When the American Civil War began two years later, Bounds became a chaplain in the Confederate States Army and was taken prisoner during the first battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Upon his release, he felt compelled to return to war-torn Franklin and help rebuild it spiritually. His primary method was to establish weekly prayer sessions that sometimes lasted several hours. Bounds was regionally celebrated for leading spiritual revival in Franklin and eventually began an itinerant preaching ministry throughout the country.
Bounds was also named associate editor of the official Methodist newspaper, the Christian Advocate. He began writing books and articles almost continually until his death on August 24, 1913.
All of E.M. Bounds works are public domain, many are found on the internet in digital format.
Edward McKendree Bounds was born in Shelby County, Mo., August 15, 1835, and died August 24, 1913, in Washington, Ga. He was admitted to the bar, but was called into the Civil War as chaplain of the Fifth Missouri Regiment, too early to practice law.
He married Miss Emmie Barnett of Eufaula, Ala., in 1876. By this union he became the father of two daughters, Mrs. Bounds Ficklin and Mrs. Bounds Barnett. His wife died in 1886, and later he was married to Miss Hattie Barnett, by whom he became the father of five children, Miss Elizabeth Bounds, Miss Mary Willis and Miss Emmie, Osborn and Barnett. All his children are living.
After serving several important churches in St. Louis and other places, south, he became Editor of the St. Louis Christian Advocate for eight years and, later, Associate Editor of The Nashville Christian Advocate for four years. The trial of his faith came to him while in Nashville, and he quietly retired to his home without asking even a pension. His principal work in Washington, Ga. (his home) was rising at 4 A. M. and praying until 7 AM. He filled a few engagements as an evangelist during the eighteen years of his lifework in Washington, Ga.
While pastor in Atlanta, in 1905, the writer was informed that there was an apostolic man of prayer in Georgia that would aid the church in attaining a high altitude in spiritual things. The next mail carried a letter asking Mr. Bounds to come to our Convention for ten days' preaching. Naturally we expected to see a man of imposing physique, but when he came we discovered that he was only about five and a half feet tall, but in him we met one of the greatest saints that, in our humble opinion, has appeared on the spiritual horizon in the last hundred years.
He spoke the first afternoon on Prayer. No one seemed to be particularly impressed. The next morning at 4 A. M. we were amazed to hear him engaged in the most wonderful prayer we have ever listened to -- a prayer that seemed to take in both Heaven and Earth. His sermons were all about Prayer and Heaven. Not one morning during his stay did he fail to make his prayers at the "Great-While-Before-Day" Hour. He cared nothing for the protests of the other occupants of his room at being awakened at that unheard-of hour. No man could have made more melting appeals for lost souls and backslidden ministers than did Bounds. Tears ran down his face as he pleaded for us all in that room. J know of no other man on earth today, who, if he had followed the same experiment at the same place, in the same room, but would have gone away defeated. But Bounds was all-powerful, all-commanding, all-victorious, when once he knew his cause was just.
After that Convention we took him to our heart and never let him go. God sent him in answer to prayer to settle and establish the writer in the things of God that are foremost and supreme -- Prayer, Preaching, and the study of the Bible.
We were constantly with him, in prayer and preaching, for eight precious years. Not a foolish word did we ever hear him utter. He was one of the most intense eagles of God that ever penetrated the spiritual ether. He could not brook delay in rising, or being late for dinner. He would go with me to street meetings often in Brooklyn and listen to the preaching and sing with us those beautiful songs of Wesley and Watts. He often reprimanded me for asking the unconverted to sing of Heaven. Said he: "They have no heart to sing, they do not know God, and God does not hear them. Quit asking sinners to sing the songs of Zion and the Lamb." To what mysterious order of men did Bounds belong, anyway? Have they clean gone out of the world?
Few subjects are better fitted to afford interest in the mind of the fervent Christian reader than the subject Bounds has named: Heaven, A State, A City, A Home. He was so full of the "Heavenly Manna" that God produced through him the spiritual splendor that shines out of every chapter of his wonderful books.
In 1912 I wrote him to come to Brooklyn, N.Y., and spend a while in praying for me and my church. Here are a few extracts from his personal letters to us at this time which show the depths of his thought for a Home in Heaven.
"Washington, July 1, 1912: I am thinking more of going to Heaven than to New York. It is far better. But it is in God's will. I would enjoy being with you. God seems to have opened the way. I will have to wait on God for New York or Heaven as I am now very feeble. With all love and prayer."
"December 12 and 13, 1912: You will pray much. I am turning to you and Chilton. One of you must help me to do the work on my manuscripts that I want finished and published. I could go to you and then you could help me in odd times by prayer and consultation. We would then be together as long as God lets me live for His great work. We can issue the books conjointly and you can keep them if necessary until I die -- until God's fitting time to publish." On January 6, 1913, he writes as follows: "Dearly Beloved: A good time praying for you. Be at it early and late. Let your mind live in the spirit of prayer. The thought of heaven is sweet. I am right feeble, but will strive to work on and wait for God's time for heaven."
He was growing weaker and nearing the other shore when he wrote this letter: "April 21, 1913: God will manage our affairs if we will be filled with His affairs. I am trying to get matters in shape for my manuscripts. I am very feeble. I want to live for God, and then depart and be with Christ. I have an unspeakable desire to know the future, to see it and enjoy it, and to be there to see and enjoy. God bless you.
The following letters I call dying messages to one whom he loved:
"Washington, May 10, 1913: With all love and longing and prayers. God bless and keep you until eternal life. With many trials and tears, I am pressing on. I am still weak, but by sleeping in the day I can get through. When He is ready, I long for the heavenlies through Christ."
"Washington, Ga., May 22, 1913: Yours came. I have you in prayer, at it early and trying to be at it all the day. God bless you unto eternal life and hasten the day. Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Bear your boys on your prayers to the doors of heaven. I am getting the book ready to send to England. Pray God to open the way for it to His glory. In love and faithful prayer as my strength will allow."
He wrote one card dated June 26, 1913:
"Washington, Ga.: In prayerful sympathy and love. Hold to the old truth -- double distilled." The above card was the last word to us written by his own hand. On August 9, just before he died, his wife writes: "He was glad to hear from you but soon forgets. My physician says he will never be well again. His last message to you is characteristic: 'Tell him he is on the right line; press it. Have a high standard and hold to it.,
Then came the telegram announcing his homegoing:
"Washington, Ga., August 24, 1913: Doctor Bounds went home this afternoon; funeral here tomorrow afternoon. -- Hattie Bounds"
His prayer that his manuscripts be left until proper time for publishing has been answered. We have been working and compiling them for the space of six years, off and on, and have good reasons to believe that the Publishers will in due season issue them for the benefit of a world that sorely needs the golden thoughts of such a saint of God as was Edward M. Bounds.
Homer W. Hodge