header image
Home arrow Historical Documents arrow Individual Histories arrow The Life of Elder Samuel Dark
The Life of Elder Samuel Dark PDF Print E-mail
Written by Elder Samuel Dark   

     I  have many times been requested to write  a  sketch  of  my life, together  with  my  christian  experience, but a sense of my deep sinfulness  and  of a life far from what it should be, has made  me  doubt  if any good could come of it.  But my  life  work  is  now about done, and  having  spent  many  years  of my life testifying to the  goodness  and  mercy  of God in the salvation of sinners,  I  now  wish to leave to my brethren who shall live  after  me a statement of part of the incidents that  have  led  me to trust in a Savior's power to save  poor  wretched sinners.


     I was born in Chatham Co., N. C., within  ten miles  of the county seat, in the year  1808.   My  father  and  mother united with  the  Baptists  in  1802.  In about the year 1809 they moved to Wilson  Co.,  Tenn.,  my father taking a  letter  in  full  fellowship,  but  mother being favorable  to  open  communion,  would  not have a letter.   When  they  reached Tennessee, father would not put his letter  in because he could not believe with the  Baptists  on  the subject of eternal and personal  election;  mother   united  with  the  Methodists,  but   not  agreeing with them on matters pertaining to church  government, left them and finally came back to the  communion  of the Primitive Baptists and  died  in  that  faith.  I had many evidences  of  a  supreme  power  overruling  all things, but grew  up  wild,  thoughtless and wicked.  In  December 1829, I left  the  scenes  of  my  childhood  and  emigrated  to  Schuyler  Co., Ill., stopping awhile in  Kentucky,  reaching  my  destination,  in  company  with   my  parents  and others, in April, 1830.  Here I  took  charge  of  a school near Rushville, in  the  then  backwoods  settlement,  and  after  teaching   six  months commenced another term; but I  discontinued  it  at the call for volunteers for the Black  Hawk war.


     My  parents were much opposed to my going  on  account  of  my being crippled, near  sighted  and  being the youngest son.  I had but two days to get  ready,  and  having to buy a horse and  a  gun,  I  resorted to swearing to keep them from interfering  with  my preparations.  I argued with them that  I  had agreed to go, and that I would not desert, nor  dishonor  my word. During my preparations, I  laid  down  some notes on a table and took  my  father's  gun,  telling him that I intended taking it if  he  did not kill me to prevent it.  Until this day, my  wicked  act  touches my heart.  I turned  and  saw  tears  starting  in my old father's eyes,  but  he  offered  no  further opposition to my  taking  the  gun.   That  act I shall regret as  long  as  life lasts.


     The  company  being organized, and  the  time having arrived for leaving, as we marched past  my  father's  house  the company fired a  salute.   My  dear old mother came to the gate and beckoned  for  me to come to her, which I did.  On my approaching  her, she said, "My son, from what I learn from the  papers,  there  is a strong probability  that  you  will  have to fight every band of Indians  between  here  and Canada, and some think that this is  the   beginning of another British war.  You are exposed  to  death in ten thousand ways; you may be  killed  by  accident,  slain in battle, thrown  from  your  horse  or drowned; so I may never see  you  again.   And if I never see you again, what evidence  shall  I  have that you are not in hell?"   Knowing  that  this proceeded from a kind mother's heart, I could but  answer  her respectfully, and this I  did  by  saying,  in  order  to evade a  long  and  serious  conversation,  "What can I do?"  Her brief  answer  was:  "Pray."   Wishing to  cut  the  conversation  short,  my reply was, "You pray for me."  At  this  she  turned her back to me, and raised  her  right  hand   heavenward,  and  seemingly  with   intense  earnestness,  screamed  out this prayer:  "Go,  my  son, and the Lord be with you."  This parting from  a dear mother under such solemn circumstances, had  its  influence, and I did not curse and swear  for  several  days.  But my propensity  for  wickedness and  levity  proved  that  my  goodness  was  like Ephraim's of old, which like the morning cloud and  the  early  dew, soon passed away, and  I  plunged  into my former course of levity and profanity with  a  degree  seemingly unparalelled.   I  became  so  noted  that I gained the title of  "Schuyler  fool  killer;"  and to this day I tremble to think  that  the  honor  of my God and the glorious  gospel  of  peace,  was  so trivial in my  estimation  that  I  trampled  on them and everything sacred,  to  make   mirth  for  my fellow soldiers.  It was  not  many  days until I was so distinguished for these things  that  I  was  as well known,  personally,  as  the  commander  in  chief.   While  going  on  in  this  career, it is said that I preached the funeral  of  an old horse that had died.


     Near  the  time when we were to  be  mustered  out,  I  thought  to get on  good  terms  with  my  messmate,  whom  I had so abused with  my  ungodly  career  that we had come near fighting.  I had  no  real  enmity  towards him, however, but  had  been  simply  gratifying  my  disposition  for  my   own  amusement.   I found him in conversation  with  an  old  man  who had out done him in  ruffianism  and  blasphemy.   I thought here was an opportunity  to  get  into  the  good  graces  of  my  messmate  by  bringing this old man to shame.  I feigned to be a  young  minister, and to be greatly shocked by  his  profane   language.    I  turned  upon   him   the  accusations  that  I thought  best  calculated  to   ring  him to confess his error and, possibly,  to  bring  out  a  promise  of  reformation.   I   was  successful.   I said to him, "My old father, if  I  may  call  you  by that  endearing  name,  I  must  confess  that  when I see a man  of  such  natural  talent,  by his pernicious influence and  example, dragging  down to hell so many youths of the  land  who  have enlisted to defend the rights  of  their  country,  and  at the same time drawing  down  the  vengeance  of God on his own grey head, I am  made  to shudder."


     I  continued on in this strain, but  my  eyes  were turned within to see the character of my  own  poor soul, and I saw that all that I said was  the  truth in regard to myself, and every evil  thought  and  act  of  my life was as though  it  had  been  written  page after page.  I seemed drawing  right  into the very mouth of perdition, yet I could  not  stop talking until I had uttered these words:  "It  is  with  such men as Dr. Young  said:  'With  the  talent  of  an angel, a man may be a  fool.'"   On  uttering  this, it was as though a bolt  of  light  had  pierced  through  my soul,  which  came  near  throwing  me  to  the ground.   I  staggered,  but  recovered myself, and turned expecting to see  the  ground  open  and swallow me up, and felt  that  I  should sink down to hell.       Notwithstanding  all  this,  I  kept  to   my  purpose of degrading the old man, and made my true  character  known to him by a foul remark, and  was  introduced  to him as the "Schuyler fool  killer."   He cursed me bitterly, and threatened to kill  me.  I  soon retired to my tent, and spent  nearly  the  whole night in horror and sleeplessness, getting a  little  sleep just before day.  On awakening  next  morning, a great change seemed to have  overspread  creation.  I had read in the word of God that  the  earth  was  cursed  for  man's  sake.   The  earth  assumed  an aspect that I had never  seen  before.   The  earth and the heavens seemed  drawn  together  and a curse seemed to rest on all that I saw.  The  army  of 4,000 men was camped in a  hollow  square  and  everything  that I could  see  looked  grimly  unnatural.  And, strange as it may seem to some, I  could not bear with any degree of patience to hear  their shocking oaths and blasphemies.  They seemed  to pierce my heart as with a spear; so I left  the  camp   some  two  or  three  hundred  yards.    My  seclusion seemed to avail me nothing, for the sins  of  my  life that had  heretofore  been  forgotten  seemed  to  loom  up before me as  so  many  fiery  balls; and sufficient, they seemed, to set  heaven  and  earth ablaze.  My soul trembles to  think  of  the horror that I felt.  I seemed to stand on  the  crust  of  a volcano over the mouth of  a  burning  crater.   I  fancied that the weight  of  my  sins  would  break it through and that the hottest  hell  would soon be mine.


    In  this condition, I asked myself if any  one had  told  me  that  I was  in  this  doleful  and  distressed condition.  My mind turned then to  the  ministers of the M. E. church, who had always been one my   favorite   preachers,  in   connection   with  Cumberland  Presbyterians  and  others  who   held  Arminian  tenets.  I had formerly looked on  these  as being the heralds of the truth.  Many of  their  representations  as  to man having a good  and  an  evil spirit in him came to my mind.  But, alas! my  poor  soul  was,  morally,  a  barren  heath  with  nothing good, I was wholly sinful.  After thinking  of  many,  my  mind wandered  to  an  Old  Baptist  preacher named Presley Lester.  I had listened  to  him for many hours while he seemed to be deploring  the  utter depravity of the whole human  race.   I   had  formerly listened, disbelieving all  that  he said  in  regard  to man's  inability  to  deliver himself  from sin and misery.  Many parts  of  his  sermons  seemed to roll through my  mind, though  I  had  not  heard  him for two  years  and  was  six  hundred miles away from him.  Now, I saw that  the  mistake  was  on my part, touching myself  and  my  condition.  He had only partly described my  utter  pollution  and  hopeless  condition;  and  I   now  realized  that, morally speaking, "the whole  head  was sick, and the heart faint, and that I was full  of putrefying sores from the soles of the feet  to  the head. There was no soundness there."  Four  or  five  of the same order came into mind,  and  they  all  seemed  to have borne testimony to  the  same  awful  truth, and, notwithstanding I had  formerly  considered them as simpletons or bigots, who loved  to  differ with good preachers, I  now  discovered  that they had come near the truth in my case.   In  my  mind, they seemed to go side by side,  neither  turning  to the right nor to the left, but  to  go  straight   forward,  declaring   the   everlasting  gospel;  and I felt that most of the  Old  Baptist  doctrine  was  right.  (Afterwards I  embraced  it all.)


     In May, 1831, we were discharged and returned home,  but  the tumult in my bosom  continued  for our  and a half months.  During this time  I  did everything  that I could to drive  these  feelings  away.   I cursed, danced, went in  rough  company,  but  it all did no good; all that I could  do  was  only  heaping  up wrath against  myself.   On  the  third   Sunday   in  September   I   attended   an  association.    From  what  occurred   there   the  Baptists  were somewhat mixed up with  a  preacher  that  spoke  from  his learning  and  other  men's  works; as one preacher who was appointed to preach  on Sunday used a part of one of Blair's  lectures,  a British divine.  Returning from the meeting that  evening with a young lady and two other couples, I  jocosely  referred to the sermon of Brother  Allen  (as  I called him); and I repeated fully  half  of  it,  as  I had learned it when a boy.   The  young  lady that I was with afterward became my wife.   I  had long contemplated paying my attentions to her,  and  was very glad of this opportunity,  and  only  regretted   that  this  dull  and  heavy   feeling   rendered  me less entertaining than I  desired  to  be.   I  had  never been  at  her  father's  house  before, though it was near my father's.  In  order  to rid myself of these serious impressions, I left  the company of the other young people, and went to  the  west end of the house where there  were  some  hewed  logs  lying close together, and on  them  I  tried  dancing  once more.  But  the  King's  dart  stuck  so  deep  in the center of  my  soul,  that  instead  of  relieving  me it only  made  me  feel  worse.   The very sky above me seemed  like  brass  and  the  earth like iron.  I felt to  be  a  poor  abandoned   creature,  and  felt  that  my   death  sickness was on me, and that I should soon die.  I  walked  into the room, and notwithstanding  I  was  almost an entire stranger to them, I threw  myself  on a bed in despair, exclaiming, "I am sick."  The  girls  playfully feigned to administer to my  case with  medicinal  skill.   But  all  their  playful  efforts were like tearing my heart-strings, and  I  said  to them, "For God's sake, girls,  leave  me; you don't know what is the matter with me."  Their  reply  was,  "O yes sir, we can cure you,  we  can  cure  you."   We soon started to meeting,  and  O,  what  melancholy  feelings I had in regard  to  my  poor  soul!  and  longed  for  a  call  from  God,  believing  that the invitations of Arminians  were  such calls.  I took my seat in a porch, while  the  minister stood in the house; and I listened to him  as  best  I could.  The preacher was a  plain  old  farmer,  a man of honest integrity, Elder  Wilcox,  whose body lies three miles west of Canton, and by  whose grave I have passed many times to preach  to  his  relatives.  His text was - "Of whom  speaketh  the  prophet this? of himself or some other  man?"   In his illustration of the text, by way of showing  the condition of mind that the Eunuch was then in,  I  really  thought he aimed his  remarks  for  me,  personally,  as I saw Elder John Logan and  others  present  who had been fellow soldiers with  me  in  the army, and who knew my character.  He seemed to  lay  my darkest sins bare and bring out  the  very  secret thoughts of my heart, and tell all about my  notions  of  a saving religion, and hold  them  in  utter  derision before the people to  that  extent  that  I  thought  that  my  character  was  ruined  forever.   I  could  but acknowledge  that  I  was   guilty of every crime that he charged me with, and  he held them out to public gaze so vividly that  I  expected every moment that he would call me out by  name, thinking that he had obtained the facts from  those  who were acquainted with me.  I  could  not  conceive how a Christian could delight in exposing  a  poor  lost  being to the extent  that  he  did,  knowing  that I was doomed to  utter  destruction.   However,   after  giving  a  description   of   my  character  and  just  condemnation,  he  made  the  inquiry publicly, "Is there any poor soul here  in  this  condition?"  My thoughts were, "If I  should  say  yes,  his reply could be  nothing  else  than  something  like  this - 'Depart, ye  cursed,  into  everlasting  fire prepared for the devil  and  his  angels.'"  But instead of pursuing that course, he  remarked,   "If   there  is,   I   have   glorious  intelligence for you; God has intentions of  mercy  towards you."


     I discredited the statement, somewhat, but he had told the truth so clearly that I came to  this  conclusion -- "Am I yet out of hell, after so much  dreadful  apprehension?   And is there  yet  mercy  with  God for such a life-time enemy to God  as  I  have been and am?  If there is mercy, I will  seek  it."   And  then  for six weeks  I  made  constant  supplication  night  and  day,  when  awake,   for  forgiveness  of my sins.  Before this I had  never thought  of praying to God, for I thought that  to insult  him  by  praying  to  him,  would  end  in  plunging  me  to  hell.   I  had  a  book  in   my possession entitled "Imitation of Christ."  In  it were  a great many forms of prayer that I  thought  very beautiful and applicable to my case.  I would  occasionally read one a few times and then  retire  to offer it in secret in my own behalf.  But  poor  headway was made in this way, however, for after a  few weeks my case became so desperate that I would  forget  my  prayer before I could get out  of  the  schoolhouse.   Finally, I came to  the  conclusion  that, according to the word of God, there was such  a  thing as a conditional salvation, and that  the  part I had to do was to offer a perfect prayer  to  God.  I thought at that time that I was able to do  it,  and  that if I did not perform  it,  and  God  should send me to hell, I should try to  acquiesce  in  my condemnation; and that in the event that  I  did offer it and God did not save me in answer  to  my prayer, and sent me to hell, I would point from  its  dark caverns and tell him that he  had  said,  "Every one that seeketh, findeth," and "Knock  and  it  shall be opened unto you."  After  calling  on  everything, animate and inanimate, to witness  the  sincerity of my heart, and the fulfillment of  the  condition  on my part, I retired to a dense  clump  of underbrush and dropped on my knees in order  to  offer  this perfect prayer.  I stayed on my  knees  several inutes,and if it had been to have  saved  a  thousand  worlds, I could not  have  uttered  a  word.   So  I stood there on my  knees  condemned.   The  sky looked dark and lowering, and I  expected  God's  vengeance  to break forth upon me;  and  as  fast as I could I made my way to the house.  While  going to the house, this thought came to me:  "You  have  never yet believed in a  scriptural  sense."   That  thought was followed by a  declaration  from  Paul  that  without  faith it  was  impossible  to  please  God, and whatsoever is not of faith is  of  sin.  Now I saw that all my prayers were only  the cries  of  an  unbelieving heart and  I  had  been  building  my  hopes  on  a  false  foundation,  my  prayers being sinful and vile in the sight of God.   I  here  died  to legal hope, for I  saw  that  my  prayers had been employed by me as a means to  put  myself  where God could reach me.  The  wickedness  of my best prayers seemed to contain sin enough to  damn ten thousand worlds if they had  been  imputed  to them.


     I went into the school house, thinking that I  would  never  ask  God to  have  mercy  any  more.   Seeing  a  New  Testament lying on  a  bench,  the  thought occurred to me, "I will read  condemnation  in  you once more," as though I was addressing  it  personally.   I  opened to the last  part  of  the  gospel  of  Matthew and there read of  the  trial,  maltreatment  and crucifixion of my blessed  Lord.   My  sympathy  was excited,  exceedingly,  for  the  innocent  sufferer.  I looked on him as  a  fellow  sufferer,  with this difference, I  should  suffer  eternally  for my sins, while he had done  nothing  worthy of punishment or maltreatment. My  sympathy  was  so  excited in his behalf that  I  thought  I  would  have risked my life or have  delivered  him  from his enemies.  Poor blind heart!  Little did I think -  

        "'Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,
           His chief tormentors were -
         Each of my crimes became a nail,
           And unbelief the spear."

     By  some  unaccountable  means,  every   word  became very interesting and I thought to read  the  words  over again.  Never before had I  seen  such  beauty in God's word.  But instead of  re-reading,  something  urged me to read on.  When I came  near  the  close of the 27th chapter, I felt  to  regret  that I was so nearly done this wonderful  recital.   I  read  on to the 6th verse in the  28th  chapter  with my back to the school, standing with my  face  to  the window, which was simply a log cut out  to  let  in the light, and read, "He is not here;  for  he is risen as he said.  Come see the place  where  the Lord lay."  I felt a touch on my shoulder, and  supposing  it  to be one of my pupils,  raised  my  head to turn around.  But what was my surprise, to  see  before me, as I looked through the window,  a  man,  seemingly composed of richest blood.  I  did  not  see  it with my natural vision, for  a  young   man, named Henry Wright, was just at my left  hand  and  in position to see all that I could see.  But,  nevertheless,  I saw him suspended in  air,  lying  prone,  with  his  head upon  his  arms,  and  ten  thousand  times  ten thousand bolts  of  lightning  striking the quivering form from every direction.      I was moved to pity the object of such wrath.   The  passage  of scripture that I  had  just  read  connected itself with the object of my wonder, and  I exclaimed in my mind, "There he is; he is indeed  risen."   But there seemed no  connection  between  all  this and myself, more than sympathy  for  the  suffering  form which was the meekest object  that  mortal mind ever contemplated.  But a few drops of  blood   leave  the  quivering  form,  and   flying  straight,  strike  my breast.  A  happy  sense  of  relief  flowed  like a deluge over my  soul.   The  blood was for me, and its efficacy had been  felt.   I  threw the book from me, thinking that I  should  need it no more.


     The  blood  flew  everywhere,  and  was  over everything,  and by its efficacy all was  made  to   glorify  God.  I turned to look at my school;  but  what  a  transformation had  taken  place!   Their  faces all seemed glorified, and the homeliest  was  beautiful.   I thought that I would go out to  the  place  where I was accustomed to pray and  see  if  it, too, had changed.  I left the school room  and  found  all  nature glistening with  the  reflected  rays of the sun, as though everything was  covered  with  gold and silver.  I reached the  place,  was  convinced,  and exclaimed, "It is enough."   There  was  nothing  now between me and  heaven.   Not  a  single  thing  could stand as an  obstacle,  since  Christ  had done everything that was to  be  done.   He  had put away my sins and so purified my  heart  that  I should never sin any more.  There was  but  one  thing to cause me any trouble, and that  was,  there  had been no way provided for me to show  my  gratitude.   Christ had done everything, and  left  me  absolutely  nothing  to do  that  could  fitly express  my love.  If I had been called on to  die  at  the  stake,  I would gladly  have  untied  the martyr's  hands, have taken his place and  offered  up  my life to show my love.  There were no  songs  that  were grand enough in thought and  words,  to  express my love and estimation of the God who  had  so wonderfully wrought a great deliverance for  my  soul.


      It could not be expressed, and I was left  to  contemplate it in silence because it could not  be spoken.   While these thoughts were prevailing  in my  mind,  the  words of Paul came  to  me  -  "O,  wretched man that I am.  Who shall deliver me from  the body of this death?"  I could not believe that  Paul was a representative Christian.  He certainly  had never felt what I felt.  Miserable man that he  was,  he  had  never  realized  such  a  wonderful  deliverance  as  I  had  witnessed  in  my   case.   Likewise,  the  words of David caused me  to  feel  pity for him.  For had he not said, "The pains  of  hell had well nigh got hold on me."  I thought  if  he had felt the glory of the celestial world as  I  had done, he could never have had such feelings as  that.  O, the glory of that salvation!  I could as  easily  make  a  world as  I  could  describe  its  heavenly beauties.


     At night, after this, while in this state  of  mind,  I  looked up toward the heavens and  saw  a   line reaching across the heavens from the  eastern  horizon to the western, as straight as a  sunbeam.   There  was  not a cloud to be seen; on  the  south  side  of the line, however, there were  multiplied  millions  of insects, but they never passed  north  of  the  line.  On that side it was  as  clear  as  crystal.   And notwithstanding they came  in  vast  clouds up to the line, not one was seen beyond it.   I was perplexed.  I asked, in my mind, "What  does  this  mean?   The answer came immediately, not  to  the outer ear, but as clear to my understanding as  though it had been spoken by a thousand thunders -  "Just  as many insects as you see  passing  before  you, so many sins, oppositions, trials,  troubles,  conflicts  and  tribulations shall you  meet  with  before you reach heaven; but in the name of him in  whom  you have believed, you shall reach there  at  last."   I did not see this by natural light,  for  it  was  only  moonlight and yet  it  appeared  as  clearly as though seen by the noonday sun.   While  thinking  of  this,  the  doctrine  of  the  final  perseverance  of  the saints was impressed  on  my  mind.  I  looked  toward the east,  and  the  line  reached  as  far as I could see; seeming  to  mean  that through my whole life, whatever was meant  by  this  sight,  should continue to  be  true.   That  though  sins  and perplexities like  thick  clouds  should  cover my life, the Lord would say to  them  as  he did to the waters of the ocean - "Thus  far  shalt thou come, but no further, and here let  thy  proud  waves  be  stayed."   It  also  seemed   to indicate that he would not suffer me to be tempted  above  what I was able to bear, and,  perhaps,  to  represent the unalloyed happiness of heaven.  With  this view of the merciful protection of the God of  heaven  for  his saints in bringing  them  through  great  tribulations,  I broke forth  singing  that  grand and glorious old hymn -

   "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
   Is laid for your faith in his excellent word."

     Earth  and  heaven  seemed to  be  one  grand  auditorium,  reverberating  with  soul   absorbing  harmony  the  praise of the glorious God  for  the  salvation of his people.  I sung the hymn through,  and now, in my very soul, I bear testimony to  the  truth, that -

     "E'en down to old age, all my people shall prove
     My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
    And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
    Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne."

    My locks have whitened for the tomb, but  the  God of heaven has not forsaken me.      I  spent that night in joyful  exaltation  of  soul.   The ecstasy of sins forgiven  softened  my  bed so that I seemed to rest on air.  A few nights  after  this, I attended a prayer meeting and  went  there  expecting  to  hear  them  rejoicing  in  a  Savior's  love.   But what was  my  disappointment  when  they began confessing themselves sinners  in  the sight of God, and praying for his forgiveness.   O,  I thought, if they had been in  my  condition,  with  their sins entirely removed from them,  they  would have no need for confession.


     I  was glad that I was not one of them.   But  how horror struck was I to hear with the ear of my  understanding, the words - "I thank thee, Lord God  of  heaven and earth, that I am not as other  men,  nor  even  this poor publican."  I  began  sinking  down into a horrible pit, and down I went until  I  rested  upon  this text - "I know in whom  I  have  believed,"  etc., II Timothy 1: 12.  This did  not  raise  me  up, but it kept me from  getting  lower  down.  The preacher came around and asked me how I  got along.  I answered, "Tolerably well," thinking  that  he had reference to my school.  "But,"  said  he,  "I meant spiritual things."  I did  not  know  what  to say.  My mind was in gloom, but  I  could  not  say  that I knew nothing about it,  for  this text  came into mind - "He that denieth me  before men, him will I deny before my Father and his holy  angels."  I answered him - "I do not know what you  call religion, but I know that I have an  interest  in the blood of the atonement."  He turned to  the  people  and said, "Brethren, we have great  reason  to  pray.   This  young man says that  he  has  an  interest   in   the  blood  of   the   atonement."   Something seemed to say to me, "Now you have  done  it;  you are now what you have always  despised  -  nothing but a hypocrite."  I went home in  company  with other young people, but I took no interest in  their  conversation.   When we got nearly  home  I  heard my old father and mother crying, my  sisters  having  preceded  us and told the news.   When  we  went  in, as soon as my mother could  command  her  voice, she said to me, "My son, they tell me  that  you  have  made a profession, and so  many  of  my  children  have  gone back, you must tell  it."   I  said,  "Mother, it is true."  I then proceeded  to relate  what I had seen and felt, feeling that  no  one  else  had ever realized what I  had,  and  so  could not believe that any one could credit what I  said.    To  my  joy,  my  mother  told   me   her  experience,  and it seemed more wonderful than  my  own.  This gave me great encouragement, for if  no  one else had any confidence in me my mother  would  fellowship me.  The following Sunday, I attended a  camp  meeting, but could gather nothing from  what  was said that was in harmony with my feelings; but  the  Saturday  following, I attended  Crane  Creek  church and heard Elder Dale, of Kentucky,  preach.  After   preaching,  Elder  John  Logan   gave   an  invitation  to any who might desire to unite  with  the  church.   It seemed that  no  physical  force  could  have  kept me from going  forward.   I  was  heartily  received by the brethren, was  baptized,  and  so commenced the campaign with  the  Militant  Kingdom of the God of heaven, and -   

           "For her my tears shall fall,
           For her my prayers ascend;
           To her my toils and care be given,
           Till toils and cares shall end.

           Beyond my highest joy,
           I prize her heavenly ways,
           Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
           Her hymns of love and praise."

     In  just  about one year after I  joined  the  church,   she  rid  herself  of   the   missionary  innovation  in all of its branches.  Finding  that  money  and  not grace, gave a  standing  in  these  societies,    and   measured   the    degree    of  acceptability  among those who engaged in them,  I  fought  them to the extent of my ability,  feeling  to  yield my life in defense of the principles  of  grace  and the law which God had delivered to  his  church;  and had I sixty years more to  engage  in  the service of my King, I should devote them to  a  defense of the same glorious truth.


      In  about  six  months  after  I  joined  the  church,  I began to be impressed with passages  of  scripture,  and notwithstanding I  strove  against  the  impressions,  in about one year  I  began  to  speak  publicly from texts, and in seven or  eight  years more I was ordained to the full work of  the  gospel  ministry,  on September 22nd, 1846,  by  a  presbytery  composed of Elders Charles  Vandeveer,  Thomas H. Owens, John Harper, Jacob Castlebury and  John Driskill.  For a time I served from three  to  four  churches  monthly,  but owing  to  my  being  afflicted with neuralgia I left off attending  any  but the one where my membership was.


     I  shall  now give some account  of  my  home  life.   In  the year 1834, I was married  to  Miss  Matilda  Evelyn Moore, of Schuyler Co., Ill.   She  was  a  worthy  member of  the  Primitive  Baptist  Church at the time of our marriage.  She had  that  fatal disease, however, consumption, and  departed  this life September 22, 1836, in the full hope  of  a  blessed  immortality.  She left  me  an  infant  daughter  eighteen months old, which my  dear  old  mother  took charge of.  This only pledge  of  our  mutual  affection  was taken from me  when  nearly  four  years  of age.  I  continued  preaching  and  teaching school, and in the year 1841, was  united  in  marriage  to  Miss  Christina   Waymack,   of  McDonough Co., Ill.  I lived in harmony and  great  enjoyment  with her until her decease,  July  6th,  1863.  She was a member of the church at the  time  of  our  marriage.  We were  blessed  with  eleven children,  three  sons  and  eight  daughters.   I desire to say of my departed companions that  they  were  very  suitable for  an  afflicted,  way-worn  minister  of Christ.  They frequently urged me  to  attend   my  appointments  notwithstanding   their  affliction  and the temporal wants of our  family.   December  6th, 1866, I was married to  Mrs.  Nancy  Morris,  widow  of Isaiah Morris, late  of  Fulton  Co., Ill.  She had two daughters and one son while eight  of  my children remained  at  home,  making  eleven in all, and we enjoyed as much harmony  and  peace  as  any  family  of  like  size  within  my   knowledge.


     By   reason  of  blindness,  and   the   many infirmities  that attend old age, I was forced  to  rent  my  farm in Schuyler County, and  remove  to  Macomb, Illinois, where we expect to spend our few remaining   days.   We  take  great  pleasure   in  visiting  the  dear  children of  the  kingdom  in  different localities and feel thankful to God that  we can hear the "Sons of consolation" set forth in  a lucid and forcible manner the glorious gospel of  our  salvation.  My whole life has  been  hindered  and   hedged   about   with   imperfections    and  weaknesses,  and  if I have comforted any  of  the  Lord's  poor,  or  have  in  any  way  helped   to  strengthen  the church, all the praise  should  be  given  to him who through his love and  mercy  has  suffered  me to live and comforted me by his  holy  spirit,  and  given  me  the  high  privilege   of  associating with those who trust in his name.


     I regret, exceedingly, that I have not  lived  nearer  the  cross of my blessed Redeemer.   I  am  ashamed  to  have  neglected  his  entreaties  and  violated  his commands, and feel that it  is  only  because  of his mercy and goodness that I  have  a  hope  that I shall yet realize the fulfillment  of  all the promises made to the heirs of grace.  I am now in my 84th year, and shall soon pass away; and  I  entreat that all the church stand firm  on  the  doctrine  of grace, letting love abound  in  their  hearts  and bringing forth the fruits  thereof  to  the   honor  and glory  of  our  God.   "Finally, brethren,  farewell.   Be  perfect,  be  of   good  comfort,  be of one mind, live in peace;  and  the  God of love and peace shall be with you."

         "May Zion's sons in peace abound,
           And put their foes to flight;
         While I am sleeping underground,
           May they in love unite."
Next >

Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.