I never met the fellow. (Actually, I never met his grandson – my grandfather – who perished before I was born.) I love and respect him, and especially the fact that great-great-grandfather Alfred Ellmore felt a keen calling to preach from a young age.
But I would not agree with all of his beliefs.
For someone known as a great Restoration preacher – someone who was pierced by the older preacher Ben Franklin’s personal advice to him to “do all the good you can and no harm” – I think he did harm.
His position on Sunday schools: “It is another society and one of which the New Testament knows nothing. … transfer the Sunday school into the worship and give to every child who is able to read a New Testament … have the bishops and others who are safe teachers to spend fifty minutes, more or less, upon the lesson: continue the worship without intermission to the close.”
His position on mission organizations: “The Lord made the church for this work.”
His position on those baptized, at any age, in any other church: “[they should] be reimmersed for the remission of their sins.”
His position on churches which worship with instruments of music: “If there were but one congregation in the United States which worshiped as did the primitive church, I would hold my membership in that church. And were I so remote from it that I could but seldom, or never meet with it, I would send [it] my fellowship, and my Christian greeting, and do my praying at home. And if there were no such church, and I were a preacher, I would go immediately to work and create such a body.”
His newspaper’s mission (The Gospel Echo, merged with the Gospel Advocate in 1901): “… there are, we believe, two things which have been sadly neglected, viz.: the supporting of true ministers, and the cleansing of the sanctuary.”
The title of his first book, 1877: “Which Is the True Church?.”
I have no doubt in mind or heart that Alfred Ellmore’s mind and heart were zealous for the furtherance of God’s truth. I disagree with many of his perceptions of it.
I believe he was, in many ways, typical of the gospel preachers of his day. I’m afraid that is why I read so much rancor in the writings of their various publications.
If you’re of an eastern philosophy, you might be thinking “Whew! That’s a lot of negative family karma to bear toward the next life,” and I would agree with you.
At the same time, I am certain that Alfred brought many people to know Jesus Christ, and His is the eastern philosophy to which I have given my life.
Whatever else he believed or taught or wrote or did, Alfred Ellmore could also write: “A majority rule is not the rule of Christ. Christ and no man rules in all things in His church.”
His poetry was soulful and heartfelt:
Pray, earnest soul, what hast thou done
In the battle and the strife,
This short expanse from sun to sun,
To scatter seeds of life?
The poor have trod the stony road,
The rich for wealth have striven,
But who has sought to ease their load,
By pointing such to heaven?
– the last stanza of “Sunset” from his Maple Valley Poems
And one of his “Wheat and Chaff” columns from the journal Word and Work wistfully observes: “I suppose every matured Christian in looking back over his life sees somethings he did, which if presented now he would not do.”
Not long ago I observed on salguod’s blog that
“We’re probably always (in this life) going to have … people with vision, charisma, energy and genuine dedication who will try to make good ideas into doctrine instead of just letting them be good ideas.
Maybe they are part of God’s plan for encouraging us to study, think, meditate and pray for ourselves about what’s best; to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”
I seem to remember that Paul was grateful even for those who preached from selfish motives because Christ was preached.
I’m going to have to think about that again for a while!”
I have chewed on it a little since then.
I’m grateful for Alfred Ellmore.
He also did a lot of good.