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(title page) The Life of the Rev. Dandridge F. Davis, of the African M. E. Church. With a Brief Account of His Conversion and Ministerial Labors, from August 1834, till March 1847. Also, a Brief Sketch of the Life of the Rev. David Conyou, of the A. M. E. C. and His Ministerial Labors. To Which Is Annexed the Funeral Discourse Delivered at the Ohio Conference, in Zanesville, on the Decease of the Rev. D. F. Davis, by the Author.
REV. A. R. GREEN
Published by order of the Ohio Conference. Printed at the Herald Office, No. 40, Hand St. Benjamin F. Peterson, Printer.
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REV. D. F. DAVIS
[Title Page Image]
Published by order of the Ohio Conference.
WHATEVER are the conclusions to which others may arrive, as relates to publishing the life of their friends; or the views of those who are favored with the Book when completed it most assuredly appears to us a work of vast importance. A task in which a person with but very humble abilities, can but feel embarrassed; knowing that all such writings have to pass the scrutiny of impartial and discriminating public. And as men are held in different positions by their fellow-men while on the earth they dwell; even so will their lives be viewed, after they are gone to that "bourne from whence no traveller can return!" As such is the case, this subject will apyear in different aspects to those to whom it may find its way; and while some may be pleased and fancy the narrative correct, others will no doubt contemplate a vast amount of injustice has been done. As to that I can but say, if the servants of the Lord could not satisfy all while they lived, we can't expect to do it, in setting forth their lives after death.
When the work was assigned by the Conference to us, of writing the Memoirs of the late DANDRIDGE FAYETTE DAVIS and DAVID CONYOU, we hoped that we might find some MSS. of the former which; would brighten our memory in setting forth the truth, and publishing their lives to the world. But to our great surprise, we have not any to which we can refer, but a few communications which we received
His Parentage and Birth.
His Parentage and Birth.
D. FAYETTE DAVIS, son of George and Sarah Davis, was born in Augusta co. Va. April 1, 1807
His Parents emigrated to Kentucky in his infancy, and little Fayette soon associated himself with those who took pleasure in unrighteousness and loved the path that lead to destruction, he followed their example, and being of a lively disposition, he soon found himself entirely drawn after the vices of the day! His father was a worldly-minded man, and, of course could only guard against outbreaking conduct in the child; and if by chance, he would advise, the necessary examples of Christianity was not to be seen, to move upon the heart, and win the affections of a wandering son. His mother was a member of the M. E. Church, a zealous and warm-hearted follower of the Savior; and was from the first recollections of her son Fayette.
As he began to grow up in years, he desired a more extensive field for his wicked pleasure and sinful amusements; to avoid the inspection of a fond mother--to escape the notice of her eye--to hide from the censure which his conduct if visible to a Christian mother would deserve, to case his conscience of the effects of a mother's prayers and tears to God for an ungodly father and son; to make a greater progress
on the way to the place of weeping and wailing; like the prodigal son he gathers all together and takes a journey from his father's house to live among strangers; although his father was well situated and owned a good farm in Bourbon Co., Ky. The field was not large enough for a son whose mind was set on the pleasures of sin! We now behold the youth with aged sinners associated to find out all the depths of vice. And as he was affable in his manners, he was soon found in the field surrounded with old and young--with rapid strides progressing in the knowledge of sin; and the pleasure which he left home to seek. The hand of friendship offered him by the aged musicians, to instruct him to play the violin, and lead in the army of Satan! See, the youth readily engaged--the violin becomes his delight, and presently crowds of all ages, classes, and colors, rich and poor, bond and free, are following in the wake after Davis; charmed with the music, and delighted with the youth! The fame that he bore was well calculated to engross his mind, and we see him at length throw off all restraints; and from the setting to the rising of the sun his hours are spent in playing the violin, and making music for others to dance their souls to ruin and hopeless despair! From this the door is opened to the vice of gambling, and soon he is seen with aged sinners following hard to learn to play cards, that he might be prepared to satisfy his mind
in the practice that his associates delighted in, and to aid him to secure means for his extravagance, as he felt his desires increasing for pleasure. In this he made rapid progress, and soon he was seen with his cards and master (as we may term it) of that art of destruction, and present and eternal ruin of many thousands of promising youths, as well as aged men. His proficiency in those engagements, soon made him the idol of all that class of community.
No longer could he stay at the place where he first engaged to labor. No longer can his feet carry him to the place of mirth and vanity, but he purchased a horse, bridle and saddle, to ride to serve his master Satan! Far and near the name of little Davis was sounding. His youthful appearance, the lively air, the charming music, engrossed his mind, thus night after night was spent in sin and folly. Fathers bending over their staffs, and mothers bowed down with age, with their offspring in this way spending their hours of rest--neglecting their soul's salvation, and leading their children down to eternal despair! The impression which had been made upon his tender mind by the tears and prayers of an affectionate mother, by this time was well nigh shaken off, and only now and then apparently, was the voice of a mother's prayers tho't upon; and that in the hours of reflection when apart from the busy multitude. The shield of protection which had been thrown around him
by these prayers and tears was laid aside. The tears of a mother forgotten, only when by some invisible voice his mind was driven back to the altar where often a fond mother had offered up to her heavenly Father her little son Fayette, and prayed that he might go with her to heaven! To drive away the impressions that stole upon him, he would seek his wicked associates and engage in their sinful pleasures, to case that troubled spirit, thus followed by the prayers of a tender mother.
His early awakening and Conviction.
His early awakening and Conviction.
While yet in the bloom of youth, the spirit of the Lord aroused him to a sense of his danger! death and judgment with all its horrors, was brought to his view. In the merry dance the conviction forced upon his conscience! And oh! what awful feelings rolled across his mind, while retiring from the place of sin and folly! The night was spent in restlessness, and the light of the morning desired to drive away the impressions which reflection and meditation, aided by the Holy Spirit, made upon the heart of the youth, to convince him of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come. Early was the enemy in the field to sow the evil seed; and presents the glory and the pleasure of this world to the view; but the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard
against him; and ere he immerged out of youth, he turned his feet to the testimonies of the Lord, and sought that pardon which had so often been offered, and as often refused. After having spent a night in frantic mirth, as he was returning to his dwelling, it appeared to him that he had done so bad; his conduct had been so offensive to that Savior who died to save sinners, that he was surely given over; and as the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man, but I will give him over to a hardness of heart and reprobacy of mind, that he may believe a lie rather than the truth, that he might be damned."
This rested on his mind, and he thought surely he would be seized as prey for destruction, ere he reached his home! The sufferings of Christ pressed upon him! The prayers and tears of a fond mother now crowded into his mind. The sins of his youth stared him in the face. His guilty conscience accusing him for having wandered so far from God, and the awful punishment which awaited a sinner in an eternal world, so aroused him, that he felt it necessary to make a promise to that Savior, who so often he had slighted and rejected! And with trembling lips, aching heart, throbing breast and flowing eyes; he raised his eyes toward heaven! he called upon God to aid him! And with trembling voice, as he crossed the field leading to his home, he said, "if God will help me I
will never play the violin, join in gambling, nor follow in the paths of sin any longer! This night ends my folly, if the Lord will stand by me." He moved on to the house with rapid strides, and soon found himself safe seated once more; and not swept from the earth by the judgment of an incensed Jehovah!
His hours passed slowly away, and early in the morning he left his bed, and thought perhaps, the gloom which overspread his mind would dispel as the night had passed and gone; but the arrow of the Almighty was deep, and the brightness of the Sun could not erase it! He thought what shall I do? my violin I wont play it, cant I put it by? This was a trial, one thought was to put it carefully away, and it would do no harm, for he would not use it any more. Another was to destroy it, for if it had caused him so much pain of mind already, there could be no advantage in keeping it. Another thought was, that it was worth considerable, and he had bought it, and had better sell it, as many would desire to own it.
In this way was his mind wonderfully exercised for that day, and knew not in what way to decide. At length he became seriously engaged on the best course to pursue, as he had been secretly acting in the whole affair. And truly it was a trying time, no doubt for a youthful mind to arrive at correct conclusions, without the kind admonitions of Christian friends or any one to
guide him. The question may perhaps arise in the mind of the reader, Where was his praying mother at this time, that she did not take the prodigal son to the arms of her affection, and by her godly counsel, help him to decide for God and heaven!
It will be remembered that it has been stated he left his father's house amid the tears of a kind mother, and went miles away to have a full scope to enjoy the pleasures of sin! This, reader, is the reason he was not aided by his praying mother, in the time of his great suspense! But we would observe that there is not a doubt, but what the angel who called him on that evening as he returned from his frantic mirth, was sent in answer to the prayer of that praying mother, who, low bowed before her Savior, at that lonely hour, had pierced the court of glory! entered the ear of her Master with her groans, for that roaming youth--caused the Advocate to interceed for the guilty rebel! and in answer to prayer, the Holy Spirit pierced his guilty conscience, and exhibited to him the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
And although far from the hearing of a mother's kind admonitions, and out of sight of her tears; yet with the Poet, we must say
"But something yet can do the deed,
And that blest something much I need;
Thy Spirit can from dross refine,
And melt and change this heart of mine:"
It is a great blessing to have praying parents,
and many who don't feel it as they ought now, will in a coming day. The Lord help all parents to offer up 'fervent, faithful prayers' for their children, 'for they avail much with God.' And even should they not be answered while we live, and not be blessed to enjoy their company in the sanctuary on earth, perhaps at the open grave, or as they pass and look upon the green grass which sweetly folds its leaves over our mouldering clay, the Lord may send his Holy Spirit and knock at the door, the consent may be given to become a Christian in that hour, and the child may finally be bronght to set down with us in the sanctuary above, where all will be better prepared to enjoy each other's company.
We now come to the subject again, and it has been observed, he had several thoughts, as to the best way to act in the matter. He thought at last, that if it was not suitable for me now, it wont be again, therefore it is no use to put it away; and if it is not fit for me to use, I dont want to sell to any person for them to use; so I will put it out of the way, and neither keep it nor sell it, so saying he destroyed it entirely; and removed the cause which might occasion him at some period to fall from his resolution "never to play it again."
This was a decision in the youth, well worthy of example by many of more riper years. Had the enemy prevailed, as no doubt, he was engaged in the plan of laying it carefully away (for
the Apostle says "Your enemy goeth about as a roaring lion") and in a time of weakness might be influenced by the love of music or of money, to break his vow. And having it in a place where he could easily obtain it, his companions would have a good opportunity of persuading him to take a great reward, and enter the field once more.
As many promising converts have been entirely ruined by parlying with the tempter, and not giving up their goods at once; making a full vendue and selling all that we are commanded to part from, and buy the pearl of great price.
All this being done in a secret manner, as we have observed, now the work was about to be commenced With a full determination to withstand all that his ungodly associates could say or do, he fixed his mind never to turn back!
He had never yet disclosed to man his intentions,--none but the Court above has received the intelligence. The sadness of his countenance at length aroused the thoughts of his friends, and they inquired to learn the cause. He stated that at first he felt ashamed to tell them, but in a moment he reflected, I have promised God to do better, and shall I now deny it? He told them that he had not felt well, and he was going to live another way while he lived.
This was astonishing to them, as they knew that a few nights before he had been engaged in the pleasures of sin. They thought he was only
alarmed at that time, and he would get over it, "or get well of those feelings, and be the same Davis." But he thought not, and declared then, that whilst he lived he was done with those things.
They persevered in their inquiries, and wished to know the reason for such a change, which was given, "He had run in sin long enough," they give him up, but expected soon to hear the voice of the young musician in the cool of the evening, but no voice is heard,--they secretly sought to find out where the youth had deposited his instrument of music, but no traces could be found to lead to the spot. After a failure in every efforts, they determined to ask him what he had done with it? To which he deliberately replied, "I have destroyed it."
This was indubitable evidence of his determination. News goes out that Davis is not going to enjoy any more pleasure; but nothing moves him. The language of his soul is well described in the following lines:
"The sorrows of my soul,
Great God, to thee is known!
And trouble deep doth roll!
Therefore to thee I groan;--
To be redeemed from all my sins;
And then my soul with joy shall sing l"
He now commences to exercise his mind in prayer, for forgiveness of the many sins he had committed against God. Now comes the trying time. The crowd who used to associate with
him, began to perceive that from appearance, they would lose their leader, unless a powerful effort was made, no doubt, Satan engaged with men to prevent him performing the vow which he made to the Most High! Great promises were made to D., to draw his mind away from the gloom so visibly exhibited to all around him; this not proving effectual, the reproaches of an unfriendly world was then levelled against him, to drive him from his promises of serving the Lord!
However, the oppositions, instead of driving him back, caused him to cleave to the Savior as the only source of good; and increased his desires to fly from the pending storm of wrath he saw hanging over his guilty soul. While in the silent watches of the night, instead of leading in the vanities of those around him, the language of his heart was, "Lord save a trembling sinner." His conviction increased till night and day was spent in deep distress, for having sinned away so many years, and grieved the Holy Spirit, and forced it oft to depart! No longer is the voice of Davis heard in the crowd of merry youth; no longer is the voice of music heard from the hands of the rudy youth; no longer was the secret places of revelry cheered by his presence; or his associates prompt by his example to immerge any further in the way to death! And as the name of a Methodist was considered approbious to any, and especially to youths, the
the news spread that "Davis was turning a Methodist!" His companions in sin began to watch him, to try to get advantage and discourage him. The finger of derision is pointed; the hiss of contempt as he walks abroad among those who previously appeared his best friends! The temptation of the enemy of souls, to fright him from his good desires; the flesh complaining, "My tears have been my sorrowful meat day and night." With Paul, he cries out, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" He now begins to seek the company of those he had long slighted; the followers of the Savior; to inquire of the daughters of Zion, "Saw ye him whom my soul desireth to see?"
No long persuasion was needful to influence the Church or the humble Christian to their duty, of aiding the weary wanderer to the gates of Zion. Good Samaritan like, they took him by the hand and led a returning prodigal to the throne of grace. What a change now? Fathers and Mothers in Israel are engaged arduously for the salvation of Davis. As he passes the crowd they try to scoff him back, 'but like a lamb for the slaughter' he passes along, 'and opens not his mouth;' his only cry is, "Where is my soul's desire, the Lamb who died for me." The progress was but small he made in the work; and the more he prayed the more he felt the exceeding sinfulness of sin; his guilt appeared more and more to his vision, till he was compelled in
view of his wretchedness, to say
"But drops of grief can ne'er repay,
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do."
His happy Conversion and Progress in Religion.
His happy Conversion and Progress in Religion.
His faith increased, hope revived, and instantly joy sprang up in his soul! and he could cry out with the Psalmist, "Come unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and I will tell what the Lord hath done for me; He hath taken my feet out of the mire and hath established my goings, and put a new song in my mouth even praise to the Lord."
"What a wonder that the Lord ever heard my unworthy cries, and stooped so low as to raise a wretch like me." The news soon spread abroad that the little musician had got religion, and was now a Methodist. Like Paul, "He began to build up that he had torn down," and the language of his soul was,
"O that the world might taste and see,
The riches of his grace!
The arms of love that compass me,
Would all mankind embrace."
Faithful to the vow he made, he perseveres in well doing, and soon he is a light to sinners. Not nineteen years of age as yet, and now a Zion
traveller? How wonderful! how mysterious are the ways of the Lord! From house to house, and from farm to farm we see him going to tell the good news! His companions begin to hide from him, to shun his presence, lest he should converse with them on the subject of religion. Astonishing truth disclosed by the blessed Savior when he said, "Men love darkness rather than light, and will not come to the light lest their deeds should be reproved." The voice of praise from the youth who so often charmed his companious with his music, now struck terror to their guilt-stricken consciences. At length one took up courage and drew near to hear what he had to say, and though but a youth and a babe in Christ, his words sunk deep in the heart and the cry is heard from the enquirer, "What shall I do to be saved." As he had been a leader in the ranks of Satan, and old and young were equal in the frantic mirth, regardless of age, condition or color, he invited sinners to fly to the Savior, rich and poor alike he invited to turn to that Savior who was able to save a sinner like him; and by his starting, a great work broke out, and the hallowed influence spread till many precious souls were enabled to rejoice in the Lord from a feeling sense of pardoned sins. Soon he found that a great number had followed his example, and now, instead of going from place to place to spend their precious time in vanity.
They went from house to house to pray,
And if they met one on the way,
They always found something to say,
About the heavenly union.
He now joined the Methodist E. Church, and others followed him, and although destitute of learning, he exemplified great talents for usefulness; soon he was authorized to lead prayer-meetings and exhort in public. The eyes of all was upon him, some for good and others for evil. We have said he was of a lively disposition, this lead many to think that he would soon be back again to the old paths, but they looked in vain. When one month passed away, the inquiry was, "How does Davis get along?"
All was well, and he was growing in the knowlege of Christ! Three months rolls on, no return, the conclusion then was by many, he will never turn back. It may be said of him he had counted the cost, the day he started for the promised land. His mind clear, and his soul happy in the love of God, he journeys on towards the heaven of eternal repose! Always his soul was delighted to be with the people of God, and set beneath the dropping of the sanctuary, and could say,
"Should earth's vain pleasures all depart,
Of this dear gift possessed;
I'd clasp it to my joyful heart,
And be forever blessed."
He now felt his soul enlarging, and sinners laid close to his heart. And as he had been a champion in the cause of sin; he now was called to suffer and endure much for Jesus' sake.
The Church approved of him and recommended him to the Quarterly Conference at*
Ky., and his case was attended to, and he received a license to preach in a short time after his conversion. As he progressed, the attempts more vigorously to keep him from advancing. The cloudless sky which he had been travelling under, now begins to gather with heavy clouds, and the rumbling storm and tempest in the distant elements sounds its dreadful approach! The temptations of the devil, the buffets of the world, now bids him stop and go no further. But his language was, "When I started, it was death or victory; and now I have come so far, I am bound to go the whole length of the road."
Such boldness in a young soldier of the cross, struck terror to the hearts of the King's enemies, and they gave back for a season; while he marched forward in the strength of the Lord.
"Thy powerful arm still bears me up,
Whatever griefs befall;
Thou art my life, my joy, my hope,
And thou my all in all."
His early Call to the Ministry and his success while connected with the M. E. Church.
His early Call to the Ministry and his success while connected with the M. E. Church.
The Ministers begin to delight in the company of Davis, and he is invited to go out to appointments with them, and invite sinners to come to Christ. As he was the delight of sinners, he now becomes to object of Christian esteem and love; for his meekness, piety, and zeal in the cause of his divine Master.
Having engaged the attention of the Ministers of the M. E. Church, "he was solicited to take a tour through Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia." And as he went he preached the gospel of peace to all,--white and colored, and even to the red man of the forest, was the glad tidings of salvation sent through him.
Having accomplished his tour, he returned to the home of his parents, and the embraces of his brethren and sisters, and the many friends in Christ who joyfully greeted him on his return.
He labored much in word and doctrine thro' the State of Kentucky, and by the help of God, was instrumental in persuading many poor sinners to seek "the pearl of great price," 'to make that wise choice, and good part which shall not be taken away from them.' Several young men were licensed to preach when he was, and (although the others were white) that love which
unite Christians, so endeared them to each other, that they did not feel contented in going out unless they had Davis with them. And as they went far and near, sinners were heard crying for mercy; and believers were made to rejoice in the Lord. The friends of Zion began to feel it their duty to aid in cultivating the mind of this promising young man.
He was conversed with by influential members and Ministers on the subject of going to College, and preparing himself for more extensive usefulness in the Kingdom of Christ. To which he freely agreed and joyfully accepted, the place and time of starting was all agreed upon, which was the Augusta College on the Ohio river in Kentucky.
The time draws near--anxiety depicts the whole scene in his mind; the night is spent in deep meditation upon the subject, while the hours passed slowly away! The desire of attaining knowledge increased as the period approached for his departure to Augusta. The time came at last when he was again called upon to bid his friends adieu--not to roam in forbidden paths of sin; not to join with the crowd in wicked revelling; not to lead in the broad way to destruction? but to improve his mind for the work that he felt his Master had called him to do. Again we see him preparing to leave his affectionate mother who still prayed for his success in the cause of the Lord; his aged father bids him adieu with a heart of sorrow; to see his son on
the road to heaven and he the way to hell. His brothers and sisters with the tear of affection clasp his hand, and bid him farewell, and the last not the least, the Church bid him adieu, and commits him to the care of that Savior who had called him from darkness to the marvellous light! What a trying time this was! Christian ties had united them! bands of love had bound those loving hearts--they had often drank from the crystal fountain of salvation.
Thy name, a precious ointment shed,
Delights the Church around,
Sweetly the sacred odours spread
Through all Immanuel's ground.
Millions of happy spirits live,
On thy exhaustless store!
From Thee they all their bliss receive,
And still thou givest more.
All things ready, the time at hand, he starts for the place of destination, and soon he arrived at the mine of science, where he might by industry, dig precious pearls of wisdom and knowledge.
His Entry and Progress in the Augusta College.
His Entry and Progress in the Augusta College.
Here he is cheerfully received and willingly admitted a student in the care of * * * and soon he is found to be deep in the affection
of Preceptors and students. He is invited out with those who were preparing for the ministry, as he was, to go to the different towns and places which might be opened for preaching; and soon 'Davis is at home in his mind with his brethren in school, and soldiers of Christ.' Often when passing up and down the river with delight and pleasing reminiscence on the past; he has pointed out the path which he used to travel while at College to preach, both in Kentucky and Ohio, and could say "what happy times I have spent in trying to persuade sinners to flee from the wrath to come." And such was his zeal--such his meekness, and love united soon won laurels in the army of the Lord, which the conqueror's sword nor the rumbling cannon, could not achieve for the mighty man of political valor.
But a subject in that kingdom, as says the Poet,
"A kingdom which can ne'er decay,
While time sweeps earthly thrones away;
The state which power and truth sustain,
Unmoved forever must remain
There shall our eyes with rapture view,
The glorious friend that died for you!
That died to ransom, died to raise,
To crowns of joy and endless praise!
As he was anxious to go forward, he was set to study the Greek and Latin language. His active and retentive mind with rapid stride moved forward. The Greek alphabet was commenced, and in a few hours he recited them all, and on he proceeded till he could read the Greek and
Latin languages. The length of time he stayed at College was short, on account of his principal benefactor's death, he left the College in one year, which was in 1834.
He now was directed by the Spirit to seek his oppressed brethren, and although he was entirely ignorant of any connexion of the A. M. E. Church. In a vision of the night he saw the company moving on, up the hill of difficulty they went as terrible as an army with banners, with the shout of a King in the camp! The subject rested upon his mind, and when he rose, he still felt it with him, "How can this be, an army of colored soldiers, officers, and all the sable sons of Africa?"
"Their horses white, their armor bright,
With courage bold they stand;
Enlisting soldiers for their King,
To march to Canaan's land"
At length his mind was so operated upon, he introduced the subject to one of the Preceptors, and asked him "if he ever knew of such a thing as congregations being established and conducted by colored men?" The answer was in the affirmative, and that back in the State of Ohio and other free States, the colored people had large Churches and Circuits as the whites had. Increasing desires filled his mind to see his brethren in the mighty army, as he had seen in the vision. This was in the winter of 1834, and the ensuing summer some of the students from Ohio informed him "that in Highland Co. the
African Methodist Episcopal Connexion was to hold a Camp-meeting, and it would be conductted entirely by their own Ministers, and their Bishop would be present also!"
Unexplored fields now opens to his view; the time rolled apparently very slow for the Camp to commence. At length the period arrived for him to start to visit the Camp-meeting, and on he moved to witness one of the wonders of his day; and as he journeyed the inquiry of his mind was, "How will they act? Can they preach as others?" Almost imperceptible he arrived at the grove; and the sound of the gospel trumpet; the cry of mourners; and shout of believers vibrated through every avenue of his soul! he drew nearer and nearer like Moses in the Mount! and the trumpet waxing louder and louder, till the place appeared filled with the glory of God. He was introduced to Bishop Brown and Rev. Quinn, and the members of the Conference, and was warmly greeted by all. The appearance of the Ministers and the number who were present at this magnanimous battle, brought vividly to his recollection the mighty army he had seen some months previous. The sight of such an army to him brought in in the land of oppression, caused him to view them with awe. Rev. Quinn preached the sermon on the afternoon after his arrival, and like the Queen of the South he could say, "the half has not been told me." After the sermon the Ministers came down and prepared to march around the encampment
with singing, and now and then the trumpet would sound; as they moved along slowly and sinners crying out for mercy, there was no more spirit within him. With tears of joy and wonder he fell to the ground, and said "This is the people and this the army that the Lord in a vision showed me; here is the place, and this the people that I will unite with, and march with them to Canaan's peaceful shore!"
He remained at the Camp-meeting for several days, and before he left the ground, he felt his mind fully made up, and that the Lord had called him to unite with this people. He conferred not with flesh and blood, but told Bishop Brown that he wished to become a member; and he would return to his friends and let them know what he proposed doing. After he had received all the information concerning the cause and extent of the Connexion which he desired, he returned to Augusta to the College, and his friends anxious to learn what the success, and how he was pleased? to which he replied, "Never did I see the like before; and of the meeting it exceeded them all; such preaching, praying, and singing, it was like heaven on earth!" He expressed to them his determination to associate with his brethren in Ohio at an early day. This was very unwelcome intelligence to the whole company 'as they considered such a course would prove dileterious to his brethren in the South; and instead of doing them good he would do them harm, as his withdrawing would create a
dissatisfaction amongst the slaves, and they would desire to follow his example as well in that as in other matters!'
He listened attentively to the argument adduced, and then told them his mind was fully decided what to do, as he felt he would still find the instructions of the Comforter to guide him. The period draws near and they give him an appointment to preach, and he did to his best ability. At this time he was all ready to start for his appointment in Ohio. His text was Ruth 1 Chap. 16 verse: "And Ruth said entreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God shall be my God; where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried."
After an exhilerating discourse on the integrity of Ruth, he applied it to himself and his brethren whom he had permitted to visit a short time previous; and prayed the prayer of the text to his dear friends concerning his people. Next day he thanked them kindly for the favor bestowed in admitting him into the Institution, and the interest they had exhibited for his welfare during his stay and bid them farewell.
His withdrawal from College, and first year's labor in the Itinerancy.
His withdrawal from College, and first year's labor in the Itinerancy.
We shall now leave Kentucky and start with him on his new field of labor in the A. M. E. Church, in Ohio. The first appointment he had, was to the Chilicothe Circuit, with the Rev. J. H. Thomas, Elder in Charge.
Brother Davis was of a very inquisitive disposition, and it therefore caused him much thought on the subject of his success in this new field of labor. He did not feel willing to enter without first counting the cost; this done, he was like Paul, "not only willing to endure suffering, but even to die for the sake of Jesus Christ his Lord, rather than bring a reproach upon the cause."
And when considering the high calling of a Christian Minister; called by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to go forth in His great name, on the embassy of the doctrine of reconciliation between God and man; there cannot be too high an estimate placed upon the calling, nor too vigilant a watch kept over ourselves lest we dishonor our Mission, betray our trust, and thereby bring a reproach upon Him who has committed to our hands so great a work!
As he was just the age to claim the attention of the young, he found it needful 'to guard himself in every word, and use but few, and those seasoned with grace, that they might administer
to the good of his brethren, and prevent a familiarity which would prove injurious, not to them only, but to himself also.'
And we would here observe, that we believe we venture not too far, when we say more travelling Preachers have been crippled, and their religious influence paralyzed by nonattendance to this particular, than by any other means which has been gotten up by the enemy.
Therefore says the Apostle of the Gentiles, 'I desire to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' The enemy is always on the alert, not only to destroy the Minister, but to prevent his usefulness both to believers and unbelievers; will magnify any thing like a familiarity, and work powerfully in the children of disobedience, to cause them to disbelieve the message sent by the Great God to dying men; which, if accomplished, the great design of the Sovereign of the Universe would be thwarted in this particular, and that by the conduct of the ambassador sent to treat with sinners to ground their weapons of rebellion.
And while a familiarity was to be avoided, it was also vastly important to guard against another extreme, so as not to slide into moroseness, lest the brethren would consider him "a proud, self-conceited fop," which would by no means prove advantageous to his ministry. For while the enemy is very willing to find fault with a Minister, as has been observed, he is none the less watchful to destroy their influence by alienating
the affections of the people from the servant of God, with the opinion "that he is too high-minded, and cares nothing about you." Well, said the Savior, "Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." And says Paul, "I keep my own body under subjection, lest after I preach to others, I myself become a cast-away." And any Minister who will not follow these directions, will soon find his preaching to be no more than "a tinkling brass and sounding symbol."
This year he labored hard and met with little encouragement as to pecuniary aid; however he pressed on, bound to die in the army! The Circuit was very large, and the travelling very extensive, yet he felt himself a regular, listed in the service of the Lord, and "whilst any of his brethren could stand it he could." During this year he had his sorrows, but the Lord was with him, and his labors appeared crowned with considerable success. His cautious manners won for him the love and confidence of both old and young, and he soon found himself at home; many good friends to greet him, and the Savior with him; he felt fully prepared to ride on the swelling tide, till his bark should land in the haven of repose.
His Travel and Success on the Columbus Circuit.
His Travel and Success on the Columbus Circuit.
The first year with its trials rolled on, and the time drew nigh for him to leave his people, and meet his brethren in the Annual Conference, which took place on the 23d of Aug., 1835. In this Conference he was elected and ordained a Deacon in the church of Christ, Friday Aug. 29, 3 o'clock, P. M. He received his appointment to Columbus Circuit, in the charge of the Rev. Henry Aderisson, whom he found to be a brother and father in the Gospel of his Lord and Master. Always ready to advise the youth for his best interest, in time and eternity! He growed in favor both with his Elder and the people he was appointed to serve; ever stiving to do all the good he could in the vineyard of his Lord; and through all weather, rain or shine, his motto was "To arms."
We want no cowards in our band,
That will their colors fly;
We call for valiant-hearted men,
Who're not afraid to die!
During this year's labor he often had such evidences of the Lord owning his feeble efforts, that he had no doubt but that he was at the right post, Many sinners were brought into the fold; and of the number some have fallen asleep in the arms of Jesus, and are gone up to reap their reward with their brother and fellow-laborer in the patience
and kingdom of Christ; others yet remain, and are fighting for the crown of life; while the name of Davis ever sounds dear to them! and though dead, he yet lives in the memory of many of the followers of the Lamb, and members of the Church in that part of the vineyard. He was not only a Preacher in the sacred desk, but both saint and sinner believed him to live a Preacher in all his pursuits; which is vitally important for the Minister's success. For however talented a man may be, or with what eloquence he may clothe his discourse in the sacred rostrum, unless his life, and daily deportment correspond with the doctrine, he immediately becomes an object of pity, and loses the holy influence so needful to him.
He served this Circuit till Conference, and at the next Annual Conference which was in Columbus, Aug. 27th, 1836. He was much encouraged in his return to the Conference, and they were well pleased with him; so much so, that on the 2d of Sept., he was elected to receive Elders orders in the Church, and was ordained by the imposition of the hands of the Bishop, Morris Brown.
His Labor, Travels and Success on the Steubenville Circuit.
His Labor, Travels and Success on the Steubenville Circuit.
This year, 1836, he was sent to Steubenville Circuit; where he endured much privation, and so much so, that at one period while he travelled on that Circuit, at a friend's house he put up; after a severe day's travel, the man of the house told him to make himself easy about his horse, for all would be right; he being young and inexperienced with the ways of men, went to the house, made himself easy, and at the proper time for going to rest he was directed to bed. Next morning when he went to the stable to attend to his horse, to his sad surprise, he found that his horse had feasted upon the trough and parts of the stable! He inquired to know the fact in the matter; for he hoped he was deceived, although the signs looked very suspicious for a sad disappointment! When the gentleman of the house came in, the young Preacher made inquiry concerning the fare of his horse; when he was frankly answered, that the horse had actually been without food the whole night. This very much grieved his soul, and taught him a lesson which he often repeated, "the only safe way for a man to act toward his beast when travelling, was to attend to it himself." He told the friends that if they wanted him to attend them, they must in future provide food for his
beast, with the assurance that if they did not, he would save them the expense. This and some other circumstances transpired in this part of his field of labor; which caused him on the preceeding visit to bid the place adieu, and attended the other appointments of his Circuit till Conference. The other parts of his Circuit was much pleased with his ministerial labors, during the year he had a very pleasant time, with the exceptions we have before-mentioned. He was however, enabled to make a very favorable report for his Circuit had a considerable increase.
He exceeded his own calculations in the work of the ministry, and as "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength," he found increasing strength attending him through this year. He often remarked when conversing on his commencement in travelling, "he thought on nothing but going forward; and when he met with crosses, he found a friend who always administered to his necessities." What tongue can tell, or pen portray the pleasure of serving the Lord in his own appointed way; and while the poor travelling Preacher, like his Divine Master, is going forth,
Oft times with hunger they grow faint,
And travel on till almost spent;
They find no friend or helper nigh,
But He who hears the ravens cry.
Amidst all this there is a joyous sensation that rises in the soul, it is the promise of Jesus
which causes it; a promise that has been the glory of the first Preachers, and will be, till the watchmen all shall have quit the walls of Zion. And the shout of victory shall be heard everywhere; While the ransomed in glory the palm-wreaths bear; which is "Lo I am with you alway, till the world shall end." A faithful minister is a great blessing to any congregation, not only in preaching the Gospel, and faithfully dispensing the word of life to his flock; but his examples of faithfulness will be imitated by his hearers, and by it they will strive to meet him on all occasions at the time and place appointed.
His return to Conference, fourth year's travel, and labor on the Richmond Circuit
His return to Conference, fourth year's travel, and labor on the Richmond Circuit
He went up to the Annual Conference, which was on the 26th of August, 1837, in Columbus, O. He now commenced to participate in the discussions of the Conference, as he said, "He was closely observing the different spirits, and becoming acquainted with the usuage of the Conference."
As he had listed during the Christian warfare, he was not particular as to the Circuit or Station he was sent. The first day he joined the Conference he set his mind to go wherever he
was appointed, and he never changed during his life. This spirit in brother Davis is one which every Minister of the Gospel should possess and cultivate, and especially Methodist; for of all the Ministers of the different denominations, there is none whose life so much exemplifies the first Preachers of the Gospel, as they do.
Like their Master who went about doing good, and could say, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." Often is it the lot of itinerant Methodist Preachers to find themselves in that position, and it is enough to keep them truly humble before God when they properly consider their situation.
And while it is a source of humiliation before Him who hath called them to "Go into all the world and preach his Gospel to every creature," it should be a theme of rejoicing, as was in the Apostle's days to find "that they are counted worthy to suffer for Jesus' sake."
The man who enters into the itinerant service of the Church, and fills that station properly, may well be called a good soldier; for in this service there are almost every kind of difficulties to contend with. When an appointment is made at one part of the Circuit, there is no telling what weather may be to go through at that time, and if a man is unwilling to confront the storm' he will soon destroy the confidence of his Societies, and being disappointed two or three times, they will on all similar occasions tarry at
home, and soon the result is that they will find excuses to stay away in good weather, and apologize by saying that "we did not expect our Preacher would be there, and we stayed at home for we dislike to go to Church, and then not find our Minister at his post."
Brother Davis always strove to avoid this, and if they were not saved, he never intended to let their blood be on his skirts by following his example!
He was becoming pretty well seasoned to the work now, having passed through three years' travel; but he had no idea of his fourth year's work. The previous year the Rev. Willam P. Quinn had been travelling and laboring in the West; "seeking his brethren in the States of Indiana and Illinois," and he wanted good assistance.
None could tell to whose lot it would fall, to go out in the new region of country; but as was little Samuel when the Lord called him, so was brother Davis in that particular, it was only "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." And when the appointments were announced, he was appointed to the Richmond Circuit in Indiana.
He could say with the Poet,
"No changes of season or place,
Could make any change in my mind,"
therefore all was well with him.
Here his labors was abundantly blessed. He found many kind friends, who, unlike some he had the previous year, were ever willing to make
not only himself comfortable, but his beast. Many souls he found thirsting for the Word of Life and Salvation.
It proved a great comfort to his mind when comparing the present with the past, and finding that the cause yet had friends; and that his labor was not in vain in the Lord! Often in ecstacy has he spoken of the joyful hours he had spent in the prairies, while riding from appointment to appointment, propagating the glad tidings of peace to an undone and ruined world. The year was crowned with a general increase, and he came up to the Conference bearing his sheaves.
His appointment to Columbus Ct., fifth year's travel and Marriage.
His appointment to Columbus Ct., fifth year's travel and Marriage.
On the 25th of August, 1838, the Conference met in Cincinnati, O., and brother Davis was appointed to Columbus Circuit again, where he found many of his young friends who had enlisted during his previous appointment to this Circuit. He passed this year in peace and quietness, and on his return, he as formerly, had two new places and considerable increase in membership.
It was in this year that he thought it would prove advantageous to him to choose a partner to be a sharer of his joy or woe. In this he exercised
great caution. His object was to obtain a good religious companion; who was entirely destitute of parents or near relatives that might be handy to him. The circumstances which led him to such conclusions was thus, "he looked upon the life of an itinerant Preacher as being of great trial. That it not only fell upon the man but its bearing would be very visible upon his wife; not only to give up and forsake friends, but to suffer as a missionary for the sake of the cause her companion was enlisted in. These things well considered, made him look forward to the day, when in the Providence of God, he might be appointed far from the home of his wife's friends, and then it might turn out that a mother's tears and father's counsel might be in direct opposition to the path which he would be called to walk in." To avoid all these unpleasant feelings and excitements that would grow out of such a state of things, he directed his course in this strange path.
It was in this year that he became acquainted with Miss Elizabeth Tinson, who was a stranger in the West, or at least, had no relatives, and whose character and religious deportment was highly approved of by the members of the Church in Zanesville; and not disapproved of by brother D. He communicated his desires to her, and on the ground of her approval, they would be united in holy matrimony. There was no great round of consultation on his part, he had counted the cost, and all was decided in
his mind. When the young lady consented, he made no more ado, but appointed the time when he would be back; requested her to be ready to change her name, and thus he went on to his Circuit. The time came, and on the 15th of January, 1839, at the house of brother Benjamin Mercers, in Zanesville, O., the nuptial band was tied, and when the time came for his departure, which was the next * * * he went on and filled up his appointments, and not an appointment was lost.
Some may suppose that brother Davis was more cautious than was needful in regard to the choice of a companion; but when we consider the inconceivable trouble which a wife may cause a man, and especially a travelling Preacher; from the wandering life they have to lead, unless a woman is of a missionary spirit, it will almost cause her to backslide in heart at least, from such a choice.
How many have found themselves almost, yea altogether overcome by the difficulties from this source. However justifiable may be the plea for so great a failure; or how much weight will be attached to such an excuse before the Judge of quick and dead, we do not attempt to set the bounds; but would say as the Apostle said, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." If thou believest it to be a duty thou owest to thy God to go into all the world and call sinners to repentance, always try to get a wife of the same disposition, and if not willing to preach, yet at
least, willing to live and suffer as a soldier of Jesus Christ. These are qualifications which every Minister's wife should be possessed of, others' wives notwithstanding. It was during this year's labors, that he received brother M. M. Clark into the Connexion, and started him to travel and labor in the vineyard, for the harvest truly was great, but the laborers were few.
A Brief Sketch by Rev. M. M. Clark,
A Brief Sketch by Rev. M. M. Clark,
In compliance with a request, to write a short biographical sketch of that part of the life of the late much lamented Rev. D. FAYETTE DAVIS, with which I have some acquaintance. I undertake the task, but with a knowledge of my inadequacy to do the subject that justice it merits.
I became acquainted with the Rev. D. FAYETTE DAVIS in the year 1836, in the State of Ohio. He was then the Preacher in Charge of Steubenville Ct., in that State. My acquaintance, however, did not become familiar with him till 1838. In that year he had charge of Columbus Ct., and my business frequently calling me in that region, over which his Circuit extehded, often brought me in company with him. He and I then formed a more intimate acquaintance. He often invited me to his quarterly
Meetings, and on such occasions, he showed to me the utmost kindness and respect.
His cherished theme of conversation always was about the great advantages the A. M. E. Connexion was destined to prove to the colored race of these United States; and frequently enlarged on every point of advantage to them. With much emphasis he would discourse on the privileges of the rising ministry: the advantages that the Connexion would afford them for improving their minds and talents to the glory of God and the good of their race.
The various channels of usefulness into which the locality and laity would be called; and the thraldom out of which our Connexion would bring the colored people of this country. It seemed to me that, at that time his soul was wholly absobred in the advancement of the African Cause. His deep and warm interest in the cause, and his strong solicitation induced me to consider seriously on the importance of connecting myself with that Church and Cause, which was the delight and concern of his mind. Hence in 1839, in the latter part of that year, he invited me to his quarterly Meeting in Urbana, where I joined the Connexion, and received from him license to preach.
I then quit the School Agency in which I had been engaged, and started on the Circuit with Bro. DAVIS. I now became still more intimate with him than I had been, and all my preconceived notions of him as being a most excellent
man, were more and more confirmed as I became more acquainted with him. He was always most open in his manners, perfectly approachable at all times, very affectionate and unaffectedly kind.
I rode under him six months, and then he went to the General Conference at Baltimore in 1840, and left the Circuit in charge of myself.
On his return he resumed his labors on the same Circuit till the ensuing fall, when he took me with him to the Annual Conference in Cincinnati, where I joined the Annual Conference, and was again placed under him on the Hillsborough Ct., for one year. During this period, as I was at all times with him, I had the fairest chance to learn that character, which I trust, ever to have a heart to admire, and grace to imitate.
I believe he obeyed to the letter, that injunction of his Divine Master, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Mat 10:16. He was both. He was wise to win souls, and harmless as the quiet and peaceful dove.
Revivals followed him on every Circuit, and at almost every quarterly Meeting. As a Preacher he was beloved by all, both white and colored. His style and manner of preaching were of the most engaging and captivating order. His delivery was clear, distinct, and easy, interspersing his sermons with the richest and most sublime
remarks. Job the 26:14 was a favorite text of his, "Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?"
The Psalms afforded a theme for his rich thoughts, with which he seemed very familiar, particularly with those bold and sweet expressions of David, such as the following: "Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly." "Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people."
The sublime language of Isaiah also dwelt upon his tongue, and seemed to be as familiar to him as his breath. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, &c."
In 1842 he was placed on another Circuit, and I remained on the Hillsborough. I did not see him again till 1844 at the General Conference in Pittsburgh, where I had the last conversation with him. One evening when in company with him, he dwelt much upon his former misimprovement of time, that he now greatly regretted that he had not spent all his leisure moments in close application to useful studies, which would so much more have fortified his mind for the arduous
work of the Gospel ministry. He was, however, to my knowledge, very studious, and had a very great desire to make himself acquainted with the Eastern Languages, in which he had made some proficiency, particularly in the Latin and Greek.
As a husband, he was affectionate and loving, and bore all his family trials with the fortitude of a firm and unyielding Christian. As a father, he was kind, to a proverb. The law of kindness and of wisdom dwelt upon his tongue; and his children would have grown up under such heavenly dew, as trees by the water side.
In his quarterly Conferences, and in all his Church trials, he always had the disposition of a Lamb, and the patience of a Job, and the meekness of a Moses. I never, in all my acquaintance with him, saw him out of good temper, but once, and then he was beyond measure provoked; but one word of caution from a friend who was present, brought him to an immediate recollection of who he was, and what he was; then, in an instant, the fierceness of the lion put on the quietness of the lamb; and the provocation at once forgiven.
Such was the beloved, the good, the great, the Rev. D. FAYETTE DAVIS, whose life was a pattern to all who knew him, and worthy the imitation of all young Ministers, and his death was that of the righteous! "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." Psa. 37.37.
His sixth year's appointment, return to Columbus Circuit and success.
His sixth year's appointment, return to Columbus Circuit and success.
Having labored extensively in the past years, it appears as if the Conference sympathized with him this year, and returned him again to Columbus Circuit.
Not as ever there was exemplified the least signs of dissatisfaction, in any of the appointments which were given to him, but it is natural to suppose that as he now had a companion, the Conference would look to this, and not move him any oftener than was needful.
This was a worthy trait in the character of that aged and venerable servant of God, who then presided in the Conference, Father Morris Brown, whose memory will long be cherished, and whose example I hope will be imitated by those who shall in future fill the seat which he occupied. And while it is not the design of a good man to make the choice of his field of labor, when he gives himself up to the itinerancy; yet none are so devoid of reason, as not to desire to be as well situated for the good of the Church and their family, as the case will admit.
The Circuits at this time were very large, and this was to be attributed to the scarcity of travelling Preachers. The Circuit then called Columbus circuit, included what is now formed
into three Circuits and one Station; which we notice, as it may be thought that when we refer to transactions in the Circuit as they then were it is incorrect. And as it is always desirous to look at the old land-marks, we now give the Columbus Circuit as when brother Davis travelled it; Columbus, Urbana, Springfield, Troy, Pickaway, Mercer, Shelby, Muddy Creek, Logan, Circleville, and Lancaster; these facts we collect from the Minutes of the Ohio District, and while they exhibit the great labors of one Preacher, to serve such an extensive field, it also displays the glorious triumphs of our growing Connexion, in gathering in the scattered sons and daughters of Ethiopia, so that in the nine last years that region of country which had but one solitary traveller to "cry behold the Lamb," is now supplied with four or five laborers. And where they then numbered in all that vast field, two hundred and eighty-two members, we now in the same field find seven hundred and fifty. This with the number deceased, will show that our Church is a powerful mean in the hands of God of gathering together in Christ Jesus, those who have long been slighted and neglected.
We now return to our brother's labors in the Circuit, and it was as he used to say "a year long to be remembered, on the account of the presence and outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord."
Not long after his commencement in this
year's labor, it pleased the Great Head of the Church to water with showers of divine grace, the seed sown by his servant, and a blessed revival of religion commenced on his Charge, and extended throughout the Circuit! He called upon the tall cedars of Lebanon, and oaks of Bashan to bow to the sceptre of the Lord; and they willingly obeyed the voice, and old and young shared the bounty of a beneficent Savior! With the zeal of a holy Minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, he went about doing good! signs and wonders followed the preaching of the Cross!
As has been observed in the preceding Chapter, by our worthy brother Clark, that he never saw brother Davis out of temper but once, which was at a Quarterly Meeting Conference in Urbana; when the contending brother had intruded beyond all bounds upon his forbearance, he left the chair where he was presiding, and like Peter, was just in the act of smiting, when a brother clasped him in his arms and spoke to him, and he reflected and poured out his grief in a flood of tears! and calmly took his seat. He often spoke of the circumstance, as one of great regret; and like David he would say, "My feet had well nigh slipped, and had it not been for Father --, I would in that moment have done what I should never have forgiven myself for."
And though that father had long passed on before him, to reap the reward of the faithful, he
ever cherished a fond memory, and always spoke with the highest respect of him.
One might suppose that at a time when his Circuit was enjoying such a blessed outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he would find all his subordinate officers in a good and friendly position; but it is not always the case. For never is the enemy more busy, and setting in motion every engine for the destruction of the watchmen on the walls of Zion, than at times when his kingdom is the heaviest attacked by those servants of the Most High. And it's not much odds by whom the desired object is accomplished, whether of brethren within or foes without; all one, so that the end is accomplished.
It has been observed that he calmly submitted to counsel, and took his seat; and then he in the calmness of soul could say,
Yea, let men rage; since thou wilt spread,
Thy shadowing wings around my head;
Since in all pain thy tender love,
Will still my sure refreshment prove.
The meeting ended in great peace, and all was well satisfied before they parted, and they started for another three months' journey; yea, for life and salvation, may I say
Brother Davis was not desirous to obtain revenge, nor did he seek his own glory, for he after that, treated the offending brother with the greatest kindness, and never could it be seen by any act or word that ever any thing unpleasant
had transpired between them; this was "not letting the sun go down upon his wrath."
This year was a very fruitful one, and in the conclusion of it he had almost doubled his number of members, and the pleasure of the Lord had truly prospered in his hands.
He could say all I had given me I have, none of them are lost, save the son of perdition. Having endured much in the several first years, he now appears to be favored from this Conference of 1839 to return to Columbus again, and this was the greatest year of all on that Circuit. The Lord abundantly owned and blessed his labors, (as has been observed) so that he returned with many sheaves.
His seventh year's travel; Contest on Baptism with Rev. W. Sheldon, of the Baptist Church; Illness, &c.
His seventh year's travel; Contest on Baptism with Rev. W. Sheldon, of the Baptist Church; Illness, &c.
In 1840 he was appointed to Chilicothe Ct., and during this year he began to fail, about the commencement of the Summer he was attacked and recovered in a short time, so much was his physical powers exhausted, that his companion, Physician, and members desired him to take a longer respite from the toils of his Circuit; but he tried his strength a few days, and whenever he felt able to get upon his beast, he soon was as
persevering as ever to fill his appointments; never willing to let his congregation be disappointed.
He felt the dispensation of the Gospel was committed to him, "and woe if he did not preach it;" no importuning could move him from duty, while he was able to go.
Brother Davis was a true lover of the Church, and was ready to defend her in any respect, and as the subject of immersion was the great topic of the day, and the brother S. who was in that city used his best efforts to disseminate the doctrines of error in our mode through the members of the Church.
Brother D., finding that silence at this period, only emboldened his antagonist, and encouraged him to prosecute his course. Considerable excitement among his member by this time existed; some anxious for their Elder to defend the Church mode of baptizing by sprinkling and pouring, and others to the reverse; however he determined to act as he felt best for the prosperity of the Church. Accordingly he accepted a challenge from Rev. S. to discuss the subject of baptism.
Brother D. contending that the scriptural mode of baptism was by effusion, i. e. sprinkling or pouring. And brother S. of course, occupied the side of immersion. They met on the 10th day of May, in the A. M. E. Church, in Chilicothe, and discussed the subject, and such was the effects, brother Davis got rest forever from
this brother; while his congregation was fully reconciled at the validity of their initiation by that sealing ordinance.
There was nothing special occurred in this year, after this difficulty was settled as we have observed, all appeared calm, and peace and quietness ensued.
The year's labor being ended, he started for Conference, which was to be held in the city of Cincinnati on the 11th of September. Brother Davis had a desire to hail his brethren; in company with his colleagues, brother M. M. Clark and S. Ratcliff, he travelled as far as Xenia, O. where he fell sick again, and was unable to attend Conference; for as we passed through that place, it was a general opinion that he would not recover; but the Lord was kind and restored him to his young family and the Church for a few year's longer, whilst he could adopt language thus:
"Let sickness blast, let death devour,
If heaven must recompense our pains;
Perish the grass, and fade the flow'r.
If firm the word of God remains."
Through the tender mercies of an Allwise providence, the intelligence came on in some days after, that hopes were entertained of his recovery; which was received with joy by the Conference.
His appointment to Pittsburgh, and eighth year's labor in the Gospel.
His appointment to Pittsburgh, and eighth year's labor in the Gospel.
It will be remembered, we have stated that brother Davis was prevented by affliction, from attending the Conference this year; but with the hope of his recovery the Bishop thought it fit to appoint him to Pittsburgh Station; which he received as was his usual way whatever his appointment. It was only to read it out, and all was right. When his appointment was presented to him, he very cheerfully consented, and determined as soon as the Lord would restore his strength he would leave for it! which was granted; and by the 1st of Nov. he was in his Charge in the City. He entered upon the duties of his Station with his usual alacrity, and soon he gained the confidence and esteem of his congregation. He was a close observer, and although he often looked on as though he was not interested, and appeared as if any one could deceive him, yet he would often say "you can't catch Davis with that bait, however flattering the auspices." It was in this year and through the visits that we made to each other's field of labor, that we became very intimately acquainted. When we became true yoke-fellows, and by reason of which we communed freely upon all the subjects of our Christian experience; and the pleasures and sorrows of the itinerant ministry. From the day
of our first interview till the last word we exchanged, before he passed the ordeal of death! was an unbroken link of Christian affection. Through those means, we are yet able to call to rememberance the facts as though they had just fell from his lips, and he was communicating to us word by word, while we write! The duties of a large Station was a powerful weight upon his mind, and he would often say, "I have the whole Station upon me, and am striving to bear them all up, that I may be able to give a good account at last.'
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm."
His ninth and tenth year's labor, and third year's appoiment to Pittsburgh Station.
His ninth and tenth year's labor, and third year's appoiment to Pittsburgh Station.
In 1842 he was returned to Pittsburgh Station, and with renewed energy and zeal, he commenced his second year's labors, with great anxiety to see the work and pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hands. He labored night and day in word and doctrine, he reproved, rebuked, and exhorted with all long suffering, and like Paul, he would at times, feel willing to suffer all things for his brethren, "that they might only know Christ in the power of his resurrection."
"Thy sov'reign grace to all extend,
Immense and unconfined;
From age to age it never ends--
It reaches all mankind."
The Fall well nigh passed away, and no fruit of his toil and pain appeared to his view. However, he determined to make another effort, and hold a series of meetings to strive and persuade men to flee from the wrath to come, which took place in the latter part of the Fall and Winter of 1843. On the first effort the work began in a languid way; all the day preaching, and those unconverted were yet unconcerned, and appeared to care for none of those things, which were spoken by the servants of the Lord. That evening as he returned from Church, he told brother A. D. L. that he would by the help of God make another effort to influence the mind of sinners to turn from the error of their ways, and if there then was no signs of fruit, he would conclude he might as well desist, as all the efforts proved unavailing, and sinners were bound to go to Tophet. He preached in the afternoon and bid sinners farewell! and invited the Christian part of the congregation to let sinners alone, pray no more for God to have mercy upon them, but pray for His convicting power to awaken them to a sense of their danger! for mercy was lavished upon them, and those tender mercies so often slighted, would only serve to augment the torments of that doleful world to which they were fast travelling.
This might appear very severe, and unchristian advice of brother Davis, but it sometimes happens in the journey of a Christian's pilgrimage, that Satan will use every mean of causing the poor blind sinner to fly from their best interest, and influencing their minds to treat the people of God with contempt; and at the same time using every effort to discourage the humble follower of Christ from the use of those means which might ensure the happiness of the sinner. We have heard men who, if they were conversed with upon the salvation of their precious souls, say 'it would make such and such persons too happy if we were to get religion.' Nothing will prove so effectual to such persons, as to appear that it is not of much importance whether they are saved or lost; and when they find that they are not so great as they thought to be, they will bow for mercy at the throne of grace.
The afternoon service ended, and all went to their homes. Many finding very great fault of Elder Davis' course, indeed, some who appeared previously to have no consideration about their latter end, were heard to ask "what was to become of poor sinners, when the Elder had requested the congregation not to make any further efforts, and let sinners alone."
This sunk deep into their minds, and harrowed up the dormant powers of the soul from its former lethargy! The hour came for the evening service; all was anxiety; professors did not
understand the plan; sinners entirely in the dark; to battle they all resorted. They sung, prayed, and preached; and after all one young lady came forward and bowed at the altar of prayer; after a while another, and thus ended the day's work, with at least, two penitents, who were willing to try for life and salvation. Did this work stop here? It was only a little cloud, as in the days of Ahab, "Not larger than a man's hand; but the sound of abundance of rain was heard," and ere it ended hundreds were the happy subjects of that powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this part of the vineyard. And for three months was the cry heard through the different parts of the city. "Men and brethren what shall I do to be saved." The fruits of that year's labor will only be fully realized in eternity.
Time is too short! pen and paper can never reveal it, the mind of man can't fully comprehend the weight of glory to many who came over on the Lord's side; lived to the glory of His name! died in the full assurance of that rest, "that remaineth to the people of God." This year passed on, and it would appear superfluous for us to attempt to speak upon the encouraging features to our beloved brother's mind, that such a state of things would present. His soul could cry out with the following stanzas:
O may his conquests still increase,
And every foe his power subdue!
While angels celebrate his praise,
And saints his growing glory show.
Loud hallelujahs to the Lamb,
From all below, and all above;
In lofty songs exalt his name,
In songs as lasting as his love!
He was with many of them when they emerged out of darkness into the light and liberty of God's dear children; and stood by the bedside when death was unlocking the prison of clay to let the happy spirit free to grasp the immortal and undying glory of the saints! as a company passed over from the Church militant a few days before, to welcome him into everlasting habitations.
This beneficent kindness of the Lord to his Charge, wonderfully endeared him to the people, and at the Conference of 1844 he was requested back, which was granted. During this year nothing extraordinary occurred; as there had been a gathering in of all kinds of fish, "The good was to be gathered into vessels, but the bad to cast away." It was in this year that his health became much impaired, and the seeds of Consumption took deep root upon his lungs. He appeared very sensible of the disease preying upon him, but he always was at his post. He was an energetic Preacher, and never appeared to feel any labor too great, he only desired God's name should be glorified! When advised by his friends to desist from laboring so very extensive and zealous, he would say, "It's no use to be trifling about the work, I'll soon be gone." With Mr. Young, the Poet, he could say,
"The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
But from its. To give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright
It is the knell of my departed hours;
Where they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands despatch;
How much is to be done! My hopes and fears,
Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down on what? a fathomless abyss;
A dread eternity!! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august
How complicate, how wonderful is man!
How passing wonder, He who made him such,
Who centered in our make such strange extremes
From different natures marvelously mixt
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds;
Distinguished link in beings endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam etheral, sullied and observ'd
Though sullied, and dishonored still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a God! I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost! At home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surprised aghast,
And wondering at her own; how reason reels!
Oh what a miracle to man is man,
Triumphantly distressed! what joy, what dread!
Alternately transported, and alarm'd!
What can preserve my life? or what destroy?
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there."
It was often in conversation that he appeared to loose sight of all worldly things, and seek an interview with immortal beings. His mind was no way placed upon the affairs of earth, and often he would say, "If I only had a mind to contend with earthly things as some men, how much better it might be for me; But I can't, its no use to try."
"No foot of land do I possess,
No cottage in this wilderness,
A poor wayfaring man;
I rest awhile in tents below,
Or gladly wander to and fro,
Till I my Canaan gain."
The year rolled round, and on the 13th of Sept., 1844, we started, and travelled in company to and from Conference. We had a pleasant trip, as the whole conversation of the day was on useful subjects, and at night, after offering our evening sacrifice, hours were spent in conversation about the most efficient means to carry on the work; and to spread the knowledge of Gospel truth amongst us.
His appointment to the Washington (Pa.) Circuit, and eleventh year's labor in the Gospel.
His appointment to the Washington (Pa.) Circuit, and eleventh year's labor in the Gospel.
In Conference bro. Davis was kind, affable, and unassuming in his manners; he zealously defended his position when entered into conflict, yet never attempted to mar the peace of those who differed from him in sentiments by rashness.
At this Conference the subject of our Manual Labor School in Ohio was set on foot, and he was one of the first appointed to draw up a Preamble and Constitution for the Union Seminary. His soul appeared overwhelmed with joy at the day and hour when the Church had took such a noble stand. When the Ohio Conference, though but few and small, yet big in hope to attempt to lead off in this magnanimous enterprize; and let the world know that the A. M. E. Church were not opposed to the improvement of her Ministers. It was a thronged Conference, and we set day and night, and on one occasion, when we had been engaged till about 1 o'clock at night, some of the Committee complained of fatigue, and wished the meeting to adjourn. He replied, "don't let us get weary in well doing, we are laying a foundation for unborn millions to look back to the day when their father's laid the foundation of this structure; when they had to contend with all the prejudices of the age; when they were destitute
of the many advantages that we now enjoy; they will then take courage, and following our example, will rise to the zenith of literary glory, and bless the day when we embarked in this glorious cause!' Scarcely were our lots to be in an Annual Conference, but we were together upon some Committee, and there could never be a more pleasant companion in labor than he was. Always willing to strive for the general good of the cause, his whole soul was in the work of the Church. From this Conference he was appointed to Washington, Pa. Circuit, when we started for home he appeared much pleased at the change, as he thought it might prove advantageous to his health. He soon left the city for his new field of labor, where he was cheerfully and joyfully received. He had formed considerable acquaintances in visiting during the three years that he was stationed; so that he soon found himself at home with his congregations. The change appeared to flatter him and his friends with the prospects of a speedy return to health, and that the fears of his sinking under the Consumption, seemed to vanquish! For a season he seemed to flourish, and every feature appeared to prognosticate a longer and more useful life than had been previously entertained, and he commenced the labors of his Circuit, with all the zeal of former days.
His object was to always be at his post, and not to disappoint; this was highly commendable to his hearers. As his family was still in
Pittsburgh, and our residences being near, we often availed ourselves of the opportunity of each other's company. Never was a visit made to his house, but we had an interview. It was not long till he expressed himself entirely destitute of a hope of ever enjoying good health again in this life.
This thought I ever strove to put far off, and encouraged him with prospects of a long pilgrimage before he would go home, but it was in vain to attempt to flatter him; he felt the powers of disease weighing him down to his mother earth; therefore he was not to be moved from such substantial premises. In the commencement of this year, a brother of the A. M. E. Z[.] Church, started a Society in Washington, and at the time we were at Conference, he made his attack, and used his utmost to divide the members of the Church in that place. When brother Davis got in company with the brother, he told him very frankly, "that he thought of all men, we, as Ministers, ought to avoid the dividing of our people; they are poor, and with all their combination, are not able to get along; and how can we possibly succeed in such little groups as you are striving to get our people in? Better come to the conclusion to try and unite, than to divide them; and as for my part, I would rather beg my bread, than to be engaged in such a work! surely God will curse such proceedings as this, so I advise you to stop it!" The brother took it all, apparently, in good part, and said "he did not want
to do any harm," but still he continued his efforts in organizing a Society. Very little injury was sustained by it to the Church, for where the people have the right spirit, and a sound mind, they will not be blown off by every wind and doctrine.
At Quarterly or Camp Meetings he was at home! then he could participate in the company of his brethren, and unite in going up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. He took great pains in trying to promote his locality; always striving to stimulate them to a zealous prosecution of the study of the Holy Scriptures, and other useful studies to qualify them to appear honorably before their congregations. And while he advised others, he did not forget his own obligation to his hearers. This was visible in his discourses. Often would he point the mind with such clearness to the joys prepared for the faithful; to the golden streets; the jasper walls; the roses of paradise; the Tree of Life; the crown of glory; the drinking from the crystal stream; the beholding the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! till the humble believer could say I will arise and hasten to the feast of the Lamb, and partake in the joys of that blest world!
This Circuit will long remember the many heart-cheering sermons they have heard fall from his lips from time to time. And although his voice is hushed in the silence of death, yet in the memory of many of his hearers he is yet alive. This year passed with its joys and conflicts,
and although nothing extraordinary transpired, it was a year of peace and assurance to the souls of his hearers.
His return to the Washington Circuit, and eleventh year's labor.
His return to the Washington Circuit, and eleventh year's labor.
In 1845 we were favored to journey up together again to Conference at Columbus, O., and as on former occasions, we passed a pleasant time during this tour. After passing ten day's close application, the session closed; and at brother Davis' request, we started with him to visit his aged parents in Shelby Co., O., after two days' travelling, about 43 miles a day, we arrived at the house of his dear friends.
In a humble cottage in the midst of a heavy timbered country, lived this aged couple. I shall never forget the hour we entered the premises of this venerable family, crossing a field we came to the house of one of his brother's, and a little boy saluted him with "is not that uncle Fayette." Here we stopped a short time, and then moved on to the next house. The shades of night was just wrapping nature in her nocturnal silence. All was quietness, but now and then the voice of the owl was heard to sound through the lofty oaks of the forest. We saw an elderly lady coming out to meet us, when brother D. requested
me to move on first, and see whether his mother would know him or not. And as I drew near, the old lady gave me her hand and I introduced myself to her. She looked at her son but could not make him out, till the tenderness of a son's heart could no longer refrain from the expression of love to a tender parent; he spoke and his mother recognized him. What joy was in that house! when the long absent son had come, and returned to the bosom of a loving father and mother! Although it never had been my lot to see them before, yet the kindness of the family made me feel myself at home.
The old gentleman said he was at least 103 years old; he was cheerful and lively, and on Sabbath he walked to Church in company with us, and from the pleasure of seeing his son, said he almost felt like a young man. The neighborhood all came out, and we had a fine time; the Lord was present and that to comfort his people. We had service twice that day, and all returned to their homes. Several years had elapsed since he had been at home, and it was thro' his instrumentality that a Church was established among them, therefore a few years could not destroy the friendship of those Christian friends.
We remained from Saturday until Monday, when we were compelled to bid them farewell, and started for our fields of labor. Monday night he stopped at Muddy Creek, and found the friends very happy to be favored with the company of their old faithful Pastor; as he had travelled
the Urbana Circuit several years before. The next night we were parted, he staid in Urbana, and I went to Goshen, and both held meeting about nine miles apart; next morning by the time of our usual starting, he was on to make the remainder of our travel to Columbus. He appeared anxious to visit as many places in the tour as he possibly could, so he thought he would go through Lancaster, O., and on his way he used every effort to call upon all his acquaintances that he could hear of living within reach.
It appeared as if he was anxious to see all his brethren and spiritual children before he left the walls of Zion, and went up to receive his reward! At Lancaster, he visited one of his Preceptors from Angusta College, a Minister of the M. E. Church in that place, and other friends who displayed great satisfaction at meeting with him. The next morning we left for Zanesville, and had a joyful Sabbath with the friends of Jesus in this place, as brother Lawrance was on that field of labor, we had his company from Columbus to Zanesville.
Bro. Davis delivered a pathetic discourse to the Church, and remarked that he had often persuaded the sinners of Zanesville to flee the wrath to come, and if he never more seen them till at the judgment seat of Christ, he would stand clear of their blood! Many remarked that it appeared every time he visited them he preached better, not thinking it was the best and last sermon that
ever his lips would proclaim in honor of his Lord and Master, in that city! And although it was a day long to be remembered on account of the visitation of the Holy Spirit! other circumstances have since transpired to render it more solemn! to all who sat that day under the droppings of the sanctuary, and house appointed for prayer to all nations.
We parted from the brethren on Monday morning for the Washington and Pittsburgh fields of labor, as brother Davis was re-appointed to the Washington Circuit, where we arrived and spent the Sabbath, and had a pleasant day; all appeared much edified in the appointment, and his return to them another year.
During this tour, and on all occasions of our being together, he expressed his certainty of a speedy dissolution; and the only thing that afflicted his mind was the ill-prepared and helpless state of his family, to meet with such a stroke at that time! In conversation, it appeared at times that the weight of this momentous subject was more than his mind could bear! Often after being at Church, or other places where duty called him, instead of going to rest, hours were spent in conversation upon the interests of the Church and family.
From the effects of the disease under which he labored, it began to affect his mind, and to cause him to sink under the weight thereof. He manifested so much more weakness of mind at times than I had ever seen before, made us feel
for him, and strove to banish as much as possible the distressing thoughts from his mind, and to encourage him to look forward to the great work the Lord had yet to accomplish through his instrumentality! "Ah! he would say, if this old frame was not so much shattered, it might be patched up for a few years; but it is so far gone and so near dissolved, that whenever I am taken off my feet I am gone!"
I tried to insist upon him applying for medical aid to skillful Physician, but he thought none could restore him, and at least, in attempting to find the most injured part, they might remove some of the frail ones and could not put it together again as good as it was. I visited his Circuit, and one occasion, we travelled through the western part of this County, and then he assured me that he could not last much longer, he felt his work was most done, his young and helpless family was all that caused his trouble of mind.
He then spoke of the years he had labored in the itinerancy. "And now, said he, if I am called away, my only comfort is, that I have done the best I could for the Connexion, and hope they will have a heart to feel for those I leave destitute upon the cold charity of the world!" Those words sank deep in my mind, it was all plain before my eyes; what would his family do? referring to the words of the Lord by the Prophet, "Commit your widows and fatherless children unto me, and I will sustain them!"
Whatever the enjoyment of the Christian in this life may be, the man who loves his family as he ought, will find it a trouble to the mind, to be called to leave them all destitute, and it is more than mortality can endure without an expression of grief, unless the Lord gives the grace to sustain the soul under this severe trial!
It was about the latter part of this year that the exciting subjects of the day were canvassed; and he spoke freely of his fears of the deleterious effects thereof upon the vitality of the Christian religion. Upon an occasion when some errors were published in relation to the Church, he told an interested friend "the Church I hold superior to all things in this life, and whenever any person or persons oppose it, they oppose me; for there is nothing which has or can do, for the rise and progress of our down-trodden and afflicted people what she has. It is no difference in what shape they may appear to me; the salvation of the soul and body of our people is in her prosperity; therefore to oppose and destroy it, would be to destroy ourselves."
He was not in favor of Christians running with the crowd and following the world, but the steady doctrine which he preached was, "Come out from the world, and be separate from them."
The standard was raised in his mind against secret oath-bound societies in the Church, and his language was, "Let the day come, be it long or
short, whenever our people take hold of those things, religion will decline from amongst us; and I never want to see the day when such a state of things shall take place."
This was not the language of bro. Davis in the hour of excitement, but in the time of his most sober reflections. At times when undisturbed by the bustle and cares of a busy crowd, in silent hours of meditation upon the interest of Zion, whilst setting, as if his mind was in another world, he would often, as just returned to earth! aroused from his deep thoughts, say 'Yes! yes! it will ruin us forever! if ever our people take hold of it." I shall never forget the apparent emotions of his mind, and without fear of reasonable contradiction, can say, that if ever bro. Davis appeared to dread one thing above another to injure or impede the progress of the Christian on his journey to Canaan, this subject was the greatest, and most lamented by him! We will, however, pass on from this, and at another period of his life, have a few lines more on the subject from his own pen.
As we had entire confidence in each other, there was nothing for the present or future good of the Church, ourselves, or families, that we thought of but we made known to each other at the earliest possible period. And as is said of Solomon and the Queen of the South, "it appeared that we kept back nothing from each other." What joyful hours have we spent together when all had gone to rest; after preaching or
any other meeting in the Church, when in each other's Charge nothing would keep us from being present at any of the meetings, and when the city clock would strike one and two, he would be as well satisfied as if it was just dark.
He had a severe attack of his disease of the lungs about the latter part of the Spring of this year, when he came home he observed, "I thought I was going home, to reap my reward! but the Master seen fit to raise me up again for a little while." He never desired his wife to know how near he was to being parted from her by the irresistable hand of death! always saying "it will do no good to trouble her mind before there is any necessity, for it will come soon enough."
His tour to Conference, and patience in disappointments.
His tour to Conference, and patience in disappointments.
On the 7th of September, 1846, we took passage for Cincinnati, on the steamer----, as our Conference met there on the 12th, and it was a passage that will long be remembered by those who remain of the company; many of whom have since gone to their long home! We left on a raise of water, heavy loadened for that place, and on the first night through the inadvertency of the pilot, we found ourselves in the morning on a bar at an island called Brown's, about forty
feet or more from the channel! This was received as an unfavorable omen at so early a day of our voyage; yet no one dared to cast much reflection, as we hoped it might not be long till we should be enabled to escape all the apparent signs of detension by this misguidance.
The second day rolled on rapidly, and all hands went to work to forward on in releasing the boat out of the dilemma; and ere any signs of deliverance, we were to our sad disappointment enveloped in the dark shades of night. All the change that could be discovered in our situation was, that by sparring and heaving the boat had got further from the channel, and more deeply embedded in the sand. When the conclusion was by the Master, that the only way to get off, was to unladen the boat; to this every mind was directed, and our company which consisted of six who were bound for Conference; viz: Davis, Lewis, Conyou, Thompson, Bailey, and myself, agreed to do all we could when the period arrived for work. After a night of toil, early in the morning of the third day, the hands were sent to get a flat boat to lighten the steamer. The hours passed rapid, and some of us began to complain, when viewing other boats much heavier than the one we were on, passing up and down the river, and we laying up high on a bar. Brother Davis looked steadily at the boat as it passed, and said "I should have liked it well, if we had kept in the right course and went on, but we are here, our bread is given, and our water is sure, and
while the Lord takes care of us, I shall not complain. It might have been far worse, we might have blown to atoms during the night, but all is safe, and if we are not travelling we are laying here safel so let us be thankful."
It was not long till the boat's men with a lighter heaved in view, and all hands went to work again to lighten the boat. We toiled pretty much of the day, and when night came on again we were still in the old spot not more than seventy miles from Pittsburgh. At the supper table again the subject of dissatisfaction was broached, and some thought it best to go ashore early the next morning and walk down to Steubenville, which was but a few miles, and then they could take passage on another boat. This course was much condemned by brother Davis, "We may do all that, said he, and perhaps not get on as fast as if we were to stay on this boat;" Brother Lewis agreeing with him, "that the Lord might have some wise providence in this wonderful detention, therefore let us be contented."
After devotion, we repared to rest, and left the hands still working; the night passed and the fourth morning found us in the same place, and we were blessed to rise and see the bright rays of the king of day shining through the lattice of our births, as on the previous mornings. A deep gloom pervaded the minds of some of the company as they hastened out to see the result of the night's toil! and found no relief from the labor of the past. Brother Davis came out with his
usual placidity, and said "Thank the Lord we are all here, no danger or accident hath befallen any of us as yet, let us be contented, brethren, we are doing the best we can to get to Conference, we have worked hard, watched and prayed to get off, and all has failed, now let us trust the Lord, and wait the result." He appeared to entertain no corrosive fears as to whether he went or staid, but after laboring as much as he felt like, he would go into the cabin and take his Greek and Latin Testament, and there set for hours as well contented, seemingly, as if the boat was under ever such good headway.
He had a wonderful taste for study, and his whole mind was upon the oriental language. He was more advanced in these studies, than in that of his mother tongue. At length the boat got off, and with delight he said, "we'll try it again and assist in loading up, but I think it would be better if some other boat had a portion of what we have, for it appears that the world has such a hold upan men that it makes them overlook every thing but their earthly gain."
The fourth day found us in a more favorable position, as we had now got to the channel; but it took us all that day and night to reload, and with very close application to business, by 2 o'clock, being the fifth day, Sunday morning, the last part and parcel was placed on board. The boat laid till daylight, as they were destitute of fuel, and the men had been toiling from the first night we got a ground, day and night, till then, with a very
small exception. The hands wooded, and after awhile in the morning we found ourselves under way. All was right, and every mind appeared elated with the idea of now going on safely. After breakfast, it was determined that there should be preaching, and the brethren desired brother Lewis to preach the morning sermon, and brother ----, was to preach at another hour of the day, which was agreed to.
It was admirable to behold him on this trip to Conference, we must pass on, lest we weary the patience of our readers on this part of the narrative. We were however, detained again before we arrived at Steubenville, and during our bro. L.'s sermon in the cabin, the hands of the boat were engaged in reshipping the freight on another steamer, to lighten us again for our release from another bar. We got off by and by, and the brother whose lot it was to preach at night, was called upon and service began, the second time for that Sabbath on the boat. The passengers were all very attentive, and the word of the Lord during both times of service seemed to penetrate the hearts of the hearers; whilst our worthy father and brother spoke in the name of the Lord.
His name dispel my guilt and fear,
Revives my heart, and charms my ear;
Affords a balm for every wound,
And Satan trembles at the sound!
The service being ended, all seriously composed themselves for rest. We got on pretty well
that night, and next day, being the seventh out, we made good headway till evening, and then we arrived at Marietta, O., where the boat reshipped what she put off on Sunday. Started from thence on Tuesday morning, the eighth day, as it took all night to loaden, and in a few miles we found ourselves aground again. However, that day we made 12 miles on our journey. By this time, all began to feel it important to be looking out for an opportunity to go on another boat. Brother D remarked "it truly looks discouraging at this period of our journey, and to be no further, but I will not despair yet." The ninth morning we left Parkersburg, Va., and went several miles to Buffington's Island, and here we staid all that day and night, till about sunrise in the morning of the tenth day, when she got off.
It was not more than two miles from this place, till we found ourselves aground again. We then concluded that we had better leave, to which bro. Davis mildly replied "Well, brethren, I am with you, and if the other boat we take don't no any better, it can't do much worse, so we'll try it." It was not long after till a boat heaved in view, and we started on board of her, and on the eleventh day arrived safe in Cincinnati Wit rapture of joy he hastened to the A. M. E. Church on Sixth Street, where he found the brethren in session; as it was about 11 o'clock, A. M., when we arrived there.
With his usual cheerfulness, bro, Davis began to offer his apology for our absence, and soon all was right, so far as our journey was concerned. He passed part of two days in session with the brethren, as the time for adjournment had arrived. From this Conference his appointment was back to Pittsburgh Station. As soon as it was read, he arose and walked to the Secretary and returned with a sigh, said he, "I am going up to Rome to die!" This Conference placed us far apart, and it appeared a great grief to his mind, as I was appointed in Cincinnati. We parted after Conference was over, and we both put up at one lodging during our stay in the time of Conference.
He concluded to visit his parents once more, and as he had to take public conveyance, he expressed a desire of my accompanying him again, but yielded to circumstances. He left for his father's where he remained only a few days, and returned through my Charge from Shelby Co.
He preached for me, and we had a parting conversation on that day, as he determined to leave next morning for his Station. When speaking to him of removing from Pittsburgh to my own field of labor, to this he would not hear; but remarked "Let them stay, and come backward and forward, and rather than you to go away where we will not have an opportunity of enjoying each other's company, I will come down and visit your people, and let you visit mine three or four , only don't move." On
his journey to his father's, as he was running to get in the Cars (being rather late) he fell on a bar or cross rail, which very much affected his side. And the evening we staid together in Cincinnati, he rubbed it, and in the morning he said he felt somewhat relieved of the misery. I again insisted upon his application to medical aid in his case, which he thought might prove advantageous.
His twelfth year's labor, return to Pittsburgh Station, his last discourse before the Ohio Conference, on the death of Rev. H. Adcrison, and our parting scene!
His twelfth year's labor, return to Pittsburgh Station, his last discourse before the Ohio Conference, on the death of Rev. H. Adcrison, and our parting scene!
We parted on Tuesday morning, the 13th of October, after accompanying him to the boat, he again repeated the saying of the Apostle, "I am going up to Rome to die," concluding that his system could not long bear up under the oppressive smoke of that city. I must not pass by the intelligence of his brother's death; at Conference he received the information of the decease of his brother Alfred, which had taken place some short time previous. He appeared to be very much affected and said, "is it possible that brother Alfred is gone before me!" While preaching the funeral sermon of the Rev. Henry Aderison, on that occasion he appeared
to look with great delight to the Christian's victory over death and the grave. In his discourse on the gain of a Christian, "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain."
His soul appeared filled with rapture at the thought, "that the Christian should triumph over the power of death and the grave!" And in his remarks he thus spoke, "Death thou hast killed our fathers, our mothers; thou hast killed our brothers, sisters, and wives; thou hast killed our children and friends, but, O glory to our conquering Savior! from thy power and domin- He shall set us entirely free! and we shall meet those who die in Christ, where thy power will never be feared, and pain and anguish shall flee away." He spoke of his own decease, and assured us all "that if he should be the next who fell in death, in glory they would see him on that joyful day! and with the blood-washed and ransomed throng they would spend an eternity of bliss! in gazing on the Jasper walls, drinking from the pearly streams! plucking the roses of paradise, and fluteing their golden pinions round the eternal throne of God and the Lamb forever!" This was his last discourse before the Conference truly, and he was months previous to the ensuing annual meeting, sleeping that long last sleep of death!
It has been observed that we were separated this year hundreds of miles, and after a few days we had to part, and it was like Jonathan and David, although only intended for a few weeks,
yet the thought of our being so far apart, was afflicting. Through the mercy of God, however, it was but a short time till we were again together, and that to make the final separation on earth to meet no more till at the judgment seat of Christ! The removal of the family was very heart-rending, he observed to him, as he would willingly serve my people three or four weeks, and let me remain with my family for that period, rather than for me to take them away; but calmly agreed to what might be considered to our interest. This is a spirit which all Ministers should be possessed of, to seek his brother's good as his own, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
It may be here inquired to know why the proposal was not agreed to, if there were such friendship? We freely answer, as was admitted by our beloved brother; the severity of the winter might have obstructed our passage, and if he was caught away from home, it might conflict with the entire arrangements of the Conference appointment for some months; hence we could but say, "the will of the Lord be done."
After every assurance of Christian friendship, and the pledge for the continuance of that tie which several years of close acquaintance had knit, and the oneness of spirit that we possessed cemented, we spent the leisure hours of both day and night in each other's company; during which period, he conversed as he had repeatedly, on the subject of the different new organization of societies which was then about commencing
He was open and unreserved in all things, and spoke freely the sentiments of his soul; and he gave it as his candid opinion, as has been observed, and his words was, "I never wish to live to see the day when it will be the case, and the Lord have mercy upon our people when it comes." The last night at length arrived, for us to enjoy each other's company; and we set together till 1 o'clock, after which we parted to meet the next morning.
Early on this morning, being the 28th of November, he called again and spent a few moments with us on this memorable day! We say memorable, because it was a parting for eternity! and cannot soon be forgotten though years may roll away, and seasons change, the scenes of that day is yet fresh in our mind. He withdrew with the understanding to rejoin us again before we left. Accordingly he did, and in a manner expressed more by actions than words, he bid us all farewell; he pressed my hand with the words "the Lord go with you," and scarce another word passed in the parting scene! as all was equally affected! all felt the deep pangs of sorrow in parting from one so much esteemed! This parting was not anticipated by me the last; but since have thought our beloved brother was of that opinion, which truly was; and the hand we then shook was for the last indeed,
Till in that holy, happy land,
We'll strike anew the immortal hand.
It has been stated to us, and was remarked by
his congregation, that his whole soul, mind, and spirit appeared given up to the work of preaching Christ and him crucified; and on some occasions he said, when difficulties appeared, "if you don't intend to do right, brethren, you can do as you think best? but Davis is going to look out for himself, and try to make his everlasting escape."
We have previously stated that we had an interview with our brother upon the subject of oath bound Societies, on the last of November, and then his opinion was stated. We now have his letter of February, just seven weeks before his death, and we feel assured that he spoke as candid on this subject, apparently, to our mind, as ever we heard him on any subject.
Brother Davis after reading it, wrote the following encouraging letter:
Pittsburgh, Feb. 5th, 1846.
Dear Brother:--I take this opportunity to let you know how we are, and the friends of old Pittsburgh. My family is well at present, and all the friends in general are well. As this leaves me, I hope it may find you enjoying the same good blessing, and family. I have been waiting to get something of importance, but have nothing. I find that you will fight against error and vice of every kind, fight on with unyielding effort, and the Lord will defend truth and rebuke error! I have not been well this winter, therefore I have not exerted myself very much. We have nothing of an extraordinary character, J.
M., has got religion; happy in the love of God! There are some yet who appear to be seeking religion. Brother G. C. is going on strong. Amen.
His last illness and death, with some remarks from the Rev. S. Johnson, on his peaceful and happy end.
His last illness and death, with some remarks from the Rev. S. Johnson, on his peaceful and happy end.
We have now arrived at the close of his life! and shall have a few things to notice in the last few weeks thereof. From years we have come down to months, and now we have got to weeks, and soon we shall have days, hours, and moments, when eternity begins! A few weeks before his decease, he appeared to enforce the doctrine of salvation, and insisted on his congregation walking worthy of the high vocation whereunto they were called. He had not visited his congregation as it was the custom for him to do, but a few days before he was taken down, he started out and went round and visited a large number of his members; informing them "that he was most gone, and he felt that he must soon put off this tabernacle!" Many of them tho't different from him, and requested him not to say so, as they hoped better things; he observed 'you wont believe, but you will find some of these days, I will go like a shooting star, and leave you all below."
He still strove to refrain from communicating to his companion his expectation of a speedy exit. As he had often stated that he knew it would be distressing enough, when it could not be concealed any longer, to tell her.
So visible were the signs of the disease preying upon him, that his companion, as she informed us, considered it very important to his welfare, to make application to his physician. But he thought it would not avail much, for he considered whenever he was taken off his feet, he would be out of the power of any earthly physician to raise him up, hence he did not fully comply. This might appear, to some, a great error in our brother; for they might suppose, that had the proper medical aid been applied in time, he might have stood it for several years, and his family enjoyed the benefit and blessing of a kind provider and a loving parent. But it will be remembered that his mind led him to that, and he was established in the opinion that whenever he went, he would have a quick voyage over Jordan!
He still applied his mind to study, and found himself getting weaker and weaker. The week passed away, and on Sabbath he filled his place in the sanctuary, and gave his congregation a happy discourse.
And as he found his strength failing he preached but once on that Sabbath; but gave a warm exhortation after the Preacher who filled the next appointment.
This brings us to within thirteen days of his death. This week he passed through, and very little change was evinced to the eye, but doubtless, he felt more than could be seen, for it was observed that he did not stir so much about as he had formerly done.
Sunday morning came, and he got ready for its services, and went to the house of the Lord. The morning appointment was on the hill, and to it he wended his way. He entered the pulpit and after a short address to the throne of grace in secret, he engaged in the service of the public worship of God.
After singing and prayer, he announced his text, which was Rev. Chap. 2, v. 17. "To him that overcometh, will I give to each the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."
It was with unusual solemnity that he spoke on the occasion. He encouraged his congregation, by the glorious reward which was held out in the gospel to those who overcome, to never think of yielding; and observed "that he felt like soon conquering! His fight was most done; the conflict was nigh over, and he would soon go up to gaze on the roses of Paradise, to view the jasper walls, and step from star to star in the new Jerusalem!" It appeared that he was so overpowered during the service, that he could not contain himself, but gave vent to his feelings by a flood of tears of joy, surpassing all that had
ever been witnessed by any of his hearers! And in conclusion, he remarked, "that if he never more stood before them! and they no more heard his voice, to remember that he had overcome." And what claimed more than usual notice, after the sermon was over, he still continued to weep as though the vessel was ready to break.
He returned home, and was insisted on to remain there, as the people knew he was feeble; but he thought he was able to go out again, and went. He gave an exhortation on that occasion, and exerted himself in his weakness beyond what any one could have thought he could stand, but
"The nearer still he draws to land,
More nobler all his powers expand."
This; it will be remembered, was six days before his decease! The day passed away and he returned to his dwelling, and repared to rest; quite weak and feeble. His companion observed to him "that she thought he was doing himself a great injury, he had better not labor so hard, and take some medicine that would help him; even if he did not wish to go immediately under the Doctor to take prescriptions."
He at length, told her that he thought he would if spared to see the next day; this afforded some relief to her troubled mind! The morning came, and after breakfast, the friends in passing, called to see how he was, he set up and conversed cheerfully, and appeared as well as usual, only somewhat weaker; and this was considered a reasonable state from the excessive labors of the
past Sabbath. He passed the day, however, and one time he said to his companion "I feel unusually weak."
It was then very visible that he was laboring under a severe sinking spell of the last stage of Consumption. She helped him to the bed, and he rested awhile in that position; and then got up and walked about as usual.
Tuesday morning he arose as usual, and prepared to walk down in the city. He went, and after a short stay, returned and set down, commenced conversing freely with brother Lewis who had called to see how he was. And while setting composed and in a state of calmness, a neighbor came in, and in a stentorious voice informed him that a difficulty had occurred which would cause him some trouble, and he might prepare himself for it. The brother who was conversing with him, stated that the matter was not of any great magnitude, and that the persons interested, would be sufficient to make their own arrangements. But this sudden and exciting intelligence, in the way it was presented, went through him like an electric shock, and appeared to paralyze all his powers! And it was stated to us by brother Lewis, that it changed him in a few moments, as much as several day's sickness.
It may be a matter of inqiury to the reader to learn what was the great storm of which he was warned, and urged to such a great preparation to meet the contest. We will give it in a few words. The circumstance was, that his companion
and one of the neighbors occupying the same yard had some difference about the children, and some words passed between the two women; finally the other sister felt herself aggrieved, and requested her husband to have her (sister Davis) indicted for something said. This request was complied with, as was stated by the friend in his remarks to brother Davis, as has been observed, and that was the great storm!
How careful persons should be in communicating to diseased persons, things which at other times would not affect them at all will prove fatal to a shattered constitution. And even had there been any thing said that injured the feelings, how easily could it have been rectified by the parties, without the least occasion of such a course being pursued? But we will leave this event, and pass on to the powerful effect the intelligence had upon him! It has been observed that bro. L. strove to dispel it by conversing with him; but the excitement of his mind from this intelligence had gained the ascendancy over his physical powers. The surprise was too great! the alarm too sudden! He sat motionless for a while, and then sank from his chair, without the power to move! He was raised up laid in bed, and after sometime he revived again. From this he kept his bed, only a few moments at times was he able to set up. And during this day he suffered greatly with pain. His physician was called in, and soon decided the case a hopeless one. He was visited by the brethren
on the ensuing day, and he told them that "his work was done, he would not last long!" They strove to build him up with a hope of recovery, but he declared his own feeling assured him that he was almost home!
The excitement of the report which had such a deleterious effect, had now become allayed, and he assumed his usual calmness of mind. He then conversed freely about his approaching dissolution to his wife and all! and requested them to prepare for it. On Thursday before his decease, he called his companion to his bed, and told her "to prepare her mind, by looking to the blessed Savior for grace for what would soon take place! That he would soon be called away from her, and that none would be able to sustain and support her but Jesus." She replied she would do so by the grace of God! "You will then trust in the Lord, and you believe that he will take care of you and the children!" "O yes," said she, "I do, and I will trust in him!" Then said he "that is enough; all is right!" He said no more on the subject to her, as he had committed her to the widow's God, and the orphan's protector! His sky appeared calm now as the summer's eve, and he was waiting for his change!
None anticipated the hour of his departure was so high! but hoped he would revive again, and spend some months more at least with them, but these lines were being accomplished in him,
Shrinking from the cold hand of death,
I soon shall gather up my feet;
Shall soon resign this fleeting breath,
And die--my father's God to meet!
Friday, all day, was one of quietness, he laid tranquil, and very much composed, only conversing when spoken to. His appearance assuming more and more the likeness of one whose steps were almost numbered!
Saturday found him in much the same state, rather more drowsy, and disposed to sleep, which was overcome at times when the brethren would call and converse with him. He appeared fully confident in the change soon taking place, and at times when they would speak of his recovery, he would answer "on the other side of Jordan I will enjoy perfect health." The time rolled on and he continued to be drowsy till evening, when he aroused up and appeared restless, and continned wakeful all the night, yet perfectly at himself.
After the turn of the night, he appeared to sink very rapidly till daylight, and early Sunday morning the signs of death was so visible that all could perceive the hour at hand! His voice began to fail, and his speech was low and much depressed, his breathing became hard, and a suffocation occasionally ensued.
The Rev. Samuel Johnson who attended him daily during his illness, came into his room on that morning at an early hour, and he appeared cheerful in the swelling of Jordan,
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid,
And guide me through the dreadful shade!
Sunday morning he appeared very cheerful though weak, and was conversed with on his latter end, and when on the verge of Jordan he could smile on being informed that his labor would soon be ended. Bros. A. D. Lewis, Johnson, and Hawkins, all had devoted their time to his service during his last illness, waited to see his departure! and after a few minutes' stillness, there appeared to be a suffocation, and then a calm breathing, and about 8½ o'clock, on the 28th day of March, 1847, while his family and friends surrounded his bed, died DANDRIDGE FAYETTE DAVIS, aged 37 years, a zealous Minister of Jesus Christ, and a faithful laborer in the vineyard of the Lord!
The testimony of brother Johnson will be interesting at this point, we therefore give it, as he was, as has been observed, a constant attender on our brother.
Pittsburgh June 12th, 1849.
Dear Brother:--From your request to state any facts that I am in possession of respecting the illsness, death, and last testimony of our beloved brother D. FAYETTE DAVIS. I am happy to have the honor to do so. I was with him every day from the time he was taken sick, until he departed from time. He was confined to his bed about one week, and truly bore his sickness with much patience! Indeed I frequently conversed with him on the subject of leaving time and entering on eternity! he rejoiced at the thought! He informed me that "he had
examined himself closely, and felt that he strove to serve the Lord with a perfect heart, and he was not afraid to die;" and said "he felt fully resigned to the voice of God, and if the Lord saw fit to take him, he would go to heaven like a shooting star! There was nothing that interrupted his happiness at all." It was truly consoling, to hear our dear brother talk about going to glory! he'said he loved the Lord to the end! and loved his family also. Death did not destroy the love he had for his family. "if his wife and children were in the State of Ohio among his friends he would like it; but he felt willing to leave the event to the Lord."
The morning he died, I observed to him that I discovered the time he had to live was most out; he looked up in my face and smiled. I said to him, brother Davis you will soon be in that blessed city you so often told us about in preaching. He cried out "glory to God!" after this our conversation ceased, and in about 10 or 15 minutes he lost his speech. Brother Davis fell asleep in Christ, that morning between 8 and 9 o'clock.
I remain yours in Christ,
On that Sabbath morning quite a number of his congregation was expecting to hail their Preacher at the Church, but to their great surprise, they were met with the intelligence of his death! His remains was followed to the Church, and the funeral discourse preached by the Rev. George Boler, and from thence conveyed to the M. E. Church Cemetery on the hill, and deposited
in a lot of Mr. Richards, and left a wife and four small children to mourn the loss.
The youngest child called for his father, and only survived him a few months; and about 13 months after, his wife, sister Elizabeth Davis, was taken down of the same disease, and lingered on till the ensuing February, during which time she obtained the blessing of perfect love! She was after that a flame of devotion and thanksgiving to God for all things!
It was our lot to visit her during her illness, and although three dear little promising children surrounded her bed, and looked up to her as their only protector in life, yet she could say "the Lord has taken the weight of my children entirely off me! I have not only committed myself but my offsprings to the Lord; and He has promised to take care of us." No murmuring voice proceeded from her lips, but amidst the most extreme bodily suffering she was calm and serene!
Before Christmas she desired to see her children, Mrs. Green and her little daughter at her bedside; we will here remark, that at this stage of her illness, the two youngest, Sarah J., a fine little girl of about 6 years of age, and Charles Hanson, a little boy of 4 years, were taken to their homes; at brother J. P.'s was the little girl, and at Mrs. W.'s the little boy, while George the eldest boy, staid with his mother. And accordingly her request was granted, and on the day they all met, and she had the gratification of mind
of seeing them all together once more on that day, When the time drew nigh for them to return to their homes, one of the children appeared to weep, and wished to remain, and this gave our sister much pain. She expressed herself the next day in deep regret for doing so, and said 'I think it was the enemy that tempted me to this to mar my peace," however it was but a short time till the cloud dispersed, and "the sun of righteousness arose with healing in his wings."
She remained in perfect peace from that until her last moments; on the day before she died, she appeared to be entirely gone, whilst a number of friends surrounded her bed; but after a-while she revived again, and she spoke as though she was well, requested us all "to meet her in glory! she was going and would soon be there! Praise the Lord! do praise Him! how precious is his name."
We commenced to sing
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand."
when we arrived at the fourth stanzas,
"All o'er those wide extended plains,"
her voice was so strong that it astonished us, and after prayer she laid perfectly composed. That night she was very restless, but the next day she was much composed and appeared to sleep sound; three hours before her death, she again praised the Lord aloud and bid all farewell! and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon she died in a heavenly calm. This ended the days of ELIZABETH DAVIS, wife of D. F. DAVIS, aged 32 years, and
requested her funeral sermon to be preached from 2 Cor. 4 Chap. 17 v. "For our light affiictions which are but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Her body was followed to its last resting place by a number of Christian friends, and buried in the same grave with her husband and child, by her request, the coffins of whom had not yet begun to decay. SARAH JANE, survived her mother about six months, and she took ill and died in a few days, aged 8 years. Thus we end with this interesting family.
As to the day or year precisely of brother CONYOU'S birth, is out of our power to state. He was born in Loudon Co., Va., in 1791, and was a subject of oppression, although his master was his father. His mother at an early period of his life embraced religion, and lived and died in the M. E. Church, a believer in Christ, and such was her godly admonitions to her son David, that ere he had arrived to manhood, he set out to seek the salvation of his soul! which salvation he found when about seventeen years of age. He was of a lively turn and disposition, and he soon found that the tempter would take great advantage of his levity; and he determined "to lay aside every weight, and the sin that did so easily beset him." But as soon as he attempted to do so, a new trial he met; one of his formdt associates met him, and said "well Dav I hear you have got religion, and I will now give you a flogging to prove your religion." This was a hard trial to the young disciple; not fully prepared to take the advice of the Savior,
"When they smite you on the one cheek, turn the other." However, he was attacked, and he strove to beg off, telling the young man that he desired nothing but peace, and therefore it would be great satisfaction to him to be in friendship with all men. All failed, and he was very roughly assaulted by the young man; he defended himself, and often spoke of the occurrence with regret, even till of late years.
He was destitute of any literary abilities, but he soon felt his soul drawn out after poor sinners, and commenced leading prayer meetings among his slave brethren. He was an instrument in the hands of God of turning over many poor wanderers to the fold of Christ! As he growed in days he growed in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. From prayer meetings he went on to exhorting, and in this he continued for a number of years. He found a great help in his Christian experience, by the council of his loving Christian mother, till in the providence of God she was removed from the society of men to the society of angels! None can tell the good that may result from the religious example of praying mothers for their children. It is in their power to make good or bad impresions upon the young mind of their offsprings, and in that period of life which will never be forgotten. The fruit of a mother's tears and prayers will not only be felt and remembered in time, but happy thousands will rejoice in eternity, through the instrumentality of an affectionate
mother! And what raptures of joy will it afford to each to meet in that heavenly world where they can enjoy forever the society of those they love.
We shall be under the necessity of passing over the early history of our brother in a very concise manner. The time of his marriage we cannot state, but he married a young woman, and they lived together till death separated them. His wife was a free women, which afforded him great comfort, and she too was a professor of religion, and died after several year's union, and left a husband and one daughter to mourn her demise.
He was about 40 years of age when he undertook to purchase his time from those who claimed him, and after paying the sum required, advantages was about to be taken of him; and his friends advised him to go out of the way, and if the (so-called) owner attempted to interfere with him, they would see to his rights.
He came away from Virginia in 1831, and settled in Brownsville, Pa., where he united with the M. E. Church, and remained in the capacity of a Class Leader and Exhorter. During which period he again concluded to chose a help-meet, and becoming acquainted with a young sister, Miss Cassinda Terrel, he determined to marry, and on the ---- day of ---- 1832, he associated his interests with the aforenamed lady, of strict piety and of good Christian character. They were favored with one
child, who he named after himself; and they lived together till the voice of his Master called him away!
The good effects of his religious example in Brownsville, &c.
The good effects of his religious example in Brownsville, &c.
When father Conyou came to Brownsville he found very few of the followers of the Savior, as the people were rather disposed to enjoy the pleasure of sin. But through his instrumentality, many were influenced to give the ways of sin and folly, and in a few years he had a good little band to unite with him in the work, till he was convinced of the propriety of uniting with the A. M. E. Church, which conclusion he carried out in 1836, during the labors of the Rev. S. G. Clingman, on this Circuit, and retained his fellowship therein. Bro. Conyou was always ready to give an answer of the hope of glory that he possessed, and on all occasions striving to advance the interests of Christianity.
His association with the Society in Brownsville was attended with the best of consequences, and many, both old and young, will rejoice in eternity, from the effect of his labors. He was appointed Class Leader, and such was the friendship created toward him, that he remained in this situation until he felt his mind influenced to 'go
out in the hedges and high ways and call sinners to repentance.'
It is true that some thought bro. Conyou's ways rash, for whatever he saw wrong, he would speak of it at the time, whether it was acceptable or not. It was in 1840 that he embarked in the cause, and soon he found the door opened for a more extensive field of religious operation. The success of this enterprise, was in his hands to a great degree, for although God can work without means in building up his Church, yet hath He chosen faithful men in all ages to publish His will, and carry out his bright design!
It has been observed, that the prosperity of the infant Church depended much upon his integrity, and to this he kept a special eye, and by a deportment that was worthy of imitation, he invited his former friends to go with him, and thereby built up a strong society. Many who could not be influenced before to go to Church while the brethren remained with the M. E. Church in that place, soon were found in the sanctuary of the Lord, and their hearts were cut to the quick by that word which "searches the heart and triest the reins, and is a discerner of the thoughts of the children of men," and forsaking their former habits, joined in with the people of God, and thus the work has been onward!
The blessing of this great change was not only advantageous to the people of that place spiritually but temporally also, and caused an entire and radical change. By them becoming religious,
they abandoned the pursuits of former days, called innocent amusement or pleasure; and their hard earnings were appropriated to the glory of God; the happiness of their families, and welfare of their brethren.
And the condition of the people of this place now compared with the former, is a living testimony of the validity of Christianity to better the condition of the whole human family were its doctrines are taught, and its precepts obeyed!
At this point we will only adduce the testimony of one of the brethren on this subject, when reviewing the past, he exclaimed "if our people had only been instructed and enlightened in this place and come together twenty years ago, it would have saved thousands of dollars to carry on the great work of the gospel, and we would have been hundreds of dollars better off in this life, and further advanced toward the kingdom." It is a fact that misspent time will be lamented, if not in this life, most assuredly in that to come.
"Then let us mourn our follies here,
And seek a Savior's love!
His precious grace to share,
And sing his praise above!
Like the grain of mustard, though but small, it now has become a great tree, and many can sit under their own vine and fig tree, were none dare molest; and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And through all the conflicts of the Church from
its organization till the period of his more extensive labor in the cause of the itinerancy, was his whole soul engaged for the prosperity of the Church, and retained the most explicit confidence of his class as a Leader, and the congregation as a Preacher.
This we consider a great recommendation for any Preacher to have; for if he is destitute of a good character at home, and casts himself upon strangers to obtain it, there is great danger of betraying himself and throwing off the fig-leaf covering which he may strive to sew while a stranger, and if per chance, he should succeed in his calculations, perhaps at some point of his new home he may find in his congregation, some of those very persons from whose face he has fled, and here of course, will be a discomfiting affair. And may it not be expected that the whole character of the man will soon be fully developed?
And while the Savior says, "A Prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house." Yet it does not convey the doctrine that a Prophet shall live or act so as to be without, on account of bad conduct; but to the contrary. And after an exemplary life of devotedness to God; and his candle put on a candle stick; having done all the good he possibly could for the salvation of those around him, will find that another will come and do but little, and will receive more honor than he has for many year's labor; nevertheless Preachers must live worthy of honor both at home and abroad, if
they wish to do the work of an evangelist; this was the desire of our brother, and he carried out during his sojourn among his people in this place.
Brother Conyou was very conscientious, and what he believed to be right he stood to it, so on the other hand; there was no compromising with him if wrong, his motto was "abandon it at once." Oft-times when in the affairs of the Church, he was found to stand alone, but experience hath proved in many instances, to those opposed at that time, that his course was right.
He used to delight in singing these lines
"Then will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Savior I have found;
I'll point to my redeeming blood,
And say behold the way to God!"
And it is not always the case that good men are spared to reap the fruit of their labor in this life, but they sow, suffer, and contend for right, and die without the sight of its completion; yet others will reap the fruit; the testimony will be given in their favor; and they, though dead, yet speaketh; and through the boundless space of untried being, they will have cause to rejoice at having done right, though many opposed them! "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind," and that Preacher or Leader who will go with the multitude, because they are strong in numbers, will eventually destroy himself and the people committed to his care. Love, power, and soundness
of mind must all centre in a servant commissioned and sent forth an ambassador for Christ, no one of these qualities must be lacken, or it disqualifies the whole man for one of the greatest mission ever committed to men or angels!
He was to the very letter "careful to entertain strangers," and under his roof was always a place, and at his table a seat for them. Neither was he particular of number when occasion required, he was ready to divide his morsel to as many as his house could hold, and never appeared happier than when making and seeing other's happy. He therefore was kind and benevolent at home, and his heart was always open to the wants of his brethren.
Our first acquaintance, and his labors while a local Preacher, &c.
Our first acquaintance, and his labors while a local Preacher, &c.
It was our good fartune to fall in with a companion, though old, yet possessed of all the qualities to make his company agreeable to the most youthful mind that desired to love the Lord. And from the first day of our acquaintance till the time of his departure, was there a particular intimacy existing, yea, one which time did not destroy, nor death devour.
In 1841 we first became acquainted, after our first round on the Uniontown Circuit, as it was
then called; and during this year he travelled considerably through the Circuit, for as much, sometimes, as a week, he would be out inviting sinners to return. And not only did he consent to go when the appointments was near home, and weather favorable, but when at the most remote part of the Circuit, and in sections of country where we had no society; he was ever willing to go and cast in his mite in building up the kingdom of Christ.
And his labors was attended with good to the hearers, not only in building up believers, but his tenderness exhibited for the salvation of sinners, proved effectual to make up what he lacked in word while preaching.
He was a good instructor of the youth, and by a long service in the cause of his Master, he was well calculated to do so; and he would often observe "that it was his soul's delight to be in conversation with the young disciples of Christ, as he had been brought through so many dangers, and the Lord had never forsaken him, and felt to recommend the same Protector to all he had intercourse with.
He still remained in a local capacity this year, and near the close thereof, he concluded to go to the Annual Conference, which was held in Cincinnati, O., on the 11th of September, and determined also if his services was needed, he would give himself up wholly to the work. The time drew near, and accordingly he was as good as his promise. We started a horseback to travel
the journey, and the poet well describes our position, when it says
"We have a tedious journey,
'Tis tiresome, 'tis true!
But see how many dangers the Lord has bro't us through."
For notwithstanding the fatigue of the journeying to wear our spirits down, we were met, when about two hundred miles from home, with the sad intelligence of the most destructive mob upon the colored people of this city that had ever been known! This intelligence first met us at Columbus, but he hoped it was not a true report; and on Monday morning we started from this place for Springfield, where the report was confirmed; and the advice of a number of friends to us was, "to go no further;" but the bounds were set, and he felt to march up to them through the assistance of Him who has called upon his soldiers to go out into the vineyard. The next morning brother Conyou was up and fixing to renew his efforts for the place of destination and to prosecute his journey to meet with his suffering brethren! After a few hour's ride he arrived at Xenia, where he met with a number of the brethren, who were consulting upon the propriety of sending word to Bishop Brown to return to this place and hold the Conference, as the Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in that Station, informed them that their house would be freely given, and their aid to sustain the Conference.
Brother Conyou listened to the proposal, and
then observed "we are called by legal authority to meet at Cincinnati, and whilst I thank our good brethren for their kindness and sympathy, yet for one, I am not only willing but ready to go to the place appointed, and by the grace of God attend to our business there."
The brethren agreed, as by this time we were about twelve or fourteen in number; and the next morning started for Conference, travelled through to Dayton and Springboro. He, during our discouraging journey, cheered the brethren, and always appeared willing to trust his cause in the hands of his heavenly Father, who he said "had never yet forsaken him, when he approached Him with confidence. 'Even your hairs are numbered.' "
When entering the city, and all appeared quiet; brother Conyou remarked, "How Satan would have triumphed, if he could have frightened all these Ministers from their duty!"
His soul was in the work, and he only desired the approval of the Conference, but by his not applying in time to the Elder in Charge, he did not receive the certificate to join the travelling Connexion.
After Conference he returned home, and faithfully discharged the duties of a local Preacher, both far and near he went, as his means would admit of; and often he made great sacrifices in going out to preach the gospel. In this capacity he remained and devoted his services to the Church in regularly attending his class as leader,
and preaching for them both in this and the neighboring towns of Brownsville.
His joining the itinerancy, his appointment.
His joining the itinerancy, his appointment.
Having made up his mind to give himself to the work of a travelling Preacher once more, he regulated his affairs at home and started for Conference, which which was at Cincinnati this year again.
He went up with the spirit of a faithful servant of the Lord. Not disposed to make a choice of the most pleasant fields for his labor, but to go to whatever appointment he was sent. And remarked that "if the Lord is with us, we can stand it for one or two years in any place?" That such was the spirit our Lord required as a prerequisite to the sending of His disciples is obvious, for he says "I have not called you to peace, but to great sorrow; not to ease, but to great labor, that thereby ye may bring forth much fruit."
He was received and appointed to the Allegheny. Mission, where he had extensive labor and great suffering to endure; and received it with calmness and submission, remarking "it may be a hard field to labor in, but in the strength of the Lord I will go at it." Amidst the greatest discouragements and suffering, his mind was
at ease, and he was found pressing on in the performance of his duty.
The Mission was extensive, and widely scattered was his flock; but at the time appointed he was expected, and they were not disappointed. When facing the cold blast of the northern storm, his old and tottering frame would sometimes almost be chilled to death, but when the time arrived for his next appointment, he would start and face the storm. His first year was attended with considerable success, and his godly walk had endeared him to his people
During this year, we often had the pleasure of each other's company, and on one occasion, we travelled, by request, all through his Mission, and found it in a flourishing condition. From the fact of it being a new field, and the people scattered wide, he had to labor under heavy difficulties. And the great reason why the people were so sparsely settled through this country was, because there were no society regularly established of our people.
During our tour in the summer of 1846 with him, he labored at every appointment, viz: Bridge-water, New Castle, Mercer, Meadville and Erie, what was lacking of literary qualifications to make him a good shepherd, he certainly possessed it in his affectionate manner of address, when persuading the people in the name of his Master. It was at a time when a great excitement was afloat about the propriety of separate churches or colored organizations.
When one of the Ministers who opposed his organizing a society in Erie, approached him on the subject, and desired to show him the error, brother Conyou heard him out, and calmly remarked "As we are already organized, and have a great many thousand members, if there is no use of two organizations, you had better come in with us, for we have tried our friends and they have forced us to organize, now it is nothing more than right for those who have the true spirit, to try us and see if we don't do better, and treat them more honorable." This set the brother at rest, and our father had no more counsel from that source of this kind.
How his soul panted for learning, and though an old man, yet he was a diligent student of the word of God. He used the holy Scriptures for his companion while on his Mission, and complied with the letter of the Discipline, "Never to be triflingly employed, nor trifle at any time; nor spend more time than is strictly necessary at any place."
"No room for mirth or trifling here,
Nor wordly hope, or worldly fear,
If life so soon is gone!"
He was one of the number who we have noticed as being detained from Conference in the preceding pages.
From the Conference in Cincinnati, being the second time we had travelled there in company, he was appointed the second year to this field of severe labor! and received it with cheerfulness
and took his seat. When interrogated on the subject, he said "I am in the hands of God, and He will take care of me."
He returned to his field of labor with the best wishes of his people, and commenced his second year's labor; and with the zeal of a young man did this aged father enter upon the duties of a Christian Minister.
"And all my consecrated powers,
Thine, wholly thine, shall be!"
It is not a matter of small moment to engage in a Missionary field, especially an elderly man, and ere this year had rolled away, he sunk under the burden thereof. In the cold and dreary winter of '47, did the Northern winds so wonderfully affect him, that after travelling all day, when he arrived at the place of destination, was so benumbed that he could not dismount from his horse.
The friends administered to his comfort, but all in vain! He however, pursued his journey around the Mission, and then found himself called on to go home and die! His illness was of about six weeks duration, and he suffered extremely, yet with patience and resignation would adopt these lines
"My suffering time will soon be o'er,
Then I shall sigh and weep no more!"
He returned home about the middle of March, and took his bed from the cold he caught during this severe winter; and before the return of Spring, he was gathered to his fathers!
In a state of humble submission to his heavenly
Father, he waited until his change come; awhile previous to his death, he invited his wife, little son David, and surrounding friends to his bedside and committed them to the protection of the Lord; and assured them "that he was ready, willing, and waiting for the summons of death! that his trust was in the Lord, and he had nothing to fear." He bid them "farewell," and fell asleep in the arms of his Redeemer, without a sigh or groan.
Thus ended the days of the Rev. DAVID CONYOU, in Brownsville, Pa., on the 30th of April, 1847, aged 65 years, after 49 year's service in the cause of the Lord, and his remains was followed the next day, to its silent tomb, by a number of friends, much lamented by all! "Mark the perfect, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
TEXT.--Numb. 23d Chap. 16th v. "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
DEAR BRETHREN and fellow-laborers in the patience and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ: We are called upon to memorize two of our fellow soldiers, two who have lived with us, and in this cause have we stood side by side, and enjoyed the pleasures and sorrows, as well as the troubles and afflictions of an itinerant life together! But they are gone, quit the field at the summons of their Master, and have gone to their reward! And whilst we look around and behold the several breaches which has been made in our ministerial ranks this year, it is with emotions of joy and grief that your unworthy servant shall attempt to address you.
We can but say that joyful emotions swells our heart, when we remember that our beloved brethren have left this sin-distempered world, to breathe in the pure air of heaven! And sorrow swells our breast and causes our eyes to flow, when we consider the flattering pospects which we entertained of the abundant good that the Church might realize from the labors of those energetic servants of Christ. From these considerations, as of others which present
themselves to my view, I must confess that the duty of this present hour, rests upon your unworthy servant with a preponderance, and unless sided by the Holy Spirit, shall fail to give satisfaction on this solemn and momentous occasion.
O that the Lord may grant the blessed influence of his Spirit to so atrengthen and enlighten the mind of his servant that His great name may be glorified, and his people edified, and sinners brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
The author of our text was a Prophet, the son of Beor, lived in the city of Pethor, upon the Euphrates. As to the character of this Prophet, a variety of opinions exist, some supposing that he was no more than a magician; others hold that he was a worshipper of the true God. Be that as it may, he is called a Prophet by the Apostle. 2 Pet. 2 c. 15 v.
The occasion out of which these words appear to have grown was, the King of the Moabites became much alarmed at the number of the children of Israel, and formed a notion that if he could get the Prophet to curse them, lest they should overpower them, and take possession of the land. The reward was great, and the Prophet was, no doubt willing to receive it; but after all his efforts, even to the crushing of his foot, in attempting to force the ass, by the angel of the Lord, he makes several efforts to gratify Balak, and all unavailing. He breaks out in words thus "How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied. For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him, lo the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned, among them. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and
the number of the fourth part of Israel. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
Whatever was the design of the Prophet, he at this time spoke the language of candor; and whether lived the righteous or not, doubtless, he desired to die their death.
Our business shall be then, 1st, To notice that death is the certain lot of all. 2d, What is implied in the word righteous.
In the 2d place, we shall strive to show the death of the righteous.
1st, A peaceful Death. 2d, A joyful Death. 3d, A hopeful Death. 4th, A triumphant and victorious Death. 5th, and lastly, The end of the righteous.
In our elucidation of the portion of the Holy Scriptures under consideration, I shall use all the brevity that the nature of the case will admit of, and in a concise manner take up the several items of my discourse.
1st, Death the certain lot of all men. The sentence which fell from the lips of the Lord in the garden of Eden, "Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return;" this truth is accomplished in all Adam's progeny, with very few exceptions; as in the case of Enoch and Elijah, who were taken out of the world by the mighty power of God, to encourage the servats of the Lord, to endure hardness, and serve their Master in a crooked and perverse generation, with the blessed assurance of a better world! Patriarchs, Prophets, and Kings all combine in testifying to the frailty of man. Abraham said "I am but dust and ashes." Gen. chap. 18, v. 27. And again, "Man that is born of a woman, is of few days, and
full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not." Job 14c. 1, 2v. "When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return." Job 16c. 22v.
The Prophet says "All flesh is grass, and the glory of man as the flowers of grass." Isa. 4c. 6v. This truth is so visible demonstrated, my beloved hearers, that we cannot turn our eyes but what we see the effects of mortality displayed. None so high as to escape! none so low as to be forgotten! none so bold or mighty as to withstand the arrows of death! or none so small or pitiable as to cause him to turn aside the fatal blow! From the aged sire to the helpless infant, all in the appointed time are subject to the dread command and summons thereof! Such being the case, may the Lord aid us in making preparation for that solemn hour!
"Infinite joy or endless woe,
Depends on every breath;
And yet how unconcerned we go,
Upon the brink of death!"
2nd. The righteous. We shall not consume time to call in question the different kinds of righteous. But righteousness consists in a faithful performance of the duties enjoined upon us, by a righteous and holy Being Noah was found righteous before God, when he built the Ark according to the directions that the Almighty gave him. Gen. 7c. 8v. Jesus said "If any man will hear these sayings of mine and do them, he is like a man that built his house upon a rock; and the floods came and rain descended and beat upon that house but it fell not." Then
we have a very clear view of what is implied in the word righteous.
In a word, to obey God, is to be righteous, obedience in repentance; obedience in believing; obedience in loving and serving the Lord. God grant that we who compose this congregation may, not only in death, but through life, have the approval of the Judge of this righteousness, through Him "who hath loved us, and washed us in his own blood!" I shall proceed on the second part to notice the death of the righteous under their several beads. And
1st, The death of the righteous is a peaceful one. The Psalmist says "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace." Whatever may be the trials of the righteous in their passage through life; howsoever they may be surrounded with poverty and distress, in this ground where sorrow grows; their closing scene is tranquil and comfortable. No corroding fears causes them to shrink back from Jordan; friends may be dear, children clinging to them, and tender companions court their stay. But they give them all up, and with the poet can say
"Give joy, or grief, give ease, or pain,
Take life or friends away;
But let me find them all again,
In that eternal day!"
And although the officer Death comes to the righteous, yet he comes a welcome messenger, having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: "There is no condemnation to them," Rom, 8c. 1v. And although the Christian has to pass through the valley and the shadow of death, they shall have a
cheerful voyage. "For thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff comfort me."
"Waiting to receive thy spirit,
Lo, the Savior stands above;
Shows the purchase of his merit
Reaches out the crown of love,"
Blessed death! peace with God! peace with men! and in this peace they swiftly pass through the gates of death, nor feel the terrors of the monster as they pass!
2nd. We are to notice the death of the righteous a joyful one. Let me die the death of the righteous! The righteous man in his pilgrimage, has occasion often, to adopt the words of his Master, "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." Lazarus like, they are often poor and afilicted, and are laid at rich men's gates; but when death approaches, a convoy of angels come to the righteous; and, as death unlocks the tenement of clay; he joyful spirit is admitted into the company of angels, and in ecstacy they cry
"Lend, lend, your wings, I mount, I fly,
O grave, where is thy victory,
O death, where is thy sting!"
When Jacob saw the wagons and the provisions sent from his son, though bending over his staff with age, his spirit revived within him, and he said, "It is enough, I will go and see him." So with the righteous, when they are informed by their guide. that the chariot has come for them; they will joyfully go and see that Friend who said "I go to prepare a place for you, and will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there you shall
be also." Glory to God in the highest, that such rich provision hath been made for our death, that we can ride in Christ's chariot up to the city of the heavenly Jerusalem. Yes! blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who has gone before us, and sweetened the grave, took death's sting away from the righteous; and sent the Holy Ghost to animate and cheer the Christian, till he is is permitted to join the sacramental host on the bank of deliverance! Joyful death! God grant it to be ours!
3d. The death of the righteous is a hopeful one. "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not for another." Job 19c. 25, 26, 27v. "The righteous hath hope in his death" Prov. 14c. 32v. Whatever may be the afflictions or poverty of the righteous, in doing the work of the Lord. Whatever the gloom which may obstruct their sky, and cause them to cry out
"Dark nights and clouds, and gloomy fears,
The dragons often roar;
But while the gospel trump we hear,
Will press to Canaan's happy shore."
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who hath loved us. The hope of the righteous is founded on the promises, relations and perfections of God; and on the meritorious offices and intercessions of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is called by the apostle a lively hope, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us
again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Pet. 1c. 3v. Although Jordan lay between the children of Israel and the promised land; yet they had the promise of a safe guard, "an Angel to go before and keep them in the way, and to bring them to the place prepared for them." Ex. 23c. 20v.
The righteous hath a great expectation of getting to another and better world. They have a trusty good friend gone before into the world which death carries them, therefore they hope in God. The Lord Jesus Christ has passed before, opened up the way for the ransomed to return to Zion. A weighty trial they have to undergo, "As it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.' Heb. 9c. 27v. But the righteous have all to hope and nothing to fear.
"Life's duty done, as sinks the clay,
Light from its load the spirit flies;
While heaven and earth combine to say,
'How blest the righteous when he dies" '
The Lord is Judge and King of the land, and He is the Advocate of the righteous, therefore they expect to have a joyful entrance into the kingdom. Parents, husbands, wives and children have passed on before; and the righteous expect to meet them in that heavenly land! Shall this be the case? Yea, the friends of Jesus shall meet.
"There friends shall meet again
Who have loved--who have loved;
Our embraces shall be sweet,
When we each other greet,
At our great Redeemer's feet,
Who have loved--who have loved."
Are the righteous expecting to be free from all pain and affliction, when they die; and will they realize their hope? Hear the answer from heaven, "These are they which come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and they shall hunger no more; neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall lead them unto fountains of living waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Rev. 7c. 14, 15, 16, 17v. O the blessed hope of the righteous,
"My hope is full, O glorious hope,
Surely it is a hopeful hour, when the wife receives the intelligence from a loving husband to come home. But never was there such a faithful and sincere husband as Him who calls the righteous his spouse. Cant. 5c. 1v., and again, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the linen is the righteousness of saints." I think the voice of our Beloved will be so kind, when he calls his righteous servants, that they will be able to say
"Meet for the great reward,
The great reward I know is mine;
Come, O my sweet redeeming Lord,
Open those loving arms of thine,
And take me up thy face to see,
And let me die to live with thee."
With these reflections upon the hope of the righteous in a dying hour, well might the Prophet say, "Let me die the death of the righteous." May the Lord grant it to be ours.
4th. The death of the righteous triumphant and victorious! When contemplating the humiliating scene of death! when we view the body pale, lifeless, and dead; we are caused to wonder if it is possible that a man! a worm of the dust can be called a conqueror in death! And were we left to our own wild and speculative ideas upon the subject; we should sink under the weight, and conclude ourselves lost! But thanks be to our heavenly Father, who hath given us a blessed revelation, and through the resurrection of our blessed Savior, and the testimony of his ancient servants, as well as those of modern days, has dispelled the darkness from our minds, and the righteous are often heard to say,
"I am glad that I am born to die."
Although Enoch and Elijah had the company of God, and Elijah had the testimony that they pleased Him, I fancy that they never achieved so great a victory over the world as in the day when God took them! Often had the Prophet felt the Spirit of the Lord, whilst doing his Master's will, but never was there such a complete and triumphant victory as the day the chariot of fire came down! View him going to Jordan, and with his mantle smote the waters and they give away hither and thither. Behold the righteous walking over on dry ground--and while he talked with Elisha, there appeared "a chariot of fire, and horses of fire and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven!" Earthly monarchs have been escorted in triumph by mortal
men. They have been honored to ride in chariots of brass, of iron, &c., but never was a monarch blessed on this earth with such a triumphant and victorious an escort, as this old servant of the Lord, from dens and caves; from wandering in sheep skins, and sometimes even fleeing from the face of a woman, yet in his exit glorious and triumphant; drawn by the immortal steeds of glory, escorted by the angels of God, to a habitation prepared for the righteous. But my beloved brethren we need not tarry long among the Prophets in describing the death of the righteous triumphant but with the poet we can say
"Hosanna to the Prince of Light,
That clothed himself in clay,
Entered the iron gates of death,
And tore the bands away."
"I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore, Amen! and have the keys of hell and of death." Rev. 1c. 18v. If our King has the keys of hell and death, what is there to prevent his subjects of triumphing over death? Again the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15c. 56, 57v. The righteous have been conquerors, through all past time, for says the Scripture, "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Life and death are included in the things that are to be the christians, and if death is in the righteous's possession, it is only a servant to wait upon the people of God, he can but open the gate, and by it the weary pilgrim is released from the troubles and afflictions
of this life! Then we can say with the Prophet, "Let me die the death of the righteous."
5th. And lastly, we shall consider the death of the righteous.--"Let my fast end be like his." The end of the righteous is a glorious end. I fancy my brethren, that the righteous will find the day that their summons will come for them to be a good day, because they die to live again.
"Death is the gate to endless joy,"
And "he that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live." John, chap. 9, verse 44.
But let us contemplate what is implied in the end of the righteous. It is not an end of their joys. "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me." "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John, 15c. 1, 2, 3v. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." "Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me that where I am; they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John, 17c. 3, 4v.
The righteous are now sowing in tears, but when they die they go to reap their reward in oy. "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord." Mat. chap. 25, verse 23. Time would fail us in attempting to adduce all the testimony of the sacred Scriptures upon this interesting portion of our discourse. It is not dispossessing
the righteous of their treasure. They have laid up their treasure above, and they have to pass through the vale of death to get their treasure.
"We soon shall pass the vale of death;
In Jesus arms, I lose my breath,
And then my happy soul shall tell,
My Jesus has done all things well."
"Lay up for yourself treasure in heaven where moth doth not corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal; for where your treasures are, there will your hearts be," says our blessed Lord. And the wise man says, "The day of death is better, than the day of one's birth." Eccles. 7c-1v. What an honorable end is the end of the righteous,
"Jesus can make a dying bed,
Feel soft as downy pillows are,
Whilst on his breast I lean my head
And breathe my life out sweetly there."
If Christ is with the righteous in their last end, surely it is a good and glorious end to be in the righteous man's lot when he leaves the world! We must conclude, we are lost in wonder at the unbounded goodness of God toward us! that such ample provisions hath been made, that we, poor, defiled and unworthy creatures should be thus honored in our end: The Lord grant that our end may be that of the righteous.
Reflections.--1st. The brethren to whose memory we now speak, were of the little flock called "the righteous," and although they had their difficulties in this life, from a knowledge of their general deportment,
they showed that they had been with Christ and learned of Him.
They both sought and found peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ in their youthful days; served their generation, and though but in the bloom of manhood and the meridian of life, they are gathered to the fathers; have finished their work, and doubtless are gone to that land where the inhabitants shall no more say I am sick!
"Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more!"
2nd. Their death was peaceful. These servants of the Lord were so well resigned to the dispensation of Divine Providence, that brother Woodson, before he left his congregation to go home and die, walked to the Church and stood in the altar, taking the hands of the members one by one and assuring them that the hand they then shook would never more be clasped by them till they struck the immortal hands on the blessed field of glory! And brother Davis preached to his congregation on the Sabbath before he died from Revelations, "He that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written," &c. Chap. 2, 17v. They spoke of their decease, and when death made his appearance they gathered up their feet, and like Jacob fell asleep in peace.
I leave the world without a tear,
Save for the friends I love so dear,
To heal their sorrows Lord descend,
And to the friendless prove a friend.
3rd. And they were joyful in death. Truly from
the testimony of many they were with the apostle joyful in their last moments!
To see the christian as he dies,
With glory in his view!
To heaven he lifts his longing eyes
And bids the world adieu!
While friends are weeping all around,
And loth to let him go!
He shouts with his expiring breath
And leaves them all below.
4th. But again they were hopeful in death,--When conversing on the subject, they always gave ample satisfaction of their hope of heaven. "I have been long fighting for that city was the language, and I'll soon be there," with McKendree, they could say
"If this be death, I soon shall be,
From every pain and sorrow free!
I shall the King of glory see
All is well."
5th. And lastly, their death was victorious and their end glorious.
Conversing on the subject of death, with all calmness and composure of christian assurance, we are informed, like St. Paul they said, "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith; I have finished my course, henceforth there is a crown laid up for me, at the right hand of the righteous Judge which he will give me, and not only me but all that loveth his appearance." Brethren let us then take courage; fight on, the crown we shall obtain! Our beloved brethren have gone but a short distance before us; perhaps before another conference year may roll
around, many of us who compose this Annual Conference, will join the moving millions on the other shore. The song of victory may if faithful servants to our God, burst from these lips of ours! and we join with the immortal choir! to sing "to Him that hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, be glory, and honor, and dominion, for ever and ever." Yea, the battle is fought, the victory won, with our fellow soldiers! No more shall they sit in our assembly in the church below! No more shall their melodious voices charm our ears in the church militant! No more shall sinners be alarmed by their penetrating voices from the sacred desk; but blessed be the name of our God, we shall by grace meet to part no more! joyful thought! Glorious anticipation! "And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, behold I make all things new." Rev. chap. 21, verses 4, 5. The Lord grant us the guidance of his Holy Spirit to lead us into all righteousness in life, that we may die the death of the righteous." We can but adopt the language of the poet in conclusion,
And can we the words of their exit forget?
Oh, no, they are fresh in our memory yet,
An example so brilliant shall never be lost,
We'll fall in the work, we'll die at our post!