Page images

pose. He supported the other addresses by an earnest appeal to separate themselves, and show that they were resolved to rank on the Lord's side. The people were evidently much more interested than they had been; and the preachers were desirous of bringing them to an issue. Exhortation and singing were renewed; and it was proposed that they should go down and pass among the people, for the purpose of conversing with them, and inducing them to come forward. By these personal applications and persuasions, a considerable number were induced to come forward; and fervent prayer of a suitable character was offered in their behalf.

"It was already late, and here, at least, the service should have stopped. This was the opinion of the wiser and elder brethren, but they did not press it; and those of weaker mind and stronger nerve thought that the work had only just begun. It was wished that I should retire, but I was desirous of witnessing the scene. Other exhortations and prayers, of a lower but more noisy character, were made, with endless singing; favorite couplets would be taken up and repeated without end. The effect was various, but it was not good; some, with their feelings worn out, had passed the crisis, and it was in vain to seek to impress them: while others were unduly and unprofitably excited.

"None discovered this more than the blacks. They separated themselves from the general service, and sought their own preacher and anxious seat. A stand was presently fixed between two trees; a preacher was seen appearing and disappearing between them, as his violent gesticulation caused him to lean backwards or forwards. The blacks had now things to their mind, and they pressed around the speaker, on their feet or their knees, with extended hands, open lips, and glistening eyes; while the strong lights of a tripod, close to which they had assembled, fell across the scene, and gave it great interest and power.

"As the scenes on either side the stand were not dumb show, the evil was, that the voices and the parties speaking met each other, and made confusion; and as either party raised his voice, to remedy the evil, it became worse. To myself, placed at the centre of ob servation, this had a neutralizing, and sometimes a humorous, effect; but to the two congregations, which were now reduced in numbers, it produced no distraction: they were severally engrossed, if not with their particular minister, with their particular feelings. It was now considerably past eleven o'clock; I thought I had seen all the forms which the subject was likely to take; and I determined to answer the request of my friends, and retire.

"I had been assured that a bed was reserved for me at the preachers' tent, and I now went in search of it. The tent is constructed like the rest, and is about eighteen feet by fourteen. As the ministers are expected to take their meals at the other tents, this is prepared as a lodging room. An inclined shelf, about six feet wide and four high, runs along the entire side of it, and it is supplied with six beds. I chose the one in the farther corner, in the hope of escaping interruption; as the bed next to me was already occupied by a person asleep. I relieved myself of my upper garments, and laid myself down in my weariness to rest. The other beds soon got filled. But still the brethren were coming to seek accommodation. One of them

crept up by the side of the person next to me; and as the bed would only suit one, he really lay on the margin of his and mine. Thus discomposed, my resolution was immediately taken not to sleep at all. There was, however, no need of this proud resolution, for that night there was to be no sleep for me. There were still other parties to come, and beds to be provided. After this there was the singing renewed, and still renewed, till youth and enthusiasm were faint and weary, and then it died away. Still there remained the barking of the watch dogs, the sawing of the kat-e-dids and locusts, and the snoring of my more favored companions, and these were incessant. Sometimes I found diversion in listening to them, as they mingled in the ear, and in deciding which was most musical, most melancholy; and frequently I turned away in weariness, and fixed my eye on the open crevices of the hut, looking for the first approach of day; and, in my impatience, as often mistaking for it the gleaming lights of the pine fires.

"When the sun actually rose, the horn blew for prayers. To me, all restless as I had been, it was a joyful sound. I waited till others had dressed, that I might do so with greater quiet. I stole away into the forest, and was much refreshed by the morning breeze and fresh air. It was a very pleasing and unexpected sight to observe, as you wandered in supposed solitariness, here and there an individual half concealed, with raised countenance and hands, worshipping the God of heaven, and occasionally two or three assembled for the same purpose, and agreeing to ask the same blessings from the same Father. This was, indeed, to people the forest with sacred things and associations.

"On my return, the ministers renewed their kind application to me to preach on the morning of this day. I begged to be excused, as I had had no rest, and had taken cold, and was not prepared to commit myself to the peculiarities of their service, and which they might deem essential. They met again: and unanimously agreed to press it on me; 'it should be the ordinary service, and nothing more; and as an expectation had been created by my presence, many would come, under its influence, and it would place any other minister at great disadvantage. My heart was with this people, and the leading pastors, and I consented to preach.

"The usual prayer meeting was held at eight o'clock. It was conducted by Mr. Jeter. Prayers were offered for several classes, and with good effect. To me it was a happy introduction to the more public service to come. I wandered away again to my beloved forest, to preserve my impressions, and to collect my thoughts. At eleven o'clock the service began. I took my place on the stand: it was quite full. The seats, and all the avenues to them, were also quite full. Numbers were standing, and for the sake of being within hearing, were contented to stand. It was evident that rumor had gone abroad, and that an expectation had been created, that a stranger would preach this morning, for there was a great influx of people, and of the most respectable class which this country furnishes. There were not less than 1,500 persons assembled. Mr. Taylor offered fervent and suitable prayer. It remained for me to preach. I can only say that I did so with earnestness and freedom. I soon felt that I had the attention and confidence of the congregation, and this

gave me confidence. I took care, in passing, as my subject allowed, to withdraw my sanction from any thing noisy and exclamatory; and there was, through the discourse, nothing of the kind; but there was a growing attention and stillness over the people. The closing statements and appeals were evidently falling on the conscience and heart with still advancing power. The people generally leaned forward, to catch what was said. Many rose from their seats; and many, stirred with grief, sunk down, as if to hide themselves from observation; but all was perfectly still. Silently the tear fell; and silently the sinner shuddered. I ceased. Nobody moved. I looked around to the ministers for some one to give out a hymn. No one looked at me-no one moved. Every moment the silence, the stillness, became more solemn and overpowering. Now, here, and there, might be heard suppressed sobbing arising on the silence. But it could be suppressed no longer-the fountains of feeling were burst open, and one universal wail sprung from the people and ministers, while the whole mass sunk down on their knees, as if imploring some one to pray. I stood, resting on the desk, overwhelmed like the people. The presiding pastor arose, and, throwing his arms around my neck, exclaimed, Pray, brother, pray! I fear many of my charge will be found at the left hand of the Judge! O, pray, brother, pray for us and then he cast himself on the floor with his brethren, to join in the prayer. But I could not pray! I must have been more or less than man to have uttered prayer at that moment! Nor was it necessary. All, in that hour, were intercessors with God, with tears and cries, and groans unutterable.


"So soon as I could command my state of feeling, I tried to offer prayer. My broken voice rose gradually on the troubled cries of the people, and gradually they subsided, so that they could hear and concur in the common supplications. It ceased, and the people rose. We seemed a changed people to each other. No one appeared disposed to move from the spot, and yet no one seemed disposed for ordinary exercises. Elder Taylor moved forward and remarked"That it was evident nothing but prayer suited them at this time. And as so many had been impressed by the truth, who had not before, he wished, if they were willing, to bring it to the test of prayer." He therefore proposed that if such persons wished to acknowledge the impression received, and to join in prayer for their personal salvation, they should show it by kneeling down, and he would pray with them. In an instant, as if instinct with one spirit, the whole congregation sunk down to the ground. It is much, but not too much, to say, that the prayer met the occasion. When the people again rose, one of the brethren was about to address them; but I thought nothing could be so salutary to them as their own reflections and prayers, and I ventured to request that he would dismiss the meeting.

"Thus closed the most remarkable service I have ever witnessed. It has been my privilege to see more of the solemn and powerful effect of Divine truth on large bodies of people than many; but I never saw any thing equal to this; so deep, so overpowering, so universal And this extraordinary effect was produced by the Divine blessing on the ordinary means; for none other were used, and onethird of the people had been present at none other. I shall never forget that time-that place; and as often as I recur to it, the tear is still ready to start from its retirement.

"The immediate effect was as good as it was conspicuous. At first there was such tenderness on the people that they looked silently on each other, and could hardly do it without weeping; and afterward, when they had obtained more self-possession, there was such meekness, such gentleness, such humility, such kindness, such a desire to serve one another by love, and such calm and holy joy sitting on their countenances, as I had never seen in one place, and by so many persons. It realized, more than any thing I had known, the historical description of the primitive saints; and there was much in the present circumstances which assisted the impression. It was indeed beautifully true-' that fear came on every soul; and all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they continued with one accord, breaking bread from house to house; and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God!'

"Besides this happy effect on those who had already believed, there were many in an awakened and inquiring state which demanded attention. Among them was a representative of the state government, who acknowledged that he had always resisted the truth till then, but hoped it had overcome him at last. Some of these cases, of course, came under my own knowledge; and all the ministers showed them, as, indeed, they had uniformly done, great attention and solicitude."*

We alluded to the want of candor in these reverend gentlemen in respect to other denominations of Christians. As a sample take the following account of his visit to Morristown, in the state of NewJersey; and the reader will better appreciate the kindness of his misrepresentations, when he is informed that Mr. Cooke, the gentleman mentioned by Dr. Reed, whose hospitalities he enjoyed while in that town, was himself a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

"In the evening I went with Mr. Cooke and my friend to the Episcopal Methodist Church. It is not large, and has been recently built. The men occupied one side of the place, and the women the other; an unsocial plan, and more likely to suggest evil than to prevent it. We were there before the service commenced. The silence was interrupted disagreeably, by continued spitting, which fell, to a strange ear, like the drippings from the eaves on a rainy day. They have

That we are not alone in our censures upon the authors of this work, and particularly in reference to this account of the camp meeting, may be seen by the following extract from the Religious Herald, a Baptist paper, published in Richmond, Va. He says,

"Our correspondent, Omega, is not the only one who has complained of the description given by Dr. Reed in his narrative of the camp meeting in the Northern Neck, Virginia. Several of our readers, present at this meeting, have informed us that they considered the narrative defective in many respects, and illiberal in others, more especially in reference to the sermon delivered by Elder Claybrook. "We did not consider the description as a faultless production. We suspected that the sermon alluded to was not so defective as the writer alleged, for we were confident that the brethren who had the management of the meeting had too much discretion to place an individual so incompetent, according to the representation of Dr. R., in such a prominent post. We could not also overlook the obvious display which the Dr. has made of his own services on this occasion, and of the estimation in which they were held by his hearers. Yet notwithstanding these and other defects, such as the reference to minute and uninteresting particulars, we were of opinion that the description would be interesting to many of our readers. We were also solicited by some of them to give it an insertion in the Herald."

the custom of turning their back to the minister in singing, that they may face the singers; and they have also the practice, to a great extent, of interlining the prayer with exclamations and prayers of their own. Such as these, for instance, were common:-AmenDo so, Lord-Lord, though knowest-Let it be so, Lord-Yes, yes, Lord-Come, come, Lord, &c. You will recognize in this only what you have witnessed at home.

"Their minister came out from Ireland. He is an intelligent, humble, pious man; and preached a sound and useful sermon. But he has no management of his voice; it was at one elevation, and that the highest, throughout. By this means he lost the power to impress; and threatens, I fear, to wear himself out with vociferation. The ministers in this connection, I found, are allowed to settle. He is just settled; he has a wife and three children, and has 500 dollars a year."

The rebuke here given for spitting upon the floor of the meeting house, if true and not exaggerated, is well merited, and should serve as an admonition to all pious worshippers to avoid, as much as possible, the disgusting practice. The bespattering, and even staining the floors of churches, by the saliva of tobacco-chewers, which is sometimes emitted in no stinted measure in time of Divine worship, is a practice so loathsomely indecent and detestable, that we should rejoice to witness its speedy banishment from the house of God, as also from the saloons of more private houses. But did these reverend travellers witness nowhere else but in a Methodist house this reprehensible practice? Are there no other people in the United States who 'spit,' and no other religious people who amuse themselves with masticating and smoking this narcotic weed? These gentlemen might have recollected that calling for wine at taverns, which it seems they sometimes did, is quite as reprehensible, in the estimation of a thoroughgoing temperance American, as chewing the quid and smoking the segar are to the delicate nerves of an English tourist. When, however, tobacco shall cease to become an article of trade in England, and wine and brandy in America, we may be exempted from reproaching each other for practices in which we both indulge, to the no small annoyance of well-bred gentlemen and decent Christians. But that to which we more particularly object in the above account is this::"The ministers in this connection, I found, are allowed to settle." Where did he find this? In his own brain only, as every one must know who has the slightest acquaintance with our eco omy. The expression "I found," seems to imply that he sought for correct information, and hence it amounts to an intentional misstatement. There is another thing in this extract which presents an invidious aspect. This is the only place that we have noticed where he has mentioned the amount of salary which ministers receive, as though it was a strange thing for a minister, and especially for a Methodist minister, to receive a salary from the people. Whether he has here stated the amount correctly or not, we do not know, nor do we care

« PreviousContinue »