As I was reading through biographical information about certain Puritans today, I came across an encouraging moment in the life of Puritan William Perkins (1558 -1602). Perkins is a little known Puritan and only lived to be 44 years of age but he made quite an impact in the jails of Cambridge, England. After his conversion Perkins became a very strong exponent of Calvinism and always cared for the those who were in spiritual need. There was one thing in particular from the biography of William Perkins that stuck out for me and that was an incident in the jails of Cambridge. The incident follows:
He is said to have encountered a young condemned prisoner who was terrified not so much of death as of the impending judgment of God. The Puritan preacher knelt beside him to “show what the grace of God can do to strengthen thee.” He showed him that Christ is the means of salvation by the grace of God and urged him with tears to believe in Him and experience the remission of sins. The youth did so and was able to face his execution with composure, a glorious display of God’s sovereign grace.
A sympathetic Calvinist, who would’ve thought? I don’t know how accurate this story is but it does indicate the heart of a man who knew the glorious grace and mercy of God. In his early adult years and prior to conversion Perkins spent his days as a drunkard. One day he overheard a mother scolding her child and used Perkins’ name as a means to influence the correct behavior of the child. He was deeply hurt by the thought of someone in the community using his name as a byword. It eventually led to his conversion. He knew full well that if not by the grace of God he would’ve ended up a prisoner like the very ones he was ministering to. I also know that only by he grace of God that saved me I could’ve ended up in the same places. This may be the reason God has given me a heart for the men in jail as well.
Please pray for the souls in prison and for those who go into the prisons. Pray that they would be bold to share gospel and that those whom by God’s grace are saved would also be bold to share their experiences with other inmates. And that they in turn would be bold to preach the gospel to their fellow inmates.