I would like to give you a free book, upon the condition that you pay for it. Not a great deal, it sounds like, but you will not be paying money; you will only have to pay attention to my reactions to the book as I share it. Oh, I guess you could ignore them, and just read the indented parts written by the original author. My feelings won’t be hurt.
Because the original author was my great-great grandfather Alfred Ellmore, and the full name of the tiny volume (7-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ x 3/4″) is Sermons, Reminiscences Both Pleasant and Sad, and Silver Chimes. (That was too long to appear on the binding.) The copyright, now long expired under existing law, is 1914 by G.H.P. Showalter for Firm Foundation Publishing House, Austin, Texas.
I have blogged about him before (link above), but that was before I recently acquired this work of his (the first I’ve been able to read in its entirety) via the seller’s market at Amazon.com. I want to comment on this quaint work as it has some ideas worthy of highlighting and merit, as well as some which deserve further examination and even criticism. I’d like for my comments to take the form of a conversation with my dear ancestor. My feelings toward him are unchanged, though some of my suspicions have been confirmed and I do not agree with everything that he bequeathed me in ink: I love and respect the gentleman as a brother in Christ as well as an accomplished ancestor.
If you received a publication from Pepperdine University called Pacific Church News this week, it likely featured a smaller reproduction of the D.S. Ligon Portraiture of Restoration preachers from the early part of the twentieth century, and Alfred’s picture is among those first 196 and subsequent 260 gospel preachers from Churches of Christ. (Also, next to him, his son/my great grandfather Will Ellmore. Early versions of the print misspelled their last names, which were later corrected to include the extra “L” that Alfred — according to legend — added.)
But I will let you get acquainted with him through the geniality of his publisher:
To incline the erring into paths of rectitude, to impel wayward and sinful humanity to lives of righteousness in the sight of God, and to inspire all men — the good and pure, the bad and those who are out of the way — to stronger faith and brighter hope and nobler living, and to do this in kindness, in patience and in love is a service well worth the time and effort and thought of any one. Alfred Ellmore has spent almost a half century in the gracious and exalting work of turning souls to Christ. In this he has been remarkably successful. Few men among the disciples of Christ have baptized more people. His strong faith, deep and abiding piety and fervent love have carried him through many vicissitudes and have borne him up through seasons of adversity. Sunshine and sorrow have been blended in his life. He has passed through the deep dark vales of adversity and has emerged a stronger, greater, better man.
The following pages represent the rich gleanings of a long life and are offered the public on their own merit. The author brings forth from memory’s treasures many interesting lessons from the recent past. His vivid recitals of what he has seen and heard and learned will help others who are younger and who must pass through similar experiences. His sermons are strong, clear and convincing — they are soul-winners. The author is blessed in contemplation of that sweet promise: “They that shall be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” [Daniel 12:3]
Austin, Texas, December 1, 1914
I take Bro. Showalter at his word; that my great-great grandpa Alfred did indeed turn souls to Christ – though I have to wonder as I read the work that follows how many were turned to Christ or simply to the Church or to the Bible or to a hopefully-logical argument or a plan. I cannot judge this, so I will not.
You’ll immediately perceive from this introduction the quaint language of the works of this era — this one now going on 100 years old — and later, you’ll catch on to a frequent reliance on what at least sounds logical and a rather argumentative style of presentation. Oh, and a passionate manner of presenting a plea to obey.
Sermons and Chimes is divided into the three sections betrayed by the (long) title, and I will attempt to present them here in that order. “Sermons” and “Reminiscences” are self-explanatory; the “Chimes” are simply newspaper-column material which, I suspect, were used in the publications for which Alfred wrote, including the Gospel Advocate. They were the Twitter tweets and Facebook posts of more than a century ago.
I have elected to let typographic errors stand as printed, except where obvious omissions and other errors obscure the meaning; those will stand in [brackets] — like the added Bible citation above. References which have become unclear by the march of years I will attempt to link to explanatory material on other sites.
So, over the next few weeks, enjoy a revealing look backward — and enjoy your free book!
Alfred Ellmore occupies the twenty-ninth chapter of V. Glenn McCoy’s tome Return to the Old Paths, readable online at this link.