Monday, August 5, 2013

I came upon another slice of history I found fascinating, ("Harper Memories," by Robert Harper.)  "School was established in 1802 in a log house near Mr. Osborn's on the south ridge in Harpersfield, taught by Elizabeth Harper, summer, and Abram Tappan, winter.  They rotated for years.  It was the first school on the western reserve.  The scholars in the winter coming thirty miles."

"Religious meetings commenced in grandmother's house and afterwards were held in the log school house.  They consisted of singing and reading sermons as there was no one to pray.  (It was considered at that time improper for anyone but a minister to pray in public.)  Eliza Harper was a good reader and speller and she took her turn in reading the sermons."

Immigrants coming from the background of the Church of England would have felt this way.  Wesley sent Asbury to be in charge of circuit riding preachers to spread the Gospel in America; thus, the Methodists became early on the largest church in America. 

Many of the selections are from this book of the history of Methodism.

I may have shared before about early evangelists with the Cherokee: this is from about 1730.  Unbelievably, several of the chiefs had already made two trips to England, and Chief Oconostota (Old Tassel) was found wearing reading glasses.  "Though the Cherokees knew English, they would not speak it. ( 'They had no words for cursing or swearing.') James McCormick was an old man living with the Cherokee who served as an interpreter.  Martin Schneider told them about Moravians.  "Moravians would not 'meddle with war.'  They would not come to trade or take away land, but teach them abut God their Creator."  Old Tassel, never known to lie, would be glad to have the brothers come and "tell them of Utajah (God) that great Man who dwells above but had to wait till all chiefs and braves came back from winter hunts.  Then he would "call a great meeting to Hear the Mind."  It was a nice of way of putting young Martin off.  The Moravians were not able to establish a mission to the Cherokees until 1803.  Some of the missionaries even went with them on the Trail of Tears to show their support about thirty years later.

An early Presbyterian visitor among Indians "preached Scripture till both he and his audience were heartily tired."  Then he was told by the Cherokees, "that they know very well, that if they were good, they should go up; if they were bad, down.  That he could tell no more, that he had long plagued them with what they no ways understood, and that they desired him to depart their country."

In 1788, the first Western Methodist Conference was held among the Holston Mountains.  Sixteen circuit riding preachers were there.  "The roll call of the frontier conference brought out, among other responses, 'killed by Indians."

"At the head of the Wautaga, we fed and reached Wards that night, and next morning for Brother Coxe's on Holstein River."  "I fed at I. Smith's and prayed with the family.  And now after riding seventy five miles, I have thirty five more to General Russell's.  Midnight brought us up at Jane's after riding forty or perhaps fifty miles.  Beds are in bad state, the floors are worse.  The gnats are almost as troublesome here as the mosquitoes."

A circuit rider was only as good as his horse, his pistol and his Bible.
These men seldom lived past their thirties as
 it was such a hard life exposed to the elements with little provisions.

"At the first Holston Conference in 1788, the road by which the place of meeting was reached from the East was so infested with hostile Indians that it could not be traveled except by considerable companies together.  While the first comers waited for the Bishop (Asbury) and his party, they held a protracted meeting at which there were a large number of souls converted, among whom were mentioned General Russell and lady, the latter a sister of Patrick Henry."

In 1799 there was a campmeeting at Cane Ridge (what became Tennessee) preceeded by revivals and protracted meetings.  Many came fifty to sixty miles.  Some came from Lexington, Kentucky, 180 miles.  One estimated there were 20,000 gathered coming illuminated with lighted candles, lamps, and torches.  The Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Cherokee combined in the mighty revival.  At first locals tried to house the comers, but since there were so many, the campmeeting was born.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession, that you who has called you
out of darkness into His marvelous light;
for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God;
you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
I Peter 2:9-10
It is amazing how casually we take this precious Gospel. 
 " shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" 
Hebrews 2:3
Here's how Asbury thought of his men:
" a young officer who first enters the field, they are competent, from their bravery and merit, to make themselves known and respected among the nations of the world; and though we have not large cities and sea ports, which generally sink into wealth and luxury by which means the offspring dwindle into effeminacy and dissipation, yet I hope we shall always remain as happy, free, and independent as any other people; if not, sure I am, it will be our own fault, and we ought not to be pitied."

A statue in the nation's capitol


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