Thursday, February 23, 2012
Can God use me? (Part 5)
What sort of people does God use?
I am answering the question by looking at five examples of different people from significantly diverse backgrounds and cultures. So far we have looked at the lives of Moses, the ageing shepherd Saul, the violent persecutor, and the founders of the Primitive Methodist movement, Hugh Bourne and William Clowes.
The last of the five is John Benton.
John Benton was a coal miner with limited education, whom God used in the early years of the Primitive Methodist movement from 1810 onwards. He was what we would call a "rough diamond". He became a local preacher and passionate open-air evangelist, who believed Primitive Methodism would spread through all England. It did within fifty years or so.
His command of the English language was inadequate, and his poor use of grammar in public speaking was considered by some to be offensive. He could not put together a grammatically correct sentence and it is an understatement to say he was uncouth in the way he spoke. One local preacher sharply reprimanded him “You are bringing a scandal on the cause of Jesus Christ, you have had no learning, you do not even understand grammar”.
Shortly after this critic made these comments, Benton was preaching on Good Friday. His audience was a group of coal miners and he began with the text “it is finished”. When he had preached nearly half his sermon there was a move of the Holy Spirit in the congregation. Some of his hearers groaned and shrieked whilst others fell to the floor. The Spirit of God was present in a powerful way.
As Benton closed his Bible, and began to pray for those being convicted of sin, he saw his friend and critic, the local preacher, watching in amazement. Benton said to him, ‘This is grammar!’ His astonished critic replied, “I never saw such a meeting as this."
God can use all sorts.
God can use anyone, whatever their formal education (or lack of it).
Moses the ageing shepherd
Saul the violent persecutor
Hugh Bourne the introvert
William Clowes the extrovert
More on John Benton