Baptist History Homepage

John Taylor on the Perils of Frontier Preaching
A History of Ten Churches, 1823
. . . I got very wet going to the meeting. But few people attended, the night being dark, I sat [sic] out for home before nine o'clock - after riding about three miles and on a hill side, my horse fell into a gully about two feet deep. His first fall was on one of my legs; in his struggling to rise, and falling back, he dashed me into the bottom of the gully, and himself on me. Not being yet alarmed at my danger, having a small switch in my hand, to make him rise, I gave him a few stripes; but the situation of the ground prevented his rising, and with every effort he made, he fell back on me, and with his head it seemed as if he would knock out my brains; for both of our heads lay in the same direction, and down the hill. By this time I was buried in mud and water, as deep as his weight could sink me - so that my naked head (for I soon lost my hat,) was buried in the soft mire, till my ears and mouth were filled with mud. This old workhorse, about sixteen

p. 179
hands high, and very heavy, was thus fixed on me in a gully about large enough to receive us both. I lay somewhat on my side, his breast and fore legs, lay across under my arm-pit, his greatest weight was on my hips, my legs lay under his hips and thighs. My lungs were so depressed that I only could respire as with a dying breath, a house being a few hundred yards from where I lay, I now hallowed with what strength I had, but none answered or came to my relief. Perhaps what noise I made, bore but little resemblance of a human voice, for I found that I could I could articulate nothing plain - though a number of houses were in sight of where I lay, all was silent as the grave, only the blowing of the wind and blackness of the clouds foreboding a storm at hand; I now silently composed my mind the best way I could and think a little before I died.

I was as perfectly collected, as to my thoughts as I now am - I thought of my time of life, now more than seventy years old - that it was now time to die - that I had no hope for eternity, but what I had been preaching to men for more than fifty years, and that all those labours bore no part of the ground of my acceptance with God; the obedience unto death, of the Saviour Christ Jesus, his glorious resurrection, and intercession with the Father for me, was the only ground of my hope for Heaven; with these thoughts I could that moment breathe my last, but another thought occurred - to-morrow I am to set out on a ten days tour of preaching, about Versailles and Clear Creek; a number of people there had been received and not yet Baptized; I had anticipated pleasure, by an interview with my young brethren and old ones too, also those who were enquiring the way to Zion - but all this said I to myself, is over, for here I must die; indeed my thoughts were, this is my destiny, God has appointed it; but not knowing fully the will of God, I put up a very short, broken and doubtful prayer to Him, about to this amount

p. 180
"O Lord I beseech thee, suffer me not to die in this gully["] - about this time I felt strength to draw my feet from under the horses hips, and by the help of my feet worked my hips a little from under the heaviest weight of the horse, my thought then was, if he attempted to rise and fell only one foot lower down the hill (which was most likely) my breath would be stopped in a moment - or with his knees or feet, if he could even get up, he would tread me to death, for through weakness and depression, I could barely now breathe - my right hand was the only limb through the course of this struggle, that I had the use of, that being a little below the horses shoulders as he lay on me; with my little whip I began to crack the horse again; when he began to struggle, I thought, now death is coming; it was so dark I could not see the horse, but reaching out my hand to feel, I found he was gone, when I examined further he was standing where my feet had lain - though I do not ascribe this to miracle, it was surely the most striking interposition of providence in my favor of any other in my life - I lay there a while to rest and thank God - and then with much struggle got out of the mud, with the help of the fence I got on my horse, leaving my hat, saddle, one shoe and a mitten in the mud, and got to my son-in-law French's about eleven o'clock - from estimation I must have been one hour at least under the horse; a great part of the next day I kept my bed, the greatest injury I seemed to have received is in my hips, which will perhaps never be restored.

On Friday morning I set out on the tour of preaching. . .

[John Taylor, A History of Ten Baptist Churches, 1823; reprint, 1968, pp. 178-180. The title has been added. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

History of Ten Churches
Baptist History Homepage