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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)


      The Harbinger, 1849, page 689, reports the

Met in Cincinnati, October 24, 1849.

      We had the pleasure of attending as one of this large and respectable assembly of brethren. We met, not for the purpose of enacting ecclesiastic laws, nor to interfere with the true and Scriptural independence of the churches, but to consult about the best ways for giving efficiency to our power, and to devise such methods of co-operation, in the great work of converting and sanctifying the world, as our combined counsels, under the guidance of Providence, might suggest and approve. There are some duties of the church, which a single congregation can not, by her unaided strength, discharge. For certain ends, two or three congregations often combine their means, and thus, by a mutual co-operation, effect that which no one alone could have accomplished. Sometimes all the churches in a county, a district, or even a State, send up their messengers to consult about and co-operate in enterprises, benevolent and obligatory, which concern the common welfare and the extension and prosperity of the kingdom of Christ. But a broader and more general co-operation than all these may sometimes be demanded, and then a general convention may be called and a universal co-operation entered into. Such appeared to be the nature of the subjects which engaged the Convention held in Cincinnati, and we were more than gratified to witness the large number of messengers in attendance. More than one hundred and fifty names were enrolled and nearly or quite as many churches were represented. It was an interesting occasion, and the deep-felt earnestness which pervaded the body, during the long sessions of four successive days, showed that it was regarded as a solemn convocation on the great and sublime concerns of the Christian Kingdom. A primary object being to devise some scheme for a more effectual proclamation of the Gospel in destitute places, both at home and abroad, the Convention took under consideration the organization of a Missionary Society. As our limits would not allow of a full report of the very interesting proceedings [398] upon this and other subjects, we shall confine ourself to results simply, and present to our readers only such resolutions, etc., as were finally adopted and passed by the Convention.


      Resolved, That the "Missionary Society," as a means to concentrate and dispense the wealth and benevolence of the brethren of this Reformation in an effort to convert the world, is both Scriptural and expedient.

      Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed to prepare a constitution for such a society.

      In pursuance of these resolutions a Constitution was prepared and presented, and after full discussion and various amendments, substitutions, etc., adopted as follows:


      ARTICLE 1. This Society shall be called the American Christian Missionary Society.

      ARTICLE 2. The object of this Society shall be to promote the spread of the Gospel in destitute places of our own and foreign lands.

      ARTICLE 3. The Society shall be composed of annual delegates. Life Members and Life Directors. Any church may appoint a delegate for an annual contribution of ten dollars. Twenty dollars paid at one time shall be requisite to constitute a member for life, and one hundred dollars paid at one time, or a sum which in addition to any previous contribution shall amount to one hundred dollars, shall be required to constitute a director for life.

      ARTICLE 4. The officers of the Society shall consist of a President, twenty Vice-Presidents, a Treasurer, a Corresponding Secretary, and a Recording Secretary, who shall be elected by the members of the Society at its annual meeting.

      ARTICLE 5. The Society shall also annually elect twenty-five managers, who, together with the officers and life directors of this Society, shall constitute an executive board, to conduct the business of the Society, and shall continue in office until their successors are elected, seven of whom shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

      ARTICLE 6. Two of the Vice-Presidents, the Treasurer, the Secretaries, and at least fifteen of the managers, shall reside in Cincinnati or its vicinity.

      ARTICLE 7. The executive board shall have power to appoint its own meetings, elect its own chairman, enact its own by-laws and rules of order, provided always that they be not inconsistent with the Constitution; fill any vacancies which may occur in their own body, or in the offices of the Society during the year, and if deemed necessary by two-thirds of the members present at a regular meeting, convene special meetings of the Society. They shall establish such agencies as the interest of the Society may require, appoint agents and missionaries, fix their compensation, direct and instruct them concerning their particular fields and labors, make all appropriations to be paid out of [399] the treasury, and present to the Society at each annual meeting a full report of their proceedings during the past year.

      ARTICLE 8. All moneys or other property contributed and designated for any particular Missionary field, shall be so appropriated or returned to the donors, or their lawful agents.

      ARTICLE 9. The Treasurer shall give bonds to such an amount as the executive board shall think proper.

      ARTICLE 10. All the officers, managers, missionaries and agents of the Society, shall be members in good standing in the churches of God.

      ARTICLE 11. The Society shall meet annually at Cincinnati on the first Wednesday after the third Lord's day of October, or at such time and place as shall have been designated at the previous annual meeting.

      ARTICLE 12. No person shall receive an appointment from the executive board, unless he shall give satisfactory evidence of his Christian character and qualification.

      ARTICLE 13. No alteration of this Constitution shall be made, without a vote of two-thirds of the members present at an annual meeting, nor unless the same shall have been proposed at the previous annual meeting, or recommended by the executive board.

      The Constitution having been adopted, a committee was appointed to nominate the various officers required. They reported the following persons, who were duly elected:


      A. Campbell, Bethany, Va., Pres't; 1st V. P., D. S. Burnet, Cin.; 2d, Dr. Irwin, Cin.; 3d, Walter Scott, Pa.; 4th, T. M. Allen, Mo.; 5th, W. K. Pendleton, Va.; 6th, John T. Jones, Ill.; 7th, John O'Kane, Ind. 8th, Jac. T. Johnson, Ky.; 9th, Talbot Fanning, Tenn.; 10th, Dr. Dan'l Hook, Ga.; 11th, Dr. E. Parmley, N. Y.; 12th, Francis Dungan, Baltimore; 13th, Richard Hawley, Mich.; 14th, Dr. Jas. T. Barclay, Va.; 15th, Francis Palmer, Mo.; 16th, J. J. Moss, O.; 17th, M. Mobley, Iowa; 18th, Wm. Rowzee, Pa.; 19th, Alex. Graham, Ala.; 20th, Wm. Clark, Miss.; Corresponding Secretary, J. Challen, Cincinnati; Recording Secretary, Geo. S. Jenkins; Treasurer, Archibald Trowbridge.


      T. J. Melish, Cincinnati; Geo. Tait, do.; S. S. Clark, do.; Dr. B. S. Lawson, do.; T. J. Murdock, do.; S. H. Hathway, do.; Andrew Leslie, do.; Lewis Wells, Covington; Thurston Crane, Cincinnati; C. A. Gould, do.; Dr. N. T. Marshall, do.; R. J. Latimer, do.; James Leslie, do.; W. A. Trowbridge, do.; Taffe, do.


      Samuel Church, Pa.; Geo. McMannus, Ill.; R. L. Coleman, Va.; Wm. Morton, Ky.; P. S. Fall, do.; Elijah Goodwin, Ind.; S. S. Church, Mo.; A. Gould, N. Y.; Alex. Hall, Ohio; J. B. Ferguson, Tenn.

[W. K. PENDLETON.]      

      The Convention adopted resolutions commending the organization of State Missionary Societies. Mr. Campbell was prevented from being present at the Convention. Of the results accomplished he wrote: [400]

      Our expectations from the Convention have been more than realized. We are much pleased with the result; and regard it as a very happy pledge of good things to come. The unanimity, cordiality, and generous concurrence of the brethren in all the important subjects before them, was worthy of themselves and the great cause in which they are all enlisted. Enough was done at one session, and enough to occupy our best energies for some time to come. Bible distribution and evangelical labor--two transcendant objects of Christian effort most essential to the conversion of the world--deserve at our hand a very cordial and generous support. We may rationally anticipate, from the indications afforded during the session, that they will be liberally patronized and sustained by all the brotherhood. The suggestions deferentially submitted to all the brotherhood, for their concurrence and action in reference to the necessity and importance of periodically meeting, in given districts, large or small, as the case may be, for consultation and practical effort in the advocacy of the cause in all their localities, must, we think, meet the approbation of all the intelligent and zealous brethren and churches every where; and, we doubt not, will give great efficiency to the labors of evangelists in those districts.

      Denied the pleasure of having been present on this interesting occasion by an unusually severe indisposition, I am peculiarly gratified with the great issues of deliberation. The Christian Bible Society, co-operating with the American and Foreign Bible Society--now approved by all the churches present, and commended by them to all the brethren, removes all my objections to it in its former attitude, and will, no doubt, now be cordially sustained in its claims for a liberal patronage from all our communities. The Christian Missionary Society, too, on its own independent footing, will be a grand auxiliary to the churches in destitute regions, at home as well as abroad, in dispensing the blessings of the gospel amongst many that otherwise would never have heard it. These Societies we can not but hail as greatly contributing to the advancement of the cause we have been so long pleading before God and the people. There is, indeed, nothing new in these matters, but simply the organized and general co-operation in all the ways and means of more energetically and systematically preaching the gospel and edifying the church. We have always been, more or less, commending and sending abroad the Bible, and sustaining evangelists in their missions to the world. But we have never before formally, and by a generous co-operation, systematically assumed the work. Union is strength, and essential to extensive and protracted success. Hence, our horizon, and with it our expectations, are greatly enlarged.

      The other matters commended to the brethren are more or less important, but these are the grand events of the Convention. Sunday [402] Schools, and their libraries; Tract Societies, under an enlightened and judicious supervision, are also great auxiliaries, and made more or less expedient, if not even necessary, in keeping up with the spirit and character of the age. The world is being flooded with the offerings of the press. To save the youth from a flood of trashy, unedifying, and sometimes impious publications, it is expedient that something be done in the way of self-defense, if not in the way of making inroads upon the grounds of the great adversary of the salutary truth of sound literature and Christian learning. But, of all these matters, we will doubtless have occasion to speak more fully hereafter. Meantime, we thank God and take courage, and commend these instrumentalities to the prayers of all the holy brethren, and to the blessing of the Lord.

[A. C.]     

      Mr. Campbell served as president of the Society until his death; he delivered the annual address almost every year.

      1. W. K. Pendleton. Extracts from "The Convention of Christian Churches, Met in Cincinnati, October 24,
1849." The Millennial Harbinger 20 (December 1849): 689-691.
      2. Alexander Campbell. Extracts from Remarks on "The Convention of Christian Churches." The Millennial
Harbinger 20 (December 1849): 694-695.


[MHA2 398-402]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)