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Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

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

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hide, which will answer for tug-strings, or coarse leather.
His legs are short, resembling those of the tortoise, and
better adapted to swimming than traveling on land, the
hind feet being much larger than the fore ones. The tail
is flat, and finned at the end, like that of a fish, and is
used in the same way for swimming. The alligator is
amphibious. On land he is inactive, and moves slowly, as
a quadruped ; in water more rapidly, by the double mo-
tion of feet and tail. The oil of this animal is valuable for
dressing leather ; the flesh is inferior, similar in appearance



ESSAYS. 163

and taste to the flesh of a monstrous cat-fish.* His tusks
are very large, and sometimes they are manufactured into
chargers, to measure powder for the woodman's rifle.
The strength of alligators is thought to be immense ; and
they are known to be very destructive to swine and other
stock, which resort to the edge of their native rivers and
bayous. The manner in which this creature usually takes
his prey deserves a passing notice. Where he expects
stock or wild animals, he lies concealed near the shore, as
still as a log, with only one eye and the tip of his nose
above water ; or, if he discovers his prey near the water's
edge when he is distant, he will approach so slowly and
slyly, as not to be discovered till he gets within striking
distance ; then making a sudden, powerful sweep with the
tail, knocks down the animal, and at the same time throw-
ing the head round, and snapping with the mouth, by
which he forms himself into a circle, seizes his victim, and
instantly disappears under water till it is drowned, when
he brings it to shore, or to a log that appears above the
water, where he soon devours the carcass. When they
are on land, they will strike at whatever comes in their
way, though they are not there so dangerous ; because
being exceedingly clumsy, it is easy to keep out of their
way. It is said they will bite nothing while it is under
water, but will seize any animal on the surface, from a
duck to a horse, and draw it under with great force,
always seizing that part of the animal which is above
the water. The female alligator deposits her eggs on dry
land, where they are hatched by the heat of the sun;
they are white, about the size of turkey eggs, and are

°My information respecting the taste was derived from a gentleman,
■who stated that he and a few others, when employed as soldiers in Flor-
ida, some years ago, being in a starving condition, had made a repast on
an alligator's tail. But if we may judge of the taste from the smell, it
was not a very delicious meal — the animal puts forth a perfume resem
hling musk.



164: MISCELLANY.

numerous — from forty to sixty in one nest. The nest is
usually formed of sticks and leaves near the water, and is
often found by the alligator's slide, or smooth path up the
bank of the river, which she makes by traveling to and
from her nest. The bellow of the male alligator, which is
often heard in the spring of the year, is hideous, remind-
ing one of distant thunder. On the Black river, in Louis-
iana, and the neighboring lakes and bayous, where they
have not been so frequently alarmed by steamboats, nor
the sportsman's gun, alligators are quite tame, and may
be easily killed with a well-charged rifle, or a strong spear,
as they lie half torpid on the shore, sunning themselves
during the first warm spring days along the water's edge.
In 1 837 I saw a very large one receive, on the side of his
head, a deadly shot of a rifle, fired from the hurricane
deck of a steamboat, as she ascended Black river. On
receiving the shot, he suddenly turned on his side, quiv-
ered a few seconds, and commenced his death-struggle,
like any other animal shot through the brain.



A HAPPY COLONY.
Good news ; glad tidings of great joy unto all people !
A colony has been formed, calculated to meet the views
and promote the happiness of all concerned. Let the
north give up, and the south keep not back. Let the
friends of abolition and of colonization cease their strife,
and unitedly go into the highways and hedges to bring
in colonists. There is ample territory provided for all.
Multitudes are willing to go, and only wait to learn by
what means they can get there. About this, there need
be no failure, for exhaustless treasures arc pledged for
the success of the enterprise. The colony is located -in



ESSAYS. 165

the best climate, and on the best soil in the universe,
•where there is no "war, no lawless tumult, no poverty, no toil
or peril, disease or famine. Though the colony is remote,
the voyage to it is soon made ; and with perfect safety, if
you take a passage in the colony's daily packet, which
plies constantly between it and all the ports of the known
world. The benefits of this colony are not limited to the
colored race ; but extend to all of every nation, whether
black, red, white, or tawny, who were in bondage, but
have been redeemed by an incalculable price. The ran-
som was paid by a most benevolent King, who proposes
now, with their consent, to knock off their manacles,
"make them free indeed," and colonize them in the
choicest part of his dominions. Very many are already
there, who find prepared for them a city more splendid,
with mansions more spacious and beautiful than any
described by ancient or modern historians ; and this col-
ony is finally to become the permanent home of all the
truly wise, virtuous, and pious, among all nations, but of
none others. None possessed of intemperate habits, vicious
principles, or malevolent feelings, can ever be admitted
to that peaceful country. It is situated in the regions
of Immortality, and is called The Promised Land; the
name of the chief city is New Jerusalem; and the King
of the country is styled, The Desire of all Nations.
His throne resembles a mountain of ivory environed with
evergreens, from the foot of which issues a crystal stream,
deep and broad, called the River of Life. The habili-
ments of the King are flowing robes, extending to the
feet, as bright as the morning light, and fastened with a
golden girdle ; a rainbow encircles his head ; his face out-
shines the sun; and on his breastplate of righteousness
is written, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." Imme-
diately around Him, are the myriads of his redeemed
subjects, who "have washed their robes, and made them



166 MISCELLANY.

■white in the blood of the Lamb," singing the new song,
which none can sing but those redeemed from the earth
by the King. These are the colonists proper. Next to
them, but a little further from the throne, are the natives
of the country, called "the sons of God;" they are the
same who shouted when the foundations of the earth were
laid. These natives, though they can not sing the new
song, appear to be much delighted with it. They stand
the ready and willing messengers of the King on all
errands of mercy and love, especially in reference to all
those who are candidates for the "promised land. The
number of these is increasing every day. The population
of the colony is already immense ; our informant — Reve-
lation, 7th chapter — says he saw "a hundred and forty
and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of
Israel" there; and adds, "After this I beheld, and lo, a
great multitude which no man could number, of all na-
tions, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before
the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes,
and palms in their hands ; and cried with a loud voice,
saying, Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the
throne, and unto the Lamb !" Who will go and join this
happy colony ? All who accede to the King's terms, can
have an inheritance among their brethren, for the King
says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of
the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."



MORAL CONFLICT.

There is a revolt in one of the provinces of the King
of kings, and a terrible Avar in progress. The whole world
is more or less interested in and affected by it. The things
in dispute are the souls of men — deathless spirits, destined



ESSAYS. 1G7

to endless bliss, or endless woe. The value of an immor-
tal spirit may be inferred from the vast expenditure of
blood and treasure for its recovery from the ruins'of the
fall; also from the fact, that the energies of both worlds
are engaged in the conflict over it. God and his angels
are for it, the devil and his angels are against it, and men
and women are divided on the subject. At first view, the
prospect looks gloomy ; especially when the soul itself is
so intoxicated by sin as to be bewildered, and apparently
indifferent as to whose hands it may fall into, or what
/iestiny awaits it hereafter. The immediate scene of action
is this earth we inhabit ; and in no part of the earth is the
conflict more signal than in these United States. Here-
the enemy is intrenching himself; struggling to get and
keep possession of the strongholds, especially about the
large cities and great thoroughfares of travel. A very
brief survey of the ground is sufficient to observe the
inroads the enemy is making. Those public lines of Sun-
day travel are prostituted highways for the transportation
of the devil's troops and military stores ; gaming-houses
are the devil's military academies; tippling-houses are
the devil's outposts, where he enlists his raw recruits;
dancing-masters and fiddlers are his fuglemen to train
them in his infernal tactics; infidel papers are the devil's
banners, on whose vile folds is inscribed, "I believe in all
unbelief;" distributors of novels and all sorts of infidel
publications are the devil's colporteurs; infidel orators,
whether called lecturers or preachers, are the devil's em-
bassadors ; race-grounds are the devil's muster-fields,
where he reviews his troops and numbers his forces; the-
aters and circuses are the devil's chapels, where his
worshipers shout his praise; houses of debauchery are
favorite places of resort, where the devil and his personal
friends hold their night revels; but that place of general
resort and fashionable dissipation on the Lord's day,



168 MISCELLANY.

•wherever it may be selected, is the devil's headquarters,
where he holds councils of war with his subalterns, and
plans his general onslaughts. Thus the enemy covers a
broad surface.

This array of opposition looks fearful; but "He that is
for us is greater than all that can be against us; and,
though he works by means and second causes, he will go
before us, and fight our battles for us. Our thirty thou-
sand churches, like so many fortifications, well supplied
with heavenly munitions, are weekly filled with some mill-
ions of soldiers of the cross, armed with the shield of
faith and the sword of the Spirit. These, like patriot
soldiers, defending their own just rights, are nerved with
courage more than mortal — knowing that truth is mighty,
and must prevail. Our colleges and seminaries are pre-
paring many minds to act a distinguished part in this
glorious cause. Our Bible houses and religious book
concerns, are armories, preparing abundance of ordnance.
Religious tract societies are throwing incessant showers of
bird-shot into the faces of the invading foe ; the religious
press continually pours a galling fire of grape-shot through
all the ranks of the enemy ; Bible societies are driving a
million of battering-rams against the bowing walls of the
devil's kingdom, and shaking them to their sandy founda-
tions ; while missionary societies are hurling Gospel bombs
into all his strongholds, and blowing up his magazines.
In the mean time, thirty thousand pulpits are filled with
embassadors of heaven, exhorting millions to yield to the
scepter of mercy, and render obedience to the King of
Zion. Many wounded in spirit are brought into the Gos-
pel hospital, and healed by the heavenly Physician ; while
others, convinced that they are waging an unequal and
inglorious warfare against their rightful Sovereign, make
a Gospel surrender at the altar of prayer, and become the
willing subjects of the Prince of life. By our own division



ESSAYS. 169

of the Christian army, during the past year, more than
thirty-two thousand souls were made joyful prisoners of
hope. Our German missions are extending the victories of
the cross of Christ even among the legions of the Pope's
invincibles, which were sent over to invade our happy land.
Thus, by fire and sword, does God plead with all flesh ;
but they are the fire of love, and the sword of the Spirit.
Triumphantly does the peaceful banner of the Gospel wave
over thousands of places, once the strongholds of Satan.
"The Captain of our salvation," made perfect through
suffering, never loses a battle. He is "mighty to save,
and strong to redeem." In his service, the race is not
to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. His strength is
made perfect in our weakness ; so that one shall chase a
thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.

If it be asked what is the prospect before us, let the
reports of the Sabbath school unions answer. In all the
American Churches the number of children trained in
Sabbath schools is about two millions — enough to fill a
field containing a hundred acres. By these the Churches
will be filled with spiritual w r orshipers, new colonies formed,
and the Gospel carried to heathen lands. Now, suppose
all these were assembled in one place, and they should all
at once betrin to sins:,

"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Traise him all creatures here below," etc.;

or suppose that, like the children who saw Jesus descend-
ing from the Mount of Olives, they should wave their
palm-leaf banners, and shout, "Ilosanna to Him that
cometh in the name of the Lord ! hosanna in the highest!"
would it not send a thrill of joy to the hearts of millions
of Christians, and spread dismay and terror through all
the ranks of the enemy? But, distributed, as they are,
over these United States, they are doing a thousand times

15



170 MISCELLANY.

more for the cause of Christ than they could, if all were
assembled in one solid square. And when they reach
maturity, and become fully imbued with the spirit of
piety, as most of them will, what shall stand before them?
The sight of them would be sufficient to make the stoutest
inlidel hearts quail ; and when they raise the torches of
salvation, and shout, "The sword of the Lord and of
Gideon," the ranks of the devil must give way, and break
into general confusion; for "one shall become a thousand,
and a small one a strong nation : I the Lord will hasten it
in his time."



put IstnnL
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.



Biographical %kttct)ts.



REV. VALENTINE COOK.

Among the fathers of American Methodism, but few, if
any, were more distinguished in the work than the Rev.
V. Cook. Though no regular biographical sketch of his
life and labors should ever be published, his name would
be handed down by tradition from father to son, and from
mother to daughter, to the third and fourth generations.
His monument is in the affections of the people. I am
pleased, however, to learn that some of his lineal descend-
ants are collecting materials for such a work, and wish
them great success. The Church of Christ has already
suffered much loss by its being deferred so long.

While Mr. Cook was a student in one of the colleges of
Pennsylvania, if I am correctly informed, he gave indica-
tions of deep piety, and of talents which promised exten-
sive usefulness in the work of the ministry, to which he
was evidently called of God. And such was the demand
for laborers in that day, that Bishop Asbury made a call
for him to go out into the vineyard of the Lord before he
was ready to graduate ; and feeling himself moved thereto
by the Holy Spirit, he left all and followed Christ. He
was admitted as a traveling preacher in 1788. His first
appointment was to Calvert, in the Baltimore conference ;
but most of his life was spent in the western country,
especially Kentucky.

Mr. Cook's person was peculiar. He was very tall,

but somewhat stooping in the shoulders ; had a giant

frame, without any surplus flesh. His small, dark eyes

were set far back in his large head: his mouth was unu-

15* 173



174 MISCELLANY.

sually large ; the general features of his face were coarse,
his complexion somber, and his beard heavy. Still, when
he was preaching, and his countenance lighted up with
intelligence, and his features softened with a glow of
benevolence, and smoothed over with heavenly serenity,
his appearance was not only striking, but, upon the whole,
rather agreeable. No doubt one simple-hearted, pious
woman thought so, when, having received a great blessing
under his preaching, she looked up to him in the pulpit
and said, " Father Cook, God bless your big mouth !"

In his manners, brother Cook was a pattern of Christian
simplicity; so much so, that children felt unembarrassed
in his presence. His colloquial powers were of a high
order ; and to all pious people he was at once an instruct-
ive and agreeable companion. Though capable of discuss-
ing any subject, his standing theme was religion. What-
ever topic of conversation was introduced, he, in the end,
turned it to the account of godly edification. He was
considered, by all who knew him, a good fireside preacher,
and, of course, was always a welcome guest.

Brother Cook, as a preacher, was altogether above the
medium grade. His pulpit performances were marked for
appropriateness, variety, fluency, and extraordinary force.
Though possessed of a pacific spirit, he soon became dis-
tinguished as a defender of the faith against the various
antichristian systems of the age and country in which he
lived and labored; for in that day our fathers had numer-
ous opponents, and had to contend with the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God, for every inch of ground
they occupied. But he became much more distinguished
on account of his wonderful success in winning souls to
Christ. Though he was a man of science and letters, he
placed no dependence in either when preaching ; but dealt
only in the article of Gospel truth, presented in the most
simple form, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 175

power. This he did, apparently, with a firm confidence
that God would bless his own truth to the present salva-
tion of his hearers; and he was but seldom disappointed.
Thousands received the word of life from his lips, who
never heard it to profit before, and became the humble
and happy subjects of the saving grace of God.

After being employed some twelve years as a regular
itinerant preacher, want of health, or some other circum-
stance, induced him to take a local relation. Subsequently
he was, for some years, principal of an academy in Ken-
tucky, and otherwise employed in teaching. But he was
one of the few located brethren who never lost the spirit of
their Gospel mission. So soon as he got his large family
situated on a farm, so as to get along without him, with-
out changing his relation, he became an itinerant in fact,
and gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry.
His service was in great demand. Invitations from places
far and near — more than he was able to fill — poured in
upon him.

He was emphatically a man of prayer and faith, and —
like Enoch — walked with God. Perhaps no man of mod-
ern times was more deeply imbued with the spirit of grace,
had more experience in "the deep things of God," or felt
more deadness to the world, than V. Cook. One conse-
quence was, he sometimes betrayed absence of mind in
commonplace matters. Indeed, when he retired for secret
devotion, just before public service, his friends had to
watch him, or he would pray till after the time appointed
for him to commence preaching. In the winter of 181 1—
12, a succession of earthquakes caused such a shaking of
the earth, that many people were greatly alarmed. The
most violent concussion was felt on a certain dark night,
at an untimely hour, when men were wrapped in slum-
ber. It was enough to make the stoutest heart tremble.
Brother Cook, suddenly roused from sleep, made for the



176 MISCELLANY.

door, exclaiming, "I believe Jesus is coming." His wife
was alarmed, and said, "Will you not wait for me?" Said
he, " If my Jesus is coming, I will wait for nobody.' ■ Of
course, he felt both ready and anxious to meet his Lord
and Savior.

While brother Cook was remarkable for solemnity, both
of appearance and deportment, there was, in his natural
composition, a spice of eccentricity, sufficient to attract
attention, but not to destroy his ministerial influence. On
one occasion he commenced his public discourse — in a
country place — thus: "As I was riding along the road
to-day, I saw a man walk out into his field with a yoke
under his arm ; by the motion of the stick, he brought up
two bullocks, and placed the yoke upon them. At another
place I saw an ass standing by a corn-crib, waiting for his
daily provender." Then he read for his text, "The ox
knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but
Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider," Isa.
i, 3. He was a ready man, had a fruitful mind, and, no
doubt, what he had seen on the way suggested the subject
of his discourse. Another instance of his well-meant ec-
centricity occurred at the Shaker village in Logan county,
not far from his residence. Believing the Shakers wero
deluded, and feeling deeply concerned for their souls, he
sought an interview with their head men, and, as he un-
derstood it, obtained leave to address their people on a
certain Sabbath, at the close of their regular exercise.
However, at the time agreed on, the Shaker preacher dis-
missed the congregation, and urged them to retire from
the chapel immediately. But brother C. was not to be so
easily defeated; and running before the people, mounted
upon a hen-house, and called on them to stop and hear
the word of the Lord. Some of them did so, and he
preached to them from the words of Paul: "Now as
Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 177

resist the truth," 2 Tim. iii, 8. This novel movement
arose from his ardent desire for the salvation of all men.
But, so far as the result was known, it was lost labor.

My personal acquaintance with brother Cook commenced
in his own house, near Russellville, Ky., in the summer of
1815, and was renewed when I became a member of the
Kentucky conference, by transfer, in 1821. From that
time till his death, my fields of labor being somewhat
contiguous to his residence, I saw something of his move-
ments, and heard much more. He was then an old man,
and honored as a father in the Church, but still possessed
of strong physical and mental powers. His aid was anx-
iously sought after on all important occasions in the west
part of the state ; and wherever he appeared in a religious
assembly, he was hailed as a harbinger of mercy. Whole
multitudes of people, on popular occasions, were moved by
the Spirit of grace under his preaching, as the trees of the
forest were moved by the winds of heaven. His last public
effort, as I was informed by some who were present, made
at Yellow Creek camp meeting, in Dixon county, Tenn.,
was a signal triumph. While preaching on the Sabbath,
such a power came down on the people, and produced
such excitement, that he was obliged to desist, till order
was partially restored. Shortly after he resumed speak-
ing he was stopped from the same cause. A third attempt
produced the same result. He then sat down amidst a
glorious shower of grace, and wept, saying, "If the Lord
sends rain, we will stop the plow, and let it rain."

When he returned home from this meeting, early in the
week, he received a message requesting him to visit Major
Moor, in Russellville, who was dangerously sick of a fever;
and he went immediately. The incidents of that visit
were related to me by Mrs. Russell, of Greenville, who
was mother-in-law of the sick man, and was present on
the occasion. Her word was good authority in all that



178 MISCELLANY.

region of country. After a short conversation with Major
Moor, the aged minister kneeled down and prayed most
fervently for him several times, as if he did not intend to
cease pleading till his petition was granted. At length
the physicians ordered the room to be cleared, the effect,
if not the design, of which was to exclude the praying
minister. They, however, could not stop his praying.
As Mrs. Russell stood in the back yard, after nightfall,
she heard his voice amidst the shrubbery of the garden,



Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 13 of 30)