My Favourite Stories #81

A Highwayman robs himself.

When a bully hurts someone, it is sad. But when the bully gets hurt, we feel some justice has been done. That’s what happened to the bandit who robbed the preacher.

The evangelist George Whitefield was one of the greatest preachers of all time. He is credited, along with the Wesley boys, of preventing a French Revolution type situation in England. Together they inspired a spiritual revival that led to the birth of the Methodist church.

 One day, back around the year 1770 while travelling with a friend, someone told him of a widow whose furniture was about to be taken away from her unless she could pay a certain sum of money right away. Mr Whitefield promptly gave five guineas, which would be about $20 today, but worth far more then. As they continued their journey the friend said, “You know you can’t afford to give her that much, why did you do it?”.

               “When God brings a case of distress before us, He wants us to do something about it,” Mr Whitefield replied.

They were travelling on horseback. Presently, from some hidden place, they saw a cloud of dust coming towards them, and out of the dust emerged a masked man. “Your money or your life,” demanded the bandit, threatening them with a pistol. Mr Whitefield and his friend stopped and emptied their purses into the highwayman’s hands. What else could they do?

The bandit left and the two travelers continued on their way. “Who do you think is wiser?” Mr Whitefield asked his friend. “I gave my money to the widow, and it is doing some good. You kept yours, and the bandit has it.”

So far as we know, the friend made no reply for about that time the men had other things to think about, for the sound of horse’s hoofs behind startled them, and they turned to see the bandit almost upon them again.

“Stop!” he ordered, waving his gun.

“What now, friend?” asked Mr Whitefield. “I want that coat you have on. It’s nicer than mine.”

“Very well,” said Mr Whitefield, taking off his good coat and handing it to the robber, who gave Mr Whitefield his ragged coat in return.

Once more they continued their journey. They were nearing a village, when for the third time they heard those galloping hooves.

“He must want to kill us this time,” the friend exclaimed, and they struck spurs to their horses, and making all hast  just managed to reach the safety of the town. It was a furious race for several minutes, but when the bandit saw that he could not possibly overtake them before they would reach the village he gave up.

The funny part came that night when Mr. Whitefield regrettably took off the ragged old jacket the thief had given him. It felt heavy in his hand, and so he began to feel in the pockets and there in an inside pocket he found a neatly wrapped little packet. When the wrappings were opened it revealed coins worth one hundred guineas, doubtless the gleanings of many holdups – more than twenty times as much money as Mr. Whitefield had given to the poor widow to help her that very morning.

It is true that every effort made for Christ will react in blessing upon ourselves. If we use our means for His glory, He will give us more. This was the essence of Jesus parable on the 10 talents. As we seek to win others to Christ, bearing the burden of souls in our prayers, our own hearts will throb with the quickening influence of God’s grace; our own affections will glow with more divine fervor; our whole Christian life will be more of a reality, more earnest, and more powerful.

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