"Incidents" Used By A. B. Earle In His Meetings
By A. B. Earle

Absalom Backus Earle (1812-1895) American evangelist. A.B. Earle was born in Charlton, New York. He was converted at the age of 16 and began to preach two years later. The next three years were spent in study and preaching, until, at the age of 21, he was ordained at Amsterdam, New York. After pastoring there for five years, Earle felt led of the Lord to enter the evangelistic ministry. Fifty-eight years of his life were spent in holding meetings in the United States, every state, and Canada. He compiled the following statistics: Number of series of meetings: 960; Number of services: 39,330; Miles traveled: 370,000; Total amount received for 64 years of ministry: $65,520.00; Conversions to Christ: 160,000; Men entering the ministry: 400. Earle authored the following books: Bringing in the Sheaves, Abiding Peace, Rest of Faith, The Human Will, The Work of an Evangelist, Evidences of Conversion, and Winning Souls. He died at his home in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 30, 1895, at the age of 83. (biographical info found at www.believersweb.org)



I was just sitting down at my own table, at twelve o'clock, one day, when one of my neighbors came in greatly excited, and said to me:

"I wish you would go over to my house as soon as you can. I fear my son Charles is dying, and I desire very much to know how he feels."

I did not stay to dine, but hurried to the house, and it was well I did for the young man was dead in thirty minutes after I reached the house.

I found him sitting in a large arm rocking chair, dying with a putrid sore throat. He could breathe easier in that position. I saw that death was upon him, and if I said anything to him I must do it at once. I very mildly asked him this question:

"Charley, if it should please your Heavenly Father to call you away pretty soon, do you think you have a good hope?"

He struggled with this terrible disease (the putrid sore throat) for a moment, determined to let me know how he felt, and finally got out these words:

"Won't you pray that God will have mercy on my soul?"

I said, "I will Charles."

After a few words pointing out the way to Christ (for I had to be very brief, death was doing his work so rapidly) I said to the neighbors in the room:

"Will you all kneel down with me whether you are Christians or not, and help me pray for this dear young man."

They did kneel down with me, and oh, how we begged of God for Christ's sake to save Charles if possible, even in this extremity; to pluck him as a brand from the burning. We could hear his strange voice during the prayer:

"O God, have mercy on my soul."

When we rose from our knees, his sobbing mother put her arms around his neck and her wet face upon his, bathing it with her tears, as if to get the comforting words, said:

"Charles, don't you think you will meet us in heaven?"

His reply was, "No, mother, I've no hope."

Turning his dying eyes on me, he said:

"Won't you pray that God will have mercy on my soul."

Although I had just risen from my knees, I said:

"I will Charley. Come neighbors, kneel down with me again and help me pray."

Oh, what a moment it was, while we plead once more that if possible, God would save Charley.

When we arose from our knees the second time, death was so near that I assisted in laying him upon the bed. While we stood over him in his death struggles, his poor mother, said:

"Let me come, I must speak to him once more."

She spread her arms over him, putting her wet face upon his again as if determined to get the comforting words, and said:

"Charles, don't you think you will meet us in heaven?"

"No, mother, no, I've no hope."

These were the last words that dropped from his lips. He gasped a few times, and was gone. May God save any of you from witnessing such a scene.

The family threw their arms around each other and sobbed aloud. When I tried to speak a word of comfort to them, they cried:

"No sir, we can't have it so."

But it was so. I think they continued this sobbing for a full half hour. When they became calm enough so that I could, I kneeled and prayed with them, and for them, that God would sustain and comfort them.

As I left that house, and went towards my home, and looked up into the open heavens, I said:

"Jesus, I will be a better minister; wherever I go I will plead with young men, to seek thee while they may."

I do intreat every one who may read this incident, if you have not already done it, not to delay one hour in securing the salvation of your soul.

The Spirit calls to-day,
Yield to his power,
Oh, grieve him not away,
Tis mercy's hour."


At the close of a series of meetings in Springfield, Mass., a mother handed me a little girl's picture wrapped in two one-dollar bills, at the same time relating the following touching incident:

Her only child, at the age of six years, gave her heart to the Saviour, giving, as the pastor with whom I was laboring said, the clearest evidence of conversion.

At once she went to her mother and said, "Ma, I have given my heart to Jesus and he has received me; now, won't you give your heart to him?" (The parents were both unconverted at the time). The mother replied, "I hope I shall some time, dear Mary." The little girl said, "Do it now, ma," and urged the mother, with all her childlike earnestness, to give herself to the Saviour then.

Finding she could not prevail in that way, she sought to secure a promise from her mother, feeling sure she would do what she promised; for her parents had made it a point never to make her a promise without carefully fulfilling it. So time after time she would say, "Promise me, ma;" and the mother would reply, "I do not like to promise you, Mary, for fear I shall not fulfill."

This request was urged at times for nearly six years, and finally the little petitioner had to die to secure the promise.

Several times during her sickness the parents came to her bedside to see her die, saying to her "You are dying now, dear Mary." But she would say, "No, ma, I can't die till you promise me." Still her mother was unwilling to make the promise, lest it should not be kept. She intended to give her heart to Jesus some time, but was unwilling to do it "now."

Mary grew worse, and finally had uttered her last word on earth: her mother was never, again to hear that earnest entreaty, "Promise me, ma."

But the little one's spirit lingered, as if it were detained by the angel sent to lead her mother to Jesus, that the long-sought promise might be heard before it took its flight.

The weeping mother stood watching the countenance of the dying child, who seemed to say, by her look, "Ma, promise me, and let me go to Jesus." There was a great struggle in her heart as she said to herself, "Why do I not promise this child? I mean to give my heart to Jesus; why not now? If I do not promise her now, I never can."

The Spirit inclined her heart to yield. She roused her child, and said, "Mary, I will give my heart to Jesus." This was the last bolt to be drawn; her heart was now open, and Jesus entered at once, and she felt the joy and peace of sins forgiven.

This change was so marked, she felt constrained to tell the good news to her child, that she might bear it with her when she went to live with Jesus; so, calling her attention once more, she said, "Mary, I have given my heart to Jesus, and he is my Saviour now."

For six years Mary had been praying to God and pleading with her mother for these words; and now, as they fell upon her ear, a peaceful smile lighted up her face, and, no longer able to speak, she raised her little, pale hand, and pointing upward, seemed to say, "Ma, we shall meet up there." Her life's work was done, and her spirit returned to Him who gave it.

The mother's heart was full of peace, though her loved one had gone. She now felt very anxious that her husband should have this blessing which she found in Christ.

The parents went into the room where the remains were resting, to look upon the face of her who slept so sweetly in death, when the mother said, "Husband, I promised our little Mary that I would give my heart to Jesus, and he has received me. Now, won't you promise?"

The Holy Spirit was there. The strong man resisted for a while, then yielded his will, and taking the little cold hand in his, kneeled and said, "Jesus, I will try to seek thee."

The child's remains were laid in the grave. The parents were found in the house of prayer- the mother happy in Jesus, and the father soon having some evidence of love to Christ.

When I closed my labors in Springfield, Dr. Ide said to his congregation, "I hope you will all give brother Earle some token of your regard for his services before he leaves. As this mother heard these words, she said she could, as it were, see her little Mary's hand pointing down from heaven, and hear her sweet voice saying, "Ma, give him my two one-dollars."

Those two one-dollars I have now, wrapped around the picture of that dear child, and wherever I go, little Mary will speak for the Saviour.

Reader, is there not some loved one now pointing down from heaven and saying to you, "Give your heart to Jesus?" Are you loving some earthly object more than Jesus? God may sever that tie -may take away your little Mary, or Willie, or some dear friend. Will you not come to Jesus, without such a warning?


I once asked a lady whose character seemed as spotless as it is possible to be in this life, who said she had always enjoyed secret prayer, if there was a friend in the world whose society she enjoyed when she wanted nothing of that friend except to be in his presence, no personal or selfish end in view, nothing wanted except to enjoy being in his society. She said:

"There is just such a friend, in whose society and presence I spend hours of the greatest pleasure, simply because I love him."

I inquired if she felt the same or equal pleasure in the closet or in communion with God; whether she had seasons for secret praise to God, when nothing was wanted except to be in his presence, to praise him for his purity and holiness.

She replied:

"I see my heart, sir. I see myself a lost sinner. My pleasure in prayer has been all selfishness, no love for holiness. Although I have lived a moral life, and enjoyed secret prayer, it has been only when I wanted some favor from God, not because I loved his purity, and desired to be in his presence. I see that my heart has been dead in its affections towards God all this time; 1 see the need of being born again, of a new heart."

I have seldom seen a more earnest seeker than this lady. It was not a change in her outward life she sought, -this was apparently without blemish, -but a change in her affections toward the holiness of God.

There is nothing in our fallen nature, which, if cultivated in the best possible manner, would bring our hearts, or affections, into union with holiness and purity. If unregenerate men were taken into heaven itself, and if it were possible to live in the society of the pure and the holy for ages, even this would not bring love to God and holiness into the soul. "Ye must be born again," would still remain true. Being in heaven among the redeemed would not bring life into the dead affections.

I heard of a man who was a profane swearer, a rejecter of offered mercy, who could not sleep until he had repeated aloud the prayer his mother taught him when a child, "Now I lay me down to sleep."

Having repeated this simple prayer, he was so far satisfied that he could go quietly to sleep. if we were in the habit of going to a rich man for favors; even if we really disliked him, yet, if he received us kindly, and granted our requests, we should feel a kind of satisfaction in going for those favors, although we had no love for the man. So we may find a certain satisfaction in prayer, a degree of pleasure, it may be, in going to God for what we think we want.

This is a very different thing from feeling a real pleasure in simply being in God's presence to praise him for his holiness and purity, when we want nothing in particular, to have seasons for secret praise.

Let me ask the reader whether [the pleasure you feel in secret prayer is only when you want something in particular of him, and so may be entirely selfish pleasure, or do you, at least, have seasons when you want simply to praise God for his purity and holiness, finding real pleasure in being in his presence, because you love him?


The most effectual, unanswerable argument with which to meet infidelity is intense desire for men's salvation, or, as Paul. expresses it, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."

Infidelity stands trembling in the presence of soul-travail. It is an unanswerable argument.

An incident occurred a number of years ago that illustrates the real power of this argument. A man of great ability and reading supposed himself invulnerable to any argument Christians could bring in favor of Christianity. Able ministers had endeavored to convince him, but he would laugh them down. A very able, pious lawyer had been sent to reason with him, but it was all of no avail, until a humble Christian satisfied him he was "greatly concerned for his salvation."

I will give his experience in his own language, as related by himself in a prayer-meeting:

"I stand," said Mr. R___, "to tell you the story of my conversion."

His lips trembled slightly as he spoke, and his bosom heaved with suppressed emotion.

"I am as a brand plucked out of the burning. The change in me is an astonishment to myself, and all brought about by the grace of God and that unanswerable argument. It was a cold morning in January, and I had just begun my labor at the anvil in my shop, when I looked out, and saw Mr. B____ approaching. He dismounted quickly, and entered.

"As he drew near, I saw he was agitated. His look was full of earnestness. His eyes were bedimmed with tears. He took me by the hand. His breast heaved with emotion, and with indescribable tenderness he said:

"Mr. R___, I am greatly concerned for your salvation - greatly concerned for your salvation,' and he burst into tears.

"He stood with my hand grasped in his. He struggled to regain self-possession. He often essayed to speak, but not a word could he utter, and finding that he could say no more, he turned, went out of the shop, got on his horse, and rode slowly away.

"'Greatly concerned for my salvation! ' said I, audibly, and I stood, and forgot to bring my hammer down. There I stood with it upraised 'greatly concerned for my salvation!'

"I went to my house. My poor, pious wife, whom I had always ridiculed for her religion, exclaimed:

"'Why, Mr. R___, what is the matter with you?

"'Matter enough,' said I, filled with agony, and overwhelmed with a sense of sin. 'Old Mr. B____ has ridden two miles this cold morning to tell me he was greatly concerned for my salvation. What shall I do? What shall I do?'

"'I do not know what you can do,' said my astonished wife. 'I do not know what better you can do than to get on your horse, and go and see him. He can give you better counsel than I, and tell you what you must do to be saved.'

"I mounted my horse, and pursued after him. I found him alone in that same little room where he had spent the night in prayer for my poor soul, where he had shed many tears over such a reprobate as I, and had besought God to have mercy upon me.

" 'I am come,' said I to him, 'to tell you that I am greatly concerned for my own salvation.'

" 'Praised be God!' said the aged man. It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief,' and he began at that same Scripture, and preached to me Jesus. On that same floor we knelt, and together we prayed, and we did not separate that day till God spoke peace to my soul.

"I have often been requested to look at the evidence of the truth of religion, but, blessed be God, I have evidence.for its truth here," laying his hand upon his heart, "which nothing can gainsay or resist. I have often been led to look at this and that argument for the truth of Christianity; but I could overturn, and, as I thought, completely demolish and annihilate them all. But I stand here, to-night, thankful to acknowledge that God sent an argument to my conscience and heart which could not be answered or resisted, when a weeping Christian came to tell me how greatly concerned he was for my salvation. God taught him that argument when he spent the night before him in prayer for my soul."

If we would lead men to the Saviour, let us satisfy them that we see and feel their danger; that alone before God we are "greatly concerned for their salvation."


A tender incident; one that illustrates the truth of Christ's word, "A little child shall lead them."

A saloon-keeper of considerable note had an only daughter, named Eva. The father almost idolized this child. She was very lovely. He would often take her into his saloon, to show her to his company. His life seemed bound up in this child. He would gratify, as far as possible, every wish of his Eva, of whom he was becoming very proud.

When she was about six years old; a Christian temperance woman came into that place and formed a Children's Temperance Society. Eva was invited to attend the meeting, and became a member. Her father, proud of having her noticed, gave his consent, thinking she was too young to be influenced by what might be said about his business.

The lady conducting the services asked the children to bow their heads while she asked God to bless them. Eva had never heard a prayer before. It seemed very strange to her, and made a lasting impression on her mind.

After returning home, she at once began her lifework, which was to terminate in a few weeks. She went at once to her father, and said:

"Papa, it is wrong to sell rum; it makes people bad."

He was pleased to see that she remembered so much that she had heard in the meeting, and so did not keep her from attending them. Eva, though so young, had evidently given her heart to the Saviour.

A few weeks after giving herself to Christ, she was taken very sick. Her father watched over her day and night with the tenderest care. How could he have the pride and idol of his heart taken away! She would often look up in his face so earnestly, and say:

"Papa, don't sell any more rum, because it is wrong."

Still his saloon was open.

She was fast fading away. Death was about to liberate the soul of little Eva Just then, with her face almost angelic, she looked up in her father's face, and said:
"Papa, dear papa, won't you promise me that you won't sell any more rum?"

The father, almost overcome with emotion, replied:

"Yes, Eva dear, I will promise you anything if you will only get well. How can I live without you!"

She asked him to go and shut up his saloon right away, that she could "tell Jesus what he had done."

He was too much affected to speak, but left the room. In a short time he returned, and said:

"My darling, I have shut up my saloon, so that no one can come in."

He then promised his child he would never sell another drop of liquor, and would throw away all there was in his saloon.

Eva was very happy about her father's decision, and for some time was very quiet. After a while she opened her eyes, and looking about the room, on them all, with her face beaming with the love of Christ, said:

"I am going to live with Jesus very soon, and I do want my papa and mamma there too. Papa, will you promise to give your heart to him and do all he wants you to, and then come and live with him?"

The father was silent. He did not like to promise anything he was not sure he could fulfill. His weeping wife said:

"Oh, George, do grant your dying child's request. I have promised to meet her in heaven, and I want you should."

At last; in broken accents, he said:

"I promise what you wish, my darling child. I will seek your Saviour with all my heart, and serve him the rest of my life, and hope to meet you in heaven."

Eva had accomplished her mission. Her work was ended, and she fell asleep. She went away with the angels to her happy home above, to welcome her father and mother when they come to meet her there.

Why would not these parents come to Jesus without this severe trial? Reader, will it be necessary for God to deal in a similar way with you, to bring you to heaven?

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