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John Welch
A Friar Comes Calling

While Mr Welch was minister in one of these French villages, upon an evening, a certain Popish friar, travelling through the country, because he could not find a lodging in the whole village, addressed himself to Mr Welch’s house for one night. The servants acquainted their master, and he was content to receive the guest.

The family had supped before he came, and so the servants conveyed the friar to his chamber; and after they had made his supper, they left him to his rest. There was but a timber partition betwixt him and Mr Welch, and after the friar had slept his first sleep, he was surprised with the hearing of a silent but constant whispering noise; at which he wondered very much, and was not a little troubled.

The next morning he walked in the fields, where he chanced to meet with a country man, who, saluting him because of his habit, asked him where he had lodged that night? The friar answered, he had lodged with the Huguenot minister. Then the countryman asked him, what entertainment he had? The friar answered, “Very bad;” for, said he, “I always held that devils haunted these ministers’ houses, and I am persuaded there was one with me this night, for I heard a continual whisper all the night over, which I believe was no other thing than the minister and the devil conversing together.” The countryman told him he was much mistaken, and that it was nothing else than the minister at his night prayer. “O,” said the friar, “does the minister pray?” “Yes, more than any man in France,” answered the countryman; “and if you please to stay another night with him you may be satisfied.”

The friar got home to Mr Welch’s house, and, pretending indisposition, entreated another night’s lodging, which was granted him. Before dinner Mr Welch came from his chamber, and made his family exercise, according to his custom. And first he sung a psalm, then read a portion of Scripture, and discoursed upon it; thereafter he prayed with great fervour, to all which the friar was an astonished witness. After exercise they went to dinner, where the friar was very civilly entertained, Mr Welch forbearing all question and dispute with him for the time.

When the evening came, Mr Welch made exercise as he had done in the morning, which occasioned more wonder to the friar, and after supper they went to bed; but the friar longed much to know what the night-whisper was, and therein he was soon satisfied; for after Mr Welch’s first sleep, the noise began.

The friar resolved to be certain what it was, and to that end he crept silently to Mr Welch’s chamber door, and there he heard not only the sound, but the words distinctly, and communications betwixt God and man, such as he thought had not been in this world.

The next morning, as soon as Mr Welch was ready, the friar came, and confessed that he had lived in ignorance the whole of his life, but now he was resolved to adventure his soul with him; and thereupon declared himself a Protestant. Mr Welch welcomed and encouraged him, and he continued a Protestant to his death.

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