FACING THE TRUTH"GO FEEL WHAT I HAVE FELT"
North Caroliniana Collection B.W.C Roberts
I have written. You may read. My story deals with a living, growing question. Iola Graham, the heroine, patiently and persistently seeks the Truth, walking through the terrible fires of persecution unmindful of her own sufferings.
I trust it may entertain and instruct you to follow her as she bravely meets error, and with true womanly courage fights her own battles to victory. The whole narrative is a combination of fact, fiction and romance. Truth sits on the throne with fact as his scepter, while fiction and romance ornament his surroundings, inviting you to tarry, gathering flowers, till his work is done and you are his captive.
Do not call my story a fiction. It is founded on facts—facts which, though in constant conflict with error, cannot be forced into silence. It is not claimed that every incident, here recorded, is presented just as it transpired, nor is it claimed that it is all fact. A portion of it is fiction, but, as another
has said, “It is to real life what the printed letter is to the type from which it was printed—true to the copy.”
If persons from whose lives and history these characters and incidents have been drawn shall recognize themselves as the prototype in this story, I beg to assure them that love for such as are, or may be, in like perils, has prompted me to use them for so noble a purpose as the good of others. The thrilling, heart-reaching scenes of my story, it is hoped, may awaken attention and show the way of escape from evils now so prevalent in thousands of homes. If I may thus prompt the suffering, persecuted man or woman to apply the balm of relief, before it is too late, my work will be accomplished, and, as in the parting words of the heroine, I shall truly exclaim, “Iphedeiah”!
J. P. B.
Raleigh, N. C., April, 1886.
FACING THE TRUTH.Chapter I.
THE day was dark and the smoke from the field of battle floating upon the air added to the gloom. The campaign of 1864 had been fearfully destructive to both life and property in Virginia. In no section was the damage greater than between City Point and Richmond, on the James.
The home of Gen. Pickett, the Virginia hero of Gettysburg, with many others, was burned. Among the few of the magnificent residences spared from the flames was the noted old homestead of “Shirley,” commanding a fine view of the river. It was built of brick, it is believed, in 1642, and is yet in a fine state of preservation and is surrounded by fertile fields and lovely gardens. It is specially noted as the birthplace of Annie Carter, wife of Light Horse Harry Lee, a soldier of Revolutionary fame. She
was the mother of Gen. R. E. Lee, the hero of the Confederacy.
Here was the battle ground in some of the hardest fights of the war between the States. It was from this point that General McClellan took refuge under cover of his gun-boats after the never-to-be-forgotten Seven Days’ Battle around Richmond. Here, too, Gen. McClellan met and repulsed Gen. Magruder at Malvern Hill, besides many others, making this section of the Old Dominion a field of blood.
The Union Army in its famous march on to Richmond, under the command of that chieftain of chieftains, Gen. Grant, was pressing hard upon the Confederates. The turbid waters of the historic James were streaked with blood from adjoining hillsides, where Carnage waved her red scepter mercilessly to the death of thousands.
On the hills adjoining Bermuda Hundreds many a poor soldier had fallen, some dead, others to die, and a few to recover, among whom was George Graham, of Co.—, in the — regiment, under Col. S—, all of North Carolina. The cannons’ roar had ceased, only occasional rifle shots from the
“The turbid waters of the historic James were streaked with blood from adjoining hillsides.”
famous “bushwhacker” were heard. In crossing a field George Graham was struck by a ball from their guns which crushed the kneepan and fractured the main bone of the left leg, leaving him in a pitiable condition. He was alone, and the shock, together with the rapid loss of blood, rendered him helpless. For the first time in life he felt that he was wading the waters of the dark river. He imagined he felt the touch of Death's icy fingers upon his brow. His mind was clear and he rapidly reviewed his life, which, as a Christian, had not been satisfactory, but his hope was in Christ. The pain brought from the thought of death, on the battle-field—away from home, from his mother, added to the gloom of this trying moment. Then a piteous plea went up to God in his own behalf. He cried: “O Father, send some ministering angel to my rescue—let me not die here on this lonely field; let some hand of mercy minister to me in this terrible suffering.”
Almost as if the echo to his own prayer he thought he heard the fall of footsteps near him. He listened—how anxiously! “Oh,” said he, “that must be the footstep
of a friendly comer, who will help a dying man. If mother were only here to bless my last moments, I could more willingly give up the struggle and die in peace! But I hear footsteps, they seem near me,” said he, and turning his head, just to his right he saw a bright, but half-frightened young woman, having been drawn out of her way by the piteous moans she heard in passing. She was a brave girl, or she would never have gone alone so near a dying soldier—Heaven bless her! Her first impulse after seeing the situation was to flee, if possible, unobserved. This her noble heart could not consent to do, and drawing nearer she bravely asked:
“Can I help you?”
“Water, please,” lisped the parched tongue through the pale, trembling lips.
Remembering a spring near by, Addie Trueheart, for that was her name, took the dying man's canteen, and in haste brought the cool water to refresh the exhausted soldier. He drank freely, and taking what was left, she bathed the bleeding wound. Looking her full in the face, with a trembling voice he said:
“You are an angel of mercy, sent to me. Thank you, and may God reward you, dear, brave little woman.”
“May I not do more for you?” she kindly asked. “Thank you, good friend; I know of nothing more, only when you go home and after I am dead, please write to my mother and tell her, as tenderly as you can, of my death in this lonely field. Tell her that I died for my country and that my last moments were blessed by the visit of an angel of mercy—I mean yourself. Tell her your name and what you did to make me comfortable in my dying hour, that I hope to meet her in that “Better Land” where no cruel war slays men in this barbarous manner.” Then in a moment's silence, as if contemplating Heaven, he feebly whispered, “Oh, blessed, peaceful home of rest.” Again looking into the face of the brave little woman, he said, “Before you leave me, please tell me your name—I shall wish to meet you and know you in Heaven.”
“Addie Trueheart is my name,” she modestly answered.
“Thank you,” responded the trembling lips.
“But,” said Addie, “I would not think of leaving you here to die alone. My father is a surgeon and we live just over the hill. I will go and have you taken to our home, where good attention may yet save your life.”
“Oh, thank you!—I do thank you—I am so thirsty; more water, please.”
The water was given, and as she turned to go, she said, as if to cheer the man,
“There is hope—let that be the star upon which to rest your eyes till help comes. May angels watch over you,” and the noble hearted Addie went to her home for help.Chapter II.
REACHING home, Addie told what she had seen and begged that help be sent at once—that the soldier be taken to her father's. To this no objection was urged, for one could not well withstand the earnest and pitiful plea of Addie Trueheart; though her father had some misgivings as to the propriety of the step, yet her tender appeal prevailed.
A stretcher was improvised, and Dr. Trueheart, with four strong colored laborers from the farm, with Addie directing the way, was soon in the presence of the wounded man. His removal to the Doctor's home was quickly accomplished, and his wounds dressed. During the days following, while the sufferer was in their home, with a characteristic kindness Addie sought to make him cheerful and happy; and by much faithful nursing she hastened the day of his recovery.
After the first attention to the wounds, upon entering the room Addie observed a decided change—a bright, fresh look on his face, and she greeted him with:
“I hope you are feeling better, Mr. Graham.”
“Oh, very much better—it is one of the richest provisions of God's mercy that he keeps some angels on earth, in bodily form, else this night I must have died on that lonely hillside, with no eye of pity to look into my face save the twinkling stars of the sky. I can never thank him and you enough for this timely deliverance; but your reward is sure—God will bless you.”
“We have only done our duty, and you must not give us the praise—it is all due to our Heavenly Father. It was so dreadful to think of dying on that lonely field; I am glad that we could be of timely service to you. But now, father says, you are doing well, and may soon recover. After all, I may not have to write that sad letter to your mother.”
“That is encouraging, indeed; but how unfortunate that I should be a trouble to you and the family, even for the shortest time in which I can hope to regain my strength and the use of my disabled limb.”
“Indeed, we would not have you think of that—it will be a pleasure to do all we can for you,” said Addie.
“This is May 16, 1864—a day I shall not soon forget,” he said. And there was good reason why he should not forget it.
During the weeks following, Mr. Graham was a great sufferer—some days he was cheerful and hopeful, on others he was depressed and weaker. By July he was rapidly improving, and in August, having been honorably discharged from the army, he surprised all by announcing his purpose to
leave for his Carolina home in a few days. This called forth many expressions of regret from every member of the family, so pleasant and companionable had he been during his stay in their home. All, from the youngest to the oldest, had become warm friends to George Graham. He had shown that he was not only a cultivated gentleman, but warm-hearted and true.
August 18, he was to start for his home. As that day drew near, he spent more of his time with the family, till the evening of the last day of his stay. During all the days of his suffering Addie Trueheart had been a ministering angel to him, and a sort of impulse seemed to suggest that the afternoon of his last day should be given to her.
The beautiful lawn, the lovely shade trees, and the rustic seats were inviting, and here together they spent the precious time of that afternoon. The time was sacred, and he appropriately used it to make known to her his appreciation of the invaluable service she had rendered to him in having saved him from a dreadful and an untimely death. She observed his eyes intently fixed on herself. At length he said:
“The thought of leaving you and the family, after the events and experiences of the past few months, fills my heart with strange but sweet emotions. The thought that you saved my life strikes the very depths of my soul's gratitude. It overwhelms me and paralyzes my power of expression, till I am speechless. Before you can really appreciate my feelings, you must realize that another has saved your life from the perils of death on the field of blood. I look upon you as a guardian angel sent by the goodness of Heaven to rescue one so unworthy as myself from the very jaws of death.”
“But, Mr. Graham, I would not have you feel indebted to us—we have only done our duty in caring for you.”
“Indeed, it is a real pleasure to feel that I am under obligations to you for service so disinterested and so kind. As to your parents, I am their servant; and as for your own noble self, I can only say, All that I have, all that I am, or may be, and if at any time my life can be given for your happiness, yours is the privilege to command, and I will obey.”
“I have done nothing to merit such an offering at your hands, but as a token of your gratitude, I appreciate it. Let me assure you again that it has been a privilege to us, and my chief wish is that God may help you to do good to others for his goodness towards you.”Chapter III.
MAY I ask a favor of you, Miss Trueheart?”
“Pardon the seeming presumption, but I wish your photograph to carry to my mother, that she may at least see the image of the brave little woman who saved my life when I supposed I was already wading the chilly waters of death. Besides, I wish it for myself.”
“Under the circumstances, and for the purpose first named, I cannot refuse you”—and handing him a half dozen, she said, “make your own selection.”
“Many thanks! Again,” said he, “you make me your servant. I will guard that photograph to the latest day of my life. It will ever call to mind days never to be forgotten.”
The beautiful “sunset's radiant glow” was just then painting the western sky in matchless beauty, throwing athwart the heavens streams of golden light. Under the enchantment of such a picture these two devoted friends wended their way in the silence of admiration to the mansion.
“When I am gone,” said Mr. Graham, “I hope your thoughts of me may not be confined to the trouble I must have been to you and the family.”
“With your stay in our home will be associated many very pleasant recollections, I assure you.”
Before a reply could be made to this very kind remark they had entered the family circle, where they joined in conversation with others.
The next morning he left for North Carolina.
The carriage being ready, he bade them farewell quickly, and, as he pressed the hand
of Addie, tears moistened his eyes and his lips quivered. He was evidently praying for a blessing upon the woman who had saved his life. And—then he was gone. His absence was a vacancy indeed. “He often spoke of others as angels,” said Addie, “but in truth I feel more as if one had gone out from us.”
On August 22d. George Graham reached his mother's home and was welcomed as only a mother can welcome a wounded boy, returning from the gory field.
After the excitement of getting home was over, he drew from his pocket a photograph and passed it to his mother, saying in a half anxious way: “Give me your opinion of that face, mother.”
“Why,” said Mrs. Graham, “that is a good face,” and she made no mistake, for Addie Trueheart was not only beautiful and brave, but good as well. “I judge,” said his mother, “this must be the intended of your heart.”
“No, mother; at least nothing has been said as to that, but it is the picture
“Give me your opinion of that face, mother.”
of the lady who saved me as I lay bleeding to death on the hills near Bermuda Hundreds, in Virginia.”
“Indeed, is this the lady of whom you so often wrote as your ‘ministering angel?’ ”
“Yes, mother—a noble soul she is, too.”
“Her features indicate a warm and generous heart,” said Mrs. Graham, as she gazed steadily at the picture she held in her hand. Almost unconsciously she had fallen in love with her son's deliverer, and well she might, for without her assistance, George Graham would have died from exhaustion and loss of blood.
Weeks passed by till the close of the year. To George Graham it had been the most eventful year of his life. It had not only been a period of sufferings, but of blessings as well, for, to use his own words, an “angel of mercy had been sent, in the person of Addie Trueheart, to save his life.”
The New Year came in with as flattering prospects surrounding Mr. Graham as could be expected in time of war, and yet he was not himself—he was restless, dissatisfied and sometimes a little melancholy. His friends, even his mother, could not account
for his strange actions. He alone understood the situation. The real cause was hid in the deepest recesses of his heart. Since he left Dr. Trueheart's, there had been an aching void in his bosom which only Addie Trueheart could fill. But how to reach this balm for his wounded heart was the question hard to answer. She was more than a hundred miles away, the war was still raging, the post routes were broken or intercepted by the invading army. A visit in person was not only a hazardous undertaking, but well nigh an impossibility. Thus forced day by day to move on in life without a word, or the prospect of one, from the object of his affections, he naturally showed the spirit of discontent.
Such was his life till August, 1865. The cruel war was ended, the post routes were re-established and George Graham determined to wait no longer—he must by some means reach Addie's ear and heart, too, if possible. With this purpose in view, he addressed to her the following very modest, yet tender letter:
Wynan's Falls, N. C., Aug. 25, 1865.
My Dear Friend:
More than a year ago I left your pleasant home, after the most hospitable entertainment through months of suffering. During those days of darkness your tender kindness threw sunshine into my own desolate life. Indeed, I felt then, and now feel, that your presence is necessary to my happiness. Since the day I left your home, I have realized almost a constant, and, often, a painful sense of your absence. Though I left without asking permission to continue our acquaintance, I venture to write, believing that she who once delivered me from death, could hardly turn a deaf ear to a request to perpetuate the friendship begun under those distressing circumstances. I beg at your hands a regular correspondence. It will afford some satisfaction in your absence. I shall anxiously await your answer. May its message come with good cheer for me. With the highest regards for yourself and the family, I beg to remain,
Your true friend,
George Graham.Chapter IV.
TWO weeks have gone since the posting of that letter, but no answer has come. This day he asked for his mail in hope of an answer, but his hopes were blighted—the letter, if there be one, had not come, and George returned to his home disappointed. He was too much of a man to make in his own mind any unpleasant explanation of her continued silence, and bravely nerved himself to wait with patience for whatever fortune might have in store for him.
When he next called at the post office several letters were handed to him. He quickly glanced over each and saw one directed in a beautiful handwriting, bearing as its post mark “Chester, Va.” George knew full well what that meant. He quickly retired to a private room and alone with a nervous hand opened the letter and read as follows:
At-Home-on-the-James, Va., Sept. 13, 1865.
Mr. George Graham, Wynan's Falls, N. C.
Yours, asking permission to renew our war acquaintance by correspondence, came Sept. 6. It was a surprise, for I did not suppose I should ever have the privilege of hearing from you again. If I can add anything to your pleasure by such a correspondence, I will count it a privilege. When I think of what you have suffered in defending your country. I should feel myself unworthy of the name of woman were I to withhold from your entertainment a mite so small as an occasional letter from my pen.
Your letter awakens many sad and pleasant memories of your stay in our home during a portion of the war; sad, because of your suffering, and pleasant, because of the very agreeable associations enjoyed, which linger yet as a glad refrain in the memory of those days. I am glad to know of your good
health—that Heaven's blessings rest upon you.
I shall be glad to hear from you at your convenience.
Your friend, Addie Trueheart.
Had you been looking into George Graham's face, as he read that letter, you could never have doubted the sincerity of his devotion to its author. He read it a second time and it pleased him more than at first. Upon reaching his home he gave it a third reading.
At tea his mother remarked that something had pleased George unusually, as his face was all aglow with smiles. To this he made some passing remark, as if she were mistaken, at the same time, however, he felt the warmth of the blush of true love playing upon his cheek. He knew that his mother's remark was well founded—it was an outward expression of the heart's joy in hearing from Addie Trueheart, of whom he often delighted to speak as his “saving angel.”
Through the night his sleep was blessed with delightful dreams. In the morning, going out to look after his business matters,
he found himself in a very pleasant mood, and he really thought it the brightest morning he had ever seen. it was not very clear to his own mind just why he felt as he did. The secret of it all is, “the world is full of beauty when the heart is full of love.”“There is beauty in the forestWhen the trees are green and fair;There is beauty in the meadows,When wild flowers scent the air—There is beauty in the sunlight,And the soft blue beams above—Oh! the world is full of beautyWhen the heart is full of love.”
That explains it all—Addie Trueheart lives, perhaps for him; that's the truth of it.
It was only the next day that he availed himself of an opportunity to answer that letter, as the following will show:
Wynan's Falls, N. C., Sept. 20, 1865.
My Dear Friend:
Your very modest letter came to hand yesterday. It was as an oasis in a weary land. To know that Addie Trueheart lives changes the hopes of this life to me; and more, to know that she cherishes kind recollections of me, is a joy known only to myself.
Time and again it was my wish and purpose to write, but mail facilities were very poor, and I doubted that it would meet your approval. At length, I could wait no longer. I am glad to know that my first letter met a welcome.
I can never cease to feel how fully I owe my life to your noble efforts—your kind attention, and through you to the surgical skill of your father. Truly, I owe you a debt of gratitude for saving my life which money can never pay.
So much as you may wish of my life, of my love, of my all, shall be yours. Excuse my plain language, it is characteristic of a sincere heart. If this statement displease you, I ask now, in advance, for pardon on the ground that you cannot appreciate the emotions of my heart when I think of your services to me in a moment of peril. To day I am a well man, and it is mainly due to your heroic goodness and service in my behalf. If I cannot repay you, God will, for he rewards even a cup of cold water given in his name.
Awaiting the pleasure of an early answer, I am your grateful friend, George Graham.
THIS letter changed the situation. She had not dreamed of George Graham in the role of a lover, and she was not sure now even that he meant to be such, though his letter really indicated as much. She determined to answer him without in any way recognizing him as a lover.
Her answer reads: At-Home-on-the-James, Va., Oct. 1, 1865.
My Dear Friend:
I feel complimented by the respect you gave my letter, even though your appreciation may have been governed more by circumstances than by the merit of the letter itself. No doubt its sincerity and simplicity called forth your good words in reply.
Permit me once more to remind you that you owe nothing to myself, or our family, for the little service we rendered you as a wounded soldier. To know that we did our duty in serving you in a time of need is ample reward. So let it pass, to live only as
a green spot in memory, if you wish. If we did a disciple's portion, in due time we shall reap a disciple's reward—that will be enough.
You have not mentioned your mother or sister; I hope they are well. I know they must be happy to have you restored to them. We can the more readily imagine the pleasure you are to them since we so well remember the happiness you added to our family while with us. I have often wished, though in vain I fear, that I had the precious gifts which render one's company so desirable. To be sure, one may cultivate the noble impulses of heart and mind till we reach, in part, this standard, so to speak. And this will I try to do.
I am always glad to hear from you. Your friend, Addie Trueheart.
This letter gave rare pleasure to Mr. Graham, and yet he felt that something was left out — unsaid. Certainly, it was friendly enough, but mere friendship was not the point at stake. Secretly he had loved Addie Trueheart from the day he was wounded on the field of battle, when he saw the half frightened little woman approach him. She
gave the cup of cold water and captured his heart, and to this day every beat of that heart has sent a thrill through his hopes of future bliss. From that moment she held the key to his life. Now he feels that silence is a burden, which he must remove by making known to her the deepest and purest emotions of his being, if perchance he may win her affections as the chief blessing of the life she with rare womanly bravery had saved.
Moved by the irresistible impulse of love, he determined to make the matter as short as possible, and in his next letter he wrote thus:
Wynan's Falls, N. C., Oct. 7, 1865.
My Dearest Friend:
Your very welcome letter came in due time. The good news from my old war friends delights me. But, (shall I confess it?) I am so restless and yet helpless. The affections of my heart, like the inflowing tide, are sweeping over the boundary lines, till one bosom cannot contain all the love of my heart—will you share with me? I have a secret for your ears, and yours alone. I do
not wish to commit it to paper—may I visit you at your home and “face to face” tell you of the burden of my heart?
I will not take advantage of your sweet sincerity; I will give you an idea of the character of my secret. Since the day you saved my life on the battle-field of Virginia, though unconscious of the fact, you have held the key to my heart and my love. My chief wish now is that you will consent to bless with yours the life you so bravely saved.
With deepest solicitude I await your pleasure. If you grant my request, kindly suggest a suitable time for the contemplated visit.
Your devoted friend, George Graham.
“Well,” said Addie Trueheart, “the question is settled—George Graham is in love.” She with a woman's intuition had known it from his letters, and, to own the truth, she had feared that her own heart was also a captive. Not till now, however, had she seriously regarded it as the coming question for her consideration.
Her heart was touched. “Shall I,” said she, “grant him permission to visit me?”
As she thus faced this question, a reality, she sincerely asked herself, “Can I, do I, love George Graham?” She knew she highly esteemed him, but—well, she was not sure of the rest. She hesitated to say, Come. Days and nights passed—she could not decide. Finally, she wrote, and this is the letter:
At-Home-on-the-James, Va., Oct. 25, 1865.
Your letters have given me much real pleasure, but your last bewilders me. To answer you is to assume a great responsibility. If for no other reason than past associations, I am compelled to say I would be glad to have a visit from you. But to have you come to give me a secret of such magnitude as that indicated in your last letter, is a matter you will, I hope, allow me to decide later—perhaps when you come. Pay us the visit for the visit's sake, and you shall have a hearty welcome. As to the time of the visit, you may choose for yourself. Our carriage will meet you at Chester any day you may name. With best wishes,
Your friend, Addie Trueheart.Chapter VI.
THAT letter is good, yet it lacks much of satisfaction,” said George earnestly to himself, but he determined to hasten the visit, and wrote a short note saying he would reach Chester, Nov. 7. At one o'clock on the day named, the carriage returned with Mr. George Graham as the only visitor. Dr. Trueheart met him at the door and gave him a warm greeting. It was the more hearty because of the old friendship formed during the war. The Doctor led the way to the parlor. After a short but interesting conversation, he excused himself, and passing out, informed Addie of the presence of Mr. Graham, with a request that she would entertain him during his absence. He had no idea of the possibilities of the visit.
Addie's mind flashed with thought, while her face, as an index to the heart, showed the evidence of hidden emotions. Having become partially self-possessed, she entered the parlor and met Mr. Graham. After a
pleasant salutation, conversation on various subjects was kept up till dinner was announced. It was a lovely autumn day, and late in the afternoon Mr. Graham proposed a walk, to which Addie consented. The western sky was a glowing picture of sunset beauty.
The walk led down by the spring, nearing which, silence got the mastery of the two young hearts, in which a thousand thoughts revolved, or rather one thought revolved a thousand times. At length, Miss Trueheart broke the silence, with:
“Do you remember this field?”
“Indeed, I do. I was just thinking of the day when you found me, as I thought, dying. I think the very spot is just ahead of us.”
“Yes, it is. I judge that is a never-to-be-forgotten day in your history,” said Addie.
“It is, truly; and it is made the more so by the fact that on that day you took the key that unlocks the door to my heart, and it is yet in your possession.”
Addie watched the ground closely, but said nothing. Mr. Graham, continuing, said:
“I told you in a recent letter that I had a
secret for you, and you alone. Are you willing to receive it?”
“Mr. Graham, you can tell me the secret, if you wish, and my ear alone shall hear it, even though I should be unable to treasure it as you wish. Of this you may be sure, your confidence is appreciated, and will not be abused.”
The walk continuing, George was looking her full in the face, and his eyes bespoke great earnestness as he said, “I love you as no tongue can tell or pen portray, and that is my secret.
“Say, my dearest friend, will you just here”—and they stopped, standing on the very spot where two years ago Addie had found him sinking into the arms of death—“will you now, just here, consent to link your future with mine, and so add a crowning blessing to the life you saved?”
As she stood upon the soil once stained by the blood of her present suitor, the supreme moment came, and, looking up into George Graham's face, its manly sincerity gained the mastery over her heart, and she modestly said:
“Be it as you wish.”
And as they sealed the vow, Mr. Graham said:
“May God help me till my latest sun is sinking low to defend her who now consents to link her pure life with mine, that I may be blessed. All that I am, all that I may be in this life, shall be yours.”
A moment of sweet silence followed the vows of plighted love, and, wending their way slowly homeward, Mr. Graham modestly said:
“May I seek the consent of your parents to our marriage, and arrange my affairs looking to the early celebration of our nuptials?”
“To the first part of your request I do not seriously object, but I hope you will not insist on an early day for our marriage.”
“Why would you delay the day which, of all others, would bring me so much happiness?”
“I know of no special reason,” she said, “only to name the day seems to bring the fearful responsibility so near me. But speak to my parents, and then we will consider the matter further.”
Early the following day, Mr. Graham
sought and obtained the consent of Dr. Trueheart and his wife to the marriage.
Returning to the parlor, he made known to Addie the success of his efforts, and again requested her to name the day, only to be assured that she would seriously consider the matter and report later.
November 12, after an hour's parting interview with his betrothed, Mr. Graham bade her good-bye, and returned to his home, a happier man.
By December 1, he had gained her consent to January 7, 1866, as their wedding day.
Now all is attention both at Wynan's Falls, N. C., and at Dr. Trueheart's to preparations for the happy event. By the expressed wish of the bride expectant, there was to be no foolish display on the occasion of the wedding at either place.Chapter VII.
JANUARY 7, at 12 o'clock M., George Graham alighted from the carriage in front of Dr. Trueheart's residence to find a few friends gathered with the Rev. Dr. Rickson,
the officiating clergyman, and being informed of the readiness of all parties he proceeded to the room where Addie was waiting to become his bride.
All is ready. They appear before the minister. The ceremony is over, and George Graham and Addie Trueheart are man and wife.
At 12 o'clock, Jan. 8, they started for Wynan's Falls, via Petersburg, Weldon and Goldsboro, where they arrived at 10 o'clock P. M., the same day.
Jan. 9, Mrs. Graham gave her son and his bride a reception, which was attended by a large number of their friends and neighbors. An elegant dinner, with no wine, was served. It was a merry occasion and the welcome to the young man and his bride was very hearty. No doubt to George Graham it was his happiest day on earth. He had cause to be happy—he had won the love of a woman worthy of the heart and hand of any man.
Time passed on—each month of acquaintance with Mrs. Graham tended only to add to her popularity in the community. She
was recognized as a truly cultured and noble hearted woman.
Life had lavishly blessed them. One point only had entered as a dividing influence—that was their church relations. He was a Baptist, she was a member of the Christian church. No word had been said, and yet there were heartfelt, bitter pangs, known only to Addie. George Graham was a “wooldyed” Baptist, and his exclusiveness, together with occasional sharp “cuts” at the denomination to which his devoted wife belonged, often sank to the very depths of her heart. She alone felt the pain; she would not—it was against her finer feelings—resent in like terms; besides, her church had made it a prominent part of its work to discourage doctrinal disputes—not kind and honest discussions of thought. In short, the Baptists were exclusive, while the Christians were liberal and brotherly in their fellowship toward all disciples of Jesus. Mrs. Graham was a shining example of this peculiar feature of their teachings. She patiently bore all his thrusts at her faith—she would not retaliate, or speak unkindly of her husband's church. But she saw very little, or no change:
the caustic spirit of his people had been so implanted in his nature that he could neither outgrow it nor forget it. Her love helped her to bear this unnecessary burden as his wife, and the love of the Master helped her—constrained her, for Christ's sake—to suffer and be strong.
At length a great trial as to fellowship came between her husband and herself. She read only the day before in a Virginia paper a very touching account of a communion service at her old church. It told how the pastor made beautiful remarks on the sufferings and death of the Saviour, setting forth tenderly the brotherhood of God's people, resulting from that death. He showed that the supper was instituted as commemorative of his death and that all of his children were to join in its celebration. It deeply impressed her mind. She felt its force, for not since she had been in a Baptist family had she had an opportunity to join in the celebration of the supper. In fact, to-day was the first time she had been at church on an occasion of this kind. She knew full well the rules, but she did not know in reality the pain of seeing her own husband refuse to give to her
the emblems. Heretofore, her husband's “cuts” at her faith and church had seemed as possible jokes, but now that he refuses to offer her the emblems, it assumes the form of reality. She did so yearn for the privilege of joining him at the table and with him commemorate the sufferings and death of the Saviour. She felt that it would help her to a better life, it would encourage her and her husband to greater diligence in walking the narrow way together. She could not see why they, as the children of a common Heavenly Father, could not go hand in hand to the Lord's table. But it could not be so, sectarianism had forbidden it, and this Christian wife must be cut off and left alone.
During the week following this event the burden was heavier than ever; the strength of her will and character enabled her to bear the cross in silence. She would not ask him to leave his church, and she could not be received into it with him because of her religious principles, and moreover to unite with him would cut her off from the fellowship of a Christian father and mother and her own dear church.
Time swept rapidly onward. Little was said by either party on the communion question, though Mrs. Graham rarely passed a day that was not overshadowed by the sad thought that sectarianism should thus put a barrier between herself and her husband in their religious life. With this exception they had lived very happily together—they had seen much of the sunshine of a happy home.
A year has passed since their marriage. Now God has given them a treasure—a dear little girl. Her name is Iola—it was the name her mother chose. From that time forward Iola Graham was the center of parental affection in that home.Chapter VIII.
WHERE is the Bible, my dear?” said Mr. Graham to his wife, and he added, “since your sickness, everything about the house seems out of place.”
The feeble mother pointed to the Bible. It was the first time he had conducted family
worship since her illness. The lesson he read was from Proverbs 22. He began to read,
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
In the prayer following this lesson he asked the Father for grace for himself and wife that they might train the young and tender Iola in the way of the Lord, holding a good name as far more precious than great riches, and the loving favor of God as above silver and gold.
In after years it seemed as if this prayer was answered, for at an early age she showed a very high appreciation of a good name. She was reverent in her conversation, never making trifling remarks about sacred and holy things. Her parents had exercised great care in her training. The years passed rapidly away. All is peace in that household, only church relations are the same.
Iola was growing into young womanhood, and, as her mother had given special attention to her education, she was quite well prepared to enter college at the very early age of 12 years.
But the particular school to which she
should go was a question on which her fond parents would probably not agree. The mother expressed a wish that the tender girl might be trained—educated—in an unsectarian school, but her father objected just here—he wished his child to attend the Hollins Institute school, in Virginia, being secretly determined that she should go to a Baptist school. He loved his wife very dearly, he even remembered her brave service in his behalf on the bloody hills of Virginia, but that could not touch his heart in this matter; Iola must be sent to a Baptist school, where she could be under Baptist influences. He said but little, meanwhile he was quietly laying his plans to send her to Hollins Institute.
As the time to go drew near, he put in a plea for Hollin's on the ground of the health of the place. His wife yielded gracefully, but reluctantly. She knew in many schools of this class sectarian influences are thrown around the pupils, still, she hoped—prayed—that her child might escape. She felt more concerned because Iola was her only child, dear as the “apple of the eye;” especially is this true of an only, dutiful and loving
daughter, and Iola was all of this, having never intentionally disobeyed her parents.
In September, 1879, the question was decided and Iola was sent to Hollins. All moved on well, apparently. She was a model school girl—industrious and apt, keeping her studies well up.
Of course, in this school she never attended a service except when conducted by Baptists, and necessarily she was led to imbibe Baptist views. Though she had made no profession, had never confessed Christ, yet she had become in sentiment a Baptist, “of the most strictest kind.” Then, too, the timidity of her mother, though she was devotedly attached to the Christian Church, had kept her silent on denominational questions, while her father had been the most pronounced Baptist, even bitter against other denominations. All this had deeply impressed her young mind and led her to become a Baptist.
She had attended school two full sessions. While at home, in vacation, in 1881, she attended a protracted meeting at Broad Creek Baptist church. There were many professions, and among them was Iola Graham.
Of course, the parents rejoiced at the conversion of their only child. At the close of this meeting the pastor, Dr. Jenkins, preached a doctrinal sermon, in which he claimed for the Baptists a superiority over all others; in fact, he said the Baptist church was the only New Testament church, all others being offshoots—lacking in the strength and heart of the truth. He said immersion only is baptism, and that none should come to the Lord's table save regularly baptized members of regularly constituted Baptist churches. He said when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, none but his disciples were present, and that baptism preceded the supper. He then invited young converts to come forward to be received for baptism.
So fully had Iola Graham imbibed Baptist sentiments while in their school, that she was the first to go forward to be received into the fellowship of Broad Creek Baptist church. Her father was delighted at her choice. While it brought pleasure to his own heart, he little thought of the pain it cost her mother, who, though saying nothing, was the more deeply pained at the thought that in the tenderest and most sacred relations
of life, in their spiritual interests, she should be cut off from all association with her own husband and daughter—never to have the privilege of their fellowship, but with the meekness of a lamb she said nothing.
The meeting closed and Mr. Graham, his wife and daughter returned to their home, little thinking of the cloud of trouble which, even then, veiled that mother's heart, although Mrs. Graham was the very picture of sadness. As they came near to their home, Iola said innocently,
“Mother, do talk some for us—surely you are not sad because I have made peace with God—become a disciple of Jesus?”
“No, Iola; I am glad to feel that my only child is a Christian. There could nothing better be your portion.”
For a moment all is quiet. Then the conversation is on another matter; perhaps there was a wish to change the subject, hoping thereby to call her mind away from the trouble upon which it dwelt. After reaching home Mr. Graham and Iola were very cheerful and happy, but the dear mother could not be drawn away from her sadness.
“Dear mother, why are you so sad all the while?” she said, as she gently placed her arms about her neck.
“My daughter, I have my troubles like other people. However, I think it is best not to speak of them. I hope some day to be as cheerful as you wish me to be, but for the present I feel that duty calls me to bear my sadness in secret.”
It was very strange to Iola, in the fulness of her new faith, that her mother, a Christian, should be so sad. She was rejoicing in the sweet happiness of sins forgiven.Chapter IX.
THE passing days brought no perceptible change in Mrs. Graham's melancholy state. She was often seen sitting gazing at Iola, and then arising she would retire to some private place, saying: “I am so alone.” This remark was heard repeatedly, but its interpretation could not be known. Time glided swiftly on, and the father and the
“Dear mother, why are you so sad all the while?” she said, as she gently placed her arms about her neck.
daughter felt the dread approach of some trouble—to them unknown.
A business meeting of Broad Creek church had been announced for the following Saturday, and the administration of the Lord's Supper for the Sabbath. Iola and her father being members, attended the services, leaving Mrs. Graham at home. It was unusual for father and daughter to go without the mother. The good-bye kiss was warmly given, and the beautiful Iola lingered a few moments, manifesting tenderness and concern for her mother. Finally she said, “Good-bye, mother dear; you must be real cheerful while father and I are away. We will be home early—by 4 o'clock this afternoon, I suppose.”
Mrs. Graham lingered about the door, watching the departure of those nearest and dearest to her on earth. She was casting an eager, watchful eye after them as they turned the last corner and were gone.
Turning to go to her room, she remarked, in a half congratulatory manner, “I have the dearest husband and the sweetest daughter”—but just then her heart was crushed with the thought that while they
all loved and served the same Saviour, she as the Christian wife and mother could never be permitted to join them in commemorating the death of Jesus around the Lord's table.
This picture grew rapidly in her mind till it became burdensome, unbearable. She hastened to her closet, and under this weight she bowed in prayer. A weak, tremulous voice is pleading with its God for strength to bear the burden. Hear her pitiful wail:
“Oh! God,” she cries, “help me to endure this pain and misery of heart—I am so alone, cut off and disfellowshiped by my own husband and my dear child.” Then, as if to herself, she said in a half rambling way:
“Will they never come back to me? Can I never join them in commemorating the sufferings and death of my Saviour at the Lord's table?”
Here, as if in a semi-conscious state of mind, in her grief, she appealed pitifully to God to bring them back, or to take them all—father, mother and child—together to a place where no sectarian church rules can thus divide a warm hearted Christian family in the service and worship of God.
Here her prayer abruptly ceased, and she started, as if she saw before her the land of some sacred Utopia, where no exclusiveness in the church would separate and divide her own dear family. Her bewildered mind vainly supposed this land was nigh, and she followed, all unconsciously, its leading. She left her home in quest of this blessed place—she wandered, searching for the place of which she had been dreaming in her derangement, for she was a deranged woman. In her wanderings, afoot and alone, she was impelled onward under the vain hope that somewhere she would meet her loved husband and daughter, freed from the manacles of sectarian bigotry.
The prospect of such a happy event allures her. The more she contemplates the possibility, the more rapidly she travels, each step taking her from her home and loved ones, and further into the wild woods. Only God can keep her while she thus wanders. May the Angel of the Lord encamp round about her, and safely deliver her from the perils of this sad moment in her history.
At 4 o'clock p. m., Mr. Graham and Iola returned, both in fine spirits, having much
enjoyed the meeting at Broad Creek, preparatory to the communion service on the Sabbath. As they alighted from their carriage, Iola hastened to her mother's room to give her the first kiss. She entered with a gay and happy heart, but alas! poor child, her joy was quickly turned into grief—her mother was not there. She hurried from room to room, but in vain. Alarmed, she ran to her father, crying, “Oh! where is mother? I have searched every room in the house; I cannot find her. Oh! father, where can she be?”
“Do not be alarmed, my daughter; your mother must be about the premises.”
While he sought thus to console Iola, he had had himself for several days forebodings of coming trouble. It had seemed to be hanging over his very pathway as a dark, portentous cloud. Iola, too, had similar misgivings of impending danger, but both had kept their fears strictly to themselves. Quickly the search was renewed, Mr. Graham joining Iola; they looked here, there, everywhere, in their reach, but found her not.
They stopped in their bewildered search a moment, to think—just then Iola said:
“Father, I fear some ill. Do you not know mother has been so sad of late? When I asked her the cause of it, she replied, ‘It is best not to make it known.’ Oh! father, I am so afraid my dear, sweet mother is gone where I shall see her no more.”
Just then neighbor McIntosh said she was seen about one o'clock, going toward the Great Pocosin. They hastened in that direction. For an hour they sought her in vain. Night was near at hand, and the thought of mother spending it in the lonely woods as a wanderer in its darkness was more than the devoted daughter could bear. The search was kept up, and just as the golden glories of a lovely sunset were fading into the evening twilight, they saw in the distance what seemed to be two persons approaching, and soon Iola recognized one of them as her mother, who had been found wandering in the woods by Mr. Jason, with whom the Grahams had a slight acquaintance, and he had kindly taken her in charge and was leading her homeward.
A little nearer, and Iola exclaimed, “My mother!” and Mrs. Graham, looking up, saw her husband and daughter, and in a moment she was in their embrace. She seemed delighted at meeting them, doubtless supposing she had reached the happy abode for which she was searching, where sectarian rules could never again divide and put barriers in the way of their happiness and religious peace—a place which she fancied would bring the much desired opportunity of joining her husband and child with other Christians in commemorating the sufferings ard death of the Saviour in the celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Mr. Graham's voice, as he spoke, seemed to break the spell of derangement under which she was wandering, and as he saw the return of reason, he very tenderly said:
“Oh, Addie! My dear wife, how came you here, and what is the matter?”
This fully caught her attention, and she answered:
“My husband, you have always been so tender, so devoted to me, and then the circumstances of our early love were of such a character as to make our union doubly sacred.
I have been yours in the fullest sense of the word from the time of our marriage, and my life has been given to your happiness, so that even the appearance of separation has well nigh crazed my mind.”
“Separation! How, my dear wife?” anxiously asked Mr. Graham.
“Well, in this way: I have always been cut off from you in our spiritual relations by the rules of your church. Perhaps a thousand times my heart has ached because of this unfortunate fact in our experience; and many a time have my cheeks been bathed with the scalding tears of my grief, all because you could not permit me to join you in celebrating the Lord's Supper. It has been the one ungratified desire of my Christian experience, and yet I made up my mind, for your sake, to bear this burden in silence as best I could. I thought I was succeeding, till a few days ago—when I saw my only child, Iola, cut me off from fellowship with her by joining your church. From that moment my heart was pierced with the dart of despair. The thought of never, never being permitted to join any of the members of my own dear little family in the communion
service, troubled me; it haunted me by day, and in my sleep my dreams intensified my sufferings.Chapter X.
WHEN you and Iola left this morning to go to Broad Creek church, I felt more keenly than ever the pang of this trouble. I went to my place of secret prayer. Suddenly I felt moved to go in quest of a place where the church rules would not make me so unhappy. I started. I soon lost my way—I wandered, and when I met you and Iola, my first thought was—how mistaken!—that I had found my sacred Utopia, where I would no more hear the harsh and unkind criticisms simply because I differ from others on questions of minor importance, or rather on matters of mere opinion; where I should be heartily welcomed to the privileges of the church with my own husband and child. Oh! it all now seems so much like a dream to me, but I see I am not at home; let me go”—
During this explanation Iola stood looking and listening—almost bewildered. Her heart trembled for her mother's safety, and she said, in a manner expressive of tenderest love and sweet assurance:
“My precious mother, make yourself contented. Come, let us go home, and you shall no more be cut off from my fellowship as one of God's children.”
While Mrs. Graham would not have her child sacrifice principle, except upon conviction that the principle is wrong, still these words comforted her weary spirit. The assurance was a balm to her wounded heart.
Iola could not say why they had not earlier seen the nature of her mother's sadness, though Mr. Graham, while restless, had but very little to say. Evidently he was weeping at heart over the sad condition of his wife, but clinging with a strong grip to his sectarian views—he was divided, and his love was struggling, not between his wife and his religion, or his faith in God, but between his wife and the human dogmas of a sectarian church. The spectacle was a sad one.
Reaching home early in the night the
weary mother was soon sleeping very sweetly. Perhaps the presence of the angels calmed her troubled spirit and gave her the blessed rest she so much needed. We are told, you know, that “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him.”
While the mother slept, father and daughter talked the matter over. Many expressions of regret fell from Iola's lips because of the sad occurrence of that day, and in their absence, too. For a few moments the depths of their pain found expression only in sighs. At length Iola kindly said:
“Father, there must be something wrong in the close-communion practice of our church, for I do believe my dear mother is a christian, and if so, as such she has a clear right to all the privileges at the Lord's table—just as much as you or any other one of his children. I see no reason why they should not allow—even invite—her, and all true christians, to the Lord's Supper together. Can you?”
“My child, since this is the Lord's table—and not ours—we have no right to invite any one to it.”
“Then, father, I understand you to say
the Lord withholds from you the right to invite any one to the table, and at the same time gives you the privilege to keep some of his children away?”
“This is no time to ask or answer any such questions,” and he walked out, leaving Iola standing bewildered at his reply.
She spent the remainder of the night quietly in the sick room. In the early morning, as she was about to leave the chamber where her mother was so sweetly sleeping, she pressed one more tender kiss upon her sad, pale cheek, when Mrs. Graham awoke, to be greeted so pleasantly with,
“Good morning, mother; I hope you are feeling better, you look much refreshed.” It was Iola speaking to her mother, who feebly responded,
“Thank you, daughter; I do feel better and yet not well,—I had such a hard day yesterday.”
“Yes, mother, I am deeply pained to know that any act of mine should have given you trouble. The selfish practice of our church in keeping other christians from the Lord's table does annoy me no little, but father says it is all proper, and yet, I do feel
that my dear mother ought to be permitted to partake with me, and others of my faith and order, of the Lord's Supper.”
“Ah! child, I cannot expect it in this life—you and your father are such strong Baptists; but your course toward me has cost me many a pang of heart-sorrow, many an hour of silent, but bitter weeping. When I could look forward to a possible fellowship with my only child, that in part made up for the loneliness I had on account of your father's being cut off from me, or I cut off from him, by the rules of his church; but now you have joined with him, and I am more lonely. My dear child, I wish you to be happy and belong to the church of your choice, but when I saw that you had cut me off from your fellowship, I felt I could not endure it—the loss to me was incalculable. No doubt this fact gave me the nervous shock of yesterday and brought me to my present weakness. You see this had been working on me, even before your conversion, for your father, dear, good man that he is, never could look with favor on my church, and often, perhaps unthoughtedly, he would say hard things about my people. So when
I saw you join his church, it cast a piercing dart through the last hope I had of having the fellowship and companionship, spiritually, of any of my own family in this life. As I thought of this my heart yearned for the blessed land where these narrow views will be buried forever. I was praying over this very matter when my mind seemed to leap toward such a spiritual Utopia and beyond my control. It seems now like a dream. I remember thinking I could find you and your father there, and I started, as I thought, with a bright hope before me, but it was a vain journey, for though I found you, or rather you found me, still you both are the same exclusive Baptists as before.”
“Mother,” said Iola, “please do not worry yourself over this matter—it can do no good and may make you worse. I hope it will be all made right sometime.”
“Yes, child, it will, but not till we meet in Heaven. The lines and walls of partition your people have built too strongly ever to encourage or permit union among God's people.”
“Maybe not, mother; at any rate, I am
most anxious that you shall not make yourself worse by studying and talking about it.”
“I would love to get well and strong again, but, my daughter, I do not now expect that. I have felt for some time that my days are nearly ended—the impression has been deeply fixed in my mind since the night before you were converted at Broad Creek church. I have not spoken of my dream to any person, but—”
“Tell it to me, mother, can't you?” asked Iola.
“Well, I can if you wish. I had in a dream a sort of vision. Your father, yourself and I were in a beautiful church. The congregation was large. In front of the altar was spread the Lord's Supper. I heard the minister give the invitation to join in the celebration of this most sacred sacrament. It was to all of God's believing children present. Then your father led the way, and you and I followed. We bowed around the table. It was the first time my poor heart had had its yearning gratified. I was so happy, language can not tell it—my soul was thrilled, delighted. As we arose, an angel seemed to be hovering above the
sacred emblems, bearing a scroll, upon which was written the words of Jesus at the institution of the Lord's Supper:‘Drink ye all of it.’—-Matt. 26: 27.‘And they all drank of it.—-Mark 14: 23.
“At the conclusion of this delightful service, we all joined in singing these words:‘My span of life will soon be done,The passing moments say.’
“The next day you took your stand on the Lord's side. I was happy again at the thought that my child was a christian. But when you joined Broad Creek Baptist church my hopes fled, not that I would object to your choice, only that thereby you cut me off from your fellowship.
“There is a significance in the inscription on that scroll. I think it plainly says that Jesus did not forbid any of his believing children to join in the supper. The first commands all—not a part of them—to drink of it, and the second says they did all—not a part—drink of it.
“When I saw you unite with the Baptists my dream came back, as a vision before me. It seemed to say, this much was given you as a foretaste of the happy union of your
family in Heaven, for while you have never shared in the bliss of such a scene on earth, (and you never will,) the joy shall be yours in “the sweet bye and bye.”
Just then I heard, as from the tongue of a whispering angel, these comforting words:“Courage, my soul! thy bitter cross,In every trial here,Shall bear thee to thy Heaven above,But shall not enter there.”
“Thus, my dear child, I have been led to feel that my end is near. If so, I will leave you in the hands of my Heavenly Father. May He be your Protector and Guide. I hope to meet you in Heaven; we'll find no traces of this exclusive spirit there. I believe you and your father will be able to greet me there as one of the redeemed.”
“I hope so, dear mother. In Heaven I think we shall have no church rules to stir up strife and divide the great family of God.”
Seeing she was weary, she retired from the room to give her a chance to rest. At the dinner table she told her father of what her mother had said during the morning. As she alluded to her being cut off from their fellowship, she showed signs of deep emotion.
Finally, looking up into her father's face through blinding tears, she said:
“Father, I fear we shall not have mother with us much longer, she is so sad, despondent; and what hurts me so deeply is, that she seems insane with grief because our church cannot allow her to join us, or us to join her at the communion table. I am so sorry it is so. Father, is there no way this privilege can be given her?”
“None whatever. She will not join us and be rebaptized, and nothing short of that could ever allow her to go with us to the Lord's table.”
“Father, are you fully satisfied that our church is right on that point?”
“Well, yes, I think so. Why?”
“Somehow it seems hard to divide a family in this manner. I believe my suffering mother is just as truly a Christian before God and man as any of us.”
“It will do no good, Iola, to talk of this matter, so let us drop it;” and the young girl reluctantly consented, for she was anxious to give this question a full examination to see what is right.Chapter XI.
FROM the dining hall they went together to Mrs. Graham's room. As they entered the mother awoke and Iola saw in the short time of her absence she had grown worse. A chill had seized her. The doctor was recalled at once. After a careful examination of her symptoms a prescription was given. The doctor was leaving, and Mr. Graham anxiously inquired as to his wife's condition, only to be assured that her case was a serious one, being in danger of pneumonia from cold taken on the day of her wandering from home. “You have cause to be anxious,” said the doctor, “but I will do all in my power for her relief.”
When Dr. Johnson called again he found his patient had grown worse. His opinion sent alarm into the family. Under the most skilful treatment she grew worse, and each day added to her weakness.
Mrs. Graham's condition greatly troubled her husband. As is frequently the case, the husband of a dying wife, reviews his life as
her companion. Beginning with the scene on the hills of Bermuda Hundreds when he was dying, as he supposed, away from loved ones, with no gentle hand to assist him in this terrible struggle, their married lives passed as in a panoramic view. He felt the pangs of grief striking deeper into his heart as each scene came up, till the one showing how the exclusiveness of his religious life had so wrought upon his wife as to bring trouble and finally terminating in wrecking her mind and health, and now she is prostrated in sickness, it may be unto death. Here the picture brought a shudder of fear upon him—he trembled at the thought that his conduct, religiously, toward his wife should have had such results. He tried to shift the responsibility from his own shoulders under the pretext of faithfulness to his religious convictions, or as he expressed it, “I must serve God rather than man.” But a still small voice whispered into his ear these words: “A selfish exclusiveness is service to the traditions of men rather than service to God.” Then he caught himself repeating that passage of scripture which says: “But in vain do they worship me
teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” See Matt. 15:9
It is Sunday morning. Mrs. Graham has grown rapidly worse since the doctor left her the night before. She is sinking. This fact was made known to Mr. Graham and Iola. They came to her bedside. As the husband stood looking upon the form of his dying companion, his heart throbbed with grief. He was speechless from heart anguish—he kissed devotedly the pale face, and turned aside to weep in tears of sorrow and regret.
Iola, poor child, summoning all the spirit she could, ventured to speak to her dying mother.
“Mother,” she said, “do you know you are nearing the pearly gates of Heaven?”
Turning her feeble eyes upon Iola, she answered:
“I do not know, my child; if so, it is well, and I am ready to go home. The way has been a difficult one, but if the end be near I have a bright hope of victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“My dear mother, the doctor says you can not be with us long,” and the young
girl's heart heaved, as the troubled sea, with the depths of pain and sorrow. As she stood by her thus talking, she pressed many a warm kiss upon the cold face of her dying mother. Seeing the end was so near, the devoted child said:
“Mother, give me a parting word, ere you go home, to comfort and encourage and guide me when I am left a motherless girl.”
“My daughter, take care of your father and of yourself, but more than all seek to walk close with God—be a christian, and then I shall meet you on the shining shore—in Heaven. There will be no sorrow there. There will be no heartless church rules to drive one into agony of mind—there will be no division among us, and I shall for the first time meet you equal in privileges. I shall hear no more harsh and unkind thrusts at God's people, simply because of mere differences in opinion, and we shall all be happy together—members of one great family, children of a common Father, and, as such, we shall be entitled to all the privileges of that blessed home. But listen!‘There are angels hovering ’round,To carry your mother home.’
And then the silence was intense—the dreadful and rapid advance of death hushed every mouth and stilled every movement. To the ear of the dying mother only was heard the sweet strains of music from the angels’ harps. With her eyes fixed on the sweet fields of Eden, she reached forth her hands and repeating odd lines of a grand old hymn, she said:“Let me go where saints are going,—Let me go, I'd cease this dying,Let me go, for bliss eternalLures my soul away—away,And the victor's song triumphantThrills my heart—I can not stay—I would gain life's fairer plains;Let me join the myriad harpers,Let me chant their rapturous strains,For the joyous songs of gloryCall me to a happier home.”
One brief moment of gasping, and the struggle was over—Addie Trueheart Graham was with her God.
Father and daughter were buried in sorrow. They had a double burden, for with their grief was mixed a dread of having unnecessarily distressed by their religious exclusiveness the dear wife and mother whose
lifeless body now sleeps before them in death. Of this, however, nothing was said.
A dispatch was sent to her old pastor to conduct the services at her burial, which took place on Tuesday at noon. The words he used for the text were: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” A large number of people attended the services and burial of this noble woman.
They made her grave beneath the spreading branches of a massive tree in the family graveyard.Chapter XII.
NOT a week had passed since the death of Mrs. Graham when Mr. Graham observed a sadness in Iola which he could not attribute to the death of her mother. Every expression in her countenance portrayed a restless anxiety not characteristic of her earliest grief over the grave of her mother. Confident that some unusual burden of grief had been added to her loss, he determined to have an interview with
“They made her grave beneath the spreading branches of a massive tree in the family graveyard.”
his daughter, and, if possible, obtain an explanation of this restless spirit now so clearly manifested in all her actions. The days passed on till Sunday afternoon—just two weeks after Mrs. Graham's death—when he met Iola in the parlor alone, and addressing her in a fatherly way, he said:
“Iola, my dear child, I know you bear a heavy burden of grief in the death of your mother, and yet, I have thought for some days that you have some sorrow weighing upon your young heart aside from her death. I wish you to tell me just what it is.”
“Father,” she said, “I could tell you, but I am impressed that it might be wise not to do so.”
“Why, daughter, I do not understand you—you alarm me!”
“No alarm, father; I am willing that you should know all of my troubles—I only thought it expedient to bear the burden alone, still if you insist, you may know it,” and she proceeded, as follows:
“You know, father, the sad circumstances which led to mother's illness, and perhaps to her death. Since I understood that it was our religious exclusiveness that
so troubled her, and, as I fear, deranged her mind, I have had all I could think about, and I am not surprised that you have observed new trouble in my face. I have been examining the close communion question. I have brought it down beside the plain teachings of the Bible. Mother's trouble gave me much pain before, and now, since I have studied the subject closely in the light of the Bible, I am simply miserable; for I feel that, in our blindness, we have followed the teachings of man, as to the Lord's Supper, to the loss of my dear mother, while the Bible is plainly in favor of the views she so devotedly held through all the shadows of her beclouded life—she was no doubt a martyr to this cause. This thought is crushing to my heart, and I can find no relief from the pain of my guilty conscience; like one of old, my sin is ever before me, and—there is no rest to my anguish-riven heart.”
“Why, Iola, my dear child, you do not mean to say that you renounce the faith of the Baptists, do you?”
“No, father, indeed I do not; but I do mean to say, that I am no more in favor of close communion.”
“Then you are no longer a Baptist,” replied her father.
“You are no longer a Baptist.”
“Why not, father?”
“Well, restricted or close communion is a leading feature of the Baptists, and those who discard it are not recognized as true Baptists. But, my child, I wish to know on what grounds you have renounced this important feature of your faith?”
“Father, it will take much time to tell you that, but I will try.
“My dear mother's sufferings, brought on by our being cut off from her religiously, first led me to inquire into the authority for the practice of close communion. I say this led me to search for the facts. Having begun, I became interested to know the whole truth in this matter. The result of my inquiries led me to abandon a belief in this selfish practice. I took my Bible, with my concordance, and searched it through—read and studied carefully all I could find touching the Lord's Supper. When I finished, I was satisfied that the doctrine of close communion, as taught and practiced among Baptists,
“I took my Bible, with my concordance, and searched it through.”
is not to be found between the lids of the inspired Word of God.
1. “I saw nothing in the Bible to indicate that any of the early Christians were ever kept from the Lord's table, while in good standing, religiously, with the brethren. There is certainly no evidence that Jesus or any of the Apostles kept any Christian away from this hallowed festival.
2. “Jesus, when he instituted the Supper, gave it to all of his disciples who were then present, and especially said, ‘Eat ye all of it’—that is, all the disciples should eat of the emblems used.
3. “I find that Paul expressly stated the conditions on which God's people might join in celebrating this Supper. In all his writings I found no place which says: ‘Let a man be immersed, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup;’ but I do find in his letter to the Corinthians, a passage which gives these plain directions as to the conditions upon which one may partake of the emblems of the Lord's Supper. It reads: ‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.’ Now, I had always been taught that baptism
qualified a Christian to partake of the sacred emblems at the Lord's Supper. I nowhere saw any allusion in the Bible to baptism as having any precedence over it, and I know that Paul does not write as if baptism had any relation to the Lord's Supper. I do not remember a single passage in which he mentions the two ordinances—baptism and the supper—together. He never once associates the two in any sense, which in the remotest way shows a dependence of the one upon the other, or a precedence of one over the other. So you see, father, I have not made up my mind without seriously considering the step, regarding my responsibility to God and the authority of the Bible as my highest concern.”
“Ah! I see you are led under the grief of the recent loss of your mother to feel that it is traceable to the close communion practice in the Baptist church. To a certain extent it is natural for you to feel thus, but you will soon see your mistake and return to your old faith. I think the Baptists are right, as you, no doubt, will, later.”
Two weeks passed with no further allusions to this unpleasant subject. It was a lovely
afternoon, and Iola and her father were sitting under the shade trees of the old homestead, enjoying the fresh balmy air. Conversation grew dull, and Mr. Graham thought he observed in Iola the same restless sadness again, to which allusion has already been made.
At length he enquired ‘if she were not yet satisfied on the close communion question.’
“Yes, father,” she answered, “I am satisfied now as never before, that close communion is the great mistake, yes, more, it is the most barefaced error in our church, doctrinally speaking, for while there may be other heretical views among us, they have some plea for their existence, but I can find nowhere in the Bible any grounds upon which to base even the appearance of truth in this close communion heresy, and I do hope sooner or later our church will turn away from this unscriptural practice.”
“My child, I am surprised at the language you use; surely, you do not know what it means, or you have forgotten the early teachings I gave you.”
“No, father, not that; but I remember, too
well, perhaps, the sufferings of my mother, which in the main are directly traceable to the exclusiveness of her own husband and child—I can not forget that, for it led her to the deep anguish of disfellowship on the part of her own family, and further, to derangement and to her grave,”—and the dear child burst into tears.
“Admit all that to be true, my child, can you change your faith—your religious principles—because they grieved even your own dear mother?”
“No, father,—that is not the case. I do not reject close communion on that ground, but on this: My mother's sufferings, because of our conduct toward her, which was made necessary by our faith, led me to investigate the grounds on which I was standing. I could not see how in a great family the father should so order the regulations of the household as to make it so very burdensome to any one of his loving, faithful children, and the other children be happy. So I could not see how close communion could be of God, when it brought so much strife and division into his church and such intense suffering to a part of his children,
leaving the others happy. Here I determined to examine the Bible for myself and see if my Heavenly Father had so ordered this matter; and now, I am satisfied, after a candid and careful examination of the Book, that there is absolutely no scriptural authority for close communion; and, for one, I do hope our people will give it up, and adopt the Apostle Paul's rule, to let a man examine himself and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup.”
“Ah! child, that is a vain hope—they will never do that—no, no.”
“Yes, yes, father,” said Iola, “I hope they will. I know I was a true Baptist, and I have changed on that point, and I hope all may do so. It would help us to be more scriptural and more Christ-like, two points to gain which believers can afford to give up any human dogma, and to make a sacrifice of any church rule not found in the Bible. You see, father, close communion is a human regulation in our church, because the Bible nowhere enjoins it, and, what is more, the whole spirit of the Bible is against it.”Chapter XIII.
“But really, Iola,” said Mr. Graham, “are you in earnest in renouncing the close communion of the Baptists?”
“Indeed, I am father.”
“Well, if you persist in it, your church will certainly disfellowship you.”
“Do what, father?”
“Yes, they will be compelled to disown you as a member of a Baptist church, Iola.”
“Because you renounce the Baptist faith.”
“I think that would be dreadful, father! Here I am, a young girl, just grown up, and motherless, and for my church to disfellowship me because of an honest opinion, and so set the public to talking about me—it is not Christ-like. But you do not really think they would have me arraigned and disown me for holding this view, do you?”
“Indeed, they will—they can not be consistent and do otherwise. You had better
abandon these notions and return to the old faith.”
“Cannot be consistent with what, father?”
“With the rules and usages of the Baptists.”
“Ah, that may be, but I know they could be consistent with the Bible and a christian life and not disown me for these views. Again, as to going back to the old faith, I can not do that and be honest—the truth is deeply imbedded in my heart; I cannot give it up.”
“Iola, you deeply mortify my feelings.”
“Dear father, I do not wish to do that—I do not mean to do it, and yet, believing that I have the truth, I can not abandon it—it is as dear as life to me.” As she said it she laid her arms about his neck and kissed him tenderly, and as she did so, the big tears ran down his cheeks. Doubtless he was thinking of Iola's mother, and a combination of sad memories crowded his mind and filled his heart with tender emotions. He continued to struggle with his feelings, till at length he overcame them, and he said:
“Well, if you must subject yourself to
such an unpleasant affair as a church trial, I can only say, it is a bitter pang that I shall never forget, for which I can see no earthly necessity.”
“Dear father, is there no necessity to respect my conscience—my honest religious convictions? Would you, father, have me trample my principles under my feet, simply to escape the church trial to which you allude?”
“But how, my dear child, did you ever become possessed of such principles?”
“By studying the Bible.”
“Well, but I have studied the Bible, perhaps more than you have, and so have thousands of Baptists, and we do not wish to renounce our faith as Baptists—then why should you?”
“I will grant that you, and many others of our people, have studied the Bible more than I have, but you studied it under the light of a sectarian lamp, while I hope and believe I studied it in the light that fell from the face of a dying Christian, while her brow was radiant with the coming glory of the other shore—my mother. Admitting that I am wrong, father, it yet remains
for you, or some of our people, to show it from the Bible. Do that, and I will cheerfully yield my views and return to the old faith, and take my stand with you.”
Mr. Graham did not accept Iola's proposition to show wherein the Bible was against her, and so she continued to stand by her new faith.
On Friday afternoon, he quietly and very kindly reminded Iola that the next day was the time appointed for a business meeting at Broad Creek church, at the same time asking her if she wished to go. She made answer in the affirmative, and asked the hour of meeting.
“At 11 o'clock in the morning,” he said.
“Then we shall have to go early in order to be on time,” answered the young girl.
At 9 o'clock the next morning, Mr. Graham and Iola were seated in the carriage and off to Broad Creek. On the way both were unusually quiet. At length Iola introduced conversation, by saying:
“I have not been to my church since the day mother was taken so ill. I did very much enjoy the services that day, but I do not suppose I will to-day.”
“Why not, Iola?”
“I am quite sure if they arraign me before the church on account of my close communion views, I shall not enjoy it, because of the unpleasant publicity. But, if it must come, for the Truth's sake, I will not flag. By the help of the Lord, I will stand by my post of duty; besides. I feel that the memory of my mother's sufferings will encourage and strengthen me in my darkest moments. Here I must abide till the way opens to me.”
“Well, if your mind is made up to that, you may as well nerve yourself to submit to a trial, for it must come,” said Mr. Graham.
“Then I shall try to meet it as a christian.”
“My child, it is painful to me, but you know my duty in the case. As a deacon I must report you, though you are my own child. I will take no part against you publicly. I will give the facts to a brother deacon, who will bring the matter up for consideration.”
“And will not my own dear father speak one word in my behalf?”
“My child, your father can not. You will
have to speak for yourself,” and having reached the church yard, the conversation ended.
The meeting opened with devotional exercises. Then came the business meeting. After much routine work, Deacon Ashton announced the fact that a certain member had been walking disorderly, “to report which is a most painful duty. I allude to our young sister, Iola Graham, charged with having renounced the Baptist faith, touching the important feature of close communion. I think there is no doubt of the truth of the charge, but the sister is present and can speak for herself.”
The moderator, turning to her, said: “Sister Graham, you have heard the words of Deacon Ashton; have you any thing to say in reply?”
The young girl timidly arose and said: “The charge of Deacon Ashton is true.”
“Brethren,” said the moderator, “you have heard the sister's answer; what will you do in this case?”
“I move,” said Bro. James, “that we appoint a committee of three to wait on this
sister, notifying her to prepare for trial at our next meeting.”
Iola, understanding that she would have to speak for herself, determined to do so at once, and, if possible, avoid a protracted trial. Though a cross to her, she arose, and, with trembling voice, said:
“Brethren, in all proper deference to you I would say, it seems useless to defer this matter till another meeting; I am as ready now for any proper disposal of the case as I can be then. As there seems to be a wide difference between myself and this church, if it is your pleasure to give me a letter, certifying to my christian character, I will give you no further trouble.”
The moderator informed her that the letter could not be given. Then, said the brave girl,
“If I must be expelled from my church for these views, your immediate action will suit me as well. My mind is made up, and I would prefer that you dispose of the matter to-day.”
“A formal trial is unnecessary if she is positively determined to maintain her position
against restricted communion,” said the moderator.
“I am so determined,” she answered.
“What will you do with the case, brethren?” said the presiding officer.
This seemed to stop them all—the question was too much for them; at least, they hesitated to take it up.
At length, Deacon Folley arose and said: “I move that Iola Graham be now expelled from the membership of Broad Creek church for the sin of renouncing restricted communion.”
The motion received a second, and the chair put the question to the house. As he asked if there were remarks to be made, Bro. Jordan arose and said:
“Bro. Moderator, this is a very delicate matter, and I regret exceedingly that it is before us. My duty to my church, however, will compel me to vote for the motion. No Baptist can do otherwise. Her course is a thrust at the stronghold of our organization, and we, as Baptists, can not be too prompt to condemn it.”
In a similar manner quite a number spoke. All seemed to regret the necessity for such
action, and yet they were ready to vote for the motion.
At length the moderator asked:
“Has the young lady any one to speak for her, or will she speak for herself?”
To this she responded:
“I have no one to speak for me, but I will speak for myself,” and she began:
“I am devotedly attached to my church, but I have become convinced that our people hold to restricted communion without scriptural grounds for the practice. I have been urged to bury my faith in this matter for the sake of avoiding a difficulty here. I am anxious to shun all difficulties in this life, but the more I meditated on the question of duty in this case, the more I was convinced that I should stand up for the faith once delivered to the saints and speak for myself, if need be. I therefore can not hold my peace.
“To-day I appeal to you to go with me through the sad experience that has led me to this point.
“I was brought up a Baptist. My father is a Baptist. I went to a Baptist school to be educated. I professed faith in Christ within these sacred walls. I united
with this church. Here I was baptized. These facts prepared me to believe as Baptists believe. I did so heartily and sincerely. Going home from the first business meeting held after I became a member of this church, I was shocked to find my dear mother gone. For weeks she had been in trouble, but I could not discover its cause. Finding her gone, I became alarmed. I feared she had become ill, or that some harm had befallen her. My dear father and I went in search of her. In the twilight of coming darkness, we found her, deranged and sick. In that moment I suffered such heart-an-guish as no tongue or pen can describe. Humanly speaking, my mother was a model Christian. I found her reason had been dethroned, and I feared through the grief brought to her heart because father and I could not fellowship her at the Lord's table, the rules of our church forbidding it while she was not a member of the Baptist church. She belonged to the Christian church. She said she bore this, though a burden, for father's sake, till I joined with him. When she saw that each member of her own dear family was cut off from her fellowship as a
Christian, the thought crushed her hopes of becoming united in this life. The idea of disfellowship for a warm-hearted Christian mother became a heavy burden to my soul. But this, though terrible in itself, did not fix my faith in opposition to our church. For mother's sake, I did deeply regret the seeming necessity for non-fellowshipping her.
“I wish here to state distinctly all this fact ever had to do with my change of faith was, that it led me to search the scriptures to see if these things were so—to see if in the Bible I could find any just grounds upon which father and I, as Christians, should refuse to meet my now sainted mother at the Lord's table. After the most painstaking examination of all that Jesus and the inspired writers had said about the Lord's Supper, I was unable to find any passage of scripture justifying close communion.
“I know that, as a people, we hold that one must be baptized by immersion before he can join God's people in commemorating the sufferings and death of the dear Saviour, but I can find no such directions in the Bible. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, he said, in passing the cup, ‘drink ye
all of it,’ by which I understand that he meant, not necessarily all of the wine, but that all of the disciples should drink of it. I know on this point our church decides who may and who may not partake of the Supper, but Jesus did not so restrict the privileges of the holy festival; and I am quite sure Paul did not understand Jesus to limit its privileges to such only as had been immersed, for Paul, with emphasis, says: ‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.’ Surely, that sustains my views of open communion. Besides, the spirit of the scriptures, as a whole, sustains me. Reason also upholds the same idea. Did you ever see a reasonable father shut out a portion of his dutiful children from the blessings of the home? I do not believe that God is the Author of close communion—it is a human dogma.
“So, brethren, in the main you have my reasons. I hold them in a pure conscience before God. I cannot do otherwise. I know I must be expelled from this dear old church, so it is needless that I speak further. Now I await my fate.”
As the brave but modest Iola took her seat, the moderator asked if there were any other remarks to be made. Not one ventured a reply. Iola's burning words were still ringing in their ears. Yet when the vote was taken, it was unanimous for her expulsion from Broad Creek Baptist church, though many gave their consent in tears. Iola accepted the situation kindly and gracefully.
After the meeting closed, they shunned the presence of the brave little championess of open communion. This was a bitter experience to her mind and heart. She gently bore the cross, believing her cause was just.
On the way home little was said, but occasionally words were exchanged, in which the father showed no sympathy for his noble daughter in the trials through which she was then passing—the fires of persecution burned pitilessly along her sad and lonely pathway.
THE following Sabbath was communion day at Broad Creek. Iola accompanied her father to this service but took a rear seat, expecting to hear a sermon on close communion. In this she was disappointed. Not a word was said—doubtless the pastor thought “prudence the better part of valor.” With the burning words of the young girl and the plain facts of the Bible, he evidently thought it was wise to say nothing on that subject, for while all voted to expel her, he knew many were in sympathy with her in her open communion views. To discuss the question now might lead to a closer searching of the Bible, and it was only too likely that it would result as in Iola's case.
Sunday afternoon, returning home, Mr. Graham said: “Well, daughter, what now? You do not mean to live out of the church, do you?”
“What else can I do? I have been expelled.”
“Please do not speak of it in that way, Iola.”
“How then, father?”
“Do not say that we expelled you, but that your views would not allow you to remain with us.”
“As much as I delight to please you, I can not do so by making such a statement as that. Broad Creek church expelled me for holding open communion views, and I must so state it, because facts are facts.”
“So you do not propose to renounce your new faith and come back—be one with us again?”
No; I have no such purpose, though I am unwilling to live out of the church—I must seek a spiritual home.
“Where do you think of going, Iola?”
“Allow me time, I am not fully decided. I have been reading the doctrinal views of many of the denominations, especially have I examined the teachings of the Bible. At this time I am looking toward the Christians for a church home.”
“I hope you do not mean that, my child.”
“Because I know of no more objectionable denomination.”
“How is it objectionable?”
“Well, that is enough—my word ought to be sufficient, and you ought to accept it without question.”
“That is all true, perhaps,” said the innocent, earnest girl, “but I am searching for the truth. I do not wish to act on any ‘hearsay,’ I want the facts. If you know any good reason why I should not go to them for a church home, please tell me, so that I may act intelligently.”
“My child, they are the worst people among us.”
“Pardon me, father, I do not mean any disrespect, but you told me that before. I wish the facts. Tell me why they are so bad a people?”
“I will do so. They hold and teach bad doctrines.”
“Will you name one or two?”
“Yes, child. I will mention just one, which will be a bar to their success and usefulness forever. One of their cardinal principles is this: ‘The right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience is accorded to all
their members.’ Now, daughter, just that one sentiment will kill them, and it ought to, too.”
“Really,” said the girl, “I admire that very principle.”
“Dear, dear me, daughter, surely you do not understand it. See here! You can belong to them and hold to any view you like. When they do a wrong thing, if called to account for it, they plead the right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience in extenuation of that sin. If a drunken man is arraigned for the sin of drunkenness, he simply makes answer that he has the right of private judgment and the liberty of his conscience in the case, and they have to submit. The same is true of other sins. You can see at once how untrue that church is to Christ. I hope you do not mean to cast your spiritual welfare with such a people.”
This was an unexpected blow to Iola's ideas and purposes. After some thought upon this new version of the principles of the Christians, she approached her father and said:
“Are you not mistaken? That principle, as you interpret it, seems so unnatural for a christian people to live under—I
think you must have misconceived its spirit, to say the least of it.”
“No, Iola, it is true. If you unite with them you must do so with this great sin looking you full in the face.”
“Well, you may be right, but that I may be certain as to that, I will write to my mother's old pastor, Rev. T. M. Rickson, of Virginia, and ask him if that is a proper interpretation of that principle, as held by the Christians.”
“My child, you doubt my word! I am surprised at you!”
“No, father, I do not in that sense,—I only think you have misunderstood them. It is because of this, that I propose to write to Mr. Rickson.”
She addressed the following letter to him:
Wynans Falls, N. C., Sept. 20, 1882.
Rev. T. M. Rickson, Venice, Va.
Dear Sir: —I am a little confused. Will you kindly give me some facts touching leading principles of the Christians? It is
said that you allow your members, when guilty of unchristian-like conduct, to plead the right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience in extenuation of their sins, and remain in full membership with the church. Your church was my mother's church, and I am anxious to know the truth of this rumor. With much interest, my dear sir, I shall await your reply.
Very Respectfully, Iola Graham.Chapter XV.
MR. Graham, seeing she was determined to carry into effect her purposes, grew daily more fretful, and even unkind toward Iola. She bore it all patiently, and conducted herself as the same loving daughter she had been while in the Baptist church.
A week had now passed since the posting of her letter to Mr. Rickson. The answer came. Iola was all expectant, and opening it, she read:
Venice, Va., Sept. 25, 1882.
To Miss Iola Graham, Wynan's Falls, N. C.
In answer to your kind inquiry of Sept. 20, permit me to say, I am not surprised that you are confused by the rumor named in your letter.
The right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience is a highly prized feature in our distinctive principles, but the coloring given it in the rumor to which you allude, is as false as it is absurd. Permit me then to set at rest your mind by remarking,
1. This principle among us applies wholly to matters of opinion—not of faith—about which good men and women have differed in every age of the world. To illustrate: Here is a Christian church, of which I have the honor to be pastor. In its membership are two useful Christian men. One of them is a firm believer in the doctrine of predestination. The other is a strong advocate of man's free agency. They both live and work well together in my church, and not a word is said against it. Upon this point and upon kindred subjects, they enjoy the privileges of the fifth cardinal principle of
our church—they have and exercise the right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience, and they are happy.
2. This principle in no way gives the right of private judgment, &c., to our members in questions of morals. It has no reference to morality. A misdemeanor committed in the Christian church is as promptly dealt with as in any other church. The Bible will certainly point it out and condemn it as a misdemeanor, and we take the Bible for our guide. You may rest assured that the Christians will be the last to give disorderly members protection in their sins by any such use or abuse of this grand principle.
3. If he who circulates such rumors should join one of our churches, and then falsify, backbite, get drunk, or steal, we should be pleased to give him a practical refutation of his unholy charges against us as a people—we should open our back door and send him out an expelled member. Then he might judge for himself as to the meaning of this great principle of the Christians.
I hope this answer may serve to correct the rumors to which you allude, and so give your mind relief in that direction, With
many pleasant recollections of your now sainted mother, and with best wishes for yourself, permit me to subscribe myself,
Your sincere friend, T. M. Rickson.
She read the letter, and then took it to her father, saying:
“I thought you were mistaken, in your opinion of the Christians. That letter clears up the case fully.”
“Ah, yes, child, you might have expected him to put it in that way so as to satisfy you long enough to get you to join his church.”
“Indeed, I did not even intimate that I was expecting to join his church. My request was simply for the facts, and he has satisfied me.”
“Then you have fully decided to leave the Baptists and join the O'Kellyites, have you?”
“No, father, I have not left my church—I was driven from it, and that without mercy. But please tell me whom you mean by O'Kellyites?”
“Why I mean that sect you propose to join.”
“But that is not their name; they call themselves Christians—simply that, and nothing more.”
“I call them O'Kellyites—that is good enough for them.”
“Well, I think you might call them by the name they choose to wear. You are a great admirer of the Rev. Dr. Curry, a leading Baptist minister of Virginia, and I heard him say once that it was not right to nick-name any people; that we ought to respect them and ourselves enough to call them by the name they choose to wear. He is good authority among the Baptists. I think he is right.”
“But are you, Iola, going to join them?”
“I think they are the most scriptural of any of the denominations with which I am acquainted, and of course that means I am looking to them for a church home. Yes, my mind is settled on that.”
“Alas, alas!” Mr. Graham exclaimed, and left Iola alone.
That afternoon new light was given. In her mother's trunk Iola found a small book
called “The Declaration of Principles and Form of Government for the Christians.” It was just what she wished, and she eagerly perused it from beginning to end, with the Bible and concordance to test the truth of all she found in its pages. Each step slowly, but surely, confirmed her convictions.
A week later, Mr. Graham was in an unusually pleasant temper, and seemingly much concerned for his daughter's happiness.
“Iola, my child,” he said, “you have been so long at home alone, and under such trying circumstances, would you not like to visit Hollins Institute, and spend a few weeks with your old teachers and school friends?”
This so surprised her that she could not answer at once, remembering, as she must, how her father had been so displeased at her course of late. She could not expect so much kindness. At length she answered:
“Father, many thanks for your kindness, but I do not feel just ready for such a visit.”
She, innocent girl that she was, did not suspect his motive. The truth was, he wished to get her under old influences, where she
had been educated, hoping that she might be induced to renounce the “open communion craze,” as he had not very elegantly expressed it. When she declined he was disappointed.
He decided upon another plan. This time he proposed to take her to visit some of his relatives in the city of R—. Iola still declined, with thanks, assigning as a reason, that she, in her present state of mind, could enjoy retirement more than society. Of course, this was also a disappointment. Iola was his only child—he felt something must be done to save her to the Baptists. His last resort was determined upon only to see it fail. It came in this manner:
“Iola,” said Mr. Graham, “to-morrow I expect company to dine with us. Give us a dinner worthy of our guest and I promise you a handsome present.”
“Who will be the visitor, father?” asked the unsuspecting girl.
“Dr. Jenkins, my pastor,” was the reply. Iola at once saw the plan. She believed, how justly may be determined by the sequel, that Dr. Jenkins had been sent for to make a studied attack upon her open communion
views, and if possible bring her back to the Baptist faith.
Mr. Graham was very agreeable through that day, and the next, till dinner had been served, when he gracefully excused himself to meet a “pressing engagement,” leaving Iola to entertain Dr. Jenkins for the afternoon.Chapter XVI.
IN good faith the innocent girl undertook the task of entertaining the Doctor, though suspecting the end of her father's “pressing engagement.”
Only a few words were exchanged in a general way, when Dr. Jenkins introduced the subject of her recent expulsion from Broad Creek Baptist church. He mildly rebuked her for holding views, which, according to Baptist usage, made her expulsion necessary.
“Dr. Jenkins,” said Iola, “I acted from principle, after a careful and patient study of the Bible touching the whole matter, and
I do not regret the results so far, except, of course, it is unpleasant, painfully so, for a motherless girl, just entering the realm of womanhood, to have to submit to expulsion from her church.”
“My dear young friend,” responded the Doctor, “you have allowed the thoughts and opinions of others under very trying circumstances to work upon your feelings, and finally upon your mind, till you have been led away from your church—the only apostolic church.”
“Beg your pardon, Doctor. You are mistaken. The thoughts of others had nothing to do with my actions. A very bitter personal experience induced me to study God's word. In doing so, I saw clearly the heartless oppression to the conscience of the believer, in the rules of my church. Because I could not endorse such regulations, the church expelled me.”
“But, Miss Iola, you speak in ignorance. A Baptist church is the only scriptural church. If you leave us—.”
“Leave you! I have not left you. The church forced me to leave—the act was not
mine, and, of course, I must have a church home some where.”
“Well, where can you go—what church will you join?”
“When opportunity is given, I expect to join the Christians.”
“Why, I thought you were objecting to us because of what you regard as selfishness in us, and I am sure that sect is the most selfish known among the denominations.”
“How do you make that, Doctor?”
“Why their very name shows it, they call themselves the Christian church, and thereby imply that other churches are not Christian. If there be any deeper selfishness than that, I have not found it.”
“I am sorry you are not better informed, Doctor.”
“What do you mean, Miss?”
“I mean simply this: When you say the Christians in any way intimate that they only are disciples of Christ you show a lack of information not creditable to a minister of your standing. So far from what you claim, the contrary is true. They recognize and fellowship as brethren all who give a credible evidence of a christian life.
They are also anxious that all followers of the Saviour should recognize themselves as christians.”
Recognize themselves as christians? What do you mean?”
“I mean you do not recognize your people as Christians, but as Baptists.”
“There you are far from the truth,” answered the Doctor. “We do recognize ourselves as christians, but then we call ourselves Baptists.”
“But, Doctor, can there be any good in that?”
“Oh, yes!—it is distinctive.”
“How is it distinctive?”
“Why, in this way, it separates us from the rest of God's people.”
“But, sir, what good can there be in that?”
“What good in it? Why it keeps us to ourselves—separated from christians who differ from us.”
“What can that accomplish?”
“Oh, it helps us to preserve our identity and keeps the Baptists in tact.”
“How long will it do that, you think?”
“Till—, well, a-h-e-m! I-I-I-I don't know,” doubtfully answered the preacher.
“Certainly not when you enter Heaven, for I heard Dr. Hartwell, a missionary to China, while on a visit to this country, describe the death bed scene of a Presbyterian missionary in that far-off land. He represented him as a christian soldier dying in the triumphs of a living faith. He believed that Presbyterian went to Heaven, or he did not believe his own statement. Again, I heard a leading Baptist minister speak of a Methodist layman, who had just died, as “a warm hearted christian man, whose life bore living testimony to the truth and purity of his work and character in Christ.” Said the Baptist minister, “I believe he is at rest. He was ready and willing to depart and be with Christ.” Now, Doctor, I should like to know what good your people can get from a name which, at best, can only serve to keep you separated from other disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
“I admit some are saved who are not Baptists, but we think our duty requires us to walk only with them with whom we are agreed.”
“That, Doctor, reminds me of the ‘whims’ of two families of boys, who would not associate
together while in the preparatory school, though they knew when they entered the higher school they would be compelled to associate. In this probationary state—in this life, where all Christians are preparing for Heaven—the Baptists will not fellowship the larger portion of those whose robes have been washed and made whiter than snow in that fountain opened for sin and uncleanness,—the blood of Jesus,—although they know in Heaven they will fellowship the very saints whom on earth they refused.”
“It may seem inconsistent to you, but we, at any rate, are satisfied. Our methods and regulations suit our purposes quite well.”
“I admit that; but tell me, does it suit God to have a part of his children, for whom Christ died, act in that way towards others, for whose salvation Christ also died?
“Further, Doctor, when you married you were the bridegroom and your wife the bride. Then the wife was married to the bridegroom; and as such what was she called, by her maiden name, or was she called Mrs. Jenkins, in honor of the bridegroom to whom she had been married?”
“Why, Mrs. Jenkins, of course.”
“Now, then, do not the scriptures represent Christ as the bridegroom and the Church as his bride? As such, is not the Church married to Christ?”
“Certainly; that is a plain Biblical fact, but what of it?”
“Well, if the Church, the bride, is married to Christ, the bridegroom, ought not the Church to be called in the name of the groom?”
“That depends,” said the Doctor—
“Upon what?” quickly asked Iola.
“If the heart be right, it matters little as to what name is worn.”
“Oh, yes! I see now—I understand what you mean. If your wife is in heart devoted to you, that is all that is necessary; she need not wear your name, some other man's name will do just as well for her.”
“A-h-e-m, not exactly—I did not mean just that.”
“Ah! Indeed, the case is parallel—the principle is just the same. I think the Saviour has more right to complain at his church for not wearing his name than you would if your wife should refuse to be
called Mrs. Jenkins and claim to be Mrs. Joy. I think you would justly complain, and yet that is just what your people do; being Christ's bride, they refuse to be called by his name, and call themselves Baptists.”
“Well, I believe the name Baptist is right, and that is enough.”
“Right, did you say, Doctor? Then all I ask, to justify your claim, is to show me Bible authority for it—name the book, chapter and verse where it may be found, and I will yield.”
“But I told you we claim to be Christians, though we call ourselves Baptists.”
“Now I see your case exactly. Mr. Edison invented an electric machine, and he put his name on it. In a few weeks another man took Mr. Edison's machine and put his name over that of the inventor, so obscuring it and giving prominence to the name of the second man. Was there any justice in that?” asked Iola.
“Certainly not. It was down right injustice.”
“Yes, I think so. But, Doctor, is not that what your people are doing? Jesus Christ established his church and put his name on it.
Now you leave his name there and brand over it the word Baptist, thereby well nigh bringing into disuse among your people the name Christian, and making very prominent the name Baptist.”
“Why not that way?”
“My dear sir, is there any comparison? The name Christian is in honor of Him who suffered and died for our salvation, while the name Baptist simply points to an ordinance in the church.”Chapter XVII.
BUT what is in a name? ‘A rose called by another name smells just as sweet.’ So, though a christian be called Baptist, he may be just as good as if he were called by the proper name.”
“A sin is a sin,” said Iola. “If I call a rose a lilac that may not change its sweet fragrance, but it does misrepresent both the rose and the lilac, and a misrepresentation is a lie, I say it advisedly. So if the flower smells as sweet, that gives us no right to
name it falsely. Besides, what is the necessity for such a change? If a rose is a rose, why call it a lilac? So, if a man is a christian what benefit is gained by calling him a Baptist?”
“With me it is a notion that suits me—I am satisfied.”
“So you claim to be one thing and wish to appear to be another,—that is, you profess to be a christian but you prefer to be known as a Baptist.”
“Well, what if I do?” asked the Doctor.
“Why the etymology of the two words shows that they cannot possibly mean the same thing. A Baptist is one character and a christian is another, etymologically speaking,” said the young girl.
“As to the etymology that may be, but usage has made the word Baptist mean a follower of Christ.”
“But, sir, shall usage supplant words and forms of speech that are directly from the Master? What Paul said to Timothy, did he not also say to you?—“Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me!”
“What do you mean by words directly from the Master?”
Doctor, I hold that the Bible shows us that God's people ought to be called Christians, after Christ, and not Baptists, after an ordinance of the church.”
“You are very positive. How do you know that your statement is true?”
“Well, sir, since I was expelled from the Baptists because of my open communion views, I have studied the matter very carefully and prayerfully and I am satisfied the Bible justifies that statement.”
“Can you show me how it does that—how the Bible shows that God wishes his people to be called Christians?” evidently believing that the young girl had made the statement without comprehending its scope.
“I think I can,” she answered: “In Acts 11: 26, latter clause, are these words: ‘And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” ’
“Bless the child,” said the Doctor, “that is just what I expected you to say. That is a misapplication of the scripture, for the name was given to the disciples by their enemies in derision, and was never intended by God to be a name for his people.”
“I think you are mistaken, Doctor. The Greek translated “were called,” in the text just quoted, shows it was done by divine direction. Elsewhere, too, the same Greek word, chrematizo, is used to express that which is done by divine authority. It is nowhere used in the scriptures in any other sense.”
“Are you sure of that? Do you know Greek?”
“I have studied Greek some, so I am sure I am right. You may take your Greek Testament and you will find what I have said is true. I will help you. Turn to Matt. 2:12, 22; Acts 10:22; Heb. 8:5, Heb. 11:7. In all these passages the root of this word is used, in one form or another and shows that the action was of divine authority.”
“Upon examination I find that is true, except the word Theou—“of God”—is not in the Greek at all, so you fail to show what you claim.”
Yes, Doctor, but in every passage I have quoted our translators supplied it, as though it were there, and properly so, I think, for the words used in these various passages,
meaning to give divine sanction, instruction or authority, clearly imply the phrase “of God.” If this is done in the passages quoted—and it is—why not supply it also in Acts 11:26 where the same Greek word is used? Then it would read: “And the disciples were called of God Christians first in Antioch.”
“That is quite well done for a girl, but you leave a doubt,—ought that “of God” to be supplied at all?”
“I think so, Doctor, but I can manage facts better than I can Greek, and I think you can understand them as well. So I will sustain my Greek by showing you that the giving of the name Christian is a fulfillment of prophecy.”
“A fulfillment of prophecy, indeed! Where is the prophecy? Show it to me.”
In Isaiah 62: 1, 2, the Prophet is foretelling the establishment of Christ's kingdom in the world—when the Gentiles shall be admitted into his church. In the second verse the prophet says:
“And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth
of the Lord shall name.” “Beyond all reasonable doubt this refers to the opening of the church of God to the Gentiles.”
“I grant that, but what if it does?”
“Very much, sir. Go with me now, Doctor, to Acts 10: 45, last clause. It reads: * * * “On the Gentiles also was poured out the Holy Ghost,” clearly proving that this was the time to which Isaiah alluded in the passage quoted above. In the next chapter and verse 26, immediately following the introduction of the Gentiles into the gospel church, the new name which the Lord had promised, in connection with his righteousness, was given—and the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. This was done, if we may believe the words of the prophet and the meaning of the Greek, by divine authority or direction. Then if the Greek translated “were called,” shows that the calling was done by divine authority; and if the prophet said the Gentiles should be admitted into the Church of Christ, and that then a new name should be given his people by the mouth of the Lord; and, if the Gentiles were admitted at that time, and the name Christian was given just
then to the disciples, I ask, in all candor, does not the Bible sustain me when I say God's people ought to be called Christians?”
“I must confess, Iola, that there is more scriptural ground for your position than I had known before. I never saw that prophecy and its fulfillment in that light. If you are right, I am quite sure there was a reason for the new name. God does nothing without a reason. So far I have never seen any reason for a new name.”
“Oh! there is a reason, and a very good one, Doctor.”
“Well, let me have it then.”
“You know the Jews and Gentiles hated each other. When the Gentiles came into the church it introduced not only a new, but an objectionable, element. The Gentiles would certainly not be willing to be called Jews, and the Jews would not be willing to be called Gentiles, hence, in order to have peace in a church composed of both Jews and Gentiles, old party names must be given up and some new name substituted—one to which neither Jew nor Gentile could object. The new name Christian was therefore given.
It was given by the mouth of the Lord, because, if a Jew had given it, the Gentiles would not have worn it; and, if by a Gentile, the Jews would not. When the mouth of the Lord named the Church, none wished to object—1. Because of the Author of the name; and 2, because of the name itself. It had no Jewish feature in it, nor did it savor of heathenism. It swept clear of sects and parties, and pointed only to Christ. Here the God-given name has a decided advantage over sect and party names. Take for an example the name Baptist. It represents but one idea, and that belonging to controversials theology; it unduly exalts an ordinance in the church, and has under usage come to be suggestive of strife and contention. But the name Christian represents all that is precious in Christianity, and calls up before the mind God in his love, Christ in his self-sacrifice, Christian fellowship with its tender and elevating influences, and Heaven in all its glory. Around it clusters all that is grand and inspiring in the whole system of salvation.”
“I confess,” said the Doctor, “you have shown your side to decided advantage. But
it is not practicable, for usage has made other names more common appellations for the people of God, so I do not see how you can hope to stand with so much against you.”
“Indeed, sir, I think I can hope to stand with the Bible. I have regarded Baptists as staunch defenders of the Bible, noted for taking what it says. Now if the Bible does not authorize your name, how can you wear it with an easy conscience?”
“We have no trouble on that point, though the Bible may not authorize the name Baptist as it does Christian.”
“If you admit that, then you ought to do as I have done, and mean to do, renounce the name Baptist and wear only the name Christian. If the Bible does not authorize the name we should not use it. Devout and great men, even in the earliest times have expressed clearly this opinion. Cyprian, one of the Latin fathers said: “God has testified that we are to do those things that are written; whence have you that tradition?” Cyril, who lived in the fourth century, said: “It behooveth us not to believe the very least thing of the sacred mysteries of faith
without the Holy Scriptures.” Jerome, who lived in the fifth century, said: “Those things which without the authority of the scriptures, men invent of their own heads, as from Apostolic traditions, are smitten of God.” One of the martyrs of olden times said; “I had rather follow the shadow of Christ than the body of all the general councils or doctors, since the death of Christ.” So, Doctor, if the scriptures do not authorize the name Baptist, I do not see how you can consistently wear it, knowing that the name Christian was given by the mouth of the Lord. We ought not to fight against God.”
“Oh, you ought not to clamor so much for the name Christian—that belongs to us all.”
“Yes, Doctor, I gladly admit that, but why do you not wear it since it is yours?”
“Because other names suit us better. Besides Baptist is a scriptural name. I can show you my authority from the Bible for that.”
“Please do so, Doctor, I am anxious to see it.”
“Very well. Turn to Matt. 3 : 1. John is spoken of as a Baptist. He had many
disciples and of course they were Baptists, too.”
“I admit all of that, but the point you make is against you.”
“How, I would be glad to know?”
Well, in this way: John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, hence his work was not under the Christian dispensation at all. Then John's disciples were not converts to Christ.”
“How do you know they were not?”
“I know it, sir, because the Bible tells me they were not.”
“Please give me book, chapter and verse.”
“Read Acts 19: 1-6, sir. That will satisfy you beyond question.”
Turning to it, he read:
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he (Paul) said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John's baptism. Then said Paul,
John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied.”
“Do you believe it now, Doctor?” she asked with the brightness of conscious victory beaming from her eyes.
“Yes, you are right there, they were simply disciples of John the Baptist.”
“Now, then, your scriptural authority for wearing the name Baptist, please?”
“There is no Biblical authority, I believe, but the devotion with which our people have fought for baptism by immersion entitles us to the name.”
“Then it is the devotion of your people to immersion, as the mode of baptism, that gives them the Baptist name, and not the Bible. As a name it simply expresses their relationship to baptism.”
“I will admit that?”
“That is not Bible doctrine. I wish to
join a church whose name is expressive of the relationship we bear to Christ, as the Saviour of the world—a name given by the mouth of the Lord. I hope soon to be a member of a church whose name is all of that.”
“But the name is of little consequence, if the heart is right in the sight of the Lord.”
“Do you mean to say the name chosen by the mouth of the Lord is of little consequence?”
“I would not say that, but I think I can serve the Lord and be called a Baptist.”
“So can your bosom companion be your wife and yet wear a name not your own, but that would not please you. You see a name does mean something.”
“Oh! that is all a notion of yours, Iola.”
“Perhaps it is, but let us examine the matter. When I say George Washington, what do I mean?”
“You mean the first President of the United States.”
“How do you know I do?”
“Because the name shows it.”
“But, Doctor, did you not say a name meant nothing?”
“I did, but of course, in this case it does mean a certain character.”
“If so in this, why not in other cases?”
“To a certain extent it is, but any other man might be called George Washington and then it would not mean the same thing.”
“That but confirms the idea I am presenting. I claim that the character of the first President of the United States gives a meaning and power to his name, and then that name becomes his representative. So the character of a christian and the name combined gives meaning and power, and that name becomes the representative of the pure and godly life of the person wearing it. The name of a follower of Christ does mean something.”
“I think you are making a hobby of the name idea,” said Dr. Jenkins.
“Before you condemn me, let me illustrate my idea yet further. When I speak of an American, whom do you understand me to mean, Doctor?”
“Certainly a native or naturalized citizen of America.”
“But how do you know that I do not
mean a native and present resident of France?”
“Oh! that is clear enough. You never could get the name American to mean a Frenchman.”
“Why not, sir?”
“Because the name shows what is meant?”
“But you say a name signifies little.”
“That is true in some cases, while in others its meaning is plain.”
“I see now,” said Iola, “you mean to say that it matters little as to what a boy is named; John or William will not change his character, but when the name is the outgrowth of one's character or nationality, as in the case of an American, the name does signify very much. Is that your idea, Doctor?”
“Very well, sir. Is not the name Christian the outgrowth of the character of the person wearing it?”
“Certainly it is.”
“Then you admit that the name Christian does signify much?”
“I cheerfully admit that it signifies a follower of Christ, Iola.”
May I ask you, Doctor, is not the name Baptist of the same class of names as that of Christian? That is, it is the outgrowth of distinctive features in the character of the person wearing it.”
“That is true, my young friend. I think you begin to see the matter in its proper light.”
“So you admit that the name Baptist, as applied to your people, does signify very much?”
“Yes, indeed. It signifies”—
“But stop, if you please, Doctor. I wish to ask you to give the significance of the name Baptist, both from the etymology of the word and from the character of those wearing it.”
“I will do so with pleasure, and to make the matter short, from both standpoints, it simply means a believer in baptism by immersion.”
“That is it, sir, I suppose. Now I have the difference in the people represented by the two names as taken down from your own lips. You say:
“A christian is a follower of Christ.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“And you also say that a Baptist is a believer in baptism by immersion only.”
“That is correct, also.”
“Now, then, which would you prefer, to be known as a follower of Christ, or as a believer in baptism by immersion only? You see the name of the follower of Christ—christian—points to Christ as the central thought of our hope of salvation; while the name of the believer in baptism by immersion only—Baptist—points to baptism as the central idea of that people, without necessary reference to Christ or christianity.”
“You must give me a little time to consider my answer to that point. I wish always to be found on the side of the Saviour.”Chapter XVIII.
THEN, Doctor, while you consider, I will say this: According to your statement of the significance of these names, and I think you are right, the name Baptist draws attention
away from Jesus and fixes it on a mere religious rite, and this rite may be christian or heathen, while the name Christian, chosen and given by the mouth of the Lord, points the believer away from earth and self to Christ and Heaven. I rejoice in the hope of soon being a member of a church whose name cannot be misunderstood by any English speaking people, for the English language cannot prevent the name Christian from meaning a follower of Christ. Other denominations may mislead by wearing party names, since the English meaning of their names indicate, as they do, merely human organizations. For instance, the name Lutheran means a follower of Luther. Episcopalian implies an adherent to a form of government, etc. These names are confusing and misleading. They are wholly unnecessary, when we have given us by the mouth of the Lord, a name at once beautiful and so expressive of our relationship to Christ—Christian. I am thrilled at the thought, and I wonder who, that feels his or her sins forgiven, could look Jesus in the face and say I am a Baptist, or
Lutheran, or Episcopalian, rather than say I am a Christian?”
“But, Iola, you must remember we need some distinctive name, and Christian is not distinctive.”
“Alas! my dear sir, there are but two classes in the world, Christians and sinners, and when a person is a Christian I think that sufficiently tells where he is and to which class he belongs—it is simple and plain—it is enough. God gave his church this new name, and placed it above party influences, outside of ordinances or forms of government, knowing how hurtful these would be to his cause. He therefore gave a name truly and strictly in honor of the great Head of the Church—Jesus Christ.”
“You seem to think the name Christian worn by the church militant would add much to its peace and harmony.”
“Yes, if, in wearing it, they would do so exclusively—leaving off the names of parties and sects. There is no question but that the name of a people does more to bring harmony of opinion among them than any other one thing. It is a well known fact, Doctor, that your people—the Baptists—are
far from being united on many important points of doctrine, and yet under the name Baptist they live in peace among themselves. Let me illustrate my idea: A comes into your church. He believes the doctrine of free grace, rejecting predestination. He is an immersionist, and nothing is said: you fellowship him—he is a brother. Now here is another disciple, B. He is a Methodist, but believes in baptism by immersion, was immersed by a descendant of Ezekiel Holliman, baptistically speaking, but does not believe in predestination. With him the Baptist brethren often dispute on that subject, accusing him of unsoundness in the faith. Now, why this difference in their conduct toward A and B? Both believe in free grace, and both believe in and practice immersion. Then, why is it? Manifestly because one is called Baptist and the other Methodist. I am quite sure if all had been called Christian, there would have been no trouble, or strife, or division among them. This establishes my claim—party names in the church lead to strife and division and sin. In fact, I believe party names are a curse to the church to-day, just as the
Jewish name was to the Jews when they refused to accept the new name which the mouth of the Lord had given them. In Isaiah 65: 15 (read the whole chapter), he says to these unbelieving Jews: “And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen, for the Lord God shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name”—Christian. So, Doctor, I feel that the disciples of Jesus who to-day hold on to these party names instead of accepting the God-given name, find them a curse to their spiritual life, in the strife and division kept up among God's children.”
“Then you believe the name is a power for good or bad, for union or disunion.”
“Yes, sir. Were all God's people to-day called by the new name, divinely given as it is, in all probability nine-tenths of the division and strife among the various churches would never be heard of again. Of this the Christian Church furnishes a beautiful example.”
“I do not see how it does,” added the Doctor.
“In this way, sir. The motto of the organization is this: ‘In Essentials, Unity; in
Non-essentials, Liberty; in all things, Charity.’ You see we all accept the essential or fundamental doctrines of the Bible as one man; but when mere matters of opinion touching minor points come up, we give all liberty. They study and decide these matters for themselves, meanwhile we endeavor to be charitable to all and under all circumstances. In matters of opinion they differ often, in kindness, but in these they are as far from doctrinal strife and division as the east is from the west Their success in this is due largely to the fact that they wear the name of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named—Christian.”
“But as I have before said, Iola, taste has much to do with a name.”
“Can you tell me, Doctor, a name that would be in better taste; a name more appropriate for the disciples of Christ—than Christian?”
“Of course it is in good taste, even appropriate. Since you seem so wedded to this new faith, please tell me something of its history and leading principles outside of the name.”
“I will do so. From what I can gather
the organization dates from Aug. 4, 1794. Rev. James O'Kelly, a giant among the Methodist preachers in his day, found the autocratic powers of the Bishop so distasteful to his sense of liberty in Christ that he withdrew from those brethren, and, after various conference meetings without any permanent organization, in a meeting held at Lebanon church in Surry county, Va., on the 4th day of August 1794, Rev. Rice Haggard arose and proposed that the brethren adopt the name Christian to the exclusion of all party or sectarian names, and so put themselves on scriptural grounds. The motion prevailed and the few followers of Christ went out from that meeting determined no more to wear a sect name. A short time after this a similar movement among the Presbyterians in the west followed, and the same is true of the Baptists of New England. Thus it seems that a great upheaval against bigotry was in progress. The Methodists of the south, the Presbyterians of the west and the Baptists of New England, were moving to a common center. At length each movement heard of the other. A mutual correspondence followed, and, strange
as it may seem, when these Methodists and Presbyterians and Baptists came together they found that they were already one in Christ. From the year 1800 to this present time they have labored for the spread of the gospel among men without the help of a sectarian name. They have labored in the unity of the spirit, showing that no reason exists why Baptists and Presbyterians and other sects may not unite in christian work under the divinely appointed name Christian. In this respect no movement since the days of Martyn Luther has been more remarkable, in fact it is perhaps without a parallel since the day of Pentecost when Parthians, Medes and Elamites, with many others, under the spirit's influence came together and with one accord labored for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. So the movement from its very incipiency seemed to gather to itself men of different sect views, so pointing to the healing of the wounds strife and division had made in the church of Christ.”
“That is remarkable, Iola, to say the least of it, if it be true.”
“If it be true! The facts I have given
you, history will sustain without a doubt.”
“But, Iola, I am anxious to know something of their leading principles. Principles are of more vital importance to you in this instance than history. A pretty history does not signify soundness of faith.”
“Well, Doctor, I will take pleasure in discussing with you their cardinal principles. They hold that as followers of our Lord they ought to show their love to God and men and their relationship and faithfulness to Christ in their name, practice, character and principles.
“So they start out with the following:
I. Christ is the only Head of the church.
II. We wear no name but Christian.
III. The Bible is our guide and only rule of faith and practice.
IV. Christian character is our only test of fellowship and of church membership.
V. The right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience is accorded to all.”
“Well, Iola, do I understand you to say that you can join the Christians simply upon the basis of a christian character, regardless of the candidate's views of baptism and the Lord's supper?”
“Yes, sir. If a man gives a credible evidence of his acceptance with God and lives a christian life so far as can be known from his daily walk, they receive him without prescribing the mode of his baptism. After he has joined the church he can be baptized by immersion, or pouring, or sprinkling, as his conscience may demand.”
“I am surprised at you, Iola.”
“You were raised by a Baptist father, educated in a Baptist school, baptized in a Baptist church, and now to think of joining a people, holding such views, I am surprised at you!”
“Well, sir, will you please state your ob jections to this people?”
“They are many. Christian character is a good thing, but other things can not be neglected. Baptism is essential to church membership.”
“Where is your authority for this statement?”
“The ordinance was instituted for that purpose and should be so observed. When you receive a man by pouring or sprinkling, you violate God's law.”
I do not think that is true. The Bible nowhere says so, and besides, I have good baptist authority for my side of the question. John Bunyan was a grand good man and a Baptist. He says in his: ‘A Reason of My Practice in Worship,’ there is none debarred, nor threatened to be cut off from the church if they be not baptized; neither doth it give to the person baptized a being of membership with this or that church by whose members he was baptized.” ’
“But, Iola, he was not a good Baptist—he was unsound in our faith.”
“Yea, I dare say he was not, but he was a good christian and sound in the faith once delivered to the saints. I think his opinions are sustained by the Bible and accord with the spirit of christianity.”
“Immersion only is baptism.”
“Can you, Doctor, give me one case of baptism by immersion, as administered by the disciples of Jesus?”
“Certainly, a dozen if you wish them.”
“One will do, sir.”
“Very well,—turn to Acts 8:38, here we find that Phillip baptized the Eunuch.”
“Was it by immersion?”
“Certainly—no doubt about that.”
“How do you know?”
“Because it says so. Baptized means immersed.”
“If so, then the baptism of the Eunuch presents a remarkable case,” said Iola.
“How is it remarkable?”
“Well, sir, if the unwritten law of Masonry should direct its chief officer to receive new members under certain forms and ceremonies, do you think he would receive them according to directions, or would he choose some new plan of his own?”
“Of course, he would follow the unwritten law, but what can that have to do with the question under consideration?”
“Very much, perhaps. Philip was preaching to the Eunuch, not from an unwritten law, but from the written. The Eunuch was reading from the prophecy of Isaiah. The passage was this: ‘He (Christ) was led as a sheep to the slaughter, etc.’ We are then told that Philip began at this same scripture and preached unto him Jesus, after which the Eunuch was baptized. Now in the very same paragraph—in the latter part of the preceding chapter—the prophet is
telling of the work Jesus will do when he comes, and he says, “So shall he (Christ) sprinkle many nations”—Isaiah 52:15.
“Now the Eunuch learned his duty from Philip. Philip's text was taken from a paragraph in the scriptures in which it is declared that Jesus shall sprinkle many nations, etc.”—that is under the gospel dispensation. So I say it would be indeed remarkable, if with a written law declaring in favor of sprinkling, and Philip preaching from that law, the Eunuch should learn of immersion as the only door into the church. With this law written so plainly, it is hard to see how it is so much misunderstood. It is hard to see how Philip could teach from that scripture immersion, and yet harder to see how the Eunuch ever learned immersion to be the only mode of baptism; still just after reading it and hearing a sermon preached from it he was baptized—how?”
“Oh! Isaiah is talking of another matter there.”
“No sir, I maintain that the meaning of the Hebrew word here translated “sprinkle,” is to sprinkle with water as a symbol of
purification. This answers to our idea of baptism.”
“But I insist that immersion is essential to church membership. The Bible says so,” he declared.
“I see you do not answer my arguments, Doctor, before you go on to something else. Is it because you can not?”
“No, but I insist that the Bible is with me.”
“Very well, but please tell me how Philip and the Eunuch made that word sprinkle mean immerse?”
“I am following the New Testament, myself.”
“Does that sustain you? If so, where?”
“It does, Iola. In Mark 16: 16, we read: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ ”
“Yes sir, but it does not say that because one is not baptized he shall be lost. It says that only of those who do not believe. So belief, and not baptism, is essential to salvation, and the Christians are noted as believers. As to pouring and sprinkling I do
not see that the passage you quote from Mark is against either.”
“Indeed, Iola! I am surprised, pained, to hear such language fall from your lips. Baptize means to immerse.”
“Perhaps, but you have not yet shown me how Philip and the Eunuch made sprinkle mean immerse.”
“The Greek word baptidzo means immerse only, and that is enough.”
“I question that, too, Doctor.”
“What, in the face of the word itself? Modern scholarship and the learned men of all denominations, agree that it means immerse.”
“Now, Doctor, I have two things to say. First as to the learned men. I have heard that time and again. I use to think it was true. I have enquired, and the statement is not supported by facts. The learned men of other denominations do not agree to such a thing. As to the meaning of the word itself, I wish to say that upon actual examination of Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon, I find it means to dip repeatedly, to dip, to pour, to sprinkle. With all these meanings coming to us from the
Greek, the Christians say it is impossible for human learning to determine positively the mode of baptism. Good and great men have always differed here. So there is no reasonable hope of agreement. Hence they allow the liberty of conscience as to the mode, and they avoid the bitter strife which controversy on that subject is sure to bring.”
“But, pray tell me what has baptism to do with the conscience? It is a command and not a matter of conscience at all,” said he, with emphasis.
“Peter differs from you about that. In 1 Peter 3: 21, we read that it is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Hence the Christians say to applicants for membership in their church: As to the mode of baptism, that is a point of controversy about which the best scholars differ widely. We, therefore, urge you to study your Bible carefully and prayerfully, form your own opinions, and in the fear of God be baptized by the mode which satisfies your conscience. Really, sir, you must admit they have grounds upon which to stand.”
“It may be good ground for them, but not for me.”
“But, Doctor, we cannot be the judge of another's conscience—before God he will stand or fall. So, when one asks for baptism by pouring or sprinkling, and pleads as his right to do so the passage from Peter, how can you deny him, his life being that of a christian?”
“We deny him because we do not believe his views are correct—he is wrong.”
“Then to come into your church you would require him to be baptized on your faith and not on his.”
“We do not ask that, but we do not baptize him.”
“Then you would turn away from God's church one of God's children—send him to live and associate with the world, out from the influences of the church; and all this, not because he is not known to be a godly man, nor yet because he does not believe in baptism, for he does, but simply because he does not understand the mode of baptism as you do. On the other hand, here is a man who upon profession of faith is immersed, joins your church, and you fellowship him, though you know, as between the two, the christian character of the rejected man is far
more consistent than that of the one you received. You see you rejected the first, not because he was not a christian, but because he could not follow you as touching the mode of baptism, while you accepted the other, not because his life was exemplary as a christian, but because he followed you in the mode of baptism. Now, Doctor, tell me candidly, what do you think Jesus would say to such conduct as that on the part of his people?”
“I am sure I have no means of knowing.”
“I think I have, Doctor; for in Mark 9:38, we find an incident which illustrates how Jesus felt about it.”
“To what do you allude?”
“Why, to this, John went to Jesus and said: ‘Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him, because he followeth not us.’ ”
“Then Jesus said: ‘Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.’ ”
“That was a different case.”
“Certainly it was, Doctor, but the principle is just the same; and I think if you
should go and tell Jesus that you had refused to allow a certain child of God to come into his church simply because he did not follow your views of the mode of baptism, he would in like manner say: ‘Let him come into the fold, and forbid him not.’ ”
“That is your view of it, Iola—that is all.”
“Yes, sir, and it seems to have been the Saviour's view, too.”
“I wish to give you a case which I personally know to be true,” continued Iola. “I know a prominent Baptist who had in his employ a devoted member of a pedobaptist church. The employer spoke in my presence of the high christian character of the man. He died a short while ago. His employer was much grieved on account of his death, and said, with feeling: ‘He was a christian man, and died in the triumphs of a living faith, ready to meet his God in peace.’ Now, while all this was true, the Baptist employer would not meet this christian at the Lord's table as a brother in Christ. The man was buried, and a Baptist man was put into his place. I heard the employer say that his new foreman was presumptuous in a high degree, puffed up, and
unreliable; and yet he was a member of the Baptist church in good and regular standing. With these facts known to him, the Baptist employer did not hesitate to meet this man at the Lord's table as a brother. I know this is not a supposed case—it came under my own observation, and I here vouch for the truth of the same. The pedobaptist, though rich in christian experience, could not be recognized as a christian at the Lord's table, but this unchristian-like character, because he had been immersed, was made welcome in the church. This makes me say: You rejected the first, not because he was not a christian, but because he did not follow you; and you accepted the second, not because of his godly life, but because he followed you in the mode of baptism. Is it not so?”
“He ought to be baptized by immersion nevertheless, before coming into the church of Christ, as a member.”Chapter XIX.
I WISH you to answer this question: Was the principle, governing the case I gave, right?”
“I am not the judge, Iola; but after all, I do not see how you can admit people to the Lord's table before they are baptized.”
“Well, sir, I had said nothing about that; but if you cannot answer the case just given, I will talk on baptism and the communion.”
“I will wait till another time to answer you.”
“That is the easiest way out of the dilemma, Doctor; for the Bible will certainly give you no answer. In this respect you represent the Baptists—you do not like to have these questions agitated, and I dare say it is best for your cause to leave them in silence.”
“Do what! Who is afraid to meet any question pertaining to Baptists’ views? Not I. Not my people, if you please.”
“Very well, I am ready to talk with you,
Doctor, the best I can, on the communion question.”
“I understand you are going to unite with the Christians because they practice open communion.”
“That is true, sir.”
“But, my dear young friend, how can you so violate the Bible order of the ordinances?”
“I am not aware of doing so, Doctor.”
“Aware or not, you do it.”
“How? What is the gospel order?”
“It is repentance, faith, baptism and then communion.”
“Let us,” said the Doctor,” read Acts 2: 42: ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and prayers.’ That is Bible order.”
Why, my dear sir, there is no close communion there. The sacred writer says not a word of the relation of the two ordinances, but that they continued in the apostle's doctrine. The apostles, not one of them, ever said we must be baptized before we can go to the Lord's table, but one did say, let a man examine himself and so eat of that bread and drink of that cup. Besides if you
make that the order of a religious life, you will have to be steadfast in doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, all before you could pray. Now it seems to me prayer belongs in the very beginning of a christian life—even people in seeking Christ before they have accepted Him, pray. See Luke 18: 13.
“But Jesus taught that baptism must precede communion.”
“Where is that Doctor?”
“I do not remember just now, but look it up—you can find it.”
“Doctor, you must do your own looking; when you point out the book, chapter and verse to me, then I will look. Till then, however, I shall claim there is no authority for that view in the Bible.”
“Why do you so much object to close communion, Iola?”
“Plainly because it is unscriptural and unchristian-like, besides it makes your church appear as unchristianizing a large portion of God's people.”
“But Christ did not say do this in rememberance of each other, but this do in rememberance of me.” Then would you change this solemn memorial of the sufferings
and death of Christ into a mere symbol of fellowship? No my young friend, your zeal may lead you too far. Whatever else we may do or fail to do, we must do this in remembrance of Christ.”
“I agree to all that, Doctor; so far I think you are right. Now, please tell me why it is when Baptists do this in remembrance of Christ that they are unwilling to allow other christians to join them in celebrating the Supper in remembrance of Christ also? Please answer me.”
“But you do it in remembrance of each other.”
“Give me one case where that is true?”
“Oh, there are many of them!”
Well, if so many, just give me the name of one?
“I do not just now recall one.”
“I think you do not, Doctor, for I never heard of a church celebrating the Lord's Supper in remembrance of each other, except through you. The truth is other churches no more do it than the Baptists do. That is the way you seek to mislead. You claim that others pervert it in use and purpose and therefore you can not invite them,
but that is a sad mistake, and I still wish to know why you refuse to permit other christians to join you when you partake of the Lord's Supper in remembrance of Christ? Baptists and Methodists, for instance, both do it in remembrance of Christ, they are both his children. Then why not commemorate his sufferings and death like brethren together?
“Well, I assert that the communion is a memorial of Christ, a communion with him, and not a mark of fellowship with christians.”
“I again admit that. Please excuse me and permit a personal question. Do you feel that by the grace of God you are a christian?”
“Exactly; so do I. Now please tell me why we may not together go to the Lord's Supper and partake of the emblems, since we both do it as his children in remembrance of Him?”
“Well, we do not invite all christians to commune with us, because that is a perversion of the ordinance and a violation of the command, “This do in remembrance of me.”
“To whom was that command given?”
“To his disciples, of course.”
“Certainly. Then if I am a disciple of Jesus what right have you to keep me from going to his table to commemorate his sufferings and death?”
“We ask only such as have been converted and baptized to come to the supper.”
“Such only as have been converted! Ah! I see now, you propose not only to believe for yourself, but for others, too. That was not Paul's idea. He said: ‘Let a man examine himself.’ Paul also said: But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.’ I fully believe that all whose christian character is unquestioned ought to be permitted to do this in remembrance of Christ. Show me one word of scripture against this, please.”
“But it is no test of christian character.”
“I know that, Doctor, but it is a brotherly and Christ-like recognition of christian character.”
“Admit that to be true and yet we must
preserve the scriptural order of the ordinances.”
“Scriptural order of the ordinances, what do you mean by that?”
“We mean baptism first and the Lord's Supper second. That is the way they were given to us.”
“I have heard that plea all my life, as a Baptist, but since I have studied the subject for myself, I know you are greatly mistaken. That is not the scriptural order at all.”
“What is, then?”
“Why the Lord's Supper was instituted before christian baptism. If you mean to follow the Bible order, you should all partake of the Supper before baptism.”
“Nonsense! Iola, where did you get such an idea?”
“From excellent authority, the Bible.”
“Impossible! The Bible teaches nothing of the sort.”
“Yes it does, and you will not deny it, I think, after seeing it for yourself.”
“Now, Doctor, will you tell me when christian baptism—not John's baptism—was instituted?”
“It was instituted when John baptized Christ.”
“No, sir, you are certainly mistaken—that was only John's baptism. Paul did not recognize it as christian baptism; on the contrary, in Acts 19: 3—6, he disowns it, and the disciples turned away from it, and were baptized with christian baptism.”
“I believe that is a fact; but it does not show what you have claimed, that the Lord's Supper was instituted before christian baptism.”
“When was christian baptism instituted, Doctor?”
“According to Paul, it must have been when the Holy Ghost was given, as it seems that was lacking in the first baptism of the disciples, in Acts 19: 3-6.”
“When was the Holy Ghost given, Doctor?”
“It was given on the day of Pentecost, of course.”
“Yes, I agree to that. Now, please tell me when was the Lord's Supper instituted?”
“Why, on the night of the betrayal of the Saviour.”
“Exactly so. Christian baptism was instituted
on the day of Pentecost, and the Lord's Supper was instituted on the night of the betrayal of Jesus, or just fifty days before christian baptism. So, if the Baptists would follow the Bible order of the ordinances, they would simply reverse their present practice and celebrate the Lord's Supper first, and then baptism—that would be the Bible order.”
“As a Baptist I cannot endorse that.”
“Then you cannot endorse the plain facts of the Bible, sir, for you must admit that I have established by the Bible what I have claimed.”
“Well, Baptists do not so understand it, they believe baptism is first and must precede communion.”
“But, I tell you Doctor, the Baptists did not so believe years ago, and the English Baptists do not to-day.”
“Where did you get that? I am sure you are mistaken.”
“I think not, sir. Art. 71, in the Baptist Confession or Statement of Principles, as adopted in England in the year 1611, says:
‘All repenting and believing christians are brethren in the communion of the outward
visible church, wherever they may live, or by what name they may be named, be they Roman Catholic, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Brownists, Anabaptists, or any pious christians, who, in truth, and by godly zeal, strive for repentance and faith, although they are implicated in great ignorance and weakness.’
“Again, in Art. 80, they say:
‘That none ought to be kept from the outward communion of the church, but those who remain impenitent and deny the power of godliness.’
“In another Confession of about the same period, I find this plain declaration:
‘The Lord's Supper is the outward manifestation of the spiritual communion between Christ and the faithful, mutually to declare his death till he come.’
“Now, Doctor, I find nothing here of baptism preceding the supper. I will go further yet. Upon examination of the early history of American Baptists, I find that their Confession of the year 1677 forms a basis for the Confessions of the Philadelphia, Charleston and other early Baptist Associations. I am further informed that so good
Baptist authority as Prof. Whitsitt, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky, admits that this Confession in its thirtieth article provided for this ‘Loose Communion’ at the Lord's Supper. Prof. W. claims that the author of this article was a friend and confidant of Bunyan, by whom it was probably inspired. Bunyan was an open communion Baptist, so was the distinguished Robert Hall, and so Spurgeon is now, with many others. Further, Benedict's History shows, on page 497, that Hansard Knolleys founded the first Baptist church in America in 1838 or ’9, and that was an open communion church in practice.”Chapter XX.
IOLA, I suppose the points you make from facts in our history as Baptists, are true, but times have changed.”
“True, Doctor; but I am persuaded that the Bible and its precious truths have not changed an iota, and I do not see how you
can try to wring from its sacred truths this selfishness at the Lord's table. I cannot believe that the Bible anywhere authorizes it. When Jesus instituted the supper, he directed that all of his disciples present should partake of it together. Afterward Paul expressly stated that every christian should examine himself. If upon this self-examination he could sincerely and truly partake of the supper, discerning the Lord's body, then he was to do so, and no man dared question his right. Now, if baptism had been a pre-requisite to the supper, surely Paul would have so stated it when he was giving the conditions upon which christians were to partake of it.”
“Iola, I am surprised at the course you are pursuing, fighting your own church and giving your influence to one so full of error as these Christians are.”
“In what does their error consist?”
“Oh, in many things!”
“Name one, please.”
“Well, a leading feature in that church, if I must call it a church, is this principle of the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience. As held by them, it is one of
the greatest curses of this day—it is doing no little harm.”
“Please show me wherein, Doctor.”
“In this way. By allowing this principle to prevail, they license their members to commit any immoral act, and then plead this rule as a justification of the sin.”
“Be kind enough to give your authority, Doctor.”
“Why, I have heard people say so again and again.”
“I tell you, it is not true; they do no such thing, nor do they allow any such abuse of the right of private judgment and liberty of conscience. If you will read the statement and study the principle involved in it, which immediately precedes the one on the right of private judgment, you will readily see how absurd the rumor is, for when they require christian character as a test of membership, they could not consistently allow the principle of the right of private judgment to be so abused as your rumor would indicate. They do make that principle a prominent feature in their Statement of Principles, but it applies wholly to matters of opinion on certain doctrines, and
in no sense to morals. So, I beg you, disabuse your mind and the minds of your people of any such thought. The Christians, I am proud to know, are above any such evils in their principles or church polity.”
“But how do you know that, Iola?”
“In this way: My father presented this matter to me just as you have done, and I addressed a note of inquiry to my mother's old pastor in Virginia, the Rev. T. M. Rickson, a prominent minister among them, asking for the facts. I did not in the remotest way intimate to him a purpose or desire to unite with his people. His letter was clear and to the point. It satisfied my mind that there was no truth in the absurd charge which you say rumor brings against them. Here is the letter, you can read it for yourself.”
After reading it he said,
“Well, Iola, I have always thought it fair and just to let every denomination define its own views. The statement of Mr. Rickson is higher authority than mere rumors. I accept the correction.”
“I am glad to see you satisfied, Doctor,
that I am not casting my lot with a shoddy church.”
“I have had a long interview with you, Iola, at the request of your father, but I have accomplished nothing. I am sorry to give you up, but I am glad to see that you have not taken so important a step without careful study. You are not moving blindly. You have posted yourself well—that is proper, a duty you owe the organization, and yet I hope you may reconsider and retrace your steps—come back to Broad Creek church.”
“That hope is in vain, Doctor. My mind is fully made up to go to the Christians. I cannot retrace my steps. The Bible would condemn every such step I might make and I should feel as if I heard the groans of my agonized mother in her last days on earth, while her sad and depressed countenance would haunt my very being—and it was all due to the exclusiveness of the Baptists of whom I was then one, but no more am I one of them. Indeed, when your church expelled me for no reason except my devotion to open communion views, it forever set my face in another direction. I wish your people
no harm. May God bless them in all their work, which is according to his will. May he, too, help me to live the life of an humble servant and at last join my angel mother on the brighter shore.”
“May God grant it, is my wish, Iola.”
“Thank you, Doctor. I hope, too, to meet many of the Baptists there, but I am quite sure I shall not see them there as exclusive Baptists. Such as get there will be simply Christians, men and women redeemed by the blood of Christ.”
“I fear you will become unbalanced on the name Christian, Iola. Why may we not be Baptists in Heaven?”
“You know Mr. Wesley dreamed of going to Heaven's portals, where he asked: ‘Are there any Methodists here?’ ‘None,’ was the prompt answer. Any Episcopalians? No. Any Baptists? No. ‘Then,’ asked the great preacher in his astonishment, ‘Whom have you there?’ And the answer came clear and quickly, ‘Christians.’ That is just what I hope to realize when I get to Heaven—no Methodists, no Presbyterians, no Episcopalians, no Baptists, as such, but I hope and expect to find many of
these dear people in Heaven, and there they will be simply Christians. May God grant it. I love them all.”
To this Dr. Jenkins made no reply, but excused himself and retired to have an interview with Mr. Graham, in which he expressed no hope of bringing the young girl back to the Baptists. He said all his efforts had accomplished nothing—that she could not be changed.
Here Mr. Graham became enraged at his daughter's course and said: “If she must go to them, then she may stay with them and they may support her—for I cannot while she goes with that church.”
Returning home that evening, Dr. Jenkins found his family seated around the fireside, and to them he gave a most interesting account of his interview with Iola Graham. He represented her as led under the grief of her mother's death to abandon close communion, and for that reason she had been expelled from the Baptists. At length Johnnie, the twelve year old boy of the Doctor, said:
“Papa, why did they expel her?”
“Because she believes in open communion.”
“Well, papa, can't she believe in that and be a christian?”
“I suppose she might, my son, but not according to the Baptists’ idea.”
“But I understood you to say she is a christian?”
“Well, Johnnie, I suppose she is.”
“Can't all christians belong to the Baptists?”
“Not unless they believe in close communion, my boy.”
“Close communion, what is that, papa?”
“It is excluding from the Lord's table every person who does not believe just as we do about baptism. Really, my son, it is not so much close communion, after all, as it is close baptism.”
“But, papa, what do you mean by close baptism?”
“I mean that only those who have been immersed by an ordained Baptist preacher, can come to the Lord's table.”
“Papa, does the Bible teach that doctrine?”
“Where, please show it to me?”
“Well, some time, maybe.”
“Then all who have been so baptized can commune, can they?”
“Then papa can't Miss Iola commune with us, for she was close baptized?”
“No, no, my child.”
“I thought you said close baptized persons could.”
“Yes, I did, but—but—a-h-e-m— she can't.”
“Then, papa, can none go to Heaven but those believing in close baptism and close communion?”
“Oh, yes! All who believe in sincerity and in truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, as their Saviour, will go to Heaven when they die.”
“Well, papa, if Miss Iola is good enough and strong enough in faith to go to Heaven when she dies, isn't she good enough to partake of the Lord's Supper in a Baptist church?”
“Are you not sleepy, Johnnie?”
“It is time to retire—good night, my
boy,” and the dear little fellow was hurried off without an explanation, leaving him to solve the problem in his dreams, but he could not, and to this day he does not under stand this puzzling question.
The next day being the Sabbath, Iola determined to seek membership in the Christian church at Percy's Chapel, and approaching her father, she said:
“Will you please send me to Percy's Chapel to-morrow?”
“Send you where, Iola?”
“To Percy's Chapel.”
“What do you wish to go there for?”
“Father, since I was expelled from your church, I have been looking for a church with which I may unite. I have decided on the Christian church, after a careful and prayerful examination of the whole matter. Percy's Chapel is the nearest Christian church to me, and, though a stranger there, I have decided to unite with that church to-morrow, if you will be kind enough to send me.”
“I am surprised—more, I am mortified, to think that you will leave both your church and your father to go to such a people.”
“Father,” kindly replied the young girl, “I did not leave your church—I was unrighteously expelled from its membership for my open communion views. I was made to go—now I wish to go—I have a conscience, and I must follow its dictates.”
“If nothing else will do, you can go, and you may stay.”
At these unexpected harsh words, Iola burst into tears, but tears availed nothing. The next morning the driver announced the carriage ready, and so was Iola. She was neatly dressed, as becomes a cultivated christian lady. Going to her father, who was in his accustomed seat, she placed her arms gently about his neck and tenderly kissed him, saying, as she did so:
“My dear father, I beg you be patient with me, and do not cease to love me. You know mother is gone, and you are my next strong friend. If my course is hard for you to bear, I beg you remember the trials through which I have come. Remember my dying mother, what suffering, and heart-anguish, I endured because of the terrible misfortune you and I brought upon her, in her last sickness. I know we did not mean
to do so, and yet we did it. Think of my course as kindly as you can. I expect to be home this afternoon, late,” and she kissed him good-bye.
Mr. Graham sat through this tender attention from his daughter without emotion, and when she entered the carriage and drove away, he roughly said to a by-stander, “I hope she will get enough of her new friends, and that very soon.” But Iola, poor child, knew nothing of the unkind remark, and went away feeling that little of happiness was at her home, but she grew brave to bear this, under the thought that she would secure peace of mind and an easy conscience in the step she was taking, though over a rough and thorny road she must walk alone to obtain so rich a possession. She had endured much with none to encourage her, save the gentle whisperings of her angel mother, who had suffered untold agonies of heart and mind in the same cause.
Between her home and the church she had ample time for reflection. She loved her father devotedly, and never once attributed his severity toward her and her mother to any lack of love, but rather to the influence
of heartless church rules, and, she might have added in charity, Christless rules, for Jesus never made such regulations as governed her father's conduct toward her mother and herself.
Once her home was a happy one. Now under the influence of Baptist exclusiveness, it is torn in fragments. It has sent her mother to an early grave, it has expelled Iola from her own church, and now it seeks to break the love of a father from his only daughter. Her mind was crowded with thoughts of her mother in Heaven, of her father with the Baptists, and of herself seeking a church-home among strangers, and, as if lost to all else, she began to sing in a low sweet voice that dear old hymn:“Shall we meet beyond the riverWhere the surges ne'er shall roll?Wherein all the bright forever,Sorrow ne'er shall press the soul?”
As the sound of the last words died away she seemed to hear, as if an echo to her own voice, (perhaps the spirit of her mother was hovering near her,) a sweet strain,“Yes, we'll meet beyond the riverWhen life's burden we lay down;We shall change our cross of anguishFor a bright, unfading crown.”
REACHING the church she sent a note to the pastor, the Rev. P. T. Knapper, saying she wished to unite with the church. It was quarterly meeting and communion day. Before the sermon he announced that by request he would open the doors of the church for the reception of members. He gave out hymn 468,“O happy day that fixed my choice,”
not knowing the circumstances that called forth this part of the services. While the congregation was singing a young lady, walked slowly up the aisle and took a stand near the altar. The pastor made the following public examination:
“My young sister, have you sincerely and heartily repented of all your sins?”
“I believe I have.”
“Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world?”
“Is it your purpose through grace to live a godly life?”
Then said the pastor: “Brethren and sisters, you have heard the examination of Iola Graham, who seeks admission as a member into this church. Is there any objection to receiving her?”
All was silence, and he gave her the right hand of fellowship and a hearty welcome, and, handing her the Bible, said:
“In behalf of the church, my young sister, I welcome you to our fold. Study the Bible carefully and prayerfully. Let it be the rule and guide to your faith and practice, and may God richly bless your association with us. May you be happy and useful in the church.”
Then the preacher gave out as his text these words:
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me.”—John 17: 21.
He urged upon his hearers the fact that all christians are one in spirit, just as Jesus and the Father are one. He showed how a misinterpretation of this truth had in every age racked the church with strife and division, none of which had been helpful in
making the world better. He gave special emphasis to the reason why God's people should be one in spirit, living in peace and harmony as brethren. Said he, “Jesus made it so plain that men blinded by sectarian prejudice even, can understand its importance, as presented in the last clause of the text, viz: ‘That the world may believe that thou has sent me.’ He fully elaborated the thought that sectarians, in fighting one another so bitterly over matters of mere opinion, kept many from accepting the Saviour, thus retarding in a shameful manner the spread of the gospel. By way of contrast he showed how the united hearts and minds and labors of God's people had been singularly blessed in leading men to a saving knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.
This was a feast to Iola. She knew only too well how fighting between professing christians had led to results so serious, in carrying misery and suffering, and, as she believed, death into her home, robbing her of a fond mother.
It was noticed by some in the congregation that the stranger who had joined them was deeply interested, and occasionally a tear
trickled down her fair cheeks. It betokened the emotions which were known only to herself. She understood, as few others could, the meaning of the pastor's words, portraying the evils of sectarianism. Indeed, it is a shame, a burning shame, that men professing to love God, should ever say such hard things one of another, simply because they differ in opinions.
Then came the communion. The pastor, after suitable remarks on the character and purpose of the supper, said: “We invite all christians of whatever name to join us in commemorating the sufferings and death of the Saviour in this supper. I would have each one personally examine himself or herself, as Paul says: ‘Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” The service proceeded. In passing the emblems, one of the deacons came to an aged member of the Baptist church, Bro. Thomas Black. He was known in the community as a warm-hearted christian, of unquestioned piety. His head was white with the late frosts of the autumn of life. He was feeble and lame and blind, a pilgrim standing on the verge of eternity.
The deacon felt he could not, and would not, pass him without an opportunity, perhaps the last on earth, to join in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. One of the deacons asked him if he wished to partake. The old veteran of the cross said: “I do wish to unite with you in this blessed communion service, but the rules of my church will not allow me.” The white haired father hid his face, as if in grief over the usage of his own church. The services closed.
While the congregation was dispersing the pastor was offering a kind word to his new member. Accompanying her from the house to the stile, to their dismay they found the carriage had gone. Both were shocked. At that moment she saw for the first time the meaning of her father's words when he told her to “go and stay.” Till now she had regarded that remark as simply expressing his disapproval of her course, but he meant just what he said, and as she realized this she was heard to exclaim, as if alone:
“Oh, this persecution! May it make my life as a lamp that burneth to all who sit in the darkness of intolerance.”
Left among strangers, the pastor seeing
her trouble, vacated his own seat and asked her to ride with his wife to Deacon Day's, to dine. Knowing her helplessness, she accepted the kindness. No little curiosity was aroused. The pastor felt most anxious to know the history of his new member. She was beautiful, modest, intelligent and well dressed, but why she should be left at church in this manner was a mystery.
After dinner Iola passed a note to the pastor, requesting an interview with him and Deacon Day. Arrangements were immediately made, and in a short time she was invited to a private room, where she met both the pastor and the deacon.
“I have sought this interview with you,” she said, “because I know the circumstances attending my coming into your church, and being left there as I was must seem strange to you. I am anxious to give you the facts.”
She briefly told the story of her history.
“My open communion sentiments,” she continued, “and a liberal evangelical faith, have thus rendered me a homeless girl, and it may seem to you that my father's action throws me upon your generosity for support”; and here she burst into tears, for her
father's treatment was more than she could bear.
At length, she said:
“I do not wish you to feel that I have come to thrust myself upon your charity. I am willing to accept the burdens thus thrown upon me, for I am led by faith, I hope; and, as I believe, I stand on principle.”
“The sad story of your life has reached our sympathy. We are ready to do anything we can to be of service to you.”
“Many thanks for your brotherly sympathy and kindness. I am very anxious to work my own way, and all I could ask, or accept, is assistance to get employment.”
“What do you wish?” asked the pastor and deacon, simultaneously.
“Oh,” she said, “I am willing to do any honorable work for which my strength is sufficient. I prefer teaching, but I cannot, I must not be a burden to you.”
“I have a friend in C—, now in need of a teacher. I will endeavor to secure the position for you,” said the Deacon.
“Thank you, sir, I wish you may succeed. I have no time to lose. Meantime, Mr. Day,
will you kindly send to my father's to-morrow for my trunk?
“Certainly I will—make yourself content. My house is yours as long as you need it.”
“That is so kind, sir, when I am only a stranger.”
A few days passed, and Iola, though much of life was darkened to her, made herself a very pleasant companion to Deacon Day's daughters, so that new ties of friendship were formed, and they began to feel that she was one of them.
When her trunk came, with it came the following note:
My Dear Child:
In answer to your request I send your trunk. I am a miserable man. My wife is dead, my only child is a wanderer, and I am at home, feeble and alone. You will regret your course, and that bitterly, before you are many years older. Perhaps the greatest trial of my life was to see the carriage come home last Sunday without you. It was hard, indeed. But I can not support and protect you while you give your influence and yourself to the building up of the Christians,
as you call them. Sever your connection with them and come back to your old faith, and all that I have shall be yours. My home shall be all you can ask, and your happiness shall be my pleasure. If you can not do this, then good-by.
From your father, George Graham.
“I can't! Oh, I can't!” she exclaimed and she wept as if her heart would break, and falling upon her knees in prayer she sought help from above. Especially did she plead for her father—that his eyes might be opened, his heart made tender and his love for her restored, meanwhile she was firm to her convictions and determined to take hardships with an easy conscience, rather than personal ease with a troubled conscience.
She had been in the family two weeks when the Deacon announced to her the fact that he had secured the school in C— for her. This gave her very much pleasure, because she did not wish to burden the kindness of her new friends.
“We do not like to have you leave us, but
the gentleman wishes the school to open the first Monday in November, about one week from now. In order to do so, it may be necessary to go by next Thursday's steamer; the “Mistress of the Sea” sails from W— to C— that day. You can then reach your new home Friday or Saturday.
“Very well, sir. That will suit me. I will be ready Thursday.”
Though Iola Graham had been in the house only two weeks, there was as much ado over her leaving as if one of the family had been preparing for a year's absence. She had been so agreeable, so kind and thoughtful, that every member of the family seemed anxious to have her company. Thursday the parting was affectionate. It was like father and mother and brothers and sisters, parting with the eldest daughter and sister of the household.
At 6 o'clock p. m., Thursday, she sailed on the “Mistress of the Sea,” expecting to reach C— Friday afternoon. The weather was good and the trip gave promise to be pleasant. At mid-night there was a fall of the mercury. A brisk wind sprang up and the sea became rough, but no danger was
apprehended, meanwhile the noble steamer was plowing the face of the great deep, dashing into a beautiful spray the heaving billows, as if it were only child's play. Occasionally the billows seemed to come with renewed power against the vessel and a slight tossing of the great steamship was perceptible. The time made was unusually quick. What cared the passengers for the rough wind? They had long since retired and were sweetly sleeping. Why should fear of danger trouble them?—their passage was on the “Mistress of the Sea,” a steamship whose pride was that she had never met a storm through which she could not ride with safety. Her speed was unusually rapid. Nothing was impeding her progress. The rough rolling sea seemed an unwilling aid in its onward march. The wind beat heavily against her; the splash of the wheels was as regular as clock work, and the rattle of the heaving engine spoke of the safety of the passengers. It is 3 o'clock and suddenly a sharp call and a heavy stroke at the doors of the sleeping passengers awoke them. The warning voice carried with it terror—the cry was, “fire!” The people were immediately
panic stricken. They ran here, there, everywhere,—all in confusion. Already volumes of smoke were issuing from the engine room; it was a terrible fact, the ship was on fire and with little prospect of extinguishing it. Meantime every one was adjusting the lifepreserver. In the excitement Iola had been forgotten. It was supposed, of course, she was up and out of her room. The purser made another round and found all doors open, and the people out, except the one to Iola's room,—he quickly broke it open expecting to find the young girl either still asleep or dead from fright. As the door gave way to his powerful stroke, lo! what a surprise! Was she dead? No. Was she asleep? No. She was awake, alive, dressed, already rigged in her life-preserver and upon her knees in solemn prayer, as calm as at other times. Her face was uplifted to God—she was committing herself to His care and protection.
Horrors, alas, the fearful fire is raging! Now it is said there is no hope of reaching land before the ship will be consumed. Men, women and children, are wild with the thought of facing so dreadful a fate. Some
are screaming, some wringing their hands in despair, some have fallen to the floor in a swoon. Iola preserved a calm mind. When asked if she were not frightened, she replied: “I do not feel comfortable, but I have committed my fate to my God. I am happy to rest on my confidence in him.”
Just then there was a fearful explosion on the lower deck and vast volumes of flames seemed to envelop the body of the steamer. The small boats were lowered to the water and they were immediately filled with terrified passengers, till no more could find room. Among those left to the mercy of the waves was Iola Graham. She held her position on the burning steamship till the fearful flames forced her to choose death in the deep rather than be burned. She maintained her courage. Before the leap into the water she looked heavenward and in agonizing prayer, cried: “O, God, thou art the same in the water as on the land. I commit myself to thy keeping for Jesus’ sake,” and Iola was struggling with the restless waves of the deep. She had suffered at the hands of father and was strong, but now struggling in
the perils of waters, will she be strong in her faith in God?”
Soon the steamer was burned to the waters edge and keeled partly over, and continued to burn.
The tide drifted the passengers apart, a number of whom had followed Iola rather than suffer death from the flames. Oh, the perils of the deep! The beautiful Iola was alone. She struggled long and hard to keep on the surface of the waters. That was a fearful Friday, a day long to be remembered by those who escaped death. Time and again Iola felt that she was going—sinking, that she would soon be with her mother and her God. All through these hours of peril the life-preserver had kept her up. The day is far spent and Iola knows not whither she has drifted. She is nearly exhausted, she feels that she can not hold on longer. In the same calm self-possession she felt that even death would be a relief, from such exposure and peril. Then she seemed thrilled by the presence of the Holy Spirit and under this inspiration she rallied her strength and began to sing:“Jesus, lover of my soul,Let me to thy bosom fly.While the raging billows rollWhile the tempest still is high.”
“The Steamer was burned to the water's edge and keeled partly over and continued to burn.”
From the first to the last word her voice increased in beauty and volume—it was enough. God had heard her prayer, he had given her strength to sing so as to be heard on shore, by one who went in a small boat in search of that sweet, rich voice.
Iola was nearly delirious from exhaustion. She felt that she was almost over the river, where she would soon be at rest. But she heard the splash of the oar in the water. In her semi-conscious state she imagined she could hear the angel boatman from over the river coming for her. Soon she found herself pulled at, and looking she saw a man in a boat, and that was the last she knew of his help. After much effort he succeeded in pulling her into the boat, and made for the shore with all possible speed. He finally got her ashore and to his father's house yet alive, but still unconscious. All possible effort was put forth by the family to restore her. By ten o'clock that night they saw indications of returning consciousness.
Different members of the family watched by her bedside through the night with ceaseless vigilance. By the dawning of the morning she was stronger and conscious. Looking
around at the strangers, she said: “I wish you would tell me where I am, and how I came here. I know I have been rescued from a burning steamer, but I know nothing of the details. Who saved me? I remember some one coming to me on a boat.”
“It was my son Edward who saved you,” answered an old lady.
“Who is Edward?”
“Edward D. Paul, my son. He was hunting down near the sea, and hearing a voice on the water singing,‘Jesus, lover of my soul,’
he procured a boat and went in search of you. He thinks you were almost dead when he found you.”
“Indeed, I was. I had been on the water since about four o'clock in the morning. My last recollection is that I seemed to be going over the dark river. I saw at various times through the day my mother hovering above me as an angel. If God gives his angels charge to keep us when in peril, may it not be that my mother kept me from sinking till the timely deliverance at the hands of your son?”
“That may be. I believe that angels hover
around God's people in their times of need and distress.”
“Please tell me where I am—in what State and county?”
“Oh! you are in — county, North Carolina, near the Atlantic coast.”
“How far am I from C—?”
“Why, some fifty miles. What of it?”
“I had started there to teach. I sailed from W— on Thursday. About three o'clock Friday morning our steamer was burned, and by the goodness of God I am here, instead of being in the sea. My name is Iola Graham. I deeply regret that I am thus forced upon the kindness of strangers. You see I am helpless. If my life is spared, I will seek to compensate you, if you will be kind enough to give me shelter in your home till I am able to travel.”
“Oh, certainly! We count it an honor that God has chosen us to be his servants in taking care of you in this hour of exposure and misfortune. In entertaining strangers we sometimes entertain angels unawares. Be assured you are welcome, and what we may do for you will be counted a privilege.”
“ ‘Every thorn has a rose,’ ” she replied.
“If one must be exposed to the perils of the sea, it is indeed a blessing to be found by such noble-hearted christian people. You make me feel so much at home.”
“But you are too weak to talk—you must be quiet and try to sleep all you can, till you are stronger, or your exhaustion may develop into sickness,” said Mrs. Paul.
She promptly obeyed. Everything possible was done for her comfort. Mr. and Mrs. Paul, as well as their daughters and son, felt that they had a treasure committed to their kindness, and they resolved to do their duty and leave the results with Him who rewards even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple. They did not know her, had never heard of her family before, unless she was of the Governor Graham family.
Through Saturday she seemed to rally partially from the effects of her exposure. However, Sunday fever was developed, and by Monday she was unconscious. The family physician, Dr. Winborne, was in constant attendance, using all his skill to check the fever, but in vain. For three long weeks it was a struggle between life and disease, most of the time the beautiful Iola lay all
unconscious. Frequently she shuddered, and seemed as if shrinking from the presence of some person. Then her face would glow with a peaceful smile, and she would reach out her pale, thin hands, as if to grasp another, and call: “Mother, mother; my dear mother!”
At the beginning of the fourth week she was improving slowly, and hope of her recovery was entertained. Never were people kinder to a stranger than had been the Paul family to Iola Graham, through these weeks of suffering, though all they knew of her was from the few words she had spoken when she first recovered consciousness after her rescue from the sea. She had been unable to tell her own story, but her lovely face, modest mien and gentle words, even when delirious, had satisfied them of her high christian character. Thus they waited and watched by her bedside for weeks. By the middle of December she was able to sit up for half a day at a time. As returning strength enabled and encouraged her to talk, she asked if there was a Christian church in that community.
“Yes,” answered a friend, “and the Pauls are members of it.”
This gave her pleasure. She said she counted herself fortunate, as that was her church. She felt a real delight in the fact that she was with friends who could sympathize with her in her religious convictions and her denominational trials. To her surprise she learned that young Edward Paul, who had rescued her from the sea, was a deacon in this church. Though very young, he had been deemed the proper person to fill the office, because of his piety and intelligence; he was a model young man, and filled the office with the dignity of one of maturer years.
Her presence in the community had awakened a deep interest in her history on the part of leading citizens, but no one was able to satisfy their curiosity. She shrank from reciting the adventures of her own life, and her newly made friends hesitated to introduce the subject. Thus days passed.
On Christmas Eve, Edward and his mother were in the library. Their conversation turned upon his work in rescuing the young lady from a watery grave. They
both felt a laudable pride in the fact that he had saved her. Said he:
“Mother, is there any reason why one who saves a lost treasure may not make that treasure his own?”
“What do you mean, son?”
“I guess you understand me, mother.”
“If I do, I see no wrong in it.”
“Thank you. I have thought there could be none, and if not, if I have recovered a lost treasure, why may it not become my own?”
Tea was announced and the conversation ended.
It was a pleasant evening, indeed. All the family was at home and Miss Graham was now well enough to join in the festivities of this merry season.
Christmas morning was ushered in with real joy and merriment. By ten o'clock Iola asked to be excused, as she was not yet strong enough to endure the strain of continued merry-making, and she retired to the library to rest.
Edward came in, and entering the library began conversation with her. Soon allusion was made to her voyage on the ill-fated
“Mistress of the Sea,” and with a sigh she remarked:
“The most unexpected things turn us—the whole of life—into the most unexpected ways. It was so in that instance.”
“Yes, that is true;” as the poet has said,“God moves in a mysterious way,His wonders to perform.”
“I hope you will excuse the curiosity, and permit me to ask how you came to be on the “Mistress of the Sea?”
“Oh, certainly, but the story is lengthy and may tax your patience.”
“Oh, no! Besides, since I was permitted to rescue you I feel an interest in the events which led you to take passage on that steamer.”
She then proceeded with the sad story, beginning at Broad Creek church, graphically portraying the exciting and pathetic events of her life to the present time, and then she added:
“Now you know it all—why I am here an orphan girl, fighting my battles alone. It was all for conscience's sake, because I could not practice close communion.”
“Do not consider yourself alone, or an
orphan. Your martyr-like sufferings and your heroic struggles against bigotry will give you friends anywhere. More than ever, I feel that your sad coming has brought a blessing to us all.”
“I wish it, but I can not hope for so much to follow my misfortunes and sorrows.”
“Indeed I can, and do. The circumstances of our acquaintance form an event never to be forgotten, and now that I know your sad history and your conflicts with sectarianism, I feel that we have entertained an angel unawares.”
“Indeed, I am not entitled to so much consideration. I can not feel otherwise than deeply grateful for hospitality so unbounded, and yet your estimate of my coming is too high. It is the unfortunate in the warm hearts of the fortunate. I trust I may not tarry too long.”
“The opposite is the question with me—how can we keep you long enough?”
“Thank you,” she said, “but I must soon leave, for my work,—when I am strong enough. The responsibilities of my living are upon my own shoulders.”
“Where is your work?”
“Oh, I have to look it up. I was to teach in C—. But of course, now I must look elsewhere.”
“I can guarantee you a permanent situation, if you will accept it, with light and pleasant employment.”
“Thank you. That is very kind.”
“The only question is, will you accept it, Miss Iola?”
“I suppose I will, but tell me what it is, first.”
“I fear you may decline, or think I am joking. I am really in earnest. To tell the truth, it has been the theme of my thoughts since the day I found you in the sea.”
Anticipating the possible turn of this proposition just here, Iola did not answer, and then a blush, which betrayed them both, played upon manly and womanly cheeks alike. After a few moments of painful silence, he said:
“May I tell it all to you?” and without waiting for an answer, he continued, “I love you and the desire of my heart is to know that you reciprocate my love.”
“Mr. Paul, you know how truly I esteem
you for your noble efforts in saving my life—”
“Yes, but those efforts developed in my bosom love for you, and nothing but your love in return can make me happy. My happiness is dependent on your will, and now I lay myself helpless at your feet, can you, will you be mine?”
She gazed steadily at the red coals in the fire and her lips trembled. The whole matter is in the balances, and she must decide it, and turning her beautiful eyes toward him she said:
“You are too venturous. You are risking too much—you do not know me, you do not know that I am worthy to fill so honorable a position.”
“But I know this” he replied, “I am anxious to risk it all. I do not fear you will disappoint me as you intimate. Will you be my wife?”
“I think you do not realize fully that when you make that proposition it is to one who is now a wanderer from her own home—a cast off for her faith—among strangers. Perhaps you have not thought what it is to make such a lady your life companion.”
“All this has only made me the more determined to ask you, to urge you to become my wife.”
Here she bowed her head and her lips quivered under their burden of responsibility—she was deciding for life the weal or woe of two souls. Again looking into his manly face, she answered:
“I yield—I will be yours.”
“I am blessed,” he said, “my happiness is complete,” and they talked pleasantly of the vows taken and of plans for the future. At length Edward requested her to name the day of their marriage. “I am aware,” said he, “that this looks like hurrying you. I do not mean to be hasty, but you are necessarily from your friends and relatives, and for this reason it might add to your happiness, and an early marriage will certainly suit me.”
“I will answer that as soon as I can decide it in my own mind.”
“Iola, oh, Iola!” It was the voice of Jennie Paul calling, and Iola excused herself to go.
In a few days the first Tuesday in March
was agreed on, and preparations were made for the happy event.
On the day appointed she was married, and her new home was an elegant mansion—who was more worthy?Chapter XXII.
A FEW days after her marriage she addressed to her father the following very tender letter:
M—, N. C., March 12, 1883.
My Dear Father:
I have not heard from you since last October, except a few words from a friend by letter. Through her I learned of your sickness. I fear you are still displeased with me, yet I must write—I must know how you are. The day I left home, I joined the Christians at Percy's Chapel, and through the kindness of friends I obtained a school in C—, for which place I sailed on Thursday before the first Sunday
EDWARD F. PAUL
in November. On the way our ship was burned and I, after great peril and exposure, was rescued by Mr. Edward F. Paul. This was followed by weeks of sickness from which, however, I have recovered.
Last Tuesday, one week ago, I was married to the gentleman who rescued me from a watery grave. I am happily married and comfortably situated. I am disturbed by your sickness, knowing you are alone. I hope yet to know that you love me. My course in church matters displeased you, but not of choice, it was in answer to the honest demands of my conscience—a plain obedience to the teachings of the scriptures.
I do not wish to write of things unpleasant to you, but I must say the memory of my days of bondage, religiously, even now stirs my soul till I feel I must do something to help free others who may be in like bondage.
When I think how sectarianism hampers the servants of God in their worship, when I think how it led my dear mother to the verge of insanity, and to an untimely grave, when I think it expelled me from the church of my early choice, and finally turned me
away from my dear father's home, where once we were a happy family together,—O Heaven, have mercy! My heart aches as I look upon the picture.
Surely you and your Baptist brethren will soon see this error, and turn from it. It is a “bone of contention,” which carries so much sorrow, strife and discord into christian homes. Let us cease to fight one another with unkind words and bitter slurs. Then the church may present one solid, unbroken phalanx of workers against this selfishness and the power of Satan.
But I must close. I love you still, dear father, and I hope you love your own Iola. Be assured if I can do anything for your comfort, you have only to let me know it, and I will soon be in the dear old home of my childhood's happy days, to do anything I can for you. I would be glad to do something to make your last days on earth happy. If you will accept my service, I will come at once. I would be delighted to take you home with me. Then I could daily minister to your wants. Do let me hear from you.
Your loving daughter, Iola G. Paul.
This letter was received at the old homestead by Mr. Graham. He read it through blinding tears. It carried him back to the happy days when wife and child and himself—a happy trio—dwelt together in peace. That was before the ugly hand of sectarianism had divided and distracted his own model home. Then, he was well and happy. Now, he is so miserable because of the past and withal a sick man, a great sufferer from inflamation, arising from the wound he received years before on the field of battle. It is fast wasting his strength and he is preparing to meet death, which he feels is rapidly coming. He laid the letter upon the table and left it unanswered,—perhaps he was too feeble. A kind-hearted visitor, seeing the letter and supposing that the father would not, or could not, answer it, wrote briefly to Iola as follows:
Wynan's Falls, N. C., March 28, 1883. Mrs. Iola G. Paul, M—, N. C.
Pardon a privilege I am taking. Visiting your father to-day, I find he is very feeble. I felt that you ought to know it. I saw
your letter to him, and at once determined to let you know his real condition. He is feeble—I think fast declining. The wound he received before you were born has inflamed seriously, and his strength is failing. He is much alone, and seems to be in trouble.
Yours truly, Mrs. Jno. T. Braxton.
Upon reading this, Iola determined to visit her father at once; and, if he would consent, to bring him to her home, that she might comfort him in his declining days. She spoke to her husband of her wishes. He approved her plans, and in a few days they were at the bedside of Mr. Graham. As she entered his room he was asleep. Awaking at her approach, he recognized her, and, reaching forth his arms, feebly exclaimed, “My child!” and father and daughter were again face to face. She saw a great change had come over him. As they sat by his bedside gazing upon the wasting form, Iola said very tenderly:
“Father, we wish you to go with us home to spend the remainder of your days with
us, so that I can do for you and care for you.”
“Ah, child! I fear I could not endure the fatigue of the journey, I am so feeble.”
“Yes, father, we can make you comfortable, if you will consent to go.”
“Well, child, I do not know what is best, but I will do as you wish.”
“At home once more,” she said, as she walked to and fro about the pleasant haunts of her early childhood, and she came to her mother's room. There was her favorite seat, and Iola, resting her elbow on the rim of her mother's old arm chair, stood and wept. A thousand thoughts pressed her mind, for the memories of other days were many and sad.
Everything was arranged and the trip was made without serious consequences to Mr. Graham. At Mr. Paul's he had every attention. Iola was almost constantly at his bedside ministering to his wants.
He suffered much, and lingered through the lovely spring time, till the warm July days came, when he grew much worse. The end was not far away—every one could see
“Iola, resting her elbow on the rim of her mother's old arm chair, stood and wept,” * * * * for the memories of other days were many and sad.”
that, and he himself felt, no doubt, the warning touch of the fingers of Death.
On the morning of July 7th, he seemed not only weaker, but nervously restless. He acted like one who has a hidden burden upon his heart; meanwhile Iola was tenderly waiting and watching by him, anticipating as nearly as she could every want of her departing father. At length he looked Iola in the face, and pitifully said:
“Dear child, forgive and forget your father's sad mistakes which brought upon your young life so much pain and sorrow. For weeks before you returned, I was troubled. I went as with a thorn in my flesh. My exclusive conduct toward you and your mother has haunted me no little. It was the sad mistake of my life, and has left the darkest spot in my memory. Oh! I deeply regret it. Then I thought I was right; I did wish to be right, but I went too far; I was too bitter towards others without cause. I heartily regret it all.
“Now, with the judgment before me, and death fast approaching, my life is passing in rapid review. In all the mistakes of my life, nothing appears half so fearful to me, nothing
so mars my prospect of peace as the thought of the many heart-aches I so unnecessarily gave your mother and yourself about your religious views. As I have gradually come nearer and yet nearer the dark river, I find that all those feelings of bitterness have disappeared, till now my soul is enlarged, I love every child of God. I would shut none out, I would keep not the least of his redeemed from the Lord's table, or any other privilege, be he Baptist, Methodist, or any other, only if he is Christ's.
“I know we used to be hard upon our brethren of other persuasions. I was for one. May God forgive me, even in my dying hour for this great mistake. Tell my brethren and sisters at Broad Creek church that my dying request and prayer is, that they no more oppose other denominations as they did formerly. Tell them that they cannot afford to divide and fight over matters of opinion, so insignificant when compared with the theme of redemption, upon which Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and all who have had their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb will unite in one grand
universal song—even the song of the redeemed in Heaven.”
He paused as if to rest, and Iola said:
“I forgive you, dear father, a thousand times. Do not grieve over those dark days now,” and while she was talking she saw he was sinking rapidly. In this sad moment she forgot herself and the past in her efforts to alleviate his sufferings. Convinced that he was dying she felt she must tell him of his real condition, and she tremblingly said:
“Father, do you know that you are almost home? that you are now within the gates of the Beulah-land?”
“Am I, child? Then ask Edward to pray with me.”
The request was granted. A warm and tender prayer was offered. As they arose they saw a halo of joy beaming from his face and his eyes seemed fixed on Heaven.
“Beautiful, beautiful!” feebly lisped the dying man, and Iola, holding his hand said:
“What is it, father?”
“I see the shining shore, and that bright
city—its portals are open wide, the angels are sweeping through the gates.”“Don't you hear them?Don't you hear them,Coming, coming over hill and plain,Scattering music in their heavenly train?Oh don't you hear the angels coming,Singing as they come?”
He was gasping and he reached his cold thin hand to Iola and said: “Good-bye.” Then his face was bright, and looking about his bedside, he seemed to see the heavenly visitors, and, as if appealing to them, he whispered feebly but earnestly, “Oh! bear me, angels,Angels, bear me home,” and the end of an eventful life had come,—the angels had escorted the spirit of George Graham to the presence of God.Chapter XXIII.
THE death of Mr. Graham was a peculiarly sad one, not only grieving Iola, but it opened anew the painful heart-wounds in the history of her mother's life, and recalled
the persecutions through which she had walked. She had been able to think of nothing else for days, and in her sleep the events of other years were passing in panoramic view, till she seemed to live over those days of pain again.
At length there was a change. Iola was transported in a dream from the scenes of earth-born heart-aches to the Judgment.
The Judge and a company of sect-preachers of different denominations, with their respective congregations, first attracted her attention. The Lord, in awful grandeur, was upon his throne, and the assembled universe had gathered near, awaiting the final decision. Silence was so intense as to be painful.
The Judge called one of the preachers with his congregation forward, and said:
“My servant, are all these yours?” Seeing he hesitated to answer, the Judge added, by was of explanation, “Did you win all of these from the world?”
“No, Lord,” the servant answered, “I persuaded some of them to leave other churches and come to mine.”
“Take these, my angels, who have been
thus persuaded to leave other churches, and place them here alone.”
Then came another preacher with his flock to be judged. Said the judge:
“Are all these the fruits of your labors, my servant?”
“No, Lord, I gathered a portion of them from the labors of others.”
“My angels,” said the Judge, “take from him the souls he has taken from another fold, and place them with the others.
Then came another preacher with a small flock, and the Judge said:
“Are all these yours?”
“Yea, Lord,” the trembling servant answered.
“Where did you get them?”
“In protracted meetings, at the mourners’ bench, in school houses, in the wilderness, on the mountains, in the valleys, in huts, in the palaces of the rich, in the country and in the cities. I went through the winter's cold and summer's heat; I went on long journeys and lived on hard fare, with little pay, and with the world; the flesh, and the devil against me. Through all of this I sought and found them.”
“Who are they, my servant?”
“Lord, they are Christians, for they have been redeemed and washed in the blood of Christ. They are thine, Master,—the sheaves I have gathered for thee.”
And the Judge said: “My angels, take and give to him the souls others, through a mistaken zeal, had persuaded to leave him—Give them to my servants, who did not proselyte, but sought to win their flocks from the world, leaving my people to enjoy their church-home in peace. It were a worthy effort to compass sea and land to save a soul, but it is a sin to proselyte my children, leading them under mistaken light from one fold to another—they are all Mine.”
Here the faces of the sect-preachers became very sad. They looked one at another, and then drew aside for consultation. Their followers looked on in astonishment. Soon they returned and advanced toward the Judge. One drew nearer than the others and appealing to the Judge said: “Master, in behalf of myself and my brethren, I come to plead for mercy. We mistook our mission, and much of the time we ought to have given to leading the lost sheep to the
Shepherd of souls, we have spent in proselyting the members of other churches. Now we see our mistake. Proselyting is not the work thou gavest us to do, but pointing sinners to Thee is the work of our lives. We did wrong to trouble such as were already sheltered in the fold. We did it in ignorance.
“Now, Lord, we come to ask permission to return to our fields and do our work over again, carrying the bread of life to the perishing, instead of a “bone of contention” to the saved. Grant us this privilege, and we will no more divide thy church with questions which can do no good. If we may go back, the burden of our hearts and tongues shall be redeeming love and the salvation of souls. Spare us, we pray thee, to go back this once and then when thou callest us home we will come bringing in the sheaves from life's great harvest field.”
Said the Judge, “Permission is given, and you will go forth to teach the people—my children—to love God supremely and one another as members of a happy family. Let none array a brother against a brother. We
need united effort on the part of all my children to carry the world to the Cross of Christ.”
Here the Baptist, the Methodist, the Presbyterian, the Lutheran and the Episcopalian, with many other sects, hand in hand, and heart to heart, went forth as brethren in the Lord to bring sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. As they walked forth, the redeemed of Heaven,—they that had come up through great tribulations, they that had been saved by the blood of the Lamb,—struck all their harps of gold, and, in one rapturous strain, sang, “Glory to God in the highest,” and as they went forth a united band of brethren in Jesus, proclaiming the good tidings of salvation to all men, the angel of the Lord followed after them, crying aloud, “Iphedeiah”—the Lord sets free.