Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The History Of Pocomoke by Murray James (4)

The second incident, which I proposed to mention, took place about six o'clock that same evening. During the day I had traveled sixteen miles, I was, at that late hour, four miles from Sherando, darkness was gathering around me, I had blistered my feet walking, worn and weary I called up to a house on the road, for I knew not where to go.

As to pursuing my journey to Sherando that was perilous, as I did not know the way only by inquiry, and if I could have gotten there before bedtime, I knew 28 A Brief History of the Author^ Life. not where to call. The man upon whom I called had a terrible dog, though I did not know it. When I opened the gate he came bolting at me, so I let on to him t at I did not mind him. The fact was my necessities compelled me to go to the house. The dog seeing I did not mind him ran off toward the house and then rallied and came again, this time more furiously, but I kept my go for the house, and he backed down again, and when I entered the porch and knocked at the door, the little dog in the house com- menced barking, that set the big dog on, and I had no time for ceremonies, but opened the door and rushed in.

I apologized for my abrupt entrance. The man told me that I had run a great risk, for that dog was one of the most dangerous. I asked if I could get accomodations for the night, he told me if I could put up with such as he could give I could stay. I told him I had no where to stop, and sooner than be turned out I would sleep on the floor. They entertained me, and that right comfortably, and would not have any pay for it. As I have already stated, I had eight appointments and could only preach once a month at each place by preaching twice every Sabbath day.

During the year we had a great revival at Middle Brook, some forty persons professed religion and joined the Church. I had my Conference Course of studies to attend to, and no studio, as some have, with every other convenience necessary for success, but my studio was the country road ; with "Watson's Institutes in my hand I. would sit down on a log of wood, by the roadside, and there in solitude, I would pore over my lesson with none to disturb my meditations save the sweet songs of the birds, as they would cheer me in breaking the monotony of the hour.

When I would reach the place of destination, I would, after the usual greetings, enter a private room, and there with my books occupy the time I had to devote to reading and study. I made it a point to visit all families that I could have access to, and I have had it said to me that they had not seen it on this wise before.

A Brief History of the Author's Life. 29 At the Third Quarterly Meeting, the Presiding Elder asked me if I wanted to go back, I told him I did not, yet I was willing to go wherever the Bishop sent me. but I thought I ought to be taken care of. He said that shouM be done. The year closed. Con- ference came on, and I was before the Committee, of the first year, in Alexandria, Va. The course of Study was : Watson's Institutes, Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Church History, Homiletics,' Psychology and Written Sermon.

The books to be read were : Wesley's Sermons, Steven's History of Methodism, and Townseud's Sword and Garment. My examination was complimented before the class by the Chairman of the Committee. When the appointments were read out my name was declared for Monroe Circuit, in Monroe and Greenbrier Counties, West Va. This move threw me away from my family about five hundred miles.

The terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad then was at White Sulpher Springs. I went to the Circuit and was received cordially. This Circuit to me was, in comparison to the one I left, like going out of a dry and barren land, into the land of Goshen. The brethren and friends wanted me to take my family with me. Some would furnish me with a few cooking utensils, some a few chairs, others, again, with a table, and so on, and so on. My wife was born and raised, and lived in New Town, and adjacent thereto, all her life, and knew nothing of the trials of a mountain life, and to take her into such a country, and leave her to herself, on some lonely road, probably, for a week or more at a time, exposed, was more than I could do, consequently, I was the second year to myself.

We had good times on the Circuit, several revivals and additions to the Church. During the year I had a spell of sickness, which made it necessary for me to be changed the next year. The Doctor, James Wait, at Rocky Point, attended me, he informed the Elder that the climate of the mountains was too rigorous for me. I, however, knew nothing of it. The Pre- 30 A Brief History of the Author's Life. siding Elder asked me one day if I wanted to come back, and stated, at the same time, that the Doctor said I must not stay in the mountains.

I told him I was fully aware of the fact, and had already made up my mind not to do so. One incident while I was on this Circuit I wish to relate : At a certain appointment I administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. In inviting the Communicants to come forward, I discovered a hesitancy to do so, I urged the duty, but very few came to the Communion.

After services were over, and while at the dinner table ©f one of the Stewards, the subject came up and the lady of the house said : "Brother Murray, perhaps you do not know the reason why there was such a staying away from the Sacrament this morning, and I will tell you : it is because we have never been baptized." I was amazed at this news. Here was one of the leading officers of the Church and not baptized. I reasoned with them, showed the duty, and such a scene took place, during the week, as the result of that interview, as I have never witnessed before nor since.

The man and his wife, with two or three of his children were profes sors of religion. Preparations were made for their baptism. The father and mother, with the children, who professed religion, I requested to kneel side by side on the floor. The children for Infant Baptism, I requested to stand by the side of the other chil- dren, and I baptized the parents and older children first, after this the younger ones, eight persons in all. I learned that the condi- tion of this family represented that of many others, and I went through the neighborhood, baptizing professors of religion, and children, until I left none unattended to that I knew of. On this Circuit I had many friends.

There were several revivals and many additions to the Church. In a certain neigh- borhood, I found a goodly number of Christian people who had been cut off from their former religious associations by the desola- tions of the war. These I gathered together and formed into a class. The year was closing up in peace and prosperity, and the A Brief History of the Author's Life, 31 approaching Conference, which was to be held at Leesburg, was drawing nigh. In February, I started for the seat of Conference, which was to come off the 1st of March. I rode to White Sulphur Springs with my valise in front of me ; there I expressed it, and started for Conference on horseback. I rode seven consec- utive days, from early morn till night, fording rivers, crossing mountains covered with ice and snow, in a drizzling rain that would freeze as it would fall, so that my clothes would be frozen stiff on me. The distance I rode was about three hundred miles, and in looking back upon that perilous journey, I have admired and wondered at that providence which was exercised over me.

In crossing the mountains, they would be covered with snow but I found that underneath the snow was a very slippery sheet of ice. My horse was rough-shod, but in spite of that he would slip on the ice. I would get down and walk, at what I conceived to be the most dangerous places. There were no signs of traveling on the road, and if my horse had fallen and crippled me I would have died upon the mountain, all alone.

Conference came on and I went before the Committee, of the second year, for examination. The subjects to be examined upon were : Statement and Scripture Proofs of Bible Doctrine, Watson's Theological Institutes, (part second,) Baptism, Moral Science and Written Sermon. The books to be read were : Whedon on the Will, Emoiy's Defence of our Fathers, Porter's Compendium of Methodism, Gaussen's Origin and Inspiration of the Bible, Rawlinson's Historical Evidences, Shedd's, Homiletic's and Pastoral Theology.

After this examination my case was reported on by the Committee and Elder both, and I was admitted into full connec- tion. When the appointments were read out my name was called for Herndon Circuit, in Fairfax County, Va. This was a two week's Circuit, on the Washington and Ohio Railroad, about eighteen miles from the City of Washington. Some of the appointments were only about nine miles from Washington.

On 32 Brief History of the Author's Life.

this Circuit I was brought in contact with city life, for nearly, if not all, the people did business in the city, and many who held offices under the Government lived within the bounds of the Cir- cuit. On this Circuit, I spent one of the most pleasant years of my life in the Ministry. During my stay on this Circuit, which was only one year, we built a Church, which cost, probably, three thousand dollars and had it to worship in before the year closed. Some incidents occurred while on this Circuit which may be ©f interest to relate.

The first is in relation to building the Church on ground for which there was no deed given. Some of the most influential advised to build without getting a deed as tho ground had long ago been given verbally. It seemed that there had been two or three efforts to build in years past, and the ground had been given by a man who then lived at Herndon, but had moved away, and at this time of which we are speaking lived in New York State.

I told the friends not to do such a reckless thing, but first secure the deed and then go ahead. Negotiations were had with the party owning the ground. The result was that notwith- standing he had given the ground while he lived at Herndon, yet now as he had disconnected himself with the place, and moved back to his native State, he should charge $50 for it. Here we were at a standstill. Where to get the fifty dollars was a subject of reflection. In a few days, however, a lady told me to have the deed prepared, which was done by a lawyer, and she would furnish the fifty dollars, all of which was done.

The deed was executed, delivered, and recorded in the Clerk's Office, of Fairfax County, Virginia. We were now fairly on our feet, and I told the people that we would then build the Church, which was built as above stated. During the process of building, I went to Alexandria, "Washing- ton and Georgetown on a begging expedition.

Before I com- menced,however,I went to the Preachers' Meeting in Washington, made my cause known to them, and requested an introduction A Brief History of the Author's Life. 33 to their people which was cordially granted by giving me a strong letter. I canvassed the city by Churches, and had a view of their internal workings in the way of expenses, how heavily they taxed themselves to support the Gospel, such as I never had before.

One brother, who was door-keeper in the Treasury Department, or if not door-keeper had his stand by the door, to direct inquiries to any room in the building, told me his salary was one thousand dollars a year, and that brother subscribed one thousand dollars to build a Church, payable in annual instalments of one hundred dollars each till the whole was paid.

Another incident may serve to show what appeals I had to make to be successful. I called on a distinguished lawyer, at the Court House, for a subscription ; he encouraged me to expect something by telling me to call at his house at four o'clock. I did so It was a fine three-story house, on a popular street, and, as the reader may suppose, was well furnished. He was at dinner. I was invited in, and directed to take a seat in his study, a room, the bookcases of which were tilled with costly volumes appertaining to the law.

After he had dined, he entered the office and asked what he could do for me. The reader may think that I used a little sagacity in taking him upon a full meal, for at such times persons are generally in a good humor. I told him I had called in compliance with his direction, and desired a donation to my Church. He commenced making excuses by telling how much he had to pay to the Church, &c. I soon saw that I must make a mighty effort to reach him.

I commenced by saying : "Mr. So-and-so, when I look at your standing as a lawyer, your fine building, your splendid furniture, your beautiful library, filled with costly books, I must conclude that you are a man of wealth. Suppose now I were to tell you something of myself. I have a sick family, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which I have to support, of a son, upon whom rested the fond hopes of his parents for future com- fort, now passing away with consumption, and his mother nursing 34 A Brief History of the Author's Life. him as only a mother can.

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