Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 29, 1959

Harry S. Ficklin

Robert H. Farish, San Bernardino, California

In March of 1958 Brother Henry S. Ficklin preached at the University Heights church in Lexington, Kentucky. I was living in Lexington and preaching there at that time but was out of town on the Wednesday evening when Brother Ficklin preached. Upon my return the brethren who had heard Brother Ficklin preach told me about the fine lesson and how impressed they were with a brief account which Brother Ficklin gave of the tragic events of that Sunday morning, November 23, 1902, when the liberal element in the church finally captured the Broadway church where McGarvey had served as an elder and preacher for around thirty years. In view of Brother Ficklin's background, I felt that he was peculiarly fitted to write on that period of transition in which the majority of the members of the church exchanged the truth for fables and abandoned the firm ground of a "thus saith the Lord" for the quick sand of that "which seemeth right unto men". The digression so completely captured Lexington that by the early 1930's there were perhaps twenty churches which used an instrument of music in the worship and were affiliated with some sort of "brotherhood organization" for doing the work of the church, while there was no loyal church in Lexington, only a premillethal group. The forces of liberalism and worldliness are again striking at the church of the Lord and in many places are capturing the churches. These sad chapters of the church in Lexington should be told again that no young preacher may have excuse and be able to say, "I didn't know"! At my request Brother Ficklin prepared the series of articles which begins with this issue of the Gospel Guardian.

A few words about Henry S. Ficklin of the Ficklins of Kentucky. The Ficklin name is linked closely with the history of the Blue Grass State. The name Ficklin appears among the earliest settlers of Kentucky. On the honor roll of the brave women, who went to the spring to obtain water, when Bryant Station was surrounded by Indians under the leadership of the renegade, Simon Girty, is found the name, Ficklin. The Ficklin's of Bryant Station were distant relatives of Henry S Ficklin.

Brother Henry S. Ficklin was born at Bethel, Bath county, Kentucky, March 16, 1883. His parents were Thomas and Mary Young Ficklin. His father's high regard for Brother McGarvey was the cause of Henry's entering "Transylvania" and "The College of the Bible" in 1902. Among the outstanding teachers at "Transylvania" and the "College of the Bible" during the time Bro. Ficklin attended were: Thomas Benton Macartney, Alexander Reed Milligan (son of Robert Milligan), and especially I. B. Gruggs and John W. McGarvey. Brother Ficklin preached for digressive churches during the first part of his ministry and only came to realize the enormity of the errors of the digression when he observed the "College of the Bible" move steadily into modernism from the positions of digression. Once the "digressive" attitude toward the scriptures reaches maturity, it is an easy step to modernism.

These articles should be read carefully by every member of the Lord's church. The ruthlessness of those who are set for departure should be observed and thereby the thoughtful will be warned that compromise never contributed to the safety of the church of the Lord. Brother McGarvey opposed the instrument of music in worship but indorsed and promoted the Missionary society. He opposed instrumental music because it was not authorized in the scripture, yet promoted and defended the society which was equally unauthorized. The inconsistency neutralized McGarvey's teaching against the instrument. This same inconsistency is observable in some brethren in our day; many are trying to defend benevolent institutions for doing the work of the church while denying the scripturalness of evangelistic societies. Another inconsistency which mars McGarvey's work was his practice of preaching on occasions where brethren used the instrument. This, too, caused people to lightly regard what he said in opposition to the instrument.

There may be some facts which would require us to pull the mantle of charity over McGarvey's mistakes but there is no valid excuse for those of our day stumbling over the same stone.