Then And Now, Or Progressive Digression
In the year 1896, I rode on horse-back some ten miles to hear your father preach. I was then about twenty. The place of meeting, at or near Cooper, Delta County, Texas. A large tent was used as a place of assembly, and quite a crowd of people was present. To reach there I had to cross Sulphur Bottom, then re-cross to reach home.
In July of that same year I had a letter from Brother John W. Denton of Roxton, in Lamar County, from which I quote: "I am just home from Delta County. Have just closed third meeting assisted by Brother White, viz. — County-line, Hurd County, forty-five (45) additions; Charleston, Delta County, seventeen (17) additions; Union, Delta County, nineteen (19) additions."
In those days an infidel stirred up the religionists in Paris, Texas. The brethren there secured Brother Lawrence W. Scott, a scholarly man, to meet this challenger. While Brother Scott had the truth, he was lacking in drive. The brethren decided, after a few sessions, to change horses, even in the middle of the stream. They went to Roxton for Brother Denton. They found him in the field plowing corn and on first sight they were fearful and down-cast. But after going to the house and preparing himself, Denton came out ready to go with them — bee gum hat, Prince Albert coat, cane in hand, ready for the fray, Suffice it to say he was not long in dispatching the enemy of truth. Brother Scott was the author of a number of books, an old bachelor, rather effeminate in manner. He was a frequent visitor in my father's house in my boyhood days. Brother C. R. Nichol recalls this Paris debate: in his younger days he was associated with Brother Denton in the field.
This story reminds me of one concerning Brother Nichol. He got a call to Mississippi for a debate. It was in a place where no church had been planted. For six days debating and a ten day gospel meeting he was paid the sum of $5.00. But other results there were: fifty-three baptisms, and a church left that still is strong and faithful. In those days "additions" meant "baptisms," not "responses".
These were days before the church became "pastorized". The first "located preacher" in Texas was and is in the memory of some yet living. The preacher was L. S. White, the place Dallas, and the church Pearl and Bryan. The modern located preacher likes to be referred to as "The Minister" or "The Evangelist" — New Testament terms coined into titles by modern users.
The "located preacher" was quite an issue less than a century ago, and was fought like instrumental music and the Missionary Society questions. Brother David Lipscomb stood in opposition, arguing that if men once tasted the comforts of clerical emoluments, they would never be willing to give them up! We see now what a day may bring forth. And were those stalwarts of old still alive, they could say "I told you so." Progress indicates a change; but truth changes not.