The History of the Scofield Reference Bible
C.I. Scofield, the editor of the Scofield Bible, and a man
of superior ability as a lawyer in his own community, became "a little child"
in simplicity of faith in God, and the acceptance of "HIS SON"JESUS CHRIST, as
his Saviour and Lord.
He had described himself, before his conversion, as "a drunkard," "a wretch," "a ruined and hopeless man, who, despite all his struggles, was fast bound in chains of his own forging." This is the man who became one of Gods most honoured servants for the world-wide propagation of His living and life-giving Word.
Dr. A.C. Gaebelein, although the youngest in years, was perhaps the most influential of all the consulting editors of the Scofield Bible. Dr. Scofield likely considered Gaebelein superior in knowledge to any other individual in the area of prophetic teaching.
Miss Emily Farmer, a dedicated Christian worker, was invaluable as an accurate proof-reader. Dr. Scofield borrowed the services of Miss Farmer to give editorial assistance in preparing notes for the Scofield Bible in their final form. The excellence of the Scofield Bible today is attributable in no small measure to Miss Farmers keen discernment of sound doctrine.
Although the Scofield Reference Bible has been read and studied by many for decades, the story behind its creation is largely unknown. We are pleased to bring the facts into view after their being out of print for nearly fifty years.
THE HISTORY OF
THE SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE
ON January 12, 1909, the Oxford University Press announced
the publication of a new Bible edition, with references and footnotes, as well
as new paragraphing, entitled The Scofield Reference Bible. The publication of
this Bible edition was not heralded as a great event. No costly advertisements
were published. A comparatively small number of Christians knew anything about
it. Yet before the year 1909 had passed, thousands of copies had been sold
throughout the English-speaking world. It was soon discovered by believing
Christians of all denominations that the Bible edition possessed a great
spiritual value. Many believed that the work filled a great need, and, more
than that, that its publication at that time was of much importance. In fact,
it appears to the writer that the production of the Reference Bible was a
significant act of Divine Providence.
No one knew, during the years of preparation of this work, what would happen in the twentieth century. To the world at large, including the religious world, everything looked rosy. The twentieth century was announced as the great century of progress, that the whole world was now entering into an era of peace and prosperity. Well-meaning men in the religious, scientific, and political, as well as educational, spheres were especially labouring to bring about a better international understanding and relationship. We mention among these the late David Starr Jordan and William Jennings Bryan. They did all in their power to prevent any future war; in fact, Dr. Jordan, of California, was so enthusiastic that he declared, "The gospel leaven is leavening now all nations, and any kind of war, it seems to me, has become an impossible thing." Millions upon millions endorsed this statement and that of others filled with enthusiastic optimism.
The editor of the newly published Reference Bible and the seven selected consulting editors did not share the belief of this strange optimism in the beginning of the twentieth century, for the leading nations of the world continued to increase their standing armies and to build larger battleships, while not a few advocated, even at that time, the use of the newly invented airplane in a coming war.
The men who were at work on the Reference Bible were all staunch believers in what is rightly termed "the prophetic Word." In every portion of the Bible, in both Testaments, our omniscient God reveals the future. One of the great evidences of the supernaturalness of the Bible is this very fact of prophecy. The Bible is the only book in the world which speaks authoritatively of things to come. None of these forecasts has ever miscarried and none ever will. The truth about the political, moral, and religious future of our age, as revealed in the Bible, is clearly stated and unfolded in the Reference Bible. Thousands of Christians, through its enlightening comments, received the true light as to the character of world conditions as they were almost half a century ago, and were delivered from the unscriptural expectation of an ever-increasing and improving betterment of the age.
Then came the terrific crash of 1914, and a good part of the world was plunged into the great catastrophe which we have labelled the first World War. The fact remains that before the war ever came into existence this group of seven men, under the leadership of the late Dr. C. I. Scofield, had sounded the alarm, not as prophets, but as sane and spiritual exponents of sacred prophecy.
The Oxford University Press informed the writer, on inquiry, that up to date 1,925,000 copies of the Reference Bible have been published, and before our task of giving this brief history is finished, the 2,000,000 mark may be reached. No one can estimate the immense good this Bible has done and still is doing. No one but God knows how many thousands throughout the English-speaking world have been led out of darkness into light; how many thousands have been strengthened in their faith in the cardinal doctrines of Gods Holy Word and have been led into lives of self-surrender; and how many thousands, through the study of the notes of this Bible, have been delivered out of all kinds of delusions. That is why one can say the publication of this Reference Bible at the time it happened was an act of Providence.
This Reference Bible, contending so earnestly for the faith delivered unto the saints, exalting the Lord Jesus Christ, His deity, His sacrificial death, His physical resurrection, and His future personal, visible, and glorious return, would not be the great, God-pleasing work it is if it did not suffer from the attacks of the enemies of the Bible, inspired by the unseen leader, who, in the beginning of human history, by raising the question, "Yea, hath God said?" proved himself the liar from the beginning. So we do not wonder that rationalists of different shades began to sneer and to malign this work. But the attacks were not confined to unbelievers; they came from other sides as well. A certain lawyer of note, who had become a true Christian believer about the time the Scofield Reference Bible was started, had fallen in line with its prophetic teachings; in fact, he wrote several splendid books in which he endorsed the teachings as to prophecy unfolded in the Reference Bible. A short time after, he withdrew his endorsement and substituted for his belief theories which clashed in greater part with what he himself had formerly stated as being the truth. Others followed the same path, either rejecting or belittling this Bible edition, some of whom still warn against the study of the Scofield Bible.
But far more it must be regretted that certain men, in order to break down the influence of this Bible, began to attack the character of the instrument God had used in helping the Church in such a remarkable way, the late Dr. Cyrus I. Scofield. Of all the despicable things anyone can do, in the judgment of the writer, is to impeach the character of one who is no longer among the living, and to make insinuations based upon mere rumours, when the accused is no longer able to meet such attacks. It is the worst kind of slander. More than ten years ago, the writer was informed that a professor of a certain seminary in the Middle West made the public statement that "Dr. Scofield had written the greater part of his notes while he was in jail." This professor is an almost rabid enemy of the premillennial belief, so clearly taught in Scripture. The writer challenged him on this untrue and outrageous statement. At first he ignored the protest. But when some of the leaders of his denomination, who were intimate friends, were appealed to, he was forced to answer my requests for an explanation. He denied finally that he had made such a charge. But, having secured several affidavits from persons who had heard him utter the charge, I warned him never to repeat it, threatening that he would be exposed to the Christian public. That ended the matter. A second accusation against our friend Dr. Scofield was the charge of drunkenness. Frequently, it was claimed, he was found in an intoxicated condition. Is this true? He confessed to this himself. In his younger days, when things went wrong he took to drink, and went to excess. He confessed that drink had overpowered him and had dragged him down. But John Bunyan, the immortal author of Pilgrims Progress, also had been a drunkard. So at one time was John Newton, the friend of the poet William Cowper and author of that precious hymn, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me." Bunyan and Newton did it when they were unsaved, and so did Scofield. Deliverance came when they were saved by grace. Dr. Scofield wrote to the late Charles G. Trumbull, of The Sunday School Times: "I received Jesus Christ as my Saviour. Instantly the chains were broken, never to be forged again; the passion for drink was taken away."
Yet this charge of drunkenness was revived many years later. Rumours were started that he had a number of relapses. It was at a time when he and the writer enjoyed blessed fellowship in ministering in different places. Some person inquired of the writer, "Is it true that Dr. Scofield has become a backslider and now and then drinks heavily?" I began to investigate at once. I told my informant that we had ministered together in New York, and Sea Cliff, N. Y.; Detroit, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; Toronto, Can., and elsewhere, but there was not the slightest evidence that Dr. Scofield had taken again to drink. Then, asking the brother from whom he had heard the rumour, he mentioned a certain physician in Boston.
On my next visit to Boston I called on the doctor and asked him about this charge. He denied having said it, and added, "Better ask ," mentioning a well-known preacher. I called on him. My question was answered, "I never said any such things, but you ask ," and the name of another preacher was given. Finally the trail led to East Northfield where Dr. Scofield had been pastor. And here it fizzled out completely. After this unpleasant task of hunting down a false rumour, Scofield and I lunched in the Park Avenue Hotel in New York. When I told him the story, his eyes filled with tears. I recall his words: "Gaebelein, for weeks I felt that somebody was talking about me. Here and there people seemed to draw away from me. I shall never forget your truly Christian service."
The writer is now the only surviving associate and consulting editor called by Dr. Scofield to assist in the preparation of the Reference Bible. It is not out of order, in connection with these preliminary remarks, to mention their names.
Henry G. Weston, LL.D., was for a number of years president of Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa., then a conservative institution (Baptist). He wrote a brief exposition of the Gospel of Matthew under the title, The Genesis of the New Testament.
James M. Gray, D.D., then dean of the Moody Bible Institute, and author of numerous books of biblical exposition; too well known to the present generation to need further mention.
William J. Erdman, D.D., an able, logical, and spiritual teacher of the Word of God; author of numerous pamphlets and booklets.
Professor TV. G. Moorehead, D.D., professor in Xenia (Ohio) United Presbyterian Seminary; a splendid, analytical instructor in the Bible.
Elmore Harris, D.D., president and founder of the Toronto Bible Training College; pastor of the Walmer Road Baptist Church, Toronto, Out.
Arthur T. Pierson, D.D., a brilliant preacher, as well as author of several excellent books, such as New Acts, The Heart of the Gospel, The Crisis of Missions, etc.; editor of The Missionary Review of the World. Dr. Pierson for many mouths supplied the pulpits of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle during Spurgeons illness, and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York.
Arno C. Gaebelein, D.L).,* the youngest in years. * Dr. Gaebelein is editor of Our Hope, and is also the author of many books.
These seven brethren were called to act as consulting editors. In acknowledging the help given by these seven consulting editors, Dr. Scofield mentions prominently in his introduction several other scholarly men who were of much help to him: Professor James Barrellet, of the Lausanne Theological faculty; Professors Sayce and Margoliouth, of Oxford; Walter Scott, of Bristol, and Charles R. Erdman, of Princeton.
Being then the only survivor of the original group of consulting editors on the Reference Bible*, I have been asked by Dr. Will H. Houghton, president of the Moody Bible Institute and editor of the Moody Monthly, to write a brief history of the Reference Bible. I consented gladly, for I am in possession of certain facts connected with the origin of this good work hitherto not fully known to the household of faith. There is also a most interesting background connected with the Bible study movement in this country during the last sixty-five years, which will be greatly appreciated by all believers.
* For about twenty-five years, these seven consulting editors chosen by Dr. Scofield appeared on the title page of the different editions of the Reference Bible. Some ten years after the death of Dr. Scofield, the Oxford University Press added to this list the name of Dr. W. L. Pettingill. We mention this to avoid any misunderstanding.
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
WE ARE not writing a biography of the late Cyrus I. Scofield, D.D. A short account of part of his life was written and published by the late Charles Gallaudet Trumbull, editor of The Sunday School Times. It is a small volume of 136 pages, and therefore not a complete biography. In fact, it is more of a tribute than a biography. We write strictly the story of his greatest accomplishment, the Reference Bible, but in order to do this we must give a very brief biographical sketch, without which our work would not be satisfactory.
Cyrus Ingersoll Scofield was born August 19, 1843.
Therefore 1943 is his centenary; the writer suggests that this fact should be commemorated in some way. He was born in the wild part of one of the border states of that time, in the backwoods of Lenawee County, Michigan. Frequently he spoke of his love for the out-of-doors - the woods, birds, and animal life. It was acquired in his boyhood in the semi-wilderness of his birthplace.
The family consisted of four daughters and three sons. Two of the boys died, so that Cyrus was the only surviving son in the family. He never spoke of his mother, for he did not know her. She died a short time after his birth.
She and her husband were believing Christians and worshipped in the Protestant Episcopal church. From the dying mothers lips came a prayer, heard by the husband and other members of the family, that the new arrival might become a preacher of the gospel. Her dying request was kept a secret, and only after Cyrus had become a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and had received a definite call to devote his life to the Christian ministry was he told of this touching prayer which was so graciously answered. He remembered from his earliest childhood that his father read the Bible to him and to the family. Thus in his young life was sown the precious seed of the Word of God.
While ministering with him some thirty years ago in Stamford, Conn., I mentioned to him that the telephone register in that part of the state recorded numerous families who bore the name of Scofield. He gave me then a brief word as to his ancestry. They settled in Connecticut and other parts of New England during the seventeenth century. Daniel Scofield arrived on the American continent in 1639 from Lancashire. England. All his ancestors were well-born. Several of them were soldiers who had distinguished themselves on various battlefields.
When Cyrus was quite young, the Scofield family left Michigan and settled in central Tennessee before the Civil War. They established a home near Lebanon in Wilson County. His education and preparation to enter a university were interrupted by the Civil War. All southern schools were closed, and higher education became impossible for young Scofield.
Being now a Southerner, he enlisted at once in the Confederate Army. Before he reached his twentieth year he had been through a number of bloody battles and many smaller skirmishes. At Antietam he showed such remarkable bravery that the Cross of Honour was bestowed on him. When the Civil War was over, in his twenty-second year, Scofield travelled to St. Louis, Mo., which had become the home of his eldest sister. Her husband was a man of culture and wealth; he took a deep interest in his brother-in-law, and offered to stand by him and assist him in any kind of profession he might choose. The young man selected the legal profession. Yet when it came to the generous offer made to him, he decided it would be better if he "paddled his own canoe." He became a clerk in an office and some time later began the study of law, becoming identified with one of the best law offices in St. Louis.
Without following his training for his chosen profession, we find him several years later in Kansas City, in the interest of a lawsuit. It was at that time, in his twenty-sixth year, that he offered himself for admission to the bar. After the required examination, carried on in open court by several lawyers, had been successfully passed, his request was granted and he was admitted.
A short time after, he was elected by the citizens of Atchison, Kan., to the state legislature. He distinguished himself in various ways, especially in connection with the ousting of a notorious and crooked state senator. Lawyer Scofield exposed the bribery efforts of the senator when he attempted a re-election. It led to the senators complete defeat, and Scofield succeeded in having John J. Ingalls elected in place of the corrupt legislator. Senator Ingalls, after his election, served in the United States Senate for eighteen years, through successive re-elections.
General Grant was then in his second term as President of the United States. His attention was called to the young legislator C. I. Scofield, and the good work he had done. President Grant was so impressed that he appointed Scofield, now in his thirtieth year, United States attorney for the district of Kansas and the Indian Territory. He served in this position for a little over two years when he resigned and went back to St. Louis to practice law.
It was in 1879, when Scofield had reached his thirty-sixth year, that the greatest event in his life occurred. He was born again, and his dying mothers prayer was answered. We do not need to follow in this brief sketch the details of his salvation experience. The instrument used was Thomas McPheeters, then prominent in the Y.M.C.A., with another consecrated Christian worker, Walter C. Douglas. Scofields conversion was thorough, and, as stated before, gave him deliverance from the excessive drink habit into which he had drifted. Needless to say, as a newborn, saved soul he began to witness for Christ at once, encouraged by Mr. McPheeters and others.
But the most important event after his conversion was his early acquaintance with the outstanding Bible teacher of that day, Dr. James H. Brookes. Dr. Brookes, well known to the writer, was pastor of the church in St. Louis known as the Washington Avenue and Compton Street Presbyterian Church. Besides being a great preacher, Dr. Brookes was an able scholar and editor of The Truth. He was a firm believer in prophecy, an ardent premillenarian who knew how to divide the Word of truth rightly.
At the feet of this choice servant of Christ, Scofield took his place. Here he learned what he could not have learned in any of the theological seminaries of that time. Being instructed by Dr. Brookes in bible study, he soon mastered, with his fine analytical mind, the ABCs of the right division of the Word of God, which he later embodied in a small brochure, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth. From Dr. Brookes instructions he became acquainted with the high points of sacred prophecy relating to the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church of God. Later, after deeper study, he gave a number of addresses on prophecy, a work which we have often called a classic on prophecy, and which the writer, at his request, published. A short time after his conversion Scofield united with the First Congregational Church in St. Louis; the pastor, Dr. C. L. Goodell, was known as a strong believer, a friend of Dr. Brookes.
It was three years later, in 1882, when Scofield received from the leader of home missions for the Southwest a call to become the pastor of a small Congregational church in Dallas, Tex. After considerable thought and much prayer, he decided to abandon his law practice and move to Dallas. He was deeply convinced that the Lord had called him to devote the rest of his life to definite Christian work, the preaching of the gospel and to Bible teaching.
The beginning of his pastorate was a struggle. With much prayer and perseverance the congregation grew; his preaching attracted wide attention; the approval of the Lord was evident in all his ministry. Soon the small membership of the Dallas church was increased by several hundred. He was highly esteemed by others in Dallas. Some thirty-five years ago, the widely-known pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Dr. George W. Truett, wrote to one of the officers of the church as follows:
"I count it one of the rarest privileges of my life to have been associated with him in the Masters work in the same city in the earlier years of his ministry. The inspirational value of his preaching upon other preachers has been immeasurably large and gracious. He is easily one of the first preachers of his generation. But, momentous as has been his work as a preacher, his greatest work has been in inspiring multitudes to study Gods Word, and in helping them to study it. His Reference Bible is a monumental achievement."
After his effectual work in Dallas, Scofield received a call to become pastor of the East Northfield (Mass.) Congregational Church. East Northfield was the home of the world-famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody. His evangelistic labours in the United States and in Great Britain were wonderfully blessed of God. The great singer and song composer, Mr. Sankey, singing the gospel in a deeply spiritual way, was a powerful contribution to the simple message of salvation of Mr. Moody. Moody and Sankey became a household word throughout Christendom. No one will ever know the vast multitude of men, women, and children who were saved in these different campaigns. Thousands of them became evangelists and soul-winners. Though so many years have passed since these great spiritual revivals, the blessings which they brought are even now far from being exhausted. A short time after Scofields conversion, Moody and Sankey held a campaign in St. Louis, and our friend not only became acquainted with the evangelist, but he entered heartily and actively into the work of leading others to Christ. Later, Scofield invited Mr. Moody to hold special meetings in Dallas, which brought Moody and Scofield into a closer fellowship. Mr. Moody had felt the need of systematic Bible teaching, the need of Christian education, and East Northfield was selected for the establishment of schools for boys and girls and for special summer Bible study conferences. In Chicago the Moody Bible Institute had been founded, and became, as it is still. the outstanding Bible institute and training school of Christian workers on the American continent. So it came to pass that Mr. Moody knowing the ability of Mr. Scofield, invited him as a speaker to one of the great summer Bible conferences in East Northfield. This was followed in 1895 by an invitation to take the pastorate of the church located there. The call was accepted.
Moody himself needed at that time a better knowledge of prophecy, and Scofield was the man to lead him into it. Scofield told us that after he had assumed the pastorate in East Northfield he heard Moody preach a sermon on the life of Paul. Moody described at the close of his sermon how finally Paul died the martyrs death. The executioner came to his cell, and willingly the great man of God put his head upon the executioners block. One powerful stroke and the head rolled off. But in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, Paul found himself in heaven. The Lord met him and put a glittering crown of gold upon his head, which Paul has been wearing ever since.
"I felt," said Scofield, "that I must set him right on this. So when the proper opportunity came, I asked Mr. Moody a few simple questions." "Mr. Moody, please tell me how could the Lord put a glittering crown upon the head of the apostle when he had no head at all? The head of Paul was in the Roman prison. The body of the apostle was buried; only his spiritual part appeared in the presence of the Lord. Paul was absent from the body and present with the Lord." Mr. Moody declared that he had never thought of that. "And so I asked Mr. Moody to take his Bible. We read together 2 Timothy 4: 6-8. I explained to him the coming of the Lord, that it will mean the resurrection of the righteous dead, and that only then, when 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 is fulfilled, will Paul receive a body like unto the glorious body of Christ Himself and receive his crown." These remarks brought blessing to Mr. Moody and led to a better knowledge of prophecy.
Besides becoming pastor of the East Northfield Church, Scofield took the presidency of the East Northfield and Mount Hermon schools. It was about that time that he and the writer of this sketch met for the first time. He invited me, in 1900, to supply his pulpit in East Northfield, which I was glad to do; addressing three audiences on the Lords Day. Scofields ministry in East Northfield lasted seven years. The church in Dallas urged him to return, which he did during the last nonth of 1902. The founding of the Central American Mission by him, and the further successes of his mimstry we are obliged to pass by. It was a short time after his return to the Dallas church that he invited me to hold a weeks Bible conference there. Gods gracious blessing rested upon the ministry.
THE BEGNNING AND DEVELOPMENT
OF MODERN, NATION-WIDE BIBLE STUDY
THE study of tue Bible, the Holy Word of God, is one of the great essential needs of the human race. Apart from the Book of books, the full knowledge of what the race needs to know above everything else is impossible. The Bible is the only supernatural Book in existence. In its sacred pages God reveals Himself, makes known His attributes in direct revelation through human inspired penmen and also sacred history. In its pages the history of man, as the offspring of God, by which we mean Gods direct creation in the image of God, mans alienation from his Maker and the degradation and ruin into which it plunged humanity, all is made known in the bible. And how marvellously is the story of redemption in and through the Son of God told out from Genesis, the book of the beginning, ti the final capstone, the Book of Revelation, with its visions of consummation!
In this story of redemption the holy, the righteous God reveals Himself as the God of love and grace, who reaches down into the depths in which He finds His creature, and through which He is enabled to redeem and to lift fallen man into the eternal glory of Himself. How true that in the Bible we find the highest knowledge which man is capable of receiving, the knowledge which any kind of research is unable to attain! All human needs are met and satisfied in this sacred volume. Without specifying all the truths made known in the Word of God, we state once more what has been stated before: the Bible gives an unerring forecast of the future. It must be so, for its Author, God the Holy Spirit, knows the end from the beginning.
Now, what are the results in the so-called religious world, if this Book and the knowledge it offers are not accepted; if it is neglected, belittled, or rejected, it all spells disaster. Take, for instance, a religious body claiming to be Christian, and that body withholds from its membership the reading and the study of the Word of God, takes the Word of God away from its adherents. In such a case that religious organization loses its right to call itself Christian, and becomes the mother of spiritual ignorance.
Take another attitude towards the Bible, only too evident in many parts of Christendom. Here the Bible is treated as common literature; its inspiration is totally denied; the Book is full of contradictions; it clashes with what man terms science, and it is out of date. To what does it lead? Such an attitude leads not into light but into darkness. The man who denies the absolute authority of the Bible has stepped on the road of atheism - no God, no Christ, and no hope. Countless thousands who call themselves religious are marching today along this dangerous road, the highway toward the eternal loss of the soul.
But there is another side. Give the Bible the place it deserves. Believe in it to the end. Bow before it as your highest authority. Love and obey it. The consequences will be untold spiritual blessings. This is clearly marked in the history of the Church. All the great revivals of the past, especially the Reformation movements, originated in a wholehearted return to the Bible and its prayerful study. As stated above, many in Christendom have turned away from the Bible. The enemies of the Bible are more numerous today than they ever were. But look at the brighter side. The Bible, as a book, holds the place of the best seller still, and in spite of all the enemies of the Bible, the Bible is more read than ever before. There is more intelligent and spiritual Bible study going on in our country than at any other time. Bible conferences are held in probably every state of the Union, and individual churches, in large and increasing numbers, are devoting time to weekly Bible study. Many towns have inter-denominational monthly meetings, and a vast number of sound books of Bible exposition are circulated from one end of the country to the other.
And so the question arises, When and how did this remarkable interest in Bible study originate, the movement which has brought such great blessing from coast to coast, not to speak of its influence through foreign missionaries in many heathen lands?
During the summer of 1875, a few brethren met by agreement in a cottage, not far from Chicago, to spend a week in Bible study. There were only six, among them Dr. Nathaniel West, Dr. James H. Brookes, Dr. W. J. Erdman, and Dr. H. M. Parsons. The blessing they received during that week was so great they decided to meet again the next summer. The same brethren, with several others, among them Dr. A. J. Gordon, of Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston, gathered in fellowship at Swampscott, Mass. They had difficulty in obtaining a suitable meeting place, but finally they secured the chapel of the Congregational church. This was during August, 1876. It became known that there were Bible study meetings going on in the chapel, and on the next day the chapel was crowded. Once more there was much blessing, and the brethren were greatly encouraged. The emphasis in these services was put on the return of our Lord, "looking for that blessed hope." As this great truth was but little known and preached, it attracted much attention.
The meetings during the summer of 1877 were held in Watkins Glen, N. Y., with far greater attendance. Then followed the meetings during the month of June in 1878, 1879, and 1880. They were held in Clifton Springs, N. Y., where a well- known sanitarium was located, under the leadership of Henry Foster, M.D., a Bible student. A commodious tent was pitched on the grounds. New teachers were heard, among them Evangelist George Needham. Year after year there was an increased attendance and corresponding blessing.
And now, before we follow the increasing activities of these beloved brethren of fragrant memory, and show how they became instruments through whom the knowledge of the Word of God, especially prophecy, was encouraged and disseminated, we call attention to a great conference which was held in New York during the late fall of 1878, and in which most of these brethren participated. As far as we know, it was the first prophetic conference held in the United States. The date was October 30 to November 1, 1878. The place where the conference convened was the Holy Trinity Church (Protestant Episcopal), New York, Dr. S. H. Tyng, Jr., rector. The conference was suggested and arranged by Dr. Nathaniel West. who was at that time pastor of a Presbyterian church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the leading addresses were published by him in a large volume. The call to meet for a clear-cut, biblical testimony of the preniillennial coming of our Lord was endorsed by a large number of ministers of the gospel, professors, and several hishops. All denominations were represented - Protestant Episcopal, Reformed Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, United Presbyterian, Reformed, Dutch Reformed, and Methodist. Among the signers we find the name of the great merchant John Wanamaker, of Philadelphia. We cannot print all the names attached to the call, but mention a few who became prominent teachers during the latter part of the nineteenth century: Professor S. H. Kellogg; Joseph A. Seiss, Lutheran, well known by his exposition of the Book of Revelation; George F. Pentecost, evangelist; W. R. Nicholson, bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church; S. H. Tyng, rector emeritus, St. George Episcopal Church, New York; J. M. Stifler, later professor in Crozer Seminary; W. E. Blackstone, author of Jesus Is Corning; James H. Brookes; George C. Needham; H. L. Hastings, editor of The Christian, Boston, Mass.; A. J. Gordon; Dr. Duffield, professor in Princeton, N. J.; H. M. Parsons, Presbyterian; and Professor Moorehead, of Xenia, Ohio.
The call issued made prominent the neglect of prophecy into which the Church had drifted and suffered on account of it. We quote:
"When from any cause some vital doctrine of Gods Word has fallen into neglect or suffered contraction and reproach, it becomes the serious duty of those who hold it, not only strongly and constantly to reaffirm it, but to seek by all means in their power to bring back the Lords people to its apprehension and acceptance. The precious doctrine of Christs second personal appearing has, we are forced to believe, long lain under such neglect and misapprehension."
Here is a concluding paragraph:
"In view of these facts, it has seemed desirable that those who hold to the personal, premillennial advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who are looking for that blessed hope, should meet together in conference, as our honored brethren in England have recently done, to set forth on clear terms the grounds of their hope, to give mutual encouragement in the maintenance of what they believe to be a most vital truth for the present times, and in response to our Lords Behold, I come quickly, to voice the answer by their prayers and hymns and testimony, Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
The conference was greatly blessed, and the few brethren who started in such a small way in 1875 were much encouraged. They felt the need of branching out, assured that their continued testimony of Christs return would have the full approval of the Head of the Church and the sanction of the Holy Spirit.
After having met for three years in Clifton Springs, N. Y., we find these brethren in 1881 at Old Orchard on the coast of Maine. Here they rejoiced in a still greater attendance. In July, 1882, they gathered at another choice spot. It was on Mackinac Island, at the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This was done to make it easier for Canadian Christians and those living in the Northwest to attend.
A number of wealthy men in Chicago, who were in sympathy with the brethren and their much needed message, offered to them a beautiful tract of land and also promised to erect a number of buildings, such as a large assembly hall, a hotel, cottages for the teachers, etc. It was a tempting offer. They hesitated to accept; they feared Mackinac Island was too far from the larger cities, difficult to reach; in fact, the attendance there had disappointed them. After much prayer and thought they declined the offer.
Perhaps the most marked feature of the conference of 1882 was the glowing public announcement by Dr. Arthur T. Pierson, who was greatly admired and beloved by the brethren, that, having become thoroughly convinced of our Lords personal and premillennial return, he would maintain and proclaim it as the truth of God. And so he did. Dr. Pierson and the writer were frequently together in conferences in Boston, Brooklyn, Detroit, Hamilton, Ont., etc. I heard him often bear an eloquent testimony to the hope of the Lords coming.
In 1883 the brethren, who by now had secured quite a constituency, met for the first time at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. This charming place is located some fourteen miles below the great falls of the Niagara River. It became from then on their permanent meeting place. Without any blare of trumpets, or of claims of greatness, or statement, as is done so often, of being the foremost Bible teachers of the world, they adhered to the simple designation "Believers Meeting for Bible Study." Here they met every year 1883-1897. The leading teachers were James H. Brookes, of St. Louis, Mo., pastor and editor of The Truth; A. J. Gordon, Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston, Mass., editor of The Watchword; W. J. Erdman; Albert Erdman; George C. Needham; A. C. Dixon; L. W. Munhall, of Philadelphia; H. M. Parsons; Canon Howitt; E. P. Marvin; Hudson Taylor, China Inland Mission; J. M. Stifler; Robert Cameron; W. H. Moorehead; Arthur T. Pierson, and others. Dr. Scofield also appeared on the program and some of his addresses were printed in the conference reports.
In 1898 the conference, widely known now as the "Niagara Bible Conference; Believers Meeting for Bible Study," abandoned Niagara-on-the- Lake and met instead at Point Chautauqua at the northern end of the lake near Jamestown, N. Y. The writer accepted an invitation and gave four addresses and Bible studies. He was well acquainted with the teachers present, for he had met with most of them for several years in Bible conferences in different parts of the country. The next and final meeting of these brethren was held at Asbury Park, N. J. The attendance was rather small. In these final meetings two brethren were greatly missed, Dr. Brookes and Dr. Gordon, both of whom had been called Home. Dr. Brookes was especially missed and his departure was quite a factor in terminating the conferences. But there was a more important reason, about which we shall hear later.
REMARKABLE PROVIDENTIAL LEADINGS AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEW TESTIMONY
THE writer, attending the Point Chautauqua Conference, met there for the first time a man and his wife from New York. Francis Emory Fitch was the head of a printing establishment and the printer of the New York Stock Exchange lists. He was a member of the so-called Plymouth Brethren, a body of believers who probably have had as large a share in bearing testimony for the faith delivered unto the saints and also prophecy as any other body during the nineteenth century. Mr. Fitch knew Dr. Scofield. More than that, he had become the printer and publisher of the Bible Correspondence Course which Dr. Scofield had begun several years before, but which was then still uncompleted. During the fall of 1898 the Fitch Company started printing "Our Hope", which the writer began to publish in 1894. It was in September, just after my return from the Point Chautauqua meetings, that Mr. Fitch came to me with a proposition. For a number of years a gifted Bible teacher, Malachi Taylor; a Baptist preacher, had held noonday meetings for Bible study in the financial district of New York. They were held in a building known as Temple Court. Mr. Taylor had gone home a short time before, but the supporters of these noon-day meetings felt that they should be continued. Different brethren were used as supplies. Among them was Dr. Arthur T. Pierson, who lived in Brooklyn; and Dr. Scofield also spoke there once. Mr. Fitch came to the writer with the invitation to supply these noonday services regularly. I accepted the invitation.
After our first meeting Mr. Fitch introduced the writer to certain brethren who supported the meetings. The first was a young real estate broker, Alwyn Ball, Jr., a member of the large and successful firm of Southack & Ball. It was the beginning of the skyscraper days and Mr. Ball had distinguished himself in some large transactions. Our first meeting resulted in a lifelong friendship. The next man I met was John T. Pirie, owner and New York representative of the Chicago department store, which still functions under the name of Carson, Pine, Scott and Company. Another friendship was started. I had several years of blessing in these Temple Court meetings.
As stated before, on the invitation of Dr. Scofield, whom I met frequently, I preached in East Northfield, Mass., on April 19, 1900. Later in the same year we met in New York to talk over some important matters, which consisted mostly in reviewing the failure and discontinuance of the Niagara Bible Conference movement, and the great need in the beginning of another century, of keeping such a testimony alive, especially to bear witness to "that blessed hope." How it could be brought about was not clear to us, but we both prayed earnestly for divine guidance. Our friend at that meeting made a suggestion.
"Boston is within a short distance of East Northfield. What do you think of having several daysmeetings there in the beginning of next year (1901)? They certainly need a strong evangelical testimony. I believe if you write to the Park Street Congregational Church they will open their doors. You and I have many friends there. It would be a good starting point."
What Dr. Scofield suggested was done the same week. The lecture room of the prominent Boston church was secured. This church was once known as Brimstone Corner, because some of the pastors who ministered there did not hesitate to preach, as Jonathan Edwards did, hell and damnation. The date of our conference was February 12, 13, 14.
We advertised this first Boston conference through Our Hope and in some of the Boston papers. Our new friends, Mr. and Mrs. Francis E. Fitch, Mr. and Mrs. Alwyn Ball, Jr., came from New York. Dr. Scofield arrived the same day from East Northfield, as did Evangelist John Carnie, who had a sweet and winning way in preaching the gospel. There was splendid attendance and, better still, great spiritual blessing. Dr. Scofield helped many by his excellent Bible expositions. Before this Boston conference closed, it was decided to hold, in the same place, a monthly meeting for Bible study. These monthly meetings, with the yearly conferences of several days, were continued for more than thirty-two years by the writer in the Park Street Church, with the exception of several years when they were held in other Boston churches. They were mightily used of God. Dr. Scofield was frequently a speaker in these monthly and yearly conferences.
It was during the first conference, in 1901, that Dr. Scofield, F. E. Fitch, Alwyn Ball, Jr., and the writer conversed about perpetuating the testimony of the extinct Niagara Conference in a new summer Bible conference. We all agreed with Dr. Scofield that plans should be made at once. The list of subscribers to The Truth, many of whom supported the Niagara Conference, had been handed to the writer by Dr. Brookes before his home call, in order to help Our Hope, and Dr. Scofield thought that not a few of the attendants of Niagara could be interested in a new movement. Dr. Scofield also revealed then the chief reason why the Niagara Conference had been broken up. It was the following.
In the interpretation of prophecy, the teachers of the conference closely adhered to an important distinction taught in the Bible. They distinguishcd between the coming of the Lord for His saints and the coming of the Lord with His saints. They taught that the present age would end with the Great Tribulation, but that the true Church would not have a share in that judgment period, but the Lord would gather His redeemed ones to Himself before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Toward the end of the Niagara meetings several of the teachers, influenced by one man, who was considered an outstanding biblical and ecclesiastical scholar (as he undoubtedly was), began to abandon this distinction and branded it a mere invention. One of them went so far as to say that the teaching that the Lord would remove His true Church before the predicted Great Tribulation judgment, and that so far as His coming for His saints is concerned it might occur at any moment, originated in the days of Edward Irving and his spurious gift of tongues revival. And so the blessed hope of the imminent coming of the Lord was more or less charged to the influence of subtle demons.
This outrageous charge produced a bitter spirit of controversy. Dr. James H. Brookes in his testimony, both oral and written, was the strongest advocate of the imminency of the coming of the Lord, and defended it loyally. But his voice was hushed and his able pen was no longer active. The results of this deplorable disunity soon came to the front. A few of the affected teachers did not want to commit themselves on either side of the question and decided to give the teaching on the return of the Lord a less prominent place.
After a short time they became altogether silent. Others supported those who attacked the teachings for which Niagara had stood so firmly. But some continued to uphold the truth, among them Dr. C. I. Scofield. He had been too firmly established in it by his first teacher, Dr. James H. Brookes.
About the time the Niagara conference was abandoned, when the two monthlies, The Truth, edited by Dr. Brookes, and The Watchword, by A. J. Gordon, were no longer published, because Brookes and Gordon were no longer here, a certain preacher, who was one of the bitter opponents of the imminent coming of the Lord, undertook to issue a new monthly. He called it Watchword and Truth. He continued in his attacks, and one month he published a statement which shocked both Dr. Scofield and the writer. It was a claim that before Dr. Brookes and Dr. Gordon died, they had changed their minds and had come over to his side.
There was not a word of truth in it. Dr. Brookes, a short time before his death, had gone to Asheville, N. C., for his health. He was much troubled with shortness of breath and had ta return to his home. A brother went with him. He told us that he sat up with Dr. Brookes the entire night, and that again and again his brother said, "Brother Garret, perhaps the Lord will come before I die, for it is written, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15: 51, 52) Mrs. Brookes also bore witness that her beloved husband, right up to the time of his death, held unswerving faith in the imminent coming of the Lord. The same testimony was given by Mrs. Gordon, that her husband had never changed his attitude.
Encouraged by Dr. Scofield, the writer challenged Watchword and Truth on these claims, and defended the testimony of Dr. Brookes and Dr. Gordon, demanding evidence that they had given up the imminent coming of the Lord. The result was that the good brother began to malign the writer, attacked his person and motive. Dr. Scofield then gave us advice.
"Do not answer him as far as personalities are concerned. Put it into the hands of the Lord. But I have written for you an editorial paragraph which I hope you will publish in the next issue of Our Hope. Do not mention my name." We quote this illuminating contribution of Dr. Scofield as it appeared in Our Hope (February, 1902):
"To the personal reference we shall, of course, make no reply. We cannot, however, in the interests of truth, allow the statement to stand that until the days of Edward Irving, who was excluded from the Presbyterian Church for heresy, no one ever heard of this "coming for" and "coming with His saints." As a matter of fact, Irving was excluded, not for heresy in doctrine, but for his views on church order. That, however, is a small matter.
"If the editor of Watchword and Truth will turn to Zechariah 14: 4, 5, he will learn of a statement concerning the coming with which considerably antedates Edward Irving. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mOunt of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."
"And if, further, he will turn to 1 Thessalonians 4: 15- 18, he will find a revelation concerning the coming for His saints, later indeed than Zechariah by six hundred years, but still about eighteen hundred years before Edward Irving.
"Furthermore, since Watchword and Truth claims to be the perpetuation of the two journals so long conducted by those men of fragrant memory, Dr. James H. Brookes and Dr. A. J. Gordon, if the present editor will turn to the writings of these two great exegetes, he will find abundant testimony that they, too, knew of the coming of the Lord for His saints and with His saints."
There was a most satisfactory result of this controversy. It added to the mailing lists of Our Hope hundreds of new subscribers, many of whom had followed the controversy in connection with the Niagara Conference. Then came urgent calls to Dr. Scofield and the writer to start somewhere in the East a new Bible study centre, to prepetuate the testimony which had been silenced. In our correspondence with Dr. Scofield this need was constantly emphasized. Our desire was shared by Francis E. Fitch and Alwyn Ball, Jr.; John T. Pine heard of it also. Mr. Pine owned a summer estate in Sea Cliff, L. I. It is a beautiful spot located on Hempstead Harbour, on the north shore of the island. Mr. Pine also was the owner of a small park in the center of the village of Sea Cliff. Then came his gracious invitation, "Come to Sea Cliff and use this park for a summer Bible conference." After consulting the different brethren and friends, all agreed to inaugurate during the summer of 1901 a gathering to be known as the Sea Cliff Bible Conference. Mr. Pine did more than give us a fine, centrally located meeting place. He provided a large tent seating some six hundred. It had a substantial wooden floor and was electrically lighted. And so, after prayer and much deliberation, a call was sent out for the first Sea Cliff Bible Conference, July 23 to July 29, 1901. We were favoured with excellent weather. The attendance was surprisingly large. The registry showed that Christian friends had come from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois, Texas, and the province of Ontario.
The teachers, besides Dr. Scofield and the writer, were F. C. Jennings; George L. Alrich, who at that time was pastor of the Reformed Episcopal Church in Scranton, Pa.; John James, a very able constructive Bible teacher; and Evangelist Carnie.
Dr. Scofleld gave four masterly addresses on "Where Faith Sees Christ." These have been published in many editions in an attractive booklet, and still bring blessing to all who read them. Mr. Jennings, another able teacher of the Word of God, delivered four most helpful addresses on Romans. George L. Alrich spoke on the Holy Spirit, and the writers lectures were devoted to prophecy. These were outline studies of Amos and Habakkuk; Romans 11; and two addresses on the return of our Lord. Equally helpful were the messages of John James and John C. Carnie.
From start to finish this first conference was swept by waves of blessing. The mighty seal of Gods presence and His approval rested upon every service. The aim of every speaker was to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, and so the Holy Spirit, who is here on earth to glorify Christ, manifested His power. The testimony of all who were present was, "It was good for us to be here." All the addresses and Bible studies were stenographically reported, and were later published in a special edition of about a hundred pages in the September (1901) issue of Our Hope, printed in an edition of 15,000 copies. Mr. Fitch paid almost the entire bill. As to the finances of the conference, not much was said in public, nor were appeals made. Only two offerings were taken, which amounted to approximately $1,200. Needless to say, our friend Dr. Scofield was more than elated over this remarkable conference. More than once he said that it was by far the best conference he had attended anywhere.
One night, about the middle of that week, Dr. Scofield suggested, after the evening service, that we take a stroll along the shore. It was a beautiful night. Our walk along the shore of the Sound lasted until midnight. For the first time he mentioned the plan of producing a Reference Bible, and outlined the method he had in mind. He said he had thought of it for many years and had spoken to others about it, but had not received much encouragement. The scheme came to him in the early days of his ministry in Dallas, and later, during the balmy days of the Niagara Conferences he had submitted his desire to a number of brethren, who all approved of it, but nothing came of it. He expressed the hope that the new beginning and this new testimony in Sea Cliff might open the way to bring about the publication of such a Bible with references and copious footnotes.
One difficulty in his mind seemed to be the financial side of things. Like most Bible teachers, he was dependent for support on the ministry rendered. He could not do the work as editor of such an undertaking and also travel about to teach in Bible conferences. If he began the work on the Reference Bible he would need some financial backing which would enable him to devote the greater part of his time to that object. The writer then offered to speak at once about this difficulty to a number of brethren and sound them out on this matter.
Dr. Scofield was a man of prayer and frequently used the phrase, "We must pray about it." And so he said, "Let us join together in prayer, asking the Lords guidance and help; if it is His will, it will now come to pass." Then came the second Sea Cliff Bible Conference, held from July 29 to August 4, 1902. The attendance showed a fine increase, and there was another outpouring of spiritual blessing. W. W. Fereday, of Great Britain, a splendid Bible expositor, was heard in this conference. Two years later, at the fourth conference, the widely-known teacher and author Walter Scott, of Bristol, UK, gave a number of addresses. Dr. Scofield met him then for the first time. Again Dr. Scofield and the writer took several walks and, as was to be expected, the chief topic of our conversation was the planned Reference Bible. Dr. Scofield expressed his positive opinion that the time for definite action had come, that after much prayer he had decided to start the work at once. He would resign his position in East Northfield, as he did, and return to Dallas, where he would be able to give more time to this undertaking. After a second walk along the shore of Long Island Sound he consented that the writer should speak to a number of brethren about the publication of the Reference Bible and sound them out as to their support.
Our friend Alwyn Ball, Jr., was the first one approached. The many friends of this good brother, now with the Lord, will remember how never finish such a work." I told Dr. Scofield what Mr. Fitch had said, and he cheerfully acknowledged his fault. After our assuring Mr. Fitch that Dr. Scofield would stick to the task before him, Mr. Fitch likewise fell in line with the other brethren, heartily endorsing the proposed Bible.
GO TO PART TWO
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