Over the course of several years, there were forty-three different Baptist preachers arrested in Virginia for preaching the gospel. According to historical records, the least among them, the most meek of those preachers was William Webber. He was born on this day (August 15) in 1747.

Webber first heard the gospel during his twenty-second year. About six months later he came to the full assurance of his salvation and was baptized by John Waller. He immediately began exhorting his neighbors to trust Christ. Soon he was ordained and began a ministry as an itinerant preacher. It is said that he was remarkably plain in dress and manners. He was pleasant and cheerful, but not a great pulpiteer.

Brother Webber was first arrested in Chesterfield County and held for four months. The following August he was pulled off the pulpit while preaching in Middlesex County and was held for forty-five days, part of which time he was bound as well as jailed. When not incarcerated, he was often treated roughly by unbelieving citizens. On one occasion he would have been clubbed to death if a sympathizer had not grabbed the stick as it was being drawn back to strike.

The gaol in Middlesex was far below the usual standards, engulfed in stench and flies, so the prisoners were sometimes permitted to stroll about the grounds where they preached to passersby. But when those people turned on God’s men, they sometimes were forced to plead to be returned to their filthy cells.

His time in various jails weakened Brother Webber’s constitution. In 1799, his friends despaired for his life. God blessed and he recovered, but he wasn’t ever well-enough to return to itinerant preaching, confining his ministry to the church and people who loved him. When another attack of disease came along, he was so weakened that the Lord took him. The date was February 29, 1808.

At one point during his final illness, a preacher friend asked him how he was doing. He replied, “Brother Watkins, I never had so glorious a manifestation of the love of God in all my life, as I have had since my sickness. O, the love of God.”