Recollections of a Long Life
by J. H. Grime
Christ. If still living, he is now In the border land, old and blind, waiting the summons home.
I pushed my ministry with an undaunted zeal, and accepted what work was offered me, regardless of its character, taking it to mean that God was placing me where he wanted me. Illiterate as I was, God wonderfully blessed my labors among the poor in that mountain section. My work among those people was done freely, joyfully, and faithfully. Had I stopped to raise the question of remuneration, I do not believe that God would have opened the doors for service to me that he has. In the language of Paul: "I make the gospel of Christ without charge." - 1 Corinthians 9:18. In connection with old Bro. Arter Parker I held a meeting in Post-oak Cove for nearly two weeks. A fine meeting - twenty-one conversions - and a glory hallelujah time, among a people that had no preaching in their community. An old sister gave us a pair of socks each. This was everything we received, yet I dare say that no two of the Lord's servants ever left a field of labor happier than we did that one. That was fifty years ago, yet it is still a bright spot on memory's page and my thoughts often linger around that little school house where God so wonderfully blessed my feeble ministry.
I tried to have two shirts, but sometimes would be reduced to where I only had one that could be called a "Sunday Shirt." I have sometimes reached home off of a campaign at a late hour in the night, called my wife out of the bed, we would wash, dry and iron my shirt or shirts, as the case might be, so I could start soon next morning to another meeting. When my clothes would get dirty in the midst of a meeting, and I had no change with me, some good sister (God bless their memory) would furnish me a substitute till she could wash for me. The question of remuneration for my services never occupied my thoughts. If they gave me anything, it was all right; if they didn't it was all right.
My Partner I would be untrue to myself, and especially the sainted wife of my youth, if I did not speak of her unselfish and faithful service through all these years, until God called her home. It was she who made my early ministry possible. It was she who held the rope while I went down into the well. It was she who stayed against the wheel when the carriage rolled heavily. It was she whose faith failed not when I became despondent. It was she who was content to remain unseen that I might be seen. It was she that weeded the hard row that I might have an easy one.
Through all these years of hardship and privation a murmur never escaped her lips. She was healthy and strong, and accepted her task and bore it with Christian fortitude. When we lived in a single room log cabin, 14 feet square, with poles across overhead where our clothes were hung as a substitute for a wardrobe, she never uttered one word of complaint, or nagged me a single time to furnish better accommodations, notwithstanding we lived in that apartment a whole year. I was glad I could move her to better quarters where she could live amid better surroundings before she
died. Finally I saw the rose on her cheek fade, and her face become sallow and pale, the spring in her step was gone, and she looked into my face with a wistful, longing look. A doctor was called, she took her bed, another doctor was called, then another, and finally the fourth one when all four in consultation said frankly to me, "We do not know what the trouble is." Then came a waiting and watching of awful suspense. At last, Saturday afternoon about two o'clock, December 17, 1892, the end came. Dr. Johnson, who had been so faithful, looked up into my face and said: "She is dying." I said to him: "She must know it, will you tell her? If you wont [sic] I must." He said to her: "Mrs. Grime, did you know you were dying?" She said: "No. Am I dying?" "Yes, Mrs. Grime, you are dying." She began to talk and point upward. But her voice was growing indistinct. She motioned to me and I stooped down and kissed her, and as I raised up with a distinct voice she said; "Bye-bye." - the last words we ever understood. She died in our home near Shop Springs, and we laid her to rest in the Jones cemetery at Watertown, Tennessee.
After closing my school work I have held pastorates in Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, Kentucky, and Texas. I have worked in Country, Village, Town and City. Approximately, I have witnessed more than 3,000 conversions, and baptized most as many. The largest number I ever baptized at one time was 76, which I baptized in 37 minutes. This occurred at Frost, Texas. I am still pastor, though I am in my 79th year.
I have had several oral discussions on scriptural topics with leading men. But have had more written paper controversies with leading men. These I have preserved in scrapbooks for others to read when I am gone.
Out of my ministry have come quite a number of preachers, perhaps not less than twenty. Some of these are leaders among Southern Baptists.
Six houses have been erected and dedicated under my ministry.
But the happiest thought connected with my ministerial life is that "the common people have heard me gladly," and that I have been able to carry the gospel to the poor and neglected, and help to lift the burden from sorrowing and depressed hearts. This is my joy and crown and none shall deprive me of it in this life or the life to come.
Second Marriage On September 27, 1893, I was married to Miss Sarah Lassiphine Young; Elder T. J. Eastes performing the ceremony. She is the daughter of Thomas Young and Mary (Neal) Young. During my widowerhood, my daughter was in college, and of necessity, I had to abandon my home. Now we must reestablish our home and begin anew. For eight years we were located in and near Watertown where I plied my ministry with fine success. During this stay, Oct. 12, 1899, our son, Joseph Hall, was born. In the fall of 1901, I was, called to the care of the church in Cave City, Ky., and moved to that field. For three years we labored there and at Horse Cave, doing
some work at other points. The Lord was gracious, the gospel ran, and God was glorified. At the end of three years I accepted work in West Tennessee, moving to Tiptonville in Lake County. One year and I had to leave on account of malaria. I went from there to Texas in February, 1905, where I remained near four years, laboring at Corsicana, Blooming Grove, Kerens, Frost, and Balenger. The Lord spaciously blessed our labors in the Lone Star State, and great ingatherings resulted and the churches were very much strengthened. Heeding strong solicitations, we returned to Lake County, Tennessee, hoping to be able to stand the climate now. This time we settled in Ridgely, but one year and again we had to leave. The Lord prospered our work in this needy field notwithstanding our stays were short. We look back upon it with pleasure.
From there we returned to Wilson County in 1909, where most of my ministerial life has been spent. Since coming back home, my life has been a busy one. Notwithstanding I have been what the world calls an old man, I have served from four to six churches and am still a pastor at 79.
My Present Wife I would not be true to myself, or true to the one who has stood by my side, and shared with me in all the work and difficulties for the last thirty-seven years if I did not lay the larger share of honor at her feet. It is true that she has not had to endure some of the hardships that my first wife was called upon to pass through, but no preacher ever had a more faithful wife and worker in the vineyard of the Lord than she has been. But for her, and her faithful service, this brief biographical sketch could not have been written. It was she whose faith never failed. It was she who always saw the bright side when adverse circumstances surrounded us. It was she who trusted God in the dark, the same as when the sun was shining. She has been THE POWER HOUSE through all these years. God stated a great fact, when he said: "It is not good that the man should be alone." We are now old, and well stricken in years. Our race is nearly run. It is not long until we shall stand before the judge, and render an account for our stewardship, and I am sure that a large share of the "Well done, good and faithful servant" will be hers.
Some Striking IncidentsOf the following incidents, some are amusing, some are pathetic, and some are exciting.
Deception In my earliest recollections, I did not know that there was such a thing as falsehood, or that any one would practice deception. I carried a large red apple to church one day, and a young man caught my attention from the family, and posed as a friend, and proposed to keep my apple for me. With all confidence I turned it over to him. He "KEPT IT." Thus I learned my first lesson in the "wiles of the devil."
The Old Blue Hen One of the tragedies of my early life was when the old "Blue" hen with a brood of chickens got after me. I was doing my best on a foot race. Old "Blue" was a close second with her wings down, when my toe hit something, and my head hit something else, and I carry the scars with me yet. I never did enjoy this until I was grown, when I got a big boy into a hole in the hay loft to get a hen and chickens out, and witnessed a battle royal between him and the hen. The hen held the field of battle.
The Hanging An awful hour of my life was when I witnessed the execution of two brothers, by hanging, for the murder of two brothers, near Cookville, Tenn. One of the young men on the gallows confessed that whisky and the love of money had brought them to that hour. He warned young men to let whisky alone. The gallows was erected in a cove, at the head of a hollow. It was estimated that fifteen thousand people gathered to witness the scene, but when the trap fell they scattered like sheep with a dog in their midst. They hung 28 minutes. I remained and helped take them down and put them in their coffins. There were not much, if any, over one hundred men, and no women, present when they were taken down. I was among the few who witnessed the whole scene, and helped to take them down, but I have never wanted to see anything of the kind again.
The Civil WarThe Civil War was a fearful tragedy. It was brother against brother, and son against father, neighbor against neighbor. There was but one redeeming feature in it - the freeing of the negroes. One of the happy days of my life was when father called our negroes up and told them they were FREE, and could look out for themselves. I regret that my family ever dealt in human flesh, as a chattel, yet it was a blessing to the negroes if they had to be slaves, for my father was good to them. They fared better in bondage than they did after they were freed. Only those who passed through it know the awful suffering incident to that war. The section where we lived was a rendezvous for bushwhackers and guerillas on both sides, and stealing, robbing and murder was the order of the day. One side in one day, the other side in the next, to retaliate, and it was nothing uncommon to see a mother plowing with a crippled or blind horse, such as the soldiers couldn't use, trying to make bread for her children, that could be seen huddled in the shade near by. Language fails to tell its horrors.
Window Cliff Some two miles from my father's home was a famous cliff of rock, known as the "Window Cliff." This cliff I would guess to be some 300 feet high and so narrow that near the top there were three holes through it, giving it its name. At one end a column, some ten feet in diameter, rose to some height, and was dubbed "the chimney." Strange as it may seem, the level of the windows was easily approached from either end, and the top from one end. One could pass through from end to end on a level with the windows. This
cliff was a narrow passage between two parts of Cane Creek. The creek passed down on one side of the cliff, then ran around a bend, including in the bend a dwelling and a farm, and then passed down on the other side, in the opposite direction. Near by was the Narrows, Buzzard Bluff, and other points of interest. Many a Sunday afternoon have I spent roaming these cliffs with a company of young people.
Fixing the Preacher Very soon after I had been licensed to preach, myself and brother-in-law went to Cumberland river for a load of salt. We got our load, drove out a mile and night was on, and we called for lodging at a cabin house, and the door swung wide open, by the cussingest man I ever saw. He informed us that the chance for fire that night and morning was to get the wood out of some Honey Locust trees, covered with thorns near by. I took care of the team, and sent my brother-in-law (T. J. Edwards) to assist in the wood getting. When I had finished my job, I went over to bring a load of wood to the house, for it had begun to snow. When I got to where they were, this man had fallen a tree some eight inches through and covered with clusters of thorns. He was knocking thorns going and coming, and cursing every lick. Among other things he said he did not see what good they did that tree. I told him I could tell him why they grew on it. He stopped his work. "Let's have it." I said: "Because our foreparents ate the forbidden fruit." He gave me a quizzical look and said: "If it had grown on this tree they never would have gotten it." It is needless to say that a young preacher was out of talk about that time. He treated us royally, putting a sack of corn in the wagon to feed our teams on the road home, and would not have a penny for any of it. He was on the right side of all moral questions we discussed, and tender hearted as a child. Why his profanity? Can you tell?
Hurricane The sweeping hurricane that covered so much territory on April 23rd, 1878, hit us about 3 o'clock in the morning, leveling forests and blowing down houses. We occupied at that time two log cabins about 20 feet apart. One we used for a kitchen and the other for a living room. The kitchen was blown down, part of the roof from the cabin we were in, and an open shed by the side of it was carried away. We didn't dare get on the outside, for the air was full of missles of death, and no one could have stood against the wind. I suggested that we get in the cellar, and I opened the floor, but the hole we called the cellar was full of water. So we sat down on the side of the bed to await our fate, with our four year old daughter between us. She looked up into our faces and said: "If the storm kills us the 'Good Man' will take us up to live with him." This quieted our fears and we were enabled to trust the God who rules the storm. "A little child shall lead them."
Salem Association My first visit to Salem Association, after I entered the ministry, was in 1878, at Plunket's Creek near Rome, Smith County. When
I married I started out with the proposition that I would buy only what I could pay for. Therefore, on this trip my clothes were HOME-SPUN. Just such as my wife had spun, wove, cut and made for me with her own hands. My hat and shoes were well worn, as I had no money ito buy better. I did not even have a penny ;to my name on this trip. I was there as a corresponding messenger from Union Association, but was not recognized in any way, not even to lead a prayer. They worked the young preachers of their own body by sending them around to Rome and nearby schoolhouses to preach at night, but left me out in the cold, unnoticed. I had come out of the pit, from moulding a kiln of brick. As a result of this work, all four of my fingers on my right hand had "run-arounds" on them with "bad-flesh" in them. On the last day of the association the Moderator passed by where I was nursing my hand and said: "Couldn't you have put up with one at a time?" He smiled and passed on. This was the only recognition the Moderator gave me during the session. I may be permitted to say that I was that moderator's pastor when he died, and held memorial services for him.
I overheard two brethren talking after the association adjourned, when one said: "If we were to go to that young brother's association and be treated as he has been here, we would come away feeling mighty bad." On the very last I had extended to them a HEARTY invitation to visit our association, assuring them a cordial welcome. Many were the rebuffs I received in those early days of struggle, but I never let them sour my spirit, or create enmity in my heart toward those who did it.
There was one man at that association, Elder T. J. Eastes, who put his arms around me and gave me words of encouragement. How much they were needed and how greatly they were appreciated the reader can not realize.
Bread on the Waters Following the severe drouth of 1881 when food for both man and beast was scarce, two strangers, on horseback, drew rein at my gate, in Putnam county, and asked for dinner and horse feed. Wife replied: my husband has gone to mill but go to the barn and see if you can get feed for your horses and I will have you some dinner. While they were eating, I returned and wife introduced me to them. I was not long learning that one of them was a Christian, but that the other man and his family were not Christians, and rarely ever attended church. I put in my time talking to this man about his soul and the condition of his family. When they were ready to leave, they asked me for their bill. I said, you owe me nothing but to feed some other hungry man, and this man to become a Christian, and lead his children that way. They thanked me and rode away, neither of us expecting to ever meet again. But two years later I had moved to Watertown, and was in school. I was called to a church some twenty miles away in a mile or two of this man's home. He learned they had called a young man by my name. He said: "I wonder if that could be my Grime?" By inquiry he learned that it was me. Then he said: "I have got to go to church." He arranged and brought his family to church. Now this story is complete
when I tell you that I baptized him and his wife, and all >iis children that were old enough.
In relating his experience, he told this story as I have given it here, and added that he never could get away from the talk I gave him. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." - Ecclesiastes 11:1.
Above the Clouds It has been my privilege a few times, to stand above the clouds. The most remarkable instance occurred about 1887, when in company with four others, we had crossed the Cumberland mountains in a private conveyance. In the forenoon, we had encountered rain, but in -the afternoon the clouds had disappeared and we traveled under a cloudless sky. About one hour before sunset, we drew near the precipice overlooking the beautiful Sequatchie Valley, when involuntarily we stopped the team, and stepped to the brink to view the valley, a thousand feet below. But to pur surprise below us the clouds were seething, the lightning flashing, and the thunders roaring, and the valley was being drenched In rain. There we stood under a cloudless sky, while the Western Sun was throwing his rays across the valley and kissing the mountain peaks on Walden's Ridge beyond. The scene was beyond description. Our very souls were ravished with its beauty. I bared my head, and thought of the God of nature. How grand, how sublime! and "his ways past finding out."
The World War Oh! that cruel, uncalled for tragedy, that drenched Eastern soil with American blood. I opposed it then, I oppose it today. None of the blood of our noble boys will stain my garments in the Judgment. I am glad to leave this testimony for those who shall live after me.
Influence of Baptism The following incident connects with a certain church in the State of Kentucky, where I was once pastor. During my pastorate the members gave me the details as follows. In that community lived an infidel who had not darkened a church door for more than forty years. Two young ladies, of both culture and wealth, were converted and united with the church; and the time set for them to be baptized. The place for baptizing was a pond not far from where this infidel lived, that became somewhat stagnant and filthy in the hot season. This infidel quizzed in his mind: "Will these beautiful, refined, and wealthy young women go down into that filthy mud-hole?" He doubted it. So when the time came he slipped down to the pond and sat down on the opposite side of the pond, from where the baptizing would take place, to watch the proceedings. Soon a little band of devout worshipers assembled and among them the two young women clothed in snow-white robes. The man of God made a few remarks in regard to the design of baptism, then led a fervent prayer, after which they sang "Am I a Soldier of the Cross," etc. He then led the two young ladies into the pond and baptized them. Their clothes were soiled with the mud. The infidel stood and watched
them as they walked to the shore with bright and glad faces, and fell into the arms of loved ones. He heard the sound of rejoicing as he walked away toward his home. The question: "What made those girls do that?" A few steps further. "What made them girls do that?" "I don't know." A few steps further: "What made them girls do that?" "Fie, I don't know and I don't care." But that one quetion stayed with him. He couldn't eat supper. Finally he said: "I am going to bed, go to sleep and forget this thing1." He did go to bed, but sleep would not come to his relief. He rolled1 until about two o'clock when he said to himself: "I must have relief or I will die." Out of the bed he came, and on his knees he went, and confessed that "them girls have something I haven't." He confessed his sin and begged for light. The light shone in and the matter was settled. The matter remained between him and the Lord until the next business meeting of the church when he came to church and presented himself for membership and related his story essentially as it is recorded here. He stated that he wanted to be baptized right where those girls were.
MORAL: Do your duty, and God will take care of the results.
The Lord Interferes I got a new lesson in God's providential dealings in the death of my first wife. The foregoing pages have already given the reader an insight to the privitations and hardships my first wife underwent. I had been studying for some time as to how I might change up matters, and in a measure lift the burden from her shoulders.
I came in one day and said to her something like this: "Wife, you have had a hard time. You have carried more than your share of the load without a murmur. We have got enough means now to add enough land to our little farm to make us a living. I spoke to Brother Young today, and he agrees to sell us what land we need joining us. I am going to buy it, fix up a comfortable home and stay at home more and give you a good time." I commenced shaping things to that end. But before the arrangements could be made that far-off look on my wife's face told the story that something was wrong. This checked matters, and inside of six months we ha_uled her lifeless body to the city of the dead and buried it out of sight. Then I had no home, my daughter was away in college, and I had to seek shelter elsewhere. Then face to face with the Lord I made this confession and promise: Lord, I have been untrue. I was planning a home of ease and pleasure against the toil and sacrifice of the true minister's life. If you will forgive this unfaithfulness, I promise t'o lay it all upon the altar of service to thee, as long as I live.
When I had settled the matter with the Lord, He gave me another wife equally faithful. We have sought to only know the Lord's will, and have never turned aside from it for any other consideration. But, we are now old and the days of our work are about over. And it is true, that I can not do the pastoral work needed. What shall I do? I can say with Paul: "Woe is unto me, if I
preach not the gospel." It may be the Lord will either furnish me some work, or let me go home.
Let me say in conclusion: I have never esteemed a man on account of his money or social position, but always estimated him on account of his worth to the world and consecration to the Lord's cause. And now, brethren, you are my joy and my crown, and if I shall slip away one of these days, remember that I will be waiting for you in the country where we will never grow old. ==========
[J. H. Grime, Recollections of a Long Life, 1930. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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