In Daniel Trabue’s memoirs of his life written in 1827 he told about the oppression of religious freedom in early America. Several Baptist preachers were imprisoned but they continued to preach to large crowds gathered outside to hear them. Eventually the local people persuaded a majority of those on the court to give the imprisoned preachers their bounds. This was an area used for exercise in the courtyard of the jail.
The jailer offered Joseph Anthony and William Webber an opportunity to escape.
“We were arrested in an official manner so we should be released the same way,” Anthony said. “We will not run.”
In 1773, Patrick Henry secured a court order to have John Weatherford released. Another preacher, Jeremiah Walker, made an impassioned plea and was allowed to go free under the Toleration Act. Soon all of the preachers were released. Their imprisonment had actually helped their cause.
Meanwhile, like Christian, the main character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Daniel Trabue searched for salvation.
“I was very much convicted for three or four years, praying often and reading the scriptures,” Trabue wrote. “I also read other good books like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Many precious sermons were preached but I found no comfort for my poor soul. After a while I became careless and hardened. I quit praying and got away from religion.”
Trabue wrote that at the age of 17 he became very ill and had a severe fever. His thoughts returned to religion.
“I was in a dreadful misery,” Trabue penned. “Everyone thought I was dangerously sick. My dreams were dreadful and I had awful apprehensions, a great horror of judgment day.”
Trabue said he prayed to God to spare his life and make him well. He promised in turn to mend his ways and serve the Lord. Soon he regained his health and enlisted in the army. It wasn’t long before he forgot his promise to God.
“I tucked that away in the back of my mind and soon forgot all about it,” Trabue wrote later. “Cursing, swearing, frolicking, carousing and dancing got a hold on me. At times my conscience bothered me but after a while I became so hardened that I could laugh and make fun of the religious people.”
Trabue went to Richmond, Virginia, to make preparations to travel to the new settlement in Kentucky. As he was returning to his mother’s home he became concerned for his safety. He recalled making promises to God in the past… promises he hadn’t fulfilled. It weighed even more heavily on his mind at this particular time. He felt his judgment time could be at hand and fretted that God may not listen to his pleas as he hadn’t followed through on his promises to God before. Then just as suddenly the following words came to him.
“Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee,” he heard, seemingly from nowhere. He thought Judgment Day was at hand.
Trabue said he felt condemned and didn’t know what to do. Upon returning home he was trembling and could not sleep. The following day he went into the woods to meditate and hopefully find an answer for his plight but he could not find any peace. That night there was a meeting nearby with his cousin, Ben Watkins, doing the preaching.
“He told me that Jesus had come to save the lost and the helpless,” Trabue wrote. “I asked him to pray for me. I felt I had been so wicked that the door of mercy was shut on me forever. I had been a wicked rebel. At the meeting the following night I prayed to God to direct and guide me.”
Trabue wrote of the sincerity of all of those who were present. Several were converted that night but he still could find no peace within himself.
“For several days I slept but very little,” Trabue said. “I continued to search for an answer until finally these words came into my mind.
`Stand still and see the salvation of God.’ I then found the peace that I had sought. I had looked so hard, thinking that the answer was so complex. But then the answer was right before me the whole time. A dark cloud was lifted off of me.”
Trabue was very eloquent in the description of his newfound salvation.
“In my imagination I saw the great salvation of Jesus Christ to save a lost world,” Trabue wrote. “It was unspeakable and full of glory. It was no wonder that saints, angels and all heavenly Hosts praised, worshiped and adored him. He was King of kings, Lord of lords, alpha and omega, the Almighty.”
He went to a revival meeting that night.
“I heard the most beautiful singing by the preachers and brethren I had ever heard,” he later wrote. “A poor old man and woman sang such a pretty melody. I could see the Savior in them.”
Trabue felt compelled to cry out “free grace” during the preacher’s sermon. He wrote that he didn’t understand why all the people were not praising and glorifying the Lord since the plan of salvation was so plainly in view.
Later that night Daniel told his mother, brothers and sisters of his salvation. He then went to the home of his in-laws and told them.
“In a few days I was baptized by Rev. G. M. Smith along with more than 20 others,” Trabue recalled. “A great revival followed and many of my relations and neighbors professed religion and were baptized.
“I soon took my family to Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap. My wife was baptized by Rev. John Taylor at the Clear Creek meeting house.”
Daniel Trabue lived the remainder of his years abiding by God’s word. His writings of his life and that of his family provides an important look at that bygone era. Much can be learned from it even today.
Copyright Jadon Gibson 2019
Editor’s note; Jadon Gibson, a graduate of Caney Junior College (now Alice Lloyd College) and UK, is a freelance writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read periodically at bereaonline.com. Don’t miss a single posting!