Fifteen-year-old David Marks, eyes blurred with tears, left home with a dollar in his pocket to preach the gospel. The “boy preacher” soon created a stir in the American northeast, and he kept going for the next 25 years. He rode one horse 19,000 miles, preached to thousands, organized churches throughout New England, published books, wrote articles, taught school, and worked diligently in opposition to slavery and in support of foreign missions. Then he died from sheer exhaustion at age 40.
Just before sunset on May 13, 1828, Marks rode into the little town of Ancaster, Ontario, announcing he would preach in seven minutes in the park. A small crowd gathered, and he asked if anyone had a text he would like to hear preached. A man mockingly said, “Nothing!”
Marks immediately began preaching on “nothing.” God created the world from “nothing,” he said. God gave us laws in which there is “nothing” unjust. But, Marks continued, we have broken God’s law and there is “nothing” in us to justify us. There will be “nothing” to comfort sinners in death or hell. But, while Christians have “nothing” of their own in which to boast, we have Christ. And in him, we have “nothing” to cause us grief, “nothing” to disturb our peace, and “nothing” to fear in eternity.
Finishing his sermon, Marks mounted his horse and traveled to the next village. But some time later he returned to Ancaster. This time a larger group assembled, and the meeting house was opened to him. David preached “something” to them. He said there is “something” above all things. There is “something” in man designed to live forever, but there is also “something” in us that makes us unhappy. There is “something” about the gospel that reverses our unhappiness, “something” that gives us hope. There is “something” that will disturb the impenitent in death, but “something” resides in Christians that the world can’t understand, and “something” in eternity to give us everlasting joy.
All that from an uneducated young circuit rider, his mind filled with Scripture and his heart full of Christ, who had “something” to say—and “nothing” to fear.
I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love. … Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:38,39)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). May 13.