A Remarkable Decision By A Jury.
"In one of our northern cities, a trial at law took place between a
Christian and an infidel. The latter had sued the former for a heavy
sum, falsely alleging his promise to pay it for some stocks which he
claimed to have sold him. The Christian admitted AN OFFER of the stock,
but protested that so far from promising the sum demanded, he had
steadily refused to make any trade whatever with the plaintiff. Each of
the parties to the suit had a friend who fully corroborated their
assertions. Thus the case went before the jury for decision.
"The charge of the judge was stern and significant. 'It was a grave and
most painful task which devolved upon him to instruct the jurors that
one of the parties before them must be guilty of deliberate and willful
perjury. Their statements were wholly irreconcilable with each other;
nay more, were diametrically opposite; and that either were innocently
mistaken in their assertions was impossible.
"'Your verdict, gentlemen,' he said in conclusion, 'must decide upon
which side this awful and heaven-daring iniquity belongs. The God of
truth help you to find the truth, that the innocent suffer not.'
"It was late in the day when the judge's charge was given, and the
finding of the jury was to be rendered in the morning. The plaintiff
went carelessly from the court arm in arm with the wicked associate whom
he had bribed to swear falsely on his behalf. The defendant and his
friend walked away together in painful silence. When the Christian
reached his home, he told his family of the judge's solemn charge and of
the grave responsibility which rested upon the jurors. 'They are to
decide which of us has perjured ourselves on this trial,' he said; 'and
how terrible a thing for me if they should be mistaken in their
judgment. There is so little of any thing tangible for their decision to
rest upon, that it seems to me as if a breath might blow it either way.
They cannot see our hearts, and I feel as if, only God could enable them
to discern the truth. Let us spend the evening in prayer that he may
give them a clear vision.'"
The twelve jurymen ate their supper in perplexed silence, and were shut
in their room for deliberation and consultation. "I never sat in such a
case before," said the foreman. "The plaintiff and defendant have sworn
point-blank against each other; and how we are to tell which speaks the
truth, I can not see. I should not like to make a mistake in the matter;
it would be a sad affair to convict an innocent man of perjury." Again
there was silence among them, as if each were weighing the case in his
own mind. "_For myself_ I feel as if the truth must be with the
defendant; I am constrained to think that he is an honest man. What say
you, gentlemen?" _Every hand was raised in affirmation of this opinion_.
They were fully persuaded of its truth, and _gave a unanimous verdict
Thus the Christian man was rightfully acquitted, and gave thanks to God,
with a new and stronger confidence in the power of prayer. "Call upon me
in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,"
saith the Lord.
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