When visiting my wife’s family in Maine, I often browse through used bookshops, looking for old volumes. One of my prizes is the autobiography of Lemuel Norton, who left a seafaring life to become a gospel preacher.
One day in the 1820s, Norton sailed over to Gott’s Island, home of about a dozen families. As he stepped from the boat, a feeling of loneliness hit him, making him want to weep. As he visited house-to-house, he came to a man working in the field.
I told him Christ had come onto the island to visit the people, and that there was to be a meeting at four o’clock. The man seemed astonished and rather absently unyoked his oxen, sending them back to the barn. Norton followed him home, finding there a young lady in great despair, weeping over her sins.
Norton invited her to the afternoon meeting and left weeping as I passed from house to house. I perceived Christ was there before me and loved to be where there was a good deal of weeping among the people.
The meeting commenced at four, and Norton announced his text, Titus 3:4. After showing how and when this kindness appeared, and speaking of the greatness of His love, I tried to persuade my hearers to love God in return. Just as I attempted to do this, the Holy Spirit descended with such power upon me that the only relief I could find was to speak with all my might. My hearers were bathed in tears; and what astonished me more was that seven young persons had already got on their knees, crying for mercy.
Norton stopped preaching and sat crying, as were others. As the room filled with tears, a revival commenced that swept over the little community and on to other islands. Lives were healed, souls were saved, and churches were born. The kindness and love of God the Savior appeared that day amid the tears on Gott’s Island.
Robert J. Morgan