seen how they fooled Jake when Massy first brought him from
Old Virginia to help me herd cattle. Jake and me was herd-
in' cattle on the prairie and he wanted a drink and said, *I
will run over to that lake and get a drink.' I told him there
was no water in it, but he declared he saw it with his own
eyes; then he galloped over there and found nothing at allj
then he seed it in an another place and he run over there, but
it was gone. He then seed it over on the Bernard, and it was
not there, and he came runnin' back scared, and said ^I do
believe dis country is hanted, and I am going to beg Massv
to carry me back to Old Virginy."
I give this experience of Jake and myself to show what
a complete optical illusion the Mirage is. When I reached
Wharton, I told my dear old friend and brother. Governor
Horton, of my experience, and found that his was very similar
It is worth a trip to the coast country, especially the Ber-
nard Valley, to see the Mirage of Texas.
But as God created everything for some purpose, for what
purpose was the Mirage created ? I think it may be to teach
all men, especially the young, to beware of things that look so
beautiful in the future, but when approached they vanish into
Oh, how many young people, like Jake, waste their livei
in chasing phantoms of wealth, political fame, social favor
and the other modern mirages, when they should only seek
what they know to be real and abiding.
AN" EARLY TEXAS MISSIONARY ^MONG THE
I will give in this article, a =;prious adventure I had
among the wolves one night in 1849. I was then pastor at
Houston and was to preach the introductory sermon before the
Union Baptist Association that met at Huntsville, seventy-
598 The Life a^d Writings of
five miles from Houston. I left on Wednesday morning and
rode on horseback thirty-five miles. I spent the fu'st night
with Mr. Arnold, a highly intelligent, wealthy Methodist
brother. The next day I had forty miles to travel, and at the
breakfast table, Brother Arnold said to his good wife, "Mrs.
Arnold, there is not a single house between Montgomery and
Huntsville, a distance of twenty-five miles, and Brother Burle-
son will get no dinner unless you put him up a lunch, and I
see he is fond of mutton." And the good lady put me up a
"Benjamin's portion" of the good fat mutton on the breakfast
After riding fifteen miles I reached Montgomery county.
I learned a Baptist lady had recently settled there, and in those
days. Baptists being so scarce, only 1,900 in Texas, when the
missionaries heard of a Baptist in a destitute town they always
"rounded him up," as stock men say of stock on the range.
So I called to see this Baptist lady and was delighted to find
her an elegant Christian lady from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the
wife of Colonel Aaron Shannon, a wealthy farmer, and also a
devoted friend of Dr. Basil Manly, president of the Alabama
University. She was rejoiced to see a Baptist preacher, and
was longing to have regular preaching and a church organized
in Montgomery. She had a large family of intelligent chil-
dren; the eldest daughter was grown, thoroughly educated and
performed well on the piano. Very soon she ^aid, "Brother
Burleson, there is another Baptist lady, Mrs. Dr. Arnold, just
settled in Montgomery from Providence, Rhode Island, and
she is so anxious to see a Baptist preacher, I will send over
for her and she will come and we will all be together." I
said, "I would rejoice to see the lady, but mu?t get to Hunts-
ville to-night, and it is twenty -five miles distant, and I have
been told that I must get through the Big Thicket and San
Jacinto bottom before dark, or I will be "swamped."' Soon
the lady came and T found her to be a Baptist of great piety
and intelligence. Sin- know my dear old president, Dr. R. E.
Pattison, when he was pastor at Pro^adence, Rhode Island,
and of course loved him ardently, as all Christians did. He
was my beloved president while a student of the Western
Baptist Theological Institute at Covington, Kentucky She
also knew and ostfTMiiod liiohlv mv old T^rofe.^^or Dr. Ezokial
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 590
J. Robinson, associated with Dr. Pattison in the Theological
Seminary. She was delighted to meet one far away in Texas,
who knew these great good men. And Mrs. Shannon was
equally delighted to find that I knew so well her favorite Dr.
Manly. We were all delighted to talk over the noble Christian
excellency of those we had loved so well in former days. But
while we talked, time flew, and I reminded tiie ladies that I
had twenty-five miles to ride that evening, and had been told
that I must get through the Big Thicket and San Jacinto bot-
tom before dark or I would be "swamped." But they said. Oh,
you must stay till after dinner, it is such a treat to meet a
Baptist preacher, especially one who knows so intimately Drs.
Manly, Pattison and Robinson.
The young lady added additional attractions by some
beautiful songs and music on the piano, that had charmed
me in my college days. And though I knew I ought to be
going, I was persuaded to stay till after dinner, for which I
was sorry to see they were making very special preparation.
And after the dinner, the young lady, waving her beautiful
curls, said, "Mr. Burleson, I want you to explain some things
in the Bible, about fore-knowledge and pre-destination,
also some passages in Romans and Revelation. I knew I was
doing wrong to stay any longer, but as I had never at that time
seen Mrs. Burleson, the waving curls, bright eyes and soft
voice prevailed. After answering as best I could, these deep
and profound questions on theology, and as 1 was hurrying
away, the ladies kindly said, "Brother Burleson, if you will
take a nigh cut through the Big Thicket, you can save six
miles; the people on horseback often take that nigh cut, rather
than go the wagon road which is six miles further." I gladly
accepted the suggestion "to take the nigh cut." Fra- two
miles through the prairie, and three miles through the timber,
it was a plain, well traveled road, being used for hauling
timber, but beyond that point the road was blockaded by
immense pine logs, blown down by a fearfnl tornado that
swept over that country a few years before and caused the road
to be abandonded.
This fact the ladies had forgotten or perchance lia(^; never
known. But uncler whip and spur I forced my horse to leap
over those immense pine logs, across the dim i-'iarl.
600 The Life axd Weitings of
Sometimes the logs were too large to leap over and I
had to force my horse through briers and thorns, and tore my
Sunday pants. But I made all the speed possible, eager to
get through San Jacinto and out of the Big Thicket before
But, alas, "the way of transgression is always hard," and
before I reached San Jacinto bottom, having been so delayed
in leaping over immense logs and forcing my way through
thorns and briers, it was dark, so dark I could not see the road,
and my poor horse, tired and sweating, either could not or
would not keep the path and I soon found I was out of the road
and tangled up amid thick brush and vines. But I felt my way
back into the dim track, only to find very soon that I was
again out among thick bushes. I said to myself, "if I vrander
away from the road in this dense thicket, I may not be able
to find my way back at all, so I will stop and rest till the moon
rises, which I knew" would be about 11 o'clock that night.
I sat by a large Sycamore tree and reflected on allowing
dear, good ladies to persuade me to do that which I knew I
ought not to do, and then to tell me to take a "nigh cut." I
remembered with sadness how often I had learned in child-
hood and boyhood the evils of doing wrong, ^nd then taking
a "nigh cut."
But while I was reflecting on the folly and evil of taking
a "nigh cut," I heard the terrible howl of a wolf. I said ^that
is lonely.' But it was lonely not long, for soon another howled,
and then another, and it seemed to me there Avere at least
fifty joining in the fearful howling. But there may not have
been more than a dozen, as it is a well known fact that one
wolf, either in religion or politics, will make more ixoise than
a dozen honest curs. And their howling was more hideous to
me because they were coming nearer and nearer, no doubt
smelling the ample supply of mutton which good Sister
Arnold had put up for my dinner.
I remembered that Daniel in the lion's den, r.nd Paul,
when he fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, i)rayed. And I
followed their example. And, kneeling down, I prayed for
God's protection against the wild beasts of that dark forest
and promised Him solemnly that I would never again be
guilty of the folly of letting ladies, young or old, or preachers,
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 601
or any living being, persuade me to do wrong and then take
a "nigh cut."
But while I was thus praying I heard a wolf coming
through the thick cane-breaks near the road.
I then remembered the Bible said, "Watch as well as
pray." I knew also that men and devils and wild beasts were
afraid of a brave man, so I resolved to be brave.
I also remembered that it had been said that music would
even charm wild beasts, so I concluded I would sing, and I
sang with a loud voice my favorite songs :
"How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord is laid for your faitli
in His excellent word."
'Tis religion that can give sweetest pleasures while we live, 'tis
religion must supply solid comfort when we die."
I thought at one time that I would climb the Sycamore,
but remembered that in the dense forest I migJit have to
remain up in that Sycamore much longer than Zaccheus did,
and besides I felt it would be cruel to leave my horse that
had been guilty of no wrong, to be devoured by the wolves.
I also thought that I would give them the mutton that
my good sister put up for my lunch, but I knew that the
mutton would not be even a taste for all of them, and they
might conclude to make out their supper on goat meat, in
which case the erring Texas missionary would fare badly.
So I continued to pray, and watch and sing, but when I
came to that verse, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for
repose, that soul though all hell should endeavor to shake, I
will never, no never forsake."
I could but feel that dark night in the San Jacinto bot-
tom, among the Texas wolves, that my foundation was a little
shaky. But I continued praying, watching, and singing till
11 o'clock, when the moon rose clear and cloudless.
Being able to see the dim path-way, I thought T would
put whip to my horse and make good speed; but then I re-
membered the value of courage and I rode quietly along
singing loud, "How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord."
After traveling some distance through this dense bottom,
I came to San Jacinto river, made ever glorious by the deliver-
ance of Texas from the bondage of Mexico at the battle of
602 The Life axd Writings of
San Jacinto in 1836, and that night, memorable by my de-
Soon I saw the dim light of a dwelling and soon heard
the barking of dogs, which was sweet music compared to the
howling of the wolves. I rode up to the gate and called "hel-
lo," there was no reply but the loud barking of the dogs.
I cried "hello" again. I then heard a low solemn voice of an
old man exclaiming, "Oh, Lord, have mercy, Oh, Lord have
mercy." I called again, but only heard that solemn response.
Oh, Lord ! I said, 'is it possible that Indians and robbers have
murdered everybody else and left only one old man !
I got off my horse, and fighting my ws'.y through the
barking dogs, I went to the open door, and there was a ven-
erable old man, nearly eighty years old, kneeling down with
a large family of children and grandchildren, kneeling
around him. As soon as he said Amen, two of his sons
arose, and coming to the door said, "Please excuse us, we
make it the rule of our lives, never to interrupt father'? pray-
ers, and he was deaf and did not hear you, and we could not
interrupt his prayer."
I soon found it was that grand old pioneer and pillar in
the Methodist church â€” EADbertson, whom I had met and
known so favorably during the glorious revival at Huntsville
He with his family had returned from a Methodist meet-
ing at the Methodist church, near his house, ^nd it had been
his custom for forty years never to omit family prayer, and
though it was nearly 12 o'clock, they were thus engaged.
They gave me a joyful reception and expressed profound
sympathy for my terrible ordeal amid the wolves and dense
forest of Big Thicket and the San Jacinto bottom.
The lesson I learned that night I have i-?iriemberod dis-
tinctly for fifty years and have often used it in my lectures
to the young in Sabbath schools and chapel services; to beware
of taking "nigh cuts," and especially of letting anybody on
earth, male or female, saint or sinner, persuade you to do
wrong, and then tell you to take a "nigh cut."
And I beg the readers, especially the young, to beware
of takincT n ni
DR. BURLESON AS A PREACHER.
WITH SELECTED SERMONS.
Dr. RuFiTS C. Burleson. 607
DR. BURLESON AS A PREACHER,
WITH SELECTED SERMONS.
BURLESOI^ AS A PEEACHER.
By W. B. Denson.
That some men are called by God to preach his gospel
there can be no question; that he places his stamp in their
forehead and His sig-net ring upon their fingers there can be
no doubt. When He calls them to proclaim His message to
a lost world, it would seem there could be no mistake as to the
The presence, the power, the approval, the sustaining
force of God, move some preachers forward to such crowning
success that we see God's hand in it all. Dr. Rufus C.
Burleson was one of these.
Until he was nineteen years of age, Dr. Burleson had a
consuming ambition to become a distinguished lawyer and
His youthful spirit heard down the years the applause of
admiring Senates and the huzzahs of the multitude as they
cheered his successes.
But on one occasion, when he heard the ministry of his
own and his father's church berated for their ignorance, God
moved him to pledge his splendid talents to the uplifting of
the ministry of the Baptist Church and to the saving of lost
men. How sacredly he kept that pledge men and angels can
witness to-day. The hundreds of young ministers whom he
educated free of charge at Baylor University, and who to-day
608 The Life axd Writings of
stand as a mighty phalanx for God on the watch towers of
Zion, many with thorough classical education, are monuments
more enduring than marble to his wonderful life work.
As a minister of the gospel he came to Texas. He relates
that after landing in Galveston he wandered down to the sea
beach, and while he watched the waves breaking upon the
shore, and heard the murmuring of many voices telling of the
romantic chivalry of the young Republic, which had just put
on her statehood, he knelt down upon that beach, and as John
Knox prayed to God, "Give me Scotland or I die," so he
prayed, "Give me Texas for Jesus or I die." From that
moment began a career unparalleled for usefulness in all this
land. How like the knightly Knox was he in all his after life.
With measureless faith In God and courage undaunted, he
blazed out a straight patway to glorious distinction.
He learned in his early ministry the great fact that
preaching is vain unless the hearts of the hearers are reached
and moved by a magnetic touch.
To be a wise and thorough teacher of God's word; to con-
vince the mind of man of his relation and responsibility to
God is one of the indispensible powers of a great preacher.
Without this there can be no great force or lasting good in the
proclamation of the gospel. There are few men so far from
the kingdom of God who will refuse to be shown, as an intel-
lectual pleasure, the beautiful stairway to heaven. But, oh!
how few can be moved to walk in that way. To draw men
out of the rut in which they have long traveled, to change the
whole current of their lives, requires the co-operation of two
First. That the duty and way shall be made plain.
Second. That the heart shall be melted and its fountains
Dr. Burleson had a remarkable memory. He not only
remembered Scripture, history and poetry, men and women,
their names and faces, but he knew the family history of
thousands of Texans, and this familiarity with their ante-
cedents made him the friend of all those with whom he came
in contact. He carried with him a great storehouse of apt
and forcible illustrations, which gave to his every sermon
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 609
singular power and persuasion. He learned from the peerless
Gallilean preacher the force of apt illustrations.
Dr. Burleson was a classical scholar of high order, yet
his sei-mons abounded in the simplest, purest language.
When I first knew him he was full of intense enthusiasm, and
carried into every sermon the fervor of a soul on fire. Gifted
in an eminent degree with the highest order of eloquence,
impassioned and earnest in his delivery, he bore down upon
his subject with such dashing force that he became the admi-
ration and delight of every audience.
In his early ministry he was particularly fond of holding
revival meetings. In them he was wonderfully strong with
God and man. Sound in doctrine, with a thorough theo-
logical training, an intimate acquaintance with the Holy
Scriptures, with a commanding presence, with a keen black
eye which charmed, a ringing, eloquent voice which moved
and stirred the souls of men, he carried captive his hearers,
and they were borne irresistibly to his conclusions and charmed
to follow where he led.
At Independence, in Washington County of this State,
I heard him preach through four successive years, from the
beginning of the year 1854 to the close of 1857.
His audiences were learned and cultivated, the profes-
sors of both the male and female departments of Baylor Uni-
versity, General Sam Houston, Justice Wheeler of the
Supreme Court of Texas, and others of the same kind, made
up his congregations. All over Texas judges, lawyers and
statesmen, as well as the plain people, hung upon his lips as
he unfolded the groat plan of salvation.
He never failed to instruct and delight the young people,
for all of whom he had a father's love, and he carried thou-
sands of them, bound mth chains of love, to his Master's feet.
Though he possessed a high order of reverence, he had
a keen sense of the ridiculous, which never escaped him, and
out of which came a wealth of refined merriment. This ele-
ment of his character gave a zest and freshness to his sermons,
always interesting. I remember to have heard him preach a
sermon about 1855 upon the judgment. It was one of the
master efforts of his life. Its beauties and its terrors will
lino-er with me to the last day of my life, and when I stand in
610 The Life A^'D Writings of
that day of reckoning before the Master I expect to go back
to that sermon. He assembled a countless host before the
judgment bar of God; the seal of the great book is broken;
the record of every life is manifest; proclamation of the final
decrees of life and death is made by God Himself. He por-
trayed that wonderful panorama around the throne of God as
the great Belgic artist, Weirtz, pictured the "Final Triumph
of Christ," which I saw in the art gallery of Brussels, Bel-
gium, and in which it seemed the glory of the universe was
focused in his face.
In every sermon he had a distinctive purpose, well defined
and clearly cut. He thought for himself and had the courage
of his convictions, though he had little patience with what is
known as "progressive Christianity."
His first sermon, preached at Covington, Kentucky, June
10th, 1847, upon "The Ministry of Angels," shows that he
read the Bible for himself, that he construed it by his own
intelligence, and stood firmly by the law once given to the
saints without subtraction or addition. The pulpit was not his
place for exhibiting his learning, but for ''preaching Christ
and him crucified," ever clinging to the cross and a risen
Statesmen, judges, professional men crowded his con-
gregations. Under his preaching. General Sam Houston, the
Father of Texas, was convicted and converted, and as a little
child this old warrior was led by Dr. Burleson down into the
water and baptized as Jesus was, and the grim old hero became
a beautiful Christian.
Under his preaching I, too, Avas led to Christ, and by him
baptized. And possibly I ought to be able feebly, but imper-
fectly, to describe the magnetic power with which this great
preacher moved the hearts of the people to reach up after God
and to cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" I can never
forget that great meeting in October, 1854, at Independence,
when he led a vast company of us (his students) to Christ.
Happy memories !
"When Heaven came down our souls to greet
And glory crowned the mercy seat."
Twenty-three years afterward he assisted in my ordina-
tion as a deacon at Galveston, Texas, and, with his hand upon
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 611
my head, with tears of joy running down his face, he asked
God to bless and make useful the life of his old student. So
he was, indeed, my father in Israel; and when I reach that
better land, he and my angel mother, whom he loved so well,
mil be standing together on the shore to greet me. And, oh,
w^hat a host he will welcome there, who will tell the Master
how he plead His cause while he lived on earth.
Perhaps the greatest sermon of his life was that on "Fam-
ily Government" â€” a master production. In it he brings to
his aid his vast and varied experiences with youth as President
of Baylor University. Around it he concentrates the wisdom
of sages and prophets, and, seemingly by inspiration, he points
the parent along the rugged way of training and discipline,
and shows, oh, so clearly, where affectionate tenderness ends
and where stern duty begins. He touches the keynote of our
civilization and sounds the alarm bell to sleeping parents. He
answers the serious question, "How shall I govern my fam-
ily?" in the light of Bible teaching and the wisest lessons of
experience. How beautifully he impresses that golden rule,
"A dew drop on the baby plant
Hath warped the giant oak forever;
A pebble in the streamlet cast
Hath turned the course of many an ancient river."
Dr. Burleson preached everywhere in Texas. His repu-
tation and the love of the Baptist people for him gave him
invitation to go everywhere and preach. Wherever he
believed there was an open door he went in and did his Mas-
ter's work, and to-day his footprints are to be seen in every
city and town throughout this empire State. The wilderness
of East Texas, as well as the broad praii-ies of the west, have
alike echoed his clarion voice, as he called men, in his Master's
name, to "come up higher,"
From the rostrum of the chapel of Baylor University his
greatest preaching was done in what were called his "chapel
talks." There he preached every morning to the coming
great men of the State ; there he planted deep the everlasting
mudsills of eternal truth; there he inspired young men and
women with lofty ambition â€” ambition to be great and good.
612 The Life and Writings of
The devotion of this man of God to Texas was beantiful.
He loved her history and her traditions. Her broad, fertile
prairies spoke to him of coming greatness, and he carried the
blazing torch of God's word from city to city, from town to
hamlet, from valley to hilltop, and from hilltop to mountain
top, until he set Texas on fire with enthusiasm and love for
God and saw her safe in the hands of God's hosts.
After more than a half century of glorious labor the
veteran preacher has sheathed his sword, ceased his warfare
and gone home to God. His works do follow him.
His epitaph should be: He made no compromise with
As one of his old students, who loved him living as his
best friend, and who cherishes his memory now as one of the
most faithful of God's servants, I pay this humble tribute to
his undying name.
SEEMON^ OK FAMILY GOVERNMENT.
The poet laureate of England has said : "I am part of
all that I have met."
I deeply feel the truth and power of these words. I
have spent the last forty-seven years with the young in college
halls. I have instructed in the last thirty-seven years in the
halls of Baylor (Waco) University over four thousand five
hundred young men and young ladies. As agent of the Pea-