Moses Easterly Lard
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Moses Easterly Lard
The forces that form character are so complex and remote that we stand with unbarred head in the presence of a great life. If the heart shrinks from the attempt to solve the mysteries that invest the giant oak, rooting itself in the earth and representing the conquest of the life within over the forces without, the product on the centuries, without thought or conscience, with no power to choose a supreme end, though a thing of beauty and a joy forever, how much more do we tremble in the presence of one made in the divine image, empowered to rise to the plane of angels or sink to the level of demons?
Do we not hear the words that came to Moses from the burning bush? "Put thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." A great life, the joint product of agencies human and divine, is the most sublime product in the universe. Let no man seek to pierce the unseen. We can only touch the outer edge at best.
Moses E. Lard was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, Oct. 29, 1818, and after fighting "the good fight of faith" for over sixty years, entered into eternal life from Lexington, Ky., at midnight, June 17, 1880. His father, Leaven Lard, with his family, moved to Ray County, Missouri, about 1829, hoping to secure a home by entering land, and also to enjoy the chase, for at that time game of all kinds abounded. Though disappointed in proving up his claim, and doomed to succumb at an early day to the dreaded scourge, smallpox, and to leave his family of six children without adequate support, his son Moses was entered in the school of adversity, from which he learned independence and that courage which has bequeathed to posterity the example of true greatness. Surely the fires within and without played over his soul with a fury that would have consumed one of inferior mold. It was from the pure ozone of the West, from the wide prairies and boundless forests, from great rivers that swept past his feet onward to the sea, that the early life of Moses E. Lard drew its inspiration. Here he derived his power of depicting nature, here he put himself en rapport with the throbbing heart of God in trees and brooks and running streams.
From his father he inherited his noble, stalwart frame and his conceptions of honor and integrity. From his mother he received that profound veneration for God's Word which vitalized all his intellectual powers. The proof of this is found in the following words written by his own inimitable pen: "As my brother and myself stood beneath the eaves of our little cabin, just ready to take leave of the only objects on earth dear to us, and thus close the saddest scenes of our lives, my mother said to us, 'My dear boys, I have nothing to give but my blessing and these two little books.' She then drew from her bosom two small Testaments and placed them in our hands, and, as her tears were streaming down her cheeks, and lips quivering, she screamed as if it were her last, and that family was forever broken on earth." The memory of that sad hour was the supreme benediction. It was his pillar of fire by night, the cloud to shield him by day from the burning heat of forces that forever played upon his sensitive nature. From this source came the strength that enabled him to pass upward and onward till his name belted the earth with its influence, touching alike the shepherd upon the plains of Australia, and earth's cultivated thousands. While he was the image of his father in strong, rugged build, with grey, piercing eyes, he possessed the sweet tenderness and affection of his mother's disposition. It was her hope that sustained him through the dark hours when penniless and alone he was buffeted about by a cold, heartless world. But we have reason to rejoice that he found friends who recognized the pure gold that only waited the touch of benevolent hands to reveal its true worth.
General Alexander W. Donaphan saw that he had in him the elements of a great man. He awakened in him the ambition to perfect his education , and with friends provided the way by which he entered Bethany College, after he was married and had two children. Here, by his superior natural abilities and close application, even while he was earning by his daily labor his support, he completed in three years the course which entitled him to the degree of Master of Arts, and was by his own class appointed valedictorian. He never used his degree, urging that in the end every man must stand upon his own intrinsic worth.
From Bethany College he returned to Missouri, and his eloquence thrilled his audiences and swept them before the truths which he uttered into the kingdom of God by the score. When he arose in the pulpit there was an air of supreme confidence in the grandeur of his theme and sublime worth of the soul that drew all eyes to him. His mind bounded over his theme as the doe leaps over the prairie. He came to his work after long, laborious research. His words were always well chosen and leaped from his lips full of fire that burned its way into the heart through every obstruction. His keen, piercing grey eyes shot out their sparks in every direction, and there was a magnetism that knit his hearers to him with resistless grip. Among his greatest themes were Abraham Offering Isaac, Remember Lot's Wife, and the Millennium. His vivid imagination created his word pictures with a power rivaling the pencil of the master painters. All the wealth of his genius flowed from his lips upon the canvas, and the men and women created by his own words stood before you real beings, living, moving, breathing at his command. Although he spoke without note, these masterpieces came from his mind ready for the press, and defied the criticism of the best scholars and writers. It is much to be regretted, that aside from what was left in the Quarterlies, no sermon survives. Had his best sermons been written out and published, they would today be masterpieces in sermonic literature, and all others would pale before their brightness, beauty and logical coherence. The writer has never heard any preacher surpass him in his power to flood his theme with the effulgent glory of divine truth. The Scriptures had so penetrated all his powers, so thrilled his entire being, that they came from his lips burning with fire off God's own altar. It is true that he was not uniformly eloquent. Genius is never uniform. It will not be subject to ordinary devices, or be thrust within the narrow confines of the ordinary nutshells of commonplace brains.
Alexander Campbell, unable to meet all the demands made upon him by the attacks coming from the various sources, assigned to Moses E. Lard, at the age of thirty-nine, the work of reviewing J. B. Jeter, a distinguished Baptist preacher, who had in some measure misrepresented the plea that was being made for a complete return to the faith and practice of the apostolic churches. In this review the writer dissects, with merciless logic, every fallacy and leaves his opponent without the power of reply. If this work is too severe in its tone, too sarcastic in its retorts, too merciless in its exposure of error, it must be remembered that the age was superheated by religious prejudice, and that Moses E. Lard's intense nature was ablaze with indignation, because he felt that all error was hateful to God and should be exterminated. It has been urged by some that one of the chief defects in his style was his dealing with words as if they were made of iron, and each had a value as exact as a mathematical formula. If this be true, let it be remembered that at that time a darkness had settled down over religious thought, and that the world was beclouded with mysticism. Nothing but definition could lift the hanging clouds and let in God's clear sunlight.
But granting that this is in part true, what is more delightful than to glide along the current of his translucent thought, looking down into the depths where there is no mud, and where associated truths glitter and sparkle like the pearls at the bottom of the Silver Spring in Florida?
When the Civil War came, such was the ardor of Moses E. Lard in the advocacy of what he believed to be right, such his hatred of all that was oppressive and unjust, that he was compelled to leave Missouri, refusing to submit to an oath that was subsequently set aside by the Supreme Court of the United States. He spent some time in Canada. It was during the intense excitement of the war that he moved to Georgetown, Kentucky, and afterwards to Lexington.
Recognizing his great gifts as a writer, his friends induced him to undertake the publication of what became at that time the ablest periodical published by the advocates of the Restoration, Lard's Quarterly.
In spite of the turmoil of war, the rage of passion throughout the land, the impossibility of making one dollar do the work of three, the pages of this magazine will forever remain one of the best proofs of his great genius. Such was the estimate placed upon his logical powers that his papers were used in one of the colleges in Canada as the best specimens of clear, distinct and connected thinking.
In the papers entitled "My First Meeting," "Dick and South Point," the lover of prose poetry, true word painting and sweet pathos will find himself charmed beyond expression. No pen ever glowed with such fervor or painted pictures more highly interwoven with the beautiful and true than Moses E. Lard.
Lard's Commentary on Romans is a work that deserves to be in the library of every preacher of the gospel. It represents the ripest and best scholarship of the author, and though written in a few brief years, near the close of his illustrious life, it gives evidence of great ability, clearness and independence of thought. No man can read it without being strengthened and invigorated intellectually. He is luminously clear, always strong and dignified. We may dissent from some of his positions, but the cogency of his reasoning and the onward sweep of his thoughts, that march forth like drilled soldiers doing his bidding, leave you in no doubt as to his meaning.
The Apostolic Times, a paper, projected chiefly by his efforts, and of which he was the chief editor, enjoyed a large circulation for a number of years. His gifted pen made the columns glow with his own fervid spirit, and it was greatly regretted when he felt compelled to turn his attention to other more enduring work.
In our judgment, he towers above all his compeers in intellectual grandeur, in his power of analysis, in his elegant and poetic diction, in his prose poems, in his clear, clean-cut, lucid statements, to open the Word of God and turn its life-giving fountains in upon the thirsty soul, in that indescribable magnetic force which bears the audience away upon the winged thoughts of the orator.
He was in every way unique. He stands alone. He constitutes a class of his own; hence is not subject to the ordinary rules of criticism. With such rich and rare endowments he escaped the curse of pride and envy. He was not absolutely perfect, but such were the elements that made up the man that he challenges our admiration, evokes our love and bequeaths to posterity the rich legacy of a great character wrought out under the fires that would have consumed to dust ordinary mortals. In proof of his humility we quote from his Commentary on Romans: "To my Savior, in profound humility, this volume is gratefully inscribed." Before he closed his eyes in death he said, "There is not a cloud between me and my Heavenly Father."
—by J.B. Jones, Churches Of Christ, ed. John T. Brown, c.1904 pages 416-418
Life Of Moses Easterly Lard
Sources: Moses Lard: That Prince of Preachers, by Kenneth Van Deusen, c.1987, College Press, Joplin, Mo.; Bill J. Humble; and expanded by Scott Harp
Dick And Point South
In the summer of 1853 I had an appointment to preach in Richfield, Missouri. The Sunday morning at length came, and I rode down to the village. While hitching my horse a black man came up to me and said: “You do not know me; but I know you, and have known you for a long time. My name is Dick; I once belonged to the Church at Stanley’s, where old brother Warrinner used to preach; and near which he is buried. Since his death the church has gone to pieces; and I have been long without its privileges. I have come fifteen miles to-day to hear you preach, and have brought with me my young master, Thomas. He is a good boy; and I think would be a Christian if he knew how.”
With this artless tale of a poor servant man, my heart was touched. My memory at once became fragrant with reminiscences of the past. The strange, sweet eloquence of Jacob Warrinner warbled once more through my soul; and I felt the spell of that dear man. He had been my friend; and I loved him still. When a young mm, and trying to preach, I had sometimes blundered. Others had criticized me coarsely; but Jacob Warrinner patted me on the shoulder, looked me warmly in the eye, and said: “Go on, my son, you have done well. Be thoughtful and persevere; and when I am gone you will be a man.” These were precious words; and dear to me still were the lips that had spoken them. My preaching brother, perhaps you have many years and much experience on your side. Your counsel is weighty, Then lay your hand gently on that young brother whose devoted, anxious heart prompts him to preach. Again, I say, criticize him gently. If God stooped to make him, he may not be worthless. An encouraging word will cost you nothing. Risk a few, then, on that young man. You may one day be glad you did it. But I am wandering.
Dick soon introduced me to Thorn as, whom I took to be an honest, steady boy. Musing on this incident I went into the meetinghouse. May there not be, I said to myself, something providential in this? I recollected that many people do not believe in special providence; yet, just then, the conviction of their reality clung very close to my heart. Indeed, I was in no mood to debate a question which strung me for the work of the day; and which afforded me so easy and so pleasing a solution of the presence of Dick and Thomas. Let fatalists talk as they may, thought I, I believe there is something in this. For why should God condescend to give His Son to save us; and yet decline to guide some trivial incident of life, when it can be made subservient to that great end? Or why should He think it worthwhile to number the very hairs of our heads; and still overlook the small, worldly affair which may help to save the immortal spirit? If He is not ashamed to watch the fall of sparrows, is it unworthy of Him to so link the events of earth as to make one, now and then, so fall out, as to help on his way back some prodigal longing to return? This may all be superstition; but I confess I envy not him his cold incredulity who can so regard it. I love the thought to lie close to my heart, that on even the humblest child of man, God looks ever more with special solicitude. Earth in its truer features is but the type of Heaven. Hum the mother sends her earnest wish with her boy wherever he wanders. Tell me not, then, that God leaves that child to pass through life a deserted and unnoticed orphan. Never.
But I was now in the meeting-house. The audience was of good size; yet not a Christian in it had come fifteen miles to worship that day, save Dick. Is not this a critique, I asked myself, on the small zeal of the proud white man? He does not toil; yet he travels no fifteen miles to meeting. I thought of the previous week’s labor of Dick. He might, with much reason, have claimed that day as a day of rest. I counted again his fifteen miles, and then went to work with heart. Thomas was in that congregation—a circumstance which I determined not to forget for the next hour and a half. In other words, though many were present, I intended my audience to consist, except by chance, of a single person. In my boyhood’s days, when hunting was the idol of my heart, I loved the single, fatal rifle shot. I resolved to try it now. In my speech I kept steadily in mind a plain, honest boy of sixteen. I knew if be had no great, cultivated mind to comprehend the subtleties of Christianity, he had an anxious, yearning heart to feel its blessed provisions. To this I trusted largely; and never have I trusted it in vain. Let him who sets out to preach, early learn this lesson, that man has a heart as well as a head. Logic is for this, love and sympathy for that. The one requires large culture in the hearer, the other large honesty in the speaker. The one cannot be misguided, the other should not. Logic merely cracks nuts; but love and sympathy unseal fountains of and few men, after all, are so lost as to be wholly devoid of the latter. In preaching I have always found it both safe and profitable to trust largely to the spiritual and better instincts of the human family. With them all are richly endowed, and, no doubt, for wise and gracious ends. But I am wandering again. My discourse, as already intimated, was to Thomas; and was exceedingly plain. It consisted in a simple statement of what Christ had done for him, and now required of him. In plowman’s phrase, I told the tale. This was my early dialect, and I spoke it to perfection. I felt that, might be, the interests of an immortal spirit were staked on that speech. I did not wish to make it too long; nor was I willing to stop short of the mark. At length I guessed the time and closed. My invitation ended, Thomas came forward and gave me his hand. Poor Dick was as near Heaven then, as he will ever be again, till he reaches that blessed abode. He could not sit, he could not stand, he did not shout, but clapped his hands; while tears ran over those toil-worn cheeks. He meekly occupied a distant corner of the house; and I felt, if angels delight to gather around the heart that is all full of gratitude to Christ, surely they must have a strange pleasure in folding their wings in that corner just then. I borrowed clothes for Thomas, and immersed him that evening. He and Dick retraced those fifteen miles; but, in what mood, the true heart needs not be told. The day had been a glorious one to me; and I returned home happy and thankful.
Two weeks after this, 1 was going to an appointment at Lexington, same State, when, within about one mile of their home, I met Dick and Thomas in the road. I need not say they were glad to see me. As Thomas was a quiet boy, Dick did most of the talking. “You have stirred up the Devil in this neighborhood, ” he began. (Dick alluded to the preachers!) “Since you baptized Thomas, the preachers have made you their text generally, sometimes Thomas; and, sir, they have even stooped to talk of poor Dick. For the Lord’s sake come and preach for us just once, if no more.” Dick, said I, on next Wednesday, God willing, I shall return this way on my road home. If you and Thomas will smooth off the top of a stump, under some shade trees, somewhere in the neighborhood, and will circulate the appointment, on that day. at eleven, I will preach for you. “God bless you!” replied Dick, “you shall have a place to preach, if Thomas and I have to work every night from now till then.” in a few minutes I took leave of Dick and Thomas, perfectly confident that this promise would be kept to the letter.
On the following Wednesday I returned. In the shade of some great trees, according to promise of Dick, I found a stand for myself, seats for the people; and close by, a Baptist church well locked. This last I at once interpreted as an evidence of a work of grace on the soul; and so felt perfectly content to speak out of doors. True, my stand was not an imposing one in appearance; nor were the seats of the model to suggest the easiest posture of body. But then from the one the Gospel could be preached, and on the others heard; and what cared I for more than this? Long ago, in Missouri, in stands like this, stood James McBride, Allen Wright, Duke Young, and other men of like noble type; and preached Christ to the crowds that came to hear them and seldom has it been better done. They are now gone to their rest; but a hundred years from this writing will still show traces of the vast, and now ill-appreciated, labors of these men of God. I felt proud to stand where they had stood, and humbly aid in carrying forward the work in which their lives had been spent.
The audience was large, unusually large for a Wednesday, A glance at it told me who they were, and what they were. They were an honest, agricultural people, blest with pertinent common sense and sound hearts. I deemed them a soil full of promise. There was a repose in the eye and an unsinister look, a candor in the expression of face, and an artlessness of manner, which filled me with hope. I felt inspired for the work of the day. The religious element of the audience was chiefly Methodist and Baptist. They were a plain, honest, unlettered people. Their prejudices I knew to be many and strong; and, believing them to be sincerely held, I determined to treat them tenderly. This course I have always found best with these parties. Among them are many truly pious and worthy people. They are deep in error, I verily believe, but this cannot be corrected by harshness. Let them be dealt with faithfully and firmly, but gently and in a good spirit. We, ourselves, do not like to be treated harshly. Let us remember this in dealing with others.
I had only that day and one more to remain in the neighborhood, without making a disappointment in a distant county, which I was most anxious to avoid. I consequently resolved to make the most of my limited time. Accordingly, I spoke for two hours and thirty minutes—an unconscionable length of time I grant. The attention was profound and most respectful. Indeed I never saw better I felt sure a deep and good impression had been made. The audience lingered on the ground, as if enchanted. The discourse was freely spoken of. Some dissented; but the greater number heartily approved. Many said, to use their own language, “If that was Cambellism, they had been Campbellites all their lives. It was the very thing they read in their Bibles, and was good enough for them.” An appointment was made for the next day, and the congregation separated.
The next day came and found the audience undiminished in size. Again the discourse reached through two hours and a half. At the close, four of the neighbor men came forward to confess their faith in Christ. The excitement was intense. Many a bosom, then, for the first time, heaved with deep, religious emotion; and men, unused to tears, bravely wept. I loved to see this. The heart that can weep is not wholly corrupt; and when men turn to Christ, I like to see them deeply broken in spirit. Let the proud heart be melted, and tears stream freely; it is well. There is hope in such tokens. The scene now to be enacted was an unusual one in that community. We had met in the shade of grand old trees. Never had Christ, there, in that primeval forest, been confessed after the primitive manner. The audience was silent as the dead. Each of those four strong men then formally and solemnly avowed his faith in Christ. We sang a song, gave them the hand and said, “God be with you.” The old members of the Stanley church now came out, and greeted these their neighbors, and greeted each other; and in the joy of that glad hour forgot the privations of past years. Last of all came Dick—that same Dick, gentle reader, that traveled those fifteen miles, and took with him Thomas. His heart was full. “Thank God,” was all he said, as he shook my hand and passed on to his seat.
I now felt that it would be highly improper to leave that audience in its present mood, and proceed to another appointment where, possibly, nothing might be accomplished; and so resolved to stay. Meeting was accordingly announced for the next day; and, we again adjourned. On the following day, eight confessed their faith in Christ. Thus the meeting continued, from day to day, until about forty were immersed. I give the number merely from memory.
Shortly after this, we met, about a mile distant, at a more convenient spot, for the purpose of organizing a church. The day was a glorious one—being the over-memorable first of the week. Previous devotion had prepared the brethren for the occasion. The whole country flocked together to witness the scene, the new converts were all present. Here, too, had come all that remained of the old Stanley church to take their scats once more in an assembly of the saints. Their joy was complete. They had long been disbanded. Meantime, their children had grown up; and in the recent meeting many of them had entered the family of God. Now, parents, and children, and neighbors, sat down together to have their names enrolled as members of the “one body.” Lovely was that sight! The object of the meeting was concisely, but clearly set forth. All were made fully sensible of the solemn step about to be taken. Appropriate portions of Scripture were read; and the names of the brethren then taken down in a book provided for the purpose. A hymn was now sung, and they gave each other the right hand of fellowship. The protection of the "Great Shepherd of the Sheep" was then fervently invoked on that little flock; and it was committed to His keeping. Will these dear brethren ever forget that day, that scene, and the resolutions there formed? I trust not.
A table was then spread; and on it were placed the emblematic loaf and cup. The supper was then eaten in memory of the Master, a song sung, and the services of the hour closed.
A question now arose as to where their future meetings should be held. It was unanimously agreed that they should be held on that spot. It was the base of’ a gentle hill looking toward the South. But what name should it bear? With one consent it was called South Point. It lies in Ray county, Missouri. Thus originated the name South Point, and the Church meeting there. It is very dear to the writer of this piece. He may never more see these brethren in the flesh. His fervent prayer is, that they may be ever true to their high calling. Also, will they remember to be kind to Dick, to whom, in the providence of God, they owe their existence as “a church?
Here, on this same spot, these brethren subsequently built them a house; and here do they still continue to meet to worship God. On the top of that gentle hill sleep the remains of Jacob Warrinner. His grave, like a faithful sentinel, looks ever down on the house at its base. It is hallowed ground. May God keep and bless the church that is planted there.
Thus, kind reader, to a single act of a servant man in his fidelity to Christ, do I trace the origin of a church, the joy of a neighborhood, and the salvation of many a soul. You may think it accidental; be not angry with me if I see fit to view it in a different light.
—Moses Lard, Lard’s Quarterly, Volume 1, pages 23-28
First Burial Place Of M.E. Lard
The Picture below is of the Receiving Vault at the Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky. Though Moses Lard's remains are presently buried in St. Joseph, Missouri, after his death, his body was interred in this cemetery. It was later disinterred from Lexington Cemetery and removed to its present location in St. Joseph.
Directions To Grave: Lexington Cemetery is one of the most beautiful old cemeteries in America. It is located on West Main Street heading away from downtown Lexington toward Leestown Pike. Turn right into the main entrance past the office. Stay on Main Avenue passing Henry Clay Monument on the left. As soon as you pass Clay's Monument begin looking to the right. The "Sunken Garden" section is on the right. If you get to section "K" you've gone too far. Be sure to see cemetery map linked below.
Moses Lard Is Buried In The
Mt. Mora Cemetery In Downtown
In Northwest Missouri take I-29 to Exit 47 (Frederick Blvd. which will become Frederick Ave.) and travel west toward downtown St. Joseph. Continue across South Belt Hwy. (Hwy. 169), past N36th St., After North Noyes Blvd. Frederick Ave. will bear to the southwest. Stay on Frederick Ave. When you pass N. 17th St. it will be the next street on the right. Turn right on Mt. Mora Rd. You will go directly into the Mt. Mora Cemetery that is enclosed by a wall. When you enter the cemetery you will see the office on your left. Continue past the office, follow the road to the far right and it will curve off to the left and up the hill. When you come to a triangle in the road stay to the right and stop just past the triangle. On the left you will see a cedar. Behind the cedar you'll see a tall double-pillar gravestone which would be Silas Woodson's Monument (1819-1896). He was governor of Missouri, and the son-in-law of Moses Lard. At the base of the monument is the name, "Woodson." On the opposite side of the base is the name, "Lard." If you stand looking at the name, "Lard," On the base of the Woodson Monument, the stones for Moses Lard and his wife (which is damaged) will be just to your right.
Note: Lard's daughter, Virginia Juliet was the third wife of Governor Silas Woodson, married Dec. 27, 1866. She gave birth to three children: Mary Alice, Silas Salmon, and Virginia Lard. Woodson served as governor from 1873-1875.
For further info: Mt. Mora Cemetery; 824 Mt. Mora Rd.; St Joseph, MO 64501-1644
Here For Map From Yahoo
*Special Thanks To Bill Goring of Kansas City, MO for sending the picture of the grave stone of Moses Easterly Lard And Also Thanks To William Boyd For Sending Great Directions To The Grave Plot. Also, some of the pictures were taken while I was on a trip through this area in October, 2004.
Note: The Years When Silas Woodson Was Governor, Was Most Noted As The Period When Jesse James, Notorious Outlaw, With His Gang Robbed Banks And Trains Throughout The Area. The Home Of Jesse James Is Also In St. Joseph, Missouri. Woodson Was Sought For Legal Protection From James To Prove His Innocence.