The One-Eyed Soldier

Thomas Webb was a portly, homely, ragged, patched-up fireball who helped establish Methodism in America. Born in England, Webb had initially chosen a soldier’s career and had fought with the British army in 1759. He was wounded and returned to England, only to be retired on captain’s pay. About 1764, he was converted to Christ in Bristol under the preaching of John Wesley, and he soon began applying his military mind in the Methodist campaign for souls. He became an ardent preacher in England and Ireland; then in 1766, he came to America as a soldier for Christ.

In New York City, Captain Webb fired up a discouraged preacher named Philip Embury, assisting him in preaching the Gospel. New York’s population was only about fifteen thousand people, and few envisioned its becoming a great city. But Webb saw the potential and joined several others in constructing a small chapel, forty-two by sixty, with a seating capacity of seven hundred. It was built of stone, covered with blue plaster. The benches had no backs. Candles provided light. It was a plain building, but worshippers claimed it had “the beauty of Holiness.” The John Street Church, the first Methodist Chapel in New York City, has been called “The Mother Church of Methodism in America.”

Afterward, Captain Webb traveled far and wide—to Long Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Delaware, Jamaica, Europe. And during his periodic stops in England, he continually urged Wesley to send more preachers to the colonies.

Those who met Webb never forgot him, chiefly because of his dangling sword and the large, green oversized patch that covered his left eye, war wounds from the Battle of Louisburg (1759). It was described this way:A ball hit him on the bone which guards the right eye, and taking an oblique direction, burst the eyeball, and passing through his palate into his mouth, he swallowed it. A comrade said, “He is dead enough.” Webb replied, “No, I am not dead.” In three months, he was able to rejoin his comrades. He was never ashamed of his scars.

Neither was the Apostle Paul, who once wrote: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). How marvelous that God even uses our misfortunes for His glory, and He makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)!

Robert J. Morgan

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

%d bloggers like this: