Blessed is the man whose wife speaks with wisdom even when she’s out of her mind.
Ebenezer Erskine was a minister, but not a good one. His Scottish congregation wearied of his preaching, but he seemed unable to do better. “I began my ministry without much zeal, callously and mechanically,” he later wrote, “being swallowed up in unbelief and in rebellion against God.” He had no enthusiasm for the Lord or his Word. No devotional life. No fresh insights from Scripture. His sermons were long, formal, and memorized; he preached them word for word in a monotone, never looking up or glancing into the jaded faces of his audience.
His wife, barely able to endure it, dreaded each approaching Sunday. For years she wept secretly over her husband’s unregenerate heart and unspiritual ministry. She prayed earnestly for God, yet she said little to Ebenezer until … until she contracted a raging fever. Ebenezer, 28, anxiously hovered over her as she twisted and tossed, body shrouded in sweat. In her delirium, she babbled her opinions of his ministry—it was lifeless and long-winded. And his heart? It was lost and languishing. Her words pierced him.
“At last,” Ebenezer wrote in his diary, “the Lord was pleased to calm her spirit and give her a sweet serenity of mind. This, I think, was the first time ever I felt the Lord touching my heart in a sensible manner. Some few weeks after, she and I were sitting together in my study, and while we were conversing about the things of God, the Lord was pleased to rend the veil and to give me a glimmering view of salvation which made my soul acquiesce in Christ.”
His “acquiescence” came on August 26, 1708. He wrote, “I offer myself up, soul and body, unto God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I flee for shelter to the blood of Jesus. I will live to him; I will die to him. I take heaven and earth to witness that all I am and all I have are his.”
Ebenezer Erskine became a popular preacher in eighteenth-century Scotland and the founder of the Scottish Secession Church.
The right word at the right time
Is like precious gold set in silver.
Listening to good advice
Is worth much more than jewelry made of gold. (Proverbs 25:11,12)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). August 26.