J. B. (James Bruton) Gambrell.

Ten years in Texas, online

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May, 1909

[All rights reserved]





Concerning a Long-Drawn-Out Campaign for Progress <>

Up Fool Hill . .. 29

The Te-Hee Girl 34

Who Owns the Wool 41

The Working Value of Free Government in Religion 45

The Army in the Ditch ^2

Country Mothers 58

Concerning Mules 6 1

Concerning Criticism and Limitations 66

Further Concerning Criticism , 72

Plain Lessons From a Loving Writer 78

Concerning Church Government 83

Decisive Battles in Human Lite 93

Grasshoppers and Giants 98

Saints and Angels 104

Bill Morgan's Economy 109

Purposeless Preachers 116

The Pains of Progress. The Unrest of Faith 121

The Last Struggle 125

Questions in Baptist Rights 128

Concerning Being Xearly Right 1 3 1

Concerning Doing Exactly Right 1 35

The Greatest Question 139

Which Way, This or That? 145

The Law of the Harvest [49

Evangelizing the Far West 1 54

Church Sovereignty and Denominational Comity 151;

"Squire Sinkhorn's" Mistake 161

Principles Underlying Co-operation Among Baptists 167

Stackpole Unification 1 j^

The Battle Ground for Missions 178

Great Meeting, and Some Remarks 181

CONTENTS— Continued

Blessed Be Books for The)- Arc a Blessing 185

Lopsidedness in Missions [89

Two Large Examples, With Lessons 193

The Passing of the Bully ...197

A Letter to Young Preachers 201

Beautiful Fighting s 204

Dreading the Process 20S

A Fine Example of Organized Efficiency.—.. 211

The Problem of Denominational Progress 214

Lizard Killing 218

Two Chapters on Money and Methods 223

Conservatism and Corns 227

A Case of Apostolic Succession, With .Votes 231

The Evil of the Fighting Spirit 235

Paul, The Tent Maker 241

Two Points of View — Self and Saerifice... 245

Trumpeting Hardsheliism 252

The Workings of ITardshellism 257

A Plea for Simplicity 261

Concerning College Degrees 265

Nationalization of the Southern Spirit 268

The Work of Preachers 273

Concerning Religious Notions 2yy

The Case of the Missionaries 281

"Poor, Yet Making Many Rich" 285

The Safety of the Baptist Methods of Work 292

The Form and the Power j<y;

A Sling and a King 301

The Nature and Uses of Conventions 307



All hail to the Baptist Standard:

"Long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave !"

Like an eagle it minds to soar to greater heights that it
may see wider horizons. It has already a wide field of use-
fulness and feels a mission to regions beyond.

Religious journalism, on right lines, deserves higher
honors than it has ever received and may through the wis-
dom of its policy, the variety and spice of its contents, and
the power of its spirit, yet startle the world with achieve-

The Standard's new honor is the promise of a book em-
bodying the articles of Dr. J. B. Gambrell, culled from its
columns. It will be a unique and most readable book.

Dr. Gambreirs fame rests largely on three excellencies :
(i) His charm and power as a platform speaker. Any
audience will hear this great "Commoner" when he rises
to speak. (2) His administrative leadership in getting
churches, associations and conventions to do right things.
(3) His ready pen in timely articles. The character of the
man backs up these excellencies.

Now the proposed book, as I understand it, will group
the articles which in their day. each fitted to its exigency,
reached and influenced the hearts of thousands. "Uncle
Gideon" is as famous in his line as "Uncle Remus" on an-
other line. Such books constitute a charming, racy, help-
ful literature. The French never excelled as historians, but
they lead the world in memoirs. These memoirs give more

life-like pictures of the times, its customs, spirit and genius
than any history could do. We learn of a reign, a genera-
tion, by a single character.

God has not given all to the one, but each gifted one
is peerless in some good. The Lord be praised for the di-
versity of gifts and let all rejoice in each one's excellence.
Dr. Gambrell's inimitable way of putting things — his easy,
lucid, off-hand style, his quaint humor and power of apt
illustration in homely things the people can understand, and
withal his lofty purpose to do and say right things will make
his book widely popular. For one I have long wanted to
see his current greatness crystalize that posterity may know
somewhat of the great good man whom his contemporaries
delighted to honor, and so warmly appreciated.

He has a standing offer from me for another book. A
series of lectures to preachers on pastoral theologies and
duties. Our Seminary stands ready to pay him for the

As I commenced with "all hail to The Standard" I
close with, "Let The Standard circulate and circulate and
keep on circulating."

B. H. Carroll,

July 9, at Louisiana B. Y. P. U., at Mandeville, on Lake

Ten Years in Texas

Concerning a Long Drawn out Cam-
paign for Progress

THHIS article is written as a preliminary dissertation
^ ona long drawn-out struggle in Texas for Baptist
jgga progress. The articles, which succeed this, in "Ten
Years in Texas" may be read in the light of the
statements found in this dissertation. They were
written, from time to time, to meet the situation, as it ap-
peared, and to fill a place in a general scheme of education
designed to lead Texas Baptists to higher ground. Not one
of the articles was written with any thought of its ever ap-
pearing in a book, and no attempt was made to give to any
article literary finish. In fact, they were designed to trim
the situation into shape. It is the roughness of the- file, that
gives it its value in the particular kind of work for which
it is designed.

In this article, there will be no attempt to follow any
chronological order of events, but only to touch the main
features of a great situation, out of which is evolving a
magnificent missionary force. If the succeeding: artf< %1 *"
have value, they take their value largely from the tact that
they touch practical questions in denominational life. No
particular order will be found in the discussions of princi-
ples and policies. Any soldier, who ever tried it, knows
there is a large difference between an orderly review of a
great army, and the movements of that army when it is
really in a fight.

My first real touch with Texas Baptist life, was in the
Houston Convention in 1896. I was there as a visitor from
Georgia. The Houston Convention was, in all respects, a

by J. B. Gambrell, D. D.

lively affair, though one would not wish to say much more
about it. This writer had seen war before, real war — four
years in the Confederate army — and then he had seen de-
nominational wars and been in them some, but a near view
of the Houston Convention gave a new and lively impres-
sion of what could really be done in a fight for order. I
recall that a brother asked me toward the conclusion of the
Convention, whether I would not like to come to Texas, and,
with sincerity, I said, "No, I want to go to Heaven, and
I don't see any good road through Texas." That was the
way it really looked to me.

But the issues raised before the Houston Convention,
and, which had been settled two or three times before, seem-
ed to be finally settled in that Convention, when, after a long
and painful struggle, the two parties voted on the report
covering the ground of contention, and voted with absolute
unanimity. That gave the idea that a little tenderness might
heal old wounds, and that the Baptists of Texas might really
be brought together, if only tact were used.

Being elected Superintendent of Missions by the Board
not long after that Convention and earnestly solicited by
leaders on both sides of the differences to accept the work,
I finally did accept, and did it with the idea that there would
not be much trouble in ending all contentions, and launching
out for a great campaign of progress. Some of the brethren
did not think so, and it took the writer some months to learn
as much as some of the other brethren knew when he came.
We were really in for a great struggle to be carried on by
stages, which, in its outcome, was to fuse and unify Texas
Baptists. We were to come to higher ground and come
through tribulation. The very situation called for it.

Texas is large on the map and large every way. Here
people are gathered from the four quarters of the earth,
representing all kind of notions, principles and prejudices.
There had been from the early days in Texas a militant


Ten Years in Texas

spirit among Baptists. The fact is, the Baptists are a mili-
tant people. They were so in the beginning, when John
the Baptist laid the ax to the roots of the trees and shook
all the regions around Jordan; and, when we cease to be,
we will not be very much account. From time to time, in
the past, efforts had been made to unify Texas Baptists,
and finally the several general bodies in the state merged
into one and the two leading papers in the state merged

Many brethren felt then that there was real unification,
but it must be rememebered that there is a difference between
contact and unity. Apples, in a barrel, are in contact and are
together, in a sense, but they are not united. Jonah and
the whale were together, Jonah inside, but Jonah and the
whale were not united, and they did not stay together when
a commotion came. We will have learned a great lesson
in our churches, associations and other working bodies,
when we clearly see the difference between contact and
unity. Paul's idea of a church was one standing fast "in
one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith
of the gospel." That is the true ideal for a general body.
When the unification movement came in Texas, and all the
general bodies merged, all the people were not merged in
spirit or mind, and there were among those, committed to
the unification movement, diverse sentiments and feelings.
It had to be so when there had been no unification of the
highest and best sort, and unification can never be accom-
plished by simply writing things on paper. The spirit will
always be greater than the letter.

Let it be remembered that people are in Texas from
everywhere. This writer was in a frontier village, in a
rough, frontier hotel in Texas where there were eleven peo-
ple. He took a census of the company. Two were born
in South Carolina, two in New York state, one in London,
one in Canada, the others one to a state in America. The


by J. B. Gam brew,, D. D.

twelfth man was a servant and a Mexican. That is a pic-
ture of the make-up of the population in Texas. And as
people came from everywhere, they brought with them such
ideas as they had. Baptists from Georgia had Georgia
ideas. Those from Kentucky had the Kentucky spirit and
ideas. Those from Kansas had Kansas notions. In get-
ting people together, it is not so bad if they are bent, as to
ways and methods, provided they are all bent the same way.
There is not much difficulty in stacking up spoons, made in
the same mold, though they are not straight. It is altogether
a different matter, however, to undertake to stack up wheel
barrows, because they were not made to fit.

Then the situation was further endangered by sectional
feelings. Texas is large, and the people live far apart. Dis-
tance is much in the thinking of the average human being.
The different sections developed their leaders, and these
leaders did not always agree. Moreover, the situation had
been greatly aggrevated by numerous papers, those instru-
ments of wrath or blessing, according as they are used. All
along, papers had developed feuds; and, when the papers
were merged into one, the feuds were not all dead, though
they slumbered for a season. Then, a little later, after a
state-wide attempt at unification, another paper was started,
made necessary by the unwise conduct of the first paper.
With such a broad, unformed situation and two papers, with
contrary alignments, there was abundant opportunity for
what happened, a great, newspaper war, brought on by
"newspaper competition.'' The Baptists have not been hap-
py in their management of newspapers. If the Philistines
had known how to run newspapers, Samson could not have
played them a worse trick than to have started them in the
newspaper business in opposition to each other. Then he
would not have needed foxes and fire brands at all. A news-
paper can be, and a good one is, the greatest instrument of
good wielded by any man. It has more eyes to see, more


Ten Years in Texas

hands to work, more feet to go, more tongues to talk than
anything else known to civilization. But, if in the hands of
an unwise man, it may, and likely will sow discord and strife
wider and more disastrously than anything else in the world.

And there were other conditions in Texas, not good,
all to be worked out in God's way. Great numbers of
preachers had come to Texas with the idea, that if they were
once here in this new country, they would count for a great
deal. Some of them had failed on other fields. They came
here to find further disappointment. It really takes a well
balanced man and strong, to hold his own in a rapidly
growing, unformed situation, such as Texas has been and
is now in a large measure. It is not every preacher, who
can be quiescent and sweet, under disappointment. Most
men, when they fail, look outside of themselves for the
cause of their failures; whereas the cause is commonly
within, and it is human nature to blame the failure on some-
body else.

In the very condition of things in Texas, there had
grown up a kind of feudalism in the denomination, the thing
that Paul condemned in the church at Corinth. One was
for Paul (that was not his name in Texas) another for
Cephas and so on. If the leaders could agree, there was a
measure of peace. If they did not, then the masses would
gather around their favorite leaders and there was no peace.
It was a kind of stack-pole unification, a personal leader-
ship, which went finally to newspaper leadership.

Another thing might be mentioned, which intensified
the situation. Some men, of a fighting disposition, felt that
they counted for more in a fight than they did in plain work,
and, if things got quiet, and every thing smoothed down
to steady work, they would not amount to much. We have
yet a contingent of this sort of people in Texas and else-
where, but more of them in the Southwest than anywhere
else. In the older and more settled parts of the country,

• 13

r.v J. B. GaMBWSU,, D. D.

the denomination has outgrown them. Texas was really a
paradise for such men, and hither they flocked.

Then, of course, we had what is always with us in our
denominational life: the foolish prejudices of country people
against town people and town people against country people.
When people come to think about it, they know there is no
sense in it. But, when there is a lively fight going, people
feel a great deal and think very little, and that helps to keep
up the fight.

Let us take still another look. On this broad field were
exploited different denominational interests. Besides the
Baptist General Convention of Texas, there was a Sunday
School Convention. Then the several schools had their in-
terests, and there were independent Sunday School workers
and evangelists ; all of them doing more or less good, all of
them trying to push forward, and often very much in each
other's way. Sometimes at a single association, or a Fifth
Sunday meeting, there would be half a dozen general men
present to represent separate interests, each one pulling for
the best hour.' Was there ever a situation in the world made
more to the hand of a man, with his pocket full of wedges,
and his mind made up to split things? Dr. Burleson is
credited with saying that there are three classes of Baptists
in Texas: "the sitters, the splitters and the builders." We
will be getting on toward the millenium when the two first
tribes diminish and the third increases to cover the land.

When this writer came to Texas as a "tender-foot,'' he
found a condition about as described, with a great battle
on. The conflict raged around the Board of Directors and
the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which had al-
ready begun a forward movement of great significance. One
of the general papers in the state stood unflinchingly by the
Board and its policies, which was the same as standing by
the Baptist General Convention, which appointed the Board
and outlined the policies. The other paper was in sharp


Ten Years in Texas

conflict, and was waging war with great zeal and no little
ability. The woods were afire all over the state, and it was
a question of saving what could be saved and holding things
together for a better day. The plan of attack was by cease-
less assaults on the Board, its workers and on the Conven-
tion itself. The accusations were as ceaseless as the tides
of the seas. They ran on the general lines made historic by
the Hardshells in their fight, also, the early Campbellites. The
sovereignty of the churches, the people were told, with insist-
ence and continuously was being ruthlessly disregarded and
trampled on by a set of bosses. The people's money was
being wasted. The management of the Board, and of the
Convention itself, was full of trickery. The most unthought
of accusations were made against the workers of the Con-
vention. No man escaped. Men grown gray in honorable
service, were held up as totally unworthy, and some of them
as grossly criminal. It was all in the spirit of the earl"
Hardshells, and by the same methods, though the conten-
tions were different. All this was urged in the name of mis-
sions; and all of it to break down public confidence in the
Convention and its agencies, to the end that failure might
result, which would be charged on the chosen leaders of the

The denomination, and those chosen to lead a forward
movement faced a grave situation. We were to make a great
experiment with the democratic principles of the Baptist
people. Would the consecration, intelligence and fidelity of
the denomination be able to withstand these attacks ? That
thousands of good people believed the false and malicious
charges made, could not be questioned, and they were openly
and honestly allied with the opposition to the Convention and
its work.

For one, I did not entertain a doubt that the principles
of democracy in the denomination would be vindicated. I
never doubted, that while we were riding rough seas and


BY J. B. Gambrexl, D. D.

traveling rough roads, in the end, neither the work, nor the
workers could be ridden down by newspapers, however bla-
tant they might be. I felt sure that, in the end, people would
turn to the right side. I never had any more doubt of it,
than I had that the Heavenly bodies will keep their places
under the unseen, but powerful law of attraction. The
demonstration, wrought out in Texas, ought to be worth
a great deal to the denomination at large. It stands for a
free press, even though the press may be misdirected, and
it ought to give assurance to the public everywhere that in
the ongoing of things, ordained by the Lord of Glory, truth,
in an open field, will win. Under the constant enfilading,
the question was often asked, if these things be not so, why
do you not sue for your character? In the body of this
volume, will be found an answer to that particular ques-
tion. But it is worth emphasizing here that the great prin-
ciple of freedom of speech and a free press, will work al-
ways for the right side, if only people have patience, with
perseverance, to give time to the working out of those
forces among men that finally determine human conduct.

The situations are so analagous, that I quote here from
the second inaugural address of Thomas Jefferson, President
of the United States. It may be remembered that, during
his first administration, the vast Louisiana territory was
acquired, and but few public men were ever set upon as
furiously as was Thomas Jefferson. He had passed through
a four years' ordeal of this sort, when he came to his sec-
ond inauguration, and from the address then made, the fol-
lowing is quoted :

"During this course of administration, and in order to
disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against
us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise
or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to
freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch
as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.


Ten YivARs in Thxas

They might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome
punishment reserved to and provided by the laws of the sev-
eral states against falsehood and defamation, but public
duties, more urgent, press on the time of public servants,
and the offenders have, therefore, been left to find their pun-
ishment in the public indignation. Nor was it uninteresting
to the world that an experiment should be fairly and fully
made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is
not sufficient for the propagatior and protection of truth,
whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit
of its Constitution, with zeal and purity, and tfoing no act
which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness,
can be written down by falsehood and defamation. The
experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene;
our fellow citizens looked on, cool and collected; they saw
the latent source from which these outrages proceeded ; they
gathered around their public functionaries, and when the
Constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they
pronounced their verdict, honorable to those who had served
them and consolatory to the friend of man, who believed that
he may be trusted with the control of his own affairs."

"No inference is here intended that the laws provided by
the states against false and defamatory publications should
not be enforced ; he, who has time, renders a service to pub-
lic morals and public tranquility in reforming these abuses
6y the salutory coercions of the law ; but the experiment is
noted to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained
their ground against false opinions in league with false
facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no other legal re-
straint; the public judgment will correct false reasonings
and opinions on a full hearing of all parties; and no other
definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberties
of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there
be still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its


by J. B. Gambkkll, D. D.

supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opin-

This is exactly what happened in Texas. Though it
was claimed persistently that the Superintendent of Mis-
sions and others were usurping authority, and were unwor-
thy of confidence, year after year, the people responded,
vindicating their servants and upholding the work, into
which they were putting yearly increasing thousands of dol-
lars. It is easy now to see a providence in all this. It takes
churning to get butter, and Texas was having a general
churning up, and a better alignment of forces for the broad,
strong, comprehensive methods adopted by the Convention
in the interest of denominational unity and progress has

During these strenuous years, every principle and prac-
tice of the denomination, touching co-operative work, has
been put to the severest test: and we have had in Texas
something like the Acts of the Apostles all over again. There
has been developed every phase of church life revealed to us
in the Acts, and we can duplicate on Texas soil every kind
of character brought to light in those early records of the
planting and training of churches. We have had men after
the Pauline order, mighty in word and deed, strong in doc-
trine, forceful in action, wise in cousel, tactful in execution —
leaders of the people along the highways of progress. And
then we have had some after the order of Peter, hot and cold,

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Online LibraryJ. B. (James Bruton) GambrellTen years in Texas, → online text (page 1 of 23)