“He was a true son of Virginia — was born, lived, and died in bosom. He was among the greatest of her preachers, — few proclaiming the Gospel more abundantly, or more powerfully.” Thus was Conrad Speece described by William Brown in William B. Sprague’s Annals of the American Pulpit. James W. Alexander calls him an “ornament” of the Church of Christ in Virginia (The Life of Archibald Alexander, p. 204).
He had a keen mind and a pastor’s heart. Henry Ruffner wrote of him: “Give him his pulpit, his parishioners, his literary friends, and his books; and the world might take all the rest with his hearty consent.” His body was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Old Stone Church in Augusta County, Virginia, where he labored for 22 years.
We have recently added some writings by Speece to Log College Press, including some written under the pseudonym “Philander.” Brown notes that “his other publications number in all one hundred and fifty, both in prose and in verse, and upon a great variety of subjects,” so we hope to continue adding many more. The primary work published by him under his own name is The Mountaineer (1818, 1823). It is from this work that we have extracted the following poem, which describes the life of a Christian. The journey that he describes is that which most Christians, perhaps, experience and to which many of us can relate. Thanks be to God for his grace to sinners in leading them on the path to glory!
The Path to Glory
HAPPY the youth whose heav’n-born choice
Turns him from sin’s destructive way;
Who gives his ear to wisdom’s voice,
And strives her precepts to obey.
Conscious of guilt, his only rest
Is found when Calv’ry meets his view:
He flies to his Redeemer’s breast,
And vows to be his servant too.
By earnest prayer for light and grace,
He gains, each day, a fresh supply;
And thus, unwearied, runs the race
That leads him to the prize on high.
Protected by almighty pow’r
His steadfast soul no terror knows,
Though war awaits him, ev’ry hour,
With armies of surrounding foes.
In vain the world employs her wiles
To check his course, with varied art:
Against her frowns, against her smiles,
Firm faith securely guards his heart.
In works of piety to God,
And love to man, he spends his years;
And when he feels affliction’s rod,
Sweet peace is mingled with his tears.
His life with growing lustre shines
Till all the toils of life are past:
His breath then calmly he resigns,
Trusting his Saviour to the last.
Attendant angels, while they sing
His victory, their friend convey
Up to the presence of their King,
The region of eternal day.