header image
Home arrow Historical Documents arrow Individual Histories arrow My Experience by Elder George Bretz
My Experience by Elder George Bretz PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Bretz   

 

From: The Primitive Monitor

I was born in Tonia county, Michigan, December the seventh, eighteen hundred and sixty. When I was a babe my parents moved to Ohio. They settled in Henry county in the spring of sixty-five. There I grew to manhood. The country was new, and there were thousands of acres of heavy timber land all around us. I can truthfully say I saw the “wilder­ness bloom as a rose,” naturally. Many of those broad acres are cleared and improved, so that many of the best farms in the State are now there.

I had the advantages of a common school educa­tion, and began teaching in the country schools at the age of eighteen. I continued in the work a few years. When I was a little past twenty-two years of age, I married Miss Augusta Jordon of Noble county, Ohio. We settled on a farm and expected to live there until God would call us to our home in heaven, “the better country.” But God’s ways are not our ways; he ordained it otherwise. My spiritual experience has led us in an entirely differ­ent road. But for God’s goodness I would today be laboring for the “fruit that perisheth,” and would be “loving darkness rather than light.” I did, at one time, love the world and its darkness with all my powers. I had lain my plans for my future life here in the world; I wanted to be a doctor of medicine. One time I borrowed Gray’s Anatomy of a physician intending to put in my leisure hours reading it.

Some months previous to that time, I had be­come much dissatisfied with myself in my state of sin. I can not tell when I was quickened into eternal life, but I now remember some things which I think were evidences of such quickening. When only a child I would find myself wondering what my future would be when removed from this world by death; and sometimes there would be such a gloom and sadness come over me that I would sob aloud. These impressions would continue for a few days, and then I would feel easier; but I can not say that the impressions concerning my condition, death and the hereafter, ever entirely left me.

The winter I was seventeen years old my real trouble for sin began. I had been reading the Bible for a good while, and one night (I shall never forget that flight) while reading. I read with a prayerful desire that I might have an understanding of its teachings. I became much cast down and left the house to pray. I had never made an audible prayer in my life. I went some distance and knelt down. The heavens were dark, the earth was dead, and my lips were sealed. I arose, when more self-condem­nation seized me, and I said, “I have added sin to sin, for the ‘prayers of the wicked are an abomina­tion to God.’”

This was a new era in my life. From that night until now I have never said God would be unjust, if he did not save me. The question was, “How can he save me and he remain holy and just?” But while I felt that I was hopelessly condemned, I found myself praying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” I was like the leper, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Sometimes I would leave the house and wander about, and in my deep heart-trouble say, “Lord, save me.” This continual trouble lasted for almost two years. I can say now that they were the saddest years of my life. I can not tell the sorrow, dejection, soul-yearning; the dis­appointments, and the awful darkness I passed through.

But there is another thing that I wish to speak about. My parents were Primitive Baptists in senti­ment, while all around us were Episcopal Methodists. I early learned that there was no compromising the two doctrines. I wanted to be a conditionalist. Ar­minianism was pleasing to me, but I could not be really easy in believing it. On the other hand, while I highly esteemed the Baptists, I could not believe their doctrine, and said to myself, more than once, that I would never be an Old School Baptist.

I spoke of wanting to study medicine. Well, the trouble to which I have referred so broke me up that I could not concentrate my thoughts enough to study anything. In this condition of mind I managed to teach two terms of school. I hardly know lust how I did it, for I was so sad, so bowed down with grief. I was lonely in the midst of com­pany, and the gayeties of youth had no charms for me. I was not at home in the world; the Christian was too good for such as I was, and the Bible was against me. I could truly say, “There is no peace to the wicked.” Thus, time dragged slowly along. Sleep was gone from me much of the time, and, dur­ing the day, I was the solitary witness of my inner grief. By and by I gave up all for lost, and a kind of quiet submission to whatever might come crept over me. I knew there was no change in my condition, but said, “While I am vile, God is just, and he will do right.”

During all my two years of trouble, there were many things about the Baptist doctrine which seemed unreasonable, (it was because I was not reasonable,) and though I studied hard, I could not reconcile my­self to the teachings of the Bible. I was much like a man that I heard of, who said the Baptists “quoted more scripture than any other people, but he did not believe their doctrine.” The doctrine of election was very offensive to me, and I could join with John Wesley and say it was a “horrible decree.”

I was in this state of mind the second Tuesday in October, 1879. The day was heavily dark, but my mind was all action. I was pent up, but put forth my mightiest efforts for freedom. In the evening I walked through the pasture field when the doctrine of God’s eternal purpose to save sinners was pre­sented to me in its wondrous beauty. The strongest chain Satan had forged was broken by my spiritual Sampson, and I was free! I did not, at that time, rejoice so much in the thought of my freedom as I did in the wonderful, almighty, eternal plan of God’s grace. Since that time I have heard many able ministers preach upon the doctrine of election, but it has never seemed so sweet as it did at that time. Darkness was turned into day, and my darkened soul was illuminated. There was a complete trans­formation in me—the doctrine I had once loathed was now fragrant with the perfume of heaven. I saw God in “election,” while “calling” was another link in the golden love-chain which united God’s purpose to save with their final glorification in heaven. I rejoiced in the strength of Jehovah as the beauties of the doctrine expanded and said, “Without election no person would ever be saved.” Finally the words of David: “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and hath established my goings,” were burned into my soul. Everything around me was changed; instead of night’s black drapery, were hanged the rich curtains of heavenly day. I experienced what the apostle meant when he said, “If any man be in Christ, he is anew creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I know there was a change in me; I loved God, the doctrine, and the people whom I had opposed and made light of. There was a newness in the gospel, the church, the ordinances; they all glowed with the dazzling brightness of heaven’s fire.

I dropped upon my bed that night with a restful feeling, and inwardly rejoiced until I fell asleep. I little thought then that I was entering into a warfare which was to be continued until death. My idea then was that I had entered the land where poverty, affliction, pain and death could never come. My faith had made me whole, and “the world was put under my feet.” Oh, I look back to that time, even now, and wish that I might again enjoy those “peace­ful hours!” Israel, though often delivered from troubles, never experienced but one deliverance from their enemies at the Red Sea; so I, though blessed many ways and times since, never had such deliver­ance from darkness and sin as upon the above­mentioned day. I have since seen the Lord’s hand in sweetening bitter waters, feasting me with heavenly manna, and satisfying me with waters from the Rock. The next morning I awoke and took a retrospective view of the happy scenes that were past. Satan suggested that it was all fanciful and not real; but he soon withdrew, and later in the morning I desired to follow Jesus into the baptismal waters. I saw such beauties in God’s salvation that I wanted to join his “afflicted and poor people,” and share their joys. I went to the church in less than a month, and was baptized.
 
A few things about my baptism may not be out of place here. The church, where I was baptized, was sixty miles from home. I had never seen any­one join the church, and had witnessed the ordinance of baptism but once. I arrived just as the services were beginning, dropped into a back seat and viewed the scene with interest. Elder L. B. Sherwood preached. He was assistant, while my grandfather, Lewis Seitz, was pastor. The church proceeded with the business. When the invitation was given, I wanted so much to go, but my unfitness kept me in my seat. I thought how long it would be before another opportunity might be offered me. After the congregation had been dismissed, a dear old aunt of mine came back to me and called me “brother,” and said she had heard long before that I was sick of sin. I thought I would sink; no one had ever called me by that endearing name before. Elder Sherwood then came and asked me if I had not come to be baptized. I replied that I would like to follow Jesus, but was utterly unworthy to do so. He replied that God’s people all felt that way, and exhorted me to duty. I consented, and he called the people to order. I told them how Jesus had found me in the way, and my desire to walk in him. The church warmly received me, and the following day, the second Sunday in November, I was baptized by Elder Sherwood. Although I greatly desired to be baptized, yet I walked to the water with a heavy heart. What if I were deceived and deceiving the church, I thought. I prayed for guidance. As I walked into the water and saw the crowd standing on the bank I said in my heart, “Farewell, world. Young friends, we now part company unless God leads you this way.” I felt that God would give me some assurance of his approval, and he did. I arose from the water-tomb with a calm, sweet peace within me. The glory of heaven was manifested to me in lightness of heart, while glory shone around. I did not praise the Lord aloud, but a sweet, inner joy, “the answer of a good conscience toward God,” gave me most complete satisfaction.

G.A.B.


Note: Young men and young ladies: is not such a hope in Christ, and a home in his church, worth more than all the giddy, glittering amusements this sinful world can afford? O, may the Lord give you courage and grace to turn your backs upon the deceptive allurements of the present clay and he content in the humble, sweet service of your Savior. If you go not after the world you will not be enticed into its sinful snares; you will not be drowned in its whirlpools of iniquity. When you come to leave this sinful world, knowing you must appear in the presence of your Creator, it will be a comfort to you to know that you have bowed to the humble yoke of discipleship, and have not spent your time in sinful pastime, which the world calls innocent amusement.” Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for what­soever you sow, that shall you also reap. Resist Satan and he will depart from you.—ED.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 October 2006 )
< Previous   Next >

Purpose

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.