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Beginning of the story


In Calhoun county, near Gilead, a woman came weeping bitterly to Brethren Roberts and Waller, asking that one of them preach at her husband's funeral. He had been killed with a bludgeon of some sort in a gambling den. One thing after another came up till the funeral was postponed indefinitely. This helped to swing our young Timothy clear to the extreme, so that he denounced the whole business of having funerals for anyone.

He took the position that to his knowledge there was no Bible authority for them. This was one shape the matter took in this young mind in this formative period. After more mature deliberation, he announced that he would conduct funerals with the view of benefiting the living, and with the understanding that the destiny of the dead was sealed.

Before this, "old dame custom" said it was the duty of all to preach all people -- both good and bad -- into heaven. One would be constrained even yet, at times, to think that we living in the tail of that old theological comet.

Near the close of this year, Mac holds a very successful meeting alone at Columbus. He gathered in nearly all the Methodist, Baptist, Universalist, etc. On the last evening of this meeting at Columbus, the first he held under his own special appointment, the Methodist preacher, whose name was Taylor, seeing his own class leaders come forward to make the good confession, challenged Mac for a debate.

Mac was now about seventeen years old, and Rev. Taylor was about fifty-five. The boy is "half frightened out of his wits," and declines to debate with him since he was an old and experienced minister and himself only a stripling.

"What!" says Rev. Taylor, "come here and preach the Bible and the Bible only and ask all these people to accept your teaching, then afraid to stand by them?" Mac said: "I thought the old gentleman about right, and accepted the challenge; yet afterward I wish I hadn't."

The question for debate was a follows: "We are saved by faith alone." Affirmed by Rev. Taylor.

The next morning Mac sends a boy post-haste to Quincy to bring Bro. Turner "dead or alive" to take his place in the debate. Bro. Turner came, but the people would not listen to anything but that Mac should first hold the debate with Rev. Taylor, then should he be worsted, Bro. Turner could give the Rev. a round. This was settled on the morning of the debate.

So our Mac, having no time to prepare, sat on the church steps pondering his unfortunate condition when up the steps came Rev. Taylor with his arms piled high with authorities with which he intended to brain this young "Campbellite" preacher.

Quick as a flash Mac put on his boyish self, and, having a little Testament in his hands in which he had been reading, slapped that down into his left arm and took after Rev. Taylor, and walking right at heels, labors as though his load was as heavy as the Rev.'s. The people applauded lustily. After Rev. Taylor had piled up his theological lore in one end of the large table by the pulpit, Mac slaps down his little Testament on the other end with as much boyish awkwardness as he could summon.

It was a capital hit. The effect was thrilling. The contrast was all that could be imagined.

The Jew chosen as moderator takes his place, and the debate begins. We can not calendar the argument here, but give one incident. One proof Mac produced, showing that the Methodist Church was not the apostolic church, was that the discipline of the Methodist Church said "God was in Christ reconciling him [God] to the world"; while the Scriptures say "God was in Christ reconciling the world to him [God]." The Rev. denied that the discipline said so. A copy of the discipline was secured and found to be just as indicated by Mac.

This, together with the antic in the opening, completely routed the Rev. Taylor, and the boy had an easy run of the debate. Then the boy, being a fine Bible scholar, was armed for any Methodist Goliath. The moderator very quickly summed up the argument, and gave a hearty decision in favor of "the boy." An appeal was made by the Rev. to the house. The moderator takes a vote of the people, and the whole house, save a few of the most radical Methodist, sustained the moderator.


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