Friday, February 26, 2016

The Journal of Joseph Craig - Chapter 1

One of the great byproducts of the Internet and the digital age is its working in saving great books in history that are at risk of being lost. In my effort to research my ancestors who were ministers like myself, this work has become even more prescient to me. One of my ancestors (a Great uncle) was a man named Joseph Craig who was among the Travelling Church who came to Kentucky in 1781 fleeing Anglican persecution in Virginia. In the coming weeks, I want to offer his journal which gives a personal and unique insight in pioneer American Baptists life. Thanks to the Internet, is story is being preserved for future generations.

Chapter 1

I was born they say in Virginia the 11th day of June in the year of our Lord 1741. My father [Taliaferro Craig] inclined to the High church; my mother [Mary Hawkins Craig] had some knowledge of the Presbyterian doctrine and often reproved me for my rattling and vain joking. And when I was about eight or ten years old, I was often dreadfully afraid I should be miserable after death and was very desirous to be good. But I never had then heard the way of salvation by Christ as there were only about five or six Baptists within thirty or forty miles and no other that preached him aright. So I lived until I was married and got to be three and twenty years old.

All this time did I live (for thirteen or fourteen years) under a sense of condemnation. I was most sensible of this in the time of lightning and thunder. I used to pray often, most commonly when I was in my bed: but, when it thundered hard I was often on my knees, saying over all the prayers I knew, again and again till the thunder was past. My fears were great, that if I died before I was better, I should be lost from God forever. So I continued till one man rode to the gap where I lived and told me, if I would go and hear the Baptists they would tell me something I would like, he did believe; and some such talk. And when he went off I felt very awful and strange that I could scarcely walk! After some time the preacher came and had an appointment to preach at night. I went to hear him but nothing seemed to affect me. At length, two persons were talking together--one said to the other, the prayerbook was not scripture. That word seemed as if destroyed or took away half my religion, and left me standing on what I knew not. After some time, the preacher came again and preached several times. I followed him down about twenty miles. He preached in an old house. I had been with him and his company several days, and felt, by this time, a strong love for them; and while he preached, I stood near him and gave all attention. After he had done we returned toward our homes. On my way, I felt some solemn and awful impression on my mind; those impressions I feared to lose, I wished to say nothing to anyone, but kept praying to myself. When I got home, I stood in the yard and seemed rather afraid to go in.

My wife saw me and shed tears, and said something ailed me. The next morning the case seemed plain: It seemed as though the glory of God appeared to me, and in me; and I could see the Lord in me, and I in him (by faith); and that I was safe and happy and clothed with his glorious, all sufficient righteousness. Now I felt so safe, as though I was taken out of hell into heaven.

I almost thought God showed me my relations and near friends in the broad road to death and hell. I talked to them. Some heard me and said I was right; and some did not like it at all. I had little thought God would speak by me; I preached in a private way to all I got a chance to speak to; but particularly to our parson. He got angry at me and raised his fist at me and said he was the maddest man I ever saw when he was mad! So I persuaded three of my brothers to go about forty miles with me to the meeting to hear brother Thomas preach.

They seemed fully to fall in with the doctrine which he preached, but none of them professed conversion at that time so we returned home.

For more:
"Esteem Reproach" by Harper & Jacumin: A Review

"Baptists and Persecution in Virginia": A Lecture by Steve Weaver
Elijah Craig: A Biography Written By James B. Taylor 
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