1819 Memoir of Elder Ephraim Stinchfield, Freewill Baptist

This book sold before we were able to post it on our website.  It is a very interesting and scarce title and we thought we would make a record of it in our blog for all of you intrepid researchers out there in the interwebs.

Stinchfield, Ephraim. Some Memoirs of the Life, Experience, and Travels of Elder Ephraim Stinchfield, "Author of Cochranism Delineated," &c.. Portland, [Maine]: Printed at the Argus Office by F. Douglas, 1819. First Edition.

Leather spine with marbled paper boards, some cracking to hinges yet all fairly well-attached, tight text. 3 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches, page edges dyed yellow, printed bookplate of & signature of Mark Fernald, Kittery, Maine. 105 (1) pages, light foxing. Good. Hardcover.

Shaw & Shoemaker 49511; Starr, A Baptist Bibliography, no. S9257. Not in Roberts.

The owner of this volume was Elder Mark Fernald (1784-1851) b. & d. at Kittery, Maine, pastor of the First Christian Church in that town from 1815 to 1851. Fernald wrote an autobiography, published in 1852.

Ephraim Stinchfield (1761-1837) Freewill Baptist itinerant minister. His Memoirs reveal an interest in religion at at early age, even describing a dream that he had as a child in which he saw the Judgment Day. His convictions were not permanent, and he states that military service is the worst school of the devil - Stinchfield served as a private soldier in the Continental Line in New York under Cols. Pike and Prime, and Capts. Harris, Parsons, and Kannel, mustering out in 1781 after serving in three campaigns. In that year, after returning home, he describes the religious excitement brought about by "newlights, Baptists" who were preaching in the vicinity.  

The Memoirs describe in agonizing detail the inner workings of his soul (as he perceived them) until he found freedom in Christ. He mentions the ministry in 1791 of Benjamin Randel of New Durham, New Hampshire, "who travelled much into the eastern part of the District of Maine." He was attracted to a religious revival which took place in Raymond in 1792, "the years 1791 and 1792, were remarkable for the outpouring of the spirit of God, in several towns around..." He considers that he was genuinely converted to Christ in December of 1792. By the end of that decade Stinchfield was traveling to preach and describes the meetings and lists many town wherein he labored. He was ordained by an association gathered by Benjamin Randel and extends his ministry into many parts of Maine. Many people, preachers, places, meetings, and revivals are related in this memoir.

In 1805 he was sent by the churches to Boston to appeal for relief regarding the payment of taxes for the state church, and while there discovered "several religious societies, who stiled themselves christians, without any of the party names which divide christians in general, who resided in and about Boston...renouncing every thing unscriptural among themselves or others: loving and owning piety for its own sake, among any, and all, they found it with. I shall never forget, while I live, with what open-heartedness I was received by them..." pp. 68-9. A reference to the early meetings of Elias Smith and Abner Jones, perhaps?        

"In the town of Limington, there was a good work. While delivering a discourse, a woman fell under the power of the word, and began to cry to God, with an audible voice, to have mercy on her soul. In a short time she found pardon; and began to praise the Lord for what he had done for her. After meeting, a man under concern of mind, invited me home with him. It was near middle of the night, when we arrived at his house. His wife and daughter appeared to be in the same case with him. As soon as we entered the house, and had made a light, I felt a remarkable impression to pray. I fell on my knees, and began to call on the Lord. In a short time the woman of the house fell down, and began to cry for mercy. Soon after the daughter, and then the father fell, all crying for mercy at the same time. This was no disturbance to me, nor the least interruption. I continued in prayer. At length the woman begain to rejoice in the Lord: soon after her daughter, and then the father. And when I closed prayer, they were all rejoicing in God their Saviour. This was one of the happiest seasons I had ever seen. Glory to God for his wonderful power." p. 49   

Stinchfield kept a journal of the years of his ministry, and recorded everything. For example, in 1807, "I preached, in my way, four hundred and thirty-six times; baptized fifty-eight; rode about the same distance as other years. My trials, in many instances, have been great." p. 81.  "When the year [1809] was closed, I found I had spoken in public, four hundred and eighty-four times; baptized three hundred and thirty-three; travelled more or less, nearly every day in the year; and spent my time between Penobscot, (Me.) and Portsmouth, (N.H.)" - p. 99.

He records the restoration of speech to young man who had lost his ability to speak due to a sickness; this happened at the occasion of his baptism. p. 94    

The record of his ministry ends with the year 1811; the last few pages are an appeal to the reader to find peace with God.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

"Free Will Baptist preacher of New Gloucester, Me., who was ordained in 1798 and immediately began an itinerant ministry that lasted thirty years and covered much of northern New England." - Maine Historical Society online.  (8343)