Monday, July 16, 2012

A Mysterious Sermon

Mary F. Quinn of Hill City, Tennessee wrote about her conversion to the gospel and the mysterious sermon she heard on a cold night that played an crucial role. 

Please make room in the last column or some out of the way place for a sermon that I heard sometime before I heard the Elders preach.
I am of a very studious disposition, especially regarding the truths found in the good old Bible; truths that were taught me by my dear mother, who died about three years prior to the event I desire to narrate. 1 had been studying the Bible, trying to understand some of its hidden mysteries as taught by the Seven-Day Adventists, a doctrine I was, at that time, investigating. Prayer meeting had been dismissed, 1 knew, as I could hear the neighbors as they were returning from the Oak Hill church at Evansville, Tenn.
It was an extremely cold and bitter night in January, 1897, everything being perfectly still. I had retired to my room up stairs and finding my husband and the baby asleep, 1 soon went to bed and lay thinking, studying over what I had been reading, being unable to sleep. Suddenly I heard a low murmur as though a prayer was being uttered. I was surprised; knowing as I did, the meeting had been dismissed, and even if not, that I could scarcely hear it so far away, and yet so distinctly. I tried to divert my attention away from it, but could not, so, raising up, I lifted up the blind to learn, if I could, its source, but was unable to. I then began wondering who it could be in the Oak Hill church that could speak so distinctly, and would be out at such a late hour. I soon discovered it was not a prayer, but a clear, well delivered sermon. I then got up and raised the window but was still unable to locate the source. I tried to find out if I were really awake. I tried to center my mind on my dear mother, but could not; finally I concluded to give my whole attention to the sermon for such I found it to be. For at least an hour I lay there and listened to one of the best sermons I have ever heard in my life. It was as some one preaching in mighty power, but in such haste as though desirous of saying all possible in a given length of time. Still every point of doctrine was made as clear and simple to me, so that I could understand each idea as it was presented. The words were spoken so clearly and distinctly and yet it seemed to be so very far away. I lay there entranced sometime with my blood running cold, as I tried to fathom what it all meant. I continued to listen until the words ceased, and you may well know how upset my mind was by this time.
I dared not tell any of my folks of this mysterious sermon as they are not in the least superstitious, and I held my secret for three weeks before I told anyone. ^hen I related it to a dear, good old lady who was visiting with me. She could give me no satisfaction and about three weeks more passed away when news came that strange men were in the vicinity—men known as Mormons. Word came that they were then on their way to Oak Hill; stories of all kinds were told, but still I was not frightened, although I did wonder what kind of a race of people they were, and desired to meet them.
I did not have long to wait, for the day following I had the great pleasure of meeting the first Mormon Elders and was very agreeably surprised to find them anything but as I had heard. Elders Soren Peterson and Earnest R. Needham were their names. They left some tracts and announced a meeting in the Oak Hill church. I could not attend their first meeting, owing to a heavy rain, but I perused the tracts and literature they left with us and I felt much benefitted thereby, and thirsted for more.
I went out to hear them later and was struck with delighted amazement when I recognized the same sermon I had heard six weeks before. The same low clear tone and plain language with the same simple, yet so beautiful, in its every detail.
I went to hear them preach from time to time. Every sermon sounding so sweet to me I could not remain at home. Kind reader you may know how relieved I was to find a sequel to my mysterious sermon which so plainly foretold what I must do to be saved. I went to hear them preach on all possible occasions and I read all the books, tracts and literature, including that glorious Book of Mormon, and later my husband and I were baptised, turning our backs upon the world, taking upon ourselves the cross to face a cold-hearted world, with the promise of Jesus to never leave us alone. We were willing to he called by that despised name "Mormon," because we know this doctrine is not of man. The most blessed and beneficial day's work ever done! I can now sing "O Happy Day!" and mean just what I say.
My entire family stands united upon the Rock to face the world with an assurance of a true knowledge of this the glorious Latter Day Gospel. Joseph Smith being the worthy chosen of all the world; by and through him to roll the "stone" that Daniel saw, would fill the whole earth, preparing the way for the second coming of our Lord and Savior.
My earnest prayer is that all the honest in heart may embrace the first opportunity for accepting that which they will know is the truth as soon as they shall do the will of the Father.

Mary F. Quinn was born on Aug 13, 1863 to Joseph Lyman Brown and Dialthia Jane Travis in Rhea County, Tennessee. She married Julius P Quinn (1857-1917) in Rhea County on February 14, 1883. Julius was a laborer who specialized in carpentry. I was unable to locate records of the baby she spoke of in her story, but I did find two other children in various records including the 1900 census: Carrie L. Quinn (1885-?) and Carl H Quinn (1890-1948). The Oak Hill Church was outside the town of Evensville Tennessee in Rhea Couty.The Quinns were baptized on Aug 5, 1897, Mary by Elder James E. Hart and Julius by Milton H. Welling. By then the family was living in Hill City, a suburb of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Eighteen months later both their children were baptized too. The letter she wrote had no date, but was printed in 1899. Church records include a hand written note indicating Mary died in 23 Oct 1901, but she appears on the 1910 census and her husband's death certificate indicates she was still alive when he died in 1917.

4 comments:

Ardis said...

Wonderful find, with added value in your detective work. Thanks for posting it.

BruceCrow said...

Thank you Ardis.

Anonymous said...

Mary F and Nathaniel L were brother and sister.

Linwood Estes

lordlinwood@hotmail.com

BruceCrow said...

I had not made that connection. Thank you.

For those who don't know what Linwood is talking about, see this post.
http://amateurmormonhistorian.blogspot.com/2009/11/who-is-n-l-brown-and-why-do-i-care.html