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Written by J.H. Purifoy   



On the 15th of May I left home to fill a tour of appointments in the Zion’s Rest Association of Alabama, the Bethany and Good Hope of Mississippi. I visited six churches of the Zion’s Rest, sixteen of the Bethany, and four of the Good Hope Association. The tour began at Jefferson, Ala., on the 17th and 18th of May, and ended at New Chapel, near Pulaski, Scott County, Miss. The churches visited of the Zion’s Rest Association are located in Marengo, Sumter County, Ala., Kemper and Lauderdale, Miss. Those of the Bethany are located in the counties of Leake, Newton, Neshoba and Scott, and those of the Good Hope in the counties of Jasper, Smith and Scott. Eld John Brown is the moderator of Zion’s Rest Association, and Bro. W. R. Brooks clerk. Eld. J. G. Crecelius for years has been the moderator of the Bethany, W. W. N. Banks, clerk, and the Good Hope, a newly constituted association of five churches out of the Bethany, has for her moderator Eld. A. J. Stewart, and A. B. Amason clerk. I had the pleasure and satisfaction of meeting the following named elders, whose names and post office address I give for the benefit of any who may wish to correspond with any of them, to-wit: Of the Zion’s Rest Association, Eld. Ed. Williams, Jefferson, Marengo county, Ala.; J. A. Cobb. York, Sumter county, Ala.; J. C Williams, Sucarnoochee, Kemper county, Miss.; N. S. Pace, Spinks, Kemper county, Miss; .John Harbour, Spinks, Kemper county, Miss; John Brown, Bailey, Lauderdale county, Miss. Of the Bethany, J. G. Crecelius, Steele, Scott county, Miss.; W. J. McGee, Chunkey, Newton county, Miss.; J. R. Willis, Williston, Leake county, Miss.; J. S. McCauley, Coosa, Leake county, Miss.; D. Alderman, Coosa, Leake County, Miss.; A. J. Craig, Meridian, Miss.; W. S. Ferguson, Hickory, Newton county, Miss.; T. F. Gardner and T. J, Stamper, Stamper, Newton county, Miss.; A. Hollingsworth, Decatur, Newton county, Miss.; S. E. Pennington, Hickory, Newton county, Miss.; L. Joiner, Morton, Scott county, Miss., and H. R. Tolbert, Edinburg, Leake county, Miss., and of the Good Hope, A. J. Stewart, Pulaski, Scott county, Miss., and S. V. Ford, Bezer, Smith County, Miss., numbering twenty-one in all. If I have overlooked the names of any of our elders with whom I met it is not intentional, but an oversight and the name has slipped from my memory.

In all my travels and preachings for the last six years I have never visited churches that are better supplied with good preachers, and, as a general thing, peace abounds among them. I found some little trouble of a local nature, which I feel to hope will soon all disappear. I was cordially received and welcomed by the brethren at every appointment. The congregations were  generally large, orderly and attentive, and so great was the interest taken and manifested in the preaching that I was made to feel that the Lord truly had gone before me and prepared the hearts of His people to receive me gladly, and not only they, but many of other orders, and many who have never identified themselves with any order were so deeply impressed and moved by the blessed truths of the gospel, that I feel constrained to say that I found many witnesses to the work of grace in the heart, who, I hope, will soon become identified with us. The prospect for an increase among the churches visited is the best I have ever witnessed in all my travels. The brethren seem all alive, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness With feelings of gratitude and thankfulness I look back upon their great kindness to me, and did it not take up so much space I would mention the name of every brother who so kindly conveyed me from one appointment to another, and who, with their beloved companions, so generously shared their hospitality with me and cared for me at their homes. Surely I can never forget the loving kindness manifested towards me everywhere on the tour, and at every appointment I was most cordially invited to visit them again.

This tour has confirmed me in what I have felt all the while to be the duty of every one called, qualified and sent of God to preach, and that is to go just wherever God sends him. If he sends him to churches well supplied with preachers, it is because he has a use for him there, and there they must go. If it be to destitute regions, he must go there and look alone to the Lord for temporal support, who has the power over the hearts of all men to open them to minister to his temporal necessities.

All Primitive Baptists profess to believe that God calls, qualifies and sends whom he pleases to preach the gospel, and that he sends them when and where he pleases to preach, and there they ought to be willing to leave it. Trying to set bounds to God’s work, and prescribing fields of labor for his servants is an assumption of power and authority warranted no where in the Bible. I feel to hope and believe that my steps are ordered of the Lord, therefore, I must go where He orders my steps, and for any to oppose me is not fighting against me but against God, for it is to Him I stand or fall. “He that receiveth you receiveth me,” is what Jesus told his disciples as he sent them forth, and by which they were to know who had received Christ in their hearts, and in whom he was formed the hope of glory. What we do to the heirs of salvation we do, in effect, to Christ himself. “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least one of my brethren, ye did it unto me.” It is well to be very careful, then, how we speak and how we act, lest we hurt “the oil and the wine,” or “offend one of these little ones” and become an offender before God, and subject ourselves to His displeasure and to His judgments.

Another thing I learned from this tour and that is, that things written against me and false rumors afloat against me, have rather turned out in my favor. Brethren who had become aware of the opposition against me before they saw me and heard me preach, and who felt that they would possibly dislike me very much more after they saw and heard me, being unfavorably influenced toward me by the opposition they had seen against me in our papers and from flying rumors against me, have become warm sympathizers, and fully and freely endorse me. “A man’s gift will make room for him.” And God is making room for me in the hearts of his people by the gifts he has been pleased to bestow on me, I humbly trust, and it fills my hitherto aching heart with a peace and a joy that I cannot describe.

In conclusion, I want to say to all who have written kindly about me, and to all who have spoken in my behalf, that I appreciate their fraternal interest in me, and their regard for me, far more than I am able to express in words. Such causes me to “thank God and take courage;” and for those who oppose me I try to have the best of feelings, but I must confess that I am so weak  in the flesh that I cannot fully keep down the same bad temper and bad feelings they display in their writings against me. Our words in print carry with them our feelings, whether good or bad, whether we know it or not, and those who oppose me will never make me love them any better, but I do hope it will humble me so that I will not have malicious and revengeful feelings toward them, and if any words written or spoken by me in the past have hurt and wounded the feelings of precious brethren, as I have had mine hurt and wounded by the opposition that is against me, I here from the bottom of my heart confess my wrong and beg them to forgive me, and pray God to so control my tongue and pen that neither will ever be used again to hurt my brethren. But if it is God’s will that I should be wounded and bruised by brethren I want to be able to bear it in silence, meekness and patience. There may be a necessity for it, and when that is accomplished it will result in great good to me, though I may not be able to see and understand it that way now. I earnestly ask an interest in the prayers of all God’s people, that the Lord may lead me to overcome my fleshly nature, and use me to the honor and glory of His name, and the comfort and upbuilding of His people.

Selma, Ala., July 15, 1891. J. H. PURIFOY

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 September 2006 )
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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.