THE phrase “filling an
appointment” is very closely associated with our itinerant plan of
supplying our people with the means of grace. The Homan Catholic holds
high or low mass. The English Church holds Divine service. The
Presbyterian holds a diet of worship. The Quaker has a meeting. But the
Methodist fills an appointment. These others do work mostly laid out for
them by the officials of the Churches to which they belong; but the
Methodist preacher has much to do with laying out his own work, and
making his own appointments.
It is true that he has a certain field to cultivate, a given territory
to work over; but how often he is to preach, and when and where he will
do so, are matters that very largely depend on his own decision.
In talking about filling appointments, two things have to be considered.
The Indian said that the first thing to be done in cooking a rabbit is
to catch it; so the first part of filling an appointment is to get to
it. In the past Methodist ministers have done most of their getting
around on horseback, or in the cutter and buggy. Perhaps no class of
honest men, are more attached to their horses, than are the Methodist
preachers, especially those of them who are kept for a long time on
country circuits. Often his horse is to him at once a piece of property,
a servant, a guide, a conveyance and a friend. It is no wonder that the
circuit rider becomes attached to his horse, while so much of his
comfort and usefulness depends on that mute assistant.
But I did not start to write an essay on horses. Filling appointments is
the theme of this chapter. Well, let me see, my first appointment was a
long time ago. It was in this wise: in the class that I first belonged
to, there were twenty-five or thirty young people. We arranged for a
weekly young people’s prayer meeting, to be led by the young men, each
in his turn. A list of names was made out, and we took our turn in the
order in which our names were on the list. My name was near the bottom,
so that I had a chance to see how most of the young men got along before
my time came.
Well do I remember when the leader at one meeting stated that my name
came next, so that I would be expected to lead the meeting of the
following week. That week seemed to pass away with a rapidity that was
trul}r astonishing. The days, it seemed to me, fiew by with more than
railroad speed. When the eventful day came round, I was, as an Irishman
would say, on swither. I was sorely tempted to go away somewhere, so as
to be out of the neighbourhood; but then, when I remembered how promptly
the other young men had taken their turn, I felt ashamed of myself for
having even thought of running away. I resolved to stay and do the best
that I could, no matter how hard the task might be. No sooner had I come
to this decision, than I felt my heart full of peace and joy. I look
back to that event, trivial as it may seem, as one of the turning points
in my life. If I had run away from my duty then, there is no telling
what my after life would have been. Before my turn came round again, a
new class-leader was needed, and I was appointed leader of the class,
which position I held until I left the settlement twelve years
How I Got Embarrassed.
My first appointment as an exhorter was in the house of a farmer named
Daniel Burkholder, who lived in the township of Caistor. It was the
first time that I went away from my own class to hold meeting; to me it
was an event of great importance. I had frequently been solicited by the
preachers to try holding forth as an exhorter; but up to that time I
declined to do so, fearing that I should only make a failure of it, but
I had at last consented, and the appointment had been made for me.
At that time there was an old exhorter by the name of Cable, who lived
on Mud Street, near Tapleytown. He was one of the old-fashioned shouting
Methodists; a regular little hurricane and thunderstorm twisted
together. Well, I got him to go with me to the appointment. It was a
beautiful Sabbath morning in the month of June.
When we were going through a piece of bush, Mr. Cable proposed that we
should have a prayer-meeting all to ourselves, as a preparation for the
work before us. We spent some ten minutes in this way, and then went on
to the place. When we got to Mr. Burkholder’s house, it was crowded with
people and a lot outside that could not get in. By dint of much elbowing
we got inside the door. I had once' taught school in that section, and
nearly all the people were there to hear their old schoolmaster.
I commenced the meeting by giving out the hymn, beginning with “Come,
sinners, to the gospel feast.” The singing was all that could be
desired. Who ever knew singing not to be good when there were half a
dozen Burkholders in the audience? But while they were singing a thought
came into my mind like this: “If any sinner expects a gospel feast this
morning, he will be greatly disappointed.” This nearly upset me. Brother
Cable engaged in prayer. 0, how I wished that I had his talent! But I
consoled myself with the thought that human responsibility and human
possibility are always equal. We are not expected to do what is beyond
our strength and ability. I read a part of a chapter and we sang another
hymn. Then came the supreme moment. When the last line was ringing in
my^ ears, like an expiring echo, I found myself standing alone, and all
the rest of the people seated. This has always been to me the trying
I commenced to talk to the people. But I got bewildered, so that I could
hardly tell what I was saying. This feeling increased till I got into
such a state of mental disturbance that I could scarcely distinguish one
person from another. Sometimes the faces of the people around me would
seem to be as big as barrel heads, and then they would dwindle down till
they looked no larger than the bottoms of tea-cups. In this way I went
on for ten or fifteen minutes. Then I called my friend Mr. Cable to take
the meeting off my hands. Just then I felt that I would never attempt
the like again. But I did try again and again. And I have kept on trying
till the present time. But I have never got over those times of
nervousness, and I never expect to.
Thrown into a Mud-hole.
The first year I was on the Garafraxa Circuit, there was an appointment
on the twelfth line, at the house of John Taylor. One Sunday afternoon I
was on my way there I met with a mishap that might have been a serious
affair; but the way it turned out was more amusing than sad. There was a
piece of woods to go through, and in the woods was a deep mud-hole. My
horse was one that would never go on a walk, either in harness or under
the saddle. He had run in a circus ring three or four years, which I
suppose was the reason of his objecting to walk.
Well, I was going through this piece of bush. My horse was trotting
along, and I was singing,
“Jesus, my all, to
Heaven is gone,
The way is so delightful. Hallelujah.”
All of a sudden my
horse got his feet tangled up in some way, and fell right into the
middle of the mud.
When I came to realize the condition of things, I found myself lying
just in front of the horse, and on my back, in the mire. My first
thought was, that when he got up he would likely jump on me before I
could get out of his way. But when he got up he turned on his hind feet
and went off on one side, and started into the woods as fast as he could
I gathered myself up as quick as I could and ran after the horse, which
was soon out of sight. While I was wondering where he would go to, I
looked in the direction he went and saw him coming towards me at the top
of his speed. When he saw me he ran up and placed his chin on my
shoulder—a thing he often did when in the field. He seemed to be pleased
to see me all right.
When I took a look at myself, I could not refrain from laughing at the
ludicrous figure that I presented. Such a specimen of clerical humanity,
clad in a mixture of mud and broadcloth, and booted with a combination
of black mud and leather, and hatted with an old-time beaver, in
alliance with an aqueous formation of decayed foliage, it would be
impossible to find in a part of the country where mud and leaves are
only found in limited supply.
I went along till I came to a creek. I tied the horse to a tree, and
waded into the water, and washed off all the mud that I could. Then I
went on, about a mile further, to the appointment. When I got there I
found the house full of people, waiting for me, as I was about half an
The way that they stared at me when I went into the house convinced me
that there was no use in trying to get them to listen to preaching
unless an explanation was first given. I told the audience what had
occurred and then went on with the service.
Hunting More Work.
Some time after I went to Garafraxa Circuit, Mr. John Taylor told me
that there was a new settlement in the township of Luther, where there
was no preaching of any kind. He offered to conduct me through about
three miles of solid bush, and show me some of the inhabitants. After we
got through to the first clearing, Mr. Taylor left me to make my own
I went to the shanty that stood near the road, and made some inquiries.
I found four or five women there, helping a neighbour at some kind of
sewing. Presently I told them who I was and what I wanted, and asked
them if they thought any one in the settlement would open his house for
preaching. The women said they would be very glad to have some kind of
religious meetings on Sabbath, as the people were getting wild for want
of it; but none of them had a house at all suitable. But they all agreed
that the best place to have meeting would be at “Sam Graham’s,” as he
had the largest house and it would be most central.
They directed me which way to go, and I started to hunt up Mr. Graham.
When I had gone about a mile further I came to his clearing, which was a
large one for a new country. I found him at work in the fields. I told
him who I was, and what I was after.
He said, “I am glad that you have come. Any one with a Protestant Bible
in his hand is welcome to my house for a preaching-place. I am a
Presbyterian, but that makes no difference in the ease.”
I made arrangements to preach in his house once every fortnight on
Sabbath. The first time I went there, I found the house full of about as
hardy-looking men and women as could be found anywhere. The most of them
were in the early prime of life. They were just the sort of population
to successfully cope with the hardships of pioneers.
When I looked over the congregation that morning, I saw three persons
that I knew. They had been among my young associates in days gone by.
Though eighteen years had passed since I last saw them, yet I knew them.
Our last time of seeing each other was at a dance. But now, after
eighteen eventful years, we meet again, in a back settlement, as
Christians, to worship God together. [If Mr. and Mrs. Beals and Air.
Boomer should ever see these lines, they will endorse the statements,
and I hope also excuse this personal reference to them.]
What a mercy that God, who forgives penitent, believing sinners, will
forgive dancers also—even though one of the light-heeled tribe, by her
artful gyrations, did once fascinate a wicked king and kick the head off
a holy man.
So far as was known, the sermon that Sabbath morning was the first one
ever delivered in the township. Now the centre of Grand Valley Circuit,
in the Guelph Conference, is not far from this place.
“A Crabbed Old Man.”
Myself and Pascal Knox and William Woodward were once going to a
missionary meeting at a place called Mayne, in the township of Wallace.
In going from the boundary across to the place, it being dark, we got on
the wrong road. We came to a shanty on the roadside. I went in to make
enquiries as to our whereabouts, and the proper direction to take.
I found an old couple living there alone. When I asked the way to Mayne,
the old man wanted to know what I was going there for—thinking that I
was a doctor. On my explaining that I was going there to a missionary
meeting, he said in angry tones of voice, “Are you not a Methody
preacher?” I said, “Yes, sir: there are three of us, and we have by some
means got out of our latitude.” “Well, I hope the Lord will head ye’s
off at every turn. I don’t like a thing about these kind o’ people,”
said the old man spitefully.
I said to him, “Mister, I did not come in to hear about the Methodists,
for I know a great deal more about them than you do,” and I turned to
go, telling him that we would try and find our way without his help.
The old lady followed me to the door, saying, “Do not mind him. He is
just a crabbed old creature, troubled with rheumatics, and he is so
cross that I can hardly live with him.”
She gave the desired information, and we went on and found the place,
and the house full of people waiting for us.
A Crabbed Old Man.
I commenced my speech that night in this way:—
Through mud and mire,
through rain and snow,
We never tire, but onward go,
And it seems somewhat funny
That we should come where people walk
A mile or two to hear us talk,
And ask them for their money.
Getting in the Fog.
Whether other men have what may be called pet appointments, I am not
able to say, but for myself I can speak without any doubt on that point.
On nearly all the circuits that I have travelled, there were one or two
places where I could speak with greater freedom and ease than I could at
the other appointments. My favourite appointment when I was on the Elma
mission was at Trowbridge. I always had a good congregation there, and
most of them were religious people. I was preaching there one Sunday
afternoon ; the house was crowded. I had my subject well arranged, as I
thought, and it was one that I had spoken on before, so that I should
have gone through it without difficulty. When I had been talking ten or
twelve minutes I seemed to get confused, and to lose the run of my
subject. I could not make out what was the matter. The sweat stood in
great drops on my face, and I trembled in every joint.
I looked around on the congregation. One good old brother was resting
his elbow on his knee, and his chin on his hand. I thought to myself,
that man feels so bad at the mess that I am making of my sermon that he
is ashamed to look up. On the other side was a young man with a smile on
his face. It seemed to me that he was making fun of me. In front of me I
saw tears on the face of an old mother in the church. Something said to
me, “She feels so badly for you that she is crying.” I stopped short.
Then I said to the audience, “Friends, I am lost in a fog, and it is no
use for me to try to conceal it; you know it as well as I do. Will you
pray for me?” I finished up I do not know how. Then I left without
speaking to a person in the house.
At the evening service I got along some better. But the cloud was not
Next morning, on my way home, I had to pass through Trowbridge. While
doing so I met the school teacher, Mr. B. Roth well. lie said to me,
“Mr. Hilts, what was the matter with you yesterday?” I said “I cannot
tell, but I never was in a greater muddle in my life.” “Well,” said Mr.
Roth well, “I think you were the only one in the house that thought you
were muddled. I was paying very particular attention, and I was just
thinking how nicely you had your subject arranged, and how well you were
getting on with it, when you stopped and said you were in the fog.” I
have never been able to account for that experience on any rational
Too Many Fishes.
The late Rev. John Lynch was a North of Ireland man. He was fond of a
joke, and sometimes he would indulge this propensity at the risk of a
successful retort. At a camp-meeting near the village of Hanover,
Brother Lynch was preaching one morning with great earnestness, and with
considerable eloquence. He spoke of the mighty forces of nature. Among
other illustrations, he referred to the Niagara river, where “it stands
on end,” and where by the weight of gravitation it has pressed the solid
rock, down, down, lower, and lower, until it has become the bottom of an
immense basin, into which whole cities might be throw7n, and still leave
room enough for half a dozen smaller towns. Bajt he condensed all these
grand hyperboles into one short sentence. He told his hearers about the
“tremendous chasm that the waters had washed out.”
In the afternoon it was my lot to preach about the “loaves and fishes.”
By some slip of the tongue, once in the discourse I got three fishes
instead of two. That was too good for Lynch to let pass. He had a chance
now at the “presiding elder.” I was walking past where he and some
others were standing when he called me. He said, “See here, Hilts, where
did you catch that third fish that you gave us awhile ago?” I said, “O,
I caught that where Andrew’s lad dropped it out of his basket while he
was trying to cross that tre-mcn-ge-ous ka-sum that you dug out this
morning.” After a hearty laugh, Brother Lynch said, “Well, that is not
so bad for a Dutchman. I guess we are about even now, so we will let the
fish go back into the ka-sum.”
A Bear in the Way.
When I was on the
Teeswater mission I travelled on foot. There were three reasons for
this: first, I had no horse ; secondly, I could not get to all of the
work with a horse ; thirdly, it would have been very hard to get feed
for a horse. So for a year and a half I went to all my appointments on
foot. One Sabbath I was going from Parr’s schoolhouse in Culross, to
John Crowsten’s shanty in Kinloss.
There was a piece of solid bush for two miles of the distance. The road
was under-brushed through the bush, but it was not cleared out. When I
got part way through I passed a little boy. A little further on a big
black bear walked out into the road, and took his stand right in front
of me, and only a rod from where I stood. He faced me to all appearance
with as little concern as a dog or pig would have done.
The boy came up, and with a scream put his arms around me and cried out,
“O, save me from the bear.” I had not so much as a pocket knife with me.
I saw at once the situation of things. I believed that I could get out
of his way, but the boy could not do so. My resolve was taken in less
time than it takes me to write it. I had read in books, and L had heard
hunters say, that no animal can stand the human eye. I resolved to test
this theory. I had no trouble to catch his eye, and I looked sternly
into it, with all the determination and will force that I was capable of
showing. For a while, perhaps five minutes, it was not possible to say
which seemed least concerned, the bear or myself. But after some time I
saw that his eye began to quiver. I said to myself, “I have got him.” In
a few minutes he turned and walked off out of sight.
Twenty years after this I was stopping over night in the neighbourhood.
My host invited me to accompany him to a public meeting, to be held in
the interest of the Bible Society. When we came to the church, which
stood at a cross-road where four splendid farms joined corners, I was
struck with the familiar aspect of the place. It seemed to me that I had
been there before. The lay of the land, just at the foot of a little
hill, seemed to associate itself with my past life in a way that I could
not understand at first; but when I ascertained what line of road it was
on, everything was made clear. The church stood less than six rods from
the spot where I had met the bear in the woods twenty years ago. I
mentioned the circumstance in a few remarks that I was called upon to
make. After the meeting closed a man came up to me and said, “ I have
often heard that boy tell about the bear and the man that looked it out
of countenance, but we never knew who it was. That boy is a man now, but
he don’t live here.”
Trying to Walk a Pole.
Near the little village of Kady, in the township of Sullivan, there is,
or was, a small log church, in which I preached once every two weeks
when I was on the Invermay mission. At that time the road, for a part of
the way, was across lots and through the farms of two or three settlers.
In the spring of the year it was hard getting through with a horse; at
such times I went on foot. One Sabbath morning I was on my way to that
appointment. The snow was just going off, and every low place was filled
up with mud and water. I came to where a couple of small poles had been
thrown over a deep mud-hole, as a sort of footbridge. In passing over,
one of the poles turned, so that I fell my whole length in the mud and
water. When I gathered myself up I was in anything but a presentable
condition. I went and rolled for a while in the remains of a snow-drift,
and in that way I got off the thickest of the mud; then I went on to the
church. When I got to the door there were a number of men standing
there. One of them said to me, “Look here, mister, if I should come to
this crowd looking as you do, every one of them would say, ‘Bill Innis
had been taking too much tangle-leg.’ What shall we say about you?”
“Well,” I answered him, “you may say what you like about me, if you will
only fix that mud-hole before I have to come again.”
Losing the Definition.
I cannot say whether other men ever lose or forget any part of what they
want to say in preaching, but I have sometimes done so. This has
occurred mostly when I was very much absorbed by my theme. At such times
the mind is apt to give its attention more to the results than to the
details of the subject.
I was once preaching in the village of Mapleton (now Listowel). My theme
was the cities of refuge among the Jews. In speaking of them as being
typical of Christ, I referred to their significant names as illustrative
of His character and offices. I had depended entirely on the memory for
the names and definitions. When I came to this part of my discourse I
found that I had entirely forgotten one of the definitions. I mentioned
the name of the city’, and then said to the congregation: “My friends, I
confess that the meaning of this name has entirely escaped my memory,
and I am sorry to say that I cannot recall it.” But help came from an
unexpected quarter. Mr. Hacking, who is now an old man, was in the
congregation that day. When I mentioned the difficulty I was in, he
promptly came to the rescue by calling out the word that was needed to
fill up what would otherwise have been a breach in my sermon. I thanked
Mr. Hacking, and went on with the discourse. I have no doubt but this
little episode caused the people to give more attention to the subject,
and to take more interest in it than they otherwise would have done.
What made the occurance more noticeable was the fact that my friend was
not much of a believer in orthodox teaching; but as he was a man of some
culture, and of a good deal of kindness of heart, he was willing to help
even a Methodist preacher when he was in a quandary.
He Did Not Know What to Do.
The first time I went over to Teeswater mission I had some difficulty in
finding the way from one appointment to another.
The country was new. There were very few open roads, and the clearings
all being small, there was a great deal of bush to go through, with no
better highway than a footpath. One of my rounds was in the following
order:—Parr’s schoolhouse in the morning; John Crowsten’s shanty at two
p.m.; at Mr. Hood’s house in the evening. This was our Sabbath’s work,
Then on Monday, at one o’clock p.m., I preached in Mr. Joseph Hanna’s
shanty. This was about five miles, from Hood’s, and there was only one
clearing in the whole distance. There a man by the name of Corigan
The first time that I
went from Hood’s to Hanna’s I was directed as far as Corigan’s. There I
was to inquire the way to where I wished to go. When I came to his place
I met him in front of his house. After learning who he was, I told him
that I had been sent to him for direction to the house of Mr. Hanna. He
gave me a sort of a comical look, and then said, “I know Mr. Hanna, and
I know the way to his place.”
“Mr. Hood told me that you could give me full directions,” I answered.
“Yes, I could tell you all about it. But, you know, can and will are not
always equal terms,” said he, giving me a look that I did not
“Well, sir,” I said to him, “I cannot see why there should be any
difference between can and will in this case,”
“I think there is a good deal of difference,” said he.
“Well, if you do not tell me, I shall go back to Hood’s for further
instructions,” was my reply.
He gave me another look, and with a smile on his face, he said, “ Of
course, you are a constable.”
“O, no, sir; I am not a constable, nor any other law officer. I am only
a preacher, going to Mr. Hanna’s to fill an appointment in his house.”
“Well, all right. That changes the whole affair. I understand that Mr.
Hanna has been having trouble about a 3'oke of cattle that he got a
while ago, and I thought that you were a constable going to annoy him,
and if that had been the case, you would have got no directions from
me,” was his answer.
“I am glad to find that your hesitancy was caused by groundless fears.
Now for the directions, if you please,” I said, with as much gravity as
I could command.
He gave me such clear and definite instructions that 1 found the place
without any difficulty.
Finding a Relative.
The village of Rockwood is on the main line of the Grand Trunk Railway,
about five miles east of the city of Guelph. There was an appointment or
preaching place there, in connection with the Framosa Circuit.
To that place I once went with Rev. J. F. Durkee, to preach for him.
Most of the audience were entire strangers to me. In looking over the
crowd, as I sat in the pulpit, I saw a face that had a strangely
familiar look. It was that of a woman, whose hair was turning gray, and
who had some of the marks of age upon her face. Departed 3’ears had left
some of their traces upon her features. Rut while I felt certain that I
had seen that face before, and that at some time I had been acquainted
with its owner, I could not make out where or when it was. It was
evident to me that the woman had some idea that she knew who I was. I
could tell that by the inquiring look that she would every now and then
After a while she turned her head so that I got a side view of her face.
As soon as I saw her thus I recollected who she was like. I said to
myself, “If Alvira McCombs is in this world, that woman is she.” This
was a daughter of my mother’s sister, whom I had not seen since she was
fifteen years old, and that was more than thirty years before.
I stopped in church for class-meeting. When I went out of the door, I
found three persons waiting for me to come out. There were Miss McCombs,
of former years, now Mrs. Balls, her husband and her daughter. She
reached her hand to me, saying, “I came here to listen to a stranger,
but when I heard the name of the preacher after I came out of the
church, I concluded that we are not only old acquaintances of former
years, but we are also relatives. Do you remember your cousin Alvira?”
I said: “Yes, I remember her; and when I looked at you in the church, I
concluded that no person could look as much like her as you do and not
be either herself or her sister.”
“Well,” said she, “I am herself, and I am glad to meet you after so many
“But can it be,” said I, “that the romping, rattle headed little Alvira
has become the motherly-looking woman before me?” But it was so.
Thirty-three years make great changes in people, especially when those
years span the gap between fifteen and forty-eight. The colour and
expression of the eyes, and the outlines of the features, remain the
same ; but when one looks for the full, round and ruddy face of fifteen
in the wrinkled and careworn features of forty-eight, it is not an easy
matter to settle the question of identity.
Meeting an Old Acquaintance.
At one time I had a week-night appointment in the house of William
Armstrong, on the boundary line between the townships of Maryborough and
Mornington. The meetings were held on Monday evenings.
One evening after I had elosed the service, an elderly man came up to
me, and reaching out his hand said, “How are you, old friend? I am glad
to meet you again after all the years that have passed since we last
I looked at him for a moment and then said to him, “I have no doubt but
you know who you are talking to, but really I do not know who is talking
“You have forgotten me, that is all. You and I were great friends at one
time. Ho you remember Aleck Walker, that once stopped at Thomas
Crozier’s, near Ballinafad,” he said.
“I remember Aleck Walker, but he was smaller than I was,” I said to him.
“Yes, that is true, but I have grown since then,” was his answer.
“I knew you more from your resemblance of your father than from a
remembrance of your own looks. You are as much like what your father was
when I saw him last as any two persons can be alike.”
I went home with my former friend, and found him to be the possessor of
a splendid two hundred acre farm, an excellent wife, and a number of
children mostly full grown.
Next morning he invited me out to look around the place. After showing
me the barn and out-buildings, he took me through a number of beautiful
fields. Presently he said, “All that I have I owe to God and to
Methodism. After I knew you, I got to drinking, and went very far down
in the path of the drunkard; but I came in contact with Methodism, I got
converted, and for many years the Lord has greatly blessed me.” Then,
turning to me, he said, “How is it that you are travelling the mission
“Simply because I could not use a horse on my last mission, and I sold
it. When I came off the mission, the price of the horse was gone for
something to feed and clothe my family, so that at present I have
nothing to buy a horse with,” I answered. We went into another field
where there were a number of horses pasturing. Mr. Walker pointed to a
horse and said, “ There is an animal that would suit your work; my price
for him is eighty dollars. I will give five dollars toward buying him
for you; pay me the other seventy-five dollars when you can.”
“Well, my friend,” I said, “a horse is what I need very much, but I am
afraid that I cannot accept your offer so kindly given.” “Why not?” said
he. “You will want an endorser, and I do not like to ask any man to go
on paper with me, if I can help it,” I replied. He said, “No, I want no
endorser; if the cloth of a Methodist minister is not worth as much as a
horse, I should be very sorry to be a Methodist.” I took the horse home
with me, and he was a good one. The Quarterly Board undertook to pay for
the horse, and they did so with the exception of about twenty dollars.
One man, a Doctor Pattison, gave twenty-five dollars towards the amount;
the horse was all paid for within six months after I got him. I might
fill many pages in relating incidents in connection with filling
appointments; but enough on that subject has been written.
Before closing this chapter I wish to speak of an unfilled appointment,
or a disappointed congregation. We will suppose the place of meeting to
be a country church; the time, “ten-thirty” on Sabbath morning, in the
month of November; the roads about as bad as November roads usually are;
the weather as “leaky” as November weather can well be. The congregation
is made up of farmers and their families, who have come with teams;
besides these, there are a few “city folks,” who have came out to spend
the Sabbath with some of their country cousins. Now the hands of the
church clock point to thirty minutes past ten.
Brother John Smith, not Smithe, goes to the door, and looks in the
direction the preacher is to come from, but though he can see a mile up
the road, he sees no one coming that looks like a preacher. With a
disappointed look, he goes and whispers something to Brother Brown. Then
Brother B. announces his intention to help the congregation sing the
‘‘When I can read my title clear,” etc.
When this is done, another interval of a few minutes is followed by
Brother Jones leading off with,
“How tedious and tasteless the hours,” etc.
By this time the clock strikes eleven. Another visit of investigation to
the door, but without results. Some of the clouds now seem to come
inside and fix themselves on the faces of some in the audience. Brother
Smith s face, for instance, is growing particularly sombre. At this
point old Brother Simkins sings, with a tone of sadness in his voice:
“O, land of rest, for
thee I sigh,
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armour by,
And dwell in peace at home?”
Now the clock points to
11.30, good measure. Just as the old class-leader is about to move the
adjournment of the meeting, a young sister over near the front window
commences to sing “The Sweet By and Bye.” This is taken up by the
younger part of the audience. While the echoes of the last verse of this
beautiful composition are still rolling along the ceiling, an old lady,
of Quaker proclivities, gets up and walks toward the door, muttering to
herself, as she supposes, something about young girls being in a great
hurry to get into the “Sweet By and Bye.” This is the signal for a
general church-emptying. After which the people go quietly home to