His life was a contribution to his fellow men. Like many of the ministers of his day, he sincerely felt that the minister should take nothing for his labors. The story is told that he went once to a Midwestern state to conduct an evangelistic meeting. After a few nights of preaching, one of the men who had been attending the services came to him and said:
"Don t you take any offerings?"
"No," said Elder Long. "The gospel is free."
"I pay for my tobacco and my liquor and I am ready to pay for my preaching. Take this money," the man replied. This was the only remuneration received for either his expenses or his services on that trip.
One writer of that far-off day said of him: "In his connection with the church, Bishop Long was an acknowledged leader in this state and was one of the strongest pillars of the church organization. For many years he represented his people at the annual conferences of the church, and he exerted a deep influence upon the church throughout the country. He has gone to Pennsylvania and the Western states as a delegate in his church so often that he became one of the most widely known men of his day in the church. He indelibly impressed his earnest convictions upon the ministry and the laity and defended the tenets and customs of the church in a forcible manner which has done much to preserve and identify the Dunkard church throughout the country, which is a strong and vigorous denomination."
Professor J. M. Henry, of Bridgewater, Virginia, wrote of Elder Long: "His ministry had great influence. He preached at many mission points, served on important committees of Annual Meeting, conducted many funerals, performed more marriage ceremonies than any [other] man of his community, lived an active, busy life in his own congregation. He was a man of dominant personality, commanding in appearance, and very serious minded.
"His work has been evaluated both critically and appreciatively. He was austere in church discipline, but kind hearted in disposition. He made some enemies by his straightforwardness but won a host of friends by his piety. His uncompromising attitude during the declining years of his ministry crippled his usefulness, yet friend and foe believed in his sincerity."
When the Annual Conference of 1880 was held in Hagerstown, Elder Long had charge of the arrangements. He showed remarkable ability and a mastery of details which won for him the praise of many and contributed largely to the success of the Conference.
Living on the border between the free and the slave states, he nevertheless made his position on slavery clear to all. One day in attending a slave auction he bought all the slaves and set them free. In his attitude toward slavery he reflected accurately the position of the Brethren. The methods of John Brown and the methods of the Brethren, all aimed at the same end, were entirely opposites. In the war that came about in part because of slavery the Brethren were loyal to their government but opposed war as a means of achieving righteous goals.
Denied the education he craved for himself, David Long aided his children in every way possible to secure educations. One son, D. Milton, was known as a "bookworm" and liked nothing better than "having his nose in a book." In this tendency he was encouraged by his father.
A privately owned and conducted school had been opened in Hagerstown in 1878 by Thomas and Rebecca Cochran. Having a small patronage and in time being offered for sale, it was purchased by David Long and his son Melvin for twenty-nine hundred dollars. Melvin Long became the principal of the school, which was renamed Linden Seminary. The highest enrollment during the period of operation being only seventy-four students, the seminary was discontinued after a number of years.
But the relentless press of time sweeps all before it, and on January 23, 1897, Maryland s well-known Civil War preacher went to be with his fathers. Had he lived until Friday of the next week he would have attained the age of seventy-seven. He was active and vigorous until within a few days of his passing, when he became ill with pneumonia contracted while trying to reach one of his preaching appointments during very adverse weather. His wife, widely and affectionately known as Aunt Mary Long, had died about eight years earlier.
The oak grove surrounding the church where David Long preached that September morning in 1862 was plowed and scarred by cannon shot and is now gone. The old rail fences along the Hagerstown Pike are no longer there. The old church is gone, with nothing remaining but the hilltop and the foundation. Other buildings have been erected where the Mumma farm buildings were burned. The soil enriched by the blood of the nation’s young men produces in abundance. The sunken road, now Bloody Lane, is viewed casually by the rapidly passing traveler. The sun which once glistened upon flashing arms now glistens upon countless monuments erected to the memory of the men who wore the blue and the gray of a century ago. The fields which echoed to the feet of marching men and galloping horses are now echoing to the exhausts of farm tractors. The hills which once gave back the echo of the cannons roar and the sharp crack of the rifles now give forth the sounds of industry and peace.
Elder David Long, veteran and effective preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was understood by the Brethren, is likewise gone. But the principles and the spiritual undergirding of life for which he stood are as virile and as timely as ever and will so remain, for the truth of God
Source: Sidelights on Brethren History, Freeman Ankrum
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