Jackson County, Illinois

THE LIFE AND LABORS OF REV. HENRY S. GORDON

     By REV. GEO. A. GORDON, Campbell Hill, Illinois (1901)

PREFACE

Fifty years ago Rev. H. S. Gordon, familiarly known as "Uncle Henry" organized near where Campbell Hill now stands, the Looney Springs Free Baptist Church, the first church of what is now known as the Central Illinois Yearly Meeting of Free Baptists.  that this work was of God and has been blessed of Him is certainly evidenced by the results accomplished and the fruits borne.

In fifty years this movement so small in its beginning has grown to considerable proportions till at present our yearly meeting is composed of five quarterly meetings, as follows: Looney Springs, Lebanon, Franklin Co., Wayne Co. and Makanda, with fifty four ministers, fifty-six churches and four thousand members.

The official organ of the Y. M. is the Illinois Free Baptist, edited and published by Rev. G. A. Gordon at Campbell Hill, Ill.

Rev. H. S. Gordon died January 10th, 1898, after watching the growth for forty-eight years of this vine that God through his instrumentality had planted.

While living his counsel and help was sought by his sons in the Gospel and ministry and never sought in vain.

Since his departure from us we have asked many times how can we most fittingly honor him and commemorate his life and deeds?

The honor paid to kings and nobles, a marble shaft, would be insufficient for that would appeal only to passers by.

But desiring to do something that shall be more in keeping with the life of him whom we desire to honor, more far-reaching ,uplifting, ennobling and God-honoring among men than shafts of brick or stone, we concluded to send forth this little volume containing the portrait, life and labors of "Uncle Henry" Gordon, written by his oldest son, who for 32 years stood side by side with him in the sacred desk. and also of a few at least of the many who have been helped either directly or indirectly into a "life hid with Christ in God."

Praying that this book may be a God's blessing to us and a fitting tribute to him we lovingly dedicate it to the memory of our beloved and sainted brother, Rev. Henry Smith Gordon. And if this prayer be answered this volume will be an honor to Christ for He said, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye did it unto me."

Rev. A.J. Rendleman

INTRODUCTION

Of making books there is no end (nor need there be,) and much study is a weariness of the flesh. This volume need not become wearisome since it eschews all controverted subjects, deals not in theological abstractions, philosophical deductions, nor ethical science, but is to give a brief history of the life and labors of Rev. H. S. Gordon, and a few of the men and "women who have labored in the Gospel with us." Instead of weariness then it will no doubt be "to those of like precious faith" a source of spiritual strength and helpfulness.

It is difficult for those of one generation to grasp, clearly the conditions that prevailed in a former, and the material changes are in some respects no more marked than the mental, moral, spiritual and social, especially is this true in a country where primitive conditions prevail.

Some things, however, remain forever unchanged, as for instance, the old-fashioned hope of immortality, and the energy with which certain men push forward into the rank of world's Messiahs, willing, yea anxious to be smitten by the hand of ecclesiastical bigotry, crowned with the obloquy of the unthinking, who fail to sense the force of a principle, nailed to the cross of public censure, and laid in the tomb of official displeasure, from which invariably they rise in the triumph of a redeemed people.

The above statement is made in general terms without special application to the subject of this memorial book.  I leave the reader to judge how nearly our quiet,  unassuming, scholarly leader came to placing himself in that illustrious rank.  Your temple of fame is full of niches and you may place him where your own judgment directs.

In the beautiful tribute of Oliver Goldsmith to his father, in "The Village Preacher," there are some passages that  might have been written for Bro. Gordon.

"A man he was to all the country dear,"

Unpracticed he to fawn or seek for power,

By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour.

But in his duty prompt at every call,

He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all.

At church with meek and unaffected grace.

His look adorned the venerable place,

Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,

And fools  who came to scoff remained to pray."

This book is created to fill no "long felt want," nor is it born of sheer necessity, but unlike some of lifes luxuries is in reach of all; we send it to you in proud confidence that it will create its own place in your life and in the world.

It will lie on your table in silence and not complain, or it will speak to you oft if desired; it is our tribute to our absent friend and father who "being absent yet speaketh."

For one I shall welcome this book, and give one or more volumes a place in my library, and then in after years if "I shall live to be the last leaf on the tree," it will come as a friend of former years and,

"Sweet memory wafted by thy gentle gale,

To view the fairy haunts of long lost hours,

Oft up the stream of time I turn

Blest with far greener shades, far lovelier flowers."

REV. J. L. Meads

OPEN COMMUNION

There has been a growing sentiment in the Baptist Church in favor of free or open communion for perhaps a hundred years, but that was not the difficulty with which Benj. Randall had to contend.

In the year 1780  he was called to order by his brethren for not preaching the doctrines of John Calvin, he had considered these doctrines but little as they had not been in dispute in the community. He was now called upon three or four times to answer for "his errors." And on one occasion the debate lasted two days, on the last day of the meeting, the leading ministers made public declaration of non-fellowship with Randall's principles, to which he replied that it made no difference to him so long as he knew that the Lord owned him. Thus without seeking it Randall was driven either to stand by himself or to accept doctrines the odious sentiments of which he did not believe.  With his characteristic firmness he stood alone.  Thus we see Randall was disowned by the Baptist Church because he preached "free will" and "free grace", two very prominent doctrines in the larger Baptist church today. The Lord's Supper was not a question of disputation at this time, and not for three years after the first organization of Randall of the Free Baptist Church, but when it did come up for settlement they decided to make Christian character the test for admission to the Lord's table.

In 1850, Rev. H. S. Gordon, an earnest consecrated minister of the Baptist Church, preaching under the direction of the Association to which he belonged, as their missionary, with a heart warm with love for souls, was preaching "free grace and "free will," and was studying more earnestly the great question of how to lead souls to accept Christ, than the doctrinal dogmas of his church.  And God was blessing his labors and as a result souls were being saved and churches organized and among the number organized was Looney Springs (now Campbell Hill) to which he was called a pastor, and at their first communion service the church members asked that any of their neighbors who were accustomed to worship with them, might have the privilege of communing with them. He was not committed to the idea himself, but knowing one of the cardinal doctrines of the Baptist Church to be, that each individual church has the entire control of its affairs without interference on the part of any external power, so he acted as their servant and gave the invitations as they required.  And for this he was called to account by his brethren, and charge with heresy.  This very serious charge brought about a very earnest investigation upon his part for the grounds for such charge, and as a result, he decided that the action of himself and his church was entirely scriptural; and thus he was driven to take a stand that caused him to be disowned by his brethren.  So we see him confronting the same difficulties on the communion question that Benj. Randall did on the doctrines of Calvinism.

Today almost the entire Christian world, including the denomination from which Randall was excluded, teach the same doctrine on the atonement and its provisions that he taught.

And Bro. Gordon lived to see a church in Southern Illinois numbering about four or five thousand, holding the same doctrines which he held, and that too, as a result of his work and teaching, and also to see a growing sentiment in favor of scriptural communion among the leading ministers of the Baptist Church.

And it is only a question of a few more years of earnest evangelical preaching and Bible study in the light of true spiritual advancement until the entire Baptist Church will teach and practice in the main what Bro. Gordon taught as they are now doing in regard to the teaching of Randall.

REV.T. O. McMinn





Caption reads:  The Old Farm Homestead near Percy, ILL.  where he settled in 1837 and raised a family of 10 children, 9 boys and 1 girl, with but one death in the family for 50 years.  This building was erected in 1863, and still stands (1901).  Around it was a farm of about 400 acres.


"GORDON"

The first Gordon of whom there is a distinct race is Richard of Gordon, who was Lord of the Barony of Gordon in the Merse between 1150 and 1160.  Alicia IV of the Gordon family married her cousin, Adam Gordon. Their grandson, Sir Adam was the ancestor of all the Gordons of Scotland, says Douglas. Robert 1st gave to him a charter to the lands of Strathbogie (or Huntley).  Sir Adam Gordon, in descent tenth of Gordon and Huntley, was killed at the battle of Homildon, in 1402. leaving only a daughter, who married a Seton.  Their eldest son, Alexander, assumed the name of Gordon, and in 1449 was created Earl of Huntley.  The line of Huntleys and Gordon was warlike indeed.  The fighting force of the Clan estimated at 1,000 claymores in 1715. The Earls of Aberdeen, so created in 1682, are descended from Patrick Gordon of Methlic, cousin of the Earl of Huntley.



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