Elizabeth A. Murphy Letter to Signs of the Times newspaper
[The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by Elizabeth (Brown) Murphy, which appeared in the March 11, 1896, edition of the Signs of the Times newspaper (“Devoted to the Old School Baptist Cause”). Certain lines are missing because of deterioration of the paper. ]
Garden City, Minn., Feb. 12, 1896
BELOVED IN CHRIST: -- Obedient to the heavenly vision, preaching the gospel to the poor in spirit, comforting others with that comfort wherewith you yourselves have been comforted of God. Although I have done so little toward comforting others, I would call you brethren, and would tell you what great things the Lord has done for me. He reconciled me unto himself, forgiving my sins; for I felt indeed, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Jesus said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” He gave me the will to come, an O what joy to feel what I was not cast out. I was weary and heavy laden, and he gave me rest. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul.” I have surely felt the power of these words, and their truth. The first knowledge I had of this great … of our God was on the … of October, 1890, about four o’clock in the morning. I hardly know how I became so afflicted in mind, it came upon me so gradual. The load … weight upon me, which amounted physically to a constant aching in my breast, until I was always sorry when the night was over and morning was come, only to dawn upon a gloomy world to me. I could see no beauty in all the pleasant things the Lord has put here for our comfort. I now look back to that time and wonder how it could be; for I have now the same house and friends and surroundings, to a great extent. Now it seems like the whole world is full of God’s glory; but still there are times when I am blind to them partially. Upon that, to me, memorable morning, at about the hour I spoke of, I awoke. As soon as I awoke came the aching load, with the conviction that I had sinned against God and had taken his holy name in vain. I arose and sank upon my knees for the first time in my life for the purpose of prayer to God to forgive my sins. Then before my closed eyes seemed the boundlessness of space, without an object in it. All my load was gone, and I thought I would get up and ask every one in the house to forgive me all I had ever done against them. But I thought they would think strange of it, and so I did not. I fell asleep and dreamed I had done so, and that they made sport of me for so doing. I slept by a window facing the south, and when morning dawned it was upon a “new heaven and a new earth”; for old things had passed away. Such a glorious sunrise, and more beautiful trees never grew, I thought, than those little trees on the brow of the bluffs of the river opposite my window; and through all the following days the glory of God seemed around me. The whole winter following it seemed that God was with us. Thus my faith was fixed; I had found a friend. I thought I would “tell no man” of this, but would keep it secret. I felt sure his mercies would endure forever, and that if I asked of him I should receive. But I never thought of calling this religion until my dear husband was taken sick and we thought he would die. One night I told him that I had faith in prayer, and was unable to change my faith in that particular. He asked me when this happened, and I told him all I knew about it. He was much rejoiced, and grew better rapidly, and recovered his health. I was much surprised when he took such an interest in my talk. I thought his mind would change before morning, and asked him if it was. He said it was not. Then I was afraid I had deceived him, and was deceived myself. I longed and prayed for confirmation, and it was presented to my mind in this way: “How much do you deserve? You have peace and rest and faith; what more can you ask?” I surely felt that I was ungrateful indeed to ask more, and … received at the Lord’s hand … for all my sins. I was baptized in the fellowship of Linn Creek … of Regular Predestinarian … in northern Iowa, by Elder … Norton, of Hampton, Iowa, … 1891, in the thirty-second year of my age. We went a hundred miles to attend meeting and join that church, as there was not, and is not, a church of Old School Baptists in Minnesota; but we hope to organize one here next June. We have a preacher here and a meeting-house, and three members near, and several brethren in the state. We all meet here twice a year and have good meetings. We believe we love this people, and say with the prophet of old, “Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee, and shalt tread upon their high places.” -- … Now, dear brethren, if this poor composition is unfit for your columns, or you cannot find room for it, please do us the favor of telling the brethren that we are praying for a goodly number of Old School Baptists to move here and join with us in keeping the order of the house of our God and giving all praise and honor and glory to him that sitteth upon the throne. O may this prayer be in accordance with his will. Tell them they need not have any fears of staving here in this country; for there has not been a failure of crops here for twenty-five years. This last season farmers have raised as high as one hundred bushels of oats to the acre, wheat thirty bushels, corn twenty to fifty bushels, and ten to twenty bushels of flax seed. All crops ripened well without frost. Good wood is plenty at two dollars and fifty cents per cord. We do not freeze here in winter. We had only about two weeks of sleighing this winter. We only burn three tons of hard coal in our heater, running day and night, in one winter.
My letter is already too long, and I must ask you to correct it if you publish it, as it is my first correspondence for a paper.
Yours in hope,
ELIZABETH A. MURPHY