BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF RICHARD ANDERSON HOVIOUS.
There are many types of characters, though they may all be fashioned after the one great pattern, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each one is left free to fulfill his own mission under the guidance of inspiration in a way that he may think best. This leads each type to express in its own life the convictions of his soul. We rejoice in the variety of types and the work that each does. No one should despise the work of the other. The body of Christ is made up of many members, and each member fills his own office in his own way under the guidance of God. Each member must be left free to function as best he can for the welfare of the body and for the Glory of God. No member is to interfere with the free functioning of another member, and all the members are to be guided by the same spirit and the same instruction, that the body may fulfill its mission.
We have this illustrated in the life of Richard Anderson Hovious. He was born on June 6, 1846, at Kinfly, Ky. He was one of twelve children born to John Hovious, a native of Adair County. His father was a large landowner in Kentucky. His place was palled "Hovious," where the post office was located by that name for many years. His father, John Hovious, was a disciple, and taught his children the way of salvation. Young Richard Hovious was reared in a Christian home and received the rich legacy of the godly influence of a pious father. Such influences helped to shape the life of young Richard and caused him to turn his attention early in life to the preaching of the gospel.
Richard A. Hovious attended the common schools of Kentucky and received the fundamentals of a good education. He had an inquiring mind and a soul thirsting for knowledge. After he had received his training in the public schools, he began teaching in his native State at the age of eighteen. His teaching profession led him into public life, and he soon began to teach the Gospel. He taught school, and farmed during the Vacation. He was energetic and active. He was never idle, and he abomi- nated idleness, whether it was mental, physical, or spiritual idleness. At the age of nineteen, in tile full of 1865, he entered the College of the Bible at Lexington, Ky., and began studying under that prince of Bible scholars, J. W. McGarvey. He would attend school and preach one year, and the next year would teach school and preach. He continued this until he had completed his four years' college work under McGarvey. Brother Hovious was interested deeply in the languages. He was a close student of the languages and could speak fluently Greek, Hebrew. and German, an well as his native tongue. It was his delight to study the Bible in these different languages. He was a student and, a scholar, and was a teacher of no mean ability. He did not aspire to any lucrative position in any of the colleges or universities, though his education and training had well prepared him to fill a chair and teach any of these languages. A man of his type makes a good teacher of the bible. He did not care to waste his time or tax the patience of his hearers without giving them something to think about. He was a Splendid exegete of the Scriptures and found great joy in teaching the word of God to the people.
He continued to teach and made that his business in life. He taught in the public schools in Adair, Cayce, and Lincoln counties, Kentucky. Wherever he taught, there he also preached the gospel. While teaching he became acquainted with Miss Rebecca Jane Cloyd, of Middlesburg, Ky. They were married in 1873. Brother Hovious was twenty-seven years old at this time. He became the father of ten children. He trained these to believe in God and to honor him in their lives. When he was not in the schoolroom, he was out preaching the Gospel. Sometimes he would travel long distances on foot to preach to small audiences. He traveled on foot over many of the rural counties in Kentucky to preach the Gospel to the scattered congregations of his section of the State. His greatest strength was in teaching his brothers and sisters the way of the Lord more perfectly. Such men fill a very important place in the church. He went about his work in earnest and made no ado or noise about what he was doing: but calmly and quietly, like his Master, he taught the Lord's people to love and serve him more faithfully.
In 1883 he moved to Franklin, Ill., and began teaching there. He lived there only one year, but was busy teaching the church in the town and the churches in the country round about. In 1884 he moved to Springfield. Mo., and remained there a few years. He was instrumental in strengthening the churches in Missouri. He next moved to Kansas and labored there three years in the schoolroom. In all these places he was an important factor in building up the church and encouraging the brethren and sisters in living the Christian life. He had many bitter experiences while in Kansas. He was in what was known as the "Little River Territory," which was infested with many dangerous wild animals at that time. One night as he was returning from preaching a pack of wolves trailed him, and as he was walking they trailed him for some miles. When he reached home he was completely exhausted physically, but he had been able to fight off the wolves until he was safe at home. In 1887 he moved back to his native State, Kentucky, where he taught two years, in Washington and Andersen Counties. In 1889, when he was forty-three years of age, he moved to Adair County, his native county, and continued teaching and preaching in that county for ten years. He strengthened all the churches in that county by his godly life and teaching.
As his children grew up and married, they began to scatter. Some of them came to Tennessee and some went farther south into Mississippi. In 1901 he and his good wife followed some of his children to Nashville, Tenn. While in Nashville he was instrumental in helping to establish the congregation now worshipping at Joe Johnston Avenue. He now gave up teaching and gave most of his time to preaching the gospel. He continued this work, traveling into Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. His work in these States consisted largely in enlightening the congregations which were already established. However, he went into new fields and preached the Gospel to all who would give him their presence and attention.
Some thought that he was not as outspoken on the questions which divided the church at that time as he should have been. He occupied the position that his old teacher, J. W. McGarvey. occupied. He was a lover of peace and promoted peace wherever he went. However, as he was in the South where the lines were being drawn, he did not become a partisan in religion. He attempted to preach for both sides. This was an impossible task. He probably learned this after attempting it. He was misunderstood by some of his brethren and classed as a "digressive," yet he did not hold with them in the extreme views of the missionary society and the use of instruments in worship. He did not see his way clear to openly condemn the use of the instruments in worship, neither did he speak out against the missionary society. To be frank, but kind, we think that he made a mistake in not standing for the truth as he saw it. He was scholar enough to see the fallacious arguments that were made in favor of these innovations. He understood the Greek language so well that he knew that the argument made on "psallo" for the use of instruments of music in the worship today was unsound, but he did not condemn the use of the instrument. He preferred to preach or teach those subjects which all believed and which caused no strife on the part of those who introduce the innovations. No one doubted that he was a good man. All who knew him recognized him as a man of God, but regretted that he did not take a firm stand, for the simple New Testament order of work and worship.
Brother Hovious died on May 23, 1922, at Norfield, Miss. He lived about seventy-six years to labor and love upon this earth. He has one son and one grandson who are now preaching the gospel with firmness in its fullness.