by Glenn Conjurske
Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian:
and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters,
and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's
flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up
and helped them, and watered their flock. And when they came to Reuel
their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? And
they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds,
and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. And he said
unto his daughters, And where is he? Why is it that ye have left the man?
Call him, that he may eat bread. And Moses was content to dwell with the
man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. (Exodus 2:15-21).
Moses, though forty years old, is yet a single man. Till now he has been
the son of Pharaoh's daughter, living at the Egyptian court, though never
anything but a Hebrew in heart. We suppose that he would not marry an
Egyptian, while he dared not marry a Jew. He would not marry one of the
oppressors of his people, yet while he retained his place among them,
he dared not lower the dignity of the court of Egypt by marrying one of
their oppressed servants. Yet this was doubtless his intention. We can
hardly suppose that so momentous a thing as to refuse to be called the
son of Pharaoh's daughter
----to turn his back on the mother who
had rescued and adopted him, and to abandon the exalted place which she
had given to him ----was the result of a sudden spasm of fear, or
that such a decision was made on the spur of the moment. He had doubtless
long contemplated this. He would leave the court of Pharaoh. He would
identify himself with his own people. He would find a wife among them.
But this was easier contemplated than done, as it was sure to cause great
offence at the Egyptian court. While Moses therefore intended and delayed,
God precipitated the matter, by Moses' own deed, and forced him to act.
But instead of the calm and courageous stand which he meant to make, whenever
he should find the courage to do so, he must now flee for his life. Instead
of finding a place among his own people, he is now a fugitive among strangers
in a far country.
But at any rate he is free. He has repudiated his place at court. He has
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He is now free from
the cares and formalities and restraints of the Egyptian court, but he
is a homeless fugitive, far from his own people, footsore and weary, doubtless
discouraged, sitting by a public well, as he has no place else to go;
lonely and pensive, perhaps thinking of his father Jacob in the same circumstances
years before, and of the singular good fortune which met him there in
the person of his beautiful Rachel.
But what elysian dream is this? He hears the chatter of sweet feminine
voices. He lifts his eyes, and beholds seven fair feminine forms approaching
him. Like Jacob's Rachel, they have come to water their father's flock.
Like Rachel, too, they meet with opposition. Like Jacob, in accordance
with the deep-seated instincts of his masculine heart, Moses stands up
to assert his masculine powers, to assist the women in need. He is a lone
stranger, outnumbered by the shepherds, but he is a man mighty in word
----he knows how to act with authority and power ----and
he prevails, and waters their flock.
The seven daughters of the priest of Midian leave the well, walking slowly
towards their father's house, doubtless discussing what a noble specimen
of masculinity they have just met, while Moses sits still on the well,
watching wistfully their departing footsteps, and casting in his mind
which of them is the fairest. It may be he has settled already upon Zipporah,
though he knows nothing of her name.
Their father soon hears of an Egyptian who helped his daughters,
and wonders why they have left the chivalrous stranger sitting at the
well. Call him, that he may eat bread. He is soon called,
and his circumstances are soon learned. He is a homeless stranger. Yet
Moses is such a man as must soon impress those who meet him with his intrinsic
worth, and the priest of Midian soon takes a liking to him. He will have
him to dwell with him. Moses is content, and likely more than
content. Moses dwells with Reuel. Reuel observes him, is soon satisfied
of his superior worth, and offers him one of his daughters. Moses' choice
has long since been made, and he marries Zipporah. The sweetness of her
voice, the beauty of her face, the light in her eyes, the winsomeness
of her ways, the undefinable traits of her personal self, have set her
off from all the rest, and she suits the heart of Moses as no other can
do. Bear in mind that Moses was forty years old, and no fool. We can hardly
suppose him foolish enough to choose by a lottery, or leave the choice
to his father-in-law. He had no obligation
----and he could surely
have had no inclination ----to take any of the daughters of Reuel,
if they were not pleasing to him, and having his choice among the seven,
we may surely suppose that the one he married was the light of his eyes
and the satisfaction of his heart. Naturally she was doubtless all that
he desired. Yet she was no Israelite, and however the will of the Lord
may have prevailed in her at the last, in the mean while Moses will have
some domestic trouble on her account.
We see nothing more of Zipporah till Moses is sent back to Egypt by the
Lord. Then we are told,
And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass,
and he returned to the land of Egypt: . . . And it came to pass by the
way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah
took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at
his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let
him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
(Exodus 4:20, 24-26).
This is all we know of Zipporah, and yet, after the usual manner of Scripture,
the little which we are told is a great deal after all. From this we know
of a certainty that Zipporah was an intense and passionate opponent of
circumcision, and hence we may conclude with the utmost safety that it
was due to Zipporah's influence that the son of Moses was not circumcised.
More on that anon. But first we must go back to the beginning. Some such
scenes as the following must have occurred.
Zipporah probably knew nothing of circumcision till she married Moses.
She then soon learned that Moses was different from other men
he was missing a part of his anatomy which belongs to all men by nature.
She asks the reason for this, and no doubt receives a full explanation.
Moses was an Israelite, a son of Abraham. Circumcision was given to Abraham,
as the sign of the covenant of God with him, and with his seed. Every
male child born to an Israelite must be circumcised.
Moses no sooner speaks his mind than Zipporah speaks hers. That's
gruesome. She asks when the bloody deed is done, and is told, When
the boy is eight days old.
Eight days old! That's cruel. It's barbarous. I can't believe anyone
would do that to a baby.
Silence follows, while they stand studying each other's eyes. At length
she moves in close to Moses, puts her hands on his shoulders, rests her
arms on his chest, and looks up tenderly and searchingly into his eyes.
Moses . . . , she says with a quiet air of authority, We
won't do that to our babies.
Moses, however, is determined that they shall, and many a dispute must
Now whenever we set ourselves to oppose the will or the ordinance of God,
we must become so far rationalists, and so skilled is the human heart
in the art of rationalism that it may easily raise a dozen plausible objections
which a score of the most seasoned theologians cannot answer, and speak
so convincingly as seemingly to out-argue the Almighty himself. This was
now the business of Zipporah. She will save her tender offspring from
this gruesome operation, and she will become a seasoned theologian herself
in order to do so. How she studies the whole history of the world, and
of the people of God in it! What questions she now puts to Moses concerning
all the work of God in the world
----and all to this one end, that
she may find more arguments against circumcision. We have seen such rationalists
at work, diligently studying the Bible and concordances and commentaries,
ransacking sacred and profane history, all to prove that sprinkling is
baptism, that baptism is unnecessary, that we may forsake the assembling
of ourselves together, that we need not pay our taxes, or support the
preacher, or some other thing which appeals to our personal desires, or
interests, or pride.
Such was now the case with Zipporah, and her arguments are manifold.
Circumcision was a modern thing, never heard of before Abraham. And it
was unnecessary. Noah went to heaven, though he never heard of circumcision.
Enoch walked with God, and pleased God, and was caught up to heaven, and
all this without ever knowing there ever would be such a thing as circumcision.
Moses, however, being an orthodox dispensationalist, argues that these
men lived before Abraham, and so before God gave the covenant of circumcision.
By this he gains nothing. She turns to Melchizedek. Was he not a priest
of the most high God while Abraham walked the earth? Why did God not require
circumcision of him? Did Melchizedek go to hell because he wasn't circumcised?
And what of Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel and Leah? What of his own mother,
and his own sister Miriam? No girls are circumcised. If the thing is unnecessary
for the females, it must be equally unnecessary for the males. Does God
have two standards of righteousness, one for men and one for women? And
Abraham himself was accounted righteous before he was circumcised. How
then can it be necessary? It can't be necessary for salvation, or for
the world to come, and of what benefit can it be for the present life?
What good has it done the Hebrews? They are slaves in Egypt!
But more. The thing itself is barbarous, and impious besides. It mars
the work of God. If God wanted men to be so, he would have created them
so. You don't cut the tail off a calf when it is eight days old, nor the
ears off a dog. This would be to claim a wisdom superior to that of their
creator. This is impious, and unreasonable. And how would I hold up my
head to my sisters when they see my baby so barbarously mutilated? And
I will have to bear the reproach for it. They all thought I was most fortunate
to marry you, but they will change their minds now.
Against all this Moses has but one plea. God commands it.
Zipporah remains entrenched just where she was. Do you mean to tell
me then that God commands the unreasonable, the senseless, the unnecessary,
the barbarous, the impious? I can never believe it.
Yet Moses prevails, if not by argument, then by authority. Their first
son is born, and is circumcised, over all the arguments and all the tears
This much is clear from the Scriptural account. And Moses took his
wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land
of Egypt: . . . And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD
met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and
cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet. Moses
had two sons. If both of them were uncircumcised, Zipporah has done but
half her work, in cutting off the foreskin of her son. Yet God is satisfied,
and lets Moses go. But one son was circumcised in the inn, whence we conclude
that but one of Moses's sons was uncircumcised before, and this of course was the younger of the two. If Moses had been thus remiss at the birth
of the first, he would doubtless have been so at the second also. If he
had failed to circumcise the first, and afterwards repented, to circumcise
the second, that repentance must have led him to circumcise the first
We hold it as a certain fact, then, that Moses' firstborn was circumcised,
over all the objections of his wife. Zipporah of course observed the operation,
with her eyes full of tears, and her mouth full of reproaches
same sort of reproaches which she cast in the teeth of Moses years later
at the inn. And if she was an enemy of circumcision before, she was tenfold
more so now. She saw her baby's blood. She heard his screams. She cuddled
and rocked and nursed him afterwards, while he cried and whimpered for
the pain. And she resolved in her heart ----never again. She must
now dig in her heels for a further conflict, redouble her efforts, her
tears, her determination, her arguments.
In the passing of time she learns that she is once more with child. She
now sets herself most earnestly to pray for a baby girl, and for nine
months she pleads, Oh, God, let this baby be a girl!
the Lord heeds her not. There are many difficult issues which we do not
care to face. We seek to avoid them, by wisdom, by stratagems, by labor,
by prayer, but God will have us to face them. He is always arranging our
circumstances to try our obedience and our character. He therefore defeats
our stratagems and disregards our prayers, and brings us face to face
with those hard issues which we had sought by all means to avoid. So he
does with Zipporah, and she must give birth to another boy.
But while she has wrestled with God, she has not failed to wrestle with
Moses. Her tears have flowed more freely than before, and her reproaches
have been more keen, so that after hearing from her for nine months, Moses
himself must be ready to believe that circumcision is the most barbarous
thing ever instituted on the earth. His heart, too, is moved by her tears.
And doubtless he longs for peace. When he comes in from his long days
and nights on the hillside with his father-in-law's flocks, he wants peace
and serenity at home. He wants warmth and love, not strife and debate.
Moses therefore yields to her, and the boy is not circumcised.
Zipporah has fought a hard battle, and she has won. She has conquered
her husband. She has conquered the man of God
she has not conquered God. He will yet conquer her, though it must be
by a hard stroke.
Neither has she conquered her conscience. The victories which we gain
over truth and right seldom give us much satisfaction, for conscience
remains just where it was
----always on the side of God and right ----never
yielding an inch, though husbands and parents and masters and kings, and
all the affairs of house and church and kingdom, should tamely submit
to our wayward wishes. The victory which leaves conscience opposed is
a hollow one, and such was the victory of Zipporah. Conscience will yet
have its own, and she herself will do the bloody deed which she could
not bear that her husband should do before, and do it too in a manner
more barbarous than anything ever contemplated by Moses.
Years pass, however, and she is at peace, in the possession of her hollow
----as near to peace, that is, as a woman can be who is
as war with her conscience. She now has peace with Moses, but conflict
within. That conflict, however, is not a severe one. Conscience will continue
to speak, especially in times of fear or mishap, but its chidings are
neither sharp nor many, and the longer the time which passes, the easier
she becomes. She has nearly persuaded herself that God is on her side.
Not quite, however, for conscience can never be quite suppressed. It is
the working of conscience which we see at the inn, on the way to Egypt,
and how exquisite its working.
God has been forty years in preparing Moses for this time. God has now
appeared to him, spoken to him, sent him. He gathers up his little family,
sets them upon asses, and begins the long journey back to Egypt, this
time to accomplish what he had failed to do forty years before. God has
sent him, God is with him, the destiny of the people of God is in his
hands, and who would now dream that God will lay hold of him in the inn,
and seek to kill him? Yet so it happens, for God has a controversy with
Moses. Zipporah has sinned in opposing the ordinance of God, and Moses
has sinned in yielding to her. Moses evidently has the greater responsibility,
and at any rate God will not have him to stand up as the leader of his
people, while he stands delinquent in the covenant of his God. Neither
is this a light matter, and God lays hold of him to kill him.
Moses is now in the grasp of death. Zipporah is struck with consternation.
This is no minor fever
----no mere headache in her uncircumcised
son ----no mere threatening of wind or weather. Conscience has doubtless
spoken on such occasions, but she has put it off. Now it cries aloud,
and she cannot ignore it. She must act without delay. No time now to inquire
the reason for this hard stroke. Nor any need to inquire, either, for
conscience now asserts itself, and Zipporah knows very well what the issue
is. She knows very well where her will is at war with the ordinance of
God. She knows where God has a controversy with her. She knows, therefore,
exactly what to do, and how to do it, too, for she doubtless observed
the circumcision of her first son. It is her certain and unerring knowledge
as to the reason of this calamity which persuades us that it was due entirely
to her influence that Moses neglected his duty in his second son. Deep
down she has felt her delinquency all these years, though doing her best
to ignore it, and to persuade herself that she was in the right. She can
do so no more. God has come to reckon with her, and she knows it.
Neither is there any time to waste in the doing, but she is now in a hard
place. She must act in haste to circumcise her son, but she is a traveller,
just stopped for the night at an inn, with nothing in hand with which
to accomplish it. Joshua
----at his leisure ----made
him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of
the foreskins, but no such luxury comes to the hand of Zipporah.
She finds, therefore, a sharp stone. Yet methinks no stone
quite sharp enough for so delicate an operation, and certainly not when
she has neither time nor means to dress the edge. Her stone perhaps more
grinds and tears than cuts, but she has no choice. What she would not
allow at her leisure at home she must now perform in her extremity on
the road, with such an instrument as she can find. It is often easier
to obey God when we ought than when we must, for God is righteous, and
will make us feel our delinquency. She, therefore, who refused to allow
her husband to do the easier thing, must now do the harder thing herself.
But however difficult and distasteful, she performs the bloody rite, and
thus clears her own conscience, and delivers her husband from the grasp
Thus do the hand of God and the voice of conscience conspire together
to subject the will of this woman. But she is no more reconciled to circumcision
in her heart than she was before. She will lay down the sword of her warfare
against the ordinance of God, but she will not do this tamely nor gently,
but rather in such a manner as to let it be known that her submission
is anything but congenial to her. She therefore casts her son's foreskin
at his feet
----at the feet of Moses, we suppose. This
was one last act ----and done with petulance enough, no doubt ----by
which she displayed her detestation of the rite to which she was forced
to submit. How like a woman is this!
Neither is her saucy tongue yet tamed. She will yield the victory in this
her extremity, but not without one last word of reproach concerning the
barbarous operation. She will yield the point, driven by hard necessity,
but she will yet have it known what she thinks of the matter. She says
therefore to Moses, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me!
Such a remark, no doubt spoken in the most petulant manner, must give
pain to Moses, and she may read the pain in his eyes. And really it is
not so much Moses she designs to reproach, as the ordinance of God. She
adds therefore, in a softer tone, A bloody husband thou art, because
of the circumcision. Towards that she will not soften her words.
Meanwhile, God has accepted her obedience, and let her husband go. It
may take years yet ere she can be reconciled in heart to the bloody ordinance
perhaps she never will be ----but God does not regard that. It is
obedience for which he looks, whatever our feelings may be. It is the
will which concerns him. In circumcising her son, she has yielded her
will, and this God has accepted. This is where true religion lies, and
not in our likes or dislikes ----not in what we wish, but in what
we choose. The fact is, true religion requires self-denial of us, and
self-denial consists of none other thing than choosing to act contrary
to our desires. God does not require us to hate our right eye, but to
pluck it out, and cast it from us. He does not expect us to feel any antipathy
towards our right hand, but to cut it off, and cast it from us. He has
no controversy with us if we desire to retain our right foot, so long
as we cut it off, and cast it from us. Neither will he regard our distaste
for the painful operations by which such things are cut away, so long
as we perform them. Thus did Zipporah when she cut off the foreskin of
her son, and this was acceptable to God. We will not pretend that her
spirit or her words were altogether acceptable, but sin cleaves to all
of us, and even our best actions may be tainted.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
As I have been censured for reading too much into the Biblical accounts
in some of the character sketches which I have written, I observe, first,
that I do not pretend to give the actual acts or words of the persons
involved, but rather to depict the emotions, purposes, and principles which either certainly or most probably obtained in those scenes
to so depict them that they may be felt in the hearts and consciences
of the readers. I observe in the second place that in so doing, I do nothing
other than has been done before me, by Bishop Hall, by D. L. Moody, and
by many other servants of the Lord. I find much in which to delight in
the contemplations of Bishop Hall, but when (as often happens) I cannot
agree with some of his interpretations, I simply pass them by, without
condemning the gold for the dross. I observe in the third place that the
things which I write are generally the fruit of long and careful meditation,
and of consultation too, where I have any doubt. I am, of course, liable
to err in my interpretation of particular acts or events, but I am cautious
to thrust nothing into the account which is not true to the life, and
therefore of profit on its own account. Most of the comments which I have
received on these character sketches have been in terms of high praise.
A devoted and spiritual man in his middle eighties ----and one of
the most conservative of men ----tells me that Leah, Rachel, and
Joseph are all masterpieces. Another servant of the Lord writes
that they are all excellent ----especially Abigail ----and should be put in book
form. When such comments as these come from old servants of God,
some of whom have served the Lord since before I was born, I consider
that a sufficient vindication of my method. Nevertheless, I invite the
remarks of others of my readers. ----editor.
by Glenn Conjurske
Far be it from me to write anything which would encourage a spirit of
disobedience, or recommend disobedience as a usual practice. I am generally
accused of making too much of authority, not too little. Still there are
many in this day whose doctrine of authority is so extreme as to really
call for an answer. Most of the teachers of these extreme doctrines are
very inconsistent. They stand for implicit and universal obedience to
parents, or to husbands, or to civil authorities, but rarely to all authority,
or to authority as such, so that we sometimes meet with the anomaly of
people standing for implicit obedience to authority in the home, or in
the state, who will recognize no authority at all in the church.
All authority comes down from God, and God commands obedience. He explicitly commands obedience to parents, to husbands, to masters, to the powers
that be in the state, and to them that have the rule in the church. But
we absolutely deny that he commands implicit or universal obedience to
any of these, or to any man whatsoever. The principle which limits our
obedience to human authorities is, We ought to obey God rather than
men. This principle is clearly stated in the New Testament (Acts
5:29), and abundantly exemplified in the Old Testament, in such cases
as Daniel, his three companions, and the Hebrew midwives in Egypt. These
all disobeyed the authorities, and all with the evident blessing of God.
Of the midwives we read, Therefore
----[because they disobeyed
the command of the king] ----God dealt well with the midwives: and
the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because
the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. (Ex. 1:20-21).
The Lord so far owned the disobedience of Daniel and of his three companions
as to miraculously deliver the one from the mouths of the lions, and the
others from the burning fiery furnace.
Yet we observe that these examples give no excuse for usual or habitual disobedience, nor to any disobedience whatsoever in matters which do not
affect the conscience. Daniel was so far obedient to the authorities above
him that his enemies could find nothing against him, and only succeeded
in condemning him by creating a new law on purpose to ensnare him. To
accomplish this nefarious purpose they must leave what was Caesar's, and
invade what was God's
----for they knew they would find nothing
against him, except it concerned the law of his God.
And here lies the crux of the matter. In all those things which God has
left indifferent, we ought to obey the authorities which he has placed
above us, but in all those matters in which God has spoken, whether by
precept or principle, either to require or to forbid, We ought to
obey God rather than men. If a parent, a ruler, or a husband requires
us to wear black or white dresses, or forbids us to wear blue or green
ones, we ought to obey, but if he requires us to wear them tight, or short,
or otherwise immodest, we ought to disobey. No man has the right to require
us to do wrong, and we have no right to obey any such requirement.
But we observe that there are different sorts of requirements. If any
man requires us to do what God forbids, the case is perfectly plain. We
must obey God, and disobey the authority. On the other hand, if we are
forbidden to do what God requires, the case may not be so plain, for God
may not require us to do it on every occasion, or in every place. If we
are forbidden to preach the gospel at all, the case is plain, but if we
are only forbidden to preach it in certain places
----in a city
street, or in a city park ----the case is not so plain, so long
as we might preach the gospel elsewhere. God himself forbade his apostles
to preach the gospel in Asia on a certain occasion. If a husband forbids
his wife to attend the meetings of the saints at all, the case is plain.
If he only forbids her to attend a certain meeting, the case is not so
plain, yet we think she would be justified in disobeying him, for she
ought by all means to render to God what is God's, and if the meeting
which he disallows is the one where she has found the blessing of God
upon her soul, it may be a matter of rendering to God what is God's for
her to continue there. To forsake a spiritual church, where she has learned
to expect the blessing of God upon her soul and upon her children, in
order to submit to a husband who will have her attend a lukewarm and unspiritual
church, may in reality be unfaithfulness to God. I have known a number
of cases in which a spouse has said, I will go with you if you go
to this church, but I will not go to that one ----
invariably preferring the lukewarm and worldly over the zealous and
spiritual ----and I have known spouses to submit to this, but I
have never known the blessing of God to follow.
I am about to relate a number of cases of domestic disobedience which
were owned and blessed of God, and some of these consisted precisely of
disobedience to a prohibition to attend a certain meeting, where the word
of God was faithfully preached. The blessing of God followed in the most
signal fashion in a number of those cases.
The disobedience of an Indian Methodist wife is briefly related by another
Indian convert, a Methodist preacher to his own people. John Sunday
informed us of a certain Indian, who was so much opposed to the meetings,
that he confined his wife and children to one of the islands, to prevent
her attending them. But this poor woman was so anxious to obey God in
attendance on worship, that she was in the habit of fording the river
every night, and carrying her children on her back. Her husband was afterwards
The Baptist evangelist Jabez Swan relates several cases of wives who disobeyed
their husbands. A wife came to the church to apply for membership,
whose husband said if she was baptized he would roast her when she got
home; and he got his wood and commenced heating the oven before she left.
She came to me for advice as to what she should do. I advised her by all
means to obey the Lord, and if her husband should kill her, the Devil
was sure of him, and he would never then trouble her more, for she would
find rest in heaven. She promptly obeyed the Lord, and when she got home
the oven fire had all burned out, and her husband lay prostrate on the
floor crying to God for mercy.
Another wife, a most genial loving christian, informed her husband
of her intention to be baptized. This so provoked his wrath that his soul
he had left ----for he was a drunkard ----seemed like an uncapped
volcano, and poured out wrath like cinders and smoke from hell. When the
storm had partially subsided, she in a calm tone said, 'Daniel, I love
you as well as I ever did, but shall be baptized to-day, and when I am
baptized, if you do not wish me to return home, I will go home with father;
he will be to meeting with the family carriage.' This unexpected coolness
and determination disarmed the tiger, and he went out and waited upon
her to the water, like a gentleman, as he once was, before rum had honey-combed
his heart and eaten out his manhood.
Another case where a wife wished to follow Christ in the ordinance
of baptism, the husband said, 'I never was drunk, but if you go, I will
go to the tavern and get drunk, if there is whisky enough to make me so.'
He put his horses, with the crack of the whip, for the tavern; but, before
arriving, he walked his team. On arriving he drank no whisky. The wife
returned from church happy. He returned from the tavern with the pains
of hell hold of him. Night came on; the family retired. His head seemed
as if heated from the fires of the pit. He arose, called on his wife to
pray for him, found mercy, and united with the same church.
Another remarkable case of a wife whose husband threatened to roast her
in the oven is related by John Fletcher. One Sunday, when I had
done reading prayers at Madeley, I went up into the pulpit, intending
to preach a sermon, which I had prepared for that purpose. But my mind
was so confused, that I could not recollect either my text or any part
of my sermon. I was afraid I should be obliged to come down without saying
any thing. But having recollected myself a little, I thought I would say
something on the First Lesson, which was the third chapter of Daniel,
containing the account of the three children cast into the fiery furnace:
I found in doing it such an extraordinary assistance from God, and such
a peculiar enlargement of heart, that I supposed there must be some peculiar
cause of it. I therefore desired, if any of the congregation found any
thing particular, they would acquaint me with it in the ensuing week.
In consequence of this, the Wednesday after, a woman came, and gave
me the following account:
----'I have been for some time much concerned
about my soul. I have attended the church at all opportunities, and have
spent much time in private prayer. At this my husband (who is a butcher)
has been exceedingly enraged, and threatened me severely what he would
do, if I did not leave off going to John Fletcher's church; yea, if I
dared to go any more to any religious meetings whatsoever. When I told
him I could not in conscience refrain from going at least to our parish
church, he grew quite outrageous, and swore dreadfully, if I went any
more, he would cut my throat as soon as I came home. This made me cry
mightily to God, that he would support me in the trying hour. And though
I did not feel any great degree of comfort, yet having a sure confidence
in God, I determined to go on in my duty, and leave the event to him.
Last Sunday, after many struggles with the devil and my own heart, I came
down stairs ready for church. My husband asked me, whether I was resolved
to go thither. I told him, I was. Well then, said he, I shall not (as
I intended) cut your throat; but I will heat the oven, and throw you into
it the moment you come home. Notwithstanding this threatening, which he
enforced with many bitter oaths, I went to church, praying all the way
that God would strengthen me to suffer whatever might befall me. While
you was speaking of the three children whom Nebuchadnezzar cast into the
burning fiery furnace, I found it all belonged to me, and God applied
every word to my heart. And when the sermon was ended, I thought, if I
had a thousand lives, I could lay them all down for God. I felt my whole
soul so filled with his love, that I hastened home, fully determined to
give myself to whatsoever God pleased; nothing doubting, but that either
he would take me to heaven, if he suffered me to be burned to death, or
that he would some way deliver me, even as he did his three servants that
trusted in him. When I got almost to our own door, I saw the flames issuing
out of the mouth of the oven. And I expected nothing else, but that I
should be thrown into it immediately. I felt my heart rejoice, that if
it were so, the will of the Lord would be done. I opened the door, and,
to my utter astonishment, saw my husband upon his knees, wrestling with
God in prayer for the forgiveness of his sins. He caught me in his arms,
earnestly begged my pardon, and has continued diligently seeking God ever
since.' I now know why my sermon was taken from me; namely, that God might
thus magnify his mercy.
In this account I beg the reader to observe the very signal blessing of
God which attended this woman's disobedience, first in his providence,
in securing that the appointed scripture for the day should contain the
account of the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and next in the undoubted
manifestation of his hand in the preacher's great confusion of mind and
the forgetting of his sermon, and further in the evident work of his Spirit
in giving to Mr. Fletcher such singular and extraordinary unction on that
occasion, and finally, in the further work of his Spirit in subduing the
obdurate heart of the woman's husband.
Another case of a wife's disobedience is related by Thomas Ware. During
my labours on this district, I formed an acquaintance with some of the
most devoted, holy, zealous, and faithful people I ever knew. Some of
them had been called to pass through fiery trials; and their steadfastness
was proverbial. A sister Jones, of Mecklenburg, was a remarkable instance
of this. She was a person of superior gifts as well as grace; and her
courage and perseverance in the service of the Lord constrained all who
knew her to acknowledge her deep sincerity.
Her husband cherished the most bitter and inveterate prejudice against
the Methodists; and, being naturally a man of violent passions and a most
ungovernable temper, he, by his threats, deterred her, for a time, from
joining them. Nor did he stop here, but positively forbade her going to
hear them. Soon after this, Mr. Easter, a man remarkably owned of God,
and a favourite preacher of Mrs. Jones, was to preach in the neighbourhood.
Mrs. Jones told her husband she believed it to be a duty which she owed
to God and herself to go and hear Mr. Easter, and begged his permission.
But he refused. She then said, she should be compelled, from a sense of
obligation to a higher power, to disobey his command. At this, he became
enraged, and, in his fury, swore, if she did, he would charge his gun
and shoot her when she returned. But this tremendous threat did not deter
her. During preaching she was remarkably blessed and strengthened; and,
on her return, met her infuriated husband at the door, with his gun in
his hand. She accosted him mildly, and said, 'My dear, if you take my
life, you must obtain leave of my heavenly Spouse;' and thus saying, approached
him and took the deadly weapon out of his hand, without meeting with any
This virulent temper God in due time softened and subdued, so that
the tiger became a lamb. When on my way to my first quarterly meeting
in Mecklenburg in this district, I called on Mr. Jones, and had the whole
history of this transaction from the parties themselves, who, now united
with one heart in the service of God, accompanied me to the meeting.
Another wife disobeyed her husband under the threat of a whipping, and
was actually whipped for it, with what results the following account will
tell. Not many miles from the camp-ground there lived an ungodly
man, whose wife, though not a professor of religion, having heard of the
meeting, was desirous to attend. She had never been to a camp meeting
before, and her desire to attend, like that which actuates too many others,
was simply to gratify her curiosity. It was with some considerable difficulty
that she could get her husband's consent, for even backwoods wives in
that day were accustomed to look up to their husbands for advice. She
finally succeeded, however, as women generally do when they take the right
course, in overcoming her husband's opposition. He agreed to stay home
and mind the children while she would be absent, but commanded her to
come home by the middle of the afternoon, on pain of getting a whipping.
The poor woman, with the brutal threat resting over her head, arrived
upon the ground at an early hour. Scarcely had she got within the circle
of tents and taken her seat in the congregation, till she began to feel
sad at heart. A wonderful power had taken hold of her mind. Her thoughts
were carried back to the days of her youth; her early religious thoughts
were awakened; tears began to flow, as her children and husband passed
rapidly but vividly before her; her sins rose up in frightful, hideous
forms to her excited imagination and conscience; and tears and sobs gave
place to groans and cries for mercy. She soon became an object of attention,
and prayers from many a sympathizing heart went up to God in her behalf.
She had already remained beyond the time allotted her by her husband,
but her heart was too much burdened to think of returning. She could bear
reproach, and scorn, and scourging, but a wounded conscience was insupportable.
Through the entire day she continued to plead for mercy, and when the
shades of night were gathering around, and forest and tent were lighted
up with the watch fires, and the voices of praise and prayer were swelling
out in anthems and supplications to the God of heaven, she embraced the
cross with all the fervor of her soul, and her burden, like that of Christian's
in Bunyan's Pilgrim, rolled away from her and was lost in the tomb of
forgetfulness. It was then that she passed from darkness to light, and
from the bondage of Satan to the liberty of the children of God.
That night was spent in rejoicing, and when the morning came, with
a glad heart and free, she started home to meet her enraged and cruel
husband. She was always amiable, but she met him that morning with a smile
and a sweetness that only grace can spread over the features. With meekness
and humility she told him of the cause of her detention, and concluded
by a simple narration of what God had done for her soul. This, however,
as is usually the case, only enraged him the more, and taking his wagon
whip he beat her most severely. This she could have borne without religion,
for it was nothing when compared with the lashes of a guilty conscience;
but now that her soul was full of the love of God, with a martyr spirit
she could have borne the torture or the stake, in the name and for the
sake of Jesus. From that hour the iron entered his soul only to be extracted
by an omnipotent Hand. He raged like a maniac, and swore that he would
take vengeance in firing the encampment that night.
Night came, and this inhuman fiend started out under its cover to
execute his fearful threat. When he arrived upon the ground the Indian
brethren were engaged in a most glorious work. The groans of the penitent,
and the shouts of praise of the converted, were mingled together, and
the sound of the many voices was like the roar of the distant sea. While
this sound waked the songs of heaven, it was a 'dreadful sound' to that
ungodly man, and carried, like the sound in the Assyrian camp, terror
to his heart. He drew near. There was terror in his face and wildness
in his eye as the watch-fire gleamed upon him, but his heart had lost
its courage, and his arm its nerve. As he gazed upon the scene, like Belshazzar,
in the court of Babylon, in sight of the mysterious characters of fire,
which blazed out upon him, his knees trembled, his heart quaked, and he
fell prostrate upon the ground, crying for mercy. He was picked up by
an athletic Indian, who fully understood the nature of his condition,
and carried him into the circle. No sooner was the sturdy Saul prostrate
before the Indians, than a volley of prayer went up in his behalf that
almost rent the heavens. He was a prisoner, captured by one the scouts
of Immanuel's army, but he was wounded and dying. His captor bent down
closely with his ear, to listen to his dying groans, and would say to
him in Indian, 'by and by.'There lay the prostrate sinner pleading
for mercy. The Indians stood by him, and sang and prayed till long after
the noon of night. It was a desperate struggle, and seemed doubtful whether
there was mercy for such a bold blasphemer and cruel persecutor. But just
before day, when the stars began to fade in the light of the gray streaks
of morning, God's mercy came, the long agony was over, and the blasphemer
and persecutor was changed into a child of God; the heir of hell was made
an heir of heaven. To the astonishment of all, after his first bursts
of praise were over, he related his cruel conduct to his wife, and his
intention, as a matter of revenge, of setting the encampment on fire.
Some one present interpreted his confession and experience to the Indians.
When he was through, the noble-hearted Mononcue stepped up to him, and
taking him by the hand said, 'Now, my white brother, God converted your
wife, and you whipped her for it, and God has converted you. Go home and
tell her what God has done for your soul, and let her take the same whip,
if she desires so to do, and whip you in return. It is good that God has
converted you both. Go in peace, and sin no more.'
The disobedience of the two sons of a German was thus related at a Methodist
love feast by the man himself. Mine dear bredren, I want to tell
you some mine experience. When de Metodists first came into dese parts,
I tot I was doing bery well; for mine wife and I had two sons, Ned and
Jim; and we had a good farm dat Neddy and I could work bery well, so I
let Jim go out to work about fourteen miles off from home. But de Metodists
come into our parts, and Neddy went to dare meeting, and he got converted,
and I tot we should be all undone; so I told Ned he must not go to dese
Metodists meetings, for so much praying and so much going to meeting would
ruin us all. But Neddy said, 'O fader, I must serve de Lord and save my
soul.' But, I said, you must do de work too. So I gave him a hard stint
on the day of dere meeting; but he work so hard dat he got his stint done,
and went to de meeting after all. While I set on mine stoop and smoked
mine pipe, I see him go over de hill to de Metodist meeting, and I said
to my wife, Elizabet, we shall be undone, for our Ned will go to dese
meetings; and she said, 'What can we do?' Well, I said, den I will stint
him harder; and so I did several times when de meeting come. But Neddy
worked hard, and sometimes he got some boys to help him, so dat he would
go off to de meeting while I set on my stoop and smoked mine pipe. I could
see Ned go over de hill. I said one day, O mine Got, what can I do
boy will go to dese meetings, after all I can do? So when Ned come home
I said, Ned, you must leave off going to dese meetings, or I will send
for Jim to come home, and turn you away. But Neddy said, 'O fader, I must
serve de Lord and save my soul.' Well, den, I will send for Jim; so I
sent for Jim; and when he come home, den I heard he had been to de Metodist
meeting where he had lived, and he was converted too. And Ned and Jim
both said, 'O fader, we must serve de Lord and save our souls.' But I
said to mine wife, Dese Metodists must be wrong; da will undo us all,
for da have got Ned and Jim both; I wish you would go to dare meeting,
and you can see what is wrong; but Ned and Jim can't see it. So de next
meeting day de old woman went wid Ned and Jim; but I set on mine stoop,
and smoked mine pipe. But I said to mine self, I guess dese Metodists
have got dar match to git de old woman, and she will see what's wrong.
So I smoked mine pipe, and looked to see dem come back. By and by I see
dem coming; and when da come near I see de tears run down mine wife's
face. Den I said, O mine Got, da have got de old woman too. I tot I am
undone; for da have got Ned, and Jim, and de old woman. And when da come
on de stoop mine wife said, 'O we must not speak against dis people, for
da are de people of Got.' But I said noting, for I had not been to any
of de meetings, so I was in great trouble. But in a few days after I heard
dat dare was a Presbyterian missionary going to preach a little ways off;
so I tot I would go, for I tot it would not hurt anybody to go to his
meeting; and I went wid Ned, and Jim, and mine wife, and he preached;
but dere was noting done till after de meeting was over, and den dere
was two young men in de toder room dat sung and prayed so good as anybody;
and da prayed for dar old fader too. Any many cried, and I tot da prayed
bery well. After dis I was going out of de door to go home, and a woman
said to me, 'Mr. ---- ------, you must be a happy man to
have two such young men as dem dat prayed.' I said, Was that Ned and Jim?
She said, 'Yes.' O, I felt so mad to tink dey had prayed for me, and exposed
me before all de people. But I said noting, but went home, and I went
right to bed. But now my mind was more troubled dan ever before, for I
began to tink how wicked I was to stint poor Neddy so hard, and try to
hinder him from saving his soul ----but I said noting, and mine
wife said noting; so I tried to go to sleep; but as soon as I shut mine
eyes I could see Neddy going over de hill to go to his meeting, after
he had done his hard stint, so tired and weary. Den I felt worse and worse;
and by and by I groaned out, and mine wife axt me 'what's de matter?'
I said, I believe I am dying. She said, 'Shall I call up Ned and Jim?'
I said, Yes. And Jim come to de bed and said, 'O fader, what is de matter?'
I said, I believe I am dying. And he said, 'Fader, shall I pray for you?'
I said, O yes, and Neddy too. And glory be to Got, I believe he heard
prayer; for tough I felt mine sins like a mountain load to sink me down
to hell, I cried, O Got, have mercy on me, a poor sinner; and by and by
I feel someting run all over me, and split mine heart all to pieces, and
I felt so humble and so loving dat I rejoice and praise Got; and now I
am resolved to serve Got wit Ned, and Jim, and mine wife, and dese Metodists.
Observe, the boy was obedient and dutiful, and submitted without a murmur
to the hard stint which was unrighteously laid upon him. Still, he must
go to the meetings, against his father's will and command.
We continue with the account of the disobedience of an obedient daughter.
Her father was a prominent man, a member of the legislature, and a determined
and outspoken infidel. Her mother was likewise an infidel, and this, their
only child, was nurtured on infidel books and religiously kept from all
religion. In her father's absence, however, and without her mother's knowledge,
she went to a Methodist meeting, where the heart of the young girl
was broken up, and she wept aloud.
When the meeting was ended she returned home; but so deeply was
she affected by what she had heard that it was impossible for her to conceal
her feelings from her mother, who, in a stern voice, asked her where she
had been, almost as soon as she entered the sitting-room. On being informed
that she had been to meeting, she became very much excited, and said,
in an angry tone, 'If you go again those ignorant fanatics will ruin you
forever; and if it comes to your father's ears that you have been to a
Methodist meeting, he will banish you from the house; besides, you ought
to know better. The instructions you have received should guard you against
all such improprieties, and I hope hereafter I shall never hear of your
being at such a place.
'Night came, and with it came the hour for meeting. Now commenced a conflict
in the mind of the daughter. She had never disobeyed her mother, nor
did she ever feel disposed to act contrary to her wishes in any respect;
but her heart longed for the place of prayer, and she felt strongly drawn
to it by a secret, invisible agency she could not resist. 'Shall I,' she
said to herself, 'disobey my mother, and incur the displeasure of my faither,
and perhaps banishment from home? But the preacher said that the
Savior of the world declared that 'whosoever loveth father or mother more
than me is not worthy of me; and whosoever will not forsake father and
mother for my sake and the Gospel's, shall not enter heaven.' I
will forsake all for Christ.' The crisis had come; the gate was passed;
and her joyous destiny was sealed forever. She left her home and went
to meeting. An inviting sermon was preached, at the close of which seekers
of religion were invited to kneel at the mourner's bench, and pray for
pardon. No sooner was the invitation given than she pressed her way through
the crowd, and fell upon the bench, crying for mercy. Her full heart now
poured forth its griefs in sobs and fervent prayers. ... There, at that
mourner's bench, she struggled in agonizing prayer for two hours. ...
At length the last hymn was rolling up from swelling hearts and tuneful
voices to heaven. The last stanza was reached, ... and as the last strain
sounded in the ear of the penitent, she gently threw back her head, and
opened her calm blue eyes, yet sparkling with tears; but they were the
tears that told of sins forgiven. She had emerged from the darkness, and
the light of heaven was beaming upon her happy countenance, and an unearthly
radiance gleamed like a glory on her brow. If before she was beautiful,
now that she was adorned with heavenly grace one might think she could
claim kindred with the skies. She arose, and embraced in her arms the
sisters who had prayed with her, and pointed her to the Lamb of God, who
taketh away the sin of the world. She had passed the noon of many a night
in scenes of guilty mirth and revelry, where she was the foremost of the
band, the fairest of the fair; but never did such joy and gladness come
to her soul as she experienced on that occasion. She returned home, feeling
now that she could gladly bear any thing for the sake of her Lord and
Master. When she arrived she related to her mother what had occurred,
and exclaimed, 'O, how precious is the Savior!' She would have embraced
her mother in her arms; but she repulsed her and reproached her, telling
her that if she did not cease her nonsense she would drive her away from
the house, and that she had disgraced the family and ruined herself forever.
She retired to her room, and spent the remainder of the night in prayer
and praise to God.
Soon it was noised abroad that the infidel's daughter was converted;
and some of his friends, supposing, doubtless, that they would render
him great service, wrote to him on the subject, giving him the most absurd
and ridiculous accounts of her exercises while at the mourner's bench,
and after she was converted. When Mr. P. received this intelligence he
was greatly enraged, and swore that he would banish his daughter from
his house, and she should be entirely disinherited and disowned. All this
moved not the converted daughter; for she realized the truth of the Divine
declaration, 'When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will
take me up.' The day was at length fixed for his return home, and Eliza
that was the daughter's name ----placed herself at the window to
watch his arrival. In the afternoon he was seen approaching on horseback,
and Eliza hastened out to the gate to meet her father. When, with a pale,
sweet countenance, she stepped up to her father to embrace and kiss him,
he rudely seized her by the arm, and, with his horsewhip, whipped her
out of the gate, telling her to begone, and, with many curses, forbidding
her return. Sadly she went weeping down the lane; but she thought of what
her Savior had suffered for her, and her heart was staid up under the
mighty load which oppressed it. ...
Not far from her father's residence lived a pious Methodist
poor widow ----and she was apprised of the state of things at the
house of Mr. P. When she saw Eliza coming to her house one evening, she
was not at a loss to conjecture the cause. The poor widow gave her a cordial
reception, and spoke to her words of kindness and comfort. Eliza asked
permission to go into the little room, and be allowed to remain there
undisturbed. No sooner was she alone than she fell upon her knees, and
commenced pouring out her soul to God in prayer for her wicked father
But we must return to her father. As he gazed after Eliza, who went
sobbing down the lane, it seemed as though a thousand fiends of darkness
had taken possession of his soul. He went to the house, and met his wife;
but she was equally wretched, having witnessed what was done. He sat down.
They spoke not, except in monosyllables. The supper-hour arrived, but
he refused to eat, though he had been riding all day. Now and then a groan
would escape his lips. He went to his library, and turned over his books
and papers; but it was in a hurried manner, and with a vacant look. At
length he retired to his chamber, but not to rest. Sleep had forsaken
his eyelids, and if he did close them, the sweet, angel face of his banished
Eliza would send daggers to his soul. Thus he spent a sleepless night.
Next day he wandered about over the farm, and through the woods, like
one seeking, with the greatest anxiety, for something that was lost. It
was evident to all that there was something resting upon his mind that
greatly troubled him. The cause of that trouble, his proud infidel heart
would not allow him to disclose, even if the human heart were disposed
to lift the vail from the secret sanctuary of its bitterness. Unable to
find rest he again sought his chamber; but, alas! his anguish increased,
and he began to see the shallowness of his infidelity, and also its dark,
horrid nature, in that it could prompt him to drive his lovely, and otherwise
obedient daughter from his house, simply because she had become a Christian.
From that moment he was a changed man
----not that he was converted;
but from a hard, impenitent sinner he was brought to relent and pray.
There he prayed for hours; but not one ray of hope penetrated his darkness.
His abused and banished Eliza would rise before him, and his convictions
increased, till he raved like the demoniac among the tombs of Gadara.
It seemed as if he would not be able much longer to support the mountain
weight that was crushing him; for the sorrows of hell got hold upon him,
and he anticipated the pain of the second death. Flying from his room,
he called his servant-boy, and ordering him to saddle Eliza's horse and
mount another, he directed him to go to every house in the neighborhood
in quest of his daughter, and if he found her to bring her home. Seeing
that his orders were immediately obeyed, he returned to his chamber; but
the load that pressed upon his heart was removed, and the anguish that
drank up his spirits was gone. He was comforted, but not converted. The
raging deep was calmed, but the sun shone not upon its dark waters. He
walked out into the garden, and there, beneath Eliza's favorite bower,
he kneeled down, and again lifted up his heart and commended himself to
God. Scarcely had his knees touched the ground till the Sun of righteousness
arose, with healing in its beams, upon him, and pervading all the great
deep of his mind, lighted it up with the peace and calm of heaven.
For twenty-four hours, without eating or sleeping, Eliza remained
in that widow's room, engaged in earnest supplication for her father.
The pious mother in Israel, in looking out of her window, as the day was
drawing to a close, saw the servant coming with two horses, and she ran
immediately into the little room, exclaiming, 'Eliza, arise, your father
has sent for you. I see John coming with your horse and saddle.' The happy
child arose, and burst out in rapturous exclamations of praise to God
for his goodness and mercy in touching her father's heart. She was soon
in her saddle, and the faithful charger bore her fleetly to her home as
if proud of his burden. When in sight of home she saw her weeping father,
standing at the same gate from whence, on the evening before, he had driven
her a fugitive abroad. She sprang from her horse into his arms, and embracing
his child with a love he never experienced before, he exclaimed, 'My angel
of mercy, I give you my heart and my hand to travel with you to the heavenly
inheritance.' It was a happy family; for the mother was soon converted,
and joined with the father and daughter in the service of God, and they
all continued faithful disciples of Christ till they were called from
the Church militant to the Church triumphant in heaven.
We conclude our examples of domestic disobedience with the following account
of the disobedience of a slave. Cuff, the slave, was converted, and was
a regular preacher in the little Methodist chapel on his pious master's
plantation. His master died, however, and Cuff passed into the hands of
a son, who at length sold him. The buyer was by profession an infidel,
and carefully avoided going to any religious meetings, though his wife,
previous to her marriage, had often attended, and had listened with unusual
interest to the eloquent negro. Having gone round and inspected the slaves,
as was customary among buyers, he was struck most favorably with the appearance
of Cuff, and believing he would suit him, he began to question his master
in regard to his good and bad qualities. The young master informed the
infidel that Cuff was the most honest and upright negro he ever knew,
and he could only think of one fault which he had that might make him
objectionable to the purchaser, and that was, that 'he would pray and
go to meeting.
Ah,' said the infidel, 'is that all you have against him? I can
soon whip that out of him.
'He made the purchase and took him home. Cuff, with a sad heart, left
the old homestead, and his brethren, and the little chapel, where he had
enjoyed so much religious comfort. When he had performed the duties of
the day enjoined by his new master, he started out to seek a place for
private prayer. Adjoining the garden was a nursery, and it being a secluded
spot, he retired amid the thicket of young trees with which it was filled,
and there alone he kneeled and poured out his burdened spirit to God.
While engaged in his devotions his young mistress, who was walking in
the garden, overheard him, and, drawing nigh to listen, she soon recognized
the eloquent voice that had thrilled her at the Woodland Chapel. She was
chained to the spot, as the low and melancholy tones of the supplicant
were breathed into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth; and when, with fervor,
he prayed for the blessing of God to come down upon his new master and
mistress, the unsealed fountain of her heart poured forth its tears.
On the ensuing Sabbath Cuff went to meeting, and also at night,
but returned so as to be ready for duty early on Monday morning. He was
not aware of the infidel character of his master, though, from what he
had seen and heard during the short time he had been with him, he knew
that he was a stranger to grace. Knowing, also, that there are many irreligious
people, who, nevertheless, have a great respect for religion and its institutions,
when Cuff was asked the next morning by his master where he had been,
he said, 'I have been to meetin; and, bless de Lord, it was a good time,
Cuff,' said the master, in a gruff, angry voice, 'you must quit
praying; I will have none of it about the place.
Massa, I do any thing you tell me dat I can do; but I can't quit
praying. My Massa in heaven command me to pray.
But you shall quit it, and promise to do so or I will whip you.
I can not do one nor the other, massa.
Follow me, then, you obstinate negro,' said the master, greatly
excited, 'and we shall see whose authority is to be obeyed in this matter.
'The slave was led out, and, after being stripped of the few tattered
garments that covered his person, he was tied to a tree in the yard. With
a rawhide the master inflicted twenty-five strokes upon his bare back.
The master then said, 'Now, Cuff, will you quit praying?
No, massa,' was the reply, 'I will pray to Jesus as long as I live.
'He then gave the negro twenty-five more lashes, and the blood ran down
to the ground. At the close of this horrid scene in the brutal tragedy,
the master exclaimed, 'You will quit now, won't you?
'Meekly as his divine Master bore the cruel scourge before him, he replied,
'No, my massa, I will pray to my blessed God while I live.
'This so enraged the infuriate fiend, that he flew at him with all the
rage of a tiger thirsting for blood, and plying the bloody weapon with
all his remaining strength, he stopped not till he was obliged to give
over from sheer exhaustion.
'Will you stop your praying now, you infernal nigger, you?
'The same meek voice replied, 'No, massa, you may kill me, but while
I live I must pray.
Then you shall be whipped this much every time you pray or go to
'He was untied, ordered to put on his clothes, and go about his work.
When out of sight and hearing of his master, he sang, in a low and plaintive
'My suffering time will soon be o'er,
Then shall I sigh and weep no more;
My ransomed soul shall soar away
To sing God's praise in endless day.'
While this cruel scene was transpiring, the young mistress was
looking through the window weeping, and when S. M
came into the house, she said, 'My dear husband, why did you whip that
poor negro so, just for praying? I am sure there can be no harm in that.
Silence,' shouted the enraged husband; 'not another word on the
subject, or I will give you as much as I gave him.
'All that day S. M
---- ---- raved like a madman, cursing
the negro and all his race, and cursing God for having created them. Night
came. He retired to his chamber, and fell upon his couch to rest. In vain
he courted sleep, if for nothing else than to shut out the horrid visions
of his tempest-tossed mind. He turned from side to side with unutterable
groanings. Just before day he exclaimed, 'I feel that I shall be damned!
O, God, have mercy on me!' He then said to his wife ----the first
word he had spoken to her since his threat ----'Is there any one
about the house that can or will pray for me?
None,' said she, 'that I know of but the poor negro you whipped
O, I am sure he will not, he can not pray for me!
Yes,' said the weeping wife, 'I think he will.
Then, for God's sake, send some one to call him!'
A servant was soon dispatched; and when Cuff heard that his master wanted
him, expecting a renewal of the scenes of yesterday
----for he had
been praying all night ----he went from his low, dingy cabin into
the chamber of his master. What was his astonishment, when he entered,
to find his master prostrate on the floor, crying for mercy!
'O,' said he, at sight of his injured slave, 'will you, can you
pray for me? I feel that I shall be damned before morning unless God have
mercy upon me.
Yes, massa, I bless God, I have been praying for you and mistress
all the night.
'He then fell upon his knees, beside his prostrate master and kneeling
wife, and, with a fervor and a faith that opened heaven, he wrestled hard
with God for the guilty man. Thus he continued in prayer and exhortation,
pointing the guilty to the guiltless one, till morning light, when God,
in mercy, stooped to answer prayer, and set the dark, sin-chained soul
of the infidel at liberty, and wrote a pardon on his heart. Soon as the
love of God was shed abroad in the master's soul, he embraced his servant
in his arms, exclaiming, 'Cuff, my dear brother in Christ, from this moment
you are a free man.
'Great was the joy and rejoicing in that house on that day. The wife
had also found the pearl of great price, and now one in Christ, as they
were before one in flesh, their souls were dissolved in the bliss of heaven.
The slave was freed, and employed by his master as chaplain at a good
salary, and Cuff went every-where among his scattered brethren preaching
the word. The master himself became a zealous and successful minister
of the Gospel, and lived many years to preach that Jesus whose name he
had blasphemed, and whose disciple he had scourged.
Now it will be observed that in every one of the above cases the disobedience
to domestic authority was followed by the blessing of God, and in some
cases the very signal blessing of God. We realize that this in itself
is no proof of the doctrine, for we may prove most anything by examples.
Yet in this case our examples serve to confirm the undoubted doctrine
of the Bible, while they exactly corroborate the examples of Scripture
But they do more. They also abundantly illustrate some obvious facts of human nature. The disobedience of these persons to these particular commands
was proof positive of the depth and sincerity of their commitment to truth
and righteousness, and such examples of commitment will tell with those
who are indifferent or opposed. Such devotedness makes an impression which
is not easily shaken off.
But more. These examples also afford abundant illustration of what Charles
Wesley used to call Satan casting out Satan. The very rigor and severity
of the commands and punishments doled out by some of these authorities
was enough to cause them to relent. The devil might use such rigor without
a qualm, but this is generally too much for human nature to bear. The
most abandoned of tyrants, who have thrust the last vestige of what is
most happily called humanity from their breasts, might use such severity
with all the hardness of the devil himself, but most men cannot. The disobedience
to such commands, then, in the face of such severity, is the surest way
to turn the tables
----to soften the heart of the persecutor, to
shame him for his atrocities, and to bring him to his knees before God.
It will be observed that in almost all of the cases related above, the
persecutor was not only subdued, but converted, and that immediately.
On the other hand, a tame submission to such commands will have no such
effect, but quite the reverse, and is perhaps the surest way on earth
to confirm the persecutor in his ungodliness. But this is not all, and
perhaps not the worst of it. Those who tamely submit to such commands
are in fact rendering to man what belongs to God
obey man rather than God ----though it may be under the mistaken
notion that God requires this of them, or that in so obeying man they
are in fact obeying God. If this be their case, though most mistakes have
consequences, they may not suffer so much in their own souls as those
who submit to such commands merely for convenience or advantage. It will
be a wonder if these do not lose their souls in the process. We could
relate examples of this also.
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Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
by the Editor
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Good and quickly seldom meet.
This proverb is one of the wisest of the wise, and one that is particularly
needed in this impatient and lazy age, in which speed is considered the
greatest of commodities, and in which nothing will please unless it is
quick and easy. Most everything is evaluated in terms of speed,
and The faster the better seems to be an axiom with many.
Yet these quick and easy ways seldom produce the substantial quality of
the slower and more careful methods of the past. We have often had occasion
to observe how flimsy are many of the buildings which are put up in the
present day, and to think, surely these will not be standing a hundred
years hence. Many of even the most substantial edifices of the present
time prove to be structurally unsound almost as soon as they are built,
with beams cracking, welds breaking, roofs leaking or sagging, and windows
cracking or falling out. In contrast to these we behold the old brick
and stone structures which were put up a century or two ago, and the even
more substantial cathedrals and castles of the middle ages, and finally
the great wall of China, and the great pyramids of ancient Egypt. Those
substantial structures, of course, took a great deal of time to build.
Forty and six years was the temple of the Jews in building,
but now men must rear it up in three days, or three months.
Who would dream of spending forty and six years in building anything today?
Yet it remains a fact that Good and quickly seldom meet. I
once knew a man who was very competent, who could do most anything well
if he would take the time for it. I called for him once at his place of
work, and another man answered the phone. Not wishing to call him in from
the back forty, I said, Is
---- ---- ----handy?
The fellow on the phone replied, with as much truth as wit, He's
very handy, but he isn't here. Yet handy as he was, he did many
bungled jobs, for the simple reason that speed was all his thought. He
liked to boast of how fast he could do everything, and the quality of
his work suffered in proportion to the quantity.
Just today I happened to observe the workmanship in a wooden pallet, which
I was about to use under my wood pile. The pallet was undoubtedly built
with a nail gun, and not nailed by hand with a hammer. The plan was that
each board should be nailed to each runner with two nails, but I observed
that while most of the boards contained two nails, in many of them the
two nails were spaced very close together, and very near one edge of the
board, instead of being evenly spaced, to hold down both sides of the
board. Now the reason for this careless construction was undoubtedly speed.
No man would have driven the nails in so careless a fashion by hand, with
a hammer. True enough, a man might use a nail gun, and yet slow down enough
to place the nails properly, but the plain fact is, few men will be much
inclined to slow down while they have a nail gun in their hands. The thing
exists for the purpose of speed, and it would seem that its very existence
militates against carefulness. When I used to salvage and repair pallets
to augment my little income, I saw many of them nailed in the same careless
and haphazard fashion, and many still worse
----with three nails
close together at one side of a wide board, with staples half in the board
and half out, or with nails between the boards, having missed the board
altogether. No doubt this is all due to a disgusting carelessness in the
builders, but such carelessness could scarcely exist in a man who must
nail the pallets by hand with a hammer. The modern quick and easy methods
have made us all careless. It is certain that we would all be better typists
if we had no computers. We would be careful if we had to correct every
mistake by hand with an eraser. Our handwriting also suffers in exact
proportion to our speed, and much of modern writing is scarcely legible.
Anyone who has ever examined ancient Greek manuscripts, or facsimiles
thereof, can verify the fact that the older, slower method of writing
produced manuscripts of beauty and readability, while those in the modern
cursive hand, filled with ligatures, are often difficult to decipher.
Good and quickly seldom meet because care and speed are seldom
joined. They are, in general, mutually exclusive. It is not said that
Good and quickly never meet, but seldom. We of course value
the speed which belongs to competence and experience and practice, but
this is another thing from quick and easy methods, which put
speed into the hands of every tyro. In buying modern machine-made goods,
I am often obliged to take the thing home and fix it before I can use
In things purely earthly, my own father was the most competent and able
man I ever knew. He could make most anything which could be made, build
most anything which could be built, and fix most anything which was broken.
And everything he did was done well
----perhaps as near to perfection
as it well could be. But he was a craftsman of the old school, and I never
knew him to manifest the least concern about speed.
But the quick and easy philosophy has come to dominate the
spiritual realm as well as the temporal, and with results just as deleterious.
We have become so accustomed to doing everything by machines and power
tools that it has become quite foreign to our natures to wait for anything,
or to have long patience for it. God took forty years in the back side
of the desert to prepare Moses for his work, but who would dream of submitting
to this today? A few years in college or seminary are put in its place.
Yet the ways of God are always slow. There is no spiritual advancement
without time. Not that time alone will accomplish anything, for many are
babes who for the time ought to be teachers. It is not mere time, nor
time as such, which we need, but experience, and discipline, and enlightenment,
and growth, and all these things require time.
Bill Rice once told the story of an early experience of his own, which
may put the quick and easy philosophy in its true light. J.
Frank Norris had arranged a week of camp or conference for a number of
young preacher boys, or would-be preachers, but he was disgusted with
their conduct. They would fail to get up for breakfast, come late to the
meetings, etc. Norris therefore announced that at five o'clock in the
morning he would hold a special session to tell them how to preach at
any time with only five minutes preparation. The boys, of course, came
out in full force at that early hour, expecting to learn a quick
and easy way, or to learn how to get something for nothing. Norris
admonished them for their lack of character, and then came to the subject
of the session. Study, he told them, eight hours a day
for the next thirty years, and you will then be able to preach at any
time with five minutes preparation. This was very sound and solid
advice, for nothing substantial comes to us without hard work, and there
is no quick and easy way to anything, either by nature or by grace. The
God of nature has indicated as much by his creation of small grains of
wheat and rye and barley, all to be reaped and threshed and ground by
slow labor. The God of grace indicated the same in his creation of the
manna. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face
of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar
frost on the ground. (Ex. 16:14). They must labor to procure the
manna, though it was given them by grace, and the God of grace insured
that the labor would be both slow and difficult. To gather this must have
been as difficult as picking up flour or sugar, and not from a waxed hardwood
floor, but from the sands of the desert. The manna was small as
the hoar frost, and on the ground. The Israelites murmured
at the taste and texture of the manna, but they never murmured at the
labor. The present generation would murmur that the manna was not wrapped
or boxed in one-pound packages, and murmur again that it was not already
ground and baked into bread.
Man by his superior wisdom has set aside the wisdom of Jehovah in the
natural sphere, and created machines and gadgets to make everything quick
and easy, in accordance with the foregone conclusion that faster
is better. He thinks to do the same in the spiritual realm, but here his
wisdom produces nothing. The Son of Man requires us to labor for that
meat which endures unto everlasting life, though in the next breath he
says he will give it to us. He gives this by grace, but he gives it to
none but those who labor for it. The rest shall never taste of it, whatever
their faith may be in the grace of God, for faith without works is worthless.
As well might a man expect a crop of corn by faith, without laboring for
it, as the meat which endures unto everlasting life.
Good and quickly seldom meet, and good and easy meet quite
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own position is to be learned from his own writings.