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As these hardy adventurers, bent upon perilous enterprise, are thrusting themselves into the occupancy of a new world, I see approaching another class, with many traits in common with them; yet, many differing. They, too, are of large build, and robust strength; they, too, are inured to exposure and privation; they, too, have nerves that never thrill with fear. Sun and storm have bronzed them; hunger, frost, and loneliness are to them familiar acquaintances. Gaunt poverty keeps even pace with them as they ride, and shall accompany them until they reach the last stage of their journey—the house appointed for all living. Wherefore are they in the wilderness—for they have neither rifles nor axes ?
They are generally on horseback, and when they are, you may accept the fact as primâ facie evidence that the beasts they ride are good ones; for they are great judges of horse-flesh. I have even heard it whispered that they are a little dangerous "at a trade"—but that, of course, is scandal.
Their symbol is the saddle-bags, which go with them in all their wayfarings- beneath them as they ride - upon their arm in walking. In the capacious pockets is snugly deposited their library, consisting of the Bible, hymn-book, and, probably, the "Pilgrim's Progress," "Paradise Lost," and the "Night Thoughts; " their few changes of what we shall poetically call clean linen; i. e. very coarse cotton
PREACHERS IN THE WILDERNESS.
together with such odds and ends as they may chance
These men are here in obedience to the command of Him who said, "Go into all the world, and preach my gospel to every creature; in imitation of Him who 66 came to seek and to save that which was lost," and who " went about doing good." They are here to "do the work of evangelists;" and "to make full proof of their ministry," warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Another wolf is there than the grey one of the forest. Shall not the flock be fed and folded while the lambs are carried in their bosoms?
Through the instrumentality of these humble men, a cabin, similar to the one already described, but used for a widely different purpose, is reared in many a settlement. It serves as a school-house and a sanctuary-symbol of the country's strength and purity. Unlearned themselves, they were, nevertheless, the first patrons of literature and science-founding academies and colleges. I have known many a man of this class, who could not construct half-a-dozen sentences grammatically, yet bestowing half his slender yearly stipend to establish an institution of learning. Traversing the trackless mazes of the woods, they are not seldom greeted by the crack of a rifle, and a bullet whistling near their ear from an Indian ambuscade. Their journeys take them through boundless reaches of uninhabited country. The canebrake, the swamp, the moss at the foot of a tree, are their only beds for more than half the year. Their saddle is their pillow, with no tent but the canopy save as the snow may wind its wintry sheet about them. They live by rule. Four o'clock of the morning finds them stirring. The knee is bent in fervent, simple prayer. The soul's health thus cared
for, and the body's welfare commended to an Almighty Friend, the faithful horse, loved as a companion, hobbled near at hand, claims the next attention; familiarly patted and talked to, he is carefully rubbed and curried, if a comb be at hand. Soon as the light is strong enough to serve, the little Bible is taken from the pocket or saddlebags, and chapter after chapter is studied on the knees, while ofttimes, tears course their way down the weatherbeaten cheeks, bedewing the sacred page. I have seen more than one of these volumes, the text-book and solace of many a year, with its print so dimmed as to be illegible to any eyes but those accustomed to read it every day. These men were mighty in the Scriptures. Here found they panoply and arsenal. Then mounting, hymn-book in hand, they start upon their trackless way, guiding themselves by the sun, if he be visible; by the courses of the streams, or the different shades and textures of the bark upon the trees. The bee's line is not more accurate than their direction. Never was lover more true to his tryst than these men to their appointments. The hour for meeting is scarce more sure to come than they, No matter whether the day be Saturday or Monday, for they preach on all days alike; no matter whether the congregation consist of one or a thousand, the service is performed, and performed with fervour, impressiveness, and solemnity. They have come to meet the exigencies of the country and the time, and they never flinch. Over their patriotic countrymen, who have fallen on the red field of Indian battle, they perform the rights of Christian burial. To the lonely cabin, where sits the broken-hearted widow with her brood of helpless orphans, they come to teach the doctrines of Jesus and the resurrection; to tell of a Father, who will " never leave them, nor forsake them," and of a land where "God shall wipe away all tears, and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying." The drunkard is counselled, the swearer reproved, all forms of vice admonished, and every man warned to "flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life." No occasion is omitted, no opportunity lost. The man whom the preacher meets to-day, may be dead to-morrow, and "lifting up his eyes, being in torment." From behind his stool, in the corner of the cabin, or mounted upon a stump at the cross-roads, does he beseech men, "by the love of Christ, to become reconciled to God."
Let the following incident stand as illustrative of the character of these men.
A few months ago, in December, 1855, there died, in the city of Cincinnati, a man nearly ninety years of age, whose name was William Burke. He had been almost in the van of these pioneer ministers. He entered the West when the contest with the Indians was at its hottest. He travelled through what is now Western Virginia and North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. There was scarce a settlement in all this vast region where he had not preached, or a cabin where he had not prayed with the inmates. So poor was he, oftentimes, that his clothes, as he himself said, were patch upon patch, and patch above patch, until the patches themselves were worn out and bare-kneed, and bare-elbowed; " without a cent in his pocket, or a friend to give him a new garment, he must needs go forward in the service of his Master. After three and twenty years of unremitting toil, having experienced hardships and suffering beyond description, he lost his voice, and was obliged to abandon his vocation. Selling out his stock in trade, saddle, bridle, horse, and saddlebags, he found himself in possession of two hundred and thirteen dollars, as the total receipts for his twenty-three years' labour. And now let me give you some facts from
the history of one of my own friends, whom I loved wellnigh as a father-one of the noblest men that ever trod this globe. He left us nearly six years ago. Although not one of the earliest, he was in the field at a sufficiently early date to entitle him to the name of a pioneer preacher.
He too was a specimen of Young America, for he began to preach at the age of sixteen years. As I remember, he had never received three months' schooling in his life. He was remarkably handsome. For five and twenty years he was called the Apollo of the West-albeit for a good portion of the time Apollo in homespun. He was one of the gifted sons of genius. Henry Clay, who should have been a good judge in such matters, pronounced him the most eloquent man he ever heard open his lips.
I have said he was very handsome, and that, in the esteem of many of his brethren, was equivalent to heresy. I have known many well-meaning simpletons, who, to use their own expression, “couldn't abide him, because he looked so like a dandy." Many of the old brethren of the laity and clergy thought it "wasn't in him to be a preacher." Whenever they saw him coming towards them with his ingenuous face and kingly carriage, their countenances would lengthen to a preternatural longitude, and uttering what they meant to be a pious groan, they would murmur among themselves, "he'll never do."
There was one old brother, who, while he shared this prejudice, nevertheless felt some interest in the stripling; blunted, indeed, must have been that nature which refused response to the generous spirit of my friend. The old gentleman took it upon himself to deliver admonitory lectures, on the subjects of apparel and demeanour, to the candidate for holy orders. "Henry, my son," he said in a gruff, rebuking tone, "why don't you try to be like a preacher, and look like a preacher ? You'll never be worth shucks, as long as you live."