The preacher was surprised to see the transformation that was going on in the man before him. That wonderful law which gives to some centre of energy in the brain the control of bodily strength, if but the right relationship between mind and body can be established, was again working, although in a lesser degree than formerly, to restore this man before his eyes. Bart, who had appeared shrunken, trembling, and watery-eyed, was pulling himself together with some strength that he had got from somewhere, and was standing up again ready to play a man’s part. The preacher did not understand why. There seemed to him to have been nothing but failure in the interview. He made one more effort; he put the last stone in his sling. Toyner had just spoken of the sacrifice of Calvary, and to the preacher it seemed that he set it at naught, because he was claiming salvation for those who mocked as well as for those who believe.
“Think of it,” he said; “you make wrong but an inferior kind of right. You take away the reason for the one great Sacrifice, and in this you are slighting Him who suffered for you.”
Then he made, with all the force and eloquence he could, the personal appeal of the Christ whom he felt to be slighted.
“You have spoken of the sufferings of lost and wretched men,” he went on; “think of His sufferings! You have spoken of your loneliness; think of His loneliness!”
Then suddenly Bart Toyner made a gesture as a slave might who casts off the chains of bondage. The appeal to which he was listening was not for him, but for some man whom the preacher’s imagination had drawn in his place, who did not appropriate the great Sacrifice and seek to live in its power. He did not now seek to explain again that the death of Christ was to him as an altar, the point in human thought where always the fire of the divine life descends upon the soul self-offered in like sacrifice. He had tried to explain this; now he tried no more, but he held out his hands with a sign of joy and recovered strength.
“You came to help me; you have prayed for me; you have helped me; you have been given something to say. Listen: you have told me of Abraham; he was called to go out alone, quite alone. Now you have spoken to me of Another who was alone.” Toyner was incoherent. “That was why He bore it, that we might know that it was possible to have faith all alone because He had it. It is easy to believe in God holding us up when others do, but awfully hard all alone. He knew that, He warned them to keep together; but all the same He lived out His prayers alone.”
Toyner looked at the preacher, love and reverence in his eyes. “You saved me once,” he said; “you have saved me again.”
But the preacher went home very sorrowful, for he did not believe that Bart Toyner was saved.
The spiritual strength that proceeds from every holy man had again flowed in life-giving stream from the preacher to Bart Toyner. The help was adequate. Toyner never became intoxicated again.