Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 12, 1956
NUMBER 48, PAGE 4-5b

Historic May 4, 1811


This Was An Historic Day For The Cause Of Christ In America. It Was On May 4, 1811, That Thirty-Six People Gathered At The Little Log Meeting House Set High On A Hill Looking Down Into Brush Run, Virginia (Now West Virginia) To Observe The Lord's Supper. This Was A Momentous And Unprecedented Kind Of Meeting. For These Frontiersmen Had Gathered Together In The Wilderness Of The New World Not Because Of Any Ecclesiastical Ruling, Nor Churchly Edict, To Observe This Memorial Feast, But Wholly And Simply Because They Had Become Convinced The New Testament Enjoined Such A Meeting And Such A Memorial. This Was A Living, Practical Demonstration Of Their Acceptance Of The New Testament As Absolute Authority In Matters Of Religion. They Needed Sanction Of Neither Clergy Nor Council If The New Testament Declared A Matter. That Was Sufficient!

Nearly a century and a half has passed into history since that beautiful spring day in old Virginia. That little band of earnest disciples has multiplied through the years, becoming the fore-runners of a mighty host of those who accept the Bible as final authority, the vanguard in modern times of that valiant army who are determined to walk in the steps of those first-century Christians — faithful children of God who met every Lord's Day to observe the Lord's Supper. From Jerusalem, to Troas, to the catacombs of Rome, to Brush Run, to those innumerable congregations of Christians throughout the world in our day, the line of descent is clear and unmistakable. On the first Sunday in May in this year of our Lord, 1956, it is probable that not a single hour of the twenty-four in the day will pass without its quota of faithful Christians in some part of the globe eating of the bread and drinking of the fruit of the vine in memory of Christ.

There is a thrilling demonstration here of the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Wherever men meet, whether in the crude and clay-mortised log building of the frontier or the plush carpeted, air-conditioned auditorium of costly modern houses, the story of Christ and his love brings joy and hope to the sin burdened heart. There is nothing here to appeal to pride and vanity; nothing the world would look upon as worthy of attention. But this simple Supper is God's plan for the keeping alive of the death of His Son. So clearly is the duty set forth that whether it is kept or not becomes simply a matter of faith, a test of one's submission to God's will.

The churches of Christ throughout the world are fully agreed in their weekly observance of the Memorial Feast. Teaching by approved example (Acts 20:7) is specific and binding. There have been various ones through the years who have denied the authority of such teaching (strangely and almost unbelievably some such attitude has lately been observed among some gospel preachers!), but those who love the Lord and are content to abide in his word have been unanimous in their acceptance of the weekly meeting. It is not a question for argument and debate, but rather a question of obedience or rebellion. The wisdom of men has long since declared the Supper a matter of indifference; but the wisdom of God has placed it within the category of those things which we do "by faith," and for the sincere heart that is enough.

This memorial feast has stirred the hearts of men, has gripped their imagination, has strengthened their souls in some powerful and mysterious way far beyond the power of any historian or philosopher to explain or even understand. When the Lord chose that by which he should be remembered it is remarkable that he selected so slight and so fanciful a thing as a simple supper. He was famous for his teachings, and still more famous for his miracles. But he chose neither. He chose his death. The teachings are important; and the miracles are important. But it was on the blood-soaked hill of Golgotha that the meaning of Christ's advent into the world had its truest expression. He came to die. He came to surrender his life as a ransom that the sins of others might be forgiven them. It is to this event that the Supper points. That is why it has been so precious in the eyes of all those who have been redeemed by the blood.

Those early Christians were commanded to assemble themselves together (Heb. 10:25); they were commanded to partake of the Lord's Supper. (1 Cor. 11:24.) That they did assemble and did partake is evident from the simple story of the historian. (Acts 20:7.) And that that assembling and partaking was on the "first day of the week" (limited to that one day each week) is clear both by example and by necessary inference.

So here in America on that lovely day in spring — May 4, 1811 — thirty-six simple Christians met for the first time in what was to become an unbroken sequence of weekly gatherings, meeting together "to break bread." We rejoice in their honest faith, we take courage from their whole-hearted trust in God which is so fine an example for us who follow. When men are willing to be guided by "thus saith the Lord," his word is sufficient always. On the wild and rugged frontier these untutored and unlettered woodsmen read it and understood it — and obeyed it. May their tribe increase!

— F. Y. T.