Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cotton Adams - Home At Last

April 26, 1761

Pastor Finn,
Thank you for the kind words in your letter. Even though, we haven't seen each other in more'n fifteen years, I still feel the friendship and brotherly love from your pen.
You asked about the time I saw the famous circuit riding Calvinist, Cotton Adams.
I will never forget the day he rode into our town. It caused quite a stir among the townsfolk of Sandy Ridge. To this day, people jaw about the foggy, Sunday morning when Cotton Adams appeared on horseback. The bridge over Sims Creek looked as if a cloud just decided to lay down on the river. It almost seemed like he was coming from Heaven, the way the clouds covered his horse, Calico, up to his knees.
Cotton Adams was quite famous in these parts, and we were all expecting his arrival that morning. Mr. Adams was to preach in the new Sovereign Grace Church building. The pastor, George Truman, was an old friend of Cotton's. Fact is, the Church was started because of Mr. Adams' strong sermon series on Heaven and Hell. He was returning to bless us with his spiritual leadership and promised to help with the selection of deacons. 
I can understand why our pastor broke into uncontrollable tears and moaning when he went to help Cotton down from his horse that early morn. You see, Calico had brought into our town, the lifeless body of a man who had sacrificed his worldly treasures for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Cotton Adams must have gone to be with the Lord just hours before.
He had a well-worn hymnal in his hand, as was his habit of singing to the Lord as he traversed the acres of forests and farmlands between towns. He had hand-written one hymn that was found tucked in his saddle:

Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear?
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face;
Would not hearken to His calls:
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Bow Your ear, in mercy bow;
Pardon and accept me now.

There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands;
God is love, I know, I feel,
Jesus pleads, and loves me still.
Why to me this waste of love?
Ask my Advocate above.
See the cause in Jesus’ face,
Now before the throne of grace.

If I rightly read Your heart,
If You all compassion art,
Bow Your ear, in mercy bow;
Pardon and accept me now.
Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my fall lament:
Now my foul revolt deplore;
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

Cotton Adams, I only wish I could have heard your voice once more. Your singing alone, would bring conviction on the hurting souls who listened. Your presence seemed to be like one who had been with the angels of God. I know you are worshiping the living Savior, face to face now.

The township has decided to publish his journals and distribute them at cost. Preachers, of course, get a free copy to inspire your work in the Lord. My prayer is that they will bless many and remind all that our life is His and His alone!

Your friend,
Thomas Sawyer


  1. That's been my favorite hymn for a long time now! Even though I don't know the real tune ;) I sing it to the tune of "Rock of Ages".
    So is Cotton Adams gone forever?

  2. Cotton Adams? Dead? How could you?! :)

  3. Well, ConstitutionGirl and the Ink Slinger, it seems that he has been gone since long before you and I arrived on the scene. We can only hope that Eddie comes into possesion of some of his yet unpublished Journal entries.

  4. ConstitutionGirl

    You can listen to the tune and read the words at Cyber Hymnal

  5. Heroic ending. Gives it a nice epic feel. Would make a good novel, I guess.

  6. What a wonderful post and wonderful tribute.

  7. I hope there is more from Cotton Adams' journals.

  8. Will we discover that there has been a missus Adams we didn't know about? Does Cotton have a son?

    The plot possibilities are endless!

  9. Three little words, Calvinist Western Movie. Summer blockbuster material.

  10. Here is one of his living relatives:


  11. ...and here:


  12. The Cotton Adams posts have been far and away my favorite on this blog. If readers have not already done so, I would recommend reading through all of them from the archives.

    Knowing something about John Wesley's Journal and the Methodist circuit riding preachers will help you appreciate these stories, especially the ironic humor. Just knowing that John Wesley had a journal, and that there were Methodist circuit riding preachers should be all you need to know ; ).

  13. Oh, and one more thing. For those of you who are mourning the passing of our beloved Calvinist Circuit Riding Preacher, find and read the first post in the series (archives - 2008). You will see that, just like Jacob Marley, Cotton Adams "was dead to begin with." : )

  14. If yew jest wood clik on "cotton adams" in tha label section under the entry yew would git all of 'em at once! Course, yer gonna hafta keep goin' back a ways.

  15. Stranger, you're no stranger in these parts...The Journal of Cotton Adams was one of the more difficult series for me. Coming up with ideas was not easy and response was minimum. It always seems that the posts you work the most on get a smaller reaction than you expect, and the posts you work little on are liked better.
    There is always a possibility of seeing his journals in the future... just not sure when that will be.

  16. Well, in my opinion they were absolutely the best posts you have written on this blog. I do remember reading them back in 2009. I was contributing a lot of captions then, but I couldn't think of anything to add after a Cotton Adams story. They were just a great and funny read. I for one appreciate the work that you put into them. I am going to compile them all into one folder on my computer.


    p.s. (Hey, maybe we could print them up, rent a table at Reformed conferences, like Ligonier, and sell them ; )

  17. I noticed the Huck Finn / Tom Sawyer connection here. Glad they finally turned their lives around!


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