Answering Error in Rhyme

By Cecil Willis

(Editor’s Note: Though the following poems have been printed many times in several papers and bulletins, perhaps there are some of our younger readers who have never seen them. Ben Bogard was perhaps the ablest Baptist debater that ever lived. It is said that he debated our brethren about one hundred times. On the other hand, W. Curbs Porter was the ablest negative debater that I ever heard. He was unexcelled in repartee. Perhaps you will enjoy his poetic reply to Baptist Bogard. Some softies of today would think such an exchange undignified. But somehow, those were the days when the Lord’s church grew most rapidly in modern times. Truth never shines more brightly than after it has been through the heat of controversy. – Cecil Willis)

The Preacher’s Coffee by Ben M. Bogard

“I have a pleasant story, which I wish to tell in rhyme,

About a circuit preacher who lived in recent time.

He was a circuit rider for good John Wesley’s brand;

And rode the finest circuit in all the blessed land.

At one of his good charges, some members, not a few,

Became quite sorely troubled about the word `into’.

The Good Book says quite plainly, in Acts in chapter eight,

`They went down into water,’ as Baptist people state.

The preacher preached a sermon of extra zeal and might;

And to his satisfaction, he set the passage right.

`Into’ does not mean `into’, but only `at’ or `nearby’.

They went down to the water and got a small supply.

But near the place of worship, there lived a sister Brown

And for her splendid cooking she’d gained a great renown.

Her yellow-legged chickens, her luscious cakes and pies,

Had often made that preacher roll up his weeping eyes.

And her delicious coffee! In all the circuit round,

The preacher oft admitted, its like could not be found.

So when he preached his sermon with extra power and length

He loved at the Brown’s table to revive his ebbing strength.

But sister Brown was a Baptist, the strongest in the land;

She oft reproved the Methodists for changing God’s command.

She heard the preacher’s sermon, and thought the subject o’re.

Then asked him home for dinner, as she oft had done before.

She ground her good brown coffee, her kettle steaming hot,

And put it ‘at’ or `nearby’ the famous coffee pot.

She poured her guest a cupful (I think it was no sin).

‘But you forgot, dear sister, to put the coffee in.’

‘No, no, dear sir, that’s coffee; I ground a good supply,

And put it ‘at’ the kettle (`into’ is ‘at’ or ‘nearby’).

By the logic of your sermon (I thought it rather thin),

If ‘at’ or ‘nearby’ is ‘into’, I put the coffee IN.

So if you will truly promise, no more such stuff to teach,

I’ll go and make some coffee, in line with Bible speech.

And this time I will follow instructions to the dot,

And put the coffee INTO, not `at’ or `near’ the pot!”

Sequel to the Preacher’s Coffee by W. Curtis Porter

“Just then in stepped a preacher, who wears a Bible name,

The simple name of ‘Christian’ of apostolic fame.

God put into the Bible no human names to wear;

And hence he was contented, the inspired mark to wear.

Then Mrs. Brown he questioned, if surely she’d admit

Whether `into’ had the meaning which she had given it.

She said she would most surely, and who would dare say not.

`No coffee’s in the vessel, till put into the pot.’

Then gently spoke the preacher: ‘Don’t censure preacher Jones;

You have spoken condemnation, to yourself in strongest tones.

No need to hold tradition; such never has sufficed.

The Bible says that baptism puts people INTO Christ.’

‘No, no,’ replied the hostess. `Such preaching is a sin.

Sir, the preacher gives baptism to those already in.’

‘Well, well,’ then spoke the preacher, `it surely gives me fun,

To see this faithful Baptist throw down her Baptist gun.

If ‘into’ has the meaning you have given it at last,

Your shot at circuit riders, has gone into a blast!

Then Phillip and the eunuch went ‘into’ the creek;

For they were ‘in’ already – and had been for a week!

When Christians are invited ‘into’ that heavenly clime,

They’ll really not go ‘into’ – they were in it all the time!

And when the Lord will banish, the wicked ‘into’ hell,

They’ll merely stay ‘in’ pleasures, on earth they love so well.

You thought the coffee `into’ the coffee pot,

But it was `in’ already, and really boiling hot.

Now, Mrs. Brown, please promise, that you’ll not have the gall,

To hit folks with the Bible, unless you take it all.

The Bible says so plainly (to which you have referred),

‘They went down into the water,’ I trust its every word.

It tells us that the righteous go `into’ mansions fair;

It tells us that the wicked go down ‘into’ despair

It tells us just as surely, not only once but twice,

That that which is called ‘baptism,’ puts people `into’ Christ.

Now take it all, dear lady; false preachers you can rout.

Or else just raise the window, and throw the Bible out!”

Truth Magazine XIX: 49, pp. 771-772
October 23, 1975