TAPE NO. 96..........BY: ELLA ROSE MAST
THE CALLING OF DAN MATTHEWS
By: Harold Bell Wright
Written in 1909
Ella:......As I re-read this old book I thought...how this story fits in with the past several tapes. Perhaps we love the writings of our authors of some years ago because they tell us of a more simple Faith than our managed Christianity of today. They speak of the Pride of Race, and the belief in that Pride of Race, and of the Brotherhood of that Race, and the belief that we as a people are to be a blessing to the world we live in without compromising belief in Jesus Christ, our Race and our purpose in earth. And now for the, Calling Of Dan Matthews..........
The main characters in this story are Dan Matthews, Judge Strong, and Old Doc and the Young Doctor, and the lady who won Dan's heart...Hope Farwell. Young Dan Matthews fresh out of theology school comes to Corinth to be the pastor of Memorial Church. In this town lives the old doctor called Doc who has worn himself out caring for the people of this city and the surrounding countryside. Old Doc knew the people, knew their occupations, and how they lived their lives. The Preacher knew what they professed, but old Doc knew what they practiced. Society saw them dressed up, the Doctor saw them in bed, he spent hours in their homes, more than in his own. There was not a skeleton closet in the whole area to which he had not the key.
In Corinth had lived a man called 'The Statesman', and when he died the people had erected an iron monument in the center of the city square. Old Doc always despised this iron monument to his old friend saying it represented what people thought he was supposed to be, but old Doc thought they really never knew his old friend.
On Strong Avenue across from this monument was a 4 room cottage, just opposite the Old Doctors home. Here lived the widow Deborah and her badly crippled son Denny. At one time the husband and father of these two had been the town Marshall, he had been killed in the line of duty. Since that time Denny and his mother had done what they could to make a living. Deborah worked in peoples homes and Denny raised a garden and sold what he and his mother could not eat.
The day came and Young Dan Matthew came to the city as Pastor of their Memorial Church. As a young boy..Dan had met the old Doctor at his favorite fishing hole, and Doc had met his parents and there had began a friendship never broken. Here Old Doc found a father and mother who were credit to the race, and when the time came for Young Dan to go out into the world for more schooling Old Doc hated to see him go. At home Dan had received the simple teaching of the Love of Jesus Christ, the Pride of Race and the hope of making the world a better place in which to live. Old Doc had urged the boys parents to develop the mine in the cave of old Dewey Bald on their property and go with their boy, but they did not want to leave their beloved hills, where they had made their home ever since their marriage. Dan Matthews had grown to be a man here in these hills, and was someone who was to be admired for all his upbringing. Dan was a big young man and Old Doc had hoped he would choose to be a Doctor when his schooling was finished. It was thus a shock to old Doc when he found that Dan had chosen to be a minister. He felt that Dan was seeing things as he hoped they were, but not as they are. He feels that this course will only lead to big problems for young Dan who is such an idealist, but old Doc can now do is just 'stand by' until young Dan needs him. Then the day came when Big Dan was coming to Corinth as the New Pastor for Memorial Church. It was planned that young Dan would eat lunch with his old fishing partner and his wife. It was arranged that he would rent an upstairs room across the street above the little garden where the crippled boy worked each day.
As Old Doc went to the Depot to meet the train, it seemed that most of the town was there also, to get a glimpse of their new minister. Thru the windows of the train they saw a big man talking to a pretty lady, and the big man came off the train and still followed that window waving as the train pulled out. 'Who could that be??'...Was their minister already spoken for? It developed that when asked, that this lady was his mother who was going home, and that stopped the speculation on this score.
Also coming off that train was a young nurse, and they all came up the street...as they approached the little garden, a ruffian was picking on the little crippled boy who soon lay in a crumpled heap on the ground. The nurse raced to the boy but Big Dan picked up the crippled boy and as the nurse and Old Doc followed carried the boy into Doc's home where they cared for him.
Later Old Doc and Dan..after dinner at Doc's home, sat on the porch and talked and talked. Doc realized this was no longer the boy who he had known these many years, now he was 'Reverend'..'Brother Matthews'..the Preacher. And Old Doc wonders how all the affairs ahead of this young man will work out.
It was the young Doctor..Harry, who had sent for a special nurse for the sister of the wife of Judge Strong. This nurse was Hope Farwell, and she had come and would stay in the Strong home until her patient was well. It seems that Judge Strong had inherited his 'Honorary Title' from his father along with his property and his business which was dealing in Real Estate, and also the position of Elder of Memorial Church. Judge Strong was of course very interested in being the dominating figure in that church and he used his money and position to hold that power.
From the very first it seemed that Elder Jordan and Elder Strong were looking for some flaw in this young man who would head their church. They even called him 'on the carpet' for talking to the woman on the train, and were taken back by the knowledge that this was his mother. They understood that he was a boy from the hill..could this lady have been his mother? They even thought the whipping of the bully for abusing the crippled boy was out of place for they thought it not becoming for a minister to do such things. They also said they did not know how the people of the church would think of a minister of their church doing such a thing.
Elder Jordan had done his work well in researching the background of this young minister, and now he asks:..Why does not Dan's parents develop the mine on their property and give of that wealth to the church, so as to train more ministers? Dan replies:...My father and mother have always taught me that in the battle of life one cannot 'HIRE' a substitute; that whatever he volunteers to make his own he must look upon that as his ministry to his Race. I volunteered for this work because I want my life to count for the greatest possible good; and because I feel I can serve men better in the church than any other place. I have been taught that every man or woman is divinely called to his work, if that work is for the good of all men. His faithfulness or unfaithfulness to the call is revealed in his motives that prompt him to choose his field. Yes..I am called to preach the Gospel of Jesus The Christ...(unquote)
After many..'Ahem's', Elder Jordan discussed the past, present and future of Memorial Church and closed by saying:..'I hope Brother Matthews that you are not taken with these new fads and fancies which are turning people from the true worship of God?' Dan's answer was that his desire was to lead people to the true worship of God as laid out by the simple faith, or old Jerusalem Gospel of Jesus the Christ.
In the following weeks the people came to hear Dan preach, the building could scarcely hold the crowd. Elder..Judge Strong with a pious expression on his face occupied his own particular corner. From another corner Elder Jordan also watched, both were looking for false doctrines. The theme of the New Ministers sermons was:..'the Faith of our Fathers', and try as they might they had not as yet found anything to condemn.
One evening as Old Doc sat on his front porch he saw a girl known as Grace Conners come down the street. He had not seen her for sometime, but he remembers that this is the daughter of the man who had killed the father and husband the crippled boy Denny, and his mother Deborah when that husband had been the town Marshall. Grace's father had been sent to prison and Grace then became and outcast in this community thru no fault of her own. Her mother was dead and she lived on what she could make working for people of the community. Then the good folks of the church under prodding of the Elders had decided that Grace should no longer teach in Sunday School since her father was in prison. Then her name was dropped from the church rolls, and now no one any longer called her to work for them. Rumors were soon flying that she was no longer a good girl. However if you studied the situation closely you found that it was because of her character that she was now a 'good girl' with a bad reputation. As Old Doc reached the girl she was kneeling at the foot of the Elder Statesman's statute, and the face she lifted to Old Doc was the saddest he had ever seen. The story finally came out...she could not find work and the only place she had to live was in Old Town, the Negro section of that city. Old Doc took the girl to his front porch then went into the house quietly and packed a basket of food putting a little money in the bottom of the basket. He told the girl that if she was again desperate she was to come to him, or to the new Doctor.
Young Dan Matthews knew nothing about churches except what he had been taught in school and that afternoon while out walking he had met nurse Hope Farwell and had spent quite a challenging afternoon as he tried to obtain her promise to come to church. He was in fact quite shocked at her words as she told him in plain language what she had found wrong with churches. Then seeing the look on the young Ministers face she said:..(quote) 'I am not thinking of the True Church composed of the True Disciples of Christ, this True Church is so far forgotten today that it never enters into any thought of the church today..none at all. She paused and then added deliberately:..This selfish, wasteful, cruel, heartless thing that men have built up around their opinions, and whims, and ambitions, has so come between the people, and the Christianity of The Christ, that they are beginning to question if, indeed, there is anywhere such a thing as the True Church'.
Dan was taken back and said not a word for a while then he asked:..'And the Ministry?'
She answered:...'You asked if the ministry is not a vital part of the church, and your very question expresses conditions clearly..what conception of Christianity is it that makes it possible for us to even think of the ministry as a part of the church? The True Church (spiritual center of the kingdom) is a ministry. There can be no other reason for its existence. But you see we have come to think of the ministry as a part of this great organization that men have created AND NOW CONTROL. In this sense the ministry and the church are inseparable'.
Dan replied:...'I believe, a minister is a servant of God, I believe that what ever work a man does in life he must do as a service to the Race, and in his sense he serves God. To me the ministry is the highest service to which a man may be 'called'. But tell me nurse Farwell, how do you look upon the minister and his work, since you also believe that your work in helping others is a ministry?'
The nurse after remaining silent for a moment spoke:..'To me the minister is the bitterest irony that the mind of our Race ever conceived. The minister cannot serve God first, he can only serve the Church which EMPLOYS a pastor to serve itself. To the churches...Christianity has become a question of fidelity to a church and its creed, and not to the Spirit of The Christ. The minister standing in success in his calling, the amount of his salary, depends upon his devotion to the particular views of the church which 'calls him' and his ability to please those who pay him for pleasing them. There are many good and noble people in the churches, the music, many things make the world a better place, but the ministers are useless, only because they are not free, only because they cannot help themselves. They are valued for their fidelity to other mens standards, never for the worth of their own lives. They are hired to give always the opinion of others, and they are denied the freedom of self-expression. They can have no real fellowship with the servants of the Race for they are set apart by the church not to a ministry but from it. Their very personal influence is less than the influence of other good men because the world accepts it as professional, it is the way they earn their living. There are good men in the ministry..many of them..but whether they wish it or not the fact remains that their MASTERS set them apart.'
As the nurse and the young Pastor parted that afternoon the minister felt he had not held his own in this discussion wherein he had thought to gain a convert to the church. But he had many things to think of for this little nurse had stirred something within him. But the fact remained that he was obedient to those who hired him. And he had already been given this hint of what would happen if he was to preach anything but the standards..so called...Heaven and Hell Salvation.
That evening as the nurse thought over the afternoons conversation she realized that her work here in Corinth would soon be finished, perhaps she should not have spoken as she did to this young minister whom she probably would never see again.
Meanwhile the work of the church went on, the people liked the sermons altho the minister said little about salvation at the end of each sermon which they had grown accustomed to. The Ladies Aid were getting ready for their great sale to raise money for the church, and this meeting would be held in the home of Judge Strong. Dan of course was expected to be there for the business meeting, and when he came they introduced him to nurse Farwell. When Dan suggested they had already meet, the ladies looked at each other wondering where this meeting had taken place, for the nurse never came to church?
As the days drifted by nurse Farwell was preparing to go back to Chicago to her work for Dr. Miles, when Old Doc came asking for her saying there was an emergency over in Old Town. The nurse responded immediately and on the way to Old Town she learned that Grace Conners had tried to commit suicide. The nurse bounded up the stairs in the old building there in Old Town and into the room where Dr. Harry and a black woman were trying to restrain their patient. Without a word nurse Farwell took her place, and the black woman left the room. The nurse then looked around the room, and turning to the Doctor she asked:..'Why is she here?' Dr. Harry tried to explain how this good girl of the race came to have a bad reputation. Nurse Farwell then made a list of things she wanted delivered to her, and she now took over to help this patient. Two hours later a knock came at the door, and there stood old Doc with the things she had ordered plus Roses from his own garden. White material was soon at the windows, a bright cloth on the table and the place began to look different. When the patient awoke, things would seem more like a home. But nurse Farwell was angry, something was very wrong in this city, to force a 'good girl' of the race to want to take her own life. She looked inquiringly at old Doc and he replied:..'look what gossip and innuendoes have done to this girl. The Negroes here in Old Town had tried to help her, but she needed something else, someone of her own race to care'.
The next day as Dan was struggling to put the finishing touches on his sermon entitled:..'The Church Ministry'..his landlady informed him of this attempted suicide over in Old Town. Learning that this girl was at one time a member of his congregation he at once went to old Doc to learn the particulars. His old friend was in a testy mood as he said:..'Go see her, and ask if your church can help her. Tell Miss Farwell that I sent you'.
Dan hurried to Old Town hoping that here would be an opening where he might now win this young nurse to the church. He planned what his church should do to bring this about. Dan then came into the girls room and the nurse placed a chair by the girls bed where she still lay sleeping. Dan's eyes sought nurse Farwell as he asked:..'Will she live?' The Nurse replied: 'If her determination to die is stopped'. The young minister does not understand why she would want to die, surely the church will help her decide to live. Miss Farwell did not spare the young minister, she outlined what had been done to this girl of their own race, until her only 'out' seemed to be to take her own life.
Big Dan sat like a child before this nurse..his face was now white, and with a trembling voice he said:..'But at heart these people are kind, they do not mean to be cruel'. 'Of course they do not mean to be cruel' replied the nurse, 'but that does not affect this situation. The people give so much time, and thought, and love to the church they have no time for a girl like this of their own race. But I suggest that before you present this matter to the church that you find out all the particulars of this case, and then ask the Elders of your church as to what they think the church should do!' These were crude words and the minister rose and hurriedly left, and the nurse was again sorry she had spoken as she did, for he did come to help, and only she knew he would not be allowed to do as he wished.
Dan went straight to Old Doc for the particulars of the story about Grace Conners. Dan had been raised in an atmosphere where no one was made to suffer for the action of birth or family, where all stood and judged upon his own life and living. As old Doc finished the story old Doc realized what this revelation meant to the young minister. Dan walked back to his room and in troubled thought reached out and crushed the manuscript of his sermon...'The Christian Ministry'.
Meanwhile back in Old Town the sick girl finally opened her eyes in that tiny room and looked around in wonder:..'could it be true..someone cares?' She then turned to nurse Farwell and the nurse answered her question:..'Yes I care'..as she looked deep into the girls eyes. The sick girl grabbed her hand and sobbed:..'I am not bad altho people talked and they put me out of the church, and then people wouldn't give me any work, and this was the only place I could find to live, but I was so frightened here that I thought the only thing to do was to end it all'. The nurse calmed her patient by promising to take care of her, and as the sun sank the sick girl slept still clinging to the nurse's hand. Miss Farwell now wonders what to do with this girl when she goes back to the city. No doubt the girl will get well if someone will help while she is ill, but people lose interest as thing progress and the girl is again well...what then?
That evening as Dr. Henry returned to see his patient, he handed nurse Farwell a note. She broke the seal and read:..(quote) 'I have seen Old Doc and he has told me the story of your patient. You were right..I cannot present this matter to my church people. I thank you for caring, but you also must not prevent my own personal ministry. Please use the inclosed for Miss Conners...without mentioning my name. You must not deny me this'. Signed..Dan. The nurse handed the letter to Dr. Henry, and when he had finished reading he agreed..use the money for the girl, but in a week or two when she is well...what then? (unquote)
Old Doc thought the young Pastor of Memorial Church seemed to be walking around like a Zombie, thus old Doc finally took him fishing thinking maybe that would ease his troubled mind. His Sunday sermon had not pleased some, and the others..he could not decide whether they like the sermon or were just being courteous. The fishing trip was a bust, Dan was to preoccupied and they came back that same evening. The next morning bright and early Dan was at work in Denny's garden. Many members thought that Dan should be at work in his study, for they did not pay him to work in someone’s garden but this seemed to ease the mind of the young minister and he often came to the garden to work when he was troubled. But the grave and watchful keepers of the Faith who held themselves responsible to the God they thought they worshiped..for the beliefs of this man they employed, were trying to prove to the world that he was wrong and they were right and they watched this young minister as he showed his interest in this little Catholic family of Denny and his mother, and they watched him work in that garden and they were puzzled as to why he did this. Everybody seemed to admire the young Pastor and they filled his church every service but those who hired him, simply watched.
The young minister seemed almost unconscious of all the interest centered around him, but old Doc knew every word since his wife belonged to the Ladies Aide. He watched the young pastor work in the garden and smiled his approval. Then Miss Farwell and her patient moved into the little home of the widow..and Denny the crippled boy. Thus Dan and the nurse met quite often and they decided to be friends altho nurse Farwell warned that this could not work, for her world and his were so different.
Two weeks later Dan was in the garden as was Denny and nurse Farwell, when the Elders of the church in official capacity came to call on their Pastor. Dan could not tell from their small talk just why they came until Elder Judge Strong threw a flood of light upon the subject as he said:...Brother Matthews, do you not know that this young woman Grace Conners has a mighty bad name in this city, and the other one, the nurse is a stranger here. I would be the last man in the world to cast suspicion upon anyone, but, and he finished with a shake of his head, and an expression of pious doubt on his face which seemed to say he could if he wished tell many dark secrets about Miss Farwell's life. Immediately Dan was on his feet saying:..'I beg your pardon', then remembering who these men were he dropped back into his chair clenching his fists to keep control. The Elders then both stood saying:..'You understand Brother Matthews..the sisters and we also don't believe you mean any harm, but, with your standing in the community you should shun every appearance of evil..We..ahem..we felt it our duty to call and..ahem..to warn you'.
When the overseers of the church were gone the young Pastor sat deep in thought. If he had not known the story of Grace Conners he might have been fooled, as it was, he was stunned by the 'littleness' of this so called kindly warning of these leaders of the church. Finally he realizes that this church is ruled by a ring of men truly as any body politic was ever ruled. And his position in Memorial Church depends upon the 'Bosses' in control. He also realizes that his final success in his 'chosen' profession depends upon the standing given to him in this his first church. Now he understands a bit of what the nurse was trying to tell him. As one standing alone in a wide plain, sees on the distant horizon the threat of a gathering storm, and watching, shudders at the shadow of a passing cloud, pastor Dan Matthews stood with a feeling of loneliness and dread heavy upon him. Dan longed for someone to talk to..but these men who were supposed to help guide the Pastor had just left, and then Dan remembers Old Doc, and he smiled. Dan little dreamed of how much the old Doctor already knew of the Elder's visit, and how much he guessed at the thought of his young friend, seated there in that little room.
Finally Dan went to visit Doctor Harry for the young Doctor and he had become friendly. These two young men had much in common, and after awhile Dr. Harry asked:..'When did they call?'..and both broke into laughter. But seriously Dr. Harry warns Dan that because of 'the system' nurse Farwell will also suffer for helping Grace Conners, and now for living in Mrs. Mulhall's home. The nurse will no longer be able to find work in the homes of the church members. Dan will also suffer because of the friendship with the nurse, and thus will jeopardize his future as a minister. Dan has a hard time accepting this..surely Christianity should not be left in the hands of people so unspeakably blind, so small and mean in their conception of the religion of Jesus The Christ. Dan finally admits that his whole career as a Christian minister depends upon the mere whim of these people moved by such a spirit. No matter what motivates may prompt his course, they still have the power to prevent him doing his work. And if he fails here, since this is one of the strongest churches in the Brotherhood, the name they give him can ruin his life work. The young Doctor warns his friend that he must be very careful as to his friends and his ideas. Dan then asks:..'You mean I must bow to the people of this church..ruled as they are by this spirit..bow as to my lords and masters...that I shall deny my own conscience for theirs; that I shall go about these trivial things they call my pastoral duties, in fear and trembling regardless as to what I feel to be the will of The Christ? Tell me Doctor, why did old Doc explain as to the real condition of the organized church?
Young Dr. Harry smiled and then he replied:..'As a rule it is not a safe thing to attempt to tell a minister these things, but if he had warned you would you have listened?'
The membership of every church may be divided into three different classes; those who are the church, those who belong to the church and who do the work of the church, and those who are but members and who neither are or belong to the church. The young Doctor considered himself a member, he remained in the church and gave his support because he was one of those people who knew no religious life outside the church. Such as he under- stands however that the minister is at the mercy of the lowest minds, and meanest spirits in their congregation, but they never talk about these things because they fear being misunderstood. Young Dr. Harry went ahead telling Dan that he had never voiced his thoughts because he was afraid someone would tell Judge Strong, and they would put him out of the church, and then you are an outcast in our society. However Dr. Harry thought this Godless mockery must end, but how or when the change would come he did not know. There must be a true church somewhere...somehow..but until it comes the imperfect one must keep going for what good it does, and for the Testimony of our Faith.
A troubled Pastor went back to his room, but stopped on the way to tell Miss Farwell that if she continued to stay with Grace Conners the town would turn on her also. And as he talked he noticed that she was taking this warning in the wrong way for the nurse replied:..'Are you advocating the doctrines and policy of the people who are responsible for the 'Wrong Light' rather than the teachings of The Christ? Are you now speaking professionally having forgotten our agreement to leave 'the Pastor on the other side of the fence?' Dan was embarrassed, but asked her not to misunderstand. The nurse rose to her feet..also troubled..for this man disturbed her very much, but she did not see any way for them to be friends much less any way for them to be more than friends. The nurse then spoke:..'Can the Pastor of Memorial Church afford to associate with two women of such doubtful reputations? Really I do understand, and it is not necessary for us to continue this friendship for you have to much at stake in this matter'.
Dan was also now on his feet and he replied:..'Miss Farwell I had hoped that you were beginning to look upon me as a man, not merely as a Pastor, I had hoped that our friendship was growing to be something more than a friendly acquaintance. I don't know about you, but I need Denny's garden, and I need you no matter what people may say'. The nurses face shown with gladness she had sought to conceal for she had only wished for him to understand things clearly. Then both went out to work in Denny's garden, and again the watching Church Elders were not happy.
Next Sunday evenings sermon was entitled 'Fellowship of Service'. This was a reaching out on the part of the Pastor, altho he knew not exactly what for, just a cautious feeling about for a place to set his feet. He was after all a simple country boy who knew little about church organizations especially in the cities, and he felt that he was feeding his flock simple 'Husks' but he wanted to do more, much more. On one hand lay the harder, and less frequented way of truthfulness to himself, and his own convictions. Would he lowering his individual standards of righteousness, wave the banner of his employers, preaching not the things he believed to be the teachings of Jesus The Christ, but the things that he knew would meet the approval of the church rulers, or would he preach the things which his own prayerful judgment told him were needed if this church was to be indeed...the Temple of the Spirit of The Christ.
Here was pitted the teaching of four years in school against the teaching of his home which was tearing this young Pastor apart..and Home won. Old Doc sat and listened to Dan's sermon with interest, but the Elders and ruling class was silent, quiet with uneasy bewilderment. The others were puzzled by the new and unfamiliar note, but their faces expressed a kind of doubtful satisfaction. Only one person however out of that entire audience mentioned the sermon as they greeted their minister at the close of the service. This exception was a big broad shouldered young farmer whom Dan had not met. Elder Strong introduced him as Brother John Gardner..'who had not been in church for a long time'. The Judge continued..'Brother John used to be one of our most active workers, but for some reason he has dropped behind, and I never could understand why'..he continued with his pious, patronizing laugh, and the big farmers face grew red at the Judge's words.
The big Farmer expressed his satisfaction with the sermon, calling it mighty interesting. Then confessed he would not have been in town, but was short of help..now that it was harvest time, and he suggested if Dan heard of anyone wanting work to send them out.
The next morning Dan walked the eight miles out to the farmers home and asked for a job, the only thing he asked was that no one be told he was a preacher, and for this Dan would pitch to the thresher against John himself. The challenge was accepted and the men went to work, and as the day wore on the Stranger forged ahead, and when the last load came in the big Farmer threw down his fork saying:..'I give up' and he held out his hand to Dan. As they went to the barn he drew the minister aside, saying he could not understand why Dan was working here as a common laborer? Dan himself could not explain saying that if only John were a preacher and met by men as men commonly meet the preachers, perhaps he would understand. Dan worked with the threshing crew for three days, and then John took him back to the city, but Dan had enjoyed himself very much.
As the weeks passed, it came to be noticed that there was in the young Pastors eyes, and voice, a great sadness as of one who toils at a hopeless task; as one who suffers for crimes of which he is innocent; of one who fights for a well-loved cause with the certainty of defeat. Winter came and went and with the spring time Memorial Church was looking forward to the great Convention of the Denomination that was to be held in a distant city.
All thru the months following Dan's sermon on 'The Fellowship of Service' the new note continued, dominate in his preaching and indeed in his work. Even his manner in the pulpit changed, all the little formalities, mannerisms, tricks of the trade disappeared as well as the garb of the Clergymen which was discarded for clothing such as worn by the man in the pews. The attitude of the church fathers, and the ruling class were still one of doubt, and suspicion however they could not ignore the success of their minister as their church was forging far to the front. Try as they might they could not find anything unchristian in his teaching. They could not find one simple sentence in his sermons that did not unmistakably harmonize with the teaching and spirit of Jesus The Christ. It was not so much what Dan preached that worried the pillars of the church, it was what he did not preach that made them uneasy. They missed the familiar pious saying and platitudes; the time worn sermon subjects that had been handled by every preacher they had ever sat under. The old path...beaten so hard and plain by the many 'bearers of good tidings'; the safe and sure ground of denominational doctrine, and theological speculation, the familiar long tried type of prayer, even were quietly ignored by this calm eyed broad- shouldered minister, who was often so much in earnest in his preaching that he forgot to talk like a preacher. Unquestionably this young giant was unsafe..this was the thinking of the Elders, as they predicted disaster under their breath, while openly and abroad they boasted of the size of their audiences, and their minister's power. Also these keepers of the Faith never failed to make Dan feel their dissatisfaction. They..by hints, by withholding words of encouragement, by studied coldness made Dan understand that they were not pleased. Every plan for practical Christian work that Dan suggested, and there were many, they coolly refused to endorse, while requesting that he give more attention to the long established activities. Without protest or bitterness Dan in the matter of his sermons yielded to their demands. Never was there a word of harshness or criticism of the church, or people in his sermons; only the firm but gentle insistence upon the great principles of Christ's teaching. Some of his hearers thought this was man was in some way..that which they might have been. some were feeling sadness of regret, others were inspired with hope, and filled with a determination to realize that best part of themselves, but others thought it was a rebuke, and they were filled with anger and envy. Meanwhile the attitude toward Hope Farwell, and the Conners girl did not change; and now Denny and his mother also shared in their displeasure because the girls were staying in their home. Dan did not change his treatment of the friends in the little cottage on the other side of the garden. In spite of constant hints, and insinuations he calmly threw down the gauntlet before the whole scandal loving community. The powers that had put the shadow of pain over the life of Grace Conners now waited and hoped that the minister himself would furnish the motive that would give them cause for action.
It was inevitable by this attitude of the community that Dan and Hope Farwell would move into a closer companionship, driving them to a fuller dependance upon each other. Their respect, confidence, and regard for each other grew, after all they were friends under fire. The nurses profession had trained her with almost perfect control, and she kept her heart under tight reign. In no way did she plan to wreck the profession of her friend, and Dan was not looking ahead to see whither he was bound, such a strange thing is the heart of a man.
Old Doc finally coaxed Dan away for a three day fishing trip, and it was on the first day of their trip that nurse Farwell found Denny's mother in tears. The widow sat in a low chair, her face buried in her apron, swaying back and forth in an agony of grief, her strong form shaking with sobs. Denny with his good hand on his mother's shoulder was trying to console her. The nurse finally was able to calm the mother until she learned what this was all about. It seems that since the minister was out of the city that Judge Strong made his move, and called in the mortgage on the widow's little home. Sufficient time had elapsed he felt for the public to forget the officer who had been killed in the line of duty. Altho the Judge coveted this property in the center of the city, he had been content up unto now to only collect the interest. But since the widow had taken in nurse Farwell and Grace Conners into her home the Judge now saw his opportunity. Now the attitude of the people would be with the Judge. Everything however was done legally since this year Deborah and Denny had not as yet paid the interest due, thus they were told to vacate the next day. Miss Farwell was furious, she inquired where old Doc and Dan would be fishing. She then rented a hack and rode to within a mile of their fishing spot. As she walked to their location she wondered what Dan would think of her coming like this? But she could almost see the twinkle in old Doc's eyes. The men were found and Dan decided to go back to the city with the nurse. Old Doc wrote a check and handed it to Dan saying:..'Use it if need be'. As Dan and Hope came into the city it was dark, and as they came to the Judge's home Dan went into the house and left miss Farwell in the buggy.
That evening at prayer meeting the Judge had prayed mightily asking for everything he could think of for the church, for himself, for the city, and he reminded God that their pastor was absent from his flock..ah..enjoying the beauties of nature..ah..bring him back to his needy people that they might grow strong in the LORD. The Judge, as was expected, commented on the smallness of the company present, declared the need for the Old Jerusalem Gospel, and preaching of the truth, as it is in Jesus Christ. Then scored those who were absent, shirking their duties as the whole world was perishing. Then the Judge went home to spend the rest of the evening with matters of business.
The Judge was thus in the library when he heard the door bell, and his wife directing someone to the library. The Judge looked up to see big Dan Matthews standing before him still in his mud spattered boots. The Judge finally recovered enough to ask Dan to sit down. But there was only one thing on the ministers mind and he said:..'Sir, will you not reconsider and grant Deborah a little more time?' The Judge smiled and replied:..'That would not be considered good business. However how do you consider this matter as coming under your Pastorial duties?' Dan ignored that question and ask:..'Please reconsider...for I will undertake to see that the mortage is paid, if you will give me a little time'. The Judge replied coldly:..'It has been my experience that ministers promises to pay have not been reassuring...and as an Elder of the church I must say that we do not employ you to undertake the payment of other people's debts. The people might not understand your interest in the widow's affairs'.
Dan turned away, and Judge Strong said:..'Don't go yet for there are some things, you being a minister, do not understand. You are making a great mistake'. But Dan had only turned to lock the door of the Library and in three big steps he was again in front of the desk. The Judge tried to laugh but his dry lips made a strange sound, and he made a quick move to jerk open the top drawer of his desk, but as his hand came in contact with the weapon therein..Dan Said:..'Shut the drawer'..and the Judge obeyed. Then altho he threatened to have Dan arrested, still Dan demanded that the Judge write a letter telling the widow there would be more time given before foreclosure. Dan warned that if the Judge wrote the letter then no one would ever know, but if he failed to keep the promise of the letter then he, Dan himself, would see that justice prevailed and everyone would know that the Judge would have robbed that widow of her home and the crippled boy of his garden. The Judge shuddered, but he wrote the letter, and putting it in his pocket, Dan left with the Judge threatening to charge the minister with wrong doing even in that trip thru the evening with Hope Farwell for how else could have the minister known what had transpired that day?
The next evening Judge Strong and wife called on Elder Jordan and the two men held a long conference. Judge Strong was again very concerned with things being said about the Pastor, was concerned with the welfare of the church and on and on. The next morning the crippled boy was marking off rows in his garden, and as the nurse watched the crippled boy enjoying his work she saw Elder Jordan coming..of course to see the Pastor.
Elder Jordan felt that he could talk to Dan in a way that would have been impossible in the presence of Judge Strong. However this was not to be. Dan had grown to love this old church father and he felt that Elder Jordan was a true Christian as far as the claims of his creed would permit. He was tolerant, gentle, kind in all things outside the peculiar doctrine of the founders of his sect. Therefore it was impossible for the minister and this Elder to see life from the same viewpoint. Elder Jordan did not spare his minister this afternoon, and Dan listened quietly out of respect for the old gentleman who sincerely believed he was right. One thing stood out in this conversation..'Dan had been employed to preach what the church considered the most vital truths, but Dan had stepped over the line'. Then the subject turned to Miss Farwell and Dan was told that he must not consider marrying this woman who did not belong to the church, why did she not leave Corinth and take the Conners girl with her? This would solve all their problems...why did not the minister advise this course?
After the Elder had left, Dan went for a walk not knowing that Hope had also gone before him to their favorite spot..Academy Hill. Finding Hope seated there on the grass he dropped down beside her saying:..'I had a caller'. And she replied:..'Yes, I know, and I also had a caller, Miss Jordan while yours was her father, both want you and I to be far apart'. Dan turned to the girl saying:..'Surely you must know that I love you?' 'Yes I know' the girl replied and 'I love you, but there is a wall between us that cannot be crossed. I will not stand in your way of this CALL to the ministry. You love the ministry and you cannot leave it. I will go away and you must fight your battle here alone'. Big Dan could not turn from the church and his chosen work without the same certainty that had led him to it. This Hope Farwell believed, and she looked for him to make the decision that he would stay with his CALLING.
The next day many from the church were going to the Convention and Dan was required to go. Dan was surprised to find that old Doc was going with him, and had already secured lodging at a hotel for them both, thus Dan would not be staying with church folks as was the custom for the ministers. Somehow old Doc knew that this young minister would need a friend at this Convention. And as Judge Strong held many private meetings and seemed to be avoiding him..Dan introduced himself and many would say:..'Yes, I have heard of you at Corinth..please excuse me I must meet a friend', and then they would hurry away. Dan introduced himself to a few who he had noted had their names in church papers, as those with 'broad wisdom' and 'saintly characters'. Some how Dan always felt rebuked for each said when introduced...'Oh!..Yes, I have heard of you Brother Matthews'.
Then Judge Strong without consulting Dan responded as the call came for the minister of Memorial Church to report on the affairs of this church. The Elder regretted to state that while they held regular services and their minister was the most popular minister in the city..still there were not as many 'conversions' as there had been the previous year. Then to Dan's surprise Judge Strong announced..to remedy this there was to be a great revival in their church with a competent Evangelist. Dan listened in amazement since this was the first he had heard of the Revival. Also the Judge announced that the offering for missionary work had fallen short this year but he had taken care of that. He did not however tell them that he had shortened his other contributions so as to make up the difference. But as the Judge sat down the Secretary announced that Judge Strongs personal contribution was larger this year than last, and a great round of applause greeted this announcement.
The young ministers were to be introduced as next event on the program and Dan would not have risen to go forward but old Doc literally pushed him into the isle. On stage Dan towered above all the rest but he was placed at the food line. After all had been announced and had spoken a bit to the audience, the Secretary who was from Memorial Church simply said:..'This is Brother Matthews of our church in Corinth'..then turning back to the audience she said:..'Please turn to Hymn 301'. Dan's face was white as he came back to his seat next to old Doc..and Dan realizes that it was the Elders report that made him 'unsafe', but it seemed that the LORD needed the Judge's influence and money, besides ministers could be hired.
When old Doc and Dan returned to Corinth they found that Hope Farwell and Grace Conners were gone, Hope had returned to Chicago and taken Grace with her. There she enrolled Grace in nursing school. When Dan learned that both girls were gone his big hand gripped the garden fence, but he said not a word. He still did not understand his experience at the Church Convention. He blamed himself for being out of step, for failing to find the key that would put him in tune with this church. With Hope out of his life he turned to his work with grim determination, but this was not to work either for soon there were ugly rumors as to the reason why the pretty nurse left town so hurriedly.
The Evangelist came for the Great Revival. He gave instructions as to how to advertise him, and for the 'working up of the meeting'. Dan tried in every way to carry out all instructions, and the Evangelist when he came was escorted to the Strong home where he was to stay. Night after night Dan heard the Evangelist with harsh words, and startling roughness of expression declare the awful, eternal disaster that would befall every soul that did not accept the peculiar brand of salvation which he and his church offered. Dan listened to the long arguments planned to prove the righteousness of the Evangelist himself, and his Denominational way. As Dan listened and saw the enthusiasm of the Elders, the conviction came that his preaching would never be accepted at Memorial Church. There is no gospel acceptable by any particular church save that churches gospel.
In the secret-meetings, in private with the planning committee Dan had no part. His face grew pale, and strange lines which did not belong to one so young were seen in his face. Old Doc as well as Dr. Harry watched and 'stood by'. Dan then received a letter from a Chicago church asking if Dan would consider a call to that congregation. Dan hesitated in answering...how could he go to another church since he had obviously failed here?
Early the next morning Dan noticed a stranger working in the garden, and he joined him to learn that this was Deborah's brother who had returned for a visit. That afternoon as Dan came home he met this man again but now he was an agitated man. It seems that when he had been here for the funeral of his sister's husband, that he had paid all funeral expenses and had also purchased the little home..with cash..so that his sister and her crippled son would have a home for life. Now he learns that Judge Strong had never delivered the deed as promised, and had even been charging the widow 'Interest' all these years, and would have put them out of their home if not stopped by the young minister. Mr. McGowan was a mad Irishman..and Dan persuaded him to go with him to the bank to confirm that Judge Strong had deposited the $850.00, in gold, the day after the funeral. The banker also produced a deposit slip showing the undertaker had also been paid in gold, both men listed Mr. McGowan as the one who paid them in cash.
Dan thinks he should be the one to confront the Judge for he feared the Irishman's temper. Again Dan found the Judge in his library, and he quietly told his story, and asked the Judge for the deed to the little house and the money for the interest he had charged Deborah thru the years. The Judge stormed, accused Dan of being an imprudent meddler, threatened him with dismissal from the church and went on and on while Dan quietly waited. Then Dan laid before the Judge the evidence from the bank, and now altho the Judge was worried, he still denied the charges. Dan turned to the door saying:..'If by tomorrow noon I do not receive from you the proper papers and a check for the interest on that property you took from Mrs. Mulhall, then we will go to the courts to force you to make restitution'. With that Dan quietly left the Judges home. Judge Strong had thought this brother was a drifter, he might never come back thus here was a way he could acquire the coveted property as well as have that gold. The Judge now thought over Dan's quiet words and he saw his danger.
Next morning Elder Jordan came to Dan and gave him an envelope saying: ..'Poor brother Strong, too bad, too bad, Brother Matthews surely these people will not take any action now that Judge Strong has complied with your request? Could we not keep this a secret between us?' Dan is outraged and here is proof that Elder Judge Strong is a thief..'Is it not true?' Elder Jordan replied:..'Brother Strong may have made a mistake but the church, we must think of the church, coming so soon after the revival too.' Dan then asked:..'Am I to understand the church will keep this man in his place as an Elder, and protect him when you know his true nature?' The other man starred straight ahead and asked:..'Why, how could we get along without him? There is not a man in Corinth who has done more for the church and for the missionary cause.' No! No! we must be more careful what we say Brother Matthews'. For the sake of his contributions and his position in the community, the church will shield him..this Dan could hardly believe but Elder Jordan also seemed to revive quickly when Dan reassured him that the matter would go no further. Then Dan spoke of this letter from the Chicago church and asked for a letter of recommendation, and was told that: 'No, they could not recommend him, they were sorry, but no'. And now Dan knew that they would keep in high office in the church an unrepentant thief...but he was to go.
After Elder Jordan left Dan delivered the deed and money to Deborah and then wandered off down the street deep in thought. His whole sense of justice was outraged. This was not Christianity which had caught him in its snare. But if the church was not Christianity then what was???
Old Doc saw the young minister going down the street and he caught up with his friend, and began to talk to him saying:..Dan remember that there are good people in the church, but good people sometimes manage to live in a mighty sickly church. The best people in the world are sometimes held captive by evil circumstances which their own good intentions have created. The people in the church are the salt of the earth..if it were not for their goodness the system would have fallen in long ago. The church for all its talk does not save the people..no..it is the people who save the church. It is peoples religion to worship an institution, not a God, and to serve a system...not a Race. It is history my boy, every reformation begins with the persecution of the reformer, and ends with the followers of that reformer persecuting those who would lead them another step from their freedom. There is no hatred my boy, so bitter as that hatred born of a religious love; no falsehood so vile as the lie spoken in the defense of truth; no wrong so harmful as the wrong committed in the name of righteousness; no injustice so terrible as the injustice of those who condemn in the name of the Saviour of the world. Dan turned to his old friend and demanded:..'Then what can I do?' Old Doc replied:..'If you think that preaching in the organized church is the only route of your service then go to some little obscure church, get a small audience then grow'.
That afternoon the young farmer had come to Dan asking him to form another church right here in Corinth, many of the people of Memorial Church would follow him, but Dan did not think it would be right to tear this church apart.
That evening Dan gave his final sermon. The last words of this sermon were: ..(quote) 'It is not the spirit of wealth, or learning or of culture which makes the church of value, or a power for good in the world, only the Spirit of Christ can do that. It is not in fidelity to the past, but in fidelity to the present that the church can be Christian. It is not the opinion of man, but the Eternal truths of God that can make it a sacred Holy thing. It is only Holy to the degree that God is in it. Because I believe that God is in everything, that I am from this hour no longer a professional preacher hired by and working under the direction of any Denomination or church leader. This closes my ministry, as I have come to understand it. (unquote) Then as quickly as he could Dan left the church and with old Doc walked back to the Doctors home.
ELLA:......As I re-read this old book I thought of another young minister...Wesley A. Swift who left the Denominational Church Organization because he could not preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in that atmosphere. And yet YAHWEH made a warrior Priest for His Race out of that minister. If today you are expecting a perfect church and perfect people in the congregation you have not been reading prophecy. To learn of the Gospel of the Kingdom, you have to look outside the visible church. The great truths are submerged in the visible church, but this also is the only church that the enemy has been able to penetrate, the true church which is the spiritual center of the kingdom they are not allowed to penetrate.
Now; YAHWEH STILL HAD A PLACE FOR DAN MATTHEWS in His program, and in time Dan would find his way. As Dan left Corinth he went to a friend who had asked about developing the mine on his parents land. There Dan learned how this could be done, with the profit to be used to help the Denny's and such of the Race. Then Dan was ready to go back to the Hills and home. Old Doc had also gone to visit the parents and there he had filled in the story for them as to what had happened to their son. Then Dan came home with his plans and explained to his parents the very thing they had so hoped that he would do from the beginning. This then would be Dan's Ministry..for God moves in mysterious ways.
After dinner that evening Dan went for a walk, as he neared the old 'Look Out' point he caught a glimpse of a figure..had his mother reached here before him, so she had said she would be joining him there, and insisted that he go. As he pushed back the bushes he thought:..'How like...God how like her'...and suddenly the woman turned then sprang to her feet and Dan went stumbling down the hill. It seemed that Dan's mother had contacted Dr. Miles in Chicago and he had sent Hope Farwell to the mountains to nurse a patient...supposedly in the Matthews home. She had been waiting for Dan to come home since she had heard he had left Corinth. Dan and Hope now arm in arm followed the same path that Dan's parents had followed so long ago... they went back to tell his parents that all was now well with their son. Yes, God works in mysterious ways..but for a purpose, for with Hope by his side Dan Matthews would commence his true ministry to his race, and to the world a blessing he would be.
MAY YAHWEH BLESS
ELLA ROSE MAST