Monday, November 1, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- More from Rev. I. E. Bill's Memoirs

The Billtown, Nova Scotia Baptist Church
The Little Red Convertible, my daughter and I in 2007
This is the third part of a set of blog posts transcribing Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill's memoirs. In the first two blog posts I included the first sections where he described his genealogy and immediate family in Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. In this part of his memoir he describes his young adulthood and his religious conversion to the Baptist faith. There are a few words I could not decipher, marked with ??

In these paragraphs Reverend Bill recounts his baptism into his new faith, and some of the first religious meetings held in the Billtown Baptist Church (see the photo above). This was when he first began to think about entering the ministry. Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill lived from 1805 to 1891, and preached all over the Canadian Maritime Provinces, Eastern United States and in the United Kingdom.

"My Conversion

Notwithstanding this early training in Christian doctrine my heart was light in the sight of God. The ?? of my mother were repeated but with a cold heart and thoughtless tongue. I entered upon the social drama at an early age, and with those much older in years than myself, but ?? to perform my part in scenes of worldly mirth and pleasure in a style quite in advance of my years and to an extent that portended fearful results. When about 18 years of age Rev. Edward Manning, then in the full tide of his fulfillment as the Reverend pastor of the Cornwallis Church in the course of his pastoral visits came to our house as he was accustomed to do to spend the night. During the evening he took occasion when in a room by ourselves to speak to me about the concerns of my soul. His words came home to my heart and conscience with such a melting tenderness that I hastened from his side out in the darkness of the night to cry upon ?? and from a broken heart for the first time in my life. “Lord be merciful to me a sinner” this was all I could say but it was enough for it was a full recognition of my vileness in the sight of infinite purity and of the necessity of pardoning mercy. These convictions continued for months, sometimes deep and frequent but occasionally ?? ??? of indulgence in worldly mirth but only to return with redoubled force. In the progress of these varying exercises of ??? I attended a meeting held by Rev. F. H. Harding in a private residence. He preached from the words of ?? the ?? being confident of this very thing that he hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. The sermon was ?? with the Spirits Power and produced a deep impression on my mind. It was in vain that I sought any longer to conceal my concern for my soul’s eternal welfare. I returned to my home resolved no to rest until I should find peace with God. In this frame of mind I retired to my bedchamber not to rest, but to plead with the Lord Jesus for the salvation of my lost soul. The burden of sin was intolerable to bear, but the condemnation was just and if it came in all the permanence of eternal burnings I could only say Amen. The struggle was desperate the agony intense but in an unexpected moment deliverance came and there was calm and peaceful resignation to the divine will. Hope in the all sufficient Saviour took possession of my soul and I felt that God for Christ’s sake had blotted out my sins and accepted me as his own child. It was a new faith a new hope a New World. Old things had passed away and all things had become new.

But I said, this wondrous change, I must keep to myself? I may not be true conversion and I must wait until I know that it is right. But the flame burnt within and could not be long concealed. I ventured first of all to tell a beloved brother while working in the field the substance of what I had experienced, charging him most securely not to mention it to a human being, but with streaming eyes he replied “my brother, that which has been done in secret will soon be proclaimed upon the house top.” And so it came to pass that in a short time I came to long for angelic wings and for a trumpet tongue to proclaim to saints and sinners everywhere the wonders of God’s redeeming love.

A conference meeting was held on Saturday in the Billtown church, a house which had just been erected for the worship of God, and Father Manning the pastor was present. I attended but had ?? to speak. I went from the meeting to my closet to plead with God for support and guidance. It was thought I might come forward the next morning, and therefore a meeting was appointed to hear from young converts. I consulted ??? and the ?? said “Go forward my son and God go with you,” Hundreds came and for the first time in my life I opened my lips in the great congregation to tell what God had done for my soul. In those days it was quite unusual to see a young man who had been so deeply immersed in worldly pleasures standing up for Jesus. The impression was overpowering. The old Christians were filled with joy and gave me a most cordial welcome some were awakened than and there to a sense of their sin and ?? and the good work of God went forward with deepening power.

On that holy Sabbath day I, with 14 others, was, by Father Manning buried in the placid water of the beautiful lake of Billtown, in the likeness of the Saviour ?? and was raised up in the likeness of his resurrection. Joyful day, soul hath it still in remembrance. That was in the summer of 1824. In the joy of my heart I imagined that life henceforth was to the ?? ??? sun shine, but in a far ?? temptations, sharp and severe assailed me. I fell from the heights of Christian joy to the depths of despair. Hope was gone and my profession vain. I tried to pray, but the heavens were ??. There was no access. The soul seemed to rise in rebellion against the God that made me. Why did he allow me to go so far as to make an open profession of a faith which I did not possess? Why did he create me a human being and if he would only allow me to change places with a beast or bird or fish or insect any thing that had no immortal soul. I cared not what. For three days and nights I was in the horrors of despair, but one bright morning as I entered upon the duties of the day sending up a cry to heaven for mercy the light of the knowledge of the glory of God ??….??? Christ came streaming into my darkened soul. Redemption alone by the blood of the Lamb, justification and acceptance alone by the ?? ?? of the Lord Jesus came before me with all the brightness of a morning star. Doubts and fears were scattered to the winds, and the soul was filled with joy unutterable and full of glory.

I now began to feel strange impressions about engaging in the work of the ministry, but conscious want of preparation held me back. My loved pastor had occasion to speak to me on the subject but I told him I was wholly unqualified for the work of such a deep responsibility."

Part one
Part two

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Thanks for sharing the Reverend Bill stories. My Nova Scotia ancestors were in nearby Morristown NS. I have found that many children were named for area ministers, and your blog shows that the six middle-name-Manning cousins in my family tree were probably named for Edward Manning.


  2. Dear Susan, There was even an Edward Manning Bill, brother to Rev. I. E. Bill, who died in Boston in 1904. Rev. Edward Manning Bill was the husband to Rebecca Skinner, sister to Ann Skinner (mother of Isabella Lyons, wife of Rev. I. E. Bill). In other words, he was Mrs. Bill's uncle.