In Life Verses: The Bible's Impact on Famous Lives, Volume 2, by F. W. Boreham, the author tells the spiritual journey of William Penn, Quaker, Philanthropist, and founder of Pennsylvania. Son of Admiral William Penn, the younger William was a contemporary of the Puritans. Milton was putting finishing touches to Paradise Lost, and John Bunyan was writing Pilgrims' Progress while languishing in Bedford Jail for his faith. All influenced Penn, but it was Thomas Loe, a simple Quaker preacher who was preaching the gospel in the British Isles as Penn grew up that God used as the catalyst to revolutionize this man for good and for God. Three times their paths crossed, and God used this simple preacher with fire in his bones and the love of God in his heart.
The first time Penn heard the Quaker preach was in Cork in Ireland, the town where Penn grew up on his Fathers' Irish estate. He was 12 years old. His father, hearing that the preacher had the town flocking to his meetings, invited him to the estate to speak to his household. As the 12-year- old Penn looked around he saw a servant deeply moved. He looked at the Admiral and to his amazement saw tears running down his father's face. He wondered greatly about the God that lived in and through Loes, un- compromising preaching and its powerful effect on the people that day.
The second time Loe was used in Penn's spiritual journey was a turning point for him. I can think of pivotal sermons that have winged their way through my defenses and found a resting place in my heart, setting my sails in another direction that I had ever thought I would go. Like sitting in the great Harringay Arena in London as a student, listening to a young evangelist from America named Billy Graham calling the youth of England to find out the plan God had for their lives and do it! The Lord used that night to turn my attention to a world outside mine that needed reaching for Christ.
Can you pinpoint any such words that the Spirit of God used to take you deeper into the mysterious workings of God in your soul? Has God paid a visit to your life as he did to William Penn's? It does us good to take note of our past directives and trace the Spirit's footsteps.
In Penn's words: "God visited me with a certain testimony of his Eternal Word through a Quaker named Thomas Loe." A commentator notes that at that meeting: "Penn was exceedingly reached and wept much. He renounced any hope he had ever cherished in order that he might realize this one."