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XVII. THREE FIRES
“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”—Matthew iii. 11.
One night, years ago, I was sitting at my desk in my study late at night, and the work of the day was done. There was a great deal of confusion about my study table, for I had just moved that day, and had not had time to rearrange my papers. The work of the day being done, I fell into a reverie, and as I came out of that reverie I found myself gently waving back and forth in my right hand a little four-page leaflet. I do not know how it got into my hand. I suppose I took it off the table; but I don’t even know how it got on to the table, for I had never seen it before. I looked at that leaflet, and I noticed these words across the top of the leaflet in large print, “Wanted, a Baptism with Fire.” It immediately fastened my attention. I said, “That is precisely what I do want; if there is anybody on this earth that needs fire, it is I,” for I was born, and had grown up cold as an iceberg. So I had the leaflet. There was not much in the leaflet that impressed me, except one text, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire;” and that not only impressed me, it kept ringing in my mind and heart, by day and by night. I could not get away from it: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” The following Saturday evening, when I went to a little gathering for prayer here at my church, I said to the janitor of the church, when the prayer meeting was over. “The promise says, ‘He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’” A sweet smile passed over the janitor’s face, and there was something about his look which made me think, “Well, the janitor seems to know all about it. I wonder if he has got something his pastor has not got.” During the days of the next week, when I sat down in my study, when I walked the streets, that kept ringing in my ears: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.’” Thursday night came, and at the close of my day’s work I knelt down before God, and asked Him for a text or for a subject for Sunday evening’s sermon. A brother from London was going to preach for me in the morning. The only text I could see in the whole Bible was, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” and I said, “Father, I am not to preach on Sunday morning; that is a Sunday morning text, and I don’t preach in the morning. Mr. Inglis is going to preach then.” I generally preach in the morning to Christians, and to the unsaved in the evening. “I want an evening text.” But I could not see anything, but just that one text, “He shall baptize you with the Holy, Ghost and with fire.” “Well,” I said, “Father, if that is the text you want me to preach on, evening or morning, I will preach on it; but I want to know.” Just then there came looming up out of the Bible two other texts, and both of these texts had “fire” in them; and while I was on my knees God just opened the three texts, and I had my sermon. The next Sunday night I went to my church and preached that sermon. When I had finished it I said, “Now all the friends who want to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire to-night, and all who want to be saved, come downstairs.” The rooms downstairs were jammed, and when all who replied to the invitation had found room, I asked all who wanted to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire to go into the kindergarten room, and those who wished to be saved to go into another room, the inquiry room, and the rest to stay where they were. They began to go into both rooms; I went into the kindergarten room, where the people were sitting in the little bits of kindergarten chairs, and so closely packed that I literally had to step over their heads to get to the platform. Oh, what a time we had in that room that night! When I came out I asked my assistant, who was in charge of the inquiry room, what sort of a time he had had, and he said, “The Spirit of God was there, and many people came out into the light.” I asked Professor Towner, the choir-master, who was left in charge of the third meeting, composed of those who had not entered either of the two rooms, and he said, “We had no meeting at all; I could not say a word; the people got right down on their knees before God and talked to Him.” I hope God will bless the Word the same way to-night. I believe He will.
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