The day following the night of Nolan Gray’s conversion there occurred an incident that meant much to Jake Benton, as well as to Deacon Gramps. Benton was walking along the road that led around the fence from his own home to the large, white house occupied by Nolan Gray and his family. He was on his way to milk Mr. Gray’s cow. He commonly went through the field on such occasions, as it was much the shorter route, but on this particular morning he had a mysterious disposition to take the long route around the road. When he had reached a point about a quarter of a mile from his home, to his astonishment he met Deacon Gramps, accompanied by Gramps’ hired hand. He saw at once that the Deacon was in a most surly mood. So in a pleasant tone of voice Benton said, “Good morning, gentlemen, nice mornin’,” aiming with salutation to pass on.
Gramps was not in any sense a brave man, as you may have guessed by this time, but he always manifested great boldness where he was sure there was no physical danger.
“They say Gray got your kind of religion at the prayer meetin’ last night,” he said.
“Well, I guess it ain’t my kind,” answered Benton, “but he sure did get Bible salvation.”
Then the Deacon let loose in all his fury. “Jake Benton,” said he, “this religion of yours has got to be stopped, it’s got to be wiped out, it’s doin’ more harm in this community than all the saloons in the State. It’s tearing up our church. Nolan Gray and old Grandma Gray was good church-members and have been for years and years and now they are taken in with this crazy holiness stuff, and you are the hul cause of it. I tell you it’s just got to be stopped and I’m going’ to stop it and I’ll just begin right here.” With this he advanced toward Benton and struck him a terrific blow on the side of the cheek with his open hand. At this Benton only replied, “God bless you, Mr. Gramps.” This served only to incense the enraged Deacon all the more, and he literally flew at Benton and easily pinned him to the ground and sat upon his chest and beat him in the face most unmercifully. Poor Benton struggled and groaned, but did not endeavor to hurt his antagonist. The Deacon’s hired hand was all his time a looker-on, but he finally mustered up courage, and with great difficulty succeeded in pulling the enraged Deacon off the poor man. When the hired man had finally persuaded Gramps away from the scene, Benton, bruised and bleeding in body, but victorious in soul, struggled to his feet and went home, glad that he was counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake.
The community was stirred, no doubt about that. These were stirring days. Not since the days when Union and Southern marauding parties scattered terror in these woods had public excitement run so high as now. The gossip of Benton’s beating was on everybody’s lips before the sun went down that day. Everybody talked about it. Jake’s friends were warmer friends and his enemies were hotter enemies. Those who had been neutral were neutral no more. There were just two parties now, those against and those for holiness as taught and lived by Jake Benton. As for old Jake, he kept sweet in his soul and talked little and prayed much. His victory was complete.