JOSEPH THOMAS, THE WHITE PILGRIM 1791 Born, March 7 1798 Separated from his father and mother and lived “under a strange and inhospitable roof” in hope of attending school. 1800 His brother took him into his home and put him in school. 1803 Attended school in Giles county, “kept by Mr. R. Curry, an excellent teacher.” 1806 Returned home and deeply convicted of sin at a camp-meeting under the preaching of William Guirey. 1807 After much private prayer he received “evidence of pardon”. Felt he was chosen to preach the gospel and suffer persecution and tribulation. 1807 Attempted to join Methodists, Freewill Baptists and Presbyterians but did not receive encouragement as a preacher. Benjamin Rainey taught him the “doctrines and government of the Christians” 1809 Became a member of the church and began to preach. At General Conference in Raleigh he was “baptized” by John O’Kelly (poured). Licensed to preach. Met Rice Haggard at Grayson County. . “I found him to be of strong intellect, and of profound piety. “He exhorted me to be faithful, and the Lord would make me useful. I loved him and received with joy his counsels.” Planned a tour of the West with Haggard but took sick. At Liberty meeting house he met James O’Kelly and traveled several days with him. 1810 Visited John Mulkey. “I held two days meeting at brother Mulky's. Here I was met by my dear brother Dooly. “We had a crowded house on Saturday. The people felt the weight and power of truth.” 1811 Ordained to preach. Visited Cane Ridge. “I returned to Lexington, where I met with five preachers of the christian church, one of whom was B. W. Stone. This evening he delivered a sermon on the pre-existence of Jesus Christ.” After tour he went to Philadelphia and was immersed. 1812 Married Christiana Ritttenour. Purchased a home in Orange County, N. C.. 1813 Sold farm and moved to Madison County, Ohio. 1814 Put off “fashionable clothing” and “dressed agreeably to the impression of his mind in white”. Hence his name of the “White Pilgrim. 1815 Published the “Pilgrim’s Hymn Book” Thro’ Ev’ry Age, Eternal God (Sung to tune of “Sun of my Soul”) Thro' ev'ry age, eternal God, Thou art our rest, our safe abode High was thy throne, e'er heaven was made, Or earth thy humble footstool laid! When Jesus Calls Us To His Arms (To tune of “Amazing Grace” Why should we mourn departing friends, Or shake at death's alarms? Tis but the voice that Jesus sends, To call us to his arms. Are we not tending upward too, As fast as time can move? Nor should we wish the hours more slow, To keep us from our love. The graves of all his saints be blest, And soften'd every bed- Where should thy dying members rest But with their dying head? 1835 After visiting New York, he was took smallpox while walking through the streets. “Now with this smallpox I fear I shall never see my family again.” “Every possible comfort was administered to him, but the skill of physicians and the aid of friends was baffled. “We entertained strong hopes of his recovery until one or two of the last days of his life. His earthly sufferings were closed on Thursday, the ninth of this month. “ He is buried in Johnsonburg, New Jersey. Joseph Thomas Minister of the Gospel of the Christian Church Known as the “WHITE PILGRIM,” by reason of wearing white raiment Died April 9th, 1835, Aged forty-four Years, one month and two days. Thomas’ Wife’s Response “When I joined him in matrimony I agreed never to stand in his way in preaching the gospel, “and I have reason to be thankful that God has to this day enabled me with all cheerfulness. . . “To aid him by my prayers, industry and economy to continue and extend his itinerant labors over the world. “He has suffered much for Jesus’ sake, for the salvation of perishing sinners he has sacrificed the world. . . “I have gladly suffered with him for the sake of Jesus, and I strongly hope I shall be a sharer of his reward in heaven.” “Let all sisters who have preaching husbands, whose hearts burn with the holy fire of the ancient evangelist, give them up to God, and be willing to partake of their sufferings that they may share their reward. I remain the Pilgrim’s wife. . . “ THE WHITE PILGRIM Words by John Ellis, 1838, upon visiting the grave of Joseph Thomas 1.I came to the place where the lone pilgrim lay, And pensively stood by the tomb, When in a low whisper I heard something say, How sweetly I sleep here alone! 2. The tempest may howl, and the loud thunder roar, And gathering storms may arise, But calm is my feeling, at rest is my soul The tears are all wiped from my eyes. 3. The cause of my Master compelled me from home, No kindred or relative nigh; I met the contagion, and sank to the tomb, My soul flew to mansions on high 4. O tell my companion and children most dear, To weep not for me now I'm gone; The same hand that led me through scenes most severe, Has kindly assisted me home.
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