Friday, January 11, 2008

Elder Samuel Murray - Part 2

As noted yesterday Samuel Murray was a Brethren minister who moved to Indiana in 1851 at the age of 45. We are fortunate that a portion of his autobiography was quoted and preserved in the 1917 edition of History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana by Otho Winger.

We learned yesterday that Murray had seven different preaching points within a 30-square-mile territory. Today we discover how difficult traveling could be for ministers in those days.

... I often had my hat brushed off of my head and nearly filled with snow. Of course I had to get off in the snow to get it, then get on my horse and go on, thanking the Lord it was no worse. I well remember one Sunday morning I started for an appointment some eight miles distant. I soon got to a large pond with a thin plate of ice on it. I knew it was not safe to venture in with a horse, so I had to go around through the woods; did not go far till I had my hat brushed off again. Of course I got off and got it again. The brush was full of snow. I often had to put my head down as far as I could and hold my hat with one hand; in this condition I crossed my path, a deep snow being on the ground, and the sky full of dark clouds. I got lost and could not tell where I was.

I kept straight on and finally came to a very high fence around a small field. I noticed a cabin on the other side of the field; I got off in the snow, laid down the fence, got the horse over, then put it up; got on my horse and rode across the field, then had another fence to lay down and put up. I got on my horse and rode up to the cabin and called. The wife came to the door. I said, "
Can you tell me the road to the Baptist meetinghouse?" She said, "Back there." I looked around. I then discovered I had not got very far from home.

... I then soon struck through the woods, hoping to strike my path, and did. I took my path again and finally got to a creek which I had to cross. It was so high I could not possibly ford it. I went down the creek to the first house and found the mother of the family at home. I asked where the men were and she said, "They are over at the churchhouse." I asked how they got over. She said there was a high foot-log; if I thought I could walk it. I could put my horse in the stable and go over. I did so, and when I got over I found the house pretty well filled with attentive hearers.

Today we would likely have just called and cancelled worship services for the day. But in 1851 there was no instant communication and we give thanks for the commitment of men like Samuel Murray who traveled on poorly marked paths in all sorts of weather to preach the Gospel to a church house filled with attentive listeners. Give thanks, even today, for those who go beyond the call of duty for Christ and the Church.