Around Old Bethany
Robert Lee Berry
Part 1 out of 2
E-text prepared by Joel Erickson, Christine Gehring, Leah Moser, and the
Project Gutenbert Online Distributed Proofreading Team
AROUND OLD BETHANY
A Story of the Adventures of Robert and Mary Davis
R. L. BERRY
This small volume was first published in the year of 1925, but it has
been out of print for many years. The present reprint edition is in
response to requests for it to be in print again.
The main characters in this true-to-life narrative are led to Bible
salvation, and then step by step into the various Bible doctrines, and
finally to establish a congregation of the Church of God after the
New Testament pattern. In the meantime, the snares of false doctrines
which surrounded them were exposed and they were guided unerringly in
the truth of God's Word.
May the Scriptural truths set forth in this narrative enlighten every
reader, and arm him with "the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word
of God," to meet and refute the false teachings now abroad in our
1. Beginning the Search
2. A Threatening Quarrel
3. The Schoolhouse Debates
4. The Schoolhouse Debates (Continued)
5. The Schoolhouse Debates (Concluded)
6. What Church Shall We Join?
7. What Say the Scriptures?
8. Robert Davis' Battles
9. The Good Results of an Honest Confession
10. False Guides Appear in Bethany
11. Out of the Valley of the Shadow
12. The Revival Meeting in Bethany
13. The Babel of Tongues
14. A Model Church Established
BEGINNING THE SEARCH
It was in the year of 1885 that the railroad was put through the
particular corner of Missouri that marks the scene where the events of
this narrative took place. With the coming of the railroad, there
came an influx of new settlers, who were of various nationalities
and conditions in life. There were Swedes from Malmo, Germans from
Dresden, and Irishmen from Tyrone, all bent on founding a new home in
the new country. Besides these, there were Americans of many kinds and
inclinations. All of these settlers brought with them the particular
brands of religion in which they had been brought up. The Swedes and
Germans were Lutherans, but each nationality was of a different
synod and had little agreement or fellowship. The Irishmen were Roman
Catholics, while the Americans were divided up among the different
denominations. No sooner had these settlers built themselves homes
than they started to build chapels and churches; it was a chapel if
its builders rebelled at calling a building a church, and it was a
church if its builders had no such scruples. No survey was made as
an effort to find out how many churches were needed; indeed, each
denomination erected a place of worship even if there was only
a handful represented in its membership. Those were the days of
unleavened bread and bitter herbs, when every denomination was full of
sectarian rivalry, and each of them claimed more or less of a monopoly
upon the love and power of God. Revival-meetings were held frequently,
sometimes contemporaneously, and the "doors of the church" were swung
open every Sunday for the admission of new members.
The center of this settlement was Bethany, consisting of a few
straggling huts on the north side of the railroad, and the business
section and the more pretentious homes of the well-to-do on the south
side. There was the usual run of stores. Most of them, however,
were what were called "general stores," which meant that they sold
everything from toothpicks to farm wagons and from handkerchiefs to
cloaks and suits, besides groceries, shoes, and tinware. And it must
be said also, for the sake of telling the truth, that they erected
more church-buildings than they needed, because the same sectarian
rivalry obtained there as in the country round about. It was common
for members of one denomination to tell members of another that the
others' church was a thousand miles farther away from God than was
Into this corner of Missouri, and into this atmosphere of
denominational rivalry came Robert Davis and his wife, Mary. As it
was, fortunately, both came of religious parents, and had had some
religious teaching at home and in Sunday-school. One of the first
things that they did after they were married was to solemnly dedicate
their home to God, promising Him that they would follow Christ to
the best of their knowledge and understanding. They began to attend
church, now here, now there, and as a consequence, began to compare
one denomination with another, with the result that they were thrown
into confusion about which church to join; for they supposed it was
their bounden duty to join one or the other of the denominations
"Which church do you like best, Robert?" Mary Davis asked one Sunday
afternoon after they had come home from a Sunday-school session and
service at one of the churches.
"I had not thought of it in that way," he replied, "but I had been
comparing one with another, with the idea of finding which one is
"You are right in that, I feel sure," said Mary, "for really, what we
should strive for is to please God. But which one, then, do you think
"Really, I do not know," he replied. "I am puzzled. I feel that we
should be identified with some church, and work to extend it, but it
seems to me that one church has one Bible truth and emphasizes it, and
another has another Bible truth which it emphasizes, and so on, all
around. How does it seem to you?"
"That is the way I feel," said Mary.
"Suppose that we ask each church to give us a summary of its beliefs,
and we shall then compare each one with the Bible," suggested Robert.
"Why, let's do that," replied Mary. "I do want the truth."
"So do I," Robert said fervently.
That night in prayer, special request was made to God for guidance
into truth. "Oh, we must have Thy truth, O God," they cried, "we will
follow it at any cost, if Thou wilt only make it clear. Help us in
studying Thy Word. Make it plain to our minds. O Lord, guide us into
The next Sunday they began their investigation by asking the minister
of the church that they visited for a brief outline of its doctrinal
belief. They then bought a concordance and the search for truth was
begun, which was to lead them into paths that they little dreamed of
then, and into experiences that they could not at that time foresee.
A THREATENING QUARREL
Among the old settlers in the vicinity to which Robert Davis and
his wife moved was Peter Newby and his family. They were of the old
pioneer type--rugged, honest, frugal, but they also were headstrong,
stubborn, with very little give and take in their make-up. Peter
claimed to know the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. He could
tell the names of the cities and creeks of the Holy Land from Dan to
Beersheba, and name the kings of Israel either backward or forward.
He had the books of the Bible at the tip of his tongue, and could name
the apostles and prophets without hesitation. He was a noted
debater or arguer, and met all opponents, large or small, with equal
confidence. When reason and logical argument failed him, he relied on
a stentorian voice and his power to bewilder. Few were able to hold
their own with him in religious discussion. Most men feared his biting
sarcasm and insinuating irony. In fact, Mr. Newby had silenced nearly
every opponent, and he stood out as the champion religious debater of
the community, at the time of our narrative. He had vanquished all his
foes, and now gloried in his supremacy.
But, Robert Davis did not know all of this. He regarded Peter Newby
as a good citizen, and probably a good Christian. The next few months,
however, put an entirely different face on the matter, especially on
the latter point.
Besides Peter Newby and his wife, there were three grown sons of
theirs, of whom Jake, and also his wife, figure in this narrative.
Jake Newby was a typical money-grubber, turning everything in the
way of financial deals to his own favor. He owned a piece of property
which Robert Davis finally decided he would buy. After considerable
negotiation, a deal was made, Jake reserving the right to move certain
small buildings off the property. Jake began, at once, to move these
structures, and more too. There was a specially built chicken-house
that had not been reserved by Jake, but which he proceeded to move
just as if it had been. Robert and Mary Davis were there.
"The chicken-house was not reserved by you, Jake, and you should not
move it," said Robert.
"Well, I intend to move it just the same. I need it," said Jake.
"But the contract does not provide for its removal," replied Robert.
"Shut up," snarled Jake, "I guess I know what I'm doing, don't I? I
tell you I'm going to move this house off."
"You will not move it off," said Robert, as he started toward Jake.
At this Jake desisted, muttered a few words about getting even,
and walked off, while, later on, Robert and Mary went home, rather
distressed over the turn of affairs.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE DEBATES
An apparently insignificant event happened about this time, that set
in motion influences of great moment, the effects of which are still
to be felt and seen. Robert Davis' sister in Michigan was a regular
subscriber to a religious journal. At this time she felt led to send
this paper to him.
"Robert, here is a new kind of religious paper," said Mary, who
was reading the first copy. "It has articles in it entitled, 'Full
Salvation,' 'Unity and Truth.' How does that sound?" Turning a page
over, she read again:
"'A definite, heart-searching, non-sectarian religious weekly,
published in the interests of the church of God. For the salvation
of sinners, entire sanctification of believers, divine healing of the
body, and the unity of all true Christians in the faith once delivered
to the saints.'"
"My, that sounds interesting," said Robert, "'Church of God'--I wonder
what church that is. 'Entire sanctification'--what does that mean? I
heard Brother Jones say on last Sunday that sanctified people were the
biggest cranks on earth, and he warned the congregation to lock their
chicken and smoke houses whenever they came around. But, just see
here, 'divine healing.' I wonder if that is Christian Science. Let me
read that paper," and he reached for it.
Robert dropped down into the nearest chair and was soon absorbed
in reading. He was gripped by a power he had never known before.
He noticed at once a directness, a simplicity, a spiritual flavor,
coupled with much quoting of proof-texts, that attracted his deepest
attention. He read an article on Repentance, one on Sanctification,
and two testimonies of divine healing.
"Upon my word! If that isn't the plainest-spoken and
easiest-understood religious matter I have read in many a day," said
Robert. "I wonder who sent it, and if any more will come."
Next week another copy of the new paper came, and Robert read an
article on "The Church of God, What It Is and What It Is Not."
"Mary, this paper is providentially sent to us. We have just decided
to search for truth. My soul longs to know God's real truth, and I
notice this paper has much to say about the 'truth.' We shall continue
our investigation of the doctrines of the denominations and probably
this paper will help us," said Robert. Before he laid the second issue
down, he read the following article on Truth:
"Unknowingly to himself, Pontius Pilate asked one of the greatest of
questions when he asked Jesus Christ, 'What is truth?' Jesus was on
trial before him, and He had just said, in reply to another question
of Pilate's, 'Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born,
and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness
unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice' (John
18:37). And then Pilate asked, 'What is truth?' but he did not stop to
get an answer.
"The 'truth' to which Jesus often referred means righteousness, true
religion, the genuine revelation of the true plan of salvation. This
is what the apostle John referred to when he said, 'For the truth's
sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever' (2 John 2).
The 'truth' in these texts is used in a broad sense to mean the
whole range of revealed religion, the whole system of New Testament
"Vast importance is attached to this truth. Opposed to it are error,
heresy, damnable doctrines of devils, human theories and philosophies,
leading souls away from God and into perdition. The eternal destiny of
men depends upon their finding and embracing the truth.
"If so much depends upon our finding the truth and obeying it, the
important question arises--how and where are we to find the truth? And
another question follows: How are we to discern the truth when we see
it? It is a fact that most religious people believe that their system
of religion is right. They already think that it is the truth;
even the most destructive doctrines are received as truth, and some
scripture is misapplied or perverted to uphold them. By what means may
the false be determined and rejected, and the true be established and
accepted? These are very important questions.
"There must be a starting-point. In the first place, 'What is truth?'
as Pilate put it. 'Thy word is truth' (John 17:17) said Jesus. This
is basic. The Word of God is truth. 'All scripture is given by
inspiration of God' (2 Tim. 3:16). God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible
are truth. If we confirm to the divine will, we are bound to be right,
and elected to eternal glory in the heavens; if not, we are doomed to
"But, there is no more striking fact than this, that spiritual truths
require more than intellect in order to grasp and comprehend them.
'For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man
which is in him?' (1 Cor. 2:11). A man knows the things of a man
because he is a man. Common experiences join him to his fellows, and
he understands them. 'Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but
the spirit of God.... But the natural man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he
know them, because they are spiritually discerned' (1 Cor. 2:11,14).
Man then, must get in contact with God, through the Holy Spirit, if he
is to know spiritual truth.
"Jesus tells just how to know the truth. 'If any man will do his will,
he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I
speak of myself (John 7:17). The way to know is to obey. 'Howbeit when
he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth'
"The secret then is out, it is as plain as day. It is this--Jesus
brought the truth to the world, and the Holy Spirit is everywhere
present to lead men into that truth. Wherever and whenever a person
desires to know the truth that he may obey it, there the Spirit of
God will be to enlighten and to lead. The Spirit will lead unerringly
every soul who wants the truth and will submit to His leadership. He
will lead the sinner to sincere and genuine repentance, the believer
into true sanctification, and also into the deeper experiences of
sanctification and love, and into a true Christian life.
"There is a remarkable instance on record, showing what an honest
desire to know the truth will accomplish. Years ago a portion of the
gospels was washed ashore in the East. The natives read and re-read
that portion over and over. What could it mean? It told of Jesus, but
who was Jesus? It spoke of His dying, but what for? And yet, so strong
was the impression this scrap of the gospel made, that regular periods
were set apart to worship the Being hinted at in that portion. An
honest effort was made to do His will. After several years, God sent
some missionaries to that country, and it was to their surprise to
find a tribe open-hearted to receive the truth.
"'Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace' (Job 22:21).
"'Seek and ye shall find.' May your search for truth be abundantly
The next few months found Robert and Mary Davis searching the
Bible for the truth. Every sermon they heard they compared with the
Scriptures. Articles in their new paper helped them greatly. They
bought a book of Bible Readings, and made as thorough an investigation
of Bible doctrine as they were capable of making. They made rapid
progress. They became believers in holiness and sanctification; for
the salvation theme held their interest most profoundly, and they
became well acquainted with the proof-texts which supported these
doctrines. The study of these texts brought great conviction to their
hearts, and both of them sought the Lord for forgiveness of their
sins, and both entered into the grace of conversion. The joy of this
experience made their Bible study still more delightful. They had not
been strangers to grace, but they had become slack and lukewarm, and
when the light of God began to shine more brightly they felt that they
should make sure work of it, and so they began at the bottom round of
the ladder. They were glad afterwards that they had done this, because
it gave them a sure starting-point.
Along in the fall of the year, as Robert was breaking ground for
wheat, he got an invitation to attend a neighborhood prayer meeting.
"Good evening, neighbor," said a voice, "don't you want to go to our
prayer meeting next Wednesday night?"
Robert looked up from his work and saw it was old Peter Newby.
"Why, yes, I guess so. Sure," said Robert. "What kind of a prayer
meeting is it?"
"We have a good one," said Peter, "come and see."
"All right, we'll come," said Robert.
This prayer meeting was held at Fairmount school house, a fine school
building situated on the brow of a lilac-covered hill at the bottom of
which hill one of the finest and largest springs in the country gushed
forth. It was, as stated, ostensibly a neighborhood prayer meeting,
but Peter Newby just about dominated it, and was carrying it on just
about to suit himself. The method pursued was to read a chapter, and
follow with a free-for-all exposition of it. Everybody had a chance
to speak and expound the texts, whether he knew anything about them or
not. Some queer theories were advanced in these discussions, which we
have neither time nor inclination to speak of now.
Robert Davis and Mary began to attend this prayer exposition meeting
as soon as they could. The Book of Romans was being read and studied
at this time, and chapter 5 was up for discussion. After the reading
of the chapter, Peter Newby, as usual, was on his feet ready to tell
the class all about it. He noticed Robert and Mary and, knowing that
they were strangers, he put on his most condescending and insinuating
air. Raising himself to his full height, and giving his grizzled head
just the right angle for incisive speech, he said:
"What is the apostle Paul writing about? Now, if you want to
understand what any given text means, you must know three things, my
friends. First you must know who was writing; second, you must know
to whom he was writing; and third, you must know what he was writing
about." And then he cocked his head at a different angle, and shot
glances around to see how his profound statement was being received.
He looked especially at Robert and Mary, and some of the others
glanced first at them and then at Peter, to see if there was a
prospect of striking fire.
Giving his head a backward jerk, Peter continued:
"The apostle Paul was the writer of this epistle, and he was writing
to the Romans. They were a Gentile church in Rome, and Paul was
writing about how Christians were to live. Now, see here friends, we
are all sinners, every one of us, sinners saved by grace. Paul said in
one place that he was the chief of sinners. I am a sinner, but I thank
God through Jesus Christ the Lord, that Christ died for us, and some
day I expect to land in the glory world. I know there are some who say
that they can't sin, but I am sure I sin and they do, too. No one can
live without sin in this low land of sorrow." And Peter again poised
his head at a quizzical angle, and glanced around to see how his talk
was being taken. He paused a moment, and, before he knew it, Robert
was on his feet, saying:
"I beg to differ with the brother who has just spoken about this
matter of committing sin. Paul says, in the twentieth verse of this
chapter, 'But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,' and in
verse 17, 'For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more
they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness
shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.' And the very first verse
says, 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.' It is true that 'all have sinned,' as
verse 12 says, but Jesus came to save us from our sins. Did you never
read Matt. 1:21, 'And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall
save his people from their sins'? Through Adam's sin we all became
sinners, Paul says, but through Christ 'shall many be made righteous.'
Through Adam we died in sin, through Christ we died to sin and live
unto righteousness. This chapter teaches very plainly that Jesus came
to bring grace sufficient to save us from our sins." And Robert sat
Peter Newby had been standing all this time. He looked at Robert very
quizzically. Here was a new type of opponent, one who spoke with the
utmost frankness and confidence, and yet without the least taint of
braggadocio. But Peter never had been beaten in debate or argument; so
he returned to the discussion with great vim and determination.
"What does this young upstart know about the Scriptures? Why, I have
been a student of the Scriptures for fifty long years, many years
before this young man was born. I have heard many great preachers in
my time, and they all said that man was born unto sin as the sparks
are to fly upward. 'He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar,
and the truth is not in him.' This is what the Scriptures say. And I
have read where Solomon said that 'there is no man that sinneth not,'
and did not John say, 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us'? Yes, he said that in 1 John
1:8. Ah, young man, you have much to learn yet about the Scriptures.
As long as we are in this old sinful flesh we will commit sin." And
Peter sat down, with an air of triumph.
Robert Davis arose immediately. Everybody present was on the tiptoe
of expectation. What would his reply be? They had not long to wait.
Turning directly to Peter Newby, he asked him a pointblank question:
"Sir, how much sin is there in this stove?" pointing to a stove that
"None, I suppose," answered Peter, rather feebly, as if he feared a
trap were being laid for him.
"How much sin is there in the wood or stone of this house?" Robert
asked Peter next.
"None, I suppose," he replied.
"Well, then," asked Robert, "how much sin will there be in this old
body when it is dead?"
"I suppose there will be none," Peter replied in a tone that
"Well, then, will you make death the salvation from sin? You say that
as long as we are in what you call the 'old sinful flesh" we must
commit sin, and yet you admit, as you must, that there will be no
sin in the body when it is dead. Where, then, does sin reside? Jesus
answers this question once for all in Matthew 15:19, 20: 'For out of
the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
thefts, false witness, blasphemies.' It is the heart that sins; 'the
soul that sinneth, it shall die,' says the prophet Ezekiel in Ezek.
18:4. The body will die and return to dust from whence it came, but
these immortal souls of ours will live on eternally. It is the soul
that sins. When in our intentions we purpose to sin, we are guilty
of sin before God. He that searches the heart, who looks not as man
looks, who sees the secret motive, he knows when the will consents to
do evil. Not a theft was ever committed, except that there was a will
to steal; not an act of dishonesty, except that there was a will to
deceive; not a lie was ever uttered, except there was a will to lie.
It is our souls that must be saved. 'Receiving the end of your faith,
even the salvation of your souls' (1 Peter 1:9).
"Our text says, 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' I wish to publicly thank God
for this peace in my soul. Jesus saves me from my sins. I know that
the verse, 1 John 1:8, is a stumbling-block to many, yet it is simple
when understood. John was stating fundamental propositions. He began
by saying that, 'if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we
have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his
Son cleanseth us from all sin.' Then, as if turning back to state the
basis, or antecedent of his remarks, he said, 'If we say that we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' In other
words, there was sin to be cleansed from the hearts of sinners, and
to declare there was no sin to be cleansed from, was only to deceive
themselves. The same arrangement follows in verses 9 and 10, where the
truth is first stated that 'if we confess our sins, he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness,' and then John stated the basis or antecedent of
forgiveness, which is the fact that all have sinned."
"Yes, yes, you can explain all you wish, young man, but you cannot
get around those other texts I quoted. 'He that saith he liveth and
sinneth not is a liar and the truth is not in him.' That's Bible, I
tell you," said Peter with vigor.
"Where is that in the Bible?" demanded Robert.
"It is there somewhere. I will find it soon," said Peter as he started
thumbing his Bible. The congregation waited in expectancy.
"I will give you five dollars if you will find that in the Bible,"
"Oh, you don't think it is in the Bible? I will get it. Maybe I cannot
find it now but it is there, and I will find it," said Peter. "But
what about Solomon's sayings, 'There is no man that sinneth not'?"
"Solomon lived a thousand years before Christ, Mr. Newby, and do you
not think that Christ did something for us that the law could not do?
'He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon
better promises,' says Paul, in Heb. 8:6. It was probably true that,
in Solomon's day, no one lived free from committing sin, but since
Christ came to redeem us from sin, we can be saved. Of course, anyone
can sin, and there is danger of sinning, but if we live close to
Jesus, He is able to keep us from falling, as Jude. 24, 25 says,"
replied Robert, as he sat down again.
Peter Newby closed the debate by saying: "Next week we shall study the
sixth chapter of Romans. The young man who spoke tonight seems to know
considerable about the Scripture, so we shall appoint him leader. I
will find that text he asked for. It is in my old Bible at home." And
the crowd dispersed.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE DEBATES (continued)
Robert Davis did much studying between the two prayer meeting nights.
Peter Newby searched through his old Bible at home for "he that saith
he liveth and sinneth not is a liar," but he could not find it. The
nearest text he could find that was like it was 1 John 1:8, and he
knew that Robert Davis had already explained it. Peter studied hard,
however. He found several texts, such as Prov. 20:9; Matt. 19:16, 17;
Rom. 3:10; 1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 7, and others, which he thought supported
his theory that no one could live free from sin. He reckoned without
taking his opponent into account, however, and came off worse
confounded in the second encounter than he did in the first. Romans 6
was rather hard on Peter's theory, and he decided it would not pay him
to say much about it.
The prayer meeting was well attended on that night. The air was full
of expectancy. Peter's long supremacy in debating caused several to
wish secretly for him to be beaten; others took his side, and did all
that they could to encourage him. A few were interested for truth's
sake. After the chapter was read, Peter Newby was first on his feet
and began his diatribe.
"Verse 4 means water baptism," he said, "and if a man is not baptized
he cannot be saved. We go down into the water a sinner, and come up
a Christian. Some of you people have never been baptized, and yet you
claim to be saved.
"Now, last prayer meeting night, I promised to find that old familiar
text, 'He that saith he liveth and sinneth not is a liar and the truth
is not in him,' but I have not found it yet. But I will find it, mind
you. Moreover, I have some texts that prove my contention that no one
can live free from sin while in this life.
"Prov. 20:9: 'Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from
my sin?' This text can mean only one thing, which is that no one can
be clean from sin.
"Matt. 19:16, 17, 'There is none good but one, that
is God.' Now, how can any man call himself good in the face of this
"Read Rom. 3:10: 'As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not
one.' No, not one! Do you hear it? No, not one!" Peter shouted.
"And Paul said that 'Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners;
of whom I am chief' (1 Tim. 1:15). And if Paul was the chief of
sinners, do we think we can live free from sin? No, sir! we can not.
And in Romans 7 he declared that he was carnal, sold under sin (Rom.
7:14). I tell you we cannot live better than Paul did. But I am a
Christian, for I was baptized fifty years ago in the Big Sandy river,
and the Scriptures say that he that 'believeth and is baptized' the
same shall be saved." And Peter again resumed that air of triumph that
made him famous throughout the community. Then he cast his eyes around
the audience, and poised his head at various angles, in token of his
"The brother has gone a long way from his text for his material
tonight," said Robert Davis. "He took what we boys used to call
a 'running jump.' The text he quoted from Proverbs proves nothing
whatever against a holy life. No man can save himself, for salvation
is by faith, not by works. But, again, let me remind Mr. Newby that
Christ has come since Solomon spoke, and surely Christ has done
something for us. The other texts he quoted are easily explained. In
Matt. 19:16, 17, Jesus was stating a primary truth, as all goodness
comes from God, yet, he was trying to impress upon the young man that
he, Jesus, was God. No man is good in and of himself. God must come
in before he is good. God's people are righteous, good. John says,
'He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous'
(1 John 3:7). Now, let us read Rom. 3:10: 'There is none righteous, no
not one.' I wish Mr. Newby would read the verses following the tenth
verse. What kind of people was Paul writing of? Christians? What! Do
Christians have a throat like an open sepulchre? Is their mouth full
of cursing and bitterness? Are their feet swift to shed blood? How
about it, Mr. Newby? How about it friends? What is your verdict?"
"That cannot mean Christians," said a voice from the back of the room.
"Of course, it can not. Paul was describing the wayward sinner. As for
Paul being actually the chief of sinners when he wrote 1 Tim. 1:15, it
is preposterous. He does, indeed, speak in the present tense, 'I
am,' but it is perfectly evident that he makes use of a rhetorical
expression which is permissible, without being called in question as
to his life. If he was, in reality, the chief of sinners at that time,
he could hardly say, as he did, 'Ye are witnesses, and God also, how
holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that
believe' (1 Thess. 2:10). And it is entirely inconsistent to believe
that the Christ would permit a chief-sinner to be an ambassador for
Him. Mr. Newby's text in Romans 7:14 will come up for discussion next
week; so I will not speak of it now.
"You did not find your text, Mr. Newby. The five dollars is ready
whenever you find it," said Robert Davis, as he sat down.
All eyes were now upon Mr. Newby. Here was an opponent that was not to
be stampeded or intimidated, one who knew his ground, and kept close
to his texts. It was easy to see that Peter Newby was nonplused. It
usually had been easy for him to silence an opponent, or to get an
expression of agreement, so that he smarted under the feeling that
he was near to being defeated. His texts were gone. He had no more
to offer, and he hardly dared to expound any of Romans 6, so there he
sat, red in the face, his right hand pulling nervously at his stubby
white mustache. It was either rise or admit defeat. So Peter Newby
rose. His voice was cold and sinister.
"I do not propose, friends, to be browbeaten by an upstart of a
preacher. I tell you I have been a student of the Scriptures, and I
have heard many learned ministers of the gospel preach, and I have
never heard one of them state that they lived free from sin. I try to
do my best every day, but, I tell you, the devil is strong, and the
flesh is weak, so I often fall into grievous sins and errors. But I
feel that I am a Christian, nevertheless. I have been baptized, and
know that I believe." And the old man sat down.
"Well, we have not discussed our chapter very much," said Robert. "Has
any one any explanation to give?"
People glanced at Peter, but it was evident that he was about through
for the evening. Robert then rose, and said:
"Friends, this sixth chapter of Romans is full of proof-texts favoring
holiness of life. Paul asks, 'Shall we continue in sin, that grace
may abound?' 'God forbid,' he answers. And then Paul asks a most
significant and conclusive question, 'How shall we, that are dead to
sin, live any longer therein?' Mark the words, 'dead to sin.' What
could Paul mean, except that we are to become dead to sin?
"Now, notice verse 6, please, 'Knowing this, that our old man is
crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that
henceforth we should not serve sin.' Crucifixion means death. The 'old
man,' which means the old fleshly, sinful life, is to be killed, so
that he may no longer dominate the life. Praise God!"
When Robert said these last words all in the house looked at him.
They were not used to such expressions. Robert was a little surprised
himself, as that was the first time he had ever said them. But his
heart was full of heavenly joy. He knew God saved him.
"Now, shall we notice verse 16 and down to the twentieth? We
necessarily must serve God or Satan; we yield our members, such as the
tongue or the hands, to do evil, or to do good. And to whom we yield
these members, his servants we are. This is fundamental. A person who
does right serves God; one who sins serves the devil. Nothing can be
plainer than this. Suppose we read 1 John 3:8. 'He that committeth sin
is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this
purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works
of the devil.' This is plain teaching, yet it is entirely logical.
Jesus said that no man can serve two masters. We cannot serve God and
mammon at the same time.
"And, could anything be more emphatic than these words, 'For when ye
were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness?' And these,
'But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have
your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life' (v. 22)."
Peter Newby was plainly growing restive under these words of Robert's.
He rose and said:
"I do not expect to sit here and be insulted by being called of the
devil, and so forth. There are many wise men who have expounded the
Scriptures, and they laid no claim to being saved from sin. There is a
lot for this young man to learn yet."
After this the meeting was dismissed. But there were little groups
gathering here and there, talking about the debate. Peter Newby was
rapidly losing his prestige. Most of the people took sides and enjoyed
the conflict, while a few were interested in finding the truth.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE DEBATES (concluded)
The dust was wiped from more Bibles in the community around Fairmount
School following the debates between Peter Newby and Robert Davis than
for many a day. Even old Mr. Stephenson, who was the most indifferent
to the claims of religion, hunted a Bible, and declared he was going
to find out which one was right, Newby or Davis. Charley Moss, a
goodhearted, but wild, wicked fellow, became interested also. He
bought his first New Testament and dedicated himself to the task of
reading it through. "I must find out," said he, "what this young man
Davis is talking about. His religion seems to be the real thing."
The next prayer meeting night found the house packed to the limit.
Conjectures and opinions as to how the debate would go were passed
back and forth. Peter Newby's partisans rallied to his support. A few
were inclined to accept Robert Davis' views, while the majority were
moved by morbid curiosity to watch the outcome of a verbal conflict.
Peter Newby wore an air of entire confidence--on this occasion he had
the seventh chapter of Romans back of him he thought. Nearly every one
else who accepted the old theology of the community expected him to
"clean up" his opponent in grand style that night.
As for Robert Davis, the previous week had been one of prayer and
study. He had first entered the prayer meeting with the intention to
help along a good work. He had no intention of entering into debate
or controversy with anyone. Now, as he viewed the matter, he was
surprised to find the role that he was playing. On the first night, he
had only intended to stand up for and express his convictions toward a
very vital subject--that of living above sin. He had been a sinner, he
had now become soundly converted, had received light on sanctification
(though he was not yet sanctified) and holy living, and his only
object had been to be loyal to the truth he had found. As it looked
to him now, he was one of the principals in a battle between truth and
error. He was very young in faith, and it is not to be wondered at if
his zeal was greater than his knowledge. Day by day he prayed that the
saving truth of the gospel might be made plain to all, and that deadly
error might be exposed, and its power to blind the people destroyed,
completely and eternally.
"Romans 7," called out Peter Newby, who led off without consulting
anybody. "Read the first verse, Mrs. Johnson. Everybody follow the
reading. There are so many present tonight that only a small portion
will get to read. Pay strict attention."
After the chapter was read, Peter began:
"Neighbors," he said, "you have known me for a long time, and all of
you know that I am fair and square to everybody. I try to treat my
neighbors right. I have been a Christian a long time. I was baptized
fifty years ago in the Big Sandy River. Water baptism is essential to
salvation, so somewhere between the time I went down into the water
and came up out of it, I was converted.
"Now we are studying the seventh chapter of Romans. Paul gives his
experience in this chapter. Paul was a great man but he said that he
was 'carnal, sold under sin' (v. 14). Now my experience is just like
Paul's. He says, 'For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate,
that do I,' and then in verse 19, 'For the good that I would I do not:
but the evil which I would not, that I do.' This is my experience.
I do many things I ought not to do, and I leave undone many things I
ought to do. This old tongue of mine says many ugly things, and when
I get with wicked boys and men I crack my jokes too, and these hands
often do wrong, but, friends, I am trying in my weak way to serve the
Lord and to make heaven my home. But I do not expect to be better than
Paul. He said that when he would do good, evil was present with him.
This is my experience. I would like to do good, but the flesh is too
weak, and there is too much sin in me." Peter sat down.
Robert Davis arose. Every eye was upon him. Bibles and Testaments
were opened. Old Mr. Stephenson was there with his Bible, and very
attentive was he. Charley Moss had his Testament open at the proper
"At first glance, it may seem," Robert said, "that Romans 7 upholds a
life of more or less sinning in a Christian. A closer view, however,
reveals that it does not. The first night that I was present at
these prayer meetings, Brother Newby laid down one sound method for
interpreting the Scriptures. He said, 'First, one should know who was
writing, second, one should know to whom he was writing, and third,
one should know what he was writing about.' This is a sound theory.
Let us apply it to the text in question. First, who was writing? Paul.
Second, to whom was he writing? To the Christians at Rome. Third, what
was he writing about? His experience under the law."
This assertion came like a thunderclap from a clear sky. Peter Newby
saw, at once, the significance of the statement, and he shifted
uneasily in his seat. He riveted his eyes to the text, in an effort to
discover some point that would be in opposition to Robert's statement.
The crowd looked open-mouthed. This was a new doctrine--they had never
heard it explained that way. The interest was intense.
Continuing, Robert said: "This is made plain by the first few verses
of the chapter. Please notice them--'Know ye not, brethren, (for I
speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over
a man as long as he liveth?' Then he shows in the verses following
that Christians have 'become dead to the law' through Christ, and that
they are married to Christ, and bring forth fruit unto God. 'But now
we are delivered from the law,' says Paul.
"His whole argument, down to and including verse 6, is that we have
died to the law through crucifixion with Christ, and are therefore
free to marry another. We have become dead to the law, and since death
dissolves the marriage vow, we are, therefore, free from connection
with the law, and are joined unto Christ. Beginning with verse 14 to
the end of the chapter, is given an explanation of how Paul's sinful
nature brought him into subjection to its demands. It is a clear
testimony of an honest man's experience under the old law. By that law
he became aware of sin and felt its sinfulness, yet that law brought
no grace nor power to preserve him from violating its prohibitions. He
desired to do good, but could not. Sin came to life and slew him. Paul
was condemned by the law, and yet he could not come from under the
condemnation. He was, so to speak, tied or married to a dead body, a
law or master which brought death, and he wondered where deliverance
would come from. 'Thank God,' he says, 'it will come through Jesus
Christ the Lord.'
"This cannot be the experience of Christians," said Robert. "If you
will just look at the second verse of chapter 8, you will find these
words: 'For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me
free from the law of sin and death.' And verse 3 says, 'For what the
law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending
his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, [or by a
sacrifice for sin] condemned sin in the flesh,' and verse 4 states:
'That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,' etc.
"Hence, it is evident that Christians are to live holy lives. God
demands holiness of us. 'Be ye holy; for I am holy,' says 1 Pet. 1:16.
Yea, we are to repent and turn away from all sin, for Christ 'gave
himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify
unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works' (Titus 2:14).
And 'the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all
men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world'
(Titus 2:11, 12)."
The arrow of conviction shot deep down into many hearts as Robert
Davis spoke these words. The truth he spoke commended itself to
their minds and consciences. Some rebelled, and rejected his sound
arguments. Peter Newby especially was agitated. He felt himself
sinking into despair, as far as argument was concerned. Old Mr.
Stephenson and Charley Moss trembled from head to foot. The Spirit of
God was working powerfully in their and others' hearts.
"I am not going to accept the interpretations placed upon this seventh
chapter of Romans by the speaker," said Peter, as he arose to reply.
"Why? Because I never heard it explained that way. Why? Because I
have heard Brother Peters preach from these texts, and he has always
declared a man could not keep from sin. Living free from sin! Whoever
heard of such a thing? It can't be done, that is all there is to it.
We cannot keep from sin. Paul said sin was ever present with him, and
I know it is with me. I try to do right, but sin gets the better
of me. I ask God to forgive me every time I pray. I tell you, a man
simply cannot live without committing sin."
When Peter Newby sat down, Robert Davis arose again, and said:
"There is a text of scripture that says certain persons cannot cease
from sin. I do not say that anyone here fulfills the description in
that text. Peter says, in his Second Epistle, chapter two, verse 14:
'Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin.' As I
said, I charge no man with this kind of character, and only read it to
give you a Scriptural description of one who cannot live without sin."
It was painfully evident that this was an unwise thing to say at
that particular time. Robert Davis was young, and full of zeal. Most
probably he should not have uttered those words. Peter Newby was
powerfully affected. He felt as if his character had been scandalized
before the whole crowd. His face waxed red with an inner rage. His
body quivered and shook with excitement. No one had ever seen him
quite so exercised. He arose slowly, but with extreme determination.
Things had gone as far as they could without a physical clash.
"Hold your place, young man, I will not allow anyone to insult me in
this manner. Be careful what you say. There will be another chapter
added to this if you are not careful. I will defend my honor, no
matter what it costs." And he resumed his seat.
The air was filled with intense excitement. A few words from Robert
Davis would have struck fire, and he knew it. So he quietly sat still
without saying a word. The tenseness of the situation was painful.
Just then Mary Davis started that old familiar song:
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past,
Safe into the haven guide,
Oh, receive my soul at last."
A few joined in toward the last half of the verse, and, as she began
on the second verse, the whole congregation sang with vigor:
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring,
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing."
Robert and Mary Davis started for home as soon as they could. Peter
Newby got into an argument with old Mr. Stephenson, who by this time
had become a sort of champion of Robert's and a crowd encircled them.
Peter Newby found a match in the old man, for Mr. Stephenson, at this
time, while mentally convinced, was still unsaved, and could be as
personal and ironical as Mr. Newby. They argued the point of a sinless
life for an hour, mixed a good deal of personal invective into the
argument, which drew from the crowd vociferous "ha! ha's!" and they
parted without feeling one whit better toward one another than they
WHAT CHURCH SHOULD I JOIN?
The week following the events that took place at the schoolhouse was
an important one in the life of Robert and Mary Davis. Having put
their hands to the plow, they could not look back. Already, they were
aware that the steps they had taken religiously were separating them
from the people about them. Robert's bold stand for a holy Christian
life made him the butt of many a joke, and a laughing-stock. They
began to hunger for companionship and spiritual fellowship with those
of like mind and hope. The gradual separation taking place, which was
throwing over their neighbors a coldness toward them, accentuated the
question of which church they were going to join. Their hearts were
hungry for soul-food, for spiritual nurture; there was a longing
within which was acutely felt, but which was unsatisfied. The
intensity of this desire for the fellowship of saints increased as
Robert and Mary studied the Scriptures and beheld glimpses of the path
which was being so clearly marked out from therein. They were willing
to be martyrs for the truth, but how their souls did long for someone
to whom they could unburden their hearts and in whom they could
There is inherent in the human heart a desire for fellowship and
companionship. God has recognized this desire. Jesus Christ soon
gathered around him chosen men, who were one with Him in heart and
soul, one with Him in His grand purpose to lift a world out of
sin. The story of Christ's and the apostles' lives reveals a most
remarkable affinity of spirit between Christ and them. They became so
much at one with Him that they gladly forsook every earthly prospect,
and became willing to die for Him, even as He died for them. Jesus
made a class called his "disciples," which was an inevitable result
of His salvation work. They were the members of the spiritual kingdom
which He founded. They were the members of the church which He built.
With His infinite love He had sought them, and with His atoning blood
He had bought them. He found them dying, and He gave them life; He
found them sinning and doomed to a devil's hell, and He redeemed them.
Having received so richly of Christ's blessing, all these saved ones
were drawn into a unity of soul and heart unknown in any organization
It was exactly for this that Robert and Mary Davis were longing,
at the time of our narrative. They had expected soon after their
conversion, to join some denomination. They had purposely set out
to see which church was right. They had supposed that it would be a
matter of a few weeks only, and then they would be safely housed in
their church home. But the more they searched, and the more of the
Bible they read, the less inclined they were to join any of the
churches about them. God was leading them, but it was some time before
the hand of the Lord was seen.
There was an awakening over all the religious world in the latter part
of the nineteenth century. Holiness, the key-note of Holy Scripture,
was being taught. Out of that holiness awakening grew a reformation
whose standard was "Back to the Bible" in faith and practice. Robert
and Mary Davis were strangers as yet to these grand movings of the
blessed Holy Spirit, but that Spirit was leading them on unerringly.
God desired to plant in Bethany His own glorious church, to be a
beacon-light, an ark of salvation, to the people of that community.
A series of events accelerated the progress of the Davis' toward the
ultimate truth. Their attendance at the various churches, and their
spiritual life, caused every pastor to consider them good prospects
for membership. It so happened that during the few days that followed
the last debate at the schoolhouse, three different ministers visited
them with this idea in mind.
On one fine day, Pastor John B. Jones, of the M.E. Church, drove up.
He was invited in, most cordially. After some casual remarks, Pastor
Jones introduced the subject of joining church.
"Do you contemplate uniting with any church in the near future?" he
"Yes, it has been our intention to join soon," said Robert. "May I ask
a few questions?"
"Certainly," replied Mr. Jones.
"Does the Methodist Church teach holiness?"
"John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church," said Mr. Jones,
"taught holiness, and sanctification subsequent to regeneration. But
we do not preach much on that subject now."
"What I am thinking about," said Robert, "is this: I am longing for a
real church home, where I can feel at one with, and in fellowship with
real Christians. Pastor Jones, there are so many professing Christians
who are Christians only in name. I cannot fellowship them. They engage
in questionable practices; they are dishonest and tricky; they use
bad language; and their bent is more toward pleasure than religion. My
soul really craves a church home. Can you offer me such where I shall
have the fellowship I crave?"
"We need just such members as you and Mrs. Davis would be, Mr. Davis,"
said Pastor Jones. "Many of our members are not spiritual. I have
tried to arouse them, but it seems in vain, but if we had more members
like you, we should have a spiritual church. Old Mother Piercy claims
sanctification, and there are three or four who are praying members."
"I will pray about it, Mr. Jones," said Robert.
On the next day, Mr. Percy Johnson visited them on the same mission,
and on the day following, Mr. Claude Perkins came. To them, Robert
replied much as he did to Mr. Jones. All of them deplored the lack
of vital godliness in their churches and bewailed the lack of
spirituality among their numbers. It was a fact that on prayer meeting
nights very few persons were out to either of their churches. On the
outside, Robert could discern little difference between the various
denominations. He had learned that they held different doctrines, and
had different schemes of government, but as to the real church life,
the heart and soul of them, he saw little difference. He was about to
decide to join by casting lots, when something providentially started
his mind along another line of thinking.
Robert Davis suddenly bethought himself of the new religious paper.
Those words which he read when he first saw a copy stood out before
"A Definite, Heart-Searching, Non-Sectarian
Published in the Interests of
THE CHURCH OF GOD."
"Mary," Robert suddenly said to his wife, "there is beginning to form
in my mind an idea of what a church ought to be. I suppose that text
in the Acts that you read this morning for worship, and that religious
paper, are responsible for it. These words paint a beautiful picture:
"'And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of
one soul: neither said any of them that ought of these things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great
power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
and great grace was upon them all.'
"This, it seems to me, is the kind of church there ought to be today.
Where is it? By the way, those words were written of the early church,
were they not? Yes, for see here, in Acts 2:47 it says, 'And the Lord
added to the church daily such as should be saved.' This description
is of the early church then.
"They were united, with one heart and soul; one holy purpose animated
them; one powerful motive brought them together. There were no
divisions among them, they all believed the same thing, and their holy
fellowship was complete. Everyone knew them as the disciples of Jesus,
and anyone under conviction of sin knew where to go for salvation. It
was a pure church. I suppose that there was not a sinner who dared
to profess very long among them. It was not a mixed multitude, part
saved, part unsaved, part trying to do God's will, and part with a
bent on pleasure and full of worldliness. They were all full of grace.
They were humble, too, and consecrated. They were not classified as
rich and poor--they were all brethren, and the wealthier members had
a care for the poorer members' temporal welfare. What a contrast with
the churches as they exist today! My heart longs for a pure, united
church which will bear the pure testimony to the world."
"Mary, do you suppose that there is any church today like the early
church was?" asked Robert.
"I do not know," said Mary. "It may be that there is."
"Do you suppose the 'church of God,' in whose interests this paper is
printed, can be that pure apostolic church?" said Robert. "What
should the true church be called, anyway? This paper says it is
'non-sectarian.' What is a sect? What does 'non-sectarian' mean? Say,
Mary, let us set this afternoon apart as a time of investigation of
what the Bible has to say about the church. What do you say?"
"Let us do that," said Mary. "We have not read the Scriptures at all
on this subject. Now, since we wish to find a church home, it would be
well to first search the Scriptures; probably the Bible will direct us
in this most important step."
WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES?
After dinner on that day, Robert and Mary Davis prayerfully and
reverently began a study on the New Testament church. They had not, as
we have intimated before, made any particular effort to ascertain
what the Scriptures had to say about this subject. It was not until
circumstances forced the issue upon them that any particular concern
about it entered into their minds. On this day, however, they began
a most earnest investigation of the matter. They had determined
beforehand to accept whatever the Scriptures had to say about it, and
to abide by their teachings.
"I have a concordance ready, Mary," said Robert, "so let us begin. May
God direct us in this Bible study."
"I shall bring the Scripture textbook and the Bible," said Mary. "I am
"I suppose that we may as well take the first text in the
concordance," said Robert. "It is Matt. 16:18."
"'And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I
will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it,'" read Mary.
"I have heard a few discussions about the 'rock' of this text," said
Robert. "Some affirm that it means Peter, others that it means Peter's
confession, and still others that it means Christ. I do not know which
is right, but I believe Christ is the real rock. Anyway, Mary, it
teaches that Christ did build a church, doesn't it? and that it should
not be overthrown. Read Acts 2:47."
"'Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord
added to the church daily such as should be saved,'" read Mary. "Then
the church was built by this time, wasn't it? 'And the Lord added to
the church,' Then I wonder if they joined the church? How did the Lord
"I do not know," said Robert, "maybe there was no joining in that day.
It may be that as soon as they were saved they were counted members
of the church. There are several texts here in Acts about the church.
'There was a great persecution against the church which was at
Jerusalem,' (Acts 8:1); they 'ordained them elders in every church'
(Acts 14:23); Paul 'saluted the church' (Acts 18:22), etc. Well, there
was an early church, judging from these texts, which corroborates the
words of Jesus who said He would build a church."
"What was the name of that church?" asked Mary. "Are there any texts
that show what it was called?"
"Let us see. Here is a text--Acts 20:28. See what that verse says,"
"'Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over
which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of
God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,'" said Mary.
"Here is another text--1 Cor. 1:2," said Robert.
"'Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are
sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in
every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs
and ours,'" read Mary.
"Here is another with 'church of God' in it--1 Cor. 10:32, and another
in Gal. 1:13; also one in I Tim. 3:5. All of these have 'church
of God' in them. Oh, yes, I skipped one text in I Cor. 15:9," said
Robert. "That is a good name. It shows that it is God's church."
"What have we learned so far?" asked Mary. "We have learned that
Christ built the church, and that it was named the church of God. What
else can we learn about it? I would like to know who the members were,
and how they were made members."
"Maybe there are Bible answers to these questions," said Robert. "See
"'Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is
behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake,
which is the church.' This says the church is His body. Are there any
texts to explain that?" said Mary.
"Try Col. 1:18," said Robert.
"'And he is the head of the body, the church,'" Mary read.
"Read Eph. 1:22, 23," said Robert.
"'And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head
over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him
that filleth all in all.'"
"I guess we shall have to look up the word 'body' to find out just
what it is," said Robert. "Here is I Cor. 12:13."
"'For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be
Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made
to drink into one Spirit.'"
"Try Romans 12:4, 5," said Robert.
"'For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not
the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every
one members one of another.'"
"This makes it plainer," said Robert. "As I see it now, Christ's body
is the church, and the church is His people. That is logical. Just
like my body, it has a variety of members, yet it is just one body. So
Paul says the church is."
"How do persons get into this church of God? Mr. Jones asked us to
join the church. So did Mr. Perkins, and Mr. Johnson. They said that
they would open the door and receive members. But, Robert, I feel,
yes, thank the Lord, I know that I am saved, and yet I am not a member
of any church. How can this be?" asked Mary.
"I do not know about that, Mary," replied Robert. "Maybe you are a
church member, after all. Let us see another text. Yes, don't you
remember Acts 2:47, which said that 'the Lord added to the church
daily such as should be saved'? If salvation made them members then
why does not salvation make us members now? Why, Mary, surely it
does. This must correspond with Paul's saying that we read from I Cor.
12:13, about the Spirit baptizing us all into one body. I begin to
see now that we get into the church that Jesus built by being saved
through the Spirit, and that salvation makes us members of the church.
Well, praise God for these truths! They fit right into my heart."
"Now another point seems plain," resumed Robert, "the church, in order
to be pure, must have only saved members. And Jesus would not add any
but saved members. I see that."
"And more than that," said Mary, "if Christ adds the members, then
every Christian is bound to be a member, isn't he?"
"That must be right," said Robert.
"But that would make one big church, Robert, and you know everybody
cannot see alike about the church," said Mary.
"Why not, Mary? If Jesus built a church, and if He adds the members,
and if all the members are saved, and if the Spirit puts them all into
one body, and that body is the church, and if He named it, why then
would it not be the right church? I do not see how anyone could be a
Christian without being in this church," said Robert.
"Is not the church of God what Pastor Jones called the 'invisible
church' and are not all the denominations together the visible
church?" asked Mary.
"Invisible church! Why, was all that early church invisible, Mary?
Impossible! Paul persecuted the church, it says. There was something
visible to persecute, was there not? Paul wrote to the church at
Corinth. Surely there was something to write to. What puzzles me,
though, is where this church is today. It is plain enough that the
early New Testament church was visible, and that it was organized, and
had ministers and government. It had power and grace also, and it
grew rapidly, and spread over much of the Roman Empire even before the
death of the apostles. But where is it now? This is a mystery to me,"
and Robert was troubled.
"What have we found so far through reading the Scriptures this
afternoon?" said Robert. "Let us make a summary of the points we have
found, and write them down. Get some paper, please, dear. Let us keep
a record of our findings. We promised the Lord to abide by His words.
Jesus said one time: 'Thy word is truth'; so, whatever the Scriptures
say must be right."
"Here is paper and pen and ink," said Mary.
"Very well," said Robert, "thank you. Put down--
"1. Jesus Christ promised, or affirmed that He would build a church,
one which was to be His church (Matt. 16:18).
"2. That church was to stand forever (same text).
"3. The Lord added members to that church (Acts 2:47).
"4. Salvation made them members of the church (same text).
"5. The name of that church is, or was, the church of God (Acts 20:28,
and other texts).
"6. The church of God was visible in New Testament times (1 Cor. 1:2).
"7. The church was the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:24).
"8. The Spirit placed every saved one in this one body (1 Cor. 12:13;
Rom. 12:4, 5).
"9. Hence, it must have contained all the Christians.
"10. And, therefore, the apostolic church of true believers--the
spiritual body of Christ; and the church-members--the collective body
of worshippers, were identical. When you saw one, you saw the other."
"That is as far as we have gone, Mary. But we are not through the New
Testament yet. I was just counting, and there are about one hundred
texts in which the word 'church' occurs. But, it seems to me we have
learned a great deal. I can see plainly enough that there was only
one church in the early era of Christianity. All the ministers were
welcome in every congregation. They all went by one name. There was
probably only one congregation in any one city. I do not know whether
they had a class-book or not, but they were united in Christ. Well,
fold that sheet up, Mary; that contains the summary of our work this
afternoon. We may derive some value from it later on."
"But, I am really puzzled," continued Robert. "Something certainly has
happened to the church since the apostles' day. It is all divided now.
I believe some said that there are hundreds of denominations in the
world now. But I am determined on this--that I will not join any
church until this mystery as to its history has been cleared up, and
I can see definitely the will of God in the matter. It is possible,
Mary, that this church of God, which this paper stands for, may be
what we are looking for. It has a Bible name, which is one thing
In its favor. But we shall wait. I take my stand, here and now, God
helping me, for Christ's pure church. I will look until my dying
day to find it on earth, and will pray Almighty God to establish a
congregation of this church here in order that it may show forth what
God can do for men."
So powerfully was Robert moved that he proposed that they pray. In
prayer, Robert renewed his covenant to walk in all of God's light.
"Dear heavenly Father," he said, "we have been studying thy Word in
an effort to find out which church we should join. Lead us, guide us
aright in this matter, we pray. Our souls crave spiritual communion
with thy saints. Show us Thy people. Plant such a church as we have
found in the Scriptures and which we know existed in Bible times;
plant a congregation of Thy church in our midst, O Father. Do not
forsake us, but lead us. Amen."
ROBERT DAVIS' BATTLES
A month passed away rapidly. Robert and Mary Davis were making
arrangements to occupy the property bought from Jake Newby. Ever since
the little altercation over the removal of the chicken-house,
Robert had not seen much of Jake. As for Jake, he continued sour
and implacable. It was very hard for any Newby to take anything from
anyone, and yet, when they were on the right side of anything they
were bold champions for it. Some of the best improvements fostered
by the community had been initiated by them. Nevertheless, Robert
considered it best to avoid any further rupture of their relations.
Jake Newby felt keenly the outcome of the debates in the Fairmount
School. He did not like to see his father suffer a loss of his
prestige in the community. He nursed a secret grudge against Robert,
and determined that if ever an opportunity presented itself to his
liking, he would do something to humble him. He chafed especially
under the implication that his father was not a Christian, and if only
he could cause a downfall to Robert he would get sweet revenge.
Robert Davis was unaware of what was going on in Jake Newby's mind. He
had not counted on any bitterness over their little dispute.
A few days before Robert and Mary planned to move, Robert went over to
their new home to mow the yard and clean up a little. Jake Newby saw
him coming, and noticed that he was alone.
"Now is my time," muttered Jake to himself. So he strode over to where
"Do you mean that I cannot have my chickenhouse, Robert Davis?" asked
"Jake, you know that the chickenhouse was not reserved in our
contract," said Robert.
"You are a liar," shouted Jake.
"You are mistaken, Jake," said Robert calmly, but feeling a strong
impulse to strike his opponent.
"You are a liar, Davis, and you have insulted my father," said Jake,
at the same time shaking his finger dose to Robert's face.
Instantly, Robert's powerful right arm shot a blow directly at Jake's
jaw. It caught him square on the chin, and Jake went sprawling over
the lawn. Jake arose, thoroughly angry. He rushed at Robert like a
demon, but Robert quickly stepped to one side and caught Jake with
another blow. Jake then closed in on Robert and attempted to throw him
Over and across the lawn they surged, trampling under foot the
shrubbery which Jake had planted to beautify the homestead. The men
were about equally matched in size and strength, but Robert's clearer
brain and strategy were too much for his opponent.
At last they fell in a heap, with Jake on top, and he was raining
blows upon Robert's face in token of his victory, when all at once
Robert gave a sudden turn and landed Jake underneath before Jake
was aware of what was happening. But by this time Robert's heart was
talking to him about the fight, so he merely held Jake down until he
gave up and promised to go home and not make trouble any more. Then he
let him up.
Jake shook himself, and started home. Robert was so upset that he
could not work. He sat down on the porch of the house and took a
survey of the affair. He became so engrossed in his study that he did
not hear the sound of falling footsteps, until they were close upon
him. He looked up quickly, and met the scornful gaze of Peter Newby's
"And so you have become a fighting holiness man have you? You were so
holy a short time ago that you could insult an old man like me with
your insinuating remarks. Now, maybe you will believe me when I say
that man can't live without sinning," said Peter disdainfully.
Robert was so completely whipped by his own conscience that he felt no
inclination to defend himself. Indeed, how could he defend himself?
"Now, young man, you ought to drop this holiness stuff, for there is
nothing in it--all bunk. Living above sin are you? Ha! ha! ha!" and
the old man gave poor Robert an explosive horse-laugh.
"Goodbye, holy Robert," said Peter, as he drove away.
Robert sat still on the porch. He began to wonder if this was the way
he was going to dedicate his new home, and if he had destroyed his
influence in the community. What would Mary think of him! Good, quiet,
godly Mary, who had always looked up to him as the embodiment of noble
and manly qualities. And Mary was cherishing a little one under her
heart, and preparing to receive a priceless treasure. What kind of a
father was he going to be, Robert asked himself. Shall I tell her, or
shall I hide it? Swiftly the thoughts ran through his mind while big,
cold drops of sweat stood out upon his forehead like beads of crystal.
Never before had he felt so thoroughly miserable. In his youth, Robert
had never been quarrelsome, but he had accepted challenges whenever
they were made. Since his conversion, however, he had lived a
consistent Christian life, and he had been very particular of his
conduct since God had shown him light on holiness and sanctification.
"I will kneel down here and pray," said Robert, out loud. This
decision was his response to grim Despair, who had now put in his
appearance with suggestions to give up all, go back into sin, quit
professing, and be an open sinner.
"Why try it any longer?" said Despair. "You can never face your
neighbors again. Give up. Give up. You have tried, and you have
failed. You are a failure. Your reputation is gone. You can never live
for Christ in this neighborhood. Get even with Newbys."
No sooner did Robert resolve, with holy determination, to defeat
Despair and pray, than he got upon his knees. And there, at the
doorway of his future home, he poured out his heart before Almighty
God, and vowed he would not go back any farther than he was, and that
he would strive, with all his heart, to do God's will.
As the sun began to go down behind the hills to the west of him,
Robert started home. Flecks of cloudlets began to redden, and the
denser strata of clouds took on a deep purple, as the western sky
blazed out in a marvel of beauty. And Robert thought, truly, that
"the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his
handiwork"; why could not man glorify Him better?
Mary saw at once that Robert wore a troubled expression on his face.
Robert saw that Mary sensed that something was wrong. As soon as he
could, he went in and sat by Mary's side.
"Mary, dear, I know that you will be ashamed of me, when I tell you
what I have done," said Robert.
"My, Robert, what have you done?" cried Mary, "you look so troubled
"Mary, I am sorry to tell you what I have done, but I will hide
nothing and will tell you all about it," said he. "You remember that
chickenhouse we prevented Jake from moving that day? Well, he met me
at the place today and called me a liar and said that I had insulted
his father. Before I hardly knew what I was doing I hit Jake and we
had a fight. I finally beat him, and he promised to behave. I felt
just like giving up, Mary, and never trying to serve the Lord any
more. But I promise you, dear, that I will not go back." And great big
tears of hearty contrition rolled down Robert's face, and Mary, all
tears too, lovingly wiped his tears away.
"I do not know if you can have confidence in me or not, Mary, after
this, but I expect to rise above it, God helping me," said Robert,
when he could speak.
"I recognize that I have done wrong," he continued. "What shall I do
"You must forgive Jake, and Mr. Newby too, Robert," said Mary. "The
Scriptures are plain: 'But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses' (Matt.
6:15). Can you forgive them?"
"Yes, by God's help, I forgive them. I do," said Robert.
"Should you not also make confession to Jake Newby for fighting him?"
asked Mary. "And then give him that chickenhouse if he still demands
it. 'Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give
him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head'
(Romans 12:20). And to break the power of the grudge, why not obey
Matt. 5:23, 24: 'Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and
there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there
thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy
brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'"
"Well, Jake is not a brother, Mary," said Robert, "but the Scriptures
point out the best way to recover. I feel so ashamed, Mary, after
standing up for a holy life and then failing this way. But I feel that
following the Word of truth will be the quickest way to recovery. It
is my ambition to be an example of God's keeping power. I wish to so
live that holiness may be established as truth in this community. I
want my life to tell for Jesus."
Robert decided that the sooner he went the better it would be; so
he drove to Jake's house at once. Jake was greatly surprised to see
Robert drive up and greeted him very surlily.
"Jake, I have come over to ask your forgiveness for striking and
fighting you this afternoon. I did wrong. Pardon me. I am sorry I gave
way, Jake. And say, Jake, if you want that chickenhouse, just come
and get it. It is too small for the number of chickens Mary intends
to raise, anyway. You can have it, Jake, freely, gladly. What's a
chickenhouse between friends?
"The Lord made me feel very guilty over this affair, Jake," continued
Robert. "At first I thought I would give up entirely, but Jake,
I cannot do that. The Lord has done too much for me and my wife,
and--well, others are counting on me. I want to make everything right;
so you will feel perfectly free to visit me any time you wish. Praise
God! I feel better, Jake. Will you forgive me?" And Robert stretched
out his hand toward Jake. Jake took it, and there, in that happy
twilight hour, a grudge and a sin were laid in a grave of oblivion,
never to be resurrected.
THE GOOD RESULTS OF AN HONEST CONFESSION
The confession of Robert Davis to Jake Newby set Jake's household
all agog. They had never heard of such a thing before. When Jake had
arrived home from his encounter he had told Kate, his wife, all about
it, coloring it in his own favor.
"I went over to see Robert Davis and kindly asked him to let me have
the chickenhouse and to reprove him gently for the way he had treated
dad, and, what do you think? he jumped on me as mad as he could be.
I'll get even with Bob Davis, I will. The mean rascal," said Jake.
"Well, of all things, is that the way holiness men do? A pretty mess
for Davis to get into," said Kate.
"I'll fix him. Wait till a good chance comes, and I will make him
sorry enough," said Jake. "Little good he can do in this neighborhood,
living like that."
"But Jake, you are a member of the church, and you must be careful how
you live," said Kate.
"Oh, yes, I suppose so," said Jake laconically.
But Jake's religion did not concern him very much. Everybody knew
that. His name was on the church book, and Jake paid a little money in
now and then, but as for prayer or testimony, he had none, and as for
vital, personal godliness and personal salvation, to these he was a
perfect stranger. In fact, the denomination to which Jake belonged did
not believe in nor teach salvation from sin. Many others in it were
just like him.
While the Newby family were discussing the fight, it was to their
great surprise to see Robert Davis come through the open gate.
"Well, if there doesn't come Bob Davis now," Kate exclaimed. "What
do you suppose he is after? Do you suppose he is going to renew the
fight, Jake? Mercy me. Help!"
But Robert knocked quietly, and Jake opened the door, and before
anyone else could speak Robert made his confession, while the Newby
children and Kate looked on in amazement. After Jake and Robert shook
hands, and the trouble was ended, a strange atmosphere pervaded the
Newby home. They had never felt just like that before. There was a
peace, an awe, a holy feeling such as people have sometimes at the
height of a revival meeting. If Jesus had suddenly appeared in person
there would not have been much more of a holy atmosphere than existed
right there at that moment. They could hardly understand it. No doubt
the angels of heaven were there, and the Holy Spirit was present to
exert his benign influence toward the salvation of that family. Kate
began to cry great big tears of joy. Jake sat down.
"Jake, Bob Davis is a man," said Kate. "That was the most open, honest
confession I ever heard. I do not know of any one who would do such
as he has done. There must be something to his religion. You know the
fight you had with Tom Sawyer, and he is a deacon in First Church,
Bethany. What came of it? Never a word of confession did he ever make.
What kind of a man is Mr. Davis, anyway?"
"Something strange about Bob Davis," said Jake. "Said I could have
that old chickenhouse if I wanted. I'd be a fool to take it now."
"Jake, I believe Robert Davis is a real Christian," said Kate, as a
sort of confession on her part. "Why, I do not know of a member of
our church that would do the manly thing that he has done, coming up
without any self-justification and asking forgiveness for his wrong.
I'm more convinced than I ever was before that Robert's doctrine is
right, after all. Your dad would not own up like that even if he knew
he was in the wrong. I wish I had more of Robert's religion."
"That is true. Kate," said Jake. "Dad's either too hardheaded or has
not enough religion to own up to a fault."
"I begin to feel like I am not a Christian at all, Jake," said Kate.
"I could not do as Robert Davis has done. No, I couldn't. I'm not much
of a Christian. I believe we might as well quit our profession, Jake,
if we can't live better than we are." And more big, honest tears
rolled down Kate's cheeks.
"Well, I have been baptized," said Jake, and Pastor Sammons said water
baptism was essential to salvation. I believed in Jesus Christ and was
baptized. What else can I do? I live as good as any other member of
our church. I have been in good standing for ten years. I do not know
what else to do. The preacher thinks I am all right."
"Yes, I know," replied Kate, "the preacher thinks I am all right, too,
but I know I am not. I just feel that I am not a real Christian."
"Well, I must confess," said Jake, "that Robert's confession puts
religion in a new light to me. With Robert religion is the main thing.
He has family prayers night and morning; he is honest and scrupulous,
and now when he sees he has done me a wrong he has come right over
and made it right. I am not much of a Christian either, if that is
"Jake, what good is water baptism if our lives are not changed?" asked
Kate. "I have just been thinking of the members of our church, and
I am not trying to ignore their good qualities, but I do not know of
more than two or three that I would ask to pray for me if I were going
to die. They gossip, dress in all the latest fads, go to dances and
theaters, rarely attend church, and are just like the worldly people
around here who belong to no church. Is this Christianity? Why, Jake,
when we had our bazaar, you remember, four of the sisters fell out
and have not spoken to each other since. My, I never thought of these
things before. I wonder what church Robert Davis belongs to?"
"He calls it the church of God," replied Jake.
"The church of God!" exclaimed Kate. "Why, what church is that? I
never heard of it. But that name sounds good. If it is as good as its
name it ought to be a good one."
"I must confess," said Jake, "that I never have enjoyed my religion.
If it is the right kind it has done me very little good. But I can't
afford to drop it, for it's all I have--at least till I see something
better. Robert and Mary Davis seem to enjoy their religion. I always
noticed that. I believe I shall investigate the church of God. What do
you say to calling Robert and Mary over tomorrow night and talking
all these things over with them? Robert seems to know a lot about the
"Let us do that," said Kate.
Next morning Kate sent her son John to the Davis home with an
invitation to come and spend the evening. They were surprised to get
the invitation, but felt that it was their duty to go.
During that day both Jake and Kate were in a very humble mood. Peter
Newby came over during the day and Jake told him all about Robert's
confession. Jake also expressed himself as being dissatisfied with his
"Ah, poof!" said Peter, "you are all right. Weren't you baptized, and
don't you believe in Christ? Don't give up your religion. Would you go
back on your old dad and mammy like that? I hope I never see the day,
Jake, when you will leave our church. Davis is no good."
But Jake was so thoroughly awakened to his own sad state that his
father's speech affected him very little. In fact, it sounded hollow
and hypocritical to him. Jake knew, down in his heart, that Robert had
done the manly and Christian thing, and when he saw that his father
did not appreciate what Robert had done, it made him feel that his
father was not much of a Christian either. Jake lost confidence in his
father right there.
Peter Newby sensed this change of attitude on Jake's part, and it
filled him with anger. Yet he knew that he dare not show it. But the
fire in his bosom compelled him to speak out.
"Jake, my son," he said, trying hard to control his feelings, "I fear
you are being shaken in the faith, but I hope if you are dissatisfied
with our church that you will not disgrace the family by joining that
holiness bunch. They are rotten. I know them of old. I would rather
see you dead than for you to go with Bob Davis."
Jake saw that there was little use to discuss the matter; so he
desisted and turned the conversation to pigs. But Peter turned it back
"If you go along with that Davis," Peter said, "I will disown you as
my son. I will. After being a member of our church for ten years, then
to own up that you are not a Christian--why, Jake, that will tear our
church to pieces."
"But father," said Jake, "suppose that I am not a real Christian,
will it do me any good to continue to profess that I am? Is that
not exactly what makes one a hypocrite? My soul longs for a real
experience. I know I am not ready to die or fit to live either. I must
get right with God."
Peter Newby saw that it was useless to stay longer, so he rode away,
feeling very angry at Jake for the mood he was in, and at himself for
displaying such anger.
Robert and Mary Davis went to Newbys' about nightfall and were given a
cordial reception. After all was ready they all met in the parlor
and discussed religion. A great many texts were read and talked over.
Water baptism was investigated. Robert proved by the Scriptures that
water baptism is not a saving ordinance.
"How could water baptism be a saving ordinance," said Robert, "when
we know that water cannot have any effect, one way or another, upon
a soul? And, if water baptism is essential to the obtaining of
salvation, then two other things besides the blood of Jesus are
necessary whenever a soul is saved. One is water, enough to be
immersed in, according to your church doctrine, and the other is a
man, or a preacher to baptize. Then, if one were out somewhere away
from water and a preacher, he could not be saved. This will never do.
It places too much in the hands of men. Peter makes it plain--read 1
"'The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not
the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good
conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,'" read
"This makes it plain," said Robert. "Water cannot wash away sins
except in a figurative way. It is the blood that cleanses. Read Rev.
1:5 (last sentence), and Col. 1:15."
"'Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
blood,'" read Mary Davis. "This is Rev. 1:5. Col. 1:14 says, 'In whom
we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.'"
"Robert, what church do you belong to?" asked Jake finally.
"I am not a member of any denomination," said Robert, "but recently
through a study of the Bible, I have become convinced that these
denominations are not right, and that we should get back to the Bible
in name, faith, and practice. I do not see any church that tallies
with the church of the New Testament; so I am waiting and praying for
God to establish a real New Testament church in this community. By the
way, Jake, we found that the Bible name for the church is the church
of God. We have had a religious paper coming to us, which is published
in the interests of the church of God. Maybe this is what we are
looking for. Jake, let us seek for the truth."
"I will, Robert," said Jake. "I am dissatisfied with my religion.
Really, I doubt if ever I was converted."
"God bless you, Jake," said Robert, "the Lord has a real experience
of salvation for you. Come to Him, repent, and believe. Get under the
After a blessed service of prayer and singing some of the good old
soul-cheering songs, Robert and Mary Davis went home.
It was the beginning of a new era in the Jake Newby home.
FALSE GUIDES APPEAR IN BETHANY
It often happens when people become awakened to the fact that they are
below the standard of Christianity and do not as yet see or know what
to do, that they become ensnared in destructive doctrines. Having
loosed from their old moorings and not having reached a peaceful
haven, they drift about, sometimes at the mercy of every wind that
blows. When the truth of the gospel begins to appear then the great
enemy, Satan, sows his tares, for the ground is then broken up.
Robert Davis' debates at the schoolhouse, his confession, and his
private conversations on the Scriptures, were like rays of light
shooting through the rifts in the clouds of the sky. The town of
Bethany had never heard such doctrines as Robert was upholding. And
even to Robert himself they had not yet been formed into a coherent
system of Bible teaching. Several things were still mysteries to him.
Jake Newby and his family were in this partly awakened condition. They
had lost confidence in the church to which they belonged, but they did
not see the light clearly. They were seekers after the truth.
On one day of the next week after the conversation in his home with
the Davis', Jake and Kate went to the railway station in Bethany to
see their Aunt Mellisa off. She had been visiting with her brother,
Peter Newby, for a few days and was on her way home to Boston.
While sitting in the station chatting and waiting for the train to
come, Kate Newby saw a wall-pocket in the waiting-room on which was a
neat sign, "Take One," filled with printed literature. She stepped to
the receptacle and took out two or three pieces of literature which
she placed in her handbag, and she thought no more about it till she
got home and opened her bag to get her handkerchief.
Something about the leaflet attracted her attention, and she sat down
and read it. The pamphlet proclaimed the virtues of Christian Science
to heal all kinds of mental and physical sicknesses and troubles.
There is no sickness, sin or death, said the treatise. All of these
things are errors of mortal mind. We are, it continued, to ignore and
repudiate these errors, for God is good and everything is good; God is
eternal Mind, all-embracing, and there can be no death, and sin, and
sickness in God. Material things, it said, are not important, the
spiritual is the important. The basis of all things is the spiritual,
hence we can count material things as immaterial and be all engrossed
in God. The false notion that there is sickness, it said, has led many
to the grave, the false notion that there is a devil has led to the
idea of sin. But sin and sickness are errors of the mortal mind, and
when we get swallowed up in the one great mind (God), there will be no
more sickness, pain, sin, or death. Much more it said which space will
not permit us to narrate here.
Kate Newby read on and on. She was longing for something better than
she had. The arguments of the pamphlet seemed plausible to her, and
she embraced them. Seeing that the Christian Science text-book was
advised, she ordered a copy of Mrs. Eddy's Science and Health. When
it arrived she read it assiduously. She was getting very deep into the
meshes of it. Her theology was undergoing a radical change. God,
to her, was no longer personal, but the great Mind which is
all-comprehensive. She tried to believe herself well, free, and happy,
and she began to enjoy a measure of relief. But, at the same time,
Kate Newby was growing more worldly; she began to lose her former
distinctions of right and wrong, and the change was beginning to be
made manifest in many different ways. She began to ignore Jake and to
show an aversion to material things and she began to develop a sort of
overmystical attitude toward life in general.
Finally, Jake asked her point-blank, "Kate, what is the matter with
you? You are acting so queer."
"Well, Jake, I might as well tell you," answered Kate. "I am a
If Jake Newby had been hit with a cannon ball he would not have been
"Christian Science!" he echoed. "Of all things! Where did you get hold
Then she told him of getting the leaflet, then Science and Health,
and how she had gradually been won to embrace it. Jake was clearly
disturbed, and started to argue with Kate, but she had the advantage
in that he did not know anything about it. So Jake thought of Robert
"Say, Robert," said Jake to Robert the first time that they met after
his talk with Kate about Christian Science, "do you know anything
about Christian Science?"
"Indeed I do," said Robert, "my mother once got somewhat entangled in
it, and through her efforts to get out I was led to study it."
"Come over and talk to Kate, then," said Jake. "She has taken up with
it and it is ruining her. Please come over and talk with her about it.
We must have help."
"All right, I will come," answered Robert.
On the next evening Robert found time to go, and soon he and Kate were
talking on Christian Science while Jake and the others listened.
"Now, I will read from Science and Health," said Robert. "See if you
can understand it. See if it does not make you feel like scratching
your head in order to help to comprehend it. 'What is man? Answer--Man
is not matter, he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other
material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the
image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness
of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect....
Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death. The real man cannot
depart from holiness, nor can God, by whom man is evolved, engender
the capacity or freedom to sin' (page 475). Can you understand that?"
"For the life of me, I can't," said Jake, but, of course Jake could
not be expected to understand it, thought Kate.
"Now, here is another. 'Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness,
or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human,
erring belief, until God strips off their disguise. They are not true,
because they are not of God. We learn in Christian Science that all
inharmony of mortal mind and body is illusion.' Again, 'Sin, sickness,
and death are to be classified as effects of error' (pages 472 and
473)" read Robert.
"I wonder what I am made of," said Jake's boy, John, "if I have no
brain, blood, or bones. When the bay filly threw me last winter and
broke my arm I thought I was part bone. And a lot of blood ran from my
foot the time I cut it with the ax, at least they called it blood."
"Now, let us get Mrs. Eddy's definition of God," said Robert. "'What
is God? Answer--God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind,
Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.'"
"Let us notice her definition of Mind," continued Robert. "'Mind
is God,' she says. Let us draw forth some of the Christian Science
principles and stand them up for inspection.
"1. Man is not matter; he has not brains, blood, or bones.
"2. Man is incapable of sin.
"3. Man is incapable of sickness.
"4. Man is incapable of death.
"5. Sin, sickness, and death are errors.
"6. God is Mind, Principle.
"7. Mind is God.
"8. Sickness is a dream.
"9. Sickness, sin, and death are 'mortal dreams.'
"10. 'There is no disease' (Science and Health, p. 421).
"11. 'Death is the illusion' (Science and Health, p. 428).
"Now, over and against these statements of Christian Science, let us
place the immutable Word of God.
"1. Man is not matter; he is not brains, blood, or bones.
"The very first word in inspiration contradicts this principle in
Christian Science. 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth' (Gen. 1:1). The creation of man contradicts Christian Science.
Listen--'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
soul.' (Gen. 2:7).
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