H., the Cobbler

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
On a fine summer's evening, as crowds were passing along the streets to hear the music at Altona, a shoemaker was cobbling his shoe beneath an awning near his door. Above his head was a starling, which sang and chattered and seemed to keep a busy talk with its kind-hearted possessor. H. would say half aloud,
"You are a happy bird, and well provided for, and why should not I be a happy Christian with such mercies?" and so he would begin to sing one of the fine old hymns.
While thus engaged on the said evening, hardly looking up from the sole of the large shoe before him, and heedless of the crowded street, a young man who was passing by stopped and addressed him, saying,
"Well, friend,—beg pardon—but you seem a merry fellow!" The person who thus spake had the look and dress of a student. H. looked up, and replied with a cheerful voice,
"Merry! to be sure I am; and why should I not be so?"
"All are not so!" replied the student, with a sigh. "Why should you not? Your own poverty might afford a sufficient cause for sadness. But you have no one, I suppose, to take care of but the bird up there, who seems, by the way, to be as jolly as yourself!"
"And why should he not be merry, my little speckled-breast?" said H. chirruping to his bird. "But he is not all my family, young man, for I have a wife and seven children to provide for with these hands; but see, I can sing at my work!"
The student was silent, and began to think how, in spite of having youth and health on his side, with fair prospects of success in the world, he yet had no peace with God, and knew not Jesus Christ! He was a Jew, and felt that for his soul, old things had passed away, but nothing had as yet become new! And so, while on his way to seek some repose from the music in the public gardens, he was arrested by the busy and happy cobbler, and by a sudden impulse was induced to address him, in order to discover from what source one so poor, and yet so contented, drew his happiness.
Again resuming the conversation, he said,
"I confess, friend, I am surprised to see a poor artisan like you so cheerful."
"Poor!" exclaimed H. "how do you know, my friend, how my account stands with the bank? Poor! I am richer than you know."
"It may be—it may be," said the student, with a smile; "I must have heard, though I have forgotten your name, in the Exchange, or when in the bank."
"Enough," said H. "you have confessed your ignorance of me!" and then stopping his work, laying his hand on the student's arm, and looking at him earnestly, he said calmly,
"Stranger, I am not poor. Don't pity me: envy me, for I am a child of God!"
The student started, made a low bow, and departed.
"Poor fellow, poor fellow!" he muttered to himself. "And are you happy only because you are mad? I have sought strength and comfort at your mouth in vain."
A week passed, and again the student traversed the same street, and there, in the old place, was H. busy as ever. The student, as he passed, took off his cap, and said,
"Good evening to your royal highness!"
"Halt, friend," said H. with a cheerful but firm voice, "and come here for a few minutes. I am glad I have seen you again. You left me abruptly the other evening. I suppose you thought me mad. But I am not, but in sober earnest. I tell you again I am a child of God, and when you interrupted me, I was singing a song about Him. Would you like to hear it?"
"Surely, if it please your royal highness," replied the student, with a benevolent smile, and anxious to gratify his strange acquaintance, whose insanity he never doubted. H. having provided a seat for the young man, began to sing a hymn on "Thy Kingdom Come," and when it was finished, perceiving that it was listened to with apparently deep interest, he asked if he understood its meaning.
The Jew shook his head, upon which H. proceeded to explain all he knew about Jesus Christ, and His glory. Beginning with the promise uttered in Eden, of One who should bruise the serpent's head, he pointed out the growth of prophecy from age to age, showing how "all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and the prophets and the Psalms concerning Christ"; how it "behoved the Messiah to suffer, and to enter into His glory; how all power was now given Him; how He was to establish on earth a universal kingdom, 'never to be moved,' which embraced Jew and Gentile in one citizenship; and how every believer in Him was a son and heir, yea, a `joint-heir' with Christ, and would `reign with Him for ever and ever!'" Rom. 8:16, 1716The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16‑17).
As old H. expatiated on these promises, his work was laid aside, his eye beamed with love and hope, and deep feeling gave eloquence and grace to his language. The Jew sat at his feet, gazing up to him with his full black eye, and so absorbed by all he heard for the first time in his life, of the promise made of old, unto his fathers, that he was roused from his waking dream only by H. taking him by the shoulder, and saying,
"Now you see how I am a child of God, and why I am happy, for I know and love this Jesus, and all things are mine. Young man," he asked with emphasis, "believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest! For, unless I mistake thy countenance greatly, thy fathers did; and thou, my son, believing in them, must also believe in Him whom they have foretold, and whom God hath sent to perform the mercy promised to thy fathers."
The Jew was silent. Unutterable thoughts passed through his mind.
"Where," he asked meekly, "can I learn more of this?"
"From this Book," said H. handing him a Bible. "Go home, and read there, and return it to me when you have studied the passages I shall point out to you. And while you are doing this, I shall pray for you, and ask One for you, whom as yet you know not, but who knows you, and who is greater than Moses or Solomon!"
The young man grasped H. by the hand, and taking off his cap, made a respectful bow and departed.
The young Jew has been for many years an eminent and successful Christian missionary to his brethren. He found the One, of whom the prophets wrote, to be his Savior.
"Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.". Acts 13:38, 3938Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38‑39)