The Story of a Persecuting Husband
In that town of Bridgenorth, England there was a baker, who was a very wicked man. He never went to church and hated religion and religious people very much indeed.
Now it happened that this baker’s wife, at one time, began to go to the Methodist meeting on Sundays. She soon became very much interested in the subject of religion. After a while she became a Christian and joined the church. This made her husband very angry. He ordered her not to go to church any more, but still she went. And it was right for her to do so.
You know when a woman gets married, she makes a solemn promise and vow to obey her husband. And she is bound to do so, in everything that is not clearly contrary to the will of God. But this husband was ordering his wife to do something that was contrary to the plain command of God. God commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy, and to go to church and worship him. And if a husband forbids his wife to do this, she has a right not to mind him. Her marriage vow doesn’t bind her here. In such a case she must ” obey God rather than man,” no matter what comes of it.
The baker cursed and swore at his wife fearfully. Still she went to church. Then he beat her cruelly every Sunday; but still she went to church. One Sunday he became so furious as to tell his wife that, if she went to church that night, he would heat the oven as hot as he could heat it, and put her in and roast her alive when she came back.
His wife knew what a desperate man he was, and had no doubt but he intended to do what he had threatened; yet still she resolved to go to church. Before going she went up into her room and kneeled down to pray. She told the Lord what her husband had threatened to do, and prayed earnestly that he would change his heart, and keep him from fulfilling his terrible threatening. Theu she went quietly to church, trusting to God, and not saying a word about it to any one else.
Well, as soon as his wife was gone, the baker went to work at the oven. He made a tremendous fire. He kept the oven full for an hour, till it became, like Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, “seven times hotter”. He waited for an hour, and then began to feel restless and excited. He walked up and down, and looked at his watch every two or three minutes. Then the thought occurred to him that perhaps his wife might be afraid to come back, and would go home with some of her neighbors. So he put on his hat and resolved to go and wait till she came out of church, and then come home with her. He went. He stood by the door of the church. He listened, and presently heard something said about “a burning, fiery furnace.” A feeling of terror came over him. He slipped quietly into the church, and sat down in the seat nearest the door. The minister, without knowing what God intended to do by that sermon, was preaching about Nebuchadnezzar casting the three men, who wouldn’t worship his idols, into the fiery furnace.
God made use of that sermon to show the baker his horrible wickedness. He trembled like a leaf, and wept like a child.
When the sermon was over they sang a hymn. Then, as is usual in Methodist churches, they invited persons who wished to be prayed for, to come up towards the pulpit. You can judge what the feelings of that faithful woman were when among the first who came up was her own husband! He walked home with his wife after meeting, in tears all the way. As soon as they were in the house he asked his wife to pray with him. He soon after became a Christian and joined the church himself.