Our Folk – Resource Materials
Compiled by Albert Douglass Hart, Jr.
EARLY METHODISM WITHIN THE BOUNDS
OF THE OLD
By George Peck
For genealogy – see Elisha Bibbins Family
Bibbins was born 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
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
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
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
afternoon he, spent the time in free and cheerful conversation. At a few minutes before
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
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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