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thereafter felt that his knowledge of men and his facility in the management of the practical affairs of lifecame largely from this experience. During all this portion of his life his heart and mind were running in deep spiritual grooves. While staging in the far west or riding by rail, or while waiting for trains, his mind was at work on the deep things of soul-life. One of the best sermons that he delivered in after years was thus written upon telegraph blanks at the shelf of the operator in the station at Little Rock.
When in from his trips he was always engrossed in associated christian work, and expended his time and effort in church and charitable interests. Among other definite objects he worked with the Christian Commission, of Chicago, and helped to carry on a church mission in the city. It was during these services that his friends discovered his readiness and effectiveness as a religious teacher, and urged that he give himself wholly to the ministry. Accordingly, at the age of twenty-four, in 1867, he gave up his lucrative business connection and entered the Chicago Theological Seminary and in due time completed its course of study. Throughout his theological training he was noted for his powers of scripture interpretation, and the ability to grasp the true intent and meaning of the Word regardless of the ideas of the school-men and the copyists everywhere about him. Then, and always, he insisted upon his privilege of hearing the message himself, and of transmitting it verbatim as God had spoken it to him.
His first pastorate was at Sheboygan, Wis., where he remained seven years. Here his thoughts took shape in the inauguration of plans for the material and spiritual benefit of his people, which were an earnest of his greater usefulness in following years. His relations to his people were always most happy and cordial, and
personal friendships were cemented that continued without abatement to life's close.
In July, 1877, he came to Indianapolis, in answer to the call from Plymouth Church. He found the congregations small, the church edifice unattractive and mortgaged to its full value, and the church itself struggling for life. Undaunted by these forbidding conditions he recognized an opportunity, and set himself resolutely to the task before him. The work quickened under his hand, the congregations grew steadily, and from many sources came cheer and help. It soon became apparent that a new church-home was a necessity; and measures were inaugurated to accomplish that result.
When the church property was sold it was found that but five hundred dollars remained after the payment of the debts. The question was, how can ground be secured and a building erected with such a bank account? It was at this juncture that the fine business brain of Mr. McCulloch manifested itself. The raising of a sum of ten thousand dollars in cash from an impecunious congregation; the issue and sale at par of twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of fifteen-year six per cent. bonds; the building and outfitting of the church, and the many steps of triumphant progress made therein since its completion in 1884, form a record of successful life-work paralleled by few.
To estimate properly the services rendered by Mr. McCulloch during his fourteen working years in Indianapolis, would require a volume of space and must be left for other time and place. These it is unnecessary to recapitulate to those who knew him. The forces set in motion by him will go on, and many who have as yet not known of him will be gladdened by the abundant life which he made more possible; for he was, first of all, a teacher, a minister of the kingdom, a preacher of righteousness. He, himself, regarded his pulpit as the
very center of all his work, and his place as a minister as his great opportunity.
He brought to his work a soul born of God and in communion with him; a mind cleared and lighted by the divine ray; a heart susceptible to gracious love and tender pity, and lips touched as with the finger of God.
He came with a great message upon his heart, the weight of which never lifted, and the word of which was Life. "I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly." Men, women and children. were to live a higher, broader, deeper and sweeter life. The Kingdom of Heaven that was declared to be at hand was to him but the Kingdom of Life and Hope and Love.
He believed himself not only commissioned to preach, but chosen and sent. The voice of God in his own. soul was immanent and conclusive. To preach its Word, without hesitation or apology, accepting the consequences, was both his glad privilege and his high and sacred duty.
The voice from his pulpit was never uncertain, but always clear, confident, strong; proclaiming the words of life and hope, of truth and soberness, as they came warm and fresh from the heart of God.
That simple life lived in far-off Judea was a perpetual charm to his imagination, and laid a spell upon his heart that was never broken. To come to Jesus was to believe what he said, to make actual his thoughts, and to apply his principles in daily life. To preach Christ was to persuade people that the Sermon on the Mount was not given to be read only and wondered at, to be explained in long sermons and analyzed in learned disquisitions, but was to be lived-lived in the home, the office, the shop, the field, the street, by the roadside, wherever men and women meet their kind.
"All life," he said, "whether consciously or not, rests, if it builds for aye, on these principles of Jesus Christ. The business of the preacher is to reveal this; to show that trade, politics, law, medicine, industry, all rest on great nature-principles which, springing out of the heart of God, take on his name. It is this that transfigures life, makes it more than a scramble."
On these ideas Plymouth church was founded. It was organized as "A Church of Jesus Christ, gathered in his Name, and to do his Work; declaring union in faith and love with all who love him." Simply a common fealty to Jesus Christ, loyalty to his idea, fidelity to his principles, and devotion to his objects.
The conditions of membership in his church were made as simple as the invitation "Come, follow me." The response required was nothing further than the old answer, "I will leave all and follow thee." "When the call was made in '61," he once said, "it was not to soldiers, but to men. 'Come, rally round the flag.' 'But we know nothing of war.' 'True, but the situation will teach you.. The march, the fight, the camp, will make soldiers of you.' So with church membership. 'Come,' he said. 'But we are not Christians.' 'Well, take up the Christian idea; resolve to live by the Christian principle of holding your life high above low passions, and for the service of others, and you will become Christians."
This was the idea of membership in his church. It was made open to all who would take up thoughtfully and earnestly the Christian life. The church thus became responsible only to God, acknowledged no authority save the authority of truth, appealed to no creed but the creed of the individual conscience.
The membership and attendance, the general composition of this church is, of course, at once heterogeneous
and unique. It consists largely of the scattered from other denominations; the sheep without a shepherd, and those who have had no church-home, traditions or memories. Outside of the regular attendants," the solid circle of five hundred," are to be found all kinds and conditions, the transient, the shifting, the unchurched, the unknown and the friendless.
This congregation, composed of so many diverse elements and apparently so loosely held, has always sustained an exceptionally high moral and social character. In the fourteen years of his pastorate no trouble has occurred, no differences arisen, no breath of scandal, social, official or financial, has ever touched one member of the congregation. It has been united and enthusiastic in the support of the Pastor in all his undertakings, reasonably regular in attendance upon the services, and remarkably liberal in its subscriptions. The entire expense of the church proper has been borne by the voluntary offerings of the people. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need, has been the measure of expectation.
But to fuse all these elements into a mass, to inspire them with high ideas of life, to teach them the importance and value of church membership, to arouse their energies and unify their efforts, to teach them to speak plainly the word duty, was no easy task, and was necessarily the work of time. It took courage, faith, hope, patience and love-a looking forward to the day after to-day. It determined the character and method of the preaching and the kind of work that was undertaken.
To hold such a congregation is a test for the powers of the most gifted. The preaching must be varied, cheerful and attractive, yet plain, clear, and strong. It must reach alike the learned and the unlearned, the old and the young. It must warn the erring, strengthen