Massey, Va., Jan. 28, 1902.
Dear Brethren Editors: – Something has seemed to prompt me to pen a few things incidental to my life, in a general way, and forward them to you for your disposal, whether to give thorn a place in our family paper, the Signs of the Times, or not.
I was born in the year 1831, in the same County (Accomac, Va.,) where I have resided every since. I experienced a hope in God through his abounding grace, in August, 1851; was united in marriage with my present companion, January 21st, 1852; was received, and baptized by Elder Thomas Waters, in the fellowship of the Old School Baptist Church at Messongo, Accomac Co., Va., March, 1852. So you see that I have very few more mile posts to pass to my journey’s end, as I have passed the 71st year of my natural life, and the fiftieth of my spiritual life, and also the fiftieth year of my married life.
In the year 1865 I became very much impressed in mind in regard to the things of the kingdom of God, and what constituted that kingdom. The more I thought about it, the more beautiful the subject became, and the stronger my interest grew. In my deep meditations I would find myself talking all alone, not supposing that was preaching, my ignorance would forbid it, but these things still grew more and more oppressive until it brought me into a state of questioning myself, What this all meant? and soon brought me before others also, who would inquire with reference to my exercise of mind. Thus I was lead along until I was prevailed upon to talk a little in the meetings, and I think some time in the year 1866, I was given a license to speak as I felt led, and in the year 1869 or 70, I was set apart to the full work of the gospel ministry, and immediately afterwards I accepted the care of four of the churches of the Salisbury Association, viz: Messongo, Accomac Co., Va.; Indiantown, Wicomico Co., Md.; Nassaongo, Wicomico Co., Md.; Pitt’s Creek, Worcester Co., Md., and a few years later the church was organized in Snowhill, Worcester Co,, Md., and they called me to the care of that also, and I have been paying my best attention to those churches ever since, traveling from twenty-two to twenty-three hundred miles each year to fill my appointments, and nearly all by private conveyance. But if you will notice the above dates you will see that my labor is nearly over. I have experienced varied seasons in the churches during this period of thirty-five years. Nearly all have passed away that composed the whole five churches when I first commenced my feeble labors among them. I have witnessed the coming in of all of the five churches at present but eighteen persons. During the thirty-five years there has not been an “ism nor schism” nor any new thing to interrupt the fellowship of those churches. There have been times when the churches were full of life and zeal, and of frequent additions, and also times of drought and coldness. Sometimes when I am looking for some evidence of my hope and call to the work of the ministry, the only evidence that I can rest upon is in the remembrance of what the apostle Paul said referring to believers: “Ye are our epistles, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” Then my mind surveys the faithful brethren and sisters, and it brings comfort with it. But O, how wretched and miserable I do feel at times, for as much as I have witnessed and experienced during the fifty years passed, I have fallen so far short of living up to the scribe that I pictured in my mind years ago. I have been tempted to mark upon the walls where I can have it to look at, Watch your words and your thoughts, and also every evil lust, but I have failed. Finally a longing desire has been following me, that I wanted to be an angel just for the time being, so I could not be contaminated with sin in any way, but I wanted to die a sinner saved by grace, for I know that will be the theme of the heavenly host, and then I think that an angel cannot magnify the grace of God, and then I am brought to a standstill, and can only say, Keep me, O Lord, and I shall be kept; draw me, and I will run after thee. I feel and know that this tabernacle in which I now groan must soon be taken down, and one of the strongest evidences that I have to rest upon is what Paul said: “For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternally in the heavens. For in this we groan,” “being burdened.” This is a strong evidence to me, for I know this is so. How the thought gladdens our hearts that in that building of God there will be no burden, there will be no groaning there, and all tears will be wiped from weeping faces.
I am trying to be as contented as I can, and live as much for others as I can. I sometimes get to think that my usefulness is nearly over, and then I have an unrest. I sometimes hear the brethren talk over their spiritual comforts, then I think my life and labor among them is of some profit, and then I am contented to continue on, and fill up the measure of my days. How it is that my poor labors and mingling among the Lord’s people has been acceptable, I have never been able to tell, only to hope that the things to which I bear testimony, finds a witness in the hearts and lives of others. I hope that this is so.
It is more than likely this is the last time that I shall trouble you with my scribble. I thought that I wanted the brethren all to know some of my feelings and experiences before I passed away.
This from a poor old sinner whose only hope of salvation is through the blood and righteousness of a crucified and risen Savior. Farewell.
T. M. POULSON.
Signs of the Times
Volume 70, No. 4
February 15, 1902