Letter:WATSON, S. M. to Charles Henry Gauss - 1910-11-30
|From||WATSON, Samuel McCluer (1851 - 1925)|
|To||GAUSS, Charles Henry (1845 - 1913)|
|Date:||30 Nov 1910|
|Collection||Minna Gauss Reeves collection|
To: Mr. C. H. Gauss- St. Charles - Mo.
From: In 5 days return to S. M. Watson, Howell, Mo.
Postmark: Dec 1 1910 Howell, MO
Howell, Mo. Nov. 30th, 1910.
Mr. C. H. Gauss --
My Dear Friend --
Your letter reached me yesterday. I fully agree with you in the position you take.
I have never known of a person who was led into drunkenness by partaking of of wine at the communion. I never knew a person who said such a thing about his own experience. If I were to hear any one say it I should consider his assertion as very weak. Either doubting his sincerity or, believing him to be mistaken, I should say that something else led him to get drunk. I can not believe without absolute proof which it is not possible to produce that any person going with the right motive to the communion table was ever tempted to indulge in drinking after leaving it by the small quantity of wine of which he then partook. The burden of proof is upon those who make the assertion and they can not furnish any proof whatever.
But even if we were compelled to admit the truth of the assertion, that would not make it right for us to change an ordinance instituted by Christ. We are to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded us without attempting to modify what he has prescribed. We are to do what he says and leave all results in his hands. He is certainly able to administer the principles of his Kingdom. Some years ago I read a book written by a socialist who held that because money is so easy to steal and is such a temptation to many people the government ought to abolish money. Why not adopt his view and apply it to the benevolent work of the church? Why not say that because, perchance, some formerly dishonest man who is now trying to lead an honest life may be put in charge of the funds of the Church and be tempted to steal them the Church ought never to collect money for any purpose? but we know that the Bible does authorize the collection of money; and for any one to condemn the custom upon the ground that it is too dangerous or in anywise wrong is to question the wisdom and morality of the scriptures.
The one, single question for us to settle is, Did Christ authorize the use of wine (the fermented juice of the grape) in the communion service? If he did that is all that we need to know to determine our duty. Believing that he did how can we refuse to use it and substitute something else? Some assert that wine is too dangerous to use -- others that it is worse than dangerous, an abomination and a curse. The church listens to the complaint and discontines its use in the Lord's Supper, substituting something else which is considered better. What is this but to impeach the character of Christ?
I do not assert that all who advocate the use of unfermented grape juice are wilfully setting aside what they Know that Christ sanctioned. Some doubtless believe that grape juice is what was used, but the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. And this is certainly true: that many people do not care what kind of wine Jesus used. they will have the unfermented any how. Some of this very large class asserting that it does not really make any difference what is used so it is the fruit of the vine, and some that whatever Jesus did when he was on the earth he would not sanction the use of wine if he were here now. As to the fruit of the vine idea, I can admit it thus far: that if I could conceive of a case where unfermented wine were the only kind which could possibly be procured and it were used only for that reason I shoul not consider its use improper. But when I know that real wine is rejected because it is considered an evil thing I can feel nothing but disapprobation of such a course. And can any body fail to see that this is really what is at the bottom of the movement against the use of fermented win? Men who hold our view are frequently charged with encouraging the drunkard in his course. Let those Christian people who make this charge beware lest in departing from a plain institution of the Scriptures they help forward that Spirit of unbelief which would utterly reject the Bible as the rule of faith and practice.
I should like very much to see you and if I can find time when in St. Charles will come to your house, but it is not probable that I shall be in St. C. very soon. I wish you would come to see me.
With best wishes for all yours I am
Your sincere friend, S. M. Watson
Source:Handwritten original in the private collection of the Chambless family. Transcribed to softcopy by Susan D. Chambless, February 21, 2000.