`Our books may come to be seen where ourselves shall never be heard. These may preach where the author cannot, and (which is more) when he is not.' This prediction by one of the great Puritans has had many fulfillments. An ungodly Welsh clergyman, shopping at a fair in the eighteenth century, bought an article which happened to be wrapped in a page torn from an old Puritan folio. The reading of that one page led to his sound conversion. As Luther said, `Satan hates the use of pens,' and never were pens more powerfully wielded in the cause of God than by the Puritan divines of the seventeenth century. Nor have their books outlived their usefulness. Although the original volumes are worn with age, the truths found in them are as fresh as the new formats in which they are now appearing.
To flesh out these words a bit, as a personal exercise in reading to better understand and researching as needed to fulfill that goal, I thought it would be useful to explore the allusions made. The fruits of my research turned into the following quote chain.
The author of the initial quote is Thomas Adams who, writing "[t]o the candid and ingenious reader" in Volume 1 of his Works said (pp. xix-xx):
Speech is only for presence, writings have their use in absence: quo, liceat libris, non licet ire mihi, -- our books may come to be seen where ourselves shall never be heard. These may preach when the author cannot, and (which is more) when he is not.
The Latin line quoted by Thomas Adams comes from Ovid's Amores (The Loves) 3.8 (Elegy VIII - To His Mistress, Complaining That She Has Given Preference To A Wealthier Rival):
cum pulchre dominae nostri placuere libelli,
quo licuit libris, non licet ire mihi;
Although my books have pleased my mistress well,
where my books are allowed to go, I am not.
The story of the Welsh clergyman converted after reading a paper torn from a Puritan folio bought at a fair evidented occurred in the 17th century rather than the 18th; the source is John Flavel who wrote The Mystery of Providence in 1678 (Part I, The Evidence of Providence, Chap. 3, The Work of Conversion):
A scrap of paper, accidentally coming to view, has been used as an occasion of conversion. This was the case of a minister in Wales, who had two livings, but took little care of either. Being at a fair, he bought something at a pedlar’s stall, and tore off a leaf of Mr Perkins’ Catechism to wrap it in, and reading a line or two in it, God sent it home so as it did the work.
Charles Buck, Anecdotes, Religious, Moral, and Entertaining (1831 ed.), p. 115, elaborates:
The Minister Converted By Going To The Fair
Various are the ways in which God is pleased to bring his people to the knowledge of himself. Sometimes it is by stated ordinances, and sometimes by means apparently insignificant. "A scrap of paper," says Flavel, "coming to view, has been used as an occasion of conversion." This was the case of a minister in Wales, who had two livings, and cared little for either. Being at a fair, he bought something at a pedlar's standing, who rent off a leaf of Mr. Perkin's Catechism to wrap it in, and reading a line or two in it, it proved the means of his conversion.
"Mr Perkins' Catechism" refers to The Foundation of the Christian Religion gathered into Six Principles by William Perkins, first published in 1591.
The line from Martin Luther has proven somewhat difficult for me to pin down, but the connection between Luther and his ink is well known. It is said that while in conflict with the Devil he would often thrown his inkwell against the wall, after which he was reported to have said that he had "driven the Devil away with ink." In fact, I have been shown stains on the wall of a room in the Wartburg Castle which are said to be evidence of these events, although it is highly unlikely that actual stains from Luther's inkwell remain on that wall.
Moncure Daniel Conway, Demonology and Devil-Lore (1879 ed.), Vol. 2, p. 286:
Referring to Luther's inkstand thrown at the Devil, Dr. Zerffii, in his lecture on the Devil, says, 'He (the devil) hates nothing so much as writing or printers' ink.'