Mr. Hall shook his head.
“I have brought you one;” and the missionary drew a small Bible from his pocket. “No man is safe without a Bible.”
“Oh, I am glad! I was just wishing for a Bible,” said Hall as he reached out his hand to receive the precious book.
“If you read it every night and morning—if you treasure its holy precepts in your memory, and call them up in times of trial, or when evil enticements are in your way—God can come near to your soul to succor and to save, for the words of the holy book are his words, and he is present in them. If we take them into our thoughts, reverently seeking to obey them, we make a dwelling-place for the Lord, so that he can abide with us; and in his presence there is safety.”
“And nowhere else,” responded Hall, speaking from a deep sense of personal helplessness.
“Nowhere else,” echoed the missionary. “And herein lies the hope or the despair of men. It is pitiful, it is heart-aching, to see the vain but wild and earnest efforts made by the slaves of intemperance to get free from their cruel bondage. Thousands rend their fetters every year after some desperate struggle, and escape. But, alas! how many are captured and taken back into slavery! Appetite springs upon them in some unguarded moment, and in their weakness there is none to succor. They do not go to the Strong for strength, but trust in themselves, and are cast down. Few are ever redeemed from the slavery of intemperance but those who pray to God and humbly seek his aid. And so long as they depend on him, they are safe. He will be as a wall of fire about them.”
As the missionary talked, the face of Mr. Hall underwent a remarkable change. It grew solemn and very thoughtful. His hands drew together and the fingers clasped. At the last words of Mr. Paulding a deep groan came from his heart; and lifting his gaze upward, he cried out,
“Lord, save me, or I perish!”
“Let us pray,” said the missionary, and the two men knelt together, one with bowed head and crouching body, the other with face uplifted, tenderly talking to Him who had come down to the lowliest and the vilest that he might make them pure as the angels, about the poor prodigal now coming back to his Father’s house.
After the prayer, Mr. paulding read a chapter from the Bible aloud, and then, after words of hope and comfort, went away.