A BOW AT A VENTURE
Some ladies called one Saturday morning to pay a visit to Lady Huntingdon, and during the visit her Ladyship inquired if they had ever heard Mr. Whitefield preach? Being answered in the negative she said, “I wish you would hear him – he is to preach tomorrow evening.” Calling on the Monday upon her Ladyship, she anxiously inquired if they had heard Mr. W. and how they liked him. The reply was: “O my Lady, of all the preachers we ever heard he is the strangest; among many preposterous things, he said that Jesus Christ was so willing to receive sinners, that He did not object to receive the devil’s castaways! Now, my Lady, did you ever hear of such a thing since your were born?” To which her Ladyship made the following reply; “There is something, I acknowledge, a little singular in the declaration, and I do not recollect to have met with it before; but as Mr. Whitefield is below in the parlour, we will have him up and let him answer for himself.” Upon his entering the drawing-room, Lady Huntingdon said, “Mr. Whitefield, these ladies have been criticising you, and I thought it best that you should come up and defend yourself; they say, that in your sermon last evening, speaking of the willingness of Jesus Christ to receive sinners, you expressed yourself in the following terms – ‘So ready is Christ to receive sinners who come to Him, that He is willing to receive the devil’s castaways.’ ” Mr. Whitfield immediately replied: “My Lady, I certainly must plead guilty to the charge; whether I did what was right or otherwise, your Ladyship shall judge from the following circumstance. Did your Ladyship notice, about half an hour ago, a very modest rap at the door? It was given by a poor miserable-looking aged female, who requested to speak to me. I desired her to be shown into the parlour, when she accosted me in the following manner: ‘I believe, sir, you preached last evening at such a chapel.’ ‘Yes, I did.’ – ‘Ah, sir, I was accidentally passing the door of that chapel, and hearing the voice of some one preaching I did what I never have been in the habit of doing – I went in; and one of the first things I heard you say was, that Jesus Christ was so willing to receive sinners, that He did not object to receiving the devil’s castaways. Now, sir, I have for many years lived in sin, and am so worn out in his service, that I think I may with truth be called one of the devil’s castaways. Do you think, sir, that Jesus Christ would receive me?’ ‘I (said Mr. Whitfield) assured her there was no doubt of it, if she was made willing to go to Him.’ ” From the sequel, it appeared that this was the case, and that it ended in the sound conversion of this poor creature; and Lady Huntingdon was assured, from most respectable authority, that the woman left a blessed testimony behind her, that though her sins had been of a crimson hue, the atoning blood of Christ had washed them white as snow.
Another fruit of the ministry of her Ladyship’s chaplains at Oathfll was an old man called Abraham. He was born in Sussex;
being an idle youth, he enlisted for a soldier, and after forty years’ service, obtained his discharge, and with his wife settled near
Oathill. He grew serious, sought after truth, attended at church, and, not quite satisfied with what he heard at home, went round to the neighbouring churches; but what he heard seemed very unsatisfactory and contradictory to what the church prayers he read seemed to speak. Uncertain what was truth, he roamed about, till providentially the chapel opened by Lady Huntingdon at Oathill awakened attention; and though he did not like the Methodists, he resolved to go and hear. He was then just a hundred years old, but still hearty, and in the perfect use of his faculties. Mr. Venn was at that time with Lady Huntingdon, and preached at Oathill the morning old Abraham attended. The truth struck his mind with evidence and power he had never felt before. He listened with the deepest attention and delight; he could harldy contain himself; and as soon as the service was over, he laid his hand upon the shoulder of a neighbour who was next to him – “Ah! neighbour,” (says he), “this is the very truth of God’s Word, which I have been seeking, and never heard it so plain before. Here will I abide.” From that day his conversation bespoke the blessed Spirit he had received. He spoke of that day as the day of his birth, and used to say he was a child born at a hundred years old. He attended all the ministers whom Lady Huntingdon sent, and continued to make happy advances in knowledge and experience. His age and white head made him very distinguished, and his conversation rendered him very precious to all the serious persons round the neighbourhood.
One day Lady Huntingdon was talking with him, and he was giving an account of his trials to her. “Ah, my Lady,” he said, ” ’tis my grief that my old partner is a little too apt to run ahead sometimes; but I tell ye what happened the other day, when that remarkable darkness and tempest came over us here; she was terribly frightened, and thought it was the day of judgment, and in she ran with an old gossip of hers, who was of her mind, and against me, and down they fell upon their knees upon the floor, and said, ‘Abraham, come and pray for us.’ So I said, ‘What is the matter, dame?’ ‘O,’ said she, ‘it is the day of judgment! are you not afraid?’ ‘Afraid! no,’ said I; ‘what should I be afraid of? If it is the day of judgment, then I shall see Christ Jesus, and that will be a joyful sight.’ So, my Lady, I began to sing a hymn. By and by the
storm was over, and then they both forgot the fright it had put
Old Abraham died in the 106th year of his age, persevering on
the Christian walk, and adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour
in all things; and as a ripe sheaf in the day of harvest, was gathered into the bosom of our Saviour in peace by a gentle dissolution, old and full of days.
Communicated by the Countess of Huntingdon to a friend.