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Written by T.S. Dalton   


 C H A P T E R  XIV.

The first preaching tour I ever took was before I was ordained. Old Brother Willis Bryant of Humphreys County, Tennessee, came into our country and attended some of our associations; and while there heard me try to preach, and from some cause seemed to take a liking to me. He began to beg me to visit the churches in his country. I finally agreed very reluctantly to try it, and asked our old pastor if he thought it would be right. He said, "Yes, I want you to go and mingle among the brethren." I told him I was so weak and poor I was afraid to start; but he urged me on. At last I thought I had an excuse that would surely let me out, and told my old pastor about it, that I had no horse to ride. He said, "That shall not be in the way; you can take my mule, and welcome." I had no further excuse to offer; and when the time came, he sent the mule over with a note, which read, "God speed your journey, my brother. My prayers will go with you." So I started trying to pray the Lord to let that trip decide my fate; if He had not called me, let the trip be a failure, or throw obstructions in my way so I would have to turn back. I bade my old mother farewell with my eyes streaming with tears. She gave me the mother’s kiss saying, "God be with you, my boy." I rode all day the first day to try to get as far as I could, because I had but one dollar in the world, but was ashamed to tell anyone; and I concluded that if it was right for me to go, God would open the way. That night I stopped to stay all night with a man; but never hinted that I ever tried to preach, for I was ashamed for any one to call me a preacher. Next morning after I had eaten breakfast I called for my mule. It was brought out; and I asked my bill, which he told me was one dollar. I handed it to him, the last mite I had. I yet had the Tennessee river to cross, and I knew not where the money would come from to pay the bill. The devil began to tell me, "Now you see, God never started you out and you have the evidence;" so I abut concluded to turn my mule’s head for home, but it seemed that some force sped me on. I wept as I tried to pray the Lord to tell me what to do; but finally I came to the conclusion that I would go to the river and if the way opened, I would go on; if not, I would be then thoroughly convinced that the Lord never sent me, and I would then go home and stay there. When I had got in about a half mile of the river, I stopped at a house, and a man came out (I never have learned his name, but I remember he was a hare-lipped man). I asked him if he could tell me how to get down to the ferry. He said, "Wait till I get my horse and I will go and show you, for it is a rather difficult way to find." So I waited; but with a heavy heart, because he would find out that I had no money; and in the next place I felt unworthy of such a favor. But he was soon ready and we rode off together. We had gone but a little way until he said, "Your name is Dalton, is it not?" I said, "Yes, sir." "You are a preacher. I heard you preach one time," and told the place. I said, "Yes, sir, I was there, and tried to preach, but I can’t say I am a preacher. I doubt that very much." "Well," he said, "I never was more rejoiced in my life than the time I listened to you, and would like to try it again. Where are you going?" I told him, and he said, "Do you preach over there tomorrow?" I told him I was to try. "Well," he said, "I will be over there." About this time we reached the riverbank, and he called over for the boat; and oh! I thought my heart would burst. I knew not what to do; for I knew I had no money, and I was too stubborn to tell the man, and I thought perhaps now I would get him into trouble. But when the boat landed, he stepped on and gave the man a piece of money, saying, "Set this man over the river and be here early in the morning for I want to go over and hear him preach." He gave me his hand and started off the boat. I could hardly keep from throwing my arms around him.

My soul was filled with love and gratefulness to God. I had got over the river, was on my mule and had gone but a few steps until I burst out crying and praising God at the same time. Thus I went on up the road feeling assured that the precious Lord was with me, and before I was aware, I met Brother Bryant coming to meet me. I burst out crying worse than ever. Brother Bryant asked me what was the matter. I tried to waive the subject, and talk about something else; but he urged me to tell him what was the matter. When I told him, he burst out crying, too, saying, "God has sent you over here, my brother, and you need not fear. He will be with you all the journey." I was out two months from the time I left home until I returned. I tried to preach every day, and nearly every night, and was not cast down a single time; but on the wing all the while. And after I reached home and found my precious old mother well, I cannot tell my feelings. I was full of joy and praise all the time, for two or three days. I was out trying to do some work, and the thought came to me that if I had a little money to get something that I needed, it would be a great help to me just now. Then I thought, "Why, the brethren gave me something on my tour. I wonder if they gave me enough so I can get this I want?" I thought I would go and see; so I went and got the clothes that I had worn on the trip and began to feel in the pockets, and to my surprise, I pulled out until I had counted $133.00. I guess some one will be ready to say it is not true; but let them say what they will, I never thought about what the brethren were doing for me on the trip until after I had been at home at least two days. My poor heart has often run back to this trip, and it has buoyed me up in my hours of darkness and gloom. I have often referred to this as my trial trip, and have thought since that time when I would be so cast down in my feelings that if the Lord had only let that obstruction at the river remained in my way perhaps I would not have continued to try to preach, and perhaps it would have been better for the cause. But the Lord removed the obstruction out of the way; as he has all others, for over forty years. But my way has not been all on the wing, as you doubtless will be ready to agree before you shall have finished this book.

The next tour I took our old pastor was with me, and we rode in a buggy together. As we rode along I was thinking what a good time the brethren would have listening on that tour. I had a sermon ready in my mind that I felt like was a world beater; and when I should have gotten that one off, my reputation as a preacher would be made. I was so puffed up in my feelings that I looked at the old brother as he rode along with me, and thought, "I have often heard you say that you fail to preach sometimes, and it is quite likely you will fail this time but I will not. I can preach, I know just how it is done now." So we landed at our first appointment, and the old brother got up to preach, and I suppose he did well; but it didn’t sound like much to me, and I was glad he preached that day because the congregation was small. I was really almost angry at the people for not turning out to hear us preach. I thought they were missing the greatest opportunity of their lives.

But night came on and the people gathered, until the house was full, and the old brother turned to me and said, "You must preach tonight." I was ready, and so said, "All right." I got up and read my hymn, which somehow didn’t sound like I wanted it to. I then tried to pray but my voice was flat, my tongue thick, and I could not pray as I wanted to; still I thought, "When I go to preach I will be all right." So I arose from my knees, opened the Bible, and read my text; then closed the book and pushed it out of the way and started off. But I had made but one or two leaps until I struck a sawyer. I backed off, quoted my text, and started again. I did not get quite as far this time before I struck the sawyer, I backed again and tried to quote my text, but had forgotten what it was. I tried to think where it was; but I never could think what nor where it was, and I have never been able to think what that text was from that day to this. I may have tried to preach from it a number of times since for what I know, but I can’t tell anything about it.

The old brother drove out to where we were to spend the night; as I was sick, really I was hardly able to ride in the buggy. But the old brother knew what was the matter with me; so when we got to the place where we were to stay, he very kindly said, "You go on in the house, Brother Dalton, I will attend to the horse." I started in but was so bewildered that I turned out into the corner of the yard and sat down on a stump; and the old brother always said my lip was long enough to go to mill on. I sat there until he came and took me by the arm and led me into the house.

All soon retired, but no sleep came to me until nearly daylight. I dozed a little and dreamed that I was flying sweetly through the air, and after I had sailed along for some time, I alighted in a new building where a great many voices began to praise the Lord and then I awoke.

After breakfast we hitched up and started on our journey, but I with a heavy heart. As we were nearing the public road, I said to the old brother, "You let me out when we get to that road and I will walk home, and you can take the horse and buggy and go on and fill the appointments." A mischievous spell struck the old brother. He whipped up the horse, ran down the road, and smilingly said, "Get out and go home." I started to get out, and he saw that I meant what I said. He took hold of my arm, as I stood on the step of the buggy and said to me, "Now if you are willing to disgrace yourself, me, my family, your family, the church of your membership, and the cause of God generally, just get out and walk home; and if you don’t want to disgrace all of these, just take your seat." I thought that was more than I wanted to disgrace; so I took my seat and he drove on. But as we went on I said to him, "I never will try to preach again. You need not call on me, for I positively will never try it again." He did not say a word, but rode on; and when we got to our next appointment, I took a seat out in the woods on a log. Finally the brethren came to me and said that it was meeting time. I got up and went to the house, and took my seat near the center; but the old brother came to me and said, "Come on up now and let us begin service. You will introduce the service for me, won’t you?"

The thought came to me, "I have never said I would not do that any more. I said I would not preach." So I went up with him and took a hymnbook and asked the brethren to join me in singing, "Am I a soldier of the cross?" After singing I tried to pray, and thought that was all the part I would take; but as I got up from my knees I began to talk, and I don’t know what I said, nor how long I talked, but when I came to myself, the old brother had me in his arms, tears streaming down his eyes, as he was praising the Lord aloud. We went on, finishing our tour, I saw my dream fulfilled, and was glad that God permitted me to be among His people. So you can see that I know what it is to be lifted up, and to be abased. Our strength is all of the Lord, and without Him we can do nothing.
C H A P T E R  XV.
In the early part of my ministry, I traveled nearly all the time. However, for the first few years I devoted much of my time at home among the churches, and my old home church built up very rapidly for two or three years.  I baptized at several of our regular monthly meetings as high as eighteen members, and at one time there were twenty-two, all baptized at once, and among them were some young preachers. But most of my time I spent on the wing, always went where my impressions led me, and rarely ever chose my own fields of labor. At one time I became very much impressed to go to some place and for the life of me I could not tell where; so I became very much wrought up over it, and said to my dear old mother one night, "Mother, I have got to make a trip somewhere, and I can’t determine where it is." She said, "Just rest easy; the Lord will show you in due time where it is." So I waited for the Lord to open up the way.

In a day or so I went to the post office to get my mail, and in the mail were two letters from friends away in another state urging me to come over and preach for them, saying they never got to hear any preaching that suited them. I went to the house and showed the letters to mother. She said, "There is the place, go on, the Lord has opened the way." I sat down and answered them stating that I would come at a certain time, the Lord willing, and started to the office to mail it. As I walked along the sidewalk the devil got hold of me, and told me I had no business over there, that I had better stay at home with my old mother; so I took him at his word and did not mail the letter, but said nothing about the matter to any one. A day or two after that, mother got up one morning and seemed to be in great distress. I said to her, "Mother, what is the matter, are you not feeling well?" She looked at me for perhaps a minute before she spoke, then said, "Did you mail that letter to those brethren the other day?" I said, "No, mother, I did not. I thought it best for me to stay at home with you." She said, "I am troubled to death about that. You must go and mail that letter, and then get ready to make that trip." I went immediately and mailed the letter, then got ready and made the trip; was gone three weeks, tried to preach every day, and nearly every night, baptized forty-two people, and came home rejoicing in the dear Lord. But for such blessings along the journey I perhaps would have given over the struggle long ago, but God has always been good to me. My mother was good to me while she lived, and my precious wife has been good to me, and given me all the encouragement she could ever since we have been married; and but for such good ones to encourage a poor preacher, I don’t see how I could have held on until now.
The first time I ever heard the two-seed doctrine preached in full, was under very peculiar circumstances. I started on a preaching tour once, and before I reached my first appointment I had quite a long trip to make. Mother persuaded me to start some days before hand, so as to have some rest before my appointments were to begin. I started, and after going about 100 miles from home I had to change cars, and had several hours to wait; so I was trying to pass the time as best I could. While walking about the depot, a brother came along who knew me, and I remembered him. He asked me where I was going. I told him, and he said, "Our association begins tomorrow, about five miles from here. Go out with me and be there." I counted the time and saw that I could do that and yet reach my appointments ahead; and he begged so hard, I finally went out with him.

When they elected their preachers to preach on Sunday, it fell to my lot, with two others. When we met Sunday morning, I found they had arranged for me to go first, and they would follow; but somehow I did not feel right about that kind of an arrangement. I felt just like there was something behind the curtain; so I refused, and told them I was willing to go second; but they could arrange for one of them to lead off, and the other to come after me. They saw I was determined; so they got together and juggled for awhile, and one of them led off; and God being my judge, I never heard such stuff, before nor since. He told us that the children of God, and the children of the devil are no more kin than the corn and cockleburs all growing in the field together, and that if it had not been for the sin of Adam all families would have been like doves, just two children, and both God’s children; but because of the transgression God had multiplied the conceptions, and all over two children in any family were of the devil, and he was sure to get them, and two were of God, and would be saved in Heaven. He also stated that the children of God were as old as God, and were men and women in heaven before they came to earth, and were in actual eternal vital union with God from all eternity.

This was new doctrine to me; so I began to make up my mind that as I was a stranger there, the better thing for me would be to back out and refuse to preach lest I cause trouble. But somehow before he was done I waxed as bold as a lion, and determined to tell that people the truth if the heavens fell. When he was through, I arose and quoted my text, which was, "Who maketh thee to differ from another, or what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" etc.; and if God ever helped me to preach in defense of the truth on earth, He helped me that day. I wondered if that was the faith of that people. When I got onto the idea of eternal children, I turned to this preacher and asked him how long he had been out of heaven? He said seventeen years. I said to him, "Now, sir, if you will give us the geography of that country, I will believe your statement," and he could not do it.

I told him I had been away from my native country twenty-one years and could give the geography of that; and if he had only been out of heaven seventeen years and could not give the geography, I should certainly have to question his word, or else would have to charge him with very short memory. "Besides this, you contradict the Bible, for it says, ‘The first man was of the earth earthy, and the second man was the Lord from heaven.' But you have men and women in heaven before the first man. I would be glad to hear you explain this paradox." But he would not; so I went on. I told him I was opposed to his mathematics. "You have multiplication bringing together parts of different denominations; for instance you multiply sheep, and get hogs, peaches and get apples, etc. You multiply the children of God, of the same family, and get the children of the devil, which is contrary to every mathematical rule on earth.

I then told him I was opposed to his idea of union, for I was entirely unable to see how there could be actual vital (that is, living) union between parties, and one of the parties dead; and certainly he would not deny that the sinner was dead in trespasses and sins, and there could not exist such a thing as living union between a living Jesus and a dead sinner. In order that there be living union between them Jesus must raise the sinner from that dead state to a state of life with Him. Until then there could be only covenant union between them; that is, a union in purpose, and not actual . I then tried to show the divine sovereignty of God in choosing his people out of the race of Adam; and even those thus chosen, "Were by nature the children of wrath even as others." Hence they must be more closely related than corn and cockleburs. I brought up the case of Cain and Abel and showed that they were brothers, children of the same parents, also Jacob and Esau; and surely these being brothers, were more nearly related than the corn and cockleburs, and yet they were mentioned as being one of God, and the other of the wicked one.

I closed my effort with a warm exhortation to those brethren to beware of such doctrine as that; and if ever I felt the presence of the Lord with me, and in my heart while trying to preach it was surely that day. And when I closed I think every Baptist there except these two preachers who were to preach with me, came to me with eyes streaming with tears, and some of the preachers threw their arms around my neck, saying, "God sent you here to save us from this ruinous doctrine of Eternal Two-Seeds." The other man refused to preach, and thus closed the meeting. I went on to my other appointments, got there in good time, filled them all; then returned home, and found all well, and felt to rejoice in the dear Saviour. I have often thought that if God ever did put me in the ministry, He directed my course on this occasion; for I visited this association after that and found them sound, orderly Baptists, and was told by the brethren in the ministry that they had never been troubled after my visit there. These men refused to visit them, which to them had proved a source of good.

I trust no one will think that I tell this in a spirit of boasting, for I have never felt the least exalted over it, or anything else of this kind; but have ever felt to praise God for so using me to His glory, and to the good and upbuilding of His dear children; and I feel to say truly, "I have nothing wherein I can boast save in the cross of my dear Redeemer." May God bless my readers with a right understanding of my meaning, and a right appreciation of my poor efforts to glorify His dear name.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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