C. D. Plum
Far be it from me to enter into destructive reminiscing. The purpose of this article is to elicit thought of a helpful nature among the honest folk who may read it. Let us think together on the following:
Why have I been preaching for fortyseven years of my sixty-seven (67) years of life upon this earth? I used to teach school and preach during school vacation. After five years of this I quit the schoolroom for the pulpit. I was kept busy spring, summer, fall, and winter in meeting work. No idle time. (There were not many located preachers then, and year around calls were more than sufficient. I was booked full, three years ahead.) Additions were many in those days, in just about every meeting. Preachers in those days had a new bed about every night.
Preaching the gospel was a soul-saving business to mesaving my souland saving the souls of the obedient. I really felt way down deep in me: "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (I Cor. 9:16). With this conviction I did not reason if I would be kept busy preaching. I did not worry over where the money was coming from to pay off the mortgage on my house, and to feed and clothe my family. By being thrifty we ate, and we were sufficiently clothed, thank God. (Only one time did it come to our ears that we did not dress well enough to preach at a certain place. Incidentally, that place is very liberal today). God has in some way cared for us every year. Our prayer was, even during our many sicknesses, "Dear Father, lead us."
I am not fooling myself in thinking I was alone in such work. I know better. Other preachers, young men with families, launched out about the same time, with the same trust and confidence in God as was mine. Some of them are still living and preaching. They didn't have a college education (and they didn't need one). They were qualified to preach according to 2 Timothy 2:2.
Many of the preachers with whom I labored and loved have gone home, home from this beautiful Ohio valley. God forbid that I purposely miss any one. As I write this I recall the following departed, whose memories linger with me still: "The Moores, McVeys, Pennell, Hutson, Fogle, Cochran, George Butterfield, Herald Bankes, Taylor, Truex (and here you may add any other that due to faulty memory I may have missed). We all labored together peaceably in this beautiful Ohio valley. Some of these were older than I, most of them in fact, and by some of these older preachers we younger ones were baptized.
We preachers enjoyed each other's presence and preaching. At the time I started preaching (and others started about the same time, and are still preaching), WE WERE BOLD TO FACE THE FOE. Brethren wanted preaching straight then. Preachers not only found many homes open to them in these earlier days, but oftentimes our wives were invited too. And in the midst of all this love and joy, there was no question in the minds of these preachers, and no HESITANCY, concerning:
What to Preach
The one church was defended. The independence of each congregation was understood and defended. One set of elders for one church, and not one set of elders for two or more congregations (much less one congregation and one set of elders for 1400 or more congregations, as is in the Herald of Truth set up). We were not bothered with such a thing then. There was no church treasury support of recreation then. No church treasury support for colleges bothered us in the Ohio valley years ago, and very little if any of such support for "homes" or any other human institutions. When I first started to preach I was ignorant of the fact that today such matters would be presented, pressed, and driven to the division of the church as it is today. And what a shame it is so. Not having these things present to fight, we preached against the digressions we knew, like: mechanical instrumental music in worship; missionary societies in the work of the church; church suppers, sales, and shows; dancing; movies; mixed swimming; gambling and drinking. We preached that Christians should live soberly, righteously, and godly.
Then we rejoiced in the W. W. Oteys who led in great debates, and fought for a thus-saith-the-Lord. Often we younger preachers wrote letters to these older preachers, often commending them, often seeking scriptural advice. We were mainly concerned then in giving God the glory in the church (Eph. 3:21). We were encouraging congregational independence; discouraging great combines in religion; and warning against uniting church and state. (Also we should have been warning against uniting church and college, although it was not bothering us in the Ohio valley in those earlier years.) Let this be a warning to yot1 brethren, you brethren who say, "Don't preach on so and so here because it is not bothering us here." Well, maybe it isn't but it may be only two weeks or two years away, and such an attitude as this may have cost the purity of your congregation. . An ounce of prevention is still worth more than a pound of cure.
There is a silence that is deafening from many preachers today, a silence that did not used to be from the pulpit. They used to cry, "Let the church be the church." They used to cry, "if it isn't written it is wrong." They used to cry, "If we can't give you chapter and verse for what we do we'll quit it." Some of the preachers that used to thus cry as mentioned in this paragraph now feebly say, "We have changed, because practice has changed, and besides we don't need chapter and verse for everything we want to do." Could it be this silence is due to trying to save face? Could this silence be due to trying to save meetings? Could the silence be due to the fact some preachers have felt the liberal quarantine? Could it be due to having lost faith in God? Only God knows. I don't know.
It tries one's faith today to stand up, and cry out' like our heart, guided by God's word tells us to do. I know. I've been on the spot. I'm still on the spot. Human strength is not enough in times like these. Some times brethren commend my preaching privately. They tell me how they did enjoy the lesson. But these same brethren (some of them) had a chance while making church announcements to give this sermon public endorsement, which they never did. Why? Only God knows. This is an individual matter between them and their God. It will come out in the judgment, if it isn't cleaned up before the judgment (Eccl. 12:13). Better settle it before the Judgment day. We often lead people astray by our silence. TRUTH UNTAUGHT IS DANGEROUS LIKE FALSEHOOD TAUGHT. Personally, I'd rather be hated for teaching truth, than to he loved for teaching error.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 6, pp. 6-7 March 1966