Elder Enoch Reeves
In compliance with the request of the Mountain District Old School Baptist Association, convened at Good Hope Church, Carroll county, Va.: the undersigned begs leave to submit the subject of this Memoir, or, short Biography of Elder Enoch Reeves, son of George and Jane Reeves, born in the county of Grayson and state of Virginia, June the 18th, 1801. His father died when he was about ten years of age he then had to commence steering his little boat of life, on the tempestuous sea of time, a fatherless boy, mingling and co-mingling, in and with cold charities of the world, to some extent, like an Abraham of old, not knowing wither he went; yet, the right hand of the Omnipotence of that God, that had promised to be a father to the fatherless, was not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness, but as a Divine protector and benefactor, gently, and parentially led him from childhood to manhood.
In his youth he was stout and hearty, somewhat reckless, and feared nothing of an earthly nature. His conduct in his young days, proved the veracity of the Word of God, that he was dead in trespasses and in sin. After he was grown, he paid his respects to Miss Mary McMillan, daughter of John McMillan, a family of wealth and respectability; was married in May, 1821; raised a large family of sons and daughters.
In, or about the year 1836, it pleased the Lord to alarm him and arouse his soul to a sense of duty, the eye of the mind and understanding being opened, by the energy of the Divine Spirit, and grace, given us, as Paul says, “In Christ Jesus before the world was.” He saw like the Prodigal Son, began to be in want, and discovered that he was in a land of famine. His former associates were no longer his intimate friends, because the time and the set time had come, for at this time will I come and Sarah shall have a son. From that time, which was the Lord’s time, like Saul of Tarsus for several days he fasted and mourned over a hard heart, and miss spent time. In this condition he went to Piney Creek church, where the brethren were preparing a stand, and seats for the Association, intending to help them; but to speak his own language, his heart was so burthended and troubled on account of unpardoned sin, that instead of helping the brethren, he was constrained to repair to the grove, and endeavor to pour out his soul, or complaint unto Him who hears the cry of the penitent.
The association commenced in a few days from that time and sometime during the session of the same, we have reason to believe that the Lord spake peace to his soul, or, commanded the wind, and rolling billows of the troubles of his soul, to be still, and there was a calm and immediately the ship was at the destined shore; mercy and truth met together, peace and righteousness kissed each other, justice was satisfied, eternal wisdom made the display of the seven Divine communicable attributes, centering in the five wounds of the suffering, dead, buried, risen and ascended Savior. It was then that Christ, the hope of glory was formed in his soul, old things were done away, and all things pertaining to his soul’s salvation became new, the strong man that was armed and kept the palace of the heart was bound, his armor wherein he trusted all taken away and the spoil divided; it was then that the “wind blowed where it listed and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh nor wither it goeth, So is every one that is born of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul says: “ye are dead and your life hid with Christ in God.
A short time after this perhaps in 1838, Enoch Reeves went to Old Elk Creek church, and when the opportunity was offered, by the church door being opened, in the Primitive or, Old School form, he proceeded to discharge that solemn duty that he conscientiously believed he owed to God by professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or relating the travel of his mind from nature to grace, believing that he had been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the marvelous light and glorious liberty of God’s dear Son; the church received him heartily.
Soon after Bro. Reeves began to labor under deep and serious impressions of an indispensable duty to God and man, in proclaiming life and salvation, in the name of Jesus Christ, or the promulgation of the Gospel. After he was legally baptized and breaking his mind to the church, on the 4th Saturday in May, 1841, they licenses him to exercise a public gift of exhortation. During that year the church considered his gift profitable; and in October, 1841 he was regularly ordained after a thorough examination of the extent of his gift, and the orthodox principles of faith once delivered to the saints, by the imposition of hands and prayer by the presbytery, to wit: Hiram Sizemore, Henry Vanover and Tobias Long, being liberated and set apart to the declaration of the word and ordinances. Notwithstanding he was wealthy, and married into a wealthy family; he began, in the most humble manner, to define the primitive faith predicated on the Old and New Testament Scripture, which is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. He had many dear relations belonging to the Methodist order, he always tried, plainly, in plain language to convince them of an error. Elder Enoch Reeves was soon called to the pastoral care of his own church, and also several of the sister churches for many years. His labors were greatly blessed, many of the saints were edified; mourners encouraged and sinners alarmed. He rode through heat and cold, wet and dry, far and near, with unwavering confidence and unyielding energy. Notwithstanding his limited education, there were few if any, that excelled him in his day; he was punctual in attending his appointments any season of the year, all kinds of weather, regardless of time or distance.
In 1852 he was installed pastor of Old Crooked Creek church in Carroll county, Va., and would frequently ride from his home to that place, about 28 or 30 miles, by 12 or 1 o’clock on church day, the brethren, sisters and neighbors would wait patiently fully believing he would be there in time to preach for them, which he did; never disappointing, unless providentially hindered.
In July 1852 the undersigned became convinced of his duty to God and man, and on the 3rd Saturday in August (in the same year) he went to Crooked Creek church to hear Elder Enoch Reeves preach. There was in attendance a large and attentive congregation; Bro. Reeves preached, or the Lord through him made known the way of life and salvation, indeed, the place became both sweet and awful on account of the royal presence of an Omnipotent heart-searching prayer-hearing and sin-pardoning God, in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit; to convey or accompany His Word to the secret recesses of the hearts of His children; to make them rejoice in hope, confirm them in the faith of the Son of God, and to run through the dark sad lonely valleys and caverns of the dead faculties of the minds of poor sinners; he arouse them to a sense of their duty to their Creator, to lead the blind in a way that they had not known and in paths that they had not seen, to make crooked ways straight, and rough ways smooth, to cause the desert to blossom as the rose; and the thirsty land to become a pool. Ethiopia to stretch out her arm, and the isles of the sea to wait on the Lord.
After dismission, the writer of this Memoir, as a stranger to all his mother’s children, and to Bro. Reeves, walked up to him and told him this: “On to morrow I want you to baptize me,” which he did after the church was called together and heard the relation of faith, on motion, the right hand of fellowship given him, we went down into the water and the burial and the likeness of the Resurrection took place, both came straightway up out of the water and he went on his way rejoicing; that night was a precious night indeed. In the fall of the same year, Bro. Reeves baptized a goodly number into the fellowship of old Crooked-Creek church and others; afterwards, Elder Reeves and Henry Vanover baptized upwards of seventy persons in New river near the mouth of Brush creek, Grayson county, in one day; a memorable scene indeed. Bro. Reeves did not seem to be exalted in prosperity, or depressed in adversity; he had a great many earthly friends, and some enemies; he always was frank, free and determined, in word and actions, before both friends and foes, in preaching, exhorting, or the transaction of church business, or domestic concerns. He was regarded as an honorable man by all classes, sects and denominations; unyielding in religious, domestic and social circles until convinced of an error, then, perhaps no one was more ready or willing to make acknowledgements, or amends for wrongs done or sins committed than he was. He was a defender of truth he was delegated by his church, to the Association every year as long as he lived; and by the Association, as a corresponding delegate to sister and neighboring Associations.
He stood upon the platform of the Old and New Testament Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice, by and with them he defended the rights of the church against all the new systems or “isms” of the day; he opposed the modern Missionary enterprises, throughout the bounds of his travels and extent of his acquaintance. He was really a noble hearted man, his smoke- house and corn-crib was opened often to supply the wants of the poor. he was industrious, labored with his own hands to supply the necessities of his family and them around him; he was never a charge upon the church, but his house was a home for the wayworn pilgrim by day or by night; we often visited his house, and whenever he or his wife knew of our approach, they would always meet and welcome us into their chambers; indeed he seemed like a Joseph in time of famine. No doubt his neighbors miss him, and his beloved wife and children can, some the, form a little group around the once familiar hearth-stone of a loving husband and father, but with reverential awe, in silence mark well the family altar that a loved one used to bow before and spread abroad the wants of himself, family and all that grace or gratitude enjoined on him to pray for. Alas! that council we could confidentially rely upon so loudly is taken away.
After laboring in his Master’s vineyard for a period of 33 years and many of his brethren and sisters, that he had often preached with, and for, had passed him in the lane of life, he still stood firm and unshaken, and seemed to grow in grace, and the knowledge of the truth in Christ Jesus. As a pastor he knew no man after the flesh; he would advise the church, or churches, as he verily believed was in accordance with God’s Holy will and word, fearless of what man might say or do, and we believe he was bearing about daily, the marks of the Lord Jesus, for he was actnated by the operation of the Spirit both in preaching and prayer; he professed and believed in a Divine and Holy call by the Spirit of God’s dear Son to the work of the ministry, and laboring diligently under the instructions of that call, and the teachings and influences of that unerring Spirit of God, he became a prominent councillor in the churches and in the Association, and for many years was regarded by the churches and Associations in the bounds of his acquaintance, as a safe councillor; and many are yet living, who can date their experience back to some memorable time when they hear Bro. Reeves voice, having reason to believe that he was an instrument in the hands of a Mediator, in awakening them to a sense of duty to God their Creator.
Some time before his death, he attended old Crooked Creek church at their regular meeting, preached ably, and warmly; and after the transaction of the church business, Bro. Reeves insisted on the church to install Eld. B. E. Caudill pastor of that church, while he was living, telling them that the time of his departure was at hand, and bid the church farewell, and seeming to be in good health returned to his home, and was taken ill with dropsy. He labored under that disease for two or three months, many of his friends, brethren and sisters visited him during his sickness, he was very ready to speak of his future prospects of Heaven and happiness, occasionally viewing and reviewing his past course as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and Savior and Bishop of his soul, on whom he so long relied, stating to his friends and neighbors, that his faith and confidence was yet unshaken; while speaking of these solemn things he would praise God for Redeeming Grace. He made a request, towards the close of his earthly career, that his old Bible, that he had used so long, should be placed under his head when his body was laid away; that solemn duty was assigned to and performed by Eld. B. E. Caudill. The memorable day of his departure came; his mind seemed to be occupied in a preaching way, he was getting weak, but would preach and exhort to all that came to see him that day. From morning until evening, he seemed to be sensible of the time of his departure, he called his loving wife and children, that were present, bid them farewell telling them to meet him in Heaven, looking around on all that were present and seemed as if he wanted to bid them all farewell.
On Sunday evening June the 18th, 1871, his birthday; and 70th year of his age, he lays his armour by; so closes the earthly career of an under shepherd, and faithful minister, a noble citizen, a kind neighbor, a loving husband, and a tender father. His remains are sleeping near the old mansion where he raised hi family, and there will rest till waked by the last loud trump, when the dead shall wake up; then Bro. Reeves will rise to meet King Jesus in the midway of the air; then pastor and church, husband and wife, parents and children will meet again.
Lines by Wm. Lundy, at the request of the Mountain Association
Brother Reeves is dead and gone
To his Eternal home;
We too must soon follow on
To hear our Eternal doom.
But God Will raise him from the grave,
And unite the body with the soul
No other bliss, then will he crave
For God has made him whole.
Millions of years around may run;
He’ll praise his God and friend,
He’ll praise the Father and the Son,
In a world without an end.