THE FIRST SERMON
Mr. Dallas was inducted to the living of Yardley on the 22nd of September, 1827. The following little incident afforded him much comfort and encouragement:Â—
One Sunday morning, on his way to Church, he heard a man running after him, and as he seemed to stop to take breath, Mr. Dallas slackened his pace, and when the man overtook him thus addressed him: “How do you do, my friend; are you going to Church?” “Yes Sir; are you the gentleman who is to preach today at Yardley Church?” “Yes, my friend.” “Then you are Mr. Dallas?” “Yes,” “May God bless you, Sir. I got up at five this morning on purpose to pray for you.” Mr. Dallas was startled, and wished to know more of the old man. “Do you remember a sermon you preached here a few weeks ago from Romans 8. I?” “Yes,” “Well, Sir, next to the saving of my soul, that sermon was the greatest blessing I received in my life.”
He then proceeded. “Fourteen years ago it pleased God to awaken my mind to true religion, but I was alone. My wife, children, and friends rebuked me, and turned me into ridicule; but all I did was to pray earnestly for them, and never revile again. The Sunday on which you preached I was full of your sermon, that when I got home, contrary to my habit, I talked of it. My only daughter was always the most bitter against me, and she began to rebuke me and call me a rank Methodist. ‘Oh!’ said she, ‘we shall have you more Methodist than ever now this new parson is come, who seems to be a bigger one than yourself. You had better look to yourself, and not come and preach to us like a Pharisee.’ Well, Sir, I went into my room, and there I was a long time praying and looking into my own heart. I then came downstairs much happier, and talked of the sermon again till bedtime. The next evening, while at work in the fields, I was sent for by my daughter, who had been taken ill, and wished to beg my pardon for all her abuse to me the day before. I talked to her as well as I could, and presently she said, ‘Well, father, and what did the minister say?’ I had been thinking so much about the sermon, that I preached it over again to her. It had a great effect upon her. Sir. She felt she was not in Christ, therefore there must be condemnation for her. She was in a state of despair for three weeks. At the end of that time it pleased God to give her some comfort and peace. She sent for a good man, the conductor of a prayer-meeting, a person whom she had always set herself against, to sooth her restless nights. She called in her neighbours, and told them what great things God had done for her
soul She grew in grace daily, and five weeks from the beginning of her illness she died, believing, rejoicing, and praising her blessed Lord. This, Sir, was God’s blessing upon your first sermon.”
Extracted from the memoir of Alexander Dallas, 1791-1869.