ised the preacher you would come, or else I would have got
the whole sermon this evening.'
'Oh, yes, of course, we will all go out, just for your sake,
and because he is kin to old Ed. Burleson.' They did come in
great numbers, the house was crowded, and I have never
preached to a more attentive audience before or since. In
the depths of my soul I felt that God was with me, and that
glory would follow. After the service was over, the congre-
gation slowly and silently retired. Large numbers of them
assembled at Mr. P saloon, their social headquarters,
and discussed the situation. They said it was mighty good
preaching, drank to my health. General Ed. Burleson's health,
and then to their own health; and I was told, that many
of them not only got healthy, but wealthy and happy also.
They said I should never come to Brenham again and start a
meeting with a congregation of one, that they would all turn
out, to hear me every time I preached.
I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in prayer,
study, and visiting such families and persons as I hoped would
be benefited, and in preaching to vast crowds at night, for the
whole town and surrounding country was thoroughly aroused.
On Wednesday night the service was unusually good, and the
entire congregation was moved. Afterwards as usual, the
boys assembled at Mr. P.'s saloon, and talked over the incidents
of the night. One of them said : 'See here, boys, how long
is this thing going to last ? I can not stand it much longer.
Last night I dreamed the old devil came after me with a red
hot chain and a pair of tongs, and was about to drag me right
down to hell.'
Another remarked: 'I am getting awful tired, for I
do believe some of you fellows have told him all about my
meanness, for in every sermon he says something that fits my
Another remarked : 'I am getting enough myself, for
I can not sleep at night, he makes me think so much of my
mother and her prayers, and the promises I made her when I
came to Texas, and how shamefully I have broken those vows.'
88 The Life axd Writings of
Another said : 'I'm getting enough of this meeting my-
self, and wish he would quit, and but for the looks of the
thing, I would propose to run him off.'
'That would never do,' one said, 'it would give us and the
town a bad name, but I tell you what we can do. You heard
him say he never swore nor smoked, and did things like that,
we can smoke him out of the church, and he will be sure to
They had all smoked rabbits out of hollow trees, when
they were boys, and agreed that they could smoke a Baptist
preacher out of his pulpit just as successfully. I never could
tolerate the fumes of tobacco, and was about the easiest victim
of an assault of this kind, they could have selected.
Well, they decided to try it, all filled their pockets full
of cigars, fired up and came to church. Some of them came
in, and sat with the congregation. Others stood in the doors
and filled the windows, but all smoking like a tar kiln. It
was no unusual thing to see men smoking at public gatherings,
in those early days in Texas.
Soon the house was full of smoke, and I began to grow
a little faint, but I understood what they were up to, and
determined to speak on if it killed me. I never saw so many
people smoking at once. It looked to me, as if every man in
the house, had two cigars in his mouth instead of one. I made
it a point in my sermon to talk a good deal about sulphur,
fire and brimstone, and drew an awful picture of the doom
that awaited the wicked in a gulf of fire and smoke, where
Dives was then calling for one drop of water, to cool his
parched tongue. They smoked me, and I smol-ed them. My
fire and brimstone was eternal and outlasted theirs. Very
soon their cigars went out, the house became clear of smoke,
I recovered from my spell of faintness and preached on.
After the benediction, they assembled at the saloon, and
one of them said : 'Boys, he has beat us at our own game,
we can smoke rabbits out of hollows, but we can not smoke
Baptist preachers out of their pulpits. We have all acted
shamefully tonight, and now let us do as we promised, go to
hear Parson Burleson every time he preaches, and behave
ourselves like gentlemen.'
Dk. Kufus C. Burleson. 89
Many in this crowd whom I outsmoked, were converted
during the meeting, joined the church, and spent lives of
The meeting continued with increasing interest until Sun-
day night, when that grand lawyer and Baptist preacher,
Judge K. E. B. Baylor came to open district court the next
morning. After my sermon he arose and made a powerful
and touching appeal, that moved the vast congregation to
'Our young brother,' he said, 'who has been preaching to
you so earnestly, privately and publicly, for two weeks will
leave in the morning for his home in Houston. The yellow
fever is raging in that city, and this may be our young broth-
er's last sermon to you. He has seemed to preach to you
tonight as a dying man, to dying men. He has proclaimed
the truth, not perhaps as you would like to hear it, but as he
is commanded by the book of eternal truth. These truths you
must accept, if you ever secure the favor of your Heavenly
Father, regardless of any preconceived opinions you may en-
tertain on the plan of salvation. God saves people in the
wilds of Texas, just as He saves them everywhere, and only
as He saves them everywhere, by grace, through faith in
Christ. May his burning words sink deep into your hearts.'
On the 20th day of December, 1846, two years before, a
church had been organized by Judge Baylor, four miles north
of Brenham, and christened i^Tew Years Creek Baptist Church.
A few of the members lived at Brenham, but no organization
had been effected.
As a result of this meeting, the Baptists became quite
strong around Brenham, and on the 25th of IN'ovember, 1851,
the :Rew Years Creek Church passed the following resolution :
"Whereas, In the gracious providence of God, it has
become necessary to afford church privileges to the citizens of
Brenham, and its vicinity, and as it is deemed inexpedient at
present to organize a regular church there ;
Resolved, That Brethren Elliott Allcorn, J. C. Mundine,
G. W. Buchanan, and James Stockton, together with any
other members of this church, that may attend the meetings
in that place, be, and they are hereby authorized, to sit in
90 The Life akd Writings of
conference and receive members into full fellowship of this
church, and report said members to our conference meetings,
from time to time immediately after their reception. This
the parent church desigTiated as "an arm."
One week afterward, on the 1st of December, 1851, the
arm at Brenham held its first conference meeting. E. C. Bur-
leson was present, and presided, preached the first sermon to
the "arm," placed the resolution passed by 'New Years Creek
Church, into enforcement, saw the fruits of the meeting held
in 1848, three years before, gathered into an organization the
nucleus formed, and the foundation laid for the first Baptist
church of Brenham, which became one of the leading churches
in the state.
Dk. Kufus C. Burleson. 91
Mr. Burleson's Estimate of the Pastorate — Authority
OF THE Church — All Legislation, Canon, Creed or
Decree not Authorized by the Word of God Rejected
- — Opposition to a Union of Church and State — ■
Indeffinitely Called to Houston Pastorate — Dr. A.
J. Gordon — Diversity of Ministerial Gifts — Mr. Bur-
leson Stricken with Yellow Fever, Cholera —
Called to Pastorate at Huntsville, Ala. — Declines
— Visits Independence — Dr. H. L. Graves Resigns
Presidency of Baylor University — Mr. Burleson
Elected to Succeed Him — Sees Larger Opportunities
FOR Usefulness and Accepts— Resign at Houston —
Resolutions of the Church.
EAV ministers ever lived who entertained a more
exalted opinion of the Church of Jesus Christ, and
had a clearer conception of the authority and calling
of the pastor than R. C. Burleson. He imbibed much of the
sentiment, and held to many of the opinions on this subject,
of Dr. E. G. Robinson, his renowned preceptor, Professor of
Biblical Interpretation in the Western Baptist Theological
Seminary at Covington.
He believed "the inspired Scriptures contained the
supreme authority of Jesus Christ in all that relates to Chris-
tian faith and practice, whether in ordinance, doctrine, a holy
life, or the administration of church government. "These
92 The Life axd "Writixgs of
alone must be followed. All legislation, canon, creed or decree^
springing from tradition, ecclesiastical authority, or usage of
antiquity, not enjoined in the Scriptures, is to be resisted and
rejected, from whatever source it may come, either inside the
local church, or outside, as intolerable in the faith and prac-
tice of the churches.
That a Christian church must be made up of persons who
are morally regenerated; and that it is not a simple voluntary
association, but a body of people called out of the world around
them, by Christ's special authority, to be a people peculiar to
himself. That the regeneration of each person in the church,,
must be wrought by the Holy Spirit, he must be baptized on his
own choice and covenant to maintain the gospel in its purity.
That the object of a Gospel church is to promote mutual
growth in Truth, Purity and Love, the advancement of
Christ's cause on earth, the salvation of the Christless.
That Baptism and the Lord's Supper, after the apostolic
appointment, both as it regards their relation to themselves
as ordinances, and to other great Gospel teachings, should be
practiced solely as God's Truth enjoins. Water can never
wash away the stain of sin, and the Supper should only be
celebrated when the local church is met in one place as a
He earnestly opposed all connection of a Baptist Church
with the government, and resisted all discriminations and dis-
tinctions made by the State to the citizens on religious grounds.
Baptists protest that civil governments have nothing what-
ever to do with the control of religious organizations, but to
give unrestricted liberty to the citizens to "woi'ship God
according to the dictates of their conscience, under their own
vine and fig tree, where none dare molest or make them afraid,'"
That God never designed that his creatures should worship
Him by law, or according to law, but to "render unto Ca?sar
the things that were Caesar's, and unto God the things that
were God's," Mr, Burleson insisted that this had been the
contention of Baptists from the birth of Christ, along all suc-
ceeding ages and times, and any other position held by a Bap-
tist was nothing more and nothing less than heresy pure,
simple and unmixed. For the doctrines of soul Liberty, civil
De. Rufus C. Burleson. 93
and religious freedom, they have suffered pain and penalty
in every form, even to martyrdom, in a thousand horrible
He believed, also, that not only individual Christians
should witness for Christ, but that church members, in this
organic capacity, should dwell, and live in such beautiful
Christian harmony and fellowship that it would be the most
effective of all witnessing, a light set upon a hill.
Mr. Burleson believed, with that prince of modern pul-
pits. Dr. A. J. Grordon, of Boston, that "there is one calling
which deserves the name of the "High calling in Christ Jesus,''
namely, the preacher of the Gospel.
First, because it is a ministry of the Lord Jesus, of whom
he is a disciple and embassador.
Second, it is a ministry of the Gospel of the Grace of
God, of which he is the Herald and witness.
Third, it is a ministry of the Kingdom of God, in which
he is a subject and representative.
Fourth, it is a ministry of the Church of God, in which
he is the servant and shepherd.
Fifth, it is a ministry of the Holy Ghost, of whom he is
an example, and overseer or bishop."
He also believed with that great Southern preacher and
scholar, Dr. E. B. C. Howell, his pastor while in N'ashville
University, in the authority and office of Deacon.
"They are the depositories of all the common property
and funds of the church ; to supply the necessities of the desti-
tute and suffering.
"They frequently receive contributions, and disburse
the same at discretion. The whole church and congregation
must, therefore, have, in their incorruptible integrity, the
most abiding confidence. They must be of honest report."
"They may be strict in their morals, spiritual in feeling,
kind, courteous and sincere in Christian intercourse, regular
and punctual in the performance of all duties, and their
hearts deeply imbued with a love of Christ. But even all this
is not enough if not accompanied by orthodoxy in their Chris-
tian doctrine; they must hold to the mystery of faith."
94 The Life axd Writings of
"Deacons ^vill be called on to instruct the erring and
weak, to confirm the strong and establish the wavering. They
must, therefore, hot be unsteady or wavering in their tenets,
disposed for any reason to compromise truth, nor, on the
other hand, dogmatical and overbearing in its defense, but
gentle, firm and decided."
Mr. Burleson believed also and taught the democracy of
the congregation. When they come together and reached
conclusions, after a prayerful deliberation, that the voice of
the church was supreme, when not contravened bv the word
He thought, furthermore, that where there was earnest,
prayerful co-operation by the pastor, deacons and congrega-
tion, that a mighty spiritual force was there formed, which
would impress the most callous community for good, and press
on with resistless might, though all the powers of darkness
"Di^dne Truth, in fact, all truth," he said, "might be
temporarily overshadowed, and seemingly crushed, but it
would rise from the ashes oi the most despairing situation,
just as John Bunyan emerged from Bedford jail, to illuminate
the darkest recesses of earth."
j^ot only did Mr. Burleson entertain this view as to the
Divine authority of the church, the high calling of the min-
ister and the office of Deacon, but preaching with him was a
passion, from the time he felt called to proclaim the truth,
until he was settled in the Houston pastorate.
While a student in Xashville TJniverstiy, he filled regu-
lar appointments in the suburbs of the city of Nash^dlle and
At Covington, while attending the Theological Seminary,
he had regular preaching stations, and notwithstanding his
arduous school duties, he never failed to fill his appointments
Saturday and Sunday. Newport was one of the stations sup-
plied, to which he transferred his membership in 1847. He
continued this kind of missionary work after coming to Texas,
and preached in private houses and communities, as the leisure
could be found, within a radius of sixty miles around hh
place of residence.
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 95
In Houston he found the church composed of very
strong, but incongruous elements. These were, however,
brought into beautiful harmony, and his work was pleasant
to himself, and acceptable without exception, to the members
of the church and congregation. Which is shown by the fol-
lowing facts taken from the old record :
On January 3d, 1849, four days before the close of the
first year's v/ork, he was unanimously recalled to the pasto-
rate, for as long as it was agreeable to him to serve the church
in that capacity. At the same conference a resolution was
passed expressing thanks to the Board of Missions of the
Southern Baptist Convention, for sending him to Houston;
and a committee, composed of Nelson Cavanaugh and R. S.
Blount, appointed to transmit this resolution to the Board at
Marion, Alabama; and with instructions to accompany the let-
ter with a check for $25.00, as a contribution from the church
to its missionary enterprises.
April 25th, 1850, a resolution was passed reciting per-
fect and entire satisfaction with his work, and expressing the
hope that he would continue in the pastorate. His salary was
increased, and always promptly paid on the first of every
He had loving access to the home of every member of the
church and congregation, and to the homes and hearts also of
hundreds of families not Baptists.
Almost every day he received testimonals, sometimes
verbal, and sometimes in the form of affectionate letters,
expressing high appreciation of himself as a man and minister,
and containing assurances of warmest personal regard.
ISTotwithstanding his belief in the divine institution of
the church, authority of the pastor, the ofiice of deacon, his
love for proclaiming The Truth, his pleasant environments
and congenial situation, Mr. Burleson was not satisfied; he
longed for a broader, wider field of operations, and larger
opportunites of Christian work and usefulness.
He had conducted two successful revivals during his
nine months' residence in Texas, one in Galveston, and one in
Brenham, both begun and continued under the most untoward
circumstances, which impressed him that he possessed some
fitness for this kind of religious work.
96 The Life axd Writings of
On the 31st of August, 1850, he handed in his resigna-
tion as pastor of the Houston Church. Its consideration was
fixed for September 2d, at wliich time the church refused to
accept it, and begged him to withdraw it, if a sense of duty
would allow him to do so. He explained that the course he
had pursued was from a sense of duty, as he felt he could do
more good as an evangelist.
The old record, which has been closely examined, does
not mention that the resignation Avas withdrawn, but it is pre-