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The Life of George Clark Rankin

Discussion in 'Wesley's Parish - Methodist/ Nazarene' started by rockytopva, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I am currently reading "The Life of George Clark Rankin" located at

    George Clark Rankin. The Story of My Life Or More Than a Half Century As I Have Lived It and Seen It Lived Written by Myself at My Own Suggestion and That of Many Others Who Have Known and Loved Me

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    George Clark Ranking was born in 1849 in East Tennessee and became a preacher for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (which would later form into the UMC). Mr. Rankin would move and spend the rest of his years in Dallas, Texas. A good life! Here are some excerpts from his book...

    ...Excerpts...

    CHAPTER III
    An Old-Time Election in East
    Tennessee, and Else

    In the earlier days, long before the railroads ran through that section, East Tennessee was a country to itself. Its topography made it such. Its people were a peculiar people - rugged, honest and unique. I doubt if their kind was ever known under other circumstances. Hundreds of them were well-to-do, and now and then, in the more fertile communities, there was actual wealth. Especially was this true along the beautiful water-courses where the farm lands are unequaled, even to this good day.

    Among them were people of intelligence and high ideals. No country could boast of a finer grade of men and women than lived and flourished in portions of that "Switzerland of America." Their ministers and lawyers and politicians were men of unusual talent. Some of the most eloquent men produced in the United States were born and flourished in East Tennessee.

    Those evergreen hills and sun-tipped mountains, covered with a verdant forest in summer and gorgeously decorated with every variety of autumnal hue in the fall and winter; those foaming rivers and leaping cascades; the scream of the eagle by day and the weird hoot of the owl by night - all these natural environments conspired to make men hardy and their speech pictorial and romantic. As a result, there were among them men of native eloquence, veritable sons of thunder in the pulpit, before the bar, and on the hustings.

    But far back from these better advantages of soil and institutions of learning, in the gorges, on the hills, along the ravines and amid the mountains, the great throbbing masses of the people were of a different type and belonged almost to another civilization. They were rugged, natural and picturesque. With exceptions, they were not people of books; they did not know the art of letters; they were simple, crude, sincere and physically brave. They enjoyed the freedom of the hills, the shadows of the rocks and the grandeur of the mountains. They were a robust set of men and women, whose dress was mostly homespun, whose muscles were tough, whose countenances were swarthy, and whose rifles were their defense. They took an interest in whatever transpired in their own localities and in the more favored sections of their more fortunate neighbors. They were social, and practiced the law of reciprocity long before Uncle Sam tried to establish it between this country and Canada.

    Who among us, having lived in that garden spot of the world, can ever forget the old-fashioned house-raisings, the rough and tumble log-rollings, the frosty corn-shuckings, the road-workings and the quilting-bees?

    And when the day's work was over - then the supper - after that the fiddle and the bow, and the old Virginia reel. None but a registered East Tennessean, in his memory, can do justice to experiences like those. No such things ever happened in just that way anywhere on the face of the earth except in that land of the skies.

    Therefore, the man who even thinks of those East Tennesseans as sluggards and ignoramuses who got nothing out of life is wide of the mark. They had sense of the horse kind; and they were people of good though crude morals. No such thing as a divorce was known among them. It was rare that one of them ever went to jail in our section; and, if he did, he was disgraced for life.

    I never knew, in my boyhood, of but one man going to the penitentiary and it was a shock to the whole country.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
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  2. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The spiritual transformation...

    "Grandfather was kind to me and considerate of me, yet he was strict with me. I worked along with him in the field when the weather was agreeable and when it was inclement I helped him in his hatter's shop, for the Civil War was in progress and he had returned at odd times to hatmaking. It was my business in the shop to stretch foxskins and coonskins across a wood-horse and with a knife, made for that purpose, pluck the hair from the fur. I despise the odor of foxskins and coonskins to this good day. He had me to walk two miles every Sunday to Dandridge to Church service and Sunday-school, rain or shine, wet or dry, cold or hot; yet he had fat horses standing in his stable. But he was such a blue-stocking Presbyterian that he never allowed a bridle to go on a horse's head on Sunday. The beasts had to have a day of rest. Old Doctor Minnis was the pastor, and he was the dryest and most interminable preacher I ever heard in my life. He would stand motionless and read his sermons from manuscript for one hour and a half at a time and sometimes longer. Grandfather would sit and never take his eyes off of him, except to glance at me to keep me quiet. It was torture to me." - George Clark Rankin


    George Clark Rankin was then sent to Georgia after his grandfather could no longer care for him. With his belongings in a satchel he had a Colt's navy pistol of a large make. It was an old weapon, and what under the sun I wanted with it is a mystery to me to this good day. I reached the station in time to catch the eleven-o' clock train. I purchased my ticket and boarded the car for the first time in my life. I had one lone lorn fifty-cent piece left in my depleted purse, and that was the sum and substance of my finances for the rest of the trip. As the train whizzed along I looked first at the people and then through the window at the country and thought over my journey and what was to come of it. At nine o'clock we reached Dalton and disembarked. I had never been in a hotel. I saw one not far from the depot and went to it. I asked the clerk what he would charge me for a room that night and he said fifty cents. That was exactly my pile! I called for the accommodation, but before retiring I told him I wanted to leave very early the next morning for Spring Place and that I would pay him then, for no one would be up when I would leave. He smiled and took the silver half dollar. I went to my room, and solitude is no name for the room I occupied that night. After a while I fell into a sound sleep and awoke bright and early the next morning. It was not good daylight. I arose and hastened downstairs, and there sat the same clerk whom I had the night before it had never dawned on me that a hotel clerk sat up all night. I thanked him for his kindness and bade him good-bye in regular old country style.

    It was not long until I was in the road and making tracks across the country to where my uncle lived. It was in 1866 and the marks of Sherman's march to the sea were everywhere visible. The country was very much out of repair and all around Dalton the earth was marked with breastworks. Every hill showed signs of war. Much of the fencing had not been restored and here and there I could see blackened chimneys still standing. After I had gotten out a few miles I stopped and took that old pistol with its belt and scabbard out of my satchel and buckled the war paraphernalia around my person on the outside of my coat. Just why I did this I cannot explain. I must have looked a caution in my homespun suit and rural air trudging along that highway with that old army pistol fastened around me. In going down a hill toward a ravine from which there was another hill in front of me I met two men horseback. They spoke to me and eyed me very curiously, but, strange to say, I could not tell why. Why would not men eye such a looking war arsenal as that? There were two others riding down the hill in front of me, and as the first two passed me they stopped and looked back at the others and shouted: "Lookout, boys, he is loaded!"

    [​IMG]
    In the course of an hour I was at my uncle's. He was surprised to see me, but gave me a cordial welcome. The first thing he did was to disarm me, and that ended my pistol-toting. I have never had one about my person or home to this good day. And I never will understand just why I had that one. A good dinner refreshed me and I soon unfolded my plans and they were satisfactory to my kind-hearted kinsman. He was in the midst of cotton-picking and that afternoon I went to the field and, with a long sack about my waist, had my first experience in the cottonfield. We then would get ready for the revival occurring that night…

    After the team had been fed and we had been to supper we put the mules to the wagon, filled it with chairs and we were off to the meeting. When we reached the locality it was about dark and the people were assembling. Their horses and wagons filled up the cleared spaces and the singing was already in progress. My uncle and his family went well up toward the front, but I dropped into a seat well to the rear. It was an old-fashioned Church, ancient in appearance, oblong in shape and unpretentious. It was situated in a grove about one hundred yards from the road. It was lighted with old tallow-dip candles furnished by the neighbors. It was not a prepossessing-looking place, but it was soon crowded and evidently there was a great deal of interest. A cadaverous-looking man stood up in front with a tuning fork and raised and led the songs. There were a few prayers and the minister came in with his saddlebags and entered the pulpit. He was the Rev. W. H. Heath, the circuit rider. His prayer impressed me with his earnestness and there were many amens to it in the audience. I do not remember his text, but it was a typical revival sermon, full of unction and power.

    At its close he invited penitents to the altar and a great many young people flocked to it and bowed for prayer. Many of them became very much affected and they cried out distressingly for mercy. It had a strange effect on me. It made me nervous and I wanted to retire. Directly my uncle came back to me, put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I did not want to be religious. I told him that I had always had that desire, that mother had brought me up that way, and really I did not know anything else. Then he wanted to know if I had ever professed religion. I hardly understood what he meant and did not answer him. He changed his question and asked me if I had ever been to the altar for prayer, and I answered him in the negative. Then he earnestly besought me to let him take me up to the altar and join the others in being prayed for. It really embarrassed me and I hardly knew what to say to him. He spoke to me of my mother and said that when she was a little girl she went to the altar and that Christ accepted her and she had been a good Christian all these years. That touched me in a tender spot, for mother always did do what was right; and then I was far away from her and wanted to see her. Oh, if she were there to tell me what to do!

    By and by I yielded to his entreaty and he led forward to the altar. The minister took me by the hand and spoke tenderly to me as I knelt at the altar. I had gone more out of sympathy than conviction, and I did not know what to do after I bowed there. The others were praying aloud and now and then one would rise shoutingly happy and make the old building ring with his glad praise. It was a novel experience to me. I did not know what to pray for, neither did I know what to expect if I did pray. I spent the most of the hour wondering why I was there and what it all meant. No one explained anything to me. Once in awhile some good old brother or sister would pass my way, strike me on the back and tell me to look up and believe and the blessing would come. But that was not encouraging to me. In fact, it sounded like nonsense and the noise was distracting me. Even in my crude way of thinking I had an idea that religion was a sensible thing and that people ought to become religious intelligently and without all that hurrah. I presume that my ideas were the result of the Presbyterian training given to me by old grandfather. By and by my knees grew tired and the skin was nearly rubbed off my elbows. I thought the service never would close, and when it did conclude with the benediction I heaved a sigh of relief. That was my first experience at the mourner's bench.

    As we drove home I did not have much to say, but I listened attentively to the conversation between my uncle and his wife. They were greatly impressed with the meeting, and they spoke first of this one and that one who had "come through" and what a change it would make in the community, as many of them were bad boys. As we were putting up the team my uncle spoke very encouragingly to me; he was delighted with the step I had taken and he pleaded with me not to turn back, but to press on until I found the pearl of great price. He knew my mother would be very happy over the start I had made. Before going to sleep I fell into a train of thought, though I was tired and exhausted. I wondered why I had gone to that altar and what I had gained by it. I felt no special conviction and had received no special impression, but then if my mother had started that way there must be something in it, for she always did what was right. I silently lifted my heart to God in prayer for conviction and guidance. I knew how to pray, for I had come up through prayer, but not the mourner's bench sort. So I determined to continue to attend the meeting and keep on going to the altar until I got religion.

    Early the next morning I was up and in a serious frame of mind. I went with the other hands to the cottonfield and at noon I slipped off in the barn and prayed. But the more I thought of the way those young people were moved in the meeting and with what glad hearts they had shouted their praises to God the more it puzzled and confused me. I could not feel the conviction that they had and my heart did not feel melted and tender. I was callous and unmoved in feeling and my distress on account of sin was nothing like theirs. I did not understand my own state of mind and heart. It troubled me, for by this time I really wanted to have an experience like theirs.

    When evening came I was ready for Church service and was glad to go. It required no urging. Another large crowd was present and the preacher was as earnest as ever. I did not give much heed to the sermon. In fact, I do not recall a word of it. I was anxious for him to conclude and give me a chance to go to the altar. I had gotten it into my head that there was some real virtue in the mourner's bench; and when the time came I was one of the first to prostrate myself before the altar in prayer. Many others did likewise. Two or three good people at intervals knelt by me and spoke encouragingly to me, but they did not help me. Their talks were mere exhortations to earnestness and faith, but there was no explanation of faith, neither was there any light thrown upon my mind and heart. I wrought myself up into tears and cries for help, but the whole situation was dark and I hardly knew why I cried, or what was the trouble with me. Now and then others would arise from the altar in an ecstasy of joy, but there was no joy for me. When the service closed I was discouraged and felt that maybe I was too hardhearted and the good Spirit could do nothing for me.

    After we went home I tossed on the bed before going to sleep and wondered why God did not do for me what he had done for mother and what he was doing in that meeting for those young people at the altar. I could not understand it. But I resolved to keep on trying, and so dropped off to sleep. The next day I had about the same experience and at night saw no change in my condition. And so for several nights I repeated the same distressing experience. The meeting took on such interest that a day service was adopted along with the night exercises, and we attended that also. And one morning while I bowed at the altar in a very disturbed state of mind Brother Tyson, a good local preacher and the father of Rev. J. F. Tyson, now of the Central Conference, sat down by me and, putting his hand on my shoulder, said to me: "Now I want you to sit up awhile and let's talk this matter over quietly. I am sure that you are in earnest, for you have been coming to this altar night after night for several days. I want to ask you a few simple questions." And the following questions were asked and answered:

    "My son, do you not love God?"

    "I cannot remember when I did not love him."

    "Do you believe on his Son, Jesus Christ?"

    "I have always believed on Christ. My mother taught me that from my earliest recollection."

    "Do you accept him as your Savior?"

    "I certainly do, and have always done so."

    "Can you think of any sin that is between you and the Savior?"

    "No, sir; for I have never committed any bad sins."

    "Do you love everybody?"

    "Well, I love nearly everybody, but I have no ill-will toward any one. An old man did me a wrong not long ago and I acted ugly toward him, but I do not care to injure him."

    "Can you forgive him?"

    "Yes, if he wanted me to."

    "But, down in your heart, can you wish him well?"

    "Yes, sir; I can do that."

    "Well, now let me say to you that if you love God, if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and if you love your fellowmen and intend by God's help to lead a religious life, that's all there is to religion. In fact, that is all I know about it."

    Then he repeated several passages of Scriptures to me proving his assertions. I thought a moment and said to him: "But I do not feel like these young people who have been getting religion night after night. I cannot get happy like them. I do not feel like shouting."

    The good man looked at me and smiled and said: "Ah, that's your trouble. You have been trying to feel like them. Now you are not them; you are yourself. You have your own quiet disposition and you are not turned like them. They are excitable and blustery like they are. They give way to their feelings. That's all right, but feeling is not religion. Religion is faith and life. If you have violent feeling with it, all good and well, but if you have faith and not much feeling, why the feeling will take care of itself. To love God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, turning away from all sin, and living a godly life, is the substance of true religion."

    That was new to me, yet it had been my state of mind from childhood. For I remembered that away back in my early life, when the old preacher held services in my grandmother's house one day and opened the door of the Church, I went forward and gave him my hand. He was to receive me into full membership at the end of six months' probation, but he let it pass out of his mind and failed to attend to it.

    As I sat there that morning listening to the earnest exhortation of the good man my tears ceased, my distress left me, light broke in upon my mind, my heart grew joyous, and before I knew just what I was doing I was going all around shaking hands with everybody, and my confusion and darkness disappeared and a great burden rolled off my spirit. I felt exactly like I did when I was a little boy around my mother's knee when she told of Jesus and God and Heaven. It made my heart thrill then, and the same old experience returned to me in that old country Church that beautiful September morning down in old North Georgia.

    I at once gave my name to the preacher for membership in the Church, and the following Sunday morning, along with many others, he received me into full membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was one of the most delightful days in my recollection. It was the third Sunday in September, 1866, and those Church vows became a living principle in my heart and life. During these forty-five long years, with their alternations of sunshine and shadow, daylight and darkness, success and failure, rejoicing and weeping, fears within and fightings without, I have never ceased to thank God for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was registered in the Lamb's Book of Life.

    .../Quote...

    This is the way every Pentecostal should treat the experience. Let everyone get it in their own unique way. Which is John Wesley Methodism in practice.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  3. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I am reading, on page 109, about GC Rankin's educational experience, in which he enters the service of a Professor Burkett...

    [​IMG]


    ...Quote (Excerpts beginning on page 133)...
    Up to this time, as I have already indicated, my faith was simple, confiding and unquestioning. It was the faith of my childhood. Yes, it was the faith of my mother. I did not know the meaning of doubt in my acceptance of Christ and in my belief in the Bible. It had never occurred to me that Christ was not the Son of God and that the Bible was not the exact Word of God. I had never thought how it was possible for Christ to be both God and man, or just how we had received the Bible. My innocent mind was an absolute stranger to quibbles on these matters. Christ was my Savior and I knew him as such from experience; and the Bible was God's truth to guide me through the trials and the duties of this life to a better life beyond the grave. These were accepted as undisputed facts. I had never dreamed that anybody called these truths into question.

    But the innocency of my faith received a rude shock just about this time. Professor Burkett had a fine yoke of oxen and with these I did the hauling about the farm. One night they got out and wandered on the railway track and a passing train killed one of them. This broke up his team. He had a son who was a distinguished lawyer, living in Chattanooga, and he owned a fine farm in Meggs County, not far from Decatur. On that farm he kept good stock. So he wrote to the old gentleman that if he would send over to Decatur he would be there at court and he would give him a horse.

    I reached Decatur that evening and made myself known to Colonel Burkett. It was a warm evening and after supper they were all sitting in the front yard talking. I was seated near them - an unsophisticated boy. It seems that just before that time, a month or so, a lawyer had left the bar and entered the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. His name was Wallace, and these lawyers were discussing his change from the bar to the pulpit. Some of them seemed to think that he acted wisely, because he was of a very serious turn of mind and too religious to make a successful lawyer. Others thought he had made a mistake and would regret it later on in life.

    Then it was that Colonel Burkett assumed to speak. He was a man of strong intellect, well trained and widely read. He was not a religious man. The following is the substance of his deliverance:

    "Wallace has not only made a mistake, but he has acted against common sense and reason. There is nothing in religion except tradition on the outside and emotion on the inside. The Bible is not a book to be believed. It is full of discrepancies and contradictions. The Old Testament is horrible. There are things in it that shock decency, to say nothing of a man's sense. The New Testament comes to us by a sort of accident. When King James appointed his commission to collate the manuscripts they threw out some of them and one or two of the present gospels came very nearly being discarded. They were retained by a very narrow majority. A number of the epistles, ascribed to Paul's authorship, were never written by him and they are not entitled to belief. They are a jumble of incongruous writings brought down from an ignorant age, and they are not in keeping with the intelligence of the race. The age has outlived them; they belong to a period filled with ignorance and superstition. Christ, if he ever lived, was a good man, but misguided and died as the result of his fanaticism. Wallace has only written himself down a fool by giving up a good law practice to enter the ministry."

    But imagine the effect of all this on my innocent mind. It knocked me into smithereens. I had never dreamed of anything like that I had heard. It aroused all sorts of feelings and all sorts of questionings. It flung me headforemost out into a stormy sea without rudder or compass. The waves grew tumultuous about me. I was almost engulfed.

    I arose and went to bed, but I did not go to sleep. I tossed from side to side filled with fear and misgivings. I thought of my mother and her faith; then it occurred to me that mother was just like myself. She had never seen anything of the world, had never read many books and was not an educated woman. She, maybe, was liable to mistakes. The man whom I had heard talk was an educated man; he had informed himself in history; he had traveled; he was a much smarter man than his father, and maybe he knew things that the rest of us did not know. He saw nothing in the Bible to call forth his faith and a number of the others seemed to agree with him. He did not even accept Christ as his Savior. And yet I was starting out to prepare myself to preach this gospel and to hold up Christ to men and women. Is it possible that after all there is nothing in it? Can it be that the whole thing is a fable, as my learned friend had argued? It was one of the most miserable nights I ever spent in my life.

    After awhile I went to Professor Burkett and threw open my heart to him. I told him what I had heard in the conversation among those lawyers, but did not tell him that his son was one of the leaders in that tirade against the Bible. I asked him if it were possible that what they said could be true. He began and opened up the whole subject, rehearsed to me the views of skeptics and infidels and then pointed out to me what effect such views had upon life and character. He explained to me how the Bible was inspired, how it had come down through all the ages and how it was believed. Then his deliverance on Christ, and what he had done for the world, was elaborate and convincing. But he said that he had not the time to go over the whole field; that he had a little book that presented the matter in a nutshell, and he reached up and pulled down a small volume and handed it to me. I went to my room and opened the book; it was Watts' Apology for the Bible. It took up every point made by the infidel and answered it succinctly. It gave me the exact history of the King James' translation of the Scriptures and threw a flood of light upon that subject. It gave me some relief, but I still had doubts and fears. I was not inclined to give up my faith, or to go back on the Bible; I was simply fearful and filled with doubts. In whatever direction I would turn they were there to afflict me and to hinder me.

    I was fighting a severe battle and victory was nowhere in sight. My faith remained intact, but it was clouded; my hope was still anchored, but the wild winds and the stormy waves were belaboring me. I was struggling to find a landing away from the fury of the storm; I was striving to quell the ebullition of my mental fermentation - yea, I was flinging my shoulders with might and main against the formidable obstructions that were blocking my progress.

    I learned long afterward that I was only passing through that crisis of doubt that comes to the experience of every honest inquirer after the truth; yes, I had reached the point at which the innocence of faith had its severest trial - the time when the mind cries out after a more solid ground of hope than that accepted in childhood; a foundation that is not only built upon Christ, but that furnished a rational reason for the hope that is within the bosom.

    In the meantime I clung to my faith and followed in the glimmering light of my hope. With all my disturbance and oftimes anguish of spirit I tenaciously held on to the Bible and conscientiously gripped the hand of my Savior. I lost the innocence of my faith, but acquired a broader and a more rational trust; I saw the brilliancy of my childhood hope take on a faded hue, but I anchored my desire in the haven of rest and my expectation rose to sublimer heights as I emerged from the gloom and looked out upon the expanse of an unfolding future.

    As the years passed by and my mind became more matured my reasoning, faculties grew stronger, my intellectual horizon lifted its boundary circle and became more extended in its scope, and I found myself able to digest more nourishing meats and to cope with deeper and more perplexing problems.

    In other words, I ceased to be a child in my faith and became a full-grown man in my knowledge of God and his methods of revealing his will to humanity. But the result came to me at the end of a long struggle that tried the joints in my harness, and that gave me careful investigation into the elements that entered into the foundation of my faith and hope. Therefore it has been many a long day since troublesome doubts harassed and disturbed the state of my mind. It was a fortunate coincidence that, along with those first struggles, I had a strong and steady hand to lead me and a wise and settled mind to help me solve the problems. In addition to this the thought of my mother's prayers for me and the influence of her godly tuition helped to strengthen and sustain me.

    Now comes the sequel to this story, which will require me to skip over several years and give another incident closely related to it. I was pastor of a city Church, in which city the State University was located. By the student body I was elected to preach the annual sermon before the Young Men's Christian Association of the institution. They chose my subject for me - "The Inspiration and Authenticity of the Scriptures". I had three months in which to make the preparation and I devoted much time to reading and research on the question.

    I had an immense audience, not only of students, but of local people and the faculty. I had liberty in its delivery, and such was the appreciation of it by the University authorities that they gave me the degree of Doctor of Divinity. This was unmerited and not deserved, but I was not responsible for their action. The sermon was published by request in the daily papers of the city and given a wide reading. I received many letters of appreciation from divers friends, and one of them was from Colonel Burkett. He did not know me. But I knew him. I will repeat a few of the passages in that letter:

    "I have read with interest your sermon on the 'Divine Inspiration and Authenticity of the Scriptures', as published in the daily press, and I write this apprecition of it for two reasons. In the first place, I have gotten profit out of it. It has given me light on the subject. I have read a great deal on that question and have my peculiar views about it, but your treatment of it has inclined me to re-examine my premises and arguments and see if my conclusions are altogether sound. I was brought up under religious tuition and my predilections favor the Bible story; but my reason, in my more matured manhood, rebelled against its validity. This has been my position for years. But I must confess I get no pleasure out of my doubts and infidelity. I really want to believe the Bible and to have faith in a Savior. As far as my observations go the Christian man is the happiest and the most useful of all men. My heart wants to be a Christian, but my head will not give its consent. But I am determined to make further inquiry into this matter.

    "In the second place, a friend of mine who knows you tells me that you are a former student of my father, and this fact quickens my interest in you and in the sermon. As I re-read it I felt that it was my father preaching through you. He has long since been gone, but I revere his memory and appreciate his work. Since he was instrumental in helping to produce you I am proud of you for his sake. My father was not a faultless man, but he had a generous heart and a confiding faith, and his work survives him in the poor boys whom he helped to get an education. He lived to a good purpose and spent his long life in helping others. His sacrifices were many, but were he living his reward would be ample in the thought that he had aided others to make the world better."

    When I read that letter it occurred to me that Colonel Burkett had unwittingly made that sermon possible. Had I not sat there as an innocent youth on that September evening in the long ago and heard his attacks upon the Bible and his doubts concerning Christ, I perhaps would never have gone into so full an investigation of that subject and preached that discourse. The experience cost me an anguish that words can never express, but out of it have come some of the most valuable lessons of my ministry. It has caused me to have more sympathy with that class of men who seem to want to know the truth, but whose perverseness leads them to either doubt and discard it or to treat it with indifference and let it go by default. My observation is that men get no comfort out of their skepticism and infidelity; that down in their hearts, in their better moments, they want to accept the truth and be Christians.
    .../quote...
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  4. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    There are, unfortunately, all types of people here in the mountains. I have been back in the sticks where people would talk out of order. George Clark Rankin had one of these occasions which he remembers fondly....

    [​IMG]

    CHAPTER XIII
    My First Experience as a Circuit Walker

    Resaca is a famous town. It occupies a large place in history. Yet it is only a village on the Western and Atlantic Railway, fifteen miles below Dalton, and located at the point where the road crosses the Ostenaula River. It has never had over three or four hundred people living in it. But its fame lies in the fact that there Sherman, in his march to the sea, had one of his bloody battles with General Joseph E. Johnston. Several hundred men fell there and were buried in crimson graves. The hills around the place are still marked with reminders of war. At the time about which I am writing these reminders were fresh and gruesome. The trees were splintered with shells and pierced with minie-balls. A Confederate cemetery near by tells where the boys in gray are sleeping who fell in that local conflict.

    Tilton was only a few miles above Resaca, and these were the two prominent points in my work. But it extended across to another valley through which the old Selma, Rome and Dalton Railway ran. Up and down these two valleys and across blackjack hills intervening was my mission. There was not a finished churchhouse on the work. There were three frames that were weatherboarded and seated, but otherwise incomplete and they were old. The reason that the ravages of war had thus left them was that they served the purpose of army hospitals. One of them, called Union Church, not far from Resaca, was the scene of the bloodiest part of the battle, and it looked like it had been struck by a thousand minie-balls. It was literally peppered with holes and the dark splotches still covered the floor, indicating the points where many a poor fellow lay while his life blood ebbed away. There were several large trees around it almost gnawed down by the ravenous teeth of canister and shell. So my first work was rich in history though poor in almost everything else.

    I went directly from Athens to my work, and I was ready for service the first Sunday after conference. I preached in Resaca. I had no horse and, except when I borrowed one, which was occasionally, I walked from one appointment to another. I was not a circuit rider, but a circuit walker. I secured board in the good home of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Barnett, members of my Resaca society. I was there semi-occasionally, and they declined to receive a cent from me. It was well, for I had the fewest number of cents to invest in board at any time during the year.

    I spent the most of my time out on my work among the people. They were mostly poor and had but few accommodations, but they were hospitable, generous and kind. Not many of them had recovered from the effects of the war. They did the best they could for me, but their best was not much.

    One of my appointments was called Cove City. Just why the word "city" was attached to it I was never able to understand. The cove was there in all its glory, but it was as innocent of anything akin to a city as one can imagine. The railroad passed the place and it was a sort of a flag station, but there was no town or village. The church was on the hill and it was a log building. The logs were hewed and spliced and the building was long and not very wide. It had two doors, one in the end and the other in the side, though the side one was nailed tight. It had very rough and uncomfortable seats, a big jam in one end for a fireplace and big cracks between the logs of the structure. In the other side there was an old-fashioned bee-gum pulpit, a sort of a box arrangement. The top of it was nearly to my neck. It had one open end and that was where you entered it, and on the inside was a rude bench for the benefit of the preacher. In the back of the pulpit in the wall there was an open window with no shutter of any character. The people entered the house from the end.

    My first appointment at that place was late in November and it was a raw, chilly day. There was no fire in the wide open old fireplace. The blast was coming through the cracks in the walls uncomfortably. But a large congregation came out, not simply to the service, but to size up the sort of a preacher the conference had sent them. It was a trying time for me, for my effort was to be a sort of a trial sermon. At least it was an initial sermon, and the good I was to do depended very much upon the impression I made in the beginning. They had never seen me before or heard tell of me until I was assigned to the charge. But they were just as new to me as I was to them, so they did not have much advantage of me in that respect.

    I was on hand early and seated in the pulpit. From the opening in the end of the pulpit I could see the people as they entered and they could see me. I sat there and watched them as they passed in, and they cast their eyes at me. Among them I noted an old woman. She was tall, angular, loosely constructed in form, with grizzled thick hair piled about her head, an old wrinkled face with a weather-beaten expression; and she was clad in a faded green calico dress, and the remnant of a lady's straw hat was in her hand. As soon as I beheld her I recognized in her a personality all to herself. I felt confident that if she had never been born the world would have been minus her presence.

    When she stepped upon the doorsill she dropped her old steel-gray eyes upon me and for a moment looked me through. She tossed her head slightly, walked by the pulpit and took her seat in the north corner of the room where she could lean back against the wall. I went through the preliminaries and took my text and began operation. It was a text which I have since found out that I did not understand, but it afforded me a basis for extended remarks. I used it a little like a cowboy uses a stob to which he fastens his lariat when he wants his pony to graze. It gives him latitude. So I fastened on to that text and grazed about it from all points of the compass. What I lacked in my knowledge of it I more than made up in the length of time I worked at it. Of course the exercise soon warmed me up and I was unconscious of the cold wind pouring through those capacious openings.

    Then it was that my old woman friend reminded me of my surroundings. Right in the midst of my climax she deliberately picked up her old hat from the bench beside her, rose to her feet and started toward the door. She looked like the tallest woman I had ever seen. As she reached a point right in front of the pulpit she checked up, looked at me and gave her head a significant shake and said: "Now, lookie here, my young man, ef you're a goin' to give it to us in that thar style I'll be switched ef I ain't got 'nuff of you jest right now". And she disappeared through the door and passed down the hill. I was not only dumbfounded; I was pertified.

    What she meant and who she was I had not the remotest idea. Neither could I imagine what I had done to call forth such a rebuke. My, but I felt spotted! I thought it possible that I had ruined everything the first pass out of the box. One thing certain, I was at the end of that discourse, and I hastily announced a hymn and pronounced the benediction. There was nothing else to be done under the circumstances. Thus my first service at that point ended disastrously.

    At the close a one-armed local preacher rushed round and grasped my hand and introduced himself to me as Brother Hickman, and said to me: "Do not pay no attention to that old woman. She's Aunt Rachel Stone. She's half cracked, and nobody don't notice what she says and does. We all know her. She's a good old woman. You go to see her tomorrow and it'll be all right." That helped me up considerably. Most of the older people came around and spoke to me, and a number of them invited me home with them.

    Among those who came forward was a bright-looking little black-eyed girl, with her hair like jet, with an intelligent face and graceful movement; and I knew she did not belong to that neighborhood. She looked to be about seventeen years old and I found out afterward that she was a governess in the home of the leading family in that community, but her home was in Dalton. Now, gentle reader, keep your eye on that girl, for there will be more of her further on in these chapters. She made an impression on me.

    The next morning I made it convenient to hunt up the home of Aunt Rachel Stone. She was one woman with whom I was anxious to make fair weather. I wanted her to be on my side ever afterward. It was not long until I found her house. It was a homely structure, small and unprepossessing. I knocked on the door and directly she appeared, threw the door open, had a pair of large octagonal brass-rimmed specks resting above her eyes upon her wrinkled forehead.

    As soon as she saw me she laughed and said: "Why, it's our young preacher! I'm shore glad to see you. I heard ye yisterday; but, chile, I was too much froze to listen to sich preachin' as that. Come right long in; I want to talk with ye." The welcome thus accorded me put me on good terms with her and for an hour I sat by her cozy fire and talked I soon found that she was not nearly so half cracked as Brother Hickman had given me to understand. The fact is, she was naturally one of the brightest women in her class I ever met. She was uncouth and uncultivated, and absolutely ignorant of the proprieties of life; but she had dead loads of good horse sense, and the most original genius of all my acquaintance. I never tired of hearing her talk when once I succeeded in winding her up and getting her started. She could say some of the wittiest things and get them off in the most unique way of any woman whom I have ever known. And she had the kindest heart and could fix some of the most palatable things to eat.

    I have often thought that if Charles Dickens or Thackeray could have gotten hold of Aunt Rachel Stone the world today would be under obligation to them for a book the rarest in the history of the literature of novels. There was a wealth of bright ideas in her old mind. They were rough and unpolished just like herself, but they were glittering even in their unpolished brightness. She had the oddest way of taking off people whom she wished to caricature and she could characterize them in the most unheard-of expletives that ever fell on mortal ears. She was a clean housekeeper; she was a good farmer and plowed and hoed and gathered her own crops. She had plenty of everything about her in the way of homemade substantials. That visit made her my fast friend and it mattered not afterward whether it was cold or hot or whether I preached short or long Aunt Rachel never again broke the end off of one of my sermons.
     
  5. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The Methodist Episcopal Church - South was one of the most spiritual organizations of its time. Its span was from 1844 to 1939, about a hundred year span. During its time spam this organization spawned many universities and was a very spiritual church. I am a great fan of JRR Tolkien, and this is the thing that makes me take interest in this church, for the church was made up of countless unique men, in which I take GC Clark's interpretation of these men with great delight... Beginning on page 200...
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    I never had a truer friend than Tom Simmons. He stood by me on three occasions when the grave swallowed up the remaining members of my family and spoke words of comfort that I shall never forget. He had the heart of a brother in his bosom and he was never known to go back on a friend. In later years he moved to Texas, was a useful preacher, loved the Church, was Mayor of Denton for one term, but died a year or so ago and went to his reward. I will always revere his memory.

    About this time Rev. Sam Jones began to make a stir in the conference. However, it was several years after that before he became famous as a revivalist. He was on the DeSoto Circuit just across the river from Rome and only a few miles below my old charge. I knew him well in those days and a great deal better in the years following. He created a sensation even then. He was raw in the ministry and people hardly knew how to take him, or what to make out of him. It was on this circuit that he experienced the only lapse after his reformation and conversion, but fortunately for him and the Church this one was only temporary.

    In all my acquaintance with him, and it was intimate, I never heard him make the slightest reference to this episode. It was doubtless a painful and a bitter experience, and he proceeded to blot it from his memory. It was the result of overtaxed nerves, and some indiscreet physician prescribed the use of Hostetter's Bitters as a stimulant and a tonic. Sam Jones at that time was the last man on earth to tamper with that sort of a remedy. He took it and this tells the tale. I need not go into particulars.

    Fortunately for him, Rev. Simon Peter Richardson was his Presiding Elder, and he proved the right man in the right place at that time. Had a man of less sympathy and less judgment been in charge of the district the world might not have heard of Sam Jones. The old Elder was an eccentric character and had a very original way of his own of saying and doing things. He had a wonderful admiration for young Jones and saw in him wondrous possibilities. He loved him like a father loves a son. And he was strong and wise and a fine judge of human nature.

    As soon as he heard of the misfortune he went at once to the help of the young preacher. He did not go with a frown on his face and a Discipline in his hand, but with a heart full of love and kindness. As soon as he entered the parsonage Sam Jones went to pieces and insisted upon surrendering his credentials. He thought he had ruined everything. But the old man hooted at the idea. He said:

    "Sam, cheer up, my good fellow; your trouble is that you are a very rundown and sick man. You need rest and proper medical treatment. I am here to love you and to stand by you until you get out of this and are again upon your feet. And when you are at yourself we will talk this matter all over; but we will not discuss it now. Stop thinking about it and get well, and you will be all right. Just as soon as you are recovered I will go around your circuit with you and make it right. God is good and patient and he knows how to deal with you. Go to him in prayer and I will vouch for the result before the people and before the conference."

    And he made his word good. Sam Jones regained his feet and became one of the most remarkable men of his day and generation. Simon Peter Richardson was one of the most unique and extraordinary men the Methodist ministry ever produced. He was a bundle of oddities. He could say the most unheard-of things in his sermons, make the people the maddest and then put them back into a good humor quicker than any man I ever heard preach. In person he was angular, had a movement, a voice and a pulpit manner all his own. He was unlike anybody else in the world. You could never anticipate him, and he always said the unexpected. He was brusque and transparent, and he was as bright as a piece of burnished silver. He sparkled from every viewpoint. He had a tremendous brain, was a great student and he was a master of Arminian theology.

    He sometimes had discussions with ministers of other denominations. If they treated him fairly and conformed to the rules of public controversy he was an agreeable antagonist, but if they undertook to carry their points by sophistry or to play for the galleries for popular effect he simply stripped the leaves from the switches with which he proceeded to scourge them, and the process was something terrific.

    I never grew tired of hearing Brother Richardson. Every sentence that fell from his lips was something fresh and startling. Whether in private conversation or in public discourse he never lacked for interested auditors. Everybody wanted to hear him when he visited his quarterly meetings. Even when they did not agree with him in doctrine they were anxious to listen to what he had to say.

    There was never but one Simon Peter Richardson, and it is a pity that his talents were restricted to such a comparatively narrow sphere. Had he pushed himself out, like other peculiar and striking characters I have known, he would have filled as large a place in the public eye as Lorenzo Dow, Peter Cartwright or Sam Jones. He had more native talent and a bigger brain than either of them, and as a reader and a thinker he surpassed them all. But he was not an ambitious man, cared nothing for notoriety, was satisfied with the fields assigned him by the Church and spent his life mostly in Florida and Georgia.

    [​IMG] Sam Jones...A great man of God! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Porter_Jones
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  6. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    ...If I may edit the following list, RS Sheffey and GC Rankin where also school teachers...

    I did a devotion on RS Sheffey that has over 17,000 views (http://www.christianforums.com/t7630646/). I am finding that the life of GC Rankin closely parallels the life of RS Sheffey.

    1. The were both orphaned at an early age
    2. They relied upon relatives other than mom and dad to keep them up.
    3. They both went to colleges where they would have to work the college farm
    4. They were both ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South
    5. They both would befriend the local slaves and grieve over their plights.
    6. On going to college, they both would have issues with it when it came to doubting their faith.
    7. They both were school teachers
    8. They both were sworn enemies to the liquor trade
    9. RS Sheffey would attend Emory and Henry, GC Rankin would almost attend Emory and Henry.

    I am reading, on page 158, about GC Rankin's teaching experience was similar to RS Sheffey's in that they both had challenges in their schoolroom...

    [​IMG]
    Rest from labor for a season is a sound policy. It gives the tired body and exhausted nerves not only an opportunity to unbend, but also to regain their resilience with new vigor and elasticity. No human spirit, however blithesome and alert, can maintain its strength and power of exertion under the pressure of incessant strain in one direction. Variety is the spice of life in all active pursuits, as well as in social recreation and diversions. It rehabilitates the system, exhilarates the mind and spirit and it restores the fagging energies. It introduces into the tenor of routine duties an element of relish and it scatters along the dreary pathway of monotony the warmth and radiance of sunshine. Neither absolute rest nor persistent and unremitting toil is the best for the human organism.

    The best type of rest is found in a change from one department of activity to another. It is this that brings profitable relaxation to the tired body and the overtaxed mind. Life is real and earnest, and there is no provision made for elegant leisure within the sphere of an aspiring spirit. Persistent effort along some department is one of the fundamental conditions of development and progress. It is a principle demonstrated in the history of mankind that if the stream of life is allowed to stand still, even for a limited time, it will stagnate and produce mental disease and moral weakness; but if permitted to flow on in some well-selected channel it will increase in capacity and strength and retain its freshness and purity even to the period of old age and feebleness. Under such conditions life reaches its highest altitudes and invests its energies and efforts to the best and noblest advantage.

    Therefore after the intervening of a few weeks I was not content to remain inactive at home. It did not require very long for my physical condition to take a rebound, and I was ready for some active employment. The growing crop did not need me, so I started out to find some order of employment. I went into a remote section of the county and applied for and obtained a country school. It was a five months' public school. It was in a community where school teaching had been the bane of the ordinary teacher's existence. It was in a very good community of farming people, where there were quite a large number of grown-up young people. They were not only backward in matters of education, but they were strangers to home discipline and control. They had been permitted to have their own way, and they were hostile toward school government and restraints. As an invariable result teachers had a hard row of stumps in that school district. Many of the parents gave them no co-operation, but took the part of their refractory children. I was apprised of this state of things when I accepted the school, and the local board put me on notice that I was chosen with a view of not only teaching that school, but of controlling it; they were tired of the failures that had been made by my predecessors. I faithfully promised them that if they would stand by me there would be discipline in that school and that its rules would be enforced to the letter. They gave their pledge.

    The first morning that school opened there were about sixty present, and I proceeded to organize the work and to classify the students. It took pretty much all day. Then I laid down a few simple rules and put them on notice that I was there to do them all the good possible and to aid them in getting a reasonable knowledge of the books to be studied; that I would expect every boy and girl to do his or her duty, not only in preparing the lessons, but in aiding me to control the school; for there could be no school without obedience and discipline. I wanted to love all of them and I wanted them to love me, but I was the teacher and had to be respected accordingly.

    After a few weeks I soon detected the few larger boys and girls who were not in school for study, but for mischief; and, as I was a young fellow, they would make a rough house for me whenever they saw proper. I sniffed trouble in the atmosphere of that school and determined to meet it firmly and without wavering. There were two who were the leaders - a large boy and a large girl. They were neighborhood sweethearts. The boy was named Morgan, and he was a strapping big country bully; the girl was named Missouri, and she was about seventeen, haughty and disrespectful. I bore with them patiently and good humoredly and tried all my powers of moral suasion.

    Instead of this accomplishing the desired result it seemed to impress them with the belief that I was afraid of them and was doing my best to avoid trouble. I concluded at once to disabuse their innocent minds. So that morning, on the way to school, I provided myself with two or three good hickories and put them in a conspicuous place near where I sat. I hoped that the sight of them would have some restraining effect and supersede the necessity of their use. As the youngsters filed in they eyed those new pieces of extra furniture with a good deal of curiosity and I saw Morgan wink at Missouri. It was not long until her willfulness manifested itself. I called her up before me and my tone of voice and manner indicated to her that I meant business.

    I said to her: "You are too large to whip; you are nearly a grown young woman. But you seem determined not to keep the rules of this school. Now you take this note and go home and give it to your father and mother. It will tell them exactly the state of your case. If they do not keep you at home, but send you back here, then you will either obey me or you will take the consequences. I am going to run this school if I have to thrash every boy and girl in it."

    She rather demurred, but I would take no protest or promise from her. The next morning she returned and brought a note from her father telling me to make her behave and that she had been put under me for that purpose.

    For a week she and Morgan were reasonably civil, but evidently they held a council of war and agreed to break the truce. One afternoon, just before the hour for closing and without any apparent provocation, she got into one of her tantrums and threw the whole school into confusion. I gathered up one of those well-seasoned switches, gave her the left hand of fellowship and the way I made the dust fly from her thin shirtwaist was a sight to behold. When I had finished the job she was in tears and moans. Morgan at once arose and said he would see me just as soon as school closed. I picked up a bench leg and as I made at him I remarked that he would not be put to the trouble of seeing me when school closed; that I would see him on the spot. He made tracks from the house before I got a single blow at him. Then I reduced the confusion to order, for it was general by this time. The larger pupils looked amazed and the smaller ones were frightened out of their wits. I told them that school would promptly open the next morning and that I was prepared to hold the fort against all comers.

    The news spread that night throughout the whole community and the next morning the members of my board called on me to know the cause of the difficulty. I laid the facts before them and they not only authorized the expulsion of Morgan and Missouri, but voted me a resolution of thanks for my timely effort to run that school. My fame as a schoolteacher spread for miles and my name was on nearly everybody's lips. They had never known anything just like it, and I awoke to find myself a hero. I had no semblance of trouble in that school again. My discipline was tiptop and the order fine. The County Superintendent, who was an able Cumberland Presbyterian minister, congratulated me at the close of the term on my success and offered me nearly anything he had in the county.

    I delighted in the school the rest of the term. I had some bright boys and girls, and to see them develop was an inspiration. One boy particularly appealed to me. He was about fifteen years old, but rather small for his age. He was as bright as a dollar. I used to go home with him to spend the night and would give him extra help in his work. Along toward the close of the school I said to him one day: "Bob, school will soon close and I do not want you to stop your studies. You are gifted and will make a scholar some day. Your father is able to send you off to school and give you a chance, and I am going to talk to him about it before I leave the neighborhood. What do you think about it?"

    He looked at me seriously and replied: "Professor, I do not want to go to school any more. I have learned enough to attend to business, and I am not going to make a scholar; I want to make money. I can read and write and figure very well, and to be a money-maker I don't need any more schooling."

    Well, that settled it. Whenever a boy of that age makes up his mind and fixes the standard of his ambition, it is my experience and observation that you had just as well let him alone. And it is also true that no boy rises higher than the ideal he places before him. So Bob had all the learning he wanted, and no more school for him.
     
  7. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Revival in Virginia around the old, Methodist Episcopal Church South mourners bench! The Life of George Clark Rankin and beginning on page 220...


    About the middle of the seventies I was again off to conference at Asheville, North Carolina. This time it was Holston, and Western North Carolina was then in this conference. I made it convenient to stop at Mossy Creek, the place where a few years before I had taken the train for Dalton; and from there made a short excursion into the Dumpling Creek neighborhood to visit my father's relatives. I had not been among them since boyhood.

    I do not remember anything specially interesting that transpired at that conference, except the reading of the appointments. This part of any conference session is always interesting. Along with a large class I was received into the conference and I was read out junior preacher under Dr. J. H. Keith, on the Marion Circuit, Smyth County, Virginia. I had never heard of the place before, but the next morning with my three companions I started back down the same road over which we had come in order to reach the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to take passage for my field of labor. All four of us were assigned work back in Tennessee except myself. With high hopes and buoyant spirits we discussed our plans and prospects. I was transported with the thought that I had been received into the conference and was given a place to work. It made no difference to me if it was away up in Virginia where everything and everybody were strange to me. It was an open field and that was enough for me.

    When I reached Marion I found it the shire town of Smyth, situated in one of the most beautiful blue-grass valleys in the world. A branch of the Holston River flowed through it and the mountains in the distance and on either side guarded its sanctity like supernatural sentinels. It is one of the most beautiful sections of country upon which my eyes have ever gazed. Throughout the county I found the people well-to-do farmers and cattlemen; thrifty, hardy, moral and intelligent Many of them had been educated at Emory and Henry College, not far below. The town itself was made up of most excellent people.

    The very afternoon that I arrived a man came in from Greenwood Church to see if either one of the new preachers had come. He said they had a good meeting in progress. I joined him and held service that night. I remained a day or two and dropped out long enough to go back to town and preach Sunday morning. In the afternoon I went to Mount Carmel, three miles up the valley, and preached. In the progress of my discourse Uncle John Killinger, whom I did not know, got happy and emitted a regular warwhoop that knocked me clear off the track. He often did that, as I afterwards learned. That night I held service again in town. I was given a splendid reception. I was the first young preacher that they had ever had on that circuit, and the young people took to me. On my way home after service to spend the night with old Brother Henry Sprinkle I overheard a conversation among some girls. One of them said: "Well, he has knocked all our chance at him out, for he distinctly said that 'he was determined not to know anything among us except Christ and him crucified'." The remark was a little irreverent, but it was witty.

    My cash had run low, I had no horse and the railway did not reach the remote portions of the work. So imagine my surprise when one day a committee waited on me and presented me a spanking black horse with a brand-new saddle, bridle and saddlebags. He was a beauty. I was never so set up in all my life. He was the pride of the valley. I learned to love him like a brother. And my love for those good people had no words to express itself. I did not spend much time in town, but careered over that valley and those hills and among the hospitable families on the work.

    I finished the meeting at Greenwood and plunged into another one down at Mount Zion. It was on the river out in the mountains among a mining population. They worked the Baryta mines. A few were substantial farmers. The meeting developed a marvelous interest from the word go. The house was crowded and the altar was filled with penitents at every service. It was the noisiest meeting I ever attended. Sometimes it was tumultuous. In that meeting I had scores of conversions, but one of them was the most remarkable in my experience. It was Z. N. Harris. He was a heavy-set fellow, about forty years old, with a striking face, a big head covered with reddish hair and a long, flowing beard of the same complexion. He had the most determined look upon his face that I had ever seen. At one of the night services he was present - the first time he had ever been seen at Church. To the surprise of everybody he came to the altar and became greatly concerned. He said to me: "Preacher, I am the hardest case you ever tackled. I am as mean as the Devil. For years my life has been an awful life. Do you reckon there's any chance for me?" I encouraged him all I could, but he left without any comfort.

    On my way home to spend the night with Brother Meek he said: "That man Harris is the terror of this community. He dropped in here a few years ago after the war and took up with a woman and they have been living away up the river in a wild sort of place. I believe he is a wildcat distiller. He is a professional gambler. He spends much of his time following the courts around when they are in session plying his trade. He is a dangerous man and keeps the worst sort of a crowd about him. Decent people never go near his home. If he is converted in the meeting it will be a great blessing to us all."

    The next morning Harris was back at service at the altar. He seemed much troubled. At the close of the service I had another talk with him. Among other things, I advised him to go to town and get a license and let me marry him to the woman who was then only his common-law wife. He wanted to know if that would do any good, that they had four children. I explained to him that it would be complying with God's law.

    That night we had a great crowd. During the preliminaries some one handed me the marriage license. I stated the nature of the document and requested the parties to come forward, and Harris from the men's side and the woman from the women's side came to the altar. I proceeded to marry them and the congregation certainly craned their necks and looked at each other in astonishment. I preached from the text: "How camest thou in, hither not having on the wedding garment?" Harris and his wife were the first to prostrate themselves at the mourner's bench. I have never seen greater anguish. The people prayed and we talked to them until late. By and by Mrs. Harris came through with a long, loud shout of praise and it electrified the congregation. We had quite a scene. Harris struggled on and about midnight he sprang from his knees and made the welkin ring with his praises. It was the old-time religion. The audience went wild and I stood in the pulpit and watched them. It was hardly safe for me anywhere else. It was a glorious scene.

    At the close Harris came to me and said: "Preacher, you must go home with me and spend the night." He mounted his horse with his wife behind him and we started up the stream, winding in and out along the many curves and indentures. When we reached his residence it was situated in a natural basin among the hills with a goodly section of open land around him. It was a log house with two rooms and a loft. I went in while he cared for the horses. He entered and stirred the fire and seated himself and proceeded:

    "Preacher, this is the first time that a good man has ever been in this hut. Your sort are strangers here. Now I want to wake up the kids and have 'em baptized. Then I want you to dedicate this home. We've gone into this business and we want to go the whole hog."

    I baptized the four children and then in a prayer dedicated the home. He took me up the ladder to the loft where there was a strange sort of bed; and with all sorts of covering over me and a fine opportunity to study astronomy through the cracks, I never slept more delightfully in my life. The next morning he gathered up several decks of cards and threw them into the fire and he dumped three or four ugly-looking old army pistols and a few savage knives into the stream. He went at the new life in the most business-like sort of way. He told me much of his past life, and it was as thrilling as a romance mixed with the dramatic and the tragic. It would make a book within itself and it would read like a yellow-back novel, except it would contain the truth.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  8. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Camp Meeting in Virginia around the old, Methodist Episcopal Church South mourners bench! Dear to me is this chapter of the book because I experienced so much of the wonderful things the author talks about in this work! :clap:The Life of George Clark Rankin and beginning on page 239...

    I passed my examinations and that year I was sent to the Wytheville Station and Circuit. That was adjoining my former charge. We reached the old parsonage on the pike just out of Wytheville as Rev. B. W. S. Bishop moved out. Charley Bishop was then a little tow-headed boy. He is now the learned Regent of Southwestern University. The parsonage was an old two-and-a-half-story structure with nine rooms and it looked a little like Hawthorne's house with the seven gables. It was the lonesomest-looking old house I ever saw. There was no one there to meet us, for we had not notified anybody of the time we would arrive.

    Think of taking a young bride to that sort of a mansion! But she was brave and showed no sign of disappointment. That first night we felt like two whortleberries in a Virginia tobacco wagonbed. We had room and to spare, but it was scantily furnished with specimens as antique as those in Noah's ark. But in a week or so we were invited out to spend the day with a good family, and when we went back we found the doors fastened just as we had left them, but when we entered a bedroom was elegantly furnished with everything modern and the parlor was in fine shape. The ladies had been there and done the work. How much does the preacher owe to the good women of the Church!

    The circuit was a large one, comprising seventeen appointments. They were practically scattered all over the county. I preached every other day, and never less than twice and generally three times on Sunday.

    I had associated with me that year a young collegemate, Rev. W. B. Stradley. He was a bright, popular fellow, and we managed to give Wytheville regular Sunday preaching. Stradley became a great preacher and died a few years ago while pastor of Trinity Church, Atlanta, Georgia. We were true yokefellows and did a great work on that charge, held fine revivals and had large ingatherings.

    The famous Cripple Creek Campground was on that work. They have kept up campmeetings there for more than a hundred years. It is still the great rallying point for the Methodists of all that section. I have never heard such singing and preaching and shouting anywhere else in my life. I met the Rev. John Boring there and heard him preach. He was a well-known preacher in the conference; original, peculiar, strikingly odd, but a great revival preacher.

    One morning in the beginning of the service he was to preach and he called the people to prayer. He prayed loud and long and told the Lord just what sort of a meeting we were expecting and really exhorted the people as to their conduct on the grounds. Among other things, he said we wanted no horse- trading and then related that just before kneeling he had seen a man just outside the encampment looking into the mouth of a horse and he made such a peculiar sound as he described the incident that I lifted up my head to look at him, and he was holding his mouth open with his hands just as the man had done in looking into the horse's mouth! But he was a man of power and wrought well for the Church and for humanity.

    The rarest character I ever met in my life I met at that campmeeting in the person of Rev. Robert Sheffy, known as "Bob" Sheffy. He was recognized all over Southwest Virginia as the most eccentric preacher of that country. He was a local preacher; crude, illiterate, queer and the oddest specimen known among preachers. But he was saintly in his life, devout in his experience and a man of unbounded faith. He wandered hither and thither over that section attending meetings, holding revivals and living among the people. He was great in prayer, and Cripple Creek campground was not complete without "Bob" Sheffy. They wanted him there to pray and work in the altar.

    He was wonderful with penitents. And he was great in following up the sermon with his exhortations and appeals. He would sometimes spend nearly the whole night in the straw with mourners; and now and then if the meeting lagged he would go out on the mountain and spend the entire night in prayer, and the next morning he would come rushing into the service with his face all aglow shouting at the top of his voice. And then the meeting always broke loose with a floodtide.

    He could say the oddest things, hold the most unique interviews with God, break forth in the most unexpected spasms of praise, use the homeliest illustrations, do the funniest things and go through with the most grotesque performances of any man born of woman.

    It was just "Bob" Sheffy, and nobody thought anything of what he did and said, except to let him have his own way and do exactly as he pleased. In anybody else it would not have been tolerated for a moment. In fact, he acted more like a crazy man than otherwise, but he was wonderful in a meeting. He would stir the people, crowd the mourner's bench with crying penitents and have genuine conversions by the score. I doubt if any man in all that conference has as many souls to his credit in the Lamb's Book of Life as old "Bob" Sheffy.

    At the close of that year in casting up my accounts I found that I had received three hundred and ninety dollars for my year's work, and the most of this had been contributed in everything except money. It required about the amount of cash contributed to pay my associate and the Presiding Elder. I got the chickens, the eggs, the butter, the ribs and backbones, the corn, the meat, and the Presiding Elder and Brother Stradley had helped us to eat our part of the quarterage. Well, we kept open house and had a royal time, even if we did not get much ready cash. We lived and had money enough to get a good suit of clothes and to pay our way to conference. What more does a young Methodist preacher need or want? We were satisfied and happy, and these experiences are not to be counted as unimportant assets in the life and work of a Methodist circuit rider.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  9. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I believe that there were seven churches that would befall us in ages.

    1. Ephesus - Messianic -Led by the Apostle to the circumcision, Peter
    2. Smyrnas - Persecutions ten days - Foxes Book of Martyrs describes ten Roman persecutions.
    3. Pergamoss - Orthodox - A pyrgos is a fortified structures; Needed for the dark ages.
    4. Thyatira - Catholic - The Spirit of Jezebel is to persecute, control, and to dominate. This spirit can invade any church!
    5. Sardis -Protestant - A sardius is a gem, elegant yet hard and rigid. Doctrine in the head, little in the heart.
    6. Philadelphia - Methodist - To obtain sanctification was to do so with love.
    7. Laodicea - Charismatic -Rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing? From hot ---> lukewarm ---> cold?

    There is a beauty in the Philadelphian church like none other, in which John Wesley is the brightest star within the Philadelphian cluster. The marks of Philadelphia...

    1. They were not rigid on the doctrine like the Sardisians.
    2. They were not materialistic like the Laodiceans.
    3. Philadelphian - An enormous weight on loving one another.
    4. Character! As you would get sanctified you would pick up Christian character!
    5. Tragedy - Unfortunately enough, there was also a good deal of tragedy within the lives of the Philadelphians (Wesley would divorce).
    6. Revival - John Wesley once prayed, "Lord send us revival without its defects but if this is not possible, send revival, defects and all."
    7. Sweet - This would carry down to through the Methodist church down to the Pentecostal Holiness church where I belong. They would not let you profess sanctification unless you had a sweet spirit!

    There was much death and tragedy in the early life of George Clark Rankin and Robert Sayers Sheffey. They would both be orphaned as boys. Robert Sheffey would also endure the death of his first wife... I did a devotional on the life of the old Methodist Circuit Rider Robert Sayers Sheffey and have posted it here (http://www.christianforums.com/t7630646/).

    [​IMG]

    ...Quote (Excerpts beginning on page 42)...

    It was on a beautiful morning in May when I had just returned to grandma's house from the river, where I had been fishing. What a splendid morning it was! In my mind and heart it will live with increasing interest as long as memory survives. Nature, like an Oriental queen of the olden times, was clad in her vernal robes of richest hue. The atmosphere fresh from the circumjacent hills, was redolent with the fragrance of foliage and flowers. Feathered songsters, exuberant with the joy of early springtime, were making the wildwood and the meadow vocal with their sweetest melody. A brighter sun never rolled up the eastern sky in his chariot of flames. Even the crystal stream, instinct with life, offered its tribute of joy through the music of its limpid waves. The far-off mountains, tinged with a mellow azure, sent forth their deep-toned praises from native harps of hemlock and pine. All sights and sounds and motions were expressive of universal peace and happiness.

    It was then that a rider on a foaming steed came dashing up to the gate and his face was pale and his manner nervous. Without uttering a word of preliminary warning he said: "George, your father is dead and you must go home at once." Grandma appeared in time to hear the announcement, but before she could ask for particulars he had turned and ridden rapidly away. Never did a blow fall with duller thud upon the heart of a boy. "Can it be possible?" was the first question that addressed itself to my mind. Only a few days before I had left home and he was in his usual health. But the announcement could not well be doubted, and it was not long until grandma and myself were hastening toward the scene of affliction and sorrow. All along the journey I could not restrain the hope that on arriving at home we would find the message untrue. How could it be true? Thus for several miles my heart drifted between hope and despair. After awhile we came in front of the house and groups of men were seen standing in the yard. This was confirmatory of the intelligence. We alighted and entered the home, and the first thing to greet my eyes was the outstretched linen underneath which was the body of my father. Close by the side of it sat mother, stunned with grief, for the death had come suddenly. She instinctively threw her arms around me and said: "Poor little boy, you have no father to love and care for you now." Her grief was inconsolable.

    The night was a long, sleepless night and when the morning came it brought no light of hope to that stricken home. The sun moved as usual up the sky, and toward the noontide the silent procession moved out toward the hill. How often we had gone there before to offer love's token upon the pulseless mounds, but never before under circumstances of such grief and bereavement as these. The man of God offered a touching prayer for the young widow and her three orphans, the coffin was lowered by strong hands, the dirt soon filled the gaping wound in the earth and the cruel grave had swallowed up our hope. With hearts bleeding we lingered a moment and in silence dropped hot tears upon the new-made tomb, and then wended our way back toward the place we called home; but it no longer felt like the home that we had once known. The circle was broken and a portion of the light had gone out forever. There was an aching void that no human presence could fill. To the great busy world these scenes and experiences did not amount to much; but to us it was big with ominous significance. For the first time in my young life the world looked cold and cheerless and words of human comfort seemed like a hollow mockery.

    I shall never forget the first night in that home of distress and loneliness. After the frugal meal of the evening, of which we had partaken but little, we gathered in the front room. It was a silent place, except for the broken sobs of mother and the sighs of my own breaking heart. She lighted the old tallow candle and sat it upon the table and took down her old calfskin-covered Bible. She turned to the twenty-third Psalm and read through tearful eyes and faltering voice: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;" and on to the end of the chapter. And then she opened the book in the New Testament and read: "Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." We then knelt down in our family devotion, and she poured out her heart into the ear of him who had said: "I will be the husband to the widow and the father to the orphan." And we found comfort.

    In a few days the old administrator came around and settled up the affairs of the little estate. When the debts were paid there was but little left for the support of that once happy family. There was no homestead law in those days, and it was not long until what my father had accumulated was disposed of to pay security debts, and we were without even a home. But my mother's faith failed not.

    What was she to do? Grandma told her she must come home, but my uncle and family were living with her and and mother did not care to take my brother and myself there, as it would place two families of children under the same roof, and that would not be for the best. So she resolved to accept the invitation for herself and my little sister - to send me and my brother to my Grandfather Rankin. I was nearly twelve years old and my brother five years younger. The old gentleman said he would be glad to have us, and that was the disposition made of us.

    I was no stranger in that home, as I had been there a number of times, but not as an orphan boy; and that made all the difference. Grandfather was far advanced in life and he was living with his second wife. They had four grown daughters. My father had been forced away from that home when he was in his 'teens by his disagreeable stepmother. She was a very peculiar old lady even when I knew her. The only serious mistake that my grandfather was ever known to have made was when he married her. She was not in his class. She was a Dutch woman and not one of the best types of her hardy race. She was not religious, had no taste for books, spoke broken English, and she was brusque and petulant. But she was the most industrious woman I have ever known. She was a slave to work. It was against her nature to see anybody idle about her and she could find more for a boy to do than any human being of my knowledge. She was a model housekeeper and kept everything about her as clean and shiny as a new pin. And she had brought up those four daughters in her footsteps. Two of them were just like her for the world in their dispositions and appearance. The other two were like grandfather. I soon learned to love them, but not the other two and the old lady. They were very repugnant to me and I was to them. The dislike was cordial and mutual.

    Think of a boy, brought up in my mother's and her mother's home, having to come under the government of this new regime. It was something terrible. They soon began to pick at me, to tell me I had not been half raised, that I was lazy and trifling. My hat was never in the right place, my shoes were never cleaned, my hair was out of order, and my manners sloven. They were constantly finding fault with me. It mattered not how many cows I had to drive up and look after, how many hogs to feed, how much wood to chop during the morning and evening, nor how hard I had to work all day in the field, they expected me to look like I had come out of a bandbox all the time. They taxed their ingenuity to find something to keep me employed and then fussed at me for the way it was done. I heard my own name called so much in that old Dutch twang until I learned to hate it. It was nothing but "Shorch, Shorch!" every time I appeared about the house. They made no effort to cultivate the better side of my nature. They treated me more like a servant. At night when I was tired and sleepy in the winter time they had me to sit up until nine o'clock and tack carpet rags. They made life miserable for me on all parts of the ground.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  10. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I have since learned that the Cripple Creek Camp Meeting was started by Francis Asbury himself around the year 1750.
     
  11. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    The work of George Clark Rankin has been republished in a book called, "Story of my life [electronic resource] 1912 [Hardcover]." I must say, along with CS Lewis's introduction to the JRR Tolkien works, "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart."

    The major difference is these events actually happened and is some of the best readings I have encountered. On receiving this book in the mail my first thought was who was interested enough in republishing this great work, in which I read...

    First published 1912, reprinted 2016 in India by....
    Facsimile Publisher
    12 Pragati Market
    Ashkok Vihar, Ph-2
    Delhi-110052, India

    http://www.bonanza.com/listings/Sto...sp53fpyIgOSntpXanqKJ0TOXh-TmkfD8bQaAjEP8P8HAQ

    This is one of the best resources on the beauties of the Methodist church that I have ever read.
     
  12. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    A tribute to the old Methodist....
     
  13. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    George Clark Rankin further describes his conversion...

    As we returned home the sun shone brighter, the birds sang sweeter and the autumn-time looked richer than ever before. My heart was light and my spirit buoyant. I had anchored my soul in the haven of rest, and there was not a ripple upon the current of my joy. That night there was no service and after supper I walked out under the great old pine trees and held communion with God. I thought of mother, and home, and Heaven.

    Yes... This is to become illuminated, to make the transition from darkness to light. When this happens the whole creation becomes alive and it is almost like the whole earth, the kady-dids, the animals, the good folk in revival, and family,the trees as the wind blows though them... The whole creation! Voicing their praises to God! All very much alive an in joy in the Holy Ghost! And along with George Clark Rankin I must cry...

    "During these forty-five long years, with their alternations of sunshine and shadow, daylight and darkness, success and failure, rejoicing and weeping, fears within and fightings without, I have never ceased to thank God for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was registered in the Lamb's Book of Life." - George Clark Rankin
     
  14. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Quoting the full testimony of George Clark Rankin...

    "Grandfather was kind to me and considerate of me, yet he was strict with me. I worked along with him in the field when the weather was agreeable and when it was inclement I helped him in his hatter's shop, for the Civil War was in progress and he had returned at odd times to hatmaking. It was my business in the shop to stretch foxskins and coonskins across a wood-horse and with a knife, made for that purpose, pluck the hair from the fur. I despise the odor of foxskins and coonskins to this good day. He had me to walk two miles every Sunday to Dandridge to Church service and Sunday-school, rain or shine, wet or dry, cold or hot; yet he had fat horses standing in his stable. But he was such a blue-stocking Presbyterian that he never allowed a bridle to go on a horse's head on Sunday. The beasts had to have a day of rest. Old Doctor Minnis was the pastor, and he was the dryest and most interminable preacher I ever heard in my life. He would stand motionless and read his sermons from manuscript for one hour and a half at a time and sometimes longer. Grandfather would sit and never take his eyes off of him, except to glance at me to keep me quiet. It was torture to me." - George Clark Rankin

    Then he got it good in the Methodist church in Georgia...

    ...Quote...

    After the team had been fed and we had been to supper we put the mules to the wagon, filled it with chairs and we were off to the meeting. When we reached the locality it was about dark and the people were assembling. Their horses and wagons filled up the cleared spaces and the singing was already in progress. My uncle and his family went well up toward the front, but I dropped into a seat well to the rear. It was an old-fashioned Church, ancient in appearance, oblong in shape and unpretentious. It was situated in a grove about one hundred yards from the road. It was lighted with old tallow-dip candles furnished by the neighbors. It was not a prepossessing-looking place, but it was soon crowded and evidently there was a great deal of interest. A cadaverous-looking man stood up in front with a tuning fork and raised and led the songs. There were a few prayers and the minister came in with his saddlebags and entered the pulpit. He was the Rev. W. H. Heath, the circuit rider. His prayer impressed me with his earnestness and there were many amens to it in the audience. I do not remember his text, but it was a typical revival sermon, full of unction and power.

    At its close he invited penitents to the altar and a great many young people flocked to it and bowed for prayer. Many of them became very much affected and they cried out distressingly for mercy. It had a strange effect on me. It made me nervous and I wanted to retire. Directly my uncle came back to me, put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I did not want to be religious. I told him that I had always had that desire, that mother had brought me up that way, and really I did not know anything else. Then he wanted to know if I had ever professed religion. I hardly understood what he meant and did not answer him. He changed his question and asked me if I had ever been to the altar for prayer, and I answered him in the negative. Then he earnestly besought me to let him take me up to the altar and join the others in being prayed for. It really embarrassed me and I hardly knew what to say to him. He spoke to me of my mother and said that when she was a little girl she went to the altar and that Christ accepted her and she had been a good Christian all these years. That touched me in a tender spot, for mother always did do what was right; and then I was far away from her and wanted to see her. Oh, if she were there to tell me what to do!

    By and by I yielded to his entreaty and he led forward to the altar. The minister took me by the hand and spoke tenderly to me as I knelt at the altar. I had gone more out of sympathy than conviction, and I did not know what to do after I bowed there. The others were praying aloud and now and then one would rise shoutingly happy and make the old building ring with his glad praise. It was a novel experience to me. I did not know what to pray for, neither did I know what to expect if I did pray. I spent the most of the hour wondering why I was there and what it all meant. No one explained anything to me. Once in awhile some good old brother or sister would pass my way, strike me on the back and tell me to look up and believe and the blessing would come. But that was not encouraging to me. In fact, it sounded like nonsense and the noise was distracting me. Even in my crude way of thinking I had an idea that religion was a sensible thing and that people ought to become religious intelligently and without all that hurrah. I presume that my ideas were the result of the Presbyterian training given to me by old grandfather. By and by my knees grew tired and the skin was nearly rubbed off my elbows. I thought the service never would close, and when it did conclude with the benediction I heaved a sigh of relief. That was my first experience at the mourner's bench.

    As we drove home I did not have much to say, but I listened attentively to the conversation between my uncle and his wife. They were greatly impressed with the meeting, and they spoke first of this one and that one who had "come through" and what a change it would make in the community, as many of them were bad boys. As we were putting up the team my uncle spoke very encouragingly to me; he was delighted with the step I had taken and he pleaded with me not to turn back, but to press on until I found the pearl of great price. He knew my mother would be very happy over the start I had made. Before going to sleep I fell into a train of thought, though I was tired and exhausted. I wondered why I had gone to that altar and what I had gained by it. I felt no special conviction and had received no special impression, but then if my mother had started that way there must be something in it, for she always did what was right. I silently lifted my heart to God in prayer for conviction and guidance. I knew how to pray, for I had come up through prayer, but not the mourner's bench sort. So I determined to continue to attend the meeting and keep on going to the altar until I got religion.

    Early the next morning I was up and in a serious frame of mind. I went with the other hands to the cottonfield and at noon I slipped off in the barn and prayed. But the more I thought of the way those young people were moved in the meeting and with what glad hearts they had shouted their praises to God the more it puzzled and confused me. I could not feel the conviction that they had and my heart did not feel melted and tender. I was callous and unmoved in feeling and my distress on account of sin was nothing like theirs. I did not understand my own state of mind and heart. It troubled me, for by this time I really wanted to have an experience like theirs.

    When evening came I was ready for Church service and was glad to go. It required no urging. Another large crowd was present and the preacher was as earnest as ever. I did not give much heed to the sermon. In fact, I do not recall a word of it. I was anxious for him to conclude and give me a chance to go to the altar. I had gotten it into my head that there was some real virtue in the mourner's bench; and when the time came I was one of the first to prostrate myself before the altar in prayer. Many others did likewise. Two or three good people at intervals knelt by me and spoke encouragingly to me, but they did not help me. Their talks were mere exhortations to earnestness and faith, but there was no explanation of faith, neither was there any light thrown upon my mind and heart. I wrought myself up into tears and cries for help, but the whole situation was dark and I hardly knew why I cried, or what was the trouble with me. Now and then others would arise from the altar in an ecstasy of joy, but there was no joy for me. When the service closed I was discouraged and felt that maybe I was too hardhearted and the good Spirit could do nothing for me.

    After we went home I tossed on the bed before going to sleep and wondered why God did not do for me what he had done for mother and what he was doing in that meeting for those young people at the altar. I could not understand it. But I resolved to keep on trying, and so dropped off to sleep. The next day I had about the same experience and at night saw no change in my condition. And so for several nights I repeated the same distressing experience. The meeting took on such interest that a day service was adopted along with the night exercises, and we attended that also. And one morning while I bowed at the altar in a very disturbed state of mind Brother Tyson, a good local preacher and the father of Rev. J. F. Tyson, now of the Central Conference, sat down by me and, putting his hand on my shoulder, said to me: "Now I want you to sit up awhile and let's talk this matter over quietly. I am sure that you are in earnest, for you have been coming to this altar night after night for several days. I want to ask you a few simple questions." And the following questions were asked and answered:

    "My son, do you not love God?"

    "I cannot remember when I did not love him."

    "Do you believe on his Son, Jesus Christ?"

    "I have always believed on Christ. My mother taught me that from my earliest recollection."

    "Do you accept him as your Savior?"

    "I certainly do, and have always done so."

    "Can you think of any sin that is between you and the Savior?"

    "No, sir; for I have never committed any bad sins."

    "Do you love everybody?"

    "Well, I love nearly everybody, but I have no ill-will toward any one. An old man did me a wrong not long ago and I acted ugly toward him, but I do not care to injure him."

    "Can you forgive him?"

    "Yes, if he wanted me to."

    "But, down in your heart, can you wish him well?"

    "Yes, sir; I can do that."

    "Well, now let me say to you that if you love God, if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and if you love your fellowmen and intend by God's help to lead a religious life, that's all there is to religion. In fact, that is all I know about it."

    Then he repeated several passages of Scriptures to me proving his assertions. I thought a moment and said to him: "But I do not feel like these young people who have been getting religion night after night. I cannot get happy like them. I do not feel like shouting."

    The good man looked at me and smiled and said: "Ah, that's your trouble. You have been trying to feel like them. Now you are not them; you are yourself. You have your own quiet disposition and you are not turned like them. They are excitable and blustery like they are. They give way to their feelings. That's all right, but feeling is not religion. Religion is faith and life. If you have violent feeling with it, all good and well, but if you have faith and not much feeling, why the feeling will take care of itself. To love God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, turning away from all sin, and living a godly life, is the substance of true religion."

    That was new to me, yet it had been my state of mind from childhood. For I remembered that away back in my early life, when the old preacher held services in my grandmother's house one day and opened the door of the Church, I went forward and gave him my hand. He was to receive me into full membership at the end of six months' probation, but he let it pass out of his mind and failed to attend to it.

    As I sat there that morning listening to the earnest exhortation of the good man my tears ceased, my distress left me, light broke in upon my mind, my heart grew joyous, and before I knew just what I was doing I was going all around shaking hands with everybody, and my confusion and darkness disappeared and a great burden rolled off my spirit. I felt exactly like I did when I was a little boy around my mother's knee when she told of Jesus and God and Heaven. It made my heart thrill then, and the same old experience returned to me in that old country Church that beautiful September morning down in old North Georgia.

    As we returned home the sun shone brighter, the birds sang sweeter and the autumn-time looked richer than ever before. My heart was light and my spirit buoyant. I had anchored my soul in the haven of rest, and there was not a ripple upon the current of my joy. That night there was no service and after supper I walked out under the great old pine trees and held communion with God. I thought of mother, and home, and Heaven.

    I at once gave my name to the preacher for membership in the Church, and the following Sunday morning, along with many others, he received me into full membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was one of the most delightful days in my recollection. It was the third Sunday in September, 1866, and those Church vows became a living principle in my heart and life. During these forty-five long years, with their alternations of sunshine and shadow, daylight and darkness, success and failure, rejoicing and weeping, fears within and fightings without, I have never ceased to thank God for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was registered in the Lamb's Book of Life.

    .../Quote...
     
  15. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I believe this is the very Methodist church, in Chatsworth, GA, where George Clark Rankin use to attend with his uncle. I photoshopped it a tad, but it didn't blend in very well.

    [​IMG]

    The Center Valley United Methodist Church, Chatsworth, GA, they have built a new building.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    John Wesley's "What is a Methodist?" In which GC Rankin lived such a shiny example...

    1. We believe, indeed, that "all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God.” We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice.

    2. We do not place our religion, or any part of it, in being attached to any peculiar mode of speaking, any quaint or uncommon set of expressions.

    3. Our religion does not lie in doing what God has not enjoined, or abstaining from what he hath not forbidden. It does not lie in the form of our apparel, in the posture of our body, or the covering of our heads; nor yet in abstaining from marriage, or from meats and drinks, which are all good if received with thanksgiving.

    4. Nor, lastly, is he distinguished by laying the whole stress of religion on any single part of it

    5. "What then is the mark? Who is a Methodist, according to your own account?" I answer: A Methodist is one who has "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;" one who "loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever!"

    6. He is therefore happy in God, yea, always happy, as having in him "a well of water springing up into everlasting life," and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. "Perfect love" having now "cast out fear," he "rejoices evermore." He "rejoices in the Lord always," even "in God his Saviour;" and in the Father, "through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he hath now received the atonement." "Having" found "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of his sins," he cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which he is delivered; when he sees "all his transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and his iniquities as a thick cloud." He cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks on the state wherein he now is; "being justified freely, and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." For "he that believeth, hath the witness" of this "in himself;" being now the son of God by faith. "Because he is a son, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father!" And "the Spirit itself beareth witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God." He rejoiceth also, whenever he looks forward, "in hope of the glory that shall be revealed;" yea, this his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again to a living hope -- of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for me!"

    7. And he who hath this hope, thus "full of immortality, in everything giveth thanks;" as knowing that this (whatsoever it is) "is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning him." From him, therefore, he cheerfully receives all, saying, "Good is the will of the Lord;" and whether the Lord giveth or taketh away, equally "blessing the name of the Lord." For he hath "learned, in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content." He knoweth "both how to be abased and how to abound

    8. For indeed he "prays without ceasing." It is given him "always to pray, and not to faint.”

    9. And while he thus always exercises his love to God, by praying without ceasing, rejoicing evermore, and in everything giving thanks, this commandment is written in his heart, "That he who loveth God, love his brother also." And he accordingly loves his neighbour as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of "the Father of the spirits of all flesh

    10. For he is "pure in heart." The love of God has purified his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice, and wrath, from every unkind temper or malign affection. It hath cleansed him from pride and haughtiness of spirit, whereof alone cometh contention. And he hath now "put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering:" So that he "forbears and forgives, if he had a quarrel against any; even as God in Christ hath forgiven him." And indeed all possible ground for contention, on his part, is utterly cut off. For none can take from him what he desires; seeing he "loves not the world, nor" any of "the things of the world;" being now "crucified to the world, and the world crucified to him;" being dead to all that is in the world, both to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." For "all his desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of his name."

    11. Agreeable to this his one desire, is the one design of his life, namely, "not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him." His one intention at all times and in all things is, not to please himself, but Him whom his soul loveth. He has a single eye. And because "his eye is single, his whole body is full of light." Indeed, where the loving eye of the soul is continually fixed upon God, there can be no darkness at all, "but the whole is light; as when the bright shining of a candle doth enlighten the house." God then reigns alone. All that is in the soul is holiness to the Lord. There is not a motion in his heart, but is according to his will. Every thought that arises points to Him, and is in obedience to the law of Christ.

    12. And the tree is known by its fruits. For as he loves God, so he keeps his commandments; not only some, or most of them, but all, from the least to the greatest. He is not content to "keep the whole law, and offend in one point;" but has, in all points, "a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man."

    13. All the commandments of God he accordingly keeps, and that with all his might. For his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. And therefore, loving God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength.

    14. By consequence, whatsoever he doeth, it is all to the glory of God. His one invariable rule is this, "Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

    15. Nor do the customs of the world at all hinder his "running the race that is set before him." He knows that vice does not lose its nature, though it becomes ever so fashionable; and remembers, that "every man is to give an account of himself to God." He cannot, therefore, "follow" even "a multitude to do evil." He cannot "fare sumptuously every day," or "make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." He cannot "lay up treasures upon earth," any more than he can take fire into his bosom. He cannot "adorn himself," on any pretence, "with gold or costly apparel." He cannot join in or countenance any diversion which has the least tendency to vice of any kind. He cannot "speak evil" of his neighbour, any more than he can lie either for God or man. He cannot utter an unkind word of any one; for love keeps the door of his lips. He cannot speak "idle words;" "no corrupt communication" ever "comes out of his mouth," as is all that "which is" not "good to the use of edifying," not "fit to minister grace to the hearers." But "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are" justly "of good report," he thinks, and speaks, and acts, "adorning the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things."

    16. Lastly. As he has time, he "does good unto all men;" unto neighbours and strangers, friends and enemies: And that in every possible kind; not only to their bodies, by "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those that are sick or in prison;" but much more does he labour to do good to their souls, as of the ability which God giveth; to awaken those that sleep in death; to bring those who are awakened to the atoning blood, that, "being justified by faith, they may have peace with God;" and to provoke those who have peace with God to abound more in love and in good works.

    17. These are the principles and practices of our sect; these are the marks of a true Methodist. By these alone do those who are in derision so called, desire to be distinguished from other men. If any man say, "Why, these are only the common fundamental principles of Christianity!" thou hast said; so I mean; this is the very truth; I know they are no other; and I would to God both thou and all men knew, that I, and all who follow my judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any but the common principles of Christianity, -- the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction. And having the mind that was in Christ, he so walks as Christ also walked.

    18. By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labour to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ.
     
  17. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    I have uploaded a video where I included excerpts from….

    1.Jess Carr’s “Saint of the Wilderness”
    2.William Barbery’s “Brother Sheffey”
    3.George Clark Rankin’s “The Story of My Life”
    4.Local accounts as I live in the vicinity.
    5.Classical movement selections from Beethoven’s Third, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies, performed by William Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony

    Hopefully catching the spirit of 1800's Southeastern Methodism...

     
  18. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    Photoed below is the Virginian Methodist Saint Robert Sayers Sheffey, in which GC Rankin also makes reference to...

    I passed my examinations and that year I was sent to the Wytheville Station and Circuit. That was adjoining my former charge. We reached the old parsonage on the pike just out of Wytheville as Rev. B. W. S. Bishop moved out. Charley Bishop was then a little tow-headed boy. He is now the learned Regent of Southwestern University. The parsonage was an old two-and-a-half-story structure with nine rooms and it looked a little like Hawthorne's house with the seven gables. It was the lonesomest-looking old house I ever saw. There was no one there to meet us, for we had not notified anybody of the time we would arrive.

    Think of taking a young bride to that sort of a mansion! But she was brave and showed no sign of disappointment. That first night we felt like two whortleberries in a Virginia tobacco wagonbed. We had room and to spare, but it was scantily furnished with specimens as antique as those in Noah's ark. But in a week or so we were invited out to spend the day with a good family, and when we went back we found the doors fastened just as we had left them, but when we entered a bedroom was elegantly furnished with everything modern and the parlor was in fine shape. The ladies had been there and done the work. How much does the preacher owe to the good women of the Church!

    The circuit was a large one, comprising seventeen appointments. They were practically scattered all over the county. I preached every other day, and never less than twice and generally three times on Sunday.

    I had associated with me that year a young collegemate, Rev. W. B. Stradley. He was a bright, popular fellow, and we managed to give Wytheville regular Sunday preaching. Stradley became a great preacher and died a few years ago while pastor of Trinity Church, Atlanta, Georgia. We were true yokefellows and did a great work on that charge, held fine revivals and had large ingatherings.

    The famous Cripple Creek Campground was on that work. They have kept up campmeetings there for more than a hundred years. It is still the great rallying point for the Methodists of all that section. I have never heard such singing and preaching and shouting anywhere else in my life. I met the Rev. John Boring there and heard him preach. He was a well-known preacher in the conference; original, peculiar, strikingly odd, but a great revival preacher.

    One morning in the beginning of the service he was to preach and he called the people to prayer. He prayed loud and long and told the Lord just what sort of a meeting we were expecting and really exhorted the people as to their conduct on the grounds. Among other things, he said we wanted no horse- trading and then related that just before kneeling he had seen a man just outside the encampment looking into the mouth of a horse and he made such a peculiar sound as he described the incident that I lifted up my head to look at him, and he was holding his mouth open with his hands just as the man had done in looking into the horse's mouth! But he was a man of power and wrought well for the Church and for humanity.

    The rarest character I ever met in my life I met at that campmeeting in the person of Rev. Robert Sheffy, known as "Bob" Sheffy. He was recognized all over Southwest Virginia as the most eccentric preacher of that country. He was a local preacher; crude, illiterate, queer and the oddest specimen known among preachers. But he was saintly in his life, devout in his experience and a man of unbounded faith. He wandered hither and thither over that section attending meetings, holding revivals and living among the people. He was great in prayer, and Cripple Creek campground was not complete without "Bob" Sheffy. They wanted him there to pray and work in the altar.

    He was wonderful with penitents. And he was great in following up the sermon with his exhortations and appeals. He would sometimes spend nearly the whole night in the straw with mourners; and now and then if the meeting lagged he would go out on the mountain and spend the entire night in prayer, and the next morning he would come rushing into the service with his face all aglow shouting at the top of his voice. And then the meeting always broke loose with a floodtide.

    He could say the oddest things, hold the most unique interviews with God, break forth in the most unexpected spasms of praise, use the homeliest illustrations, do the funniest things and go through with the most grotesque performances of any man born of woman.

    It was just "Bob" Sheffy, and nobody thought anything of what he did and said, except to let him have his own way and do exactly as he pleased. In anybody else it would not have been tolerated for a moment. In fact, he acted more like a crazy man than otherwise, but he was wonderful in a meeting. He would stir the people, crowd the mourner's bench with crying penitents and have genuine conversions by the score. I doubt if any man in all that conference has as many souls to his credit in the Lamb's Book of Life as old "Bob" Sheffy.

    At the close of that year in casting up my accounts I found that I had received three hundred and ninety dollars for my year's work, and the most of this had been contributed in everything except money. It required about the amount of cash contributed to pay my associate and the Presiding Elder. I got the chickens, the eggs, the butter, the ribs and backbones, the corn, the meat, and the Presiding Elder and Brother Stradley had helped us to eat our part of the quarterage. Well, we kept open house and had a royal time, even if we did not get much ready cash. We lived and had money enough to get a good suit of clothes and to pay our way to conference. What more does a young Methodist preacher need or want? We were satisfied and happy, and these experiences are not to be counted as unimportant assets in the life and work of a Methodist circuit rider.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    On asking a Robert Vejnar, Archivist, Emory & Henry College and Holston Conference for history, on the old Cripple Creek meetings, I was pleasured to recieve a document dated September 1823 giving the rules to govern the camp meeting.

    Rules to govern the Cripple Creek Camp meeting beginning on the 12th day of September, 1823.

    1) At the first sound of the trumpet in the morning all the people will arise from their tent to dress for church.
    2)At the second sound there will be prayer in each tent.
    3)At the third sound and every subsequence throughout the day the people will come to the stand.
    4)No loud talking is allowed on the campground during the divine service.
    5)No person or persons are allowed to stand or walk on the gates at any time during the meeting.
    6)No person or persons are allowed to drink any kind of ardent spirits on the campground or any of the fringes or waters belonging to the same.
    7)No drunken man or woman are allowed to come on this campground or any of the waters used by the camp.
    8)All persons not having a camp or tent to stay in are to leave the campground when the congregation are dismissed or in the night.
    9)No person or persons are allowed to occupy the stand except the preachers and the exhorters.
    10)The alter is to be occupied by the official characters..
    11)The people are not allowed to come in to any camp or camps without an official invitation by the occupant.
    12)The people are not allowed to tie their horses to the fence.
    13)No cooking on the Sabbath day except tea or coffee.
    14)The females are to occupy the seats on the left hand from the stand and the males on the right hand.
    15)The females are to enter from the west from the stand and the males from the north.
    16)The people are requested to keep their camps illuminated during the night.
    17)No merchandise of any kind is allowed on the campground or at any of the waters belonging to the same.
    18)Every settler at this meeting is to act as a guard and a committee of safety to guard our privileges.
    19)Names of those to guard
    20)The committee to guard the alter… Names of those to guard
    21)No persons are allowed to hurt any timbers or young growth on any part of the campground.

    We the undersigned do agree to bind ourselves to observe the above rules to do what we can to make others do the same.

    ***This document was signed by 27 people. ***
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My roots are soundly laid in the Methodist church. On both sides of my family I can trace roots to the Methodist church all the way back to the 1700's. I delight greatly in the history of it and my opinion is that John Wesley was the greatest character to come along since the Apostle Paul.

    I, as a history guy, am sorely grieved over the lack of minutes that were preserved from this time period and this is the only recorded document I could obtain on the Cripple Creek camp meetings other than what GC Rankin mentioned in his book. It is interesting to note that the people of my Pentecostal Holiness church here in SW VA would still occupy the first few pews with the men sitting on the left side (as you walked down the aisle) and the woman on the right side... Just like the Methodist did 250 years before them.
     
  20. rockytopva

    rockytopva Love to pray! :) Supporter

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    All that's left of the old and famous Cripple Creek campground is the Asbury United Methodist church in Rural Retreat, VA.

    [​IMG]

    And to let GC Rankin describe the place in his own words...

    I passed my examinations and that year I was sent to the Wytheville Station and Circuit. That was adjoining my former charge. We reached the old parsonage on the pike just out of Wytheville as Rev. B. W. S. Bishop moved out. Charley Bishop was then a little tow-headed boy. He is now the learned Regent of Southwestern University.

    The famous Cripple Creek Campground was on that work. They have kept up campmeetings there for more than a hundred years. It is still the great rallying point for the Methodists of all that section. I have never heard such singing and preaching and shouting anywhere else in my life. I met the Rev. John Boring there and heard him preach. He was a well-known preacher in the conference; original, peculiar, strikingly odd, but a great revival preacher.

    One morning in the beginning of the service he was to preach and he called the people to prayer. He prayed loud and long and told the Lord just what sort of a meeting we were expecting and really exhorted the people as to their conduct on the grounds. Among other things, he said we wanted no horse- trading and then related that just before kneeling he had seen a man just outside the encampment looking into the mouth of a horse and he made such a peculiar sound as he described the incident that I lifted up my head to look at him, and he was holding his mouth open with his hands just as the man had done in looking into the horse's mouth! But he was a man of power and wrought well for the Church and for humanity.

    The rarest character I ever met in my life I met at that campmeeting in the person of Rev. Robert Sheffy, known as "Bob" Sheffy. He was recognized all over Southwest Virginia as the most eccentric preacher of that country. He was a local preacher; crude, illiterate, queer and the oddest specimen known among preachers. But he was saintly in his life, devout in his experience and a man of unbounded faith. He wandered hither and thither over that section attending meetings, holding revivals and living among the people. He was great in prayer, and Cripple Creek campground was not complete without "Bob" Sheffy. They wanted him there to pray and work in the altar.

    He was wonderful with penitents. And he was great in following up the sermon with his exhortations and appeals. He would sometimes spend nearly the whole night in the straw with mourners; and now and then if the meeting lagged he would go out on the mountain and spend the entire night in prayer, and the next morning he would come rushing into the service with his face all aglow shouting at the top of his voice. And then the meeting always broke loose with a floodtide.

    He could say the oddest things, hold the most unique interviews with God, break forth in the most unexpected spasms of praise, use the homeliest illustrations, do the funniest things and go through with the most grotesque performances of any man born of woman.

    It was just "Bob" Sheffy, and nobody thought anything of what he did and said, except to let him have his own way and do exactly as he pleased. In anybody else it would not have been tolerated for a moment. In fact, he acted more like a crazy man than otherwise, but he was wonderful in a meeting. He would stir the people, crowd the mourner's bench with crying penitents and have genuine conversions by the score. I doubt if any man in all that conference has as many souls to his credit in the Lamb's Book of Life as old "Bob" Sheffy.
     
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