Toils and Struggles of the Olden Times: the Autobiography of Samuel Rogers

You’ve been a soldier in the war of 1812.  But now, you’ve found Jesus.  The only problem you’ve got is that the religious world is telling you all sorts of conflicting things.  Which one is right?  How can you tell?


This inspirational and encouraging autobiography is back in in print after over 130 years!

Samuel Rogers was a soldier and a preacher. His life was lived as a soldier for Christ. He planted many congregations throughout Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and the surrounding areas. One estimate says that he personally baptized over 7,000 people.

Along the way he survives a wildfire, is confronted with kindness that crosses racial borders, and meets Alexander Campbell.

This new, revised edition has been completely reformatted, meticulously proofread for any typos, and updated with modern spelling–all to bring you, the reader, a more pleasant reading experience.


Kindle edition available at

3 thoughts on “Toils and Struggles of the Olden Times: the Autobiography of Samuel Rogers”

    1. Hello I’m Ed Rogers. Question is my fourth Great Grandfather William Rogers know as preacher Billy Rogers in this script

      1. There is a William Rogers mentioned in this book. Everything below the line is what comes from the book about this man. I don’t know if it is the same man you’re looking for, but if it is, please let me know. Thank you. (note: please forgive the formatting issues, especially misplaced hyphens. It is a side effect of copying from the original document and pasting it here.


        On my first trip to the mountains, I made the acquaintance of Brother William Rogers, a superior mountain preacher. He had sown the good seed of the gospel broadcast over a large district of country. He was industrious and frugal, but, having a living family of twenty-two children (all by one wife), he could not maintain them and give as much of his time to preaching as the cause demanded. On my return home, I went to Lexington, and laid his case before the State Missionary Board, recommending him as the most suitable man they could employ to labor in his district of the mountains. Consequently his services were ob-tained by them, and I believe he remained in their employ to the time of his death. We were often together during my labors in the mountains, and I can say with truth that a more agreeable co-laborer I never had in my life. We held a successful meeting at Proctor, in a large warehouse which had been fitted up and furnished for the occasion, there being no house of worship in the place at that time. The people came in vast crowds to hear— men, women, children, and even little infants were brought. The last named did not hear much, but, on the contrary, by the concerts which they carried on, they kept a great many from hear-ing, aside from their mothers. Most of the time I got along bravely; but, at times, it seemed to me that every babe in the congregation was squalling, and that every babe in the whole country was in the house. Some of our nervous preachers, had they been there, would have suffered sorely, I fear. These poor mothers were under the necessity either of staying at home, or of bringing the little ones with them. These mothers chose the latter course, and I commended them for it. Under such circum-stances, mothers are rather to be pitied than blamed. Preachers should cultivate pa¬tience in all such cases. The men, with but few exceptions, were rough-looking fellows, though they be-haved with becoming propriety in the house of worship. You might have often seen them coming to meeting with rifles on their shoulders, except on Sundays, especially those who lived at a distance. Upon entering the house, they were in the habit of stacking their arms carefully in one corner, together with hunt-ing-pouch and horn, then seating themselves with an air of composure which indicated that they were now ready for the service.

        Brother William Rogers, having been reared up among these people, knew exactly how to talk to them. It ex¬cited my admira-tion not a little to observe how apt and ready he was with illus-trations, exactly suited to command and rivet attention, and to carry conviction to the mind. On a certain occasion he proceeded to meet the false accusation so commonly and persistently brought against us, that we, as a people, reject the Old Testa-ment Scrip¬tures; and, as near as I can recall his argument, it was as follows: “My friends, you have heard it reported that we re-ject the Old Testament Scriptures as altogether useless, and I want to show you exactly the use we have for both the Old and the New. A greater mistake could not be made than to say that we have not constant use for the whole book. Indeed, we teach that the Old Testament is the foundation on which the New rests, and that the New Testament would be void had it not been for the Old. The two, to be effective, must be taken in their proper connection together. Some of you have brought your rifles with you to-day, which I will use for an illustration in this connec-tion. You see this gun has two sights attached to it. The foremost sight, you see, is a bright bead of silver near the muzzle, or mouth of the rifle. The hindermost sight, you see, is a small piece of steel, with a very small notch in it. This sight is placed near the breech of the gun, as you see. Now let me ask you, What are the uses of those things we call sights? You answer that they are attached to the rifle to enable us to hit the mark or object at which we aim. In taking aim, you look through the hindermost sight in such manner as to bring the foremost sight in exact range with the object which you wish to strike. You all can see at once that, if you were to use the fore¬sight, without re-gard to the other, your shooting would be at random, so that, ninety-nine times out of a hun¬dred, you would miss your aim; but when the front sight fills the notch of the hindermost one, and ranges exactly with the mark or object aimed at, you can not miss it if your rifle is good. Now, the Old Testament, with its types, shadows and prophecies, is the hindermost sight. The New Testament, with its exact fulfillment of all the types and proph-ecies, is the front sight. The object is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of sinners. So that, by looking through the Old Testa¬ment on to the New, which is the fulfillment of the Old, we cannot fail to see Christ, for the eye will be brought to bear exactly upon Him. You see, then, the use we have for the Old Scriptures, and how it is that neither the Old nor the New can be used to advantage alone.”

        You may think it strange that I listened to this discourse with divided attention. I was intensely interested in the argument all the way through; but there was something else that equally claimed my attention. It was to see how those sturdy huntsmen listened. They leaned forward, with eyes, ears and mouth opened wide, as if to see, hear and drink in every word spoken. Such listeners are enough to inspire any speaker; and I may add that such speaking as that will make good listeners of almost any people. The secret of it was, that he talked to the people about things which they understood, and in language suited to their capacity.

        At the time of his marriage, Elder William Rogers did not know a letter in the alphabet. His wife became his teacher, and, under her instruction, he soon became qualified to read that blessed book which was afterwards his life-time companion. I have heard him speak with much feeling of how much he was indebt-ed to his wife for all that he had been as a preacher of the gospel. By close application he became thoroughly familiar with his Bi-ble, and one of the most successful mountain preachers of the State. He had a fine memory, and held the Scriptures on his tongue’s end. He was by nature a man of strong mind, and had a keen sense of propriety. He was humble, really so; contrasting with the entire class of vain men who, unfortunately, often find their way into the pulpit, to the disgust of all sensible people. There is much meaning in the rough saying, that it is a great thing for anyone to have sense enough to prevent him from making a fool of himself. My dear old friend and brother had that kind of sense in an eminent degree.

        I attribute the success of William Rogers mainly to the fact that he accommodated his discourses to the capacity of all his hear-ers. The aged, middle-aged and young alike listened with pro-found attention to every word which fell from his lips. To use a huntsman’s expression, he never overshot his game. There was a sim¬plicity and directness in his discourse that commanded the attention of all who heard him. I have had the privilege of hear-ing great men and learned men speak, but no man ever interested me more than William Rogers.

        It must not be understood that, because the mountain people are comparatively poor, they are, therefore, igno¬rant. I found in my travels quite a number of persons who were as well informed and, upon all practical ques¬tions, as intelligent as the people of the more favored Blue Grass Region. I regret to record the fact that in some places I could find neither Bible nor Testament. I have always been in sympathy with those societies that have for their object the circulation of the Bible, and have been in the habit of contributing something annu¬ally to their support. I do not think that the religious world is sufficiently alive to the work of sending the Bible to the poor. If we had the secret history of a single Bible, like that one, for instance, that my mother carried with her to the Territory of New Spain in the year 1801—how many minds it had enlightened, how many hearts it had cheered, how often it had given strength to withstand trial and tempta-tion— I have thought we would have all loved the book more, and be more active in its circulation. And of all the people on earth, I think we, who claim so much for the Bible, ought to be the most active and untiring in securing this much-desired ob-ject. We take the Bible, without note or comment, for our creed, and claim that it is enough as to doctrine, correction, reproof, instruction in righteousness, to thoroughly furnish the man of God unto every good work; and we ought to spare no pains in putting it into the hands of the people.

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