Did I ever tell you about the time the preacher send me to hell? Oh, yes; right there in church, too, of a Sunday mornin'. I was still a young man, 'n Grace 'n I had walk over ta Church on a glorious Spring mornin'. Now our reg'lar preacher, Harley Marston, had been ask ta preach at the big First Church in Kingsport, huge brick buildin', white steeple a pointin' ta heaven. Why, it seem thet steeple almost reach to heaven, sometimes. He accept, a course. He arrange for Jonas Hurd to fill the pulpit on this day, and fill it he could!
Now Jonas were a deacon in th' church, 'n a jackleg preacher. Mountain of a man, he were. Goliath come to mind. In fact, the kids over to Plum Grove School call him Goliath. Ahind his back. To his face, they call him "Mr. Hurd, Sir." Hurd farm over by the school, an' he is the trustee that oversee the teacher, 'n he is responsible for the properties 'n all thet sorta thing. Jonas work five or six acres tabaccy, 'n it's a well-known secret thet he run a still sommers back in his woods. Take good care his fambly, though, an' this mornin' there sit Maudine Hurd, center th' front row to the right of the preacher, three a her kids on one side a her, four on th'other. She set to deliver the eighth, too, any day now, hit look like.
Anyway, Hurd takes the platform, plops his Bible down on the pulpit, raises both hands, look to the ceiling 'n holler with a mighty voice, "Lard, give us a voce a thunder 'n a tongue a farr as we divide thy holy Word of truth to these sinners among us. Ay-men, 'n ay-men." I do believe the Lord coulda heard him wheresoever He moughta been. All creatures could have heard him two mile around.
Then he light in. "Look to God's Word, Revelation, chapter twenty-one, 'n verse eight." His Bible is sittin' there on the pulpit, but he not needin' to look at hit, account he know what he gonna say. An' he quote, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is "the second death."
Now he is loaded for bear. "Now we good folk, here. Wouldn' you say we was good folk? They's no fearful unbelievers, no a-bom'nable nor murderers amongst us, well as fer all those sinners I jes' read about, we are not them. Are we? But wait! Liars! All liars! But Brother Hurd, you say, we'ns not liars. Really? Whut is a lie? Is a lie vicious 'n mean? Oh, it kin be. Is a lie told to hurt someone, or to gain a edge on someone? Oh, it kin be." And right here, Jonas step from behind the pulpit and walk to his left, all the way to the left side th' platform. Where he stood direckly afront of me, me a sittin' third row back, next th' wall.
"Oh," he shout, "but a lie is any untruth. It is a tale told big, stretch beyond the limits of whut really happen. It is in innocent fun. NO! It is a lie, an' all liars shall have their part in the lake of farr. Oh, sinner," 'n he is lookin' direckly inna my eyes, "do not let your lyin' tongue be cast inta hell farr, along a the rest a yore body, where parched 'n swollen hit will writhe in agony along of th' rest a yore body, forever 'n ever. For all eternity.
"Kin you imagine? All eternity. You cannot. See brother Seth a sittin' just yonder? Brother Seth has live ninety an' nine years, 'n yet the span a his life is no more'n a flyspeck on th' vault a God's sky above, compared to whut eternity is. Oh, sinner, repent of your lyin' ways. Prostrate yourself afore God Almighty 'n plead, beg, I say, for His gracious mercy on yore sorry soul afore it is too late."
With that, Goliath step down fum the platform, Bible under his arm, 'n march straight down the aisle 'n out the front door.
I look at Grace, she look at me, 'n 'thout a word, we rise together and head tord the door.
© 2014 David W. Lacy 38