He was a Friend of God
But Not Denied
“Nonconformist” was the name given such ministers as William Rogers by the state operated churches in England during the time when ministers were ejected from their pulpits for refusing to teach whatever the church felt was truth. Rogers had tried always to preach the Word of God in all its fullness and therefore lost his license.
In addition to the insult and injury, he was under the pressure of living near the most bitter enemy of truth, the persecuting magistrate, Sir Richard Craddock. Craddock had employed some individuals to watch Rogers’ every movement with the hope of catching him in the act of preaching to his small and disbanded followers.
Rogers secretly met in various secluded locations with fellow-believers as often as he could. In the meantime, he busied himself by working in his garden and maintaining his well-manicured yard, giving the appearance of being retired.
Craddock had a little granddaughter living with him. She was an extremely spoiled child who demanded and got practically everything she desired. She loved to come and visit William Rogers as he would sit down with her and tell her exciting Bible stories. She had been so indulged that if she did not get her way in anything she would fly off into a temper tantrum and destroy things. Once, when she was denied something, she injured herself with a knife. And fearing any further harm to her, Craddock allowed her to have anything she wanted.
As Rogers sat in his yard one day working away at beautifying it, the little granddaughter came to visit. Rogers set aside his garden tools and shared another story with her.
A servant came and demanded that she return to her grandfather as he did not know where she was or what she was doing. She refused to go home until the story was finished. The servant waited helplessly.
Not too long after Rogers had thrilled the girl with one of the true and exciting events of the Bible, he and some of his members were arrested while holding a secret worship service. It meant a sure sentence to prison.. They were all taken to appear before Sir Richard Craddock in his office at his large and luxurious home.
After severely lashing out at them in a torrid tirade and cursing them for being misguided fools, he went into another room to make out the papers for their imprisonment.
Suddenly the young granddaughter came bounding into the room, playing with some new toy the magistrate had purchased for her. She looked at the people standing under guard and spied William Rogers.
When she learned he had not come on a social call and was going to be placed in jail, she rushed over to the room where her grandfather was completing their jail sentences. The door was locked. And when her grandfather would not open it, she began to kick it with her shoes. When the door was not opened, she started beating the huge old door with her head, screaming all the time for entrance.
She was finally allowed to go in.
“What are you going to do with that sweet gentleman, Mr. Rogers?”
“That’s nothing to you,” the magistrate replied sharply and firmly. “Go on and play.”
“But I won’t!” she replied. “He says that he and those other people are going to go to jail. If you send them there, I’ll drown myself in the pond as soon as they are gone, I will indeed!”
When the magistrate looked into her eyes and realized that this was not an idle threat, he was overwhelmed. He walked back into the outer room with his granddaughter to face the would-be-prisoners.
“I had all your papers made out to send you to jail,” he said in quite a different tone of voice than when he last spoke to them, “But at my granddaughters request, I’m going to set you free.”
The entire group bowed their heads and thanked God for His intervention. Mr. Rogers stepped over to the granddaughter and laid his hand on her head.
Lifting his eyes up heavenward he said, “God bless you, my dear child! May the blessing of that God whose cause you now plead, though you don’t know Him yet, be upon you in life, at death, and throughout eternity.”
Many years passed. William Rogers died. His son, Timothy, carried on the work of taking the true and full gospel, as he knew it, to the people. Times had changed and it was not under the same difficulties and strife as his father had to work. He became an author and was well-known and respected.
Timothy was visiting a very wealthy and prominent lady one day. She had made many generous contributions to religious causes through the years. As they talked, timothy told the story of his father’s miraculous delivery.
Then the wealthy lady told the story how she came to know the Lord. She had all the possessions the world could offer but not the peace and satisfaction the Lord offered. Despite the round of social activities and the pursuits of a number of handsome young men, she could not find happiness, true happiness. At the point of considering suicide, she went to the ancient Roman city of Bath in western England where she sought treatment in the warm springs as well as therapy from a famed elderly physician.
The doctor’s prescription was extremely unusual.
“’I want you to try religion. That is the only way you can find a meaning for your life. That’s the only way I know whereby you’ll find real happiness and satisfaction.’
“When I balked at his ridiculous suggestion, he asked me to just read the New Testament. I agreed and went back to London.
“The days and weeks that followed did not bring any relief to my miserable existence. But, I continued to read the New Testament.
“One night I had a dream that woke me with the realization that it was not just an ordinary one. I dreamed that I went to a certain church for the worship service. It was so important and so eventful….my being there in my dream….that I told my maid to get dressed to go to church with me.
“When she asked where we were going to church, I told her I didn’t know, but that we would find the exact church I saw in my dream.
“After we had passed several of the larger churches in London, I decided to go into the area where there were a number of old and small churches.
“At last when we were on an old narrow lane called Old Jewry, off Cheapside, we went into the church that I felt just might be the one I had seen in my dream.
“Inside I new that it was the same Church!
“’If this is the same church,’ I told my maid, ‘then the minister will be the same one I saw in my dream.’
“And he was! I just could not believe all that was happening.
“I leaned over and whispered to my maid, ‘I know this is the very church and minister I saw last night. What’s more, he will preach, using the text. “Return unto thy rest, O my soul.”’
“When Mr. Shower announced that his text would be taken from Psalms 116 and verse 7, I knew, somehow, that that would turn out to be the very same one I saw him present.
“As he read the verse, I was hearing it all over again and it was so stupefying it was beyond belief. ‘Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee!’
“I met God that morning in His saving grace. I knew that He had genuinely caused me to return to the rest I sought. Also He had dealt bountifully with me.”
Timothy Rogers sat on the edge of his seat, listening to the story of God coming into an unhappy life.
“There’s more,” she said, “Years ago I received a blessing from a kind and wonderful old minister that has been long delayed but not denied. It was the blessing your dad, William Rogers, gave me the day he was given his pardon.
“You see, Mr. Rogers,” she said, “I was the girl who loved your dad.”