Preface to the Biography of Elijah Hanks
The following biography of Elijah Hanks was published originally by his church in Tennessee. It was republished by a newspaper in Springfield, Mo in the 1920s. A copy was sent to me in about 1985 by one of his descendants in the Springfield area. This biography was the basis of an article I wrote in the “Lincoln Herald” that was published in August of 1990. According to the theory of Adin Baber, Elijah Hanks was a first cousin of Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. Baber’s theory is not beyond doubt, but it is interesting that there are some similarities between Elijah Hanks and Abraham Lincoln, both in physical appearance and in personality.
Elijah Hanks was the son of Moses and Agatha (Dodson) Hanks. Many of his descendants moved to the Springfield, Missouri area and to other parts of Tennessee and to Texas. The ancestors of Moses Hanks can be traced back to North Farnham Parish in Virginia and to Virginia’s “Northern Neck”.
August 5, 1999
A Biography of Elijah Hanks
At a meeting of the Ministers and Deacons of the Judson Association, held with the Knob Creek Church, Maury County, Tennessee, on Saturday before the fifth Sabbath of May, 1870, the writer of the following Memoir was requested to prepare, and have published, a short biography of the life and labors of Elder ELIJAH HANKS, including also an Essay on the Extent of the Atonement, the last production of that venerable man of God. The writer was exceedingly anxious that the doctrines preached and taught by that distinguished divine, enabling him, under God, to accomplish so much good for the “Master”, should be preserved in a durable form. In the discharge of the duty assumed, he has collected all the notes, manuscripts, and papers within his reach, out of which he has collated and thrown together, in the following pages, any incidents and facts, in connection with his life and labors, together with such other information in reference to Elder Hank’s preaching, as he believed would be of invaluable service to all the lovers of Jesus; to all of whom, and especially to the members of the churches forming the Judson Association, the author affectionately dedicates this work, prayerfully hoping it may prove a source of consolation, and an humble instrument of accomplishing much good.
January, 1872 S. C. EVINS
MEMOIR OF ELDER ELIJAH HANKS
ELDER ELIJAH HANKS, the subject of this memoir, was born on the 12th of December, 1793, in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. His parents were devoted Christians, and members of the Baptist Church. They removed to Kentucky when he was but five years old, where they remained for several years. In the year 1810 they came to Tennessee, when it was but little more than a wilderness, and one vast canebrake. The Red-men had scarcely left his hunting-grounds when the Baptists planted the standard of the Cross, and erected rude cabins in which to worship the God of our fathers. In those early days, the facilities of acquiring an education, in Tennessee, were very few; consequently Elder Hanks, like most of the boys raised in that day, obtained but a limited education; but, being possessed of an indomitable will, and a strong constitution, he went forth in his daily labor, aiding his older brothers in subduing the forests, and making way for the plowshare. . Thus he grew up to manhood, inured to hard and incessant toil, and hardly possessing the rudiments of a common English education. He was taught, however, to respect the worship of God, and although he grew up irreligious, he was quite moral in his habits, and regular in his attendance at church on Sundays. At the early age of nineteen years he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Wolverton, who proved a helpmeet indeed in all his arduous labors, till God took her home. They commenced the journey of married life together, neither of them being professors of religion. Like thousands of others, with them the family alter was entirely neglected. But God had a work for them to do though as yet they knew it not. Elder Hanks was endowed with an untiring energy, and such A powerful constitution that, in after life, he was enabled to do an amount of labor, both physical and mental, that seems almost incredible. But few men possessed the power of endurance that he did. Thus much information of the early life of Elder Hanks we have gleaned from reliable sources.
Chapter II. In this chapter we give the manner of, and some of the circumstances attending, his conversion and call to the work of the Ministry, as related by himself to the author of this memoir.
“My impressions, at times, were very strong to call on sinners to come to the Savior; but, when I thought of my inability for this important work, I would shrink from the cross. Being almost entirely without an education, I thought if I attempted such a thing, I would only disgrace the cause and myself. Finally, I was brought low on the bed of affliction. I felt guilty before God, for not doing what I sometimes thought was my duty, and I promised God that if he would restore me to health again I would do the best I could. I had a very long spell of fever, but finally, through the mercy of God, I was restored to health. Then my promise to God was arrayed before me, and I prayed to God, time and again, to make known to me, plainly, my duty, and I promised to perform it the best I could. I recollect one day, while I was on my knees at prayer, the curse inflicted on Jonah, for disobedience, passed before my mind, and I believed if I failed to yield to impressions, which I often had, that the frowns of God would rest upon me. The Pastor of our church, Elder Dodson, lived some distance away, and he was only with us once a month; and my brother-in-law had similar feelings to my own, he and I held prayer meetings, which greatly assisted me, our church cooperating with us. We held meetings .at night, from house to house, two or three nights in the week, and would give exhortations. The Lord greatly revived his work. In a few weeks there were about sixty added to the church. Sometimes, while telling what the Lord had done for poor sinners, it seemed the greatest privilege that I ever enjoyed; at other times I thought that I had disgraced myself and the cause of Christ, and that I had better quit; and if it had not been for the kind treatment and encouragement given me by the church, I should have faltered by the way. In a short time the Church licensed me to preach, and in a few months I was set apart to the full work of the ministry, by a Presbytery consisting of Elders Hobbs and Dodson.
Chapter III., After his ordination he was called to the Pastorship of the Knob Creek church, of which he was a member, it having ceased to be an arm of the Rutherford’s Creek church, as it had been constituted into an independent church. He says: “I was called to take charge of this church, soon after my ordination, and as my views on the Atonement were nearly the same with those of Brethern Dodson and Hobbs, for a time all seemed to move on in harmony. These two ministers were the only ones, in the Cumberland Association, who agreed with me on the extent of the Atonement made for the world by the sufferings of’ our Savior.” But in a short time one of them died, and the other moved away, leaving him alone to plead the clause that he had espoused with all his heart. About this time he was called to the care of the Friendship Baptist church, twelve miles south of Columbia. He accepted the invitation, and entered at once upon his duties as the Pastor of this church.
At this time, Elder Hanks tells us, there existed very dissimilar views between himself and other Ministers on the Atonement: that they taught some things which he believed were contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures; and that he could not preach his views fully without crossing the views of his preaching brethern. At first, he tells us, they treated him kindly, telling him that by reading and meditation he would see differently. He says: “Some were teaching that a covenant was made, before the foundation of the world, between the Father and the Son, and that the Church was given to the Son by the Father; that the Son agreed, on his part, to come into this world, to suffer and die for those whom the Father had given him in that covenant, and that all for whom he died would be saved. Sometimes they would preach that the Church was eternally justified in the mind and wisdom of God–that there was a common and a special call to sinners; the special call could not be re- sisted; the Spirit quickening the elect alone. In refering to this subject, he says: I did my best to believe this doctrine, as taught by my brethern, for I fully believed them to be honest. I loved them, and it grieved me to the heart that I could not see and believe as they did; for I could be nothing but a Baptist. I read and investigated their proof-texts prayerfully, willing to follow the teachings of God’s word in all things. I felt that I was responsible to God for everything that I taught in His name, and if called to the ministry, it was my duty to preach the whole truth, as I understood it. I believed in the doctrine of election and predestination, as taught in God’s word, but not as understood and preached by my brethern. Indeed, it was a matter of rejoicing to my poor heart that God did predestinate us to the adoption of children by His Son Jesus Christ, who is mighty and able to save, to the uttermost, all that come unto him; seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for the transgressors. I believed that we are the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, having been elected according to the foreknowledge of God through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. In this way I believed and taught the doctrine of election. For I believed that All the happiness that accrues to the children of God, is by faith in Jesus Christ, and not for works. I also believed and taught that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, had tasted death for every man. This doctrine I proclaimed wherever I went. My very soul burned within me, for I wanted to preach it all over the land, from the rivers to the ends of the earth. I could not find anything in all God’s word that did not harmonize with my cherished views. This made me feel strong in the faith and power of His might. My brethern, however, began to cry out, ‘he is an Arminian! — have nothing to do with him!’ Still I could not hold ‘my peace, but cried the more, in the language of the “Master,’ to all men, ‘Repent, and believe the Gospel. Except ye repent, ye shall all perish; for God commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent. He that believeth not shall be damned. Ye will not come unto me that might have life.’ And with many such Scripture quotations I appealed to the sinners. God blessed my own soul as I preached his precious truth, and also made it the power of God unto salvation to many precious souls.”
Chapter IV. Elder Hank’s bold and effective manner was not to be tolerated longer, by his brethern holding views on the Atonement differing from his own; accordingly, at the meeting of the Cumberland Association of Baptists, in the year 1829, or near that time, a committee of several brethern was appointed to confer with him and the Knob Creek Church, for nearly all of its members had embraced his views. That committee consisted of Eiders McConnico, Gale and Hunter, their strongest men. They came, bringing others with them. In giving an account of the visit of the committee, Elder hanks says: “I hoped to be able to satisfy them that we were orthodox. It was all in vain; for, although shown from the history of the Baptists, that, years ago, our brethern in Virginia and Kentucky had agreed that the preaching, by a brother that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God had tasted death for every man; or by the preaching by another brother, that he only died for the elect, and that the elect alone have a right to the privileges of the Gospel; should be no bar to church fellowship and communion; and that each party did agree, and had dropped the names by which each had been heretofore distinguished, styling themselves the “United Baptists.” I also showed that I was not the agressor; for the same doctrine preached by me, was preached by our brethern in other States. After all this, the committee decided that we had departed from the faith, and we were consequently cut off from union with our people. “This was a sore trial to me and the little band, who, like true and trusty friends, as they were, stood by and supported me in the darkest time of my ministerial life. “The church doors, as well as private dwellings were closed against me, and for many months I was denounced as a heretic by those whom I had taught in my early days to love Jesus. The churches were warned to have no fellowship with me. In this lonely condition, I shall never be able to describe my feelings. With not a Baptist Minister near enough to me with whom I could associate, I was shunned and avoided by them all, as if to touch me would contaminate or sully their purity; and except the Knob Creek and the Friendship churches, which had been likewise cut off from the Cumberland Association because they adhered to the views entertained by me, there was not a church in all this part of the State which had any sympathy for me, or those holding similar sentiments.” I have given the foregoing account of Elder Hank’s trials and separation from the Cumberland Association, in nearly his own words, choosing to adopt his own mode of expression rather than my own. How hard it must have been to be severed so unceremoniously from those dear friends and brethern with whom he had been identified ever since he had been in the ministry, none of us at this late date can realize. But our beloved father in the ministry was ready to forsake all for Christ and his truth; and yet he naturally sought and craved the association of his brethern.
Chapter V. I will now give, in his own words, an account of his connection and participation in the “open communion” movement in which the Knob Creek church was once entangled. He says, in his own hand-writing: “Yet I do not say that, in this long and lonely time through which we passed, we lived free from error. My home church and myself drove into open communion, and received one or two Pedo-Baptist immersions. The effect was so different to what we had anticipated, that I was astonished and mortified; for, instead of bringing our Pedo-Baptist friends nearer to us, it only had an opposite tendency, and produced only alienation of feeling, as their Ministers almost forsook us. In the meantime, I went so far as to immerse two Methodists and two Presbyterians in good standing, who desired to be immersed by one who believed it to be the only mode, with. the understanding that they should remain with their respective churches if they wished to do so. In this practice we continued but a short time, for, seeing we did not get the sympathy and encouragement that we expected from them we very soon began to consider the error of what we had done, and whither we had drifted. The result was, that we soon returned and took our former stand, and that too, without the loss of a single member.” He also tells us that for the act of baptizing those persons, he received no thanks from their preachers. “I then thought,” said he, “that I was justified by the case of Phillip, who baptized the eunuch; but long since I have looked upon the act of baptizing their members, and communing with them, as incompatible with the Word of God. And I would, therefore, advise my brethern never to do the same, for when we commune with them at the Lord’s table and receive their baptisms, we certainly endorse their sprinkling and infant baptism. It seems to me that there can be no other fair construction of such acts. Then our members were frequently called Hanksites because we were cut off from our people and could neither “pour’ nor ‘sprinkle” for baptism.” Again Father Hanks says: “I believed that there was too much intelligence in the Baptist Ministry for them to stay long where they thdn were; so in a few years the division took place–said to be, on the mission question; the one party believing that the Gospel should be sent by the efforts of the churches to the destitute in our own and heathen lands; the other party believing that if God wanted the Gospel preached to the world, He would send it without our aid; and that it would be done through persecution.
Hence each party separated from the other and began to work in their own way.’ I, of course, was found on the mission side of this question, and how my feelings were changed from a state of loneliness to that of joy and pleasure, for many of those who heretofore had held me off at a distance had their eyes opened now, and mutual friendship and good feeling were restored. How thankful I was, no tongue can tell, to meet not only in friendship, but in fellowship, those that I had so dearly loved. I now felt that whilst I was proclaiming a full and free salvation to all men, I had the prayers and sympathy of many warm and loving hearts, who were once estranged from me in feeling. . When the final separation took place in the Knob Creek church we were stronger in numbers than it was at first believed, our number being near one hundred, including all the officers of the church. “About this time the Friendship church was also cut off by the same Association because it endorsed the doctrine that I believed and taught, by retaining me as a pastor.”
“With these churches we began our work,” says our brother, amidst the most bitter persecution from many of our former associates in the Ministry. But the good Lord blessed his own truth and soon we began to see the pleasure of the Lord prosper in our midst. In a short time I baptized about forty-five hopeful converts. While our anti-mission brethern were crying ‘Heretic!’ ‘Wildfire!’ ‘Delusion,’ etc, I was permitted to baptize many precious souls into the fellowship of our churches. 0 how in my soul I magnified the Lord, who had visited his people in mercy. “While we stood alone, I visited my relatives in Kentucky, and there I baptized about fifteen persons. At the same time I baptized a gentleman who lived in Virginia (his name forgotten) and gave him a certificate of his baptism. A few months after my return I received a very pressing request to go back to the same place and take care of my scattered sheep with which I readily complied; and when I reached the place I found the church in a divided condition, two parties having already formed, some endorsing the views that I have preached and others still clinging to the old Antinomian creed, each party claiming to be the church. Those holding views consonant with my own in the meantime had procured the services of a Brother Edwards who lived in the state of Illinois, as their pastor and I at once decided on staying there several days and preaching for them. The other party as soon as I had commenced a meeting sent off immediately after one of their most talented ministers to come and confute the doctrines that I was preaching. The brother responded to their call and next day found him at my meeting. In the meantime his friends requested that I should invite him to preach when he arrived which I readily agreed to do. My appointment was at a private house and as soon as their preacher came, I invited him to preach, to which he agreed, on condition that I should preach first. So I proceeded in the services and being familiar with all the proof-texts, I referred to them, giving my views on the same as I proceeded. However there was one text which I purposely omitted, viz., ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bond- woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.’ After I had closed, Brother C. arose and quoted that text and said it referred to the elect and non-elect; the son of the free woman to the elect, and the son of the bond woman to the non-elect. This was all the point made in his whole talk. When he closed I arose and asked the audience whether they would believe Paul or the preacher. Paul said, ‘These are two covenants,’&c. To close the services of the occasion I called on the Presiding Elder of the Methodist church to pray. The brother prayed very fervently that the good Lord might bless the truths preached by the first brother and make them the power of God unto salvation! ‘But 0 lord,” prayed he, ‘forgive the errors of the second brother, and make him a useful preacher.’ This prayer seemed to enrage the good brother for as soon as I announced the benediction he approached me and in an angry manner asked me if I aimed to insult him? To which I replied, ‘Sir, call on him who made the prayer.’ This he declined to do, and so the matter ended. “That church is still in existence and I am happy to learn in a prosperous condition. May it long continue to exert a salutary influence in the country where it is located. “On returning home, I visited Friendship church at the regular meeting time, where I met with one of the Anti-mission preachers. As my custom was, I invited him to preach for me. He very readily agreed to do so and during his sermon he took occasion to warn the people to shun those who came to them wearing black coats and white cravats and who rubbed their backs against the college walls! ‘for’ he said, ‘he is going about imposing himself on the churches and rending them wherever he goes. All his allusions to black coats, etc., I did not notice in my reply, but stated frankly to them (as to getting rid of me as he called it,) that I had repeatedly told them that if they continued me as their pastor they would certainly be cut off from the Association. They preferred to obey God rather than man and hence they were cut off as I have before stated without ceremony.”
Chapter VII. Thus we see that the strongest efforts were made to prejudice the minds of the people against our brother and if possible to put him down. But he continued to hold up Christ and Him crucified to perishing men inviting sinners to ‘come for all things are now ready,’ amidst the most bitter persecution. God owned his truth, and glorious results followed, wherever he went. Here is another instance of opposition which I give in his own words: “As I was on my way,’$ says he, “to fill an appointment in Hickman county, at a place called Gray’s Bend, the road was strange to me and seeing a gentleman and lady just ahead I hurried up my horse until I came up with them. On inquiring about the road, they stated that they were going to hear Hanks preach–‘the man that was rending the churches all over the land.’ My reply was: ‘He must be a very bad fellow if what you say of him is true. I believe I will stop and hear him myself.’ They knew not that I was the Hanks of Whom they spoke in such unmeasured terms of condemnation until I arose to open the services. “I refer to these things,” said our venerable brother, “to show that my brethern who differ from me on the Atonement and kindred subjects, held me up before the world as a disturber of the peace. They even went so far as to threaten me with a prosecution by the civil law, for solemnizing the rites of matrimony and preaching as they were pleased to say without authority.” But none of these things moved him, neither counted he his life dear unto him for he desired to finish his life with joy. About this time Elders Leftwich and Roberts visited Elder Hanks. These brethern belonged to the Duck River Association of Baptists situated in Bedford and adjoining counties. They were called “Separate Baptists,” at that time. They remained several days with him and preached at the Knob Creek church and its vicinity preaching the same blessed truths believed and taught by our brother. This visit by these servants of God gave him great strength and encouragement. And when they left they invited him to visit their Association that they might become more intimately acquainted with each other’s views. This he gladly consented to do and promised to meet with the brethern of that Association. Accordingly he visited that body which held its session that same year with the Garrison Fork church in Bedford County.
On Monday at eleven o’clock the Association suspended its regular order of business and invited Elder Hanks to preach, requesting him especially to give them fully his views on the Atonement, together with a kind of epitome of the doctrine as believed by his people and taught by himself. For about two long hours he stood before that body of strange brethern. No mortal man ever plead the cause of his Master with more fervency and zeal than did our beloved brother on that memorable occasion. – When he closed a proposition was made by some brother for all the brethern who could heartily endorse the doctrine preached by Brother Hanks to signify the same by giving him the hand of fellowship. Whereupon the whole assembly, en masse, pressed forward to give him a hearty endorsement. The speaker wept and laughed and praised God who had brought him through so many sore trials. And now that he had found so many preaching brethern holding to the very same doctrines for which he had been maligned and persecuted it is not strange that he should weep for joy and cry out in the fulness of his heart, “Bless the Lord, 0 my soul! and all that is within me, praise His Holy name!,” At the next meeting of the Duck River Association delegates from both the Friendship and Knob Creek churches were sent and united with that body which met with the Flat Creek church, Bedford County, Tennessee. In the course of two or three years the subject of corresponding with what was then called the “Missionary Baptists” began to be agitated. Elder Hanks entered warmly into the discussions that ensued, and his whole soul was enlisted in the one great work of having the Gospel preached all over the known world. The discussion which followed for a time by both the friends of missions and their opponents as a general thing were carried on in a truly Christian-like spirit. But, alas! the demon of dis- cord entered and the Duck River Association was doomed to division; one party favoring and wishing to aid the Mission Baptists in their plans to educate the rising ministry and thus qualify them successfully to defend the truth and maintain the same against all its adversaries and also to send the Gospel to the destitute everywhere; the other party opposing. Finally, in the year 1834 this body was rent asunder while holding its session with the Salem church, Franklin county, Tennessee. This separation Elder Hanks deplored very much. He thought it would very likely keep good and efficient brethern from cooperating together for years in spreading the truth throughout the land. The writer of this memoir has often heard him lament that our brethern, now called Separate Baptists should have committed the sad mistake of assuming a position so antagonistic to the great Baptist Brotherhood throughout the world and thereby weakening and retarding so far as their means and influence reaches our efforts to spread Baptist Bible truths from the rivers to the ends of the earth; and that he hoped and prayed for the union of all the Baptists in Tennessee, as well as all over the whole world and they might be made one in faith and one in effort to evangelize the nations of earth. For, while they are in a divided condition their enemies are striving hard to supplant them, and thus banish what we hold to be Bible truth from the earth.
Chapter VIII. After this sad and mournful event the Ministers of other Associations as well as from the Duck River began to visit Elder Hanks and to aid him in the information of other churches, Rutherford’s Creek church up to this time had been attached to the Cumberland Association (the same to which Knob Creek and Friendship churches had formerly belonged); but it decided almost unanimously that it was its duty to sever that connection. Accordingly delegates were sent and received into the Duck River Association, Elder Hanks being their pastor. Carter’s Creek church was organized this year under the fostering care of our ever faithful brother. Others namely Mount Zion, Mars Hill, Rock Spring, Mount Lebanon and New Ramia sprang up and by the blessing of God the Baptists in number and talents began to be a power in the land. Truly may it be said that Elder Hanks was the pioneer of the Baptists in this part of Middle Tennessee. in 1849 the Judson Association was organized at Mount Lebanon church now a member of the Duck River Association. Elder Hanks was unanimously chosen its first Moderator. This body adopted the Constitution, &c. of the Duck River Association. I will here insert what Elder Hanks calls his articles of faith–those that he offered as a basis of union and coopera- tion to the committee sent by the Cumberland Association to investigate his orthodoxy in the early part of his ministry.
ARTICLES OF FAITH 1. “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; so death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Hom. v. 12 2. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by,the Grace of God, should taste death for every man.” — Heb.11. 9 3. “Therefore, being ustified by faith, we have peace with i of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Rom. v. 1. 4. “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” — 1 Peter 1.5 5,- “And they went down into the water, both Phillip and the eunuch and he baptized him.” — Acts viii* 38 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,” &c. ‘Rom.vi. “Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we”‘? Acts X4, 47. “But when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” — Acts viii. 12. 6. “They that have done good unto the. ressurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the ressurrection of damna- tion.” John v. 29. 7. “For God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained,” &c. Elder Hanks was the devoted Pastor of the Knob Creek church for a period of more than thirty years and he was beloved by his flock very dearly. He presided as an efficient Moderator of the Judson Association nearly every year after its organization. In the early days of his ministry standing alone as he did it was indeed very hard foV us to realize the difficulties and dis- advantages under which he labored; but armed as he was with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and having been thoroughly drilled in its use–(or from a child he had been taught in the Holy Scriptures) — and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, his heart burdened with love for perishing sinners, he was able to vindicate and maintain the truth, as it was taught in God’s holy word.
Chapter IX. The readers of these pages is again referred to some of the struggles through which the subject of this memoir passed in his efforts to build up the Baptist cause in this country. At the time when the Rutherford’s Creek church invited him to become their pastor the majority of the members favored his views; yet there were a very few who seemed to cling to the “Do-nothing” side. But when they listened to his unanswerable arguments in support of the Bible doctrine, that the atonement is free and full, made for all men–that the scheme of redeeming mercy embraced the whole human race–it caused them first to look with favor and then to embrace his most cherished views. He took great pleasure in exposing the sophistries sometimes called Calvinism, but more correctly termed Fatalism or Stoicism- for the stoics long before Calvin’s day taught some of the same unscriptural and dangerous errors that are to be found in Calvin’s writings. Elder Hanks would take hold of any or all of their proof texts and with a master workman’s hand show that they fully harmonized with the doctrine of a free and full atonement. Carter’s Creek church was built up amidst the strongest opposition. Here he was called’upon to whet up his weapons and gird on his armor of truth to do battle in defence of our faith in the one baptism–the immersion of a believer in water by a scriptural administrator as the only Christian baptism. The contest was waged pretty warmly between him and an eminent Pedo-Baptist Minister. Although Elder Hanks was not versed in the classics, knowing nothing of Hebrew and Greek, still, with our old English Bible which he had made the man of his counsel from his youth he was more than a match for any of his opponents. The cause of truth suffered not in his hands in this discussion but it was ably and successfully vindicated. The churches grew and multiplied under his care, the Lord adding the saved almost weekly to their members. Up to this time there had been no effort made to build a church east of Columbia. Elder B. Kimbrough had lived in the Rock Spring country for a short time but had gone to another field. However in the providence of God, Sister Nancy Cannon, wife of J@rother George Cannon, now one of the Deacons of Rock Spring church, moved into that vicinity, she being the only Baptist in that community and having faith in her principles as firm as the everlasting hills, God made use of her as the means in his hands of building up his cause in her immediate vicinity. This sister desired Baptist preaching in the neighborhood, still more she wished for a Baptist church, one with which she could worship the God of her fathers and keep the ordinances as they were delivered to us. Soon after her removal she visited Elder Hanks and made known her wishes.
He yielded to her solicitations to have preaching and he gave her an appointment to carry back to her people. She went back with a glad heart, and made known his promise to preach for them. The people met at a schoolhouse near Rock Spring when Brother Hanks always true to his engagements was there in good time. On this occasion he seemed to be possessed of supernatural strength in holding forth the word of life and a crucified Savior; for before,he closed his sermon the whole congregation was in a flood of tears some weeping over their sinful hearts and others rejoicing in the Christian’s hope. He at once saw plainly that here a people should be raised up for the Lord and therefore he left another appointment to visit them again. At the appointed time of his next visit he carried with him a young brother, Dawson a licentiate of Knob Creek church. This time he was still more encouraged and he therefore determined to hold a series of meetings as soon as.practicable. Accordingly he appointed a time when he would return to that place. The next visit he made, Brother Meachum who had lately settled as pastor at Carter’s Creek church, accompanied him. This young brother was an active and energetic worker in the Master’s cause. During this meeting the good Lord did a great and glorious work for that people. Many souls were happily converted and before the meeting closed a church of thirty members was organized. He was called unanimously to become its pastor and in that capacity he labored efficiently for nine years. The year after this little vine was planted Elder Kimbrough paid them a visit and assisted brother Hanks in holding another meeting of several days which was a glorious success. The church at this meeting nearly doubled itself in numbers. He continued to preach for this church until Elder E. W. Benson was settled there as pastor.
Chapter X. Elder Hanks was twice married–to his first wife, Mary Wolverton, on the 6th day of June, 1811. Eight children, four sons and four daughters was the result of this union. Thomas Hanks, his eldest son is now a resident of Missouri and is an able Baptist minister. Sister Hanks was truly a help-meet for her devoted husband; she would often when he was so much discouraged, cheer him up, telling him to go and preach Jesus to the people and not suffer any uneasiness about his home affairs for she would take care of them. She often attended meeting with him and labored zealously in her sphere to give interest and success to the meetings. Sometimes in her ever pious zeal for salvation of sinners she would exhort and per- suade them to flee the wrath to come. In the absence of her husband at night before retiring to rest she would call her family together and after repeating a few verses from the old family Bible she would bow with and pray for them and commit them to her Saviour and friend not forgetting to ask the Lord to bless the labors of her husband and make him useful in the work of the Lord. He has often said to the writer of these lines that he attributed much of his success as a preacher to the encouragement he always received from his wife in the early part of his ministry. This good sister passed away from this world to her home in heaven quietly and peacefully on the last day of July, 1854, in the fifty-eighth year of her age. Her funeral was preached by Elders E. W. Benson and Thomas Witherspoon, her remains being followed by a large number of relatives and friends to the lonely grave and there deposited to await the summons from on high, “Arise and come to judgment.” She was often heard to pray most fervently that God would save all her children and we may add that we humbly hope her prayers have been answered for all of them now living are members of the church and those that are dead, died, as we learn in the triumphs of the Christian’s hope.
The following is the obituary published in the Tennessee Baptist:
“Mary Hanks, consort of Elder Elijah Hanks, departed this life July 31st, 1854, aged 58 years. Her illness was very painful and protracted yet she complained not, but patiently endured it all as a part of her lot and even glorified-God amid dissolving nature. She died as she had lived, a Christian; though an humble, unpretending child of God, yet abounding in every good word and work by which a husband, child, relative or even humanity might be benefitted. “Sister Hanks had few equals in the discharge of the various duties of life. She was a devoted wife of our beloved Brother Hanks (one of the most useful Ministers in Middle Tennessee), for over forty years. During this long relationship to him as a man and a minister, she was truly a helpmeet indeed. When at home, she was kind, obliging and ever ready to do all in her power to render him happy. When called to go and labor in the vineyard of the Lord, he was blessed with one at home whose energy and force of character kept his domestic affairs well regulated; and though her happiest hours was in his company she never opposed his leaving home, night or day but urged him to go and preach unsearchable riches of Christ to a sinful world. As a mother she was tender, affectionate and exemplary. In answer to her prayers she lived to see all her children members of the Baptist church. May they never forget her advice in training them up for God: As a mistress she was merciful and reasonable; as a member of the Baptist church at Knob Creek for more than forty years she was faithful, pious, energetic and abundantly useful. As a member of society, social, agreeable, needing only to be known to be loved. Benevolent to the poor and kind to all. In her death her absence is deeply felt in all these endearing relationships, But our loss is her gain. “A short time before she died she called her husband to her bedside and talked freely and sensibly about her departure and gave him her last sweet counsels; then the children were called up, one by one, and then the servants; and when even her hands were cold in death and the soul just ready to take its flight, her husband asked her if she was.conscious that she was dying? She replied that she was. He then said to her, ‘I hope there remaineth a rest for you. ‘Yes,’ she said, “and I shall soon enjoy it” These were her last words. She died in the Lord, and she rests from her labors.” From an acquaintance of upwards of four years with this mother in Israel, I feel that the pen need not describe her many virtues, for they are treasured in a more durable form;– they are lastingly impressed upon the memories of her associates and friends.”
This obituary was written by my most intimate friend and co-laborer, Elder E. W. Benson. The following preamble and resolutions were adopted by the Knob Creek church to express it’s condolement-. “WHEREAS God, in his mysterious providence has taken by death from our midst Sister Mary Hanks, consort of our beloved pastor, and so long an esteemed and devoted member of this body; therefor, “RESOLVED, That this church deeply deplores the loss of one so much beloved; but we humbly bow in submission to the will of the great Shepherd, who has taken her from her labors to her eternal rest. “RESOLVED, That we deeply sympathize with our beloved pastor and his family in their bereavement and we pray God to give them Christian fortitude to be submissive and to bear up under this heavy dispensation of His providence. “RESOLVED, That a copy of these resolutions be spread on the church book and a copy sent to the Tennessee, Baptist–a paper much approved among us–for publication, accompanied by a suitable obituary notice. “By order of the church. THOMAS A DODSON, Ch. Clerk.” Elder Hanks remained a lonely widower for about one year, when he married Mrs. Esther L. Miller, the widow of John Miller, Esq., of Maury County, Tennessee. Their marriage took place on the 19th of July, 1855. His second wife was a woman of deep piety and made him an agreeable companion. She was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. They lived happily together for fourteen years; but death came again and Brother Hanks was left again to mourn in grief his lonely fate. She died December 31st, 1868, aged sixty-two years. The author of this sketch has often heard Elder Hanks remark that the good Lord had blessed him with two as good wives as ever lived and in their kindness to him he knew no difference between them.
I must call the reader’s attention back to the early days of Elder Hanks’ ministry. From a letter recently received from him I gather the following additional facts in reference to dates. It was in December 1831 that the Knob Creek and Friendship churches were severed from the Cumberland Association. At the same time there were other ministers who shared the same fate with himself, viz., Hopwood, Craig, and Anderson. All three of them, however, were soon swallowed up in “Campbellism.” After they received their discharge from the Association, they invited Elder Hanks with delegates appointed by the Knob Creek church to meet them at a place called “Cold Spring” in Williamson county to com- pare views and see if a union could be affected between them, But when our brethern saw where those men with their adherents were drifting they refused to cooperate with them in any way as Ministers. Notwithstanding this direct refusal of our brethern to form any kind of religious agreement with Hopwood and his friends who were (as Brother Hanks and our Brethern believed which was soon verified), rapidly falling into the errors of Alexander Campbell the anti-mission Baptists would often charge them with being “Campbelites,” than which nothing was more untrue. Election and Predestination. At this place I will give for the reader’s consideration Elder Hanks’ views more fully than is given in the foregoing pages on the perplexing question of Election and Predestination in as nearly his own words as I can requesting the reader to study and test them by the Word of God. He says: “On an examination of Paul’s letter to the Romans I find that the church at Rome was composed of Jews and Gentiles and that each party claimed the pre-eminence believing themselves to be the peculiar people of God; and by reading the eleventh chapter we learn that the gentile portion of the church possessed a kind of boastful spirit; ‘therefore’, said Paul, ‘I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles O’ Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root but the root thees Thou wilt say then, they were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well, because of unbelief they were broken off. But Paul further adds that ‘God is able to graft them on again, if they abide not still in unbelief.’ On the other hand the Jews claimed to be favorites of God and as the children of Abraham were entitled to pre-eminence over their Gentile Brethern. Even Peter an inspired 17 Apostle of Christ had to be convinced by a miracle that the Gentiles had a right to the blessings of the Gospel as well as the Jews. Paul therefore, asks the Jewish part of this church, ‘Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not of the Gentiles also?’ He again adds, ‘For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him; for they that call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ And then he asks the Gentile part of the church, if God had cast away his people whom he foreknew. No, I am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, God cast not away his people, which he foreknew alluding to Israel as a nation. ‘Therefore’, continues the same Apostle, ‘whom he did foreknow he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son’–Jews as well as Gentiles, for he claims with God there is no difference between them so far as the provisions of mercy and sal- vation are concerned. And now, to drop them a caution, and also to remind them of his power–to stop their stripe and contention, he uses this language-. “Hath not the potter power over clay of the same lump, to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor? Most assuredly; for the Jew is made a vessel unto dishonor, through unbelief. But is the Jew and the Gentile clay of the same lump? Certainly they are; for the same Apostle reasons, in the 12th chapter of Acts, that ‘Out of one blood hath he made all nations of men’ &e. And again, ‘Is not it as clear as a sunbeam that be he Jew or Gentile, he is made honorable or dishonorable, according as he believes or remains in unbelief. Therefore the believing Jew is a vessel unto honor and likewise the believing Gentile; but the unbelieving Jew is made a vessel unto dishonor, and so of the unbelieving Gentile. “Now that this subject may be divested of all mystery, and made plain to all minds, let us turn to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, 18th chapter. “‘The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Arise, and go down to the Potter’s house and there will I cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold he wrought a work on the wheels and the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter. So he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 0h House of Israel! cannot I do with you as this potter, saith the Lord. As the clay was in the hands of the potter, so were they in his hands to do with them according to his will; for he says, Are ye not in my hands as the clay is in the potter’s hands.’ “He therefore sent prophets to warn them to turn from their evil ways and he would turn away his wrath from them, saying: ‘As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Turn ye:Turn ye! for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel.’ “Thus we see how both Jew and Gentile is in the hands of God and how by unbelief they may be marred in his hands. it was Paul’s object to place before them, in their divided condition, the danger of qod’s chastening rod. He tells them that ‘if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest he spare not thee,’ speaking to the Gentile part of the church. ‘Therefore’, said the Lord, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will, whether he be Jew or Gentile; for there is no difference’.
“And again saith the Lord, ‘In every nation, he that fear eth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.’ And still again, the Lord said to Pharoh, ‘Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might destroy thy life, and send thee to hell? No, but that I might show forth my power in thee, and that my name might be declared in all the earth.’ “In consequence of the king’s rebellion, God brought many plagues upon Egypt; and finally, the first born of every family was slain, from the king down to his lowest subject. Thus we see that the king’s rebellion was subdued, and he made to ask Moses to remember him. “We.next turn to the case of Jacob and Esau, as this is relied on by our opponents to prove partial atonement, claiming as they do, that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were born. This I deny. True, it is said to Rebecca, before the birth of the children, that they were two manner of people ot nations in her womb, and that one people should be stronger than the other people, and that the elder, which refers to peo- ple, should serve the younger. Now notice, it was about thirteen hundred years after this that God said by the mouth of his prophet Malachi, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,’– not before they were born, but centuries after they had passed away. This was evidently written concerning their descendents, and not about them as individuals. Thus we see when the Scripture is rightly understood, and fairly interpreted, it perfectly harmonizes with my cherished views on the Atonement. “But there is another text that I have often heard quoted by those holding to a partial atonement; it is our Saviour’s prayer. When he said, ‘I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes! Even so, Father, for so it-seemed good in thy sight”‘. 0, how-often have I heard this Scripture text applied to the wise and prudent of this world. But the Book of God knows no such character as a wise and prudent man, and yet a sinner; for no unbeliever is termed either ‘wise’ or ‘prudent’; neither is the Gospel called ‘things’; it is a unit; it is the Gospel of the grace of God; the Gospel of our salvation. Emphatically, it is buttone thing. “Let me now plac& this subject in its proper light, as I believe. The saviour had sent out his seventy disciples, who had returned and reported to him that even devils were subject unto them. And about this time,, John, his forerunner sent two of his disciples to ask him if he was Christ, or should they look for another. Jesus replied: ‘Go tell John that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.’ These were the things to which the Saviour alluded, when@he used the words of the prayer. That I am correct in this view of the subject, is further seen by what the Saviour says in this connection. Hear him: ‘For I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous kings have desired to see these things which ye see, and have not seen them.’ The very same things to which Jesus referred in the language under consideration. They saw, only through inspiration, his miracles, and mighty works, their lives being too short to see them literally. They were dead long before this time, and there- fore these things were hid from them. The prophets and the wise kings were the ‘wise and prudent.’ “But another passage is often referred to in proof of a limited atonement:. ‘I pray not for the world, but for those that thou gavest me out of the world.’ I regard this as one of the strongest proof-texts found in God’s word, in proof of a universal atonement made for all men. The first thing to be con- templated in this prayer is the unity of the whole church, that they may.be one; secondly, that the world may believe that the Father hath sent the Son. Now, if the world believed this truth with all the heart what would hinder their salvation? For the Book says ‘He that believeth on the Son hath life.’ “Still another text is referred to; it is this: The Apostle having reference to Christ, says, ‘Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling,’ First saved us in Christ in the covenant of redemption and then called us to a knowledge of salvation Let us look at this text a single moment and let me ask, was thL Apostle addressing a church or was he speaking to Timothy and giving a narration of his Apostolic office, and also giving him advice As a son in the Gospel?–commending him to God who hath both saved them and called them to the work of the ministry. Not according to their works but according to his grace and purpose, which was given us in Christ before the foundation of the world. That is, this grace or power of salvation was deposited in Christ before Adam’s dust was fashioned into man.” I have now given Father Hank’s views on the Atonement, which were formed in the early days of his ministry and sacredly cherished by him all through life. He preached his views without reserve as far as he traveled; but they subjected him to the bitterest persecution from those who once were his professed friends and brethern. Yet he steadily moved on his way, planting and watering, ever looking up to God for the increase. In the year 1859, the author of these pages was called to Knob Creek church to assist Brother Hanks in the Pastorship of this church and he at once entered upon his duties. For nine years he labored in this capacity, pleasantly and harmoniously and now as he looks back to those years in which he was permit- ted to associate with Elder Hanks in so endearing a relationship he can truly say that he loved him as a father, as a brother and as a great and good man. During all this time, Father Hanks was able to preach only an occasional sermon; yet his anxiety never abated for a moment for his beloved charge. In the latter part of his life, he was exceedingly desirous that his brethern should be scripturally and fully indoctrined in the great and precious truths of the Bible, as held by the Baptist church.
For the last two or three years of his life he lived near his old homestead, with Brother J.M. Witherspoon, who married his youngest daughter. Some time before his death, the writer in company with Elder W. A. Nelson, visited him. We found him suffering and very feeble but perfectly calm and resigned to the Master’s will. He remarked in our interview with him on that memorable occasions “As I lay today on my bed rather in a gloomy state of mind, I asked myself, ‘Can I not trust that Saviour that I have preached to others for almost fifty years?”‘ The response came at once, “Yes Lord, I trust thee wholly, for thou art my only hope. I have trusted thee for over fifty years and I trust thee still!” The aged brother of many hard-fought battles possessed still a very great desire to have the Gospel preached all over the world and particularly in Columbia by a Baptist Minister, and he said that he would pay to a pastor for that place, ten dollars and twenty-five rather than a failure should be made in the effort then being made to secure the services of Elder J. M. Phillips at that place. Our venerable brother was possessed in a remarkable degree of that grace called benevolence, and hence the poor widow and orphan always found in him a true friend and benefactor. He loved our mission work at home and abroad and he always-when the subject was presented, would contribute cheerfully of his means, urging our brethern to give liberally, often quoting some passage of Scripture in the form of a command or promise, to stir up the brethern to give to the Lord’s cause. Father Hanks was indeed, as the Bible requires an ensample of the flock of God. – WAS THE RANSOM PAID FOR THE ENTIRE RACE OF MAN? (An Essay Written By Father Hanks.) The following Essay was written by Father Hanks and read by the author, before the Ministers’ and Deacons’ meeting held at the Knob Creek church, in May, 1870. This production is his last effort to set forth his cherished views: . Was the ransom paid for the entire race of man, or was it only for a part? I’shall assume that it was paid for all men, and undertake to prove it by the Word of God. “The souls of all men are mine,” saith the Lord. Therefore he hath undertaken to deliver his own from under the power of Satan. The promise made to Abraham was, “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” This promise was confirmed to Isaac and Jacob in language of similar import. Again, the declaration of the Angel, at the birth of Christ was, ‘Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Paul says: “By the disobedience of one, judgment came on all men unto condemnation. Even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. ” Let us hear the language of Jesus Christ himself on this subjects “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the worldi through him might be saved.” Again the Apostle says: ‘He is the propitiation for out sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” And he further adds that “We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with the glory and honor that hei by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” And again he says: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and Man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” The above passages are so plain that they need no comment. If they do not prove a general atonement, then I do not know the meaning of the words and I must confess my utter inability to understand the Scripture on that subject. In the next place, it will be my purpose to show that although man, in his helpless and benighted state, needs divine aid to realize his condition, and to become obedient to the commands of the Gospel; that God stands ready to give all the aid required.
And therefore I now propose to show that the means of grace are co-extensive with the atonement. In other words, that while I believe and teach that Jesus Christ tasted death for all men, I also believe that God has ordained the means whereby all men may avail themselves of the benefits of the death of Christ. If this is not true, it seems to me we should reflect on the wisdom and power of God, Let us now submit our proof. Christ is said to be “the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” and also, it is said that “the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men.” Again, Jesus says to his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.” Now Jesus says, “When the Spirit is come, he shall take of mine and it unto you, and shall bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have spoken unto you.” This shows that all the world are to be benefitted by the church. But again Jesus says: “When the Holy Spirit has come, he shall reprove the world of sin, because they believe not on me.” Now if the spirit fails to do this, he fails to accomplish the end for which he was sent into the world. The spirit of God is everywhere present at the same time. David says, “Whither shall I flee from thy spirit? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, thou art there; and if I take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, behold thou art there.” The spirit of God was present when our world was created, and although when created it was without form, and darkness covered the face of the deep, then the spirit of the Lord moved upon the waters, and God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” And it has always required the same power of the spirit to move up- on the sinner’s heart, and cause him to see and feel the ruinous nature of sin, and also to enable him to look to Christ and be saved. Then again, the command to repent is just as extensive as the light, given by the mouth of Paul; he commanded all men, everywhere to repent, and his disciples went everywhere, preaching that men should repent. And again, Jesus said, through his servant John, that “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Then notice that the invitations of the Gospel are as extensive as the command to repent. First, then, Jesus said to his disciples, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.” Another one of the Evangelists records the commission in these words: “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Jesus himself, while standing in the temple, cried and said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” And again he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Then John, in the Isle of Patmos, says, “The spirit and the bride say come, and let him that heareth say come and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Under the old dispensation, all were invited, and entreated to be saved, Hear what Jehovah saith: “For as I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” And again, “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will you die?” Hear the voice of the prophet again, as he speaks for Jehovah: “Behold! I call heaven and earth to record this day, that I have set life and death, good and evil, before you; choose life that you may live.” I call your attention now to the parable of the great supper put forth by the Saviour himself. He sent forth his servants, at supper time, to say to them that were bidden, “Come, for all things are ready.’ But they began to make excuses, and refused to come. The result was, the Lord of the feast became angry, and declared that they which were bidden should never taste of his supper, Now can we believe that they would not have been welcome guests, if they had accepted the invitation? Believe ye this who can; as for me, I must believe that the Lord of the feast would have welcomed every one that was bidden, if they had come. And I must also be permitted to believe that the Lord was justifiable in declaring them to be unworthy of a place at the feast. In this parable we see the danger of the sinner’s rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, for God says, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” And again, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Because I have called, and 6, have refused, therefore will I laugh at your calamity and mock w@.e’n your fear cometh upon you.” 0, how fearful the act of the sinner when he rejects the offers of salvation made to him with so much entreaty by the Saviourt In the next place, shall the church pray for the salvation of all men? I answer, Yes–inasmuch as Christ made an atonement for all, and provided means for their recovery, and wills the salvation of all men who will come to him, therefore it is our duty to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Again, Paul says to Timothy, his beloved son in the Gospel, “First of all, I would that prayers, supplications,intercessions, and giving-of thanks, be made for all men–for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and accept- able in the sight of God, our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” But shall the penitent sinner pray for his own salvation? I answer, yes–for it is written that “they who call upon the Lord shall be saved.”
Our Lord said of Paul to Annanias, “behold he prayeth.” Thus he prayed before’his salvation. The publican also prayed, God be merciful to me, a sinner.” In answer to his prayer, “he went down to his house justified.,, Then the dying thief prayed to the Lord, “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Jesus heard and answered him, and comforted him by saying, “This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” All these instances of penitent persons praying, to which I have alluded, show most conclusively that it is necessary, yea, essentially necessary, for a penitent sinner to pray; for we have no reason to believe that either of them would have been blessed if they had not prayed. Now let us turn to the old dispensation. God said to the Ninevites, through his servant; “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” When they heard the d6om threatened to overwhelm them, “they humbled themselves in sackcloth and ashes, and cried mightily to the Lord.” The Lord heard their cry, and turned away his anger, and spared the city. James says: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double minded: be afflicted, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, your joy into heaviness; humble your- self in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.” God sent his spirit to reprove the sinner; this we believe he does without consulting the sinner’s will; but when he is reproved he is commanded to turn. Here his will is consulted.- “Turn ye at my reproof, and I will pour out my spirit upon you, and make known my words unto you.” And again: ‘”Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, who will abundantly pardon. Here pardon and justification take place, which always means the new birth: “Ye must be born again.” “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the.spirit. This is a mysterious change brought to view, and is produced by faith in Jesus Christ; for says the Apostlei “We are all the children of God by’faith.”
Again, read Paul’s commission, as given by himself: The Lord told him that he would deliver him from the Gentiles, to whom he would now send him, to open their eyes, to turn them from drunkenness to light, from the power of Satan unto God. That they might receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Jesus Christ. Then read what Paul said to the Gentiles- “To him give all the prophets witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Then another passage reads, “Who can forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we.” Our burial in baptism shows our death to sin, and resurrection to newness of life. Also, our faith in the resurrection of the body, and represents the burial and resurrection of Christ. It is said of those members who have been planted together in the likeness of his death, that “they are lively stones, and are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spirituall, sacrifices holy and acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ he becomes their wisdom, sanctification, and redemption.” Therefore it is said this is the name that ye should be called, the Lord our righteousness. This body is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, In conclusion, upon this part of the subject, let me say that “the servant is not greater than his Lord.” Does the servant de- sire the salvation of all men, and for this does he pray? So does the Master, for, says the Apostle, “we’.have the mind of Christ.” Is the stream higher than the fountain, Has the Saviour created desires within us for the salvation of those for whom he did not die?–or for whom he made no’atonement? Impossible! I cannot believe it. But in the language of Peter, “I perceive, of a truth, that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.” And therefore I say unto all, “Come, for all things are now ready. In view of this widespread plan of salvation, the question might be asked, by some, is the heathen included in this plan? And if so, how are they to be saved? Now in order that we may properly understand this subject, let us take a.view of the general judgment. John says: ‘I saw the dead, both small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
This scripture shows that the world will be judged by a plurality of books, and that according to the light given them, and the improvement of that light. As a proof that I am correct in this view of the subject, I ask, was it not as binding on the man who had received but one talent, to improve and cultivate his one, as it was upon the man who had five talents for “where there is little given there is little required; but where there is much given, of him will men require the more.” The works of God in creation will leave men without excuse, for Paul says: “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are early seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Now read this Scripture, which has direct allusion to the Gentile heathen: “When the Gentiles which have not the law do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves, which show the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness, their thoughts in the meantime accusing or excusing one another. “The devil is called the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, who is engaged in heathen lands captivating the souls of men. Is it reasonable to suppose that God, possessing infinite power and wisdom, would suffer the devil, who is his inferior, to wrong him out of his own, even though it be in heathen lands? No; for we are bound to believe that God, by his spirit, is there, to counteract the deep schemes of Satan. If they have no light why bring them into judgment? But “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil;” and although the light may be di@ and obscure, if they improve the means that God has blessed them with, they may be saved. Now if there is a soul on this green earth that has never received any light, or has never been reproved by the spirit of God, that soul will be saved, on the same principles upon which the infant and idiot are saved. I have tried hard to understand these things, and have made the word of the Lord the man of my counsel; and from them have I drawn all my conclusions. These things have I believed and taught for more than forty years. They are cherished views of my own, and I love them because they will make men wise unto salvation.
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY of ELDER ELIJAH HANKS Adopted by the Judson Association of Baptists, at the annual Session’ held with the Mars Hill Church in Sep- tember, 1871, WHEREAS, It has pleased our Father in Heaven, in whose hands are the issues of life, to remove, by death, our aged’ and much- beloved brother, Elder Elijah Hanks, who died on the 12th instant, at 9 o’clock p.m., in perfect peace, at the resi- dence of his son-in-law, Brother J. M. Witherspoon, after a long and painful illness; and WHEREAS, Our venerable brother was the pioneer preacher among the churches now composing the Judson Association, and through whose earnest preaching many hundreds of precious souls have been brought into the fold of Christ; therefore, RESOLVED, That whilst we bow in humble submission to the will of God, in removing our father in Israel, (whose praise is in all the churches,) from our midst, thus depriving us of his counsel and advice, for which, as ministers and as a body, we have long looked, and who had long presided as the efficient and faithful moderator of the Judson Association; we will ever cherish a lively remembrance of his many virtues, and try to imitate his pious example. RESOLVED, That a copy of this preamble and resolutions be spread on the minutes of this session for preservation.
For some months previous to the death of Father Hanks, he had been in a low and suffering condition, and talked much. of his approaching death. He was deliberate and careful in arranging all his business, so that no trouble should be found in settling it up after his decease. He often visited, in his last days the grave of the wife of his youth, and, on one occasion, selected the precise spot where he desired to be buried, setting up a stone at the head of the place of his grave. Finally, the last meeting that he should ever attend, of his old church, that he loved so devotedly, was held, commencing on the Saturday before the first Sunday in August, 1871. This proved to be the last meeting as he had believed it would be. On Sunday he was there, and enjoyed the services very much, and on Monday he was found in his accustomed place. After the ser- mon by the pastor (Elder R. Hull) he was assisted by two brethern to stand up, while he delivered’, in somewhat broken sentences, ‘his last charge to his loved and loving brethern. This was a precious privilege to the aged and care-worn veteran–one that he had long desired to enjoy, for he had been unable to speak publicly for more than a year previous to this time.
HIS LAST CHARGE TO HIS LOVED AND LOVING BRETHERN. The following is the substance of his last effort to address the church:
“Dear Brethern and Sisters–I feel that I am with you for the last time at this place. I have come to bid you farewell, and to give you my last advice. I have been with you, in much meekness, for more than forty years, during which time we have enjoyed many precious seasons; but my time is well nigh done on-earth. I do not feel today that I can say as did Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight,’ &c; but I can say, ‘I have fought the good fight’ as best I could, and “have kept the faith’, and henceforth, I hope, there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me, ‘which the righteous Judge will give me at his appearing,’ &e. And now, beloved brethern,” continued the feeble and almost worn-out disciple, “live in peace–love one another, and forgive one another, as Christ forgave you. Be faithful to your principles–labor to spread them over the land. I love the Baptist faith and doctrines, for I believe they are taught in God’s word. I have believed and taught them for almost fifty years, and I believe them still. I want them spread over all this land of ours. As an evidence of my anxiety for the spread of our principles, I have subscribed for one share in the Southern Publication Society, located in Memphis, Tennessee, for the benefit of my daughters, and I urge you, as a church, to take stock in the same, for I believe it will be the mean, in the hands of God, of accomplishing great good.” Continuing his address, he remarked, “I thought, while Brother Hull was preaching today, that if the same doctrines had been preached by the Baptists in this country forty years ago, they would have taken the whole land.” After he had closed his speech, and as he was borne up by the brethern, in making his way out of the church, he cast once more a lingering look upon those that he had loved so long and ardently, saying, “Farewell, brethern and sisters! once more, farewell!” And he was carried to Brother Witherspoon’s, where he had lived so pleasantly during the last years of his life. He lingered on from day to day through the week, up to Friday, when his daughter, Mrs. Eliza Moore, arrived from West Tennessee. On her coming into his room, he smiled, and said: “Eliza, I am glad to see you once more; you are here in time to bid me good-bye, and see me put away. I am now ready to die, I have finished my work. Children, don’t weep for your old worn- out father, for I hope soon to be at home.” And with many other words did he try to cheer and comfort his weeping children and friends, exhorting them to meet him in Heaven. He then asked some one to sing for him that good old song commencing “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,” and joined in the song himself with his usual cheerfulness.
On the next day he was found to be sinking rapidly and as his last moment approached nearer and still more near, his faith grew stronger and his prospects brighter, and so he passed the day, with his feet planted on the margin of the river and his soul resting on the Rock of ages. At 9 o’clock p.m., surrounded by his children, grand-children, and many friends, the spirit of this great man of God, as calmly as the evening breezes, sweetly passed away, escorted as we believe, by a convoy of angels to his home in heaven, On the next day, it being the Sabbath, his remains were carried to the church, where funeral services were performed by Elders Rollin Hull, and W. T. Ussery, in the presence of, perhaps the largest assemblage of people ever gathered together at that place. After the conclusion of the services in the.church, his body was borne to the grave-yard, near by, and there commit- ted to its last resting-place, to await the final summons when he shall hear the welcome plaudit, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.” The writer of the preceding pages has endeavored as best he could, to give to the world, as well as to the churches, a plain, unvarnished and truthful statement of facts, relating to the life, labors, and death of one who served his “Master” faithfully for nearly half a century, till, it may be truthfully said, the world was not worthy of him and he was taken to that “rest that remaineth for the people of God.” I therefore send forth this little book not claiming that it is faultless, but deprecating sensorious criticisms, and committing it to the reading public, feeling fully satisfied that the appreciative reader will do me justice to believe that I have done all I could, under the circumstances, to place in their proper light the life and character of the now sainted Hanks, as an example worthy of imitation of all men, sincerely trusting that much good may result from the perusal and contemplation of what I have deemed suitable to embody in the foregoing pages.
Elijah Hanks, a cousin of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, was pastor of Knob Creek Baptist Church, Maury
County, Tennessee, in the late 1820’s. Robert Holloway was a descendant of Reverend Hanks’ sister.
Wolverton Family Genealogical Publication