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

“You all condemns a man when you sees him asleep, not knowin’ what visions is a-goin’ thoo his mind, nor what feelin’s is a-goin thoo his heart. You ain’t conside’in’ that mebbe he’s a-doin’ mo’ in the soul wo’k when he’s asleep then when he’s awake. Mebbe he sleep, w’en you think he ought to be up a-wo’kin’. Mebbe he slumber w’en you think he ought to be up an’ erbout. Mebbe he sno’ an’ mebbe he sno’t, but I’m a-hyeah to tell you, in de wo’ds of the Book, that they ain’t no ‘sputin’ ‘Ef he sleep, he shell do well!'”

“Yes, Lawd!” “Amen!” “Sleep on Ed’ards!” some one shouted. The church was in smiles of joy. They were rocking to and fro with the ecstasy of the sermon, but the Rev. Elisha had not yet put on the cap sheaf.

“Hol’ on,” he said, “befo’ you shouts er befo’ you sanctions. Fu’ you may yet have to tu’n yo’ backs erpon me, an’ say, ‘Lawd he’p the man!’ I’s a-hyeah to tell you that many’s the time in this very pulpit, right under yo’ very eyes, I has gone f’om meditation into slumber. But what was the reason? Was I a-shirkin’ er was I lazy?”

Shouts of “No! No!” from the congregation.

“No, no,” pursued the preacher, “I wasn’t a-shirkin’ ner I wasn’t a-lazy, but the soul within me was a wo’kin’ wid the min’, an’ as we all gwine ter do some day befo’ long, early in de mornin’, I done fu’git this ol’ body. My haid fall on my breas’, my eyes close, an’ I see visions of anothah day to come. I see visions of a new Heaven an’ a new earth, when we shell all be clothed in white raimen’, an’ we shell play ha’ps of gol’, an’ walk de golden streets of the New Jerusalem! That’s what been a runnin’ thoo my min’, w’en I set up in the pulpit an’ sleep under the Wo’d; but I want to ax you, was I wrong? I want to ax you, was I sinnin’? I want to p’int you right hyeah to the Wo’d, as it are read out in yo’ hyeahin’ ter-day, ‘Ef he sleep, he shell do well.'”

The Rev. Elisha ended his sermon amid the smiles and nods and tears of his congregation. No one had a harsh word for him now, and even Brother Dyer wiped his eyes and whispered to his next neighbor, “Dat man sholy did sleep to some pu’pose,” although he knew that the dictum was a deathblow to his own pastoral hopes. The people thronged around the pastor as he descended from the pulpit, and held his hand as they had done of yore. One old woman went out, still mumbling under her breath, “Sleep on, Ed’ards, sleep on.”

There were no more church meetings after that, and no tendency to dismiss the pastor. On the contrary, they gave him a donation party next week, at which Sister Dicey helped him to receive his guests.