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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
G. W. Hervey,
Taken from The Story of Baptist Missions, 1884
One day, as I was searching in our old family grave-yard for certain dates, I passed the marble slab which had been placed at the head of my grandmother's grave. I had not visited it since I was a wild and thoughtless boy, and remembered not a word of the epitaph that had been cut into it.
I saw that it so inclined to one edge that part of the inscription was buried beneath the sod. I seized a hoe that was lying near, and began to hack away the turf. After a little digging, I brought to light the letter A, and then the word FRIEND; next, OF.
Now my curiosity was fairly awakened, and I eagerly asked myself, A friend of whom, or of what? Presently I exhumed the word MISSIONS. I shall not attempt to describe my delight on making that discovery. I relate the little incident here as illustrating the earnestness of many Christian women, in the beginning of the present century, on the subject of foreign missions.
From her known solicitude about her posterity (she composed and published an elaborate letter on the necessity of personal piety, addressed to her children and grandchildren), I inferred that this inscription was chiseled in the marble in obedience to her death-bed request. I was led back to those days when Christian women were discussing the subject, and taking sides for or against foreign missions; how she resolved, and persevered in her determination to the very brink of Jordan.
Other women, perhaps as excellent, decided in favor of Indian missions; and not a few went with their husbands as missionaries to the Red Men of the West. They toiled and suffered, and some of them died, martyrs to the cause.
Many there were—and History is sorry to record the fact, on principle, opposed to all missions. They have been called by various names of reproach; as, "Hard-shells," "Black-rocks," "Anti-mission Baptists." Never were they exceedingly numerous. We have heard that some of them still survive, but almost all their churches have died a natural death.
"Natural," did I say? Perhaps I should have said very unnatural. One pulpit orator, many years since, stigmatized them as "the fossil remains of Pharaoh's lean bone." This, however, must be said in their favor, that they had the courage of their opinions; while too many give to missions as little as they, yet in total opposition to their avowed belief, and others give much inconsiderately and they know not why.