S. H. Hall remembers James A. Harding

S. H. Hall remembers James A. Harding

Part 3 (of 3) of Samuel Henry Hall’s reminiscences of three men who significantly influenced his life and ministry: David Lipscomb, T. B. Larimore and James A. Harding. I prefaced the first installment, on David Lipscomb, with a brief biographical sketch on Hall. By way of footnotes I again insert a few clarifying details. Additional information about Hall is available at here.

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Excerpted from chapter 3 of S. H. Hall, Sixty-Five Years in the Pulpit, Or, Compound Interest in Religion. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1959. Pages 15-16.

JAMES A. HARDING – So different was he to either Lipscomb or Larimore.  Lipscomb was always deeply serious and grave; Larimore quiet, gentle, and exceedingly kind in looks and manners; but Harding was exuberant, abounding in faith and his face aglow with joy.  When I got into James A. Harding’s life I got into the field of faith and undoubting confidence in God’s love and care for his children here on earth.  Special providence was his hobby, if it be right to call it a hobby, and I came to go along with him all the way in his faith and trust in the Father’s taking care of his children here on earth.  He was often criticized by some as going too far in such faith, but when you listened to him talk about his Father in heaven and describe the beauties of the heavenly home, as a rule, you were made a believer.  How often have I been lifted almost out of myself as I listened to him talk about his Father’s love and special interest in his people!  Yes, I listened when he quoted Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  He would then hurry to Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” How he could emphasize, “NO GOOD THING WILL HE WITHHOLD FROM THEM THAT WALK UPRIGHTLY!” Then to Ephesians 3:20, looking up with tears coming down on his cheeks, he would exclaim, “He does for us exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think.”  Well, Harding made a full convert out of me, and made me wish that every child of God on earth has the faith and confidence in God’s love and care for his people that James A. Harding had.  Yes, he was criticized by some for his special /16/ providence “hobby,” as some called it, and even Brother Lipscomb who loved him dearly felt that he sometimes went too far with it.   But let me have his faith – it enabled me see as I had never seen before, and to rejoice as I had never rejoiced before in the consciousness that God is near, that his angels surround us, and that they are sent out as ministering spirits to God’s own here on earth.  Brother Harding saw good in all of his experiences.

            One other thing about him, and I close, but could write all day about him.  Due to the condition of his mind he did not seem to remember from one Lord’s day to the next what he had preached on the previous Lord’s day, but was continually discussing special providence or talking about heaven.  Therefore, we had to persuade him to give up pulpit work, a service which he had rendered for about a year after moving to Atlanta with what was then called the South Pryor Street Congregation.  After being out of the pulpit for quite awhile, one Lord’s Day morning he said to his wife, “Let’s go over and hear Brother Hall at West End Avenue today.”[1]  So here they came.  I knew how his heart yearned to get back in the pulpit, so asked my elders to let me use him that day because many people were there who had never heard him preach and, if he talked about heaven or special providence, it would be new to them and we who had heard him on these subjects would enjoy it.  I could never tire of hearing him speak.  I had promised to speak on the “Home” that morning, so to help him take that subject for study and stay with it I had informed him that this was the subject for study and he had expressed his delight to discuss it.  To make it easier for him to stay with the subject I made some preliminary remarks to get him to think along that line, and then turned the subject over to him.  A more coherent, logical line of thinking I had never heard that when he spoke of the different members of the home – father, mother, sons and daughters, and their respective duties to each other.  Then he said, “If we live as God tells us, some of these days” – now raising his hand and pointing toward heaven – “we will all be – Home, Home, that is Home!”  He never got out of heaven and not a dry eye was seen in that audience.

            Well, we have to stop here, but if I were to talk and write from now until then end of life comes, I could not tell all that these great men have meant to me.  I thank God that he, in his providence, brought them into my life.


[1] Hall began preaching in Atlanta the first of January 1907, p. 17, until he moved to Los Angeles to preach for the Sichel Street Church of Christ in September 1920, p. 85.  For a photograph of the West End building, see p. 18.   South Pryor Street Church was an outgrowth from West End, p. 20, and by the end of Hall’s first four years there was a second ‘swarm’ from West End, p. 23.  For additional instances of how Hall saw special providence at work, Harding style, see Ch. X, pp. 56 ff.

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4 thoughts on “S. H. Hall remembers James A. Harding

    • Yeah, they were missional before it was cool. Hall stayed a good long while ( though not as long as JTL). The pattern continued when he came to your part of town. I think that out from Russell St. comes Madison and Jackson Park, but I’m not 100% sure about that. Chapel Ave is also in the mix early on, before Hall’s time. Maybe more that I’ve not found yet.

      • That’s a good point about Madison and Jackson Park. I’d never thought of them as Lipscomb-style “swarms,” but it makes sense.

        Chapel Avenue, if I recall correctly, began in 1911 with significant support from R.W. Comer, who was an elder at Tenth St./Russell St. who went with the Chapel Avenue swarm.

        How are you doing footnotes on this blog? I’m intrigued. Is there something on WordPress that allows for that?

      • The migration from the river to our hometown is steady throughout the 20th c., it seems to me. Yes, Comer is a spark-plug at Chapel Ave. Footnotes are magically done by WordPress. I had already typed the Hall remembrances into a Word file, annotated them, and then pasted into the ‘new post’ on the blog in parts. I don’t know how it happened and am afraid to mess with it because it seems to work.

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