Elder Walter Cash

July 1925

Observations on incidents connected with the churches during nearly fifty years in the ministry, and sermons covering principal doctrinal, experimental and practical subjects.

Printed by
St. Joseph, Mo.


For a good many years I have had it in mind to issue this book. But my idea of the character of the work changed considerably. I first thought to write a sketch of my life, but I learned to think so little of my life in its connection with the world, that I gave up that idea. If there is any good to come out of my life I would not claim the credit, I would simply say that God has been good. I do know that I have made many mistakes, and I do not want to record them. So I do not feel to write much about myself.
I know that the main thought of my life has been to serve God in whose grace I am hoping. I feel it would be more consistent to dedicate this work to speaking of things connected with the kingdom of God which I have tried to forward, but in a feeble way, for so many years.
It is true my life has been full of labor at other things than preaching the gospel, but none of these things have ever become a real objective to me - all were just incidental. I had a large family of children (and not too large either). I must care for them, and in some way I must make money to do this. But I never neglected my churches to accomplish this. I hardly know how my wife and I got along as well as we did, though I know we worked hard. But I see now it was by God's providence that our children were educated for practical lives, and formed good characters. I offer no apology for the pictures in the book as a man's life is in great part represented in his family.
I never had it take possession of me to try to accumulate money to leave to the children, and I am glad now that I did not have that ambition. This would have taken my mind from my work in serving the churches, and it is a serious question whether it might have done the children more harm than good to have done so. As it is, they are self-reliant and capable, and I am thankful to be able to say that they do not blame me for the course I have taken. They all love and honor the church to which I have given my service, and I am thankful for that.
So I am not writing to show what a success I have been, but to acknowledge God's mercy, and to keep in line with what has been an objective in my life, to be helpful to others. If this book shall help others to be more spiritually minded, and influence any to be more active in the service of God and useful to the church, my purpose shall have been accomplished.
I would like much to mention names of brethren and sisters, but I could not stop with the names of only a few of the many ministers and lay members who have come into my life and been dear to me, so I can see no way but to omit such mention, or make the work too large. But they are by no means forgotten. The loved faces and remembrances of those met in the Far West, the East and the South where I have traveled and preached live in memory dear, and it is sweet to recall them often.
And then there are those who nursed and encouraged me in my boyhood when I first went forward to serve the churches, many of whom have fallen asleep; I would be glad to name these. Those living who are yet true and tender in the love and fellowship in which we have lived, these know that I love them, and they will understand why I must take the course that I have. I am glad to say that nothing has come between me and the churches I first served to destroy the love and fellowship which has existed so many years.
I thought when I first contemplated this work that I would issue it when near the close of my life. But some way of late I have been impressed with a feeling sense of the uncertainty of life, especially for those of my age, and I feel if I am to leave something as a testimony of remembrance for the love and fellowship of Primitive Baptists and friends that has been extended to me in so many states, I had better do it now.
I do not wish it understood that I feel my work is done in the churches and through the Messenger of Peace, for I feel more interest now than I have known in my whole life, and I feel more earnestness in preaching, and expect to keep right on as long as God gives me strength to do so. I pray God's blessing on our ministry. I am in full sympathy with you, brethren. I pray for the churches. May the hearts of the members be warmed up to take more and more interest in the cause of Christ our King. Hold together and love each other. I pray for our cause, for I believe it stands for the truth of God. I give this my testimony for the cause I love.
Yours to serve in Christ our Lord.




Great-grandfather Warren Cash--His and his wife's conversion--Beech Creek church--Visit to Beech Creek church--Gilead church--Family descendants--My father Loyd Cash--My brothers and sisters--First and second marriages--Progenitors Baptists--Cause for low state of churches--Sunday schools--First meetings attended--Ox wagon days--West Union church--These were the preachers.


Becoming seriously concerned--Trying the mourner's bench--Seeking evidence--My trouble is a heart matter--Comparison with the Beasts--The bitterness of condemnation--Seeking the glory of Christ's kingdom--The mind vision of the church--Rejoicing yet wondering--Dreaming of Jerusalem--The stream to be crossed--The interpretation of the dream--The true church of Christ--Thoughts of church membership--Uniting with the church.


Talking meetings--First thought of preaching--a severe test of loyalty--Objection to being licensed--Members should conduct services--Two dreams--The first dream--The other dream--My wife joins the church--Refused to pay quarterage--Leaving a denomination--Ordination should not be sought--Ordained in May 1880.


The arm of West Union--Practical Suggestions for Primitive Baptists--A serious decision--Preachers who were unfair--Exhortation to young preachers--Withholding truth for favor--Selfish influences--The Lord opens the way for duty--A difficult trip--Satan argues against the trip--Joyful end of the journey--Failures of preachers.


Called to pastorate of Liberty Church--Preaching experimental and practical--Younger members added--Harmonizing old and young--Old members to be considerate of the young--Young and old should stand close together--Thoughtless neglect--Visiting the fatherless and widows--The wells of salvation--Isaac opens old wells of Abraham--The character of our singing--Follow the tracks--The examples which influence us--The map of tracks--The Savior's footsteps.


Excuses for absence--Complaining of my lot--A wonderful message--Humbled and reconciled--An error in an exclusion--The wrong righted--A period of discouragement--Thinking too much of self--Get a preacher to help--Lack of faith and patience--Building a church house--Trouble in West Union Church--Striving to hide mention of money--Mt. Salem Church divided--Extreme and heretical statements--Extreme statements charged to the denomination--Visit the Hazel Creek Association--I hoped not to be recognized--Preach under difficulties--Elder Blakely endorses me--I am taught not to fear man.


When are sinners saved--Agitation at the Mt. Zion Association--Finding a true brother--The Means party--Elder Burnham's sermon--A critical time--Elder Branstetter's sermon--The Means party dropped--An extremist on predestination--A hard question to answer--Experience with a place hunter--Fair speech and deceitful manners--Lessons learned.

Work on the paper--Death of Elder Goodson, Jr.--Locating at Marceline--Feeling about the paper--Has paid little for my labor--Among strange brethren--The eternal children doctrine--By grace ye are saved--My sermon--Belief of truth necessary for baptism--Eternal vital union doctrine--Trouble in St. Joseph Church--Sardis-Bethlehem church--Changing the site--A serious crisis--Witness of the Holy Ghost.


A deacon who filled his office--The Sunday collection--Between two robber gangs--Marceline--Elected mayor--The saloon question--Strong drink a curse--Refuse to baptize a sick man--Baptism not a saving ordinance--Salvation by grace a precious hope--A beautiful death--Death of Sister Margaret--My mother's death--Elders Carnell and Weaver--Heretical doctrine--Trying to defend their positions--Finally rejected in Illinois.


The Progressive movement--Elder Todd's idea for prosperity--I reject his propositions--The Gospel Light--Ambitious for popularity--Elder J. V. Kirkland's book--The St. Louis meeting--Elder Kirkland's proposition to me--Reply to Elder Kirkland--The Kirkland paper--Checking the movement--Salem stands on the old line--Question of divorce and remarriage--Rule where denomination is not a unit--Position of Yellow Creek Association--The other side--Objections to this principle--I feel like leaving home--Teaching, farming and preaching--Entangled with the affairs of life--My wife helps--Scriptural teaching--Two Extremes--My course in preaching--Misrepresented--Much improvement--Help acknowledged--Attending funerals--Sunday schools.


Leaving the farm--In business in Marceline--Move to St. Joseph--Vida's death--A lesson on prayer--Licensing preachers--An example of licensing--The true test of a gift--Good intentions miscarry--Instances which carried out--Do it now--Do what is needed to be done--Bearing testimony--An impressive exhortation--An old minister's regret--Rejecting the non-resurrection doctrine--Reading the Bible--Persistence and concentration--A talk with a deacon--To depend much upon the pastor--How much to give the pastor--An unscriptural practice--Deciding amount for pastor--How to make estimate.


Our trip west--The wonders of creation--The San Gabriel Mission--Fruit and beauty type of the church--Catalina Island--God's wisdom and power--Voyaging on the ocean--The golden gate--The weakness of humanity--The Panama-Pacific exposition--The passing show--Tired of the fair--The beautiful Cowlitz River--The transcendent beauty--The waters of life--Growing spiritual fruit--The barren land irrigated--where is the best country.

Our Children
The Churches I Have Served
Trouble in Cuivre-Siloam Association



I was born September 2, 1856, in Linn County, Missouri, near Bucklin. My father, Loyd Cash, was the son of Abram, whose father was Warren Cash.
My great-grandfather, Warren Cash, was born in Virginia, April 4, 1760. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, serving seven years. In November 1783, he was married to Susannah Basket, daughter of William Basket, who was a preacher in Fluvana County, Virginia. In 1784 he moved to Kentucky, and settled in Woodford County. Here he and his wife were led to know the Lord. Elder John Taylor in his History of Ten Churches gives an account of their becoming interested and uniting with the church. He writes as follows: "Notwithstanding the exertions of the people in the woods to get something to sustain on, there seemed to be some heart-melting move among the people. The first I recollect was at a meeting in my little cabin. Though the night was wet and dark, and scarcely a trace to get to my house, the little cabin was pretty well filled with people, and what was best of all, I have no doubt the Lord was there. A Mrs. Cash, the wife of Warren Cash, was much affected and soon after was hopefully converted. Others were also touched to the heart who soon afterwards obtained relief in the Lord. Warren Cash, though other ways respectable, was a bold sinner, having spent several years in the old revolutionary war. Seeing his wife much affected struck him with great consciousness of his own guilt. They were both soon baptized. Perhaps Cash could not at this time read. I have heard that his wife taught him to read." John Taylor says of my great-grandmother, "she was one of the most pious minded and best taught females in the religion of the heart I was ever acquainted with."
The church of which my great-grandfather and great-grandmother were members was called Clear Creek, and was constituted in April 1785. My great-grandfather was twenty-five years old when he united with the church, and was said to be the first to be baptized in the state. A few years later they moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, to a new settlement, and here went into the constitution of Beech Creek Church which was gathered by Elder Lewis Craig and Samuel Ayre. The church was constituted September 5, 1796, with five members, who were Jonathan Tinsley, Warren and Susannah Cash, John Basket and Nancy Shepherd. The church was constituted in my great-grandfather's house in which the meetings were held at first. In 1798 he was liberated to preach, and was ordained in March 1799, by William Hickman and John Penny, and in the same year took the pastoral care of the church.
I visited this church in 1902, Elder P. W. Sawin being at this time pastor of the church. I had the pleasure of looking over the old minute book which was kept during the time he was pastor - 1796 to 1824. I found it recorded that the question came up in the church, "What is the duty of the deacon?" This encouraged me much, as I had issued a book on the deaconship, and I was glad to know that my great-grandfather, a hundred years before, was interested in the same practical subject. I found also entered upon the church book a memoranda of different articles that members might turn in on their subscriptions to assist the pastor, stating the price at which they were to be valued, as there was little money to be had.
In 1802 my great-grandparents took letters from Beech Creek Church and placed them in Simpson Creek Church; but in 1806 they removed to Hardin County and Bethel and Gilead churches were raised up. The Bethel church divided March 17, 1824, and the Gilead church split on the mission question in 1840, my great-grandfather standing out against the mission party until his death, which occurred September 15, 1850. Both parties continued to use the house until his death and then the Mission Baptists took control and still hold it. I preached in the house in 1902, and had no doubt I was preaching the same gospel that my great-grandfather had preached. His grave is near the house as is also that of one of his sons, Elder Jeremiah Cash, who was a Primitive Baptist preacher, most of his labors being in Indiana and Illinois. When on a visit to his father's old church, he sickened and died and was buried there.
Elder Warren Cash's family were Claiborne, William, Jeremiah, John, Abram (my grandfather), Thompson, Elizabeth, Nancy and Patsy. I am not sure of this last name. My grandfather's children were James, Endamile, Loyd (my father), Marion, Mary, Newton and Lee. My children were Eunice, Bernard, Vida, Lois Agnes, Mary Elizabeth, Lorraine, Erle Hines, Mildred Allen, Loyd Bentley, and Walter Allison.
My father, Loyd Cash, was born February 27, 1826, near Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and came to Missouri in 1844. All the other members of the family came on before he did, he remaining to settle up the business affairs. They settled near Keytesville, in Chariton County. Father was in the Mexican War, and after returning home took land that was given him by the government in Linn County, on which he was living when I was born, and which did not pass out of his hands until death, which occurred in March 1894.
He was first married to Mrs. Cowell, who lived but a short time. He was married to my mother, October 1, 1854. Her maiden name was Mary J. Burk, her parents being Thomas T. Burk and Barsheba Burk. My grandfather Burk was born August 25, 1807, and died April 12, 1872. Grandmother Burk was born March 13, 1811, and died November 22, 1888. They both united with the Primitive Baptist Church in November 1847. Mother was first married to Joseph Brown, who lived but a short time after their marriage. She was born March 18, 1835.
There were born to my parents ten children. Their names were Walter, Ambrose, Crittenden, Mary, Margaret, Ella S., Thomas, Lee, Thornton and Cyrus. Mary and Margaret were twins. Mary died in childhood, and Margaret at eighteen years of age. At the time of this writing myself, Ambrose, Ella, Thomas and Thornton are members of the Primitive Baptist Church, as was also Crittenden, who is now dead.
I was first married to Miss Ellen Prudence Hardin, August 19, 1875, who died February 2, 1876. I was married March 4, 1877, to Miss Emma Bentley, daughter of Mary Harden, whose maiden name was Putman. After the death of her first husband, Charles Bentley, she married William G. Harden. Her father, William Putman, was long known as a leading Primitive Baptist. He was a deacon of West Union church at the time of his death, the same church in which I first took membership. My first wife was a member of the M. E. Church, but united with the Primitive Baptist Church before her death, but did not live to be baptized. My present wife was a member of the M. E. Church, South, when we were married, but united with the Primitive Baptist Church in May 1880, the day after I was ordained to the full work of the ministry.
As has been mentioned, my great-grandfather was a Primitive Baptist minister. My grandfather, Abram Cash, was a member of Silver Creek Church of Primitive Baptists in Randolph County, Mo. My father, Loyd Cash, never united with the church, but was a strong believer in the doctrines, and a regular attendant at the meetings, and a supporter of the church. The church at one time voted an expression of fellowship for him, but he said, while he appreciated the expression of the church, he felt his unworthiness to be such that he feared to take membership. Grandfather and Grandmother Burk, my mother's parents, were both members of the Primitive Baptist Church.
This at first gave me trouble after I united with the church, as I feared it was more from family influence that I was a member than from the teaching and work of the Spirit. But after considering the matter, I feel that it is a matter for which to be thankful that my ancestors were so true to their experience, and so well established in the doctrine of grace, and lived so consistent with their profession, that their descendants, which experience a hope, might be led in the right way, instead of being turned adrift with the world.
An explanation for the low state of many of our churches may be found in the fact that many Baptists are so indifferent about their children as not to take them to their meetings. Other denominations, taking advantage of this condition, put forth every effort, and use every influence, to get them into their Sunday Schools and societies, and many times into their churches before they experience the leadings of the Spirit. The modern Sunday school has hurt the Primitive Baptist church more than any other influence. This has not been by the churches establishing Sunday schools, but by the members allowing their children to attend the Sunday schools of other people, and so being led to have an aversion to the doctrine and church of their parents, and if the day of "visitation" came to them they were tied up in Arminian organizations. Primitive Baptists should take a lesson that the past has taught, and keep their children from Arminian Sunday schools while they are under their care, and take them with them to their meetings. It would be better for Primitive Baptists to have Sunday schools of their own than for them to permit their children to attend Sunday schools controlled and conducted by Arminian churches.
Among my first recollections was going to the church meetings, my mother being a member. The first meetings that I can remember were those held at the home of my Grandfather Burk, who lived some eight miles from our home. There were no railroads through the country then, and he lived on a much traveled road and kept a public house, a tavern then called. At the time of the monthly meetings many came from a distance and remained through the meeting, either at his home or in the neighborhood. It was here that I first heard Primitive Baptist preaching, but though I was too young to remember the things preached, I doubt not that it had an influence for good. Preaching the truth in love will always have a good influence on those who hear it. I did not then understand the interest that was taken in the conversations on religious subjects, nor why tears were in evidence as they sat around the great fireplace and exchanged experiences, but I think I now know what those meetings must have meant to those who attended them. We often went the eight miles to meeting in a farm wagon, without spring seats, drawn by oxen. I remember, too, the wide kitchen with its fireplace and the gathering of the young people there when the services were over, and listening with awe to the ghost stories which were common in those days, until we were afraid to look out of the windows. But now when I remember that nearly all those who gathered there have passed into the great beyond it seems a long time back to those days. But the pictures are in my mind as though the incidents belonged to yesterday.
A little later the Civil War (1861-1865) broke out, and West Union Church, the church of my mother's membership, which was organized December 19, 1844, in common with many other churches, could have only occasional meetings. Grandfather Burk sold his farm and moved to Bucklin and opened a general merchandise store. His sons, Jasper and William, who lived near him in the country, sold out and moved away and this broke up the meetings in that neighborhood. How like tenting in the wilderness is the church militant here in time. Conditions change and the church must move. At such times the church ought to be engaged prayerfully, looking for the pillar of cloud, which led Israel in the wilderness, to know where the presence of the Lord is, for no church can prosper in a place where the Lord does not go before. After the war the meetings were held near our home in a school house. I was now old enough to take more notice, and to have some recollection of the preachers. There were Elders William Mitchell and C. M. Colyer who preached more or less regularly, and occasionally Dr. J. E. Goodson, Elder A. Bealmer, and "Squire" Holman, who was an exhorter. Also Elder William Sears, and later on Elder Wilson Thompson who came from Indiana and became pastor of the church. He was an earnest, sincere, serious minded man and his influence was all for good. His sermons were along doctrinal and experimental lines, not indulging in doubtful speculation, but declaring the doctrine of grace in salvation, and describing the effect in the feelings and lives of those spiritually taught.


It was during Elder Thompson's pastorate that I became seriously concerned about my soul's welfare. I had at times thought on this matter, but had been able to dismiss it from my mind, thinking that there was time enough later. But in the year 1872 so serious grew my concern that I could not throw it off. This did not seem to come over me suddenly in its most serious impression, for at the first I thought that I knew how to "get religion." I felt confident that I could "give myself to the Lord," and then he would answer my earnest prayer, and give me an evidence of my acceptance. I believed that a person should have some evidence given him by the Spirit that he was a child of God. But when I came to put my theory into practice I found such a condition of mind and heart that I became alarmed. During my trouble I attended a meeting that was being conducted by the Methodists in the neighborhood. I became willing to receive help if I could be helped from any source. I was not able to bring myself into the condition that I felt I should be in before the Lord would bless me, and so I thought I would try their prayers.
I think that I understand how persons who are really concerned can be drawn into these meetings. They feel so helpless in trying to get relief from their trouble that they turn to anything that promises relief. But I then realized that the trouble was within. It was not alone in my outward acts, but I was in a condition of mind and soul that I could plainly see I was not able to correct. I tried to do as I was advised by those who were trying to help me, but all that they could direct me to do, such as to "believe on Jesus," and "give myself to the Lord," could not help my case. I did in a sense believe on Jesus. I believed that he was the Son of God, and that he was the Savior of sinners, but I had no way of believing that he was my Savior, lacking the evidence that it was true. Nor could I give myself to the Lord, for I felt that I could not get myself into such a state that he would receive me.
Coming to understand my real condition, it seemed the more desperate, and I truly felt to fear that it was hopeless. I could not accept the arguments that were made to me that I had all the evidence that was necessary. I remember some of the arguments that were made to me by my religious friends. One was that the preacher, and those who were advising me, were truthful and reliable, and that their testimony would be received in any court of the land, therefore such as were seeking salvation should accept their testimony, and they were willing to testify that all that was needed was to just believe, and that any unbeliever in the congregation might go away a saved person if he would but believe, which he could do, as there was not a thing preventing but the stubborn will.
This was not at all convincing to me, as I felt that they did not know me and my heart as I knew myself. When they talked with me I held out that the trouble was not with my belief and will, but there was a deeper matter than that. The preacher no doubt felt that I was under the influence of Primitive Baptist teaching, as my mother was a Primitive Baptist. So he admitted to me that there needed to be a change, a cutting off and a grafting in, which might be called being born again; but he said that this was a work in which we had to assist. Said he, "The Lord will not do this work unless we go about the cutting off. And this work of ours is yielding to the Lord, thus cutting off the natural will, and putting ourselves in a receptive condition for the Spirit." I could see the object of his talk, but I could not throw away my experiences of the few weeks in which I had earnestly tried to do all that I had learned to do, or that had been suggested, and yet seemed to be farther away from what I desired to be than ever.
One morning I went to the barn to feed the stock. I looked at the cattle and horses, and they seemed at perfect peace, and were filling the stations they were created to fill. What a contrast between them and myself. I had intelligence and understanding to know between right and wrong, and this I had abused so fearfully. With my intelligence I should have been glorifying my Creator; and with my knowledge of right and wrong I should have been upholding the right, and speaking against the wrong. I felt that the beasts stood better in their lot than I did in mine. I was certainly under the just censure of the Almighty. How ashamed and crushed I felt, seeing all my wasted opportunities and open rebellion. I turned with a sad heart and tear-filled eyes to try again to seek peace with God, and to see if He would not forgive me and bless me with some evidence of acceptance. I climbed into the hayloft, and kneeling down, tried to confess as fully as my poor heart knew, my guilty distance from God. I wanted, O so much, to live a different life, and to glorify Him who was worthy of all adoration and service. I had done all that I knew to do, and confessed all that I knew to confess; and yet I felt the same helpless, sinful condition overshadowing me with a cloud through which no light shone. I arose to my feet and felt as I might have felt had I heard from the great Judge my final doom pronounced in the awful sentence to depart from His presence forever. I was yet without any witness from God that salvation might ever be mine. There was nothing now to live for, the world had lost its charm, I was cut off from hope of heaven, and could never even have a name with the church below.
I got down from the loft and started to finish my work, but with such thoughts as I had never had before. I thought that I could see how God's glory was full without me. In fact it seemed that His justice, and grace, too, would be more exalted if I were left out of His consideration. Indeed, what right had I to ask consideration when I deserved nothing from any point? But as these meditations filled my mind, I grew more calm, and the plainer they were to me, the less I was disturbed. One thing was filling my whole being, I desired that the Lord be glorified and praised, and what mattered it what became of me? I was losing sight and thought of self, and full of wonder and peaceful joy, contemplating as I never did before, and seldom since, the glory, brightness and joy that belonged to the kingdom of God in heaven and on the earth beneath. I stood to view it with my soul rapt in wonder. My mind went to the little church - West Union - where my mother was a member. They were met in a little school house. In my mind I see them yet. The aged preacher, Elder William Mitchell, was among the few, to declare as I plainly saw, the unsearchable riches of the gospel of Christ. I thought, O how favored they are. And there was mother! Her pure, sweet voice sounded clear as a harp, its strings trembling with the earnestness of the theme.

"He dies, the Friend of sinners dies!
Lo, Salem's daughters weep around;
A solemn darkness veils the skies,
A sudden trembling shakes the ground."

"Come saints and drop a tear or two,
For Him who groaned beneath your load;
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of richer blood."

My tears fell like the rain. They were a relief to my sore burdened heart, now freed from its pain. But so convinced had I been that there was no help for my case, and so carried away was I to see in my soul the beauty and joy of the Lord's service, that I exclaimed, "Lord, if I never enter heaven, permit me while I live in the world to be where I can witness thy people gathered together, and where I can hear them sing thy praise."
I did not at once realize the strangeness of my condition. I had given up the hope of heaven, and yet here I was with such a heavenly peace of mind, filled to overflowing with love to God and for his church, and perfect resignation to his will. My tears flowed from a fountain of joy and not sorrow. I had forgotten to make further confession, or to make petitions to the Lord, my soul was only full of joy. During the day I would begin to think of my lot as I had felt it before, and wondered what would become of me. But instead of growing sad, I would presently check myself singing, my heart full of joy, and my eyes with tears of gladness, and then I would ask myself, "Why do I feel this way?" I rode over the prairie after our stock, and how beautiful everything looked! and how good the Lord was! and how sweet to lift my voice in His praise. How glad I am that years of toil, trial and affliction have not swept the gladness of those days from my memory. I have doubted many times what they meant, but sin and sorrow have not removed that spot of sunshine, and it does my soul good when discouraged and heart-sick to go back and stand awhile in its reviving warmth.
I had a dream during my exercises of mind that has always remained with me, whether the Lord instructed me in it or not. In my dream I saw what I thought was the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Its buildings, which bespoke its imposing grandeur, lifted their towering spires in a pure, cloudless brightness that eclipsed the brightness of the sun and the light of day. I could see the highway that led up to it, and the happy travelers going up with their faces lifted toward the city of light. How I longed to join them! But between me and and them rolled a dark stream with no way to cross it. To remain where I stood was to be cut off from the city forever, but no mortal could live to pass through that awful stream. It meant death to enter it. It was worse than death not to cross it. The fear of drowning made my soul draw back. The glorious vision of beauty beyond drew me into the stream. What an awful struggle it was! I fought the waters, continually sinking beneath the surface, more and more convinced that it meant death to go on, and yet ever struggling to go on without a thought of turning back. Each time, when my eyes came above the surface, I saw the city in which I knew must be joys forever more. I could not give it up - I could not reach it! But a truth seemed to take possession of me--those who were journeying up to the beautiful city were those who had passed through a death, for going through the stream was dying; and just as I fully accepted this truth I awoke. Since then I have thought of my struggles as a conscious sinner, trying to obtain a hope, and my mind will turn to the awful fight with death in that stream. How hard it is to die to sin and human help, and yet how impossible to join the Lord's people in their heavenward journey without that death!
Many of my schoolmates, who professed religion during the meeting before referred to, joined churches of their choice, but I had no thought or inclination to go with any of them. My mind was with the Primitive church. I had before been convinced of the reasonableness of its doctrines from Bible teaching, though in my experience I found that in my heart I was an Arminian. But now there remained no doubt in my mind that this was the church of Jesus Christ, and I knew that all my sympathies and fellowship were there. One of my companions, a boy of my own age, united with the Methodists. We talked about the different churches, and he thought that I should see that it would be right to join the Methodists. But I could see reasons why I should not. He argued with me that most of the Bible upheld the Methodist church, "But," said he, "the book of Romans teaches the Old Baptist doctrine." I argued that if the book of Romans teaches it, surely the rest of the Bible does not condemn it.
At that time the meetings of the church were held for convenience at different places, and during the winter, as the members were scattered, sometimes the meeting times were passed without gathering. In May, 1873, the meeting was appointed to be held at the home of my grandfather, Thomas T. Burk, who lived northwest of Bucklin. I could hardly wait for the time to come. I wanted to be at a church meeting, hear the singing and to listen to the sermon. And I thought much, too, about offering myself to the church. I felt what a great privilege it must be to have membership in the church of Christ, and to acknowledge this before the world as being one's only hope. I felt His mercy and grace had been so great toward me in not leaving me in indifference and ignorance that I could not feel that I had done right at all without publicly confessing that my hope for the future was entirely in His mercy.
Elder Wilson Thompson, whose home was near Linneus, Mo., was then pastor of the church. He preached, but I cannot remember his sermon, I was so filled with thoughts about offering myself to the church. I wondered what I could say if called on to give a reason of my hope. The invitation was given and I went forward, but I do not remember what I said, except that I did not say at all what before ran in my mind, but I was received, and at a later meeting was baptized by Brother Thompson. I am glad that I did not remain out of the church and fight with my doubts until in a measure they overcame me, as I have seen in many cases. I feel sure the Lord has intended the church to be a help and strength to his pilgrim children, and when they let their doubts argue them into remaining out of the church they lose this help that the Lord has placed here for them. I want to acknowledge what a help the church has been to me. The thoughts of the church and the love and fellowship of the brethren has been a strength in temptation, a comfort in sorrow, and a great encouragement all along the uneven journey of life.


West Union Church was weak in numbers when I united with it, but active. Two meetings a month were held, one of which, the business meeting, was held in the neighborhood where my father lived, known as the "Cash neighborhood," and Elder Thompson attended this meeting generally. At the time I united with the church, Elder Wilson Thompson was pastor. He died in the fall after I was ordained. He was much loved and respected, being a firm and uncompromising advocate of salvation by grace. He was loving and kind with the brethren and sisters, and faithful and true under all circumstances. The other meeting was held at different places, but often north of Bucklin at the Nagle school house. At this meeting all the members, or most of them, took part, relating experiences or talking of spiritual subjects, reading the scriptures, singing hymns, etc. I have always thought that such meetings are very profitable to a church, as they tend to the development of the gifts that the Lord may have placed in the church, and they are God honoring, enjoyable and strengthening to the members. I first began my public exercises in taking part in these meetings.
While being much impressed with the duty of doing my part with other members, I did not think about ever trying to preach, and was very much alarmed one meeting day, when I had been called on by the old deacon of the church, William Putman, to open the services, and had tried to be excused, saying there were others better qualified than I for that duty, he replied: "We hope that the Lord has given you a gift that will be profitable to the church." How that frightened me! What if that should be true! It would mean so much to me; such a burden, such a responsibility, and I trembled to think of it. But a little more, and a little more was demanded of me by the members at the meetings, and although I could see where it was drifting, I seemed powerless to refuse. It became a constant burden on my mind, but it was with so much weakness and emotion that I spoke, I hoped that nothing more would be required of me than to just assist at the meetings.
I will now speak of a circumstance that later in years caused me to wonder. I was keeping company with Miss Ellen P. Hardin, who afterward became my wife. Miss Hardin was a member of the M. E. church, of which her parents were very devoted members also, and I feel convinced knew the Lord experimentally. Miss Hardin was baptized in infancy and had never known any other faith. But her parents, being zealous in the cause to which they had devoted their lives, knew of the doctrine of the Primitive Baptists, and of course could not approve our church because it contradicted their faith. After my engagement to Miss Hardin she tried to get me to promise that I would never preach for the Primitive Baptists. I felt sure that she loved me, and she had never shown unreasonable prejudice against our people, though she had not heard them much. I had no idea of becoming a preacher at that time, and having some idea of what it entailed, if I had thought it possible, it would seem that I would have been glad to hide behind some refuge as this. But instead of welcoming such an agreement, it aroused such a loyalty in my heart to the church and to my Lord and Master that I think it would have led me to breaking the engagement had she insisted upon it. I argued to her that I did not intend to preach, but this did not satisfy her; and so finally I told her, that although I did not have it in my intentions to preach for the Primitive Baptists, nor to preach at all, but I would not disobey my Lord should he call me to that work. This was the only opposition that she ever manifested toward the church, and after our marriage, which was on August 25, 1875, she welcomed Baptists into our home, and before her death, which occurred February 2, 1876, she asked for a home in the church and was received; but her sickness and death prevented her baptism. Her love was so pure, she was so devoted and true, I feel sure had she lived she would have faithfully helped me to bear the burdens of a Primitive Baptist preacher without complaint. Before her death she said that she would rather have lived the few months that she lived with me than to have lived a long life without me. The memory of her pure, strong love is a precious treasure.
My interest in the cause and in public exercise increased, and I did not feel so averse to it, because many of the members of the church took part in these meetings, opening the meetings with prayer, and speaking. But when the brethren got to talking about giving me license, then I objected. I felt that it was doubtful if I was called to preach, and even if I was, licensing would be no help to me. And if time should show that I was not so called, then it would be but a burden to me, and an embarrassment and injury to the church. They listened to my pleading for awhile. I will here say that I think much harm has been done the cause by acting hastily in giving license, as the action of the church is called in giving liberty to one to speak in the way of preaching. I feel sure the church should try the gifts until convinced that one can speak to the edification of the church. Many of the members may be able to make good talks, and more of them could if pastors encouraged speaking meetings. In these meetings the members get closer together than they ever do otherwise. When the church has two services on the Saturday of the business meeting I think it is a good practice to have the members conduct the afternoon service as much as possible. It keeps the church from falling into that state of helplessness that makes the members feel if there is no preacher present there can be no service. Anciently, "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name." - Mal. iii: 16. Paul wrote to the Colossian church, "Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." - Col. iii. 16.
The talk among the members increased my trouble about the matter. Meanwhile I had two dreams that did not tend to ease my mind, but rather to make me wonder if I would have to submit in the end on the matter. I would not write these dreams were it not for the fact that there have been dreamers before, and that the Lord has had their dreams recorded. It is not contrary to the doctrine of grace for the Lord to teach when the will and mind are not active. Regeneration is a demonstration of the Lord's power to work when the creature is not consulted. In the first dream I sat on the west porch at our old home where I was born. In my waking hours and in my dreams I meditated on what the Lord might want me to do. As I thought in my dream, a hand reached down from the sky over the tall black locust trees in the back yard and handed me a Bible, and as silently as it came the hand was withdrawn. I tried to think it was just a dream, but over and over, day after day, and week after week came the question, "Did it mean anything?" Time has reached out into years and decades, and still the question, "Did it mean anything?" It may not mean anything to others, but sometimes with awful importance it has been interpreted to have a meaning for me. But do not understand me to relate this as a call to preach. If I ever had a call it was not in that dream, but I realize that the Lord may have used it to impress my mind that so sacred a duty was not to be trifled with, and that it came from heaven. The brethren had talked of the license. I could not think it necessary. I dreamed one night that the church was all assembled at the home of my uncle, Jasper Burk, and seats had been arranged in the yard under one of the trees. There was a table, with a Bible lying on it, in the proper place for a speaker to stand in addressing the people who might be seated, and who were not gathering. But where was the preacher? I saw none, and I wondered whom they were expecting. In answer to my mental query they all looked to me and I was told that I was to do the preaching. This was in the fall. In January following (1877) the church voted to recommend me to the churches to speak wherever I might in the providence of God be thrown.
In March following (March 4, 1877) I was married to Miss Emma Bentley. She was a member of the M. E. church South, and had heard but few Primitive Baptists preach, but thought from the fact that her grandfather was a member they could not be such bad people. She became a member of our church three years after we were married. I did not know that she was going to ask for membership when she did, but I knew that she no longer considered the Methodist organization the church of Christ. She had told me some time before that I need not pay her dues to the steward of the class to which she belonged, but I insisted that as long as she was a member, her quarterage should be paid the same as any other just debt. In a talk with the steward one day about their preacher, whom some of their members were berating because he was trading and trying to make money with which to care for his family, I said he ought to sue the members for not supporting him as they were obligated to do. The steward said that he could not do that, as what the members paid in was a gift and not discharging a debt. "Well," I said, "if that is true, I will pay you nothing more for my wife's membership, as I have nothing to give the Methodist church; I want all I have to go to the Primitive Baptists." So I did not pay him then, but would ask him every time I saw him, if my wife owed anything yet. He finally saw that I meant not to pay him until he acknowledged that an assessment was a debt that should be paid. So he said, "Well, yes, I suppose she does," and I paid him. We are truly bound as the Lord may prosper us, and as we may propose in our heart to give to the support of the church, but we do not make assessments, nor do we hire and bargain with our preachers.
My wife finally told the preacher in charge that she wanted to leave the denomination and wanted a letter certifying as to her standing among them, and he promised to give it to her, but neglected to do so, even after her second request. He was present at our meeting in May, 1880, when she came to the church asking membership, and arose and in a well-meant talk recommended her to our people. While a letter would not have meant anything to us as carrying fellowship, I think it is right when persons find themselves in an organization that they cannot feel is the church of Christ, to leave the body in such a way as to command respect, and to show common respect to people with whom they have been associated. And I would feel better toward a member of the Primitive Baptist church in case he wanted to become a member of some other body, for him to inform us of his intention.
A year after I was granted liberty to speak anywhere I might be, we had a number of additions to our church, and among them was a licentiate who desired very much to be ordained. He had made a motion to ordain some licentiates in a church that he came from to us, and we had been informed that he was much disappointed when the church did not include him also after he got the matter started. He commenced to talk of my ordination, but the brethren told me what they thought his purpose was, and so if he brought the matter up, they did not want me to be surprised if they opposed it. They told me that they intended to ask for my ordination, but they did not intend to ordain this brother who wanted to be ordained, and they thought there was no need of haste in calling for my ordination. The brother that I have had reference to left our church and obtained membership in another church where he was ordained, and where he caused the church much trouble, and was finally excluded, and died out of the church. It is a very safe course to keep hands off of a man who is seeking his own ordination to the ministry.
The matter of my ordination was brought up early in the year 1880 and the time was set for the May meeting. There were present in the presbytery Elders J. E. Goodson, Sr., Wilson Thompson and A. Bealmer. At the time of my ordination West Union church was using the Methodist church in the town of Bucklin, having no church house of our own. Here I began preaching when the church called me as pastor. I had attended the schools in this town when a boy, and living close to the town all the people knew me. They attended our meetings and treated me and the church with respect. Considering my own experience, and from many years of observation, I conclude there is often undue haste in ordaining brethren into the ministry. It is better to wait until the church no longer has a question of the prudence of the work. I think that it would be the safest plan not to ordain a man until his services were called for to pastor a church. It is wrong for a church to ordain a man that the church is not willing to use in her pulpit. If there is a wrong committed in an ordination it is the fault of the church and the act should be well considered.


I had been preaching occasionally at a place known as the Walker school house in Chariton county. This was about twenty-five miles from where I lived. There being some persons there who desired membership in the church, West Union church extended and "Arm" there in August, 1880. Here I had the pleasure of baptizing my father's oldest brother who was sixty-one years of age. For many years he had entertained a hope, and was settled in the doctrines of grace. Several years before I began preaching in his vicinity he was much impressed with the obligation of those who were believers having membership in a church. He was much impressed with such passages as Mark viii. 38, "Whomsoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." He said that he felt that a heavy obligation lay upon the heads of families to make profession of their faith if they entertained a hope. There being no Primitive Baptist church near him, he thought to discharge this obligation by taking membership in a Presbyterian church, of which his wife was a member. He made his application, but the minister who was serving there did not believe in immersion for baptism, so they said they would arrange to have another minister come who would immerse him. He meditated on this condition, and came to the conclusion that as they did not believe in immersion for baptism they were only bending to his wish just to get him, and not because they thought it right, and that this would not be baptism, and therefore he refused to submit.
I baptized a good many at this place, and there was a good interest. Finally a church was constituted there in June, 1883, called Sardis. I preached to this church a number of years, principally at my own charges. I was a poor man, with a growing family, and trying to preach each Saturday and Sunday in the month, and the burden of the work could but be felt. I began to study the scriptures to find if anything was said about this inequality of burden between pastor and church. I found that the scriptures taught as plainly that the church should help to bear the burden of the ministry as it did salvation by grace. The result of my investigation was the issuing of my book, Practical Suggestions for Primitive Baptists. In this book, among other practical things I treated on the financial business of the church through its deacons, and providing for the pastor, believing that the Bible clearly taught that "they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel." I thought it my duty to speak plainly to Sardis church, believing then, as I do now, that it is the duty of the pastor to teach practical duties as well as scripture doctrine. I shall never forget an incident that occurred at this church, of which I shall now write. An old brother came to me, and laying a kindly hand on my shoulder, said with evident intention to do me good, "Brother Cash, remember that you are but a young man. I am old and have never seen the things that you advocate practiced in the church, nor did my father before me."
This brought me to a serious point. I could get this old brother's approval by advocating the course he had always practiced, which was to let the minister take care of himself. To stand up for what I felt sure the Bible taught would be to bring down upon myself his charge that I was bringing in "new things." In a brief moment's thought, I decided my course - I would stand by the Bible and let the result be with the Lord. I have always thought of this incident as a critical time in my life, and my conscience still approves my decision as being in harmony with the word of God. But this stand lost me the pastorate of this church, which was, under my surroundings, relieving me of quite a burden. At that time I was trying to make a living farming, and it necessitated my leaving home most of the year on Friday evening and riding into the night Sunday night to reach home. During my absence my feeding and chores, which belong to farm life, had to be attended to by my wife, who had little children to care for. What brought the matter to a climax was, an old preacher, who was a friend of the old brother who undertook to set me right, learning of the situation took sides with the old brother who thought I was wrong, and so he was called to the care of the church. He was well fixed, financially, but had to travel by railroad to attend the church. He came a few times, and when his railroad fare was not paid by the church, he quit. It cost me more to attend this church than it would have cost this old preacher, but he had the opportunity of branding me as teaching new things. He evidently did not mean for the church to take him at his word, however.
I have known a good many ministers to follow this course. I came out and plainly advocated what the scriptures taught. Preachers would take advantage of this to my discredit with those who wanted to stick to the "old way" of letting the preacher foot his own bills, and speak against me, saying that it would be but a few years until I would be with the Missionaries, when really, they were bidding secretly for the help of those who stood up against scriptural practice. And some of them thought that their course was so under cover that I would not discover it, and they would ask me to visit their churches and "preach on duty." I would not say so much about this in this place, but I would, if I could, break down forever that disposition among preachers to try to discredit some other preacher to please members, though in their hearts they know that he is in the right according to the scriptures. Well, to end this lesson, that church could not find another preacher who would carry all his load himself as I had done for so many years, so it went down.
In this connection let me exhort young preachers to study the scriptures and be sure of what they teach, then in love, but firmly preach it. Do not stop with just believing what the scriptures teach, it is your business, if you are true to your calling, to teach others what the scriptures teach on every subject, especially about what God's people should be doing. It is all right to preach doctrine, but the Lord's people can not help God in the work of salvation. What they can do, and should do, is to serve him according to his direction while they are in the world. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." This city is not heaven, but the Lord's spiritual kingdom for His saints on earth.
When I was issuing the book, Practical Suggestions for Primitive Baptists, before referred to, a brother wrote me that the positions I had taken in it, relative to financial business of the church, and the obligations of the church, were all scriptural, but that he would advise me not to circulate the book, as it would result in my rejection by the Primitive Baptists. He said they would follow the course they had been following for many years, regardless of what the scriptures taught, and that to advocate a return to scriptural practice would result in my being set aside as bringing in new things. I wrote him that I was not considering what might befall me on account of the publication of the book, I was only asking, "is it according to the truth?" But in my heart I had more confidence in Primitive Baptists than to think that they could not be brought to study the Bible on this subject, and if they did, I could not believe but that they would follow it.
Some incidents impressed my mind about this time. One illustrates the human disposition to take advantage of the weakness of others to forward selfish ends. A brother came to me and reported what he claimed another brother had said about me. He said, "He is saying that you were never called to preach; that you are not fit to preach; that you are proud, and that your preaching is not at all edifying." I felt that there might be some selfish motive in this, that the brother who was talking to me might be trying to influence me for his own personal interest against the other brother whom he said had been talking against me. I replied, "Well, he might be right. I have, myself, grave doubts of my being called of the Lord to preach. And I have a feeling, too, that I am not fitted for taking the care of a church. And really my mouth is sometimes almost closed by a feeling that what I can say may not be edifying to the children of God. If I feel this way myself, how can I blame others for thinking the same things?" It turned out as I had expected, the two brethren had had a difference between them and one was trying to prejudice me against the other. It impressed me with what I now know for a fact, that preachers ought not to be easily influenced by what is told to them.
Sardis church received a sister for baptism. It was understood that her husband was much opposed to her being baptized. Relatives came to me and told me that it would be very imprudent to baptize the sister, as her husband would leave her. They asked me what I was going to do. I said, "I'm going to baptize her if she wants me to do so." The day set for the baptism came on. The man was at church. I went up to him and spoke to him, taking his hand, and holding it while I addressed him. I said to him, "Your wife is to be baptized today, and I suppose you have no objections." He dropped his head and made no reply. I continued, "You know this is a matter between her and her God." He raised his head and spoke. "Yes," he said, "that is true; it is between her and her God. No, I have no objections." We cannot tell how the Lord may open the way for us to do our duty. All that we can do is to go straight on, trusting in him to make rough places smooth.
While preaching for Sardis church, one Friday, late in the fall of the year, when it had been very muddy, the weather suddenly changed, it got very cold, and the ground froze up hard and sharp. I had so much work to do Friday to get things in shape so that my wife could do the feeding and caring for the stock while I was away (as we had no help) I had not time to get my horse shod. I worked until late and started after dark, intending to go ten miles that night and then to go on Saturday morning. I had gone but little distance until my horse became very lame, traveling over the sharp, frozen ground. I then walked and led the horse, so as to keep on the smoothest places I could find, and at 10 o'clock came to a blacksmith shop. There were no lights anywhere. I went to the blacksmith's house, they were all in bed. I knocked at the door, and when I had awakened him, told him what I wanted. He said, "I never shoe horses at night." I pleaded with him, telling him that I would hold a lamp for him, and that I could not go on unless he shod my horse. He finally consented, and we got the horse shod, and I went on to a brother's house, put my horse in the stable, and went to bed to wait for the morning.
Next morning I started to go on fifteen miles, but my horse was still lame, and I walked the greater part of the way. I had a great struggle of mind from the time I left home, and especially Saturday morning. I asked myself over and over, who had demanded this service at my hands. Saturday the weather was disagreeable, being cloudy and damp, and I argued there would be no one at the meeting when I reached the appointed place, and so I could do no good by going on. I argued to myself that it would be the most reasonable thing to do to turn back and go home, as I was needed there so badly, and I was getting a lame horse farther and farther from home, which did not seem right. I tried to think what I might say when I got to the meeting if there was anyone there to speak to. But all my thoughts were so empty and light, that it seemed the course of a foolish person to go through what I was enduring, and would have to go through before I reached home, to make all this effort to say as nearly nothing as I would have to say. It seemed presumptuous to suppose that my preaching had enough in it to warrant any such trip. I would think, "there is my wife at home with the house to keep, the children to care for, and added to that the feeding and caring for all the stock. And here I am making this trip under such difficulties, when under the circumstances, it is not likely I can do any good, even if my services were worth anything at any time." Thus I meditated step by step for miles and miles of weary road. And I seemed to be the only one on the road. The roads were too bad for anyone to be on them, and here I was on a "fool's errand."
Finally, I got within one mile of the meeting place and came to a brother's house, and there was no one at home. This was encouraging; perhaps they were at the meeting. I put my horse in the stable and trudged on. I came in sight of the place. There were a number of horses hitched around. It was a reviving sight. I came nearer; I stopped and listened. They were singing. How good it sounded to one who had heard nothing for weary miles but the discouraging spirit-depressing arguments of Satan. I hurried on; I was late. I opened the door! I would be glad to see only a few, but--it seemed nearly too good to be true--they were nearly all there. "All the toils of the road seemed nothing," I had got to the end of the way, and the Lord's presence was manifested among us. The Lord was indeed good. Would I doubt him again, and let my rebellious heart be filled with complaining?
I was much worried in these days because my stock of information was so limited, and I had so little time for reading. Though the Bible was such a vast storehouse, the necessity of caring for my family seemed to make it impossible for me to make use of it. The churches had not been taught to think of their responsibility in providing for the preaching of the gospel by loosing hands of the preachers. With these things pressing me, I delivered a sermon on the "Failures of Preachers." I attempted to show that the church was in a large measure to blame, because it let the preacher be cumbered with the things of this life, and the necessary cares which fell on one with a family, and this impoverished his mind and darkened his understanding. (See article on this subject). There was an old minister present who followed me, and he left the impression as strong as he could that I was wrong. He said that he never studied to preach, nor read the Bible, and took for a text the first passage that caught his eye. I told Doctor Goodson what the old brother said, and he replied, "Well, anyone would know that was the way that he did who ever heard him preach."
I have not changed my mind since delivering that sermon. Many times brethren hear a sermon and feel that the preacher is dull and uninteresting without reflecting how the treatment of him might be the reason for the condition of his mind. The ox that treadeth out the corn has been muzzled, which is against the law. Of course there might be many reasons why a preacher did not have the liberty to speak, but the reason assigned above might be one of them.


On the death of Elder Wilson Thompson, whom I have spoken of as a pastor of my home church, West Union, I was called to the care of his home church, Liberty, near Linneus, Missouri. This was in the fall of 1880, after I was ordained in May. I shall not forget my impressions when I went to this church. It was a good church, but had few young members in it. I was almost overcome with the thought that nothing I could say would interest the members, for Elder Thompson had preached for them so long and ably, and I was so young, and knew so little, that I certainly could not be expected to edify them. The members were kind and tender with me, and I really felt sorry for them that they were giving me so much love and fellowship, and I had so little to give in return. It looked to me like the prospects for the church were discouraging. I could not feel that anyone could ever join the church under my preaching, so it would turn out that as the old members died the church would decline, and finally go out of existence.
These feelings resulted in directing my discourses to practical subjects, as I felt they were better established in doctrine perhaps than I was, and the old preachers of my acquaintance had never given much attention to practical subjects--their preaching was mostly along doctrinal lines. But as I began to view the field of practical and experimental thought it was a vast one indeed. As I preached so much on the lines indicated, finally a doubt grew into the minds of some whether indeed I was "sound" in doctrine. This was especially voiced by those who objected to preaching much on the line of the duty. But while I grew to giving more attention to preaching on doctrinal subjects, I held on much as I had begun. I found that I was mistaken in regard to the decline of Liberty church. True, the older members dropped off as they came to the end of their pilgrimage, but younger members were added to the church. This fact rebuked me. I saw clearly that I had been thinking too much about the church being built up by my work. While it is no doubt true that the pastor has an influence on the decline or prosperity of a church, the trust of the church and the pastor should be in the Lord, so much so, that they should fear to displease Him, lest He withdraw His blessing and approval, and lay His chastening hand upon them. With the addition of the younger members there came up an incident to which I will call attention, as I have many times since had the lesson that I learned then, brought fresh to my mind. As already stated, when I came to the care of the church the members were mostly elderly people. As is usual where this is the case they get into a settled way of doing things and are not very favorable to changes of any kind. The younger members that had been received were full of love and zeal for the church. We were to have a visiting preacher during Christmas week. The younger members, not thinking that there would be any objections, after cleaning up the house very nicely, placed some evergreen boughs and a few wreaths around the interior.
When some of the old members saw what was done they were much displeased, and made some remarks that were rather severe, and calculated to wound the feelings of the young members, who were much hurt and discouraged. They felt that they would never attempt to do anything again, and that ever afterward they would sit back, as they had given serious offense by what they had done. They expressed themselves as feeling that perhaps they had done wrong in coming into the church at all. I felt very much worried, fearing that I might not be able to bring about a good feeling again. I tried to show the older members that they had been too severe with the young members, and while they might not have approved what had been done, they should remember that they were once young, and had the animation of the young, and the same lack of maturity in judgment. I also tried to impress them with the necessity of keeping very close to the young members, that they might have a strong influence with them, as these same young members would one day have the responsibility and burden of the church upon them.
I talked with the young members and gave them to understand that they must not forget to always show respect for the old members by asking their advice in what they did, but have them to understand that it was all right for them to have appreciation for the looks of the church, and while they need not be too forward, they should be willing and active to bear a part in whatever was done for the advancement of the church. At the close of the meeting one of the old sisters asked one of the young members for one of the nicest wreaths that she might take it home to hang up in her house, but she did not think to soften the words of criticism made in the beginning. I think all tried to put behind them the unpleasantness that had been occasioned, but still it hung like a veil for a long time. I have detailed this incident, for it emphasizes the importance of members, young and old, being careful to stay close together, and advise with one another. The young must respect the older members, and not act toward them as though they felt that they were "old fogies." Then the old must not expect that young people will acquire the staid ways of the old all at once, and be tender and kind with them, trying to mold them into growing up to be pillars in the church. The young should remember that they shall grow old, and the old should remember that they have been young. How careful all ought to be to preserve warm fellowship in the church.
Illustrating how easy it is for members to neglect each other, I will relate an incident we had in one of our churches. It is of a widow of a deceased preacher, who during his ministry, which, as was the case generally, then, took his time and labor from his family. I had been away from the meetings a few months, and on going back learned that the widowed sister had been sick, but was then up. I went to see her Saturday after church meeting. When I entered the house she dropped to a chair, put her hands over her face and burst into tears, not being able to greet me on account of her emotion. When she became a little composed she said between sobs, "You are the first Baptist I have seen for nine weeks." She was helped by my visit, but told me how she had longed, oh, so much, to see some of the members, but none came, except her own family.
The next day at the meeting I began to inquire of the members why the neglect. One said he was not very well when he first heard of her being sick, and when he could get out his work pressed him. Another said he was gathering corn, and when he got through with his corn he had his wood to get up, and by the time he got this done he heard she was up, and so did not go. Others had similar excuses for their neglect, but really all might have said in reply to my question, "just neglect."
Think of the suffering in the mind of this dear sister, who had made so many sacrifices for love of the church that her husband might give his services to it. She had spent lonely hours; on her had devolved the care of their children; many comforts had been denied for the sake of the cause. Now when the preacher's voice was stilled in death, the church neglected his widow on whom had fallen much of the weight of his ministry! It all came from thoughtless neglect. They were good brethren and sisters, but they put off from day to day what they meant to do some time, but the deed which would have given such strength and comfort to the lonely widow was never done. Abraham got up "early" to yield obedience to the command of the Lord, though the giving up of his son was more to him than any financial loss could have been. So we should not put off the calls that love and duty lay upon us. When we consider that anything done for one of the followers of Jesus, He considers as done to Himself, how awful it is to act so as to show neglect of the Son of God.
I have often thought of the wells along the roads that I traveled going to my churches, where I used to stop to drink. I rode a horse to my appointments for many years, and formed a habit of stopping at the same wells to drink. It rested me to dismount, and having learned where to find the best water, I there had my thirst quenched. How like the journey of life this is. Jesus stood up on the great day of the feast and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." How long, tiresome and weary the journey of life to Zion's pilgrims without these watering places! The church is a watering place. Here we sit down to rest under the shadow of his wings, rest the weary soul at the gospel's call, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Then, too, "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." How the "soul thirsteth for God."
As the wells along my way, that meant so much to me in those days, so have refreshing places been where thirst of the soul may be satisfied with the water of life. As I came nearer those watering places my desire for the water became greater the more I thought about it. So it is with us. The more we think of the sweetness of the stream of the water of life the more our thirst increases. And it is well, too, that we keep in mind where we may find these places, and turn in to them.
I have thought, too, of the wells that Isaac digged. "And Isaac digged again the wells of water which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them." - Gen. xxvi. 18. Water is so essential to life and health and enjoyment that the scriptures use it a great deal as a symbol of what revives the drooping spirits. "The Spirit and the bride say come * * * and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." The gospel with its reviving promises seems to be the "water of life." It is not eternal life, but where there is eternal life there is thirst. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Where we have found watering places, spiritually speaking, our minds are likely to turn, and they are sweet to the memory. And it is with us as it was with Isaac, there are no better wells for us than those from which the father have drunk. These were the wells of salvation. "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." The world may be satisfied with its cisterns for a time, but they shall finally find them to be "broken cisterns" which cannot quench thirst. I turn in mind often to the times and places where my soul has quaffed the water of life when in service with the churches, and the memory is like an open fountain still. As the Philistines stopped the wells of Abraham the influence of the world has the effect of closing up our gospel comforts.
The first time I ever went to Liberty church four of us drove through in a spring wagon. This was before I began preaching. Two incidents of that trip have not left my mind. I did not know the road, and so when I thought we must be near I inquired of a man we met where the church was. He said he knew, and that they were having meeting at that time. This made us feel that he knew, for I knew that this was the meeting day. He pointed out the house, and sure enough there were teams hitched around it. I drove up, but did not feel so sure but what I got out to inquire if we were right. As I went up the walk I heard them singing and I knew at once that it was not our people who were engaged in service. The sentiment of the hymn decided that. I turned to go back and a gentleman came out and told me about the people that were gathered at that place, and also where I would find the Liberty church I was looking for. I have meditated much on the distinctiveness of our services, and have been glad that we have maintained in our service a character that is unlike that of any other people. We sing and pray and preach, but the singing is different - we sing of grace and Christian experience, and use music adapted to express the solemn, sacredness of the place, and of the thought in the words we sing. We pray, and preach, but the character and matter of prayer and sermons is different from others. I remember that at one of our churches we had as a visitor an old brother that I had never seen nor heard of, and I wondered if he was indeed our kind of people. A brother who was with him said that the old gentleman would lead in prayer, and he was asked to do so. He had not proceeded far until I felt great confidence in him as being a sound Primitive Baptist. I was first impressed with this difference on the occasion mentioned above.
There was another little incident that the more I have thought about it the more plainly I have seen a thought it suggested. After leaving the place where the people mentioned were holding services we followed the man's advice until we turned away from the main road to enter a gate to go through a pasture. Here the way seemed doubtful. Just at this time a man came along whom I accosted and inquired if he knew where Liberty church was holding their meeting. He replied that he did, and began at once to give directions. He said, "Go through this gate, go south a quarter, then west a little ways, then across a branch, then--" He stopped abruptly, pointed to the dim road that ran through the gate, and said with emphasis, "See that track? Just follow it, and it will lead you to the place."
How true it is that the plainest leading influences in our lives are the examples of living which are set before us. "Go thy way forth," said the sacred writer, "by the footsteps of the flock." We sometimes devote much time to theory and doctrines that the simple story of the way the Lord's people have been led would entirely refute and dispel. "See those tracks?" appeals to me many times as I read of God's providence and care over his children. I know that is the right way. "Just follow the tracks," comes not alone as advice, but with a voice that can but be recognized as commanding.
That is the reason the Lord has had these maps of "tracks" traced in the Book of books, that we might not follow those which lead to destruction, though they are "broad" and "wide," and so apparently easy to find and travel. But if we look intently we may see written over these "tracks" plainly, "The way to destruction." But there are other "tracks." They lead through the "strait gate" and "narrow way," and they lead to life. True, there be few following in that way, but it leads where we ought to want to go, where God's blessings and presence are, and where there is companionship and fellowship with the saints. Even as we found by following the tracks, we had continuous evidence all the way along that we were in the way.
Sometimes when low down in the valley we begin to feel that we have lost the way, but look: Here is where the Savior kneeled when He prayed, "Let the cup pass." But the cup does not pass, and still "Sorrows encompass me round." Have I lost the way? Look a little closer further on. Ah! here are the prints of the dear Savior's knees, and this is where He prayed: "Nevertheless not my will but thine be done." Are we asking, what is my duty? Look at these "tracks" by the river's side. Certainly the Lord's feet pressed the sands, and these marks show which way to go. "Suffer it to be so now," said Jesus to John, "for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." I am today thankful for the incidents along the way which have led my too roving mind to the "fields of Boaz," where I might glean the golden grain of truth.


I preached for Concord church, which was south of Laclede, Mo., for a few years. The most of the time I rode a horse to and from, which was a distance of about 20 miles. I was farming and had no help. I would work late Friday evening to get all the work done that I could, and then ride over Saturday morning. I sometimes hear brethren excuse themselves for missing their church meetings because they live so far away, some ten or fifteen miles perhaps. I think of the years when I worked hard every day in the week up to Saturday and then rode twenty to twenty-five miles and back home Sunday night. I know what led me to do it - I loved the cause. I know I was not being paid to do it. I wonder how much these brethren love the cause that will let a little hardship and sacrifice keep them from their meetings.
I will tell of an incident I now have in mind. I started to Concord church one Saturday morning. I was going west, and the sun beat down on my back. I was tired when I started. The heat and dust were disagreeable indeed. I fell to complaining of my lot. Why should I, who was so poorly situated, feel that it was my duty to try to preach under such disadvantages? There were plenty of brethren, good brethren, too, who were better qualified than I, and had means so that they would not have to be burdened as I was. Why was I called, if called I was, and not those who could so well serve?
Then, at that time, I was so barren of mind. I felt that I certainly had no message to deliver that day. I ought to go back home, reason seemed to say to me, but still I went on, going over and over again my complainings, and each time I weighed my burdens they seemed heavier. My way led through the town of Brookfield. My wife had given me a package to deliver to an old Sister Neece who lived there. I reached her home, got down, tied my horse and went in. She welcomed me and bade me sit down. I excused myself, that I had no time to sit down, as I had several miles to go, and would be late. She placed a chair and said "Sit and rest while I get you a glass of cool water." She returned in a few moments, and while I slaked my thirst she talked. She said that until recently she had been much given to worrying and complaining. She had been much distressed, too, about her children. But while she worried there came to her a view of God in whom she could trust, that brought peace to her soul. She had complained about her lot, but the dear Son of God had been tried beyond what she was able to comprehend, and that for her sake. And now He understood her perfectly, and it was a reflection on the sincerity of His love to so act and so feel as though He was not full of sympathy and love for His troubled children. She said it came to her how weak and imperfect she was, but how strong, loving and kind was the Savior. She had found such rest in taking everything to the Lord in prayer and trusting Him to do right, and believing that in His providence He will care for us to the end of the way. She had worried about her children and her inability to direct and protect them, but now she felt relief that she could in confidence pray to Him who had more power than she.
I had listened to her words, and like oil on troubled waters they had calmed my spirit, and sweeter than honey in the honeycomb the blessed gospel of peace from the mouth of this dear old sister had dropped into my heart. The rebellion in my heart was quelled, and my soul said "My Lord and my God." How changed the scene was! I came into her home full of bitterness with no message of help and comfort for those who labor and are heavy laden; but now I felt a sweet submission in my heart, and a willingness to go to the end of the world if only my Lord should say "follow me." Then, too, I felt how sweet a privilege it would be to quote the words of the Savior to sorrowing ones - "Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me." I went on my way to the church, only wishing that I could say a part of what was in my heart to say. Often in my memory have I rested in the home of the God-sent messenger and listened to her words of heavenly wisdom which dropped into my heart like the gentle dew of heaven.
Concord church a few years later dissolved and the membership went to Liberty church. Before I began preaching for the church it had excluded a sister for refusing to live with her husband. I was much impressed with the matter from the time I first learned about it. She attended the meetings and made no show of resentment but was quiet and gentle and her spirit impressed me as being that of a true follower of Jesus. I was not impressed so favorably with the spirit and talk of the husband who had been retained in the church. I learned he had taken "gospel steps" and that the church could not see how they could do otherwise than to exclude the wife as she refused to live with him. After the church dissolved the excluded sister began attending the meetings at Liberty church, and maintained the same Christian spirit. The husband had died. I spoke to the former members of Concord church, now members of Liberty church, and asked them if they did not feel that the sister had been wronged in the matter, and they said they thought she had. I told them it was not too late to remedy the matter, and I felt they owed it to her to make a statement to the church in her behalf, as they now felt that too much confidence had been placed in the husband, and that he was the one really to blame for the separation, but that the wife would rather bear wrong than to bring charges. One of the brethren told the Liberty church of what they had done, and acknowledged that he believed Concord church had done wrong, and recommended Liberty church to give her membership if she desired it. The dear old sister was much overcome with her thankfulness to again have a home in the church after years of patient waiting to be vindicated, and remained faithful until death. I speak of this incident to call attention to the fact that churches sometimes err, and when the members are convinced that they have, they should rectify the wrong. Also, when persons have suffered injustice at the hands of the church they should not rail against it and seek to do it harm, but they should follow in a Christ-like spirit, which will in time win the hearts of all, and reparation will be made them.
At one time I became much discouraged over the condition of my home church, West Union. The church was in peace, but I was much impressed with the idea that having lived there all my life, and feeling to have such little ability to preach, I could never hope to build up the church, in fact, I saw nothing out of which the church might build. This feeling grew on me until it darkened my mind much, and often I felt that I could not preach. Once I thought I should not be able to even make an effort to speak, I was so overcome with the thought that having known me from childhood up, and having heard me say perhaps all I had to say, those present would not be edified or even interested. During the singing I tried to think what I should do when the time came to go on with the preaching service. While in much gloom of mind a passage of scripture came into my mind with much force. It reads, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."--2 Cor. iv. 5. This lifted my cloud for that time for it showed so clearly that I ought to be thinking more about preaching the work of Jesus, His love and power to save, and not thinking so much about myself.
But I seemed not to be able to get relief from my depressed feelings, and I felt that this would eventually work an injury to the church, and for the sake of the faithful members who were so true to the cause, and to hold our congregation, we ought to get some one to preach for us, anyway until I might be relieved in mind. I asked one preacher in whom I felt much confidence, if he would consent to come and preach for us awhile, and he said, "No, not while you are there to preach for the church." I do not think he did me right, and I told him that if he ever got into the state that I was in at that time, and should call on me for help, if it was within my power I would help him. The church consented to my appeal and asked a good brother to preach for a year and he consented. What a relief this was to me! I think it did me and the church good, and I have always had a warm feeling for this brother, Elder J. W. Bradley, for coming to our help.
As time developed I have tried to study my trouble, and I suppose it was a lack of trust in God, and impatience. I looked too much to self, and not feeling any dependence could be placed there, I saw nothing in which to put trust for the future to continue the church. I should have been living more by faith, looking to the Lord to prepare the hearts of people for the church. Then, too, I was much too impatient, as I clearly saw when in after years I had the pleasure of baptizing members into the church who were at the time of my discouragement unborn. How important to heed Jesus--"In your patience possess ye your souls." "Let patience have her perfect work." I have learned, "For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
My home church, West Union, since its organization, had always been a small church, and had always met in school houses, as was much the custom of small churches for many years, or in the homes of the members, or in some hired house. But in the year 1898, without considering how we might be able to do so, a motion was made to build a house of worship. It carried without opposition, though any one of the members might have contended that we were not able, as we were nearly all in debt. The work was undertaken with a will, however. I did much soliciting far and near, and yet feel thankful to brethren for their encouragement and financial aid. The house was built on a nice site given the church by Brother Ambrose, the lot containing two acres, which was planted in trees.
I thought many times, while soliciting for funds to build this house, how easy it would be for the Primitive Baptists of Missouri, and many other states, to raise money enough each year to build a comfortable home for some church whose members were poor in this world's goods. While the contributions were small, principally from fifty cents to two and a half dollars, the fact was the more emphasized that with a little system to bring enough brethren to work in unison, it would be possible to do much good for needy churches.
My home church remained in peace, all working in harmony for many years, and I had begun to wonder why churches had trouble, when a series of incidents threw the church into much confusion, one of which I will mention. I had devised, and had printed a church clerk's record book in which were printed Articles of Faith and Rules of Decorum. I offered one of these books to my home church, and then came up the question as to the adoption of the printed articles of faith and rules. Of course the adoption of the book did not make this imperative at all, as they could have been omitted. This matter was taken up, however, and as most of the churches did, West Union adopted them with few changes. There was, however, strong opposition made to the adoption of one clause in the covenant, which read as follows: "We also agree * * * to be ready to communicate to the defraying of the church's expenses, and for the support of the ministry."
It was sought to strike this out. I was not willing to single out a clause which was clearly scriptural and strike it out, for then it would appear that it was not according to scripture teaching, and I felt sure this was as plainly taught as were the doctrines in the Articles of Faith. The friction over the adoption or striking out of that clause caused us much trouble. The objection was not to the actual contribution for the help of the ministry, but to putting it into words, or in a way making what we did for the ministry public.
I have seen much of this spirit among our people. I think, perhaps, much of it originated in trying to get away as far as possible from the Missionary Baptists who went out from us, and then to such extremes on the money question, really hanging salvation itself for the heathen on the amount of money raised. This is the spirit that renders the scriptural use of the office of deacon inoperative. Members object to letting any one but the preacher know what they do for him, so no one knows how much the church as a whole gives, because no one knows what any one else does. It is all wrong. There should be the freest understanding among the members about money matters. It is a matter that the scriptures treat upon, and what the Bible treats upon is not a private matter. Deacons were chosen and set apart to attend to the "business" of the church, and paying its obligations is "business," and what is right to do, it is not wrong to make a record of.
West Union church belonged to the Yellow Creek association. The first session that I attended after becoming a member was held with Chariton church in September, 1873. I have a distinct recollection that Elder John Hutchison preached the introductory sermon over the protest of many brethren. Elder Hutchison and others had come bearing a letter, representing that they were the Mt. Salem church. Other brethren from the same church bore a letter contesting the claim. These two letters were referred to a committee consisting of one member from each church. I was placed on the committee, which after hearing both sides, rejected the letter borne by the Elder Hutchison party. Some of the members of that faction afterwards were reinstated, but Elder Hutchison finally professed to be an infidel.
I have often thought that the spirit he showed at the association was so unlike that of a humble follower of the lowly Son of God that it did not manifest the spirit of Christ.
Later I attended a session of the Yellow Creek when held with Little Zion church and was appointed by the moderator, Elder J. E. Goodson, to go to one of the homes with two older preachers from different associations to preach at night. They insisted that I speak first. I did so in much fear, as I had been speaking in public but a short time. When I had finished they each spoke in turn, and both of them seemed to make special effort to contradict what I had tried to say. They took the position that if God wanted any more members in the church he would bring them in; and that everything would be done just as the Lord had predestinated it should take place, and that every act of man was preordained, good or bad. I had never before heard such ideas preached. I thought if these two preachers were Primitive Baptists I knew that I was not, and it gave me much trouble. But on investigating I found that these two men were of that class of extremists that are always in public talking much about being "Old Baptists," and then giving out these extreme ideas, such as I have mentioned. This gives many people a wrong idea of what Primitive Baptists really hold. I feel sure that preachers ought to be held to strict account by the churches for such things. People in general, as a rule, who are raised up under Arminian influences will not be favorably impressed with the doctrine of grace when they first hear it. But if they hear it properly stated, an investigation of the scriptures will sustain it, and if they have an experience of grace their hearts will approve it. But if they hear some of these extreme and unscriptural statements, and are interested enough to investigate, they will find that they are unscriptural, and then will conclude that they represent all Primitive Baptists, and they will decide against the whole church. It would not avail anything for some brother or sister to deny that Primitive Baptists believe such things, for those criticizing will at once say, "Yes, but we know they do, for we heard one of your members say so." So while we ought not to be too critical with our preachers about individual expression, yet we ought to stand against such expressions as contradict fundamental doctrines.
When I had been ordained but a little while, in company with my brother, Ambrose, I attended the Hazel Creek association in Iowa. I felt a timidity in going, as I was afraid I would be called upon to try to preach, and did not feel competent to preach at home and much less at any distance away. The nearer we came to the place of meeting I felt more and more to hope that I would not be called on to try to preach. One thing that rested on my mind was that perhaps Baptists up in Iowa did not hold the same doctrines, or perhaps did not use the same expressions that I had been used to, having in mind the experience I had with the two preachers before mentioned, who at that time belonged to one of the churches of the Hazel Creek association. Finally we reached the home of Elder Blakely the evening before the association opened. We saw no one that we knew on arriving, and no one knew us. I felt encouraged. I thought I would get to hear some preaching, and then I could see if I was in harmony with the preachers. As the evening drew on, others came in, and among them some who had stopped at the same place my brother and I had stopped the night before. Finally it was about time for the evening service, and I was feeling hopeful that I would not be recognized. But my expectations were blasted. Elder Blakely came out to me and asked, "Is your name Cash?" I replied, "Yes." "Are you Elder Cash?" said he. With difficulty I said, "Yes." "Well," said he, "some who have come in told me who you were and it has been arranged that you and another brother are to preach tonight." I tried to excuse myself, but I could not move him. I thought, Well, I will get the other brother, who was an elderly gentleman, to preach first, and if I find we are not in harmony, I will say nothing.
The time for the service came on and I tried to get the old brother to preach first, but he pleaded that he did not feel well, and said that I must go first. I did the best I could under the circumstances, hoping that the brother in his remarks following would give me an idea as to what he thought of my position. I was disappointed. He made no reference at all to what I had said. I took this to mean that he could not approve, and out of kindness to me would say nothing. This left me in the same frame of mind I had been in.
The next day the session of the association opened, and I was appointed to speak at the stand during the business session. I hurried through. I wanted to get an idea of the situation, and as soon as I could, made my way to the dwelling house where the messengers were assembled. I did not enter the room where the messengers were, but could hear all that was said. They were just taking up the matter of appointing preachers for the stand for Sunday. Elder Blakely arose and addressed the moderator and then said, "Brethren, there is a young brother here from Missouri." I was all attention. I expected him to say that on account of his age, and experience, it would not be wise to appoint him, and I knew that was the way that I felt about it. He continued: "I have heard about him from good authority, and can without hesitation assure you that his standing is all right at home, and from what I have learned I think that he has a gift to edify. You will make no mistake to put him up."
How relieved I was! I did not care to be appointed to speak, but I wanted to know how the matter stood as to my position, and the attitude of the people with whom I was to mingle for a time. Just as Brother Blakely had spoken, as I have set down above, he stepped a little to one side, and looking through the open door between the two rooms, saw me. He said, "I did not know that you were here, Brother Cash, I beg your pardon for my personal remarks in your presence, but I have nothing to take back." The brother who spoke first on Sunday was an extremist, but he became confused and was not able to talk very long. After the service, a brother told me that the elder who spoke first had been prompted by some extremists to take the course that he did that day. "But," said he, "I am glad that the Lord confused him and would not let him say what he had intended to say." I learned in some measure by the experience of this trip that, "The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whosoever putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."


After I became connected with the Messenger of Peace I attempted to correct brethren on an expression that was being used by some ministers at that time. It was as follows: "The Lord's people were saved in eternity." I argued that this expression could not be true for several reasons. First, the Lord's people were chosen from the fallen race of Adam and did not exist in eternity. The sins from which they were to be saved were committed in time, and so they could not be saved from them in eternity. Secondly, the Lord's people were saved by the death of Christ, and He did not die in eternity, He died in time. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." - I. Tim. i. 15. If the Lord's people were saved in eternity there was no use for Him to come into the world to save them. I tried to show that it would be right to say that God fore-knew His people in eternity; that He chose them before the world was made! that He predestinated that they should be conformed to the image of His Son before they ever sinned, and before they had an existence. It was the carrying out of this purpose, choice and predestination in time that saved the Lord's people, Christ coming in time and because of His suffering, death and resurrection and intercession the Spirit gives life to the dead in sins, fulfilling the prophecy, "Thy dead men shall live." I claimed that the Lord is saving His people now, which is equivalent to regenerating them and preserving them by grace to the end.
A short time after this editorial appeared I attended the Mt. Zion association, and found on reaching the place that certain brethren were very active in trying to create the impression that I was not "sound," and the evidence that I was not sound was to be found in the editorial which I had written, claiming that the expression, "The Lord's people were saved in eternity," was not correct. One of these brethren was carrying around a copy of the paper that he might convince brethren of my unsoundness. This influence was being exerted, I soon learned, to keep me off the stand. I did not care for being put on the stand, but those who were active in opposition to me were strong for the expression, "The absolute predestination of all things." So I felt that it meant much more for the cause than it did for me personally. However, I said nothing, not trying in any way to meet the opposing influence, feeling that in the end truth would prevail. I was not put on the stand, but there was no necessity, as there were plenty of ministers to fill up the time. But I was wondering how the brethren generally felt about the matter, and especially if many of them really questioned how I stood on the truth. I had not the least question in my own mind that the position I had taken was perfectly consistent with the faith of the Primitive Baptists.
On Monday morning, however, Elder Allen Sisk, the oldest minister at the association, and who was moderator of the Fishing River association, came to me, and putting his arm around me, said, "I do not want you to be troubled about what is taking place here. We have confidence in you that you will still be preaching for the Old Baptists when these other fellows have gone off into the brush." I had never been at all intimate with Brother Sisk, being rather distant in my disposition, and had never felt that he took much interest in me. But from that Monday morning I could not for a moment doubt that he felt that I was in harmony with the Primitive Baptist principles, and it was encouraging to me beyond expression.
In the fall of 1882 I attended the meeting of the Fishing River association, which was held with the Marion church, near Richmond, Mo. The question of continuing or dropping the correspondence with the Mt. Pleasant Association came up. The "Means party," led by Elders W. T. Pence, E. H. Burnham, Milton Sears, J. E. Lee and James Bradley were fighting for a standing wherever possible, and it was important to them to hold what they had gained in the Fishing River association, and to go forward if possible, instead of losing the correspondence. Elders Burnham, Lee and Bradley were at the meeting, prepared to use all their influence to hold the correspondence with the Fishing River for the Mt. Pleasant, which had gone over bodily with the new movement. Those chosen to preach on Sunday were Elders E. H. Burnham, P. L. Branstetter and J. E. Goodson, Sr. Elder E. H. Burnham preached first, taking for his text the words of Jesus recorded in the 17th chapter of John, especially dwelling on the 20th verse, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." The first part of the sermon was built up consistent with the covenant of grace and was strongly presented. But when he came to comment on the 20th verse he endeavored to work in the "Means" doctrine, that God uses the gospel in the quickening of sinners. The theory was as well presented as it could be, but it was evident that it did not move the great body of the Baptists which were present.
Elder Branstetter followed and used as a text, 1 Cor. viii. 5-6: "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." The time was critical. The churches and associations were at the parting of the ways. The time had come when it must be decided in this section, and among all the Baptists of this correspondence, whether the "Means" doctrine was to spread further among the churches, or whether the line should be drawn, limiting it to the bounds already reached. The ablest advocate of the "Means" theory had just spoken, and had brought forth the strongest arguments possible to support their theory. It now devolved upon Elder Branstetter to meet this departure and show that is was not scriptural, and thus to stay its progress among the churches, for on Monday the deciding vote of the association would be taken. The feeling in the congregation was tense, and Elder Branstetter showed plainly that he felt the seriousness of the situation. His soul and mind were aflame with the subject. With wonderful power and clearness he took up his argument to show that the great matter of salvation was all of the Lord, and that regeneration, the actual saving work brought to effectiveness in the person of the sinner, was not to be weakened by connecting it in a human link, but that a no less powerful agent was used than the Holy Spirit, and that the purpose of the gospel had another objective in view.
The effect of this sermon on the congregation was wonderful indeed. At the close many stood closely around the stand, having moved forward, it seemed involuntarily, under the influence which wrought so mightily in hearts and minds. No one could be so dull as not to see that the case had been decided for that time and place, and by great odds it was against the Means movement. It was plain from the demeanor of Elders Burnham, Lee and Bradley that they understood the verdict. The Mt. Pleasant association was dropped from the correspondence. The Salem association was dropped at the same time, but there was but a small element in the Salem that adhered to the Means movement, and they soon left it. A few churches were drawn off from the Fishing River association. They were Little Shoal Creek, Big Shoal Creek, Prairie Point and First Platte. They were organized into what was called West Fishing River association. It has now gone out of existence.
One night, at an association I was attending, I was appointed to go to a brother's house to preach. I went and did the best I could to preach from this text: "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." - Matt. xvi. 24. I tried to use this text as a command of Jesus to His followers to obedience, arguing that there is a difference between obedience and disobedience, and that to live after the flesh meant loss, and to live after the Spirit was gain, giving the Savior's own language as proof: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; then shall He reward every man according to his works." When I had concluded, a brother preacher arose and began speaking by saying, "It has got to be so that when some brethren preach where I am, they preach a dependent God and independent people. The people can obey or disobey as they like, and God has to wait to see what they do so that He will know what to do." He went on to say that it is not in man to direct his steps, and that all things are directed of the Lord. That the Lord had predestinated all things from eternity that should come to pass, and that it would be that way. That he would preach every sermon that the Lord had ordained that he should, and that if a fly should rise from the floor and go the ceiling it was so ordained before the world was. Thus he continued until I suppose he thought he had demolished what I had said and he then closed with a benediction. Before the people had stirred, however, I called out and said, "Brother, I want to ask you a question." He said, "Ask on." I then asked him if the Lord made me get up and preach what I did, and then made him get up and tell the people that what I had preached was not true? He tried to evade my question, but I told him I did not want to argue, but wanted him to say, Yes or no. This he would not do, after preaching as positive as he did. I think many of the people saw that to argue a view of predestination that applies to all things alike, makes God act against Himself, and makes evil to flow from the same fountain as good. People sometimes argue in a way that makes it appear that sin and immorality are the result of God's predestination, and if they are, of course God is the cause, which the Bible utterly condemns. God's predestination is so effective as to be a cause in everything pertaining to the salvation of sinners, and many other things of which the scriptures speak, but no one ought to presumptuously charge God with being the cause of such things as His word condemns. His law condemns sin, and His law fixes a penalty for the transgression of it. No one can rightfully say that God forbids the transgression of His law, yet causes persons to violate it.
An incident at one of my churches will illustrate a trial that often comes to the pastors of churches. I had for a long time been pastor of the church of which I am about to speak. There had always been the best of feeling between me and the members, and if they had ever been dissatisfied with the service I was rendering, I had seen no indication of it. But a preacher came among the members who had been in trouble where he had formerly lived, and he was seeking a new field. I knew this, but the members did not. He represented that he wished to help me in my work by becoming a partner with me in the publication of the Messenger of Peace. Knowing his character, and that he was not capable of doing work on any paper, even if I had needed help, and the fact that the income from the paper would not warrant dividing it with anyone, I wrote him in reply to a letter to me that I could not consider his proposition. He wrote me that he would start a paper if I would not take him in. I wrote him to go ahead as far as I was concerned, as the field was open.
He began then to try in every skillful way to win the confidence of the brethren in this church, and made some feel that I was not treating him fairly by not taking him in. He worked the suggestion into the minds of some of the brethren that as I had been preaching for them a long time, and was overworked, it might be a good thing for the church, and for me, to have a change, and that he could take the place. He made himself very intimate in the homes of members and was very affectionate with them. One good brother went so far as to give him a lot to build a house upon, with the idea that it would be better for the church to have a resident pastor. I saw all this transpiring, and had this preacher been a man of good character I would have stepped aside, but my interest in the church I knew was unselfish, that I really desired its welfare, and in my judgment knew that the man would not prove out what they expected. But I could not make an open protest, for that would have been taken by some as a sign that I was jealous and selfish. When I felt that prudence indicated such a course I went to the deacons, and laid the whole matter before them, but cautioned them that the time to act was not yet, as there must be no division among the members that might live to make trouble. So I insisted on watchful silence. They had not long to wait. As soon as he thought that he was securely in the confidence of the brethren, he began to make use of the brethren in high standing for his own personal gain. This soon uncovered his real character, and the church where he had formerly been, brought up charges, and the brethren of my church having discovered his unfaithfulness, he was excluded.
I think that I see two lessons in this case. Brethren in the churches should be careful about taking up with preachers whose standing in the churches where they have formerly lived is not good. They should be careful about putting a new man in the place of one who has served faithfully many years. These brethren were much mortified when the truth all came out, and our fellowship and affection was settled for life. Upon the other hand I learned a lesson for which I have been thankful to God, and which I have desired not to forget while I live. I was mercifully preserved from jealousy and imprudent, hasty action. Had I tried to get some brethren on "my side," and got them arrayed against each other, it might have caused a rent in the church, for even though they might have finally seen the error of following the new man, there might have been harsh language used that would have separated brethren for years, and they might never have been united again. It is better to suffer and wait than to build up a party in the church. Churches should first be determined in standing together, unless erroneous doctrines are introduced, and even then, they should try all the gospel directions in keeping unity. We can generally settle all our differences if we can keep down passion and hasty words.


The Messenger of Peace was first started November 15, 1874. There were at that time but few Primitive Baptist papers published in the United States, and none of them were west of the MIssissippi river. So when Dr. J. E. Goodson of Macon, Mo., whose reputation as a conservative but sound and able advocate of salvation by grace was well established, issued his prospectus, the proposition met with much favor and warm support. Later he took with him into the office his son, John E. Goodson, Jr., who became a member of Chariton church later, and was ordained to the ministry, and became a recognized power for good among Primitive Baptists. His health failed, however, and it became plain to him that he could not recover it. He spoke to me about assisting him and his father on the paper, as Dr. Goodson from his advanced age was no longer able to take the entire work if it should fall upon him.
Up to this time all my summers had been spent on a farm, but for some ten years I had taught school through the winter months. Though I really had nothing in view, but for several years before I had been spoken to by Brother Goodson about helping on the paper, I had not felt that I would keep on at the kind of work in which I had been engaged. I had felt that I would one day be connected with the paper, though I could not have given a reason for feeling so. In August, 1890, Elder J. E. Goodson, Jr., became very ill, and at the close of harvest I went to Macon, Mo., where the paper was located, to see if my services were needed. I took up work in the office until it should be seen what turn Elder Goodson's illness would take. On August 19th he passed away. I cannot describe the loss I felt in his death. We had traveled together, preached together, and there was a confidence between us that made us brothers indeed. Soon after his death I entered into co-partnership with Dr. Goodson, which ended December 1, 1891, by his selling his interest in the paper to me. I bought a one-half interest in the Marceline Mirror, a weekly paper published at Marceline, Mo., and in the job printing plant connected with it, and moved the Messenger of Peace there and began issuing it from that office January 15, 1892. I finally bought out my partner, Mr. H. M. Broderick, and continued to issue both papers until in 1904 when I sold the weekly paper, having already moved to St. Joseph in June, 1903. I began issuing the Messenger of Peace from St. Joseph in 1904, and it is still issued from this office.
I have had a feeling about this publication which is much the same as I have about my ministry. I feel that I became connected with it through the providence of God, and that it should be conducted in such manner as to glorify His name, and to advance the cause of Christ, endeavoring to unify the church on sound doctrine and practice. I feel it to be a sacred trust, and would no more think of publishing error than I would of preaching it from the pulpit. And I feel, too, that the same rules that apply to me as a member of the church in my relations with my brethren, apply to me in conducting my paper. In my editorials I have tried to write as I feel that I should preach, trying to strengthen the churches in doctrine and practice, not compromising the truth, or approving what is wrong, according to the test of scripture teaching. I have felt that the truth, and the good of the cause, were to be considered above personal favor. I have had money sent me for subscriptions to be applied on the condition that I publish articles that were either sent or to be sent. The money never influenced me to publish articles that I did not think taught the truth, or were improper from any standpoint. I have refused the article and sent the money back when I thought that it would injure the cause. Owing to the expense of publication the paper has not paid me much for my labor, and I have had to look to other sources to make a support for my family. But it has brought me an acquaintance with brethren all over the United States, and I value their love and encouraging letters above dollars and cents, for I know that their fellowship could not be bought with money. Some have said to me that if the paper did not make sufficient money to let it stop. But my preaching does not make me much money either. Shall I stop preaching because it is not a money making work? I feel about the paper as I do about my preaching.
After the sessions of the Missouri associations were over one year I decided to attend an association in another state. I supposed that the association was in harmony, doctrinally, with our Missouri associations. After the introductory had been preached, with which I found no fault, and while the association was going forward with its routine business, I took up one of the minutes of the association and read the articles of faith which were printed in it. I found one item, "We believe in the eternal vital unity of Christ and the church." From this, the most important matter, and other items, I saw that I was not at all in harmony with the association. At the first opportunity I had, I told the moderator and the clerk that I did not believe as they did, and not wishing to impose on them, nor to have my name appear on their minutes as taking a seat with them, I requested that they would not ask me to preach nor to take part with them, but to treat me as a self-invited visitor at the meeting, for whose presence they were in no way responsible. They tried to move me from my decision, but I declined to argue with them, and told them to give the matter no thought, as I certainly did not desire to cause them the least confusion in the meeting, which I would perhaps do if I preached, as I knew that I would preach contrary to their articles.
But the family at whose home I was being entertained requested that I should preach at their home at night, and as they manifested such kindness, I could not refuse. But the association sent preachers there also. I insisted that they preach first and they seemed willing to do so. They made special effort to preach the absolute predestination of all things, good and evil, using the most extreme expressions that are used by those who use this statement of predestination. Also special stress was laid on the eternal, vital union theory. One of these preachers said that there were some people calling themselves Baptists who thought that God regenerated the Adam sinner and made him a child of God, but that God was not driven to the necessity of taking the children of another and making them His children, as He had plenty of children of His own, being His before time was, and that the church was as eternal as was Christ Himself.
While he talked, I tried to think what course I ought to pursue in my remarks, as I had said at the beginning that I did not want to come into their midst and produce any friction, knowing that we were not in harmony. But I could not get the consent of my conscience to let it appear from my preaching that I approved of what these men had preached. While thus debating the situation with myself, this thought came to me: "Why should you preach differently to what you do at home? If you preach the gospel there, will you not have to preach the same thing here to preach the gospel?" With these thoughts my mind cleared and I became as calm as I ever was, and the passage, "By grace ye are saved" seemed to me as the sun in the sky, lighting up the whole of the great subject of salvation, and to be a key to the revealed word of God. When I arose I announced that I would talk about salvation by grace.

"Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but not I see."

I said that for salvation to be by grace, there must be an undeserving sinner saved, who had not a single claim on the Lord's mercy, for if he had one single claim it would destroy the statement that we are saved by grace. He must not make a claim of merit for obedience, not even to have filled the Arminian requirement of believing on Jesus, as a cause of acceptance. Neither can he claim to a relationship with Jesus that necessarily brings Jesus to do anything for him, for that would destroy salvation by grace. I tried to picture the man that God made going into disobedience, and justly coming under the condemnation of the law, doomed without grace, not having a single claim for deliverance. Then I spoke of the covenant of grace, and how "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," and how each grace-rescued sinner felt himself to be the chief of sinners, with no reason for his hope but in the mercy of God. After the meeting closed one of their followers walked out into the yard with me, and said to me, "That is so; I never thought of that, salvation must be by grace."
A man offered for membership once at one of my churches when I was not present, and the brethren accepted him for baptism. When I came home I was told about the matter, and they said that though the man talked a great deal there seemed to be something that he was trying to say that he could not express. The time set for his baptism was the next regular meeting time, when I would be present. He came on Saturday, bringing his change of clothing with him. I told him that I wanted him to go home with me, as I wanted to have a talk with him. In the evening when we got settled down for the talk, I told him what our church believed as touching the work of Jesus, and then asked him if that was the way he believed, and he said that it was not, that he had not so understood it. In drawing out what he believed, I found that he was an advocate of the eternal vital union theory. I told him that there had been several members excluded from our church for advocating what he believed, and that I thought it would not be consistent to take him in, and that I did not want to baptize him unless his views could be altered. I said to him, "I do not think that you would want to be baptized by me, knowing that I do not believe as you do." He said, No, he would not. I told him that I thought he ought to go to a body that believed as he did, or else go into an investigation of the matter, in which I would be glad to help him. I announced next morning that the ordinance of baptism would be indefinitely postponed.
While writing on the subject of eternal vital union, I will give some particulars of the trouble Little Flock church of St. Joseph, Mo., had with Elder H. S. Cloud over this doctrine. In March, 1887, this church received Elder Cloud from the Missionary Baptists. He had been ordained by them and had been preaching for them. He was baptized after coming to the Little Flock church, and in a short time was ordained. He soon developed very extreme views, and his expressions were objectionable on the subject of predestination. Then he went further and published a book without submitting it to the church or members of the church. The title was, The Bride, the Lamb's Wife. He professed, like so many others who put forth heretical ideas, that the matter of the book was revealed to him, and that he wrote it as it was revealed. The book advocated the eternal vital union theory, representing the church to be coequal with Christ as to duration of existence, then being manifested in the persons of the Adam family, and so being drawn under sin. Then Christ, because of His relation to His bride, was drawn under the law, and so the death because of the fall of His bride in Adam, and the final deliverance of the church from earth. He rejected the idea of the adoption of the Adam body, and left it in the grave.
Charges of heresy were brought in the church against Elder Cloud. Copies of his book were submitted to Elders F. A. Chick, editor of the Signs of the Times, S. Hassell, editor of the Gospel Messenger, R. W. Thompson, editor of the Primitive Monitor, and myself, editor of the Messenger of Peace, and S. H. Durand. These all pronounced the book heretical, and Elder Cloud was excluded, as were seventeen others who adhered to him. These excluded members claimed to be the church in order and sent up a letter to the Nodaway association, but they were rejected, and the Salem church also dropped out as a result of this trouble. There is but one minister at this writing (January, 1925) who advocated this theory in northwest Missouri, and but few holding to it in the state. There are some sections in other states where this doctrine is preached. Back some years ago there was a paper called The Sectarian which upheld it, but that has gone down. Elders Ker and Lefferts, editors of the Signs of the Times during the year 1916, and in the August 1st and the September 15th issues of that paper both took a stand for the eternal vital unity doctrine, although Elder F. A. Chick, while he was editor, called it heresy, as did Elder S. H. Durand, and other well known ministers of high standing.
In the fall of 1912 I made a visit to Sardis-Bethlehem church, in Henry county, Mo., which had no pastor at that time. Elder H. W. Newton, of Oak Grove, Mo., had been pastor, but had not been attending them for some time. The members requested that I accept the pastorate of the church, but I thought best not to accept at that time, but promised that I would preach for them until other arrangements were made, or until I felt free to agree to serve as pastor. Finally I consented to serve the church and have been doing so up to the time of this writing. I take up the subject of Sardis to speak of a crisis in the church which might benefit other churches. The house that the church was using had been in use many years, and had the same seats that were put in it more than fifty years before. The house was cold, the members, with the exception of a Brother and Sister Amick, all lived several miles from the church, so that in winter time the meetings were often slimly attended, or in the worst weather not at all. The people living around the church either had interests elsewhere or were indifferent about the meetings, so that the situation was most discouraging for the future. The older members were well-to-do, but when they should pass away perhaps conditions would change. I considered all this, but felt that prudence would have to be used in bringing up the subject of building, for that would bring up another matter upon which I felt the church would be divided in sentiment, and that was changing the location of the church. Several of the members had located in Leeton, a town about five miles away. I could see no promise of a congregation for the future where the church stood. But there was a cemetery on the grounds owned by the church, and of course some would not want to move the site on that account. The conditions called for delicate treatment.
At one of the church meetings I spoke of the necessity of building a new house. I had spoken to some about the necessity for immediate action when the matter was brought up. When I spoke about it, it was suggested that the matter be taken under advisement. That was just what I thought might be imprudent, for it might lead to a discussion of location and that might provoke dissension. So I asked for immediate action and a brother made a motion to build a new house, and it carried without opposition. I asked for the appointment of a committee of three who might make recommendations as to plan and site at the next meeting of the church. This was arranged. I asked the committee to make a thorough canvass of the situation, and with the recommendations of a site to give reasons. I went with the committee and made a canvass of the members as to changing the site to the town. It was a trying time, it seemed so serious. The committee was not united at first. But the next meeting came and the committee reported in favor of changing into the town, and it carried nearly unanimously, though many were perplexed about what they ought to do. The point in this course was that this decision was reached without a long wait and much talk, for this would have provoked strong feeling that might have been injurious for the future of the church. The new house was built and paid for, with money left. Brother Amick, who had lived close to the old house, died soon after the first meeting was held in the new house, and this decided the matter in the minds of all that it was the right thing to change the location, and as years have gone on this decision has been confirmed. A cemetery association was organized to take hold of the old cemetery and put it in better condition than it had ever been kept before.
I wish to mention a case which illustrates the truth of the following passage: "And we are His witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them who obey Him." - Acts v. 32. When I first visited Sardis church, when the invitation was extended for members, a young sister, Mrs. Bertha Harris, wife of Brother A. B. Harris, now clerk of the church, offered for membership. She told of the beginning of her interest in her soul's desire to join the church and a feeling of unworthiness which had continued over a period of eleven years. She said in the conclusion of her remarks, that she had been unable to settle the question, and had finally decided to leave it to the church, and to abide by the decision. She said, "Now I will not blame you if you decide that I am not fit to be a member, for I have been deciding that way for eleven years." She was received, of course, for her narrative was convincing. The time for the ordinance of baptism was set for the next morning, and as we went to the water she said to me, "Brother Cash, would it not be awful if I was making a mistake?" I told her that I did not think that she was. We went into the water, and when I had raised her up, she looked into my face and said, "It is all right." The Holy Ghost is a witness to them that obey Him. Many seem determined that the Holy Ghost shall be a witness to them before they obey, but the Lord has His way of bearing witness. While He has given His children the spirit by which they cry "Abba Father," He has not promised to give them the witness of assurance in disobedience. But He has promised the witness to them that obey him.


I took the care of Bear Creek church, near Hannibal, Mo., in the year 1891, and preached for it about ten years. I wish in connection with the mention of this church to bear witness to the character of a faithful deacon in that church who managed the finances of the church - Brother W. F. Kercheval. The first meeting in the year he would read over the names of the members of the church who were expected to help bear the expenses of the church, calling out at the same time the amounts that each had given the year before, and asking each one if the amount was more or less than he could give the present year. Of this he would make a memorandum, and then he asked each member to give one-fourth of the whole amount he was to give during the year, first Sunday in each quarter. He said that this was for his convenience in keeping his accounts, and as they were asking him to take on himself the trouble of attending to this matter he would ask them to make it as easy for him as possible. By this arrangement he always had funds on hand for use as needed. He insisted, too, in all being prompt with their payments which they could do by having it in mind beforehand. Out of this fund the pastor was helped and the poor were looked after.
He also took up a collection each Sunday morning, and this fund was used solely for paying for the care of the house, providing fuel, etc. He was so prompt himself that it was consistent to insist upon promptness in all. There was never any friction about the financial business of this church during his lifetime, and after his death they tried to keep the business "as Brother Kercheval had kept it." He also insisted on all the members being present at the meetings, and if any missed he went to see why they did not attend. His devotion to the interests of the church, and promptness, had a good influence on the church. "The way Brother Kercheval did" was a living rule in the church, for all saw that it was right.
I will mention an incident in which it seems that I was providentially saved from being robbed. It was while I lived at Marceline, Mo., and I was returning from Bear Creek church, of which I was then pastor. I had to change from the C. B. & Q. railroad to the A. T. & S. F. road, and the depots were about a quarter of a mile apart. I arrived at Bucklin about 3 o'clock in the morning, and hurried across to the Santa Fe station. When I got there, from the actions of the station agent and the waiting passengers, it was apparent that something unusual had occurred. I asked, "What is the matter?" The agent replied, "Haven't you seen anyone? We have been held up and robbed. Where did you come from?" I told him that I had come from the Burlington station, and that I had seen no one. He said, "Well, just as soon as the robbers had left here the Burlington agent had called up and said that his office had been robbed." So it was plain that both stations had been robbed at the same time, and I was between the two stations, going from one to the other. I had left home hurriedly Friday evening without thinking to go to the bank and had more money with me than I was in the habit of carrying on my person. As I had no money that I could afford to lose, I thanked the Lord for my escape, and promised myself that I would carry nothing for robbers in the future when it could be avoided.
The town of Marceline, Mo., to which I moved from the farm, after having purchased the Messenger of Peace, and a half interest in the Marceline Mirror, a weekly newspaper, was built up during the time the Santa Fe railroad was being built through from Chicago to Kansas City, and was made a division point between Kansas City and Ft. Madison. In my boyhood I had ridden over the prairie where the town was built, herding cattle, when there were not even farms laid out. As is the case generally with towns which spring up quickly, especially railroad and mining towns, as Marceline was, there were many bad characters to be found in the population. At the time of which I write, 1895 to 1900, these characters had grown very bold, and robberies, fires, and even murders were frequent, and insurance companies were drawing out of the town, and property was declining in value so that those who desired to leave could not sell out. Something must be done, but as it is generally, the better class of citizens did not want to undertake the work of subduing crime and restoring order, for it perhaps meant to risk life and property. One night a delegation of business men came to my office and said they had decided to ask me to take the office of mayor, and if I would do so they would all promise to join with me in the effort to restore law and order to the town. Much as I disliked to do this I agreed to try, and together with a town board pledged in like manner, was elected. We began organization of the work before I was sworn in and a house burner and a robber were caught and sent to the penitentiary to serve terms. A citizens' committee was organized, and the prompt and vigorous manner in which transgressors were apprehended and punished frightened the lawless elements so that offenses soon grew less. Some known bad characters were taken out and punished and given hours to leave town, and they left. An appeal was made to the state's attorney by those who thought the citizens' committee was going too far, but on learning the facts he refused to act. I was much criticized by some of the ministers of the town because I did not handle the liquor business differently, but I told them that if they would keep their members from patronizing the drug stores and drink joints the officials would have backing to enforce the law without trouble. My life was threatened by the rough element, but no harm came to me, but it was a trying time in my life. I learned that if the law abiding citizens will take hold of public affairs with vigor they can accomplish much toward the betterment of affairs in our counties and towns. I could not at that time, with the prevailing sentiment of the town as it was, do away with saloons. I could control the saloons easier than I could the illicit sale when they were closed. A prominent member of one of the churches went before the county court to protest against my course. The presiding judge asked him what my course was in the matter. On being told what it was, he replied, "I have known Mr. Cash all his life, and if he wants it that way there is a good reason, and I will vote to sustain him."
Saloons and intoxicating drink are an awful curse to a community. If one is brought into a position where it becomes his duty to control it he will soon see what a vice it is, and what treacherous means will be practiced to keep it up and to spread it. Only depraved men can engage in the sale of liquor, for they know that it is a curse to those who drink it, and they take their money for that which will destroy them. It is a constant menace to young men, and to girls, too, through the influence of men who are leading to lower and lower righteousness and toward immorality. I was reelected to a second term, but resigned on account of moving my residence to St. Joseph, Mo.
While I was teaching school, I went to my school one cold morning, and found two young men there waiting for me. One of them said to me, "Mr. Cash, father wants you to come to his home as quickly as you can, and I will take you in the sleigh and my brother will build your fire, and sweep out the room." I asked what their father wanted of me, and they said that he thought he was going to die and wanted to talk with me. I signified my willingness to go, and in a few minutes we were at the home. I went in and asked the old gentleman what he wanted to talk to me about, and he told me that he had but little time to live and he wanted me to baptize him. I asked him if he had a hope of salvation, and he said that he did not, for although he knew that he ought to be baptized, he had neglected to attend to it, and now he knew it must no longer be delayed or he would be lost.
I said to him, "But you are not depending on being baptized to save you, are you?" He admitted that he thought he could not be saved without it. I tried to tell him that Jesus saves sinners; that what He does for them and in them is so entirely sufficient that it needs nothing else to make it effectual. I could not clear his mind, however, of the idea that he could have no hope except he was baptized. "But," said I, "it is too late now, you are not able to be taken and baptized. It is awfully cold, and you are not able to stand the exposure." "O," said he, "I know that I cannot be immersed and I believe that is the right way, but as that is impossible, I think the Lord would accept sprinkling."
I told him that I could not baptize him, though he were able to be immersed, for I did not believe that baptism was a saving ordinance. If he believed it was, I could not administer it, for only such as were believers in Jesus as their Savior were entitled to baptism. And as to sprinkling, I did not believe that was baptism at all under any condition. "O, perhaps you may not believe in it," said he, "but do it to satisfy my conscience." I told him that I had a conscience as well as he, and he would have to send for someone else. I went off, leaving him in tears. I could but reflect after leaving this man how precious to the dying is the hope of salvation by grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It lacks nothing, it is full and complete, and suited to the sinner's needs, while those who are trusting in their own deeds, when brought to the test, will find that they lack something. It is a notable fact that those preachers who insist in their arguments and sermons that salvation actually depends, not alone on faith and confession, but that obedience in baptism is an essential requirement, when they come to preach the funeral of a person that has not been baptized, do not declare that they have been lost on account of this neglect. And they even go so far as to say of some who have not been baptized that they have reason to believe that they are saved because they have given evidence of saving faith. They do not seem to realize that such an admission destroys the force of the arguments that they have used in preaching.
I will speak of a death which was very beautiful and impressive. I was arranging to commence a service at the home of my uncle, James Cash, in the neighborhood of Sardis church in Chariton county, Mo., when I was called to come at once to the bedside of a neighbor woman who was near death. I went at once and found on arriving that she was in a dying condition. I bent over her and asked what I could do. She said in the faintest whisper, sing "Angel Band." We sang, "There is a land, a happy land," with the chorus.

"O come angel band,
Come and around me stand,
O bear me away on your snowy wings
to my immortal home."

As we sang, she lifted her hands and clasped them, looked up with a very happy smile, and thus while we sang passed out of life. It was most beautiful indeed. The memory of the upturned face, with its heavenly smile, the clasped hands as in ecstasy of soul, meeting the "king of terrors" without a tremor, inspired by the hope of heaven through the gospel, has been a beautiful picture to me of the Christian in full faith meeting death.
My Sister Margaret, "Maggie," as we called her, died at the age of eighteen. When the doctor came last he left some medicine with instructions for giving it. I went to Maggie and asked her to take it. She said that she did not want to take it, as it could do her no good. She said that she did not want to get well, that she wanted to go home; that she did not want to stay in this world any longer. I told her that we did not want to give her up, and that for our sakes she might take the medicine, as she did not know but what she might get well. She insisted that she would not get well, and told us how much better it would be for her to be with the Savior in heaven than to stay on earth. She talked on with perfect composure, and finally calling each member of the family to her bedside bade each farewell, saying, "Meet me in heaven." Then she sank into a sleep, and soon found the rest she desired, and I have no doubt her freed spirit went at once to the presence of Jesus and the holy angels. How sweet it must be to die in full assurance!
My mother was taken with her death sickness in March, 1888. I called to see her Friday evening on my way to Liberty church, of which I was then pastor. When I saw her condition I said, "Mother, you are too sick for me to leave home, and I will not go to attend the church, I will stay at home with you." She replied, "No, Walter, you go on; always fill your appointments when you can." Those words have come to me out of the past many times when duty called me away and I felt an inclination to remain at home. With mother's tone and look to give them weight, they have been respected as from heaven. I started on that evening, but I did not reach the church; mother grew worse and I was called back to watch by her bedside until her spirit, freed from its prison of clay, went home to God. During her last night she sang parts of old hymns in which she had often joined with the saints on earth in singing. The last one she sang was,

"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains."

and in this hope she died.
Elders W. I. Carnell and C. W. Weaver started a paper in Illinois in 1908, styled The Predestinarian Baptist. They were both eloquent preachers, well informed, and soon built up quite a following among brethren who were inclined to use the term "absolute predestination." I had learned of their standing among Baptists where they had formerly lived, and I knew that they held views not generally accepted among our connection of Primitive Baptists. The first issues of their paper contained objectionable things, but nothing could be heard in their preaching to which exceptions could be taken. I had written to some brethren to be careful about letting them gain a foothold in their churches, as I felt sure that later, when they felt that their following was strong enough, they would introduce their heretical notions. Some of the brethren to whom I wrote felt that we must treat these men as being all right until they should plainly preach something unsound. In the first issue of their paper Elder Carnell wrote as follows: "Predestinarian Baptists preach practical godliness without preaching that it comes from man, or depends upon the will or choice of man. We exhort God's people unto love and good works, without telling them what God has never told them, that is, that they have the ability to do these things or refrain from doing them." Then in the "Abstract of Principles" of the paper the 10th section read as follows: "That the wicked shall be raised up and shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." I called the attention of Baptists to these departures from Baptist teaching in the Messenger of Peace, and gave warning to the churches that if they tolerated and encouraged this heresy trouble and division would be the result. When they thought that their friends had sufficiently multiplied they commenced to speak plainer on the ideas they wished to introduce. The doctrines they held were to deny the creation of an immortal soul, claiming that when men die all there is of them goes to the grave and that there is no consciousness after the death of the body, not even with the children of God, until the resurrection. They also taught that after the resurrection the wicked would be entirely destroyed - annihilated. Also they held to very extreme ideas on predestination. I charged them through the Messenger of Peace with not being Primitive Baptists, and actually rejecting the articles of faith which had been received for hundreds of years, and which our churches were at this time standing upon. The matter was too plain to be denied. They challenged me to a discussion of their position, which I declined. I took the position that Primitive Baptists had reached a conclusion on those points, and had recorded that decision in their articles of faith, and that to reject the statements of those articles was to cease to be a Primitive Baptist, and seeing they had rejected those statements my charge was true that they were not Primitive Baptists.
When they were thrown on the defensive they came out plainly, trying to establish their positions, and thus disclosed to our people just what their doctrines were. The Baptists of Illinois then began to reject them, and all the churches except one were saved from division. The career of these men in Illinois shows what an influence "fair speech" when used by designing men may have over sound and good brethren. We need so much to "Watch and Pray" that we may be delivered from every false way. Primitive Baptists should not take a preacher, nor any man, into full confidence, unless they know something of his life and record previous to coming among them. They do not need to be unduly suspicious of preachers, but those who are worthy to be received will not be afraid to come openly before the people with their doctrine, and to have all know their past history.


Along about the year 1900 a movement began in the Primitive Baptist ranks that culminated in much distress, and division in some localities, before its close. The announced intention was to revive languishing churches and put new life into the cause by discarding traditional practices, and by means of more popular preaching and vigorous measures to build up the congregation, and as a result of this the churches would be built up. One of the chief leaders in this movement was Elder Harry Todd, of Indiana. He had been considered a sound and able preacher, and had the confidence generally of the Baptists where he went and preached.
He wrote to me about publishing in the columns of my paper articles that he might write, advocating a "full gospel." The meaning given to the expression "Full Gospel" was to preach exhortation and practice, as well as salvation by grace. I had always been in favor of doing this, and it had been my course since the beginning of my ministry. But during our correspondence I drew out what Elder Todd considered to be the right course of our preachers. The positions he took were, Our churches are not prosperous. They are not prosperous because they are not popular. The kind of preaching we have renders them unpopular. That the churches may become prosperous they must become more popular, and large congregations be built up, and this cannot be done while our preachers preach as they now do. He argued that it was the duty of all men to repent and believe on Jesus. Even though they could not do so until they were regenerated. He said if our preachers preached this obligation as the Arminians did it would not keep people from being born again, even though it did not cause them to be believers. But it would draw larger congregations, and consequently we would get more additions.
He further argued that as preaching election and predestination did not change election and predestination, much of this kind of preaching should be dispensed with, and so remove the ground of objection of many people. I told him plainly that the columns of the Messenger of Peace could not be used to advocate such a change in the manner and matter of preaching, and that I would as soon advocate Arminianism in a direct manner as to teach it in an indirect manner, and I considered the kind of preaching he advocated was in a practical manner repudiating the truth and supporting Arminianism.
He then wrote me that if I would not allow them the use of the columns of the Messenger of Peace, they would start a new paper that would advocate the preaching of a "full gospel." I told him that he could just go ahead, as no such articles would be published by me. He then began the publication of the "Gospel Light," which was conducted in such a manner at first as to get the confidence of many good, sound Baptists. But in a little while after he had support enough that he thought he could continue, the true purpose of the paper became apparent to many. About this time Brother S. B. Luckett, of Crawfordsville, Ind., issued a pamphlet which pointed out many of the objectionable features and expressions with which the paper abounded, which helped many others to see that the paper was not in line with Primitive Baptist faith and order, which caused the paper to lose so much support that it was discontinued, and Elder Todd went to the Missionaries where he belonged. In connection with Todd and his paper were a number of preachers whose ambition to become popular was aroused, and they started out on the course advocated by Elder Todd. Among them were Elders J. V. and R. S. Kirkland. Elder R. S. Kirkland went into the evangelical work to get members into the churches, and he proceeded along lines which were closely akin to the Arminian revivalists, but in doctrine he preached what was considered sound by those who heard him. His meetings drew large crowds, and he held them with his power to interest, keeping his congregations either laughing or crying, or trying to keep up with the dramatic situation which he created. Many persons were received into the churches where his course was received with favor.
In the year 1904 Elder J. V. Kirkland issued a book, the title of which was A Condensed History of the Church of God. Before any bound copies were ready to send out he wrote me in regard to it and asked me to make an announcement of his forthcoming book. I wrote him that I could not do this until I had seen the book, so that I might know whether I could endorse it, as I would not publish an advertisement of a book that I could not recommend. Almost all the Primitive Baptist papers published his announcement, but I did not think it prudent to do so. When he sent me a copy of the book I found it to advocate a Federal government for the churches. I wrote him at once that I could not advertise it, and also tried to tell him what it meant to him to put the book out. It would bring him into trouble, and if any Primitive Baptists tried to put his recommendations into practice it would mean division. I told him that it would be better for him to burn the whole issue and suffer loss than to put it forth. Later, an announcement was made for a meeting of Primitive Baptists in St. Louis during the time of the World's Fair in that city. I saw that the management of the meeting would be in the hands of those who were forwarding the revolutionary spirit in the churches, and was afraid of the result. So I determined not to attend, and was free to express my feelings to those who asked for my opinion. Some Baptists who desired to attend the fair, and who shared my fears about the outcome of the meeting, insisted that I arrange for a meeting separate from that for which Elders Kirkland were arranging, but I did not think it prudent to do so. Many attended the meeting and saw nothing wrong, but when the minutes came out they were surprised to find that they represented the meeting as endorsing the idea that the commission was given to the church as a body, and not as to individuals; also that there be a national paper under the immediate supervision of the churches. This uncovered the purpose of those who got up the minutes, for it was evident that they meant to make it appear that a representative gathering of Primitive Baptists from all parts of the country was favorable to the new ideas, and with this appearance of endorsement to try to move the churches in that direction.
From all quarters came protests against the ideas set forth in the minutes of the St. Louis meeting, and of Elder J. V. Kirkland's book in which the Federal government was advocated. The friends of the movement now had no paper through which they could try to defend themselves and advocate their measures. They appealed to me, "For," they said, "you are not an extremist, and you are conservative and reasonable." They wanted a chance to get before the Baptists. Some of Elder Kirkland's close friends wrote me, asking that Elder J. V. Kirkland's name be put on the editorial staff of the Messenger of Peace, and in return they would double my subscription list. Elder Kirkland himself wrote to me, making a proposition. It was an advertisement of his book, and give notice of a second annual meeting of Primitive Baptists, the meeting at St. Louis to be considered the first. And that I should give his name a place on the editorial staff. He further stated that if I did not agree to his proposition he would start a paper.
I wrote him that I would not grant such a request to any man in the world, and certainly not to him, knowing that what he would advocate was contrary to what I believed to be consistent with scriptural teaching and Primitive Baptist practice. I said in reply to his proposition that I should publish an advertisement of his book, that having refused to do so when nearly every Primitive Baptist paper in the United States had done so, and some of the editors had recommended it, it was absurd to think that I would do so now, when it had been generally condemned. And as to announcing another meeting like the one held at St. Louis, I had not attended that meeting, and had advised others to stay away, and was against the principles announced in the minutes, and I most certainly would not announce another. As for putting his name on the editorial staff of my paper, nothing could induce me to do so. It would at that time mean an endorsement of his ideas, which I had never done, and to try to hold up a man whose theories were generally condemned. As to his starting another paper the field was open as far as I was concerned. Elder Kirkland started his paper, but he could never convince Primitive Baptists that the "commission" to preach the gospel was given to the church as a body, or that there needed to be a body of higher authority than the church to regulate the affairs of the kingdom of Christ. The paper failed for lack of support and the Kirklands went to the Missionaries. This movement led some churches out of the connection of the Primitive Baptists. They are known as "Progressives."
The Kirklands visited and preached in the churches in Boone county, Missouri, in the Salem association, and for a time it seemed they were leading the entire association. Two associations dropped correspondence with the Salem, and leading ministers tried to get the Yellow Creek association, of which I was moderator, to drop the Salem also. I had ceased to attend the Salem association during the time the Kirklands were received, but I knew that large body of Baptists were really sound in the faith, and I had confidence in them that they would finally set themselves right. But I thought that if the Yellow Creek dropped correspondence this would practically cut them off from the Primitive Baptists of the state, and it would encourage the leaders in the "Progressive" movement to double their energy to try to become the dominant power. So I stood out with all my influence against the Yellow Creek dropping the correspondence though some very influential ministers thought I was doing very wrong.
In December, 1904, at the request of leading members in the Salem association, I visited some of the churches and arrived at an understanding with them that steps should be taken to stop "progressive" preachers from visiting the churches, and that the churches would take steps to let it be known where they intended to stand. To this end I was to attend the next session of the association, which I did. At this meeting I laid the matter before the brethren plainly, explaining the situation, and telling them of the purpose I had in view all along in not dropping the correspondence, but that I could go no farther unless they acted decisively. I said, "You must say now which way you are going. If you say you are going to stay with our churches and associations on the old line, and will show that you mean it, the correspondence will be continued; otherwise not."
They said that they wanted to continue the correspondence and sent two messengers from each church to the next session of the Yellow Creek association, to ask that the correspondence be continued, and giving assurance that no further cause of friction would be given. The churches have kept their word, and correspondence has been renewed by all the surrounding association. I wish to say in this connection that brethren sometimes act too hastily, and sever connection with others when a labor of love and charity would continue the fellowship and save from division. An old minister said to me, "As I look back on the actions of the churches when we had to meet questions which finally resulted in divisions, I can see that sometimes we acted hastily and lost members that a more deliberate and loving course would have saved."
A question of order came up in the Yellow Creek association of which I was moderator, and which caused me much worry, and considerable friction among the preachers in Missouri. It was a case of divorce and remarriage. The wife of one of the preachers left the Primitive Baptist church and joined another denomination. She refused to live with her husband as a wife, and they finally separated and a divorce was granted. The minister remarried, he having submitted the matter to the members of his church through the deacons. The church acted thus upon their understanding of 1 Cor. vii. 15--"and if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace." The church took the position that the husband had made due effort to live with her, but that she had refused. I took the position that on a matter on which the Primitive Baptists are not a unit in opinion, the act of each church must be respected. As in feet washing there is not a general agreement among Primitive Baptists, and a church is to be esteemed as being in order whether or not it practices feet washing. So in regard to the passage quoted above, there is division upon the interpretation of it. Therefore there should not be breaking of fellowship between churches which may not agree. This same principle comes up on the question of secret orders. Taking the whole denomination all over the United States there is a difference of opinion, and the practice is different. Some churches do not allow their members to have membership in secret orders, and others do. With this condition prevailing there is but one consistent principle of action in regard to individual cases, and that is that the action of each individual church shall be respected.
Acting on this principle I stood for the Yellow Creek association to be in order while recognizing the before mentioned minister, because his own church sustained him, and the matter being one on which Primitive Baptists are not universally agreed. There were ministers who did not accept the same interpretation of the passage referred to, and wanted to reject the minister who had been divorced, although they admitted that ministers and churches which had been recognized as being in good order had taken that view of it. Some of these ministers who opposed my stand were my intimate friends, but I felt that it was right to stand to principle rather than to follow friends. The church to which the sister belonged who married the minister referred to took the position that she had no scriptural right to marry a divorced man, and so excluded her. Some thought that she ought to be recognized as being in order, because the minister was held in the church. But I took the position that she was rightfully excluded, because that was according to the interpretation her church put on the passage which was under dispute, and that the action of each church is to be respected, just as we do on the subject of feet washing. Her church finally restored her, however, and gave a letter.
I have referred to the above incident because churches must sometimes meet such things, and they should be decided upon some consistent principle. Some have objected to this treatment, saying that if once accepted a church can do as it pleases and no other church can object. That is not true. If a church should admit alien baptism, it could not be argued there is division of opinion among Primitive Baptists upon that question. If a church attempted to change any of its doctrinal principles, it could not be claimed that Primitive Baptists are not a unit upon them. But no well informed person can claim that there is universal agreement in regard to the passage in 1 Cor. vii. 15.
My father was a soldier in the Mexican war of 1846-48. He went at the request of his father that he might look after a younger brother who was determined to go. After the close of the war, he took up land in Linn county, Missouri, under his claim as a soldier. The farm lay one and one-half miles south of Bucklin, and at this home I was born. When growing up I attended the common schools, starting in before I was really of school age. the study of books suited my disposition, and I was not satisfied unless I was well up in my classes. I was satisfied with my home life, and never had an inclination to leave home but once. We used fireplaces in those days, and it took a great deal of wood to keep fires through the winters. We generally got up wood and cribbed the corn before I could commence going to school. So I got to attend school but few months in the year. One fall I had started to school, and father concluded that we did not have wood enough up, and that we must get some more. He told me that I would have to stop school until the wood was all up. This made me feel very rebellious. I thought that if this was the way I had to do, I would never get an education, which I desired so much, unless I left home, as there was always so much work to be done. But this spell did not last me very long.
In summer time when the other boys rested at noon, and when not working, I was reading. I carried a book in my pocket much of the time, and when I thought out problems I stopped to figure them out on my shoes or the plow beam. When about eighteen years of age I secured a certificate to teach school, and took charge of the school in my home neighborhood, having an enrollment of sixty-two pupils. I took my wages for teaching this school and attended the State Normal at Kirksville, Mo., two terms. After this I taught school during the winter months and worked on the farm in summer. I continued working along in this manner for about ten years. By this time I was preaching for four churches regularly, so I was constantly driven by work, summer and winter, and riding on horseback to three churches. The church to which I belonged was close to my home. Occasionally I made trips to churches at a distance. Much of the time we were not able to keep help in the house for my wife, nor for myself on the farm. I worked as late as I could Friday night and then rode to the churches Saturday morning, a distance of from twenty to twenty-five miles, and then home Sunday night, my wife feeding the stock in my absence.
During this time I learned how impossible it is for one who has been enlisted as a soldier to give such service as will satisfy his conscience, and the Bible requirements, and have himself entangled with the affairs of this life. I sometimes felt very rebellious at going into such a warfare at my own charges. I studied the scriptures to see if they taught that a called preacher should have to make such sacrifices as I was making, while many of the members of the churches had plenty and did not try to help me carry the burden. I found it written as clearly as the doctrine of election and predestination that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But what was I to do? I felt, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." I was willing to spend and be spent if only I might see the churches fed on the pure gospel, whether they did anything for me or not. But I could not quiet my conscience which said I had not the right to put the burden and sacrifice of my ministry on my wife and children while others were eased. I could give myself and all that I had, but why should they be deprived of my time and labor for the good of the church while the families of other men, members of the church, had no such sacrifices to make, and were blessed really with more church privileges than my family? During this time I overheard a conversation between my wife and some women which did me good. They were telling her that she ought not to stay alone while I was away. I felt to say, That is true. They said it was too hard on her to have to do housework and the outdoor chores, such as feeding and caring for the stock. I thought, That is certainly true, and if she gets to looking at it as they see it she will become dissatisfied, and I could not blame her. It was not safe to leave the little children alone while she was out, as something might happen to them. I wondered what she would say in reply. I had not long to wait. She said, "Well, I realized when I married him that he would have to preach, and I made up my mind that if he would do his duty, I would try to do mine." This was a great relief to me as far as her feelings were concerned. But did the Lord require that of her? Or did He not rather require of the church that it should see that he that tended the flock should eat of the milk of the flock? And did not the scriptural rule say that he that ministered spiritual things should be a partaker of the carnal things of the members of the church that he served?
I thought that I could see clearly that the churches had departed from apostolic practice, but how could it be changed? The old preachers who had preceded me said little or nothing about such things, and when I considered the effect of the division with the Missionaries I could see why so little was said. The Missionaries had emphasized the need of money, and had magnified its power until it would seem almost as important as the blood of Christ. Indeed the way they preach it makes the blood of Christ of no effect, except for the preacher, who cannot preach unless he is paid. Of course, the Primitives tried to get as far from such an idea as was possible, and in doing so had ignored the teaching of the word of God that the church must supply him who serves it, with the necessities of life, both he and his family must be supplied, for Paul argued that he had as much right to have a wife as other apostles. He said, "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas?" - 1 Cor. ix. 5.
I began to talk and preach along these lines, but I am sure that in my heart I was not doing it that it might be so done unto me. But I could see that under the course that was being pursued the church was being robbed of the service that it needed. Preachers were toiling for bread for their families, when they ought to have been giving all their time and powers to the cause of Christ in trying to build up the church and establish its members in spiritual things, and I was resolved that, with the blessing of God, at the close of my life's labors, it should not be said that I had not tried to make this duty known to the church. I was aware that I would be misunderstood by some and misrepresented by others, but my duty was clear as I saw it. Some would think by my calling attention to what the Bible taught on this subject that it was for personal gain, and others would say that I was in favor of a salary system. It resulted as I had anticipated, but I have never changed my course, but continue as I began, to contend that our ministers should give themselves continually to the work of the ministry, and the churches that they serve should see that they are provided with what is reasonable and right for churches situated as they may be to give.
I have lived to see a great change among the churches in this respect, but it will take more than a generation more, with proper teaching, to bring churches and pastors to anything like the proper relations as to service and support. The churches need more service rendered to them and the community in which they are situated, and the service scripturally rendered would result in such improvement in the general welfare of the church that it would work no hardship on the churches to properly care for the pastors.
I want to acknowledge the assistance that I have received during my ministry from a few wealthy brethren and sisters who did what seemed right to them in a direct and personal way, independent of the churches. I could never have got along, it seems, without this help, the churches doing no more than they did. If more of those who have been blessed with plenty were so disposed, many struggling ministers would be encouraged and enabled to do better work among the churches. I have wondered that more of those who are blessed with plenty do not find out that the approving conscience is the best income they can possibly get with their God-given means. I have reason to thank God for those who have shown liberality toward me. Most of my life having an encumbrance on my home, and rearing a family of ten children, and preaching regularly since I began, has kept me in such financial condition as to receive with thankfulness the gifts of friends and churches.
I wish to call the attention of my readers to what has been, many times, a source of loss to preachers, and that is attending funerals. Of course at this time, most persons in reasonable circumstances see to meeting the expenses and time of the minister who may be called on to assist in laying away one of the family. But it often may be that some poor member of the church has a loss in the family. It might be thought that it would be all right for the minister to attend such funerals at his own expenses, but is it not much more reasonable that the church should render assistance in such cases? It would be but showing proper sympathy to a brother or sister who might be poor in this world's goods to help them in every way in the time of sickness, and especially when it comes to the greater expense of a burial. Then it would be a very light thing for the church to take care of the minister's expense and time. Most preachers have attended funerals when no one thought of making good their expenses, but this is wrong.
The custom of having funerals on Sunday is discouraged, and that very properly. Before the days when bodies were generally embalmed it perhaps could not be well avoided. But now bodies can be kept with very little inconvenience to the family, and it often is the case that a minister whom the family would most desire has a congregation that ought not to be disappointed if it could possibly be avoided. In the cities the undertakers and ministers stand against Sunday funerals, and it is right. If all would take thought on this matter it could be easily arranged. It is often the case, however, that arrangements are made for a funeral before the minister is notified at all, when he should be notified first, so that the funeral may be set so as not to interfere with his previous appointments.


In August, 1890, I left the farm and went to Macon, Mo., to help on the Messenger of Peace, as Elder J. E. Goodson, Jr., had fallen in his last sickness, and Dr. Goodson, the founder of the paper, was growing feeble. My wife and the smaller children remained on the farm, and the two older children went with me, and I put them in the Macon schools. Elder J. E. Goodson, Jr., died August 19th, and I formed a copartnership with Dr. Goodson in issuing the paper. In the fall of 1891, I purchased his interest and moved the paper to Marceline. In the spring following I moved my family to Marceline, and a little later sold the farm and built a house in Marceline. Here I printed the "Messenger" and a weekly paper. The town gave the weekly paper and the job printing office a good support, and the children worked in the printing office when not in school. I continued preaching for the churches, and being from home was a great drawback to my business being successful. There is no business but that needs careful attention as to detail, and the personal supervision by a reliable manager to get the full working capacity of the help. This is a matter that churches should consider when asking a minister to be away from his business to serve them. No preacher who has appointments to fill each week can run a business without much loss from lack of personal supervision.
In the spring of 1903 I decided to leave Marceline and go to St. Joseph, Mo. I can hardly explain this move. It was not thought out and premeditated. It was decided on sudden impulse, and while it caused me some loss in disposing of my investment at Marceline, an investment at St. Joseph, more than offset my loss. Lack of personal attention to my business from being from home, and a general stagnation in business in the town, had brought me loss for some time, and though the business outlook became brighter through the measures carried through during my administration as mayor, I was in debt and I was glad to unload it all as nearly as I could and try to get along in some other way. Then I thought there would be better opportunities for the children which proved to be true. I did not sell the printing office for about a year after I left Marceline, and continued to operate the plant, two of my daughters, Vida and Lois, remaining there, my brother Thornton being foreman. My oldest son, Bernard, enlisted in the U. S. army at the call for troops for the Philippines, and his company having returned to the States, he came home on a furlough in August, 1903, and we sent for the two girls at Marceline to come up to be with him. Vida was sick when she came home, and was not able to return with Lois to Marceline, Bernard returning with her. Vida's sickness proved to be typhoid fever in violent form and in two short weeks burned out the lamp of her life, and we had to give her up. It seemed more than I could bear. She was more than my child to me, she had been with me in my business, and now I blamed myself for leaving her with the responsibilities that were hers when I left Marceline. We were living northeast of St. Joseph at the time of Vida's death. The property that we were holding there increased in value so that when I sold it I was enabled to make a substantial payment on a home at 2522 Lafayette street, in the city, where we now live. After selling the office at Marceline I had the "Messenger" printed at different places in the city until the spring of 1917, I erected an office on the lot back of my residence and now have the printing office in the yard with my home.
I once heard an old sister tell of a lesson she learned about prayer that I have thought of many times since. She was a member of the church with which I first united. She was very spiritual and studied her Bible a great deal. Her husband was not a member of the church. It was her practice to read a chapter from the Bible when the family were all gathered at night, and then offer prayer. One night it chanced that her husband had to be away from home, and none of the children were there with her, so she was alone. When it came time to retire, and the time came for the evening reading and prayer drew nigh, she thought to herself, "There are no children here, and John (her husband) is not here, and I will leave off the reading and prayer tonight." But she could not feel free of mind, though she kept on preparing to retire. Finally the thought came to her with much force, "Do you not need to read the Bible? You do not pray to John and the children, do you? They could not answer your prayer if they were here. If you pray to God, is He not here? And will He not hear and answer?" She said that she could no longer excuse herself. She knelt in prayer. "And," said she, "God did hear my prayer that night and blessed me with His presence so that I was happy and had a good meeting by myself." I have thought many times when thinking over this that no doubt we pray many times to be heard of men and lose that precious prayer-feeling of being in the presence of God and supplicating His mercy for blessings that He alone can give.
We have a practice among us of giving "license" to brethren who are able to assist in the public services of the church, such as being able to lead in prayer, make talks to the church, and manifest zeal for its interest. The license is supposed to be a recognition of a gift seen in the brother which justifies the belief that he will develop into the work of the ministry. Those receiving a license are treated as preachers, and it often gives offense not to call upon them to take part in the services as a preacher would. The intention of the church is to encourage such as have a gift to exercise it and develop it, and thus far the act is good, if it were only more explicit, and was not understood to mean that the licentiate was expected to make a preacher. But in many cases not only has licensing accomplished no good, but actual injury has been done the brother by the church, and the church has been embarrassed by it. A number of such cases have come under my own personal observation. I know a brother who said to the church at one of her meetings that he felt impressed to try to speak in public. He was a very humble and sincere brother, and had the confidence of the whole church, but he had never taken part in the public services of the church. Though the church had no evidence from his exercises that he was called to preach, or would be beneficial, he was granted license at once, and many had high expectations of his being a strength to the cause in the pulpit, as he bore such a high character as a member. But as the years wore on they only developed the fact that though he always retained the confidence of the entire church as to his high character, he never could be a preacher. He knew enough, he was humble enough, he was devoted enough, but the Lord had not seen fit to put him into the ministry. The church was always glad to have him exercise in prayer and make short talks, but the fact of being recognized as a preacher was a burden to him. He was humble and sincere enough to see that the church had made a mistake.
I got the ill will of a brother once because I said when I heard that there had been a move made to license him, that it would be better if the church would try him to find if his gift would be edifying. But is not that the right rule? No one can tell whom the Lord has called to preach until he preaches to the edification of the church. All the members should be drawn out to do all that they can do. Some can exhort, some can pray, some can sing, some can attend to business, some have this gift or that gift to benefit the church if developed and used. But if it is attempted to put a man into the ministry whom God has not called for that work, it will work to his disadvantage and encumber the church more or less. So I think on the whole that a custom that is so much abused, and of which there is some question as to there being any scriptural ground for it, had better be abolished, or used with much discretion.
I have seen so many miscarriages of good intentions to leave money for the good of the cause that I would warn those who have such in mind against procrastination. There was in one of my churches a good, zealous brother and sister who had no children, nor relatives that they needed to help. I heard him say often that he desired that what was left of his estate, when he and his wife died should go to the church. He did nothing about it, however, except to talk about it. He could in a few minutes have fixed it all by a will as they desired, but he waited too long, death called and he had not carried out his intention. After his death his widow had the same intention as her husband had entertained. Late in life she talked to me about it, and I said to her that she had not much longer to live, and that if she really meant that her property was to go that way she should attend to it at once. She had but to speak to the banker who was attending to her business to prepare a will to be signed in the presence of witnesses, and her desire would have been carried out. She waited too long, death would not wait longer, and the talk of years went for nothing.
I knew another couple. They wanted part of their means to go to churches, and they made the arrangements so that they did not miscarry. Five hundred dollars came to the church at St. Joseph, Mo., which was without a house of worship, and formed the nucleus which built the house which the church has occupied for years. Another case, a sister provided in her will the last thousand dollars required to set the house free of debt. The couple who gave the first five hundred referred to, gave like amounts to other churches. The sister who left the thousand dollars left certain sums to struggling preachers to help them along, loosing their hands that much, to give time to the churches. Hundreds of other brethren and sisters could help the cause in these different ways, and many of them desire to do so, and some of them intend to have it so. But will they procrastinate? A sister who belonged to the church of my membership said that she had never helped the church much, and had never helped me as pastor to bear the burdens I had borne for the church as she should have done, and said she would have one hundred dollars left for me. She might have given it then, but did not, and neglected to fix it so that it came when she died.
It is best to follow the course of a sister who made this her rule, "If you want to do certain things, do it now, for you may not live to do it later." Brother or sister, if you have plenty of means, remember what God has done for you. All you have is His gift, committed in trust to you as it were. He has given His Son for you, and with Him an inheritance that is above all valuation, it is so precious. Now what are you going to do for His cause, and needy people, to show your appreciation of His blessings? Do it now.
I got a good suggestion one morning at one or our churches. Myself and a few others were at the church early. But in a short time after we arrived an old sister came. She did not live in the vicinity of the church, and had come some distance. After the greeting when she came, and after being made acquainted with me, whom she had not before seen, she looked around and said, "It looks to me like the house needed sweeping," and at once went to look for a broom, which she soon found and began sweeping. How good it would be, I thought, if all our members carried out that principle, to do at once whatever they saw needed to be done. A common way of doing would have been to have criticized the church for not taking better care of the house, or asking with criticizing tone, "Whose business is it to care for the house?" But she did none of the usual things; she commenced at once to do what her hands found to do. It would so help our churches if we all were looking about actually trying to find something to do--and had a willing mind to do what was needed to be done. Dear reader, try that course, and see if it does not bring you an eased conscience.
In the church where I first united was an old deacon, my wife's grandfather, William Putman. He was not in the habit of talking in the church, but was much devoted to the church, and when we had meetings, and there was no preacher, he directed the service by asking others to read, offer prayer, or take any other part that was needed, but he himself never engaged in public prayer. But at one of the meetings of the church he arose, and said, "Brethren and sisters, I realize that I have not much longer to be with you, as my time to leave you is drawing near. I have heard each of you come to the church and relate dealings of the Lord, but none of you have ever heard me speak of my experience, and before I go I want to tell you what I hope the Lord has done for me." He began then to tell us when he felt that he was a sinner in his young days, and that finally he was led to trust in Jesus as his Savior. And how later he had united with the church, and how precious the church had been to him, and how much strength it had given him for the trials of life. Then he exhorted all to be true to the church and active in their duties. It was certainly a wonderful talk for us all. It was to us young members as an old patriarch bestowing his parting blessing before he left the world for his home with the Lord in heaven. I take this occasion to appeal to the old members of the church to be free in talking of their hope in Jesus to the young members, and to often give a word of exhortation. The words of those who have been true to the church will be precious in the memory of those who are to follow on. A Sister Hines, of Liberty church, Linn county, Mo., did as Brother Putman had done when she was old, as also my own grandmother, my mother's mother. Neither of these three had ever been heard to talk in the church before, but they left their testimony before being called home.
I visited Elder William Priest in 1892 when on his sick bed, and he talked freely with me of his ministry and of the end of life which was near. He said to me, "If I had my life to live over again I would preach the same doctrine that I have preached, Salvation by grace through Jesus alone for sinners. But I would teach the church the duty of the members to help the ministry, which we older ministers have not done. We have borne the burden that others should have helped us to bear, and we have not instructed them as we ought. It will be hard on you young men to whom we have left the churches as we are leaving them." This talk with this old veteran of the cross made a lasting impression on my mind and conscience. Would I when I came to lay down in death feel as Elder Priest had felt about this duty of the ministry to teach the church its duty in providing for the ministry, and remember with regret that I had neglected it? I wanted to preach the same doctrine that Elder Priest had preached, and which he preached with such power, and I resolved that I would not leave the other duty undone.
A brother who had belonged to a church which had gone down, applied for membership, by what we term "relation." That action is taken when any one has lost membership by a church going down, or other circumstances which make it not possible to get a letter, though the applicant is not an excluded member. This brother had belonged to a church, the pastor of which had gone off into the non-resurrection doctrine. But no non-fellowship action had separated his church from ours. His church had finally quit meeting. He had now moved within the bounds of our church, and wished to become a member. He admitted in his talk to the church that he might not see everything just like all the members, but asserted he was really an "Old Baptist." When an opportunity was given for questions he was asked if he believed in the resurrection. He said not just like some do, but that it was not a fundamental matter, and he did not think that it ought to make any difference. A motion was made that he be received, but another motion was carried to lay the matter over until the next meeting to give him time to read our articles of faith and see if he approved them. He was given the articles, but said that he could not endorse the idea the the Adam body was ever raised up. He contended that the spirit went to God, and the body returned to the earth from which it was taken, and remained there. He was asked to withdraw his application, and did so. The church took the stand that our articles set forth what is considered fundamental, and in them is set forth the faith of the church, and it is to invite trouble to receive those who cannot endorse the doctrines of the church. Our faith is set forth as follows: "We believe in the resurrection of the dead, both of the just (elect) and the unjust, and that the unjust shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." It would save much trouble in churches if they would refuse to receive those who have imbibed and hold to doctrines which are contrary to those upon which the church is constituted. Really the church is not at liberty to receive any other doctrine than that set forth in its articles.
I have many times thought of Brother Sims, a member of Liberty church, north of Brookfield, Mo., as an example to be commended. He was a constant reader of the Bible, and what he read was much upon his mind. When he got with any of the brethren he would be asking questions about the meaning of the passages he had read. And when he fell into company with others, whether they were Baptists or not, he was ready to talk on the subject of religion. His Bible did not look as nice as many center table Bibles, for if he was working in his gardens and the thought of a passage of scripture came into his mind, and he wanted to read it, he did not always take time to wash his hands, and so the pages had finger marks upon them. And the corners of the leaves were often turned down at some place where he wanted to take another reading, or to call the attention of someone else to the reading. He could not remember to quote as exact as some might have done, nor was he as glib in telling what he wanted to say. But the point that impressed me as being commendable, was his persistence in reading, and then his disposition to think about what he had read, and have it so on his mind that it was his chief topic of conversation. One great lack among the members in the churches is not reading the Bible. There is so much literature in various lines, and much of it entirely unprofitable, that reading of these classes takes entirely too much time. For one to read the Bible to profit, the habit of reading needs to be cultivated. One might read the Bible a great deal but with little concentration of thought, so that it did not fix anything on his mind. Those who have it in their minds to read the Bible will get the most out of the preaching they hear, for they will understand the references, and keep up with the topics better. The Bereans were commended because they searched the scriptures. We should read them for ourselves, and not depend on the preachers for all our information.
One of our deacons said the he wanted to have a talk with me about the duties of his office. He said that he wanted to try to do his duty, but he did not understand very clearly what his duties were, and especially as his work seemed to hinge so much on what others thought their duty. I told him that I would very gladly assist him if I could, and for him to state as nearly as he could upon what he wanted information. He said, "I understand from your writings, and from what I can learn from the scriptures, that my special duty is to have charge of the funds of the church, and the distribution of them as the church may direct, or necessity may demand. But if the members do not put anything into my hands, what am I to do?" My reply to this question was about as follows: "First, talk with the pastor of the church and find out his attitude on the matter. If the pastor seems not to think that the church should discharge its financial obligation through the office of the deacon, ask him what he believed the duty of the deacon to be. If he seems not to be in harmony with the scriptures on the subject, request him to investigate it thoroughly and then give you his convictions on the matter. If the church is to use the deacon in a financial way, you can do nothing, unless the church shows a disposition to act independently of the advice of the pastor. If the church is indifferent about the matter, and the pastor will not advise it to transact its financial business through your hands, there is nothing for you to do except to resign, unless your conscience will be satisfied to hold an empty place with nothing to do. But if the pastor holds a scriptural view, it becomes his duty to teach the members what the office is for, and to urge them to their duty respecting it. It is the pastor's duty to plainly and firmly give instructions on this matter, and to insist that the church shall respect the office. To disregard this is to treat the scriptures with contempt. Without a plain and open stand being taken by the pastor the hands of the deacons are tied, and you are fully justified in stating in the open session of the church that you cannot longer hold a position that the action of the church makes void.
The deacon with whom I was speaking then brought up another phase of the duty of deacons, and that is to determine the amount that should be given to the pastor who is serving the church. I said in reply, "You do not have to decide that matter on your own judgment. What you do, you are doing for the church, and therefore you should get the mind of the brethren. The deacon is not to act as though it were a personal matter, for he is acting for others, and so should act under their direction. The deacon and the members should have the freest and fullest understanding as to the receipts and expenditures of the church, for only in this way can it be determined by the members what is right for them to put into the hands of the deacons."
He asked me if it would be right to let the matter rest on the practice of just giving to the pastor what was handed in at each meeting. I replied, "No, that practice is wrong. That would not be deciding what the obligation of the church is at all. There might be meetings when nothing would be turned in at all to the deacons, and the pastor would then be left to bear his own expenses and lose his time without any compensation. No, that plan is not scriptural, and it does not meet the necessities at all. Sometimes the weather will be bad, and there may be sickness which will keep some away. There should be funds in the deacon's hands to meet the necessities without depending on uncertainties. 'Let every one of you lay by him in store as God has prospered him.' The supply must be so certain, at least, that the deacon will not hesitate to use his own means to meet necessities if the funds should chance to be low. The deacon and the members should have such a perfect understanding about who can be relied upon to contribute that each will know about what his share will be each month so that if being prevented from being present at any meeting he will make it good in his contribution, and this will leave no uncertainty."
The deacon here spoke up, and said, "But you have not yet told me how we are to decide what is right to give the pastor." "No," said I, "you had another question that came first. There can be no fixed amount which will apply in all cases. There can be no amount fixed by the pastor, for he does not enter into contract with the church as on a salary basis. The pastor must leave it all to the church. But he should tell the church what the scriptures teach, and then leave the church to apply it. If the pastor devotes all his time to one church, preaching, visiting the homes of the members and the congregation, and reading and studying the scriptures, and the church is able financially to demand so much of his time, then the pastor and his dependent family should be supported about as the average family in the church lives, for it is 'Ordained that they that preach the gospel shall live of the gospel.'
But if a church only gets one-fourth of the time, and there are other churches to require the remainder of his time then each church should feel obligated for the time it requires, plus any expenses in going and coming. But if the service asked is a preaching service only, and the visiting is only incidental, then the expense of transportation, time, etc., of each trip is the first thing to be considered. If he comes by rail, and is allowed a discount on his fare, the church should feel that the discount is not given to the church, it is intended to help the preacher. His time must be taken into account in full, from the time he must leave his work until he can return to it, and give him full value, as though you were putting a competent man in his place. Then consider in a liberal manner what it would mean for him to 'study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.' Consider whether he is a poor man, and help him after a godly manner in his struggle to live and care for his family.
In a word, take this up in a business way, for the deacon's work is designated 'business' in the scriptures, and transact it in an honorable way, as a matter of right between man and man, and see that the church is not laying a heavier burden on the preacher than it takes to itself. He is God's message bearer, sent out as a servant of the church, with full instructions how to serve the Lord's people, and the Lord's people have been given full instructions how they are to treat the Lord's servants. So do what you do, seeking the approval of Him who instituted the office of the deaconship."



My wife and I started from our home in St. Joseph, Mo., April 10, 1915, to visit relatives in the Pacific coast states, and as many churches and brethren as we could in the time allotted for the trip. An account of the trip was written for the Messenger of Peace and published. We do not attempt to give here any detail of the trip, but to make excerpts in which are found meditations upon spiritual and divine things.
"As the train rolled through valleys, hills, plains and mountains, I had time to meditate on the wonders of creation, and its marvelous extent. What awful power pushed the mountains up with their piles upon piles of curiously shaped rocks, and left the awful gaping gorges through which the train thundered with its load of humanity, over seeming slender bridges, whose steel trusses were but spider webs as compared with their majestic surroundings which spoke in awful voice of the power of Him who laid the foundations of the Earth. On and on we sped toward the highest point of our route, which we reached near Trinidad, forced up the highest grade by three powerful locomotives. How different was our mode of travel to the days of those who first went out over the 'Santa Fe Trail' in long trains of wagons, drawn by oxen, mules and horses. Friday evening we reached the boundary between Arizona and California. Along our route were rocks and desert. It was upon such a scene as this we closed our eyes for the night. We awoke Saturday morning to the odor of orange groves, and the sight of roses in profusion greeted us. The transition was wonderful--passing from the land of snow and desolation to the very height of the flowering season, where beautiful colors robed the earth. What a wonderful world is this! and how eloquently it speaks of Him who is Lord over all!"
"We took the 'Old Mission' sight seeing trip. This took us to the San Gabriel mission, the remains of an old Spanish settlement of long ago, which contains many rare relics within its walls. It was founded in 1771, and Catholic priests still minister in the same place where nearly one hundred and fifty years ago Spanish missionaries taught the Indians the idea of the Roman Catholic church. We saw the copper baptistry, hand-beaten, from which hundreds and hundreds of Indians and others were sprinkled for Baptism. The original brick tiles are on the floor of the baptistry room. There is here a fine collection of old books and works of art. The importance given to these old missions, aside from the fact that they are historic places, shows the diligence that Catholics put forth in claiming the attention of the public wherever they can."
"We went through a section of thousands of acres of orange groves, and the fragrance of the blossoms delighted the senses. It called to my mind the scripture references to the odors from fruits and flowers in the songs of Solomon. 'I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste;' 'The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vine with tender grape give a good smell. Arise my love, my fair one, and come away;' 'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense;' 'Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices.' (Songs ii. 1-3, 13; iv. 6, 13, 14). And everywhere are the flowers to fill the eye with a sense of beauty. 'His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers, His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh,' carrying one of God as manifested in His creation. When we think that all the beautiful language applies to the church of God, it should call us to try to find and see all these entrancing delights in connection with her services, her faith and her hopes inspire. Mount Zion, the city of our God, is more beautiful than the flowers and fruits of earth."
"Wednesday, April 28th, we took our first voyage on the great Pacific ocean, going out to the Catalina island. There had been a storm on Tuesday night and the ocean was rough; it was still raining and cold, so we had the experience of being on the water when conditions were unfavorable for pleasant sailing. Neither my wife nor I were attacked by sea sickness. Arriving at Avalon, the tourist city on the island, we first got lunch and then went out on one of the glass bottom boats to see the 'submarine gardens' and what may be seen on the sand and rocks near the shore. It was indeed interesting to have a near view of the sea growth as it really is, which sometimes like a forest and sometimes like a carpet lay beneath us, over and among which the fishes swam at leisure, singly and in shoals. We could see on the rocks the sea cucumber, one of the lowest forms of animal life, which is said to possess only four per cent. How wonderful is creation, and how infinite the forms of life are, and suited to every condition and surrounding. Before going on board again for the return trip we spent awhile studying the curious inhabitants of the ocean that were on exhibition in the aquarium. What emotions come to one when he studies these things with the thought of God in his mind. The wisdom that could devise, and the power that could create all these wonders is the God of our salvation, and these creatures of His hand are a living proof that we can safely put our entire trust in Him, for nothing is beyond His knowledge and power, nor is anything too small for His notice. Then, too, if He bestows such wondrous wisdom and care upon the material creation what manifestations of His matchless wisdom, love and power may we expect in the glorious kingdom eternal, which shall transcend the material in everything that contributes to His praise and glory, as much as the spiritual and eternal are above the things of time.
"The hour came for our return to the city. The clouds lifted, the sun came out, the wind ceased to blow and the turbulent waters calmed. We could but feel delighted with the outlook for the journey back, and it was indeed delightful. The radiant sunlight upon the waters of the ocean, whose majestic waves swell to meet the horizon, filled one with awe, straining the eyes to look over the crest into the far reach, which one knows must lie beyond. In meditation the trip out and back was a reproduction of the voyage of life. It has its cloudy, cold and disagreeable passages, its touch of the unseen and yet clearly visible power of the sovereign ruler of the universe, and, glad to say, the exalting and soul expanding sight of God's glory brings joyous emotions which can never be forgotten. And even as our minds stretched out to what lay beyond the horizon, so faith penetrates the veil that hides the glorious beyond, to where we know God is; and, judging by the glory inside our horizon in this life, hope says that which lies beyond shall far transcend; tears shall be wiped away, clouds and storms no more appear, and the glorious sun of righteousness shall shine forever and forever. If the end of life may only be as full of thoughts of God and heaven as was my mind while looking out towards the sinking sun, whose beams came glistening over the waves, making a path of glorious light which seemed to reach beyond the world heavenward. While I stood on the deck I thought of the dear ones miles and miles away, and wished I could transmit to them a thought of the sacred, solemn and joyous things which filled my soul; for though so far away, I knew the God of the ocean was the God of the land, and that His love was over all.
"By special permission of the chief engineer I went down in the hold to see the mighty engines that were driving us homeward. It was a thirteen hundred horse power engine, and I knew that it was but a weakling compared with the engines of the great ships. This brought me to think how weak and insignificant is all earth-power (though even that may make you stand in awe) as compared with the unthinkable power of Him who is controlling, overruling and directing all creation that He might bring the ship of Zion safely into harbor at last."
"In San Francisco we visited the Cliff House, and could not look long enough at the great Pacific, whose waves wash the cliffs at this point. Here are the seal rocks upon which the seals were always climbing and then sliding off into the ocean. The cries of the restless sea gulls, the barking of the seals, and the rolling waves booming as they broke upon the rocky shore had an enchantment for us to whom the great ocean was yet a wonder and an absorbing mystery. As I stood watching the few lone boats so far out that the waves often hid them from view, I was impressed with the thought of their littleness and helplessness as compared with the mighty ocean upon which they rode, and which could in such a little time be lashed into fury by the wind. In a moment, as I meditated, the speck, which I knew to be a boat, became a human being, and then centered in myself, and I felt in my soul what it was to be a mere speck in the creation of God. The wind which swept over the waters was, in my meditations, the changing conditions which no one but God can control, and the threatening waves were the events of life which at best broke as 'white caps' and often formed a dreadful trough from which only the providence of God could deliver. Alarm and dreadful foreboding filled my soul as this sense of utter helplessness shut me out from the world, and the strange noises of the sea and shore battled with the overshadowing world in which the soul was living its trials over, and waiting for some mountainous wave to break over me and engulf me.
"But in this storm of the soul, a still small voice came like the brush of an angel's wing, and brought with it a calming sense of the ever present divine power whose wonderful 'peace be still' must ever hold a ruling hand over things material and immaterial, and from which blesses influence had come sweet moments of joy in the past, and now I felt in my soul were precious evidences of God's presence and care which had saved me from the 'contrary' winds on the bosom of the great ocean, on which I had been such a weakling as a mariner. With this thought, the rolling sea changed, and instead of being the type of imminent destruction, it became the speaking testimony of the power of Jesus, the Savior of sinners, to shelter our frail bark while voyaging to the safe harbor where we shall enter into eternal rest."
"We visited the great Panama-Pacific exposition. Here are erected monuments to the thoughts and deeds of men. Every building and every exhibit, is the expression of a thought, and the witness of a deed done. Beauty and utility mingled everywhere in the attempt to raise and better life by making the best of the good gifts of God to man--earth and sea and air--over which the exposition announced as attained, were included in the creative work of Jehovah, so that it speaks more for the infinite wisdom and power of the Creator than it does for the strength and skill of man, who has been so slow to comprehend and put to use what God gave into his hands. Perhaps this may have been the result of the darkening effects of sin.
"If one had been able to shut out of his thoughts the awful, devastating war in Europe, unmistakable witness and proof of the wickedness and sin-corrupted condition of men, he might have concluded from the mingling of nations in the exposition, that improvement of the race was spiritual as well as intellectual and material. But the thunderous roar of cannon, mingled with the cries of perishing men, women and children on land and sea, trumpeted the truth which God long ago proclaimed, that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Then, too, one had only to observe and think, to see that amidst the evidence of God's power and wisdom shown in the exposition, that men had forgotten the Creator, and covetous hearts and hands were reaching out mercilessly in selfish greed. So it was with mingled thoughts, wondering at the creation of the infinite God, and disgusted and ashamed of the groveling minds of men who put God out of their thoughts, that I viewed the exposition--the 'Jewel City.'
"The 'Tower of Jewels,' called forth the admiration of all, with its sparkling points, glinting in the day under the sun's rays, and at night from the battery of search lights turned upon it. But in a few short months and the fair grounds, with its great buildings, its gaudy exhibits, its hurrying crowds, the noisy cry of those who vend their wares, will have dropped into the past; the buildings be despoiled, the tower of 'jewels' will be a wreck, the streets be obliterated, and instead of illumination will be darkness. How like the passing show is time and material things, the things that perish with the using. The blare of earth's trumpets will pall upon the ear, and like the weary crowd, that with tired limbs, turns from the 'courts of beauty' shall earth's travelers turn to the 'exits' to lay down in sleep. Blessed are they who, while using God's good gifts with thankfulness, look beyond the gift to the giver, and reckon that if He has filled the earth with the evidences of His power and goodness, heaven, His highest and most glorious habitation, shall indeed bring forth from the blood-washed throng that is brought into it, praise unto Him in music that is heavenly for harmony and joy.
"We turned away from the fair. We had not seen it all. To see it all how tired one would grow. We had not tired of the good meetings in Los Angeles and vicinity. Our minds turned to brethren gathering at different points ahead of us, and interest in the fair was lost. May we be able to turn from the allurements of the world to the sweet service of God. We ought not to want all the world, for after awhile how tired we shall be of it. But the love of brethren, and the enjoyment of God's service, should grow sweeter as we come nearer to the 'true jewel city,' whose brightness will not grow dull, nor the light fade, for God and the Lamb are the light of it."
"On Saturday morning we set out for the Cowlitz river country. It was a wonderful drive down through the fir forest, and finally we came to the beautiful and wonderful Cowlitz river. Charlie stopped his auto in the center of the bridge over the river, where we were eighty feet above the swirling, hurrying waters, that we might get our 'eyes full' of the wonderful, entrancing scene before us. No pen can tell it, no painter's brush can ever do it justice. The deep, perpendicular walls of curious rock seemed to have been forced apart by a power the mind cannot comprehend, to give the crystal waters room to pass, and all this is brought in beautiful relief by the forest foliage, which lifted high by the heights on either side, seems like a curtain let down from the heavens to thrill and awe the human heart with the wonderful works of the Almighty. It was with regret that we felt the clutch respond to the power of the restless motor, which seemed like an intruder from the haunts of men in this place where nature's charm hushes the soul, and bids it be still in amazement that so much beauty can be thrown around a spot below the skies. But I thought next day, What a small circle encloses the human mind, when on the banks of the beautiful Cowlitz river we met in the Sulphur Creek meeting house, and I looked into the faces of those whose spiritual vision had been lifted so high that heaven, and the wonderful works of grace, were within their horizon, and light from on high beamed in their countenances with a flush that is like the rays of the sun upon the clouds when his course is run, his great work for the day is finished, and he sits upon a throne of glorious light that beautifies all that it touches, and I saw clearly we ought not to be so far carried away by the thoughts of nature's beauties as to forget the greater works of nature's God in lifting a poor sinner from his condemned state to the heavenly place where faith, hope and love make all things new with a consciousness of God's presence and love."
"The interesting sights that we saw as we came down the Bear River canon, among which were the government conduits of the irrigation projects which were being put into operation to cause the arid country to blossom and bear fruit, led me to meditate a great deal as to whether this might be used as an illustration of spiritual barrenness and fruitfulness. In my reflection on the several passages which use water as an emblem, I came to the conclusion that we might learn a lesson from the use of water for producing abundant crops. Jesus said in His sermon on the mount, 'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.' Thus the quickened soul is likened to a thirsty soul. 'My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.' - Psa. lxiii. 1. He is like a flag that must have water or wither. 'Can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in its greenness, and not yet cut down, it withereth before any other herb.' - Job viii. 12.
"Of course water which ministers to life is not the very life itself, but that which strengthens and revives. Our spiritual life is from God, and is given unconditionally. But there may be barrenness, and this is spoken against. Every branch that beareth not fruit is taken away; it withereth like the flag, though it be not cut down. The process with the barren tree was to dig around it, and use proper fertilizer, that it might bear fruit (Luke xiii. 6-9), for 'herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.' - John xv. 8. In keeping with the figure used by Paul in I. Cor. iii. 6, the ministry of the gospel is watering plants that they may grow and bear fruit. And the church is like a 'watered garden' under this figure. The Spirit says 'Come' and take of the water of life, and the voice of the church is the same, always pointing to the blessings and benefits of grace, and the promises of the gospel. And 'him that heareth' is to speak of the benefits of the water of life, and invite to the partaking of it. And those who thirst are invited or exhorted to come, and in fact all who have been given a thirst, "Let him take of the water of life freely.' That is, the enjoyment and use of such things freely as pertain to the satisfying of the thirst that is begotten by the indwelling life."
"I found in the religious experience of the Baptists of the West what corresponds to the transformation of the country by bringing water into the arid region. Religiously speaking, when they came to the West there was nothing but sagebrush - no preaching, no church, no services ministering the truth; a dearth of the things the quickened soul longs for, thirsts after, in its normal state in which the spirit is not quenched (I. Thess. v 19), where the 'cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches' have not choked the word so that the child of God 'becometh unfruitful.' But as time moved on, one would hear of kindred souls in faith and experience, and he would travel miles and miles to just see and speak to them. And finally churches were organized, refreshing seasons were enjoyed, and their souls were revived. The churches where we visited were like irrigated gardens.
"But many were the cries I heard from those who felt the desolation where only earthly association is to be had, where, to the spiritually minded, only sagebrush grows, upon which nothing (no spiritual desires) feeds. Strange as it may seem, people will go to a section of the country that they know does not have rainfall sufficient for the fruitage of crops, without assurance of water being brought to it. But this is no more strange than it is to see those who have tasted the water of life leave off the associations and ministrations which revive and stimulate spiritual growth and thought, as though there was no blessing or comfort in anything but earthly pursuits and pleasures. They who neglect the church and its services show themselves indifferent as to spiritual growth and fruitfulness, for of the church it is written, "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." 'All my springs are in thee.'
"And now some reader may be ready to ask, as many have asked during our travels, 'What part of the country do you like best?' We answer unhesitatingly, Old Missouri, for many reasons, but for one reason especially. There are more Primitive Baptists here. You can find more of them in a single church than you can find in a whole state in the West. And what is fine climate and scenery, and productive soil (and Missouri is not barren of these) when compared with the association of the people of God? They are 'sagebrush' as compared with spiritual surroundings and influences. When one contemplates changing his location, on what points should he make inquiry? On climate? yes; on fertility of soil? that would be reasonable; if there are schools? certainly; social conditions? if there are children to be brought up, of course this should be considered. What else? What should have been first and most important of all - What are the religious surroundings? If a Primitive Baptist church is the church of Christ, and its doctrines the truths of the Bible, and the association and fellowship of its members the best there is on earth, what kind of argument should induce a Primitive Baptist to put every worldly interest before that of the church, making it a matter to be thought of, if at all, after everything else is settled? How can a Primitive Baptist discharge his duty to his children when he takes them where they will not hear the truth declared, and where, if the Lord blesses them with a hope, they can have no church privileges?


As this autobiography will serve as a kind of family record, as well as for information for my readers, I will give some account of our children. My wife was born November 17, 1858. As mentioned on page 3, we have had ten children born to us. Eunice, born November 23, 1877, was married to Andrew G. Samuel, May 10, 1899. She has two daughters. She became a member of West Union Church in December 1897. I had seen that she was deeply interested and spoke to her about uniting with the church. She said that she desired to join the church, but that she felt we all knew her so well she feared we could not have confidence in her. I assured her that she was taking the wrong view of the matter, and that she would be gladly welcomed. She is now clerk of the church at St. Joseph, and has charge of the "Messenger of Peace" office.
Bernard was born August 29, 1879. He enlisted in the Spanish-American war and was sent to the Philippines. I suffered much at his going, thinking of the moral surroundings of soldiers often. A brother preacher told me to look on the bright side. I replied that there was no bright side. I have been reproved much for that thought, for there was still a God to whom prayers could be offered, and who was full of mercy. He served his term of enlistment, returned home, and united with the church at West Union, and he and his wife were baptized at the same time, she uniting with the church at St. Joseph. She was Etta L. Lillpop, and they were married April 30, 1905. They have a daughter.
Vida, the second daughter, was born August 15, 1881. She never united with the church, but gave unmistakable evidence of her love for the church and its services. She died August 21, 1903, at our home near St. Joseph.
Lois Agnes, born April 19, 1884, united with the church in May 1904, at St. Joseph. I had preached on the text, "O thou worm Jacob." When the invitation was given she started from her seat in tears exclaiming, "O papa, what a worm." She was married June 23, 1909, to Russell A. Brown, son of the late Elder W. T. Brown. He is a member of the church also. Their home is near Warrensburg, Mo., at present. They have a son and daughter.
Mary Elizabeth, born September 15, 1886, united with the church in St. Joseph in 1903. She served as clerk of the church here several years, but at this time is in Los Angeles, California.
Lorraine was born November 19, 1888. She united with the church here in May, 1903, and she and Mary were baptized at the same time in July. She was married to David T. Brewster, October 7, 1915.
Erle Hines was born February 22, 1891. He has never united with the church. He was married to Virginia Douglas Magee, April 30, 1917. They have one son. He is in business in Kansas City, Mo.
Mildred Allen was born September 5, 1893. she united with the church in September, 1920, in St. Joseph. She is with Mary in Los Angeles.
Loyd Bentley was born January 30, 1896. He was married to Grace Guhne, November 22, 1919. They have a daughter. He is not a member of the church.
Walter Allison, the youngest, was born June 15, 1898. He united with the church at the same time Mildred did and they were baptized together. He was married to Tina Lucille Mehrtens, October 1, 1921. They have one daughter.
I baptized the seven of our children who are members of the church.


I was called to the pastorate of West Union church, near Bucklin, Mo., at the September meeting in 1880. This church was constituted December 19, 1844, with eight members. For several years the meetings were held some six or seven miles northeast of Bucklin, the most of the time being held at the home of my Grandfather Burk. During the Civil War the meetings were discontinued, but at its close were resumed, the church meeting at different points for convenience in and around Bucklin, the church having no church house. The church erected a comfortable house of worship in the year 1899, in which the church continues to meet. This church has never had a large membership, and several times has become very weak by deaths and removal of members. But it has always had a few devoted and sacrificing members. The congregation is low at present on account of nearly all the old resident families having sold out and moved away, and the newcomers having formed their church affiliations before coming in, go to the towns for services. I served the church as pastor until May, 1924, a period of nearly forty-four years. Elder S. L. Pettus, who lives nearer the church is pastor at the present time.
I became pastor of Liberty church, near Linneus, Mo., in November, 1881, the former pastor, Elder Wilson Thompson, having died September 6, 1881. This was a good strong church, not so much from having a large membership, as from the character of the membership, which was made up in part from several old Baptist families which were noted for stability and devotion. The active membership is at present much reduced, but still devoted to the Primitive Baptist faith. I served the church as pastor until May, 1910, a period of twenty-nine years and six months. Elder S. L. Pettus is now the pastor.
Sardis Church, in Chariton county, Mo., was built up under my ministry. An "arm" of West Union church was first extended, and the church was constituted in June, 1883. I served at this place five years. This church went down. Concord church was situated south of Laclede, Mo. I attended this church for about two years, but being a weak church it dissolved and the members mostly went to Liberty church. I commenced preaching for Bear Creek church, near Hannibal, Mo., in 1890, and served the church thirteen years, but discontinued visiting the church after moving to St. Joseph. The church has dissolved, and deeded its property to the cemetery association.
My connection with Little Flock church, St. Joseph, Mo., dates from December, 1899, when I was called as pastor. The members who constituted Little Flock church belonged to the First Nodaway church, and had first an arm of the church extended so that they might receive members. The church was constituted October 29, 1853. The church for many years met in a union house north of St. Joseph, called Jim Town church. This church excluded seventeen members in 1895 for espousing the eternal vital union theory which was advocated by Elder H. S. Cloud. The meeting place of the church was changed to a rented house in the city in August, 1902. In 1907 a substantial house was built at the corner of St. Joseph and Myrtle Avenues, which has since been occupied. But the city having taken over the property for park and boulevard purposes, a lot has been purchased at the corner of 28th and Olive Streets on which to build a new house. January 2, 1909, Elder J. C. Jones was called in the pastorate with me. He is a true yokefellow in the ministry. The church has two meetings a month, Brother Jones preaching at one of them, and I occupy at the other. I am now serving in my twenty-sixth year as pastor of this church.
I was asked to assist Elder George E. Edwards in the pastorate of Little Zion church, Macon county, Mo., in February, 1897. Was called to the pastorate in October, 1901, and served until August, 1905. While I was serving the first year the members were in the habit of making contributions to the pastor individually. When the year was up they asked me if I would serve another year. I told them that my circumstances were about as they had been, and I could do so if they would make a change in their manner of making contributions to me. They had been asking me if the church was treating me right, which left the matter for me to decide on what the church should contribute. I told them that this was not right, that the church should decide this matter, and that therefore I wished them to take the apostolic way of doing business, and put their funds into the hands of the deacons, and they, with him, could decide what they should do, and they would then be doing it in such way that they would know what they were doing, and they would not need to ask me anything about it. They made the change at once. This has for many years been a strong church, the membership most of the time numbering about one hundred. Elder J. E. Goodson's membership was with this church. Elder G. E. Edwards is pastor now.
I commenced regular attendance at Sardis-Bethlehem church, in November, 1912. This church was then situated in Henry county, about five miles south of Leeton, which is in Johnson county. Several years ago the church decided on changing the site to Leeton. The church put a nice basement under the house which was built in Leeton and the members bring lunch on Saturday and Sunday and have two services each day, as they do not live convenient to the church so as to have night meetings. This church has not had a large membership, but the members have been very devoted. Brother M. R. Amick, of this church, was a very active deacon, and was moderator of the Mt. Zion association for many years, and another member, Brother J. W. Russell, served a long time as clerk of the association. I have now been serving the church nearly thirteen years.
I was called to the pastorate of Sugar Creek church, near Gilman City, Mo., at the October meeting in 1921. I had for some time before been preaching at a second Sunday meeting, Elder W. R. Riggs, the pastor, being with the church on the fourth Sunday. The church house when I commenced preaching there was some two and one-half miles south of Gilman City. It was decided to move the house to Gilman City, and it was moved and enlarged in 1923. This move has proven to be of much advantage to the church, both as to the convenience of the members, and increasing the attendance at the services. This church has a strong peace-loving membership. I am still serving this church.
West Union church, Orrsburg, Nodaway county, Mo., was constituted of members who came from Union church, Indiana, and so got its name West Union. Elder R. A. Oliphant, brother of J. H. and Dr. P. T. Oliphant, of Indiana, came with this body of Baptists, and served the church as pastor until his death, which was December 10, 1910. The church was constituted in 1882 or '83. The church has a good membership of young persons at this time, while some of the original members are yet living. I was called to the pastorate of this church May 6, 1922, and am still serving them.
I have kept no accurate account of baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc. I have attended four churches nearly all the time since I was ordained, and have delivered about six thousand sermons.


Trouble had been brewing in the Cuivre-Siloam association for some years, and finally came to a climax in August, 1919, and which resulted in dividing the association. Elder E. B. Bartlett, who came from Kentucky to Missouri, had gradually assumed leadership after the death of Elder Elkins, which occurred May 26, 1911. His disposition was such that he was disliked by many. For several years before there came an actual split he had been pressing different propositions on the churches and the association for adoption. One was the adoption of the Black Rock Address. There was nothing in the Black Rock Address with which any of the churches disagreed. The churches of the Cuivre-Siloam and all her corresponding associations, have always been in harmony with the Black Rock Address, though it had not been taken up and acted upon. As there was no division on any of the points raised in it, there was no occasion. But many brethren thought because Elder Bartlett proposed it, he must have an object behind his advocacy, and so objected to its being introduced as unnecessary. His course in his own church, Elkhorn, was such that a protest was offered against him. When any members showed plainly that they disliked his course their exclusion was sought, and in several cases brought about. In the Elkhorn church part of the members withdrew and declared themselves to be the church in order. This division of the church was over Elder Bartlett. At the meeting of the association in August, 1919, Elder Bartlett had invited two preachers from Illinois to be present who were not in connection with the associations in Illinois which were in correspondence with the Cuivre-Siloam, and then invited them to take seats in the association, which invitation they accepted. This was treating the corresponding ministers with contempt. At this inconsistent action all the ministers who were present as messengers from the various associations which were in correspondence with the Cuivre-Siloam withdrew, and would have nothing more to do with the meeting. Two letters had come up from Elkhorn church, and Elder Bartlett, as moderator, had arbitrarily ruled that one of them, the one from the party that had found fault with his course, should not be read. This altogether made a real split in the association in sentiment, though the part of the association that objected to Elder Bartlett took no action at the time, awaiting action of the churches. This was all taken up in the churches before the meeting of the association in 1920, and it met as two bodies. Elder Bartlett's faction did not hold a single association in correspondence, nor was there a preacher in Missouri that supported his action by his presence.
Elder Bartlett represented abroad that it was the secret order question and the Black Rock Address that brought about the division, but such was not the case. His own church had divided before the association divided, and that question did not enter into the trouble there. Those at a distance took his version without investigation, and on this point is the reason I have introduced this matter here. Baptists should not take up with a man from a distance without learning his real standing with the Baptists as a body near home. While the majority of the Primitive Baptists of Missouri treat this subject of secret orders as most of the churches do in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and the west, letting each church decide the character of its own membership, except on fundamental doctrines and practice, yet this was not the real cause of Elder Bartlett splitting off from the churches here. He has now left the few Baptists that he succeeded in severing from their churches. This is another lesson against churches suffering a man to bring division to their sorrow and lasting regret.
All the churches and associations which were formerly in fellowship and correspondence with the Cuivre-Siloam association in the days of Elders Branstetter and Elkins, former moderators of the Cuivre-Siloam association, are now in fellowship and correspondence with the churches in the Cuivre-Siloam which rejected Elder Bartlett.


The City Foursquare
The Prize of the High Calling
Standing With the Apostles
The Silver Trumpets
Desire for the Future of the Church
The Pot of Oil
Remove Not the Landmarks
Confessing and Denying Jesus
Feeling an Interest in the Church
Support of the Ministry
He Shall Not Fail
An Appeal to the Ministry
The Deaconship



"And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth; and he measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal."--Rev. xxi. 16.

"Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."--Rom. vii. 30.

Having used the above scriptures as a text, I have been requested to write out some of the things mentioned in the sermon. There are so many wonderful things referred to in the book of Revelations that I have hesitated many times to give what has appeared to me to have been intended by the writer, as symbolical language is susceptible of different applications. But whether we feel sure of the application of many of the descriptions, we can be certain that the gloried described are not earthly things, for no worldly things could possibly measure up to the wonderful height of glory and perfection the language most certainly describes.
The glory and perfection of the holy city could not have come up from earth, and John does not leave us to form such an idea. He says, "And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Of course this is not a material city, for God is a spirit, and his kingdom is spiritual. The building of the city is not a matter of a day or a hear, but reaches over all time. Things are spoken of in the book of Revelations as though they were finished, although they may only be in the process of completion. Abel, doubtless, was a citizen of the holy city, and all who have lived since into whom has come the regeneration power from heaven, have been made citizens of the kingdom, and the kingdom, or city is not yet complete. David, speaking of this matter, said, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them." The life, character and power that transforms poor sinners to make of them citizens of this kingdom or city, comes down from God citizens of this kingdom or city, comes down from God out of heaven. It is not a work of men nor by men, it is a heavenly life and power. And so it is described as the tabernacle of God being with men, and so it is. "And He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God." The blessed fullness of the gospel blessings are portrayed, as faith would apprehend them in this life, and as they shall be fulfilled in the final consummation in heaven itself. Faith sees all tears wiped away, and that he that believeth in Jesus shall never die, as Jesus said to Martha and Mary. So in the gospel victory, the salvation which is in Christ, faith sees all pain, sorrow and death as overcome, and John writes of this wonderful work as being already accomplished while it still goes on.
So in his vision the city stood out in all its glory, and he could have no doubt that it would be completed according to the plans of the architect. Therefore he tells of the preciousness of the foundations upon which it rests and of its perfection from every point. Finally he sees it all complete, and being measured that it might be determined if there was shortage of defect anywhere. It was a golden reed with which it was measured. This signifies the divine measurement of God. The city was found to be a unit, a perfect cube. Any way it might be measured, it lay "foursquare." Only God could be its builder; to be centuries in the gathering of materials, and in construction, and then to be found without fault or failure in any part, shows that no part of it was contingent on the work or planning of man.
Paul saw how this work was to be accomplished from plan to completion. To this God-called apostle this matter was so fully revealed that he does not speak of it as a matter of speculation, but makes affirmation of the steps that mark the fulfillment of the purpose of God, who is the builder and finisher. Abraham looked for a city, whose builder and make is God. Paul saw the whole matter in such clear light that he begins where God began--with the purpose and plan. The great city, and a great one it is, is to be peopled with sinners, justly condemned for sinfulness and imperfection, but who are to be freed from condemnation, given a new life, and perfected by being conformed to the likeness of Jesus the Son of God. Paul marks the four steps necessary to the work. "Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." Note the four steps which are necessary to attainment of the end in view. Predestinate, is to purpose, plan or will. Paul puts this first, which is in proper order. First, there must be a purpose if there is to be any intelligent action, and certainly God is intelligent, for He has all wisdom. The sacred writer does not overlook this. "For whom He did foreknow," says Paul, "He did predestinate." It is inconceivable that there is anything hidden from God. So His plan will have no faults that lack of knowledge would be sure to entail. He not only know "things" but He know individuals. For "whom" He did foreknow. "Whom" would refer to individuals and not to things without personality.
The letter to the Ephesians is particularly plain on this point. "Having predestinated us." The "us refers to individuals. So the plan, or purpose of God included persons. It was not an indefinite idea, but a purpose well defined. And bear in mind that it is definite as to individuals. It is God's will to make certain persons holy, so that they shall be fitted for the holy city. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love." This marks the time before which this purpose was settled. It does not set a definite point, except that it was before all created things.
This purpose, will or predestination fixes one measure of the city, and decides the character to which the individuals must be raised, and so defines the character of the city itself. It is to be a holy city, and so the individuals which enter into it must of necessity be made holy. God predestinated the individuals, who are sinners, to adoption as His children, but their character in sin would not permit of this relation without cleansing, so He chose them in Christ, that by His atoning blood they might be made holy. Now all this was "according to the good pleasure of His will." His will and His pleasure are the "golden reed" which measures the foundation of this mighty work. If we ask about God's will as to who shall be inhabitants of the holy city, Paul answers: "Whom He predestinated."
Some will be willing to admit that God has a will about this matter, but they say some rebel against His will; that Satan is using all influences to defeat the will of God. And further, that God's plan is dependent in a measure on men to carry it into effect, and that will mean that although God had it in mind the building of such a great city, really at completion it shall not measure to the first plan. Then of course it cannot be four-square, for the city will not be as wide as the foundation is long.
But let us consider what is to be done that the city may in all ways be equal to the plan. These individuals who are included in the plan (in the will; in the predestination) must be delivered from the condemnation of the law which they have violated and against which they have rebelled. They must be justified. They cannot be justified by keeping the law, "for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Sinners must be justified by the blood of Christ. (Rom. iv. 9.) That is why Jesus came into the world. It was to pay what they owed a violated law. If righteousness could have come by the law, verily Christ would not have come. But without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Paul said of the Corinthians that they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus. Now will the justification be equal to the plan? Will all who were included in the purpose of God, be justified in the sight of God by the suffering and blood of Jesus? Yes, or else the city will not be foursquare. Jesus said the He came to do the will of the Father. This means that He came to work to the will and purpose of His Father. This work He finished, and His resurrection was a witness of its completion. So the atonement is equal to the predestination of God. Indeed there is no escape from the statement of the apostle--whom He predestinated--He also justified. As it was God that laid the sins of men on Jesus, which he put away on the tree of the cross, the sin-bearing must certainly have been equal to the purpose, and this is what is affirmed by the scriptures.
Connected with this work of saving sinners is the calling them to life. This is the work to which Jesus referred when He said, "Ye must be born again." Abraham was called of God. Paul was called by God's grace. He was a rebel against God and his church. The call was not just an intellectual appeal, it was of the Holy Spirit, and was in such power that it overcame all resistance. It was not a call of the gospel. It was not the voice of a preacher. It was a "voice from heaven." So Paul says, "Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called." The same that predestinated, the same called. If it were as men say, that men have to call by purpose, and the city could not be perfect. the plan and the preparation in Christ as a redeemer would be vastly larger than the calling. Preachers are so negligent of the duties that they ought to observe and could do, that it is certainly strange that religious persons could believe that God has left with men such an important part of the great work which is absolutely essential to perfecting His plan for the eternal heaven. Not many people act as though they really believed this, for they do not make the sacrifices that they could make, nor do the things that they could do without making sacrifices at all. People who believe that missionary work is necessary for the salvation of sinners should certainly put much more energy in their work than they do. While we believe in preaching the gospel in all the world, we do not believe that effectual calling (regeneration, making alive, giving eternal life) is dependent upon preaching, for if it was, then the city would never assume such proportions, and have equal dimensions as we are told of in the books of Revelations.
We believe that the scriptures teach that God can work independent of the teaching of men, and does do so in the regeneration of the soul. The gospel is given for our comfort and betterment, and for the good of humanity here in this world, but salvation does not depend on belief. If it does, what is that thing that must be believed? See the hundreds of different religions in the world, each sect being engaged in teaching its own theory, and trying to proselyte each other. Which faith must be believed to be saved? The fact is, that there are people in all these different creeds that have eternal life, for God will save out of every nation, kindred and family, but it is God that saves, and in His own perfect way.
Paul said, "to them who are called according to His purpose." Here the calling is according to His purpose. Paul said that he preached Christ, but it was a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God." Here it is clear that the effectuality of the gospel is dependent upon God's call having preceded it. We call especial attention to this point, that according to the Bible teaching, God calls in the great matter of saving of souls, and that this calling, or making alive is coextensive with His purpose, and the atonement by Christ. He predestinated, He calls, He justifies, He glorifies. In neither of these essential things is man included. It is by the preaching of the gospel that regenerated men and women are taught the truth of God, and are instructed in His service here in the world, but God's work in the saving of immortal soul is too important to put into the hands of man. So as Paul states, He does it.
He does not stop with the regeneration of the soul, He will glorify all that he called and justified. To glorify is to purify and spiritualize the entire man, soul, body and spirit. Three of the disciples saw Jesus glorified. His transfiguration was a change from a human life condition to the glorified state which awaits all who are justified and called by His grace. When the golden reed is applied it will be found that the number of the predestinated, the number of the called, the number of the justified, and the glorified, are an equal number--the city lieth foursquare. It could only be so because God does the work instead of depending on men. And because God does the work it can be no other way, for His work is perfect. Those who think the number of the saved depends so much on them and their work, should take a look on the other side and see how leaving any of the work for them to do certainly will ruin the looks of the city. Here God willed to put a soul, but there is a vacancy, because some of these workers through selfishness, or weakness of the flesh in many directions, failed to call that individual. Here the foundation extends beyond the bounds of the city because people spent their money for luxury, or hoarded it from covetousness, and so left many to perish for whom Jesus died.
Too much emphasis cannot be put upon the amount of energy and time believers ought to put into the service of God, but let it not be thought that our shortcomings shall mar the work of the God of all grace and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let the facts be told in burning words, that if we build "upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself, shall be saved, though as by fire." But let us not read for ourselves, nor for others, that if any man's work abide he shall be saved, and that if it be burned he shall be lost, for that is but the theory of men, and not the truth of God.
The glorious city, when complete, that is when all the material shall have been brought in, shall exceed the description of mortal tongue. It shall be large beyond human comprehension. Twelve thousand furlongs in length, breadth and height, after the measure of man. But who can tell what it means in the heavenly Jerusalem, except that it exceeds any thing, and all things, of earth. Then faith shall find her fruition, for all tears shall at last be wiped away, and sorrow, sighing and death shall be no more. The glorious light of the presence of God shall drive away night and eternal day shall come in with gladness and song, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."--Phil. iii. 14.

By reading the preceding verses we may learn that the Apostle Paul had aspirations to reach a state in life that had not yet been attained. We get a glimpse of this longing from verse ten. "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." He does not mean by saying he desires to know Christ that he has not known Him in His regenerating power, for Jesus met him on that memorable journey to Damascus and revealed Himself to him. But he desires to know and realize more of His great power by which He not only regenerates sinners, but by which He works in them to bring them finally to the resurrection, or the perfect state. The salvation of sinners is not just saving them from the just condemnation on sin, but is raising them up to a spiritual state in which they are to reach such perfection as to be made in the likeness of Christ; not in His physical likeness, but in the likeness of His perfections, which will render perfect peace and happiness possible.
The apostle says that he had not attained to this state. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." To "apprehend" is to lay hold of, and Paul, and the whole of the gospel, teaches that when the Holy Spirit lays hold on the sinner it is that he shall reach the resurrection-perfection of Jesus. This is the hope of the Christian, that he shall be brought to see Jesus in heaven and be like Him. But Paul had not reached the perfect state, and indeed it is not attainable while living the life that we now live in the flesh. But if the voice of the Spirit is heeded we shall not be satisfied and content to live a life so imperfect as to be far below out privilege of living. If we really desire and long for the perfect life, which is to be the final consummation of the salvation in Jesus, then our minds and hearts ought to be reaching in that direction.
This is evidently the state of the Apostle Paul. He says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus." He confesses to his present state of imperfection, in which when he would do good evil is present with him, but he is not willing to be held in entire subjection by indwelling sin. And so he puts these things behind him, keeping his body under, and not dwelling on worldly things--"forgetting those things," he reaches forward to attainment not yet gained, and throws his whole heart and mind in this direction, and states the attitude of his soul in the words of the text--"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Let us note the points which are raised in this expression:

1. There is a prize.

2. To attain that prize we must go toward the mark, or an objective point that is ahead of us.

3. This prize is of such value that we should "press" toward the mark for its attainment.

That there is a blessing in the gospel for those who live godly none who know the scriptures will deny. Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate," and declares that the strait gate and the narrow way leadeth unto life, while the wide gate and broad way leadeth to destruction. In Revelations it is said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." That is, to the faithful there is a fullness and joy of life, while they that live after the flesh shall die; that is, lose the "joy" of their salvation. To him that "overcometh" various promises are made, such as, "I will give to eat of the hidden manna," and "he shall be clothed in white raiment." The things here mentioned that shall be given to the overcomer are the "prize" spoken of in the text.
The prize is designated as "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The literal Greek rendering is, "Brethren, I myself do reckon not to have laid hold; but one thing--the things behind forgetting, and to the things before stretching out, towards the goal, I pursue for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus." Those who are to consider this matter have a like high calling with the Apostle Paul. They are not called to the apostleship as he was, but their calling into the service of God is a "high" calling. It is not a worldly calling, but a calling from on high, and it is a calling to higher things than the things of this world. It is a calling in Christ Jesus which means that it pertains to the salvation that is in Christ. It is not for worldly honors nor for worldly gain; but to a hope of heaven and to a pure service of love, and a peace and joy in that service is unspeakable and full of glory. We are called away from the lower things of the flesh to the higher contemplation of spiritual things and the enjoyment of the love and fellowship of saints. This calling brings with it the privileges of the church and communion with the people of God. The calling is by the favor and grace of God, so those to whom evidence is given of it should have hearts of thanksgiving and be full of gratitude, for they are called from a state of condemnation to freedom from the curse of the law, to an inheritance, incorruptible, that fades not away, which is reserved in heaven for them. And they are called to live a higher life in thought and deeds, and so the prize connected with this calling is not to be compared with earthly expectations.
In 1 Corinthians ix. 24-27, the Apostle Paul brings out a plain illustration: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? so run that ye may obtain." Obtain what? The prize, most certainly. In the race first mentioned, all fun, but all do not run so as to win the prize. He exhorts the Corinthians to "so run" that they may obtain, giving us the plain inference that though we as believers are in this race, we may not so run as to obtain all that is for believers to obtain in this life in gospel obedience and humble submission to the will of God. In the first chapter of Peter's second epistle he insists that there is a result much to be desired by knowing and doing the will of God. To some it is given to have ministered unto them as "abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." These are they who, giving all diligence, add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc. The things mentioned, Peter says, will make one neither barren nor unfruitful. That is, they shall obtain the prize. "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." But why multiply texts when this teaching is in perfect agreement with the whole of the scriptures? "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
I next consider the "mark" to which we are to press. I firmly believe that it is a truth that as professed Christians we live too aimlessly, having no fixed thing before us to which we are prayerfully desiring to attain. Our view of Christian attainment is much too superficial. We may have before us that they who have a hope should become church members; and they should. But if all became church members, and only attained to a low degree of spirituality, there would be little joy and blessing in church membership. The members of the Laodicean church were severely reproved because their spiritual vitality was so low--they were lukewarm. They perhaps thought all that was required was that they keep up their church friendship, not remembering that the Lord looks on the heart.
The church at Ephesus was sound in the faith, and abounded in works, but Jesus told John to say to them that he had something against them. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love." They kept up the form as church members should, but they had lost sight of the "High calling of God in Christ Jesus," and only aiming at a mark that was much too low. How high and sacred is that calling! Paul wrote (1 Cor. i.) to those "that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." What is the distinction and character given in the scriptures of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints? Are they the worldly, giddy, highminded, lovers of folly and pleasure, and companions of those who know not God? No, verily; they may be the poor and afflicted, but they serve the true and the living God, and have for their lovely and shining example, Jesus, the Son of God. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." How truly spiritual was this picture!
Dear brother, sister, have you a character like this before you unto which you are pressing? If not, how can we expect to enjoy the fullness of the Gospel promise and the strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit, when instead of pressing toward a spiritual life we quench the Spirit, and keep not ourselves in the fellowship of those who entertained and held to these scriptural ideals. The high mark or character of a Christian is held up in the gospel as one who bears the fruit of the Spirit, and not the fruit of the flesh. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance * * and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." If this picture of a Christian character could but be kept before us more constantly that we might try our lives by it, might it not result in good for us? How like the character of our blessed Lord this description is. The love, the meekness, the longsuffering, the gentleness, goodness, faith and temperance, how beautiful when exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. How beautiful these traits are when seen in His saints. Are we going toward them? "Ah," we say, "I am far from this mark." But did you not notice that the apostle says that he is going toward the mark? He ways very plainly that he is not perfect and that he has not attained what his soul longs for, but "one thing" he does, he goes "toward" the mark. When we give way to worldly ways, to anger, hatred, indifference, coldness, neglect of duty, slackness toward the church, prayerlessness and little faith, are we keeping the mark in view? Lastly, I turn to contemplate the manner of the apostle's effort to show his interest in obtaining the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I would that we might have it written on our memories and in our hearts to remain forever ineffaceably. Our neglectful, indifferent natures need the full force of this so much. Let us read it--"I press toward." The importance of the matter makes it urgent. As Paul sees it if he is to have an "abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;" if he is to eat of the hidden manna; if he is to be given the crown of life; if he is to be made a pillar in the temple (church); if he is to keep in fellowship with the apostles and prophets, and be a partaker with the sufferings of Jesus, and know the wonderful and gracious resurrection power of Jesus in sanctifying the inner man, he must be pressing toward the mark, and not away from it. He must be going Christward in character, and not more worldly. He must be making sacrifices for the cause, and not growing more and ore covetous and miserly.
Ah, I see why he is "all things to all men" that by his self effacement he might influence others to follow Christ, he is pressing toward the mark. I see why he turns from the golden opportunity of an educated man, with high birth connections, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, and taste heavenly joy, and feel the strength of the Almighty moving within him, so that he could say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me." I say he chooses this rather than the fading pleasures of the world, and the deceitfulness of its tawdry trappings. Truly, the Apostle Paul had the prize in view and let not the mark get out of sight.
How is it with us, brothers, sisters? Do our churches show that the members are pressing toward the mark? Or is it sometimes the case that we feel the sad lack of this interest and zeal that should characterize those who have clear ideas of gospel blessings? Remember, Jesus said, "Strive." We have much to dampen our ardor. The world, the flesh and the devil would turn our love to lukewarmness, and our zeal to careless indifference. Jesus said, "Watch and pray." If we are to be going toward the mark we shall need to be doing both. Peter exhorted, "giving all diligence." There is no time for idleness. In the morning we should remember that going toward the mark means shaping our character by the divine model. We are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Think that this change is to prove what the good and acceptable will of the Lord is by the renewing of the mind, not the regenerating of the heart that has been done already. But we are to set our affections, not on things in the world, but set them on things above.
We shall need constantly to pray for strength and wisdom from above. We shall need to put on the whole armor of God that we may resist all the fiery darts of Satan, and having done this them to stand, not in our own strength, but in the armor of God. Brethren, are you living an aimless spiritual life? Live it no longer. Think about the prize that is set before you, even as Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." And as you value love, fellowship and joy in the gospel, study the gospel description of what a believer should be, and then with all your strength and faith i God get the mark squarely before you, and by God's help be pressing toward it, and resist every influence to draw you away from it.
Indifference and carelessness about keeping up church membership is very far from the spirit which moved Paul to write these words. And it is very far, too, from the life he lived, for when he came down to the close of life he said he had fought a good fight, had kept the faith, and was ready to depart in the fond expectation of receiving a crown of righteousness, which will be the full joy that the righteousness of Christ will give to all that love His appearing. May the high ideal of Paul's life be our fond desire, and may we labor for it.


(Synopsis of a sermon delivered at the meeting of the one hundredth session of the Fishing River association, held with New Hope church, Richmond, Mo., September 23, 1923.)
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and prayers."--Acts ii. 42.

We are trying to keep in mind during this meeting that this association has been organized one hundred years. It is customary on most occasions when a meeting is called to celebrate a long space of time, to compare the small beginning with the progress that has been made. Being interested in machinery, I visited Machinery Hall during the world's Fair at Chicago, and in the transportation section saw, side by side, the first locomotive that drew a train in the United States and one of the then modern locomotives. What a great difference there was! I saw an old-time reap hook, and near it one of the combined harvesters that delivers the grain in the bag after taking the heads of wheat from the stalk. So, we might go on calling up the evidences of progress, and this in material things is all right, for in all things that men do there is room for much improvement.
But upon this occasion we were told by the moderator (Elder Higdon) that this association stands just where it did one hundred years ago in doctrine and practice, and he called attention to the fact that a local paper had made a statement that the organization had stood without making any effort to get members or to grow. The newspaper men did not understand the difference in keeping up an organization and saving souls. There has been a faithful effort on the part of the members during all the past years to keep up the organization, and the present members understand that it will take faithfulness on their part, and continued effort, that the organization, considered locally, shall not go down. It is true that there has been no change in the original tenets and practice with that end in view.
It is rather a strange thing in this day of invention and progress in material things to find an organization celebrating the fact that there has been no change in its manner of service, nor form of organization, in one hundred years. The order of service is the same, there is no change in the matter preached, the songs are much the same in word, and absolutely the same in sentiment. The church is still without a single auxiliary and contemplates no change for the future.
No doubt, some of my hearers have heard that the reason we continue the same is because we are old fogies, old fashioned, ignorant, and take pride in being odd. Now, I have it in mind to tell you why we try to remain the same in doctrine and practice. It is not because we are "old fogies." The educational influences that are around other people are around us, and our people are on an average with other people in intelligence, and we use all the useful modern inventions.
We are not "ignorant." We stand side by side with other people in material progress, and we read our Bibles as much as other people do. Now, listen, while I tell you our reason for not trying to improve on the ways of our fathers in religion. It is because our religion is God-given, and men cannot improve what God has given. He has all wisdom; there can never be anything new with Him. He cannot improve on His own ways, for all that He does is perfect. If men can improve on God's doctrines it must be because they know more than God know. If men can improve on the practices of the church, it must be because God did not see that time would change and demand something different to what was suitable in the time of Christ.
We do not want to try to improve on the Bible, because we believe it to be the word of God. If it is not the word of God then we may discard all it says in regard to salvation. We believe the first verse in the Bible--"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." If it can be proven that this is not the truth, then it is not God's word, and we without guide or compass. It is not because we are behind the times that we refuse to accept the statements of so-called scientific men, but because the statements which used to be called scientific have been discarded because of later discoveries, and those made now may have to be altered. But we believe God's word will stand, and we aim to stand by it.
We believe that God created man, not an animal without intelligence that later developed into man, and the reason we so believe is because the Bible so states, and we accept it as God's word--and we do not intend to be moved from it. As with these things, so with other matters which pertain to man, sin, and salvation. We are not moving with much of the modern thought in regard to the Bible, because it makes void the word of God. Here we plant our feet, and by God's help we shall not be moved from God's word.
Jesus lived on the earth, and taught His disciples, and showed by many signs and wonders that He was in truth God. He endowed these apostles with light and power from on high that they might set in order the things in the church. We accept them an infallible, because Jesus selected and endued them with power from on high. Desert this position and the whole of the New Testament must be thrown away. We are not going to throw it away. Our very first article of faith asserts our confidence in it. "We believe that the scriptures comprising the Old and New Testaments, as given in what is known as the King James Translation, are of divine authority, and are to be taken as the only rule of faith and practice." It is not "old fogyism" to believe in the Bible as being true, and revealing the perfect will of God. We are standing where the New Testament churches stood, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." To thus stand we must believe that all men are dead in sins, and this sin must be put away be the death of Christ and the benefits of His death applied by the Holy Spirit.
We believe and teach as our fathers did, not only one hundred years ago, but many hundred years ago, what God has purposed in regard to salvation, and that it is entirely of His grace and power. We preach that all who believe, being quickened by the Holy Spirit, obtained this inheritance, "being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."--Eph. i. II. We are standing steadfastly by the preaching of the Apostle Paul, who taught election and predestination. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption to the good pleasure of His will."--Eph. i. 5, 6. We do not preach this in order to be different from other men, but because we would rather teach the doctrine of the apostles and stay in their fellowship.
We do not believe the things that are falsely said of us on the doctrine of predestination, that men are moved to evil by the predestination of God. Men transgress the law of God and do wickedly contrary to His expressed will and word, but as men must be saved from sin by God, He wills to do it before He does it, and that is predestination. Many are turning away from these doctrines, but we would continue to advocate them, for those who reject them turn away from the teachings of the scriptures, and are not in fellowship with the apostles who taught them.
Those who reject the doctrine of predestination think that we do away with the accountability of man, but such is not the case. All men are accountable to God for their moral acts, and not only individuals, but nations as well, and God will judge that people who disregard His law. Their being dead in sin does not absolve them from the obligation to keep the law of right. They cannot save themselves from the condemnation in sin by morality, for if justification could come through the law them Christ would not have died. (Gal. ii. 16.)
Not only are all men in nature held accountable for the violation of God's law, but His redeemed and regenerated children are also held to account, and those who transgress are chastised unless they repent. Having been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and given eternal life, they do not fall away so as to be lost, but are corrected here, even as we correct our children but do not condemn them to death when they disobey. (Rom. xiv. 10-12; Rom. ii. 6-10; 2 Cor. v. 10.)
One of the essential things upon which we differ with others is on the subject of the atonement. We all teach that Christ died, but differ greatly about the result of His sacrifice. The Bible teaches that He died for the sins of individuals. Paul said, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." This is what is termed "special redemption." Religionists generally teach that there is nothing certain about the result of Jesus' death, as it depends on man to set the limit, the church setting the limit by either carrying the gospel to others, or not doing so. They teach that each man determines for himself whether the blood of Jesus shall be effective in his case.
We do not receive these teachings, rather standing with the scriptures in affirming that Jesus' blood atones and assures salvation to all for whom it was offered. This salvation is so much broader than the Arminian idea. With them, God's love, Jesus' death, and the influence of the Holy Spirit, effect nothing unless man consents to it; but we accept the Bible idea that God's love, the atonement of Jesus, and the sovereign will of God in regeneration assures the salvation of an innumerable company out of all nations and peoples. A real difference between us and others is as to whether Jesus shall be defeated in his efforts to save sinful men. Conditionalists depend upon preaching, we upon God's power in regeneration to change and save men. Our reason for contending for these things is because they are found in the doctrines taught by the apostles.
One of the doctrines taught by Jesus and the apostles was the necessity of being born again. This is not a moral act of man, but the creative act of God. The children of God are such because created in Christ Jesus. (Eph. ii. 10.) We hold it necessary that persons coming to the church for membership should give such evidence of the work of grace in their hearts, and we cannot fellowship any body of people as being the church of Christ unless this is one of their tenets.
Jesus said, "Ye must be born again;" Paul said, "You hath He quickened," and Jesus affirmed, "I give unto them eternal life." This is not the result of the will of man or his works, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. (John i. 13.) Men are not exhorted to be born again, as it is God's work to give life.
We do not emphasize these doctrines to be odd and old-fashioned, it is a vital matter with us to teach the doctrines of the Bible, and when other people forsake these doctrines we dare not go with them nor bid them Godspeed. We believe in a church on earth, and that this organization is to be identified by its doctrine and practice. If the doctrines and practice of an organization do not harmonize with Bible teaching we cannot recognize it as a church of Jesus Christ. Belonging to the church is not a saving act, but is essential to keeping gospel requirements, and proper baptism is essential to church membership.
We believe and teach that John baptized Jesus in the river Jordan in such form that it is likened to a burial. All well informed historians concede that the apostles baptized by immersion in water. We hold, and the church of Christ has ever held, that three things are necessary for valid baptism--first, a true believer, one who is born again; second, a legal administrator, that is, one who is a member of the church of Christ; and third, the proper mode.
Many think it strange that we do not recognize the baptism of other denominations. The reasons are plainly to be seen when these principles are applied. Most denominations are not particular as to whether candidates show evidences of regeneration. This is absolutely a vital point.
The next point is, that those who baptize them in other denominations do not receive and teach the doctrines that we believe must be held to identify the true church, so they have no right to baptize. These preachers might be good men, and really be children of God spiritually, but all the children of God do not belong to the militant church, and when they do not, they cannot claim to have the rights and authority of members. Just any man, and every man, has not the authority to baptize. Even as Jesus called and ordained His apostles, so now, men to have the right to baptize must be called of God, and their call recognized by the church, and they ordained by the presbytery.
Some may say, "Well, I am satisfied with my baptism." We say, "All right, stay with it. If you believe the doctrines and practices of the people who baptized you, you are consistent to keep your baptism. But if you have come to see that the doctrine you professed when baptized is not Bible doctrine, and you want to profess the truth before men as you understand it now, you will have to make void your baptism to do so--you cannot stand before the world consistently professing two doctrines."
We cannot recognize sprinkling as baptism. The Roman Catholic Council at Ravena, Italy, first authorized sprinkling, or pouring, for baptism in 1311. If we keep in fellowship with the apostles we cannot recognize some other authority for the form of baptism. John Wesley said, "The ancient manner of baptism was by immersion." Luther's translation of Matt. ii. 1, is, "In those days came John the dipper." If one came to us and asked us to receive him as being baptized, when he was sprinkled, and we asked him by whose authority he was sprinkled, if he answered truly he would have to say by authority of the Roman Catholic council first. The only authority we recognize is Christ and His apostles, would be our answer. Now, do not call us old fogies because we do not recognize sprinkling as baptism, remember our position, that to be the church of Christ as a body we must remain steadfast to the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and practice.
We cannot recognize a body that practices sprinkling, or pouring for baptism, or baptizes infants, which was not authorized until the third century, therefore, too late to have apostolic approval. We do not recognize the authority of the Roman Catholic organization, or any other body to make changes in doctrine or practice, nor do we assume such power. we did not dome out of the Roman Catholic church, hence are not Protestants, as are those who came out of that body, having only the baptism that they there received from it, as the Episcopal church in which John Wesley lived and died. we respect the members of these organizations as neighbors and friends, and can have Christian fellowship for all of such as show evidences of being born again, but we cannot recognize them as churches of Jesus Christ, nor receive their works as churches.
Now, we plead with all such to consider the principle of our stand. We are determined to continue steadfastly in the apostles' fellowship as well as in their doctrine. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" To be in fellowship with an organization is to be agreed with it, and we are not in agreement, either in doctrine or practice, with organizations which have been instituted since the days of the apostles.


"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Make the two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them; That thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeyings of the camps."

It is generally conceded that the things written in relation to ancient Israel, were not only history, but they are typical of things that pertain to spiritual Israel, and to the militant church. So they are written for our learning. Then the two silver trumpets have a meaning for us if we may but be able to find the lesson. When we have found it, if perchance we do find it, then we should apply it and profit by it. As they had to do with the calling Israel together, and to the journeying of the camps, it seems that we might find something in our day that would answer to them, for Israel needs to be gathered together now, and there is constant need for directions in her journeyings.
Perhaps my hearers will at once think of the proclamation of the gospel. That is what came to me one night while I thought upon the silver trumpets. The subject came to me in a dream of the night. There is something fascinating in thinking of the camps of Israel, listening for the sounding out of the trumpets. Sometimes it is a far distant call, but the silvery softness of the tones comes on the air as sweet music when it is a call to assemble. So I heard them in my dream, and when I awakened I found myself listening if I might catch the mellow tones again, and know why they were sounding. I could not dismiss the matter from my mind, and so gave the time to musing on what the trumpets that Moses was commanded to make might mean to us.
As indicated in my remarks before, I could but think that in some manner the lesson was in regard to the preaching of the gospel. But why were the trumpets to be of silver? There were different kinds of horns and trumpets in use. There were the trumpets of rams horns, brazen trumpets, etc. But these were to be of silver, and no doubt this was significant as used in this place. Trumpets were used much, and referred to often. Joel was told to "Blow the trumpet in Zion." Jesus referred to trumpets which gave an uncertain sound. John said he heard a great voice as of a trumpet. In many places it seems to refer to preaching the gospel. But why two trumpets? I became wide awake while I thought on this. Finally it came to me as though light had suddenly been turned upon the subject. When you hear a minister preaching the gospel in word only, the words may be the truth, but they may lack something to bring it to the soul. I thought I saw the meaning; and it came to me with such clearness that it brought a rejoicing to my heart--it lacks the other trumpet. If when the preacher speaks, the Spirit does not speak with him as it were, how hollow and dry are the words of the man. But when he speaks in the Spirit it comes as real gospel, and spiritual Israel hears. So men cannot learn to preach in power and demonstration of the Spirit, and cannot of themselves build up and edify the church. The church may ordain men, but if they do not hear the other trumpet sounding when they speak, the ordination will be in vain. When a test is applied as to whether there is really a gift to preach, we do not just decide that the man is sound in the truth, and has a flow of language, there is something else essential. We hear such men, but turn away hungry for something that we have not heard. There must be two trumpets to have a real, live gospel. They can only preach to the strengthening of the church of God when they preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.
The trumpets are to be made of one piece, or a whole piece. There is to be one theme, and therefore that there be perfect harmony in the sound there can be no mixture. The pure, sweet tone of the silver is not be ruined by the harshness of brass, nor the lower impurity of the ram's horn. There is one doctrine, one theme, the name of Christ Jesus, and He is all and all. There is none other name given under heaven or among men. He is not a Savior in part, but He lacks nothing. He is perfect in power, He offers a perfect sacrifice, and His intercession is all-prevailing. When another gospel, which is not the gospel of Christ, is proclaimed, it is easily determined that it is a mixture. The whole world tries to make a trumpet of works and grace, and this is the kind of trumpet used, but it is the sound of a single trumpet; the sweetness and depth of sound that the other trumpet gives is not heard, and spiritual souls listen in vain for it. Throughout all the ages there has been but one gospel of hope. Abel heard it, and responded with the sacrifice that typified the one offering which alone can put away sin. No matter who uses this trumpet, whether Abraham, Elijah, Isaiah, or the apostles, the sound is easily identified. The little babe knows mother's voice, and there is no other voice like it in the world. The sheep know the voice of the Shepherd, and Jesus says that His sheep knows his voice and they well do.
These trumpets are to be used for the calling of the assembly. In all ages it has been so. The truth is one and all who receive it and abide in it can be called into one assembly. The prophets were continually calling to Israel, to gather them together and separate them from the nations around them. Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ." It is the same under the gospel dispensation as under the old, the messengers of God are calling the spiritual Israel together. It is true there are many who do not hear. The world can hear one-trumpet preaching, but its ears are not tuned to hear the two-trumpet preaching. Therefore it is often repeated, "Him that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
There are no churches where there is not preaching--where the silver trumpets are not blown. This is the very purpose for which they are blown. Some try to use them to scare the wolves and dogs away, but they were never intended for that purpose. If the people of God will stand together at the call of the trumpets, they need not fear all that are on the outside. "They which be with thee, are more than they which are without," was the encouraging exhortation that Nehemiah gave out. I heard a preacher say once that Jesus sent out His preachers to feed the sheep, and he was not to throw rocks at those who might be on the outside of the fold but to feed the kids beside the shepherd's tent. I had not been in warm fellowship with him until I heard that, and I thought, If he is right on but a few things, he is right on that.
Some men try to make it appear that they are very firm gospel preachers, and at the same time it is apparent that they are trying to divide the church. You will never divide the church by blowing the silver trumpet. You might sometimes discomfit the enemy with a long blast on the ram's horn, if at the same time you break the earthen jar and bring to light the candle burning brightly within, but when trying to get the little ones within the fold, and to bring them together in love and fellowship, use only the silver trumpet, and pray God that the two may be sounding harmoniously at one time. Those whose hearts have been softened by grace have ears attuned for the soft, pure tones of the silver trumpet, and a harsher sound grates upon the feelings. It means speaking in love. When fleshly passions move the speaker you may be sure that you will hear but one tone, and it is not the glad tidings which comes with the heavenly tone that heals and calms the troubled soul. But I need not describe the effect more in detail, as you all know when you hear the gospel's call. And the preacher should often examine his spirit when he is trying to speak, to see if he may expect that it will just be him speaking, or whether he may humbly hope that the power and blessing of the Spirit will be with him, and that he may comfort the poor in spirit, and encourage those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
But there were times when but one trumpet was to be blown. "And if they blow with but one trumpet, then the princes, which are the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee." The ministers and pastors may be likened to the princes. There is but one power and call to preach the gospel. Here is a place where men may not use influence, and where they have no authority. I once knew a very devout mother who wished that her son might be a preacher. I do not question but that she prayed as fervently as one can pray for anything that God has not promised, and the son tried to do as his mother wished, but God had not called--the one trumpet that alone is to call had not sounded. And note this, that those who are to heed this trumpet call are to gather themselves together. Some preachers who profess a calling of God seem to want to keep away from all other preachers, and have things their own way. They seem to feel a little better than they think others are, and so never try to be one with others. And if, perchance they fall in with others, they want to rule over the others, and have the others fall at their feet. John fell at the feet of the angel which had shown him the wonders of the city beautiful, but the angel had heard and felt the call of the one trumpet, and said to John, "See thou do it not; for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book; worship God." When we see a professed preacher, who has a haughty and selfish spirit, it gives rise to the question whether he is heeding the trumpet which has been given to lead Israel right.
But there is something more to do than simply to gather together, there is the journeying. The daily walk and discipline of the church is at the call of the gospel, for preaching the gospel also includes all things which the children of God are to consider for their good and God's glory. The children of Israel were not only commanded to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, but they were commanded to go forward. The fact that Israel was to give heed to the sound of the trumpets in their marching indicates that there was to be concert of action. In fact there was to be unity in all things. They were to gather at the sound of the trumpets, they were to set forward when called to do so, if they were to go to war, they were to go only when the trumpets sounded, and likewise they were to obey their call for the solemn feasts and the days of gladness.
"When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward." If we would be careful to study the instructions that are given in God's word, we would see, aside from the fact that He should be obeyed because He is God, there is always a good reason, taking into consideration cause and effect. We might feel that it was rather arbitrary to arrange for those on the east side of the tabernacle to go forward at the first call of the trumpets, but the day came first to those on the east side, and the sun's warmth was felt most by them. So those who have been longest in the service should be first to respond. Then from another point this might be set aside by another consideration. There is a difference between members and a difference in our times and seasons whether we are warm or cold in our spiritual condition. As those on the east symbolized those who were nearest to the sun, and felt its rays most, so those who are most awake in a feeling sense, and who have warm hearts spiritually, should go forward at the first call. They should not wait for others, their conditions spiritually make it imperative that they go forward. Then at a second call, for the exhortations of the gospel are continually sounding "Behold I stand at the door and knock" those on the south side should go forward. The sun in his journey would now be warming them up to action. "When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey," and so on, until all are in line of march. None are to be laggards because they did not start first not remain behind because they are last in line. The term "alarm" used here does not mean danger signal, but the call to action. Every church has a name to live, should be in action. That is, should be in the service of God, both as to the public service, and as to the individual good works to which God's children are created. They are new creatures, "created unto good works which God hath ordained that they should walk in them."
Express directions are given, however, that when the congregation is to be gathered together, an alarm shall not be sounded. It seems that the word "alarm" here rather indicates a danger signal, as it would when they were to meet an enemy. Some preachers seem to feel that it is the proper thing to sound a danger signal all the time, for they are always talking against something. But when the people are to be called together, and this signifies in love and fellowship and unity of action, the gospel of salvation in Christ Jesus should be declared in all its beauty, that the hearers shall find rest in faith, and give way to rejoicing spirits.
It may be, however, that in self defense we shall have to meet an enemy that is oppressing us. But even here the same trumpets that are used to gather the people together are used. They are the silver trumpets. We sometimes see a change in trumpets made by our preachers. They have at times been loving and kind in their address, but they seem to be under the domination of another spirit at other times. The enemy is using the sword, so they take to the sword also. But Jesus says that they which resort to the sword shall perish with the sword. So the Christian who must stand in defense must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Christ met His enemies and conquered gloriously, but when He was reviled He reviled not again. And when before Pilate, in the face of the vilest of accusations He stood silent in the righteousness of His cause. A preacher should have nothing to fight with but silver trumpets, and if he resorts to fleshly weapons he must fall, for we are not to fight with carnal weapons. We fight not against flesh and blood, therefore there is no use to try to meet our enemy with flesh and blood.
"Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God; I am the Lord your God." So under any and all circumstances the glorious gospel of Jesus is to be sounded out. If we are glad, we should be glad in His name; if it is a serious, solemn time, the more we need to hear of Him and have His power and grace exalted; when we are making our offerings, self must not be felt in it--it must be a memorial of His goodness and mercy. When all is peace with us, we must still remember His name, and not come before Him only when we feel to have need.
So there is nothing more becoming to our state than to have the silver trumpets bringing to our ears continually God's goodness and mercy, and the sacrifice of Jesus, who died for our sins that we might live. We need this to call us from the ways of the world, and to keep us from its snares and pitfalls. We need to hear it to soothe and calm our troubled spirits when life's burdens are heavy, and afflictions distress the soul. And as we near the chilling river of death, and its shadows affright our souls, we should hail with delight the pure and heavenly tones of the silver trumpets which speak of heavenly rest, and a joy that shall never be disturbed. It tells of the city where there is no night, no darkness to affright, and where tears are all wiped away by God's own hand of love and power, and where no enemy can come, nor sin can pollute.
When you hear the invitation to go up to the house of the Lord, remember it is to hear the silver trumpets, and pray God that your heart and ears may be attuned to get all the sweetness there is in the joyful sound. Think of the night when the angels blew the trumpets with the glad acclaim, "Peace on earth, good will toward men," which continues as heaven's message to care- burdened pilgrims of earth.


"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: "That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets."
"That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets."
"Happy is that people that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Psalms cxliv. 12-15.

These words have been suggestive to me of important matters connected with the future of our churches. While we should make the future of the church a matter to be taken to the Lord in prayer, we cannot absolve ourselves from the responsibility which rests upon the church now with regard to what the church shall be in future years. The manner in which the members of the present generation discharge their obligations will decide in great measure what the church will be in the next generation. We should not pray one way, asking the Lord's blessing on a certain end, and then act as though we were indifferent about reaching that objective. We should not only pray that the church should be delivered from every false way, both in doctrine and in practice, but act. We should pray as did David, "Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh verity, and their right hand is the right hand of falsehood." For the church to come under the influence of error in doctrine and false practice, will be to jeopardize its interests for the future, for those who come into it will be influenced by these wrong doctrines and false ways, and this will give character to the church. We must not only be concerned about our present enjoyment in the church, but be thinking about the days when the present membership will be called from earth, and others will have to take their place if the church is to continue. We ought to be much concerned about the bringing in of those around the church who have a hope. And this concern should not be alone for their personal benefit, but for the perpetuation of the organization which the Lord has in mercy and wisdom given us.
We should never get to feel as did an old brother who objected to the erection of a larger church house when the congregation grew too large for the building it was occupying. He gave as his reason for objecting that the present house would hold all the members, and that was large enough. We should have hearts and minds engaged, as David gives expression, to think of the conditions that will surround our sons and daughters when for them shall come the "day of visitation."
This prompts the question, Is our church in such condition now, under the present teaching and practice, that "our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth?" This means having an interest in the younger generation, for it must be from our sons and daughters, and those of others of our congregations, that the church is to be built up in the future. Our ministers and members should feel and show an interest in the young people. This interest will not regenerate them, but it will bring around them an influence that may save them from error and false practices. Of course we would not want them in the church until quickened by the Holy Spirit, and this is indicated in the text by referring to them as "plants." Plants which are set in the garden of the Lord, are living plants--they are not dead sticks, but have life and can grow. They should "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Being called plants, indicates that they are to have special care. They are the special care of the Father, chosen in His love, called by His grace; but in the world is not a place where special spiritual care is given, so the church is provided for them. How fresh and beautiful the foliage of strong, growing plants, like the sweet and loving profession of those who have but recently had shed upon them the Savior's love. If the church is in right condition--rich in love, warm in fellowship, they should grow and thrive. That this state may be the lot of members who may come in, we should be prayerful and interested workers.
The object of such special care of these plants is that they may bloom and fruit and not wither away and die. General field culture does not meet their needs. They need to be studied carefully, and developed. It will not do to treat the young members with indifference, for if so treated they may grow cold and indifferent, and be lost to the church. If they are not noticed they may perhaps come to feel that they are out of place, and perhaps did wrong in coming into the church.
How good it is to see the young come into the church and abide there. David said, "I will abide in thy tabernacle forever." The soil around the plants in our garden is kept stirred up lest it get hard and impede the growth of the plants. So in the church its ministrations should have the influence of keeping the heart tender and preventing coldness and hardness. And, too, where the ground is hard the weeds will grow. So it is in the heart. Where there is spiritual hardness the seeds of worldliness will grow and these choke the good seed that they become unfruitful. This is the teaching of Jesus in the parable of the sower. (Matt. xiii.22)
It is the will of our heavenly Father that these young members "bear much." The fruit is the forming of real Christian character. The fruit of the Spirit is "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." How beautiful to see these fruits developing in the young. How discouraging to see them giddy and worldly minded. The future character of the church is depending much upon the character of those now taken into the church, so they should be considered as tender plants and in need of training.
Church troubles of any kind will be like a cold and chilling wind on tender plants. Troubles will retard growth in grace and in knowledge, and may result in their losing all interest in the church for a time. I have known the children in Baptist families who had received a hope in Jesus so affected by troubles in the church that they never united with it, and some have gone off to other people. So every member of the church should prayerfully keep hardness and bitterness out of the church, remembering the blighting effect it may have on those who should be the objects of our care now, considering the future of the church.
How important it is to see their lives settle down in the customs and ways of church membership. That is, be "Grown up in their youth." As youth is characterized by energy and joyous activity, it is much to be desired that the warmth and vigor of new spiritual life, and the joy of the newborn hope, should characterize members all the days of their lives. As old age checks activity, and leads to less interest in surrounding life, the illustration would have us take as our highest aim to have the membership of the church full of lively interest in all things that pertain to its services and high standing as the house of God, and not grow indifferent and slow to act. I have seen many who had "grown up in their youth," and what a strength they are to the church. They still manifested a warm interest in all the meetings and services of the church down to old age, the weather never being too hot or too cold for them to be present. They kept the warmth and strength of their first love to the last. They formed the habits of life while the religion of Jesus was sweet to them. What a contrast is shown between this spirit and the slothfulness of many.
But the Psalmist changes the figure and prays that our daughters "May be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace." I do not think that there is any difference really between the sons and daughters as to sex that the caused the Psalmist to change the figure. It suited his figure better to thus speak of the daughters. The scriptures are full of references to women as well as men, each in their respective places. As to their lives they are to have life and grow as plants. But to show another feature of their connection with the church they are to be as corner stones, being built into the structure, becoming a part of it and a prominent part, too. Here they are represented, not as unhewn stone, and rough as in nature, but as polished. The worldly mind, the carnal practices, and sinful ways of the world are to be taken away so that the spirit of Christ in the beauty of holiness may appear. We add nothing to a stone to polish it, we take something away. As illustrative of the above thought I will relate this incident. When in a museum of fine arts I was admiring the work of noted sculptors. On my way down an aisle I came to a rough stone, standing on a pedestal. I was surprised, and looked for some explanation, but saw none from where I was standing. So I stepped around to see what I might find. I looked around the base but saw no card or lettering, and then raised my eyes to a lwvel. To my amazement and delight I saw looking out at me a beautiful face, chiseled out of the rough stone. The artist had a lovely face in his mind, and had with his chisel cut away the rough exterior and brought out with wonderful clearness the picture in his mind.
So in the case of those members of the church properly "polished." Though at first we may have seen only a weak, human nature, and the marks of sin, but on a close acquaintance there is the face of Jesus Christ shining out from a heart of love. I call to mind a young sister who was received into the church, and who was a type of many, but whose character brought out these points a little more clearly than some others. Her emotional character was pronounced, but I wondered if she really had a clear understanding of scriptural teaching, and was spiritual in thought. She was a good, conscientious country girl, and I had no doubt that she was born again. But as I became more intimately acquainted with her I was delighted to find that her expressions showed such clearness of thought, and depth of feeling that I could but look at her in wonder. These are the characters that make for the strength and stability of the church, and for the good influence that it should give out, which is as a savor of salt. The character of the church should be such as will draw out and develop this beautiful, spiritual character in the young.
These are an ornament to the church, and are as corner stones, built in and tied to its walls so as to remain. Does our church have an influence to lead to such results? How discouraging to see in the lives of members, and hear in their conversation, nothing but what reflects a worldly mind, and perhaps a hard heart and a careless indifference! Sometimes those who were once lively members drop out of active connection with the church, and there is little in their lives to show that they are in any way connected with it. If they were built in, as corner stones, they would remain. How encouraging it is to see members remain active and warm-heartedly identified with the church down to old age.
It is a sad fact that so many seem to be but so loosely connected with the church. Any little thing breaks its hold upon them. This is especially true of young members. Often, perhaps, the church does not feel the responsibility for this falling away as it should. It should be in he hearts of the members as a loving privilege and duty to so bear themselves toward those who come into the church that it may have a life-time effect in building up within them a deep love and devotion for the church.
The church should indeed bear the "similitude of a palace." It is the royal abode of the mighty King, and in it are displayed all the richness and beauty of His treasures. Here He has set His affections, and those who have the pleasure of its surroundings are His special favorites, upon whom He has set the seal of His love. The master of the palace is the beloved Son of the King, and the charms of His person and character should lift up all with wonder and admiration. By the sacrifice of His life and the shedding of His blood, He set all the inmates free from the bondage of sin, and has planted in their hearts the love that exists between Him and the Father. Here are joys unspeakable and a soul-union that will last beyond the grave. Do all you can, brethren, to walk about Zion, and tell her glories to the generation following.
Note the next clause. "That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store." A garner is a storehouse, a place where supplies are kept. God's people are always needing supplies while traveling through this world. This brings us to a beautiful conception of the church--it is a place where we go to get supplies. Jesus said, "It is written My house shall be called the house of prayer." This is the same thought. In prayer a request is made for supplies in time if need. It certainly is a matter for prayerful thought if the condition if the church had anything to do with the garners being full! The introduction of erroneous doctrines and wrong practices in a church would soon make empty garners. How cold and formal the meetings would become! Let trouble come and peace takes its flight, and how unprofitable the services! But when all is harmony, and love and fellowship abounds, then faith is renewed, the Holy Spirit is poured out, assurance is given, joy abounds, the soul is fed and strengthened, and it often seems that the gates of heaven are opened and blessings are poured out. If the members of a church are not edified and strengthened by their attendance on the services in which they engage, the church is not supplying that for which it has its existence. It was never set up to save souls for eternity, it exists to feed, protect and make strong in faith and service the Lord's people here, that they may be an influence for good in this world, and give praise and glory to God.
Do we desire this condition to prevail? Then, of course we should pray that it may, and then show by our course in connection with the church that we are really in earnest. Think of the different garners in connection with the church. There is the garner of the gospel ministration. Then there is the garner of grace, the garner of love, of fellowship, of sympathy, of instruction and exhortation.
The garner of gospel ministration we depend upon so much, for it contains such a variety. We may come to the church bowed down with the sorrow of the burdens of life. The gospel message has such sweetness in it: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." We may come with soul-hunger for love, fellowship, and sympathy. How our craving would be mocked if we should find none of these supplies at the church. If all were hard and cold, and unresponsive, how disappointed would we be! But if the garners are full, and we meet with love in the greetings, sympathy for us in our dark days, it is as sweet to us as honey in the honeycomb, and brings rest like sweet music. Then there is the garner of grace. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."--Heb. iv. 16. It is true that we may come to the "throne of grace" at any time and from any place, but the church with all its influence leads to thoughts of the need of grace, and a proper spirit in which to approach the throne of grace. It tends to subdue enmity, to cultivate forbearance, lead to humbleness of spirit, warm up love and stimulate faith and hope. But if the spirit of the church is cold and fleshly passions prevail it is not conducive to prayer for grace. The garner is empty. The preaching and the hymns should remind us of this so much needed storehouse. We need grace to humble, grace to lift up, grace to tender, grace to give assurance, grace to melt the stony heart, grace to fight the good fight of faith. The church in a way is a gate to this garner. The way of the world does not lead to it. When we shut up the expression of love and sympathy from others it may make them feel like the garners are empty. So as we have received freely, let us freely give. Thank God for the blessings the Lord gives us through the church and its services.
David was a shepherd, and in the next clause, in praying for blessings on the church, he uses a figure that reaches toward the future prosperity of the flock. "That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets." How in keeping with the spiritual mind is the desire that the Lord's quickening power may be manifested among the children if men, and especially upon those who are near to us. It is right that we should pray to see the power of God manifested in the lives of the objects of His mercy. We should never be influenced to inactivity by the thought that the number of the saved is settled, and that the Lord will certainly give them all life and salvation, and so we need not be concerned in regard to the salvation of sinners. If God has promised a thing, that is an encouragement to pray for it, and be interested in its manifestation.
But this clause reads, "in our streets." If our church is to prosper, and be an influence for good in the world, there must be souls quickened "in our street." There will be souls quickened in other cities, and in the world, but will these be brought into our fold--the church? Our interest should be for our church, not exclusively, but intensely. If we believe in our church as being the Lord's planting, we should want it to prosper. In this sense we should desire that our children may be quickened "in our streets." Therefore we should strive to keep them under its influence, that when they are made alive spiritually they may come within the fold. This will not save them, but it will benefit the church, be an encouragement to us, and a comfort and strength to our children. I wish that every Primitive Baptist would see this as an important matter. I believe it to be one cause of declension in many churches that prayers and supplications and earnest efforts have not gone forth in this direction. I have even heard it given as a reason or excuse for not taking the children to church services that they were not interested, and do not know anything about such things. But are we not praying that the Lord may give them an interest, and open their hearts to the truth? and we should desire that when this takes place it may be "in our streets," not under the influence of those who do not hold the truth. We shall want them with us then, our church will need them, and they will need it.
There has been too much indifference about the children. Others are doing all that they can to get their children, and our children, too, into their churches. They do not ask whether they are regenerated or not. Of course this is very far from our idea of right. But in trying to get away from this error we have gone over the line into the ditch on the other side. Too often it is the case that Primitive Baptists surrender their children to the training and teaching of other people, and they become prejudiced against our churches, and if the Lord does come into their hearts and tender them, they are so tied up with other people that they are lost to our church. Not only should we keep the children under the influence and teaching of the church, but when there is reason to believe that they are truly interested we should be ready to teach them and to help them over the difficulties that may lie in their way of coming into the church. This does not show undue anxiety, it is only being in accord with the teachings of the scriptures.
Another matter of importance is brought out in the fourteenth verse, "That our oxen may be strong to labor." This word "labor" here might be translated "bear burdens." Think how necessary for a church that its pastor should be strong enough to bear burdens, and like the patient ox, to toil on under any and all difficulties. If he is not an example of patient endurance how much the cause loses! But will the condition of the church have any effect upon him? O yes. He is human; discouragement can break his resolution, and burdens be so unreasonable as to weaken his endurance. While you are praying that your ox may be strong, do not unthoughtedly and with indifference to his needs, take that course that will make his load too heavy for his strength. Have it in your mind, in your heart, and in your prayers to consider him who must bear indifference to the limit of his ability without seeming to notice; actual slight without returning it; make sacrifices without complaint; serve men as giving service to God; labor on and on without manifest sign of appreciation from others, and even see among some the disposition to muzzle him during the long treadmill journey of life.
Pray God in heaven to help, and then show a willingness yourself to help. He will need your encouragement and cooperation. Much depends upon him, but the result of his labors are either helped or rendered ineffective by the interest and coordination of the members, or their withholding it. Each member is an important factor in the efficiency of the pastor. Anciently there was a law that an ox that was treading out the corn should not be muzzled. Paul says that this was written for us that we should not tie the hands of our pastors with worldly affairs, such as having to sustain themselves and their families with their own labor, but that we should observe the Lord's rule who has "Ordained that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel." He should be so set free that he may observe the rule set down by the apostles. "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministration of the word." To give themselves continually to the study and ministration of the word would without question make them stronger, and with the Lord's blessing, to labor and bear heavy burdens.
The latter part of the fourteenth verse touches a weak spot with us. "That there be no breaking in nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets." We do not seem to reach the high point of standing shoulder to shoulder, and advancing all in line, eyes straight ahead, and with one common objective. We are too much given to shirking on each other, breaking up into little squads, or falling out entirely. Then it too often happens that he who is farthest out of line raises the loudest complaint against the rest. What a weakness this all is, and how we stand in our own way, hinder the progress of others and grieve the Holy Spirit. The great weakness of the church is the little misunderstandings and bickerings among the members that cause love to wane, and coldness to grow up as barrier to full and free fellowship. We should be willing to bear much personally for the sake of the unity of the church. One bad effect of the "breaking in and going out" is the effect on the children of the members. It weakens their confidence in the church as being a place where love and fellowship abound, and so they lose respect for it, and they attend the meetings without interest, if at all, and when the "day of visitation" comes to them they do not turn to the church as a resting place and for shelter to their souls, which now hunger for love and real sympathy. All the members should prayerfully consider what each step may count for in church unity.
The text is a clarion call to fall in line. The great Captain goes before; keep step, keep step. Do not watch your fellow soldier so closely, watch the Captain. All this breaking in and going out makes an ugly showing. Think of a company of soldiers drilling. How fine and thrilling it looks when all move as one man. Click, click. See, they are all moving with one thought; the thought is the mind of the master of the drill. How glorious the church that so moves and marches! It is like an "army with banners." Let us not be looking so many ways to criticize others; we shall get out of step. One of the rules is, "Consider the beam that is in thine own eye." Instead of complaining, let us get our shoulders under the load and lift. Better than complaining, repeat the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." The complaining spirit is the unforgiving spirit. Jesus did not complain, He prayed. The best influence to correct others is to help by example and exhortation, and not by heartless criticism and standing apart. Close up the ranks. "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together." All are to be mutual helpers of each other.
"Happy is that people that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord." True happiness of the highest kind is found in appreciation of the mercy and goodness of God, and giving thanks to HIm. The church and its service is for that very purpose. So a church in which the mercies of God are pointed out (and this is done in the gospel of Jesus), and this being comprehended, together with the heartfelt desire to acknowledge all its benefits, brings the happiest condition of human beings. David said, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Churches all in harmony, and all working together in love, bring more happiness to their members than all earthly things. The effect is contentment and strength for life's trials. A feeling that one has the love and prayers of the members is a strong support.
In trying to live without a church and its services so many of these benefits are crowded out by the things of the world, that often little is left but the hope of heaven. The religion of Jesus is a comfort, strength and joy all through life, and the church is to help us to think of, and appreciate, all that the Lord has done for us and promised us in the future. Thus it is literally true--"Happy is that people that is in such a case." If we do not appreciate the value the church, it is because we have never studied its benefits and tried to enjoy its helpful influence. To properly appraise the church is to really make the Lord our God. It leads to trusting in Him, depending upon Him, and praising HIm.


"Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord; and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondsmen.
"And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.
"Then he said, Go, borrow thou vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.
"And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and thou shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.
"So she went from him and shut the door upon her and upon her sons who brought the vessels to her and she poured out.
"And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And her sons said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.
"Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt and live thou and thy children of the rest."

This narrative of the widow and the pot of oil has been of much interest to me. I feel sure it was not put upon record just as a remarkable miracle without thought of teaching a lesson throughout all time. With this thought it should appeal to us to find what there is in our spiritual life that could compare with this account to give us encouragement and instruction. It helps so much in reading the scriptures to remember all the time that God's people for all ages have always lived as present in the foreknowledge of God, and that all the scriptures have been written as though we lived at the time things were spoken, and all to us; and we should earnestly desire to apply all to ourselves, and pray that the Holy Spirit might give us understanding, for that is one work of the Holy Spirit.
We may know by the language used that some particular thought is to be presented. "Now there cried a certain woman." Doubtless there were many widows in Israel, but as Jesus said in His sermon at Nazareth, referring to the widow of Sarepta, one is singled out, of which to speak to all the generations throughout time. "A certain woman." There are only "certain" cases that can be used as types of the God-helped sons and daughters of men. "Many lepers were in Israel in the days of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them were cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian." It is this particular, personal dealing of God with individuals that makes the love of God and His saving grace so precious. This certain woman "cried." That is the expression for the heart-call to God for help. The lepers, the blind man, the woman whose daughter was afflicted, and the publican, cried for help and healing. God's people are still crying for help because they each have their load of distress of heart. They realize more and more when they have searched their hearts that there is but one arm that can save, and one who knows them well enough, and has mercy enough, to listen to their appeal. Dear hearer, if you have ever made this heart cry, this incident was recorded that you might catch at the thought that your case is a "certain" instance of where God's mercy is to be manifested. The next prominent part is the statement of the woman that her husband was dead, and that she had been left without means, and not only without support, but hopelessly in debt. As this is a type-narrative we must consider the teaching of the scriptures on the meaning of this condition in a spiritual sense. They who are married to the law, or a conditional hope of salvation, depend upon this for their hope, and cannot claim Christ as their Savior, not needing a Savior. But when they become dead to the law, and the law is dead to them, no longer furnishing hope and support for the future, then they may be married to Christ. This explains the meaning of several cases given in the scriptures where widows are spoken of for illustrations.
When one by the light of the Spirit sees his inability to keep the law and be justified in keeping it, it becomes dead to him, and he becomes dead to it. His first husband is dead, He no longer can get comfort and hope by turning to his own acts. And not only so, but if he could keep the law faultlessly on to the end of life, past transactions have put him so hopelessly in debt that he can never get free from the penalty. The widow did not try to repudiate or deny her indebtedness, and so the poet felt when he wrote:

"And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well."

She said, "The creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondsmen." Children represent hope for the future. So the present and the future are all blighted by sin. The one having eyes to see, and a heart to understand, realizes that if it were left to him to live perfect there is no present plea nor future hope, so, as did the publican, there is nothing left but to pray for mercy. "God be merciful to me a sinner." Elisha the prophet of God said unto the woman, "What shall I do for thee?" Perhaps she had no very clear idea of what could be done for her--so hopelessly in debt and a merciless creditor to face. The law knows no mercy, it demands the life. "In the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die."
The prophet does not wait for a reply to his former question, but asks for inventory, or statement of what she had to depend upon. So it is that the prayers of quickened sinners is coupled with a heart-searching inquiry into the real condition of the soul. "What hast thou in the house?" Hast thou any righteousness that thou canst claim as thine own? Is there anything to recommend thee, even to God's mercy? Poor and weak and sin-cursed, it is no wonder that her reply was, "Not anything." "Nothing in my hand I bring." There can be no deception before God. The sinner feels that the eyes of God see the very secrets of his heart, so there is no attempt to represent that there is any goodness there. But in this case there was one exception, she said there was not anything "Save a pot of oil."
Oil in so many scriptural uses represents grace. Oil was what the five foolish virgins lacked. No oil, no light. No grace, no light in the soul. The anointings were with oil. Spiritual anointing must be by grace. The widow had a little pot of oil. Every repentant sinner has grace, though he is not able to see anything but sin. The publican prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The publican saw nothing in himself but sin, but Jesus saw grace. The Pharisee saw himself as being righteous altogether, but Jesus, nor anyone else, can see "marks of grace" in him. The publican prayed. Saul of Tarsus prayed--"Behold he prayeth;" prayer is a mark of grace. The "certain woman cried" and had nothing but a little pot of oil. When we see one praying it is a sign of grace in the heart. The widow of Sarepta, unto whom Eliseus was sent, had in a cruse enough oil for one mess, but it was increased so that it never failed. So in the case of this "Certain" woman, that which was done for her was to increase the oil. That is what the gospel does for the repentant sinner, it shows him that the grace that can bring repentance can minister all the help that is needed. How we are rejoiced to see a sinner in tears! What parent would not rejoice to see a son or daughter desiring righteousness, even with bitter tears! "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." To all such the gospel of glad tidings comes, bringing encouragement.
The prophet told the widow to borrow vessels, empty vessels not a few. In a word to prepare for a great increase in oil. This the gospel does to all who give the evidence that grace has touched their hearts. It is overcoming grace. It is the ocean of God's love in action, flowing as a mighty river to the poor and perishing. Remember, they are to be empty vessels. The Pharisee boasting of righteousness and superiority over others is not an empty vessel. But the poor publican pleading for mercy is an empty vessel. When we begin to look for a place in our lives where we do not need grace it will be hard to find. We need grace everywhere we look. We need grace to think, to act, to talk, to pray, to deal with our neighbor, to go to church, to hear a sermon, to sing the songs of Zion--truly the places where we need grace are not a few.
The man of God further gave instruction to the widow that she and her sons should withdraw from the outside world and shut themselves in with God and they alone. How like the experience of God's children. The world, the preachers, the church, and all the powers of earth can never give nor sell what is needed. It can come alone from God according to the working of His mighty power which was manifested in raising Jesus from death. All the widow's present help and future hope must be in God alone, all other sources are shut out. He who preaches the pure gospel, must declare this to those who are crying for help. Paul said he was determined to know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified.
The prophet instructed her that she should begin drawing on the supply of oil. She did as directed, and the oil filled the vessels until there remained no more to fill. What a wonderful fountain is God's grace and love. From it flows the great river of the water of life which reaches to all who hunger and thirst. Jesus stood up in the great day of the feast and cried, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink." "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." There is no limit to the supply of God's grace, but there is a limit to our capacity. Our faith is little. We receive faith and grace by measure, only Jesus having the Spirit without limit. Faith may be considered a limit to the grace received. "According to thy faith, so be it unto thee." Jesus reproved His disciples for their little faith. "O ye of little faith," said Jesus. Ask and it shall be given unto you, knock and it shall be opened, is the promise. Keep drawing. Paul exhorted, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." No one may claim that anything has befallen him, and in his trouble he has trusted in grace and it failed him. The Lord said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." So the fulness of grace is well typified by the abundant flow of the oil. The woman went and acknowledged the miraculous flow of the oil to Elisha. So should all the children of grace bear testimony to the church, and to all, of the abundant mercy of God.
The man of God gave forth instructions. He told her, "Go sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest." The outstanding fact set forth in the scriptures is that the debt of sin must be paid. Men may treat it as a light matter, but it is not so with God. Had it been a light matter the Lord would not have given up His only begotten Son to die. But He laid the load of sin which rested on His chosen ones on Jesus, and He in sorrow, tears and infinite suffering bore it, and finally put it away in awful agony on the cruel cross. That His redeemed and regenerated children may serve Him as they ought, the story of the cross is always a point of the gospel of glad tidings. This type-woman felt the burden and curse of sin and that the debt must be paid, no matter how awful the cost. So with what joy she hailed the gift of oil that provided a way to settle all her debt. Some people object to preaching doctrine, but the doctrines of the gospel are the explanation of how the debt for sin is to be set aside, paid in full, and how the debt burdened sinner is to go free. "Go sell the oil and pay thy debt." Remember the oil is grace. So the sinner can but see that grace pays all the debt. "Jesus paid it all," is a sweet hymn indeed to him that believes that salvation is truly by grace.

"Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.

"Grace first inscribed my name
In God's eternal book;
'Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took."

So grace taught children want to know how their sins are to be taken away, and they made free, for they know that sin is not to be treated as a small matter. So the preaching of Paul falls with comfort on their ears and brings a sweet peace to their bosoms. "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." When the accuser charges on the believer, "You are a sinner," he replies, "I confess with shame that I am; but Jesus died for sinners." When it is said to him, "You are weak and easily overcome with temptation," he answers, "Yes, too well I know it; but Jesus was tempted and tried in all points as we are that He might be able to succor the tempted and tried." So the woman paid her debts with the oil God had provided for her, and believers are yet applying this truth, "By grace are ye saved."
"And live thou and thy children of the rest." It is no scant living for those who believe the supply of grace is abundant and free. There is "grace to help in times of need." "According to thy faith be it unto thee." "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and him with me." All through life there is need to draw on grace for strength and daily supplies. We are taught in the Lord's supper that Jesus must be our daily bread and drink. The hungry find satisfying fullness in the sweetness of grace; the weary find rest; the fainting are revived, and the discouraged are lifted up. "Let not your heart be troubled," comes as music to the distressed, and "cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will deliver you," lifts up the head and fixes the eyes above on the light beyond the clouds. So we should find gladness in the instructions, "And live thou and thy children of the rest."


"Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set."--Prov. xxii. 28.
(A sermon delivered on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of New Garden church near Excelsior Springs, Mo., March 30, 1924.)

In any civilized country the corner stones, marking the different tracts of land, are important. No one can know whether he holds a good title to his home unless he can be assured that he actually holds the land which is described in his deed. I knew a brother in the church who built a house on a tract of land, and reared most of his family there. One day a gentleman appeared and notified him that he held title to the land on which the brother lived, and that he would either have to buy it of him or vacate. Of course this was a great surprise to this brother, for he had put much labor on the place and had been to a great deal of expense on the farm which he fondly thought would be his home through life, and where he believed he would end his days. But although he had held the place up to this time in good faith, an investigation proved that he was wrong, and that he really did not have the title he thought he held.
When I was a boy my father fenced and improved a tract of land. After several years had passed a question arose as to the correctness of the south line, and it was decided to have it surveyed again. This survey showed that our fence was not on the true line, and we were not occupying all the land that rightly belonged to us. But we had the fence built, and it would require much work and considerable expense to set it back on the line, so it was not done in father's time. This land fell to one of my brothers and he let the fence (which was a hedge) stay where it had originally been set. The farm has now passed into other hands, but the fence remains where it was first set, although not on the line the deed calls for.
Now for an application of the points referred to, in a religious way. It was the Savior's way of teaching to refer to natural things which are well understood, to teach spiritual truths. No one knows the limits and bounds of truth and the spiritual inheritance only as they are set down and defined in God's book. Here we find the "original notes." The result of the first surveys are set down in the records called "original notes," and the Bible is the original notes of all truth relating to God, man, sin, and salvation from it. No one may lay rightful claim to a hope while on earth and a home in heaven unless it accords with this record. We may think we are right, as was the brother who built his house on land for which he had no title, but the test will finally come. Just believing one is right does not settle the matter, the record decides, no matter what human beings may believe.
It is no doubt with many in their religious belief as it was with my father in endeavoring to enclose his farm and building his fence. Positions are taken without a proper and careful investigation, and even when persons see that they were wrong at first, having taken a position they do not take the trouble to correct it, and the children follow in the same way. This accounts for several generations following in a religious denomination. The parents set the example and the children follow. And, as time goes on, many take the same course because it has so long been established, and finally they get to thinking "the fence is surely on the right line because it has stood so long." But it can never be right unless the "original notes" are followed. These thoughts may serve to impress the necessity of studying the record which God has written, that we may start from the corner stones which were set by the "fathers" according to the original survey, in which there can be no error, because the God of all wisdom will not err.
The lines run by men may be wrong. Another illustration may serve to make this clearer. A surveyor's instrument is mounted on a tripod that it may be leveled. It consists principally of a magnetic needle and a telescope. Once when surveying some land that I had purchased, the old surveyor found that in turning his telescope to look at the stake that had been set at the corner stone, we seemed to be running wrong. He adjusted his instrument according to the variation called for in his notes, but there was something wrong. He finally looked all around, and seeing a spade, a shovel, and an ax lying near, said, "take those things away, they are influencing the needle." This is the reason why we cannot trust men to lay out lines for us in religious matters. The world, the flesh, and the devil wield too much influence on men's minds for them to run a straight line in the right direction.
Again, the needle in the surveyor's instrument may be taken to be the heart reaching out toward God. If investigation is prompted by other things, there is not likely to be the proper guide to it. But a heart that has been touched by the love of God has the right attraction (as in the case of the needle in the surveyor's instrument which has been magnetized) so that if there be no surrounding influences to deflect it, it can be trusted to be true in its guidance.
In laying out boundaries there must be a starting point, and this should be so marked that it can always be depended upon, and nothing must be substituted for it. All lines must have their proper relation to this stone of starting. This corner stone has been set in God's word. It is the very first verse in the Bible. It reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Under all circumstances we must keep in line with the thought that there is God, and that He is the author and creator of all good. If ever we try to take up any line of reasoning that is not based on these facts, it will be like starting from the wrong stone, the boundaries of our conclusions will not be right and true. We may stay with them a long time, and become so accustomed to them that it would be much trouble to adjust them, as in the case of the fence that my father built, but a line can never be right when starting from the wrong point, however far we may run it.
In forming conclusions on religious matters we should start from the Bible corner stone that there is an eternal, self-existent, sovereign, all-powerful God of purpose, and that he has set the stakes of truth in His revelation, and all points not bearing proper relation to these are wrong.
Before looking up the corner stones and stakes we must find the original notes. This is God's revelation--the Bible. Reject this and there are no established lines. The wisest men differ, and the most unlearned are not to be followed. If we do not accept the Bible as being from God, there is not established statement of truth in the world. Accepted as being the word of God, and it is to be received as the arbiter in every religious question, and there can be no improvement or change.
Among the first stakes is that God made man an accountable being. He did not make an animal, which developed into a man, for animals are not accountable beings. The creature God made and called man was imbued with human life with all its capacities. Bare animal life can never reach up to human life, especially in the point of being held accountable for the transgression of law.
The next stake marks the first sin in the world, and the curse pronounced on man for it. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." The serpent was a cursed influence, but that did not mitigate the crime of the man, the commandment was given to him, and he was held to account for its violation. The fall of man was a fall downward, too, it was not as the Two-Seeders claim a "fall upward," but wickedness of every sort, sorrow, affliction and death came as a result, and there is no lifting up, except in Christ. The curse of sin is universal, reaching to and falling upon every one born of woman. "By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation." Were it not for Christ lifting this condemnation there could not be a single case of a mortal being entering heaven, for nothing corrupted or impure can enter there. The deluge makes a mark along this line. Wickedness was so universal that all men would have been destroyed had not God's grace embraced Noah. Indeed the purpose of God is uncovered in the promise of God to Eve that her seed should bruise the serpent's head.
As the great revelation of the whole of the Bible is in regard to sin, and salvation from the curse on account of it, we must look up the notes on how sinners can be saved from the curse.
One stake can be set where Abel offered the lamb as a sacrifice. This implies the shedding of blood. Noah builded an altar and on it offered clean beasts and fowls. This includes the shedding of blood and consuming the flesh, or the purification as by fire. This line extends through the Levitical offerings, teaching beyond the shadow of doubt that remission of sins is by the shedding of blood and sacrifice. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission."--Heb. ix.22. "In whom we have redemption through His blood."--Eph. i.7. "The church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood."--Acts xx.28.
To make use of our illustration of the surveyor's instrument, the telescope is so arranged that it can be turned to look back along the line as well as forward, and when the tripod is set over any point it can be decided whether it is in true line by turning the telescope back to see whether it points to the stakes behind. If any ideas are being tried out to see if they are right, look back to these ancient stakes which are set on blood atonement for remission, and if it is seen that the ideas that are being investigated are not in line, they are wrong.
Another stake is set to mark the true character of Christ and His work in the character of the offerings of the high priest in the old dispensation. The names of those for whom He made offering on the day of atonement were engraved on the breastplate. So He made atonement for special persons. This is called "special atonement" to distinguish it from what is known as "general atonement," or an attempt at atonement for every individual, contingent on their acceptance of it, as to whether they will receive the benefits or not. Now it will be noticed that in the case of the high priest the atonement is for stated, named persons, as there is certainty in the results. If any are inclined to receive the idea that Jesus died for persons who will never get any benefit from His shed blood and sacrifice, let them turn the telescope back to see if they are in line with the teaching of God when He taught by types which "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things."--Heb. viii.5. But our high priest is better than the shadow, of course, as all substantial things are better than the shadows. "Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens," and "who is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." "He shall never fail." In connection with this, we read how definite the matter is. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."
Another stake that will be of much use to us, if we can find one, will be to identify the true line as to whether God specially calls sinners to salvation. One of such stakes will be found in the calling of Abraham. Did Abraham choose God or did God call Abraham? "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee." Now as Abraham is termed the "father of the faithful," he is an example of the "called out" of all ages. God called and appointed the prophets, called the apostles. In fact, "whom he did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate them He also called."--Rom. viii. 29, 30.
"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee." "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."--Acts ii.39. "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a prince and Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."--Acts v. 31. It is written that when Paul and Barnabas preached to the Gentiles at Antioch in Pisidia, "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."--Acts. xiii. 48.
New Garden church has stood in line with this teaching for the last hundred years, and the history of the Primitive Baptists, reaching back to the apostles, has not removed the landmarks which were set by the fathers, and notes of which are set down in the scriptures.
Other lines over which there is much dispute are the limitations and boundaries of the preached gospel. Some claim that this is God's means of convicting and regenerating the hearts of sinners, and others asserting that God gives life, and life brings light, which convicts, and then the gospel proclaims salvation through Jesus, on whom convicted sinners are exhorted to believe to their joy and comfort, and who are then commanded to put on Christ in baptism, in which they consecrate their lives to His service. This last position is the contention of the Primitive Baptists, and which is now firmly maintained by New Garden church, and has been preached and believed during the last hundred years by her pastors.
Let us set our instrument of survey over this point, being sure that the needle of the compass of investigation points to God as the revealer of truth, and not to the opinions of men. Turn the telescope to look back to see if we are in line with the stones and stakes mentioned in the original notes.
The first point the eye catches is the fact that the promises of God are to His chosen people who are a type of the spiritual Israel of all ages. To them the prophets are sent, and the service of rites and ceremonies are given. And when finally we reach the gospel period, when the ministry of the gospel overruns national border lines, it is not to the Gentiles as nations, but to "as many as the Lord our God shall call," and to as many as were "ordained to eternal life."
True, the moral obligations are upon and to all people alike; so condemnation rests upon all alike. But gospel means glad tidings, and this can go no farther than the atonement by type, which by type and positive declaration is shown to be personal and special. Paul said, "Who loved me and gave Himself for me." What sinners need is shown to be life, eternal life, which the preaching of the gospel cannot confer. Jesus said, "I give unto them eternal life."
John describes this stone in the notes of the true line, that as many as receive the oral preaching of Jesus were "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." See John i. 11-13. So even the preaching of Jesus did not do away with the necessity of being born of God. John seems to have been especially appointed to set stakes along this line. He says that Jesus Himself drove one of them which will remain as long as time shall be. He said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." No man can show it to him, however eloquent and powerful he may be in the pulpit--before he is born again; life is first.
All the stakes which have been set on the line of the necessity of regeneration, being the beginning of the work in the soul of the sinner, who is described as being dead, or without spiritual life, are so many unremovable marks on the limitations and boundaries of the preached gospel. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."--1 John v.1. Paul reasoned with the Corinthians on the purpose and effect of preaching. See 1 Cor. iii. 4-7. He says the preacher is a minister by whom we believe, but it is "even as the Lord gave to every man." Twice he asserts that it is "God that giveth the increase." "So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither is he that watereth" in the work of giving eternal life. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."--John iii.36.
The preaching of the gospel is a wide field and it is briefly outlined in Ephesians iv. 11-16. It is for the perfecting of the saints; the edifying of the body of Christ; to bring to unity of faith; that the saints may grow in grace and in knowledge, increasing "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
Those who teach that preaching is the means of regeneration, and that the number of the saved is limited or increased by the extent of it, instead of being assured by the atonement made by Christ, will not be able to show that they are in line with the landmarks set in God's holy word. It seems that most of the world, called religious, give little attention to the practice and teaching of the apostles as regards the true purpose and result of preaching the gospel.
When we consider the militant church, the house of God on earth, the world is giving little attention to the ancient boundaries and the lines are changed to include a great deal that was not originally contemplated. The starting point as given in the original records is a single simple organization, not a complex, consisting of many auxiliaries or subordinate bodies. True there were local bodies as the church at Rome or Corinth, etc., but all of them were equal in authority, each managing its own internal affairs as to business and discipline, but all holding the same doctrines and principles of government. New Garden church is a simple body not having within its boundaries any societies having special objects and duties. The only membership in a religious way is membership in the church. All members have duties and privileges alike, except those devolving on the pastors and deacons. There is no body with any authority or duty besides the church, except a presbytery, which is charged with ordaining, or officially setting apart pastors and deacons to their work at the request of churches. But a presbytery is not a permanent organization, but consists of ordained members from churches met for special occasions. Besides the above the original notes do not recognize or authorize anything.
The purpose and work of the church is in full harmony with the preaching of the gospel, not superseding it, but coordinating in the work. It has no authority to add to or take from what has been written in the scriptures. So, it is by no means a legislative body, with power to create subordinate bodies, but only has authority to carry into effect such things as have been written for its guidance. Its duty is to encourage and discipline its members and supply those who minister in the word with needed support and to care for its poor and needy. Its influence in the world is compared to salt, and it is declared to be a light in the world. See Matt. v. 13-16. It is to judge ministers as to whether they declare the pure gospel and reject them if they do not. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."--Gal. 1.8. It is to supply deacons with the funds necessary for carrying on and meeting the obligations of the church, for unless this is done the deacons will be unable to discharge the duties of their office, and so would not be needed in the church at all, and the office would thus be abolished, and the church would lose one of the marks which should distinguish it as being apostolic, and so fail of being in the true line established in the records.
The testimony of the scriptures establish the fact that true ministers must be called by God. The prophets were called by God, the apostles were called, "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God." Their ability in point of spiritual force and influence is a gift from God, and not an acquired ability. They should study the scriptures, and give themselves to reading, and not neglect the gift that is in them. Paul exhorts Timothy to meditate upon spiritual things and to give himself wholly to them. See Tim. iv. 13-15. He was also to "study" to show himself approved unto God." They are to take the "oversight' of the flock, the Holy Ghost having made them "overseers," and yet not to be lords over God's heritage, but to be examples to the flock. Acts xx.28; 1 Peter v. 2,3.
New Garden church and all Primitive Baptist churches in order, to be in line with the ancient landmarks, have maintained the ordinances of the church in primitive form. The administrator and the candidate both go down into the water as did Philip and the eunuch ("and they went down both into the water."--Acts viii.38), and then the administrator buries the candidate in the water ("therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death."--Rom. vi.4), and then raises him up ("like as Christ was raised up from the dead."--Rom. vi.4), and then they come up out of the water as was said of Jesus and the eunuch at their baptism.
When persons are sprinkled and call it baptism they cannot look back to a single new Testament example and say that they are clearly in line with it. John baptized in Aenon near to Salim, because there was "much water there," for that was necessary in burying the body, or immersing it. The act of the Roman Catholic Council at Ravena, Italy, which first authorized sprinkling, or pouring, for baptism in 1311, was surely an attempt to remove the ancient landmark which is set up so plainly in the New Testament.
The ordinance of the Lord's Supper is to be continued until Christ comes again. The bread which is broken was the same as they were using in the passover, which was unleavened bread, and the wine was really wine and not just grape juice. It is a church ordinance and therefore may not be administered to those who are not members. And as unbaptized persons cannot be considered as members of the church so it follows that those who are not members of the church cannot be invited to partake, because we cannot consider them as legally baptized, though they may be members of another denomination. All denominations generally put the Lord's Supper after baptism, so they knowing our views on the scripture teaching on legal baptism ought not to criticize Primitive Baptists for what is termed "close communion."
In our forms of worship we are not without "landmarks." Scan the New Testament account of the services as closely as one may, he will discover nothing but the very simplest program. There is preaching of the gospel, and "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." There is no account of any service being given over to one class of individuals, young and old are in one congregation, and so we thus conduct our meetings.
While the sermons or epistles laid down doctrinal principles plainly, there was built upon this much exhortation. See the 12th chapter of the Roman letter as an example. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." So we are to continue this kind of preaching or we shall be removing the ancient landmarks. We are to "let brotherly love continue." This is an ancient landmark. "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." "And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." We are not just honoring men by respecting the landmarks which they set, for these were "holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." So God Himself has set the landmarks, and so it is impossible to better them and it is sinful to remove them.


"Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven.
"But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven."--Matt. x. 32, 33.

We speak so often about salvation not being conditional, that some might think from reading the above scriptures we are not consistent with the word of God. But we are in keeping with God's word in contending for an unconditional salvation through Christ Jesus as regards being saved from the curse of the Law. And, too, the sacrifice of Jesus is made for sinners unconditionally, and the effects of His death are sure, and not jeopardized by being conditioned on the acts of men. They who are chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, being predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, have an inheritance that is given according to the purpose of God, after the counsel of His will. There are no conditions to be performed by the creature upon which hang the carrying out of this purpose of God. See Eph. i. 3-11.
Regeneration is God's own work, and is as unconditional in every case as it was in the case of Saul of Tarsus. God, "for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ."--Eph. ii. 4, 5. The apostle explains how this could be done--"By grace ye are saved." To save by grace means to save one who has no merit. The promise of old, was, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."--Heb. viii. 12. In this new covenant God does not save according to the righteousness of the individual, either foreseen or actual, but saves according to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is all made certain by the purpose of God, the atonement of Jesus, and the effectual work of the Holy spirit in regeneration.
But in the passages quoted for a text, it is certain there is conditionality. As there is no conditionality in the salvation of Jesus, which is upon the merits alone of His suffering and shed blood, which gives the inheritance of heaven, then the passages given do not have to do with this salvation. In the sense of eternal salvation, Jesus stands as the mediator of His people, not upon the conditionality of their confession of Him before men, but upon the merits of His work as bearing their sins, and putting them away by the offering of Himself. But it is certain that these verses mean something, and that they are not in contradiction with other passages which teach salvation by grace.
In the verses preceding the 32d verse, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven," it will be seen that Jesus was addressing His disciples, and giving instructions to the twelve where to go and what to preach. He would also impress their minds with the character of Him with whom they had to do, and of His care for them. They were not to fear men, who could only kill the body, but who could not hurt the soul, but they were to fear God. Then to impress their minds with His omnipresence, and all-seeing eye, he tells them that as little value as was put upon a sparrow, two of them being sold for a farthing, yet not one of them should fall to the ground "without your Father." And to impress them all the more, He adds, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Then He contrasts the value that would be put upon a disciple of Christ with that of the sparrow. "Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
In this manner He leads up to the main statement which we are to consider. They might conclude that God would not notice one human being, as one such is so small compared with the vast creation; but He has impressed them with the minute perception and estimate of small and large matters as they appear before God. So as He is sending them forth to preach the gospel of the kingdom, which centers in Christ, He impresses them with the importance of holding Him up before men, confessing Him as being the Redeemer and the one to whom men should look for salvation. It is He that should by the offering of Himself put away sin, and become an intercessor with God before the throne. Those to whom He was talking, were His own called disciples, and therefore were accepted before God in the name of Jesus, and saved with an everlasting salvation. As their standing was all in the person of Jesus and His sacrifice, and according to the unchanging love and purpose of God, it would never be changed, and yet there was need to have them understand that if they did not confess Jesus before men, He would not stand to mediate between them and the Father in some important way. His intercession is a continuous intercession. "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." If we were put into a perfect state when regenerated, Jesus' intercession being successful to the end that the Holy Spirit did his work in the new birth, then there would be no need for daily intercession. While the sins of God's people are not under the law, therefore the curse cannot reach them, yet they are dealt with as children, and disobedience is recognized as transgression, and therefore needs to be forgiven. John, in his first epistle, wrote (i.9), "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." In the ancient type of God's people we find it recorded: Lev. xxvi.---"If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, then will I give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, * * * And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will rid evil beasts out of the land." Now the people were already God's people, and He had sworn and would not lie that they should be His, and inherit the land that He gave them. So this condition was not given to make them His people, but it was given them that they might have His blessing in this life. In Leviticus we may find that the children of Israel were required to confess when they had sinned, and the priest should make offerings, or intercede for them, "and it shall be forgiven him." These are types of God's people now in this day. And as we sin, we need to confess, and Christ will confess us before His Father which is in heaven. That will not save us in the sense in which Christ Jesus saves by His death and the atonement by blood, but in the sense in which a father forgives his son when he turns and repents of disobedience. If he repents not, then he is chastised.
But the text reads, "Confess me before men." This is the principle upon which the church is founded. If it were not a thing required to confess before men, there would be no church. The same good will come out of confessing Jesus before men that membership in the church brings, indeed they are the same thing, in whatever way we extend the matter. Jesus not only gave His disciples the affirmative statement of this truth, but He stated it negatively. "But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven." This is the same declaration that is made by Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. ii. 12). "If we deny Him He will deny us." Here it included Paul and Timothy, therefore it includes children of God. Nothing is conditional that pertains to them as the children of God. They are not made children on conditions to be performed by them. But while traveling through this world the people of God are in the flesh. They have not reached the stage of perfection they are destined to reach. Paul said that he had not attained to that for which he was apprehended of God. God had laid hold on him to make him perfect, but he had not yet reached that perfect state--he was yet in the flesh. He refers to this state as "the life that I now live in the flesh."
In this life God deals with His people as weak and liable to err. They are the subjects of discipline; they are not perfect in understanding, nor in obedience. Therefore He has arranged for them to have teachers, that they may be taught; and has given them instructions how they should live so as to please Him. He does not constrain the will of His people so that they do not go wrong; that is, when they go wrong they cannot say that the Lord constrained them, and they went according to His will. So the Lord holds His people accountable for their disobedience. He does not approve disobedience, and His people have not been taught in their hearts that the Lord approves sin. So when they feel that they have sinned, they feel that the Lord does not approve the act in which they have disobeyed Him.
But what will He do when they deny Him? Disobedience is equivalent to denying him. It is denying His authority; it is denying Him as Lord; it is denying obligation to Him as a loving Father; it is denying His judgment as to what is best and right; it is denying the very principle that is planted in the soul in regeneration, which is to render love for love. Love would yield obedience. So we may ask, What will the Lord do when His people deny Him? The text answers this in a plain statement--"He will also deny them." What can he deny them? He cannot deny His love, for that is eternal and unchangeable; he cannot deny them the benefit of the atonement, for He has accepted the offering of Christ, as was attested by His resurrection; he cannot deny heaven, for that has been purchased by the blood of Jesus. But is is clear that there are things that He can deny us, and we should be interested to know what He can and will deny. Luke quotes the Savior as saying, "But he that denieth Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God." Then we have this same idea taught in the type of God's people, ancient Israel. Joshua spoke to the people in regard to the stone that was set up after the Israelites crossed over Jordan, saying, "It shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest you deny your God." Peter's denial of Christ was an example of what may fall to other disciples. If an apostle has denied, shall we not fear coming to that sin? And if we do, we may be sure that something will be denied to us that might have been given us had we not denied the Lord.
Wonderful promises are made to the children of God while they are here in this time state for their protection through the journey of life. It is written, "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." And if they do not deny Him by refusing to keep His statutes and do His commandments, who shall say that all His promises of blessings shall not be made good? Jesus said, "Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven." In His intercession, in regard to the providences which fall to the saints while here in this wilderness journey, will their treatment of Him have any weight? Did the Apostle Paul choose his words well when he said, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you." God is not the author of confusion; so if the brethren were not perfect, that is, did not keep the commandments of the Lord, were divided into factions and fighting one another, instead of living in peace, does anyone believe that the promise spoken of by the apostle would be realized?
In the sense of the scriptures, is the God of love and peace with the church when it is in disorder, confusion and bitter strife? I would not argue with anyone, who would be so inconsistent as to claim that He is, for such a position is contrary to the whole of Bible teaching and is too absurd to be considered for a moment. Christ does not leave His church, it is true, but He often manifests Himself in displeasure, bringing chastisement instead of the smiling face of peace and approval. Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." To whom was this spoken, if not to His own people? True there were those present who did not openly follow Him, but it was spoken to His disciples as much as the following language: "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."
There are two cases mentioned in the scriptures which give us examples of disciples who did not confess Jesus before men. They were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The brief history of these men given in connection with Jesus is very interesting. It is certain that the mention of them is not accidental, nor was it the impressions of just one of the apostles in regard to the case of Joseph of Arimathea, for all four of the evangelists give a narration of the burial of Jesus by this man. Taking all four of the evangelists, and gathering up what they each say, gives a very good idea of his character. Matthew says of him: "When the even was come there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple; he came to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed."
Mark gives the following account of Joseph burying the body of Jesus, and incidentally tells us more about His character. "Joseph of Arimathea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. * * * And he bought fine linen, and took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre." Luke gives the same facts, but he adds a little more about the character of Joseph. "And behold there was a man named Joseph, a counselor, and he was a good man and a just. (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them); he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews; who himself also waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in the sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid."--Luke xxiii. 50-53.
John also gives his account of the burial, and throws in more description of the character of the man who is now showing much devotion to the memory of Jesus. "And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore and took the body of Jesus."--John xix. 38. Notice now particularly the 38th verse: "And there came also Nicodemus, which at first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury."
Now neither of these men had ever openly confessed Jesus. They were both disciples, but had not let it be known by others. True, Nicodemus did come to Jesus by night, coming at that time to keep from being seen in conversation with Jesus, no doubt. Then, again, when there arose a discussion about Jesus and some were inclined to believe because of His wonderful preaching, Nicodemus appears long enough to be recognized, and the remark that he made seemed in the minds of some to identify him as a follower of Jesus, but he is careful not to come out plainly. All he said was, "Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" As we have so many around our churches who are evidently interested in hearing the gospel preached, and who are friends of the church, a brief study of the lives of these two men might be interesting and profitable. Let us note first the character of Joseph of Arimathea, as more attention is given to his character than to that of Nicodemus. It is asserted that he is a disciple of Jesus. But as there is no indication that he ever let it be known to others, it is clear that he was not a disciple in the sense that he was a follower. Jesus said, "Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Now Joseph was never a disciple in that sense while Jesus was preaching. So it must be in the sense that he was a learner, or received the teaching of Jesus, though he did not confess Him before men. But his standing with the Jews is clearly stated. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was made up of the nobility. He was a rich man. But better than all positions among the Jews, he was a "good man and just." From his position among the Jews, and his personal character, he was a man of influence. All good men are men of influence whether they are in prominent positions or not. These descriptions together with his opportunity for doing good as a follower of Jesus show his influence might have been great. But although it is said, "he waited for the kingdom," as a disciple of Jesus, he was only one "secretly for fear of the Jews." He expected the coming of the Messiah, and believed that Jesus was the one promised by the prophets, and yet he would not confess his belief before men--he held his belief secretly. One can imagine Jesus and His disciples going down one side of the street, but Joseph is never with them. If near at all, as is likely he was at times, he would be on the other side of the street, but close enough to observe Jesus, and perhaps to hear Him should He stop to discourse. Doubtless his emotions at many times came near bringing him to let it be known how he felt toward Jesus, but he kept his feelings down, and did not outwardly show sympathy for the man of sorrows. There were times when he might have spoken boldly in His favor when he failed to lift up his voice in His behalf. Jesus' case was up before the Sanhedrin, the highest court among the Jews, which had the power of death in its decision, although none but the Romans might put it into execution; but it appears that Joseph was not at the meeting of the seventy, for it is said the council gave unanimous consent unto the death of Jesus. But Luke says of Joseph, "The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them." So as the vote of those present was unanimous, it is plain that when the case was to come up, Joseph kept away. Here having the character that is given of him, he might have had much influence. But he did not come into the open and stand for Jesus. Where was he when Jesus was arraigned before Pilate? I think perhaps when Jesus was crucified he stood off at a distance and saw Him hanging on the cross, and then perhaps his conscience smote him for the course he had taken. When Jesus was preaching, and his disciples were baptizing those who believed and confessed, no doubt he sometimes stood where he was a witness to what was said and done, and as he was one who, like old Simeon, waited for the coming of the Lord, his bosom heaved with emotion as he recognized that this was He that should come to redeem Israel. But he let the time go by without confessing Jesus before man. Simeon confessed, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." Joseph of Arimathea remembered all these opportunities for voicing his convictions as he saw Jesus hanging on the tree of the cross, and he determined that, although late, he would boldly take a stand for Jesus. So he "went in boldly" before Pilate and "begged" the body of Jesus. Mark says he "craved" the body of Jesus.
At one of my churches there was an old brother who had long stayed out of the church, until he became an invalid. But he could not longer deny the craving of his heart to follow Jesus. So one day he asked for a home in the church. He came in his invalid chair, not being able to walk nor stand on his feet. Some said that he could not be baptized, but I told him that he could be. He was anxious for the time to come. A large tank was placed in his yard and filled with water. His chair was rolled up beside it, and with the help of one of the deacons I got him into the tank and baptized him, his dear wife taking this opportunity also of confessing before men her faith in Jesus. When the dear old brother thus confessed Jesus before men, Jesus confessed him before His Father which is in heaven, and a blessing was poured out so that he said, "I have lost forty years of my life." The Holy Ghost is given to them that obey Him as a witness, which is a blessed assurance indeed.
No doubt Joseph of Arimathea got more joy out of burying the body of Jesus than he ever got out of all His Pharisaism and the dignity of his high office. He went and bought fine linen, no doubt the highest priced that he could find, in which to wrap the body of Jesus. "And there came also Nicodemus." He was also a member of the Sanhedrin, and a rich man. Nicodemus "brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes about an hundred pound weight. They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." Nicodemus had come a little nearer to speaking out for Jesus than Joseph of Arimathea. Once at night he went to ask questions of Jesus, which showed he was much like Joseph. He went at night (so that he would not be seen of the Jews) so like Joseph he was a disciple secretly. At a meeting of the Sanhedrin, however, he came so near to confessing Jesus that he was suspicioned of being one of His disciples. This was eighteen months after he visited Jesus at night, and six months before the crucifixion of Jesus. While they were discussing the character of Jesus, Nicodemus said unto them, "Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" But he made no further confession when they asked him his position.
Now these two men were working together in burying the body of Jesus. Two good men, both believers in Jesus, and believing, too, in His kingdom. But if we take it that it is necessary to salvation to confess Jesus before men, neither of them is entitled to a hope of reaching heaven. But no one could watch them so tenderly and with evident deep love of heart, caring for the body of Jesus, when almost the whole world was against Him, and the powers of darkness had succeeded so far in destroying Him from the earth, I say no one could conclude that they will be banished from His presence in the glory world. The disciples, almost all, had scattered, for it had been written, "I will smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered." True, John, and the mother of Jesus were near the cross, for their love was too deep for even death to separate them from Him whom they loved. But Joseph and Nicodemus, both rich men, and of the nobility, "crave" to have the high privilege of showing their love for Jesus, and making known the conviction of their hearts that He is the Christ. Will they be saved? Who can doubt it?
I preached the funeral of a devoted lover of the Primitive Baptist cause, but who had never asked for membership, and so had never been baptized. She had passed her fourscore years, and was well known, so there was a large attendance at the funeral. I took occasion to speak at length on her condition as it respected salvation. I stated emphatically that her life was an evidence that she was moved by the spirit of Jesus, and that she was a strong believer in Him, but she had made a great mistake in not professing Him before men. There were people present from all denominations, and most of them contending for a conditional salvation, and so I tried to make it as plain as I could what was gained by open profession, and what was lost by not confessing. I feel that the lives of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus would call forth just such handling. To be brief and plain, I would say of them that they were saved by God's grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, but that neither of them did what they should have done--they should have confessed or professed Jesus before men. It was fear in their hearts that kept them from doing the right thing. It is fear of some sort that keeps so many who are around our churches from becoming members. They believe our gospel; they love the church; they have fellowship for the people of God; they attend the services and are willing to make sacrifices that it may be continued, but many feel that they would be criticized if they presented for membership by those who would say they are not fit for membership. Perhaps the accusation has been charged to them directly by Satan himself that they are not fit for the church, and really have no grounds for believing that they have a hope in Jesus. They are good people, just as were Joseph and Nicodemus, and perhaps when life is nearly spent will surrender, and be willing to stand before the whole world and let it be known that they are hoping in Jesus' grace. Then they will be willing to confess, as did the old brother whom I baptized, that they have lost the joy of their hope for many years.
It may be asked, If Joseph and Nicodemus were saved, what did they lose by not confessing Jesus, if anything? They did not lose their interest in the shed blood of Jesus, if indeed He shed His blood for them, for His Father had accepted it, else He would never have been raised from the grave. They did not take their names out of the covenant of grace, if they were put in it before the foundation of the world. But there is much that they could lose. They lost the assurance or witness of the Holy Spirit which is given to them that obey Him. They did not receive what John the loved disciple received who leaned his head on Jesus' breast. They lived with a constant doubt on their minds because they refused to admit the testimony of the Holy Spirit which taught them to cry Abba Father. They quenched the Spirit's testimony, when the scriptures say we should not quench the Spirit. They were brought constantly into judgment for their disobedience, for Paul says, (Rom. xiv. 12.) "So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." "Now if any man build on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." So there is no escaping the conclusion that is makes a difference whether Jesus be confessed or whether He be denied.
We are not to suppose that the only way to confess Him is by uniting with the church and being baptized. We should confess that He is our leader in everyday life. Confess Him in prayer, confess Him in the conversation, confess to be His follower in the manner of business transaction. Confess allegiance to Him in duties public and private, and in devotion to His church. Be not like Joseph of Arimathea, slight Him all through life, and then bring flowers to lay on His grave. Let those who are about our churches, whom everybody esteems as good people, and friends of the church, but who hesitate to make confession of faith in His mercy, contemplate the regret that will come to them when they come down to the close of life and reflect that their only hope of salvation is in Jesus, and has been for many years, and yet they have hesitated to confess before men their dependence upon His mercy. It is such a little thing that has been required of them, while they have received much, and hope for much more. They cannot even bow before His feet in prayer without confessing to Him that they believe in His mercy, and He has asked them to confess before men what they confess to Him very time they breathe a prayer for forgiveness.
What a contrast between these two men, with all their wealth and influence, and the women who followed and ministered to Jesus. When Joseph and Nicodemus laid His body in the grave, "And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre." Three of the evangelists make mention of this fact. But they had been mentioned before as His devoted followers. It was Mary that washed the Savior's feet with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Mary Magdalene did not forget that she had been set free from the devils by the Son of man. These did not forget Him early in the morning on the first day of the week. They did not have to search for His tomb. Their hearts were so interested in Him that they watched where He was laid. Think, my hearers, whether you would prefer the character as a Christian borne by the women, or that of the men with all their wealth, education, high standing among men, having great possibilities for good in the Master's kingdom but afraid to confess him. It was all right to show love at the burial, but it is better to make the "living sacrifice" all through life.


(The following is an editorial from the "Messenger of Peace," of February 1, 1915.)

Some time ago we had a letter from a brother, deploring the lack of thought manifested in many members of the church, which seemed to show very little interest in church affairs. He said, "I have seen some brethren who seemed to think they had done something wonderful if they just go to their meetings a few times during the year. They come in when it is cold, and find the house swept and warmed nicely, but they never ask, `How was this done or who did it?' Everyone should be so interested in the church as to see into all matters pertaining to the church. I would like to see a good, lengthy article on this subject from your pen."
We wish to assure our brother that our delay in writing has not been because we thought the subject of little importance, nor from indifference to his request, but because we felt the subject needed a serious and careful treatment; and when we picked up our list of requests from brethren to write on subjects, thought, Well, sometime we shall feel more like treating on this subject as it deserves, and so laid the request aside. We cannot say that this will be the time we can write on this subject as it deserves, but at least we can realize the importance of the matter, and perhaps will lead some members to think on the course they have been pursuing, and if they have not shown the interest in the church they ought to have done, to try to amend their ways so as to show a brother's love and act a brother's part.
In the church of Christ when a member is received he is on a level in obligation with all other members of the church, so far as membership can lay an obligation. The gifts of God may lay on some members heavier duties than fall to the lot of most of the members, but these duties are not the result of just having membership. No one is obliged to preach because he is a member of the church. Nor must he take upon himself the work of the deacon just because he has become a member of the church. These duties are not laid on all the members, but only on those who have been called to them, as were those under the old dispensation called to wait especially on the tabernacle. When the church sees one whom she believes to be specially gifted to fill any office, it is her business to take the matter up and set the member over the business that God has qualified him to do. But there are duties that come with membership, and which are universal, and which are laid upon all the members alike. One does not have to have a special gift that he may attend the regular meetings of the church. This duty comes with church membership, and falls on all the members alike. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. True, there may be conditions that may excuse a member from attending the meetings of the church. If he is sick and unable to attend; if there is a real providential hindrance, which should only be made to include those matters which are beyond the control of the member, then it may be impossible to be at the place of meeting at the appointed time. But it would not be sufficient excuse to say that it required some sacrifice of time and money, for that sacrifice is conceded when one asks for membership.
Members who desire to hold the confidence of their brethren should be careful not to offer excuses which are trivial. When brethren see that the excuses offered are trivial, and that proper interest in the church, and a little effort, would have removed the obstacle, they begin to think that this brother's interest in the church is not what it ought to be. As for instance, if one should offer the excuse that he did not feel well; and then it is seen that when he feels no better than he did that day, he can go to town, or be about his work; it is reasoned that if he felt more interest in the church he would come if he did not feel the best. If there is a hindrance that could have been gotten out of the way by proper management during the week, it shows lack of interest, and this serves to break down the confidence that the church would like to feel in every member.
A person may reason all he will that a failure to take his place with other members of the church does not affect his religion, but there is one thing that it does affect, and that very quickly, too; it affects the expectation of other members as to his being a strength to the church, or of his standing shoulder to shoulder with other members in sustaining the church. As before said, there are conditions that will be recognized as forming a good and sufficient excuse for not being at the meetings, but "framed up" excuses more often mislead the individual who offers them than they do the other members, and they certainly serve to lower the brother or sister who offers them in the estimation of the church and the world as well.
A brother wrote us not long since, saying that one of the most serious menaces to the progress of the church now was the neglect of attendance among the members, because so much of it was for the reason that members let their worldly affairs keep them away from the church. Even when members stay away from the Sunday services it is because in many cases they have worked so hard during the week that they do not "feel like" making the effort to get to church. They had not taken into account that next Sunday was meeting day, and then determined to arrange to be there; but had let other affairs so engage them as to leave neither time nor life for the meeting. This is a grievous sin. When membership was asked in the church, it carried with it the obligation to make every effort to keep up the services of the church.
Suppose a brother were to present himself for membership, and the question were put to him, "Will you make all proper effort to keep up the services of the church?" And he should reply that it would be a secondary matter with him; that he would attend services when it did not interfere with his worldly affairs, nor require too much effort or sacrifice; but if he could work, or could visit some friend or be visited, or did not just feel like making the effort to get to the place of meeting, he would not feel that he had violated his obligation. How would the church feel about receiving him? Would the church be glad to receive such a member? Would they not hang like a weight upon the church? If we manifest that same disposition, and the church were made of such as we are, could it continue its services?
The brother said, in his letter to us, "They come in, and it is cold, and find the house swept and warmed up nicely, but they never ask, `How was this done? or who did it?'" This presents another phase of the church obligation, and that is meeting the expenses of the church. It is truly astonishing how little thought some members do manifest about the expenses of the church. They must know, if they think about it at all, there is a constant expense, and they must also know that some one pays this expense. They must know that if they are able to help, and do not do so, some other member is carrying a burden that they ought to help carry. Of course if they are too poor to help, no one expects them to do so; but even then, they ought to show a sensitiveness about such things, for it wins the confidence of their brethren to feel that if they had something to help with, they would do so. But for those who are in as good circumstances as other brethren, members who have to meet the expenses, (for this is a matter that some one just has to attend to), and then to manifest no disposition to bear equal burdens with others, is a spirit that shows a disregard for the obligation that was assumed when they obtained membership. It may be this is sometimes the lack of thought, but for thoughtlessness like this there can be no excuse. If someone came to their home, sat down to eat and enjoy the comforts of the home, without contributing anything to its upkeep, they would soon resent it. Then why should they take membership in a church, partaking of its privileges and consolation, and not bear an equal share of the expenses according to their ability?
And they ought not to wait to be asked to join in this work. The church belongs to them as much as it does to other members; and its obligations, as much as it privileges, belong to them. They ought to be making it their business to know how this expense is to be met, instead of the deacon having to come to them, and ask if they do not feel like they can help some. It is his business to receive and disburse the funds of the church under its direction, but it is not his business to beg, nor to put the expenses of the church on the charity list. Instead of wondering, "how they are getting along, meeting expenses," they should ask, "how are we getting along meeting our obligations?"
Then there are those members who do not attend the meetings regularly; some of them possibly because they cannot get to the church from justifiable causes, but who are as well able as other members to assist in meeting the expenses of the church. We are glad to say, that some of these are careful to pay in a fair share toward keeping the church up but there are others who never send anything for that purpose. If they were to be at a meeting they would help, but if they are not there they seem to feel that their absence absolves them from all obligation. How they can feel this way, if they really do, is a mystery! They must know that the expenses of the church go on whether they are there or not, and that those who are keeping up the meetings by making the necessary sacrifice to be there, and another sacrifice to meet the expenses, are making sacrifices that they are not. To meet the members of our church as brethren indeed, we ought not to be willing to let them carry what we ought to carry. Members of the church who are situated so that they cannot attend the meetings should find out by writing to the deacons if they are bearing their part of the expenses. They should not wait for the deacon, or anyone else, to write to them about it; they should manifest an interest by keeping themselves informed about the church.
With the expenses of the church should be reckoned what the church is able to do for the pastor. They who do not attend the meetings are under obligation to help keep up the ministration of the gospel in the church. There is no plainer duty laid out in the New Testament than this. They should not only contribute in this direction, but they should interest themselves with the other members in knowing what is done, that they may come to a conclusion whether they are doing their duty or not, and whether the whole church is doing what is reasonable and right.
Ever so much more could be said on this subject, but perhaps we have said enough to make those think who want to think. Those who do not want to know their duty, for fear they will have to do it, are hopeless as lively members. But they who want to do right by the church, and by the rest of the members, should think, think, and keep on thinking how they ought to do that they may do what is right; and then not take it all out in thinking, think right out loud, so that all the church may know what you are thinking, and it will contribute to their confidence in you if they know that you are doing as well as thinking.
Let no one say, "Well, that cuts me out, for I am too poor to give." We have not said one word that can be rightly construed to mean that they who are not able should do what they are not able to do. If you know that the Lord knows you are not able to help, and that there are plenty of those who are able to keep the church up, there will be no one harder on you than your own conscience if you will let it speak. But if you are able to do but little, as compared to what others are able to do, then you are as much under obligation to do that little as the more able ones are to do what they are able to do. But it is not so much a matter of ability as it is of willingness, and that of being really interested in the welfare of the church.
We cannot close without asking all who read this to consider well these questions: If you are a church member, do you realize that this means obligation? as well as privilege? Are you considering these obligations, and trying to discharge them with a thankful heart for the mercies and blessings that have been bestowed upon you?


"Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel."--1 Cor. ix. 14.
(The following is from an editorial which appeared in the "Messenger of Peace" August 15, 1917.)

A minister who would have it in mind to serve with a selfish purpose, just for what would be gain to him in material things, would be unworthy of the name of a follower of Christ. But there is another side. What is the duty of the church to the minister? Must the church just agree that the minister's labor is one of self-denial and sacrifice, considering that she is entirely relieved from all responsibility of caring for him? Surely this is not the Bible idea. Paul, in the 9th chapter of his first letter to the church at Corinth, argues a just claim on the church for his support. It would seem that this church had administered help to some, not only taking care of the preacher, but of the wife, sister and perhaps other dependents. (Verse 5). He claims that he was truly a called minister and so had a right to this support as well as others. "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas?" He does not stop at this, but says that he as a minister should not be compelled to work for his living. "Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working?"
Applying this principle now, have not ministers who have proved their gift, a right from their calling to cease from working? They might indeed work, for conditions might exist that could not at once be changed, that they hinder not the gospel; but that the right to forbear working goes with the calling is the clear argument of the Apostle Paul. A church has no right to deny the claim for support when she has recognized the call and the gift and accepted the service. The preacher may not make the claim, for he does not lay the obligation on the church. The same Lord that lays the obligation on the man to be His servant, lays the obligation on the church to take care of him. The apostle argues this point at some length. Paul takes the case of a soldier to represent the case of a minister. The preacher has been drafted as a soldier, to use modern terms. No soldier is expected to go to war at his own charges. Our own government is considering not only the living of the soldier, but the care of his dependents. Who is it that bears the care of this soldier? The people for whom he fights, for it is the people who must pay the expenses of the war in this illustration. We all know that this is true in the case of our own government. Some have seemed to think that as the Lord calls the man to be a soldier, let the Lord take care of him. You try this in the case of the government that protects and provides for you. Say to the tax gatherer, "It is not my business to pay the expense of this war, it is the duty of the government to do that." "Well," say the tax gatherer, "that is just what the government is preparing to do, and this is the way it does it."
Those to whom spiritual things are ministered are required to minister carnal things. "Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?" The law provided that the ox should not be muzzled which trod out the corn. The apostle tells us that there is a reason for this law beyond that of taking care of oxen. "For our sakes no doubt this was written." He then seals the meaning of the matter by concluding, "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?" "Do ye not know," said the apostle, "that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." There can be no mistaking this statement. It is clear perversion of the scriptures to try to make it mean anything other than the temporal living. We may say it means that he who preaches the gospel feeds on the gospel while he preaches. But the apostle's next expression shows clearly that he means no such thing, for he says, "but I have used none of these things." Remarkable it would be if the apostle preached the gospel and then used none of its encouragement and joy! It means that instead of insisting on his rights to be maintained without working, for reasons which seemed best to him, he did not use this power. But although he did not himself make use of this right to be supported, he very clearly asserted his right to claim it, because it was a rule that God had established--"even so hath the Lord ordained."
This word, "ordained" means to establish as a law or rule. God established a law that the priests under the old dispensation should live of the things of the temple; that is of the things which were brought up for the sacrifices, a certain portion was taken for the support of the priests. For this reason they were given no allotment of the land when it was divided among the Israelites. When all did their duty as the law required, there was a living for the priests. But when the people forsook the Lord's house, ceasing to make the required sacrifices, then the priests were obliged to quit the house of the Lord and turn to husbandry and other work for a living; and this the Lord condemned. So now when the church neglects her ministers, they are compelled to go into the fields and the shops for a living. It is no harder on a minister to work than to preach. But it is robbing the church of the service that it needs and ought to have, and that the Lord has provided in the call of the ministry, and the gifts He has bestowed for that purpose. I have no sympathy for, nor patience with, the statement that the church is just what the Lord would have it be, and that His ministers are doing just what is best, and according to His expressed will in regard to serving the church. Such statements make void the record of the scriptures in which the Lord reproves His people for neglecting His service and turning away from His altars. It is a rejection of the scriptures to say that it pleased the Lord for His ancient people to turn after idols instead of serving the true and the living God.
The choosing of the first deacons indicates how important it is that the ministers should give all their time to the work of the Lord. "Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables." So they were to appoint men over the work that was hindering the apostles. "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." This is apostolic practice and ought to be the practice now. If Paul would exhort Timothy to give himself, "wholly to reading," to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditation, etc., surely that would be the right course now. As it was then, so it is now, wrong for a soldier to entangle himself with the affairs of this life. We deplore the low state of our churches, and the dearth of spiritual things, and then make it necessary by our course for our ministers to give themselves to the affairs of this life, so dulling their interests and freedom of mind with such things, and thus taking their time, which ought to be given to the church, and then wonder why the Lord has forsaken us, and turned a deaf ear to our petitions.
This matter has been on my mind and heart for many years. I am now getting along in years, and care very little for what men shall say of me, if only I may have the approval of my Lord, and feel to be in accord with His word. While I am in this tabernacle, and until I am called away, I hope to raise my voice and use my pen against the grievous error into which we have fallen, and I appeal to my fellow laborers to no longer hold their peace. For Zion's sake cry aloud! Our preachers are determined that our people shall be taught the essential doctrines of the Bible. A pastor would be remiss indeed not to have preached to the church he serves on the doctrines of salvation by grace, and on church discipline to some degree at least. But one among the most important subjects the church has to consider is the relation of the minister to the existence of the church. There is no record, to my knowledge, of a church that has existed long in an organized state without the preaching of the gospel.
The character and stability of the churches are shaped to a great degree by the ministry that serves them. The preacher, knowing this, should try to give to the church what the Bible teaches on this important practice. Therefore he ought to teach the church what is the relation of the church to the ministry and the ministry to the church, and the dependence of each upon the other. Our preachers have no doubt neglected this teaching to the injury of the church. I think what has led to this neglect has been the fear of being called a "money hunter;" or being charged with being in favor of a salary for preaching. But this is not a good excuse. If a preacher regulated his preaching altogether by what people thought of it and him, he would come very far from the truth. Acting upon this principle he would not preach salvation by grace, for the world would not have that. He would not preach righteous living, for the licentious would object to that. He could not preach liberality, for the covetous would find fault with him on that point; and there would be no subject upon which he would feel free to speak, if he considered the opinions of others. So there is no excuse for a preacher not teaching his churches and congregations what the Bible tells him to teach on the subject of what the church should do for her pastor. It is surely in the Bible and it ought to be taught as well as other truths.
Now while I write I am wondering how many preachers will think as they read this, "I know that is true," and then will be content to drift along without saying one word in their sermons on this subject, really leaving the matter so that no one can tell just where they stand. Is this becoming to the service of the Most High, to be so indifferent in preaching that no positive position will be taken? Brethren in the ministry, make a study of what the Bible teaches on the subject of the church ministering of her carnal things for the support of the ministry, and then preach it--declare it from the pulpit--with the plain insistence that you try to teach other truth. If you do not do it, why not? Are you afraid of what people will say to you and about you? Will you serve men rather than God? We certainly ought to obey God rather than men.
And then what action are the churches going to take? The members should all be Bible readers, and should we hesitate what course to take when the word of God points it out? If it is the duty of the churches to furnish material support for the living of the ministry, shall we do it, or not do it? Many good brethren think we ought to support our ministers, but they have no definite idea about how it is to be done, or what amount contributed. It is not the part of men and followers of the Lord Jesus to be undecided in regard to such an important matter. As a rule it is not because they have no opinion on the matter, but just timidity in speaking the truth in the face of criticism. But those who criticize should be forced to meet the matter on Bible grounds. The future of our church in many places is at stake. There is no one to minister to them that can do so at his own charges. Without preaching, the churches languish and die. God will not compel His preachers to serve those who would muzzle the mouth of the ox that treat out the corn, nor to tend a flock where he is not permitted to drink of the milk of the flock. When the church starves the preacher, it starves itself. When it compels him to labor with his own hands for a living, it robs itself of his labor, and ties the hands of the servant of the Lord.
Many churches are amply able to do much for the cause in the way of providing for those who preach the gospel, but have no concert of action among the members as to what they ought to do. They only think of "Paying expenses." Expenses of the trip from home to the church where the service is to be given, is not the "living." This practice takes it for granted that it is the duty of the preacher to labor with his own hands to make his own living; and that if the church calls him away it must give him a little for his time perhaps, but mainly be concerned with his "expenses" in coming to the church and returning. Let me say plainly, this is not enough to feed, clothe and provide for a family, which a minister is at liberty to have. He should not take his time, which the Lord has required since calling him to preach the word, and waste it on secular affairs, for the church needs him and all his time. He has blessed and will bless the members of the church so that they can provide for his living if all will but do their duty. This is according to the type in the Old Testament. The Levites were to depend entirely upon the other tribes for their support, and so long as they moved along as the Lord directed, they did not want for anything.
Brother, sister, what does the Bible teach on this subject? Do not be satisfied with letting it go the way it has been going for years, unless the bible says that is the right way. What if our old time preachers did make their own living, and preach for the churches beside. Give them credit for being unselfish, Godfearing and sacrificing, but did the church do its duty by them? That is the question to be decided. And will the pastors and preachers of this present day be found guiltless if they raise not their voices to restore the way of the Lord according to His word? What if they can speak as the Apostle Paul did--not that it should be so done unto them--still let them follow the example of the apostle and teach what is the Lord's will in the matter. Perhaps in the years to come this will bear fruit.
There were churches that administered to the apostle's needs even while he labored for the church at Corinth, and he called this taking wages of others that he might serve the church that was neglecting its duty. This is a suggestion that many of our wealthy churches might profit by now. They should not settle down to think, Well, we are giving one-fourth enough for our pastor's support, and he is serving three other churches, let them make up the balance. Perhaps the other three are poor; or some of them might be like the church at Corinth, and this well-to-do church that I speak of ought to do like the brethren in Macedonia did for Paul--make up what the others lacked.
Take the Bible for it, brethren, and then be free to say to your pastor, We need you this week to visit our members, and those who ought to be members, and the sick, and look after the interests of our church in many ways; and he will not be prepared to say, "I would like to, but really I have not time," for his time will be yours. Did you but know how discouraged and heartsick many a preacher has been when he saw how little he could accomplish with the small amount of time and energy he had left after digging in the earth for the bare necessities of life, your heart and soul would be more earnestly engaged in making the pastor's work your work. You may have spent all your time, nearly, for yourself; perhaps taking one working day out of the month for your church and the service of God, with very little thought as to how the preacher lived, and how it was that he could visit your church and preach for you.
Think how praiseworthy it is for a man to spend his time in the service of his Master down to old age, preaching the gospel of Jesus. Now turn the matter a little further around--how praiseworthy of you, if you would loose the hands of such a one by feeding him while he preached. I know many who think they love the cause, and delight to honor the soldiers of the cross, but it has been plain to me that they have never considered themselves as connected with this work, and that they did not think how the Lord had blessed them so that they might help, in this material way, in the proclamation of the gospel. They never got down into the depths of the thought of how great a burden was laid on the ministry as compared with what they were bearing. How much easier it would be for them to make the "Living" than it would be to have to preach!
Say, brethren, ministers and all, let us take the covering off this subject, that has been treated as though it were dangerous to get close to it, and let us speak aloud of it, treating it like the scriptures treat it, in the open light of day. Let us not talk all around, and a long way off, but with the open bible in our hands, search out God's way. Brethren, ministers of mature years, you can break off a lot of these shackles by speaking out. You have borne the burden and heat of the day uncomplainingly, and you feel like the Apostle Paul, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel." You may not want these things done to you, but you can speak for the truth of God, for the good of the church in the coming generation. The exigencies of the hour call for you to speak before you go home. Younger men await your leading. They fear to be called forward. Speak out against covetousness with a trumpet voice, and point the marching, yet fearful, hosts of Israel by the pillar of fire and cloud. Time rolls on and soon you will be called to your home purchased by the blood of the Lamb. Speak now, in the fear of the Lord, and with indifference to what men shall say; tell Israel the way that is marked out by the word of inspiration.
Lest some young preacher should get a wrong impression of the obligation of the church to him, I will say that the obligation first falls on the minister to feed the flock of God. Paul said if he had ministered spiritual things, it should not be thought a great matter if he should be ministered to of the carnal things of those whom he had served. Notice that he rendered his service first. You must make full proof of your ministry first. You must feed others before expecting them to feed you. You must labor and teach in patience. Whether men will respond or whether they will withhold, you have no choice but to go on serving the Master. But if you serve faithfully and well, teaching the word of God without fear or favor, God will take care of you through the church, which is His appointed way, or by His providence. Do not doubt Him, just labor on. It must be a labor of love on your part. If you are covetous and impatient you will find the road hard and discouraging. But under any and all circumstances be true to the truth of God.


"Pray without ceasing."--1 Thess. v. 17.
(A sermon published in the "Messenger of Peace," March 15, 1923.)

Nearly every form of religion includes prayer. The heathen prays to his idol. In many religions that are called Christian the devotee prays to what he understands to be God, or rather to a god of such attributes as his imagination pictures. In all these forms, it is the idea of him who prays that the one to whom prayer is made, is above him who offers the prayer. It needs no argument to prove that the idol has not as much power as he who gave it form and fashioned it. Those who think to pray to the God of the bible, in their ideas of Him, put Him above the idol god, but in many cases strip Him of the power that is attributed to Him in the Bible. The God of the Bible has all power, and governs according to His will, and yet He will have His children ask Him for the things that He will give them. All those whose lives have been recorded in the Bible, who have been approved, have been persons who have prayed to God. This is notably true of Moses. Moses was a great man, and put in place of authority, yet he prayed to God. All men should be impressed with the fact that they are not independent of the God of heaven, for He rules over all. All the blessings they have in a natural way come from God, and He can shut up the heavens that rain will not come upon the earth - famine and distress will come without His blessing. These blessings come upon the unbelieving, for God is good and forbearing. His rain falls on the just and the unjust. He sent the flood to show how He hated sin, and that He had power to punish sinners, and yet He made a covenant that He would no more send such a judgment upon the earth, to show His kindness and longsuffering. It is not that men are not great sinners now that the earth is not destroyed, it is because of the longsuffering of God, and because He can carry out His purpose over the rebelliousness of Man. But when the nations forget Him as the ruler, and rebellion and injustice grow great, He lets His judgment fall, that they may know there is a God in the heavens. The great world's war has proved that the words of Jesus are true, that they that take the sword, and by it endeavor to rule, shall perish by the sword. So God is still ruling, and He will continue to rule in this way that nations may fear Him. If the manifestations of God's power among natural men in the world is so plain, what may we not expect among those to whom He has manifested Himself in a special way?
Moses prayed to the Lord to spare Israel when they did not keep the statutes of the Lord, and went after heathen nations. One one occasion the Lord, representing His justice, said to Moses to stand aside that He might destroy the Israelites and make of Moses a nation. But Moses, representing the mercy of God, prayed that Israel might be spared. This was a prayer of faith, for Moses knew that the Lord's mercy endureth forever, and that He had promised good concerning Israel. The Lord hearkened to Moses and spared Israel, only visiting chastisement instead of destruction.
Elijah prayed that it might not rain, and it rained not for a space of three years and six months. He then prayed again, and the heavens gave rain. James brings this instance up to show the efficacy of prayer, and to justify his statement that "The effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much." The word here translated "effectual" may also be translated "operative." There is no use for us to try to philosophize on how the righteous man comes to pray. We may argue that he is inspired to pray, or given the spirit to pray, but the text taken does not say to pray without ceasing when the spirit is given you to pray. Jesus, in teaching to pray, did not first introduce the subject by saying that you cannot pray, until the Lord gives you a spirit of prayer. It is true, however, that no one can and will pray in faith and fervency until he has been given the spirit of prayer. But, whomsoever the Lord quickens, is given the spirit of prayer. The publican prayed, and it was the right spirit too. But there is such a thing as quenching the Spirit. "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath," and not the working of a carnal, reasoning mind.
David believed in prayer. Some of his psalms are entirely an expression of prayer. He said, "Evening, and morning, and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and He will hear my voice." Daniel believed in prayer, and was willing that all men should know that he trusted that God would help him. So he prayed three times a day, and showed that he was praying by his attitude, and doubtless, by his voice also. When it was decreed by the king that he should not thus pray he dared to disregarded the edict of the king, because he believed that the God to whom he prayed was mightier than the king and all the peoples of the earth.
Greatest of all the examples of prayer is that of Jesus Himself. It is perfectly absurd to say that He, being God, did not need to pray. He did not pray as God, He prayed as Jesus, who is the Son of God, and also the son of Mary. He was made flesh like unto His brethren, those for whom He died, and being touched with the feeling of their weaknesses, He prayed. He said, to express His faith in prayer, that the Father heard Him always. He prayed aloud at times that others might know to whom He prayed, and that His prayer was heard and answered. This should shut the mouths of all who are disposed the theorize about prayer.
Prayer is the cry of a felt need, and goes up on the wings of faith to Him who has power to answer, and whose disposition is to relieve those who cry unto Him. Jesus spoke a parable on the subject of prayer, the teaching being that God would hear those who continue to pray unto Him (Luke xviii.1). So likely are we to forget to pray, that it is mentioned some set times to pray; Daniel prayed three times a day. Peter went up on the housetop at the hour of prayer. Luke records (Acts xvi.13) that there was a place down by the riverside where prayer was wont to be made. The Lord's house is called a "house of prayer," so our rules prescribe that our services are to be opened and closed with prayer. It would be better to have a set time to pray than not to pray at all. What we are not careful to do regularly, we are likely to neglect until we do not do it at all. A spirit of prayer can be cultivated as can other Christian virtues.
A prayerless church would be a cold church indeed. The early church believed in and trusted in prayer. The church had a prayer meeting at the house of Mary, the mother of John, when Peter was in prison. The Lord delivered Peter and he came to the house where they were praying. They had been praying earnestly for his deliverance, but of course they could not know how the Lord would do it. So we pray from the heart and not from the head. When Peter came to he house they could hardly be convinced in mind that the Lord had delivered Peter in the way he had been delivered, because the way of the Lord is past finding out. So, we may pray for a thing and not understand how the Lord can answer our prayer. A story is told of a mother who was much distressed because her son intended to go to sea. She prayed that her son might not go to sea. She confided her trouble to a minister, telling him of the prayer of her heart. He saw her years later and recalled her interest about her son, and asked her about him. She replied that her prayer was answered but admitted her son did go to sea. "How then," said the minister, "was your prayer answered?" "O," said she, "All I desired was the safety of my boy. I prayed that he might not go to sea, not thinking that the Lord could care for him there, but He did."
It was the custom of the church to be engaged in prayer. Luke says, "And it came to pass as we went to prayer (Acts xvi. 16). Paul and Silas, when in prison (Acts xvi. 25), prayed and sang. They felt dependent on God for deliverance, but they had such faith in Him that they rejoiced. It is true that we are not at all times in the right spirit to pray. Jesus said often, "According to thy faith so be it unto thee." We are to accept the evidence of the scriptures, and the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and having faith in God, we ask for what things we need. Therefore we should make a study of the scriptures on the subject of prayer and its answers, that we may not be unbelieving, but believe the words of Jesus, who said we should ask and that we should receive; that if we should knock, it would be opened unto us. We may not know how He will answer our prayers, and He may not answer just when and as we would desire that He should, but His word for it, He will not be deaf to our entreaties. See Mark xi. 24.
There is a condition stated in regard to prayer. Jesus said, "And when ye stand praying, forgive if ye have aught against any; that your Father which is in heaven may forgive your trespasses."--Mark xi. 25. He also taught his disciples to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." These are very searching instructions, and by the Savior Himself, in whose name the petition is to be offered. It will not be consistent to violate His instructions and then to close--"in Jesus' name." We are not left without example and exhortation as to what to pray for. There are many things that we have no warrant to pray for, and so cannot pray in faith for them. We may not pray for worldly things and worldly advancement unless we have a good motive in doing so. We do not know in these things what would be best for us. What we might set our hearts on, if it were given to us, might work against us. Israel prayed for a king, and the Lord let hem have their wish, but Saul was a curse to them. But we have only to study the scriptures to learn for what to pray. Some brethren excuse themselves from public prayer because they say they do not know for what to pray. But they might get over that difficulty if that were the only one. Note some of the things for which it is right to pray:
1. We should pray for pardon. The publican began at the right place. Paul exhorted, "Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." This would seem to be in good order. We have no right to pray, except on the plea of mercy. When we pray we should remember that it is a sinner praying, and that his prayer cannot be granted except mercy is extended to him. So with every prayer, and at all times, one thing to pray for is mercy, that our sins may be forgiven, and that the Lord may accept us and our prayer for Jesus' sake.
2. We shall certainly need grace with all the blessings that it brings. We need grace to soften the heart; grace to humble the proud spirit; grace to import faith; grace to strengthen; grace to direct us; grace to lead and grace to protect. Paul's favorite benediction was, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." We need to sing, "Amazing grace," and to pray that grace may be shed abroad in our hearts. If we could think of only two things for which to pray, words ought not to be so hard to find, if the two things were mercy and grace.
3. We are promised the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. Do we need the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit can give understanding to know the scriptures; can teach what to say; He is a comforter; a guide to the church; a guide to the minister; a witness to them a that obey. The Holy Spirit sets ministers as overseers over the churches. We need not doubt that the Holy Spirit will be given. "If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." Jesus had been telling those whom He was addressing that if a son should ask a good gift it would not be denied. If he should ask for bread, a stone would not be given to him; nor would he be given a serpent if he should ask for a fish. His conclusion is, that if an earthly father would thus respond to the request of a son, much more would our heavenly Father, who is full of love and power, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, as that is one of the best gifts that we could ask for while traveling through this world. We need Him as a comforter and guide. So we should always think to ask for the Holy Spirit.
4. "I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all goodness and honesty."--1 Tim. ii. 1,2. This exhortation takes into account that God is the sovereign ruler over all. God's restraining providence is necessary that wicked men may be held in check that all liberty be not destroyed, and vice and corruption so overrun the world that civil government be impossible, and the saints be put in jeopardy every hour. We should have an interest in all men, enough to pray God's mercy in their behalf, for we should remember that without God's electing grace we would be worldly, sensual and under condemnation. So as God is merciful, it becomes us to exhibit a merciful character, for it is written, "blessed are the merciful." So for the good of the world we should desire that the better natures of men shall lead them, and that our nation should be blessed with righteous rulers.
5. "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."--Matt. v. 44. It may seem to impose a very hard task to love those who are enemies, but if the Lord Jesus had not done that we would be without hope, for we were enemies. In this we are exhorted to be the children of our heavenly Father. That is, to be His children in our character and deeds. We say of a son when he is following in his father's steps, "He is a son of his father." That is true of those who profess to be children of God. It may be said of them sometimes, that they do not act according to their profession, that is, they do not act like the children of God. So we should be careful not to act hatefully toward those who are not friends of ours and even though they may persecute us, we should not feel to call down the judgments of God upon them, but rather pray that He may be merciful to them. If we feel this way we shall show it in our actions.
6. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (the church); they shall prosper that love thee."--Ps. cxxii. 6. Paul prayed for the church (Eph. iii. 14) that the members might have spiritual blessings. There is always need to pray for the church, that the name of Jesus may be honored and the saints comforted. In the wonderful prayer of Jesus, with which He closed His ministry, which is recorded in the 17th chapter of John, He prays for the church. Members of a church are not likely to be of much benefit to a church unless they bear it in their hearts to pray for it. It is very plainly manifest if members have it in their hearts to pray earnestly for the church. What their hearts are earnestly seeking will be manifested in their lives. One could not consistently say that he was praying to God to bless the church and at the same time be indifferent to its services and to things that pertained to its welfare. If he cared enough for the church to take it in prayer to God, he would care enough to do all that he could for it. "They shall prosper that love thee," said the psalmist. That is, they shall prosper in spiritual things, for the church pertains to spiritual things. They who are not in sincere sympathy with the church are not likely to prosper in spiritual matters.
7. The members must pray for each other. Jesus taught us to pray for all. It will certainly help us in our manifestations of love to one another to have named our brethren before the throne of God's grace. Paul wrote to the Romans that he made mention of them in his prayers, and so he wrote to the Ephesians. We know that God knows our heart, and how could we go before Him and ask a blessing on one that we were not treating with brotherly love? And, too, how could we treat one harshly and unbrotherly that we had named in prayer in the name of Jesus? The spirit of Christ would lead us to pray even for our enemies. So there will be subject for much prayer if we take into consideration the varied lot and circumstances of all our brethren--some in affliction, some in weakness, some in poverty, and some like ourselves, with unfortunate dispositions.
8. Many came to Jesus praying that the members of their families might be healed, and He granted their requests. Certainly we should be so interested in our own flesh and blood that we take them in our prayers to God. Paul prayed for his kinsmen according to the flesh (Rom. ix. 3). Certainly parents, who feel so deeply interested in their own offspring, should not only pray for them, but they should let those children know that they thus petition the Most High God to protect, guide, and save them by His grace. I heard an old preacher telling his experience. He had been very wild and worldly. He was riding along the road, and heard a voice. He stopped and listened. It was his mother's voice. With increased attention he listened. He heard her mention his own name, praying that God's mercy might be on him. Never had he heard his mother say anything that affected him so much. She was actually carrying him in her love to the throne of God.
9. The whole church, and all its members in person, should pray that ministers be sent to labor for the churches. Jesus taught, "Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest."--Matt. ix.38. We may have ministers now, but they are growing old, perhaps, and soon their day of labor will be done. We should be sincerely interested that other gifts be given the church. And then when they are manifested we should act toward them in a manner that will show that we are praying for them. If we are truly praying for them we shall help them and bear much with their imperfections.
Then, too, we should pray for those who labor for us now in the word. Paul wrote to the churches that they should pray for him. To the Thessalonians: "Brethren, pray for us." "Withal praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance." In his last letter he wrote, "Finally, brethren, pray for us." Your preacher cannot preach to your edification unless the Lord's blessing be upon him. It will encourage him in his work to know you are thus praying, for if he is what he should be, he knows that he cannot edify the church except the Lord be with him. The members should not wait until they arrive at the church to pray for the minister, but it should be the thought at home to pray that the pastor may be so blessed of God that the church shall be encouraged and made strong for life's duties under his ministry.
When we consider how weak we are, so weak indeed that we can do nothing acceptably in the house of God without His help, this conviction of itself would lead us to prayer. Then the life in this world is so full of danger, and we are so short-sighted that we cannot see before us, we need the protection of our heavenly Father, and this would make us seek a throne of grace. So considering all the things that we are encouraged in God's word to pray for, and our great need of divine aid, the exhortation to "pray without ceasing" seems most reasonable indeed. The type of the prayers of the saints is the smoke of the incense that was to go up before God continually. In John's wonderful vision of heavenly things he saw that the four beasts and the four and twenty elders, which fell down before the throne, had "every one of them harps and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints." So no doubt the prayers of the poorest of the flock come up as incense before God. What can each of us do to help the church along? Paul answers, "Ye also helping together by prayer for us."--2 Cor. i. 11.

"What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Everything to Him in prayer.
"Oh! what peace we often forfeit,
Oh! what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to Him in prayer."


"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth; and the isles shall wait for His law."--Isaiah xlii. 4

There is so much failure connected with everything on the earth that many seem to think that from one cause or another there is likely to be more or less failure in the scheme of salvation of sinful men. And looking at the matter from the ideas entertained by so many, that man is such an important factor in the accomplishment of God's purposes, it would look like the conclusion would be inevitable that there is likely to be a very great failure. It is on this point that Primitive Baptists are so very much different from other religionists. But there is little success in getting the Arminian world to see differently, because of the fact that they are so loth to turn away from a preconceived idea that men must be left to decide the matter, not only for themselves, but for others also. This notion is taught them from childhood, and is so firmly fixed in their minds that they will not look carefully into the scriptures to see if it is really taught in God's word. If one admits this proposition as a truth, that the cooperation of man is really a part of the plan of God in the salvation of the sinner, then the conclusion is certainly a consistent one.
Man has proven to be a failure from the very creation, not because God failed in His creation, but because of the rebellion and transgression of man. God created him an accountable being. A creature could not be an accountable being if the will could not be exercised, either because he was not made with will, or because he was so hedged in by environment that his acts were determined by the environment. God made man with a will of such character that he could be held to account. This is not a matter for dispute. The fact that God gave man a law, and required obedience, and fixed a penalty for disobedience, determines that the man could act of himself in a moral way. Did God let him act in this way? or did God put such environment about the man that the environment determines the act of the man, and not the man's will? The fact that the blame is put upon the man, decides that the man's will determined the act of the man, and not the environment. And further, the blame is put upon the man, and not upon his Creator, therefore there was not a created tendency that the man could not control.
The record puts the blame for the fall upon the man. Here is the first failure--it is man's failure. God did not fail, He created an accountable being with knowledge and will, and it was a perfect work, and pronounced "good." From this first failure to live upright starts a wretched line of failures to which sacred and profane history bear witness. Those who follow after Adam, fail as signally as did he. Of course his failure affected all his progeny, but they failed to correct the failure of Adam in their own lives. Not only have they failed to lift the character of man, but the race grew continually worse--they continued to fail, and the flood is evidence of that fact. Men in later days tried to remedy the failures that had been made, not by correcting them, but by bridging them over as it were, in the erection of the tower of Babel. They would force a connection with God by physical means as they had lost it by moral degeneracy. This could only prove a failure for God is a spirit. They could not come in nearer approach to Him by removing distance, for He is everywhere present. And so their foolish failure was cut short. Their great failure was in not discerning God and His character.
Passing by a multitude of failures of individual effort we may come to what perhaps appeared as a gigantic success of men, and that was the formation of the Egyptian dynasty, which grew in strength for more than two thousand years. Judging from a human standpoint, untaught by the lessons of the ages, it might have looked as though it would grow to become so strong that it could never be overthrown. But after reaching a great height, as the excavations are still disclosing, it tumbled and fell. It was built by man, and it failed and became a thing of the past. In like manner came up the Grecian power, which also fell from its glory in the heroic age, because it was built up by human wisdom and energy, and that must fail. One thousand years before Christ, the Roman empire took its rise, and gained in power until it ruled the world, but it fell. So one might go on, noting the rise and fall of nations, which shows that the strength of man's wisdom and power come very far short of being something that can never fail.
Time after time the kingdoms of Israel came up and attained power, only to fall ignominously, because men fail. Then came the gospel age, and according to the way men seem to think now, the churches gathered then should be still strong and thriving. But where is the church at Jerusalem? in which gathered the apostles to preach and teach and sing the praise of God, and talk of the Christ who bowed to death only to rise a triumphant conqueror over the grave. Where is the Jerusalem church? Its history is the recital of another failure. What about the good church at Antioch? where Paul saw such manifestations of grace that he was glad. Again we have a repetition of history. It failed, because the stability of local militant churches depends on the faithfulness of their members, and men are such failures. Where one fights a good fight of faith, many, very many, grow cold in love, and a decline in faithfulness marks the close.
See the condition of churches so-called in the United States now. Contention and division are upon every hand. Are they in such a condition that it looks encouraging if the salvation of sinners be resting on the continuation and efforts of these bodies? The missionary boards in one of the denominations reports a debt of over two million dollars hanging over it, and it is hard to raise even the interest, to say nothing of enlarging the work and carrying it on. All this has the effect of making those who have no better view than to think the matter is in the hands of men, doubt whether God is really connected with this work, if indeed there be a God. And the more these professional soul-savers assert that God is depending upon them, the more the doubt grows about the whole matter with an ever growing number of people.
But let us turn from this discouraging, unscriptural view of things to that given us by the prophet Isaiah. Let us remember, too, that this matter of salvation for sinners is God's own purpose and plan. He who has all wisdom, which He has demonstrated to a great extent in the creation of all things visible, certainly would have discovered any and all weak places too clearly to have included them in His plan. In the first creation He left man accountable for his own downfall. But in raising this man from condemnation under a just law, and contamination in sin, and the weakness that follows it, He makes man no propositions which are conditioned on his obedience. No one can find such a plan set forth in the scriptures. God lays help on One who is able and mighty to save. Jesus saves. He is to be "merciful to their unrighteousness."
God said to Isaiah, "Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Who can doubt that the Lord here speaks of Christ Jesus? God's salvation is based on His love and mercy, and He having all wisdom, He certainly chose One in whom He has the utmost confidence, and having all wisdom, He cannot be mistaken. But to make the matter sure He is to uphold His servant with His own power, and to that end He puts His spirit upon Him. This will insure their working together so that there will be no failure in this plan. This reveals to us the purpose of God. He is not to trust in man. In the declaration of His purpose He only speaks of His Son, who will not fail, because He is upheld, and directed by His spirit and power, who being all-powerful cannot fail.
Let us get as clear a view of the plan of God as we can. How does He design to save man? Nowhere is it said that He is to save man by appealing to the man to make amends and to change his course. The man is not to pay himself out. God knows the man too well to adopt that course. So He sends His Son to pay men out. Christ is known as a redeemer. A redeemer is one who pays what is held as a charge. Here the sinner has such a debt that he cannot pay it. So it is charged over to Jesus. "He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."--Gal. iii. 13. Paul says, "He loved me and gave Himself for me." Titus understood that Jesus paid the debt that the sinner owed. He says, "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."--Titus ii. 14.
The question comes up, Could He do it, and did He do it? Jesus said, "I lay down My life for the sheep." He went down to death; not for His own sins, for He was without sin. But He bare our sins in His own body on the cross, and put them away by the offering of Himself. It looked once like He might be going to fail. He said, "If it be possible let the cup pass." But He quickly asserted His victory over self, in which he was man as well as God, and said, "Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done." In closing His testimony as to His work here as the Redeemer, He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." His work of redeeming from sin took Him to the tomb, but He did not fail. He came forth a triumphant victor, having bought those for whom He died with His precious blood. There is no other condition upon those for whom He died to free them from the bondage of the law. His work is perfect, and He made full payment, so they are not under the curse of the law, as He was made a curse for them. This was not an attempt at redemption, it was a full and complete atonement. So those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy and without blame, "have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." His Father sent Him to do this work, and told Isaiah over seven hundred years before He came, that He should not fail. Had He failed to pay all that was against those for whom He died, He could never have come forth from the tomb, as He stood in their place and took their penalty upon Himself.
No wonder the religious world is discouraged about getting all for whom Christ died to heaven, for they think that, although Christ died, there is something more to be done before His work is really efficacious. Sinners must believe, and they think it is the work of the church to get them to believe. So if the church does not do its work, then those for whom Christ died will not hear the gospel and believe, and at least a part of Christ's work will be lost, and His blood spilt in vain. It is a relief to turn from such a system to the sure mercies of David, founded on the sacrifice of Jesus, and the acceptance by the Father of His intercession, which is based upon what He has done, and not upon what the sinner and his human friends may do, with the certain probability that in thousands and thousands of cases they will not do.
But there is something else to be done after Jesus has made His sacrifice. Sinners must be born again. It is not an immaterial matter, Jesus settled that by saying to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again He cannot see the kingdom of heaven." The translators say that it would give the meaning properly to read it "born from above." This in no wise changes the meaning, but it lays stress on the fact that this birth is a spiritual birth, a birth from heaven, not simply a change of mind, or a reformation of life. It should include a reformation of life, but a reformation of life without it would not entitle one to the kingdom of heaven.
What is the plan of bringing sinners into this state? The common idea is, that it is the object of gospel preaching to get men to agree, or decide, to be born again, if indeed it is admitted that there must be a work of the Holy Spirit. Others do not take into account that there must be a work of the Holy Spirit, all that needs to be done is to get the sinner to believe on Christ, which is simply a matter of deciding in his mind--the same mind and will that he has had all along, except that now he turns it toward Jesus. Then the sacrifice of Jesus is turned to his benefit, and as long as he is in this mind, he is saved. But if he does not stay in this mind, then the benefits of Christ's death are withdrawn, and he will be lost, unless he is converted again or got to change his mind again. Now with either of these views God does not act directly, and independent of men, but must have the minister, or the influence of some human being, to get the sinner in a savable state. God's love and Jesus' redemption blood cannot, or will not, reach the case without a human intermediary. All the history of the world as to the uncertainty of the acts of men, or rather as to the certainty of failure in the end of a purpose depending on men, would indicate that God's purpose toward thousands and multiplied thousands is likely to fail under this system.
But how different when we accept the statement made to Isaiah, and find that this important work has been put into safe hands, and taken out of the field of uncertainties. The Lord would never have used the language that He did in regard to Christ had this important work been put in jeopardy. God calls His elect. That is, Christ was chosen for this very work because of His fitness for it. "Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth." Can He be trusted to send the Spirit into the hearts of those for whom He shed His blood? The great example given us in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus shows what Jesus can do. It is clear that there were no human instrumentalities at work in this case. Saul was a strong minded, educated man, and all the mind that he had was opposed to Jesus. He was on the way to apprehend any that called on the name of Jesus. And when in this state of mind the light from heaven came about him. There was no belief on his part before this occurred. There was no yielding of his will. The voice came from heaven. It was not a voice of men, it was the voice that had power to convict. The sermon that Paul had heard preached when they stoned Stephen did not convict him of sin, nor change his mind. But the light and the voice from heaven did change Saul of Tarsus. It may be said that this was a miraculous work because an apostle was called to his office. Every one who is called from death unto life shows a miracle. They may not have the same demonstration that Paul had, but they have the same results in their lives.
"There are diversities of operations but it is the same God that worketh all in all." Here was put a check to the natural mind and evil designs of Saul. It takes the same spirit and power to put a check in the lives of men today that it took to put a check in the life of Saul. A light shone round about him. This light was not natural light, it was a light that affected the conscience, and let Saul see that he was sinning. Jesus has been exalted a prince and Savior for to give repentance and forgiveness of sins unto Israel. No one else can do it. A voice from heaven was heard by Saul. There were others that heard a sound, but there was no revelation to them in the sound. To Saul there was power and meaning. The same way with the light. Natural men may see that it is beyond doubt that others may have had a supernatural power come into their lives, but it does not come into their lives with the same result. "There shall be two women grinding at the mill, and one shall be taken and the other left." It was indeed a miraculous power that was working in the heart and consciousness of Saul, because it was the power of God, and that is a miraculous power in whomsoever it may work. This is a work in which Jesus shall not fail.
With the conditional world the great question is, How shall the world that lies in sin be converted to God? This has been the problem with men for many generations. They are no nearer the solution now than they were years and years ago. Speaking from the idea that the gospel is the light that lights men's hearts, the greater part of the world still lies in darkness. Heathens are being born much faster than they are being converted, if indeed the conversions that are counted were real regenerations. But they are far from it. Campaigns after campaigns are planned, and attempts made to carry them into execution year after year, to raise money enough to make some showing toward enlightening the world. But while these plans fall so far short of expectations, the condition in our own country grows so desperate that a minister in high standing in one of the modern churches said but recently that he thought at least one-third of the members in his church were unregenerate. And another who stood as high, thought perhaps there were half of his members that had no evidence that they had been born again. With this condition in the churches, and with the lack of respect for religion growing, what encouragement is there in looking to men to make the plan of God successful?
But as the Lord showed the matter to Isaiah, it looks more like God was in the matter, for He said, "And He shall not fail or be discouraged till He have set judgment in the earth." "Judgment" came into the life of Saul because Jesus brought it there. Saul said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" "I am Jesus" came the reply. If all men in the world had the zeal, and influence, against Christ that Saul had, would the case be hopeless? The example that was made of him would indicate that it would not. The power that created all worlds, can create a soul in Christ Jesus, and it is the testimony of the scriptures that those who have a hope of salvation in Jesus are "New creatures, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Whom God loved, and for whom Jesus died and shed His blood, will Jesus fail to claim as His own? It is Jesus' promise that He will send the Holy Spirit to reprove for sin. That was what took place in the conversion of Saul; he was reproved for sin. Jesus said, "I give unto them eternal life." If Jesus is to never be "discouraged" until He have set judgment in the earth, it opens to our view the encouraging thought that God will not fail in His purpose.
But the churches fail. So they do; but salvation does not hang upon the churches. Jesus saves. Ministers fail; indeed they do. But ministers are too unreliable to hang the destiny of immortal souls upon their actions. Parents love their children more than any others do. But what parents, who understand the character of Jesus, would not rather that the salvation of children rested on Jesus than upon their shoulders? They would do all they can, and should do their children all the good that they can in training them to keep the laws of God. But the children need more than to keep the law, for no soul shall be justified by keeping the law. They need to be born again; they need to have a new life, which parents cannot give. So when parents have done all that they can for their children they will fall upon their knees and pray to God to send the Holy Spirit to convict their offspring, and give them a hope in Jesus.
But what about the heathen who never hear the gospel? Well, according to the idea that their salvation depends on hearing and believing the gospel, and that it must be sent by the churches, it looks like the system would be a failure in their case, as church people are too covetous to part with their means to send the gospel, and others are not self-sacrificing enough to carry it without being paid to do so. Can Jesus save them without the gospel? Saving a soul means to give it eternal life which shall be in the individual like leaven in three measures of meal, that shall work and work until the whole is leavened. Saving a soul means to free it from all past effect of sin, from the corruption of present sin, and to preserve it in Jesus Christ to eternal glory. Getting people into the church should be understood to be for their present good; it is not saving people to get them into the church. Take an unsaved person into the church and he is still unsaved. If he is saved, it is when the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Jesus is applied, and if he is really a believer in Jesus that has already been done. "He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." This believing is real faith in Jesus as a Savior.
Why do we preach? Not that the salvation of sinners depends upon preaching, for if that were true, the blood of Jesus would have no efficacy farther than we carried the gospel, and that would throw the matter where failure would seal the fate of multiplied thousands. Upon what does the salvation of sinners depend? It depends upon what Jesus does. It depends upon His shed blood to redeem them and to cleanse them from all iniquity, and upon His giving them eternal life. But does it not depend upon their believing on Jesus? Just as much as the conversion of Saul depended upon his belief, but no more.
All the conditions that have been thought up by men to preach to sinners, but tend to make a system of failures. To preach Jesus as the only reason and the only way is a sure foundation, for He shall not fail. What discourages man has no effect on Him. He can change the heart of the heathen, and that is what the heathen need. He can cleanse them by His blood, and it can be done in no other way. He can cleanse the Roman Catholic, the Baptist, the Methodist, the Moslem, the heathen, for it is a heart-work and not a matter of mind, and human teaching, for that would limit it so as to write failure, in a measure at least, on the purpose and plan of God. A plan which has a factor in it that may defeat it, is a failure to the extent at least of the uncertain part of it.
Salvation will not be complete without the bringing forth of the bodies from the grave. Here at least all men stand aside and do not attempt to help, though quickening a soul dead in sins is as great a miracle as quickening a mortal body. Men think they can help or hinder the quickening of the soul, but the human mind staggers at quickening the mortal body; and so, many declare that it will not be done--cannot be done because they cannot comprehend it. But He who broke the confines of the tomb, and robbed death of its sting, can and will raise the bodies of the sleeping saints, for "He is the resurrection and the life." He who awakened the sleeping Lazarus, can wake any other sleeping one that He has loved, and for whom He poured out his blood. Can it be done? Cannot He who raised up His own sleeping body raise up the bodies of others? "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again," said Jesus. And He did it. Praise His holy name, He is no failure. Doubting saints, put on your beautiful garments, for the Captain of our salvation shall not fail. Our hope is on solid ground, and with His promise the gladness of the everlasting day, in which all tears shall be wiped away, is a certainty. Our gospel is not one of uncertainty.


(The following pages are taken from my work, "Practical Suggestions for Primitive Baptists." This work is out of print, but I have so many calls for it yet that I republish these pages here in response to the demand.)

Having briefly noticed some things pertaining to pastoral work and the preaching of the gospel, I will make this appeal to my brethren in the ministry. I trust that I feel the responsibility of the work, and think I know something of its weight and the sacrifices it requires.
There is no such thing as retiring a minister because of his age--he must wear out in the harness. He ought so to live that when he comes to the close of life it could be said of him that he had fought a good fight, that he had kept the faith. The memory and influence of this kind of a life should be esteemed a richer legacy than a fortune in this world's goods. To have faithfully devoted a life to serving the Lord's people is to have spent it well. It would be better to be remembered among the humble poor of the flock as a loving, firm and helpful pastor than to have one's name enrolled among the great of the earth. Preaching the gospel, and the pastor's ministrations, are like giving cold water to the thirsty, and the Master has said to give one cup of water in His name shall be rewarded.
The minister of the gospel is not promised wealth nor ease, and none of us certainly could have entered upon the work with these in view. Then if wealth and ease fail to be our lot we should not feel disappointed. The Lord called all His disciples to follow Him and we ought not to complain when the Lord Himself has gone before us. Self-servers have no business in the ministry. The minister of Christ must serve his Lord and his brethren, and sacrifice himself (2 Cor. xii. 15). Personal interest must not be allowed to dictate to him what he shall do. He should ask with a prayerful heart what the Lord will have him to do, and when this has been decided there should be no appeal from it, either to serve self or to please men. This will not mean that one must be harsh with those who differ from him, or that he shall try to force them to the right way, for he must be "patient," willing to contend earnestly for the truth in love, bearing the weaknesses of the brethren for Christ's sake, not being overcome of their evil or wrong ways, but overcoming them with good. This is not a pleasant prospect to one who knows what human nature is, yet a minister should take this course. He should do so, feeling that the Lord can strengthen him and enable him to endure all things.
Brethren, what a great responsibility there is in leading the flock. In ancient times the leaders of the people caused them to err; and are they not as liable to do so now? One can but think of Israel when they were afflicted for David's sin, and apply the same words to the churches which are led astray by their pastors: "What have these sheep done?" It is not infrequently the case where pastors blame churches that they themselves are the cause of the disorder in the church. It may be the pastor's example has led them astray; or it may be he has not preached to them the whole counsel of God and has left them uninstructed on many things; and on some things that they knew to do, they have not been stirred up to diligence, and have fallen into fault; or seeing they were in a wrong practice he did not reprove them, or having reproved them once became passive and did not insist that they should follow the right. This course, though not generally considered as actually wrong, is perhaps as blameworthy as to go wrong and suffer others to follow, for it is the duty of the pastor to reprove and rebuke when necessary. If he shall fail to do this the Master will not hold him faultless.
It is, perhaps, too often the case that pastors do not feel proper responsibility for the churches and members. It would awaken pastors to greater diligence if they felt they were accountable in a great measure for disorder and declension in the churches. When John was directed to write to the seven churches he addressed the reproofs, admonitions, etc., to the "angel" or minister of each church. Can a minister feel that he will not be held to account for his stewardship, when the Holy Ghost has given him oversight of a church to feed and care for it? Brother minister, as you look about you, do you not see many things in the churches that ought to be corrected? And not only in the churches but in the lives of the members. All these you should strive to correct, but especially in the church you should see to it that it is after the divine pattern. It is not merely a difference of opinion between you and the brethren, in which they are as likely to be right as you are, for then it would not be right to consider the matter as very serious. But what the Bible teaches, you are not at liberty to surrender because some do not have the right view of the matter, for if you were, a preacher would not have to study what God's word teaches, but he would need to ascertain the mind of those to whom he was preaching and then either preach to suit them, or upon points where they were at variance with the word of God, if his conscience would not permit him to go with them, simply keep silent upon those things. Would such a course be characteristic of a true servant of God?
O, no, he must never, never, never give up the right! He must ever have it in view and be striving, not only to go toward it himself, but to bring others to it as well. It should strengthen him in this struggle to know, and have full confidence in the fact, that God will be on the side of the right to bless and strengthen it. But you will "have need of patience that after you have done the will of God ye might receive the promise."--Heb. x. 36. We should not expect to receive the promise while still in disobedience.
The church our blessed Redeemer gave us should be preserved in form, and doctrine, and practice. How will you do this? By preaching on doctrine when you know that practice ought to be preached? When you go to a church should you not ask, "What does this church need?" If a servant went out to care for sheep and there was plenty of corn in the troughs, but not water, and some were sick and needed attention, yet he poured in more corn and went away, would his course be approved? The Shepherd would say, "You should have given the thirsty (poor souls needing encouragement) water (spiritual instruction), and the diseased (erring ones) should have had medicine (correction)."
Will you deliberately withhold from the erring what they need because you think it will not be well received? When you know that no member of the church is infected with Arminian ideas, but that covetousness is keeping members away from the church meetings, and forcing the pastor to carry on the warfare at his own charges, and keeping him from receiving of the fruit of the vineyard, or eating of the milk of the flock (See 1 Cor. ix. 7), will you then preach a sermon against Arminianism or against covetousness, which? If you preach against Arminianism under such circumstances why do you do it? Do you do it to please God or men? Is this considering the matter as it should be? Or would it not be best to remember that to his own master a man standeth or he falleth, and then tell the church what you think they ought to know, and insist on their returning to such scriptural practices as you know they have departed from?
I sometimes hear a minister say, "I know that is right, but you would not dare to preach it at my church." Is it possible that a church can get so far away from the right that it will not do to preach to it the right way without giving serious offense! That is the spirit that put our Lord to death, and ought it to be fostered in the churches? Any of us ought to be shamed that would educate a church in that direction. My dear brother, let us be honest with ourselves and obedient to God, for if "God be for us," why need we care who is against us? But God will be against us if we are not faithful in our ministry, and the more friends we make by perverting the gospel, or keeping back part of it, will only add that much to our shame and confusion when we are brought to realize our standing before Him.
As ministers of Christ we all ought to be working for one end, the advancement of the church, and all should be walking together in harmony. True, men of different temperaments may not be able to get together as companions, but they need not try to destroy each other because they are not congenial in dispositions. We ought to realize there are places where one minister can do no good, when another might work successfully and accomplish much good. So, instead of standing in the way of others, let us help them all in our power, and make it manifest that we pray the Lord's blessings on their labors. See Mark ix. 38-42.
Nothing so ill becomes a minister of Christ as jealousy. He would make his own poor efforts a limit for efficient and acceptable labor for the Lord, and object to any having grace to surpass him. How little and contemptible such a spirit! Brethren, if you find such disposition growing in your heart, strangle it; allow it not to live another day. It will dwarf your life and make you miserable to see anyone receive blessing and approbation. He is happiest who rejoices most in the uplifting and enjoyment of others. I have in mind a once able minister of the gospel who is today separated from brethren and cut off from the church because he could not bear to see a growing affection among his churches for other ministers for their work's sake. Paul feared lest he might become a "cast-away" (1 Cor. ix. 27), and a jealous disposition is as likely to bring about this condition as anything else, for "jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."--Cant. viii. 6. Let us be brethren, not only in faith, but in deed and in truth, all working lovingly together for the good of the cause that ought to be so precious to us all.
I appeal to you, my brethren, not to leave to those who shall follow in your field of ministerial labor, churches in all manner of disorders and ignorant of the duties imposed by the scriptures on the members. It will work a hardship on those who follow you, it will cripple the churches and be disregarding your obligations as ministers of Christ. Study to know the New Testament pattern and then let all the efforts of your life be directed to shaping the churches after the pattern. This do persistently. Sometimes you will grow discouraged and you will feel inclined to give up the struggle and simply drift with the course such things take if not prevented. But think what drifting means, my brother. It means to be getting farther and farther away from the right. Do not make spasmodic efforts to stop the "drifting" and then fall again into non-resistance; this will do more harm than good. It is the steady, determined efforts that accomplish something. Keep on preaching, and talking, and working for godliness in the lives of the members, and to set in order all things connected with the church, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."--Eph. iv. 13-16.
O, my brethren, let us contend earnestly for all that is taught in God's word. I give these "suggestions," not as embodying all that is written, nor speaking as one who has attained to all things. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." -- Phil. iii. 13, 14. I feel that I would like to see--

"The church our blessed Redeemer saved,
With His own Precious blood,"

shake off the traditions which bind her people and rise to the high privileges promised to the obedient and humble followers of the Lamb. "It is high time to awake out of sleep." "Let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." "Wherefore He saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
I would not presume that I know more of the "will of the Lord" than those to whom I write, but I am moved to bring these things to your minds, and appeal to you to move forward as one man, crying as did the prophet, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake, I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."--Isa. lxii. 1.
I know hundreds of you feel as I do about these matters. Should we not "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins."--Isa. lviii. 1. "Bring you all the tithes into My storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."--Mal. iii. 10. We believe all these things. Shall we act as God directs and as His spirit prompts? Those who have not investigated the subject of practical duties have the scriptures, and they can and should do so.
But as I have before said, ministers may know the Lord's will and yet not insist on its observance in the churches. "And that servant which knew his lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes."--Luke xii. 47. If a minister accepts the pastoral care of a church it is equivalent to covenanting with the church that he will deal honestly with it and give all needed instruction. He cannot keep this agreement and remain silent while the church is neglecting any important matter. And it will be better for himself and the church, for him to resign rather than to keep silent where God speaks, permitting the church to ignore God's rule and way.
I repeat that I do not ask anyone to accept these suggestions unless they be found to agree with God's word; but if they are in harmony with the truth, what reason can a pastor give for not following out the spirit of them? I hope, brother ministers, that you will determine whether they are right or wrong; and that you will join with all our ministers in advocating the practices in harmony with the New Testament teachings.
Particularly do I ask that you take a stand in regard to the office of the deaconship in the churches and enter a life-long protest against doing away with the office, for the discontinuance of that work has seriously crippled the ministry until the churches are deprived of the service they ought to have. I invite your careful and prayerful attention to the positions taken in the following article on "The Deaconship."


No authority questions it being apostolic to have an officer of the church known as deacon. But in no one particular have the Primitive Baptists, and all religious organizations, come so near disregarding the apostolic mark as in the use of this office.
As to being apostolic, Catholics and Protestants can make no showing doctrinally, as compared with the Primitive Baptists; but when it comes to this one office of the church, though Arminian bodies have generally disregarded the power and degree of the office, and the Primitive Baptists in this particular make a better showing, yet when it comes to the practical work of the office we find our people have fallen far short, and in many places have practically abolished the office, except in form. Primitive Baptist churches, claiming to be the churches of Jesus Christ, should have a better record than this. We should not only be apostolic in doctrine, but in practice as well. When there is apostolic authority for but two classes of church officers, then for us to abolish one of them in practice, is departing too far for those who love the doctrine of grace, and who would prove that they love the Master by keeping His commandments.
Some may question these statements being warranted, but ministers who are acquainted with the practice of the churches, and who have given the matter proper study, know that the facts sustain them. These pages have been written to call attention to practices undoubtedly authorized and commanded by the scriptures. To this end I wish to examine the office of the deaconship in the light of the Sacred Word and try to point out to the best of my ability a course approved by it.
First, I would like to engage the attention of the reader with the importance of the subject. Suppose some person should assert that sprinkling is just as good as immersion for baptism. What answer would a Primitive Baptist make? No doubt he would say, "Our Lord commanded believers to be baptized. Christ's own example shows that He understood baptism to be immersion in water, for He was baptized in the river Jordan and came up out of the water. Every allusion or example, so far as given, shows that the apostles and believers of their day understood baptism to be immersion." Since the apostles' time there has been no power authorized to change any doctrine or practice delivered to the church. So one who is not immersed cannot have Christian baptism, and if we receive anything else for baptism we at once lose our right to claim that we are churches of Jesus Christ, because we have a baptism that is not apostolic. So with the doctrines of the church. We contend that if a church departs from the doctrines of the Bible and persists in such error, she loses her identity with the church of Christ.
Now if some Arminian should turn these arguments against us and ask, "What was the work of the New Testament deacons?" and then ask if Primitive Baptist deacons do a like work, what would we say? Then if it should be urged that because of this lack, or error, we have not a right to call ourselves churches of Christ, what defense can we make, except we can truthfully say we still believe in the duties prescribed for deacons just as taught in the scriptures, and this difference in the practice of our deacons and New Testament deacons is only a temporary falling off or deviation and not because we have rejected the New Testament teaching?
If the difference in practice arises because we have actually usurped the authority to change the duties of the office, as some have done, then the reason we assign for not recognizing the various organizations as churches of Jesus Christ, falls with dreadful weight upon us and denies our claim, too. But if we can be said to still hold the theory of the office as it was in the days of the apostles, and it is only the indifference of our members that causes us to fail in our practice, how can we expect the blessings of the Lord when we say, but do not do the things He has left on record for us to follow? Are not these considerations of sufficient weight to prompt us to an immediate investigation of God's word to see how our practice agrees with it.
I hope no one who reads these pages will feel that it makes no difference? In the eyes of Him who taught that we are to follow Him, every obedience and disobedience is important. We may look at ancient Israel and see this principle clearly taught, and no doubt their experiences are recorded that we may learn from them the real issues of life to the child of God. As we now view their journeyings we see what ingratitude it showed to God to depart from His laws, and bring in observances which He had positively forbidden. They no doubt felt at first when they went astray that it was of little consequence, and that God would not take notice of what they did to hold them to account for every violation. Sometimes, no doubt, they believed if their practice was according to the traditions of the elders, it would be all the justification needed. But when Christ came, how severe His denunciations of those who through tradition made void the word of God!
Beware, brethren, lest we take a course similar to that disobedient and stiff-necked people. We should remember our God is a jealous God and His glory He will not give to another. He will not allow His people to follow the traditions or heresies of men and pour His blessings upon their course. To do this would be to make His laws of no effect. If we may do them or not do them, and the result will be the same, then His laws are of no consequence. But Primitive Baptists can never admit such a theory as this. "He is our Lawgiver." There be lords many and gods many, but unto us there is one God. (1 Cor. viii. 5, 6).
If we have deacons we want New Testament deacons in practice. As our deacons fill an office recognized by God's word, they should do it in a manner approved by that authority. If our churches have gone astray upon this subject, they will have to repent--leave off the present practices--and return to that warranted by the word of God. We may expect to find opposition. Our people may follow tradition and when they do so, they are as loth to give up such things as others; in fact they seem in some cases to hold to them with greater tenacity, for they get to thinking of their practice as being approved of God, and, generally, what an Old Baptist esteems as coming from God he does not readily give up, for we are taught to view His teachings with greater reverence than other people do.
So we cannot expect to see a change in a few days or months, or even years; it will require patience and continued effort for the truth. But no true soldier will falter on this account. It is our duty and our high privilege, to contend for the Lord's way and word and leave the result entirely in His hand. By reading the history of ancient Israel we may see that wrong practices often found their way in among them, and when they had to suffer for it, then they would be induced to put the evil away from them. May we not hope the Israel of our God will arise now and put every evil way behind her, and trusting in the God of Abraham, take His law as the only rule of faith and practice? She should not be satisfied to merely believe the doctrine of grace, she should obey her Lord.
I come now to consider the office of the deaconship. The Greek word which is translated "deacon" in the New Testament means, servant, attendant, waiter. This word in its verbal and noun forms occurs one hundred one times in the New Testament, but it is only rendered "deacon" five times. It is rendered "minister" sixty-four times and "servant" twenty-one times. In its general meaning of ministering, it is applied to pious women (Matt. xxvii. 55), to brethren (Matt. xxv. 44), to preachers (Eph. vi. 21), to apostles (Acts i. 17), to angels (Mark i. 13), and to Christ (Matt. xx. 28). But it is used in a special sense to indicate an officer of the New Testament church and should be used by us in the same way to denote the same things today.
That there is another office besides that of elder indicates that other work is to be done besides ministering the word. To judge from the practice of some churches, only one officer is needed, (a preacher,) and he shorn of all power to look after the interest of the flock, except at communion time a deacon is needed to pass the bread and wine to the brethren. I will here state that I have never read a text of scripture, nor have I ever heard anyone use one that taught that the deacon, rather than any other person, should pass the bread and wine. Some refer to Acts vi. 2, where it is said by the apostle that it was not meet for the apostles to leave the word of God and "serve tables," and these "tables" are taken to be the tables spread at the Lord's supper, but it has no reference to such at all. The "tables" the apostles did not have time to serve, was daily ministering to the Grecian widows, who were being neglected because the disciples were multiplied. How much time is saved to the minister by the deacon passing the bread and wine? What does the minister do at that time that he could not do as well and pass the emblems himself? So far as I know this is the only passage referred to, and it is evident upon consideration that this had no reference whatever to the communion table. But as it is not stated just who may, or who may not, assist at communion seasons, our custom of having the deacons to do so is not in violation of God's word. But instead of this being their principal duty it is only one of the many things that may be laid upon them as being in harmony with the character of the work to be expected of deacons.
It would be more in keeping with the exact working of our Lord when any brother has been served, for him to pass the bread or wine to another brother, so long as all are conveniently situated, and only call for the deacon's assistance when brethren are not convenient to each other. As to providing the emblems, and the articles necessary for the communion, it is evident from the nature of the deacon's work that he should do this. I will here remark that the objection of some deacons to passing the bread and wine at churches where they may be visiting, and are not acquainted with all the members, seems to be well taken, for they are liable to miss some, and to offer them to others who should not partake of them. I have known persons to take of the communion under such circumstances who were not members of the Old Baptist church at all. They had no scruples themselves, and took license from the fact that the emblems were passed to them. It is presumed that a deacon will know who is entitled to eat at his home church.
Coming to the occasion for the appointment of deacons in the apostolic church, it will be found that there was work for them to do, and of such a character that was necessary to select men especially fitted to do it. This is one peculiarity of the church of Christ, work is to be done by persons especially fitted for it. The work of deacons was principally to handle and distribute money, or its equivalent. The militant church of Christ is made of of men and women who, though born of God, are subject to life's ills and needs, and He who has wisdom to build the earth and sky, and all things therein, did not set up His church and overlook this important fact. Christ affirms, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things," and everything proves that He does, and that He who hears the ravens when they cry, and sees the sparrows when they fall, cares for us in all life's sufferings (1 Peter v. 7).
I have heard unthinking brethren affirm that their church had no money system in it. While I feared they were telling the truth, I knew if it was true, their church, in that respect at least, was not apostolic. He who set up the church keeps all worlds in motion by laws that will never fail until His purpose has been worked out and He Himself shall bid it stop. Would He, who always went about doing good, healing the sick and relieving the distress of the poor, forget that there would be poor in the church in the ages then to come? O, no, for He said, The poor ye have with you always (Mark xiv. 7). Is the theory of men correct that Jesus made no arrangements for caring for the poor and distressed and keep-up the ministry, and that now it is necessary to organize societies and helps for that purpose, the church not being adapted for such work?
No, a thousand times no. The church as set up by our Master is all complete and nothing lacking. And as the law He gave the sun shall keep it shining as long as He designs without having to be renewed, so the system He devised for equalizing the burdens among the members of the church of Christ will never need revision, nor that anything be added to it. We do not need ministerial boards nor aid societies that our ministers may give themselves to Him who has called them. The church in herself has every needed arrangement, and it will be found perfectly adequate to every emergency when our people trust in God and obey His word. We need never trouble ourselves to devise a plan for anything connected with the church of Christ, everything is already devised and laid down in God's word, and we may be sure if the plan we are following is not laid down there it will not be successful in the accomplishment of a Bible end.
Deacons were chosen to take charge of the funds of the church as a part of their work. Some question that the seven (Acts vi. 3) were deacons. But from the fact that there were deacons in the churches later on, and no authority for the office is given except this in Acts vi., and that the duty as set forth in that chapter and elsewhere is in harmony with the meaning of the word, I conclude that the seven were deacons.
That the church had a fund will appear from the fact that as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and laid the price at the apostles' feet (Acts iv. 34, 35). From the common fund so formed the apostles made distribution to all as they had need. But the number of the disciples increased until the apostles were unable to see to the needs of all, and some of the Grecian widows were neglected. The apostles had also to preach, and there was not time to attend to both matters (Acts vi. 1). As the work of caring for these widows was the express purpose for which the seven were set apart, it is certainly a legitimate conclusion that the church fund passed into their hands.
Even prior to the crucifixion of our Lord a common fund was provided as will be seen from the fact that when they sat at meat before Judas had betrayed our Lord, Judas was in charge of what money was needful for Jesus and the twelve. Some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, "Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he give something to the poor."--John xiii. 29.
From this we learn that Jesus had been training the disciples in the course they afterwards recommended to the church. Christ and His apostles had a common fund and they used it to supply their needs and to help the poor. If it had not been the practice to give to the poor out of that fund the disciples would not have thought that Judas had been told to do anything of the kind. Who supplied the fund we are not told, but as the disciples were all poor, and there is no record that they stopped to work, except when they went fishing, we may believe, without drawing very hard on our imagination, that there were friends of the cause of Christ who were in position to help and had liberal hearts. The fact that Judas had the purse, and was a devil, has nothing to do with its being right or wrong. Up to this time he had been a follower of Christ, and there is no proof that he did not do as the other disciples did. Judas followed Christ, but that does not make it wrong to be a follower of Christ.
Now if a church has no fund, and will not maintain one, it has no use for deacons. Any member may use his own funds for the relief of the needy, but it is the business of a deacon to use the funds of the church for that purpose. I have known churches to ordain deacons when it was not the intention of the members of the church to put anything into their hands, at any rate they did not. This is to trifle with solemn obligations and make much ado over form and deny the plain teachings of God's word. If the elders of the churches who form presbyteries would be true to their convictions, they would say to the churches when called on in such cases, We will not use our authority to put a brother in an office knowing that you will withhold that from him which is necessary to the performance of his duty. To ordain a deacon in a church that will not keep any funds in his hands is to lay upon him a solemn responsibility and then have the church tie his hands and force him to non-compliance with the obligations of his office.
A brother chosen in a church to be deacon, knowing it had not been the practice of the church to keep any funds, and having reason to believe that unless they viewed the matter different to the general impression among the members, there would be nothing put into his hands, might well refuse to submit to ordination until there was a more scriptural understanding on the subject.
These questions should be answered not only by the brother chosen deacon, but by the members of the church as well:
1. Is there necessity for deacons in the church?
2. What is the duty of the church to the deacon?
3. What is the duty of the deacon?
4. What are the qualifications of a deacon?
With the view that there is no duty for the deacon but to assist at the communion, it cannot be made out that there is any necessity at all. As before stated, there is no passage of scripture indicating that any member of the church might not properly do the work the deacon usually does at the communion. If the view be taken that he is only to look after the spiritual interests of the members, then his place is more eminently filled by the ministry, and if there is necessity for more careful oversight, spiritually, then there should be more elders, or the pastor in charge should give himself more wholly to the work. From this standpoint there is no necessity whatever of choosing deacons.
The necessity, as it is stated in the New Testament, is to take charge of financial matters and look after the needs of the members of the church, being supplied with the means to do this by the voluntary contributions of the members. I repeat, if a church does not intend to keep funds in the hands of her deacons she does not need deacons. It may be said in reply to this that it is the duty of the deacons to look about and see if there are any poor, or needed expenses, or if the pastor needs help, and report it to the church and get instructions what to do and receive supplies from the church.
I would say in the first place, to admit this view, a member who had but little judgment would make about as good a deacon as the one endowed with the greatest wisdom, for he would not be expected to exercise his judgment in any case, but must always wait until he has been directed just what to do, while the qualifications given indicate that he is to act on his own judgment. Then, in cases of immediate need, if the church met only once a month, as most of our churches do now, the needy brother or sister might pass in great suffering and distress beyond the need of anything ministered by human hands.
But the objector to the fund suggests that in such case it would be the duty of the deacon to either contribute of his own means, or see the brethren and collect something.
This is purely an innovation on God's way, as set forth in the Acts of the Apostles, and the example of the Primitive church. Paul gave instruction that there be weekly collections, that when the time for the use of the funds arrived, there would need to be no collection taken (1 Cor. xvi. 2). The deacon might be poor himself and not have enough to supply the needs of others, and it very often happens that very poor brethren are very prompt to do their duty, and make just as good deacons as any. Further, if the deacon is just to make report to the church of cases of need, any brother can do that, and there is no necessity for a special appointment. The fact is this, it is the duty of all the members to report to the deacon.
A church cannot do in a proper way, and most likely will not do at all, the things done by apostolic churches, without active deacons. The Lord has nothing done except for good reason. If the church can do as well without deacons as with them, then what reason can be given for their appointment, unless the office is to be considered as ornamental rather than practical, simply a dignitary without a duty. Certainly it will be conceded by all who revere the sacred word that there must have been, and is yet, a necessity for the deaconship in the church, not simply that the church may say she has a deacon, but that the work of the deacon may be done. So a church should not be considered in complete working order until the work of the deacon is recognized and carried out. When churches are organized after they have secured a pastor, and sometimes before, they choose deacons, the inference being, even when the statement is not made, that a church is not fully in working order without deacons. But it is clear in some cases that this is a mere recognition of the office, and not of the work of the office, for no attempt is made to make the deacon of any practical aid to the church and cause. We should look deeper than mere form. The fact that there were deacons in the apostolic church should be argument enough with Primitive Baptists that the office is necessary, and also if necessary then, necessary now, or else the apostolic church is not a pattern for all ages. This admission would let in all the innovations of the day, which no Primitive Baptist could agree to at all. As proof that there were deacons in the apostolic churches, see the following scriptures: Acts vi. 3-6; Phil. v. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 8-13.
So if we are to lay claim to apostolic form in our churches we must have deacons, and it is certainly of more importance to have the work of the office done than it is to have the officer.
As to the question, "What is the duty of the church to the deacon?" If the members of the church do not recognize that there is a binding duty, the office might as well remain vacant. It is not a duty to the man who is filling the office, but to the office work as a function of the church. We do not care for the hand or the foot as having any dignity of themselves, but because they are a part of the body, and without them the body would be maimed. So must the office of the deaconship be considered. Here is a function of the church to be performed through this office, and if she does not have this office, she either does not do the work, or does it in an unscriptural way. The church should not choose a brother as a deacon to honor the man, but to use him as a servant to carry out the full work of the church.
A church cannot raise a brother to the work of the ministry, that is God's work. But she can put any brother into the deaconship who has the qualifications, though there may be other brethren who are just as well fitted for the place who are not needed. God appoints the minister to do a special work, and the church appoints the deacon to carry out the active work that falls to the church as an organization.
A church has as much right to do away with baptism as it has to do away with the work of the church that is to be done through deacons. She may have deacons in form, and yet do away with the work of the deacon. If a member of the church has never done anything through the deacon's hands, that member has done away with the work of the deacon so far as he is concerned, and has committed as much of an offense against the Great Head of the church as though he had attempted to make void anything else that belongs to the house of the Lord. Indeed, it is hard to say if there is anything else connected with the church, except it be the ministry of the word, but could be struck down with less hurt than this.
To appoint deacons and then ignore them in administering the financial part of the church's business is gross contempt for God's law as head of the church. It would be as though an Israelite of old had said, I will ignore the priest who is to minister in the temple and do the work myself. Many brethren make this statement in substance when they say they will not have the deacon to fill his office, but what they have to give they will give it themselves.
If the apostolic church is to be taken as a pattern, (and if it is not we have none,) we must consider the deaconship as an office of God's own arranging and should hesitate as much to change it or abolish it as we would to change the doctrines given in the scriptures, and should feel that as great a curse will fall on us for the one as for the other. The deacon is the hand of the church that she stretches out to all who are in need, and to keep her affairs working in decency and in order.
Some brethren try to step behind this passage: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth," and conclude that what they do they must do very privately, not letting anyone know what they do, not even the deacon. This is plainly straining this passage to mean something it was never intended to mean at all. It is wrong to make a display among men, and these words of the Savior were spoken in condemnation of such a practice. In the same connection the Savior tells His disciples that when they pray they are to enter into their closets and pray in secret and not before men (Matt. vi. 5). Is it then wrong to pray in public? Most of our church rules say that our services ought to be opened by singing and prayer. According to this construction this would be wrong and no one ought to offer prayer in public. The absurdity of this construction at once appears.
It may be that brethren who have urged such a construction have done so, violating the true principle in their hearts. It may be they wanted the recipient to know just whose liberality he received, and they did not put it into the hands of the deacon because then it would never be known by the recipient who made the contribution. Sometimes when there are several preachers at a meeting a brother wants his favorite preacher to know that he is appreciated, and prefers to give out of his own hand; for if it were given to the deacon it would be divided up and those who were in greatest need would get most, and his favorite would never know just how he had appreciated him. This is the very spirit our Lord was condemning, and the plea is a mere pretext. If one is willing that his liberality should not be advertised, let him put his gifts in with the common funds in the deacon's hands. And meeting one's share of the church expenses is not alms giving, and should not be treated as charity--it is duty.
If the church is to feel as she ought toward the deaconship it must be viewed as God's way of attending to certain affairs, and must be sacredly guarded from those who would change or abolish it. If a brother be chosen by the church to be put into the deaconship it is right to know that the church rightly understands her obligations to the office, and is disposed to recognize them, before assuming obligations himself that he cannot discharge unless the church will first do her duty. A church should not consider the work of the deacon as apart from her own act, but every member should feel that God has made it his duty to do certain things, and that these things are to be done through the deaconship.
The scriptures teach that we must be baptized and then leaves us no discretion as to manner or mode of baptism--we must be dipped in water. Now it is the duty of members of the church to do certain things, and then it is specified that this is to be done through the deacon's hands. It is contempt for God and His word to say it can be done as well some other way. The duty of the church to the deaconship is such that it is open rebellion to say to the deacon, "Stand thou here, we can do all there is to do without having need of thee." What right has any member or individual to ignore or make void an office that has the approval of the Sacred Word.
The duty of the members to this office is such that they should hold all their possessions subject to the needs of the church, as did the saints in the time of the apostles. While it is not obligatory now, nor was it then, to sell one's property and put it into a common fund, yet the principle is that each brother should be willing to support the cause with all he has, and to that end should keep sufficient funds in the hands of the deacons to discharge the obligations of their office.
It would appear strange that a church should ever set apart a member to a work when very few of the members understood clearly what that work was. But such might be the case. Every member should be able to answer the plain question, in choosing a deacon, "What is he to do?" The necessity for this will be apparent upon reflection. If the members of a church do not properly understand the duty of a deacon he will not be able to discharge his duty, if his performance in any way depends upon them, for they will not co-operate with him. So a brother, when chosen by a church to this office, might very properly demand of them what they expected him to do.
If the members only expected him to assist the pastor at the communion, and bear unkind criticism, as everyone put into any prominence must do, he might with good ground refuse to accept the responsibility because the church was not scriptural as to the duty of deacons.
No pastor should permit a church of his care to go into the selection of a deacon without thoroughly instructing them as to the duty of the deacon. Here is where many of our pastors confess error, and failure to discharge their obligation. Too often the only things considered are the moral qualifications of the deacon without respect to what the deacon is to do. How is it possible to decide on the qualifications of a person to an office without deciding what he is to do? Here is where many mistakes have been made. Often, if a brother is exemplary in his walk and character as a man and a Christian, he is considered fit to be put into the deacon's office.
But a man might be well fitted to be a judge on the bench who would make a very poor farmer or merchant, and the scriptures consider this, and point out the special qualifications of a deacon. I appeal to every reader of these pages to decide in his own mind what a deacon is to do if he carries out the scriptural idea of the office. Certainly no member of the church should consider himself competent to enter into the choice of a deacon without first defining to his own satisfaction the work of the deacon, and then considering the peculiar fitness of the brother who is to be set apart.
The work of the deacon needs to be decided upon and understood by all, that the brother chosen to the office may be impressed with the fact that certain things are expected of him, and knowing it is the mind of all that he is to do these things, he will feel a greater obligation to discharge his duty. For, if there is a diversity of opinion regarding his work, he can never act without the feeling that his course is disapproved by some, which is a very discouraging condition. But, if all the members are properly instructed, the deacon will feel encouraged to perform the duties of his office, knowing his work is known to all, and that a failure to do it will meet with criticism, while to act faithfully will endear him to all his brethren.
By reference to Acts, 6th chapter, it will be very clearly seen that he is to make distribution of the church funds to all who have need. None will contend that the church ought to neglect or overburden any of her members, but different brethren will propose different plans for equalizing the burdens and caring for all who should be ministered to. This is ignoring God's plan, and certainly His plan must be the best. Some say that each brother or sister must act for himself or herself, and minister to all whom they find who have need. Now, certainly, there is nothing in God's word that would stand in the way of anyone taking this course. But the members of churches are weak, human beings, and some who have plenty of means have little charity, and some who have great sympathy for the cause, and for the suffering, have but little means. So, if left to themselves, the burden will fall most unequally, for many, who are able to help, will evade any occasion of bearing the burden of others, leaving the few who are willing, whether able or not, to do whatever is done.
So it is evident that if the burdens of the church are to be equalized and those who need help are to receive it, the New Testament plan is the only one that will meet all the conditions to be provided for. Here will be found a stimulus for those who have been blessed with plenty, but who have a covetous disposition; here will be found a check for those who are liberal beyond their means, and funds sufficient for the needs of all. Besides this, the pastor should have an efficient helper, one full of wisdom, leading an exemplary life before the members for them to follow, an officer of the church full of the Holy Ghost and faith. It is a wise provision of the Great Head of the church for equalizing the burdens among members that the means contributed by the members go into a common fund, of which the deacons have charge. The deacon will know whether a member is contributing according to his ability, nor that it is with the deacon to say how much any member shall give, for the needs of the church are to be met by voluntary offerings, as were the necessary things for the tabernacle and its service; but he will know who are giving as the Lord has prospered them, and if they fail to do this after proper instruction, and reproof if necessary, they should be reported to the church as covetous, which is a grievous sin, and should be summarily dealt with.
"Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."--Col. iii. 5, 6. Old Testament lessons teach us that an idolater is an abomination in the sight of God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."--1 Cor. v. 11. All the members of any church know it is wrong to tolerate a drunkard in the church. Well, the Sacred Writ couples drunkards and covetous people together as being of one class--a class on which the "wrath of God" cometh. Now the deacons, knowing who are covetous and who are not, it would be their duty, more than that of any other member, to labor with such an offender in this direction, and if need be, report him to the church. Ananias and Sapphira were accused by the Apostle Peter. This was before the institution of the deaconship, and the funds of the church were in the hands of the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira professed before men that they were giving in all they had to give. So long as there was no use for their goods they were under no obligation to part with them; but their sin was in withholding through a covetous disposition. Before the property was sold it was their own, and after it was sold the proceeds were theirs (Acts v. 4). But they evidently felt it would be commendable to give in all they had, and yet they loved what they had better than they did the cause of Christ. The church could make no demand as to the amount to be given, so these two lied to God and not to men.
How many deacons have seen cases like this: Brethren professing to give all they were able to give, and yet the deacons knew that a covetous disposition was causing them to hold back what they ought to bestow?
We should learn from this lesson in Acts that the principle upon which the church was founded is, that the possessions of all members ought to be held by them subject to the needs of their brethren and the good of the cause. This fact should be recognized by the deacons who should not be slow to call upon the members for funds to meet all needs. A brother who is one indeed, should be ready to divide his last crust, and if this spirit prevailed it would not be hard for the deacons to do their work. For the deacons to know there is need for distribution to the poor, or to the ministry, or to the sick, and yet have members who are well able to contribute to such purposes withhold their means, after an appeal from the deacons, is very discouraging, indeed; in fact, this is the greatest burden deacons have to bear. Finding that members fail and refuse to do their duty, the deacons grow indifferent to their work and the office falls into disuse.
When the deacons have reported a covetous person to the church he should be dealt with the same as for any other offense. And that covetous persons should be dealt with there can be no doubt whatever, if the scriptures are to be taken as a rule. As before remarked, if covetous persons were classed with drunkards, idolaters, etc., and dealt with accordingly, it would be better for the church and all the members. Of course the deacon will have to take gospel steps to bring such matters before the church, and when this is done the church should not regard this sin as a peculiarity of character that cannot be reached, for it stands in the way of the prosperity of the church by withholding that which is needed perhaps in the upholding of the ministry. Not that the pastor of a church should serve for a salary, or for the sake of money, but many of God's ministers are poor in this world's goods, and having families, it is impossible for them to give a great portion of their time to the ministry.
The apostles ordained deacons and put the funds of the church into their hands that the ministers might give themselves wholly to the work (Acts vi. 4). With this thought on his mind the deacon will not feel that it is simply a personal matter between him and the brethren. To neglect his duty, and let brethren withhold from the church what they are able to give, if it is needed to assist the pastor that he may discharge his duty, is to give assent to a weakened service, and weakened for mere greed, too, and to actually become a party to breaking down the apostolic plan for keeping up a church and sustaining the ministry in its work. An important duty of deacons is to see that those who are able do not withhold their means because of covetousness.
Not only is it the business of the deacon to receive the funds contributed by the members, but that perfect confidence may be maintained, he should keep an accurate account of all he receives and all he pays out, and make his report to the church regularly. He need not report what each member gives, but the whole amount received. But he should give the items as paid out. If the church desires it he may report items received. This is necessary, because the members must have every evidence of the integrity and honesty of the deacon. True, they might feel this at the time of his selection, but that this feeling may be maintained it will be found necessary that the members know what he does with the funds in his hands. If it is known that he keeps no account they will feel that he himself does not know just in what condition the funds are, whether he has church funds on hand, or whether he has paid out more than has been put into his hands.
I knew a case in which a good brother's word was called in question. He said he had not received enough money for a certain purpose. Another brother, equally good, said from his knowledge he felt sure that he had, but said, "He keeps no account and forgets."
If the deacon keeps no account of the funds he receives, nor of what use he puts them to, it soon results in a falling off of the receipts, and necessitates making a collection every time there is occasion to defray any expenses. Some churches follow this practice: The deacon calls on the brethren when he has need of any funds, such as to help the pastor or a visiting minister, or to pay church expenses, and collects only as much as may be needed and pays it all out at once. This practice is rather to be commended than for the members to ignore the deacon, but it falls short of meeting the necessities, and is not following the scriptural practice. One of the bad features is, there will often be need of money, and the members will not be present to collect from. The regular meeting time may be cold and stormy, or heavy rains or sickness may keep the members at home, but the faithful pastor is present. He meets two discouraging things--the members are not present and his expenses are not paid.
Then at the next meeting, if the members are present, they only contribute as much as though they had been present the meeting before, because there is no report whether the pastor's expenses were met or not, and he has it to bear. Now if the deacon kept an account of the church fund, he could report at any time before it was exhausted, and it would be the duty of the members to replenish it. Then, whether the members were present at a meeting or not, if the pastor were present he could be helped on his way. Or if there were need to help any poor person, or incidental church expense, the deacon would be prepared to meet it.
Another reason for keeping an account is for the convenience of the members. Many of our members are farmers, and do not have ready money at all times of the year, in fact, it may be the case with anyone that he is not at all times prepared to make a contribution; but there will be some time during the year when he could put in his share toward keeping up the church's expenses. He could then hand it to the deacon and his entry of it would show that this brother had given his proportional part. The deacon would then know not to call on him again until the other members had borne their part.
Here arises a very important question: What is each member's share? or what should each pay? This is where most of the attempts to systematize the deacon's work break down. A member asks the deacon, "How much shall I contribute?" The deacon, feeling he has no right to set the amount for members to give, says, "O, I don't know, just what you feel like giving." The member, feeling, perhaps, that is is not right to burden the church with surplus funds, or that the deacon will at once and for that occasion, pay out all he receives, whether it is actually needed or not, gives but little. The deacon can say nothing, though he knows if the other members do not do better, the amount needed will not be raised. In his heart the deacon knows what a member ought to give, and, perhaps, the member would be quite willing to give all that is needed, but because of a wrong system in attending to business, the church has not done its duty.
Now all this can be remedied if the deacon is allowed to, and will do his duty. Every deacon who is qualified for the office can estimate about what the yearly expenses of his church will be. He can tell how much the fuel will cost; he knows if there are any poor to be looked after regularly; he can estimate needed repairs about the building and grounds; he knows how much it will cost to have some one care for the house, and have it ready for services; he should know the circumstances of the pastor, and about how much such a church as his ought to contribute to him.
He should lay this before all the members of the church, and let each one say how much of it he is willing to give. These amounts he can enter on his book. If it is enough to meet the demands, well and good, and each one will know about what he is to do, and he can do it when it is convenient.
But if the amounts volunteered at the first do not cover probable expenses, the deacon can ask the members to reconsider the matter, and raise their contributions; or knowing the circumstances of all the members, he will suggest to those who have not been as liberal as their circumstances warrant, that they should give more to equalize the burden. When this matter has been arranged, the members can pay in the amounts they have agreed to give as soon as they have it, or the deacons may need it. The deacons should not wait until the funds are entirely exhausted before calling upon the members, nor should the members wait to be called on at all. They should try to make the work of the deacon as light as possible, and should not put him to the trouble of calling on them individually. Of course the members are privileged to make as many gifts outside of this church fund as they feel disposed.
Out of the funds in their hands the deacons should distribute to the poor. No poor member should be allowed to suffer for the necessities of life, nor for any needed comfort that the church is able to provide. Never should a brother or sister, who can possibly be cared for otherwise, be sent to the poor house to be cared for by the general public. The church need not take upon herself the burden of caring for the poor outside of her membership, because the members pay taxes to care for these poor. But her own poor and afflicted should be looked after by the church, and it is the especial duty of the deacons to look after this work.
In the United States, outside of the cities, we have not many poor who are actually unable to care for themselves who have no relatives to look after their needs, so this is not a heavy burden on the churches. In some cases members may be lazy and imprudent, so the deacons should carefully investigate each case and report it fully to the church that their course may be approved.
The deacon should defray the necessary expenses of the church, such as providing fuel, employing a janitor and keeping up needed repairs. The practice of some churches making such things a special order of the church is disregarding the deaconship, and results in neglect and often dissatisfaction. It is an old saying, that what is everybody's business is nobody's business, and it often proves true. A pane of glass is broken in a window. The janitor did not break it, and is not obliged to put in a new one, as he probably will not get pay for caring for the house until the end of the year, and has no money with which to buy the glass except what is his own. He knows the deacons have no church money, and that there will have to be a collection taken, and perhaps if the glass is put in before the collection is taken, it may not be made at all. So he waits for the church to "take the matter up" and take up a collection before this small matter can be attended to.
Then the janitor is employed by the year, and whether he does his work well or not, no one feels disposed to speak to him about it, for the church, and not an individual employed him, and "individuals" do not want to be "too forward" in matters which concern others as well as themselves. Now if the deacons were held accountable for all these things, then there would not be so much neglect. Of if there were, the church would need new deacons. I will suggest to deacons, if they pay the janitor every month they will get better service, and they should see to it that the house is kept in proper order to make the congregation comfortable. The house should be kept clean, the seats free from dust, warmed in winter before the congregation assembles, and kept warm enough, but not too warm, proper ventilation being provided. If the person employed to look after these things does not attend to them properly, and will not be instructed to do so, get some one else. "Be not slothful in business."--Rom. xii. 11. Keep the house and grounds in nice order, that it may be a pleasant and inviting place. Some churches appoint an annual or semi-annual "house cleaning" when the members all come in to spend the day together, and to thoroughly clean the house, repair the fences, cut the grass, etc., and this is commendable, especially as it affords the members an opportunity of spending a day together.
The deacons should minister out of the church funds to the necessities of the pastor, and they must to a great degree determine how much is done for him. The pastor's circumstances and opportunities should be understood. The deacons should remember that a church cannot prosper without pastoral service, and they must provide for as efficient a service as possible.

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