Charles Bowles’s father was African; his mother was the daughter of a Revolutionary War hero. He was converted as a youth and called to the Freewill Baptist ministry. On July 24, 1816 he preached his first sermon, and his ministry soon resulted in both converts and controversy. He was a black preacher in the far north, making waves and winning souls. In Huntington, Vermont, a mob secretly plotted to attack him at his next worship service. They intended to tie him to a wooden horse and plunge him in the lake to sink or swim as he would. Bowles, however, heard of the plot.

The time arrived for the meeting; and while the enemy was preparing the weapons of their warfare, he is fitting himself. Behold him in yonder grove, bowed low before the throne of the Redeemer. What a noble sight to behold that despised servant of God, bowed alone in the grove, seeking only a preparation of heart! What a contrast with that band preparing by whiskey and oaths.

The service began, and the mob, seated before him, awaited its signal. Bowles read Matthew 23:33—You are nothing but snakes … ! How can you escape going to hell? He preached with such fervor that no one dared move. He finished by saying, “I am informed there are persons here who have agreed to put me on a wooden horse, carry me to the pond, and throw me in; and now, dear creatures, I make no resistance.” But he had one request—that on the way to the lake the assembly sing hymns. “Glory be to God! Yes, we will have music. Glory to God!”

This was said with his powerful voice with such confidence in God that it went like an electric shock through the congregation, and produced an effect upon the mob that could scarcely have been equaled had a bolt from heaven fallen; so completely were they overcome, that they fell prostrate upon the floor.

Shortly afterward, the troublemakers did meet Bowles at the lake—where he plunged them into its chilly waters, baptizing them as followers of his Lord Jesus.

You must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well. (2 Timothy 4:5)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). July 24.

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