Barton Stone preaches at Mansker’s Station, August-September 1796

Part third, a continuation from Barton Stone enroute to Nashville, August 1796

Among other settlements visited by us, was that on Mansker’s creek.  Here we often preached to respectable and large assemblies, from a stand erected by the people in a shady grove.  At the same time a dancing master was lecturing the youth in the neighborhood in his art.  This I evidently saw was drawing their attention away from religion.  I spoke my mind publicly and freely against it.  Some of the youth withdrew from his lectures, which highly exasperated the teacher.  He swore he would whip me the next time I preached there.  I came to my appointment, and so did he with a band of ruffians, armed with clubs, and stood in a half circle before me while preaching in striking distance.  Unappalled at their menaces, I proceeded in my discourse, nor did I forger the dancers, but drubbed them without mercy.  The bandit soon saw that the gaze of the congregation was upon them.  Like [23] cowards, they sneaked off, one by one, and disappeared.

At the same place, and at a another time, I was publicly attacked by an old deist, immediately after I had closed my discourse, and descended from the stand.  He walked up to me, and said, I suppose you know me, sir.  No, sir, said I, I have no knowledge of you.  I am Burns, the celebrated deist of this neighborhood.  Mr. Burns, said I, I am sorry to hear you boast of your infidelity sorry, sir, inform me, what is a deist?  Said he, the man that believes there is but one God.  Sir, said I, this is my belief, taught me bu the Bible.  But, sir, what is the character of your God?  I believe, said he, that he is infinitely good, just, and merciful.  Whence, Mr. Burns, did you gain this information?  From the book of nature, said he.  Mr. Burns, please to show me the page in that book which declares that God is infinitely good.  Why, said he, all nature declares it.  We see the traces of goodness everywhere; hence I conclude that God, the great governor of the universe, is infinitely good.  Mr. Burns, please turn your eye upon the opposite page of your book, and see the miseries, and attend to the groans of the millions, who are suffering and dying every moment.  You must conclude, from your own premises, that God the great governor of the universe, is also infinitely evil and malevolent.  Your God, Mr. Burns, is infinitely good, and infinitely evil–a perfect contradiction!  You must be an atheist Mr. Burns, not a deist.  You said also, that your book taught you that God was infinitely just.  Please show me the page in your book that teaches this doctrine.  Said he, it is evident from this, that there is a principle of justice in every man: therefore I conclude that God the Maker of all men, must be infinitely just.  Mr. Burns, I can show you in your own book as many men of unjust principles, as you can men of just principles.  Then it follows from your premises, that God, the Maker, is infinitely just, and infinitely unjust.  Surely, mr. Burns, atheism is your creed! [24] But, sir, look here, on this page of your book.  Here is a good citizen, a good husband, a good father, acknowledge such by all; yet his whole life is full of suffering, pain, and want.  Here also is a bad citizen, a bad husband, a bad father, and wallows in wealth.  How can you reconcile this with the infinite justice of God, the great governor of the universe?  Mr. Burns’s lips quivered; the whole congregation intensely listening.  O, says he, just rewards will be given in another world.  But, mr. burns, your book nowhere teaches this doctrine; you have stolen it from our Bible.  Sir, said he, I will see you at another time, and retired in confusion, the congregation smiling approbation at his defeat.

to be continued…

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