Herrings For Nothing.


         The darkness was coming on rapidly, as the man with a basket on his head turned the corner of a street in London.  He cried loudly as he went, “Herrings! Three a penny, red herrings, good and cheap, at three a penny!”

        Soon he came close to me and commenced conversation. 

        “Governor, why can’t I sell these herrings?  I have walked two miles along this dismal place, offering them; and nobody will buy.”

         “The people have no work at all to do, and they are starving; there are plenty of houses round here that have not had a penny in them for many a day,” was my reply.

            “Ah! then, governor,” he rejoined, “if they haven’t the half-pence, they can’t spend ‘em, sure enough; so there’s nothing for me but to carry them elsewhere."

     “How much will you take for the lot?” I inquired.

               “I’ll be glad to get four shillin’.”

      I put my hand in my pocket, produced that amount and transferred it to him.

      “Right! Governor, thank’ee!  What’ll I do with ‘em?” he said, as he quickly transferred the coins to his own pocket.

    "O round this corner into the middle of the street, shout with all your might,--




    and give three to every man, woman, and child, that comes to you, till the basket is emptied.”

          So he proceeded into the middle of the street,

          And went along shouting, “Herrings for nothing! Good red herrings for nothing!”

             I stood at the corner to watch his progress; and soon he neared the house where a tall woman stood at the first floor window looking out upon him.

        “Here you are missus,” he cried, “Herrings for nothing!  Come and take ’em.”

      The woman shook her head unbelievably, and left the window.

          “Vot a fool!” said he; “but they won’t all be so.  Herring for nothing!”  A little child came out to look at him, and he called to her, “Here, my dear, take these in to your mother, and tell her how cheap they are—herrings for nothing!” but the child was afraid of him and them and ran in-doors.  So, down the street, in the snow, slush, and mud, went the cheap fish, the vender crying loudly as he went, “herrings for nothing! And then adding savagely, “Oh you fools.”  Thus he reached the end of the street; and then returning to retrace his steps, he continued his double cry as he came.

      “Well,” I said to him calmly, as he reached me at the corner.

        “Well!” he repeated, “if yer think so!  When yer gave me the money for the herrings as yer didn’t want, I thought you was training for a lunatic ‘sylum!  Now I think all the people round here are fit company for yer.  But what’ll I do with the herrings if yer don’t want ‘em, and they won’t have ‘em?”

         “We’ll try again together," I replied; “I will go with you and we’ll both shout.”

      Into the road we both went, and he shouted once more, “Herrings for nothing!”

            “Then I called out loudly also," “Will any one have herrings for tea?”

         They heard my voice, and they knew it well; and they came out at once, in twos and threes and sixes, men and women and children, all striving to reach the welcome food, as fast as I could take them from the basket, I handed three to each eager applicant, until all were speedily disposed of.  When the basket was empty, the hungry crowd that had none was far greater than that which had been supplied; but they were too late, there were no more Herring for nothing!”

                  Foremost among the disappointed was a tall woman of a bitter tongue, who began vehemently, “Why haven’t I got any? Aint I as good as they? Aint my children as hungry as theirs?”

        Before I had time to reply, the vender stretched out his arm toward her, saying, “Why, governor, that’s the very woman as I offered ‘em to first, and she turned up her nose at ‘em.”

               “I didn’t,” she rejoined passionately, “I didn’t believe you meant it!”

          “Yer goes without for yer unbelief!” he replied.  “Good-night, and thank ‘ee, governor!”

           I told this story upon the sea-beach, to a great crowd gathered there on a summer Sabbath day.  They looked at each other; first smiled, then laughed outright, and at length shouted with laughter.

         It was my time then; and I said, “You cannot help laughing at the quaint story, which is strictly true.  But are you sure you would not have done as they did, and been as unbelieving as they?  Their unbelief cost them only a hungry stomach a little longer; but what may your unbelief cost you?  God has sent his messengers to you for many years to offer


          Pardon For Nothing!


Peace for nothing! Salvation for nothing!  He has sent to you the most loving and tender offers that even an almighty God could frame; and what have you replied?"

     "Have you taken the trouble to reply at all?  Have you not turned away in utter scornful unbelief, like the woman? Or ran away in fear, like the child?  You are still without a hope on earth, or a hope in heaven, because you will not believe God’s messengers when they offer you all that you need for time and eternity---for nothing."

               “Take warning by that disappointed crowd of hungry applicants.  When they were convinced that the offer was of good faith, and would gladly have shared with their fellows, they were to late!"

        “Let it not be so with you!  Do not be in that awfully large crowd of disappointed ones, who will be obliged to believe when belief will not help them; whose knowledge when it comes, will only increase the sorrow that they put off believing until it was too late.”

        As I looked earnestly upon that vast crowd the laughter was entirely gone, and an air of uneasy conviction was plainly traceable on many faces.

      “Will you not come to Jesus now?”  I entreated, “He is waiting, pleading with you!  Here is salvation, full, free, and eternal; help guidance and blessing, --all for nothing! Without money and without price.”





Did you ever think what this world would be

If Christ hadn’t come to save it?

His hands and feet were nailed to the tree

And his precious life---He gave it

But countless heart would break with grief

At the hopeless life they were given

If God had not sent the world relief

If Jesus had stayed in heaven.


Did you ever think what this world would be

With never a life hereafter?

Despair in the faces of all we’d see

And sobbing instead of laughter

In vain is beauty, and flowers’ bloom

To remove the heart’s dejection

Since all would drift to a yawning tomb

With never a resurrection.


Did you ever think what this world would be

How weary of all endeavor

If the dead unnumbered, in land and sea

Would just sleep on forever

Only a pall over hill and plain

And the brightest hours are dreary

Where the heart is sad, and hopes are vain

And life is sad and weary.


Did you ever think what this world would be

If Christ had stayed in heaven—

No home in bliss, no soul set free

No life or sins forgiven

But He came with a heart of tenderest love

And now from on high, he sees us

And mercy comes from the throne on high

Thank God for the gift of Jesus!