Rev. E. K. Love, D. D.--His Call and Pastorate.
[By Rev. S. A. McNeal, of Augusta, his friend.]
[Rev. E. K. Love, D. D.]
Rev. Emanuel K. Love, was born in Perry county, near Marion, Alabama, July the 27th, 1850. He was a slave and reared on a farm. His parents were poor and uneducated. They were unable to educate him. He had a burning desire to get an education. He was converted in the spring of 1868 and baptized in July of the same year by Dr. W. H. McIntosh. He was baptized in the afternoon and tried to preach that night. He was soon afterwards given permission to preach and won great distinction in the country places as a preacher. He soon left the farm and became a ditcher. In 1871 he entered Lincoln University, Marion, Alabama (having studied very hard for six years privately, getting instruction from white persons on farms who were kind enough to give it to him), where he studied for five or six months, winning great distinction as a hard and wonderfully apt student. When his money gave out he was compelled to leave school. He went to ditching. At this he made money very rapidly. But unfortunately he loaned this out to friends and relatives who were farming. The church to which he belonged, the first Sunday in November, 1872, decided that he should go to a theological school and prepare for the ministry. This he knew nothing of until the matter was brought up in the church meeting. At the time he had only eight dollars and fifty cents in ready money. The farmers to whom he had loaned his money had failed, and it was now evident that he could not hope to collect a dollar of his money. After the church meeting he went seven miles into the country to see what arrangements could be made to collect the money, as he had only two weeks. On Monday, the next day, a farmer came to town in search of a ditcher. Some how some friends recommended Mr. Love, though many ditchers were in town. He went out at once to see the gentleman and took the job, completed it in ten days and cleared one hundred and twenty-two dollars. It was finished on Friday, he settled up his business on Saturday, preached his farewell sermon on Sunday and left for Augusta, Georgia, on Monday, arriving there on Tuesday, November 19th, 1872, and entered the Augusta Institute on Wednesday, November 20th, 1872, from which he graduated with first honors June, 1877.
He had many hardships in school. His money gave out several times, when he was compelled often to go several days without anything to eat. He has broiled meat skins on the coals, ate crusts and drank water for days. He had no bed nor bedding, save one quilt and one sheet, the gift of his mother when he left home. In the winter he was compelled to build a fire in the class room and sleep on benches to avoid freezing. As great as his suffering was he always stood head in his classes. He was the best bible scholar ever graduated from the school. He taught as assistant teacher in the school under the venerable Dr. Joseph T. Robert, D. D., LL. D., for several years. When Dr. Robert was sick or absent Mr. Love would take charge of the school and deliver lectures on theology to the school, which he did to the satisfaction of the scholars.
He was ordained to the gospel ministry by Revs. W. J. White, Dr. Jos. T. Robert; Henry Watts, E. V. White, Henry Morgan, Aaron Green, G. Arrington, Henry Jackson and Geo. Barns, December 12, 1875, at the Harmony Baptist Church, by request of his church at Marion, Ala. He taught county public school at Newton, Appling and Camilla, Ga. In 1876 he served his mother church in Marion, Ala., for six months, and declined a unanimous call to be its permanent pastor, and returned to Augusta to finish his studies. He was appointed missionary for the State of Georgia under the Home Mission Board, of New York, and the Georgia Mission Board (white). He served in this capacity until July, 1879, when he resigned to take charge of the First African Baptist Church, at Thomasville, Ga. Here he rebuilt the house of worship and baptized 450 hopeful converts. The church, under his administration, took its stand along by the side of the best churches in Christian work and finance in the State. On the 1st of October, 1881, he resigned this church to take charge of the Sunday school mission work of the State of Georgia, under the American Baptist Publication Society of Philadelphia. In this work he continued for four years, winning great distinction as an efficient missionary, and was called the best missionary of the South. He gave perfect satisfaction. After serving in this sphere to the unanimous satisfaction of all concerned, on the 1st of October, 1885, he resigned to take charge of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, Ga. This church is the most famous in the world among negroes, and it is not at all surprising that Mr. Love would want some time to prayerfully consider the grave responsibility invited upon him. Mr. Love was a young man, being only 35 years old when he was called. There were great fears even among good people that he would not succeed. The church had never had a young pastor. She had been accustomed to old men, whose age the people would respect as well as their position. Rev. E. K. Love was intellectually the superior of his predecessors.
Mr. Love had long been the favorite of the church. In February, 1878, Deacons J. H. Brown and L. J. Pettigrew heard him preach the missionary sermon before the Florida Baptist Convention, at Monticello, Fla., and were so carried away that they invited him to Savannah to preach the same sermon, and in March of the same year he visited Savannah. His visit was hailed with large congregations, and always after that it had only to be hinted that Rev. Mr. Love would be in the city and seats in the church would be at a premium. Rev. Geo. Gibbons became his friend and made him welcome to his home. As Mr. Gibbons was not a revivalist, every once in a while the church would send for Rev. Mr. Love to give her a series of sermons. When Rev. Gibbons was stricken with paralysis, Rev. Love had just finished a series of meetings and had been gone not yet a week. When Rev. Gibbons died he was telegraphed for and came to the funeral. He knew his name would be put forward for the pastorate and therefore ceased to visit the city. He soon found out that there were some who opposed his being called, and several falsehoods were trumped up, which his friends vigorously met and successfully refuted. The church invited Mr. Love to hold a series of meetings in the last of May, 1885, running up to the first of June. This he did with some success, and on the first Sunday in June, 1885, baptized ten converts and administered the Lord's Supper. There was one brother who so bitterly opposed Mr. Love that he would not allow his daughter to be baptized by him, though she was a candidate for baptism. There was much talk and many aspirants. Many subterfuges were resorted to prevent the call, but the friends of Mr. Love were competent for the task and met every emergency.
In the conference of the third Sunday in August an attempt was made to call Rev. Mr. Love, but his friends seeing the situation and having consumed the time in meeting objections, moved to adjourn the conference until the fifth Sunday in August. This conference was very largely attended. Mr. L. J. Pettigrew moved that Rev. E. K. Love, of Thomasville, be called pastor of the First African Baptist Church. About fifty persons, male and female, seconded the motion at once; seven hundred persons voted for him, and seven against him.. The objection of these seven persons was of a three-fold nature. First, that he had made, some years before, some undue familiar advances toward a prominent female member of the church, which proved to be utterly false; yet there was a vile conspiracy in it. Second, that Rev. Gibbons had not been dead long enough, and that the church ought not to take down its mourning for the late pastor under a year. Third, that he was too young. Over all these objections Rev. E. K. Love was made pastor by a large majority August 30th, 1885. He was then 35 years old, and was at the time missionary of the State of Georgia. He was wired the result of the election at Washington, Ga., September 1st, 1885, and the letter notifying him officially was sent to him at Eatonton, Ga., where he was in attendance on the Middle Georgia Association. Following is the letter of notification:
"SAVANNAH, GA., Sept. 3, 1885.
"The First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga.,
To Rev. E. K. Love, Thomasville, Ga.
"BELOVED BROTHER: As a committee appointed for the purpose, we take more than ordinary pleasure in conveying to you the (to us) most pleasing information that at an adjourned session of the regular Monthly Conference of the First African Baptist Church, held on the 30th day of August, A. D. 1885, you were called to the pastorate of the above named church. The number of those who voted in the affirmative upon the question of the call was such as to make us feel safe in assuring you the hearty support of the church in your labors among us, and leaves no doubt as to the directing hand of Providence in the result. The salary has been fixed at seventy-five (75) dollars per month, with December 1st, 1885, fixed as the date for you to assume the duties of the office. We send herewith the warmest feelings of Christian love and prayer of the church.
"Awaiting your reply, we are yours in the bonds of love.
"J. H. BROWN,
"C. H. EBBS,
"L. J. PETTIGREW,
When it became known throughout the State that Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., had been called to the pastorate of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, the brethren all over the State regretted to lose him from his post as missionary of the State. He was the favorite of Georgia. The brethren generally called him "Bishop." They still very generally call him by this name. He regretted to leave the brethren. He loved the mission work. He finally accepted.
The following is Rev. E. K. Love's letter of acceptance:
"ATLANTA, GA., Sept. 12, 1885.
"Messrs. C. H. Ebbs, L. J. Pettigrew and
J. H. Brown,
Committee First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga.
"DEAR BRETHREN: Yours of the 3d instant, informing me of your great church's choice of me as pastor, to hand. I can but view the circumstance as the most flattering in my history. Your church is an old, influential body, and I feel most forcibly the grave responsibility invited upon me in your call. Feeling, as I do, the magnitude of this work, and the able pastors who have preceded me, and appreciating the learning and profound research and wonderful executive ability he must possess who is your leader, I would most respectfully cry unworthy and decline, but for the conviction, after a prayerful consideration, that your call voices the will of God. For His service I live, and in it I hope to die; hence, I regard as a rule the voice of the people as the voice of God. When this is so I bow to them as to their Master.
THE WORK OF THE PASTOR.
"There is no more responsible an office to which men can be possibly called than that of a pastor. To his care is committed the training of the people spiritually. Praying for the sick, standing around the bedside of the dying, watching over the spiritual interests of the church, looking out for the good of the community generally, rebuking sin and wickedness in high places, to throw his influence on the side of temperance, waging an uncompromising war against whiskey, to fight never ceasingly for right, to work untiringly for education, and to preach faithfully the word of God in such a manner that the whole people might hear him gladly. The work of the pastor is the most sacred and responsible under heaven, and angels would gladly engage in the pastor's work. The privilege to pray for the suffering and distressed is certainly sweet to the minister called of God to preach the gospel of His son.
THE RELATION OF THE PASTOR TO HIS PEOPLE.
"The man who deals with the spiritual affairs of a people must be most dearly and tenderly related to them. He who teaches the souls of a people must enter and live in their souls. His soul should be large enough to take all of his people into his heart of hearts. The pastor is a member of every family circle in his congregation. All of the people are his people, and he is the servant of all. He can not afford to have any enemies who can give a just cause for their opposition. If possible, he must live peaceably with all men, and endeavor to have all men to live at peace with him. He is the spiritual overseer of the church of God, and is the adviser of the church in all of its concerns.
YOUR DUTY AS A CHURCH.
I can not hope to succeed without your cooperation and hearty support. I am not ignorant of the fact that a people can defeat the work of their pastor or make it a grand success. It will, as you know, be your duty to assist me by your presence, support, prayers and sympathy. For this I shall look most anticipatingly. I need not invite your attention to the domestic part of your work. A parsonage, I believe, is generally acceded to be the duty of the church, and the minister be left free to give himself to study, prayer and the ministry of the word.
THE TIME NAMED BY YOU.
It will be necessary for me to tell you that the work which I am now doing is important to the State of Georgia. The Baptists of Georgia have given me their united support, and it is with profoundest feeling that I resign this work. The American Baptist Publication Society, in whose employ I have served for four years, has been very kind to me, and has treated me with the utmost deference and will regret to lose my services. You name December 1st as the day to commence the work. Perhaps you did not know that my year expires with October 1st, and that it would be much easier and smoother for me to resign at the end of the year. Your time seems to necessitate the loss of two months. If this cannot be remedied I shall submit.
"The salary you offer I hope will be so fixed as to put myself and family on equally as good living terms as in my present position. You cannot afford to do less.
"You owe me your prayers; pray for me, dear brethren, I feel so much my unworthiness and inability to discharge the duties of so high a calling. Having been duly, officially, informed that on the 30th of August, 1885, I was duly elected as pastor of your great church, and regarding the voice of the people as the voice of God, I, Emanuel K. Love, of Thomasville, Ga., in the thirty-fifth year of my age, do, in the name of Almighty God; in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, accept, looking to Him for guidance, protection, and an understanding heart.
"And now, may the great head of the church, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, even the Lord Jesus Christ, bless you in all things for good.
"I am your humble servant, in His name,
"EMANUEL K. LOVE."
When the letter of acceptance from Mr. Love was read before the church, the church at once changed the time from December 1st, 1885, to October 1st, 1885, to suit Mr. Love's convenience. This showed that the pastor elect already had influence with this noble people. At a mere hint from Mr. Love that either January 1st, 1886, or October 1st, 1885, would suit him best the church embraced the opportunity of getting him at the first convenience. October 1st, 1885, was set for the installation.
Rev. Love was installed by Revs. U. L. Houston, J. S. Habersham, John Nesbit, W. L. P. Weston, of Savannah, E. R. Carter, of Atlanta, C. T. Walker, T. J. Hornsby and S. A. McNeal, of Augusta, T. M. Robinson, of Harlem, and G. H. Washington, of Quitman. Rev. C. T. Walker introduced Rev. E. K. Love in the following eloquent speech:
"It is with no small degree of pleasure that your humble speaker appears before this august assembly on this auspicious occasion. I am gratefully sensible of the honor done me in selecting me to speak on this important occasion. You gather to-night on no ordinary occasion; you come not to witness the inauguration of the chief magistrate of the nation; you come not to your regular church services as you. usually do on this night; no, you are here to meet the leader, the shepherd of the flock that God has sent you. The ministry is of divine appointment, and is such a sacred and holy calling God has reserved the right of appointment to himself, and by the influence of the Holy Spirit he has urged you to call to the pastorate of this great church Emanuel K. Love. Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, the bishop of our souls, has committed His people to the instruction and guidance of faithful ministers.
"While this noble church has had a number of eminent preachers, such as Andrew Bryan, Andrew C. Marshall, William J. Campbell and George Gibbons, who have erected monuments to their noble deeds, yet I assure you that the cause will not suffer in the hands of the present incumbent. He, by the fervor of his appeals, the force of his argument, the glow of his eloquence, the beauty of his piety, his familiarity with the Scriptures, and his sincere devotion to the Master's cause, will edify and delight his Christian hearers. Though the duties of the pastoral office be arduous and responsible, you have made choice of one who will discharge them with fidelity and ability. He will give effective service and meet your highest expectation. Only give him your prayers, sympathy and hearty cooperation. Rev. E. K. Love, as a student, was earnest, apt, diligent, thorough-going, and always led his classes. He has reached the degree of a well-developed manhood and of a richly-cultivated intellect. He served as missionary under the Home Mission Society, New York, and the Rome Mission Board of the Georgia Baptist Convention (white), and gave entire satisfaction. He was afterward called to the pastorate of the Thomasville Baptist Church. This church building was quite dilapidated, the flock scattered and the Baptist cause at a low ebb in that city; but during his pastorate the church was tastily beautified and embellished, and 450 added by baptism. He was called from that field of labor to become the Spurgeon missionary under the auspices of the American Baptist Publication Society in Philadelphia. He won their confidence and respect, and was styled by them the best missionary in all the South. He is known all over Georgia; his friends are legion. He won the confidence and respect of his denomination. He is known and loved in this State and treated kindly. He resigns a prosperous work to obey your mandate. He comes to this field with experience and executive ability. He comes to the call of his heavenly Master. He comes, burdened with the responsibility devolved upon him. He comes a Christian gentleman. Gentle with all men and clothed with the raiment of a meek and quiet spirit. He is eminently social and will be the friend of the unlettered peasant as well as the erudite scholar. The most humble in the church will find in him a friend--generous, noble-hearted and kind. His liberality is greater than his purse. He has learned what few ministers have--to esteem another better than himself, and in honor to prefer his brethren. In my friend and brother you will find an experimental preacher, natural and impressive. He is up with the times. The age in which we live is one of mental activity, busy, progressive, and calls loudly for men of character, doctrine and education. Not altogether excellence of speech, to gratify the curiosity of the people, rhetorical strains or philosophical essays, but men who will know nothing among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified. I present to you a Christian gentleman who will, to-night, enter upon his work with a solemn appreciation of it, and with an earnest desire to do it ably and faithfully. His unselfishness, his broad charity, his marked sincerity, his simplicity and scholarly attainments, coupled with the grace of God, all fit him preeminently for the office he is to fill. And, dear church, I bespeak for him your sympathy, confidence, support, love, cooperation and prayers. I ask for his most excellent, devoted, praiseworthy, Christian wife your respect and generous consideration.
"And now, beloved brother, in entering upon this new field of labor, may the Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift upon thee His countenance. The Lord give thee peace. May you, by good work, write your name on time as legibly as the stars on the brow of the evening. And when you stand upon the interlacing margin of eternity may you hear the shout of your welcome borne from afar: Well done, good and faithful servant."
Rev. S. A. McNeal then addressed the church in the following most timely speech:
ADDRESS TO THE FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH.
"Dear Brethren and Sisters, Friends and Well-Wishers:
"I am glad to answer this honor you have conferred upon me. I regard it as no small matter to be called upon to address you upon so auspicious an occasion as this. You have assembled here to night to see publicly installed the man whom you, of your own volition and deliberate choice, have called to serve you as your leader, your counselor and your shepherd. In this act you have taken upon yourselves solemn obligations that the great head of the church will hold you answerable for. It is no small thing for a church or people to call a minister of the gospel from his God-given field of usefulness to take charge of its work. For being, as he may be, settled in his Master's vineyard, where he is succeeding, and where he knows how to succeed, to come among a new people, to discontinue his usefulness, to run the risk of being successful or to be disappointed may be for life. It is no small thing to do this, but, on the other hand, an awful thing. For this man you have called is doing a great work, and in fact he has done the greatest work that has been done by any one in the mission in this State. The truth is, he is a man who will succeed in any field, if only allowed. As an organizer and builder he is the acknowledged leader in this State. As to his intellectual ability you have been truthfully told by the brother who introduced him to you. I have been appointed to speak of the relations to exist between you as church and pastor. I wish to say, by way of emphasis, that whatever a pastor may do or be very greatly depends upon what that church is, or what that church may be capacitated for. The pastor is expected to draw the line of campaign and furnish the brain and the people or church to execute. If the church grows intellectually or morally that very greatly depends upon the leadership of the pastor coupled with its own willingness to attain these high and lofty things.
"Then the first thing that the church is required to do in order to get these blessings is to have great confidence in the pastor and hold him in high esteem. For in order that we may follow any one we must first have faith in such an one. The second thing is to love him; for there will be times when you will be called upon to bear very much with your leader, and if you don't love him you can't bear the burdens that may be put upon you. The third thing is to be willing to obey your pastor, for the good book informs you that obedience is better than sacrifice. The next thing is you must pray for your pastor; you must at all times remember that he needs your prayers. I will repeat here what I heard once told having happened between a church and its pastor. He, it was said, was a young man, and having preached for some time to the church was about to fail, when the members of the church met to discuss the matter and do something thereabout. When they had fully ventilated the matter, one brother moved that the pastor be asked to resign; but just before they voted one old man arose and asked, with tears in his eyes, that as the pastor was a young man, and there was much to hope for, the church pray for him for one month, and at the end of that time they had quite a revival in their church, and from that day the church began to grow and became the largest and most flourishing church of that day, and in all that country was their praise. So I would urge you to pray for your church and pastor and great results will follow.
"Then I want to tell you what you must not do yourselves, nor allow anyone else to do in your presence--speak disrespectfully of your pastor; but always have a good word for him. When he preaches a good sermon, tell him so, and it will help him to do better the next time. If he does or speaks a thing you do not understand, do not go around criticizing and complaining, but wait for an opportunity and speak to him kindly about the matter, and always feel that you have pleasant access to him. And even when you disagree with him, allow it to be between you two, and don't go all over the town tattling and making partisans of yourself and others. This will injure the church, the pastor, others and yourselves. Then the time will come when you may learn that, after all, he knew best and acted wisely. And not at all times are you to know what the true minister of Jesus Christ does. He has nothing at heart but the good of Zion and the glory of God.
"I have known Mr. Love most intimately for the past thirteen years, and I tell you I don't know any man for whom I would swear quicker than for the Rev. Emanuel K. Love, who has been called to serve you. He is a good man, a noble man, a man whose heart is as broad as the world and as deep as the sea. He is as true as steel, and a man who cannot go back on a friend. I know no man so well as I know E. K. Love. He cannot be more honest than he is. Deception is not in him.
"And I pray that this call, which he has felt moved by the Holy Ghost to answer, has been of God. Then if it has been of God no man can overthrow or hinder him from going to a grand success. Hoping that this old patriarchal and historical church may be made all that the dear Lord would have her be, and that my dearest friend and your beloved and newly elected pastor and his grand church may do all they may desire to do, and be, through him that loves the church and gave himself for the church, more than conquerors; that he might present to God, the Father, a pure church, without spot or blemish, or any other such thing, is the humble wish of your brother, for Christ's sake. Amen."
Rev. E. R. Carter then charged the pastor in a most touching manner.
REV. LOVE'S ADDRESS.
"Dear Brethren, Sisters and Friends generally: This demonstration of your interest, both in me and in the work to which I have been called by this people, makes me feel more keenly than ever my unworthiness and inability to discharge the duties of this high office. Were I to consult my feelings in this matter I would be forced to the conclusion that this task might have been consigned to more competent hands than mine. But as God has spoken through his people, as his servant, I should disregard my feelings and hear what the Lord, my God, saith. His word is much plainer and clearer of fault than my treacherous feeling; to his word I bow. If God chooses to work through me in this field, I think I should make no objection. I yield, therefore, and throw myself upon the merit of His grace, assured that He is with me 'alway, even unto the end of the world.' I come among you as one that serves. I give you my unqualified word to-night, in the fear of God, that I have no friends to reward nor enemies to punish. I shall look upon every man in this church as my brother and every woman as my sister, provided I find them worthy. I shall place every man upon his merit: Whatsoever he soweth that shall he also reap. I shall rebuke sin in whomever and wherever I find it, regardless of the consequence. I put in this night to get on with you, and I want you to make it up in your minds that we have got to get on together. There is no good reason why we should not get on together. I have not come here to fall out. I pity a Christian that cannot live in peace with a Christian. The religion of the Lord Jesus Christ is a system of peace, and those who do not make peace have not the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel very grateful for the complimentary terms in which my reverend brethren have spoken of me to-night. I assure you, brethren, that you, together with this occasion, shall be carefully and sacredly stored away in my fondest recollection. Whatever ability I may possess shall be devoted to the promotion of Zion and the truest interest of this whole people. They shall take part in all of my thoughts. My heart shall be burdened with their sorrows and elated with their joys. I shall live for them, and hope to live in them. I may commit errors. Who is free from them? I shall make them as seldom and as far between as possible. They shall always be errors of the head. It is not my desire to do wrong. Pray for me that God may help me to do right and teach you the same. I want to prove myself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed right here in this field. May God grant me grace to do this work to His honor and glory.
"Allow me to say to you before I finish that I shall try my best to be your pastor, and I wish you to try equally as hard to be the members. Treat me as I treat you and I ask no more. I deserve no more. I expect you to attend church as regularly as the doors are open. Let us start with each other in a way that we can hold out. If we start right we can hold out, for right breeds right. Let us remember that one night's confusion in the church will do more harm than we can remove by months' preaching. As it is easier to go down than up, we should hold every notch we make and struggle for the next one. The attention of the country is turned toward this church. Look at the representatives you have here to-night from nearly all over Georgia. Let us appreciate our surroundings and act accordingly. If there be any who have made it up in their minds to make this administration a failure, I persuade you, in the name of God, to change your minds. Be admonished by your friend and brother to unite with the whole church to carry on the work of God. It is not our cause, it is God's cause, and let us not insult our Master because He does not do business to suit us. He is working for our good; He knows best who He wants to watch over his people. Do not contend against the army lest you fight against God. If God, whose cause we espouse, can put up with a man in His vineyard, it does seem that you might be able to stand it. I must congratulate you upon the almost unanimity of your call. Many churches have split nearly half in two by calling a preacher. You have steered clear of this, be it said in praise of the church.
"I shall deliver my inaugural discourse on Sunday night. That discourse will be an index to my administration. I, therefore, urge you to turn out in full and hear it."
This short address had a wonderful impression upon the people. The reader misses the fervor, ease, grace and earnestness with which it was delivered.
THE PAPERS ON REV. LOVE.
The Thomasville Times said of him when he resigned the church there:
"Rev. E. K. Love has resigned the pastorate at Thomasville and enters the service of the American Baptist Publication Society as Sunday School missionary. The following is the action taken by the deacons of the church in reference to the matter:
" 'Resolved, That it is with great reluctance that we are constrained to accept the resignation of our beloved pastor; that the ties which have so long bound us together are indeed hard to sever;
" 'That in thus severing the relation of pastor and people we recognize the hand of God calling him to a more useful and extended field;
" 'That we will follow him with our prayers wherever he goes, praying that He will care for him and his while he goes forth to do the bidding of the Master;
" 'That his faithfulness and earnest labors with this church entitle him to a warm and lasting place in our hearts and memories;
" 'That we commend him most heartily and cordially to our brethren all over the State as an able and devoted minister of the gospel;
" 'That the doors of this church, and the hearts of our people, will always be open to him when he returns in his rounds of labor;
" 'That we, as a church, in bidding in our brother adieu at the same time bid him God-speed on the high and holy mission to which he has been called.
" 'ROBERT PONDER,
" 'S. SMITH,
" 'AARON JONES,
" 'S. M. WILSON,
" 'ANDREW HUGERSON,
" 'JAMES A. HAWKINS,
" 'Deacons.' "
The Times said, in an editorial:
"Rev. E. K. Love has the entire confidence and respect of the citizens of Thomasville, white and black. He has stayed here long enough for them to know his sterling worth. Georgia is a big field, but if there is a man who can work it up, that man is E. K. Love."
Rev. T. J. Hornsby in The Defense, May 24, 1884.
"HEPZIBAH, GA., May 19th, 1884.
"Please grant us space to speak a word about the man who is styled the 'Bishop of Georgia,' Rev. E. K. Love, the Sunday School missionary of the American Baptist Publication Society. This very able divine visited the Spring Hill Baptist Church on the 17th ultimo and delivered one of his supremely eloquent sermons upon the unpardonable sin. It certainly was a masterly effort, and we would be glad if all the world had heard it. He conducted an institute meeting at Smith Grove Church on the 18th and 19th ultimo. We assure you that it was timely, instructive and pleasant. He certainly is the right man in the right place. As you know, he is not only enthusiastic but really logical at the same time. He seems to have such extraordinary and commanding powers, and can preach or teach with so much propriety that when we get it altogether we can well afford to call him the 'Bishop.' The gentleman handled all of his subjects with great credit to himself and incalculable benefit to his audiences. Well may the denomination boast of her gem and Georgia exult on his account. It has been some time since a missionary visited us, therefore we cannot refrain from talking about it[.] The meeting indorsed the God-sent man and his work in very commendable terms, which we forwarded to the Georgia Baptist, which I have been taking nearly ever since its existence, with request to publish, which must have gotten into the scrap basket before they were published, for three weeks have passed since and we have not seen them. As the resolutions were long may be this caused them to be left unpublished. Accept many thanks for space.
"T. J. HORNSBY."
Rev. Love and the Georgia Baptist were not on good terms at this time, and hence nothing in praise of him could find its way into the columns of that paper.
The Baptist Foreign Mission Society of the First African Baptist Church Sunday School, said of Mr. Love in the Echo:
"The regular meeting of this society will take place at the First African Baptist Church this (Sunday) afternoon at 3 o'clock. Rev. E. K. Love, of Thomasville, Georgia, will preach the regular missionary sermon, which will certainly prove quite interesting, as Mr. Love is decidedly one of the ablest divines in the State. The collections at this mission meeting are for sending the gospel of Christ to the poor heathens in Africa, and it is hoped the attendance will be large and the contributions liberal. Mr. C. L. De Lamotta is one of the leading agitators in this work in the Forest City whose efforts in its behalf is undoubtedly commendable in every particular."
The Sentinel said of him:
"The election of the Rev. Editor Love, as pastor of a great Baptist church in Savannah, is a well merited compliment both to the church itself and its new pastor. Rev. Love is acknowledged, we believe, to be the ablest biblical scholar among the young colored men of his State. As a pulpit orator he has no superiors and few equals among Georgia's clergy. As a writer and thinker on general topics he stands among the foremost. We bespeak for pastor and flock a happy association."
Camilla Clarion ( White).
"Rev. E. K. Love has been called to the pastorate of the First Baptist (colored) Church in Savannah and will make that city his home. He taught and studied in Camilla for several years, and we know his record and his abilities. He is indeed a very intelligent and able man and the church has done well to secure his services. Withal he is pious and devoted to his work. We congratulate all parties."
Savannah Morning News (White.)
"Rev. E. K. Love has recently been called to the pastorate of the First African Baptist Church of this city to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the late Rev. George Gibbons. He was installed on Thursday night. This young divine is a graduate of the Atlanta Baptist Seminary and is one of the foremost men in the denomination. For three years he was missionary of Georgia under the Home Mission Society, New York, and the Georgia Baptist Mission Board (white). He resigned that position to take charge of the Thomasville Baptist Church and served that church three years, during which he baptized 400 converts and greatly added to the material interest of the church. He resigned the Thomasville church against the earnest solicitation of the people and accepted the missionary position under the American Baptist Publication Society of Philadelphia, which position he held for four years. He gave entire satisfaction, and resigned that position to accept the call to the church of this city. He was at one time editor of a paper published in Albany, Georgia, known as the National Watchman, and is at present second editor of the Weekly Sentinel, a negro paper published in Augusta, Georgia."
Augusta Sentinel, Sept. 12th, 1885.
PASTORATE FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH.
"The above-named church is one of the largest and most prosperous churches in Georgia. It has been pastored by such worthy men as Bryan, Marshall, Campbell and Gibbons, all of whom are now in the enjoyment of infinite rest. The church has more than 3,000 members, and is noted for her benevolent missionary spirit. Rev. Emanuel K. Love has been called to the pastorate of this noble church and the church made a wise selection. He is a diligent student of the Scriptures, well educated, a sound theologian--all his sermons bear the stamp of his iron genius. He is in full vigor of a well-developed manhood and of a richly-cultivated intellect. As a preacher, he is able, instructive and powerful; his views vast, profound, original, and his sermons practical. As a pastor, he is sympathetic, vigilant, benevolent, and devoted to missions, and will faithfully discharge the duties of that responsible office.
"During his pastorate at Thomasville the church was strengthened greatly and reached a high degree of prosperity. Now, as a missionary under the auspices of the Publication Society of Philadelphia, his perseverance and devotion in that work has caused him to be styled one of the best missionaries in the South. He has qualifications that fit him preeminently for the position he has been called to fill; he brings to it the best of executive and organizing powers, combined with unquestioned consecration to his Saviour and His cause. He is kind, generous, noble-hearted, and possesses germs of genuine greatness. There is no man in Georgia to-day more interested in the work of his denomination than E. K. Love.
C. T. W."
"On next Thursday night, at 8 o'clock, Rev. E. K. Love, the Baptist Sunday School missionary and evangelist of the State of Georgia, will preach at Thankful Baptist Church. Rev. Love needs no introduction to the people of Augusta. On this occasion he proposes to preach the grandest sermon of his life. Let everybody turn out to hear him."
Rev. Love made no such intimation as above.
The following is the introductory sermon of Rev. E. K. Love on entering upon the pastorate of the church:
Of Rev. Emanuel K. Love on Entering the Pastorate of the First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga., Preached Sunday Night, October 4th, 1885. It is Published by the Unanimous Request of the Church, expressed by a Vote.
"This very able and instructive sermon was delivered by Rev. Emanuel K. Love on entering the pastoral duties of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, Ga., the first Sabbath night in October, 1885. The spacious and magnificent auditorium of the grand old church was crowded to its utmost capacity, and many could not gain admittance.
"The author is a sound theologian, strikingly original, and has reached the degree of a well-developed and richly cultivated intellect. It is by the unanimous request of this time-honored church that the sermon appear in print.
"It is replete with wholesome advice, helpful suggestions, and is capable of elevating and edifying each Christian soldier.
"It is hoped that this evangelical gospel sermon will be carefully and prayerfully read, and that the pastorate of our dear brother may be richly fruitful of good.
"C. T. WALKER,
"Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga."
"Acts, x, 29: 'Therefore, came I unto you without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for: I ask, therefore, for what intent have ye sent for me.'
"I have very often preached to this church for six or seven years, and although I could not have done so more earnestly, I've never attempted to preach to you in the capacity which I now attempt. Before I have taken up the burden only for a short while--for a night, for a day, and never for longer than a week or two, though I've carried you in my heart, for God had assured me years ago that I would be your pastor. I was not responsible for your perpetual instruction, the order of your house, nor the peace of this flock; I'm invited now to a constant burden, and for your welfare I must shoulder the responsibility. I feel it needful, therefore, to have a plain talk with you to night, hence I have selected this text to ask you for what intent did you send for me. You will recollect that the angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, and that the Lord told Peter that he had instructed Cornelius to send for him; yet Peter asked Cornelius why he sent for him. It may not be out of place, therefore, for me to ask you for what intent did you send for me. Let us notice the person sending for the preacher:
"I.--Cornelius had been praying. This was the proper time to send for a preacher, after prayer and after he had received God's answer. Such persons are always ready to bear words of God from His ministers. A church should never presume to call a preacher until it has consulted God in prayer and his answer returned. You will observe that the whole matter of a choice of a preacher was left with God. God chose the preacher, named the man and told where he was. Cornelius prayed before sending for the preacher. He did not call together a select few and discuss personality and raise objections; he prayed. He did not hunt up his parliamentary guide to make trap motions, call the previous question, or move to lay on the table; he prayed. He did not make a long, cunning speech and have some one posted to second his motion; he prayed. He did not rise to a point of order, a privilege question, or a question of information; he prayed. There was no confusion about whom he must call, about the majority ruling or the sovereignty of the church; he prayed. I have no sympathy and less patience with rings; tricksters, family connections and party ties or aristocracy in the church of Christ. Let us stand on the same hallowed plain of brotherly love and friendship, remembering that one is our Master, even Christ, and that we are all brethren. It will be noticed again that Cornelius sent a committee of three to inform Peter of his call and to accompany him on his way. This committee went both in the name of God and in the name of Cornelius. They informed Peter that Cornelius had been praying, and that in answer to his prayer God had instructed him to send to Joppa for him. As though it was necessary for Peter to understand the character of the man who had sent for him to enter his house, they proceeded to give a brief history of the life of Cornelius, and recommended him very highly to the preacher. It is not out of place therefore, for preachers to know something of the churches that seek them, and to have a good report of them. God recommended Peter, and he needed nothing more. It is too common among us to accept a church with merely a 'majority.' The sooner this custom dies out the better it will be for our churches. I doubt any man's fitness or call to the gospel ministry who will, for the sake of getting a church, accept the call to be its pastor with merely a majority, and encourage confusion and disaffection among the brethren. It must be noticed again that Cornelius made himself responsible for the preacher's congregation. He did not expect the preacher to come there and preach up his own congregation. He had gone around or sent and invited his neighbors and relatives, and having his own family present. When the preacher reached Cornelius he found his congregation in waiting. This is so unlike the majority of our churches. They send for the preacher and expect him to gather the congregation, do the preaching, do the praying, do the singing, lead the prayer meetings, teach Sunday school, make the people do right, and keep the spirit in the church. If the church gets cold and converts are not coming in they charge it up to the preacher, and hence they mourn, sigh and pray for a change of preacher. It must still be noticed that Cornelius did not content himself with having sent for the preacher and congregated his hearers, but as soon as he heard that Peter was coming went out himself to meet him, and embrace him, and extend to him that Christian welcome that only those can give whose hearts are aglow with the love of God. This, too, is so very much unlike the most of our churches. Too many of our members' interest end with the call of the preacher. They are not there to embrace him, cooperate with him, and sympathize with him in his work. It is oftentimes true that those who are foremost in calling the preacher are furthest behind in supporting him. But I think better things of you. The shake of hand is stiff, slack and cold, destitute of love, and there is no religion in it. There is so much depending upon the encouragement the preacher receives from his people. It must be noticed that Cornelius announced himself and his people ready for the preacher and his message. Verse 35: 'Now, therefore, are we all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.' This is not always the case with our congregations. In the first place all are not there, and all of those who are there are not there to hear all things commanded the preacher of God. Some things they would much prefer not to hear. And still, let us observe that Cornelius took the preacher into his house and cared for him. He did not try to put him off on somebody else or send him to a hotel. He was willing to take God's message into his heart and God's messenger into his house. He was willing to provide for the man who brought to him the bread of life. This should teach us a lesson. 'I ask, therefore, for what intent have ye sent for me?'
II. THE PERSON SENT FOR--THE PREACHER.
"The minister is God's chosen instructor. God sends men to teach men; He has always employed men to teach men, though men have not always been willing to be taught by the men God has sent them. They have spoken evil of their teachers, persecuted them, imprisoned them, and put them to death in every conceivable way. This is the terrible history of the world.
"A milder form of persecution now exists--it is slander, evil-speaking and refusing to pay the preacher. When the preacher fails to suit them, they resort to some one or all of these methods. It is very often that the preacher finds those of his congregation who presume to teach him. With these he must contend, There are those in this congregation who can teach me about merchandise, carpentering, sampling cotton, printing, painting, laying bricks, plastering, machinery, and many other trades, but I've come to teach you the bible--the word of God. I've come to teach every one of you. God has called me through you to teach you this word, and I have come to do this work. Is that the intent for which you have sent for me? Then pray God to help me do this great work to His honor and glory and your edification and truest interest. Israel thought quite often that they could teach Moses. God teaches in mercy through his ministers, or teaches in wrath himself. When Saul failed to hear the prophet he taught him in death. Our Saviour has said to his ministers, 'Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I've commanded you; and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.'--Matt., xxxviii, 19, 20.
" 'And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and some teachers.'--Eph., iv, 11. We see, therefore, that the teacher is divinely appointed. God has always had them. We read in Isaiah xxx, 20, 21: 'And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers, and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.' It will be observed that the teacher is to point out the way to the people and urge them to walk in it. The people are not to point out the way to the teacher, but the teacher is to point out the way to the people. God enjoins the duty of teaching the people upon the ministers.
"Again, it will be observed, that the minister is God's leader. Too many of our churches presume to lead the preachers and some of them are led, and they fall, and great is the fall. The preachers should be first in labors of love; first in the mission work; first at the bedside of the suffering, when in his power; first in matters that concern the public good, and, so far as he is able, first in matters that elevate the people intellectually and every other way. If I should be asked to name some things and places which he should be last in or not at all in, among the many I would name politics, bar rooms, shows, excursions, and last, but not least, debts. To owe is either to be a slave or dishonest. A debt is a curse. The preacher should be as an ?lian harp, catching the faintest breeze of heaven's air, and resounding in thunder tones to his flock--he stands nearest to God and should hear Him first. Indeed, he hears when no one else hears. God has promised that the preacher should hear the words from His mouth and warn the people from Him. Our Saviour has said, in Luke 10, 16: 'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me.' This should make us be very careful how we treat God's leaders. He says again: 'He that receiveth you, receiveth me.'--Matt., x, 40. I have trembled for people when I have seen them mistreat God's servants. The insult is not to the servants, it is thrown in the face of his Master. Better for that people had they never been born than to meet a God who pleads the cause of his servants. I wonder how they expect to meet God and answer for this insult before him. The people should follow the preacher as he follows Christ. I would ask again, for what intent did ye send for me? There are those in the church who are ready to follow after anybody else than the preacher, and after anything else than righteousness. This is not confined to a few and not confined to the poor and unlearned. There are those who are unable to attend church, but get perfectly well to attend any entertainment of a worldly character. We should know that our religion is following; we shall know if we follow on to know; we are commanded to learn of Christ; his ministers are the teachers; the church is the school house and the Bible is the text book, and the people are the scholars. The angel told Cornelius that Peter would tell him what he ought to do. This is the burden of the preacher's mission to tell people what they ought to do in spiritual matters--in matters that pertain to their everlasting salvation. I am glad that the preacher is not expected to make people do, but to tell them what they ought to do. If he was to make them do, the entire responsibility of their salvation would rest upon the preachers, and every one that was lost, his damnation would be charged up to some poor preacher. He is appointed to tell people what they ought to do. I ask, therefore, for what intent have ye sent for me?
"The minister is God's ambassador. An ambassador is the highest commissioned officer; he is usually sent to a foreign country; his duty is to represent the power that commissioned him; he must, therefore, be somewhat in character as the commissioner; he must understand the burden of his message, the laws of the country he represents, and he must either understand the laws and language of those to whom he is sent or must have an interpreter. The Spirit of God is his interpreter. God has sent him out on a mission of peace. The world is his field; the minister is God's overseer; he is to watch over the spiritual interest of the church of Christ; he is called the angel of the church. Christ is the shepherd and bishop of our souls, and the minister is the under-shepherd; he is to feed the church of God which he has purchased with his own blood. There is no one who can supply the place of the preacher; no one on earth is over him. He is the only overseer in the church. God made him overseer, and any effort made to change him is an insult to the power by which he is appointed. He is clothed with the power of God and he is to beseech men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. 'I ask, therefore, for what intent have ye sent for me?' The message which he is to deliver is glad tidings of a reconciled God to the children of men. In this work he does not always meet with encouragement; yet his business is to preach faithfully the gospel of Christ, leaving the result and his own provision and life in the hands of his Master who commissioned him. I have heard many preachers complain of it being harder to preach on Sunday night than at any hour during the day. I have often felt it a strain myself. I have wondered why. I used to think that it was because there was a much larger crowd and more heat and diversity of minds to deal with and endeavor to control. But this reason does not seem to hold good. I have lately concluded that it is due to the fact that our congregations are too much given to visiting and street promenading on Sunday, that when night comes they find themselves too much fatigued to enjoy and take in a sermon. When a person has been engaged in visiting, laughing, talking and having a good time during the day, when night comes he is not prepared to sit an hour and listen to a discourse without having a chance to throw in a word occasionally and laugh quite heartily frequently, or get up and take a drink of water once in awhile. His mental and physical powers have both been excited, and if he doesn't go to sleep he will feel like it; but most generally he will get at it. He will, at any rate, get tired of the sermon, and call the most masterly effort 'a poor thing.' He is not prepared to take it in; nature wants rest; the fault is his own. What effect has this upon the preacher? Well, just this: As the congregation is, so will the preacher be; he cannot carry all asleep, he can lead them all awake. Energetic, earnest hearers, the bright countenances, sparkling eyes and attentive ears, all conspire to enthuse the man of God to deliver his message. How will we remedy this? Well, if our people will not do, and will do, we will soon see that it will be as easy, if not easier, to preach on Sunday night as at any other hour during the day. If our people will not do so much visiting on Sunday, and will not engage in such light employment and that of a worldly character on Sunday, and will stay home during church service intervals and will read their Bibles and meditate on the law of the Lord, and will sing or hum praises to God, and will pray as did Cornelius, they would come to the church prepared to hear all things of the preacher commanded of God, and would, indeed, worship God. A praying congregation makes an earnest minister; an appreciative, interesting and weeping people make an eloquent preacher. So, my hearers, if God has called your pastor, revealed His Son in him and committed to him this glorious gospel, you have the privilege to improve him. You can make him just what you want him to be. You can make him profound by asking him questions that have puzzled you; you can aid him in piety by praying for him. This you ought always do. You can make him study by studying yourself and supporting him. You can make him love you by loving him; you can make him tender by being tender yourself. Many farmers have made poor land rich; many poor horses have been made fat by good attention. You have the ax; grind it. Nobody can tell how much it helps a preacher to do his work when his people encourage him but a preacher, and may be he cannot tell himself just how much it aids him. 'I ask, therefore, for what intent have you sent for me?' God's preachers love their work. I had rather be a preacher than be the world. I had rather be a preacher than to be any one or all of the stars. I had rather be a preacher than to be the sun. I had rather be a preacher than to be an angel. Did God count me worthy to commit this glorious work to me? God wanted me to be a preacher, hence He called me and revealed His Son in me. This Son I have come to preach to you. Is that the intent for which ye have sent for me? Then God forbid that I should know anything among you save Christ and Him crucified.
"III.--The preacher should go to the people to whom he is called just as soon as he is convinced that it is the will of God, and doubt nothing. Again, while Cornelius had been praying Peter had been praying too; hence, both were prepared for their work. Cornelius was prepared to hear and Peter was prepared to preach. In order to be prepared, each must pray. Both saw a vision. The same God appeared to both. Cornelius said we are all here before God to hear, and Peter said, I came without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for to preach. He had no doubt. God had assured him that it was his duty to go. The obedient servant will not question his work when the Master has spoken. Indeed, when God calls a servant to a work his provision is all right. God will see that he is supported, protected and guided. There is nothing to fear in the God-selected field. He may not always have encouragement in his field, but if he is ready to preach the gospel of Christ he must be willing to bear the conflicts of the gospel and to endure hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He must through tribulations enter heaven, and lead others. His way is marked through tribulations, and to shun them is to leave the hallowed way. Even those to whom he preaches will at times turn against him. This was the case with his Master, the prophets and apostles. He will meet his hardest trials among his own people. They will be willing to pull out their eyes for him to-day, and be ready to pull out his eyes to-morrow; but he must bear the toils, endure the pains, supported by the word of his Master. The minister must be ready to preach the gospel under all circumstances. His Master has not promised him that he would have no trouble, but has warned him of trouble and advised him to beware of men. Though he is to preach to men he is warned of them. While he is preparing a sermon for them they are making a trap for him; while he is praying for them they are finding fault with him; while he is outing the fire of dissension they are busy kindling it; and, as Judas, they grumble at every charitable deed. Yet, in all this, the preacher must be ready to preach the gospel to them. To preach to them is his own food, and to refuse to do which is to starve himself. He must eat of the same food which he deals out to others. Their dish is his dish, and their diet is his diet. Hear his solemn charge: 'I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.'--II Tim., iv, 1-2. To this our congregations will object, especially the part that tells the preacher to rebuke. In I Tim., 4, 16, he is told: 'Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.' In Acts xx, 28, it is said: 'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.' These passages point out very clearly the preacher's duty; he cannot mistake his way; let him take the word of God as a man of his counsel and have simple faith in God. In order for the preacher to be ready in season and out of season, he needs always to pray for the Spirit of God to assist him in preaching the gospel. He should go to his people ready to share their joys, sorrows and troubles. He should be ready to mourn with them who mourn, and weep with them who weep, and pray with them who pray. It is the most fearful responsibility under heaven to be a pastor--the most sacred trust and the highest honor. I am officially informed that I have been chosen of God and called by his people to be the pastor of this church. Regarding the voice of the people as being the voice of God, I do therefore, in the name of God, accept the same. I accept, not ignorant of its weight and cares. I shall expect you as a church to do your part, remembering that whatever you mete to men it shall be measured to you again. Let it be the controlling object of our whole life to win souls for God and for heaven. It is our business to lead sinners to Jesus. I put the sinners of Savannah on notice this night that I have come for you, I have come to lead you to Jesus. I have come to hold Christ up to you as the fairest among ten thousands and altogether lovely. I have come to hold up Jesus Christ to you as the only name given under heaven whereby you might be saved. I have come to beg you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. I have come to beg you to make friends with God. I have come to be your friend and to teach you to love him who first loved you and gave himself for you. I have come to invite you down in Jordan to be cleansed of the leprosy. I have come to beg you to get ready to die. You are swiftly passing away to the great judgment day, and I have come in the name of my Master to beg you to make some arrangement for your soul. Oh! I beg you in the name of high heaven to-night to commence even now, to make some arrangement for that precious soul that must always live in heaven or hell. Dear brethren, is this the intent for which ye have sent for me? Then do help me to preach this word; help me to show the sinners of Savannah the beauties that are in Jesus Christ. God help us do this in order that our garments might be clear of their blood. It is all of our business to see to it that sinners are properly informed of Christ. Let us speak well of Jesus. I have come to Savannah to speak well of the plan of redemption and of Jesus, its author. I have come among you as the friend of education, the advocate of economy and industry, as a worker in the Sunday schools, a promoter of peace, a law-abiding citizen, and the untiring and uncompromising enemy to whiskey. I want to be understood to-night as being the terror of whiskey and its votaries, so far as my power goes. I shall speak, write, preach, fight, work, pray and vote against it at every opportunity that may be afforded me through the entire journey of my life. Dear brethren, is this the intent for which ye have sent for me? Then can I depend upon you to support and help me do my work? The Christian's life should be so sublime; his life should be a living reality of the joy and blessedness of the life beyond; he should live so that he might be able to say, I know upon whom I have believed; I know that my Redeemer lives. 'O, what a blessed hope is ours while here on earth we stay.' Let us live and work as become children of the light and our death will be as sweet as it will be sublime, and heaven will be our eternal home. Let us covenant to walk together in Christ from this very night. As we walk together here we shall live together over the river upon the shining shores of that blessed country whose builder and maker is God, where pastor and people shall be gathered with everlasting joy and singing; where death never comes; where victors are crowned with Eden's wreath; where they shall sorrow no more; die no more; cry no more; thirst no more and hunger no more, for the lamb upon the throne shall feed them. For this let us labor, watch, pray and wait till Jesus comes and we will be gathered home. God help us for Jesus' sake. Amen."
Very soon after Mr. Love took charge of the church he found it necessary to preach upon going to law, this being prevalent:
GOING TO LAW.
"I. Cor., vi, 1: 'Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust and not before the saints?' I am not ignorant of the fact that I have a delicate and difficult subject to handle to-night about which much has been said, written and thought. If I should carelessly speak to-night untold harm might be the result, which would be just the opposite to what I aim at and wish so much to accomplish. I am also aware that this subject is as a two-edged sword, capable of cutting both ways.
"Believing it better to let two guilty men escape justice than to punish one innocent man, I proceed to discuss this subject to-night in the fear of heaven, relying upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit to assist me in so fearful an undertaking. I am outgrowing the idea that the truth should be kept from the people for fear that they will abuse it. I think the better way would be to have the whole truth and let the results be what they will. The common interpretation of this scripture will tend to make religion objectionable and church membership an unreasonable burden. The religion of Christ is based upon common-sense reasoning. We have hold of the chain of reason, the opposite end of which is centered in the eternal bosom of God. Religion requires us to live a common sense, practical life. Our Saviour rebuked the Pharisees for misinterpreting the law and binding heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, upon the people. Religion requires us to adopt a common course of justice with our fellow-men. There is as much logic in the idea of keeping the whole truth from the people for fear they will abuse it as there would be in the idea of keeping freedom from a people for fear they would abuse it. The better way would be to let the people have freedom, which is right, and then teach them the proper way to enjoy it. There is no privilege but that it has and can be abused. The principle is right, nevertheless. Water and food have made persons sick, yet it is not denied that they are good to take in. Some persons marry and do not get on well together, yet it is admitted that marrying is right. One man quits a woman upon the ground that he can not live with her, and yet another man marries her and lives happily with her.
"It must be admitted also that there are exceptions to all general rules. It is so in the Bible as well as in other books. God has shown this in his dealing with the children of men. Hence the origin of miracles. The rule for entering heaven is marked through repentance toward God and faith in His son, yet none of us doubt the salvation of infants, who can not do either. The rule is that a star does not stop, and yet one stood over the manger where the young child was. It is the rule that fire will burn, yet the Hebrew children went through the fiery furnace without the smell of fire upon their clothes. It is a rule that men die, yet Enoch and Elijah were translated. It is a rule that iron sinks, yet the prophet caused it to swim. In this light we must view many scriptural precepts. It was not lawful for the disciples to enter the corn field and eat on the Sabbath, yet Christ defended them, and said he was Lord even of the Sabbath. With the foregoing remarks we can more practically discuss this much disputed subject.
I.--IS IT RIGHT TO GO TO LAW WITH A BROTHER?
"We would say that it depends largely upon the character and nature of the subject in dispute. As a rule it is not right to go to law. If every body would do right we would have but little, if any, use for the courts. But from the fact that we are not predisposed to do unto all men as we would that they do unto us, God has appointed judges. The judges that sat in the gates of the city were to discern between the people. It is not good for church members to be contentious, because it does not reflect favorably upon Christianity. It would not reflect creditably upon members of the same family to be contending in the courts with each other. If brother goes to law with brother, where is the evidence that the grace of God is sufficient for all things, and that we love each other and are made perfect in one? As a rule the saints should judge points of difference between saints. As they shall take part in judging the world they might be entrusted with the matter of deciding points of difference between brethren with whom they shall be associated in deciding the destiny of the world, for the apostle says:
"I. Cor., vi, 2, 3: 'Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?'
"This instruction is evidently for personal differences. In cases of personal misunderstandings the church should interpose, and only the church. If a member is personally injured or aggrieved, he should, after proper gospel steps, tell it to the church. This principle is laid down by our Saviour in Matthew, xviii, 15-18: 'Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.'
In Leviticus, xix, 17, 18, we read: 'Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.'
"As the Israelites were just emancipated from Egyptian bondage, and were freemen going to live together in a free country, it was necessary that they should know their obligation to each other as the chosen of the Lord and as fellow-citizens. We read again in Luke xvii, 3, 4: 'Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.' These passages point out clearly the course to pursue in general matters. Respecting personal offenses, I wrote Dr. J. E. L. Holmes, of this city, asking him if a man who is a member of the church should assault your wife or daughter could you take such a case to law? This is his reply:
" 'JANUARY, 11, 1886.
" 'I should find it difficult to decide. The circumstances under which the assault was made would have much to do with the right or wrong. Might there not be reparation, apology? Ordinarily personal difficulties are better settled privately, and if carried into court give a notoriety to all concerned which is not in the interest of good order or wholesome influence. I rather think the apostle would have discouraged going into court in this case.'
"It seems that the Christians at Corinth habitually went before the heathen courts for every trifle about which they disagreed. The apostle is rebuking them for this, and gives them to know that this course is wholly repugnant to the genius of Christianity, and that by it they could not hope to impress the heathens with the loving influence of the Christian religion and thus win them to Christ. A contentious spirit is at variance with the spirit of religion and does not add a salutary influence to the church of Christ. Matthew Henry says on this subject: 'Here the apostle reproves them for going to law with one another before the heathen judges for little matters, and therein blames all vexatious law suits. In the previous chapter he had directed them to punish heinous sins among themselves by church censures. Here he directs them to determine controversies with one another by church counsel and advice, concerning which observe: 1. The fault he blames them for, it was going to law. Not but that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. But brother went to law with brother--one member of the church with another. The near relation could not preserve peace and good understanding. The bonds of fraternal love were broken through. And a brother offended, as Solomon says, is harder to be won than a strong city; their contentions are like the bars of a castle. Christians should not contend with one another, for they are brethren. This duly attended to would prevent law suits and put an end to quarrels and litigations. They brought the matter before the heathen magistrates; they went to law before the unjust, and not before the saints; brought the controversy before unbelievers and did not compose it among themselves, Christians and saints, at least in profession. This tended much to the reproach of Christianity. It published at once their folly and unpeaceableness; whereas they pretended to be the children of wisdom and the followers of the Lamb, the meek and lowly Jesus, the Prince of Peace. 'And therefore,' says the apostle, 'dare any of you, having a controversy with another, go to law, implead him, bring the matter to a hearing before the unjust?' Christians should not dare to do anything that tends to the reproach of their Christian name and profession. Here is at least an intimation that they went to law for trivial matters, things of little value, for the apostle blames them that they did not suffer wrong rather than go to law, which must be understood of matters not very important. But in matters of small consequence it is better to put up with the wrong. Christians should be of a forgiving temper. And it is more to their ease and honor to suffer small injuries and inconveniences than seem to be contentious.'
"This all seems to be striking at personal matters--matters of small moment. All seem to admit that this is the general rule--that the church should intervene to settle such matters between its members. Any matter that affects us as individuals in the shape of individual insults, assaults on our character or persons, may be adjusted by the church, and should by all means be kept out of the courts. There is only an individual feeling or grievance at stake. In this case the censure of the church is sufficient. Now let us be very careful as we notice the exceptions to this general rule. Let us pray that the holy spirit might give us a door of utterance, and that he also might prevent a misunderstanding of this scripture.
II.--IS THERE NO CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH A CHURCH MEMBER MAY TAKE A CASE TO LAW?
"We answer, most certainly there is. To say there is not would be to most fearfully pervert the spirit of the scriptures and open a door to the dishonestly disposed for the most unmitigating frauds. Too many dishonest church members would borrow money from church members with no intention whatever to pay it, and hide behind this scripture: 'Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust and not before the saints.' It must be considered that the Christians at Corinth were living in a heathen land and subject to heathen magistrates. We do not live in heathen lands and are not presided over by heathen rulers. We are citizens of a common country and are in honor bound to support the laws of this country. Many of our rulers are members of the Christian church, and many of their Christian lives are irreproachable. The laws of our country are based, for the most part, upon the Bible, which book is the guide to the Christian church. It must be acknowledged, therefore, that the circumstances under which the Christians at Corinth lived and the circumstances under which we live are decidedly different, and hence the exceptions to this general rule. I have taken pains to write some of the most learned men of our denomination on this subject; men whose ability is not questioned, and who are authority on Baptist usage. I give you extracts from their letters:
Dr. J. E. L. Holmes, of this city, writes me:
" 'JANUARY 11th, 1888.
" 'Dear Brother Love:
" 'I think we must take several things into consideration in interpreting I. Corinthians, vi, 1: 'Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?' The point of the apostle's answer is found in the fact that they went 'to law before the unjust,' that is, before the heathen tribunals. And this not because they could not hope for justice from heathen rulers, nor because the heathen rulers were not to be respected. The apostle is careful to teach them to respect and be subject to the authorities that be. See Romans, xiii, 1-8: ('Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.') Titus, iii, 1: ('Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.') But he saw that the effect of such litigation would be unfavorable to Christianity. The Jews were known to be a contentious people. They (Christians) must so act as to prevent creating such impression about the Christians, most of whom, at least at first, were Jews. Besides it was a sorry sight that these Christians, who were called of God and the heirs of heaven, should be going to these less favored to decide questions which they could so easily decide. I think we get the impression in reading the context, and especially the seventh verse, that the matters in dispute were of little consequence, involving no principle, and likely to produce no great injury one way or another. Notice, then, first, that we are not situated just as they were: Our judges and rulers are not heathen, but often our own brethren; our laws are based for the most part upon the principle taught in the New Testament. There is, then, no such scandal in going into court as there was in the days of the Christians of Corinth. But it may be wrong, nevertheless, to go to law, if by going to law we make it apparent to the world that while professing to be Christians we have not the spirit of Christ, or worse still, if the world (as represented in civil government) should be led to think that the spirit of contentiousness was the spirit of Christ. Better suffer some injustice than do the cause an injury by furnishing cavilers occasion for talk. Brethren should settle their difficulties by appeals to brethren, and with the advice and assistance of brethren. Romans xii, 18: 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,' is a fine illustration of the apostle's way of setting forth a great principle, with the limitation which our weakness makes necessary. If it be possible, that reminds us that there are exceptions to the rule. And now having noticed the principle, let us notice the exception. Are there not matters of difference which the church cannot decide? Ought not the church to relieve a brother of embarrassment in this regard (sometimes by putting an unworthy brother out of its pale)? Is a brother to suffer the loss of property, or to be otherwise injured in his person or family, because some one claiming to be a brother is presuming upon his connection with the church, while the first brother has no redress? To ask these questions is to answer them. A man who is capable of a great wrong has no claim to a brother's privileges, and the one who has been thus grievously wronged is under no law to treat him as such. Matthew, xviii, 17, might apply in such a case. It is the duty of the church in such a case to relieve itself of the odium attaching to a life so wholly at variance with the teaching of Christ. In the case you suppose, I should say that the banker might, without violating the spirit of the scripture, go to law.' [This was in answer to the question whether a banker could by law recover his money or not.]
" 'The last case seems to me clear, if arbitration has first been tried. And the right to property may depend upon a legal technicality. In the first and last cases it is true there is a matter of personal feeling, but of right under the law. Can a member of the church go to law under any circumstances? I should greatly regret having to go into court, but I should most certainly do so before I would allow the support of my family to be taken from them; before I should allow myself to suffer any great injury. Paul did not hesitate to appeal to C?ar when he saw that in this way alone could he have his rights and secure a fair trial. When the cause is manifestly just, when a principle is involved of real moment, and the rights such as depend upon the existence of government, I believe we may rightly make exceptions to what ought to be the rule. If all brethren were as they should be, of course secular courts would not be needed for Christianity, but this is not an ideal state, and the Bible recognizes the fact.'
"As to going to law, Dr. Mell writes, January 11, 1886:
" 'Rev. E. K. Love:
" 'DEAR BROTHER--Can one church member sue another at law? This is one of those questions on which there will always be an honest difference of opinion; for, 1st, courts in this country cannot be characterized as essentially and by their own constitutions and materials 'unjust' and unbelievers. They are partly based on the Christian religion. The Bible is used in its administrations, and often large portions of its individual members are exemplary Christians.
" '2d. There are many legal questions that honestly spring up between brethren that none are competent to decide except those learned in the law. Very few, if any, of our churches are competent to adjudicate such questions. It would seem then that, with or without first obtaining the consent of the church, brethren may amicably and candidly submit such cases for the arbitration of the courts without violating the principles of the gospel law--especially if they would refrain from the use of strategy so often employed by counsel. Sometimes delay, caused by the slow intervention of the church, affords opportunity to a dishonest church member to make away with his property to the great injury of the one who has a just claim against him. I see not why there should be any hesitation in invoking the courts in the two cases you refer to, since no church could consistently hesitate to expel the parties at the first opportunity.'
"We call next on the stand that distinguished theologian and scholar of the first order, Rev. Dr. J. M. Pendleton. He writes from Bowling Green, Ky.:
" 'JANUARY 13, 1886.
" 'Brother Love:
" 'I do not understand I. Cor., vi, 1, as forbidding Christians in any circumstances to go to law with another. There may be cases in which it is necessary to bring suit with a view to settle points that can not otherwise be settled, deciding, for example, land titles, etc. Such suits may be brought in a friendly manner. I give this illustration to show that it is not wrong, in all circumstances, for brethren to go to law.'
"In answer to a question that I put to him, that if a man borrows money at the bank and gave property as collateral, and refused to pay the bill, could the banker sue for his money--presuming that both are members of the church? He answers:
" 'If there is proof of dishonesty in the borrower, then he should be excluded from the church and be no longer regarded as a brother. When this is done, there is nothing in the way of bringing suit.
" 'Your second question refers to an assault on some one's wife or daughter by a church member. You ask if in such a case may there be a resort to law. I answer, Yes; but the first thing is for the church to exclude the member. In case of scandalous crimes, no church trial is called for. The exclusion should be prompt, as you may see from 1. Cor., v. After the exclusion there may be an appeal to law; but in many cases it is better not to have such a matter ventilated in the courts. The course to be taken should be determined by the circumstances in each case.'
"As to a dispute about property, he says:
"I do not see how the matter can be settled out of court; but there should be no unfriendly feeling, only a simple desire for justice to be done.'
"We once more quote the distinguished commentator Matthew Henry:
" 'In matters of great damage to ourselves and families we may use lawful means to right ourselves. We are not bound to sit down and suffer the injury tamely, without striving for our own relief.'
"We would still put up another important witness. He is the first preacher I ever heard of in my life. He baptized my mother and father and most of my relatives. He seems as a grandfather to me. He is a ripe scholar and a safe theologian. That beloved, distinguished man is Dr. J. H. DeVotie. He writes me from Griffin, Ga., January 15th, 1886:
" 'Dear Brother:
" 'In the simplest form I answer your questions in your note of January 5th, 1886. The 6th of I. Cor., i, 5, does not forbid under all circumstances members of the church from settling their differences by an appeal to the laws of the country.
" 'Question A.--I answer yes, he ought to be made to pay it. They have made it a transaction governed by law. They have made legal papers, and there is a legal tribunal. The church should exclude the man who will not meet his honest engagements, and who will not listen to the committee of the church who deal with him according to the scriptural rule. He should be to the church 'as a heathen man and a publican,' and be dealt with according to the laws of the heathen and the publican. "
" 'Question B.--I do not know what you mean by wife or daughter being assaulted by a member of the church. If you mean an attempt to commit rape, or something kindred to that, why certainly he ought to be indicted and punished according to law.
" 'Question C.--The two members of a church who hold, each of them, a deed to the same piece of land must settle it by law. The law creates the title. I cannot conceive of two good deeds to the same piece of ground. There must be a legal and an illegal deed. The law alone can decide. Brethren may interpose, but they can never say justly that the illegal deed must hold the land.'
"And last, but not least, we call to the stand a scholar and safe theologian, and successful and experienced pastor. He is my father in the gospel; by him I was baptized, and from him I received my first impressions of gospel truth. That dear man is Rev. W. H. McIntosh, D. D. He writes me from Cedartown, Ga., Jan. 21, 1886:
" 'Dear Brother Love:
" 'I can only give the scriptural law applicable to the case. I Cor., vi, 1, forbids brother to go to law with brother. I know of no exception in the New Testament. This law is not designed to screen one member of the church from paying an honest debt to another member. If it is evident that he is seeking to defraud his brother of a just claim, the church should arraign him for dishonesty, and when they have excluded him then the aggrieved brother can appeal to the courts for redress; the offender is to him 'as a heathen man and a publican.'--Matt., xviii, 17. Such cases are apt to be complicated and to prove troublesome to the church, and it is sometimes wise to get the parties (creditor and debtor) to submit the matter to arbitration before it comes before the church. You see the danger is that the friends of each party may take sides with their favorite, and parties be raised in the church that may be perpetuated for years and for evil. The same principles apply to the case of two members each holding a deed to the same property. In the case of assault by a member of the church upon the person of the wife or daughter of another member, if you mean an attempt upon her virtue, the offender should be arraigned before the church and, if convicted and excluded, as he should be if guilty, the husband or father can and ought to prosecute him.'
"It is remarkable that all of these divines agree in substance upon this scripture. They are not biased, as they knew not what I wanted to teach. They gave honest statements. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. They do not give it as a result of consultation with each other; every one wrote from a different place and from his standpoint, without knowing that anybody else had been consulted.
"This subject has caused a great deal of trouble in the church of Christ. Many unworthy persons have taken advantage of this scripture, which the church is endeavoring to honestly obey, to be dishonest and perpetrate the most glaring frauds upon each other. For a church to insist that a member can, under no circumstances, go to law, is to license men to commit
the most terrible crimes, the atrocity of which common sense and civilization will scorn. If the church continues at this, the young element will revolt and leave the church of their fathers. if men honestly owe debts, and have property out of which those debts can be paid, it is common justice that they pay them. If they will not pay those debts, the church should be no screen to protect dishonesty, and the courts should interpose to defend the rights of a citizen. If a man can pay a debt and will not pay it, and as the church cannot make him pay it, the courts should be invoked. There are numbers of church members sitting down in the church who owe debts, and upon the presumption that you dare not go to law, wilfully refuse to pay them. What is the remedy? Let the member so suffering report the case to the officer whose duty it will be to labor with the debtors, and if they still refuse to pay, let the officers tell it to the church, and if they still refuse, let the church expel them, and then the suffering member can take legal steps to recover his money. This should only be done when everything else has failed. No church can consistently keep in its fellowship a dishonest member, and no person is honest who can pay a debt and will not do it. We are not bound to respect dishonest persons.
"I have known judges and lawyers and jurors in our courts to be preachers of the gospel. Would we call a court of that make-up 'heathen,' 'unjust' and 'unbelievers?' There is perhaps, in many instances, as much honesty and justice in the decisions of the courts as in those of the churches. As a rule, homestead is dishonest and a screen from justice. Our property ought to be subject to our debts. The church very often makes sad mistakes in its dealings with its members. This is because she is not infallible. The sweet thought is that we will get home by and by, where mistakes will be impossible. There will be no conferences nor arbitration of the courts. Jesus Christ will hug us to his holy bosom and our joy will be as pleasing as it will be eternal. Then shall we know as we are known, and having everything in common, we shall join the countless number of harpers, harping with harps, and throughout the countless ages of eternity we shall bathe our weary souls in seas of heavenly rest, and not a wave of trouble roll across our peaceful breast. Then, as we stand upon the sea of glass mingled with fire we shall make heaven's arches ring as the flightless ages of eternity roll. God help us. Amen."
Shortly after the delivery of this effectual discourse Rev. Love delivered the following discourse to a densely-packed house. The congregation was intensely interested, and it is confidently believed that great good followed from this discourse. During its delivery Rev. Mr. Love held his hearers spell-bound. The fact that so many members of the church and citizens generally felt that they could break the nuptial tie at will, and since they obtained a divorce from the courts that all was well, Mr. Love felt called upon to raise his voice against it. After the delivery of this sermon the church took a strong stand against unscriptural divorce:
THE SERMON.--SCRIPTURAL DIVORCE.
"There is nothing which strikes so essentially at the very root of society as the tampering with the marriage institution. If this is corrupt, society is degraded, happiness is destroyed, morality is debased, virtue is gone, civilization is crippled, Christianity is hindered, and gloom spreads her drapery over our land, the garden spot of the globe. For the family circle is the seed-bed of society, the fountain-head of civilization, the birth-place of tranquility, the cradle of prosperity, the moulding-place of character, and the reservoir from which streams of joy or misery flow. As the family circle is, so will society be. Clandestine marriages and divorces seem to be the special curse of this age. It would seem that the further we get from the primeval state of man the more remote are we removed from the proper observance of the matrimonial institution. In Massachusetts for every fourteen marriages there is one divorce. In proud Maine there are 478 divorces a year. In these Southern States it is simply alarming. In the New England States there are 2,000 divorces in a single year. What must all these grass widows do? Do you believe that they will live pure? Is not this an alarming state of society? Is it not time that the church was waging war against this flood-tide of immorality? Can society rest at ease when a restless worm is eternally gnawing on its taproot? Should not the watchmen on the walls give the alarm when they see the enemy coming to destroy the city and take away the inhabitants captive? How long will it be before we will reach the point when it will not be safe for anybody's daughter to follow a man off if this thing continues? How long will it be before parents should mourn for their daughters as though they were dead when they give their hand in marriage to a man? How long will it be before there will be more grass widows than there will be young girls who have never been married? How long will it be before young men will be obliged to pick their choice from among the grass widows or wait till some more girls grow up? How long will it be before the girls will have to inquire after every young man who makes a polite bow, tips his hat and wishes to see her to church, 'Is he a grass widower?' Considering this appalling state of society, we beg your prayerful consideration to-night of
"Mark, x, 9: 'What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.'
"We are called upon to consider another one of those delicate subjects that gives endless trouble in the Christian church and in all this land. I can scarcely hope that this feeble effort will be wide spread and do anything like universal good; but I can and do hope that it will do good in my immediate congregation. The prevalence of divorce, clandestine marriages, and separation is simply alarming. The ignoring of the sanctity of the nuptial tie in this country is a great scandal to civilization and the cause of Christianity. The church should be aroused to throw all of her influence against this flood-tide of immorality and save this nation from this sin and shame. The marriage rite is of God, and His book alone is authority for its government. Civil government did not originate the matrimonial institution, and should not interfere with it further than His law allows. The Bible is the foundation of all just and wise laws, and no courts should presume to forego its teachings. God is the author of all of our being, and his laws should govern us all. They were given in divine wisdom, and we should not presume to improve upon them. We are not allowed to amend them. They are as everlasting as He is eternal. His own Son came to earth and denied that he had a right to change them, but that he came to explain and fulfill them. His laws should be sufficient for his children. The wisdom of men and angels combined could not produce such a book, and hence the folly in trying to make better laws than it contains, or wickedness in refusing to abide its teachings. Marriage is a religious rite, and the Bible is the book governing religious rites. Whatever the courts do in this regard that is not in accordance with that blessed book is sinful and wrong, and must work hurt to the cause of morality, Christianity and civilization. They differ only from heathens in that they know better; and hence their wrong is the more inexcusable.
I.--WHAT GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER.
"The sacredness of the matrimonial relation is at once put forth in the fact that God joins together. He who opens and no man can shut, and shuts and no one can open, joins together man and woman as husband and wife, and puts His seal upon the union that 'no man put asunder.' The sacredness of the relation is further seen in that God made them at first twain. They were the only two, and, therefore, must stay together. They fell together and were driven out of the garden together. There was no other woman for Adam to take and Eve could not get another husband. It seems that if God had meant for man to have more than one wife he would have started him with more than one. He said that man should cleave unto his wife and not wives. The Bible says that woman should obey her husband, not husbands. There is nothing more wonderful and sacred than the flowing together of two human lives. Can we conceive of a thing more wonderful than that a man who is born and reared a thousand miles from Savannah, comes here on a visit, gets acquainted with one of our girls, falls in love with her, letters begin to pass between them and by and by their lives are flown into one. He lives for her and she lives for him. Their destiny is one and their interest is common. Their love is one, their joy is the same, and through the vicissitudinous cycles of time they are to live as one, for better or for worse. A union that is so sacred, so wonderful, and so sublime as this should not and can not be dissolved at will.
"It is not strange, therefore, that the most stringent laws are thrown around the holy rite of matrimony. The more sacred a thing is, the more rigorous the laws concerning it, and the more severe the punishment in case of violation. The Saviour described His intimacy with His church by the relation of husband and wife. The name woman means pliant, and implies that she leans upon man. If man falls she cannot stand, and if she falls she carries him with her. This is plainly shown in the fall, and in all subsequent history. Though Eve was the first to fall, she carried Adam with her. They were one in interest and in destiny, and the one could not stand after the other had fallen. Adam's only excuse to God for his sin was, 'The woman whom thou gavest to be with me she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.' They alike were cursed, for they were one. They went out of the garden alike and together. 'Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them. In all of God's dealings with the children of men this fact of the union of husband and wife is recognized. The limit of the union is marked by Him. His limit is the only legal one. There is nothing on earth that is a purer picture of heaven than the family circle. There is nothing that more clearly illustrates the love of God for His church than the nuptial tie. It is not strange, therefore, that it is said that God joins them together. All true marriages are just as truly joined together by God as the church and His Son are joined together by Him. And He has just as complete control of the conjugal relation as over the union of the church and His Son. He sustains the same relation to both: God over all and blessed for evermore. The woman is said to be 'the better half.' See that infant boy as he comes into the world unconscious of his existence, and still every effort seems to be a struggle for his 'lost piece,' his 'better half.' The girl is the same. Every smile and graceful look seems to indicate that she is in search of something that she would be delighted to find. It is a husband with whom she wishes to cast her destiny. It is nature seeking its own. See them battling with the ins and outs of life until they come to years when the dreams of infancy are o'er and the visions of childhood are ended, and they refuse longer to remain under the parental roof. There is something without that suits them much better. It does not matter what attraction the parental home may possess, it does not matter what wealth the parents may have, nor what may be the culture and refinement the family home present, 'there is a gentle voice within calls away.' He goes up to a man and looks him in the face and asks him for his daughter with as much grace as a Jew would invite you into his store. Generally the father says yes. He asked once himself. How can he refuse? It is the young man's wife that God has made for him and the father has been holding her in trust simple until this young man comes for her and asks that their lives be poured into one. As a rule, it is the father's duty to surrender his guardianship just as completely as if she had died.
"Their lives henceforth is to be a life. God has joined them together and he seals the union with heaven's stamp that 'no man put asunder.' If it be argued that all marriages are not joined together by God, I answer, neither are all persons' union with the church sanctioned by God, but they say so, and we take their word and receive them, for by their word they shall be judged. In the church we deal with hypocrites and true Christians by the same rule. We call them all brethren and sisters because we do not know any better. They are to God for their internal qualification. No mistake is admissible before His righteous bar, before which, we will be tried. God has made us intelligent beings capable of making a choice, and he holds us accountable for the choice we do make. I believe it is everybody's duty to get married. I believe it is a divine duty. The God of our being, who knows every particle that goes into our make up, said it was not good for man to be alone. He made us help meets one for another. That woman's life that cannot pour into some man's life is cloddy, spongy and sticky. Lumber that can not be worked is knotty and refused, it matters not how good it may look. You very often hear persons say that the reason that they do not get married is that they can't find anybody to suit them. It is just as often true that there is nothing of genuine greatness in them to be suited. The union of husband and wife illustrates finely the union of the believer and Christ. 'My beloved is mine, and I am his.' 'I sat down, under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.' 'His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.' 'My beloved spoke, and said unto me, rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' 'I am my beloved's and his desire is toward me.' 'Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.' These quotations are from the Song of Solomon that all admit to be a figure of Christ and his church. If we are Christ's by redemption and the gift of the Father, His life and our life are one, and the life which we now live is not ours, but we live by faith that is in Him. When the hearts of Christ and the believers have been joined together by the Father, then, and not until then, can we see the force and beauty in the expression of Paul: 'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' We come now to consider the separation.
II.--LET NOT MAN PUT ASUNDER.
"This restraint is put upon man individually and collectively. The restraining injunction is issued by the court of heaven against individuals, societies, courts and churches for anything other than God's law doth allow, and that thing is adultery or fornication. If we would come back to the old landmark the marriage institution would be purer, social order would be more sacred, and human happiness would be sublimer and the standard of morality would be raised higher. If our courts would conform to the divine law in divorce cases they would do lasting good to the cause of civilization and promote the cause of Christianity. The courts have established the following legal grounds for a divorce:
"I. Inter-marriage.--That is where a man marries too near a relative--a half-sister, cousin, etc. Such a marriage the courts would declare null and void.
"II. Mental Incapacity--Non compos mentis.--That is a person who is so crazed as to be unfit to discharge the marriage duties. In this case the courts would declare the nuptial relation invalid and would grant a divorce to the plaintiff, putting them asunder.
"Impotency.--That is weakness, whether of mind or body; some disease of body or mind that makes a person incompetent to do the duties of a married life, or too disagreeable to live with. This the courts would declare sufficient grounds for divorce and the contracting parties would be set at liberty.
"IV. Forced Marriage.--That is where a person is forced to marry by others, by outside influence or for fear of losing life. The courts would say that the parties did not contract and hence the marriage is illegal. The parties would be declared free.
"V. Pregnancy of the wife before marriage unknown to the husband at the time of marriage.--This is tantamount to adultery after marriage. This, the courts would decide a legal cause for divorce, and hence it would be granted and the parties set free. But if the man knew it when he made the contract, he would be held responsible and not be allowed a divorce.
"VI. Simple adultery is a legal ground for divorce by the courts.--Upon this the laws of God and of man are agreed.
"VII. Willful and continued desertion of either contracting party for three years.--The courts would decide the marriage vow broken and, therefore, the contract a nullity, and grant a permanent divorce, freeing the parties.
"VIII. Conviction of either party of crime involving moral turpitude and sentenced for two years in the penitentiary.--This the courts would deem a sufficient cause for divorce. Then, again, the courts have what they term discretionary grounds for divorce. Under this head is cruel treatment and habitual intoxication. For these the courts leave themselves free to grant or refuse as they may see fit. Now have not they plausible grounds to set at naught the law of God? What can look more abominable than an earthly court sitting in judgment upon the court of heaven, reviewing its decisions, reversing and setting at naught its judgment, the lower court reviewing the higher court, men correcting God? The Supreme Law Giver has allowed but two things to put asunder what He has joined together--they are adultery and fornication. The one is unforeseen by the contracting parties, the other can't be helped. Jesus has said that if a man puts away his wife for any other cause except adultery or fornication causes her to commit adultery, and he that marries her that is put away also commits adultery. This is the gospel order and the gospel church is morally bound to support and contend for the gospel order. It does not matter, therefore, upon what ground the courts may grant a divorce the church cannot recognize it, except it is granted upon the principle laid down by our Saviour and for the cause named by Him--adultery.
"All other divorces are unscriptural, and the parties so obtaining them are guilty of adultery, and therefore unfit for membership in the Christian church. A married couple is bound by the law of God as long as they live, except fornication or adultery separate them. Neither is free while the other lives, unless the cause be scriptural. If the cause be scriptural, the innocent party may marry again, after a divorce is had, and remain a wholesome member of the church, but the guilty party cannot marry again and be a member of the Christian church. Though, if there is evidence of genuine repentance, the guilty party might be restored to church fellowship, but not allowed to marry again.
"In cases of abandonment, or 'willful continued desertion,' as the courts put it, the parties might be allowed to separate and be retained as members of the church, provided they are reconciled to each other, but not be divorced from each other--not allowed to marry again, from the fact that the church cannot make laws. Her laws are made by Christ, and He has allowed only two causes for total divorce, and they are adultery and fornication. A thousand men have no more right to put asunder what God has joined together than one man has. It is no more legal, in the sight of God, for twelve men to put asunder man and wife than it is for one man to do it; and the church should regard it no more than if one man had done it.
"The Apostle Paul says, in I. Cor., vii, 10, 11--'And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, that a wife depart not from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: And let not the husband put away his wife.'
"Here is no intimation of divorce, for she is told to remain unmarried.
"In the twelfth and thirteenth verses, the apostle lays down the rule for the government of marriages of believers and unbelievers. He says, if a man has an unbelieving wife, and she be pleased to stay with him, he must not put her away. The same is true of a woman with an unbelieving husband.
"At the fifteenth verse he seems to strike another key. He says that 'If the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.'
"The apostle is not contradicting the general principle laid down by the Lord. Christ dealt with a general matter, and the apostle is dealing with a special matter. Christ laid down the general rule, and the apostle is applying it. We would need to consider the circumstances for which the apostle is giving this special rule, for we all know that it is one thing to lay down a general rule, and quite another to apply it.
"The converted wives of pagans were subjected to many difficulties and temptations. These Christian women had learned to look upon idolatry with horror, and still the kitchen hearth was consecrated to false gods. These gods were to be worshipped by the family circle. How could a Christian woman conscientiously do this? And how could she have peace if she refused? When they sat down to a meal, libation, as worship, was poured out to some false god, 'and on joyous occasions the pantomimic dance and profane song were required.' What Christian could take part in such worship, so wholly repugnant to the religion of Christ? It is said that the 'reign of Venus was coextensive with that of Jove.' There were many heathen worships that the wife would be subjected to by marrying a heathen man that would make her life miserable. Under these circumstances the apostle wrote. Yet he does not tell her to leave him, 'but if he depart, let him depart,' and after he departs she is not told to remarry, but remain unmarried.
"Respecting cruel treatment, it seems that this same rule would apply. If life is endangered by living together, a temporary separation may be in order, but never a remarriage. Whenever the parties became reconciled they might again resume their nuptial relation.
"So with drunkenness. The wife might resort to every honorable means to cure a drunken husband, but never separate from him except it be absolutely necessary to save her life. And then she is positively forbidden to marry again. That same drunken man is her husband until he dies.
"So with willful and continued desertion. If he still lives he is her husband, and the scriptures do not justify a divorce. It must be remembered that they married 'for better or for worse.'
"I believe that either party guilty of the offense named by the Saviour is bound to divorce the other when apprized of it. It is not in their province to forgive this offense, for it just as virtually dissolves the union as death. If they remain together after this both are guilty of adultery and unfit for membership in the Christian church. A man marrying a woman that is divorced, and professing Christ afterward, cannot join the Christian church so long as he lives with this divorced woman. You will see, therefore, that a divorced person is never capable of marrying again. She is forever retired from the matrimonial world. To the marriage rite she is dead, and a man has no more right to contract marriage with a divorced woman than. with a dead woman. If he does, he dies with her, and the church must regard him as dead and turn him out of her pale to mingle with the dead. The courts have what they call discretionary powers, but the church has none. The Bible is her code; to its teachings she must bow and say amen.
"The cause of so many separations and divorces is because persons have gone into the matrimonial rite heedlessly--without mature thought, and, worse still, without love. Persons have been persuaded to marry by their friends who had no higher idea of marriage than to accept the advice of a foolish, deceitful friend. Many persons have married because the woman looked well, dressed well and talked well. With no higher aspiration than to get a good looking wife. Some girls have married a man to spite the other girls, or because her parents didn't want her to marry him. Some girls, I'm sorry to say, have married to get away from their parents because they were so unreasonable and cruel. They hadn't time to think of love. They were in the fire and the quickest way out was the best way to them. Some parents seem never to think that their girls are of age until they marry. Some girls have simply married a fellow because he had something; some, still, married one man and loved another. The parents objected to their choice, and hence the man married another to abuse her, and the girl married another to disobey and deceive him. It is a fearful thing to trifle with a person's love. Many parents will find it hard at the bar of God. To all of those who have gone into marriage thoughtlessly, yea, to you unfortunates, I have this word of consolation for you: You have made your bed hard, lie hard--God's word does not grant you a divorce. Try to so live that you will get over it when you die. That is the end of your suffering. You will not have to live with him as husband in heaven, for there they neither marry nor are given in marriage. But they do always behold the face of the Father, and Jesus Christ the Lord. Then it will all be over and heaven will yield you sweeter rest. It is pleasing to know that when this life of suffering, abuses and disappointments is over that we have the promise of a better life beyond--that is free from mistakes or anything that defiles a man. The hope of that heavenly home is sweet. If a single thought that I have expressed will urge you to purer lives and to think more highly of Jesus and the glorious doctrines of the cross I am satisfied. May the holy spirit impress these truths upon your hearts, for Jesus' sake. Amen."
Rev. Love was earnestly requested by some of his members to preach a sermon upon the "Keys of the kingdom, and binding and loosing," which he did to the satisfaction of the church, a true copy of which is here reproduced, with the hope that it will do much good. We charitably hope that it will be read with interest and profit. Those who read it may not be so highly favored as those who heard it considered themselves, yet the blessing of God is prayed upon it that it may prove a blessing to the reader too:
LOOSING AND BINDING.
"Matthew, xvi, 19--'And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shalt be loosed in heaven.'
"I appear before you to-night to discuss another one of those difficult subjects about which there is a diversity of opinion even among scholars. I do not delight in discussing difficult subjects, but it is needful for me to suggest a few thoughts from this text which I hope will be useful to you. This text is very much quoted and equally as much misunderstood. The blessed Saviour's intimacy with his church is declared in the text. The Saviour organized the church and left His seal of approbation upon it, with the promise that whenever they met in His name and agreed, that their meetings and doings should be clothed with divine authority, and that heaven would sanction whatever they did in His name as His representatives. This is what makes apostolic examples as binding on us as the words of our Saviour. They were inspired to act as well as to say. They did what the Saviour would have done, and said what He would have said. Jesus, on entering Cesarea Phillippi, asked His disciples what did men think of Him. Peter said that some thought he was John the Baptist, some thought he was Elias, some thought he was Jeremias, or some of the prophets. The Saviour then put the question directly to them, to which Peter answered, 'Thou art Christ the Son of the living God.' Upon this truth confessed by Peter the Saviour promised to build His church, to which He gave Peter the keys, that he might unlock it to Jews and Gentiles. This was not to put Peter above the other disciples. As he had nearly always spoken for the crowd, being characteristic of his nature, so he represented them in the reception of the keys.
I.--AND I WILL GIVE UNTO THEE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
"A key is an instrument for opening a door. He who has it has the privilege of entering at will. The keys referred to in the text mean authority, power, divine appointment. This authority has not been given to Peter alone, but in some respect to every minister of Jesus.
"If to Peter alone was given this power and divine sanction we might justly be alarmed, unless we can find the family through which the transferring of the keys have passed from St. Peter. If we should fail in this, then we should find no open door into the kingdom. There is no evidence in the scriptures that St. Peter was promoted above his fellow-disciples. Paul withstood him to his face for he was to be blamed. This Paul would not have done had he recognized Peter as ruler. For Paul more than once taught that we should obey them that had rule over us, and that whoever resisted the rulers resisted the ordinances of God.
"If St. Peter was recognized as chief of the church of the apostolic age, it is strange that none of the documents bear his signature approved as such. It is more than strange that he on no occasion issued a proclamation to the churches as such.
Every other person claiming to be chief on certain occasions has issued proclamations or documents bearing their signature as chief. The logical conclusion, therefore, must be that so far as apostolic supremacy is concerned there was none, and all of the apostles were equal.
"The power was given alike to all of them. The presentation of the keys to the apostles reminds us of a husband going away and turning over the keys to his wife, to whom he entrusts all of his business. After giving her full instructions about the business, and ample directions in every part of it, he tells her that whatever she does, according to the directions given, he will approve it, for it would be as if he had done it. Or as a master going off delivers his goods into the hands of his servant, with orders and promises to approve whatever he does according to the orders given. Christ is under no promise to endorse what He has not ordered, and what the Bible does not contain He has not ordered and will not endorse. The presentation of the keys to His disciples indicates His loving intimacy with the church. Where a loving intimacy exists between two parties there also exists power of the one over the other. For intimacy breeds power, confidence and approbation. This is what makes the church the most powerful institution under heaven. She enjoys intimacy with Christ. She has His approving smiles. No other organization could have come through the bloody and fiery persecution, increasing as it marched, but the church, the Lamb's bride. Her intimacy with the King gained His favor and protection. The intimation to St. Peter here is that he would be the first to open the door of the visible kingdom--the church--to both Jews and Gentiles. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, and at Cornelius' house. The kingdom evidently means the Christian church. It must be remembered that no intimation is here or elsewhere given that Christ gave Peter the keys of heaven. For in that event every one who wished to enter heaven would be obliged to consult Peter. Peter would indeed be the proper being to whom prayer would be due, since upon him would hang our chance for entering heaven; in this case it would be evident that Christ had transferred his power to Peter, and hence prayer to Christ would be improper and a violation of contract. It will be remembered, also, that Christ appeared to John many years after this with the keys of authority in his own hands, showing that he had not transferred them to any body. Our Lord has arranged it so that we can go to the throne direct and have no right or business to consult men, departed saints nor angels. We can come boldly for ourselves to a throne of grace and speak directly to the King. We have as much right to the keys of heaven as Peter had, or anybody else. We rejoice to know that God will answer our prayers as quick as He will anybody else's. That which guarantees the answer to prayer has always been the same, and that is faith. The prayer of faith has always been answered. By this means the door of heaven is opened. Whether this is the key or not, it is not important to know. It opens or it influences him to open who has the keys. In either case the result reached is the same. There need not be any miscarriage in our petitions, for we can carry them ourselves directly to the King. If we have not the keys of the kingdom of heaven, we have the keys of authority to approach His Majesty in the name of Christ, the Lord. This intimacy is encouraged by the Lord, and He is still the head of the church and hugs her to His bosom as His bride and approves her as His own.
II.--BINDING ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN.
"This at once sets forth the seal of approbation upon the church of Christ the Lord. But this is conditioned upon the presumption that the church has complied with the contract. The word 'bind' among the Jews was used to denote a thing declared--a doctrine taught. It must be remembered that 'loose' and 'bind' were used only among the Jews, and refers to things and not to persons. So that the Saviour meant that whatever thing or censure ye inflicted upon a person, or in the church, according to the rule I have just given you, shall be ratified in heaven. Let as not forget that the Saviour quotes this Jewish phrase just after he had given direction how to deal with an offending person. The language used by Christ is found only in Matthew, who is supposed to have written his gospel in Hebrew for the Jews and afterward translated it into Greek.
"It will be seen that the Greek 'osa' is neuter and refers to a thing, and that 'desete' was used among the Jews as referring to the declaration of a doctrine or any article of restraining or granting. They generally meant that it is lawful to do or not do, as the case might, be, by 'loose' and 'bind.' Now, then, the conclusion must be that Christ meant to teach them that whatever law they enacted or censure they inflicted according to His law He would approve of it. A sweet thought is intimated here that the doings of the church on earth are reviewed by the church in heaven. The decision of the court below is subject to the court above. If the court below meets in the name of Christ, and censures one of its members for crime or obstinacy, the court above confirms the decision of the court below and the censure is valid. Such a member is turned over to Satan to be buffeted for a season until that member shall have learned to behave and acknowledge the authority of the church. The court regards the censure as being just. Just how such a member is regarded by the court above we may not learn until we shall have been made members of that holy and infallible tribunal. If from prejudice, ill feelings, unfairness or strategy a member is turned out, the censure is unjust, the judgment of the court below is reversed. It is not 'bound' in heaven, not 'loosed' in the court of the righteous Judge of all the earth,
"It must be noticed, also, that the apostles were inspired and therefore less likely to make mistakes. No church and no minister would presume to read the hearts of their members as Peter did Anania's and Sapphira's. That power was granted only to the pioneers of the Christian religion. It is not now used because it is not now needed. People are more capable of reasoning now, and hence we resort to reason, for the days of miracles to convince men of the power of the Christian religion are over. Where Paul found the people prepared to reason, as at Athens, no miracles were performed. The approbation of Christ upon His church is to make men fear and love the church as they would Him. It is intended to have the enemies of the cross to know that He espouses the cause of His church and will defend her. He made Paul understand that the punishment that he was inflicting upon His church was upon her Lord. 'Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me,' was the strange inquiry. He has said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me,' and that one had better be in the sea with a millstone about his neck than to offend one of these, my little ones. Such passages should make the enemies of the cross stand in awe. If you insult the church you insult her Lord. Who can behold the wonderful accomplishments of the church without learning that she must have been supported by hands divine? Who can, after examining the victories of the church, fail to see that she was defended by an eternal arm? Who can learn the history of the church and notice her powerful enemies without feeling that a supreme being must have guided her. Criticize the church as severely as you may, but you will find fewer mistakes in her acts than in any other institution under heaven. Examine her literature and learned men and no other institution presents such an enviable front. In question of purity where is her equal? In doctrine, what institution touches her purity, justness and sublimity? In liberality and virtue she occupies the highest plane. All this shows that she is guided by the eternal eye and kept by grace through faith. As the church associates with Christ she will naturally contract His habits, imbibe His doctrines and gather strength from Him. Therefore He has promised to endorse what she does in conforming to His will. It does not mean that if the church receives an unconverted person into her fellowship that heaven accepts him. This would be inconsistent with the charter of the gospel church-regeneration.
"There are many things which the church does that are not 'bound' in heaven. This does not mean that if the church should owe an honest debt and 'bind' not to pay it, that it will be 'bound' in heaven. The Bible tells to her to 'owe no man.' This does not mean that should the church 'bind' not to support the mission work and spread the gospel that it shall be 'bound' in heaven. She is told to preach the gospel to every creature. It means that whatever the church does that is right, that the author of right will endorse it; that whatever she does that He has commanded He will approve of it. God will approve of the right in everybody and reward them accordingly. He will show her the path of life and bring her in His presence where there is fullness of joy, and set her on His right hand where there are pleasures for evermore. If the church would have the approving smiles of her Master, let her strive to do right and all will be well. His smile eclipses the frowns of all the enemies combined. It is day if He smiles upon us in the midst of ten thousand frowning worlds. In the scorns, contempts and darkness of the world, like the children of Israel in Egypt, there will be light in our house under the approving smiles of Christ, our Lord, and amid the persecutions and fierce battles of life we may sing amid the tempest, 'Praise the Lord.' Notice further:
III.--LOOSING ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN.
"It is also true of this loosing. It is a seal of approbation; but it is a seal of approbation of the right, and not of the wrong. In neither case is it meant that there is a turning out of heaven. The primary meaning is that the acts of the church are endorsed by heaven. It is fair to presume, therefore, that since the church makes mistakes many of her decisions are reversed by the supreme court. Many whom the church censures do not rest under the divine censure, because the church is wrong; and many whom the church acquits still remain under the divine censure, because they are guilty. But if the church justly declares non-fellowship with a member, Christ approves it as being just. This is what is meant by 'loosed' on earth and 'loosed' in heaven. This further shows the intimacy between Christ and his church. Whatever she hates, He hates, and whatever she declares is wrong and unholy, He declares is wrong and unholy. It does not mean that whoever is turned out of the church is turned out of heaven. This is not what the Saviour is driving at. If when they are turned out of the church they are turned out of heaven, then when they wish to make their return, they must first be taken into the church before they can be received back into heaven. This argument would place the church before heaven, and strike the deathblow to the doctrine taught by John, that we must bring forth fruit meet for repentance. The soul should first get right with its God, and then with His people. It is often the case that when God has forgiven a sin that the church is still grumbling about it. It is also true that God has forgiven many sins before the church has found them out, and hence the church in some instances works too late. The rule is nevertheless good that when the church condemns sin God approves it, and when the church accepts a true penitent God sanctions it. In neither case does the church act before God does.
"Dr. P. H. Mell says on this subject: 'The Saviour promised the apostles to give them plenary inspiration. That he would see that they should make no mistake in any doctrines they announced, or in any gospel institution they might organize. That they should adopt (or bind) on earth what already had been decided upon in heaven, and reject (or loose) on earth what had already been rejected in heaven. This makes apostolic examples as binding on us as apostolic precepts.'
"Dr. J. M. Pendleton says on this subject that 'we are to understand 'bind' in the sense of forbid, and 'loose' in the sense of permit, and the meaning of the passage is that what a church does in accordance with the law of Christ is approved and ratified in heaven.'
"Dr. DeVotie says: 'It must be very clear to you that no one can be bound in heaven or on earth by a decision against Him contrary to the gospel.'
"Dr. Holmes says: 'It is said that the words 'bind' and 'loose' were frequently used by the Jews in the sense of enjoin and permit, as applied to the teaching of their rabbis, both practical and doctrinal. That may be the sense in which 'bind' and 'loose' are used here.'
"Matthew Henry says: 'Here is a warrant signed for the ratification of all the church's proceedings according to these rules. What was said before to Peter is here said to all the disciples, and in them to all the faithful office-bearers in the church, to the world's end.'
"We are to be very sure that our sentence is pronounced according to the gospel rule, or we are more censurable than those whom we attempt to censure. Or it would be true 'clave erranti'--the key turning the wrong way. The keys are as a two-edged sword, which cuts those who handle it if it is turned the wrong way.
"It must be very evident that the apostles did not have absolute power to 'bind' and 'loose' on earth, or there would be no need to 'bind' and 'loose' in heaven in ratification of what they did on earth. It must be clear from what has been said that their acts were not final, from the fact that they were to be reviewed by heaven and 'bound' and 'loosed' there before they were valid. The decisions of no court are final that are subject to review. The church is the highest court on earth, and therefore can be reviewed by no earthly tribunal. It must be apparent that the church is a branch of the government of heaven and is answerable alone to headquarters. It cannot be doubted that whatever the church endeavors to accomplish that is right God will see to it that she prevails. Right is immortal and will ultimately prevail.
"I have been inexpressibly pleased to see that the success of the prohibitionists has been unanimously charged up to the church. She 'bound' on earth, and it was 'bound' in heaven. In a certain city in Georgia, where the fight against whisky was hot, a Baptist minister got on the fence and the prohibition army failed. Though the frowns of every good citizen in that community rest upon him, and though ladies, white and colored, hiss at him as he passes through the streets, he can assuage his sorrow by drinking to their health of the best whisky in that town free of charge, and in the magnanimity of his drunken soul pass their vituperation by without a rejoinder for the next two years. Then shall the Babylonian garment and the golden wedge be dug up, and Achan and his family stoned by the army of the living God, and Israel shall go up in the strength of their God and take Ai without the loss of a man. Then shall the enemies of the cross know that there is a God in Israel who pleads the cause of his church and will utterly destroy all of her enemies and build up Zion on the ruins thereof. This can but show in either case the influence of the church. The church rocked in her cradle science, dandled on her knees civilization, and from her bosom came the noble God-like spirit of liberty that has pervaded this land. She revolutionized the world and she is determined to rule it. From her rostrum comes the law that has divinity in it, before which mountains melt to flames and the king of righteousness without a rival reigns. The warp of her flag is truth, the woof is righteousness, and upon it is spangled, with divine symmetry in gorgeous beauty, the stars of holiness, peace, mercy, temperance and virtue. Under its golden fringes the blood-washed army march, cognizant of the fact that upon the flag under which they march is inscribed in golden letters 'the kingdoms of this world for our God and his Christ.'
"It is not disputed that the church has always been and is destined to be successful in whatever she undertakes that tends to advance the kingdom of Christ and promote the truest interest of mankind. It is to be lamented that many churches have been used by wicked designing men and some have been frightened from the path of duty by the boastful howling of the wicked. Sometimes by those who happen to be in authority. Ministers have shrunk from duty for fear of unpopularity. This will never be endorsed by heaven. We should do what we know to be right with a conscience void of offense towards God and man. Offend all the world a thousand times rather than to offend God once. That popularity that God frowns upon is eternally dangerous. Let the church do her duty and God will see to it that she is defended, guarded, protected and led. Let humility, union and love characterize all of our acts and we have nothing to fear. The Lord our God shall fight for us and we shall hold our peace. Let the church 'bind' that no unrighteous man shall have rule over us, and it will be 'bound' in heaven. And when we shall finish our session of 'binding' and 'loosing' on earth, the church on earth shall go up to join the church of the first-born in heaven, where congregations never break up and Sabbaths have no end. There we shall spend a never-ending eternity in the glorious presence of the King. And with the redeemed and sanctified we shall praise Him who died for us and by His blood purchased our pardon. To Him, the head of the church, the shepherd and bishop of our souls, be all the glory, now and forever more. Amen."
These discourses show somewhat of the abilities of the man a sketch of whom I have attempted to write.
Rev. E. K. Love was honored with the degree of D. D. by the Selma (Ala.) University May 31st, 1888. The following is an editorial in the Baptist Leader, June the 7th, 1888:
REV. E. K. LOVE.
"The Board of Trustees and Faculty of Selma University conferred upon Rev. E. K. Love the degree of D. D. We know of no man more deserving the title than the one mentioned above. He is a scholar and a Christian gentleman of undisputed ability, and possesses the qualities that make up the true man. Alabamians will enjoy this information and hence address Rev. E. K. Love, D. D."
The notice of this honor came while the convention was in session in Mr. Love's church and the brethren spoke in the highest terms of the Doctor and praised the University for this deserved honor.
At the session of the Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, May, 1888, Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., was unanimously elected Vice-President of said convention.
He has the entire confidence of the brethren throughout the State. He is friendly, sociable and loving, and to know him, is but to love him.
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