EDITORIAL -- A Letter of Congratulation

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

James Ware Parrish was born in Garrard County, Kentucky on April 16, 1815. Under the influence of Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, he obeyed the gospel when just twenty-five years of age. Parrish was about four years later added to the Midway congregation, where Pinkerton then preached, and soon thereafter was selected an elder in the Midway church.

The Midway church is perhaps best known for an ignoble incident in its history. It is the first congregation of which we have any historical record to have introduced mechanical instrumental music into its worship. The liberal Dr. L. L. Pinkerton led in this divisive action.

Late in 1850 Parrish paid a visit to Alexander Campbell at his home in Bethany, West Virginia. Parrish was convinced that he did not have long to live, and discussed the matter at length with Campbell. Men were not then so afraid to talk of death as an imminent reality. Soon after his return home, Parrish received the following letter (dated December 11, 1850) from Alexander Campbell. Can you view death as an event worthy of congratulation? If not, you had better reflect upon how you are living. Campbell wrote

"My beloved Brother Parrish:

I congratulate you, standing on the banks of the Jordan, with Canaan and Jerusalem in your horizon; not the earthly but the heavenly rest; not the old, but the new Jerusalem -- the city of the Great King, within whose celestial walls are not only Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- all the true Israel Of God, of all ages and nations, prophets, priests and kings, but, chief of all, and above all, the Glorious Redeemer of Israel, our Immanuel, the High Priest of our religion, and of our faith the Author and Finisher, who for the joy that was set before Him endured for us the Cross, magnified the Law, brought in for us an eternal redemption and has prepared a mansion for you in his Father's house and for all them that love His kingdom and His coming.

How many of the sainted dead will welcome you home from this sinful and polluted earth and congratulate you on your eternal deliverance from all the sorrows and cares and troubles of this school of discipline and multiplied temptations? Having committed yourself, your family and all your friends and brethren to the care and keeping of the Great and Good Shepherd of Israel, you have nothing to fear, for he is faithful to all his promises and covenanted mercies, and will be a father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow, the stay of the orphan and a present help to all that are committed or who commit themselves to His guardianship and guidance.

With the Sweet Psalmist of Israel you may say,

'Yea, though I walk through Death's dark vale,

Yet will I fear no ill,

For Thou are with me and thy rod

And staff will comfort still.

Goodness and mercy all my life

Will surely follow me,

And in God's house forevermore

My dwelling place shall be.'

From Mount Pisgah you have a cheering view of the Promised Land and can say with one of olden time,

'When I ascend where Moses stood

And view the landscape o'er,

Not Jordan's strand,

nor death's cold flood

Can fright me from the shore.'

It would have given me the greatest pleasure to have seen you before your departure and to have bid you a cordial farewell, but I fear I shall not have that pleasure. We shall not, however, be long separated. We hope soon to meet --

'Where congregations ne'er break up,

And Sabbath's never end.'

Cast all your cares upon the Lord and commit all your desires to Him and He will bring them to pass.

My dear wife unites with me in her kind remembrances, and, indeed, congratulates you in the soul-cheering prospect of an abundant entrance into the Everlasting Kingdom of our common Lord, assured that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

I remain, dear brother, yours ever in one Lord, one faith and one hope,


TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 18, pp. 3-4
March 9, 1972