A LITTLE PILGRIM
or JESUS paid the Fare.
‘This anecdote has a history, the half of which I cannot tell; it was picked up by an old man in my district, much worn. He read it, and with God’s blessing it did him real good. He read it to a dying woman, and through it she was led to the Saviour.
It came into my hands, and I had it printed and 142,000 copies have already been circulated. Many pleasant letters have been sent to me telling glad tidings of its usefulness. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4. 6) J. Rennie.
One summer’s evening, ere the sun went down,
When city men were hasting from the town
To reach their homes, some near at hand and some afar,
By snorting train, by omnibus or car,
To be beyond the reach of city’s din:-
A tramcar stopped, a little girl got in,
A cheery looking girl, scarce four years old;
Although not shy, her manners were not bold.
But all alone, and scarce could understand,
She held a little bundle in her hand,
A tiny handkerchief with corners tied,
But which did not some bread and butter hide.
A satin scarf, so natty and so neat,
Was o’er her shoulders thrown, she took her seat,
And laid her bundle underneath her arm.
And smiling prettily, but yet so calm,
she to the porter said “May I sit here?”
He answered instantly, “O yes my dear”, ‘
And there she seemed inclined to make her stay,
While once again the tram went on its way.
The tall conductor – over six feet high –
Now scanned the traveller with a business eye.
But in that eye was something kind and mild,
That took good notice of the little child.
A little after, and the man went round
And soon was heard the old familiar sound
Of gathering pence, and clipping tickets too;
The tram was crowded, and he had much to do,
‘Your fare, my little girl” at length he said;
She looked a moment, then shook her little head.
‘I have no pennies, don’t you know?” said she,
“My fare is paid, and Jesus paid for me.”
He looked bewildered, – all the people smiled,
“I didn’t know, and who is Jesus, child?”
‘Why, don’t you know. He once for sinners died,
For little children, and for men besides,
To make us good and wash us from our sin,
Is this His railway I am travelling in?
“Don’t think it is, I want your fare, you know.”
“I told you JESUS paid it long ago.
Why mother told me just before she died,
That Jesus paid when He was crucified,
That at His cross His railway did begin
Which took poor sinners from a world of sin.
My mother said His home was grand and fair,
I want to go to heaven where Jesus lives,
Won’t you go, too? My mother says He gives
A loving welcome – shall we not be late?
O, let us go before He shuts the gate.
He bids us little children come to Him.”
The poor conductor’s eyes felt rather dim,
He knew not why, he fumbled in his coat
And felt a substance rising in his throat.
The people listened to the little child.
Some were in tears, the roughest only smiled.
And someone whispered as they looked amazed,
‘Out of the mouth of babes the Lord is praised”;
“I am a little pilgrim”, said the little thing,
I’m going to heaven: my mother used to sing
To me of Jesus and His Father’s love,
Told me to meet her in His home above.
And so today, when Aunt went out to tea,
And looking out I could not father see,
I got my bundle, kissed my little kit,
(I am so hungry; won’t you have a little bit)
And got my hat, and then I left my home
A little pilgrim up to heaven to roam;
And then your carriage stopped, and I could see
You looked so kind, I saw you beckon me –
I thought you must belong to Jesus’ train.
And are you just going home to heaven again?”
The poor conductor only shook his head
Tears in his eyes, the power of speech had fled.
Had conscience, by her prattle, roused his fears,
And struck upon the fountain of his tears,
And made his thoughts in sad confusion whirl?
At last he said, “Once I ‘d a little girl,
I loved her much, she was my little pet,
And with great fondness I remember yet,
How much she loved me, but one day she died”.
“She’s gone to heaven”, the little girl replied,
“She’s gone to Jesus, Jesus paid her fare,
Oh, dear conductor, won’t you meet her there?”
The poor conductor now broke fairly down.
He could have borne the hardest look or frown,
But no-one laughed, but many sitting by,
Beheld the scene with sympathetic eye.
He kissed the child, for she his heart had won.
“I am so sleepy”, said the little one,
“If you will let me, I’ll lie here and wait
Until your carriage comes to Jesus’ gate.
Be sure you wake me up and pull my frock,
And at the gate, give just one little knock.
And you’ll see Jesus there.” The strong man wept.
I could but think as from the car I stepped,
How oft a little one has found the road,
The narrow pathway to that blest abode,
Through faith in Christ has read its title clear,
While learned men remain in doubt and fear,
A little child! The Lord oft uses such
To break or bend, the stoutest heart to touch.
Then by His Spirit bids the conflict cease,
And once for ever enter into peace;
And then along the road the news we hear,
“We’re going to heaven – that Jesus paid the fare.”
E. C. Jewett. N.Y.