Monday, February 13, 2017

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Secret Exercises

Continued from the Memoirs of Rev. Rice: Character of Some of the First Preachers in Kentucky.

This is from Chapter XI of the memoirs of Rev. David Rice, which were included in An Outline of the History of the Church in the State of Kentucky, During a Period of Forty Years by Robert Hamilton Bishop and published in 1824.

During the above, or immediately after the above transactions, Mr. Rice experienced a set of soul exercises, which he supposed were in a great measure peculiar to himself. When he preached abroad or prayed in his family, his heart was more affected then usual. The truths of the gospel appeared to him to be valuable, important, and excellent, but as soon as he stepped from the pulpit or rose from his knees, his mind was overcome with its usual gloom, and filled with skeptical doubts. His prayers, though they seemed ardent, were on reflection considered by him to be only the lamentations of despondency.

These exercises continued alternately for a considerable time, and affected his natural temper, which though naturally not very irritable, became peevish and fretful. On a certain day he had preached some distance from home, but returning in the evening, found something amiss in his domestic concerns, and immediately felt his passion rising. This he was enabled to suppress by following a rule which had long adopted, viz. -- "To say nothing when angry." He considered anger as a species of madness, and a madman was in his opinion, unfit either to speak or act. "I therefore," says he, "withdrew to a solitary place, where, walking backwards and forwards, I did not disbelieve, but doubted the reality of my religion, and the religion of my fellow professors, the immortality of the soul., and a future state, nay, the truths of the scriptures and the very being of a God. I saw that such a creature as I was fit for nothing. It grieved me to think that I was the husband of a valuable woman -- the father of a rising family of promising children -- and the minister of three congregations. I felt a disposition to exclude myself from the human society, and hide in some cave among the mountains."

"Grace" by Eric Enstrom; courtesy of Wikipedia

But the Lord, who will not suffer any of his people to be tempted above what they are able to bear, did not allow him to be long thus oppressed. The first thing which struck his attention was a religious book, which he took up to divert his mind for the moment. One of the first sentences which presented itself was, "all we with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." This in some measure dissipated the darkness of his mind, and he felt revived. But reading on he came to these words -- "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." This filled his mind with sweet serenity, and banished every cloud and skeptical doubt. He at length laid down the book, and again retired to take another solitary walk. "But O," says he, "how different were my views and exercises from what I had experienced only a few minutes before. Some of the first views of the truths revealed in these texts were as the dawning of the day, and as I continued to view these glorious objects they grew brighter till full day overspread my horizon. Divine truth itself, had now more influence in convincing me of the truth of revelation than all the learned arguments taken from miracles, &tc. &tc. which I had ever read, ever produced. Though arguments of that kind have their use in their proper place, I trust these views had also a transforming influence on my mind so as to dispose me to devote myself to God more heartily, and more sweetly, and more entirely than I had ever done before, and I never felt a greater anxiety to spend and be spent for Christ in the work of the gospel ministry." See Ps. lxxiii.

From this time, for about three years, he enjoyed more of the comforts of religion than he had ever enjoyed before in the same length of time, and enjoyed almost constantly an unshaken confidence of obtaining eternal salvation through the free grace and mercy of God. There was, within sight of his own house, a little eminence, in a pleasant grove, through which was an agreeable walk; there he used to retire, especially on evenings, for the purpose of meditation, prayer and praise; "and there," says he, "I hope I enjoyed communion with God, even fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ."

Before this gracious visitation he was frequently conscious of much being wrong within. He was sensible that he had in a great measure backslidden in heart. This did not induce him to despair of ever being restored, but he concluded that if ever he was brought again to enjoy the light of God's countenance it would probably be after sore convictions. Great, consequently, was his astonishment, when he found himself so suddenly and so easily restored to the enjoyment of the light of God's countenance. God's ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts. See Is lvii. 16-18.

To be continued...

***
I am publishing a chapter of Rev. David Rice's memoirs every Monday.

_______________
Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my fifth great grandfather.

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Character of Some of the First Preachers in Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: State of Religion in Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: He Moves to Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: His Comfort and Success among the Peaks of Otter
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Scene of His First Labors
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Devotes of Himself to the Ministry
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Relief Obtained
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Further Convictions
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions 
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky

Monday, February 6, 2017

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Character of Some of the First Preachers in Kentucky

Continued from the Memoirs of Rev. David Rice:  State of Religion in Kentucky.

This is from Chapter X of the memoirs of Rev. David Rice, which were included in An Outline of the History of the Church in the State of Kentucky, During a Period of Forty Years by Robert Hamilton Bishop and published in 1824.

Of his first laborers in Kentucky Mr. Rice says, "They were men of some information, and held sound principles, but did not appear to possess much of the spirit of the gospel. Upon this my spirits sunk pretty low, verging on a deep melancholy." A melancholy prespect indeed a pious mind. Like priest, like people -- genuine piety scarcely discernible in either -- the spirit of the world animating all.

Not finding much of the power of religion among his own denomination, he began to look to other denominations to see if things were any better there. "The Baptists," says he, "were at this time pretty numerous, and were engaged in some disputes among themselves about some abstruse points, which I suspected neither party well understood. About the same time two Methodist preachers came to the country, who though they were rather passionate in their address, they seemed to be men of tender catholic spirits, and advocates for good morals. For some time their coming encouraged and revived me, in some degree, but as soon as they had gained a little footing in the country they began to preach what they called their principles, that is, those doctrines which distinguish them from other societies. This, so far as I could learn, produced its genuine effects -- a party spirit and alienation of affections among the people. This sunk me into my former melancholy. To me it appeared that all our religious societies, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc., etc. were in a fair way to destroy both the spirit and the practice of religion, and sink it into contempt. And as we are naturally inclined to look to means and instruments rather than to him from whom alone help must come, I was often ready to cry out passionately, O, for the Tennets, the Blairs, and the Davieses, to come and preach to us in Kentucky!"

About this time an old disciple, Mr. Gano, of the Baptist church, came from the state of New York. Mr. Rice had been formerly acquainted with his character, and was rejoiced at his arrival. He at length preached within about four miles of his house. "I hear him," says he, "with great avidity and satisfaction. He appeared to preach the gospel in its native simplicity, with honest intention to promote the glory of God and the good of men. He preached in the neighborhood a second and a third time, and still in the same spirit. To me he appeared as one of the ancient Puritans* risen from the dead.

REFLECTIONS

Even good men are sometimes mistaken as to the piety of those with whom they have intercourse. Considerable allowances are to be made for natural dispositions, for early habits, and for a change of the state of society. The apostles, Paul, Peter, and John, were equally pious and equally devoted to the service of their Master; yet they were of very different natural dispositions, and this diversity gave a character to all their ministrations.

The state of society in Kentucky was from 1784-85 remarkably different from the state of society to which Mr. Rice had been accustomed for ten or fifteen years among the Peaks of Otter. In Kentucky both preachers and people, even those of them who were pious, assumed a new character, from the fact of their having been thrown into a new situation. And some time was necessary for those who where of similar habits and similar tempers to form a profitable acquaintance.

But with all these and similar allowances it must be remembered that the want of regular ordinances, particularly the want of regular Sabbath sanctification, the being removed from under the eye of those under whose inspection we formed our religious character, and the being not actually under the influence of the government and discipline of the church; these facts, wherever they exist, have a most unhappy influence upon both preacher and people -- upon those who have made a profession of religion, and upon those who have never made any profession -- and these were likely the causes which produced the effects of which Mr. Rice complained.

*The term Puritan was first used as a term of reproach. It has however ceased to carry with it anything but respect and affection with all who have the least affection for evangelical truth. The Puritans were a set of pious men, and were a faithful propagators of the gospel as ever adorned the British nation. They were the first settlers of New England.

To be continued...

***
I am publishing a chapter of Rev. David Rice's memoirs every Monday.

_______________
Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my fifth great grandfather.

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: State of Religion in Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: He Moves to Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: His Comfort and Success among the Peaks of Otter
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Scene of His First Labors
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Devotes of Himself to the Ministry
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Relief Obtained
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Further Convictions
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions 
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky