John William McGarvey Jr.

For a short while John William McGarvey Jr. served as State Evangelist under the auspices of the Tennessee Christian Missionary Cooperation. He began this work early in 1911 but died unexpectedly in April; his father J. W. McGarvey died later the same year in October.

Jr. preached a few times at Woodland Street Christian Church. This scan is from the April 22, 1911 issue of Christian Standard.


David Lipscomb on Acts reviewed in Christian Standard, 1897

I notice today is the 27th, and, so, a happy 27th to all.  But I come empty-handed as far as a new installment for Explorations in Stone-Campbell Bibliography is concerned.  As a substitute I offer this review of David Lipscomb’s Commentary on Acts.



“A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, with Questions, Suited for the Use of Families and Schools.”  By D. Lipscomb.  Nashville, Tenn.: Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, 1896.

This is a volume of 249 pages, octavo, neatly printed and well bound.  The commentary proper is preceded by “Biographies of the Apostles,” among whom Barnabas is accorded a place.  An Introduction sets forth briefly the work of the Holy Spirit, and the general purpose of the Book of Acts.  In the body of the  work the text of both the A. V. and the R. V. is printed in parallel columns at the top of the page–a waste of space as respects the former.  The commentary is in no sense a critical one.  The author has not subjected his own literary style to criticism, but writes with the same improprieties of diction and awkward construction of sentences which characterizes his newspaper articles.  This is a defect which should have been avoided in a commentary.

The comments in the main are judicious, and will meet the general approval of scholars.  The study of it in families, in schools, or in any other way, must prove decidedly beneficial to all who are beginners in the study of the New Testament.  It is to be regretted, however, that it contains many slips in matters of detail which might easily have been avoided with more care.  For example, it is said “The two letters to the Corinthians were written during his second tour from Ephesus;” the name Theophilus is said to be a Latin word (p. 25); on Thursday they had seen him arrested, tried, buffeted; and on Friday they saw him in open day nailed to the cross [; sic] the catching away of Philip after the baptism of the eunuch was “Back to Azotus” (p. 95); “Cyprus was on the road from Jerusalem to Tarsus” (p. 113); “The ‘world’ frequently means the land of Judea” (p. 114); “The first and second ward mean the first and second gates” (p. 116); “It is certain that Silas and Titus did this for Paul at Corinth, since he baptized only the first fruits of his preaching there’ (p. 121); James is called, just as the school of Baur would have him, “the head of the Judaizing party,” and in the conference on circumcision it is said, “The apostles and elders at first disagreed” (p. 142); Paul and his company are said to have made the trip from Troas to Macedonia in one day (p. 147); of Paul’s journey from Athens to Corinth, a distance of forty-five miles, it is said: “He probably went by water” (p. 163).  But enough of these.  All such mistakes should be corrected in a second edition.

Christian Standard, January 23, 1897, p. 121.


The Book Table for this issue of the Standard contains reviews of two books: DL on Acts, and the “Practical Commentary: S. S. Lessons, 1897” published by Fleming H. Revell.  J. W. McGarvey, Lexington, Ky. is the author of the second, and I assume also of the first.  It is natural that JWM reviews a commentary on Acts, given that the second edition of his commentary on Acts was published in 1892.  From this review it appears that Little Mac and Uncle Dave stand in basic agreement on Acts.  JWM raises no serious objection (the reference to Baur is as bad as it gets, but I doubt that JWM could find much more agreement between FC Baur and David Lipscomb) and his criticism is limited to matters of style and negligence in detail.  One would want McGarvey to proof-read a mss.!  For McGarvey, that Lipscomb’s work is “in no sense a critical one” may well be compliment, not a criticism.  I thought this review is a nice complement to the recent posts of “memories” of McGarvey.  Your comments welcome.

Why I Became A Preacher, James A. Harding, concluded

[see part one here]

… after their business transaction was closed. No amount of business, no success, no adversity could cause him to forget God and the souls of men. The good he did is incalculable. Blessed is the memory of “Uncle Minor.”

I had not been long at Hopkinsville, teaching, before he wanted to make appointments for me in the country churches and schoolhouses round about. With some hesitancy and dread I consented, as I have always done, to the call to preach; and I was soon pretty busy with me teaching during the week and preaching on Sunday. At the end of five years’ work at Hopkinsville I was full of malaria. I fainted in the schoolroom, and had to be taken home in a carriage. So I left Hopkinsville and went back to Winchester, Ky., to get well. I was idle for several months, but was slowly getting well when Bro. John Adams of blessed memory, came for me to go with him back into the mountains to conduct a protracted meeting. I told him I had never conducted a protracted meeting; that it would be better for him to get some one else. But he said he could not get any one else, that I had been brought up in church and Sunday-school, that I had been to Bethany College, that I ought to be killed if I could not preach and that I was to shut my mouth and get my horse and come on with him. “Besides,” he said, “you know I can exhort like five hundred, and you come and preach the best you can, and I will exhort, and we will have a grand meeting. So I went with him; I doubt if I could have gone with a truer, bolder, kinder, better man. My eyes moistened with tears, and my heart is full of sweet, tender memories as I think of him. Sweet indeed to me is the memory of brave, strong, gentle, loving John Adams. I look forward, too, in hope to the day when he and I shall walk together the golden streets of the celestial city.

I went with Bro. John to each of his four preaching places that fall. We had five baptisms at the first place, five at the second, about seventeen at the third, and about twenty-seven at the fourth. Then I felt like I was man of not a little experience in evangelistic work, and was prepared to give points to the uninitiated. For four years my field of labor, for the most part, was the mountainous region of Eastern Kentucky. The people were very poor, the church houses were built of logs, and frequently lighted with tallow candles. They were poorly educated, if at all; but many of them were strong in native good sense and wisdom. Some of my most highly esteemed friends I found in those regions, and a number of them are there still. I know well, I have had goo opportunities to learn it, that a man is a man, whether in a mountaineer’s cabin or a brownstone front; and that a moral coward is just as likely to be found clothed in broadcloth; as in blue jeans.

After my father, the men of whom I am most indebted, I believe are Alexander Campbell, Benjamin Franklin, J. W. McGarvey and David Lipscomb. I have not named them in order in which I think they have been helpful to me, but in which I came under their influence. Campbell’s Christian Baptist, Franklin’s American Christian Review, McGarvey’s commentaries, in articles for the papers, Authorship of Deuteronomy and other writings, and Lipscomb’s editorials have furnished me the best reading I have found out of the Bible. I have used, of course, more or less, many of the great commentaries of ht sectarian world, but they have been of little value to me in comparison with the benefit I have received from the brethren just mentioned.

But the most valuable gift I ever received, I believe, was a little Bible my father gave me while I was yet a small child. It had pictures in it; and very plain and simple they were; not at all to be compared to the splendidly illustrated volumes of today. But those pictures were marvelous to me. My father trained me to turn the leaves without tearing them; and he and my mother would tell me the stories the pictures illustrated. For a long time that Bible was my chief treasure, and those stories my greatest delight. I was the first born in our house, and in course of time I showed the pictures and taught the stories to the other little ones. God only knows how much of blessedness that little book brought to be and to our house. I have made it a rule to have plenty of picture-books for my little ones, and their mother has given much time to telling them the stories. The sooner God’s truths are impressed upon the mind the better. He who is full of God’s truth, who delights in it, will preach. Not in public, may be, but he will preach; and his life will be a benediction to those who come under its influence. –James A. Harding.

“McGarvey on Acts cannot be beat”, R. H. Boll, 1916

“As for helps and commentaries, McGarvey on Acts cannot be beat, $1.50….”

That’s it, at least for this installment.  RHB offers a few comments about books and reading in general, recommends some specific titles and closes with a characteristic (of him at least) caution about the tomes written “by man.”  Such constitutes his first book chat in the pages of Word and Work.  In this same 1916 issue he reviews Rowe and Klingman’s The Bible in Questions and Answers, a book elsewhere billed as a replacment of a whole shelf of Restoration biblical studies tomes since it distills the best of several works. More on that volume later.

Of the items RHB specifically commends, Little Mac on Acts is the only item from the Restoration Movement.  He suggests J. M. Gray on “How to Master the English Bible”, R. A. Torrey’s “How to Study the Bible to Greatest Profit”, Gray’s “Systematic Bible Studies” and the Angus-Green “Cyclopedic Handbook to the Bible.”  The only other commentary he mentions is Hodge on 1 Corinthians (RHB: “I have seen nothing better…”). 

“The greatest little book on the Christian life, just the thing for spirit-burdened, discouraged Christians, is “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” by H. W. S. …”  I wonder if that recommendation grew out of Boll’s own spirit-burdening, discouraging year of 1915?  Was he reading “H. W. S.” when not responding to the Advocate?  He then highly commends Philip Mauro’s “The Number of Man” and “Life in the Word.”

His closing exhortation: “I shall take occasion from time to time to speak of books of which I have personal knowledge.  But while recommending such books I would not understand as endorsing every statement and sentiment they contain, but only in the main.  Every book written by man–no matter who the man–comes under the rule: “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”

See more here.

M. C. Kurfees remembers J. W. McGarvey

Practice of the “Fathers” on Opinions

[Kurfees marshalls quotes from the Restoration Fathers…he says that “those who did express themsevles leave no room for doubt that they all stood as a solid unit against the practice.  We now call upon this distinguished roll of reformers with their associates and successors to speak for themsevels:”].  

23. PRESIDENT JOHN W. MCGARVEY.  This distinguished preacher and educator, who has been engaged in the systematic teaching of the Bible for more than half a century, and who is now President of the College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky., has taken a prominent and important part in the discussion of the question, and we select from his writings the following passages:

it is manifest that we cannot adopt the practice without abadoning the obvious and only ground on hich a restoration of Primitive Christianity can be accomplished, or on which the plea for it can be maintained.  Such is my profound conviction, and consequently the question with me is not one concerning the choice or rejection of an expedient, but th e maintenance or abandonment of a fundamental and necessary principle. *  *  *  I hold that the use of the instument is sinful, and I must not be requested to keep my mought shut in the presence of sin, whether committed by a church or an individual.  *  *  *  The party which forces an organ into the church against the conscientious protest of a minority is disorderly and schismatical, not only because it stirs up strife, but because it is for the sake of a sinful innovation upon the divinely authorized worship of the church; and, inasmuch as the persons [236] thus acting are disorderly nd schismatic, it is the duty of allgood peole to withdraw from them until they repent.–It is universally admitted by those competent to judge that there is not the slightest indication in the New Testament of divine authoristy for the use of instrumental music in Christian worship.  *  *  *  As to the introduction of an unscriptural test of fellowship, it is enough to say that we do not refuse fellowhip with those who use the organ; we onyl refuse to partake with them in that practice and choose tp worship when we can where it is not in our way.  To deny us this privilege would be an attempt to force us into fellowship with a practice confessedly unauthorized in the Scriptures, that which there ccould be nothing more unscritural or more intolerant.–In Apostolic Times, 1881, and “What Shall We Do About the Organ?” pp. 4, 10.

M. C. Kurfees, Instrumental Music in the Worship, or the Greek Verb Psallo Philologically and Historically Examined Together With a Full Discussion of Kindred Subjects Relating to Music in Christian Worship.  Nashville: McQuiddy Printing Company, 1911, pages 235-236. 

Kurfees penned the introduction to this volume on 31 January 1911 (quite incidentally, my grandmother, Ella May Dudley Ice, was born the same day in Oberlin, Ohio).  McGarvey would be dead before Thanksgiving.  This book has a foot in to worlds in a sense.  In one sense it is part of the on-going discussion of instrumental music during McGarvey’s lifetime.  In another sense it becomes a document of memory about McGarvey.  This book was reissued a various points and is in print today.  Kurfees does not so indicate here, but he was a student at McGarvey’s feet…graduated Valedictorian of his class in 1881 from the College of the Bible.

M. D. Clubb remembers J. W. McGarvey, part 4

Tenth Affirmative

Brother Boles’ reply to my argument from apostolic ex-[page 137]ample is so weak and void of reason that I pass it by with one brief remark.  My argument gives no consequence to the burning of incense.  The ninth chapter of Hebrews plainly says that the censer (in which the incense was burned) was a definite part of the Levitical ritual which was done away in Christ.  Nothing is plainer that this.  We have very definite and positive instruction as to incense.  But singing and prayer and instrumental music were no part of the Levitical ritual–no part of the Mosaic economy–and, hence, were not included in the things which had “waxed old and were ready to vanish away.” Just here I remark that professor McGarvey admits that the early Christians continued to worship in the temple after Pentecost, as they had been accustomed to do before.  And to this agree both Prof. H. B. Hackett, a member of the American Committee of Revision till his death, and Prof. Bernard Weiss, of Berlin University.  So far as I know, there is not a Biblical authority who takes any other position in regard to the matter.  The case is too plain to admit of contradiction. 

Any one who is willing to follow the example of the early Christians in the matter of worship in the temple will have no difficulty in knowing just what they did.  To say that they did not attend that same old prayer meeting in the temple to which they had been accustomed in that past is absurd, and would never have been thought of but for the desperate need of an untenable theory.

M. D. Clubb and H. Leo Boles, Discussion, Is Instrumental Music in Christian Worship Scriptural? Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1927, pages 137-138.