The night came on which I was to take the meeting—that eventful night in my life. I got on the platform, took the papers out of my pocket, and opened the big Bible at the chapter I was going to read, and laid out the talk just as I thought a minister might do. I read the chapter, then we had a song, then it was up to me.
Do you know I made the greatest mistake of my life that night! I went on that platform trusting in my own strength and not asking God’s help. I got a swelled head and imagined I was the real thing. But God in His own way showed me where I was standing and brought me up with a short turn.
I began reading the article written, and was getting on well, as I thought, taking all the credit myself and not giving God any. I read three pages all right, when some one opened the window. It was a March night, very windy, and when the window was opened something happened, and I thank God that it did.
The wind came directly toward me and took the sermon I was preaching and scattered it all over the room. I didn’t know what to say or do. I forgot everything that was written on the papers, and I knew if I tried to get them back I would make a fool of myself.
There was a smile on every face in the congregation. There I stood, wishing the floor would open and let me through. I certainly was in a box!
Just at this moment God spoke to me and said, “David, I did that, and I did it for your own good. Now listen to me. You were not cut out for a minister. Just get up and tell these people how God for Christ’s sake saved you, and I’ll be with you.”
I listened to the voice, bowed my head in prayer, and it seemed as though the Lord put the words in my mouth. I told that roomful of people of my past life and how God saved and had blessed me for four years. We had a grand meeting and a number were saved that night, and, above all, I received one of the greatest blessings of my life.
On his return the minister said, “I hear you had a great meeting. How did the reading go!” I told him what had happened, and he was astonished, but saw God’s hand in it, and said so.
From that night on I never wrote up anything to read to my audience, and I have spoken all over within a circle of fifty miles of New York, and even farther away, including Boston, Philadelphia, Albany, and Troy. I tell the Bowery boys I’m what is called an extemporaneous talker. I don’t know the first word I’m going to say when I get on my feet, but God never leaves me: I just open my mouth and He fills it. Praise His name!
It was a lesson to me and I have never forgotten it.
While I was sexton of the old Sea and Land Church I met among other men one who came to be a great friend. We called ourselves pals and loved each other dearly, and yet I have never been able to bring him to Christ. When I told him I was writing the story of my life he said he wanted to add a few lines to tell, he said, what I could not. This is what he wrote: