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Elisha Bibbins

 

Excerpt From:

EARLY METHODISM WITHIN THE BOUNDS

OF THE OLD GENESEE CONFERENCE FROM 1788 TO 1828

By George Peck

 

For genealogy – see Elisha Bibbins Family

 

Elisha Bibbins was born in Hampton, Washington county, N. Y., July 16, 1790, and died at

Scranton, Pa., on the 6th of July, 1859, of disease of the heart, aged about sixty-nine years. He was

converted November 8, 1805, under the labors of Rev. Bradley Silleck; was licensed to preach in

January, 1812. and was admitted on trial in the Genesee Conference in July of the same year. He

was for twelve years of his ministry in the effective ranks, three years a supernumerary, and,

including the present year, thirty-two years a superannuated preacher. He, however, did much

valuable service in the way of filling vacancies during the years of his superannuation. During this

period he preached many sermons, and won many souls to Christ. The last twenty years of his life

he spent in the state of Illinois. His strong attachments to his old friends, and a desire once more to

visit the fields of his early toils, led him to form the resolution to be present at the session of the

Wyoming Conference to be held in Newark Valley. This purpose he executed, although he was

very feeble; so much so that perhaps prudence would have dictated his remaining at home in the

bosom of his family.

 

He met his old friends and fellow laborers with the genial spirit, the same hearty "God

speed" which characterized his early conference associations. He considered it his last visit, but

still bade the brethren "farewell" without any indications of gloomy forebodings.

Soon after the close of the conference Dr. Everets, of Nichols, after a thorough examination

of his case, informed him that there was every evidence that his heart was diseased, and he would

die suddenly. The information did not startle him in the least, although it seemed to be new. His

cheerfulness abated not for a moment, and he subsequently referred to this medical opinion as one

well founded, but with no other remark than, "I am trying to be ready for the summons."

He traveled slowly, and with intervals of rest, with his friends, through Bradford county to

Tunkhannock, where he spent the 4th of July. Here the blandness of his manners, and the freedom

of his intercourse with the people, excited great admiration.

 

On the morning of the 5th, rather suddenly, he resolved that day to visit the writer at his

home in Scranton. At eleven o'clock A.M. of that day he was seated in our study. During the

afternoon he, spent the time in free and cheerful conversation. At a few minutes before ten o'clock

he prayed with us and retired. The house was alarmed in the night by a call from his room. We

hastened to him with a light, and found him in a violent paroxysm of coughing, and freely

expectorating blood. He was in a severe chill, and expressed a desire to be where there was fire.

We immediately removed him to our room, kindled a fire in the stove, and sent for a physician.

Medical aid relieved his sufferings, and he seemed disposed to sleep. We staid by his side for a

short time, and when we next noticed him, which was at early dawn, he had quietly fallen asleep in

Jesus. He had not changed his position in the least, and from every appearance died without the

disturbance of a muscle. A post mortem examination verified the opinion of Dr. Everets; he died of

ossification of the heart.

 

The Rev. Elisha Bibbins was a man of good natural abilities. His powers of perception

were quick, and his reasoning faculties vigorous. His sensibilities were strong and well

disciplined. He had a strong sense of the ludicrous. He readily formed unusual associations, and

exhibited a striking tendency to wit 'and humor, a tendency which showed itself to the very last. He

was "capable of the most biting sarcasm, but seldom indulged this dangerous faculty to the

annoyance of his friends. His cuts' were usually modified by so much good humor that they

inflicted no pain. He was a man of great energy of character and great industry. He was always in

earnest. It was this which gave almost overwhelming power to his sermons, exhortations, and

prayers. He was a good theologian, but a better preacher. In his best moods and his highest flights

he poured out a torrent of eloquence which would mt the very rocks. He was a good singer, and in

his prime his singing had fire and power in it, and was often the means of awakening and

conversion.

 

Many souls were brought to Christ by the instrumentality of this zealous and faithful

minister of the Gospel. The fruit of his labor is thickly scattered over the fields which he occupied

as a pastor or as a temporary laborer. Influential members of the Church, and ministers of high

standing, now doing good service, acknowledge him as their spiritual father. The Rev. George

Landon, on the occasion of his funeral, gave an interesting account of his awakening and

conversion, and in the most affecting language claimed the man whose mortal remains lay before

the desk as the means, under God, of that great change. So literally true is it that "he being dead yet

speaks," in and through those "living epistles, known and read of all men," who were redeemed

from sin and death through his instrumentality.

 

He was of medium size, well formed, with a prominent nose, a piercing but benignant eye,

of a nervous temperament, and but for the excess of the sensitive in his nature might have done

good service down to old age and enjoyed good health. But the sword was too sharp for the

scabbard. The fire within consumed him. His great efforts in revivals early reduced a splendid

physical organism to a wreck; still there was life in him, which manifested itself in efforts to do

something for God and the world to the close of life.

 

His piety was sincere, deep, and earnest. He prayed without ceasing, and trusted in God.

His religion was of the hopeful, cheerful cast. I have known him under great pressures, but never

knew him to lose heart. In poverty and want, in sickness and sufferings, he was happy, often

buoyant and even playful. He had a young soul in him, and was a brother and companion even to

the children when he was old and gray-headed. He enjoyed himself, enjoyed the world, and

enjoyed God, in spite of a hard lot and many adverse winds. He was a man of a thousand, a man of

noble impulses, of a great soul, of a genial nature, of a lofty spirit, of a strong will, and of

inexhaustible patience. As a husband, a father, a brother, and a friend, he occupies an elevation

which few have reached. He rests from his toils and his works follow him.

 

 


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