An Actor and a Fiddler

“Mr. Stephen F. Pilley, with apparent concern, and signs of deep penitence, approached and knelt on the floor with his head in the chair by which the preacher had stood on the delivery of his sermon. There and then, while prayers were being offered for him, Mr. Pilley professed to find pardon and experience regeneration.”
A History of Methodism in Alabama, Rev. Anson West D.D., Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1893 (reprinted in Alabama West Florida Conference Historical Society)

Stephen Fatherly Pilley (1805-1873) was deeply moved by an impromptu sermon preached by a young Methodist minister in 1833. Rev. Abiezer Clarke Ramsey testified to Stephen’s repentance and defended him against those who were skeptical of his calling to serve as a minister of the Gospel.

“Objections were urged against the Rev. Stephen Fatherly Pilley on the following grounds: First, he had been a member of a Theatrical Troupe, was a good fiddler, loved fun and frolic, and it would be impossible for him to attain the gravity and the influence of a minister of the gospel in the places where he had led theatricals, fun, and frolic, and had fiddled for the entertainment of the frivolous, and especially in Mobile where he had been notorious in that line of things. Second, he was a married man, with a wife and one child.”
A History of Methodism in Alabama, Rev. Anson West D.D., Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1893 (reprinted in Alabama West Florida Conference Historical Society)

Just as Barnabas spoke for Paul following his transformation on the road to Damascus, A.C. Ramsey stood before the leaders of the Methodist Episcopalian circuit in Chickasawhay Alabama to defend a new applicant to the ministry. The debate became so heated that Rev. Ramsey was forced to employ argumentum ad hominem !!! in his defense of Brother Pilley.

“The heart of an Actor and of a Fiddler could be changed by divine grace applied by the Holy Ghost”

Ramsey’s passionate defense persuaded leaders of the Alabama Conference to ordain Stephen Pilley as a circuit riding minister.

“The Reverend Stephen F. Pilley was admitted into the traveling connection, and was the colleague of the Rev. A.C. Ramsey for the two years succeeding. Pilley was a man of lofty conceptions, deep piety, great efficiency, and long usefulness.”
A History of Methodism in Alabama, Rev. Anson West D.D., Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1893 (reprinted in Alabama West Florida Conference Historical Society)