The events of fifty years ago to-day are written in my heart. It was the lovely first Saturday in June, 1854. A large and solemn assembly and a baud of Elders were gathered together in the name of Christ in a pleasant grove in eastern Indiana, to set apart four of his servants to the gospel ministry, by prayer and solemn ordination. The four were brethren Carter, Connor, Millspaugh and Wright. Each in turn related upon the stand his experience of grace, call to preach and belief in the doctrine. Brother Millspaugh, a very humble man, the third one on the stand, told the council that for a time he could not understand the nature of faith, but supposed that it was the condition of justification, or possessed justifying merit. He said that when the faithful brethren had tried to show him that justification and all merit is in Christ, and faith so receives him as our only righteousness, he had told them that his heart was so hard and dull of understanding he could not receive it unless the Lord revealed it to him. These words sank deep in my heart, and I then felt that this was my own state in regard to the sacred oneness between Christ and the church. Elder McQueary had recently talked to me about this union, but I had no understanding of it, except very dimly. At brother Millspaugh’s words, my heart was greatly burdened with a prayerful yearning that God would graciously show me the truth of the holy relationship between the Lord Jesus and his body, the church. Well, when brother Wright followed in his relation, my burdened heart was joyfully relieved, the Bridegroom and bride were shown to me, and nay soul was enraptured.
The ministers and deacons soon withdrew in counsel, leaving the large congregation at the stand, but no one in the stand to preach Christ to us. So intense was my longing to hear his precious name proclaimed I could scarcely hold myself back from going on the stand and speaking of the glories of Christ as the Savior of his redeemed people. But as I was not a member of the church, a young man and a stranger to nearly all, I arose and walked away to keep from going on the stand, and sat down on a log. The pent up emotions of my heart were now oppressive, and a small still voice was felt in my soul, saying, “Go, preach Jesus and his righteousness.” No longer could I keep still, but walked up a little valley, out of hearing, and praised the Lord aloud.
As the bright sun arose .Sunday and lighted up the beauties of the earth with a brilliance of glory, I walked down from brother Millspaugh’s house on the green bank of White Water, and all nature poured forth the happy praises of God in unison with my own rejoicing spirit, and with sweet power the words came in my heart, saying, “Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearehable riches of Christ.” The next Saturday I was constrained by faith and love to tell the old home church of my departed parents what great things the Lord had done for me, and the next day the pastor baptized me in the lovely river Flat Rock. My peace was then perfect, and my Lord’s rest was glorious. I thought my troubles were all past, and I should henceforth rest in his perfect love. But before we reached home the question arose in my mind, What is your place in the church? I decided to refer this to the Bible for an answer, so on entering the house I took it in my hands, closed my eyes, let it fall open, and asked the Lord to show me my place in his house. Lo, when I looked it was open between the Old and New Testaments, and I felt rebuked. But I longed for the Lord to show me and guide me, so I sat down, turned to the Acts of the apostles, and read from the first to v. 20, which says, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” I could read no more, but closed the book and walked out in the yard, and reasoned with myself that these words were not spoken to me, but to Peter and John, by the angel of the Lord. But in vain did I try to banish them, for they kept echoing through the chambers of my soul, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” There followed a deep conflict in my soul that I cannot now speak of. All my insufficiency and unworthiness seemed to make it impossible, while my natural ambition to succeed in the world as a physician made me bitterly opposed to bearing the cross of Christ. But suffice it to say here, he subdued me, humbled me, and made me willing in the day of his power. Yea, he gave me faith and trust and peace in him, and became more precious to me than all else.
The first meeting after my baptism the church called for a relation of my call to preach Christ, then licensed me, and made an appointment for me to preach there the third Sunday in July, 1854. My first text was Isaiah xxxv. 10: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” The text was true in me, and in the brethren, many of whom wept tears of joy while I spoke, for the Lord was with us. My divine call was to preach Jesus and his righteousness, and as he has given me his sufficient grace I have endeavored to be faithful to the heavenly calling through all the fifty years. With Paul I must truly say, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
Three weeks ago my right foot caught under an unseen wire, and the violent fall broke the right arm at the shoulder, and bruised me seriously, but the Lord preserved my life, and his restoring mercies have been very tender, so that I have been comforted and peaceful. I hope to write of this later.
With some pain I have written this with my right hand, as I wanted to record those memorable events of fifty years ago. I am deeply grateful to our merciful Father that it has seemed good in his sight to enable me again to write to my beloved kindred in Christ.
Your companion in the kingdom and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ,
St. Paul, Ind., June 4, 1904.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 17.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1904