W. J. (William J.) Scott.

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his right bower, Captain Kell, the Adjutant General of
Georgia. Another of his sons, now dead, was the hus
band of Mrs. Maffit, of this city. That late noble Chris
tian woman, Mrs. B. B. Crew, was his grand d lughter.
One of Dr. Maffit's daughters was the wife of Mirabeau
B. Lamar, the second President ot Texas. Others of
Atlanta, and Mobile's worthiest citizens are related to
this eminent minister by marriage or consanguinity.

I had hoped to find, in the book to which I alluded
in the outset, some specimens of his pulpit productions,
but it was written while he was quite young, twenty-
five years of age and still we detect in his pious reflec
tions, scattered throughout the volume, the buddings
of that genius which in after years made him a most
attractive and able minister of the gospel.

In his youth he seems at intervals to have paid court
to the "tuneful nine." Some of the first fruits are
found in several short poems which constitute an appen
dix to his autobiography. They remind us of the ear
lier poems of Henry Kirke White, having about them
the same religious fervor and flavor. As they are the
immature products of his younger years, they are not
to be tried by the canons of a sterner criticism. They,
doubtless, would have a charm for many readers.



Dr. Bascom was a sharp contrast to the eminent min
ister just sketched. He was a native of New York, but
from an early age was identified with Southern Metho

When a mere stripping he entered the ministry, first
in Ohio, afterwards in Kentucky, where his ministerial
fortunes were strangely checkered. He was, when still
young, a man of majestic features and figure, with a
Jovian brow and an eye to " threaten and command."
He affected fine clothes, which, amongst not a few of
his clerical contemporaries, was esteemed a grievous
fault. His style of speech in the pulpit subjected him
to censure, and not a few "plain, packstaff Metho
dists" amongst the laity and a goodly number of the
old-fashioned elders in the ministry, greatly feared that
the youthful orator was a bit too self-conceited.

It was, therefore, considered a wise policy to send
the young preacher to mountain circuits, where the rough
and tumble experiences of itinerant life would take the
starch out of his clerical vestments. But young Bas
com had "the root of the matter" in him, and came
forth from the ordeal strengthened in purpose and in far
better repute with preachers and people.

It was a lucky chance for Bascom that brought him to
the knowledge of Henry Clay. Mr. Clay was charmed
with his conversation and preaching, and is credited
with saying that he had no equal in the American pul
pit. This indorsement of the Kentucky giant gave


Bascoin the entree to the best circles and the foremost
positions in the Methodist church.

In a few years he was chosen as a delegate to the
General Conference, where he was destined to win
greater distinction.

In the memorable conference of 1844, he was in some
respects the most conspicuous of the Southern delegates
in that body of representative men. As a debater he
made no considerable figure, being overshadowed by
such trained disputants as Winans, of Mississippi ;
Capers, of South Carolina; Smith and Early, of Virginia,
and Paine, of Tennessee. But when it came to the ap
pointment of some one to prepare the protest of the
Southern minority, Bascom was selected for that pur
pose, and discharged that duty with marked ability.

In the Louisville Convention of the next year (1845),
which organized the M. E. Church South, on the basis
of the plan of separation adopted the previous year by
the General Conference, his valuable services were
again in requisition. He it was that prepared a paper
setting forth the reasons for separation a document
which in clearness of statement and vigor of argument
compares favorably with Webster's letter to Baron

Dr. Bascom, because of his scholarly attainments, was
at different times made president of two or more col
leges and universities.

At the second General Conference held at St. Louis
in 1850, Dr. Bascom was elected to the Episcopacy.
Contrary to immemorial custom he was designated to


preach his own ordination sermon. That grandest effort
of his ministry gave assurance that in his new and
responsible position he would be a blessing to the
church which had so highly honored him. But his
Episcopal career was cut short by an untimely death,
having, we believe, presided at but a single session of
an annual conference.

Leaving these brief biographical details, we proceed
to speak of his characteristics as a pulpit orator.

We have already remarked that Maffit and Bascom
were sharply contrasted in their pulpit styles. The
former had a larger share of the "suaviter in modo,"
and with more fancy had less of the Miltonic imagina
tion. Bascom, in consequence of his better educational
advantages, was more classical and more logical. But
we question if he was the equal of Maffit in the ability
to melt and move a vast assembly. In Bascom there
was more of that majestic bearing and intellectual sweep
which was seen in Thomas Chalmers when he thundered
from the pulpit of the Ton church, and in some wise
shook Scotland from Maiden Kirk to John O'Groats.

Bascom loved the great themes of Revelations. He
liked to toy with thunderings and lightnings of Sinai
and to portray in vivid colors the scenes of the general
judgment When standing on these loftier altitudes of
Christian thought he was as much at home as the eagle
when he spurns some Alpine summit and soars right
onward and upward to the su-n.

Bishop Bascom published several volumes of college
lectures, and we believe but a single volume of sermons.


These latter have been widely read and much admired
by the younger Methodist clergy, and some of them
have been so inconsiderate as to attempt to imitate Bas-
com's pulpit methods. It is the old story of the strip
ling David in Saul's armor, but some of them were not
as wise as the son of Jesse, who put aside the battle
harness of the stalwart Benjaminite and went forth to
the combat with his shepherd's sling and a few stones
gathered out of the wayside brook.

But we recur to his ordination sermon at St. Louis in
1850 as his masterpiece. Demosthenes made many
wonderful orations, but none of them was equal to the
"Oration on the Crown." Bascom likewise preached
a number of great sermons, but in none of them did he
reach the high water mark of his genius, except in that
notable discourse. The text was: "God forbid that I
should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. "
Of course the burden of the sermon was the atonement.
It happily blended argument and appeal. It was logic
at a white heat. It was eloquence such as might
become the tongue of an angel who, returning from an
errand to some far-off planet, hovered for a brief while
on poised wing above reprobate Jerusalem, and was an
eye-witness of the crucifixion. So thrilling was the
sermon that gray-haired veterans wept like children,
and some shouted "Hosannah to the Son of David! "

The peroration was a climax of beauty and power.
We can only recall it in part. Said the newly elected
bishop: "When we speak of the cross we do not refer
to that symbol of redemption as it blazed on the impe-


rial labarum of Constantino, nor yet as it appeared in the
mystic monogram of the Rosicrucian, but that divine
cross of Calvary, all stained with hallowed blood, which
is the sign and seal of a world's redemption. Let its
precious light go forth to the ends of creation, until
from every dwelling place of universal being there shall
be heard the loud acclaim : "The cross ! The cross ! !
The cross ! ! ! ''




IT requires no inconsiderable stretch of fancy to con
ceive of the aged presbyter of Ephesus who wrote the
charming Epistles to Gaius and to the elect lady as once
'a mere boy playing beside his father's boat on that
bright strip of sand which still marks the site of Beth-
saida. " And yet even the average human life from
youth to extreme age is full of such varied and rare, we
might say such incongruous incidents and experiences.

The especial pre-eminence of St. John in the apos
tolic college was in a large measure due to the fact that
he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." There is lit
tle force in the suggestion that possibly there was a bit
of nepotism in the ardent attachment of our Saviour to
the younger son of Zebedee and Salome. While the
Master and His favorite disciple were kinsmen by birth
and blood, yet we feel assured that their close and con
fidential relationship was not the simple out-growth of
an unreasoning human sentiment, but rather the result
of a spiritual kinship as indicated by their striking moral

While Peter and James shared with John the stronger
confidence and warmer fellowship of their divine leader,


yet even in this inner circle of discipleship there were
unmistakable evidences that he stood foremost in rank
as he did in gifts and graces.

In the first general council at Jerusalem, St. Paul
whether by a wise intuition or by a direct revelation is
of no great consequence readily perceived that these
three were reckoned pillar Apostles. They consti
tuted a sort of imperium in imperio ; and, strangely
enough as we see it, naming them as James, Cephas and
Joseph, he inverted the order in which we are inclined
to place them. This, if intentional on the part of St.
Paul, might be accounted lor by the circumstance that
on this particular occasion James, the titular and per
haps rightful bishop of the mother Church, presided
over the council, and that Peter, as was his habit, was
the chief speaker John, as on other occasions, was
reticent because, as some have conjectured, of a becom
ing deference to his older brethren of the apostleship.

But perhaps a better clue to the habitual reserve of
this great apostle is furnished by Archdeacon Farrar.
He states that St. John was of a contemplative habit,
and, therefore, did not affect the more aggressive
methods of his fellow-apostles. Not one of them, how
ever, was his equal in culture or social position, nor did
any of them contribute as largely to the literature of
the New Covenant. That John was justified in refer
ring to himself by the modest circumlocution as " the
disciple whom Jesus loved" is evident from two
recorded incidents of the Last Supper. The circum
stance of his leaning on the breast of Jesus was


probably not exceptional ; at any rate, it was signifi
cant. Nor was it less so when Simon Peter would
know who of their number would betray him that the
Master made this same disciple the medium of com
munication to the other brethren. The clearest proof,
however, of the Saviour's firm trust in John's personal
fidelity was at the crucifixion. Forgetting the agonies
he was suffering, losing sight of the mockings and
revilings of the Priest ridden rabble that swayed to and
fro at the foot of the cross, he sought the eager eye of
the beloved disciple, and said: "Son, behold thy
mother." Henceforth the blessed Virgin became the
honored and cherished guest of the beloved disciple.

This is but a single instance of the responsiveness of
John to the slightest word or wish of the Master.
Just as the strings of the harp were responsive to the
softest finger touch of the stripling David, so every
chord of John's heart was adjusted to the faintest
whisper of Christ's love. Psychologists talk long and
learnedly of persons that are en rapport one with the
other. This mysterious relationship does exist, and it
was in no dubious sense a bond of endearment between
the Saviour and his apostle.

But, if we analyze the character of St. John, we dis
cover that beyond any and all others of that immediate
generation, he combined those qualities which shone
brightest in the character and life of the world's
Redeemer. These qualities were a tenderness more
than womanly, and a courage that neither quaked nor
quailed in the presence of difficulty or danger.


The familiar couplet,

The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring.

was illustrated in the character of St. John. That he
was gentle in a remarkable degree was abundantly shown
in many incidents of his life, and yet more strikingly in
the Fourth Gospel and in his three Epistles. It must
have been a warm and loving heart from which leaped,
like an altar-flame, that loftiest generalization of Holy
Writ: "God is love." Who, indeed, can compass its
manifold and marvelous meanings? How it puts to
shame every other theism, oriential or occidental ! How
it brings

Joy to the desolate ; Light to the straying !

Ay, more, how it opens the door of hope in every
"Valley of Achor!" and how it whispers to every
chafed spirit and troubled heart the "Peace be still"
which caused the waves of Gennesaret to crouch obedi
ently at the feet of the incarnated word and wisdom ot
God! O, my disquieted soul, hope thou in God, for His
nature and His name is love. A love passing the love
of woman, whether wife or mother ; a love that flares
forth at midnight through the deep defiles and up the
dizzy steeps of dark mountains, searching diligently for
the lost sheep and bringing it back to the shelter of the

John, beyond any of the apostles, has firmly grasped
this central idea of the gospel. Hence, in his own gos
pel, he hurries away from the mystery of the Logos and
lingers long and lovingly on the valedictory sayings of


his Master, where there is much of the Comforter and
the "house of many mansions" and the abiding peace
and the perennial joy that remaineth.

There was. however, another side to the character of
this great apostle. He was not, as a distinguished
writer has said, the dreamful " pietest which appears in
the pictures of Titian and Raphael." At times, not a
few, he manifested that " Elijah spirit'' which made the
Saviour characterize him as a "Son of Thunder" less
impulsive, it may be, than Peter, but when fully roused
more vehement. It was this "manner of spirit," more
over, which made him, on the night of the betrayal,
enter boldly into the palace of the high priest when the
other ten, taking no account of Iscariot, faltered and
fled or followed afar off like Simon Peter. Nor did
Peter's denial, of which he was in some sort an eye and
ear witness, in the least shake the constancy of his
steadfast mind. All through the hours of that night of
tenebrific blackness did he, like Abdiel, the stripling
seraph of " Paradise Lost," keep his loyalty untarnished.

On the next day this unswerving loyalty was further
shown when he was the sole representative of the apos-
tolate in that group of devoted women who stood in the
shadow of the cross. To his presence we owe our
knowledge of one striking feature of that tragic scene.
We allude to the brutal spear-thrust of the Roman sol
dier, in response to which blood and water issued forth,
testifying to the certainty of his death, and typical of
the cleansing and saving power of that death.

But the greater displays of John's sterner nature were


reserved to his riper years, when he endured the utmost
stress of Jewish and Roman persecution.

The legend of the caldron of boiling oil from which
he escaped unhurt may have no historic basis, but there
is no sufficient reason to question the story of his ban
ishment by an edict of Domitian to Patmos, a barren
rock in the yEgean Sea. There it was that he "saw the
Apocalypse," with its wild and weird imagery. There
it was that he witnessed the opening of the seven seals
and heard the blast of the seven trumpets as they
sounded the march of the Christian centuries toward
the final consummation. Away from the habitations of
men and shut out from the communion of saints, he
was granted a vision of the glorified church a great
multitude redeemed out of every kindred, tongue and

In this sea-girt prison he is thought to have written
the Revelation and most probably his First Epistle.
Some have likewise suggested that during this enforced
loneliness he wrote the Fourth Gospel, in which he
supplies the notable "lack of service" of the Synoptists.
This would leave only his brief Second and Third Epis
tles for his later residence at Ephesus, the capitol of
Proconsular Asia. There is, however, much confusion
in the chronology of that period, so that there is no
great degree of certitude in these statements. Besides,
there are some marks of a controversial aim in both his
Gospel and First Epistle, which would place them at a
later date.

His Episcopal residence at Ephesus, to which we


have just referred, although well established as a fact, is
shrouded in mystery. Many things are related of these
closing years of the "beloved disciple" that have been
greatly questioned. The story of his reclaiming an
apostate youth from a life of brigandage is a romantic
feature of these later years, and is so thoroughly charac
teristic of the great apostle that we are reluctant to dis
credit it. So we might say of the beautiful incident of
his being borne in his Episcopal chair to the assemblies
ot the Ephesian Church, and with tremulous voice and
uplifted hands, exhorting them: "Little children,
love one another. " But after all, the most curious myth
was one which was based on the response of the Saviour
to the impertinent questioning of Peter in regard to the
destiny of John: "What if I will that he tarry until I

This response raised a general expectation amongst
the disciples that John would survive the second advent;
and yet it was as the scriptures teach, a palpable misin
terpretation. Here it may be, however, we have the
germ of the legend of the Wandering Jew, who, under
various names, as Ahasuerus, Salathiel, and others, "has
passed like night from land to land.''

Be this as it may, yet, sooner or later, the hour struck
when the last apostle must needs die not, as in the
case of the other eleven, by violence, but, as was befit
ting the character of John, in quietness and in the midst
of gentle ministrants, human and angelic,

While heaven and earth conspired to say
How blest the righteous when he dies.



CONSERVATISM a ponderous word, whether in poli
tics or religion is the term that best expresses the
leading characteristics of James, "the Lord's brother,"
and the first Bishop of Jerusalem.

In a technical sense, James was a non-apostolic man,
like Luke, the evangelist, and Barnabas, the " son of
consolation." And yet, in a broader acceptation, he
was reckoned one of the three "pillar apostles" by the
mother Church at Jerusalem.

In what sense he was our "Lord's brother" is in
volved in some obscurity. If literally true, it over
throws the Catholic dogma of the perpetual virginity of
the blessed mother of Christ. With such speculations,
which are more curious than edifying, we have no pres
ent concern. That James was a Nazarite from his birth,
and that he was reared to manhood in the house of
Joseph and Mary at Nazareth, are as well ascertained
as any other facts in connection with the holy family.

Such an environment was favorable to the develop
ment of every human virtue, and James grew to man's
estate greatly respected and beloved by all classes of his
Jewish countrymen. Although a devoted disciple of
Jesus, he was, by reason of his strict observance of the
Mosaic laws, in good repute with the hierarchy at Jeru
salem, so much so, indeed, that they surnamed him
"The Just."

The best analysis of the character of James may be
soonest arrived at by a careful study of his General


Epistle, which, according to our conception, is a sort of
connecting link between the Old and New Testament
Scriptures. It was not formally admitted into the
sacred canon until the Council of Carthage, A. D. 394.
Previously, however, it had been accepted by the Syr
ian Church and incorporated into the Peshito, one of
the earliest versions of which we have any knowledge.
Whilst several of the Fathers rejected it, others of
these including the learned Latin Father Jerome
gave it their indorsement as thoroughly canonical.
That the Epistle was known to the Church at a very
early period abundantly appears from the fact that St.
Peter, as shown in his First Epistle, was familiar with
its text. Some of the thoughts, and even verbiage, of
St. Peter particularly, as it relates to the disciplinary
uses of adversity, are almost identical with those of St.

The most striking peculiarity of this Epistle is the
emphasis with which the apostle stresses the observance
of the moral law in order to personal salvation. It was
this salient feature that made it a stone of stumbling to
Luther, and induced him to stigmatize it as a ''straw
Epistle," quite unworthy of a place in the sacred canon.
This alleged discrepancy as to the mode of human justi
fication between the teachings of Paul and James was
indeed a favorite tDpic of discussion with the schoolmen
of the Middle Ages. For centuries these exegetes were
puzzling themselves and mystifying their readers as well,
about a matter which, like the question of the harmony
of the Gospels, only needed the research and scholar-


ship of a later age to adjust in a manner eminently sat
isfactory to the great body of Christian believers.

Fortunately for the peace and sound indoctrination of
the Church, neither the Pauline nor the Jacobean view
has prevailed to the utter exclusion of the opposite
view. "Not ot works, lest any man should boast," is
true; so, likewise, that other saying: " Knowest thou
not, O vain man, that faith without works is dead, being
alone?" These, as has often been argued, are comple
mentary truths, and in no just sense contradictory doc
trinal statements. The rejection of the former entangles
us with a legal issue which is of the very essence of
Pharisaism, while the rejection of the latter would entail
on the Church the curse of Antinomianism. In either
event our theology would be warped and of necessity
lopsided. But, by a reconcilement of the two Apostles
really a matter of little difficulty we reach a conclu
sion in perfect accord with the analogy of the faith.

It would be a grave injustice to lay to the charge of
either the palpable perversions and even monstrous er
rors which have been propounded and practiced under
color of authority of one or the other.

Whilst it is well understood that the Epistles to the
Romans and Galatians have been distorted by Antino-
mians, to the serious hurt of Christianity, so likewise
the Epistle of St. James has been twisted or, rather,
travestied by legalists to the great hinderance of Gos
pel truth. But St. Paul is no whit responsible for the
folly of Solfidianism, nor is St. James chargeable with
the not less mischievous heresy of Ebionism. The


effort of the Council of Trent to straddle the issue is at
best a "most lame and impotent conclusion," which
needs no refutation at our hands. It occurs to us that
St. James himself covers the whole field of this unseemly
wrangle when he characterizes the Gospel as "a per
fect love of liberty." This by any fair interpretation
shuts out error in both directions. The Gospel is not
a bare euphemism, but a law as stringent as that which
the Divine finger wrote on the two stone tables of Sinai.
Both are the work of the same "legislative God."
Both have for their sanctions nothing less than eternal
life or endless death. And yet that "perfect law"
brings deliverance from a bondage more cruel than abo
litionism ever feigned or fancied in the rice-fields of the
Carolinas or on the sugar estates of Louisiana. It pro
claims a moral liberty to the captive of sin untainted by
license a liberty to be won not by the mailed hand of
controversy, but received by the broken heart and con
trite spirit of penitence.

Some have been inclined to weaken the authority of
the Epistle on the ground that the Gospel is not once
named in the five chapters that compose it. A like
criticism as to shallowness was long ago made on the

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Online LibraryW. J. (William J.) ScottHistoric eras and Paragraphic pencilings → online text (page 8 of 14)