A Tribute to Elder Isaac N. Vanmeter

"HELP, Lord: for the godly man ceaseth: for the faithful fail from among the children of men." "Surely there is no sorrow like unto my sorrow."

By request of our dear afflicted sister Vanmeter and her almost heart-broken family I have consented to prepare for publication in the Signs of the Times an obituary notice of our much esteemed and deeply lamented brother and father in Israel, Elder Isaac Newton Vanmeter, who quietly and peacefully fell asleep in Jesus at 1:30 a.m., Dec. 13th, 1894, at his late home near Macomb, McDonough Co., Illinois.

He was born in Grayson Co., Ky., June 14, 1815, making him at the time of his death 79 years, 5 months and 29 days old. On Jan. 22nd, 1839, he was united in marriage to Miss Lucinda Lawson, who survives him. To them were born eleven children, five sons and six daughters. One daughter died in infancy, and one son died in the army during the Rebellion. One daughter, our dear sister Susie Vanmeter, died nearly four years ago. Four sons, Miles H., of Denver, Colo., Cyrus S. of Macomb township, Hiram, of Gunnison, Colo., and David, of the city of Macomb, and four daughters, sister Mary Shields, of Macomb, sister Sarah Runkle, living near her father's home, sister Mattie, unmarried, living with her parents, and Mrs. Hattie Fuhr, living in the neighborhood, were all present at their father's funeral. He was most fortunate in his domestic relations, and possessed the unbounded confidence and esteem of all his family. This feeling was mutual; hence the remark that Elder Vanmeter's was an exceptionally happy family.

In or about the year 1833 he received an evidence of God's love and mercy toward him, and soon afterward united with the Primitive Baptist Church; and straightway he conferred not with flesh and blood, but began preaching, not himself, but Jesus Christ the Lord. After spending more than twenty years visiting and ministering in word and doctrine, to the comfort and edification of the neighboring churches in Kentucky, he settled with his family on the farm where he died in the year 1855. He was not long among strangers, for he soon found the little band of brethren and sisters located at Greenbush, in the Spoon River Association, called New Hope, and commenced preaching for them, putting in his letter, and continued the double relation of member and pastor to the day of his death. He has been prominent and influential in the meetings of the Spoon River Association almost from the time of his coming into her bounds, either serving as Clerk or Moderator, and invariably giving the best of satisfaction in either capacity. His work as Clerk was characterized by the most scrupulous precision, and his rulings as Moderator were seldom called in question. As a man and a christian I think it can truthfully be said that he was as near as it is possible for a man to be: vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that ruled his own house well, having his children in subjection, with all gravity. As a counselor to and with his brethren in the ministry he was truly a father in Israel. While he was sensitive, he was always careful of the feelings of others, ready and willing at all times to give such advice as would be profitable, and ever keeping in mind the glory of God and the prosperity of Zion. As a pastor his undivided time was given to the work, and but very few were the times that his churches were disappointed by a failure on his part. Through all kinds of weather and all conditions of roads many times during the earlier part of his pastoral care of the New Hope Church he has traveled on foot from his home to the place of meeting, fifteen miles, and back. Much of the time he had the care of three and sometimes four churches. His gift in preaching and expounding the Scriptures covered the entire range of the gospel, including doctrine, christian experience and practical godliness, often closing his solemn sermon with an impressive exhortation to his brethren and sisters in Christ to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called. As a writer his correspondence and communications published in the Signs of the Times and other Baptist periodicals, and read throughout the United States and Canada, as well as his book called "Walking about Zion," and also his Pocket Hymns, between sixty and seventy in the book containing three hundred and forty-five beautiful and sentimental hymns being composed by himself, besides his private correspondence, all attest the high order of his ability in the field of literature.

His fatal illness was of about three weeks' duration. He attended the meeting of the New Hope Church at Greenbush on the third Sunday in November, but was not able to preach. He soon grew worse, and for the last two weeks of his life could not lie down, but sat in an upright position. His disease was a complication of disorders, culminating in dropsy. He suffered (in his own language) more than tongue can tell, but no murmur or complaint was he ever heard to utter. Neither did he speak of death, but quoted many comforting portions of God's word, often saying, "Not mine, but thy will be done." At the time above mentioned he yielded up his spirit to God, who gave it, surrounded by the members of his family.

The funeral occurred at ten o'clock on Saturday, Dec. 15th, at his late residence, and was attended by a large concourse of neighbors, brethren and sympathizing friends. The services were simple in form. Hymns 15 ("Keep Silence, All Created Things,") and 1257 ("Asleep in Jesus"), Beebe's Collection, were read, the first one being sung. Prayer was offered by our beloved brother, Elder S. L. Dark. The writer then spoke for a short time, using as a text II. Timothy 4:6-8; after which the remains were conveyed to Oakwood Cemetery, in Macomb, and laid in the family lot, to await the resurrection of the just.

Elmwood, Ill., Dec. 27, 1894.
Signs of the Times, 1895, p. 15.
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