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Past and Present
Sammy Richardson; or the Zealous Irishman


Zeal without talent will effect more good than talent without zeal. An instance of the good which may be effected by humble abilities, is to be seen in the career of the simple-hearted, fervent little man, whose name stands at the head of this paper: we venture to give this familiar sobriquet, because it is one which he would not have scorned himself, and because it was the one by which he was distinguished by his friends and neighbours, who loved him dearly. He was a native of Ireland, where he was converted in his youth. He came to this country single, I think, in the fall of '24 or '25. It was about that time we first saw him at a Quarterly Meeting in the Old Framed Meeting-house.” We shall never forget his prayer in the Saturday night prayer-meeting, and his experience in the love-feast next morning. A young man, who was in an unhappy state of mind, was so cheered with his prayer, that he remarked, “If that little Irishman had kept on praying a little longer, I believe 1 should have got deliverance.’’ There was nothing remarkable in what he said, but he spoke with such a heartfelt sense of earnestness and enjoyment, that, while speaking in the love-feast, the flame spread among the people in all directions. There were several useful young exhorters in and about the town of York, at that time, but none of them equalled Sammy for being “ instant in season and out of season.”

The first camp-meeting he attended after his arrival in the country, a little staggered him at the first, as he had never seen it on that fashion in his own country; but he soon rightly concluded that it would never do to stand and look on. He was quickly, therefore, in the thickest of the battle, with his coat off, pointing penitent sinners to Christ, or pouring out strong cries and tears on their behalf. One instance of his usefulness at that meeting might be recorded. He and his friends had settled in a neighbourhood in which there was no class, and the inhabitants of which, at that time, were any thing but religious. There chanced to be one of these at the meeting, a young man of respectable, but irreligious family. His heart was stricken with conviction, and he stood looking wishfully but hesitatingly into the prayer-meeting. Sammy perceived this, and pressed him hard to show his submission to God by going forward to seek mercy and be prayed for. But as he still lingered, Sammy did the part of the angels to Lot and his family, he “ laid hold of him.” Seizing him around the waist, lie literally pitched him within “ the ring,” as it was then called. The ice being broken, the young man began to seek God for salvation. With what success at the meeting I cannot exactly say ; but this I know, that the same jToung man died in peace only ten days after the meeting was over, thus justifying the unusual method taken to 11 pluck him as a brand from the burning.”

That was the commencement of a work of God which issued in raising up a society which has existed with more or less prosperity to the present time. A chapel was erected after some years, which still stands. Sammy was the leader, I believe, till the day of his death, and is embalmed in the memory of his friends. And several of that society are useful Local Preachers in other parts of the country.

The writer has not the materials for a consecutive history of his friend, nor can he give the particulars of his death, beyond this, that he knows he lived faithfully and died happily. But a few instances of his fidelity and zeal may be given as a willing tribute to his memory on the part of the writer; and may be incentives to others to activity in the cause of Christ. Sammy was passing along one day, on 'his way from a neighbourhood in which he taught a school to the one in which his relatives resided, when, being thirsty, he called into a little house by the road side, in a neighbourhood settled mostly by people from the old country, and in which there was no preaching. After asking for and receiving a drink of water, he inquired if they “loved Jesus.” This soon brought the old man of the house, who was a backslider, from Ireland, first to tears, and then upon his knees. After a season of melting prayer, the old gentleman was reminded of his sick son, in a house at the top of the hill, whom he invited what appeared to him the almost angelic stranger, to visit. The stranger readily complied, and was soon praying by the side of the sick man, who had been a leader and exhorter himself in other days, but who was then bitterly mourning his “ leanness,” and crying out, “ Oh that it were with me as in the days that are past.” Sammy made an appointment for prayer and exhortation on his return to his school on the following Sabbath. He left an appointment for the following Sabbath after that, to be held by a friend of his, a young Irishman, lately out, then very zealous for God, who used to fly over the country like a hart, to publish a Saviour’s love. The second appointment was duly kept. At the third meeting, the writer was present by invitation, and made his first attempt to exhort. This meeting was kept up by the spontaneous zeal of a few pious lads for two years before a preacher went near them. There were no Local Preachers' Plans in those days. But the sick man was restored in body and soul. An awakening commenced which resulted in a number of conversions, and when the stationed preacher went out from York one Sunday afternoon, and preached among them, he had the satisfaction of joining no less than twenty-nine believers in class. That sick man is now in the evening of his days a gentleman of a highly respectable social position, and a Local Preacher. And one of the converts in that little revival, has been for many years a truly efficient Wesleyan Minister—the Eev. John Lever.

Sammy was truly instant in season and out of season. The writer remembers his being kindly conducted by a young man through a piece of woods, after nightfall, to the house of a friend which he was anxious to reach. The young man was not converted. When we arrived at our place of destination, who should be there but Sammy. It was Saturday night, and he had come thus far, a distance of some miles from his own house, on his way to his Sabbath appointments. I was glad to meet him. Soon an animated conversation sprung up, on experimental religion, sudden conversions, revivals, and the Lord’s wonderful doings that he had seen in various parts of the land. My guide became interested and somewhat impressed; and when the hour for family devotion arrived, Sairmy did not forget to remember him in prayer; and while the writer followed in prayer at his bidding, Sammy walked across the room on his knees, and began to point him to Christ and urge him to seek the Lord with all his heart. I am not prepared to say it issued in the young man’s conversion at that time; but if it did not, it was not from any want of fidelity on the part of the hero of my story.

An instance of a more successful effort was related to the writer by Sammy, on I he afternoon of the day on which it happened. I had spent four months on a bush circuit to the west of the capital, and was ordered by ccnnexional authority a hundred and twenty miles to the east. This journey we had to perform on horseback. It was a squally, half-rainy "half-snowy afternoon in the fall of 1828, that we were splashing our way through seas of muddy water, in a dreary sort of mood, without an umbrella, for our apology for one had turned completely inside-out by the first gust that swept the street after we left our mother’s door, in the town of York, on which we just rode back, pitched the wreck into the house, and rode on without it. It was a maxim with us in those days, that as we were neither sugar nor salt, a little water would not melt us. Well, as I was saying, as I rode along, splash, splash, moody enough, I met Sammy's ever joyous face, like a gleam of sunshine through the surrounding gloom. Sammy withdrew from the raising of the log-house at which he was assisting, and came to “bring us on our journey,” for a short distance at least, after a truly “ godly sort.” He told me that that morning he had gone to a neighbour’s to borrow the use Of a yoke of oxen; but forgetting his errand, he had begun to talk to him about his soul, and finding him in distress, they both went upon their knees, and continued to pray till, to use Sammy’s words, “the Lord set his soul at liberty.” Ho gave us his blessing, and we went on our way rejoicing. To his kind directions I owed my comfortable quarters that night, in the shanty of a pious new settler, in the front of Pickering, where I slept with a pile of corn husks at my head.

Soon after this, Sammy married; and the writer had the pleasure of twice enjoying his hospitality in his journeys up and down the country. These were our only interviews with our heavenly minded friend, till he exchanged mortality for life. Our last was in the winter of *37, when the country was in a disturbed state after the rebellion. We arrived at a late hour, but met a cordial welcome. We had a season of delightful intercourse throughout the evening. Before the morning light, we rose, poured out our souls together in prayer, and the writer went on his way, never more to see his friend on earth. Peace to thy memory, simple, loving, praying Sammy!


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