Wednesday, October 31, 2018

“He was a colored man, and a slave”: the Ministry of Rev. Caesar Blackwell

I happened across the following story about Caesar Blackwell while researching in the pages of the South Western Baptist, a Baptist religious periodical published at Tuskegee and Marion, Alabama (which eventually merged with the Christian Index).[i] What appears below is an excerpt from “A Condensed History of Antioch Church.”[ii] After discovering this, I also found online an article about him at The Free Library, “Caesar Blackwell (1769-1845): the work and times of central Alabama's nineteenth-century slave-evangelist.” The later article probably presents the more realistic and less idealistic than the South Western Baptist. This is an unique and intriguing story, nevertheless.

Cæsar Blackwell
In 1821, Cæsar, a servant of John Blackwell, joined the Antioch church by experience and baptism. Two years after he was licensed by the church to preach the gospel, and in 1827, he was solemnly ordained to the ministry by a Presbytery consisting of elders Harris, Davis, McLemore and Harrod. In 1828 a move was made by the church to purchase Cæsar from his owner, Mr. Blackwell, it being understood that he could be bought for the sum of $800. Cæsar enjoyed the unlimited confidence of his master (who was not a member of the church) he committed much of his most important business to his care, and he never deceived him. The sum asked (800) was considered a high price for a slave in those days. The matter was presented to the Alabama Baptist Association at its next session, and met its hearty approval. A committee was appointed to make the purchase, and the churches composing the body promptly responded to the call to defray the expenses. The title was vested in Trustees appointed by the Association, who directed his labors in the ministry, and made provisions for his support. He visited churches in the bounds of the Association, acting as a Domestic Missionary. He occasionally made tours in various parts of the State at the call of the church, preaching with much acceptance wherever he went. – After he became the property of the Association, he made his home at Rev. Jas. McLemore’s, who owned his wife and only child. He was furnished with a horse to ride—and had an extensive library of books; and as he had been taught in early life to read and write, he spent his time, when not otherwise employed, in reading and study. “Uncle Cæsar” was an excellent mechanic, and before his strength failed, he devoted a part of his time in working for his neighbors, who rewarded him liberally for his services. While thus engaged with his hands, he was in the habit of having his Bible, or some other good book before him, and occasionally reading a paragraph for study and meditation,—and in this way he acquired much of that knowledge which elevated him above others of his race. As a preacher of the Gospel, “Uncle Cæsar” had few superiors in his day and generation. His theology was of the Calvinistic school, and he loved to discourse upon the doctrines of grace,—election, effectual calling, the perseverance of the saints in grace, &c, were the themes he delighted to dwell upon. He did not neglect, however, to present to his hearers, the practical duties of religion, and to warn the ungodly to flee from the wrath to come. When he was called upon to administer the ordinance of baptism, he generally in some brief remarks alluded to the ordinance, and the writer of this notice has never heard any man, who could give stronger arguments for believers’ immersion than those he listened to from him on such occasions.
            “Uncle Cæsar” attended regularly the meetings of the Alabama Association, and on the Sabbath the preaching committee always assigned him an hour to preach,—and whenever it was announced that “Uncle Cæsar” would occupy the stand, crowds of persons, both white and black, would gather around him to hear from his eloquent lips the message of salvation. He had a tall figure, a clear, musical voice, and graceful elocution. He never became boisterous, and was remarkably fastidious in regard to preserving order during religious services. Sometimes when the colored people would become excited, and begin to shout he would suddenly pause, and then remark, “My brethren and sisters, when your cup is full, let it run over, but don’t tilt it any.”
            We take the following extracts from the minutes of the Alabama Association to show the estimation in which he was held by that body, and the deep solicitude its members manifested towards him in his declining years: In the minutes of 1844 we find the following: “The Trustees of bro. Cæsar report, that in consequence of the infirmity of age, he has been unable to preach as frequently as desired. In the churches where his labors have been principally bestowed, the Lord has been pleased to make him an instrument of much good to the colored population. He has baptized in all 99.” On motion, the Trustees, were authorized to draw upon the Treasurer for any part of the amount deposited in his hands in1836 for the use of Cæsar.” In the minutes of 1845 we find the following in the Report of the Committee on Missions in the bounds of the Association: “The condition of our colored brother Cæsar, appears to call for some action of this body. From old age and feeble health, he is unable longer to support himself. We, therefore, recommend to his Trustees to furnish him with all the necessaries of life, and send up their accounts annually to this Association for liquidation.”
            But while his brethren were thus making provision for his temporal support it pleased his Heavenly Father to call him to his final rest and reward. On the very day the Association convened, his spirit took its departure to join the general assembly above. His remains were interred at the family grave-yard of the late Rev. Jas. McLemore, in Montgomery county. The Association at its next session, took suitable notice of his death—authorized the Trustees to sell his real estate, consisting a house and lot in the city of Montgomery, and to erect a suitable monument over his grave. A beautiful marble slab marks the spot where his remains sleep, with the following inscription:
“Sacred to the Memory of
Who departed this life Oct. 10th, 1845,
In the 76th year of his age.
He was a colored man, and a slave; But he rose above his condition, and was for 40* years a faithful and acceptable preacher of the Gospel.
            This stone is reared as a tribute of respect to his memory, by his brethren of The Alabama Baptist Association.”
  *Note—Cæsar joined the Church in 1821, and was licensed to preach in 1823. He could not, therefore, have been a preacher more than 23 or 24 years.

[i] It was published in Atlanta, Georgia under the title Christian Index and South-western Baptist from 1866 to 1871.
[ii] “A Condensed History of Antioch Church,” by a Former Pastor, South Western Baptist, Vol. 11—No. 23, Tuskegee, Alabama, Thursday, October 13, 1859, page 1

A Condensed History of Antioch Church

“A Condensed History of Antioch Church,” by a Former Pastor,
South Western Baptist, Vol. 11—No. 23, Tuskegee, Alabama, 
Thursday, October 13, 1859, page 1
(Hopefully readers can enlarge this file by clicking, or download and manipulate it so that it is readable.) 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

WWJE - What would Jesus eat?

Q. What did Jesus eat and drink?

A. A query on the radio, whether Jesus was a vegetarian, brings to mind the interesting question of what foods Jesus ate and drank while he was here on the earth. While we might make some guesses based on what were the common foods of the Jewish culture in that chronological period, the following answers will stick to references in Scripture. The answer divides into two categories – what is stated that he ate & drank, and what is implied that he ate & drank.[i]


  • Fish - Luke 24:41-43 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.
  • Honey with comb - Luke 24:41-43, see above.
  • Water - John 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
  • Bread - Mark 15:22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
  • Fruit of the vine - Mark 14:24-25 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
  • Vinegar - John 19:29-30 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

  • Bread and wine - Luke 7:33-34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
  • Wine - John 2:1-11, Matthew 11:19
  • Lamb - Matthew 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? Luke 22:7-8 Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.[ii]
  • Figs - Mark 11:13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
  • Corn/grain - Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
  • Loaves/bread - John 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. John 21:13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
  • Fish - John 6: 11, 21:13, see above.[iii]

[i] Most references are not specific. For example, the Bible tells us Jesus made wine at a wedding, but does not specify that he drank it. We know Jesus multiplied loaves (of bread) and fish, but on that occasion the Bible does not specify that he ate. Yet most would agree that his communal partaking is at the least implied.
[ii] Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
[iii] Some other references related to Jesus eating or drinking: Matthew 9:10, Mark 9:41, Luke 5:30, Luke 7:36, John 4:8, 31, John 12:2

Monday, October 29, 2018

Henry D’Anvers

From the West Kentucky Baptist:
“By all which ye see by plentiful Evidence, that Christ hath not been without His Witnesses in every age, not only to defend and assert the true, but to impugn, and to reject (yet, even to death itself) the false Baptism.  In so much that we are not left without good testimony of a series of succession, that by God’s providence hath even kept afoot, of this great ordinance of believer’s baptism ever since the first times.”   Henry D’Anvers, 1674
(Henry D’Anvers {?-1686} was an English Baptist preacher and author.  The above quote is from pages 321-322 in his work “A Treatise of Baptism” first published in London in 1674.  Notice that D’Anvers believed that from the days of the New Testament until the present, Christ hath had a “succession” of His people who rejected false infant baptism by sprinkling and held to believer’s baptism by immersion.  Like other Baptists of the 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s, D’Anvers held to the Trail of Blood view of Baptist history and origins.)

Continue in the things thou hast learned

"Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of." 2 Timothy 3:14
Various hindrances meet the child of God in his path heavenwards. And their tendency is such, that but for the grace of God, they would effectually succeed in driving him from the faith. When, then, he has to meet a head wind blowing right in his teeth, when the storm and hail beat roughly upon him, when the waves rise high and the stream runs strong, there seems no getting on; and he fears that he shall be like "the children of Ephraim, who, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle."
And yet there is that grace implanted in his heart, there is that faith which God the Spirit first created and still keeps alive in his soul, that though he may for a moment be driven aside, he yet never turns his back upon the truth; though retarded for a moment, his face is still Zionwards.
J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Both words and music to this song were composed by Haldor Lillenas. He was born November 19, 1885, at Stord Island, Norway. His parents were Ole Paulsen and Anne Marie Lillenas. They came to the United States circa 1886. Haldor was raised as a Lutheran, but later became a Church of the Nazarene minister. He married Bertha Mae Wilson on October 4, 1910, and they had two children. Wonderful Grace of Jesus was copyrighted in 1918, and published in 1922 in The Tabernacle Choir song book (Richard J. Oliver and Lance Latham, editors, Chicago, IL: Tabernacle Publishing Company). Haldor Lillenas died August 18, 1959, and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri.

1. Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me!
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious name of Jesus.
Praise His name!

2. Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

3. Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Atlanta agrees, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A review by James R. Duvall, and other reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Strange Case of August Tubbe

On October 21, the Nacogdoches, Texas Daily Sentinel carried an article by Josh Edwards titled The Strange Life of August TubbeJohann August Friedrich Tubbe was born February 17, 1841 in Oderberg, Prussia. He came to the United States in 1855, and served in the Confederate States army during the Civil War.[i] He was in Nacogdoches County at least by 1862, when he married Marie Gertrude Kolb. After the war, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States and moved on with life – which included being a saw-miller and a Baptist preacher.[ii] He organized several churches, including Saints Rest Baptist Church in Nacogdoches County (for which he donated the land), and Providence Baptist Church in Angelina County, Texas.[iii]

All went well, at least normal, until the United States entered World War I. You see, Tubbe had never bothered to get U. S. citizenship – possibly thought his oath of allegiance served that purpose.[iv] This man who had loved, lived and labored in the U. S. for over 60 years was accused of being a German spy (even at a time his namesake grandson August Louis Tubbe was serving in the U. S. Military). Eventually he was exonerated – but mostly after his death. Josh Edwards believed the stress brought on the heart attack from which he died. August Tubbe died November 18, 1918.
The Houston Post, Tuesday, November 19, 1918, page 5

[i] Company A, 18th Texas Volunteers
[ii] In Rev. John August Tubbe: An Immigrant Farmer, Sawmiller, and Preacher, W. T. Block says Tubbe had preached for 52 years at the time of his death – suggesting he began to preach in 1866. Block also thinks that Tubbe grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran tradition.
[iii] Originally called the Baptist Church of Christ on Freeman Prairie.
[iv] Block writes, “On Nov. 12, 1917, August Tubbe wrote a deposition from the Smith County jail, and in it he explained that he had two older brothers in Nacogdoches, who were a naturalized citizens; also a mother, who was a citizen, and he believed that since he was only a 14-year-old minor when he arrived here, that he had been included in those naturalizations. Also when he was paroled from the Confederate Army, he had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. He had paid poll and property taxes for 60 years, had also ran for two public offices, although defeated. Nevertheless, all of that came to naught when some one denounced him as an ‘enemy alien’ and he was arrested.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Boss

One day a man went to a pet shop to buy a parrot. The assistant took the man to the parrot section and asked the man to choose one. The man inquired, “How much is the yellow one?”

The assistant said “$2000.” The man was shocked. He asked the pet-shop assistant why it’s so expensive. The assistant explained, “This parrot is a very special one. He knows typewriting and can type really fast.”

“Well, what about the green one?” the man asked.

The assistant replied, “He costs $5000 because he knows typewriting and can answer incoming telephone calls and takes notes.”

“What about the red one?” the man asked.

The assistant said, “That one is $10,000!”

The man wondered, “What does HE do?”

The assistant answered, “I don’t know, but the other two call him boss.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Using Find-A-Grave for Baptist History Preservation

Render honour to whom honour is due.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour…
…these stones shall be for a memorial…

Find-A-Grave is a World Wide Web site with burial and other final disposition information, containing details about the cemeteries and the individuals buried in them. The site allows volunteer contributors from all over the world to participate in recording and preserving information such as birth, death, burial information as well as including pictures, biographies, and “links” to other family members. Find-A-Grave has a million+ contributors, according to their “About” page.

Using Find-A-Grave, Baptist history researchers can contribute to Baptist history preservation. Investigate the life of a Baptist. Find out when he or she died and where that person is buried. Add a memorial to Find-A-Grave (if a memorial does not already exist). If a memorial already exists, you can contribute pictures, biographical information and suggestions to improve the memorial. You just need to create an account and get to work.

Be aware that the general rule is to add individuals whose burial locations are known. Find-A-Grave “supports common alternative dispositions,” such as cremation, burial at sea, and body donated to medical science. “Non-cemetery burials” – it is not known where they are buried – are allowed but discouraged.

Be careful that you contribute well-researched and accurate information. It does not benefit Baptist history preservation if the information we contribute is incorrect. Check and double-check. We all make mistakes, but when mistakes are discovered, be quick to correct them.

Be thorough by adding pictures and biographical material, as well as linking to other family members. In addition to the bare minimum of birth, death, and burial information, Find-A-Grave allows pictures of the tombstone, person, and other relevant information (newspaper obituary, e.g.). There is biographical space available for telling the person’s story, and memorials can be “linked” to other family members who are on Find-A-Grave.[i]

Be gracious. Most, if not all, Find-A-Grave contributors are there because they care about genealogy, history, and remembrance. Some members are prickly pears whose way must be their way or the highway. Some members are consistently careless contributors. Do not be either of those, but be gracious to those who are.

Some Baptist preachers for whom I have been looking and have not found on Find-A-Grave include Ambrose Dudley (Kentucky), Joseph Roberts (Georgia), and Edmund Shackleford (Georgia). I have been unable to find where they are buried, but hope to one day add them to Find-A-Grave. I recently added Cyrus White (last year), one of the organizers of the General Association in Georgia in 1822; John Milton Sallee (this month), author of the Baptist novel Mabel Clement; and the Harriss Family Cemetery (last week) in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, burial location Separate Baptist preacher Samuel Harriss and his wife Lucy – which did not previously exist on Find-A-Grave.

Find-A-Grave is one more tool currently available to contribute to Baptist history preservation. Three reasons to use Find-A-Grave in connection with Baptist history preservation are: (1) It is there, (2) It is big, and (3) It is free.

[i] The memorial “owner” can link the person to their parents and spouse, but not to their children. If another Find-A-Grave member “owns” the memorial page of a child, request for such links can be made through a “suggested edit” process.

Monday, October 22, 2018

In memory of Joseph Roberts (1769-1836)

Joseph Roberts came to White Plains Baptist Church in 1818 and stayed for 18 years.[i] My ancestors, William Parker and Eunice Jane Nelson apparently thought very highly of him – they named their first son Joseph Roberts Parker. Roberts was pastor of White Plains when the arm at nearby Smyrna was constituted into a church on December 19, 1828. The presbytery that met in order to constitute the church was Joseph Roberts, Richard Pace, and Jonathan Davis. My ancestors Wyatt Vaughn and Eliza Jane Parker (daughter of William and Eunice) united with that church (Smyrna) by profession of faith, and were later members of White Plains for a short time before migrating to Texas.

Roberts, Rev. Joseph, was born in Virginia in the year 1770. Some time about the close of the last century he left his native State in company with his father and settled on Little River, Greene Co., Ga. He had married before leaving Virginia, but had lost his wife, and therefore resided with his father for some years; but at that time neither he nor any of the family cared for religion, being intent upon the world and its pleasures and follies. Arrested in his wild career by the grace of God in the year 1803, Mr. Roberts united with the church at Whatley’s Mills, now Bethesda, and at once took a high stand as a member, attending the Georgia Association as a delegate in 1804. He married in 1805, and settled in Powelton, Hancock Co., where he was the companion and fellow-laborer of William Rabun, the two representatives for a number of years of the Powelton church in the Association. He soon manifested the possession of decided ministerial talents, and in 1811 was licensed to preach; two or three years afterwards he was ordained, and immediately entered upon a course of extensive and useful labor. The churches at Powelton, Horeb, Bethel, and White Plains, besides others, enjoyed the benefits of his ministry, the last mentioned, perhaps, sharing most largely in his godly labors. For eighteen consecutive years he preached to the White Plains church, being much esteemed by it and by all the other churches he served. Few ministers possessed to the extent he did the faculty of endearing their people to them, and this, perhaps, was one secret of his usefulness. The doctrines of grace were his delight, and furnished the staple of his sermons; yet, like Paul, he dwelt much upon practical godliness. He ended his useful life on the 22d of October, 1837, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.[ii] 

[i] My note from the front of the White Plains church minutes is “February 1818 - Oct. 1836.” But from the text of the minutes I copied that Joseph Roberts was “…chosen by unanimous voice of the church and congregation” (Aug 15, 1818; p. 35). Perhaps this is explained that he tentatively arrived in February, but was not officially installed until August. The January 10, 1818 minute says the church appointed “Shockley, Veazey, Colwell, Parker, Ivy, and Grier to consult with Brother Joseph Roberts about becoming pastor” (p. 33).
[ii] Other information I have indicates that Joseph Roberts was born in Virginia in 1769 and died in Georgia in 1836. The Christian Index obituary for Roberts was published December 1, 1836 – meaning it is highly unlikely that he died in October 1837!

To sail upon the natural sea

“In order for a man to sail upon the natural sea, he must have a proper vessel fitted for his journey.  So too for a man to sail upon this ‘sea of the knowledge of the glory of GOD’ he must be given a vessel with which to traverse its bounding main.  This vessel is not designed by men and not one piece of its construction is carried out by those who are given the privilege of navigating this body of life sustaining water.  ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.’” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Mike McInnis

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Vital spark of heavenly flame

In the end of Edmund Shackleford’s obituary the writer made a brief reference to a poem by Alexander Pope. That poem, set to music by Samuel Temple and David Merrill in 1799, is known as Vital Spark or Claremont in The Sacred Harp, 2012 Cooper Edition (P. 245).

Here are the lyrics:
Vital spark of heav’nly flame,
Quit, O! quit this mortal frame;
Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying.
O the pain, the bliss of dying!

Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life,
Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away.

What is this absorbs me quite—
Steals my senses, shuts my sight?
Drowns my spirit, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes, it disappears,
Heav’n opens on my eyes,
My ears with sounds seraphic ring,
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O grave, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?

Here is the tune:

Saturday, October 20, 2018

God’s goodness takes occasion, other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

"God's goodness takes occasion from man's badness to appear so much the more illustrious." -- Matthew Henry

"Spiritual knowledge differs very widely from carnal, intellectual, barren head knowledge. The one is a flowing river, the other a stagnant pool; the one fertilises the heart, and makes it fruitful in every good word and work; the other leaves it a barren swamp, in which creeps and crawls every hideous thing, and out of which ever rise miasma, disease, and death." -- J. C. Philpot

"It is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy." -- Susan Collins

"Error often changes its connections, assumes new positions, and accommodates itself to prevailing customs and prejudices." -- Israel Robords

"Humility is a correct understanding of yourself." -- Robert Picirilli

"I come from a long line of people, no question about it." -- William Thornton

"There is a sweetness in the promises which captivates the heart; a beauty in Christ which wins the soul; a saving unction and power in the word of God, when applied, which draws forth toward it every secret and sacred affection." -- J. C. Philpot

Friday, October 19, 2018

Of dates and months

In genealogical and historical research it is good to know the meanings of the oft-used instant, proximo, and ultimo in regard to months of the year. I seem to now have short-term memory and usually look them up to be sure when I run across a reference to them in old papers, books, etc.

Instant means the present month. Older Use. n. the present or current month. adj. of the present month: your letter of the 12th instant. Often abbreviated inst. If someone refers to “your letter of the 12th instant” as in the example, it means the 12th of the same month (i.e., if the statement is made in January, it is referring to “your letter” written in January).

Proximo adv. in, of, or during the next month: on the 10th proximo. Sometimes abbreviated prox. If someone refers to an event on the 10th proximo, it means the 10th of the next month (i.e., if the statement is made in January, it is referring to an event occurring in February).

Ultimo adv. in or of the month preceding the current one: on the 12th ultimo. Sometimes abbreviated ult. or ulto. If someone refers to a death on the 12th ultimo, it means the 10th of the preceding/past month (i.e., if the statement is made in January, it is referring to a death that occurred in December).

Hope this helps.

Ultimo and proximo are Latin, from ultimo mense (previous month) and proximo mense, (next month). Instant seems to be from the English word instant, in its meaning of “current.”

Ronald Reagan's letter, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Edmund Shackelford (or Shackleford)

White Plains Baptist Church at White Plains, Greene County, Georgia, was organized in 1806. On May 29, 1812, my great-great-great-great grandparents Richard and Sally Parker united with this church on experience of grace and were received (minutes, p. 17). They were possibly baptized by Pastor Edmund Shackelford,[i] though the minutes do not state this. Shackelford served White Plains’ second pastor from June 1810 to January 1818. I found the following death notice/obituary for Shackelford in the Milledgeville, Georgia, newspaper Federal Union, Saturday, October 2, 1830, page 3.

At his residence, in Hancock county, on the 1st inst. the Rev. Edmund Shackleford, aged 49 years, two months and 22 days. He died suddenly of a relapse, after the most pleasing hopes had been entertained of his recovery. A feeling community will sympathise with his pious and afflicted widow and his bereaved children. He was received into the Baptist Church at the early age of 18, soon after which, he began to call upon his fellow creatures “to repent and believe the Gospel,” and within a year or two, was ordained to the ministry. He was very successful in winning souls to Christ, and many most pleasing revivals have existed in the various Churches of which he was from time to time the Pastor. In his pulpit exercise, he was zealous, animated, and often eloquent. He entered with zeal into the benevolent schemes of the day; and by his death the Church has not only been shorn of one of her brightest beams but the cause of Temperance has keen bereft of an able and efficient advocate. The writer of this article well remembers that at the last meeting of the Georgia Temperance Society, many tears were shed under his touching appeals. How mysterious is the Providence of God, how “unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” A little before his death, he summoned his family to his bedside, and addressed them in the most feeling manner upon the important concerns of eternity. He held sweet communion with God throughout his illness, except a momentary darkness which overshadowed his mind a few hours before his death; it was however but for a moment, and again he was enabled to rejoice in God. Even after his speech failed, he manifested by his gestures that all was well with his soul, and that he was dying in the glorious hope of a blessed immortality. The infidel may boast of his vain philosophy, and scoff at the religion of Jesus, but there is nothing which can dispel the awful gloom that hangs around the grave—there is nothing which can sustain the soul when flesh and heart foil, and while the world “recedes and disappears,” but the animating hopes to be found in the gospel.—Southern Recorder.

[i] Biography in Ford’s Christian Repository, Volume 7, p. 288. The January 28, 1829 Augusta Chronicle notes his second marriage in Hancock County, “on Sunday evening the 11th instant, by the Rev. Joseph Roberts, the Rev. Edmund Shackelford, of Morgan county to Mrs. Mary Haygood.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Review: Feet Washing - Heritage, Answers, Application

Nearly twelve years ago I reviewed The Washing of the Saints’ Feet by J. Matthew Pinson. Recently I have purchased another book on the topic from a Free Will Baptist author – Feet Washing: Heritage, Answers, Application by Thurmon Murphy.[i] This book is religious non-fiction, available in paperback from Amazon, FWB Publications, or the author.

After a foreword and preface, the author lists the scripture verses that are relevant to the topic, followed by ten chapters that elucidate the subject of washing the saints’ feet as a religious rite. Since Murphy is a Free Will Baptist, readers may come to the book with preconceived ideas – and are likely to be surprised (I did, and I was). Beginning on page 10 the author reveals a five-fold purpose for writing this book. The first is, “I want to show that those who do not practice feet washing are as fully franchised Free Will Baptists as those who do practice it.” Those who are not Free Will Baptists – and perhaps some who are – may be surprised by the notion that there are Free Will Baptists who do not observe feet washing as a rite/ordinance.[ii] Murphy’s aim is to consider both sides (p. 22). He brings a unique perspective by having been on “both sides.” On pages 33-36, he details his journey from one who practiced feet washing as an ordinance to one who believes “that Jesus never intended for us to literally wash one another’s feet.”

To fulfill his purpose of showing that those who do not practice feet washing are “fully franchised Free Will Baptists” the author visits the feet washing heritage of Free Will Baptists in chapters two and three. For the most part, he looks at the treatise, minutes, and writings of the Northern branch of Free Will Baptists, beginning in 1780 with Benjamin Randall. The reasonable conclusion is that Northern Free Will Baptists held a variety of views on the rite, from practicing it to not practicing it. The northern treatise was the foundation of the treatise of the Free Will Baptists who formed the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Nashville, Tennessee in 1935.[iii]

In chapters 5-8, Murphy considers “Six Arguments in Favor of Feet Washing.” He holds that these arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, and that there is “no scriptural or historical evidence that any of the New Testament churches practiced feet washing” (p. 152). He follows this with a chapter positing that the first century churches (after the close of the New Testament) did not practice feet washing. In his final chapter, the author presents “What Jesus Was Teaching.” His view is that the act of Jesus in washing his disciples’ feet teaches humility (p. 172), cleansing (p. 178), and service (p. 184). The author concludes that “When we have humbly served our fellow believers in various ways we have done exactly what Jesus meant for us to do” (p. 187).

Thurmon Murphy’s book is primarily a book by a Free Will Baptist written for Free Will Baptists. He speaks out of his experience to those with similar heritage and experience. This does not render it useless for others, though. There is a good deal of history for those interested in the history of feet washing. There is a good deal of theology for those interested in the theology of feet washing. This book contains valuable information for a broader readership than just Free Will Baptists. And good books on the topic of washing the saints’ feet are not constantly coming to the fore!

Interestingly, Murphy’s aim is at odds with Pinson’s aim (in the book I cite in the first paragraph), part of which is to re-energize the Free Will Baptists’ vision of washing the saints’ feet. Some of Murphy’s aim is more toward re-directing than re-energizing. At times I found Murphy’s views, reasoning, and conclusions at odds with my own as well. I was surprised at his primary focus on the Randall (Northern) movement while mostly ignoring the Palmer (Southern) movement. He explains this on page 134 – “apparently the Palmer movement left little in book form and it is difficult or even impossible to gather much information about them.”

I recommend the book with the understanding that I nevertheless do not agree with Murphy’s main thesis.[iv] If you believe in feet washing as a rite you will not agree with a good deal of what he says. You will find your position challenged (and, if withstanding the challenge, strengthened). If you do not believe in feet washing as a rite, you may come away with new support for your own belief. I am glad that I purchased and read Feet Washing: Heritage, Answers, Application. I think you will be, too.

[i] Columbus, OH: FWB Publications, 2018. According to the back cover, “Thurmon Murphy is a retired Free Will Baptist pastor with nearly sixty years’ experience…a 1964 graduate of Welch College” who has served in various state and national denominational positions. Murphy is also author of From the Red to the Rio Grande: a History of the Free Will Baptist Work in Texas, 1876 to 2014.
[ii] For example, A Treatise of the Faith and Practices of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, Inc. lists three “Ordinances of the Gospel” – Christian Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Washing the Saints’ Feet.
[iii] Most of the Northern Free Will Baptist movement merged with the Northern Baptist Convention (now ABCUSA) in 1911, but the remnant joined with the Southern Free Will Baptists in creating the National Association.
[iv] Feet Washing: Heritage, Answers, Application can be somewhat repetitive, but overall this probably serves Murphy’s five-fold purpose. There are also a few publisher’s issues, in my opinion, such oddities as a different font on the chapter nine heading, or chapter six bearing a different title than the one given in the “Table of Contents.” An index would also improve the usefulness of the book.