From Ridicule to Devotion

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The following is an excerpt from Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge’s A God-Sized Vision.  Hansen and Woodbridge have collected several accounts of the Holy Spirit’s work throughout modern history.

The awakening also transformed African-American attitudes toward Christianity.  New Lights, ministers who supported the revival, preached to audiences that included both whites and blacks.  Many congregations accepted their first black members.  Some slave owners were predictably upset.  The Weekly History contained an account of a Boston slave owner who walked in on his slave preaching to himself, imitating Whitefield’s dramatic style.  The owner, no fan of the revival, was so amused that he called together his friends for some after-dinner entertainment.

“Supplying his friends with pipes and glasses all around, he instructed his slave to mount a stool in the center of the room and preach as he had the day before,” historian Frank Lambert explains.  As he began, the company laughed heartily, but when he warned against blaspheming the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the necessity of the new birth, ‘the Negro spoke with such Authority that struck the Gentlemen to Heart.’  To their host’s dismay, the men began to listen intently, and many, as a result of that day’s ‘entertainment,’ became ‘pious sober Men.’

The Holy Spirit enjoys such surprises.

(A God-Sized Vision, 54-55).


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