For inducing immediate acceptance of the offer of salvation through faith in Christ this hymn has been of great value. In one of his sermons, Mr. Moody refers to my singing it on a night never to be forgotten:
For four or five nights in succession I had been preaching in Chicago [Illinois] on the subject of ‘The Life of Christ,’ and we had followed him from the cradle to the judgment hall of Pilate. I have always felt that on that night I made one of the greatest mistakes of my life.
How often I have wished that I could call back what I said to the congregation at the close of the meeting on that memorable night of the Chicago fire! That night I spoke from the text, ‘What shall I do with Jesus?’ and as I closed I said: ‘Now I want you take this question home with you, think it over, and next Sunday night I want you come back here and tell me what you are going to do with Jesus.’ What a mistake! I gave them a week to decide; but I never met that audience again.
Even then the huge bell of the court-house near by was tolling out what proved to be the death-knell of the city. How well I remember the hymn Mr. Sankey sang as a solo at the closing moment of that meeting, as his voice rang out:
‘To-day the Saviour calls; for refuge fly; The storm of justice falls, and death is nigh.’
seemed almost prophetic. It was the last verse sung in that beautiful hall. We closed the meeting and went out into the streets, never to meet again. It is estimated that a thousand lives were lost that night. As many of them were lost near Farwell Hall, it may have been that some who heard me say that night, ‘Take a week to decide the question,’ were among the lost ones.