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Charles Wyvern returned home early from a successful foray into the Carolinas. He had sold and contracted to ship goods in a hundred settlements along the coast. He had even managed to invest with several others in what would surely become a prosperous plantation. He was pleased with himself. In all his dealings he had managed to maintain the reputation of an honest tradesman, only departing from fair practice when he deemed it absolutely necessary. 

His servant took the carriage and cared for his team while he went into his home to relax. The word “home” may have been an exaggeration. The house was certainly spacious. It was well shaded. Open windows let in the breeze. Over time he had brought in comfortable furniture including a feather bed. A good well had been dug near the kitchen behind the house. But he had been too busy with business and travels to bother with taking a wife. Days before he had sent word to his servant to prepare for his return. But he was not tired and wanted some company. When Anthony, his servant, entered the house and poured him a drink, he asked him to saddle his little chestnut gelding. Taking the pony he rode through the busy streets smiling and saluting acquaintances. But when he came to the public house there were only two horses hitched to the railing. He stepped through the open doors and greeted the innkeeper. 

“Where is everyone today?” he asked, as he ordered an ale.

“Everyone is goin’ to hear Whifield,” he said. “I may close early and go along myself.” For some reason, this bothered Wyvern. He had to put up with all kinds of disruptions to his plans on the road. He did not expect them here in his own town. He of course knew of the popular preacher. The last he had heard, Whitfield was preaching to huge crowds in Philadelphia. This was hardly his first trip south. Even in the north he raised funds to build an orphanage here in Georgia. Charles asked another customer if Whitfield was preaching in one of the churches in town. The man didn’t know.

The innkeeper overheard and said, “No, Sir. They been postin’ handbills saying he’d be preachin’ from a big barn out on the west road. You may know the place. The barn is on the edge a wide grassy field.” Charles did know the place. It belonged to a man who refused to own slaves. Most of those were small landholders, but this man owned quite a bit of property. Charles finished off his tankard, went back to his horse and started home.

Whitfield was popular everywhere he went. Charles knew for a fact that the churches in London had closed their pulpits to him. He had then built his huge chapel on Tottenham Court Road and filled it day and night for weeks on end when he was in London. He was just as popular here in the colonies. Charles stopped by his house to tell Anthony to prepare a basket of food. He would go and hear this fellow himself. Anthony had not begun preparing anything, assuming his master would eat at the pub. Hearing that he was going to hear Whitfield, he asked if he could come along. 

“I have enough food and drink for us in the larder. And it wouldn’t take me long to harness your brougham.” Charles thought this might be good for his servant, so he agreed. As soon as everything was packed they started out. It took them over an hour to reach the farm where Whitfield was to preach. They heard the crowd singing hymns from some distance. The barn was actually on a smaller lane away from the West road. But there were already hundreds of horses and carriages along the main road. Still, from the size of the crowd he thought most of the people had to have come on foot. Some may well have come from quite a distance. Although it was still the middle of the afternoon, unlit lanterns surrounded the platform where Whitfield would preach. Charles had not thought about the meeting lasting into the night. 

He went straight to the shade of a large tree where a number of men were standing. Someone was smoking a cigar, though he could not see who it was. When Anthony had staked out their horse in a field across the road he came along to the same tree to be near his master if he were needed. 

When Whitfield began to speak even those who had heard him before were stunned by the force and melody of his voice. They had no difficulty hearing even this far from the barn where Whitfield stood in the open loft. His words echoed off the trees and canyons in every direction. He did not spend any time on pleasantries. 

“I have not come to you of my own volition. God has sent me here before it is everlastingly too late. I have not come to talk about politics or the weather. I have come at the call of God Almighty to talk to you about your soul.” From the very first word Charles was spellbound. As the preacher spoke of the holiness of Jesus, Charles began to realize that he was in a desperate condition. He had always thought he was a rather good man. He certainly knew men who were worse, at least in his opinion. But as Whitfield preached, Charles began to see himself in the light of the life of Jesus. He put his hand to his face and discovered that he was weeping. Whitfield had begun to tell a parable of a blind man stumbling along the edge of a cliff. Everyone in the crowd was there with him as he described the man’s predicament. As the man took his final step off the ledge, Charles Wyvern fell to his knees. He realized that he and all he knew of society was on that terrible precipice, soon to be plunged into eternal judgment. Unaware of others reacting in similar ways all around him, he cried out to Jesus who had died for his sins. The Son of God was his only hope.

It was dark and lanterns were lit across the field when Anthony, who had evidently been similarly affected, put his hand on Charles’s back. “Sir, let me help you up. Most of the people have left. I have harnessed the mare. If something like this had happened to anyone else, Charles would have said they were mad. He was not sure it was not true of him as well. All the way home he prayed and calculated the many things that with God's help must change in his life. From now on everything would be different because of what God had begun in him.

This story was conceived from John 16:7-11.

Father, break our hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit.




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