We start a new missionary diary today, that of Andrew Sproul, a Scotsman who served as a missionary in his own country in the 1840s. Andrew gives a brief autobiographical introduction, then faithfully records his religious activities. (Note: I have standardized spelling and most punctuation for ease of reading on the screen, but have retained his own words and grammar. I have only a typescript to work from, so where the typist has had difficulty reading something — naming another missionary “Jaap,” which seems unlikely [but is, after all, apparently correct; see comments in second installment of this diary] — I can only follow the typescript unless it becomes important enough for me to do some additional research outside of this diary.)
Andrew Sprowl was born in the town of Paisley, County of Renfrew, Scotland, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixteen (1816) on the sixteenth of February. My father Francis Sprowl that being his father’s name & my mother Ann Nicol were poor but honest. I being set to work at an early age, viz weaving, I had no opportunity of getting an education. Before I was set to work, three months previous to being put to labour (& that was between the sixth & seventh years of my age) I was put to school, & that time was taken up in learning the alphabet & to read a little. This was all the time that was set apart for me in the way of being educated at school.
My parents was not connected with any system of men neither did they make any family worship, & of course I was not brought up in a worshiping or a praying life. But I remember from my earliest days & up to the age of accountability that there was a power that controlled men & things above that of the power of man. I felt as though that power had care over me, but I felt also that the notions of the leaders of the people had to a certain extent an effect on my mind.
In the spring of the year 1840, Samuel Mulliner and Alexander Wright, two Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came to the town of Paisley, county of Renfrew, Scotland and held meetings, at which they bore testimony that God had revealed his will to his servant Joseph Smith, and called him to the apostleship, to build up his Church as it was in ancient times organized by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, faith in God, repentance of sin, and baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. In those days many received their testimony and were baptized into the Church.
I, Andrew Sproul, son of Francis Sproul and Ann Nicol, born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland on the 16th of Feb. 1816 received the testimony of the Lord’s servants and was received a member of the Church by baptism on the 4th day of May, 1840, baptised by Alexander Wright and confirmed on the 8th of May1840 by Orson Pratt. Baptism and Confirmation took place in the town of Paisley, Scotland.
Mary McSporran Sproul, wife of Andrew Sproul Senr, daughter of John McSporrant and Isabell Black, born 28th May 1819 in the town of Port Glasgow, Parish of Killmacon [Kilmacolm], Renfew Shire, Scotland, baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 19th Octr 1840, in the town of Paisley, Renfrew Shrie, Scotland. Confirmed same date. Died at Florence on the banks of the Missouri River, Nebraska Territory, on the morning of Septr 4th, 1857. Her remains was interred in the Saints’ Burial Grounds at that place.
Paisley, April 28th, 1841. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints held a conference in the Unitarian Chapel, George St., B. McAley, high priest, in the chair. After the business of the meeting was done, Elder Wright moved that Andrew Sprowll be ordained a priest, chosen unanimously & ordained under the hands of Elders McAley, Wright, Hay, & Jaap.
May 2nd I carried the bread & wine to the Saints.
9th – I was appointed to administer the ordinance of bread & wine to the Church.
15th – I met [in] council with my brethren. Ering, B. Sawden & I was appointed to teach the church in the forenoon, which we did as the Lord gave us. I carried the bread & wine to the Church.
July 9th, 1841. I met in council with my brethren, when Presiding Elder Tapp said that some people was inquiring after the truth at a place called Nilston [Neilston], about 6 miles from Paisley, when it was agreed in council that Brew & I should go 11th of July.
11th July – Sunday we start for Nilston & arrived about 12 o’clock and some people came. We took our stand near the cross. We sang and prayed & Brew stood up & spoke of the Love of God to all men & of giving Jesus Christ to die for all because all had fallen; & when he was done I stood up & told them that the Gospel was now established in its ancient simplicity & that the remission of sins & the Holy ghost was again given to them that went forth in obedience to the commands of God. We told the people we would be here at 5 p.m. A woman told us to come to her house, being a mile off, when we returned. We said we would.
We went to B. Shanks, got dinner & returned in the evening. Came to the woman’s house & they received us very kindly & gave us a chair to stand on. George Caldwell and his wife and some people came. We opened our meeting with singing & prayer. I spoke first on the first principles of the gospel, which principles was for no use to children, they being innocent & having no sins. Therefore infant sprinkling was vain & not from God etc. Brew spoke next, much on the corruptions of the professing world, & that he had now chosen the weak to confound the mighty. We said we wished to be judged by the Bible in what we had said, if any wanted to do so in righteousness, but no one would, & we came off & said we would come again.
Sunday, July 18th, 1841 – We again started for Nilston according to promise. We came to it about 12 noon, went into our friend’s George Caldwell’s house as we was invited. Here there was some people waiting our arrival. We was not long in, when a number more came in. We sat there & reasoned from scriptures & answered questions, as they said to their satisfaction. We then spoke of going & the friends pressed us to stay & take some food, which we did, & thanked them kindly for their kindness to us & prayed our Heavenly God to bless them for so doing. We then came off to B. Shank’s & 3 of the friends with us. We spoke of the things of the Kingdom along th3e way till we came to his house. We rested here a while & returned to Nilston at 6 p.m. We opened our meeting at the cross by singing a hymn & prayer. Brew spoke first. In the week have had our prayers answered. He spoke very powerfully. A great many people was gathered & heard with attention. I bore testimony when he was done that an angel had come with the everlasting gospel according to the revelations given to B. John on the island of Patmos as recorded in the 14th chap. They kept good order until we was done. We then told the we or some others would be here next Sunday, god permitting. We then came off, thanking our God, amen.
Sunday, July 25th, 1841 – We again started for Nilston according to appointment of the council, in company with John B. Sawden and John Findly. [Blank] forebeared. We agreed to unite our hearts I prayer before we parted, which we did in a retired place on the way. We came to Nilston about 12 noon. We went to our friend’s house, G. Caldwell, but not many being there we came out & held meeting at the cross. A great many people came to hear us. I spoke first & told them we had come to lift a warning voice to them, having authority from God to cry repentance unto them, for he had again renewed the gospel in its ancient simplicity & purity that mankind should believe, repent, & be baptised for a remission of their sins & they would get the Holy ghost according to promise, for the promise is extended unto them &tc.
Brew bore testimony very powerfully of the truth that the Lord had revealed. When we was done, a man stood forth & wanted to ask a question. We let him have his desire, but before he was done he had three questions. The first was if we could prove that baptism was for adults, he would join us tomorrow. The next was, did not infant sprinkling come instead of circumcision. The next was how could we have the same power to preach, seeing that we had not the presence of Jesus Christ for 3 years & a half, as they had of old.
1. He was given to understand that baptism could only be for adults, because it was they alone that had sins to repent of, & baptism was for remission of sins according to the apostle Peter.
2. Circumcision was not for remission of sins, therefore baptism did not come in room of it. As for infant sprinkling, it’s from man & not from God.
3. The presence of Jesus Christ did not qualify them to preach the gospel. It was the Holy ghost which was given to them at Jerusalem as the Savior told them to wait there till they got, & which is now given, to qualify us to preach the gospel in these the last days. He was then called upon to bring one passage of scripture to prove infant sprinkling & we would give it in to him, but instead of doing so he would take a show of hands whether we was right or not, &, says he, go away & not come back for we don’t want you. And there, says he, is the purest Church in the world, pointing to a building – Church of Scotland – to west. But he was told we would come back & we would warn the place, because it was to that end we had come.
We came away then, some wanting to see a miracle. We went to Brother Shanks’ & got dinner, & came back to Nilston in the evening & preached to a very attentive people. We said we or some others would be here next Sunday. We left the place & came away thanking God.
Friday, July 30th, 1841 – I met in council with my brethren, & I & B. Camble, deacon, was appointed to go to a place called Williamsburgh, 1/4 of a mile out of Paisley on the road to Glasgow, which we did on Sunday morning following. We had a few hearing us. We said we or some others would be here next Sunday morning, & we came off.