BJU Creed - Written by Sam
in the inspiration of the
Bible, both the Old and
the New Testaments; the
creation of man by the
direct act of God; the
incarnation and virgin
birth of our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ; His
identification as the Son
of God; His vicarious
atonement for the sins of
mankind by the shedding of
His blood on the cross;
the resurrection of His
body from the tomb; His
power to save men from
sin; the new birth through
the regeneration by the
Holy Spirit; and the gift
of eternal life by the
grace of God."
Sam Jones and his Connections in History
An Analysis by Roy Greenhill
SAM P. JONES of Cartersville, Georgia may be the most representative figure of 'The Old Time Religion': the major influence that defined America at the birth of the Twentieth Century. (America is now defined by 'Hollywoodism'-the entertainment industry.) And Jones remains probably history's most unusual Christian Evangelist. Certainly one of the most effective; a man of transparent courage, integrity, wit, and universal love. His most enduring monument is
(in my opinion) 'The World's Most Unusual University,' Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina.
historic building, built in his lifetime, in his honor, Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, Tennessee, has been an entertainment center for many years. Will Rogers transformed one aspect of his style into a remarkable career (and Jones was unconsciously mimicked by the late Lewis Grizzard of The Atlanta Newspapers -- Lewis was our own Will Rogers). My friend, the late Evangelist Curtis Hutson, considered purchasing Jones's Cartersville home, then in disrepair, for his own residence. The home was since purchased by an historic preservation society, and is open to the public.
But, it was south Alabama Evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. who deliberately absorbed, and expressed through his thoroughly distinctive personality, the philosophy of religion, ethics and common sense of this 'sallow faced Georgia cracker.' The fierce emphasis on ethics and righteous living made Bob Jones University an anachronism in a century dedicated, in the realm of Evangelical Theology, to
Darbyite Dispensationalism, which has, for the
almost hundred years since the 1st World War, been powerfully and compellingly presented by many otherwise great and devout souls. Even Billy Sunday, in his last years espoused the Darby time-table,
and Dwight Moody was very instrumental in
establishing the Schofield Reference Bible (the
Schofield shaped the ministry of Billy Graham).
I must note that Dr Jones, Sr. rebuffed the
pleadings of Dr M.R. DeHaan, MD - a truly great
Bible preacher - when Dr DeHaan, in 1957(or 58),
urged him to amend the BJU Creed, written by the
associate of anti-millenarian Sam Jones, Sam
Small, to include the Rapture doctrine of
J.N. Darby. .Darby's influence, for
now, far surpasses that of Samuel Porter
Jones of Cartersville, Georgia, and is one of the
three most powerful forces in today's political
and theological world - the other two being the
similar world views in fundamentalist Islam and
fundamentalist Judaism. The historic "Old-Time
Religion" had nothing to do with Darbism.
A popular writer for the Atlanta Constitution, Samuel White Small was converted from a life of dissipation at a Sam Jones Meeting which he was assigned to cover for that newspaper (here pictured at age thirty-seven in 1888). He immediately distributed a message
over Atlanta inviting all to the steps of Atlanta City Hall where most a most important news item would be announced. There he told of his conversion and of his dedication to sobriety and gospel service. He became very popular with Sam as a co-evangelist. Sam Small was asked (around 1927, when he was seventy-six) to write a mission statement and statement of faith for the new college being built by Bob Jones, Sr. (who then was thirty-nine). Though some
(such as M.R. DeHaan) have pressed for the inclusion of Dispensationalism
in the BJU Mission Statement, not a word has been changed from Sam Small's inscription , written, immediately, upon Bob Jones, Sr.'s request, on the back of an envelope. Hundreds of times a year, that Creed is repeated in the Chapel and Worship
services of Bob Jones University.
Protestant Christianity has lost more in this century than in any period since the 5th Century. And it is because of the prevailing view that history is over. This was a view hated and ridiculed by Sam Jones. It is obviously unlearned and uninformed (who could know, and how could anyone know?); a theory dreamed up (literally) by a sixteen year old girl (Margaret McDonald) in Scotland in the late 1820s and fleshed out by the dynamic, combative, egocentric, indefatigable and devout John Nelson Darby,
a onetime effective soul-winner in Ireland, then,
cultish proselytizer and builder of an
apocalyptic definition of Christianity.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, of London,
widely recognized as the greatest preacher in Christian History,
held a low opinion of John N. Darby and his influence. It is interesting, and extremely remarkable, that Sam Jones credited Spurgeon as his teacher of preaching. Jones read and reread the Fifth Volume of Spurgeon's Sermons (Spurgeon is certainly the most published minister in history -- if we discount the works published about the Great Apostle) and learned how to preach by this study (we can be sure this was not the sole shaping force on Jones, for he lived in an age of the greatest pulpiteers). The remarkable thing, and an indicator of the genius of Jones, is that this great Methodist, in his style
and content, mirrored Spurgeon, the Calvinistic Baptist, not in the least whit. But both spoke directly from the heart. ("Aim at the heart and undermine the head" was the way Bob Jones, Sr. expressed, in his own distinctive style, one of the sayings of Sam Jones.)
And Jones, like Spurgeon, hammered on a single idea across every octave in
his ministry. Alexander Whyte defined preaching as "the transmission of personality, laden with truth," and every effective preacher has demonstrated this axiom. Bob Jones, Sr. was greatly influenced by the knowledge that "one day Sam Jones realized that the pulpit is a throne not a prison--and that day was a turning point in his ministry and life."
Spurgeon's single idea was the beauty of Jesus. Sam Jones's theme was the meanness of sin. "Look to Jesus" the Brit called out; "quit your meanness" the Georgian scolded in a scalding manner. Are any two concepts more needed in any age? And each demands the existence and acceptance of the other. (The distinctive note of Bob Jones's preaching was a very personal relationship--filled with profound love and loyalty-- with a very real Jesus.) Though Sam Jones was, and still is, criticized for not expressing the same emphasis as Spurgeon, the criticism has never been justified. To such a critic, Jones would reply, "Can you name anything that church members need more than a call to quit their meanness?" In every part of
the country, ministers of all denominations forgot their criticisms and eagerly welcomed the holy influence of this righteous man who loved the Bible and the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and preached repentance. Christians repent first. Then the unsaved, in and outside the churches. The great T. DeWitt Talmage, even more eloquent that Spurgeon in his preaching of Grace and Heaven, called upon the plain-spoken boy from the South to preach revival in Brooklyn.
Several months ago (1998) John Townsend and I visited Roselawn, the Jones home in Cartersville. There we met another visitor, a Baptist Evangelist who was conducting a revival in a local church. He was evidently an intense admirer of Sam Jones and his message of repentance and rectitude. He had resigned the pastorate of a large church to emulate the
revivalist ministry of Sam Jones. When we inquired of this evangelist's eschatology, he eagerly espoused the Darbyite line with the sincerest conviction that it was self-evident truth. We did not pursue the subject with this brother, other than to say
that we were of another persuasion in that area.. We could have pointed out, had there been an inquiry, that, although the Scofield
Bible (Darby's most significant, indirect, legacy)
had not yet been printed, Sam Jones was well aware
of its doctrines - doctrines that often produce great zeal - and Sam thoroughly opposed them. The controlling fact, however, is that, with or without knowledge of Dispensationalism, Jones's type of revivalism was, and is, impossible to flow from such a well. "Repent for the End of the World -- or the End of History --or the coming of a New World Order -- is at hand," produces a vastly different effect than, "Quit your meanness and let God empower you to live right until you die; for
after death is the Judgment, and Jesus will not be with you then if you have not let him clean you, transform you and guide you in life." Jones cautioned the careless, who, though professing Christianity, thought that they could approach death with an indifferent and sinful life: "Once in Hell, always in Hell"
was his warning to the careless. He held little hope for death-bed penitents; "Get a stiff upper lip, and face Hell like a man."
Jones's most famous (uncredited) saying was, "The
road to Hell is paved with good intentions".
Can any claim that religion that does no good is any good? That is my summation of Sam Jones, his message and The Old Time Religion.
During the height of Jones work in the final decades of the Nineteenth Century, America welcomed millions of immigrants, mostly Catholic and Jews. Dwight L. Moody, himself an admirer of Jones, ministered to these masses in a remarkable way. Some Evangelicals thought they needed to be opposed in some manner, although they had migrated to America for love. Moody certainly gave love to all. And when Sam Jones was asked why he didn't 'jump on the Catholics,' he replied, "When I get through with the Methodists, it's bedtime."
ON THE VISIT TO CARTERSVILLE mentioned above, we visited the Sam P. Jones Memorial United Methodist Church. When entering the Sanctuary, one is overwhelmed with the blazing colors of the large stained-glass windows. The first one on the north side (congregation's right) is above a plaque noting Mrs. Sam P. Jones as the donor. Mrs. Jones survived her husband by some twenty years and taught a Sunday School class in this church during those years. In her classroom is a favorite chair of Sam's. Both John Townsend and I sat for a few moments in his chair. Mrs. Jones wrote a book about her husband which is available at Roselawn,
two blocks from the church.
The Jones experienced profoundest sorrow with two of their children. In those trying experiences, Mrs. Jones was the stern voice of righteousness and Sam was the broken heart of longsuffering pain. When Sam died at 58, Mrs. Jones excluded the offending children from the home, something not permitted while Sam was alive.
CHRISTIANITY AND MUSIC are inseparable. Sam Jones co-labored with a great musician named Edwin Othello Excell. He has several works in the hymnals.'Since I Have Been Redeemed' is an enduring favorite. Excell was a perfect complement for Jones. He was a great and humble lover of Jesus. And he was music: "The man has swallowed a brass band," was an apt descripton from his admirers. E. O. Excell was two years younger than Jones and died in 1921 while working with Gypsy Smith. How happy and bright Heaven must be with the wit and song of this great team. How blessed Earth would be to have their quality of presence
today. Maybe we do, somewhere.
VERY FEW, IF ANY, will have the intelligence to use wit, sarcasm, scorn, rebuke, invective and ridicule as Sam Jones did. The element so likely to be omitted will be universal sympathetic love. It is remarkable that Bob Jones
Sr. did not try to imitate Sam's personality at all; he learned from him and perpetuated the philosophy of life and religion.
(Bob Jones was nineteen when the hero
died in 1906. Several years later, Bob Jones spent a summer in Cartersville pastoring the Tabernacle, which had been built for Sam's annual home-town meetings, and where Sam's funeral had been conducted.)
(To be Continued)
(Note of plagiarism) This page has been
lifted and posted by others without attribution or
linkage -at least an impolite action.
I have edited this article today, June 20, 2010
and on March 12, 2013).
Sam Jones! that is what we loved to call him while
he was yet with us. That is what we love to call
him now since he is gone. The familiar name—a
household word in all this land we love— meant so
much that was dear and sacred to us. It meant more
than can be known fully by any man who did not
know Sam Jones.
Sam Jones! The name with us stood for a courage
that stood all tests. In its mildest manifestation
that courage amounted to audacity. In its highest
sweep it reached a moral sublimity that it would
not be easy to describe in words. Sam Jones fought
real evils that had strong defenders. He knowingly
roused the wrath of enemies who hated him for his
cause's sake. Every evil thing felt weaker when he
was in the midst.
The coming of Sam Jones always made a stir I It
meant a fight between darkness and light. Sam
Jones in Atlanta, Nashville and elsewhere was like
Paul at Ephesus: the men who sold the whisky,
shuffled the cards, and ran the faro banks in
these American cities acted like the makers of the
shrines of the goddess Diana. They attacked Sam
Jones for the same reason; their craft was in
danger as long as that voice of the man of God was
left free to speak the truth. That voice burnt in
their consciences like fire.
Sam Jones! To us that name stood for a faith like
that described in that precious eleventh chapter
of the Epistle to the Hebrews, telling us of "the
elders who by faith obtained a good report." When
the telegram went from lip to lip in Nashville
saying, "Sam Jones
is dead!" great was the shock in all circles. It
seemed to me almost as if an audible voice
whispered in my inner ear: Another name for that
list of worthies who by faith obtained a good
Sam Jones's faith was the secret of his power. He
had the faith that took Jesus as the way, the
truth, and the life. His faith was choice: the way
was plain, the truth was clear, the life was real.
If Sam Jones ever had doubts, he never carried
them into the pulpit. No, no! he carried them to
God in the secret place, that God who sees in
secret and rewards openly his faithful servants.
If a poor, bewildered, despondent soul came to
hear the gospel as Sam Jones preached it, he felt
the touch of a man with the power of a mighty
faith in God.
Sam Jones spoke the language of certainty in the
pulpit. Conversion as he knew it brought a great
peace to the pardoned soul. Consecration as Sam
Jones knew it and preached meant a complete
self-dedication to God that brought from God a joy
that was divine.
Sam Jones, when he drew the line between the
church and the world, describing the joys that
last in contrast with the things that perish with
the using, had in his testimony the note of
victory from a man who had fought that battle and
won it. That note of certainty in his preaching
was the outcome of an experience that was all his
own. What he had felt and seen with confidence he
Sam Jones did verily possess that power of faith
that produced its fruits as described by the
apostle Paul in Hebrews xi. 23, 24: "Subdued
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained
The victories of Sam Jones were the victories of
faith—the faith that chooses Christ, the faith
that believes Christ, the faith that obeys Christ,
the faith that receives with holy gratitude the
peace, the love, the power that Christ imparts to
the receptive soul.
Sam Jones was so very human that he got close to
all sorts of people. That humanness in him made
his pathos irresistible. Sam Jones was akin to
every one who had known trouble. And that took us
all in, for none have escaped. He was a follower
and an apostle of that Christ who to those that
were able to bear it made sorrow the badge of
discipleship and the door of entrance into the
larger liberty and clearer light promised to those
who are told that if
they suffer with Him here they shall also be
glorified together with Him.
Sam Jones's gospel was a glad gospel. His Savior
was a Savior mighty to save. .
But Sam Jones, it goes without saying, was not
blind to the tragic side of this world whose
mysteries we can not fathom, this world whose
tragedies were deep enough to bring to its rescue
the Son of God, this lost world which He came to
seek and to save. Sam Jones's conception of sin
was bitter; he had felt its sting! He had wrestled
with its mystery; he had groaned under its
intolerable burden. He looked upon sin as the
enemy of God and the destroyer of men. To Sam
Jones Satan was no abstraction or creature of the
imagination, the imaginary head of a shadowy
kingdom of darkness. No, no! The hell against
which Sam Jones warned his hearers he described in
New Testament language. It should not be thought
strange that those warnings, thus expressed, were
so often attended by that strange power of
conviction accompanying New Testament truth
expressed in its own very words. Yes, truly, Sam
Jones believed in a God who hated sin. The lurid
pictures he drew of the sinfulness of sin, and of
the doom of the sinner unrepentant and unpardoned
could not have been drawn in milder colors by an
honest preacher who believed what Sam Jones
professed to believe. He was awfully in earnest,
and that earnestness expressed itself in the
language of the Book itself—and this was a secret
of Sam Jones's power.
But the secret that lay deepest of all is found in
the fact that the Holy Ghost bore witness to the
truth as it is in Jesus, according to His own
promise, and in the use of His own marvelous
methods. To Sam Jones the Pentecostal dispensation
meant the coming of Pentecostal power whenever and
wherever it was invoked under Pentecostal
conditions. Sam Jones was a battery charged, and
trailed directly against the forces of evil. Bless
his brave, true heart 1 His answer to the threats
that were sometimes made against him was usually
expressed in terms of mingled defiance, ridicule
and pity toward those who threatened.
That last element of Sam Jones's power—a pity that
was like the
pity of the pitying Christ for sinners—was the
chief element of his power as an evangelist. That
pity can have but one Source. It can not be
counterfeited successfully. It can not be resisted
by even the coldest and hardest hearts. The
preaching that lacks this pity, whatever else it
may have that might commend it to the carnally
minded, is only a sounding brass, and a tinkling
cymbal. The love of Christ constrained Sam Jones.
That love he expressed mostly in Christ's own way,
reciting to the people in Christ's own words what
He had said, or illustrating His love by Christ's
In one of Sam Jones's evangelistic gatherings
there was usually that which reminded us of New
Testament times and doings. The great crowds, the
tenderness that melted all hearts, the satire that
made sin look so cheap and silly, the methods that
broke over all conventionalities—what came with
Sam Jones was something like what is here
described. It got to be so that where he came at
the call of any community, a great stir of this
sort was looked for, and there was no
disappointment—for God was with him. The notes of
victory in his last battle were still in his ears
when he started to his home in the Georgia hills,
but, as it proved to be, to that home prepared for
him by his Lord up yonder where sin and sorrow can
not enter. To that home Sam Jones had directed
many in the name of his Master. They are together
with Him now.
Among the readers of this chapter those who know
Sam Jones as I did will repeat with me the words
we find in i Corinthians i5: 57: "Thanks be to
God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord
It has been my privilege to know Rev. Sam P. Jones
for a number of years. I first heard him in 1887
when I was a pastor in Albany, N. Y., and he was
conducting meetings with Prof. E. O. Excell at
Round Lake, not far from Saratoga Springs. I heard
him preach a sermon on "All things work together
for good," and I can still repeat the outline, and
remember the sermon as if it were preached
yesterday, and the impression it made upon me. I
came away from that service with one of the most
distinguished preachers in our country, and I
heard him say after he had listened to the same
sermon : "I have heard to-day the greatest
preacher which it has ever been my privilege to
I consider Sam Jones one of the most remarkable
men of his generation. He was peculiarly called to
God to rebuke sin. His wit and his wisdom came
from an inexhaustible source of supply. He was not
always understood. Now that he is gone, however,
the references of all the newspapers to him,
almost without exception, say that he has made his
place in church history, and the followers of
Jesus Christ, not only to-day, but in days to
come, will rise up to call him blessed.
He loved God, as was clearly indicated in his
preaching, and he loved men. Some of the greatest
sermons that have ever been delivered to men
flowed from his lips and rose from the depths of
his heart. God not only gave him wide observation
and a great experience, but he trained him through
trial and suffering to be the man that he was.
And yet I am told that no one knew Mr. Jones until
they had met him in his own household. I have a
vivid picture in my mind now of his being at the
World's Fair at St. Louis with the most of his
family, and it was a constant delight to me to
look across the dining room of the hotel and see
his face wreathed in smiles as he talked with
those whom he loved.
A friend of mine who was recently his guest, says
that he was a veritable priest in his own
household, and that the members of his family
loved him with a passionate devotion. He was as
true as steel, and as honest as the day is long.
He was the most generously paid man on the
platform to-day, and yet he was constantly giving
to those who were in distress. It was his delight
to work beyond his strength that he might have
wherewith to give to those who needed it.
Two of my friends who have labored with him
constantly, each said the same thing, without
knowing that the other said it—"Sam Jones was the
cleanest, whitest and purest man in all this
world." Personally, I thank God that he ever
Tribute By The Rev. A. W. Lamar
The death of Rev. Sam P. Jones was a national
loss. No man who has lived in America has ever
spoken to so many people as he. For thirty years
he went up and down the land preaching civic
righteousness; preaching temperance; preaching
family religion; preaching salvation. He gathered
and held longer greater audiences than any man of
whom history tells. There was a charm to his
wonderful voice; there was a fascination in his
quaint and homely way of putting things; there was
a keen edge to his sarcasm; there was a
spontaniety to his wit that astonished; his
repartee was invincible; his humor disarming; his
reasoning cogent and unanswerable; his philosophy
was deep, underlying even his most trivial
utterances; his eloquence was often sublime and
overpowering. He had the eye of the eagle for
seeing things afar, and the heart of goodness to
love the truth seen. He understood human nature in
all its moods and tenses, and he knew how to play
upon every string of the harp of a thousand
strings. He understood, as few public speakers
understand, the uses of humor and pathos in public
address. For this reason his spiritual surgery
amputated more limbs than any other spiritual
surgeon, and killed fewer patients.
Princely soul! Generous! Gentle! Fearless! Gifted
above the millions of men, yet full of true
humility! Lover of God, and lover of men—will this
earth ever hear again the voice or throb to the
footfall of another like him?
Appreciations From Distinguished
Sam Jones Dead: Hon. John Temple Graves
If the brief, startling message of the morning
wires be verified by later dispatches, Sam Jones,
of Georgia, the most famous evangelist of modern
times, has been gathered swiftly and suddenly
'into reward and rest .
If it be true—and there are few possibilities of
mistake—the end has come as Sam Jones would have
it come. In the full flush of a glorious and
militant life, on the march, in full harness, with
eyes bright, with record clear, with the
conscience clean, with the echoes of applause and
laughter and cheers yet ringing in his ears, the
dauntless evangel, the vital reformer, the
militant preacher, the eloquent orator, the
unequaled humorist, without suffering, without
waiting and without anxiety, answers the instant
roll-call and is dismissed from present service
and promoted to a higher and a nobler sphere.
A brave man physically, Sam Jones was a brave man
morally, and spiritually without fear. The problem
of death had faced him as an imminent issue more
than once during the years of feeble health about
him, and we may be sure there were no coward
tremors and no shrinking back when the death angel
swooped with his sudden summons to the great
tribunal where men must give account.
And the great evangel had small need to fear the
verdict of the Supreme Justice who presided there.
His was a faithful and a
fearless life. He had been true since the
plighting of his faith to Christ. To strike and
spare not, was the motto with which he faced the
sinner. To help and rescue, was the second motto
which redeemed the fearless first. He was as swift
to succor as he was to smite. He was as tender in
healing as he was terrible in arousement. And the
terror of many an awakened sinner had been
softened in the tenderness of a penitent's
forgiven tears. And through terror and through
conscience, through tenderness and tears, he had
fought the Master's fight, he had gathered the
Master's people, and roused and comforted, and
wounded and healed, and in the crowds that
followed him, and in the multitudes which heard
him, as they heard his Master, gladly, he had
justified the commission which had been given him
to preach a real gospel to a dying world.
If in the darkness and loneliness of a night upon
the rushing rail, the brave, bright soul of the
evangelist went out to meet its Maker all alone,
we may be sure that the tears and the tenderness,
the love and the laughter, the fear and the faith,
the hope and the heartfulness of the thousands who
had followed him through life, were crowned by the
"well done" of the Elder Brother who held his hand
as they walked through the last shadows to the
light and beauty of the Father's throne.
BY HON. WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN
"Sam Jones, the famous evangelist, died last week,
and his death removes from the scene of action a
man whose life-work resulted in great and
permanent good to the world. His earnestness, his
evident sincerity and his plain, common-sense way
of putting things, made him a favorite with the
people. No one ever was in doubt as to where Sam
Jones stood on any question confronting the
people, and many of his quaint and blunt sayings
have passed into proverbs.
"Many years ago Sam Jones was engaged in a great
union revival meeting at Plattsburg, Mo. One of
the visiting ministers asked him one day why he
did not use better language and refrain from so
many 'slang' expressions. 'My dear brother,'
replied Mr. Jones,
'I am a fisher of men. I judge the efficacy of my
bait by the results 1 get. When one of your
soft-spoken, namby-pamby little preachers can show
a bigger string of fish than I can I'll try his
kind of bait.'
"For a quarter of a century Sam Jones was a
prominent figure in the pulpit and on the lecture
platform, and if life is measured by what men put
into it, instead of what men get out of it, then
Sam Jones's life was a success.
"Sam Jones had a great mind, directed by a great
heart; an eloquent tongue enlisted on the side of
humanity; a marvelous energy employed for the
improvement of society."
"That was bad about Sam Jones, wasn't it ?" he
asked, meaning, of course, the sudden death of the
great evangelist on a railway car.
No, it was not bad. It was, in many respects, an
ideal departure from this terrible world. He had
lived his brightest day, had done his best
work—and he fell in the midst of his renown,
before the benumbing murmur began to buzz in his
ears, "He is not what he once was."
He had just closed a great series of religious
meetings. For days and days he had been doing the
Master's work, living face to face with the Most
High. Not lecturing for money. No! Preaching the
Gospel of the good life, of the salvation free for
With the benediction on his lips he passed away.
With a prayer in his soul, his great heart ceased
Like the soldier who falls in the battle-line,
after he has fought a good fight and won the
field, so fell Sam Jones.
Bad? No, by the splendor of God! It was a glorious
death, a beautiful death, an enviable death.
The night before he was killed, Caesar heard his
companions discussing the question of what kind of
death was most to be desired. He was busy with
affairs of state, but he paused in his work to
express his opinion of the death which was most to
be desired: "That which is least expected." Next
day he got it .
Think of what was spared to Sam Jones. There was
no heartrending torture of protracted pain. There
was no dreary martyrdom of bedridden sickness. The
wife of his youth was at his side; the infinite
peace of God was in his heart.
What more? There had been no pitiable decay of
intellect, no saddening decline of influence, no
loss of the ear of the world, no dropping away of
Yet he must have known that, if he continued to
live, from year to year, inexorable fate would
drag him nearer the bleak regions of old age
wherein one's joys steadily diminish and one's
sorrows remorselessly multiply.
Bad? No, it was not bad. Providence let him win
success when it was still sweet to the taste, and
then mercifully took him away from the horrors of
that pathetic decay, that appalling process of
going back to childhood—that second childhood
which has all the helplessness of the first, with
nothing to disguise, alleviate or offset its
Did I not see the once lordly Robert Toombs totter
about in the care of a man-servant, too feeble of
mind and body to be trusted to travel alone? Did
not Alexander H. Stephens linger upon the stage
until it gave one the heartache to hear him try to
make a speech ?
Would it not have been a mercy of heaven if the
stroke of paralysis which struck down William H.
Crawford at the height of his fame, and powers,
had stretched him dead? What did it leave of that
greatest of Georgians but a broken mind in a
broken body ?
Ah, give me that beautiful death which saves me
from the unutterable miseries of senility and
God knows there's little enough in life, even at
its best; but the crudest weakness which nature
curses us with is the timorous clinging to life
when there's nothing left to live for.
Marlborough in his dotage—too melancholy to
Dean Swift a driveller and a show—the mind recoils
from the spectacle.
Sir Walter Scott still trying to write when all
the force and fire and creative genius were
gone—pitiful to the last degree.
Napoleon in captivity, fat to unwieldiness,
querulous, vainly beating his broken wings against
the bars of his cage, garrulously holding forth
upon the glories of his past—it is too sad for
words. Better, a thousand times better, had he
died at Waterloo with his face to the front—spur
on heel, blade in hand.
Mozart died beautifully—while they chanted the
Requiem which marked the high-tide of his genius.
Mirabeau died grandly—while he still stood in the
midst of the French people, an Atlas bearing
social order upon his back.
William Pitt died enviably—in the prime of his
strength, while still the uncrowned monarch of
Stonewall Jackson died gloriously—with the praise
of his chief warming his heart, the shouts of
victory gladdening his ears, and the faith of a
Christian robbing death of its sting.
Henry Grady died a lamentable death—for he seemed
to die too soon. His serious life-work seemed just
begun. To be stricken down and consigned to chill
darkness and forgetfulness when his youthful
strength was so abundant, his blood so warm and
eager, his feet so ardent for the march, his arm
so strong for the fight— it seemed a hard,
But Sam Jones was nearing threescore years. The
heat and burden of the day were behind. The best
of his strength was spent. The glory of the
afternoon had come—and the twilight could not be
far away. Better that he should wear out and not
rust out, better that he should fall with his
armor on, victorious to the last, than fret and
pine away amid the shadows of mocking memories.
To me, then, it seems that he died as he would
have chosen to die—in a blaze of glory. Sooner or
later the few, the very few,' who really love us
must weep at our graves—a difference of a few
days, or a few months, will not lessen the sorrow.
Not all the preaching since Adam has made death
other than death; and the grief of those who
survive the beloved dead is a burden which
humanity allows no affectionate soul to escape.
God pity the bereaved wife! God pity the stricken
As to Sam Jones himself, he had lived a great
life, and he met a glorious death. No braver
soldier of the cross ever stormed the
citadel of sin. No uniformed follower of Lee or
Grant ever marched with greater purpose or fought
with greater pluck. Against vice in all its forms,
he brought every weapon known to the armory of
right, and he used them with a force and skill and
tireless energy which made him the most powerful
evangel of Christ that recent history has known.
Brilliant, witty, wise, eloquent, profound in his
knowledge of the human heart, no man ever faced an
audience who could so easily master it.
From laughter to tears, from indifference to
enthusiasm, from levity to intense emotion, he
could lead the multitude at his will. Under his
magnetism and will-power the brazen libertine
blushed for shame, the hardened criminal trembled
in fear, smug respectability saw its shortcomings,
sham Christians forgot to be self-complacent,
social hypocrites fell upon their knees, and the
miser opened his purse.
I met Sam Jones in i879, when he was poor and
unknown. He came, unheralded, to conduct a revival
in our town. I heard him preach a few times,
recognized a genius, and predicted his renown. His
wonderful career, afterwards, was no surprise to
me. Since that day, in i879, when we took each
other by the hand—two poor and unknown young men—I
have been his admirer, his friend, ever glorying
in his rise.
Yet, in all our passing to and fro, we met but
twice in the subsequent twenty-seven years, and
then for a moment only. Now and then we hailed
each other from a distance, through the
newspapers, but we met no more. He moved in his
orbit, I in mine, an each had his work to do. And
now his is done, and well done.
He was the greatest Georgian this generation has
known; the greatest, in some respects, that any
generation has known.
"Duty is the sublimest word in the language," said
Robert E. Lee, himself the flower of Anglo-Saxon
That Sam Jones fell at the post of sacred
duty—died with the Master's message to erring man
fresh from his lips—seems to me beautifully
fitting, superbly appropriate.
Once he said, touchingly, "When all grows dark and
human wisdom failing—and I can not see my way, I
lift my helpless hand, and pray: 'Father, take
Thou my hand.'"
Somehow, somewhere, it must be that heroic souls
find, in better worlds than this, tasks which are
worthy of their diviner gifts. All this, and more,
some day we'll understand. "Father, take Thou my
hand," the loyal soul prayed; and now, in His own
good time, He has taken it.
Softly and Tenderly in
The Sam P Jones
More recently known as
Ryman Auditorium/Grand Old Opry.
Enlarge the screen for great
[packed to capacity when Jones there]
faced by Sam Jones
and E.O. Excell