Samuel Porter Jones is one of my brothers favorites so today I thought I would cover a little bit about his life. Sam Jones was a great preacher and revivalist of the 19th century. He is well known and has several books out either by himself or about him. They would be great to add to any collection or just have to read about a man that greatly influenced America.
Sam Jones was born on October 16, 1847 in Oak Bowery, Alabama, the son of lawyer and real estate entrepreneur John Jones and homemaker Queenie Jones, the grandson of Methodist preacher Samuel Gamble Jones, and nephew of four additional Methodist ministers. In 1857, when Sam was ten years old, the family moved to Cartersville, Georgia, where John's parents had made their home. Jones ended up living there for most of his life. Sam had hoped to attend college, but he purportedly suffered from an unspecified medical condition (his eyes or his stomach, depending on circumstance) and began drinking heavily. Eventually, despite his Methodist heritage which included seven Methodist ministers, Jones decided to become a lawyer. He was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1868. At the age of twenty-one, Sam trekked to Kentucky to claim his bride to be, Laura McElwain (whom he had befriended during the Civil War). Though his reputation as a drunkard had preceded him to Kentucky, and Laura’s father refused to attend the wedding, Laura’s mother convinced her to keep her promise to Sam Jones—the two were wed and became lifetime companions.
Sam Jones did not stay a lawyer for long and, in spite of his hopes that marriage would save him from himself, he continued to drink heavily and destroyed his career. By 1872 Jones was stoking furnaces and driving freight wagons for a living. The death of his infant daughter sobered him for a time, before he fell off the wagon yet again. Then, in 1872, Jones was called to his father's deathbed where his father pleaded with him to quit drinking—Sam promised he would. A week later Samuel P. Jones walked down the aisle of his grandfather’s church, made his confession to God, and became a Christian.
Jones was accepted by the North Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and began his ministry with the Van Wert circuit, a group of five churches spread over four counties. Before long his talent for preaching had him doing revivals in large cities before thousands of attendees. He was asked to speak not only for religious organizations but for the likes of state legislatures and President Theodore Roosevelt.
Sam Jones was known for preaching hard against sin and hypocrisy. He preached once at a Church dedication in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and in the middle of the service he stopped his message and asked the congregation how much they paid the Pastor. They were unwilling to tell him, but when the appallingly low sum was finally revealed, the congregation was so embarrassed that the next day he was given a substantial raise.
On October 15, 1906, Jones was returning home from a revival in Oklahoma City on the Rock Island Train. While the train was stopped in Perry, Arkansas, Sam suddenly collapsed and died. It is estimated that over 30,000 people came to view him as he lay in state in the rotunda of the Capital in Atlanta. Rev. Samuel P. Jones is now buried at Oak Hill cemetery in Cartersville, Georgia, where a stone monument marks the grave of Sam and his wife Laura.
At the time of Jones’ death, the sanctuary of what was then named Cartersville Methodist Episcopal Church was in the process of being completed. After a unanimous vote, the congregation officially changed the name of the church to Sam Jones Memorial Methodist Church (now known as Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist Church), which is still in existence today.
Here are some quotes by Jones.
"Quit your meanness."
"I always did despise theology and botany, but I do love religion and flowers."
"The curse of this age is that we have put gold above God, chattels above character, and mammon above manhood. We have inverted God's order of things"
"The tune of America is pitched to the dollar"
Here are some on alcohol.
is a great regulation force of man's life. No man can drink whisky and be
a Christian. Bob Ingersoll, the worst in the country, says whisky is God;s
worst enemy and the devil's best friend. I never got so low down as to discuss
a man who drinks vile lager beer. There ain't a four-legged hog in the country
that'll drink beer. But lots of two-legged hogs will. And the ladies
are absolutely drinking beer for their health. Shame on them! The
only hope of America is in her sober mothers, for when they debauch themselves
their children will be born full-fledged drunkards.The spirit of gentleness and
the spirit of temperance. Be not only temperate in regard to liquor, but
be a total prohibitionist on that subject.
I want to tell you, brethren,
that it takes more money to run one old red-nosed drunkard than it does to run
any member of the church in this city.
The girl that will marry a boy
whose breath smells with whisky is the biggest fool angels ever looked at.
I don't want to be a gentleman if I have to get drunk. Do you?
What do you think of an elder who has to think of the question about the
barrooms before he can answer? When you ask a preacher he says: "Why,
I consult my board, and if they are, why I are too."
How did I become
a drunkard? By drinking wine like some of you do. If any man had tasted
what I have and been where I have been, he'd be recreant if he did not preach
as I do. You get some letters as I do and it would go to your heart. I'm
not only not going to drink but I'll fight it to perdition, and when perdition
freezes, then I'll fight it on the ice. If you can make it any stronger
than that, put my name to it.
Nobody but an infernal scoundrel will
sell whisky, and nobody but an infernal fool will drink it.
And some on the theater.
You take society about this town. If I had the money that the Christian women, so-called, pay at the theater during the year, I could run every charitable institution in this town grandly. That is a fact. You can't walk to church -- it is too far; but you will walk the next night a third farther to the theater, and your husband does not really want to go. Let us try and reform ourselves on this line.
A man once asked me how long it had been since I had been at a theater.
I told him I had not been at the theater since I had quit being a vagabond.