Friends Sermon Illustrations

Friends Sermon Illustrations

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Freedom of His Friends

If I become a friend of the Lord, what will be my privilege? Freedom. Is there any freedom like the freedom between two intimate friends? Do you know that the word "friend" comes from the same root as the word "free"? Do you know that "friend" is "freen," the freefolk? Folk, who have the run of the house; or, as Paul would say, "The people who enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God." "My friends;" that is, "my free ones, with the run of the house."—Dr. J. H. Jowett.

In his book Behind the Brass Plate, Dr. A. T. Schofield narrates the interesting story of Maria Vincent and Queen Victoria. Here it is abridged.

In the lifetime of Queen Victoria, Dr. Schofield, a Harley Street physician, was one day visiting, not professionally, a poor street in Paddington—Woodchester Street—and in one of the houses he found Maria Vincent, an old, rather dignified lady seated in her rocking-chair by an empty grate. She was a mere anatomy of skin and bones. A thin shawl was drawn over her shoulders, and she had an indescribable something on her head. The bare room had a bed in the corner, with one blanket. It was mid-October. She was over 70 and had not seen her husband, a jobbing gardener somewhere, for years.

`Well, Mrs. Vincent,' said the doctor, 'a friend told me you were very much alone, and I thought I'd look in for a chat. You ought to have a fire these cold days.'

`I ain't got no money for a fire,' said Maria.

`Well,' said Dr. Schofield, 'winter is coming and you'll never get through it without more warmth and more clothes on your bed. What about your friends? Why don't they help you?' Maria replied that her friends were all dead.

`What?' asked the doctor, 'not one friend alive?'

`Ne'er a one,' she replied, 'there's no one comes next or nigh me.'

`Hasn't the parish doctor seen you?' Maria replied that she didn't hold with doctors.

`What about your neighbors?' asked Dr. Schofield.

‘Lor', sir,' replied Maria, 'I never belonged to the likes of them. I don't know any of their names. I didn't always live in this room.'

Then her visitor left, saying he would call in a week, and telling her to think hard and try to remember some friend who knew her.

Returning the next week, he heard her cough badly and remarked on it. She replied, 'I've got the Browntitus.' Then Dr. Schofield asked her again if she could remember any friend of hers who might still be alive.

`Well,' replied Maria, 'there might be one'. `And who is that?' he asked.

`God!' said she. 'Hasn't he kept me alive these 72 years?'

Her visitor agreed and then asked if she had no earthly friend she could recall. To this Maria replied, `There might be one, but, sir, she's forgotten all about poor Maria.'

`Who is it?' asked the doctor; and Maria replied, 'Queen Victoria.'

Dr. Schofield gasped. Then the old lady told her story.

She had once had a house on South sea Common. The Queen and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, used at that time to go rowing on the river with eight sailors and a young coxswain. One day the coxswain was taken ill and brought into the nearest house, which was Maria's, and she nursed him till he died. Then the Duchess of Kent came soon after to her house with a beautiful white Indian shawl as a present from the Queen, who thanked her for all the care she had taken of the poor fellow, and said Maria was to be sure and let her know anything she wanted. `But, sir,' continued Maria, `she's forgot all about it. She is now an old lady, and has never heard of me, nor have I seen her from that day to this; and her mother, the Duchess, why, she's been dead a very many years.'

Dr. Schofield went home and wrote a letter to the Queen at Balmoral, telling her the story he had heard from Maria Vincent. In a few days he received in reply a beautiful letter from the Queen saying it was all true, and enclosing a postal order for a good many pounds. The doctor went to Maria's house and showed her the Queen's letter which she read slowly. As he read he could see in her face Matheson's `Sunshine through the rain,' as expressed in his wonderful hymn. With the tears streaming down her cheeks and her eyes bright with joy, she exclaimed,

`Oh, sir, she's not forgotten me!'

She saw no postal order: she thought nothing of money, but the thought that her Queen had not forgotten her was too much for her.

`But that isn't all, Maria,' said the doctor, `there's a piece of blue paper the Queen has sent. Can you write your name?'

‘Lor', sir,' she said, 'I'm a scholar; I don't make my mark. I writes my name.' Maria took the order to the Post Office, received a stream of golden sovereigns which made her a richer woman than she had been since her far-off youth, and then went off to a large drapery store to buy things of which she stood badly in need.—A toque of gay satin in the millinery department, hand-sewn boots in the shoe department, a shawl of rainbow colours in the drapery department, and blankets for her bed. Next she ordered coal at the coal merchant's and provisions at the store.

She arrived home followed by a stream of boys with parcels, who had to fight their way through crowds of wondering women who blocked the way to her room.

An Irishwoman volunteered to go to Maria and ask all about what had happened. She said to Maria, 'Yer must have some good friends."Oh, yes, I'm well off for friends,' replied Maria. `Ah!' said the Irishwoman, `that kind gentleman that comes to see you?' `No !' said Maria, with unconcealed delight. `And might I be so bold as to inquire who the friend might be?' The Queen,' said Maria casually, though absolutely bursting with pride. `Oho! Queen Victorier?"Yes,' said Maria, `she and me's old friends.'

Some months later, after a further supply from the Queen, Maria was transformed and looked ten years younger. Then Dr. Schofield learnt from her that she had another friend also, the Empress of the French, whom she had once helped in trouble. The Empress Eugenie had lost her husband while in Christchurch, and Maria Vincent had written her a letter and sent a piece of poetry with it. Dr. Schofield wrote to the Empress and received from her also a confirmatory letter, with a Postal Order for several pounds for Maria. Thus Maria had two earthly friends, one a Queen, the other an Empress, and she wanted for nothing till she left this world to enter the presence of the greatest Friend of all.

Each day He spreads a glorious feast,
And at His table dine
The whole creation, man and beast,
And He's a Friend of mine.

(Prov. 17. 17; 18. 24; John 15. 14, 15).

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