In 1907 the Association of Pentecostal Churches of the East and the Church of the Nazarene of the West had met in Chicago and had united, and become one church under the name of Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. Brother C. B. Jernigan, who has been and who is today one of the most untiring workers in the Southwest, went from the South to Chicago and met with them in the union of those two bodies. At that time he was at the head of the Holiness Church of Christ. Through the influence of Brother Jernigan plans were made for their next General Assembly to meet in September of 1908, in Pilot Point, Texas. There the various bodies of holiness people united, and all took the name of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, which name it held until 1919 when the word Pentecostal was dropped and they brought it back to the first name that Dr. Bresee had given it when he organized it in Los Angeles, October 20, 1895. The name then was given as The Church of the Nazarene. While we are commonly called the Nazarene Church that is not our name. Let it be remembered for all time that the name of this church is The Church of the Nazarene. That is the most beautiful name in the whole world, for in Matt. 2:23 we read this remarkable statement: “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” We have the most beautiful name in the world for our church. Not only was Jesus a Nazarene but we also have the apostle Paul. All denominations claim St. Paul but the Nazarenes are the people that have really got him. In proof of that read Acts 24:5: “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.”
Some good people have told us that we did harm because we belonged to a sect and have tried to prove their doctrine by St. Paul. But we are the crowd that have him.
During this great assembly in Pilot Point Dr. E. P. Ellyson was elected one of the General Superintendents. Before that Dr. P. F. Bresee and Dr. H. F. Reynolds were the two General Superintendents, but in the fall of 1908 Dr. E. P. Ellyson was elected General Superintendent also. During that assembly the plans were made to invade the beautiful old Southland. The next General Assembly was set for three years ahead to meet in the fall of 1911 in Nashville, Tennessee, with our good Brother J. O. McClurkan, the founder of the Pentecostal Mission; the founder also of our school in Nashville, Trevecca College. He was then editor of the paper called Living Water. Since that time our good Brother McClurkan has gone to live with Jesus. It is wonderful how God has raised up great and good men but it seems strange that then He should translate them when apparently they were right in the most useful period of their lives. But He has always planned some other man should take up the work and carry it on. It was so at Nashville, it has been so everywhere else.
When the time came for the General Assembly to meet, behold the delegates were there from California, and Washington and Oregon and from the West and Northwest, and from far-off Maine, and all the Eastern and Northern states were represented. This was one of our greatest General Assemblies. It was the first one after the various branches of the holiness movement had united. Two bodies united in 1907 in Chicago; two other bodies united in 1908, and by 1911 the great work of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, not only was reaching out to the entire United States but it was beginning to reach out to the foreign fields. Today the Church of the Nazarene has girdled the globe. From that General Assembly we went out to all quarters of the nation, and many missionaries were there from almost every mission field.
God has brought the various bodies of the holiness movement together until, while they are not all in one body as a church, they are one in doctrine and experience, and as to their church government there is but little difference. We are one great body of believers. If there were a union of Nazarenes, Pilgrim Holiness, Wesleyan Methodist and Free Methodists there would be nearly 150,000 people, every one of them believing in a whole Bible for a whole world and a salvation from all sin for all men through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. We may not live to see this great union but it is very likely that before many years at least the most of these good people will be in one great body, in order that they may defend the Bible and the faith of our fathers. In fact, as this old man sees it, we need only two Protestant churches in America. We firmly believe that all people who believe every word of the Bible could be in one great denomination, and we see no reason why all of that crowd who have found so many mistakes in the Bible should not be in one great church. for there is no difference in their lives and conduct, and as far as we can see there is no difference in their faith. This would make up two Protestant churches of the United States.
Going back a few years, there has been in my mind a peculiar feeling that I ought to write up a dream that I had once, or probably a vision. I have hesitated because I have never been visionary, but after all a man doesn’t have to be a visionary man to have visions. As a rule when a man has a vision he gets busy and works it out; while on the other hand a visionary man apparently never gets anything done.
A number of years ago while I was holding a meeting, in a dream I was carried back to Georgetown, Texas, and was in the little home, a beautiful cottage that belonged to my wife when she and I were married. It seemed to me that I arose very early one morning and walked out from that cottage a few miles to the mountains. Everything was lovely, the flowers were in bloom, the birds were singing, the dewdrops were hanging from every leaf and every twig of grass. I had never seen a more beautiful morning in my life. As I strolled through the woods I could see the bees gathering honey and the birds were singing and making such melody that it seemed all the earth was full of music. I walked to the top of a beautiful mountain where I had never been before. Off to the west there lay before me a great valley; it looked to be a mile deep and several miles wide. Across the valley there was another mountain running parallel with the one I stood on and I could see up and down that valley for miles. The sun was coming up over the mountains and as I looked up that valley it seemed to me that I could see a wall of black, muddy water rolling down the valley until it seemed it would fill the valley to the top of each mountain. It came slowly down the valley and when it came within about one mile to my right I could hear the roar of the water. I couldn’t imagine where such a flood of muddy water had come from but when it came nearer, instead of being the roar of the water it was shrieks and wails and groans and to my sad surprise the Lord showed me that that valley was full of precious, immortal souls who were rolling just like black, muddy water. I looked and it seemed like a few hundred yards to my left in the twinkling of an eye those mountains and that valley were cut in two and the mountain and valley cut off seemed to flee miles and miles into the distance. I could see them disappearing and then there was a gulf left that looked to be thousands of miles in every direction, a chasm without a bottom. Then I saw that the river of immortal souls was going to go over that awful precipice into that chasm I began to scream to them at the top of my voice to stop, that just a little way down was the awful chasm, but they paid no attention to me. I saw something must be done. I ran right into that black, muddy water and grabbed up my arms full of those black, muddy human souls; it seemed that they were almost as large as men but I could carry my arms full of them. I dragged them out and laid them down right on the top of the mountain where I was standing. And when I laid them down they rose up, the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen, robed in white. I didn’t stop, but ran back and gathered my arms full again and brought them out and laid them down and they rose up like the others and looked like angels. On I went without stopping until it was high noon and the sun coming on my head was very warm. I was getting tired and was wet with perspiration but on and on that valley was full of black, muddy souls, and on I went and stopped for nothing. I became hungry and thirsty but I never stopped. Just as fast as I could run in and get my arms full and lay them on the mountain, they would rise up like angels and I would go back for another load. Finally it seemed to me I was completely exhausted and didn’t see how I could make another trip into that black, muddy river. But as I stood there and gazed at that rolling body of what first seemed to be muddy water their shrieks and wails and groans so pierced my heart that I couldn’t stand it and ran back into that muddy river and got my arms full; I dragged them out and laid them down on the bank, and they rose up and stood beside me, the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. I thought I must make one more trip. I threw myself in and mustered up all the strength I had. I got my arms full and could not lift them up but simply dragged them out and laid them down. I could see their feet at the edge of the water and I could not make another trip. I was wet with perspiration and the muddy water was scattered all over me, I had no strength left and just as I could see the rim of the sun sinking over the mountain I dragged out my last load of precious immortal souls. I lay down on the mountainside to rest a minute and there gathered around me tens of thousands of the most beautiful creatures that my eyes had ever beheld. They were the souls I had dragged out of that muddy river. They sang the most beautiful song I had ever heard and while they were singing and rejoicing it seemed to me like the Lord drew very near to me and said to me, “Your day’s work is done.” Just as He told me that my work was done I awoke out of my sleep, but beloved, for days and weeks afterward every time I went to sleep I could see those beautiful mountains and that black, muddy river and those precious, immortal souls coming down the valley and into that chasm by the teeming millions, and I could see that scripture: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, but broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” Thank the Lord for the many I had pulled out, but many went over the precipice and nobody was pulling them out.
I don’t knew whether it was a dream or a vision, but it has lingered with me for thirty or forty years. Many times since that vision, especially in the last few years in working the districts and touring the states, I have felt like I would have to quit and yet I could look back and see the black, muddy river and say, “Dear Lord, I must run in and drag out one more arm load.” But thank the Lord, by His grace and loving mercy I have been able to pull a few out of the river of death.