The Project Gutenberg EBook of Autobiography of Frank G. Allen, Minister of the Gospel, by Frank G. Allen This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Autobiography of Frank G. Allen, Minister of the Gospel and Selections from his Writings Author: Frank G. Allen Editor: Robert Graham Release Date: June 30, 2008 [EBook #25941] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK G. ALLEN *** Produced by David Garcia and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)
To all who love the Old Paths,
In Memory of One Who Found Them
And Walked Therein,
Is Respectfully Inscribed, by
By prescription, which often has the force of law, a book should have both a Preface and an Introduction: the first relating to the writer; the second to the things written. I may well dispense with the latter, for what is here written the humblest capacity can understand; and it would be cruel to detain him long on the porch who is anxious to enter the building.
But, dear reader, a word with you (for that is the meaning of "Preface") before you begin this unpretentious little book, the joint production of an author, an editor, and a publisher.
It is due the first, to say that he wrote what is here called his Autobiography in great physical weakness, and without expecting that it would appear in this form. This will account for its homely garb, and apologize for it, if apology be necessary. Frank Allen had no time to spend upon mere style in anything he wrote. He aimed at clearness and force of expression, and reached these in a remarkable degree in his latter days. If any one, therefore, should take up this volume expecting to find literary entertainment, he will have the search for his pains; but if he seeks for what is far better, the secret of a life devoted to God and goodness, told in plain, unvarnished English, he will not be disappointed.
When I received from the gifted author the record of his "travel's history," I intended to write his Life, but death came and found us, not him, unprepared; and so, under the constraint of other and pressing duties, my purpose was reluctantly abandoned. Besides, upon examination it was found that with a few changes and additions here and there, these memoranda, as they came from the hand of their author, could, under the circumstances, appear in that form and do him no discredit.
Such is my admiration of this noble man, and such my deference to what I am sure must be the desire of his friends, that I have preferred to let him tell in simple phrase the strange story of his struggles and triumphs; and if its perusal should give the reader half the pleasure it has been to me to prepare it for the press, I shall not have labored in vain. The book is intended to be a Memorial Volume, and especially one to encourage young men who, under adverse circumstances, are striving to qualify themselves to preach the gospel. Bro. Allen was always in warm and loving sympathy with these—so much so, that he was rightly called the young preacher's friend.
It is a pleasure to say that such is the veneration of the publishers, The Guide Printing and Publishing Company, for the memory of our deceased brother, that but for them this tribute would hardly have appeared. With a generosity as rare as it is praiseworthy, they have undertaken to publish the work in the best style of their art, at a low price, and without any pecuniary risk to Sister Allen; and, indeed, in all their transactions with her they have given abundant proof that men can carry into business the benevolent spirit of pure and undefiled religion.
It only remains to be said that whatever profits arise from the sale of this book go to the wife and children of its lamented author, and that should sufficient encouragement be given, a companion volume containing the letters and miscellaneous productions of Bro. Allen may in due time be issued.
Lexington, Ky., May, 1887.
|Birth and Ancestors. Family Circumstances. "Fist and Skull" Entertainment. Removal to Ohio and Return. Fight with his Mother. Gets Lost. His Father Buys a Farm. The "Improvements." Plenty of Hard Work. His Opinion of Work and of Play.||1|
|His First School. The School-house. The Teacher. The Order of Reciting. Spelling Matches. First Sweetheart. Extremes in Likes and Dislikes. Fondness for Study. Improvement in Schools.||7|
|His Religious Experience. Tries to be a Methodist. Hopes to Become a Preacher. Boy Preaching. Attends a Sunday-school. "Chaws" Tobacco. Goes to Love Feast. Mourners' Bench Experience. Is Puzzled and Disgusted.||12|
|Fun and Mischief. His Little Cousin and the "Gnats." The Aurora Borealis. A Bumble-bee Scrape. Another Bee Scrape. Justification by Faith Alone. Readiness to Fight. Love of Justice. No Surrender.||17|
|Given to Abstraction of Thought. Cases in Point. Opinion of Debating Societies. Perseverance. Consumption. Endurance. More Comfortable Home. Death of his Father. Love of Fashionable Amusements. Meets his Future Wife. Is Married. Tribute to his Wife. Her Father and Mother.||25|
|Goes to Housekeeping. Discussions with Mr. Maddox. Attends Meeting. Is Baptized by William Tharp. Double Damages for an Old Horse. Begins Trading. Moves to Floydsburg. Description of the Place.||31|
|Tries to Become a Politician. Fails. Last Act as a Politician. Tries to Join the Southern Army. Fails Again. His First Appointment. Feeling of Responsibility. His Plan. Text. Analysis of Sermon. Buys a Family Bible. Rules of Life.||36|
|Resolves to go to College. Friends Oppose. Wife Decides It. Hard Living and Hard Work. Impaired Health. Preaches for his Home Church. Father-in-law Dies. "Frank, Be a True Man." House Robbed. "Scraps." College Incidents. First Pay for Preaching. Holds Several Meetings. Dishonest Preacher.||43|
|Leaves College. Goes to Alexandria, Ky. An Adventure in Ohio. A Baby not Baptized. Peril in Crossing the River. Opens his School. Makes Some Money. Buys a Nice Home.||52|
|Narrow Escapes. Is Thrown from a Horse. Has Pneumonia. Nearly Killed. Self-possession. Almost Drowned. Eludes Angry Soldiers. Reflections.||58|
|He Abandons the School-room. Remarkable Meeting near Alexandria. Incidents. Establishes a Church. Mischief-making Preachers. Long and Severe Attack of Typhoid Fever. Does not Lose Hope. Gratitude.||65|
|Sells out at Alexandria. Moves to Crittenden. Preaches there and at Williamstown. Low State of these Churches. Plan of Work. Memorizing in Sunday-school. Lack of Church Discipline. One-Man System. Moves to New Liberty. Visits Mount Byrd||71|
|History of the Mt. Byrd Church. When Established. Where. Charter Members. Officers. Preachers. Number of Members. Three Things Contributing to its Prosperity. New House of Worship. Serious Trouble in the Church. How Settled. Method of Raising Money. The Church Builds Allen a House. Organizes a Sunday-school. How it is Conducted||77|
|He Moves to Mt. Byrd. Debate with J. W. Fitch. Preaches at Madison, Ind. Protracted meetings at Columbia, Burksville, Thompson's Church, Dover, Germantown, Pleasant Hill, Burksville again, Beech Grove, Dover again||88|
|Begins Preaching at Beech Grove. Debates with Elder Hiner. Amusing Incident. Holds Many Meetings. Debates with Elder Frogge. Debates again with Elder Hiner. Repudiates Miller's Book. Sick Again. Holds more Meetings||96|
|Continues to Evangelize. Dr. Cook's Prescription. Incident at Glendale. Peculiar Feature in the Meeting at Madisonville. The Fractious Preacher at Sonora. Closes his Evangelistic Labors. Establishes the Old Path Guide. The Bruner Debate||101|
|Visits Midway. Attends the Missouri State Convention. Reflections. Annual Sermons. Last Protracted Meeting. Kindness of Mt. Byrd, Glendale and Smithfield Churches. Gives up Office Work. Goes to Eureka, Ill. Country Home. Takes Cold at the Lexington Convention. Goes to Florida||107|
|Organizes a Church at DeLand. Health Improves. Relapses. Starts Home. Resignation. Sells His Interest in the Guide. Begins Writing again. Attends Two Conventions. Goes to Texas. At Home again. Works on.||113|
|Reflections on his Fiftieth Birthday. What a Wonderful Being is Man! Governed, not by Instinct, but by Reason. Man Lives by Deeds, not Years. How to Grow Old. Half of Life Spent in Satan's Service. Renewed Consecration. Last Three Birthdays. His Trust in God.||118|
|Conclusion, by the Editor. Tokens of Love from Many. Keeps Writing. Controversy with the Standard. Last Meeting with His Mother. Visited by Professors McGarvey and Graham. Commits His Writings to the Latter. Visits Eminence and Lexington. Many Brethren Come to See Him. Meeting at Mt. Byrd. Estimate of His Character. The Closing Scenes. Farewell to His Family. Dies. Funeral Services.||127|
|I.||—Culture and Christianity: their Relation and Necessity.||137|
|III.||—Plus Ultra vs. Ne Plus Ultra.||175|
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
|I.||—Christ the Lamb of God.||190|
|II.||—Christ the Bread of Life.||194|
|III.||—Christ the Water of Life.||199|
|IV.||—Christ the Son of God.||202|
|V.||—Christ the Son of Man||212|
|VI.||—Christ the Great Teacher||218|
|VII.||—Christ the Deliverer||223|
|VIII.||—Christ the Great Physician||230|
|IX.||—Christ Our Mediator||236|
|X.||—Christ Our Mediator (continued)||242|
|XI.||—Christ Our High Priest||249|
|XII.||—Christ Our Righteousness||254|
Birth and Ancestors. Family Circumstances. "Fist and Skull" Entertainment. Removal to Ohio and Return. Fight with his Mother. Gets Lost. His Father Buys a Farm. The "Improvements." Plenty of Hard Work. His Opinion of Work and of Play.
I was born near La Grange, Oldham county, Ky., March 7, 1836. My father, Francis Myers Allen, was born in Brown county, Ohio, December 7, 1807. He was the son of Thomas Allen, who, in 1812, when my father was only five years old, moved from Brown county, O., to Shelby county, Ky., and lived on Little Bullskin, a few miles west of Shelbyville.
My mother, Sarah A. Gibbs, was a daughter of James L. Gibbs and Mary Ashby, and was born in Loudoun county, Va., April 6, 1808. The family moved from Virginia to Kentucky in 1810, and lived in Shelbyville.
My grandparents on both sides reared large families of industrious, thrifty children, and both grandfathers lived to be quite aged, my mother's father living to be nearly one hundred years old.
My parents were married near Simpsonville, in Shelby county, April 9, 1829, and to them were born thirteen children—five boys and eight girls—ten of whom lived to be grown. I was the fifth child—two boys and two girls being older. The oldest child, a boy, died in infancy. Being poor, both parents and children had to work hard and use strict economy to make ends meet. We all knew much of the toils and hardships of life, little of its luxuries. Both parents were blessed with good constitutions, and had fine native intellects, but they were uneducated save in the mere rudiments of the common school. They thought that "to read, write and cipher" as far as the single rule of three, was all the learning one needed for this life, unless he was going to teach. If my father's mind had been trained, it would have been one of vast power. He was philosophical, a good reasoner, and possessed of unusual discrimination. He had also great coolness and self-possession in emergencies.
In illustration of the latter statement, there recurs an incident in my father's life that will bear recital. In those old-fashioned days of "fist and skull" entertainments on public occasions, it was common for each county to have its bully. Oldham at different times had several—men of great muscular build and power, whose chief idea of fame was that they could "whip anything in the county." My father was a small man, weighing only one hundred and thirty pounds, and of a peaceable disposition. Indeed, it was hard to provoke him to pugilistic measures. But circumstances caused one of these bullies to force a fight upon him at La Grange, in which the man was whipped so quickly and so badly that no one knew how it was done. The man himself accounted for it on the ground that "Mr. Allen came at me smiling." This caused one or two others, at different times, to seek to immortalize themselves by doing what the first had failed to accomplish; but with the same result.
Being a farmer, my father was never without occupation, and he always had plenty for his boys to do; hence I knew nothing but hard work on the farm, except a few school days in winter, from the time I could pull a weed out of a hill of corn till I reached my majority.
In the fall after I was born my parents moved from the farm near La Grange to Brown county, O., not far from Hamersville. There they remained a year; but my mother being much dissatisfied, they moved to Floydsburg, Ky., and in the following spring, when I was two years old, returned to the old place where I was born. Here the memories of life begin. The incidents of daily life from this time forward are fresh in my memory to-day. Here I had my first and last fight with my mother. When I was three years old, my father, one day in June, was plowing corn in a field not far from the house. When he went out, after noon, I wanted to go with him. He took me behind him on the horse to the field. When we got there I wanted to come back. He brought me back. I then wanted to go to the field. He took me to the field. I then wanted to come back. He brought me back. I then wanted to go to the field, but he left me, telling my mother to take me in charge. Because she attempted to control me I began fighting her. She whipped me with a small switch, and I fought till I fell. Being completely exhausted, I begged my oldest sister to fight for me, and when she refused and I had recovered a little, I got up and went at it again. But when I fell the second time, I lay till they took me and put me to bed, and there I remained several days. Though I did not surrender, I never afterwards felt disposed to renew the engagement. It was almost death to my mother, for she did not chastise me in anger; her firmness, however, saved me.
In the spring of 1840 we moved to a farm some two miles south of La Grange, on the road leading from that place to Ballardsville. Here we lived one year. Only one event worth naming occurred while we lived here. My mother took myself, an older sister, and a younger brother to visit a sister she had living in La Grange. It was a beautiful summer day, the roads were good, and we walked. My mother stopped at the house of a neighbor on the road side for a few minutes, and told us to go on, and be sure not to leave the road. With childish perversity we thought the green fields better than the dusty road, and were soon into them. It was not long till we were completely lost, and naturally wandered the wrong way, not thinking to observe the sun and consider our course. So, when we did not put in an appearance, the whole neighborhood was aroused, and several hours of excitement followed before we were found. My sister Bettie, two years my senior, was captain of this expedition.
In the spring of 1841 my father bought a farm of one hundred and twenty acres, lying about three miles southwest from La Grange. Most of the land was poor, and the "improvements" equally so. The house was a hewed log cabin about 18×20 feet, with clap-board roof held down by weight poles, and the walls "chinked" with mud. It had a large fire-place at one end, and a chimney made of slats and mortar, familiarly known as a "stick" chimney. The only window was paneless, with a solid shutter hung on leather hinges, propped up with a stick, except when it was wanted down. The floors above and below, were of broad lumber, and laid loose. The door, when closed, was fastened with a big pin. A narrow porch ran along the front, connecting with another at one end of the house, between it and the kitchen. This was large and of the same style of architecture as the house, but what that style was would puzzle any one to tell. These two rooms and porches, with the smoke-house and hen-house, constituted the "improvements" in that line. The out-buildings were stables and a crib, of round logs. The fences were all of rails, and inferior in kind. "Bars" and "slip-gaps" supplied the place of gates in some places, and in others the fences had to be often pulled down for lack of such conveniences. A fine spring gushed from the foot of a hill, one hundred yards in front of this humble abode. The location of dwellings, in that age and country, was determined almost exclusively by springs. Every other consideration yielded to this.
Here we took up our abode in a home of our own in the spring of 1841, as above stated. The farm was afterwards enlarged by other purchases, and the original still remains in the family. The poverty of the soil, its tendency to produce briars, its large amount of heavy timber, with the clearing necessary to be done, made it a place specially favorable for the cultivation of industry. My father was one of those men who never ran short of work; he always had plenty of it for himself and the whole family. Recreation was almost unknown, and we had hardly rest enough to secure good health. We were not of those who had to resort to base-ball and foot-ball for exercise; it was ours to combine pleasure with profit, only the profit was more than the pleasure. There is no doubt that employment contributes to health of both body and mind. Good blood, good thought and good morals are born of industry, provided it be not pushed to the extreme of exhaustion. Children and young people must have relaxation from toil, that both the physical and mental powers may recuperate; but not much attention was paid to this beneficent philosophy in my father's family. Had there been, it might have been better for at least some of his children in after years. There is a golden mean in this, as in other things, which parents sometimes miss in their blind adhesion to a false theory. Rest and labor are both appointments of God's benevolence.
His First School. The School-house. The Teacher. The Order of Reciting. Spelling Matches. First Sweetheart. Extremes in Likes and Dislikes. Fondness for Study. Improvement in Schools.
At the age of about seven I attended my first school. The house was on my father's farm, a half a mile from our dwelling. It was constructed of round logs, and had five corners—the fifth was formed at one end by having shorter logs laid from the corners at an obtuse angle, like the corner of a rail fence, and meeting in the middle. It was built up thus to the square, then the logs went straight across, forming the end for the roof to rest on; consequently this fifth corner was open, and this was the fire-place. Stones laid with mud mortar were built in this corner, extending several feet each way, and wood nearly as long as the breadth of the house would be filled in. The seats were split logs smoothed on the flat side, and supported on legs put in with an auger. From these the feet of the children dangled early and late. There was no support for the back. The house had a dirt floor and a clap-board roof. Light was let in by cutting away part of two logs in the end. A wide puncheon was fastened just below this for the writers, with a seat to correspond. During winter they pasted paper over these openings, and light for the rest of the school came down the chimney.
The first teacher we had was an old man by the name of Ballou. He lived on our place, not far from the school-house, and taught for several years. He was very poor, did poor teaching, and got poor pay. He was master of only reading, writing and ciphering.
There were no classes in the school, and each one went it independently, studying what suited his taste and ability. Some read in the Testament, and others in any book they happened to have. In those days the rule was that those who got to school first "said first"—that is, they recited in the order in which they got to the house. This would sometimes get up a great rivalry, and I have known young men living two miles away to be at school before daylight. The whole day, except an hour at noon, was spent in saying lessons. The old teacher sat in his chair, and the pupils went to him one by one, in the order in which they got to the house, and said their lessons. When they got around, the same process was repeated. Sometimes between turns the old man would take a little nap, and then we all would have some fun. One more bold than the rest would tickle his bald head or his nose, and to see him scratching would afford us much amusement.
Each Friday afternoon was spent in a spelling-match. Captains were chosen, and they would "choose up" till the school was divided into two classes. Beginning at the head, one of each class would stand up and spell, till one was "turned down;" then another took his place, and so on until all on one side were down. I began at this school in the alphabet, and the second winter I could spell almost every word in Webster's old Elementary Speller. If provided with a sharp knife, and a stick on which to whittle, which the kind old man would allow, I could generally stand most of an afternoon without missing. Strange to say, after a few years, when I had given myself to the study of other things, it all went from me, and I have been a poor speller ever since.
In this school I had my first sweetheart—a buxom, jolly good girl, about six years my senior. To her I wrote my first love letter, and when it was done its chirography looked as if it had been struck by lightning; and I had to get an old bachelor friend to help me read it. Here I am reminded of an early tendency to extremes in my likes and dislikes. I had a race one morning with a girl whom I saw coming to school from an opposite direction, each striving to get into the house first. I clearly went in ahead, but she claimed the race and beat me out of it. From this on I had an extreme dislike for her. The spring to which we all had to go for a drink, was about a hundred yards from the house. The path to it passed through a broken place in a large log that lay across this path. In this I would never walk, nor would I pass through the gap, but would always climb over that big log.
These school days were only during winter, after the crop was all gathered in and before spring work began. After I got large enough to help in winter work, my attendance was only "semi-occasional." After a while a better school-house was built, a mile further away, and it was every way more comfortable, save that we had still the backless slab seats. Here I went at odd times in winter for several years. I had acquired a great fondness for reading, devouring everything in the way of books I could lay my hands upon. Especially I had a great passion for history, biography, geography, natural philosophy, and the like, and I let nothing escape me that the country afforded. I had no money to buy books, and had to depend on borrowing them. I soon went through arithmetic, grammar, and the history of the United States. This was more than my paterfamilias recognized as essential to a practical education, and hence he was not disposed to let me go to school as much as the other children, who gave themselves no concern about books out of school. The idea of one's going through grammar, philosophy, or more than half the arithmetic, "unless he was going to teach," he regarded as a waste of time. His conception of life and mine were so different that there was frequently more or less friction. It was decidedly unpleasant from youth to manhood to be discouraged and opposed in my one absorbing passion for obtaining an education. My mother sympathized with me, but could not help me. The first dollar I ever made I spent for a book, and for this purpose I saved my hard-earned pennies. Midnight often found me poring over this book by the light of kindling prepared for the purpose. This was opposed; and thus the struggle went on during my minority.
I can not forbear, before closing this short chapter upon my school life, to allude to the great improvement in the matter of common schools since I was a boy. My native State, though sadly behind many of her younger sisters, has made some progress in this direction, and I can but hope this is only an earnest of what is to come. In a few favored localities, chiefly the cities, there is ample provision made for the education of the children of the people, but in the country districts much remains to be done before we are up with the demands of the age in regard to the comfort of the pupils as well as the facilities for the prosecution of their studies. We need more and better school-houses, better furniture, and more attractive surroundings. Well qualified and earnest teachers are not yet as thick as blackberries in Kentucky. When as much attention is bestowed on these as on jockeys, and on our boys as on our horses, we shall be both richer and better.
His Religious Experience. Tries to be a Methodist. Hopes to become a Preacher. Boy Preaching. Attends a Sunday-school. "Chaws" Tobacco. Goes to Love Feast. Mourners' Bench Experience. Is Puzzled and Disgusted.
My parents were Methodists, as were their ancestors on both sides. My mother was uniformly religious, but not fussy about it. I have seen her intensely happy, but never heard her shout. Her religion was a deep, smooth, current without fluctuation. My father was religious more by spells, but still he never went to extremes, and could never "get religion" at the altar, in the Methodist fashion. This lifelong failure of his discouraged him, causing him at times to become somewhat skeptical and indifferent. But he died, rejoicing in the faith of Christ as held by the Methodist Church.
When about ten years of age I joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. A great revival was in progress at La Grange, and over one hundred persons united with the church. I enjoyed the services, and continued to do so for a number of years. Often in those early times I rode to meeting at surrounding churches and private dwellings on horseback behind my mother. I still remember, as vividly as if it were but yesterday, the texts and treatment of many of the sermons I heard. In later years I have frequently thought of the fallacies the preachers imposed upon us, and, I charitably believe, upon themselves, in these sermons, but which neither we nor they could detect for want of correct scriptural knowledge. The thought that I should one day become a preacher impressed me, and it clung to me for years. When afterwards I grew wild and wicked, this impression possessed me, and many a time, when my good wife would rebuke me for my wickedness, I would say, "Never mind, dear; I'll be a preacher yet." I had a high regard for preachers, and from early life was fond of their company; and since I have become one myself, the society of good, faithful men of God brings me as near heaven as I shall ever be in the flesh.
It was a common thing with me, when I came home from meeting, to get up one of my own by gathering the children together and preaching to them the sermons I had heard; and while these were not verbally correct, there was in them the substance of what the preachers had delivered. I would sing and pray, and go through the whole performance. I improvised a little pulpit, and had a church after my own notion; I was a great plagiarist, and in this, too, I copied after some others.
I attended the first Sunday-school I ever heard of; it was conducted by Floyd Wellman, a gentleman who afterwards became a prominent and honored citizen of Louisville. Sunday-schools were then poor things, as I fear many of them are yet. Little question-books, with the answers supplied, and reading-books, mostly about angelic boys and girls who died of early piety, furnished the staple of our reading, while but little of the Scriptures was taught, or thought about.
To chew tobacco seemed to me to be manly; so to let the people see I was thus far developed, I prepared me a rough twist of "long green;" this I stuck in my pantaloons pocket, for the occasion, and when everything was propitious in the Sunday-school, I drew out the twist and bit off a "chaw." It raised quite a laugh, in which the superintendent himself joined; and this ended for life my chewing tobacco to be seen of men.
I often went with my parents to "love feast." At the first of these which I attended I had an experience of my own. The light-bread was cut into slips about two inches long and a half an inch wide and thick. Some of these were then divided into small pieces. On the plate which was passed around were two long pieces, and I concluded that if there was any virtue in the thing it would be enhanced by my taking a long one; but when I discovered that all the rest had taken but a bite my philosophy failed, and I hid the remainder where Rachel hid the gods of her father Laban.
When about fifteen years of age the Methodists had a big revival at Mount Tabor, a neighboring country church. In this meeting a great many of my friends and companions were "getting religion" at the altar of prayer. I became intensely desirous of the same blessing, and in great anxiety and hopefulness I went to the altar. Day after day did I go, but only to be disappointed. Every time some would "get through," and there would be great rejoicing, till only one young man and myself were left. The whole power of the church was then concentrated on us, but to no purpose. In this extremity I began to reason about it as I had not done before. I had been taught that "God was no respecter of persons; but that in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." My soul ever recoiled from the idea of His decreeing some men to salvation and others to damnation, irrespective of their own will and conduct. Here, now, I was as helpless as a stone till God should do this work of grace for me. Why would he send down the Holy Spirit and convert one on my right, another on my left, till the "bench" was vacant, and not convert me? The preachers were praying for Him to do it; my father and mother were praying earnestly for it; the whole church were pleading with Him, and yet He would not do it. I knew I was a sinner; that I wanted salvation; that I was sincere, earnest as the others could be: but all this availed nothing. The preachers tried to explain the failure on the ground that I was still clinging to the world and my own righteousness; that I had not given my heart wholly to God, etc. This I knew to be false. I concluded that if a poor, penitent, agonizing sinner with all his prayers and pleadings, with the whole church earnestly coöperating, could not induce God to save him, he might just as well be decreed to damnation from all eternity. With these reflections I left the mourners' bench in disgust, and ever since I have had for it an inexpressible contempt. Time and observation have confirmed me in this feeling; and while I cherish a sincere respect for those who in ignorance think it is a divine arrangement, and that in resorting to it they are obeying a command of God, I have none for those who, knowing better, still use it as a means of conversion. As often employed by professional evangelists, there is so much of clap-trap that it must bring the whole subject of religion into contempt with sensible people. It is amazing to me that, in view of its entire lack of Scripture precept or example, the light and knowledge of this day, and its frequent failures, it, and the whole system of which it is an essential part, are not laid aside.
Having been taught that Methodism and Christianity were identical, and having completely lost faith in the former, it was natural enough that I should become skeptical as to the latter. Only a lingering suspicion that after all they might be different, saved me from hopeless infidelity; and had I not in after years learned such to be the case, I should have lived and died in rebellion against God.
Fun and Mischief. His Little Cousin and the "Gnats." The Aurora Borealis. A Bumble-bee Scrape. Another Bee Scrape. Justification by Faith alone. Readiness to Fight. Love of Justice. No Surrender.
When a boy, I was as full of fun and mischief as an egg is of meat, and I have never got rid of it. With a younger brother and a neighbor boy of my own age, equally mischievous with myself, there was hardly a thing in the way of fun and frolic that we were not continually into. Hunting rabbits was our chief sport, and, when we got larger, coons, 'possums and the like at night. There was not a tree of any peculiarity, or a hole in the ground, for miles around, that we did not know all about. We knew, also, every fruit tree, from the apple to the black-haw or persimmon in the same territory, and the time they were ready for company; and we never failed to pay our respects to them all in due time. I would not mention many of the bad things of my early life; but that is the way the Bible does with its heroes, and the Bible is always a safe guide to follow.
About all the money we made in our boyhood days was from the sale of nuts and the flesh and skins of the animals we caught during the fall and winter. This was my way of getting books, maps, etc., to help me in my studies. I was the recognized leader in all the mischief we did, and many prophecies were made that I should one day be hanged, and in this anticipation my father fully shared. My younger brother and I were constantly playing practical jokes on each other, and often upon others. We never became offended, though the pranks were sometimes exceedingly rough; but we were always watching an opportunity to "get even." I will relate a few as samples, while others are too bad to tell.
On one occasion some cousins and their children visited us from Shelby county. They were considered quite wealthy for that time. Their little boy was dressed in very fine clothes, at least, in our estimation, and we concluded he was putting on airs. We thought we would do him a valuable service by taking him down a little, so we asked him if he had ever seen a singular kind of gnat, which we described. He had not. We proposed to show him a fine lot—a big nest of them. We affirmed that they were nice, harmless things to play with. So we went forth to see the gnats. We got him to the nest and stirred them up, and in a few minutes the innocent, unsuspecting boy was covered with yellow jackets. Of course, he ran to the house screaming, and they had a time in getting them off of him. He was badly stung, but we made it appear that we had gone down there to fight them, which was a favorite pastime with us, and that he got too near the nest. Thus we escaped a well-merited whipping.
About the same time in life my younger brother and I caught a rabbit and dressed it for breakfast. It was Saturday afternoon, and father and mother had gone to her father's, some six miles away, to stay till the next evening. That night the aurora borealis was unusually bright, and as the excitement of Millerism had not died away, there was much talk of the world's coming to an end. My oldest sister, Mary, was getting supper ready and was greatly alarmed. She would go out and watch the sky, and then go back to see about the supper. Finally I said, "Mary, do you really think the world will come to an end before morning?" "I do believe it will," said she. "Then," said I, "we must have the rabbit for supper." I had no notion of losing my rabbit by such a trifling circumstance as that.
Later in life, when old enough to work in the harvest field, we had a neighbor who was very "close," and we never had any fancy for him. He was always boasting of his ability to work with bees. One year he had a large harvest, and many hands employed, and we were helping him. One day we told him we had found a fine bee tree which could be cut down in a few minutes, and that if he would go and take the honey he might have it all except what we could eat. He was delighted with the proposal, so after supper a number of us started for the bee tree, a mile and a half from his house, in a dense forest. He had several buckets prepared to secure a large amount of honey. When we began to chop, the bees began to roar, and our friend was frantic with delight. Soon the tree fell, and he "waded in" with his axe and buckets to get the luscious spoil. As he went in we went out, and soon he discovered himself in a big bumble-bees' nest alone with all his buckets, etc., a mile and a half from home! We saw no more of him that night, and did not care to meet him next day.
This reminds me of another bee scrape, in which my father figured largely. He prided himself on being able to handle bees as so many flies. On a cool, drizzly day we cut a bee tree on the farm. I was wearing a brown jeans sack coat. This I laid aside while chopping. When the tree fell the bees swarmed forth in great numbers, and my father stalked in with his axe, chipping and cutting the limbs, preparatory to chopping for the honey, and was as indifferent as if surrounded only by gnats. We stood at a safe distance. Soon he came out with a trifle less indifference than he went in with, picking the bees out of his hair with both hands. They had literally settled on his head and were stinging him furiously. He came running to us to fight them off. I grabbed up my coat, and with both hands struck him over the head. A large jack knife, very heavy, was in one of the pockets, and this struck him on the opposite side of the head and came near felling him to the ground. We fought the bees off the best we could, but he was terribly stung. This was the last of his working with bees as with flies.
My father was a firm believer in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. All those passages of Scripture that connect justification or salvation with faith, without mentioning anything else as a condition, he had at his tongue's end. His argument was, whatever may be mentioned elsewhere, here salvation is promised on the condition of faith, and nothing else is in the text. With all this I had become perfectly familiar, and always had a suspicion that there was a fallacy in it some where, though I could not exactly expose it. We were clearing a piece of new ground in April, about the time the spring fever sets in, and my younger brother and I always "had it bad." It was a Monday morning, and father was going to La Grange to attend court. At breakfast he gave us very particular instructions about our work—what to do and how to do it—and a feature emphasized was that we were to keep at it. It was getting quite dry, and when he had started to town he hallooed back and said, "Boys, I want you to watch the fire to-day and not let it get out." "All right," we responded. His two directions, perhaps not an hour apart, reminded me of his theology, and I resolved at once to test its validity when weighed in his own scales. So we went out to the clearing, lay down under the shade of a tree, and "watched the fire" all day! Having returned, he asked us how we had got along. We replied, "Finely," that we had done what he told us; but when he came to "view the landscape o'er," we had to give an account for the deeds done in the body, or, rather, not done. I told him that his specific instruction was to watch the fire. "But," said he, "I told you before that, that you were to do the work." "Yes," I replied, "but the last time you said anything about it you did not allude to the work; but only to watch the fire. There was no work in the text." However, he was by no means disposed to look upon that as favorably as upon justification by faith only, which rests on the same principle. Still it opened his eyes to a fallacy in his argument that he had not seen before.
I generally lived in peace and good will with all the boys in the neighborhood, but a few times in my life feeling imposed on, or that some one else was, I got into fights, and always with those older and stronger than myself. I had learned something of the secret of success in that line from what I had heard said of my father. This often gave me a victory quite unlooked for. I would fight the best friend I had in the world if he imposed on one unable to cope with him. I had a companion much stronger than I, and inclined to be overbearing. On one occasion, at a corn husking, he tried to force a fight on a boy smaller than himself. When I saw he was quite determined about it, while the other boy was trying to avoid it, I said, "Jim, you and I are good friends. I have nothing against you in the world. I like you, but you can't fight that boy. If you fight any body you will have to fight me. I don't want any quarrel with you, nor do I want to hurt you, but if nothing but a fight will do you, that's just the way it has to be done." When he saw I was in earnest, the matter was dropped, and our friendship continued.
I was severely tried on one occasion. My older brother had a falling out with a neighbor, and we three were alone in the woods. I had a dislike for the man, as much as my brother had. He was boastful, bigoted and disagreeable. But in this particular case I saw clearly that my brother was in the wrong, I felt compelled, therefore, to take sides with the other man. At this my brother was deeply offended, and it took him a long time to get over it. He did not see his wrong, and thought my conduct very strange and unnatural, especially as I did not like the man. I deplored this, but could not yield the principle of holding justice superior to persons.
One of my difficulties was so peculiar that I will recount it. It was in the winter, and the ground was frozen deep. The day was bright, and on the south hillsides the ground had thawed to the depth of two or three inches. Several boys were together, and one of them several years older than I. He was a son of one of our tenants, and entirely too proud for one in his condition. He was imposing on my younger brother, and I gave him to understand he must not do that. With this he turned upon me. We were upon a south hillside, under a large beech tree, and the ground was thawed on top and frozen beneath. About the first pass I slipped on a root concealed in the mud, and fell on my back, with my shoulders wedged between two projecting roots and my head against the tree. I was utterly powerless. After pommeling me a while, he proposed to let me up if I would say "enough." This I declined to do. Then he would renew the operation, and then the proposition. The sun was three hours high, no one interfered, and I insisted that they should not. Sometimes he would lie upon me and talk for half an hour or more; he would argue the case, remind me of my helplessness, and that it would be death to lie there on the frozen ground till night. Then when his advice all failed, he would renew hostilities. Thus it continued till sundown. As the sun got low he changed his proposal. He would now let me up if I would promise to make friends, and not fight him. This I also declined. Finally, when he saw that nothing would avail, he gave me a few parting salutes, and, springing to his feet, ran away. Before I could get up he had such a start that I could not overtake him. For some time I watched for a chance to pay him back, but he kept out of my sight; and soon after his folks moved away, and thus the matter ended.
From my infancy it has been my disposition to stick to my convictions till I saw I was in the wrong. I can not say that I am obstinate, though it may have that appearance to others. I never could yield a point for policy's sake, though my adherence to my convictions has cost me a good deal. This led me early in life to be careful in coming to a conclusion, and I have always admired Davy Crockett's motto, "Be sure you're right, and then go ahead." I commend this homemade philosophy to all who may read this chapter.
Given to Abstraction of Thought. Cases in Point. Opinion of Debating Societies. Perseverance. Consumption. Endurance. More Comfortable Home. Death of his Father. Love of Fashionable Amusements. Meets his Future Wife. Is Married. Tribute to his Wife. Her Father and Mother.
During early life I was much given to abstraction of thought, and I am still down with the same disease. From morning till night, between the plow-handles or swinging the maul, I was absorbed in reflection. My reading and other studies raised many questions that I sought to find out. Natural philosophy and the elements of astronomy were subjects of peculiar delight, and would cause me to become oblivious of all surroundings. This frequently got me into trouble. It vexed my father very much that my mind was not more on my work, and he had but little patience with me. When about the house I would often realize that I had been told to do something, and I would start at once about it, and perchance when I came to myself I would find that I was at the barn or spring, wholly forgetful of what I had been told to do. On one occasion I was told to go to the lot and catch a horse and come to the crib, and my father would put the sack on for me, and I was to go to mill. I went and caught the horse, got on and went, but when I arrived the mill was in ashes; it was just through burning. On my return I saw that my father was not as serene as a May morning. But not till he spoke of it did I discover that I had gone off without the sack. I at once taxed my eloquence to give a glowing account of the fire, and thus divert his attention from my neglect.
Many a time have I acted ridiculously on account of this absorption of thought. While at Eminence College, there was a public exhibition one evening in the chapel. A few minutes before it began I went into the room of Prof. Henry Giltner, just across the hall from the chapel, and here I saw McGarvey's "Commentary on Acts" for the first time. I thought I would look into it for a moment before the exercises should begin; and that was the last I thought of the exhibition till some one came into the room just before its close, hunting for me.
One more instance of this nature must suffice. About 1872, I was holding a very successful meeting at Burksville, on the Cumberland river, and while I was preaching one night there came up a terrific thunderstorm, with vivid lightning and hard rain. A young man occupied a front seat who had just been reclaimed from a life of sin, and who is now a preacher. I had a faint recollection of seeing him leave the house. He had become alarmed at the storm and left, but I knew nothing of the confusion till the services closed.
Every fall and winter we would have debating societies at the school-house, and at these, men of considerable attainments would be present and participate—teachers, preachers, and lawyers. In these I took a deep interest. My reading enabled me to become well posted on most of the questions discussed; and by careful preparation I soon came to be recognized as a good debater for one of my age. These discussions were of great advantage to me, and I am clearly of opinion that debating societies, when properly conducted, can be made useful to aspiring young men.
From childhood my under front teeth passed up on the outside, and, when a good sized boy, I concluded that that was not just the right thing, and that I would bring them into their proper place. By an effort in drawing back my under jaw, I could barely get the edges to so pass as to make a pressure of any value. But with this slight purchase the operation was continued from day to day, till the work was accomplished. The teeth became very sore from pressure, and the muscles of the jaw very tired from the unnatural strain, but in about ten days it was all over, and the job complete for life.
Another case required much greater perseverance. My older brother was very hollow-chested, and died of consumption; several others of the family were afflicted in like manner, and met the same fate. When about sixteen, I had strong tendencies in that direction. My chest was becoming "hollow," and I decided upon an effort to counteract it. To this end I slept on my back with no pillow under my head, and a good-sized one under my chest. I would awake of a morning feeling almost too dignified to bend forward. This I kept up for two years, holding myself erect during the day, till my chest expanded and the threatening trouble was overcome. But for that I should have been in my grave long ago. The simple fact is, I have been fighting consumption since I was sixteen years of age.
While I was never robust in health or appearance, I was exceedingly tough, and had great power of endurance. One of my physicians told me long ago that in all his practice he had never seen anything that would compare with it. This enabled me to do as much work as men of much greater strength. In those days reapers were generally unknown in our country, and the grain was all "cradled." At this I was an adept, never meeting any one that could excel me. The same was true of jumping and running foot races. Hundreds of men could no doubt beat me, but I never happened to meet them. I kept up these exercises till I left college.
When I was about twelve years of age my father built a large and comfortable house on another part of his farm. It was of hewed logs, and a story and a half high, with a large kitchen and dining-room, porches, etc. It was subsequently weather-boarded, and it is still a comfortable, commodious dwelling, owned by my mother, who never left it till her children all married and went to themselves. Father died of typhoid fever in 1860, in the fifty-third year of his age. He left my mother in comparatively easy circumstances, with nearly three hundred acres of land, plenty of stock, and a considerable amount of money on interest. By industry and economy on the part of himself and the whole family this property was accumulated, and he died in the assurance that with prudence on our part we could all make a respectable living. My mother now makes her home with her oldest daughter, Mary Crenshaw, wife of Mr. O. B. Crenshaw, a few miles north of Simpsonville, Shelby county, Ky. She waits in confident expectation that before long she too will depart to be with Christ and His redeemed, where the families of his saints will be reunited for ever.
After I grew to be a young man, I became very fond of fashionable amusements; I liked dancing, and went far and near to engage in the fascinating exercise. I gave a great deal of attention to dress; priding myself on being a gentleman; hence I found a welcome in the best society. In those years of wildness and wickedness, some things I was careful to avoid. I never learned to play cards, to gamble, or to tolerate the company of immodest women. For the latter I had an invincible repugnance that grew stronger with my years.
In the summer of 1855, while harvesting for her uncle, I first met at the dinner-table Miss Jennie Maddox, the lady whom I afterwards married. I looked as rough and unprepossessing that day as she ever saw me afterwards. I was as brown as a Florida "cracker," and my dress was anything but elegant. Had I anticipated the forming of such a captivating acquaintance, I should have made some preparation, but I was caught, and I had to make the best of it. We were married September 11, 1856; I was twenty years and a half old; she ten months younger. From that time to this she has been a loving, faithful wife, prudent in all things, industrious and frugal, caring for me and her children; and, above all, a consistent disciple of Jesus Christ, whom she had obeyed several years before our marriage. When we first met I thought her very handsome; she was rather small, had auburn hair, blue eyes and fair skin.
"And to-day you are fairer to me, Jennie,
Than when you and I were young."
As to myself, I was six feet one inch in height, weighed a hundred and forty pounds, had brown eyes, and was, and am still, of a nervous-bilious temperament. My complexion was then, as now, very dark.
My wife's father, G. W. Maddox, was an elder in the Pleasant Hill church, Oldham county, Ky., near which he lived. The church is about two miles south-east of Baird's Station, on the Louisville & Lexington Railroad. He was a man of a firm logical mind, good general information, and more intelligent in the Scriptures than any man I ever met, outside of the ministry. I have heard several preachers make the same remark. He was, however, a timid man, and it was difficult to get much out of him in public. He began too late in life, and had no training in that direction. But he was a very popular man, both in and out of the church, and his counsel was generally taken. His wife was a timid, unassuming, good woman, very conscientious and religious. They reared a family of six girls and one boy, all of whom obeyed the gospel in good time. I myself baptized several of them.
My father-in-law and I soon became very much attached to each other, fond of each other's company, and I loved him as I loved few others. His fine information, philosophic Christian spirit and wonderful self-control first won my admiration, and this ripened into the strongest friendship. He, more than all other men, caused me to see the error of my way. We spent the first winter of our married life in his pious home, and this gave us much time for investigation and conversation upon the subject of religion.
Goes to Housekeeping. Discussions with Mr. Maddox. Attends Meeting. Is Baptized by William Tharp. Double Damages for an Old Horse. Begins Trading. Moves to Floydsburg. Description of the Place.
In the spring of 1857 we moved to a place on Currie's Fork, near Centerfield, about a mile and a half from my former home and a little farther from hers. So it will be seen I married only a few miles from home. It may seem a little strange that we grew up in the same neighborhood, and knew nothing of each other till a year before we were married. But I rarely went to her church, and she as rarely went anywhere else. Our religious proclivities led us in different directions, and into different society. I had been taught to look upon "Campbellism" as the most miserable of all heresies; and till I began to visit at the Maddox house I was seldom in the company of "that deluded people."
After moving to ourselves, we went nearly every Lord's day to the home of my wife's father, and this for several reasons: she wanted to attend her church, and this took her virtually home: this she enjoyed, and so did I. The old folks could not visit us on that day without missing church, and this they would not do. Mr. Maddox and I still engaged in the investigation of Methodism, "Campbellism" and Infidelity. I could feel the ground gradually giving way under me, but I was resolved upon thoroughly testing every inch, and not yielding till I should become satisfied as to the truth of all his positions. I would therefore study all week and arrange my arguments with the utmost care, and when the time seemed propitious I would present them as forcibly as I could. He would never say a word till I was through; then he would say, "Well! now let us test that." Then he would very calmly and pleasantly pick the thing all to pieces, till I could see nothing but shreds. With a mere touch, my carefully built structure would tumble like a cob house. Thus the work went on for years. In the meantime I attended meeting with my wife nearly every Lord's day, and heard much good preaching. Every important point in the sermon would be afterward investigated, and, like the noble Bereans, I searched the Scriptures daily, "to see whether those things were so."
During these years several successful meetings were held at the church, all of which I closely attended. One of these was conducted by John A. Brooks, and another by the lamented Simeon King. At the latter I came very near yielding to Christ, but persuaded myself that all was not yet ready. I delighted to see others obey the Lord, and enjoy the blessings of his religion, but I could not exactly see the way clear for myself. In spite of a more enlightened judgment, I would find some of my old erroneous notions clinging to me. I had a high regard for the church, and loved the company of its good members, and only a supreme carefulness, born of former blunders, kept me in disobedience.
In May, 1861, William Tharp and Wallace Cox were holding a meeting, and at this I confessed Christ, and was immersed by Bro. Tharp. My doubts as to the truth of the Christian religion and the way of salvation therein, had all been removed; and to this day not a shadow of a doubt has crossed my mind as to either. I now experienced a peace of conscience that I had not known since my thought was first disturbed in regard to the right way of the Lord.
I farmed for three years after marriage. The last year, we lived on the railroad just below Buckner's Station, and while here I had a little experience with the railroad company that teaches a lesson worth learning. I had an old horse, of not much value, but useful to me; he got out upon the road, and was killed by a passing train. I spoke of going to Louisville, to see if I could not get pay for it. The neighbors discouraged the idea, saying it would be useless. They cited a number of instances where stock had been killed, and in no case had any one obtained damages. But I went, found the Superintendent, and to him I made my speech of about three minutes' length. At its conclusion, he asked me if seventy-five dollars would satisfy me; and on my replying that it would, he handed me the money. He then remarked that the reason people got nothing in such cases, was because of the spirit in which they came and the way they talked about it. I left him feeling quite pleasant, for it was more than double the animal was worth. This was before I became an adept in Christian ethics.
In the fall of 1859 I began trading, having obtained an interest in a country store at a little place called Centerfield. We moved to the place, and I began to haul country produce to Louisville. I had a team which was said to be the best that came into the city, and I made weekly trips, bringing back merchandise. This I continued for three years, without the least regard to weather, and with scarcely a failure during the whole time. This employment threw me into rough associations in the city every week. Many engaged in like business from Kentucky and Indiana stopped at the same tavern, and most of them were given to dissipation. At home it was predicted that with my inclination to wildness this would finish me; and while truth compels me to confess that I often had "a jolly good time" with "the boys," the excess of wickedness I saw had an opposite effect, and I came out at last a preacher.
The next year we moved to Floydsburg, sixteen miles from Louisville, because, as I did not stay in the store, but did the hauling back and forth, it was a better location for us. It is an old town, in which my maternal grandfather lived before I was born, in which I spent much time before I was old enough to work, and around which cluster the earliest memories of life. It was once a place of large business, on the main road from Henry and adjacent counties to Louisville, and in ante-railroad times a large amount of wagoning was done through the place. At certain seasons great droves of cattle and hogs were driven through it, and everything was lively; besides, it had a good trade with the country around. But the Louisville & Lexington Railroad, which runs within a mile of the town, killed it as dead as an Egyptian mummy, because all this through business was taken by the railroad, and the surrounding trade went to the stations or to the city. It is, therefore, a quiet, undisturbed little place to live in, if one is not dependent upon making his expenses there. Most of the old citizens, business men of its prosperous days, have passed away, and the town has the appearance of being at their funeral.
As far back as I recollect, and I know not how much farther, it had in it one church, built of stone, small, and with a roof as sharp as the best presentations of Methodism that were ever set forth in it. About 1850, this ancient structure was replaced by one of brick, of good size, but poorly furnished. This is the only church that has ever been in the place; and while the people have been unusually quiet and moral, they have never been burdened with religion. There is a graveyard in the rear of the house, opened, perhaps, when the first building was erected, and in this silent spot sleep many of my friends and relatives. I have never thought it made much difference where one is buried—and in this I suppose I agree with most Protestants—but it is one proof of the improved taste of the age to see the care now taken of our cemeteries. Such places were unknown when I was a boy and where I lived, and even yet, outside of our cities and larger towns, they are too rare. Every village should have a neat and well-kept cemetery, to take the place of the neglected old burying-grounds where,
"Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
Tries to Become a Politician. Fails. Last Act as a Politician. Tries to Join the Southern Army. Fails Again. His First Appointment. Feeling of Responsibility. His Plan. Text. Analysis of Sermon. Buys a Family Bible. Rules of Life.
When I obeyed the Saviour, the brethren urged me to begin at once to preach the gospel. I had been accustomed to making political speeches, and public addresses of different kinds, and they thought I could just as easily preach a sermon as to make a speech on any other subject. But I was not thus inclined. I had political aspirations, and was not disposed to give them up. My idea was, that I could have a good influence on public men, in conversation and association, by being a faithful and consistent Christian. I regarded this as a field in which the influence of Christianity was much needed; and I decided to make this a specialty, while leading a public political life. But it did not take long for me to learn that there was at least a strong probability that the influence would go the other way. However successfully some men may be politicians and Christians both, I soon discovered that, with my temperament, the two things would not work harmoniously together. I concluded that if I continued in politics I would be a very sorry kind of Christian, if one at all. For a thing of this kind I had a deep repugnance. The issue, then, as it appeared to me, was finally forced upon me: Shall I give up politics or Christianity? Of course I was not compelled to give up Christianity in theory, but I felt that I would virtually do so in practice; and with me the difference between the two was hardly worth considering. While I felt that it was a great sacrifice, in a worldly point of view, to give up the golden dreams of a brilliant future, I decided in favor of Christ and the Bible. I shall never cease to thank God for the decision.
My last act in political life was attending, as a delegate, a State Convention at Frankfort, in August, 1861. This was, in some respects, a miserable affair, and I became thoroughly disgusted with politics and politicians, such as seemed to be pushing to the front, and crowding modesty and decency and honesty out of sight. I decided that that kind of association, that kind of companionship in the profession, that kind of trickery and treachery as food for daily thought, however successful one might be, was disgusting and debasing. I went home from the convention determined upon a clear cut-loose from the whole concern.
During the convention, Gen. Wm. Preston remarked in a speech that in one year from that day, "the stars and bars" would be waving from the dome of that capitol. In twelve months to a day, I went to Frankfort to see the Board of the Christian Education Society, about assisting me in college. The railroad was not in use, and I went by way of the Shelbyville pike. When I got in sight of the city, I saw "the stars and bars" waving from the dome of the capitol! Gen. Kirby Smith had possession.
When the brethren learned of my determination to give up politics, they renewed their solicitations in regard to my preaching. But I had become intensely concerned about the cause of the Southern Confederacy, and longed to take a part in what I then considered her struggle for independence and justice. In my misguided zeal, I regarded this a duty that patriotism would not allow me to exchange for anything till it was performed. Then, if spared, my life-work should be begun. A peculiar circumstance, greatly lamented at the time, kept me out of the Southern army. But I have long regarded it as a special providence of God.
I was an officer in a large cavalry company under the training of Col. J. W. Griffith. He had fought through the Mexican war, was an intelligent man, and a good soldier. He also fought through the late war, and was several times promoted. We had been drilling for some weeks, and the time was set for our departure. I had a good deal of unsettled business at Louisville, and went to the city to settle it up. During my absence the Federal authorities of Louisville were apprised, in some way, of the movements and purposes of our men, and two companies of cavalry were sent out to intercept them. Our men were notified of this, and went twenty-four hours in advance of the set time. Of all this I knew nothing, and when I got home the company was gone. I knew not which way it had taken, for our Colonel kept his own counsel. When night came I left home, determined upon an earnest effort to find the trail of the company and follow them. Twice I came near being caught by the soldiers in pursuit, and after a night's fruitless search, I was compelled to return disappointed. I had not another opportunity, and ere long I gave up the vain idea. But for that disappointment I should have gone into the Southern army; and what the result would have been will remain a secret till the day in which the results of all contingencies are known. But it is highly improbable that I should have ever become a preacher of the gospel of the grace of God. Thank Him for the providence that overruled me!
I finally yielded to the importunities of the brethren, and allowed them to make an appointment. This was in May, 1862, one year after making the confession. The meeting was announced two weeks ahead. It was a fine day, and through curiosity a great crowd assembled. I had never been in the pulpit before, nor made any remarks in the church except to pray. The brethren had a Bible-class every Lord's day when there was no preaching, and no public speaking was indulged in except a few remarks at the Lord's table, by one of the elders. Though I was accustomed to speak in public, I felt a responsibility in this matter that I never felt before. I decided upon three things as insuring success, or at least resulting in no harm:
1. To select a plain, practical subject, on which I would not be likely to indulge in false teaching.
2. To thoroughly study the subject, rather than the sermon.
3. To make myself thoroughly familiar with the analysis of the subject, and then talk about it, without relying upon memory as to language.
Relying on memory has been the cause of ten thousand failures, and has taken all the "snap" out of ten thousand more, that were considered a success. The intellect never leaps and bounds with vivacity when it is chained by verbal memory.
I selected for my text Matt. xvi. 24: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." I went into the pulpit alone, "introduced," as the saying is, for myself, and then spoke for forty minutes. While I felt embarrassed by a sense of responsibility, there was no confusion of thought in regard to the subject; hence no difficulty in its presentation. As it was my first sermon, the analysis of it may be of some interest.
I called attention, first, to the universal offer of salvation: "If any man." Second, to the freedom of the will: "If any man will." Third, personal responsibility involved in the foregoing. Fourth, self-denial as a condition of eternal life. Fifth, the nature and necessity of cross-bearing. Sixth, examples of self-denial and cross-bearing on the part of Christ and the apostles.
The church in which I preached my first sermon was the same in which I made the confession, and near which I was reared. For it I did my first regular monthly preaching, while in college, and in it held a number of successful protracted meetings, one annually, during the early years of my ministry. The old church is dear to me yet; its old members are my devoted friends, and I delight to visit them when Providence permits.
Immediately after obeying the Saviour I bought a family Bible and a pocket Testament; not that we had none before, but they were not such as suited my convenience. At home and abroad, in the city or the country, in the store or on the road, I had my Testament. As I drove all day along the highway, I would look at it occasionally to see how a certain passage read, and then study its meaning. I have never read the Bible largely, as some do, but I have studied it every day since I knew the way of life, unless I was too sick to have anything in mind. I have studied, doubtless, a hundred times as much without the book in my hands as with it. The idea that one can study the Bible only as he has opportunity to sit down with the book in his hands, is a great mistake. Hence many people complain of having no time to study the Bible, when the fact is they have nearly all their time, if they only knew it. I early learned to study the Bible at any time or under any circumstances, and the advantages of this to me have been beyond estimation.
As soon as I got my family Bible, I wrote on a flyleaf a few simple
RULES OF LIFE.
1. To study this book carefully and prayerfully every day.
2. To try to understand its teaching, regardless of the theories and traditions of men.
3. To make it the man of my counsel, the source and limit of my knowledge of divine things, and to speak on such matters only as it speaks.
4. To measure myself in everything by this standard, and bring my life, in all respects, in subjection to its divine authority.
5. To strive to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the truth, that I may become strong in the Lord, be a blessing to my fellow men, and at last obtain a home in heaven.
These rules, in some respects, have been closely observed; especially the first three. While in the others I have fallen immeasurably short, I feel that, upon the whole, the rules have been of great advantage to me.
Resolves to Go to College. Friends Oppose. Wife Decides It. Hard Living and Hard Work. Impaired Health. Preaches for His Home Church. Father-in-law Dies. "Frank, Be a True Man." House Robbed. "Scraps." College Incidents. First Pay for Preaching. Holds Several Meetings. Dishonest Preacher.
When I fully decided to devote my life to the ministry of the Word, I felt an overwhelming desire for a better education, in order to do the kind of work for the Master that his cause demanded. I had a good deal of general information that I had acquired through years of reading and study, but I was wholly ignorant of a number of things that I felt to be necessary to reliable, satisfactory work for the Lord. I wanted to devote my life to study, and I needed assistance in laying the foundation on which to build in after years. I decided, therefore, to quit business and go to college. This was vigorously opposed by all my friends. The church insisted that I had education enough, and that all I lacked was practice, to make me as good a preacher as there was need to be. My relatives opposed it, because they could not see the necessity, and it promised to wife and children only starvation. I had had some reverses, and had got just fairly square with the world. The flush war times had just come on. Trade was booming, money abundant and prices going up. I was now prepared to make money as I had never made it before, by five to one. To quit business just at that time, cut off all source of revenue, and go with a wife and three children to college, with but little money to start on, did, indeed, in one sense, look like absolute recklessness. Indeed, some of the brethren thought I was actually going crazy.
It was then argued that I should at least defer it a few years, till I should make some money, which was then easily done, and thus provide for the wants of my family while going through college. This looked very plausible; but I was deeply impressed with the blunders I had already made in trying to be a politician, then a soldier, and not going at once to the work of the Lord. I was afraid to dally about the matter any longer. I laid the case before the Lord and my wife. I knew she was to be the greatest sufferer by the change, and her counsel weighed more with me than that of all others. Considering what might result from delay, the brave little woman said "Go." That settled it.
In August, 1862, I wound up my business, and prepared to enter Eminence College. I rented an old, dilapidated house near the railroad, a mile above town. The place had about three acres for cultivation, and the same amount in grass. I kept a horse and buggy, a cow and several hogs. My wife raised a large number of fowls. I cultivated the ground, making it produce all it would, cut and hauled my fuel from the woods, and so managed as to be at no great expense in living. But when going to a city market every week, and feeling no embarrassment about money, we indulged in a style of living that now had to be discontinued. This went rather hard, but we tried to bear it bravely. The plainest and hardest living of our lives, by far, were those years at Eminence. The self-denial of my wife, for my sake and the gospel's, greatly encouraged me to bear the cross.
I did double work during the whole time, reciting eight times a day. This required intense application. I allowed myself eight hours for sleep, and the other sixteen were given to study. Whether eating, walking, working in the garden or chopping wood, I was boring into the questions of the recitation room. I would occasionally take a little turn with the boys on the playground at noon, but not often. I was fond of it, but felt that I could not spare the time. This was a sad mistake, confirmed by a life of broken-down health. But, like many others, it was not discovered till the mischief was done. A determined effort to crowd four years' work into two, under discouraging circumstances, resulted in impaired health; which continued labor beyond my strength kept impaired for the rest of my life. It is often stated that preachers suffer more from overeating than overwork. This is doubtless true to a large extent. But it was far from true in my case. I was never a large eater after I was grown. And when my health first failed me, want of a variety of good, nourishing food had no little to do with it. And all through subsequent life, a trouble has been to take sufficient food to meet the wants of the system.
I was the first married man that ever attended Eminence College. It was considered quite a novelty by some. But a few months later, in the same term, Bro. Briney came in. He and his wife boarded at the college. A few years later Bro. George Bersot and wife came, and married school-boys got to be quite common.
While attending school, I preached once a month for the old church at home—Pleasant Hill. The distance was twenty miles, with a good dirt road—when it wasn't bad. This afforded my wife an opportunity, during favorable weather, to go to see her parents once a month. And her father was now getting low with consumption. The church promised me no specified amount for my preaching, and, as is frequently the case, most of them considered the contract complied with when they gave me a hearing. They were not in sympathy with my college enterprise, and were not specially concerned about supporting it.
In May, 1863, my father-in-law died. In his death I lost one of my best and dearest earthly friends. He was the only one who encouraged me in my efforts for an education. While he could give me no material aid, being himself embarrassed by years of affliction, his wise counsel and deep sympathy helped me even more than money, badly as that was needed. When he was gone, I felt as if the only bright spot in my horizon, apart from my family, had faded into darkness. By nature he had a quick temper, and was very impulsive. By Christian culture he came to be a model in gentleness, patience and self-control. He was a wonderful example of how men, by faith, "out of weakness are made strong." As we stood around his bed of death, and his breathing indicated that the end was at hand, he opened his eyes as I was bending over him, looked me earnestly in the face, and composedly said, "Frank, be a true man." And with these words his spirit took its flight. No other words that ever fell from mortal lips ever so impressed me as these. The source whence they came, and the circumstances under which they were uttered, gave them peculiar significance. My soul, what is it for one to be a true man—true to his friends and true to his foes; true to his family and to her whose life is dearer to him than his own; true to himself and his better nature in all that involves his honor as a man; true to the truth, under all circumstances; and true to the Saviour and His cause, to which he has dedicated his life? Ever in after years when tempted in regard to a faithful discharge of its responsibilities, those sacred words came from the sleeping dust of death—"Frank, be a true man." Though dead, he yet speaks, and his words have been fruitful of good.
While attending his death and funeral, our house was broken into, and almost everything we had was stolen. We had laid in meat and lard for the year, and not a pound was left. All the flour, meal, sugar, coffee, preserves, jams, jellies, and everything else, was taken. Not a pound of anything to eat was left on the place. All the best cupboard ware, and part of the bedding and my wife's clothing were taken. This was a sorry plight to find ourselves in when we returned from the funeral. The country was full of soldiers, and nothing was done towards recovering the property. Thus we started on a darker and rougher road for the rest of college life.
During the first year at Eminence there grew up a strong rivalry between the two leading college societies—the Philomathean and the Rising Star. Both were strong in numbers, and each had in it an unusual amount of talent. I was appointed by the Philomathean Society to criticise the Rising Stars. This was my special business. I prepared what I called a scrap-basket. For this I would prepare notes from time to time, as something would suggest them, and on the nights of public exhibition, which were quite frequent, I would read them. These were cuts at the young ladies and criticisms of their performances, as sharp as I could make them. The result was, the whole Society soon got too much out of humor to speak to me. They called me "Scraps." Even Sister Giltner became offended, and was so for several months, till I was brought down in sickness, and then her good heart conquered, and she came to see me, bringing a load of delicacies to tempt and satisfy my appetite. The "scrap" at which she became offended was about this: Coming on the stage, the first scrap I took from the basket read: "We do not expect many compliments for this dish of scraps, especially from the young ladies of the boarding-house, as they are so used to being fed on scraps, it will be no variety to them." Sister G. prided herself on her good table. I knew it was good, and hence felt free to make the jocular remark. Had it been otherwise, I should have felt some hesitation in doing so.
President Giltner and I were in frequent conflict, and he came in for a full share of notice from the scrap-basket. While I would not assent to his views of things, which frequently caused disputation, on the whole he was kind and generous, and did much to help me through those hard school years. I have since met many of those young ladies in all parts of the country, mothers of interesting families, but not one of them had ever forgotten that scrap-basket.
Doctor Russell was my teacher in Latin and the Sciences, and Prof. Henry Giltner in Mathematics and Greek. The Doctor was a fine moralist, but an unbeliever. He was a fine teacher, and very popular with the boys.
In the public debates in our society, Bro. J. B. Briney and I were always pitted against each other. We were the oldest and the nearest equal in our advancement, especially in this line. We had quite a number of public discussions.
Here, as elsewhere, many went through on the shoulders of others. As an illustration of this, take two young men who were appointed on public debate. Soon each came to me insisting that I should write his speech. I refused both. The time was drawing nigh, and neither had done anything. One evening one of them went home with me from school, and compelled me, virtually, to write his speech. He was delighted with it. The next morning, while he was asleep, I got up and wrote a reply, just "tearing it all to flinders." The negative gained the decision, and neither one knows to this day that I wrote the speech of the other.
During the winter of 1862-3 I went to Hendronsville, the old church that now composes the one at Smithfield, to fill an appointment for Bro. Giltner. I went to dinner with old Bro. Hieatt. On leaving, he gave me a dollar—the first dollar I ever received for preaching.
In the summer of 1863 I held a meeting at Hendronsville, with Bro. Giltner, for which I was liberally paid, all things considered, and this was my first pay for a protracted meeting.
The same vacation, I went to South Fork, in Boone county, to fill an appointment for Bro. Wm. Tandy. Bro. Jacob Hugley was to come on the first of the week, and join me in a protracted meeting. Something prevented him from coming. I soon ran out of sermons, the supply on hand being small. In the meantime a fine interest had sprung up, and I had no excuse for quitting. So I had either to face the music, prepare and preach two sermons a day, or ingloriously surrender. The meeting continued two weeks, with some eighteen or twenty additions. During the same trip I held a meeting at a church near Walton, at which several additions were made to the congregation.
I did but little preaching during the school term. Convenient churches could not be obtained, and inconvenient ones took too much of my time to be given for nothing.
At Eminence I first met Bro. I. B. Grubbs. He came to preach for a few days, and spent a day at our humble home. I then formed for him a peculiar attachment, which has grown and strengthened with the passing years. Our minds ran close together in the channels of divine truth, and they have never materially diverged. A disagreement between us in the interpretation of Scripture has been very rare.
Old Bro. T. M. Allen preached for the church at Eminence while I was there. His sermons were enjoyable, and possessed considerable power, but they lacked logical construction, and I learned but little from them.
In a few weeks after going to Eminence, in the fall of 1862, we were blessed with the birth of a third daughter, and in the summer of 1864 the Lord took her to himself, and left us to mourn her absence.
In June, 1864, I went with Willis and Wallace Cox to Daviess county, to hold some meetings. Wallace was not able to preach, but went along for the enjoyment of the trip. He had labored there before, and was well acquainted. We held a meeting at Owensboro, and one at a new church some eight miles in the country. Both meetings were moderately successful.
As an evidence of what some men can do, I shall speak of a meeting held about this time, without giving place or name. The meeting had been successful, and a fine interest prevailed. The night it was to close there came a severe storm, and no one was out. We had to leave the next morning, and on the next Lord's day the brethren raised considerable money and gave it to the preacher to send to us. Some years after, the brother who was with me in the meeting went back there to preach for the church, and while there some one asked him whether he and I received our money all right. This was the first intimation that any money had been sent to us. The case was investigated by the church, and the man confessed he had never sent it. The brother got his, and the thief preacher promised to send mine, but hasn't done it yet. He is still preaching, and on several occasions has come a long way to hear me preach. What kind of a face and heart such a man can have, is a mystery I have never been able to solve!
Leaves College. Goes to Alexandria, Ky. An Adventure in Ohio. A Baby not Baptized. Peril in Crossing the River. Opens His School. Makes Some Money. Buys a Nice Home.
Having obtained a sufficient knowledge of Latin, Greek, and various sciences, to enable me to prosecute my education without a teacher, and my health being bad through close application and hard living, and feeling that I ought not to subject my family to such hardships any longer, I determined, very reluctantly, to leave college, at least for a time. I had now been at Eminence two years, and I shall ever thank God that even for this short time I was able to gratify my burning desire to acquire knowledge. It was at a great sacrifice we went there and remained as long as we did, but we have never once regretted it.
Through the influence of President Giltner, we secured the High School at Alexandria, Campbell county, Ky. This had been conducted for some years previously by Bros. O. A. and Chester Bartholomew, under the name of the "Mammoth Institute." I visited the place, and arranged to conduct the school and preach for the church there, which was small and financially weak; but there was no other in reach. So I could not do better than to give them all my time, at whatever could be raised in the way of salary. They had a nice little brick house, and a number of good members, and for several years the church prospered; but the county filled up with Germans, some of the best members moved away, and the cause went down. The house was sold, and to-day we have no church in the place.
After completing arrangements to preach and teach, I went over to Hamersville, Brown county, O., to see some relatives. A brother and sister of my father lived there, besides other relatives. My uncle had a large family. I had never visited any of them, and now being near and having a little time, I borrowed a horse and rode over. I sent an appointment for Lord's day at Hamersville, and got there about the middle of the week. I found that an appointment had not been made for Sunday morning, but for night. The reason was, the Methodists were to have a quarterly meeting in the woods near town—a big affair—and everybody was going. Hence I could get no hearing in the morning. I went to the meeting, as it was the only place to which to go. It was thought that three thousand people were on the ground. There were seven preachers. It was during the darkest period of the war, and every man from the south side of the Ohio River was looked upon with suspicion. I had been there several days, and quite a number knew who I was and where I was from. I took a seat near the stand, and when they prayed, in conformity with their custom, I kneeled in the leaves. The old preacher who "led in prayer" yelled as if his congregation was a mile away and God was on a journey. He began by praying for the President; then his Cabinet; then the Senate; then the Representatives; then the generals; then the colonels; then the captains; then the private soldiers. All this I tolerated, but did not say Amen. Finally he prayed for the utter extermination of the Southern people. He besought God to wipe them out of existence—men, women and children—from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico. This blasphemy and contemptible wickedness I could not endure, and I arose from my knees. Perhaps five hundred people saw me when I got up. The point in the prayer at which I got up aroused suspicion, and inquiry was in a moment rife. They learned who I was and where I was from, and the excitement grew intense. Numerous threats were made to hang me on a limb there and then. The country was full of what they called "copperheads," who had kept very quiet, because it was to their interest to do so, but now they were aroused, and any attempt at violence would have led to the most serious trouble. During the intermission at noon, men of different politics congregated in different groups, in earnest conversation, and the meeting was forgotten in the excitement over a refusal to indorse that prayer. I was waited on by a committee to know if it was my political feelings that caused me to get up when I did. Without hesitation, I confessed that it was. Then they said, "What more need have we of evidence?" It was finally decided, so we were informed, that I would not be allowed to preach at night—that they would egg me, etc. But at night, not only the house, but the yard, was full of "copperheads" who meant "business," and I preached without molestation.
They had been holding these meetings at various places throughout the country, and at all of them sprinkled all the children that their parents could be induced to bring. One lady had a bright little boy about eighteen months old, and when the Presiding Elder took him to "baptize" him, he said, "Sister, name this child." She responded, "His name is Vallandigham." He flew into a perfect rage, handed the child to her as if it were burning his fingers, saying, "If you want this child baptized you will have to change its name. I will baptize no child named for a traitor." The mother took the child and departed. We presume that had its name been Jeff. Davis, he would have broken its neck on the spot. Such was the "religion" of that class at that time. The speeches on the day alluded to were nothing but political harangues of the most exciting nature. Previously I had thought they had politics and religion mixed, but I now discovered that there was no mixture about it.
On my return, I had a little adventure in crossing the river. The ferry was at New Richmond. The boat was a small affair, propelled by poles and oars. It was just wide enough for a wagon, and had railings on the sides. A two-horse wagon went in before me. When we got some distance out into the river, one of the horses jumped over the railing, and caused the boat to careen so that it was filling rapidly. It was astonishing how those river men, who, perhaps, had been reared on the water, became excited. They seemed almost incapable of any intelligent action, but yelled like so many savages. I decided at once upon my course. I got into the wagon, calculating that the water would probably not come to my head while standing up, should the boat go down. If it should, then I determined to take my horse by the tail and let him tow me ashore. But the owner of the team succeeded in cutting the harness, thus freeing the horse and allowing the boat to right itself so that it did not sink.
We moved from Eminence to Alexandria, and boarded with a gentleman by the name of Brown. He had a nice family, a good house, and he was a clever gentleman, and a "hardshell" Baptist of the first water.
Our school opened about the first of September, with seventy-eight pupils, and it soon increased to 130. Not expecting so many, I had secured no assistant but my wife; and the result was, we were both over-worked. I had to hear several classes out of school hours, especially in Latin and Greek. There were some young men in these studies, clerks, merchants, etc., who were not otherwise in the school, and these recitations were in the evening after school was dismissed. This, with preaching every Lord's day, worked me very hard. The school paid well, and for the first time since I gave up business for the gospel of Christ, I made some money.
In a few months, as soon as I saw an open road to success, I bought a nice little cottage and two acres of ground, from Bro. Giltner, at $1,200. He had taken it for a school debt, and let us have it on reasonable terms. It was nicely improved, and altogether a desirable piece of property. Thus for the first time we had a home of our own. This is a luxury that comparatively few preachers can enjoy. Moving from place to place as, for example, Methodist preachers have to do, is unfavorable to domestic happiness. How few members of our churches ever think of this, or make allowance for the discomfort frequent changes of residence impose upon the families of their preachers! To own a home and have the taste and the means to adorn it, is an educational force in any family; its lack, a great misfortune.
Narrow Escapes. Is Thrown from a Horse. Has Pneumonia. Nearly Killed. Self-possession. Almost Drowned. Eludes Angry Soldiers. Reflections.
During the Christmas holidays we went down to Oldham county to see our relatives. While there, an event occurred, the recollection of which brings up a chapter of Narrow Escapes hitherto untold, a few of which I shall relate in their order.
When about thirteen years of age, a horse on which I was riding in a slow walk and on a level road, fell, throwing me over its head and coming over on top of me. It broke both bones of my left ankle and several ribs, mashing in my left breast, which has ever since been much depressed; it never developed like the other, and the lung on that side is the one now chiefly affected. This accident occurred at Ballardsville, on a public day, some three miles from home. I was taken to the home of Dr. Swaine, our family physician, near which it happened. He was absent, and a doctor from Shelby county was called. He had a carpenter to make a box, reaching from my foot to my knee, and in this he put my leg. The box was straight on the bottom, and as the break was just in the hollow between the calf and the heel, anybody that had any sense should have known that the broken part would settle down level with the rest, and a bad job be the result. It was badly set, and gave me much trouble for several years.
Following this, in successive winters, I had two severe spells of pneumonia in that left lung, in both of which my life was despaired of.
One day I was hauling heavy barn sills. They were swung under the hind axle, and the pole was tied by a chain back around the sill. The chain caught on a solid rock in the road, and, as I had four strong horses, and they all came to a dead pull, the chain broke; then the pole came over with force enough to have mashed every bone in a man's body. The horses happened to be on a straight pull, and the pole just brushed by my right shoulder and side. Had it struck me, I might as well have been struck by a cannon-ball. That ended my dragging logs without a block under the front end of the pole.
While trading in Louisville, a grocery firm with which I dealt to some extent had a clerk who was very dissipated at times. He was a desperate character, and, when drinking, was very dangerous. One day I sold them a lot of bacon, and this clerk, who almost had delirium tremens at the time, made a mistake in weighing it. When I told him of it, he took it as an accusation of intentional swindling. Instantly he came at me with a large cheese knife, swearing vengeance and his eyes flashing fire. There was nothing in reach with which to defend myself, and I could not well get out of his way. I decided instantly on the only possible way of escape. I stood perfectly still, did not move a hand, and looked him steadily in the eye. When he got to me, he hesitated a moment, and the uplifted hand with the huge knife dropped to his side. Not a word was spoken, nor did my eye fall from his, and he turned and went back to his work.
During the summer after I confessed the Saviour, quite a number of hands were harvesting at my father-in-law's. On Saturday evening we went to a large pond near by to bathe. It was made to supply a saw-mill by throwing a large dam across a hollow. It covered, perhaps, an acre of ground, and was twelve or fifteen feet deep in places. I never could swim successfully, but a number of those present were good swimmers, and there were many slabs on the pond that would float several men. I told them I believed I could swim across the pond, and if I could not there were too many good swimmers present to let me drown. I swam across once, and, after resting a moment, started back. When I got about the middle, I missed my stroke and went down. I thought nothing of it at first, fully expecting that when I came to the top they would save me. I came to the top, could hear them yelling like Indians, but no one came to my rescue. I took breath and went down again. When I came up the second time the result was the same. When I came up the third time, and no one there to help me, I began to get a little uneasy and considerably out of humor. I was becoming exhausted, and I knew that I could not come to the top more than once or twice more. I tried to go to the bottom, knowing that if I could touch bottom I could spring to the surface without exertion. But I could not reach the bottom. I came up the fourth time; still no one gave me assistance. By summoning the entire stock of remaining strength, I came up the fifth time. As I did so, a strong young man, Sparks by name, a good swimmer, caught me by the left arm near the shoulder. He told me to take hold of him, but this I refused to do. I thought this might endanger him, and that if I would be perfectly passive he could manage me with no danger to himself. But when I would not take hold of him, he let me go and swam off and left me. Another man was within ten feet at the time, coming to his assistance. When I went down this time, I was satisfied they were going to let me drown. I felt that I could not come to the top again, and could not reach the bottom. I thought if I could reach the bottom I could crawl out by springing to the top now and then for breath. But I could not touch bottom. I then began to calculate the chances of their getting my body out in time to resuscitate it. I knew it would not take long to cut the dam and drain the pond; but, when I reflected that they had not the presence of mind to do anything, I lost all hope in that direction. I saw no chance for me, and regarded the end as come. The reflection that I had obeyed the gospel was intensely joyous. During the whole time I had not strangled, knowing that it would be fatal. A young man named Gipson—Sam Gipson—one of the owners of the mill, was some eighty yards away, filing the saw. When Sparks swam away and left me, Gipson saw they were going to let me drown, and ran to my assistance. He got on one of the large slabs, and came in to where I had gone down. I was still making some commotion in the water, and, guessing about where I was, he pushed a plank down that came just under my left arm. I knew what it was, and pressed it to my side. He then bore on the other end and brought me to the surface. He held on thus till others came and helped me upon the slab. As soon as I got breath a few times I appeared to be all right, and they thought I was only playing a trick on them; but in a few moments I tumbled over, became black in the face, and suffered intensely for several hours.
On one occasion during the war I went into Floydsburg, on the morning after Christmas day. There was a little squad of Confederates there, belonging to the command of Col. Jessee, of New Castle, Ky. One of them was a boy, named Hall, who went from that neighborhood. The rest were strangers. I was introduced to the lieutenant in command, and had some talk with him. The main street of the town runs east and west. About the middle, the Brownsboro road comes in from the north, at a right angle. This comes down a "branch" which crosses the main street. At the east end of town the road descends into another hollow. Some of the soldiers were inside, some sitting outside, of a blacksmith shop, and some on their horses. I had walked near the east end, till I was just on the ridge between the two hollows. I was standing at the door of Col. Wilson, talking to his wife, when several companies of negroes, stationed at La Grange under the command of white men, came marching into town. They were a terror to the whole country. A little negro boy, chopping wood just at the east edge of town, informed the commander, who was riding in front, that the rebels were at the shop. Instantly everything was quieted, and a stealthy march for the shop began. From my position I could see both parties, and that the rebels were wholly unsuspecting. While they were nothing to me, and I had but little sympathy with them, for they were not in the regular service, I could not stand and see them surprised and shot. I determined to warn them. Mrs. Wilson tried to dissuade me, assuring me that it would be certain death. I confess I could see it in no other light myself, yet I could not decline. I walked down the street with an unconcerned air, about forty yards in advance of the company. The lieutenant was sitting on his horse sidewise, with his face turned from me, talking to a Presbyterian preacher. I could see the eyes of the preacher over the shoulders of the horse, but he was looking up into the face of the other man, and I could catch the eye of neither. Finally, I had to stop and make lively demonstrations in the face of the whole negro command. When the attention of the Confederates was attracted, they endeavored to escape by the Brownsboro road, and a charge from the other company was instantly ordered. Each company opened fire on the other. I was on the side of the street next to the Brownsboro road, and hence thrown into all of the crossfire. I stood perfectly still till the entire colored company passed by me. One man fell within a few feet of me, and afterwards died. They had a running fight till they got out of hearing. They caught young Hall, the only one I knew, and killed him. Notwithstanding the agreeable disappointment at not finding myself killed, I concluded that it might not be healthy to stay around there. The town contained one of the most unprincipled white men that ever went unhung. He was a sneak thief, and made it his business to get Southern men into trouble. I saw him watching me all the time. I concluded, therefore, that it would be better for me to leave town before the soldiers got back. I had not gone more than a mile when they returned, and threatened to burn the town if I was not produced. They were watching me from the first, and the only thing that saved me was they concluded that they could attend to me after they got through with the rebels. They were told that I had left town, and were put on the wrong road in search of me. I was then notified, and my holiday visit terminated suddenly.
When I think now of the many narrow escapes from death before I was a child of God, a number of which are not recorded, my heart overflows with gratitude for the kind Providence that spared me till I knew the way of life and had the precious promises of God. An ungodly man may be brave, and face death without a tremor, but only a child of God can face certain death as it comes on apace in the stillness of the sick chamber, and when the body is wasted with disease, in perfect composure and even inexpressible joy.
He Abandons the School-room. Remarkable Meeting near Alexandria. Incidents. Establishes a Church. Mischief-making Preachers. Long and Severe Attack of Typhoid Fever. Does not Lose Hope. Gratitude.
After teaching a year, I decided to abandon the school-room and give myself wholly to the preaching of the Word. In the summer of 1865 I did some mission work in Boone county, under the direction of the State Board. In August, I held a meeting in Campbell county, about five miles from Alexandria. The circumstances were a little peculiar. The Baptist meeting-house in Alexandria had been blown down, and they were using our house, at our invitation, every Lord's day afternoon, till they could rebuild. They had a house about five miles in the country, and a large congregation. Nearly the whole community were Baptists, and they claimed a kind of preëmption. We had not a member in the neighborhood. I was exceedingly anxious to hold a meeting in the very center of this stronghold, and thought that as they were using our house, they would grant me the use of theirs; but they would not. They offered to let me have it for one sermon, but not for a protracted meeting. This did not suit my purpose; and as there was an old log school-house near by, I made an appointment for a meeting in this, which was to begin on Sunday afternoon; and a few friends went with me from town. When we arrived at the place, not a soul was on the ground; so having waited after the time, and no one coming, I decided at once that the Baptists had reported the appointment withdrawn, so that when I came and found no one, I would be disgusted, and return home. But I was not disposed to be defeated in that way. There was no brother in reach with whom I could stay, but I told the friends to go back to town and leave me, and that I would hold the meeting, "if I had to sleep in the woods, live on pawpaws, and drink out of the 'branch.'" So they left me.
There was a man living about a mile away whom the Baptists had excluded about a year before, and who had no good feeling for them. Concluding that that would be the best chance for shelter, I went to the house, and learned from him that the appointment had indeed been countermanded, just as I suspected. He promised me food and shelter while I held the meeting. A number of neighbor boys were there with his, and these were told to circulate the appointment for next night. The following day he and I went and cleaned the house, putting in some "anxious seats," fixing it to hold as many as possible. He sent his boys out through the neighborhood notifying the people, and that night we had about thirty present. The next night the house was full; and from this on we had large audiences, day and night. In a few days we built an arbor in front, and seated it; then, standing in the door, I preached to those within and without. The meeting continued two weeks, and resulted in fifty-two additions. Twenty-seven of these were from that Baptist Church, and the rest by confession. A few of the twenty-seven, the man with whom I lodged among the number, were not in the fellowship of the church at that time.
Several incidents occurred during the meeting. A very wicked man began to attend, and one night he felt that he could stand the fire no longer; but as I was in the door, preventing his escape in that direction, he leaped out of a window, and ran off into the woods. In about ten minutes he came crowding in from the outside, to make the confession.
A Baptist man became interested in the meeting, but his wife was so bitter in her feelings that she would not attend. He finally prevailed upon her to come. Going home, he asked her how she liked it. "Better than I expected," was the reply. No more was said, but the next day she came without persuasion. When asked the same question, she said, "They don't preach what I thought they did." He was anxious to unite with us on the Bible, but was waiting in the hope of getting her to come with him. The next day she was in the house and he on the outside, and he did not know till the meeting was over that she had come forward and been received into the fellowship.
At this meeting a gentleman came and asked me to marry him that night after the services should be over. I told him I could not, as I had not obtained license to marry. He then asked if I would object to his getting a Methodist preacher who lived several miles away. That night there was a great crowd, and I saw nothing of the preacher, but while we were singing an invitation song a gentleman came pushing in, and gave me his hand. I thought, of course, he wanted to make the confession, and I tried to seat him with the others who had come forward; but he would not. He soon became excited, and, tearing himself loose, forced his way into the crowd. Just then some one whispered to me that that was the Methodist preacher. It was a long time before the services closed, and he was still so embarrassed that it was with great difficulty he performed the required ceremony. He hurried away without speaking to me, and then sent his apology, stating that he was so mortified over his blunder that he could not speak to me about it that night.
On account of the numbers, the distance from town, and the want of facilities for attendance there on the part of many of the converts, they insisted upon having a church of their own at the school-house. Under the circumstances it was thought best to comply with their request. No officers were appointed as such, because of inexperience, but several brethren were designated as those who should take a general oversight of the flock, conduct their worship, etc., but none had authority; and all were exhorted to be in subjection one to another. They met every Lord's day and broke the loaf, and had prayer-meeting Wednesday night. A large number took part in the worship. They had frequent confessions, and a blacksmith across Licking River, who preached, met them at the water, when notified, to attend to baptizing. They thus grew in a few months from the fifty-two to seventy-five, when two mischief-making preachers visited them and insisted that without ordained elders and deacons they were no church at all, and finally prevailed upon them to have a number of men ordained. I was sick, and knew nothing that was going on. These ignorant novices thought there was no use in having authority unless it were exercised. So they began to crack their ecclesiastical whip, and the peace of the church was disturbed. Things went from bad to worse till the whole congregation went to pieces. Thus a good work was destroyed by the folly of two ignorant, self-important preachers. Much mischief has been done in our reformatory work by hasty organization. Like the New Testament churches, we should have no ordained officers till we have material out of which to make them.
About September 10, 1865, I was stricken down with typhoid fever. I had a good physician, and he nursed me with the utmost care. During that sickness he came to see me a hundred and thirty times. For over seven weeks there was not a hopeful symptom. He allowed no company in the room but my wife and the nurses. He appointed good brethren to nurse me, each night about. No one else was allowed to touch me, except my wife. I did not see my two little children for over two months, though they were all the time in the house. After seven weeks he told me that for the first time he saw a slight indication of recovery. After I became convalescent, he said, in talking over the case, that he could attribute my recovery to but two things—my confidence all the time that I should get well, and the faith I had in my physician. He determined this latter by saying that I followed his direction minutely in everything. Theologically, he could not have given a better definition of faith. He was a Baptist.
I never gave up for a moment, and would not allow my mother to be sent for till I was far on the road to recovery. I got out for the first time on Christmas day, but it was a year before I was able to resume regular preaching; and even then, and for a long time afterwards, I felt the effects of this terrible disease. Had it not been for the close attention of the doctor, and the good nursing of my dear wife and kind brethren, I am sure that attack of sickness would have sent me to my grave. Truly, God has been very merciful to me in giving me friends wherever I have lived, and I have ever felt I could not be grateful enough or diligent enough in the service of my Redeemer and His church to repay Him or them for all this undeserved goodness.
Sells Out at Alexandria. Moves to Crittenden. Preaches there and at Williamstown. Low State of these Churches. Plan of Work. Memorizing in Sunday-school. Lack of Church Discipline. One-Man System. Moves to New Liberty. Visits Mount Byrd.
In the spring of 1866, we sold out at Alexandria, and spent most of the summer in Oldham county, among our friends, while I was recuperating my health.
The meeting-house at La Grange had been blown down in a storm, and at the solicitation of the church I visited a number of congregations and obtained help to rebuild it. Midway was one of the places visited. Bro. Franklin was there holding a meeting. This was my first acquaintance with that grand hero of the Cross of Christ.
In September we moved to Crittenden, Ky. I preached for that church and at Williamstown, each half the time, for the rest of that year, and for 1867. The churches were both at low ebb. They had had no regular preaching for some time; had not met on Lord's day; had no discipline; and everything was in decay and disorder.
I decided upon a plan of work for each church. The first point was to get them to meet on the Lord's day and break the loaf, having social worship, when I could not be with them. This done, we carefully revised the church records, excluding whom we could not induce to attend the house of the Lord and to try to discharge their Christian duties. This was followed by protracted meetings at neighboring school-houses, through which quite a number were added to both churches. Meetings were then held in each church. By this time both churches were in a prosperous condition. They both had good Sunday-schools, and a number of members were taking an active part in the work of the church. We disposed of the old house in Williamstown, and got the new house roofed in 1867. We also repaired the house at Crittenden, getting it in nice order, and putting in a baptistery.
For the year 1868, the church at Crittenden wanted all my time, and I gave up the church at Williamstown, devoting all my energies to the one church. We arranged a book in which each member promised to pay so much a week. Envelopes were given them, through which they were to pay their weekly installment on each Lord's day. The congregations were large and regular, and double the amount of money was thus collected that had ever been raised before.
That was before the days of Sunday-school "helps," and we made memorizing the Scriptures a prominent feature in the work. The first of January, 1868, I offered a reward to the one memorizing and repeating the most Scripture that year. Quite a number started in to win the prize, but it was soon evident that the contest was between three girls. The amount of Scripture memorized was immense. All the scholars memorized largely. Soon it required a teacher's whole time to hear the verses of one of those girls. Then we had them recite during the week; and, finally, I had them examined on the Scripture committed, repeating here and there as called on. This was harder than repeating it all. The first of June another little girl entered the lists. On the day they were examined they could repeat with ease and accuracy any passage committed to memory during the year. They were examined for several hours.
Incredible as it may appear, two of these girls committed the whole Bible, and another committed Anderson's Translation of the New Testament in addition; still another did not begin till June, and committed the Bible by the end of the year. I never intended such a result, nor can I approve that way of cramming the memory.
While the church at Crittenden was in other respects in a flourishing condition (indeed, rather too much flourish), it was difficult to get it to act promptly and strictly in the administration of discipline. The officers and church generally had more lax ideas on that subject than I had. But in this particular I suppose they were about on a par with most other congregations in Kentucky, both among our people and others. Indeed, I must confess that at that time I was unusually strict in such matters. I wanted everything pertaining to the church to come square up to the mark in all respects, and I was unnecessarily worried over every shortcoming. On account of not having discipline attended to as strictly as I desired, I was disposed to resign at the close of 1868. But the elders promised more hearty coöperation in the matter, and I accepted for another year conditionally. I stated publicly that I would begin on three months' trial, and if at the end of that time the church had not so coöperated with me as to effect certain ends, our engagement would close. I did not succeed in getting the coöperation desired, and the first Lord's day in April I announced to a crowded house that my relation to them as preacher had closed. It fell upon them like a thunder-clap from a clear sky. I stated the reasons, which they understood, but had not regarded. Thus ended my ministry with that church.
My preaching at Crittenden, and the subsequent history of the church, impressed upon me a very important lesson, upon which I acted in after life. While everything was "booming," I could not teach them self-reliance. They depended upon me. I had to take the lead in everything. Consequently, when I left, it was just like taking the engine off a big lot of machinery. Everything came to a standstill. I feared this, and tried to guard against it. The material, however, was of such a nature that it was next to impossible to get them to go forward in church work without being led. But I was so impressed with the virtual loss of my work then, that I made it a special point, ever after, to develop the church in self-reliance, and make it largely independent of a preacher.
In 1869 I decided that it was not best for the Master's cause for me to longer give all my time to the Crittenden church, as I wanted them to learn to do without me. So the first of January I engaged to preach for the church at New Liberty, Owen county, one-half my time. Resigning at Crittenden in April, in May I moved to New Liberty. Here I found a good, substantial set of brethren, and did a substantial work. We soon had a good Sunday-school, renovated the house, cut off a lot of dead material, and got the church in good working order.
In May, 1869, I held a successful meeting in Owenton, and established the cause in that place. Up to this time we had no organization there. In 1870 I held them the second meeting. The cause continued to grow there. In a few years they built a house of worship. The church has generally been in a prosperous condition.
In August of this year, I held another meeting for my old home church, Pleasant Hill. It resulted in a goodly number of additions. It was always a peculiar pleasure to hold a meeting among these old associates, and I held quite a number.
In August, 1869, Bro. I. B. Grubbs and I met at Mt. Byrd to hold a protracted meeting. It was the first in their new house, after its completion. We had an enjoyable and successful meeting. This was my introduction to Mt. Byrd, which has since afforded me a home, has stood by me through good and evil fortune, has never wavered in its devotion and fidelity, and among whose good members my frail body will rest, till it rises in the likeness of Christ.
Here I might as well express my views upon the lack of church discipline, as they have been formed from an extensive observation in this and other States. I must, however, do this briefly. No one can read the epistles of the apostles, and especially those of Paul, and not be profoundly impressed with the belief that the administration of discipline engaged a large share of their attention; and we may infer the necessity of this from the very nature of the case. The first churches were largely formed of Gentile converts, and these came from heathenism; and they had to be recovered from its debasing practices; and even the converts from among the Jews had to be reformed from many evil ways. Any one who will read even casually Paul's pastoral epistles will see these evils and sins exposed. These were contrary to the purity and benevolence of the new religion, and hence the necessity of self-denial and constant diligence on the part of both people and pastors.
"The times have changed and we have changed with them," but the forms of sin have changed rather than the thing itself, and we have as much need to practice watchcare over ourselves and others as ever. It was Cain that asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
I am satisfied that the two crying needs in our Kentucky churches, and I suppose elsewhere, are the faithful administration of discipline by our elders and activity in Christian work by our members. I think we are growing in the latter, and fear we are falling off in the former. The reasons for both these opinions are not, in my opinion, hard to find. Had I time and strength I should like to give them in full.
History of the Mt. Byrd Church. When Established. Where. Charter Members. Officers. Preachers. Number of Members. Three Things Contributing to its Prosperity. New House of Worship. Serious Trouble in the Church. How Settled. Method of Raising Money. The Church Builds Allen a House. Organizes a Sunday-school. How it is Conducted.
Since the history of Mt. Byrd church from 1869 till my death will be an inseparable part of my history, the two being linked together, the church is destined to be known, and is known to-day, wherever I am known. And as a part of its history will be given, I think it would be more satisfactory to all who may feel interested in it, and more profitable as a study, if an outline of its career from the beginning were known. I therefore insert it here.
In 1832, Isaac Foster, then a Baptist preacher, came into this community preaching the principles of reform as advocated by Thomas and Alexander Campbell. The people gave heed to his teaching concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and on the second Lord's day in September, 1832, at the house of David Floyd, on the top of the Ohio River hill, opposite Hanover College, Ind., a church was established. The following were the charter members: James Lindsey, Hatty Ann Lindsey, William Maddox, Elizabeth Maddox, David Floyd, John B. Floyd, Miss Mary A. Trout, Miss Catherine Trout, Miss Priscilla B. Trout, Miss Sally Trout, Miss Saloma Overpeck, Miss Julia Ann Lindsey, Miss Artamisia Cooper, Mrs. Minerva Cooper.
James Lindsey and his wife, Hatty A., were formerly members of the Old Christian Connection, at Cane Ridge, Ky. William Maddox and his wife, Elizabeth, were from the Baptists. The rest were admitted by immersion.
William Maddox and John B. Floyd were appointed elders, and David Lloyd deacon.
For a time they met and worshiped in private houses. They then built a meeting-house, near the river bluff, on the farm of Bro. David Floyd. It was of hewed logs, and primitive in architecture. It was called Mt. Olivet. They met every Lord's day to break bread, to worship God and to edify one another in love. Much of the long-continued prosperity of the Mt. Byrd church is doubtless due to beginning with good material and on correct principles.
In that early day the church enjoyed the visits of such men as Isaiah Cornelius, Allen Kendrick, L. L. Fleming, Jesse Mavity, Wm. Brown, and others. The church increased in number rapidly.
In a short time several families of standing and influence moved into the present neighborhood of Mt. Byrd and south of it, from Woodford county, Ky. The house was unfavorably located, being on the extreme edge of the territory from which the membership must come. It was agreed by all parties to build another house, farther back from the river, in a more desirable locality. About 1837 this house was built on the farm of Bro. Robert Moffett, at the crossing of the Strother and Cooper roads, about two and one-half miles from the other house, and one and one-half south of Milton. It was a commodious frame building. The site is now on the corner of Bro. Allen's place, two hundred yards from his house. It was called Mt. Byrd, from the fact that it was on part of a large survey of land known as the Byrd survey; and the "Mt." was due to its elevation. It was understood that so soon as certain obstacles were removed, the two churches were to become one. Hence the house was used a year or two before our organization was established. And, in one view of the case, Mt. Byrd had its origin in 1832; and in another, in 1839.
On the second day of August, being the first Lord's day, 1839, an organization was established on the following covenant:
"We, the undersigned individuals, agree to have fellowship with each other, and to be united together in the bonds of Christian affection according to all the rules of conduct and requirements of God, as contained in His Word—the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."
Robert Moffett, Elizabeth Moffett, Lucinda Moffett, Sarah Ann Moffett, Catherine Stipes, Alexander Moffett, Nancy Moffett, Emily Moffett, Harriet Moffett, Jane Moffett, Porter Fisher, Caroline Fisher, Hayden Fisher, Robert Thompson, Anna F. Thompson, Polly Blake, Elizabeth Taylor, Susan Taylor, Zachariah Taylor, Sally Taylor.
Porter Fisher was chosen elder.
In September following, Dr. Curtis J. Smith and Newton Short held them a meeting, resulting in forty additions.
The members of the first organization began to move their membership to Mt. Byrd, and soon the two congregations were one.
The following is a list of the overseers of the church, in their order, from its establishment till 1885:
Porter Fisher, Hayden Fisher, John B. Floyd, James Jones, Samuel Morris, John A. Bain, Isaac Trout, John S. Maddox, Jacob Trout, George Craig, F. G. Allen.
The following are the names of the preachers who have served the church a stated length of time:
Porter Fisher, Hiram Stark, J. Newton Payne, Dr. C. J. Smith, Henry Rice, Jesse Mavity, Dr. Sadler, J. A. Bain, G. B. Moore, A. A. Knight, J. C. Walden, J. V. Price, F. G. Allen.
In addition to meetings held by the regular preachers, it has enjoyed the evangelistic labors of some of the ablest preachers in the Reformation.
From its organization to June, 1885, there were added to the church, at various times and in various ways, 982 members. At this time (June 12, 1885) the membership is 350.
In addition to removals, deaths, exclusions, etc., we gave a large number to the Bedford Church when it last organized (1874), and our colored membership organized to themselves in 1877. Also the nucleus of the Beech Grove church went from here.
Three things, that have had much to do with the prosperity of this church, deserve special mention—their course during the war, their way of choosing church officers, and their method of church discipline.
During the war the church remained in a peaceful and prosperous condition. At the beginning they were of one mind in the decision that the religion of Christ was more important to them than political interests; that the war would end, but that the kingdom of God would not, and that they would stand for the things that could not be shaken by the shock of arms. A large number of young men of the community were in the service, and they wanted to be in a spiritual condition to take care of such of them as should return. Though soldiers of both armies were frequently in the neighborhood, the church continued the service of God and the discharge of Christian duty as if the peace of the country was undisturbed. Consequently, when the war was over, they had no alienations to adjust, no broken down walls to rebuild, no breaches to close up. They needed no reconstruction. Their history demonstrates that even cruel war need not necessarily alienate the people of God. The congregation was not a unit in political sympathy, but they allowed no mixing of politics with religion, in the pulpit or elsewhere, on either side. Strong rebels from Kentucky and strong Union men from Indiana filled the pulpit during the time, but with the understanding that they preach the gospel and not politics—no difference was made.
Till 1867 the method of selecting church officers was by popular ballot. They were thus selected according to the feelings, and tastes, and prejudices of men, women and children, many of whom are always controlled by personal likes and dislikes. At this time a change was made that resulted in great good. The change was to this effect, that a committee in whom the church have perfect confidence be appointed to select elders and deacons. When selected, their names are submitted to the congregation, and two weeks given during which objections may be made privately to the committee. Should objections be made to any one, which are considered valid, and can not be removed, that name is dropped and another substituted. It is understood from the beginning, by all parties, that the objections are to be kept private, and if a candidate is dropped on account of objections, he has no right to demand the name of the objector nor the objections. When objections are not made, or they no longer exist, it is understood that the selection is ratified by the church. The parties are then set apart to their work by fasting, prayer and the laying on of hands. In this way a better selection is made, and the church is much more impressed with the importance of the official work, and of their obligation to those set apart, as co-operants in the work. The plan gave entire satisfaction, and the church ever after observed it.
When I began to preach for the church, I introduced a plan of disciplinary work which I had observed since my labors with the Crittenden Church. The leading idea in it was to save the offender, and the church was impressed with that fact. The relatives and friends of the offending party were enlisted in an effort with the preachers and elders to save him, with the understanding that if this could not be done, the law of the Lord must be enforced in his exclusion. Such efforts rarely failed, and, when they did, those most likely to be hurt about his exclusion felt that they had failed in trying to save him, and that all was done that could be done. When such efforts failed, the case was then stated to the church, and if any one thought that he might accomplish something, and wished an opportunity to try, action was delayed till he did what he could, and thus the whole moral force of the church was exerted. When all felt that nothing more could be done, the law of the Lord was executed, the church withdrew its fellowship, and the occasion was made as solemn and impressive as possible. There was no voting as to whether or not they would exclude him. That is a matter of divine legislation on which we have no right to vote. The sense of the congregation was taken only as to whether or not they had done all they could to save the offender, and had thus complied with the law of the Lord in this respect. In twenty years, with much attention to disciplinary work, I have never had the least trouble or evil consequence result from a case of exclusion.
In 1867 they built a new house of worship, about a quarter of a mile nearer Milton than was the old house. It is a large and substantial frame.
When Mt. Byrd was established there were several strong Methodist and Baptist churches within a few miles. They have all dwindled into comparative insignificance, and Mt. Byrd has the controlling influence in the county. Her territory extends sixteen miles along the Ohio River and eight miles back.
I engaged to preach for Mt. Byrd Church one-half my time, beginning the first of October, 1869. It is thirty miles from New Liberty, and at that time it was reached by a dirt road terribly muddy in the winter. I went back and forth on horseback. I arranged to have my two Sundays come together, and spent the intervening week visiting the congregation and preaching at some neighboring school-house. I thus made but one trip a month. My health was very poor, and each visit I made they thought would be the last.
After I began preaching at Mt. Byrd, I discovered a very serious trouble in the church, of which I before knew nothing. I saw, from its nature and the men involved in it, that unless it was peaceably and permanently settled, the church would be effectually ruined. And circumstances indicated that it was next to impossible to secure such a settlement. I was deeply concerned about it.
The difficulty grew out of a man's making engagements to teach two schools at once, and consequently having to disappoint one of the parties. They had depended on him, and thereby lost the opportunity of getting a good teacher. They felt grievously wronged, and sued for damages. The teacher was a poor man, not able to fight the suit, and he so worked upon his patrons that they promised to stand by him and defend him in court. A large number of good and influential brethren were involved in it, and they had worked up a very bad state of feeling. Bro. J. S. Maddox, the leading elder, stood by me faithfully in the work. We labored incessantly day and night for over two weeks before we accomplished our purpose. I preached in the two school-houses alternately, day and night, so as to reach all of both parties; for they would not go to each other's houses. The rest of the time was spent in visiting and laboring privately with the disaffected members. The preaching was all directed to the one special end. Sometimes we would have it nearly completed as we thought, and then the trouble would break out again. One day our hearts beat with joyous hope, and the next we were depressed and discouraged.
Finally, they agreed to arbitrate the matter if I alone would act as arbitrator. I tried hard to reason them out of this, for I felt almost certain that I would sacrifice myself in so doing. I felt that I could hardly hope to retain the friendship of both parties in such a complicated matter, over which there was so much bad feeling. But, finding that there was no other way of settlement, I concluded that the sacrifice of myself was a small matter as compared with the ruin of the church, and I consented. All parties agreed to abide by my decision in good faith, bury all their animosities, and be at peace among themselves. I wrote out carefully the whole case, giving my decision on each point, and the reasons therefor. I read it at a meeting at which all were present. They all signed it, and the trouble was forever ended. Both parties kept it in good faith, and I retained their fraternal love.
When the church had been "rounded up," and all dead matter cast off, we had 240 members on the list. Some new deacons were appointed, till we had seven in all. Not because there were seven appointed at Jerusalem, but because we needed that number and had material out of which to make them. We divided the congregation into seven districts, each deacon having his boundary defined. Each had a list of all the members in his district, and it was his duty to obtain a subscription from each member and collect it. Each child of a family made his own subscription. All were expected to give something, unless they were beneficiaries of the church. This system has several advantages: (1) More money is obtained than when given only by heads of families. (2) Each one feels that he is a factor in the church, not an overlooked cipher, and this does him good. It stimulates him to do something. (3) In training each one to give, however little they may be able, there is developed in them a right spirit and a very important principle.
A business meeting was held every three months. At these the deacons made their reports, and squared accounts with the preacher. Thus the exact financial condition of the church was known. Cases of discipline, missions, charities, and everything pertaining to the interests of the church, were freely discussed. A record was kept of everything done. These meetings were held on Saturday, and the next day a statement was made to the church of what was done, and their sanction obtained to such matters as it was thought best to submit.
With a thorough organization, systematic working, and the happy settlement of the big trouble over which all were filled with anxiety, the church took on new life, and ever after continued in an active, growing condition.
The brethren soon petitioned me to move into their midst. I jocularly told them I would do so if they would give me a good home. The suggestion was no sooner made than accepted. Bro. J. H. Moffett gave me eight acres of ground just where I wanted it, and he and the rest of the brethren agreed to build me a house. I was permitted to plan just such a house as I wanted, and they would see that it was built. No obligation whatever was required of me as a condition. I was free to dispose of it and leave them at any time, if I wished to do so. It was all a matter of trust. The outside improvements were also made mostly by the brethren. I may say here that in the fifteen years I preached for that church, not a man ever charged me a cent for anything he ever did for me, and they did everything that I needed to have done.
In the spring of 1870 we organized a Sunday-school. It ranged usually, one year with another, from 125 to 150. One peculiar feature about it was that a large number of old people attended. In a word, the church went into the Sunday-school. The teachers have all the time been of the older brethren and sisters, and many men and women of middle age and beyond have been in the classes. We kept a record of the attendance, recitations, contributions, etc., thus indicating the regularity of the work. The record shows that there were perfect, in recitations and attendance, twenty-six in 1873, thirty-four in 1874, and twenty in 1875. This is a fair sample for the fifteen years. The school is still in a fine condition. Some members have not missed a single recitation in five years.
From the beginning we have adhered to the rule of opening on the last Sunday in April and continuing till Christmas. The congregation being scattered over a large district, and the roads being bad in winter, we have been in the habit of dismissing the children for the rest of the year; but all the older people form one class, and are taught the Scriptures by the preacher or elder of the church from the first of January till the last of April.
I am satisfied this is a good arrangement for churches in the country, where the membership is much scattered. It works well at Mt. Byrd, and I don't see why it may not work well elsewhere under the same circumstances.
He Moves to Mt. Byrd. Debate with J. W. Fitch. Preaches at Madison, Ind. Protracted Meetings at Columbia, Burksville, Thompson's Church, Dover, Germantown, Pleasant Hill, Burksville again, Beech Grove, Dover again.
In September, 1870, we moved to the neighborhood of Mt. Byrd. My house not being completed, we lived in the lower end of Hunter's Bottom, above Milton. We spent here a very pleasant year. I gave a good deal of time to the building, helping in whatever I could do, which was quite a benefit to my health. I continued to preach at New Liberty half my time during this year and 1871. The last of October, 1871, we got into our new house. It is about three hundred yards from the church, beautifully situated on the main thoroughfare to Milton and Madison.
In 1871 I held two meetings in Carrollton, Ky. The cause was very low there at that time. Our band was feeble; and the place almost entirely given to sectarianism. We had no place of worship, and the court-house in which we met was not comfortable. Some of the prominent members had become very worldly. Because I preached against their sins, they became much offended, but the offense was to reformation. They afterwards built a meeting-house, and they are now in good condition.
Nov. 2, 1871, I began my first public religious debate. It was at Mt. Byrd, and with Presiding Elder J. W. Fitch. It came about in this way: At a Quarterly Conference in the county, the preachers and prominent men present, to the number of fourteen, drew up and sent me a formal challenge to meet C. W. Miller, at Mt. Byrd (this being by far the largest house in the county), and debate certain designated propositions. At that time I had a very bad opinion of Mr. Miller, and there was no good feeling existing between us. In reply to their communication I said: "You have a number of brethren in Kentucky of equal or superior ability to Mr. Miller, whom I can meet as Christian gentlemen, and when I have the promise of such a disputant, I shall be ready to arrange propositions." They then applied to Mr. Fitch, and a correspondence between us was opened. My purpose then, and ever since in debating with Methodists, was to discuss the system of Methodism, instead of a few isolated propositions. In that way the people see what Methodism is; in this, they do not. We finally agreed that each would affirm that the polity and practice of the church with which he was identified are authorized by the word of God.
An immense crowd attended the debate. The weather was beautiful, and we had dinner on the ground. Each affirmed for three days. My affirmation closed Saturday afternoon. The President Moderator announced that the debate would be resumed at 10 o'clock Monday, on the polity of the Methodist Church, Mr. Fitch affirming. Monday, Mr. Fitch declined to discuss the polity of his church, giving as a reason that it was of no consequence, and he wanted to give all his time to more important matters. He further stated that he had agreed to discuss the polity of the church simply in order to get the debate, not that it was worth discussing. I happened to have in my pocket a letter in which he had insisted on the discussion of the polity of the two churches as a very important matter. This was read. The President Moderator—Col. Preston—ruled that he must either debate the question, as agreed upon, or concede that it was indefensible; and he yielded. We learned afterward, just what we then suspected, that the preachers present, of whom there were about twelve, held a council on Saturday night, and protested against his discussing the polity of the church.
The debate created a great deal of interest and investigation in the community, and within nine months following, over one hundred were added to the church. Of these, quite a number were from the Baptists and Methodists.
A rather curious thing occurred during the debate. While on the practice of the M. E. Church, I made a raid on the mourners' bench, describing its workings and demanding authority for it. Mr. Fitch jumped up, very much excited, and called me to order. His point of order was that the M. E. Church, South, had abandoned the mourners' bench; that it was now countenanced only by a few ignorant preachers for whose conduct the church was not willing to be held responsible. And as it was no longer a part of the practice of the church, he was not there to affirm that it was authorized by the word of God. The President appealed to all the Methodist preachers present to know if that was the case. The last one of them said "yes." In three weeks I went to Carrollton to hold a meeting, and the two most prominent preachers at the debate were there in a meeting, and they had the mourners' bench out twice a day, and six or eight mourners were striving to "get through!" What are we to think of such as that?
By preaching at adjacent school-houses, the membership of the church was considerably increased. This plan was continued till my editorial work on the Guide interfered with it.
About seven miles back from Mt. Byrd the Methodists had an old house, and a weak church where they years ago had a strong one. We had quite a number of members in that neighborhood. By our assisting in rebuilding the old chapel, we held by written contract a fourth interest in it. This gave us the use of the house one Sunday in the month, and at such other times as it was not occupied by the Methodists. This we did in order to have a place to preach in that community, and especially for protracted meetings. We also rented the Presbyterian house in Milton, by the year, for the same purpose.
In 1872 I engaged to preach at Carrollton and White's Run, both in Carroll county, once a month at each. I held a meeting for each church, and got the membership, to some extent, reconstructed.
But in May I was called to preach for the church in Madison, Ind., one-half my time. It being so convenient—just across the river from me—and an important field, I got the churches at Carrollton and White's Run to release me, and I entered on my work in Madison the first of June, 1871. I preached for them the rest of that year. I held a protracted meeting in October. The number of additions for the seven months was small. Finding that they needed a preacher all the time, since they had no one to lead them in the absence of a preacher, and wishing to devote half my time to evangelizing, I resigned and induced them to get Bro. J. H. Hardin in my place.
In November, 1872, I had a fine meeting at Columbia, Ky. This was before the college there was built. Bro. J. H. Hardin was preaching for the church. Bro. Azbill has since built up the church, but was that year in Butler University. The fruits of my first meeting there are manifest to this day. Prominent among these is the efficient work of Dr. U. L. Taylor, who was formerly a Methodist, but for years has been the stay of the congregation and college in that place.
In 1873 I gave one-half my time to holding meetings. In March I went to Burksville, Cumberland county, Ky. The church had had no preaching for a long time, and was not meeting on the Lord's day. There were a few faithful ones, especially sisters, but the majority had gone to the world. We had over forty additions. The membership was organized for work, a Sunday-school was established, a preacher secured, and the church entered on a long period of prosperity. Two preachers were the result of this meeting—C. M. McPherson, of the Apostolic Guide, and E. J. Ellison, now of Glasgow, Ky. They had been immersed, but, with many others, had strayed from the fold. They were reclaimed and put to work, and to-day they are faithful ministers of the Word.
As showing what may result from a word timely spoken, a young lady from Nashville, now the wife of Bro. McPherson, was visiting a sister at Burksville. She was a devoted Episcopalian, talented and accomplished. One day she was telling me about her church and preacher, etc., and the work she was trying to do for the Master. I asked her if she had ever obeyed the gospel. She looked amazed, and remarked that that was a strange question to ask a church member. I told her I feared that many church members, and even devoted ones, had never obeyed the gospel; and in a few words explained the reason why. She soon made the confession and was immersed, stating afterwards that that question led to an entire change of religious views.
In May I held a meeting at Thompson's Church, in Robinson county. The meeting was of no special importance; the number of additions was small, and no important results any way. Willis Cox was preaching for the church.
At this meeting the wealthiest man in the church was greatly taken with the preaching, said he intended to go to Dover, twenty odd miles away, to hear me there, had three of his children immersed, and was almost too happy to behave himself. He gave a two cent copper to help pay the expenses of the meeting! This was all they could get out of him. He got so happy that it dried up the fountain of his liberality.
In June I held a meeting at Dover, Mason county. This was an old church, and once a prosperous one, but a bad spirit had been engendered during the war, and it had virtually gone to pieces. They were meeting, and had a preacher employed, Bro. Willis Cox; but only a few members were concerned about the things of Zion. They had had no additions for so long that the town was full of young people who had grown up out of the church. The brethren expected no additions, but wanted a meeting for the encouragement of the faithful few. This was the way they put it when they engaged me to hold the meeting. The house was well-filled from the first, and in a few nights crowded. They paid profound attention to the Word. This led me to hope for additions, but the brethren hooted at the idea. I preached only at night and on the Lord's day. On the ninth night they made a move, and continued to move till fifty-seven were added. I baptized fifty. The deepest religious interest prevailed that I ever had in any of my meetings. No telling what the result would have been, had I not been taken sick and compelled to leave. As I was going to the boat to return home, I went by the church. It was crowded. I had just a few minutes. I went in and explained the situation, and proposed to take the confession of any that wished to make it, before I left. Without a word of exhortation two came forward. Thus I left them.
Nearly all the young people of the town came into the church, so that there was no outside element left to get up mischief, and it is gratifying to know how faithfully they held out. The church has ever since been in active working order.
In July I held a meeting at Germantown. Bro. J. C. Walden was preaching for them. We had a pleasant meeting, but no special results.
In August I held another good meeting at my old home church—Pleasant Hill, in Oldham county. I held them a meeting each year for five or six years. While they were slow to assist me when I was struggling for a start, after I got well under way they were quite liberal in reward of my labor. But one dollar at the first would have done me more good, because more needed, than five at the time they were given. This is a mistake made by many churches.
In October, 1873, I held another meeting at Burksville. This was also a fine meeting, but not quite so many additions were made as at the one in March preceding.
In November I had a good meeting at Beech Grove, a country church in Trimble county, eight miles from Mt. Byrd.
In December I was again at Dover. We had another excellent meeting, but there was not material for so many converts as at first. This visit was mainly for the membership, to rid the church of some dead material, and put it into good working order. On account of getting sick at the previous meeting, I had to leave before this needed work was accomplished. Thus ended my labors for 1873.
Begins Preaching at Beech Grove. Debates with Elder Hiner. Amusing Incident. Holds many Meetings. Debates with Elder Frogge. Debates again with Elder Hiner. Repudiates Miller's Book. Sick Again. Holds more Meetings.
In 1874 I engaged to preach once a month for the Beech Grove Church.
Beginning January 20th, at a Methodist church near Beech Grove, I held a debate with Elder Robert Hiner. The debate continued eight days. It was largely attended, though the roads and weather were bad. The feeling throughout the debate was good, but hardly so much so as at the one held at Mt. Byrd with Elder Fitch. A very amusing thing occurred. Mr. Hiner brought all of his books, and, coming through Bedford, he got all of Mr. Young's, the preacher at that place. They made a perfect wagon load. He obtained a long table, like a carpenter's bench, and stacked them up on it. I soon discovered that it was all for a show, and the question was how to most successfully burlesque it. I first thought of sending to Bedford and getting a large wagon-load of Patent Office Reports and the like, and stacking them up on my table. But in my room I discovered a little toy-book, about an inch long, called "Orphan Willie." This I took to church in my vest pocket, with a few leaves carefully turned down. After alluding to his "silent artillery," as I had done before, I drew out "Orphan Willie," and planted it on the pulpit in position to effectually blow up his entire battery, with the assurance that that was going to be done. I had laughed over the idea till I thought I could do it without laughing. But in this I failed; and the whole audience, Methodist preachers and all, got into such a laugh that I lost half my speech. But the books were put out of sight, and thus ended the scarecrow business.
During the debate Mr. Hiner expressed the opinion that I would yet come back to the Methodist church. I told him he might as well talk of a full-grown rooster, spurs and all, going back into the shell that hatched it. For a long time this gave me the sobriquet of "Old Chicken." Some brethren use it even now.
While on the design of baptism, Mr. Hiner remarked that if he believed baptism was for the remission of sins, he would live on a creek or river and be baptized every time he sinned. I gave it as my opinion that in that case he would find it a very difficult matter to keep any dry clothes!
During this year I held meetings at Louisville, Crittenden, Cove Hill, Burksville and Glasgow, with varied success.
In 1875 I held meetings at Glasgow, Carrollton, Campbellsville, Burksville, Bedford, Hodgenville and Columbia.
In July of this year I debated twelve days, at Burksville, with Presiding Elder Frogge. He was the great champion of Methodism in Southern Kentucky. He had had a great many debates, and, while he was very ready and glib in his line of debating, I soon discovered that his scholarship and reading were both very limited, exceedingly so; and I intentionally widened the range of controversy more than was my wont, to see what he would do—and he was completely lost. His forte in debating is wit and ridicule, by which he gets his opponents angry and confused. He tried this hard for three days, till he rendered himself offensive to all. It was rumored that his brethren then held a council and told him that this must be stopped; that he must debate the questions on their merits or quit; that he was bringing the cause into disrepute. The county paper, edited by a scholarly Episcopalian, was very severe in its criticism of his conduct. This caused much excitement among the Methodists. When he had to quit his efforts to get me excited, he was no longer himself. This debate was held at the request of the Baptists. Mr. Frogge and a Baptist preacher had debated near there the fall before, and, the Baptist having failed, had to give up the discussion. Mr. Frogge then left a broad and boastful challenge for any immersionist. The Baptists were very sore over it, and when I went there in the winter to hold a meeting they requested me to accept his challenge. I referred them to the brethren, and with their concurrence I entered upon the discussion.
In November I held another debate with Mr. Hiner, this time at Bedford, Ky. It continued eight days. This created the most intense excitement I ever saw in a meeting-house. At the two previous debates in the county I repudiated C. W. Miller's book (Points of Controversy) as authority. It is the book that Dr. Ditzler exposed. Our opponents said I would not dare to do that where Miller was. They had him at this debate. Mr. Hiner read from it a passage purporting to be from Moses Stuart. I asked him what he was reading from. He said, "'Points of Controversy,' and you challenge it if you dare." I then asked for the page in Stuart's book where the language occurred. He refused to give it. I had Stuart, and the inference was that he didn't want the comparison made. When I got up I referred to what had passed about the quotation, saying I was willing to take Stuart for it if he had given me the page, but as for "Points of Controversy," I could take nothing on its authority, for I repudiated the book and its author as authority in anything. This provoked a personal wrangle with Miller, who was close to me, after the debate—for the day was over. The excitement was intense as we passed and repassed our compliments. Finally the house refused to hear Mr. M. Even his own brethren rose as one man and went out of the house. This so infuriated him that he left the place.
January 1, 1876, I went on the Apostolic Times with I. B. Grubbs and S. A. Kelley. I had been writing for it every two weeks, by contract, for several years. From this time I devoted special attention to it every week, and, with the exception of a few months from the sale of the Times to Dr. Hopson and Cozine till the establishing of the Guide, I have been constantly engaged in editorial work.
About the middle of January I was taken down with intercostal rheumatism and spinal trouble, and was very low for several months. Very little hope was entertained of my recovery. After the intense suffering was over, my system was so racked that convalescence was slow. The doctors agreed that it was due to nervous exhaustion produced by overwork. For years I had known nothing practically of mental rest, and the year preceding was unusually severe on me, in my feeble state of health. When I held the twelve days' debate at Burksville the summer before, I went from my bed to the house and from the house to my bed. I was hardly any better in the one held a few weeks before. These labors, with those given to my home church of over three hundred members, together with holding seven protracted meetings, and writing for the Times, all the while in feeble health, brought me down very low.
I wish here to emphasize the fact that I have never gone out of my way to either seek or shun a religious debate. I repeat this statement here, lest some might think otherwise from the fact that I have held so many.
After getting up again, I held meetings at Antioch, in Shelby county, Glasgow, Burksville, South Elkhorn, and at some other points. This has always been congenial employment for me.
Continues to Evangelize. Dr. Cook's Prescription. Incident at Glendale. Peculiar Feature in the Meeting at Madisonville. The Fractious Preacher at Sonora. Closes his Evangelistic Labors. Establishes the Old Path Guide. The Bruner Debate.
In 1877 I spent much time evangelizing, being called to hold protracted meetings at many important places. I accepted work at seven of these, and my labors were fruitful in the conversion of sinners and in building up the saints in their most holy faith; but I had to be away from home a great deal, and my exposure in all kinds of weather, and the wear and tear of constant preaching, increased my lung disease.
While preaching at Cynthiana my spinal trouble returned, causing me to close abruptly, and I could preach no more till July. On my return from Cynthiana, some friends in Cincinnati induced me to visit a Dr. Cook (I think that is the name). He was celebrated for his skill in such afflictions. He was a corpulent, jolly old gentleman, full of humor. When I was introduced, he looked at me for a moment without coming near, and said: "Well, sir, you don't laugh enough. You take too serious a view of life. Why, sir, at least two inches of your spinal marrow is inflamed, produced by nervous exhaustion, the result of overwork and no mental recreation. I tell you, sir, all the medicine in the world will do you no good till you quit that and cultivate laziness. You must take a more cheerful view of life. And you must learn to laugh, not giggle a little, but laugh away down to the bottom of the abdomen. Then you will get well. I used to be a little, scrawny, sallow, nervous, overworked thing like you are, but I saw it was going to kill me, and I quit it and went to laughing, and now see what I am?" And this was all the prescription he gave me. There is, doubtless, a good deal of philosophy in it.
At Glendale a rather singular circumstance occurred. The first night of the meeting, I observed a very intelligent looking lady in the audience, and she was intensely interested. When we got back to the place where I was stopping, I asked the sister who this lady was. She gave her name, stating that she was the pride of the Methodist Church in that country; that her talk at the love-feast a few weeks before had been the topic of conversation ever since. I remarked that she would not be a Methodist when that meeting was over. But they would not listen to the idea that she would ever be anything but a Methodist. She was present the second and third nights, and manifested the same intense interest. The next morning early, she sent to ascertain if she could have a private interview. When she came, she made her business known at once. She wanted to learn if I would immerse her and let her remain in the M. E. Church. Without answering her question, I asked her what she wanted to be immersed for. She said she had become convinced that she had never obeyed the gospel, and she wanted to be immersed because it was the Saviour's will, and her sprinkling was not authorized. "Well," said I, "why do you want to correct your life in some things according to the divine authority, and not in others?" She said she wanted to correct it in all respects where it was contrary to divine authority. I then told her that there were a number of things in the Methodist Church for which there was no more authority than there is for infant baptism. She inquired what, and when I told her, she said, "That will do," and right away I immersed her. She had been brought up a Romanist, and while we were gone to the baptizing her sister burnt her Bible. No special persecution followed her change to the Methodists, but it was otherwise when she united with us. Her relatives, so far as known to me, have never become reconciled.
The meeting at Madisonville, O., eighteen miles from Cincinnati, also had a peculiar feature which I think worthy of mention. It was the first preaching by our brethren ever heard in the place, and most of those who made the confession had never before heard it made. The first person called upon to make it answered aloud and distinctly: "Yes, sir; I believe with my whole heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God." All who followed answered in the same way. I wish it could always be so.
In 1878 calls upon me to conduct meetings were multiplied, but I could comply only with those from Vevay, Ind., Sonora, Ky., Dover, White's Run, Columbia, Burksville, Glendale, Oakland and Owenton.
At Sonora, a Methodist preacher attended a few times, and he was remarkably fractious. Several times he interrupted me. One night, in preaching on the "Plan of Salvation," commenting on the case of the jailer, I remarked that the fact that the apostles sometimes baptized households, was no evidence that they baptized infants, since there are many households without infants. He spoke up very much excited, saying, "May I ask you a question?" I told him yes. "Well, now," he says, "suppose we take a common sense view of that matter. Suppose you were to come to town, and start out to baptizing households, and you were to go to Bro. Creel's house and mine, wouldn't you have to baptize infants?" (Bro. Creel had five little fellows, and he seven.) I answered, "Yes, Bro. Campbell, I admit that whenever you go to a preacher's house, you are very apt to find them." The whole house laughed outright, and they never ceased laughing at that preacher till he left the circuit.
These meetings were all successful in the way of additions, except that at Vevay. But I have never kept an account of my additions, and remember the number at only a few meetings.
This year my regular evangelistic work closed on account of editing the Guide and preaching half the time at Portland Avenue Church, in Louisville.
In January, 1879, I established the Old Path Guide, in Louisville. I was owner, proprietor, editor, bookkeeper, treasurer, mailing clerk, general agent, and special "boss." This required all my time, except what I had necessarily to give to preaching on the Lord's day and the preparation therefor. The Guide was a success, financially, from the beginning. I put money in bank the first three months of each year to pay every dollar of expense to the end. The net profits the first year were over $600, and this increased each year for the three years that I managed it all myself. The third year would have netted $1,000, but in the midst of it I made the change, transferring one-half of it to Cline, Marrs & Co., and giving them control of its business management. This was the beginning of financial embarrassment. The change was demanded by my failing health, and I could no longer do everything, as I had been doing from the first.
That year I engaged to preach half my time for the Portland Avenue Church. In order to serve the Glendale church, which is fifty miles on the Louisville & Nashville road, the Mt. Byrd church released me one Sunday in the month. During the year the Portland Avenue Church increased 120 per cent.
In February, 1879, I held a meeting for the Campbell St. church, Louisville. The meeting proved to be quite beneficial to the congregation, in many respects. I boarded in the city during the winter, and moved my family down in April.
The church at Glendale had a partnership house—a very common thing in all Southwestern Kentucky. This prevented their meeting regularly on the Lord's day, and also prevented a Sunday-school, as the house was occupied more than half the time by others. Knowing that I could accomplish no substantial and enduring good while this state of things lasted, I made it a condition of preaching for them that they build a new house. This they did. The house is a neat frame, well finished inside and out, and large enough for all ordinary use. It was promptly built and paid for.
In November I held a debate there—the first use made of the new house—with I. W. Bruner, a Baptist preacher. The Baptist church there and ours arranged for a debate, on certain specified propositions, and each had the privilege of selecting its representative. Consequently I had nothing to do with getting up the debate or arranging for it. I never challenged a man for debate in my life, and never held one except by special invitation. And I have declined more debates than I ever held. While I was peculiarly fond of it, I never debated simply for the sake of debating; hence, if the circumstances were not favorable for good results, I always declined. This debate with Mr. Bruner was, I think, the poorest one I ever held, and I lost all interest in it before it was half over.
Visits Midway. Attends the Missouri State Convention. Reflections. Annual Sermons. Last Protracted Meeting. Kindness of Mt. Byrd, Glendale and Smithfield Churches. Gives up Office Work. Goes to Eureka, Ill. Country Home. Takes Cold at the Lexington Convention. Goes to Florida.
In October, 1879, I visited Midway, and though I had virtually closed my evangelistic labors when I began the Guide, I could not resist the desire to hold a meeting there. It is the seat of our Female Orphan School, one of our grandest enterprises. Bro. Shouse was then preaching for the church and Bro. Lucy was president of the school. Their companionship was highly enjoyable. What a feast to the soul is the companionship of wise, godly men! It has for me the highest happiness I expect to know this side of heaven. And will it not be a very prominent factor of that which constitutes heaven? Any place in the universe of God where my brethren and the Saviour are will be heaven enough for me.
In 1880 I continued at the Avenue Church, Louisville, Mt. Byrd and Glendale. The State Board of the Missouri Christian Missionary Society invited me to deliver an address before the State Convention, held that year at Moberly. In order to justify me in a visit to the State, they arranged several meetings for me—one in connection with the convention of Audrain county, at a country church near Mexico, called Sunrise; one at New London, and one at Slater. These meetings were all enjoyable and profitable; but the one in Audrain county was only for a few days, and resulted in but few additions.
The address at Moberly was on "Our Strength and Our Weakness." The convention was largely attended, and it was a great pleasure to meet so many brethren known only by name, and loved for their work's sake, and to renew the acquaintance of others known before.
The addresses of Haley, Procter, Jones and others were very able. That of Jones was speculative, and the basic principle of it, in my opinion, erroneous. Several of those Missouri preachers have done much harm by preaching a false philosophy instead of the gospel of Christ. Bro. Procter, whom we all allow to be one of our best men and ablest preachers, went from this convention to California and held several meetings. Within a few months I had several applications to come out there to undo some of his work, and I should have been glad to comply had my other duties permitted.
In 1881 I resigned at the Avenue Church, as they needed more pastoral labor than my other duties would allow me to perform. I gave half my time to Mt. Byrd, one-fourth to Glendale, and one-fourth to my old home church—Pleasant Hill, in Oldham county. It was a pleasure to visit these old friends of my youth once a month. Old memories were revived, and the past, in a sense, lived over again. Besides, several members of the families related to my wife and to myself were enabled to attend. To preach to them, after years of separation, was a great pleasure. Mt. Byrd moved on in the even tenor of its way, in a prosperous condition.
In August of this year, and also the year previous, I preached the annual sermon at the Clark county, Ind., Coöperation Meeting. The county contains sixteen or eighteen churches, including those of Jeffersonville and New Albany, and for more than forty years they have had an annual county meeting. Representatives from all the churches attend, as a rule, and the condition, etc., of each church is given. It brings together a great congregation, and the day meetings are held in the woods.
In September of this year the Guide was changed to a weekly. While the monthly magazine was the most desirable for preservation, it was thought that a weekly would best serve the cause of Christ, and peculiar circumstances at that time seemed to demand it.
In November I went to Poplar Plains and held the last protracted meeting of my life. It was a pleasant one, and attended with some good results.
In 1882 I preached at Mt. Byrd, Glendale and Smithfield, that is, I engaged to preach for these churches, but my health was such that I preached but little to any. At my first visit to Smithfield, the first Lord's day in the year, I was taken sick, and I never visited them once when I was not sick. I was never able to so preach as to do them or myself justice. While this was equally so at the other churches, I did not regret it so much, since I had been laboring for them a long time. The work at Smithfield was virtually a failure, and early in the fall I had to give it up entirely. Yet they paid me for the whole year, and made me a present of about $150 besides. They are a noble band of brethren, and one of the most liberal I ever knew.
The church at Glendale also paid for the entire year, though I lost much time and resigned in October. It also made me a generous present in addition.
Speaking of their generosity, reminds me that the Mt. Byrd Church continued my salary three or four years when I was able to do little or nothing in return. In 1876 I lost most of the year through spinal and rheumatic affections; I did very little in 1882; I was in the church but once in 1883, and in 1884 I attempted to talk only a few times, yet all these years my salary continued. When the Guide was sold to the present Guide Printing and Publishing Company, which relieved me of financial embarrassments which the failure of C. C. Cline & Co. had produced, I refused to longer accept support from the church.
In April, 1882, I was compelled, on account of failing health, to give up the office work of the Guide. I had been under a physician all the year, and grew constantly worse. I allowed the office work to make a heavier draft on me than some men do. I always knew every paragraph that was going into the paper, and where and how it would appear. I stood by the foreman and noticed everything that went in—when it went in, what was put in and what was left out—till the forms were locked up. I have never been able to get any one else to do it. But that is my idea of editing a paper. This thing of giving printers a mass of matter and telling them to put it in, leaving them to add or diminish, and put in where and what they please, is simply a burlesque on the business; and yet this is the way it is largely done. I have had no little annoyance over just that thing. Had I been willing to edit in that way I could have continued, but I would not consent to follow such a course.
In May I went to Eureka College, to preach the baccalaureate sermon. I arranged to make the trip as easy as possible, on account of my feebleness, by stopping over at Indianapolis for the night, in both going and returning. The trip was every way pleasant, and the associations there very agreeable. I hoped it would be a benefit to me in the way of recreation, but on reaching home I was taken down with typho-malarial fever. I was quite low for several weeks. I got up with a trouble in my throat, causing a constant coughing and hacking, which has increased without intermission to the present time.
In September, realizing that my health was permanently broken down, we went back to our country home. I was satisfied that if I should even continue to edit the Guide, I would not be able to assume the responsibilities of the office, and that the best place for me, under the circumstances, was my country home. After going back to the country I rallied considerably, and attended the General Convention, at Lexington, about the 20th of October. Here I took life memberships in both the General and Foreign Societies for the Mt. Byrd Church. This was the first church taking membership in those societies, so far as I am informed. It has since become quite common. Last year (1884) I succeeded in getting their constitutions so amended as to provide for this.
I took cold at the convention, and relapsed. My physicians were very fearful of tubercular trouble, and advised me to go to Florida for the winter. We went the first of December, not knowing whither we went, but it seems that the hand of Providence guided us. We knew not where to turn, but concluded to try DeLand, where we had some acquaintances, and there look out for accommodations. In a few days after reaching DeLand old Bro. Anderson, who lived two miles in the country, heard we were there and came in for us. He had formerly seen a copy of the Guide and subscribed for it. This good man rented for us a convenient house near him, paid the rent, set us up, and would not allow me to pay for anything we needed while there if he knew it and could prevent it. His wife was as kind as he, and did all in her power to make our stay in "The Land of Flowers" comfortable and inexpensive.
The Great Teacher has said, in a well-known passage, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." What, then, must not have been the blessedness of this pious couple in thus caring for a poor broken-down invalid and his family, whom Providence had guided to their hospitable home? May God reward them richly for their kindness.
Organizes a Church at DeLand. Health Improves. Relapses. Starts Home. Resignation. Sells His Interest in the Guide. Begins Writing again. Attends Two Conventions. Goes to Texas. At Home Again. Works On.
While at DeLand we gathered up the few scattered Disciples in and around the town, and organized them into a church. I felt quite confident, from the character of the material, that the enterprise would be a success. It has thus far proved to be so; they have not failed to keep up their weekly meetings to break the loaf and edify one another after the apostolic model. They now have a nice house, and have employed a preacher and given him a home among them. This is just what all churches should aim to do; all may not be able, but they should aim to accomplish it. The church is in a prosperous condition. I was able to talk to them occasionally while there.
The climate of Florida agreed with me. My cough left me in a few weeks, my appetite became good, and I got heavier than I ever was before. I went there weighing 130 pounds, and increased to 148. In good health, my usual weight was 144 pounds, and it had been many years since I weighed that. I should have come home in this improved condition but for my own imprudence. I don't blame the country, Providence, nor anything else but myself. I was passionately fond of hunting, as I have ever been. I hunted a great deal, and frequently got overheated, and took cold; sometimes got my feet wet when in the woods. Thus I had several backsets. But still I was in that condition when the time came to return home. The day before we were to start, I concluded I must have one more hunt. It had rained the night before; the sand was damp; it was cloudy, quite warm, and a strong south wind was blowing. I would get warm in walking (the sand there is very slavish to walk in), and would sit down and let the wind cool me off. I should have had more discretion; but sometimes people act with very little sense about such things. Before I reached the house I felt acute inflammation of the mucus membrane, to the bottom of my lungs. In three hours fever set in, and I was completely prostrated. I remained there about three weeks, and the doctors urged my return as the only chance of recovery. They considered that very hazardous, on account of exposure to cold; but to stay there was less hopeful. I was taken to the boat, carried on board by two men, then carried off at Jacksonville to a hack, taken to a hotel, thence to the train. I secured a good berth in a sleeper, and got through without the least trouble. I improved, every mile of the way; but as soon as I got home I went down again, and was extremely low for some time.
My dread of dying in Florida and having my wife return with my body, was such that I concentrated all my prayers to that one point. I prayed the Lord to enable me to get home, that I might die in the midst of my family. I felt and prayed that if He would enable me to reach home, He could have the rest all His own way, without any further petition. He enabled me to rally, gave a week of the best weather of the whole season, brought me home under the most favorable circumstances, and I never afterwards felt free to ask Him to restore me to health, and have never done it. It may be wrong, but I promised to let Him have the rest all His own way, and my prayers have ever since conformed to that idea.
I never could have believed, till I experienced it, that one could become so indifferent as to whether he lived or died, I saw many days, after my return from Florida, when it was a matter of perfect indifference to me; previous anxiety to get home, and the resolution to leave all the rest to the Lord, had no doubt much to do with it. I observed this, however: that as hope revived, a desire to live would arise in proportion. When there was little or no prospect, there was little or no concern.
When I was at my worst, I decided, taking my past and present condition into consideration, the medicine I was taking, the attention received, etc., that if I did not take a turn for the better by a certain day, then in three days the case would be entirely hopeless. In the afternoon of that day the change came. That evening I took some nourishment—the first for fourteen days.
After I sufficiently recovered to be able to do anything, I was anxious to get my business arranged, with a view to death. I never expected to be able to write another editorial, and I was concerned about making some arrangement by which to get rid of the Guide and its responsibility. I was not pleased with its business management, and did not want to leave it as the property of my family, not knowing what trouble it might give nor what expense it might involve them in. And without a change in management, I knew it could never be of any profit. I wrote for Bro. Srygley to come, and I sold him my remaining half-interest. My purpose was to resign, and thus have no further connection with it. But he would not buy unless I would agree to let my name remain, with a promise to resume the responsibility of chief editor if I should ever get able; and the firm would consent to the sale only upon these conditions. So I had to sell upon those conditions, or not sell at all.
The latter part of September the company urged me to begin to write again, if it were at all possible, even if it were only a few paragraphs each week. They said the impression everywhere entertained that I would not recover, was injuring the paper very much. The people were losing interest in it. They insisted that I should counteract that feeling as much as possible. Under this pressure, though confined to my bed and suffering every hour, I began writing, the first of October, and never after missed a week. That winter I stayed at home, and was not out of my room for eight months. The last of August I started to Midway, to see Dr. Lucy. I got as far as Louisville, and could get no further. We dispatched for the Doctor, and he came down. After resting a few days I got home, the last of August, and I was not out of the door again till the last of April. During that winter I did a large amount of writing, besides my weekly work on the Guide.
June 10 I went to Louisville to attend the International Sunday-school Convention, but was able to get out only a few times. I attended the State meeting at Paris, but was able to take no part. I greatly enjoyed meeting with the brethren, and hearing them concerning the things of the kingdom of God. These convocations are seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
The first of October we went to Mason, in South-west Texas, to spend the winter. Here, as at De Land, it looked as if the hand of Providence guided us. We knew no one there, but we found some of the dearest and best friends of our lives. They had been taking the Guide, and, in competition with several other places that wanted us, made such a liberal offer that our trip cost us nothing. They seemed to anticipate all our wants, and find great pleasure in supplying them. The Lord has always blessed me with many good friends—more than I deserved. I have felt, for a number of years, that I was greatly overestimated, and it has been a source of no little humiliation. I should have quit editorial work several years ago, and lived in obscurity here at my retired home, if I could have done so. I appreciate the good opinion of my brethren, to the extent that I think it is merited; but to realize that I am not what I am thought by some to be, is a great mortification.
I am now at home enjoying the company of my family, the quiet of my home, with every want anticipated and supplied by a devoted wife and children, pleasantly, though in much feebleness, doing my work on the Guide, and putting in my spare time in other writing. I find my greatest pleasure in being about my Father's business. I must be employed. I expect to thus work on till the Master says, "It is enough."
Mt. Byrd, Ky., June 13, 1885.
Reflections on his Fiftieth Birthday. What a Wonderful Being is Man! Governed, not by Instinct, but by Reason. Man Lives by Deeds, not Years. How to Grow Old. Half of Life Spent in Satan's Service. Renewed Consecration. Last Three Birthdays. His Trust in God.
The seventh day of March has come again. Fifty times has come this anniversary of my natal day! Half a hundred years old to-day! What a period through which to carry the burdens and responsibilities of life! (What a time for which to give account to God for wasted moments and opportunities lost!) What a period to be devoted to building a character for the skies! What a period of time devoted to the issues of eternity!
What a wonderful being is man! Time is but his cradle, from which he walks forth into a world where life is parallel with the ages of God. An intelligent, expansive being that will never cease to be—what a thought! When the sun grows gray with age, his eye is dimmed, and darkness reigns, man will still be drinking in the light of heaven from the morning star of eternity. The century-living crow doubles this period of man's probation, with life as it began. She builds her nest the last year, as she did the first, with no improvement sought. She rears her young the hundredth time as she did the first, by the long experience none the wiser. This is her nature. God made her thus. Instinct is wonderful, but it never improves. It grows not wiser with age nor the ages. It nothing from experience learns. The sparrow builds her nest, and the beaver his dam, just as they did in the years before the flood. The little quails an hour from the shell, will hide at the danger-signal of the mother bird, when they never saw a hawk, nor heard of one's existence. How different this from man! More helpless than the stupid beast, and more senseless than the creeping worm, he starts to make the pilgrimage of life. But what a change does time produce! The child more helpless than the humming insect of an hour, becomes the monarch of the world. He bridles the lightning in its home above the mountain peaks, and makes it do his bidding. The terror of the ages past, becomes his willing servant. He harnesses the steam, that for ages spent its power in the open air, and with it moves the world. He sends his whisperings through old ocean's bed, where the great leviathan sports, as if he talked to one across the room. He leaps aloft as if on steady wing, till his look is downward where the lightnings play and the thunderbolt leaps to its deadly mission. Wonderful development! The heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth proclaims the dominion of man. He was made a little lower than the angels, and crowned with majesty. Age counts with man, and years bring knowledge, but not unfailing wisdom. Did man grow wise with age, as a sure result, age should be an unfailing blessing sought. But imbecility it often brings and childish discontent. These are the blighted sheaves of evil sowing in the spring and summer days of life. With right ideas of life, men grow wiser and better, as they older grow in the service of their God. Life is not measured simply by the flight of time. Men live more now than they did before the flood. Intenser now is life. Into a few decades, is now crowded the patriarch's experience of nearly a thousand years. How to grow old, is a problem not to be despised. It should not be left to solve itself. To grow old gracefully, is to make a picture on which the world delights to look. But, alas! how sadly blurred is the picture by many made! It is sad to see one's religion sour with age. While young and strong the loved disciple on the bosom of the Master leaned. Then when age had dimmed his eagle eye, and time had stolen his elastic step, he had the same love for his children in the faith. His was a sweet old age, the outgrowth of a life of faith and love. He grew old gracefully. When brought, as was his wont, and before his congregation set, his last sermons were mainly the touching, tender words, "My little children, love one another." O, that his mantle could on many of us fall! But oft, alas! we see grow cross, self-willed and sour the shepherd of the flock. This, too, when age should give his words both weight and wisdom. Lord, give me poverty and affliction, if it be thy will, but save me, I pray, from this sad end. Far better that one die young, than grow old against the grain. "Is life worth living?" the sages ask. That depends on how one lives it. Lived aright, it is worth living, and many such worlds as this beside. Otherwise 'tis not. Of right living, the more the better; of wrong, the less. The life lived faithfully to God, can never be too long; its opposite, too short.
Of the half-century, this day gone, one claim I can safely make—it was not spent in idleness. The years to Satan's service given, were well to his account put in; and those devoted to a better cause, I have tried to give as faithfully to Him to whom they all belonged. For the years in Satan's service spent, like Saul of Tarsus, I conscientious ignorance plead. O'er eyes unused to heaven's light, sectarianism's vail was thick. But no sooner was known the way of life, than in its path I tried to walk; and in it have I tried to keep, till this good day. Thus equally divided has the time been spent. Except the years of childish innocence, twenty-five were in the service spent of him who for this life pays the soul in spurious coin, and leaves it bankrupt in the life beyond; while an equal number, praise the Lord, have a better Master claimed. For the rest of life, be it long or short, the long side will the right side be, while hitherto it otherwise has been. The periods of service have not before been equally divided, nor will they be again. But the sides have changed proportions, praise the Lord! Should not this turning-point in life an epoch make? A half century, and a half divided life, in one! Surely I shall not look upon its like again.
The past few birthdays I have noted as those of former years were noted not, and for reasons I need hardly state. The first that deep impression on the mind did make since apprehension was that each would be the last, was three years ago, amid the orange groves of the sunny South. The day was lovely as the Queen of May; and friends more lovely than the day, made it a time not to be forgotten. The feasting of the outer man was the lesser part of the day's enjoyment. "The feast of reason and the flow of soul" was chief. Three of us were seeking health in that sunny land. Two have found it, but not there. In a fairer land by far than this world can boast, did they find the fountain of perpetual health. Beneath the branches of the tree of life, have they also sat and plucked its leaves for the healing of the nations given. I, the feeblest of the three, and thought the nearest to the other side to be, on the shores of time am struggling still. Thus it is with man's poor guessing.
Two years ago the day was cold and bleak. It drizzled through the dreary hours, freezing as it fell. But to many loving hearts, its sleet and rain were not its gloom. On this day was laid to rest in Mother Earth the loved remains of one numbered in the health-seeking trio of the year before. What a contrast with that day one year before! The day and its events, how sadly changed! But such is life. Well do I remember on this asking, "Shall I another birthday live to see?" And well do I remember, too, the thought expressed in grave response. While, in the providence of God, it was possible, of course, the other way were all the probabilities. But this so oft before the case had been, it left a ray of hope. And that has now been more than realized. As said our sweetest poet, how truly can we say:
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
One year ago, in the balmy breezes of the "Lone Star" State, compelled was I by feebleness of frame to miss the sumptuous feast by loving hands so deftly spread. And sad, yet happy thought, those as ever ready on the poor to wait, are now in those of the Master clasped. And still I linger, and the years go by. Such is life. Deep and many are her mysteries. God knows it all, but he keeps it to himself. But what are now the prospects for the year to come? Better now, by far, than they before have been in all these dreary years of pain. Would it not be strange, if once again in providence divine I should mingle with my fellow men, and tell them, as of yore, the story of the cross? Indeed, it would; but stranger things have happened. Stranger things by providence divine have come to pass without the aid of "Warner's Safe Cure," or other disgusting humbuggery, with its offensive intrusion into the reading of decent men. The providence of God is not dependent on patent nostrums; nor is He limited in His healing power to calomel or blue mass. Prayer is oft more potent than all the noxious drugs of man's device. God has promised, when consistent with His holy will, the prayers of His believing children to hear and bless. And in numbers more by far than this poor life is worth, have these from earnest, pleading souls gone up to God. Hence to-day we rest in the cheering hope that these have not been in vain.
Should it please the Lord to give the health I need to fight again the battles of Christian life, what responsibilities will it bring! That strength must all be counted His who gave it. All those years must be wholly His, His cause to serve. The interests of His kingdom to His children left, must be strictly guarded. Conflicts with men, even those we love, will come to him who strictly guards the faith, as Jude directs. In all conflicts with fellow men, for two good graces I humbly pray—the courage of Paul and the gentleness of John.
This holy Lord's-day morning, the sun rose bright and charming as on the seventh day of March it did three years ago in the sunny land of Florida. For the first time in many weary months did I a whiff of the outside air inhale. Oh! how delicious! 'Twas like a prisoner's whiff of the air of freedom. But this was not the best. To sit again with the brethren around the table of the Lord and hear again the sweet old story that is forever new, what a feast to the hungry soul! Then the birthday feast is next to be enjoyed. Loved ones gathered at the dear old "cottage home" to celebrate the marked event with music, song and recitation.
The birthday cakes and other "dainty tricks" by loving hands prepared and sent to grace the festive board, told tales of love. One thing alone marred the pleasure of the day and checked the overflow of its cup of bliss: Two loved and loving ones were far away and disappointed in their hope of being here. These would have made the ring complete, the family circle whole. But such, again, is life. Its disappointments will forever come. We should expect them, therefore, and be content.
This is my fiftieth milestone along life's rugged road. At this half-century mark I set up a pillar, as did Jacob of old.
"Here I'll raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I've come,
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home."
Thus far in life has a loving Father led me, and in his providential care I trust for all the rest. I place my trusting hand in His, asking to be led as He sees the way. "Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah," shall be my constant prayer. And thus, dear Father, the rest of life I leave with thee.
Dear Lord, should birthdays more be mine
To spend on earth to Thee,
Thy cause shall claim them wholly Thine
As earnest work can be.
And should'st Thou will the next be one
In Thy bright home above,
I gladly say, "Thy will be done,"
And join Thee in Thy love.
Cottage Home, March 7, 1886.
Conclusion by the Editor. Tokens of Love from Many. Keeps Writing. Controversy with the Standard. Last Meeting with His Mother. Visited by Professors McGarvey and Graham. Commits His Writings to the Latter. Visits Eminence and Lexington. Many Brethren Come to See Him. Meeting at Mt. Byrd. Estimate of His Character. The Closing Scenes. Farewell to His Family. Dies. Funeral Services.
The foregoing autobiography closes with June 13, 1885, while the life of the author was prolonged till January 6, 1887, and it remains for the editor to record a few of the incidents transpiring in the interval; and to bring this remarkable recital to a close.
Midsummer found Bro. Allen in his "Cottage Home," at Mt. Byrd, growing weaker in body day by day, but with no very acute suffering. Everything that devoted love on the part of his family and church could suggest for his comfort was done; and there were not wanting from abroad many tokens of undying affection, as it became generally known that he was gradually but surely passing away. Many of his friends, and especially preachers, came to Mt. Byrd as to a Mecca, to find their pilgrimage repaid in the fresh inspiration received by communing with this saintly man. The company of his brethren did not weary him; on the contrary, it seemed to have a favorable effect on both his body and mind; he greatly desired the visits of his friends, and found comfort in them. Still many were deterred from going to see him for fear it might disturb the quiet which they hoped would contribute to lengthen out his days. Meanwhile he kept writing with a diligence and persistence marvelous to those who witnessed it, and incredible to others; so much so, that many at a distance could not understand how one so near the grave could continue to write so much and so well; hence the hope entertained that he might survive for years to bless the church and the world. It must be remembered that his disease never affected his mind, and that, like most persons who die of consumption, he retained the full possession of his mental faculties even unto the end. Besides, he was sustained by an indomitable will that hesitated at nothing that stood in the way of duty; added to which was an unfaltering trust in God and a joyous resignation to His will, causing him to cease praying for longer life. Propped up in an invalid chair with a convenience of his own invention, he continued his weekly editorials to the Guide as regularly as ever, and developed abilities as an editor that none suspected he possessed till the last years of his life.
It was at this time that the unfortunate controversy began between the Guide and the Standard about our work in London, England, causing so much regret on the part of many friends of both papers. It was feared by some that this controversy would work irreparable injury to our mission enterprises, not only in England, but in other lands, for we all realized that Titans were engaged in the conflict; men, not like those of old, giants in physical strength and daring, but of intellectual power intensified by the love of God and his cause. Of course the disputants viewed the matter from different angles, and both, we must think, were equally sincere in their convictions. The present writer was not of those who thought upon the whole harm would come of this dispute, though he deeply regretted the asperity with which it was conducted. In our present imperfect state we need, I doubt not, these conflicts to remind us of our frailty, and if only we have grace to profit by them, God will turn them to our good and to His own glory. It is a source of devout thankfulness to those who knew Bro. Allen's unselfish purpose, that many who censured his course united with multitudes who approved it in paying honor to his memory, when the messenger who ends all earthly strifes called him to his final account.
In July, 1885, his aged and revered mother made him a visit, and remained some time; it was their last meeting; and now that her gifted son has gone to his reward, she waits in joyous hope for the day that shall reunite them forever.
A few weeks later it was the pleasure of the writer, in company with Prof. McGarvey, to spend two days at Mt. Byrd, in delightful fellowship with this grand man. He had been apprised of our coming, and was prepared for it. Truly, to him and to us it was a foretaste of the joys of the future world, and we left him the same resolute, confiding servant of Christ he had ever been, wholly resigned to the will of God and rejoicing in assured hope of eternal rest.
It pleased his Master to protract his life and usefulness a little longer, and so 1885 closed, and we find him still with his family, receiving many tokens of love from them and from brethren far away. Spring comes, and birds and flowers; the bright sunshine beams into his chamber, and now and then he is barely able to walk out to see and feel his Father's goodness bathing all things in quiet beauty. He repines not, knowing that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
He continues to write, and with the rest the preceding chapter of "Reflections on his Fiftieth Birthday." He commits it, his diary, and other writings to me, with the request that I do with them as I think best, for now he is sure that this unequal contest with mortality can not last much longer.
Summer comes, and with it increasing weakness, but no diminution of his trust in God. He wishes to visit Eminence once more, and to see his two younger daughters graduate from the college that had helped himself in former years. He attends, and then, unable to walk without help, he comes on to Lexington, to spend commencement week among his friends and brethren; this done, he returns to his beloved Mt. Byrd, to leave it no more till he goes to stand with the redeemed on the Mount of God.
During the fall of this year hardly a week passed that several of his relatives and Christian brethren were not found at his home; and did not the limit of this chapter forbid, we would like to record their names, for in love they came to testify their admiration for him and their sympathy with his sorrowing family. For one and all he had a word of cheer, and none came away without being deeply impressed with the conviction that he had been with one of the purest and best of men—one who lived in daily communion with his Maker. His one theme of conversation was religion, and if we may judge from his increasing delight in it, to no one was death a more gentle transition from faith to sight. Narrow, indeed, to him was the bourn that divides the seen from the unseen, the temporal from the eternal, and the labors of earth from the felicities of heaven. He daily lived upon the boundary of two worlds.
In October, Bro. J. K. P. South held a meeting with the Mt. Byrd church, and, though feeble beyond measure, Bro. Allen made out to attend a few times, and even to take part in prayer and exhortation, sitting in his chair. Only twice after this was he able to be carried to the Lord's house, but on neither occasion could he take an active part in the worship.
In all the relations of life Bro. Allen was a model of all that is lovable in human character—kind, gentle, considerate of the feelings of others, even the least, and always cheerful. A refined and delicate humor pervaded his conversation, which was always chaste and instructive. There was in him a moderation that always attends reserved power, and a candor that was transparent; these qualities, united with an equipoise of intellectual and moral strength, harmony of emotions, and hatred of everything mean or unfair, made him revered by his friends, and an idol in his household. Wife, children, servants, all who came into that charmed circle, were attached to him in a love that bordered on idolatry. To draw a portraiture of this remarkable man would indeed be a pleasing task did space allow—his logical penetration, depth of feeling, strength of will, energy, industry, unwavering faith in God and goodness, and, crowning all, his fidelity to the gospel of Christ—but it is unnecessary. To us who knew him these virtues were conspicuous; by others, they may be gathered from the unvarnished story of his life as it is told in the foregoing pages. We must hasten to the closing scene.
On New Year's day, 1887, he laid down his pen to resume it again no more. He was forced to this by sheer exhaustion; his body was wasted to a skeleton, and it was clear to all that the end was near. Having suffered much for several days, but without a murmur, on the evening of Jan. 5 he requested all his family to come to his bedside, and while their hearts were breaking for grief and all eyes were blinded with tears, he spoke to them for the last time.
"My dear children," said he, "I want to say a few things to you while I can. I may not be able to do it if I put it off longer. I will soon leave you, and I know you will miss me. It is hard for you to give me up, but it is the will of God, and you must bear up as best you can. I am sure I have always had your love, and you have always obeyed me; and now I want you to always love and obey your mother. Remember, wherever you may be, that you are all of one household. Live in peace, and let no strife or discord spring up among you." Taking the hand of each of his daughters, he asked them to meet him in heaven, and then kissed them good-bye.
Laying his hand upon Frank's head, he said, "My dear son, papa has to leave you." "O papa," said the lad, "pray not to die." "We have prayed, my dear boy, but it is God's will to take me home, and He knows best. You must love your mamma and obey her; be good to your sisters. I want you to grow up and become a minister of the gospel. Try to make a better preacher than your papa has been. Be studious and industrious, and live so that you may at last meet me in heaven. May God bless you, my son, and keep you in His care. Kiss me good-bye."
Throwing one arm around his wife, he said, "My dear, my affliction has been a blessing to me in having you near me all the time. You have been everything on earth that a good wife could be. I have loved you even more in my affliction than I ever did before. I want to thank you for all your kindness to me and loving care of me. If I have ever done or said anything I should not, I want you to forgive me now. I can say on my dying bed that I have always been a true husband to you. I have made the best provision I could for you and the children, and if there should appear any mistakes they have not been of my heart." He then bade her a long and last farewell.
He then blessed his three little grandchildren and kissed them; expressed a desire to see his "dear old mother," brother and sisters once more, and spoke of some business matters a moment, then said, "This is too sacred for that."
For two or three days before this he had been able to speak only a few words at a time; but throughout this interview with his family, his voice was as strong and clear as it had ever been. After this his breathing became difficult, and he could gasp only a single word now and then. He seemed to have no wish to be occupied with this world. The weary traveler had at last reached the goal; and about nine o'clock Thursday night, January 6, 1887, his pure spirit left its frail tenement to suffer no more.
The following account of his funeral, written by his devoted friend and Christian brother, W. K. Azbill, may well close the biography of Frank Gibbs Allen:
"IT IS FINISHED."
It is finished. The struggle with his fatal malady is over at last, and F. G. Allen is at rest. He sank into a quiet sleep last Thursday night, Jan. 6, 1887.
A few friends were notified of the end by telegrams, and that the burial would take place from Mt. Byrd Church on Sunday, but the condition of the Ohio River rendered it extremely difficult to reach "Cottage Home." However, in spite of the difficulties and dangers in crossing the river, and the extreme cold weather, there were seven ministers and a very large audience present at the burial. The people came over the snow and through the snow, in sleighs and sleds and buggies, afoot and on horseback, till the large country audience-room was well filled. The presence of such an assembly on such a day evinced the truth of what is now widely known, that Frank Allen was loved best where he has lived and labored for the past sixteen years.
The services were begun by Bro. A. W. Kokendoffer, who lead in an invocation of divine blessing and strength and guidance. The congregation then sang "Nearer, My God, to Thee." The writer read the following Scriptures; John xiv. 1-4, 27, 28; I. Cor. xv. 51-58; I. Thess. iv. 13-18; II. Sam, iii. 31-39, repeating 38.
He felt that he should not, because he could not speak on the occasion. He had followed the inclinations of his own grief, and had come as a mourner and not as a comforter. We had not met to tell how much we esteemed our departed brother, or how much we loved him, or how much we should miss him, now that he has gone. The gap is a wide one he has left in the family, in the congregation of his love, and in the larger church; and it will seem wider and wider as the days go by. We had come as his brothers and sisters—as those who loved him—to lay him away in the grave, and to ask God's help and blessing in this time of loss and sorrow. He then led in worship, thanking God for His gift to the church of the precious life that had just been surrendered at His call; praising God for His love of brave and true men like him; expressing the loving confidence of all that the heavenly Father would deal tenderly with our widowed sister and her children; asking especially that the little boy might live to honor the name of his beloved father, and praying that the dear church, that has borne him on their hearts through all this anxious time of weakness and suffering, might forever be blessed by the memory of his godly life in it.
The song, "Asleep in Jesus," was then sung, after which President R. Graham, of the College of the Bible, addressed the audience on the life and character of the deceased.
He had thought of how truly it might be said of him, that "There is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel." He had felt inclined to derive comfort for the church, and to those to whom he was doubly dear, from the passage in the Apocalypse, "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors: and their works do follow them." He did not know whether others would be present to take part in the services. But Bro. Kurfees was here from the churches in Louisville, and, as a representative of the Guide, Bro. McDiarmid, from Cincinnati, to represent his associates in our other publishing interests, and Bro. Azbill, from Indianapolis, connected with our missionary interests, while he himself brought the sympathies of those in the College of the Bible. He felt there was a suitableness in all this, for all these things were dear to the heart of our brother.
He then proceeded to give a sketch of his life and career. There were several distinct periods in his history. The first was from his birth, March 7, 1836, to his marriage in 1856, a period of about twenty years. Here he spoke of his early struggles for an education, and of the signs of a useful life manifested even then. The second, from the time of his marriage till his entry upon general evangelistic work, about 1866. During this decade he became a Christian, resolved to preach the gospel, and entered and passed through a course of collegiate studies in Eminence College. The third period began with his evangelistic labors. During this time he became a pastor of the Mt. Byrd church. During this period most of his public discussions were held. It was through these labors that he was revealed to his brethren as a man who was greater than we knew.
The last period began with his editorial career, and closed with his death. He became first a contributing editor of The Apostolic Times, and afterwards co-editor. Then he became the proprietor and editor of The Old-Path Guide, which, in the course of events, was consolidated with the Times, and became The Apostolic Guide.
President Graham then spoke of his character and his characteristic abilities. He was a sincere man, he was a conscientious man, he was a brave, true man; he was a pure-minded man, he was a godly man.
His ability was not that of the great scholar, but of the logician of keen, accurate perceptions. He was not an encyclopedia, but a compact volume of naked logic. He was capable of the very nicest discriminations; and he had the faculty of pointing out a fallacy with marvelous clearness, and of turning an objection to his position into an argument in its favor.
He was sometimes misunderstood; but he was always true to his convictions, and there was no honorable thing he would not do for the truth's sake. He believed in the gospel as the power of God unto salvation; and he made no compromises with doctrines in conflict with his conviction that the gospel must be believed and obeyed by those who would be saved.
The speaker said many tender and fatherly things to the bereaved family and to the church, one of which was that we who knew of our brother's sufferings, could have had but the one motive of selfishness for detaining him an hour longer than he lingered with us.
Bro. M. C. Kurfees followed the remarks of President Graham with some comforting reflections on Bro. Allen's views of death and of the future life. He spoke of his willingness "to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." Heaven is not a far off place, but an actual spiritual presence with God. He spoke of the blessedness of being always ready for this change from our life in the body to our life with God in the invisible world.
Bro. McDiarmid closed the services with suitable remarks and an earnest prayer. After the singing of the song, "Jesus, Lover of my Soul," came the final leave-taking, and the departure from the church to the grave. Not the least touching of these scenes was the breaking down in grief of the sturdy yeomen of the congregation as they stood around the bier of their dear brother and former pastor, and looked on that manly face and form for the last time.
Finally we laid him to rest in the burying-place near by. At the grave the closing prayer was offered by Bro. Wm. Buchanan, who referred tenderly to his aged mother and absent relatives. And thus the final scenes closed.
His resting-place is a lovely spot, overlooking the city of Madison, commanding an extended view of the river valley, and in sight of the stream and of all the vessels that go by. It is near to his "Cottage Home" and to the church he so much loved; and the spot will be all the dearer now that he sleeps in it.
Only four days ago the writer said in a letter to the family: "I linger on the eve of taking a long voyage, and he may soon go on a very short one; but which of these shall be made the occasion of saying 'good-bye,' I hardly know." Even then the solitary voyager was on his way. The breakers dashed about him as he launched; the great billows roared beneath and around him as he went out; the waves broke over each other in ripples as he passed on; and the ripples hushed into whispers as he neared the other shore. At last he took the adorable divine Guide by the hand, and passed beyond our view.
I.—CULTURE AND CHRISTIANITY: THEIR RELATION AND NECESSITY.
[An Address Delivered Before Eminence College, June 8, 1877.]
There are periods in our history which form the oases in the desert of life. In one of these our spirits are to-day refreshed. Its dark shade and cooling fountain strengthen us for the onward pilgrimage. From its green sward we pluck bright flowers, whose fragrance will linger with us till the end of life's journey. From these let us to-day weave fresh garlands, which shall ever exhale the sweetness of these associations.
This is ever a proud day for Eminence College. Annually on these festive occasions do the hearts of the many thousands who have gone out from these classic halls turn to them again with longing. Memory, unfettered by space, walks again amid these lovely bowers and responds unconsciously to the greetings of other days. Though separated far, and mingling in the busy scenes of life, how their souls revel in these delights! These college associations are the golden links which bind many hearts in an unbroken chain. The chords so exquisitely touched in our hearts to-day will vibrate for an age. Ere these sweet strains die away on the distant air they will be caught up by responsive hearts and reëchoed round the earth. These are times in our college life that must ever be linked with the future. Memory will ever delight to lift the heavy curtain of material life, and behold again these visions of beauty, and paint in fancy these rose tints of youth. Then let this day be one whose brightness shall shed a ray of celestial light along the path of life. Let our spirits bathe in the fountain of living waters, while the chords of our hearts are swept with entrancing melodies.
"Then th' inexpressive strain
Diffuses its enchantment. Fancy dreams
Of sacred fountains and Elysian groves,
And vales of bliss; the intellectual power
Bends from his awful throne a wandering ear,
As a theme worthy of your consideration to-day, I have selected
"Culture and Christianity: Their Relation and Necessity."
The Greek word for man, [Greek: anthropos], signifies etymologically to look upward. Man is the only terrestrial being capable of looking inward and upward. In this there lies between him and the animal creation an impassable gulf. Man alone can look into his inner nature, and thereby make his very failures the stepping-stones to a higher life. God designed that man's progress should be upward; hence his high destiny is attained, not by creation, but by development. The ladder at whose foot he begins his immortal career rests upon the eternal throne. This is not a development into man, but a development of man. The theory of development into man is of the flesh; but the development of man is of the spirit. Since man is destined for eternity, it is not befitting that he should attain perfection in time. Hence he does not develop as the beast of the field, or the fowl of the air. They soon learn all that they ever know. They soon enjoy all they are capable of enjoying. They soon attain to the perfection of their being, and fulfill the end of their creation. The swallow builds her nest and the beaver his dam precisely as they did in the days before the flood. Nor can it ever be otherwise. But it is not so with man. This life is too short and this world too small for his development. He but begins to live in this world. This life is simply a state of probation. Our faculties but begin to unfold on the things of time when we are called hence. This unfolding of our faculties, this development of our inner self, is the result of culture—a culture not of the flesh, but of the spirit; not of the outer, but of the inner man.
Culture and Christianity, properly considered, are inseparable. He who relies on culture apart from Christianity misconceives the end of his being. He appreciates not his high destiny. Animals have minds susceptible of a high degree of cultivation, but not of a culture which reaches beyond time. Their culture is wholly a thing of this life; but not more so than is the culture of men unsanctified by the religion of Christ. A culture that terminates with death is in harmony with the nature of a horse, but contrary to the nature of a man. What is culture? This is a question on whose solution man's eternal destiny is largely suspended. Our age prides itself on being an age of culture; but do we know in what true culture really consists? As a whole, I think not. A smattering of sentimental literature, a superficial refinement of manners, a few borrowed phrases and appropriated customs of "society," the rendering of a few pieces by rote, and fashionable dress, constitute with, alas! too many the standard of culture. How unworthy of their race are those who entertain the thought! All this may be but the gilding of barbarism; beneath this external glitter there may be a heart and character steeped in moral rudeness and degradation.
True culture consists not in the cultivation of outward accomplishments. It consists not in intellectual acquirements. It consists in the development of the triune man—body, soul and spirit—in their divine harmony. Without a cultivation of the spirit in harmony with its immortal destiny, all that this world calls culture is but the gilded tinsel that bedecks the putrefaction of death. The truly cultured man is developed in harmony with the laws of his being. This being is compound, having a fleshly and a spiritual side. Hence, to cultivate one to the neglect of the other is to disproportion him whom God created in His own image. As we exist first in time and next in eternity, that culture which loses sight of either state misconceives the full mission of man. Man's conception of his present mission and ultimate destiny determines his standard of culture. He must have an ideal, and if that ideal be low, his life will be correspondingly low. Nothing but Christianity can furnish man an ideal worthy of himself; and nothing but Christian culture can develop him in the direction of that ideal.
Classical antiquity never conceived a destiny worthy of man. It never contemplated him in that relation of Christ-likeness to his God, which the Bible reveals. Even Aristotle, the most cultivated of all heathen philosophers, thought that only a part of mankind possessed a rational soul. With such a conception man is incapable of the highest culture. It is degrading to his dignity. All culture based on such a hypothesis must be a culture of the flesh, and not of the spirit. It is the culture of materialism, not of Christianity. Between modern materialism and the cultivated heathenism of the ancient Greeks the difference is not worth the naming. "To assume the existence of a soul," says Vogt, "which uses the brain as an instrument with which to work as it pleases, is utter nonsense. Physiology distinctly and categorically pronounces against any individual immortality, and against all ideas which are connected with a figment of a separate existence of the soul." "Man," says Moleschott, "is produced from wind and ashes. The action of vegetable life called him into existence.... Thought consists in the motion of matter, it is a translocation of the cerebral substance; without phosphorus there can be no thought; and consciousness itself is nothing but an attribute of matter." This deification of the flesh, this "gospel of dirt," makes man consist simply of what he eats. The missionaries of this heathen gospel have no need to address the reason of men; only feed them on the right kind of food and their regeneration is accomplished! Materialism is a religion of the flesh, a deification of matter; its laver of regeneration is the chemist's retort; its new birth, phosphorus! Give the brain plenty of phosphorus by high living, and you develop the soul of materialism! Yet the heralds of this soulless gospel talk flippantly about culture!
Man's fall was due to an attempt to acquire knowledge at the expense of heart culture. Here, amid the bowers of "paradise lost" is found the root of all false culture, and from that root the world has ever been filled with a noxious growth. True culture consists in a correction of the process which
"Brought death into the world,
And all our woe."
Man in his spiritual nature must be educated back to the divine image from which he fell. No culture comprehending less than this has ever proved a permanent blessing to the race. The highest culture hitherto attained apart from Christianity was incapable of saving its devotees from ruin. Greece and Rome were never more cultured, in a popular sense, than when they began to go down in death. Materialistic culture was their winding-sheet, and "A Religion of the Flesh" should be their epitaph. As Christlieb has truly said: "Wherever civilization is not made to rest on the basis of moral and religious truth it can not attain to any permanent existence, and is incapable of preserving the nations possessed of it from spiritual starvation, to say nothing of political death."
It is idle to boast of Liberty when the foundations of her temples are not laid in divine truth. Of this, Greece and Rome have furnished the world examples. In Greece freedom had a field peculiarly her own; she breathed her inspiration into the people, and her spirit into their literature; she lived in the deeds of their youth, and was sung by the muse of their bards. This spirit was diffused in Rome. Plato, Aristotle and Homer were transplanted to the Rhine, the Seine, and the Thames. Their land was full of liberty and culture, but not the liberty nor the culture of the soul. When we learn from Tacitus that "in the first century, in a time of famine, all the teachers of youth were banished from the city, and six thousand dancers were retained," we have an example of that culture which made Rome a sink of iniquity. It is not impossible that the fatal mistake of Greece and Rome should be repeated in our own country. We are venturing to some extent on the slippery places from which they fell. The evil star of their national ruin is that on which the eyes of many of our political leaders are fixed. The godless spirit that animated the Roman senate is being nursed into new life in American politics, and this nursing is not simply in the halls of legislation, but in the homes of the people. Here lies the trouble. If the American republic ever goes down in ruin, the power that hurls it from its high position will be enthroned in the family circle.
We complain that those in authority have not the fear of God before their eyes. We lift our hands in holy horror at the public corruption which brings our nation into dishonor before the world. But who is to blame? One political party is ever ready to ascribe all the corruption of the country to its political rival. But this godless disregard of national honor and national interest is confined to no party. Neither is it confined to party leaders; but it controls the people on whom the leaders rely for support. Here is the seat of the disease which is gnawing at the vitals of the republic. The man who now refuses to cater to the depraved tastes of the masses, can not, as a rule, be promoted to office. How many men can sit in the halls of legislation, or even on our benches of justice, who persistently refuse to influence men's votes by money, or inflame their passions and sway their judgment with strong drink? When a man of a high sense of moral honor seeks promotion by the suffrage of his fellow-citizens, he soon learns that he must come down from his "stilted dignity" or be defeated. In the excitement of the canvass he yields to base motives to prevent defeat. He compromises his high sense of honor, deadens his conscience, and sells out his manhood to secure an honorable (?) position. We should not expect men to manifest a high sense of honor in public places as long as we require them to compromise their honor in order to secure such places. The thing is both unreasonable and unjust. As well expect sweet water to flow from a fountain which we have made bitter!
Party spirit is hostile to moral purity. As one becomes filled with the spirit of party, to that extent does he surrender the freedom of a man. He can neither think nor speak impartially. He stifles the convictions of conscience and shouts the shibboleth of party. With him the triumph of party is infinitely dearer than the maintenance of principle. Hence the conflict becomes a struggle, not for principle, but for victory. The people are distracted and the nation brought to the verge of ruin over the most trivial matters. The Eastern empire was once shaken to its foundation by parties which differed only about the merits of charioteers at the amphitheater.
This ruinous party spirit is fostered by ignorance. The masses who are controlled at the ballot-box by the basest influences, because they will not be controlled by any other; and who in turn control the ballots of our country, are, as a rule, the uncultured part of society. The better class of citizens are not approached with the influences which control the ignorant. Therefore, the remedy is in the correct education of the masses. The emphasis is correctly made; for any kind of education will not accomplish this end. Only as people are truly cultured do they cease to be tools of politicians. Then their intelligence, not their passions, must be addressed. When the masses are thus cultured they will refine instead of demoralize our public men.
As a remedy, then, for the demoralization of all classes we need a better system of education. We must have a free education if we would have a free people. Our children must be educated in just principles, if we would perpetuate a just government. To make this remedy effectual, when the means of education are provided for the ignorant, they should be required to appropriate them, or forfeit their right of suffrage. No man should have a voice in determining the destiny of our nation, who rejects the means of that culture which alone can qualify him to act intelligently. A man who has not spirit enough to avail himself of the benefits of an elementary education, when placed within his reach, is not worthy of being a citizen of a free government.
Not only must the ballot-box be elevated by culture, if this government would number its centennials, but it must be purified by Christianity. We need to erect a high standard of moral qualification for positions of trust and honor. Those in authority will ever be about what the people require of them. When ungodliness and moral corruption are at a discount among the people, and party spirit can not atone for the darkest crimes, then may we expect more purity in high places; not before. This standard must be erected at the ballot-box or our liberties will find an untimely grave.
This government was established on a false idea—the idea that man is capable of self-government. God never intended that man should govern himself. Consequently, in the strictest sense of the word, he is incapable, both individually and collectively, of self-government. Since, by his own wisdom, man is incapable of governing himself he is likewise incapable of governing others. The men and the nations, in the ages of the past, that attempted this, failed of the high destiny for which God gave them being. The ultimate prosperity of men and nations depends on the government of God. Only He who created man fully understands his ultimate destiny and the laws of his being to attain to that end. Therefore, only when man is thus governed is his life a success. All sacred history shows that God rules in the governments of men; and only when this fact is practically acknowledged may nations expect permanent prosperity. That nation whose laws are framed and executed regardless of the law of God will eventually fall under the divine chastisement. No more can the statesmanship of this world, unsanctified by divine wisdom, save a nation from the wrath of God, than the wisdom of man can save a soul from eternal death, regardless of Him, "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." For the disregard of God's will, nations are punished here, because as nations they do not exist hereafter. On this the Lord has clearly spoken: "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it: If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." Thus it is that nations are in the hands of God as clay in the hands of the potter. Only, therefore, when they purge themselves from ungodly legislation, will they become "vessels unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use."
The voice of God, then, must be heard and heeded in our nation, and if the people rule, and the nation prosper, the voice of God must become the voice of the people. In this sense, and this only, are any people capable of self-government. To this end we need more extended culture, and that of a higher order. Our politics must be purified by our religion, and our religion must be a religion of the spirit, not of the flesh. We need more religion in our politics, and less politics in our religion. The history of other nations fully confirms the language of Goethe: "All epochs," says he, "in which faith prevailed have been the most heart-stirring and fruitful, both as regards contemporaries and posterity; whereas, on the other hand, all epochs in which unbelief obtains its miserable triumphs, even when they boast of some apparent brilliancy, are not less surely doomed to speedy oblivion." Liberty is the twin sister of Faith. In the language of Seneca: "To obey God is freedom. A nation that desires to be free must believe, and a nation that will not believe must be in servitude; only despotism can dispense with faith, but not liberty."
History clearly proves that national prosperity depends on an appreciation of the intimate relation existing between culture and Christianity. Of this relation Christlieb truly speaks: "No one, indeed," says he, "will wish to deny that in our modern culture there is much that is false, egotistic, and selfish; much that is misleading and exaggerated, and consequently opposed to true culture. Against these untrue elements of culture, Christianity will and must always take the field; it must not oppose progress, although it is at all times bound to show itself hostile to the sins of progress, just as from its very commencement it has always testified and striven against such sins. Between Christless culture and Christianity a bridge of accommodation can no more be built than between light and darkness, and woe to him who undertakes this! But whatever in our modern culture is thoroughly Christless, and therefore Godless, is unworthy of the name and can, therefore, claim from us no further consideration; it is mere naked rudeness and selfishness, ill-disguised by the gaudy rays of outward decency; a mere cherishing of the sensual nature which, left to itself, would soon degenerate into monstrous barbarism, of which we already see many indications."
Intellectual, at the expense of moral, culture is one of the curses of this age. By such culture man acquires power without the principles which alone can make that power a blessing. Intellect is deified; but intellect unsubdued by Christianity is a remorseless god. True culture would lift man above this low conception of his own nature. It would give him a more comprehensive view of himself; of the infinite development of which he is susceptible; of the rulings of an all-wise Providence, whose loving care
"From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression."
True culture consists not in an accumulation of facts or ideas, but in developing a force of thought that is ever a ready and willing servant. To educate is to lead out and develop the faculties, not to break them down with the endless rubbish of other minds. The collection of facts amounts to but little unless with those facts we build towers from which to take higher and wider views of truth. Thus it is that culture demands them as a means, not as an end. To build up the mental and moral faculties, so as to comprehend and appreciate the great principles which control the life that now is, and that which is to come, is the highest culture in our probationary state. This can be accomplished only by an education in which the Bible and the authority of Christ are made paramount. On this, as we have seen, our free institutions and the perpetuity of religious liberty depend. This is the secret of Roman Catholic opposition to the Bible in our public schools. And it is not simply the Bible in the public schools that Rome opposes; she is opposed to the existence of the schools themselves; to the system of free education. No people understand better than the Catholics the power of religious teaching in connection with education. Hence they are the foe to all religion in connection with education that is not Catholic. Rome is the friend of education and religion when that education is priestly and that religion Romish; otherwise she is the enemy of both. Hence those who support Catholic schools foster the deadliest foe of our religious liberties. There will ever be, therefore, an irrepressible conflict between Roman Catholicism and Christian culture. Let him who doubts this study impartially the history of Catholic countries. We ask no more.
The idea is fast passing away, and it can not pass too rapidly, that the mass of the people need no other culture than that which fits them for their various vocations. The world is beginning to learn that culture is due to our nature, not to our calling. It is not the calling nor the place of residence that makes the man. It is what a man is, not what he does, that makes him great. True greatness is in the man, not in circumstances. True greatness and worldly fame are two widely different things. The greatest men of earth may be but little known. As force of thought measures intellectual, so force of principle measures moral, greatness. There is more true greatness in the huts of poverty than in the palaces of kings, only it is undeveloped. Here, therefore, is where we need true Christian culture. I can not better express my appreciation of obscure greatness, which culture should develop, than by repeating the words of Dr. Channing: "The greatest man," says he, "is he who chooses the right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptation from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms and most fearless under menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering; and is this a greatness which is apt to make a show, or which is most likely to abound in conspicuous stations? The solemn conflicts of reason with passion; the victories of moral and religious principles over urgent and almost irresistible solicitations to self-indulgence; the hardest sacrifices of duty, those of deep-seated affection and of the heart's fondest hopes; the consolations, hopes, joys, and peace, of disappointed, persecuted, scorned, deserted virtue; these are of course unseen, so that the true greatness of human life is almost wholly out of sight. Perhaps in our presence the most heroic deed on earth is done in some silent spirit, the loftiest purpose cherished, the most generous sacrifices made, and we do not suspect it. I believe this greatness to be most common among the multitude, whose names are never heard." Most beautifully has the poet expressed the same fine thought:
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
These pure gems need to be discovered and polished, and these sweet flowers cultivated and utilized by Christian culture. It is idle to talk of developing these hidden resources of intellectual and moral wealth but by true culture, and this can never exist apart from Christianity. Christianity is the spiritual power that vitalizes the culture of our age. So evident is this that even a Fichte was compelled to confess that, "We and our whole age are rooted in the soil of Christianity, and have sprung from it; it has exercised its influence in the most manifold ways on the whole of our culture, and we should be absolutely nothing of all that we are, if this mighty principle had not preceded us." Culture and Christianity can not now be divorced. Those who would array culture against Christianity are themselves under the influence of that which they oppose. The very imagined imperfections of Christianity must be discovered by the light of Christianity, "just as he who seeks to discover spots in the sun, must for this purpose borrow the light of the sun itself." Culture and Christianity are so interwoven that we may never expect either, separate from the other, as a blessing to the world. The very fact that the Protestant nations of the earth, where God is honored by a free Bible, are the chief exponents of true culture, attests this connection. So vital is this relation that, "United they stand; divided they fall."
Another important end to be attained in the culture of the masses is independence of thought. We need to cast off the yoke of human opinion and cultivate the individual judgment. We are too much the slaves of fashion. We are disposed to dress our minds as well as our bodies, after the fashion of the times. This destroys originality and independence of thought, and renders our lives tame and insipid. We need connection with other minds to excite our own, not to enslave them. We want the thoughts of others that we may think; and without correct modes of thinking, all efforts at education and culture are failures.
But it may be argued, the masses are denied the privilege of association with the cultivated. This is not true. They may deprive themselves, but they are not denied. This is peculiarly an age of printing. The best of literature may now find its way into the most humble homes. There is not a roof in the land under which the prophets and apostles of God will not enter with the glad message containing the promise of the life that is and that which is to come; not one under which the poets will not come to sing to us of that far-off land; not one too holy for the habitation of the great minds of earth which inspire us
"With thoughts that breathe,
And words that burn."
With these for our companions, we may have the best society that this world affords, and, by such association, fit ourselves for the companionship of the cultivated.
Is it argued that the poor have not time for self-culture? This is one of the greatest mistakes of life. It is not time that we want; it is inclination. Generally, those who have most time profit by it least. An earnest purpose will either find time or make time. Nor is it necessary that much time should be taken. The spare moments, the mere fragments of time, often worse than wasted, will, if carefully improved, make both mind and heart a store-house of the most precious treasure. It is said that Spurgeon read the whole of Macaulay's History of England between the courses at dinner. I would not advise that these golden opportunities for social culture be devoted to reading; but the circumstance shows how much may be accomplished by gathering up the crumbs which fall from the table of time. When Martin Luther was asked how, amid all his other labors, he found time to translate the Holy Scriptures, he replied, "One verse a day." A small amount of daily reading, of the right kind, will furnish food for thought; and it is thought, after all, that enriches the soul.
A proper improvement of the most slender opportunities for self-culture creates new capacities for enjoyment, and saves the leisure moments from being dull and wearisome. More than this; it saves them from being devoted to ruinous indulgence. The soul-culture for which these fragments of time provide, lifts humanity above mere brutal enjoyments, and implants pleasures worthy of their race. Christian culture is essential to the subduing of sensuality, and the subduing of sensuality is essential to the permanent prosperity of both individuals and nations.
But, it may be said, any considerable degree of culture will lift the masses above their vocations, and cause them to become dissatisfied with their lot; that the cultured mind despises drudgery. The very reverse of this is true. Culture dignifies labor and destroys drudgery. The man determines the dignity of the calling; not the calling the dignity of the man. Let men of culture carry their culture into their vocations, and their vocations will become honorable. Let cultured men plow and reap, and plowing and reaping will become as dignified as the "learned professions." Because a man can not wear as fine a garb at the forge as he can at the desk, it does not follow that his thoughts may not be as fine. A man may wear a polished intellect and a cultivated soul under a coarse garb as well as under a fine one; and he should be respected the more, if circumstances have compelled him to develop his intellectual and moral forces; if at all, under a rough exterior.
While in these thoughts I have spoken of men, I have used the term generically. The principles apply with equal force to the women of this country. One of the great evils of our land is, that among the ladies, domestic labor is not sufficiently dignified. The number of mothers in the ordinary walks of life, silly enough to think that ignorance of domestic duties is an accomplishment for their daughters, is by no means small. This results from a want of true culture and common sense. There is no just reason why a young lady should not knead her dough and conjugate a Greek verb at the same time with equal skill. True culture will dignify domestic labor among women of all classes, and this will result in more domestic prosperity, and more domestic happiness. The rich and the poor will be brought into closer sympathy, unnecessary distinctions will be broken down, and the people will become one in the essential elements of good government and pure religion.
Young ladies, you above all others should appreciate the blending of culture and Christianity. One glance at the history of the world must convince you that the highest culture, unsanctified by Christianity, has never elevated your sex above disgraceful servitude. Certainly you can not entertain the thought, that the culture which does not elevate woman can ever bless the world. Only Christianity has exalted the gentler sex to that position in the esteem and affections of men that God designed she should occupy. Hence, of all the friends of ancient Christianity, woman should be the truest and most lasting; and of all the enemies of modern Rationalism, she should be the most bitter and unrelenting.
In conclusion, allow me to repeat the thought of the beginning, that it is the nature of man to look upward, and he who does not look upward is untrue to his nature. But in the flesh, we can only begin to ascend the heights of God. Here we are weighed down with infirmity, with our frail, decaying bodies; but our souls long for the power of incessant, never-wearying, glorious activity, awaiting us in the upper world. One of my highest conceptions of Heaven; one that thrills me to contemplate, is a life of no more prostration from labor; no more weariness of over-wrought brain; no aching head nor pain-racked body; but incessant labor, unincumbered by frail mortality; growth, development, expanding visions of God, among pure intelligences, and amid the celestial splendor of eternal worlds. But in the flesh, I can not bathe in those fountains of celestial light. Then let me leave this frail tenement of clay, as one steps out of the vehicle that can take him no farther, and leaving it behind, ascends the lofty mountain to gaze upon the unfolding wonders of God. Let my liberated spirit not only look upward, but mount upward, as on eagles' wings, till rising above the Pleiades, and leaving the Milky-way to fade out in the receding distance, it walks with God on the ever-ascending plain, reached only by culture and Christianity.
[An Address Delivered Before Columbia Christian College, June 7, 1878.]
Ladies and Gentlemen:—I am happy in the privilege of again addressing you in the interests of the great work in which you are so nobly engaged. To-day many of you go out from under the fostering care of this institution, to engage in the ceaseless battle of life. That you have been well panoplied for the conflict is not questioned. And, if I can second, in some degree, the efforts of your faithful and worthy Faculty in directing and encouraging you to that success that should crown their efforts and yours, I shall feel that I have labored to no trifling purpose. The theme selected for your consideration is
Man, though fallen, is in his ruins grand. His powers of development are little less than infinite. They begin with the cradle, but do not end with the grave. No other being begins so low and ascends so high. In his beginning, he is "crushed before the moth;" in the fullness of his power he shall "judge angels." In this world he scarcely begins to live. This life is too short and this world too small for the development of his God-given faculties. Here he scarcely learns the alphabet preparatory to God's grand university from which he is never to graduate. He simply begins the study of an unending book. He but gathers a few pebbles on the shores of the river of time, then sinks beneath its wave.
But while in this world we scarcely make a beginning, yet everything depends on the character of that beginning. As is the beginning, so will be the conclusion. In the direction taken in time will we progress in eternity. We may repent of our mistakes here and correct them, but there is no repentance beyond the grave. There are no mistakes corrected in eternity. Hence the necessity of a proper use of time.
I have selected the word culture to express the idea which I wish to convey, and yet I must confess that it does not express it as happily as I should desire. Where the Greeks had their paideia, the Romans their humanitas, we have the more elastic and accommodating word culture. I use it in this address in the sense of drawing out and developing the nobler powers that are potentially in fallen humanity. It is not so much the development of all the faculties in man to their highest extent, as the directing and training of the better ones to their true end. We are dealing here with beginnings, not endings. The perfection of man in all his capacities is not a thing of time. In time, the character must receive its mold; in eternity, its highest polish.
By self-culture I mean, of course, the power that one has, and ought to use, of cultivating himself. "To cultivate anything," says Dr. Channing, "be it a plant, an animal, a mind, is to make grow. Growth, expansion is the end. Nothing admits culture but that which has a principle of life, capable of being expanded. He, therefore, who does what he can to unfold all his powers and capacities, especially his nobler ones, so as to become a well proportioned, vigorous, happy being, practices self-culture." This may apply to those who have not the advantages of schools and colleges, and to the after education of those who have.
We hear much in this age about a "finished education at college." There is, alas! too much truth in the expression. Generally, the more superficial our collegiate education, the more completely is it "finished" on the day of graduation. How few young ladies and gentlemen meet the expectations raised by their educational advantages! How few years sadden loving hearts with disappointed hopes! How many stars shine brilliantly within college walls, then go out to be seen no more! And all this the result of a "finished education!"
Most of these failures are the result of wrong views of education. Our school days are but a beginning of our earthly education, as this is but the beginning of that which is to come. It is not what we learn in school, but what we learn after leaving it, that determines our success or failure. These advantages are but for the purpose of laying the foundation; the building is the work of after years. And he who does not build, does not even preserve the foundation. Alas! how many well-laid foundations have moldered into ruin! No sooner does the plant cease to grow than it begins to decay. Therefore, he who would live must grow, and he who would grow must be active. There is no success to him who stands with his hands in his pockets. This is an age of intense activity. Competition in every calling is sharp; the professions are crowded, and there is room only at the top. Therefore, the path to success is not strewed with flowers and tinted with the rainbow's hue. As Carlyle truly says: "The race of life has become intense; the runners are treading upon each other's heels, woe be to him who stops to tie his shoestrings."
Many a young man fails because he thinks himself a genius, and therefore does not need to study. The sooner you get rid of the idea that you are a genius the better. The old idea of a genius that never has to study is the pet of laziness and the ruin of manliness. Sidney Smith truly says: "There is but one method of attaining to excellence, and that is hard labor; and a man who will not pay that price for distinction had better at once dedicate himself to the pursuit of the fox, or sport with the tangles of Neæra's hair, or talk of bullocks and glory in the goad! There are many modes of being frivolous, and not a few of being useful; there is but one mode of being intellectually great."
It is common for those who have not the wealth to afford them a luxurious college course to bemoan their misfortune and content themselves with being nothing. If culture were attained by complaining of misfortune, many would soon reach perfection. To some, extreme poverty is doubtless a misfortune, but to many others it is a blessing. The world's grandest heroes and benefactors have struggled with poverty; and, but for this, they would have died unwept and unhonored. The great men and women of earth were not dandled in the lap of luxury. Lord Thurlow, Chancellor of England, when asked by a wealthy friend what course his son should pursue to secure success at the bar, is said to have thus replied: "Let your son spend his fortune, marry and spend his wife's, and then go to the bar; there will be little fear of his failure." The Chancellor well knew that, with his wealth, the young man would not do the work that success demanded. How many men, and women, too, were never anything till they lost their fortune! Then the world felt their power. What a fortune, then, to have no fortune to lose! True, poverty brings difficulties, but difficulties develop men. They show the material out of which one is composed. While they dishearten the irresolute, they stimulate the brave. The wind that extinguishes the taper only intensifies the heat of the stronger flame. Gnats are blown with the wind, but kites rise only against it.
All culture is, in a large degree, self-culture. Our teachers are only helps. They can teach us, but they can not learn us. We must do our own learning. Wealth can not buy it, nor luxurious surroundings impart it; it must be made ours by personal application.
I am not contending that all may or should be scholars in the proper sense of that word. There is a difference between culture and scholarship. A man of culture may or may not be a scholar. I plead more especially for the training of the mind, for the development of the nobler faculties of our nature, that we may fulfill the true end of our being.
I do not mean that all should be great, in the popular acceptation of that term. This is neither desirable nor possible. If all were great, then none were great. But God has designed us all for positions of usefulness and happiness; some in one direction, some in another. These positions we should seek and fill to the full extent of our ability. And it is with reference to this ability that I am making the plea for self-culture. It is not simply preparation for a position, but development in it, for which I plead. There is much said in this age about education for a position, and this education is all right; the more thorough the better. But the trouble is, too many seem to think that this is all. Here is the ruinous mistake. There is a world of difference between being educated for a calling, and being educated in it. That may be obtained in schools and colleges; this is a work of subsequent life. That is important; this is indispensable. Without that, this may be a grand success; without this, that is next to worthless. Many men are highly educated in their calling who were never educated for it. This is self-culture in its true sense.
Nor is the culture for which I plead derived simply from books. These we need, but we need them simply as helps. We should make them our servants, not our masters. A "bookworm" is sometimes a very inferior kind of a worm. Some men that the schools call highly educated rely so much on books that they are nothing in themselves. They have no mind of their own. They deal altogether in second-hand goods. We need to lay aside our books, and study men and things—commence with God and nature. We must learn to think. To think much. To think accurately. To do our own thinking, not have it done for us. Without this, we shall make but little of our advantages; with it, we rise superior to advantages.
Neither am I contending that we should all strive for the "learned professions." It is just the reverse. We want to elevate and ennoble the unlearned professions. The American people, at least, should learn that the calling does not make the man. We need to dignify all the honest and legitimate vocations by intellectual and moral culture. We not only need to dignify labor by culture, but, by so doing, we need to dignify the mass of our common humanity. Personal worth consists not in what one does, but in what one is. Better be a good barber than a poor doctor, a good shoemaker than a poor lawyer.
I would not be understood as claiming that men and women in all the vocations in life should be cultured in all directions. In this age of short and intense life this is not practicable. It might have done before the flood, when men lived a thousand years, but it is not adapted to the nineteenth century. Remember I am speaking with reference to the masses. Men can not know everything, neither can they do everything, and do it well. All knowledge may be made useful, and I would urge the obtaining of all possible; but it is a mistake to try to do too much, and do nothing. A few things well understood are of more value than a smattering of much. By all means avoid being "Jack-of-all-trades." Decide what you want to do and do it. I would urge the training of mind and heart and hand as a specialty in that which you select as a life work, embellished and perfected by all the general knowledge that a life of intense application will enable you to possess. Difference in occupation demands a difference in special culture, but not in general. This is culture, not of the schools, simply, but of life.
But the difficulties and the means of self-culture need now to be considered. In doing this, the first essential element to success to which your attention is called, is
No man ever amounted to much who did not rely on God and himself. The young man who whines around, waiting for some one to help him, instead of helping himself, ought to be sent back to the nursery, clothed in enlarged baby-gowns, and fed with a spoon. Men of independence are the men that move the world. The living rarely walk well in the shoes of the dead, and he who waits for them ought to go barefooted all his life. God helps those who help themselves. Self-reliance toughens our sinews and develops our manhood. "It is not in the sheltered garden or the hothouse, but on the rugged Alpine cliffs where the storm bursts most violently, that the toughest plants are reared." The man who does not rely on self, soon ceases to have any self. He becomes a zoological parasite, instead of a man. He is a lobster that waits for the sea to come to him, instead of going to it, though its waves may be dashing at his feet. Should the sea accommodate him in time, well enough; otherwise he dies. These men make the subjunctive heroes of the world. They always "might," "could," "would" or "should" do some great thing; but they never get into the imperative mood to do it. They have never learned self-reliance; and, the result is, they never learned anything worth knowing. They can never appreciate this saying of the immortal Burke: "I was not rocked and swaddled and dandled into a legislator. Nitor in adversum is the motto for a man like me."
Those who are afraid to move without the arms of a rich ancestry around them, will never learn to walk erect. They will never have a firm, elastic step, nor make the world feel the weight of their tread. The man who thus shrinks from difficulties and responsibilities, refuses to be a pupil of the best teacher the world affords. They should learn that repeated failure, if wisely used, is but a means to grand success. As Dr. Mathews truly says: "Great statesmen in all countries have owed their sagacity, tact and foresight more to their failures than to their successes. The diplomatist becomes master of his art by being baffled, thwarted, defeated, quite as much as by winning his points. Every time he is checkmated he acquires a profounder knowledge of the political game, and makes his next combination with increased skill and increased chances of success." Ease and luxury may make the butterflies of society, but difficulties make men and women. That was a wise saying of Pythagoras, that, "ability and necessity dwell near each other." It is astonishing how difficulties will yield to one who will not yield to them. They tip their plumed caps to his dominant will, and politely bow themselves out of sight. They not only clear the way for self-reliance, but give him the encouragement of their parting salute.
"Every person," says Gibbon, "has two educations—one which he receives from others, and one, more important, which he gives himself." Archimedes said, "Give me a standing-place and I will move the world." But Goethe more happily says, "Make good thy standing-place and move the world." Circumstances may afford a standing-place, but self-reliance alone can give the leverage power. We must learn that character and worth consists in doing, not in possessing. Not resting, not having, not being simply, but growing and becoming, is the true character of self-culture. This thought is most beautifully expressed by Rogers—
Is in the race we run, not in the prize,
Those few, to whom is given what they ne'er earned,
Having by favor or inheritance
The dangerous gifts placed in their hands,
Know not, nor ever can, the generous pride
That glows in him who on himself relies,
Entering the lists of life. He speeds beyond
Them all, and foremost in the race succeeds.
His joy is not that he has got his crown,
But that the power to win the crown is his."
Another important item in the attainment of self-culture is the
ECONOMY OF TIME.
Time is a divine inheritance that no man has a right to squander. The antediluvians might have afforded to be a little profligate in this direction, but the man who would fulfill his high destiny in this age has no time to lose. Lost time is forever lost. There is much useless complaint in the world of a want of time. It is not more time we need, so much as a better use of that we have. I do not mean that we should deprive ourselves of requisite sleep and rest. On the contrary, the regulation of these constitutes a part of the economy of which I speak. Rest is necessary; but all rest is not idleness. We should learn to rest by changing our employment, not by its abandonment. The man whose mind becomes weary in his study, finds the most invigorating rest in manual labor. The physical and intellectual have a happy reflective influence on each other. The moments wisely taken for intellectual and moral culture by the laboring man are fountains whose refreshing stream, like that from Horeb, follows him through his daily toil. They are a ceaseless pleasure, both in remembrance and anticipation. Those, also whose lives are disconnected with manual labor should have such a variety of work that one kind prepares the way for the enjoyment of another. There are both pleasure and health in a change of diet. To happily manage this variety requires a training of the mind essential to self-culture. We must learn to do the right thing at the right time. The happy influence of one thing upon another depends on their arrangement and the manner of their execution. It may not be well to have too many irons in the fire, but it is certainly best to have enough for some to be heating while others are cooling.
In order to do the right thing at the right time, and do it well, we must learn to think about the right thing at the right time. This is one of the most important features in mental training. We can think well on but one thing at a time. Therefore, the mind that is filled with various kinds of thoughts can prosecute none of them successfully. We must learn to select the guests that we would have sit at our intellectual banquets, summon or exclude them at will, and never permit the intrusion of a promiscuous crowd. When our work is arranged for the day, the week, the month, the year, we should set apart the time to be devoted to each item, both in work and in thought; and then never allow the thoughts of one to encroach upon the time allotted to another. We should so train the mind that we can think about the thing only of which we wish to think, concentrate our whole mind upon it till the time comes to put it away; then dismiss it in a moment, turn to something else, and think no more about it, till its proper time. The mind is soon trained to pass from one subject to another in a moment, with all its powers of concentration. This mastery of the mind, once attained, will enable us to study at all times and places regardless of circumstances. The man who can not study amid the wild shouts of the excited multitude is not his own master. He who can command his time and his talents only when no surging billows beat against his quiet retreat, has necessarily to spend much of life in which he has neither time nor talents which he can call his own. A very important item, then, in the economy of time, is to learn to labor under difficulties, till we rise superior to external surroundings. To keep the reins of the mind well in hand when there is a stampede all around us, is absolutely essential in the great crises of life. This is attained only by training the mind to instantaneous concentration under all circumstances. This, then, I would urge you to persist in until it is accomplished. Without this you will lose much time in acquiring information, and, what is of vastly more importance, you will be unprepared to use what you have at the very time, it may be, when it is most needed.
Another important element in the economy of time we learn from the great Teacher who said, "Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost." If He who had the power to create as well as to preserve, was such an economist of the remnants of loaves and fishes, how much more should we save the fragments of time, which we can not lengthen out a span?
Many people seem to think they can make garments only out of whole cloth. If they have not an abundance of uninterrupted time in which to accomplish a thing, they think they can not accomplish it at all. Such men accomplish but little, not for want of time, but for want of its economy. To avoid this waste, we must learn to weave whole garments out of the mere ravelings of the fabric of time. But some complain that they can not "get up steam" for intellectual labor in these fractions of time. We don't need to "get up steam." The "steam" should be already up. We only need to change the gearing. "There is a momentum in the active man," says Mathews, "which of itself almost carries him to the mark, just as a very light stroke will keep a hoop going, when a smart one was required to set it in motion. While others are yawning and stretching themselves to overcome the vis inertiae, he has his eyes wide open, his faculties keyed up for action, and is thoroughly alive in every fiber. He walks through the world with his hands unmuffled and ready by his side, and so can sometimes do more by a single touch in passing than a vacant man is likely to do by strenuous effort."
Let no one conclude that nothing important can be accomplished by these scattered fragments. It is said that "Hugh Miller found time while pursuing his trade as a stone-mason, not only to read but to write, cultivating his style till he became one of the most facile and brilliant authors of the day." Also, that Elihu Burritt "acquired a mastery of eighteen languages and twenty-two dialects, not by rare genius, which he disclaimed, but by improving the bits and fragments of time which he could steal from his occupation as a blacksmith."
With these examples before us, then, let no one conclude that he can not get time from his daily vocation, whatever it may be, to cultivate his mind, and develop his moral and intellectual faculties. Another essential element in self-culture is
SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE.
"A man," says Emerson, "is like a bit of Labrador spar, which has no lustre as you turn it in your hand until you come to a particular angle; then it shows deep and beautiful colors." There is no adaptation or universal applicability in man; but each has his special talent; and the mastery of successful men consists in adroitly keeping themselves where and when that turn shall need oftenest to be practiced. The successful man in every calling, whether literary, scientific or business, is he who is totus in illo—who can say with Paul, this one thing I do! With the exception of a few great creative minds, the men whose names are historic are identified with some one achievement, upon which all their life force is spent. "Whatever I have tried to do in my life," says Dickens, "I have tried with all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely. Never to put one hand to a thing on which I would not throw my whole self, and never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was, I find now to have been golden rules." The fact is, the range of human knowledge has become so extensive that the man who would know some things well must have the courage to be ignorant of many others. There are many things for which one is wholly incapacitated; for which he has no talent, and, as a rule, time spent in this direction is time lost. Goethe justly says: "We should guard against a talent which we can not hope to practice in perfection. Improve it as we may, we shall always, in the end, when the merit of the master has become apparent to us, painfully lament the loss of time and strength devoted to such botching." Sidney Smith condemns what he calls the "foppery of universality—of knowing all sciences and excelling in all arts." "Now my advice," he says, "on the contrary, is to have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything."
I do not mean that you should try to learn but one thing, or be a man or woman of one idea; far from it. I simply mean that you must be select. Select your calling, and then bend all your energies in that direction. Let those branches of knowledge that bear most directly on your vocation be mastered first, then widen the circle as opportunity affords. Do not scatter your powers over so much territory that they are felt nowhere. It is only when the sun's rays are brought to a focus that they burn. The man who is one thing this year, another next; studies medicine a while, then law, is next a school-teacher, and then an insurance agent, will, in the end, be nothing. Men who are always changing, never learn enough about anything to make it of any value. Men who are eminent in their professions have stuck to them with a singleness of purpose. Men talk much about genius, when, generally, the genius of which they speak is but the result of unremitting application. The genius that blesses this world is simply a talent for hard work. They are men who have the resolution to try, and the courage to persevere. Idle men of the most eminent natural ability are soon distanced in the race by the mediocre who sticks to his purpose and plods. Then, I repeat, if you would succeed in life, in whatever calling you may select, divest yourself of the idea that you are a genius and do not need the application demanded by common mortality; rely not on the caprices of fickle fortune; but rely on God and yourself, economize your time, apply yourself with diligence and with singleness of purpose. With these you will be a blessing to the world, and fulfill the high and holy purposes of God in giving you being.
Self-culture looks not simply to time, but to eternity. No man is truly cultured who is not cultured for eternity. His culture is but one-sided, and that the most inferior side. The well-rounded and perfected culture, though it may be only partial so far as the culture of this world is concerned, is the culture that prepares one to matriculate in the great university over which God presides, and sit forever in delightful appreciation at the feet of the great Teacher. Let this, then, be the ultimatum of all your efforts.
It is for this reason that you should so highly appreciate this institution from which you go out to-day as honored students. While the various branches of the arts and sciences that pertain to this life, have been carefully and accurately taught you, the great Science of eternal life, if I may so term it, has been, I trust, indelibly engraved on your every heart. A college whose faculty is composed exclusively of Christian men and women, and in which the systematic study of the Bible by both ladies and gentlemen is made one of its most prominent features, will ever be most highly appreciated by those who appreciate true culture, and know in what it consists. I think I appreciate a high standard of education, and I want, if possible, to give my children its advantages; but I should infinitely prefer their never going beyond the common school than to be graduated with the first honors from the most renowned colleges or universities of Europe or America, in which the authority of Jesus is not held as supreme, and the Bible honored as our only divine guide. Other things being equal, we should always honor those institutions most that honor God's word most. For this reason, then, as well as for many others, we delight to honor this institution from whose fostering care you this day go forth.
In conclusion, let me entreat you to be what this world now most needs—men and women. The world is now burdened with "gentlemen and ladies;" but it is perishing for the want of men and women. The world needs men and women that are true to themselves, true to each other, and true to God—men and women who know what manliness is, and what womanly virtues are; who delight in the real, and scorn the counterfeit; who have the courage to do right because it is right; who would rather stand alone on the side of truth, than with the world on the side of error; who are governed by high and holy principle, not by selfish policy. We need men and women that will create a healthier public sentiment, rather than to float on that which exists; who will frown out of countenance the fraud, dishonesty and meanness that now lifts high its head in society; who will not live in fine palaces, drive fast horses, and occupy the first pews in the sanctuary, at ten cents on the dollar. The world needs men and women who have hearts and consciences, as well as brains; who realize that they have a soul as well as a body; who live for eternity rather than for time.
God grant that you may all make such men and women. That you may not only be a blessing to the age and generation in which you live; but that your influence for the "true, the beautiful and the good," may be felt like the gentle dews of heaven upon the earth, generations after you are gathered to your fathers! May you be diligent and faithful in the cultivation of your nobler powers of mind and heart till the world shall bless God that you have lived in it; then laying aside the body, in which you have fought the grand fight for righteousness and truth—a fight on which God and angels have looked with interest and delight—as you would lay aside a worn-out garment, and passing through "the gates ajar," enter on a higher plane of culture, where you will not have to rely upon self, and struggle against adversity as here; but where you will have all the facilities of Heaven, and be forever pupils of the great Teacher!
III.—PLUS ULTRA VS. NE PLUS ULTRA.
[An Address Delivered Before Eminence College, June 10, 1881.]
Ladies and Gentlemen of Eminence College:—It has ever been a delight to me to meet with the faculty and students of Eminence College on these festive occasions. It is but natural that the hearts of those who have gone out from these classic halls should turn on these gala days, and in feeling if not in fact, renew the fond associations of the past. They are oases in the desert; well-springs to the thirsty soul in the journey of life. I should, therefore, be untrue to myself, and unjust to you, were I not to confess to a pardonable pride in the privilege of addressing for the second time one of the graduating classes of this renowned institution. The subject on which I shall to-day address you is
"Plus Ultra vs. Ne Plus Ultra."
Spain is the great southwestern peninsula of Europe. It juts out between two seas as does no other country of that continent. Before the discovery of America by Columbus, the Spaniards prided themselves on the supposed fact that their country was the last point of solid land on the earth westward. Beyond them, they thought, there was nothing but a vast expanse of water—a shoreless ocean—a mystery never to be solved. Consequently the early coins of that country, in order to give prominence to this idea, were indented with a picture of the pillars of Hercules, the two great sentries on each side of the straits of Gibraltar. Encircling these pillars on their coins was the inscription, ne plus ultra—nothing beyond. They imagined, therefore, that they constituted the limits of creation; that beyond them there was nothing. Consequently, as in creation the last is the best, they gave to themselves the preëminence. In this proud idea they rested and praised the Lord. In their own estimation, therefore, they constituted the ne plus ultra of God's favored people. Thus they constituted another proud monument of man's folly and ignorance, from which it is well to take warning. In course of time, however, Columbus conceived the idea of another world west of Spain. After long years of discouragement, sufficient to crush the spirit of all but those of noble impulses and high resolves, he was permitted, with a small fleet, utterly insignificant in this age, to sail westward. He thus discovered the new world whose existence, if ever known before, had faded from the memory of man. On his return, when the Spaniards became convinced that a great continent lay to the west of them, they were compelled, humiliating as it was, to change the inscription on their coins, encircling the pillars of Hercules, to plus ultra—more beyond. This the demonstrated truth demanded. Thus the discovery of America took the ne off of their proud motto, thus teaching them a lesson which should be a lesson to the world. Their negation was changed to an affirmation. Their boasted limit of creation was changed to an acknowledgment of the unknown beyond. Thus it has ever been in man's proud history. Thus it will doubtless continue to be till we know as we are known. "Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away; for now we know only in part, but then shall we know even also as we are known."
The first thought with which I would impress your minds to-day, especially the minds of those who go out from this institution with the honors of graduation, is that there is something beyond—the plus ultra of a collegiate education. One of the most fatal mistakes in securing a collegiate education is, that this is all. If one of you entertains the idea to-day that your education is "finished," you will be a failure. We hear much in this age about a "finished education" in college. Alas! there is too much truth in it. The education of many is thus "finished," and their progress in life is also finished. A college course is not the end, but simply the means, of an education. This is simply the foundation, not the structure. On this you are to hereafter build; otherwise the foundation will be worthless. Without the after building the foundation itself will decay. This is alike the teaching of the history of man and the Son of God. On this foundation, therefore, I would urge you to build, not for time only, but for eternity. On it you should erect a noble structure, at once an ornament and a blessing to your race. This can not be done in a day. Patience and perseverance are the price of success. You must learn to "labor and to wait."
How often do we see the scintillations of genius within college walls, of which we see or hear nothing after the day of graduation? On that day the sun of their brilliancy seems to set forever. Why is this? Simply because they think their graduation is the ne plus ultra of their literary life.
It is not what we learn in college, but what we learn after leaving it, that makes us what we are in after life. The value of a collegiate education consists not in the amount of information it imparts, but in a preparation for the accumulation and use of information. Not simply the best minds, but the best students are those who win the prize in the end. Not the best students in college, but the best students after leaving it, are those who make the world feel their power. Many study hard for the honors of graduation, and beyond this seem to have no aspirations. If this is their ne plus ultra, then it is worthless. This institution does not educate you for graduation; it graduates you for education. Without this end in view, its labors would better cease. An institution is honored not by what its students know on the day of commencement, but by what they know and do ere they matriculate in the great university of worlds. It is, therefore, young ladies and gentlemen, to this end and not to this hour, that your teachers have faithfully labored to bring you. Without this in view, you will miss the grand purpose of your education thus far.
Doubtless many of us know men and women who have not grown an inch since the day that they went out from these or other halls of learning. They may have promised much at the beginning. On their success high hopes were built. Loving hands were impatient to wreathe their brows with the garlands of victory. But, alas! those hopes have been blighted and those garlands have withered. We see them in the pulpit, at the bar, and in all the other vocations of life. They are failures, not for want of mind, but for want of application. They have not followed up their victories, and their victories have turned to defeat. They have been resting on the honor of faded laurels, that in their freshness so become you to-day. To gather these was the ne plus ultra of their efforts, and hence the end of their success. Therefore, if any of you to-day look upon your graduation as the consummation of your literary struggles, let me exhort you to change your motto, and, like the Spaniards, on the birth of the new world, discard the idea of a possessed ultimatum, and imprint upon your banner plus ultra—more beyond.
As most of the graduating class are ladies, I feel the necessity of speaking especially of their hopes and prospects. Till recently, the hindrances of woman's education and literary position have been great and discouraging. But, thanks to the religion of Jesus, her disabilities have in Christian lands been removed. Woman was the crowning workmanship of God, and she has received the crowning blessings of Christianity. By the blessing of Christianity, the intellectual and spiritual powers of woman are encouraged. The world is often dazzled by her genius, astonished at her resources, and subdued by her spirit. She has stood in the halls of learning, walked in the groves of science, and gathered laurels on the mountains of fame. She has stimulated the world's genius, soothed its passion, and strewed her pathway through it with the sweetest flowers. Women have ever been the world's brightest angels of mercy—
"Whose company has harmonized mankind,
Soften'd the rude and calmed the boisterous mind."
There are positions in the world for which woman was not made. The finishing touches of creation's wondrous works were too delicate to fit her for the political arena, the command of armies, or the founding of empires. She was made for higher and holier ends than these. She is adapted to a work more noble and more enduring. Her empire is in the heart, and her scepter one of spiritual dominion. Here she is a queen, and reigns without a rival. While there is a limit to her appropriate field of action, there is no limit to her power. Some one has said: "The current of female existence runs more within the embankments of home." This is true, but her influence overflows those banks and inundates the world. Her influence may be compared to the sparkling rivulet that bursts from the mountain peak, then winding its way to the valley below, it flows gently onward for thousands of miles, through rugged hills and fertile plains, bathing the feet of great cities and slaking the thirst of great countries, augmented by its tributaries, till, bearing upon its bosom the commerce of a nation, it pours its flood of waters into the world's great ocean. As our grand Mississippi will readily yield to an infant's touch, and yet bear upon its bosom the proudest vessels of man's invention, so is the tenderness and the power of woman's influence.
I have spoken of woman being the "last of creation." This expression is generally used in a false sense. She was last because God created on an ascending scale. She was, therefore, last in creation and first in redemption. She gave to the world its Saviour, and first proclaimed His birth from the dead. She was His best friend while He was here, and has been most devoted to His cause during His absence. Hence where Christianity goes woman's power is felt. The extent to which woman is honored marks to-day with unerring certainty the extent of a nation's civilization.
Young ladies, you have before you a field of golden opportunities. Only thrust in your sickles and reap. In this age and country there are great potentialities to every young lady of a good mind and a pure heart. Let no one, therefore, be discouraged. Remember that there is something beyond—the plus ultra of a well-begun life.
Having urged the necessity of plus ultra as your motto, as against ne plus ultra, I may drop some profitable hints as to the attainment of success. You know that one may give good advice, though he may not have profited by it himself.
In the first place, everything depends on work. Intense application is the price of success. The world's benefactors are the world's hard workers. "Tickle the earth with a hoe, and it will laugh at you with a harvest." But it closes its fists against those who extend to it an idle hand. Many people contend that the world owes them a living, and grumble that it does not pay the debt. What have they done for the world to bring it into their debt? The world owes every man a living when he earns it by honest toil, and not before. Those who sow with a stingy hand may expect to reap a scanty harvest. You should, therefore, in whatever vocation you may elect, strive to succeed on this principle; otherwise you will not deserve success.
You should not be discouraged because surroundings are not favorable, and hope seems long deferred. Be not impatient of results. Do your whole duty, and leave the consequences with the Lord. Never strive to be great. Few men become great this way, and they never deserve it. True greatness comes as a result of devotion to principle and duty. The highest and noblest success comes through a spirit of self-forgetfulness.
Learn to be indifferent to surroundings. You need not catch the "spirit of the age" unless the "spirit of the age" is worth catching. When you contemplate Marquis de Condorcet, in the dark days of the French Revolution, hiding in a lonely room in the city of Paris, while its streets ran red with noble and innocent blood, quietly writing a book whose subject was, "Man's Certain Progress to Liberty, Virtue, and Happiness," you will understand what I mean.
You must learn to think; to think regardless of surroundings; to think only of the thing of which you wish to think; and on this to concentrate the whole power of your mind. This requires careful training; but this only is education. With this you have full command of all your resources; without this they avail but little. The great motive power of the world is thought. Information without thought is simply a peddler burdened with stale wares on a dead market. It is not what one knows, but what he can produce, that makes the world feel his power. Hence one must be a producer as well as a receiver. The world's thought must be regenerated in his own mind. He should turn the world's dead facts into living thoughts—"Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."
Avoid fickleness of purpose. Decide to do something in harmony with your endowments and the will of God, and do it. Many people of fine attainments and intellectual powers are spending their lives trying to decide for what purpose the Lord made them. Before they determine what they are good for, the world is certain to decide that they are good for nothing. Life is too precious to be spent in hesitation. He who vacillates will do nothing. Concentration is power. The rays of the sun that would hardly warm an infant's hand will, when concentrated by a lens, blister the palms of the hardiest sons of toil.
If we would make life a success, we must live for a purpose. He who lives simply for the sake of living, has no just conception of life. Those who live for the gratification of the flesh should remember that the goat lives for the same purpose. How humiliating the thought, that so many of the cultured, as well as the ignorant; the rich as well as the poor; the "cream of society" as well as its dregs, are thus living on the low plane of animal life! The grand distinction between man and the brute creation is in his spirit nature. Without spiritual culture, every thought, every aspiration, every gratification, is of the earth earthy. How sad, then, to see the gaudy "butterflies of society" spending their lives without a thought above that which alone can lift them forever above the plane of animal life! It is sad thus to think, but sadder still 'tis true. The enjoyment of "society," therefore, must not be your ne plus ultra, else life will be a failure.
In order to the highest success, you should live fast, but not in the world's bad sense of that word. I simply mean that your life should be intense. Mere existence is not life. Life is action. Life is not measured by time, but by experience. It is our duty, therefore, to live all we can in the time allotted us. The patriarchs lived longer than we, but we may live more than they. This is a grand age in which we live. We may now live more in fifty years than Methuselah did before the flood. The time is short. Hence if we would live much we must live fast.
But here I anticipate an objection. You say, "We shall shorten our days by fast living." Not by this kind of fast living. The world will never be troubled for burying ground for those who kill themselves simply by hard work. It is not work, but worry, that wears men out. We have too much friction in our lives. This must be stopped. An hour's passion will tell more on the constitution than a week's work. The largest amount of action, with the smallest amount of friction, is the problem before you; and he is the wisest philosopher who gives to us its best practical solution.
I wish now to invite your attention to mistakes that men have made in supposing that their knowledge was the ne plus ultra of human wisdom. Time was when the alchemists thought they possessed the ne plus ultra of human knowledge, and that wisdom would die with them; yet their knowledge is now to chemistry what astrology is to astronomy. It is a superstition on whose claims no scientist would dare to risk his reputation. Now chemistry is the ne plus ultra of human wisdom, and every man is a fool who does not hold the key to the secret chambers of its hidden treasures! But how long till we shall have a new chemistry that will render the old a bundle of laughable folly? The fact is, by the advancement of human knowledge we demonstrate that our ancestors were a set of fools, and our posterity will doubtless pay us the same compliment! The philosophy of history should teach us to be modest, and to keep as our motto plus ultra versus ne plus ultra.
Modern science has demonstrated that of all unreliable things, ancient science is the most unreliable. We should, therefore, expect to eventually see modern science remanded to the same category. One of the greatest inventors of the age, Mr. Edison, whose inventions have had to do wholly with modern science, tells us that he has been constantly thrown off the track and misled by the frauds of science. He thus expresses his estimate of the authorities in modern science:
"They [the text-books] are mostly misleading. I get mad with myself when I think I have believed what was so learnedly set out in them. There are more frauds in science than anywhere else.... Take a whole pile of them and you will find uncertainty, if not imposition, in half of what they state as scientific truth. They have time and again set down experiments as done by them, curious, out-of-the-way experiments, that they never did, and upon which they have founded so-called scientific truths. I have been thrown off my track often by them, and for months at a time. You see a great name, and you believe it. Try the experiment yourself, and you find the result altogether different.... I tell you I'd rather know nothing about a thing in science, nine times out of ten, than what the books would tell me—for practical purposes, for applied science, the best science, the only science, I'd rather take the thing up and go through with it myself. I'd find out more about it than any one could tell me, and I'd be sure of what I know. That's the thing. Professor this or that will controvert you out of the books, and prove out of the books it can't be so, though you have it right in the hollow of your hand all the time and could break his spectacles with it."
Thus it is that these authorities have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. This is a marvelous age, an age of unsurpassed invention and discovery of truth, but it is not the ne plus ultra of human wisdom—if we are to take any lessons from the past ages.
The wave theory of sound, which has been regarded as a settled scientific fact since the days of Pythagorean, is now vigorously attacked, and the adherents to the orthodox ground will have to rally their forces and reconsider their proofs, if they save the theory from slumbering among the follies of the past.
In the past few years the world has been startled by the bold theory of evolution, as advocated by Darwin, Haeckel, Huxley and others. Many have felt uneasy about the foundations of our faith. But such alarm is all premature. The glaring contradictions of one another of these modern apostles of a "gospel of dirt," and their self-stultification, are enough to convince any thoughtful reader, that if the race has not developed from apes, a few of them bear marks of descent from asses! The credulity of this class of men is simply marvelous. They can believe that a moneron can be developed into a man, but can not believe in a miracle! Their wonderful development of a moneron into a man terminates with the boundary line of time, and thus the ne plus ultra is reached of their "infinite progression!"
In order to a proper appreciation of the present life, we must be deeply impressed with the nature of that which lies beyond. No one can well spend the present life who does not spend it in view of the life to come. Man must properly appreciate himself before he can live in harmonious relations with his being. No man can have that appreciation of himself essential to a true life, who believes that his ancestors were monerons and mud-turtles!
While there are many striking resemblances between animals and man, just such as we should expect to find from the hand of the same Creator, who began farthest from himself and worked to his own divine model, yet there are striking differentiae which demand profound consideration. Animals come into the world with the knowledge of their ancestors. The beaver knows just what its ancestors knew before the flood. It is born into the world with that transmitted knowledge. Its posterity will know no more during the millennium. On the contrary, man is born into the world an intellectual blank. However wise his parents, he inherits not one idea. He knows absolutely nothing except what he learns—learns from teachers and by experience. It would be incomprehensibly strange if man in his development from a mollusk, should accumulate inherited knowledge till he reaches the ne plus ultra of terrestrial life, and then by a sudden break in the chain of nature lose it all, and come into the world a born fool!! This would be "development," "natural selection," and the "survival of the fittest," with a vengeance! Here is a chasm between man and the lower animals, made by the hand of God, that human wisdom can never bridge.
In his intellectual, moral and spiritual development, man starts from zero. God has thus ordained it. He is dependent on progression for all that he is and all that he is to be. God simply gives him a start in this world, with the numberless ages of eternity before him for infinite advancement. The idea, therefore, that "death ends all" nips in the bud this grand conception of man's greatness, and blights forever that which is noblest and truest in his nature. To regard this life as the ne plus ultra of man's development, is to charge nature with a freak of folly, and an abortion in her best works. Men may laud human virtue for human virtue's sake; but if man is but the moth of a day, the fire-fly whose phosphorescent light flashes for a moment and then goes out in eternal night, his virtues are but the tales of the hour that have their value in the telling. If this life is all there is of man, then he is the most unmeaning portion of the creation of God. There is for him no perfection, no satisfying of his inherent wants, and the whole of his existence is a sham and a fraud. As Young has beautifully said:
"How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful, is man!
How passing wonder He who made him such!
Who centered in our make such strange extremes,
From different natures marvelously mixed,
Connection exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguished link in being's endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied, and absorbed!
Though sullied and dishonored, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a God!—I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost. At home, a stranger.
Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!
O, what a miracle to man is man!
Triumphantly distressed! What joy! what dread!
Alternately transported and alarmed!
What can preserve my life? or what destroy?
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there."
It is only when we thus look beyond this life, and contemplate his relation to the Deity, that we realize the true dignity of man.
It is natural that you should desire power—power to bless the race and bring it nearer to God. Do not be discouraged if you do not find this power clothed in the world's pomp and parade. The most God-like power comes not in this way. God works by quiet forces that man may scorn but can not equal. Behold that mountain of ice in the polar sea held by the relentless grip of a winter's frost. All the engineering power of man could not shake it upon its throne. All the locomotives in the world could not move it an inch. But nature unveils her smiling face when the springtime comes, the sun sheds upon it his gentle rays, noiseless as the grave, too mild to hurt an infant's flesh, and soon these mountains of ice relax their grip and glide away into the great deep! This is power. This power you may possess, and should strive to possess, through the gentle forces of a regenerated nature, till the quiet influences you exert for God will pass beyond the bounds of time and be expended on a shoreless eternity.
In conclusion, then, let me urge you to live for eternity, and let the life that now is be with reference to that which is to come. Then will you progress from the low plane of our terrestrial sphere to association with God, and eternity alone will mark the ne plus ultra in intellectual and spiritual development toward the Divine Being.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
I.—CHRIST THE LAMB OF GOD.
"Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world" (John i. 29)
The New Testament presents a many-sided view of Christ. From each point of view he appears in a new relation, and we study him in a different character. We can see but one side of a mountain by approaching it from only one direction. We must view it from every point from which it presents a different aspect, before we have seen it as it is. So we should study Christ in the many characters in which He is introduced upon the sacred page, that we may understand more of the many dear relations He sustains to us. The more we know of Him in His various relations, the more we will love Him and the better we will serve Him.
We therefore purpose a number of articles under the general title of "New Testament Views of Christ." They will appear, we trust, with as much regularity as the press of other matters will permit.
After the temptation, Jesus returned to where John was baptizing, and began the work of gathering about Him His apostles. On different occasions, as Jesus moved among the multitudes during this visit, John pointed Him out as the Lamb of God. And John said, "I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God" (John i. 33, 34). Both before and after this statement, John calls Him the Lamb of God. John knew that He was to make the Messiah manifest to Israel by His baptism, for God had told him so. He did not know Jesus to be the Christ till after His baptism, yet he shrank back from the idea of baptizing him, and pleaded his unworthiness. He was worthy, and specially appointed of God, to make manifest the Messiah, but gave way under a sense of unworthiness at the thought of baptizing his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth! What a flood of light does this pour upon the private life of the Son of Mary! John knew Jesus as a man; and while he doubtless had hopes that He was the long-promised One, he did not know it, and could not base his refusal of baptism on that ground. John was baptizing for the remission of sins, and required those whom he baptized to confess their sins, and his knowledge of the spotless life of Jesus caused him to shrink at the thought of administering to Him such a baptism. Thus impressed with the purity and innocence of Jesus, it is not strange that he should call Him the Lamb of God.
But innocence is not the only prominent feature in contemplating Jesus as a lamb. The idea of sacrifice to which innocence and purity are essential has pre-eminence. The first accepted offering on the earth, of which we have an account, was a lamb. It was offered in faith; hence by divine direction. That Abel saw anything in it beyond an act of simple obedience to God in an arbitrary appointment, we have no reason to believe. He did what God directed, and because it was directed. This is the essential element of obedience in all ages, regardless of the thing required. Nothing else can be the "obedience of faith."
What different conceptions had God and Abel of that sacrifice! Abel saw in it only a "firstling of his flock." God saw in it His own Son—"the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Not only so, but on this account was it directed. The fact that this was not revealed to Abel, shows that God intends us to obey Him in what He directs, without being concerned about the reasons He has for the requirement. He who sees the end from the beginning makes the first in execution conform to that which is to be last. Hence, the first act of worship, and every subsequent act, from the divine point of view, harmonizes with the perfection which in the fullness of times, was given us in Christ Jesus. The lamb of Abel borrowed all its value and significance from the Lamb of God. While we are enabled to see this through the development of the scheme of redemption, he was not; and the fact that his act of simple obedience in ignorance of God's far-seeing purposes is recorded as an example for us, is of unspeakable value to the child of faith.
During the four thousand years in which God was preparing the world for Christ, both in patriarchal and Jewish worship, a lamb without spot or blemish was the most prominent offering for sin. In every case the offering was made as directed, and when made, the worshiper was assured that his sin was forgiven. Christ is our sin-offering—the Lamb of God that takes away our sins—and we must present Him before God as divinely directed. We may build no strange fire on God's altars. We may substitute nothing for Christ as an offering for sin, and no ways of our own for God's way, in His presentation.
In viewing Christ as the Lamb of God—the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world—the prominent feature of His saving relationship to us is His blood. Hence we are redeemed, not with silver and gold and perishable things, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." As a Lamb, Christ is sin-atoning. His power to save is not in the innocence of His life, but the merits of His death. The sacrifice of an innocent life is God's wisdom and power to save the world. Let us remember it was for us He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; that our sins were laid upon Him; that He was bruised for our iniquities; that He bore our sins in His bosom on the tree; that by His stripes we are healed; that in His innocent life and sacrificial death, we behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
II.—CHRIST THE BREAD OF LIFE.
"I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he will live forever; yea, and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world" (John vi. 48-51).
When the Israelites came out of Egypt and started on their wilderness journey to the promised land, they found themselves without sustenance. The land furnished no supplies. In this respect they were cut off from earthly resources. In their emergency they cried unto the Lord, and God gave them bread from heaven. Each day they gathered the necessary supply. The amount for the Sabbath was gathered the day preceding. Beyond this there was no collection for future use. An effort to save it proved a disgusting failure. Forty years did the daily supply of manna fail not, till they reached the land that God had promised.
The bread on which God fed His people from the land of bondage to the land of Canaan was a type of Christ. This is asserted by both Paul and the Saviour. As such it is worthy of careful study.
1. The Israelites were wholly dependent on the daily bread which God gave. This was a want which the world could not supply. They must feed upon the heaven-supplied food or die. So is every one thus dependent on the bread of life. The world can not supply the wants of the child of God. He needs a daily food which the world does not produce. The world is to him a spiritual desert. He can not look to it to meet the wants of his spiritual nature. Being born from above, he has to live from above. When he seeks to gratify the cravings of his carnal nature by turning back to the flesh-pots of Egypt, he languishes and dies.
Be it remembered that this bread of life is Christ. It is not some theory about Him. It is not some system of theology of man's formulation. Men may feed upon systems and theories till their souls are dwarfed and starved. Such feeding makes partisans and cold-blooded sectarians, without imparting divine life to the soul. We must come directly to Christ. Through His holy word we must study Him, assimilate our lives to His, feed upon Him as the bread from heaven, and drink in of His gracious spirit. The world took knowledge of the saints of old, that they had been with Jesus. And so it may now easily decide as to those of such holy companionship.
2. Christ is the bread of life. As such He has to be appropriated. There is no virtue in bread to sustain life until it is appropriated and assimilated to the system. Men may starve within reach of abundance. God supplies the bread of life, but He does not compel men to eat it. They are urged to eat and live, but they may refuse and die. Oh, the millions in our land who are starving for the bread of life, when it is offered them day by day! Unless we eat the body of the Son of God we have no life. Our salvation, therefore, depends upon eating. Yet there is no virtue in the act of eating. The virtue is in the thing eaten. It is not putting on your coat that makes you warm, but the coat after it is on. Faith is a condition of salvation; but there is no power to save in believing. The saving virtue is in the thing believed. So we may substitute nothing for that which God has given. We must eat the bread which God provides, else all our eating will be in vain.
3. It is well understood by all classes that the wants of the physical man need to be daily supplied. To meet these demands, is the chief concern of the great mass of humanity. Observe that young man. He is in the vigor of robust manhood. He has just enjoyed a night's refreshing sleep and a hearty breakfast. His system seems to be overflowing with an excess of vitality. He goes forth to his work boastful of his strength. But how many hours is it till nature cries aloud for the replenishing of his strength? How long can he live on the boastful supply of his physical manhood? A few days finds him as helpless as a babe. So essential is physical food to physical life.
Nor is spiritual food less essential to spiritual life. As new-born babes we need the unadulterated milk of the word, that we may grow thereby. As men and women, we need the strong meat adapted to our maturity. The great mistake is in trying to live the spiritual life without spiritual food. The strong men in Christ are the good feeders. Those who feed upon the bread of heaven will develop in that which is heavenly. No man has religion enough at the start to take him through life, unless he dies early. The foolishness of the five foolish virgins consisted in their not taking an additional supply of oil. So it is now with every one who does not daily replenish his supply of spirituality. He who tries to live without communion with God—in reading, in praying, in meditation and obedience to the divine will—will end in shameful failure.
Christian character is a growth, not a divine impartation. God does not give spiritual strength in an arbitrary way. He provides the means to that end. If we use them, strength results. If we neglect them, we die in feebleness. The means in the figure before us is the bread of life, and the bread of life is Christ. There is an absolute necessity, therefore, for feeding upon Him. From Him all spiritual strength is derived. He is the source of all life. He said to His disciples: "Without me, ye can do nothing." As the branch draws its nourishment and fruit-bearing qualities from the vine, so we draw all spirituality and fruitfulness from Christ. We are fruitful in proportion as we abide in the Vine; and we are strong in proportion to our feeding on the bread of life.
4. God permitted Israel to gather manna for one day only at a time. So in teaching His disciples to pray, the Saviour said: "Give us this day our daily bread." Our bread of life is a never-failing supply. There was no need of laying up manna, for God gave a fresh and abundant supply every morning. This daily supply never ceased till their pilgrimage was over. Of this they had assurance. Hence an attempt to lay up a supply for future use was to distrust the God of their fathers. The true bread of heaven is as unfailing as was the typical bread of the wilderness. God's people will ever have an abundant supply of that bread of which, if a man eats, he shall never hunger. Hence the Saviour says: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
5. The world has been greatly concerned about food for six thousand years. The gratification of the appetite has both blessed and cursed the race. Life has ever depended upon food; hence food has been the chief concern of man. During the history of the world the race has been ignorant of the processes of digestion and assimilation. They have known nothing of the chemistry of this source of life. They have gone on from age to age building up their bodies by taking food, wholly ignorant of the process by which it was done. The value of the thing eaten has never depended on a knowledge of the process by which it was assimilated. We thank God that it is thus with the bread of life. We may never expect to comprehend the "mystery of godliness" in this life. Just how the bread of life enables us to live forever, we are not concerned to know. It is enough for us to know that it is so. Let us, then, appropriate this rich provision of God's grace, and the blessing will be ours.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
III.—CHRIST THE WATER OF LIFE.
"Jesus answered and said unto her, Every one that drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life" (John iv. 13, 14).
"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John vii. 37).
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ" (I. Cor. x. 4).
Twice was a rock smitten by Moses in the wilderness to supply the Israelites with water. The first was at Rephidim, in the wilderness of Sin, during the first year of their Exodus, before they came to Mount Sinai. The second was at Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, in the fortieth year of the Exodus. It is evident that the apostle refers to the first of these, though we can hardly think, with most commentators known to us, that he does so exclusively. The fact that the rock followed them, as a type of Christ, in their wilderness life, demands that it be from the beginning, rather than the end, of their journey. And the fact that many who drank of it fell in the wilderness, requires the same conclusion. But for reasons yet to appear, we think the two are considered as one. The miracle was in all respects the same in the second as in the first. There was the same dependence for life on the second as the first. There was the same necessity that the second rock or stream should follow them as there was of the first; for they were yet a long way from Canaan, with a waterless desert before them. We can, therefore, see no reason why the first should be a type of Christ and not the second.
Was it the stream or the rock which followed the Israelites? Paul says the rock. But commentators seem generally to agree that the "rock" is here put by metonymy for the water of the rock, Barnes says, "It would be absurd to suppose that the rock that was smitten by Moses literally followed them in the wilderness." Just why it is more "absurd" to suppose the rock followed them, than the stream from a stationary fountain at Horeb, we are wholly unable to see. Let us look at the facts and probabilities in the case.
We must keep in view the important fact, as mentioned in the last chapter, that these people were dependent on God. They had seen the mighty hand of God in their delivery, and now they were to be taught dependence on Him, as the only source of life. They had, therefore, to be sustained by miraculous food and miraculous drink. The country supplied neither food nor water. The miraculous supply of water was as great a necessity as that of bread. For two or three millions of people, with their flocks and herds, a large stream, even a small river, would be required. It is also true that their cattle had to have food, as well as themselves. Just how this was furnished, we are not told. Here is a large field for conjecture. It is generally held that the river continued to flow from a stationary source at Horeb, and that it irrigated the country in its following of the people, and thus caused vegetation for the flocks and herds. But in the fortieth year they are again found without water. Why was this? What had become of the river that had followed them from the first year, if it was the river, and not the rock, that followed them? On this point we can not refrain from quoting Macknight and Barnes, as examples of how learned commentators, led by a theory, sometimes drop their readers into a perfect abyss of darkness. Macknight says: "For as Wall observes, from Horeb, which was a high mountain, there may have been a descent to the sea; and the Israelites during the thirty-seven years of their journeying from Mount Sinai may have gone by those tracts of country in which the waters from Horeb could follow them, till in the thirty-ninth year of the Exodus they came to Ezion-gaber (Num. xxxiii. 36), which was a part of the Red Sea a great way down the Arabian side, where it is supposed the waters from Horeb went into that sea." Barnes says: "Mount Horeb was higher than the adjacent country, and the water that thus gushed from the rock, instead of collecting into a pool and becoming stagnant, would flow off in the direction of the sea. The sea to which it would naturally flow would be the Red Sea. The Israelites doubtless, in their journeyings, would be influenced by the natural direction of the water, or would not wander far from it, as it was daily needful for the supply of their wants. At the end of thirty-seven years we find the Israelites at Ezion-gaber, a seaport on the eastern branch of the Red Sea, where the waters probably flowed into the sea (Num. xxxiii. 36). In the fortieth year of their departure from Egypt, they left this place to go into Canaan, by the country of Edom, and were immediately in distress again by the want of water."
These comments involve several objectionable features. (1) The Israelites were guided in their course by the pillar of cloud and fire; not by the stream of water on its course to the sea. (2) Paul says the rock followed them; not that they followed the river. (3) We can not allow that when God sets out to work a miracle, He is defeated by natural causes. The idea that the river ran into the sea, and left the children of Israel without water, just because the situation would naturally lead to that result, is to let go the miracle and have God defeated, because the surroundings are not favorable! The idea that God could cause a river to flow from a flinty rock, and then have to leave it to seek its natural way to the sea, leaving His people destitute when the surface of the country would be in the way of its natural flow, is equaled only by admitting that God created the heavens and the earth, but could not give sight to the blind or call Lazarus out of the grave. We, therefore, repeat the question, If the river followed the people, what became of it when they came into the wilderness of Zin?
On the hypothesis that it was the rock which followed them, just as Paul says it was, there is nothing unreasonable in the supposition that for some cause, not given, God withheld the flow of water to chastise them for their wickedness, as He did in other ways, and make them realize their dependence. As favoring this idea, when they were destitute the second time, and cried unto Moses in their distress, God told him to gather the people together and speak unto the rock. Not only was there a suitable rock present for the second river of water, but it seemed to be a particular rock. Hence designated "the rock." Our conclusion is, therefore, that the two rocks were one; that it followed the Israelites during their entire journey to Canaan, supplying the people with the fresh out-gushings of its crystal stream. That rock was typical of Christ, and the blessings of Christ are never stale or stagnant, as the water from a fountain in Horeb would have been, after winding its sluggish way through the parched desert of Arabia.
"That rock was Christ." That is, it was a type of Him. All those transactions were typical. "Now these things happened unto them by way of types; and they were written for our admonition."
"A dry and thirsty land where no water is," well represents this world to one who has not an ever-present Saviour as the fountain of the water of life. As the Israelites would have perished without the crystal flow from the flinty rock, so perishes the world without Christ. There is no appetite more distressing than thirst. There is nothing more delightful than the cooling draught to the parched throat. Oh, to those who thus "thirst after righteousness," how delightful it is to be "filled"! "As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." Only the thirsty can appreciate drink; so only those who first feel the need of a Saviour can experience the joy of salvation. Not only shall the thirsty soul be satisfied that drinks of the water of life, but it shall "become within him a well of water springing up unto eternal life." This refreshing and ever-present fountain of life flows for all. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." To slake one's thirst at this fountain, is a foretaste of the river of life that flows from beneath the throne in the eternal city of God. Many who drank of the typical water of the wilderness, fell under the displeasure of God, and died short of the promised land. Hence we should be careful to live ever near to the water of life, that our thirsty souls may be continually supplied, and our strength renewed. Only by being constantly refreshed can we be saved from perishing in the wilderness and kept unto the land of God beyond.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
IV.—CHRIST THE SON OF GOD.
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. xvi. 16).
"Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him and he in God" (I. John iv. 15).
"And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I. John v. 5).
In one sense all men are sons of God. In a much dearer sense all Christians are sons and daughters of the Almighty. But the relationship of Christ to the Father is infinitely above this. He is the Son of God. God is His Father by direct production, without the agency of a human father. The same divine power that can create life through the agency of man, can create it without such agency. Hence there is nothing to stumble over in the idea of the miraculous conception, to one who fully accepts the God of the Bible in the character in which He is revealed as a divine creator. To accept God as the creator of heaven and earth, and then stagger at His performance of any miracle is a logical absurdity.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God in the high sense that involved equality with the Father. He said: "I and the Father are one." On account of this relationship, "He thought it not robbery to be equal with God." His enemies understood that this equality was involved in His claim; hence they charged Him with blasphemy in making Himself equal with God.
This was a high claim on the part of the Nazarene. He claimed to be more than a man. When some said that He was John, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or some one of the prophets, they underestimated Him according to His claim. The greatest prophet, or inspired teacher, that had ever appeared among men, even if raised from the dead as the special messenger of God to His people, could not meet the demands involved in the claim of Jesus, that He was the Son of God.
This high claim had to be sustained by two distinct lines of testimony—miracles and a sinless life. The purpose of miracles is to establish the claims of the miracle-worker and to glorify God. The miracles of Jesus establish His divine mission and claim to the Messiahship. No man could do the miracles He did "except God be with him;" and God would not be with one who was advocating false claims. The enemies of Jesus understood this; hence they said: "God heareth not sinners." Miracles are the substratum of the foundation underlying our faith.
While the divine claims of Jesus are attested by His miracles, the evidence is crowned by His sublime character. His life is itself among the most wonderful of miracles. As a child of poverty and a son of toil, He lived thirty years among men. When He afterwards claimed to be the Son of God, He had many bitter enemies. They persecuted Him even unto death, and yet not one of them ever pointed to an act of His private life as inconsistent with, or unworthy of, His divine claim. This simple fact speaks volumes as to the purity of His life. The world has contained but one such. The very life which His claims require is the life revealed on the sacred page.
Infidels have ordinarily contented themselves with mere negations. They seem not to realize the fact that in denying some things they are logically bound to account for others. If we deny the claim of Jesus that He is the Son of God, then we have to account for His miracles, His life, the disposal of His entombed body, and the establishment and development of His kingdom. These are facts. As such they have to be accounted for. On the hypothesis that Jesus is the Christ, all difficulty vanishes. On any other, it is more than the world has yet been able to meet. Skeptics laud the character of Jesus as a model of purity, such as the world has never elsewhere found, and yet deny the claim on which was based His mission to men and on which He built His church. How the establishment of a religion upon a known falsehood can harmonize with a life of faultless purity, they do not pretend to tell us, for it is a palpable absurdity. How His disciples could testify on a point of fact in regard to which they could not be mistaken, and surrender all worldly position and comfort, and life itself, to establish a known falsehood in the hearts of men, in which they—the witnesses—could have no personal interest, they leave in the Egyptian darkness characteristic of their system. How can he account for American history and American institutions who denies the existence of Washington, or claims that he was a disreputable impostor? How, then, shall he account for the history and institutions of civilization who denies to Jesus of Nazareth existence as a man of that age and country, or makes Him a base deceiver and vile impostor?
That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is the fundamental, pivotal fact in the Christian religion. It underlies every other feature of the Christian system. On it turn the value and significance of every other item of the faith. Everything takes position with regard to this, and derives its value from it. With this, all else stands by divine appointment, and bears the seal of heaven. Without it, the whole system is but as the chaff which the wind driveth away.
When the proposition is established that Jesus is the Son of God, every other feature of the Christian system rests upon authority. Nothing else has to be proved as this does. Before establishing this proposition, the word of Jesus settles nothing. After its establishment, it settles everything. When we accept Him as the Christ, we accept all else on His authority. Hence He says, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The making and baptizing of disciples rests upon the authority of Jesus, and that authority is based upon His Messiahship. So of every other item of the Christian system of faith.
The great inconsistency and consequent weakness of the religious world, is in not accepting the simple authority of Jesus as conclusive and wholly sufficient on any matter on which He has expressed the divine mind. As the Son of God and coronated Lord of lords, His authority is supreme, and His word is law. What He says is to be accepted as infallibly true, and the end of all controversy. Whatever He directs is to be done, simply because He directs it. Whatever else we may consider a corroborative reason, the direction of Jesus alone is to determine our action. Only this can be the obedience of faith. And in regard to what He directs, there can be no compromise. The King speaks to be obeyed, not to be argued with. It is His prerogative to command; ours to obey.
Jesus made His authority the controlling principle in His religion. Where this is maintained, the religion of Christ is preserved in its purity. Where it is disregarded, anything follows that the tastes and follies of men may demand. The religion of Christ is pure or corrupt in proportion as His authority is observed or ignored.
The authority of Jesus can not be separated from His appointments. His entire authority is embodied in each of His appointments. Hence he who disregards an appointment of Jesus Christ, disregards His authority. And he who disregards His authority, ignores His Lordship. The man who deliberately refuses to do what Christ directs, ignores the authority of his Lord, and dethrones the Son of the living God. Yet how much of this do we see among men! Not only in the world, but in the church as well. It seems strange that one should make a profession of the religion of Christ, and yet thus ignore His Lordship. The authority of Jesus against a life of indifference in the church, of non-attendance, of want of coöperation in the work of the Lord, against carnality, pleasure-loving, worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, want of spirituality, and such like, is as direct and positive as that against rejecting the gospel of Christ; and yet how many church members, all over our land, are disregarding the authority of Jesus in these matters. Those who make a profession of religion and live in the church without continuing to honor the Lord Jesus by regarding His authority and complying with His will, would better have never known the way of life. The authority of Jesus follows us to the grave, and is never relaxed for a day. His will, not ours, is to rule in our life. Our desires, however strong, are to be subordinated to the mind of Him who gave His life for ours, and said, "all authority in heaven and on earth is given unto me."
It is the height of inconsistency, therefore, to exalt the name of Jesus in words and professions, and speak lightly of, or disregard any one of His appointments. It is not only inconsistent; it is disloyal and wicked. This is the great stumbling-block in our way to the indorsement of Mr. Moody and such men. We care not what else he may be, we can indorse no man who tears in two the commission of Jesus Christ. He who refuses to "speak as the oracles of God speak," in order to promote his work, is not doing the work that God would have him do. We can not honor Christ without honoring His teaching, and we can not honor His teaching by withholding a part of it from those inquiring the way of eternal life. We can honor Jesus as the Son of God only by declaring His whole counsel, and yielding submissively in all things to His divine authority.
This acceptance of Jesus as an infallible teacher, as one whose every word is to be believed simply because He said it, and whose every direction is to be observed simply because He directs it, whose spirit is to be possessed and cultivated to the transforming of the life, till we grow into the divine image and become partakers of the divine nature, is all involved in the "good confession": Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
V.—CHRIST THE SON OF MAN.
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Matt. viii. 20).
"Who do men say that the Son of man is?" (Matt. xvi. 13).
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life" (John iii. 14).
It is a matter of profound gratitude that our Saviour was a man. "The Son of man," as well as "the Son of God," was essential to His great work of bringing salvation to the race. In one sense we are all sons of man, but not as He was. He was not simply the Son of Mary and her ancestors. He was the Son of humanity. He was equally akin to the race. He touches humanity at every angle and on every side. While He was the Son of David according to the flesh, He is the kinsman of the race as a partaker of our common nature. "Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself, in like manner, partook of the same." He ignored all accidental relationships closer than this shared by the race. The members of His own household obtained not a blessing which He did not as freely bestow on others. The fact that He did not manifest greater partiality toward His mother has been a matter of comment. The simple fact is, that the relationship with which we are concerned, and of which the inspired record treats, is to the race; hence it is not concerned about His personal family affections. His brothers and sisters and mothers are those who hear His word and keep it.
The world has ever had too far-away ideas of God. It has contemplated God at a great distance. It puts Him beyond the stars. Indeed, the stars fade away from view in the distance behind us, as we ascend in imagination to the dwelling-place of the Most High. The world can never be suitably impressed with God's presence while it holds Him at a distance. He can never be sensibly near unto us while we keep Him beyond the stars. Nor can we be influenced by the idea of His presence till we learn that "he is not far from each one of us."
God tried to impress His people anciently with the idea of His presence by various visible manifestations. Abraham realized time and again that God was his present companion and friend. When Jacob saw the ladder reaching to heaven, and angels ascending and descending on it, he said, "Surely, the Lord is in this place." And when Moses drew near to see the burning bush, a voice from its flame demanded the removal of the sandals from his feet, for the ground on which he stood was holy ground.
God impressed Israel with the awfulness of His presence as a Lawgiver, whom the nations were to honor, by His voice from Mount Sinai which "shook the earth." The glorious manifestation of God's presence at the tabernacle, in the midst of the camp of Israel, impressed them with the fact that the God of their fathers was with them; that He was in their midst; that He had not forgotten His covenant; and that He would be with them to sustain them in every emergency till the end. With all this, they often forgot God and went astray. What would they have done without it?
In the person of Jesus, God perfected the divine purpose of bringing Himself into a realized nearness to the human family. He clothed Himself in our humanity, and became one with us. We are thus enabled to look upon Him, to contemplate Him, not as a great, self-existing Spirit, incomprehensible and awful, but as a man. Jesus was a man; and "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." He is God manifest in flesh. And as God is thus manifest, would He have us apprehend Him. Just, therefore, as we can appreciate the nearness of Jesus as a loving and sympathizing kinsman, may we appreciate the nearness of His Father and our God.
It is evident that men need a God to whom they can get sensibly near. There is no profit in the worship of a God of abstractions. There is in it no food for the soul. What is there to satisfy the languishing soul in a prayer to the "Great Unknown and Unknowable"? They that come to God must believe that He is. And that "is" is a personal divine being, into whose arms we may cast our helpless selves, and on whose bosom we may pillow our weary head; instead of a great, bewildering, incomprehensible abstraction, "without body, parts, or passions."
We are brought into a sacred nearness with God in the life of Jesus. From His bed in the manger to His rest in a borrowed grave, we have a life of abject poverty. He was the friend and companion of the poor. The world is full of poverty, and ever will be. But the poorest of every age and country find a companion and friend, of like sufferings with themselves, in the person of Jesus. The cares and sorrows of life, resulting from poverty, of which the world knows most as a daily burden, were fully realized by Him; and in it all He is a deeply sympathetic friend.
Jesus was a man of labor. The hands so often extended to bless humanity, and through which the cruel nails were driven, were hardened by daily toil. He never did a day's work with which His employers found fault. Long after He had built mansions in the skies for them that love Him, were the houses of His own workmanship standing in Galilee; but when He laid aside His tools to do the work of His Father, no man ever pointed to an earthly house and said, "This job is not in harmony with His claims to be the Son of God." He knew what it was to be tired and hungry. He doubtless knew the meaning of hard work and low wages. It follows, therefore, that every son of toil, every burdened and weary life, has for a gracious Redeemer and providential Saviour one who was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
Jesus was a man of temptation. He was tempted as no other man was ever tempted. The devil is the author of temptation, and he had a peculiar interest in the temptation of Jesus. Through temptation comes sin. Sin is the yielding of the will under temptation to do wrong. The devil had a special interest in inducing Jesus to sin. He was the representative of the race. Their fortunes were all involved in His. The consummation of His work as a Redeemer required a sinless life. Hence if Jesus could be induced to yield to temptation, the world's hope of salvation was forever gone. It is evident, therefore, that the devil exhausted his resources to accomplish that end. Consequently He was "tempted in all points like as we are," and infinitely beyond what we know of temptation. And He who withstood Satan in every onset has promised to be with us to the end, and suffer us not to be tempted above what we are able, if we only keep Him between us and the enemy of our souls. It is a source of profound gratitude that we have a Saviour who has felt in all its forms the tempting power of sin, who is full of sympathy for us in our temptations, and who has promised to ever be in such our faithful friend. Hence the great apostle to the Gentiles, whose life was full of temptation and trial, gives us a reason why we should "draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace," that "we have not a high priest that can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like we are; yet without sin." This very fact in the character of our Saviour gives us humble boldness to approach the throne of grace that nothing else could give. When we have given way under temptation, and our souls are burdened with a sense of sin, we can come to God through the mediation of Jesus, with a confidence that His sympathy for us has been perfected by the experience of His own earthly life. For Christ was perfected for the special parts of His work by His mission among men. "For it become him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings." "And having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation."
In order to accomplish the great work of redeeming the race, Christ had to be a man. He had to be human, as well as divine. Hence it was just as essential that He be the Son of man as that He be the Son of God. He had to make an offering for sin, and that required a human body. Hence he says, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not. But a body didst thou prepare for me." He had to be human in order to die, and divine in order to conquer death. Hence, while we exalt His divinity, we must none the less appreciate His humanity. We must not cease to contemplate our Lord and Saviour as the Son of man.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
VI.—CHRIST THE GREAT TEACHER.
"We know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these signs that thou does, except God be with him" (John iii. 2).
"And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these words, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes" (Matt. vii. 28, 29).
"Never man spake like this man" (John vii. 46).
On "the great day of the feast"—the feast of the tabernacles—in the second year of His ministry, Jesus was performing many miracles, and there was great commotion among the people as to whether He was the Christ. The chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to take Him. But they returned without Him. Then the chief priests and Pharisees said, "Why did you not bring him?" They simply reply, "Never man so spake." These were, doubtless, resolute men who were accustomed to obeying orders. But in this case they did not obey orders, nor even try to do it. Their excuse for not doing so was peculiar. They gave no ordinary or natural circumstances as hindering the execution of orders. They made no plea to exculpate themselves. They simply said, "No man ever spake like this man." How, then, shall we account for this? There was simply an unearthly majesty in the person, the manner and the words of Jesus, that awed them into inaction. The very fact that such men were so unnerved by the presence and words of Jesus, gives us an idea of His majesty as a teacher, and of His power over men. Thus it was that He could cleanse the temple, overturn the tables of the money-changers, drive out the whole crew who were making merchandise of the house of God, and no one resisted. When did the world produce another man whose presence alone awed bold officers of the law into disregard of duty, and the chastised multitude into non-resistance?
Jesus was the world's great teacher, and yet He was never taught. This fact was recognized by those who knew His history. "The Jews therefore marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Jesus explained it by saying, "My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me." This is the only satisfactory explanation that can be given. That Jesus was a man of unequaled wisdom, surpassing infinitely all the great philosophers of renown, is freely admitted by the best informed of modern skeptics. That the world has been influenced by His teaching infinitely beyond what it has been by that of any other man, is not denied. That the world regards His teaching to-day, after eighteen hundred years from the day of His death as a malefactor and His rest in a borrowed grave, as it has never regarded the teaching of another man, is also an admitted fact. How shall we account for such teaching—teaching of such accumulating power over ages and generations of men—when He Himself was untaught? The world can not answer the question except as Jesus answered it: "My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me."
Christ was the only teacher among men who never made a mistake. After nearly two thousand years, during which His teaching has been subjected to the severest scrutiny, He stands without conviction as to a single error. Its ethics, its morals, its righteousness, its philosophy, its wisdom, its accuracy, have stood the test of the most rigid investigation. How can this be accounted for on the hypothesis that Jesus was only a man? The greatest of all other men, with the advantage of the world's best facilities, and under teachers of renown, have furnished the world with teaching full of mistakes and imperfections. If Jesus were only a man, how came it that He was so infinitely superior to all other men? And if thus superior in wisdom, righteousness and purity, how belie Himself in claiming to be infinitely more than a man? It were impossible. The two things are mutually destructive. Jesus furnishes the only explanation: "My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me."
Jesus is the teacher of the science of salvation. Others before Him taught the things pertaining to salvation, but their teaching was all by the Spirit of God, framed with reference to what His was to be.
Others, after Him, taught the way of life, but they taught it as they received it from Him. When He ascended to the Father He sent the Holy Spirit as His advocate. The Spirit imparted to the apostles what He received from Christ. He took the words of the coronated Christ and gave them to the apostles, and they spake as the Spirit gave them utterance (see John xvi. 7, 15). It follows, therefore, that the teaching of the apostles is as infallible as that of the Christ, for it is simply His.
It was not the purpose of Jesus to teach the wisdom of this world. He was not of this world, and His teaching was not with reference to this world. He came from another world, and the things pertaining to another world were the ultimatum of His teaching. The way of salvation is purely a matter of revelation. Man knows nothing about it except what God has revealed through Christ. The same is true as to that from which we are saved, and that to which we are saved. We know nothing of God, heaven, hell and eternity, except that which is revealed. All that we know of sin and its remedy we learn from the great Teacher. The nature and the consequences of sin we learn from the same source. The revelation of God is at once the source and limit of our knowledge of sin and righteousness, and their consequences. In the whole scheme of redemption Christ is the central figure; and on it He is the great teacher and supreme authority.
Christ, as a teacher of law and morals, legislates for the heart. Men can take cognizance only of deeds. They can not know the heart. Hence they can judge it only by outward manifestations. But Christ knew what was in man. Hence He could legislate for man's thoughts, as well as his deeds. Hence He says: "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Even the law of the Ten Commandments legislated against adultery only as an outward act, but Christ legislates against the thought. In this respect, as in many others, He is unique as a teacher.
Finally, He taught by His own authority. This was the cause of the astonishment at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. "The multitudes were astonished at His teaching; for He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." The scribes taught that which "was said to them of old time," and the traditions of men, but Christ said, "I say unto you." Mark this feature in that discourse. A dozen times does he say, "I say unto you." This was in harmony with that which was predicted of Him as a teacher. "Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; to him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul which shall not hearken to that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." And in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the great teachers of the past, the divine Father said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." All this recognizes one of the fundamental principles in the Christian religion—the supreme authority of Christ. The world seems slow to learn that what He said He said by His own authority, whether personally or through the apostles and prophets; that it needs no other support, and that it is the irrepealable law of the kingdom of God. Because we are not under the law, but under grace, many conclude that we have a religious latitude in which we may legislate for ourselves, forgetting that Paul says we are "under law to Christ."
In our supreme ignorance we need a teacher—an infallible teacher; and that we have in the person of Jesus. In order to become wise unto salvation, we must hear and learn of Him. In believing what He says, and doing what He directs, we have His divine assurance of salvation from sin and a home in heaven.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
VII.—CHRIST THE DELIVERER.
"And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor:
He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears" (Luke iv. 16-21).
This sublime passage is a quotation of Isaiah lxi. 1-3. It contains several words indicating a character in which the Messiah was to appear, strikingly appreciated by the Jews at the time of the prophecy. Especially from the time of the Babylonish captivity did the Jews make prominent the idea of a deliverer in the person of their promised Messiah. "Release to the captives" and "liberty to the bruised"—ill-treated by their captors—was to them a precious proclamation, looked forward to with great anxiety, when deliverance should be proclaimed and Israel should again be the free and favored people of God.
Since this characteristic was so long appreciated as a matter of prophecy, and Jesus announced its fulfillment in Himself, it is a befitting occasion on which to briefly notice the relation of Christ to prophecy. The understanding of this relationship is important at any time, because it furnishes a valuable class of evidence as to the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus. It is especially so at this time, since infidels are making a special effort to destroy the value of prophecy in this respect; and some from whom we should expect better things seem to be assisting in the work.
A great deal of importance was given to Messianic prophecies during the days of the Saviour and the apostolic age of the church. Indeed, this was the main source of evidence to the Jewish mind that Jesus was the Christ. And the use made of it by Christ and the apostles shows that it was abundant.
When Jesus talked with two of the disciples on their way to Emmaus, on the day of the resurrection, He said to them: "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Here Jesus Himself states that Moses and all the prophets prophesied of Him. And when He had returned to Jerusalem, and stood in the midst of the eleven, He said to them: "These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, how that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning me." Thus the books of Moses, and all the prophets, and the psalms, contained teaching concerning the Christ, according to Jesus' own statement; and it was all in the form of type and prophecy. Indeed, types are but forms of prophecy.
Jesus charged the Jews with not believing Moses, and gave that as the reason why they did not believe on Him. He said: "For if ye believe Moses, ye would believe me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings how shall ye believe my words?" Like modern skeptics, they did not believe the writings of Moses concerning the Messiah—did not believe that they referred to the Messiah; hence their value was destroyed, and they did not believe in Jesus. Had they believed these prophecies they would have believed on Christ.
On the day of Pentecost Peter convinced the three thousand by argument from prophecy concerning the Christ. In his sermon in Solomon's porch the argument was likewise based upon prophecy. Paul's manner of preaching (see Acts xvii. 1-3) was to show the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah and then show that these were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore the conclusion was necessitated that He was the Christ. As this was Paul's method, he evidently attached to prophecy the highest possible value. That all the apostles did this is evident from the statement of Peter. Speaking of their being "eye-witnesses of His majesty," and of the infallible signs He gave of His divinity, he says: "And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place."
How are we to determine the Messianic prophecies? We unhesitatingly reply, by the example of Christ and the apostles. Three important points are established by their testimony: (1) They teach that such prophecies are numerous, and made by Moses, David, and all the prophets. (2) They quote or refer to specifically, and thus apply, quite a number. It is evident that these are Messianic, because so applied. (3) Since Christ and the apostles designate a large number as Messianic, we are safe in concluding that others are so that are of like character. They are infallible judges, and they furnish us a criterion by which to judge.
It is not true, as claimed, that in order to a Messianic prophecy, the prophet making it must so understand it at the time. On the contrary, Peter tells us that they searched diligently to ascertain the things and the time of them referred to in their own prophecies concerning the sufferings of the Christ and the glory that was to follow. (See I. Pet. i. 10-12). They, therefore, did not understand the things or the time referred to. Since they did not know these, they did not know that the prophecy referred to the Messiah. The same Peter did not understand some of his own utterances on the day of Pentecost. His language here makes the promise of salvation to Gentiles as well as to Jews. But he did not so understand it till he had a special revelation at Joppa and the house of Cornelius.
Nor is it true, as claimed, that a Messianic prophecy must have been so understood by the people before its fulfillment. Many of the Messianic prophecies were not understood as such in Old Testament times. The Saviour charged this want of understanding upon His disciples, and told them that if they had correctly interpreted Moses and the prophets, in this very respect, they would have known that His death was required by such prophecies, and they would not have received the story of His resurrection as an idle tale. Moreover, He charged the Jews that this failure to understand Messianic prophecies, as such, was the ground of their not believing on Him. (See John v. 45-47).
In regard to types, which is a feature of prophetic teaching, and a strong chapter of evidence as to inspiration, Clark Braden says: "There are but few real types in the Bible; that is, there are but few things that men devised and acted with the intention of symbolizing or typifying anything future. There are exceeding few that were devised or acted with that as their sole object." It would be difficult for one to crowd more flagrant error into the same space than the above contains, if he were to make it a specialty. It contains the following positions, all of which are false: (1) That there are but few types in the Bible. (2) That types are devised by men. (3) That types were "devised and acted" by the same party. (4) That they were "devised and acted" by men with the intention of typifying something future. (5) That this, in order to their value as evidence of inspiration, should have been "their sole object." This will do quite well for five lines. We would suggest that God devised types, not men. While men were the actors, they were not the originators. While men may not have intended to typify anything in the case, God did. While types were intended by God to typify something future, this was not "their sole object." God had in them a purpose for the actors in addition to their typical significance. The purpose they then served detracts not from their value as types. As to the comparative number, we prefer Paul as authority. Speaking of the wilderness life of the Israelites, from their baptism in the cloud and in the sea, he says: "Now these things happened unto them by way of types [tupoi], and they were written for our admonition." This history contains numerous types, Paul being judge. Indeed, the patriarchal and Jewish religions were mainly typical. When Noah built the ark to the saving of his house, it is not probable that he thought of anything typical. Certainly that was not the only purpose, nor the main purpose. But Peter says it was a type, all the same.
The fact that God's people did not understand the full significance of their worship, did not destroy its character or its value. The same is true now. While God's oppressed people worshiped in types and symbols which foreshadowed the perfection to come, they were taught by the spirit of prophecy to look with longing anxiety to the coming of a deliverer. While, in debate, we may not rely on a large number of prophecies as Messianic, because the proof is not conclusive, it does not effect the fact that many of them have that character.
To appreciate Christ as a deliverer one must realize his own bondage—the slave of sin, and sold under its power. There is no appreciation of the Deliverer till there is a longing for deliverance, and no longing for deliverance till there is a hatred of bondage. Hence one must have a just sense of the heinousness of sin before he can appreciate Christ as a Saviour.
In coming to this world to deliver us, Christ had, in a sense, to come within the dominion of Satan, and under the assaults of sin. This is typfied by Moses going into Egypt to deliver his brethren. He had to place himself under the reign of Pharaoh, and in order to deliver his brethren he had to deliver himself. The Son of God took upon Him our humanity. This He had to do to make a sacrifice and be a mediator for us. In doing this He placed Himself under the tempting power of sin, and was tempted in all points as we are. He had to save Himself from this condition before He could save us. This was done through death and the resurrection. With Him the old life ceased at the cross, and the new one began from the grave. He conquered Satan—dragged the captor captive—and was forever delivered from his tempting power. "He died unto sin once," says Paul; and we die to sin just where He did, being put to death by the cross. We are buried with Him, and rise with Him to walk in newness of life. Thus the new life begins with us just where it began with Him—from the grave—the grave of baptism in which we are buried together and rise together. The denominational world want to make the new life begin from the cross. But it did not thus begin with Jesus, and Paul says it does not thus begin with us.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
VIII.—CHRIST THE GREAT PHYSICIAN.
"They that are whole have no need of a physician; but they that are sick. I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke v. 31, 32).
"For this people's heart is waxed gross,
And their ears are dull of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed;
Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And should turn again,
And I should heal them" (Matt. xiii. 15).
"He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted" (Luke iv. 18).
Several times, either directly or indirectly, Christ alludes to Himself as a physician. In this character He is worthy of careful study.
The first thing in order to appreciate a physician, is to realize that one is sick. The Saviour says the well need not a physician. It is equally true that the well care not for a physician. Sin is the disease of which Christ, as a physician, is the healer. The disease is deadly. The smallest amount is fatal. The Great Physician alone can heal it. There is no other remedy. When a man is once affected, however much he may keep it under control, and prevent its increase, there is never a diminution of the disease till the remedy of the Great Physician is applied.
There is much senseless talk about depravity that necessarily implies, though its advocates may not so intend, that sin has comparatively little condemnatory force. The idea so often expressed that one must be "a great sinner in order to need a great Saviour;" that if he is only "partially depraved, he needs to be only partially saved;" that he must be "totally depraved in order to be totally lost;" that he must be "totally depraved in order to be wholly dependent on Christ for salvation," and such like, necessarily puts a light estimate upon sin. The idea is, that if one has but a comparatively small amount of sin, he is not wholly lost and utterly helpless, and wholly dependent on Christ. When the simple fact is, that sin is so heinous in its character and condemnatory in its consequences, that any amount of it, whether much or little, renders one as helpless and hopeless and dependent on Christ as if he were totally depraved by nature and doubly defiled by a life of sin. There is, therefore, no necessity for total depravity, in order that man be in an utterly lost and helpless condition without Christ. A grain of strychnine is just as fatal as an ounce, without an antidote.
In order that we appreciate a physician, and avail ourselves of the benefits of his skill, we must have faith in him. Without faith that his skill is superior to ours, and that he can help us, we will not call upon him. If we have faith in him we will do as he directs. The highest evidence of faith in a physician, and the surest way of being benefited by his skill, is in going precisely by his directions. Some years ago the writer had a long spell of typhoid fever. His physician came to see him one hundred and thirty times. After he became convalescent, his physician said to him one day, "In looking back over your case, I can attribute your recovery to but two things—your unyielding resolution and confidence, and your faith in your physician." What did he mean by faith in my physician? What had that to do with it? He explained. "For," said he, "you followed my directions minutely in everything, and for more than seven weeks the least wabble would have turned the scale against you." This was a fine illustration of faith, but theologically he attached to the word a very different idea.
Such must be our faith in the Great Physician that we apply to Him for the treatment of a sin-sick soul. And having called upon Him, we are to follow His directions. On one occasion He said to the Pharisees, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" So in this case He would say, "Why do you call on me as a physician, and do not as I direct you?" As well apply to an earthly physician and expect to be healed by faith in his skill, without taking his medicine or following his directions in other respects, as to expect the Great Physician to heal you in the same way. This illustrates the absolute folly of expecting to be "justified by faith only" in the Great Physician of souls, before and without doing as He directs. Our faith in a physician is valuable only as it induces us to take his remedies. When it leads to this, it has fulfilled its only office. When it does not lead to this, it is worthless. So of our faith in Christ. The only value of faith is in its leading to the observance of the divine will. The faith that does this saves, because it leads us to where God saves us. God promises salvation in the doing of His will. "Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." Faith leads to the doing of the Father's will. In this it performs its only office, and in this it saves. Faith can have value only as it leads to the appropriation and use of the remedies prescribed.
It is often the case that a physician is stationary, and his patients have to come to him in order to get the benefits of his treatment. In such case, the acts necessary to take us to him are essential to our recovery, though they have no virtue whatever except as means of reaching him. So of coming to Christ. Christ does not come to the sinner, as orthodox prayers at the mourners' bench imply; but He invites the sinner to come to Him. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "And you will not come to me that you may have life." Believing on Christ is one thing, and coming to Him is quite another. One must first believe before he will come. Yet, in addition to believing, the orthodox world, so-called, utterly fails to tell us how to come to Christ. They cry, "Come, come," but tell us not how. Christ plainly teaches that we come to Him in obedience. We are baptized into Him; into His body. We put Him on by baptism. Being baptized into Christ is Paul's explanation of how we become the children of God by faith. "Ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." We come to Christ, then, in baptism. This is the first overt act in the "obedience of faith." Our faith, repentance and baptism bring us to Christ; then He, as the Great Physician, heals our sin-sick soul. There is no healing virtue in these things that bring us to Him; but they are conditions of our healing because they are means of our reaching the Physician.
The remedy for sin is the Physician's own blood. That is the only thing in the universe of God that can heal the disease of sin, and remove the ruinous consequences. "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses from all sin." The blood of animal sacrifices could not take away sin. "For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." Since animal sacrifice could not meet the demands of the law, God prepared a body for His Son in which to make a sacrifice.
"Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not,
But a body thou didst prepare me."
Hence we are redeemed from the curse of sin, not with corruptible things, "but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ." "And without the shedding of blood there was no remission."
It is plain, therefore, that the blood of the Physician is the only remedy. This remedy is freely given when we come to Him.
Jesus said: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life." The Israelites were commanded to look upon the brazen serpent; and they that looked were healed. They had to have faith, in order to look with a view to being healed. Looking was the thing commanded. It was the result of faith. In looking they were healed. But there was no virtue in the looking. Looking, in and of itself, had no power to heal. Still it was essential to the healing. Neither had the thing looked upon any power to heal. There was no virtue in the serpent. The healing power lay back of that. It was in God, who had promised. God did the healing. But while there was no healing virtue in the look nor in the thing looked upon, they were necessary to the healing, because to this end were they commanded. They were, therefore, necessary to bring one to the point in the obedience of faith where God promised to heal. So it is with the Great Healer of souls. They that believe shall in Him find the healing power. Their faith leads them to Him, where the healing power is applied, as the look brought the Israelites to the healing power of God. Our obedience that brings us to Christ is the outgrowth of our faith, just as their look was the outgrowth of theirs. There is no healing virtue in the one nor the other, but they were and are necessary to bring the believer where the healing virtue is.
After all that is said about being saved by faith, and by other things, it is simply true that Christ saves us. He is our Saviour. And He saves us by means of His own blood.
"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."
It is thus that Christ is precious to us as the great Physician of souls. We should give heed to His inviting voice, place ourselves under His continued care, follow His directions, and we shall enjoy a healed and healthful state of the soul.
"The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks, the drooping heart to cheer:
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus."
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
IX.—CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR.
"For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own time" (I. Tim. ii. 5-6).
A mediator is one who comes between alienated parties to effect a reconciliation. He must be the friend, the advocate and equal of both parties. Failing in one of these, he is incapacitated. No one would accept a mediator whom he believed would be wanting in any of these respects in his relations to him. No one is fit to mediate who is not qualified to do justice to both parties. This he can not do unless he knows the rights of both and is the friend of both. He must be unbiased in his judgment and impartial in his friendship. He must be considered the equal of both, in so far, at least, as his knowledge of them and his ability to judge between them is concerned.
A mediator between God and men implies alienation between them. The history of the race shows this to be true. The time was when they were one; when not a feeling or a shadow came between them. The bliss of Eden reached its daily acme when the footfall of God was heard amid its bowers. The hour that He joined their company was that of supreme joy. But man sinned, and then the presence of God was shunned. That which was delightful before is painful now. Such is the principle of congeniality; and such the consequences of sin—to make of heaven a hell. This fact alone should teach us that it lies not within the limits of divine power to make a heaven for sinful men. Separation from God is hell; and with the soul defiled by sin, union is worse than separation.
After the fall of man he could no longer stand in the immediate presence of God, as he was wont to do before. Sin can not approach the divine presence, hence he needed a mediator, one to stand between him and an offended God, through whom he might again be heard and blessed. Mediators of an imperfect and typical character were had in that age of preparation for the coming perfection. But where could a perfect mediator be found to stand between an offended God and rebellious man? Where in all the universe could one be found the friend and equal of both parties? Where could one be found that could stand on equality with God, know what was just and right in regard to Him, and, at the same time know the weaknesses, the wants and the rights of man? Where was one who could poise with one hand the scales of God's justice and gather fallen humanity to his bosom with the other? The boundless dominions of God contained not such a being. Man could not thus act, for the best of men are themselves sinners, and can approach God only through a mediator. The best of men know nothing of God's side of this matter, and they fall below equality with Him, as the earth is below the stars. An angel could not stand between God and men, for he can not descend to equality with fleshly natures, to know their weaknesses and their wants; nor can ascend the heights of divine perfection till he knows the mind and the rights of God. In the Divine Logos, and the Divine Spirit we find, in a sense, equality with God, but no equality with men. How, then, is this great problem, that on which the world's salvation turns, to be solved? The human and the divine must be blended. They must meet and dwell in one. This is accomplished, not by lifting the human up to the divine, but by bringing the divine down to the human. God glories in condescension.
The Word that was in the beginning with God, that was God in His divine attributes, became flesh and dwelt among us. In the person of the babe of Bethlehem we have a being that never before existed—a being both human and divine. He brought from the skies the divinity of His Father, and dwelt among men with the humanity of His mother. Hence the mighty chasm between man and God, between earth and heaven, is bridged over in the God-man, Christ Jesus. His divinity reaches half-way from heaven to earth, and His humanity half-way from earth to heaven, and the two unite in Him.
In the life of Jesus we see His two natures constantly manifested. As He hungers and thirsts and sleeps; as He weeps over the sins of men, and sorrows over their afflictions, we see His humanity. He seems to be only a man. But when He stills the tempest on the Sea of Galilee, or calls Lazarus back to life, we see His divinity. It is interesting to study His life with a view to the manifestation of His two natures in each event—their distinctness and their blending.
We may never know in this life the reasons for the blending of the divine and the human in the person of the mediator. These things are doubtless beyond the ken of an archangel, in all their fullness. Yet from our point of view, obscured by our fleshly weakness, we may see some reasons lying on the surface why this was a necessity. Some of these let us consider.
Man fell through the weakness of the flesh and the power of temptation. Satan works through the flesh to pollute the spirit. In order to be one with us in our temptation, and perfect Himself as an experimental sympathizer, our mediator must be tempted in all points like as we are, that He may know how we feel under temptation. This demanded that He take upon Himself not the nature of angels, but that of the seed of Abraham. He must, therefore, be a man. But this temptation is to be successfully met. It is to be without sin. No man had ever successfully withstood the assaults of Satan. Our mediator was to do this. Hence the necessity of divinity. He must be human to be tempted; He must be divine to resist it. And to make His victory the more complete, He had His flesh put to the sorest test. After a fast of forty days, when His long pent-up hunger rushed upon Him as a lion upon its prey, Satan approached and exhausted his strength to overcome Him. Not only did He give Satan this advantage, such as he had never had nor needed over men, but He even went out of the flesh, into the citadel of which Satan held the keys, and came out a triumphant conqueror. Hence His humanity in order to enter in; His divinity in order to come out.
The scheme of redemption contemplated a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Men must get rid of sin. They had no power of themselves to do this. Sin must be remitted. This demanded a sacrifice for sin. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." The blood shed must be the blood of humanity. It must contain the life under condemnation. Hence the "blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin." It could not reach and cleanse the conscience. It was used as an imperfect type, but the perfection required the blood that courses in human veins; but the victim must be innocent. It must be absolutely free from sin. Only a sinless offering can meet the requirements of the divine government. Hence, in order to offer the blood of the condemned race, our mediator must be human; in order to offer it in innocence, He must be divine.
The completion of the preparation of our mediator for His work as such, required His death and resurrection. It is shocking to the mind of some to speak of Christ having to be educated and perfected for His office of mediator, but this He asserts Himself. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings." "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him, the author of eternal salvation." This officiating for man as mediator and high priest, is the only thing, as we now remember, in which Christ is said to have been specially qualified by His life among men. This is significant. The reasons for it are easily seen in the foregoing. He had to become a man, and these things peculiar to humanity He had to learn.
In offering Himself a sacrifice for sin, our mediator had to die. In order to His work as such, of which His death was only preparatory, He had to live again. His death was voluntary. He said, "I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again." In order to lay down His life, He had to be human; in order to take it up again, He had to be divine.
Having accomplished His preparatory work, Christ returned to the Father to make an atonement, and to sit henceforth as a mediator between God and men. He was equal with God before He left the heavens; He became the equal of man in His sojourn in the world. Hence He is now perfectly qualified for His work. But we find that we can not dispose of this subject in one chapter.
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
X.—CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR.—CONTINUED.
"But now hath he [Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. viii. 6).
Having considered Christ's preparatory work, His earthly mission, we wish now to consider His office and work as mediator between God and men. Christ sought no additional honor because of His message to men and suffering on their account. On the contrary, He prayed: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." But while He sought no additional glory, He found additional work. The office He now fills existed not till He ascended to the Father from an empty grave. He descended into the dominion of death and robbed it of its power. He dragged the captor captive, and gave gifts unto men. Ascending, as a conquering king, His angelic retinue raise the exultant shout: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." "Who is this King of glory?" the guardian hosts shout back. "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." Again, the gates of the eternal city are shaken with the shout: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in."
Christ was coronated King of kings and Lord of lords. He began at once His work of mediation. Through the Holy Spirit, sent as His advocate, He convicts men of sin, and brings them into harmony and union with God. His mediatorship involves a work of reconciliation. This is His fundamental work. The old theology was that Christ labors to reconcile God to men. Indeed, the world is not yet as free from the thought as the truth and the honor of God demand. Whatever may be true of the atonement, one thing is certain, it grew out of the love of God. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Any theory, therefore, that does not harmonize with this is false. God already loves the world. He loves sinners, even, who are not penitent. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. How dishonoring to God, then, to represent Him as unwilling to save agonizing sinners; so that the protracted prayers of the church are necessary, and often unavailing! Paul says that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. The world had transgressed, had gone away from God, and Christ's mission as mediator, is to bring it back in agreement and submission to the divine will.
The importance of the mediatorial office of Christ is very improperly apprehended. The necessity of a mediator between us and God can never be fully realized in this life. This belongs to that association of deep and profound mysteries emanating from the mind of God, that angels intently desire to look into. We are permitted to see only the surface in this life. But we know enough about the general character of His work, to know, that it has a value far above the world's comprehension.
When one stands as our intercessor we are favored in proportion to his standing with the other party. When one seeks a favor at the hands of the chief executive of the nation, if he has no standing of his own, all depends on the standing of his advocate. If the one interceding for him stands high in the president's favor, and has great influence with him, his request is favorably considered on account of his advocate. When we consider the standing of the Son with the Father; that through Him the Father has sought the reconciliation of the world; that He is the "brightness, the Father's glory, and the express image of his person;" we have perfect confidence that His pleadings will prevail. But when the Father "so loved the world as to give his Son to die for it;" when He so loves sinners that His great loving heart goes out in yearnings for their salvation, why should His loving, struggling children need an intercessor with Him at all? This has been one of the questions of the ages. Theories more curious than satisfactory have been promulgated concerning it by the different schools of theology. We shall not presume to answer it, beyond the simple suggestion that this was the special work for which the divine Logos that was in the beginning with God, had to qualify Himself by special education. Hence it is a matter not of difference between the love and goodness of the Father and that of the Son, but of qualification by experience in the trials, temptations and weaknesses of the flesh. The consideration of this fact would have saved the world from much vain speculation.
When Paul argues the importance of a mediator, it is not on the ground that the Son loves us more than the Father, but on the ground that He knows us by experience. "For we have not a high priest that can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace." The fact that our high priest, or intercessor, was "tempted in all points, like as we are," is the reason why we may approach a throne of grace with boldness. This boldness is simply a profound confidence based upon the humanity of our mediator.
When we approach a throne of grace, conscious of sin and imperfection, how little can we trust ourselves. We realize that we come empty-handed before God. With the poet, each can sing:
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling."
We can plead no merit of our own. We have no legal claim on the store-house of God's boundless mercy and love. But we remember that we have a Friend; that this Friend has suffered the same trials and temptations; that He knows by bitter experience just how we feel; that He deeply sympathizes with us, and that He loves us with a devotion and faithfulness beyond human experience or expression. Remembering this, how can we feel otherwise than confident that an already loving Father will hear our petitions in harmony with His will, and bless us as His believing children? The efficacy of prayer, therefore, grows out of the mediatorship of Jesus, and the confidence in prayer grows out of our appreciation of the mediator and of His work. Hence a light appreciation of the mediatorial work of Jesus leads to a prayerless life.
Jesus Himself taught that there is no way of approach to the Father except through Him. "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." No man can approach God in his own name. God does not look upon men in their own personality. He looks upon them only through their mediator; and what He sees to commend, is seen and commended only through, and on account of, their mediator. In other words, God sees the mediator only, not them. Hence the man that does not accept the mediator cuts himself off from God. He rejects the only way of approach to God. He prevents God's considering his case; for God considers us only through the mediator. It is this fact, that God considers the mediator through whom the petition is made, rather than the petitioner, that gives significance to the fact that our prayers are to be in the name of Jesus Christ; and that we ask that our petitions be granted for "Christ's sake." At a throne of grace we present the name of our intercessor. We ask in his name, not our own. We present Him, not ourselves. We hide ourselves behind Him, put Him in our place, and ask what God will do for Him. He authorizes us to thus use His name, and the blessings bestowed are just to the extent that that name prevails with God. Should Vanderbilt grant you the legal right to use his name to the full extent of your desire in presentation of checks, etc.; with his pledge to redeem all paper bearing his signature in your hand, his whole fortune would be pledged to meet the demands of your drafts upon him. Bankrupt financially, as you are spiritually, you present your check for a large amount and it would be rejected. But add to that the name of Vanderbilt, and your check is honored. You draw the money not in your name, but in his. The bank sees not you, but him. Now, just as you would thus present the name of Vanderbilt, with full assurance of your request being granted to the extent of his fortune, you to-day present the name of Jesus at the court of heaven, and a heaven honors that name; its resources are pledged to meet your petition. The name of Jesus, therefore, when thus presented, means to us all that it signifies in the government of God. To the extent that His name is honored are heavenly blessings secured to us.
In the light of these sublime truths, we see the significance of the Saviour's requirement that henceforth all prayer should be offered in His name. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive." What is called the Lord's Prayer, is not in His name, because His mediatorship had not then been established. But now it would be sinful to repeat that prayer, as thousands do, and omit to offer it in the name of Christ. The custom of Masons, and other secret orders, of having a form of religion that ignores Christ, that does not recognize His mediatorship and that is not offered in His name, is supremely wicked. It is a gross perversion of the religion of Jesus. And how Christian men, even preachers of the gospel, can find it in their hearts to acquiesce in such a thing, is to us a profound puzzle. The institution that has no place for my Master has no place for me.
The only way of approach to God is through Christ as our mediator; and the mediatorial office of Christ is in the church, not in the world. Hence, as God can be glorified only through Christ, He can be glorified only through the church. Paul, recognizing this, says: "Unto God be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
XI.—CHRIST OUR HIGH PRIEST.
"Now, if there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it hath the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be reckoned after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are said belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests. And what we say is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life, for it is witnessed of him, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec" (Heb. vii. 11-17).
Each dispensation has had its priesthood. Each has had its priests and its high priests. Each has had its priests, its altars and its sacrifices peculiar to itself. Only priests in any age could worship God; and acceptable worship must ever be in accordance with the law of the priesthood.
During the patriarchal age the father of the family was priest. He offered sacrifice for the family. The grandfather, great grandfather, etc., was high priest over his posterity for all the generations descending from him while he lived. Adam was high priest of the whole race during his life. Then the high priesthood descended to each of his sons for the posterity of each. So Noah was high priest of all the post-diluvian world during his life. Then it descended to each of his sons. Each son was high priest of his branch of the family, in all its generations, during his life. In that age, therefore, as in this, there was a universal priesthood. The priesthood of the Christian dispensation is, in a certain sense, modeled after the patriarchal and in contrast with the Jewish. It is after the order of Melchisedec, and not after that of Aaron. Melchisedec was high priest of that division of the human family to which Abraham belonged, and this distinguished patriarch paid tithes to him. If we do not misinterpret the law of the priesthood of that age, this could have been none other than Shem. Shem was then living, and Noah was dead; and Abraham belonged to Shem's posterity. Hence no one else could be high priest while Shem lived. Many have thought that because it is said he was "without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life," that he could not be a man. But they fail to observe that he was without these things in the Aaronic priesthood. For it is said that he had a genealogy, but that it was not in the priestly family. "And they indeed of the sons of Levi that receive the priest's office have commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though these have come out of the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not counted from them hath taken tithes of Abraham." Shem had neither father nor mother, nor beginning of days, nor end of life, in the sense that the Aaronic priests had them; and this is all that is affirmed of Melchisedec.
When God called His people out of Egyptian bondage, and gave them the law, He gave them a new priesthood. The priests were now all confined to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. Men could no longer build their own altars and offer their own sacrifices. On the contrary, they had all to bring their offering to the priests appointed of the family of Aaron, and have them make the offering. With a change of the priesthood came a change of the law. "For," says Paul, "the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also in the law." The law thus changed was the law of worship through the priesthood. And as it was through this worship that pardon was obtained, the change of priesthood changed the law of pardon. Hence the law of pardon under each priesthood has been different from that under either of the others. After the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood, a descendant of Jacob could no longer build his altar and offer his sacrifice just as he had done before the change. And now a priest under the Christian dispensation can not offer acceptable worship as did either the Jew or the patriarch. The worship that once brought to one the divine blessing would now bring upon him a curse. How strange it is, then, that the denominational world in large measure go back to a different priesthood for their ideas of religion and salvation.
Under the law the kings and the priests were of two distinct tribes. These were of the tribe of Levi; those of the tribe of Judah. Hence it is written: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." Christ was of the tribe of Judah; hence He, like Melchisedec, is both priest and king. He could not be a priest of the Aaronic order, for he was of a different tribe—a tribe of which Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood. Hence all the efforts to make Him a priest of that kind are refuted by that simple fact. Many insist that Christ was inducted into His priestly office at His baptism, and many vain speculations are based thereon. But this can not be. Christ was not a priest while He was on the earth, says Paul in these words: "Now, if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law" (Heb. viii. 4). He could not be a priest on earth, because the Aaronic priesthood was then in force, and He was not of the Aaronic family. Since He could not be a priest while on earth, it is folly to talk of His becoming a priest at His baptism. He could not become a priest till the law of the priesthood was changed, and that was not changed till after His death. The Aaronic priesthood was in full force till His death. He was made high priest, not by the legal ritual, but by the oath of God; and this oath was "after the law," not while it was in force. The law continued till His death, hence it was after His death that He was made high priest by the oath of God. He was a sacrifice when He died, not a priest. He could not be priest and sacrifice at the same time. After His ascension He, as high priest, made atonement with His own blood which He shed as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Hence a number of facts show the utter folly of claiming that He was a priest among men.
It is through Christ as high priest that we worship God. We can worship acceptably in no other way. There are no other means of access to the Father. Only through and by the priesthood can God be worshiped. Hence the worshiper must become a priest, and then worship through Christ as high priest. All pretensions to approach God in worship, without recognizing Christ as our high priest and mediator, is only an exhibition of an infidel farce. It is an insult to God, because a rejection of His Son. Hence those who do not accept Christ as their high priest cut themselves off from access to the Father. Christ Himself says, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me."
Paul makes it a matter of rejoicing that we have a great high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; one that has been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Such a high priest knows how to sympathize with us, and to make for us all just excuses.
The earthly high priest went once a year, on the great day of atonement, into the most holy place, with the blood of others, to make atonement for the sins of Israel; but Christ, as the high priest of the good things to come, has entered the holy place on high, with His own blood, to make atonement for the sins of the whole world. The offerings made by the priests under the law pertained only to the cleansing of the flesh; but the blood offered by our high priest "cleanses the conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
NEW TESTAMENT VIEWS OF CHRIST.
XII.—CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I. Cor. i. 30, 31).
In this language Paul affirms that Christ is our righteousness. This is a momentous thought. It goes to the heart of the scheme of redemption. How is Christ our righteousness? What does Paul mean by the affirmation? The very life of Christianity is involved in the answer. By one's answer we know just where to place him in regard to the vital principles of Christianity.
That one must be righteous in order to be prepared for heaven, must be conceded by those who accept the Bible as authority. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." And this must be a positive, not simply a relative, righteousness. Men may be comparatively righteous, and yet be wholly unprepared for the presence of God. The righteousness required in order to a home in heaven is absolute. All unrighteousness is sin, and one must be perfectly free from sin to be accepted in the Beloved. No sin can enter heaven. One can not stand in the presence of God, accepted through the righteousness of Christ, with the least taint of sin upon his soul. Hence perfect righteousness is required. One must be righteous even as Christ Himself is righteous. Knowing this to be true, and knowing our own imperfections and shortcomings, even in our best estate, it is no wonder that the way is described as narrow. One can not but see at a glance his utter hopelessness if he has to depend on himself. If Christ has made any provision by which this righteousness can be attained then one can not but appreciate what Christ has done for him and his absolute dependence on Him for salvation.
Two distinct kinds of righteousness are clearly defined in the Word of God. They are in striking contrast. One is approved; the other condemned. One is of God; the other of men. One is of faith; the other of law.
God's righteousness is not only a divine, holy principle of justice and mercy, but is also a system or plan of salvation. When Jesus applied to John for baptism, John declined. He was preaching the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." He also required a confession of their sins. They were baptized of him in Jordan, "confessing their sins." While he did not know Jesus to be the Christ, he knew Him as his kinsman, and he knew enough of the purity and sinlessness of His life to think that He should not confess His sins to be baptized for their remission. Besides he doubtless hoped that Jesus would be the favored one on whom he was to see the Holy Spirit descending and abiding upon Him. He, therefore, felt himself unworthy to baptize his cousin Jesus. But Jesus said, "Suffer it now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." No matter what John's personal feelings were, or the sinlessness and purity of Jesus, it became the duty of one as the administrator and the other as the subject to observe this divine appointment. Had their idea been that baptism was to be administered to those free from sin, such an objection could never have been raised. Here the word "righteousness" evidently refers to God's appointments in the divine economy—the plan of salvation.
When Peter went to the house of Cornelius to break the bread of life to the Gentiles, he said: "I now perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him." Here "righteousness" is something to be "worked." It is, therefore, something to be done. In it men are active. It is not, therefore, a quality in God or man, but something that enlists the activities of men. It is a plan by the observance of which men are accepted of God.
Speaking of his own brethren according to the flesh, Paul says: "Brethren, my heart's desire and supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God" (Rom. x. 1-3). Here the righteousness of God is contrasted with that of the unbelieving Jews. They rejected God's, and set up one of their own. They did not submit to God's righteousness. Here it is clearly a religious system, a plan of salvation. They rejected God's plan and tried to establish one of their own. In this they were zealous, but it was a misguided zeal.
In harmony with this idea of righteousness we understand the expression in the first chapter of this epistle: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God by faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith." Here we understand God's righteousness to be God's plan of saving or justifying men by faith; the plan to which the Jews would not submit in the tenth chapter. Hence, in the gospel, God's system of justification by faith is revealed in order to faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. In the gospel God's plan of saving men by faith in Christ is revealed, and this is the only place in which it is revealed. Consequently the truth herein revealed produces faith. This results in the acceptance of God's plan of salvation.
We have "the faith" as a system of salvation through Christ, and faith as a personal state of the mind and heart. So, also, have we righteousness as a plan of salvation which we accept from God, and righteousness as a personal quality—a state of personal freedom from sin. And the one leads to the other, as a revelation of "the faith" produces personal faith.
This leads us to consider how we obtain that perfect righteousness, without which we can not enjoy the blissful presence of God.
Paul's teaching in regard to the personal righteousness of the saints, makes salvation by a mere reformation of life, an impossibility. The importance of this fact can not be over-estimated. Many people seem to think that a reformation in regard to moral conduct, is all that is necessary to prepare to meet God. If they can only break off their sinful practices, and practice morality, they think they have done all that is really essential. In this there are two fatal mistakes. First, no reformation is perfect. The best of men whose lives have been moulded into the divine image, and are most conformed to the divine nature, have their imperfections. The ripest saint upon the earth feels that if his salvation depended on his perfect sinlessness in conduct for the rest of life, the chances of heaven would at once become dark and hopeless. The cheerfulness and bright assurance of the child of God are not because he hopes to live a perfect life, but because his imperfections will be taken away in Christ. And second, the most perfect reformation would avail nothing. Could one so reform his life as to never sin again, and practice virtue in place of the former vice, it would fall far short of securing the end. However free from sin one may live in the future, the sins of the past are upon him. These will forever condemn him, unless they are removed. Our ceasing to sin will not take away the old ones. The fact that a man refuses to contract any more debts, will not pay a dollar of his old ones. So no amount of reformation will make amends for the past. Our past sins must be taken away, else they will condemn us in the day of eternity. We can not remove them ourselves; we can not atone for our own sins. Here we are utterly helpless. To what source, then, shall we go? Christ is the only refuge. He alone can take away our sins; His blood alone can cleanse from sin. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." This is the "fountain opened in the house of David for all manner of sin and uncleanness." "Though your sins be as scarlet, he will make them white as wool." "He will put them as far from us as the east is from the west, and remember them against us no more forever." Thus it is that Christ is our righteousness. We are righteous because He has made us such. He makes us such by taking away our sins. When our sins are pardoned, we are as free from sin as if we had never sinned at all. Hence as regards the guilt of sin, we are perfect. We are made perfect in righteousness because Christ removes all unrighteousness. We are, therefore, absolutely dependent on Him for salvation. We have no righteousness of our own. Our robes of self-righteousness are but filthy tatters in His sight. Those clothed in the righteousness of Christ, that is, the righteousness which Christ gives them, shall have right to the tree of life, and shall enter through the gates into the eternal city. Their right is not one of merit, but one that Christ has given. He is our righteousness, and apart from Him none is possibly attainable.
Since we have to be perfectly righteous in order to be saved, and since this is impossible on our part, when relying on ourselves, but is obtained only by being pardoned through Christ, it follows that all boasting is cut off. No man has occasion to glory except in the cross of Christ. Hence the apostle concludes his argument by saying: "He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord." It also follows that he who would obtain personal righteousness, must submit to the "righteousness of God"—God's plan of salvation. Through the one "righteousness," is the other righteousness obtained.