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Written by Troy Corley   

The Baptist Trumpet—January 7, 1965

 When I was only a barefooted boy about nine years old, my parents moved to a farm in the extreme southeastern corner of Logan County, Arkansas, about four miles from the little town of Blue Mountain. Within a year or so after we moved there a Mr. Nunn put up a grist mill on the banks of a little creek that ran through the west edge of town, and on Saturdays the farmers for miles around would bring their sacks of corn to have it ground into meal. The mill was run by a gasoline engine, and so far as I remember, it was the first one I had ever seen, or heard of, and when it was in operation it made such a popping noise it could be heard for quite a distance, and like any other boy of that age and time, with an inquiring mind and full of curiosity, I wondered what it was all about, and how such a little bunch of machinery could make such a big noise. (If this may appear amusing to some of our young people, I would like to remind them that we have come a long way and have seen some great changes in the last fifty years.)

Mr. Nunn, who owned and operated the mill, had a son who was then attending the State University at Fayetteville, Arkansas, and while he was at home during the holidays he sat on a box about ten feet from this engine and with nothing but a twelve inch ruler, a hand compass and a fountain pen, drew what appeared to be a perfect picture of it.

Now, I have told you all this, not just to get you to think about the deep impression all that made on my childish mind, but to remind you of how we convey our thoughts and ideas one to another. Many others now living saw these same things that I saw, and surely some of them understood more about them than I did. Many things have changed around there since that far-off day when my older brother and I thought it was a treat to get to go to town and to mill with our Daddy on a Saturday afternoon, and even above the noise of the wagon as it rumbled over the rocky road as it came through the "narrows" in the gap in the Long Ridge we could hear the pop, pop, pop of that old engine and we knew Mr. Nunn was grinding at the mill. Things are different there now. The town, where once lived more than three hundred people, is gone except for perhaps a dozen houses scattered here and there, the old saw mill, the old hotel, the two cotton gins, the grist mill, the railroad depot, have all disappeared, the five stores burned down or otherwise destroyed and never rebuilt, the three churches that were there are there no more, the nearest school is now at Magazine six miles away. Within the last few years Little Vine Primitive Baptist Church has bought the brick high-school building and have service there the first Sunday in each month. This church met for a long time in a little frame school house three miles southwest of town, and only a mile from my Daddy's old farm. Here at this little church exactly fifty-four years ago today (Dec. 8th) I united with the Primitive Baptist church.

Now to return to my purpose in the beginning. While reading the above, whether you have enjoyed it, or thought it worth while or not, I hope you have been able to form a picture in your mind of a thriving little country town where the rural people would flock in by the hundreds to bring their butter and eggs, do their trading and learn the latest news. And then, after a brief blank moment, you look again and the town with its wonderful people, and everything that made it interesting, is gone. The new highway put through there a few years ago skirts the north edge of town and hour after hour, and day after day, the few people who still live there, the most of them old people, can look out of a broken window, or stand in a weed-grown lot and watch the traffic as it whizzes by, but very few people ever stop there any more--indeed there is not much reason for them to stop.

Perhaps there are many who could paint a better picture than I can. Indeed there are better pictures to be painted, or pictures of better things, but the point I am concerned about now is, have you seen the picture I have meant for you to see? I would like for you to think for a minute about how this same principle applies to our everyday lives. In all of our conversations about the things we see, the things we do, the things that interest us, telling about the things that make us happy, the things that discourage us and make us sad, the good and the bad, our heart-aches and sympathies--all we say, we are painting a picture, or trying to paint a picture in the minds of those who hear us. It may be poorly done, like this one, but it is a picture--a word picture. And this same thing is true of every man who ever appeared before a congregation of people. If he is not able to help his hearers to see a mental picture of the thing, or things he is talking about, then his time and theirs has been largely wasted. How necessary then, it is that the man who occupies the sacred stand examine himself, his manner, his appearance, his words, his habits, and try constantly to improve in every way he can, and much of this he can do by studying, by choosing out suitable words, by not talking too loud (but still loud enough to be heard by his congregation), by guarding against little habits and meaningless words or fill-in expressions. The cause we represent is the greatest cause on earth and the very best we can do is none too good. The sacredness of it demands our best.

I do not need to tell you I am not a very good picture painter, but that does not keep me from wishing I was.

Humbly yours, Troy Corley

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.