Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Anne Folland, Tom Allen,
and the Project Online Distributed Proofreading
THE PERSONAL TOUCH
J. WILBUR CHAPMAN, D.D.
I. A TESTIMONY
II. A GENERAL PRINCIPLE
III. A POLISHED SHAFT
IV. STARTING RIGHT
V. NO MAN CARED FOR MY SOUL
VI. WINNING THE YOUNG
VII. WINNING AND HOLDING
VIII. A PRACTICAL ILLUSTRATION
IX. WHOSOEVER WILL
X. CONVERSION IS A MIRACLE
XI. A FINAL WORD
If to be a Christian is worth while, then the most ordinary interest in
those with whom we come in contact should prompt us to speak to them of
* * * * *
If the New Testament be true—and we know that it is—who has given us
the right to place the responsibility for soul-winning on other
shoulders than our own?
* * * * *
If they who reject Christ are in danger, is it not strange that we, who
are so sympathetic when the difficulties are physical or temporal,
should apparently be so devoid of interest as to allow our friends and
neighbours and kindred to come into our lives and pass out again
without a word of invitation to accept Christ, to say nothing of
sounding a note of warning because of their peril?
* * * * *
If to-day is the day of salvation, if to-morrow may never come, and if
life is equally uncertain, how can we eat, drink, and be merry when
those who live with us, work with us, walk with us, and love us are
unprepared for eternity because they are unprepared for time?
* * * * *
If Jesus called His disciples to be fishers of men, who gave us the
right to be satisfied with making fishing tackle or pointing the way to
the fishing banks instead of going ourselves to cast out the net until
it be filled?
* * * * *
If Jesus Himself went seeking the lost, if Paul the Apostle was in
agony because his kinsmen, according to the flesh, knew not Christ, why
should we not consider it worth while to go out after the lost until
they are found?
* * * * *
If I am to stand at the judgment seat of Christ to render an account
for the deeds done in the body, what shall I say to Him if my children
are missing, my friends not saved, or if my employer or employee should
miss the way because I have been faithless?
* * * * *
If I wish to be approved at the last, then let me remember that no
intellectual superiority, no eloquence in preaching, no absorption in
business, no shrinking temperament, no spirit of timidity can take the
place of or be an excuse for my not making an honest, sincere, prayerful
effort to win others to Christ by means of the Personal Touch.
I have the very best of reasons for believing in the power of the
personal touch in Christian work, especially as it may be used in the
winning of others to Christ.
My boyhood’s home was in the city of Richmond, in the State of Indiana,
my mother was a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in
the first years of my life in company with my father and the other
children of the household, I attended the church of my mother. When she
was just a little more than thirty-five years of age she was called
home. My father in his youth had been trained as a Presbyterian; many
of his ancestors having belonged to that denomination; therefore it was
quite natural that he should return to the Church of his fathers when
my mother had gone home.
It was thus I became a member of the Presbyterian Church, and my Church
training as a boy after fifteen years of age was in that denomination.
Because of this special interest in both the Church of my father and my
mother, I attended two Sunday Schools. In the morning I was in a class
in the Presbyterian school and in the afternoon was a member of a class
in the Grace Methodist Sunday School, my teacher in the afternoon school
being Mrs C.C. Binckley, a godly woman, the wife of Senator Binckley of
Indiana, through all her life from girlhood, a devout follower of Christ
and a faithful teacher in the Sunday School. Not so very long ago I
heard that she was still teaching in the same school, and I am sure, as
in the olden days, winning boys to Christ.
I fear that I was a thoughtless boy, and yet the impressions made upon
my life in those days by the death of my mother, the teaching of my
father, and the influence of my Sunday School teacher, were such that I
have never been able to get away from them.
One Sunday afternoon a stranger came to address our school—his name I
have never learned; I would give much to find it out. At the close of
his address he made an appeal to the scholars to stand and confess
Christ. I think every boy in my class rose to his feet with the
exception of myself. I found myself reasoning thus: Why should I rise,
my mother was a saint; my father is one of the truest men I know; my
home teaching has been all that a boy could have; I know about Christ
and think I realise His power to save.
While I was thus reasoning, my Sunday School teacher, with tears in her
eyes, leaned around back of the other boys and looking straight at me,
as I turned towards her she said, “Would it not be best for you to
rise?” And when she saw that I still hesitated, she put her hand under
my elbow and lifted me just a little bit, and I stood upon my feet. I
can never describe my emotions. I do not know that that was the time of
my conversion, but I do know that it was the day when one of the most
profound impressions of my life was made upon me. Through all these
years I have never forgotten it, and it was my Sunday School teacher
who influenced me thus to take the stand—it was her personal touch
that gave me courage to rise before the school and confess my Saviour.
In the good providence of God, during my student days, as well as
during the first years of my ministry, I was thrown in contact with men
who knew God, who were being marvellously used by Him, and who seemed
ready and willing to give assistance to one who was just beginning the
journey of life with all its struggles and conflicts ahead of him.
When I was a student attending Lake Forest University, not far from
Chicago, I was very greatly troubled about the matter of assurance. I
heard that Mr Moody was to be in Chicago, and in company with a friend
I went in from Lake Forest to hear him. Five times in a single day I
sat at his feet and drank in the words which fell from his lips. He
thrilled me through and through. I heard him preach his great sermon on
“Sowing and Reaping,” when old Farwell Hall was crowded with young men
many of whom were students like myself.
The impression that Mr Moody made upon me as a Christian young man, was
that I myself was not absolutely sure I was saved. I analysed my
experience and found that sometimes I was more than sure and at other
times dwelt in Doubting Castle. When the great evangelist called for an
after-meeting, I was one of the first to enter the room where he had
indicated he would meet those who were interested, and to my great joy
he came and sat down beside me. He asked me my difficulty and I told
him I was not quite sure that I was saved. He asked me to read John v.
24, and trembling with emotion I read: “Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed
from death unto life.”
He said to me, “Do you believe this?” I said, “Certainly.” He said,
“Are you a Christian?” and I replied, “Sometimes I think I am, and
again I am fearful.” Then he said, “Read it again.” And I read it once
more. His question was again repeated, and I answered it in the same
manner as before. Then he seemed to lose his patience, and the only
time I can remember Mr Moody being sharp with me was when he turned
upon me and said, “Whom are you doubting?” And suddenly it dawned upon
me that I was doubting Him who said I was possessed of everlasting life
because I believed on the Son and on the Father who had sent Him, and
in spite of this possession and His sure Word of promise concerning it,
I was sceptical. But as I sat there beside him I saw it all. Then he
said, “Read it again.” And I read it the third time, and talking to me
as gently as a mother would to her child he said, “Do you believe this?”
I said, “Yes, indeed I do.” Then he said, “Are you a Christian?” And I
answered, “Yes, Mr Moody, I am.” From that day to this I have never
questioned my acceptance with God.
For some reason Mr Moody always seemed to keep me in mind. He came into
my church in the early days of my ministry, told me where he thought I
was wrong and suggested how I might be more greatly used of God. He
advised me to give my time wholly to evangelistic work, and when I said
to him one day that I was going to take up the pastorate after three
years of experience in general evangelism, he seemed disturbed. To him
more than to any other man, I owe the greatest blessing that ever came
into my life.
Through Mr Moody I met the Rev F.B. Meyer, and one sentence which he
used at Northfield changed my ministry. He said, “If you are not
willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made
willing?” That seemed like a new star in the sky of my life, and one day
acting upon his suggestion, after having carefully studied the passages
in the New Testament which relate to surrender and to consecration, I
gave myself anew to Christ and I shall never be able to express in words
my appreciation of what this man of God to whom I have referred, did for
me by personal influence.
All along the way I have been brought in contact with men whom God has