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Editor's note: John Taylor spelled Redding's name three different ways in his various essays. Taylor and Redding preached together, under difficult circustances, on the western Virginia frontier. The spelling and grammar are unchanged except where brackets [ ] are used. This is a portion of his essay on missions. -- Jim Duvall
Joseph Redding
By John Taylor, 1820

Joseph Re[d]ding -- I travelled [sic] the most [with him]. He being an older man than myself, he was to me as a father, though he seemed to acknowledge me as his yoke fellow. We labored together in the wilds of Virginia about ten years before Kentucky came in vogue, to which place we both came in early times; and here he died a few years past. Our range of labour was from the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah [R]iver to the back of Virginia, on the branches of the Potomac and Ohio [R]ivers, a distance of about two hundred miles; and oftimes among the dangerous rage of savage fury; though this circumstance took us out of the way of Virginia persecution below the Blue Ridge. Neither of us was ever put in prison, though at times, either beaten or driven from our meetings by wicked mobs. We oftimes travelled a whole day from one frontier settlement to another, through the rugged mountains without seeing a house, and our lives in danger every step we took; and when we could not reach a house, our lot was to camp in the woods. We went to many places where the Gospel had never sounded before, and so great was the effect, that oftimes the cries of the people would drown our voices. We then hoped, that many experienced conversion, and some churches were built up where the Lord's name was not called on before, but to blaspheme it. Both of us having been raised to hardships, nothing appeared hard to surmount. We therefore performed a number of these tours on foot. I will name one or two of them.

In one instance Reding had moved his family about forty miles from where I made my home. From his house about a week's meetings were appointed, and the distance about a hundred and fifty miles. When I got to Reding's, my horse being young, and he nothing to ride, but a mare with a young colt, we concluded to take it on foot. Our first meeting was twenty miles from his house. We started at sunrise, and met a large assembly in due time. As a rich reward of that day's labour a number of people obtained a hope of conversion from that day's meeting. We had twenty miles to the next day's meeting, and eighteen miles afterwards to get to quarters. A number came the last eighteen miles to meet us. It did seem as if the Lord blessed this foot tour more than usual. Another shorter tour we took on foot. I had staid all night at Reding's, and there being neither stable nor pasture, we turned our horses into the woods. On the next morning the rain was violent, and though we turned out in it and searched diligently till near nine o'clock, we could not find our horses, though they were belled. Then the council [counsel] was, what shall be done? There was but little time to council; for the meeting was fifteen miles distant, and a very mountainous way. It appeared to us awful to disappoint a meeting. The rain slackening a little, off we set. To make this fifteen miles in about three hours, something more than walking was needful. The rain set in afresh; we ran, we walked, we perspired and received the rain from above, till there was not a dry thread on us, and met about twenty people about half after twelve.

I will leave the reader to judge whether this effort was not being righteous over much; for myself immediately took such a cough, with all the appearance of the whooping cough, that I did not get rid of it for a twelve month. Reding having a family did not always go with me on these dreary Allegany tours, himself also having the care of a large church, lately built up about the head of the Potomac [R]iver; so that I often travelled these dreary, dangerous roads by myself; where frost-biting in winter, with snows knee deep, and often unbroken roads, with forty and fifty miles from one settlement to another, and danger of being scalped by the Indians in the summer, marked my way for a number of years. Though a great part of the people would have done anything for me, that they would have done for their own son or brother, their poverty forbade it. The poor things would now and then, make me some little presents of the best they had, that I thought in my conscience was more than my poor preaching deserved -- which perhaps never amounted to fifty dollars per year, exclusive of the food myself and horse lived on, and my own food scarcely safe from putrefaction from want of salt; and from what habit, to this day salt food is disagreeable to me.

[From John Taylor, "Thoughts on Missions," 1820. Paragraph marking added for easier reading. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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