MATTERS at Graysville are running along about as usual. It is a quiet neighborhood and withal an agricultural community, and most people are quite busy with their spring work. The non-resident students who are attending the academy have all left for their homes. There is still some discussion about the imprisonment of the Adventists, and as to the people opinion is somewhat divided about the propriety of prosecuting under the Sunday law. The better class of citizens, the reading and thinking people, are pretty generally agreed that this is religious persecution, and that it is a shame that inoffensive citizens should be arrested and imprisoned for no other offense than doing upon Sunday, work which would be held to be entirely commendable on any other day. The Adventists themselves are pursuing the even tenor of their way as though nothing had happened.
The sheriff came to-day with warrants to arrest the following members of the Graysville Seventh-day Adventist:—
L. S. Abbott,
2 cases (now in jail).
H. C. Leach,
N. E. England,
” (now in jail).
W. J. Kerr,
” (was in jail).
E. R. Gillett,
J. M. Hall,
W. S. Burchard,
” (now in jail).
All who were found gave bonds to appear at the next term of court for trial, but there is no thought of leaving to avoid the processes of the court, and no revengeful expressions are heard concerning those who persecute them.
The fate of the petition for the release of the imprisoned Adventists, so generously signed by officials and private citizens and addressed to the County Court (a body composed of the justices of the peace of the county), is thus given in the Dayton Republican, of April 5:—
Wouldn’t Do It
THE COUNTY COURT REFUSES TO LIBERATE THE ADVENTISTS—A TIE VOTE
Monday evening the petitions asking for the release of the Adventists in jail were presented to the County Court.
Squire McPherson said if they were released now it would encourage them and more offenses would be committed and more arrests follow.
Hon. John A. Denton said that it would be money saved to the county to now release them; that they had received enough punishment; that in all other respects they were law-abiding, Christian people.
A resolution had been passed in January, 1893, by the County Court that no one should be released from jail unless recommended by the judge or justice before whom tried. Squire Hicks moved that this record be expunged. After considerable talk he withdrew his motion at McPherson’s request and court adjourned.
Tuesday morning Squire Hicks again renewed his motion to expunge the record. McPherson moved to table it, and a vote being taken, it was laid on the table by 15 to 11.
In the afternoon Squire Hicks moved to suspend the resolution referred to for the present term of court. McPherson moved to table, which was lost by 14 to 11, and Hicks’ motion being put was carried by 13 to 12.
A motion to release the Adventists was made by Squire Merritt. McPherson moved to table it, and the vote being taken it was announced as tabled by 12 to 11.
Court adjourned Tuesday evening. Wednesday afternoon it was found that the last vote was a tie—12 to 12, this discovery being made on looking over the vote on the tally sheet. Chairman pro tem, Benson, who took the ayes and noes down as cast, was in the clerk’s office when the discovery was made, and verified this by going carefully over each justice’s name and how he had voted. Mr. Benson said it was an error of his head and not the heart; that he had called McPherson to help count the vote and they had both made it 12 to 11. It is not known how Chairman Crawford would have voted on a tie vote.
The vote as cast was—
For releasing—A. M. Broyles, Keylon, Smith, Fugate, A. P. Hayes, Eli Hayes, Hicks, Mowry, Morgan, Merritt, Clouse, Baldwin—12.
Against releasing—Waterhouse, Wyrick, Trentham, Gillespie, D. E. Broyles, Benson, King, Dodd, Lillard, Monday, Torbett, McPherson—12.
Not voting—Knight, Romines, Green.
A significant incident happened, a few days since, on one of the streets of Graysville when two Adventists met. One was a deacon of the church, and, stopping, he said to the other: “Wright Raines (the man who prosecuted them) and his family are suffering for the necessaries of life. What ought we to do in this case?” The other responded: “What does the Bible say?” Simultaneously the words from the Saviour fell from the lips of both: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink.” The one who first raised the question said: “Yes, that’s right; but if we give him anything he’ll perhaps think that we are trying to buy his favor.” But the other said: “How can that be, since the trials are over, and Mr. Raines is not the prosecutor in the cases to be tried in the next term of court?” It was therefore agreed that the Scripture injunction should be followed.
The Adventists bring their religion into their daily lives to a great extent. Prayer and praise is to be daily heard in every Adventists family, and in their meetings there is a marked spirit of devotion. They are Bible Christians, and true Protestants, for the Bible is their only rule of faith and practice, and a “thus saith the Lord” is with them the end of controversy. An officer of the court said to the writer only a few days ago: “These Adventists are the best example of Rhea County, and the county would be better off if we had a thousand of them.” And yet several of them are confined in the Rhea County jail, and others are under indictment and will doubtless be imprisoned next July. But they do not repine, and will not swerve from what they regard to be their duty to God.
But this is not saying that it is easy for these people to suffer persecution. They are human and have the feelings to which human flesh is heir. Their hearts are just as tender and their affections as warm, as the hearts and affections of other people, and when the father and husband is taken away and locked up in jail, it is a cruel blow to the wife and children; but there is no repining on the part of those who are left at home. The women are not heard, as was Job’s wife, begging their husbands to curse God and die; but, on the contrary, they encourage their husbands to faithfulness, and say: “We are ready to go too when our time comes.” It is possible to go too when our time comes.” It is possible to imprison whole families, or even entire communities, of such people, but it is not possible to turn them from their allegiance to God and to his law. They can go to prison—or to death if need by—but they cannot deny their faith.