I expect no profit by way of financial gain. If I should receive a return of the net cost of publication or something near that, I shall be well pleased and satisfied. If you like the book, please tell others. If not, tell me.
S. E. Copeland.
WHAT IS THIS? AND WHAT AM I?
(Written in 1914)
This has long been the most serious question with me. Some six or seven years ago I read Elder Lee Hanks’ book, “Conflicts of a Poor Sinner,” and the chapter on “Life” was especially impressive to me. Was riding along with the mail on my daily round as carrier, and reading as I went. When I had nearly finished the chapter I found myself partially blinded with tears of joy and almost crying aloud. I had thought often and much for several years before this about my spiritual condition and the future—my future existence. Ever since that time I have had a desire to write to Elder Hanks and others like him, whom I esteem as grand and noble men of God, tell them some of my thoughts and feelings and ask for their opinion of my case, or me, but something has always told me that I had little or nothing to tell or write about, so I have failed to make the start for these many years. From my earliest recollection I thought of death, God and the devil about the way I was told or taught ; that if I was a good boy I ‘would go to the “Good Man” above the clouds when I died, but if I was bad, the old “booger-man” would get me.
I remember as if it had been yesterday, when I was about ten years old, my mother and I were in the crib shelling corn. She began talking to me about people being saved. She said I was not held accountable to God for my sins until I reached twelve years of age, but after that age I would have to pray to Him for the forgiveness of all of my sins. I did not know then, but have been fully persuaded for years now that it is wrong for parents to teach their children such. It made an impression on my young mind and caused thoughts that I suppose will remain in memory as long as I live. I sat for a while in what might be called bewildered amazement, but never answered a word that I can recollect.
When I was probably about eleven years old I had a dream that I have often thought of. I saw God in personal form like a tall, grave, but comely looking man. He was standing very erect. I was on the ground a little to His right in front of Him, down near His feet, and it seems about knee high to Him as a tall man. I asked Him for something, I know not what. In answer He put His right hands to His lips and then stretched forth His right arm full length toward me, but spoke no words that I remember. I awoke. I know that some people attach no signifiance whatever to dreams. Whether this one, or some others I
I have had, has any don't know. My father died just two weeks before I was thirteen, leaving mother with five little boys, of whom I was the oldest. Up to the time of his death neither he nor mother had joined any religious order. But we all have good reason to hope that he is safely housed in heaven. For years before his death he was afflicted with rheumatism the worst I have ever seen and could not go to church. During the next few years after his death mother became a regular attendant at all sorts of Arminian church meetings and took her boys with her. I began associating with other boys and for a time had little or no thoughts about God and my eternal destiny. If I thought at all it was that I was able to take care of the situation and could decide the matter by getting religion when I got ready.
I went often during warm weather to several varietes of Arminian meetings, and occasionally to the “Hardshells.” I began in a sort of careless or unconcerned way to notice what they all preached or taught, and partook freely of their Arminianism till my opinion of myself •had grown considerably, and I even dared to criticize the teachings of the Old Baptists. But, like any other stuffed toad, when they began to question me I could do nothing but dry grin. I would get off to myself and reason within my own mind about like this : If Jesus did not die for everybody, or, if only a certain predestinated few were to be saved, and that “anyhow,” what use was there in His death— why did He aie at all? 1 thought that 1 could, by my own efforts or prayers, bring God under obligations to save me. I thought myself and my prayers of so much importance, that if 1 should fall from a horse and be killed, if between the saddle and the ground I asked God to save me He would be honor-bound to do it. I had heard an old Arminian neighbor of ours quote a little home-spun Scripture thus : “Between the stirup and the ground, Seek and pardon may be found.” I was not sure as to which “ church” or denomination was right, but any of them rather than the Hardshells. I was sometimes Methodist, sometimes Cumberland Presbyterian, sometimes Missionary, Campbellite, etc.—just Babylonish anything, or confusion gone to seed. This was about my sixteenth or seventeenth year. I cannot tell the date or time of my experience if such it is, and this fact, it seems, has been the cause of many of my doubts and fears. I went for about three Sundays into the “Bible class” and read a verse or two each time. One of my associates, a boy about my own age, had become whitewashed with the summer-time religion, and he persuaded me to go to the “Mourner’s bench.” I went at night, only. Was ashamed to go in the daylight. In fact I was ashamed to go even to the meeting in daytime. My first night as a “mourner” I was as destitute of “feeling” as a stump, but I tried to feel and think very religiously, and did by strong effort manage to work myself up to a big cry, helped to create a stir, and acted the hypocrite generally. The second night I was dryer if possible than the night before, cried but little, if any, became so disgusted that I left as soon as I could slide out, and have had no more desire to go back to the “mourner’s bench” to this good day. (But I have a little hope within me that I have sometimes really and truly mourned with godly sorrow, and that I have been comforted through the grace and mercy of God.) Sometime after that mother joined the Campbellites. Somehow I was not much pleased by her act, but did not say much about it. I think she knew better but suffered herself to be persuaded into it contrary to the dictates of her own conscience. She always seemed out of place and ashamed of it, but she soon left them and joined the church—the Primitive Baptists—where she has seemed perfectly satisfied and said she would not be back there like she was for anything. In those days (or nights) I had two more dreams that were not very comforting to me. As already stated I had heard much Arminian “gospel” preached for several years, and a lot of it was hot and frightening. In one dream I saw hell wide open at the top and tapering downward in form like a large horn or funnel, and a person standing on the brink preaching. I first thought it was Jesus, then the devil, then I did not know which, nor what he was preaching. Then I awoke in that confused state of mind. Just before T woke, though, I saw the one who was doing the preaching dive into that big hole and disappear. I saw him no more.
In the other dream I was on top of a hill, a dividing ridge between two valleys with an old man, a Methodist neighbor to us. He sat leaning against a tree, apparently asleep or very drowsy. At the bottom of the valley on my left was a lake of fire—liquid or molten, like iron or slag as it comes from a furnace and rolling in waves as a body of water, but red like hot iron. And almost as soon as I saw it I found myself sliding down the hill toward it. I thought it was hell and I was sliding into it. I began calling loudly, 0 Lord! 0 Lord ! And was glad -to awake and find it was only a dream. But it bothered me for sometime. About that time I began to see and feel that all was not with me as I would have it. I thought more about God, and His people, and my spiritual welfareand my future existence. I read the Bible more, especially the New Testament. Much of it causd me to feel condemned, but I kept on till I read it through. I went oftener to hear the “Hardshells” preach, but some of their preaching condemned rather than consoled me. I gradually grew to dislike, and to quit attending all forms of Arminian meetings and their preaching but thought that I ought to do something good to bring myself into favor with God. I went on in that way for several years, forming resolution after resolution, and vow after vow to quit sinning so much and do good works. But my good resolutions and vows were always broken very soon after being made.
Somehow before I knew it, or when I thought of myself, I had come to think more and more of the Primitive Baptists, and I found my liking for any and all other religious orders very much on the wane. In fact, I might as well say, before I had realized what was happening, or when I came to myself, I saw the Primitive Baptist church the church of God, and my love for them growing by leaps and bounds. I had gone to their meetings some when a small boy, and could see even then that there was something peculiar, solemn, serene and lovely in their meetings and services that I did not see in any other order, but I did not realize then that they were my people.
In about the year 1897 I began reading THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST paper. (Or, maybe it was 1896. Think I have a few old copies of that year.) Elder S. F. Cayce, father of C. H., was then editor and publisher. I became very much interested in reading the experiences as published therein. Some of them seemed wonderful to me ; they told my own thoughts and feelings so well, yet it seemed that my case was different from everyone else on earth. I could not get rid of the idea that I ought to do something, had to do something good, but each and every effort I made was a ‘complete failure. I thought I needed the prayers of good Christian people, such as the writers of those good experiences, or the good Old Baptist preachers or members, in whom I now had great confidence. But I could not ask them to pray for me. I thought of the best earthly friend I or any other boy ever had, the one who will cling to him when all others fail, the one who never forgets but often prays for her wayward son without his request, even when he is asleep or careless and unconcerned, or forgetful of her. I thought I knew MOTHER was praying for me, and would try to trust in that without asking her and possibly God would hear and answer her prayers for her sake, not mine. I would read of the dealings of the Lord with others, and wonder if it were possible that He would notice me, the most depraved and worthless mortal on earth. I would look at my associates, boys who seemed to care little or nothing for God and His ways, and wonder if it was His dealings why did He not choose some of them instead of me, as they were so much better material, while I was the most abominable of all creatures. I abhorred myself ; I hated my ways and wanted to quit them, but it seemed I could not. I hope now that I was learning by experience that our works and our righteousness are but filthy rags.
There on our old home place one day I had a vision or a mental view of my works. Suddenly they all appeared before me as a high mountain, or wall, so high and so far to the right and to the left that I could see no possible was over nor around them, and in color exactly like midnight darkness. That was probably over fifteen years ago and to this day I cannot see anything brighter or better in my own works. I know that if I am a child of God it is not by or because of anything good that I have done, for I have sown to the wind and don’t feel to deserve anything better than to reap the whirlwind. I was drawn more and more to the Primitive Baptists and seemed to understand more of their teachings and could see the beauty and reasonableness of it, but oh! It would never do I think of classing myself with all of my hateful ways with those good people. I would sometimes think that I was only a hypocrite. I tried to keep all of my emotions hid from everybody, especially my mother and brothers. I thought they, knowing all about me as they did, would be sure to call me a hypocrite if they knew I was having such thoughts as I am writing here.
This was about the state of mind I was in when in my twenty-seventh year, on Christmas Eve, I was married to one of the best women that God ever blest an unworthy man with. She had a name with the Methodist people then, but never seemed to be the least bit interested in them as a church, and she never once crossed me on my belief. She married me knowing that I had already been branded “Hardshell” and had often had little clashes with my Arminian friends. And by this time I had no use for any other than the doctrine taught by Primitive Baptists Things I once loved I now despised, but still thought that mine was an outside case, unlike any one else. I had never told any one a word about my feelings, and thought I was keeping it all a secret. I had often heard Elder J. T. Stewart preach, and many times it seemed that he was speaking it all direct to me. I have enjoyed many Sermons preached by him, until he would begin to close out with an exhortation to duty. Then I would sit trembling and miserable, afraid even to look up, because it seemed surely he was looking straingt at me. But how did he know how I felt and what I thought? Anyhow he had noticed me, if I had tried to appear indifferent and unconqerned. I just acted a lie.
After he had preached on one occasion he was speaking to all and shaking hands in his kind and loving manner, and taking my hand he said, “Steve, I would be glad if you would come on and go with us.” I was so badly shocked that I don’t think I ever answered one word. Just stood there trembling. About the second year after our marriage my wife joined the church there at Shiloh of the Mt. Zion Association. My mind was still unsettled and uneasy, not that I doubted where the true church was, for I knew it was the Old Baptists, but I ‘was unfit to live in it. I loved my clear wife, and was happy with (her as far as natural enjoyment went, but was not at ease spiritually. Elder Stewart and others advised me to join the church, but I, though I loved them, thought I had not yet plainly felt it my duty to join them. My trouble was, or one trouble was, I could not tell an experience like some I had read, and some I heard related. I could not tell any time or place when my change came, if it had come. I wanted an experience like Saul’s of Tarsus. I cannot describe my feelings then, nor later. My wife told me during the week before we went to meeting on that memorable Saturday, that she thought she would offer herself, and asked me to promise to join with her. I told her that I could not do that, but that I wanted her to join if she felt like it.
Saturday came and we went to meeting. Elder Stewart preached, I thought, even better than usual. Wife joined, and to my surprise, my oldest brother, and two others, one of then Elder Stewart’s son. It seemed to be a joyful meeting to all but me. No human tongue nor pen can describe my feelings while they were all relating their experiences and receiving the right hand of fellowship. It seemed that surely those were the most miserable moments of my life up to that time. I did not want any one to see me. I wished that I was away out in the woods to myself, and would have gone there if I could have gotten out of the house without attracting the attention of anyone. I sat trembling, and vowing to myself that if I ever got away from there I would never again be seen in an Old Baptist church meeting. That vow Was also broken, for I went the very next morning to the water and saw my wife and the others baptized, then hit a bee line back to that same meeting house.
I think it was in the fall of that same year, my wife had a long spell of slow fever. That hurt me worse, it seemed than if it had been myself so afflicted. She was very low forthree months and I thought she would die, and all because of my stubborn disobedience, and vileness. From that time to the present I have had much trouble, and a few joys—the most dreadful miserable of all my days, and a few of the happiest. No human on earth knows what I have endured, for I have never told any one, but usually try to conceal it. I began to get some relief for my burdened soul, glimpses of real comfort and light from hearing such able preaching as that done by Elders Stewart, Whitworth and Lee Hanks (while he was on a tour through our country) ; that is, I enjoyed hearing the doctrine, the defense of the Old Baptists, and experimental preaching, but all exhortation to duty was very burdensome to me.
When I first saw Elder Hanks I thought “A dry looking prospect for preaching.” But before he had finished I thought “The best I ever heard, and worth walking forty miles to “hear.” But through those years I most always tried to appear as if I cared little or nothing for spiritual things, often flatly denying and lying about it when one would venture to talk to me on such things. But if I suspected one had any such thought or intention in mind I shied away immediately before he could begin to talk to me.
On February 21, 1906, we had a sweet little baby girl born to us. This was a realization of one of my fondest hopes. I was happy for a time. I thought surely it was a blessing from the Lord. She was the joy of my life now. On July 20, 1908, another little girl came to gladden our hearts and home. Now my long cherished hope of having an ideal wife and two darling little girls (two was the number I wanted) and a happy home seemed at last to be fully realized. God has said that it is not good for man to be alone, and I believe it—I know it—and where is the normal man or woman who does not want a loving mate and sweet loving children? About this time I read Elder Hanks’ book as mentioned in the beginning of this writing. From then to the present time I have had a desire to try to write some of my thoughts and feelings and ask some good Old Baptist if I might dare to claim ‘it as some little bit of evidence that I am a child of God.
About the fall of 1910 Elder C. H. Cayce came on a tour through the Mt. Zion Association. Elder Stewart brought him to spend a night with me. I was susprised, but most agreeably so. It was my first meeting with Brother Claud, but I had already learned through the paper to love him dearly. That night is still a beautiful green spot in my memory. I did enjoy so much their sweet company, and listening to their every word until ‘late at night. They talked of the people and things I had learned to love, the good Old Baptists, their doctrine, practices, love and loyalty Ito their God, and to each other.
Next day, we all went and heard Elder Cayce preach at Salem, in the Mt. Zion, a grand and sweet sermon to me. Then I heard him again at New Hope on the same tour, and saw three young men join the church. There I could hardly tell which I enjoyed the most, the sermon or the experiences of those young men. Their talks rang in my ears for days. I thought, Oh, if I were only worthy and could ‘talk to the church like they did ! Elder Cayce talked on election that day. It was election day in our state, and I missed voting in order to be in that meeting, and I am still glad of it.
But my short season of rejoicing was soon over. Storms of adversity soon gathered over and around me. I was in great trouble with fear and dread on my mind for weeks and months. Many nights I lay on my bed moaning and groaning, not speaking any audible words, but praying if I ever did. Prayer is the sincere desire of the heart I think, unuttered or expressed. I thought I was going to die, but it seemed I did not have the horrible fear of death and the devil that I had in early years. (Then I tried to be religious and do good, not so much because I loved and wanted to obey God, but because I was afarid of the devil.) It made me feel so sorrowful to think of leaving my dear wife and darling little girls alone in a world of snares and troubles. My dear wife always noticed my groaning. She very often asked what was the matter with me. Sometimes I would answer that it was some physical ailment. Thus I avoided telling her the real source of my trouble. I was ailing physically at the time, but my troubles were in my mind and heart and soul, more than physically. I did however, after a time, venture to let her understand that I thought I was going to die, and how I wanted her to manage for herself and the children. She said I need not be uneasy about that, for she would die before I did. I suppose she could tell sometimes what my real trouble was, in spite of all of my trying to hide it, for she had begged me one night as we sat by the fire to promise her that I would go the next meeting time and offer myself to the church at Shiloh where her membership was. She said I was not doing my duty, and that was the cause of my troubles. I asked her, What troubles? As if it were something new to me. So often have I denied and lied and made myself hard to approach when my best friends, the people of God, would try to talk to me. Oh, can it be that there is another being on earth like me? Truly I am a stranger here below, and what I am ‘tis hard to know. Can it be possible that there is a duty for me to perform, when I so often feel to be asbolutely nothing, and worse than nothing? When I am so destitute of any and everything good, that it seems almost a sin for me to think of calling on the name of the Lord ? Oh, the doubts and fears I do have!
On the last day of May, 1911, we were visiting my mother at Albertville. I went to Gnutersville for something and when I returned to mother’s that night I found my wife sick. The instant I saw her my spirit sank within me. Something told me then and there that she was sick to die. She was barely able to ride home the next day, and at once took her bed, saying as I placed her on it, that she was sick to die, and how she wanted me to do for myself and the children after she was gone. She was clam and seemed perfectly reconciled to the will of the Lord. She said she had not a doubt nor fear but what all would be well with her. She lived about seven weeks, and what she suffered no mortals knows. It is useless for me to describe my mental suffering during her illness, and for weeks after her death. It is impossible for anyone to know but by sad experience.
To add to the burden I was already carrying, I heard a while before her death that my dear, old long-time friend, Elder J. T. Stewart, was dead. It seemed that news hurt me as bad as if he had been my own father. I had hoped for years that he would baptize me if I ever became fit to be baptized. That hope was now forever gone, and I wondered: Will I ever be baptized into the church as he had so often lovingly admonished me to do? And I thought, Oh, what a loss to the dear Old Baptists! I forgot as usual that the Lord does all things well, and never leaves Himself without witnesses on the earth. I have been a forgetful hearer for so long, if indeed I have ears to hear. For several days before wife died she had become deranged by her terrible sufferings, screaming and talking “out of her head” as the saying goes. That was fearfully grating on my nerves, and caused my soul to suffer. If I ever prayed for anything, I prayed for her to be calm and at ease before she died. I sat watching and waiting by her bedside all night until about three o’clock in the morning. About fifteen minutes before she left us she became calm, and a sweet expression came over her face. She had already told us that she was going home. Her sweet soul in a few more minute took its flight to be with Jesus in that eternal, happy place she had so often spoken about.
Oh, was it possible that the Lord had heard and answered the prayer of a poor creature like me ! As she breathed her last I realized, as never before, her true worth to me. No man under heaven can know but by the same experience the utter helplessness and desolation I then felt. For many weeks I was a solitary wanderer, moping to and fro in such distress of mind that I almost wished that I could die in peace and be at rest with my sainted wife. Since that time my life has truly been a mixture of joy and sorrow, or, of much sorrow and a little joy. Why it is so I don’t know, unless I may say it is because of one of my besetting sins, unbelief or stubborn rebellion against the impressions and desires of my heart. I have long been a believer in and lover of an experience of grace, and had great confidence in others who could tell one, but have been very doubtful all the while about having any myself. That was too much for me to claim. I have often thought that if I could tell just when and where my troubles began, and just when and where I was relieved I surely would not doubt any more. Sometimes my troubles seemed to come on me gradually, and to be lifted from me gradually, but I have never been able to describe my feelings to my own satisfaction. But I do know that my feelings and desires are different from what they once were. Some things I used to love do not interest me now. Especially do the so-called religious things I used to love and spend some time after seem abominable to me now, and the longer I live and see and hear them the more ‘disgusting they are to me.
In 1912 I was married to my second wife, thinking it best for me and my two little girls. In a short while I was very agreeably surprised to learn that she, too, was a lover of the Old Baptists, though having a name with the Missionaries. Coming on down to this present time my hopes and fears, joys and sorrows have continued to be a mixture. To tell all is impossible for me. It has seemed so often that my whole life thus far has been a failure, and wasted. Many times in earlier life I tried to drop all of my thoughts and fears, think no more about them, and take life easier. And at times I would resolve to drop it all, go back and start anew and do better. But instead of mending my ways by my good resolutions I only made them more unbearable. Sometimes when I hear good, gospel preaching my hope is revived, and I think surely there must be some sort of relationship between us, else how could that dear man describe my feelings so much better than I can, and how can I undertand, in part at least, love and enjoy his preaching as I do? To me the most delightful, grand meeting that I ever attended was the council, or meeting of investigation, held with New Clear Creek Church in November, 1913. During that meeting, while under the sound of (I thought) the best preaching I had ever heard, by Elder M. E. Petty, R. 0. Raulston, C. H. Cayce and others, the grand old church of Christ, as I humbly believe, was presented to my mental, and I hope spiritual vision in a way plainer than ever before, and it was the most beatiful sight, or heavenly scene I had ever beheld. I have no command of language to even begin to describe it. “The half has never yet been told.” I forgot how sinful, black and vile I was in the sight of God and His beautiful saints, and just wanted to be right up there in their midst. Somehow the words of Ruth to Naomi got on my mind and remained with me for days : “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee : for whither thou goest, I will go ; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried.” These were, and are yet, and I believe will be the sentiments of my poor heart towards those dear people. And if not deceived I was made more willing than ever before, even anxious to be one of them, though I feel it is the highest honor that can be bestowed on any mortal man, and too good for poor unworthy me.
I went home from that meeting trying to pray to the Lord, that if it is His will for me to offer my unworthy and sinful self to such grand and noble people, that He would not let me rest day nor night until I did so. 0 my soul! did I know what I asked? Surely I knew not what would soon befall me. I must be a Primitive Baptist or nothing, for they preach the only doctrine under heaven that can reach my case or do me any good. I cannot feast on any other, as it is only chaff—no substance in it. Soon something caused me to think, "How ridiculous. The very idea of such a creature as I hanging around after such good people as those." I was very much disgusted with myself. Have much of the time felt dull, lifeless and forsaken, spiritually. And much of the time had a great dread on my mind. It seems that something in the nature of a great calamity was coming upon me. Had not thought what it might or would be. I had a dear darling baby son (only one) who was now the joy and pride of my life. I had named him Cayce Burns, after two good, humble Old Baptist elders whom I love, hoping that it might some day please the Lord to make of him just such a man as either of them—an able preacher. He grew and thrived, in almost perfect health, seemingly. But all through his short life of one and a half years, I thought I saw something peculiar, even wonderful, about him which sometimes made me feel uneasy or anxious. He was uncommonly bright and cheerful, and in many of his acts he showed intelligence enough, I thought, for a child much older than he. He was always glad to meet daddy with a sweet little smile, and nothing pleased him more than to go with me about the place, either in my arms or tottering along on his own little feet.
But, alas! in the dark stillness of midnight his mother and I were awakened to find him with a burning fever. He lay sick nearly four weeks, bearing his sufferings with as great fortitude, it seemed, as most grown people. He cried almost none, seldom even whimpered. Somehow in the first few days of his sickness I had not felt seriously impressed that he would die, then one day I had been outside, and as I came into his room he lay facing me, and he raised his little right hand toward heaven, just as I had seen my old grandmother do many years ago as she lay speechless on her deathbed, thus telling us that she was on her way to that home above. And now, suddenly, I realized what the great calamity was that I had dreaded so much, and I saw the death of my darling little boy was near at hand. My hopes all vanished, and the thought of having to give him up wrung my very soul. Oh, how could I give him up? the joy of my poor life! Another of the hardest trials of my life. And I thought of it as most all other of my troubles—brought on me for my disobedience, and rebellion again God. Oh, what a rebel am I! And that prayer of mine on the way home from the council meeting, and I have not yet done what I had prayed the the Lord to make me do. Now it pleased the Lord to take him from a world of trouble, home to glory forevermore, and to teach me a great lesson in so doing. I hope I could see some of the goodness, mercy and glory of God in all of his short life, and more in and since his death. Oh, may it please the Lord to some day take this poor worm of the dust to meet his little darling angel in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. I can not go. If I am ever there, I hope I know it will be solely by the grace and mercy of God.
This, dear friends (if you should ever read it) is a part of my travels form boyhood to the present time, June, 1914. Whether it is an experience of grace I don’t know. I would be glad to know what my best friends, the dear Old Baptists, think of it. My intention is to have a few of them read it and see.
S. E. Copeland.
The above, in substance, was my first writing for our paper, published in THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST, March 15, 1915.
And here is my second letter with some slight changes and corrections of errors:
SWEET PEACE FOUND.
DEAR PRECIOUS BROTHER CAYCE :
Since my experience, if such it may be called, was published in our beloved paper, I have had several requests from dear brethren and sisters, both at home and abroad, . for another letter telling the rest of it from the time I left off to the present. I had not offered my unworthy self to the church when that piece was written. I sent it as it was on purpose. I wanted to see if the dear Old Baptists could see enough in it to write me a word of consolation. And now I have received so many good, consoling and soul-cheering letters from Old Baptists and friends that I am really glad I sent it, though imperfect as it is—so much like its author. Let me thank each and everyone who wrote me. May the special blessings of the Lord be yours. Your letters have been so much comfort to this poor unworthy worm. I am keeping them as a cherished treasure to be read again and again in the future. I would take pleasure in writing all a personal letter, but my time for writing is limited.
After the death of my dear baby boy the burden of going to the church bore heavier on my mind than ever before. That, and the burden of losing my baby, sometimes almost drove me crazy, it seemed. Both day and night I thought of and longed for the dear old church, but, oh! how utterly unworthy and unfit I was for such a high place with such noble people! And what a plain, unmistakable answer to that little prayer of mine on the way home from the council meeting : "Lord, if Thy will for me to offer myself to that- people, let me see no peace nor ease of mind day or night until I do so." How plainly my mind was daily impressed and directed to the church of God, the Primitive Baptists. Something like this: Troublous times are coming, and will come upon this earth, and the safest place for one like you is in the church. I could almost hear the words as if a man was speaking to me. I began to see that it was my only way to find relief of mind, but how could such a weakling do it, seeing it was by. far the greatest undertaking I ever thought of. Then I dreaded going alone, so began slyly questioning my wife. I thought she had an experience of grace, and being afraid to go alone in my weakness I wanted her to go with me. I thought if she would promise to go with me that would be great strength and encouragement to me. But she would not promise. I do sympathize with and pity any poor soul in the suffering condition that I was in. Now it seemed that I was to the end of my strength and could no longer resist.
So on Saturday before the second Sunday in July, 1914, after the most stubborn resistance, it seems, that a poor creature ever made, and after suffering untold agonies of mind, and feeling my unworthiness and nothingness more than ever before, I went to old Brown's Creek church and tried to tell them a few words of what I have written. I had been made willing, I hope, to do anything the Lord required of me to try and get relief from that awful burden I had carried so long. I went with still some little hope within that my dear wife would follow me. That hope was fully, and joyfully realized, for I had just gotten to the moderator and taken his hand when I heard footsteps behind me, and there she was! Also three others of the Lord's children joined with us, two sisters and a brother. We were baptized next day (Sunday) by that dear old man of God, Elder Andy Whitworth.
And now I often wish that I could tell every burdened soul on earth just what the Lord gave me for that simple act of obedience. I must have lost my troubles in old Big Spring Creek, for when Elder Whitworth raised me out of the water I came with the most, perfect calm and easy mind, and into a bright, new world. When I thought again of that old heavy burden that I had carried for days, months and years it was gone! I could not tell how it went, but it was gone, clean gone! I walked nearly half a mile to my house in my wet clothes in perfect peace, and all creation seemingly praising God. I went back to the meeting house and listened with a free and easy mind to the first grand good sermon I had heard in perfect peace in probably fifteen years. All of the following week I felt free, so free and easy. Tne burden of offering myself to the church was gone; that mean guilty feeling brought on by disobedience was gone ; every bit of burden and worry of every description was gone, and I was so PERFECTLY FREE. And I wonder, dear precious brethren and sisters everywhere, why can't we thank and praise the Lord forevermore for such blessed sweet assurances of our acceptance with Him? When the Lord and His truth shall make us free we are so free indeed. His loving command, or invitation, is to "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Take His yoke upon you and learn of Him; for His yoke is easy, and His burden is light; and you shall find rest unto your souls. I hope and believe that I have felt and realized the truth of this language.
So I would beg and plead with all the dear burdened souls (some of whom are my personal friends), if you should ever read this, don't do as I did; don't, for your Saviour's sake and for your own sakes, waste half your life in stubborn disobedience and suffering. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." He has loved you and blessed you, and that is why you suffer in disobedience. The Lord can not lie. He promises you tribulations while in the world of disobedience, but joy and peace if you obey Him. I humbly hope this poor worm has realized the truth of this in both cases. I can and do deeply sympathize with a poor bleating lamb outside the fold longing for a humble place with the happy flock inside the quiet green pasture, the church. I know you do feel so unworthy and unfit for anything in the house of God, the church, but don't wait until you 'feel worthy and fit to go, for if you do you will never go. That feeling of unworthiness and unfitness is proof positive that the grace of God has shined into your heart and shown you what you are. You can now see that you are nothing and He is everything. The more He shines in your heart the plainer you can see your nothingness, and instead of feeling more worthy and fit for the church you will feel more unworthy and unfit.
Now I have been asked if I ever regretted being baptized, or ever felt that burden again. Thank the Lord ! I can answer both questions with a great big NO ! Never for one instant have I regretted that one act of being baptized and never for one instant have I felt that burden again. I can not be sorry for that, though I have not sailed on flowery beds of ease all the time. I often thought after being baptized what big pay the Lord gives for little work. Just a few simple acts of obedience and you reap the joys a hundred fold right here ; don't have to wait for eternity. Jesus alone saves there, but we can save ourselves from many sorrows here by doing as He commands us. I have thought many times before I joined the church, and often since, that if Jesus has so loved us that He died to save us from eternal torment, we ought to be ashamed, to say the least, not to confess and honor Him before men by going to the church and following Him in baptism. If you know these things and will do them, you will surely reap happiness in this life ; but if we stubbornly refuse to to do them, we are just as sure of punishment here.
Sometime after I was baptized and had such a season of rejoicing I became cast down, not so bad at first, but continued to grow worse and worse until it bore heavily upon my mind. I wondered if I had deceived the dear old church, and if I was fit to have my name with them. I was seriously troubled over the thought when one day I met one of our brethren and we were talking. Not knowing my troubled mind he jokingly remarked that he had heard a little bad talk about me. Somebody (not a member) had said the Old Baptists took Copeland in without a change of heart. (Because in my little talk to the church I could give no date or time or place as to when it came, if at all I really had an experience.) So when he told me what had been said that finished me. I said, "Well, I am afraid that is true." Then the brother saw that I was really "down and out" and he tried to console me, and assured me that what the world said did not amount to anything anyway, so forget it and let them talk if they wanted to. I did so the best I could, and began trying to read and hope and pray for relief from the dark cloud I was under. I took my Testament with me over my rural mail route and read daily between boxes, or any time I could find a few spare moments. Was hoping that I might find something in the Scriptures to fit my case, or that would afford me some relief. I finally came to the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians, where the apostle speaks so beautifully of the several members composing the body. And when I had read on down including the 21st verse I found the sweetest relief and the greatest consolation, it seemed, that I had ever found in any Scripture. I was made to feel that my place in the body was to be a foot. or I was that part of the body, and the head, and other members above me could not, or would not, say they had no need of me. And I rejoiced to feel that I could be judged worthy to be even the foot, that lowliest member of the body to help bear its burdens, the burdens of the grand old church of God, and bride of Christ. How satisfied and thankful I was to be just that. And how satisfied and thankful I hope to be if I may always be permitted to be at the feet of the Lord and my brethren. May the good Lord and they keep me there. As I travel on through the uneven journey of life I hope my chief desire is to have the approving smiles of the Lord and the love and fellowship of His people ; then after this life, oh! may I, by grace divine, be the least one in that great multitude which no man could number.
Brother Cayce, may the Lord continue His blessings to you and yours, and to all of His noble servants everywhere. Your unworthy brother in hope.—S. E. Copeland.
Later: 1944—Just one week, as I remember, after I joined the church at Old Brown's Creek in July, 1914, I began visiting the sister churches in our association, the Mt. Zion. Pretty soon I had spread my visits for and near so much that even in my early years as an unworthy member I had visited every church in our body, unmbering a total of twenty-five, scattered over a territory nearly one-hundred miles "wide and long." Also, soon began to visit in other associations. And from the first it was my delight to load my "T" model Ford with Old Baptists and their friends and take them with me to meetings. Especially did I enjoy taking our preachers to and from their appointments, and hearing them tell the good old new story of God's gospel, both in and out of the pulpit. I have, for many years now, been called by some, "the preacher-hauler," and I don't mind that one bit, but rather like it, for that is about all, it seems, that I was fit for. Just tried to observe and do the first lesson I learned—that I was the foot of the body, and my job was to help bear the body along life's uneven journey.
After thirty years in this service it is still my delight to take Old Baptists where they go, be with them there, bring them with me when I return, and there is no other company that can compare with them as "company" in my poor home. That word "company" does not express my meaning as I feel it. Nor does "guest" express it. We are all one family, if we are Old Baptists, really and truly. When I go among them I don't feel to be either "guest" nor "company" nor "somebody come." I feel at home, and do not remember that I have been away from home in all these thirty years among them. Though unworthy as I am they have given me such a welcome that I could not help feeling at home with them. And I want them to feel the same hearty welcome when they visit my poor home. About thirty was the biggest crowd of them that I ever had with me at once, and. I have thought that I would really enjoy having around hundred one time, and have really planned a few times to try and have that many, but somehow never got up to it.
I visited a corresponding association once where a few over one hundred spent the night with a brother, and all seemed to enjoy it immensely. The brother is still alive and happy over it, and none the poorer, even after these many intervening years. He is one of the Lord's preachers and he possesses that Bible qualification—"given to hospitality." Real Primitive Baptists are noted for their genuine hospitality. For proof of this listen to their calls for company at the associations and other "big meetings." They don't say, "I'll take two," but "I'll take all that will go with me." And instead of grabbing their hats and breaking for the door and for home as soon as the benediction is said, they hang around awhile to see that you do go, and to get you headed out in that direction. They are really a peculiar kind of folks aren't they? Yes, the Lord has purified them unto Himself a peculiar people and made them zealous of good works. They are sometimes accused with not believing in good works, but they do believe in them and they do them. Their accusers try to get the dead (sinners) to work in order to live but that is not doing good works. That is the work of darkness. Old Baptists know better than to try it. They want live men to work in the light, and they insist that they (live sinners) do work—while it is day.
Soon after I joined the church my brethren, very much against my will and wish, elected me clerk of the church. Then it was not long until the Union or District meeting had me in as clerk of that body. Next the Mt. Zion Association, while I was doing my best to hide from them, drafted me in as clerk of that body, and I have tried to serve them the best I could for the past twenty-four (now 30) annual sessions. I am unworthy of the notice of my good brethren, but try to serve in all three places, as it seems their pleasure. Yet, none of these it seems to me, was the worst mistake my brethren made with me. That was when they ordained me instead of a deacon. I said "instead" because I think real deacons are few and far between, and I fall so far short of the qualifications, and in failing to fill the office. I had already formed the habit of going all over our country to all of the communion and feet washing meetings, which I especially enjoyed, so when they put me in a deacon's place I was terribly upset because I knew that serving on such occasions seemed to be about all they used deacons for in this country, and that was too sacred a place for a thing like me to work in. But after serious consideration my mind was to continue going, for I had found too much joy in those good old annual and semi-annual meetings to quit and lose it all henceforth for fear I might have to serve, so I kept going to them. I reasoned thus : That if a mistake had been made, it was the church that made it, for I did not ask for it, nor did they ask me if I wanted it. They just acted as if I belonged to them—and I did. Their not consulting me was, I think, that much done according to the Scripture in Ac 6.
Just one week after my ordination I tried, after kind and earnest solicitations from my brethren, to serve for the first time at the communion table, feeling so little and unworthy. Our feet washing services have for many years of my life been the most solemn and sacred of all, seemingly, to this poor unfit mortal. Yet one of the most joy to me. Some of the most supremely happy, heavenly moments of my poor life have been while engaged in this sacred service. Yes, and I hope, and sometimes believe, that I have washed our blessed Saviour's feet, for I have washed the feet 'of some of His most humble little children, and He says whatsoever we do to the least of these we do that to Him. I have often heard our 'brethren in these services say they had no choice among the brethren—just as soon wash the feet of one as the other. But I have often thought and felt that I had a choice, and he is the brother that feels deep down in his very soul to be the least, most unworhthy one in God's kingdom or church. If I could know every time just who he is I would beg him to let me wash his feet. But oh, how little and unfit am I for him to come so low down as to wash my sinful feet! But, our Lord and Master bowed His holy form down and washed the disciples' feet, giving us the great example, and He said we ought to wash one another's feet, and if we knew these things we would be happy if we do them. And how true we have found, by sweet experience, that to be.
I remember well the first of our humble, dutiful elders that came with water and towel and in the most meek and lowly attitude bowed himself down and asked to wash my feet! Oh, how little and unworthy I felt. I can never describe it. But I submitted, and then I washed his feet, and then that calm, satisfied, happy feeling. Again how true, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." In another such meeting and service there was a good German-born brother. I had learned to love him and he seemed so humble that I somehow had a desire to wash his feet, and did so, then he humbly bowed ahd washed mine. And about that time it seemed like heaven came down and everybody in the house was happy. There were God's children from two continents, from opposite sides of the great ocean gathered together in His service, following His lovely example and it was like heaven on earth to be there. It made this old sinner think of the happier meeting to come when all of the redeemed out of every nation shall be gathered together in a meeting that shall never break up and the great Giver of that blessed example, the Moderator of it!
It would require a book to tell about all of such meetings this poor mortal has been blessed to be in and enjoy, so I will mention one more and stop—maybe. In that meeting there were some of the best deacons and some of the ablest, humblest elders of all of my acquaintance during thirty years among the Primitive Baptists, and I the most insignificant little old nothing in that great assembly of saints of God. Now imagine if you can, how I felt when one of those best deacons, and one of those ablest, most gifted Elders (C. H. C.) both at once meekly bowed themselves at my unholy feet and began to wash them, the tears all the while streaming down their Christlike faces! My feelings and the heavenly joy of that meeting I have not words to describe. I wonder sometimes if I could count my blessings, ever. The greatest of all is my little hope of eternal life with God in heaven after this world is no more for me, if indeed I am His. Next is the blessed gift of understanding, knowing and enjoying His gospel truth, and the happy privilege of a home in His true church while I am permitted to live in this world of troubles, sorrows and disappointments. 0 that I had or could find words to thank and praise God for redeeming me from eternal banishment from His presence and from His blessed people with whom I have spent so many happy hours in His service and in their most kind and hospitable homes. Their confidence, love and sweet fellowship are more of the innumerable blessings that He has bestowed on unworthy me. I have so many times through life been sorely tempted to break almost, if not quite, every command in His holy law, and it seems that I have often found myself leaning far out over the very brink of destruction from which nothing but the grace and mercy of God could save me. I believe that He has often warned me in dreams and otherwise of the awful dangers I was in and thus mercifully helped me to escape them. I have, I suppose, had every passion and desire common to boys and men—the same depraved nature—and some evil spirit (not God's Spirit) has often told me that I was a hypocrite and a coward or I would do everything the others did. So now, in my sixty-eight year, I feel that "Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, but grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace I hope will lead me home!
Not only has the Lord's kind providence seemed to help and protect me from moral and spiritual dangers and ruin, but it has included physical dangers as well. I wonder sometimes when I think "How can God look with compassion upon and protect a worthless one like me from even sudden death. Once I was in the very act of stepping absent-mindedly off the sidewalk onto a railroad track directly in front of a moving train, where no doubt, I would have been either killed or badly hurt, when some one shouted "Hey !" I stopped while the train rushed past me, then went on my way, in mind wondering, "Can it be possible that the Lord used that man to save my unprofitable life?" Another time while driving my horse and buggy through a deep cut on the mail route where it was very narrow like a one way road, I suddenly met a run-away two horse team with a big wagon. It seems unreasonable but they passed by me at full speed without touching my buggy, my horse or me. Another : I drove under a high shed after dark, stepped out on the ground and thought, "This shed could fall on me and kill me." Next morning I went at break of day to feed the stock and there lay that heavy shed on the very spot where I stood when that thought came into my mind. Now, what? Was the good Lord mercifully warning me the night before of the danger I was in? Again, I visited a brother at his home. Parked my car under his barn. Had just gotten inside his house when we heard a crash at the barn, ran out and found a heavy pile of lumber lying lengthwise across the front seat whence I had just left. I said, "I wonder why that did not fall on me and kill me?" The brother's wife said, "The Lord is not ready for you to go yet. He has further use for you." Well, what could it be? I had never amounted to anything then, nor haven't yet. My occupation then was carrying rural mails and going to Old Baptist meetings, and it is the same today. (Now it is attending meetings.)
Since then I have driven automobiles an average of fifty miles per day and Sunday during all of these twenty-odd years without a serious accident, never getting hurt nor hurting anyone else, though I have had many seeming very narrow escapes where none but the protecting hand of God could save me. All of this makes me feel so little, knowing how unprofitable my life has been. I look back over my life to see if I can find any good deed, or anything of worth or merit on my part that would commend me to God or His people. I find none. Often it is a question in my mind what can His dear people see in me to cause them to even retain me in their fellowship, and much more, manifest to me their sweet Christian love as they have so long done. If I know my poor old heart I love them, but how can they love me? I would be miserably undone without them, but feel that they could get along nicely without me. I used to think they were so nearly perfect that they never did any wrong but I learned that there is no man that lives on earth and sinneth not. Proof : Like their antitype, ancient Israel. They do wrong sometimes, even wickedly, and then suffer for it; for they are God's people and He loves them, and whom He loves He chastens. They are accused by their enemies of fussing too much among themselves and I have to confess that they do. I love Primitive Baptists more than any or all other people—but I don't love some things they do—things that some of them do, but not all of them by anymeans. A few of them have caused me great pain and sorrow of heart. Just a few have said the hardest sayings against me and brought the most false accusations and sorely grieved my poor old heart, but my love for Primitive Baptists remains far greater and above all others, and they have wonderfully manifested and proved their love for me.
In my meditations I have sometimes thought, if there could be such a thing as bargaining for, or being allotted a certain place, or seat in heaven that I would be satisfied with, and glad to know that mine would be the lowest, or no seat at all, but just an humble place inside on the floor where I could see and hear the redeemed host sing the eternal praise of God in the eternal Heaven of heavens. To be inside those walls is too good for me ! A man said to me, "If I get there, look around and see some one of my family missing it will not be Heaven to me." I don't know about our personal identity there, neither am I worrying about it. So I said to the brother, "It seems to me that we may not be looking about up there for natural families. If, when you get there, look around and see all of the redeemed family of God there, not a member missing, don't you think you would be perfectly satisfied?" He said, "I had not thought of it that way."
MISSION WORK IN THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS OF VIRGINIA
By Rev. B. M. Beckham
Stretching from Harper's Ferry, in Virginia, to Birmingham, Ala., a distance of about six hundred miles, with an average width of about 150 miles, is what is known as the Southern Appalachian range of mountains, comprising an area of nearly 90 thousand spuare miles and containing a population of not far from four millions of souls. Of these, the vast multitudes are as excellent people in every way and as progressive socially, religiously, and commercially as are people anywhere in all the world. But hidden back in the more remote and out-of-the-way places, isolated and inaccessible, are some three or four hundreds of thousands of people who have been passed by in the onward march of progress of our civilization and grievously neglected in the matter of education and of religion.
The Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, happens to have within its bounds a part of this neglected territory but for many decades the work of the Conference in this section was wholly unsatisfactory. Reports were constantly being made of conditions that imperatively demanded a more aggressive and efficient policy ; but nothing was done beyond supplying with mission funds a few weak and scattered church with preaching once a month, usually by young and inexperienced men on trial, whose chief concern was to secure another appointment, or else by local preachers usually from the Communities which they served as supplies. One of these charges, consisting of four or five churches and served by a local preacher, raised $10.50 during the conference year for all purposes and applied that to the traveling expenses of the preacher in charge. Not a penny was paid to anything else, and only one soul was added to the church on profession of faith in a community where there were thousands out of the church and where the church membership was painfully small. The conditions came to be intolerable, and no conference in our connection could allow them to continue to exist as they were and do no more than we were doing to relieve them and maintain its self-respect.
Eight years ago the writer was appointed, by Bishop Morrison as presiding elder of the Danville District, in which the above named territory is located, and was immediately face to face with the question as to what ought to be done to improve the situation. It was manifest that it was necessary to make a study of conditions and to diagnose the case as thoroughly as possible before attempting to prescribe a remedy. It was found that there were several large sections that were entirely without church buildings or any sort of opportunity for religious services. These several sections, if put together, would make an area 30 by 40 miles, or twelve hundred square miles of territory destitute of church of any denomination and inhabited by many thousands of people who were wholly without opportunity to save their souls. It was discovered, too, that, out of a population of about thirty one thousand, twenty seven thousand were outside of the church, and only four thousand belonged to all of the half dozen or more churches that were operating in their midst.
A DEARTH OF EDUCATION.
The superintendent of public schools is our authority for the statement that in one couhty alone there are eight thousand children of school age, and that the average attendance at the public schools is about three thousand, leaving in this one county a vast multitude of five thousand young people who are denied the opportunity for even the rudiments of an education. But inasmuch as there are several counties involved in the question it becomes more serious ; and the number of children of school age who do not go to school is multiplied into a mighty army. One official connected with the state Board of Education said there was absolutely no use to bother with the county referred to above, because it was hopeless educationally. Some of the schools last no longer than three months, and many of the teachers hold "emergency" certificates and do not know as much as well taught fourth or fifth grade pupils. But often the schools are so far apart that many of the children do not attend at all. In some sections it is the exception when the older people are able to read and write. They often make their mark in place of signing their names.
Another symptom that had to be very earnestly taken into account is the lawless traffic in strong drink which prevails widely, with all the attendant evils that always follow in its wake. This traffic arises largely out of the fact that it is so easy to hide away in the mountain's vastness, and thus evade the officers of the law. It arises, too, from the fact that it is so hard to make a living any other way and so easy to make it this way. Moreover, the "moonshiner" feels that he has aright to do what he will with his own and that it is tyranical for the government to say him nay. One of our preachers found three fifty-gallon barrels full of unstamped liquor hidden behind an old graveyard. Two others rode up at different times on illicit distilleries as they were going along in the discharge of their pastoral work. Recently I saw 2500 pounds of copper stills that had been cut up by the revenue officers, being sent away to be sold for old copper. It is brought in in large rolls and carried back into the mountains, where experts make it up into distilleries. Every one knows that the traffic prevails widely, and no one undertakes to deny it. In a magistrial district with which I am well acquainted it is an established fact that every man in the district who is old enough, with one exception, either has been or is now engaged in the lawless traffic in strong drink.
THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD
Growing out of the lawless traffic is what is known as the blood feud, through which many a man has met his death. In the community referred to above no fewer than nine men have been shot to death. In another, a littlefarther west from that, five men were shot and killed during Christmas week of 1917 just passed. In another community, the one in which we live, six men were shot during Christmas, 1917, but only one of them died as a result. A few years ago in this mountain region the lawless element, under the influence of strong drink, invaded the court room during the progress of the trial of one of their number, shot and killed the judge of the court and other officers and persons to the number of five in as many minutes. Mr. Horace Kephart is responsible for the statement that no fewer than five hundred assassinations have taken place in the mountains of Virginia and two or three adjoining states as the result of the lawless liquor traffic ; and there have been very few legal executions for all of these crimes, because it is impossible to get evidence that will convict. There is an unwritten law among the mountaineers that no other offense is so utterly contemptible and worthy of death as that a man should become a telltale and an informer on his neighbors, and no man can do this and continue to live. For this reason it is impossible to secure witnesses that will give damaging evidence.
A CURIOUS FAITH
Another fact that had to be taken into account was the religious belief of the people. While it is true that their church are few in number, very weak, and widely scattered, it is also true that they have a very positive theology. The keynote of their faith is an absolute and complete predestination of all things that come to pass. Man is a mere automaton. He has no will of his own. All that he is and all that he does were determined upon and unalterably fixed before the world was made and are brought to pass by the power of Omnipotence, which none can change and none resist. The names of the elect were written in the book of life in the cycles of the past. They will be saved by Omnipotent power apart from any effort of their own, and all others must as truly be dammed.
GOD NEEDS NO HELP FROM US
It follows, therefore, that it is a matter of presumption for man to do anything to "help God save the world." He needs no help, for He is the author of all that comes to pass. He does not desire, but, on the contrary, despises all human devices as Sunday Schools, where children are taught by human beings to profess that they are converted and influenced to join the church, whereas this is a matter with which none but a divine being should have anything to do. For the same reason God despises such artificial religious stimulants and narcotics as are brought into play in a so-called revival, where people are frightened and begged into a sham profession and into making mock of sacred truths. Sending missionaries into home or foreign fields is utterly wrong, because man is substituting his own weakness and ignorance in a vain and foolish effort to "save souls" whereas none but God can save a soul. It is entirely wrong to preach to the unconverted, anyway, directly or indirectly, they tell us. The elect must be saved ; and no power in the universe can prevent it, and no power in the universe can add to or take from that number determined and fixed upon "before the foundation of the universe" and therefore unchangeable and unalterable even by the power of God Himself, for God cannot undo His own work. It is utterly futile and vain, and therefore sinful, for puny man to presume to try to do the work that is alone the work of God—the salvation of a soul.
AN UNEDUCATED MINISTRY
It is wrong to educate men for the ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He teaches that man Himself, inspires him, and gives him his message, and he needs no help from the schools. Men who are educated for the ministry are "man-made preachers" and have no wisdom or power from above, and what they say they get out of the books and are entirely without the help and guidance of the Spirit. Their preachers are, therefore, almost without exception, ignorant men, who are proud of what they can do without learning. One of them said publicly recently that he ad not seen inside of his Bible for six months and that durin that time he had preached every Sunday.
THE CHURCH FAVORS THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC
I dined recently with a mountaineer who had spent his life in the place where he was living, and he said he knew every preacher of this faith in the county and many others and that he did not know a single one of them who did not drink moderately and that their influence was favorable to the liquor traffic. He said also that he had been going to hear them preach for thirty years or more and that he had never heard them say one word against the liquor traffic or the crimes that grew out of it or against anything else that was wrong, but that their preaching consisted entirely in telling the people of what God would or would not do for them.
I once subscribed for a year to a paper published by these people, and every issue was filled with accounts of dreams written usually by old ladies. Great importance is attached to dreams and these are usually related as a basis for admission to the church. Young people are not allowed to join the church, and older ones are advised "not to join as long as they can stay out," the intimation being that one cannot stay out when God desires him to come in.
This doctrine has paralyzed the spiritual and largely the moral powers of the people. Since they cannot possibly do anything to save themselves, they do not try. If all they do, including their crimes, was determined upon before they were born by a power that they cannot resist, then there is no use to try to keep from committing crime. If we do that which is wrong, it was decreed that we should, and we cannot help it. There is a very intimate and logical relation between this theology and the ignorance, immorality, irreligion, and criminal tendencies that are so widely prevalent. The great multitudes of people are out of the church and have no thought or care for their souls and will not listen to those who beg them to have mercy upon themselves. This faith teaches them not to pray, not to work for God or their fellow men, not to give to anything or anybody, not to make any effort to save their own souls or the souls of others, but simply to follow their desires and appetites and go pell-mell to hell.
The last symptom with which we shall deal in diagnosing this case of spiritual malady is that of selfishness. This does not appear in the matter of hospitality. Possibly nowhere in the world is there a more genuine and sincere manifestation of kindness in entertaining the stranger than is to be found in the mountains. The mountaineer will divide with you his last crust if you are in need. But ask him for money for any department of your church work or any other charity or benevolence, and you will be badly disappointed. He may give you a nickel or a dime, or, if he is unusually prosperous, he may hand you a quarter ; but you turn away sick and discouraged when you attempt anything of the sort. He believes in free gospel and is perfectly willing for people not as well off as he is -to contribute the money necessary to pay his pastor's salary in the form of an appropriation from the mission board. No matter how much you do for him religiously, he is willing for you to do more ; but he does not expect you to call on him to do anything for anybody else; and if you do you will be disappointed.
Dr. B. M. Beckham
Dear Doctor :
I read with a degree of interest and amusement your article, in the paper, Christian Advocate (Nashville), for January 25, 1918.
I live well within the strip of territory of which you write, "Stretching from Harper's Ferry, in Virginia, to Birmingham, Ala., a distance of about six hundred miles, with an average width of about one hundred and fifty miles, what is known as the Southern Appalachian range of mountains," embracing the southern mountain country and foothills ; and judging from your description of the people, a more benighted set of ignorance do not exist on this planet. Now, if ignorance is the qualification, I plead guilty. I am one of us, and as your "call" is to lift us up in education, morals, and religion, I feel at liberty to call on you for further help and information. I will send this letter to the Christian Advocate and ask you to reply through the same, that all of the readers may have the bnefit of it, for I feel that many of us need to learn more. I was born and reared here in the northeast corner of Alabama, among the hills and hollows, raccoons and 'possums, on corn bread and "punkins," where the people say we'uns, you'uns and us'uns, and where if we sometimes attended any religious service at all we were "gwine to metin," not "going to church." I never had any literary training worth mentioning. Never attended any sort of school longer than about six months, all told, and my longest continuous single term in school was about eight weeks. Those were the little backwoods schools we had twenty-five and thirty years ago, with teachers about like some you mentioned. I had few studies. Did not care for many. Never studied grammar a day in my life. I know nothing about it except the little I have learned by what I suppose you would call observation. I am telling all of this so you will be prepared to excuse or pardon all of my many mistakes, my bad form, sorry composition, faulty diction, etc. After I became a good sized boy I was somewhat interested in a few studies, other than grammar, and managed to dig out most of the little I have at home without a teacher. So please pardon me for being so very ignorant. You cannot expect much better out of me after my having always lived among the people you wrote about and in the territory you described, which, for convenience, we might call the "Zone of Ignorance."
You had much to say about the needs of these benighted people, both natural and spiritual. I confess that I am very much in need. I am past forty years now and I am afraid I am too old to learn much, but there are many things I would like to know. You said a good deal about a religious education and about people along the Blue Ridge and the rest of this Zone of Ignorance, or sadly benighted streak having an opportunity to save their souls. A good many years ago I became interested in, or concerned about, the salvation of my soul. I wanted to save myself but the bottom fell out of everything I tried, and I made a miserable failure. Was it for the lack of a religious education, or an opportunity to be saved, which? I heard men preach from the pulpit just what you preached through the press and I did what they said as near as . I could, but it would not work. They said they came to teach us and to give us an opportunity to be saved.
Do you suppose it is possible that they did not know what they were talking about? They always told me forty-seven ways and things to do that I must do to be saved, and then said all I had' to do was to give my heart to God and say, "Take me just as I am." But I am bound to confess that I was so grossly ignorant that I did not know nor could I ever learn how to do the job to my entire satisfaction. So if you can help me it will be appreciated. I was always called a good boy—morally. I kept all of the commandments that I did not break, but I read somewhere that if a man failed in one point he was guilty of the whole law. There came a time with me when it seemed that my morality did not, count. I have been told that there is no difference between morality and religion, meaning by "religion," being a child of God. Is that so, doctor ? But in spite of my morality I felt to be anything but a child of God. No sinner was vile enough to compare with me. There is a tangle in the hank here that I would be glad to have you straighten out for me. I want to learn all I can about it, then maybe I won't be so ignorant. Please tell me plainly just how or what a man must do to be saved? You preachers tell us sinners that if we don't DO this, that and many other things, we will be lost; but if we do, do all these things we will be saved. There were always so many ways or so much machinery about it that my mind became muddled and I got the job tangled before we will be saved. What is our condition or state before we begin to act? Please be sure and tell me. If we have to do to be saved and have to refuse to do to be last, what if we just sit still and neither do nor refuse to do? I want to know the state or condition of a man that is neither saved nor unsaved. Is an unsaved man dead, or alive? It seems to me that he would have to be very much alive to do even half the preachers tell him he must do. But I have a Book that I have not read much, and it teaches me that the sinner (alien) is dead and that he must be regenerated and born again, born of God to be saved. And I have a long time wanted to know that I had this second birth, but I am not yet sure about that.
Can you tell me how to be born again, and how many times I will have to be born? Some of my associates in my boyhood days used to be born every July or August, if they told the truth about it. They claimed to have been saved that often and of course, each saving meant a birth, if that is necessary. (Or, did they get eternal life that often?) How does a man give his heart to God? I never could learn how to do that. Can a dead man give his heart, or any other part of himself ? Is the sinner "plumb" dead in trespasses and sin as the Book teaches? Then, does he receive the things of the Spirit of God to which he is dead? Can he know them, either before or after you preach to him? The Bible says he cannot. Why is it that some preachers do not believe what the Bible says? The Bible says he is dead to these things, but the preachers tell him he can do them—and must do them. Who is right, God in His Book, or the preacher fresh from the modern college? How does a preacher give life to a sinner by preaching to him? If you can preach spiritual life into people I do wish you would pay us a visit down this way and stay as long as you can stand our ways! I will take up a collection or try to borrow the money to pay your salary, provided the goods you deliver are satisfactory. Is it a trade?
I have heard of one Christ Jesus. Who is He? And what was His mission into this world? I have heard preachers say He came to make a way possible and passable so everybody could be saved. I am not very well posted, so I have not been able to find the Scripture for that. If. that is what it teaches; now wouldn't it be grand if everybody just wouLD? But whatever He came to do, did He do it? Did He come to do the will of man or the will of God His Father? What is the Father's will? Does Jesus give eternal life to as many as His Father gave Him? What if some reject Him and refuse to believe Him? Shall their unbelief make His faith and work without effect? The preachers say some refuse to accept Him after all of His begging and pleading and offering of eternal life to them. If that is the case, is His will accomplished in both heaven and earth? How long does eternal life last?
Why do some people have to have theirs resurrected every summer? Does eternal mean one year only? Or maybe till the first frost comes? There are a few old fogy people down here in this end of your benighted zone who believe that one must have eternal life before he can do a spiritual work. But I guess we need not be surprised at them for they haven't had any religious education in college nor a chance or opportunity to save their souls. They won't even bel eve that a man must hear the preacher's voice and that he (the preacher) gives unto them eternal life and they shall not perish! NO! They say Jesus does that, and they are just so far behind the times that they believe eternal means longer than till the first frost or next summer or any other summer. I have heard preachers say, "We came to give you an opportunity to be saved tonight." Some of them seem to be doing most of their work in the night, and I have thought that if they would wait for day they might do a better job of saving people, or maybe prove how presumtuous they are.
Doctor, what is a preacher for? I have heard him called a shepherd, a hunter, etc. Does a shepherd make sheep? Or does he keep and feed them? Does a hunter or a fisherman make game and fishes? Or does he catch them? Did Jesus tell Peter to make sheep and lambs for Him? Or to feed His lambs and sheep? You seem to feel "called" to save, or at least to help save us ignoramuses in the "Zone of Ignorance." Have you really saved anybody along the Blue Ridge where you work? You said they were without opportunity to save their souls, and that your school was started for that purpose. If some have been saved by your efforts whom shall they praise in glory —Jesus, you, or your school? If what you preachers tell us is all true, they would have been neither saved nor lost, for if they reject Christ after you have gone to the trouble and expense of bringing Him to them they will be lost, but if they accept Him they will be saved. Seems to me it would have been less trouble and expense to you if you had just let them stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they knew the country and were content to be. But if some sinner in the mountains has been saved by your effort, could Jesus have reached him or would he have been saved if you had not gotten there? If not, then whose obedience has made him alive, or righteous, or saved him? Was it by the obedience of One Christ Jesus, or was it by the obedience of one Doctor Beckham, or One and Doctor Beckham? Please pardon if I scatter my remarks a good deal. I'm ignorant.
In your article you had much to say about a people of a "curious faith," and proceeded to saddle all of the mischief done in the "Zone of Ignorance" on them. I knew very well, I thought, whom you alluded to, but I wanted you to call them by name so I could be sure. One of your brethren had given them a rap in the same paper of an earlier date, so I wrote him for more information and he referred me to you, saying you would send me some printed matter that would be of interest to me. Then I wrote you for it and asked you about those people. You replied by post card, saying, "They are sometimes called `Hardshells'." But you could not furnish the literature desired. I wrote the foregoing while waiting to hear from you. I have heard and now I will try in my weakness and ignorance to notice a few things you say these people of a "curious faith" believe.
First, you say their religious belief had to be taken into account in your school work. I don't doubt it, for the very work or name, "Hardshell," according to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, means, "Fixed ; immovable as to belief or practice ; uncompromising." So you have struck a knot when you undertake to teach it out of them. You people and all of your religious allies have been hammering away on them for years but it is like thumping marbles against a Gibraltar. So if your little school is yourremedy for spiritual ignorance and the salvation of the people you might as well give it up as a bad job and quit. According to your last article in the paper, that is the remedy you are using. You say, "While it is true, their churches are few in number, very weak, and widely scattered, it is also true that they have a very positive theology." Yes, they are the few that have found the strait and narrow way. The Lord has chosen them, not because they are more than other people, but because He loved them, for they are t e fewest of all people. De 6. And they are not as weak as you heard they were, not as "Reverend" Beckham says they are, for with all of the combined forces of men and devils trying to exterminate them, from Jesus and John in the River Jordan, on down through all the centuries, they have utterly failed. Their Builder and Maker said such gates of hell shall not prevail against them. Yes, they are scattered over a wide portion of the earth, but you must remember they are the salt of the earth, and one does not pile all of the salt on one little piece of pork, but he scatters it over the whole hog so all will be preserved. If all of the salt were piled onto the Blue Ridge, the rest of this earth would soon be past redemption. It would surely need much more than "Reverend" Beckham's little college, and a "chance to save its soul." I have heard it said, and I find it to be true, that if one wants to know what the Primitive Baptists do not believe, just hear their enemies tell what they believe. As, for instance, we have just heard from Doctor Beckham. You say, "The keynote of their faith is an absolute and complete predestination of all things that come to pass. Man is a mere automaton. He has no will of his own. All that he is and all that he does were determined upon and unalterably fixed before the world was made and are brought to pass by the power of Omnipotence, which none can change and none resist. The names of the elect were written in the book of life in the cycles of the past. They will be saved by Omnipotent power apart from any effort of their own, and all others must as truly be damned."
Now, parson, if you know anything about them, you know that there is not a true Primitive Baptist in Virginia that believes God predetermined before the world was that you should preach as you do—"another gospel which is not a gospel." Neither did He "unalterably fix and decree that you should publish to the world that His church, the Primitive Baptists, favor the liquor traffic, and are responsible for so much moonshining in the Blue Ridge Mountains where YOUR PREACHERS found three barrells of unstamped whiskey behind an old graveyard and run onto so many wildcat stills on their way to "church." I just wonder why moonshine stills and whiskey—barrels full of it—are so easily found by Methodist preachers, anyway? Could it be their sense of smell, or thirst, or their taste for "toddy" that makes the job so easy for them? And when they find three fifty gallon barrels full in a pile, do you suppose that they sample each barrel "moderately ?" Are the stills located on the public highways, or are the highways behind old graveyards and through the back hollows? Are you church houses located among the cliffs and rocks in the inaccessible out-of-the-way places? God being allwise He foreknew that those Methodist preachers would find those stills and that whiskey, and He might have foreknown that they would drink some of it for ought I know, but He did not predestinate it.
God is a God of purpose. He hinders and none can work. He works and none can hinder. He determined before time to send His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to redeem His predestinated people, all that the Father gave the Son, and they shall all come to Him and He will not lose one that He died for. That is the plain, positive teaching of the Scriptures or "positive theology" if you want it, and there are not enough Methodist D. D.'s in Virginia or anywhere else to refute it. As to man being a mere automaton, having no will of his own, I have read of a case or two. The great and learned Saul, like you, had a will of his own, but it was to do evil continually, persecuting and trying to exterminate the church of God; and that sort of work was so in harmony with his nature as an alien from God that it was in a sense mechanical or automatic—just his nature to do that way. But when the Lord's time came to change him about He gave him a will to do as God will—"What will thou have me do"— and not after his own natural will. He had no will in the matter of God doing His will with him. He was not plead with nor consulted. It was done before Saul even knew who or what was working with him, and then he wanted to know "Who art thou, Lord?" But I am so ignorant. Never heard of an automaton till I read your article in the paper. So maybe I am learning some.
Yes, the names of the elect were written in the Lamb's book of life. "In thy book were all of my members written, when as yet there was none of them." And, of course, they will all be saved apart from any effort of their own, for all men are dead in trespasses and sins until quickened, made alive, saved, by the power of Omnipotence. They are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity ; they are estranged from the womb ; they go forth speaking lies as soon as they be born; they cannot please God ; they are not subject to His law, neither indeed can be until regenerated and born again by His Holy Spirit. I have asked you to tell me how to be born again. We read of natural things being used to illustrate the spiritual. What has the child to do to bring about its first or natural birth? It has been a long time since I was born, but as near as I can recollect I didn't have much to do with it. I didn't even have to exercise faith in nor accept my father nor mother in order to be their son!
"And all others must as truly be damned." Man is already in that condemned state of death by his own works. That is what our works did for us, although millions of people, including thousands of preachers, ignore it, or just flatly refuse to believe God's word for it. God told the man in the garden that he should surely die if he disobeyed. The devil told him that he should not die, and he and some preachers are still telling him that he is not as dead as God and His preachers say he is. What about it, doctor? It looks unfavorable for you. You say you believe God, but you go on and preach to this same dead man that he must do thus and so in order to live. If you should be caught out in some "old graveyard" in the mountains telling those naturally or corporeally dead, that if they would do so and so they would receive natural life for it, we might expect to read soon in the daily papers where Doctor Beckham, of Ferrum, Va. had been sent to the state asylum for the insane.
Yes, most assuredly it is a matter of presumption for a man to try to do anything to help God save the world. He looked us all over long, long ago and saw there were none to help. Another of your slurs: "He needs no help, for He is the author of all that is and all that comes to pass." The first four words of that quotation is true, but the rest of it is a false accusation against His people, whether ignorantly, or wilfully made by you, and He is not the author of it, nor did He prompt you to say it.' Neither, is He the author of any of our bad doings or sayings, yours or mine—He did not predestinate them.
No, He does not desire "but rather despises all such human devices as Sunday Schools." Can you give us one Scriptural example or authority for them, or for any other of your very modern, artificial religious stimulants and narcotics as are brought into play in your so-called revivals, where people, usually women and children, are begged and frightened by scary anecdotes into making a sham profession, both preacher and "penitent" often making a mock of the sacred truths of the Bible? You can not find one. If God had needed or wanted them He surely would have made some provision for them. Do you suppose He forgot that part of it, till smart men came along and invented them for Him? No, He knew the Methodists and others would come in these modern times and invent and use such things, but He did not "unalterably fix and decree" that they should. He said His Scripture is a perfect, thorough furnisher unto every good work. Being perfect, nothing can be added to improve it.
Then as it is a thorough furnisher unto every good work, it follows, and is clearly proven, that your modern soul-saving machinery is not good works, but BAD WORKS, for the Scripture gives us no example for them. It is not the churches' business to send out missionaries to make children of God, but if the Lord sends them, as He sent a preacher to Cornelius, and to Saul of Tarsus, some poor child of God will be comforted by the preacher, but none made by him. "The preparation of the heart in man, together with the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord." It is the preacher's business to "comfort ye, comfort ye, my people," but hot to save their souls. Your preaching is not comforting to a little weeping Mary or a trembling jailor, (children of God already) but rather a burden added to such, and it encourages men, wicked natural men, to continue on in their wickedness, which they love, because it suits their nature, and you tell them it is all up to them; that they can be saved when they will—any time they decide to accept a wooing and beseeching Christ and hit the trail. It is the nature of man to do evil and that continually. So when one believes your Arminian doctrine he is prone to put off till tomorrow what should be done today, if your doctrine be true, or if it could be true.
The natural man, being satisfied as and where he is, his attitude toward your preaching is most likely to be:
"Yes, I agree with you but I like this fine just now, so I will seek the salvation of my soul tomorrow, or next week, next year, or some future time before I die." I wonder, preacher, why is it that the natural, unsaved man receives and believes or thinks, the doctrine you preach to him? Want me to answer? Well, it is because that you preach is not of the Spirit of God. Why, the bare fact that he receives your preaching or doctrine fastens the proof on you without another word, that your doctrine is not of the Spirit of God.
Just read Romans and Corinthians and see by the letter, if you have not the Spirit. The Bible reason why the natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit, is because they are spiritually discerned. That you-can-when-you-get-ready preaching is no more than soothing syrup to a man in love with sin. It seems to me that if a dead man could be awakened and alarmed by preaching till he would get a move on, it would be much more effective if you tell him the truth ; that he is dead in trespasses and sins, lost and ruined without hope, and without God in the world, and no power short of. an Almighty God can reach him ifi his undone condition. Which would be most alarming to you if you heard and believed it? If you were going to be scared to heaven, which would take you the fastest? I have heard many preachers try to scare sinners into the church and into heaven by telling tales that would really frighten a nervous person. "Oh, what a frightful monster the devil is, and such a yawning, burning hell!" Who called them to preach the devil and a burning hell? God did not. We can have plenty of that without any preaching. The thought has sometimes occurred to me that if some people go to heaven at all they will go all the way backward. Just backing off because they are afraid of the devil, not because they love God. Have you noticed that some people "worship" God only because they are afraid of the devil? Seems that way to at least one ignoramus.
No, I guess you misunderstood the "Hardshells." They do not exactly "tell us" that it is entirely wrong to preach to the unconverted; any way, directly or indirectly. They believe it right to preach the truth to everybody, and they preach it. But they do not drop their gospel net or hook into the sea of people expecting to make any fishes, nor to give life to dead ones ; neither do they expect any but live fish to nibble at and swallow their bait, or get into their net. And as ignorant and unlearned, and as "destitute of an opportunity to save their souls" as they are, you never yet heard one of them tell a dead fish that if he would only swallow the bait or get into the net he would then become a live fish. No, thanks. You will have to hear some D. D. or his deluded follower to hear that sort of "gospel."
Sure, the elect must be saved. That is what God's Bible teaches, and that is what the dear Saviour came and died for, and "None is able to pluck them out of His Father's hand." So what can "Reverend" Beckham do to prevent it, howevermuch he might desire to? Truly there is no power to prevent it, no power to "add to nor take from that number determined and fixed upon before the foundation of the universe," etc. The rest of that sentence of yours is only some more of your "homespun ;" for Primitive Baptists do not say anything is impossible with God (except to lie as some men and preachers do) but as He says of Himself, "What He does is done forever." He does not change with the moon or the wind as poor . weak mortal sinners like you and I do. And God's church and people, the "Hardshells" being related to Him as they are, makes them rather fixed and unchangeable, too, when it comes to knowing, believing and loving His gospel Bible truth. Had some experience with them, haven't you, Doctor?
You further slur, "It is utterly futile and vain, therefore sinful, for puny man to presume to try to do the work you told us about—if they drink all they find behind old graveyards and in other out-of-the-way places while on their way to the church ! I wonder too, why they travel such a circuitous route to go to the "meetin'-house." Could they be searching for the "spirits" to revive their drooping spirits so they can the better proclaim the "gospel" to those densely ignorant mountaineers and give them a better opportunity to save their souls? And your informant had been going to hear "that faith" preached for thirty years or more and had never heard them say one word against the liquor traffic nor anything else that was wrong. Do you believe he told the truth? No, I'm sure you don't believe it if you know anything about them, yourself. "But that their preaching consisted entirely in telling the people of what God would or would not do for them." There now! They have it on you again. Can't they beat any people you ever heard of when it comes to following the Saviour's instructions? Don't you wish you could just imitate them one little bit? They preach Christ and Him crucified. They tell the people what God has done for them. It seems to be foolishness to you. Now, in whose favor is the evidence, taking the Bible for a guide. If you won't have that, do you preach man and the great things you have done for God? That is all there is left for you to tell. How long will it take you to tell it? I just recently heard why your sermons are so short, and why Old Baptists never get through. You tell what you have done for God, and it is so little you are so soon through ; but Old Baptists try to tell what God has done for them and it is so much they can never get through.
Now, parson, let me suggest that you take a fool's advice and before you undertake again to tell what those "Hardshells" believe and preach go and hear them for yourself, and if you have eyes to see and ears to hear you will see the grandest, most Christ-like people that walk this earth and hear the gospel in its purity, the sweetest of all music. You can not hire one of them to preach it, nor you can't hire them to quit. If you don't believe me, just try to hire one of them to help you run a two weeks soul-saving campaign. If you will investigate you will find them far above the average in morals and the most zealous of good works of any or all people ; but they are not expecting their good works to get them to heaven. According to your doctrine, your people think their good works are essential to their eternal salvation, yet they are not as careful to observe and do good works as Old Baptists are.
And you once subscribed to a paper published by these people. Well, I am surprised that an apt scholar did not learn more about them in that length of time. But it seems you did not read anything but the dreams "written usually by old ladies." Were you hunting for something to mix with your ghost tales and graveyard anecdotes in your summer soul-saving campaigns? You say, "They attach great importance to dreams." They have read their Bibles,while most like you haven't—much. Suppose you try reading it some and see if you can find any rather important dreams recorded therein.
You say they don't allow young people to join the church. That is some more of your hearay or guesswork—or was it something else? They are glad to have any of any age if they bring fruit, meet for repentance as required by the first Primitive Baptist pracher we read of and sanctioned by his and our Saviour on the banks of Jordan of old. I have seen them receive children as young as nine years and have been most reliably informed of their being received much younger than that. Yes, they gladly receive God's little children into the church and have been doing so for centuries before a Methodist was ever heard of.
You say this doctrine has paralyzed both the spiritual and moral powers of the people in that country where you are. And I know some people down in this end of the Zone of Ignorance whose spiritual and moral powers are paralyzed, but most all of them belong to Sunday School and many of them to the Methodist Church. If the multitude there is out of the church as you say, and will not listen when you beg them to have mercy on themselves, how are you going to get them to accept Christ and be saved? No, the "Hardshell" faith does not teach people to simply follow their own desires and go pell-mell to hell. But it does teach them to be moral, upright men and women. If any doctrine sends men pell-mell to hell, it surely must be your Arminianism, for if you preach the truth no human being of Adam's race will be saved for no mortal man can act in order to live. With man it is impossible. If not so, and men are saved by obeying the law, or by their works, where does Jesus come in? Did He die in vain? He did if your doctrine is true. But I am glad for your sake, as well as mine and all others, that it is not true. Jesus saves, and besides Him there is no Saviour.
But I am glad to see you have to commend the Primitive Baptists for one thing in the closing of your article, which is HOSPITALITY. They are noted for that, but they do sometimes buck when it comes to being drained by the daughters of the horse-leech. You might look that up away back in the old Book. Prov.
There is much more that I had 'a mind to tell you, but this is growing too lengthy and besides, I am a bit ignorant and unable to tell you all you need to know. But, doctor, do be cautious and careful how you make your charges against the "Hardshells." They are not all as big fools as I am. Most all of them know wonderful things that you don't seem to know. Some of them might see your charges and ask you questions you could not answer, and they might ask you to prove something. I don't think you really meant for them to see your article in the Methodist paper anyway, so you just told your brethren what you wanted them to know or think, and that is the kind of diet they seem to relish and like to pay for. And the PAY goes a long way with some preachers and doctors—or it seems so to me—and my name is
S. E. COPELAND.
TO MY CHILDREN:
Written in 1919.
The thought sometimes comes forcibly to mind that I may soon be called away from this world which at best is only a mixture of joy and sorrow, to the great unknown beyond. And for weeks and months I have felt strongly impressed to write something in the way of suggestions and advice to leave among my books and papers for my children to find and read after I am gone. Whether this is a foolish notion or whim of my own brain, or whether it came from a higher source I don't know. If it is only one of my whims I beg forbearance from any who may read it, but if it is of the Lord I have no apology to offer.
My Dear Children: It is my desire to write in my own imperfect way some things I want you to read, keep in mind, observe and do in after years, perhaps many years after I am gone. Some things I may write you don't understahd now, but my hope and prayer to God is that if according to His will He may some day give each of you an understanding heart. I sometimes feel forsaken and friendless. I know that I am a great sinner, often feel to be the very chief of sinners, and that I have done wickedly, though I have all along been credited with being a moral boy and man. Have felt that I deserve to be forsaken by the Lord and His people but I hope I do desire to live honorably and uprightly before men, and try to live peaceably with all men. If I am so fortunate as to be one of the Lord's little ones that He died to redeem He has promised to never leave nor utterly forsake me. I want to be consoled with that sweet thought. Oh, if I can but have grace to trust in Him and be reconciled to His will when I come to die, which must be sooner or later. If it can be His will I want to die peacefully, in my right mind surrounded by His people, the people I love, and I want them to lay me away to await the resurrection morn, then to be raised and made like Him, and to be one of that great multitude which no man can number. But when I think of leaving this world I also think of my children and wonder what would become of them if I were called to die, for the most helpless creature I can think of is a little child.
This is a fast age. Poor depraved human beings! The depths to which they have sunk in sin (both men and women) is awful to think about. Remember always that your character is your pearl of greatest price morally speaking. Cultivate modesty! God has given you that for your protection against the seductive wiles of men and devils, so by all means guard and cherish it. Be modest in both manner and dress. One of the greatest evils of this day and age is the silly sin of fashion and style. A half dressed girl or woman is a temptation to men and boys who are low and vulgar minded, and utterly disgusting to high-toned gentlemen.
Another great evil which I fear is a trap or pitfall for young girls is the soft drink habit. I was told by one of our foremost practicing physicians that without a doubt thousands of girls are drugged and ruined by boys and young men at the soda founts. I have no personal knowledge of this but I don't doubt it being the truth. Many boys and men will not do to trust too far. It is a fact that many, very many make a practice of leading, and trying to lead, poor innocent girls astray, and seem to take a fiendish delight in it. They will lie and make false promises to the poor girl until she is ruined for all time, and then leave her to her awful fate, while they themselves go free, and often get by in respectable society. Don't afford them any occasion for making ugly remarks about you. Some are so depraved morally as well asspiritually that they make a practice of that anyhow. And don't forget that the devil is often hid beneath a smile. As you grow older study to keep yourselves in a girl's or a lady's place at all times. Look about you and you can see that many girls and women are ehtirely too fast in this fast age. They seem to be trying to get ahead of their Maker. They are trying to do any and everything on God's green earth besides what He made them for to do.
He said it was not good for the man to be alone, so He made woman for a helpmeet, a co-worker, a wife, and a good woman is the greatest natural blessing God has bestowed on man, and she is the crowning work of His creation. But the woman has the same human nature as the man, and like the men they have not all kept themselves in the sphere God made them to fill. They are not all keepers at home as the Bible directs, not living in obedience to their own husbands, bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but rather trying to rule the man and everybody else in both "Church" and state. Of course no sweet good woman will do that way, but she will be found minding the business of her own house, striving to please God and her own husband, by helping faithfully to bring their family up in the way they should go, not disgracing herself and her noble calling by dabbling with politics and many other things too low even for men to do. Some in "High Society" think more of a worthless poodle dog than they do of a baby or the commands of their Creator. They have no time to raise a family and refuse to do so regardless of God's commands or any law of nature. Any honest physician can tell you that fanticide and infanticide are some of the great sins of this nation, and that the extent to which it is practiced is alarming indeed. Some women will violate the laws of nature and those of God and man (and their men sometimes party to the crime) that they may be "free" to have a "good time" and be into everything that is unbecomin to their sex. I am giving just a few hints at some of the immoral practices of this "enlightened" land where it seems immorality of every description is increasing by leaps and bounds. It is not necessary for you to understand all now. You will understand what I am saying soon enough. A volume could be written on this subject but I suppose this will suffice here and now. But I shudder to think how the people of this and other nations will surely be visited by the righteous indignation of a sin avenging God for these very crimes.
Besides being immoral, modern half-dressing (some- times less than half) is injurious to the health of girls and women. Haven't you seen them with waists like a wasp after they had deformed themselves by tight lacing, having forced the internal organs of the body out of place? And thousands hobbly about like a chicken with its toes frozen off, in shoes about two numbers smaller than their feet, with stilted heels they can hardly stand upon without spraining an ahkle. Which is better, to dress neatly and comfortably regardless of fashion or to torture yourselves into ill health for the sake of it? Just ask your good common sense that question. I know that good, nice, sweet little girls, neatly dressed are the prettiest sight in all nature, and love them as the flowers of God's whole creation, but I don' want mine to go crazy about dress and forget things of More importance.
Now, coming to things religious I would be very particular to teach you the truth. I have no desire to try to teach you to know the Lord. That is His work and He forbids me trying to do it. Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10. I learned long ago, before either of you were born into this world that that is beyond my power. But that is the blessing I have all along most earnestly desired the good Lord to bestow upon you. While you were sweet little babies I sometimes fell across the bed over you or heldyou on my knees and tried to breathe a little prayer to God that you might be so blest of Him that you could some day be with Him in heaven. No living human being ever knew this but me, though sometimes others were present in the room. And I have even tried before you were born to earnestly desire the Lord to give me dear children whom He would be pleased some day to own and bless as His own by regeneration and birth of His Spirit, thus fitting you for a blissful eternity with Him in glory. These have been my prayers, if prayers they are, during the years, though this is my first time to tell it to anyone—not even your mother.
I would not have you think, as some teach and preach, that during infancy and early childhood you are sinless and not sinners. While I feel to know that all little children who die in infancy are blessed of the Lord and carried home to heaven where their little tongues praise God forever more, I feel just as sure that none were ever born into this world pure and sinless, except the little baby Jesus. When the Lord created and made man of the dust of the ground He pronounced him very good. He put him in the garden of Eden to dress and keep it, and gave him a law telling him what he might do and what he should not do, and also warned him that in the day he disobeyed he should surely die. He was not free to do as he pleased to choose between right and wrong, God and the devil, but he must do as God commanded or suffer the consequences. And I feel sure that he could have kept the law, for God is too wise and too good to require His creatures to do something that they cannot do, and then punish them for not doing it. That is worse than I would treat my children, as mean as I am. But the man chose to disobey God's command and died, not a natural or corporeal death that same day but a death in trespasses and sin. That was before there were any babies or little children like mine.
So the father and mother both being sinners, dead in sin, fallen under the curse of God's holy law, separated from God, by nature totally depraved, their children are bound to be like them, else they have not the nature of their father and mother. But that which is born of the flesh has the same nature as the fleshly beings that produced it, hence little babies are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity as plainly taught in God's Word—Ps 51:5. That was the case with one who was a man after God's own heart, and surely none others are better than he was. I have always thought I had as good children as can be found in this world, but I have never believed you were sinless. From the very beginning of your existence you have had daddy's nature and are, therefore, sinners by nature for daddy is a very great sinner.
While in your natural unregenerate state you cannot please God by doing any good work in His kingdom or in order to get into it, for, until you are born again you cannot even see His kingdom nor receive nor know the things of His Spirit. Read Joh 3; Ro 8 and 1Co 2. Neither can any other man, woman or child help you to know these things, but God can teach you. There is One mighty and able to save all that the Father gave Him. God knew in eternity before the foundation of this world, just what man would do, how he would bring sin and death upon himself, so in His great plan and purpose He prepared this remedy or cure for sin, this Saviour of men, in the person of that one sinless babe I have already mentioned. He was and is the Son of God born of a woman, the greatest event of all time, and a mystery that cannot be solved by all mankind. He was both God and man. He was human as we are, sin excepted. He became us to render that perfect obedience that we owed to God but could not render. He is the one only mediator between God and man. Man, by his own evil deeds had brought ruin and death upon himself. Now don't you ever conclude, as I used to think of myself, that you would have done better than Adam and Eve did. We are all nothing more nor better than Adam multiplied. We are all sinners by nature. It matters not about our age nor size. We are only young sinners or older sinners, little sinners or larger sinners.
If not so, then a small pig is not a hog, nor a little snake is not a snake. So babies and older people, being only sinners of different ages, that that will save one will save the other, and whatever it takes to save one will save the other, and whatever it takes to save one will be required for the other also. When the fullness of time had come Jesus was born into this world the Saviour of sinners. The angel of the Lord said of Him before He came that "He shall save His people from their sins." He did not say that He would try to save them nor that He would save them if they would be willing and accept Him. No conditions in it. Nothing said about anything to be done by them for they were dead in sin and had to be first quickened or born again. His people are those the Father gave Him, those the Father "chose in Him before the world began. (Eph.) They are that great multitude John in Revelations saw, which no man could number. He has redeemed them by His blood out of very nation, kindred, tongue and people, but not all of every nation. Read and study the Bible, see and learn. Any poor helpless sinner, to be saved, must be born again as the Lord told Nicodemus. None of us had anything to do with bringing about our natural birth, neither do we have to get willing to be a child, but we must be a child before we can have any will. We don't have to accept Christ, as the false teachers say, in order to be born, but we must be born of our spiritul parent before we can accept Him or have any will or inclination toward Him.
"Ye must be born again," is the first thing in order, and that is alone the work of God, and after that is done it is too late for us to do anything in order to cause it to be done. It would be foolish to argue otherwise. As the wind blows where and when it pleases, as far as we are concerned, even so the Spirit of the Lord works where He will. I know not when He may operate on my children, but it woud be joy to my soul to know that He visited you in the free pardon of your sins. I know that you and we all are by nature the children of wrath, even as others, for "by one man sin came into the world and death by sin, so death has passed upon all men, for all have sinned." Why do all men die? It is because of sin. Why do babies and little children die? For the very same reason that older people die. I believe that every baby that dies in infancy is safely housed in heaven, not because of infantile purity but because Jesus died for them, blessed them, making them new creatures in Christ by regeneration just as He does for adults. It is not because they are good little children and belong to Sunday School (a thing foreign to the Bible) and give their pennies to help send the "gospel" to the heathen, attend church, say their prayers, and a conglomeration of other things false teachers will tell you if you go about them much. But don't misunderstand daddy. He does not mean to teach you that it is wrong to attend church, the right church, the Lord's church, the Primitive Baptist Church.
Neither do I mean to teach you that it is wrong for anyone, child or grown person, to pray if he feels in his poor heart the need of it. False teachers will tell you that you must pray and pray to God or He will never save you in heaven; that you must pray in order to be His children. I will not teach you to so mock God. The truth is one must be His child by the new birth before he can pray to Him. And when He shows you what you are by nature and what you must be by grace, then the whole combined world could not keep you from praying to Him for mercy. The very breathing of your troubled soul will be prayerto Him whether you utter an audible sound or your lips move or not. Nor do I think there is anyone who believes more in going to church than your daddy does, but he never thinks of gaining eternal heaven by it. He goes for the joy, peace and pleasures he gets out of it while he journeys through this vain world of troubles, because it is a heaven here, a resting place for the weary. That is what the good Lord founded and built it for. It is not a vehicle nor a means for getting people from earth to the glory world. But in meeting and serving with His people we sometimes have glorious seasons here while serving Him and one another. But remember everything called church is not the church of God. His church is but one. She is the only one of her mother, the wisdom of God. She is the choice one of her that bear her. Songs of Sol. 6: 9. She has existed during all of these centuries against the will of, or in spite of her enemies, to-wit: all of the institutions of men, called churches and aids to church—Sunday Schools, Aid Societies and all other institutions invented by men. Her maker and builder is God and He will continue to uphold her while time lasts. She has been called by various names, often used in derision by her enemies as she is at present called "Hardshell" by them—but I do not object so much to that name. Her name, however, is Primitive or Old School Baptist, and she has stood the storms of the ages from the time when Jesus was baptized by John, the first (meaning primitive) Baptist preacher, in the River Jordan. "Old School" is to distinguish between her and the New School or Missionaries who introduced new things, foreign to the Bible, into the Baptist Church a little over a hundred years ago and were expelled for it, but continued to claim, illegally, the name "Baptist" for themselves, to take away their reproach. See their picture in Isa 4:1, and don't forget in the years to come when you may have a desire to unite with the Lord's church, whether daddy be living or dead, remember his advice and the name given above. Read and study the Bible and seek to know the truth.
Don't be deceived and caught in the spider webs of the institutions of men. As already said, I would not try to make children of God of my children, but with sufficient evidence of their acceptance with Him I would do all in my power to show them His church, and try to encourage them to seek admittance into it. And I would do my best to warn them against entering the broad way that leads to destruction of their peace and happiness here when the little children of God enter one of the many wide gates (they will take in anything, children of God, dead aliens, etc.) called churches, or "branches of the Church." Yes, let me repeat, they are so wide and broad that thy will admit any kind of a mottley crowd—clean and unclean. all together for the sake of numbers, fame and money. And they dare not try to refute the charge. The proof is too evident. If you will just look around you can easily see that their building material are children who know little, and care less, about what and where the true church is, and of men and women who are seeking popularity more than God and His righteousness. Their leaders will work all sorts of schemes and set all kinds of traps—propositions, etc.—trying to catch you. The Lord is not the builder of their houses, so they have to work and scheme to keep the thing up and to keep their salaries coming. "Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it." Ps 127:1. They get awfully anxious about your soul's salvation about once in the year, usually in the summer time, but if they have ever once in their lives been anxious about their own they don't prove it by the sure sign of humility. If you had no evidence more than some articles they write or some "sermons" they preach you would hardly know God exists at all. They talk so much about the good they have done and are doing, trying to save you and others, but the Lord is not in it. Most of their talk is about what they have done, and a little about what the Lord wants to do, and will do if you let Him. Their system is works continually to get saved, and works without end to stay saved. The Lord's church is a resting place, but theirs is a workshop. There is the difference, can't you see it?
But suppose for one moment that salvation is based on works. The natural man, the sinner, cannot please God by his works. Will He save him for displeasing Him? They will answer no, but get them to untangle the hank for you. The poor sinner must work if he is ever saved, but he cannot please God by his works, and God will not save him for displeasing Him, so where is the poor sinner? Seems to me his case is hopeless beyond description if their doctrine is the truth. But it is not. Yet thy will, and have often accused Primitive Baptist of preaching hard doctrine. They, themselves, are preaching the hard doctrine, the impossible doctrine, and I have proved it on them. If their doctrine were true no human being could ever be saved and heaven would be blank or a vacant place. But God's doctrine being true, salvation is sure to all of His people. So if you are concerned about the matter seek the good way. The soul that is truly born of God delights to run the heavenly road.
He flies from works to Jesus' blood, yet proves by works he's born of God ; He runs with joy in Zion's ways and to his God, behold, he prays. Pray God to direct you in His straight and narrow way that leads to life, a life of peace and ease of mind.
Arminians are any and all who reject the Bible doctrine of election, predestination and the final perseverance of the saints or children of God, or in my words: Arminians are religious people who do not believe the Bible, the written word of God. They will tell you that the alien or dead sinner must hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent. and obey the gospel, and be baptized before he can be saved or in order to get eternal life. That is a lot of work for a dead person to have to do before he can live, is it not? (Read Romans third and fifth chapters.) If their doctrine were true no human being could ever be saved, for it is contrary to all laws and all reason to require a dead man to do anything in order to live. They will tell you the sinner gets where he is by hearing a lie, believing it, and obeying a lie. Now, all he has to do to be saved is to hear the truth, believe the truth, and obey the truth. Now, what kind of life did he have before he heard, believed and obeyed a lie? Was it eternal life? To be saved in this sense means eternal or everlasting life. So we see that the life he lost was not eternal, for it ended—he died. Where is he now ? When he died this death in sin, did he lose the life he had before he died? If it had been eternal life could he have lost it? Webster tells us eternal means everlasting, continuing without intermission, endless. So if he had eternal life Webster was wrong in his definition of the word, or God was wrong when He said the man should die. I believe both are right. God told the truth when He said the man should die in the day he disobeyed, and he died. Also Webster told the truth when he said eternal life is everlasting or endless life. The man did not have eternal life before he heard, believed, and obeyed a lie. If he did, then there was at least a short intermission or it ended for a time, and language has no meaning according to my understanding.
Now try it out. Man heard a lie, believed a lie, obeyed a lie and fell dead under the curse of God's righteous law, lost the life he had! He is dead now. So, if it were possible for him now to hear the truth, believe the truth and obey the truth, and thereby get back the life he lost, would he have eternal life—be saved in Heaven? No. Because, he did not have eternal life to begin with. He would only land back to where he fell from. Their language is confused and condemns them. It started in the long ago when they began to build a tower to heaven. Ge 11. Instead of eternal life, Arminians make it intermittent life by their way of teaching, and you never know when the current is on or off. But if it were true that dead sinners must hear, believe and obey the gospel to be saved, they would still be out of a job, for they do not preach the gospel. is the gospel a thing of the spirit of God? Of course they will answer: Yes. Then you just remind them tnat Jesus says dead' sinners can not hear it and His Apostle Paul tells us they cannot receive it nor know it. Thus it is proved by two of God's witnesses that they cannot do what the preacher tells us they must do before tney can be saved in heaven. What ignorant, benighted preachers! The gospel is good news. The stuff they preach is no news at all. Not even logic nor common sense. And even the pure gospel preached by the Lord's called and qualified preachers could not reach dead sinners. Jesus alone can save sinners, and after He saves them, then His preachers are to feed them. As He told Peter, "Feed my sheep and lambs." Not to make them such, but because they are. Can a man do a thing that he cannot do? The evidence is all against such preachers. They are not of God. The world hears them and believes them, which proves that they are of the world, for the world loves its own. The worldly man believes just what the worldly preacher believes. So I would ask, who is most in need of conversion, the "unsaved" or the preacher? Where is the difference in their "converts" before and after "conversion." Only this that I can see with most all of them: Before their "conversion" they openly practiced sin and wickedness, with no pretense to being a child of God or religious ; but after "conversion" they put on faces about a "foot" long and try to make a great show' of how they love God and His ways, while in reality they don't care a whit more about Him than they did before. Are they any better now than before the unclean spirit went out of them? No, not as good. In worse state. Mt 12:43.
They just take what the worldly preachers say for granted and never investigate to see if they tell the truth or not, and that is just what most all of such preachers want them to do. They can hold their jobs longer at a higher price. One good old brother said to me, "This world is just sloshing around loose." They are led captive by the devil at his will. That is Bible testimony. They seem to relish this Sam Jones-Billy Sunday takethe-world-for-Christ-in-this-generation slop, so let them have it. They will tell you that Jesus has done all He can till you do something ; that He is knocking at the door of your heart, begging and pleading for admittance ; that He is ready and willing and wanting to save you but you won't let Him in. The Bible tells us He made heaven and earth and everything that was made, and that He has all power in both heaven and earth. See Genesis, Matthew, Mark, John and other Scriptures. This being true He has the power to reach my children when He will. So which will you believe, God's word or the hireling preacher's? The Bible tells us that He does His will in both heaven and earth, and this is His will, that of all His people, all the Father gave Him, He should lose nothing. If he fails, has His Father's will been done? Can He fail, having as He does all power in both heaven and earth? Is any man or men able to stay His hand or hinder Him? The Bible says none. Somehow I don't feel uneasy about that being done to Him. I don't believe that even a great big "Reverend D. D.," the kind that knows so much yet so little, could hinder Him.
To be a child of God one must be regenerated and born again, created in Christ, born His child. Will your good common sense allow you to conceive such an idea that the thing created, generated, regenerated and born can create, generate or regenerate itself by hearing, believing, repenting and obeying its creator before it was created, generated or regenerated in order to be created, generated, regenerated or born of its creator? That is modern false teacher stuff. If he tells the truth the sinner must create himself in Christ—must make a child of God of himself ! And that makes the child of God his own creator. So he must hear himself, believe himself, and obey himself before he exists in order to exist! That looks like Arminianism gone to seed, maturing a full crop of chaff and then blown hither and yon to oblivion. That is the substance, or the lack of substance, of the Arminian doctrine. Don't be deceived by its advocates or teachers.
It does seem to me like any man, even a "Doctor of Divinity," as little as they know about God's ways and doctrine, ought to know better. How disgusting, and how utterly dishonoring to our great Creator is such doctrine of men! No wonder they cause some to be infidels ! Some honest men try out their false theories and find no God in them, because the preacher has Him down so small thy cannot see Him, so they just turn "infidel" and say there is no God. I know personally a case or two of that kind. If I had the job of eradicating heathenism from the earth I would begin by digging up the false teachers first—the kind that call on dead sinners to "accept Christ ;" "give your heart to God ;" and let Him save you." You will meet the gentlemen (and lady) Pharisees and hear them tell about how they have worked and are working for God, and how they are burdened with lost souls, and how anxious they are for their salvation. "Give us the money and we will take the world for Christ in this generation." That is what some are saying right now in this good year of 1919. Yes, their anxiety shines like new money, and it is just about as deep and thick as a crisp, new paper bill. Shun these false ways and false teachers. Don't be captivated by them. These are some of the things I want you to keep in mind and do as you journey through life. It will not take you to heaven, but your reward will be a quiet and peaceful life here. As the Lord said to ancient Israel, it will enable you to enjoy the fat of the land in a natural sense—enjoy the milk and honey here.
I have written these lines hoping "To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart ; neither let her take thee with her eyelids." See Pr 6:24-25. The strange woman is the false churches all over this earth. The Saviour describes them in Mt 23:27-28 (or all the chapter). "My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are movable, that thou canst not know them. (How wonderfully true is this of the false churches and theories.) Hear me now therefore, 0 ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house," etc. Pr 5. Read it all, the whole Book. Read the ten commandments in Ex 20.
You will do well to memorize them and then obey them. Doing this will not take you to eternal heaven nor make you God's children. They were not given for that purpose. They were given to govern national Israel, God's chosen nation, here in time and it is right for all of us, everybody, to live morally upright as they teach that our days may be long and peaceable in the land. By strict obedience to them we can save ourselves from many timely evils. We can have peace as law-abiding citizens of the country in which we dwell, enjoying its blessings. We can escape the penalties of the laws of the land. We can lie down in peaceful homes without fear of the Sheriff or the jail houses or penitentiaries. And I feel sure that it will help keep wicked men from troubling us, for the Bible says, "When a man's ways please the Lord He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." Pr 16:7. I think this will apply and also has its reward both in the moral life and in the spiritual. Hence it is our duty to live strictly moral as natural men and women, and then when God gives us the new birth we should follow the promptings of His Holy Spirit just as strictly. And both rewards are timely. Eternal salvation is all of grace.
REPLY TO MY BROTHER
I have thought many times that I would answer the letter you wrote me after you read my first piece in the paper. But I want to say right here that I wish you could have been with me last Sunday and four days following. I heard some of the grandest preaching each of the five days that any mortal ever heard, I do believe. Elder J. S. Newman of Texas is on a tour and came through our association. We have had other mighty good meetings this summer and fall. Don’t understand me to mean that we have been having protracted meetings. I heard five days preaching, or rather, I heard preaching five days at five separate churches. They don’t preach all day, but sometimes I almost wish they would. Mag Kate and Julia Culbreath joined at Brown’s Creek in September. Julia related the prettiest experience I ever heard. Mag Kate had the same good news to tell but did not talk as long and expressed it in different words, or in a different form of words. I may mention this again. You say that you believe absolutely that my experience as published in THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST is genuine ; that I am enjoying that blessed relation to God known as newness of life, and exclaim, “God be praised for such evidence!” Then you proceed to say that, in your opinion, what I said about “other branches of the church” is useless, that in your mind there is no question but that I “narrow the matter of church, or better, the matter of church too much.” But you did not attempt to prove your position by the Bible. I am sure I can prove mine, as ignorant and green as I am in the proving business. The Lord plainly teaches in His word and our experiences that His love, His dove, His undefiled (His church, His bride) is but one. She is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her, and she is coming up out of the wildernes leaning on her beloved; she has one Lord, one faith and one baptism—no sprinkling or pouring. The Lord does the sprinkling and pouring. He pours’ out His Spirit on His people, it drops as the rain drop and as the gentle dew on the tender herb. You may say it rains alike on the dead herb and dead grass same as that that has life. True, but what does it do for the dead grass? It proves it is dead. It will rot faster. The more rain the faster it will decay. But let the God of all grace see fit to give it life then what does the rain do for it? It causes it to grow and flourish. Note how dependent this virtuous woman (the church) is on her husband (Christ) for sustenance. Then I guess you have read of one Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. Also you have probably read of seven women that should lay hold on one man (Christ) and say, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by the name to take away our reproach.” These don’t seem to care so very much whether they ever have an husband to depend upon for a living ; just let them be called Christans to take away their reproach. All of the ites and isms, all of the little and big men-made societies of the day and time tack on “religion” and “Christian;” I am sure it is often done to hide their real purpose and aim—to take away theirreproach. They live on their own works, men and money (their own bread) and strut about dressed in their own self-righteousness—a very flimsy apparel—honoring the Lord very loudly with their mouths but their hearts are far from Him. Please don’t get offended at me for writing the truth as I feel it deep down in my poor heart. What could I gain by writing purposely to offend you or anyone else, or what could I gain by writing something I could not honestly feel and believe to be the truth?
Please tell me who is Mystery Babylon? And who are the harlots and abominations she is the mother of ? Can it be any other than Catholic Rome and her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters—all of the men-made so-called churches, their divisions and sub-divisions? And how can they be called branches of the real true church, branches of the true, virtuous, dependent woman? It seems to me that such a house would be kinder divided against itself and that such a church would have a few spots, wrinkles and such things. I think I have read in that Book of His where Christ’s church doesn’t have such things. Have you? It is a mystery to me how any man with your knowledge of history, your good common sense, and above all, your genuine Christian experience, can call them “branches of the church.” They all oppose the real true church. They say her doctrine is dangerous. They hate her, and you know they would kill a thing they consider dangerous if they could. The birds round about are against the speckled bird. Just compare what these “branches of the Church” each, with the teaching of THE CHURCH, THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST. Where is the harmony? Compare the teachings of these “branches” with your good God-given Christian experience. Where is the harmony? Not there as sure as you live. Now compare your experience with the teaching of the Primitive Baptists. There is perfect harmony, and with the Bible, it is the same. You say it was “in the stillness of the solitude” that the Lord revealed Himself to you—no man near to help. All the praise and glory to the great and precious Almighty Saviour of lost and ruined sinners! How sweetly that accords with the teachings of the Bible and the Old Baptists!
I often feel that if I could only be as sure that I am a child of God as I am that the Primitive Baptist is His church I would be oh! So happy! Now don’t understand me to say there are no children of God besides the Primitive Baptists. There are multiplied thousands of them outside, some in all of the “different branches of the church” you talk about. But the Lord commands all of His dear children such as you, who are unequally yoked together with all sorts of unbelievers to come out from among them, and be separate. Who is it that can’t get membership in any of these “branches” around us? Pharisees, Saducees and all get in. You don’t hear much about bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. They don’t seem to be very close kin to that good Old Baptist preacher I read about in Matthew. They seem more concerned about the quantity than the quality of their membership. You have heard them boast about their large numbers many times. While the Primitive Baptists are the proudest people on earth when a dear lamb comes into the fold, they will not take goats and all just for the sake of large numbers, money, nor fame. Then behold how they love each other ! They prove they are His disciples by their love one for another. Can as much be said for any of your “branches of the church?” Never! True! True there is some good wheat among all of that chaff, straw and dirt, but why not go where the chaff and dirt has all been fanned out and have all good wheat? I don’t think I could relish my wheat much if I had to eat so much chaff and dirt with it. You say you read THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST and find two experiences alike, and proceed to excuse or justify all of those different “branches” for existing. As good as tosay poor old Parson Hunter was right when he said in my hearing at old Center Point, that “God uses all of these different branches of the church to catch men of different opinions, just as a man going fishing uses different kinds of bait to catch different kinds of fishes.”
What a poor little puny god that would be! How he does have to work and tug and scheme to get great powerful man to let Him save him! Let’s take the different branches” by number one, two, three, etc., the alien dead sinners whom they are “converting” same way, by number one, two, three. “Branch” No. 1 preaches to please sinners No. 1 (has to if he holds his job) and sinner No. 1 believes his preaching, gives himself to his god, joins “branch” No. 1, is “buried” in baptism like the boy buried the dead goose (sprinkled dirt on its head) and preacher No. 1 says he is saved—if he holds out faithful to the end. Please tell me what that sinner is converted from, and to what? Is he any more a believer in Christ now than he was before? Isn’t his belief the same as before his conversion?” Likewise “branch” No. 2 or preacher No. 2 preaches to please sinner No. 2 (has to stimulate contributions), sinner No. 2 believes, joins “branch” No. 2, is immersed, and contributes dollars or pennies to the foreign mission fund to help his god save the “heathen,” or to “take the world for Christ in this generation!” Now wherein does either No. 1 or No. 2 differ from what they were before except the coat of whitewash? Their belief is the same as before they were “converted.” Some things remind me of a whited sepulcher full of dead men’s bones, anyhow. Preach No. 3 does not believe in a change of heart, neither does sinner No. 3. They are fearful they might get a dog’s heart or a hog’s heart (I heard them say so, or words to that effect) so they just “obey the gopel” and go on their way “rejoicing.” I guess their reason for not wanting any heartfelt religion is because there is nothing in feeling anyway and they are afraid they would not know it. Isn’t it a fine thing that there are so many varieties of preachers? If there were only one kind wouldn’t he have to be mighty flexible and pliant to be warped about to fit all of the different “branches of the church” and preach to please and catch men of different opinions? Now please don’t be offended at me. You are my own dear brother in two senses, I humbly hope, and I know I don’t want to offend you, nor anyone, but by and with the help of my God I want to write you the truth, and I feel deep down in my poor heart that what I have written is the truth, though poorly expressed.
Now back to those experiences which you read in THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST, no two of which are alike. Pray tell me why they are not very much alike in sentiment. Of course they are not all expressed in the very same form of words, but to whom do they each and everyone ascribe all the honor and praise for their salvation? Is it not all to Jesus alone? Have you read of a single one claiming it was for any good he or she had done? Don’t they all say, saved by grace if saved at all, or words to that effect? Each one expresses it in his own way, or words, but all attribute it to the same great Source of all good—all by the unmerited grace of God. Some can tell more of their feelings than others. Some can tell the exact day, and even the hour when their burden was removed while others can’t tell the year, much less the day and hour. Julia could tell all about it down to, or about the hour of the day, while Mag Kate was fearful that she had no change because she could not tell the year, or what period of her life it came about. You can tell the year and the exact 20th day of July that your burden was removed but I could not tell even the YEAR to save my life.
I know that for some years of my life I was badly bothered or burdened about something and I noticed in after years that burden was gone but it was so gradual I didn’t know when it went. You say the Lord is the Author of your salvation. I know he is the Author of mine, if indeed, I have any. So Julia’s, Mag’s, yours and my experiences, or salvation, must be all alike, being the same kind and by the same author. But the time ones burden is removed is not the time he is given eternal life. You had that life all the time you carrid that burden, otherwise you could not have realized that you were burdened, you could not have prayed to God for mercy and relief if you had not felt the need of it. You could not feel the need of spiritual relief without spiritual life. The natural man, the dead sinner knows nothing about the things of the spirit. He cannot receive them and cares nothing for them. He can’t please God while in that state or condition. That is plainly taught in a certain chapter in the Bible, which chapter I heard you read in one of their to-dos at old Center Point one night long ago—about the time you told a certain extremely religious lady that “anybody who reads the Bible is obliged to be a Hardshell.” Now, howl many of your “branches of the Church” preach and teach and practice the doctrine as taught in the chapter just mentioned? (Ro 8.) I believe you admit that the Primitive Baptist is one “branch” of the Church. I will whisper to you right here that she is the real article, not a branch but the thing itself, the whole thing, THE CHURCH, the true, virtuous woman, the bride of Christ, leaning and dependent on her beloved Saviour. She believes, preaches and practices the doctrine taught in that chapter (don’t guess you have forgotten where it is. It is still in the Bible) ; but all of your so-called “branches” preach another”gospel” which is not the gospel. They look a good deal like the afore mentioned seven women to me. They all eat the same sloppy bread, in substance, and wear the same cheese-cloth garments. They must be mighty sorry cooks and weavers, anyway. But maybe a woman without a husband bearing children—well, you can’t expect much of her anyway. But behold this goad woman I am telling you about! She eats good, sweet-bread, well seasoned; wears a costly dress, wrought with gold and needlework; always neat, clean, and never wears out! This is all furnished free by her dear loving Husband who is a most wonderful provider. Oh, how lovely she is ! She is the same fair damsel you read about in Ge 24. The Father has chosen her to be the bride of His Son to whom He has given aII that He has. He sends His Old Baptist preachers out to bring her the glad tidings of what has been done for her. When he tells her she confess that she has known no man in her salvation, it is all by the grace of God. She was not aware of it until after it was done. Then the preacher comes and tells her she is related to the Lord and he has sent for her. Now, wouldn’t that be glorious news to any poor sinsick soul? But your “branch” preaches don’t bring such glad tidings. They bind on heavy burdens, grievous to be borne. Their preaching is no comfort, no food, no consolation to the truly penitent, the poor mourning soul whose eyes the Lord has opened and enabled him to see his miserable condiction. He now feels deeply the need of help and without being told by any preacher the very breathings of his burdened soul is a prayer to God for mercy.. He would pray though all men tried to prevent it.
But your “branch” preachers “console” him by telling him that he must work, work, and pray or the devil will get him. He has already worked to the end of his strength, and prayed till all hope is gone. So, what on earth is such preaching but binding on heavier burdens? These are the ones the Lord has chosen and sent for. Old Baptists have no burdens to bind on them. They tell them what great things the Lord has done and is doing for them. They have none of the work to do. They have only to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will deliver the last one of them. He will reveal Himself to them all without a man to introduce Him. My brother, there is no doctrine on earth so grand as the Bible truth and the Old Baptists have it as sure as the world stands. I often think how wonderful it is that I, the weakest, most insignificant of all men, am permitted to be numbered among this grand and noble people who believe, preach and practice the identical same doctrine of God our Saviour. 0 ! wonder of wonders that He would notice me !
I would be so glad if you could only see the truth as I see it, if not woefully deceived; and never think again that those institutions of men which you call branches of the church “are ways by which we may reach that eternal Heaven” as you said in your letter. How many ways are there we may travel over to heaven anyway? Did Christ come down here and build a number of roads to heaven so if a man doesn’t like one he can have his choice ‘of many, then leave him to travel any or none as suits him? You say he is a free agent. If so, suppose he ‘doesn’t choose to travel any of these “heavenly” roads nor the one to the other place, how would the Lord manage him? A man told me about two hours ago that a man is more powerful than God in this matter of being saved or not saved. He said God could not save a man till he (man) gets his heart right and “allowed” God to save him. I have heard that from the pulpit of your “branch of the church,” too. Another thought. Suppose a man decides to go to heaven on all these roads—spreads himself and travels all at once. Would he be somewhat disfigured? Jesus says, “I am THE WAY”—not ways. It was said of Him before He came that “She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus for He SHALL SAVE His people from their sins.” The Old Baptists are the only people who believe the last shall in that verse. He said He came to do His Father’s will—that the Father’s will is, that “of all Thou hast given me I should lose nothing” and “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” So it seems that the children will all be born in the Lord’s own good time and way. The Old Baptists are well pleased with the plan but most all of your “branches” get uneasy every July or August for fear some won’t be born before it is “everlastingly and eternally” too late, so they set in to help the Lord out with His work, and they succeed just about like Sarah and Hagar did when they organized the first Ladies Aid Society.
That was the type all right, and the product of modern “Soul-saving” meeting is the same; nothing more than a mocking Ishmaelite. People do get so fearful that the Lord may forget His business or that He may not be able to attend to it. But some how they don’t hurry the little Isaacs on—not much. They try to purify the spring by cleaning out the branches. They can’t get to the sinner’s heart, but change him by painting and polishing the outside. Like the polluted spring with the branch cleaned out, he ‘proved by the first frost that he still has that same old wicked sinful heart. Do you ever think how it sounds to tell a child of wrath (we were all by nature the children of wrath even as others) that by obeying God’s law he can become a child of God? Could my children become your children by obeying your rules or laws? Suppose I should go to your children and tell them that if they will obey my laws, do everything I tell my children to do, they will become my children, and inherit my property. You would get busy and tell them better about this way : “Children, your Uncle Emmett has gone crazy. I think about the best thing we can do for him is to send him to a lunatic asylum.” You know you would.
Now I had no idea when I began of writing as I have, but it seems I could find no stopping place. I want you to consider these scattering remarks and see if I haven’t told the truth. I have tried to point out some of the differences between the Church, the Primitive Baptist, and those you call “branches of the church.” Notice how humble harmnless and sheeplike the one is, with head bowed downlike poor Publicans, “God be mericful to me a sinner,” while all the others (except some children of God among them) are exalted, goat-like, Pharisaical, boasting of their good works for the Lord. Can’t you see the company you are keeping. Don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Don’t think I mean any offense to anyone living by the way I have written. I have tried to be guided by the right spirit. If I have written anything good give the Lord the praise for I often feel that if left to myself I am nothing, worse than nothing, and my life a failure. I want to hear from you. I want to know what you think of this. You may think I have made bad matters worse in the narrowing business. But remember the Old Baptist platform is not so narrow as you heard it was. It is wide enough to hold every little child of God that ever has or ever will be born, while all others are too narrow to hold one—not even a baby. I believe you are a dear child of God, in Babylon—a deceived one. May the Lord show you where you are, if in accord with His will. Remember me in your prayers.
Poor and afflicted, Lord are Thine,
Among the great unfit to shine;
But tho the world may think it strange,
They would not with the world exchange.
Your unworthy brother,
S. E. COPELAND.
WHAT I THINK
TO ANOTHER BROTHER
Dear Brother—Mother told me you had joined the Methodists, and said you wanted to know what I thought about it. Do you ask the question because you are interested in knowing the truth and right, or is it just to see what an "old foggy" will say? As far as I answer, I shall write the true sentiment of my heart, feeling a deep interest in your well-fare. You may call it fogyism if you like; you will not hurt my feelings nor frustrate me in the least.
First, I will say that if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord by joining His church you might as well join John Wesley's as any other man's church. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve ; whether the gods which your fathers served that were in the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites (or Methodists, 'or other Arminians), in whose land ye dwell : but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." If you are going to serve a man and his home-made god or institution it makes absolutely no difference whether he lived in ancient or modern times. See Jos 24:15.
I used to think that you would probably go with Mr. Fuller's folks, because Mattie belonged to them ; but now I hear that she has joined the Methodists so as to be in the same "church" with you. If just any way. will do, why would not no way be better? They are both entirely too modern to be the church of God and their foundation too sandy. One of the youngsters is a daughter or granddaughter (as both bear the same name, commonly spoken ; which have you married, the girl or her mother? The M. E. or the M. E. South?) of old "Grandma" Rome ; and other, I hate to say, but as neither of you now belong to them, and as I have no ill will for any, I will write in diverse style a historical fact : About a hundred years ago while the church of God, the Primitive Baptist church, was asleep, or not looking, I will say, some men named Cary, Fuller and Company sowed some weed seeds (Arminianism) in the garden, the church. Then in a few years the church was awakened out of her slumber and sleep, saw what had been done, and they, knowing what weeds will do for a garden if allowed to grow, got busy with their disciplinary implements, dug them up and threw them over the fence, where they have since been known as New School or Missionary "Baptists". So you see they have a very "weedy" foundation, and that entirely on the outside of the garden, or church, in the world. And out there where they have been unmolested by the cultivating implement—truth—they have made a wonderful growth and have become a jungle in which many dear children of God are entangled.
They boast of their numbers (Missionaries, Methodists and all) and say, "Surely we are right or we would not gain so fast." But had you ever thought of it being a "mushroom or fungus" growth? Have you not noticed how fast it withers as the sunlight of truth is turned into it? It seems to me their "plants" do better or "grow" faster in the night time (darkness) than in daylight. Neither are they "evergreen" but often die with the first frost and have to be replanted again next summer. You know that we saw plenty of that in our boyhood days around the old home place. Their doctrine and practice cannot bear investigation in the light of Bible truth. So I don't know where you (your people) get your authority for boasting of your great numbers unless you get it out of the Bible. "I have chosen you because you are greatest in number of all people." See Revelations 33rd chapter. Look it up and see if it is not out of the Bible—a long way out. Then read the Bible and see what God said about it. "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people ; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you." De 7:7-8. Also, "Fear not, little flock; (not big flock) for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." See Lu 12:32. Who or what did those "few" represent? Were they not a type of His church? Sure they were. But if the Lord had been in for popularity and a big show like modern preachers, would He not have chosen some other nation or nations, any one of whom were more than Israel for numbers? Did He beg and plead with the other nations to be His people? Did He tell them that if they would accept Him and let Him save them that they would be His nation or "branches of His church?"
If you know anything about your Bible you know that He did not. Who in modern times is most like the type of God's church, national Israel? And who is most like Babylon and the men-made institutions and ites or nations of that age? You know, or you could, by just a little honest to goodness investigation easily learn. Who is the "speckled bird" we read about? And who are all the other birds round about who are against her? God said His heritage is like the speckled bird. All other birds (churches) are against her. Are all others against the Methodist bird? Or the Missionary bird, or any other institution of man? No. But every, single, solitary one of them will unite gainst the Primitive or "Hardshell" Baptist, the speckled bird, and do their best to kill her out. They all hate the doctrine she loves and preaches. It is the doctrine of God.
I realize that I am writing in the presence of the great God of the universe and can not afford to write a lie. You know they do as I have said. Here is a crowd on the corner or anywhere they might be. They represent all orders or worldly denominations. They are arguing, each man his belief or doctrine. The discussion has become heated and they almost resort to blows. Now, a Primitive Baptist, or despised old Hardshell, appears on the scene and puts in a word of God's Bible truth. They will all unite as one man against him. You have seen it happen and you know it is so. But one of them (the "Hardshells") can chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight, God being their Rock to own and bless. Deut. 32:30. The Hardshell is a little David, and when he comes with the armour or trust in God and the sword of truth he soon has the heads of the great Goliaths cut off with their own swords and they are ready to go. Theysuddenly remember that they had an engagement somewhere else down the road.
Say, do you know the way Webster defines that word "hardshell?" You know it is used in derision when applied to Old Baptists. Here it is copied from my unabridged dictionary: "Fixed; immovable as to belief or practice; uncompromising." Now is there anything bad in that? Who would not rather be an Old Baptist, fixed, well grounded in God's truth, as they are than to be a "wishy-washy" Arminian, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, anything and everything for money and popularity? I am not writing this to offend you, nor personally against you, nor anyone else ; but the system or false principles or institutions are not of God.
I saw a show twice, recently. They are running a take-the-town-for-Christ meeting here. The preacher, who is from Missouri, said that is what they are going to do. He is quite up-to-date, fresh from the factory, I presume. A little boy talked out in meeting, and the preacher, who is supposed to tell the truth, told him he would pin his ears back and swallow him whole. So I reckon if Christ gets the town the preacher will get the boy. Can you think of any creature that swallows live things whole as that preacher threatened to do the boy? How does he travel or go? What did he preach to our Grandma Eve? Was it not a flat contradiction of what God had told her? Who shall believe? Who preaches today what God did then, and who preaches today what the serpent did then? God said. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The devils aid, Thou shalt not surely die." Did they die? Are they dead in trespasses and sin until made alive, born again by the Holy Spirit and power of God? See Ro 3 and Joh 3. Whose doctrine are you preaching and believing today? Some people, the fewest of all people, afore-mentioned, believe and teach that they did die and are dead in sin, that they are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity, the very imaginations of their hearts are evil and that continually; totally depraved; no fear of God before their eyes as abundantly and plainly taught in the Scriptures. In this state of nature they receive not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can they know them. Read Paul to Romans.
Others, the big crowd, teach that they are not as dead as you heard they were, but they can or may be dead or lost after they arrive at the years of accountability. But they seem to be a bit confused (Babylon?) or uncertain as to just when they arrive at that age. They say it depends on the extent to which they are educated. If uneducated they get there in twelve years; but if educated their infantile purity lasts just half as long. They become accountable and lost after six years, unless they work, work, work for life and salvation. (I suppose they got that out of the Bible, too, for it is not in it. See if you can find it in the second chapter of Jude.) Poor, unfortunate children who have to submit to an education (in the Sunday School, I presume) and then die between six and twelve! If they die unrepented and unsaved, who is responsible for their being lost? Would not their parents and teachers be largely responsible? Johnny Sambo would naturally rather go free and play with Fido in dirt and ignorance than to be cooped up in school, and will do so if allowed his choice. Then if he dies between six and twelve years he goes straight to heaven, according to your doctrine. But instead of playing safe, you and the teachers together put him in school Sunday School against his will; and compel him to go and learn, and to get out of his ignorant safe or saved state. He dies between six and twelve, before he "accepts Christ and lets Him save him." Now wouldn't you and his teacher be "pretty birds" sitting up in heaven and poor little Johnny Sambo down yonder in that hot place that is preached so much by your preachers? How do you like your theory, anyhow? Yes, according to some preachers who are supposed to be sane, and to tell the truth, the babies in innocent, uneducated state know only good, practice only good, are not sinners, and if they die they are saved because of innocence. Now you tell me, what are they saved from? Where does Jesus come in as their Saviour? He came to save sinners, not sinless innocent people. But they tell us that education is such a grand thing, and many little darlings are not allowed to live in blissful ignorance. They are hustled off to school and Sunday School. Up to six years old they knew and practiced only good, being innocent, uneducated and pure. But now they know both good and evil.
What has been added by their education? EVIL! Is that a blessing or a curse, which? Are the children benefited religiously by that first six years in school and Sunday School, or are they thereby puhed off the road to heaven, and onto the road to hell? And the pushing is done by their own parents or guardians, and their teachers. Why, boy can't you see that your doctrine is too thin to stick, and too rotten to hold shucks or the lightest chaff ? Now, you know that these false principles and Sunday Schools; therefore, I don't want my children to attend them, and I feel it my duty to see that they do not attend them. And up to now they have never been in one. There are, I think, about two hundred children in our school, and I suppose nearly all except mine attend Sunday School. Many of them belong to your "different branches" of the church.
Mine belong to neither Sunday School or "branch" but the teachers have said that they are the best children in the school. I am telling you this not to boast, but for the sake of facts and truth. I am trying to show you why I can not approve of your joining the Methodists, nor any other "branch" which is no branch nor part of the church of God. If you are a child of God you are in the wrong pen. There is no sheep food in that pasture. It is dry and parched. No rest there for a weary pilgrim.
You can not lie down in green pastures beside the still waters, for they are not there. You must work, work, work for life if you do half they tell you. They bind on heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, especially in the little matter of financial assessments. Now haven't you heard the continual cry of the horse-leaches two daughters, "Give, give" and then give more? You might read Matthew 23rd chapter, and Pr 30:15. If you are a child of God and seeking a home, a resting place, you must follow Christ your Saviour to find it. And to follow Him you must go into His house—the Primitive Baptist Church—through the door, baptism, by a Primitive Baptist preacher, just like He did. It is a sure fact that He never was sprinkled into the Methodist order : First, because it had not then been invented ; and second, because sprinkling is not baptism, neither was it invented until the dark ages, and that in the dark continent of benighted Africa.
And that reminds me, can you see some sign of another dark age about now? We hear preachers say that God wants everybody saved, and we hear them plead with the "unsaved" to "let" Him save them. One said, "Give Him one honest chance to save you tonight." How I would shudder to think of using such blasphemous talk as that and make myself ridiculous before God and people of even ordinary intelligence. But that is one of the gods of the land whom you are permitted to choose between if you are not going to serve the Lord. The Scriptures nowhere command nor authorize you to choose between God and the devil. "Ye must be born again." Have you ever known of a child doing anything in order to be born of its parents? As we stand related to our first parents by our first birth, we are children of wrath even as others"—sinners by nature, dead to God and everything good above natural things.
In this state we can not please God in the way of doing any spiritual good works because the natural mancan not receive nor know them. See Romans and Corinthians. And to get out of this depraved state we must be born by a higher parentage into a higher realm or kingdom, and we have nothing whatsoever to do with this any more than with the natural. For, as the wind blows where and when it pleases, without let or hindrance on our part, just so are we born of the Spirit. See Jesus to Nicodemus. It is by the sovereign act of our great Creator. We are as passive as a lump of clay in the hand of the potter. But in the Lord's own good time every heir of promise will be born. No Hagar, or take-the-town-for-Christ meetings will be required. They will not have to teach every man his neighbor and brother, saying, "Know the Lord, for they shall all know me," saith the Lord. "All the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out." Nor does this positive declaration "shall come" mean that they will be "jerked in by the hair of thetr heads" as Old Baptists are often accused of preaching. That is just another of old Satan's "yarns" and Jesus said he is a liar and the father of it.
God does a purifying work in the hearts of His chosen and they are drawn by the sweet cords of His love. He gives them a will to come and then they don't need any jerking in. It is your other fellow who works on the head, and not the heart, if you please, and he jerks and cuts all kinds of monkey-shines to get them into his net, not God's kingdom. He compasses sea and land to make new converts, and after they are made they are "two-fold more the child of hell" than the preacher who made them. Mt 23. He can not get to the heart. All he does is white-wash the outside and fool the head. I heard a preacher say, and repeat over and over, that Jesus could not save the sinner until the sinner gave his heart to Him. The Saviour said, as quoted above, that the preacher makes a bad job of it. Which will you believe?
Another convincing evidence that the Old Baptists are the church of Christ is that they have love for one another. He said, "By this men will know that ye are my disciples, because ye have love one for another." Love and humility are most beautiful traits or characteristics of the Primitive Baptists.
Please mention one of your popular, worldly "churches" where love and humility are much in evidence among them. Usually these are most conspicuous by their absence. A little cold formality and hurry home or to the show or other worldly amusement. Would they think of getting down and washing one another's feet? No, never! That is far beneath their dignity. They have no such love and humility. They ignore, smooth away and refuse to believe the plain teaching of our Lord in Joh 13, just like they do most all of the fundamentals of the Scriptures. The reason they have not that mark of the church of Christ is because they are not His church. They make just about as poor an out explaining away, or removing that stake as they do on immersion, election, predestination, or any other stake of the Primitive Baptist Church, which Christ set up and declared that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.
I wrote the foregoing in June and laid it away. Since then I have attended many good meetings of the people of God, and heard several of His able ministers preach the very same things that I have written you. So, my little hope was revived and I was, by hope, enabled to believe stronger that they and I have been taught by the same great Teacher. Among those meetings were two communion meetings, where we washed one another's feet. At some of them I was made to forget for a time all that ever troubled me. The most joyful times of myjourney through this vale are in just such meetings. I go for the joy I get out of it, with never a thought that it will help me to gain eternal heaven. I had absolutely no such thought as that in mind when I was baptized. I have long since dropped the idea that heaven eternal is gained by anything that I can do, and found sweeter rest from my labors—the rest that Jesus gives. We will be carried to heaven because we are children of God and have eternal life, which is the gift of God.
Now I have tried to give you some of my reasons why I don't approve of your joining the Methodists. Will did not answer the letter I wrote him. If you answer and want me to write again I will try, the Lord willing. May He 'open your eyes and help you to see some of the truth, which I believe I have written. But if you have not His gift, eternal life, you will think lightly of this and treat it as foolishness.
One more thought in connection with the good meetings I forgot to mention: Old Baptists are accused of not believing in good works. They are the only people who do believe in good works and practice what they preach.
God help you to open your eyes, look and see. Your unworthy brother,
S. E. COPELAND.
He has never yet (1944) answered nor asked for more. S. E. C.
A LITTLE DEBATE
(Clipping from P. A. Berry in County paper)
Water is the life of the world. Just dry up all the water, and the world is at an end. God requires a man to go into it before he can get into the kingdom and heaven. By doing so his sins are washed away. Some good folks, even preachers, don't believe this, but the word says some will believe a lie and be damned. The one who does not believe this, I want, to ask him a Bible question and will give the one a present who gives the correct answer, and it is as easy as falling off a log.
In Ro 6:17-18: "But God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you. Being then made free from sin ye became the servants of righteousness." The question is: What was that form they obeyed that made them free from sin? Some folks have eyes and can't see and ears and can't hear. If one will read the 3rd, 4th, and 5th verses of the same chapter (Ro 6:3-5) they could see with their mouths what the form was.—P. A. BERRY.
Please let me answer P. A. Berry's question and get a present. That is like some people's grace. It is free if you will only pay for it. I see Webster says a present is a gift, or a donation. So Mr. Berry is going to give me a gift or donate me something if I pay for it. We have all heard lots of that kind of "free grace" preached thru the press and from the pulpit. He says "God requires a man to go into it (the water) before he can get into the kingdom and heaven. By doing so his sins are washed away. Some good folks, even preachers, don't believe this, but the word says some will believe a lie and be damned. The one who does not believe this, I want to ask him a Bible question and will give him a present for the correct answer. Ro 6:17-18, etc. The question is: What was that form they obeyed that made them free from sin?" He asks this question of any that do not believe his doctrine as quoted above.
Now, Friend Berry, I am not personally acquainted with you, but know of you, and your brother. "Aunt Syntha Tubbs" is an old friend of mine from my boyhood days till this present time, and for your satisfaction, and for the sake of that present, here is the correct Bible answer: It was water baptism—immersion of the whole man from head to foot in water. Send my present by mail, express or freight to Guntersville, Alabama.
Now, please let me ask a few questions for information and Bible answers. The kingdom and the heaven you had reference to—what are they, and where are they? What is the state or condition of those that are required to go into them? Are they dead in sin or alive from the dead? Bible answers can be found by beginning with the first chapter of this same book (Romans) and noticing closely every verse up to your references. If one's sins are washed away by doing what you say God requires men to do, what did one writer mean when he said the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin? According to your own language some people are good, yet damned for believing a lie. Is believing a lie a good fruit, or a bad fruit? Do you happen to remember what Jesus said about a good tree and a bad one? But suppose those "some good people" don't believe a lie to be damned for, and yet live and die without submitting to baptism in water, what will become of them? The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins and we are clean and free from them, but still guilty, filthy, and dirty with them, and have to wash them away ourselves (according to your theory) by going into heaven through the creek, pool, pond, or river, and between the water's edge and heaven there are many ways and fork-hands so that one is apt to lose the way at last and be finally damned! It sounds a bit risky and like Babylonish hash, but please explain briefly, to save space. Lastly, tell us what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross?
Yours for Bible answers and Bible truth,
S. E. COPELAND.
NO. II Wichita Falls, Texas
Editor Advertiser :
I am confronted with a lovely letter thru the colmuns of your most valuable paper written by one S. E. Copeland. I don't know this Copeland, but if he is of the type and lineage of John and Jerome Copeland and their father, I would conclude that he is honest enough to accept a proposition when it is fair and reasonable.
Mr. Copeland sets forth s claimant against me for a present, and from the way I see and find by the tone of his letter, I think he is hard up for a present. What I gather from what he says I think a good reference Bible, if he would use it as the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to do—study to not be ashamed to rightly divide the word of God, would be good for him. But for fear that I may be laboring under a mistake I will wait to hear more from him. He seems to be honest enough to admit that the form they obeyed in Ro 6:17-18 was water baptism, but he doesn't seem honest enough to admit what it did for those who were baptized. Paul said it freed them from sin. My friend, S. E. C., may differ with Paul on what he says it does for those who are baptized. The Roman brethren obeyed a form and it made them free from sin. Mr. Copeland will say there is no power in it. I guess that he is one among those Paul was talking about who were the enemies of the truth, in 2Ti 3:4-5, when he said, "False accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof. From such turn away."
Mr. Copeland seems to want an argument or dispute, and requests me to be brief to save space, when at the same time he has gone thru a lot of categorical questions that I am not going to try to reach in one article, as I am not willing to burden the editor right on the start.
The question or the form which he admits is baptism, and its design and purpose is the question under considertion ; so let us thrash this problem out. The people in general do not differ on what the word of God says, but the trouble arises over what it does not say. I say that the word of God teaches that there is no salvation this side of that form (baptism), and if Mr. Copeland sets forth that one's sins are remitted before baptism, and when he admits that the form mentioned in Ro 6:17-18 is baptism, his theory falls. I say that faith, repentance, confession, and baptism is the condition of pardon from past sins of an alien sinner. The six chapters of Romans that Mr. Copeland wants me to read are letters that Paul wrote to the Christian people. He says it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sins. Yes, now, let him tell when and how we come in contact with His .blood. His blood is in His body. Let him tell how anyone gets it in his body. Christ says except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Ga 3:27. In 1Jo 5:6 it is by water and blood and not by water only ; but by water and blood. We are not saved by any one thing alone. After all, I may not understand Mr. Copeland. From the fact, I cannot see how anyone can admit that the form they obeyed that freed them from sin was baptism and then claim that baptism is non-essential.
P. A. BERRY.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Editor Advertiser: December12
I want to finish answering Mr. S., E. Copelands questions. He says, "The kingdom and heaven you had refererence to, what are they and where are they?" Mt 13 will explain it better than I can. The kingdoms are spoken of more than two hundred times in the Bible. The kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God, and kingdom of Christ are synonymous. When people are governed by a king they are under the king's government, a kingdom. Christ is our King, and when we obey Him we are in His kingdom. In Lu 7:28, it says there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist, but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. This proves that John never was in the kingdom of God. Christ said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The Spirit, through the word, is the begetting power which represents the man, and the water the woman ; so a child is born of the father and mother, or the mother and father. Paul's letter to the Corinthians says, "Thought ye have ten thousand instructions in Christ, yet have ye not many father, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." 1Co 4:15.
Then Mr. Copeland asks, "What is the condition of those that are required to go into the kingdom? They are dead in sin before they go in and alive unto God when they get in. Those Roman brethren were servants of sin before they obeyed the form that made them free from sin. Which you say is water baptism." You say, "But suppose those same good people don't believe a lie to be damned for, and yet live and die without submitting to baptism in water, what will become of them?"
You seem to want to base your argument on supposition. Well, suppose those Romans had not obeyed that form from the heart, which you say is baptism (that made them free from sin), do you suppose they would have been free from sin by disobeying? Again, do you suppose that Naaman would have been cured of leprosy if he had refused to dip himself in water after being commanded to do so? Did Naaman wash his leprosy away himself? Did his leprosy stay with him until he dipped himself seven times? Was it not obedience that freed him from the leprosy, and he had to go into the water to be obedient. You say for the sake of that present here is the correct Bible answer to Ro 6:17-18. It was water baptism. Your argument proves that you don't believe it, but you admit that it is baptism for the sake of the present. You will have to crawfish out of this. If you don't your brethren will turn you out of the church for heresy.
You say, "Tell us what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross." Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the sins of those who had kept the law of Moses by offering the blood of animals which could never take away sins but were laid over from year to year until Christ offered Himself and blood to take away their sins, and also perfected a law for us to obey that frees us from sin, 'to be remembered no more. Now, if you or anyone will read the 8th and 9th chapters of Hebrews, they will explain it to any honest man. Christ says, "Why do you call me Lord. Lord and do not the things I say?"
Here Mr. C. says, "Do you happen to remember what Jesus said about a good tree and a bad one?" I gather from what you say that the tree represents the child of God, and you think that baptism is the fruit of the child of God and call baptism a Christian work. Baptism is a command. If a preacher preaches the gospel to a sinner and he believes it, repents of his sins, makes the confession and is baptized into Christ, this would be the fruits of his preaching. The sinner shows his faith by his works—baptism. Jas 2:17-26 says faith without works is dead, being alone, so the sinner to bring forth good fruits must add to his faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, kindness, brotherly love and charity ; for if these things be in him and abound, they make him that he shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if he does these things, he shall never fall. See 2Pe 1:5-10.
So, Mr. Copeland, let me hear from you again. am for the truth and let us see if you have it.
Reply to No. 2
Editor Advertiser :
With your kind permission I will answer Mr. P. A. Berry.
Yes, I am a son of John Copeland. He died thirty-three years ago last April and went (or the Lord took him) to heaven without water baptism. Yes, he was an honest man, as you kindly intimate, and he left sufficient evidence to justify me in making this unqualified statement as to where he is for all eternity. We are to judge a tree by the fruit it bears. Jesus tells us that a corrupt tree cannot bring good fruit. Coming in contact with people who believe (or think) the doctrine you preach, I have tried to get some of them to tell me what, in their opinion, becomes of a good person that dies without water baptism, but no answer yet. That question most always strikes them dumb.
Yes, like my father, I have a pretty fair stock of honesty all through my system—enough to always admit a Bible truth, but not every man's theology, or think so. You say I was honest enough to admit that the form they obeyed in Ro 6:17-18 is water baptism, but that I don't seem to be honest enough to admit what it did for them. Oh, yes, old friend, I will admit what it did for them too, but you offered that present to the one disbelieving some stuff you had just preached who would tell what that form is, and now you say my answer is correct, but that I am hard up for a present. Indeed, I would have been if I had been meeting every incoming train, expecting to receive one but I knew that my answer was going to prove that you were not sincere in making the offer. Then I asked that string of "categorial questions," as you call them, to get you to tell what baptism did for those that obeyed. But you refused to even try to answer, and intimated that I had left the subject mile or so.
Please tell us, in your next, does baptism get one into the church, or into heaven? Who is it that should receive baptism in water, those dead in sin or those alive in Christ? It is one or the other ; for there is no other class of men and women. Do you baptize a child of wrath or a child of God? If you say you baptize one before he is a child of God in order to make him one, then I will hand you again my last question in my first reply: What did Jesus accomplish by His suffering and death on the cross?
No, Mr. Berry, I don't think you need to feel any uneasiness about my "theory" falling. I do not. Go on and answer me and see.
Now, you have gone ahead and said there is no salvation this side of baptism ; that faith, repentance, confession, and baptism are the conditions of pardon from past sins of an alien sinner. Another question': What kind of trees do these fruits, faith, repentance, and confession grow on, seeing as we do that they are good fruits? Jesus says a corrupt tree cannot produce them, but you say it must produce them to make it good. (Jesus says make the tree good and the fruit will be good. Who is right, you or Jesus?) The Bible says all men have not faith. Then which kind have it? If repentance is godly sorrow for sin, can the ungodly man produce it? What must one confess: That he is a great sinner dependent on God's grace and mercy for salvation? Or can he confess that Jesus is the Lord without the Holy Ghost? 1Co 12:3. He cannot . So if he already has the Holy Ghost it is too' late to do all of these things in order to get Him ; so now, "Who can forbid water that these should be baptized seeing they have received the Holy Ghost as well as we. They are now ready, or have been brought to that place or state where they can make themselves free from sin manifestly, and obtain a clear conscience and rest for God's children by obeying "that form" of doctrine and coming into Christ's kingdom or church. They have been called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God and called to be saints (Ro 1:6). But what if some of them do not believe and obey that form? Shall their unbelief make the faith of. God of no effect and they miss heaven at last? No! God will not suffer His faithfulness to fail. (Ro 3:3-4.) What He does is done forever. Once God's child, always God's child, whether in obedience or disobedience, but he loses much in disobedience. By failing or refusing to be baptized into the Lord's church or kingdom he misses all the joys of that kingdom here in this time world.
To my statement that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins, you answer, yes; then call on me to tell when and how we come in contact with His blood. I answer when the Lord Himself puts us in contact with it. His ways are past finding out. Jesus says ye must be born again. Can you tell how it is done? You say we not saved by any one thing alone, meaning, of course, in eternal heaven. If you mean that we are not saved by any one of the things you mentioned—faith, repentance, confession, and baptism, all right. We are not saved by any one of them alone, nor by all combined of the thousand and one other things that Babylonish teachers and preachers tell us we must do to be saved. If so let them or you tell the man in nature how to be subject to the law of God. Paul says he cannot be. If no eternal salvation this side of baptism in water what becomes of the poor little children and the idiots when they die? I was about to tell you the one thing that saves people in heaven but this article is growing lengthy ; so if you care to know I will tell you when you answer the foregoing questions.
Will reply to your second "installment" next week.
S. E. COPELAND.
Reply to No. 3
As promised last week I will now proceed to answer the second "installment" of Mr. P. A. Berry's reply to me. Had answered his first before the second was published. Behold, we are learning things "new" under the sun. According to your argument when one obeys the Lord he is His child in His kingdom, but when he disobeys he is the "other fellow's" child and out of Christ's kingdom. It is a kind of see-saw, in-and-out proposition and as none are perfect but all disobey more less, a man may be a child of God today and a child of the devil tomorrow, a child of God the next day and a child of the devil the next, etc. Yours seems to be a kind of "wishy-washy," up and down, in and out, risky proposition as sure as I can see straight.
You say Lu 7:28 proves that John the Baptist never was in the kingdom of God. Then are we to infer from your comments on this that John failed to reach heaven when he died, and that after the Holy Spirit had enabled him to leap for joy three months before he was born into this world, and after Jesus had said of him that no prophet was greater than he? Would you dare to say it takes baptism in water to wash away sins and make one a child of God, "no salvation this side of baptism." If that is true then do tell us what Jesus was baptized for, seeing He was already the begotten Son of God and had no sins to wash away. Can you do it? You can not, or at least you will not. But here comes the (to me) brand new thing under the sun. You have told us how to be born again! Once in time I rather cornered and forced one of your preachers (from your state, Texas, too) to tell me how it was done, but he and you differ somewhat. He said the sinner was born again by believing what he preached. That did not quite satisfy me; so I pressed him for a more satisfactory answer, but about that time he had business down the street that needed his attention; so I failed to get the much desired in formation.
But you quote Jesus to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit," etc., and you say it is this way : "The Spirit through the word is the begetting power which represents the man, and the water the woman; so a child is born of the father and mother, or the mother and father." Well, now isn't that beginning to commence to look handsome?!! The Spirit is the father and the water is the mother, and the offspring is—what? Well, sir, it was right on the end of my pencil to call his name, but I will not now.
Since by the universal law of all nature like always begets like, what could the offspring from such a union be but half Spirit and half water? I do wonder what such a creature ( ?) would look like anyhow. Since a creature of this kind cannot be born till one of its kind gets there to serve as mid-wife, I am wondering how the first one ever got here at all! The mid-wife must be first on hand with (or to preach) the word, then the child, which is not yet, must be willing to be begotten, and must obey the father even before it exists, or is begotten, in order to be begotten. And the father is impotent except through the medium of the preached word and the will and cooperation of both the mid-wife (preacher) and the child before he becomes a child. The mother (water) being inanimate, having no power except to flow down hill by force of gravitation, has no will or wish to consult in the matter and "she" is not consulted, but the conception and "birth" depends altogether on the argument between, and the work of the mid-wife and the unborn child, the dead alien sinner! The thing is beginning to look handsome, isn't it? Behold, it begins to seem like the Spirit has all vanished away out of the picture and you have a child without a father. So instead of quoting Paul to the Corinthians, "Ye have not many fathers" you ought to say "Ye have not any father." I am still wondering what to call this offspring. Talk about monstrosities and religious deformities, behold this is "it" gone to seed. It is not God's doctrine, Brother Berry, but your own. And I am almost sorry for you, but you just compelled me to show up your little water god before our readers.
Answering as to the condition of those who are required to go into the kingdom of God you say they are dead in sin before they go in and alive unto God when they get in. Then your theory is that the dead must get up and go to where life is in order to get it. (He must do a thing impossible with men in order to have life.) If he can do as you say, is it pleasing to God for him to do so? Is his going a thing of the Spirit? Paul says he cannot please God, neither can he receive or know the things of the Spirit, but you say he can and must do it or no salvation for him.
As to good people who die without baptism in water—what becomes of them—I get the same evasive answer from you that I get from all others of you people and preachers. They just won't say. Can't stand too much light on the subject. Your fabric is too thin. No, if those Roman brethren, children of God already, had not obeyed by being baptized into Christ's church or kingdom, they would not have been made free from the sin under consideration, but there would have been for them that certain fearful looking for of judgements while they lived here in disobedience, but just as sure as Jesus died for them, heaven was their home when they died. No, I "don't suppose" that Naaman's leprosy would have been cured as it was if he had refused to obey God, but he was God's child and the Lord was paying him "cash in hand" while he lived here, not giving him a note to be paid in eternity after he died. God was curing him of leprosy, not taking him through the river to eternal bliss.
Yes, I do believe it was water baptism in Ro 6:17-18, but they were already born children of God when they obeyed, and it set them free. Jesus made them free indeed to enjoy their life in His church. (God was their Father and wisdom—not water—their mother. That was long centuries before this half-Spirit-half-water, unthinkable creature was invented by Mr. Campbell or his followers after he had been "turned out" of the church which Jesus set up in the days of John the Baptist and immediately following John's day.) I am not losing any sleep over or for fear of having to crawfish to keep my brethren from turning me out of the church. I sometimes try to be thankful to the Lord that He has given me to see, feel and know by experience just what those Roman brethren got for their obedience to Him, and to have an humble place in the same grand old church.
Here you spring another one. You say Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the sins of those who had kept the law before Him, and to perfect a law for us to obey after Him to free ourselves from sin. Well, now, I have always heard that He died to save His people from their sins, and now I want to know of you, if it was a sin to keep the law before He died, it is not a sin to keep it now? I have for a long time been foolish enough to think it was sin to transgress the law and never once dreamed that it was sin to keep the law. Yes, I do think and know that the child of God is the good tree, and the alien sinner the corrupt tree. The corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. He cannot obey the Lord's commands, precepts, and examples from his hard, stony heart. These are things of the Spirit, and we have already seen that he cannot receive nor know them. He has no faith to show by his works. The true gospel is of God and the alien sinner cares no more for it than a mule cares for Sunday. There is no fear of God before his eyes. He is dead to all of the good works which you say he must do to save himself. See him fully described in Ro 3. Life must precede any act on his part toward God and godliness. You furnish me lots of good picking and ask me to come again, but I must stop ' for this time, for I hear the kind editor saying "too lengthy."
S. E. COPELAND.
No. 4 by P. A. Berry
By your kindness I once more take pleasure in trying to answer Mr. S. E. Copeland. Through the columns of the Advertiser, we get understanding; therefore, we should learn to hate every false way. When two men disagree on a Bible question, one or both of them are wrong. I am hoping that the Advertiser staff will be patient and the readers will weigh the arguments and judge for themselves who is lacking and wanting. It seems that the main issue between us is the design of baptism. Brother Copeland sets forth that baptism is a Christian duty or the fruit of a child of God, and from the way I understand him, one whom God has specially picked out and called in some compact, combustible, mystical way that is past finding out, is a child of God and sometimes it comes in a dream or a trance that they have swallowed a wagon and the angels have caused them to look into the portals of heaven, and the tongue of the wagon is as the forked lightning that gives light to the church and sometimes it takes a whole page of a newspaper to sound it out to the brotherhood, and no one knows whether or not it is true, only him. I will say to Mr. C. that my opinion as to what becomes of a good man who dies without water baptism will not do him or any one else any good. According to the words of Jesus Christ, they will be damned. In Mr 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; he that believeth not shall be damned." God does not recognize a man to be a good man who does not obey Him. I find that Mr. C. does not want to accept or believe what Christ or Paul says, and when I quote after them, he says it is my doctrine. When I ask him how anyone becomes a child of God, to evade the plain words of God he says His ways are past finding out. God addresses man's intelligence and any honest, intelligent man can find out what He wants him to do to be saved. God says they all will know Him from the least to the greatest, and in secret He has spoken to no man. Paul says the Romans were the servants of sin and by being baptized and obeying that form it freed them from sin. Any honest man would say if they were children of God before they obeyed that form they surely would have been freed from sin, and I as well as others who read Copeland's letters will draw a conclusion that he admitted that the form was baptism just for the sake of thinking that he would be paid for it; so I conclude that he would preach anything for pay. I think the readers will expect my friend Copeland to come clean on this question. What is he going to do about it? Did that form in Ro 6:17-18, which you say is baptism, free them from sin, or did Paul lie about it, or did you say it was baptism for the sake of a present? Paul says they were the servants of sin, and by being baptized, as you say it is baptism, they became free from sin. Now, do you believe what Paul said? Say, "Yes" or "No." If it took baptism to free those Romans from sin, it surely will take baptism to free us from sin.
I am sending my friend C. a paper called the Gospel Guide. This will be the best present he ever had if he will only read it. I am cited to 1Co 12:3, in asserting that no one could say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. The word of God is all written by inspiration or by the Holy Ghost, and all the prophets that spoke concerning Him were moved by the Holy Ghost, and when we read about Him it is what the prophets said about Him. Therefore we can know nothing of Him only what the Holy Ghost through the prophets said about Him. This passage does not imply or mean that we have to have the Holy Ghost in us. I can truthfully say that no man can say that George Washington was the first president of the United States but by the history concerning him. This is the only way anyone could know about him, for no man lives today who ever saw him, and no man lives today that ever saw Jesus Christ, or knows anything about Him only what we read about Him. And those who claim to be led about by Him outside of the Book are not wise and cannot see afar off. And again my friend comes with another Holy Ghost case in the conversion of Cornelius. The record is in Ac 10th and Ac 11th chapters. If anyone will read those two chapters they will find that he, Cornelius, was a' devout man and feared God and prayed to God always. Yet he had to hear words of Peter whereby him and all his house shall be saved. See the 11th chapter and 14th verse (Ac 11:14), and you will find that the Holy Ghost fell upon Cornelius and his house to convince those six Jewish brethren that the Gentiles were accepted as well as the Jews, for we find that they objected to Peter going unto another nation, and we find that Peter was given the keys of the kingdom to all the world. Mt 16:19.
And he opened up the way on Pentecost at Jerusalem. Ac 2:38. You will find in Mt 10:6 that the twelve apostles were commanded not to go into the way of the Gentiles, and Cornelius was a Gentile, but in Mr 16:15 he tells the apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel and this took the Gentile nation or world in the Commission, and it seemed that Peter had forgotten this command and the Holy Ghost fell upon Cornelius. Then Peter wanted to know who could forbid water and he commanded him to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. This is the only thing that Peter told him to do. If my friend Copeland thinks that it took the Holy Ghost to save Cornelius, what will he say about the apostles who received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost? They were already Christians or disciples before they received it. Christ says the world cannot receive it. See Joh 14:17. And I will say without any fear of contradiction that the Holy Ghost never came upon anyone for the benefit of the one who received it. It fell upon the household of Cornelius to convince the six Jews. It came to the apostles to guide them and speak through them, telling people what to do, and if my friend, Copeland, wants to preach and be guided by the Holy Ghost, let him preach the same thing that the apostles preached, for Paul says in Ga 2:8, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached let him be accursed." So, my friend Copeland, do you preach the same things that the apostles preached? If a wicked sinner was to come to you and ask what to do to be saved would you tell him what the Apostle Peter told those who asked him what to do? See Ac 2:37-38. Would you tell the chief of sinners when he came to you to be baptized and wash away his sins, as Ananis did? See Ac 22.
(Continued next week) P. A. BERRY.
Reply to P. A. Berry No. 4
In the Advertiser for January 17, you say you hope the readers will weigh the arguments on both sides and see who is lacking or wanting. That is just what I want, and if they will do so, I am well repaid for the time spent on the light task of replying to you. If they do that, I know the children of God among them will see the falsity of your theory and your spider-web meshes will be torn from some little one's eyes. While they are weighing let them note especially what an accomplished dodger you are when your deformed doctrine is exposed and questions, plain and pertinent are put to you. On baptism you said in a former letter that the Spirit is the father and the water the mother, and that the child of God is begotten and born of them. I asked, "If like always begets likewhat then is a child of God if not half water and half spirit, and what does he look like? But no answer from you yet, and my arguments exposing that flimsy theory completely ignored. I said: If no salvation this side of water baptism, what becomes of little children and idiots when they die? But no answer. You said John the Baptist never was in the kingdom and left us to infer, at least, that you think he went to hell. (We see no mention as to where he was ever baptized in water.)
I asked you to tell us what Jesus was baptized for, seeing He was the begotten Son of God and had no sin to ,wash away, and was He baptized by a devil? Your silence is still as profound as if you had been struck by a bombshell. You said the man in nature, the dead alien sinner, must hear, believe, repent, and be baptized or no life and salvation for him. I asked if these are things of the Spirit and pleasing to God, and proved by the Scriptures that the man in nature cannot please God, is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be. Ro 8:7-8; 1Co 2:14. This also was ignored as usual and you resumed your theoretical hash and rehash—the worship of your little water god. Yes, truly we do differ on the design of baptism. If we must have it to make us children of God and to take us to heaven, I repeat, what did it do for Jesus? If it does one thing for Him and another for you, now you just must quit your false claim to being His disciple, for you are not following Him. You boast your honesty and intimate that others are not so honest, so now come on and make an honest effort to answer every one of my questions. If I have failed to answer any of yours, cite me and I will do so or say I cannot.
Your make-fun remarks about the call of God and the experience in grace of His children in common among infidels and other unbelievers, and deserves only passing notice. I will just ask you if Peter swallowed a wagon when he was on the housetop (Ac 10:10,15) and Cornelius "four days ago" (2 30) and Saul of Tarsus while on his way to Damascus (Ac 9:3,7), and was that light from heaven "the tongue of the wagon as forked lightning giving light to the church?" It took more than a page of newspaper to sound what he received out to the brethren. Yes, and the brethren are the very fellows he wrote it to, not alien sinners. Not one time do we find him sending his letters to the grave yard addressed to dead folks (alien sinners) that could not hear nor receive his sayings. After this change came, he being chosen regenerated and born of God (not God and the creek) then he was admonished to receive baptism and it was sin to refuse as God's child not to receive it and make manifest to the world that he was no longer of the world. Baptism freed him from that sin of omission just like it freed those Roman brethren who had been regenerated and born again as Paul was.
I still believe the truth, that God's ways are far above ours and past finding out, but you say I must tell how it is done, so here it is : "As thou knowest not what is the way of the Spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." Ec 2:5: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth : so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." Joh 3:8. Now, does that sound a bit like the creek, pond, or even an ocean of water is the mother of a child of God?
Now, after being forced to the rack, you did finally manage to say that the good man who dies without baptism will be damned and you give Mr 16:16 as proof. But the damnation here spoken of is for unbelief and not a word about it being for failing to be baptized. Everybody read it and see for yourself. You say they will all know Him from the least to the greatest. All of whom? All of the race of mankind, or all of those whom God haschosen and caused to approach unto Him, putting His law in their inward parts and writing it in their hearts? Jer 31:34 is the wrong Scripture for you, is it not? What use have you for the first half of that verse and the one preceding it? You say, "In secret He has spoken to no man." Well, does He have to speak in secret to keep dead sinners from hearing? He says they cannot hear Him, though He was talking directly to them as you would converse with me. Joh 8:43.
Yes, yes gain, I do believe that those Roman brethren were freed from the sin of disobedience as children of God by baptism, as I have already explained in Saul's case and theirs. If one knows the Master's will and does not do it, to him it is sin. Those Romans had been called of God, regenerated and born again and given to know the Master's will concerning them. He had written His law in their hearts, and they knew Him, and to all such Jesus says, "Follow me," and they freed themselves from the sin of disobedience to His law by being baptized as He commanded them.
Now, you would have us believe that no one has any need of the Holy Ghost in being a disciple, but in your last preceding article you said: He, the Holy Ghost, was the Father who begets the child of God in the water! My dear sir, aren't you about to meet yourself coming back? Then according to this, your latest argument, it isn't necessary for a child of God to have any Father! What handsome doctrine is yours! If we have no connection with the Holy Ghost now, then how is Jesus our elder Brother, He being the Father of Jesus? Mt 1:20. You say "without fear of contradiction" that the Holy Ghost never came upon any one for the benefit of the one receiving Him, then in your second sentence 'from that you say He came upon the apostles to guide them. So, I will just ask you right here and insist that you answer : Was such an unerring guide any benefit to the apostles? Was he any benefit to the Virgin Mary when He came upon her to be the Father of her Son and Saviour? You leave us to infer at least that you have not now and do not want the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, which is equal to admitting that you do not now, nor don't want to ever belong to Jesus Christ. Ro 8:9. You refer me to Joh 14:17 to prove your claim that none have the Holy Spirit. I hope our readers will turn to an study that verse. No, your alien sinner, the world, cannot receive nor know Him, but His children do know Him, for He is with and in them. You say if I want to be guided by Him let me preach the same thing the apostles preached. Well, that is just what I want, and humbly hope to have His guidance, and I am advocating apostolic principles strictly. They nowhere intimate that a child of God is half spirit and half water. You ask what I would do if a wicked alien sinner came to me and asked what to do to be saved. I will never have an opportunity of doing anything, for that kind don't seek after God. Paul says they do not (Ro 3:11) and Jesus says they cannot. Joh 6:44. Is that a sufficient answer for you? No, I would not tell a dead sinner to do as Peter told those live sinners to do in Ac 2:38. What was it? Did they ask in Ac 2:37, "What shall we do to be saved in eternal heaven ?" No, they were the called of God (Ac 2:39) and Peter told them to repent and be baptized in Jesus' name for (because of) remission of sins and they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. What is the gift? It is a good, clear conscience, sweet peace and ease of mind, the peace that Jesus gives and leaves with His obedient children.
Now, more about Cornelius in Ac 10th and Ac 11th chapters—he saw a vision and told an experience of grace. Will you make sport of him and say he swallowed a wagon that caused him to do it? God had already cleansed him and then showed Peter (also in a vision) that he should not call Him common or unclean. Since God had cleansed (saved) him, can you tell me what would keep him out of heaven when he died, baptism or no baptism? Please answer. I can hardly stop here, but must do it for lack of space in the paper.
S. E. COPELAND.
I will continue this article in trying to answer my friend's last article. He does not seem to know how to ask a reasonable Biblical question, much less to answer one. He exerts himself in such ways as to try to make me say things that I never said. He does this to mislead the readers. So, I conclude that he is ignorant or mean, one. He wanted to know what would become of the infants and idiots. Christ told the apostles to suffer little children to come unto Him, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. When the apostles received the Holy Ghost in guiding them in all truth they addressed believers, and if there is any law given to an idiot I would advise him to look it up. I read about a man in Ac 8:9 that seems to be of his type. This man Simon, after he was baptized, wanted the Holy Ghost so bad that he offered the Apostle Peter money for it. See Ac 8:18-19. Was he a child of God before he was baptized? If he was, give me the word of God for the proof instead of bewitching the people by giving out through the Advertiser that you are some great one. This same Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost to the wicked ones who crucified Christ. See Ac 2:23. These same Wicked ones were pricked in their hearts by Peter's preaching, and when they heard it they said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said unto them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." See Ac 2:37-38. My Bible says they were wicked and they crucified Christ. Does your Bible say that they were children of God before they were baptized? If they were, give me the word of God for proof, not your sorcery think-sos about it. Again, Saul, who was the chief of sinners, while going to Damascus with letters of authority binding and delivering into prison both men and women, and bringing them to Jerusalem to be punished, (this was wicked, was it not?) on his was he was struck down, and said, "What must I do, Lord?" The Lord said unto him, "Arise and go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do." And one Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, came unto him and said, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldst know His will." (If he had been a child of God he would have known His will.) "Why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord." Read Ac 22nd chapter for Saul's or Paul's conversion. Mr. C. says: Once a child, always a child and can't be lost, and he can't tell how he becomes one, but after he is one he must be baptized for some purpose. Therefore, if he dies without baptism he goes to heaven with his sins on him. So, it's this way : If one seeks it he can't find it, if he finds it he can't get it, and if he gets it he can't lose it. If he loses it, he never had it. Re 3:16 says, "Because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." God willeth the death of no man, but rather all would turn and be saved, and if man can't turn unless God sees fit to turn him, and if he is not turned at all whose fault is it if he is lost? God says the way is so plain that a fool need not err therein. My friend says His ways are past finding out. He says that baptism is the fruit of a child of God. How many times have you partaken of that fruit, seeing that a child of God must do his duty every time he has an opportunity? You say, "Are we to infer from your comments that John the Baptist or forerunner never was in the kingdom of God? Did John fail to reach heaven when he died?" John, as well as all other good men who had kept the laws under which they lived, went to heaven if they died before the kingdom of Christ or God came. John baptized people unto repentance for the remission of sins, making them ready for the kingdom, and 3000 were added. They that gladly received His word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand Souls. Please read Ac 2nd chapter. Also Heb 1:1-2—also Heb 8; 9, and Heb 10. This will prove to you that the laws were changed. Also read Col 2:14-15. This proves what Christ did on the cross as well as many other things. Christ was baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness, and He never was called the Son of God until after He was baptized. Put this down in your hard shell, my friend. He was called Christ and son of man, but never was He called the Son of God until after He was baptized.
No, no, I could not expect anything better from a man of your ability than to ignore as plain comparison as I made in what is called the new birth that Christ spoke to Nicodemus about, and you don't seem to know yet any more about it than Nicodemus did 1900 years ago. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He was ashamed to do so in the day time, just as you are ashamed to own to the truth in regards to my position on baptism, and you delight in using sources to shut off the light that I throwed upon it by the representation I made. Any man who claims to be saved and becomes a child of God in some mysterious way and can't tell how it is done, and when it is done it can't be undone, and will remain a child of God in spite of the devil and will be saved and go to heaven in spite of angels or God don't care, for they have a waybill to sin by the wholesale and a free ticket to go in anyhow, no matter if the company has changed hands. If you tell the truth, my friend, I would love to be in your condition, but can't do it in spite of all I can do. It seems that you have received a special revelation from God outside of the one God has given to the apostles and they, as well as His Son, made a wide mistake in the plan that they rave to the sons and daughters of men to be saved. When I quote to you what they said you condemn it and say it is my doctrine. Yes, that new doctrine you say I preached. I find some of your sect or brethren recorded in Ac 17:18-19. They were called philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks and they took Paul and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is." So here you come wanting to know about a new doctrine. You wanted to know in your former article what did Jesus accomplish by His death on the cross. I told you in a brief way in part and cited you to Heb 8 & Heb 9 for my answer, and I hope the reader read it, but if you read it, it should have satisfied you, but I find that you do not recognize the word of God at all.
I will say, however, Heb 10 should have been included to establish my answer in full in the 34th verse. In those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. So, you will find in this 10th chapter (Heb 10) sacrifices for sin hast no pleasure. We find He came in the volume of the )ook to do Thy will. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified ;hrough the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for ill. He entered into the holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way and our bodies washed with )ure water. So you should be able to see what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross by reading Heb 8; 9; 10.
Again we find by your explosive article that you and your disciples are better than the angels of God and you have a corner on heaven that the angels never once thought about. For God spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell in darkness to be reserved unto judgement. See 2Pe 2:4 and you will have to meet this incoming train whether you want to or not, for once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved by water. The like figure whereunto baptism doeth also now save us (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Christ. Notice, will you, the last paragraph is marked out in parenthesis, so I showed to you the like figure whereunto a man becomes a child of God. But what was your slanderous answer to it? When I ask you a Bible question, please give me a Bible answer, and when you ask me a Bible question, give chapter and verse so I may know where to place your position. Because I don't answer some of your foolish questions, you boast that I don't answer you, and when I quote a passage of Scripture in answer to your question you claim it is not answered unless I copy the chapter and verse.
Yours for truth and nothing but the truth.
P. A. BERRY.
REPLY TO P. A. BERRY
In yours (continued) in the Advertiser for January 23, I see you have called me just most anything or everything but a gentleman, but I am not offended in the least; for by so doing you only admit or manifest your defeat without intending to do so. I am just taking comfort from Mt 5:11-12 and proceeding with my exposure of your idol as usual. You say that I am either ignorant or mean. I will just plead guilty of both. But I have never yet been so ignorant nor so mean as to teach nor believe that the Lord Jesus, the begotten Son of God, never was His Son until He was about 30 years of age, and had been baptized in water ! Verily water baptism is your little idol god, in open violation of the first of the ten commandments. Exodus 20:3. Jesus is no more, according to your deformed theology, than any common specimen of depraved humanity. Yes, I am both ignorant and mean, and you almost said that I am an idiot, too. That nearly makes me smile. I am made to think here of how God sometimes chooses base and foolish things to confound the mighty wise things, and it seems to me very much like one of the wise (?) ones out at Wichita Falls is so confused and confounded that he even argues that the beloved Son of God was a bastard until a man got Him in the water and made Him over a real true Son by water baptism!! I wonder if God winks at or passes by unnoticed such ignorance as that? Not called the Son of God till after John baptized Him in water? Read Ho 2:1, where, over 700 years before, God called Him His Son. Then read Mt 2:15 and see where He was again called the Son of God. Here we are reminded that what God spoke by the prophet over 700 years before was being fulfilled and this, too, before Jesus was baptized in water. "Out of Egypt have I called my Son."
Now, see your little god tumble off his home-made throne—may I say into the water like a frog? But what if He had not been called the Son of God before He was baptized, would He have been any less the Son than He would have been if He had been so called every day in every chapter and verse up to the day of His baptism by John? The angel told Joseph in a dream (now laugh) that that which was conceived in Mary, his wife, was of the Holy Ghost. With only this one witness where is one true believer in God who would say, or even intimate, that Jesus is not the Son of God—baptism or no baptism? He was called the Son of the highest before He was baptized (Lu 1:32) and who is the Highest but God? Yes, Jesus was called the Son of God before He was baptized in water, even before He was born of the Virgin Mary (Ho 11:1; Mt 2:15; Lu 1:35), and He did not have to be "born" of the River Jordan to make Him the Son of God. So now, Brother B., have you any room in your soft-shell for this truth? I happen to remember, too, that the Bible says He was filled with the Holy Ghost in childhood and infancy, and He Himself called God His Father at the tender age of twelve years—a long time before He was baptized by John at about age 30. Now, according to your ungodly reasoning (?) as above, your son was not your son until he became old enough to understand and obey you. If I should presume to say that he was not, you would just call me a plain fool. For once in your long life you would be about right. So, please don't talk so disrespectfully about the Son of God any more if you have love at all for Hint. Don't violate His command by setting up your little water god before Him. This is good advice, even from a fool, and I will not charge one cent for it.
Yours for truth,
S. E. COPELAND.
The editor and his readers had all they could stand of my "stuff," so he cut us both out of his paper to get rid of me. I had insisted that he must publish mine as Yong as he published Mr. Berry's writings.
S. E. COPELAND.
Written in 1917, time of Whole Man-Hollow Log Contention.
Some time ago I received a copy of your little paper, The Gospel in Shadows, and enjoyed it as I do all of your writings. Have thought often of your good article, "Jacob and Esau in Dreamland," published some time ago. You have them a type or figure of the two natures in the child of God which, I think, is right, election also being taught in the figure, as you said.
If God made Jacob and Esau a figure of something, which of course they are, then it must be a true figure. And if they do not typify the two natures in the child of God, what do they typify? Esau must undoubtedly represent the elder or Adam nature and Jacob the younger or spiritual nature in every born again complex being or child of God. Isaac, the father, called both "my son" and blessed both, though in a way that the elder must finally serve the younger. And as in the type or natural so in the antitype or spiritual the man is the son of God blessed in such glorious way as to bring the natural human nature under subjection to serve the spiritual nature. There is a mystery too great for me in the generation and birth of the natural "elder" man, and a greater mystery in the regeneration and birth of the "younger" spiritual man. For "as thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." Eccl. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
So I, a poor, weak lump of nothing, would tremble to claim to understand, much less explain these things. But we know by the Scriptures, if not by experience, that man is born again (some men are), for except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, the church or heaven here, nor the glorious one above. We also know by the Scriptures that the elder or Esau nature shall (or should more than he does) serve the younger or Jacob or spiritual nature. We should strive to keep under or in subjection our elder nature.
When we do that we serve God with our body and our spirit which are His. To my mind we cannot serve Him acceptably until Esau is brought under and humbled. Of course we cannot make him serve until Jacob is born, for the natural man cannot receive nor know the things of the Spirit. He is not subject to God's spiritual law. But after the new birth, when by the grace of God, man is given a new or spiritual nature he is blessed in soul and body, made a better man and (yet feeling his littleness) he is enabled by the help of God and in humble obedience to his Saviour to bring his evil nature under subjection to the spiritual to serve the living God which the natural (Esau) of and by himself could not do. He is blessed in soul and body, made a member of Christ, the temple of the Holy Ghost and he is commanded to glorify God in both his body and spirit which are God's. 1Co 6. This the carnal natural man cannot do. He was not a member of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost while he was "by nature the children of wrath even as others" not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
To this I hear you say "no." Then why is he not a better man since he has been regenerated in soul by the "wind" blowing where it listeth or where it pleases and his body made the temple of the Holy Ghost? If he is no better now, then my bedimmed vision is too short to see any difference betwixt the unregenerate and the regenerated man or woman. "Ye must be born again, Except a man be born again." We see any and every man a body. No body, no man! The body is what God formed of the dust of the ground, then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it (he) became a living soul.
Dear brother, I am writing this in the greatest fear that I ever wrote in, but some of it has been on my mind so long I just decided to try and write it off. But I have my doubt about you or anyone else ever being permitted to read it.
If there had been only one child in the womb (Ge 25:22-25) there could have been no wrestling or striving or struggling together. While we were dead aliens with only our elder (Esau) nature we were strong men armed and kept our palace in peace. No fear of God before our eyes.
We sin as freely and naturally as we breathe. No spiritual or younger (Jacob) nature to contend with the elder Adam nature. But when the great God of heaven and earth by His electing love was pleased to beget within us Jacob the younger spiritual nature, then the great commotion or wrestling began and will continue until Esau or Edom is overcome and destroyed and Jacob is finally freed by his great Captain, Priest and King, the conqueror of death and the grave. I feel that He has given us the ability to keep Esau in subjection a great deal more than we (or I) do. It seems so in my experience lately that Esau has had almost full dominion over me for weeks at a time ; that he just about had the best of the fight; that I am the most good-for-nothing creature on God's green earth ; the most unprofitable and ungrateful of all created things.
Your mentioning recently a flock of wild geese flying in the form of a great V high above the earth to the north or to the south as the seasons come and go, brought fresh to mind the same wonderful sight I saw while only a. wayward boy. I was in the field at work when suddenly my attention was attracted by the loud honk of their leader, and looking up I beheld and counted twentyone—three times seven—flying steadily southward in the form of as perfect a V as any man (or set of men) could have arranged them to save his life. I stood and gazed and wondered. Three times seven so beautifully arranged into a "living V." I thought of the great three-one God of the universe and His wonderful, perfect works in creating all things, all living creatures, and allmoving in their respective spheres ; and instincts in obedience and honor to their great Creator except the one that is supposed to be the most intelligent of all—rebellious man. Man, with all of his conceit and boasted intelligence is the only law-breaker. Poor, depraved, exceeding sinful creatures, and I one of them, a leader in sinning, as that old gander is the leader of the flock. Yet he flies in obedience to the laws God gave him to guide him in his long flights from north to south and back again with change of seasons, while I go in disobedience to His law and commandments.
Those were some of my serious thoughts as I stood and wondered in humbled admiration watching that beautiful "living V" go out of sight. That was around twenty years ago, and now, after twenty-one years more, I can still see so much of that old sinful, hateful nature about me, but it seems that there is a greater, at times a grievous warfare, a greater wrestling or struggling within that I had not experienced so much then.
I cannot tell when I first saw myself a sinner, nor the day, month, nor year of deliverance. From early childhood I had occasional seasons of uneasiness within and very serious thoughts about death, but was not troubled as much then as later in life. It seems that I have always been so unappreciative and unthankful to God for His many blessings.
I remind myself of a hog. A hog never seems to look up to see where the acorns or his food comes from. I am so often like that, and sometimes I have been made to grieve over the fact. Oh, may I hope that there has been somehow, sometime, a change wrought in me ; that the wind has been pleased to blow upon me; that I, a depraved sinful man, have been born again? I will not attempt to say how much or what part, but let me hope that it is as Jesus said to Nicodemus, a man born again. If we do have some little bit of evidence and sweet hope that we have been born again, it is so much better to spend our time, our lives in grateful praise and service to God than to raise a great cavil over how much of us, or what part of us is born again. Jesus tells us plainly that we cannot tell "from whence it comes nor where it goes, where it starts nor where its stops." Only "ye must be born again." "Except a man be born again." When we are thus engaged in striving about words to no profit, it seems to me that Esau is using his sword on us ; that he is living by his sword and has broken Jacob's yoke off his neck.
Oh, if I could always live so as to keep the yoke on Esau! Let Jacob be lord of Esau as the Father said. When Esau has dominion over us we have trouble. When he is serving Jacob we have joy and peace. When we are humbled and willing to be the Lord's "anything," Esau (the elder) is serving Jacob (the younger). When we (I), after years of rebellion in disobedience, became willing and anxious to submit to baptism and live in God's church, Esau is serving Jacob. When we really and truly humble in the spirit of the case, get down and wash our brother's feet, Esau is serving Jacob. But I cannot perform this literal act without my body. It is not something inside of me that does this washing of my brother's feet in water. Nor was it something inside of me that Gods dear old servant baptized in water on that happy Sunday in July, 1914. It was my body. Me. I was raised up out of the watery grave into a new world and happy! Oh, how grand it would be if we all would always talk and write about the many good things and not strive about words to no profit. I am nothing or less, but I would be so lad to know that all Old Baptists were together in peace.
Did Jesus Write The Check?
(Back side of check.)
CHECKS FROM THE BANK
OF ETERNAL LIFE
Number of Check--"Your Need."
"There is none righteous, no, not one: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Ro 3:10,23.
Date of Check--"Now."
"Behold NOW is the accepted time; behold NOW is the day of salvation." 2Co 6:2.
Receiver of Check--"Whosoever Believeth."
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOVER BELIEVETH in Him should not perish, but have everlasting Life." Joh 3:16.
Amount of Check--"Eternal Life."
"The gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Ro 6:23.
Signature of Check--'Jesus CHRIST.'
"And I (JESUS CHRIST) give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Joh 10:28.
I hereby accept the Giver of this check, JESUS CHRIST, as my personal Saviour, and thank Him for this precious gift
After endorsing this check, kindly return to "Tracts"--
950 Cincinnati Avenue
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
DID JESUS WRITE THE CHECK?
About two hours ago I heard of a soul-saving meeting lasting all night. That sounds to me like the job is a big one for their little god; or, maybe, he has some tough souls to work on. I suspect, however, that he is akin to the little god Elijah had some experience with in olden times—and equally as magnificent a failure. Read 1Ki 18:20-40.
Now I had in mind to write something about a check which has been in my possession for sometime. It came to me from a good friend of mine, and he, is no doubt, a child of God. Yet he is not a member of any church organization. Hence, he is looked upon by those little "soul-saving" gods as an unsaved sinner—still in his sins and in danger of eternal, burning hell ; still a natural, unregenerate man. It was during one of their summertime revival meetings that Parson Pharisee dropped into his office, handed him the check, and passed by on the other side.
The check is drawn on "The Bank of Eternal Life" (Resources Unlimited); payable to the order of "Whosoever Believeth (Joh 3:6). $____ Ro 6:23. The sum of "Eternal Life." By Jesus Christ! (Joh 10:23) . Along both the top and bottom margins is the quotation, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Ac 16:31. Number—Ro 3:10-23. Date—"Now" (2Co 6:2). Look at the picture above.
Now, let us remember that the check is drawn on "The Bank of Eternal Life, (Resources Unlimited)," and is in favor of and payable to any and every dead alien sinner of Adam's race, if he will only properly endorse it, according to the regulations printed on the back of the check (see page 196). Seems like that little matter of endorsing a check for a great (so great!) sum ought to be easy. So let us see, if we can, how easy.
Following the regulations concerning checks drawn on "The Bank of Eternal Life," we begin with the number of the check—"Your Need." Ro 3:10-23: "There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." That quotation is a part of Ro 3:10, and Ro 3:23, but let us examine all, and then turn a little further over to Ro 5:12, and read carefully. Now we ought to begin to see the hopeless state our "endorsers" are in. How come them in that state? Turn back and read Ge 2:16-17, then Ge 3:1-6. Now did the man by disobedience die as God said he would, or did he not die as the devil (serpent) said? Shall we believe what God said, or what the serpent said? Paul believed what God said, as proved by quotations from him to the Church at Rome—and I do enjoy being in good Old Baptist company ; so I will stay with Paul. He says, "Let God be true, and every man a liar." He says, by inspiration of God, that every natural alien sinner of Adam's race is dead and cannot receive nor know the things of God. A dead man endorse, and receive payment of a check on The Bank of Eternal Life—perform an impossibility in order to get eternal life? That is the doctrine of the poor little . preacher-god, or gods who "forged" that check. Yes, I said "forged," and if I haven't proved it, I hope, by the help of God, to do so—and right soon.
Next, the "Date of the Check—Now." "Behold, now is the accepted time ; behold, now is the day of salvation."-2Co 6:2. No, not now. He is too early with his little god. His sinner is still dead, and not ready to act; cannot act, because he is dead. He is ahead of Jesus here, and He says all of those who come before Him are thieves and robbers. Is he trying to rob Jesus of His work and glory? He is undertaking a good sized job for a little god ; so why not wait awhile on Jesus? He says He does the giving of eternal life—and no hint of any dead sinner having to even endorse a check to get it. There is a law against forgery, so better be careful.
2Co 1 is addressed by the Apostle Paul to "The Church of God which is at Corinth, with all of the saints (not alien sinners) which are in all Achaia." Not one word of the quotation was written to dead sinners, but to a congregation of saints ; people already children of God without having to endorse a forged check. So his "date" of check is too late, and, as always, the child was' born before his anti-christian, self-appointed midwives got there.
Now, how does that fit him? "Pay to the order of Whosoever Believeth." "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."— Joh 3:16. That is Jesus Himself talking, and, as usual, the wrong text for him—just does not fit his confused Babel doctrine and greatly retards the "progress" of their building. To /fit in their tower it would have to read: "Whosoever believeth will become alive a thing impossible for the dead to do." Believing in Christ is a good work, and none can do good works like that until they have been created in Christ unto them. Eph 2:10. Cannot believe in Him while still dead in sin and out of Him. They believe after and because of the fact that they "were born (not will be born), not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."— Joh 1:12-13. He that believeth "is (now, already) born of God"—not will be born- 1Jo 5:1. Too late for dead sinners to endorse this forged check.
But see a little further. "Pay to the order of Whosoever Believeth (Ro 6:23), the sum of Eternal Life." Then follows his proof text: "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul was talking here to people who had already been made free from sin, born again, children of God already. They had a long time ago "been paid" the wages of sin which was death. Now they have received the gift (not wages) of God which is eternal life, and not one of them had to act, believe, while dead in sin in order to have, or get, eternal life.
Signature of Check—"Jesus Christ." Then follows this quotation, "And I (Jesus Christ) give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."—Joh 10:28. Now is he sure that Jesus Himself signed that check? I really have my doubts about the signature being genuine. I was not there, not present when He stooped down and wrote on the ground on one occasion, but I have read where some fellows sneaked out while He was writing, so, in all probability, He was not writing them a check on the Bank of Eternal Life. In fact, I just know that this check is a brazen forgery ; for Jesus Christ never once gave any dead sinner a check on any sort of bank, and then required him to take it to the bank and receive payment in eternal life. "I give unto them eternal life" does not mean I give them a check on the bank for it. He takes the "money" directly to the poor "penniless" (not penitent) dead sinner, gives him eternal life before He requires him to believe or do anything whatsoever. Drop back and read the 26th verse (Joh 10:26). Are those a part of "Whosoever Believeth?" Jesus tells them who they are—not God's children. Now is there any way to include them in "whosoever believeth?" Is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ a righteous work or act? Do we get eternal salvation by so doing? No, we don't get it by works of righteousness which we have done, and certainly not by our works of righteousness. Read Tit 3, first seven verses. And, so it is not by our works, either good or bad, but by the grace of God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God : not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that ye should walk in them."—Eph 2:8-10. To fit their doctrine it would have to read : "By grace through faith, the act of the sinner, and that not of the sinner; it is the gift of God, if the dead sinner will work for it; not of works, yet he must work for it, or he doesn't get it. For we will be His workmanship if we choose to believe in Him while we are dead to Him, and let Him save us by His grace !" That is just a sample of their Babylonish frog doctrine that was preached at the time they began to build a tower to reach all the way to heaven for fear that God would forget His business and let another flood come and catch another bunch of poor heathens who had been too careless or too stubborn to believe in Him and accept Him as their Saviour before He was their Saviour, in order for Him to be their Saviour and save them before it was everlastingly and eternally too late to save them from being lost when they were already lost, dead in sins and could not accept Him, if He had offered Himself to them.
Still working on that tower even down to this late day and-haven't even so much as got the foundation laid yet. There must be a reason for it. I guess it is because they have never gotten over that visit the Lord God paid them when He came down to see about their undertaking. 'See Ge 11. It seems to me like they are still a bit confused and can't get all of their building materials together. They call for one thing and get another. Nothing solid ; so the foundation, even after these several thousand years, seems still rather sandy. One thing sure, they are not on the Rock. I am absolutely sure that the signature, and every other part of that check is not the handwriting of Jesus Christ, nor that of any of His apostles nor prophets.
Now, let's see the last endorsement to be made, "I hereby accept the Giver of this check, Jesus Christ, as my personal Saviour, and thank Him for this precious gift." I was about to become a bit confused myself over this last endorsement as to whether the endorser was still dead, or was he, at least beginning to live? Then I happened to remember that I had always had to sign my endorsement in full before I collected the sum of any check made to me. Even so, the poor dead sinner, according to the little human god who invented and forged that check, had to complete the job before he could collect, or have, eternal life! Whew!
Now, in all honesty and candor, what saved the poor lost sinner? What ever it was that Jesus had done for him up to now had not saved him Then surely it had to be the sinner's act of obedience in acceptance of Him. Please tell me why pray so loud and often to God to save sinners, if He is ready, willing, and waiting—even grieving for the sinner to accept Him and let Him save him? Why don't they pray to the great, powerful, self-sufficient sinner instead, and try to get him to be willing to be saved? Read again Ro 3. Also, maybe, we could find some little preacher gods described in Mt 23. Try it and see.
NO. JESUS DID NOT write the check.
S. E. COPELAND.
MOST SOLEMN ORDINATION
DEAR SISTER CAYCE :
The most impressive and solemn ordination, of the many that I have witnessed and had a little part in, was yesterday, December 5, 1948—one month before he, Gene Thomas, will be twenty years of age (January 3, 1949). The church of his membership, Union, Woodville, Alabama, had previously agreed, by unanimous vote, to ordain Brother Gene Thomas to the full work of the Gospel ministry. Their large meeting house was full, almost to overflowing. Quite a number of Good Old Songs were sung. An air of godly serenity seemed to pervade the place and the large assembly.
Elder H. P. Houk, the moderator, arose and called for every orderly elder, and every orderly deacon present to come forward and sit in the presbytery. “If you are not orderly, don’t come. We don’t want you,” he said. And I am sure he meant what he said. Seven elders and seventeen deacons assembled themselves around the young brother. Both church and presbytery have known him from a very small child. His life has been lived above reproach, in every sense of the word. He possesses every Bible qualification, even down to the last and one of the most important listed, to wit: “He must have a good report from them that are without.” I have no doubt every business man and citizen in Scottsboro and Jackson County, who know Gene Thomas, would tell you that he is at-the-top in morals and honest dealings with his fellow man. This kind, and they only, are fit to be set apart to preach for the Primitive Baptists—or for any other place in the church, for that matter.
The presbytery, knowing all of this about Brother Gene, could willingly proceed with the service of ordaining him. Elder H. B. Awtrey questioned him on our Articles of Faith. With his good understanding of the principles answers would be. We had already heard him preach the pure gospel in every effort from the very first. Elder K. W. Yeager prayed as hands were laid on. Then Elder H. P. Copeland gave a most impressive charge to the little boy he had baptized while he was yet very small, and Brother Gene was delivered to Union Church, a fully ordained elder. The moderator said he was almost “shouting happy,” and it seemed like very many others were in the same fix.
I spent the past two nights in that God-loving Christian Thomas home. Dear Sister Mimmie was telling me how she had prayed for years that God would send them another preacher, as theirs were all growing old ; but did not know that He would send her own baby boy! I told her that she had more to rejoice over than any president or any king or queen of any country on this old earth, and I think that is true, too.
She said Gene had wanted to join the church from his early childhood. He would ask her to read the Bible to him ; and sometimes ask her and his father, “when will I be big enough to join the church?” He was small of stature for his age and still is. He joined at age ten or eleven years. In thinking of him, my poor mind has often gone back to that little boy David, who met and slew the great, boasting enemy of God’s people ; and the great Saul, who became the little Paul, less than the least of all saints ; and of our own beloved C. H. Cayce in comparison. But God forbid that in making this comparison I try to flatter dear Brother Gene, or cause him to become exalted and puffed up. For that would let him down to the bottom faster than anything else would. May the Lord give him grace to stay humble and little in feelings and estimation of himself, and make him great in His service and the work which He has assigned him to do. These are some of the thoughts, and little weak prayers of a poor old unworthy that loves him, and, I hope, the Lord that called him.
S. E. COPELAND.
DEAR BROTHER BLACKSHEAR:
We who heard you preach at Bethlehem last summer have thought often of that garden of nuts you took us to, and wherein the Lord enabled you to feed us so richly. We all enjoyed your visit, though it was all too short. Hope you can come again sometime and stay longer. I like your writings in GOOD WILL, too. Being continued from month to month makes the “installments” seem a little too short, but we can preserve )our copies and read all again after you get through. We often get more out of the second reading anyway. And I like to read GOOD WILL; it seems to get better with age. And speaking of age reminds me of my own : I don’t get better with age, but seemingly worse. In early life I somehow learned to love the good Old Baptists and to hate some of my own ugly sinful ways.
I was generally looked upon and called a good, moral boy, but I early learned that I was by nature anything but good. Before reaching the age of manhood I found myself in love with the Primitive Baptists, and today, after more than fifty years, if not deceived in my poor heart, that love is still within my bosom. Yet, not all of this fifty-odd years have been spent with the Old Baptists in the church of God. I had no experience of grace to tell them, hence could not afford to try to get in among them until I had an experience like Saul of Tarsus. I have vowed time and again that I would never offer myself without an experience like Paul’s. But my vows availed me nothing, for up to this hour and age, 70 and one half years, I have no such experience. My grandparents were, all four, Primitive Baptists; all members of the same church one-half mile from where I was born. My father was a believer but never joined; he died at the age of thirty-four. Mother and a number of our connection joined after I was nearly grown. Some of them seemed to think that I would too, but I could not tell an experience like I heard some of them relate. Still I loved the Old Baptists dearer than any other people on this earth, and I looked to none other as being the true church of God. They were all good, and I looked upon their preachers as beng next to the angels of heaven; perfect, or almost so.
I soon found myself feasting on their preaching but did not know why, and did not want anyone to know my feelings nor try to talk to me. I wanted to hear them talk, but was shy and did not want them to even see me if I had reason to think they wanted to talk to me. And sometime when they got me cornered and began to question me, I have lied to them both by word and action. Sometimes while every word the preacher was saying came directly to me, I was lying by pretending that I was paying no attention to him. Why should I think or care anything about it while I had no experience? In my twenty-seventh year I was married to a good Methodist, as good a woman as could be found anywhere. She went with me to meetings and soon joined the Old . Baptists, but I couldn’t join with her because I had nothing to tell them. My oldest brother and two others joined with her. I was miserable, not because she joined, for I was glad of that, but I was in the worst fix I had ever been in and vowed to myself that I would never again enter and Old Baptist Church. I saw these four baptized, and then broke my vow the next day by going straight back to meeting with my wife. I went on loving the Old Baptists, reading good experiences and wishing I had one like them several years longer. Mixtures of joy and sorrow were for me. My wife asked me to join the church and get relief, but I said I couldn’t. She was taken sick and I felt deeply impressed that she was sick to die. The second day she told me that she was on her death bed, but God had already told me twenty-four hours before. She suffered in bed for seven long weeks, praying to be taken to “my beautiful, happy home.” She talked very calmly about dying and seemed not one bit afraid to die. I suffered in heart and mind all the time she sufferd in body, and when I stood over her just before the break of day, her suffering seemed to stop and in about fifteen minutes she fell, I believe, sweetly asleep in Jesus and He took her safely over to that “happy home” she so often spoke of and longed for. Then I was undone as never before. My dear companion gone—my dearest natural tie, and I was unworthy to live with God’s church and people. I was asolitary wanderer—one alone in this world of trouble and sorrow. I could not have the experience of Saul as I vowed to have, or I would never join the Old Baptists, so I would have to live the rest of my days on the outside.
In November, 1913, I went to a meeting where seven able Old Baptist elders were visiting, and heard ten able discourses delivered. I listened to all in wonder, joy and amazement. (I cannot express nor explain it; don’t know how.) On the last day, while they were taking the parting hand, I saw what seemed to be heaven. These happy Old Baptists were in the very heaven on earth, and it seemed I would gladly have given everything else in this world to have been in their midst! But, no! That would never do. They all shined in the bright glory of God, while I was black—the vilest jet black sinner on earth. As I rode sixteen miles back to my home, my mind seemed to stay with that heavenly scene. “0 Lord, if it can be Thy will for me to offer myself to that happy band, let me see no peace day nor night until I do so!” Oh, brother, how could I even try to pray such a prayer? I don’t know, only I was afraid to trust myself to make God a promise to go. Surely I didn’t know what I was asking for. From that day in early November until Saturday before the second Sunday in July (1914) was the most miserable time of my life. I went day after day under the darkest cloud. Some great calamity was about to come upon me, I know not what. My darling baby boy whom I fairly worshipped was stricken. I went into his room one day where he lay on his bed; he saw me and then raised his little right hand up toward heaven. I stood speechless for some time. He had told me without saying a word that he was going home with God to heaven. Just a few days later he left us and I was again ruined. My own rebellion was the cause, and still I refused to go. “I cannot, and will not go. I have nothing to tell the church, though I long so much to be with them. I have no experience: I cannot tell any place, day, month or year.” I let their June meeting close still holding to my seat with both hands, and before I had gone half a mile toward home I would have given this whole world to have been back there with the opportunity still extended. The following month was long and miserable ; but “I will go in, and if I perish I perish.” Queen Esther did not perish, and thanks be to God, this old sinner did not find it half as hard to do as he thought. I told them a few words of what I have written here, and some one moved to receive me and two or more seconded the move. The vote, to my surprise, was unanimous and my mourning was turned to joy. I was baptized next morning and I came up out of that water into a bright, shining new world. All of my great troubles were gone ! I was perfectly free and easy, and felt perfectly reconciled over the loss of my little boy. He was happy with God in heaven, and I was happy in following (I hope) my Lord in baptism. And from that happy day until now, I have never regretted it.
I was not worthy then, nor am I yet worthy, of a good home with God’s people in His church, but I just don’t want them to be rid of me. I hope to live and die in the love and fellowship they have all along manifested for me. I rejoice to see the little halting ones come in out of their sufferings which I so long endured. I do deeply sympathiz with them and would help if I could. This is too lengthy or I would try to tell them of some of the joys I have found in the kingdom Jesus set up.
S. E. COPELAND. DEAR SISTER CAYCE :
Just last week I sent you a report of good meetings and additions to several of our churches here in Mt. Zion. Then I heard from the church at Zion Hill. Two had joined there.
Last Saturday and Sunday I was at Mt. Moriah. Elders W. D. Green and H. B. Awtrey are joint pastors there, a father and son in the ministry, and they really do team harmoniously together, as a loving father and a dutiful son. There is not the least trace of jealousy, but each always preferring the other before himself. Brother Green will be 75 next month, and he, like this old scribbler, seems to enjoy good meetings more and more as he nears that greatest of all meetings with the saints of God around His throne in eternal heaven. We all love him, and it is good to see him rejoice in such heavenly places as we were in this Saturday and Sunday just past. Elder Awtrey is our latest ordained preacher and we are not ashamed of him, because he behaves himself in the house of God, as Paul told the young preachers to do. Now I wish that I were able to even half describe this last meeting. We were there, on time Saturday. Both elders preached good after an humble introduction by Brother Georg Yancey. Then the church held their conference in peace and love. One dear brother joined by letter. They were all glad to have him. Both preachers and Brother Yancey and I spent a very pleasant night with young Brother Gene Lancaster and his wife. Both are faithful members and they were so good to us all. Sunday morning all met in time to have a good song service before the preaching hour. While out on the yard, we learned that some had a mind to offer themselves for membership that day, which of course was good news to all. Both elders preached with even better liberty, we thought, than the day before. We sang a song and four came forward, begging a home in the dear old church. Our joy increased. They were gladly received for baptism. We then dismissed for the lunch hour, after which we gathered back in the house, communed and washed one another's feet. This is always a most solemn, sweet service to this unworthy writer. Supper being ended, we sang a song and took the parting hand as our custom is. Several who were not members took part in the hand shake and returned to their seats in a flood of tears. Elder Green, seeing their condition, hesitated a moment, then, instead of praying the benediction, he said, "The church is still here. If some of you feel that you just cannot go home satisfied without talking to the church, just get up and come. We will gladly hear what you have to say." Three more arose and came, telling the good news we all love to hear. By this time, several cups were so full they overflowed in loud praise to God, and we don't blame Brother Green for feeling that it was the best meeting he was ever in. It was little heaven to all of us for a few minutes, and it is no doubt a great revival for the old church there. I hope we all thank God for it.
S. E. COPELAND.
DEAR SISTER CAYCE: Yesterday and the day before was our meeting time at Little Branch, in Albertville. It was good both days. Elder H. B. Awtrey was with us and his preaching was good—done in love and humility, in a way to unify and edify God's people, seeming always to desire their welfare above and before his own. It was our calling time and we called Elders Awtrey and H. P. Copeland to , serve us as pastors, the vote being unanimous. I hope we all try to thank God for such unity, for, as the Book teaches, it is so good and pleasant for brethren and sisters to dwell together in unity. God grant that our dearly beloved band keep on in this good way while I live and after I am gone. I could not die satisfied if they were not in peace, union, and love. We had quite a number of visitors and were glad to have them. All were very attentive and we hope they saw and heard things that will cause them to come again, and often. With God's continued mercy and blessings we hope for another prosperous year in His service as He has so abundantly blessed us these past three years. These experiences ought to teach all of us that when we prove Him by doing right, as He bids us, He will not fail to pour us out a blessing.
We received a worthy new member this meeting, and that always makes us glad. Many more are lingering around on the outside. They don’t know how much they are missing. It is the same way around all of our churches, but several have made themselves and us glad the past few weeks by coming home to the several churches.
The district meeting at Gum Pond was a three days glorious feast. Surely it was one of the most wonderful manifestations of the presence of God with His peoeple that a poor mortal has witnessed and enjoyed in a long time. The brightest evidence of the Spirit of Jesus with His heaven born and heaven bound child, and a more beautiful baptism in water, I surely never witnessed. If it were not a three days foretaste of heaven, I don’t know what to call it.
One is awaiting baptism at Harmony, and others there seem almost persuaded to be Christians. Three days at Mt. Vernon, just a week after Gum Pond, was also a joyful meeting. Elder Hunt baptized three there. Mt. Vernon is one church with three ordained preachers who have membership there, all living and serving together as brethren should, and if there has ever been one bit of jealousy there, I have failed in these several years’ close observation to detect it. Can you blame the church for prospering under such examples to the flock? I move that they continue on just as they have been traveling together, and I believe all three will second the motion and then unanimously vote for it. Oh, that Old Baptist preachers everywhere would follow Elders W. 0. Hunt, W. P. Green, and W. M. Cook in this good example! Could the churches help to bring about such a happy condition for themselves? I think they could.
S. E. COPELAND.
FOOLISH TALKING IS SIN
If the thoughts only of foolishness is sin, then what about all of this foolish talking and jesting that so many of us are guilty of ? If to merely think of foolishness is sin, is it not a worse sin to talk foolishness? Does not the Holy Scriptures severely condemn such practice? Do we not often feel condemned in our guilty consciences after engaging in such? I do. The wise man tells us that the hearts and mouths of fools poureth out foolishness. Proverbs. Read it through. And the great apostle, in Eph 5:3-4, classes foolish talking and jesting with some other very ugly things. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving thanks." Let us read the next few verses and learn (if we do not already know) that such things have no place in the church of God, and that we may expect His wrath to be poured out upon us if we are guilty. There are more good things to talk about than all of us put together can ever begin to tell, so how can any Old Baptist, whether preacher or layman, afford to waste his time in talking foolishness or jesting? Yet some, even preachers, who are supposed to be ensamples to the flock, do entirly too much of such.
Elder Folmar said in a recent article that "profanity has no place in the church and vulgar jokes are worse than profanity." I agree with him. One of the most disgusting things I ever heard was a preacher telling filthy anecdotes even before men of the world. I hope I never hear it again. I am glad we don't have many of that sort. And rought jokes of any kind are too bad. A little clean fun is probably all right, but we are all apt to go to extremes even with that. Too rough joking or jesting is at least a waste of time by any Old Baptist, and when indulged in even by prechers in the stand it is altogether out of place, turns what should be divine service into more of a frolic and may cause real hurt to the Cause we are supposed to love and should love far more than worldly foolishness. Our poor minds are depraved at best. Let an able gift talk for fifty-five minutes of the good things, preaching the pure gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then five minutes telling some such stuff above mentioned. Which do you suppose will be remembered most by the average congregation? A hint to the wise ought to be sufficient. Preachers, please show us by your walk and talk that the church and stand are too sacred for foolishness. And you cannot show us by trying to out-joke your brother preacher either in or out of the stand. Yours in love,
S. E. COPELAND.
COMMENT—Brother Copeland has very frankly discussed a very important matter, and all of us who profess to love the church should heed his admonitions. A little clean fun is probably all right, but we should be careful not to destroy the solemnity of the hour of service by indulging in too much frivolity. And especially should we have too much respect for the house of God and our profession to indulge in telling smutty jokes before the world. Let's be careful.
R. K. BLACKSHEAR.
HOW TO SEE BETTER TIMES IN THE CHURCH
Dear Brethren—I think my subscription expired in September. I am enclosing two dollars to pay for the rest of this year and all of 1948, if I have figured right.
I see some mighty good reading in the November 20th issue. I have learned from Sister J. C. Morgan's good article the kind of Christian I am, if one at all—an ungrateful and unthankful one. She told a lot of truth in that short piece. Elder C. L. Waldrip's piece on discipline was fine, too. If all Old Baptists would study and learn, and then execute discipline, as plainly taught by Jesus and His disciples, no doubt there would be more lively and healthier churches with not so many dead members in them.
Likewise, Elder J. C. Morgan's reprinted article, from 1936 Trumpet, is extra fine and one that is much needed in so many parts, or all over the land. Attendance is too small in nearly all of our churches. Brother Waldrip, Elder Morgan and I all agree that there is no lawful (Bible) excuse for it. If we all would pay more earnest heed to those three articles mentioned above, and the many good things we have heard and read (the Bible full of them) then what wonderfully good times we would have in every Primitive Baptist Church! And yet, notwithstanding all of our lazy, drowsy, sleepy, slothful, dragginess, we have so much to be thankful for. Here in the Mt. Zion Association, of northern Alabama, we have peace among our churches and with orderly Old Baptists everywhere as far as I know.
It seems that the Lord has blessed us with a fairly prosperous year of 1947. We have had many good meetings and quite a number of additions to the churches in the past few months. We have a large association of twenty-two churches and this old scribbler has been blest to go far and near to meetings every weekend and some in between. Have seen and heard many come telling the good news and being baptized. These and our many good communion and feet washing meetings, I have especially enjoyed. About half of our churches engage in this sweet service twice each year and the rest once a year. This, I suppose, has always been their custom from their organization one-hundred-twenty-five years ago.
I saw my grandparents engage in it sixty-five or more years ago. And now it has been my privilege and joy for more than thirty-three years to do so—some times, about or near twenty during the year. Quite a number of young people have come in to live with us and the good part is they seem as much devoted to our great cause as the older members. Ages range from nine years up. It has been my pleasure and great joy to see them from nine to eighty-four following our Saviour's example by washing one another's feet. Sometimes father and son, mother and daughter, brother (in the flesh) and brother, sister and sister, and in the last one for this year, a faithful old grandfather and his equally faithful grandson, both in tears of joy as they did so. Truly we do know by many years actual experience that "if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
Now, somehow I just wanted to write you a• few lines, and if you think this is worth the space you may publish it.
Yours in hope,
S. E. COPELAND.
A HEAVEN BELOW
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
Though improfitable as I am, I still go far and near to the several church meetings in the bounds of our beloved Mt. Zion Association, and to some on the outside. I have had feasts of joy in many of them this year. Have witnessed the ingathering of a number of the Lord's little children in different parts of our large association. Have seen Elders Cook, Graves and Copeland baptize a number each. I hear of others of our humble servants baptizing some. They all seem to be of one mind—preaching peace by Jesus Christ and steering clear of jealousy and hobbies, which has been and is yet so destructive to the peace and union of God's little children in some sections of our land and country. God help us to be thankful and to appreciate this more, for surely it is a gift from Him to us.
We have enjoyed several heavenly communion and feet washing meetings in each month from May 1, to this date, September. We are traveling on in the good old Bible way our fathers have trod for the last one hundred and thirteen years. We expect to continue so doing as long as the Lord keeps us here. We do not need nor want any bars to distrub our peace and separate us. All we want is to continue on in peace among ourselves and with orderly, peace loving Baptists everywhere. God has blessed us these many years, and as long as He is a wall around us, we surely do not need any cross fences between us.
I started to tell about some good meetings, especially one last Sunday at Rocky Mount, where we communed and washed feet. It was a little heaven below to this unworthy writer. My nephew, H. P. Copeland, baptized one at nine thirty o'clock. Then we went to the house where Elders Graves and Cook preached with power and demonstration of the Spirit of the Almighty God. Some of us almost forgot which one of the boys we were. After the noon intermission, we all gathered back in the house for communion and feet washing service. Many of the little children of God on the wilderness side of Jordan seemed to be looking with longing eyes over into the happy Canaan land. An opportunity was given for any so affected to come in. One dear brother came; and the wife of the brother who was baptized at nine thirty came. A brother and sister called me to them and informed me that their little daughter just nine years old was crying as if her little heart would break wishing to know if she was old enough to join the church. She said she just could not go away satisfied without joining. I said, "Yes, if she is old enough to see and love the church, she is old enough to join." I called attention of the pastor and told the church that there was such a little girl in the congregation. The pastor said, "Sure! any such little child of God is old enough to join the church." Then she came forward and told the church in her own sweet, childish manner how she had gone to visit with her little kindred and playmates, but was in trouble and could not stay; so she returned to her home, her troubles still with her. Then she came to meeting and "heard that good preaching today, and now I want to join the church and be baptized." She was received with seeming joy to her, and not only her but a congregation of grown-ups as well. She was baptized, together with the other sister, on Monday morning following, by Elder H. P. Copeland. He came out of the water saying it was just as joyful on Monday as on Sunday. And so it is. Many more on the outside could hardly stay away. Why do they rebel and pull back to their own hurt?
Yours in hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND.
TRESPASSES AND OFFENSES
Somehow I keep thinking about some things I have heard and also read in a little book recently. Some one tor ones said or wrote that there is a difference between adultery and fornication when it comes to church membership; that one guilty of adultery could not be retained in fellowship, but a fornicator could be retained, if, after the act and each repetition of it, he repents and asks forgiveness—that the church is duty bound to forgive "not until seven times, but until seventy times seven!" I wonder ! In such a case as that I can see no repentance whatever, but continued gross immorality, tolerated by any church that would so forgive such an immoral, gross offender. Fornication most certainly is not the trespass (nor one of them) which Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother "until seventy times seven," but it is an offense against the whole body or church, and to keep the body out of hell fire (timely—not eternal) the offender must be cut off, withdrawn from as we are told to do in Mt 18. "If thy brother shall trespass against thee go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." If this is done as directed the church need not know and should not know anything about it. Tell him his fault alone, not take Satan along to help you out. If both are "alone" in the right spirit then confession and forgiveness will no doubt be the result in most cases and the church not troubled. Trespasses or faults are not grossly immoral and do not offend the whole body or church as do either adultery or fornication. Any "right eye" or "right hand," any member whether preacher, deacon, important or unimportant, if guilty, must be the body. All such "offend thee," put out for the sake of health in the church, and His postive command is, "Cut them 'off and cast them out." To offend is to displease, to affront, to mortify, to annoy, to shock, to pain, to sin against. Paul, by inspiration of God, is strictly against such offenders. He said not to company with them, nor eat with them but put them away from among you. So here we have both Jesus and Paul against retaining fornicators in the church —not a word said about hearing their acknowledgements and forgiving them "until seventy times seven" nor until "seven times seven" nor even one time forgive that or any other public offense against the body—church of God. Read especially carefully and study 1Co 5; 6; Ga 5, and Eph 5. Know ye not that such public offenders shall not inherit the kingdom or church of God? "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God." Some then in the church were once guilty, living in such things, but now they are washed with the washing of regeneration (Tit 3:5) and must not any more disgrace themselves and the church by indulging in such wickedness; for as Paul goes on to say, "And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God." So now since God has by His grace and power so washed and cleaned up His children and given them a home in His church kingdom, if they again do such wicked deeds, His law says "to deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Adultery is defined as violation of the marriage bed. All manner of lewdness or unchastity. Fornication—the incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female. So now again I will ask, why exclude an adulterer and retain a fornicator in our fellowship? It is the same immoral act, only called by different names. If committed by married persons it is adultery, if by unmarried persons it is fornication. By both names alike it is strictly forbidden and severely condemned in the Scriptures. I do wonder how long before Old Baptist churches will remember that the Scriptures are by inspiration of God, a thorough furnisher unto every good work, discipline as well as all other, and study to rightly divide or apply them in righteous execution of God's holy laws?
A good member of another order of people said to me, "You Primitive Baptists don't allow your members to do just any way. You turn them out for wrong doings. Our members can do just anything or any way and there is nothing said about it. It is not noticed." Now if every Old Baptist church in the world would be sure that she measured up to that high standard, what a different world ours would be! We would not read from any Old Baptist that a gross offender could be forgiven month after month if he only "repented" and asked for it, and be retained in full fellowship of the church. If fornicators can be forgiven and retained even after 'oft repeated acts, if they will only "be sorry" they did it and "repent" and ask forgiveness, then let's suppose there is a cnurch of fifty or any number of members, none, of whom are married and all willing to hear "acknowledgements" and forgive each other as often as they might be guilty of fornication! Imagine such a "law" and depraved human nature working to-gather in a "church!" (A house of ill frame might be a better name for it.) No wonder we hear of divisions and sun divisions in countries where Old Baptists have overiooked and forgotten Bible discipline following after and holding on to some man or men. We are living in perilous times and it is high time that all of us were reading, thinking, and studying for ourselves instead of Just sioshing along with the crowd, or blindly following some would-be leader whose zeal and pretended devotion to the cause may be only to cover up or keep hid some of his own immoral or heretical doings. No church body is too ignorant and poor to read and learn and know God's perfect law Tor the government of ins church. So we have no lawful reason nor excuse for not knowing how and when to deal with onenders or to do anything else that He tells us to do. We should know how to behave ourselves in the house of God. We should know how to keep His house in order, then if we practiced what we knew, disorder could not enter there. If one should become an heretic or bring in damnable heresies we would know to admonish him the first and scond time and then reject or exclude him from our fellowship if he refused to heed our admonitions. We would not hear again the question put to me by a business man not long since. His question was, "The Primitive Baptists have about quit excluding their members for not paying their debts, haven't they?" My answer was, "If you don't think my home church will exclude in short order just let one of us try refusing to pay; so will any other Primitive Baptist church that rather keep her good name than lose it." Sad to think about one not doing so. Now I would offer this suggestion: during the coming long nights and winter days let's read and study the Bible more and by springtime we will know more than we do now. God help us to try it.
S. E. COPELAND
BROTHERLY LOVE MANIFESTED
We have just returned from the Mud Creek Association. It was another good three days of joyful feasting, both spiritual and natural. They had changed their usual custom and had dinner on the ground all three days. And it was plentiful and good, too. We, of the Mt. Zion Association, thank them and appreciate this change to "our way." We got to hear so much more preaching, and that was all good and better. I think they, too, will like the change to "our way." We love our dear sister, Mud Creek, and this old sinner has no more sense than to feel at home over there. They are some of the very best Old Baptists, yet they acknowledge their kinship to us and even seem proud of it. Our Association was two weeks before theirs. They visited and corresponded with us fifty-three strong, including two preachers. Then we went to see them fifty-four strong, including five preachers, and were not even ashamed to gang up on them that way. I began visiting them about thirty years ago. I loved them then, but better now. Mt. Zion has always been my home association and seem dearestcefih f- 'jw.ha e- EOETTTH old Mud Creek has gotten so close to my old heart that I can tell but little difference now.
We are surely one people, as their beloved moderator said, greatly blest of the Lord. Mud Creek is 125 years old, and in peace these many years. Mt. Zion is only two or three years younger, and in peace with her, and all orderly Baptists everywhere. She is north of the Tennessee River (except one church) and we are south of it. God has blessed both her and us with humble, able preachers to oversee and lead in His fear and favor. And this year, as in every year, He sent able, humble servants to visit her and us. In the Mud Creek meeting, four or five states were represented, and seven or eight associations ; in ours, ten states and nineteen associations. How they did make us glad with great joy in both meetings, all in sweet, brotherly love and true fellowship one to another! May we so live in honor and praise to His great name till the end. In love to all who so love one another.
S. E. COPELAND
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
If we were never in the valley low, we would not know how to fully appreciate being lifted on eagles' wings to the mountain top. During the past few weeks this poor scribbler has experienced both. Elders Morton and Cooper came and spent one week with us in the Mt. Zion Association. With the help of the Lord both preached ably and to the comfort of His little children. Five of them joined; one the first day, and four the last day of their little tour. Brother B. H. Hood's youngest daughter joined at Mt. Moriah and was baptized by Elder Morton the same day, manifesting the brightest evidence of the work of grace in the heart, both before and after baptism. And now that ought to be one of the happiest families, for every member of it is in the Primitive Baptist Church. It is something to thank and praise God for, and I think they do. Then, after all of the feasts in between, four joined at my home church on the last day. One old brother, 77, had put it off for a long time, but said he felt like he would die if he didn't offer that day. That made sixteen additions to our church in the past eleven months. It was our communion and feet washing time, and this poor old unworthy had the happy privilege of washing the feet of five brethren, two of them young boys of the same family. Then, oh, how little did I feel when those dear boys, both at once, got down to wash my feet! So little, yet so happy, for "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Almost forgot who I am. Such meetings make one forgot all that was ever said or done to hurt him, and sometimes he can even forget that he is sick. Three deacons have been ordained, one each for Mt. Moriah, Salem, and Mt. Joy. Also, at Mt. Joy, Brother H. B. Awtrey was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry. He is a gift from God to us, for which I hope we are truly thankful to Him. That, too, was a sweet and most impressive service. Surely the Lord was with dear Elder Dallas in prayer, and David Green in giving the charge to both Elder Awtrey and Deacon Davis. Elder W. T. Cook spent four days with us, and that was like good old times before he moved away and left us. He has promised to come again and be with us in our new church building at Little Branch. He looked the building over, both inside and out, and shed tears of joy and thankfulness to God for blessing us to build 'it. And I hope that we, one and all, are just as thankful, for without His great blessing we could not have built, paid for, and had it entirely free of debt, as we have it. We thank bur brethren, sisters, and many good friends, and give God the praise and glory for it all. In our communion meeting there were about sixteen churches and six associations represented. So why shouldn't we praise God and forget who we are?
S. E. COPELAND
My Campbellite friends find much fault with my writings in the paper and also my arguments with them face to face. I don't mean any harm by calling them Campbellites. Don't know what else to call them. I can't call them Christian with a dear conscience, for a Christian is one who believes and follows Christ, and they neither believe Him nor follow Him. He went and demanded baptism at the hands of a Baptist preacher and was baptized by him. Our modern Campbellite friend would not follow Him here for a "forty dollar william." Jesus washed His disciples feet, giving them an example, and told them that they ought to wash each other's feet, but Alexander's followers say, No! Nonsense! Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death into life." But they don't believe His doctrine. They say, "No everlasting or eternal life till after the death of this body ; no eternal life for anyone while in this world." Jesus says : A man must be born of the Spirit or he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, and Paul says we are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. But our friends laugh loud and long at the idea of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the Sinner's heart. So, instead of being Christians they are unbelievers.
I picked up the Book and read Joh 5:24 to one of them as proof that eternal life begins with God's children while they live here. He said, "Is that the way you are going to argue it?" I said, "Certainly." He said, "Well, there is no use to fool with you any longer," and turned and went out the door. Thus abruptly ended an argument on various points that had lasted for many days, as we worked side by side in the post office.
They demanded that I answer some things, and some of my brethren, and a good "Highlander" have requested it. One of the Campbellite boys in another county, and another in an adjoining state (who seems to be overstocked with ego) both make a great blow about the disciples being called Christians firt at Antioch, pretending that it was the Lord who first called them by that name. But it is plainly evident that He did not. They can't prove in a month of Sundays that it was not the enemies of the disciples that called them Christians—just like the enemies of God's people today, pointing the finger of scorn at "those silly, ignorant old Hardshells." They insist so vehemently on being called Christians, or Christian Church, and proudly boast that we can't find the name "Primitive Baptist Church" in the Bible. We don't find the name in so many words, but we do find the Primitive (first) Baptist preacher, and the Son of God, our Saviour, went to him for baptism. I wonder why He did not go to a "Christian" preacher for baptism—the modern self-named variety of "Christian?" The answer is easy. They had not been invented. And will they please show us where Jesus named His church "The Christian Church?" I wonder why He did not call the man sent from God "John the Christian?" But He didn't. He called him John the Baptist. And if one must (as they say) be born of water to make him a Christian why did John refuse to make Christians 'of some who came to him for baptism? First, because they had not been regenerated and born of the Spirit; they could not relate an experience of grace; and second, water 'baptism is not a birth. Look at it good and see. They argue that the Spirit is the father and the water the mother of the child of God. They are forced to forget here their contention that there is no' direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the sinner in order to bring in their little water god. For they never fail to make for the water every time you stir them up. We are reminded of a certain big-mouthed little creature that does likewise.
One refers me to Isaiah where he says they should be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name. And we find where He did call somebody a Baptist, but where did He call one Christian?
One of the boys asks: "Do not the children wear the name of the parents?" Well, not every one. Possibly you have seen some who did not wear their father's name nor did not even know who he was. If it be true that the Spirit is the father and the water the mother of God's children, and their is Christian, then they do not wear the name of either parent ! Really I would not know how nor what name a child whose father was a spirit and whose mother was water. "Christian" would not do any better than Campbellite, for that is not the name of either parent. Spirit-Christian would not suit your idea, for that would at least infer that there had been a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. So! I see no other way out for you only to call him "Water-Christian" and let him go without a Father.
The same boy informed me (by letter) that the Bible nowhere says that God called John a Baptist. Please read Mt 11:11 and Lu 7:28 and see. I believe 'Jesus tells us that He and the Father are one, and that He does the things that He sees His Father do.
Another bit of "information" from the same source. He says Jesus never was in His church! Well, now maybe he is right, for he contends that what he calls the Christian Church is Jesus' Church, and we all know that Jesus never was in that watery thing. But how does it happen that He was never in His church when He built it? Did He do all of His work from the outside? What would you think of a man if he told you that he built a house and finished it, both inside and out, without ever being in it? You would have some doubt in your mind, wouldn't you?
Well, anyway, if He was not 'in it He was under it, and it has a good foundation, for He said, "On this Rock (meaning Himself) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." You say He went back to heaven without even being in it. We have seen that He was under it, upholding it by His mighty power, and so, according to your argument, He must have carried it to Heaven with Him; so He has no church here on earth now and your claim on it is false.
While He was here He often lovingly invited or commanded His children who were weary and heavy laden to "Come unto me." What did He set His church up for, anyway? Would He set it up here for His children and then go off out yonder somewhere and call them away from it? You won't stand for people joining the 'church, but is that the way you are going to have Him add them to it—by going out on the outside and calling them away from it? If so, you are about wrong, as usual.
The truth of the matter is, Jesus went into His church by the door, baptism, and He bids His children follow Him—not go out yonder some place where He has not been. He
was baptized by a man sent from God, a Baptist, the Primitive Baptist, and He said "Follow me." He was baptized because "thus it becometh us (His children and Himself) to fulfill all righteousness"—not in order that our sins be remitted and we be made children of God. Neither was it being born of Water, for there is no likeness of a birth in it. It is a burial and resurrection.
You say Jesus was not baptized to make Him a child of God, or a Christian, but to fulfill the righteousness of the first or old law. Then why don't you follow Him, and baptize for the same purpose (Since you insist so on being called by His name), instead of baptizing a child of the evil in order to get his sins remitted, and to make him a child of God or a Christian?
He asks, "Did not the apostles preach salvation in the name of the Lord or Christ ?" Yes, they did, but our friends, the Campbellites, preach it in the name of water, mostly. So different from the apostles!
He says, "If a man can be saved outside of the Baptist Church, then it is not the church of Christ, for God added the saved to the church of Christ." To which I will say, if his order is the church of Christ, and they preach the truth, He did not do a good job of saving and adding them, for they all preach, the possibilty and probability of apostacy. I heard one of their great debaters say he believed that more than half of them (his own people) would finally apostatize and go to hell. If that is true, and Jesus had added them, where is any perfection in His work? Was He mistaken when He said "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out ;" and "No man is able to pluck them out of my hand?"
They just can't escape the conclusion that, by their own admission, their self-styled Christian Church is not a safe place for God's children to dwell in. How can it be? There is too much water there ; and by his own admission and declaration Jesus never was in it. So there is no power there to save them from drowing. So much for a false theory that can't stand the light of God's eternal truth, nor hold shucks.
"And in that day seven women (all of the false manmade religious orders) shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel (but some go thinly clad): only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." But "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious," "and there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain."—Isa 4. "That day" is the gospel day, and the tabernacle, a place of refuge for God's children from the heat, storm and rain of false doctrines is the Primitive Baptist Church, God's church, the one safe place of rest for His weary heavy-laden children!
S. E. COPELAND
THIS DEACON BUSINESS
We read in Ac 6, that when the number of the disciples was greatly multiplied there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. Webster defines the word, "ministration," as the act of performing service as subordinate agent; agency ; ministry. It seems that up until this time the preachers, or elders, had been doing all of the business of the church. But now the number had grown until the work was more than should be expected of them to do it all. Then they called a meeting of the multitude of disciples and said, "It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. B.ut we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word." And the saying pleased the whole multitude of disciples. So they chose seven men and set them before the apostles, who then prayed and laid their hands on them.
Thus they were appointed over "this business," as subordinates, to help and relieve the preachers of some of the burden which had grown too heavy for them to bear it all by themselves. Those seven men, I think, were the first deacons appointed and ordained in the early Primitive Baptist Church. And. I think this number, seven, means something as used in the Bible; in this instance, maybe, all in that church or congregation that were qualified, or as many as were needed at that time to do "this business," or all that possessed the necessary quailfications as stated by the apostles. And what was "this business" over which they were appointed? Not just to pass around the bread and the wine at communion time, as some churches seem to think; that is only a very small part (if it is a part) of their work. Some have contended that to be qualified for the office of deacon, one must be able to exercise in a public way, as prayer and exhortation. That is good, and I have no objection to any who may have those gifts, exercising them to the edifying of the body. But I do think it is wrong to try to work a foot into the place of the hand in the body. That disfigures the body, and is not edifying to the body. The. apostles were appointing those seven men over some business they desired to be relieved of, and they had good reason for it—that they themselves might devote all of their time to prayer and preaching, or the ministry of the Word. It was not reason that they should have to leave their part of the work, their part or their gifts, to serve tables. And the Lord so blest them in their labors that a great many came into the church in Jerusalem, including a great company of the priests. Read Acts, sixth chapter. It pleased the church in that instance to do as the apostles told them to do, and the Lord smiled His approval, and showered His great blessings on the church at Jerusalem, adding many to her number—a great revival.
Now what are the deacons to do, since they have been ordained to relieve and assist the elders in the service of God in His church? I think theirs is the financial side, and the looking out for the temporal welfare and good of the church in a general way. Their qualifications are the same in many respects, but we have not seen many deacons who could dig up and reveal to our view and understanding the many great, sweet, and beautiful things contained in the Scriptures, thus feeding the flock of God. The very first qualification mentioned for a deacon, is that of "honest report," just as the bishop or elder "must have a good report of them which are without." A dishonest deacon cannot be trusted to handle the money and goods of the church any more than a dishonest preacher could be trusted. Neither is he fit for the office, nor for membership in the church. His place is outside. Just as the elders are expected and required to be all united and pulling together, so must the deacons be a one, all working harmoniously in brotherly love and true fellowship for the good of the whole body, or church. If we are not working that way, something or somebody is not just right, and it may be that the church should look into the matter without delay. If a united ministry is necessary for the health and prosperity of the church (and it is), then a united deaconship, or deaconry, is just as essential.
I have seen deacons divide and throw the whole church into confusion so deep that it was turned almost into torment, or as our Lord said in His Sermon on the Mount, in Mt 18, "Cast into hellfire." When He tells us to pluck out the offending eye, I think He meant the guilty preacher (elder). And when He said cut off the offending hand, He meant any deacon that destroys the peace of the church. The Book is such a thorough furnisher and so plain as to what our duties are that I can see no room for any differences if we will study them closely, prayerfully, talk and reason together over what the Scriptures do teach, and each one understand and know what and how to do before we do it—not as in a case or two referred to above—one wants to do this way and another wants to do that way, so they begin to pull apart; trying to reason with and show one where he was wrong and proving it by the Scriptures, his only reply was, "I don't see it that way." Or as one said not long since, "That is not my way of seeing it." If I contend for "my way," and refuse to consider or even to look at the Bible way, what ought my church to do? I think they ought, without further delay, to let me know what I am and where my place is, and then to look them out a deacon possessing at least some (all) of the qualifications as laid down in Ac 6, and 1Ti 3.
Some that have been ordained instead of deacons seem to care no more about the good and welfare of the church than a pig cares for Sunday. Some give nothing even for the bare traveling expenses of their poor pastors, and they never say a word about any one else doing that or any other duty. One wanted to be sure, before he gave anything, that the pastor needed it worse than he did. So he sat still in conference while his brother deacon tried to do something needful and good and Scriptural, then came back to meeting the next day and created a great disturbance over what was done the day before. Thus one deacon wanted to do right, and the other wanted to (or did) do wrong. One may easily guess how good (?) and pleasant (?) they and their brethren dwelt together in unity (?). These are some of the things I have seen in my time among the Old Baptists. I am not writing about them as I do meaning any harm or to be one bit harsh or bitter against any man on earth, but if I know my old heart, it is for the interest I have in our great cause. I know there are some good deacons, and I think the churches are more or less to blame for not having all good ones or none.
Some get in too big a hurry to ordain them a "deacon," just as they sometimes get in a hurry to ordain a "preacher." Sometimes men are candidates for deacons, as some are candidates for preachers. I don't think they are like those original seven deacons were. The first one was full of faith and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people. It seems that he was almost or quite a preacher and deacon. Wouldn't we be glad to have a few like him in this sinful world today? My parents saw fit to give this old sinner his name, but I fear that God hasn't seen fit to give me the least of His gifts—not His faith and power, I know. I am weak and woefully ignorant, but thank God we do have some good deacons even today.
A deacon in a sister church was withdrawn from for a public offense. Another member then asked my brother (in the flesh) to have him ordained to fill the vacancy. My brother, nor the rest of the church, did not feel it their duty to respond favorably, and just ignored the request. Another deacon, attending more or less to "this business," asked the pastor about the cost of his railroad ticket for the round trip. When the pastor answered, "Four dollars and eighty-five cents," he was handed a five-dollar bill and asked for fifteen cents change. I wonder if he, knowing that the pastor had preached the gospel, thought he and his family could live of the gospel—all except train fare. That is not the way Paul taught it to the 'Corinthians. Another deacon received the contributions as they were handed in, ran up the total and then divided it by two—gave the preacher half and put the other half in his own purse, saying that he was entitled to half of it by reason of his office. I did not know before that deacons were supposed to work for a fifty per cent commission, nor I don't yet know that much. I would feel most guilty if I tried it, and I would expect to be attended to pretty soon by my brethren. They might remind me that I was "relieving" the preachers of the wrong burden—too much "relief."
If every deacon would study to know his duty, all work and pull together for the right understanding, allowing no jealousy to arise, how great would be the change. God help us to try it.
S. E. COPELAND.
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
Please let me tell our readers a bit of good news, feeling that some can rejoice with us. It has been a long time since our little band at Little Branch had been blessed with any additions by experience and baptism. We often had good preaching by our pastors and visiting elders, and many little ones around the fold seemed to be looking with long ing eyes, across Jordan, and we yearned to see them come, but for some cause they didn't come. Our old house had gone down to the point of decay, and we, being few in number and poor in this world's goods, were sometimes on the verge of despair, but could not quite give up and quit. Then we thought of trying to re-build and try again. Brethren and friends have helped us beyond all expectations, and it seems to this old unworthy writer that the good Lord has blessed our every effort, and with His continued blessing we hope soon to have a good house to meet and serve Him in. Our last two meetings have been heavenly places. In our August meeting three of the Lord's humble little ones came telling the good news, and in our September meeting five more came, among them a little girl 10 years old. Sweetly, humbly, and in tears, she said, "I feel that the Lord has saved my soul, and I love the Old Baptists, and want to be baptized, and have a home with you all." A young boy of 13 had a hope in Christ, and had been wanting to join the Old Baptists and be baptized for about a year. The others were young to middle age. Some could tell no certain time nor place when and Where they had a change and their love for God and His people began, yet they loved them and wanted to live with them. So much like little Ruth, of old. She was a precious child of God, and so are you, dear children, who feel and love as she did. Read about her in the Bible in the book of Ruth. An experience like that always touches a tender place in the heart of this old sinner, for that is all he can tell. Many more are lingering around. We want all who love the Primitive Baptist Church, for she is the church of God, and none but His children can love her. On Sunday morning, September 3, we assembled on the shore of the T. V. A. late, here, near my home, and that little humble servant of God, Elder S. J. B. Dallas, led nine into the water, all in a row—eight for our (Little Branch) church, and one for Bethlehem. It seems that God is blessing the labors of Elder Dallas in this country. It was indeed a beautiful sight to behold and to feel in our hearts. Someone or more said I forgot something, and they probably were right. I must have forgotten how little and poor and sorry I am. Thank God for that day.
S. E. COPELAND.
A GOOD ASSOCIATION
PRECIOUS BROTHER CAYCE:
Please let me report some more good news. I, just a few days ago, wrote about some of our late good meetings, but this time it is about a better one, because it lasted longer and there were more people present. It Was the three-day one hundred and twentieth session of our beloved Mt. Zion Association. We are about one hundred twenty-two years old; but for some cause one session, back in the 1890's was not held, and one, -I think, was missed before that time. For many years we had wanted and hoped to have Brother Cayce in our associational meeting. He has several times visited among our churches, but this was his first time to be with us in our associational session. We were more than glad to have him. And the good Lord blessed him to make glad the hearts of both old and young when he preached the introductory sermon on Friday morning and the closing discourse on Sunday. We were also glad to see him much improved in health, and our prayers are that he may yet be spared many years to stand on the walls of Zion, the fearless and bold watchman and defender the Lord has made him to His poor and needy people. We did not have as many visiting preachers as we are accustomed to having, but those that did come were gladly received, and even though they were used the second, or third time, they yet failed to give satisfaction. I mean by this that after they had preached two or three times each, they still left our people wanting to hear more from them. It was my first time to meet. and hear Elder C. M. Mills, but, if the Lord wills, I hope not the last time. To know him and to hear him preach with the wonderful gift that God has given him is to love him. I had known and loved Elder J. A. Mon-sees for a number of years, but it was his first visit with us. Had heard him preach in other associational meeting, both in Georgia and in Alabama, but, like the water that was made wine, the last is the best. Elder S. W. Etheredge is no stranger, he having been with us before, and we (some of us) with him in his own country. As far as I know (and I know them pretty well) all Mt. Zion loves him and what he preaches, and we hope he keeps on coming. And now my mentioning Elder W. T. Cook last, does not mean that he is any worse or uglier than the others, for when he preaches with his usual good liberty he is almost good-looking. He is our boy. He joined and was baptized into this church with whom we met this time. I was there at the time, and still remember some of his good talk to the church, and that he closed with: "Now this is all I have. If you can't take me in on it, just throw me away, for I am not worth your notice, and I will still love you." Then we all took him in our arms, and we are not ready yet to throw him away. They all preached good, for I believe the good Lord was with them all, and the meeting was good and better to wonderful all the way through, to include (as the moderator was making a few closing remarks) the coming of three of God's little humble children telling of their hopes for Him and His people and asking for a home in the church, two joining Little Branch, and the other, Zion Hill. The last named is a little sister, the youngest daughter of Elder J. D. Putman and Sister Putman. They were happy, of course, and I did not know but what every one else was unless it was some that went away sorrowful because they did not do as these three did. This makes ten added to our dear old church at Little Branch in the last two months, all by experience and baptism, and it makes this old sinner feel a whole lot like praising God for His wonderful blessings to the children of men. And these are not all that need to come. These add nearly fifty per cent to the number in our little church, but if they all bring the same spiritual fruits these have brought, we will not get scared and hollo "too many" till over 3,000 come. Acts, second chapter; read it. The one sad feature about the meeting was the absence of our dear departed moderator, Elder Graves. Elder H. P. Copeland was elected moderator. He has such an unworthy uncle is all that is wrong with him ; but he can't help that—and yet he is not a "Can't-Help-It."
S. E. COPELAND
AN ENJOYABLE VISIT
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
In all of my going to and fro over this northern half of Alabama, I had missed just one county, and one of our corresponding associations. Last Friday afternoon, Elder W. P. Green and I went to our beloved Brother and Sister H. L. Crumbly's home near Woodville. Saturday morning, we and they went in my car to Hurricane Springs Church, the Second Creek Association, Anderson, Lauderdale County, in Alabama. My first visit and also Elder Green's first to said county and Association. We did not feel one bit lonesome for we found our own kindred there—brethren and sisters, all speaking our own language; just as if we had all been of the same family and all taught in the same school. Somehow, I do believe it is just that way. For, if we were not at home in our Father's (God's) family and in His great school, I could tell the difference. Sometimes, I just know that the many blessings I have been permitted to enjoy with His blessed people all over the land are too good for me. Surely, I am so unworthy of them.
About a month ago I received letters telling me that some one had joined the church over there and requested baptism by young Elder Gene Thomas, of the Mud Creek Association. I love Brother Gene. I wanted to see him baptize his first candidate. So I began at once planning to go; and with a little silent prayer in my old heart that the Lord would be with him, enabling him to do the work in the most orderly manner in honor to God who gave him to His people in this country. He is the youngest elder in all of my acquaintance these thirty-five years in the church. He was ordained only last December, a short month before he was twenty. The young sister was not quite sixteen. Both were calm, orderly, Christ-like. Both went down into that cold water seemingly without a shiver ; and he buried her and raised her up out of the water as nicely as if both had been previously trained for such God-honoring work. It was a glorious sight to see. Well worth driving the more than two hundred miles round trip to see.
Where are the false prophets who say the Primitive Baptists or "Old Hardshells" will all soon be dead and gone? Here is a dear boy, earnest, devoted, an able servant of God baptizing a dear young sister; not yet sixteen years of age; not seeming to dread cold water, nor winter weather one bit in the world! It is something I have never seen the false prophets do in all of my more than three score and ten years! I can assure them again and again that none of their kind will be here to preach the funeral of the last "Old Hardshell." If and when the last "Old Hardshell" goes there will be no "salt" left to preserve this old earth. So, away it will go too. Then how awful it will be for false prophets! Read Re 20.
Our home, when not in the services, was the good home of Brother 0. D. McKee, in the town of Rogersville. A real Old Baptist home it is, if I ever saw one. Elder Green does not run about as much as I do, but he, too, seemed to enjoy every minute of time to the fullest. If he were not at home, you could not tell it on him; for he forgot himself and did some of his best preaching. All of the preaching, by all four or five elders, was good.
I had intended for many years to visit in the Second Creek. Now I want to go more than ever before. They are Primitive Baptists, and know how to make Primitive Baptists feel at home! They even treated old sorry me just like they thought I was somebody.
We made the two hundred-twenty-five miles without any trouble; and the return trip seemed a lot shorter than going. A good Old Baptist meeting is nearly always the best road—smoother and makes an automobile drive so easily! We go home feasting on what we saw and heard! The Lord must be in it somewhat!
S. E. COPELAND
MORE GOOD MEETINGS.
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
There have been more good meetings and more additions to our churches in the Mt. Zion Association. On the first Sunday in July Elder W. 0. Hunt baptized two of his sons, young men in their early twenties. It was a good meeting and a joy to all who were there. Elder H. P. Copeland baptized two at Rocky Mount that same day. Two joined us at Little Branch at our June meeting, one by experience and baptism, and one by letter; two joined at our July meeting, both by experience and baptism. One is waiting baptism, to be administered the second Sunday in August. The good Lord has wonderfully blessed us so that our membership has more than doubled in the past two years. I hope we thank and praise Him for it all.
The district meeting at Providence, embracing the third Sunday in July, was all peaceful and joyful, also the annual three-day meeting at Gum Pond. Elders G. N. Gober, from Mississippi, Fred Stewart, from the Mud Creek Association, and E. B. Tucker, from Wetumpka, were visiting us. All were blesed to feed us- well. Elders Stewart and Gober made a little tour among our churches, and this old scribbler had the grand privilege and pleasure of being with them every day. Then I went to the three-day meeting at Mt. Vernon embracing the first Sunday in August. Elder J. W. Dempsey, of Georgia, was with us in both the Providence and Mt. Vernon meetings. I have just returned home from the last named. It is good to think about for days to come. Elders Woodley, Dempsey, and Copeland were there, besides their three home preachers, W. P. Green, W. M. Cook, and W. 0. Hunt, three ordained ministers, members of the same church, and I don't think you could find any jealousy there, even with a powerful microscope. The church is in peace and prospering under their wise, watchful care. Three joined on Saturday of this meeting, and Elder Hunt baptized them Sunday morning. And think of this : all three of them have just become thirteen this year, 1946. One is the dutiful baby Son in Elder Hunt's model family, and the other two, sweet little girls.
Brother and Sister Hunt have six children. Five of them are now in the church of the living God; the other wants to be, and no doubt will be soon. So we don't blame them for "cutting up" a little bit on this occasion, also Brother and Sister Wilkinson and Sister Camp. And those were not all who felt it to be a little heaven below. Our visiting brethren and sisters all seemed to enjoy all the meetings. Some said they never enjoyed a trip better. This makes us glad and hope they come again. We love our visiting and corresponding Old Baptists, and may the Lord help us to continue on in peace among ourselves, and with them, so that they will want to come often to see us. They are all so good to this old unworthy.
WHY DO WE GO?
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
It has been said that Old Baptists will go the farthest to hear the least, and then go home the best satisfied of any people on earth. It has been said also that the "Hard-shells" will all soon be dead, and no doubt the fellow that said that wished in his heart that they were. He is the fellow that has done so much good, yet so little (Lu 18:9-14). His kind may drive three or four blocks to "church," endure a fifteen minute "message," and then hurry away to a ball game, or on a fishing trip, or to a picture show, which may be none too decent to see, by their "ads" in the papers. On last Saturday morning I drove, with some of the Lord's little children, nearly fifty miles to be in a fifth Sunday meeting at Pilgrim's Rest in the Mud Creek Association. It rained on us all the way, increasing almost to stormy proportions before we got there, and for almost all the day. Two faithful elders came in their cars all the way from Smyrna, Ga., and others from various distances to make what I call a large congregation for such stormy weather. Elders Morton, Spier, Dallas, and Stewart were the preachers, and how they did preach! During those two happy days, with the Lord's help, every one of them made us cry without hurting our feelings one bit, and we forgot the rain, the storm, and for a time, all that troubled us. It was indeed a feast of good things, a heavenly place on earth. Four of God's humble poor came home to the church, all young people. They left many more behind, looking with longing tear-dimmed eyes across Jordan into the promised land, or church of God. Three were baptized Sunday afternoon, and the other is to be baptized next Saturday. Talk about Old Baptists going so far for so little! We got paid for the trip in the first discourse Saturday morning, so all the balance was clear profit, and then twelve full baskets were gathered up to bring home with us to enjoy for weeks and months to come. No, the Primitive Baptists will not soon be all gone, as is plainly taught in the Scriptures, and as is evidenced by those young people and many others over the land coming in from time to time. Also the Primitive Baptists are the only people that believe and practice true repentance, therefore they are more zealous of good works, love one another better, will go the farthest to meet together, enjoy it most, stay the longest, go home with full baskets, and certainly better satisfied than any other people.
S. E. COPELAND.
MUST BE BLAMELESS
Lay hands suddenly on no man.-1Ti 5:22.
Old Baptists get in a hurry sometimes and, I think, get a little bit ahead of the Lord by trying to make them a preacher or a deacon. They seem to forget to notice the plain teachings and instructions as laid down in the Bible for our guidance. "Let these also first be proved." In a good many cases, I am sorry to say, they have not waited for the proof, but rushed along with their work, ahead of the Lord, and Were just about as successful in their work as Sarah was in haying Ishmael brought into the world. Then after their "preacher" is made, they don't want him, nor does anybody else want him, just as Sarah nor anybody else wanted Ishmael. They soon tire of hearing him try to preach, and in the same manner other churches dread to see him come, knowing as they do that he will expect to be used as a preacher, and more than likely have his feelings ruffled if he is not used. Rather plain talk, did you say? Well, is it wrong to tell the truth out loud? You and I and all of us have seen plenty of it just as I have stated above, and at least some of you, if not a goodly number, have said as much.
"If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work"—not "if he is a candidate for preacher." But if he feels that the burden is laid upon him by the Lord, and he feels strongly impressed with that duty to go forward in the work that God requires him to do, he is not 'ready, willing, and eager to go as was one who insisted repeatedly, "Howsoever (be what may) let me run." Instead of that, he will plead his ignorance or his unfitness or his slowness of speech, as did Moses in Ex 4:10, and his lack of eloquence, etc. But God has promised to be with his mouth and his speech, and he is urged along in duty's way as was one in Jer 20:9, who said that he would not speak any more in God's name. But His Word was in his heart as a burning fire shut up in his bones, and he was weary with forbearing and could not stay. Or, like Paul, necessity was laid upon him. "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"-1Co 9:16. Thus we have, I think,-some of the Bible characteristics of a truly God-called and sent preacher.
"A bishop then must be blameless." Blameless means faultless, not meriting censure; "the husband of one wife" —not two or more at the same time, nor some other man's wife; `vigilant"—watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety; wary; "sober"—not drunken, not mad or insane, not wild, visionary or heated with passion; self-possessed, regular, calm, thoughtful, as sober judgment. Thus we see that to be sober means a lot more than abstaining from the use of strong drink. Some of the drunkest men I ever came in contact with didn't have at that time one drop of strong drink in them. Either kind of drunkenness is disgraceful to a preacher, or any Old Baptist, and should never be tolerated in the church. "Of good behaviour"—modest (as in marginal reference); "given (inclined; addicted) to hospitality"-entertaining people or strangers without reward; generous liberality; "apt to teach"—fitted; qualified; able to teach; some talk plenty, but teach nothing; "not given to wine," or (as in margin); not ready to quarrel and offer wrong, as one in wine ; and of course, not addicted to excess use of wine as a beverage: "no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre"—not too eager to obtain money or wealth ; "but patient, not a brawler"—a noisy fellow, a wrangler; angry disputant; contentious wrangler; "not covetous"—not greedy of gain, or an idolator, for covetousness is idolatry; "one that ruleth well his own house ;"— "not a novice," or one newly come into the church or faith ; a beginner. "Moreover (in addition to all of these qualifications) he must have a good report of them which are without." He must have a good report of the honorable business men of the world, and his neighbors where he has lived and dealt with them, both as to his moral character and for his honesty and fair dealings in financial affairs with any and all men. They know, as no others know, whether he has lived morally and dealt honestly before and with his fellow man and, whether they like his doctrine or not, they will tell you that he is a good, honest, debt-paying man, and without such a good report no man is fit for either preacher or deacon, nor even membership in the Primitive Baptist Church.
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." —Pr 22:1. There is no excuse for any Old Baptist not having it. But, sad to say, a few in late years have besmeared and let that good name suffer. Who is to blame? Those few individuals, and the churches that failed, or refused, to apply the Bible remedy—strict discipline, by cutting off or putting out from among you the guilty. No Old Baptist is too poor to be honest, and I feel sure that none who are honest will starve to death. Once, in time of a severe panic when few men could borrow money, I heard a very poor Old Baptist ask a banker if he might borrow about a hundred and fifty dollars. Without hesitancy, the banker answered, "Yes, sir! We are keeping it here for you." On another occasion one went into a place of business where a number of preachers and others were. One of the preachers, reaching for a handshake, said, "Here comes the old Hardshell. But I can say one thing for them, they will all pay their just and honest debts." The Hardshell replied, "And that is more than you can say for your own people, isn't it, preacher—that they all pay ?" The preacher replied, "I will just have to admit, it is so." In another place the president of a bank came in. Someone in the mixed crowd asked him, "Did you know that Mr. Blank here is a Hardshell?" He answered, "I know that he pays his debts. He is that much Hardshell.' Another merchant here said, "We never have to worry about our Hard-shell customers not paying us. They come and pay up." Old Baptists, both churches and individuals, for God's sake and our own, let's hold on to that good name. Any man can live up to it if he wants to; and if he does not live up to it, we don't need him in the church of God. We will suffer for it if we retain him. Just think of such as that being an ensample to the flock!
David, in Ps 37:25, said, "I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." He also said something about the wicked in the same chapter. Let's read it. I have no desire to hurt any good man or brother because he cannot preach, for many good men cannot; neither do I want to hurt our great cause by tolerating dishonesty, drunkenness, nor any other gross sin or disorder in the church. See them all and haw to handle them in Paul's several letters. If there ever was a time that wide awake, up and doing Old Baptist churches were needed to salt and save, that time is surely now; just look around us, and all over this wide, wicked world. Every sinful, wicked, abominable thing that men and devils can invent, or that evil minds can think of, is being done by both men and women. Something terrible will soon overtake us, or I am a false prophet.
S. E. COPELAND
ELDER C. H. CAYCE:
Dear Brother Cayce—In a private letter to me from a brother in a distant state he seems inclined to take me to task, or challenge in a way, my statement to Cook that all of the little infants that die in infancy will be in heaven. For some cause this has been on my mind for several days and I feel impressed to try to tell through the dear paper why 4 believe as I do. My way of telling it is awkward enough, but hope I may be understood. I can not believe that God sends any infant to an eternal hell, but through His goodness and mercy He suffers the finally impenitent to live to more mature years, so that all are without excuse, and they prove by their deeds what they are.
It seems to me that the deliverance of the Hebrews out of Egypt and across the Red Sea is a type or figure of regeneration and the new birth. They were the chosen people of God, and being numerous, prolific and fruitful, multiplying rapidly, we feel safe in saying that they were of all ages from even unborn babes to old gray-haired men and women, and every hoof of them were delivered ; while the enemy that followed were all grown men or of sufficient maturity to bear arms and to persecute and try to destroy the people of God. They were old enough, and did put into practice the wickedness that was in their hearts and nature. And God did not coerce nor cause them to do it, but merely suffered them to go their own way to their destruction and they Were all without excuse. These, I believe, are the tares 'which were suffered not to be rooted up, but allowed to grow to maturity or till the harvest, then they were bound in bundles and burned and the wheat was gathered into his garner.
The Lord says in Da 12:10 that "the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand." I can not believe that the good Lord means by "shall do wickedly". that He causes or compels them to do wickedly, but He suffers them to live past the infantile state and manifest by practice the wickedness of their heart and nature. He can do this and still be just, for He only suffers them to follow their own inclinations, their own evil ways, to do as they want to do. God did not predetermine or decree that they must do this, but only permits it. He knew they would do so but He did not cause them to do it. It leaves man without excuse. None can say God is unjust. He only permitted him to do what he wanted to do. We would call this permissive predestination.
Yes, brother, I, too, believe that salvation pertains to all of the elect, but look at the figure. Are we not plainly told in Scripture that in that host that was delivered out of Egypt there were young men, old men, women and children? And who composed the enemy that followed them? Soldiers, horsemen, captains of chariots. So we may be reasonably sure there were no infants nor small children among them. You ask, "Can we prove by the Scriptures that all infants are saved, and would it not make God a respecter of persons?" I think we cat prove that all that die in infancy are saved. If not, can we prove that any infants are saved? The Scriptures we have cited prove it to my satisfaction, and others that might be used. This being true, it does not make God any more a respecter of persons of the infants than that of any other of His elect. He is no respecter of the person of a Jew, but "in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him." Even so He does not respect the infants of one nation or people above another, but in every nation every infant that dies in infancy is safely housed in heaven, not because of infantile purity, for they are just as much sinners by nature as adults are, and it takes the same power to save them that saves the father and mother. They are saved because Jesus died for them and blessed them, and He said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not ; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Both old and young, all alike, are powerless to fit and prepare themselves for heaven eternal, and none can inherit and enjoy the kingdom here, the church, except in humble child-like humility and simplicity.
You quote Isa 65:20, "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days : for the child shall die an hundred years old ; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." Then you say,' "So we see by this that God is no respecter of age. If we claim that all infants are saved we would have to restrict the age, and according to the above Scripture we can't do that. We are told in the Scriptures that it is a remnant according to the electing grace of God. Statistics show that a great per cent of the +human family die in infancy, and if we add the idiots we would have a majority, for so many of us are afflicted with that disease." Dear brother, you say on page two of your letter that you don't claim there are any infants in hell. Then do you mean by this I have quoted above that they are not all in heaven? If some of the precious little ones gone on before are in neither heaven nor hell, pray tell me where are they? Now I am no interpreter of prophecy, but it seems to me that Isa 65, from about the seventeenth verse, is on the new dispensation of time when Christ should come and set up His kingdom here and that New Jerusalem is that kingdom, the Old Baptist church, and the infant and old man in verse twenty are the members of that church. If I am wrong in any or all of my 'contentions I would thank any one to help me out of it.
But now if you object to including all of the infants and idiots among the saved for fear it would give us a majority, how are you going to get around wholesale infant damnation, for it seems like the remnants we read of as being saved were usually grown men and women. I knowthose twin brother were only infants when the Lord loved Jacob and hated Esau, but Esau did not die in infancy but was raised up to manhood, and so was Pharoah raised up, and God said He did it for a purpose. If "remnant" always means only those saved in eternal heaven, away goes ALL infants and ALL idiots, which according to our brother includes most of us grown-ups, for he says so many of us are afflicted with that disease. Of the remnant saved in the ark not one was an infant; and we presume not one was an idiot. Only four grown men and four grown women. Out of the great multitude delivered across the Red Sea two were saved into Canaan land, two men—no infants nor women. The remnant that the Lord had reserved to Himself when the old prophet thought all were gone but him alone were seven thousand MEN. And "though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved." Though the chosen people of God, and saved eternally by His grace, be innumerable as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved, also, by His grace, to see the truth and His Old Baptist church. If this is not the correct interpretation, please show me. I wonder if your own proof-text (Isa 65:20) does not prove my own position instead of yours? Read it, study it, and see.
Now I have written more than I intended. I am not answering the brother for controversy, but to try to be understood, and if not right I want to be righted. If not according to Scripture Brother Cayce will please return to me and not publish.
In hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND
NOTE THE DIFFERENCE
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
We have heard of wars and rumours of wars among Old Baptists but I was in an association the past three days which is a hundred and twenty-seven years old and she has never had a war, not a single battle. It was her one hundred twenty-seventh annual session without any division. Her ministers are one in love and sweet fellowship. Not a sign of any jealousy among them. The oldest, seventy-two years ; the youngest, nineteen years. All true, able gifts from God to His people—humble gifts to an humble, obedient people. True watchmen on the wall who have never failed to warn their people of approaching danger ; true soldier-deacons at the door, ever ready to keep trouble hunters and trouble peddlers from entering there.
The members seem all as one, solidly behind their preachers and deacons. So all together this explains why the dear old Mud Creek Association has never had any trouble in her Godly life of a hundred and twenty-seven years. Knowing her as I have for more than thirty years I would warn any lover of trouble and division (any wanting to draw away disciples after themselves) to be sure you don't try to enter there. They don't want to hear you talk your troubles, and will not. So you may as well keep on down the road. Their door is barred against you, but wide-open to all orderly, peace-loving Primitive Baptists everywhere. There are no sounder and lovelier Baptists anywhere. I am so glad for our beloved old Mt. Zion Association to be in correspondence with them. God forbid that I should write deceitfully or try to flatter them. I am trying to put on paper the true sentiments of my poor old heart.
How much better is their way than the way of some we read about and hear about in some parts of our land and country, who are divided and subdivided and seem to love it. I wish every Old Baptist could see what I have seen in these late sessions of both the Mt. Zion and Mud Creek Associations. Then surely they could learn a good lesson. How that united preachers, united deacons, together with a united membership bring sweet peace and keep it. This unity will keep peace in any Old Baptist church, the true church of God, the salt of this old earth. What a great city, set on a high hill where her light could not be hid, would every Old Baptist church be if all in our own U. S. A. were like these! There would not be any gross public offenders tolerated in the church long enough to get a following; divide the church and lead a little bunch to destruction; following an immoral man instead of Jesus and His plainly written law, which any church could know if they would take the time and trouble to read and learn.
They could know the difference between a public offense not to be borne with by the church, and a private trespass between individual members, which should be settled by themselves, and the church, as a body, never know about it, as He so plainly teaches us in His great Sermon on the mount (Mt 5; 6, and Mt 7, and in Mt 18.)
I have thought some about writing some of my little thoughts about public and private offense, but I started in this time to show the difference between a united people and those who are torn by divisions and subdivisions. The difference is as the difference between a heaven on earth and hell on earth.
I have only recently had first-hand information about churches and associations that have been turned from heaven into these earthly hells by designing and immoral men. I wish that all suffering children of God in them could have been there to see, feel and know for themselvs the heavenly things we had to enjoy the past three days, and in the Mt. Zion two weeks ago. It seems to me they would be ready to go back home and pluck out a few "eyes" and cut off a few "hands" and let dividers and subdividers know that they are not needed and have no inheritance in the church of God. (Eph 5:5.) It was not set up to harbor bosses, crooks and dead-beats, and hide their reproach.
Yes, it was good to be there and meet and mingle with those we love; and to hear more of the good things of the kingdom like we have heard so often lately; yet never old, but always new. Yes, they are both new and old! Elder Fred Stewart preached the introductory sermon and it was the gospel of the God of heaven and earth, if I am any judge at all. Then came the others, every man in his turn preaching in harmony with all that went before and those that followed. On Sunday it was a most lovely scene. The committee surely must have had the Lord's help in arranging for the preaching service. Brother Gene Thomas, age 19, a boy we all love and thank God for, came first. The Lord was with him to own and bless. Then followed dear old, white-haired father in Israel, Elder W. J. Greene, of Georgia, age 80 years. He had the same good help of the Lord, which he says (and we all know) he must have or he cannot preach, even after these fifty-five years already spent on the field, in humble obedience to his Lord and Master.
All the while those two were preaching, I rejoiced to see the spirit of true, humble humility in our own Elder J. E. Kitchens, who was to follow; the tears flowing freely, his head often bowed low, as a poor ox, dreading the heavy load that was his to bear. I thought: Yes, he is looking to the right source for help, and may the Lord give it to him. He did, and Brother Elmer, I thought, preached with the greatest liberty he ever had. He just preached. God blesses His people when they do right; He turns sorrow into joy. I want to heartily endorse and thank the dear old Mud Creek for taking up one of our Mt. Zion customs: That is, having lunch (dinner in Mt. Zion) on the ground each day; and preaching services both before and after noon. We get to hear more preaching; be together longer—I can give other reasons if anyone wants them.
Now, let's go to Flint River, oldest association in Alabama, next.
In hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND
CAN THIS BE DONE ?
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
A brother who does not agree with me on predestination, wrote and asked me, "Do you think that the two people calling themselves Primitive Baptists can be brought together?" He meant, of course, what I call the Primitive Baptists and the Absoluters.
I think that there are many children of God among the Absoluters who should be with the orderly Primitive Baptists and they could be if they would renounce those heretical doctrines held to and advocated by their extremist leaders or preachers, and come in the right way. But how can we come together except we agree? and how can we agree while they hold to extreme predestination, and we hold to Bible predestination? It is not what God predestinated, but whom He predestinated, as is so plainly taught in Romans and Ephesians.
I have before me a long list of questions and answers as published in the Landmark, Aug. 1. The author didn't sign his name. I wonder—was he ashamed to sign it? Here are a few of the questions and answers: "What is a man's soul? Answer: To my mind it is the breath of God. Did Adam have a soul until God blew breath into his mouth? Answer: Not as we know of." In the Bible it says, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his notrils (not mouth) the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Here is another morsel: "Did Adam and Eve have to eat the fruit? Answer: Yes. Why do we know they had to eat it? Answer : Because the best evidence we know of they did eat it." God said, "Thou shalt not eat of it." The Absoluter says he had to eat of it. Just could not help doing the very thing God told him not to do. God told him not to eat that fruit, and then made him eat it and die? I wonder why any child of God cannot see that that is just like a man that is so mean as to set a bottle of poison before his little child, tell him it is death if he drinks it, that he must not do so, and then make him drink it!
"Can the non-elect help being left out? Answer: No, that was fixed before the world was." To this man I ask, Who fixed it? Are you trying to make God responsible for the damnation of fallen wicked men?
"Do we believe there would have ever been a sinner born if Adam and Eve had not eaten the fruit? Answer: No. What would the grace have been for? Answer: I say sinners had to be born because Jesus said He came to seek and to save sinners." Oh, I see, said the blind man. Arminianism backfiring! Brother Absoluter's reasoning is that God had to make Adam and Eve eat the fruit He had commanded them not to eat in order to have sinners born, so Jesus could have somebody to die for, and to save by His grace, so that His grace would not be wasted ! I believe I will call that a sweet (?) morsel of left handed or backfiring Arminianism.
"Do we believe that God's people have ever been lost eternally? Answer: No. How and in what way were they lost? Answer : They were lost in their feelings and Jesus came to seek and to save that which felt like they were lost." Oh, yes, not lost, but just felt like they were lost. Did those we see described in Ro 3 feel like they were lost? There was no fear of God before their eyes, and you see they had all that their hearts could wish for. They were the whole race of mankind. Did the elect among them have to "feel like they were lost" before Jesus came to seek and to save them? They were lost and lost eternally if God, by His grace, had not saved them. They were lost eternally as far as their own power and ability was concerned.
"Do we believe Jonah could have preached salvation was of the Lord if the fish had not swallowed him? Answer: No." I say, Yes, Jonah could have obeyed God and cried against that great city of Nineveh, just as Adam could have obeyed Him by dressing and keeping the garden and letting the forbidden fruit alone, and as every one of us could obey Him by doing as He bids us do, instead of trying so hard to shift the wickedness of ourselves and the devil by our (your) flimsy effort to make God responsible for it all. God forbid and help me to never feel the least bit inclined that way. I am to blame for my sins and wickedness, not God. The natural man, dead in sin, is not subject to God's spiritual law, but His born-again children are, and they can do whatsoever He commands them to do. They have the power, given by Him to them, to become the sons of God manifestly, by obeying Him.
"We believe He saw everything would come to pass as it does. Do we believe anything could take place any differently than what it does? Answer: No." Now, let me ask you a question or two. Is God's foreseeing our sin and death the cause of it? Is His foreknowledge of wicked Cain killing his brother the cause of Cain's wicked deed? We read almost daily of many cases of murder, theft, and even some awful cases of rape, and every unmentionable vice and crime that is done by wicked men and women the world over, and God, of course, foresaw it all. Is He therefore the cause of it all ? No ! nor any part of it. It is all the vilest sin ; and He cannot even look upon it with the least degree of allowance. Yes, he foresaw it all, for time and eternity is all now with Him. This wicked age in which we live was just as much present with Him when Cain slew Abel as it is now. A million years or ten million year in the past or in the future with us is all now present before Him. Yes, many things could take place differently. Men could have obeyed God and kept His commandments instead of disobeying them as they did. Adam could have let the forbidden fruit alone and gone on with his job of dressing and keeping the garden as God said. Murderers could let their fellow men alone and not kill them. Men and women could have abstained from fornication and adultery and not been guilty of that great sin as so many thousands are. Rapists that we read about could have left their innocent victims alone and not done worse than murder them.
All these things could have been other than the way God saw they would be, for His foreseeing how mankind would do either wickedly or righteously was not the cause of them doing so, since His foreknoweldge is not causative. His predestination is causative. Foreknowledge is an attribute of God, and predestination is His act. He, being all wise, knew and saw from all eternity what man would do in time—that he would bring ruin and death upon himself. Therefore, He made provision to save those He chose to save out of this ruined race. Otherwise, all would have been gone, world without end. For those who were chosen of Him, all things work together for good—all things that God works. "For whom (not what) He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 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." How good and sure He makes it all for those He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they shall be holy and without blame before Him in love! I believe in predestination, and the Primitive Baptists believe in it as taught in the Bible, but not in the "absolute predestination of all things whatsoever comes to pass," as taught by the Absoluters. Yes, I think all of God's humble children among them can come in with the Primitive Baptists if they will forsake that heresy and come in the right way.
This is not more than half I had in mind to say, but it may be enough for now. If I am not right, show me by the Bible.
S. E. COPELAND
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
We had another feast of the good things yesterday. I wrote last week about the eight who were awaiting baptism at Mt. Moriah, where the association was held. Last Saturday, I went again to that place. I heard two good sermons, after which the church held their conference. Two more joined the church, which made ten to be baptized. There was joy in heaven—this church heaven. Everybody seemed happy and was praising God. Sunday morning, we met at certain water, a good place to bury people who love the Primitive Baptist, God's true church on earth. Elders W. D. Green and H. B. Awtrey are joint pastors there. Five of the candidates for baptism had requested Brother Green, and five, Brother Awtrey, to administer their baptism, so both elders went into the Warrior River at once, each leading five humble followers of the meek and lowly One, who demanded baptism at the hands of John, the first (Primitive) Baptist, in the River Jordan Elder Green baptized the first one, then Elder Awtrey one, thus alternating until all ten were baptized and came straightway up out of the water, rejoicing as some we read about in the Book. I believe, too, that the same heavenly dove descended there on the bank of the Warrior, as He did on the Jordan, to own and bless His dutiful children in whom He was well pleased.
Back in the meeting house, we heard some more good preaching, by two happy servants of God. Then those ten newly baptized members were lined up in front of the stand to be given the right hand of fellowship. Elder Green looked them over, his face beaming with joy, and exclaimed, "That is the prettiest sight I have ever seen !" Afterr the church had extended the right hand, then the last little sister to join looked up with a heavenly smile and led the ten in giving to one another a real Old Baptist handshake. Thus ended another foretaste of heaven, or is it yet ended? No, for one old unworthy can hardly behave himself as he sits here, in his room, writing about it thirty hours after the meeting closed. I am sure that many who are better than he are still rejoicing. God be praised, and may He help us to mend our ways, and enjoy more such meetings.
S. E. COPELAND
Our annual communion and feet washing services, at Little Branch, have just closed. It was a joyful meeting. Attendance was large, interest good and better order in a large congregation could not be asked for. Near a dozen churches were represented and three associations. Old Flint River Church, the oldest in Alabama (140 years) and the association by the same name, and the Mud Creek besides the Mt. Zion were well represented. It was good to hear one of our pastors publicly express his pleasure in calling attention to the fact that eighty-five or ninety per cent of our members of Little Branch were present in the meeting on Saturday. That is something we don't see often in many churches. I hope we try to feel thankful to God for this lively interest manifested by our members. May He bless us all to keep it up. This, together with His many blessings that He has showered down upon us for nearly four years now—since we were awakened from our longtime slumbering, almost dead state. Another one of His humble children joined us this meeting, making five for this first half of 1948. This brings our total membership up from twenty to fifty-seven in the less than four years mentioned above. Thank God, this increase is not made up of dead material, but lively stones, the kind needed to build up a Spiritual house. (1Pe 2:5) And yet there are others of the same kind lingering on the bank of Jordan, fearing to step in, because of their feeling of unworthiness and their "unfitness;" still judging themselves instead of letting the church be their judge. May the Lord continue to add to us such as shall be saved. All of our meetings are good. There seems to be a growing interest among His children, in other Old Baptist churches, to visit us in our meetings, both regular and special. We do appreciate this. It is good for sister churches to visit one another, often, in their meetings. They are our kindred in Christ, and we love them. I know some of them enjoyed their visit, for they said so with tears of joy. Some missed our soul-cheering communion and feet washing service on Sunday—some went to all-day singings in several places. I don't think that is the right thing to do. I believe I could prove it by at least one or two who went—and got whipped for it.
In my goings, I have been in a number of good meetings of sister churches this year, and two or three ordinations of deacons. Some real deacons, I think they are. Followed Elder C. M. Mills for about four days and nights on his recent tour in the Mud Creek Association. He was blest to preach the pure gospel of our Lord, if I know anything about it; and the time spent with him was joy to this old unworthy.
In hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND
DEAR SISTER CAYCE:
I was glad when you wrote me that Elder Swanner was coming to our Association, and now, since he has come, I am even more glad. We like the good, humble spirit manifested by him and the way he behaves himself in the house of God. After he had preached to our comfort and satisfaction, he said to me, "I hope I didn't let you down too hard." My answer was, "You didn't let me down, you lifted me up, just too short, is all that was lacking." God was good to him and I feel sure that his coming was good for us.
I do believe that the good Lord owned and blessed us in this our one hundred twenty-third annual session. After an humble, sweet prayer by our newest ordained elder, H. B. Awtrey, the introductory sermon was delivered by our oldest active elder, W. D. Green. As he came so humbly forward, his plea was that he did not know how to preach an introductory sermon, but the Lord saw fit to wonderfully bless him, and he was made to rejoice with all the rest of us before it was all over. He used Joh 1:4 for a text or foundation, and if the building that we saw and heard, done by God's clear servants from there on through those three happy days, was not in sweet harmony with God's Book, I don't know what I am writing about. Brother Green is a gift from God to us.
We didn't have as many visiting elders as we had expected, but we had some able ones who had never been in our meeting before. Elders J. 0. Dodd, from Colo.; C. J. L. Bolinger, from West Texas ; E. D. and A. H. Spier, from Ga.; and Brother Swanner. All were blessed to bring to us, out of God's rich storehouse, many good things, new and old. They all, being new to us, are living witnesses and full proof that God is the same great teacher in every part of this wide world. Elders W. T. Lemay, J. W. Hardwick, M. M. Morton, G. A. Stephens, and H. P. Houk are some of the old faithful ones who are not so new, and yet they are new when, as it seemed this time, their last discourse was the very best that we ever heard them preach. We have known and loved dear Brother Houk for about thirty years, and have heard him all through these years, but surely last Sunday he fed this unworthy old sinner the best ever. Maybe it is because we, being the same age, are nearing the end of our course, and it is dessert time, having the best last. We read where, on one occasion, they had the best wine last, and it seems somebody was made happy. I think that was at a wedding or a marriage feast, and if the Lord didn't bless us with something like that all through the three days of the Mt. Zion Association, I am a poor judge of good things. Every church reported in peace, and the business session ended without a discord. I hope we do thank God for His continued blessings, letting His peace be ours. One joined the church at Mt. Moriah, and one at Rocky Mount. Eight are now awaiting baptism at Mt. Moriah next Sunday. Such heavenly feasts of fat things are too good for an old unworthy like me, yet I am very willing to risk taking them in. Thank God for them all. They are foretastes of that great meeting together of the saints that shall never be dismissed, but protracted eternally around the throne and in the life and light of Him who was the subject of Elder Green's introductory, and of Elder Hardwick's closing discourse, and all of those in between.
S. E. COPELAND
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
Have been thinking for some time that I would write you some of the things that have made us glad, and some that have made us sad, since your visit among us. We enjoyed so much having you visit us and fill those appointments, and I know that some good was accomplished. This poor writer has known you and heard you preach occasionally for more than twenty-five years, and he has loved you all of these years, even before he ever saw you, and he has always loved your preaching, too ; but this time it seemed sweeter than ever before, and you are nearer and dearer to his poor old heart than ever before. Our people generally seemed to enjoy your coming among us. If any dissatisfaction I hear nothing of it, and, as you know, I run about among our folks a good deal. Of course I am no good to them, but I just love to see them and be with them. Have been in many good meetings this year—fifteen communions and feet washings already, and several more yet to be. And do you know how many times I heard you of the twenty-six discourses preached in our bounds? Well, I missed only seven. Was with you nineteen days, and still glad of it and the Lord has blessed us to have many good meetings since your last visit with us. You will recall that two joined at Harmony—your appointment there. They are faithful and good, too. That seemed to "break the ice," as the saying is, for a number have joined by experience and baptism since you left us ; three or more at Providence; eight at Mt. Vernon; two at Shiloh; three at New Hope; one at Zion Hill, and others here and there. I cannot recall the exact number now, but had the pleasure of seeing and hearing a num-
Elder Wilson's visit, like yours, was much enjoyed by our people. He is another precious, able servant of God, whom we all love. May the Lord's choice blessings be his and yours and enable you both to come again.
All three of our district meetings were good, and our association just past was one of the best—all peace, union and love, and much good preaching. Our own dear moderator preached the introductory discourse, using the text, "Fail not to declare the whole counsel ;" and he did not fail. Neither did those who followed during the meetings. If anyone had any hobby-horse he failed to lead him out, knowing that we of the old Mount Zion do not fancy such animals or such fads. It was our one hundred twelfth session (we are one hundred thirteen years old, but missed, or failed to hold, one annual session in 1896), and still standing where Old Baptists have always stood. It is the good old Bible way our fathers trod, and we want no other way. May God keep us in it and keep out any that would trouble us.
We thank you, dear brother, for what you said in the paper about us after your visit here. I think often of the wise and fatherly admonition you gave to us at the close of communion and feet washing services at Gum Pond. May God help us all to keep it in memory always. I asked Brother Talley if he ever before heard as much good advice given in as few words. He said, "Never before." I think every day over some of the good things we enjoyed during your stay among us. I shall never forget that good night we all spent in the good home of dear old Sister Ryan and the good accomplished there. I am happy over it for several reasons. The dear sister had been laboring under a false impression or a misunderstanding and we were enabled (by the help of the Lord, I think) to show her that there was nothing in the way anti nobody had changed in the least; that we are all together, as we have always been, and I was especially glad, too, that Brother Talley was there with us, for I learned a few days later that he, too, had misunderstood me.
It was a glorious heavenly meeting at Gum Pond to this poor writer. Then imagine what a shock it was when I went to the union meeting at Providence two weeks later and was told that Sister Ryan had gone to her eternal home. Yes, she was so soon called home to live with God in heaven. And she will be missed so much and so long. Her poor lonely girls will miss her, being left in a cold world without father or mother. Her church will miss her and we all will miss her, like we missed dear old Brother Ryan when he was taken from us. Yet we mourn not as those that have no hone, and I wish I could always thank the Lord as I should for this hope of meeting them and other loved ones again. And just think how happy that meeting will be!
Now I have just heard that two more joined at Harmony last Sunday, while we were so gladly receiving two at Shiloh. Also two or more joined at Ephesus, Sand Mountain. Association; same day. I love to hear about such good meetings, and sometimes wish I could be in all of them.
Yours in hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND
MT. ZION ASSOCIATION
DEAR BROTHER CAYCE:
The one hundred thirteenth annual session of the Mt. Zion Association is just past into history, and we are trying to thank God that He is still mindful of us, enabling us to hold this, another, sweet session without a discordant note being sounded from the sacred desk nor publicly from any source ; and if one was sounded from any private source, may the Lord cause such an one to quickly see the error of his way and make amends for his wrong doing.
We are one hundred fourteen years old (missed one session in 1896), standing on the same principles, doctrine and practice, on which we were constituted, and we are pleased to travel on in the good old way our fathers have trod all these years, and God has blessed us to hold many, peaceful, happy sessions as the years have gone by. And since it has pleased Him to bless us thus far, we feel that it is His pleasure for us to continue on in the future just as. we have in the past, and just as we were when all of our corresponding associations and we were as one— in peace, love and union, they themselves being witnesses to this fact. That was a happy time to this poor writer. He has always enjoyed our large correspondence and the love and sweet fellowship of Old Baptists everywhere in all sections of our country, visiting among them and receiving loving neighborly or brotherly visits from them. That seems to me like good Old Baptist Bible practice, the kind God approves of, and we of the Mt. Zion still love and enjoy it. We had with us this session a number of our good able corresponding ministers, and also two very able visiting ministers, Elder J. Harvey Daily, of the Echeconnee Association, in Georgia, and Elder W. C. Davis, of the West Tennessee Association, whom we love for the truth's sake. They all seemed to come knowing nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and were enabled by His Spirit to fed our souls on the riches of His grace. Surely the Lord was in the meeting, for His Spirit seemed to be plainly manifested in the faces of the messengers and brethren, from the first to arrive on the ground Friday morning to the last to leave Sunday afternoon. I feel sure that somebody was praying to God for a heavenly shower and a feast of good things, and their prayers were answered. The only sad feature we have to note is that a few brethren and correspondents who were once in sweet and loving accord with us are not with us now, yet we have not changed one iota from what we were then in both belief and practice. In those happy days we all came together in these good meetings as two drops of, water, all as one, perfectly agreed. This fact we have proved by their own word of mouth several times very recently. And thus happily united we would still have Baptists always stand together. But it seems that a few agitators and would-be regulators have crept into the fold who were not content to let brotherly love continue ; hence they have appointed themselves to the task of erecting a big bar, or cross fence, where one was never had before, thus dividing the once happy family. And now, because we cannot feel it our duty to move from where we have always stood (even while they themselves said we were all one people), and fall over on their side of their fence, they have the audacity to brand us with denying the faith and call us "non-feet washers"—this in violation of the ninth commandment, for it is not true witness. For every church in the Mt. Zion, and, for ought I know, every member in our large body of over one thousand believe and practices feet washing, always have, do now and will contiue to do so. Why, I feel sure that we are even more zealous, more devout in following our Saviour's example here than are any of our accusers. I have good reason for saying so. I have at least partial proof of this fact So, now, dear Old Baptists everywhere, you can see that the only "crime" we of the Mt. Zion have committed is in refusing to move over on their side of their fence, or rather into their pen. But we prefer to remain in God's open field with His free people. He has blessed us for a long time without any pens, jail houses, or dictators and bosses. He gave His peace to us. He left it with us. So may He by His blessed Spirit help us to keep it always, as in this glorious session just past. He is never the author of confusion; so when confusion comes among us, let us be assured that came from below and not from Him.
May God pity any who love bars and confusion better than they love peace and fellowship, such as we all had together in days gone by. We, of the Mt. Zion, want Primitive Baptists everywhere to see and behold our order. These are the sentiments of the least one in this great body, their unworthy clerk,
S. E. COPELAND
Here are some of my blessings received as I journey along at threescore and ten years of age. I go every weekend to some Old Baptist meeting, and they are nearly all good ones. There are no less than forty orderly churches, in our own and corresponding associations, near enough that I can drive to meeting and return home the same day, if I want to. In fact, I seldom do; have too many good homes among the dear Old Baptists, though unworthy of them.
Our communion and feet washing meetings always begin the first Sunday in May. This time Elder T. L. Webb came to be with the church at Salem. He preached wonderfully there, and it was a good meeting. Then he filled a feW appointments the week following. It was good to be with that dear servant a few days once more in this life. On the way home from Salem, Sunday, p. m., I had a most happy surprise. Our nearest route home being bad, we went another way which took us 'by Rocky Mount where they had engaged in the same kind of service as we at Salem. At the close three joined, so they went from the house to the creek to baptize them. Our road home led us right by the place, so out we tumbled just as my nephew, H. P. Copeland, led the three into the water, one of them his own little boy twelve years old. I cannot soon forget that happy smile as that dear little boy came toward the bank waving his hand to the crowd. I don't know which felt the most like cutting up a little bit, the boy's daddy or his old uncle. It seems like God's wonderful providence that I was there, for I had planned to go the other way home. I was glad of a bad road for once—a blessing in disguise to me.
Some of our churches meet on Saturdays at eleven and some at two o'clock, so I sometimes get to two of them the same day. It was so at Mt. Moriah and Clear Creek on their last meeting time; at 11 a. m., Elders Hunt and Awtrey; at 2 p. m., Elders W. D. Green and Awtrey. All were blest of the Lord to feed our poor souls, and then again Sunday, Elders Green and Awtrey were most wonderfully blessed. We spent two most pleasant days in this troublesome world.
Elder Awtrey is our youngest in the ministry, and one of the humblest. He sees and feels his littleness, and we are glad of it. We know that Jesus said that the least is the greatest in the kingdom. So may the Lord bless and keep him little and great in His church kingdom. May He cause us all to feel our littleness, and to thank Him for His great gifts in the ministry.
Our meetings at Little Branch for several months have been especially sweet to me. The good Lord has wonderfully blessed us the past two years, nearly doubling our number, giving us good pastors, and His able servants and people are good to visit us, for all of which I hope we are thankful to Him. On our last meeting time we ordained two deacons, and they Lave already made us glad by showing a willingness to do their duty in whatever their hands find to do. They thought the church made a mistake when we selected them (that is, each thought so of himself), but we don't think so. May the Lord ever keep them little, and make them great and faithful in His service in His kingdom. Our youngest member is eleven years; the oldest, seventy-eight. It is a joy to us older ones to see the young among the most faithful of our members. There was a time when our church was lukewarm, or seemingly about dead. Then we almost dreaded to see meeting day come. But now we find ourselves almost growing impatient waiting for the time to come. For some time past these two words have been with me: Thank God!
S. E. COPELAND
FAILED TO TRADE
"And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, all this power will I give thee, and the glory of them : for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, arid Him only shalt thou serve."
I wonder which kingdom of the world they were that the devil would give to our Lord, and the power and glory of them, if He would only fall down and worship him? Were they the Roman Empire, Egypt, Asia, Russia, Germany, England, the United States or any or all such kingdoms or countries' of the world? I don't think so. I think we are taught in Romans thirteen to be subject and obedient to those powers, for they are ministers of God for our good while we live as law-abiding citizens in this world. I think all of those kingdoms offered by the devil to Jesus were his own, those set up by hm in opposition to the one (only) set up by the God of heaven. His love, His dove is but one. She is the speckled bird and all of the other birds around about her are against her. They are the seven women, all institutions of the world, and Jesus refused to own them as His church, or to trade with Satan for them. But still they all insist on being called by His name. What for? To take away their reproach. They don't want His bread nor His apparel. They hate His pure gospel food or bread. So they will make their own. They don't like His brand of righteousness. It is too humiliating to them. They are not poor despised sinners like that poor publican. They are so far superior to him, above him, they having done so many good works and made themselves righteous. Do you know one of them not against the church Jesus set up here on earth? Can you not identify her by this one thing alone—that all other religious orders are against her? Look around you Wherever you be, and see how many you can find that are not against the Primitive Baptists. She is the only woman you will find depending alone on her Husband (Jesus) for His robe of righteousness to clothe her and His pure gospel bread to sustain her. They all hate her and would be rid of her shortly if they could. She is nothing in their sight and estimation of her. Yet, there are so many of her that they are worried because of her.
NOT RECKONED AMONG NATIONS
Some have undertaken the task of finding out the number of our Lord's true followers in the U. S. or in the world. It may be easier than counting the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel (Nu 23:10) or the names that are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. If you are good in figures try this: Write one hundred and forty-four thousand, add to that ten thousand times ten thousand, and to that thousands of thousands, and to that thousands of millions and to that a great multitude which no man can number. (Read Ge 24 and Revelations). Now, how many were chosen in Christ, redeemed by Him to be finally housed in eternal heaven? Can you add the sums given and get the correct answer? But that is spiritual Israel. It may be possible to get near the number of the visible church, the true Primitive Baptists, but I doubt it very much, for they "shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." Nu 23:9. They hold themselves aloof from the nations (religions) of the world and are not counted with or among them. Even the false prophets who would like rather to curse God's true church just have to say something in their favor and tell the truth on them sometimes when God puts the words in their mouths and they have no evil that they can say about them.
How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? Or how shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him and from the hills I behold him : lo, the people shall dwell above, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Jesus said He would build His church and the gates of hell should not prevail against her. They have all along tried and sought from every angle and vantage point to destroy her, but she is here to stay till God calls her home to glorv.
S. E. COPELAND
A PERFECT MAN
Have you seen him? No? Well, I have read somewhere how to identify him or her. James tells us something—yea, many things in his five chapters, all of which we need to know, and to do. "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." I am not that man, but I ought to be. And some of you are not that man, but you all ought to be. Is that not right? Would God tell us by His holy apostle to bridle our tongues, and not offend in word, knowing that we could not obey perfectly? "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." "But the tongue can no man tame or is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be." He tells us to glory not if we have bitter envyings and strife, for this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual and devilish, for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Now could all of this mean that there is danger sometimes of getting a little hellfire started in the church? Surely it must be so, for James tells his brethren that these things ought not to be, and he warns against them. Could there be danger, where such things exist, of a whole church being cast into hellfire? Most surely so, or the Saviour never would have said pluck out an offending eye, or cut off and cast from you an offending hand, and enter into life with only one of these rather than have the whole body (church) cast from you an offending hand, and enter into life with that eternal hell, but a timely one, just such as these little, old, unruly, evil tongues of ours can create for us almost any time we take off the bridle and turn them loose with our Adam natures. The beloved James is endeavoring to help us not to do so ugly, and we know that we ought to. have too much love for our Saviour and our church home than to do such things. We ought to have even more respect for ourselves than to do that way, but if not, then it becomes the duty of our home church to at least admonish us in brotherly love; then deal with us according to the Holy Law if we fail to heed her admonitions.
We might not be so much concerned about this untamed tongue if it were loose in those only out in the world, but the most terrible part is brethren sometimes get the bridle off and oh, what awful things it does in the church of God! Satan sometimes gets control of it, and then it will even betray a brother as it did our Saviour, or slander a brother or a sister, bear tales, or whisper, tattle or backbite, deal in scandal, cast reflections and insinuations, or be a real busybody, passing by and meddling with things that should not concern them, thus taking a dog by the ears—something they can hardly turn loose without getting bit nor continue to hold for the same reason. (Pr 26:17.) God's word is plain and hard on all that do such things. Solomon, the wise man, said, "He that uttereth slander is a fool." (Proverbs.) He also said, "A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." Slander is a false report, maliciously uttered to defame. A talebearer is one who tells tales to harm another, a scandal-monger, or dealer in scandal. A whisperer is one who makes secret, mischievous communications, or slanders secretly. Backbiting is speaking evil of the absent. All are forbidden and condemned in the Scriptures.
All that hated David, a man after God's own heart, whispered together against him to do him hurt. (Ps 41.) "A froward man soweth strife : and a whisperer separateth chief friends." (Pr 16:28.) Another proverb: "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." (Ps 26:12.) In Ro 1, Paul classes whisperers with everything hateful and bad. Also in 2Co 12, likewise. Talebearing among God's chosen national Israel was forbidden. Read how strict and severe His law was against evil-doers. (Leviticus.) See more about talebearers in Pr 6 and Pr 18 and Pr 20 and Pr 26. All four chapters are good reading. "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off." (See Ps 1, and Ps 101.) If that does not mean they shall not be held in fellowship of the church, then I have no understanding of its meaning or teaching.
Strict discipline promptly executed is the remedy that might help some of us to offend less in word, and try harder to be the perfect man or woman, able to bridle the whole body and keep our untamed evil tongues from wounding God's children. Until this is done, let the wounded ones take a little comfort and consolation from Peter's exhortation: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."
A few of my thoughts poorly expressed, but I hope for the good of the cause.
S. E. COPELAND
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?
What is an Arminian? One who rejects predestination. Arminianism, then, is the doctrine of Arminians, since they reject predestination. If Arminianism is the truth how many of Adam's race will be finally housed in heaven? Not one. Why not one? Because it is impossible. It is an impossible doctrine. It requires members of Adam's race to perform impossibilities in order that they be saved. It is .a hard doctrine—the hardest of all. God made the man, Adam, and put him in a garden to dress and keep it. And He gave the man a law or command that he should not eat of a certain tree in that garden ; "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." But the serpent or devil came along and said, "Ye shall not surely die." Now, who shall we believe? God said, "You shall surely die" and the devil said "you shall not surely die." Let us believe God, since He cannot lie, and let all men and the devil be liars, for he is and was a liar from the beginning, the father of lies. So, now, since the man disobeyed the law of God and ate of the forbidden fruit, let us say that he died that very day, just as God had warned that he would die, and that he is dead by his own trespass or sin, and all of his posterity with him, for we all being in him when he fell, we all fell or died with him, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that (or "in whom"—margin) all have sinned."—Ro 5:12. All died in Adam the same death that he died, just as sure as God told the truth and the serpent lied about it. He fell under the curse of the law of God which he violated, lost his former standing with God, so that whatever life he lost he could not by his own effort ever regain it, and from whatever death he died he could not even make one effort to raise himself back to that life, for he is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and is forever banished from the presence and life (eternal life) of God if his being raised from his dead state depends in anywise whatsoever on anything to be performed by himself, for he is dead and cannot receive nor know the things of the Spirit of God (1Co 2:14) . Unless God sees fit to quicken or make him alive by His Spirit, man, any man, all men, will remain in that death which they died in Adam. They are all like David, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."—Ps 51:5. And David being a man after God's own heart, surely none are better than he, not even infants, for they needed blessing and Jesus blessed them, gives them eternal life just as He does grown people. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and all men, women and children are under sin. Not one righteous; none that seek after God; all gone out of the way and together become unprofitable ; not one that doeth good ; their tongues use deceit; their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness; no fear of God before their eyes ; and all the world have become guilty before God. And "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." See all of this and other things that ail them in Ro 3. And by this time man is in a bad fix—without God and without any hope in the world. Then what is to become of him? He, being dead, cannot exercise faith in God. And for the same reason he cannot repent of his sins and thereby raise himself from his fallen state. He cannot confess that he is a sinner in God's sight, for he sees himself as good as any, and even better than some. He cannot want or desire spiritual or eternal life, for he is dead to the things of the Spirit and cannot know anything about them. He cannot will to be saved, for his will is to do evil, and that continually. And he can but remain in that condition until the Lord sees fit to work in him the (spiritual) will to do of His good pleasure, for it is not by works of righteousness to be performed by him, but by the mercy and grace of God that he must be saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit of God (Tit 3:5). Dipping a dead man in water never gave one life. No such thing as baptismal regeneration is taught in the Bible. Jesus said, "I give unto them eternal life." If you get it in baptism then baptism is the god that saves you and not Jesus. So if you hold that baptism saves you in heaven you violate the first of the ten commandments, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." And if you fail in one point you are guilty of the whole law. And who does not fail? Find among the estimated two billion people on this earth one that is perfect, doing the whole law. And find just one that has inherited eternal life by so doing. That young man in Mr 10:17 claimed to have done a pretty good job of it, but Jesus showed him that he still had not done a perfect job. And I am still waiting to find one that has done better than he. Then when he learned that he was not yet perfect, or had failed, he went away grieved, just about like all of us will have to do if our work is all we have to give us eternal life. "With man it is impossible." That is the Saviour's answer to the young man's question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" and to the disciples, "Who then can be saved?" I said above that Arminianism is an impossible doctrine and the hardest of all. Its theory is that dead men must work in order to life, and its 'preachers will tell alien, dead, sinners a hundred and one things that they must do, or go to an eternal hell, which things they themselves fail to do, even as good a job as the man that came to Jesus in Mr 10. They sometimes picture Jesus as standing out yonder some place beckoning dead sinners to come to Him and He will save them ; or as standing at the door of the dead man's heart knocking and pleading for admittance into his heart so He can save him. I just yesterday heard over radio a paid Pharisee telling sinners to "go to Jesus and imbibe (dead man go drink in, or receive, for going?) His life," or they would be doomed forever—no other chance for them. If he told the truth then their going is what saved them, and their going is "another god before me"—Jehovah. And if it depends upon the sinner "giving his heart to God" (or god), or "opening the door of your heart to Him," then that act of the sinner's is what saved him, and not Jesus. That is another god before the Lord God. If I could believe that sort of theory to be true then I could, or would, have to believe the serpent told the truth in the garden when he said, "God doth know thou shalt not surely die." "Let God be true and every man a liar."—Paul. They ignore the fact that the sinner is dead, or at least they say he is not as dead as Old Baptists say he is. Well, that is very close kin to what the serpent told Eve in the garden. "I am God, and beside me there is no Saviour." "And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." "Who then can be saved?" "As many as thou hast given Him" (Joh 17:2), and "as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Ac 2:39); and "all that the Father gave me shall come to me" (in regeneration), "and I will in no wise cast out." —Joh 6:37. They are the called according to His purpose, who were first loved and chosen (elected) in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), and His delights were with them when as yet there were none of them; Pr 8:31. Those He foreknew, "whom He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son. 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." "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"—Read Ro 8.
These are not all of the witnesses by many that can be found in the Scriptures, but enough to prove beyond any doubt that man (all men in Adam) , by his own act, in the garden fell under the curse of God's violated law and died, and that he being dead cannot act in anywise to recover himself from his fallen state ; hence the electing love, mercy and grace of God is all that can save him—any one of the race of mankind. That love, mercy and grace came to God's elected and predestinated people in the person of HA only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who died to save them from their sins. He is the only remedy for our dreadful ills, our only Saviour—if we are included in the number that He died for. If He died for all of Adam's race everyone of them will be saved. If He died for a part of the race, those the Father gave him, then just that many will be saved. While He was here on earth He did not pray for all, and I cannot believe He died for all mankind. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which 'thou hast given me; for they are thine."—Joh 17:9. He gives eternal life to them—"as many as thou hast given Him."—Same chapter. And so we see clearly that, according to Bible truth, some are sure to be saved, while according to that little Arminian theory or god none can be saved, and heaven would be uninhabited, as far as their little god is concerned. "With man it is impossible." "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."—Joh 3:3. And if one cannot see the kingdom before he is born, we can just as truthfully say that he cannot do anything before he is born that would help, in any way, to get himself into the kingdom, either timely or eternal, or to save himself. He cannot accept Christ as his personal Saviour, or even want to be saved. If he has the will, or "want to," he is already born again. If he really and truly prays to God, or feels the need of prayer, he has already been born again. If he sees himself a sinner in God's sight, and is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, he is a chilli of God—born again, and will surely live with God in heaven. If he repents of his old ways of the world, and has a longing desire to be baptized like Jesus was baptized in Jordan, and to live in His church, it is because he has been born again and has eternal life. If he loves these Bible truths, some of which I have here tried to hint at, it is because he has had the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost—born again. If he has a love for the brethren, God's church and people, it is because he has passed from death unto life—eternal life, which he received in the new birth—born again (1Jo 3:14) . These are some of the evidences of the new birth of the child of God, that it has already been accomplished, and not work to be done in order to bring it about. And one does not have to be able to tell just when and how it came about, for "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." —Joh 3:8. Sometimes the wind blows strongly and uproots the giant oaks. We might let that represent Saul's case in Ac 9. He could tell much about what occurred, and when and where. Sometimes it blows so mildly and gently that we can only see the leaves on the trees barely moved by it, yet it is the same wind blowing where it listeth. This might represent cases like John the Baptist and little ones who cannot tell and experience like Saul of Tarsus. They cannot tell of some great and miraculous change they have somehow found themselves in love with the Old or Primitive Baptist Church and desiring to live with them. And if this poor writer had been required to have and to tell more than that he could never have had this sweet home with them. In hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND
ANOTHER DEAR SERVANT GONE
News has come to me that my dear friend and brother, Elder R. A. Cooper, of Macon, Ga., died suddenly of a heart attack. This is truly sad news to me. He was not only a true friend to unworthy me, but our Mt. Zion Association had no better friend in Georgia nor any other state in the U. S. A. He had visited among our churches and in our homes often during the years, and proved his love and fellowship for us. I am sure that he was dearly loved by our people. He was all humility and no jealousy at all. No true Primitive Baptist could help loving him, if he wanted to.
He was about a year younger than this old writer, and .many have been the pleasant hours, days and nights that I have spent with him, both in my poor home and in conveying him from church to church, and to our good homes among the plod Old Baptists in several counties and associations in this state and in Georgia. It was joy to me and also to him, for he said so. Now he is with the Lord, forever done with all sorrow and suffering and his "corner," as he called it, in my car is forever vacant, unless filled by some other worthy servant of his God. I can not express my feelings at this time. Oh, that I could live as devoted to our God as he did.
S. E. COPELAND
IN LOVING MEMORY OF ELDER G. E. GRAVES
Our beloved moderator is gone from us to live with God in the glory world. He was laid to rest beside his dear wife, who preceded him to their final resting place, just eleven months to a day ; on the same day of the month ; each on Saturday, meeting time, at Salem, their home church, and both in this association year just closed. Both lived most exemplary lives, worthy of emulation by all, young and old. Yes, a prince in Israel has fallen, and, oh, how we shall miss him, his safe leadership, his godly counsel, his loving brotherly fellowship and companionship. He was universally loved and honored among and by all Old Baptists, and his spotless character and life before men compelled those without to give a good report of him, whether they liked his doctrine or not. He shunned not to declare the doctrine in its purity, never in the form of hailstones, but always as the small rain, gentle dew, and showers upon the grass, never beating and crippling the tender plants of God's new creation. He worked with his own hands to support himself and family, and so did his God-given companion. They reared a family of three boys to honorable manhood. Both were self-sacrificing and faithful in the trials and hardships of life. During the thirty years this unworthy writer has been blessed to live in the church, it has been my blessed privilege to be closely associated with Brother Graves, and in all of that time I have not heard him utter one word in anger, nor in profanity, nor in obscenity, nor in malice. He was a clean man ; and so many times he has expressed to me his great desire not to be a burden to his brethren. That desire has caused him to labor long and hard to earn support for himself and family. Yet, he was never too busy to answer calls for his services to any others. I know that he often went through heat or cold, snow, rain, and mud at his own expense, yet never once did I hear him complain at his hard lot in life.
Some Old Baptists tried to do their duty by him, while some, I fear, were too neglectful of him. He used to tell me that he felt as duty-bound to take as good care of whatever the brethren gave him, as if he had worked for it with his own hands. It has been one of the joys of my poor life to take him in my car to many good meetings, and to visit in many good homes, traveling thousands of miles among the Old Baptists and their friends. Several timse I have washed his feet in our many heavenly communion meetings, but that is all over now. Yesterday, we, a great congregation of sorrowing brethren, sisters and friends, looked on his pleasant face for the last time in this world, and then laid him to rest in sight of the place where he was born, and where he had lived all of his life of 59 years. Many tears were shed by both young and old (little boys and little girls—how they did love him!) , and how happy will be our next meeting with him ! No tears of sorrow there ; no more sin ; no sickness, suffering and death. There we hope to meet him again, all together, with our heavenly Moderator, in a meeting that shall never end. Most unworthily,
S. E. COPELAND, Clerk
COPELAND AND DEW
MY FIRST LETTER
Guntersville, Ala., Feb. 27, 1921.
ELDER JAS. F. DEW:
Dear Elder—I have been reading your page under the head "Baptist Boys and Girls" in The Baptist Flag, and your talk to the boys and girls in that paper for Feb 3 especially attracted my attention, and I have read it over again several times. Now I am a larger and older boy than I used to be, but from a very small boy I have had serious thoughts on religious things and desired to learn all I could and to be right—to know the truth. Therefore, I will enclose a stamp for postage and ask you to explain some things a little more fully for my satisfaction and information. You say that as a result of. Adam's sin all boys are born with a sinful nature, but are safe under the shed blood of Jesus until they reach the years of accountability, when they pass from under His blood and die spiritually.
Now, please tell me just when do we reach the age of accountability, and how we may know when we get there? You say we are born with sinful natures. Please explain the difference between our sinful nature now and our sinful nature after we shall have reached the age of accountability and passed from under Jesus' blood and died spiritually? I am so anxious to know!. You say sin came into the world by Adam. Ro 5:12. I turned and read it and find that it says also "and death by sin." Now if sin is the cause of death after we reach the age of accountability what causes sweet little babies and small children to die before they reach that age, and while they are safe under Jesus' blood? If I know my heart I want to know the truth. You say that because of Adam's sin all people everywhere are lost. I suppose you mean all except the little ones that have not reached the age of accountability? But please explain how these have sinful natures and yet are not sinners.
There are other things I need more information about but fear I might tax your patience with too long a letter. So, hoping to have a reply by early mail, I close for this time.
S. E. COPELAND.
REPLY TO FIRST LETTER.
Magnolia, Ark., Mar. 3, 1921.
MR. S. E. COPELAND:
My Dear Brother—Your interesting letter of the 27th ult. reached me today, and I hasten to answer, as per your request. You will note the change in address. I have accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist Church here, and have just moved to this field, and in due time a notice of this will appear in the dear old Flag. Now for your questions.
The years of accountability vary with different people. With some children it is as early as four or five, and with others probably ten or twelve. As soon as the ' person knows right from wrong; that he should not do a thing, and that thing, is sin to do so. I was in a meeting in Iowa some years ago and Brother J. M. Wilson's little daughter, Dorothy, who was then only four, cried with a broken heart and wanted to repent of her sins, accept Jesus and come forward and make a public profession, and was restrained by her parents, they thinking that she did not realize what she was doing. At night after returning home she again told them she knew what she was doing, and wept over her sins, though she was a model child. She was conscious of her sinfulness.
When we know that we have sinned; that we have done wrong; that we have acted as we should not have, that is proof sufficient that we have passed from under the blood and need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. (Mr 1:15; Lu 13:3; Joh 5:24; Ro 10 and Ac 16:29-30.)
The difference between the sinful nature we received from Adam and the sinful nature after we have passed from under the blood of Jesus is the difference between a passive and an active condition. The child that has the sin of Adam (and we all have) did not actively sin, but was inactive and passive, and in a certain sense inherited that sin. The child's sin inherited from Adam could be illustrated by the poison nature of the small snake before it grew any fangs, or poison bag. It is not active, yet within the very being of that little snake are the germs of poison, and so are the germs of sin within our very nature, that will break forth when we become old enough to know and choose good or evil. The child did not sin to cause it to have the nature that it had at birth, but the nature is inherited from Adam. The child soon after being able to do anything does sin, and thus wilfully and deliberately does wrong, and sin of its own accord. Thus it is active in its own sins.
The death spoken of in Ro 5:12 is not merely a physical death, or the separating of the soul and body, but it is spiritual death, or separating of the soul from God. Little children do die spiritually as soon as they reach the years of accountability. Of course physical death also is the result of Adam's sin, too, but Jesus did not make atonement to deliver people from physical death, but from spiritual death. Be careful to note just what the words mean in the Bible. In Genesis where the serpent and Eve are talking she says the Lord said they would die if they partook of the forbidden tree, and they did die spiritually at that very moment, and doubtless the germs of physical death set in, but they died spiritually the very minute they WILLED to disobey God and partake of that fruit, though it was years after before physical death ; and Russellites and others try to make God a liar because they did not die physically then.
As said above, the sinful nature that the children have before they reach the years of accountability is inherited from Adam. (Ps 51:5; Jer 13:23; 17:9; Job 14:4 and Ge 3; Joh 3:6; Eph 2:3; 2Co 11:3; Re 20:2; also read Lu 13:5; Mr 1:5; Ac 20:21; Joh 3:16 and Joh 5:24.)
I am glad to have had this letter from you. If anything is not clear I shall be very glad to write you again. Feel free to call on me for anything I can do. How about getting half a dozen new subscribers to the Flag? Let's help Brother Moore this spring and summer, for they deserve our help. All good wishes. Truly and sincerely,
JAS. F. DEW.
MY SECOND LETTER.
Guntersville, Ala., Mar. 21, 1921.
ELDER JAS. F. DEW:
Dear Sir—Your kind letter of the 3rd inst. came to me while I was sick in bed and it was read with interest. Thank you for prompt answer, and also for telling me to feel free to call on you again if anything is not clear to me. Some things are still not quite clear to me. I looked up and read every Scripture that you referred me to as your proof texts but cannot yet understand just how the small children have sinful natures and yet are not sinners, but are safe under Jesus' blood until they arrive at the age of accountability, then die spiritually. Please do tell me where to find the Scripture proof of this, as I find on reading your letter again that you referred me to many as proof of your answers to my other questions, but none for this one. I don't know much about the Bible, but sometimes enjoy reading it, and I want to know more about it. For, as stated in my first letter, I am an older and larger boy than I once was, and suppose that I have arrived at the age of accountability, for I often feel to be a sinner, and that I have done wrong. If passing from under the blood of Jesus makes one feel that way and causes him to die spiritually, then I must have reached that awful state some time in the past. But I desire to know the truth and be saved, and now if I am in the number and condition of those described in Ro 3:9-18 please tell me how to get out and be saved from it. I read where a man asked Jesus (Mr 10:17) what he must do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus didn't tell him anything he might do to inherit eternal life. Then I read (Joh 3:3) where He told Nicodemus that "except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." And I suppose that by "man" He means also boys and girls that have arrived at or crossed over the line of accountability. So, then, please tell me what we must do to be born again. If we are all spiritually dead, and all in the condition that Paul describes in Ro 3, how are we to repent of our sins, and believe in Jesus, there being no fear of God before our eyes? I don't want to intrude on your patience and valuable time too much, but if you will explain these things to me fully in harmony with your teaching concerning the line of accountability you will have done me a great favor. May I still feel assured that instead of it being any burden on you it is a pleasure to teach me, since your calling and work is to tell children how to be saved? Hoping to hear from you again soon I enclose a stamped envelope for reply. Your friend,
S. E. COPELAND.
Magnolia, Ark., Mar. 24, 1921.
MR. S. E. COPELAND:
My Dear Sir—Your letter of the 21st. to hand and read with interest. I lay aside everything else to answer immediately, since you say "I suppose that I have arrived at the years of accountability, for I have felt many times that I have done wrong." My friend, I am satisfied that you have reached the age of accountability, and furthermore that if you die as you are now, without God you are lost, and your soul will go out into an eternal hell where there is no hope, but where fhe lost will be punished forever.
1. Let me say first that the question you ask about God's plan for infants under the blood is a question that the lost man need not and should not discuss and study until first he is saved. I will answer your question later on inthis letter, but let me talk with you about your soul now, and you talk with God about it now. The enclosed leaflet "Where are you going to spent eternity?" shows you, step by step, what is necessary to be saved. Of course salvation is from God a free gift and yet you must seek that salvation.
2. You are in the class in Ro 3. Paul showed in the first chapter (Ro 1) that the heathen are lost because of their practice, and that the Jews are lost because of their violation of the law, and that the law (Ro 3:19) was given for the specific purpose of showing the Jews were sinners and shutting their mouths, and making them acknowledge they were sinners and lost. You have admitted that you were a sinner, and if you are a sinner friend, you are unrighteous in God's sight and lost (Mt 13:49-50) and your soul will be cast into the "furnace of fire" which is hell. It is awful to think about but it is true. If you know you are a sinner (and you are) the first thing for you to do is to repent, look, with sorrow to God. Confess your sins asking Him to forgive them, and believing, trusting, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. (Mr 1:15; Lu 13:3; 2Co 8:10; Joh 5:24; 3:16-18; 6:37; Ro 10:9-13; Joh 1:12; Tit 2:14.) Now from these Scriptures you will find that you (a) must be sorry for your sins toward God, forsaking them by the help of God; (b) must believe, accept, come to, trust Jesus as your personal Saviour because He became your substitute, bearing your sins in His own body and suffering all you would have suffered if you had gone to hell and stayed there forever. (c) You must call upon God in the name of Jesus. In other words, pray. Get your father or mother or some Christian friend to pray with you, and then pray yourself, or else get out alone and pray to God. Of course you can pray silently, but it is better to pray out loud. You must pray for yourself. (d) Keep on praying. The Lord said you must have sorrow. Do you have it? He said you must hear and believe. Do you believe in Christ and the best you can accept Him as your Saviour? He said "him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Then if He receives you when you come the best you know; if you will do your part the best you know, can you not trust Him to do His part? Trust Him regardless of any feeling. Of course you ought to feel happy, but do not trust a feeling or look for a feeling instead of a Saviour.
Now will you get on your knees and pray? Get right with God before you read any more of this letter. Let the remainder alone until you are saved by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8) . Pray now. If you are not saved now keep on and on and on until God saves you. He wants to save you.
I will try to finish this letter in a few days, writing you fully about the question you are interested in. But let me caution you not to worry about the others now, but first get right with God, and then after you are saved study these questions and problems. Write me any time. I am glad to hear from you. Sincerely and truly,
JAS. F. DEW.
REMARKS—On the back of above quoted letter is a picture of "Death" on a pale horse with his scythe drawn, and another picture of the devil in most hideous features, and queries "Where will you spend eternity," etc.
Guntersville, Ala., April 14, 1921.
ELDER JAS. F. DEW:
Dear Sir and Friend—After long waiting I am writing you again. In your letter of March 24, you answered in a brief way some of my questions and said in closing that you would try and finish that letter in a few days and write me fully about the question I was most interested in. And now I have waited and watched every mail for some time expecting to receive a fuller answer but have been disappointed. I have known for some time that 1 am a great sinner, yet my greatest desire and my little hope is that I may by the grace of God be permitted to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
And I am still much interested in all of the questions asked in my other letters to you. You say you are satisfied that I have reached the age of accountability; that I am in the class referred to in Ro 3; and that if I die as I am now my soul will go out into an eternal hell. You say the first thing for me to do is repent, look with sorrow to God. How can I since in that class there is none that seeketh after God; there is no fear of God before their eyes ; they already have all that their depraved hearts can wish, etc. Next you say I must believe. Well, now, I would rather be a true believer than anything I can think of, so please tell me how to believe in Him. Do please ! tell me how to believe and how to have godly sorrow voluntarily. You say I must pray, but Ro 3:14 says the mouth of all of this class is full of cursing and bitterness. So if I am one of them how can I pray? And you say it is better to pray out loud than silently. Why so, if God already knows the very secrets and intents of my heart? And if my mouth is full of cursing and bitterness no room in there for prayer anyway. I suppose this class is the same as the one in 1Co 2:14 where it says the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them. And I suppose that real true prayer is a thing of the Spirit, so how am I to know a prayer if I hear it—or should say it myself? If I cannot receive nor know the things of the Spirit, nor cannot please God, what on earth can I do to be saved? My heart's desire is to be right, and above all, to be saved, and you say God wants to save me, then what or who can hinder Him? You say Jesus became my substitute, bearing my sins in His own body and suffering all that I would have suffered if I had spent eternity in hell. Oh, what a friend He must be to a vile sinner like me! But still you say if I don't repent, believe, pray, etc., I will go to hell. I will ask, what for? Is not God just? Would He still hold the debt against me after His beloved Son had paid it in full, suffering as you say all of the agonies of hell in my room and stead? I know I am ignorant. Don't know much, but want to know more. So please make it all as plain to me as you can. I cannot be content until you answer my questions about the infants, and also tell me why some reach the years of accountability at an earlier age than others: But I hope to hear from you again soon. Would not worry you with so many letters but you keep assuring me that you are glad to hear from me, and to help me all you can. So I will add these to be answered in your next letter : Are those in the class you referred to dead in sin? Am I dead to the things of God? I keep thinking about what Jesus said to Nicodemus. "Ye must be born again." Please tell me how to be born again. Find stamp for reply. Yours as before,
S. E. COPELAND.
Magnolia, Ark., Apr. 18, 1921.
Rush of work has partly prevented me from writing you more at length. Your letter read with interest, and I must confess that I think you are more interested in a debate than you are in the salvation of your soul. If you spend your time trying to reconcile and harmonize "free agency" and "divine sovereignty" you are certain for hell. Logic is mighty tricky sometimes. To illustrate, look at this syllogism: June apples are read. This apple is red, therefore it is a June apple, and it might be any one of a number of other red apples.
If you will spend as much time praying God to forgive and save you as you do on looking for hard and difficult questions you will find Christ regardless of logic. My advice to you is to pray. Pray God to forgive you your sins. Very truly,
James F. Dew
I began the foregoing correspondence intending to just gradually lead the preacher along and see how far he would go teaching his' man-made Babylonish doctrine to children and call it gospel teaching. But it seems like he got an overdose of his own doctrine (Tower of Babel, or confusion) or ran out of soap, or something, for look how short he stopped and left me disappointed with so little of the "information" I hoped to gain. Then I laid these letters all away among other papers and just recently came across them again. I wanted to know before he quit whether the babies had eternal life before they crossed the line of accountability and died spiritually, or while they were "safe" under Jesus' blood. It seems that he would have us believe that they are live sinners before they cross the line and nothing required of them to do, but as soon as they cross the line and die they must go to work with a vim. Not required to do any work while they live but plenty of it required after they die. What wonderfully confusing doctrine that is! And poor little Dorothy, broken-hearted, weeping and ;mourning, wanted to repent and accept Jesus, but her parents hindered her. I wonder if they kept her from being saved ! Guess the parson forgot that Jesus said, "Blessed (already) are they that mourn." Notice, too, how he says we may know that we have crossed over the line and passed from under the blood and died spiritually, with some of his proof-texts, especially Joh 5:24, which reads: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life." Something crooked here. Jesus says somebody has just passed from death into life, but our preacher says they have just crossed the line of accountability into death ! Poor preacher. I'm thinking some about getting sorry for him. Another of his proofs, Ac 16:29. I guess the jailer has crossed the line, or maybe some of the children of the family had crossed, and in this particular case the old daddy had to do the believing in order to save them. And how nice it would have been, if that little snake had been good and never crawled about and struck at anything so he could develop dangerous fangs and a poison bag. And under pressure for an answer on the infant question he says the lost man should not discuss it; that I must first get myself saved, that salvation is from God a free gift, yet I must do something to get it. Even so I can get free goods from any merchant in town by paying for them.
In his leaflet "Where are you going to spend eternity?" he quotes 2Pe 3:9 this way: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness ; but is long-suffering to you ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." All of whom His leaflet is addressed to lost souls who have crossed the line and died spiritually. But Peter was writing "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God our Saviour Jesus Christ" and not to somebody that had crossed over an imaginary line and died, and had no faith. But Preacher Dew says it's us that have crossed the line and died, and so we are dead now, yet we must get busy and do our part so God can do His part save us by grace. He says God wants to save us and will do it if we let Him. He sent His Son to die for us, and He suffered for us all that we would have suffered if we had spent eternity in hell, the just for the unjust, a. perfect offering, but all to no avail unless we who are dead let Him save us. This is the monstrous doctrine of a man who puts himself out to teach children (and grown ups, too) the way of life and salvation. No wonder he got sick and fell overboard—into his mud hole of confusion. On the back of his type-written letter is an advertisement of a revival meeting with two pictures. One is "Death" holding a long scythe and riding a pale horse as fast as he can run. The other is the devil pictured as a most hideous monster grinning and holding his claw-like hands ready to seize you and drag you down through the sulphurous clouds about his horned head into the lake of fire and brimstone. Will a man preach the power that sends him? Are God's servants sent to preach a monster like that? No! They are sent to preach Jesus and His power, and they preach Him. Then who is Dew?
Another thought in studying this Dew doctrine. The little child crosses that fatal line whether he wants to or not. Not much "free agency" in it but plenty of fatalism. For no matter how much and sincerely the little fellow may want to stay on the safe side under Jesus' blood he must pass on over the line out of safety into spiritual death! No way on earth to avoid it except to die a physical death on this side of the line. So the little fellow is in the middle of a bad fIx—between two deaths, and must die one or the other whether he wants to or not. Wonderful "free agency!" And who would be, or is to blame, for the spiritual death of the child, seeing he cannot help crossing the line? If God drew the line and then lets the child live, He thereby compels him to cross over into spiritual death! Now you have God bringing the poor child down into spiritual death right where the devil wants him. That makes God the greates recruiting agent the devil has in the field, surely. But that is Parson Dew's doctrine, and he is not the gentle dew that distills so sweetly on the Lord's tender plants. See De 32:2. If I were a preacher I would almost be ashamed of the fellow that invented that "line." For it is nothing more than the invention of some man. Nothing of the kind in the Bible and the Bible is a thorough furnisher to every good work. Will the parson tell us that God has changed? Has He quit doing His will both in heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth? Can any man come to Jesus through regeneration who is not drawn by the Father? Will any fail to come who were given to the Son? Will He draw at some and they refuse to come, thus thwarting Him in His purpose and desire to save them? Is God's power limited on either side of the preacher's imaginary line of accountability? If so, and God drew the line, did He not voluntarily limit His own power, thus giving Satan the advantage, or more power than Himself? Or if man or the devil drew it and there is no way around it (but over it) who is most powerful? Read Mal 3:6; Da 4:35; Joh 6:24-27 and Mt 1:21, and Mt 28:18.
No, the line is not there, and the gospel truth of the matter is the devil invented that big yarn and his servants (whether they be poor deceived children of God or not) are spinning it into a huge spider web all over this "enlightened" land. God pity His little children who are so blind and thoughtless as to be caught in it. Why, oh, why don't they read some and think much for themselves? And the way, the right way, the good old Bible way is so plain, so easy to find if you will only look for it. "Stand ye in the ways, (false ways) and see, and ask for the good old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."—Jer 6:16.
Not ready to close, but will stop here.
S. E. COPELAND.
TO ELDER ANYBODY:
Do you contend for or hold to the idea that there is no difference between a private trespass or offense and a public offense as we stand related to the Primitive Baptist church?
Do you hold that the Bible requires us to deal exactly alike with private offenses and public offenses? Jesus does not so teach in Mt 18, but maybe you have a more modern rule.
If Brother Someone says or does something to hurt your feelings, and I steal a bale of your cotton or forge a check on your bank account and thus rob or steal from you, where do we find in the Bible the rule for dealing alike with both cases in the church? Would you want the church to labor with me to get me to acknowledge my wrong, ask forgiveness, promise to forge no more checks and then be held by her as a member in full fellowship? Where can we find a Bible rule for laboring by committee or otherwise with a member who is guilty of fornication, or stealing, or lying, or defrauding, or obtaining money under false pretenses or embezzlement, or murder, or drunkenness? Are not all such walking disorderly as church members? If I owe you money or goods justly and refuse to pay you, am I walking orderly, or disorderly? Disorderly of course. And the Bible rule is not to labor with any of these public offenses, but to "withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly." 2Th 3:6. Have no company with him. Verse 14. Nor eat (communion) with them but put them away from among you. 1Co 5:11-13. No labor required or even allowed in such public offenses, but keep our house (church) clean.
S. E. COPELAND.
REFUSED TO PUBLISH
ELDER B. S. COWIN
I have just read with interest your editorial in "The Zion's Landmark" for December 15, 1946. I have read that paper for many years now, and have read in it some good, sound, wholesome doctrine, and some, I think, of every other sort, from the softest Arminianism to the rankest of Fatalism. Those writers are, I suppose, all members of churches in your home state and over the nation. Is it any great wonder that many of our churches are sickly and dying a slow but certain death? It surely seems to me it would take an Old Baptist with a mighty strong constitution to live and thrive on a diet of everything from the softest mush and the hardest rocks, meat, bread, milk, and honey, with plenty of bitter gourds all mixed together in the same pot!
I don't mean to be, nor for my writing to seem, one bit harsh. God help me to write the truth in love for the cause and the truth only. It is truly a deplorable fact Mat there are divisions and factions all over the land, and there is a cause for it,. but God is not the cause, for He is not the author of confusion. Men are the cause and authors of confusion and divisions, many of them jealous, bossy preachers whom churches have worshipped, or at least, utterly failed to discipline as they should. Jesus and His apostles told us what to do and how to do it, but many of us don't have the time, nor even the desire to read and study to learn what our duty is.
Some preach through the pulpit and the press that God is the first great cause of all causes and, therefore, everything has to be just as it is. His predestination embraces everything good and bad. Both good men and wicked men have to do just as they do and cannot do any other way. They disobey God and cannot help it. He commands them to obey Him and keep His commandments, which is their Whole duty, but some preachers say you cannot do it, and they never preach &word of duty to God's people—live sinners—not dead ones. No child of God, nor any set of them, could live and thrive on a year-in and year-out diet of only strong meat, with a good many bones and gravel mixed in. Good meat is fine with the bones and rocks left out, but we need some bread, milk, and sweets (honey) to balance our diet. Yet some of the writers are so afraid of Arminianism and Conditionalism that they leave out everything but the strong meat, even if they put in none of the bones and grit. Just a few have seemed so afraid of predestination—even Bible predestination—that they have failed to put in anything even as solid as bread or honeycomb. ' They have just fed us on a pot of mush, with maybe some nice tender gourds sliced in to "flavor" it—one's doctrine extremely hard, the other's extremely soft. Could these come together in the same body with the truth and all be one in peace? Is there no law of discipline to be executed? Both extremes are heresies and Paul tells us in few words what to do with heretics—after the first and second admonition reject them. Put them out. Not long since, we had a man in my home church who wanted to preach non-resurrection of the dead, and other heresies. We admonished and tried to reason with him even more than the Bible requires, but he vowed that he would not lay it down, for God had put it on him to preach it. We said, "No! God has not required any man to preach a doctrine that His Book condemns!" We brought a charge of heresy and withdrew church fellowship on said charge. Did we do right, or wrong?
I agree with you that there ought not to be factions and divisions among Old Baptists, and that they could come together and be one, if they all wanted to. But what about those heretical doctrines that are being advocated by some of their leaders? ls it Scriptural and according to the Lord's will for a church of His planting to hold in her fellowship those who hold to and preach heresies? I don't think so. Imagine a church of Jesus Christ covenanting together to keep house for Him with some believing and teaching the softest Arminianism, some the doctrine of God our Saviour as taught by Him and His apostles, and some the most God-dishonoring absolutism ! Could that church live and prosper and grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth, while being fed with a conglomeration like that?
Must we swallow that all down and say nothing lest we break the peace and cause divisions? Keeping our house free from heresies does not cause divisions ; but bearing and forebearing too long with heretics does cause divisions and great suffering—and even death to the Old Baptist churches. Yet many (or some, at least) seem so afraid of causing divisions or offending brother or Elder "So and So" that they just let him go on preaching heresy for the sake of "peace" in the church, and that is just what he wants them to do. My observation of the working of Absolutism is that it, like Romanism, will creep in under false pretense of feigned humility and toleration (yes, it loves toleration) until it is strong enough to get the upper hand, and then it is domination, rule or ruin! Then all who may have enough grace and courage to stand against their dictates and demands have "denied the faith" and become "unsound." They are conditionalists; hence they are declared against—nonfellowshipped. Thus, as I see it, many divisions have been caused by dictators and hobby-riders, and if you don't bow to them you have denied the faith. You are no longer a sound Old Baptist, although you may have been one hundred per cent up till such time as "Elder So and So" got wise above that that was written, dictated his terms, and made his demands. But now he and his blinded followers are holier than you and will not come near you nor allow you to come near them. They have declared against you and will not fellowship you—not because of anything you have done more than refuse to follow man or men. You stand yet right where you stood when all were together on Bible principles before "Elder So and So" saw his "revelation" and got so wise. You may have been asleep and lukewarm on the job and failed to apply the remedy in time. No doubt we, too, often do get in that condition. No doubt some would-be leaders, whether elder or layman, could be saved from their headlong course if we, the churches, were all awake and on the job, letting them know in time that they belong to the church, and not the church to them; that they are servants only—not dictators or bosses.
Yes, we see fewer and fewer visiting our churches in many parts of the country. Too many in nearly every part are worshipping mammon or riches instead of God, and that is idolatry. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and mammon. Many don't have the time to serve God. It is all used serving mammon. Some who are supposed to be God's called servants are telling His people that He has as many in His church and service as He wants there. If He wanted more He would put them in there. They are so afraid of "conditionalism" or that they might get a dead alien into the fold they will not even encourage God's children to come in.
I believe in the sovereignty of God and that He foreknew everyone of His people, elected them, and predestinated their eternal salvation from their sins. He has saved and will save as they come along in time all for whom Jesus died on the cross. They do nothing—not required to do anything in order to eternal life and salvation, but after He does that for them, from that time on as long as they live here in time there is much required of them as His children in doing the good works which He has ordained (not predestinated) that we should walk in them. He prepared or appointed them as a loving, heavenly Father for the good of His heaven-born children, for their salvation here in time.
Now I am aware of the fact that some God-dishonoring (not to say blaspheming) Can't-Help-It would probably explode if he should read this, and say he has never read in the Bible of any time salvation. Well, possibly he has not, but that only proves to me that he hasn't read much, if any, of the Bible. However, if his doctrine is the truth, I suppose we have no right to blame or criticize him for not reading it. He couldn't read it, he being only a "tool" in God's hand. He is the "hammer" in God's hand—doing only what God does with him. I haven't read of any sort of tool chest being used by the Lord ; so I can but wonder where will the "Can't-Help-It" be when the Lord comes with His reward to give to every man according as his work shall be?
"If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land." That is time salvation. "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." That is time salvation. "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, and you shall find rest, unto your souls." That is time salvation. But I don't read, nor hear of any "Can't-Help-It" absoluter preaching it. Without it the Bible is not harmony, but a bundle of contradictions—a tangled hank that no man on earth can unravel or understand. Paul told Timothy to save himself and those that heard his preaching, and Paul was not an Arminian. He was not telling Timothy to do anything to save himself or tell anyone else with an eternal salvation after this life and time. Neither was he telling the Phillippian brethren to do anything to change their eternal destiny, when he told them to work out their own salvation. Jesus had already saved them with an everlasting or eternal salvation and now Paul was teaching them to obey God and keep His commandments as His children; to observe all things "whatsoever I have commanded you."
I have, in my seventy years on this earth, learned a few things and observed that the preaching of Absolutism will (if that serpent is not soon beheaded) kill any Old Baptist church on earth. I have seen just a little of its stealthy crawling in "under the grass" and heard it from the stand and read it in books and papers. If churches were awake and alert—on the lookout for it—and as soon as they find it reject it in no uncertain terms and actions, many lives and churches could be saved to the Primitive Baptists. We can never make a rattlesnake safe to hold in our bosom by fondling and petting it in order to avoid hurting its feelings or offending it or causing a "division." Yet many have said "Let it alone; let's all go on in peace together. I cannot believe his doctrine, not all of it, but just take the good and pass. by or ignore the bad and all go on together without a division." Is that the way God's word teaches us to manage heresy? No, it is not. But if we are afraid we might cause a division. Just let it alone and see how soon it will be wielding its "coachwhip" over a divided or "dead" church. A good old brother in a distant state wrote me once about two large associations in his country that one time had fifteen hundred members on roll. Then Absolutism and its mate, preacher bossism (they go together, I see) got in and did their poisonous, deadly work until, at the time he wrote me, there were barely eighty-eight (88) members left out of those fifteen hundred (1500)! No wonder! No church can live on an exclusive diet of rancid meat and old, dry bones (of contention, may I say?) and not a drop of cold water to help them swallow it. I mean by rancid meat "absolute predestination of all things whatsoever comes to pass"—the most God-dishonoring doctrine that one claiming the name Primitive Baptist can be guilty of preaching, surely! If allowed to come in and stay with us, it not only causes divisions but death. If any think I am not telling the truth just follow around in its wake and see what is left in places where once the Old Baptists were numerous, happy, and prosperous, as, where those fifteen hundred were.
Jesus told His church in its young days how to handle her preachers and others who become unruly or bossy. If your right eye offend you, pluck it out and cast it from you. If your right hand offend you cut it off. Put them out, even if one is your biggest and smartest preacher. Let him repent, and his head shrink on the outside till he becomes less than the least of all saints. Better for the church to have one eye and be in peace without any division than to have two eyes and two hands and the whole body in hellfire, division, or death.
The great apostle told the Romans what to do with such as cause divisions. Mark them and avoid them, for they serve not our Lord, but their own belly. As that old brother wrote me they said, "While I hold the reins here things will be done as I say." As much as to say, "I am boss and what I want I will have regardless."
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." Jesus says His disciples are the salt of the earth. Is it not high time they were obeying Him?
S. E. COPELAND.
Elder Cowin wrote me endorsing my letter above, but it failed to get in the Landmark. Was returned to me without comment. S. E. C.
ANSWERING A COUSIN
Your letter came to me yesterday. I will endeavor to answer your questions the best I can. I don't claim to know much about the Bible, but I do know that it says "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be throughly furnished unto all good works." See 2Ti 3:16-17. Throughly means continuing all the way through to the end. Now lets keep this in mind, that the Bible furnishes everything we need to know, do, or practice religiously. Does it tell us that revealed things belong to us, but secret things to God? Then let's remember that, and try to get whatever is ours but not try to pry into things that belong only to the all-wise God.
Now for your questions:
1. Was the Garden of Eden here on the earth or up in heaven?
Answer. Was Adam created in heaven, of heavenly substance or material? I think I read where he was formed of the dust of the ground, and God gave him for meat every herb, and every tree, all on the face of the earth. He planted a garden eastward in Eden, and He made to grow out of the ground every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food. If the trees in the garden grew out of the ground then sureloy the garden must have been on the earth.
2. Was Adam created mortal or immortal?:
Answer. If he had been immortal he would have been exempt from death. Did he die?
3. If Adam had not sinned would he ever have died?
Answer. "IF?" But he sinned. Does the Bible tell us what would have happened "if" he hadn't sinned? "Revealed things for us and secret things to God." Can you beat it?
4. If he had not died he would have lived forever, and wouldn't that have proved that he was immortal?
Answer. But he died, and didn't live forever.
5. But on account of sin he did die and doesn't that prove that he was mortal?:
6. Is there a difference between eternal life and immortality?
Answer. Eternal life is evberlasting life, continuing without intermission, endless. Immortality means the condition or quality of being immortal; exemption from death or annihilation; unending existence.
In other words can a person live eternally and never die and yet not be immortal?
Answer. If one has eternal life he has the life of Christ. "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish." Therefore, immortal, forever in the presence of God.
8. If Adam had not sinned and thus brought death upon himself, where would he have spent his endless life?
Answer . Right where the Bible says he would. Look it up; and when you find it give me book, chapter and verse.
9. Would he have lived forever in the earthly paradise where he was placed, or would he have developed wings and flown away to some place beyond the stars, called heaven?
Answer. Same as No. 8, please.
10. If Adam could not go to heaven without dying and could not die without sinning, doesn't that prove that sin and death are blessings to the race?
Answer. Was he blessing himself when he was violating God's holy law, or was God blessing him by compelling him to go contrary to His command after warning him of the dreadful curse that he would bring upon himself if he disobeyed? If so, I suppose there is such a monstrosity as a cursed blessing. How about our text?
11. Did Adam and his race lose an earthly home or a heavenly home?
Answer. He was put out of the Garden all right. Where was the garden?
12. If Jesus Christ came to restore to the race that which was lost through Adam's fall, what will He restore?
Answer. If that is what He came to do I guess He did it. He said He had finished the work He came to do. Let's turn and read it in Mt 1:21. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus : for He shall restore to the race that which Adam lost in the fall."
How does that sound? Yes, I missed it considerably—but I was quoting from the "Russellated" version. If Jesus died only to restore to the race that which was lost when Adam fell, would that be saving anybody in heaven, seeing they were not in heaven to start with? It would only make us (Adam) a "very good" natural man, and place him back in the Garden of Eden where he failed to keep the law in the first instance, so have we any assurance that he would keep it in the second?
13. Was Adam a human unit, a single individual, or was he two individuals in one?
Answer. According to the Scriptures he was one Adam. We don't hear the Lord calling him Adams, in the plural, as if he were a double-barreled contraption or a freak of nature.
14. If Adam was composed of two parts, soul and body, which part was the real Adam?
Answer. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath bf life ; and man, became a living soul." Ge 2:7. Did He distinguish between the "two parts" and call one "the man" and the other "the real man?" If not, why should we? Haven't we already seen that the Scripture is a perfect thorough furnisher? Is it good logic to divide a thing into two parts and call either the one or the other part "the real thing?" The real man was the one the Lord formed of the dust, into whose nostrils He had breathed the breath of life, and he became a living soul—a living man—and the most wonderful machine that exists on this earth, and yet the most God-dishonoring of all created things.
15. Which part was it that could think, feel, understand and be responsible for its conduct?
Answer. It was the man, called Adam.
16. Which part was it that sinned, the soul or the body?
Answer. It was the man, called Adam, that sinned
If it was the soul that sinned, why did the innocent body have to suffer for it?
Answer. It was the man that had become a living soul that sinned, and he, the man, has to suffer for it . He died as God said he should if he disobeyed His law.
18. And if it was the body that sinned and was condemned, why is it said that souls have to be saved?
Answer. When I use the term souls, I mean human beings, men and women, just like the first man was after he had become a living soul and violated God's law and fell under the curse. These poor, depraved, fallen creatures are the souls that must be saved if they ever enjoy heaven and eternal bliss. The man, body and spirit.
19. When God said to Adam as recorded in Ge 2:17 "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" which part of Adam was God talking to?
Answer. He was talking to all of him—the man, Adam. Have you ever read where He talked to only a part of him, his hands, his legs, his foot or toe?
20. What does the word "thou" refer to in Ge 2:17? Answer. It refers to Adam, the man that God had made.
21. If you say it refers to the soul, then what does the same word "thou" refer to in Ge 3:19?
Answer : The same Adam, or man, addressed in Ge 2:17, the man, Adam. Have you ever read where He talked to only a part of him, his hands; his legs, his foot or toe?
22. How many different penalties were passed upon Adam for his sin?
Answer. He brought death upon himself just as God forewarned him that he should do if he disobeyed His command. As I understand it he fell from a state of innocence before God; died in sin, and ceased to be a "very good" man. While he did not literally pass from this world in corporeal death until hundreds of years later he was subject to it and was dying from that hour. Insert the marginal reading "dying thou shall die" found in a reference Bible, just before "thou" in the latter clause of Ge 2:17 and you will get my meaning.
Webster, our authority for the meaning of English words, says, "die" means to perish everlastingly ; to suffer divine wrath and punishment in the future world. So man by his own act doomed himself to eternal woe and misery so far as his own ability to recover himself from his fallen state is concerned.
23. Was one penalty pronounced against his soul and another against his body?
Answer. Does the Bible say "Thy soul shall die," or "Thy body shall die," or does it say "Thou shalt surely die?" Please tell me book, chapter and verse that authorizes us to dissect a man and say which part died and which part did not die.
24. Is the penalty mentioned in Ge 2:17 a different penalty from the one mentioned in 3: 19?
Answer. I think Ge 2:17 has reference to man's death in sin, and also to his corporeal death, and 3: 19 to his depraved state, and death of the body and its return to earth. Death is the penalty in both.
25. If there was just one penalty what was it?
26. Does the Bible say it was death, a returning to dust?
27. Or does it say it was an endless life of misery in a burning hell?
Answer. These have all been answered in the foregoing. The penalty for violation of God's law is death. I have given the meaning of "die" according to Webster, and the same authority says "death" means separation or alienation from God. This is the condition all men are in while in a state of nature and nothing short of the grace and mercy of God will save them from spending eternity in that condition. Unless redeemed by the blood of Jesus "these shall go away into everlasting punishment" where their worm never dies and where the fire is not quenched. To know that I should have to spend eternity with wicked men, banished from the presence of God, would be a burning hell to me, and I think all of this is very plainly taught in the Bible.
28. Did Jesus really die on the cross, or was it just His body that died?
Answer. How would it sound to say Jesus and red Jesus? Did the angel tell Mary that she should have a son and a real son? If so how did Joseph know which to call Jesus? It was Jesus who died on the cross for the sins of His people, and rose again for their justification. If not so, woe is unto all of us and to those deluded and tossed about by that Russellite wind of doctrine. Why don't they take Paul's advice to Timothy in his second letter 2Ti 2:23? "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid," and some or all of the third chapter. And to you I would say "be ye steadfast, unmovable." 1Co 15:58 and Col 2:5. Don't be tossed about by their—not a doctrine, but a—wind of doctrine. It can't stand the test—the Bible test.
Your old cousin,
S. E. COPELAND.
DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD
We have had a Royal Visitor in our little city (church), and we feel greatly revived and built up in the most holy faith. If we are not woefully deceived, our blessed, lowly Jesus came riding into our little town last Friday morning on that colt whereon man never sat (Mr 11), and He remained with us for three happy, heavenly days. Now we are again reminded that our little city (church) is not forsaken (Isa 62), and we are made to hope that our salvation has come, that we are among the redeemed of the Lord, the sought out, a holy people, a city not forsaken. He sent His humble servants laden with a gospel feast for us all, and we do verily believe that He came with them, and in the Spirit of His power, aided them in spreading it before us. They came from many parts of our country, about ten states and at least nineteen associations being represented, yet all brought the same good old, yet always new, story of Jesus and the blessed good things He has in store for His humble, obedient people. All seemed to have had the same wise and good Teacher, and to have learned the same great lessons, yet being separated by many hundreds of miles, and some may never have heard that the others were even in the world.
All came preaching peace by Jesus Christ, the peace that He left with His people, and if a discordant note was sounded, this poor old writer failed to hear it. I am having reference to our own beloved Mt. Zion Association, which met this time with our loving little band at Little Branch, my home church. Thank God for her. She is a blessed, good home for a little, old, unworthy me, and she is nearer and dearer to me as I grow older and nearer to the end of my way. I want to live and die in their love and fellowship. Let me be the very least one in the band, and all in perfect peace. Every church in our large body of twenty-two reported peace, as did all of our correspondents and visitors, so how else could we do than have good meetings with sweet peace the theme throughout? The very Spirit of Jesus seemed to pervade the place as those overflowing crowds sat under the drippings from the sanctuary. It was indeed the city of our solemnities. (Isa 33.) All seemed solemn, yet happy. I cannot describe what I saw and felt.
This poor old scribbler had been sick for nearly a month before the meeting began, and under treatment of a doctor. But when the Great Physician came riding into town (Mt 21), and His humble servants came in His great name, something happened. I forgot to be sick or to be troubled about anything; just forgot everything in this wide world except the things we were seeing, hearing, and feeling in that little heaven here below. Elder T. L. Wilson prayed the first prayer. Elder Fred Stewart preached the introductory sermon, and God was surely with him to own and to bless. I felt that it would be so when, on making the announcement, I saw, that head humbly-bow toward the floor and heard that plaintive groan. He went down in humility, and the Lord raised him up and enabled him to lay a foundation that no man can destroy or tear up. All that followed came in like humble spirit and builded ably, humbly, and beautifully on the good foundation that had been laid.
All were little preachers. They seemed to feel to be as Paul was—less than the least. That is the kind we love and want to visit us. We don't need any big preachers —those who think their job is to regulate the Old Baptists, and to dictate to them what they must do. Not one hint of such did I hear out of any of the three times seven (twenty-one) who visited us this time. That includes our regular correspondents, all that came this time. The least is the greatest (Mt 18), the one who esteems himself the least. Dear Elder Clevenger asked some one, "What is the smallest package you ever saw wrapped up?" Then he answered, "It is any Old Baptist preacher who becomes wrapped up in himself." Well, that is God's truth, and it will fit a layman of that sort as well as a preacher. None of the little great preachers are in that class, thank the Lord. They are too big to be that little, and too little in their feelings to try to so exalt themselves before God and their brethren. I have a habit of calling the little, great preachers, whom I love, "two by fours," and they take no offence, probably considering the source. No, but our love is mutual, as they have often manifested to me. And who would not rather be a "two by four" than a "naught by nothing," as we see one occasionally make of himself? Some are not gifted as others are, but whatever gift he may have from God, it will make room for him (all that he can occupy), and bring him before great men (Pr 18:16) , and the great Old Baptists who are awake and on the job will be pretty apt to see and recognize his gift Without any voluntary advertising by himself; yes, why even those truly gifted hold back and try not to advertise themselves.
Of those twenty-one who came to our meeting, I heard not one talk about any trouble anywhere, nor manifest any jealousy toward any brother preacher. All seemed to be thinking of better things, and I know they talked of better things, which all made their coming among us very comforting to us all. And the fact that they found us all in peace and can so report to their people back home is also a comfort to us, and no doubt a pleasure to them. I had intended to give every name, but this is growing a little lengthy for a report of a good meeting. We had one elder each from Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, nine from different sections of Alabama, and the rest from Tennessee, or maybe one or two from across the line in Kentucky, but in the Powell's Valley Association. Elder Saylor was very sick some of the time, but his preaching was so good some of us wondered what he did when well. I had met Elders Willard, Tipton, and Wilson in other associations and learned to love them. And now my brethren love you all. Come again. We hope to meet you all in heaven if not here. Two joined at the close.
S. E. COPELAND
CHOOSE THE GOOD WAY
Not long ago I received a good letter from a dear brother in another state, in which he told me about hearing some Old Baptist preachers tell God's people from the stand': if they did not join the Primitive Baptist Church to join some other—"the church of your choice." Is that the way Jesus taught His children to do? No, not at all! He taught His little ones to follow Him! Come into His church, His only church!
The devil tried a long time ago to trade all of the others to Jesus and failed, most magnificently! See Lu 4:5-8. Jesus is not in "some other" nor "any other" not set up by Him. He built His one church!
Even faithful old Joshua, in the long, long ago, did not tell them or advise them to join "some other church." He only suffered them to follow some other god if they were not going to follow and serve the Almighty God! He and his house would serve the Lord. If you are not going the Lord's strait and narrow way, then no matter which one of the other you take. For, they are all together the one broad way that leads to destruction. The way that seems right to a man, and the end thereof are the ways of death. Pr 14:12 and Pr 16:25.
God has never given His people the right to choose any evil way or way of death, but to choose life and live, not death, De 30. Choose the good old way and walk in it! Don't join and walk with them, but seek out the good old way and walk in it. Jer 6:16.
But, they said they would not walk in it. So now I am wondering some more! Would those Primitive Baptist preachers, the brother wrote me about, advise them to walk in one of those other ways? Yes, they did do just that when they advised their hearers to join "some other church," if they were not going to join the Primitive Baptist! Such advice as that is not Primitive Baptist but modern "Baptist" doctrine! I don't know who they are. The brother did not say, but, if I can see straight, they have either gone some where or they are just fixing to go. I do not want any of the. ways—but the good old right way!
So, I would advise any or all little inquiring ones to stand and see and ask for, seek and find the right way, the kingdom or church of God and His righteousness and then walk in it!
It is the true, old-fashioned Primitive Baptist Church without any modern machinery and Arminianism in it "My love, my dove is but one, the only one of her mother, the choice one of her that bear her." All others are Babylon, confusion, do not understand their own doctrine and cannot preach it without crossing themselves, or meeting themselves coming back.
Jesus warns His little ones to come out of her my people. Touch not, taste not, handle not, but be separate! Yet in the face of all of this some modern Primitive (?) or "Primitive" preacher will"progress" so far out of the good old way and bring in Babylonish doctrines, machinery, and .practices and lead whole churches to destruction. Yet, still claiming (falsely) the name Primitive Baptist. It is not sadly so? And why? Answer. Old Baptists walking in our sleep as to duty, and running after wordly things.
S. E. COPELAND
CHILDREN, COME HOME
DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD:
I am wondering what spirit it is that prompts me to write my scattering, disconnected scribbles for our good paper, THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST. I am often thinking of how very far I miss the mark in everything pertaining to godliness. I am thinking of how or why unbelief is one of my besetting sins. Can't just say that it is my besetting sin, for I have so many. Yesterday morning this Scripture came forcibly to my mind: "No good thing will He (God) withhold from them that walk uprightly." Then I asked myself, Why don't I walk uprightly and receive all of the good things? Why do I forsake the things of God and seek after the things of the world? Jesus said "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things shall be added." A plain, positive declaration that we shall have them if we first seek His righteousness. Why am I not always believing and trusting Him? Why don't I first attend to my duties in His kingdom, the church, then those of the temporal kingdom second, instead of reversing His order, or never attending to the first? I have so many times had a desire to write my weak thoughts for the papers, and so often wondered where that desire came from. Many dear ones have written or spoken words of comfort and encouragement to me after reading my little epistles. Sometimes I feel lifted up, but I do hope, not puffed up, and sometimes I feel, oh, so little! Shall I continue to sow seed in the morning and not withhold my hand in the evening, not knowing whether this or that shall prosper or whether both alike? Shall I cast my bread (if indeed it is bread) upon the waters, hoping to find it many days hence? I hope and believe that I did just recently find a sweet morsel when a dear brother was telling me how my little efforts had helped him to find and go to the church some years ago, "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap." (Ecclesiastes eleventh chapter is good reading.) Sure if we pay any attention to the world we will not sow, and if we resist not the temptations of the devil we will not sow good seed, and we never reap much joy looking at dark clouds that so often hover over us. Indeed, I often feel fearful that after all I may be only a tree without fruit, a cloud without water, carried about by the winds of adversity. It seems so often that when I would do good evil is present with me, so that what I would I can't attain; and from what I hate I can't refrain. Why do I so often say Lord, Lord, and yet do not the things that He says? Why can't I lay hold on His promises and trust Him to fulfill them? Why don't we prove Him? How can we prove Him?
"Bring ye all the tithe's into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Mal 3:10. The storehouse is the Lord's church and the tithes are the services which He requires at our hands. A tithe is a truth. Now what if we interpret that literally and we, as His church, the Old Baptists, 'were required to give one full tenth of both our time and earnings into His cause and church? How many of us would likely die of heart failure? Or even if we leave out any and all other offerings and only require each and every member to give just one tenth of his time to the service of God in Old Baptist meetings, how many would starve to death, in his own imagination? One tenth of three hundred and sixty-five days is thirty-six and one-half days in each year. But each church, as a rule, has set apart only twenty-four days in a year for meeting and serving God, and half of those are Sundays. and yet there are too many for some members by at least half of the Saturdays and some of the Sundays. Is this faithfulness? Where is our faith and our trust?
Sometimes I find myself making good resolutions or resolving to mend my ways. It seems that the great king David sometimes did that. I said, "I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue : I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me." It seems that David means to convey the idea that we are liable to sin by saying too much; and also by not saying enough sometimes, for he continues: "I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good ; and my sorrow was stirred." Then is it not good for us to study to know our duty, when to keep silent and when to refrain from keeping silent? I often wonder and inquire in my heart, What am I worth or what profit am I in the Lord's kingdom, the Old Baptist church? I love His doctrine and people above every other on earth, and the happiest times of my life have been spent with them, sweet times when I was made to forget myself and all of my hateful ways, short seasons of joy when I was free from every earthly trouble and care, but these seem so short and I get down in darkness again and looking back over my nearly fifty years of life see what an absolute failure I am. Lord deliver me from all of my transgressions! But in all of my ups and downs there was one act of my life that I have never regretted, and that was my baptism at the hands of dear old Brother Whitforth into the Primitive Baptist Church. That brought calm, sweet, peaceful and lasting relief from the most awful burden that I ever carried in life. I was so weary and heavy laden and yet so very, very stubborn. Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Long before this time I hope it had pleased the Father and Son to reveal Himself to me for I had long since lost confidence in the flesh, for I could not trust myself, nor any man, in the salvation of one like me. Could not even trust myself to obey His loving command and invitation to the very place where I so much wanted to go. I was laboring and so heavy laden, yet afraid of myself, and distrustful of Him. He assured me that the yoke was easy, but my flesh and Satan told me that it was an awful hard and heavy yoke. I brought great sorrow and suffering upon myself by heeding these instead of Jesus. I wanted the rest, and daily and nightly longed and yearned (not to say that I tried to pray) for it, but wanted it before taking the yoke. Trying to reverse His order again. He says take the yoke and learn of Him. I wanted so much to learn a great deal more of Him than I knew, but wanted to learn before taking the yoke. It was fearful to think of me undertaking to cross over the great swollen Jordan of baptism into His promised land, the church. I could not see how the waters of that fearful stream would pile up on the one hand and recede on the other leaving the way open and easy as Jesus said. The Israelites could not see when they stood hack and feared that great swollen river and those giants on the other side, but as soon as they set their feet in the edge of the water in obedience to the divine command they began to see how easy it was. And so have all of the Lord's little ones who have done as Jesus bids them. Surely He did tell the truth when He said, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." Why, it is so easy and light that it actually rests one to work under it! Work and rest both at once? Yes, and it is the little, weak ones that can do this, not the big, strong, self-sufficient fellow. And those giants over there are not so great as we sometimes imagine they are. Just one of the Lord's little ones can chase a thousand of them and two can put ten thousand to flight. It is the little Davids who can do this, the big Goliaths cannot. It is the weak that are strong in this warfare. How different are the Lord's ways from our ways! The great Paul said, "When I am weak then I am strong." That might seem as strange to some as the thought that the little weak ones can work and rest both at once. When he was weak in his own estimation of himself, when he had no confidence in the flesh, he felt utterly unable to do anything to merit the favor of God, then he was strong in the Lord. And the blessed little ones on the outside of the church, when they are enabled to see and feel their littleness and nothingness before God, they are the ones who are laboring and heavy laden, and they are they to whom Jesus says, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." They have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God, and now, to stubbornly refuse to obey Him, as this unworthy writer did for so many years is nothing short of treading under foot the Son of God who died to redeem you, and it is counting the blood of the covenant wherewith you were sancitfied and unholy thing, and doing despite unto the Spirit of grace who hath revealed these great and wonderful things to you. Read and study Hebrews tenth chapter. By refusing to follow Him into His church you are sinning wilfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth, and no doubt you are bitterly experiencing that certain fearful looking for of judgment. Think, just think, how little appreciation we show to Him who has done so much for us, even to dying for us, in our room and stead, and now by His Holy Spirit making the fact known to us, and yet we go our way wilfully sinning against Him!
I know that our brethren differ (though friendly) as to what sinning against the Holy Ghost is, but my experience and the dreadful punishment which I deserved and received makes me believe that this is that unpardonable sin. Just think how that we were all by nature the children of wrath even as others ; how we sinned and fell in Adam ; how by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that all were under sin and. death, both Jews and Gentiles alike, none righteous, no, not one ; none that seeketh after God, none that doeth good, no fear of. God before our eyes, totally depraved, could not please God, nor even discern or know the things of God, and while we were enemies, without God and without hope in the world His dear Son and our Saviour died the most agonizing death of the cross to redeem us from that awful state, and by that one perfect offering forever perfected them that are sanctified or set apart to eternal salvation so that our sins and iniquities He will remember or hold against us no more forever! Where remission of these is there is no more offering for sin. And now the Holy Ghost, God's Holy Spirit is witness unto us putting God's laws in our hearts and writing them in our minds! 0 wonderful, unmerited favor, raising us from what would have been eternal death if it had not been for His love and mercy! Not one thing, even the least thing, required of us to obtain it. And now, dear trembling ones, shall we continue to sin wilfully against this Holy Spirit, denying Him before men and, refusing to follow our Lord through the door of baptism into His church, where there is no more sacrifice for sin, as this unworthy writer did for years? Surely I did sin wilfully after there was no more sacrifice for sin and how I did suffer and fearfully look for judgment after every public and private denial of Him! "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth. Whosoever shall confess Him before men He will confess before the angels of God, but he that denies Him before men He will deny before the angels of God. Lu 12. This denial, of course, is not in eternity. The sin that kept you, His children, out of that eternal kingdom has been put away by the sacrifice of Himself, and will be remembered against you no more forever, but the sin of omission or re- fusing to follow Him, denying Him, you have to suffer for it. And your punishment is everlasting in the sense that it continues without intermission during the present state of things—until we change our manner of life and follow in the ways of obedience to His commands. Even our best friends, the Primitive Baptists, though they be father, mother, brother or sister, cannot pray God to relieve you of your burden and let you remain out of duty. The Holy Spirit does not prompt them to thus pray for you. He doesn't put that prayer into their hearts, so it is not there. Your sins that were charged to the Son have been put away and freely forgiven forever, but this sin is not to be forgiven. For so long I denied by both word and act that had any thought of such things, even sometimes speaking sacrilegiously of them to get rid of those who lovingly and anxiously ventured to speak to me of them exhorting me to duty. And oh, what burning guilt that was! always immediately my reward! Neither is this sin against the Holy Ghost to be forgiven God's children in the church any more than those on the outside. How many of us render perfect obedience to all of the biddings and impressions of the Holy Spirit? Alas, not one! I know that John says the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, but Jesus says the sin against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. We must cleanse our hands. And we read of a sin unto death that we are not commanded to pray for. What have we then, do the apostles and Jesus cross or clash with each other? No. But we must rightly divide the word of truth, for it is all truth. I have often thought of his question and some have asked me: "If the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins alike if He has made satisfaction, if He is the propitiation for all of our sins of every nature alike why do we have to suffer for some of them?" Why do we have to suffer for any that He has freely, fully forgiven? Was not His a perfect offering? Then those for whom He died are released from blame and treated as not guilty. They are pardoned. And now they are duty bound to bring all of the tithes into the storehouse, the church.
Once upon a time, Jesus went out among the tombs, the dead world, and resurrected one of the heirs of promise, regenerated him, made him a new creature in Christ, and he, like many today, wanted to be with and follow Jesus out there, but He suffered him not, but said to him, "Go home to thy friends, 'and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee," as much as to say, "Go to your best friends, the Primitive Baptist church, and tell them your experience and hope in Jesus, and ask them to baptize you, thereby escaping the awful penalty of sinning against the Holy One who hast revealed these things to you and bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God." Read Mr 5. But you will plead your unfitness and sinfulness. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The self-sufficient, self-righteous man is not called on to repent by giving up the world and following after Jesus, but the poor in spiirt like the publican who could not even so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast and begged God to "be merciful to me a sinner." Those that mourn, those that hunger and thirst' after righteousness, not self-righteousness, for they have had their fill of that, and Jesus, their Prince and Saviour, has given them repentance from it. Then "Whosoever (of this class of sinners) therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever (of these same children of God) shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heavn." That does not mean that anyone for whom He died will miss eternal heaven but that they will miss heaven here in time, the sweet peace, joy and comfort that is theirs in His kingdom (church) here. They will not have the Comforter as those who obey Him. We cannot follow father or mother and receive this reward, for He says He came to set men at variance against these. He doesn't cause them to fall out with their parents and mistreat them, but He regenerates and makes new creatures of them, teaching them the truth, putting His laws into their hearts, and thus they are made to cross the views and beliefs of father and mother who become their foes religiously. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me : and He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Mt 9 and Mt 10. Therefore, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The Spirit and the church say, Come into the Old Baptist Church, all that are athirst for these things, come into the same. You have spiritual life or you would not thirst for them. And whosoever will, let him come, for the natural man, dead in sin, has not the will to come. He cares not for these things. He cannot receive or know them.
"And behold, I (Jesus) come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Yes, he is a cash paymaster, and this giving to every man according as his work shall be is not to dead sinners at all, but to His children, and these rewards are not in eternity, but here in this time. Everywhere I go I find trembling jailors and weeping Marys who are hungering for the milk and honey of the Canaan land, the Primitive Baptist church, and I would love to take them by the hand and gently lead them in where they would receive the blessed reward of sweet peace and ease of mind and joy of soul in stead of God's fearful, though righteous judgements out where they are. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Dear ones, I do deeply sympathize with you in your sufferings, yet cannot try to pray for you to find relief out of duty. It is not God's will that you should find it out there. I know you dread to take the yoke, and Jordan's water looks so turbulent, but it is easy once you get self behind and get started. But I cannot make you feel to realize it. COME AND SEE! In hope and love,
S. E. COPELAND.
Dear ones, I wrote this in 1926, not to differ with anyone, but as I felt to experience in my poor soul. And I feel the same in 1949. If any dear one feels or sees differently let me still love you. No controversy.