TEMPERANCE REFORM AND THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
Our temperance and Sunday school work accomplish a great reform. We give the following testimonies from New Orleans pastors in 1879:
I will never recognize a minister who uses intoxicating liquor, or who has it on his breath. It is a sin before God to send children to the grocery on Sunday or any other day, for brandy, wine, or any kind of liquor. Don't touch it or you'll never prosper.
About Sabbath schools I wish to say:
Whereas, the Sabbath school is the best of all schools, and is taught on the best of all days, and the Bible is the best of all books?teaching us of heaven, the best of all homes, through the name of Jesus, the best of all friends;
Resolved, that our pastors and deacons shall start and keep alive during the whole year, a Sabbath school in every church.
REV. THOMAS PETERSON,
President of Freedman's Baptist Association.
I used tobacco all my life till just one year ago. I quit chewing and I am trying to quit smoking, and God will help me, and I advise every one to quit it. I always was a temperance man in one sense, but since I signed the pledge I find I am much better without wine and beer also. Then it saves money. Two years ago I first brought the temperance pledge into my church, and I thank God for it. It stops fighting. It gives more money for the care of their children and to get their clothes and books.
At our meeting last night one of my deacons gave the following testimony: I used to spend fifty cents each day for liquor, but now I have stopped drinking, and saved $182.50 this year. The Sabbath school has saved many of my little children who are now members of the church.
REV. CHARLES WILLIAMS,
Pastor Amozion Baptist Church.
It is five years since Sister Moore brought the temperance pledge into my church, and it has been a blessing ever since. Three of my members came to me months after they had signed the pledge and each said: "I have saved by not drinking, from $2.50 to $3.00 per week, and these men were only moderate drinkers. I never knew them to be drunk, but they would take two or three drams or more every day, and often spend fifty cents in treating others, and so squander nearly all the money they earned, and their families had to suffer. $2.50 a week is $10.00 per month?too much to spend for whisky. Now these men have better health and when they come to church they do not look drowsy as they used to, but are wide awake, and hear what I say. The same can be said of many others. Temperance makes them better in body, mind, and soul.
REV. GEORGE W. WALKER,
Pastor of the Austerliz Baptist Church.
In this church they passed the following resolution: "Resolved, that as a church we will do our marketing and cooking for the Sabbath on Saturday." I copy from the same preacher the following: "The Sabbath school has been a great blessing to my church. Since the members have begun to read and study the Bible, I do not have much trouble with discipline. It has also been the means, through God, during the last three years, of the conversion of more than one hundred of my young people. I have a large class of older members that I am teaching, and it has been a great help to myself and them."
TEACHABLENESS OF PASTORS.
The Sabbath school workers and sisters were very teachable and anxious to learn in those early days, and it was very surprising and encouraging to me that even the pastors received my advice in a humble, patient spirit, and did improve. I give you a part of a paper which was kindly received at one association in 1884, as a sample:
Dear Brethren of the Association:?I am especially interested in your association, having visited and revisited, many times, nearly every church in the association, taught your children, and sat in your homes to preach my little gospel fireside sermon, with the Bible in our hands. You have a very warm place in my heart, and you can never know with what prayerful interest I have followed you in the past years. No mother ever watched her children with greater anxiety than I have watched you. I find much to commend and much to make me sorry.
Pardon me if I tell you some of your faults. The Bible says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." (Prov., 27:6.) Surely my ten years of labor in Louisiana has proven that I am your friend. If I know my own heart I can say with Paul (1 Thess., 2:7, 8) "But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children; even so being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us."
Yes, you are dear to me; I do so long to see you all rise and take the place God has for you. I do not forget that there are among you brave, good men who are striving amid discouragements to lead their flocks unto the paths of righteousness, and what I say will help them.
There are some evils that must be corrected: First, you close not only your Sunday schools, but many of your churches, during the rainy, cold weather, and during sugar-making. There may be a very few of the most faithful who meet occasionally, but you act as if your church covenant read as follows: "We will not neglect public worship and the assembling of ourselves together for six or eight months in the year, but during the muddy weather and busy time it takes all our strength to do our own work, and we have no time left for the Lord's service." That is what you say in actions; and meanwhile Satan is busy and has about pulled down the work you built the other six months of the year. Brethren, am I not telling the truth? Is this putting God and His work first? Is it "seeking first the kingdom of God"? You must answer this question at the judgment. Better answer it now.
Second, your pastors and deacons neglect the children and young people; only one here and there can we get into the Sunday school. I have been at churches in your association when in the Sunday school thirty or forty children were taught by an unconverted man, because there was no Christian present, but when the hour for preaching arrived I found three or four preachers all anxious to get into the pulpit to talk to a smaller number of old people than there were children in Sunday school. This you cannot deny. O, when I think how the children and young people are neglected, I cannot keep the tears back. If this evil is not remedied soon the coming generation will be lost to the cause of Christ.
Third, your pastors and delegates spend too much time in foolish gossip and talking and jesting, even when you come to the associations. Perhaps at this very hour some of your number are out at the church door or on the street corner doing just what I have said. I have often listened to the talk of some of your pastors and delegates during the hours of recess, and I have been ashamed of them. The conversation was not according to your high calling in Christ Jesus.
Fourth, you neglect the study of God's word. Perhaps this is the foundation of all the other evils. The Bible is a "lamp to your feet," but if you do not use the lamp, of course you walk in darkness. Dear brethren, the same God said, "Search the Scriptures" that said, "Believe and be baptized." Why obey one and neglect the other? Perhaps there is not one pastor or delegate in your association that has brought his Bible with him. Is there? You may have a hymn-book or church manual, but no Bible. "Search" does not mean to read a chapter once a week, or even once a day. It means solid study of God's Word, expecting the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. The Bible contains the only message God gave you for the people. But how can you tell it if you do not know it?
NEW PLANS OF CHRISTIAN
In many places in Louisiana we kept up our Sabbath schools and church services during the cold weather by meeting in private houses.
I find in my journal, January 11, 1886, the following record:
"I left Baton Rouge January 1st. I started December 31st, but lost my hand satchel, in which was a thousand-mile ticket on this road, and a little more than $25 in money, besides other valuables, making the entire loss more than $50. I had to go back and get some money. I laid down the satchel as I got on the train to arrange my other things, and on looking around the satchel was gone. Well, at first this troubled me a little, because I felt that perhaps God did not want me to go away from home this cold weather, but then it was made plain to me that I should go. I do think I have trusted God more this trip than any I have taken for one year. I did not have much money, I was cold most of the time, and was so weak that it seemed as if God carried me in his arms from place to place.
"You say He might have kept me warm. Yes, but I would rather have had his near presence than the warmth; besides, if I had been warm and others around me cold, I could not have pitied them.
"I spent much of the time visiting from house to house. It was so very cold that the people could do nothing but sit around the fire. Men and women, and often two or three families, would be in one house engaged in idle gossip, for but few of the poor people can read. I got out my Bible and we had a good time reading the word. Often there were no glass windows in the houses, and the light and cold both came in through the cracks, or we would open the wooden shutters. Can you not see how we looked, taking turns around the fire-place to keep from freezing?
"Came to Delhi, the 11th. Found that the S. S. had been closed for two months; no fire could be made in the church. We had several meetings in private houses. At the close of one of the meetings, as my custom is, I asked different ones to tell me what they had learned. The pastor said, 'I have learned that you can have as good a meeting in a private house as in a church house.' I answered, private houses are all the kind of Christian church houses we read of in the New Testament. They planned to open the S. S. in a private house next Sabbath. We talked about the Lydia of Acts xvi, and found another woman of like mind in Delhi. Some months after I had the pleasure of again visiting Delhi in company with dear Mary Burdette. She was present at one of our Bible readings in a private home and lodged with me in that home one night. I need not tell you what a comfort and inspiration she was to us all, because her presence always brings hope and strength. Praise God for Miss Burdette!
"I had sent word to a pastor five miles distant from Delhi to come for me; he came because he had some other business in town, and to tell me there was no use in my going out this cold weather; ponds and lakes frozen over, no fire in the church, people could not get together for a meeting, besides I would freeze, etc. But I would and did go with him, and I did not freeze. His wife had a nice supper; after eating that we walked a mile to another pastor's house. We had a large meeting, about forty persons present. I taught them about Gideon's army, adding that the cold weather was testing their Christian army. All seemed intensely interested, never had a more attentive audience. One man said at the close, that he was nearly frozen where he was sitting, but he would not move for fear he would miss a word. This pastor has a large family, so after the others had gone home, we had another Bible lesson and prayer, did not retire until after 12 o'clock.
The next morning before breakfast some of the neighbors came in and we had another meeting. Then pastor No. 1, who had brought me out to Delhi, came for me, and we had a large meeting at his home, from 10:30 till 1:30. Then I rested an hour, and we had dinner, after which the father and five children read a chapter in the Bible. The father promised to read a chapter every day with his family, and thus set up his family altar. As he said goodby, he added, 'Sister Moore, I was wrong in saying there was no use in your coming out to my house, it has done me good.' There were tears in his voice, and an earnestness in his manner which made me feel he would be more faithful in the future. He is a good man, and so is the pastor in Delhi, but they need help and encouragement. I wish more workers would come and go to work. The Lord will provide them bread and water; it is sure. One little girl gave me 5 cents, and one 10 cents, and one mother 25 cents, just because they wanted to show their love. I said nothing about money. This money, with 10 cents a little ten-year-old boy sent me in a letter, I sent to our society. The Women's Society, in the church whose house of worship was burned, gave me $2.00, which I also sent.
If my readers could have been present in those meetings, crowded into little homes, with only our Bible to interest us, they could not feel that a church house was so absolutely necessary. There was a freedom, a gladness in those meetings, a warmth of love that showed us the advantage of this New Testament plan of worship. It is impossible for the pastors of large churches to study the ability of each of his members so as to intelligently set them all at work, hence we have so many "dead heads."
The plan of reading to the people in their homes, that I found so convenient in the country, I find is equally necessary in the city in order to reach the masses. The following has been my plan of visiting. It is true that the poor people are tired on Sunday and do not rise early, therefore the children are late to school. The mother goes to some white man's house to cook a sumptuous dinner, while the owner of the house, it may be, is at church. They must think the fourth commandment reads, "No one but the man servant and the maid servant must work on the Sabbath." The coachman sits outside of the church to care for the carriage and horses. But I started to tell you my plan for reaching the non-church goers. Frequently I take my Bible at about 7 a. m., and begin calling at the houses. If it is summer the children are on the door steps or in the yard. I know by their dress that they are not going to Sunday school. Some are coming from the grocery, perhaps with some delicacy, if they can afford it, for the Sunday dinner. But all are willing to stop everything for at least ten minutes, to hear me read and pray. The Sunday newspaper finds its way into the hands of the parents. If they care to read they do not usually select the part that leads heavenward. In fact that part is hard to find, and yet I see Christians reading it even on their way to church.
I leave with the family visited a good paper. Often I find several neighbors in one house. In another home I gather the children into one corner of the house or alley and teach them for longer than they give the teachers for their classes in the Sunday school. So on I go until about noon or later, if my voice holds out. After dinner I repeat the same experience and have reached ten times as many people as the man in the pulpit, and all my time has been given to religious instruction and no part of it spent in taking collections. Miss Button was very successful in holding alley meetings with the children.
Sometimes I go out to gather in Sunday school scholars, but by the time I get them dressed then we are too late. It is best to go Saturday and see them and see that all things are ready. Our little Sunday schools in the homes are doing a blessed work for those whose parents do not take them to Sunday school and church. Children sent out alone on Sunday are in more danger than on week days, because boys who work week days are standing on the corners with younger children who cannot dress enough to attend church. I have often taught a class for ten minutes on a street corner. Friends, let me tell you, Satan has a thousand agencies at work in our cities every Sabbath, some of which reach almost every home, while the church has but few. I am so glad "Jesus went about doing good." I believe in the assembling to exhort one another. If our churches were limited to fifty members each, all might more easily be set at work, and all would know better how to comfort and exhort, because they would learn each others needs. Pastors would be able to visit each family at least once every week. (Twelve families should furnish fifty members.) He would thus know not only their spiritual condition but their especial talent and so be able to set each at his appropriate work. These fifty well fed would support the pastor better than five hundred half-starved Christians who usually live on one meal a week. The pastor's work is "to feed the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made him overseer." Acts 20:28. How can he see that this is done daily with five hundred, and at the same time suit the food to the weak, the strong, the sick, to all classes, unless he knows their condition. You say it is not my place to tell the pastor his duty. Well, we missionaries are sent out to feed those that he has neglected, but the task is too great for us. Therefore we report that the head steward is not feeding the flock daily. Our Fireside School has come to help carry the provision to their homes. Will the pastor accept it? Come, let us reason together. A church with half its members in the hospital unable for service, all because they have not fed daily on the Bible and prayer, is a sad sight.
The Reformed Reader Home Page
Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved