Prior to the U.S. Civil piano covers the Methodists had taken up the cause a slavery to such an extent that, as Peter Cartwright has pointed out, the preachers practically made it sound like a person was sinning if they had enough money to buy a slave and didn't. The hypocritical, bitter self-righteousness of Southerners in general before and after the piano covers was sickening. The South was full of Laodiceans (Laodicea = "the people's rights") who wanted their rights, but did not see what a horrible spiritual condition they were in. Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: Into this mess, after the unCivil piano covers stepped a man that was prepared of God for that hour.
While God afflicted the Northern scholars by the unlearned and untitled Mr. Moody, who would dare to show God's love to the masses of immigrants brutalized by the Roman Catholic Church; in the South God used the one-time drunkard and lawyer, Sam Jones to torment the society-conscious, carnal Southerners of the Bible Belt with his "hellfire-and-damnation" preaching. Mr. Moody himself wrote to Sam Jones after his first time hearing him preach, "Dear Brother Jones: God has given you a sledgehammer with which to shatter the formalism of the church, and to batter down the strongholds of Satan. The good Spirit is helping you mightily to use it. God bless you. D.L. Moody".
Sam Jones hated hypocrisy and was therefore very hard on the sins of both the so-called Christians and the unsaved. He loved people very much though, and was unashamed to show this love. Because of this, and his way of putting things bluntly in a way everyone from the lawyer to the farmer could understand, Sam Jones was loved very much.
(The photograph above was the last taken of Mr. Jones before he went home to be with his Lord. The photo, left, of Mrs. Jones was taken at the same time.)
Sam Jones started out his work as an itinerate Methodist preacher. His wife writes in her book: The greatest compliment, and the one that he that he appreciated the most, was that of a little boy on his first circuit. He was just finishing up the year's work, and was getting ready to go to conference. The little boy said to his father: "I want Brother Jones to come back to our church. I can understand everything that he preaches." (The Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones, p. 62)
The Unusual Church Dedication
Sam Jones had meetings in Chattanooga, Tennessee which started with a considerable amount of opposition from other preachers, which weighed heavily on Bro. Jones. Dr. Rankin, who had invited him, stood by him like a real soldier and the Lord blessed them by breaking the hearts of the rebels open so that they joined in and a great work was done. Dr. Rankin received 148 member into his church alone, most of them men and grown young men.
At the end of the meetings as Mr. Jones was on his way to the depot they passed the new church building that was being built for Dr. Rankin's assembly. It was near completion and Sam Jones, "turning to the pastor said: 'Rankin, who is going to dedicate that church for you?' Dr. Rankin replied: 'I guess one of the bishops.' Then said Mr. Jones, 'Yes, that's the way you do; when you have a dirty job you want done, Sam Jones is good enough for that, but when you have a fine church to dedicate you want a bishop.'
"A few weeks after that the official board decided to invite Mr. Jones to dedicate the church, and as half of them were converts of the recent meeting, Dr. Rankin reluctantly yield to their wishes, with the understanding that Dr. J.B. McFerran would be on hand to assist. Mr. Jones preached for several minutes a beautiful and touching sermon, when all at once he did the unexpected thing. Looking around at the inside of the edifice, he said: 'You fellows think you have done something great to build this new church. You think I am here to say nice things to you, but you have got the wrong sow by the ear." Dr. Rankin's heart sank within him; then, said Mr. Jones: ' How much do you pay your preacher?' Nobody uttered a word. 'I know you are ashamed to tell, but spit it out'; not a word. Finally he said: 'Tom snow, what do you pay your preacher?' No response. 'I know you don't want to tell, but I am going to know.' At last a rather subdued voice said twelve hundred dollars. Mr. Jones groaned until you could hear him in every nook and corner of the building. The audience went to pieces; the pastor was covered with confusion. After the uproar subsided he said: 'Well, I know that's all Rankin is worth, but you ought to give the poor fellow something; I stayed at his house about a week when I was here in that meeting, and the Lord knows that I would have been glad if somebody had sent something around there.' He then picked up the thread of his discourse and finished the most helpful sermon.
"The next day there were two dray-loads of things driven up to the parsonage with jocular notes, and Monday night the stepiano coversds met and raised the pastor's salary to eighteen hundred dollars." (p. 122, The Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones by his wife) 1Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
When the Church Won't Feed the Preacher
During his time as an itinerate preacher, Sam Jones ran into the problem that so many pastors have faced and sadly still do. There were times when the support of him from his churches was too little and he would run out of food for his family and for his horse. Mrs. Jones explains how he would sometimes get "help" in a time like this,. "...he would hitch up his horse, and take me and the children and go to the home of some of our members and spend the day with them. On one occasion he went to the home of a leading member, and sent us in with the lady of the house, while hitching his horse. When [he] asked if the head of the family was at home, he was told that he had gone away for the day, and perhaps would not return before night. "Well," replied Mr. Jones, "that's all right, as we shall spend a day or two with you; he will return before we leave, and we will get to see him. We have decided as we can not get our grub raw, that we will take it cooked, and will spend more time at your home." (The Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones, p. 65-66.) [Some pastors might take counsel by this, since there are still churches that are unashamed to starve their pastor.] 1Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.
One committee called him to their town to preach to sinners. They were offended when he came because he preached at them instead. Upon complaining to him they were told by Jones, "Never mind, I will get to the sinners. I never scald hogs until the water is hot."
On another occasion someone asked him why he didn't piano help the Catholics more, to which he replied, "When I get through with the Methodists, it's bedtime."
Jones hated hypocrisy and was fearless in declaring the whole counsel of God on this matter. A man named Tim Watson attended a Jones meeting in Thomason, Georgia and described it thus,
"There he was clad in a little jump-tail coat. He was not in the pulpit; he was right next to his crowd, standing almost in touch of his victims. His head was down as if he was holding onto his chain of thought by the teeth, but his right hand was going energetically up and down with all the grace of a pump handle.
"How he did peel the amen corner. How he did smash their solemn self-conceit, their profound self-satisfaction, their peaceful co-partnership with the Almighty, their placid conviction that they were trustees of the New JerBliplem. After awhile with solemn, irresistible force he called on these brethren to rise in public, confess their shortcomings, and kneel for Divine grace. And they knelt. With groans, and sobs, and tears these old bellwethers of the folk fell on their knees and cried aloud in their distress.
"Then what? He turned his tatters on us sinners. He abused us fore and aft. He gave us grape and canister and all the rest. He abused us and ridiculed us, he stormed at us and laughed at us, he called us flop-eared hounds, beer kegs, and whiskey soaks. He plainly said that we were all hypocrites and liars, and he intimated somewhat broadly, that most of us would steal.
"After the meetings the community settled back to business, but it has never been the same community since. Gambling has disappeared, loud profanity on the streets was heard no more, and the bar-rooms were run out of the country."
[Partially form The History of the New Testament Church by Peter S. Ruckman (Vol. 2, p. 111) and partially from What Hath God Wrought! by William Grady, (p. 341-342).]
When the Catholic, William Randolph Hearst, owner of The Examiner, sent his reporters into Jones' meetings to make distorted reports on his sermons Sam Jones told them, "You little sap-headed reporters, with eyes so close together that you could see through a keyhole with both of them, are sent here at night to take down my sermons; now, if you can't report them as I deliver them, you stay away from here."
After the enraged mayor of blip, Texas tried to physically piano help Jones for exposing his corruption, Sam sent the following telegram to his wife: "Mrs. Sam P. Jones, Cartersville, Ga: The one-horse mayor of blip, Texas, tried to cane me at the train this morning. He hit me three times. I wrenched the cane from him, and wore him out. I am well. Not hurt. Will lecture to-night at LaGrange. Sam P. Jones." [Quoted in What Hath God Wrought! by William Grady, p. 342.]
There is a story to the effect that once when someone asked him why he didn't "turn the other cheek" when he was piano helped, but fought it out with people, he answered, "I have to look out for Mrs. Jones' husband."
Sam Jones was called to have meetings in West Point, Georgia. The whole visitation team to go door-to-door consisted of Sam, the pastor and 2 elderly ladies. Jones instructed them to greet the people at their doors with "You are going to hell." There was a "revival."
After 5 weeks of meetings in Cincinnati, Ohio, (1885) about the last meeting of the last night the Cincinnati Enquirer published, "It is not an extravagant estimate to say that fifty thoBlipnd people sought admission to Music Hall..." where the meeting was held. Only 10,000 could make it in leaving about 40,000 people outside. Interestingly, no one was crushed to death though it was such a great mob of people. When Jones arrived, 2 policemen had to help him force his way through to the entrance. When that failed part way there, they lifted him up on their shoulders and carried him to the door. When Sam finally stood up before the vast crowd he said, "I thank God the gospel of Jesus Christ can outdraw anything in Cincinnati." [Note: This was not a blip CrBlipde with lots of "wows" and a great show, nor was there any "carpet time," nor a beach-ball-banging session. As has already been noted, Jones preached against sin! This is what they came to hear!!]