by Rev. John H. Farmer
A Summertime Preacher
1800s folk along the Rappahannock spent summer days in Camp Meetings.
A right-hand turn upon entering the Weems village leads one to a cluster of cottages known as Wharton Grove. Henry Wharton was an affluent Baltimore preacher with a national following.
Local Baptist pastor Fred Claybrook secured Wharton’s talents. Soon a tabernacle was established on a steamboat landing north of Carter Creek.
Taste this wee bit of research relative to Dr. Wharton:
On occasion, someone will speak of sermons of old and how they may have changed. Today’s column is an 1890s “Talk” by the Rev. Henry Marvin Wharton.
Dr. Wharton (1848-1928), was born at “Western View,” Culpeper County, Virginia. Later of Baltimore, he, along with Northern Neck native pastor Fred Claybrook (1844-1914), was co-founder of the Summer Steamboat Revival Camp, Wharton Grove, Weems, VA.
Wharton wrote: “My ‘Gospel Talks’ have been so kindly received that I venture once again to knock at the door of public favor. So, without further ceremony we will ask the Lord’s blessing and you may proceed to help yourself. If you do not like one dish try another and if nothing pleases you, hand the book to your neighbor; for that which one does not fancy may be the very thing that another would like.
In the early days of my ministry I was pastor of a village church. One day a mother came to me and said she had a daughter, a young lady who had been confined to her bed with a spinal disease three years. That she was very nervous and could not stand excitement, but she was not a Christian and wished me to come and preach a short sermon beside her bed. As it was the wish of the young lady herself, I of course consented. So, I fixed up a little talk in my mind, got on my horse and rode over to the house. Only the family were admitted into the room. A curtain hung across the doorway to prevent the slightest breath of air from touching the frail form of the little sufferer. I went in, much embarrassed and it grew on me as I undertook to conduct the novel service. I would rather preach to 3,000 people than three, any time. But I got along some way until I rose to take my text, when to my surprise, the sick lady said, ‘Mr. Wharton, if you have no decided reference as to your text, I have one I would like you to preach from.’ She almost took my breath when she said that. What must I do? Fear said, ‘stick to the text you have.’ A desire to please her urged me to do her will. At any rate, I concluded to ask for her text and then decline if it was more than I could manage. So, I meekly inquired, ‘What is the text you would like me to preach from?’
She answered, ‘Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me, (John 14:1).’ It was not new to me. There are chapters in the Bible like the homes of our friends. We can drop in any time and spend a pleasant half hour. Every Christian has a path to the door of the fourteenth of John. So, I launched out by remarking that all of us have our troubles. You have yours; I have mine. Most of our troubles are heart troubles. The objects we most dearly love, are sometimes made the source of sorrow. A precious companion; disease smites a rare flower in the home and it lies withered under the blighting power. And then, too, much trouble rises right out of the heart. How sin pains us! How anxious we are about our salvation! But there is a remedy for this trouble. It never fails. No matter how long-standing or deep-seated the disease, this remedy will reach the case. It is Jesus.
He made the heart and knows it’s every ill. But the remedy must be applied. You may have the best remedies in the world and if they are not applied they will do you no good. Now how shall this unfailing remedy be applied? By faith. ‘Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ That’s it — believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and he will cure your heart, no matter what the trouble is. Just put your trust in him. He will make your bed in sickness; he will quiet your nerves and help you to have patience; he will forgive your sins and save your soul; and by-and-bye, he will tell you why you had to suffer and show you that it was all right and all for the best.
So, ended my little sermon and I went away. Sometime afterwards, she was brought into my church one day in an invalid chair. After the services were over, I went down to speak to her. She was sweetly trusting her Savior and dated her conversion to the visit and the talk from her text at her bedside.
The Lord grant that the one who reads this may find in Jesus the friend and Savior who is ever ready to relieve the troubled heart. H.M.W.”