The celebrated preacher, George Whitfield, made it a custom wherever he went, to speak to the people in whose houses he stayed concerning their souls. He used to travel throughout the country preaching the gospel, and was brought into communication with vast numbers.
At one time he was staying in the house of a kind and amiable man, General E-, who was a great admirer of his preaching. The family was so extremely hospitable and kind that, though he saw no evidence of vital godliness among them, Whitfields lips seemed sealed to all but the genial courtesies of society, and he omitted his ordinary custom on such occasions. But when he went upstairs to bed the Spirit of the Lord said to him, O, man of God, how shalt thou be clear of their blood if thou dost not warn them? His own feeling would have led him to be silent; and the tempter suggested, They are so amiable and good; how can you speak to them about sin? Besides, you have preached the gospel today in their hearing; surely that is enough. There was a struggle in his mind, which he would fain have decided by continuing silent, especially as so much kindness had been received. But God would not let him sleep that night. The voice of conscience said, This very kindness should appeal to your gratitude not to be silent. It is your duty to speakto warn them.
Early in the morning, before going away, Whitfield took his diamond ring from his finger, and wrote on the pane in the window these words: One thing thou lackest. He was no sooner gone than the master of the house said, I will go up and look into the room where this holy man slept, for he had an almost superstitious reverence for him.
The first thing that caught his attention when entering the room was the writing on the glass. Its meaning flashed across his mind. He stood and wept. He then went to the door and called his wife. On looking at the writing she burst into tears, and said: I thought he was unhappy. There seemed to be something on his mind. I knew he was in trouble about us, that we were not converted. I had been hoping he would speak to us.
The husband said, By Gods grace, then, we will seek that one thing we lack. He called his family together, three daughters and a grown-up son. The text was pointed out. The Spirit of the Lord blessed it to their souls. The whole family knelt in prayer, confessed their sins, and found joy and peace in believing.
The narrator of this incident says: I know the story to be a fact, a friend of mine in New York having in his congregation a young woman, the daughter of one of the three daughters who knelt with her family in Whitfields room, and she treasures up the pane of glass as a precious relic.