The Pioneer Preacher: An Autobiography

By: Bristol, Sherlock; Fairchild, J.H.

Price: $50.00

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Book Condition: Very Good


First edition. Presentation slip from previous owner's teacher mounted on front endpaper, front hinge weakening. 1887 Hard Cover. viii, 330, [6] pp. Includes an introduction by J.H. Fairchild, president of Oberlin College. Sherlock Bristol was a Congregationalist clergyman who also participated in the California gold rush. Howes B1210: Includes his 1852 trip to Oregon and experiences in California and Idaho mining camps. Graff 404. Cowan p. 72. Adams, Six Guns 279: Has some material on outlawry and robbery.A benefactor enabled him to attend Oberlin College, where he came under the influence of Charles G. Finney and Asa Mahan, and from which he graduated in 1839. After one year of theological education at Yale Divinity School, he returned to Oberlin to finish at its theological school, graduating in 1842. During his last seminary year he preached at the Congregational church in Franklin, Ohio, where he remained as pastor until 1843, when Finney and Mahan persuaded him to become a fund-raiser for Oberlin College, a position he held for three years. Raising funds in New York City, he made the acquaintance of Arthur and Lewis Tappan, benefactors of evangelical and reform causes, and of Henry C. Bowen, publisher of the Independent. In 1846 he accepted a call as pastor to the Trinitarian Congregational Church of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, an antislavery congregation formed by seceders from other churches. There he stayed until probably late in 1847, when he was called to the Sullivan Street Church in New York City. During his year-long tenure at Sullivan Street, he was a delegate to the convention that formed the Free-Soil party in Buffalo, New York, in August 1848. From 16 October 1848 to 24 October 1849 Bristol was pastor of the Free Church in Andover, Massachusetts; while there, he addressed an antislavery convention in Boston. Complaining of insomnia and nervousness, Bristol was advised by his physicians that he needed a more physically active life. So he left his family in Massachusetts after ending his Andover pastorate and joined the gold rush to California. He sailed from New York to Panama, crossed the isthmus on foot, and stayed two months on the other side awaiting passage to San Francisco. When his ship was delayed, remaining at anchor on the coast near San Simeon, he and some others disembarked and went overland to the mining camps, arriving there in early June 1850. He mined gold at several camps near Marysville and then moved near Downieville, where he and a partner operated a ranch and a store. He preached frequently in the mining camps. By late autumn 185l he was in San Francisco, where he stayed briefly, and then returned to New York. After staying only a few weeks in Massachusetts with his family, he set off for the west again, so that he could invest his California gains in a homestead and preach on the frontier. He settled in Dartford, Wisconsin, where he was joined by his family, but he refused a proffered appointment by the American Home Missionary Society because it would have disallowed his working a farm at the same time, an occupation he felt necessary for his health. He served the congregational churches of Dartford, Green Lake, and Metomen concurrently from 1852 to 1858 and also led revivals in nearby towns, preaching in Methodist and Baptist churches as well as Congregational ones. In 1859 he received a call to the Congregational church in Elmwood, Illinois, where he remained until he returned to Dartford in 1861, suffering once again from nervousness. To improve his health he set out for the Oregon Territory in March 1862, joining a large wagon train of which he was elected captain, with the responsibility of scouting ahead to find suitable camps. His wagon train was several times under Indian attack, and Bristol led defensive sorties into the bush. Staying in Idaho, he mined gold near Idaho City and farmed in the Boise Valley. In December 1863 he traveled by boat down the Columbia River to Portland, Oregon, and returned to New York once more by way of San Francisco and Panama. In April 1864 he was back in Dartford, resuming his pastorate there for about a year until receiving a call from the Congregational churches in Brandon and Springvale (Ladoga), Wisconsin, where he stayed until late 1867. When Bristol's nervousness resumed, he moved to California with his family. Locating in Ventura County, he bought a homestead, farmed, and for twelve years preached throughout the Santa Clara Valley. In these California years he turned to writing, publishing in 1887 an autobiography, The Pioneer Preacher: Incidents of Interest, and Experiences in the Author's Life (reprinted with an additional chapter in 1898), and a theological treatise with the title Paracletos, or The Baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1892. Fleming H. Revell, a major publisher of evangelical literature, published both books. Copies of The Pioneer Preacher were distributed to missionaries by the American Home Missionary Society, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and the American Missionary Association and placed on ships by the Seamen's Friend Society. Bristol also wrote articles for The Pacific, a Congregationalist publication. He died at Montalvo, California. Bristol was a characteristic figure of nineteenth-century American evangelicalism and a promoter of many of its causes, with an ability to cross denominational boundaries to work with other evangelicals. He regarded a strict keeping of Sunday as the Sabbath as central to true piety; when he was captain of a wagon train headed for Oregon, he broke the group's Sabbath rest only once, to avoid an Indian attack. He committed himself to the cause of temperance while still a youth and early became an advocate of immediate abolition of slavery. Bristol especially represented the evangelical Congregationalism of New England as it was shaped by the practices and beliefs of Charles G. Finney and Oberlin College. He took the preaching of revival as his prime task, adopting Finney's direct and argumentative style as he pressed the case for conversion. A published sermon of 1903, The Sin of Not Doing, argued, as Finney had, that since one has the ability to believe, one has the duty to be converted; refusal of conversion dishonors God. Human Sinfulness, published in the year of his death, emphasized each person's responsibility for his own moral record. Bristol enthusiastically adopted the Oberlin Perfectionism of Finney and Mahan while an undergraduate, arguing for it even against the theologian Nathaniel William Taylor during the year he was a theological student in New Haven. According to this Perfectionism, it is possible for believers to be freed of willful sin. His one theological book, Paracletos, asserted and defended this Perfectionism; it also expressed a postmillennial optimism that Christian perfection, empowered by the Holy Spirit, would lead to Pentecostal revival and the millennium, a time when the earth would become a vestibule of heaven (pp. 13, 3637). A tract of 1903, An Address to the Congregational Brotherhood, attacked Congregationalist seminaries and associations for permitting infidel theology and biblical scholarship, as Bristol aligned himself with nascent fundamentalism's rejection of liberal theological trends. Bristol's Pioneer Preacher is partly spiritual autobiography and an account of his reform and revival experiences, but it is also an account of exciting adventures. Bristol presented himself as a skilled woodsman, crack shot, and mighty hunter, chasing down alligators, pumas, and feral boars in Panama and California. He boasted of triumphs over local toughs as a boy in Connecticut, over an anti-abolitionist Irish mob in Massachusetts, over threatening bullies as a backwoods preacher in Ohio, over the Tammany Hall enforcer Isaiah Rynders in New York City, and over ruffians and robbers in the mining camps of California. On the way to Oregon and in Idaho he fought Indians. In short, Bristol was a rough-and-tumble freelance frontier preacher, whose ties with the ecclesiastical establishment were loose and whose restlessness led to a career of many brief pastorates interrupted by bouts of nervousness, which he relieved by physical labor and long trips westward. (American National Biography, Dewey D. Wallace, Jr.)

Title: The Pioneer Preacher: An Autobiography

Author: Bristol, Sherlock; Fairchild, J.H.

Categories: Old West, Early Imprints, Religious,

Edition: First Edition

Publisher: New York / Chicago, Fleming H. Revell: 1887

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Very Good

Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Seller ID: 2307960

Keywords: BIOGRAPHY MEMOIR AUTOBIOGRAPHY SHERLOCK BRISTOL AMERICAN WEST GOLD RUSH CALIFORNIA IDAHO MINING CAMPS,