The Prisoner Weeping for his Children

    One day in the inquiry-room, a man about my age came to me, and he said he wanted to see me alone. I took him one side, and he told me a story that would make almost any man weep. He was in a good position, a leading business man of the community. He had a beautiful wife and children. He was ambitious to get rich fast, and in an unguarded moment he forged; and in order to cover up that act he had committed other guilty acts, and he had fled. He was a fugitive from justice, and he said, "I am now in the torments of hell. Here I am; away from my family. A reward has been offered for me in my city. Do you think I ought to go back?" I said, "I don't know. You had better go to God and ask Him about it. I would not like to give you advice." You could hear him sob all over that church. He said, "I will go to my room, and I will come and see you to-morrow at twelve o'clock." The next day he came to me, and he said, "I do not belong to myself; I belong to the law. I have got to go and give myself up. I do not care for myself, but it will disgrace my family, but if I don't I am afraid I will lose my soul." This day I got a letter from him. I think I would like to read it to you. I told some people here of it to-day, and they said, "You ought to take it to Charlestown, and read it to the convicts in the state prison." But I thought I had better read it before I got there. It may keep some man from getting there. Some one here may have just commenced. He may to-morrow commit a forgery and bring sorrow and gloom upon his loved ones. It was only three days ago that I got a letter from a wife and mother, asking me to see her husband. He had committed forgery. The officers came that night and took him. It was a terrible shock to that wife. But let me read the letter. 

                                  JEFFERSON CITY, MO. April 8, 1877.

Mr. Moody: 

    DEAR BROTHER: When I bade you good-by in Farwell hall, you said, "When it is all over, write me." I wrote you in December. I thought then that it would soon be over. [Let me say right here that that letter which came in December drew a picture that has followed me all these days. He said he went to his home. The trial was to come off in another county. He wanted to see his wife, and he went to his home. He did not want his children to know that he was at home, because it might get out among the neighbors, and he wanted to give himself up and not be arrested. Then after his wife had put the children to bed, he would steal into the room, but he could not speak to them or kiss them. Fathers, was not that pretty hard? Would not that be pretty hard? You tell me sin is sweet! There are men with their eyes wide open; no, not with their eyes wide open; they must be closed when men say that sin is sweet. There is that man that loved his children as you love yours, and he did not dare to speak to them.] I wrote you in December, thinking all would soon be over, but the state was not ready to try me, and so I was let out upon bail till April. yesterday my case was disposed of, and I received sentence for nineteen years. [O, how sad; how bitter sin is! May God open the eyes of the blind! Christians, always pray that God may open the eyes of the blind. Christ came for the recovery of sight to the blind. I hope every sinner will get his eyes open and see that sin is bitter and not sweet. The time is coming when you have got to leave this earth.] Now I am in my prison cell, clothed in a convict's garb. It is all over with me. A long term of civil death and absence. [Then there is a long dash. I suppose he could not pen it. Away from that wife and those dear children!] Now I have met the law. Pray for me that I may be sustained with consoling and needed strength. Pray for the loved ones at home; my dear parents, and brothers and sisters, and my dear wife and children——[Another long dash.] And I ask that the attorney that was very kind to me may be prayed for, that he may become a Christian. And if not asking too much, a few words will be gratefully received. Address me in care of penitentiary in Jefferson City, Mo. I pray that your labors may be blessed, and when you preach warn men to beware of the temptation of doing evil that good may come of it; warn them to beware of the ambition for wealth. Prayerfully and tearfully yours.