Archibald McLean Thomas and Alexander Campbell (1909)



International Centennial



Disciples of Christ


Decorative Device


Copyright, 1909
by the
American Christian Missionary Society
Cincinnati, Ohio

I. The Preparation of These Men for Their Mission
II. The Program of Thomas and Alexander Campbell
III. The Methods Employed by Thomas and Alexander Campbell
IV. Some of the Results of Their Propaganda
V. Something About These Men Themselves

By Archibald McLean

      Thomas and Alexander Campbell were fortunate in many respects: they were well-born, they lived in a time of unusual opportunity, they were eminently successful. A study of these men and their achievements should not be without profit to all who are interested in the Kingdom of God. I propose to speak of their preparation for their mission, of the program they outlined for themselves, of the methods they employed, of the effects of their work, and of the men themselves.

I. The Preparation of These Men for Their Mission

      Thomas Campbell was born in County Down, Ireland, Feb. 1, 1763. His father was a soldier and was with Wolfe at Quebec. He separated himself from the Catholic church and became a member of the Anglican church, and served God according to act of Parliament. Thomas Campbell received a good English education in a military school. While yet a lad he gave himself in love and trust to the Lord, and decided to spend his life in the Christian ministry. He united with the Seceder church, an offshoot of the Established Church of Scotland. Through the aid of a friend he was enabled to attend Glasgow University for three years. After his graduation he took the full seminary course prescribed for ministerial candidates. Before his ordination and after he taught school; this was necessary to support himself and his family. Thomas Campbell was said to be the most earnest and devoted minister in the synod to which he belonged. [17]

      While still in Ireland he saw and lamented the divisions in religious society and their evil effects. The small Seceder church was divided into four branches; all held the same creed, but each claimed that it was the true church. The branch to which he belonged was particularly bigoted. It excommunicated one man because he listened to James Haldane and Rowland Hill preach. It disciplined a stone-mason because he did some work on an Episcopal chapel. It denounced Whitefield as an enthusiast who was doing the work of Satan. Thomas Campbell sought to unite two of these bodies that had so much in common, but failed. In the synod he out-argued his associates, but they out-voted him.

      In the year of 1807, on account of ill-health caused by overwork, Mr. Campbell was advised to take a long sea voyage. This led him to visit America. It was his purpose, if he were pleased with the country, to send for his family. On his arrival he found work in Washington County, Penn. The population was sparse and religious privileges few. Because of the division of the church, large tracts of the country were deprived of a gospel ministry, and the people enjoyed few more religious advantages than if they were living in the midst of heathenism. Mr. Campbell sought to benefit all sorts and conditions of men. He invited all who felt that they were Christians to come to the Lord's Table, whether they belonged to the branch of the church to which he belonged or not. He was anxious to shepherd those scattered sheep in the wilderness. His conduct raised a tremendous outcry. He was accused of heresy and brought to trial and found guilty. He had invited some people who held the same creed, but differed in some minute details, to the Holy Supper. He had openly lamented the divided state of the church, and had spoken of the blessedness of unity and purity and peace. That was the head and front of his offending.

      On an appeal to a higher court, the sentence was set aside on account of some informality, and the whole matter was referred to a special committee. This committee accused him very unjustly [18]

Illustration, page 19
Brush Run Church

of evasion and equivocation. Party feeling ran high. Men of less ability and learning sought to deprive him of his good name. Spies were sent to take notes on his discourses and to report upon his conduct. He said that it was only because of the law of the land that his head was left upon his shoulders. Because of this ungenerous treatment, he withdrew from the synod and held himself unaffected by its censures and no longer subject to its control.

      Having cut himself loose from all denominational moorings, he was not idle, but continued to preach and teach as he found opportunity. He spoke in private homes, and in groves when the weather permitted. Feeling that his position was somewhat abnormal, he called his friends together to consider what should be done. He had no thought of organizing a new party. He wished to put an end to all parties and unite all Christians upon the Bible as the only authoritative rule of faith and practice. It was at that meeting that Thomas Campbell proposed as a rule of action the famous maxim, "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent." It was there and then resolved to form the Christian Association of Washington. This was not a church, but a society for the promotion of Christian union [19] and a pure evangelical reformation by the simple preaching of the gospel and the administration of the ordinances in exact conformity to the divine standards.

      A house of logs was built as a place of meeting for the Association. In a farmhouse nearby Thomas Campbell wrote the "Declaration and Address." Such a publication was deemed highly expedient. The "Declaration and Address" was a statement of the principles upon which they proposed to act. This document has been fittingly called the Great Charter of our movement. The germs of all subsequent developments are in it. I regard it as one of the greatest, if not the very greatest, document ever written on American soil.

      Alexander Campbell was born near Shane's Castle, County Antrim, Ireland, Sept. 12, 1788. He was brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In his home there was prayer and song every night and morning. The Scriptures were read and memorized every day in the year. Alexander Campbell was acquainted with good books from his birth. He spent several years in a school taught by his uncles. His father spared no pains to make him a good classical scholar. Being an athletic youth, for a time he preferred rod and gun and work in the open air to books. Then a change came over him, and he applied himself with great diligence to his studies. He sought to store his mind with useful knowledge. Books became his constant delight. The finest passages in Greek and Latin and French and English literature, both prose and poetry, were committed to memory.

      While assisting his father in the school he became a Christian. It was the wish of his father that he should enter the ministry. His boyish soul was filled with wonder at the number of religious sects around him,--Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians of various kinds, and Independents. The more he saw of these sects, the more the conviction grew upon him that the existence of sects and parties was one of the greatest hindrances to the spread and triumph of the gospel. [20]

Photograph, page 21
Foundation of Brush Run Church (1909)

      When Thomas Campbell left for America, Alexander took charge of the school, and was the head of the house. In the year 1808 the family received word to close the school and dispose of the property and sail for the new world. The ship on which they embarked was wrecked on the coast of Ireland, and all on board were in imminent danger of losing their lives. Sitting on the stump of a mast, Alexander gave himself wholly to the Lord, and vowed that if his life were spared he would devote himself to the preaching of the gospel. Escaping from the wreck, and collecting such goods as they could, the family decided to spend the winter in Glasgow, that Alexander might attend the university. He made the most of his opportunities that year. He studied from four in the morning till ten at night.

      In Glasgow Alexander Campbell made the acquaintance of several men who profoundly influenced his life. These men represented different religious bodies and held these things in common: Independency in church government, and a more strict adherence to the Scriptures in faith and practice. Some observed the Lord's Supper weekly; some held to believers' baptism and to immersion. But these were not urged upon any one. One result of his year [21] in Glasgow was that he separated himself from the Seceders. He did not then unite with any other body, but he broke with the people among whom he had been born.

      The next year the family arrived in America. Father and son were surprised and pleased to find that they stood on substantially the same platform. One of the first things his father asked Alexander to do was to read the proof-sheets of the "Declaration and Address." The son was delighted, and declared that he would devote his life and strength to the advocacy of the principles contained in that immortal document. At the first reading the son saw some of the implications that the father did not see. He saw that if the "Declaration and Address" were followed to its logical conclusion infant baptism would have to be abandoned. The father did not think so, and the matter was passed over for the time.

      This brief historical outline shows how these men were prepared for their mission. They were not ignorant novices; they were Christian men who had the benefit of university training. They had ample knowledge of sectarianism and its fruits. Before leaving Europe they had conceived the greatest antipathy to party spirit and to all its workings and manifestations. They had caught a vision of a united church and an evangelized world, and they were cheered and charmed by the sight.

II. The Program of Thomas and Alexander Campbell

      As I understand it, their program can be stated in a single sentence, "The union of all God's people on a basis of Holy Scripture, to the end that the world may be evangelized." Luther's fundamental idea was that of justification by faith as opposed to justification by works of law and merit. Luther faced the problem of sin, and sought a way of escape from its guilt and condemnation. The Campbells faced a divided and discordant church, and sought its reunion. The gathering together of all the children of God scattered abroad is the core of this great religious movement. In [22]

Photograph, page 23
Buffalo Creek, where the Campbells were baptized

the first proposition of the Address, it is said that the church of Christ on earth is "essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one." "It must necessarily exist in particular places and distinct societies, yet there ought to be no schism, and no uncharitable divisions among them. All should walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing, and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

      When they turned to the New Testament they read of one body and one Spirit; of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all; of one flock, and one Shepherd. They read, "For in one Spirit were ye all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit." The church is a unit; baptism is a unifying ordinance. In his intercessory prayer our Lord asked four times that his followers might be one. His desire was that they might be one even as He and the Father are one. Paul urged his converts to complete his joy, being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Everywhere the emphasis is on unity. Divisions and factions are unsparingly condemned. "Mark them that are causing divisions and occasions of stumbling, and turn away [23] from them." "A man that is a factionist after the first and second admonition, avoid." Factions and divisions and heresies are set down among the works of the flesh.

      When the Campbells looked over the religious world they saw that the people who held the same confession, and who would have died rather than deny it, would not sit down together at the Communion Table. They had ninety-nine points in common; at one point they differed, and on that account they would have no fellowship. Men and women claiming to love and serve the same Lord were hateful and hating one another. Greek and Catholic had nothing in common. Neither would worship or work with Protestants. Among Protestants there was an endless variety of creeds and parties. These parties had as little hope of the salvation of their own neighbors as they had of the Unspeakable Turk. The nearer they were together, the farther they were apart. The results of these divisions were evil and only evil, and that continually. Growth in grace and knowledge was arrested. Christ was dishonored and his banner trailed in the dust. The Holy Spirit was grieved and quenched.

      Thomas and Alexander Campbell looked on this picture and on that. They saw the church as described in the New Testament and the church of their own day. They felt impelled by the Divine Spirit to do what they could to repair the breaches that had been made, and to heal the hurt of the people of God. They prayed and labored to see all divisions abolished, and Christians of every name united upon the one foundation on which the apostolic church was built. They endeavored to hasten the happy time when Zion's watchmen should see eye to eye, and all should be called by the same name.

      Two Irish immigrants on the outskirts of civilization, without name or social position, without money or influential friends, relying on God and the righteousness of their cause, undertook the colossal task of reconstructing Christendom. History does not furnish a finer illustration of the moral sublime. It was equal to [24]

Photograph, page 25
Parlor of Campbell Home (1909)

the attempt of William Carey, when he undertook in his own person to convert the world to Christ.

      The union these men sought to effect was based on the Word of God. Their motto was, "Union in truth." They held that nothing was to be inculcated on the church as articles of faith, nor required as terms of communion, but what is expressly taught and enjoined in the Word of God. They said, "Nothing ought to be admitted as of Divine obligation in the church's constitution and management but what is expressly enjoined by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles upon the New Testament church either in express terms or by approved precedent." They maintained that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the one authoritative bond of union and the one infallible rule of faith and practice. The Campbells proposed to begin anew, to begin at the beginning. They wished to come fairly and firmly to original ground, upon clear and certain premises, and take up things just as the apostles left them; that thus disentangled from the accruing embarrassments of intervening ages they might stand with evidence upon the same ground on which the church stood at the beginning. This was a program far more thorough than that of Luther or [25] Calvin. This was not a reformation in which some abuses were to be lopped off, but a complete restoration of primitive, apostolic Christianity in letter and spirit, in principle and practice.

      One of the maxims most insisted upon was "Bible names for Bible things." They contended earnestly for a pure speech, for the form of sound words. They wished to use the very language of Scripture in relation to any subject of which it treats. They were careful to set forth Scripture doctrine in Scripture terms. They wished to inculcate nothing as a matter of faith or duty not expressly contained on the sacred page and enjoined by the authority of the Saviour and His apostles upon the Christian community. In presenting Scripture ideas they preferred to do so in the very words of Scripture; for they feared that if the phrase was not found in the Book, the idea that it exactly represented was not in the Book. They taught that there was danger of introducing unscriptural ideas with unscriptural terms. As far as possible they avoided the use of scholastic phrases and what they called the Babylonish dialect of the dark ages. They said, "What we insist upon is the moral necessity of the constant, strict, and undeviating use of the language of the Holy Scriptures upon every item of Divine truth, that whether we preach or teach, it may be in the words of the Holy Spirit, that by so doing we may neither corrupt the truth nor cause divisions." They insisted also on using Scriptural terms in the Scriptural sense.

      The end of the union contemplated by the Campbells was the evangelization of the world. They maintained that nothing was essential to the conversion of the world but the union and cooperation of Christians. For forty-one years "The Millennial Harbinger" carried upon its title-page the great missionary text, "I saw another messenger flying through the midst of heaven having everlasting good news to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgments is come, and worship him who made heaven, and [26]

Photograph, p. 27
Bethany Church

earth, and sea, and the fountains of water.'" These men sought in every way to contribute to the universal spread of the gospel and the introduction of the happy era when the tabernacle of God will be with men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and shall be their God. The union they sought was not an end in itself, it was a means to an end. When our Lord prayed for the unity of his followers it was that the world might believe that the Father sent Him, and that He loved them as He loved the Son. If all did wear the same name, and spake the same thing, and were of one heart and one soul, and did nothing, what would be gained? The union our Lord had in mind was for the sake of efficiency and economy. A united church would do what a divided and contentious church could not. A united church would be a moral miracle and would convert the world. In a recent book I read, "In a united church of one hundred and twenty there may be power enough to convert a world; in a disunited church of one hundred and twenty millions there may not be power enough to combat even the evils in the lands in which it exists." The church has the men and the means to evangelize the world in a generation, if the different religious bodies would unite and use all their energies for this purpose. [27]

III. The Methods Employed by Thomas and
Alexander Campbell

      First, they were both preachers. They preached at home and abroad. In response to urgent requests, they made long tours and preached every day, and often two or three times a day. On these tours they travelled thousands of miles and were gone from home for months at a time. Alexander Campbell was one of the greatest preachers of any age. He was a master of assemblies. President Pendleton said of him, "I have heard Webster, Clay, Prentiss, and all the orators of that generation. Mr. Campbell towered above them all. He had more of the air of freedom than any orator of his day." Wherever he spoke, thousands flocked to see and to hear. They hung entranced on his lips. After the preaching was over they wanted to hear more. They followed him to his home and listened to him talk far into the night. These conversations cleared away many difficulties and made plain what was obscure before. In many instances as much good was done in conversation as in the public address.

      Secondly, the debates in which Alexander Campbell took part bore much fruit. At first he did not think favorably of debating. He thought verbal controversy would do more harm than good. He was invited three times to meet Mr. Walker before he consented. After that experience he changed his mind. He felt that there was nothing like meeting face to face in the presence of many witnesses and talking the matter over. He was convinced that a week's debating was equal to a year's preaching. Each of his debates was published. Thousands who could not hear the discussions read them and were convinced. In these debates he had unrivalled opportunities for setting forth the views he wished to propagate. His debate with Robert Owen was widely published in America and in Europe; it won for him international fame and marked an epoch in his history. His magnificent and triumphant defense of Christianity placed the whole church under obligation to him. His [28]

Photograph, page 29
A. Campbell's Publishing House

discussion with Bishop Purcell was hardly less fruitful of good. In that discussion he defended the fundamental principles of Protestantism.

      Thirdly, the press was used, and with great effect. It was not till the publication of his first debate that Mr. Campbell began to understand what a powerful agency the press was. This led him to publish a monthly magazine entitled "The Christian Baptist." The sole object of this magazine was the eviction of truth and the exposure of error in doctrine and practice. Mr. Campbell adopted the Scriptures as the sole standard of religious faith and work. In a few years his ideas were being discussed wherever the English language was spoken. Perhaps no other publication of the same general character ever created a greater stir than "The Christian Baptist." A version of the New Testament based on the work of George Campbell, MacKnight, and Doddridge ran through six editions. A hymnal was also published. From his little printing-office in Bethany 68,000 volumes were sent out in a few years. After publishing "The Christian Baptist" for seven years, Mr. Campbell discontinued it and issued "The Millennial Harbinger," a magazine twice as large. He continued to edit the "Harbinger" [29] till the year 1863. He published a work on baptism, a volume of popular lectures and addresses, and "The Christian System." About sixty volumes came from his busy brain.

      Fourthly, Mr. Campbell founded a college. As churches multiplied, educated men were needed to serve them. For a time it was said that all sorts of men were preaching all sorts of doctrine. This led to the founding of Bethany. Mr. Campbell was president from the time of its beginning till his death. He made the Bible one of the chief text-books. There was a lecture on the Bible every day of the school year. The men trained in Bethany caught his spirit and went out as propagandists in all directions. Such men as John A. Dearborn, William Baxter, Robert Graham, Charles Carlton, A. R. Benton, C. L. Loos, J. W. McGarvey, Alexander Procter, M. E. Lard, B. H. Smith, John Shackleford, Thomas Munnell, A. E. Myers, J. C. Miller, George Plattenburg, R. M. Gano, S. W. Crutcher, I. B. Grubbs, J. S. Lamar, J. F. Rowe, B. W. Johnson, A. G. Thomas, Alexander Ellett, W. S. Giltner, O. A. Burgess, John A. Brooks, L. A. Cutler, Joseph King, Robert Moffett, R. H. Johnson, A. S. Hale, W. C. Rogers, J. Z. Taylor, W. T. Moore, L. L. Carpenter, Jabez Hall, H. McDiarmid, H. H. Haley, H. S. Earl, and a host of others, went out to hold what was gained and to set up their banners in new territory in the name of the Lord.

      Fifthly, Mr. Campbell aided in organizing the American Christian Missionary Society. He came to realize the imperative need of organization and coöperation. Churches were calling for preachers and for financial aid. Wolves in sheep's clothing were making havoc of the flock. It was felt on all sides that the time had come to do something in the regions beyond. Making The Book the man of his counsel, he came to see and to feel that the principal business of the early church was the missionary enterprise, that the spirit of Christianity is essentially a missionary spirit. Mr. Campbell was elected president and continued in that position for seventeen years. His annual addresses were masterpieces. In one of these he said, "The church of right is, and ought [30]

Drawing, page 31
Bethany College, before the burning of the right wing

to be, a great missionary society. Her parish is the whole earth, from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates to the last domicile of man. The Church of Christ is, in her nature, spirit, and position, necessarily and essentially, a missionary institution. . . . Until the whole world has heard the glad tidings of great joy to all people, the missionary cause will be in season, nay, not merely in season, but the paramount and transcendent work, duty, privilege, and honor of Christ's own church." More than half of our churches were organized by this society and its auxiliaries. Many others were saved from discouragement and disintegration by its timely counsel and generous aid.

IV. Some of the Results of Their Propaganda

      Alexander Campbell died March 4, 1866. At that time those who held the same views numbered between four and six hundred thousand. For some years after his ordination, which took place January 1, 1812, his aims were very limited. He did not expect to do more than erect a single congregation, in which he could enjoy the social institutions of the gospel. In the year 1820 there [31] were six churches, and the aggregate membership was less than two hundred. He was invited to remove to New York or Philadelphia. He did not think any church there would accept the primitive order of things. He would rather live in the backwoods than create division. He preferred to live on his farm and preach to the people within reach. It was not until after his first public discussion that he thought something could be done on a more extended scale. In 1828 Thomas Campbell said that if there were ten more to aid the four or five already engaged in the good work they would not be sufficient to meet the needs of the public, or to occupy the ground that was ready to be tilled. Twenty years later Alexander Campbell was pleading for a thousand preachers for the Mississippi Valley. There were those who predicted that when Alexander Campbell died the movement would be wrecked. The contrary was the fact. He built so wisely and so well that the cause flourished more after his death than before.

      The number gathered into the churches is only a small part of what has been effected. The religious thought of the country and of the world has been leavened. Creeds have been modified or thrown away. The personal Christ is preached rather than systems of doctrine. The Bible is read and interpreted as other books. The mystical meanings found in texts by spiritualizing processes are heard no longer. Union sentiment is more widespread and more popular than ever before. Dr. Shields has said that he must be blind indeed who does not see that the movement for Christian unity has become the characteristic movement of modern Christianity. "This is the one question that moves the whole church evangelical on both hemispheres. There is no corner of the Christian world, no outpost of Christian missions, to which it has not penetrated; and no grade of the ministry, from the pope himself down to the humblest evangelist, that has not voiced its claims." At the Parliament of Religions Philip Schaff said, "The world will never become wholly Greek, nor wholly Roman, nor wholly Protestant, but it will become wholly Christian, and will [32] include every type and every aspect, every virtue, and every grace of Christianity, an endless variety in harmonious unity, Christ being all in all." That was an echo of what the Campbells pleaded for throughout their lives. The Shanghai Conference said that in planting the Church of Christ on Chinese soil, its desire was to plant one church under the sole control of the Lord Jesus Christ, governed by the Word of the living God, and led by His guiding Spirit. Thomas and Alexander Campbell would have championed that resolution with all their hearts had they been present. At the Louisville International Sunday-school Convention a body of a thousand men marched through the streets carrying banners with this device, "Our aim, the evangelization of the world; our means, the Word of God; our motto, 'We mean business.'" If the sainted dead are interested in human affairs, the two men who spent their lives in pleading for the same thing must have rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory over that spectacle.

      Not many years ago, in an American city, an eminent minister was tried for heresy for daring to say that the divisions of the church were sinful. At the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in Philadelphia a few months ago, one of the ablest men in [33] that same communion publicly expressed his gratitude to God that there were many heathen languages into which the words Presbyterian, Methodist, and Protestant Episcopal could not be translated, these languages having no such terms or their equivalents. He held that it is of God's great mercy that the Chinese language does not lend itself to the translation of denominational titles. That is one of the changes that a quarter of a century has produced.

      Sometimes we hear it said that the Disciples of Christ have done little to create the union sentiment that is so manifest on all sides. We have not done all that has been done; but we have done something worthy of honorable mention. If a pebble thrown into the sea disturbs every drop of water on the globe, it follows that a body as large and as active as ours must have made a considerable contribution to the cause of Christian union, whether we are widely and favorably known in the East and in Europe or not. I have as little sympathy with those who belittle what we have done as I have with those who claim that we have done everything. I wish to be modest and to speak within the truth. My firm conviction is that this Restoration Movement is one of the principal agencies, if not the principal agency, the Lord has used and is using to answer His own prayer.

      It is surely a far cry since thirty persons organized the Brush Run Church to the Centennial Celebration in Pittsburgh, with 50,000 present, and these representing a community numbering 1,300,000 souls; with missions on all the continents and on the islands of the sea, with institutions of learning doing as good work as any in the world, with a respectable literature, with benevolent institutions of growing power, with a Church-Extension fund of nearly a million dollars, with an evangelism and a Sunday-school work of unparalleled dimensions and efficiency, and a Brotherhood that proposes to do a man's work in a man's way. What the future has in store for the movement is known to God only.

      The Campbells were greatly aided by the men that accepted their views. Theirs was the grace and wisdom as well as the power [34] and fortune of leadership. Among these were Walter Scott, Barton W. Stone, John Secrest, Joseph Gaston, Jacob Osborne, John Henry, William and A. S. Hayden, Robert Richardson, Jonas Hartzel, Adamson Bentley, A. B. Green, Samuel and John Rogers, John T. Johnson, Jacob Creath, Senior and junior, David S. Burnet, Benjamin Franklin, Aylett Raines, T. M. Allen, John A. Gano, James Darsie, Chester Bullard, Silas Shelburne, R. L. Coleman, J. W. Goss, W. K. Pendleton, S. K. Hoshour, J. M. Mathes, Elijah Goodwin, Love H. Jameson, James Black, Dougald Sinclair, James Kilgour, Alexander Anderson, Edmund Sheppard, Donald Crawford, Isaac Errett, W. H. Hopson, John O'Kane, S. E. Sheppard, P. S. Fall, and L. L. Pinkerton.

      Walter Scott was a graduate of Edinburgh University. After teaching in Pittsburgh for several years he left the schoolroom to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Like Apollos, he was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures. He was a peerless evangelist.

"His voice was gentle as the lute,
    Or like the thunder strong;
Melted the stony hearts to tears
    And moved the listening throng." [35]

He said, "Give me my head, my Bible, and William Hayden, and I will convert the world." William Hayden was the sweet singer of that day, and Scott's chosen associate.

      Walter Scott was the first man in modern times to give to anxious inquirers the answer that Peter gave on Pentecost: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." It was Walter Scott that discovered the place and function of baptism in the Christian system. He learned and taught that baptism is the culminating act in conversion; that baptism is the remitting ordinance. In baptism the penitent believer receives the assurance of the remission of his sins. That discovery marked an epoch in the history of the Restoration.

      It should be added that Scott wielded a powerful and graceful pen. He wrote much for "The Christian Baptist" and for "The Millennial Harbinger." His articles are signed "Philip." His work on the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth was a glorification of the World's Redeemer, and did much to fix attention on Christ Himself as the central and supreme Figure in Christianity. "The Gospel Restored" was another of his great works. His monthly publications commended the principles of the gospel to his readers, and relieved the fulness of his own mind.

      Walter Scott stood as close to Alexander Campbell as any other living man, and next to his own father he was Mr. Campbell's most trusted counselor. What Melanchthon was to Luther, that Walter Scott was to Alexander Campbell.

      Barton W. Stone was educated for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. After his separation from that church he began a work of reformation. This was somewhat earlier than that of the Campbells and wholly independent of it. In the year 1804 Stone took the Bible as his sole rule of faith and practice and held that the name Christian was the only divinely authorized designation of believers.

      Barton W. Stone was one of the noblest and saintliest men that [36] ever lived. What was said of Barnabas could be said of him: "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." Stone was an able minister of the New Testament and spent his life in the advocacy of its principles. He had the evangelistic temperament and found his greatest delight in preaching Christ to the people and in urging them to accept him as their Saviour.

"And penitence saw through misty tears,
In the bow of hope on its cloud of fears,
The promise of heaven's eternal years,--
The peace of God for the world's annoy,--
Beauty for ashes, and oil of joy."

Stone was one of the principal speakers at the great Caneridge revival. The evangelistic passion continued to possess him till the end of the day.

      In 1832 Stone and many of his followers united with the Campbells and their movement. Stone regarded that union as the noblest act of his life. The union was an event of capital importance; it gave heart and hope to all who were pleading for a return to apostolic Christianity. [37]

      Stone was an editor also. He wrote much and well. Whether he spoke or wrote, his one aim was to promote the interests of the Kingdom of God on earth. As a result of his holy life and ceaseless propagandism "much people was added to the Lord."

      John Smith was a mighty man, gifted with wit and humor and pathos. He baptized his thousands and "capsized" as many more. John T. Johnson had been in Congress for several terms. He had been judge of the Supreme Court of Kentucky. He gave up a lucrative law practice to preach the gospel. Henry Clay pronounced Jacob Creath the finest natural orator Kentucky ever produced. In that time there were few men who settled with churches; any man that could preach was an evangelist. These men were not great scholars, but they received the truth in the love of it, and pay or no pay they went out and spent their lives in its proclamation. There were giants in those days. Alexander Campbell, through his writings, prepared the ground for them. They looked to him for counsel and encouragement. It is said that when Washington asked General Wayne if he would storm Stony Point, Wayne replied that he would storm hell if Washington would furnish the plan. That was the way many of those men felt with respect to Mr. Campbell.

V. Something About These Men Themselves

      Thomas Campbell was a handsome man. His forehead was broad and high. He was one of the best-bred men of his day. He mingled freely with the aristocracy of his native land and was not corrupted. He was a Christian gentlemen in the truest sense of the word. In speaking and in writing he avoided sarcasm and irony and ridicule. He was a man of catholic sympathies. He spoke of those who differed from him as his "dearly beloved brethren," as "you lovers of Jesus, and beloved by him;" he spoke of "our brethren in all denominations," and said that they were all equally the objects of his love and esteem. He said again: "Our intention [38] with respect to all the churches of Christ is perfectly amicable. We heartily wish their reformation, but by no means their hurt or confusion."

      Thomas Campbell was an unworldly man. Lord Gosford importuned him to become the tutor of his family, and offered him a large salary and a handsome residence. The offer was promptly declined, on the ground that he feared his children might become ensnared and fascinated by the fashions and customs of the nobility. On their account he preferred his ministerial life and comparative poverty. He was unselfish and self-sacrificing, and was willing to take the lowest place in the Kingdom. Thomas Campbell was preëminently a man of faith and prayer. He could say with the Psalmist, "Seven times a day do I praise Thee." He was a pattern of good works,--hospitable, sober, just, holy, temperate. Speaking of Thomas Campbell James Foster said: "He was the most exemplary Christian I have ever been acquainted with." Walter Scott pronounced him the most devout man he ever saw. He had a supreme devotion to truth, and especially to Him who is the truth. Alexander Campbell said of him: "I never knew a man of whom it could be said with more assurance that he walked [39] with God." "Whatsoever good I may have done under God, I owe it all to his paternal care and instruction, and especially to his example." His piety and sweetness reminded some of the Apostle John. Robert Richardson said: "Never was there an individual who manifested greater reverence for the Word of God, or a truer desire to see it faithfully obeyed. . . . To the faith of Abraham and the piety of Samuel he added the knowledge and purity and warm affections of the Christian, and combined in his deportment a simplicity of manner and courtesy singularly graceful and a dignity which inspired with respect all who approached him." There was nothing austere or forbidding in his manner. He had all the genial and gracious qualities of the Irish race. It need not be said that he had a good mind and a great soul. The "Declaration and Address" demonstrates that. So far as is known, no rational and valid objection has ever been urged against a single position taken in that document. His own son said that the friends of the Reformation were as much indebted to him as to any living man.

      Thomas Campbell was eclipsed by his son. He was willing to be eclipsed if thereby the good work might be prospered. But it should not be forgotten that the movement began with Thomas Campbell. He it was that blazed the path through the forest and pointed the way back to Jerusalem. Thomas Campbell has not received the credit due him. His biography was hastily written and did not begin to do him justice.

      Alexander Campbell was endowed with many and splendid gifts. No one can read "The Christian Baptist" or "The Harbinger" or any of his debates without feeling that he is reading after a master mind. Those who differed from him spoke of him as a giant. Henry Clay pronounced him one of the most eminent citizens of the United States, distinguished for his great learning and ability. The people of Kentucky regarded him as great among their greatest men, and without a rival in the department to which he had devoted his powers. Judge Burnet, of the Supreme Court of Ohio, felt while listening to him that he was listening to a man who had [40] lived in all the ages. Jacob Creath said: "I do claim that he shall stand in the front rank of the most illustrious benefactors of his race since the death of the apostles. He will compare favorably with any of the apostolic fathers in point of learning, talents, purity, and usefulness." John T. Johnson said: "The debt of gratitude I owe that man of God no language can tell." Judge Black said that he was surrounded by many men who were tall in their intellectual stature, but

"He above the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower."

President Humphrey of Dartmouth College testified that for twenty years Mr. Campbell wielded a power over men's minds on the subject of religion which has no parallel in the Protestant or Catholic history of this country. Congress and State legislatures do not stop their business and invite ordinary men to address them. The legislature of Ohio listened to him spellbound for two hours, and before breakfast. He addressed the skeptics of New York in Tammany Hall on two consecutive evenings, and drew praise [41] from every lip and a vote of thanks from the men whose air-castles he had demolished. These speeches flowed from him like water from the rock smitten by the prophet, and the people felt, like famished Israel as they drank the cooling draught, that a hand of power had relieved their thirst. All who heard were charmed with the man and impressed with the majesty of the Scriptures. He left an impression of power on Christendom, both Catholic and Protestant, as well as upon the skeptical and unbelieving world. His speeches and sermons were characterized by power as his writings were by logic.

      Mr. Campbell was a controversialist; but he prized truth above all things. He had the joy of disputation common to all intellectual gladiators; but he wished no victory at the expense of truth. He read the Bible as if he were the first and only man that ever read it. He read it each day as if he had never read it before. He had no theory of his own to sustain. His one purpose was to know the mind of the Spirit. In his debates he was absolutely fair to his opponents. He resorted to no tricks for the sake of an apparent triumph. As an editor he gave every man a full hearing. He invited and welcomed his critics to his pages. He was confident of the strength of his own positions and was pleased to have them tested.

      Alexander Campbell was simple and engaging in his manner. He was ever humble, modest, courteous, and as polite to the day laborer as to the greatest and noblest. He repulsed no man, no matter how humble his sphere, or how rude and uncultivated his mind and manners. He continued to the end of his life to grow more humble, patient, and affectionate, and to exhibit in a still higher degree the gentle graces of the Spirit. When his work was done he was still the grand old man; the gentleness was still there. In the weakness and suffering that preceded the end, politeness and gratitude were most conspicuous in him.

      In the social circle he was the most delightful of men. Some one has said that the man who is a lion in public is sometimes a [42] bear at home. It was not so with Mr. Campbell. He was seen at his best at his own fireside and at his own table. In his controversial writings he was often savage and satirical and ironical. Robert B. Semple and his own father counselled mildness, but to little purpose. He said it was hard for a man who had a quiver full of arrows, well pointed and well bearded, to refrain from drawing blood. He excused his severity on the ground that it was necessary to gain a hearing. Back of his harshness and iconoclasm was a kindly and benevolent nature. In his preaching he refrained from witticisms and puns and satire. Those who looked for pepper and salt and vinegar were surprised to receive manna and wine and oil. He said that in preaching, good temper, love, and tenderness were more powerful than all the censures, sarcasms, ironies, and smart sayings of all the wits of the age.

      Referring to Alexander Campbell, Moses E. Lard said that his religious life was like a poem, replete with loveliness and beauty. Nothing could be pronounced more perfect. It was neither showy nor fitful, but tranquil, and cheerful, and uniform. Of his greatness he seemed never for a moment conscious; of his religion, never for a moment unconscious. He prayed with his family night and [43] morning. He never lost his relish for the bread of life and the water of life. His biographer states that the central thought in his religious life was Jesus the Christ, the Son of God; and no language could portray his lofty conceptions of the glory of Christ, or of the grandeur of the system of which he is the Alpha and Omega. Christ was his Prophet, Priest, and King. He acknowledged no other authority, sought no other mediator or sacrifice, and harkened to no other teacher. Such was his sense of the boundless love of God in Christ that the simple mention of it in his public addresses would often so affect him that for a moment his feelings would stop his utterance and render him unable to proceed. He recognized all power in heaven and earth as resting upon Christ, by whom he thought all kings should reign and in whose name all princes should administer justice. His last sermon was on "The Spiritual Blessings in Heavenly Places in Christ," upon whose surpassing glory he expatiated with that peculiar delight which, in him, this theme constantly inspired.

      On his deathbed he spoke of the glorious results which would ensue if the divisions of religious society were healed and the people of God were striving unitedly for the conversion of the world. He recited many of the choicest passages of Holy Writ: "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." "I will ransom thee from the power of the grave; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." Of the friends about him he asked: "What think ye of Christ? of his divine nature? of his glorious mission? of his kingly office, the Sovereign Ruler of the heavens and the earth, the Fountain of universal being?" As the splendors of eternity fell upon him, and through the open gates he caught glimpses of the King in his beauty, he said, "What shall I do? Whither shall I fly but to Thee?" His wife said to him, "The Saviour will go with you through the dark valley." To which he replied, "That He will; that He will." It was said of Gladstone that he was a great Christian; that he so lived and so wrought that he kept the soul [44] alive in England. The same could be said of Mr. Campbell. He was indeed a great Christian.

      Mr. Campbell was deeply indebted to his mother, a Huguenot, a woman of rare personal beauty, and superior gifts of mind and heart. Mr. Campbell said: "As a helpmeet to my father in the work of the Christian ministry I think I never saw her superior, if I ever did her equal. . . . She made a nearer approximation to the acknowledged beau-ideal of a truly Christian mother than any other of her sex with whom I have had the pleasure of forming a spiritual acquaintance." He could not but gratefully add that to his mother as well as to his father he was indebted for having memorized large portions of the Word of God in his youth. These were not only written on the tablets of his memory, but incorporated with his mode of thinking and speaking. From his mother he inherited his vivacity and eloquence.

      It is a good thing to see some great work of nature or of art, such as Mt. Shasta, or the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, or Niagara, or the mighty Father of Waters, or the Pyramids, or the Coliseum, or St. Peter's Cathedral, or the Brooklyn Bridge. It is better to know some great personality. There is a certain moral [45] elevation in that experience. For this reason I urge all young people, and especially all young preachers, to read Richardson's "Memoirs of Alexander Campbell." That is a monumental work; it is one of the greatest and noblest biographies ever written. It gives an account of Alexander Campbell and of Thomas Campbell and of almost every man who played any notable part in the Restoration Movement. It gives a full and accurate record of the heroic period of our history.

      In this Centennial year we shall best honor these illustrious men by contending earnestly for the very thing for which they contended. The union of all believers. This is a glorious ideal, an ideal in perfect harmony with the spirit of the age and the spirit of our Lord. For it is not more certain that all rivers run to the sea than that all spiritual forces of our times tend toward unity under Christ the Head. The dominant thought in the life of Abraham Lincoln was the Union. The dominant thought in the lives of Thomas and Alexander Campbell was similar--the Church of Christ united, aggressive, invincible, and glorious. On a basis of Holy Scripture. We build not on a catechism, or confession, or creed of man's formulation, but on the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. We read that God has magnified his word above all his name. It is for us to do likewise. To the end that the world may be evangelized. This is the end for which the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us; the end for which He died in agony on the cross and rose and ascended to the Father; the end for which the church was instituted and commissioned. If we make this our central thought and labor for its realization with all our power, we or others after us shall see what the Pioneers of the Restoration prayed and longed to see: a perfected church and a redeemed world. And then shall the end come, and Christ shall be all and in all. [46]

[TAAC 17-46]


      The electronic edition of Archibald McLean's "Thomas and Alexander Campbell" been produced from the Program of the International Centennial Celebration and Conventions of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Churches) (Cincinnati, OH: American Christian Missionary Society, 1909), pp. 17-46. Only those illustrations pertaining to places and events in the lives of the Campbells have been included with the essay.

      Pagination in the electronic version has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. I have let stand variations and inconsistencies in the author's (or editor's) use of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the essay.

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
373 Wilson Street
Derry, PA 15627-9770

Created 22 June 1998.

Archibald McLean Thomas and Alexander Campbell (1909)

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