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قراءة كتاب The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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‏اللغة: English
The Deacon of Dobbinsville
A Story Based on Actual Happenings

The Deacon of Dobbinsville A Story Based on Actual Happenings

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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the window, as you may well suppose. This window was known to roguish boys as "Deacon Window" and not even the bravest of these boys dared peep through this window during services as was their custom in the case of the other windows.

Perhaps it is needless to say that the uninterrupted presence of Gramps had a profound influence upon the service. No preacher dared to fail to recognize his dignity. As well as being an officer in the church he was the heaviest contributor to its collections. He had a very curious habit of twitching his right ear when the preacher said something that did not just set well with him, and it naturally followed that every pastor who ever served Mount Olivet fell into the habit of watching Gramp's ear, and of course the sermon was governed accordingly. Thus "According to the deacon's ear," came to be a by-word through the community.

Well, as I have already said, Deacon Gramps sat on his plow-handles. Just as he turned to unfasten the trace-chains from the plow to drive his horses to the barn, he saw two men climbing over the whitewashed fence that led from the barn toward the Church on the hill. Seeing these men were coming towards him, he resumed his position on the plow-handles and waited for them. As the two men drew near, he recognized in them the familiar features of Deacon Brown and Deacon Jones.


CHAPTER III

Jake Benton was a member of Mount Olivet Church and had been for twenty-seven years. Jake was a man of ordinary natural intelligence, but like most of his neighbors was utterly ignorant as far as literary training is concerned. He naturally had deep religious sentiments. Under proper teaching he doubtless would have pressed his way into a genuine experience of salvation and would have lived a consistent Christian life, but under the unwholesome teachings of Mount Olivet he had given himself over to a mighty religious drift and had drifted far away from God and was completely destitute of redeeming grace. Oh, to be sure, he testified regularly at the church services and gave of his limited means toward the church's support, but he was a man of uncontrollable temper and was well versed in the art of old-fashioned fist-fighting. But his profession had become a burden to him, and he had often wondered if there were no possibility of extracting some joy out of the juiceless lemon of his profession.

Now, it so happened one summer that Deacon Cramps had a large drove of cattle ranging on the hills about thirty miles to the southeast of Mount Olivet community. This drove of cattle consisted of a thousand head, and it became necessary that the Deacon employ some trustworthy person to herd the cattle and prevent them from scattering, or being stolen by cattle-thieves who sometimes visited that section. Since Jake Benton was known as an upright man and was a brother in the church, Deacon Cramps offered him the position. Out of pure financial necessity Jake accepted.

This was some years before the rubber-tired automobile had invaded the flint hills of this section and thirty miles meant hours of toilsome travel. Thus it was necessary that Jake take along a camping outfit and remain all summer. This he decided to do. Many and long were the hours that Jake spent in this lonely mountain retreat. For miles around there was little sign of human activity. No sound of woodman's ax was heard. The stillness of the long summer afternoons was broken only by the tinkling of the bells on the hillsides. A lone log cabin lifted its mud-chinked walls from the brow of a hill from under which flowed a babbling stream of clear water. In the attic of this lone cabin Jake Benton was regularly lulled to sleep by the evening lullabies of the katydids as they sang in the tops of the postoak trees with which the cabin was surrounded.

One August afternoon when Jake returned from his regular roundup of the cattle, he found, seated on a log near the spring, two men. At the sight of the men Jake's heart leaped into his mouth. For two months he had not laid his eyes on a human form. He had heard no human voice save his own. Needless to say, he was as much pleased as surprised to find companions in his lonely abode. Jake neared the log where the men sat. One of them arose and advanced toward him. "I trust," he remarked, "that you will not think we are trespassing on your premises. We have been traveling all day; our horses were tired and we were thirsty, and the spring invited us to be refreshed." For a moment Jake stood speechless, and then in almost forgotten terms he made his unexpected visitors feel welcome.

The three men conversed for some time, and in the course of the conversation Jake explained to them the reason for his lonely life and the circumstances that caused him to be thus engaged. The strangers explained that they were driving across the State, and that, in order to make their journey fifty miles shorter, they had been instructed to take this untraveled road through this expanse of wooded hills.

"I should think," remarked one of the men, "that this would be a splendid place to meditate on the goodness of God. Loneliness often begets meditation, and God loves to be the companion of the companionless. Then, too, there is all this nature with which you are surrounded. These flowers and trees and birds all speak of the goodness of God. I was remarking to my fellow traveler of how these beautiful scenes remind us of God's goodness. Pardon a frank question, but may I ask, Are you saved?"

This was all new language to Jake and he scarcely knew how to answer this rather blunt question. "Wu-wu-well, ye-yes," he answered. "I try to be a Christian. I belong to the church and have belonged for twenty-seven years and accordin' to the preachin' we have I think I'll get to heaven. I s'pose you fellers must be preachers."

"Yes, we are preachers," remarked the other. "We have consecrated our lives to the blessed service of Christ and our greatest delight is in preaching his gospel and telling others of the wonders of his grace. There can be no higher calling than that of telling of the saving grace of God. For fifteen years I was a cold professor of religion, but I lacked vital salvation. I belonged to the church and paid the preacher, and somehow I thought I would get through all right. I sinned more or less every day and did not know that I could be saved from sin. In fact, I never had been converted. I tried to live a Christian life, but I was powerless. After fifteen years of this miserable existence I got a new vision of things. God removed the scales from my eyes and I saw my lost condition. I saw myself in an entirely new light. I wept before God because of my sins. I was made very conscious that unless I was saved from my sins they would damn me in hell forever. My churchianity and my self-righteousness and my morality looked ridiculous when I saw myself a sinner in the sight of God. I came to God and poured out my soul in bitter repentance, and said, 'Save me, or I perish.' I promised him that I would forsake my sins, make my wrongs right, and walk in the light. I read in 1 John 1:9, 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Well, I confessed my sins and forsook them, and God for Christ's sake pardoned all my sins. Praise His name. The joy and peace that filled my soul were unspeakable. I was a new man. I loved everybody, even my bitter enemies. Christ, in all his blessed reality, came into my heart as an abiding companion. Some time after my conversion, through a holiness paper, which fell into my hands, and through reading the Bible, which had become a new book to me, I learned that it was possible for me to be wholly sanctified and to have the Holy Spirit as an abiding comforter. Oh, the joy of this blessed life. Its glories are untold."

Poor Jake stood amazed. He had never heard anything like this before. He burst out, "If that's religion, I confess I hain't got none; and to be plain, I ain't much inclined to believe such

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