Book Review: Mabel Clement by J.M. Sallee

Mabel Clement by J.M. Sallee

A fictional novel that teaches Baptist distinctives?  At first this idea seems to be a contradiction, but in reality it is one of the most helpful books ever written on the issue.  “Mabel Clement” is a novel set in late 19th century Texas.  It tells the story of a young Church of Christ girl named Mabel Clement and how she becomes a Baptist.

The Kentucky connections to the book are significant.  John Milton Sallee (1849-1915) was from Somerset, Kentucky.  He pastored the Middlesburg, Cox’s Creek and Henderson Baptist Churches before moving to Texas in 1899 to pastor the Beesville Baptist Church.  While pastoring the First Baptist Church of Henderson, Kentucky, Sallee preached a series of sermons setting forth the differences between Baptists and the Church of Christ.  The messages were so well received that the congregation asked Sallee to publish them in a pamphlet.  Instead Sallee choose to express his Baptist convictions in narrative form.  The result was “Mabel Clement.”

W.W. Gardiner, himself a noted Kentucky Baptist, once told Sallee that he would trust his interpretation of some portions of Scripture more than that of Dr. John Broadus.  When Sallee asked, “Why?”  Gardiner replied, “Because you have been forced to know some things that Dr. Broadus never had to know.”  Pastoring in Kentucky in the nineteenth century, Sallee was forced to know how to response to the followers of Alexander Campbell.  In the book Sallee gives Biblical answers on such questions as salvation by faith alone, the design of baptism, the rightful participants in the Lord’s Supper, falling from Grace, and the depravity of the sinner.  Each of these subjects are addressed within the wider framework of the story, making the book enjoyable to read and the issues easier to understand.

“Mabel Clement” was first published by the National Baptist Publishing House of Fulton, Kentucky in 1903.  It was later republished by the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee in 1926.  It was last reprinted by John R. Gilpin of Ashland, Kentucky in 1956.  Today the book is out of print, although copies can readily be purchased on and  The book can also be read online in its entirety at: and   I encourage you to read this helpful book for yourself.

Reviewed by Ben Stratton, Pastor of the Farmington Baptist Church, Farmington, Kentucky

This book review originally appeared in the J.H. Spencer Historical Society journal.  If you enjoyed it, why not consider joining this Kentucky Baptist Historical Society.  To join or for more information write to:

J.H. Spencer Historical Society

P.O. Box 26

Farmington, KY 42040



How Well Do You Know Kentucky Baptist History?

1. Where is the oldest Baptist meeting house still standing in Kentucky?

2. What Baptist preacher baptized Isaac McCoy, the greatest Indian missionary who ever lived?

3. What Baptist preacher is given credit for baptizing George Washington?

4. What Baptist preacher became Governor of Kentucky?

5. What Kentucky Baptist preacher helped ordain J.R. Graves to the ministry?

6. What individual born in Lincoln County, Kentucky has a University named for him in Texas?

7. Which President of the United States once owned over 90,000 acres in Kentucky?

8. What former Baptist meeting house still stands on Runnymede Farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky?

9. What Baptist preacher did Thomas Jefferson say influenced him concerning the best plan of Government for Kentucky?

10. Who baptized Abraham Lincoln’s father?

11. What future automobile manufacturing company brought the headstone for Abraham Lincoln’s mother?

12. What outlaw’s father was an original trustee of William Jewell College?

The answers to these questions and much more are in the new book: “The First Fifty Baptist Churches in Kentucky” by Mickey Winter

223 pages, hardback. $10 postpaid.

Order from the author:
Mickey Winter
135 Oak Drive
Waynesburg, KY 40489
(606) 386-1453

E.C. Routh on Baptists Through the Ages

“Soon, there emerged the heresies of baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, the dominance of certain bishops over other  bishops, the control of religion by the State, and the persecution of dissenters.  But all the way along, even through the Dark Ages, there were groups of believers who, like their Lord, endured the cross, despising the shame.  They were called various names, but they were true to the only  Name, the Name above every name, by which sinners may be saved and saints sustained and strengthened.  Whatever their name, they believed in soul-liberty, salvation by grace, a regenerated church  membership, the priesthood of believers, believer’s baptism, and separation of Church and State.  They blazed a trail ofttimes marked by the blood of their devotion to the Word of God.”  E.C. Routh 

Eugene Coke Routh (1874-1966) served as editor of Southern Baptist publications for 41 years.  This included the “Baptist Standard” (1912-1927), the “Oklahoma Baptist Messenger” (1928-1943) and the “Commission” (1944-1948).   This quote shows that even as late at the mid-twentieth century, many leading Southern Baptists still held to some form of Baptist perpetuity and the Trail of Blood.  The above quote is from his 1951 book “Who Are They,” page 67.  It is from the chapter “Who Are The Baptists?”



Baptist Succession in 1674

“By all which ye see by plentiful Evidence, that Christ hath not been without His Witnesses in every age, not only to defend and assert the true, but to impugn, and to reject (yet, even to death itself) the false Baptism.  In so much that we are not left without good testimony of a series of succession, that by God’s providence hath even kept afoot, of this great ordinance of believer’s baptism ever since the first times.”   Henry D’Anvers, 1674

(Henry D’Anvers {?-1686} was an English Baptist preacher and author.  The above quote is from pages 321-322 in his work “A Treatise of Baptism” first published in London in 1674.  Notice that D’Anvers believed that from the days of the New Testament until the present, Christ hath had a “succession” of His people who rejected false infant baptism by sprinkling and held to believer’s baptism by immersion.  Like other Baptists of the 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s, D’Anvers held to the Trail of Blood view of Baptist history and origins.)

B.H. Carroll on a Closed Lord’s Table

“There is no more convincing argument against open communion of any kind. No open communion argument can stand before the declaration, “It is the Lord’s table . . . No matter what anybody says, we should stick to the doctrine that Christ placed that table in his church, not for them to say who shall come, but for God to say who shall come. One has to be inside the church before he is entitled to sit at the Lord’s Table.”  B.H. Carroll

B.H. Carroll, An Interpretation of the English Bible, vol. VIII, 180.

Is Your Spouse Not a Baptist?

“Is your wife or husband, a member of some other than a Baptist church?  Would you like to have your companion in a Baptist church with you?  Well, you can secure your cherished object by kind treatment, good Baptist literature, a sweet spirited discussion of your points of issue, and a mutual reading of the Bible together.  Don’t make your companion miserable by nagging and quarreling, but win him, or her, by persuasion, kindness and truth.” J.N. Hall

(J.N. Hall {1849-1905} was a noted Southern Baptist pastor and editor at the turn of the twentieth century.   He was the first elected moderator of the West Kentucky Baptist Association and pastored such churches as First Baptist Fulton, Arlington, and Wickliffe, Kentucky. He also edited Baptist papers as The Baptist Gleaner, The Western Recorder, and The Baptist Flag.  The above quote is from the book “Elder J.N. Hall, The Peerless Defender of the Baptist Faith”, page 170.)

Elder S.G. Shepard, Dr. W.O. Carver’s father-in-law

“Bro. J.H. Grime was followed by Elder S.G. Shepard, the old man fiery and eloquent.  Colonel Shepard, as he is called, is said to have professed religion behind the famous rock fence in the battle of Gettysburg at the junction of the battle when the tide turned in favor of the Union army.  Bro. Shepard’s address was full of interest. One statement that he gave with emphasis was that, in spite of all that had been said and written to the contrary, he believed there was an unbroken continuity of regular Baptist Churches through the ages back to the apostles. Bro. Shepard was twice the pastor of Mt. Olivet Church. He is the father-in-law of Prof. W.O. Carver of Louisville, Ky.”    – John T. Oakley

(Dr. William Owen Carver {1868-1954} was a long time professor of missions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He was also one of the first professors to support liberalism in the seminary.  It is interesting to note that his father-in-law was such a staunch Baptist pastor in Tennessee.  The quote is from the Baptist and Reflector newspaper, May 9, 1901.   Oakley was describing the 100 year anniversary service of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church of Leeville, Tennessee.  Both Oakley and Grime were leading pastors, debtors, and authors among the Baptists of Middle and West Tennessee.)