During the last meeting that Mr. Jones conducted, which was at Oklahoma City, he suggested in conversation with me that he and I should set apart the approaching month of December for the purpose of getting together the material for a book containing the story of his life and work.
It was Mr. Jones's wish that we write the book, and he requested Rev. Walt Holcomb, who was associated with him in evangelistic work, to spend December in our home and assist us. Our plans were made to do as he had suggested.
But in the Providence of God, Mr. Jones was called to his reward; and Mr. Holcomb and I are left to carry out his plans. Acting upon the advice of friends, we began the manuscript as early as my strength would permit, and we have followed out in the preparation of this book what we believe would have been his wishes could he have spoken to us.
For nearly thirty-five years I have preserved newspaper and magazine accounts of his great meetings throughout the United States. In order to get our bearings, and map out the best plan for the book, it was necessary to get the material chronologically arranged, and do much careful and discriminating reading.
We have not tried to give a critical study of Mr. Jones and his labors, but to present them in the simplest way, that those who knew and loved him might have a true and plain record of his long and useful career. The book, however, will be suggestive to those who wish to know the secret of his wonderful life, for we have made free use of illustrations, anecdotes and stories related by Mr. Jones to make the work characteristic of him.
As there has been such a demand for his "Sayings," we have included many of them.
To those who would like a life of Mr. Jones which should be a critical analysis of his genius, and a philosophical study of his power and statement of his work, it is believed that the estimates of him, in these particulars, by the newspapers, pastors and citizens of the cities where he labored, and the tributes paid at the funeral and memorial exercises will be sufficient. For such an examination of the man the reader is, therefore, referred to the body of the work, and more particularly to the chapter entitled "A Study."
In this connection, however, we venture to insert, in part, an editorial from the Omaha Republican which has always seemed to his family and nearest friends to be a particularly sane estimate of Mr. Jones, and which he himself is known to have highly approved and prized:
"The primary cause of Sam Jones's strength as a preacher lies in the fact that he has brains. A mere explosion of slang and provincialism would not create much of an excitement for any length of time. Bald vulgarity would not have lifted him from a Georgia country pulpit to a position of national prominence in the religious world. When results are large and continuous, they must be considered just as they are. Prejudice cannot always trace them back to petty sensationalism.
"This man has preached all over the country. In every city he has visited he has met with opposition on his arrival. The general estimate of those who have not heard him, and who should not, as a consequence, estimate him at all, is unfavorable. But the people he attracts by the curiosity to see and hear him he holds by his force.
There is crude, rugged, epigrammatic vigor in what he says that appeals to the popular sensibilities. He carries more rocks in his pockets than frills on his clothes. He has the earnestness of the old-fashioned belief which never minces words, or introduces the name of the Almighty without prefatory apology. In Whitfield's time, when a sparse population and much solitude in the wilderness made the early pioneer introspective and emotional, Jones would have probably been as great a force as Whitfield. As it is, he has made larger progress in a cynical age, and in a day of veneer and superficial free thought. No ordinary man could have done this."
There was no good cause which, during his life, Mr. Jones did not love with all his heart and help with all his might. Everywhere, also, he was known to be the deadly and uncompromising foe of intemperance, as of every social evil and all worldliness. But his genius was also constructive and his kind heart beat true to every cause and institution which stood for the betterment of mankind. And so it has come to pass that in many cities of our land there are philanthropic establishments which but for his noble and knightly championship would to-day be unfounded or unbuilt.
We believe that he is not dead and will not die, and our dearest hope for this book is that it may fittingly and measurably at least perpetuate his name and fame and power.
Mrs. Sam P. Jones.
Cartersville, Ga., January 25, 1907