There are some who reject Christianity because it seems to them incredible that God would have taken so much trouble, as the New Testament represents him to have done, for the salvation of creatures so infinitely beneath Him as we are. They forget that the New Testament teaches also that God is our Father. That being true, I declare to you that it is not surprising that God made such sacrifice to save us. Even a man will not permit a child to perish -- any child, it need not be his own without putting forth mighty effort to save it.
One fact is worth a dozen arguments; and I will therefore ask you to listen to a humble man, as he relates an incident in his otherwise uneventful life. For a little while imagine yourself to be seated around the table of an American boardinghouse, where the inmates are spending an hour or two in the evening relating the more remarkable events that have occurred to them; imagine that you are listening to one of the guests there, instead of to me.
My name is Anthony Hunt. I am a drover, and I live many miles away upon the western prairie. There wasn’t a house in sight when we moved there, my wife and I and now we haven’t many neighbors, though those we have are good men.
One day about ten years ago, I went away from home to sell some fifty head of cattle --fine creatures as ever I saw. I was to buy some groceries and dry goods before I came back and, above all, a doll for our youngest child, Dolly (she never had a shop doll of her own, only the rag-babies her mother made her). Dolly could talk of nothing else, and went down to the very gate to call after me to “buy a big one.”
Nobody but a parent can understand how my mind was on that toy, and how, when the cattle were sold, the first thing I started off to buy was Dolly’s doll. I found a large one, with eyes that would open and shut when you pulled a wire, and had it wrapped up in paper, and tucked it under my arm while I had the parcels of calico, and delaine, and tea, and sugar put up. It might have been more prudent to have stayed until the morning, but I felt anxious to get back, and eager to hear Dolly’s prattle about the doll she was so eagerly expecting.
I mounted a steady-going old horse of mine and, pretty well loaded, started for home. Night set in before I was a mile from town, and settled down dark as pitch while I was in the midst of the wildest bit of road I know of. I could have felt my way through, I remembered it so well, and it was almost like doing that when the storm that had been brewing broke, and the rain fell in torrents. I was five, or may be six miles from home, too.
I rode on as fast as I could; but suddenly I heard a little cry, like a child’s voice. I stopped short and listened. I heard it again; I called, and it answered me. I couldn’t see a thing; all was dark as pitch. I got down and felt about in the grass; called again, and again was answered.
Then I began to wonder. I’m not timid; but I was known to be a drover, and to have money about me. I thought it might be a trap to catch me, and there to rob and murder me. I am not superstitious -- not very -- but how could a real child be out on the prairie in such a night at such an hour? It might be more than human. The bit of coward that hides itself in most men showed itself to me then, and I was half inclined to run away.
But once more I heard that piteous cry, and, said I: “If any man’s child is hereabouts, Anthony Hunt is not the man to let it lie here and die.”
I searched again. At last I bethought me of a hollow under the hill, and groped that way. Sure enough, I found a little dripping thing, that moaned and sobbed as I took it in my arms. I called my horse, and he came to me, and I mounted, and tucked the little soaked thing under my coat as best I could, promising to take it home to mamma.
It seemed tired to death, and soon cried itself to sleep against my bosom. It had slept there over an hour when I saw my own windows. There were lights in them, and I supposed my wife had lit them for my sake; but when I got into the dooryard, I saw something was the matter, and stood still with dead fear of heart five minutes before I could lift the latch. At last I did it, and saw the room full of neighbors, and my wife amid them weeping. When she saw me she hid her face.
"Oh, don’t tell him," she said; "it will kill him."
“What is it, neighbors?" I cried.
And one said: “Nothing now, I hope. What’s that in your arms?”
“A poor lost child,” said I. “I found it on the road. "Take it, will you? I’ve turned faint.” And I lifted the sleeping thing, and saw the face of my own child, my little Dolly. It was my darling, and no other, that I had picked up on the drenched road. My little child had wandered out to meet papa and the doll, while her mother was at work, and for her they were lamenting as for one dead.
I thanked God on my knees before them all.
It is not much of a story, neighbors; but I think of it often in the nights, and wonder how I could bear to live now, if I had not stopped when I heard the cry for help upon the road the little baby-cry, hardly louder than a squirrel’s chirp.
Is God less pitiful than man? Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Did you notice the last sentence in that man’s story? “It is not much of a story, neighbors; but I think of it often in the nights, and wonder how I could bear to live now if I had not stopped when I heard that cry for help upon the road -- that little baby cry, hardly louder than a squirrel’s chirp.”
To me that sentence explains the whole story of redemption. That man’s love for his child was such that life would have been intolerable to him had he failed to save her.
Sinner! God the Father listened to the cry for help, the piteous wail of misery that ascended to Him from His lost children; and he sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost.
For, be it remembered, He knew not merely that certain children were perishing, but that they were His children.
- Homiletic Cyclopedia
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893