Thursday, July 20, 2006

Adoniram Judson; God Was On His Trail - John Piper

A third source of his confidence in the goodness and detailed providence of God was the way God saved him. It is a remarkable story. He was a brilliant boy. His mother taught him to read in one week when he was three to surprise his father when he came home from a trip. When he was 16 he entered Brown University as a sophomore and graduated at the top of his class three years later in 1807.

What his godly parents didn't know was that Adoniram was being lured away from the faith by a fellow student name Jacob Eames who was a Deist. By the time Judson was finished he had no Christian faith. He kept this concealed from his parents until his 20th birthday, August 9, 1808, when he broke their hearts with his announcement that he had no faith and that he intended to go to New York and learn to write for the theater - which he did six days later on a horse his father gave him as part of his inheritance.

It didn't prove to be the life of his dreams. He attached himself to some strolling players, and, as he said later, lived "a reckless, vagabond life, finding lodgings where he could, and bilking the landlord where he found opportunity."

That disgust with what he found there was the beginning of several remarkable providences. He went to visit his uncle Ephraim in Sheffield, but found there, instead "a pious young man" who stunned him by being firm in his Christian convictions without being "austere and dictatorial." Strange that he should find this young man there, instead of his uncle.

The next night he stayed in a small village inn where he had never been before. The innkeeper apologized that his sleep might be interrupted because there was a man critically ill in the next room. Through the night he heard comings and goings and low voices and groans and gasps. It bothered him to think that the man next to him may not be prepared to die. He wondered about himself and had terrible thoughts of his own dying. He felt foolish because good deists weren't supposed to have these struggles.

When he was leaving in the morning he asked if the man next door was better. "He is dead," said the innkeeper. Judson was struck with the finality of it all. On his way out he asked, "Do you know who he was?" "Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames."

Judson could hardly move. He stayed there for hours pondering the death of his deist friend. If his friend Eames were right, then this was a meaningless event. But Judson could not believe it: "That hell should open in that country inn and snatch Jacob Eames, his dearest friend and guide, from the next bed - this could not, simply could not, be pure coincidence."

His conversion was not immediate. But now it was sure. God was on his trail, like the apostle Paul in the Damascus road, and there was no escape. There were months of struggle. He entered Andover Seminary in October, 1808 and on December 2 made solemn dedication of himself to God.

-John Piper, The Cost of Bringing Christ to Burma, Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson-


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