This Week in Texas Methodist History January 10
James A. Smith Preaches His First Sermon at Webb’s Chapel, January 1847
Readers will be interested in this memoir from the early history of Methodism in Dallas.
In January, 1847, in company with my family and several other Methodist families, we arrived in Texas, and settled in Peters’ Colony. We found to our joyful surprise that Methodism had preceded us. A small class, ren or twelve in number had been organized and a little chapel, built by Brother Isaac B. Webb, and his neighbors on Farmer’s Branch called Webb’s Chapel.
In this little log-house I preached my first sermon in Texas, to a small but very attentive praying congregation. I soon found that I would have no excuse fro idleness in Texas. Applications were made from various neighborhoods for preaching, and I soon had as many appointments as I could fill once a month on Sabbath.
The next year Brothers Biggs and Cole were sent to this circuit to travel and preach for us ==both men of faith and prayer. They labored faithfully for several months with very little apparent success; but, honor to God, a time of great refreshing was at hand, and the seed sown by his servants with toil and tears was destined to produce abundant fruit. About the middle of November they appointed a meeting to commence on Friday evening, and continue Saturday and Sunday. At the very commencement of this meeting, an unusual solemnity and deep interest seemed to pervade the entire congregation, and on Saturday there was evidently a prospect for a most glorious revival; but they weather was unfavorable, cloudy and cold. Our little chapel was open—no chimney or stove--and it became a serious question whether we would not have to break up our meeting, though, greatly against the feelings and wishes of all. In this emergency we had a striking example of what devoted heart can and will do, and what sacrifices it will make for the glory for God and the salvation of souls.
No sooner did Brother and Sister Webb learn the subject of our consultation, than they immediately entered their formal protest against any such thing, declaring that they would empty their little cabin, (fourteen feet square) put their beds and table our in the yard, and give up their domestic comfort, keep a good fire on the hearth, and the meeting should go on.
In short, all was done as well as said, and the meeting did go on, and one of the most glorious and happy meetings that it has been my privilege to witness was the result. Day and night, for six days, the meeting was kept up. Preaching was pleasant task. Mourners came forward, weeping and calling for mercy. The Lord was in Zion, for her King was in her midst. There was balm in Gilead, a great Physician there, and not less than twenty-two sin-sick souls were made whole, and glorified God their Savior.
This beginning of revivals in Peters’ Colony is due, under God, to the humble prayers and faithful labors as well as pious examples of a few pioneers, who when they came to Texas, did not forget their religion or their Church privileges.
The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.
James A. Smith.