This is a transcription of a microfilm copy of the article. The microfilm on a CD is dark in many places and blurred in others. It is posted as it seems to be an important document. Further attempts will be made to decipher the blurred segments. - Jim Duvall.
The Charges Against J. R. Graves
By J. M. Pendleton
The Tennessee Baptist paper, 1858
The First Baptist Church in Nashville, as indicated in our last issue, has suffered charges to be brought against the Senior Editor of this paper. They are serious charges, but the specifications under them are frivolous, childish, ridiculous. "Grossly immoral and unchristian conduct" is charged; and what has been before the world for months in the Tennessee Baptist and Southern Baptist Register is rolled[?] in for proof. The specifications, if I understand them, are not as definite as they ought to be made. But let this pass.
It is said the Pastor, Elder R. B. C. Howell has been slandered. This is to be established by what the Senior Editor has published of Elder Howell's connection with the Southern Baptist Sunday School Union, and, I suppose by the mention made of him in the Baptist Register. I have looked through the Register, (the last one published,) and I see nothing that can be construed into slander, except that "Elder R. B. C. Howell, of Virginia," is named as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and "D.D." is not appended. I think Romanists would regard this as a venial and not a mortal sin. What the First Baptist Church will decide about it I do not know. That Elder Howell has an exalted appreciation of the dignity, greatness and glory of the title, is manifest: for he has been known to ask a familiar acquaintance to inquire at a Post Office "for a letter for Dr. Howell." What has been published about the Sunday School Union, formed in October last, is well known. There is no slander in it. Do those who have voted to entertain charges made against J. R. Graves know what slander means? It is not merely a false report adapted to injure the reputation of another, but that report must be maliciously uttered. By the way, if those who framed the charges had been a little more intelligent they would have said libel as the [blurred] referred to are in writing. Now, I ask any man of common or uncommon sense, if he believes that J. R. Graves has maliciously published falsehood of Elder Howell when he has said more than once in his paper that his [blurred] were open to Elder H.? - that if his views were misstated Elder H. was invited to place himself right! Strange slander this! The slandered man invited by the slanderer to repel the slanderer as effectually and as extensively as it had been circulated! He who can see slander in what J. R. G. has published of Elder H. must have keen optics I write [blurred], because I have learned within the last twenty-four hours that one of Graves's enemies has said: "We [2 words blurred] any thing against him, [7 words blurred]." This I doubt not, is the feeling of a majority of the members of the first Church. From all I can learn, they are very well drilled, and the rumor is that the Pastor has said, "It will cost him just forty members to exclude Graves."
The whole proceeding in the church, so far as the Pastor and J. R. Graves are concerned, is unscriptural and perfectly out of order. I am willing for every Baptist in the nation to decide upon it. If I had ever such reputation (I have, however, but little) for a knowledge of matters of discipline, I would willingly rest it on this point - that the action of the church is contrary to the New Testament. If J. R. Graves had brought the matter of difficulty between the Pastor and himself before the church there would have been some propriety in it, because he had sought a personal interview with the Pastor which was not granted. But for the Pastor having refused to have a personal interview, to bring the matter into the church is wholly unjustifiable. There is no excuse for it.
But, it is said, the Pastor returned unopened the letter sent him by J. R. G., by which an [2 words blurred] was [blurred], and therefore did not know its contents. Let an [blurred] this view of the subject. J. R. G., during the protracted meeting last spring, was at church on Saturday night, and the Pastor was not there. Three of the Deacons solicited Graves to conduct the meeting. He declined. Afterward Dr. C. K. Winston entered the house and opened the exercises of the meeting, when upon seeing Graves in the congregation, he went to him and asked him to take part in the services. Graves declined no longer. He talked, I think, to some serious purpose, made some remarks about the general spirit of revival in our cities, and engaged in prayer. Next day he received a note from the Pastor, dated Saturday night, 11 o'clock. In that note the Pastor said that he had just learned that he (G) had taken advantage of his (Howell's) absence, and had taken a prominent part in the meeting of that night. He virtually forbade him doing the like again. So popish[?] a note was perhaps never before written by a Baptist preacher. True, it was marked "strictly private," which added insult to injury. To this note Graves replied, asking a personal interview. The letter was returned unopened. This was an assumption of spurious dignity. Neither Elder Howell nor Dr. Howell own claims [for] the right to send a written communication to say [word blurred] and treat a reply to it with so much contempt as not to read it.
If, then, the Pastor did not know that J. R. G. desired a personal interview, his ignorance was culpable. He might have known, and he did know; for information was also sent him in another way. When Christ, in the xviii [18th chapter] of Matthew, gave directions about settling difficulties among brethren, he made no exceptions in favor of Doctors of Divinity. They are under the same law which governs the humblest church member.
It is a little remarkable that the charges against Bro. Graves were preferred in his absence. But no more at present.
[From the Tennessee Baptist, Nashville, September 18, 1858, p. 2, microfilm CD edition. Source location from Thomas White, Cedarville Univerity, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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