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Title: Five Years in the Alleghanies
Author: Cross, Jonathan
Language: English
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Published by the
American Tract Society,
150 Nassau-Street, New York.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by the American
Tract Society, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the
Southern District of the State of New York.



  The Preparation                                                  5


  The milestone--The elegant young man--The collier--The
  rich lady                                                       15


  The grog-shop--The rolling mills--The Universalist              27


  The new “relagin”--The hard father and his little
  daughter--The deserted homes--The stolen books                  37


  Book preachers installed--“Caught with guile”--The
  clenched fist--Review                                           49


  Governor of West Virginia--Surprising desolations--The
  lodging--The dinner--“Blazing the trees”                        57


  The hunter seeking books for a Sunday-school--The
  first sermon--Clock pedlars                                     68


  The “Ironside” preacher and distiller--Wife and
  granddaughter                                                   75


  A church dignitary--“Have you let Washington into
  heaven?”                                                        81


  The pistol--The surveyor’s son--A public-house--“You
  have prayed plenty”--The pocket-Bible                           89


  The summit of Cheat mountain--The “fellow that
  wanted to colport”--The sheriffs warrant--Wishing
  to be a _tract_ agent                                           97


  The wickedest man in the county--The bully--The
  shooting match--A gang of desperadoes                          111


  A night on guard--Old Randal Lucas                             119


  “No church, no preacher, no Sunday-school, no day-school”--A
  young lady’s success                                           128


  “No such place as hell”--The busy lawyer--A Trinity--The
  great work in L----, and in U----                              137


  A Pentecostal season--Service in a graveyard--A Seceder
  church                                                         151


  The Spirit’s blessing at C----, and near Marshall’s
  Pillar, and at L---- B---- --Col. S----‘s household            163


  Grieving the Spirit--Striking effects of the Anxious
  Inquirer                                                       176


  Work of grace at L---- --The German professor--The
  wealthy young lady--“Don’t be offended”--A
  distinguished civilian                                         188

  THE CONCLUSION                                                 201





“It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” In all my
connection with the scenes here truthfully described, as in the
training and discipline of earlier years through which I was brought
into them, I have been _led in a way that I knew not_.

I was born on the border of Western Pennsylvania and Virginia, within
the wilds of the vast range of the Alleghanies, where the howl of
the wolf, the scream of the panther, and the Indian’s tomahawk were
my dread. In infancy my father died, and a few years later my pious
mother. But God raised up a foster-mother, and in her family an
intelligent Scotch female teacher, who made me her special charge
during my first year at school. Here, in connection with faithful
preaching from a tent in the woods on the Sabbath, and instruction in
the log-cabin day-schools, I received those rudiments of education, and
was indoctrinated in that sound system of faith and morals from which
“old Scotia’s grandeur springs.”

Conscious of my ruin by sin and need of the “new birth,” as set forth
in old standard works of Flavel and Boston which I read, for three
years from ten to thirteen, I was often deeply impressed as to the
state of my soul. I attended constantly on preaching and the monthly
examinations, committed to memory catechisms and scriptures, and
wrestled with God in prayer that I might be truly converted and become
a minister of the gospel; and sometimes I indulged a trembling hope in

But among the snares and flatteries of ungodly companions, my alarm
and faint hopes of salvation gradually subsided. I was at length led
to show my _manhood_ by tobacco-chewing, card-playing, and even
profanity. Next I was enticed to read works on Universalism, and for
four years sought to stifle conscience by arguments to prove that all
will be saved. Yet a still small voice was whispering, “The soul that
sinneth it shall die;” and though jovial in company, when alone hell
would seem to flash up before me in all its horrors. Two great powers
were striving in my heart: one to lead me into deeper sin; the other
crying, “Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?” At seventeen I went
with an ungodly young man into the then wilderness of Central Ohio,
where for half a year I heard no sermon, hunted on the Sabbath, threw
off restraints, and as it were dared the vengeance of God. Oh how
astonishing the mercy of God, to continue to strive with such a rebel!

When I arrived at eighteen, I spent two or three nights in a week at
the card-table, to “kill time” and drown the whispers of the Spirit.
I thought of enlisting in the army, and then resolved to go to sea:
but in the providence of God, a young woman just then engaged my
affections; thoughts of the army and the sea were dislodged, and in a
few months we were married, depending on our personal exertions for the
means of support.

We rented a piece of land, and entered upon the scenes and
responsibilities of real life. After six months, I was seized with
acute inflammatory rheumatism, and the verdict of the physician was,
that the disease was incurable, and I must die. Every feature was
distorted with agony; and yet the agony of soul at the thought of
being dragged into the presence of God with all my sins unpardoned was
unspeakably more terrible. I saw that I had shut my heart against the
calls of God’s word and Spirit a thousand times, and that I deserved
the deepest hell. I tried to pray, but there seemed to be no God
to hear, no Saviour to intercede, no Spirit to comfort my lost and
wretched soul.

As I was recovering, “The Afflicted Man’s Companion,” received from a
friend, was greatly blessed to me, and I resolved by God’s help to live
the life and die the death of the righteous. The struggle now began in
earnest. Such was my agony of soul, that I often went to the woods and
rolled on the ground for hours. Most of those around me, for miles in
every direction, were living in neglect of God; intemperance fearfully
prevailed; there was not one religious friend to whom I could reveal
the feelings of my heart. I tried to surrender myself to Christ, but
in vain. A voice seemed to follow me continually, “He that is ashamed
of me and of my words, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and
his holy angels.” I felt that a public acknowledgment of Christ and his
cause was the only way of relief; but I shrunk from the duty, wishing
to be a secret Christian, and go to the Saviour, like Nicodemus, by
night. This distress continued for some months.

At length I was enabled to ask a blessing at my table, which seemed
a hard task before my then irreligious wife; and after this it was a
struggle of six months before I could summon courage to commence family
prayer, even on a Sabbath evening. This duty was then performed, and
peace of mind followed. After a few months I made known the state of my
mind to the officers of a church some miles distant, and was admitted,
though with many sore misgivings and fears that I had no right to the
Lord’s supper, and was self-deceived.

God graciously removed these doubts, and I felt the claims of Christ to
do something for others. I first engaged in loaning such good books as
I could get, especially The Afflicted Man’s Companion, Doddridge’s Rise
and Progress, and Pike’s Persuasives to Early Piety; feeling assured
that no one could prayerfully read either of these books without being

When I was in my twenty-third year, a devoted Christian settled in a
very wicked community about five miles from me, where he started a
Sabbath-school. I went to see it, and was greatly pleased with it. At
the close, I was introduced to Mr. P----; and to his influence, under
God, more than to that of any other individual, is to be traced all
I have been enabled to do for the salvation of souls. He told me all
about the management of a Sabbath-school, and how to get books from
the American Sunday-school Union, which had just begun its heaven-born
work in our country. I immediately set to work, raised five dollars,
procured ten dollars’ worth of books, and opened a Sabbath-school
in my own house. The room soon became too small; but God put it into
the heart of an irreligious neighbor to offer a larger room, where
the school was continued for a year, and where I also held a weekly
meeting, usually reading one of Burder’s Village Sermons. More room
soon became necessary, and a large school-house was built; and there,
for twelve long years, the Sabbath-school and religious meetings were
kept up, until nearly all the youth and most of the adult population in
the neighborhood were brought into the church.

This Sabbath-school and that of Mr. P---- were the means God used to
build up a good congregation in one of the most wicked and hopeless

With these results before me, as soon as I heard of Colportage my heart
beat with joy at the thought that the poor would soon have the gospel
preached to them, and that thousands of children, untaught at home,
would be reached by soul-saving truth adapted to their opening minds.

But the question came into my mind at once, “Who will go into these
ignorant communities, and deny themselves the comforts of home, to do
this work?” little thinking that God, by fifteen years training, had
selected me for that very work in the Alleghanies.

An incident that occurred some years previous made a deep impression
on my mind. The ecclesiastical body with which I was connected had
requested the officers of vacant churches to visit all the families in
those churches, and talk and pray with them. I shrunk from the task;
but encouraged by Mr. P----, I entered on it with fear and trembling.
By the time the first visit was paid I felt as if I should like to
spend my days in such a work. Late in the evening of my first day I
stopped at a house where the man and his wife were members of our
church. A young man was present who was to be married in a few days. I
had some acquaintance with him, and asked him if he had ever felt any
concern about his soul. He said, “A little sometimes, but not much.” I
urged him to seek first the kingdom of God: and his righteousness, and
said to him, “For aught you know, before another morning you may be
dead, or on a sick-bed from which you may never rise.” At midnight that
night he woke up sick. In a day or two I was sent for. He told me the
moment he woke sick he thought of what I said, and felt that he should
never get well. He lingered three months; but more than a month before
he died he professed his faith in Christ. From that time till he died,
he daily urged his ungodly, intemperate parents to repent and meet him
in heaven. The father soon became much distressed about his soul; and
a year after, he died a most triumphant death, committing his children
to my care for religious instruction. Within a few years the mother
and most of the children were united with God’s people. All attributed
their salvation to the exhortations of that son and those of us who
attended him and his father. This encouraged me to try to do more.

On the morning of October 20, 1844, I rose in peace, with my happy
little family around me; but a holy Providence ordered that in twelve
hours my dear wife was to be in the cold embrace of death, and that her
death was to be the first of a chain of providences to lead me “out
into the highways and hedges.”

The next Sabbath morning our pulpit was occupied by Rev. Mr. W----, who
presented the moral and religious wants of our country, and tenderly
appealed for laborers. At the close of the service I was introduced
to him, and he accompanied me to the new-made grave of my beloved
companion. The band that had bound me to my home was loosed. On Monday
morning the preacher called on me again; preliminaries were arranged;
and I was commissioned as colporteur for Western Virginia, consenting
first to labor a short time among the colliers in Western Pennsylvania.


I left home for the field of labor assigned me on the first day of
November, 1844.

On my way on horseback I came alongside of a young gentleman of very
fine appearance. We immediately entered into conversation about the
beautiful farms and fine improvements we passed.

When we had rode some distance, I observed _a mile-stone_, which
reminded me of a promise made some years before, that I would never
travel a mile or spend an hour alone with any person without talking on
the subject of religion. I immediately set about to find something to
make an introduction out of. The first thing that caught my eye was a
very tall hickory pole, raised by one of the political parties of the
time, and said I feared the political excitement was very seriously
affecting the interests of the church.

The evasive reply of the elegant young man led me to suppose he was a
gay, thoughtless young lawyer or physician, as I had discovered that
he was an educated man.

I then observed to him that as we were providentially thrown together,
and I had made a promise not to travel a mile or spend an hour with
any one without speaking on the subject of religion, I hoped he had no
objections to such conversation.

He said, “It is no doubt an important subject,” but said it in such a
way that I still thought he was an irreligious man.

I then observed that I felt a deep interest in young men, especially as
the destinies of the church and nation would soon be in their hands.
That the only safeguard of either was real piety. I then repeated the
text, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
And after preaching him a sermon from it near a mile long, he observed,

“Well, sir, that is very good theology.”

The manner in which it was said led me to reply, “Perhaps I have run
against a preacher.”

“Yes, sir,” said he, “I am a new beginner at it, and you have given me
one of the best lessons that I have ever learned. I thank you for it;
it needs no apology, and I hope God will give me grace always to do

Our journey as we continued it to Pittsburg was pleasant and profitable.

In the evening I reached the hospitable home of the Rev. Mr. J----
in the village of T----, near to the city. It had been arranged for
his house to be my headquarters, and I shall never forget the nights
I spent with him and his devoted companion. I thought him as nigh
Christian perfection as man is ever raised in this world. Had it not
been for their wise Christian counsel and earnest prayers, my faith and
courage would have yielded when I came to look on my field of labor.
My new work, to which everybody was a stranger, and to be done among
strangers in the bustle of business and worldly excitements, seemed to
be too formidable an undertaking. All nations seemed to be represented;
scores intoxicated, and blaspheming God’s holy name. And what added to
the difficulty was, that my books did not come to hand for three days,
leaving me that time to magnify molehills into mountains of difficulty.

But this delay was the most important part of my training. Those were
days of most earnest searchings of heart, while such passages of
Scripture as, “He that is ashamed of me and my words, of him will I be
ashamed before my Father and his holy angels,” were constantly ringing
in my ears.

On the evening of the third day the box of books came. I had engaged
a class-leader in the Methodist church to go with me the first day;
but the sight of the box made me tremble, and so great was the dread
of beginning the work that evening, that I resolved that if God did
not give me strength by the next morning, I would start home and give
it up. The night was spent without sleep. I can truly say I was in an
agony till four o’clock in the morning. Then in a moment of time all
my fears were gone, and I longed for the morning to come that I might
begin my work.

By eight o’clock in the morning I called on Mr. S---- who was to
accompany me, with my basket filled with good books and tracts.

In a few minutes we entered the first house. They were Germans; very
irreligious. We talked and prayed with them, and sold some books. They
seemed pleased with the visit, and thanked us for it.

The next house we entered bore the brand of intemperance. The husband
was sitting by the fire with a sore hand and red eyes. We preached
to him “righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come,” till he
trembled and wept like a child. He promised to drink no more, joined a
temperance society that night, became a church-going man, provided for
his family, and as far as I know has turned out well.

During that day we visited twenty-seven families, talked and prayed
with all of them, and distributed near twenty dollars’ worth of books.
Many shed tears while we talked with them of Christ and salvation, and
promised to attend to the “one thing needful.”

Mr. S----, my fellow-laborer, was so stirred in soul with the day’s
work, that he said he must let his business stand and go the next day.

The next morning we started, full of zeal and hope. We met with many
of the most wicked and degraded people that I had ever seen. Some
listened to us with attention, while others treated us with contempt.
Late in the evening, while we were visiting a row of board shanties,
occupied by coal diggers, I was told not to venture into one of the
shanties; that the man was almost a giant in size and strength, and a
very dangerous man; that he was a terror to the neighborhood, and had
beaten his wife very badly the day before. I replied there was the more
need to see him, and I would go in. My friend would not even come to
the door of the shanty, for fear of him.

The shanty was sixteen feet square, no floor but the earth; neither
chair, table, nor bed except a bundle of straw in one corner. He was
seated on a large block of coal at one side of the fire, and his wife
on another block at the other side, while the children were lying on
the ground playing between them. The woman’s face bore testimony of the
beating she had gotten the day before.

He was one of the most fiendish-looking men I ever saw. He was of
enormous size, was clothed with rags, and did not appear as if he had
been washed for months. He was as black as coal-dust could make him. I
must confess it required all the courage I could summon to speak to him.

I approached him, and extended my hand, and said to him, “I have come
to supply you with some good books to comfort you and point you to
heaven. Have you a Bible?” “No,” said he. “Can you read?” “Yes, a
little.” “Do you love Jesus Christ?” “I fear not, sir.” I then urged
him by every thing sacred to attend to his soul’s salvation without
delay; that death, judgment, and eternity were hastening on, and
pictured to him as well as I could the awful consequences of dying in
his sins. The tears ran down his blackened cheeks till the coal-dust
was washed away below his eyes. I gave him a book, and prayed with him.
He begged me to call again, and said, “You are the first man that ever
spoke to me about my soul.”

During this day we visited twenty-two families, and had religious
conversation and prayer with each of them. Mr. S---- had become so
deeply interested, that he said he must go another day.

The next day we concluded to visit a coal digger’s boarding-house, said
to be the wickedest den that was to be found in the whole district.
I will not attempt to describe its character. We entered late in the
evening, as this was the only time we could find the men in. The house
was kept by an old woman and her sons, who worked in the mines and were
notorious for their daring profanity.

When we entered the house several men were playing cards, others were
lying on benches about the room in various stages of intoxication. My
colaborer was a small, timid man, and seemed somewhat alarmed.

I introduced our errand by proposing to sell them some good books,
which they declined even to look at. I then commenced a general
exhortation, which had no effect more than pouring water on a rock. I
then called on my friend to pray, as it was his turn, and we had agreed
to lead in turns. This he did with great fervor, and was responded to
by the men with vulgar songs, and such other behavior as I have never
seen before or since.

At the close of his prayer I turned to the old woman and told her I was
astonished at the mercy of God that permitted such a family to live,
and portrayed the awful consequences of her meeting her household in
hell. I drew every alarming picture I could summon from the Bible or
the resources of my own mind. After some time the old woman began to
weep, and she promised to attend the mission chapel the next Sabbath.
After supplying them with a copy of Baxter’s Call, and a number of
suitable tracts, we left them.

The next Sabbath the old woman was at the chapel. A series of religious
meetings began that day, and before its close, as my friend informed
me, who was a worshipper there, the old woman and one of her sons
professed religion.

One day we entered a room where a man was lying sick. We introduced the
subject of religion to him. He ground his teeth with rage, and swore he
did not want to hear any thing on that subject. I then began to inquire
about his complaints, and to prescribe some simple remedies, and he
soon became calm. After some time I remarked that afflictions did not
come by chance, neither did trouble spring out of the ground, but they
were all sent of God for some wise purpose. “Do you think so?” said
he. “Yes,” said I, “and for our good.” He then listened attentively,
and soon shed tears. Though he was very poor, he bought some books.
I prayed with him, and left him, but not without many thanks and
entreaties to come and see him as often as I could.

This closed the work of three days, in which time we had visited
eighty-five families.

These three days were the most interesting days that I had ever spent.
By the next morning I found my voice almost gone, and all my limbs
trembling. The excitement of the work and intensity of feeling had
prostrated me before I was aware of it.

After a day or two of rest I resumed my labors for three weeks, when I
went home a few days.

I then returned to the same place, and spent a month in visiting new
families and revisiting old ones; and I shall never forget the cordial
shake of the hand that I got almost every day, when I would meet some
one in the house or on the street whom I had before conversed with
and supplied with a book or tract. Special services had been held
in several churches, and quite a number had professed religion. One
minister told me he had taken into his church forty, many of whom dated
their first religious impressions to reading the books and tracts I had
sold or given them, others referred to the visits as the means of their

There was one thing in the work which struck me with great force--the
effect on Christian people. I tried as far as possible to get some good
man to go with me in my visits. It was a great help to me and added to
my success, and at the same time it stirred up many to work for Christ
that had never done any thing before.

One instance I will name of a Miss L----, though she had been a worker.
She was a lady of large wealth, and had a number of poor tenants living
on her property. She heard of my work, and came to see me. At her
request I went to visit her “parish,” as she called it. I went at the
set time, and she was ready to go with me, basket in hand. During the
day we visited thirty families, and talked and prayed in every house.
When my strength failed she took it up, and such entreaties to sinners
I have seldom heard, and such prayers are seldom offered. During that
day I found eleven persons that attributed their conversion to her
efforts with books and tracts. She said she was a colporteur before,
but did not know it till that day. Reader, go and do likewise.


I now add a number of facts and incidents that occurred during these
two months of labor.

There was a Mr. G----, a coal-digger, of desperate character, that I
had been warned not to visit. I was told that he was such an abandoned
character that he was hopeless; that he spent the most of every night
in a miserable doggery, drinking and fighting. I had passed his house
every day for some time, but did not feel satisfied with myself for
neglecting it.

At last I felt constrained to call one evening; but he had not returned
from his work. I had a long, earnest talk with his wife, who seemed
very careless and wicked. All I could say made no impression on her. I
gave her a copy of Baxter’s Call, with the earnest request that she and
her husband would read it. What followed I will relate as near as I can
in his own words in a prayer-meeting in his own house about two weeks

“While eating my supper, my wife told me some man had been here and
left a book, which he was very desirous she and I should read. I got
the book to look at it, and read a few pages without much interest; but
as I was very tired, I concluded not to go to the grog-shop that night.
In the morning, which was Sunday morning, I felt inclined to go and get
my bitters; but seeing the book, I concluded to read till breakfast,
and then go. By the time breakfast was ready I felt pretty serious, and
asked my wife if she would not like to go to church--a place we had not
been in for eight years. She said she had no objections. I read till
it was time to go, and began to feel somewhat anxious about my soul. I
listened to the preaching with intense interest. I read the book nearly
through that evening, went back to the church that night, and when
those who desired to have an interest in Christ were called for, I came
forward. A week after, I found peace.”

He then added, “If it had not been for that book, I think myself and
wife would have been in hell to-night. That gun was loaded,” pointing
to an old gun in the corner, “with a view of killing myself and wife
near a month ago, and if God had not saved me, it would likely have
been done before this time. I was a miserable man; life was a burden;
but now I am happy.”

This narrative brought tears to all our eyes, and joy to our hearts.

I visited some of the grog-shops around the village every day to
supply their customers with temperance tracts. In the village proper,
no liquor could be sold, as in all the deeds for lots there was a
temperance clause that forfeited the property if liquor was sold; but
all round the village the grog was abundant, and customers plenty.

Passing one of these drinking places one day I saw several customers
in, and entered the bar-room with my tracts. The liquor-sellers had
got to know me, and often looked daggers at me. A good-looking man,
well dressed, and about half drunk, was approaching the counter to get
a six-cent drink. Said I, “My friend, I can give you something for
six cents that will do you much more good, and no harm.” He asked me
what it was, when I presented to him Baxter’s Call. I told him the
liquor might kill him, and if he would read that book with prayerful
attention, it might save his soul. He said he would buy the book if he
had the money, but that he had only six cents to pay for that glass of
liquor, which by this time was standing on the counter.

We both came up to the counter, when I laid the book beside the glass,
saying, “Here is life or death for six cents.” The grog-seller said
I had no business to come there annoying his customers, and injuring
his business. I urged the man at the risk of losing his soul to buy
and read the book. The struggle seemed to be between life and death.
At last he handed me the money, took the book, and went out of the
room. I then handed the landlord a book worth more than the whiskey,
and told him to read it, and then sell it to make up the loss. This is
only a sample of every day occurrences in village and city colportage.
Eternity only will reveal the results.

At the request of the proprietors of a large rolling-mill, I visited
those in their employ.

Among them was a man that professed to be a kind of Universalist
preacher. He was a boss over a number of hands, and I was told was
shrewd and fond of argument, and was doing much injury in propagating
his opinions. Late one evening I called at his rooms. There was no one
in but his wife. I conversed with her some time, and found her a pious
Christian woman. I asked her about her husband. She burst into tears,
and said he was a kind husband, but a wicked man; that he preached
sometimes, and was a Universalist.

While I was urging her to labor and pray for his salvation, a
fine-looking man, of a haughty mien and deportment, came in.

I arose and introduced myself, and asked if he was Mr. V----, the
gentleman of the house. He replied that he was. I then told him I was a
colporteur visiting from house to house, selling and giving books, and
talking and praying with the people.

“Oh, I have heard of you about here for two or three days. I am a
Universalist, sir; I don’t believe there is any such place as hell.” I
replied that it would be well for many of us if that doctrine was true,
and asked him how long he had been a Universalist. He said about eight
years; that his mother had belonged to the orthodox, and taught him in
his early years about a terrible place called hell, and that he knew no
better till about eight years ago. That for three or four years after
he heard the true doctrine of the salvation of all men, he was troubled
with those foolish prejudices; but for the last four years he had never
had a solitary _pang_ on that subject.

I replied that it was often hard to get rid of a mother’s instructions
and prayers; that it had taken the devil four years to silence his
conscience, and get them put to sleep.

“Do you feel confident,” I said, “that you are this moment prepared to
enter heaven if you were to die?” “Yes,” said he, “as certain as I am
that the sun rises and sets.” “Well,” said I, “is not this rather a
toilsome world to live in?” “Yes,” said he, “it is, and I have a full
share of it.” “Then,” said I, “why not cut your throat, and go right
to heaven this evening?” “Oh,” said he, “I have my wife to provide
for.” “Oh,” said I, “cut her throat, and take her along.” “Oh,” said
he, “that would be wrong.” “No,” said I, “if your creed is right, it
cannot be wrong; and even if it should, you would be done with all the
consequences of the wrong as soon as you were dead.” He hung his head,
and made no further reply. I told him I hoped that he had seen the
fallacy of his belief, and would at once abandon such soul-destroying
opinions. I sold him several books, and left him.

As the men worked by turns all night in the rolling-mills, and it was
difficult to gain access to them, one of the proprietors proposed
that he would join me to visit them all the next Sabbath, when they
often gathered in groups to play cards and drink. Accordingly the next
Sabbath morning we were joined by a theological student, and commenced
going round the houses and rooms, near one hundred in number.

Late in the evening we entered the apartments of Mr. V---- and his
wife. They were sitting reading new books, which I think were those I
had sold them. I said, “Good evening, Mr. V----. I have come to talk
with you again, and I am glad to see you reading those books. I hope
you have changed your mind on religious subjects.” “No,” said he, “I am
more convinced than ever that I am right.” “Well,” said I, “I want to
ask you a few questions by the way of information, as you profess to
have a near cut to heaven.” Said he, “I am not going to answer any more
of your questions. I don’t like to be criticized.” I told him I would
only ask him easy questions; that I wanted to know what that scripture
meant which speaks of a class of men who “shall not be forgiven,
neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” Said he, “I am not
going to answer any more questions.”

Mr. R---- said he would like to ask him one question. “There were two
thieves crucified with Christ. He said to the one, ‘This day shalt thou
be with me in paradise;’ where did the other go?” He made no answer.

We all three united in urging him to repent and believe in Christ, but
he made no answer. At last I said, “Brethren, unless God will hear and
answer prayer in this man’s behalf, he is a lost man.” His wife was
weeping as if her heart would break. We knelt in prayer, and I think
there were four earnest hearts lifted up to God. He sat still some
minutes, but at last he knelt. When we rose from our knees the tears
were running down his cheeks. I said, “Do you feel no ‘pangs’ now?”
With a sob that seemed to come from his heart, he said, “I don’t know
what has come over me.” We then pointed him to the Saviour, and told
him we believed his feelings were produced by the Spirit of God. Of all
the penitents that I have ever seen, I hardly remember one who seemed
so deeply moved as this man. During the time he remained in that place
he seemed to be an entirely changed man.

One day, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. J----, we called at the office of
a very fine-looking gentleman, and introduced the subject of religion
to him. He was rather surly and sceptical. I proposed to sell him a
book, but he declined, saying that he seldom read such books. At last
I proposed to give him a copy of Nelson on Infidelity, and went on to
say that it equalled any romance in interest. At last he said, “I have
money plenty to buy books, and as you are so urgent about it, I will
buy it, and read it; and if it is not as good as you say it is, I will
give you a thrashing the first time I catch you.” I told him I would
run the risk of that if he would read the book carefully.

About ten days after we were passing again, and called on him. He met
us in the most cordial manner. I told him I had called to see whether
he would thrash me or not for the book I had sold him. “Oh,” said he,
“it is the best book I ever read. I would not take five dollars for it,
if I could not get another like it.” We found him deeply anxious about
his soul. After a long talk with him, I told him I was about to close
my labors there, and never expected to meet him again in this world,
and urged him to meet me in heaven. With tears running down his cheeks,
he said to Mr. J----, “Will _you_ not come and see me again?” Mr. J----
said with tears that he would, and he no doubt did very frequently.


Calling one day at a fine country-house in Western Pennsylvania, I
found a prosperous Irish family of more than ordinary intelligence. I
inquired if they wanted some good religious books. The father replied,
“What kind of _relagin_ do you teach?” I replied, “The holy catholic
religion.” “Ah, it’s not the Roman-catholic relagin. What objection
have you to the Roman-catholic relagin?” I replied that all that I
desired was, to teach the people to repent and believe in the Lord
Jesus Christ and to lead holy lives, and that I was not going about to
argue with people about their churches. Still he insisted on my telling
him what objections I had to the Roman-catholic church.

At last I told him they violated the second commandment by the use of
images in the worship of God. But this he denied. I asked him to get
his Bible and compare it with mine. He brought out the Douay Catechism
to prove he was right, and told me that was his Bible. I got mine;
but he forbade my reading it, as it was a heretic’s Bible. I insisted
on having Bible authority for the use of images in God’s worship. As
the old man seemed to be at a loss to defend his position, one of his
daughters, a beautiful girl, presented herself before me, and said, “I
can give you Bible plenty for the use of images, and the good resulting
from the use of them. What was it that Moses put up on the pole for the
Israelites to look at when the fiery serpents bit them?” I explained
to her that the brazen serpent was set up, not to be worshipped, but
simply looked at as a type of Christ, to whom dying sinners may look
and live. But all my efforts were in vain. As I left them, she was
still asking me to repent, and come over to the true Roman-catholic
church as the only place of safety.

A few days after, the Rev. Mr. J---- requested me to visit the town
of S----, where he occasionally preached, and had made an appointment
for me to address the people at night, preparatory to visiting all the
families. He gave me a letter of introduction to one of his members,
who lived a mile from the village, and who he expected would go with
me. I came to his house near dark, almost frozen. He received me very
coldly, and neither offered me food or company. I inquired the way to
town, and soon left.

The night was dark, the snow deep, the cold intense, and I was an
entire stranger in the place. As I rode along the street, every door
and window was shut, till I came to a store. I tied my horse and
stepped in, and found a large, fine-looking man sitting by the stove
alone. By asking a few questions, I learned it was Mr. S----, the
proprietor of the town. I told him I was glad to make his acquaintance.
That I had come there at the request of the Rev. Mr. J----, to hold a
meeting that night, and to spend a few days visiting his people and
supplying them with good religious books, and I would be glad to have
his counsel and advice as to the best way to do it.

Said he, “It depends very much, sir, on the kind of religious books you
want to circulate here. I suppose you have the Confession of Faith of
the Presbyterian church among them, and I can prove that it is full of
falsehoods; and more than that, I want you to know, sir, that I have
made a promise to kick out of my house every man that comes in it that
has graduated at Jefferson College, and studied theology at the Western
Seminary.” As he closed the sentence, he stood up before me, as if he
was going to make good his promise. I requested him to wait till I
should explain my object. I told him I had no Confessions of Faith, nor
any denominational books; that they were all the books of the American
Tract Society, and approved by nearly all evangelical Christians,
and consequently not sectarian. And as to the other objection, I had
never graduated either at Jefferson College or the Western Theological
Seminary, consequently he was barking up the wrong tree. “Why,” said
he, “are you not a Presbyterian preacher?” “No, sir,” said I, “I have
not the honor to be a preacher.” He turned instantly and walked out,
leaving me alone.

I stepped to the door, and asked a little boy who was passing if there
was a Mr. G---- living in the town. “Yes,” said he, “he lives in the
adjoining house.” I stepped to the door, and was cordially greeted by
an old acquaintance. In a few minutes I was seated at a sumptuously
supplied table, which I very much needed; and an hour after was in a
school-house, holding forth to the people, with my belligerent friend
for one of my hearers. I visited all the town; but Mr. S---- carefully
avoided meeting me, always turning away to shun me; but I supplied his
family with a good stock of books.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the close of my labors in that town, I entered a very hilly region
of country, and stopped over night with a Mr. W----, an aged, infirm
man, who sent his son with me the next day to hunt up the cabins of the
poor. The son had spent some years in a roving life, and seemed totally
indifferent about religion.

In the first cabin we called at, we found a young woman in the last
stages of a decline. I have seldom seen any soul so full of joy and
peace. She talked more like an inhabitant of heaven than of earth.
While we spoke of Christ’s love, and what he had done for her, I saw
the tears course down my companion’s cheeks. When we left her he said,
“Religion is a reality.”

After visiting a few more families, we came in sight of a beautiful
farm, which lay in a valley. Mr. W---- said to me, “I will not go with
you to that man’s house. He is an unbeliever, and a shrewd fellow, and
if you talk to him on religion as you have done to others, he will get
mad, and insult you. His wife is pious; but I have heard him say that
when the preacher came to visit his family he kept out of the way,
because he did not wish to insult him; and he will certainly insult
you, if you speak to him on that subject.” Said I, “He has the more
need to be visited. Such persons are the very ones I am sent to hunt
up; but as he may take offence at you for leading me to his house, you
may fall behind, and come up after me,” which he concluded to do.

As I approached the house, I got off my horse, and took my big
saddle-bags, filled with books, on my arm, and stepped into the house.
In a few minutes all the children were in. They were fine, intelligent
children; and to my surprise, I recognized their mother as a once
dashing young lady I had known well fifteen years before; but she had
entirely forgotten me.

In a few minutes in came my travelling companion and Mr. C---- with
him; Mr. C----’s face indicating great determination and firmness. I
immediately began to hunt for a text to begin with, and chose a little
girl of three or four years old, whom I called to my side. I began to
tell her about Jesus, and what he did to save sinners, and how deeply
praying fathers and mothers felt for their dear children, whom they
would soon meet at the bar of God. I asked her if father and mother
did not pray for her. By this time the mother and the oldest daughter
were weeping freely. I asked the mother if she would not rather see
her children converted to God than any thing else. “Oh, yes,” she
exclaimed, “it burdens my heart.” I cast my eye round towards Mr. C----
and Mr. W----, and both were weeping.

“Mr. C----,” said I, “don’t you feel concerned about the souls of this
interesting group of children which God has given you to train up for
Him?” “Not as much as I ought to do.” His heart was so full he could
scarcely utter one word. Said I, “Are you not a professor of religion?”
“No, I am not. I have been a very careless man on that subject. When
I was a young man I was very much concerned for a while, but I fell
in with wicked young men, and read bad books, and I have entirely
neglected religion ever since. But I don’t know what has come over me

“I trust,” said I, “it is the Spirit of God that has touched your
heart, and I beseech you now to yield to his divine solicitations;
not to delay for one moment. If you resist the Holy Ghost now, he may
leave you for ever, and then your doom will be sealed; but if you now
give up all for Christ, you will find peace, and there may be joy in
heaven among the angels this moment.” He cried out in the agony of his
soul, “What shall I do to be saved?” I urged him to enter that night
on all the duties that God had enjoined on him; to read his Bible, and
pray for himself and family. He pledged his word to me to do it. He
kept that pledge. I prayed with him, sold him eighteen volumes of good
books, and left the whole family in tears. He soon after joined the
church; and Mr. W----, I was told, professed religion soon after, and
attributed his conversion to a day’s travel with a colporteur.

I held a prayer-meeting that night at the house of Mr. H----, a man of
remarkable piety and benevolence. He told me of an incident that marked
his whole life, and made him what he was. Said he, “I served my time
with a hard master to learn the wagon-making business. I had engaged to
go, the day I was free, some forty miles to work as a journeyman. The
evening before I was to start, a good man gave me his advice, and at
the close asked me if I had money to pay my way. I told him I had no
money, but could get there, as I was going to walk. He handed me fifty
cents, all he had, as a present. While on my way I met a poor miserable
man begging. He told me he was starving. I gave him the fifty cents, as
I had no way to divide it. Before I had gone many rods I found a silver
dollar lying on the road, over which he had stepped. I said to myself,
‘_God sent this_,’ and I determined to serve him all the days of my
life; and he has blessed me ever since.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In a few days I commenced labor along the line between Western
Pennsylvania and Western Virginia. The Rev. Mr. R---- took a deep
interest in my work, and travelled more than a week with me. Our work
made quite a stir among the people. The news spread that we were
entering every house, talking and praying.

We set a day to visit a neighborhood that was noted for its wickedness.
There were several families owning fine farms who never entered a
church. On the day set, we took an early start. As we approached the
first house, we saw all the inmates running to the barn. We knocked at
the door, but no answer. We went to the barn; but before we reached it
they were running across the adjoining field. We understood the cause,
and came back to the house, and put in at the window Baxter’s Call and
a few suitable tracts, with the earnest prayer for God’s blessing to
attend the reading of them.

We went on to the next house, but it was closed, and no one to be
found. We here also installed Baxter and several other preachers
through the window; and so on till we had visited six families.
At every one of these houses the people either fled or concealed
themselves at our approach. Mr. R---- pleasantly observed, as we
were poor men, he thought the best thing we could do for our worldly
interests would be to take possession of the property, for he supposed
they would never come to dispossess us. Great fear fell upon sinners at
our approach.

A few miles distant I held a prayer-meeting one night, and had a large
crowd. At the close, I laid my books on the table, and told them that I
would sell to any that wanted to buy. In a little time the man of the
house told me that a man had _stolen_ his pocket full; that he was a
very bad man, and we should have a fight if we attempted to take them
from him. Among them was a fine pocket Bible. So I concluded to let
them go, and pray that God would overrule his wickedness for good.

Some weeks after, while visiting along the Ohio river hills among the
wood-choppers near the same place, I called at a cabin, and found a
woman in deep distress about her soul. She told me she had got a book
that was the cause. That a man had sold it to a neighbor. They were
the fourth family that had read it, and all were concerned about their
souls. I found all the families she named, and the book thus blessed
was a copy of Baxter’s Call which that man stole from me and sold to
one of these families.


During my labors in this region I was frequently requested to
visit G----, a town that had been laid out about the close of the
Revolutionary war, and is noticed in the history of the Indian wars as
being near the scene of some bloody struggles. It contained over three
hundred inhabitants, but never had a church in it. A good man built one
near by.

The Rev. Mr. R---- sent a notice that he and I would be there on a
certain evening to hold a meeting. A few came. He preached, and I made
a statement about my work, and told them I was going to visit the town
to talk and pray with each family, and supply them with religious
books. I had engaged a class-leader in the Methodist church, who lived
a few miles distant, to go with me.

We entered the village the next morning soon after breakfast. The first
four or five houses we stopped at we could find no one at home, and
we soon found they were hiding from us. We could see heads out at
the doors and windows as we approached the house; but when we would
knock there was no answer. As soon as we understood the matter, I
told my colaborer they should not foil us in this way; that I would
install preachers in every house before I left the place. I immediately
commenced pushing in the old hats that were stuck in the broken
windows, and threw into the houses a Baxter’s Call, Alleine’s Alarm, or
a Sabbath Manual, and some of the most awakening tracts.

We spent two days in this work. With all the skill we could use, we did
not get into one third of the houses; but we put good books into every

Some few months after, a minister who was preaching near by found
many interested about their souls. He held daily meetings for some
time, and more than fifty professed faith in Christ; many dating their
first religious impressions to the silent preachers thrown into their
houses at the time of our visit. In 1861, on the railroad, I passed in
sight of this town lying across the Ohio river, and instead of the old
dilapidated village it was seventeen years before, it looked to be new
and flourishing.

At the close of my labors in that community I went to B---- county,
Va., at the request of Rev. Mr. W----, who had a large country charge
and was laid up by bad health. He requested me, in addition to
visiting all the families, to hold prayer-meetings among his people
every night. This I did for one month, and God’s Spirit seemed to be
present at every meeting. Every one I talked with seemed to be moved
by the Spirit. I sold more than $200 worth of books; and a few months
after, more than one hundred persons were added to the churches. Mr.
W---- afterwards stated that a large portion of them had been led to
consideration by reading the books we scattered among them.

He often gave me directions where to go, and what kind of people
I should find them to be. On one occasion he directed me to a
neighborhood where he had four or five families living some miles
from the church. The parents all professors, with large irreligious
families, and no family altars.

The first family of them I called on, I soon found to be but little
interested about religion. I spoke with the father as if he were
a devout praying man; but told him I had no doubt there were some
prayerless families in that neighborhood; and that God had declared
that he would “pour out his fury on the families that call not on his
name.” I spoke of the sad effect of such ungodly living on children,
and urged him to try and talk with all his neighbors about it, and to
go with me a day or two till we should try to wake up such professors
of religion. His family were present. I saw his very soul was pierced.

I visited all the families the same way. God’s Spirit seemed to stir
every soul. In a few months after, the pastor was able to visit them,
and found that each had established the family altar. Each one resolved
that he would begin to pray in his own family, and then he could go and
urge others to do the same. Neither of them supposed that I suspected
them of living without prayer till they began to compare notes; and
then they found I had talked to all the same way. They sent me their
thanks by their pastor for “catching them with guile.”

In another neighborhood, I was urged by a very good man to visit his
brother-in-law, who he told me was a wicked man, and raising a large
family like heathen. He told me that he was a gentleman in his behavior
to strangers, and would treat me kindly; but to secure for me a kind
reception, he sent with me a young man who was a nephew both of himself
and of the gentleman. The day was extremely cold, and the distance some
four or five miles. We visited several cabins along the river hills,
and expected to reach his house about noon, and remain there till the
next day.

About one o’clock we came to the place. It seemed to be the abode of
plenty. We tied our horses, and entered a large front room. Mr. C----,
the head of the family, was in it alone, shelling corn on a machine,
keeping up a hot fire by burning the cobs. His nephew introduced me to
him, but he scarce looked at me, spoke very little, and went on with
his work, without asking me even to sit down. We both sat some time
without a word being spoken, when the young man passed through into
another room, where the family were talking. As soon as I got warm,
I concluded to try and do my work and leave the house, as every thing
looked rather gloomy.

He was a big, fierce-looking man. His countenance indicated that he was
a very wicked man, which proved to be the fact. I sometimes thought it
would be best to leave him without saying any thing, but my conscience
would not let me do that. At last I said, “Mr. C----, I am engaged in
distributing good religious books, published by the American Tract
Society, and I have called to supply you and your family with them.” I
had scarcely got the words spoken, when he sprang right before me, with
his fist clinched, and called me a horse-thief and robber, and every
vile name that a vile tongue could use, interspersed with the most
awful oaths I ever heard. He rubbed his fist under my nose, and swore
he would smash my face into a jelly. I sat still for some time without
speaking, in the hope that he would stop, that I might reason with him;
but it was in vain.

At last I thought, if I am the cause of this man’s sinning so much, I
will leave him. I rose to my feet and said, “Mr. C----, if you will
stop a moment till I speak, I will leave your house. I came here at
the special request of Mr. E----, your brother-in-law, to try to do
good to you and your family. And now, sir, I warn you, that if you do
not repent you will perish. I leave a message from God to you on this
table,” placing there Baxter’s Call and a number of tracts; “and if you
reject them, they will meet you as witnesses on the judgment-day.” The
wicked man quailed, and tried to make apologies for his abuse of me;
but I told him to ask God for pardon, and not me, for I was not in the
least injured. I never saw the place or the man afterwards; but I heard
he soon went to ruin. None of the family showed their faces during the

Eighteen years have now passed since these labors were performed, and
sufficient time has elapsed for all the dust and excitement to pass
away; and on a calm review of that period of my life and labors, I
look on it as the most important of any through which I ever passed:
not in actual results, but in the development of a great system of
evangelization, which has carried salvation to thousands who had never
been reached by saving truth. A few had previously entered this field
of Christian effort for the destitute, and done much, north and west;
but this was the beginning of the work in the middle and southern
states, which has reached millions of all classes and conditions, both
bond and free. As to myself, I found it the best school I ever entered
for spiritual and intellectual improvement, and if I have since been
the instrument of any good to my fellow-men, the labors of the little
time referred to prepared me for it.

At the close of this month’s work, two gentlemen called on me one
evening, and requested me to take a walk in the village of P----. I
was soon led into a tailor’s shop, and had my measure taken; and then
from one store to another, till a fine new suit, from head to foot, was
selected, costing near fifty dollars.


April 1, 1845, I commenced my labors in the town of F----, in Western
Virginia. As soon as the object of my visit to that region was known, I
received a cordial welcome from a large majority of the people, who did
all they could to aid me in my work. Mr. P----, a young lawyer at that
time, and since governor of Western Virginia, volunteered to go with me
to every house in the town. His high position and universal popularity
made the work pleasant and successful. In three days my buggy load of
books were circulated in the village.

I immediately replenished my stock, and commenced my work in the
country among the mountains. It was like a translation from sunlight
into darkness--from a high civilization into one of ignorance and
superstition, with here and there a family of wealth and refinement.

The very broken, rugged state of the country, with a sparse population,
rendered it impossible for the people to support either schools or
churches. Consequently in many isolated communities whole families
grew up without any one knowing the alphabet, and very few places had
preaching more than once in a month, and that on a week-day in some
log cabin to a few women. I have visited as many as ten families in
succession, in one case fourteen, without finding a Bible. It will
hardly be thought strange that youth of both sexes were often found who
could not tell who is the Saviour of sinners, and that when they were
told of Christ dying for sinners, they would look incredulous and say,
we live so much out of the way that we never hear any news. They often
lived in small cabins, without any furniture but such as they made with
an axe and an auger. All they raised to eat was corn and potatoes, with
a few hogs; most of their meat being that of the various wild animals
which abounded in the mountains. They were mostly kind and hospitable,
and seemed to be sorry that they could not accommodate me better. I
shall endeavor faithfully to describe one journey, which will represent
many more.

About the time I went into that region, a new missionary circuit had
been laid out by the Methodist Protestant church through a broken
mountain country, where the gospel had never been preached; and the
Rev. Mr. C---- was appointed to go round it once in each month, which
required a ride of more than one hundred miles, most of the way by mere
bridle paths.

He had been once or twice round the circuit before I became acquainted
with him. As soon as he learned my business he invited me to go with
him. He told me the people were without books of any kind, that very
few could read, and that many of them were not half civilized; that at
one house, where he spent the night, they cut off the skirts of his
saddle to sole their moccasins, and at another the woman cut off the
tail of his overcoat to make a pair of pants for a little boy. I agreed
to go, and at the set time we filled each of our saddle-bags with
little books and tracts, and our pockets with lunch.

The first appointment was some twenty miles distant, and we had to
start the evening before. We stopped over night with a wealthy
Christian family, and fared sumptuously.

The next day we rode twelve miles to the place where he was to preach.
They had a church built of round logs. It had no floor but the ground,
and was neither chinked nor daubed, consequently it was only used in
warm weather. The house was full at the appointed hour. More than half
of the congregation were barefooted, and but few had on them more than
two garments. Most of the men came in with their guns in their hands,
and a good supply of small game they had killed by the way. The guns
were all set up in the corner of the church, and the game laid beside

At the request of Mr. C---- I conducted the service. The constant
responses and loud amens indicated the deep interest they seemed to
feel. At the close of the service I requested them to keep their seats,
and told them I would go round and give each a tract or little book.
More than half the families represented were destitute of the Bible.
The tracts and books were received with very great joy, though few
could read a word in them.

At the close we had to ride some miles to a stopping place for the
night. We found the cabin small and destitute of any seats except
stools. The beds were poles put through the corners, covered with the
skins of deers and bears. Many of the spaces between the logs were wide
enough for the dogs and cats to pass out and in at pleasure. The food
was bread made of corn ground in a hand mill, or pounded in a hominy
block. The meat was coon or opossum, and the coffee made of chestnuts.
The night was spent in self-defence against unseen foes, and in dread
of snakes. After partaking of a breakfast similar to the dinner and
supper just described, and praying with the family, we left them.

Our appointment for that day was about twelve miles distant, with a
constant succession of mountains to cross. We stopped at all the cabins
by the way, which were about like that just referred to, with one
exception; and as the house and family were different from any that I
have ever seen, I shall try to describe them.

The cabin was about eighteen feet square; had been the birthplace of
a large family; had neither floor--except the earth--upper story,
chimney, chair, table, or bed, except a pile of straw in one corner,
and an old spinning wheel and loom. The family we saw consisted of the
father, mother, and five daughters, no one of which, we supposed, would
weigh less than one hundred and fifty pounds. Each of the females had
on a single garment made of coarse linen, held on by a drawing-string
round the neck, all fleshy and hearty, while we could not see any thing
for them to live upon.

No one of them knew a letter in the alphabet, or who was the Saviour of
sinners. They were children of nature isolated from the world, equally
ignorant of both its vices and its virtues. We spent more than an hour
trying to teach them the alphabet of Christianity, and then commended
them to God. They seemed amazed at what we said; God only knows the

We reached the place where our evening meeting was to be held after
one o’clock, exhausted with hunger and heat. The cabin was but little
better than the one just described; it contained some kind of table
and a few stools, but had neither door nor floor, and cattle and hogs
ran into it to avoid the flies when they chose.

Mr. C----, whose patience was nearly exhausted, told the woman that we
were almost starved, and to hurry and get us something to eat, and to
make it as _clean_ and as good as she could. The children were sent to
borrow tools; a fire was soon blazing under an arbor made of bushes
near the house; a pail of meal set beside it, waiting for the _skillet_
to heat, out of which the hens helped themselves every time she turned
her back to them. The children soon returned with a little coffee-pot
minus the handle, and with a knife and a fork one prong lacking.

We were soon invited in to our dinner from under the shade of a tree
where we had observed the whole process. The table was a block of wood,
with four legs to hold it up, and a stool at each side for us to sit
on. Some pet pigs were under it waiting for the crumbs: they tramped
on our toes, which led us to kick them; but our kind hostess soon made
the children catch them and confine them behind my back in a big gumm,
a tub sawn off a hollow log, which treatment, from their noise, they
seemed to dislike very much.

Soon after our meal was finished the people began to gather in to hear
the gospel. The cabin was more than full, with the same appearance of
the congregation as last described. We supplied all with books and
tracts--in most cases with the first book they ever had. The night was
spent much like the previous one, food and lodging about the same.

The next morning we rode nine miles to meet another appointment at
eleven o’clock. By the time we reached the place I was so sick that
I had to lie down, while brother C---- preached to the people from
Jeremiah 6:16. At the close we supplied all with little books and
tracts, and received many thanks. The dinner was set under a shed
outside of the house, but the sight of it sent me out to the shade of a
tree so sick that I could not stand on my feet.

I then told brother C---- that I should be compelled to make my
escape to some place where I could get something to eat and take some
rest; and asked him to take all the books and give them away at each
appointment to the best advantage he could.

At two o’clock I was on my horse, which, happily for me, had been along
the road before, and was suffering from hunger as much as his rider. In
six hours he was standing at the steps of Mr. S----’s house, two miles
from the town of F----, from which we started three days before. I was
well acquainted with Mr. S---- and his family, having been frequently
there; but fever had dethroned my reason, which did not return till I
was taken in and my head bathed with cold water, and I had drank a cup
of coffee.

It was three days before I was sufficiently recovered to resume my
work. We had visited twenty-seven families, talked and prayed with them
all, given them books and tracts, and held three meetings. One half of
the people were without any part of a Bible. As for other books they
had none, and not one in ten could read a word.

I have detailed this one journey of three days not only to show the
condition of this portion of our country, but as little more than a
fair representation of destitute parts of many states in the Union.
If each colporteur of the Tract Society who has visited these dark,
broken, isolated regions of our country for the last eighteen years,
had kept a journal of all the ignorance and wretchedness he met, it
would have been the most interesting missionary journal the world ever
saw. Their reports would differ as widely as the reports of those whom
Joshua sent out to visit the promised land. While some would bring in
the rich clusters of Eshcol, others, with equal truthfulness, could say
that the land was inhabited by giants, whose walls were ignorance and

I was often reminded in my journeys of the early pioneers of our
country who went through the forests, tomahawk in hand, blazing the
trees as a signal of their intended occupancy of the land at some
future time. These visits were the Christian pioneer’s way-marks, not
blazed on the trees with axe or tomahawk, but blazed on the hearts
of men in a state of nature by kind Christian words, and sealed with
earnest prayer; while the books and tracts, including many Bibles and
Testaments, were deeds of trust to those that faithfully used them;
and many by them have secured a title to eternal life.

The books were like Jacob’s well--the digger was gone--but they have
quenched the thirst of many a weary traveller on life’s journey, and
their smoked pages are still crying, “Ho, every one that thirsteth,”
come and partake of the waters of life “without money and without
price.” A poor woman who had a small tract given her, on her death-bed
had it brought to her, when she kissed it, and said, “This led me to my
dear Saviour.”


I visited an old woman, who told me that soon after she was married
some one lent her Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion in the
Soul, and that it was the means of the conversion of herself and her
husband; that he had died happily some years ago, but she had never
been able to get a copy of the book since. I then presented her with
one, and she wept for joy. I asked her if she had a Bible; she said,
“No;” that they had a Bible when her husband died, but some time after
a little school was opened in the neighborhood, and she wanted her four
little boys taught to read, but had no books nor any way to get them,
and she had to cut her Bible into four parts to make each of them a
book, and they soon went to pieces, and she lost her Bible. I then gave
her a Bible, and her joy seemed complete.

On another occasion I sent a notice that I would be at a little church
in a certain neighborhood to aid them in organizing a Sabbath-school,
and to supply the destitute with books. After exhorting for some time,
and arranging for the Sabbath-school, I distributed all my stock, and
was about to leave.

A young woman came up to me, having just reached the place, and asked
me for a book. I told her I had given away all that I had brought with
me. She burst into tears, and said, “I left my babe, three weeks old,
in the field where my husband was hoeing corn, and walked five miles
in my bare feet to get a book; and now I am disappointed.” In a few
minutes an old woman who had seen seventy winters came to me with a
crutch under one arm, and a cane in the other hand, and told me she
had come two miles to get books for her sons, who were raising large
families over the mountains, that were as wild as the deers. I returned
soon, and gave the necessary supply.

One day a man entered my room wearing a hunting-shirt and moccasins,
with a gun in his hand and a long knife hanging to a belt at his side,
and asked me if I was the man that gave books to the poor people in the
mountains. I told him I was engaged in that business. “Well,” said
he, “we live in an out of the way place, where we have neither schools
nor preaching; and we met together last Sunday to see if we could not
raise a Sunday-school, and teach our children to read, but all the
books we could find was one New Testament; and some one said there was
a man in F---- that was giving books to the poor, and so I have come
to see you about it.” I gave him all the light I could as to forming
and conducting a Sunday-school, and added twenty Testaments, with fifty
small volumes of Tract Society books, and some tracts. He soon had them
all in the bosom of his hunting shirt, and I have seldom seen a happier

The next Sabbath the school was started. In six months a church was
organized, and soon after a little church built, and a man of God was
preaching to them once each month. That bosom full of books was the
means God blessed to this result.

On another occasion I stopped over night with a good man, who related
to me the following fact.

“A few years ago a minister came to my house late on Saturday night
on his way to preach at L----, about thirty miles distant. Finding he
could not reach the place in time to meet his appointment, he told me
if I would gather in my neighbors, he would preach for us. There were
but a few families in all this valley, and so far as I knew, he was the
first preacher that ever had been in it, at least he preached the first
sermon. I sent my boys out and gathered in my neighbors. At the close
of his sermon he gave every one a tract. Among the rest he gave one to
a poor widow with a large family, but neither she nor any one of her
children knew a letter. She took it home with her without any knowledge
of its contents.

“The next morning she returned and requested my wife to read it to
her, which she did. ‘Well,’ said she, ‘it is a nice thing to read; I
do wish I could do it.’ She took the tract home, and returned the next
day to have it read again; and during the reading, the tears ran down
her cheeks. ‘Oh,’ said she to my wife, ‘do you think I could learn to
read?’ ‘Yes,’ she said to her, ‘no doubt you can.’ So my wife got a
New England primer we had, and went over the letters a few times with
her. She took home both the primer and the tract. The next morning she
returned again, and while the tract was reading, her face was lit up
with joy, and peace came into her soul. In a few hours she was able to
repeat the alphabet. ‘And now,’ said she, ‘if you will only learn me
how to put two of them together, and give them a _name_, I can learn
myself.’ This was soon done; and as soon as she went home, she taught
her children all she had learned. In a few months she and her children
could read all that was in the primer. We have now a good church here,
and she and most of her children are members of it. She seldom sees
a tract but with tears of joy she exclaims, ‘If it had not been for
one of these little tracts, I and my children might have remained in
ignorance and sin.’”

One of the great difficulties I had to encounter was the large number
of families that could not read. These I found every day. When I
would show my books and urge them to buy, the reply was, “_Oh, none
of us can’t read._” I soon saw the necessity of planning some means
to remedy this evil, and began to establish little Sunday-schools in
each neighborhood. I would hunt up the best reader I could find for a
teacher, furnish them with a small library of books, give them the best
direction I could how to conduct it, and set them to work. Although
some of these schools were very superficially conducted, and in many
cases there was nothing done in them but teaching young and old to
read, still they had the effect of rousing the mind to the acquisition
of knowledge, and preparing the way of the Lord. Many of these schools
accomplished great things, and resulted in the establishing of little
churches. Others seemed to fail, except so far as they woke in the
minds of some a thirst for knowledge.

Some families I could not prevail on to take a book as a gift, for fear
there was some trick about it. Clock pedlars had been through some
portions of the country a while before, sold the cheap clocks at thirty
dollars apiece, and took notes for the pay, which had been collected
in many cases by distress-sales. They would tell me how they had been
treated, and that they were afraid I should send some one for the pay.
I often avoided this objection by lending the book, and writing on it,
“Loaned till I call for it.”

Another great difficulty we had to encounter with these unlettered
masses was their prejudice against education. Almost every day I had to
meet this objection: “Oh, I don’t want my children learned to read; it
will spoil them. I have got along very well without reading, and so can


I had now been about ten months in the colporteur work, and seeing the
great necessity for scores of men to engage in it, I thought I could
raise the salaries, and employ one or two others to carry it on. I
soon raised $150 to pay a man for a year, and Providence directed me
to a good man to do the work. I then succeeded in finding another good
man, and raising his salary; and in one month, by the Divine blessing,
I raised and paid over for the support of colportage $750, and these
efforts were continued till the colporteur work was extended throughout
the more destitute regions in all Western Virginia.

I had made an arrangement to visit R---- county, some forty miles
distant, and spend a month in colporteur labor. On my way I had to
cross a river by a ferry-boat. Two travellers crossed with me. When
we mounted our horses on the opposite side of the river, one of them
asked me if I was going on a long journey with such a heavy load on my
horse over that mountain country. I told him I had my horse loaded with
religious books, and some Bibles, and that I was engaged in supplying
destitute regions with the word of life, and would soon lighten my load.

“Why,” said he, “are there any families to be found without the Bible?”
Yes, I told him, there were many in all parts of our country. “Well,”
said he, “I don’t believe there is a family in my county without a
Bible.” Said I, “What part are you from?” “From Green county, Penn.”
“How far,” said I, “from the town of C----?” “Five miles,” said he.

Four weeks ago, I replied, I was there, and made an address before one
of the Presbyteries of the Cumberland church, in which I spoke of the
destitutions of our country and our mode of supplying them, when the
Rev. Mr. H---- followed me with a speech in which he said “he believed
one third of the families in C----, in which we were then assembled,
were without the Bible.” Another minister present doubted it. I told
them I was there to visit the town, and would begin the next morning.
A good man volunteered to go with me. We spent three days at the
work, and found that out of _one hundred and fifty-seven families,
fifty-four_ had no Bible.

On my way to R----, late in the evening I began to inquire for some
place where I could spend the night, as the indications seemed to
be that a hard night’s lodging was before me. As I inquired at each
little cabin, they told me that “Parson W----,” a few miles ahead,
kept lodgers. As these mountain miles are slowly measured by a tired
man and horse, I did not reach “Parson W----’s” till near nine o’clock
at night. When I entered his little cabin, he and his wife and
granddaughter were at a supper of corn-bread and buttermilk. I asked
for lodging, which was granted, and was at once invited to supper. As
soon as the parson was done eating, he went and put up my horse.

On his return, I asked him if he had any pastoral charge. “Yes,” said
he, “I built a church on my own land close by, and preach there every
other Sunday.” We were soon engaged in a religious conversation, and
my views of truth were soon tested. “Well,” said the old parson, “I
thought you was a Methodist preacher, but I find I was mistaken; but
I _guess_ you are a Presbyterian, which is no better.” Finding the old
man belonged to what was called the _Ironsides_, or rigid Antinomians,
I thought it quite useless to talk to him.

Before I could get rid of him he made me tell my business. “Well,” said
he, “you are going about plundering the country. It was the Bible,
Tract, and Missionary Societies that broke up the country in 1837 and

As I was tired, and proposed to go to bed, “Well,” said he, “there is
a bed in that corner for you.” “As you are a preacher,” said I, “of
course you have family prayer, and I would prefer waiting to join you
in it.” “Ah,” said he, “every one does their own praying here.” “Is it
possible,” said I, “that you are a preacher, and have no family prayer,
when God has said he will pour out his fury on the families that call
not on his name?” “Oh,” said he, “you may pray if you please.” Seeing
an old family Bible on a shelf, I took it down, and read a part of the
seventh of Matthew. I commented on the verse, “Strive to enter in at
the strait gate,” etc. The moment prayer was over, he said, “I don’t
believe a word you said.” I was soon in bed and asleep, being tired.

When I awoke there was a good fire, and the old man sitting beside it.
I was up in a few minutes. “I am glad you are up,” said he, “as there
is another point I must discuss with you.” In a few minutes I quoted
proofs from the Bible too clear to be resisted; when the old woman,
who was of huge dimensions, sprang out of bed in her night-dress, and
presenting herself before me, said, “Don’t talk to that fellow; he
is a Yankee, and he is setting traps to catch you.” The old man soon
disappeared to attend to his still-house and cattle, and the old woman
and granddaughter occupied the whole front of the fire, making their
toilets; the old lady, in her earnest conversation, frequently using a
long wooden fire-poker in close proximity to my head.

As the granddaughter was sitting near me, completing her toilet, I
spoke to her about her soul, and offered her the Dairyman’s Daughter.
This roused the old woman again; and the old man, returning about the
same time, forbade her to touch the book. The girl cried bitterly,
and said it was such a pretty book she did want it, and there was not
a book except the old Bible in the house. The girl’s tears prevailed,
provided I would write a receipt in it that it was paid for, which was

As soon as breakfast was over, and my horse ready, I asked for my bill.
“_One dollar_,” said the old man; “I make it a rule, when any of you
Yankees come this way, to fleece you as well as I can.” This man was
rich; had a great distillery, and I was credibly informed would take
a bottle of whiskey with him to the church, and at the close of his
services tell his people what a fine run of whiskey he had just had,
and to come and taste it.

About a month after, on my return home, I stopped to stay all night
some few miles from there, when lo, Parson W---- had stopped to stay
too; but as soon as he saw me, he ordered his horse, and left. I had
told about my lodging with him; and as the laws of Virginia at that
time imposed a fine of twenty dollars on any one who had no license
charging for lodging, some one had told the old man that I was going to
bring him before the court.


About this time an incident of peculiar interest took place. The Rev.
Mr. Q---- had invited me to visit the town of C----, and I had set a
day to be at his house. Late in the evening of the day appointed, I
arrived in the town; and while driving along the street, looking for
his house, I saw him standing on his portico, beckoning me to him.

As soon as I had alighted from my buggy, he gave me a cordial shake
of the hand, and said, “You have come just in time to see and hear
one of the greatest dignitaries in the state of Virginia.” I observed
that I was perhaps a little different from many others; that I would
not go a square to see a great man, unless he was a _great good man_.
“Well,” said he, “he ought to be a good man; he’s the bishop of the
Roman-catholic church for this state; and as he is the first live
bishop of the _Holy Catholic_ church who has ever been here, he is
attracting a great deal of attention. He preached in the court-house
this morning, and it was crowded; and he is going to preach here for
several days and nights. He has one or two priests with him, and they
have come to plant a church here. Will you go and hear him?” “Yes,”
said I; “if you go, I will go with you.”

As soon as tea was over, we went to the court-house, and it was
crowded. In a little time the bishop arose, and without any
introductory services, gave out his text: “Thou art Peter, and upon
this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it.” He went on to define “the gates of hell” as the
various Protestant sects, and wound up by trying to prove that Peter
was the first pope, and got the keys, and that the successors of Peter
still held the keys, and no one could enter heaven without going
through the Catholic church. His sermon was delivered with earnestness
and eloquence, and made a deep impression, as very few of all present
were well informed on those matters.

He made much for his cause out of the denominational strifes with which
that region had been afflicted, and I heard many say “Amen” to some of
his thrusts. He announced that he would preach the next morning from
the text, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal
life, and they are they which testify of me.”

We returned to brother Q----’s, and sat to a late hour consulting what
we had better do. Here was a man of Jesuitical cunning, misrepresenting
Protestantism before a community ill qualified to form correct
opinions. I urged Mr. Q---- to contradict some of his false statements;
and after praying over the matter, we retired.

The next morning, at the appointed hour, the house was crowded, though
there were not one dozen Roman-catholics in the community. Owing to the
crowd, Mr. Q---- and I got separated. I lost sight of him, and for want
of a seat elsewhere, got up into a window. In a little while the bishop
announced the text, “Search the scriptures,” and also announced that he
would preach at night from the text, “These were more noble than those
in Thessalonica, in that they searched the scriptures daily.”

The ground taken in this sermon was, that searching the scriptures by
the common people had led to all the religious heresies in the world,
and had raised up more sects than there were chapters in the Bible.
That there was but one true church, and out of all only one could be
right. That Protestants called Luther a great reformer, and he was told
there were no Lutherans in that town; consequently, if Luther was right
they were all wrong; and if they were right, Luther was wrong, and
could not be a great reformer.

He said the Catholic church could not be wrong; that she was
infallible; she was “the pillar and ground of the truth.” He pictured
the quarrels among Protestants in the most hideous manner, and
described a heaven full of such uncongenial characters, till the
picture was ridiculous; and I saw that many present were delighted with

At the close of his sermon, or tirade against the Protestant religion,
he sat down. I rose up in the window, much excited, to see if the Rev.
Mr. Q---- would not call him to an account, when I was much gratified
to see the meek and gentle form of Mr. Q---- slowly rising about the
middle of the house. Said he:

“Bishop, you said in your sermon last night that there were now two
hundred millions of faithful Catholic children in the world, against
which the gates of hell could not prevail. Will you be kind enough to
tell us where they are?”

The bishop rose with a half-courteous and half-disdainful smile, and
said, “You need not ask me such a question as that; the regions they
occupy are all marked on your own Protestant geographies; your little
boys in the streets can point you to them, where they have been marked
in black lines,” and took his seat.

“Well,” said Mr. Q----, “I would prefer you would name the countries to
which they belong.”

He rose again with a most indignant frown. Said he, “I suppose it would
be rather humbling to one who calls himself a preacher to go to the
little boys for information, so I will name some, at least, of the
countries that are Catholic: France, Austria, most of Germany, Hungary,
and Poland; and we shall soon have England, as part of the church there
is only separated from us now by name; and Spain and Mexico are ours
entirely;” and he took his seat again.

“Well,” said Mr. Q----, “do you think we should gain any thing as a
nation by changing our Protestant religion for that of Mexico and
Spain?” and he took his seat.

The bishop arose still more indignant in manner, and said, “I really
cannot understand what you mean, sir, unless you refer to your boasted
liberties in this country; but if that is what you mean, sir, I can
tell you I would rather go to heaven from Mexico or Spain, than to hell
from the midst of all your boasted liberties.”

By this time the audience had become intensely interested. Said I,
“Mr. Bishop, I want to ask you a few questions by way of gaining
information. If I understood you right last night, you said your church
was infallible; that it never had erred, and never could err.”

He replied very indignantly, “I said, sir, that the Catholic church
never had erred, and never could err.”

“Well, sir,” said I, “it was once right to put Protestants to death for
their religion, and of course it is still right.”

He replied, “That is a Protestant falsehood, sir; the church never put
any one to death.”

Said I, “Sir, I can prove what I say by the faithful records of

“Protestant authority--we could not admit such testimony, sir.”

“Well,” said I, “whether you admit it or not, the blood of martyred
millions is crying for vengeance, and the day of divine recompense will
erelong come.”

After a number of questions from Mr. Q---- and myself of similar
import, Mr. Q---- said, “The general opinion is that General Washington
and General Jackson died good men and went to heaven. What is your
opinion, bishop?”

He replied contemptuously, “Why, sir, we don’t pretend to know whether
they are in heaven or not; those are the secret things that belong to

“Stop, bishop,” said I, “you said last night that you held the keys
of the kingdom of heaven in your church, and that to you it was
given to open and shut the door; and I now demand of you as one of
these door-keepers, to tell us whether you have let in the immortal
Washington or not.”

In a few moments the call was coming from every part of the house,
“Tell us whether you have let Washington into heaven or not.”

The bishop tore his surplice off in a rage, and put out of the house
with one or two priests after him--the crowd following him, and calling
out, “Come back and answer the question about our beloved Washington.”
But he went on, ordered his horse, pronounced a curse on the place,
closed his meetings, and left the town. The excitement of the crowd was
most intense.


I had now been in my second year of labor for some months, during which
I had made some long journeys, and seen some hard service.

I made an arrangement with Mr. M----, a very intelligent gentleman whom
I had employed a few months before as a colporteur, to accompany me.
The whole tour required us to travel near four hundred miles. More than
two thirds of the way the country was wild and romantic, the population
sparse and rude. Few thought it safe to go unarmed.

On the day set I met Mr. M---- at C----, where he resided. To my
surprise he had provided a pistol for each of us. With some persuasion
I took one, but soon got it to the bottom of my saddle-bags.

The first day we reached W----, where we found a young preacher who
had been waiting there some days for an escort over the same route,
fearing to travel the road alone. We all started in company early the
next morning, with the understanding that we had to reach G----, a
new county-town thirty miles distant, or lodge in the woods. Nothing
special occurred that day, except that an enormous rattlesnake crossed
the road before us and frightened our horses. We called at the door of
all the cabins we saw, and preached Christ to the people, and gave them
books. We reached G---- late in the evening, and found a pious lawyer
who had just moved there, and owned the only Bible in the place. There
were not a dozen families in it. By breakfast-time the next morning we
had supplied him with a neat Sunday-school library, which he used to
great advantage.

We were told we must ride thirty-five miles the next day, over mountain
paths, to reach a place of lodging--that there was one house at thirty
miles, but by all means to avoid that house. The reasons I cannot give;
nor an account of the dinner we _tried to eat_ that day.

As the weather was excessively hot, we left G---- by six in the
morning. We soon overtook a young man who was going some miles our
way, and agreed to be our guide as far as we went together. We found
him totally ignorant of sin, or a future state. He did not know whether
he had ever seen a Bible or not. Though he had heard men preach, and
seen them with a book in their hand, he could not tell what book it
was. He told us his father was a county surveyor, and, he thought, a
member of the church. I gave him a Testament and some tracts, which he
looked at with amazement.

About ten o’clock we came to a number of men at work cutting timber out
of the road, that had been blown down by a storm. On inquiry, we found
eleven families represented, only one of which had a Bible. One or two
others had lost their Bibles by having their cabins burnt. We supplied
all with books, and left one or two reading for all the rest.

The want of dinner and the excessive heat of the sun brought on me sick
headache, and by four or five o’clock I could scarcely sit on my horse.
I told my companions it would be impossible for me to reach the house
we were directed to, and let the consequence be what it would, I should
be compelled either to lie out, or lodge in the vile den of which we
had been warned. The brethren seemed much alarmed, but said they would
not leave me. Several times I had to alight, to prevent falling from my
horse. Being thus detained, we only reached this dreaded place about

There was a very large grazing farm, and a large double log-cabin about
the centre, with every appearance of plenty. As we drew near the house
we saw quite a number of men at work haying in a large meadow. Every
one seemed to be drunk. Such swearing and hallooing I had never heard.
Our prospects looked gloomy.

We rode up to the door, and found the landlord under the same influence
as those in the field. When we asked for lodging he seemed glad to have
customers, and soon had our horses cared for.

In a little time all the drunken rabble on the place were gathered to
the house, but such a set of men I have never seen before or since.
Supper was soon ready, and all invited in. The food was very rough, but
abundant. I was too sick to partake of it.

After supper I told the landlord that I was very sick, and must go to
bed; but as we were all religious men, and accustomed to pray in our
families night and morning, if he was willing, we would have prayers.
The very announcement produced silence in a moment, as if some strange
thing was about to happen. I requested him to bring all into the house
that would come, and in a few minutes the house was well filled. I
called on one of the brethren to read and pray; and soon after I was in
bed, unconscious of all around me till morning, when I awoke as well as

As soon as we were dressed I called on the old man to get our horses.
“Oh no, you must stay for breakfast, and pray again,” said he. “Well,”
said I, “if you will bring all in to prayers now, we will attend to
worship with pleasure.” In a little time the whole household was
present. I read a portion of Scripture, and made the most earnest
exhortation I could possibly do, and prayed. A more solemn audience I
never addressed.

As soon as breakfast was over, our horses were ready, when I asked the
old man for our bill. “Not one cent, sir,” said he; “you have _prayed
plenty_ to pay for every thing you got. Every time you come this way
stop and get all you want, and pray, and it sha’n’t cost you a cent.”
We supplied all present with a book or tract, and left well pleased on
the whole with our visit.

During the day we called at all the cabins on our way. At one I found
a man who told me he was seventy years old, had seldom heard a sermon,
but that he had felt much concern about where he would be _in the next
world, if there was one_. He said he never had a Bible, but would like
to get one very much. I gave him a Testament and tracts. He seemed very
thankful, and listened with great attention to all I had time to say.

At another house the woman told me they had a Bible, and plenty of
religious books. I asked to see what kind of books they were. When she
presented the stock, it consisted of an old copy of the history of
George Washington. She believed it to be a Bible, as no one about the
house knew a letter.

The same day we met a very aged man riding on a poor little pony, with
a small bag of meal under him. I handed him some tracts, for which he
was very thankful, when the following dialogue occurred.

“Have you any preaching in this mountain country?” “Sometimes we have.”
“Are you a professor of religion?” “Yes, I have been a member of the
church forty years.” “How are you supplied with religious books?”
“Well, we _haven’t got none_ but two or three spelling-books that I
sent for many years ago to teach my children how to read.” “Have you no
Bible in your house?” “No, I never had one. I have been trying to get a
Testament for some time at the store; but it costs seventy-five cents,
and I am not able to raise the money.” This was the regular price of a
small Testament in that region at that time, and seldom to be got even
at that price.

Said I, “Is it not hard to live the life of a Christian without the

“Yes,” said he, “but I can’t help it; for even if I was able to buy
one, it could not be got nearer than C----, which is forty miles
distant. I never expect to be rich enough to buy a whole Bible.”

My soul was stirred within me, and I drew out my pocket Bible, a fine
copy which I had received as a present, and gave it to him. He looked
for a moment at me with surprise, when the tears gushed from his eyes,
and he exclaimed, “I am now rich and happy.” This man was seventy-five
years old, and trembling on the brink of the grave. This is a true
picture of many cases found by colporteurs. I never felt so well paid
or so happy as when I gave that man my only Bible.

During this whole tour of five weeks’ travel, many a scene similar to
those described occurred; while, on the other hand, I visited villages
and towns where I found fine churches and able ministers, with highly
cultivated pious congregations. In this tour I raised over $500 in
donations, and employed three excellent colporteurs, one of whom
labored nine years. I met the most cordial coöperation from Christians
and philanthropists everywhere I went. All said, “This is just what we
need in this sparsely populated mountain country.”


While on this tour I visited the town of L----, near the centre of
Western Virginia, and made arrangements to remove there in a few weeks.
There are few towns of the size which I have ever visited where I have
met with a more noble people. There was wealth, intelligence, and
the highest degree of refinement. This town became the centre of my
operations for three years.

The distance we had to go in moving there was about one hundred and
fifty miles, up and down mountains most of the way, with scarce any
thing like a road in many places: a family of five, two of them
children, in a one-horse carriage, with the necessary equipage for such
a journey.

On the afternoon of the third day we began to ascend the Cheat
mountain, which required nine miles travelling to reach its summit,
and eight miles down the other side to its base, with only one house
all the way, and that on the top of the mountain, called at that time
“the mountain house of entertainment.” It was a large rude log-house,
without comfort. By the time we reached the top of it I found my horse
very much fatigued, and the sun about setting. We concluded we could
not descend the mountain that night with safety, as there was no moon,
and the whole way was through a dense pine forest.

When we came to this house on the very top of the mountain, we found a
number of covered wagons that belonged to families moving westward, and
a crowd of people of all colors about the house. I asked for lodging.
“Yes,” said the landlord, “lodging plenty!” My family went into the
house, and I went to see my horse taken care of. On my return I found
them without any place to sit down. After looking through the house,
and finding but two or three apartments, and such a crowd of people, I
asked the landlord how he would lodge us all. “Oh,” said he, “you can
lie down a few at a time, and soon as you get asleep I can stand you up
against the wall.”

Though it was in September, and very warm in the valleys, yet it
was cold on the top of this mountain, and we were all shivering. I
asked the landlord, who by this time was playing the violin for our
entertainment, to make us a little fire. But there was neither wood nor
supper. The females were stowed away in one room for the night, and the
rest lay on the floor or sat by turns till the morning came.

As we had no toilet to make in the morning, we were on the way down the
mountain at an early hour. The first house we reached was a log-house,
where they kept entertainment. All was neat and clean. We called for
breakfast; and while it was preparing, we had our morning devotions,
which had been noticed by the landlady. When we came to our excellent
breakfast, she asked me to christen her children, of which she had
quite a number. I told her I was not a preacher, and had no authority
to administer ordinances. She insisted most earnestly that I must do
it; that no one had ever prayed there before, and she did not see any
reason why any praying man could not christen children; that they
had been living there for years, and never heard a sermon or seen a
preacher as they knew of; and if I would only do it, they would not
charge me one cent for breakfast. After preaching them the best sermon
I could, and giving a good supply of little books, we went on our way.
In two more days we reached L----, our place of destination, in safety,
and in a few hours had a house rented and were living in it.

For three years I travelled almost constantly; sometimes in a buggy,
but mostly on horseback, making from six to eight thousand miles each
year, distributing tracts and books in cabins and mansions, collecting
money, and employing men, till I had the cooperation of _over fifty
colporteurs_. The many interesting facts and incidents which occurred
during these years would fill a large volume. A very few of them I
shall attempt to relate.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Mr. W----, whom we had employed for some years, a man of much more
than ordinary piety and qualifications for the work, while visiting in
the mountains, came to a poor cabin occupied by a man, his wife, and an
only son. They were very poor. The father made his living by grubbing,
and took the boy with him to pick the brush, he being at this time
about sixteen years old. They carried home their wages on their backs,
mostly in some kind of food. The mother made what she earned by her
spinning-wheel; and while at that, had taught her son to read the
Testament, though she was not religious. Mr. W----, after talking and
praying with them, gave this boy a copy of Baxter’s Call, which was the
means of his conversion. Before he could join the church, the neighbors
aided in getting him a suit of clothes.

He immediately set about to improve himself in every possible way.
There was no school near; and if there had been, he had no means to go.
His first efforts in learning to write were, by copying the letters
out of a book with his finger in the snow. He borrowed and read all
the books he could get, and attended a little church where there was
preaching once each month.

About two years afterwards I received a letter by some private way from
this same boy, D. W. S----. On opening it, I made out its contents with
some difficulty. It was an application to become a colporteur. In the
letter he referred me to the Rev. Mr. R----, who lived in town. I went
to him, showed him the letter, and asked him if he knew the writer. He
laughed: “Yes, very well; I received him into the church. D---- is a
good boy, but he is without education, and knows nothing of the world;
he has never been ten miles from home in his life.”

I wrote the young man a kind letter, saying I hoped he would make a
colporteur some day, and advised him to go to school a while.

The next thing I heard from him was a rap at my door. When I opened the
door, an awkward-looking youth near six feet high stood before me, with
the same suit of clothes on him he had got over two years before. The
pants were several inches too short, and the coat-sleeves as deficient;
indeed, the coat was little more than a big patch on his back. Said he,
“I am the _fellow_ that wrote you a letter about wanting to _colport_,
and I have come to see about it.” I invited him into the house. He was
all in a tremor of excitement. When I opened the parlor door he looked
in with amazement, and in walking to a seat avoided stepping on the
white spots in the carpet, which was the first one he ever saw. He was
so embarrassed he could scarcely speak.

After talking a little while about crops, etc., he became composed.
He then told me his desires to do good, and all about his conversion,
which was entirely satisfactory. As it was late in the evening, I
invited him to stay for the night; and by the time we got his poor
old pony of a horse, not worth five dollars, put away, tea was ready.
When he sat down he looked confused. I had much conversation with him
that evening. At length I invited him up stairs to bed. On the way up
he held by the railing to avoid treading on the narrow carpet in the

In the morning he was up whistling psalm tunes bright and early. As
soon as I was dressed I called him and told him I had reflected over
the matter very carefully, and had come to the conclusion that his
want of education and knowledge of the world would not justify me in
employing him.

I saw his countenance change in a moment and the tears start in his
eyes. “Oh,” said he, “_I do want you to give me work, for I do feel
that all I want to live for is to work for Christ._”

I cannot describe my feelings as he uttered these words. Here was a
depth of devotion beyond any thing I had met. After some minutes’
silence I said to him, “There is a region of country on the head-waters
of the Elk river where there never has been any preaching; if you will
go there a month without any commission, I will see you are paid.”

His countenance was changed in a moment, and lit up with joy. In less
than two hours I had a pair of colporteur’s saddle-bags filled with
books and tracts, and he was on his journey to that destitute region,
some forty miles distant. Soon after, some stock raisers who had been
in that region buying cattle, told me they heard that the Tract Society
had a great man out there; that the people were wonderfully pleased
with him; that he was giving them books, and teaching them to read them.

At the end of the month he returned, all his stock had passed into the
hands of the people, and he gave me a glowing account of the people’s
wants and his success. He said it would take another month to get over
that region, and he wanted to go back. After aiding him to dispense
with his boy clothes, I started him with another load of books,
cautioning him to avoid showing off his new suit as much as possible.

Another month’s work was done with great success, when he returned
almost a new boy in his whole appearance. He had gained confidence by
being constantly among people that did not know as much as he did.

I then had him commissioned for P---- county, a very mountainous
region, and very destitute of the means of moral improvement. In a few
months he had visited every family in the county. In many families the
bare mention of his name will start tears in the eyes of the people,
and the tracts that he distributed have been sewed together and covered
with deerskin as remembrances of the man that left them.

Often through the day when he would come in sight of a cabin, he would
alight from his horse and kneel in the woods and plead with God for
success in his visit.

He next visited the counties of M---- and R----, two large counties,
with remarkable success. By this time he became a fine-looking young
man, and by his constant application to reading the books as he rode
along, he had become an intelligent, spiritual Christian.

We then sent him to the large county of P----, where there was in
portions of it a high degree of intelligence and refinement.

In a few months he was licensed to preach the gospel. He married a lady
of high moral worth, and settled in the county of H---- over four weak
churches. In two and a half years he received over two hundred persons
into the church on profession of their faith; then took typhoid fever,
with which he soon died in the triumphs of a living faith.

Since his death I have met with five young men, who are now ministers
of the gospel, who had been led to Christ by his labors, all of whom
speak of him as an extraordinary man in point of piety and usefulness.

Here was a boy that in all probability would have lived and died in
ignorance and sin if he had not been found by a colporteur. He has
often put his hand on my shoulder, and said with tears in his eyes,
“Brother C----, if it had not been for the Tract Society, I should have
been a poor grubber to-day, on the way to death and ruin.”

The great secret of his success was his untiring zeal and industry.
He read and studied on his saddle; the shades of the forest were his
closet in the summer, and the cleft of some mountain rock in the
winter. His congregations were mostly ignorant families, and his
rostrum a three-legged stool in the corner. All his talents were put to
use in the Lord’s work, and no doubt he has his reward. Reader, go thou
and do likewise, and receive a like gracious reward.

On a Saturday evening while on my way to meet a Sabbath appointment,
while descending a mountain, I met a man on his way home from mill,
and offered him some tracts. “Oh,” said he, “they are of no use to me,
for I can’t read, and I have no one about me that can.” I asked him
if he had a family. “Yes, I have a wife and seven children.” “It is a
great sin,” said I, “for you to raise a family in such ignorance.”
“Oh,” said he, “there is so much harm in books, they are better without
them.” I handed him two or three tracts, and told him to get some one
to read them to him. One of them was, Fifty Reasons for Attending
Public Worship. He took them, and when he got home showed them to
his wife. “Oh,” said she, “we will be ruined now. I’ll bet that is a
warrant that Middleton has got the sheriff to serve on you, and we will
lose our land.” They spent a sleepless night, and early next morning
they went to the nearest neighbor and told him they had got into sad
trouble about their land; that Middleton had served a warrant on them,
and here it was.

The tracts were presented to a man who was a class-leader in the
Methodist church, and was my informer near a year after this
occurrence. He took the first one, “Fifty Reasons for Attending
Public Worship.” “Well,” said he, “this is a warrant, but not sent
by Middleton, but from the court of heaven. God has sent you this,
as you never go to church; and now you see how you have exposed your
ignorance by not being able to read, not knowing the difference between
a sheriff’s writ and a religious tract; and I do hope you will now
attend church, and have your children taught to read.” “Now,” said
my informer, “this man and his wife are both members of the church,
and they are sending their children to school as the result of the
influence of those tracts.”

On one occasion I left home by a stage-coach before daylight on a long
journey. We stopped after ten miles to take other passengers. As usual,
the way-bill was taken into the stage-office to enter their names. A
man was in the office who had travelled near one hundred miles to see
me at L----. Seeing my name on the way-bill, he asked if that was the
man that was the _tract_ agent. About that time I stepped in to warm
myself and distribute tracts, when some one acquainted with me told him
I was the agent. He then told me how far he had come to see me, and
how near he was to miss me, all the time interlarding his conversation
with oaths, to the great amazement of all present who knew the nature
of my work. When he was through, I told him I would tell him the nature
of the work in a few words: that he must get a good horse and a large
pair of saddle-bags, fill them with books, and ride over these rugged
mountains, and live on hard fare. With an awful oath he said he could
stand all that with any fellow about the diggins. In addition to that,
said I, you must read the Bible, and pray at every house. I never saw
a man so utterly confounded, while those present were convulsed with
laughter. I gave him a few tracts, and talked to him till he wept like
a child. Although I never heard of the man again, I have hope that the
conversation was not in vain.


About this time I held a Colporteur Convention in C----, in which
a number of colporteurs were present. The meeting was one of deep
interest. Many facts were brought out in relation to the wants of that
region, and the good resulting from the work, that were of the most
cheering character.

During the three days of our meetings, an old man was present who
was but little known to any that were there. When about to close the
convention, I said that if any one present wished to give us a word of
advice or exhortation we should be glad to hear it, when this old man
rose, trembling with diffidence, and said:

“As soon as I heard of this meeting I made up my mind to attend it; and
now I want to tell you what this Society has done for me. My name is
C----. Ten years ago I was considered the wickedest man in this county.
I was a profane drunkard. One day while at S----, about four miles
above this place, old Mr. R----, who was always distributing tracts,
handed me one with the word _Eternity_ in large letters at the head of
it. I was the worse for liquor at the time, and on my horse to go home,
which was about fifteen miles distant. On my way I took the tract out
of my hat to read it. My attention got fixed on the word _Eternity_,
and I became alarmed about my state as a sinner. By the time I got home
I was nearly sober. I read and reread the tract till I had it committed
to memory. For near two weeks I had no rest. At last my distress became
so great that I did not want to live. One day I was tempted to go away
to the woods and destroy myself. While there I thought of praying, for
the first time, and fell down on my knees and cried, ‘God be merciful
to me a sinner.’ In a moment I felt relief, and went home with a joyful
heart, and told my family all about the matter. I read the tract to
them, and began to pray with and for them. In six months I had a little
church built on my land, and a missionary there to preach once each
month, and myself, wife, and six of my children and eight servants were
members of it; and here is five dollars, all the money I have in the
world, to aid in giving good books to others.” All present were bathed
in tears at this recital.

As soon as he was seated, another man arose and said “he supposed
all present had heard of Father B----, who died a few weeks ago,
and many, no doubt, remember when he was a terror in the community.
He had remarkable bodily powers, and could whip any man in all the
country round. When the county of L---- was laid off, there was a
violent contest about where to build the court-house; and the two
parties agreed that B---- and another bully should decide the matter
by a fist-fight, and B---- gained the site where that court-house now
stands. He was often brought up at the court for assault and battery,
and had crippled some men for life. Judge S---- on one occasion, when
passing sentence on him, said, ‘B----, you have become too bad a man to
live, and if ever you come before me again convicted of crime, I will
make you suffer for it most severely. If you would improve the mind God
has given you, you might be a blessing to the world; but now you are
a disgrace. Here is a tract, ‘The Fool’s Pence;’ take and read it, and
may God lead you by it to be a better man.’ That tract was the means of
his conversion, and for the last fifteen years of his life he was one
of the most successful preachers in South-western Virginia.”

Another fact was brought out at this meeting by the Rev. Mr. W----,
who labored for some time as a colporteur in the county of W----. He
entered a large settlement where there never had been any preaching,
schools, or distribution of books. The Sabbath was the special day for
frolicking and dissipation. In the house where he lodged on Saturday
night, the family were busy preparing to go to a shooting-match the
next morning. All he could say had no effect on them. After praying
God to guide him in his duty, he determined to go with them. When they
came to the place, a large collection of all classes were present, with
a great number of articles to gamble for in different ways. He told
them, as it was the Lord’s day, he would unite with them in prayer
for God’s blessing. He prayed earnestly, and then told them that if
they would give him their attention he would preach to them. They
seemed confounded at this remark, and all remained silent as death. He
announced his text, and preached with unusual liberty. The attention
was solemn, and they looked at one another with amazement. He then
distributed among them his remaining stock of books and tracts, and as
he was very unwell, went home. Soon after the news spread that some
people in that region were concerned about their souls. A preacher
visited them, and soon had a good congregation gathered, and over
twenty converts. Sunday frolicking was abandoned, and many were led to
observe the Lord’s day.

The same man stated another fact, which occurred in J---- county.
While visiting in one of those sparsely populated regions, he came
to a very large farm. He found the family to consist of the father,
mother, and twelve children, the youngest about eight years old. The
man was wealthy in land and stock, but to his surprise no one knew a
letter in a book. After talking to them about their relations to God
and eternity, he asked the father why he did not have his children
taught to read. The old objection was raised at once, that they learned
enough of _bad_ without books; that he had got along very well without
reading, and so could his children.

He then began to read to them, showed them the pictures in the Alphabet
of Animals, and read them some account of them. Several of the children
said, “Oh, I wish I could read.” He then gave them one or two books and
some tracts. A few months after he was coming back the same way, and
called to pay another visit. “Well,” said the old man, “you have give
me a _purty lot of trouble by leaving them books here_. I had no peace
till I got a man to come and _larn_ them to read them.” So sure enough
the teacher was there, and now they bought more books freely.

In travelling through a wild mountain region, where I was a total
stranger, I came to a small village of about a dozen houses, with a
little store and tavern. Before I reached it, I heard men hallooing in
the most boisterous manner. When I drove up weary to the public-house,
I was surrounded with such a set of savage-looking men as I never had
seen before, and all intoxicated. Every man had on a hunting-shirt,
with a belt round him, to which hung a long butcher-knife. I felt
afraid of the men, I must confess, and would have been glad to have
been elsewhere, especially as my buggy and trunk seemed to attract
rather too much attention.

After I had got food for myself and horse, and laid round some tracts
as quietly as possible, I started, hoping to reach a point near twenty
miles distant that night. Some part of the way I was told the road was
very good, but mostly rough and mountainous.

As soon as I was out of sight, I drove rapidly, and made the first five
miles in an hour, when I began to breathe easier.

But all at once I heard the most unearthly yelling behind me that had
ever greeted my ears. My horse was frightened, and tried to run off. In
a few moments I heard the clatter of horses’ feet, and concluded all
was over with me. In a moment I was surrounded with some eight or ten
of the most desperate looking men, and told to stop; that they wanted
to know what I was loaded with. I told them I was loaded with good
religious books, which I was distributing among people that had none.
I was then ordered to give them all up to them, and they would scatter
them on the other side of the mountain, for there were no books over
there. I told them I knew they were too generous to take all that I had.

I then told them to listen to me, and I would tell them what the books
taught. So I began and preached them the most earnest sermon that I
ever preached. One of them said, “Give me your hand, sir, for I never
had a preacher by the hand in my life.” I held his hand firmly, and
preached on, although the muzzle of his gun was frequently in very
dangerous proximity to my person.

It was evident they began to feel uneasy under my wayside sermon, and
for fear they would leave me without tracts, I began the distribution,
and gave each one a number of the most suitable I could find. They
invited me to come over the mountains and preach, and I would get
plenty to come and hear me. Some of those tracts were found more than
a year after by one of our colporteurs, carefully preserved and highly


Another case that seemed more threatening than the last mentioned,
occurred soon after in the county of G----. I was on my way to meet a
Sabbath appointment. About two o’clock I came to a river which was much
swollen by the late rains. The man who kept the ferry-boat lived on the
opposite side of the river, where some four or five men were pitching
quoits and making a great noise. I called a number of times before they
even condescended to answer me; and when they did answer, it was with
curses, telling me they would come when they were ready. I had then
sixteen miles to go to B----, the place where I expected to lodge. They
kept me waiting two hours before they came with the boat, consequently
it was late when I got over. They were drunk and very profane, charged
me four prices, and cursed me for troubling them. I gave them some
tracts, and the best advice I could.

Soon after I met two women: one seemed to be about thirty, and the
other sixty years old. I offered them some tracts, which they at first
declined, for fear I might be the sheriff. Neither knew a letter, or
could tell who was the Saviour of sinners.

Soon after I passed them a terrible rain came on, and the roads were
so deep my horse could scarcely draw my buggy. I saw night would soon
overtake me, and the prospect of lodging looked unfavorable. I stopped
at a cabin by the roadside to inquire the way, and leave some tracts.
A man came out who looked as if he was ready for any crime, and came
right up to my buggy, and began to look in with a scrutinizing eye. He
either could not or would not give me any satisfaction about the road.
After an earnest exhortation about his soul, I gave him Baxter’s Call.
All the conduct of the man was of a very suspicious character.

It was now late, and raining hard, and in a little time would be very
dark. I drove on as fast as possible, until it began to get quite dark,
when I met a man on the road walking; whether he was a white man or
not, I could not tell. I stopped him to inquire if there was any place
near where I could lodge. He immediately began to examine the inside of
my buggy as fully as the darkness would permit. He told me there was a
man on the other bank of the creek, about half a mile ahead of me, who
kept lodgers, and that it was a good place to stop. I handed him a book
and thanked him, and drove on, he following a short distance, asking me
questions which were not calculated to allay my anxiety.

I soon reached the creek, which seemed to be very high and rapid, and
it was so dark I could see no object on the other side of it. The road
entered by a narrow ravine, and there was no way to back out. I lifted
my heart to God for protection, and drove in. In a moment the water was
up in my buggy, but thanks to God, I got through safely, and in a few
moments my horse was standing by the door of a miserable cabin.

I called, and a man came out with a torch of pine-knots in his hand. He
was both dirty and ragged. I asked him where the man lived that kept
lodgers. “Oh,” said he, “I am the man that keeps tavern here.” My
prospects were bad, but I could get no further. I asked him to put up
my tired horse and feed him. He had no stable but a rail-pen, no feed
but some sheaves of green wheat. He took me to another cabin about
fifty yards distant, that was as dark as a dungeon, except so far as
his torch gave us light. Although it was warm, I requested him to make
me a fire, which he did with reluctance.

After some time I was invited to the first cabin to supper. The man and
his wife and children, as well as the supper, were all dirty in the
extreme. I attempted to eat, but in vain. As soon as the man finished
his meal, we returned to the other cabin, where I conversed with him.
He was a total stranger to the simplest truths of the Bible.

I asked him if he knew any thing of the celebrated Lucas family of that
county. “Oh yes,” said he, “they live all round here. Did you not meet
a man as you came along to-night about the top of the hill over the
creek?” I said yes. “Well, that was one of them, and I wonder they let
you pass so late in the evening. That one, and the one that lived in
the house you last passed were the two implicated in killing the man
for which one of their uncles was hung at Giles court-house, and if
I had given in my testimony, they would have been hung too; and I am
afraid they will kill me, because I know all about it.”

By this time I was considerably alarmed. The conclusion I came
to was that they were all linked together, and that I was in the

I then inquired all about old Randal Lucas, who was the father of two
that had been hung, and some others that were in prison, and was the
grandfather of the two he had just been telling me about. He gave me a
full history of the old man, much of which cannot be told. “But,” said
he, “such a man you never saw. He is ninety years old. When he puts on
a suit of clothes, he never takes it off till it is worn out. In the
winter he lies in the ashes, and in the summer he lies down in the mire
like a hog.” This is confirmed in Howe’s History of Virginia, which
relates how he sat under the gallows eating gingerbread while his sons
were hung. I refer the reader to that history for an account of this
wonderful man and his family.

The manner in which he told the whole story was any thing but pleasant
to me. He began to get sleepy, and told me he would hold the pine-light
while I got into bed up on the _loft_, as he called it. The only way
to get up was by a ladder made of a pole split in two, with rounds put
into it. I climbed up, and he followed me with the torch. As soon as I
got to the bed over the loose boards that covered the floor, and found
an old split-bottom chair, which I expected to use in self-defence
before morning, I told him to withdraw.

I lay down without undressing, after committing my soul, family, and
all my interests to God, without much hope of seeing the light of
another day. No one occupied the house but myself as a bedroom. I kept
watch till morning, and when any unpleasant sound was heard, I made
noise enough to let any one approaching know that I was awake.

As soon as it was light I was up to see to my poor horse, which was
standing in mud and water six inches deep, without food. After getting
him some more green wheat in the sheaf, and a little corn bread for
myself, and talking and praying with the family, I left them. I cannot
say whether there was any intention to rob me or take my life. I hope
there was not.

When I was about two miles on my way, and was rising a mountain where
the road was scarcely six inches wider than my buggy, a man met me,
riding a poor old horse without a saddle, all in rags and dirt, with
nothing on him but remnants of a torn shirt and pants, with a rope tied
round his waist, and a bottle of whiskey in his bosom. Such a looking
piece of humanity I had never seen before. In a moment I concluded
this is certainly old Randal Lucas. I saw he could not pass me on that
narrow road, and I determined to have a full talk with him. When we met
he tried to keep the upper side of the road, and get between my horse
and the steep bank.

“Good morning, sir,” said I. “Good morning,” said he, in a very
unnatural tone of voice. “Don’t you want some good books to read this
morning?” “No, I don’t want any; I can’t read.” “Do you go to church?”
“No, I don’t care about church.” “Well, sir,” said I, “you are an old
man and must soon go to the other world.” “Yes, I am ninety years old.”
“Is it possible,” said I, “you are so old?” “Yes, I can prove it.”
“You would find but few witnesses to prove that by.” “Well, I can swear
it then.” “Well, sir,” said I, “what do you think will become of you
when you die?” “O well, I _doesn’t_ care any thing about that.” “Can
you tell me who is the Saviour of sinners?” “I don’t know any thing of
_them_ things.” “Well, sir, who made you?” “Why, I suppose it was God
Almighty.” “What is your name, sir?” “Randal Lucas.” “Well,” said I,
“I thought so,” straightening myself with a determined look. “Well,
sir, you say you don’t go to church, and I must tell you in the name of
my Master, that if you don’t repent you will soon be in hell. I have
read and heard of you, sir, for years, and you stand on the brink of
eternal burnings, and your soul stained with every crime that a man
could commit.” He began to look frightened, and tried to pass me; but I
kept my position, and for some minutes laid down the terrors of the law
in the strongest language I could use, and then gave him some little
books and tracts. He trembled like an aspen leaf.

A few weeks afterwards he took up the idea that he was soon to die, got
a coffin made, tried it to see if it would fit, paid for it, and set it
up in his cabin--sent for a preacher, told him he was going to die and
did not know what would become of him, and asked him to pray for him;
offered him fifty cents, and said, “Pray on till my money is done.” The
money was of course refused. In a few days the poor wretch died as he
had lived, leaving a host of children the descendants of unnatural and
brutal connection.


Travelling in a mountainous region at nightfall of a tempestuous day,
and having lost my road, I was directed for a lodging to “Squire
D----’s, who keeps the ferry.” After supper, I had a pleasant talk
with the father of Squire D----, on whose head the snows of eighty
winters had fallen, and soon the family were gathered round us, engaged
in delightful converse. I inquired as to the high-handed wickedness
of a neighborhood not far off, where I had heard that meetings were
frequently held in mockery of religious worship:

“Yes, yes,” said the squire, with just enough of the Welsh accent to
betray his origin, “and our neighborhood here was just as bad ten years
ago; we were all alike: no church, no preacher, no Sunday-school, no
day-school. One evening a minister and a young lady stopped at my house
for the night; I thought them very inquisitive people. They asked if
we had any preaching. ‘No.’ Any schools? ‘No; we have had several
teachers, but no one will stay more than a quarter with us.’ The young
lady said she would come and take a school among us, if we would employ
her. After some further conversation, I told her I would see what could
be done, and write her the result. Next morning they left for the
minister’s home at M----, some fifty miles distant.

“In a short time I had a school made up and board engaged for the new
teacher, and wrote her to that effect. She came and commenced her
school at the time appointed. But soon there was complaint that the new
teacher _read the Bible and prayed in her school_. And her troubles did
not cease here. The man at whose house she boarded insisted that she
should leave, because she prayed, sung hymns, and would keep talking
about religion all the time. Miss H---- then set out to look up another
home for herself; but she met the same reply from all: ‘We cannot
receive you unless you leave off praying and singing.’

“When she applied to me, I objected on the same grounds. Finally, I
told her if she would come on my own terms, I would take her into
my family. She inquired what those terms were. ‘Why,’ said I, ‘you
shall have such a room to yourself; there you are to stay from the
time you return from school until you start to go back, only when you
come to your meals: you must not sing hymns; you may pray as much as
you please, but mind you don’t let us hear you at it; and _remember_,
the first time you infringe this contract, you leave the premises.’
To all this she agreed, with as much meekness as if my terms had been
reasonable and right. That evening she took up her abode under my roof;
and little did I think what a blessing God was sending me in that
frail, delicate girl.

“The children all loved the new teacher very much. So one day she told
them to ask their parents’ permission, and if _they_ were agreed, she
would teach them on Sunday too. This proposal pleased us all. If she
taught on Sunday, that was so much clear gain to us.

“I soon observed that my children took to staying in the teacher’s room
much of their time. At length, one Sunday morning, they came down with
some tracts; I looked over them, and found they were on the subject of
religion. Ah, said I, my lady, I’ve caught you now. I called her down,
told her she had violated her contract, and must be off. The poor girl
began to weep; I felt ashamed. ‘Dear sir,’ said she, ‘will you read
those tracts? If you do, and still continue in your present mind, I
will leave your house immediately.’

“Here was a pretty fix; the children were all crying, and begging me
not to send Miss H---- away; and the books, Oh, they could not part
with the books. I was mightily perplexed; at last I gave in. Said I,
‘Miss H----, you may go back to your room; I will consider the matter.’
I shall never forget the smile that passed over her face as she thanked
me and went back to her room. Thanked me, indeed! Well, I set to work,
read one of the tracts, felt self-condemned; read it again, felt
dreadfully troubled. Then I read them all, and felt that I was a great
sinner. I said nothing more to Miss H---- about leaving my house. Each
day my convictions became deeper. At last, I could bear it no longer.
Thought I, this won’t do; I must talk with Miss H----. So I invited
her to come and sit with us in the family. She cheerfully complied. I
asked her a great many questions about the doctrines of the Bible, not
meaning to let her know any thing about my concern. But all would not
do; my distress continued, or rather my agony, for I thought I was the
greatest sinner on earth.

“At last, I sent one evening for Miss H---- to come down, and I told
her my troubles; for my proud heart was well-nigh broken. Said I, Miss
H----, I feel so and so ever since I read those tracts of yours; and
I related all that was passing in my mind; and, said I, do you think
there is any mercy or hope for such a poor miserable sinner? The tears
began to run down her cheeks; then she laughed; then she caught me by
both hands, and looking up into my face, she said, ‘Oh, my dear friend,
I am _so_ glad.’ ‘Why,’ said I, ‘are you glad because I am in trouble?’
‘Oh, my dear sir,’ says she, ‘this is the Spirit of God operating on
your heart.’ All at once a great light seemed to shine into my mind.
All that I had been learning for so many weeks seemed now just as plain
as A B C. Said I, ‘Come, Miss H----, kneel down then and pray for me;’
and she did pray for me, and I do bless God for his wonderful mercy to
such a poor hardened sinner. I believe that God _did_ change my heart
just while that _very prayer_ was going up. All at once it just came:
I loved my Bible and I loved to pray, and I could not bear the company
that I used to take so much delight in.

“On the next Sabbath, Miss H---- asked me to go along with her and the
children to the school--which was, and had been a Sunday-school, though
we never suspected it; and here came a trial. If I go, they will say I
am getting religious; if I stay, it will be a sin, for I know I _ought_
to go; and then it will grieve Miss H----. These last considerations
were the strongest; so I went. The room was crowded with children, all
waiting for their teacher; I thought they all looked happy. After a
little while, Miss H---- took the Bible, and coming to me, she said,
‘Mr. D----, will you read and pray with us this morning?’ I was
startled; my very heart trembled. Said I, ‘Oh no; not now.’ Then she
read a chapter and prayed herself. Oh, how I felt, to think that I was
ashamed to pray before those children! Ah, thought I, this will never
do; I will come here and pray next Sunday. That night I read and prayed
with my family; and the next Sabbath I opened the school with prayer.

“The news spread soon all through the settlement. D---- has got
religion and is praying in the Sunday-school! strange news this! Very
soon the people began to drop into our Sunday-school. Then Miss H----
said to me, ‘You had better read us a sermon at the Sunday-school,
after the other exercises are over.’ She selected the sermons, and I
read them. Our meetings grew very solemn. Presently we sent word to a
good man at B---- to send us a minister; he did so. The minister came
and preached for us. The little school-house could not contain one half
of the people who crowded to hear him. We held our meetings in the open
air, under the trees.

“Ah, that was a wonderful time; the cry of the anxious sinner went up
from every house. The Spirit of God was moving mightily upon the hearts
of the people, and many were born into the kingdom of Christ. All this
brought a great change in our settlement. Instead of the dance, and
the gaming-table, and the foolish song, we had meetings for prayer and
praise; and the tavern and still-house were exchanged for the temple of

“The Sabbath became a day of holy rest among a people who used to
spend it in revelry or idleness. Houses of worship were built, where
our population flocked every Sabbath to hear the preached word from
the living minister; and in the course of two or three years, hundreds
professed faith in Christ, and joined the church. We have had a
flourishing church here ever since. Ah,” said the good man, in his
peculiarly emphatic way, “see what God hath wrought for us.”

How often have I reproached myself, when I contrasted the heroic
conduct of this devoted female with my own man-fearing spirit! She has
gone to her reward; her memory will be cherished for a few more years
in the hearts of those to whom her humble efforts were of such immense
value, and then pass away and be forgotten. But her _influence_ will
pass on, an ever-increasing current, down the long tracts of time, and
throughout the endless ages of eternity.


The latter part of the year 1848 was spent laboring in South-western
Virginia. I visited several towns as a colporteur, taking with me some
applicant for this service, to give him a favorable introduction to his

I reached the beautiful town of A---- late in the evening, an entire
stranger, and stopped at a hotel, wet, cold, and hungry. About the same
time the stage arrived with a number of passengers, and we all asked
for rooms with fire in them. While this was preparing I stepped into
the bar-room, the only place where I could find a fire; but it had been
election day, and such a company of intoxicated men I had never seen
in one room. Several of them were lying on the floor, unable to rise;
and the swearing was awful. I immediately began the distribution of
tracts and little paper-covered books; and among them I laid down a
copy of “Universalism not of God.” As I passed round, laying them down
on chairs and tables, as well as handing them to the men, I observed
a very fine-looking man who had come in the stage, following me, and
looking at them.

As I laid down “Universalism not of God,” he took it up, and said to
me very abruptly that the book was a libel on the Universalists. “Oh,”
said I, “I understand the cause of your objection to the book. You are
one of those who believe that thieves, murderers, and liars all go to
heaven; that there is no such place as hell.” “Yes,” said he, “I have
too good an opinion of God’s mercy to believe there is any such place
as hell.” When he made that remark, one of the fellows who was lying
drunk on the floor raised his head and said, “You are a liar;” while
another said he “wished that was true, but there was no such good
news.” Said I, “Sir, I will hand you over to these men, and you and
they may settle the controversy.” He immediately disappeared from the

During my stay of three weeks in this beautiful town, I visited every
family in it, and either sold or gave books.

One day I stepped into the office of a lawyer, who was one of the
first men in the state in his profession. I offered him a copy of
Nelson on Infidelity. Said he, “I could not take time to read a book
of that size, except on law, for less than five hundred dollars.” I
then offered him Baxter’s Call. Said he, “That is too big a dose for me
too.” I then presented him the tract, “The Great Alternative.” “Well,”
said he, “as you are so anxious for me to read some of your books, I
will read that right off.” He commenced, and I left him. An hour or two
after I was passing his door, and he was sitting in a thoughtful mood.
Said I, “Have you read the tract?” “Yes,” said he, “and if I would read
a few more like it I think I might become a Christian.” Said I, “Too
busy to be saved.” “Yes,” said he, “I fear that is my case; I have not
a moment to spare from my business.” Alas, how many will have to say, I
was too busy to be saved.

In the same town there was a man who had once been a minister of some
prominence in an evangelical church, but had left it, and embraced
the doctrines of Swedenborg, for which he was very zealous. I did not
wish to encounter him; but as I stepped into a store one night to
scatter tracts, he was present. He immediately made an attack on me,
and said that he could not imagine how any wise man could believe in
the doctrine of the Trinity; that it was so absurd that nothing in
heaven or earth could illustrate it. I saw the eyes of all present were
turned to me, and felt in a tight place. I lifted my heart to God for
help to vindicate his truth. A candle was burning between us. Said I,
pointing to the candle, “Sir, there is a trinity giving us light. There
is tallow, wick, and fire, three in one.” He acknowledged he was beat,
and took his leave, to the amusement of those present, and to my great

After two months’ labor in South-western Virginia, I returned to my
home in L----, near two hundred miles distant from A----, and devoted
a month to correspondence and adjusting accounts with over fifty
colporteurs I had now employed.

Though L---- had been my home for over two years, I had never had
time to visit all the families with our books and tracts. I had often
determined to do it, but other labors had prevented. The number of warm
friends and liberal contributors in and around the town seemed to lay
special claims on me to do the work, and I resolved to spend the months
of January and February laboring in the town and vicinity.

At this time it was remarked by the ministers and praying people of
God, that they had not felt such a spiritual dearth there for many
years. The ball-room was better attended than the churches, and the
young seemed to be rushing into sin with greediness. My own soul too
was in darkness, and my strength nearly prostrated. My devotions,
public and private, were heartless. I was even tempted to leave my work
and engage in some secular business.

At last I told a few of the most pious whom I knew about the desire
I had to visit the families, and that the state of my own heart was
such that I was prevented from doing it. They urged me forward, and
promised to pray for me. I set day after day to begin; but when the day
and hour came for me to start, my heart would fail, and Satan seemed
to have some excuse always ready. At last I entered into covenant with
God to begin the next day; but when the morning came my hard, cowardly
heart failed me. I tried to pray again and again. I put it off till
the afternoon, with a hope of getting strength. A carpet-bag had been
standing full of books and tracts for some days waiting, and they
seemed to rebuke my cowardice.

At last I thought that if Moses had not stepped into the Red sea, the
waters would never have receded. The next morning still found me at
home. As soon as my breakfast was over I took the carpet-bag and books
to a room and earnestly prayed over them, and then started.

The next neighbor to me was a Mr. H----. His wife and mother-in-law
were devoted Christians, but he was careless about religion, and so was
his brother, a young man that had his home there. I dealt faithfully
with them, and prayed with them. Each of them bought a book, and I
left them in tears. Soon after the young man professed religion, and
the other remained serious as long as I knew him. All my fears were
now gone. A few minutes before I was ashamed to own Christ before
a kitchen-maid; now I could face the world, and the promise was
realized, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I next went to Mr. P----’s and had a long talk with his daughter, a
very intelligent girl of twelve summers. In a short time she professed

I next entered the house of Mr. R----. He and his wife were two of the
friends to whom I had told my difficulties, and who had engaged to pray
for me. They had two very interesting daughters that moved in the most
fashionable circles of society. As soon as I entered the house they
knew my errand. I was directed to the parlor, and told by the father,
“I will send the girls in, and wife and I will go into our own room and
pray while you talk.” I felt God was there while I talked and prayed.
One received Pike’s Persuasives to Early Piety, the reading of which
led her to the Saviour soon after; the other got Baxter’s Call, and was
an inquirer during all the time I remained there.

I cannot find words to express the joy I felt in my own soul at the
close of this day’s work. All nature seemed to rejoice with me, and I
fully realized the promise, “He that watereth shall be watered.”

The next day I visited eleven families, talked and prayed and sold
and gave books and tracts in every house. In almost every house some
feeling was manifested, and soon after several professed religion.
Among them was a Mrs. M----, who told me it was the Anxious Inquirer
that led her to Christ. I visited half the town in a week, and sold and
gave away many books and tracts. Quite a number of those visited showed
much feeling while I talked with them.

At this time special religious services were held in one of the
churches that had but little sympathy at that time with the Tract
Society, or any thing else that was not under their own exclusive
control; and I was advised to stop my work till their meeting closed,
for fear they might say I was proselyting. I attended all their
meetings, and prayed and exhorted when called on. Their meetings
continued two weeks, during which time twenty professed religion, most
of whom I had previously visited.

At the close of these meetings, I told the Rev. Dr. McE---- that now
was the time for him to have meetings in his church. He said he was
not able to do any extra work, and did not know where he could get any
preacher. I proposed to get the Rev. R. N. D----, who was then laboring
as a colporteur of the Tract Society some fifty miles distant, to which
he agreed, and I wrote to Mr. D---- to come on a certain day. During
the intervening time of ten days I visited all the balance of the town
and held prayer-meetings every night. The meetings became more and more
interesting, and religion became the theme of conversation in every

When Mr. D---- came public preaching was held every night, and the
word was attended with the power of God. Every morning we had a
prayer-meeting, and through the day visited the inquirers from house
to house, and scattered tracts. By the end of four days thirty-five
were attending the meeting for inquiry, and at the close of the first
week thirty-three had professed hope in Christ, most of them the most
influential people in the town.

The Rev. Mr. V---- then came and aided another week, at the close of
which forty-two were added to the church. Thus did God carry on his
work with the humble instruments he had chosen.

One young lady who had been an inquirer for two weeks, told us at last
she did not care about being converted then, and left the meetings. In
three weeks she died. Her last words were, “I could have been saved,
but I rejected God’s Spirit, and now I am lost.”

Another came sometimes to the inquiry meetings, but owing to the fact
that she was soon to marry an irreligious man, put off her day of
grace. In a few weeks the day of her intended marriage came. She rose
in the morning in usual health to prepare for the ceremony, but before
night her costly bridal dress was her winding-sheet.

Four miles from town Mr. W----, a colporteur, was at work during the
time of this meeting in the town, and ten were there added to a little

I have been thus particular in stating the facts in relation to this
work, as it was the starting point of one of the most powerful
revivals that I have ever witnessed. It extended over one hundred miles
square of a sparsely populated country, in which near one thousand
souls were converted to God within about four months. The fidelity and
perseverance in the service of Christ of those thus brought in, is the
best evidence that this was truly the work of God’s Spirit.

At the close of these cheering labors in L----, I went to the town
of U---- to be with Mr. H---- at a sacramental meeting, and take a
collection for the Tract Society. He is one of God’s ministers that
does his work faithfully. The meeting began on Friday night. Mr. H----
requested me to occupy the time in giving an account of the great work
at L----, which I did. Although but few were present, and they mostly
pupils in the academy he taught, the bare relation of the facts of the
revival at L---- made a deep impression, and resulted in the conversion
of his son, who is now a minister.

The next morning at nine, we had a meeting for prayer and exhortation,
at which there was still more interest. At eleven Mr. H---- preached.
At night I conducted the service by exhortation and prayer. The
solemnity was still increased. At each meeting we gave each one present
a suitable tract, with a word of earnest counsel.

At nine, Sabbath morning, I conducted another prayer-meeting. At
eleven, Mr. H---- preached and administered the communion. God was
truly there in great power. At three we had a meeting for prayer again.
At night the church was full. I based my remarks on the words, “I will
arise and go to my father.” I saw that every heart was moved, and but
few cheeks were dry. At the close of my remarks, I turned to Mr. H----,
and said to him, “If you will ask them, some anxious souls will remain
for instruction and prayer.” The result was, seven inquirers took a
stand on the Lord’s side that night. This seemed to rouse the great
soul of Mr. H---- to an extraordinary pitch of fervor, and led to the
appointment of a meeting the next morning.

On Monday morning we both exhorted, and the interest was deep. At three
we held an inquiry-meeting, and nine attended. At night I spoke again;
the meeting was deeply interesting.

Tuesday morning the prayer-meeting was crowded, and in the afternoon
there were seventeen inquirers. We had three services each day, the
one at three only for inquirers; and each day there was an increase of
interest. On Saturday morning Mr. H---- had to go some miles to another
preaching-place, and I was left alone on Saturday and the Sabbath.
Sabbath, at three, there were twenty-seven inquirers, and ten were
indulging a hope in Christ. During the next week forty-two professed
faith in Christ.

In the whole course of these meetings we kept the very choicest
of our books and tracts in the hands of the people. One observing
Christian said to me, “There has been more reading here on the subject
of religion in the past eighteen days, than there had been in three
years before.” Quite a number of the inquirers told me they were first
awakened by reading a book or tract, and others that they were greatly
aided by them in coming to Christ. Their interest in these publications
was shown by their contributing one hundred dollars on one of the
Sabbaths to aid the tract and colporteur work.

This town was one of the wickedest in Western Virginia, and had for
years been a centre of infidelity. A worthy farmer who lived near told
me, at the close of our meetings, that for years he had never passed
through that town without hearing oaths and vulgar songs; “but now,”
said he, “that is all stopped, and I hear them singing hymns of praise
to God.” This town will now compare favorably with any other within my
knowledge for piety and sobriety.


At the earnest request of Mr. H----, I promised to meet him on the
next Sabbath at one of his country churches, about six miles from
town, in one of the most densely populated and wealthy communities
in all Western Virginia, called Mount P----. It was only fourteen
miles from my home at L----. I reached the church a little before the
hour of service, a stranger to all except a few who had met me at the
meetings in town. The house, although large, was crowded, and I took
a seat in the back part of the house. In a few minutes Mr. H---- came
in and walked up into the pulpit. He looked sick and feeble, and while
glancing his eye over the house, saw me, and beckoned me to him. He was
unable to speak louder than a whisper.

Said he, “I am attacked with bronchitis and unable to preach, and you
must preach.” This I refused, on the ground that I had no authority.
Said he, “I will give you the authority here, and stand between you
and danger.” He arose, and with great exertion told the people that he
had never had such a desire to preach as he had that day, but the Lord
had shut his mouth, and sent me to do the preaching, for which he was
very thankful.

I at once opened with singing and prayer, and announced my text,
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” I felt that the thoughts and
words were not mine, but dictated by the Holy Ghost. I spoke for an
hour. The audience was still as the grave. After an interval of thirty
minutes, as was the custom, we resumed the service. My text in the
afternoon was, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” The
feeling was deep. I asked the anxious to remain for instruction, and
twelve remained. At night I had a meeting at a private house, where
great interest was manifested.

At the earnest request of many, services similar to those of the
Sabbath were continued on Monday and for several days afterwards. On
Monday morning, when I came to the church, there was a crowd, and
much to my joy and relief, Mr. W----, one of our best colporteurs,
was there. He had labored faithfully over all that ground but a few
weeks before, and knew almost every one in that region. Although very
diffident, he conducted the morning meeting with great acceptance.
I spoke at eleven, and at two; and at the close of the last service
we had eighteen inquirers. God seemed to come down as on the day of
Pentecost. Ten of the number indulged hope, and their countenances were
lit up with joy.

At night we had a meeting at Mr. D----’s. One half could not get into
the house. He had a son that was desperately wicked, and had done all
in his power to oppose the work of God. During the time of the service
he went out of the house in an agony of conviction for sin. The next
morning, at family prayers, he cried out in the bitterness of his
anguish, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” A sister of his, that had
been a very thoughtless girl, also cried out in great distress. This
seemed instantly to electrify the whole family. The place seemed awful
with the majesty of God. I felt as much of the divine glory as I could
bear. Such a scene I had never witnessed. Soon the whole family were
embraced in each other’s arms, rejoicing in hope of eternal life. We
seemed to be in the inner sanctuary and the most holy place. Although
near fourteen years have since passed, while I describe this scene it
fires my own soul afresh.

Though it was a hurried season of the year with farmers, work was
suspended, ploughs were stopped, white and black were in the church, or
as near in as they could get, as the church would not hold more than
half that came.

The Tuesday morning prayer-meeting was one of the best I ever attended.
At eleven the Rev. Mr. H---- returned, and preached one of the best of
sermons. In the afternoon I spoke again. There were thirty-six more
inquirers, and twelve more were indulging hope.

On Friday night I held a meeting at the house of a Dr. N----, who was a
man of the world. I spoke on the _broad road and wide gate_. The doctor
was awakened that night, and has ever since dated his first impressions
on religious subjects to that time; and two young men, one of them
since educated for the ministry, likewise dated their conversion the
same night.

At eleven the next morning Rev. Mr. H---- preached, and in the
afternoon Dr. McE----. At the close of this service, sixty-two were
added to the church on profession of their faith.

When the hour for public worship arrived on Sabbath morning, one half
could not enter the church. It was arranged that I should invite those
who could not get in to assemble out of hearing of the church and
preach to them. I selected the graveyard, where most of the graves had
enclosures of rails around and over them. The circumstance suggested
my text: “Man dieth, and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost,
and where is he?” I felt as I never did before, standing among the dead
and the living, and spoke as I never did before or since. Some of the
wickedest men in all the country were before me.

One gray-headed sinner seventy years old, who sat on the rails which
were around the graves of his wife and children, shook as if he had the
ague. A year after, he died; and often, when he was on his death-bed,
spoke with deep sorrow of resisting God’s Spirit at that time. At the
close of the services in the church a collection of $120 was taken up
for the Tract Society, which was five times as much as could have been
obtained a week before. Books and tracts were circulated every day in
these meetings, and read with interest. Twenty persons told me that
books or tracts were the means of either awakening them, or directing
them to Christ. In addition to the sixty-two added to the church as
above, twenty-four who obtained a hope at these meetings joined a
church of another denomination a mile distant.

Only two miles from the above meetings, was the church of a large
congregation of Seceders. Till this time they had not gone to hear any
preacher but their own, nor admitted any other denomination to preach
in their church. But so great was this work that some of their young
people had been drawn away, and gained a hope in Christ, but kept it
secret. Their pastor, Rev. Mr. McG----, came himself on Saturday, and
became deeply moved with what he saw and heard. In the evening Rev.
Mr. H---- told him there were many still anxious about their souls,
and not a few of them were among his own people; “and now,” said he,
“this harvest must be gathered, and if you will go on with a meeting
next week I will close my meetings to-morrow.” This arrangement was
made, and it was agreed that I should go and assist Mr. McG---- on the
afternoon of the next day, after the services in that church should be

At four o’clock the Seceder church was crowded, and all the ardor of
feeling seemed to come along with the people. Rev. Mr. McG---- was very
feeble in health, but was a devoted servant of God; and it was arranged
that he was to take a text and speak ten minutes, and I was then to
fill up the hour. After that service we held another in a private house
at night.

The next morning at nine, we had the house full at the prayer-meeting.
At eleven, Mr. McG---- preached ten minutes, and I followed; and after
the service all were supplied with tracts. During the afternoon service
the presence of God seemed to move every heart. And as I believe that
when God moves on men’s hearts, they ought to move too as the prodigal
did, when I had ceased speaking, and the congregation were singing
the eighty-fourth Psalm, Rouse’s version, I said to Mr. McG---- that
I had no doubt but if an invitation was given some would remain for
instruction. He feared it would not be acceptable to the officers of
the church, all of whom had come from Scotland, and had been accustomed
to hear preaching only from Seceders, and considered _occasional
hearing_ an offence. But he said he would not interfere with what I
thought was duty.

As soon as the song was sung, I arose and told them that a piece of
old Scotch history had just come into my mind. That over one hundred
years ago, previous to their communion occasions, the minister at the
close of his services for some days would invite all that intended
to commune for the first time to remain for instruction in regard to
their duties; and that for want of that many came to the Lord’s table
who were ignorant of the nature of the ordinance. And as I believed
there were a number who contemplated joining the church and going to
the communion table on the next Sabbath for the first time, I would
ask all such to remain after the congregation was dismissed, to receive
such instruction as should be given. After some agitation all was
quiet, and I told them the first point of inquiry for them was, to know
if they were born again, and spoke some twenty minutes on the nature
and evidences of regeneration. The old elders sobbed aloud; and as soon
as the services were closed, they had me by the hand, and said, “That
is just what our young people need.” The oldest elder, whose daughter
was among the inquirers, came up leaning on his staff, and said, “That
did my soul good.” We had an appointment that night five miles distant,
and this old man went all the way with me on horseback. The house was
crowded. Many were awakened, and among them Mr. B---- the proprietor,
who was a hardened sinner of fifty years. He soon professed his faith
in Christ.

The next morning this old elder, Mr. M----, said to me, “Oh, Mr. C----,
I slept none last night. I have had a foretaste of heaven, and long to
be there. I have never experienced religious joy till last night; and
now I have one request to make, and deny me not, that is, that you
commune with me next Sabbath.”

The next day we had similar services, and at the close of the last
service I told them as all the congregation seemed desirous to hear
what was said to those wishing to consider their duty to join the
church, such would come forward while we sung the twenty-third Psalm.
Sixteen thus presented themselves, and Rev. Mr. McG---- spoke to
them with a heavenly unction. The next day there were twenty-eight
inquirers, and the next day thirty-nine, of whom twenty-two appeared
to be indulging a good hope in Christ. All the business of the field
was suspended, and many were saying it was the dawn of the day of glory
to the church. As the time had arrived for me to visit another place
fifty miles distant, to engage in similar labors, the pastor told them
he wanted them to make a thank-offering to the Tract Society, and in a
few minutes $80 was on the table, and a present of $20 to me. On the
Sabbath fifty-six were added to the church, and more than thirty to a
Methodist church near by.

Fourteen months after, I visited this church again. The presence of
God was still there, and many said they felt as if they were ready to
begin again where they had left off fourteen months before. The strong
prejudices against worshipping with other Christians were among the
things that had been.

During my brief stay many incidents were related to me. One young man
told me it was “Advice to a Married Couple” that awakened him, as he
was soon to be married. Three of the anxious got relief by reading the
tract “What is it to Believe in Christ?” A man well acquainted in the
community told me thirty family altars were reared on one Sabbath night.

In one instance two families lived in one house, and both the men
and their wives had joined the church. They felt that they must have
family worship, but neither was willing to pray. One said he could do
the singing, and the other said he would read the Bible. At last they
united in asking a lame negro man that was pious, and he led in prayer.

There is probably no region of our country, when all the difficulties
are considered, where the Tract Society and colporteurs have done as
much real good as in Western Virginia. Some of the most godly men we
ever employed had visited every house again and again, and most of the
books to be found in the houses were the Society’s publications. In
some of the poorer districts they were even the only school-books. I
have heard of schools in those mountains where one had Bunyan, another
Baxter’s Call, or Saints’ Rest, and so on all through the school. We
can say that in many places the work has made the wilderness and the
solitary place rejoice and blossom as the rose.


After one night’s rest at home, I left the next morning for C----,
thirty miles distant, to meet my friend Rev. Mr. D----, who was with
us at the commencement of the meetings at L----, and engage in another
meeting. The Rev. Mr. P----, who was pastor at that place, was likewise
a colporteur of the Tract Society, and had five little churches in
as many different communities in the county. So he left us to hold a
meeting in C----, while he was laboring in other portions of his field.

I had on several occasions passed through this town, which, in a
religious view, was one of the darkest I have ever visited. I saw
the men, most of them young men, while Mr. P---- was preaching to a
few, mostly women, standing all round the church with their heads in
the windows, talking aloud, and even swearing profanely, till the
preacher’s voice could scarcely be heard. As Mr. D---- was a stranger
there, I informed him that we might expect open opposition. The
meetings were to be conducted in the same way as those to which I have
already alluded.

After warning the people of the impropriety of such conduct, and
insisting that if they attended the services, they should come into the
church, Mr. D---- preached, and I followed by telling of the Lord’s
work in the places where I had been. A deep solemnity seemed to fall on
every soul, and we felt God was there. All present were well supplied
with tracts.

The next day our meetings were very solemn, and still more so at night,
when there were five anxiously inquiring for salvation. By the next
night most of the females began to feel very deeply, and some young men
began to interrupt by their talking; but I rebuked them most solemnly,
and we had no more interruptions during that meeting, and I am happy to
say there have been none since in that place.

This meeting began on Thursday night, and by Monday twenty-two had
professed hope in Christ. Among the number was one man sixty years
old. He had been intemperate forty years. Though he was then so
ignorant that he did not know who was the Saviour of sinners, and did
not know one letter of the alphabet, he still lives a monument of grace.

One young lady of fortune, who was there at school, and whose anxiety
about her soul bordered on despair, gained a hope on Saturday. On the
next Saturday she joined the church, and then told her companions,
“I will go to the Lord’s table to-morrow; it may be my last Sabbath
on earth.” On Monday morning she came to school apparently in her
usual health, and seemed deeply affected by the opening prayer; but
soon complained of being unwell, went to her boarding-house, and in
forty-eight hours she was numbered with the dead. Grace and glory came
very near together.

After a few days of rest, at the request of the Rev. Mr. H----, to whom
I have alluded at the town of U----, I met him in an old log-church on
Wolf Creek, one of his preaching-places. I left home in the morning,
rode twenty-four miles, and reached the place at one. Mr. H---- was
preaching to a small congregation, as it was now the beginning of
harvest. After an interval of thirty minutes, I addressed the people.
The next day was Saturday. The house was full; and in the evening we
had five inquirers. Sabbath morning Mr. H---- preached with great
power, and then left for another appointment, with the expectation of
returning on Monday. In the mean time I was to go on with the services.
In the evening I had thirteen inquirers; and among them was Colonel
H----, fifty years old, and Major B----, sixty-eight, two men of the
largest wealth and highest standing in that community, who had been
remarkable instances of grieving the Spirit of God. I related in their
hearing the fact of what an aged man had told me about his grieving
the Spirit. I saw it affected them both very deeply. They told me they
had felt all that that man did whose case I had described, and that
they had now made up their minds to seek Christ. In a few days both
were hoping in Christ; and two years ago they had continued active

Becoming exhausted, almost as if I was at death’s door, I left for
home; but Rev. Mr. H---- continued the meetings. Such was the interest
awakened, that daily labor in the harvest-field was entirely suspended.
Masters and servants were all at the same mercy-seat. God was there;
the world was lost sight of, and eternal things took its place.
Everybody had a tract in hand. You could see them reading on their
way home; some in carriages, some on horseback, and others on foot.
The result was, thirty-six were added to that little church, and many
others to the other churches in that region of country. I soon learned
that one wild, thoughtless young woman was awakened by reading a tract,
and she is now one of the mothers in Israel.

I had received several letters from the Rev. Mr. C----, an aged man
who had moved to Fayette county, to preach in a very destitute region,
near the celebrated _Hawk’s Nest_, or _Marshall’s Pillar_, a cliff or
precipice of about one thousand feet perpendicular height, hanging over
New River, ten miles from its junction with the Gauley. After a day
of rest, I took the stage, and at the end of fifty miles reached the
place. On Friday morning the meeting began in the woods. No church
was near; but an arbor was made by putting up poles and covering them
with green bushes. When I came it rained, and only about thirty were
present; but God was there with his gracious power. We had a meeting in
the evening at one of the neighboring cabins, and a crowd was collected.

The next morning we met at the arbor. The day was fair and beautiful,
and the crowd great. The Lord helped me greatly in the service. At the
interval I scattered tracts freely, and set all to reading who could
read. At the close of the afternoon service there were eleven anxious
inquirers. On Sabbath morning we met at nine for prayer. By eleven
o’clock a thousand people had assembled; and after the evening service,
seventeen came out for instruction. On Monday the communion was to be
administered, and seventeen were added to the Lord’s people. The Lord
was there in his mercy. After the afternoon service nineteen more came
out as inquirers, among them men of sixty years and from that down to
boys, most of whom professed religion soon after. A church was soon
after organized, which still lives. The blessed influence spread for
miles around, and all denominations shared in the glorious work. I
shall ever believe the way was prepared by a faithful colporteur, who
had been over the ground a few months before.

Mr. P----, an elder in a vacant church called Locust Bottom, had
applied to the Rev. Mr. P---- to come and administer the communion in
that church, and to bring me with him. The meeting was to begin on the
Friday before the third Sabbath in August. I left home on Thursday
morning, and reached the place, fifty-four miles distant, at noon the
next day. In the afternoon I addressed the audience by telling them
what the Lord had done in so many other places, and that I felt assured
if they would seek him with their whole hearts he would bless them too.

The next morning we were assembled at nine for prayer and exhortation.
At eleven Mr. C----, a student of divinity, spoke with much fervor.
After recess I spoke with much liberty, and five came out as inquirers.
We held meetings at night in two places; both well attended, and
several were awakened. The Sabbath morning prayer-meeting was crowded.
The communion was administered by Mr. P----; and after recess I spoke
again, and we had nine inquirers. The next morning we had a crowd, and
there were clear indications of the presence of the Spirit of God.

Some weeks previous, Mr. W----, a colporteur to whom I have alluded,
had been all through this region, and circulated books. A daughter
of Colonel S----, one of the elders, became awakened by reading one
of them, and her state of mind had aroused some of her friends and
companions, who were among those most deeply concerned; and it was
agreed to hold the evening meeting at the colonel’s, though four miles

In addition to the colonel’s large family, a number of others were
present, all seeking peace with God. After tea was over we were all
seated in a large parlor, to the number of at least twenty. As Mr.
C---- expected soon to leave, I asked him to lead us in prayer, and
especially to remember the anxious souls in the room. At the close of
the prayer, one of the colonel’s daughters was sobbing as if she would
break her heart. I sat down beside her, and pointed her to Jesus who
died for sinners. She looked at me a moment, and then sprang into her
mother’s arms, and said, “Oh, mother, I have found Jesus.” But a short
time had elapsed, when a daughter-in-law of Mrs. S---- went to her and
said, “Oh, mother, I have found the Saviour too.” Soon the wife of one
of the elders who was there cried, “Oh, Mrs. S----, the Saviour has
blessed me too. Oh, what a Saviour I have found.” This woman had been
so opposed to religion that her husband could not have family prayers.
All these three had been awakened by reading tracts. During all this
time the old grandmother, ninety years old, and for over seventy years
a follower of Christ, was walking through the house saying, “Oh, Mr.
C----, is not this heaven? my poor soul can bear no more of the divine

In a short time Colonel S----, who had been absent, returned. As soon
as his daughter saw him she was in his arms, saying, “Oh, my dear
father, your prayers are answered; I have found Jesus.”

By this time the news had spread all over the farm, and more than fifty
blacks of all ages were in and round the house. The old mother of
Col. S---- said to me, “Oh, Mr. C----, won’t you preach to these poor
souls?” “Certainly,” said I; and in a few minutes a large room was
crowded with them. I stood in the door, with the old mother holding me
by the arm, and announced the words, “Behold, I bring you glad tidings
of great joy which shall be to all people.” The negroes soon became
so excited they could hardly contain themselves. Some were on their
knees praying, and others clapping their hands. The old lady undertook
to keep them in order; but her own heart became so deeply impressed,
that her bodily strength sunk under it. The scene was one that neither
tongue nor pen can describe. No doubt some who have never seen or felt
any thing like this, will call it enthusiasm; but if it was, I would
wish to live and die in the midst of such enthusiasm. This was one
of the most intelligent families in that community--all educated and
refined, and strict Presbyterians. I have found but few such families.

The next morning we all repaired to the church, where I was met by Mr.
W----, the colporteur whom I have mentioned. Before that day’s meeting
closed eight more professed hope. That night I had a meeting at a Mr.
C----’s, who was a professed atheist, but within a few days after, was
numbered among God’s people.

The next day the house was crowded below with whites, and the gallery
with blacks. The presence of God seemed to be with every soul.
There were in the house two men, brothers, of large wealth and much
intelligence, both unmarried and somewhat dissipated. For two days
they had been deeply concerned, and their pious friends were earnest
in prayer for them. Just as I was closing my last discourse in the
evening, when there was scarce a dry cheek in the house, a negro who
was subject to fits, fell in a fit in the gallery, and made the most
unearthly noise I ever heard. All fled from the house with fright,
thinking the house was falling. These two brothers, when they went out,
said they were glad at what had happened, for if they had remained any
longer they would have been compelled to yield to the Spirit of God.
They both went away, and never returned; and said often afterwards
that they sealed their damnation that day. Each of them died a horrible
death with delirium tremens.

I exhorted three or four times each day throughout all the week, and
brother W---- scattered books and tracts, and talked and prayed.
Twenty-two were added to that church, and as many more joined other
churches. Before this meeting began, that church was nearly broken up,
and in six months after, the student to whom I have alluded was the

Ten years after, as I was passing through this region in a stage, one
of my travelling companions told me he was one of the converts at a
place where I had labored. We were alone in the stage when we reached
the place of crossing a river near this church. The driver stopped to
water his horses, and I handed tracts to two men that were working at
the edge of the river. They looked at me a moment, and then caught my
hands: “Oh, this is Mr. C----. It was your tracts and labors that God
blessed to save our souls.” The stage-driver dropped his bucket and
rushed to me: “Oh, is it possible I have been hauling Mr. C---- and
did not know it? It was your tracts and labors which you began in the
rain in Fayette county that God blessed to my soul.” Here were four men
who had been led to Christ at different places, and now had met the one
whom they called the instrument of their salvation. To God alone be all
the glory.


As, in the providence of God, I have been brought into contact with
thousands of persons who have told me with much candor the history of
their own minds, and conversed freely in reference to the all-important
subject of their salvation, I have thought it to be my duty to
record some of the facts I have met, for the benefit and warning of
others. That there is a point when the Holy Spirit, if wilfully and
perseveringly resisted, ceases to strive with man, no one doubts who
believes in his renewing and sanctifying agency; but too many take it
for granted that this point is not reached till the close of life, and
neglect or resist the strivings of the Spirit till he gives them up
to hardness of heart and blindness of mind, perhaps many years before
their earthly existence has terminated.

The first case I shall mention is that of a woman about thirty years of
age, with whom I conversed in the presence of her mother. I inquired if
she was a member of any church. She answered, “No.” I asked if she had
not at some time felt concern for her salvation. “Yes,” she said, “I
think but few have been more anxious on the subject than I was once.”
I asked at what period of her life this occurred, when she gave me the
following account of God’s dealings with her. “When I was about fifteen
years old, I felt that I was a great sinner in the sight of God. Often
my distress was so great that I could not sleep; and for three years I
seldom had peace for a week at a time. I knew that the Holy Spirit was
striving with me, and that I ought to yield my heart to his influence;
but I thought it would cut off my pleasures in the midst of youth. I
tried to banish the thoughts of eternity; but they would still return
and interrupt my pleasure. I tried reading novels and romances; they
gave me relief for a while, but my distress returned. At last I went
to the ballroom--and I have never since had such feelings as before.”
“And have you no fears,” said I, “that you have grieved away the Spirit
of God for ever?” “Yes,” she replied, “I have no doubt of that, and
that I shall be lost.” I proceeded to describe the state and misery
of the lost, and appealed to her, by the prayers of her mother and the
tears which were then falling from her sunken eyes, by the danger of an
eternal separation from pious friends, by the glories of heaven and the
agonies of the Son of God, now to make her peace with him and be saved.
“All this,” she calmly replied, “has been tried upon me before. Nothing
that you or any other man can say on that subject, can move me now. My
doom is fixed.”

Another case was that of Mr. B----, who was over seventy years old,
and living an ungodly life. I approached him with kindness, and at
length he conversed freely. I spoke of the goodness of God to him in
his advanced years, and asked if he hoped he had an interest in Christ.
He replied, “No.” I asked if he received the Bible as the word of God.
He answered, “Yes.” I said, “The Bible teaches that a man must be born
again before he can enter the kingdom of God; do you think you have
experienced that change?” “No,” said he, “I never have.” I saw that
he was intelligent, and inquired if no “still small voice” had ever
whispered to him, “Son, give me thy heart?” “Yes,” said he, “often. I
used to feel, but for many years I have not felt as I did when I was
young. I then had some very serious times.” I asked at what period he
had felt most deeply the importance of religion. He replied, “When I
was seventeen I began to feel deeply at times, and this continued for
two or three years; but I determined to put it off till I should be
settled in life. After I was married, I reflected that the time had
come when I had promised to attend to religion; but I had bought this
farm, and I thought it would not suit me to become religious till it
was paid for, as some time would have to be devoted to attend church,
and also some expense. I then resolved to put it off ten years; but
when the ten years came round, I thought no more about it. I often
try to think, but I cannot keep my mind on the subject one moment.” I
urged him by all the terrors of dying an enemy of God, to set about
the work of repentance. “It is too late,” said he, “I believe my doom
is sealed; and it is just that it should be so, for the Spirit strove
long with me, but I refused.” I then turned to his children, young men
and young women who were around him, and entreated them not to put off
the subject of religion, or grieve the Spirit of God in their youthful
days. The old man added, “Mind _that_. If I had attended to it then, it
would have been well with me to-day; but now it is too late.”

On conversing with a man in middle life, he informed me that his father
was a devoted Christian, that he was faithfully instructed and his mind
was early impressed with the importance of religion. In his youth,
there was a period of six months in which he was in distress, day and
night; and a voice within seemed to be continually saying, “Forsake
your sins and come unto me, and I will give you peace.” “But,” he
added, “I did not wish to be a Christian then; I thought it would ruin
my pleasures. I visited a part of the country where dancing and balls
were frequent; in a little time my serious thoughts were gone, and I
have never had any since.” I asked if he did not fear that God had
given him up. “Yes,” said he, “I am afraid he has. I go to church and
read the Bible, and try to feel, but I cannot.” I strove to arouse his
fears, but it was in vain. I afterwards learned that he was pursuing
his worldly business on the Sabbath.

It is not for me to pronounce that God had said of all these persons,
they are “joined to their idols, let them alone;” “woe to them when I
depart from them;” but the state of all such is unspeakably alarming.
If the eye of such a one falls upon these lines--if you have persisted
in saying, “Go thy way for this time; let me alone, that I may have the
pleasures of this life,” and have quenched the Spirit by resorting to
amusements, the novel, the ballroom, or the theatre, God may have given
you what you desired; but what have you now of all these pleasures?
Can you look back upon them with an approving conscience? Will they
bring you consolation in a dying hour? Have you not even now in your
own soul, if you would make the confession, the gnawings of the worm
that never dies, the burning of the fire that is never quenched? If the
Spirit of God is now striving with you, it is the most momentous period
of your existence. It is perhaps the turning-point between heaven and
hell--the songs of angels, or the wailings of the finally lost. Beware
of stifling the Spirit. Multitudes have told me the dreadful tale,
“I went to scenes of amusement, or turned to the exciting romance,
and I have felt no anxiety since.” While the Spirit strives it is the
seed-time of eternal life, the embryo of a happy immortality. Sit not
down to count the loss of sinful pleasures; receive the Saviour into
your heart, and you will have pleasures lasting as eternity--pleasures
that leave no sting behind--pleasures that will sustain the soul when
on your dying pillow, when the last trumpet shall sound, and the
congregated world stand before God.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many facts of a more cheering character might be given. The Rev. N.
C----, who had a pastoral charge in M---- county, said to me, “A
colporteur had left a copy of the Anxious Inquirer in the house of
a wealthy man in M---- county. After some time he became interested
for his salvation. One day while there on a visit I pointed him to a
chapter in this book, and requested him to read it. He read it, and
soon found peace. Like every real Christian, he desired the salvation
of his relations. He sent the book to his brother, a physician, who,
together with a sister, were led to Christ by reading it. The book
is kept in the family as an heir-loom.” On another occasion Rev. Mr.
C---- said he was sent for to go some distance to see a sick woman.
His custom was always to carry with him a few select books to give or
loan. He gave her a copy of the Anxious Inquirer, and requested her
husband to read it to her. Both were irreligious; but by God’s blessing
on reading this book, both were led to the Saviour. A colporteur sold
a copy of the same book to a man who sent it to an absent son. It led
him and two of his companions to Christ. A colporteur gave a copy of
Baxter’s Call to a very wicked family, who never went to church. Within
ten months he found the reading of it had been blessed to three of the
household. A tract put into a wagoner’s feed-trough while driving his
team on the Sabbath, was the means of stopping him from travelling on
the Sabbath, and led him to repentance. He became eminent for his
piety and usefulness in the church.

A missionary who preached once a month in a wild region, and gave part
of his time to colporteur work, often told me of a family that lived
just beside his little mountain church, but never entered it. When he
began the colporteur work he made them a visit. The man told him he did
not wish him to say any thing to him on the subject of religion; that
if he wanted to hear him, he could go to the church. All the time he
talked and prayed, the man was muttering, and his wife increased the
speed of her wheel to drown his voice. Finding all his efforts to get
their attention in vain, he laid down a copy of Baxter’s Call and a few
tracts, and left them. On his return to fill his next appointment at
the little church, to his surprise this man and his wife were in the
church near the pulpit. During service they were deeply exercised. At
the close he spoke to them about their souls. They told him that after
he left their house they began to think about the way they had treated
him, and had read his little books, and found they were great sinners.
At his next communion they both joined his church, and they were among
the most consistent and useful of its members.

One morning I took the stage to go to the railroad, some sixteen miles
distant. There were two gentlemen in the stage. Both knew me, but I
did not know them. One was a preacher, with whom I talked all the
way to the dépôt. While waiting for the cars, the other passenger,
a fine-looking young man, said, “I can’t let this opportunity pass
without making myself known to you. Do you remember laying your hand on
the shoulder of a youth in the town of B---- six years ago, and urging
him to seek the favor of God, and handing him a little book?” I said
I had no recollection of it, as I was doing something of that sort
almost every day. “Well,” said he, “that talk and book were the means,
I trust, of my salvation. I have since that time gone through college,
and hope soon to preach the gospel.” He was the son of a poor widow. He
is now an able minister of the New Testament.

One day while on a journey, I came to a very small cabin on the top of
a high mountain. A poor widow was by the door in very homely apparel.
I asked her if she had a Bible. “No,” said she, “but I have a part of a
Testament, and a number of little tracts.” Seeing a number of clean but
poorly clad children, I began to ask them questions. The answers they
gave would have done credit to most of our Sunday-school children. I
asked her if she had a church or Sunday-school near. “No; there is no
church or Sunday-school anywhere in reach. My children have never been
in either, and I have not been at church for eight years.” “Why,” said
I, “madam, how have you got your children so well instructed?” She ran
into her cabin and brought her whole library, which consisted of a part
of a Testament, and several little books and tracts sewed together,
which I learned had been given her by colporteurs in their visits.
Said she, “I read these to my children every Sunday, and teach them to
read them, till they know all that is in them.” I added to her supply
little books till the countenances of herself and her children were
radiant with joy, and I felt it was truly “more blessed to give than to

A few miles further on I stopped at another cabin. The woman looked at
me a moment. “Oh, I know you. You are the man that preached and gave us
tracts at the church down on the river. I trust I was converted there.
Can’t you give me some tracts to give away? I am living now among very
wicked people.” I gave her a package, and passed on.


On the invitation of several leading men, I visited L----, east of the
mountains. The evening I got there the Rev. Mr. N---- called on me to
“hold forth the word of life” for him that night. He stated that there
was some interest in his church, and that he was unable to make any
special effort, on account of his health. Although I had travelled
forty miles that day by stage, in an hour I was addressing the people;
and for eight days meetings were continued by exhorting and scattering
tracts; at the close of which time twenty-two had professed faith in
Christ, some of them among the most influential men in the city.

On the first Sabbath morning I was there, a lady of earnest piety
prevailed on her husband, who was a Universalist and had been raised
in that faith, and a young German whom he had employed as a clerk, to
accompany her to the church. This German had been a tutor in one of the
colleges in Germany, a man of fine education; but he was connected
with a rebellion against the government, and had to fly in the night,
and made an almost miraculous escape in disguise. He was an infidel.
My subject was, “the worth of the soul;” and God truly gave me what I
said. They both became awakened; and seven years after, Mr. H---- the
husband of the lady joined the church, and is now an elder. He says he
was never without conviction from that Sabbath morning till he yielded
to Christ.

The German, Mr. S----, became intensely exercised. He attended all the
inquiry meetings, and often called on the pastor, Mr. N----. His agony
of mind bordered on despair. He was told again and again that whenever
he could give up all for Christ he would find peace. After spending a
whole night in prayer, he came to Mr. N---- in the morning, woke him
out of sleep, and said, “Mr. N----, I have nothing on earth I care for
but this box of rings and jewels, which my mother and sisters took from
their ears and fingers the night I fled from Germany; these I have held
as sacred mementos of their love. Take them, sell them, and give to
the poor.” Mr. N---- said, “Mr. S----, you are not far from the kingdom
of God; let us pray.” In a few moments he threw his arms around Mr.
N----’s neck, saying, “Oh, I have found Jesus.” Mr. N---- handed him
back the box, and said, “Mr. S----, the Lord does not need the jewels.
All he required was, that feeling of heart you manifested in giving
them up.” This man is now a missionary in some of the islands of the
sea. His talents are all consecrated to God.

A young lady, Miss L----, very wealthy and proud, became awakened, and
continued for many days on the verge of despair. She hardly ate or
slept. She even became desperate: said God was not as good as his word;
that she was willing to give up all for Christ, but he would not save
her. We talked and prayed with her several times each day, but all in
vain. At last I said to her, “Miss L----, you say you are willing to
give up all for Christ?” “Yes,” said she, “even life itself.” “Well,”
said I, “in the name of my Master I ask you, out of your large wealth,
to give me a donation for the Tract Society.” She replied sternly, “I
am not going to buy my salvation.” Said I, “The Lord can do without
your money; but I have asked this to show you the deceitfulness of your
own heart. You said a moment ago that you would give even life itself.
Now,” said I, “I shall leave you to reflect.” In a few days she sent
for me to rejoice with her, and the donation was heartily made.

I then labored for three weeks in other churches in the city, and a
large number professed religion.

Among other services, I was a week with Rev. Mr. W----, who has been
for some years president of one of our auxiliary tract societies. At
the close of his meeting one day, he said he would tell them what one
tract had done. He gave the tract, “Have you the Wedding Garment?” to a
young lady, with the request that she would go and read it over three
times. She did so, and the next day she came to him as an inquirer. He
then gave it to her sister, making the same request, and the next day
she was an inquirer. He then gave it to a young man, and he has been
led to Christ by it. “And here before you,” said he, “are all three of
them now rejoicing in hope.”

The last month of the year 1850, I was invited by the Rev. Mr. C----
to visit M---- county, and spend a week with him at each of his
charges, as he had two. The distance was ninety miles; the roads almost
impassable. I shrunk from the journey; but a voice seemed to say,
“You must go.” When I reached the town they were holding a temperance
convention, which I addressed on two occasions.

On Sunday morning I spoke first on the tract cause, and raised a
collection of $150. The night service was well attended. We continued
meeting twice each day, and visited families and distributed books and
tracts all the rest of the time till Wednesday, but with no very marked

Notice had been given that meetings would begin at B----, Mr. C----’s
other charge, nine miles distant, on Thursday morning at eleven. We
reached there at the hour, and had only eleven hearers. At the close
of the service we were invited to a Mr. B----’s to dine. He was a
backslider, rich and eccentric. We had determined to visit families,
talk, pray, and circulate tracts, till the time for the night service.

When we came to Mr. B----’s, the old man invited us into the parlor,
and in a few minutes one of his daughters came in, a very beautiful
girl, and highly educated. After a little time I introduced the subject
of religion to her kindly and politely. She gave me one of the most
scornful looks I ever got, and rose to leave me. I was holding in my
hand the tract “_Don’t be Offended_;” and just as she was passing me I
presented it before her. I saw the father was offended too. Rev. Mr.
C---- and I both felt unhappy; but in a few minutes we were called to
dinner, and Mr. C---- introduced me to two other daughters, which made
all the family.

When we were nearly through dinner, the offended one came to the
table. Her eyes indicated that she had been weeping, but nothing was
said. After dinner we went to another house, and met a young lady who
was teacher in the female academy and also in a dancing-school. She
made very light of religion, and said she preferred the ballroom to
the church. I spoke to her the truth very plainly, and gave her a
tract on dancing; and she turned away offended, and said she had no
respect for such Puritanical religion. At night we had a tolerably
good congregation, and the Lord was there indeed. Such was the state
of things, that we invited all that were concerned about their souls
to remain; and to our utter astonishment, the two offended ones were
among them, weeping bitterly. The exhibition they had made of their
wickedness had so overwhelmed them that they could scarcely wait till
night to confess their sins.

The next morning we resumed our visits. The first visit was to Mr.
T----’s, an elder in the church. In conversation with a daughter of
his she manifested much feeling. I gave a tract to one of his sons,
who, after reading it, came to his mother, and said, “Oh, mother, if
I was to die as I am, my soul would be lost.” That day and night the
congregation was large. By this time the pious people in the church had
awoke, and all were at work with books and tracts. Business was almost
suspended in the village, and religion was the only theme. Almost all
were inquiring the way to Zion, with the exception of half a dozen
men, who threw every obstacle they could in the way. One of the worst
of them went away to get out of the influence of the meetings, and was
dead in three days. Another left his business and went to the country
to avoid the presence of God, and has since died without hope.

The interest had become intense. On the way home from church three
young ladies obtained hope almost simultaneously, and were all embraced
in each other’s arms. A short time after, a number of the anxious were
assembled at Mr. T----’s, where I was stopping. All were pleading for
mercy, but soon they began to sing praises to God. They were heard by
people around, and in a short time many assembled. The new-born souls
were rushing into the arms of each other, and of their fathers and
mothers, and thanking them for their prayers. This joy was no doubt
much like that of the day of Pentecost. One hundred and twenty-five
professed their faith in Christ, and were soon after added to the
churches; and so far as I have been able to learn, there was no
case of backsliding. Where God does the work, the work is well done;
but where it is done by mere human machinery, the results are very
unsatisfactory. The town was revolutionized by this outpouring of the
Spirit. The ballroom gave way to the prayer-meeting, and the drunkard’s
songs to those of Zion.

I gave Baxter’s Call to a youth during this meeting, who told me, eight
years afterwards when I met him a preacher, that that book was the
means of his salvation, and had it not been for it, he never should
have entered the ministry.

At another meeting some months afterwards in C----, there was a
powerful work of grace, in every respect like those to which I have
alluded. One old man professed faith in Christ, who was the third
unbeliever in the family who had been led to Christ by the same copy of
James’ Anxious Inquirer.

I visited J. C. C----, a highly distinguished civilian of threescore
years and ten, who had filled many important stations in life, and who
now felt that his days were nearly ended. He took me by the hand very
kindly, his countenance expressive of deep emotion, and said, “I am an
inquirer on the subject of religion; _I have attended to every thing
but my soul_.” I directed him very briefly to the Saviour, and at the
close told him I would send him a little book in the morning, that
would direct him more fully. He thanked me kindly for the interest I
felt in him, and urged me to call again. The next morning I sent him
James’ Anxious Inquirer.

In four days after I called again. His health had improved. He rose to
his feet, his countenance bespoke peace within, and giving me a cordial
shake by the hand, he said, “I have read that little book through
twice; the great question is answered. I think I understand what is
meant by faith in Jesus Christ.” I then explained to him as fully as I
could the nature of the _new birth_--the evidences by which we might
decide for ourselves the reality of the change. His very appearance
was entirely changed--the deep anxiety that sat on his countenance had
passed away, and happiness was expressed in every feature.

In a few days he was able to walk, and called to see me. He said he
had read the book through again; that it was “_a great book_; but
the writer had omitted one important point--he did not inform the
reader how long the work of sanctification must be continued after
a man was justified; that justification was an act _instantaneous_,
but sanctification was a work.” I replied, “Our Saviour said to the
thief on the cross, ‘This day thou shalt be with me in paradise;’ here
sanctification was completed in a few hours.” “I thank you, sir, that
is enough: here is a check for $30, for the Tract Society; it is doing
a great work.”

For six years he remained steadfast in the great doctrines of
salvation by faith in Christ, and in a blameless Christian life,
though ever distrustful of himself. Soon after his death in February,
1856, at the age of seventy-seven, the Rev. Mr. M---- justly said
of him, “Well-deserved tributes have been paid by the governor of
the commonwealth, and by the legislature and other public bodies to
the distinguished public worth and private virtues of this eminent
citizen. His views of salvation by faith in the crucified Redeemer
were clear and scriptural, and showed that the powers of a vigorous and
highly cultivated mind had been brought to bear upon the all-important
subject. He often expressed surprise that any one could read the holy
Scriptures in the proper spirit, and not be convinced of the reality
of religion, the divinity of the Saviour, and the atoning efficacy of
his precious blood. His faith was simple and childlike. No dependence
whatever was placed in his own merits or righteousness. The atonement
of the Son of God was ‘the anchor of his soul,’ the basis of his hopes
of heaven.”


Most of the facts and incidents in these sketches were committed to
writing about the time of their occurrence, and may be relied on as
simple verities. Much of deep inherent interest, which met my eye, or
fell upon my ear, might have been added, but for its inappropriateness
to the character of this work, or unduly swelling the narrative.

Those enjoying the calm refinements of social life in our favored
cities and villages, who have never entered the abodes of ignorance and
poverty in the moral wastes of the land, may be unwilling to credit
even the facts related; but in a matter of such infinite importance
as the enlightenment and salvation of perishing souls, could the real
facts have been consistently withheld?

In the providence of God I was sent out as a watchman, not upon the
walls of Zion, but _outside of those walls_; and ought I to conceal
the facts, and report, “All’s well,” when hundreds of thousands are
dying in sin and ignorance of the great salvation? Would not such
unfaithfulness be criminal in the sight of God?

And when the Holy Spirit was poured out in marvellous effusions, almost
as in the day of Pentecost, should not the facts be recorded to the
praise of divine grace in Jesus Christ?

Reared as I was from infancy under religious privileges, I had no
idea that any part of our land was in the sad moral condition which I
found actually to exist; or that the distribution of printed truth and
personal labors “publicly and from house to house,” were ever so richly
blessed. And such erroneous and defective impressions as to the wants
of our fellow-men, and the encouragements to labor for their good, I
believe are very prevalent.

I remember the day when I was confident that all around me were well
supplied with the Bible, but on examination I found eight families,
and among them my next door neighbor, who had no Bible; and a pastor
who regarded Bible efforts in his congregation as quite unnecessary,
on investigation received from family after family the report, “No
Bible,” the family of his own sexton being among the number. An
excellent young man, now a missionary in a distant land, on faithfully
exploring a wealthy county, stated what he had seen to Mr. W----,
a distinguished Christian citizen. “I have heard of you,” said the
gentleman. “I don’t believe the statements you are making about the
moral destitutions of this county. I have made up my mind to go with
you and see for myself.” The young man welcomed his company. In the
first dwelling they entered the family had no books, not even a Bible.
Said Mr. W----, “Give them $2 50 worth, and I will pay for them.” In
the next they entered, and in the third, they found equal destitution;
and in each case Mr. W---- said, “Give them $2 50 worth, and I will
foot the bill.” They went further, but soon Mr. W---- said, “My young
friend, the half is not told; take this $20 and go on with this
heaven-directed work.”

As to the rich blessing that has attended the reading of books and
tracts, it is well for those reared in the midst of church privileges
and good libraries to consider how different the influence of a good
book may be on such as have few books, or none at all. Take, if you
please, a prosperous family in the interior of the country, far from
any book-store, who may have an old family Bible, a few school-books,
or perhaps some other old books moral and religious. A colporteur
enters with his saddle-bags of beautiful books. The children are almost
frantic with joy. Each member of the family gets a book. It is devoured
with greediness--not by a gospel-hardened sinner, but by one who has
few or no gospel privileges.

Is it strange that such a one, on reading the Pilgrim’s Progress, the
Anxious Inquirer, or Come to Jesus, is immediately awakened to seek for
pardon and salvation? Is it not rather _more strange_, that every one
who attentively and solemnly reads such a book is not led to Christ?

And when we come down to those who are wholly destitute of books, who
rarely hear a sermon, and yet are able to read, the effect is often
still more powerful for good.

Notwithstanding all that has been done, I believe _one half_ of all the
families in our land now belong to one of these two classes.

Hence the necessity of this system of evangelization. We fear the time
is far distant when our country will be so well supplied with churches
and pastors as to reach the surging masses of all languages that
are crowding our vast territories, seeking homes for themselves and

Let each one ask himself, in view of the final account he must give
to God, “What can I do for these perishing thousands?” Here a way is
pointed out by which every one can do something, either by _laboring_,
_praying_, or _giving_. An old lady unable to move about, with an
income of $600 per annum, gave $150 each year as the salary of a
colporteur, and she had a few other ladies to meet her once each week
to pray for God’s blessing on his labors. Few men in latter days have
done as much good as this colporteur, Mr. C----r. She thus labored by
proxy. The man is still living who at first paid $150 for my support,
and was thus instrumental in whatever good I have done. Hundreds would
be ready to go and work in this department of Christian effort if means
were provided.

This system of labor developes the dormant power of the church.
Hundreds whose influence for good was never felt outside of their own
family circle, have become successful laborers in this heaven-born
work. Many of them are now able ministers of the New Testament, who
would have remained “hewers of wood and drawers of water” had it not
been for this system of doing good. I call to mind the names of a score
of men who have been brought into the work of the ministry either
directly or indirectly by this system of colportage.

Shall a work of so much power for good, and so much needed, be
unsupported? The price of one ocean steamer would support it
efficiently over the whole land for one year.

The issuing of this history is what the writer never intended to
do, or allow others to do while he lived. He has prepared it, if he
knows his own heart, purely with the hope it may do good. He trusts
it may suggest to some whose supreme desire is to honor Christ in
the salvation of men, a way by which they may gain the blessing of
those who “turn many to righteousness,” and who shall shine, above
the brightness of the firmament, “as the stars for ever and ever.”
That this may be the gracious reward of him who writes, and of all who
read this book, is the fervent prayer of THE PIONEER COLPORTEUR IN THE

    NOTE.--The labors of this single-hearted, devoted, and
    fearless servant of Christ were at first secured for one year
    to explore some of these wild mountain gorges. Having been
    continued five years as above, they were extended southward in
    the Alleghany range, and at length over the whole states of
    Virginia and North Carolina, till he had had the coöperation
    of three hundred colporteurs, and their visits had reached
    five hundred thousand families, over forty thousand of whom
    attended no place of evangelical worship. Usually they read
    the Scriptures, conversed, and prayed in each family; and they
    gathered into Sabbath-schools seventy thousand children, many
    of whom received their first book and learned their first
    lesson through this agency. Such wonderful effusions of the
    Holy Spirit as in some instances above recorded, were rarely
    witnessed, but these continued labors were evidently owned in
    the conversion of multitudes of souls. As the writer of the
    above sketches, now a commissioned minister of Christ, has
    well said, “It must have been the work of God, who causes weak
    things to confound the mighty. It was God who led the way, and
    raised up men and means, and guided his servants, and blessed
    them with his presence; and to him be all the glory.”

  W. A. H. SEC’Y.

    NEW YORK, December, 1863.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.

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