There was a tinker once, who never so much as brushed his back against the walls of a college, who wrote a Pilgrim’s Progress. Did ever a doctor in divinity write such a book? There was a pot-boy once—a boy who carried on his back the pewter pots for his mother, who kept the Old Bell. That man drove men mad, as the world had it, but led them to Christ, as we have it, all his life long, until, loaded with honours, he sank into his grave, with the good will of a multitude round about him, with an imperishable name written in the world’s records, as well as in the records of the church. Did you ever hear of any mighty man, whose name stood in more esteem among God’s people than the name of George Whitefield? And yet these were poor men, who, as Wycliffe said, were taking to the preaching of the gospel. If you will read the life of Wycliffe, you will find him saying there, that he believed that the Reformation in England was more promoted by the labours of the poor men whom he sent out from Lutterworth than by his own. He gathered around him a number of the poor people whom he instructed in the faith, and then he sent them two and two into every village, as Jesus did. They went into the market-place, and they gathered the people around; they opened the book and read a chapter, and then they left them a manuscript of it, which for months and years after the people would assemble to read, and would remember the gospellers that had come to tell them the gospel of Christ. These men went from market-place to market-place, from town to town, and from village to village, and though their names are unknown to fame, they were the real reformers.
For meditation: Wycliffe’s translation of the text was “Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.” A small percentage of Christians would be regarded as great in worldly terms (1 Corinthians 1:27)—only a tiny fraction of preachers would be so described. Are your preachers suitably honoured and supported by your church (1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17,18)?