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Experience of J. H. Oliphant PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   


MESSENGER OF PEACE—APRIL 2, 1883

Originally Written: August 25, 1869

My dear Uncle and Aunt and Family, and especially our old Grandfather Carmichael: We are in common health and doing as well as could be expected so far as worldly affairs are concerned. With joy inexpressible, I, J. H. Oliphant proceed to relate to you what I hope the Lord has done for my family.

During the tour of last winter by Poynter, Buchanan and Thomas, I became interested on the subject of religion. I saw myself wretched and undone, a condemned sinner before the Lord. I made many and repeated efforts to pray, but the more I strove against sin’s power, I felt its weight and guilt the more. I often thought of banishing these feelings, but when such thoughts came to my mind I would think of the fact that I must meet the Lord in peace, or in His wrath go to eternity, and pass through the shades of death; and I thought of the sufferings of Christ and the glories of Heaven. I felt a strange admiration for the people of the Lord. I indeed thought my case a hopeless one, in my efforts to pray, there was sin of deepest, dye mixed with every thought. In anguish and despair, I went to sleep one night; while asleep I thought that Christ was buried in my father’s yard, and I saw him when He arose from the dead. He wore a distressed countenance. He seemed weary and covered with grief. I approached him and told him my condition and begged mercy, which he with a smile granted. This occurrence did not awake me and my soul did rejoice greatly until I awoke, and when I found it was only a dream. It only added to my distress. I remained in this condition several months, when one night I went to bed, and while in a sort of a doze, I thought I was traveling on the side of a steep rock. The path was narrow, and on my left there was a pit which was bottomless; on the right the rock was perpendicular. I knew my path terminated, and then I knew I must fall into this horrible pit. I was shocked at the sight and awoke. This I saw was my condition sure enough. My soul did groan within me and I thought I was out of favor. I hardly dared to attempt to pray for a character so base and wicked as I was. I remained in this condition some time, when one night I thought the Lord was behind a cloud, and I watched to see him, and expected to see his frowns darken the earth, and when the cloud passed off his face was peace and mercy. I derived momentary comfort from this circumstance, and my soul was again crushed with guilt and dark despair. I had sinned too long; my hopes were gone; I was bound to acknowledge the Lord was just in my condemnation.

I avoided going to meeting. It seemed that I was a hypocrite and a deceiver of God’s people. I felt that I was bound in chains, walled in all around with my sins. One Sunday of the July meeting at Union, I went heavily loaded. When I got in hearing, the voice of that old servant of God, (G. Potter) sent a dart to my heart. I thought I could not venture to go into the house. I took my seat on the hillside and restlessly listened to his discourse. I could hear nothing in it but my own condemnation. On last Thursday Brother Peter joined the church and on Friday Elder Thomas preached at Union. His text was, “Blessed us he that hungers and thirst’s after righteousness, for he shall he filled. I thought I was the character spoken of, and the promise was positive. I did not feel relief, but I thought the Lord would yet have mercy on me. On Sunday I went to meeting at the association, and as I went, I was tempted to conclude I had a hope. While there I gave Thomas an account of my exercises, and asked him to pray that the Lord would not suffer me to me deceived. He told me his experience, and that he had fellowship for what I had said. I went and talked with Andrew Graves, (who laid lately joined Union,) and asked him to tell me his experience, which, when I heard, gave me joy inexpressible. I thought of the text before referred to, and realized that I was full of joy.

I continued in this state of mind until noon the next day, when fear of being deceived came over time, and I passed through a season of darkness for several hours, which seemed to banish as I talked with Jessie Burch, and Docia and others as we rode home on Monday evening.

I had asked Buchanan and Poynter to pray the Lord to remember my wife. On Monday night and the following morning I felt safe, but on Tuesday, Kate went to meeting mind left me at home. In the evening I was assailed with doubts and fears, When Kate came home I learned that Poyntor would stay with my father that night. I asked her to let me write for him, (I thought he might say something to comfort me,) when she objected by saying she had some thing to tell me, when she gave me the outlines of a good reason of a hope in Christ. I then wrote Poynter a short note, sent a boy with it to father’s, requesting him to come and spend the night with us, and what a happy night we spent. The next day meeting was appointed at Union, and we thought something of joining the church. During my troubles I had often promised the Lord to do my duty if he would have mercy on me; therefore, I thought if the Lord would enable me I would go to the church. I told Poynter to say nothing about it and I would carry clothes for myself and wife, so that if the Lord blessed us with his grace, when the door of the church was open, we would go forward in discharge of our duty; if not, we could take our clothes home again. Through meeting I felt like I could go. I prayed the Lord for his presence if I should, to enable me to set a worthy example before the world. When the door of the church was open I felt strong, and gave Poynter my hand and took my seat. I was hardly seated till my wife was at my side, and before the song was finished our cousin, Prank Burch, sat down with us. We gave in our relations of experience and were all received into the church. The Lord, I felt, was with us. The joy I realized I never shall be able to tell. We were baptized immediately. As I walked to the water I felt very strong. The Lord had answered my prayers. I took my wife’s hand and walked into the water. I thought that the Lord had been where I was, I felt humbled but blest, and before men I felt proud, and walked in and out with a strong and elastic step.

Oh, how shall I be able to thank him for his goodness towards me and my family!

In conclusion of this letter, let me implore you all to remember me at a throne of God’s rich grace.
No more at present. Write soon. This is from James H. Oliphant and wife to Wm. Oliphant and family and Richard Carmichael.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 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.