Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 1 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Columbia (Bntoetsftp


Bequest of

Frederic Bancroft






ft**. €, 1. ailnrris, I), D.,


Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing he lost. — John vi, 12.







Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
District of Ohio.


For many years I have occasionally employed frag-
ments of time in writing for our Church papers. My
articles are thinly scattered over a broad surface of
periodical literature, some of them in papers which,
at the time those articles appeared, had but a limited
circulation. These papers are now rapidly going to
waste, and most of their early readers have already
disappeared from among the living. I am not quite
willing that all of my articles should remain a dead
letter, as I have often been requested, by different
individuals, to republish some of them. And the
only hope now of rescuing them from oblivion, is to
republish them in a convenient and permanent form.
In concluding to adopt this plan, I act in accordance
with the counsel of some of the wisest and best of
men within my knowledge.

This vol nine, as its name suggests, consists of dif-
ferent sorts of compositions, though it embraces only
a small proportion of what I have written and pub-
lished. The work is divided into three parts, for the
convenience of readers.

The first part contains short essays on various lit-
erary, moral, and religious topics of a practical
bearing, to the exclusion of speculative theology.

The second part is filled with brief biographical
sketches of pious individuals, whose character, life,
and death, I have, at different times, had occasion to


notice, and whose example may encourage the living
in their Christian course.

The third part consists of notes of travel. These
are not in the form of a diary, or regular journal,
for I have not kept any thing of the kind, but are
made up mostly of journeys, incidents, and observa-
tions which transpired at various periods during my
itinerant life. Among others will be found the
report of a land trip from St. Louis to Texas, A. D.
1841-42, in the form of a familiar correspondence.
Also, a similar report of a trip to the Indian country,
west of Missouri and Arkansas, in 1844.

It is hoped that this small Miscellany may prove
both safe and profitable for plain readers in general,
and especially among the young; and as there is no
accessary connection between the general parts of
the volume, such as have but little time for reading,
can examine the table of contents and select for

T. A. Mokeis.


3S s % a 2 s .
The Bible Pa S e 9

The Tress •


Houses of Worship ™

Loud Preaching 23

Parental Duty 28

The Duty of Fasting 39

For Better, for Worse 57

Human Life 67

Time 70

Think of Death 73

Pride • • •- 75

Humility 77

Inequality in Property 79

Comparative Happiness 81

Contentment 83

Western Style of Living 86

Child of the West 93

Zeal »5

Benevolence °8

Selfishness 102

Christian Philanthropy 107

Visiting the Sick 109

Christmas H2

New-Year H5

Watch Meeting H8

Curiosity 119

Age of Improvement 1 -

Lnfluence of Fashion I 27

Loquacity 181

The Tongue I 35

Daxcing 13 7

Objections to Profane Swearing 143

Falsehoods 146

How to Prepare Subjects for the Penitentiary 155

Beech-Log School-House 156

Burning Cane I 60

Zoology — Alligator 162

Happy Colony 164

Moral Conflict 166

1* 5



Valentine Cook Page 173

Jesse Waeker * 179

William B. Christie 192

Peace in Death — Mas. Rust 201

Bishop Roberts 212

Doctor Levings 220

Country Funeral— Mrs. Conret 227


Notts of Srsfctl.

Itinerant Work, Reviewed in 1839 237

Our Fathers 237

Our Travels 240

Our Circuits 245

Our Studies 250

Our Support 252

Our Enjoyments 259

Incidents of Travel, 1836 263

Traveling, 1841 271

Land Trip from St. Louis to Texas 279

Letter I 279

Letter LI , 283

Letter HI 288

Letter IV 296

LetterV 299

Letter VI 303

Letter Vn 310

Letter VILI 314

Letter EX 318

Letter X 322

Letter XI 326

Letter XH 328

Letter Xm 335

Letter XIV 340

Trip to Indian Mission Conference, 1844 346

Number I 346

Number LI 352

Number HI 357

Trip North- West, 1848 361

A Cold Trip, 1849 372

Rural Scenery — White Mountains 3/7

put finl.




In reading mere human productions, however excellent,
the mind becomes weary. The most attractive work
among them, on the second or third perusal, begins to
lose its interest. But not so of the Bible. Drawn from
the fountain of all wisdom and goodness, its themes are
sublime, its depths are fathomless, and its variety is
infinite. The oldest, closest, and most uniform readers
pronounce it always new and ever fresh. Each repeated
perusal leads to the discovery of new beauties and un-
known excellences. The more they read, the more they
desire to read it ; and the longer they read, the better they
love to read it. The Bible is emphatically the Book —
the Book of books — yea, the Book of God. It is a rich
boon from our heavenly Father, to his children of all ages
and nations — the people's book — the heavenly chart, with
which alone life's boisterous seas can be safely navigated.
Its precepts are so simple that the most ignorant may
understand them, while its mysteries are so profound that
the most learned could never have invented them. If the
Bible were perfectly comprehensible in all its parts, by
one human mind, that might suggest doubts of its being
a revelation from heaven, for all the world of intellectual
beings. Its sublime mysteries, so far from discrediting,
only confirm its claims to a divine origin. Many of the
precious truths of this sacred volume, such as that of the



resurrection of the bod}'-, are purely matters of revelation,
and could never have been discovered by the light of
reason. The same may be said of all things future, which
the prophets have made known; "For the prophecy came
not in old time by the will of man ; but holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Hence,
the authority of its commands, the terror of its denuncia-
tions, and the consolation of its promises. While all
things in the Bible, essentially connected with doctrine,
experience, and practice, are sufficiently plain for ordinary
readers, its resources are so boundless, as to call into
requisition all the research of the learned, directed by the
strongest intellect, without exhaustion. What are all the
treasures of classic lore compared to the "word of life?"
For depth of wisdom, beauty of style, and sublimity of
thought, it surpasses the sages of Greece, the orators of
Rome, and all the literati of modern times. The far-
famed British, and other poets, are thrown into the shade
by the book of Job, the Psalms of David, and the pro-
phetic visions of Isaiah. All the works of fiction, by the
most popular authors, may be safely challenged to pro-
duce one single essay that would bear any just comparison
to the simple, veritable, and pathetic narrative of Joseph
and his brethren. As to the sermon upon the mount, and
all other discourses of our Lord and Savior, it is enough
to recite the concession of his enemies: "Never man
spake like this man."

Why should a man expend thousands of dollars for a
mass of books, and commit himself to the toil of a lifetime
in examining them, when, for a few shillings, he can
obtain the Book which contains more wisdom, and is of
infinitely more importance than all the libraries in the
world? Nor is this saying too much for the Bible, which
dates back near two thousand years beyond the oldest
history extant, and by prophecy extends forward to the

E 8 S A T S . 11

end of time. If all human productions, from the first
imperfect scrawl on bark or skin, down to the ornamented
volumes of 1850, be placed in one scale, and a single,
plain copy of the Bible in the other, in point of real
value, it outweighs them all. Would you learn the origin
of the world, and the years of its existence? Instead of
resorting to geology, and dealing in uncertain conjecture
and inference, go to Genesis, and read an authentic his-
tory of the creation of all things from nothing. The
earth first arose, without form, and void, and darkness
covered the face of it; but, under the plastic hand of the
Creator, assumed its proper shape and function. "And
God said, Let there be light: and there was light." The
sun took his appropriate position, and the rolling planets
were distributed around him, so as to receive his light
and heat. The whole system was then put in motion by
its Author; and, for near six thousand years, has never,
for one moment, ceased to move. As yet there were none
to till the earth, or rule the multitude of its living crea-
tures; but the Lord God formed man out of the dust,
breathed on him and he lived, having dominion over every
livinof thins: on the earth. From his rib, God made
woman, to be the companion and helpmeet of man. And
from them have descended all the babbling tribes of
humanity. Would you know whence came death and all
the woes of man? Read it in the history of the fall. Do
you desire to learn what is the only remedy for sin and its
miseries? It is all comprehended in this, Christ died for
our sins and rose again for our justification. Are you
still prostrated, fettered, and powerless under the bondage
of sin? Accept of his free, unmerited advocacy, nothing
doubting, and you are "redeemed, regenerated, and dis-
inthralled." Such are the history and doctrine of the
Bible. It guides the pilgrim stranger through this howl-
ing wilderness, in the path of safety. It hangs out the


lamp of its exceeding great and precious promises, to pilot
"him over the gulf stream of death ; and leads him forth
with songs of deliverance to join his friends in the death-
less regions of immortality, where the river of life glides
forever, amidst the beauties of perennial spring.

Now, the Bible, which alone affords any satisfactory
information of our origin, duty, and end, or any assurance
of a higher and happier state of existence than the pres-
ent, is alike suited to all classes of society, and to all the
circumstances of human life. It is the plain Christian's
manual, and the learned man's text-book; the rich man's
monitor, and the poor man's treasure; the traveler's
guide, and the mariner's chart; the widow's companion,
and the orphan's guardian. It is the basis of legislation,
and the standard of morals; it binds over the witness,
juror, attorney, and judge to a future reckoning, and
requires the administration of universal justice, according
to the golden rule, of doing unto all men as we would
they should do unto us. It checks the turbulent passions
of the wicked, protects the rights of the innocent, and
enjoins peace on earth and good will to man. It tunes
the harp of the musician, furnishes the song of devotion,
and kindles the fires of eloquence. It imparts light to
the ignorant, and peace to the broken-hearted; relieves
the oppressed of their burden, and breaks the wizard spell
of superstition. It is the sick man's consolation, and sus-
tains the dying man's hope. The final inference is, there
should be, at least, as many Bibles in the world as there
are rational beings, and every man, woman, and child
should own a copy.


That printing machine is a wonderful invention. Noth-
ing could supply its place in the dissemination of knowl-
edge. Through its agency one individual may speak to
millions, not only while he lives, but when sleeping in his
grave. Thoughts committed to paper, and printed in
books centuries ago, are still in existence, and familiar to
reading men of this generation. Thus, by the power of
this simple engine, distant ages are brought together ; and,
with the aid of translators, men of all languages may
converse and become acquainted with each other's laws,
customs, and religion, through the press. When the
world was dependent on scribes to multiply copies of
manuscript, only limited scraps of history could be pre-
served, and the knowledge of them was necessarily con-
fined to a few individuals, who might obtain access to the
huge rolls of parchment on which they were written.
We are indebted to the press for the abundance and
cheapness of reading in this age. Had not the art of
printing been discovered, "even the word of life," con-
tained in the records of salvation, would still be locked
up in the archives of the university, and read only by a
few learned doctors of the law. The press, under a wise
and gracious Providence, has thrown the Bible among the
multitudes of common people, and made it at once the
parent's companion and the child's school book. Thus,
the people generally in this favored land may have access
to the fountain-head of knowledge, which is able to make
them wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ
Jesus. So it is in all Protestant countries, and so it
should be in all the world. To expect the people to find
their way to heaven without tho holy Scriptures, is as


unreasonable as to require mariners to navigate the high
seas without chart or compass. Every intelligent Chris-
tian can adopt the sentiment thus figuratively expressed :

"The Bible is my chart,

By -which the seas I know ;
I can not with it part,

It rocks and sands doth show ;
It is my chart and compass too,
"Whose needle points forever true."

Whenever the people of any country shall be furnished
with the Bible, and sufficient knowledge of letters to read
it, they will soon understand their chartered rights, both
as Christians and citizens, and will have courage to assert
them, too, in defiance of popes and tyrants. They, whose
usurped authority rests upon the slender foundation,
"Ignorance is the mother of devotion," have important
reasons for withholding the Bible from their deluded sub-
jects. And, to them, nothing is more troublesome than
the press: it is difficult for them to exclude from their
limited dominions all the light which it sheds upon the
world around them. How important, then, is the press
in multiplying copies of the sacred writings, and removing
obstructions to their circulation! Just in proportion as
pure Christianity progresses and prospers in the world,
sound learning, civil liberty, and all the blessings of social
life will advance among the nations of the earth, and no
faster. "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a
reproach to any people/' is as true now as it was when
Solomon wrote it.

But the press, like all other benefits conferred upon
man, is liable to be abused and perverted to improper use.
While "the liberty of the press" is to be maintained by
every Christian and patriot, care should be taken to re-
strain it within proper bounds. There is certainly a
marked difference between the liberty of the press and


the licentiousness of it, whether viewed in the political,
literary, or religious department of its operations.

The political press should teach the rights of man,
expound international law, advocate the principles of our
free institutions, keep the people advised of the state of
commerce, and publish general intelligence. But it should
never be enlisted in the cause of mobocracy, or dem-
agogism, or such party measures as conflict with the
general good of the country; nor should it ever be de-
graded b} T dealing in slander, or personal invective, or
any disgusting details of private scandal. This standard
is evidently none too high. But if every political news-
paper which falls below it were expunged from the cata-
logue, how few of them would be left! How many politi-
cal papers are there in the United States which do not
evince more zeal for their respective leaders and parties,
than they do for their country? Which of them will not
abuse a political opponent to prevent his elevation, or
flatter a political friend for the remote prospect of obtain-
ing office ? Nay, which of them will not publish fulsome
notices of a masquerade, a theater, a circus, a horse-
race, or a tippling-house for the paltry sum of a few cents?
''Straws show which way the wind blows," and these
objectionable items but too clearly indicate the spirit of
the political press. In vain may it attempt to reform the
people till it reforms itself.

The literary press operates in a milder atmosphere,
sustains a relation less exciting, and occupies a position
less perilous, and, consequently, is, in a great measure,
clear of the objections above named. That it has its toils,
perplexities, and discouragements to contend with, is ad-
mitted ; but being free from the contaminating influence
of office, and from the agitation of evil passion, it meets
these difficulties calmly, patiently, and in hope of ultimate
success. Beside, its toil is pleasant. What delightful

16 M 1 S C E L L A iM Y .

labor, to store the mind with knowledge, and then employ
it in erecting monuments of science, and strewing the
garlands of literature along the path of life for the benefit
of those who come after! Such employment, though it
may promise but little wealth, and no sensual pleasure,
has the advantage of being free from the corrupting influ-
ence of vicious associations, and threatens no remorse of
conscience to be endured in the evening of life. Still, the
literary press is only less liable to abuse than the political,
and not wholly secure against it. The appetites of its
readers are various, some of them quite vitiated by the
use of improper aliment; hence arises a temptation to
indulge their perverted taste to the injury of their judg-
ment and general vigor of character. If proof be de-
manded, reference may be had to all the varieties of
fiction, from the less offensive novel, down to the common-
place love tale, written by a novice for some would-be
literary periodical, and to the debilitating and contamina-
ting influence which they exert upon the minds and char-
acters of their deluded readers. All tales of wild adven-
ture, whether in war or love, are highly injurious to young
readers of both sexes. They not only lessen the inclina-
tion for study and the desire for the acquisition of useful
knowledge, but they fix in the mind erroneous views of
men and things, by portraying characters which never
existed, and recording events which never transpired, and
thus introducing them to a world very different from the
one in which they live. Walker's definition of romancer
is, "A liar, a forger of tales." And yet thousands of
young females, whose minds are naturally sprightly and
amiable, spend their days and nights in poring and weep-
ing over these forgeries, as though they were credible and
useful histories. Such a young lady has received an
erroneous education. It has led her in the wrong path,
and the sooner she retraces her steps the better. She is


in danger of becoming an object of pity in the estimation
of intelligent people. They who have encouraged her to
take this delusive course in the pursuit of knowledge are
justly censurable.

But what should be said of the religious press? Its
responsibility is as much greater than that of all others,
as our spiritual and eternal interests are higher than those
of earth and time. Mistakes here may endanger the
everlasting welfare of deathless spirits; yea, spirits re-
deemed by the blood of the Lamb, and already placed
upon ground of possible salvation. The press which is
professedly devoted to the interest of religion, should
never become entangled with any question of worldly
policy, or of popular excitement, or of personal or party
conflict, or angry controversy on any subject whatever.
All such errors tend to weaken public confidence in the
religious press, and to divert its patronage into other
channels. It is worse than useless to teach religion in
theory, while its teachers contradict their own principles
in spirit and practice, as the conclusion which naturally
follows is, their religion makes them no better than their
neighbors. The common sense of mankind will estimate
the real value of every system and every enterprise by
its practical results. If a press, though professedly relig-
ious, kindle the fire of contention, raise the storm of angry
passion, and indicate a spirit of malevolence, it will be
justly regarded as an engine of evil, sowing the seeds of
discord and persecution. Religion would be far better off
without any press, than with one which only betrays her
• interest, by practically renouncing her own principles, or
with any number of presses which exhaust their energies
by combating one another. What folly it is for those who
are professedly aiming to accomplish the same great and
good object — the conversion of the world — to turn aside
from their high and holy calling, and wage a war of


mutual extermination ! Every consistent Christian sighs
and weeps over such an exhibition of human depravity.
Let the religious press be restricted to its appropriate
work, and it will find ample employment for all its time,
strength, and resources, without assuming any needless
responsibility. The main design of it should be to impart
a knowledge of that religion which brings "glory to God
in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward
men." And whatever tends to the accomplishment of
this result, should be encouraged by it. Here an almost
boundless field of useful enterprise opens to view. It
embraces the regular Christian ministry with all of its
intense interest, the progress of revivals under the minis-
tration of the Gospel, foreign and domestic missions, plans
for the instruction of youth and childhood, sanctified
learning, and all benevolent associations which have for
their object the glory of God and the happiness of man.
All of these interests are to be noticed, explained, de-
fended, and encouraged, by presenting the truth in love,
and in meekness of wisdom. Surely there is much land
to be possessed and cultivated by the religious press be-
fore the peaceful reign of Christ shall be universally
established and acknowledged. Beside, this press is ex-
pected to furnish the whole world with all the religious
reading which it needs, or may need, in the form of books,
duly assorted, distinguishing between the good and evil.
The work is vast and increasing, both in extent and im-
portance; but the means for its accomplishment, if not
yet abundant, are, at least, accumulating. The gold and
the silver are the Lord's, and his treasury is increasing.
Presses are multiplying, and they are moving under a full
pressure of steam-power, so that a copy of the Bible can
be printed in a minute ; and missionary ships are bearing
off the old and new covenants to heathen lands by the
ton. Only let the religious press not be turned aside from


iv-s own proper work, and it will prove itself an invaluable
auxiliary to the Christian ministry, in subjugating the
world to the "obedience of Christ," and raising it to
holiness, happiness, and heaven.


There has been perceptible improvement in church
building, within the last few years, in several particulars.
Under the old dispensation, it was supposed that some
difficulty in reaching the place of worship was a necessary
sacrifice for the privilege of attending. Hence, village
churches were located in the country, and frequently over
a creek, and on top of the highest hill in the neighbor-
hood. But, of late years, it has been ascertained that it
is easier to get the house to the people than the people to
the house ; and now village churches are generally erected
as near the center of population as practicable. It is far
better to pay the full value of a church lot in the proper
place than to have one for nothing in the wrong place.
Let all concerned remember it.

Overgrown houses are found to be inconvenient and
unprofitable. A medium-sized house is much better.

Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 1 of 30)