Sometime ago I was wending my way to one of my preaching appointments, and on the train I was occupying a seat to myself, trying to rest weary limbs and thinking of the great mercy of God to such a poor sinner as I. Then a very finely dressed gentleman entered the train and walked down the aisle looking for a seat. As I was the only one occupying a seat by himself, I moved over and invited him to join me. He very readily accepted, and in a moment he took his Bible out of his grip and began to read. This I thought to be very commendable. I remained silent so as not to disturb him, but he did not read long. He closed his Book and turned to me, saying, "Fine weather we are having." I said, "Yes it is fine weather for this season of the year."
I then said to him, "From appearances I judge that you are a minister of the gospel." "Oh, yes," he said, "that is my occupation." I then replied, "Well, what denomination of Christian people do you preach for?" "Oh, I am a Baptist," said he. Then I said, "You people date your origin back to the days of Christ and His apostles, don't you?"
"Yes, we are the only people that can lay claim to apostolic succession."
"Then you claim to have kept the church pure in all the past ages, and to occupy today the same ground, doctrinally and practically, that Jesus and His apostles occupied?"
He replied, "Yes, sir, we do claim that, and we stand ready to prove it if called upon."
I then said, "Then you must have been very strenuous to keep all the points of church order clearly before your people!"
"Yes, but we have the force with us to do it," said he.
"Do you have Sunday Schools?" I asked. "Oh, yes, we couldn't live with our Sunday School!" "Well, can you tell me who was the Superintendent of the Sunday School Jesus organized?" "Oh," said he, "they had none then!"
"Ah, " I said, "is that so? You have missionary boards, don't you?" "Oh, yes," said he. "Can you tell me who was President of the mission board in the days of Jesus and His apostles?" "Oh," he said, "they had none then."
"Ah," I said, "is that true? Well, you have women's missionary societies, do you not?" "Oh, yes," he said. "Can you tell me who was President of the society in Jesus' days?" "Oh," he said, "they had none."
"Well, well, is that true? You have young people's societies to help you out with them, do you?" "Oh, yes," said he, "these are a great help to our churches." "Can you tell me who was the Leader of this group in the church of Jerusalem, during the days of Jesus and His apostles?" "Oh, they had nothing of the kind back then!"
"Well, now," I said, "will you allow me to tell you a little story? A boy once drew a knife from his pocket that he claimed had been his great-grandfather's knife. 'It must be a very old knife,' said his friend. 'Yes, it is,' he said, 'my great-grandfather handed it down to my grandfather, who handed it down to my father, who in turn has passed it along to me.' His friend examined the knife closely and said, 'It certainly has lasted well.'
" 'Yes,' he said, 'it has had six new handles and eight new blades in its time, but it is the same, original identical knife of my great-grandfather!' "
"Now, you people," said I, addressing the preacher on the train, "you claim to be the old original church that our Saviour set up here in the world during the days of His earthly ministry. But from what you have told me, you have many new handles and many new blades in your organization. Yet you claim loudly and without any sense of embarrassment to be the old, original, unchanged church of Jesus Christ!"
"Are you a Hardshell, by chance?" asked the preacher.
"Well, I don't know," said I. "What do you mean by a 'Hardshell'?"
"Oh, I mean that people called Old School or Primitive. They don't have any Sunday Schools or Mission Boards or Young People's organizations in their churches. They are a 'backward' group that reject all these progressive institutions."
"Well, a moment ago you said that Jesus and His apostles did not have any of these things, and then these people you call 'Hardshells' don't have them; then, you being the witness and judge, have here admitted that the Hardshell or Primitive Baptists are fashioned after the original church that Jesus set up; therefore your claim to be the original church falls flat on the ground as untrue!"
- From the writings of Elder T. S. Dalton of Virginia, circa 1928