“I never believed in this thing,” said a tall, dark-faced, solemn-featured man, speaking in a voice loud enough to interest the crowd in front “This sensation business I don’t believe in. What do we want of the president here! Who cares to see him? I don’t like it; I believe it is all wrong, turning a religious meeting upside down for a sensation, and I told them so.”
Our friend Marion, you will remember, was gifted with a clear voice and a saucy tongue.
“If he doesn’t like it,” she said, quickly, “and doesn’t want to see the president, why do you suppose he has kept one of the best chairs for four mortal hours? Don’t you think that is selfish?”
Which sentence caused ripples of laughter all about them, and quenched the solemn-visaged man.
But it was growing serious, this waiting. It was a great army of people to be kept at rest, and though they had been quiet and decorous enough thus far, it was not to be presumed that they were all people governed by nice shades of propriety. Would the disappointment break forth into any disagreeable demonstrations? Dr. Vincent had done what he could; he had appeared promptly on the arrival of dispatches, and given the latest news that the telegraph and the telescope would send. But what can any mortal man do who has arranged for people to come who do not come, except wait for them with what patience he can command.
At this ominous moment he appeared before them again. Not a notice this time; something which shone in his eyes and quivered in every vein and rang in his trumpet-like voice. This was what he said.
Dear Friends: I should bear a burden on my conscience, if I did not come to you to-day with the ‘old, old story.’
“Over the tent which has been prepared for the President of the United States there glows, done in evergreen, this single word, ‘rest.’
“As I pass it, I am reminded of another and a different rest: the rest from every burden, every anxiety, every pain, every sin; who has rested in those everlasting arms? There is coming a day when all this throng of human life gathered here shall wait for the coming of the King. Yea, even the ‘King of kings.’ Should that time be to-day, who is ready? Do you know his power? Do you know his grace? Do you know his love? Through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, every one of you may have that King for your father; I am commissioned, this day, to bring this invitation to each one of you; ’Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Will you come?------Pardon this interruption—no, I will not ask your pardon: it is never an interruption to bring good news from the King to his subjects. I will not weary you with a long presentation; I have only this message: you are all invited to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved from every possible calamity; you are all invited to come now. I am going to ask the Tennesseeans to sing one of my favorites: