Henry Clay Was Not Sleepy
Henry Clay, the great American statesman and orator, once lodged overnight at a humble cabin in his native state of Kentucky. The family was in the habit of holding worship morning and evening, but the father trembled at the thought of doing so in the presence of a guest so distinguished. The children were becoming sleepy, and the wife, by significant gestures, suggested that the time for prayer had come. The man hinted to his guest that perhaps he would like to go to bed. But Mr. Clay with great politeness said that he did not feel at all sleepy, and that unless it was intrusive, he would be happy to enjoy the company of his host longer. Of course the man could not object. Still the matter of prayer could not be postponed without sending the children to bed contrary to their settled custom.
At last, with considerable trepidation, the father told his guest that he could stay and unite in their devotions or retire at his option. Mr. Clay promptly replied that he would remain.
When the wonted exercises, gone through with much fear and trembling were over, Mr. Clay, with no little feeling, approached the man and said, “My dear sir, never again feel the least hesitation in the discharge of your duty to God on account of the presence of man. I saw your embarrassment and remained on purpose that you might never feel it again. Remember that every man of sense will respect the individual who is not ashamed to acknowledge his dependence upon his Maker; and he deserves only contempt who can cherish any other feelings than reverence for ‘the consecrated hour of an audience with Deity.’ I would rather know that the prayers of a pious man, no matter how humble his position in life, were ascending in my behalf than to have the wildest applause of listening senators.”
Mr. Clay then retired for the night. The man remarked that it was the best lesson of his life.
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