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Written by T.S. Dalton   


Over fifty-seven years I have been a minister of the gospel. How well I may have filled the position I leave for my brethren to say. I have often felt that I was a poor excuse in that line, but I entered the field from a feeling sense of necessity. Like Paul I have often felt to say, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” During my time in the ministry I have traveled extensively over twenty-seven states and five territories before they became states. And I must confess that many things have come up during that time that entirely baffled my skill, and I am still left to wonder about some things that I want to mention.

In the early part of my ministerial life I was often thrown in company of an old brother who would relate his experience as a child of God, and his call to the ministry, which never failed to bring me to tears. I often asked him why he did not yield to the impression and go to preaching? He would break down, and get up and leave the house for a time; many other brethren had talked with him about it, and he did them the same way. He finally became almost a maniac, and roved the woods and could be heard for quite a distance singing and praying, and occasionally he would break out to preaching, just as though he had a concourse of people present to listen to him. He always had his horse along with him with his bridle and saddle on, but never attempted to ride. Finally after several years of this kind of life, the old brother was confined to his bed, and lingered for some weeks almost in the throes of death. Many of his friends went in to wait on him, but he spurned them from him, saying “I am not worthy that anything should be done for me.” Just before he died he said, “What a disobedient wretch I have been, but I deserve it all. Yet a poor wretch like me is saved by the mercy, and grace of God.” And he passed away rejoicing.

It was a question with many of us for some years after his death, what to think of his case. We would often say, “Surely the Lord did not make a failure in trying to make him preach.” None of us could think that. One day we were attending an association and a number of us were talking about the dear old brother’s case, we noticed three young brethren (Ministers) sitting there weeping, and directly one spoke up saying, “That old brother’s case had much force in causing me to submit to my impressions, lest I should be like him.” One dear old brother said:—“I see through the matter now,—God made that old brother an example for these young brethren.” Now brethren, I am not giving this as a true solution of this matter, but I am giving you the truth, and I have never been able to get any better solution of it than this old brother gave. Therefore the heading of this article will apply here,—”These things were our examples,” just as the disobedience of Israel was an example to the Corinthian brethren.

When I was a young man in the ministry, I knew a young brother that joined the church,—he at that time owned a good farm, and had a good Christian wife, and two sweet little children. They seemed to be as happy a little family as I ever knew, prosperous in every way. For a time he was always in his seat in church and seemed to enjoy the service as much as any one there, but after a short time he got in with some speculators and started out on a large scale, buying and selling to complete his fortune. Soon he began to miss his meetings, and occasionally would render some excuse, that his business was so urgent that he could not attend as he wished, but he would soon be in a condition that he could attend regularly. It was not long before he quit making excuses, and he came to special meetings only, and then you could see him on the outskirts of the audience talking business. Soon he began to lose in his business matters, and his home finally slipped out of his hands, and he was left in abject poverty. Trouble from his losses preyed upon his mind until death came to his relief. In his dying hour he said, “I yielded to temptation to make a fortune, and I not only lost the fortune, but I lost also my enjoyment in the dear old church of God, and the sweet fellowship of my dear people, which I once prized above everything else that I ever had in this life; but, by the grace and mercy of the Lord I see heaven open to receive me, which to me is greater riches than this world can ever afford. Brethren don’t do as I have done, but fill your places in the church, and strive here to enjoy the sweet fellowship of God’s dear people.” Brethren take the disobedient brother’s advise; to you he is truly an example.

Later on in life I knew another brother, who was very poor in this world’s goods, hut honest, and straight in all his dealings. He was often spoken of as being too honest for his own good. He would suffer himself defrauded rather than to appear dishonest. He came before the church, related his experience and was heartily received, but in a very short time he began to miss his meetings, and ere long he failed to come at all. Some of the brethren took it upon themselves to go to see him to learn his reasons for being absent. In the honest integrity of his heart he said, “Brethren, it requires every moment of my time to acquire a meager living for myself and family. I love the church, and the sweet fellowship of the dear brethren, and the sweet service of the Master, but duty demands of me that I make a living for my family, so I do hope you good people can find it in your hearts to overlook my absence until I can get in better shape financially, then you will see me in my seat every meeting.” But the dear brother never did reach that period in life, and lingered on and died as poor, or poorer than when he first started out. Now my dear brethren may we not say,—‘These things were our examples”—that we should not do as they did? Far better for these dear brethren had they obeyed the injunction of the dear Lord where He said,—“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3.10). “These things were our examples.”—T. S. D.

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.