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The Fruitful Sleeping Of The Rev. Elisha Edwards
by [?]

He turned and looked down at the little woman, who waited to hear what he had to say.

“Thankye, ma’am, Sis’ Dicey,” he said. “Thankye, ma’am. I believe I’ll go back an’ pray ovah this subject.” And he turned and went back into the parsonage.

Whether he had prayed over it or whether he had merely thought over it, and made his plans accordingly, when the Rev. Elisha came into church that night, he walked with a new spirit. There was a smile on his lips, and the light of triumph in his eyes. Throughout the Deacon’s long prayer, his loud and insistent Amens precluded the possibility of any sleep on his part. His sermon was a masterpiece of fiery eloquence, and as Sister Green stepped out of the church door that night, she said, “Well, ef Brothah Eddards slep’ dis mornin’, he sholy prached a wakenin’ up sermon ter-night.” The congregation hardly remembered that their pastor had ever been asleep. But the pastor knew when the first flush of enthusiasm was over that their minds would revert to the crime of the morning, and he made plans accordingly for the next Sunday which should again vindicate him in the eyes of his congregation.

The Sunday came round, and as he ascended to the pulpit, their eyes were fastened upon him with suspicious glances. Uncle Isham Dyer had a smile of triumph on his face, because the day was a particularly hot and drowsy one. It was on this account, the old man thought, that the Rev. Elisha asked him to say a few words at the opening of the meeting. “Shirkin’ again,” said the old man to himself, “I reckon he wants to go to sleep again, but ef he don’t sleep dis day to his own confusion, I ain’t hyeah.” So he arose, and burst into a wonderful exhortation on the merits of a Christian life.

He had scarcely been talking for five minutes, when the ever watchful congregation saw the pastor’s head droop, and his eyes close. For the next fifteen minutes, little or no attention was paid to Brother Dyer’s exhortation. The angry people were nudging each other, whispering, and casting indignant glances at the sleeping pastor. He awoke and sat up, just as the exhorter was finishing in a fiery period. If those who watched him, were expecting to see any embarrassed look on his face, or show of timidity in his eyes, they were mistaken. Instead, his appearance was one of sudden alertness, and his gaze that of a man in extreme exaltation. One would have said that it had been given to him as to the inspired prophets of old to see and to hear things far and beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. As Brother Dyer sat down, he arose quickly and went forward to the front of the pulpit with a firm step. Still, with the look of exaltation on his face, he announced his text, “Ef he sleep he shell do well.”

The congregation, which a moment before had been all indignation, suddenly sprang into the most alert attention. There was a visible pricking up of ears as the preacher entered into his subject. He spoke first of the benefits of sleep, what it did for the worn human body and the weary human soul, then turning off into a half-humorous, half-quizzical strain, which was often in his sermons, he spoke of how many times he had to forgive some of those who sat before him to-day for nodding in their pews; then raising his voice, like a good preacher, he came back to his text, exclaiming, “But ef he sleep, he shell do well.”

He went on then, and told of Jacob’s sleep, and how at night, in the midst of his slumbers the visions of angels had come to him, and he had left a testimony behind him that was still a solace to their hearts. Then he lowered his voice and said: