From the Heavenly budings already named at Clear Creek, we began to think of having a Church there — through the winter and spring of 1785 several preachers had moved into the neighborhood, as John Dupea [Dupuy], James Rucker, and Richard Cave — we held a council on the subject of a constitution, but we found a difficulty and in this way — a number of the members had been in the traveling Church with Lewis Craig, in Virginia, and in the traveling Church through the wilderness and its establishment in Kentucky, and, above all, if we had a new Church, we might lose
Lewis Craig as our pastor, and though we had four ordained preachers, all of us did not make one Lewis Craig — But after several councils, we concluded rather than not have a Church convenient to us, we would go into a constitution, under the hope that brother Craig would visit us and set us right when we got wrong — to this height of respectability was Lewis Craig in those days in Kentucky — We could only apply to South Elkhorn for assistance — and the helps from that establishment, agreed to acknowledge us a sister Church. I think in April 1785 about thirty members, to the best of my recollection was in the new Church, under the style of Baptist Church of Christ at Clear Creek — we soon began to Baptize our young converts, for some of them were waiting for an opportunity — we went on in great harnlony through that year, we had four ordained preachers as named above; I think we Baptized between thirteen and twenty that year. Clear Creek was the second Church on the north side of [the] Kentucky, the same year others were constituted, as the Great-Crossing, Bryants and a Church near Limestone, under the care of W. Wood. We soon began to contemplate an association; for that pmpose and partly to bring about a union with the south Kentucky [Separate] Baptists, we held a conference at South Elkhorn in June 1785, but failing in the union with the South Kentucky Baptists, we agreed to meet as an association at Clear Creek, 1st of October 1785, six Churches it seems met, one of them was from Tates Creek, south side of Kentucky — there and then Elkhorn Association was formed.
We went on so prosperously at Clear Creek that every body in a manner lost sight of Lewis Craig's particular watch-care over us — and some time in the next winter the question began to be stir[r]ed among us, about a pastor in the church from among our own preachers; when this talk came to my ears, it gave me alarm, thinking the peace of the church might be broken on this question —
for I had seen much trouble at times in Virginia. In choosing a pastor where there was a number of preachers, and my own opinion was that a church could do full as well without as with a particular pastor. Two of the preachers that were with us, Dupey [Dupuy] and Rucker, had been pastors in Virginia, and a number of their old flocks, then members of Clear Creek church, my own fears were that between these men and their old friends, we should have a heavy church contest, which of them should be the pastor — but the question was brought into the church and the day fixed on to choose a pastor, helps sent for to [South] Elkhorn and the Great Crossings to install, (as they called it,) a pastor in the church. I think it was at our March monthly meeting, the helps came, perhaps six or eight — Lewis Craig acted as the moderator. His mode was to ask every member of the church, male or female, bond or free, who do you choose for your pastor — I think the church was now about sixty in number. I must confess it filled me with surprise, when the first man that was asked answered that he chose me; and my astonishment continued to increase until the question went all round, only one man objected, but Lewis Craig soon worked him out of his objection, for it lay in thinking my coat was too fine. For my own part, I did think that no man in the church had the mind of Christ but this objector. Though the objection about my coat, I considered trivial, yet to me seemed as if the Lord directed it. I could scarcely believe my own ears, when I heard the two old Pastors, with the remnant of their former flocks with them, give their voice that they chose me for their pastor — the objector soon acquiesced in the voice of the church. After which I was called on to reply — to the voice of the church, I had just heard, to which I felt constrained to answer about as follows: "That I had never thought myself adequate to the great responsibility of the pastor of a church, and especially in
the present case — that there were three ministering brethren in the church older than myself, that two of them had heretofore been pastors, and all of them better calculated to fill that office than myself; and that it must have been the want of a better acquaintance with me, which led the church to the present choice. And though I was ready by day or night to do anything in my power in a ministerial way for my brethren, yet I could not suffer my lips to consent in the present case, to what my heart, conscience, and best matured judgement [sic] contradicted. I therefore hoped that they would excuse me in the present negative" — after some other little business the church adjourned. After meeting broke, I took notice that a kind of silent sorrowful gloom, overspread the faces of the brethren in general, for they could scarce suppress tears when they spoke to each other, and especially when they spoke to me, though this operated somewhat on my feelings, my made up resolution continued the same. A number of the elder brethren went home with me that night, their object was to labour further with me — their mode of reasoning with me was, that though Clear Creek was a young church, it was made up mostly of old members, who knew what they were about, that their judgements were not directed, by blood connection, or former local attachments — that I had Baptized but few of the present church at Clear Creek — and in a word they had never seen a Church so unanimous in the choice of a pastor, at any place or time — at length one of them declared that he trembled for and at my obstinacy, and that he looked for some heavy judgment from heaven to overtake me. Those helps from a distance thus reasoning with me — prevailed on me to agree that if the Church was of the same opinion the next day, I would submit — a number of preachers from a distance, together with the design of the Church's meeting, brought out abundance of people, even from distant settlements — after preaching
had ended, the moderator, L[ewis] Craig, called the Church together, informing them, if they were of the same mind, they were the day before, I had agreed to serve them. The voice of the church being unanimous, those helps proceeded to instal me as they called it, into the pastoral care of Clear Creek Church — their mode was three of them to kneel down with myself, while they all laid their right hand on my head, two of them prayed, after which the moderator took my right hand into his, and gave me the solemn charge to fulfill the duty of a pastor to the Church, after which he called forward the Church, each to give me the right hand of fellowship as their pastor. This soon produced more heart melting effect than we had ever before seen at Clear Creek — what wrought most on my feelings was, almost every sinner in the crowded house, pushed forward, either looking solemn as death or in a flood of tears to give me their trembling hand — from that days meeting, an instantaneous revival took place in the settlement of Clear Creek. That summer I Baptized about sixty of my neighbors, and a number of them among the most respectable — I took notice that four experiences were received dating their first awakening from the day that I took the care of the Church — we progressed on for that year with much peace and harmony. This year Clear Creek old meeting house was built, a framed house forty feet by twenty — but we soon found the house would not hold half the people that attended in good weather — I find the old house is yet standing, to me even at a distance the place looks rather sacred, because the Lord's presence has often been there, and there also I have alternately experienced great pleasure and pain — how chequered is human, and especially the Christian life — This year the Church went into an agreement to make compensation to their pastor, as they now had one — seventy dollars was fixed on, some said the pastor will be pacified with this small sum, as we
have our meeting house to build this year. The next year a hundred dollars was voted for the pastor, by the Church, not knowing but the first seventy had been all paid. The plan fallen on was to make out an apportionment on each member, and give the several sums drawn off into the hands of the pastor, and he give the individual credit when the sum was paid — these several sums were in such produce as would answer for family use, out of this hundred and seventy dollars, I only received about forty — those who did pay never knew but that all the rest paid also. The third year it was thought best to hire a man to attend to my business, this was done by commissioners appointed by the Church, who hired a man for a hundred dollars. The trustees took care to get their money from each individual, this produced a little flouncing — thus ended my Peters pence at Clear Creek. There were a number of conversions at Clear Creek soon after I became their pastor, that was a little out of the common track, one was my own sister in the flesh, who has since married Mr. Jechonias Singleton in Woodford county, near Versailles. I went to Virginia soon after I had moved to Kentucky, my sister, about sixteen or eighteen years old, applied to our parents to let her come with me to Kentucky; I the more favored it hoping that it was a religious object — but in Kentucky she soon formed an acquaintance with a number of gay sportful young ladies, and in their alternate visits, every thing sacred was so far set aside, that it was with difficulty, that family worship could be kept up — I did now heartily wish her back with her parents. A very devotional man the name of M'Donald, and a stranger to my sister had come to pay me a visit, he had great confidence in preachers, and when with them, would ask five times more questions than they were able to answer, and it would in a manner pain him to death if his questions was not answered, His object in those questions was to know to a certainty whether himself
was a Christian — some time before we went to bed he asked me how I thought the foolish Virgins felt, being obliged to give some answer, I entered on what I thought were the feelings of the foolish Virgins — when I was done, he broke out with doleful lamentations, and that I had described his feelings so precisely, that he was only a foolish Virgin, and that the door of Heaven would be shut against him at last. Nothing that I could say afterwards would pacify him, for I had a very good opinion of his religion — my sister who sat by and heard all that passed, and ready to burst with laughter at what she thought this foolish man's talk, left the house to vent her levity to her satisfaction — The next day we all started to meeting, my sister, riding on, took a look at this foolish man as her heart had called him the night before — It first occurred to her that he was the most holy looking man she ever saw, the next thought was, this holy looking man is afraid he will not be saved at last — the next thought was, if he is afraid what will become of me — with that thought this text occurred, "Wo is me for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips" — the follies of her life so bore on her mind, that her conclusion was that there was no mercy for her — though there was a number in company, she left us all and fell behind, weeping along alone, others who overtook her she forbore to converse with, and they forbore to ask her what was the matter — Lewis Craig that day paid us a visit, when he took his text it was the same that had occurred to her on the way, "Wo is me, for I am undone" — Craig's sermon perfectly clinched the nail, for her conclusion was that God had sent Mr. Craig to show her that there was no mercy for her. For about one month her agony and distress was such, that at times it seemed as if she would go deranged; for that length of time she lived in a manner, without food or sleep, one day from the loom house, she came rushing in with an apparent fright and a flood of tears, and not being
able to speak for a while, the first thing that occurred to me was Indians, (for we were not then safe from Indians) but drop[p]ing on her knees, with heart rending cries intreating me to pray for her, for that God disdained her prayers, and she feared there was no mercy for her; but the Lord soon gave her a happy deliverance, and with that clearness, that no doubt was left with any who heard the relation of her hope in Christ. I do not recollect that a question was asked her by the Church — she was among the first that was Baptized in this happy revival, and has given good evidence since, that the work is genuine, and that she belongs to the Lord. Another singularity in conversion about the same time, was in George Dale. There being another man of the same name, this was called little George Dale — I had been several years acquainted with Mr. Dale, in short he had lived a good deal at my house, my own opinion was, that as to morality, religion itself could make no amendment in him — and yet, destitute of spiritual religion, many were obtaining hope in the Lord, at length a report came to me that little George Dale was converted — I met with his brother Abram, and asked him about the conversion of his brother George — he had heard nothing of it, but he was sure he was now in the state he was born, and he did not presume he was born a Christian — but he had not seen him lately — soon after George himself paid us a visit, seeing my wife at the door he called to her, how do you do, Sister Taylor — I am born again — I can now call you-all brothers and sisters — soon after I came to the house and found George in the greatest rapture and confidence in religion, that I had ever seen any man — as to anything he could see to the contrary, he had at once arrived to a state of sinless perfection — though naturally a very silent man, he was now all talk — first of his deliverance from a great load of guilt and of the great grace in Christ Jesus, who had done all for him — I had often seen him at meetings,
apparently as unmoved as if he had no feelings while others were weeping around him — in this he soon satisfied me that in all these cases he was inwardly mourning over his hardness of heart; and that there was no mercy for him, and that God in justice had passed him by, and left him to perish in his sin — the countenance of this man did not look as if he belonged to this world, while he would exclaim — "O the happiness that I shall enjoy both in this world, and the world to come — this man about two weeks after, came forward with a solemn boldness to join the Church though he told a very good experience many questions were asked him on the subject of his great confidence; he was asked if he had felt no trouble since his deliverance, when he answered, O no, nor never shall — why, I am converted — he was further asked, have you had no temptations, evil thoughts, or rambling of mind in the worship of God since that time — his answer was again in the negative and rather expressing wonder at those questions, as he was born again — there was some doubt expressed about receiving him as he was so much better than other people, to which he replied with pleasant modesty, it made no odds, God had received him, and he should go to Heaven, for he was born again. However the Church received him, and his course since has been very even and orderly, though with not so much high sail as at the beginning — I have heard of but one complaint entered in the Church against him, and that was brought forward by himself — It seems with some Baptist friends he rode to Lexington — after which he came to the Church and requested them to exclude him, for that he had gotten drunk, when he went to Lexington, and though the company with him plead an excuse for him, and that they could barely discover intoxication in him — he insisted there ought to be no plea for drunkenness, and for the honor of religion requested to be turned out of the Church. But the Church did not choose to grant his
request — how very far from this is the hypocritical sly Baptist, who will cover his crime by falsehood till he dies a hidden drunkard. There was a circumstance uncommon, I think it was on the day that George Dale joined the Church, about twelve came forward to [join] the Church with but one invitation; when the door was opened to receive members, there was no delay, for all of them, as one man seemed eager to follow the Lord; frequently two of them would step forward at once — to the best of my recollection there was neither female nor black person among them, but generally young men; among them I think was George Churchill, an orphan lad, who in stating the consciousness of his lost and helpless condition, happened to say he was willing to go to hell; this expression was soon caught at by a number in the Church as very improper, and used endeavors by other questions to set the poor youth right, by reasoning, that it was not possible for any person, and especially a pious man, (who knew what hell was, a place of sin as well as sorrow, to be willing to go to hell — some perhaps insinuated he need not speak any further, but set him aside at once. The lad stood silent as if undismayed, while these things were going on, but at length replied, that he saw at the time that it was just in God to send him to hell and he saw no way he could be just but in his destruction — he had no desire for God to change, to do him any good; he saw no reason why he should be more partial to himself than to another person — he had no doubt that God would condemn the greater part of the world at last, and if he was willing for God to do right in that case, he saw no reason why he should be unwilling to be damned himself, and especially as he deserved it more than any other person — he had since seen that God could be just in saving a sinner through his son, but without that consideration, he was yet willing to be damned. The boldness in which this poor lad expressed his novel ideas
filled all who heard him with surprise, and put to silence all who had objected against him, and of course he was received. This was the same lad that a month or two before, I saw standing at my style one morning, as if afraid to approach the house, I walked out to him he seemed about half-grown, poorly clad, an entire stranger to me, and his distress such, he was scarcely able to speak — after asking who he was and what he wanted, he had walked about three miles to request me to pray for him, for he felt himself a poor lost sinner — we immediately withdrew into the woods and went to prayer — I bore him much on my mind afterwards — after growing up he was very industrious, married into a good family, and is doing well in the world, he has connected himself with the [E]mancipating Baptists in Kentucky, and seems to walk uprightly. There were several preachers came out from this revival — I have already named Warren Cash — James Lee who was Baptized about this time became a good preacher afterwards. The rationality and sensibility of brother Lee's experience, with his godly deportment and tenderness in the Church, all foreboded future usefulness in the Church some way — after a year or two he moved to Silver Creek, south of [the] Kentucky about thirty miles from Clear Creek; there he began to hold prayer and exhorting meetings, this I had heard of for some time — having a night meeting with another preacher in my own neighborhood, soon after the other preacher began, the house being crowded, a brother informed me brother Lee was there — when the preacher ended, I called brother Lee forward to close meeting — he asked me for books, when I handed him my hymn book, he wanted a Bible too — said I to myself, is he going to preach[?] which I found a fact after he sung a hymn. Said I further to myself, if I think he can preach, he shall have my Bible; I do not remember the text he took, but I remember what I several times said to myself, I am afraid you will not get the
Bible, for he seemed embarrassed for a while — after which, he took the track so entertainingly, that I with pleasure felt the Bible gone from me before he was half done — he through mistake put the books in his pocket after he was done — the next day he called to see me and bring my books, the hymn book I received but informed him the Bible was his, and desired him to accept and make use of it — but I did not inform him that he had won it last night -- but afterwards he understood it; this was very acceptable to him for in those early times, it was not easy to get a pocket Bible in Kentucky — The Lord began to own this man's labours with his beginning to speak in public. A small Church was soon raised where he lived, I was invited to Baptize some people there — I think five were Baptized at the time and among them an old man the name of Wilson apparently, far gone in a consumption — this became a great trial to my faith, I found the old man could only speak a little above a whisper; and though he had been much of a singer and a prayerful man in his family, all had been laid aside perhaps for a twelve month for want of breath; I had lately been reading Mr. Rice's pamphlet on infant Baptism, where he had avered that it was instant death to wet a man all over in the last stages of a consumption, if all this is true thought I, which I did not know to the contrary, in this thing I had great perplexity. This old man came foremost to the water, and I almost ready to tremble with fear, but in we went, as quick as he recovered from the water he raised his hands with pretty strong voice cried, Glory to God; Glory to God — the first thought I had was, old man you are not yet killed — a handsome little revival of religion went on, this old gentleman's voice was so far restored that he resumed worship in his family, and became a pleasant singer in public worship, and lived after this for several years, so that wetting him all over did him no harm. After my fIrst year's pastorship at Clear
Creek, unhappiness began to make its appearance, and it lay very much in different views about discipline, we began with ruling elders according to the Virginia custom, and Griffith's plan in the [Philadelphia] confession of faith, those men were useful among us. The emigrants from distant parts, brought their former customs with them, so that faction began in the Church; we were now about a hundred and fifty in number, and the more the worse in case of confusion — we were often like the confused builders of Babels Tower — James Dupey [Dupuy] moved to Kentucky about this time, an old preacher, he became a member with us so that we now had five ordained ministers in the church, myself became very uneasy, for some I found considered the distinction of particular pastor a little more sacred than I had thought it to be, each faction seemed displeased if I was not on their side of the question — indeed some murmurs were heard, that what partial influence I had in the Church, was not used to the best purposes, so that strong as the evidences were in the beginning of my pastorship being of the Lord, I began strongly to doubt the propriety of its continuance — about this time John and James Dupey with a number of other brethren, became a separate Church, constituted on Buck Run, not distant from where now Grey's Creek Meeting house stands; after a while faction tore out the bowels or this Church, and it died a natural death — faction did not yet die in Clear Creek, so that my former thoughts were brought to a point, that yielding up my charge would be for the Churchs benefit, which I proposed to them at a suitable time. Though some of the Church seemed alarmed and unwilling that I should do so; fearing that I would desert them; I assured them to the contrary, that I hoped to render them the same service I had ever done, which so far pacified them, that I gave up this sacred charge, after being under it about three years, and had Baptized among them about an hundred people. By this
act, my desires were by no means laxed to serve the Church to the best of my ability, but we were in a shocking pickle as to coldness and barrenness — faction and ill will had very much killed us, so that but few had been Baptized for a long time — But we were now calm, and under a solemn pause; two of our preachers were gone with the newly constItuted Church, only three now remarned, James Rucker, Richard Cave, and myself, we had this to comfort us, we had now no heads and tails among us, or in other words, we had no superiority, and inferiority in the ministry, we were as equal match horses, to lay our shoulders to the yoke at once — and I know not whether I was ever in better credit in the Church than now, those suspicions respecting my designs in the Church became cured by this resignation act — we now met with the glow of affectionate brothers, longing to see another day of the son of man — and blessed be God we were not disappointed — there were some forebodings of the blessed work of the Lord I am about to relate. Soon after this resignation took place, and we began to meet together in peace and love — our neighbors seemed to take pleasure in meeting with us — that for several months our meetings were crowded by day or night; I found this part of the scripture bear with great weight on my mind — "Lo these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none" — whatever the Saviour might have designed in this parable, I applied it to my neighbors for it had been about three years from the close of our last revival; as a dresser of the vineyard my soul, often in tears cried spare and save them, O Lord — Isaac Reding (Brother of Joseph Reding, of whom I have said something elsewhere) my near neighbor, and a little before the work became obvious, came to and informed me, with much assurance, that God was about to revive His work among us; his confidence grew from a dream he had and its lasting effects upon his mind — tears began to
flow while he narrated his dream; he had lately dreamed that he was in Heaven, he supposed his vision continued several hours, he saw the Saviour in His glorified state, the rewards of the just — in that shining glory which his eyes could barely behold — all his own language was with the most rapturous joy — wonderful — wonderful. Joel had said a great while ago, that as preludes to the greatest blessings on earth, your young men should see visions, and your old men dream dreams — however, in Reding's struggles to glorify God in Heaven, he waked himself — found he was lying on his back, and the profusion of tears which ran from his eyes and on each side of his face had so wet the pillow under his head as if soaked in water — The first obvious effect that I now recollect, was at my own work on hand, in felling all the dead timber on a stubble field, and had employed a number of hands to assist me in that business, among them was one Thomas Reese, esteemed the most hardened bold sinner in the whole settlement; towards the evening, it was my lot with Reese, to be chopping down a very hard tree, one of us on each side, and setting [sic] down a while to rest ourselves, I asked Reese what was to become of his soul hereafter; he was instantly struck with a serious look — he replied, "he believed in a hereafter, and that he had a soul, and as to what would become of it, he had made a decision for several years past — that he was to be finally and forever lost, that in years past he had made some attempts to seek religion, but finding it out of his reach, he had given it up forever, and his object long had been to take what pleasure he could while he was in this world, for that was all he should ever have — that he had no appetite to go to meetings, he therefore had declined that or prayer to God for many years." But in all this statement I found he looked sorrowful, as if desperation was preying on his soul.
— I asked him to stay to meeting that night, and to oblige me more than with appetite to do so, he consented, he expressed some gratitude for the freedom I had used with him, for his religious acquaintances had long given him up for the devil. That night the people came out to the amount of filling all the apartments of my little house — whether from the absence of other preachers or what cause I misremember, but it fell to my lot to speak to the people. The conversation with Reese led me to the text I took which was, "A certain creditor had two debtors, one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty, and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both."
By debts in this text I understood the sins of men, some of them of greater, and some of less magnitude. That God the great creditor took notice of, and remembered them all, that these debts could never be discharged by the poor helpless debtor, however small the sum. That no man was able to discharge his account in God's book by his own services, seeing himself and all he could do belonging to God already — that if he could do all that was commanded him in the law; that God had taught him to say, that he was an unprofitable servant; that no man knew or was sensible of this till God made him so; that in this case the poor criminal debtor with agony of soul and contrition of heart, acknowledged the truth of the case, that he had nothing to pay, and cried to God for mercy and forgiveness, and that the creditor God, in great grace, through the boundless merits of His son, according to righteousness and truth, not only can, but delights to abundantly pardon the greatest sinner of all Adams race, when they have nothing to pay, so that none need to despair however black, or red as scarlet their crimes may be.
From the encouragement by the effect among the people I continued to speak much longer than was common, so that the candles all burnt out, and no person moved to re-light any, but the doors being all
open, through which and the windows, bright moon light supplied the place of candles, and seemed to heighten the solemnity of our devotion. Reese had placed himself at some distance from where I stood, or had he been near me with the feelings of tenderness I then had for his salvation I should have given him my hand, with a cordial invitation to seek the Lord. I did call him by name though I knew not where he set [sic], to come to the Lord with his mighty debt and receive forgiveness for all the sum. Poor Reese became so far affected that he needed no more invitations to go to meetings, but soon appeared to be a diligent seeker; about the middle of winter he obtained a hope and was Baptized. At our October meeting I think a few had obtained hope in the Lord and were Baptized, at November meeting a greater number, at our December meeting about ten were received on Saturday. That night either through some indisposition of one of the children, or some similar cause, I slept upstairs by myself, I awoke in the night, with the most agonizing desire for the salvation of my neighbors, that I perhaps ever felt in my life, I called up in my mind the situation of the people, it occurred to me the diligence we had been using in preaching, for several months day and night, I would try to pacify myself, there is ten to be Baptized to-morrow — It would vibrate again through my soul, but how many more are yet careless and yet in their sins. I would try to pacify myself with, Oh Lord what can I do for them, my agony of mind became so increasing I was constrained to leave my bed, and walk the room — I would say to myself, Oh Lord I could die for them, if that could do them any good. I really was not able to account for this uncommon anguish of heart for the salvation of my neighbors; at length a scripture occurred to me that I had never taken notice of before, it is in Acts 20 Chap[ter] 20[th] Verse, where Paul tells the elders at Ephesus among other things, "I taught you publicly and
from house to house." This fully accorded with the then feelings of my heart, to go from house to house and warn them to flee from the wrath to come, and pray the Lord to save their souls — another thought sprang up in my mind, that when the Lord intended to bring the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, he put it into the heart of Moses to visit his brethren as a prelude to their deliverance Acts 7th Chapter. This produced such confidence in my mind that the Lord would bless those visits to the people, that I became bathed in joyful tears, and sleep departed from me the balance of the night, a plan of those visits occurred to me in the following manner; there were three preachers in the Church, as named before; there were also three ruling Elders in the Church, and each one so situated that he lived near to one of the preachers — Samuel Dedmon one of the Elders, lived central in the Church and near to me — James Hiter lived on one side and near to Richard Cave — John Whitaker lived on the other side and near to James Rucker, so that here were six men, making three couple[s], a preacher and elder, to go one after another to visit; each couple to go through the whole neighborhood; but now arose with me one embarrassment perhaps when I see my brethren, they will object to all my plans — if so, my reply was, I will go myself.
I set off early next day to meeting, I soon found that all the brethren in my arrangement were there, after calling them together, and stating to them my own impressions of mind, I informed them of the plan I had in view, if it met their approbation. Without a moment's hesitation, they understood and accorded in it, and with joyful tears of brotherly love, we were ready to embrace each other in our arms. I know not whether the disciples of the day of Pentecost could have been more of one heart and one soul. I proposed, that with their approbation, brother Dedmon and myself would take the first tour, which was cheerfully accorded
in. This day we had a very crowded house for ten were to be Baptized, and many of the people were much stirred up. When preaching ended I gave the following notice: — After a few minutes we will go to the water to Baptize — meetings for the present week are to be at the following places; after which I informed the assembly, that a number of us had agreed, to visit every family in the neighborhood, without regard to grade or quality. That the object of our visit was, to pray and converse with each family and individual, on what belonged to the interest of their souls — that I desired a signal when we came to their houses, that where we were acceptable, they would lay aside their family business, and prepare for the proposed worship. The other signal was to keep at their business when we came, and we would go about our own business — for that no family was to be interrupted but by their own choice. I remember giving this last notice, the assembly seemed to be struck with a very solemn pause, and trembling tears in a number. Dedmon and myself agreed to start on our tour next morning — a little after sun rise, a bitter cold Monday morning, Dedmon was at my house, to start on this holy campaign. Notwithstanding all my hopeful confidence before, my plans and propositions to my brethren, in which they had so cheerfully agreed, my mean base heart began to hesitate, and conferred with flesh and blood! My wife had been but a few days in child bed with my daughter Nancy, and was now poorly; my hogs were ready to kill and would admit of no delay — and above all we should do mote harm than good, by offending the people, we were about to force ourselves on. Unbelief has often been a master piece for me — I was ashamed to name any of those mental spasms to my partner, brother Dedmon. After early breakfast, we set out, but the Lord knows with a heavy fearful heart, as related to myself — but the occular witnesses before my eyes soon removed
my gloom, for we seldom went to a house, but we found the family in tears either of joy or grief. We had no exact, uniform mode when we came to a house, sometimes one of us would strike some well known song pertinent to the occasion, when the part of the family that could, would join us, after which we would go into exhortation or examination; at other times, when we found chief of the young people in the family, in tears when we came (which was often the case,) we would take them by the hand, and say son or daughter, why weepst thou? which would lead on to the family examination; first, our general custom was, both of us to pray, just before we left the family. It would often be the case when we left a family, a number of them would go with us to the next house, and so on, till at times we would have a kind of worshiping congregation as we moved along, but this would be mostly in the after part of the day. We seldom used any food from morning till night, neither the people or ourselves thought of that — we had a meat to eat such as the Saviour spoke of at the well, when he pointed the desciples [sic] to the fields white already to harvest. When he saw the people from the city of Cychar [Sychar] flocking in great numbers, to see and hear him preach.
We went to but one or two places, but the families received us cordially. But in those few instances, we were not allowed to leave the place without reproach. Among others, we visited the family of Thos. Reese, that I have spoken of before, I did not recollect of ever seeing Mrs. Reese before, but it seemed the Lord had done his work with her before we got there. — So far as a consciousness of guilt went, we found her overwhelmed in tears and sorrow. This we often found at other places, but Mrs. Reese was so suddenly driven to the borders of desperation, that I feared from her talk, she might commit some personal violence on herself — which led me afterwards to frequently visit the family — for both she
and her husband seemed under deep anguish of soul. In the course of these visits, we commonly held about two riight meetings in the week, but no house in the settlement would hold the people. We had recourse in some instances to fires in the yards, to keep the people from freezing. In geting to those meetings in time, in a few instances, we passed by houses without calling, this led a number to conclude there was no mercy for them, and that God had passed them by, or the visitors would have called on them. Several experiences of this cast were told to the church. Our tour of visiting continued about two weeks, I think, Richard Caves was about the last house we went to. I remember his wife asked me how the people seemed affected in our tour — my answer was I thought I had seen five hundred people under conviction. I suppose we visited upwards of a hundred families. Immediately after our tour was out, the other visitors proceeded, with about the same length of time — about six weeks were spent in this profitable work, I call it profitable, because about fifty experiences were told to the church from these visits. Indeed myself had become so foolish, that I fancied we had found out a plan, that we could at least be lively in religion when we pleased, by the visiting plan — but the trial of the same thing and in the same place a few years afterwards, convinced me of my folly. We found it needful to baptize twice in a month, there were several times we baptized near thirty at a time. Sometimes two of us went into the water at once to baptize, and to prevent confusion, only one pronounced the ceremony, and that by the plural term, standing near together, and both [preachers] getting ready, one would pronounce "we baptize you in the name of the Father &c." I once baptized 26 myself, on a cold freezing day, the ice cut about six inches thick where the people stood, close on the edge of the icy grave. And though my clothes freezed before I got on dry ones — I know I speak safely
when I say I suffered no inconvenience; and tho' this may be attributed to enthusiasm, I know not why enthusiasm may not be used in religion, as [it is in] any other laudable work. This revival continued seven or eight months, and through a very severe winter, about an hundred and fifty were added to Clear-creek Church, which brought her number to upwards of three hundred, she was now the most numerous church in Elkhorn association, and continued so for many years.
We will notice a few particulars in this revival. — As the conversion of Reese and his wife — We left them in the time of our visits, under great sensations of guilt. Mrs. Reese was first delivered and came to the church to relate her hope in Christ. I have often thought and sometimes said, that if any experience I ever heard related, exceeded all others, it was Mrs. Reese's. If we take in the solemnity of her looks, the meekness of her spirit, her mighty temptations to infidelity and to discard the scriptures, the labour of her mind under those temptations God's method of using the medium, she was tempted to disbelieve. First, as the instrument of her just condemnation — and secondly, in her relief by opening up the plan of salvation through the Saviour, the pertinence of gospel promises to her particular case — the church had no need to ask her one question, except her willingness now to be baptized — to which she meekly replied, "that her companion had been long under distress, she hoped for his relief, and therefore she was inclined to wait and be baptized with him" — but some zealot in the church, answered, why tarryest thou, it may be of service to him? to which she yielded, his consent being asked, the next day she was baptized. He being present was thrown into monstrous temptations. The roads were almost impassable at that time with mud, Reese and his wife had both rode on one horse, and had a child to carry. He being naturally a rugged man, he concluded his wife disregarded him, and therefore had left
him and joined the Baptists, and they were all hypocrites together. What added to his calamity, he had a great bundle of wet clothes to carry home, this aggravated his rage, at length his wife having to get down to attend to the child, he broke out and declared for the offence she had committed in leaving him, he would never live with her another day — [he] dashed down the bundle of clothes in the mud, and off he went as fast as his horse could go — leaving her the child to carry, and the bundle of clothes to tug on as she could — from his own account he rode on perhaps a half mile, and stopped to reflect on what he had done, when he was so struck with a fresh sense of his guilt, that for him there could be no pardon. And being so far beside himself, he never thought of going back to relieve his wife. He took hold of the pummel of his saddle, and began to roar out with all his might like a mad man, till his wife came up — when he was ready to ask her a thousand pardons, hoped she would forgive him, left his horse, dropped on his knees in the mud, and entreated his wife to pray to the Lord for him — abundance of people we hoped, had found the Lord, and many were yet under deep distress — at the water Isaac Red[d]ing came to me, with smiling solemnity, and said, "we shall hear of more conversions this week, than we have yet known." That day when meeting closed I made a curious appointment for a meeting about the middle of the week, for which I much reflected on myself afterwards. I named to the people as there were many mourners in the neighborhood, and we were directed to weep with them that weep, I would appoint a day of mourning and fasting, and as Long George Dale and his wife, had been a considerable time labouring under great trouble, we would appoint his as the house of mourning. I also desired no person to come to the meeting, but those who abstained from food on that day — I afterwards reflected how presuming I had been in such an appointment. I had not consulted
Mr. Dale about a meeting at his house — nor counselled with any other person about such a meeting, so that for my own forwardness I began to mourn before this day of mourning came. I concluded that I deserved contempt, and for no person to meet me when the day came. When I got to the place I supposed there were five hundred people, where I soon heard of about twelve persons obtaining hope in the Lord since last Sunday, and Thomas Reese was one of them, who was there himself, and looked and conversed as the man did, out of whom a legion of devils had been cast, when clothed and sitting at the Saviour's feet in his right mind. Thus Isaac Red[d]ing's prophecy was fulfilled, by such a number obtaining relief from the Lord within three or four days, and many more seemed not far from the kingdom of God. Poor Dale and his wife were yet mourning -- I took a text from the 51st Psalm — "Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones that thou hast broken may rejoice." Another conversion a little singular in this revival was Charles Webb — this was an orphan lad, or the son of a widow, who lived with his mother; this lad's conviction was long and pungent, his countenance bore the aspect of horror and desparation — and his conversation was of the same cast. He had been so tempted with unbelief, that it was long before he could be confident in his best evidences of eternal life; he had been made so sensible of his own helpless condition, that he came out a strong predestinarian at once, yet doubted much whether such a wretch as himself could be a true believer. I remember when he related his experience to the church, he was asked whether he ever saw into the duty of Baptism — his reply was that he did not know that he ever had, he supposed he had not, but he had thought of it. He had thought that believers ought to be Baptized, because Jesus Christ was Baptized, in the River Jordan and had directed his desciples [sic] to follow [H]im. And he had further thought that it
was a wise thing in God, in sending John the Baptist before hand, and be here ready, by which Christ fulfilled that part of righteousness. But he could not say that he ever saw into it — and thus in all his religious exercises, he would scruple their reality, but with all his doubts, he was received by the church with great cheerfulness and fellowship.
I had once, by the improper construction of a scripture, made this poor lad fast three days; at a night meeting, I had taken a text in the chapter where Cornelius sent for Peter, and in that part, four days ago I was fasting, I unwittingly construed into a four days fast — I remarked that many of them seemed under great trouble and conviction, and then asked, who of them like Cornelius had fasted four days? this lad had been long trying every method he could think of, to obtain conversion, but all having failed, became encouraged by this new project, hoping at the end of four days fast, he should obtain the blessing of the Lord, and at it he went with great resolution; he continued three days without food, and perhaps drink, following his daily labour, when his tender and religious mother, became so alarmed for her son that he now intended to starve himself to death, for he had before been almost beside himself with soul distress, she put at him, with tears and importunities, that for her sake, and the Lord's sake to desist from his own destruction — poor Charles was thus prevailed on, to break his vow before the fourth day was out — This perhaps was the last gasp that legal hope drew in him — the poor boy now became more distracted than ever, he had now lied to God, and what was that but the unpardonable sin — this late act with the mighty swarm of corruption through his whole soul led him to think, that he was fit for nothing but hell, and there was no mercy for him; but to him a better way was soon revealed, that it is not by keeping of vows, that the inestimable blessing of the pardon of sin comes, but by the precious blood of the
Lamb of God, is guilt removed — perhaps at the time of Charles Webbs baptism, but few thought he ever would become a preacher, and for several years he did not open his mouth in the Lord's name that way — but the religious world now says, that the Lord has made Charles Webb a good gospel preacher — and that he preaches by example as well as by precept — he now lives on his own land in Harrison county, has become grey headed in the service of his divine master, and for many years has served one or more Churches in a pastoral capacity. Martin Utterback was baptized in this revival, and has come forward into the vineyard of the Lord, and labours with success in the ministry of the gospel, and though his style of preaching may not be so pleasing to the nice tasted gentry of our base world, yet it is in that godly simplicity that renders service to the generation in which he lives. He travels much with Warren Cash, preaching to their fellow men in the lower parts of the state of Kentucky.
I had once thought if all the people on the earth could be christians we should have a paradise here, but the circumstance of Clear Creek Church, soon after this great revival, is one item in the scale against this opinion — for the people were chiefly all religious now in the neighborhood — a circle from a center of three miles, would now take in chiefly all the members of Clear Creek Church, which were upwards of three hundred in number; the term of brother with everybody you met with, became such a common place appellation that it in a manner lost its sacred quality; human nature is of that base quality, that it will not bear to huddle much of it together — we therefore soon found great difficulties in the Church, by personal bickerings among the members, and for very trifling things quarrels were stired up, and the sacred epithet of brother scandalized while a man would use it when in bad temper; two men can scarcely quarrel but others will take sides somewhere;
this produces faction, and much destroys the peace of the Church of Christ; these things not only made their appearance, but sprang up in the Church at Clear Creek. Accusations in the Church became very common, and for very trivial things.
Another thing which often awakened great excitement in Clear Creek Church, was expelling their members by a majority of voices, when a complaint was brought in, and especially when the case was somewhat doubtful; one side would conclude, if we do not exert ourselves a guilty man will be continued in the Church, the opposite side would think if we do not strive hard, an innocent man will be condemned, so that we seldom had a trial of that kind, but it was with great warmth of temper — and after all, but a cross and pile chance as to the equity of the decision — nothing is more rational, than the way a man comes into the Church, he should go out, yet privileges may be curtailed by suspension, through a majority of voices, while the member is yet retained under the admonition of the church — 2d Thes. 3 Chap. 14 and 15 verses.
I know one of the most respectable members in Clear Creek Church, improperly expelled by this majority plan — I suppose the free male members at this time in the Church, was about one hundred — perhaps sixty or seventy acted in this case, the case being a very doubtful subject, only twenty voted, ten on each side — one ten voted for his guilt and expulsion, the other ten voted him innocent, the moderator gave the casting vote against him, and the worthy [D]eacon was thus slamed off by this majority plan; the excluded man attended meetlngs as usual, and with great calmness took his distance for a year or two, when the Church reinvested [reinvestigated] the subject, and unanimously voted the former decision wrong, and the deacon again took his seat, by the invltatlon of the church, without asking any questions — another instance of five or six complaints being brought into
the church against one of the leading members, about land claims — only three members voted in this case, two against the member and one for him; one of the two rose up and insisted, that according to the rules of the church he was expelled, and [he] demanded the record to be made, but the church would not admit this vote to stand, and by a great majority, in a second vote cleared the accused man. This with several other similar cases, convinced me of the majority plan of exclusion, that it was improper, though myself had been a principal instrument to get it established in Clear Creek church, then thinking that on any other plan we could never get clear of the bad people — but after my conviction on that head, I could never get a change of the rule in the church, and perhaps Clear Creek uses this destructive rule to this day. Shall a religious man, whose privileges in a church are dearer to him than all other rights on earth, be all lost at once as by the toss of a penny — for twenty seven years I have lived in the enjoyment of a more excellent way — That of final expulsion by an unanimity of voices, and by which we fairly get rid of all who ought to go out of the church — See Buck Run rules of decorum.
A number of conspiring circumstances, induced me now to think of moving from Clear Creek — as first the increase of my family, though I had become possessed of about fifteen hundred acres of land in that neighborhood in early times — I had whittled it all off to one friend and another, to about four hundred, the farm on which I lived — I now had four children, and a prospect of more; an opening offered on the Ohio River, near the mouth of the Great Miami, now Boon[e] county, I purchased in different tracts near three thousand acres of land — here was plenty of soil for all the children I was like to have; this was an almost entire unsettled country, and much exposed to Indian danger, this was of but small moment with me, from the great propensity I had to
live in a new country — where I lived in Woodford county was now thick settled, and but little Cow range; a number of my religious neighbors were also desirous to move to the Ohio; all this well suited my then appetite, having this view, that we could have a church there at once — But another very prevailing reason with myself in leaving Clear Creek was, a very respectable individual, had withdrawn his membership from the church on my account, delicacy itself will forbid going into a minute detail of all this business — I had brought money to purchase land for him in Kentucky — when he saw the land, he became displeased with the mode of the appropriation of his money, we left it to men as arbitrators — with their decision he was displeased; a very influential character from another church prevailed on him to bring a complaint into Clear Creek to which the church agreed, by sending for helps from other churches — the first decision of the church was unfavorable to the justness of my course with the offended man — on this result I stopped preaching a month or two — This gave great consternation to chief of the members of the church, not considering that their decision extended thus far — the fact was, they scarcely knew what they had decided on, for they were hurried into it by foreign agents — I was ready to confess that in some things I had failed with the complaining man, in point of generosity, but in point of justice I had never thought I had failed; the church however hasted to the same churches for helps to reconsIder what they had done — the second decision of the church gave the offended man such dissatisfaction, that he immediately withdrew from the church — all this was while I had the pastoral care, and of course before the last revival of religion I have been speaking of, and it may look strange that though several of his famIly were baptized In the time of the revIval, his wIfe a member, and I often had meetings at his house, he yet kept his distance from the church
all of which in process of time, proved a painful spur to me to leave the place; I sold my land and made arrangements to move, many of the brethren seemed much afflicted at my removal — but none of them all manifested such rational concern at my removal as the man who was partly the instrument of my leaving Clear Creek — and though all this may look strange, it is the truth lof the case, some time before I moved he sent for me to come to his house, when he reasoned with me thus — "Many of your friends seem unwilling that you should move away, but as your land is sold they ought to remember that you cannot stay without a home." And then proposed land that he had received from myself, which had risen in value at least double, on the same terms he had gotten it from me; and if it did not suit me to pay him the money, as I had laid out a good deal for land on the Ohio, he would take it on the terms I had purchased at, though the land lay about a hundred miles from him; this kindness I am bound to remember with gratitude till I die. Things had been carried too far as to my removal to accept of his kind offer; and in the spring 1795 I moved to the Ohio River; and near eleven years after I had settled on Clear Creek — When I left the church they were well furnished with preachers; as James Rucker, Richard Cave, John Sutton, Donald Ho[l]mes, and a number of exhorters and prayerful men in public, so that it seemed I could be very well spared from that place; John Tanner had also lately moved into the neighborhood much of a preacher, but not a man of the most peaceable cast; Tanner had married Rucker's daughter and soon stired him up to think, that the baptists in Kentucky, were too corrupt in doctrine and discipline to continue any longer in union with them; they therefore contemplated a new, pure and separate church; John Penny a respectable minister had lately moved from Virginia, and settled on Salt River south of Kentucky [River], these men prevailed on Penny to go into
this new church state with them; they constituted a church on Salt River under the appellation of "Baptist Reformed," there were about ten members in this new church, and three of them ordained ministers — their plan was to receive no member in this new, pure church but by experience and good character, a letter of dismission from any other church was with them, only so much for nothing, but they had not progressed long before Penny began to think he had a hard bargain, though they had made him pastor of the new church; for pure as they were, they soon fell out among themselves, and this new fabric fell like Jonah's goard — Penny called for helps from neighboring churches, and constituted what is now Salt River church and has continued a member thereof ever since; Tanner moved to Shelby county, Rucker returned his membership to Clear Creek, but whether the confidence of his brethren became impaired or he lost confidence in himself after this Salt River enterprise, I cannot say, but his usefulness in Clear Creek was not so sensibly known afterwards; he moved to the lower end of this state, and is yet living a very old and respectable man; John Sutton, who was now old, became what they called a mighty scolder in the church, perhaps he was a Welchman, and high temper the more congenial to him thereby; but so it was, great as his preaching talents were; for in rich expositions from the scriptures he had few equals; yet he scolded himself out of credit in the church; he was a principal leader in the emancipating question, and became so turbulent that some of the members treating with him in the church, Carter Tarente [Tarrant] who was of the same opinion with Sutton in emancipation, espoused his cause in the church, and by which a rent took place, both in Clear Creek and Hillsborough churches; a number of members uniting with Tarente formed New Hope church, where Sutton and Tarente set up the first emancipating church in this part of the world. Thus Clear Creek lost
John Sutton, he became blind but continued to travel and preach, and died about eighty years of age; Mr. Tarrente traveled and preached in Kentucky with great acceptance, had alternately served the churches at Clear Creek and Hillsboro. After his connection with the emancipators, he became reduced in his worldly circumstances, took a Chaplin's place in the army, went to New-Orleans to fulfill his commission, and there he died. Ho[l]mes had also gone off with the emancipators, so that Richard Cave only was left at Clear Creek; but other visitors often attended — In the great revival in Kentucky about the close of the last century, Clear Creek greatly partook of this blessing, so that the church grew up to about five hundred members, a principal instrurnetlt in this great revival was Richard Cave. For several years Clear Creek had kept up two places of worship at different meeting houses, they now contemplated a division; Hillsborough church was constituted with perhaps a hundred and fifty members at the beginning. Hillsborough church has been attended by different preachers, but by none of equal advantage as that laborious servant of the Lord Edmund Waller — under his ministrations they have had several happy revivals, and is now a growing prosperous church. But old Clear Creek has for many years seemed to be on the decline, though perhaps no place in Kentucky has been better supplied as to preaching talents; Mr. Jacob Creath, [Sr.] served them statedly for many years, in which time they were rich enough to build them a large Brick Meeting House but they have found that the best of riches does not consist of a fine house. Mr. Henry Toler for several years past has served them as a pastor; but things have not worked quite so well as was hoped for in the beginning; he has lately left them, and in a manner destitute; they have only one young preacher among them, and though he is a member there, he has not been ordained. May this
old mother church pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers; they have yet a number of valuable members, and I was pleased not long since among them to discover such a cry as this; "Lord revive us."
[John Taylor, A History of Ten Baptist Churches, 1823; rpt. 1968, pp. 49-81. — jrd]
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