I was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when I heard the voice of
children from a neighboring house chanting, "take up and read; take up and
read." I could not remember ever having heard the like, so checking the torrent of my
tears, I arose, interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book
and read the first chapter I should find. Eagerly then I returned to the place where I had
laid the volume of the apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on
which my eyes first fell: "Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and
lewdness, not in strife and envy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision
for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." No further would I read, nor did I need to. For
instantly at the end of this sentence, it seemed as if a light of serenity infused into my
heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.
There are so many stony ground hearers who receive the Word with joy that I have
determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits ...Do you think any
farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless he plowed now? You may as well expect a
crop of corn on unplowed ground as a crop of grace until the soul is convinced of its
being undone without a Savior. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so
many persons that are always happy! happy! happy! and never were miserable. Why? Because
their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law . . . they
fall away . . . That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of
dubbing converts too soon. Now I wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for
there are so many blossoms which March winds blow away that I cannot believe they are
converts till I see fruit brought forth.
George Whitefield (1714-1770).