Posts Tagged ‘hymn writer william patton mackay’

The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland

April 16, 2018

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It is lovely in this era to still get an old-fashioned hand-written letter from someone. I occasionally get correspondence like this from people that I have never even met – people who are a wonderful encouragement to me! There is a retired lady, a widow, who writes to me, sometimes enclosing little tracts. I felt led to share the following true story in tract form which I have just received from her in the post…

William Patton MacKay left his home in Scotland to attend college at the age of 17. His mother gave him a Bible, writing her name, his name, and a verse of Scripture on the fly leaf. He graduated with high honours and became the head of a large hospital. He also became the head of a club of infidels where they practiced everything that was licentious and vile. He was open in his ridicule of God and the Bible. Two of his chief pleasures in life were confronting critical medical cases and drinking.

One day the ambulance brought in a man who had been horribly crushed. On his face, however, was a look of calm and peace so pronounced that it amazed Dr. MacKay, who was accustomed to seeing people suffer. With a smile the patient asked what the verdict was.

“Oh, I guess we will pull you through and fix you up.” replied the doctor.

“No, Doctor, I don’t want any guess,” said the man. “I want to know if it is life or death. Just lay me down easy anywhere, Doctor, I am ready. I am saved and am not afraid to die.” With a radiant face he continued, “I know I am going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6v37), and I have come and accepted Him as my personal Saviour. But I want the truth. Just what is my condition?”

The doctor replied: “You have at the most three hours to live.” The doctor was touched, and thinking there might be relatives to notify asked, “Is there anything you would like to have us do for you?”

Thanking him, the injured man replied: “In one of my pockets is a two weeks’ pay cheque. If you can get it, I wish you would send it at once to my landlady, and ask her to send me the Book.”

“What book?” inquired the doctor. “Oh, just the Book,” the man answered. “She will know.”

Dr. MacKay arranged for the man’s request to be cared for, and then started on his rounds through the hospital. These words kept ringing through his ears: “I am ready, Doctor. Just lay me down easy, anywhere, Doctor, I am ready.”

Dr. MacKay had never been known to inquire about a patient from any personal interest, but for the first time in his life he wanted to know how this one was getting along. He returned to the ward where the man had been placed, and seeing the nurse whom he had assigned to the case, inquired as to his condition.

“He died just a few minutes ago,” the nurse informed him.

“Did the Book get here?” asked the doctor.

“Yes it arrived shortly before he died,” the nurse answered.

“What was it? asked Dr. MacKay, “his bank-book?”

“No, it wasn’t his bank-book,” replied the nurse. “It is still there, though, If you care to look at it. He died with it under his pillow.”

Dr. MacKay went to the bedside, reached under the sheet and drew a Bible from under the pillow. As he did so the Bible opened and the pages turned over to the flyleaf. There in his mother’s handwriting was Dr. Mackay’s name, his mother’s name and a verse of Scripture. It was the very Bible given to him by his mother when he left home to attend college. Long ago in a drunken spree, he had pawned it to obtain more liquor.

Dr. Mackay slipped the Book under his coat and rushed upstairs to his private office. He asked God to have mercy upon him and in repentance accepted Christ as his Saviour. He was heard; “his blind eyes opened on a sweet new world.” The old things had passed away, and he realized he was a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2Corinthians 5v17)

Dr. Mackay, the physician, became Dr. Mackay the preacher; and as a preacher of the Gospel, he turned many to the Lord.

Just as God had His eye on that Bible and on W.P. Mackay and had determined that they should meet again, so he has his eye on you, dear reader. ‘The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ Hebrews 4v12

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I would also like to add that Dr. W.P. MacKay (1839-1885) became a renowned hymn writer. Some of his hymns include “Memories of Earth,” “We take the Guilty Sinner’s Name” and “Worthy is the Lamb!” “Revive us Again” is the one which is best known today. This amazing story gives us such hope, for the same Lord who answered W.P. MacKay’s mother’s prayers for her son is at work in answered prayer to our own situations today!