THE POOR STONEBREAKER’S BIRTHPLACE
In a village in Wiltshire there lived a Curate, who did the duty of the Parish Church, also the Union-house. He was necessarily often brought into contact with its inmates, and knew most of his parishioners, who greatly respected him. But some of them who had heard purer truth than he preached, attended a dissenting chapel in the village, whilst others of the more respectable drove occasionally to a neighbouring town, five miles distant, to attend where the Gospel was more faithfully proclaimed. Everything went on very quietly in the place, no one feeling hurt by his neighbour’s conduct; but the clergyman often took a walk in his parish, and one day, as usual, he met one of his most constant hearers, a poor man of excellent character. As a matter of course, he asked him how it was he did not see him at church, as in times past, and wondered how it was he could feel comfortable in his mind to absent himself from his duty. The poor man promptly replied that he had lately been visiting his birthplace. “Well, but I always considered that this village was your birthplace, as you were born in it, and have lived all your life in the parish.” He respectfully answered that was all true, but he had lately found his spiritual birthplace, and earnestly wished he might do the same, and then he would be glad to attend his preaching again. The poor man very affectionately requested the Curate to read the Bible, with earnest prayer, and more devout attention, and suggested his considering the new birth spoken of in the third chapter of John. At first the clergyman thought, “You, a poor uneducated man, dictating to a University scholar!” But, walking home, he thought, “John certainly meant it for his good, and he had spoken to him in a very affectionate manner.” He resolved, therefore, that he would retire to his study, and ponder it over by himself. He did so, and began to find light dawn upon him. He could find no rest until he could visit John again, and request him to tell him how he obtained spiritual light and peace and comfort. In due time, by means of earnest prayer and reading the Scriptures, joy and peace were thus brought to his own soul. His preaching then became different from what it was before. Instead of a dry discourse, it was energetic and powerfulÂ—evidently flowing from the heart. His hearers were surprised, and some delighted with the change. Instead of a few people scattered in different pews, his church was filled with attentive worshippers; those who used to drive miles on a Sabbath Day were glad to remain and attend his preaching.