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Written by J.H. Purifoy   

GOSPEL MESSENGER - AUGUST 1886 

NOTES FROM THE FIELD.

MARQUEZ, TEXAS, April 28th, 1886.--Dear Brother Respess :-I arrived safely in Texas on the 22d inst., at a railroad station called Buffalo, to begin my tour as published in the MESSENGER. Elder Yarborough, and his brother, who is also an Old Baptist, met me at Buffalo and conveyed me to Brush Prairie Church, where I preached twice to them, a small band of good and true brethren, on my route to the first regular appointment, near Madisonville. One night was spent with Elder Yarborough, whose afflicted companion has been confined to her bed for six months or more. From Brush Prairie I was conveyed by Brother Key to the home of Brother Price, at Madisonville, a distance of about thirty-four miles, where I remained till morning, thankful for a good night's rest from the great fatigue of the day before in traveling over a very rough road most of the way. I suppose it was a fair sample of the roads in general in Texas, which become almost impassable in places for the want of work. But if Texans can stand such roads all the time, I know I can for a short time at any rate. Brother Price conveyed me to. Brother Morgan's, who lives in sight of Fellowship church, the only Old Baptist Church, I was told, in Madison County. Twenty-four hours detention on railroad prevented a meeting of three days with Fellowship, as was at first intended, but a delightful meeting of two days was held there. The congregation was tolerably large, and very attentive, notwithstanding a heavy fall of rain both days about meeting time. I here, for the first time met Elders Denton and White. The former is the pastor of Fellowship, the future prospect of which is encouraging. Much interest was manifested in the meeting, and I have good reason to hope there will be an ingathering there soon. Giving those warm hearted brethren, sisters and friends, the parting hand at the close of the meeting, I went home with Brother Wallace for the night, where Brother Gorbet and other brethren gathered in after supper time, and till midnight the time was spent in singing and talking in that brotherly manner so characteristic of our brethren everywhere. What a joy and comfort it is to the servants of the Lord, whose lot it is to minister in word and doctrine, to meet with such encouragement among brethren whom they had never before seen in the flesh. Well may we exclaim: "Behold how they love one another." On Monday morning Brother Wallace conveyed Elder Denton and myself to Brother McClaud's, on Roger's Prairie, where I filled a night appointment made for me at the Missionary Baptist meeting house in the village not far from Brother McClaud’s. Here dear old Brother Gorbet and other brethren met me again, and went with us next day to Shiloh, in Leon County, where I preached in the morning and Elder Denton in the evening. The attendance upon this appointment was good, more than I expected it would be for a rainy day, and the interest manifested in the meeting was all that could be wished for. At the close of the meeting one member was received, who came about nine miles to join from the ranks of the Missionary Baptists. After relating his experience, which was a most touching one, he said when he joined the Missionary Baptists he looked upon them as the true church of Christ, but as time wore on, and he compared their teaching with the teaching of the Scriptures, he was forced to the conclusion that they were not the true church, and as the teaching of the Primitive Baptists accorded with what he believed the Scriptures taught, he was made to believe that they, the Primitive Baptists, are the only true church of Christ. What is remarkable about this case is that he came from a community where there is no Primitive Baptist Church, and where he had no opportunity to hear Primitive Baptist preaching, except a time or two by a special appointment made in that vicinity. I find many here that have come over to us from other denominations, especially from the Missionary Baptists. Elder White is the pastor of Shiloh Church. The heavy rains of yesterday have so overflowed the creek ahead of me, that I am here at Elder White's, water-bound, and can proceed no further until the waters subside. I will write you again as opportunity offers.

Yours in gospel hope. J.H. PURIFOY.

BRYAN, TEXAS. May 6th, 1886. Dear Brother Respess: After leaving Elder White's in Leon county, I was conveyed by him to the railroad at Marquez, pronounced Mar-kay, where both of us took the train for Franklin, from which place we went by private conveyance to Brother Taylor's, in Robertson county, where I preached that night. Here I parted with Elder White, and Brother Taylor conveyed me to Bremond, where I took the train for Benchly, in the neighborhood of Ebenezer Church. A young Brother Wilson met me at the railroad, and after spending the night with a brother of his, he carried me on to the church, where we had a good meeting. Four were added to the church there, where it was my privilege and pleasure to baptize. Their names are as follows; Brother J. D. Barret and wife, Sister Mansell and Sister Edge, wife of Brother W. H. H. Edge, whom you knew in Georgia. The first three came from the Missionaries and moved here from Alabama. After this meeting Brother Edge conveyed me to Little Flock Church, in Brazos county, six miles east of Bryan, in a beautiful and rich section of country, and in a neighborhood where I met several old Alabama friends, whom I had known many years. A two day's meeting was held here and three were added to the church by letter and voucher. One, a dear Sister whom I knew in Alabama, was Sister Emily Barton. The last two named churches have no house of worship of their own, and are weak in numbers and they have no regular preaching, and a. preacher is much needed in this section. Here would be a good place for a preacher to locate, in my judgment. I am made to rejoice that I have the privilege of preaching in this destitute region, because it so exactly accords with my impressions, and I can truly say that the Lord is with us in our meetings. The Brethren are greatly revived and encouraged I am now waiting for the train at Bryan, a pretty little town, to go to my next appointment. I will write you again soon.

Yours rejoicing, J. H PURIFOY.

 

 

TEXAS FIELD NOTES--PART II.

The Gospel Messenger—October 1886

My next appointment was a three days meeting at Maysfield, a good, warm meeting, resulting in three additions to the church. Since then I learn that several more have been added to that church. Bro. Denton rejoined me at Hearsee, and was with me at this meeting. The next appointment was a two days meeting at Beulah church in the upper edge of Lee County; a good meeting but no additions to the church. Here I met with the kindred of Eld. Avery, and the mother of Eld. Baxley. Bro. Jones of Maysfield, a most warmhearted and liberal brother, though stricken with years and rheumatism volunteered to convey us to this appointment, over a long, rough road of about forty miles. It was a heroic undertaking, but faithfully he remained with us till after the meeting, and landed us safely at Rock Dale, where we took the train for San Marcos, about a hundred miles west, over a lovely, open prairie country. We left the train at a station called Hunter, where we were met by Bro. Posey and conveyed to his house for the night, near the place of meeting for the next two days. The church at this place is in a cold and declining condition from what we could see, and but little interest was manifested in the meeting. Here we met Elders Wright and Pate and Bro. Jennings. The next appointment was near Martindale; then at Lockhart, where I preached twice in the Campbellite meeting, house, the last time to a very large and attentive audience on the atonement. It seemed entirely new and strange to them to hear that Christ did not die to save every human being in the world, nor to give every one a chance to be saved, but to save His elect out of every nation, kindred, tongue and people on the face of the earth. From Lockhart, Eld. Wright conveyed us to his house where we had two services, meeting large congregations both times. From thence he conveyed us to our next appointment, at a school-house, where our patience was heavily taxed in waiting for the members of the church to meet after the usual time for preaching. However we had a pleasant meeting. Eld. Denton remained here to rest a few days, and have meeting again on Saturday and Sunday, the regular meeting time. He received and baptized Bro. and Sister Pipkins on Monday following the meeting. In the meantime I, in company with Eld. Pate and Bro. Jennings, conveyed by Bro. Culpepper, went on to Sweet Home in Lavaca county, where we had a delightful two days meeting. Here I met with an old brother, F. O. Culpepper, who is eighty-two years old, and was baptized in Alabama by Eld. Benjamin Lloyd (the author of Lloyd's Hymn Book) before the great division of the Baptists took place, in which division there was a final separation between the Old and the New School Baptists. Here I met also with Eld. Curington, another Alabamian, together with several brethren in company with him, who had come some distance to meet me, which I greatly appreciate. I knew Bro. Curington before he moved to Texas.

The country around Sweet Home is rich and beautiful. A crop can almost be made there before the hot weather sets in. Corn crops can be laid by the middle of May. From Sweet Home we were conveyed to Flatonia, where we took the train for Luling, Bro. Denton joining us on the way. At Luling I had the pleasure of meeting Eld. J. M. and Sister Baker. The hack of Bro. Jennings was waiting for us, and conveyed us to his elegant and hospitable home, which is presided over by his lovely daughters. After supper, Bro. John Hacker took charge of us, Bro. Denton and myself and conveyed us to his house for the night and next morning he landed us safely at San Marcos, where we took the train for our Bell county appointments.

Arriving at Belton, Eld. W. H. Harrell took charge of us. By request I preached two nights, in the stirring and busy little city, in the Methodist meeting house, to small congregations each night. City people do not gather in great crowds to hear Primitive Baptist preachers. Is it because there are so few of the Lord's people there? This is a serious question to my mind. They go in crowds to places of amusement, and in crowds to hear a clownish, sensational man, claiming to be a Gospel preacher. Is our country returning to heathenism, or what is the matter?

My first regular appointment in Bell County was at Pilgrim's Rest Church where we had a good meeting and a large congregation. Here we met many that had ears to hear and hearts to understand. So different from the city people! Blessed are they who hear and know the joyful sound. The next day we went to Mt. Vernon Church where we had another good meeting, and a large, attentive congregation; then on to Little Flock where thc brethren have a good, comfortable meeting-house of their own, and a large membership. Eld. Thomas id the pastor, whom we met together with Eld. Maples. One member was received at this meeting. Another presented himself for membership, who was the treasurer of the Farmers' Alliance, a new secret order in Texas, but finding he could not be received without giving up the Alliance he told the church he would wait till he could be honorably dismissed from the Alliance, which he would have done at its next meeting, and then come to the church. I learn that he kept his word and is now a member of Little Flock Church.

From Little Flock we went to Cedar Grove Church, where we had a delightful two clays meeting. Bro. Denman, a licensed preacher and physician, met us at Little Flock with a good, comfortable conveyance. At Cedar Grove a sister was received from the Missionaries who told a bright and happy experience, and when she was baptized she came up out of the water with a look of joy and gladness that I shall never forget. Here I met Elders Downing and W. Y. Norman, Bro. Downing is called the cowboy preacher, not that he preaches to the cowboys, but because he was a cowboy by occupation when it pleased the Lord to call him. So it seems that there are vessels of mercy even among the profane and wicked cowboys of Texas. Bro. Norman is an Alabamian, and he and Bro. Downing both preached at Cedar Grove. On Easter Sunday, while Bro. Norman was attending meeting there, a cyclone swept away his house, his family just escaping in time by taking shelter in a storm pit in the yard, constructed by a former owner. He lives at Killeen, ten or twelve miles away from the church. His neighbors, seeing what had befallen him, put up another house, I was told, and made him a present of it. We spent one night with Bro. Norman, and here Bro. Denton stopped and went back home on account of his health and home affairs. I felt sad to go on without him, for I had realized the advantage and comfort in having a yoke-fellow with me. It was by two and two, in the days of old, that the disciples went everywhere preaching, and so it ought to be now. The Lord's plan is always the best, and to modify it in any way is not good.

I took the train at Killeen and went to Lampasas, where I was met by Eld. Pouncey and Bro. Adams. The former is an old Alabamian. Bro. Adams had conveyance waiting for me, and soon we were on our way to his house, some five miles from Lampasas, where I found Eld. Mays, formerly of Mississippi, waiting for me after supper we went four miles to Liberty Church, and filled the appointment made there for me. Next day, Eld. Mays conveyed me to Bethlehem Church, my next appointment, where we had a good meeting. The brethren have put them up a good house of worship, and when finished it will present a neat appearance. Here I met Eld. Dumas, the pastor, who conveyed me on the same day to my appointment at night, some ten miles from Bethlehem at a school-house in a place among the mountains, called Langford's Cove.

Here a remarkable incident occurred. After preaching a Bro. Hester came and took me by the hand and said, with animation and delight, "Bro. Purifoy, I know you, and I saw you two weeks ago, and heard you preach." I asked where, and he said, "In a dream; and you have taken the same text tonight, and preached the same sermon, word for word, as well as I can remember, that I heard in that dream; and before I had the dream I had pictured you out in my mind as a small-sized, lean, old man, but in the dream I saw you as you are, and I was so overjoyed in the dream with the sermon that it waked me up, and I could not rest till I waked up my wife and told her of it, and neither of us could sleep any more that night for the joy of that dream." And though it was a dream I was made to rejoice with him and was greatly encouraged and comforted.

So next day Brother and Sister Hester took charge of me and conveyed me on to my next appointment at Sardis Church, where the brethren have erected a large, new house of worship, which, when finished, will be among the best of the few meeting-houses owned by the Primitive Baptists in Texas. They have made one mistake however, and that is in putting the pulpit at the side instead of the end of the house. I asked a brother why they did that. The reply was, "Because that was the custom in Georgia." If Georgia is to be the pattern for our western brethren in this particular respect, I hope Georgia will change the pattern. But after all we had a pleasant meting at Sardis. Here Eld. Harris, the pastor, met me and Eld. Koen and his son, A. B. Koen, who is also an elder. Had meeting that night at Bro. West's. Here Eld. Robert Harrell met me and conveyed me to Pottsville, the next appointment, a two days meeting at Lebanon Church. Pottsville is the home of Eld. Burks, an aged minister too much afflicted to preach much. He is a native of Georgia, I believe. Eld. Harris who is also native Georgian, and pastor of Lebanon Church, conveyed me on to New Hope Church, near the home of Eld. A. V. Atkins whose house I made my home while in that community.

The meeting of New Hope was a glorious one. One member was received that day, and the prospect for others to come soon was made clearly manifest, and I now, since my return home, have a letter from Bro. Atkins stating that six have joined since I was there. I will long remember the precious meeting at New Hope. Bro. Atkins is the pastor. Here Bro. Kendrick took charge of me and conveyed me on, in company with Bro. and Sister Atkins, to Hopewell, Bro. Atkins, pastor. We had a pleasant meeting but nothing like the one at New Hope. From Hopewell Bro. Kendrick conveyed me on to Bethany Church, in the Bosque River Association, in Erath County. Here I met Eld. Caudle, the pastor, and preached to a large and attentive congregation, with what effect I know not, except to stir up greatly a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, who had rather a warm argument with me after preaching.

That night I preached in the railroad town of Alexander to a mixed multitude. Here a brother, with good intentions no doubt, advised me to pull up and return home, for fear the brethren would do so little for me that I would not be able to get home, and he set the example in that line by doing nothing himself. In this he did the Texas brethren at large great injustice, for, though it is a scarce time of money among them, they contributed freely and liberally, so that my expenses were more than met. I lacked nothing on the whole tour. I would take occasion here to say that my dependence is alone in God for my temporal as well as my eternal welfare. So when out on a tour of preaching I give myself no concern or
uneasiness about my expenses, feeling assured that they will be met and attended to by brethren and friends wherever I go. And I have never been disappointed in that particular yet. To the praise of the Texas brethren be it said, they did their duty and did it well.

From Alexander Bro. Kendrick conveyed me to Damascus Church, Where I preached to a crowded congregation in a small, uncomfortable school house, but had a pleasant meeting. From Damascus Bro. Kendrick conveyed me to Ephesus Church, in Comanche County, where his membership is, and I stopped at his house, where Eld. Biggs and family also live, and made it my home while the two days meeting went on at the church near by. At this meeting were Elders Ludon, Caudle, Baleh and Taylor, besides Eld. Biggs, the pastor, and myself. At night I preached in DeLeon, in the Missionary Baptist Church, to a large congregation, with good effect apparently. The meeting at Ephesus closed my appointment in the Harmony Association.

From DeLeon I went to Eastland, where my appointments in the Brazes River Association began. On entering this region of country I beheld a sad sight. On every side I saw entire crops of corn and oats completely ruined by the drought. So that as a general thing there will not be a grain of corn made in all that famine-stricken region. I was told that five hundred miles square would hardly cover it; that in some places of it, further west, there had been no rain to do any good for three years, and in the immediate region where I was, there had not been a good soaking rain in twelve months. Water was scarce and bad, and in the towns I saw water wagons going their rounds selling water at twenty-five cents per barrel. The land in that region is very rich and productive, and when they have a seasonable year heavy crops of all kinds are made. They have too the best of health there. The only drawback is dry weather.

My first appointment was in Eastland in the Missionary Baptist Church. I met a very small congregation there, so small that I thought the famine was having a very bad effect on the religion of Eastland city, the capital of Eastland County. If that is the best Eastland can do in the hour of adversity, I was made to realize the truth of what I have for a long while believed, viz., that the very life and existence of Arminian religion depended on temporal prosperity; that it could not survive the great shock of reverses in fortune. In prosperity it is full of zeal, but in adversity it curses God and dies. Eastland is the home of Eld. Morgan, who arranged my appointments in the Brazes River Association. I enjoyed his company and that of his family and their hospitality for several days.

My next appointment was at Short's schoolhouse, where I met a small congregation. Among them were a few brethren. I saw there more zeal and concern displayed for the Farmers Alliance than for the religion of the Bible. There I met Bro. John Daniel who moved to Texas from Butler county, Alabama, years ago. The next appointment was at Pioneer Church, about ten miles southwest of Cisco, where I met a tolerably large congregation on Sunday, and had a pleasant meeting for two days. Eld. Morgan, pastor of this church and his family were with me, Bro. Short being our escort. My next appointment was a two days meeting at Shiloh Church, Eld. E. J. Dean, a native of Georgia, pastor, Here I met Bro. Dean, and a large congregation, both days of the meeting; and it was a most enjoyable meeting. Though none joined the church it was made manifest that the prospect for an ingathering is bright and encouraging. My next and last appointment in the Brazes River Association was at Pleasant Dale Church, where we had another two days meeting with large congregations and great interest manifested, as at Shiloh, with a good prospect for an early ingathering. Here I met Bro. Stephen Gafford, who came from Butler county, Alabama, many years ago, leaving behind him a large circle of relatives and friends. Bro. Gafford has been identified with the Primitive Baptists about eight years. All my appointments in the Brazes River Association were in the famine-stricken region, and I found all our brethren, as a rule, cheerful, full of hope, believing that the Lord will provide a way for them, in this, their hour of temporal adversity. One brother told me that he had lived there ten years, and that four years of the ten had been just such as this year, and it seemed to him that they got along just about as well during the four years of want as they did in the six years of plenty.

I next took the train at Ranger and went to Gatesville, about two hundred miles by rail, the way I went, to see our beloved brother, John Post. But he was not at home, having come to Troy, Ala., on urgent business. I however had a pleasant and most agreeable time with his family, and preached twice in the Missionary Baptist Church, meeting with several brethren who live in the neighborhood of Gatesville. It occurred to me that there is a fine opening at Gatesville for the organization of a Primitive Baptist Church. From Gatesville I went to Corsicana and spent three days there with a brother in the flesh, and then on to Wortham to meet my last appointment in Texas, a three days meeting at Oak Grove Church, in Free Stone county, twelve miles east of Wortham. I was met at Wortham by Elders Seely and Grizzard, and Elder Denton rejoined me there. Elder Grizzard was a preacher among the Methodists for seven years before he joined the Old Baptists. He has been with us something over a year and has been liberated to preach as a licentiate. The meeting at Oak Grove was a joyous one, the crowning joy of my Texas tour. It resulted in ten additions to the church, with the prospect of more to come in soon. I arrived safely at home after this meeting, and found my family all up, but not all in good health.

Upon the whole I found the fixture prospects of our people in Texas good and encouraging. There are some local questions of doctrine and discipline that are giving trouble there, which has resulted in discord, strife and division in places. One of the questions now affecting the union and fellowship of the churches in the Brazes River Association is concerning the validity of the official acts of an excluded preacher, who it is claimed and said to be proven as a fact, came from another state where he was excluded for disorder of some kind and with a forged letter joined the church in Texas. He was liberated to preach and was ordained and baptized some time before it was found out that he had imposed himself upon the church. The church of his membership being satisfied with the charges against him excluded him, and the question has assumed this shape: that all the churches of that association, which will not declare non-fellowship for said excluded preacher and all his acts, will be dropped from the association. And one or more, which had been baptized by said preacher, have been re-baptized. All the churches in that association have not taken action in the matter, and should they fail to do so will, according to the above demand, be cut off from the fellowship of their sister churches. While they might be willing to declare non-fellowship for the excluded preacher, they might differ about the validity of his official acts. So the query arises, is baptism, an ordinance that belongs to the preacher or the church? Is baptism administered by the authority of the preacher or the church? Is baptism really the act of the preacher? Is it not rather the act of the church, and the preacher as the servant of the church does only what he is authorized to do by the church? Can the church undo her own acts in this particular? Can She undo the official acts of her preachers? The preacher administers the Lord's supper by the authority of the church. Can the church undo the administration of that Ordinance, and make it valid by doing it over? Again, the preacher marries people by the authority he receives from the church. Can the church make that official act, done in the past by her servant, the preacher, null and void, and then make it valid by having such couples remarried? If disorder on the part of the preacher, secret disorder, can make null and void the baptisms performed by him, it surely will make null and void his administrations of the Lord's supper, and every marriage ceremony performed by him. Let this be the decision of our churches in general, would it not produce endless confusion? Would it not be better to decide that as long as the preacher is acting by the authority of a church, that church herself being orthodox and in good standing, every official act of that preacher, though at heart he may be an imposter and secretly be in the grossest disorder is valid and cannot be undone? This I understand has been the rule among the Primitive Baptists ever since the general separation from the New School Missionary Baptists. To adopt any other rule now would cause great trouble, it seems to me. I make mention of this matter because it involves a question of general interest.

Furman, Alabama, July 31, 1886

J. H. PURIFOY

Elder P's position is no doubt correct.--R.

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