Stories Worth Rereading: The Brown Towel

“One who has nothing can give nothing,” said Mrs. Sayers, the sexton’s wife, as the ladies of the sewing society were busily engaged in packing the contents of a large box, destined for a Western missionary.

“A person who has nothing to give must be poor, indeed,” said Mrs. Bell, as she deposited a pair of warm blankets in the already well-filled box.

Mrs. Sayers looked at the last-named speaker with a glance which seemed to say, “You who have never known self-denial cannot feel for me,” and remarked, “You surely think one can be too poor to give?”

“I once thought so, but have learned from experience that no better investment can be made, even from the depths of poverty, than lending to the Lord.”

Seeing the ladies listening attentively to the conversation, Mrs. Bell continued: “Perhaps, as our work is finished, I can do no better than to give you my experience on the subject. It may be the means of showing you that God will reward the cheerful giver.

“During the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was surrounded with wealth; and not until I had been married nine years did I know a want which money could satisfy, or feel the necessity of exertion. Reverses came with fearful suddenness, and before I had recovered from the blow, I found myself the wife of a poor man, with five little children dependent upon our exertions.

“From that hour I lost all thought of anything but care of my family. Late hours and hard work were my portion, and to my unskilled hands it seemed first a bitter lot. My husband strove anxiously to gain a subsistence, and barely succeeded. We changed our place of residence several times, hoping to do better, but without improvement.

“Everything seemed against us. Our well-stocked wardrobe had become so exhausted that I felt justified in absenting myself from the house of God, with my children, for want of suitable apparel. While in this low condition, I went to church one evening, when my poverty-stricken appearance would escape notice, and took my seat near the door. An agent from the West preached, and begged contributions to the home missionary cause. His appeal brought tears to my eyes, and painfully reminded me of my past days of prosperity, when I could give of my abundance to all who called upon me. It never entered my mind that the appeal for assistance in any way concerned me, with my poor children banished from the house of God by poverty, while I could only venture out under the friendly protection of darkness.

“I left the church more submissive to my lot, with a prayer in my heart that those whose consciences had been addressed might respond. I tried in vain to sleep that night. The words of the text, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom,’ seemed continually sounding in my ears. The eloquent entreaty of the speaker to all, however poor, to give a mite to the Lord, and receive the promised blessing, seemed addressed to me. I rose early the next morning, and looked over all my worldly goods in search of something worth bestowing, but in vain; the promised blessing seemed beyond my reach.

“Hearing that the ladies of the church had filled a box for the missionary’s family, I made one more effort to spare something. All was poor and thread-bare. What should I do? At last I thought of my towels. I had six, of coarse brown linen, but little worn. They seemed a scanty supply for a family of seven; and yet I took one from the number, and, putting it into my pocket, hastened to the house where the box was kept, and quietly slipped it in. I returned home with a light heart, feeling that my Saviour’s eye had seen my sacrifice, and would bless my effort.

“From that day success attended all my husband’s efforts in business. In a few months our means increased so that we were able to attend church and send our children to Sabbath-school, and before ten years had passed, our former prosperity had returned fourfold. ‘Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,’ had been given us.

“It may seem superstitious to you, my dear friends, but we date all our success in life to God’s blessing, following that humble gift out of deep poverty. He may not always think best to reward so signally those who give to him, but he is never unmindful of the humblest gift or giver. Wonder not that from that day I deem few too poor to give, and that I am a firm believer in God’s promise that he will repay with interest, even in this life, all we lend to him.”

Glances of deep interest, unmixed with envy, were cast from the windows at Mrs. Bell, as, after bidding the ladies adieu, she stepped into her carriage. Her consistent benevolence had proved to all that in her prosperity she retained the same Christian spirit which, in her days of poverty, had led to the bestowal of the brown towel.

“Well,” exclaimed Mrs. Sayers, “if we all had such a self-denying spirit, we might fill another box at once. I will never again think that I am too poor to give.”

Our Young Folks.