, but he felt in his own heart and he saw
in his own life that he was a new man. He felt a profound pity for his
friend who knew not nor cared for any of these things, and he lived on
his humble, patient, uncomplaining Christian life. It may not be out of
place to add as the sequel of this little episode that the testimony of
this man across the way, who was such an unbeliever and scoffer, is
given elsewhere in this volume, and doubtless will be recognized by the
reader. Mr. Holcombe's life was too much for his logic.

When Mr. Holcombe had failed in every kind of business that he
undertook, his property was forced on the market and nothing was left
him from the sale of it. Christian men of means might have helped him
and ought to have helped him, but for reasons known to themselves they
did not. Perhaps they were afraid to take hold of so tough a case as
Steve Holcombe was known to have been, perhaps they saw he was not an
experienced business man, perhaps they felt indisposed to help a man who
was so incapable of economy and so generous in entertaining his friends
and helping the needy. Greatly pressed, he went at last to his
half-brother with whom in former years he had been associated as partner
in business, and putting his case and condition before him asked for
employment. But his half-brother declined on the spot, giving as his
short and sole reason that he believed Mr. Holcombe was a hypocrite and
was making believe that he was a Christian for some sinister purpose.

This was "the most unkindest cut" of all and for days the poor wounded
man felt the iron in his soul. During his former life he would have
cared nothing for such treatment. A ruined character is benumbed like a
paralyzed limb, but a revived and repentant soul is full of sensitive
nerves and feels the slightest slight or the smallest wound. He found
out months afterward, however, that his half-brother was already losing
his mind and was not responsible for this extraordinary behavior. He
tried and his friends tried everywhere and every way to find employment
for him, but he could get nothing to do. His money was all gone, his
property was all gone, he sold his piano, he sold his Brussels carpets,
he removed from place to place, following cheaper rent till at last he
took his family to a garret. It was now two years since his conversion.
During these two years he had done nothing to bring reproach on his
profession or to give ground for a doubt of his sincerity. He had not
only lived a consistent life himself, he had striven earnestly to help
others to do so. He assisted in holding meetings in Shippingsport, and
the people marveled and magnified the grace of God in him. But he was
with his family on the point of starvation. When at last everything had
been tried and no relief was found, in his desperation he thought of the
improbable possibility of finding something, at least something to do,
in the West, and he decided to go to Colorado.

In Louisville, where he was suffering and where his family was
suffering, he could have returned to gambling and have been independent
in a month. He could have been living in a comfortable house; he could
have had, as he was wont, the best the market afforded for his table, he
could have decked himself with jewelry and diamonds, he could soon have
been once more in position to spend, as he had regularly done, from two
to ten dollars a day for the mere luxuries of life. He could have done
all this and he could do all this even yet; for even yet he is in the
prime of life and power. But he did not, and he does not. He did not
turn Christian because he had played out as a gambler. He did not turn
to Christianity because fortune had turned away from him. But he turned
away himself from fortune when he was fortune's pet, in order to turn to
a better and worthier life.

When he had decided to go to Colorado, he went to his pastor and told
him. The pastor was astonished, alarmed. After two years and more of
faithful and self-denying service was his friend and brother about to
give away? Was this a plan to get away into a "far country" where he
might turn again to sin? He reasoned with him, he appealed to him, he
besought him. He tried to picture the perils of the journey and the
perils of the place. He reminded Mr. Holcombe of the condition, as far
as he knew it, of his family. But all to no purpose. He committed his
friend trustfully to God and gave it up.

"But," said the pastor, "how are you going to get there?"

"I am going to walk from place to place and work my way out. I can not
stay here, I can get nothing to do and I must try elsewhere. I am

"Then," said the pastor, "if your mind is made up and you are going, I
can let you have some money. I have about sixty-one dollars in bank
which I laid aside when a single man, to use for Christ, and if that
will pay your way out, you can have it. Christ has called for his own."

He accepted it with tears, left a few dollars of it with his wife and,
with the rest, started for Leadville.

When he first landed at Denver, he met an old friend, John Chisholm,
with whom he had gambled in Atlanta. This man had left Atlanta on
account of having killed somebody there, and had made a considerable
amount of money in California. He had now come to Denver and opened a
game of faro. When he saw Mr. Holcombe on the street, he said: "You are
just the man I want. I have opened a game of faro here, and I am afraid
I can not protect myself. I will give you a good interest if you will go
in with me."

Mr. Holcombe replied: "Yes, John; but I am a Christian now, and can not
deal faro."

"I know," said the man, "you were a Christian in Louisville, but you are
a long ways from there."

"Yes," Mr. Holcombe said, "but a true Christian is a Christian

Notwithstanding, he insisted on Mr. Holcombe's going to his room to see
another old Atlanta friend. He did so, but felt so much out of place
there that he did not remain ten minutes.

From Denver he concluded to go to Silver Cliff instead of Leadville.
When he arrived in that strange village, his money was all gone and he
lacked fifteen cents of having enough to pay the stage-driver. "It was
about sundown," says he, "when I got there. I did not know a living
soul. I had not a cent of money. My courage failed me. I broke down and
wept like a child."

Having a good trunk he knew he would not be asked to pay in advance, and
he went to a hotel and spent the night. In the morning he walked out
after breakfast to see what sort of a place he had gotten into. As he
stood at the post-office, he saw across the street what he recognized as
a gambling-house, "everything wide open," no attempt at concealment or
privacy. He asked some one out of curiosity who was the proprietor, and
found that two of his old acquaintances were running the house. He could
easily, and at once, have gotten a situation with them, and could soon
have had money to relieve his own wants and the wants of his family. But
he had already stood severe tests, and had now arrived at a point where
he had no inclination whatever to gamble and felt no temptation to
procure money in that way or from that source. He did not even look for
the proprietors of the establishment or let them know he was in the
village. But while he was standing there, thinking of his condition and
wondering what he should do, he overheard a man say that a dining-room
waiter was wanted at the Carbonate hotel, the one at which he had spent
the night. He went at once to the hotel, made application for the place,
and was accepted at a salary of twenty-five dollars a month and board.

He was filled with thankfulness and joy, and he has declared since, that
though, on one night during his gambling life, he had won three thousand
dollars in money, the satisfaction which he felt then could not be
compared with that which he felt now when the hotel-proprietor gave him
this position of dining-room waiter _at a salary of twenty-five dollars
a month_. He entered at once upon his duties. To his great surprise he
found several Louisville gentlemen stopping at the hotel, some of whom
had known him in other days and circumstances, and whom he had boarded
with at hotels where he paid five dollars a day, with two to four
dollars a day, extra, for wine and cigars. But, notwithstanding that, he
was not ashamed of his present position. On the contrary, he was very
thankful for it and happy in it. He did such faithful service there that
the proprietor became interested in him and showed him much kindness.

During his stay at Silver Cliff he did not neglect any opportunity of
doing good to others.

One day, when he was standing in the door of the post-office, a man,
whose name he afterward found to be James Lewis, came in, got a letter
and sat down on the step right under Mr. Holcombe to read it. As he read
it, he was much affected and tears were running down his hardened face.
Mr. Holcombe became so interested that he read the man's letter over his
shoulder. It was from his wife, who, with her three children, had left
her husband on account of his drunkenness. Mr. Holcombe made up his mind
he would see if he could do something for the poor man to better his
condition, and, if possible, bring about the reunion of the family. He
did not like to approach him then and there. He watched him till he got
up and moved away and started down through an alley. As he emerged from
the alley, at the farther end, Mr. Holcombe, who had gone around another
way, met him. Little did the man suspect that the stranger who accosted
him knew his trouble and his family secrets. Mr. Holcombe, with that
tact which his knowledge of men had given him, spoke to him kindly, but
in a way that would not arouse his suspicions. He told him, after a
little while, his own condition in that far-off land away from his
family and friends. He found out from the man where he stayed. He went
to see him, found that he slept in a stable, provided him with some
things he needed, and then got down on his knees there in the stable and
prayed for him.

Finally, when the proper time had come, Mr. Holcombe showed him a Murphy
pledge and asked him if he would not sign it. He told him what he
himself had been before, and what he had become, since signing that
pledge. The man gave Mr. Holcombe his confidence, unbosomed himself to
him and eagerly sought counsel. He signed the pledge also and said he
would, by God's help, give up his sins that had separated him from a
loving wife, and would try to live a better life. Mr. Holcombe wrote to
the man's wife informing her of the change in her husband and the effort
he was making to do right. She came at once to Silver Cliff and Mr.
Holcombe had the pleasure of seeing them reunited and ate with them in
their humble cabin.

When he had been some time at the Carbonate hotel, he found a position
where he could make more money and worked there till he had saved enough
to buy an outfit for "prospecting" in the mountains. This outfit
consisted of a little donkey, several "agricultural implements for
subverting _terra firma_" such as spade, pick, etc., and provisions for
two or three weeks. Having procured these and packed his burro, as the
donkey is called out West, he and his partner started for the
mountains. Mr. Holcombe kept a sort of diary of this part of his Western
trip, and we give it here, including the time from his leaving Silver
Cliff to his return to Denver.


Tuesday, May 27, 1879.--I entered into partnership with a man by the
name of J. E. White from Wisconsin for prospecting in the mountains. He
had some blankets at Oak Creek, a distance of thirty miles from Silver
Cliff. We walked out there one day and returned the next. The road was
very full of dust and gravel. My shoes would get full of it. Every
little mountain stream we came to I would stop and wash my feet, which
was very refreshing. This made me think of the blessed Son of God and
why, when he was a guest at different places, they brought him water for
his feet,

    "Those blessed feet
    Which, eighteen hundred years ago, were nailed
    For our advantage on the bitter cross."

Wednesday, May 28.--After having bought a burro and a two weeks'
grub-stake, J. E. White and myself started for the Sangre de Christo
mountain, a wild, high range of the Rockies. We paid for our burro
twenty-one dollars, and for our grub seven dollars. It consisted of
flour, coffee, sugar, bacon, salt, pepper, potatoes and baking powder.
We had a coffee-pot, frying-pan, tin cups. We used our pocket-knives
instead of table-knives. We had a butcher-knife and some teaspoons. With
these and some other things we packed our burro and started. It was a
funny sight. It all looked like a house on top of the poor little
animal which was not much larger than a good sized Newfoundland dog. But
it was strong, faithful and sure-footed and could go anywhere in the
mountains that a man could. We traveled this first day about ten miles
and camped in a gulch at night. Had a hard storm. Our only shelter was a
hut made of boughs of trees, Indian fashion.

Thursday, May 29.--We moved up the gulch as far as we could for the
snow. Did some little prospecting of which neither of us knew very much,
and, of course, we found nothing. Every once in awhile, White would pick
up a rock, look at it wisely and say "This is good float. I think there
is a paying lode up on this mountain somewhere." Up the mountain we go
about 9,000 feet above the sea level. We turned over all the stones and
dug up the earth every now and then and toward night we went to work to
make our hut which we got about half finished. During the night snow
fell about three inches. We were on the side of the mountain. Could
hardly keep the fire from rolling down the side of the mountain. Could
hardly keep our victuals from upsetting. This and the snow made me
weaken considerably, and I did say in my heart I wished I was back home.

Friday, May 30.--We prospected the second ridge, south of Horn's Peak,
going up about 300 feet above timber line, or about 12,000 feet above
the sea-level. There were no indications of minerals. About five miles
off we could see a beautiful lake. I was very anxious to go to it, but
White objected. Said it would be dangerous, might be caught in a
snow-storm. The sun was shining brightly. Weather was very pleasant. I
could not conceive of a snow-storm on the 30th of May. So I persuaded
him to go. After we had gone some distance, all of a sudden it began to
blow up cold and in a little while to snow. We turned our faces toward
camp. Just then we saw one of those beautiful Rocky mountain spotted
grouse. We were so hungry for something fresh to eat, we took several
shots at it with White's pistol. But the blinding snow made it
impossible for us to hit it. We had no grouse for supper.

It grew cold very rapidly and in a very short time it seemed to me as
cold as I ever felt it in my life. My moustache froze stiff. At last the
storm got so heavy, and, the evening coming on, we could hardly see our
way. The side of the mountain was full of dead timber, which was slick
like glass and, as everything was covered with snow, we could not always
see where to put our feet down, and to have slipped would have been
almost certain death. Once White did slip and but for having the pick
and sticking it in a soft place, he would have been killed. We got lost
and wandered about over the mountain side till late in the evening when
we providentially struck on our camp. We were hungry, tired and wet. Our
bedding was covered with snow. Before going to bed I read the first
chapter of Romans.

Saturday, May 31.--Cloudy morning. Four inches of snow. No wind. Felt
very well. We moved our camp. Stopped at a deserted cabin. Found a
grindstone and ground our hatchet. We pitched camp about three miles
South-east. Built a hut of boughs. We got wet. I had but one pair of
pants and one pair of socks. My feet were soaking wet. At bedtime I
read Romans, second chapter.

Sunday, June 1, 1879.--Snowed Saturday night. When I awoke our blankets
were wet. I had symptoms of rheumatism in knees and wrists. I read
Romans, third chapter, and we had prayer together. White sang "Tell Me
the Old, Old Story" and "Safe in the Arms of Jesus." It made me think of
my family so far away, of my dear pastor, Brother----, and the dear old
Portland church, and the tears streamed down my face. Spent the day in

Monday, June 2.--Woke up very cold. Our hut of pine boughs was not
sufficient to keep us warm. So much snow on the mountains that we
prospected the foot-hills and found what we thought were indications of
mineral. At night read Romans, fourth chapter. Much encouraged by
Abraham's faith. So cold I had to get my hat in the night and put it on
my head to keep warm. Dreamed that I was at home with my precious wife.
Tried to wake her up, but she was dead. What awful feelings!

Tuesday, June 3.--A beautiful bright morning. Read Romans v. Partner
wanted to go deer hunting with a pistol. Seemed to me so foolish I would
not go. I stayed at camp and was very lonesome.

Wednesday, June 4.--Bright, clear morning. Read Romans vi. Had our
breakfast, bread, bacon, coffee and potatoes, early, so as to prospect
on third mountain south of Horn's Peak. Started for the mountains. Went
up above timber line. Ate lunch up there. Too much snow to go any
higher. Found what we thought were indications of mineral. Saw a gray
eagle sailing around. It looked very grand away up above that lonely
mountain. Suppose its nest was near. In evening returned to camp very
tired. Read Romans vii., and it did me a great deal of good.

Thursday, June 5.--Clear morning. Prospected some around the foot-hills.
Found nothing. Began to get disgusted with prospecting. Struck camp
about ten or eleven o'clock A. M. Packed our burro and crossed valley
about fifteen miles. Very hot crossing. Pack slipped out of place
several times. Very troublesome. White got out of humor. Was inclined to
quarrel, but I would not quarrel with him. After getting across the
valley we had trouble finding a place to camp convenient to water, but
found it at last. While we were unpacking a big rabbit jumped up. White
fired three or four shots at him with his revolver. Followed him up the
side of the mountain. At last he killed him. He came down the mountain
swinging old Brer Rabbit, and I think he was as happy looking a man as I
ever saw. No doubt a smile of satisfaction might have been seen on your
Uncle Remus' face, too, when I saw that rabbit. That was the first thing
in shape of fresh meat we had had for about ten days.


    _Fried Rabbit,              Fried Bread,
             Potatoes,    Coffee._

After supper we raised a few poles and threw our blankets over them for
shelter. Read Romans viii., and went to sleep, feeling satisfied that if
I died before morning, I would wake up in heaven.

Friday, June 6.--Bright morning. Fine appetite. Good breakfast. Read
Romans ix. We moved from the foot-hills and went up into the mountain.
White went prospecting while I built us a hut for the night. When he
came back he said he had found some very good float. Very cold night.
Our burro got loose in the night and made considerable noise moving
around. We were sure it was a mountain lion, but, of course, we were not
afraid. I had my hatchet under my head and he had his pistols. Of
course, we were not afraid.

Saturday, June 7.--Very cold morning. Prospected. Found a lode of black
rock. Felt sure we had struck it rich. Dug a whole in the ground and
staked a claim. Read Romans x, at night. Slept cold. Got to thinking.
Thought it was easier to find a needle in a haystack than a paying mine
in the Rocky mountains.

Sunday, June 8.--Morning clear and bright. Owing to the disagreeable
place in which we were camped, we thought our health justified us in
moving even on the Lord's day. Found an old cabin. It was worse than any
horse stable, but we cleaned it out. Made a bed of poles, which we cut
and carried some distance. This was on the Pueblo and Rosita road.

Monday, June 9.--Bright, cold morning. Ice on the spring branch. After
breakfast we started prospecting. Found nothing, except another old
deserted cabin of the Arkansaw Traveler's style. Returned to camp in the
evening. Read Romans xii. and xiii. and slept like a prince.

Tuesday, June 10--Another bright, clear, cold morning. We prospected
some. Staked off a claim, more in fun than anything else, for we knew it
was worth nothing. The locality is called Hardscrabble. And it was the
right name. Our provisions had about given out, and it was a hard
scrabble for us to get along. Concluded to return to Silver Cliff, go to
work, get another grub stake, and take another fresh start. In the
afternoon we rested. Read Romans xiv., xv. and xvi.

Wednesday, June 11.--Another beautiful Colorado morning. Read 1 Cor., i.
Started for Silver Cliff about 7:00 A. M. I carried White's pistol. On
the way I killed two doves. Had them for dinner about 3:00 P. M. How
sweet they did taste! Arrived at Silver Cliff about dark.

Thursday, June 12.--Concluded the best thing I could do was to get home
as soon as possible. We sold our burro for $15.00, and with my part
($7.50) I started with a friend by the name of Hall for home. We got a
cheap ride in a freight wagon from Silver Cliff to Pueblo. The country
through which we passed is the wildest and grandest I ever saw anywhere
in my life. Hardscrabble canon is one of the most picturesque in the
world, and then the beautiful mountain stream all the way, winding like
a serpent down the valley. We crossed and re-crossed it several times.
That night we slept in the wagon. I never neglected praying any day
while I was on the prospecting tour.

Friday, June 13.--Arrived at Pueblo about 2:00 P. M. Had a little money.
Got a bite to eat. At that time there was a railroad war. Men were
killing each other for three dollars a day for corporations. The
excitement about this, and the moving bodies of men all anxious for
news, kept me from thinking of my condition till night. At night I went
out to the commons, on the edge of the city, and, with other tramps,
went to sleep on the cold ground.

Saturday, June 14.--Had a little money. Some others of the tramps had a
little. We pooled it, bought a little grub, and at 12:00 o'clock started
on a tramp to Denver, a distance of about one hundred and twenty-five
miles. I felt fresh and strong. We walked about six miles and slept on
the ground at night.

Sunday, June 15.--Got up early. Had a little breakfast. Started about
6:00 A. M. Walked about three miles when, two of our party having such
sore feet, we stopped. I had a voracious appetite. Went to cooking. We
had some canned tomatoes and canned syrup. I cooked some tomatoes and
ate them. Then I went to a ranch, bought a nickel's worth of milk, fried
some cakes, ate them with the syrup, drank the milk and was--sick. Did
not feel strong again all the time. I had had no experience in tramping
and tried to carry too much luggage. My feet got sore. Every day's tramp
after that was a drag. One of the party left us and went on ahead by
himself. We never saw him again. Another was so broken down we had to
leave him. Hall and I went on sick and tired. About dark we went up to
the house of a ranchman, and I told him my story. He took us in. I found
out he was a professing Christian. I read Romans vii., and prayed with
the family. His name is John Irvine, El Paso, Colorado.

Monday, June 16.--Left John Irvine's soon after breakfast. Walked five
miles to a water-tank where the train had to stop for water. We waited
till the train came along, and boarded her. The conductor did not see
us till we had passed Colorado Springs some distance. When he did see
us, I made the appeal of my life on account of myself and my friend,
whose feet were so sore he could, with difficulty, hobble along. I told
the conductor my own condition, and of my anxiety to get home to a
suffering family. When I saw he would not believe what I said, I offered
him my pocket-knife, a very fine and costly one, to let us ride a short
distance further, but he was like a stone. At the next stop he put us
off without a cent of money or a bite to eat. We walked about six miles,
lay down on the ground, with the sky for a covering, and slept like

Tuesday, June 17.--We started about daybreak, without anything to eat.
Walked about eight miles to a little place called Sedalia. Saw a German
boarding house. Sent Hall in to see if we could get anything to eat. Had
no money, but told him to tell her I would give her a butcher-knife and
a silver teaspoon, which I had brought from home, for something to eat.

She said to him so I could hear her: "Breakfast is over, but I will give
you what I have." That was enough for me. In I went. Sat down to a real
German lunch, and never did a breakfast taste sweeter to me than that.
God bless that good old German woman, not only for her good breakfast,
but for her kind, motherly words to two strangers in want. It taught me
a lesson which I have not forgotten yet, and I pray God I never may.

I left Sedalia feeling comfortable. Walked about four miles. Hall was
about done. He could go no further. While we were sitting there, a
Christian man by the name of Jennings came along, took pity on us, took
us in his wagon, gave us something to eat and brought us to Denver. We
arrived there about 6:00 P. M., without one cent, nothing to eat, no
place to go. Slept that night in a stable-yard under Jennings' wagon.

Wednesday, June 18.--Got up next morning about daybreak. Had a little
cold breakfast with Jennings. Knocked about town a little. Had a baker's
blackberry pie and a cup of water for dinner.

Here the diary of the prospecting tour and the tramp to Denver ends.

Mr. Holcombe continued the next day to knock about town, not knowing
what to do, when his old friend, Frank Jones, by nature one of the
kindest-hearted men in the world, chanced to meet him and insisted on
sharing his room with him. As his friend Jones, however, was himself
broke, he could render Mr. Holcombe no further assistance and it was
necessary for Mr. Holcombe to look about for something to do. He spent a
week in this occupation, or want of occupation, and at the end of that
time found employment in a brickyard. But the work was so hard, at the
end of three weeks, he had to give it up. After some time what little
money he had was expended and again he was destitute. And at one time he
was so pressed that he went into a grocery store and offered his fine
pocket-knife again for something to eat, but it was refused. Several
times he passed the Young Men's Christian Association rooms. Each time
he stopped, looked wistfully in and debated with himself whether they
would probably believe him and help him if he ventured to go in and
make his condition known. But he had never been used to asking favors,
and he did not know how to approach Christian people, and so his heart
failed him.

At that time and in that condition he was assailed by a sore temptation.
The devil, he says, suggested these thoughts to him: "This is a fine
condition for Steve Holcombe to be in. Before you heard of God and this
religion, you could stop at first-class hotels, wear fine clothes, live
like a gentleman, have a good home and all that money could buy for your
family. Now, you say you are serving God. You say He is your father and
that He owns everything in the world. Yet here you are without food and
clothing and your family is at home in want. You have not enough to buy
a meal for them or for yourself. Can you afford to trust and serve such
a master as that?"

But he had not been serving God two years and more for naught. He had
learned some things in that time. One of them was that trials and
privations are a part of the Christian's heritage, and that if any man
will live godly in this present world, he must expect to suffer. So his
reply was ready and he met the temptation with decision. "Yea, and
though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." And the sequel will show
whether he made a mistake in trusting Him.

When he saw it was useless for him to remain longer away from home, he
informed his friend, Mr. Jones, of his purpose to leave at once for
Louisville. Mr. Jones got him money enough to buy a ticket to Kansas
City, and there the great temperance lecturer, Francis Murphy, having
found out his character and condition, gave him enough to get home.

Whether God can or not, at any rate He does not pour wisdom into a man
as we pour water into a bottle. He does not so favor even His own
children, if favor it could be called. But He gives a man opportunities
of self-discipline, and if, aided by His divine help and grace, the man
is willing to go through the process, he comes out with larger knowledge
and better equipment for life and service and usefulness.

Without the experiences and lessons of this Colorado trip, Mr. Holcombe
could not have been the efficient man he is to-day. That season of
loneliness and self-searching and severe testing and humiliation was to
him, though a painful, yet a helpful, and perhaps necessary, stage in
his Christian life.

Indeed, all the trying experiences that had come to him since his
conversion were helpful to him in one way or another. He needed to learn
patience, he needed to learn economy, he needed to learn self-control.
The disposition to practice all these was given him at the time of his
conversion, he needed now to be put to the test and to "learn obedience,
practically, by the things which he suffered." Moreover, if he was to
serve efficiently the poor and the tempted, he needed to become
acquainted with their condition, their sorrows, their conflicts, by
passing through them himself.

The endurance of the evils which give occasion for the exercise of
self-denial and for the acquisition of self-control is a far less evil
than the want of self-denial and of self-control. So Mr. Holcombe was
willing to suffer all these things rather than to decline them and be
without the blessing which comes through them. This reflection justified
his past sufferings and prepared him for any that might come in the
future. He knew what he had been and he had learned that he was to be
purified by fire. So he felt that if God would be patient with him, he
would be patient with God's dealings. When he arrived at home he found
his family in a very needy condition. Shortly after his departure for
Colorado, his wife had to remove from the house she was occupying,
because she could not pay the rent. She had never taken care of herself
before or done any sort of work, for he always provided well for his
family; but now she saw it was necessary for her to support the family.
Accordingly, she took in sewing, and in that way did support them till
Mr. Holcombe's return. For six weeks after his return he could find
nothing to do, and Mrs. Holcombe, brave, noble woman, continued to
support the family with her needle. The time of her full deliverance was
coming, but it was not yet. Nor did she know when it would come, or that
it would ever come. But all the same she waited, and while she waited,
she served, and with a glad heart, too, for had not her husband turned
his face heavenward? And poverty seemed now a small thing.

Some time after Mr. Holcombe's return, his friend, Major Ed Hughes, was
elected Chief of the Fire Department in Louisville, and he made
application to him at once for a position. Major Hughes gave it to him
unhesitatingly; but, as Mr. Holcombe was entirely without experience, it
had to be a subordinate one, in which the salary was not large, being
only a dollar and a half per day. It was impossible for him to support
his family on so little, and though Mrs. Holcombe undertook to help him
out by keeping boarders and doing all the work herself, they got
behind all the time he was in the fire department. Finding that keeping
boarders after Mrs. Holcombe's liberal fashion was entirely
unprofitable, she gave that up and commenced taking in sewing again. She
even learned to make coats for clothing stores in Louisville, and
continued that for some time.

[Illustration: ENGINE HOUSE.]

Meanwhile, he was having a hard time in his subordinate position in the
fire department. In the first place he was required to be at the
engine-house night and day and Sundays, with the bare exception of a
half hour or such a matter at meal time. For a man of his nature and
habits this confinement was almost intolerable, and would have been
quite so, if he had not been radically changed. In the second place he
was subject to the orders of his superiors, though he had never been
obliged to obey anybody, and as a matter of fact never had obeyed
anybody since he was a mere infant. In the third place, notwithstanding
his experience, his knowledge of the world and his capacity for higher
work, he was required to do work which a well-trained idiot might have
done just as well. One of his duties was to rub the engine and keep it
polished. In order to clean some parts of it, he would have to lie down
on the floor under it flat on his back; and in order to clean other more
delicate parts of the machinery, he had to work in such places that he
was always bruising and skinning his hands.

If repeated failure in business in Louisville was hard, if starving in
Colorado was harder, the confinement and drudgery of his position at the
engine-house were hardest. It would require some effort to think of a
position more thoroughly disagreeable and trying than this one which Mr.
Holcombe filled to the satisfaction of his superiors for two mortal
years. But he was learning some things he needed to know. He was passing
through a necessary apprenticeship, though he did not know it, for
something vastly higher. It perhaps should be added that Mr. Holcombe
was practically isolated and alone at the engine-house, for none of the
men there employed were congenial companions. However, to their credit,
be it said, they showed great respect for him and for his Christian
profession; they quit gambling, they refrained from using obscene or
profane language in his presence, and, in general, were very kind to

Nothing could lessen Mr. Holcombe's sympathy for the outcast and the
lost, and nothing destroy his zeal for their salvation. Though he was
not allowed to leave his post even on Sunday, without hiring, at his own
expense, a substitute, yet he frequently went to Shippingsport and other
places to hold services among the poor "with the hope," as he says, "of
helping and blessing them." He incurred the expense of a substitute that
he might, once in awhile, go out bearing light and blessing to others,
and he even took to his own home men who were trying to reform and live
better lives. In view of the condition of his family, this was doubtless
more than he ought to have done, and in after years he saw it was a
mistake, but such was his insatiable longing to help and bless others,
he let his zeal, perhaps, go beyond his prudence in that single
particular. Most of us err very far on the other side. He did not
hesitate to take to his home in some instances men who had gone in
their dissipation to the extent of delirium tremens. One such case was
that of a fine young fellow who belonged to an excellent family in
Louisville, but who through drink had gone down, down, down, until he
had struck bottom. During his drinking sprees he was the most forlorn
and wretched looking man in Louisville. He was at this time, by Mr.
Holcombe's invitation, staying at his house. He ate there, he slept
there; it was his home. But on one occasion, some time after midnight,
he was attacked with a frightful spell of delirium tremens, or, as he
said, the devils got after him. They told him, he said, that if he did
not kill Mr. and Mrs. Holcombe and their baby, they would kill him. He
heard them. They told him to go and get his razor, and he did it. Then
they advanced on him and he backed from them, his razor in hand. As they
advanced he retreated. He opened Mr. Holcombe's door (for he had hired a
substitute and remained at home on the night in question in order to
help his man through his spell). He backed to the bed in which Mr. and
Mrs. Holcombe were sleeping. He struck the bed as he retreated from the
devils, and Mrs. Holcombe awoke to find a demonized man standing over
them with a drawn razor. She woke her husband. He jumped out of bed,
caught the man's arm and took the razor from him. After that Mr.
Holcombe sat up with him the remainder of the night, and during most of
the time the man was talking to imaginary devils. About daylight he
snatched up a brickbat out of the hearth and rushed toward the door
saying there were three big men out there who had come to kill him. Mr.
Holcombe kept him with himself all next day. The next night while they
were walking together in the open air, the man imagined that a woman
whom he knew to be dead was choking him to death, and he was on the
point of dying with suffocation when Mr. Holcombe called a physician to
his aid.

Such was the kind of men Mr. Holcombe, even in those days of poverty and
discouragement, was trying to help and rescue, and such were his efforts
and trials and perils in rescuing them.

When Mr. Holcombe's pastor saw the grace of God that abounded in him, it
was plain to him that he might, in future, when a suitable opening
should come, make a very useful helper in the work of the church. In
order, therefore, that Mr. Holcombe might be prepared for an enlarged
sphere, if it should ever come, the pastor proposed to teach him in
certain lines and did so, visiting him regularly at the engine house for
that purpose. Mr. Holcombe studied very industriously, but it was with
extreme difficulty that he could apply himself to books at that time.
Later, however, he overcame to a great extent this difficulty and has
gotten now to be quite a student. He has attended also, for two years,
with great profit, the lectures of Dr. Broadus in the Baptist Seminary
in Louisville.

As has been said elsewhere, Mr. Holcombe remained in the fire department
for two years, enduring the confinement, performing the drudgery and
trying, as best he could, to help and bless others. Four years and more
had now elapsed since his conversion. It was a long stretch and at times
a heavy strain. But he endured it, and grew strong.


The time had now come for such an extraordinary career and such an
extraordinary man to be recognized, and he was. He had made an
impression and his work, humble as it was, had made an impression.
Moreover, Mr. Holcombe himself was now growing impatient to get into a
position more favorable to his usefulness. It was not the selfish
impatience that could not longer endure the humiliation and manifold
disagreeablenesses of his position at the engine house. He had overcome
all that. It was the noble impatience of love and zeal. Oh, how he did
long to get into a place where he could help somebody and serve somebody
and love somebody.

He had been very kindly treated by his old friends, the gamblers, during
all this time; and though he was loath to allow it and at first declined
it, yet fearing lest his refusal might alienate them, he had, more than
once, accepted substantial help from one or two particular friends among
them. Encouraged by assurances from some of these and by the promise of
all the help his pastor could possibly give him, financially and
otherwise, he had made up his mind to rent a room in the central part of
the city and to open a meeting for the outcast classes. But on the very
day when he was engaged in making these arrangements, his remarkable
conversion and character and career were the subject of discussion at
the Methodist Ministers' meeting. The result was that before the week
had passed, the Rev. Jas. C. Morris, pastor of the Walnut-street
Methodist church, visited him at the engine-house and informed him that
the Official Board of his church had authorized him to take measures for
the establishment of a mission in the central part of the city and to
employ Mr. Holcombe to take charge of it at an assured salary sufficient
to meet the wants of his family. He at once accepted it as a call from
God and gave up his position in the fire department, with no great
degree of reluctance.

A vacant store in the Tyler Block, on Jefferson street between Third and
Fourth, was offered free of rent. Regular noon-day meetings were held
there in charge of Rev. Mr. Morris and Mr. Holcombe. It was a
phenomenon. Within two blocks of the two faro banks which Steve Holcombe
used to own and run, he was now every day at high noon declaring the
Gospel of the grace of God. The people came to see and hear. They found
it was no mushroom fanatic, but a man who for forty years was a leader
in wickedness and for four years had been almost a pattern of
righteousness. He spoke no hot words of excitement, but narrated facts
with truth and soberness. Many of his old time friends, the gamblers,
their timidity overcome by their curiosity, joined the crowd and heard
the man. Poor drunkards, too far gone for timidity or curiosity, dragged
themselves to the place where the famous gambler was telling about his
conversion and his new life. And the power of God was present to heal,
and great grace was upon them all. Among those who were saved at that
time and place were Mr. Ben Harney, son of the distinguished editor of
the old _Louisville Democrat_, who lives again in happiness and
prosperity with his beloved family, and Mr. D. C. Chaudoin, at one time
a Main-street merchant, who remained faithful until death.

When the supporters of the movement saw that it promised so much, they
took steps at once to make larger provision for it and to secure its
permanence. They sought a suitable house in a convenient place, and
finally decided to take the room at No. 436 Jefferson street, between
Fourth and Fifth streets, which had formerly been used as a
gambling-house. Mr. Holcombe took possession of it, and found some of
the gambling implements still there. A Board of Managers was elected,
consisting of John L. Wheat, James G. Carter, P. H. Tapp, C. P. Atmore
and George W. Wicks. Some friends from the Walnut-street church and
others volunteered as singers; the room was supplied with hymn-books, an
organ was secured, and the meetings commenced under the most promising
circumstances. At first, meetings were held three nights in the week,
and the attendance was large. Soon after, meetings were held every night
and on Sundays. People of all classes came. The services consisted of
singing, prayers, reading of Scripture, a short, earnest address from
Mr. Holcombe, and sometimes testimonies from the men who had been helped
and saved--among whom were drunkards, gamblers, pick-pockets, thieves,
burglars, tramps, men who had fallen from high positions in business and
social circles, and in short, men of all classes and kinds. Many of
these gave unquestionable proofs of conversion, "of whom the greater
part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep," faithful
unto death. Among those who were converted during that period were
Robert Denny, Fred Ropke, Captain B. F. Davidson and Charles Wilson,
whose testimonies will be found elsewhere in this book--besides others,
some of whom are residents of Louisville and some of other places.

By request, the Rev. James C. Morris, D. D., now of Kansas City, Mo.,
has written a brief account of Mr. Holcombe's work from the beginning to
the point which we have now reached in this narrative. And, as no part
of it can well be omitted or changed for the better, it is here
introduced entire, with a part of the genial letter which accompanied

    "KANSAS CITY, MO., August 14, 1888.

    "_My Dear Brother_:

    "I inclose the notes for which you ask. You see they are in a
    crude state. But do not judge from that that I have no interest
    in the work you have in hand. My Father in heaven knows I keep
    it very near my heart. I felt it would be sufficient for me to
    furnish you the matter in a crude state, and let you work it
    into your plan rather than give it any literary shape myself.
    Besides, I am pressed, pressed to my utmost, and I therefore
    send you this imperfect sketch with an apology. I am glad you
    are doing the work. It will surely do good. Brother Holcombe's
    work ought to be known. I wish in my heart of hearts that every
    city and town had such a man in it to work for God and souls.
    Praying God to bless you and your work, I am,

    "Yours affectionately,


"In the year 1881, while I was pastor of the Walnut-street Methodist
church, in Louisville, Ky., I heard of Steve Holcombe, the converted
gambler; of his remarkable career; of his remarkable conversion, and of
his unusual devotion and zeal in the cause of religion. I heard also of
his efforts in the line of Christian work and of his desire for better
opportunities. I mentioned his case to the Official Board of the
Walnut-street church, and suggested that he might be usefully employed
by our churches in the city in doing missionary work. The matter was
kindly received, but the suggestion took no practical shape. As I walked
home from the meeting one of the stewards said to me: 'Why could not we,
of the Walnut-street church, employ Brother Holcombe ourselves?' This
question put me upon a course of thought about the work we might be able
to do, and at the next meeting of the Board I made the suggestion that
we organize some work of the kind and employ Brother Holcombe to take
charge of it. They unanimously accepted the suggestion and directed me
to investigate the case. If anything could be done, they were ready to
enter upon the work and support it. I lost no time in seeing Brother
Holcombe. He was then employed at the engine-house, on Portland avenue.
I found him rubbing the engine. It took but a moment to introduce
myself, and in a short time we were up-stairs, alone, talking about
religion and work for Christ. He told me how his heart was drawn out in
solicitude for the classes who never attended church--the gamblers,
drunkards and the like. It was easy to see that the movement
contemplated was of God. We talked and rejoiced together; we knelt down
and prayed together for God's guidance in all our plans and
undertakings. I then told him how I came to call on him, and laid before
him our plan. His eyes filled with tears--tears of joy--at the thought
of having an opportunity to do the work that was on his heart.

"At once I reported to the Board, and recommended that Brother Holcombe
be at once employed and the work set on foot without delay. God breathed
on them the same spirit that he had breathed on us together at the
engine-house. With unanimity and enthusiasm they entered into the plan
and pledged their support. They fixed his salary at nine hundred dollars
a year and authorized me to do all that was necessary to carry the plan
into effect.

"Early the next morning Brother Holcombe gave up his place at the
engine-house, and we went out to look for a house in which to domicile
our work. I can never forget that day. What joy there was in that heart
that had waited so long and prayed so fervently for an open door of
opportunity. Now the door was opened wide, and a song was put in his
heart and in his mouth. We walked miles to find a suitable place, while
we talked much by the way as our hearts burned within us.

"At length we found a vacant storeroom on Jefferson street, between
Third and Fourth, and as we looked in the window, we said: 'This
would make a grand place to begin in.' We went to see Mr. Isaac Tyler,
the owner, and he gave us a favorable answer and the key. The next day
we began a meeting which continued through three months. And who can
write the history of that work? Only the All-seeing God; and He has the
record of it in His book. We had a noon-day service every day, except
Sunday, and a Saturday evening service every week.

"The services were advertised and men stationed at the door invited the
passer-by to come in. At the meetings all classes of men were
represented. There were strong, wise, honorable business-men and there
were tramps and drunkards with all the classes that lie between these
two. No man was slighted. Many a man was brought in who was too drunk to
sit alone in his seat. Many were there who had not slept in a bed for
months. There were gamblers and drunkards and outcast men from every
quarter of the city. The gathering looked more like that in the police
courts of a great city on Monday morning than like a religious meeting.
The workers did literally go out into the highways and into the lowways
and compel them to come in. And marvelous things took place there.

"Steve Holcombe was known all over the city, and such a work done by
such a man who had lately been a noted gambler in the community drew men
who, for years, had had no thought of attending church. The old
companions of his worldly life came, the worst elements of the city
came, good men from all the churches came. Brother Holcombe was in his
element. His soul was as free to the work as that of an Apostle. Daily
he trod the streets inviting people to come, and daily, as they came, he
spoke words of deep feeling to them, urging them to be saved. No man
ever had a more respectful hearing than he had. No man ever devoted
himself more fully in the spirit of the Master to doing men good than
did he. His devotion to the poor outcast who showed any willingness to
listen or any wish to be saved was as marvelous as his own conversion. I
never saw such in any other worker for Christ.

"In the progress of the work we often spoke of keeping a record of those
who professed conversion there. I am sorry it was not done. Hardly a day
passed without some case of exceptional interest. Men were saved who had
been for years in the very lowest stages of dissipation and vagrancy.
Not a few of those who were thus saved were men who had belonged to the
very best social, and business circles of the city. Many of them are
bright and blessed lights in Christian circles to-day. Many homes were
built up out of wrecks where only ashes and tears remained. Many
scattered families were brought together after long separation. God only
knows the results of that three months' work. I remember some
conversions that were as marvelous as that of Saul of Tarsus. I could
tell of some of them but perhaps this is not the place.

"This meeting in the Tyler block was a feature of a meeting which was in
progress at the Walnut-street church and to this it was tributary. In
the evening those who had been reached by the services at the mission
were invited to the church. They were largely of a class not often seen
in the church but they came, and when they came the church welcomed

"Then there was rejoicing in the presence of the angels, for many
sinners were repenting and returning. I saw the Gospel net dragged to
the shore enclosing fish that no one would have been willing to take out
of the net except Steve Holcombe. But it is far different with them
to-day. Changed by the power of God, these repulsive creatures are
honored members of the various churches, heads of happy families and
respected and useful citizens of the community.

"At the end of three months the meetings in the storeroom were
discontinued. Mr. Holcombe had won thousands of friends, hundreds had
been put in the way of a new life and the whole city was in sympathy
with the work.

"We were now to select and secure a suitable place for the permanent
home of the mission. Another search brought us to the room on the south
side of Jefferson between Fourth and Fifth streets, No. 436. It had been
occupied as a gambling room, and the gambling apparatus was still there
when we took possession of it. In a few days the house was fitted up and
the 'Gospel-Mission' was opened.

"The work was now thoroughly organized. There was, in addition to the
regular services, a Sunday-school for the children whose parents never
went to church. Colonel C. P. Atmore was superintendent. The 'Industrial
School' also was organized, where Christian women taught the girls to
sew, furnishing them the materials and giving them the finished
garments. It is especially worthy of remark that the old associates of
Mr. Holcombe, the gamblers, contributed more than $500 toward the
expenses of this work.

"This house became an open home for any weary, foot-sore wanderer who
was willing to come in, and through the years many were the hearts made
happy in a new life.

"The year following the organization of the work, Rev. Sam P. Jones
conducted a meeting at the Walnut-street church, and his heart was
strangely drawn to that mission. He himself conducted many services
there and he was more impressed with the character of the work and of
the man who was in charge of it than with any Christian work he had ever
seen. During this meeting of Mr. Jones a programme of street-preaching
was carried out by Mr. Holcombe and his fellow-workers. Mr. Holcombe
himself preached several times on the courthouse steps, and, even in the
midst of the tumult, souls were converted to God."

This is the end of Dr. Morris' account of the beginnings of Mr.
Holcombe's work, though the reader will probably wish it were longer,
and even more circumstantial.

Mr. Holcombe's family lived in the same building, over the mission room,
and whenever men in need or distress applied, he gave them board and
lodging. Mrs. Holcombe says that for three months they had never less
than twenty men eating two meals a day. Of course, among so many there
were, doubtless, some imposters, but it took a pretty keen man to play
imposter without being spotted by the keen man who was in charge of the
enterprise. Mr. Holcombe had mixed with men long enough to know them. He
had spent most of his life among bad men. He had studied their ways and
he knew their tricks. And it is not necessary to say to the reader who
has perused the foregoing pages, that Mr. Holcombe was not afraid of any
man. His former experience in sin and his former association with
sinners of every sort led him to see that it was necessary for him
rigidly to protect the work he was now engaged in and he determined to
do so. Men would come into the meetings, sometimes, in a state of
intoxication; sometimes lewd fellows of the baser sort would come in for
the purpose of interrupting the service and still others for other
purposes; but when Mr. Holcombe had put a few of them out, they saw that
this man in getting religion had lost neither common sense nor courage,
and that Steve Holcombe, the converted gambler, was not a man to be
fooled with any more than Steve Holcombe, the unconverted gambler; so
that all such interruptions soon ceased. But nobody should get the
impression that Mr. Holcombe was harsh or unsympathetic. On the
contrary, he is one of the most tenderhearted of men, and few men living
would go farther, do more or make greater sacrifices to save a drunkard
or a gambler or an outcast of any sort, than Steve Holcombe. For days he
has gone without meat for himself and his family that he might have
something to help a poor drunkard who was trying to reform. Indeed, his
pitying love for wretched men and women of every class and degree,
manifested in his efforts to look them up and to do them good in any
possible way, is the chief secret of his wonderful success in dealing
with hardened and apparently inaccessible cases. The following account
of his last and perhaps most desperate case is taken from one of the
Louisville daily papers and will illustrate what has been said:




The work that Steve Holcombe is doing is well known, in a general way,
but the public understand but little of the wonderful good that man is
doing. The reformations he has brought about may be numbered by the
hundred, and the drunkards he has reclaimed would make a regiment.

But of all the wonderful and truly startling examples of what Mr.
Holcombe is doing, the case of James Williams is the climax. Williams
has been known for years as "Whisky Jim" and "Old Hoss," and there is
not a more familiar character in the city. Until the last two or three
weeks no man in Louisville ever remembers to have seen Jim free from the
influence of liquor. He was always drunk, and was looked upon as an
absolutely hopeless case, that would be able to stand the terrible life
he was leading but a year or two longer.

The story of his life and reformation as related to a _Times_ reporter
is very interesting. He had asked Mr. Holcombe when his protégé could be
seen, and was told at nine o'clock at the mission. Williams was seen
coming up the steps, his face clean shaven, his eyes bright and his gait
steady. Mr. Holcombe said: "There he is now, God bless him; I could just
kiss him. I knew he'd be here. One thing I've learned about Jim is, that
he is an honest man, and another is that he will not tell a lie. I feel
that I can trust him. He has had the hardest struggle to overcome the
drinking habit I ever saw, and I feel sure that he has gained the
victory. I began on him quietly about one month ago and got him to
attend our meetings. But here he is." The reporter was introduced, and
Mr. Williams readily consented to tell anything concerning himself that
would be of interest to the public and calculated to do good in the
cause of temperance. He said: "I was born in Paducah, Ky., and am
forty-eight years old. My father's name was Rufus A. Williams. While a
boy I was sent to school, and picked up a little education. I was put at
work in a tobacco manufactory, and am a tobacco-twister by trade. My
father died when I was nine years old, after which our family consisted
of my mother, now seventy-five years of age, my sister and myself. We
now live on the east side of Floyd street, near Market. Shortly after I
grew up I found work on the river and have been employed on nearly every
boat between Louisville and New Orleans. That is what downed me. I began
to drink little by little, and the appetite and habit began to grow on
me until I gave up all idea of resistance. Up to yesterday a week ago, I
can truthfully say that I have been drunk twenty-three years, day and

"In 1862 I got a job on the 'Science,' Number 2, a little Government
boat running the Ohio and Cumberland rivers. Coming down the Cumberland
on one trip I was too sick to work, and the boat put me ashore about
twenty miles above Clarksville. The woods where I was dumped out were
full of guerrillas, but I managed to secure a little canoe in which I
paddled down to Clarksville. There I sold it for three dollars and with
the small sum I had already I came to this city, where we were then
living. I then drank up every cent I could rake and scrape. I could get
all sorts of work, but could keep no job because I couldn't keep sober.
I finally depended on getting odd jobs along the river front, such as
loading and unloading freight, etc. But the work was so hard I could
scarcely do it, and finally I had to give that up, especially after
falling and breaking my leg while at work on the old 'United States'
several years ago. That accident laid me up in the Marine Hospital for
several months, and just as I felt able to get out I broke the same leg
again at the same place. After recovering I yielded entirely to the
appetite for strong drink and cared for nothing else. As I say, for
twenty-three years I have not known what it is to be sober until a few
days ago.

"For the past six years I have earned my drinks and some free lunch by
picking up old boxes and barrel staves which I would dispose of to the
saloon-keepers along the river front who knew me. I did not often ask
any one for money with which to buy whisky, for I could always earn it
in this manner. I usually slept at my mother's house. As to eating I did
not eat much and was getting so I could scarcely eat at all. I am
getting over that now, and have a good appetite, as Mr. Holcombe can

"Well, about one month ago Mr. Holcombe came to me and gave me a little
talk. He did not say much, but he set me to thinking as far as I was
capable of thinking. He saw me the second time, and then several times.
Of course, I was always drunk but I understood him. Finally he said
to me 'Jim, if you're bound to have whisky, come around to the Mission
and let me give it to you.' I promised him I'd come around, and I did
so, for I wanted some o' the liquor. After I had gone around several
times and he had given me a few drinks, not to make me drunk, of course,
but to help me get sober, if possible; he invited me to go in and attend
the religious services. I did so and he invited me to come again, which
I did. At last he insisted that I should take my meals at the mission,
and I have been doing so for some days. Finally I made up my mind to
quit drinking altogether, and I intend to stick to the pledge I have
taken. I was full last Sunday week for the last time. I was trying to
taper off then, but a saloon-keeper on Market, just below Jackson,
knowing my condition and knowing that I was trying to quit, gave me a
bucket of bock beer. I knew he meant no good to me, but I couldn't help
drinking it. Other saloon-keepers have been trying to get me to drink
again, and I think they are trying to get me to do a great wrong.

"I went to church yesterday for the first time since I was a boy. Heard
Dr. Eaton preach.

"My poor old mother is greatly rejoiced at the change in me, for I have
given her a great deal of torment and misery. As soon as the Murphy
meetings are over Mr. Holcombe and I will spend a couple of weeks at
French Lick Springs."

[Illustration: JAMES WILLIAMS, AS HE IS]

During this period, when the mission occupied rooms at No. 436 Jefferson
street, the meetings were not confined to that single place, but
services were held in other parts of the city, on the streets and even
on the courthouse steps. Many strangers, as well as citizens of
Louisville, attended these, and some were so powerfully impressed that
after going away to their distant homes they wrote back to Mr. Holcombe
acknowledging the good they had received, and in some instances giving
an account of their conviction, repentance and conversion. The Holcombe
Mission became one of the "sights" of the city, so that strangers
visiting the city would look it up and attend services there.

In 1884 a new feature was added which, in turn, added much to the
efficiency and usefulness of the mission. It was suggested by the sight
of the poorly clad children who attended the mission with their parents,
and who seemed willing and anxious themselves to do better and be
better. This new feature was the Industrial School, an account of the
origin, history and methods of which is furnished by Mrs. Clark, the
Superintendent. A Sunday-school was organized also, with C. P. Atmore,
Esq., as Superintendent, and some of the most earnest Christian people
of the city as teachers and helpers. A little later the Kindergarten was
also organized and is now in successful operation.



In order to enlarge the mission work and better reach the homes of the
needy, both spiritually and temporally, the Union Gospel Industrial
School was opened in April, 1884, with six little girls and three
teachers in attendance. In May following it was formally organized as
The Union Gospel Mission Industrial School with

    Mrs. J. R. Clark, Superintendent;
    Mrs. L. G. Herndon, Assistant Superintendent;
    Miss Ella Downing, Secretary;
    Miss Ella Harding, Treasurer.

In June, 1884, it closed for the summer with twenty-two pupils and five
teachers. In September following it opened for the fall and winter term
with the same teachers and a small increase in the number of pupils, all
from the neglected classes. The school was organized in the old mission
room, at No. 436 Jefferson street, between Fourth and Fifth, and
continued there for three winters. The children came, however, from all
parts of the city, some of them from garrets and cellars. Their ages
ranged from five to eighteen years.

In May, 1886, the school was removed to its present spacious rooms in
the Union Gospel Mission building on Jefferson street, above First. The
work has steadily increased, each year bringing in a larger number of
the neglected children. Those who come are so interested and benefited,
they become missionaries, so to speak, to other poor and neglected
children. There is one class of girls, however, who are not
charity-scholars, but come for the purpose of learning to sew. Their
work is done, not for themselves, but for the younger children of the
poorer class who are not yet old enough to sew. For this reason, the
class just mentioned is called The Missionary Class, and it is one of
which the school is justly proud. They not only do their work for
others, they do good in other ways and in general exert a good influence
over the other children who are less fortunate.

The children are first taught all the different stitches that are used
in sewing. Then work is cut out for them by a committee of ladies who
attend for that purpose, and the children are taught to make all kinds
of garments. When the garment is completed and passes examination, it is
given to the child who made it.

There is a class of boys, sixty in number, ranging from five to twelve
years of age. These are first taught to sew on buttons and to mend rents
in their own clothes and then other things follow. They are at present
engaged in making a carpet for Mr. Holcombe's office. The teachers in
charge of them endeavor to train them to habits of industry,
self-reliance, cleanliness, truthfulness, etc. Some of the boys are very
bright and promising and some of them seem hopelessly cowed and broken.
Their histories would, doubtless, be full of pathos and of pain, if they
were known.

The school meets every Saturday morning at 9:15. The opening services
consist of--

1. Singing (Gospel Hymns).

2. Responsive recitation of a Psalm, or the Beatitudes or the Ten

3. Prayer.

4. Distribution of work-baskets.

The sewing continues for one hour and a half, then, at the tap of the
bell, the work is folded nicely, replaced in the basket and taken to
another room. The children then return to the large room and join in the
closing exercises, which consist of--

5. Singing.

6. Repeating of Scripture texts, each teacher and child repeating a
verse; or this is sometimes replaced with a chalk-talk, sometimes with a
short address on the Sunday-school lesson for the following Sunday,
sometimes with a short earnest appeal to the children by some visitor
who is known to be an effective speaker for such occasions.

7. The Lord's Prayer is recited in concert.

8. Dismissal.

The teachers, besides instructing the children in the art of sewing,
converse with them on pleasant and profitable topics and upon the
subject of religion in seasonable times and ways.

Quite a number of families have been brought under Christian influence
through the pupils of the Industrial School. Several parents as well as
children have been converted. Mr. Robert Denny, the account of whose
conversion is given by himself in another part of this volume, was
induced to attend the meetings of the Holcombe Mission by what his
children told him of the things they learned at the Industrial School.
One of the members of the first class of six and her mother are now
acceptable members of the First Presbyterian church. The daughter has
become an artist and is employed in retouching pictures in one of the
city photograph galleries. Three or four of the girls connected with the
school have died. Two of them, one aged twelve and the other fourteen,
gave every evidence of being Christians. One of these when asked when
she learned to love God and to pray, answered, "At the sewing school;
Jesus is always there."

Many when they began to attend did not even know the little prayer

    "Now I lay me down to sleep."

The ignorance of these poor children led the superintendent to open a
"Mothers' Meeting," for the mothers of these children and any others who
might wish to attend. The results have been wonderful. So many homes
have become changed, and are now neat, clean, orderly and happy. In the
rounds of the superintendent's visits she found a very sick woman who
said to her:

"Oh, I'm so glad you have come, Mrs. Clark. I want you to pray with me."

Mrs. Clark said, "Can't you pray yourself?"

She replied, "I don't know what to say. I did not know 'Now I lay me
down to sleep,' till my little Jennie learned it at the sewing school,
and I learned it from her."

"But can't you say 'Our Father who art in heaven?'" asked Mrs. Clark.

"No; not all of it, I know only a little of it."

Mrs. Clark was much moved at the ignorance, helplessness and need of the
poor woman, and was praying with her when the husband came in. She
talked with him and he was deeply impressed, and before she left
promised he would try to live a better life. A position as street car
driver was gotten for him, and for a while he did well, but after a time
he fell into his old ways and was dismissed. But, through the
intervention of the friends who had helped him before, he was restored
to his place, and to-day he is a sober industrious man and a member of
the First Christian church in the city.


Perhaps a score of similar instances could be cited.

The sewing school closed May 12, 1888, with the annual picnic. The
following is the report for the year just past:

Average weekly attendance of girls, 162; average weekly attendance of
boys, 21; total average attendance of pupils, 183; average attendance of
officers and teachers, 32; average attendance of visitors, 4; total
average attendance, 219; total number of garments made by, and given to,
the children, 848.

The officers for the past year were as follows: Mrs. J. R. Clark,
superintendent; Miss Mary L. Graham, assistant superintendent; Mrs. L.
G. Herndon, superintendent of work; Miss Lithgow, treasurer; Miss Ella
Gardiner, secretary.


In January, 1885, there were so many little boys and girls between the
ages of three and five years that the teachers did not know what to do
with them. The superintendent, who had some knowledge of the
kindergarten system, believed that its introduction here was what was
needed. She could not see her way clear, however, to incur any more
expense. But in answer to prayer the way was opened. Money was given for
the appliances and Miss Graham, an excellent teacher, offered her
services freely. The class at first averaged twenty-four pupils, met
each Saturday morning in connection with the sewing school, and was
called the Kindergarten class.

The interest increased till February, 1886, when the board of directors
of the Holcombe Mission consented that the superintendent should open a
regular kindergarten for every day in the week except Saturday. More
money was raised and a trained kindergarten teacher from Cincinnati was
employed. In June, 1886, the school closed with sixty little children in
attendance and four young ladies training for kindergarten teachers.
Arrangements were made for the following year and several hundred
dollars pledged. In September, 1887, the kindergarten was re-opened with
Miss Bryan, of Chicago, as teacher of training class and superintendent
of the school. In the following October a large and enthusiastic meeting
was held in the Warren Memorial church and the Free Kindergarten
Association was formally organized. In February, 1888, a second free
kindergarten was opened in another part of the city. The year's work
closed in June, 1888, five young ladies graduating as kindergarten
teachers. The number of children enrolled for the year was one hundred.
The kindergarten, it will be noticed, is thus distinct from the
industrial school.

In 1885, another department still was added to meet a want which had
been developed in the progress of the work. The great number of
broken-down men and tramps that came to Mr. Holcombe for food and help
of one sort or another made it impossible for him to give them lodging
in the mission rooms or board in his own family. And it encouraged
indolence in unworthy men to feed and lodge them as a mere charity. And
yet, if anything was to be done for their souls, they had for a time to
be cared for. Mr. Holcombe conceived the idea, therefore, of
establishing some sort of a place in connection with his work, where
these men might earn their food and lodging by the sweat of their brows
and at the same time be brought under the powerful religious influences
of the Mission.

[Illustration: MRS. J. M. CLARK.]

The result was the establishment of the "Wayfarers' Rest." Mayor Reed
and Chief of Police Whallen gave Mr. Holcombe a police station building
free of rent and Mr. J. T. Burghard gave the money to furnish it with
bunks, stove, cooking utensils, facilities for bathing, etc., and it
became at once an established feature, and a very admirable one, of the
Union Gospel Mission.

When Mayor Jacob came into office he gladly continued the use of the
building free of rent, and the institution has continued in successful
operation up to the present time--a space of three years.

The rooms are arranged for the accommodation of sixty men. All who come
are required to do some sort of work for whatever they receive, whether
it be food or lodging. The men do various kinds of work, according to
their several ability, but the chief employment is sawing kindling wood
out of material provided by the superintendent. Each man is required to
work an hour for one night's lodging or for a meal. The kindling wood is
sold all over the city, and under the excellent management of Mr. W. H.
Black, the present superintendent, the enterprise has become more than
self-supporting, bringing in enough to pay the salary of the
superintendent and the book-keeper, and leaving a surplus. It should,
perhaps, in justice be added, that donations of food are made daily and
have been from the beginning, by the Alexander Hotel Company.

During the winter of 1887 Mr. Black fed and lodged an average of fifty
men a day. He has never turned one away. The average income per day from
the sale of kindling wood is, in winter, ten dollars. The rules for the
government of the inmates requiring registration, cleanliness, bathing,
etc., are wisely conceived and strictly carried out.

This institution has proved in Louisville the solution of the vexed
question as to the proper treatment of tramps and beggars. The citizens,
instead of encouraging indolence and pauperism by feeding tramps at
their houses, some of whom are burglars in disguise, can now send them
to the Wayfarers' Rest, where they are always sure of finding food and
lodging, and, what is better, the opportunity of earning what they get
by honest work. And Mr. Holcombe's experience as a tramp in Colorado
leads him to take a brotherly interest in all these unfortunate men.

In 1886, the work had expanded beyond its quarters and beyond all
expectations. It was predicted that Steve Holcombe would hold out three
months. He had now held out three times three years, and that through
unprecedented trials and discouragements. During these nine years he had
helped many and many a man, almost as bad as he, into the blessed life
that he was living. He had established a unique institution in the city
of Louisville which had been the means of helping and uplifting and
blessing men and women and whole families. But the end was not yet. The
man and his work had so won the confidence of the people of the city
that in 1886, a formal request was made by the Evangelical churches of
the city that they be allowed to share with the Walnut-street Methodist
church in the expense and the care and the usefulness of the Mission. It
was changed then into a Union Mission, and representatives from the
Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal, Christian and Lutheran churches were
added to the board of directors.

In the same year, when Mr. Holcombe was feeling the need of more
spacious quarters for his expanding work, the large and elegant house on
Jefferson street above First, known as the "Smith Property," was
advertised for sale. Mr. Holcombe saw it and liked it. It was the very
sort of a building he needed for his work and all its various

He procured the keys and went through the building alone, from cellar to
garret, stopping in every room to pray that, in some way, God would put
it into his hands, with a firm persuasion, moreover, that his prayer
would be answered. An interesting letter written by Mr. Holcombe in
February, 1886, contains a reference to the project of purchasing the
new house. It is addressed to one of the converts of the Mission, Mr. S.
P. Dalton, of Cleveland, Ohio, and, as it shows also Mr. Holcombe's
interest in his spiritual children, it is given entire:

     LOUISVILLE, KY., February 3, 1886.

     _Dear Brother Dalton_:

     Your welcome and encouraging letter is just received. I
     acknowledge your claim, so gently urged, to something better
     than a hasty postal in reply. When I write you briefly, it is
     because my work compels it. My soul delights to commune with
     spirits like yours, consecrated to God, and with brothers who
     live in my memory as associates in our humble work here. Our
     mission is being abundantly blessed of God, although meeting,
     from time to time, with those drawbacks which remind us of our
     dependence and the need of constant prayer. We are having good
     meetings and conversions are numerous, and, as a rule, of such
     a character as to make us believe they are genuine and
     permanent. As I write, our friends are canvassing the city for
     the collection of means to purchase the old Smith mansion on
     Jefferson street, for our use, and believing all our work to be
     of God I have no doubt that it will be ours within a week. Then
     shall we do a great work for Louisville and for souls. Our
     sewing-school and our Sunday-school, having outgrown our
     present quarters, will be greatly enlarged, and every
     department of our work also.

     I am truly glad you are having such opportunities of doing
     good in Cleveland. May God bless you and your dear wife, my
     dear brother, and in His own time bring you back to us and to
     the work which always needs such help, is the prayer of

     Your brother,
     S. P. HOLCOMBE.

An incident that occurred in connection with the purchase of this
elegant property will show how Mr. Holcombe and his work were looked
upon in Louisville even by those who were not Christians.


A German singing society was negotiating for the building at the same
time, and had offered a higher price than the friends of the Mission
thought they could give. Mr. Holcombe went to the leader of the society
and told him he desired the building for the Mission, and, though the
man was an unbeliever, he said: "Mr. Holcombe, though I am not a
Christian and do not believe in Christianity, I do believe in the work
you are doing. I will not be in the way of your getting that building."
He withdrew his bid at once, and the Directors of the Holcombe Mission
purchased it for $12,500.

Mr. Holcombe at once took possession. He fitted up the rooms of the
lower floor for the various departments of the mission work. The large
and elegant double-parlors were thrown into one and arranged for the
audience-room. This has a seating capacity of two hundred or more. The
other rooms of the lower floor are used, one for Mr. Holcombe's office,
two others for the Kindergarten, another for a cloak-room, and so on.
The second floor, with its seven large, bright, airy rooms, is occupied
by Mr. Holcombe's family, and, for the first time since his conversion,
they are in comfortable quarters.


At last after years of love and faith and faithfulness Mrs. Holcombe has
her full reward and joy. The long twenty-five years of sorrow and
suspense passed by and her husband is what she unconsciously believed
her love had the power of waiting for him to become--a good man. And
more than a good man. He is consumed with the desire and somehow clothed
with the power of making other men good, of making bad men good, of
making the worst of bad men good. This he has now been doing, by God's
grace, for seven faithful years and more--and continues to do. Her
husband is honored and beloved for his character, his work and his
usefulness--no man, no minister in Louisville more so.

All her children are members of the church even down to little Pearl,
the latest-born. Her oldest son, her Willie, is happily married,
occupies the position of book-keeper with the Sievers Hardware Company
on Main street, and is an efficient officer of the church of God. Her
second daughter is happily married to a Christian man, "one of the best
of husbands," who is book-keeper in the old Kentucky Woolen Mills, of
Louisville. Her oldest daughter is a devoted Christian and serves with
equal efficiency as organist of the Mission and teacher in the
Kindergarten. Her baby-boy now eighteen years old and the rise of six
feet in height is a member of the church and a good boy. He also is
in business with the Sievers Hardware Company on Main street. And Pearl,
the blue-eyed, golden-haired, eight-year-old girl baby is, nobody dare
question, the flower of the flock. Her dead children are in heaven all,
for they died before they knew sin, and her living children are on the
way to heaven, all, for they trust in and serve Him who was manifested
to take away sin.

[Illustration: MRS. S. P. HOLCOMBE.]

Mrs. Holcombe helps her husband in his noble work and the "converts"
look on her as their spiritual mother as they regard him as their
spiritual father. She _might_ say with Simeon, the _Nunc dimittis_, "Now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy
salvation;" but instead of that she says with St. Paul, "Nevertheless to
abide in the flesh is more needful" for my husband, my children and the
work of Christ.

Mrs. Holcombe still has trials, but they are few and small, while her
blessings are many and great. She still has faults, perhaps, as most of
mortals have; but they are few and small, while her virtues are very
many and very great. Many daughters have done virtuously but few have
excelled this one in those qualities which constitute a noble womanly

The following letter, written to her by her husband during a short visit
in the country, will show how that after so long a time of waiting, the
hope of her earliest love is realized at last.

     LOUISVILLE, KY., May 29, 1888.

     My Dear Wife:

     Your letter to hand. I am so happy to know that you are having
     a good time. Isn't God good to us? When we look back over our
     past lives and see how good God has been to us, how thankful we
     should be. Very little sickness in our immediate family and no
     death in thirty years. The two babes that we lost thirty years
     ago are safe in the arms of Jesus, and all the living ones are
     sweetly trusting in Him. Let us from this hour be more earnest
     and untiring in our efforts to save the children of others.
     Kiss Mamie for me and then look in the glass and kiss yourself
     a thousand times for him who loves you with a true, deep love.
     Yours in life, yours in death,


Those who are familiar with Mr. Holcombe's career as a Christian worker
would regard any sketch of his life incomplete which did not contain
some account of the assault made upon him by three strange men in the
winter of 1887. A few months after his removal to the new quarters that
had been purchased by the Mission, he was attacked by three men in his
own house and severely injured. On a Sunday afternoon in January, 1887,
he heard some one walking in the hall on the second floor of the
building, and went out to see who it was. He found a man there whom he
had never seen before, and asked him who he was and what he wanted. The
man replied in an insolent, manner that he had come to visit a servant
girl who was at the time working in Mr. Holcombe's family. When Mr.
Holcombe asked him why he came into his private family apartments, the
man became more impudent and defiant, and gave utterance to some abusive
language. Already provoked at the man's audacity and alarmed at the
thought of what such a ruffian might have done to some one of his family
if he had been absent, Mr. Holcombe's quick nature now became so
exasperated that he forgot himself for a moment and thrust the man
violently down the stairway and out of the house. The man left the place
and Mr. Holcombe thought that was the end of it. But an hour or two
later some one knocked at his room door on the same floor, and as he
opened it, he saw himself confronted by three men, one of whom he
recognized as the man he had put out of the house. The two others
professed to be policemen who had come to arrest Mr. Holcombe, but when
he asked to see their badges of authority they seized him. One against
three, he resisted them with all his might, uttering no cry of distress
or call for help. In the struggle Mr. Holcombe's leg was broken, both
bones of it, and as he fell, with all his weight, the men thought he was
badly hurt and fled, leaving him lying helpless on the floor. He was
taken up by those whom he called and laid on his bed. Physicians were
sent for. The news spread in a few minutes all over the neighborhood,
and before night, all over the city. The Chief of Police, Colonel
Whallen, set his detectives to work looking for the men, and many
citizens, self-constituted detectives, inquired concerning the
appearance of the men and kept a sharp lookout for them. But they
succeeded in escaping, and it was, perhaps, well for them they did.
Before night Mr. Holcombe's room was crowded with friends filled with
sympathy and indignation. Drs. Kelly and Alexander set the broken limb
and gave Mr. Holcombe the unwelcome bit of information that he would
have to lie in his bed for some five or six weeks, a sore trial to his
restless spirit; but by the help of God he accepted it and settled down
to endure it, not knowing, however, what good he was to get out of it.
It was an opportunity for the people of Louisville to show their
estimation and appreciation of him, and it is safe to say that no man in
Louisville would have received the attentions and favors which this poor
converted gambler, Steve Holcombe, did receive. It reminds one of a
passage in Dr. Prime's account of the funeral of Jerry McAuley in the
Broadway Tabernacle in New York. Dr. Prime himself was to conduct the
funeral service, and this is what he says:

"We are going to-day to the tabernacle to talk of what Jerry McAuley was
and what he has done, to the little congregation that will gather there.
If it were Dr. Taylor, the beloved and honored pastor, the house would
be crowded and the streets full of mourners, but poor Jerry, he is dead
and who will be there to weep with us over his remains? Ah, how little
did I know the place poor Jerry held in the hearts of the people of this
vast city! I was to conduct the funeral and went early to complete all
arrangements. As I turned down from Fifth avenue through Thirty-fourth
street, I saw a vast multitude standing in the sunshine, filling the
streets and the square in front of the tabernacle. Astonished at the
spectacle and wondering why they did not go and take seats in the
church, I soon found that the house was packed with people so that it
was impossible for me to get within the door. Proclamation was made that
the clergy who were to officiate were on the outside, and a passage was
made for us to enter. What could be more impressive and what more
expressive of the estimate set upon the man and his work? There is no
other Christian worker in the city who would have called out these
uncounted thousands in a last tribute of love and in honor of his

The tribute which the people of Louisville paid to the work and worth of
Steve Holcombe _before_ his death was hardly less.

On Monday, the day following his misfortune, Mr. Holcombe's room was,
nearly all the day long, full of people of every grade, from the mayor
and the richest and finest people on Broadway and Fourth avenue, down to
the poor drunkard and outcast, who forgot his shabby dress and pressed
in among those fine people in order to see "Brother Holcombe," and find
out how he was. The ministers of the leading churches of every
Protestant denomination came with words of sympathy and prayer. Fine
ladies came in their carriages, bringing baskets of fruit and all sorts
of delicacies. Those who could not go sent letters and messages. And Mr.
Holcombe lay in his bed and wept--not for pain, but for gratitude and
humble joy. "Why," said he, "I would be willing to have half a dozen
legs broken to know that these people think so much of me and of my poor
efforts to be useful."

This, then, was the first compensation and blessing.

He learned also that it would be absolutely necessary for him to watch
more closely his impulsive and fiery temper, and get a better control of
it. For he does not deny that he was inexcusably hasty and severe in his
treatment of the impudent intruder.

And then he was temporarily relieved from the incessant demands and the
constant strain of his daily activity and his nightly anxiety. He had
time and opportunity, as far as the importunity and kindness of his
friends would allow, to get calmed, to look down into his own heart, to
analyze his motives, to study his own nature, to see his own faults, to
find out his own needs and to pray. He had been told by one of his
friends, that while he did not work too much, he did not pray _enough_,
and that he was, therefore, liable to be overtaken by some sudden
temptation and be betrayed into sin.

That same friend, in conducting service in one of the churches of the
city on that very Sunday morning, had offered special public prayer for
Mr. Holcombe and his work. He prayed specifically that if Brother
Holcombe needed a thorn in the flesh, to keep him humble, God would send
it. It was thought to be a special and speedy answer, that before
sundown of that very day, Mr. Holcombe did receive almost literally a
thorn in the flesh; a messenger of Satan it was withal to buffet him.
And Mr. Holcombe was the first to acknowledge that he needed this trial
and the threefold blessing which came with it.

The perpetrators of the cowardly deed were, some time afterward, caught
and imprisoned--every one of them. One of them has been pardoned and
released, and through Mr. Holcombe's kindly intervention the other two
probably will be, while through his friendly counsels one of them has
been brought to realize his own sinfulness, and has promised to live a
better life.

It would be out of the question to reproduce here all the written
messages of sympathy which Mr. Holcombe received during his confinement
from the injury he received. But one of them is too touching and
beautiful to be left out. It was written by Miss Jennie Casseday, a lady
of culture and refinement, who has, for eighteen years, been confined to
her "sick bed." She is well known as the originator of the "Flower
Missions," which, all over this country, have been the bearers of
blessing to many unblessed and unloved ones:

    "SICK BED, January 18, 1887.

     "_Dear Christian Friend_:

     "I send you some lines which have been a great blessing to me:

            "'I can not say,
    Beneath the pressure of life's cares to-day,
            I joy in these;
            But I _can_ say
    That I _had rather_ walk this rugged way
            If Him it please.

           "'I can not feel
    That all is well, when darkening clouds conceal
            The shining sun;
            But then I know
    God lives and loves, and say, since that is so,
            "Thy will be done."

            "'I can not speak
    In happy tones; the tear-drops on my cheek
            Show I am sad;
            But I _can_ speak
    _Of grace to suffer_ with submission meek,
            Until made glad.

            "'I do not see
    Why God should e'en permit _some things_ to be;
            When He is Love;
            But I _can_ see,
    Though often dimly, through the mystery,
            His hand above.

            "'I do not know
    Where falls the seed that I have tried to sow
            With greatest care;
            But I shall know
    The meaning of each waiting hour below
            Sometime, somewhere.'

     "Selected with tender sympathy.

    "Your friend,


In conclusion it will not be out of place to glance for a moment
backward and to call attention definitely to some plain facts.

Mr. Holcombe inherited from his parents a diversely perverse and bad
nature. Already in his childhood he was cross, irritable, spiteful. In
his boyhood his temper was savage and revengful. In his manhood he took
the life of a fellowman. He inherited the love of drink from his father,
who was a confirmed drunkard before the child was born; and the child
himself was drunk before he was twelve years old. He was given to
sensuality from his boyhood.

His education was not good--as far as the educating power of daily
example goes, it was bad, positively bad, continually bad. His
associations outside of home were, for the most part, of the worst sort.
His boyish companions were given to gambling, pilfering, fighting, and
in all these things they called him chief. But the companionship of boys
did not long satisfy him and already before he was fifteen, he drank and
gambled with grown men in the bar-rooms of the village.

He had an impulsive sympathy for helpless suffering when it was before
his eyes. He had a vague, faint fear of the Power that makes for
righteousness, so that in his youth he made three or four ineffectual
efforts to get the mastery of his evil nature and to become better. He
provided well for his family in meat and drink and the like. He was
generous to his friends. When this is said, about all is said on that
side. Apart from these things he gave himself up for forty years to the
indulgence of all his passions without let or hinderance from parental
authority, domestic bonds, fear of God or regard for man. So that the
adverse power of evil habit, strengthened by forty years of indulgence,
was superimposed upon the moral helplessness of an inherited bad nature
made worse by bad education and bad associations.

Such he _was_. The preceding pages have described in part what he _is_.
And only in part. The uttermost details of the purity of his life since
October, 1877, could not be stated without violating delicacy any more
than the uttermost details of his sinful life could be uncurtained
without injuring the innocent and offending the public. The candid
reader will bridge for himself the past and present of Mr. Holcombe's
life. These are the facts. And these facts are freely and fully
recognized by all classes of the community in which he lives his daily
life. Thousands of eyes have watched him for years and no one has
detected any immoral practice or act or found any fault of a serious
nature in him.

Candor requires us to say that he is sometimes over-sensitive, that he
has his own views as to the best methods of conducting his work and is
sometimes a little domineering in carrying them out; that he sometimes
uses unnecessary harshness in his public addresses in dealing with the
sins and shortcomings of people, especially of the converts of the
Mission, a thing which is probably due to his over-anxiety for them;
that he has not yet learned economy and the best way of conducting his
financial affairs, and that owing to his own former wicked life he would
be a trifle too severe in the control of his family but for the good
sense and prudent firmness of his wife. But these are minor matters and
when they are said, about all is said on _that_ side.

And Mr. Holcombe has come to occupy a unique and commanding position in
the city of Louisville. All classes respect him, all classes look up to
him and people from all classes seek his counsel and aid in certain

Mothers in distress over the sins of their sons, sisters in sorrow over
the dissipation of their brothers, wives in despair over the wickedness
of their husbands, all these go to Steve Holcombe for advice, comfort,
encouragement and help; and when they can not go, they write; sometimes
from distant places, as far away as Canada. The ministers of Louisville
refer to him those extreme cases which they meet with in their ministry,
and which they feel his experience and his knowledge of the ways and
temptations of dissipated men enable him to handle, as a letter from Dr.
Broadus and one from Dr. Willits, elsewhere reproduced, will show. And
the dissipated men themselves, the drunkards, the gamblers, the outcast,
the lost--all these feel that Steve Holcombe is their friend, a friend
who has the willingness and the power to help them up, and they go to
him when they are in distress or when they awake to a sense of their
wretched condition and desire to rise again. And through his
instrumentality many a one _has_ risen again, and to many a mother,
wife, sister, family, has come through him a resurrection of buried hope
and joy.

And those gamblers who have never yet come to distress or to religion
regard him with admiration and affection. The following letter from Mr.
A. M. Waddill, one of the leading sporting men of the South, was written
in answer to an inquiry as to how Mr. Holcombe is looked upon by the

     LOUISVILLE, KY., August 13, 1888.
     _Rev. Gross Alexander_:

     DEAR SIR: In writing of my friend, Steve P. Holcombe, I will
     say that his adoption of the pulpit has not lowered him in the
     esteem of his former associates--the gamblers. Far from it.
     They are his admirers and his friends, and, when they have the
     funds, are as willing supporters of his work as any. They can
     not show him too much respect and can not exhibit a more
     profound love than is shown him every day by some one of his
     old companions. He has wielded a wonderful influence over them
     for good, both here and elsewhere, and has made many converts
     from their ranks, who could not have been influenced probably
     by any other minister of the Gospel. I myself have been, I am
     happy to say, wonderfully benefited by the influence of his
     benevolent character.

     Very respectfully yours,
     A. M. WADDILL.

The esteem in which he is held by the leading business men of the city
is shown by the fact that the Board of Directors of the Mission is
composed of such men as John A. Carter, J. P. Torbitt, L. Richardson, J.
B. McFerran, R. J. Menefee, J. T. Burghard, H. V. Loving, Arthur Peter,
John T. Moore, J. K. Goodloe, P. Meguiar, C. McClarty, W. T. Rolph, John
Finzer, with P. H. Tapp as Treasurer.

He has the confidence and esteem of the officers both of the city and
State, and he has a large influence with them.

The Mayor, the Chief of Police, and the Judges of the Courts recognize
his usefulness, his ability and his efficiency by co-operating with him,
as far as may be, and by adopting his views and suggestions as to the
treatment of criminals charged with lesser crimes and misdemeanors.

The Governor, J. Proctor Knott, readily granted pardon to the only man
for whom Mr. Holcombe ever asked it, and the testimony of this now happy
man is given in this volume.

Not only is Mr. Holcombe thus in honor and demand at home; he is in
demand all over the country. Until it came to be known that he would not
leave his own work in Louisville, he was constantly receiving requests
to attend or conduct meetings of one sort or another in all parts of
Kentucky and in several other States.

Year before last, in the summer of 1886, he was, by appointment of the
Governor of the State, a Commissioner from Kentucky in the National
Convention of Corrections and Charities at Washington.

In the fall of 1887 he attended, by request, the Convention of Christian
Workers of the United States and Canada, in the Broadway Tabernacle in
New York City, and made two addresses, both of which are printed among
his sermons in this book. He was appointed a member of the Executive
Committee of that body, in which capacity he now serves.

But not only in direct results has the power of God been manifested
through this instrument. Mr. Holcombe's conversion and work have had the
effect of quickening the faith and zeal of all the churches of the city.
It has not only drawn them nearer together in fostering and furthering a
common enterprise into which they entered of their own motion, and
without solicitation, but it has revived the languishing faith of all
classes. Not only has the Gospel saved Steve Holcombe and others, he
(let it be said reverently and understood rightly) has, in one sense,
saved the Gospel. Many had lost faith in it. They thought it was an old,
worn-out story. It had lost its novelty and vitality, and it had not the
power it claimed to have. Its achievements were not equal to its
pretensions. Some of the men who have been brought to a better life
through Mr. Holcombe's instrumentality have said that, though they did
not, out of respect for other people, publish the fact, they had lost
all faith and were, at heart, utter infidels. Some of them continued to
attend church and to give to the church of their means, and to give
respectful attention to the preaching, but it was out of deference to
relatives or respect for custom, or for mere Sunday pastime. But the
conversion of Steve Holcombe, and the life he was living, arrested
their thought, awakened inquiry and revived their faith, and many of
these have been saved.

The conversion of these has in turn resulted in the conviction of others
and so the stream has broadened and deepened. As Mr. Holcombe says in
one of his addresses, "There is naturally in the minds of men a doubt as
to the truth and divinity of the religion which fails to do what it
proposes to do, and so in times of religious deadness men lose faith and
unbelief gets stronger and more stubborn while they see no examples of
the power of the Gospel to save bad men. But when bad men have been
reached and quickened and made better through the Gospel, and this
continues year after year, then the tide turns, and faith becomes
natural and easy not to say contagious and inevitable."

These effects have demonstrated the reality of conversion in opposition
to the view that it is an effect of the excitement of the imagination.
"One hears," it is said, "the narration of the experience of others who
claim to be converted, and he works at himself till he works himself up
to the persuasion that he also has got it." But, as one of the converts
in narrating his experience said, "Imagination could not take the whisky
habit out of a man. It never did take it out of me. But the power of
this Gospel which Steve Holcombe preaches has taken it out root and

Another thing is shown also by the history of this work. A distinguished
minister said once, "We must get the top of society converted and then
we may expect to reach the lower classes." Mr. Holcombe, on the
contrary, in accordance with the example and words of Jesus and of Paul,
of Luther and of Wesley, has given his time and labor primarily and
largely to the lower classes and the lost classes, and through these he
has reached also the higher classes, exemplifying again what was said by
the most apostolic man since the Apostles, that the Gospel "works not
from the top down but from the bottom up."

If you should ask what is the explanation of Mr. Holcombe's success, it
may be answered that it is due to three things. The extraordinary change
which has taken place in his character and in his life arrests attention
and produces conviction.

In the second place is his intense and pitying love for those who are
not saved, and especially for those who, besides being most utterly
lost, are, either by their own suspicions and fears or by the customs
and coldheartedness of society, or both, shut out from all sympathy and
opportunity. He has a very mother's love for poor, sinful, struggling
souls, and he shows this not in words only or chiefly, but in service.
Some account has already been given from one of the Louisville papers
concerning his rescue of a man who had been drunk continuously for
twenty-three years. To have preached temperance and morality and duty to
this wild and degraded man would have been useless, to have _told_ him
of the love of God would, perhaps, have been no better. But when this
far off love of God took concrete form in the person of Steve Holcombe
and was brought nigh and made real in his brotherliness and gentleness
and patience and service, it proved stronger than a twenty-three years'
whisky habit and to-day this man, who lately dwelt apart from men like
the man among the tombs and who was possessed by the demon of drink so
that no man could bind him with bonds of morality or duty--this man is
to-day clothed and in his right mind. And though he has not fully
apprehended the way of salvation, he says, yet a transfiguration has
taken place in him which is little short of miraculous. He says also
that he has got some light on the question of personal religion. He is
thoroughly honest and will not claim or profess what he has not. He says
a man who has always gone slow in everything else can't go fast in
getting religion.[1]

[1] This man has, since the above was written, been brought into a clear
experience of conversion, and is now a clean and happy Christian man.

In the third place, Mr Holcombe's success is due to the character of his
preaching. It is the simple Gospel, wherein two points are continually
made and emphasized, the reality and tenderness of God's love for sinful
men, even the worst, and the absolute necessity of regeneration and a
holy life. Both these great truths he illustrates with fitness and force
from his own life and that of the men who have been converted under his
ministry. His sermons are so striking in their directness and
simplicity, and so helpful withal, that some of them have been
reproduced in outline in the present volume, and the reader who has
never heard him may get some idea of his preaching from these, and, it
is hoped, some profit as well.

Whatever men may say, the fact remains that when the Gospel is preached
on apostolic conditions, it has still apostolic success.

In 1886, when Rev. Sam P. Jones was holding a meeting in Cincinnati, he
said of Mr. Holcombe:

"Mr. Holcombe's work is finer than anything done since the death of
Jerry McAuley. He is fully consecrated to the work of rescuing the
perishing and saving the fallen. Hundreds of men, dug by him from the
deepest depths of dissipation and degradation, are to-day clothed in
their right minds. Some of the most efficient Christian men have passed
through his Mission, at No. 436 Jefferson street, in Louisville. I feel
that in helping Steve Holcombe, I shall be able to say, at least: 'Lord,
if I did not do much when I was on earth, I did what I could to help
Steve Holcombe, the converted gambler, in his mission work among men who
never hear preaching, and to whom a helping hand is never extended.'

"There are mighty few men like Steve Holcombe to take hold of poor
fellows and bring them back to a purer and better life."

In 1888, during a great temperance meeting in Louisville, Mr. Francis
Murphy said of Mr. Holcombe:

"Of all the noble men I know, he is one of the noblest, and Louisville
may well be proud of the grand, big-hearted Christian man, who, in his
quiet, unassuming manner is doing such a world of good here."

Mr. D. L. Moody, during his great meeting in Louisville, in the months
of January and February, 1888, said of Mr. Holcombe:

"I have got very much interested in a work in your city conducted by a
man you call Steve Holcombe. I don't know when I met a man who so struck
my heart. I went up and saw his headquarters and how he works. He is
doing the noblest work I know of. I want you to help him with money and
words of cheer. Remember, here in Louisville you make so many drunkards
that you must have a place to take care of the wrecks. Steve Holcombe
rescues them. Let us help him all we can."

And Mr. Holcombe's work is not done. He is in the vigor of life, with
fifteen or twenty years of life and service, God willing, before him. He
is only beginning to reap the results of these ten years of study and
these ten years of Christian living and working. He knows the Gospel
better than he ever did before, and he preaches it better. He knows
himself and God better than he ever did before, and he lives nearer the
Source of Power. He knows men good and bad, better than he ever did
before, and he deals with them in all states and stages more wisely and

He is of that nervous and Intense temperament which can not rest without
getting something done, and he is always doing something to advance his
work. And though so intensely in earnest, he is singularly, it is not at
all too strong to say, entirely free from fanaticism. He is in high
esteem, with large influence at home and abroad, and this he does not
prostitute to selfishness, but uses for usefulness.

And, best of all, he has tokens, not a few, in the form of discipline on
the one hand, and success on the other, that God is guarding and guiding
his Life and Work.




    LOUISVILLE, KY., November 6, 1883.

    _My Dear Brother_:

    Our meetings continue in interest. Last night the Holy Ghost was
    with us in great power. At the close of the talk, we invited
    backsliders to come forward and kneel. Six responded. Then we
    invited all others who wanted to become Christians to come
    forward and nine others responded, most of them the most
    hardened sinners in the city. I am sure nothing but the power of
    God could have lifted them from their seats. Men who have fought
    each other actually embraced last night. Continue to pray for



       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., November 19, 1883.

    _Dear Brother_:

    Last night about two hundred persons were present, most of them
    non-churchgoers. About forty stood up for prayers. And oh, such
    good testimonies, no harangues but living testimonies as to what
    God can and will do for those who will let him.

    Yours truly,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., November 21, 1883.

    _Dear Brother_:

    How grateful I am to you for all your kindness God alone knows.
    I may and do lack education and refinement, but I will not allow
    myself under any circumstances to lack gratitude. The results of
    our meetings prove to me that it is the work of the Holy Ghost.
    Of course, I could hardly believe you would come to Louisville
    even for a little while and not come to see me, one who has cost
    you so much of time and care. There was a time when I could not
    have stood it. But thanks to God I am now above letting small
    things or great things upset me. Give my love to your dear

    Yours truly,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., February 3, 1884.

    _Dear Brother_:

    How I do wish you could have been where you could have looked in
    on us last night. The room was full. They had to be turned away
    from the door. And they were so anxious to hear the glad
    tidings. No carpet, nothing to deaden the sound and yet you
    could have heard a pin drop. All the churches are feeling the
    results of our work. Yesterday G. H. joined the Christian
    church. He seems to be a thoroughly converted man, if I know
    one. P. D., whom you know, came in here about a week ago under
    the influence of liquor. Said "I am an infidel and a drunkard.
    Pray for me." We did pray for him. He has been coming ever
    since. He is now perfectly sober and says he was never so moved
    before. These are two out of many cases.

    Yours truly,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., February 7, 1884.

    _Dear Brother_:

    Your kind favor received. P. D. comes every night and sometimes
    speaks. He is not drinking. He says he can not believe. He does
    so pitifully and pleadingly ask for the prayers of Christian
    people. He is in earnest. Pray for him.

    C. T. testified last night. He was a schoolmate of yours. He
    said: "For the last five years, when I would meet Brother
    Holcombe, I would say to myself: 'I wish he would say good day,
    and pass on.' But he would not. He generally had something to
    say about the way I was living. Of late, every time he has met
    me he has invited me to the Mission. I would promise to go, but
    went, instead, to some bar-room, until I wound up by losing my
    position, being sent to the work-house, and being left by a
    loving wife. Two weeks ago he met me again, and this time I kept
    my promise. I have been coming every night since, and have not
    touched liquor since, and by God's help I do not expect to do so
    any more. I enjoy the meetings so much. The two hours I spend
    here seem so short."

    G. H. never misses a night. He is in the room with me now
    singing, "Happy Day, When Jesus Washed My Sins Away." And he is
    happy. Although in the last four years he has spent thirty
    thousand dollars in riotous living, and although his wife has
    left him, he said to me: "Brother Holcombe, I believe I am as
    happy as I ever was in my life." I asked him, why? He said:
    "Because I have something which I never had when I had wife,
    child and money. I have the forgiveness of sins and the
    friendship of God."

    I said: "You will have to watch the devil or he will get you in
    his power again."

    "Yes," he replied, "the devil told me when I first began to come
    to this Mission that I was too mean, and my heart was too dead
    ever to get religion; but I fought him on my knees and I got the
    victory. I know how hard it was to get, and by the help of God I
    am going to keep it, whether I ever have wife or child or money

    Pray for me, that I may make no mistake in my difficult work.
    Yours, as ever,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., February 13, 1884.

_Dear Brother_:

    I did just what you suggested; though I was disappointed I did
    not show it. God is helping me to give up my preferences. I am
    trusting in the Lord, and sweetly singing

    "Oh, to be nothing, nothing,
      Only as led by His hand;
    A messenger at His gateway,
      Only waiting for His command."

I am willing to preach on the streets, at the Mission, at Walnut-street
church, or I am willing to be door-keeper--anything for Christ.

So you heard that I am improving in preaching. Well, I do believe that I
shall yet learn how to preach.

I had a letter requesting me to go to Nicholasville to preach. But I can
not go. I feel I have a little, humble work to do in Louisville, and I
am going to do it. The mission men are all doing well. Though to you I
may seem very weak, I am to them what you are to me. Yours, etc.,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., May 1, 1884.

    _Dear Brother_:

    Yours to hand. I do not think you negligent. I know you love me,
    and I know you love the cause of Christ for which I am laboring,
    and I know you will do all you can to help me to help it. I am
    surprised, not at what you don't do, but at what you do do.

    I suppose you saw in the paper what a handsome thing they did
    for us in the way of giving us a fifty-dollar parlor set, a fine
    Brussels carpet, a large walnut book-case and many other
    articles, including a fine portrait of dear Brother Morris.

    Even for this donation and for all the love shown me by these
    good people I am indebted to you. "Jesus must needs go through
    Samaria" to save the woman at the well. You must needs be sent
    to Portland church to save and instruct and guide Steve
    Holcombe. This morning I prayed nearly an hour before breakfast,
    and it was lucky for me I did. Something came up at noon that
    would have completely upset me, but I was fortified and
    withstood the temptation successfully.

    I am improving every way. My health is better, my memory is
    better. I can read my Bible more profitably than ever and I can
    pray better.

    God grant you may have good health, length of days and all of
    this world's goods that may be good for you.

    S. P. H.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., May 23, 1884.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Yours of the 16th to hand. God is so good to me. Certain
    temptations have come to me lately and I could not have borne
    them but for His help. I talked at the church last Sunday night
    in the absence of Dr. Messick. I felt so humble, it seemed a
    privilege to be treated shamefully that I might have an
    opportunity of showing that a Christian can give up his own
    rights for the good of others. I have grown in grace since you
    showed me the necessity of secret prayer and of getting so well
    acquainted with God that he would become more real to me than my
    own father ever was.

    You have seen in the papers poor D. T.'s attempt at suicide. But
    God has spared him yet another season. He will recover. Pray for
    him. May God bless you and strengthen you and keep you is the
    prayer of

    Your friend and brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 23, 1884.

    _My Dear Brother:_

    Yours received this A. M. I am so pressed for means I can not
    now buy the book you speak of, but will do so as soon as I can.
    I am _taking time_ to study. I am getting much better acquainted
    with God and the better I know him the more I love him.

    Yours in love,

    S. P. H.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 25, 1884.

    _Dear Brother:_

    The men are all doing tolerably well. The attendance at the
    meetings is increasing. Sunday-school holds up well. My great
    desire now is to be able to study the Bible better. The more I
    think of what you have been to me, the more grateful I feel. I
    wish I could in some substantial way show you how I appreciate
    your care. But God will reward you.

    Yours, etc.,  S. P. H.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 30, 1884.

    _Dear Brother:_

    The Bible is becoming very sweet to me. I can study it all day
    long and not get tired. I am sure the Holy Ghost is helping me.
    I have read the book you gave me. It is very helpful.

    Brother Davidson has gone to housekeeping. He has his son and
    daughter with him. Oh, the love and power of God. Praise His

    S. P. H.

       *       *       *       *       *


    CHICAGO, ILL., September 5, 1884.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Yours of the 2d to hand. Think of you? The sun may forget to
    shine, but poor Steve Holcombe can never forget the man who has
    done so much for his soul. Never has a day passed since my
    conversion that I have not prayed God's blessing on you, your
    family and your work.

    Well, Chicago is a great city, a grand field for Christian work.
    I find many earnest Christian men and women laboring for the
    Master. I am not idle either. I talked four times last
    Sunday--three times on the street and once at a Mission.

    I am having a royal time, sailing on the lake, riding on
    street-cars, taking in the town. I wish you were here.

    God bless you always. STEVE.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 1, 1885.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Yours of June 25th received. I do hope you will get Brother
    C.[2] those books to sell. These men must have employment. They
    can not live, as some Christian people seem to think, on
    promises. It is all right to say, "Oh, let go and trust in the
    Lord," to a man who knows the way, but it is all not right when
    it is said to a poor struggling gambler, who, in faith, is as
    weak as a baby. I know of Brother L.'s troubles. My heart goes
    out to him. All well.

    Yours,  S. P. H.

[2] A converted gambler.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., May 15, 1885.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Since writing my card this morning I have learned that D. McC.,
    the boss Nashville gambler, and an old partner of mine, is
    attending Sam Jones' meetings. I want you to go to see him.
    Don't be afraid to go right up to him and introduce yourself.
    Tell him you and I are old friends, and that I love him, and
    requested you to see him. But you know better how to approach
    him than I can tell you. But you must see him. Take Sam Jones to
    see him. Visit him at his home, with Sam Jones. He is worthy of
    concentration. If you can get him converted, he will be a power
    for good. Most of your members know him, I guess. If you don't
    like to call on him, alone, get some of them to go along and
    introduce you. May God help us save poor D. McC.



       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., December 20, 1887.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Your favor to hand. I have had a terrible battle with self, but
    by the grace of God I have come out conquerer. I praise God now
    that I had the struggle, because it has enabled me to realize
    the emptiness of all that is earthly. It has convinced me that
    to depend on men is "like a foot out of joint." I make more
    miles toward my haven of rest during a night of storm than in
    days of calm weather. Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy
    New Year, I am as ever,

    Your friend and brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., December 29, 1887.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Yours was received a few days ago. Yes, I thank God I am almost
    rid of my love of praise. I am willing to do the dirty and
    disagreeable work and let others have the picnics and the
    praise. "Who am I that I should be a leader of the Lord's
    people?" But I confess I did not get to this point without a
    struggle. How I did have to wrestle with God. He showed me the
    envy that was in my heart, that is my jealousy of any one who
    did more work or had more attention paid them than I had. But
    glory to God I hope I am rid of it at last.


    S. P. H.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., January 26, 1888.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Yours just received. I hardly think it would be worth while to
    ask Mr. Moody to visit our Mission, as his time is so completely
    occupied. I think our work is as much thought of as ever. It is
    quiet but I think deep. I have kept it out of the papers,
    because too much newspaper notoriety is calculated to cause a
    poor little-brained fellow to exaggerate his own importance. And
    then there is such sweetness in the work when you are sure it is
    not for praise but for Christ. I am afraid that many of us on
    analyzing our hearts will find first, self; second, self; and
    almost all for self in one way or another. May God deliver me
    from self.

    Yours as ever,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 10, 1888.

    _Dear Brother:_

    Your letter to hand. There is nothing so comforting as true
    friendship. Alas! how little of it there is in this world. Happy
    the man who can claim _one true friend_. I know a man that has a
    true friend. I am that man and you are that friend. How do I
    know it? You are so faithful in telling me the truth about
    myself and showing me my faults and mistakes. Who but a true
    friend that had your best interest at heart would have written
    such a letter as this last one from you? I want you to know that
    while I loved you much before, I love you more now. I have been
    going through the fire lately, but I think I shall come out all
    right. Doesn't God sift a fellow? I believe I can say I rejoice
    in tribulation. I find I can not expect to be understood in this
    world or always have sympathy, but I do expect, if "I meekly
    wait and murmur not," to find it is all right in my Father's

    Your friend and brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *

TO S. P. DALTON (one of the converts).

    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 17, 1883.

    _My Dear Brother Dalton:_

    Your good letter to hand. It is, as you say, so sweet to be
    bound together by the ties of Christian love, and there is no
    tie which binds men more closely than the religion of Christ. It
    breaks down every barrier, and all are alike to the true
    Christian man; rich, poor, halt, lame, blind, there is no
    difference. And the Christian is happiest when he is denying
    himself to help others.

    In order to convince the world of the truth and power of our
    religion, our own standard must be very high. We must deny
    ourselves of things which in themselves would be innocent, but
    which, if practiced by us, would lessen our influence for good.
    And how comforting to think that if we _suffer_ with Him, we
    shall also reign with Him. The suffering comes first, the
    humiliation first, the toil and weariness first. Yes, we may
    _expect_ troubles and crosses here, but we leave it all behind
    when we enter within the gates into the city. I thank God that
    your heart has been changed and that you have tasted of the
    powers of the world to come. I am glad you find more pleasure in
    my poor company and lame words than in the follies and
    friendships of the world. Hoping for you all good things, I am
    with much love,

    Your brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 23, 1885.

    _Dear Brother Dalton:_

    Your letter from the great Falls is to hand. It is very
    gratifying to me to know that in the midst of so much excitement
    you could and did think of one so humble and obscure as myself.
    I have been at the Falls and have seen many wonderful and grand
    things, but the most beautiful thing I have ever seen is an old
    hardened sinner picking up his grip-sack and bidding the devil
    farewell forever. And, praise the Lord, that is my privilege
    almost daily in the dear old mission. Though the weather is very
    hot, we have glorious meetings; new converts testifying almost
    nightly. Two professional gamblers have just been converted. One
    of them was one of the sweetest conversions I ever saw. The old
    converts are nearly all doing well. Don't grow, cold, but be in
    some work for the Master every day, and you will not miss the
    time or regret the service. God bless you.

    Your friend and brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., April 17, 1886.

    _Dear Brother Dalton:_

    Yours of the 6th to hand. We have purchased the property for our
    new home, and we shall move in in about a month. Our work is
    moving like a thing of life. It was never so prosperous before.
    I wish you could be here to work with us. Sister Clark is in her
    glory. She is one of the grandest Christian women I have ever
    seen. Nearly all the converts are doing well.



       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., November 15, 1886.

    _Dear Brother Dalton:_

    I receive no letters that touch my heart more deeply than those
    I receive from you. Our work is more quiet now. The papers do
    not notice it so much, but we are doing a good work. It is now
    more among the unfortunate business men of the city some of
    whom, were fallen very low. Some who have recently been
    reclaimed are now first-class business men. The old converts are
    all right and doing well, but they don't stand by me in the work
    as I wish they would. Oh, for "consecration and concentration."
    That is my motto.

    My married daughter has got one of the best of husbands and I
    think they are the happiest couple I know. The rest are all
    well. I hope you will be blown back this way by some favoring
    breeze, so we can have your help in our work.



       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., January 6, 1887.

    _Dear Brother Dalton:_

    Our work is going on grandly again. You can see from the papers
    I am kept as busy as a bee. You must know from the number that
    come that my time is all taken up in nursing them. Hence, I can
    not write long letters, however much I would like to.

    Hope to see you soon.



       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., October 28, 1887.

    _S.P. Dalton, Cleveland, Ohio:_

    DEAR BROTHER DALTON: Yours of the 17th is received. I am glad
    you are an active worker in the church, and that they have shown
    their appreciation of you by making you a steward in the church.

    I believe you will render a good account of your stewardship.
    The main thing for you to guard against is _care_. Remember,
    always when you think you are too busy to pray in secret, read
    the Bible, go to the meetings, etc., what Jesus said to Martha:
    "Thou art careful and troubled about many things."

    I am trying to be a faithful servant. God is blessing my humble
    efforts. The converts are sticking and the work is growing. Most
    of the converts are prospering in business. Some that were in
    the gutter are now making from fifty to two hundred dollars a

    Your friend and brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., May 11, 1888.

    _Dear Brother Dalton:_

    Yours of the 9th to hand. Glad to hear of your continued success
    in business. You are a great man, but a man who is so prosperous
    in business must keep his eyes open.

    Remember to give to the Lord all that belongs to Him of every
    dollar you earn. John Wesley's motto is hard to improve on:
    "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can." And oh!
    what sweetness there is in giving. Never get too busy to do some
    Christian work. We have just had Murphy at Louisville, for a



       *       *       *       *       *


[3] A few of the letters to Mr. Holcombe have been selected out of
several hundreds.

    _Mr. Holcombe:_

    I have heard and read so much of your influence and prayers for
    men leading dissolute lives, that I am going to ask you if you
    won't find my husband and stay and pray with him until he is
    saved. The other night, when he was drinking very hard, he
    appealed to me to send for you to pray for him. He has much
    confidence in your prayers, and believes in your life; I have
    often heard him say so. He has a noble, loving disposition, and
    forgiving; so you need not be afraid of offending him. His whole
    heart would forever offer thanksgivings for his delivery from
    drink; for it is that that he prays for. I have thought that,
    perhaps, God intended salvation to come to him through you; and
    how earnestly I pray that it may. So much has been done, and so
    many prayers offered for him, won't you please, at your next
    opportunity, find him and talk and pray with him? You would make
    a miserable, lonely woman's life happy again. We have been so
    happy together, so congenial, so well mated; and if God will
    answer all our united prayers, happiness will return to our
    hearts tenfold. Oh, Mr. Holcombe, pray the prayer of faith, and
    my heart will ever turn in grateful acknowledgment to God for
    making you the humble instrument of my much-loved husband's
    salvation. Won't you go now immediately and wrestle for and with
    him in prayer?

    Believe me, most earnestly, your co-worker in prayer for his

    MRS. H.

       *       *       *       *       *

    BIRMINGHAM, ALA., May 12, 1888.

    _Dear Brother Holcombe:_

    I hope you will not think hard of me for asking you to write
    once more to my husband. I feel so confident it will stir up a
    remembrance of his conversion. Oh, brother, don't give up
    helping me. Try to save my husband. It nearly kills me to see
    him come home full of the destroying thing called whisky; and it
    seems to have such a strong hold on him. All the imploring I can
    do will not change him at all. I have grieved until my life is
    almost grieved away. But oh, God will surely hear my cry after a
    while. If I could give my life to save my husband's soul, I
    would willingly, yes, gladly, do it. Brother Holcombe, what do
    you think about this plan? If you can get one of the converts
    whom my husband knows, and one who has been a great drunkard, to
    write a friendly, brotherly letter to him, don't you think that
    might do some good? Oh, I have thought of so many plans and ways
    to try and get him back to the Lord. I am sorry to say that the
    city of Birmingham is the most wicked place I have ever seen; so
    few Christians, and they are not working. I do fervently hope
    God will send some one here who is like yourself, not ashamed to
    work for the lost. I hope you will write, Brother Holcombe. Pray
    for me; and oh, do ask all the friends there to pray for my

    Mrs. P.

       *       *       *       *       *

    LOUISVILLE, KY., December 3d.

    _Brother Holcombe:_

    Will you ask the prayers of your people in behalf of my
    skeptical son-in-law. He is a talented man, but he is using his
    influence against his best friend. My poor child is suffering
    the penalty for marrying an infidel. If I dared tell you how
    desperate the case, I am sure your heart would be troubled to
    its depths. Do pray that this man may be led into the light of
    the Gospel, and become a better husband, father and citizen.


       *       *       *       *       *

    BOWLING GREEN, November 10, 1884.

    _Mr. Holcombe:_

    Will you please go and see my son L., and try to persuade him to
    live a better life? He has great faith in what you say. When you
    wrote to him last spring he seemed very much affected, and said
    to me. "That is one of the best men in the world." Oh, for
    heaven's sake, pray for him. If you can go and talk to him,
    advise him to leave Kentucky and go away off and reform his
    life. If he comes back here, _danger awaits him_. I feel sure
    you can influence him, for he believes you are sincere. He is
    not mean and sinful at heart, but oh, the accursed demon Drink
    causes him all his trouble. If he could get some respectable
    work and some one to encourage him and lift him above his
    darkened life, I believe he would be all right. He has relatives
    there, but they are the last to apply to for assistance. He is
    in jail in your city now. God only knows the pang it causes me
    to say he is in jail. He was such a good Sunday-school boy and a
    good Templar. Is it possible that he is to be lost? I can't yet
    give up all hope. While my Father in heaven has so sorely
    afflicted me, I can't help believing that after awhile the
    change will come. Oh, how I wish Brother Morris could go to him
    to-day. He took more interest in him than any one else ever did.
    Please do what you can. I know God _will hear your prayer_ and
    help you to save him. Yours with a mother's aching heart for her

    ---- ----

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHICAGO, May 24th.

    _Rev. Steve Holcombe:_

    MY DEAR FRIEND: I have just received a letter from my son, who
    has almost ruined himself and broken my heart by his
    intemperance. I have been always praying for his reformation,
    but felt almost hopeless, as he would not go to church and
    seemed hardened, and I know very well he could not rely on his
    own strength and would not look to a stronger arm for help. Do
    you know when I received a letter from him to-day making a full
    confession of all his past course, and saying he had been to
    hear you and asked for your prayers, I could not realize it? How
    we are surprised when God hears us. I write this to thank you
    for anything you may have said to help him, and to beg you to
    follow him with your prayers and advice. Oh, won't you try to
    help him all you can? It will be a hard battle with him, poor
    fellow, as he has been for some time indulging freely. Will you
    look after him as much as you can and if he should fall, help
    him up? I am praying for you and your work, and have been doing
    so for a long time. Your friend,

    MRS. P. W. M.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Dear Mr. Holcombe:_

    Will you please come out to my home on Third street in the
    morning as early as you can? I dislike to trouble you in this
    way; but I am in great trouble with Mr. L. He has been drinking,
    and I feel that you can be the means of bringing him back to
    God. I have prayed with him, and done all I could for him. I
    feel crushed to the earth with this deep sorrow and
    mortification. Don't let him know that I sent for you. He is
    quite sick to-night. Pray that God may sustain us and lift us
    out of this deep dark sorrow, and cast out the demon that seems
    to possess my poor dear husband. God bless you, our dear good
    friend, and keep us all this night.

    Sincerely your friend,

    MRS. L.

       *       *       *       *       *

    LOUISVILLE, KY., April 12, 1888.

    _Rev. S. P. Holcombe:_

    DEAR BROTHER: It is with grief in my heart I must write you
    again. Mr. L. went on a business trip three weeks since, but
    fell into bad company, and has been on a protracted spree. He
    came home last night utterly discouraged--will not even try to
    pray again. I am almost discouraged myself; can only wait and
    trust. I think if you could make it convenient to call to see
    him to-day, perhaps God will put words into your mouth that will
    help him. I leave it with you; and would not ask you to leave
    your duties, except I know your willingness to work for the
    Master. He will not know that I have sent for you. Oh, help me
    to pray that God will help my husband.

    Your friend,

    MRS. L.

       *       *       *       *       *


    _Friend Holcombe:_

    I am locked up, and go to the work-house this morning. Oh, can
    anything be done to help me; I want to become a different man.
    Try and save me.

    Truly, ---- ----

       *       *       *       *       *

    CITY WORK-HOUSE, November 1, 1882.

    _Rev. Stephen P. Holcombe:_

    DEAR SIR: You kindly requested me to write you in event I
    reached the conclusion that under a change of condition I might
    become a different man. My knowledge of your own career inspires
    me with more confidence than anything that has ever fallen under
    my notice. Coupled with the impression made upon me by the
    sermon on Sunday afternoon, I firmly believe if you will come
    and see me, and allow me to state to you fully my convictions as
    to your ability to make a sober man of me, you will do one of
    the greatest and noblest acts of your life; and, in keeping me
    from the slavery of drink, rescue one who has suffered, and who
    has caused, and now is causing, much suffering to others. I
    stand ready to unite with you in any manner you may suggest, and
    pray God Almighty to bless you.

    Truly, ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CITY WORK-HOUSE, November 2, 1882.

    _Friend Holcombe:_

    When I penned the few lines to you yesterday, I had to do it in
    so short a space of time, that in all probability I omitted to
    state specifically why I desired to see you. Heretofore, I have
    never entertained any settled plan of operations to restrain my
    appetite for liquor other than the mere will power I deemed in
    my own possession and control, and, as a result, would
    invariably find myself in the very midst of violating every
    previously conceived resolution. Your kindness in pointing out a
    course of discipline and conduct, and extending to me a welcome
    among those who have made, and who are making, successful battle
    against the great destroyer of happiness, awakened within me an
    entirely different current of thought; and when I stated I would
    unite with you in any manner you would suggest, to effect the
    object in view, I meant it with all my heart and mind; and I
    appeal to an all-wise and merciful Creator to attest the
    sincerity of my declaration in this matter. Again, my resolve is
    to attend strictly to any suggestions you may make. The accursed
    appetite has beggared me. I do not ask charity from any mortal
    toward me. I am not deserving of either sympathy or pity; and
    while the embracing of the cause of religion and temperance can
    not of itself work reformation, it places a man in a position
    where he can climb upward and go forward, instead of forever
    traveling the broad way that leads to destruction. Holcombe, I
    want to redeem myself. I only crave this one last opportunity,
    and if God will help me no man shall ever know of me using
    either intoxicating drink or profane language as long as breath
    is in my body. When released, I do not want to be idle a day. I
    have mouths to feed whose entry into this troubled life is
    chargeable solely to me. I will work for a dollar a day to do my
    duty towards them. Judge W. L. Jackson, Judge H. H. Bruee, Gary
    B. Blackburn or Major Tom Hays, would, I am sure, put in a good
    word for me; and Judge Price himself, I think has some hope for
    me. I had a violent chill to-day, and am in the hospital
    department, and my fingers are somewhat stiff from researches in
    the geological department.[4] Hence this cramped writing. Come
    and see me, and do not give me up as hopeless.

    Truly, ---- ----.

[4] He means the rock-pile.

       *       *       *       *       *

    BOWLING GREEN, KY., March 27, 1888.

    _Rev. Steve Holcombe:_

    DEAR SIR: I am so much obliged to you for the kind letter you
    were pleased to write me. You no doubt think ere this that the
    seed has fallen on stony ground, and, perhaps, among thorns; but
    I can assure you that I made up my mind when in your city to
    lead a different life, and to devote the remainder of my life to
    the service of my God. I have so often thought of you, and have
    wished to see you. Pray for me, and I do hope we may meet again.
    If ever convenient, call and see me. Our doors will be open,
    yes, wide open, to you. Thanking you again for your remembrance
    of me, I am, yours truly,


       *       *       *       *       *

    SICK BED, February 5th.

    _Dear Christian Brother:_

    I have a tenant in a little house, a grocery, on Sixth street,
    right next to the First Presbyterian church, who is a fearfully
    wicked man, a common drunkard, and steeped in sin; and I come to
    you to-day to beg you to seek him out and try to rescue him. He
    has four or five little motherless children, whose lives are
    full of the bitterest sorrow; they are so dirty and unkempt that
    the public school teacher had to send them home. They are under
    no control; have no one to train them for God, and ought to be
    where some one would save them from themselves and ruin. When I
    leased my house to him, he was a very handsome, well-to-do man;
    young, apparently honest, paid his rent regularly, and had a
    very nice little wife, who has since died--I think with a broken
    heart. Will you not look him up at once? Or, if you are too full
    of other cases, will you not get some one of your workers to try
    to lead him back to good paths? He is a very desperate case, I
    know, and seems almost past saving now; but you know God's grace
    can reach any heart. I would lay this poor dissolute creature,
    lost to all sense of honor, shame or manliness, on your soul, my
    brother, and beseech you, for Christ's sake, for the sake of
    these poor motherless children, whose souls are worth saving for
    Christ, do try to bring your influence and your prayers for
    God's help, to this miserable man's case, and see if you can
    help. If he is past God's mercy--and I can not believe
    that--will you not see what can be done for the little ones?
    The oldest boy is a bright little fellow, and may become a great
    light in our Father's work. I hear that this man has been to
    hear Mr. Moody. I do not know if it helped him. Will you not
    send after him, and try to get him to go to-night? I will meet
    you in prayer there for him.

    In bonds of Christian friendship,


       *       *       *       *       *

    LOUISVILLE, KY., May 30, 1888.

    _My Dear Mr. Holcombe:_

    I am struggling as hard as ever a poor wretch did against my
    appetite for liquor. I have asked the good Lord to help me
    overcome the habit, but I feel that my prayers amount to
    nothing. May I ask you to ask the Great Controller of us all to
    give me strength to overcome this habit? Save me, or help save
    me, I beg and implore you. Please give me your prayers.

    ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

    OCTOBER 16, 1887.

    _My Dear Steve:_

    Your kind favor of the 7th instant reached me in due time. I
    was, of course, delighted to hear from you, and inexpressibly
    glad to hear of the improved state of your health. I also note
    with much pleasure what you say in regard to the pleasant and
    extensive trip that you have just finished. It gratifies and
    pleases me beyond expression to know that the people of
    Louisville are at last awakened to your worth, and are willing
    to manifest some substantial recognition of the same. "All
    things work well for those who love the Lord." I believe the
    quotation is correct. Oh, had I continued in the way you pointed
    out to me, how different my situation and circumstances would
    be. Instead of being broken in health and bankrupt in purse,
    separated from all that I love and hold most dear, I would be, I
    am sure, what I was while I was endeavoring to lead a Christian
    life--a happy husband and father and a respectable citizen. Oh,
    Steve, my dear friend, I am wretched, miserable, broken hearted.
    When I reflect upon what I was and what I might have been, and
    consider what I am and how little I have to look forward to, I
    simply get desperate. But I will not weary you with my troubles.
    As regards myself and habits, I may say, without exaggeration,
    that I am in better health and my mode of living is plainer and
    more regular than it has ever been. I rise every morning between
    four and five o'clock, and retire between eight and nine. My
    food is of the plainest and coarsest kind. My companions are, I
    regret to say, cowboys. You know, I presume, what they are, so I
    will say nothing about them. I neither drink nor smoke; I chew
    tobacco very moderately, and expect to quit that. I suffer
    terribly at times for the want of congenial company. You must
    excuse this effort, as I am surrounded by a lot of boys who are
    making a terrible lot of noise. Give my love to all of your
    family. God bless you, my dear Steve. Pray for me and mine.

    Your friend, ---- ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

    NOVEMBER 2, 1887.

    _My Dear Steve:_

    Your letter of the 27th is before me. It is just such a letter
    as I expected--so full of sympathy, love and good, wholesome
    advice. I wish it were possible, or, rather, expedient, to
    listen to your advice and return home, for I am heartily sick
    and tired of the life I am now living. Don't you know that my
    life out here reminds me, in a measure, of your western
    experience? Of course, I am not subjected to the hardships and
    deprivations that you were forced to undergo. But, as far as
    bodily comfort and companionship are concerned, I must say that
    your experience must have been rather "tough," if it was worse
    than mine. Now, don't misunderstand me, I have plenty to eat,
    such as it is, I have a fairly good bed, in a fairly good room.
    My companions are, as you know, cowboys. That they are rough and
    all that, goes without saying, but let me tell you, my dear
    friend, I have received better treatment and more consideration
    from these wild, half-civilized cowboys, upon whom I have no
    earthly claim, than I ever received from some from whom I had a
    right to expect, if not fair treatment, at least some
    consideration. The people one meets out here are always willing
    to give a fellow a "white man's chance." When you write, tell me
    something about the dear old Mission and its workers. What has
    become of Davidson, Peck, Booker and all of the boys? I would be
    extremely sorry to hear that any of them had forsaken the narrow
    for the broad way. The dear old Mission! What a train of happy
    memories is connected with it. I almost forgot to inquire about
    Clay Price. Tell me about all of them. I am about to change my
    quarters. Don't know where I will go. You had better wait until
    you hear from me again before answering. With much love to
    yourself and family, I am, as ever,

    Your friend,

    ---- ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

    DECEMBER 10, 1887.

    _My Dear Steve:_

    Your letter, or rather note, of November 29th, reached me in due
    course. You advise me to keep up a brave heart. Steve, old
    fellow, my heart is broken. I know you will smile and shake your
    head; but I honestly believe that if there is such a thing as a
    broken heart, mine is broken. Haven't I suffered enough? Well,
    how is the Mission getting along? I noticed in the
    _Courier-Journal_ the other day that George Kerr had been
    reclaimed. Well, well, who would have thought it? I know him
    well. He is a fellow of some parts. If he can only keep sober,
    he is abundantly qualified to do well. Write me something about
    the boys. I would be mighty glad to hear good reports of them.
    Have you seen the ----s lately. Give them my regards when you
    see them; and remind them for me, that they are in debt to me a
    letter. They and you, old fellow, are about all the friends I
    have left. What a sad commentary upon human nature is the
    mutability of so-called friendship! When I was prosperous, I had
    all the friends I wanted, and more, too. Now, I can count them
    upon the fingers of one hand. Ah, well, I suppose it has been
    the same time out of mind; I am not an exception. Now, Steve,
    write me a long letter, and tell me all the news.

    Very truly your friend, ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *


    KANSAS CITY, MO., May 30, 1888.

    _Rev. Steve P. Holcombe, Louisville, Ky.:_

    Yours received. Would have written sooner but I have been away
    and busy. I have been at Fulton, Mo., since the tenth instant.
    Brother Jones left Monday morning. I tell you I just had a
    glorious time. Steve, I love the work! and God is blessing me
    wonderfully; everything is prosperous; business is getting
    better; my health is getting better. In short, everything is
    just glorious. Of course, I feel gloomy sometimes; but, blessed
    be God, he will not allow us to be tempted above that we are
    able to bear; and, with every temptation there is a way of
    escape. I feel just that way. Every time temptation comes to me,
    I flee to God for help, and I never yet failed. I have gone into
    this for life; and, God helping me, I will stick. I have not
    tasted drink of any kind since about January 9th, and I tell you
    I was a slave to it. I never think of drinking now; my thought
    is all in a different channel; bless God for it. Our little
    mission is gradually growing, and we hope for grand things from
    it. Pray for us. Brother Morris wishes to be remembered to
    yourself and family. I am a member of his church, and I love
    him. He is a grand man. I am going to Chillicothe, Missouri, the
    12th of June--Brother Jones will be there for ten days. Give my
    regards to all who know me; and tell them I am trusting Jesus
    for everything. May God bless you in your good work. I shall
    never forget you. Write as soon as convenient.

    Your friend and brother,


       *       *       *       *       *


    CHICAGO, July 21, 1884.

    _My Dear Brother Steve:_

    Your kind postal of the 21st to hand this P. M. I must really
    beg your pardon for having neglected your cards; but I have no
    excuse to offer. It has been nothing but carelessness. I was
    absent from Chicago a week with my friend D., and had a very
    pleasant time. It is probable that he will start into business
    in Chicago. He will know in the next few weeks. The Lord has
    taken wonderfully good care of me since I have been here,
    although on one or two occasions I have had to do with only one
    meal a day. He has blessed me all the time. He has kept me
    cheerful through all, and I feel to-day that I am nearer to Him
    than I have ever been. I have put myself into His hands
    unreservedly, and I feel that He is taking care of me. Yesterday
    I got a letter from my brother. He asked me to pray for him, and
    I shall certainly continue to do so as long as I live. Whenever
    you see him, speak to him about the salvation of his soul. I
    have written to him about it, and he wants to try and become a
    Christian. Pray for him. Sunday I saw Dr. S. He is better
    dressed than I ever saw him. I notice he wears the Murphy ribbon
    in his button-hole. I am glad he is looking so well. This was
    the first time I had seen him for weeks. Steve, there is only
    one thing lacking to make my happiness complete, and that is to
    have my mother think more favorably of my reformation. I have
    written to her twice, and she has not even deigned to answer. I
    feel, however, that the Lord will bring this about all right. As
    to my getting into a situation, it will be some time yet, as
    business hardly ever starts up here until about September. Then
    the Lord will put me into something permanent, I know. The
    captain is indeed happy with his family reunited with him. He
    ought to shout God's praises from morning till night; but he is
    not the only one that can shout--_my_ heart is forever full.
    Neither hard times, nor anything else, can keep me down as long
    as I have Jesus with me. I must close; it is time to go to
    convert's meeting. My prayers are for you and the Mission. I
    humbly ask you, as well as all the good Christians there, to
    pray for me. May God bless you and yours.

    Your brother in Christ,


Remember me to Mrs. Holcombe and the rest of the family, as well as to
all inquiring friends.

       *       *       *       *       *


    CHICAGO, August 3, 1884.

    _Dear Steve:_

    Your kind letter to hand. I feel ashamed of myself for not
    answering your letters more promptly. It does my heart good to
    think that you at last have confidence in me, and that my going
    to Chicago must not necessarily round up in my going to hell. It
    seems to me, although I have not been in the service of our
    glorious Master as long as you have, yet I have, or rather had,
    more faith in His power to keep me than you had; but your remark
    has often been recalled to my mind. Do you remember saying "that
    if I went to Chicago, I was certainly bound for hell?" Was this
    charity or placing much faith in God's word? Well, let the
    matter drop. I have just come home from a glorious meeting. Oh,
    how I thank God this morning for a lightness of heart and a
    buoyancy of spirit that lift me above surrounding trials and
    troubles! I am poor in purse; but, bless His holy name, I am
    rich in promises and faith. My temporal affairs are not in a
    very prosperous condition, but notwithstanding all this, I have
    the confidence He will take care of me. He has done this in a
    wonderful manner to this time, and He certainly has not changed
    since I have become one of His. Captain Davidson keeps me pretty
    well posted as to your meetings. I am glad they are well
    attended. The Lord willing, I will be with you on a visit this
    coming winter, and I will bring a friend. You will then see in
    what style they conduct their meetings here in Chicago. I have
    as yet received no answer to my long letter to H., but I praise
    God that my humble words have set him to thinking. My prayers
    ascend to heaven daily that he may be saved. Your friend, Frank
    Jones, is here in Chicago. I saw him once on Clark street, but
    had no chance to talk to him. This has been some two weeks ago.
    Remember me in Christian love to the Millers, Captain Denny,
    Dalton, Ben Harney, Tom Watts--in fact, all; but especially give
    my regards to Mrs. Holcombe. Don't forget Mulligan, and my
    prayers are that God may bless you as abundantly as he is
    blessing your brother in Christ,


       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., September 12, 1887.

    _Rev, S. P. Holcombe, New York City:_

    MY DEAR OLD FRIEND: You do not know the pleasure your letter
    gave me, I have wanted to write you ever since my return, but
    did not know where a letter would reach you, nor do I know where
    to direct this, but suppose I can get your address from Will. I
    was at the Mission last night, and missed you sadly. We all
    missed you in many ways. Your good, hard, common horse sense is
    sadly needed. It is the same old story; we never appreciate a
    man until it is too late. I used to think I could pick many
    flaws in your management of the mission work, but I have now
    come to the conclusion that you can't be downed in that line,
    and hereafter I shall not even think a thought against your
    management. Last night we had some ignoramus to preach, and his
    grammar and ways of expressing himself were (to say the least)
    tiresome; but we had testimonies afterward, and I said to
    myself, "Well, Brother Steve is away, and I have been on the
    quiet lay for a long time; I think, for the sake of Christ and
    old Steve, I will give a red-hot testimony right from the
    shoulder," and I did. I was followed by Hocker in a like strain,
    and others chiming in, we made the welkin ring from turret to
    foundation-stone. But the banner-bearer was not there; so the
    good intended to be done fell short. Only one stood up for
    prayer. But never mind, we will have our old veteran leader with
    us soon, when we will unfurl our battle-flag anew and carry
    terror and dismay into old Beelzebub's camp. I think if our
    winter campaign is well organized, there will be no "Indians on
    the warpath next spring." I miss you and want to see you so bad,
    that you may give me a hundred lectures and I won't shirk. Your
    true blues are all holding fast. Your Old Guard is a true and
    tried one. I think they all can be depended on both on dress
    parade and under fire. Your family are all well. May our
    heavenly Father bless you, my dear friend, both here and
    hereafter. Your sins have been great; but oh, what would I not
    give to know that, after life's fitful fever is over, I would be
    permitted to occupy a seat in the beautiful land of the blest
    alongside of you. Truly your faith has made you whole. Good-bye,
    and once more, God bless you.

    Your sincere friend,

    P. B.

       *       *       *       *       *


    ATLANTA, GA., February 3, 1885.

    _Dear Brother Holcombe:_

    Your letter of December 17th was received in due time. Your
    postal card was also received a few days ago. I have no lawful
    excuse to offer but pure procrastination, from time to time, for
    not answering. You are not forgotten by me or my wife and
    daughter. We often speak of you, and the question is often
    asked, "Will he come and see us this year and hold another
    mission meeting?" You did so much good in Atlanta. The meetings
    were kept up until the bad weather broke us up; they were well
    attended nearly every night, and the good seed you sowed
    germinated; and, by Brother Barclay's good tilling and the
    assistance and the goodness of God, has brought forth much fruit
    of repentance; and, thank God, we all bless the day He sent you
    to us. If your Mission managers could see the great good you
    accomplished while with us, I do not think they would say no to
    your making Atlanta another visit; and we look forward to the
    day as not being far distant when you will do so. I am trying my
    best to live right. I know I am changed; I feel very different
    from what I did before you visited us. You have known me fifteen
    years; and you know how bad and sinful I was, and how
    dissipated. I have not even wanted a drink of anything since
    your visit. You know I told you I had put my foot on the serpent
    and I intended to keep it there. I do not go with any of my old
    associates who drink or who visit bar rooms. I select good
    company; I keep up the family altar, and we are a happy little
    family now. Can you appreciate that you saved one of your old
    lost friends by your good work? When I met you and saw and heard
    of the great blessing God had bestowed upon you and your dear
    family, I set about obtaining the like blessing for myself; and
    I feel in my heart that I have received it. God has been very
    merciful to me and blesses all my undertakings and I am so
    thankful for all of His kind mercies. Brother Barclay told me he
    wrote you a few days ago, and I suppose he gave you all the
    news. I have not been to the mission Sunday-school for some time
    on account of the bad weather, and you know I live a long way
    off. But, God willing, I shall go next Sunday. My wife and
    daughter join in much love to you and your family, and wish you
    a happy and successful year in the Master's cause.

    Yours truly, ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *


    LOUISVILLE, KY., January 13, 1887.

    _My Dear Sir:_

    Your letter surprises me. You came to me unintroduced; I was
    glad to see you, and, I hope, treated you with the consideration
    which I think your merit demands. You again approached me
    to-day. Tonight I received a letter from you which is to me
    offensive and impolite. I am not coming to your place, and I
    will thank you to abate your interest in my behalf. I believe in
    your work, and wish you success; but I hope you will let me
    alone. My self-constituted friends have done me more injury than
    _even_ my own indiscretions. Very truly,

    To Rev. Steve P. Holcombe. ----- -----.

       *       *       *       *       *


    FEBRUARY 4, 1884.

    _Mr. Steve Holcombe, Esq., Lewisville, Ky.:_

    DEAR FRIEND: I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines, as I
    haven't heard of you for a long time, I learnt from a friend, of
    your whereabouts, and that you had forever Retired from
    Gambling, I want to accumulate a few hundred dollars and Retire
    from the Business in the future, and as we have long Been
    friends, I hope you will not Refuse giving me your sure system
    of winning at the Game of Poker. From your friend,


    _Ridgeville, Randolph Co., Ind._

       *       *       *       *       *

    849 SEVENTH ST., LOUISVILLE, May 28, 1888.

    _Rev. Steve Holcombe:_

    DEAR SIR: I have a large family Bible, which has been in my
    family a number of years. You will do me a personal favor by
    accepting it as a souvenir of my late son, Charles A. Gill. It
    was through your Christian instrumentality and kindness that my
    dear son embraced his Saviour and died a Christian.

    Hoping that God will add many stars to your crown, I am your
    sincere friend,


    Two more Bibles will be given you by the same hand for

    H. G.

       *       *       *       *       *


    MEMPHIS, TENN., May 6, 1887.

    _My Dear Friend and Brother Holcombe:_

    Your card well received, but I have been so busy that I have
    waited for a time to write to you. I am in good health and have
    a good situation, thank God. Am always alone. My children in
    Switzerland are well. When I passed through Louisville, as I
    wrote you from New York, I wished I had been able to stop for
    twenty-four hours, but had a through sleeper to Memphis, and
    could not stay over. I heard of your great trial lately. Hope
    God did sustain you, and that good will come out of it for your
    soul. The more I live, the more I am separated from this world.
    My body is in it, but my mind and spirit are longing for a
    better state, where evil shall not be present, within or
    without. The Bible becomes clearer to my soul every day, and
    with the grace of God I hope to come to the end a faithful and
    obedient child of the Almighty Father in heaven. I suffer very
    much mentally; it is a constant agony. I am absolutely,
    completely broken down in my own will; have given up entirely
    all worldly pleasures; have no pleasure except in doing the will
    of God the best I can. My old enemy, myself, with my passions
    and self-indulgence, I pay no more attention to. May God use me
    according to His good will, and make me so as to be worthy of
    His service. Everything of this world has been taken away from
    me; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" is my daily bread. I
    often wish to be in Louisville. Maybe I shall return there
    later, to have some Christian friends around me. I have here
    $150.00 a month, and the finest situation that can be wished in
    my line of business. What are you doing? I suppose always the
    same--taking care of the lost and neglected. Your reward shall
    be great, as you come nearer fulfilling the Master's teaching
    than brilliant preachers who do not touch the burdens of poor
    sinners. How is your family, especially your sweet little
    daughter? I hope you are all well. This world is nothing but a
    tremendous deception to all who are attached to it; everything
    is corrupt, and has the sting of death and sin. It is a constant
    warfare with evil and evil forces around you. It is only worth
    living for the good we can do to others. I can not understand at
    all the joy that some find in it, except in doing entirely, to
    the best of your ability, the will of God. There is surely no
    other source of life in the universe. I am writing now to dear
    Brother A. A few months ago he wrote to me. He, also, has had
    great sorrows. It is very strange that alone pain and suffering
    can make us wise and pure in heart. How antagonistic are the
    ways of God and those of men? Absolutely opposed in all things.
    Oh, let us be true to God, even unto death, cutting mercilessly
    all that is worldly and carnal, so as to live for the spirit and
    not lose eternal life. My dear brother, please do pray for your
    lonely brother, that God may bring His presence into my worried
    soul and help me in the battle. The enemy is very powerful, and
    shows no mercy. His mission is to destroy and to lie, and he
    knows how to do it. May God bless you and keep you forever.

    Your true friend,
    ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *


    CHICAGO, ILL., March 16, 1886.

    _Rev. Steve Holcombe, Louisville, Ky.:_

    DEAR BROTHER HOLCOMBE: Yours of March 10th received. I thought
    you were wise enough to know, when you wanted to plant yourself
    in permanent quarters, that the devil would do his best to
    prevent it. The devil don't like you anyway; but keep your
    equilibrium--God is with you; and He is more than all that can
    be against you. I have just passed through the most terrific
    storm of criticism almost of my life; and thank God I have
    witnessed in Chicago, within the last twenty-four hours, the
    grandest triumph of the Gospel I ever saw. I wish you could be
    here a few days and see the power of God, and rejoice with us in
    the work.

    I enclose an article, which you can take to the
    _Courier-Journal_ if you like.

    Kindest regards to your loved ones and all the brethren, and may
    God's blessing be upon your work.

    Fraternally yours,


       *       *       *       *       *


    CINCINNATI, OHIO, June 13, 1886.

    _My Dear Brother Holcombe:_

    I received your message sent by Brother Cleveland. I would like
    you to come over about the middle of next week. I think we will
    have some of the slain of the Lord for you to look after by that
    time. Our meeting moves off gloriously. I have never seen a
    better start anywhere. Thank God for the prospect of a glorious
    victory in this wicked city. The house is packed day and night,
    and the preachers and people stand shoulder to shoulder with me.
    Love to your family. Affectionately,


       *       *       *       *       *

    FROM REV. DR. WILLITS (Warren Memorial Church).

    _Mr. Steve Holcombe:_

    DEAR SIR: The bearer, Ch. H., is a stranger to me; but he will
    tell you his story. It is the old story of fight with appetite,
    and you will be better able to advise him than myself.

    Truly yours,

    A. A. WILLITS.

       *       *       *       *       *


    MARCH 23, 1885.

    _Dear Brother Holcombe_:

    The bearer is Mr. B., once a merchant in Richmond, Va., fallen
    by drinking habits, separated from wife and children, _lost_. He
    spoke to me after sermon yesterday morning, and came to my house
    this morning. He does not ask immediate relief, having some
    money; but wants to find employment, and thinks he can stop
    drinking. He is evidently an intelligent man, and earnestly
    desirous of regaining himself. He used to be an Episcopal
    communicant. Now, if you can in any way help Mr. B., I shall be
    exceedingly glad.

    Your friend and brother,


       *       *       *       *       *

     The following letter is from one of the converts whose
     testimony is given elsewhere, but it is interesting as an
     independent account given soon after his conversion.

    LOUISVILLE, KY., January 28, 1884.

    _Rev. G. Alexander_:

DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: The few brotherly words you spoke to me during our
short acquaintance, and your kindness toward me, a poor drunken outcast
at the time, will ever be remembered. Often I make inquiries of Brother
Holcombe regarding you and your health. At his suggestion, I write you
and give a brief history of my life, in hope it may encourage some poor
fellow whom you are seeking to save for a better life, and give him
renewed courage to battle against sin; and for the glory of our Saviour
Jesus Christ.

My father, as a wealthy man, determined to give his children the benefit
of a good education. With this end in view, he left my younger brother
and myself in Germany in 1864, after a visit there with the family. We
stayed until 1867, when we returned to Louisville, I to enter the
banking house of Theodore Schwartz & Co. With them I stayed until 1869,
when my father became bondsman for the sheriff, Captain John A. Martin.
Out of courtesy, Captain Martin made me, although only nineteen years of
age, one of his deputies. From that time I date my downfall. Money
flowed in freely; and, being young and inexperienced, I spent it just as
freely, if not more so. In two years, at the age of twenty-one, I was
considered about as reckless a young man as there was in the city. My
father was always proud of his oldest son, and indulged me in almost
everything. The habit of intemperance was gaining a sure hold; and when
he died, in 1872, I was considered by some a confirmed drunkard.

Gradually I sank lower and lower, until I became what I was when you
first saw me eight months ago--a poor miserable outcast from society,
and a burden to myself and friends. I was forsaken and despised by all.
I shudder to think that my life should ever flow in the same channel
again. During all these years of dissipation I wandered all over this
country--from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic almost
to the Pacific. I drifted aimlessly with no other object in view but to
gratify a terrible longing for strong drink. I had been in the city but
a short while when I heard of Brother Holcombe's efforts to redeem the
fallen. Having known him before his conversion, curiosity led me to
listen to him. During all this time I knew and felt that a day of
reckoning would come, but whenever such thoughts entered my mind, I
dismissed them, as they made me tremble at the very idea of having to
give an account of the misdeeds of a wasted life. On the 25th of last
June I was passing up Jefferson street, and heard singing in the
basement at No. 436. My first impulse was to turn and go away, as I was
in no suitable dress to go into a place of worship. Then the thought
came into my mind, "This is Steve Holcombe's place; I'll go in and see
what it looks like." Thank God, I did go in. The songs of those
Sunday-school children awakened chords in my heart which I thought had
died long ago. Tears came into my eyes, and then and there I vowed, if
by God's help salvation was possible for me, I certainly would make the
trial. Glorious have been the results. That evening I heard Brother
Holcombe once more; introduced myself to him and promised him I would
attend evening service, which I did.

From that day to this I have been growing in grace. The Lord has blessed
me wonderfully. My worldly affairs have prospered; and, what is worth
more than all the world to me, I am continually happy. Nothing disturbs
my peace, and I allow nothing to interfere with it. My trust is in my
Saviour; He has promised to care for those who trust Him, and I have
implicit faith in that promise. My old appetite and desires are all
taken away and I find pleasure and joy in things that in former years I
considered ridiculous.

    Very truly yours,




I was born in Louisville in 1842; was educated in New York and Virginia;
served in General Lee's army during the war on the staff of my uncle,
General Edward Johnson. The only commission I received was received on
the third day of July, 1863, at the battle of Gettysburg.

My first drinking commenced in Georgia, where I was planting rice with
General Gordon. That was in 1867. I did not drink during the war at all
except that I might have taken a drink occasionally when I met with
friends. My uncle would not permit liquor about his headquarters. On
leaving Georgia, I went to New York, and went into business. I acquired
quite a reputation there, and had a good income. My periodical drinking
continued, however, and each year became greater and greater. Nothing
was said about it for seven years and a half. I would not drink around
my place of business. When I felt the spell coming on me, I would quit
and go off, and be gone seven or eight days, and be back to business
again when I had straightened up, and nothing was said about it; but the
thing will increase on a man, and, of course, with each succeeding year
the habit became stronger, and the intervals shorter.

I conceived the idea that a change of climate would do me good. Visits
to the mountains seemed to benefit me, and I thought I would go West,
and the change would effect a cure. I went to Colorado, made friends
there, went into business, and was successful. I was married to my wife
in Denver, Colorado. I believed as my wife did, that my drinking was a
matter under my control. I had been leading an aimless life, with no
family ties; and after I was married, I thought a strong effort on my
part would stop it. I wanted to get back to salt water again, and have
everything in my favor; and the next morning after we were married, I
started for California. I was very successful there. I was in a short
time made special agent of the California Electric Light Company, at a
salary of three thousand dollars a year. They wanted to make a contract
with me for five years, giving me three thousand dollars a year, if I
would bind myself not to drink during the five years. I found it was not
such an easy thing to quit drinking. I consulted physicians there. There
was a doctor in Oakland who said he had a specific for drunkenness; and
he gave it to me. The result was that when I wanted a drink, I threw the
medicine away and got the drink. What I always wanted, and tried to get,
was something to take away the appetite for drink. There were times when
I had no more desire for drink than you or any other man; but when it
seized me, it seized me in an uncontrollable way, and I would drink for
the deliberate purpose of making myself sick and getting over it as
quick as possible. I knew it had to be gone through with, and I drank
until I made myself sick.

I never attended to business when I drank liquor. I never mixed up my
business affairs with my drinking. Everybody I had anything to do with
knew I was thoroughly reliable. I never lied about being drunk. I never
said I was sick or had the cholera infantum or anything of that sort.
Everybody who employed me knew as much about it as I did.

When my little boy was born, I felt a sacred duty was imposed upon me;
and I tried to encourage my ideas of morality. I had always been a moral
man, and, although an infidel, had never sought to break down the
religious opinions of any one, because I had nothing to give them
instead. My rationalism satisfied me. It was a belief, an opinion, with
which I was willing to face my Maker, because I believed I was right. I
believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, but I did not believe that
the great Ruler of the universe thought enough of us insignificant human
beings to interest Himself in our affairs. I did not believe in the
Christians' God. There in Virginia I had been surrounded by members of
the church. Everybody was either a Baptist, a Methodist, or a member of
some other denomination; drunkards and saloon-keepers and all belonged
to the church. They could do wrong and afterward go straight to church.
That kind of religion disgusted me, and that kind of religion confirmed
my skepticism. I wanted to get away and I even planned to go to
Australia. After my little boy was born, I stayed sober for six months,
and then I commenced drinking again. I did not conceal the truth from
myself. I said, "You are false to everything that is manly; you are a
disgrace to yourself." I decided to go back to Virginia (my wife had
never been there) and settle up a lawsuit I had pending in the courts.

But after a short stay in Virginia I had an offer to return to New York
and go to work, and went to New York; and after I had been there a
month, I received a dispatch stating that a compromise had been agreed
upon without consulting me at all. I went back to Richmond and rejected
the compromise.

A decision was made in my favor, but the case was taken to the Court of
Appeals. I had used up everything I had in litigation; and when, at
last, I got a telegram that the Court of Appeals had reversed the case,
and we had lost everything, it just broke me down. It took me more than
a month to realize that it was a fact--I could not get it into my head;
and it broke me down completely. I loved my wife and I loved my child,
and was troubled about them, and for the two years I was fighting these
Virginia gentlemen I was in a state of high excitement. I had nothing to
do except to worry, and I drank more than ever in my life. I said, "My
God! it is awful. I have lost everything. I know I am a drunkard; it is
no use denying it, because the appetite is on me all the time." And many
a time I threw myself down in the woods and sobbed aloud if Fate would
have mercy on me. I had given up all hope. I thought the good fortune
which had followed me all my life would never return. I had sent my wife
off; so I had lost her, too. She went to her sister's, in Ohio; and I
arranged that my mother should remain at the old place. I wrote to a
cousin of mine whom I had not met since the war. He used, frequently, to
come to our home, a delightful and healthful place, thirteen miles from
Richmond. I thought I would write him that I desired to get out of
Virginia, and had not the means, and would make Louisville my objective
point. So I wrote him, but received no reply. I wrote to another man,
stating the circumstances--that I wanted to get out of Virginia and go
to work; but I received no answer from him; and I came to the conclusion
if I wanted to get out of Virginia I would have to walk. I had secured
my wife and child, and as for myself it little mattered what befell me
or how I fared.

I was walking through the woods one day and saw a man getting out
railroad ties. He told me of a place near by, called the "Lost Land." A
year before that, my uncle's executor gave me a deed that was taken from
the old house at my oldest uncle's death. It was for a little slip of
land--an avenue--that my grandfather had bought in 1815. Well, I thought
nothing of it. I told the old negro woman that when everything was
settled up, I was going to give her that land; and I put the deed away
with other papers and forgot all about it. When I was worrying about the
means, and making efforts to get the means to get out of Virginia, this
man, who was hewing in the woods, told me about the little piece of
woodland that had so much sill timber on it, and he spoke of it as the
"Lost Land," and his speaking of the "Lost Land" reminded me of this
deed, and I hurried home, found the deed, and saw that it located the
land at about where he mentioned. I went to the County Surveyor, who had
succeeded his father and grandfather in the office, and we found that
the property of which this formed a part had been sold in large lots,
and it was there between the lines of the other property, unclaimed by
any one, and for seventy-three years had escaped taxation, because the
deed conveying it had never been recorded in the county books, and it
was supposed by the county officials that all of the original tract had
been divided off in the larger subdivisions. We found it, ran the lines
around it, and I sold ten acres for one hundred dollars--enough to pay a
grocery bill, buy me a suit of clothes and land me in Louisville.

I had loved the old place--loved it all my life, because I had spent
many days there when a happy, careless boy. My mother was born there, my
grandmother and my great-grandfather lie buried there. It was bought in
1782 by my great-grandfather, who was not only a gentleman but a
scholar. He graduated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at
Edinburgh, and afterward spent seven years in Europe. I was very much
attached to the old place, and on leaving it I drank to deaden the pain.

I came here to Louisville, and I drank after I got here to keep from
thinking. I tell you things looked blue, and I tell you the fact, the
liquor I drank every day made me feel worse and worse, and my brain was
affected from the excitement I had passed through. I found myself in a
second or third-class hotel which stood nearly on the spot where I was
born. I lay in my room for three days. I came to the conclusion there
was no use kicking; the end was at hand. Fate had brought me back here,
where I was born, to die. I even said it to myself, "Destiny has brought
you back here, to the city where you were born, to die; and to die by
your own hands. You have no respect for yourself, nor have others
respect for you. You know by living you will bring further disgrace upon
the wife and child you love so well. If you will commit suicide people
will say, 'He was an unfortunate man, but a brave one; his only fault
was his drinking.'" I tried to shut out all thoughts of my wife and
child, but I could not. I said to myself, "I was born here; I have not
outraged the law; I have done nothing dishonorable; nothing why any man
related to me should shun me. But I have lost everything; I am accursed;
I am alone here. My wife's people know I am here, but do not communicate
with me. And they tell me there is a God." A man came to my room in the
hotel and said they wanted the room. "You say you have no money and no
friends, so we can not keep you here any longer. You must give us the
room." Under these circumstances I was coming nearer and nearer the
final determination to commit suicide when a man, a stranger, came into
my room who was himself a drunkard. I told him my condition and my
determination. He said, "Wait till I send that man Holcombe down to see
you. Maybe he can help you." Mr. Holcombe dropped everything and came to
me at once. I did not know who he was. He said, "My name is Holcombe: I
am from the Mission." Well, sir, if he had commenced at me as most
preachers would have done, and told me in a sort of mechanical way that
I had brought it all on myself, I would have said, "I am much obliged to
you for your politeness and your well-meant efforts, but it does me no
good, and I am very much distressed and would much prefer to be alone."
He said, "There is no use trusting in yourself; you can not save
yourself." That struck me at once as a correct diagnosis of my case, and
I said, "That is just the conclusion I have come to myself." Then he
told me what had been done for him, and he got down on his knees and
prayed. And when he prayed for me and my wife and child, that is what
reached my heart. I said "There is _something_ in that man's religion at
any rate. I do not believe in this stuff I have seen in the churches;
but there is something in that sort of religion. It is the last straw I
have to catch at. I will try it." I got up out of bed where I had been
for three wretched days, and came up to the Mission. There I came in
contact with some influence I had never felt before. I came to the
conclusion that there was truth in the Christian religion, and I said,
"That is all right, but that is not what I want. I want that inward
consciousness that I am not going to drink." I might get up and say, "I
am ready to confess I am wrong; I believe religion is right; I have seen
evidences of it; I believe you are right and I am wrong. But I had no
inward consciousness of any change in me, and I did not feel secure or
in any way protected against the habit of drinking." I knew if there was
anything in religion, there must be something a man would be conscious
of. I said, "There is something in this religion, but I have not got the
hang of it." It occurred to me that perhaps after all, my chief motive
and desire in all this was the welfare of my wife and child and the
recovery of our domestic happiness. And lying on that bed I said, "I am
willing to do anything. There is nothing that I am not willing to do, if
I can only get rid of this appetite. I will get up and state that I was
a drunkard; I will acknowledge every tramp as my brother; and, although
I have no desire to do it, I will go out and preach. Just let me know
that I am free from this thing and that I can go on in life;" and all at
once--I could not connect the thought and result together--there came
upon me a perfect sense of relief. I was just as conscious then of
divine interposition as I ever was afterward; and I said to myself,
"This is what they call regeneration," and turned over and went to
sleep. From that time I commenced a new sober life; and I never have
wanted liquor; I never have had a desire for it since, and it is now
going on two years.

I think many men are called, but few are chosen. There are a great many
men who get far enough in the surrender to feel good and change their
opinions; but they do not get down to the bed-rock of regeneration. I do
not believe in any change, or in any doctrine that says there is
regeneration through anything except a complete surrender. Men are ready
to believe that Christ was the son of God, but go straight home and
continue their old way of life. They must say, "I will not only quit
serving the devil, but I will commence serving God." "Thou shall love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy

I do not let theological opinions disturb me now. My simple faith and
theology is this: That I have the peace of God and He keeps me. I have
knowledge of God's power and mercy, and feel that God keeps me.

My wife and child have come back and are now with me, and are as happy
as they can be; and there is not a man in this country with less money
and more happiness than I. I am happier than I ever was in my life.

     NOTE.--Captain Martin is now engaged in business in the house
     of Bayless Bros. & Co., Louisville.


I was born in 1846 in the State of Illinois. At that time, before there
were many railroads, it was a comparatively backwoods country where I
was raised. Our nearest market was St. Louis, sixty miles from where we
lived. My father kept a country store there, and hauled his produce to
St. Louis. My father was a professed Christian, so also was my
grandfather, yet each of them kept a demijohn of whisky in the house.
They would prepare roots and whisky, and herbs and whisky, which was
used for all kinds of medical purposes and for all kinds of ills that
flesh is heir to; and I believe at that time I got the appetite for
whisky, if I did not inherit it. I have drunk whisky as far back as I
can remember. I had a great many relatives who were Christians; but I
gloried in my obstinacy and would have nothing to do with Christianity.

In my seventeenth year I went into the army. Of course, being among the
Romans, I had to be a Roman, too; and consequently, the drinking habit
grew upon me; and I acquired also a passion for gambling. After the war
I did not do much good. I drifted about from place to place for
something over a year, and then joined the regular army. I belonged to
the Seventh Regular Cavalry, Custer's command, which was massacred on
the Little Big Horn. At that time I did not belong to the command, as my
time had expired some time before.

I came to Louisville in 1871, and commenced working as a restaurant and
hotel cook. I was very apt at the business, and was soon able to command
the best situations to be had, having been _chef_ at the Galt House.
During all this time I had been a drunkard in different stages. I was
what is called a "periodical drunkard." I often braced up and went
without a drink for six months or a year--something like that length of
time--and always had work when I was not drinking; but I became so
unreliable, that I could get no employment when another man could be
had. It was said of me everywhere, "Denny is a good man, but he drinks."
About 1873 I got married, and up to 1883 I had four children. Of course,
my drinking, and everything of that kind, brought my family to want--in
fact, to beggary. For a long time I always took my wages home on
pay-day, and my wife, in her good-heartedness, always offered me money;
would often ask me of a morning if I did not feel bad, and would give me
fifteen cents or a quarter, not knowing that she was giving me money for
my own damnation, until the year of the first Exposition here--1882. I
had a position there at twelve dollars a week. I stayed there ten weeks;
and I do not believe I got home with five dollars in the whole ten
weeks. The man with whom I worked had a bar attachment to his
restaurant, and I could get what credit I wanted there; and on Saturday
night when I found my wages were short, I would get drunk, and conclude
to try and win something at gambling, but I invariably lost.

At the close of the Exposition, it was on the verge of winter, and times
were very dull. I was behind with my rent and in debt to everybody I
could get in debt to, my family were without decent clothing, had no
fire, and I was almost naked myself, with no prospects of a situation. A
short time afterward I got a position on a steamboat, which paid me
fairly well, and which I believe I kept two, maybe three, weeks, and got
drunk as usual. I failed to take my money home, and, of course, told my
wife some lie. I had to say something. Sometimes my wife believed me,
and sometimes she did not. At that time it was winter, it must have been
in December, and very cold. My children were barefooted, and I was just
about to be set out on the street because I had not paid my rent. I woke
up one very cold morning very early, and we had not a morsel of food in
the house or coal to make a fire with. I walked down toward the river
and met the same man I had been working with a few weeks before. He
stopped and asked me if I did not want to go back on the boat. I told
him I would be glad to go back. He asked me how long before I would get
drunk; and I said, as I had said a thousand times before, "I will never
drink again." I made one trip, which was three days, and got drunk. It
was on the second day of January, 1883, that I shipped, and I came back
on the fifth, which was the coldest day I ever saw in Louisville. The
thermometer was twenty-six degrees below zero between New Albany and the
mouth of Salt river. There were during these dark days a few charitable
people that used to give my family some of the necessaries of life--and
but for that I can not see how they would have kept from starvation. I
appreciated my situation nearly all the time, knew how wrong I was
doing, would admit it to myself but would not admit it to anybody else.
If a man had called me a drunkard, I would have called him a liar.

In the providence of God the Fifth and Walnut-street church established
the Holcombe Mission near where I lived, and among other waifs picked up
on the street and taken to the Sunday-school were my children. While I
had always been pretty bad myself, I had always tried to teach my
children better. I shuddered at the thought of my boys going on in the
way that I was going. When they went to Sunday-school and learned the
songs there and came home and sang them, it broke me all to pieces. I
had nothing left to do but to go and get drunk in self-defense. The
Sunday-school teacher (Mrs. J. R. Clarke), who taught my children, had
been trying to find me for a long time. She must have thought from
seeing my children at Sunday-school that there was some good in me; and
after awhile she sent me a Bible with a great many passages marked in
it. She was looking for me and had sent for me to come and see her, and
I had been trying to keep out of her way for a long time. Finally she
found me at home one day, and would take no excuse, but insisted that I
must come to Holcombe's Mission; and, of course, I promised to go,
because I could not help myself. I could not get out of it; and if I had
a redeeming trait in the world, it was that I would not break a positive

I promised her to come, and that day I did go. They were holding
noon-day meetings at the time. I do not remember just now that I was
very deeply impressed. I was of a skeptical turn of mind and very
critical. I well remember I criticised all the testimonies given there;
but the thing was so strange to me, so different from anything that I
was used to, that I was very considerably impressed in a strange kind of
way, which is unaccountable to me even now. I had taken a seat near the
door, so that I might get out very quick; but Brother Holcombe headed me
off, and caught me before I got to the door. I did not know him
personally at that time, but had known of him for a long time. Of
course, I could not get out of the Mission without promising to come
again. After having come two or three times, I was asked to say
something, but did not feel like saying anything. Finally I stood up one
day, perhaps the third or fourth day I was there. It was not a time when
they were asking people if they wanted an interest in their prayers. I
got up and said I wanted an interest in their prayers that I might be
saved from myself. I had known for a long time that I was helpless, so
far as delivering myself from drink was concerned. I knew nothing about
Christianity, in fact, I did not care much about it, because I had not
studied on the subject, and would not study on the subject. For many
years I had not dared to stop and think seriously about such a subject,
but when I heard that the Gospel of Christ was able to deliver such a
man as I, I heard it gladly, because I had found there was no earthly
power that could deliver such a man as I was. In the meantime, I had
been reading my Bible, and had committed some of it to memory; and there
was a good deal of mystery attached to the whole thing--things that I
could not understand. When they asked me to speak, I quoted a passage
from the Bible. One day I quoted the passage about a man having put his
hand to the plow and looking back, not being worthy of the kingdom of
God. Brother Messick, pastor of the church which I afterward joined,
prayed directly afterward, and in his prayer he quoted this passage of
Scripture, and prayed in such an encouraging and helpful way, that I
rose from my knees satisfied in my heart that I was changed.

Well, from that time until now I have never drunk anything. That was in
January or February, 1883. I have never had a desire for liquor but once
since. Last summer I went to Crab Orchard. I was _chef_ down there, and
I had to handle very choice wines and liquors in my business, and I
handled one brand of wine that I was particularly fond of in old times.
I was tempted that time to drink wine. It seemed the tempter said to me:
"You are way down here where nobody knows anything about you. It is
good, and you know it won't hurt you. It don't cost you anything and it
is nothing but wine, and you need not take too much." At that time I
could get all the liquor I wanted. If I wanted it, I could order a
hogshead of it just by a scratch of the pen. With that single exception,
I have never had a temptation to drink. I don't know that I had an
appetite to drink then. It was a clear cut temptation from without, and
not from within.

I have had no trouble about getting positions since my conversion and
deliverance from the appetite for drink. My family are well housed, well
clothed and well fed, and have everything they need, and have had since
the time I became a Christian man. They themselves are the greatest
evidences in the world of what Christianity can do for a man. A short
time ago--six months ago--I established myself in business, and have
been doing a thriving, prosperous business from that time until now.

I might say something about my going to the work-house: Two years ago,
or a little over, I was asked to go to the work-house one Sunday
evening. I was very much impressed with the necessity for working for
the poor men there. I was at that time identified with the Mission work,
and the services at the work-house were all under the auspices of the Y.
M. C. A. I continued going to the work-house for some length of
time--three or four months. The Y. M. C. A. very kindly divided time
with me and other Mission workers. After having gone to the work-house
three or four months, I stopped going. The Chairman of the Devotional
Committee of the Y. M. C. A. sent for me and gave me charge of the
work-house and jail, which, of course, I accepted in the name of the
Mission; and from that time until now both of them have been under
Mission workers. I was very anxious to return to the work-house, but our
head decided that I should take the jail, where I have continued to go
for a year and a half--I suppose about that length of time--every Sunday
when I was in the city, with possibly one or two exceptions.

     NOTE.--Mr. Denny is at present the joint-proprietor, with Mr.
     Ropke, of a thriving restaurant on Third street, between
     Jefferson and Green, Louisville.

[Illustration: B. F. DAVIDSON.]


Twenty years ago I resided in the city of Cincinnati; was President of a
Boatman's Insurance Company, proprietor of a ship chandlery, and
interested largely in some twenty odd steamboats; and also interested
largely in other insurance companies, and was rated as worth half a
million of dollars. Through depreciation in property, bad debts, and
indorsing for other parties largely, in four years I had lost all my
money. To retrieve my fortune, I then started West, not being willing,
of course, to accept a position where I had been a proprietor. While
there, associating with the miners and Western people generally, I
contracted the habit of drinking. This grew upon me and was continued,
with short intermissions of soberness, up to four years ago--about last
January. I was brought very low as a consequence of my dissipation, and
I have traveled as a tramp from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from
the lakes to the Gulf, spending my time in alternately fighting and
yielding to the demon of drink. For five years previous to my coming to
Louisville, I had given up all hope of ever being able to make anything
of myself, as I had tried, in vain, every known remedy to cure me of the
appetite. My pride was effectually humbled, and I was in despair.

From the time that I went West--which was in 1872--until my arrival in
1884, my children, a daughter and son, knew not whether I was dead or
alive--knew nothing of me whatever. After I took to drink, I lost all
interest in them and everything else.

As soon as I got off the ferry-boat in Louisville, in as sad a plight as
any wretched man was ever in, I met an old friend, who had known me in
years previous, and who handed me two dollars, requesting me to call at
his office the next morning, when he would give me such assistance as I
needed. The two dollars I spent that day for whisky. That night I begged
a quarter to pay for my lodging. The next day, by begging, I filled up
pretty well on whisky again. Toward evening I went into a Main-street
house and asked a gentleman for a quarter to pay for a night's lodging,
I had lost all pride, all self-respect, and could beg with a brazen
face. The gentleman handed me a card of Holcombe's Mission. As I did not
know or care anything about missions or churches, I merely stuck the
card in my pocket and went on my way. After walking around for some time
I heard the remark: "There goes that old man now." Upon looking up I
recognized the gentleman whom I last asked for a quarter to pay for a
night's lodging, and another man, engaged in conversation. The other
gentleman, who proved to be the Rev. Steve Holcombe, of Holcombe's
Mission, took me by the hand and invited me up to the Mission rooms,
where I told him my story. He asked me if I ever had asked God through
Jesus Christ to assist me in my endeavors to become a sober man. I told
him I had not, as I had made up my mind years ago that God had no use
for me. I felt as though I had sinned beyond redemption.

I had left home very early in life. My mother was the best Christian
woman I had ever seen. She was a Methodist, but she never could preach
Christianity to me--I fell back on my own righteousness. I did not
drink, I did not smoke, I did not chew, I did not swear, I did not run
after women, I did not loaf around saloons like other young men. When my
mother was after me to join the church, I told her that would not make
me any better: "Look at your church members; is that man any better than
I am?" My sister, along toward the last, having joined the Episcopal
church, I took two pews in that church; was a lay member, but I did not
attend it. That was in Newport--St. Paul's Episcopal church, Newport.
When the minister insisted on my going to church, I told him that while
he would be preaching sermons I would be building steamboats, so his
sermons would not do me any good.

After I got to drinking, my poor daughter did not see me. I did not go
to my children at all. I never got but one letter from them during that
time, from 1872 to 1884, and that was a letter that went to Cincinnati,
and they held it there, I believe, for two years. I was at Cincinnati a
good many times; but they could never get me to stay there long enough
to get my children down to see me. As soon as I had an idea that they
were manoeuvring for anything of that kind, I would get out of town at
once, and they would not know where I had gone.

During my life as a tramp, there is no kind of work that can be thought
of that I did not work at more or less, and the money I
earned--sometimes I earned as much as eight dollars a day--eventually
went to the barkeepers; I could not even buy my clothes.

After a long talk with Brother Holcombe, I told him that, having tried
everything else, I was perfectly willing to try God. That night I went
to church, and went up to be prayed for. There was no regular meeting at
the Mission then, from the fact that the church that was running the
Mission had a revival. So, with Brother Holcombe, I went around to the
revival meeting at the Fifth and Walnut-street church. When the
invitation was given for those who wanted to be prayed for to come
forward, I was among the first to accept it, and went up clothed in all
my rags. After prayer I felt much better than I had for many years. That
night I went back and lay on the floor in the Mission, having refused an
invitation from Brother Holcombe to go to a boarding-house, telling him
if God, in His mercy, would take from me the appetite for strong drink,
I had still strength and will enough left to make my own living. The
next morning I asked Brother Holcombe to go with me to the paper-mill of
Bremaker-Moore Company, where they were building a dam to prevent an
overflow from stopping the engines in the paper-mill. I secured a
position there, at a dollar and a quarter a day, to shovel mud. As soon
as the river commenced to fall that occupation was gone; but the
superintendent of the mill, becoming in the meantime somewhat acquainted
with my history, offered me a situation inside, which I held for three
weeks, when I was sent for to see the business manager of the _Post_. I
accepted a position on the _Post_ as advertising solicitor at fifteen
dollars a week, which was afterward increased to twenty-five. I was then
made business manager, at thirty dollars, which position I now hold.

I can say this: That while I had an abundance of means to find
happiness, pleasure and contentment, and had sought it in every possible
way that a man could, I failed to find it until I accepted Christ as my
Saviour, and gave myself into His hands. Since then I have had a
happiness I never knew before. My life has been one of constant peace
and uninterrupted prosperity. My children are both happily married, and
I have married myself.

Though I was before so proud that I could not accept my mother's
teaching, I was at a point where I would have accepted anything. They
would tell me that doctor so-and-so would cure me; which was no kindness
to me, because it kept me from asking God's help. But nothing would do
me any good. So I said, "God, here I am; accept me. If there is any good
in me, bring it out. I am down, down, down; I can not help myself."

Brother Holcombe had told me what God had done for him. I had confidence
in him from the start, from the fact of his having told me he was a
gambler so long; and when he told me God had redeemed him from the
desire for gambling, I thought he might take away the appetite for drink
from me; and He has done so, I am very thankful to say. I expect I was
the worst-looking sight you ever saw, but I do not take a back seat now
for any one--I look as well as anybody. As I told a man last week: "With
the Lord on my side, I do not fear anything!" I had had charge of men,
and had succeeded in managing them. I did not accept religion because I
was a weak-minded man. As evidence of that, I have proved it since as I
had proved it before. I proved that when I was trying to be a good man
in my own way. I have proved since that I was not a weak-minded man
from the responsible positions I have held and do hold.

But, as I was going to say, I had not shaved for two years, and had not
had my hair cut, I am satisfied, for one year. My hair was hanging down
on my shoulders; my face, of course, not very clean; my clothes were
rags. My shoes were simply tops, and the gentleman who gave me these two
dollars, told me: "Captain, you are the hardest-looking man I ever saw
in my life. I do not know how I recognized you." I said: "This is the
condition I am in, and drinking has brought me to it."

I have been asked by several prominent men how it is I get up night
after night and tell people how bad I have been. I told them it was like
this; if they had been sick nigh unto death and were going to die, and a
physician came and gave them some medicine and made whole men out of
them, would they not be going around the streets telling people about
that physician? I said that is the reason I get up every night and tell
people about it. Christ was the physician that healed me. That is the
remedy I have for all evil now--the blood of Jesus Christ. It was
utterly impossible for a man to exist and be in a worse condition than I
was. I was physically and mentally a wreck; and now by accepting
Christ--becoming a Christian--I am physically, morally, mentally and
spiritually restored and well. That is the reason why I do not hesitate
to tell anybody--even people coming into my office. An editor of a paper
said to me: "Is it possible you were a tramp?" I told him it was; and he
was talking something about attacking me through his paper, about what
I had been. I said, "Blaze away; it won't hurt me. I do not deny having
been a tramp and a drunkard--everything that was mean. But what am I
now?" I do not care what they bring back of my past record; they can not
hurt me, for I do not deny it. It is what I am now. I think now that I
was as bad and mean as a man could possibly be. But I am no longer what
I was, by the grace of Him who called me out of the former darkness into
His light.

[Illustration: H. C. PRICE.]


I used to know Brother Holcombe in those days; knew him to be a gambler.
He was considered one of the best of gamblers, but I always looked upon
him as being an honorable gambler, so far as I have heard. I knew him
even before he was a gambler.

Well, my father and mother were very pious, my mother especially. She
was a praying woman, and everybody knew her by the name of "Aunt
Kittie," and my father as "Uncle Billy." My father did not think it was
any harm to play cards in the parlor every night. When I was young he
loved to play whist. I had a sister older than I, sixteen or seventeen
years old, and she used to invite young men, and father used to invite
them, to come there and play cards; and the moment they commenced to fix
the table, my father beckoned his head to me, and I knew what that
meant--to get out. We had a young negro that used to wait on the ladies
in the parlor, and he told me one time, "You steal a deck of cards and I
will show you how to play cards." And I stole a deck of cards from the
house and we went back in the stable; and that is the way I came to
learn how to play cards. I was twelve or fifteen years old at that
time--not any older than that--and I commenced playing cards for money,
and I kept on playing cards for money with the boys; for money or for
anything. I was sent off to school--to St. Mary's College, and we got to
playing cards there for money, and we were caught, and the oldest one
was expelled from school, and I promised never to do it any more, and
the other boys promised not to do it any more, and they did not. But I
kept on and I was caught playing cards, and I was expelled from school.
After that my father sent me to St. Joseph's College in Ohio. I ran off
from that school and came home, and I was appointed a Deputy Marshal by
my brother-in-law, W. S. D. McGowen; and I got to gambling then sure
enough and running after women; and about that time the war came on, and
I went off with my brother-in-law into the army, and I gambled all
through the army--everywhere I could get five cents to play with. All I
had I gambled away. I came back home and I gambled here; played in the
faro banks all the time. And a proprietor of a gambling house by the
name of Jo. Croxton came to me and said, "You are too good a man to be
gambling around. I will give you an interest, and you can take charge of
my house." I did not know much about gambling, but I knew how to take
care of his house. He gave me the bank roll; and I went on down and

I was married then and had a faithful, gentle and devoted wife, but I
thought I was smarter than anybody about gambling, and I thought I could
make big money, and so I would leave my wife, devoted and dependent as
she was, and I kept traveling on around the country, going to different
towns. I went to Nashville; from there I went to New Orleans. I came
back to Nashville. I left Nashville and went to Huntsville, Ala.; came
back here and went to St. Louis; then to Chicago and Lexington. After
that I went back to Nashville again. I made a good deal of money if I
could have kept it; but the Lord would not let me have it. I averaged
here for years and years $500 a month. Sometimes I made more--made as
much as $1,700 a month, and once I went up as high as $2,100 a
month--made big winnings. As fast as I got this money I could not keep
it--threw it away on women all the time and gambling against the bank
and poker; would spit at a mark for money. I have lost hundreds and
hundreds of dollars without getting off of my seat, with men I knew were
robbing me all the time. It was a passion I had to gamble and I'd not
stop. In one game of poker that I was in I bet and lost $900 on one
hand, and I have never played at poker since that time.

When the gambling-houses were broken up here in Louisville, I concluded
I would go off to Chicago. I had some money and I went to Chicago; and
as soon as I got there, I got broke, lost all the money I had. I was
among strangers and I was dead broke. Finally I got another situation,
and worked there for some time. I then got hold of some money again, and
I came home and remained some time. My wife was begging me all the time
not to go away--did not think I ought to go away; she said that I could
stay here and get some work to do, and make an honest living. But I
thought I had better go back to Chicago and make some money; and I made
some money as soon as I got there by playing faro bank; and I did very
well at that time, made a good deal of money; and you know how a man
feels when he has five hundred dollars in his pocket; and yet all that
time I did not send my wife anything. I thought I would get about one
thousand dollars and open some kind of a bar-room or cigar shop, or
something of the kind. But the day before Christmas I got to playing
against the faro bank, and got broke; and I was the most miserable man
in the world, to think that I had lost the last chance I had. The day
before Christmas my wife wrote me, "Why don't you come home? I had
rather see you home than there again making money," I said, "Yesterday I
got broke--I played to win. I had nothing to eat all day." But
accidentally I found a twenty-five cent piece in my pocket; and I got up
and went and bought a ten-cent dinner, and paid fifteen cents for a
cigar. I have done that many times, I suppose, bought a quarter dinner
and given the other quarter for a cigar. I just got to studying about
it, studying about what I was to do. I said, "If I come back to
Louisville, I will starve. I am not competent to keep a set of books, or
clerk anywhere; but," I said, "I will go back if I do starve." So I
wrote to my patient wife: "I have lost every cent I had in the world, I
have got to work one week longer to make enough money to come home on,
and I am coming. You may look for me the first of next week." As soon as
they paid me off that evening I jumped on the cars and came home, having
just the money to pay my fare.

Before this Brother Holcombe had met me time and again after he had been
converted. He used to come after me; and every time he would see me, may
be I would be looking at something in the street--he would hit me on the
shoulder and say, "How do you do, old boy?" and then he would talk to me
about my salvation, and about Jesus Christ. I used to hide from him;
but it looked like every time he came around he would nail me, and talk
to me about Jesus. That was when I was gambling here and prosperous. He
told me about my mother and told me I ought to quit gambling. I said,
"Brother Holcombe, what shall I do if I quit gambling? I have no way to
make a living." He said, "Look to God, and He will help you." I went
away about that time; and as soon as I came back, every time he would
see me he would nail me again. After awhile I got interested in him. I
would look for him and when I would catch him, I would say, "You can not
get away from me now." That was after I came from Chicago. I had nowhere
to go except to visit bar-rooms. So I began to go down around the old
Mission every night. I heard the singing and praying down there. One
night I said, "I am going to see Brother Holcombe." The clock struck
eight, and I said "I am not going in to-night, it is too late. I will go
to-morrow;" and to-morrow night came and I went down there and went in
very early, before they commenced singing; and they sang and prayed and
Brother Holcombe preached, and the next night I went, and the next night
I went, and I went every night. And then they moved up here on Jefferson
street and after they moved up here, I stayed away a week, and then I
commenced coming again; and here I am now, thank God. I think God has
been my friend all the way through. To think He has let me go as far as
He could, and at last brought me home. I tell you it is a great thing
for a man that has been living the life I have, to get up and say that
he is now a child of God.

It came gradually, a little bit of it at a time, but when I was down in
the Mission that night, God came to me in full power, I felt that I did
not care what happened to me. I was willing to go if God called on me.
Whatever He said I was willing to do. After my conversion I got a place
where I was making a dollar a day, at Robinson's, on Ninth, between
Broadway and York streets, and I worked there until I went up on a new
railroad. They promised to give me forty-five dollars a month. I thought
at the time, and so did Brother Holcombe, I would get forty-five dollars
a month. He said, "You will get forty-five dollars a month, and it is so
much easier than the work you are doing." I thought they would pay all
my expenses and I worked up there at forty-five dollars and I had to pay
all my own expenses; and all I received was not a cent more or less than
thirteen dollars a month. But I was happier a thousand times--I will say
a hundred thousand times--than I was with six or seven hundred dollars a

You may think gamblers are happy, and it looks like it; but they are
not--they are miserable. Just to look back in our lives and think what
we have done with all the money! It is nothing to be compared with the
life of a Christian. If I could go back to-morrow and make a million
dollars gambling, I would not do it. I would say, "Take your million of
dollars. I will stay where I am." My wife is the best woman in the
world. I leave her at home and she is reading the Bible. You can not go
in there any time, when she is not at work, that she is not either
singing or reading the Bible. She was raised a Catholic. She is now
trying to help me along. She has joined the Methodist church; she is
with me. I do not think she was a Christian before we came in contact
with Brother Holcombe. It was just her interest in me, and her patient,
long-suffering love. She never went to church nor prayed nor knelt down.
She prayed after she went to bed like I did, for I said prayers every
day even then. I always said, "If I forget, God will forget me." Every
day of my life I prayed; and if I forgot it, I asked the Lord to forgive
me; but I never would kneel down. I prayed after I went to bed; but now
I get down on my knees and pray. Do you know how we do at night? We get
down on our knees and say the Lord's prayer; and after we get through, I
pray; and after I get through, the old lady prays. You see the old lady
was raising our little girl up to be a Catholic; and I said to her,
after we were converted--maybe a month afterward--"I don't know whether
I am right or wrong--I want you to say--do you not think it is right to
teach Kittie to do the way we do in our prayers? I think it would be a
sin to try to teach her any other way. Now, let us set her an example,
and she will come over gradually and gradually until she will be one of
us." She has asked her mother about Jesus. She said to her mother one
day, "I can't pray like you all can." The old lady said to her, "You
will learn after awhile." Last night I was out late, and when I came
home she said, "We will all kneel down and pray." We started off, "Our
Father, who art in heaven," and Kittie went along with us, repeating it.
She knows all that, you know. After we were done saying that, I prayed;
and after I got through the old lady prayed; and after we had prayed I
said, "Kittie, you must say your prayer." She said, "I can not pray
like you do." But she did the best she could.

If you ask me how I came to change my life, it was this way: I knew that
Brother Holcombe was a good man, and knew that he was reformed and I had
so much faith in him, and I studied about that so much that I just
thought if he could be such a good man, why could not I be a good man;
and that is the way it came. I tell you, backwardness is a fault with a
good many preachers. If I was a preacher and I saw a man on the street
that I saw was going wrong, I would go right up to him and touch him on
the shoulder. I do it now--I never let him get away; I never let a
friend of mine get away, I do not care who he is. I go to him and tell
him what God has done for me. I say, "Why don't you come up to the
Mission? Don't you know Brother Holcombe?" If he says "No; I don't live
here," I say, "If you come up there, we will be pleased to see you. You
don't know what good it might do your soul."

I do wish I had an education. I reckon there has been more money spent
on me than on all the rest of my family. I went to three colleges; was
expelled from one and ran away from the other two. I was the worst boy
on earth; there is no use talking. I would rather fight that eat; but no
more fighting for me; I am done. You know that I have been trying to get
work to do, and at last I have found a place. I am earnestly praying
every day more and more--I _can_ pray now. A man asked me the other
day--I don't know whether I answered him right or not--he asked me, "Do
you ever expect to go back to gambling?" I said, "I would starve to
death before I would gamble any more." He said, "What about your
wife--if you knew your wife was going to starve, would you gamble?" I
said, "Before I would let my wife and child starve, I would gamble--I
would gamble to get them something to eat; but," I said, "there is no
danger of their starving. But you put that question to me so strong." I
said, "I know that God would not censure me for that, but there is no
danger of it."

I wish I could say more. I know I mean what I have said, God knows I do,
and it is all true as near as I can remember.

     NOTE.--Mr. Price is a brother of the late Hon. J. Hop Price,
     for many years a well-known lawyer and judge in Louisville. He
     is now engaged as night watchman on Main street.


I had the example of Christian parents, and, of course, I had the
benefit of a Christian education; but, like all young men, I was rather
inclined to be wild; and after I had served four years in the
Confederate army, my habits were formed rather for the worse. After I
had returned home, being without avocation, I naturally resorted to what
all idle men do; that was the beginning. I contracted the habit of
frolicing, gambling and drinking, in that early period of my life, which
has followed me through all these years, up to March 14, 1886, when,
after considerable journeying through North America and portions of
Mexico, I happened in Cincinnati, and heard a great many times about
Steve Holcombe's conversion. Having known Steve in his gambling days, it
occurred to me, like all persons in pursuit of happiness, going from
place to place and not finding it, that if there was such a change and
improvement in Steve as the newspapers described, I would come to
Louisville and see for myself concluding that if religion had done so
much for him, it might do something for me. I was a dissipated
man--dissipated in the extreme. I had contracted this habit of drinking,
and was rarely ever sober. I have some capacity, as a business man, and
I have had a great many positions, but I had to give them up from this
habit of drinking. While a man would express his deep friendship for me,
he would say his business would not tolerate my drinking; consequently,
I have been frequently but politely dismissed.

I had lived in I don't know how many places in the United States, I had
lived in New Orleans, Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S. C., Birmingham,
Montgomery, Selma, Vidalia, La., Cincinnati, Louisville, Ky., Macon,
Ga., Pensacola, Fla., Fernandina, Fla., throughout the length and
breadth of Western Mexico, Lower California and the Pacific coast, and
through the State of Texas, end to end. In all these tortuous windings I
was searching for happiness; but a man who is more or less full of
whisky and without the religion of Jesus Christ is of necessity unhappy,
in himself, and, in consequence, shunned by his fellowmen. No man can
wander around the world in that condition without feeling a void which
human wisdom can not fill; and I was forced to this conclusion by a
careful survey of my past career. The desperation of the case was such,
that I resolved if I could not find employment, and if I could not find
happiness, which I then knew nothing about, I would destroy myself. I
have contemplated suicide many times with the utmost seriousness; and I
certainly in my sinful life was not afraid of death. But then it was
because I was in despair.

I was in Cincinnati; had previously held a political position there,
which paid me quite a handsome sum; but in the change of politics my
pecuniary condition changed, and I found myself alone, poor and full of
rum and corruption; as vile a sinner as ever lived. It was at that time
that I heard of Steve. I was in a deplorable condition; I knew not where
to turn for comfort, and it occurred to me that if I could go to
Louisville and have these assertions verified about Steve's regeneration
and if I could see and satisfy myself. I would do so, as vile as I was,
and ask God to have mercy upon me. Of course, I was an infidel (at
least, I imagined myself an infidel), an atheist, if you please, and my
chief delight was deriding all Christian work, and ridiculing the Bible;
and to more thoroughly uphold my atheistical notions I went so far as to
defame the Saviour of mankind, not in vulgar language or profane, but by
a mode of expression that was plain and unmistakable. _Now_, I do not
see how a man can be an infidel. When a man says he is an atheist, I
believe he is a liar. A man must be insane who does not recognize a
Supreme Power and the Master-hand that made the world, and who does not
rely upon and give obedience to that Higher Power. I do not believe that
any atheist is honest in the announcement that he does not believe in
God or a Creator. I believe now, since my conversion, that no man is in
his right mind unless he has the habit of prayer.

All nature points to the existence of a Creator--every action of life,
every hair of the head shows an unseen hand. If it is a mistake, it is a
mistake man can never fathom; but if not and if, as we are told by the
word of faith, you believe, you shall be saved. If you cast your burden
upon Him, and there is a possibility of a hereafter, you lose nothing in
this world. A man is wiser, purer, more companionable, more affectionate
and more charitable. There must be immortality of the soul; there must
be a future reward. Reflection upon these great facts induced me to
become a Christian man. As I had served the devil so long as one of his
allies, and had been treated so badly by him. I deserted him and put my
faith in God, where I intend to remain the remainder of my life.

I got to Louisville a little over a year ago, the 15th of March, and
went immediately to find Mr. Holcombe. He was sitting by the fire. He
knew me at once. I shook hands with him and sat down by the fire, and
had a conversation with him. He immediately entered upon the subject of
religion, and I told him my condition. I told him what I wanted to do--I
wanted to see for myself if it was possible for a man like him to become
regenerated--if it was possible for such a great scoundrel as I knew him
to be to become a Christian man. I wanted to see for myself if it were
possible to make, out of so vile a creature, such a good man as he was
said to be. As I said last night, I came, like the conqueror of old, and
saw, but, unlike the conqueror of old, I was conquered. I made up my
mind that I was done with the old life. Steve's appearance convinced me
that he was cured, and I confessed then and there that I was convinced.
That was the starting point. There was only one thing I have never been
thoroughly satisfied about; I find that the Christian influence grows
gradually on me, and becomes stronger and stronger the longer I live. I
confess myself, when I first became a Christian man, with the exception
of drinking whisky, I was like I was before; but, encouraged by my
experiences in the beginning, I gradually began to see that it was a
better life. A man was purer, and there was some hope a man could be
changed through and through, and take his place among men; and from that
time forward I was continually growing in grace. From the very moment I
resolved to quit, I did not drink any more. After I saw Steve, I did
not take a drop, though I had tried before to quit it many a time. I had
oftentimes joined temperance societies, and made resolutions, which were
of no avail. A man in that case was bound by no tie except his
assertion--by his word: and might break it just as a man allows a note
to be protested in bank. The moment I determined to change my life, this
appetite for whisky left me. It was because my ideas were changed.

I used to think that no drunken man could become a Christian; but now I
hope, by the grace of God, I am a Christian, I could not explain it; I
do not believe any man can explain it. He may attempt it, but he can not
do it. A man who lives a Christian life can hardly calculate the
advantages; it is a matter of impossibility. In the first place, his
associates put an entirely different estimate on him. His ambitions are
entirely changed, and certainly his hope is. It makes him a more
charitable man, a more forbearing man with the faults of his neighbors,
makes him a more tolerant man, makes him a better citizen; and if he
were a politician--though it is scarcely within the bounds of
possibility--it would make him an honest politician.

I have had no trouble to get along in business since my conversion. Just
as soon as I tried to get business, when I was once really in earnest
about it, I had a number of offers. I have still a number of offers.
When I became a Christian man I determined, in my own mind, I would live
up to Christianity so far as I could in every particular, humbly and
conscientiously. The opinions of man have no weight with me now. All I
am I hold by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ.


I think it was on the 25th of June, 1883, I was stopping at Fifth and
Jefferson. Previous to that time I had been tramping the country for
about eight years, from 1874 until the middle of 1883. My father was a
Louisville man. He gave me all the advantages that wealth could command.
He sent me to Germany in 1864, where I remained three years at school.
In 1869 or 1870, I went into the sheriff's office here in Louisville.
Previous to that time I had been with Theodore Schwartz & Co. I went
from Theodore Schwartz & Co. into the sheriff's office. I got that
position from courtesy of the sheriff to my father, who was his
bondsman. I contracted the habit of drinking right there, through the
associations. And, being ashamed to remain among my friends as a
drunkard, I went then from pillar to post all over the country.

I left home just after my father's death, in 1872, not knowing whither I
was going. I dragged around the country from that time until the summer
of 1883--eleven years; and if there ever was a man sick and tired, it
was I. I beat my way through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee,
Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

The box car was my home the greater part of the time. Of course, during
those years, I came home off and on; but nothing could stop me in my
downward course. As soon as I lost self-control I persuaded myself
there was no hereafter, no God and no devil. I took to that idea to
console myself for what I was doing more than for anything else; and I
had a perfect indifference as to what became of me, except at times when
I was alone and sober and thoughtful. But I never had any aim; no
ambition at all; in fact, I had given up all hope. I do not know what I
wandered for. I would come home and stay for a month or so, and I would
get drunk and get ashamed of myself and go away. I would walk all night
to get out of Louisville.

I had been brought up by religious parents. My father was a very
religious man. He was considered by people as a fanatic because he was
making money in the whisky business, and sold out rather than continue
it. He lost money by selling out during the war. He saw what it was
drifting to, and sold out. After that there was not a drop of whisky
handled in his house on Main street until after his death. My mother
also was a very religious woman, so that I had a careful religious
training. But I had read a good deal of Ingersoll and Tom Paine. I heard
Ingersoll lecture on one or two occasions; I wanted to get all the proof
I could to sustain me. I wanted some consolation; I knew where I was
drifting; there was a consciousness all this time that I was wrong; and
I trembled at the thought of one day giving an account for the misdeeds
of a wasted life; but I could not possibly help myself. From the mental
anxiety I went through it is a wonder my hair is not gray to-day. It was
terrible. I had two attacks of delirium tremens.

What brought me to realize my condition more than anything else, took
place just before the time I first met Brother Holcombe. I was out on
Second street mending umbrellas; for that was the way I made my living.
I had become thoroughly hardened. I would have cut my throat, only
cowardice kept me from it. Well, I was mending umbrellas out on Second
street, and Mrs. Werne heard me as I was calling out, and knowing that
Henry, her husband, and I had been to school together--had been boys
together, she called me and said, "Fred, I want you to come in." She
insisted on my coming to their house to dinner the next day. "Fix up,"
she said, "and come to dinner with us;" but I do not believe I had a
stitch of clothes except what was on my back. She insisted however, on
my coming; some of my friends would be there. That brought me to realize
to what depths I had fallen.

The next week I went to New Albany; and I was told to leave the town,
and I left the town under the escort of two policemen. To such abject
wretchedness was I reduced, I could not endure to stay among friends,
and I was in such a plight strangers could not endure me among them. But
once I was coming down the street, and heard the singing in the Holcombe
Mission; and I was considerably touched to think that I had come through
the religious training of a Christian home and of church and
Sunday-school; and that is all it amounted to. I went that evening to
the courthouse steps, and heard Mr. Holcombe preach there; and from that
day to this I have not drank a single drop; and it is only through God's
grace that I realize that I am able to resist temptation. I felt that I
was not worth anything; I felt that there was no power in myself. My
skepticism all melted away. The view I took of it was that if God could
help Holcombe, he could and would help such a one as I. I knew Mr.
Holcombe very well. When I was deputy sheriff, I had a warrant for his
arrest one time from Franklin county, and went there armed, knowing his
dangerous reputation. I thought if Holcombe could be saved, there
certainly was some hope for me, and under the inspiration of that hope I
turned to God. It was my last and only hope. But it was not
disappointed, for He has saved me.

I remember the first time I went up to be prayed for; I felt that I
would from that time have strength--I had no doubt that I would have it
from that time on. It was in the back room of the old mission. I felt--I
don't know why it was--I felt then and there that, by God's help, I
would make a man of myself; and I went out with that feeling, although I
had been under the influence of liquor for months before. I can not say
that I had no appetite for it, but I had strength to resist it. That was
the 25th of June, 1883.

I would do anything for whisky when I wandered around. I did not gamble,
but I was licentious. I lived for nothing else; I had no other aim in
life but to gratify my passions, and I would adopt any extreme to do it,
and did do it. I left nothing untouched--I would sell my coat to gratify
my passions. If I wanted a drink of whisky and my hat would pay for it,
I would let it go. Once, on coming back from New Orleans, my mother gave
me a suit of clothes; and I did not keep that suit of clothes three
days. All of the time I was tramping around, my mother was living in
Louisville, worth seventy-five thousand dollars. She was willing to do
anything for me, and suffered much because of my wicked ways. I remember
on one occasion, when I left her to go to Denver, Colorado, she begged
me to stay at home, and reminded me how she would suffer from anxiety
about me, day and night, till I should return. But I had just been
released from jail for drunkenness and I did not want to stay in
Louisville. So I left my mother in sorrow and despair.

One thing I am thankful for to-day; that after my conversion I did not
get into anything right away; that I made a bare living with my
umbrellas; and that continued two years before I got into a permanent
situation. I believe those were the two happiest years of my life. I had
a tough time to get something to eat sometimes, but that was good for
me. I pegged away at an old umbrella for twenty-five or thirty cents
down in the old mission; and I was thankful to get them to fix. It
seemed to me it was sweeter; I enjoyed it more.

There is no comparison between the new life and the old. I thought at
one time that I was enjoying myself; but I have had to suffer in my new
life for all the enjoyment that I had in the old--I have to suffer
physically--even yet. I am an old man before my time. Even to-day on my
coming in contact with it the influence of the old association will crop
out. Sometimes my passions worry me considerably. The only relief I find
is by keeping close to God. I realize that from day to day if I do not
do that--pay strict attention to my religious duties--I will fall. I
know that if I neglect them for one week, I get away off. I am happy in
being placed where I am. My place is a kind of rendezvous for religious
people; and their society and conversation help to strengthen me. Since
my conversion, I was offered a position in a liquor house, but I would
not take it, because I was afraid of it, and the very next day I
obtained a situation with the Finzer Brothers. I went to a minister and
made it the subject of prayer as to whether I should accept the
situation; and finally decided to decline it, and the next day I got a
situation that I had filled in years gone by, with Finzer Brothers in
this city. It is now the height of my ambition to have the opportunity
to convince the people who were and are my friends in Louisville that
there is something in me, and by the grace of God I am no longer the
failure I was.

[Illustration: J. T. HOCKER.]


I was born in Shelby county, Kentucky, in 1837, and no man had better
advantages for being a Christian or becoming one than I had. I had a
pious mother and father, and all the influences of my home were of that
character. My father and mother were both members of the Baptist church,
and I recollect that they used to have me go to Sunday-school, but I
think now I went there because they asked me to go. Thinking over my
condition, I did not have any other incentive at that time than to obey
my mother's request. At about the age of fifteen I left my home, and it
seems to me now when I did do so I left behind me all good impulses and
all good feeling, and any religious inclination I might have had seemed
to leave me when I stepped over the threshold; and I think the devil
joined me then and told me he would keep me company all the rest of my
life, and he did do it pretty closely for thirty years. I do not suppose
that he had a better servant, or one who did his behests more faithfully
than I.

Whether I inherited the appetite for drink has been a question with me.
On both sides of my house--the Old Virginia stock--I had several
relatives who drank to excess; and it seems to me that the appetite must
have passed through our family to me. I remember the first drink I ever
took in my life; it was whisky, and I liked it. Most people don't like
the first drink.

When I came to this city I went into business as a clerk. The devil
and I dropped into company as hail fellows well met. He persuaded me to
think it was proper for young men to take a drink before calling on
their lady friends. He prompted me to go in with the boys. "This is the
right way for you to do," he would say, "I am your friend." I had the
usual compunctions of conscience that the young man feels when he goes
into bar-rooms. I took wine at first, but the devil said: "That is not
the thing; whisky is better." I obeyed him; I took whisky, until whisky
pretty nearly took me forever.

Along in 1871--March, 1871--I was working at a clothing house, and I
married a lady who was thoroughly conversant with all my habits; who
knew that the habit for drink had fastened itself on me; but who, with a
woman's faithful, trusting heart, married me, hoping, as they generally
do, that her influence might reform me. Perhaps for a year or so the
devil and I rather separated, but he had me in sight all the while. This
continued for six or seven months, until, on one occasion, I went out to
a fishing party. We carried two or three gallons of whisky, and two or
three pounds of solid food. I went fishing with two or three personal
acquaintances, who prevailed on me to indulge with them in drinking, and
from this time forward, until about one year ago, I was as fully devoted
to my old ways as ever.

The appetite for drink was on me, and dragged me down day by day, deeper
and deeper into the mire; and still, through all this, my wife's loyal
heart never faltered, unwavering as she was in her trust in me, that I
would yet reform. She still, when others failed me, remained my faithful
friend. My wife was forced, however, by my conduct, to return to her
mother's home, because, instead of supporting her, I was spending all my
earnings for whisky and in debauchery of other kinds.

I shall have to go back a little in my story. About eight years ago I
was working in a clothing house at the corner of Third and Market
streets. I noticed across the street, one morning, a man whom I knew
setting out on the sidewalk a lot of vegetables, apples, etc. I looked
at him, and recognized him as Steve Holcombe, a man who had recently
reformed his way of living, and abandoned his old life. In the meantime,
I had become an infidel, I had begun to doubt the divinity of Christ,
and even doubted that there was a God. I read all of Ingersoll's books,
and went back and read Paine's essay on Reason and Common Sense. I was
thoroughly fortified with all the infidel batteries that I could bring
to bear on Christian people. As soon as I laid eyes on Brother Holcombe
I started across the street and opened on him; and I kept this up for
months. I fortified myself with a couple of drinks, so as to be very
brave, and went over and tackled him regularly every morning.

At last, I stood and watched him one morning. I reasoned this way:
"There is a man I have known for twenty-five years. I know of no man who
was more thoroughly steeped in wickedness, who was a more persistent
sinner, and I have tried to batter him down with my infidel batteries
for months, and he is as solid as a stone wall;" and all this led me to
think that there was something in the religion of Jesus Christ; and,
thinking this way, I rather refrained from my attacks upon him and his
position; but I often thought of him afterward, and the thought occurred
to me, there must be something in this thing, for no power living, or
anything that I know of, could sustain that man in his position. It must
be something beyond human.

The 20th day of last April I was on a protracted debauch; had been for
three weeks. My brain was thoroughly stunned with the effects of the
liquor I had drunk. I was sitting in a bar-room at seven o'clock in the
evening, as far as my memory now serves me, and I appeared to see the
face of my wife and child; and then one of my boon companions said,
"Join us in a drink." Just then I could no more have taken that drink
than I could have transformed myself into an angel of light. At that
moment I thought some impending calamity that neither I nor any human
power could avert was about to crush me. The next thing that came into
my mind was that I must see Mr. Holcombe; and I went out of that saloon
into the night, scarcely knowing what I did, feeling that some terrible
accident was going to happen; but still this impulse moved me to go to
the man I had fought so long and so persistently. I happened to find him
before the old Mission, on Jefferson street, near Fifth. He seemed to
think that I had now some other object in view than to attack him as
formerly, because, the first time in all my career, he was the only man
who did reach out his hand and said, "God bless you, my brother." I
said: "I want to talk to you; I want you to pray for me." He said, "God
bless you, I am the happiest man to meet you that I know of." He asked
me to walk down to the Mission. The services were about to commence. I
stayed with him that evening. In the morning he made a special prayer
for me; and during all my wanderings, I had felt that, perhaps, the
prayers of my mother and father would, in the end, reach the throne of
grace; and I had never lost my faith in the efficacy of prayer. When he
prayed for me, I felt my mother's hand on my head and heard her saying,
"God bless and keep my boy." When I left him he said, "Won't you go to
your room to-night and pray?" I had no room. He loaned me the money to
get a room. I went to the hotel and procured lodging. He said to me,
"Say any prayer you think of." The only prayer I could recall was one I
had heard in my childhood, "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner!" When I
made that prayer before the Christian's God, I did it with fear and
trembling, for it seemed profanity for a wretch like me, who had defied
God's laws, to prostrate himself at His feet and ask the Christian's God
to have mercy on him; but I kept up that prayer in my weak, broken way.
And to-day, having tried this life one year, you don't know of a man
happier than I am. My wife, no longer broken-hearted as in those years
of darkness and sorrow, now daily bids me welcome to our happy home. And
we recognize together that nothing but this religion of Jesus Christ
could have brought this about. I know, from the experiences I have had,
that God has forgiven me, the sinner.

I had from a child been the most inveterate swearer. Since my conversion
I have not sworn an oath; I never have taken a drop of beer or anything
that might intoxicate me, and I have never had a return of the
appetite. And I hope, by God's mercy, that when the last call shall come
I shall be found fighting for God; and I feel I want to fall with "my
back to the field and my feet to the foe." Immediately after my
conversion I attached myself to the Fifth and Walnut-street church; and
if you inquire of those who know me, they will tell you that, since I
stepped out of the old life into this, I have walked consistently.

I have told you a true story. I can think of no more to say. I may add,
however, that since I have come into this new life, under God's mercy, I
have been the humble instrument of bringing into the light three of my
acquaintances, of whose conversion I know personally. I was the only
wandering, wayward, prodigal son in my father's family; and there is
probably not now a happier household in the State.

     NOTE.--Mr. Hocker is at present engaged in business in one of
     the large clothing houses of Louisville.

[Illustration: S. P. DALTON.]


I was born in Shelbyville, Tenn., January 20, 1849, and am, therefore,
thirty-nine years of age. My father and mother were both members of the
church; and they tried to bring me up as a Christian. I went to
Sunday-school and church almost all my life. My father has been dead
twenty odd years. My mother is still living. As I say, I was brought up
a Christian, and I was converted when I was about seventeen years of
age, while a boy clerking in a brickyard alone. I was licensed soon
afterward to exhort in the Methodist church. After that I married; I
removed to Paducah, Ky., and I was a member of the church there for
several years. After that I lost my wife, broke up housekeeping and went
to traveling. I traveled awhile, and then moved to Louisville. I lived
here seven years.

In the meantime, I became indifferent to Christianity and formed the
habit of moderate drinking; I was a moderate drinker for a couple of
years, and gradually I drifted farther and farther away till at last I
came to believe in Ingersoll's teachings. I formed this idea, that the
world was made to enjoy, and that we had a right to enjoy it in any way
we wished. I never would go to church and I would avoid meeting any of
my church friends as much as possible. I became very unhappy and
miserable in my irreligious life, and found that serving the devil was

One day while in this unhappy condition my attention was called to a
crowd of people on Jefferson street, near the courthouse. Going over
to satisfy my curiosity, I found they were a Christian band from the
Holcombe Mission preaching the Gospel. Of course, I would not go to
church, and when I went over there to see what they were doing, I looked
upon them as so many cranks; but there was one prayer that touched my
heart. It was this: "Oh Lord, if there are any persons in this audience
who are miserable or unhappy on account of their sins, I pray Thee to
give them no peace until they give their hearts to God." And God
answered the prayer in my case. I had no peace until I gave my heart to
God and renewed my vows to the church. After hearing this prayer I went
home very miserable and unhappy, and fought the feeling for six months
afterward--tried to drive it away by drinking; but could not do so.
Finally one night about midnight, in my room, I gave my heart to God and
made new vows. I was again brought back to God on the 15th of October,

Then I went to see Brother Morris, pastor of the Fifth and Walnut-street
Methodist church, and told him what I had done. Of course, he met me
with open arms, and invited me to the church, and on the following
Sunday I joined the Methodist church. Directly afterward Mr. Morris
introduced me to Brother Holcombe. He said: "Brother Dalton, here is a
man you ought to know and be with. His Mission is the place for you to
do Christian work." He saw, I suppose, that I ought to be doing some
good, and he wanted me right there.

I went, then, to Brother Holcombe's Mission, and remained with him for
about two years, working there almost every night for these two years,
keeping door, and doing, to the best of my ability, all the good I
could. I can say that my connection with the Mission, I have no doubt,
has had all to do with strengthening me in the Christian life and
leading me into usefulness, giving me strength and energy to engage in
saving others, and confirming myself in Christian character.

I have witnessed some of the most remarkable conversions at Holcombe's
Mission that I think ever were known anywhere, and I regard Holcombe as
one of the most remarkable men on earth for mission work. It seems that
he can use more means to put men to thinking than any other man that I
know of.

I was always fond of going to the theater. After I had become a
Christian, I had an idea that I could still continue going to theaters,
and so stated to Brother Holcombe and Brother Alexander. They simply
said this: "Brother Dalton, if you get the love of God in your heart you
will find a great deal more pleasure in God's service than you will in
attending theaters;" and from my own experience I have found it true. I
have no desire to go to theaters; my own pleasure is in Christian work;
and I do not think a man can make a practice of attending theaters
regularly and exert the same influence for the salvation of others as if
he did not attend.

I believe as firmly as I do anything, that when I was a boy, God called
me to some kind of Christian work; and I was the most miserable man in
the world when I lost my religion. After meeting with Brother Holcombe,
he seemed to be a great wall of protection to me--and he does yet. He
has infused into my life more Christian zeal than I ever had before. I
am of a temperament that is easily led off--easily influenced; and I
feel that God, in His wisdom, leads me into Christian work in order to
save my own soul as well as others. Since I have been away from
Louisville, in Cleveland, Ohio, in business, I think there has not been
a day or night but what I have thought of Brother Holcombe and the
Mission. It seems to have such an everlasting effect on me, that at all
times I feel a restraining influence which comes out from that Mission.
If at any time I am tempted to become discouraged, the remembrance of
him and the mission work that he is engaged in, seems to be a
protection, something that upholds me in my Christian faith; and I have
learned to love Brother Holcombe as I never loved any man on earth who
was no kin to me. He is a man whom I have watched very closely, and
understand thoroughly; and believe he is one of the most honest, earnest
and upright Christian men that I ever met in all my life, and one who
will do more, and endure more, to lead a man to Christ than any one I
ever knew.

The result of that Christian experience which I had while associated
with Brother Holcombe has been the means of my seeking an opportunity
for Christian work in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, where I am now
residing. I joined the Franklin-avenue Methodist church, of Cleveland, a
grand body of Christians, too, about 650 members; and it seemed that the
Lord had opened the way into this church to harness me into Christian
work there. Being a man from the South, I hardly expected them to
receive me as cordially as they did; but it seemed that, after watching
me, and knowing me, when I was not expecting it, I was elected one of
the stewards of that church a very short time after joining it; and I
have been put on different committees, and have been treated as well as
a Christian gentleman could possibly desire to be treated, and I have
learned to love them. My aim and object in life now is to do all the
good I possibly can in this new field of labor.

The Lord has been very good to me since I reentered His service, and I
have found complete happiness and contentment in this Christian life,
and no man on earth is happier than I when I am doing Christian work,
and I am quite unhappy when I am not, being fully convinced that the
Lord has a Christian work of some kind for me to engage in, and always
being blest in the least effort I make for the salvation of others.

God has prospered me in business, too. I have been very successful in my
business life, not getting rich, but making a good, honest living,
having the confidence and respect of my employers, and the full
confidence of those who work for me. I have endeavored, to the best of
my ability, to use every means within my power to exert as good an
influence over the men in my employ as I possibly can under the
circumstances. I correspond with Brother Holcombe regularly, and have
for the last three years, and I very often use his letters in
endeavoring to bring others to Christ; and frequently in my talks and
Christian work I take a great pride in referring to the Mission in
Louisville, and believe there has been some good done in simply telling
of these remarkable conversions that I have witnessed there, convincing
me that the Mission is not only exerting a good influence in the city of
Louisville, but is being felt all over this country.

After being away a little over three years, I returned to Kentucky on a
visit to my mother and family in Paducah, and also to Brother Holcombe
and my friends in Louisville, and stopped with Brother Holcombe. Of
course, he received me with open arms and a hearty welcome, and I had
the pleasure of meeting many of those men whom I had known when they
were in their sinful lives, bound by the power of strong drink, and it
did my heart good to look into their happy, shining faces, sober as they
are, and active in business, and engaged in Christian work, thereby
receiving new strength and stronger faith in the Blessed Gospel of
Christ. I am fully persuaded there is no other power under heaven that
would save men from these terrible habits except the religion of the
Lord Jesus Christ.

Coming into the presence of Brother Holcombe seemed to have a peculiar
effect upon me. It seemed that I received a new baptism of the Holy
Ghost. I do not know what it is; I know that God's blessing is just as
rich and precious in Cleveland as it is in Louisville, but having been
associated with Brother Holcombe in this Christian work, and witnessing
such wonderful conversions, and God's blessings having been bestowed
upon us so richly, it seems that the place is precious to my soul, and
the remembrance of those things so cheers my heart that it gives me new
strength and new zeal, and I never could, under any circumstances, in my
future life, doubt the reality of the Christian religion.


My birthplace was Bowling Green, Rappahannock county, Virginia. I was
born May 7, 1837. My ancestors were Quakers, and my grandfather a
Hicksite Quaker. He married a Methodist, and was, consequently, turned
out of the church. The family originally came from the north of Ireland,
opposite Glasgow; non-conformists. They came to this country about the
time Penn did, and got over into Loudon county, Virginia. On my mother's
side I am descended from Nathaniel Pendleton, who is a brother of Edmund
Pendleton, and aid-de-camp of General Green during the Revolutionary
war. On both sides a considerable number of the men were in both legal
and literary pursuits. My mother was raised in the Presbyterian
church--joined the Presbyterian church. I was baptized by the Rev. Dr.
Foot, one of the corner-stones of the old school church. My father was
never a member of any church until very late in life. My mother had me
baptized by the Rev. Dr. Foot when I was six years old.

I was always, as a boy, religiously inclined; and never cared for those
enjoyments and pleasures that boys indulge in so much, like playing
ball, hunting and fishing, tobogganing, coasting and all such kind of
sport. I was more of a house boy. I liked to stay at home and read, and
was very affectionate in my disposition. Very early in life I started
out in the world, and when I was fourteen years old I was a store boy;
and even with all that, my early training, to a certain extent, kept me
out of bad company, although I slept in the store, and was really under
no restraint from the time I was about fourteen. I generally, when I
found I was too far gone, pulled up stakes and went somewhere else; and
in that way I grew up. I very rarely failed to go to church twice every
Sunday; and I looked upon religion more as a pleasure and a matter of
pride for the respectability of it. I liked the church, even after I
grew up to be a man. But during the latter part of the war, I became
impressed. I believe it was in October, 1864, I professed religion in a
little church in New Market, Virginia; and after the war, I went to
Baltimore, and united myself there with the Episcopal church. I never
was confirmed, however, until some time in 1868, here in Calvary church
in Louisville. But I always considered myself a member of the church,
went to Sunday-school, and attended to my duties very particularly. I
never drank anything, and never kept bad company. My association was
always the most refined, principally that of ladies. I was fond of
society, parties, theaters and things of that kind, which our church
never objected to very particularly, but I kept myself in bounds.

It was only about 1874 or 1875 that I became associated with some
gentlemen here who were very learned, and who were very earnest men; and
we got into the study of the Bible in search of truth. We got all the
books of modern thought on the subject that we could. We conversed
together and talked together a great deal. We got all the modern
authors, and studied them very thoroughly; and studied so much, that we
finally studied ourselves into infidelity. We studied Draper, Max
Muller, Ledyard, Bishop Colenzo and Judge Strange. Judge Strange's was
the most powerful book, to me, of any. It was a reference to the Old
Testament legends and the miracles of the New. I gradually by the
association, and by reading these modern treatises on theology, etc.,
drifted into that thoughtful infidelity, which is the worst sort in the
world, because I had a great respect for religion, but did not believe
it. I believed in a God, but could not consistently believe that he was
the God of the Bible, or that the Bible itself could be an inspired
book, because so much of it was inconsistent with demands of human

Following these convictions, I gradually drifted into the most complete
infidelity that a man ever did on earth. I did not believe anything,
still I did not attempt in any way to have my associates and friends
believe that I was an infidel. I never boasted of it, I never made light
of religion. I continued to go to church, continued to keep in the
church; and when Ingersoll was here I would not go to hear him. I was
satisfied that Ingersoll's teachings were, to a great extent, what I
believed; but I did not like to hear a man get up and ridicule my
mother's God; and my answer to those who wanted me to go was that I
would not listen to any man who tried to ridicule the religion of my

About 1878 I commenced drinking. I was then about forty-one years old. I
got to taking a drink here and there, but do not suppose I took over a
hundred drinks during the year. In 1879 I got to drinking a little
more. In 1880 I got to drinking pretty hard. During the year 1879 I took
rarely less than three, and very often six to eight drinks, a day, and
in 1881 I was a confirmed, genteel tippler. I rarely took less than
three or more than I could stand, but in a genteel way and in a genteel

I sold out my business and traveled seven or eight months for pleasure,
and kept up the same thing everywhere. I seldom gambled. I played poker
for twenty-five cents ante, and bet on horse races. I never was a
profane man except when I was intoxicated; then I would be a little
profane. I always remembered more than anything else the early teachings
of my mother; they clung to me. I had respect not only for the church
but respect for the ministry and respect for Christian people.

After I commenced drinking I would have given anything in the world if I
could have stopped. I would get up in the morning and I would feel a
lassitude--feel debilitated. I would not care to eat anything--a biscuit
and a cup of coffee--and by eleven o'clock that was all emptied, and my
stomach would crave something. Probably if I had sat down at a
restaurant and made a good dinner it would have helped me; but it was so
much easier to get a toddy, and that toddy did away with the craving,
and probably in an hour and a half I would want the same thing, and,
instead of going to dinner, I would take another drink, and about three
o'clock I would want this toning of the stomach again.

In the fall of 1883 I thought I would call a halt. I quit drinking in
October, 1883, of my own will, and I did not drink a drop of anything
until July, 1884; and then I got at it in the same old way. I got to
taking a toddy a day, and then I got to taking two, and for two months I
was taking a toddy before every meal; and then my stomach got so I did
not care to eat--I took the toddy without the dinner; and in the course
of the year--probably by the first of October--I had got to drinking all
the way from six drinks a day to about a dozen. I kept that up until I
got to being genteelly intoxicated--always genteel, but always going to
bed being pretty well intoxicated. When I got to bed, I would lie down
and sleep; and when I got up in the morning I would have a toddy.

About October we sold out our business here. The winter was beginning,
and I had no money. I began to be a little reckless; and I commenced
drinking the first of October, and I was full until the first of
January. I do not think from the first of October, 1884, until the first
of January, 1887, there was a day that I did not take six drinks, and
generally ten or twelve--pretty stiff drinks, too. I generally drank
about two ounces of whisky. It never affected my health at all. It
stimulated my mind; it made me bright--exceedingly so--so much so that
if there was anybody about the bar-room I was the center of attraction.
I could discourse upon any subject; but I was very bright and vivacious.
I never was afraid of anything on the face of the earth; I guess there
never was a man more fearless than I was when under the influence of
whisky; otherwise, I was very timid.

I kept that thing up, and on the first of January I was walking down the
street. I had gone to bed pretty sober on the night before; and I got
up on the morning of the first of January and dressed myself up nicely,
intending to go to church. I met a friend of mine, who said he was going
around to the office, and asked me to go with him. I said I would. On
the way around there he suggested we should have a pint of whisky. I
said, "I believe I will quit; I am getting tired of whisky." "Well," he
said, "let us have a bottle anyway; it is the first of January." "Yes,"
I said, "as it is the first of January." We sat there and drank that,
and sent out and got another pint and drank that. After that, I went
down to Louis Roderer's and sat there, and some gentlemen came in and
they got to throwing dice for the drinks, and I was invited to join
them, and I did; and I took six drinks there with them. The weather was
cold; the pavement covered with ice. As long as I stayed in the house,
the liquor did not affect me, but as soon as I got out of the door, the
cold coming right into contact with it, seemed to throw all the
undigested alcohol into my brain. I went back to this friend of mine. He
was not there. I walked up Market street, and went to my room and went
to bed. It was there, I suppose, I mashed my nose and cut my face badly.
The servant girl came up stairs and found me lying on the floor. She
went down and got help, and they bathed my face, and they both together
put me to bed. I had been unconscious from the moment I left the
bar-room and was so up to five o'clock the next morning.

They put me to bed, and I was totally unconscious until I woke up the
next morning at five o'clock. It occurred to me that something was the
matter; I felt the wound on my face. I got up and lighted the candle and
looked into the glass, and saw that my face was all bruised and bloody.
I said, "I suppose I ran against something and mashed my face last
night." The next morning I heard this servant girl in the next room. I
heard her saying, "Poor man, poor man." Pretty soon she came in and
said, "What in the world is the matter with you? How did you hurt your
face?" She then told me the condition they had found me in; and if they
had not found me I would have frozen to death. I said, "If this thing is
going to work that way on me, I must call a halt." I could not eat
anything but some milk. I lay in bed all day.

I could not pray. I had got into that frame of mind I could not pray. I
did not believe in the efficacy of prayer. I had lost sight of Christ as
God, but I had great respect for Christ as a teacher. I lay there all
that day, Monday. I was then thoroughly sober; and I said, "I will just
see if there is any efficacy in religion, anyhow. I believe I will try
it." I had gotten up and dressed myself. I had not eaten any breakfast.
I drank some coffee. Not having taken anything to eat, I felt pretty
weak, and I said, "I believe I will take a drink." I went around to a
friend of mine on First street, and he was not there. Then I walked
around to a saloon on Third street. Several gentlemen were there that I
used to drink with. I stood around there for awhile, hoping that some
one would ask me to take a drink, but nobody asked me.

Finally I came up here to Mr. Holcombe's and found him here, and we got
to talking the matter over. I told him that I was tired of this kind of
life. I wanted to take a pledge. "I do not give pledges to anybody to
stop drinking." He said there was but one remedy--reliance upon Christ;
that Christ was all--Christ and the love of God. If I determined to live
up to the teachings of the Bible, if I was willing about it, that he
believed I would be cured. Well, I told him that I thought that my mind
was sufficiently prepared; that I had made up my mind to quit if I
possibly could; that if the Lord wanted to take me the way I was, I had
made up my mind to believe; that I had not believed anything for a long
time, and that if I did believe I would have to take it by faith, and
not by reason.

Finally, after talking it over, Mr. Holcombe prayed, and after prayer I
said I had better go down to my boarding-house. "No," he said, "you stay
with me awhile." I said I could not do that; I had to go down to my
boarding-house. He said, "No!" he thought I had better stay awhile; that
I could stay with him just the same, as I was around there; that I might
get out and get to drinking; that I was not strong enough. I concluded I
would stay with him, and I stayed with him for three weeks.

I went down stairs to the Mission meeting that night, and stood up for
prayer. After the prayer, I felt a great deal better--in fact, I felt as
much converted as I am now. Since then, I have had no trouble.

I never had made a prayer in public in my life; I never had talked
religion in my life, and I got up a week afterward and preached a sermon
an hour long. The second or third night I made a prayer. Before that
night I had never prayed in public. The only prayer I would say was,
"Our Father Who Art In Heaven."

I have never taken a drink since then, and I do not now chew tobacco. I
had either a cigar or a chew of tobacco in my mouth all the time during
the last year. From the time I was fifteen years old, I used to smoke
from three to a dozen cigars a day. My general average of cigars was six
a day. I have not chewed tobacco, I have not smoked a cigar, I have not
taken a drink of liquor since January. A man talking to me the other day
said: "You have the strongest will power on earth. If I had the will
power you have, I could do anything I wanted." I said, "I do not think
so. I do not believe I ever would have stopped smoking and chewing
without the change which has been produced in me through faith and

I will tell you what broke me of chewing tobacco. It was Monday that I
came here to the Mission, the 3d of January, and on Tuesday night I
professed conversion. Wednesday morning I went out to see Mr.
Minnegerode, and had my name again placed on the church record as a
member of Calvary church. The first Sunday in the month was our
communion, and I was very anxious that I should perform all the
obligations necessary to fill out the measure of my conversion, and to
do it as soon as possible; and I happened to be down in Cyrus Young's
office, and he told me that they were going to have communion. They had
quarterly meeting at the Broadway Methodist church. Dr. Brewer preached,
and there I took my first communion. From there I went over to the house
of a friend of mine, who has since died, named Lewis. I took dinner
with him, and stayed there until half-past three o'clock. Well, I took a
chew of tobacco going down the street, and when I had just commenced
chewing it, I said: "You are a pretty kind of a Christian. You have got
your mouth full of that stuff that a hog would not eat, and immediately
after taking the bread and wine commemorative of the death of Christ. It
is not right for a Christian to take that after having partaken of these
emblems." And I spit it out of my mouth. For two or three days it
bothered me a great deal--much more than drinking. I never had a desire
to take a drink since that Monday, although I have been asked
repeatedly. I was down at a hotel with two or three gentlemen the other
day, and somebody got up and suggested taking a drink. I said, "No; I
have joined the church; I am a Christian, and I do not believe in
Christians or church members drinking." Shortly after that they offered
me a cigar, which I refused.

I have now charge of a chapel, and have preached two sermons up there
this week, one Sunday night and one Thursday night. I preached on the
Prodigal Son the other night. I have held seven or eight services up
there. I hold forth here at the Mission one night in the week--that is
Tuesday night. I never killed anybody; have never won a thousand dollars
at cards; and I never was in the gutter. I was a refined tippler. I was
a leader of society all these years, as everybody who knows me is aware.
I was prominent in social life and prominent in church life before I was
an infidel, previous to 1874, and a member of the vestry of Advent
church here. I kept up my acquaintances. All the drinking I did was
with the tony men, at the high-typed, tony saloons. I am now a
communicant of Calvary church. I am a lay reader, and, for the present,
have charge of Campbell-street chapel. I go up there two nights a week.
I was going up to Campbell street, the other evening, to hold service
and I met Bishop Dudley, who was going up to Trinity to confirm a class,
and he asked me where I was going. I told him I was going over to
Campbell street to hold service. He asked me who did my singing. I said
I did all the preaching and singing myself.

The sum of it is, I felt that mine was a bad case; I had been struggling
for two years and a half to rid myself of this appetite, by making to
myself all kinds of promises day after day, but was unable to do it; I
said to myself, "Mine is a bad case--an aggravated case--and it needs
heroic treatment. I can say I will quit drinking. I can go and kneel
down and feel very well about it; but the question is, whether I would
not go back to the same old way of living; and I reflected that I might
be renewed or regenerated--if the Lord created me, He could re-create
me--to the man He had made and created in His own image, if he believed,
He could give back his manhood; would re-create him and give him a new
birth." I felt that, and felt that I must make a public confession. Mine
was a bad case, and there was only one way to cure me--a public
confession before God and the world, and a prayer for strength to make
me live up to that profession--and when I made that profession, I felt

I have had more strength since then. I have not had the least desire for
liquor. Last night was the first time I ever dreamed about drinking
since; and then I dreamed that I wanted a lemonade very badly and went
to the saloon to get it; and my conscience pricked me even in my sleep
for the desire for a lemonade and going into a saloon to get it. Before,
I used to dream about going into drinking saloons. Instead of having a
desire for a drink of whisky, I give you my word and honor, it was
nauseating to me. That was not a qualm of conscience, but a physical
sensation. It came when I picked up a glass that had had whisky in it. I
smelled it, and set it down. And, by the grace of God, I am determined
that I have drunk my last drop of intoxicating liquor.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN N. B. PECK.]


I have had rather an eventful life; but I don't know that it would be
interesting to the public.

I certainly had less reason to be a bad boy, and worse man, than almost
anybody ever had. I was surrounded by the very best Christian
influences. My father was a prominent minister of the Baptist
denomination in this State. He died, though, when I was quite young. My
mother's people had been Christian people very far back. The male
members on my father's side were Baptist ministers as far as I could
trace it. I lost my father when I was about eight years old. My mother
tried to raise me right--taught me right; but we were living out here in
a little town--Hodgensville--and I was wild from the start. I was not
worse than any other boys, but I was in all sorts of mischief. I was
looked upon as a bad boy, and regarded as no exception to the general
rule, that preacher's boys are worse than other boys.

When about twelve years old, I joined the church at a revival. I believe
I was truly converted, and for a short while I lived up to the duties of
my church; but I soon neglected going to church--first I neglected going
to prayer-meeting--and I got back so far that I would not be picked out
as a Christian by any means.

The war came up when I was fourteen years old, and I went into it; and
the first night out I got to drinking and playing cards; and I suppose I
was known as the leader in all the mischief got up in the brigade. I
was notorious throughout the command as a reckless, bad boy from the

My mother had been opposed to my going into the army at all; but, if I
was going, she would have preferred my serving on the other side. I
never shall forget one thing she said to me at starting. When the time
came to go, I would not have hesitated to back out if she had given me
any encouragement at all. She said, "My son, you have determined; you
have cast your lot with the South. I had rather you would do your duty
and be a brave soldier." But she continued to pray for me.

After the war I came back home, and found that our property was all
gone. My mother had sent me to Georgetown college before the war, and my
idea was to educate myself for a lawyer. When I came home the property
was dissipated, and I did not have enough to finish my education; and
the question was, what would be the best for me to do. I came here to
Louisville and went to drumming; met with phenomenal success from the
start; went up and up; was hail fellow, well met, with everybody;
situations offered me on every side. But I continued to drink and play
cards as I did in the army, and gambled all the time, although not a
professional gambler. I played against Holcombe's bank many a time. I
went from bad to worse. I continued to dissipate and gamble; and eleven
years ago my health was very much shattered from my excesses, and I
became soured with myself and everybody. I was as miserable as a man
could be, in that condition, as a matter of course; and a gentleman who
had been a comrade in the army with me, and had taken a great deal of
interest in me, Captain Cross, in a conversation with me, insisted that
I should go with him to Texas, where he was doing a flourishing
business. I had tried, time and again, to reform, always in my own
strength, and got further away from God all the time. I tried to believe
that Christ was not the Son of God; that he was not inspired; I denied
the divinity of Christ, although I never denied that there was a Supreme
Ruler. Captain Cross wanted me to go to Texas, thinking that if I got
away from the surroundings here, it would help me. Accordingly, I went
to Texas with him, where I made plenty of money.

But I soon fell into the old ways, and found gambling houses as numerous
there as they are here; I found dance-houses more accessible than the
churches. I led a reckless life; and frequently did not hear from my
family and friends for months at a time. Finally I drank until I drank
myself into delirium tremens; tried to kill myself; went and bought
morphine. But fortunately for me, they were watching me. That was in
Paris, Texas. I was in bed for two or three weeks; and when I got up
from that, I felt like I did not want to stay in Texas any longer.

I went to St. Louis and went into business there; had success as a
salesman; had a big trade; and I went there with a determination not to
drink any more whisky; but I was there only a few days before I was
drinking and playing cards--my old life, in fact. Finally I got into a
difficulty with a man, shot him and got shot myself. I got into a great
deal of trouble on account of it. It cost me a great deal of money and
my mother a great deal of sorrow. One time I went to Mexico to get out
of the way, where I led a reckless life; went into the army; played
cards and drank whisky. I neglected business for whisky a great deal of
the time. Then I came here to Louisville, and kept up the same practice;
went to Cincinnati and did the same thing there. I let up for a little
while when I went to new places. When I got back from St. Louis, I met
Steve Holcombe and shook hands with him. The first thing he said to me
was, "I have changed my life." I had not heard anything of it. I asked
him what he was doing. He said he was serving the Lord instead of the
devil; that he had a little mission somewhere. I did not pay any
attention to it. But one Sunday I was passing down Jefferson street, and
there was a crowd on the courthouse steps, and I saw Steve talking to
them. I listened to him, and after the crowd went away I asked him how
he was getting along and he told me.

I kept on drinking, however. Sometimes I had a situation and sometimes I
did not. People did not want me; they did not know when I would be
sober. If I got a situation, it was in the busy season. After the busy
season was over, they would reduce my salary and give me to understand
they wanted me to get a new place.

One time I was drunk for a week or ten days, and as I passed I heard
them singing in the Mission down stairs and went in. I thought that
would be a good place to rest. I went back a night or two; and one night
Mr. Holcombe delivered a powerful testimony and mentioned some
circumstances that had occurred in his life, at some of which I had
been present--I don't know that he had particular reference to me. I
went back the next night and went up for prayer. I went again sober; but
I did not see my way clear. I went back and took "a nip," as he said. I
sank lower and lower; but I still went to that Mission. Something
impelled me, I know now what it was. I got a situation, and was
traveling; but whenever I got off a trip the spirit of the Lord impelled
me to go to that Mission. I talked with Steve frequently, and promised
him that I was going to try and reform; but I did not, and toward the
last, in fact, I had almost quit going to the Mission. I said, "It is
not for me, it is for these other men. I have gone too far."

I went in there in November. I was going away on a trip, and the next
day I started. I met a friend on the street, and he asked me for a
quarter. He wanted to get a drink and lunch. I told him it was about my
time to get a drink, too, and we would go and get one together before I
left. I was telling him about going to the Mission, and he hooted at the
idea of a man of my sense going to the Mission. About two o'clock in the
afternoon I was going down the street to take the boat, and I met
another friend, and he certainly was the worst looking case I ever saw.
I did not think he would live two weeks. He was a physical wreck, and
almost a total mental wreck. After talking to him for a few minutes he
asked me where I was going. I told him. And I told him, too, I did not
care whether I ever got back or not. I told him it would be a relief to
me if I never got back off of that trip. I had a family, saw them
occasionally, and sent them money when I could; but I never lived with
them. After talking with him a little while, I said my time was up, and
asked him if he would not go and take a parting drink with me. We went
into the Opera House down there and took a drink. I never expected to
see my friend alive again, even if I got back from that trip myself.
That was the 30th day of November. I got back here the 18th day of

The most of the night of the 18th I spent down here at the Grand
Central--"made a night of it." The next morning, when I got up, the very
first man I saw asked me if I had seen a certain friend of mine. I told
him, "No." He said: "You would not know him." I said: "What is the
matter with him?" He said: "He is reformed; he is a Christian, and he
looks twenty years younger than you ever saw him." I said: "You are a
liar." He said: "I am not a liar. You won't know him. He looks like a
gentleman." I said: "It is pretty funny if he can look like a gentleman
in this short time." I had not gone another square before some one asked
me if I had seen another friend of mine. I said: "No." "Well," he said,
"you ought to see him. He has quit drinking, and looks like he used to
look." I said "What is the matter with him?" He said: "He has joined the
church." I took a drink, and thought about this thing; went down to the
store, and knocked around there all day long, thinking about those two
men. But here I was, drunk and wretched and trying to get sober, but
could not.

Somebody met me about four o'clock in the evening, and asked: "Where are
you going?" I said: "I am going around here to get a drink." He said:
"How are you going to drink when your partners have quit drinking?" I
asked him where they could be found; that I wanted to take a look at
them. He told me that I could find them at the Mission. I concluded I
would come up to the Mission, and did so, pretty full; and, honestly, I
would not have known either of these men on the street. I never saw such
a transformation as in them. After the services were over they came up
and shook hands with me, and treated me as kindly as they used to do
when we were drinking together. And I made up my mind if Christ could
save them, I wanted some of it for myself.

I came to the Mission, and stood up for prayers all the time, but came
half drunk for four or five nights, but still with the determination to
have salvation if it was to be found; but the more I came the darker the
way grew. I think (on the 29th of December) Mrs. Clark came and talked
to me, and Mr. Atmore came and talked to me, I was sober--comparatively
so. I told them that I had given up all hope; that I had sinned away my
day of grace, and there was no hope for me. They cheered me, and I
promised them I would pray that night. I went out of the Mission and got
blind, staving drunk; was hardly able to get up stairs to my bed at
eleven o'clock, at night. I did it out of despair. The doctors had told
me before that unless I quit drinking whisky I would go dead. I was
tired of life, but afraid to commit suicide. I concluded that the sooner
I died, the better. I got up at three o'clock in the morning to come
down stairs and get a drink. The barkeeper was absent from his bar, and
I concluded that I would wash myself before I took a drink. I said to
myself while I was washing: "You promised yourself you would not drink,
and the very first night you get drunk, and get up in the morning to
take another drink, and if you take it you will be drunk before night."
I concluded I would stop. I took a seat by the stove, and very soon the
barkeeper came back. He looked at me and said: "Are you broke this
morning, or too stingy to drink, or what is the matter?" He added: "Come
on. If you are too stingy to take a drink yourself, take one with me." I
was just dying for a drink. I was shaking--suffering physically and
mentally. I got up two or three times to go to that bar to take a drink,
but I argued to myself: "If you can not keep from taking a drink, you
had better go up stairs and kill yourself." After awhile the boys
commenced dropping in, and, as was the custom, said: "Come on, Peck, and
take a drink." I told them, "No; I have quit."

I went around to the Mission that night, and went up to the front. I had
a talk with some Christian people there about the matter, and talked
with one of my converted friends. He said there was only one way to
do--to give myself to God. I went to bed immediately after I left. I
could not sleep. I continued to pray until somewhere along about three
o'clock in the morning of the 2d of January; and the way was made clear
for me. I don't know that there was any particular vision. I made up my
mind that I would go and make my arrangements to join the church, and
ask God's direction from that time on, and to lead another life--lead a
Christian life as much as it is possible for a sinful mortal like me to

I came up to the Mission that night, and told Sister Clark and Brother
Holcombe that I was as happy as I could be; I had found what I was
seeking for, and I felt that I could trust God. The next Wednesday night
I went down to the Fourth and Walnut-street Baptist church, and put
myself under the care of the church. Since that time I have been leading
a different life. I am in perfect peace and rest. Everything, of course,
has not gone to suit me exactly; but I always have been able to say: "I
know it is for the best." My faith grows stronger and my future brighter
day by day. I think these people who have been moral and religious all
of their lives can not enjoy religion like a hard customer, as I was--if
they do, they do not show it.

Friends and relatives who had forsaken and avoided me came to me at once
and upheld and encouraged me. Business came to me without seeking it. I
was encouraged on every hand. People that I thought despised me, I found
did not. I had every encouragement, so far as this life is concerned,
and I am, to-day, in a better fix, a long ways, than I have been for

My appetite for whisky has troubled me three or four times since I came
to Christ, but all I have to do is to get down on my knees, and ask for
strength to resist it. And before I get through praying I forget about
it. I have confidence that God will keep me to the end, and my
confidence grows stronger every day. Things that were a great trial to
me at first are no longer so.

A very remarkable thing in my case is, that the thing that I expected to
give me the most trouble has given me the least. I was certainly one of
the most profane men that ever lived, and I was always afraid that the
sin that I would have to guard against most would be profanity. But, if
I have ever sworn an oath, it has been unconsciously, and I do not have
to think about it--I do not have to guard against it; it horrifies me to
hear a man swear now. I thought I could fight whisky easier than I could
that. Strange to say, it has not bothered me in the least, but whisky
has, on three or four occasions. A craving came on me yesterday. It was
a terrible, miserable, bleak, rainy day. I was sitting in my room,
writing, and all at once I concluded that I must have a stimulant. I
have not recovered, and will not for months, from the effects of whisky.
I said: "It is a cold, damp, miserable day. Go up there to the
drug-store and get some port wine as a medicine. Do not go into a
bar-room. There will be no harm in going there to get a little port
wine. Bring it into your room. It will be the best thing you can do." I
got up and put on my overcoat and my overshoes, and it struck me that it
would not be the best thing for me; and I got down on my knees and
prayed to God, and before I got through praying I forgot all about it.
The devil had tempted me previously, but he put it that day in the shape
of the port wine.

Just about ten days after I joined the church, I was in the Phoenix
hotel. A friend of mine, a man that I had gambled and drunk with all my
life, or at least, for a number of years, said to me, "You are not
drinking much from the way you look." I said, "No, I am not." He said he
thought he would beckon me out, because he did not like to make that
statement before the crowd, and had I been drinking as I did the last
time he saw me, he would not have asked me. He wanted me to come in and
take a drink with him. I said whisky had once got the upper hand of me,
and he must excuse me. He said he knew I was a man, and could take a
drink without getting drunk, and he wanted me to take it socially. I
told him that might all be true. I might take the drink without getting
drunk, and I might take it without its being a sin in his sight, or in
the sight of other people; but that I had promised God that I would
follow Him all my life, and walk in the way He wanted me to go; that I
had joined the church, and our church rules forbade drinking. He then
begged my pardon, with tears in his eyes, for having asked me, and bade
me God speed.

[Illustration: J. C. WILSON.]


I started out in gambling during the war--about 1862. That was in New
York State. I was born and raised there. I will be forty-five years of
age the next eighth of July. I started out in New York in 1862. My
father kept a shoe store there then. He was pretty well to do. Having
money, I cared nothing about getting any kind of business. I got in with
a man by the name of Captain Brown, who was one of the principal
gamblers there; and I began to be expert in short cards at first.

From there I went into the army during the war, and stayed there until
1865, and then went to Texas. At Austin, Texas, I got into trouble in
1866, on account of my gambling. I believe it was about the 20th of
January. Myself and a man by the name of Ryan had been playing together,
and I had beaten him, which made him mad. He called me very insulting
names. He slapped me and hit me, and I drew my pistol on him. I first
struck him once and then shot him, and killed him instantly. I was put
in jail. I had not been there long and was a stranger. The thing
occurred down near the Colorado river. A mob assembled, and came down
with ropes to hang me. But the sheriff and his posse, in order to save
me, carried me out of the city, and ran me up to San Antonio. I stayed
in jail six months and was tried; but there was nothing done with
me--the witnesses testified that I was justified in doing what I did.

After that I went to Rochester, New York, and from there to Toronto,
Canada. I made my living by gambling; and, of course, gambled in all
these places. I got broke very often, but always managed to get hold of
a stake. I went from Canada back to New York City; and used to play on
the falls steamers--Fisk's boats. I stayed there until I came to
Louisville in 1870, when I went into the army again. I was here in the
Taylor barracks with General Custer. I went out West with him, and was
there discharged from the army, and went to gambling at Bismarck,
Dakota. When I had got out of the army, I had made about six thousand
dollars, and went to St. Paul, and from there to Chicago. I gambled
there for awhile, and was unsuccessful; and from there I came to
Louisville again.

I have been here since 1873, I believe. Shortly after I commenced
gambling here, the gambling houses were closed, but were re-opened in
1874 again, and I commenced gambling again, opening at the Richmond, the
house on the South-west corner of Fifth and Market streets. Brother
Holcombe before that, I think, was interested in the Richmond. That was
the last house I dealt in, or worked in, until I opened for myself,
which was at "84" Fifth street, between Main and Market. I was very
unsuccessful there; had men working for me who did not attend to their

During all this time I had a wife and family, whom I really loved but
whom I neglected and allowed to suffer greatly through my passion for
gambling, the uncertainty of making a living and my wanderings from
place to place. About this time I used to think of Holcombe; and we
gamblers used to remark among ourselves how it was that he had become
religious. I used to get to studying to myself how he got along, and ask
myself how a man could be a Christian who had been a gambler so long as
he had.

About this time I met Dr. Jno. B. Richardson and Mr. Samuel B.
Richardson. They talked with me in regard to swearing and gambling and
the life I was leading. They influenced me as best they could and
advised me to see Brother Holcombe, and together with Brother Holcombe
they watched over my spiritual condition for a couple of years. I had
become disgusted with the life I was leading; and came to Brother
Holcombe for advice. I had quit "84" and was broke. I had some money
when I quit, and bought the house which I am living in yet. I said to
Brother Holcombe: "I am getting tired of this infernal gambling. How can
I quit it? Show me something to do. How can I get out of this life?" He
said, "Brother Wilson, come up stairs." He talked with me and prayed
with me. He said, "Do not be discouraged. Take my advice. The first
thing you do, commit yourself; take a stand and after that every night,
and during the day, ask God for strength and help, and come to this
mission and," he said, "I will help you to get something to do in every
way I can." I never will forget the first night I got down on my knees
and prayed. I laughed at myself, which showed how the devil was after me
to lead me back to my old life. I actually laughed to think I was trying
to pray in earnest. I came to the mission and told Steve. Brother
Holcombe said, "Keep on in that way, anyhow. Pray to God and ask for
strength all the time. Keep away from gamblers and bad company, and do
not mix with them," and I did so--I took his advice, and I began to get
strength from Almighty God; He was helping me; He opened a way for me,
though everything was new to me for awhile.

When I least expected it, I got a situation with the Louisville City
Railway Company, which I still hold. I am happy and my family are happy,
and all my surroundings are good; and I know, with the help of God, I
will never touch a card again. If we trust in God, I know we are kept
from all temptation. When any temptation comes to me, I always look to
God for help; and the help comes as naturally as my pay does when
pay-day comes. I feel that the number of friends I have made, and
everything I have, I owe to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and
Brother Holcombe; and I trust I may be kept and continue in the life I
am leading. I am happy and contented and all my surroundings are happy;
and I hope all good people will pray for me that I may continue the life
I am now leading.

I belong to the First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Witherspoon's church, and
I am sorry I can not attend more regularly. My business occupies me so
constantly that I can not get away.

I get only a dollar and a half a day. When I was a gambler, some months
I would make three or four thousand dollars, and sometimes five thousand
dollars; and some months I believe I have made more than that, so far as
that is concerned; but a gambler, you know, has his ups and downs, I
have been so hard up that I have been tempted to commit murder for
money. In Texas I looked for a man to kill him for his money, but when I
found him I did not have the heart to do it. It seemed as if I could not
use my hands.

It would take me from now until to-morrow morning to tell all of my
experiences. I have been in Europe, California, Old and New Mexico, and
I believe that God was with me even when I was wicked. I have a bad
temper to this day, but, by God's grace, I can control it.

My parents were church members--Presbyterians, and I was raised in the
church. My father died when I was fifteen years old, and my mother died
when I was eight years old. If I had been put to hard work, and had had
something to do, it might have been different with me; but my father was
well-to-do, and I had too much money to spend. My parents tried to give
me a good education, and I went to school; but when I got to gambling I
could not get anything in my head but cards. I did not care for anything
else. But, thank God, it is now just the reverse; it just gives me the
chills to think of playing cards.

Three years ago, if a man had told me that I would quit gambling, I
would have told him that he was crazy. I thank God and Brother Holcombe
for what has been done for me. I am truly thankful there was such a man.
I know if it had not been for him I would have been right in hell
to-day. If I had not been helped and lifted up, just like a little
child in the new life, I think I would to-day be in hell. I never will
forget Brother Holcombe.

I drank liquor, but was not a regular drunkard, because it made me too
sick. I used to drink and get drunk, but I would get so sick I could not
stand it. The habit was there, but the constitution could not endure it.

I have no trouble now; I am perfectly happy; I do not know what trouble
is any more. Of course, we all have ups and downs; we can not have
everything our own way; but I praise God and Brother Holcombe that I am
able to bear them.

You must show that you are willing for the Lord to help you before He
will do so. It is like a man teaching his children; if the child keeps
shoving him off, the parent can not help the child, and so it is with
God. But when a man has seen and felt the effects of sin, and his pride
is broken down so that he is willing, then God will help him and save
him, no matter how far he has gone in wickedness.

     NOTE.--Mr. Wilson is employed by the Louisville City Railway
     Company, at the corner of Eighteenth and Chestnut streets,
     where, day after day, for years, he has faithfully discharged
     his duties, and he has the respect and esteem of his employers
     and of all who know him.

[Illustration: WM. BIERLY.]


I am thirty-two years of age. I was born at Louisville in 1856. My
father was a Catholic then, but he is not now. My mother died when I was
so small that I don't know what she was. I will tell you how it was: My
mother died when I was quite young, my father went into the war, and I
was kicked and cuffed about from one place to another, here and there,
till I had no respect for myself, and felt that I was nobody.

I was with my father in the soldiers' hospital for a long time. He was
nurse in the soldiers' hospital. At this time I would drink whisky
whenever I could get it, which appetite did not leave me until I was
about eighteen years old.

When I was about eleven years old I got to being bad--got to stealing.
My father was a strictly honest man himself, and my pilfering was
abhorrent to him; so he had me put in the house of refuge when I was
eleven years old. I was to remain in the house of refuge until I was
twenty-one years old, but I got out before I was twenty-one. When I was
nineteen I got to be a guard there. But I got to misbehaving, and got
discharged from there before I was twenty-one.

When I came out of the house of refuge I boarded around at different
places, first at one place and then another; and sometimes I had no
place to board at all, and sometimes I could almost lie down on the
ground and eat grass. I did not go to my father's, but knocked about
from one place to another. I got to stealing again, and I kept that up
all the time. I never had a desire to do anything else wrong, but I
always had the desire to steal; and while a boy I would steal anything I
came across. I would go down to the river and steal a bag of peanuts, or
burst in the head of a barrel of apples and take apples out--many a time
have I done that. I worked in a tobacco shop for awhile, and would steal
tobacco--I would steal anything.

I never was arrested when I was a boy. The first time I ever was
arrested I was sent to the work-house, and Mr. Steve Holcombe got me
out. After I got out of the work-house I attended the Mission, and there
was a good religious impression made on me. That was the first time I
ever had any religious impression.

I lived pretty straight for awhile, and after awhile my old desire to
steal came back on me. Thank the Lord it does not bother me any more
now, I was watching at the Louisville Exposition during the first year
of the exposition, 1883, and I was boarding where there were some street
car drivers boarding, and they had all their money boxes there at the
boarding house. I was tempted to take a few of their boxes, and I did
take two of them. I was arrested for it, tried, convicted and sentenced
to six years in the penitentiary.

While I was in the penitentiary it seemed that everything turned around
the other way with me; it seemed like I had got enough of it. I saw so
many bad men there, I got disgusted. It seemed to me if ever I got out
and got my liberty any more, I would try to do right if it took my head

During the time--two years--that I was in the penitentiary, I kept up a
correspondence all the time with Mr. Holcombe; and Mr. Holcombe's
Christian letters touched my heart, and I made up my mind by the grace
of God I would lead a Christian life in the future. At the expiration of
about two years, Mr. Holcombe, to my great surprise and delight, brought
me a pardon from Governor Knott.

Since I have been out of the penitentiary I have been leading a
Christian life, and have had no inclination to steal. I have been at
work for Hegan Brothers, as engineer and fireman, for some time, have
got married to a sweet girl, and am now living happily in the Lord; and
I shall never cease to be grateful to God and Mr. Holcombe. I never go
to sleep at night without thanking the Lord--and my wife joins me in

[Illustration: MAC. PITTMAN.]


I was born in Baltimore in 1834. My ancestors were driven away from
Arcadia by the English, on account of their Roman Catholic proclivities.

I was educated at two Catholic colleges, St. Mary's, at Baltimore; and
St. Mary's at Wilmington, Delaware. At eighteen years of age, on account
of the tyranny of my father, I ran away from home, and shipped in the
United States Navy as a common sailor. I went around to San Francisco,
and there joined "the gray-eyed man of destiny," General Walker.

I joined his expedition in September, 1885, and arrived in Nicaragua in
October, the following month--the third day of October. There was a
civil war then in progress in Nicaragua; and the pretense of this
expedition was that we were hired by one of the parties to take part in
it. Walker was to furnish three hundred Americans, who were to get one
hundred dollars a month and five hundred acres of land, and their
clothes and rations, of course. When I first arrived there, we were to
escort specie trains across the isthmus--there are but twelve miles of
land from water to water--from San Juan del Sur to Virgin Bay. I was one
of the guard over the celebrated State prisoners, General Coral and the
Secretary of War, whose name I forget, who were both executed. I was
inside of the seventieth man who joined this expedition; when I joined
him, Walker had but sixty men. The re-enforcements that came over
made just one hundred men. He had sixty men, I think, and we numbered
forty. With this one hundred men we took the city of Grenada, which had
a population of twelve thousand, on the morning of October 13, 1855. A
small division of men was sent to the town of Leon on the Pacific coast.
The natives of that section of the country were all in favor of Walker;
that part--the western part--is the Democratic part of the country. On
our return to Grenada, on the 11th day of April, 1856, we went into the
Battle of Rivas, after marching sixty-five miles. We fought from eight
o'clock in the morning until two the next morning, by the flash of guns.
I lost my arm that morning; and was promoted from the rank of sergeant
to that of first lieutenant for taking a cannon in advance of the army.
I returned to Grenada, and lay there for several months, and then
returned to America. I went back with the re-enforcements from New York
in the following August. In October, 1856, I resigned, and came back to

At the breaking out of the civil war, on the first call for troops, I
refused a commission in the Federal army, and joined the Confederate

In 1861 we formed the First Maryland regiment. The last six months of
the war I spent as a prisoner in Fort Delaware, charged with the murder
of the eleven men who were killed in Baltimore during the riot, on the
19th of April, 1861. I was court-martialed in Washington City, in the
latter part of 1864, and was sent in irons to Fort Delaware, and
remained there until May, 1865, when I was released.

From Fort Delaware I went to New York, and from there went to Virginia,
where I married the great granddaughter of the illustrious patriot,
Patrick Henry, at Danville. In January, 1866, I migrated to Texas, where
I spent the little patrimony my grandfather had given me. When I left
there, I took the position of commercial and marine editor of the
Savannah _News_.

I never had given a thought to religion or my hereafter before this
time. To illustrate this: When they amputated my arm, they asked me
distinctly if I had any religion. They told me afterward they expected
me to die. I said: "Yes, I have been raised a Catholic." They wanted to
send for a priest. I said: "No, I do not want you to send for a priest."
They asked me why? "Well," I said, "as I have lived, thus will I die; I
don't have much faith in the hereafter business." I did not have much
faith in hell, I meant.

I was interested, directly and indirectly, in several gambling
establishments, and my proclivities were in that direction. The passion
of gambling controlled me to such an extent that I was capable of all
sins and crimes to indulge in it. It was one day up, one day down; one
day with plenty, another day without a cent.

I continued in this wild, reckless career, until fate turned my
footsteps toward the city of Louisville. For it was fate, sure enough,
or I don't know what it was. I was sitting one Sunday in front of the
old Willard Hotel, Steve Holcombe was preaching that Sunday on the
courthouse steps. His remarks were such as to elicit my closest
attention; so impressive were they that he seemed to picture before me a
panorama of my whole life, in referring to his own career. When he got
through with his sermon, I walked up to him, and said: "Mr. Holcombe,
you are the first man that I ever heard in my life who impressed me with
the importance of preparing for death and meeting God." I then commenced
attending the Mission, on Jefferson street, near Fifth, daily. I was
there nearly every day.

I then went South, to New Orleans, and fell from grace again--commenced
going through the same old routine--gambling, drinking, spreeing. In
fact, I was a fearful periodical spreer; if I took one drink, I had to
keep drinking for a month. As long as I kept away from it I was all
right. I was very abusive when I was drinking; I would knock a man down
with a club. I have been arrested, I guess, fifty times for fighting and
drunken brawls.

From New Orleans I again came back to Louisville, the 6th of August a
year ago, still going on in the same reckless manner, getting drunk, and
being drunk, as usual, a week at a time--sometimes a month; in fact, I
lived in bar-rooms here. One night, while Mr. Murphy was here--I do not
recollect the night, but at one of Mr. Murphy's meetings--he appealed to
us all to try and reform and be sober men. I met Mr. Werne and Miles
Turpin there, and while there, Mr. Werne asked me if I did not intend to
reform, or something like that--that was the substance of the
conversation of himself and his wife with me--and he told me that Miles
Turpin had reformed. I said: "If Miles Turpin has reformed, I can, too.
From this day henceforth I will be a sober man." And I signed the Murphy
pledge a short time afterward, and I have not taken anything
intoxicating from that day to this.

Mr. Werne then asked me to come up to the Mission, and I have not missed
attending this Mission but three nights since, and the benefits that I
have derived--the satisfaction, the happiness of mind, the contentment
of spirit--I would not exchange for my old life for anything in the
world. I mean I would not exchange my present life for the old one for
any earthly consideration. I attribute this reformation to the strong
personal interest that Mr. Holcombe has taken in my welfare, and if he
does not save but one soul, as he says, it would pay him for all the
trouble he has gone through within the last ten years or more.

     The two following letters, though in the nature of testimonies,
     are from men of high standing in the community, who preferred,
     on account of others, not to give their testimonies in the form
     in which the foregoing are given:

    LOUISVILLE, KY., July 24, 1888.

    _Rev. Gross Alexander_:

    MY DEAR BROTHER--Yours of 21st is just received. I can not see
    how a sketch of my life can do "The Life of Brother Holcombe"
    any good. As I understand it, you are writing the life and
    conversion of Steve Holcombe and not of others. My past history
    is sufficiently sad and regretful without having it paraded
    before the public in book form. I am far from being proud of it.
    I am exceedingly anxious it should sink into the shades of
    forgetfulness. Having marked out a new and brighter life, I am
    only too glad to let "the dead past bury its dead."

    Most sincerely,

    ---- ----.

       *       *       *       *       *

    LOUISVILLE, KY., August 2, 1888.

    _Dear Brother Alexander_:

    Your kind letter was received several days ago, but I have
    delayed answering, in the expectation of seeing you here in

    I am now anxious for the successful issue of the book, on
    account of the great moral influence it will have upon all
    classes of the community. But I can not consent to what you
    propose. I am endeavoring every day to blot out and forget the
    dark and cloudy past of my life, keeping always a bright future
    in view. There are dark and painful episodes in the life of
    every man and though _he_ may be willing to expose them to the
    eyes of the public, there are those who are bound to him by the
    ties of blood and relationship, who would blush at the recital.
    This is the position I occupy. I hope to see you here soon.

    Yours truly,

    ---- ----.



MARK 1: 15.

     "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel."

Verse 14 says, the Lord Jesus came into Galilee preaching; and this was
the announcement which He made, namely, that the kingdom of God was at
hand and they were to enter it by repentance and faith. The kingdom was
brought to them; they did not have to go and search for it. It was
brought to them, opened for them and they were _urged_ to go in and
become members of it. And so it is now. God's messengers are sent
everywhere to find sinners, and when they are found, to say to them:
"Ho! everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters and drink, come buy
and eat without money and without price" (Isaiah 55), and to cry, "All
things are now ready; come ye, therefore, to the feast."

And so it is to-day, God sends the same message of good news, of glad
tidings to you--even to you. The kingdom of God is _here--here to-day
and now_; and if you _will_, you may enter it and be saved.

But what are men told to do in order that they may enter?

How are they to enter?

1. They are to _repent_.

And what is it to repent?

Some think that great sorrow of heart is a necessary part of repentance;
and that tears and groans of agony must be a part of every repentance
that is genuine, and they think that unless we feel deeply and keenly
the baseness of our ingratitude to God we are not truly penitent. Now,
it is true that some people have _all these_ marks of repentance, and it
is very well to have them, but some men can not have them and never can
get them. So that if all men are commanded to repent and can repent,
these things are not an essential part of true repentance. To repent,
then, is to turn unto God with the feeling that sin is wrong, and that,
if we do not get rid of it, it will ruin us; and with the resolution and
hope, by the help of God, to keep from sin and to live for Him during
the rest of our lives. And if our repentance is genuine, we _will_ leave
off sin and practice righteousness. It will show itself by its _fruits_.
Pretending or professing to repent without turning away from our sins
and abandoning them is, as some one has said, like trying to pump the
water out of a boat without stopping the leaks. If you have sorrow and
regrets and tears, they are all right; but the _main thing_ is to have
such a feeling concerning sin as to turn _forever_ away from it to God
and to a life of righteousness. And if your repentance is genuine, you
will not wait until you are converted before you begin to leave off all
sin and to do all the good of every kind in your power. No; you will
begin _at once and keep it up_, and the longer you keep at it the more
you will feel that you must go on with it.

2. But there is another thing to be done. The Lord says:

"Repent and _believe_ the Gospel."

So you are to _believe_. You are to believe that God _does_ accept you
now through Jesus Christ _just because He says_ He accepts and saves
those who believe in His Son. You may not receive the evidence of
acceptance _at once_ and so you are to hold on by faith till He does
give you the evidence of your acceptance, even the witness of His spirit
that your sins are forgiven and you made a child of God.

You must not let the difficulty of believing without feeling keep you
back from believing and you must not let the remembrance of your great
sins keep you from believing. Poor, unhappy men, you who are bruised and
sore on account of your sins, I beg you cease from your evil ways. Why
will you die? "What fearful thing is there in Heaven which makes you
flee from that world? What fascinating object in hell, that excites such
frenzied exertion to break every band, and overleap every bound, and
force your way downward to the chambers of death?" Stop, I beseech you,
and repent, and Jesus Christ shall blot out your sins, and remember your
transgressions no more. Stop, and the host who follow your steps shall
turn, and take hold on the path of life. Stop, and the wide waste of sin
shall cease, and the song of the angels shall be heard again, "glory to
God in the highest; on earth, peace, good will to men." Stop, and
instead of wailing with the lost, you shall join the multitude which no
man can number, in the ascription of blessing and honor, and glory, and
power, to Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and

The kingdom of God is here to-night. Will you come in?

     "Come humble sinner in whose breast," etc.

Come, angels invite you, we invite you, and, best of all, Christ invites
you. O, do not, by your own actions, bar this door forever against your
immortal soul. What a fearful thing it will be to wake up in eternity to
find this door, which to-day hangs wide open, barred against you and
hung with crape. O, how fearful will be those words, too late! too late!
All is lost.

    "Just as I am, without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee,
    O! Lamb of God I come.

    "Just as I am, tho' tossed about,
    With many a conflict, many a doubt,
    Fightings and fears within, without,
    O! Lamb of God I come."


     "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
     that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
     everlasting life."

Many of the glorious truths of the Gospel are both above the conception
of man and altogether contrary to what his unrenewed nature would desire
to publish. Heathen writers could tell of the cruelty and vengeful wrath
of their imaginary gods. They could tell of deeds of daring, the
exploits of Hercules, Hector, Æneas and others; but it was foreign to
their nature to write: "God so loved the world as to give His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life."

1. The Gospel is glad tidings. It is the news that God is reconciled and
wants to be at peace with man. Is this not good news? Have you never
heard good news that made your heart leap for joy? Well, this is better
news than any you have ever heard. God, not angry with you, but loving
you, so as, at a great sacrifice, to make a way for the salvation of the

2. What was that sacrifice? It was the gift of His own Son. Think of it,
oh sinner! God consenteth to give up His Son, to leave His glory and
come as a stranger into the world, and to be born in great poverty, and
with all the conditions of us poor mortals. Think of God looking down on
Jesus, His Son, living this poor earthly life, here among strangers who
did not recognize His divinity--nay, who became jealous of Him, and
persecuted Him trying to kill him; and at last, after unheard-of
tortures inflicted upon Him, did kill Him. Now, think of God giving up
His Son to endure all this, and watching all this lonely and
misunderstood and persecuted life of His only begotten Son, watching it
and enduring it for thirty-three years, and then ask yourself how much
God sacrificed to show His love for us sinners. Have you a son? If you
have, don't you know how it stings you deeper for a man to mistreat or
strike him than yourself? If a man should beat my little Pearl it would
be harder for me to bear than anything, and yet this is what God endured
for long years to show His love for you and me.

Think of the arrest of Jesus, His being tied, handcuffed, beaten more
than once with fearful lashes, knocked in the face, spit on, and then
nailed with spikes to a cross with thieves, and think of God looking at
all this while it was going on, and you have some idea of what it means
when it says God _gave_ His only begotten Son.

3. And the way to get this friendship of God and profit by this love is
merely to _believe_ with all your heart on Jesus. It is hard to believe
that God loves, really loves, such sinners as you are, and yet I am a
living witness that He does; for I was as bad as any of you, and if God
did not love me and take hold of me and save me, then I don't know what
has happened to me, certain. So you must _believe_ it, even if it is
hard to believe it.

4. But this glad tidings is for you and you and you--for _every one of
you_. It is for _whosoever_, and that means everybody--everybody. A
certain believing man in England said, "I rather it would _be
whosoever_ than to have my name there. For if my name was there, I
could say there might be another man of my name in the world, but when
it says _whosoever, I know it includes me_."

5. It is to save us from _perishing_.

Oh, what an awful word is that, and what an awful thing it must be to
perish. You have a taste of it now in your sins, and their saddening,
darkening, hardening effect on you. You once had tender consciences. You
once loved things and people that were pure and good and true, and you
loved a Christian mother, wife, father or sister; but sin has so
hardened you, that you care for none of these things now. Is it not so?
Well, this is a little taste of what it is to finally and forever

But Christ was given that you might _not perish_. What, can Christ save
me from my hardness of heart, from my black sins, from my uncleanness
and debauchery, and from my awful darkness of mind and conscience?

Yes; He can, glory to His name. I am a living witness. He has saved me.
He can save others like me from all these awful effects of sin, even
after they have lived in it for scores of years, as I did. Yes, and He
saves from that awful _perishing_ which comes after this little, short
life is over, whatever it is. Yes; Jesus can shut and bar the door of
hell, and no soul can enter there who believes in Him and lives for Him.

6. But He not only saves from perishing, He gives them eternal _life_,

What does that mean? Oh, I know not--only I know it means life forever
without death or decay or sickness or pain or sorrow or weakness or
tiredness or parting or fear or anxiety. But what else it means I know
not. This eternal life, this life forever in heaven, I expect--I fully
expect--to get, though I was a poor gambler and swearer and adulterer,
and all that I could be that was sinful, for forty years. Yes; I expect
to get it. I know I am on my way thither, though I am not perfect. Won't
you come and go with us? Oh, won't you come?


     "Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all
     iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of
     good works."

This verse contains a comprehensive statement of the Gospel in few
words. Let us ask God that His Holy Spirit may give us wisdom and
insight to understand and profit by what we are here told.

In the first place, we are told that the ground of our salvation is
through the self-surrender of Himself by Jesus, the Son of God.

We saw, in a passage of Scripture a week or two ago, how great the
condescension of Jesus Christ was. Though He was equal with God, yet He
took upon himself the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a
man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death--the death of the
Cross. Our text now teaches us what this was for. "He gave Himself _for

Now, I will ask you, could God show His concern for us in a more
striking and convincing way than in the _giving_ of His Son to ignominy
and death? Could Jesus, the Son of God, show His love for men in any
more convincing way than in _giving Himself_ for their recovery and
salvation? Then, surely we ought to lay aside our habitual way of
thinking of God as our enemy, and think of Him as our best friend. For
no human friend ever did for us what God has done for us. And if we
judge of one's love for us by the sacrifices he makes for us, then must
we give the crown to Jesus, who was God manifest in the flesh. He bore
our sins; He would bear our burdens, if we would throw them on Him; He
would fill us with His spirit, and with power, if we would trust Him and
believe His promise.

But did He give Himself for us that we might remain _in sin_, and yet
not be punished? This is what the Universalists say. But no! He gave
Himself for us that He might redeem us _from_ iniquity, and from _all_
iniquity at that. He was manifested to deliver us from the _guilt_ of
our past sins; and, second, to deliver us from the dominion and power of
sin, that being free from sin, we might live unto God.

And that man who thinks he has been pardoned for past sins is mistaken,
unless he also has been saved from the _power_ of sin, so as no longer
to be led captive by the devil.

Let not what I say discourage anybody. If you have not been saved from
the power of evil and of evil habits, you may be saved, and that here
and now. The fact is, many of us are so selfish, we just want to be
delivered from the danger, but not from the practice, of sin. Some of us
enjoy sin.

If some who are here could have _all_ desire for liquor utterly taken
away by raising a hand, they would, perhaps, not raise a hand, because
they love liquor too well. If some could be utterly and forever freed
from lust by bowing their heads, they would not be willing to bow their
heads, because they find so much pleasure in lust and in lewd thoughts,
feelings and acts, that they do not _desire_ to be freed from that which
gives them this low, animal pleasure. And yet these same men will
profess to have great desires to be cleansed from their sins. But, if
you are willing, Christ is ready and able to deliver you from all these
base and beastly passions and habits. What do you say? Do you want to
be redeemed from all iniquity to-night?

And when thus delivered from all iniquity, your soul being pure will
desire nothing but to do good, and to bring other poor soiled and
enslaved souls into the same liberty and purity. Since my conversion I
have had no other desire and no other care but to do good and save
others. And that is what the text says: "Zealous of good works."

Now, you who have been saved here, I want to ask you: What are you doing
for others? If you do _not_ abound in good works, and do not try to save
others, it will be difficult or _impossible_ to keep yourself saved.
Jesus said: "Every branch that beareth not fruit He taketh away."--John
XV: 1. And you will find your supply of grace running short and your
faith growing weak and tottering, if you do not make it a point and
business to do good to others--to their bodies and their souls. What do
you say? Has anybody else heard from your lips of your great blessing
and salvation? Do you tell your family and your friends about it? Do you
tell others of their sins and their danger? Do you pray for others? Do
you give your time (part of it at least) and your money in doing good to
others? If you do, you will find your own cup gets fuller, your own
faith stronger, your own heart more joyful. It is God's law and God's
plan that you should give out to others. In so doing He will increase
your own supply. Do you feel your weakness? It is right you should do
so. But do the work, speak the word, and leave it to God who giveth the
increase, and it shall abound to the salvation of others, the joy of
your heart, and the glory of His blessed name.


     "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while
     He is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way and let him
     return unto the Lord and He will abundantly pardon."

If a father were to write a letter to a dissipated and rebellious son,
far away from home, to persuade him to return, and to assure him of a
cordial welcome, he could hardly fill it fuller of expressions of
tenderness and love, expressions to inspire confidence, than the Bible
is of such expressions from the great God. This chapter contains an
invitation to seek God, and a precious promise of forgiveness to any who
will do so.

1. _Seek_ ye the Lord.

Now, you know what it means when it says _seek_. You know what it means
when a man says he is seeking employment. He goes from place to place,
from man to man, and he does this from day to day, and from week to week
if he does not succeed; and the reason is, there is a _necessity_ upon
him. He _must_ have employment, or himself and family are without bread,
without clothing, without shelter. So when we talk about a man seeking
the Lord, we mean that he searches diligently for Him, and from day to
day, and from week to week, because there is something worse than
starvation to suffer if he does not find God. I tell you when a man has
soul-hunger, it is worse than body-hunger if he does not find God. When
a man is sick of sin and feels his loneliness and orphanage, and that he
is without God and without hope in the world, and that he dare not go
into eternity in his condition of guilt and uncleanness, it is more
fearful than hunger of the body, and it will make him seek for God with
all his soul.

_How_ am I to seek God? you say. Well, seek Him by prayer. "Call upon
Him," as the text says. "Ask and it shall be given you." Go off to
yourself. Shut out everybody. Be entirely alone. Then get down upon your
knees and call upon God. Plead His promises. Tell Him you have heard
that He receives and saves sinners, and that you are a sinner, and that
you do not mean to let Him go until He blesses you.

Seek Him by reading good, religious books and papers, and especially the
Bible; and don't read any other sort of reading unless it is necessary
till you find Him. Keep your mind on God all the time.

Seek Him by going with good, Christian people, pious, godly men and
women who walk with God, no matter what their name or denomination may
be. If you say you don't know where to find such, come to our Mission
rooms, to the Walnut-street church, to all our meetings, preaching,
prayer-meeting, Sunday-school, class-meetings, ask us questions, use us
in any way we can help you to find God.

Seeking Him by putting out of the way those things which are
_hindrances_. The text refers to this. It says, "Let the wicked forsake
his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts and thus let him return
unto God."

The forsaking of sin is the main feature of what we call _repentance_.

You can not come to God unless you come giving up your sins entirely or
crying to God for help to give them up.

You can, by God's grace, give up all your sins and all your sinful and
slavish habits. A proof of this is my own deliverance from evil habits,
as whisky, tobacco and evil passions, as lewdness, licentiousness.

1. You must give up sin. You can not expect to retain it and please God
or serve God. Do not question this. You must give up sin. There is no
escape. Turn away from it with all your heart and soul.

2. You must give up _all_ sin, your besetting sin, the sin that has the
most power over you.

3. Give up all sin _now_.

Do not wait. God will help you. You know not that you will be living
to-morrow or next Sunday; and if you are, it will not be any easier then
than it is to-day. Now is the day of salvation.

4. Give up all sin, give it up _now_, and give it up _forever_. You can
not give it up for awhile and then turn to it again. That will do you no
good. You might as well not give it up at all as to turn back to it

And look to God for help, for present help, for all-sufficient strength.

Tell Him by His help you mean to be His, no matter what it costs; and
believe on Jesus Christ, His Son, as the bearer of your past sins and
the giver of the Holy Spirit, and very soon you will be happier than the
men who own these hotels and business houses and Broadway palaces and
hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yes; you will. I know from my
experience and that of others.

My text says, God will have mercy on you and will _abundantly_ pardon


LUKE VIII: 5-15.

Jesus may have seen a farmer sowing seed, and, directing the attention
of the people to him, uttered this parable. He took the commonest and
most familiar facts and occurrences and made them the means of
expressing the great truths of His kingdom. So His ministers should try
to do now--teach the truth of God in language easily understood by the
men addressed.

He divides the hearers of the word into four classes: be ready then to
decide in which class _you_ are, for you are certainly in one.

1. The seed which fell on the hard beaten path is the word preached to
men who do not receive any impression at all from hearing it.

They have forgotten it by the time the sound of the preacher's voice has
died away. It does not enter their minds and produce any _thought_; nor
their hearts, and produce any _feeling_.

Are there not thousands of people who go to church, who hear preaching
constantly, and yet it produces no effect? They are no better, and _they
do not try to be_.

But in the twelfth verse we find who is the cause of this astonishing
indifference and hardness--it is the _devil_ who causes them at once and
forever to forget all that is said "lest they should _believe_ and _be

There is an unseen adversary, then, who keeps us from thinking about
religion all he can. If you do not think about it much, that is a proof
that you are under his influence.

2. The next class consists of those who from impulse become religious
without counting the cost.

They do not stop to reflect that to be godly requires self-denial,
humility, patience, crucifying the flesh with all its lusts. And so,
when temptation comes or trial, they give up in disgust. They are like
Pliable in Bunyan's Pilgrims' Progress--easily persuaded to start on the
way to heaven, but just as easily discouraged and disgusted. There are
lots of such people now. They lack stability.

3. The next class are those who hear, believe, receive and practice the
word of God--who run well for a season, maybe for a _long season_, but
are little by little, and in an unperceived way, drawn away from their
first love, and then on to perdition.

Three things are here mentioned as drawing them gradually away from
their devotion to Christ:

(_a_) _Cares._

They have so much to attend to, they do not _have_ time or _take_ time
for their religious duties, as prayer, going to meetings, etc., and
missing these, they soon grow cold, and they are so occupied and worried
with the multitude of things to be attended to, they have no
_disposition_ for religion. All this care may be about things that are
lawful, as making a living, for example.

(_b_) _Riches._

Oh, how deceitful riches are. We think we don't love them, but let us be
asked to part with them, as Christ asked the young man, and _we see_.
John Wesley said, "As wealth increases, religion decreases," and he was

(_c._) _Pleasure._

The pleasure of fine, rich living, fashionable life, fine dress,
theater-going, balls, parties, flirtations, the admiration and praise of
others etc., etc.

4. The last class are those who _count the cost_, go in with their eyes
open, who _won't_ let cares, riches or pleasures draw them off, but who
work, and serve, and pray with _patience_ even unto the end.


     "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not
     ignorant of his devices."

The New Testament everywhere teaches that there is a personal evil
spirit of wonderful cunning and deep malignity toward God and the human
race. Hence, our conflict is not with flesh and blood; not against our
own inclinations to evil, nor against sin in the abstract, but it is
against the god of this world, the spirit that now worketh in the
children of disobedience.

Therefore, yielding to sin is no small matter, for it is yielding to an
enemy of unfathomable hatred toward us, and of the deepest cunning, who,
in everything, has for his purpose our ruin and God's disappointment,
and who, however lightly he may let his chains lie upon us while we are
led captive by him, at his will, always draws them so tight, when we
attempt to escape from him, that only Almighty God can break them off
and set us free.

It makes a vast difference whether sin is only the indulgence of a
passion which can have no intelligent design to damage and to ruin us,
and which passes away when it is gratified, to trouble us no more, or
whether it is the means adopted by an invisible but awfully real and
hellish foe to lure us to an unforeseen ruin.

Yes, sin is not a mere pleasure whose effects are ended when the
enjoyment is over, but it is the bait that hides the cruel hook thrown
out for us by the artful fisherman of hell. And he is all the more
dangerous because we can not see him and realize always his ultimate

The skillful fisherman keeps himself out of sight and lets the fish see
only the tempting bait, and so the poor, deceived creature is lured by a
harmless looking pleasure on to agony and death.

And Satan not only controls the world, but he continually tempts
Christians; those who have just recently escaped out of his snares and
are on their way to heaven.

And now, what are some of his devices?

1. He makes a grand effort to persuade young Christians that they have
never been converted. He almost invariably attacks them with this
temptation. He sometimes pursues them for years with this fear, that
they have never really experienced a change of heart. And, if he
succeeds in persuading them of this, he has gained a grand point toward
their fall. For to find that one is mistaken in the belief that he has
passed from death unto life, is the most discouraging, disheartening
thing he could experience.

I have known old ministers of the Gospel say that the first thing Satan
ever tempted them with was this suggestion, that they were mistaken in
believing that they had passed through that wonderful change which makes
a sinner an heir of God, and fits him for heaven.

So, my brother, you are in the line of God's true servants if the enemy
has troubled you with this temptation. Don't, therefore, let it
discourage you. And do not, by any means, give up to it. Say to your
tempter that your Lord says he is a liar from the beginning, and that
you can not believe him, but you prefer to believe God.

And the very fact that you are strongly tempted to believe you are not
converted is one proof that you are. For if you were really _not_
converted, but still in the flesh, the devil would tempt you to believe
you _were_ converted, in order to make you rest satisfied and deceived
with your unsaved condition. As he _does_ tempt many worldly-minded
church members to believe they are changed enough to be safe, and so
they rest satisfied in their unsaved condition, and perish.

So, there are many church members who become irreconcilably offended if
you dare to suggest to them that you don't believe they are really
children of God. Their temptation then is to believe the falsehood, that
they are really converted and in a safe condition.

And if a man's temptation is to believe he is _not_ converted, it is one
proof that he _is_ converted.

Besides, if the devil tempts you to believe you are not converted, you
can cut the matter short by saying: "Well, then, I can be in a moment.
For whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life,
and I do here and now believe on Him, and will hold on to Him by faith
in spite of earth and hell." Old Brother Bottomly, a preacher in the
Louisville Conference, was tempted to doubt his conversion the night
after it occurred, as he was lying on his bed. He recognized Satan at
once as the author of his temptation, and he said: "Well, Satan, if I
have not been converted, as you say, I will be." And he got out of his
bed, and down on his knees, and he gave himself to God, and he believed
on Jesus, and prayed, and soon he was rejoicing in full assurance, and
the devil fled away out of hearing with his harassing temptation.

2. He tries to make them believe and feel, after the glow of the first
love has subsided a little, that the service of God is hard and trying,
and that it has nothing in it to satisfy the heart and to compensate for
the pleasure of sin, which they have given up.

And if you begin to yield and to slacken your earnestness or zeal, he
gets a great advantage and you lose the joy of religion by letting
yourself lag away at a doubting distance from Christ, and then it does
seem like the devil is telling the truth, because you don't keep close
enough to Christ and put soul and will enough into His service to get
the joy of it. Christ says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."
And if your heart or your enemy says the contrary, tell them that they
are false.

But don't allow yourself to be tempted to try if you can not find an
easy way to heaven. It will get sweet and easy by a patient and
whole-souled perseverance in it, but _not_ by slackening your
carefulness and experimenting with worldly pleasure to see how far you
can go therein.

3. But his grand scheme for ruining young Christians, and the one he
generally succeeds with, is the suggestion that there is no need of
being so particular and so regular in everything and so rigid in the
performance of duty and in the avoiding of all appearances of evil.

In other words, a sort of reaction comes, and a dangerous thing it often
proves to be. Now, the temptation is to give up the regular and rigid
performance of duty because you don't _feel_ as much like doing it as
you did at first, or because some of your well-meaning, but unrenewed,
friends say they can't see the need of being so particular and strict.
There's no use of going to prayer-meeting every time, no use going to
church twice every Sunday, no use having prayer at home every day, etc.

But if you miss any duty once it will be much easier to miss it the
second time and you will be much more likely to neglect it again. And
you can't afford to take such a dangerous risk in so important a matter.

And then we begin to think that there is no use being so particular
about abstaining from the very beginnings of evil, or else we persuade
ourselves that we have grown so strong and have been so changed we can
be men now and enjoy things in moderation which formerly we could not
use without going to excess.

Ah, brother, you are walking right into one of Satan's unseen traps. O,
beware! For your happiness' sake, beware! for your family's sake,
beware! Satan says, "It's no harm to take a dram if you don't get drunk;
no harm to go to the race track if you don't bet; no harm to go to the
ball-room if you don't dance," etc.

But we know that even in case of a youth who has never been in the habit
of indulging in sins, they have a growing charm and power over him if he
yields once or twice; how much greater the danger for one who has been
the slave of these sins and has only recently broken off from them!

I heard a recently converted man say to a friend who was starting away
on a trip, "Dunc, don't let the devil say to you 'Now, just take one
drink and then stop.' For I tell you, if you take one drink you are
gone." Now, this man understood the case and the danger.

There is no possibility of compromise. No possible middle ground in
these things, especially for us who were once the slaves of our evil

I have heard of a man who _for years_ had abstained from drinking and
his father, thinking he was safe, invited him to drink toddies with him.
The son did so, and he went back to his old habit of drunkenness, had
delirium tremens, forced his wife to get a divorce and brought distress
and disgrace and anguish on his family as well as himself. That was a
Mr. D., who has several times been to our Mission.

So, my brother, though you may think you would be safe to trifle with
sin, and try to practice moderation, it is such an awful, awful risk you
had better not make the experiment. Remember, it is only the bait of
Satan to lure you to certain ruin.

For your sake, for your father's sake, for your mother's sake, for your
wife's sake, for your children's sake, for Christ's sake, don't do it.


PSALM I: 1-2.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and hence it is profitable
for instruction and assistance to those who will attentively consider
it. This Psalm is a part of the Scripture, and we may expect to find it
instructive and helpful. It contains a description of the righteous man.

1. It tells what he does _not_ do. He does not walk in the counsel of
the ungodly. This is the beginning of an evil life--to go among those
who are ungodly and to listen to their opinions and views and counsels.
There is no sin, our evil hearts suggest to us, in merely going with
worldly people, if we do not pattern after their ways and do as they do.
We can go with them and yet not do as they do. But the history, the sad
history, of many a struggling soul, shows that this is a great mistake.
We can't go with bad associates and not be harmed by them. The very fact
that we want to go with wicked people shows that there is in us an
inclination toward sin which is dangerous, and which ought to be
severely watched and kept down rather than encouraged. More men have
been ruined by their associations than by any other one cause. And let
me say by way of warning that if any of you, my friends, are purposing
and trying to lead a new life, you will have to give up the associations
of your old life and choose new ones, as I had to do, and did do.

But did you observe the word _walk_ here in this verse? That word is
intended to show that in the first part of a sinful life there is
restlessness and uneasiness. The man who is just beginning to sin
against light and conscience and God is uneasy about it. He can not be
still. It is something new and strange, and his conscience rises up
against his conduct; and till he goes on to the deadening of his
conscience, it gives him distress and anxiety.

But it says, the good man does not "stand in the way of sinners." This
is the second stage. When a man passes through the first stage and gets
to this second one, then he not only listens to the conversation and
counsel of those who are ungodly--that is, who make no professions of
religion--but he goes now with open _sinners, in the way_ with evil
doers, violators of law, criminals against God and man. And now observe
he takes a "_stand_." It is no longer "walk," for the restlessness and
uneasiness have about passed away, and he takes a deliberate _stand_
among wicked men, who do not fear to commit any sort of crime. And, my
young friend, this is always the way with sin. It grows upon a man; and
before he is aware of it, he has grown fond of it, sees no evil or
danger in it, and deliberately chooses it as his course of life. Beware,
then, of _beginning_ in the way of evil.

But it says, in the third place, that he does not "sit in the seat of
the scornful." Ah, here we have the third stage of the downward course
of sin. First, there was a restlessness in even associating with ungodly
people; second, a deliberate stand among sinners, evil doers, as one of
their number; and now it is _sitting down_ in the seat of the
_scornful_. When men have silenced the voice of conscience, and spent
years in the practice of evil, they come at last to lose faith in
everything--in God, in man, in virtue, in goodness; and they become cold
and sneering scorners of everything that is called good. Have you not
known men who have gone through this downward road? Nay, do you not know
now some who are traveling this ruinous pathway? I have known young men
to go among gamblers just to _look on_. They would have _feared_ to
touch the implements of sin, but they became familiarized with the
sight, and then took part; and from bad to worse, have gone on and on,
till it makes me shudder to know what they are to-day. I tell you, my
friends, the course of sin is down, down, down. You may as soon expect
to get in a boat on the current of Niagara above the falls and stand
still, as to expect that you can launch yourself on the current of sin
and not go down toward swift and certain ruin. Beware then! Hear the
voice of warning before you have gone too far ever to return.

2. In the next place, this Psalm tells what a _good_ man does. His
delight is in the law of the Lord. He is satisfied that in sin there is
only ruin; and turning with fear and dread away from sin, he yearns to
find God, who alone can deliver him from sin and keep him from it and
furnish him a satisfying portion instead of it.

But where can we find God, and how? Not in nature; for there is nothing
clear enough in nature to teach anything about God or how to come to
His presence. But he can expect to find God in that revelation which God
has made of Himself in His word. So he goes to that, and he finds there
encouragement and instruction and tender invitations and promises of
mercy and help; and the more he seeks the more he finds to draw him on,
to satisfy his yearning heart and to charm his poor soul away from the
love of sin. As he practices what he finds in God's word, he realizes
the blessedness of it. It brings peace, purity, deliverance from
darkness, uncertainty and fear; and so he longs to know more and more of
it and he studies into it. Do you know that to one whose heart is
changed the word of God is like a whole California of gold mines? He is
_always_ finding treasures there. Every time he reads it there is
something new and rich and blessed. The deepest and most devout students
of God's word say that there is no end to its wealth of instruction and
consolation. If you want to know God and His salvation, you ought to set
apart a certain time _every day_ to prayerfully read and study into His
word, always asking His guidance and help.

And it will soon come to pass that, as the text says, you will
"_delight_ in the law of God." Do you ever deliberately, carefully,
studiously, humbly and prayerfully read the Bible? You say, "No." Then
how can you expect to know anything of God? How can a physician know
anything of the nature of the human body unless he studies into it? And
how can you know anything of God and His wonderful mercy unless you go
and search where God has revealed this for man? There are some men who
will not read the Bible because they can't understand it. Of course they
can't understand it all, but, if they can understand one verse in a
chapter, let them take that and study on it and believe it, and keep
reading, and soon more and more will open out to their understanding,
and it will be a constant surprise and delight to find the undreamed-of
beauties and comforts of the word of God. Promise God now that you will
_patiently_ read some every day. You will then find your desire for sin
and sinful associations leaving you.

PSALM I: 3-6.

We propose to-day a continuance of the study of the first Psalm, which
we begun Sunday last. Then we saw the downward course of sin and of the
sinner, and of the great transformation of the nature of men when they
are converted or become righteous.

And now the inspired writer goes on to speak of the fruitfulness of such
men. "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that
bringeth forth its fruit in its season." You know a tree planted by a
river draws moisture from below, and does not depend on the uncertain
rains that may or may not come. And so in time of drought it shall bear
its fruit at its proper season.

So the man who is born of God, whose nature is transformed and made
holy, is fruitful in good deeds, in benevolent works. Having himself
been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the light, he has a
desire, a strong desire, an unquenchable desire, that all others should
know the same happiness, and he works by all means to persuade them, to
get their good will and their confidence. He will feed and clothe them,
take them up out of filth and rags and reclothe them and befriend them
(as we are trying to do at the Mission) in order to get their good will
and direct them to Christ.

Not only so, but when a man has truly the Spirit of God, he has an
inexpressible pity for his poor brother mortals, and a tender sympathy
for their sufferings and sorrows. His heart is a fountain of compassion
for those who are in distress; and this leads him to labor that he may
in some way, and in all possible ways, bring them relief and comfort.

And, as the tree on the river is supplied with moisture from an unseen
source, and without the showers, so the man whose heart is in communion
with God never suffers a drought. When the benevolence of worldly men
fails, his goes on and never fails. Men wonder that he does not get
tired or grow weary or disappointed and discouraged. But no! he never
does. His zeal not depending on changing influences from without, but
supplied from an unseen and never-failing source--that is, God--never
gives out. So he is always bearing fruit. Other men may be cold and
selfish, and panics and famines may shut up their feelings of sympathy,
but the man of God goes on working and bearing fruit in panics and
famines, in cold and hot, in wet and dry, in plenty or in poverty,
always and ever.

"_The ungodly are not so._" No; the ungodly greedily devour all they can
get, and crave all they can't get. They want selfish pleasure no matter
what sacrifice or pain it may cost others. They want the property of
other people, though it leave a widow in poverty and orphans in want.
They want honor and promotion and fame, if it be built on the downfall
of their neighbors and fellows. They want the passing animal pleasure of
licentiousness, if it blight the life and ruin the soul of an innocent
being and turn a happy home into a very hell of anguish. Self! Self!
Self! always and ever! and if there be some semblance of benevolence, it
is for the higher selfishness of getting the honor that men bestow on
charity, or to appease an angry and tormenting conscience, that lashes
them with fury for their misdeeds done in secret.

"The ungodly are like the chaff." They have no stability, no
steadfastness, no fixed purpose or plan in life--nothing to tie to; and
so they are the victims of circumstances and changes and moods and
tempers, and are driven hither and thither by every passing breeze.

How I do pity the poor man who does not know or care what he is living
for, and just pursues every day what _happens_ to take his mind for that

And because the ungodly are not steadfast and fixed in their devotion to
God, neither shall they be able to _stand_ in the _judgment_.

Then, there is a judgment coming, is there? Oh, yes! All these things
that men are doing are not done and then put away forever and forgotten.
No! no! no! they are all to be brought into review again and exposed
before God and all men assembled in judgment. All the midnight meanness
you have done will then be brought to light. Where were you last night?
What were you doing?

How would you like for me to tell right here before all this crowd all
the mean and filthy things you have done in the last week and kept them
hidden from father, mother, wife, children and every other mortal except
the accomplices of your guilt and shame? Ah! you could not _stand_; no,
you could not _stand_.

Then, how do you expect to stand when God is reciting to you all the
misdoings of all the midnights of your whole lives before your father,
mother, sisters, wife, neighbors and all the world?



     "But God commendeth His love for us in that while we were yet
     sinners, Christ died for us."

There are many of us who _feel_ that we are _sinners_, who know it, and
who do not want any proof of it; but we can't be persuaded to believe
that God has any love for us or interest in us. We have gotten to be
such wicked sinners that maybe our friends have forsaken us, and we can
not believe that God has any feeling of tenderness for us. We are
willing to admit that God loves good people, those who are obedient, and
that if _we_ were good, He would _then_ love us; but as it is, He can
not love us, and there is no reason why He should love us. And then we
go back and try to call up all our sins; all the times when we rejected
Christ and the truth, and we find plenty of arguments to prove that God
does not love us.

But stop! You are judging the great God by yourself. You know you would
not love one who would have treated you as you have treated God, and so
you conclude He does not love you. You find it _exceedingly_ hard to
believe in the love of God. This is one of the sad effects of sin. It
darkens our hearts and separates us far, far from God, so that when we
come to feel our need of Him we have no confidence that He will accept
us or help us.

Besides, by your long service of sin, you have put yourself in the power
of an enemy who makes it as difficult as possible for you to _believe_
in God's love for you.

But I come to you to-day with a declaration and assurance from God's own
word, that though you have been a sinner all your life, and still feel
that you are the greatest of sinners, the great God loves you with a
true, deep, warm and yearning love.

The great proof of it is the life and death of Jesus Christ, His Son.

Have you read about it in the Gospel?

Ah, if you had, and had seen Him delighting to be with the poor and the
outcast, eating with them, choosing them for His friends, speaking words
of heavenly cheer to them, pronouncing their sins forgiven and promising
them heaven, then you would be moved and attracted and convinced. And
then if you had read the pathetic story of His awful sufferings and
death, and had reflected that "He was wounded for our transgressions; He
was bruised for our iniquities; all we like sheep have gone astray, and
the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us _all_," then hope would
begin to dawn in your breast, and faith in His love would not be so
difficult. But you have neglected to read and reflect about it, and so I
am come to bring the glad tidings to you where you are, and to beg you
to believe it for your own sake.

And now, here are some of the ways God has taken to tell you of His
love: Psalm ciii., 13; Isaiah xlix., 15; Luke xi., 13; Luke xviii., 13,
14; Luke xv., 7, 10; Prodigal Son; Luke vii., 36 to end.

"I came not to call the righteous but _sinners_ to repentance."

Why does God, in so many ways, express His love for sinners?

Because He wants to touch their hearts and melt them by tenderness.

A father whose son had gone away to California, and was a gambler in San
Francisco, sent him word by a friend: "Your father loves you still." And
it made him ashamed; it broke his heart; he repented, returned home and
was saved.

So God sends me to-day to say to you: "Your Father loves you still."
Will you not believe it and come to Him for safety? He will not abuse
you for your sins; He will save you from your sins, and make you as
happy as you were when you were little children at your mother's knee.

You know it is true that parents are more troubled about a wandering
boy, and take more pains with him than with the good boys, and think
more about him and pray more for him, because he is in danger and must
be rescued or perish. So it is with God. Because you are lost, away from
Him, on the road to ruin, He sends after you and He begs you to be



     "But godliness is profitable unto all things having the promise
     of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

There are not many who think this. Nearly everybody admits that religion
is a good thing to have when he is about to die and to enter upon the
future life; and all men, however hardened in vice, wickedness and
crime, have a sure expectation and firm intention of making some
preparation for death and what may follow death. They fully intend to
make amends to conscience for the violations of it, of which they have
been guilty.

There are men here to-day who know that this is true of themselves, who
feel that the coffin and the grave and the unknown future beyond are the
most fearful of realities, and who are firmly persuaded that a day of
reckoning is coming, maybe slowly, but surely, and they do mean to make
peace in some way with conscience before that time draws near. And so I
say all men agree that religion is good for death and what is to follow;
but how it can be an advantage to one in _this life_, they can not see.

1. But godliness is a help to a man in making a living.

If a man is honest, industrious, faithful and conscientious, he will be
in demand. Such men are always in demand; and, when they are known, can
get employment and can keep employment; but a man who is a true
Christian, _is_ honest, industrious, careful, temperate, trustworthy and
conscientious, because he works and lives not to please men but God.
Hence, such a one is always wanted. Employers, rather than give up such
men, will increase their salaries and offer them extra inducements. A
Main-street merchant found he could not do without Willie Holcombe
conveniently, so he raised his salary twenty dollars a month rather than
lose him.

And, even if they are among strangers, and not known, yet God will turn
the hearts of strangers toward them, as he turned the heart of the
prison-keeper in Egypt toward Joseph. And when they have a chance to
_try_ and to show their value, their employers will not give them up.

But then if a man is in business for himself, he will get a large custom
if people find out that he does business as a Christian--that is, he
does not charge an unjust and exorbitant price, his goods are only what
he says they are, he gives full and honest measure, his word can be
trusted, he will correct mistakes and take back an article if it is
found not to be good. Show people such a man and they will all want to
patronize him. William Kendrick was such a man here in Louisville.

The Christian man has the _promise of God_ that he shall be provided
for--Matthew vi.: 32, 33--while the godless man has no such assurances
at all.

2. But religion keeps a man from those vices which destroy the
health--as dissipation, debauchery, intemperance, etc.--and health is
one of the chief elements in human happiness.

3. Religion keeps men also from those crimes which bring men into ruin
and disgrace and bitter remorse.

Many a man has come to the jail or penitentiary or gallows who would
have escaped it all if he had had religion to protect and shield and
restrain and assist him. And many a good and happy man there is who
might have been a guilty criminal and a wretched convict but for the
grace of God and the lessons and blessings of true religion. He might
gradually have been led off and on and on till he would have become
capable of committing any crime.

I might have been a drunkard or a murderer still, if God had not changed
my heart and helped me mightily and constantly by His grace.

4. But religion takes away the fear of death and the dread of the future
and gives inward and constant peace--a heart happiness which poverty and
disappointment and trials can not destroy. And nothing else can do this
but true religion.

5. Religion can release a man from the power of those evil habits which
make a man's life miserable--from acquired appetites, as drinking, opium
eating, debauchery, licentiousness, swearing, gambling and even from

6. Religion makes a good father, a good mother, a good husband, a good
wife, good children, it makes the family happy, and the home bright,
cheerful, joyous.

7. It makes a man a good citizen. So he can get along in peace with his
neighbors and even become a peace-maker among them when they quarrel.

Thus have I tried to show you that, regardless of the future, godliness
is profitable for this life. But if this were not so, if the life of a
Christian were an uninterrupted experience of pains and disappointments
and sorrows, yet, in view of the interests of the soul, and the
possibilities of the future, and the length of eternity, it would be the
highest wisdom to cheerfully accept all these and endure them to the
bitter end, in order to depart out of this world with a peaceful and
unaccusing conscience and a sure preparation for heaven.

O man, what will you do with eternity, _eternity_, if you go thither
unprepared? Did you ever try to think of eternity? As John Wesley says,
"If a bird were to come once in a million of years and take away one
grain of the earth, when it had taken the whole earth away, that would
not be eternity, nor the beginning of eternity." And it is certain that
eternity is the period of the desolation and confusion and remorse and
suffering of the lost.

8. But even if we had to live in misery all this life, it would be
better to do it and have religion; for it alone fits us for happiness in
the life to come.

Take away property, comforts, friends, family, reputation, health, but
give me religion, and I shall have a passport into the kingdom of heaven
and an eternity of rest and blessedness.

O then, come to Jesus Christ and have all these things and heaven


     "The way of transgressors is hard."

Our friend's career affords a striking example of the truth of the text.
Most people do not think the text is true. But the Bible reverses nearly
all of our notions about things, and when, in the light of experience
and honest thought, we come to examine the Bible, we find it contains
the truth on all subjects. The natural effects of a life of sin are
injurious and destructive in every particular.

1. In the first place, vice destroys health. If a man indulges in
gluttony, he brings on dyspepsia with its accompanying pains and
distress and torture. All this is increased by a life of idleness,
laziness and inactivity. If he indulges in intemperance, he soon becomes
a wretched slave, and is consumed by inward fires till delirium tremens
ends the miserable career. If he indulges in sensuality, he is likely to
contract loathsome and painful diseases--diseases which make life a
burden that can hardly be borne; diseases which poison the blood and can
not, by any art or remedy, be expelled from the system, but which are
transmitted to the innocent offspring, if there be any.

2. It brings disgrace and drives away friends who would otherwise rally
around and help. This poor man spent two terms in the penitentiary, lost
all his friends, and had to go to a _hospital_ to die!

3. In destroying one's good name and alienating one's friends, it
becomes the cause of poverty and want.

4. It destroys the happiness of families, and in this way adds to the
wretchedness of the one who does all this mischief and damage.

5. It often produces insanity.

6. It produces remorse, uneasiness of mind, shame, hatred of self.

7. It is what makes men shudder and shiver like convicts under the
gallows, when they think of death and come near death. My own fear of
death was something terrible.

     "The sting of death is sin."

8. But this fear of death, this awful lashing of conscience on the verge
of the grave, is but the intimation and the beginning of those awful
experiences in the future world which the Bible describes in words of
such dark and fearful import.

But there is a remedy for sin, there is a fountain opened in the house
of King David for sin and uncleanness. Yes

    "There is a fountain filled with blood
    Drawn from Immanuel's veins,
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood
    Lose all their guilty stains.

    "The dying thief rejoiced to see
    That fountain in his day,
    And there may _you_, though vile as he,
    Wash all your sins away."

And beside that, when He gives salvation from the guilt of sin, He
sends, also, the power to keep you from sin in the future. It is a full
salvation and a _free_ salvation.

How much better to accept Christ while you are in health and let your
life of holiness and purity and devotion _prove_ that the work is a
genuine work and that you really have been saved. I have almost _no_
faith in death-bed repentances and conversions. Hardly one in a hundred
is genuine. And then there is no way of testing the genuineness of it;
but if you turn to Christ _now_ you can have time and opportunity to
exemplify and manifest the fruits of regeneration in your life. Christ
has power to forgive sins, to give peace and to keep from sin and sinful
habits. An experience of five years on my part enables me to speak
boldly and confidently on this point. God grant some of you may turn to
Him to-day.

     NOTE.--This was delivered at the funeral of some man who died
     unsaved in a hospital. Mr. Holcombe is frequently called on to
     officiate at the funeral of such men, and of gamblers, and of
     strangers and unknown persons.--ED.


     "The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness
     and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

We heard some time ago of the coming of the kingdom of heaven. Christ,
at His coming, brought it near and proclaimed it to the people. At the
time when our text was written, the kingdom had been set up, established
among men, and many, very many, had entered into it. And now, St. Paul,
finding that some of these had fallen into wrong notions as to what
constituted citizenship in that kingdom, corrects these wrong notions,
and sets before them the right and proper notions about the matter.

1. In the first place, he tells them that religion does _not_ consist in
certain things. They had gotten into the notion that they must, as a
matter of great importance, attend to certain outward things. But it is
not so. They thought, as the Jews, from whose nation Jesus, the founder
of the kingdom, arose, observed certain customs as to eating and
drinking and keeping certain seasons and days, they also had to do the
same; and gradually they allowed these outward things to become more
important to them than the inward spiritual life.

So now we (or some of us) have fallen into the notion that religion
consists in certain outward things.

There are those who believe that it consists in connecting one's self
with some certain church, and that the sanctity and virtue of that
church will be imparted to them as members, and they will be saved. But
this is not true.

Again, there are some who believe that some outward ceremony, and
especially that of baptism by the proper authorities and in the proper
mode, will procure salvation, and that it constitutes a man a member of
the kingdom of heaven.

Again, some think their own morality and effort to do and live justly
will give them a place among those who are in the pale of the kingdom,
forgetting that God, Himself, says that the righteousness of us
miserable sinners is but as filthy rags in His sight.

And there are many, very many, who think that if they are decent in
their outward lives and attend the services of the house of God and
contribute to the support of His church, they do all any man can require
of them, and that, therefore, they may claim that they are also
fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household of faith.

But no, none of these outward things can make a man a new creature. He
may comply with any one or all of these, and yet be really a bad man at
heart, a rebel against God and His government. And the fact that there
are many such in the church calling themselves Christians and performing
the outward duties of religion, while those who see them every day and
know their private walk see that they are not really better than many
outsiders, is a great stumbling-block to serious and honest inquirers
outside of the church. We admit it, and we are sorry for it, though, of
course, it is no valid excuse for them, and will not stand in the trying
hour of death or the ordeal of the judgment. But I want to say to you
to-day, no matter who it is, if they have no more than a performance of
outward duties, ceremonies and services, they _are not_ members of the
kingdom of God.

2. But, in the second place, the Apostle does tell us what true religion
consists in, in the latter part of the text. "It is righteousness and
joy and peace in the Holy Ghost."

And, first, it is _righteousness_.

In another place it is said that, "The wisdom that cometh from above is
first _pure_."

The object and aim of the Christian religion is to make men holy. That
is _first_. The righteousness mentioned in the text is put first--before
the joy and peace. And this is what the world demands of people who
profess to be Christians, no less than God's law demands it. The world
has no use or respect for Christians who are not righteous or for a
Christianity that does not make men righteous.

When God comes into a human heart, He comes with power, with the power
of God, and that is greater than all other power, and before it all
opposing forces fall. The sins of men, such as avarice, or love of
money; the lust of the flesh, such as gluttony, licentiousness, the
hatred of fellowmen and the hatred of God, all these are broken and
driven out when the spirit and power of God come in. There is not only
this demand of God, then, for righteousness, but also ample supply of
strength to meet it, and to meet it fully. Come, then, to God, you who
are in bondage to evil habits, and who have striven in vain to deliver
yourselves. You can not retain your evil practices and be a child of
God. His first demand, His imperative demand, is righteousness, and if
you have the _will_ He gives the _grace_ to attain it.

But this is not all. When you believe with your heart in Christ, the
Holy Ghost is given you, and He brings, with the righteousness and
holiness which God requires, also joy and peace. Yes, when you surrender
to Christ, He makes you happy.


     "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will
     give you rest."

1. The cry of all hearts is for rest, for contentment. Not only does the
heart of humanity cry out for rest, rest, rest; their busy and tired
hands and feet _toil_ for it day and night, year in and year out.

It is for this that men labor through the days and weeks of summer's
heat and expose themselves to the severities of winter's cold.

It is for this that they plow and sow and reap and gather into barns.

It is for this that they blow the bellows and swing the heavy hammers
from morn until night.

It is for this they buy and sell and buy again to sell again.

It is for this that men will spend years of toil in schools and
colleges, burning the midnight lamp till the eye is heavy and the brain
is tired.

It is for this that they will leave wife and children to try their
fortunes in some distant California or Australia.

It is for this they will abandon their homes in time of war to brave the
dangers of the battle-field.

It is for this that they will worry away the hours of night in games to
get each other's money.

It is for this they will devise schemes and lay plans to entrap their
fellows, some times going to the length of committing murder.

It is for this that women will toil with the needle and bend over the
sewing machine.

It is for this they will stand for weary hours behind counters measuring
off goods or waiting for customers to buy.

It is for this that they work over the hot stove or wear out their hands
in the wash-tub.

Yes, it is for this that some of them, weary of work-life, will venture
on the slippery paths of pleasure, turn their thoughts toward the gilded
chambers of licentiousness, sell virtue and abandon home and family to
go in the ways that in the end take hold on death and hell.

We are a race of _toilers_. All over the world it is the same. We see it
here in Louisville, It is work, work, work, go, go, go.

And are we happy? Have we rest?

But not only are we toiling, some in one way, some in another; some by
innocent means, some by wicked means; some by what does no harm to
ourselves or our neighbor, and some by what does harm to both, in order
to obtain rest and happiness; it is also true that most of us are heavy
laden, oppressed and saddened beneath burdens that we can not shake off,
can not get rid of.

Some of us are bowed down under our poverty. No good house to live in,
no comfortable home to turn into after the battles and toils of outside
life, no comfortable shelter for our families. No assurance as to where
we are to get to-morrow's bread. No comfortable and respectable clothes
to wear, and, of course, no friends. For when a poor fellow gets poor
and shabby, his friends drop off and pass by on the other side. No
friends, none of that sympathy and communion of friendship which all
human hearts so crave and which they find to be the best part of what
this life can give.

Yes; some of us have this burden to bear. And then some of us are bowed
down beneath some great sorrow, which may be one thing in one case and
another in another. In some cases it is domestic trouble, continual jars
and broils in the family, no peace, no quiet, no love. Ah, if we could
see into all the homes in this city, I fear we should find in many of
them family trouble of some sort. Or it may be some dear one of yours is
given to drink or to gambling and is wearing out his life as fast as
vice can eat it away, with no hope beyond the grave.

Ah, yes; no doubt some of _you_ are yourselves the slaves of evil habits
which you hate and would do anything to break off. You have tried by
resolving and promising and all to no purpose; you have felt ashamed and
degraded because you had no power to do what you felt you ought to do
and what you knew would be infinitely better for you.

Do you not know men who would willingly give a right arm for deliverance
from some degrading and ruinous habit? But giving a right arm avails
nothing, nor any human effort or means.

Then, again, some of you are bowed down by the recollection of your past
life and its dissipation and crimes.

You may have mistreated father, mother, sister, and may have broken
hearts by your cruelty that would gladly have bled for you. You may have
crushed a loving and faithful wife by your selfishness and your
brutality and heartlessness. You may have driven your children to
desperation and crime by your coldness and hardness to them.

And may be some life, innocent until you came upon it with your hellish
art, has been corrupted and embittered and darkened by your base
passions and lusts.

May be your hands have gone to that last extreme of human crime and have
deprived a fellowman of life. And, oh, if any of these things be true,
what must be the burden of remorse, remorse, remorse, that weighs upon
your heart.

But you are the very ones whom Jesus addresses and invites in this
tender appeal. Do you believe it?

2. In the second place, consider who it is that offers you rest. It is
one who knows you and who knows what you need and one who has all power
in heaven and in earth to give what you need.

3. Lastly, consider what this rest means which Jesus offers to you
burdened and toiling ones.

1. It is rest from sin, both its guilt and power.

2. It is rest from all care. For He has said, we should cast all our
care upon Him because He cares for us.


     "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of

These words, as you know, are the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount
as it is called. This Sermon on the Mount is the full exposition of the
character of those who are members of Christ's kingdom. It is one of the
most important parts of the Bible. At the time of Christ there were in
the world many teachers and many schools of philosophy all trying to
find what was best for men; or, thinking they had found it, were
teaching their views to others. But, of course, none of them knew the
truth and nearly every one taught a different thing from the others.
There was no certainty. It all seemed like guess-work, and while the
philosophers were guessing at what was best for men or trying to prove
the views of each other to be false, the poor people were perishing in
uncertainty and ignorance. But into this age of uncertainty and darkness
and hunger, there came a Teacher from God Himself, who knew all things
and who could without arguing or guessing tell with authority the simple
and certain truth. What then does the Teacher say? He does not say that
blessedness consists in any certain kind or degree of _knowledge_ but in
the _disposition_ of the _mind and heart_.

Listen then and hear and be prepared to believe and accept with all your
heart what this Instructor from God says. Remember He makes no mistakes.
He knows the end from the beginning. He knows eternity as well as time.
He knows the future as well as the past and present. He knows God as
well as He knows man. He has been all through eternity and knows the
nature and purposes of God. He then is competent to say what is good for
man, what is best for man. Will you hear it? And, having heard it, will
you believe it? "Blessed"--ah, what a sweet word to begin with!
"Blessed." But who are blessed? It may be blessed are the great or the
powerful or the good and some of us are sadly conscious that we are not
great or good. But no, troubled heart, poor fearing heart, it is for
you. "Blessed are the poor in spirit." That is what the Divine Teacher
says. He brings it right down and home to your poor heart and leaves
blessedness at your very door.

And what is it to be poor in spirit? No doubt some of you poor sinners
are ready to say "I know what it is, for I am so wretchedly poor that I
feel unworthy to set my polluted foot down anywhere in God's universe."
Yes, that is it--you are dissatisfied with yourself, disgusted with
yourself, weary of yourself; and you know you can not make your
condition any better, for you have tried it and failed till you are
heart-sick and hopeless. You are satisfied that neither your education,
nor your wisdom, nor your shrewdness, nor your money, if you have any,
nor your family, nor your friends, nor your strength, nor your will, nor
all these put together and multiplied a thousand times can deliver you
from soul-bondage and soul-darkness and satisfy your aching and breaking
heart. Is that your feeling, my brother? Then you are the one I am
talking to; nay, you are the one my Divine Master is talking to. But
God said the same thing in other words away back yonder one thousand
years before Jesus came to earth. Read it in Psalm xxxiv: 18: "The Lord
is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart and saveth such as be of a
contrite spirit." Have your sins broken your heart? Does the
recollection of them cast down your spirit? You are not far from the
kingdom of God then. Only believe on Jesus Christ who was not only
Divine Teacher but also sin-bearer, and see God's willingness to save
sinners, in the scene enacted on Calvary's trembling summit. What did
Jesus suffer for if not for you and your sins? Say, what for, if not for
you and all sinners? Answer that question. Do not turn it away or put it
off but _answer_ it.

Did I say you were not far from the kingdom of heaven? My text says, if
you have the spirit I have described that "yours is, _is now_, the
kingdom of heaven." Read it again. Will you believe it?

Oh, are you afraid to venture? Is it too good to be true? Well, I tell
you I ventured and that with forty-two years of sin and crime on my
heart to press me down and keep me back. Yes; I ventured and I found
_such a welcome_ that I was constrained in the joy of my heart to give
up all other employment and spend my whole time and energy in telling of
it to others who are in the condition I was in.

But if there are any here who are satisfied with themselves, who do not
feel their need of help and cleansing and deliverance, then this message
of comfort is not for you. If you think you know enough about eternity
to risk going into it as you are, if you think you know enough about
God to meet him as you are, then we have no message of consolation for
you. It is not because we do not want you to have a message of
consolation and salvation, but because _you_ do not want it.

It is said in one place that the "Word of God is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart." And now I am sure this text of ours
has to-night found you out and shown you to yourself. Where do you
stand? And even if you are persuaded, the suggestion to put it off till
to-morrow or next week will knock it all in the head.


     "4. Blessed _are_ they that mourn; for they shall be

     "5. Blessed _are_ the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."

Our talk to-night follows right along in the line of the one preceding.
We shall continue to speak of that wonderful address of Jesus which is
called the Sermon on the Mount and which we began to speak of before. We
were speaking of those who are poor in spirit and tried to describe
such. Now we go on and we find the next words of Jesus, the Divine
Teacher, just suited to those who are poor in spirit, who are
dissatisfied with themselves and their condition, and who are wretched
because they have not the grace and favor of God, and who, as the Psalm
says, have a "broken heart and a contrite spirit." (Psalm xxxiv., 18.)
And what are these comforting words of Jesus? "Blessed are they that
_mourn_, for they shall be _comforted_." Of course, those who are poor
in spirit and broken in heart _will mourn_. They are comfortless and
they will mourn for comfort. They are in darkness and they will mourn
for light. They are in sin and under condemnation and they will mourn
till the power of sin is destroyed and they are set free and until the
voice of forgiving love assures them that there is henceforth nothing
against them. Ah, yes, when a man is under conviction for sin he is,
above all men, a mourner. There is hardly any sorrow that strikes deeper
or any suspense that is more intense or awful.

But is there no one here who knows all about this, not because they have
heard me describe it, but because they have felt it and groaned under it
or, may be, _are_ doing so now?

Well, let me assure you, on the authority of Jesus, there is comfort for
you as surely as Jesus will not lie. Does He say "Cursed are they who
mourn?" Or "To be pitied are they that mourn?" No, He says, "_Blessed_
are they."

There, now, you are already comforted a little bit, are you not?

But what is the rest of this sentence of Jesus? "For they _shall_ be
comforted." And, indeed, the fact that you _mourn_ for a better
condition and a better life and for God, is itself a ground for you to
surely expect comfort. For only God's spirit could make you dissatisfied
with yourself, tired of your sins and eager to find God.

And if He began the work He will carry it on to completion, assuredly,
if you do not hinder him by your turning back to sin or going with the
vicious or refusing to have faith in Jesus as Saviour.

And the next verse comes right along to fill out the one we are
considering. "Blessed are the _meek_."

If a man is truly poor in spirit, mourning because of his sins and his
ignorance of God and his insecurity in view of death, then he will not
be egotistic and ambitious and greedy of praise and pompous and
self-sufficient and disposed to stand on _his honor_ and his rights. But
he will have the opposite feelings exactly.

He feels his unworthiness so deeply and keenly that he is willing to
give up his own rights and to prefer others before himself. And Jesus
adds, "the meek shall inherit the earth."

A man who has this spirit of humility, deep consciousness of his
unworthiness and a disposition to bear all things rather than be
contentious, will win everybody and they will want to give up to him.

You have perhaps read of the man who went to his neighbor to claim a
piece of ground in his possession, and, contrary to his expectation,
that neighbor said, "Well, then, if it is yours, I will not have a
strife about it. I will move in my fence and let you have it." This
gentle answer and this meek spirit made the other man so ashamed and so
completely melted and won him that he said he would not take the land,
and he went back home leaving it as it was.

And so if you have this meek and yielding spirit, and this patient and
forgiving spirit, you will make even your enemies to be at peace with
you. But this meekness of spirit includes, also, cheerful submission to
all the hard and disappointing and trying experiences of life, and
perfect contentment with one's lot.

A man who is always sour and bitter because things don't go to suit him
is the opposite of a _meek_ man. And one of the loveliest and most
attractive and winning qualities of human character is this unfailing
resignation, this _cheerful_ acceptance of all that comes upon us. If
the church were full of people of this description, they would soon win
the world, and, as Jesus said, they would "inherit the earth."

Now, let me ask, have we all who profess to be Christians this meek
spirit and character? Are we gentle and cheerful at home and abroad,
when we are disappointed as well as when we are gratified, when we are
treated with ingratitude and injury as well as when we are treated with
kindness, consideration and honor? Or are we crabbed and cross and
discontented and complaining against those who cross our wills and
against the lot that God has given to us in life? If we are of this last
sort we shall not draw many to Jesus and to the acceptance of our
religion. You can't catch flies with vinegar.

How disposed are we to lay our crossness and roughness to the charge of
our health, our dyspepsia or neuralgia or nervousness. But it would be
all the _more convincing_ to men if, _in the midst_ of bad health and
nervousness, we should have a meek, quiet, patient, bright and cheerful

And if you haven't it, the way to get it is to be filled with God's
spirit, and the way to do that is to pray, to commune with God in
secret, to patiently wait for Him, as David did (Psalms xl, 1), and to
be with Him so much that He shall become more real to you than the
objects of sight and sound and feeling that surround you.


     "Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt hath lost its
     savor wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for
     nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of

Jesus takes the most familiar facts and objects to convey the truths and
doctrines which He wished to communicate. Here he uses for illustration
an object, with the properties and uses of which everybody is
familiar--namely, salt. It is good to prevent corruption and to preserve
life. Without it life could not continue. I have heard of a party of
travelers whose supply of salt almost gave out; and not having enough
for themselves and their horses, the horses grew weak, would stagger,
and finally fall and die, though they had food for them. Yet the lack of
salt could not be supplied by any amount of food.

So it is with Christianity. It prevents corruption, moral corruption, in
the individual, and so prevents social corruption, political corruption,
national corruption, and is the means of purification in all these
respects. But it not only prevents corruption, it imparts spiritual life
and vigor and sends its possessors on their way filled with an energy
that goes out after others.

Christianity is suited to be the salt of the earth. It demands a perfect
morality, a perfect righteousness, and offers the highest motives to men
to attain this. It teaches, with assurance, that there is a righteous
God who demands holiness on our part, and, at the same time, it
encourages men and inspires them with hope because it declares that
this God loves men, as sinners, and so it gets hold of men by the heart.

If man will only compare those nations that are Christian with those
that are not, he will find out what a difference there is.

But the text refers to the holy lives of Christians as being the salt of
the earth.

The savor of Christians is an unction from the spirit of God that
produces purity, humility, patience, long-suffering, self-denial,
tenderness, sympathy and unselfish love.

And when men see a person whose daily life presents all these beauties,
they are forced to pause and regard it. It is such an unnatural and such
an unearthly thing that they can not help it. And it is far more
convincing and eloquent than all logic and rhetoric put together. There
is no way of getting around it. Men know that a gifted orator can dress
things up so as to make any cause seem a fair and plausible one, but men
know also that neither a gifted orator nor any one less than God can
make men humble, pure, patient, gentle, long-suffering, unselfish and
glad to spend and be spent for others than themselves.

When men see such a life, they seek to know how it is realized, and
finding that Christianity has done it, that faith in Jesus has done it,
they are constrained to say: "We know that Christianity is from God. For
nothing could do such wonderful miracles except God be in it," as
Nicodemus said to Jesus.

There are so many men who are anxiously inquiring about spiritual things
and about God and a future life. And they say: "Show us something that
Christianity can do." And if we are living such lives, they find what
they are seeking for and are satisfied. But there are many men who
_won't_ search the Bible to find out if it is true--and many who don't
do so for want of time and of opportunity--and some who _can't_ do so
because they can't read or reason, and we _force_ Christianity upon
their attention by the beauty and unearthliness of holy Christian lives.
Instead of waiting for them to come inquire and into Christianity, which
they might never do, we carry it before their eyes in its loveliest and
most attractive and powerful form when we live holy lives before them.
And when men see many people living thus, it turns the tide of their
feelings, reverses the current of their thoughts, and makes it easy
instead of difficult to believe. Oh, that we had more of these entirely
consecrated lives! They would do far more good than the preaching. When
people see these consecrated women doing the work they do for the poor
neglected children, they say: "Ah, now, that looks like something, sure
enough, and we believe in that sort of religion." John Wesley said:
"Give me one hundred men who love nothing but God, and who fear nothing
but sin, and we will soon lay England at Jesus' feet."

How can we get and keep this savour, this divine unction which produces
such a life? Only by much communion with God.

David knew no fear when he went to meet Goliath because he had communed
so much with God in the sheep pastures that God was more of a reality to
him than Goliath was. So it must be with us, my dear brothers, or we
_lose this savour_.

And that is what the text says. Let us read it again.

You may retain outward forms of religion and perform outward duties, but
the unction and zeal and power will be gone and men will find it out and
see it and say that you are no better than they are.

So the text says, "Good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under
foot of men." And sad it is that more harm is done to the cause of
Christianity by hypocritical or wicked or inconsistent professors of it
than by all the Ingersolls in the world. Men look at the church to see
what Christianity can do; and seeing it does nothing extraordinary in
the way of making men better, they say it must be false. So it is the
wicked and worldly professors of religion that make more infidels than
anything else. Oh, let us be sure that we are not the darkness of the
world. For if we are not its light, we become darkness.

The light in the lighthouse may be burning, but if the lights along the
shore are not burning, too, the poor sailors may be lost.

    "Brightly beams our Father's mercy
      From _His_ lighthouse evermore,
    But to _us_ He gives the keeping
      Of the lights along the shore."



LUKE XV: 11-24.

1. This younger son thought he was wiser than his father and wanted to
manage his own affairs. So it is with men who think they can manage
their own affairs without God. And as this young man wanted to get as
far from his father's presence as possible (see verse 13, "into a far
country") so the sinner, when he determines to give himself up to
pleasure and sin, wants to get as far from God as possible. He does not
want to hear about Him or even think about Him. Was not this so with

2. The father did not _compel_ the son to stay at home. He allowed him
to choose what he preferred. So it is with God. He does not compel us to
obedience. For my part I wish He did. But he lets us go and pursue sin
with all our hearts, if we choose that above the innocence and joy of
dwelling with Him.

3. "He _wasted_ his substance with riotous living," verse 13, and so it
is with the sinner--in the service of sin and Satan he wastes and
destroys his property, his health, his reputation, his intellect, his

"_And he began to be in want._"

That is what sin brings a man to--want, want, want and wretchedness,
wretchedness, wretchedness. Has not sin done this for _you_?

4. And it was this very wretchedness which brought him to his
senses--"he came to himself" (verse 17).

And when he does come to himself he can think of only one place where he
can hope to find relief and he bravely determines to go straight to the
very father he had so shamefully abandoned and to make a full confession
of his sin and throw himself on that father's mercy with the hope of
being taken back as a hired servant. He is willing to take the
_humblest_ and _meanest_ place, if he can only get back to that home he
was, a short time before, so eager to leave. Nor does he offer _any
excuse_, he calls his sin by the right name and confesses it without
trying to excuse it or justify it.

5. And how did his father receive him?

Why, he did not wait till his poor, ragged, worn and wasted boy got in
and made his confession but he saw him a great way off (verse 20) and he
knew what had passed in the poor boy's heart and life, and, moved with
compassion toward him, he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him a glad
welcome back to his heart and his home. But the son goes on to make his
confession and his offer to be a hired servant anyhow, and yet the
father says, "No! no! bring forth the _best_ robe and put it on him."
So, though we may go to God expecting to _work as servants_ for Him and
for His favor, He gives us far more than we ask and He makes us His own
_sons_. And, poor wretched sinners, I come now with this message for
_you_, bruised and sore and despairing and wretched as you are on
account of your sins. May God help you believe it.

II. PETER I: 5-6.

     "5. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith
     virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;

     "6. And to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience;
     and to patience, godliness."

I want to say something to you to-night about how to _grow_ in the
Christian life, and how to secure yourself from falling. And now, let me
begin by saying what you, no doubt, have heard before, that there is no
such thing as standing still in the Christian life. If you are not going
forward, you are losing ground. See the Apostle here speaks of giving
all diligence, to be adding something all the time. And why not exercise
diligence in making sure of the salvation of your souls? Men use
astonishing diligence in the affairs and pursuits of this life. The men
of all professions and occupations use diligence and industry and toil
and self-denial in order to make a little money or to gain a little
honor. Why, you know there are thousands of men in this city who get up
early in wet weather or dry, in summer's heat or winter's cold, and go
hurrying up and down these streets to be at their places at the
prescribed hour for beginning their day's toil; and they work, work,
work, sometimes with tired hands and feet and weary hearts, till the sun
goes down, because they know they must do it in order to get bread and
meat and clothing for themselves and their families. They do not stop to
think how they _feel_. No, no; feelings and preferences and all must be
overlooked and forgotten; for they know that work must be done that
bread may be won. And we do not hear many complaining of this. They
accept it as a matter of course. Why, I know how the gamblers will sit
up late and do without sleep, and rack their brains, in order to devise
some means of finding a poor victim and getting his money. Then why
should not Christians, who are striving to avoid the danger and sorrow
of sin and to gain eternal rest and reward--why should not they exercise
diligence and self-denial and watchfulness also? And we are told in the
text how to succeed in this. We are to _make up our minds_ by God's
grace to live a life of consecration and activity.

You have begun with faith, have you not? If any man here has been truly
converted, he knows what faith is. He came to Christ as a hell-deserving
sinner, and believed in Christ's mercy for forgiveness and salvation. So
faith is the first step; faith is the foundation. And let me stop to say
to any one here who is not yet saved, that, if he wants to be, he must
throw himself as a sinner on the mercy of God in Christ; and God will
save him at once, if he will do so. But, having exercised faith and
received forgiveness and strength, you must add virtue, which means
courage or boldness. It is sometimes very hard for a man who has lived a
sinner and taken pride in it, to come out before the world, and
especially before his old companions, and let them know that henceforth
and forever he is a humble follower of Jesus Christ. But it is
necessary. No middle ground is safe at all. If you try to meet the world
as a reformed man, concealing the fact that you are a Christian, you
will weaken, and give the devil a great advantage, and probably fall. I
told gamblers in Denver I was a Christian, and they let me alone. But,
not only that, you must be bold enough to try to persuade others to
become Christians. There are some poor cowards who are not ashamed to
let their friends and the world know that they have _reformed_; but they
are too chicken-hearted to say that they have humbled themselves,
surrendered their pride and become _Christians_. I know more than one of
that sort. And, again, there are some men who are content to be saved
themselves, but are afraid of being called fanatics if they are bold
enough to go to talking and trying to persuade others to be so. Boldness
in going out after others strengthened me and kept me from many a

But, having this godly boldness, you must go on striving to get
knowledge--knowledge of your own deceitful heart, knowledge of human
nature, knowledge of the fullness of the gospel way of salvation. When a
man is first converted, he is almost like a baby. Everything is new, and
he hardly knows anything. So it was with me, but I trust I have grown in
knowledge of myself and others and of the word of God and of the plan of
salvation. Your knowledge will increase of itself if you are in earnest
and if you will use all the means of growing better and stronger.
Conversation with older Christians, when you get into a tight place,
will help you. Earnest prayer to God will result in increase of
knowledge. Reading His precious word, and studying short portions of it
at a time, with prayer for guidance, will wonderfully enlighten you and
increase your knowledge. You will gain knowledge also by reading good
books--the lives of very pious people, and the sermons of such men as
Wesley, Spurgeon, etc. Why not have some good books to read? Could you
invest your money to better advantage? In this way, having your mind
always occupied with the subject of religion, you will have neither time
nor temptation for sin or thoughts of sin.

There are some selfish men who, when they find themselves delivered from
their evil appetites and raised up again to respectability and their
right mind, begin to think of reading all sorts of worldly and profane
literature, and want to cultivate their "literary taste" and prepare to
shine in society. Such men forget the pit from which they were taken,
and in their selfishness and worldliness and pride become blind to the
awful peril to which they expose themselves in neglecting to keep their
minds occupied with religious thoughts and subjects as far as is
practicable. Some of our converts have fallen in this way.

But what is the next thing, to be added? It is _temperance_. This means
entire self-control in things that are, in themselves, innocent and
lawful. Of course, men understand that in things that are wrong and
dangerous nothing is right or safe but an utter abstinence from them and
abhorrence of them, (Read Romans xii., 9, second clause: "Abhor that
which is evil.") Temperance means here what we spoke about when we
considered Paul's saying that he kept his body under, and brought it
into subjection, lest he should be a castaway (1 Corinthians, ix: 27).
And as you grow in experience and in knowledge of yourself you will
find it absolutely necessary to keep down your body by denying it, and
by asserting your entire mastery of it, through God's grace. Oh, be
careful and be prayerful, and be self-denying, or some day, when you
think all is secure, some sudden temptation will come and find you
self-indulgent and careless, and, like David, you will fall before you
are aware of it, and then, maybe, have not the heart and hope to ever
try to be a Christian again. Men who have been addicted to bad habits
before are especially in danger if they do not practice the strictest
self-control in all things. But, with all this, you will often be
provoked, and find your temper very troublesome. It troubled me long
after conversion and troubles me now more than anything else. So it is
necessary to bear all things, however unreasonable and provoking they
may be; and this is exactly the next thing the Apostle puts
down--namely, _patience_.

Oh, how I tremble for some of these men who are converted here. They do
not know how necessary it is to keep right down in the dust, and not
only to give diligence, but to _make it their chief business_ for some
time to watch and guard their thoughts and ways, and to pray always, and
by all the means we have spoken of try to keep away--far, far away from
temptation. I beg you to make up your minds to bear anything and
everything. Always be ready for a disappointment, and determine not to
let your contentment and happiness depend upon anything or anybody in
this world. Then it won't make any difference what happens to you; it
will come like water on a duck's back, and won't hurt you. Remember how
humble you had to get before you could get forgiveness and strength to
resist your appetites. And did it kill you or did it damage you in any
way? No! It killed your wretched sins, but not you. It robbed you of
your bondage and darkness and despair and wretchedness. But it did not
rob you of any good, did it? Then it won't hurt you to keep humble and
in that same state of mind till you die. And you can afford to do so.
How would you like to get back into bondage and darkness where you were?
You say: "Not for the world!" But, if you knew you could, by diligence
and watchfulness, gain the world, you would be diligent and watchful.
And yet, by this diligence, you not only keep yourself secure from
falling back, you make your family happy, you bless many others--and,
best of all, you make _sure_ of everlasting life, and escape the hell
which we all fear more than all things else combined.

    "Since I must fight if I would reign,
      Increase my courage, Lord;
    I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
      Supported by Thy word."


     "Let us bear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and
     keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."

The book of Ecclesiastes contains the experience of a man who had tried
every phase of life, who had tasted every kind of pleasure, and who,
also, had experience in the service of God, with its consolations and
its sacrifices; and he had also made a study of the great questions that
come up in considering the affairs of the world about him. And after his
long and thorough experience, and his deep and life-long study of the
facts of human life and history, he at last reaches a conclusion
concerning it all, and this conclusion he has recorded in the text I
have read, "Fear God and keep His commandments," etc.

1. Fear God.

The fear of God is natural to man until, by false teaching and evil
association, it is destroyed. The severe things we see in nature about
us lead us to have a dread of Him who is the author of all these things.
And, then, death is an awful and a fear-inspiring thing, and the thought
of what is to come after death, in that unknown country from which no
traveler has ever returned to tell us of it, fills us with awe and
sobers us whenever it comes to us. And most men even that are in their
lives wicked, and seemingly have no thought of God or fear of Him, are
often troubled with the fear of death and what is to come after death.
This was my own experience.

2. But merely to have this fear of God is not sufficient, and will do no
good if it does not lead a man to obey God and keep His commandments, as
the text says. For example, I knew a fireman in an engine-house here who
had this fear of God; but he lived a swearing, drinking man, and, of
course, he was not at all benefited by his fear of God. No doubt this
fear of God was created in the human mind in order to lead men to keep
God's commandments. But how are we to know His commandments? Why, my
brothers, they are given with great plainness in His Holy Word--so plain
that the wayfaring man, though he be a fool, need not miss them if only
he is willing to know them and to do them. And, as St. John says, "His
commandments are not grievous." They only require of us what is most
just and reasonably due to Him who is the giver, the free and bountiful
giver, of all the good things of this life, and the gracious promiser of
perfect blessedness in the life to come. And, on the human side, His
commandments require of us only that we keep from doing to others what
they ought not do to us, and that we do for others that which they ought
to do for us. In other words, the commandments of God are all embraced
in two sentences, "Love God with all your heart, because He first loved
you," and "Love your fellowmen, because they are commanded to love you,"
and when you submit to God's Spirit, and become renewed in mind and
heart, born again, made a new creature, you will see the reasonableness
of keeping God's commandments, and the desirableness of it, in such a
light that you will go on in His ways with delight, desiring to know
more and more of Him.

3. And we are told that to do this is the _whole purpose_ of man's
existence, and when he does this he has fully answered the end of his
existence, met all that is required of him and is secure amid the
problems of life and the possibilities of the unknown future.

This, also, brings rest to the human heart, a rest to be found nowhere
else. I am in a position to speak with some confidence and positiveness
on this point; for, like the man who uttered the text, I have tried life
in all its phases. I have had all the kinds of pleasure, and I have
tested them to the bottom. I have found out all there is in them. For
forty years I gave myself to seeking and enjoying worldly pleasure, and
I ought to know what it can do for a human soul. But I have another
advantage, too; I have tried the doctrine of my text. I have surrendered
myself, my life, my prospects, my all, to God, and live only to keep His
commandments and to please Him. My mind has been renewed, transformed,
my life entirely turned around. I have passed through the struggle and
the sacrifice that were involved in becoming a Christian, and I have
been passing through those that belong to the life of a Christian. But
you may say I speak thus because it is a novelty to me. No, sir; it is
no longer a novelty. I have been trying it now for ten years--surely a
long enough time to know pretty well how it compares with the old life;
and my testimony, from forty years' experience of the old life and ten
years of the new life, is that of the writer of my text, "Fear God and
keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."


     "1. Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great
     a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the
     sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience
     the race that is set before us.

     "2. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith;
     who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
     despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the
     throne of God."

The Apostle here speaks of a great number of witnesses, who, having
tried God and His ways, are competent to testify as to what God can do
for those who trust Him and serve Him. In the chapter just preceding he
has spoken of Abraham and Joseph and Moses, and many others, and they,
having lived the life of faith, were prepared to say whether it was a
disappointment or not to trust God and to walk in His ways. And they
were not disappointed. They obtained a good report, held fast to their
faith in God, and were content to endure all sorts of trials and
sufferings for the comfort and compensation of their religion. And so
now there are witnesses, not a few, who have tested this matter, and
tested it under circumstances the most adverse and trying, and they give
no uncertain testimony as to the desirableness of religion. There are
people who have none of the good things of this world; none of its
honors; none of its pleasures; none of its wealth, and not many of its
comforts, and yet they are contented, and even happy. Yes, far happier
than many who have the best that this world can give. I am one of this
class myself. Then the Apostle goes on to exhort them to hold fast, and
to go on, because others having tried it were conquerors.

He exhorts to three things:

1. To lay aside every weight, and especially every besetting sin that
might have especial attraction and special power. And it is impossible
to serve God and have peace of conscience and to overcome sin while the
mind is divided and undecided. A man can not expect to win a race if he
ties heavy weights upon his person; be must be unencumbered and free.
So, in running the Christian race, we must free ourselves from
everything we find to be a hindrance, no matter how desirable or how
dear it may be to the flesh. So Jesus Himself says: "If anything so dear
as a right arm or a right eye becomes a hindrance to to us, it must be
given up." There are men who say they want to serve God, and expect to
do so, but then they enjoy certain things they know to be wrong and
hurtful, and they will indulge in them just a little, not enough to
cause them to get clear away from God. I know and you know men who think
they can enjoy sin just a little, or once in awhile. In the first place,
this is ungrateful and mean. It is the same as to say: "I want to be
just religious enough to escape hell, and yet I want to enjoy all the
pleasure I can from sin, too." Such a feeling dishonors God. And, in the
second place, it is exceedingly dangerous. It shows that the heart is
not right. While you are trifling thus with sin, you may become so
fascinated by it and led away as to be enslaved before you know it, and
lose all your taste for heavenly things. Besides, God will not long bear
with a man who has no better heart and no more self-sacrificing spirit
than that. For myself, I should tremble and shudder if I were so far
gone as to feel that I could go and deliberately indulge in some
pleasant sin for awhile and then come back to resume the service of God
when I had satiated my evil desires. Be assured, you can not serve God
and sin. They are as opposite as light and darkness; you must give up
one or the other. "But," you say, "how can I give up sin?" If you are
_willing_ to do so, God will see that you have the _power_ to do it.
Give it up if it gives you pain--yes, if it breaks your heart! God
Himself will pour in the oil of comfort and joy, and heal all your

2. The Apostle exhorts to run with patience the race set before us. It
is easy to do well for awhile; to abstain from sin while the excitement
of novelty in the religious life is upon us; and how many there are who
began well and did well for awhile, but when the novelty wore away, and
the excitement of the change was gone, they grew weary and sought the
old pleasures of sin again. Some have thus done in connection with our
work here in this mission. Make up your mind before hand that when the
time of temptation and loneliness comes, you will endure it and go
through with it patiently, waiting for the removal of the temptation and
the return of joy. And when temptation does come, pray, oh pray. Go
alone and ask God to restore to you the joy of His salvation and trust
Him until he does it. Go work for others; go mingle with Christian
people, whether you feel like it or not, and you will soon find how to
meet the enemy, and how to defeat his plans and purposes.

3. But his last exhortation is to look to Jesus. He bore our sins on the
cross, and therefore we are released from them, if we trust Him and
accept Him as our sin-bearer. He is alive forevermore; and when
earnestly asked, He gives spiritual life and joy and strength by sending
the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Then again, His life is the pattern of
patience in loneliness and trials, which you and I are to follow; and
can we desire or aspire to be or to do any better than did He?

    "Would you lose your load of sin?
      Fix your eyes upon Jesus.
    Would you have God's peace within?
      Fix your eyes upon Jesus."

ACTS II: 38.

     "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of
     you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and
     ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

We may not be able to understand how it is, but these inspired
Scriptures represent the work of salvation as applied to human hearts by
the Holy Spirit. We do not hear enough of the Holy Spirit. We do not
know Him and speak of Him and pray for His help and guidance and power,
as the Scriptures teach us to do. These Scriptures are our guide; what
they say we do not question, nor can we subtract from them or add to
them. Let us see, then, what they teach us as to the Holy Spirit. In the
14th, 15th and 16th chapters of St. John's Gospel Jesus distinctly
promises His disciples that upon His departure He would send to them and
to the world a divine agent whom He calls the Spirit of Truth, the
Comforter, etc., and He tells them what that divine agent would do. Let
us, then, fix our minds now intently on what He says, and be prepared to
believe it.

He said that this Spirit of Truth should "convince men of sin." Well,
the fact is, we do see men convinced of sin as sin, and not merely
because it is damaging and ruinous. But we see this only in connection
with the Christian religion. So it must be by means of some power that
belongs to the Christian religion. And if any of you here to-night see
your sins and feel them to be, not only damaging and destructive, but
mean and hateful and crimes against the good Father who has borne with
you and blessed you through all these years of sin, then you may know
that it is God's Holy Spirit that has produced that feeling in you; and
especially so if you feel that your ingratitude to God, who has provided
for you a way of salvation at such great cost, and your cold and
heartless neglect of Jesus Christ through all these years of sin are the
most aggravated part of your guilt. And you may be sure if God is
willing to begin a good work in you He is willing to carry it on to
completion, and will do so if you do not hinder Him. "Work out your
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you."
And since it is He who has begun this work, beware that you do not
hinder it or stop it by your coldness, carelessness or sin.

But, in the second place, Jesus says the Holy Spirit should reveal Him
to sinners as their sin-bearer and life-giver. So the promise is to you.
Hold on in prayer and patient expectation. You can not be disappointed,
for God can not lie. I was ignorant of Christ to an astonishing and
shameful degree; but I was told to pray and I did so. I shut myself up
in my back room one evening and told God I was going to stay there until
He blessed me, and I was blessed, and the only three words I uttered
were "Jesus of Nazareth." By some power I was so illuminated and changed
that I saw Jesus as the dearest and loveliest being I ever thought of.
Was not this a fulfillment to me of the promise made in John xvi.: 14?
And having received grace from my God, I continue to this day witnessing
to small and to great the things I have experienced since becoming a
Christian. Now, let us inquire what else this gracious divine agent
working in man is to do.

He it is who produces that change in men which we call conversion or
regeneration or new birth. You remember in John (3d chapter) the
expression, "Born of the Spirit," and again in Titus iii.: 5, it is said
we are saved by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost." When we know, then,
that these changes are the immediate effect of the inworking of this
divine agent, we need not be surprised that they are so sudden and so
thorough as we see them to be in some cases that we know of. Let me say
to those who have not yet experienced this wonderful deliverance from
the power and love of sin and this inner revolution, that many of us
have tested this matter who were in the deepest depths of sin and
darkness, and God will do to depend on. Go ahead, go ahead; keep on
praying and keep on hoping and trust yourself to Jesus, and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

But, after we have experienced this change which we call conversion,
God's spirit abides with us and keeps on doing great things for us when
we are converted. We are not made angels or gods, but are still human,
and, though delivered from the guilt and power of sin, we are hampered
by ignorance and depressed by sorrow and encompassed with temptations.
But just anticipating these needs of ours, the Holy Spirit is to be our
teacher and to guide us into the truth. So we need not fear if we are
only humble and honest and teachable; we shall not go dangerously
astray, for God Himself will thus open to our minds the wonderful things
of Scripture, and cause us to understand as much of it as we need.

But He, the Holy Spirit, is to be the comforter of God's people in their
loneliness and trials and conflicts in this world of exile. I have been
sustained by unseen power in my trials as a Christian. But He enables
them to overcome, and be more than conquerors, when they are assailed by
temptation to sin. "He strengthens with might in the inner man"
(Ephesians iii.: 16), and gives joy and peace; so that the soul, being
content with these, does not need or desire the poor pleasures of sin.
This has been my experience.

He sanctifies God's people; He makes them holier and holier; He produces
the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
meekness, temperance, faith; and He gives power to reach, by our poor
words, the hearts and consciences of others, though they be dead in sin.
Jesus says, "Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon
you." (Acts 1.: 8.) There are some men who have this power to reach and
awaken and interest sinners in the salvation of their souls. And they do
have power to bring sinners into this new life of peace and purity and
joy. And you and I might have this power, and far more of it than we do,
if, like the Apostle, we would wait before God in patient, believing
prayer till the Holy Spirit should come in fullness and power. Pentecost
was a display of this power, and we may have another Pentecost when we
are willing to wait for it and pray for it as did the little company in
the upper room at Jerusalem.

LUKE V: 32.

     "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

These words of Jesus were spoken to the Scribes and Pharisees, and
combine in themselves a defense of His own course in mingling with
sinners, and a keen rebuke of the spirit of those who brought against
him an accusation of associating with sinners, as well as the
declaration of the object of His mission into this poor darkened world.
And does it not seem strange that a man should be required to defend
himself for going to spend and be spent for the good of those who are
most sorely in need of help and relief? But it has always been so. Men
are so selfish, so utterly without concern for the interests of others
that they want to monopolize and swallow up everything that is good. So
when Jesus of Nazareth was revealed to the Jewish people, and made
Himself conspicuous and famous by the daily performance of astonishing
miracles, the Scribes and Pharisees, who thought that everything ought
to be subservient to their own personal interests and aggrandizement,
fell out with Jesus because He did not fall in with notions of what He
ought to be and do. They did not care a baubee for the people, the
rabble, the mob, the human cattle. Indeed they utterly despised them,
and would have nothing to do with them. They might perish and rot so far
as the Scribes and Pharisees were concerned, provided these latter could
hold the places of honor and gain. And so utterly possessed were they by
this feeling of all-consuming selfishness, that when they saw this
Jesus of Nazareth going with sinners, talking with sinners and eating
with sinners, they set it down as a conclusion they would never give up
that He was not, and could not be, and should not be, their Messiah. So
that Jesus was thus forced to reason with them, and to make His defense
before these self-constituted judges of His, and tell them why it was
that He pursued the course He did. So it was in the time of John Wesley
in England. He went among sinners, talked with them, taught them, and
drew them by the magic force of his great love to follow him wherever he
went to preach; and they so crowded the churches to hear the words of
grace and tenderness that fell from his lips, that the doors were shut
upon him, and he had to go out on the commons and into the fields
beneath the sky of that God and Father whose words he was preaching, and
whose lost children he was trying to save. This has been the experience
of other zealous and earnest ministers of Christ. And they, too, have
had to defend themselves for such a course. Our dear Brother Morris felt
himself pressed to say why he went to the courthouse steps to try to
lift up the fallen and save the wretched and the lost. But the words of
Jesus contain also a scathing rebuke of the self-righteous spirit of
those hard-headed, hard-hearted Scribes and Pharisees. It was the same
as saying, "you claim that you are the righteous of the world. You are
not willing to be classed with sinners, or to be called sinners, or to
believe yourselves sinners. Therefore you have no need of me, and I have
nothing for you; for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to
repentance." Let us beware then, my dear friends and brethren, of
thinking or feeling that we are better than others, or that we are not
sinners. Now, need I stop here to prove that any of you are sinners?
Does any one here need to have arguments worked out and laid before him
to prove to him that he is a poor, miserable, blind sinner? If there is
any one here who thinks and feels that he is not, then he has no
business here, he has no business with Christ, and we have nothing to
tell him or give him here. We bid him farewell, and turn away from him,
to work for and to talk to others. If I were to go to see a sick man
concerned about his soul, and he were to begin to tell about his good
deeds and his freedom from sins and vices, I would get my hat and tell
him good-bye; that I knew nothing about salvation for anybody but
sinners. But for sinners I have and hold up a Saviour, a divine Saviour,
who, blessed be God, is able to save to the uttermost all who come to
him, and to save them here and now. If you want to see a specimen of
Christ's interest in sinners and feeling for sinners, look at His life.
In the beginning of His ministry He chooses Matthew, one of the despised
class of publicans, to be one of His disciples--nay, one of His
Apostles. Then He went to Matthew's house to dinner. It was as if some
leading minister of the Gospel here to-day would be seen walking down
the street with some leading gambler, on his way to take dinner and
spend the afternoon with him. It was as if Mr. Moody should come to
Louisville to conduct one of his great meetings, and, instead of
stopping with Mr. Carley or Mr. Carter or Judge Bullock, should stop
with John Young or Harry Johnson, and be his willing guest. So Jesus
went to the house of another big gambler, so to speak, in his day. It
was the publican Zaccheus (Luke xix., 1-10), and Jesus not only went
there to dinner, but took salvation with Him to Zaccheus' house. So by
His tenderness and grace, Jesus drew to Him the poor outcast women of
His day. One wretched sinner of this class was so won by His concern for
sinners, that she pressed her way into a rich man's house where Jesus
was dining, and going to Him washed His feet with her tears, and
anointed them with costly perfume, Jesus not only not forbidding her,
but defending her for it (Luke 7). And Jesus spoke the parables of the
Lost Sheep, the Lost Piece of Silver, the Lost Prodigal Son, and
said--oh, hear it--"There is joy in heaven over one sinner that

JAMES I: 25, 26.

     "25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and
     continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer
     of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

     "26. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth
     not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's
     religion is vain."

James, the writer of this language, is that inspired servant of God, who
gets impatient with mere professions of piety, and who wants to see
action, action! not mere words, not dead faith, but also action. He
speaks, in the text, of "forgetful hearers of the Word." Now, do you not
know all about what that means? Have you not, many a time, read the
Bible, or heard a sermon from it that, like a mirror, held up to your
heart, showed you yourself even better than you knew yourself? And have
you not said: "Well, I will change; that picture is true, and it is too
dark to be endured any longer?" But, instead of carrying out your
purpose and doing what you say, you went away and forgot all about it,
and soon you were as dead as ever. And, instead of continuing to read
the Bible and see yourself there; and instead of continuing to go where
faithful ministers would uncover your poor, wicked heart and life to
your eyes, you went on your accustomed ways of business or pleasure, and
became a "forgetful hearer of the Word," and it did you no good. How,
then, in the name of God, can a man keep himself from forgetting the
things he reads or hears from the Bible? Why, it is very simple--to go
to _doing_ at once, without waiting even till to-morrow. "Do what?" you
say. Why, go to praying. Cut yourself off from retreat by coming out on
the side of Christ and taking your place among those who are seeking His
mercy and salvation, till you can take your place among those who have
that salvation. But I want to say a very solemn word to those who
profess to have already obtained salvation. Are _you doing_, as well as
_hearing_ the Word of God? Does your life exemplify "holiness to the
Lord," and does it abound in good works and good words? Do you abstain
from evil and keep yourself from evil associations? Do you turn away
from dangerous and suspicious places and people? Do you obey readily and
heartily what you find to be commanded in God's Word? If you do not do
the things you hear, then you, too, will soon become "forgetful
hearers," and little by little the world will re-assert its power over
you, and the flesh will get the upper hand, and at the last you may wind
up as our poor friend Eicheler did. Doing is as important a part of the
Gospel as hearing. Read the last part of the Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew vii., 24-27). Notice that Jesus says the man who does His
sayings is like one who buildeth on a solid and enduring foundation that
can stand storms and temptations. Now, do you not find that if you do
what you find in the Bible, then the Bible becomes sweeter and sweeter
to you? You do not shut it up then and shove it aside for fear of
finding yourself condemned, for when you do its biddings it will not
condemn you, but commend you, and that makes you love it and keeps you
from forgetting it. And thus you grow stronger and stronger, and sin
will grow weaker and weaker, and you will surely find that you have
built on a strong foundation. But, in the last part of the text is a
subject I want to talk about. Read verse 26. It is the tongue. If any
man seems to be religious, and fails to control his tongue, then he is
mistaken. Oh, have you not found your tongue to be one of the most
troublesome things you have to contend with? If you want to see James'
idea of the tongue, read chapter iii., 1-10. Do you watch your
conversation? Do you guard the door of your lips? Do you? I am in

Do you ever indulge in the least obscenity? Some so-called Christians
do, and it is sickening and disgusting to others; and while it shows
what their thoughts dwell on, it does themselves great harm, for it
keeps temptation before their minds, and makes it a great deal more
difficult to resist temptations when they come in their lives. Do you
mean it only as innocent fun? It is not innocent. For if you are so
hardened as to unclean thoughts, that they don't hurt _you_, they, will
hurt others.

What about swearing? If the devil can get you to swear a few times, then
he will say: "Oh, you might as well confess that you are no Christian,
and give up this hypocritical business." There is one of the Ten
Commandments forbidding to take God's name in vain; the Sermon on the
Mount forbids it still more strongly, and James, in chapter v., 12,
condemns it in the strongest language. And yet there are some church
members who practice it, especially when they get mad. That man's heart
is not right, and he is treading on very dangerous ground who is not
changed enough to avoid swearing. And if a man, by God's grace, will
turn away from it and from the thought of it, he will soon become so
that it will make him shudder to hear others swear. I know this from my
own experience.

If you do not watch yourself in conversation, you will tell things that
are not true; and so, in trying to be polite, you will have to watch or
your tongue will tell a falsehood, and you will recollect it with shame
and lose strength of faith in God.

And then that tongue often indulges in gossip about your acquaintances
that does them great harm. And have you not, in moments of temper and
passion, said cruel and, perhaps, false things to your dear ones; to
those who have worked for you, and maybe would die for you? It cut them
to the heart, and you have not made acknowledgment of your sin to them.


     "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways."

One of the commonest and greatest faults and weaknesses of men is this
that I am going to speak about to you to-night, and that is indecision.
It is not only a weakness and a fault and a great hindrance in regard to
religion, but in any and all the affairs of life. Do you not know men of
competent ability and of good advantages and education who amount to
very little in the world? And when you ask yourself why it is, is it not
because they have not enough decision of character to keep at any one
thing long enough to master the difficulties with which it is beset and
to win success in spite of obstacles? Some of them are confused by the
great number of ways that seem to open before them and are not decided
as to which one they will pursue. And after embarking in one pursuit and
continuing in it for awhile, they conclude they could do better at
something else; and before they have studied and labored long enough to
obtain success in this second enterprise, they conclude they could do
better by changing for a third or going back to the first. And so,
because study and time and labor are necessary to success in any
occupation or profession and they do not bestow these, they do not
succeed, and, in the nature of the case, can not succeed. Or, if they
are not embarrassed by the number of openings before them, they are
divided in their minds between a life of ease, indulgence and pleasure
and a life of labor and self-denial, and, though they would be something
and are not without ambition, yet a life of indolence and rest offers
so many inducements that they prefer it to a life of hard work and of
discouragements and battles and anxieties, or, at least, if they do not
positively prefer such a life, yet they hanker after it; and in their
effort to have ease and pleasure and, at the same time, to pursue some
honorable and profitable calling, _they miss both_, and have no
satisfaction, but only a consciousness of their own weakness and
uselessness and a contempt for themselves. But maybe I need not ask you
if you know persons of this sort. You who listen to me to-night may be
of just that kind. Possibly--nay, probably--there are men here to-night
whose lives have been failures just because of the miserable weakness I
have been trying to describe. But if this weakness of character is the
cause of many failures and the utter disappointment that many lives have
ended in, in worldly matters, how much more so is it in religious
concerns and interests. If concentration of thought and fixedness of
purpose and firmness of will are necessary to overcome obstacles and to
master success in business or in the learned professions, they are more
so in the matter of religion. If indecision and dividedness of mind and
wavering of purpose cause men to fail in worldly matters, much more so
will they cause men to fail in religion. Some men are forever wavering
between accepting and rejecting Christianity. To-day they are satisfied
that Christianity is true, and to-morrow they say they have found proof
that Christianity is false. Then, again, they get into trouble and find
that nothing can help them but Christianity, and they believe it until
some man comes along and argues against it, and away they go off after
him. So they never believe in Christianity long enough at any time to
get any good from it, and they will not utterly and finally reject it so
as to be no longer troubled by it. But the trouble with most of the
people who are in this wretched state of indecision is that they believe
in Christianity, and are persuaded that it is far better to be a
Christian and safer, but they love the world and the ways of the world
and the honors of the world and the pleasures of the world; and it is
impossible to love the world and partake of the pleasures of the world
and at the same time to serve God with your whole heart. "Ye can not
serve two masters," and yet you see people who are trying to do it. So
they do not make good Christians, for their hearts are in the world, and
their lives and influence are not for Christianity, but for the world.
Nor do they get the good and pleasure of a worldly life, for they are
restrained and harassed by their fear of conscience, God and hell. And
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, says, "Ye can not serve two masters."
Many have tried it. Some whose histories are given in the Bible tried
it. Saul, the first king of Israel, tried it. When God sent him to
destroy the Amalekites, he obeyed the command in part, but not
altogether. (I. Samuel xv., 13-25.) But God is not mocked, and because
Saul trifled with Him He rejected Saul, and Saul went from bad to worse,
until at last, in his abandonment to the power of evil, he committed
murder after murder and finally died a suicide. The rich young man in
the New Testament was another case of divided mind. He saw the
desirableness of being good, and the safety of being at peace with God,
and showed a zeal in trying to be good; but when Jesus told him to sell
all he had and give it to the poor, he refused. He wanted to do both,
obey God and inherit the kingdom of heaven and have a fortune for
selfish enjoyment or for miserable greed at the same time. But he could
not do both. King Agrippa said "he was almost persuaded" to be a
Christian. His mind was divided; he could not do both. He chose to keep
his worldly possessions, and, of course, could not be a Christian (Acts
xxvi., 28). But, on the other hand, those men who were decided and
positive in their rejection of the pleasures of the world found no great
trouble in serving God. Moses was a man of this sort (Hebrews xi.,
25-27). He deliberately chose to suffer afflictions with the people of
God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Paul was
another man of this positive character. When Jesus revealed Himself to
Paul his surrender was immediate and complete. He said, "What wilt thou
have me do?" And to the end of a long and laborious life, amid
persecutions and sufferings and disgraces and loneliness and bonds, he
continually cried, "None of these things move me." And his Christian
life was victorious and glorious.


     "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof;
     from such turn away."

This text is a description of certain false teachers who had arisen in
the midst of the church, or who would arise and assume the name of
disciples of Christ, as well as authority to teach. They would assume
the outward form of Christianity and adopt its expressions and conform
to its usage in outward respects, but would deny that there was any
supernatural power or divine unction in it. And there are such men
to-day. But if Christianity be not attended by any supernatural agency
and energy present in it and with it, then it is no better than any
other of the so-called religions of the world. If it has only form and
body, without a living and life-giving soul and divinity in it, it is on
a level with the heathen religions, for they all have these. And,
indeed, all men have a form of religion, and many of them are so devoted
to it that they will suffer and some of them die before they will give
it up. The ancient Jews held to the forms of their religion, and fought
for it in bloody and bitter wars. And the Pharisees at the time of
Christ were the most careful and scrupulous observers of all the forms
of their religion, and yet Jesus denounced them as the wickedest sinners
of His time. There are men of this kind in the Christian churches of
to-day, men who go through the forms of religion, who perform the
outward duties of religion, and who would not give these up for any
consideration; and yet they not only do not experience anything of the
power of inward religion, but they go so far as to deny that there is
any such inward power, and call those who claim to have it fanatical.

But read the following passages, and see if we have not Scripture
warrant for this power of religion: I. Corinthians ii., 4; I.
Thessalonians i., 5; II. Timothy i., 7; Ephesians iii., 16; and our
text, II. Timothy iii., 5.

1. The power of Christianity is shown in the conviction for sin.

It is impossible to get men to see and realize the sinfulness and
hatefulness of sin. It is impossible for any power of men's eloquence to
pierce through the deep native depravity of the heart--through the
selfish motives, desires, ambitions and interests, and get men to see
and feel the nature and danger of sin. Oh, the impossibility of making
men feel guilt and danger by any human means while they are dead in sin!
But under the power of this force, or, rather, this agent, who works in
and through Christianity, the poor sinner sees and feels all this. He
sees that, of all bitter and perilous things, sin is the most bitter and
perilous and dreadful. He feels smitten with remorse. He feels that
there is no beauty in the world, or in anything, because of the
blackness and ugliness and foulness of his own evil heart and life. And
he feels that, above all things, he must get rid of sin, and at whatever
cost, and speedily at that, for the agony is unendurable. Everything
seems as nothing compared with salvation from sin. "He will go and sell
all he has to buy it," as Jesus says. This sense of sin and danger
produces an earthquake in the spiritual nature that upheaves the hidden
depths of the soul. Like the pilgrim in Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, he
puts his fingers in his ears and flees from the City of Destruction.
Like the murderers of Jesus when convicted by this power, he cries out,
"What must I do to be saved?"

2. It is shown in what we call conversion.

But this power which belongs to Christianity, not only produces this
awful sense of the guilt and danger of sin, it also delivers from the
guilt and power of sin, and makes the man a new creature. The awful
sense of condemnation and the fear of a just and endless retribution are
taken away. He may not know how or just why, but he knows it is so, and
he rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But, not only so, he
finds to his amazement and joy that his whole inner nature is reversed,
re-created, and he no longer is a slave of sinful habits and passions,
but he is delivered from these, and now loves holiness and holy people
and holy things and holy thoughts. The whole current of his nature is
changed. "Old things are passed away, and behold all things are become
new," and, instead of the old defilement and darkness and
devilishness, there flows out and on a life of purity, consecration,
self-forgetfulness and holiness. Now, do you not call that a power which
can bring to pass such effects as this? Do you know of any other power
that can do anything like it?

And now, my brother, you who profess to be a follower of Jesus, have you
experienced this power, or have you only the form of godliness without
the power? That is what is the matter with most of the church members
of this day. They have a form of godliness, but in too many cases only a
form. They do not know anything of the power of which I have been
speaking. But let no one be discouraged who has not experienced this
blessed deliverance from the power of the enemy, provided you are
seeking for it. You shall not seek long in vain, if you seek it in
earnest. May God reveal Himself to us all now and here.


     "I therefore so run not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one
     that beateth the air:

     "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest
     that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself
     should be a castaway."

This Is the language of St. Paul, the Apostle. As we have already
remarked of Jesus, that He took the most familiar facts and experiences
of every-day life by which to teach His doctrines, so we may say of His
great Apostle, Paul. The Grecian games, consisting of running matches
and boxing matches, were well known among the people of St. Paul's day,
and especially so at Corinth, and these furnished him the illustrations
which he frequently used in his letters. In another place he speaks of
laying aside all weights and running with patience the race set before
us. In this place he speaks both of running and boxing. His object is to
show that, as in these games the utmost attention and energy and
self-denial were necessary to success, and that these would insure
success, so it is in the Christian race and the Christian fight. He
says: "I, for my part, run not as uncertainly," that is, I run no risk,
I indulge in nothing that would make it in the least degree uncertain as
to my gaining the desired object; I know what is required of me, and I
know that if I do not fully observe all that is commanded me and
required of me, I, to that extent, render my success uncertain, and this
I am determined, by the grace of God, not to do. Then he says: "I fight
not as one that beateth the air." The boxers would frequently take
exercise by striking into the air, as we see men practicing gymnastics
now; but Paul meant to say that he was not taking exercise--he was
facing an earnest and dangerous foe, and it was a life and death matter
to him to know just what that foe was, and to know just how to attack it
so as to conquer it. And what was that foe? Hear it, you who think you
are safe and can just go smoothly to heaven as if you were sliding down
hill. Hear what Paul's greatest foe was: It was his body--yes, his body,
with its appetites and passions, its constant craving for gratification
and pleasure. What! do you mean to say that Paul, the great Apostle, was
in danger of being led away by the appetites of the body? Well, that is
what he himself says. He was not in danger of falling because of doubt,
for he had had such a wonderful conversion, and such an actual vision of
Christ, that he could never, never doubt that, nor does he any where, in
any of his epistles, show the slightest wavering in this respect, but he
does show that he knew and felt there was danger of being, in some
unguarded moment, misled and brought into sin by the appetites of an
unmastered body. So, he says in the next verse: "I keep under my body
and bring it into subjection, lest that when I have preached to others,
I myself should be lost." He still keeps up the figure of the boxing
matches in the games, and says: "The foe I have to contend with is my
body," and as the winner in the fist fight of the games beats his foe
black, till he cries "enough!" so do I deny my body till it ceases to
have any desire or disposition toward the objects of unholy passions,
till it meekly gives up, and I feel that I am perfect master, and it is
under my feet as it were. When the body is fed and gratified and
pampered, its animal appetites and passions are nursed and become
strong. So men who live high and eat to gluttony and drink wines and
liquors are usually in a perfect strut of sensual passion. I guess that
is why the Lord keeps me so poor, and why I have so little to live on
and so little to feed on. It is that, by this necessary self-denial, I
may keep my poor body down, out of danger of betraying me into sin.

David was as great a man in some respects as Paul, he communed with God
in the solitudes of Bethlehem's sheep pastures, till he became strong
enough to overcome a giant and to put a whole army to flight. He
composed most of the Psalms, the most spiritual songs in the world. He
withstood all the temptations of honor, and endured, with matchless
meekness, the hatred and persecution of Saul, the king (I. Samuel xxiv).
But his poor body, with its sensual passions, got the better of him, and
he committed the awful sin of adultery. Doubtless, when he had become
king, he forgot the self-denial which he practiced when he was a
shepherd, and when he was a persecuted and hunted fugitive, and instead
of that he lived high, fed high, drank high, and so he fell, and fell
very low.

Solomon was a wise man. He knew all the secrets of the human heart. He
wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, books full of profound knowledge, as
well as of deepest piety. Yet Solomon was led away from God by indulging
in sensuality. And if David and Solomon, with all their faith and wisdom
and power and piety, found that their bodies, because not kept down,
led them into sin, we need not wonder that Paul saw and shunned this
danger. But how is a man to keep his body under? By totally abstaining
from everything that heats the blood and inflames passion, as drinking,
etc., and high living; by fleeing from evil conversation, evil books,
evil thoughts; by fasting and abstinence, frequently practiced. Moses
fasted; Elijah, David, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jesus, Paul, the
early church and Wesley and the early Methodists--all these eminent
servants of God fasted, and there must be something good and profitable
in it. I am satisfied it is one of the ways of keeping the body under,
and bringing it into subjection. And may God help us to use all the
means in our power for securing ourselves from our greatest enemy.

ACTS XX: 21.

     "Testifying both to the Jews, and also the Greeks, repentance
     toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

This verse is a part of St. Paul's account of his own ministry at the
city of Ephesus in Asia. He revisits them after having spent three years
of labor among them, and in his address to them he reminds them of his
manner of life among them, and recounts the substance of his preaching
among them; and the burden of his preaching was as is stated in the
text: "Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

And the first point to be noticed is that St. Paul made no difference
among men; he was no respecter of persons or classes. You all know the
Jews were the church people of that day. They not only claimed to be the
pious of that day, but they claimed to be the only pious people, and the
only ones qualified to teach others. But Paul, finding their religion
was altogether outward and formal, as is the religion of many of the
church people to-day, preached to them just as he did to the vilest of
the heathens around them, the necessity of repentance, of turning from
their sins and passions to God, with self-abhorrence and hope of mercy
and pardon. And in this he has only followed the example of his Divine
Master; for Christ said to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, a sort of
reverend doctor of divinity, "Except ye be born again, ye can not enter
into the kingdom of God." (John iii., 3.) And so now it makes no
difference if you belong to the Catholic church or the Episcopal church
or the Methodist church, or any or all others, it will do you
absolutely no good at all if you have not repented of your sins and evil
doings and turned to God in prayer and hope for grace to enable you to
live above the power of sin. But, in the next place, Paul said he
preached "repentance toward God." It is God, then, whom you have
offended by your sins. As David says in the fifty-first Psalm, "Against
Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." And
because you have sinned against God, you must repent toward God, and as
in the sight of Him who sees and knows all, even the secret thoughts and
passions and purposes of the heart. God is judge, and God is a consuming
fire. But what is it to repent? Ordinarily, when we hear persons speak
of repentance, we think at once about being sorry and of feeling a deep
grief because we have done wrong; and some of us think it means to weep
and moan and to be afflicted with an awful bitterness of soul because of
our sins, when we hear any one speak of repentance in a religious sense.
And, indeed, this may be the kind of repentance which many people have,
and doubtless do have. But there _may_ be true repentance without this
extreme sorrow for sin, provided there is enough sorrow for sin and
hatred of sin and dread of sin to turn away from it, and to at once and
forever forsake it. Nor must you wait for this extreme sorrow, which you
may have heard others speak of, but if you are convinced of the evil of
sin and the baseness of sin and the ruinousness of sin, then cease to
follow it, cease to practice it, and cease at once, however much it may
cost you to do so. The old prophet, speaking to the Jews who came with
sighs and groans and tears to God's altar, but without mending their
ways, says, "Cease to do evil, learn to do right, put away the evil from
you." And John the Baptist says, "Bring forth fruits worthy of
repentance," that is, such fruit as will show that you have indeed and
in heart turned away from evil and from sin. Meanwhile, ask God to help
you repent, tell Him you are nothing but sin and that you look to Him
for grace to repent right and to turn away from all sin. And as long as
you cleave to one sin, you need not expect to get any relief. Many give
up one thing and another, but think they can hold on to one sin--one
darling sin, one idolized sin--and that God will excuse this one, if
they give up all others. "But be not deceived; God is not mocked," nor
can you trifle with Him. Having thus let go your hold of sin, of your
secret darling sins, and turned away from them with hope of mercy from
God, you can trust in Jesus Christ, His Son crucified for your sins, and
in your stead, and you will surely have peace, and that quickly.

Observe, Paul says he preached faith, not in God the Father, but faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus that God reconciles the world
unto Himself, And if you do not accept Jesus and trust in God's mercy,
as shown in Jesus, you will get no relief and no peace. God has promised
nothing outside of Jesus. But He has promised everything to him who
accepts Jesus Christ's suffering and sacrifice as the sufficient and
satisfactory penalty due to his own sins, and believes that Jesus bore
his sins in His body on the cross. If Jesus satisfied Paul, He ought to
satisfy you, and be worthy of your confidence and trust and worship.
Turn from sin, then, with humility and shame that you have so long
grieved God, and trust in Jesus, and Jesus alone, and keep doing so for
days if necessary, and you can not, and shall not, fail to obtain


LUKE IX: 23.

     "And He said unto them all, if any man will come after Me, let
     him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me."

Religion depends on this more than on any other one thing. If we are
willing to give up all our own preferences and to deny all our desires
and inclinations, we shall not have much trouble at any other point. The
greatest hindrance to getting religion or _keeping_ religion is our own
desire for ease, comfort and self-gratification, and our aversion to
enduring any hardship or privation or suffering. The reason why
self-denial is necessary is that our very nature is corrupted and
diseased and we are blinded by sin. Once the will of man was the same as
the will of God; but, since the fall, the will of man and that of God
are directly opposed; and if we live according to God's will, we must go
directly against our own.

Self-denial is necessary in avoiding sin to which we are inclined and
which we find give us pleasure.

But it is necessary also, when no sin or temptation is present, to
preserve that frame of mind which keeps us in readiness for temptation
and enables us to resist it when it does come.

A constant habit of self-denial is necessary to make us proof against
the gradual and unperceived approach of sin either in the form of
coldness and distaste for religion, or sloth, or a desire to gratify the
flesh. So Paul (I. Cor. ix., 27) said he kept his body under and
brought it into subjection, lest _even he_, through the deceitfulness of
sin, should become a castaway.

It follows that self-denial is absolutely necessary to growing in grace.
We are mistaken if we imagine we are growing in grace, when we are
practicing no self-denial. Jesus said (Luke ix., 23): "If any man will
come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross _daily_." Now
what does that word "daily" mean in this connection? Indeed growth in
piety is a growing out of self so that self is _crucified_, as Paul says
he was.

Self-denial must be practiced then.

1. In abstaining from sins of all kinds.

2. In performing all our duties of religion, however hard and unpleasant
they may be, as attending all church services, ordinances, etc., and
giving according to your ability.

3. In practicing private prayer however hard and distasteful it may be
at first. Some men have prayed three hours a day in secret, as, for
example, Luther.

4. In abstinence from food, _i.e._, fasting; and sometimes from sleep
when it is necessary to have time to pray, etc.

Get the upper hand of your animal nature and keep it by _daily_
self-denial and you will mount up with wings as eagles, you will run and
not be weary, you will walk and not faint.


     "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and
     in Him is no sin."

These are Christmas days. This is the period of the year that is
celebrated as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. I fear that if some
stranger from a foreign land, who knew nothing of the character of Jesus
and His history and nothing of Christianity, were to happen in our midst
during this Christmas time, he would think, from the character of our
festivities and the kind of our demonstrations, that we were either, by
our bonfires and guns and rockets and fireworks, celebrating some
warlike hero who, in the midst of belching cannon and blazing musketry,
had delivered his country from peril, or else that we were, by our
revelry and dissipation and debauchery and riot, celebrating some
heathen god of pleasure like Bacchus, the Roman god of the wine cup. And
it is strange--unaccountably strange--that men should so pervert the
sacred Christmas time into a season of unusual and disgraceful
indulgence in sin. What does our text say? "He was manifested to take
away our sins." "He was manifested;" what does that mean? Oh, it means
more than you and I will give ourselves time to fully take in. It is
said that the angels desire to look into the wonderful fact of the
condescension of Jesus Christ, the prince of princes, in becoming man in
order to save sinners. But though _angels_ thus desire, very few of
_us_, for whom this wonderful humiliation was suffered, give enough time
or attention to it to either understand it or care much about it. We are
too much occupied with these lower things to take any special interest
in things infinitely higher.

Paul, in the second chapter of the Philippians, tells us how Jesus
humbled himself. Let us see verse 5: "Who being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made _Himself_ of _no
reputation_ and took on Him the form of a servant, and humbled Himself
and became obedient unto _death_, yea even unto the death of the cross."

Christ, then, was the equal of God, the Father, worshipped by angels;
and yet He consented to become man, and so be made "a little lower than
the angels." But He not only became man, He became a servant among men.
So His life was one of lowly service and unremitting toil for others. He
once girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples.
But He not only became man and servant to man, He went to a deeper depth
of humiliation than any other ever descended to: He suffered as an
evil-doer, though in fact He was the only good and pure man that ever
lived. "He was numbered among the transgressors," though He was guilty
of no transgression, and He descended down to the bottom floor of
disgrace--He was nailed on a cross and left there to die as you hang the
worst criminals by the neck till they are dead.

Yes, He was born poor; He lived in toil and sorrow and died in shame:
the Prince of Glory did all this. But, stop and ask, Why did He endure
all this when He might and could have avoided it? Let God answer:
"Surely He hath borne _our_ griefs and carried _our_ sorrows. He was
wounded for _our_ transgressions. He was bruised for _our_ iniquities;
all we like sheep had gone astray, and the Lord laid on _Him_ the
iniquity of us all." (Isaiah lviii., 4, 6.) Yes, "He was manifested to
take away our transgressions" in the sense that He suffered in our stead
for those transgressions that are past. But what good would it do to
forgive sinners if they were not changed and renewed, so that they could
have the power in the future to abstain from sin? What good would it do
for God to say to a drunkard, "Your sins are forgiven" if He did not at
the same time so change that drunkard as to make him able to keep from
drinking in the future? What good to forgive the past sins of a
debauchee or a liar or a gambler or a thief or a murderer if, at the
same time, their hearts were not so changed that they would and could
keep from sinning again? It would do no good, for they would go straight
into the sins they had been practicing. Well, does Jesus make provision
for this? Yes, He does. He was manifested not only to take away the
guilt of our transgressions, but also their _power_ over us. Do we not
read in the Scripture that if the Son shall make us free we shall be
free indeed? Jesus promised a mighty agent which should work in the
hearts of men and renew their natures. I, myself, am as different a man
as if I had been blotted out of existence and born again a new creature.
And these are the very expressions the Scripture uses for describing the
wonderful change. This, then, is what Jesus was born in poverty, lived
in sorrow and died in shame for, and at this time of remembrance and
rejoicing He makes appeal to you:

    "I gave my life for thee, my precious blood I shed
    That thou mightest ransomed be, and quickened from the dead.
    My Father's house of light, my glory-circled throne,
    I left, for earthly night, far wanderings, sad and lone.
    I've borne it all for thee; what hast thou borne for me?"



The people of Israel had journeyed long and wearily since leaving Egypt.
For forty years they had wandered and now at last had come to the
borders of the Promised Land. Only the narrow Jordan was between them
and the Canaan of their hopes. They were encamped upon the eastern bank
of this river and were only awaiting orders to pass over and possess the
goodly land which lay before them. And Moses, who was not to cross over
with them, but to be buried in the land of Moab, gives this parting
address to them. They were just passing from one stage of their journey
to another and they need to be reminded of the _past_ and instructed and
warned as to the _future_.

So he says:

"Thou shalt _remember_ all the way which the Lord hath led thee these
forty years."

1. They were to remember the trials and temptations they had. The object
of these, he says (verse 2), was to _humble_ them and to _prove_ them
that they might know what was in their hearts. And so, my brother, if
during the past year, or during your past life, you have had trials and
temptations, it was that you might learn your own weakness, a hard
lesson for proud mortals to learn, and so be humbled to distrust
yourself and seek help from God. And if you have had sorrow or
bereavement it was for the same purpose, that you might learn to give up
seeking perfect happiness in anything or any creature on earth and seek
it in God. And have not some of you learned this lesson or are you not
beginning to learn it at last? Have not the sins and the sorrows of your
past life humbled you and at last brought you to feel your _need of
God_? But another object of these past experiences of trial was to prove
what was in your heart. A man does not know what there is in his heart
till temptation brings it out. He does not know how bad it is. I thought
I was patient; but when temptation came, I found my heart had much
impatience in it. I thought I was humble and did not think highly of
myself till people began to praise me and I found I enjoyed it and loved
it and I was not humble.

2. But they were to remember God's goodness to them also (see verses 3
and 4). He had fed them Himself with manna and kept their clothes from
wearing out and their feet from swelling. And so _you_ are to remember
the goodness of God to you during the past year and during your past
life. Remember how He has spared you in the midst of your wickedness as
He spared me in my neglect of Him _for forty years_, and how He has
furnished you many blessings and would have given you more, but you
would not. And if He has allowed your wickedness to bring you into
trouble and distress, it is to cause you to _stop_ and _reflect_ upon
your ways and turn from them unto Him for deliverance and true
happiness. Thus you are to recall, from the past year and from your past
life, your sins and sorrows, and God's manifold mercies to you.

II. But, just entering upon this new year, you are to look ahead also,
even as the Israelites were to look ahead to the goodly land into which
the Lord was going to bring them (see verses 7, 8 and 9).

1. God _promises_ you much, my brother, on condition that you follow Him
and obey Him. He promises to bless you temporally and spiritually, and
to give you happiness--a goodly possession--if you, for your part, give
yourself up, _unreservedly_ to His directions. He has done much for
_me_, since I began to follow and obey Him years ago.

2. Moses ends his discourse with a solemn warning (verse 11). _Beware_
that you forget not the Lord your God, and go at any time to trusting to
yourself or any earthly help.



     "32. But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion
     according to the multitude of His mercies.

     "33. For He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children
     of men."

There is a vast deal of suffering and of sorrow in the world, and the
most of it, if not all, is due directly or indirectly to _sin_ as the
cause. Sin is followed by suffering, as for example, intemperance ruins
the health and brings on a slavery worse in some cases than death; and
sensuality is often followed by loathsome and painful diseases. Thus God
declares His feeling towards sin in these sufferings that result from
it. He has set up a barrier to keep men from the practice of it. But we
will consider how afflictions and sufferings may all be overruled to the
good of the sufferer and his deliverance from the evil of _sin_.

1. Sufferings which are the direct effect of sin have a tendency to make
us turn away from sin. For example, the poverty and distress of the
Prodigal son were the cause of his returning to his Father. So it was
with Jack Harrington and others whom we know.

2. But sufferings and misfortunes which are not the direct effect of sin
stir up the memory to a recollection of past sins, and excite a remorse
for them. For example, a lady who is the wife of a whisky dealer told
her husband she believed that their losses and misfortunes were
judgments sent on them for being in that business.

3. Sometimes it takes the greatest and most prolonged suffering to
conquer man's stubbornness and independence of God. But suffering
humbles him, and, his pride being out of the way, he has no more

4. Sorrow that is too great for any earthly consolation leads the
sorrowing one to seek comfort in God. One of the greatest and best
preachers of Germany was thus led to God by the loss of his young wife.
So parents are brought to God by the death of children and children by
the death of parents.

5. Sometimes suffering is necessary to wean us from some idol which we
would not otherwise be willing to give up.

6. Sometimes when we forget God and become absorbed in the world,
nothing but some affliction will make us come to ourselves and turn
again to God with repentance and consecration. Read Psalm cxix., 67-75.

The case of Sister P----, at Portland, was one of this kind. She was a
backslider and put off her return to God and kept putting it off. But
she had a great sorrow. Her son left home under a cloud, her son's wife
lost her mind and then died, and her son was put in prison. To this was
added her own bad health. These things broke the spell of the world,
woke her up from her apathy and made her seek God with all her heart and
she found Him again, and died in great peace and triumph.

7. Then suffering purifies us and develops us and prepares us for work
we could not otherwise do. "Tribulation worketh _patience_." What
_excellent training_ I got when I rubbed the engine for a dollar and a
half a day. It brought patience and resignation and a better preparation
for the work I am doing than any other sort of experience, perhaps,
could have given me.


     "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the
     tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and
     they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them,
     and be their God."

The subject suggested by the text is, the future and final conquest of
the world by the Church of Christ, and the rest and reward of that
church in Heaven.

And the Scriptures do teach that, in time, all nations shall learn
righteousness. The time is coming when neighbor shall not say to
neighbor, "Know ye the Lord," but when all shall know Him, from the
least to the greatest; and the knowledge of God shall cover the earth,
as the waters cover the deep. When this blessed time is to be, and what
are to be the signs of its approach, are not questions for us to attempt
to discuss here to-day, though we may be allowed to say that the Gospel
is being preached to more people to-day that at any former period in the
history of the church. There is a missionary zeal in the church to-day
that has not been paralleled in all her history. There is not only a
readiness among heathen people to hear the Gospel, but there seems to be
a positive hunger for it, and within the last few years the Gospel has
penetrated to the interior of nations and continents that were
previously inaccessible. Certainly the church is more aggressive and
bold in her plans and operations to-day than ever before. And if it be a
prophecy of the not distant conquest of the world to the reign of
Christ, we take courage, and say: "God speed the day!" It is well for us
to pause now, and to reflect upon the reward promised to us in the end
of our course. We do not give enough attention to this. To study about
it; to learn what we do not know concerning it; to realize the
unspeakable blessedness of that state would make us more patient in
waiting, more cheerful in suffering, more earnest and active and
untiring in our efforts to help others to the attainment and enjoyment
of it.

Heaven, then, is represented in the Bible as a place of _perfect beauty,
perfect security, perfect rest and perfect joy_.

It is so represented as to appeal to the desires and longings of all
classes of people. To the inhabitant of the city, what could be more
pleasing than the freedom and freshness and beauty of the country? So
heaven is described as having its landscapes, with its fruit-bearing
trees, its crystal rivers and gurgling fountains. But for the rustic
peasant, it is said to be a resplendent city, with walls of sapphire and
gates of pearl and streets of gold.

But in some respects we are all alike.

We want to be free from sin and danger.

To a Christian heart, sin is the most abhorred and dreadful of all
things. It gives more pain and causes more darkness than any other
cause; and the fear of it causes more suspense than the fear of all
bodily suffering.

But in heaven we shall be free from sin, and free from all fear of sin
and all liability to sin. For nothing that defileth or maketh a lie can
ever enter there; and they who are so happy as to gain heaven shall go
out no more forever.

We all dread sorrow and grief and pain. And truly we all have our share
of it in this life. "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."
"Man is of few days and full of trouble," but we leave it all behind
when we go in at the gate of the City of God. "And there shall be no
more sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the
former things are passed away." Christians in this world feel that they
are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, away from their home and
their Father's house. Their hearts have been so changed, and they have
tasted of the powers of the world to come, and have come into communion
with God, so that neither the pleasures of the world nor the friendships
of earth can content them--their hearts are not here, but away in

I heard a Christian man say, not long ago (though he has a sweet family
and many friends), that he felt that day an unutterable loneliness, as
if he were an exile. His heart had such a longing for his Father and his
kindred and his home beyond the skies. Oh, the sympathy and love and
tenderness we know we shall get at home! It makes us all feel a thrill
that responds to the poet's immortal lines:

    "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

And all the sympathy and tenderness of father, mother, brother and
sister are transcended by the sympathy and tenderness of God, for
marvelous to tell it is said that "God _Himself_ shall wipe away all
tears from our eyes."

And how we thirst for _knowledge_ here. We know nothing now. We are
surrounded on all sides by things we do not understand. If we undertake
to investigate, we soon reach the limit of our capacity and have to stop
before we have learned anything. "But then we shall know as also we are

What it means, when it says we shall "sit down at the marriage supper of
the Lamb" we know not, nor what it implies when it says we are to "enter
into the joy of our Lord;" nor do we understand that wonderful saying,
"Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over
many things." No, no; now we see through a glass darkly, but then face
to face, and "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." But we know that
"if we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him." The suffering comes
first, the humiliation first, the toil and weariness, the _cross_ first,
and then the crown. Peter the Great, of Russia, during one of his wars,
was separated from his army and lost, and, to escape detection, took off
his royal apparel and dressed in common garb. In his wanderings he came
to a humble cottage, and was kindly received and ministered unto by the
peasant woman, who knew not who he was. She gave him a home until danger
was passed, and then helped him to get back to his capital. When the war
was ended, Peter sent for this poor peasant woman, brought her to his
splendid court, and, marrying her, made her the partner of his throne
and his empire. She who had ministered to him in his sufferings now
reigned with him as Queen Catherine, of Russia.

So, my brethren, see that you serve Christ, suffer for Him; spend and be
spent for His cause, and _then_, oh, then, how sweet to rest and reign


     Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear God, and
     keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Now, boys, here is a piece of advice given by the wisest of men. Can any
of you tell me who was the wisest man? (Solomon.) Well this Solomon was
the son of a king. Can any of you tell me whose son Solomon was?
(David's.) And, of course, Solomon had all that money could buy from his
childhood up; and when his father died, he became king in his place. He
lived to be an old man and he had a wide experience of life. In other
words he tried everything that he thought he could get happiness from
and his experience is given in the book of Ecclesiastes. He tried all
sorts of pleasures and he tried them fully, because there was nothing to
hinder or to check him. He denied himself nothing that his heart
desired. He knew fully the effects of all sorts of enjoyment and when he
had passed through it all he wrote it down as the lesson of his
experience for all boys and young men to read. And what was it? Does he
say "Young man, you have a long life before you. Now you must enjoy the
pleasures of life while you are young?" Does he say you must run off
from your father's house and presence like the Prodigal son did, so you
can have a good time in the enjoyment of the pleasures of the world and
then in your after life, when you get more settled, you can think about
your Creator and death and heaven and hell and eternity? Was that the
lesson which his long and extended experience taught him? Ah, no. It
was a far different one. He would say this: "Young men, boys, I have
been all over the road you are traveling now. I have had your feelings,
your hopes, your ambitions, your passions, your temptations. And in one
part of my life I concluded I would give myself up to the enjoyment of
pleasure of every kind and I did so. And I know all about it and this is
what I would say to you all just starting out. Remember _now_ your
Creator in the days of your _youth_ and give your hearts _and lives_ to
Him, if you want to be happy."

1. In the first place by so doing you will avoid wretched poverty. For a
man whose heart and life are given to God can not be a spendthrift. But
just look at some young men how they spend their money or that of their
fathers. However large a fortune they may have, they soon come to

And a man whose life is given to God is industrious and loves to work.
He can not bear to be idle, for he knows and _feels_ it to be a great
sin. Besides all this God promises to see that those who live for Him
shall not want what is best for them. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount
declares that if God provides for sparrows and clothes lilies, He will
be sure to see to the needs of His own children. So the way to get the
best assurance that you will be blessed with things needful in this life
is to give yourself up to God to be His, through thick and thin.

2. If you give your heart to God _now_, you will be kept from the sins
which bring men into _disgrace_. "A good name is rather to be chosen
than riches." Ah! you know not into what awful sins your passions will
plunge you, if you do not get the control of yourself, which only
religion can give. You may be led along little by little, almost without
knowing it, till you may wake up to find that you can not, _can not_,
break off from your sins--your hated and ruinous sins. But if you give
God your heart to be changed, renewed, purified _now_, you will avoid
all these awful dangers.

3. But this verse says "the years will draw nigh in which thou shalt
take no pleasure in these things that relate to God." My dear young
friend, that is terribly true. The longer you live away from God the
less and less will be your care for Him and for your soul. How few old
men ever turn to God! Yes, very few, forty years of age and over, ever
do so. I heard Dr. Munhall ask once, in a large congregation, that all
who were converted after seventy years of age would stand up. Not one
stood up. Then he asked that all who had been converted after they were
sixty years of age would stand up. Not one stood up. Then he asked all
who were converted after fifty years to stand up. Only one, I believe,
did so. When he asked all who were converted after forty years to stand
up, only three or four did so. When he asked all converted after thirty
years to stand up, perhaps eight or ten did so. A few more had been
converted after twenty years of age; but when he asked all who were
converted _under_ twenty years to stand, most of the congregation arose.

True, I was converted after I was forty years of age, but it was a bare
chance. And oh, how hard it was for me. And if I had not had the most
patient of friends to sympathize with me, encourage me and guide me, I
should never have gotten along. I beg you do not follow my example in
putting off your return to God.

Look at the men _whom you know_. How little interest they take in
religion and their interest grows less and less all the time. The years
have already come when they have no pleasure in the things of God. They
have encouraged all their feelings, desires and ambitions but this, and
this has almost died out. They have devoted all their thought and
affections to making money and enjoying it, to seeking pleasure and
enjoying it, to acquiring fame and enjoying it, and so their hearts are
completely hardened and insensible to the religion which they cast aside
ten, twenty or thirty years ago. And they will probably _never_ feel the
all-absorbing interest in religion which is necessary to obtain it.
Hence, they will go on blinder and blinder, colder and colder, more and
more hardened down to old age and to the grave and to a hopeless
eternity. I beg you, my young friends, all who hear me to put off your
return to God not one day longer.

     NOTE.--The address, of which this is the outline, was delivered
     on a Sunday-school occasion and is a specimen of Mr. Holcombe's
     talks to young people.--ED.

MARK II: 15.

     "And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house,
     many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and His
     disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him."

1. This class of persons _feel_ that they are outcast, and not
recognized by those who are esteemed the good. Hence, they feel
backward, and will not make advances toward the good for fear of being

2. If those who are looked upon and honored as good and pious and pure,
will show that they _want_ to be friendly and sociable, it will take
these persons by surprise, and will win their feelings--and this is
nearly half the battle.

3. Besides, if the good, instead of waiting for these sinners to make
advances, which they will not do, will take pains to show their interest
in the welfare of these, their unfortunate brothers, it will make them
believe that the pious are sincere, and not hypocritical, and that
religion is a reality and not a mere profession. This is a great step
toward gaining them. Most of this class believe in the Gospel in some
vague sense, but it is too vague to amount to anything. But when they
see the grand principle of the Gospel--_Love_--embodied in the
Christian, and coming after them in their lost condition, it makes an
impression, and it moves them to _action_. You can not drive men, nor
can you convince them by abusing them and by shutting them out as too
vile to be your associates. This only drives them further away. But all
men have a chord in their natures that can be touched by love and
kindness. It was this gentleness and sympathy that drew the thousands
around John Wesley. It was this wonderful tenderness that made the
publicans and sinners and harlots, the outcast and the low and the vile
seek the company of the loving Jesus and press into His presence, even
when He was the guest of the great and noble of His day. They knew Jesus
would never repulse them--they knew He would love them, help them, save

    "Down in the human heart
    Crushed by the Tempter,
    Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
    Touched by a loving hand, wakened by kindness,
    Chords that were broken will vibrate once more."

4. There has to be such an interest felt for those of this class as will
make you cease to care for what people will say about your going among
them and working with them. This was the sort of interest Jesus had for

5. Imagine your own dear son to be one of this number, and see what
feelings you would have, what earnestness and what planning. These are
some of the ways and means of getting at this class of persons. For we
have to use means and reason in all things.

6. But the _agent_, the only one who can accomplish anything is _God's
Holy Spirit_, and the Holy Spirit comes _only_ in answer to prayer and
trust. Prayer is to be first and second and third and everywhere and
always, and then we may hope that our plans will succeed.


I am sure, my dear brethren, that in the discussion of this topic we are
to be allowed some liberty and some latitude; and, if I shall speak in a
general way, I trust I shall not be counted out of order. And, not to
detain you with preliminaries, I say that, to be a winner of souls, a
man must have the anointing of the Holy One, reproducing the mind that
was in Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor,
that we through His poverty might become rich," and who "being in the
form of God, thought it not a usurpation to be equal with God, but He
emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant; and being found
in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient as far as
unto death, even death on a cross."

A sympathy that arises from any other motive, or comes from any other
source, than His divine and supernatural anointing, will fall short of
the mark, and will be found too shallow and weak to bear with the
hardheartedness, the perversity and the ingratitude of sinful men.

This anointing, on the other hand, brings with it a yearning love and a
profound sympathy for those who are in the blindness and bondage of sin,
which impels one to _seek out_ the lost, to be at patient pains to save
them, and to bear with all their dullness, slothfulness, selfishness,
perverseness and thanklessness, while they are under training, so to

It makes a man as ready and anxious to save the soul of a solitary
sinner, however humble and degraded he may be, as to preach with power
to the great congregations. It was this that made John Wesley as willing
and careful and patient in talking to a negro servant girl as to a
multitude. And it was this which lead a greater than John Wesley to lead
with patient love along, the poor Samaritan adulteress whom He met at
the well of Jacob.

But what is more important and imperative for the immediate work of
getting a dead soul to a living Saviour, this divine anointing imparts
that peculiar and energetic pungency which pierces to the heart and
conscience of a sinner, rouses his fears, and prepares him for the
reception of Christ.

Not only so, this unction from the Holy One is accompanied with a
practical wisdom and _insight_ which discerns, if not all things, yet,
at least, _many practical things_. It enables a man to see that the
first thing to be done in the way of saving a sinner is to convict him
of sin. To get him to admit theoretically that he is a sinner, is equal
to zero, amounts to nothing. But, in a way not to repel him, he must be
made to _feel_ that he is sinful, and so, wretched. It is wonderful what
tact some men have in this respect. Here lies, undoubtedly, the secret
of Sam Jones' power. He turns all classes of men, Pharisees in the
church and sinners out of it, inside out, and makes them see, in spite
of all spiritual apathy and all self-deception, what they are. He shows
them secrets which they thought nobody knew but themselves.

But a greater than he did the same thing--Jesus touched the _sore spot_
in the conscience of the Samaritan woman and compelled her to say: "He
told me all things that I have done." This revealing the secrets of the
heart is a thing that fascinates and attracts and wins a sinner; and he
feels, if you know so well without being told, all the particulars of
his inner life and all the desperate trouble of his case, you surely can
not make a mistake in pointing out the way of escape. Just as a patient
yields immediate and unquestioning confidence to the physician who can
tell him all his symptoms and describe his feelings better than he
himself can do it.

If preaching the love of Christ without convicting of sin would have
saved people, then most people in the United States would have been
saved long ago, for the love of Christ has been told and retold and
preached and re-preached, and it does not bring sinners to repentance.
To be sure there are some sinners who have found, by bitter experience,
the ripe fruits of sin, and these may be already prepared to accept a
deliverer and a deliverance as soon as offered to them.

The possession of this unction presupposes that a man is correct,
upright, holy in his life; for God would not give it to one who was not
so. I believe Mr. Moody was right when he said: "If a man's life is not
above reproach, the less he says the better." A friend of mine says he
knows a minister who, though no doubt a good man and a fine talker, will
_lie_ now and then. Of course, he would not call it lying, nor would his
admirers call it lying, but lying it is; and so he has no power. His
preaching is like a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

There are some men who have some little success in soul-saving, but who
would have much more success, if their lives were thoroughly holy, and
Christlike. And indeed some men would not have the success they do have,
if the public knew their secret life. For example, there are some men
who indulge evil thoughts (if they do not go further) and who are not
chaste in their associations with women; and there are others who are
ill-tempered, cross, fault-finding, sour and bitter in their home life.
If these things were publicly and generally known, they would lose what
power they have with the people. Brethren, we can hardly be too careful
of these things. But a full and constant anointing of the Holy One would
correct all these evils at the _source_, namely, in the heart. It makes
a sober Christian man tremble to know how little some of the preachers
and evangelists of the day _pray_. It would be no wonder if under stress
of some sudden and strong temptation, they should fall into scandalous
sin and disgrace themselves and the cause they represent. There is an
old and true saying that "when a man's life is lightning, his words will
be thunderbolts."

We are advised to make ourselves familiar with the Scriptures, to equip
ourselves with weapons from the armory of God's word; and excellent
advice it is.

No man can maintain a spiritual life who does not habitually and
diligently study God's holy word. No man is prepared to understand the
wants of souls or to deal with them who is not familiar with the
Scriptures. It is a marked characteristic of our honored brother, D. L.
Moody, that he can, not only discern the deeper, inner spiritual sense
of all the Scriptures, both of the Old Testament and the New, but he
can handle and apply them with a skill, effectiveness and power that are
truly wonderful. And, what is more, he is peculiarly apt in selecting
just the right passages for any particular case or occasion. He is truly
a masterly handler of the sword of the spirit, and his success is
largely due to this fact.

But there is a class of workers who seem to think that it is sufficient
to know by heart some Scriptures, or to have a certain facility in
referring to different passages, and they rely upon this, congratulating
themselves that they are doing well. But it is all perfunctory and
lifeless and dead. There is no charm, no warmth, no power in it. A man
must be more than a mechanical text-peddler in order to impress, arouse,
comfort and save the souls of men. You may pitch cold lead at a man all
day long and never break his skin; but let a full charge of ignited
gunpowder drive it out of a well-aimed rifle, and the effect is
terrific. So these text-mongers may throw Scripture at people all day
long, and they laugh at it. But let the same missile be hurled forth
with the energy of a soul on fire of the Holy Ghost, and the slain of
the Lord will be many.

So, my brother, there is absolutely no substitute for this unction of
the Holy Spirit. And this unction is given in answer to self-denying and
daily prayer.

If we would know the secret of power with men, we _must_ spend much time
in secret communion with God.

     NOTE.--This address is one of two delivered by Mr. Holcombe
     before the convention of Christian workers of United States and
     Canada in the Broadway Tabernacle, New York, September 21-28,



Two years ago I was working in the Fire Department of the city, because
I could get nothing else to do. The close and slavish confinement, the
necessity of being always at my place, both of nights and Sundays, and
the consequent lack of opportunity to do anything for the cause of my
Master, made it almost intolerable for me, and several times I made up
my mind I would give up the place, even though I had nothing else to
fall back on for a living for myself and family. But through the advice
of friends and the help of God, I was kept from that rash step. However,
I determined I must do something for my Lord and for the men of my
acquaintance and former occupation who would not, I knew, go inside of a
church. So, though I was getting under sixty dollars a month, and had a
large family to support, I determined to rent a room at my own expense
in the central part of the city for holding Gospel meetings, and to hire
a substitute to take my place in the Fire Department when I was absent
and engaged in the work of my Lord.

I made known my plans to my former pastor, and he became interested and
promised to help me. He was living in the country, and hardly ever
attended the preachers' meeting here on Mondays; but it happened on the
next Monday after I told him of my purpose that he was at the preachers'
meeting, and, on my name being mentioned by some one present, he took
occasion to speak at length of my conversion, trials, poverty; my
intense yearning to engage entirely in the work of God, and my immediate
purpose to commence Gospel meetings in entire dependence on God alone
for help. He went so far as to ask the preachers present to speak of the
matter to their members and make an effort to get assistance from them
for the expenses of my proposed work. But one of the preachers present,
though saying very little at the time, was moved to lay before his
official board a proposition not to _assist_ in paying the expenses of
such a plan of work, but to take me from the Fire Department and pay me
a regular salary and defray all the other necessary expenses of such a
Mission work as my heart was set on doing. And his official members were
_also moved_ to agree to his proposition, and when he came to me and
told me of what had taken place, I was constrained to say: "This is
God's doing, and it is marvelous in my eyes." So the very thing I
desired above all other things; the very thing I should have chosen if I
could have had my wish, was brought to pass. And I saw that by waiting
God's time, He rewarded me in granting me the desire of my heart, and
meanwhile I had learned lessons of patience and preparation that I could
not have learned so well anywhere else. (Mr. Holcombe went on to speak
of the beginning of his work in the Tyler Block, with the assistance and
co-operation of Rev. Mr. Morris; of the results accomplished during that
first period; of the removal of the Mission to Jefferson street, between
Fourth and Fifth streets, and the results accomplished there, and,
lastly, of the removal to the present building, etc. See his life.)


At present we have the house on Jefferson street. We have a
Sunday-school of scholars who do not attend any other school, and would
not. It is supplied with able and devoted teachers, such as Brother
Atmore and others. The devotion of Brother Atmore is shown by his
refusing to leave his class one Sunday to go to the Masonic Temple
during Sam Jones' meetings. The children show a wonderful improvement
since they have been coming to the Sunday-school. Brother Atmore's boys
were almost unmanageable at first, but they are now so changed that it
is very noticeable. This Sunday-school feature of the work is one of the
most important and promising parts of it, and we believe the results to
be accomplished by it _alone_ will amply repay all the outlay of labor,
time and means that has been made in the enterprise. We have also a
reading-room in connection with the Mission-room, where we have papers,
magazines, books, etc. The words of invitation and welcome painted on
the door have drawn in some who, but for the reception, sympathy and
help which they found there, might have gone on in their wretchedness to

While we furnish lodging, food, etc., to those who are destitute, yet it
is with a view to their spiritual welfare and ultimate salvation. And so
soon as we find a man is availing himself of our charity with no
intention or effort to become a Christian, we let him go.


In looking at the past, we find there are several plain and striking
results of the work. The most apparent is the radical and astonishing
change for the better that has taken place in the cases of many unhappy
men and their families. Two years ago these men "sat in darkness and in
the shadow of death," being bound in affliction and iron, because they
rebelled against the laws of God. Therefore He brought down their
hearts. They fell down and there was none to help. And none but
themselves and God knew the bitterness of their bondage and the depth of
their dark and unrelieved despair. But they were brought into contact
with a new force and a new agency by means of the efforts and sympathy
and instructions of those engaged in this work, and to-day their old
life with its bitterness and bondage and darkness is left behind from
one to two years in a path that, it is hoped, is not to be retraced
forever, and now these men are happy again, and some of them prosperous
in business. And what shall be said of their families--their wives and
children, innocent sufferers from the vices of husbands and fathers?

Husband is husband again, father is father again, and the long dark
night of hopeless sorrow and bitter tears has ended--ended at last, and
ended, let us hope and pray, forever.

But if it be also true, as He said, who spake as never man spake, that
it profits nothing to gain the whole world and lose one's own soul; if
there is for the unsaved an undying worm and an unquenchable fire, and
for the saved an inheritance of joy that is incorruptible and a glory
that fadeth never more away, then where or how shall we _begin_ to
compute the result of this mission work? It is recorded in eternity, and
only the unfolding of eternity can unfold the good that has thus far
been done.

But aside from these direct results, there is another one which can not
be estimated, namely the demonstration of the power of the Gospel to do
for helpless, enslaved, lost men what nothing else in the universe can
do. There is naturally in the hearts of men a doubt as to the divinity
of that religion which fails to do what it proposes to do, and so in
times of religious deadness, men lose faith, and unbelief grows stronger
and more stubborn in proportion as they see no actual instances of the
power of the Gospel to save bad men. But when bad men have been reached
and quickened and convicted and made holy by the Gospel, then the tide
turns and faith becomes natural and easy and contagious, not to say
necessary. Many of my old companions were brought to believe in the
Gospel when I was changed by it; and now when scores of the worst cases
in Louisville have been reached and saved, and have _stayed saved_ so
long, men are brought back from unbelief to faith, and naturally turn to
the Gospel with increasing hope.

But this return of faith has not only been noticeable in the case of the
unsaved classes, the churches have seen this work, and have had their
faith in the divine power of the Gospel to save all men increased, and a
corresponding activity is witnessed among many of the churches in the
city. They have learned also that to save lost men we must, like Jesus,
not wait for them to come to us, but we must go to them and after them,
just as has been done in this work.

There is a passage in Malachi which says, "Bring all the tithes into my
storehouse and prove me herewith if I will not open the windows of
heaven and pour you out such a blessing there shall not be room enough
to receive it."

This Walnut-street church, led by its devoted pastor, was willing to
accept God's challenge, and they brought the tithes, they laid down
their money, they made the venture, and God has given them a great

But this is only the pledge of far greater blessings yet to be given
them, if they will continue to honor God, by the faith that lays upon
His altar, sacrifices that cost something and amount to something.

Let us not stop to congratulate ourselves upon what has been done and
rest satisfied with that, but accept it only as an indication of what He
will do for us if we have faith to claim a deep wide-spread and
continuous revival.

     NOTE.--The foregoing is the substance of an address delivered
     by request of the Directors of the Mission on the occasion of a
     reunion of the converts and mass-meeting of the Christian
     people of Louisville, in the Walnut-street Methodist Church, in
     April, 1886.--ED.


     From September 21st to 28th, the second convention of Christian
     Workers in the United States and Canada was held in Broadway
     Tabernacle, New York City. From the published report of the
     proceedings, this speech of the Rev. S. P. Holcombe is taken:

It would be presumptuous in me to stand up here and say how you should
conduct a "Gospel Meeting." I do not propose to do that; but will simply
tell you how, for six years, I have conducted one at Louisville,
Kentucky, and with some success. I say some success, for we
have succeeded in gaining the confidence and respect of all
classes--preachers, Christians, gamblers, drunkards and infidels. Not
only have we succeeded in reaching the hearts of the people, but also
their pocket-books.

Beginning in a basement room, at a rent of twenty dollars per month, we
now own a building of thirty rooms. As an instance of the respect all
classes have for our work, while we were negotiating for this property a
German Singing Society also wanted it. This kept the price up above our

I called on the President of the Club, who is an infidel, told him I
wanted that property for my Mission work. Said he: "Mr. Holcombe, I am
not a Christian, neither do I believe in the churches, but I do believe
in the kind of work that you are doing. I shall withdraw until the
Holcombe Mission is done." We soon had the property.

Since my conversion I have tried to be a man, just as much as before. As
Dr. Pentecost said the other day: "When I put off the old man, I did
not put on the old woman," and by this I mean no disrespect to the dear
old women, for many of them have more manhood in them than some of us
men, and my wife is one of them. What I mean is, that since I have
become a Christian I have not lost any of my manhood.

When I was a gambler, I had gambling houses all over the country. The
object was to get other people's money without giving them any
equivalent, in order to gratify my base passion. I could not, of course,
call on the police for protection, as my business was not legitimate.
Hence, I had to protect myself, which I did at all hazards.

So, when I opened a house for the Lord, to win souls for Him, I
determined I would take care of it at any cost. I think some who are
engaged in Christian work are too stilted, others are too lax. I have
tried to be both stiff and limber; when it was a matter of no
consequence, to bend like the willow; when it was something vital to my
Master's cause, to be as stiff as steel. In other words I have tried to
be "all things to all men" that I might win some.

I think all Missions ought to have a leader. Ours has one. I am the
leader of the meetings. Not that I do all the talking, but I look out
for the details.

I have a time for opening and a time for closing the meeting, and I
always close at the time. If my opening time is 7:30, I begin the
meeting if there is no one there but myself, which, however, has never
occurred; and if my closing hour is at 9 o'clock, I close at 9--not
9:30 or 10. We have in Louisville a class of poor people who attend the
Mission and who work every day. They must be at their places of labor at
an early hour in the morning. They love to be at the meeting, and when
they know that they will be dismissed promptly, they will come. I feel
that if I were to keep these men and women up till 10, 11 or 12 o'clock,
and let them get up at 5 and go to a hard day's work, while I lie in bed
until 8 or 9, that I would be a robber.

Now, I do not say that I go home at 9 o'clock; for if there is a single
one anxious enough about his soul's eternal salvation to stay till the
dawning of the morning, I will remain with him. I simply say that I have
a time for opening and a time for closing, and I keep promptly to it.

I have no set way of conducting the meetings. I try to take advantage of
the situation and do the best I can under the circumstances.

We always have a Scripture lesson read and a few remarks by the leader.
If I ask him to speak twenty minutes, I mean twenty minutes; and, if he
is a bishop, I will stop him when his time is up. I don't ask you to
agree that this is right--I am only telling you how I conduct a Gospel
meeting. After this we have Christians to give their experience, never
allowing more than three minutes, and I make it my business to know what
kind of lives those who testify are living. If one gets up and begins to
talk about the love of Jesus, who I know has that day been drinking, or
in a house of prostitution, I stop him right there. I do not allow him
to talk, and injure the cause, and then tell him afterward. I say,
"Brother, we don't want to hear from you to-night," and so I stop him at

I am very careful as to who testifies in my meetings and what they say.
If a man who is not a Christian undertakes to exhort others to become
Christians, I stop him, because he is trying to talk about something of
which he knows nothing, and this is one of the hardest things in the
world to do.

Where everybody is invited to take part in a meeting, we are apt to have
cranks to deal with. They must be checked and kept down rather than
encouraged. By cranks I mean those who have eccentric and unsound views,
and think that nobody else can know as well about these things as

I was holding a series of Gospel meetings in Atlanta, Ga., on one
occasion, and had been talking from Acts ii., 38, "And ye shall receive
the gift of the Holy Ghost." In the address I undertook, as best I
could, to show that He, the Holy Ghost, convinces men of sin, and that
He reveals Jesus to poor sinners as their sin bearer and life giver, and
that it is He that produces that change in men which we call conversion
or regeneration or the new birth; and that He, the Holy Ghost, is the
comforter of God's people, in their loneliness and trials and conflicts
here in this world of exile, as well as our teacher to guide us into the
truth. When I had gotten through, I said, "Now we will have short talks
from others, and no one will talk more than three minutes." Up jumped a
street preacher, who began saying that I had been talking about the
Holy Ghost, but I did not know what I was talking about. He knew all
about Him, and would tell them about Him. (This was pretty trying, but I
kept mum, however.) He then began a harangue. When his time was up, I
stopped him. "You are going to limit the Holy Ghost, are you? You are
going to take the responsibility of stopping Him, are you?" "No, but I
am going to stop you, and that at once." And at once he stopped.

I never allow those who testify to abuse others. Some will begin to talk
about the gambling hells. I stop them and say: "No man will go farther
to stop these things than I, but this is not the place for that kind of
talk." Others, as soon as they are converted, begin to find fault with
the churches, and abuse the ministers. I do not approve of this, and I
discourage it. I am sorry to know that many who are conducting Gospel
meetings are inclined to find fault with Christians, magnifying
themselves and their work and underrating the churches and the work of
their faithful pastors.

Some of these Mission workers have spent the best part of their lives in
sin, never looking into the Bible--have been converted only a short
time; have had a little success; got the big-head, and think they know
better how to do God's work than those dear men who have been good all
their lives and made a study of God's Word.

My dear brethren, in the Mission work, we must remember that all who
have ever done any mighty work for God have been trained for it, and
trained slowly. Moses, you remember, when he was going to his work down
in Egypt, commenced killing people. He was the great chieftain, and was
going to deliver his brethren by killing his enemies. This was not the
way God wanted it done. God saw that there was good material in Moses,
and that He could use him, but he must be trained. So He sent him away
to the solitudes of Horeb and Sinai, and kept him there forty years.
Then when God called him to go down and bring His people out, he had
learned the lesson God wanted him to learn, had gotten down in the dust,
was humbled, and he said: "Who am I, Lord?" Moses had gotten more of the
Holy Ghost. The more we get of the Holy Ghost the closer we get to God.
The more we see of Him, and the more we see of God, the less we think of
ourselves; the more insignificant we become in our own eyes.

The Twelve had a grand work to do, but they were slowly trained for it.
So, then, let us young converts, whose work God has honored and blessed,
be very careful how we magnify ourselves, and underrate the regular
ministry. These men are doing a noble work in their respective fields,
and they are just as ready and willing to take hold of the poor outcast
as we Mission workers are.

There are preachers who are occupying pulpits, where they are getting
twenty-five hundred or three thousand dollars a year, and they are doing
just as much to save poor drunkards as we ignorant, humble Mission
workers are.

You who were at the Chicago Convention last year remember what Dr.
Lawrence told us about taking one of these poor, wretched drunkards to
his beautiful home; how, notwithstanding he was full of vermin, he had
him take a bath, burned his clothes, put clean ones on him, gave him a
bed and took care of him as a brother. I tell you, my friends, I was
touched by that story as well as taught a valuable lesson. I know of
many instances of the same kind that I might tell.

You remember Dr. John A. Broadus, a well-known Baptist minister in
Louisville. I know him well. He has been one of my best friends. Not
very long before I left home, a drunkard came to the Mission and showed
me a note from Dr. Broadus, saying: "This man has called on me for help.
I do not like to give him any money, as he is under the influence of
liquor. Give him whatever you think best, and I will settle the bill." I
asked the man, as I knew him well: "How did you happen to go to Dr.
Broadus?" "Because I had heard so many say that he had helped them." I
gave him nothing. My friends, we must not underrate the willingness of
the preachers to help the poor outcast, for they are much interested in
their very welfare.

I love the Missions and the Mission work. Just at this present time, the
Missions have got a boom over the country, but if we are not very
careful how we talk and act, the Missions will suffer. And the only
reason some of them have not quit already is because those who support
them, for want of time to hunt up real results, have had to take printed

It is easy for us to find fault with Christians, rich Christians, and
say they are cold and indifferent about the souls of men, but the
history of the church proves that this is a great mistake. These
Missions have to be supported by rich Christians, and when you find a
man that has got much money, you will find that he is not a fool. He is
generally a man with a long head and farsightedness. He wants to see
where his money is going, and what is being done with it. If you use it
properly, he will give it liberally. If he finds that you are one of
those fellows that want to give his money to every beggar that comes
along, he will stop his subscription at once. These are simple facts. If
we want this Mission work to succeed we have got to be very careful.

I never allow any begging in my Mission, I don't care how pitiable the
object may be. When tramps want food, I send them to the wood yard to
work for it. If men will not work, neither shall they eat of the money
intrusted to me for spiritual work.

I have no indiscriminate praying. When I want a prayer, I want to know
something about the man or woman who is to make it. I ask some one who,
I have good reason to believe, is a true Christian, that is, who walks
and talks with God. I do not care about their name or denomination. I
feel that there is a great responsibility in going to God for these poor
sinners, and I want the best man or woman that I can get to talk to God
for them. I say: "I am going to call on some one to pray. I don't want
you to pray for Africans, Chinese or any other of the heathen nations
here. When you go home, you can pray for them all night if you want to,
but now we want you to pray for this special work."

I believe in good singing, and try to have it. I would like to have a
hundred in the choir. I seldom have over two persons. I suppose the
reason is that I will not allow any one to sit on my platform and sing
these sweet hymns unless I have good reason to believe they are living
pure, holy, consistent Christian lives. I think the man or woman who
sits in the choir ought to be as good as he who stands in the pulpit.

Some will come to me and say: "So-and-so is a fine singer; has such a
fine voice." "What church does he or she belong to?" "Oh, they are not
members." "Well, then, excuse me, if you please." "But that might save
them!" "I shall not try the experiment."

I have polite ushers to welcome the people, and to shake hands with them
as they come in and also as they go out, and invite them back. They are
also supplied with tracts for distribution, tracts that have passed
under my observation, as I allow nobody to distribute tracts unless I
know what they are.

I try to keep the run of the converts; in fact, I try to know all about
them. I try to get them into some church of their choice, that one which
they will feel the most at home in and where they will get the right
sort of care. It is a very easy thing to get one of these poor
drunkards, who hasn't got any place to sleep or anything to eat, to say,
"I am going to try and be a better man and follow Christ!" It is a very
easy thing, I say, and the poor fellows mean it. But, oh! my friends,
how hard it is to get them up to the sticking point. They want to be
watched over and given the very best nursing. If I had not had the very
best care and nursing of one of the most godly of ministers, I do not
think I should be standing before you to-day a Christian man.

I try to follow them up and help the pastors to nurse them. In order to
keep track of them we use a book, something like a bank check-book. When
they want to unite with some church, we give them a certificate of
introduction. In it I ask the pastor to let me know when it is
presented. On the stub I take the man's name, age, residence, where
from, to whom introduced, with space for remarks as to future career,
etc. If he has a home, we visit him at his home, and if he has not, I
invite him to visit me at my home at any time, day or night, which is in
the same building over the Mission, and we talk together and pray

QUESTION. "Will you please state whether you ever recommend fasting as a
means of keeping the body under?"

ANSWER. "I think it is a good idea. I think fasting a good thing to keep
the body under. Owing to my poverty, since I have become a Christian, I
have had little to feed on. This necessary self-denial has enabled me to
keep my poor body down, and from betraying me into sin. No man was ever
a greater slave to his passions than I. My passion for gambling was so
great I would have committed murder to gratify it. I was very
licentious. I just gave loose reins to my passions; but to-day, I thank
God, I can stand up before you and say that I am complete master of
myself. I know it is a help to live a plain life."

Q. "How many meetings a week do you hold?"

A. "We have them every night."

Q. "Do the men go to the churches when you send them? Do you prepare

A. "I do not hurry them into the churches. And yet I don't say they must
be converted before they go in. When a man is sick of sin, willing to
give it up, I think he is about as ready for the church as we can get

Q. "Do you have much or little Bible reading in the services?"

A. "We do not have much Bible reading. I know that it is the power of
God unto salvation; but the class of men who attend Missions, as a rule,
are in no condition to be profited by a long Bible reading. The mission
of the Missions is to stop these men in their downward course, put them
to thinking, get them into churches; then have the Bible read and
explained to them by those who are more competent than I am."

Q. "How long do you hold service?"

A. "Exactly one hour and a half; never more, sometimes a little less.
The first half hour is taken up in prayer and singing, the other hour in
exhortation and testimonies and prayers for the inquirers. After
dismissing, we remain with any anxious ones."

Q. "When do you have your converts' meeting?"

A. "Every Sunday morning, beginning at 9:30 o'clock and closing at
10:30, in time for them to get to church."

Q. "Do the churches take good care of the converts?"

A. "As a rule, yes. Some better than others."

Q. "Do the converts come to your Mission after they have joined the

A. "Oh, yes, sir. They feel more at home in the Mission than they do in
church, because it was there they entered upon the Christian life. Many
of our Christian workers make a great mistake. They find fault with the
churches because they don't receive these tramps--I must call them
tramps--in their filthy condition and give them the best seats, etc. I
want to say right here that a clean church, where clean people go, is no
place for a body of tramps. We must remember, my friends, that people
who are clean, who have good clothes and clean homes, also have some
rights to be considered. I say it is not right to take these people into
a fine church, and put them side by side with the clean ones until they
themselves are thoroughly clean. I took fifty or sixty of them into a
church once, but afterward I was aware that I had made a great mistake.
The Mission is the place to clean them up, and then send them to a clean
church, and they will feel better themselves, and be warmly welcomed by
the members. I don't like dirt any better than other folks, but some one
has to do this work, and I am perfectly willing to do it."

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