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First edition, 2001
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) The Anthology of Zion Methodism with an Appendix
(cover) The Anthology of Zion Methodism
Rev. W. H. Davenport, A.M., D.D.
Charlotte, N. C.
A. M. E. Zion Publishing House
Call number Cp287 D24a (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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In this brief work Dr. Davenport is supplying information that is woefully lacking and greatly needed in the Church and Race. The real greatness of a people is to be found in the extent and quality of its literature and art. Great literature and high art have ever eradicated the stigma of racial inferiority. All comparisons rest upon mental attitudes. The demonstration, therefore, of intellectual equality is the basis of the measurement of true greatness. The author is convinced that the Negro possesses those innate qualities that make for literary and artistic creations. The writer, himself a journalist and editor of distinction, feels that the Race is yearning for more and better self-expression--for literary and artistic emancipation.
Dr. Davenport is seriously endeavoring to gather up the literary fragments of his Church and, running these through the alembic of his genius, offer to the world a production essential and inspiring.
This effort is indeed a very worthy beginning, but its success depends upon the interest, appreciation and further effort of the Church itself. One finds in this collection a stimulus for the future and the evidence of real achievement. We commend the lofty purpose and fruitful endeavor of the writer. He rightly observes that the leaders of thought in Church and Race have not accomplished as much as they might have done in the production and publication of literature. His hope is that this volume may add stimulus in this respect. We are in the midst of a thinking and reading Church and Race. The press is already more powerful than the human voice. The Voice of the Press has become the Voice of the People. We must therefore write to be heard and to influence. Without literature the Church must inevitably lose its hold on the masses, and the masses look to the press for their education and guidance.
It will be very evident that this collection has been given
to the public not to dictate opinions, but as an incentive to thought and inquiry. The high estimate of this work will be found largely in the manifestation of the writer's own individuality. I am sure that this work will arouse us to a sense of our poverty in literary production. There is great difficulty in producing such a work as this, and especially within such limits. But by strict economy of phrase the writer has faced this difficulty, and with a large degree of success. His scintillating comments have conveyed an impression of the purpose and results of the works of those of whom he writes. What is remarkable is the absence of literary exaggeration in a work of this sort. Here is brought to the front also Dr. Davenport's acumen for keen analysis that is always pregnant with suggestiveness, and while he is delightfully critical he is also abundantly authoritative.
J. S. NATHANIEL TROSS.
In the preparation of this manuscript I had no thought of its publication in this form. My only aim and wish were to obey the orders of the Bishops and prepare this paper for a chapter in a new and more complete history of the A. M. E. Zion Church. When I read my paper on "The Authors of the Church" at the Centennial of the New York Conference in Mother Zion Church, New York City, August, 1921, many who heard it urged its publication in this form. I claim for it no special merit: I have simply yielded to the urge. The Church has no record of its literary emprise, and I am sending this unpretentious effort on its way to perform what mission it can.
To my devoted mother, who sacrificed and struggled to lift me up, and to my wife, Nena M., who has been the loyal companion of my larger achievements, this volume is affectionately dedicated.
W. H. DAVENPORT.
THE aspirations, tendencies, ideals and attainments of a people are vocalized in their literature. It is the apotheosis of the rarest treasures of their hearts and consciousness. "Its various forms are the result of race peculiarities or of diverse individual temperaments," or political or social situations. "Mankind is instinctively religious, hence sacred books and war songs are everywhere the earliest literary monuments." So that while the lyrics of our fathers in which they rhapsodized the epics of their sires and their Deity have not been extensively reduced to the printed page; yet they constitute our earliest literature which is synchronized with much of the present day music. From rhapsodizing in spiritual songs we turned to give account of ourselves in the best thought reduced to writing. All other forms of our literature followed sequentially in the evolution of our racial life and in the eduction of our denominational distinction.
Tortured with doubt, Bishop Christopher Rush published the "Rise and Progress of the A. M. E. Zion Church" in 1843. This book contains 106 pages, the closing chapters being devoted to "A View of the Subject of Church Government," "Of Infant Baptism" and "A Sketch of the Author's Life," who was born in Craven County, N. C., 1777. It was republished in 1866 by Christopher Rush, Charles William Robinson, Abram Cole and James Simmons. Of this effort the author says in his "Apology for Writing": "Conscious of my inability for so important a work as the following, in consequence of a very limited education, I have no doubt but that there may be many defects found, especially in this age of learning; but as my intention was not to set forth a show of rhetorical flourishes but a concise view of the subject as the nature of things would admit, it is hoped, therefore, should any defects be found that a generous public will make allowance, as the nature of the case may to them seem to demand." In the preface we catch the first glimpse of that unfortunate schism which for more than a century has held Negro Methodists apart. Chafing under the sting of rebuke and
criticism he purposes to show "for the satisfaction of the ministers and members especially, and the public in general that the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in America is founded upon as good a basis as any church in the United States of America." There are but few copies of this valuable book extant.
The second "History of the A. M. E. Zion Church" was written by Bishop John Jamison Moore, York, Pa., 1884. It is a more pretentious volume than its predecessor, loftier in tone and more chaste in diction. It contains accounts of repeated efforts at organic union between the A. M. E. and the A. M. E. Zion Churches. Within its 392 pages there are biographical sketches of our bishops, deceased and living. The history closes with a general statistical table of our Church, a sketch of the establishment of Methodism in America in 1760, and with the minutes of the General Conferences of the A. M. E. Zion Church in America.
By Bishop James Walker Hood, D.D., L.L.D.
There had been in interregnum of 47 years since the organization of the Church in 1796 before the appearance of Rush's History; forty-one years intervened before Moore published his history, but only twelve years had passed when Hood published the most ambitious history in the annals of the Church. Like Rush he was peeved at the differences which estranged Negro Methodists. And if he betrays bitterness in its earlier pages it was not that he felt so strongly against Bethel but that he loved Zion best The book is freely illustrated and is noted mainly for the exhaustive discussion of the topics the author has in hand and the liberal space he devotes to biographical sketches. The book is an authority on Zion Methodism. He also wrote "Hood's Golden Anniversary and Brief History."
Rules for the government of the Church are coexistent with its history. George Collins, who was one of the original nine trustees of the Church and Secretary of the Trustee Board, edited the first Discipline. Bishop S. T. Jones wrote a "Hand Book on Discipline" which was frequently quoted in that discursive period. Bishop J. B. Smalls' "Code on Discipline, Methodist Polity and Government"
was a painstaking and well conceived effort and won the praise of churchmen and critics wherever it circulated.
Rev. J. B. Colbert, A.M., LLB., D.D., the first President of the Varick Christian Endeavor Society, wrote of "The Origin and Progress of the Christian Endeavor Movement in the World and in the A. M. E. Zion Church in America." The first charter granted by the society of which he was president was to the State Street A. M. E. Zion Church, Mobile, Ala., W. H. Davenport, Pastor. This book was brimful of Christian Endeavor history and had a wide circulation.
Rev. J. Harvey Anderson, D.D., Ph.D.
For years the statistics of the Church were unavailable. Those that were available were disputed. It devolved upon the author to compile the statistics and assemble such other information as might be helpful. The reader of the book will be amply repaid for the time spent in its perusal. The Religious Census Bureau of the United States used it as a reference book.
The writers of the Church have not taken seriously to biographical productions. The proverbial modesty and the extreme caution and conservatism of Zion ministers and members have prevented the development of this kind of literature. The first biographical sketch of record is "The History of the Life of Bishop J. Loguen and the Anti-Slavery Movement; My Bondage and Freedom." Bishop Loguen was the Underground Railroad King with the center of his activities around Wilkes-Barre, Binghamton, Rochester, Saratoga and Syracuse, his home city.
The "History of the Colored People of Louisville, Ky.," by H. C. Weeden, was published in 1879. This production was briefly commented upon by all the great dailies of Louisville, and thousands of copies were purchased by the white people of that city. Dr. Weeden is a compiler of statistics and a journalist.
"The Quarterly Almanac" (1894) was the work of John C. Dancy, LLD., an eminent layman and politician. It was the second almanac published by a member of the race--Benjamin Banneker publishing the first--and contained, besides astrological observations, many items of historic
interest. This almanac should be preserved for its historic value.
Fred Douglass, local preacher in Zion, an eminent Negro leader, associated with Charles Sumner, Lovejoy and Garrison and Henry Ward Beecher in the Abolition movement, wrote the story of his life which records his dramatic escape from slavery, his subsequent activities, and a number of his principal addresses.
"The Negro and Cushite," by Rev. J. C. Palmer, is an eloquent and scholarly production, disclosing extensive research.
"The Biography of Bishop S. T. Jones by Rev. J. W. Smith" is a faithful account of the arduous struggles which this man of the slave period had in equipping himself for life's battles. It tells how he became a preacher, an orator, bishop, and one of the most powerful minds in the Republic.
"The Varick Family," by B. F. Wheeler, is a little book of 58 pages. It will be remembered that James Varick was the first bishop of the A. M. E. Zion Church, which was founded in 1796 in New York City. The genealogy of the Varick family was shrouded in mystery--the descendants so little known and heard of that the memory of Varick was degenerating into the traditional. The author says: "I have put myself to great pains to gather facts for this little book. I felt if it were not attempted soon the last link connecting the present generation with primitive Zion Methodists would be broken." Dr. Wheeler did the Negroes great service in the preparation and publishing of this book.
The Autobiography of Rev. William J. Moore, D.D., is interesting from cover to cover. Zion Methodism had its inception in the South in New Bern, N. C. Eliza Gardner, Mary Anderson and others of the Daughters of Conference of New England raised money to send Rev. J. W. Hood to the South. Shortly after his arrival he and Moore met and there began a friendship between them which was beautiful in its sincerity and purity. The early struggles of Moore's life are intimately connected with the early struggles of Zion Methodism in North Carolina. The book is not cast in a high literary mold, but is a rugged and straightforward statement of a religious frontiersman and pioneer.
"My Life and Work" (1917), by Bishop Alexander Walters, is thus described by John Edward Bruce, also an author of note and Bishop Walters' friend: "There is not a dull page in this book, as any one acquainted with the Bishop might know on seeing his name as author, for he is not a dull nor uninteresting man to talk with or read
after. He has the happy faculty of holding one's attention whether in private conversation or preaching a sermon or communicating his views thru the press. * * * He has wrought exceedingly well." Bishop Walters was a great protagonist of human rights and was universally revered. His rise to eminence as revealed in his book was as rapid as it was distinguished.
"My Trip to Europe," by Bishop J. W. Alstork, is not so well known, but it was written in racy style and altogether readable. It has its serious side, but its dramatic and humorous settings disclose the real character of the author. It grips the attention of the reader from the beginning.
Reminiscences of Slavery," Biography and Underground Railroad, by Harriet Tubman, affectionately known as "Aunt Harriet." In the perusal of this book one relives the life of that dark and troublous period. In simple but thrilling style the tragedy of her life is told.
"Reminiscences of College Days," W. F. Fonvielle, A.B., A.M., 1904, was published ten years after his graduation. It contains much of the early history of Livingstone College and the men who made it. The introduction was written by S. G. Atkins who says: "These reminiscences really remember and are in this respect especially true to their purposes as well as very satisfying and entertaining." The book contains twenty-three chapters and is very popular among those interested in Livingstone College. Mr. Fonvielle also wrote "My Livingstone," the college song; "The Taint of the Bicycle," which was a useless protest against women riding that form of vehicle; "A Trip to Mars," which the reviewer could not enjoy; "Moments of Leisure" and "Let's Go Away."
Rev. W. H. Ferris, A.B., Harvard, a many-sided genius, lecturer, writer, preacher. In his "History of the Negro, and the African Abroad," published in New Haven, Conn., 1913, by the Butler, Moorehouse & Taylor Publishing Company. Professor Ferris has traced the story of the Black Man from the dawn of civilization. He has delved into the writings of historians and ethnologists from Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo and Lucian to Peschel, Sergi, Ripley and Keane, and has shown that the Negro is a branch of the Mediterranean race, of which the Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians and early settlers in Greece and Italy were offshots, and that thousands of years ago this gifted race overran Europe and Africa. He has shown that the Ethiopians, who centuries ago on the Isle of Meroe built arches, monuments temples, and pyramids of rare architectural
beauty, which were afterward the models of those colossal structures of Egypt which have dazzled the eyes of mankind were a mixed race, a blending of Caucasian, Hamite, Semite and Negro blood with the Negro strain predominating.
Biographical sketches of delegates to General Conferences have been written by J. H. Anderson, 1908, 1912. Souvenir Volume Biographical sketch of 250 members; Biography of Delegates, 1916, by J. B. Colbert. The last of this character of productions was by Jacob Powell--"Bird's Eye View of the 1916 General Conference," with observations on the progress of the colored people of Louisville, Kentucky, and a history of the movement looking toward the elevation of Rev. Benjamin W. Swain to the bishopric in 1920.
Of catechisms we note Rev. R. R. Morris who prepared a juvenile catechism. The Catechism of Bishop John J. Moore was rather doctrinal and unsuited to the purpose for which it was intended. The Historical and Doctrinal Catechism of Bishop C. R. Harris was very helpful in the Sunday Schools and Churches, and had great popularity. It was translated into Spanish. Rev. R. H. Carroll, 1920, Historical and Doctrinal Catechism, is said by his reviewers to have published the most complete catechism produced in the 129 years of the denomination's existence.
"New Method Question Book on the Four Gospels or Consecutive Questions Answered in Scripture Language" was published by Eaton & Mains, New York City, Rev. W. H. Newby, author. Its purpose is to furnish in concise and comprehensive form a general knowledge of the contents of the four Gospels. The questions are consecutive and correlated, and are so framed as to be answered fully in the simple words of Scripture.
As was said in the beginning of this booklet, the religious note is the dominant element in the literature of all primitive races. Much of song and story has been lost for lack of means to publish them. Mrs. Mary J. Small, widow of Bishop Small, has a sufficient number of the poems of the Bishop to make a creditable volume, among which is that beautiful poem, "Precious Fountain." "The Practical and Exegetical Pulpiteer" was the first book of its kind to be
published by our authors. Its versatility and wide range of subjects made it a valuable addition to the minister's library. The author was not quite so fortunate in the "Human Heart Illustrated." Its similarity to Lofton's character sketches detracted from its value.
"The Plan of the Apocalypse," by Bishop J. W. Hood, deals with that troublous and unsatisfying book, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine." Notwithstanding its transitory office early Christianity has a special fondness for apocalyptic literature. Hood's method of interpretation was partly chiliastic and partly traditional-historical. The commonplaceness of his theme increased the difficulties of original thinking, although it is written in clear and cogent style. He was also the author of "The Negro in the Christian Pulpit."
"Sermons of Bishop S. T. Jones," by Rev. J. W. Smith, have not had the circulation they merited. Lofty and sustained in style, as well as rich in the quality of its matter and the depth of its thought, many would do well to commune with the author.
"The Prophets and Their Sermons," by Rev. W. D. Speights, a little pamphlet in which the prophets in their order are discussed with brevity and succintness.
"The Christian Sabbath versus the Jewish Sabbath," by Rev. S. D. Conrad, is a readable little pamphlet and is useful in controverting the absurd claims of Seventh-Day Adventists.
"The Model Homestead," 1892, by Rev. George L. Blackwell (now bishop), was a striking departure from the beaten exegetical paths in the discussion of the Prodigal Son. Upon a perusal of this volume one is impressed with its daring and originality, its practical suggestions as well as its homiletic perfection.
"Science and Religion, or the Hand Maid to the Bible, Genesis Simplified," is the lengthy title of a pretentious book by W. W. Evans, whose analytical and critical instinct has served him to good purpose in this volume. The book deals with the seven days of creation from a geological viewpoint, the creation and origin of man by God, the Garden of Eden from a psychological viewpoint, the Fall of Man, sacrifice, evolution correctly interpreted according to the author's mind, and ending with the migration of the Jews to Egypt. The originality of the book has made it widely sought after.
"Colored People in Bible History" is the title of an interesting volume published by Rev. R. A. Morrissey, D.D.
He discusses the ancestors of the colored race, but is confronted with the difficulty of presenting much that is new on that phase of the subject. Egypt and Africa is a stirring chapter, and the "Friendly Relations of the Colored and White Races," if not convincing, is deeply interesting, while "Outstanding Colored People of the Bible" will add to its popularity among certain groups.
In 1898 Bishop Josiah S. Caldwell published a book of "Sermons," the choicest offerings of a long and successful pastorate. He has had but few equals in presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom in its clearness, sweetness and simplicity. The charm of his sermons and their value lay in their power to touch the hearts and convince the souls of men. Evangelical in their character, these sermons make good revival material.
"Christianity Under the Searchlight," by Bishop George W. Clinton, was a model of eloquent deliverance, and easily stamped the author among the foremost preachers of the country. "The Three Alarm Cries" was widely read.
Not much is known of the sermons and addresses of Bishop Jehn Holliday, a stirring gospel preacher of the early post Civil War period.
The "Solid Shot" (Sermons) of William H. Sherwood were designed for evangelistic service and this dramatic preacher used them to good effect. He also produced a book of songs entitled "The Harp of Zion." In this class of evangelists may be included Rev. Julia A. Foote who was a burning light in Zion. "Brands Plucked from the Burning" have given her a permanent place in our literature. While partly autobiographic yet the religious note is deeply sounded.
"Divine Election under the Old and New Dispensation and Divine Personal Election to Salvation" was published by Dr. John H. Love in 1898, and is noted for its vigorous statements and for the exhibition of the author's sturdy and independent character as well as the forceful elucidation of his theme.
"The Meaning of Education"--A systematic exposition of the place, scope and method of modern education. The Need for a Conscious Development of Education from the Religious, Ethical, Civic and Social Standpoints--Education as a Means Toward the Attainment of Higher Social Utilities--The Specific Work of Education--The Civilizing
Influence of Education--The Teacher--His Mission--The Aim of Moral Education.
"The Meaning of Truth"--Its Agreement with Reality--Its Place in Experience--Its Endurance--Its Growth--Pragmatic Value.
"The Voice of Ethiopia," a small book of poems. The concluding poem, "The Voice of Ethiopia," in an appeal to United States of America for racial justice, ends with this stanza:
" 'Tis not the mighty tramp of armed hosts,
Thy prancing steeds, thy mighty cannon's roar;
'Tis not thy wondrous wealth shall tell thy pow'r,
But Christ-like love; 'tis this, and nothing more."
"Science and Religion"--A brief discussion from the evolutionary standpoint--The Test of the Hour--Science and Religion--The Solar System--The Geocentric and Heliocentric Theories--Newton's Law of Gravitation--The Antiquity of Man--The Fact of Evolution--The Meaning of Evolution--The Method of Evolution--The Church and the Religious Need.
The whole discussion is an attempt to show the relation between Science and Religion.
Works to be published in the early fall, 1925: "An Outline of Early Greek Philosophy," "The Challenge of the Hour," by J. S. Nathaniel Tross.
In 1903 the Rev. H. W. Smith published "Zion's Gospel Hymn Book." This book contains 150 original hymns, followed by the ritual of our church, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, with Order for Service.
"Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures" and "What of the Negro Race," B. J. Bolding, author. "What of the Negro Race" was written in reply to Rev. C. H. Haskell, a white Lutheran minister, who claimed the Negro had no soul. The book created a great sensation.
It is problematical whether the muse translates aright the deepest breathings of the race when it sings its lyrics in dialectic iambics. William Dean Howell gave Dunbar great prominence as a writer of dialectic verse, the language of a vanishing race. However, this form of verse has been popularized, and Rev. J. Francis Lee, who is also the author of a vest pocket Commentary on the Sunday School Lessons, asks the nation in defiant verse:
"What You Gwine to Do With Ham?" The author realizes that in the adjustment of our national and civic problems "Ham" cannot be eliminated. "The Prince in Ebony" and "Discord in Harmony" rank high as literature.
For thrills, oratory, thought, gems of eloquence "Glimpses of Memory," by W. J. Walls, now bishop, occupies a unique place. But by far the most interesting chapter in the book is "Reminiscences and Pastorates" in which the author gives a graphic account of his humble beginnings, his hardships and struggles. The reading of the chapter makes one envy his humble beginnings, as there is prophecy in every line of future eminence.
"The Awakening of Zion: The Unfolding of the A. M. E. Zion Church in Picture, Song and Story," is a thrilling series of pictures accompanied by music and dialogue by Miss Mary L. Mason, Washington, D. C. Of the production the author says: "This pageant has been written because of a desire to present the main facts in the remarkable story in the growth and development of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in such a way as to make them alive to the popular mind and to make the high points in this evolution of a church impressive to the humblest and most untutored." This is the first attempt at the interpretation of the spirit which prompted the organization of Zion Methodism in America.
"Cullings from Zion's Poets," by B. F. Wheeler, evidences the poetic capacity of the race and the popularity of the book is its own reward. The contributions from various authors assure it a permanent place in our literature.
"Lines Lyrique," by Jean Willa Holmes, copyright 1924, 67 pages, is a charming exhibition of poetic grace, and is convincing proof that one does not have to go to Harvard or Columbia, or dwell in the atmosphere of New York to sing to the Muse. One senses the onrushing storm, shrieking winds and the crash of tall timbers when he reads:
"Russet leaves of autumn blowing,
Threatening cloud-banks rising, growing,
Mad waves dashing, foaming, crashing,
Usher forth the storm.
Fall reeds prostrate, trees low bending,
Howling winds their terror lending,
Cold rain drenching, sea gulls flinching--
Thunder scares the morn."
T. Thomas Fortune, veteran editor and publicist, wrote "Is the White South Civilized?" and other books. John E. Bruce (Bruce Grit), journalist and scholar, is the author of "The Negro in War and History." The fidelity of Mr. Bruce to his race gleams in every line and the historicity of his narrative is fully sustained.
Dr. James Ed. Mason has written interesting pamphlets on various subjects.
Rev. E. U. A. Brooks has written a number of poems, the title of which the reviewer has not been able to establish.
J. D. Corrothers was the author of poems and stories. His soul was afire. He felt keenly. He was an idealist, and he was sensitive. He was a genius nevertheless, but his impracticable idealism made him wretched and solitary and he passed away in the prime of his life unwept.
"Poems of the Nineteenth Century," by Rev. R. D. Davis of Alabama, were original in their conception and popular in the locality of their production.
"Thoughts for True Americans" was published by Richard E. S. Toomey in 1891. Paul Lawrence Dunbar, in his introduction to the book, says: "It is the poet's business to speak in the midst of din and tell the message he has for the world." This Mr. Toomey, who is a native of Tennessee, has done. His "Ode to Columbia" is his masterpiece. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts pays the following tribute: "Your Ode to Columbia" is beautiful. The positions you take are sound, the execution is excellent." Mr. Toomey's wife is the first girl child born in Miami, Florida.
"The Tipping System" was repulsive to Rev. Polk K. Fonvielle, A.B., S.T.B., and he denounced it in his book. How much the reaction against the unethical practice of tipping was influenced by the author's book is not known, but it is obvious the practice is growing into universal disfavor.
Rev. B. J. Judd published a certificate of baptism, Rev. L. Bragg Anthony a tithing device, Rev. Florence Randolph has written three very interesting and entertaining tracts: "Martha's Rag Bag," "Systematic and Proportionate Giving," and "How Much Do I Owe the Cause of Missions?"
Dr. W. R. Lovell published in 1921 "Lyrics of Love and
Other Poems," which met with instant popularity, the first edition being exhausted in a very short time. He is writing a pastoral novel, "The Awakening of Walton Stokes." "Cynthia's Sacrifice" is different in style and plot from "The Awakening of Walton Stokes," but both are gripping stories throughout.
Prof. Herbert S. Scurlock, Livingstone College, 1895, professor in chemistry, published in 1902 a copyrighted volume, cloth bound, on General Chemistry. This little volume had some success, especially as a text-book for beginners in the study of this science. In 1915 he published a copyrighted cloth bound volume on the subject of Quantitative Chemical Analysis. This book was used in the School of Medicine of Howard University, also in other departments of the university. Some of the most extensive book houses of the country sent in orders for it. The Literary Digest gave liberal space in commendation of these books.
The Missionary Department of the Church lacked system and aggressiveness for many years. Mrs. Annie W. Blackwell's "Direction for Conducting Missionary Societies" was the book for which the workers yearned. The scientific reduction of the work to a system has increased the resources of the department a thousand fold. In giving the Church this book Mrs. Blackwell rendered a great service.
J. W. Eichelberger, A.B., A.M., has given us "The District Superintendent." This book bubbles over with Sunday School enthusiasm, Sunday School methods, Sunday School information, Sunday School suggestions. It is worth reading. It was followed by "The District Sunday School Convention," 1921. It states its aims as follows: "To win every available member of the community to the Sunday School. To win the members of the Sunday School to Christ and the Church; to instruct and train them for intelligent and effective Christian living and to enlist them in definite Christian service."
Comprehended within the scope of this chapter may be included periodicals and magazines. The A. M. E. Zion Church has never lacked in journalistic talent, nor in that spirit of enterprise which would promote a journalistic venture. The reasons for these ventures are as various as the personalities undertaking them. It may be said, however,
that some of the newspapers by their very nomenclature were sectional in their impulses and aims. Some were an expression of a desire for a more personal freedom. Some were protests against what the authors conceived to be censorship and restrictions in the official press of the denomination, while still others were organs of schools and parishes or cliques, or exponents of certain dogmas or doctrines. Standing out prominently in this latter group was the "Zion Trumpet," promoted and edited by Rev. E. George Biddle, D.D., of Cambridge, Mass. Sanctification was its theme; and it expounded its theme with vigor and fidelity in the face of satire and ridicule from those who did not embrace its mission. It was an edifying publication. Rev. William Howard Day, D.D., a polished scholar and finished orator, with Rev. John E. Price, D.D., edited the "Zion Church Herald and Outlook," which was the first Zion paper ever published. Among the other papers was "The Voice of the People," edited by Rev. J. Harvey Anderson, the connecting link between the old and new dispensation of Zion Methodists. Rev. George W. Clinton, who afterwards became bishop, founded "The Quarterly Review" in 1890. It is a homiletic magazine which has continually grown in magnitude and favor and serves well its object.
Other papers and magazines: "The Living-Stone," 1889, organ of Livingstone College, Salisbury, N. C., the chief denominational school, was founded by Rev. Joseph C. Price, D.D., and Prof. Simon G. Atkins. Its first editors were: B. A. Johnson, Louisville, Ky.; Mendell V. Jones, Worcester, Mass.; Miss Jennie Jones, Washington, D. C., the daughter of Bishop S. T. Jones; W. F. Fonvielle, Business Manager.
"The Missionary Seer," Bishop J. W. Small, founder, the organ of the Missionary Society in the Church, is well edited and contains valuable information concerning missions. The A. M. E. "Zion Herald," a tri-weekly, Rev. A. J. Warner, D.D. "The Industrial Herald," a monthly by Rev. R. J. Crookett, A.M.; "The Varick Christian Endeavor," Rev. J. B. Colbert, D.D.; "The Church Observer," Mobile, Ala., Revs. W. H. Davenport, D.D., R. A. Morrissey, D.D.; "Alabama Headlight," Rev. J. C. Jackson; "The Living Present," Rev. T. A. Wallace, D.D.; "The Church Observer," Jacksonville, Florida, Rev. J. W. Carter, D.D.; "The Brotherhood and Missionary Link," Rev. J. H. Manley, D.D.; "Walters Institute (Warren, Ark.) Bulletin," Rev. W. H. Davenport, D.D., Prof. J. W. Eichelberger;
"The Zion Messenger," Rev. George C. Clement, D.D. Other papers were promoted by E. D. W. Jones, D.D., Rev. W. I. Blackwell, D.D., J. W. Smith, W. A. Ely, Aaron Brown, R. C. O. Benjamin, H. W. Smith, H. C. VanBuren, J. W. Crockett, Ed. E. Jackson.
Mr. W. H. Green, a layman and wealthy insurance worker, conducted the Charlotte (N. C.) "Gazette"; Oscar J. W. Adams, A.B., Birmingham, Ala., one of the most useful and aggressive laymen in the denomination, conducts "The Birmingham Reporter," a weekly of large circulation and influence.
"The Western Star of Zion," Rev. C. W. P. Mitchell, D.D., editor, was published at Little Rock, Ark. This journal had a stormy career. Adopted in one General Conference with Rev. T. A. Wallace, D.D., editor, to be rejected and neglected by another, it was left stranded upon the beach of journalism. C. W. P. Mitchell, a determined and positive character of the West, resurrected it in the interest of the West and kept its flickering light a-burning.
There may be other authors of whom we are not aware, but Ella Wheeler Wilcox's "Problem" will illustrate the experiences and purposes of black men and women:
Under the above caption "The Charlotte Observer," in its issue of January 27, 1925, discussed our Bishop's Message to the Country. The character of its reply upon careful reading would indicate that the Observer is leading the white folks astray as to the attitude of our bishops on matters political. It cannot be said "in mitigation" of their attitude that "these bishops came from north of the Mason-Dixon line and were unfamiliar with the excellently established state of Negro society in this part of the country and altogether unaware of the great advancement made by the race in both spiritual and material direction," for all of the bishops who were assembled in Charlotte were Southern born and Southern reared with possibly one exception. Four of them were born and reared and trained in North Carolina; one was born in Virginia; two in Tennessee; two in Mississippi; one was born and reared in Georgia and other parts of the South, and only one in the District of Columbia, and he received his education in South and North Carolina. Since the eleven bishops who were present in Charlotte were born and trained for the most part in our Southern schools it can not be affirmed they were unfamiliar with the state of Negro society in this part of the country.
Times have changed since the Reconstruction period. The ideals and aspirations of all the people have changed since that unfortunate epoch in our Southern history. Illiteracy was prevalent among both white and black, the dominating prevalence being of course among the blacks. The Carpet Baggers from the North, the unscrupulous politicians "from north of the Mason-Dixon line," came South and instituted through the Negroes a system of government of which all of us have cause to be ashamed. There is no desire on the part of the Negro bishops or on the part of any other intelligent Negro to return to the calamitous conditions of that indefensible period.
Not only has the Negro made his "greatest progress in sobriety, in industry and in home-owning within the past
eight years" but all other groups of our population have profited by the general prosperity of the country. It would be venturesome to assert that this prosperity has been due to the Negro's enforced or voluntary divorcement from politics. He has prospered despite his disfranchisement and enforced separation from politics, and not because of it. It is tragical to contemplate that with the desire to divorce the Negro from politics there has not been a corresponding desire to divorce him from the responsibilities and obligations of citizenship. He is required to pay taxes; he is expected to go to war; he buys Liberty Bonds, War Saving Stamps; he lays his life upon the altar of his country's hope; he is a great industrial asset to the country's economic growth; he is a student of the country's literature; a reader of the Constitution of the United States; he has suffered the hardships and cruelties of many wars; he has dug canals, felled the forests, built the railroads of the South, nursed to manhood and womanhood the white youth of the South and he is impatient of any suggestion eliminating him from participation in the affairs of a government which calls upon him to sacrifice his life in its defense.
Times have changed and we have changed with them. The "yassar boss" Negro, the Negro with his hat in his hand, does not represent the twentieth century Negro. The professional beggars for institutions who bend the "supple hinges of the knee that thrift might follow fawning"; the boot-licking preachers, do not reveal the deep consciousness of the present day Negro. While for the most part the present day Negro aspires not to what politicians, for their convenience have invoked to fill with terror and prejudice the white poletariat and with bewilderment and fear the black men in blouses, "social equality," yet the Negro does aspire to all the civil rights guaranteed to every group of people who enjoy citizenship in this republic.
The Negro feels that he is entitled to these rights because he is not an alien transplanted on our soil. He was born here. In the great unpleasantness between the States he nursed and cared for those families whose fathers and sons were on the battlefields fighting to perpetuate his slavery, and his reduction to the level of a beast. He is not an anarchist. During the World War German propagandists endeavored to arouse him against his country, the Negro rang true to his country and repelled the advances of the Kaiser's emissaries. The attempted
introduction of Russian Soveitism among us has met with complete failure. We are irresponsive to any suggestion of disorder, calamity or chaos. We believe according to the founders of our Democratic institutions that government derives its power from the consent of the governed. As a part of the governed we assert the right to give our consent to the Government under which we live. We do not embrace any contrary suggestion.
With reference to bootlegging, it might be said that the bishops regard the hysterical enforcement of the Prohibition Amendment and an utter disregard of the 14th and 15th amendments the sheerest hypocrisy, that the violation of one amendment logically leads to the violation of any other amendment that is distasteful to the people. Had there been a rigid enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments, deep regard for law would have been instilled in the minds of the people of the republic and thus would have facilitated the enforcement of the prohibition amendment. The message of the Bishops in this respect is against hypocrisy and hysteria.
We deplore the fact that many of our leaders have been compelled to assert from observation and experience that the color of a man's skin appears to be the standard of justice in this country. Recently a colored man was wantonly shot down by a policeman who was speedily exonerated by a coroner's jury, when according to reports, there seemed to have been no justification for the violent act.
It may be said in closing that the attitude of the Negro Bishops of the A. M. E. Zion Church is one of friendship and co-operation with all the elements of the South and other parts of the country that make for the conservation of peace and for the welfare of all the people. There is no need for alarm. Education is the standard of the Zion Bishops. They do not believe in a rule of illiteracy whether that illiteracy be white or black.
We take refuge in the words of the Master:
"The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. These things I have spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
"Explain it to me, please!
One single positive weighs more
You know, than negatives a score."
In the issue of April 19th our doughty "Christian Recorder" makes earnest effort to reply to the historic notations of the editor of the "Star of Zion." We rejoice in the high consideration which Editor Wright has for the Episcopacy of Negro Methodism. We welcome the retirement of our Bishop E. D. W. Jones from the debate because it would add nothing to his prestige to lick a mere editor. Bro. Wright says he does not like to "lick" a bishop. He prefers to undertake the tremendous task of licking this editor who warns him that we were born under Taurus, and Taurus folk never take a beating but administer it to all their adversaries. We regret to wallop our good Brother Wright, who is a capable, sincere, conscientious, far-visioned, race-loving minister of the gospel. We understand he is a "near bishop," but before his elevation to that office, for which he is well equipped, we shall administer to him an editorial licking which, we hope, he shall never forget. We wish to advise him, however, that we shall not accept his invitation into his parlor, but shall confine ourselves, for the most part, to the discussion of the ungrammatical subject: "Which is the Oldest Denomination?" That is the subject under discussion--that and nothing more. Do you understand? Let's go.
What is a denomination? Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines denomination as, "A class, or society of individuals, called by the same name; a sect, as a denomination of Christians."
The Desk Standard Dictionary, Funk & Wagnalls, defines denomination thus: "A body of Christians having a distinguishing name; sect."
The New Universities Dictionary defines denomination, "The act of designating; a sect, class, or division."
These are not arbitrary definitions made to accommodate disputation between Zion and Bethel, but they are the consensus of lexicographers and word builders. According to them, therefore, Zion became a denomination on the date of its separation from the Methodist Episcopal Church which antedates 1796--when Zion was organized in New York City. But this debate has revolved around the question of an incorporated denomination. Zion was incorporated in 1801. This fact cannot be controverted.
Bethel was incorporated in 1816. This fact also cannot be controverted. This and this alone is the subject of the debate.
But not wishing to seem discourteous to our spirited Brother Wright, who is wrong, we shall take up a "few pointed questions," which he submits with an exquisite perception of things beautiful and rare, and answer them in our own way and not according to his sublime behest.
He asks, "How many churches were included in the incorporation to which you refer in 1801?" His second question is, "It it not a fact that one and only one church was incorporated?" He asks in his third question, "Is it not a fact it was not incorporated as a denomination but as a single church?" To the first and second we reply that the questions are irrelevant and have nothing to do with the age of the denomination. He may as consistently ask, Is it not a fact when your baby was born it did not have any teeth? Is it not a fact that "one and only one child was born?" What has all that to do with the age of the child?
To the third question we reply that the State of New York, in April, 1801, incorporated Zion as a denomination, and not as a single church, although the M. E. denomination had but a single church when it was incorporated as a denomination. But what has that to do with the age of the church?
Brother Wright persists in his search for knowledge and wants to know, Is it not a fact, this incorporated African Methodist Episcopal Church was still a part of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and the act of incorporation did not remove it from supervision of M. E. bishops, pastors and discipline? Frankly we do not so conceive it. If Zion was not separated from the M. E. Church and was not a denomination in its own right and by its own will and suffrage, why did the State of New York allow, and the courts of New York City send to our meeting inspectors of election to witness and attest the legal election of our nine trustees February 5, 1801? What need did Zion have for trustees if they were a part of the M. E. Church? Does not the election of trustees, sworn to and sealed by the office of Master in Chancery, show, convince and certify that we were a separate body distinct and distinguishable from all the other like corporations? Again, since Dr. Wright intimated that our incorporation was only for the local church, let us enlighten him. "Zion" was the name of our local society. If, therefore, the
founders of Zion Methodism had in mind only to incorporate this local "Zion" the style and title of the incorporation would have been "Zion," but they meant to incorporate a denomination, and, therefore, "Zion" forms no part of that immortal document, but a new title never used; "African Methodist Episcopal Church."
To question five and six relative to receiving appointments from the M. E. Church we affirm Zion made a contract, as an independent body, with the M. E. Church to supply its pastors for a period. Under this agreement Zion had the services of M. E. ministers for about twenty years. It is remarkable how closely Zion followed the Methodist Episcopal Church in this respect. That church was just twenty years without an ordained minister. Mr. Asbury filled the position of general assistant for several years before he was ordained to the ministry. These facts are recorded in the minutes of 1779 of the conference held in Kent County, Delaware. We submit all this as a matter of history. But what has that to do with the age?
Zion became a denomination in 1801, Bethel in 1816. The remaining questions are so impertinent to the discussion, and to our mind, contain so little of constructive value that we decline to encourage a steady babble of talk and confusion which their consideration would evoke. Brother Wright's subconscious self articulates the folly of the question and with respect for the articulation of his subconscious judgment, we pass him up.
"Alas, how is it with you
That you do bend your eyes on vacancy
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse"
We have proved all we started out to prove, namely, that Zion was the older incorporated African Methodist Episcopal Church. That is established and unshakable. To prove we were born at a certain time Brother Wright wants to know how many there were in our family; did anybody ever work for us? When did our family increase, when did we read our first book? To send him a certificate of our birth and a life-sized portrait, O, thou of little faith? What has that to do with our age?
We ask Brother Wright again when did Bethel first assume the name "A. M. E."? He has never told us yet.
We thank our brethren everywhere for their congratulations upon our defense of the history of our Methodism, but we wish to assure them that the time is too far spent, and the race too far advanced to engage in denominational
strife. It would be a benediction if the century-old struggle between Zion and Bethel would end with this discussion. These two great denominations should be one. Nothing but jealousy, conceit, envy and ambition have kept them apart all these years. If all the preachers, big and little, especially the big ones, would get out of the way, the laymen of these denominations would get together, not caring a rap which was the older or younger, or who had the first bishops or the most churches. The memories of the past are valueless if they are not an inspiration for the future. He who lives in the past is dead. Old used-to-be does not run the world.
The corn your grandfather raised 100 years ago is feeding no pigs today.
True we have a certain pride in our ancestry, but if pride of ancestry bloats us with conceit and arrogance we are of all men most miserable.
We have engaged in this discussion for the sake of history and we are licking you, Brother Wright, with our own right arm. Don't cry. The facts of history should be acknowledged by all whether we like them or not. We are sorry to give this beating to Brother Wright who became suddenly smitten with the consciousness of his untenable position and sought refuge in extraneous diversion.
Zion became a denomination in 1801, Bethel in 1816.
We have more of the same sort. Do you want it, or have you enough? Do you remember the name of the first church Richard Allen organized?
We are all--black and white--brown and yellow--very largely, if not altogether, the creatures of circumstances and environments--the products of group thought and mass psychology. But few, and they are the choice ones of the earth, are able to rise above it.
Judge Robert Winston, an eminent and able jurist of North Carolina, has written clearly in the July "Current History" on the "Rebirth of the Southern States," in which he sets forth with impressive definiteness the amazing growth and prosperity of the South.
That slavery was a commerical liability to the South he seeks to establish by statistics. That it was not ordained of God, and was a great disadvantage to this section in various ways is tardily admitted. That "in 1876 it was the Southern white woman who broke up illicit relations between
white men and colored women" would be more nearly correct if it were stated they began the movement to break up illicit relations between the races, for we know too well they were not broken up in 1876 nor in 1896. A further exposure of this phase of the subject would be distasteful. However, the movement to discountenance illicit relations has the applause and approval of the upstanding men and women of both races.
Judge Winston went to the University of North Carolina a few years ago to study again. Measured by present standards he was an old man then. What his motives were we shall not essay to define. Obviously it was not to wean himself from the master's psychology, or to rid himself of the concept of Nordic superiority, or to equip himself to antagonize the propaganda of a race inferiority complex.
But the affirmations of the Judge are not without value, especially as they may relate, directly or indirectly, to the race relations meetings which are being constantly held in various parts of the country. One can not resist the conclusion, from the statements of the Judge, that the white man has set metes and bounds to the aims and aspirations of the Negro group. This is an ambitious task, and the Negroes on the Race Relations Committees should be sufficiently courageous to tell their associates about it. If the Negroes on these committees connive at wrong and injustice; if they covenant to perpetuate proscription, Jim-crowism, segregation and disfranchisement, it were better for them if they had not been born.
To be more specific Judge Winston, in whose honesty of intention and sincerity we believe, and who is deeply interested in the solution of a question which to his mind is no longer sectional, but national, utters a challenge and voices a fear. He inquires: "But what of the man who has been the cause of all the trouble--the innocent Negro? As to him and the injustices which he endures, is the South really alive to its responsibility? The answer is emphatically affirmative. Not that the South is willing to give up its civilization to the Negro or grant him social or political rights; but short of this, it will give him every protection."
The doctrine of the reduction of the Negro to the degradation of a social pariah or a political nondescript should be satisfying to the most rabid. However, the elastic significance of "social" is misleading and confusing. The right to live where one wishes and is able to purchase, equal accommodations on common carriers--the contest for the right to these and kindred privileges will never be abated.
"Political rights" are guaranteed every American citizen who is twenty-one years of age by the Constitution of these United States, and cannot be abrogated, nullified or ignored without violating a fundamental law of the land. Judge Winston says the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments are nullified in the South, admits he is a party to it, but expects the Negro to observe the eighteenth amendment as sound and inviolable. Consistency, thou art a jewel and something else. The Negro will never yield his right to participate in the affairs of a government that taxes him for its maintenance and support, and calls upon him to shed blood in its defense.
The fear which Judge Winston voices is this: "Recognizing the inexorable race law that two races will surely blend if they live together on terms of absolute equality, the South, not in anger or malice, but deliberately, has put the Negro down, and is keeping him down; has nullified the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments and has deprived him of his civil and political rights. This course seems to be one for which God Almighty will call men and commonwealths to account. But no other course is possible if the South does not wish its people transformed into a Mongrel race."
That is to say the South is willing to risk the wrath of God in whose judgments it affects to believe, rather than give up its prejudices and recognize that "God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth."
As we have said above we believe Judge Winston is honest and sincere; but that he is the creation of a social and political environment is evident in all his lines. He calls upon his white brother to do his full duty by his colored brother. It is fair to state that the Negroes of North Carolina are appreciative of the friendship and co-operation of their white fellow citizens. They have contributed and are contributing much towards Negro education and uplift, and the friendly relations between the races on the whole are well sustained.
The Negroes are studying the same books, reading the same literature the whites are studying and reading, and have the same tastes, aims, hopes, aspirations, and no sort of propaganda will make them content with anything less than a full enjoyment of their prerogatives as American citizens. When this is thoroughly understood the foundation for a complete workable and lasting friendship will have peen happily laid.
An obscure village slumbering between the hills of Tennessee, where darkness oozes out between the trees, has suddenly become the cynosure of the Nation's eyes. A modest, retiring, unknown school teacher has been shot into public notice because some ultra-enthusiastic mossback indicted him for teaching evolution.
Seeing an opportunity for the spotlight, for drama, comedy, farce, tragedy, for selling hot dogs, red lemonade, ancient bones, modern antiques, et cetera, the one-gallused inhabitant of the wilds, with inseparable corncob pipes, mountain dew and convenient guns; yellow journalists, high-browed and low-browed scientists, geologists, biologists, free thinkers, nincompoops and psychoanalists, agnostics, lawyers, preachers and teachers, realtors and other humbugs have relegated young Scopes to the limbo of forgetfulness while they crucify our Lord afresh and make a football and plaything of the Christian religion.
We believe that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That He made man as the chronicler says, of the dust of the earth, breathed in him the breath of life, and man became a living soul. We do not believe that man evolved or descended from monkey, ape or jackass, though many of the latter would have us do so.
In the July "Forum" "Mr. Bryan speaks to Darwin," and we reproduce in part his language to that gentleman:
"But how about the doctrine of all the species (Darwin estimated the number at from two to three million, the lowest estimate is one million, about a half million of which have been tabulated). By the operation interior, resident forces came by slow and gradual development from one or a few germs of life, which appeared on the planet hundreds of millions of years ago. How many million is a matter of speculation, the estimates varying according to the vigor of the guesser's imagination and the number of ciphers he has left in his basket. Can that proposition be demonstrated by every one like the law of gravitation or the roundness of the earth? On the contrary no one has been able to trace one single species to another. Darwin admitted, even expressed surprise and disappointment, that no species had ever been traced to another, but he thought his hypothesis should be accepted even though the 'missing links' had not been found. He did not say link, as some seem to think, but links. If there is such a thing as evolution it is not just one link, the link between man and the lower forms of life,
that is missing, but all the million of links between the millions of species. Our case is even stronger; it has been pointed out that evolution, if there is such a force, would act so slowly that there would be an indefinite number of links between each two species, or a million times a million links in all, every one of which is missing."
"When anger rushes unrestrained to action
Like a hot steed, it stumbles in its way;
The man of thought strikes deepest and strikes safest."
When Clarence Darrow, the defender of the youthful murderers, Leopold and Loeb, in a fit of anger in the evolution trial at Dayton, Tenn., characterized Mr. Bryan's religion as "fool religion," he offended the American people, and "like a hot steed stumbled" in his way. Religion is the strongest and most vital influence in the human breast and the legitimate cause of evolution was not advanced by this agnostic badinage.
Our "fool religion"--the religion of Jesus Christ, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; the third day He arose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven where He sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, has the power to melt the hardest heart into obedience to the Divine will, and to raise the dead in trespasses and sins into a life of righteousness and peace. The ancient systems with all their divinities, sacrifices, charms and oracles could not reform a single village; but our "fool religion" has changed and can change the most vicious and abandoned to law-abiding, home-loving, and God-fearing creatures.
Our "fool religion" hushes into a calm the tempest raised by conscious guilt. It melts down the most stubborn into tenderness and contrition. It cheers the broken-hearted and brings the tear of joy into eyes swollen with grief. It produces and maintains serenity under evils which drive the worldly mad. It reconciles the sufferer to his cross and sends the song of praise from lips quivering with agony. It enables the most affectionate relatives to part in death, not without emotion, but without repining. It enables the fading eye to brighten at the promise of Jesus: "Where I am, there shall my servant be also."
"The cross, it takes our guilt away,
It holds the fainting spirit up;
It cheers with hope the gloomy day,
And sweetens every bitter cup."
Has Clarence Darrow, the eloquent agnostic, any effectual substitute for our "fool religion"? or can he tell us who it is that saith in his heart "there is no God"?
Said the eminent Robert Hall: "Religion, the final center of repose; the goal to which all things tend, which gives to time all its importance, to eternity all its glory; apart from which man is a shadow, his very existence a riddle, and the stupendous scenes which surround him as incoherent and unmeaning as the leaves which the sibyl scattered in wind."
The trouble is not with evolution per se, but with the men and women of insufficient breadth and depth who haven't sense enough to teach it without undermining the basal principles of our holy religion. The trial at Dayton was a tragedy and a farce.