[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
A MEMORIAL SERMON ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF
[By JOSEPH KING, A. M., pastor of the Christian Church in Allegheny City, Pa., delivered March 18, 1866.]
TEXT.--II. Sam. iii. 38: "A great man has fallen in Israel." Ps. cxii. 6: "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
The one concerning whom I am to speak to you was both a righteous and a "great man," and therefore "shall be in everlasting remembrance." Alexander Campbell, whose life and public services will form the subject of this morning's discourse, was born in the county of Antrim, Ireland, A. D. 1788. He died at his home at Bethany, W. Va., March 4, 1866, and was, consequently, at the time of his death, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. "He died old, full of days," and ripe for glory. He has been gathered to his fathers like a shock of corn ready for the garner of the husbandman. "He is not dead, but is sleeping"--sleeping in Jesus. It is not often--indeed, it is only once in centuries, as the history of our race shows--that God gives to the world and to the church so great a mind as he possessed, so benevolent a heart as throbbed in his bosom, so pure and valuable a life as he lived; and, therefore, I regard it as eminently proper that his death should be made the occasion of public remarks. His was no ordinary life. His was no common mind. He was one of God's few great men, such as appear on the theatre of life but once in centuries. He was, in the highest sense of the word, a benefactor of his race. He lived to bless and save others. He had a single eye to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. He was raised up by God, and watched over by special Providence, I verily believe, as truly as was Moses or Paul or Luther, to accomplish a great work,  to inaugurate a great religious movement, and, having nobly performed his task, having finished the work which the Father gave him to do, he passed away and entered into the enjoyment of that rest which is for those who die in the Lord. His life, his labors and writings have already been, and will hereafter be, of an inestimable value to millions both in the Old World and the New; and the tidings of his death have brought tears to the eyes of many and saddened the hearts of many from one side of the continent to the other.
My object in delivering this memorial discourse is twofold; first, to acquaint my hearers with the principal events in his life, and the leading traits in his character; second, to give public expression to my own appreciation of the worth of this great and good man. I knew him. I studied his spirit and character. I was his pupil two years. I sat at his feet, like Saul at the feet of Gamaliel, and listened to the word of life which proceeded out of his mouth. I heard him lecture on the Holy Scriptures five mornings in the week, and preach on the Lord's Day, a privilege which I have ever regarded, and shall ever regard, as the highest of my life. I loved and reverenced him, as I loved and reverenced no man. And when, week before last, on the day before his burial, I approached the coffin in which he lay, and beheld that stalwart form, that gigantic frame--so beautiful in death--his eyes closed as if in sleep, his hands clasped as I had seen them many times in life, with a perfectly lifelike smile on his lips, I said to myself, "Is this death?" Then death is not so terrible. 'Tis a glorious thing to die, if one die the dearth of the righteous, as he did. It is not possible, within the limits of a single discourse, to say a tithe of what might be said concerning the life, character and labors of so distinguished a man. This work is reserved for the future historian. I will endeavor, therefore, to be as brief as is consistent with clearness.
In addressing you, I will observe the following order: First, a brief sketch of his life, and of the steps which led to a change in his religious views. Second, a glance at the labors of his life, and his position as a reformer. Third, his peaceful end.
Alexander Campbell was educated at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, with a view to the ministry of the Church of the Seceders (a body from the communion of the Established Church), and after his arrival in this country, was for two years a minister of that church, in Washington County, Pa. His father before him, the venerable Thomas Campbell, was educated at the same university, and was the relative and classmate of Thomas Campbell, the Scottish poet. He (his father) was a minister in the Seceder Church, connected with the Presbytery of New Market, and pastor of the church at  Ahoery, in the North of Ireland. He was a man of extensive learning. accurate scholarship, great piety and zeal in his work, and for years before his emigration to this country he labored both in public and in private to effect a union between the Burghers and anti-Burghers; i. e., between the Unionists and Seceders in Scotland and the North of Ireland. And here I may remark, that reformation in the religious world, for which we as a people are pleading, and to which Alexander Campbell devoted his life, his commanding talents and wonderful energies, began about the beginning of the present century, in the efforts of his father to unite into one body both the Unionists and Seceders, both of whom had withdrawn from the Scottish Presbyterian Church.
In the year 1807 Thomas Campbell, the father of Alexander, came to America. He landed at Philadelphia. "The Associate Synod of North America" was then in session in that city. He presented his credentials, was received and assigned to a field of labor in the Presbytery of Chartiers, Washington Co., Pa., and entered upon his work. His family he left at home in Ireland. Alexander, his oldest son, after the departure of his father, pursued his studies at the University of Glasgow, and having completed them, he, his mother, and the rest of his family, left Ireland for the New World, and landed at New York, Oct. 5, 1809. They came to Washington County, Pa., and found the father, Thomas Campbell, preparing for the publication of what he called "A Declaration and Address," to his co-presbyters, the object of which was to correct what he thought to be errors in the church--to reform abuses, and to lead his brethren in the ministry to a more simple and Scriptural presentation of the gospel. He saw from reading the New Testament, that the church of Christ is "essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one;" that the church, the body of Christ, must not and dare not be divided; that divisions, separations and sectarianisms among the professed people of God are evil, contrary to the revealed will of Christ, contrary to the letter and spirit of his prayer (John xvii.), and tend directly to prevent the conversion of the world; and he set himself to work for reformation and union, though with no intention, at the time, of leaving the Secession Presbyterian Church.
One proposition in the address above alluded to, is in these words: "That in order to this"--viz.: the unity of the church, the oneness of the followers of Christ--"nothing ought to be inculcated upon Christians as articles of faith, nor required of them as terms of communion, but what is expressly taught and enjoined upon them in the word of God. Nor ought anything to be admitted to be of Divine obligation in their church constitution and managements, but what is especially enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the New  Testament church, either in express terms, or by approved precedent." Allow me just here to observe that this proposition, written in 1809, contains, in my judgment, the grand fundamental principle of that Reformation to which his greater son consecrated his life. It is the embryo of the greatest religious movement of the nineteenth century, Mr. Campbell spent the winter of 1809-10 in study with his father, in discussing and investigating his pleas for reformation in the church. And in the month of May, 1810, in Major Templeton's grove, eight miles from the village of Washington, he preached his first sermon from these words of our Saviour, "He that heareth these things, and doeth them," etc. (Matt. vii. 24).
One day, not very long after he began his ministry, he spoke substantially to his father as follows: "Father, if the position you have assumed in your 'Address' be correct, viz.: that we ought to admit nothing as of Divine obligation, and practice nothing that is not specifically enjoined by Christ and his apostles--if that position is correct, what will become of infant baptism? Where is it enjoined either in expressed terms or approved Scripture precedent?" His reply in substance was, as his son many years after said, "It is merely inferential." The most that any one can say of it. "But," said he, "we will study that subject." They did study it. They both understood the languages in which the word of God was originally written, and after an impartial, prayerful and thorough investigation of the subject, Alexander Campbell came to the conclusion that the immersion of a believer in water, is the only Scriptural action of baptism. And, in obedience to his convictions of duty, on the 12th day of June, 1812, he and his father, their wives, his oldest sister, and another gentleman and his wife, seven in all, were immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and some months afterward, on invitation, united with the Redstone Baptist Association. He labored in connection with the Baptists about two years. He was not excluded from the Baptist Association, as many think--he never was. And when he formally withdrew from them, it was not to build up a new religious party. He did not intend to become the recognized leader of a distinct body of people; he had no such ambition. Like Luther, he sought to correct errors and reform abuses, among the people with whom he was ecclesiastically associated. Like Wesley, also, who did not design to form a separate organization of people called Methodists. In harmony with the principle upon which Mr. Campbell set out, to study the word of God, to preach that Word in its purity, to reject as terms of communion, and as obligatory upon man, everything human, and to receive and practice only what is divinely enjoined--and that, beloved hearers, is nothing more or less than the great fundamental principle of Protestantism; the Bible,  the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of the Protestants--I say, the practical adoption of that principle led Mr. Campbell to oppose human creeds and confessions of faith as bonds of union and terms of communion; and stern devotion to the truth, uncompromising loyalty to God and his word, carried him, against his will and his purpose, away from the people with whom he had been ecclesiastically connected.
In his own words, he remarks: "My faith in creeds and confessions of human device was considerably shaken while in Scotland, and I commenced my career in this country [America] under the conviction' that nothing that was not as old as the New Testament should be made an article of faith, a rule of practice, or a term of communion among Christians; in a word, that the whole of the Christian religion, exhibited in prophecy and type in the Old Testament, was presented in the fullest, clearest, and most perfect manner in the New Testament, by the spirit of wisdom and revelation. This has been my polestar ever since. And in my conformity to the grand principle, which I have called the pole-star of my course of religious inquiry, I was led to question the claims of infant sprinkling to divine authority, and was, after long, serious and prayerful examination of all means of information, led to solicit immersion on a profession of my faith, when I as yet scarce knew a Baptist from Washington to the Ohio, in the immediate region of my labors, and when I did not know that any friend or relation on earth would concur with me."
Mr. Campbell was no ordinary man. He was a "great man" in every sense of the word. He was wonderfully gifted. He had the talents of an angel almost, and he consecrated them, without reserve, to the service of Christ. He wielded a power and exerted an influence which no other man in the nation exerted. And I think it no exaggeration to say that the greatest mind in the nation passed to the better land, when Alexander Campbell breathed his last. He was an independent thinker, a vigorous writer, a logical debater, a polished, classical speaker, and a most courteous Christian gentleman.
Let us glance at his labors and his aim as a reformer. During a period of twenty-three years, from 1820 to 1843, he held five oral public debates. The first with Rev. John Walker, a minister of the Secession Presbyterian Church, in 1820, held at Mount Pleasant, O.
Next his debate with Rev. William McCalla, a Presbyterian minister, on the subject of "Christian Baptism." This debate was held at Washington, Ky., in 1823. It was attended by a large concourse of ministers, both of the Presbyterian and Baptist Churches.
In April, 1829, Mr. Campbell met in public debate, in the city of Cincinnati, Robert Owen, of Lanark, Scotland, the distinguished sceptic and socialist. Mr. Owen was the acknowledged champion of infidelity,  both in this country and in Great Britain. He sent forth his challenges for debate on the evidences of the Christian religion, and it is a remarkable fact that not another man in the country dared to meet him but Mr. Campbell. He had travelled over this country, from Boston to New Orleans, speaking in public and private, against the divine origin of Christianity, and was about embarking for the Old World, boasting that no man in America dared to debate with him. Mr. Campbell accepted the challenge, and never was a man more completely overpowered and crushed by logic and argument after argument, than was Mr. Owen. He had his say. He got to the end of his story. He exhausted himself and sat down, having nothing more to say, and Mr. Campbell without an opponent to, reply, spoke continuously for twelve hours on the evidences of Christianity as a supernatural religion. He made a twelve-hour speech--the longest speech on record. This debate, republished in England, has had an extensive circulation both in this country and Great Britain, and is accepted by all religious parties as a standard work on the Christian evidences. I have been informed that after this debate, Mr. Campbell invited Mr. Owen to his own home, treated him with the kindness of a brother, and begged him to abandon infidelity and accept Christ as a Saviour. Mr. Owen melted to tears--he buried his face in his hands, but still clung to that which he could not sustain.
Toward the close of the year 1836, Dr. J. L. Wilson read an oration before the "College of Teachers" in Cincinnati, on the subject of universal education. At its close, John. B. Purcell, then bishop of Cincinnati, arose, and before a Protestant assembly, protested against allowing the Bible to be used in schools. Mr. Campbell, on hearing this, expressed a willingness to meet Bishop Purcell, or any other "creditable gentleman," and discuss the whole question of Catholicism, as opposed to Protestantism. Seven propositions were arranged, Mr. Campbell affirming every one of them, and for nine days in the month of January, 1837, the debate continued. In this discussion, Mr. Campbell's wonderful resources and extensive acquaintance with the history of the church, ancient and modern, and his thorough knowledge of the delusions of the "man of sin," are clearly brought out. The first two sentences of his opening speech I have always thought were grand sentences: "I appear before you at this time, in the good providence of our heavenly Father, in defense of the truth, and in explanation of the great redeeming, regenerating, ennobling principles of Protestantism, as opposed to the claims and pretenses of the Roman Catholic Church. I come not here to advocate the particular tenets of any sect, but to defend the great cardinal principles of Protestantism." He was indeed the champion of Protestantism. He defended the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the  Bible. This debate is also a standard work of its kind. There is perhaps no other defense of Protestantism in the English language.
His last oral debate was held with Dr. N. L. Rice, a well-known Presbyterian clergyman. This debate was held in December, 1843, at Lexington, Ky., for a period of eighteen days.
The most gifted minds both in America and Great Britain heard him with pleasure and profit--yea, heard him "enraptured"--and "with himself," for he was ever humble, gentle, modest and unassuming. It may be said that Mr. Campbell was fond of debate--not because he desired to vanquish an opponent, but because he regarded oral discussion as a good method of disseminating truth. And I say what is altogether true, when I assert that for thirty years (ever since his debate with Owen) there has been no infidel in America who dared to meet him in debate. For twenty-five years (since his debate with Purcell), there has been no Papist in America who was willing to meet him in debate; has been no Paidobaptist in America who was willing to encounter Mr. C. in debate; for he was ready to meet any man of acknowledged ability in either of these schools.
Mr. Campbell first began to write for the purpose of disseminating his views, in 1823. At that time he commenced the publication of the Christian Baptist, which he continued for seven years. He then changed the name to that of Millennial Harbinger, of which he continued to be the editor till the close of the year 1864.
In the January number of the year 1864, in what he calls a semi-valedictory to his readers, he says: "I have been for forty-one long, laborious, anxious years a hard-working editor." Every month, for the long period of forty-one years, the Harbinger went forth from Bethany into all parts of the United States; into the Canadas; into Great Britain and Australia. It was a welcome visitor to thousands of families.
Besides the Christian Baptist, the Millennial Harbinger, and his numerous debates, he is the author of numerous other works, as the "Christian System," "Christian Baptism, with its Antecedents and Consequences," "Infidelity Refuted by Infidels," the Translation of the Acts of the Apostles for the American Bible Union, and a large volume of "Lectures and Addresses" delivered by him in various parts of the country during a period of twenty-five years. Add to all this his constant preaching and lecturing, and repeated tours for the endowment of Bethany College, and his labors as active president of that college for twenty-three years, and it was wonderful the labor which he performed. He was an incessant worker, and had he not been a man of prodigious strength and powerful constitution, he could not have endured so much labor. 
Of Mr. Campbell's views I can not speak at length. Time will not permit me. They are known to the world, and can be learned by those who will read what he has written. Let me say, however, with earnest emphasis, that I verily believe no religious teacher or reformer that has ever lived, has been so grossly and persistently misrepresented in his religious views, both in the pulpit, and out of the pulpit, whether ignorantly or intentionally, I do not say, as A. Campbell. He has been stigmatized as a dangerous lunatic. Men have called him an "errorist," and at the same time have been unable to state wherein consisted his "errors." But time will vindicate his claims to sound and correct views of Christianity; and he, though dead, will still live. He is one of those few whose memory will grow brighter as time advances.
He has been charged with Unitarianism--with denying the essential divinity of Christ. A more false representation of a man's views was never made. He never uttered a syllable that could, by any fair interpretation, possibly be construed into anything like a denial of our Saviour's divinity. He preached the divinity of Christ, taught it, addressed him in prayer as a divine Redeemer, and refused to have fellowship with those who denied his divine nature. With Neander, he said: "Whoever denies or mutilates this fact is at once to be rejected!" Indeed, on no other subject was he so eloquent and grand and enrapturing, as on the divine glories, the majesty and superhuman dignity of Christ Jesus.
He has been charged, also, with teaching the dogma of "baptismal regeneration," and denying the influence of the Holy Spirit in conversion and sanctification; both of which charges, suffice it to say, are utterly and entirely false. He never taught the views attributed to him, never, never. They can not be found in his writings--they can not be found in his debates--he never preached them--he never uttered them in private.
Mr. Campbell labored for more than forty years to accomplish one object. His aim was one. His purpose was single. He devoted his talents, strength, energies and life to the accomplishment of one great object, viz.: the restoration of primitive Christianity--the return of the church to her apostolic and primitive unity on the basis of "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism" (Eph. iv.). A grander, nobler purpose never entered the mind of man. And to effect it, he thought, wrote, studied, debated and preached for fifty years. And if he found fault with systems of theology, and much of the religious teachings of the age, it was because they stood in the way of the return of the church to her apostolic unity and oneness in the gospel faith. And has not God blessed his labors? Has not Heaven smiled upon him? Have not his efforts been crowned with success? For, while  in 1820 his adherents were scarcely more than two hundred, now, in 1866, those who accept, substantially, the views taught by him, as most in harmony with the word of God, number not less than half a million, and to-day, in proportion to their numbers, they are increasing more rapidly than any other Protestant community in our country.
Mr. Campbell never had controversy with any man about what is in the Bible--never, never. He accepted as infallible every word contained in the Bible. He reverenced it as the word of God, and implicitly bowed to its decisions. His controversies with Paidobaptists and others were always about what is not in the Bible. Did he oppose infant sprinkling? He certainly did, and just because the Bible says not one word about it. Could he have found it in the Bible, "either in expressed terms or approved precedent," he would have accepted it with all humility. Did he oppose human creeds, confessions of faith? He did, and because the word of God is, of itself, perfect and infallible, and enjoins not their necessity. His whole aim and effort, for forty years, were to call the attention of all religionists, of all parties, to the Bible as the inspired word of the living God--as an infallible standard--as the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. Is that wrong? Is that heresy? Yet for that--for nothing else--he has been denounced as a heretic, and proclaimed far and wide as a dangerous teacher. I assert it without the fear of successful contradiction, that no man, since the time of Luther, has so honored the word of God, and labored to restore it to its rightful but last position in the church, as Alexander Campbell. Like Luther he fought, and like Luther he conquered, because he wielded the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
I may simply mention, as particular tenets taught by him: First, the immersion of a penitent believer in water into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the only apostolic and Scriptural baptism. Infant sprinkling he regarded as a Papal corruption of the New Testament ordinance of immersion.
2. The rejection of all creeds and confessions of human device as necessarily schismatical--as promotive of divisions and sectarianisms, and as tending to lead the mind away from the simplicity of the gospel and the oneness of the Christian faith. For three centuries there was no creed in the church except the God-given creed, the Bible. The church, during these centuries, was more united, and enjoyed a degree of peace, harmony and prosperity which she has never since enjoyed. The introduction of creeds was the beginning of sects, divisions, parties; and, therefore, as the union of Christians was destroyed by creeds, the church can be restored to her apostolic unity only by the destruction of every human creed, and accepting the Bible as in  all things sufficient, perfect and infallible. "In matters of faith, unity; in opinion, liberty; in all things, charity."
3. The Spirit of God operates only through the inspired Word in the conversion of sinners--that the Word is the "incorruptible seed" by which men are begotten--that the "gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one that believes"--that "the word of God is living and powerful"--that the gospel is to be preached in facts, commands and promises--that its facts are to be believed, its commands obeyed, and then its promises will be enjoyed, viz.: the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of eternal life; and that the Holy Spirit is given to dwell with, and to be in those who obey the gospel. He rejoiced in the indwelling and communion of the Holy Spirit. With regard to the action and subject of baptism, Mr. Campbell did not differ from the Baptists; but with regard to the specific design of baptism, he and those who have been associated with him have been considered peculiarly heretical, though he was always careful to show that the same view of the design of baptism which he took, has been recognized and taught by leading authors in all past ages of the church. What is baptism for? What is the design of it? In the words of another, "The definite object of immersion was understood when it was recognized as the remitting ordinance of the gospel, or the appointed means through which the penitent sinner obtained an assurance of that pardon or remission of sins, procured for him by the sufferings and the death of Christ." This view of baptism was founded on such passages as the following: Mark xvi. 16; Acts ii. 38; I. Pet. iii. 21, etc., in all of which the promise of salvation follows faith, repentance and baptism.
4. The weekly observance of the Lord's Supper. This he regarded as a part of the regular Lord's Day worship of the primitive Christians, though he did not substitute this ordinance for personal sanctification, but accepted it as a divinely appointed means of obtaining a higher degree of sanctification.
5. The rejection of all unscriptural terms, and the necessity of speaking of Bible things in Bible language to avoid misconception and misunderstanding. In the full inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, the divinity of our Saviour, the atonement made by his death for sin, the influence of the Holy Spirit through the truth in conversion and sanctification, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the dead, and the opposite destinies of the righteous and the wicked, Mr. Campbell had full faith.
Of the personal character of Mr. Campbell, and his remarkable qualities of mind and heart, I need not speak. Those who knew him best loved him most. 'Twas only necessary to know him to love him. Acquaintance with him invariably removed prejudice. Like all truly  great men, he was simple and engaging in his manners, humble, modest, courteous, condescending, as polite to the day laborer as to the greatest and noblest.
His qualities of heart and mind were of the highest order--the peer of the greatest and most cultivated of earth, and yet humble and condescending as a child.
There was a singular blending of the opposite qualities in his nature. He had the strength and boldness of a lion, and the gentleness of a lamb. In public, in advocating what he believed to be the truth, he was perfectly bold, intrepid and fearless; he dealt heavy blows, but always kind and courteous; in private he was gentle, lively, cheerful, and as much as possible avoided controversy and dispute. He was a fine conversationalist, always instructive and entertaining. His intellect was of the highest order and well cultivated. This was evident to the most casual observer. When in Great Britain he was walking the streets of London one day, and a man, not knowing who Mr. Campbell was, but impressed with his commanding presence and noble mien, said, "There goes a man who has brains enough to govern all Europe." His reverence for God and sacred things was equally great with his intellect. At the name of Jesus he ever bowed in deepest reverence and holiest adoration. I noticed, when a student at Bethany College, that Mr. Campbell in time of public worship, if he himself were not in the pulpit conducting the services, always knelt during prayer. He never stood. He literally "bowed his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." He was pre-eminently a religious man, pious, spiritual and devout at all times. Many, judging from his debates and writings, of a controversial character, might suppose that he lacked piety, spirituality and prayerfulness; but personal acquaintance with him always reproved such supposition. His faith made him happy. He rejoiced in--being a Christian.
Once, when on a visit to friends in this city, after his return from fatiguing labors, during which he had taken a severe cold, as the family was bowed in morning devotions, he was unable to arise from his knees without assistance, and as he was aided in rising, he exclaimed: "What a happy thing it is to be a Christian!"
A few words concerning his last hours, and then I will close. I always feel interested to know how men--especially great men--die.
His death was, as might have been expected from his life, triumphant, glorious, peaceful. Death had no terrors for him. To him it was birth into the better life beyond. He was not confined by illness long--perhaps not more than two weeks; and during the first days of his illness he suffered considerably at times, and paroxysms came on him often, but he bore up with wonderful patience and resignation to the end. Not a murmur escaped his lips. He repined not.  During his entire illness he made no allusion whatever to any secular matter, unless it was for the purpose of contrasting the present life with that which is to come. Victory with him was won, and he lay waiting for the crown. He was always happy in his application of Scripture, but he seemed to be especially so during his last days. One evening, as the last rays of the setting sun poured in through his window, he said, "Is that the setting sun?" On being told that it was, he instantly replied, in the words of Malachi: "To you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings," etc. Often he quoted the words of the Christian poet:
|"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun," etc.
And these words:
|"The Saviour! Oh, what endless charms
Dwell in the blissful sound!"
Repeatedly he exclaimed: "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" Just one week before he died; on the Lord's Day, when many came in to see him, he discoursed to them between three and four hours in most eloquent words. He spoke at times, I am told, with all the grandeur and vigor of his prime.
The two great themes on which he discoursed were, first, the divinity of Christ--the divine glory of Jesus, and immortality and eternal life through him; and second, the vanity of merely human ambition, and the unspeakable glories of the life to come.
When told of the indications of union between the Baptists and the Christian church in various parts of the country, he was overjoyed; he wept and said: "This is one of the happiest moments of my life."
Allow me to read to you a few sentences from the Wheeling Intelligencer concerning the last hours of this devoted servant of God:
"The closing hours of this great and good man's life were inexpressibly affecting to the group of tender friends and relatives that watched round his bedside. At times his mind would wander over familiar scenes and he would recall them by name. He was oppressed with a longing for rest and quiet and home. He was weary with his long journey, and he spoke of his desire to be led to his friends and kindred and to be at peace. Not a murmur, not a complaint, once escaped him--he was gentle and meek and patient throughout--only he was oppressed with a restless weariness. A letter dated from his chamber at half past two o'clock of Saturday morning last, to, the writer of this memoir, speaks thus of him:
"'I am sitting up to-night with our dear uncle. We fully thought this would be his last night on earth. But he has survived the turn of the night, and may possibly wear through another day. His strength  is wonderful. All this night I have thought, as I watched him, of a giant grappling with a desperate foe, or of some noble animal struggling to be disentangled from the enemy's toils, chafed and fretted within its narrow boundaries. Death has no power to dim his great mind--his senses are as clear and as acute as ever, and his beautiful nature shows the same in all things. His gentleness and patience amid his suffering break all our hearts. Such sweetness and submission to the slightest wish of others around him--such kind consideration for every one who comes into his presence--his little expressions of greeting, and his inquiry after the welfare of those who come to see him, and such putting away of personal complaint or suffering, moves every beholder to tears. All this could never be seen in a character less great and grand than this. His is himself noble and good and great, as nature made him, to the very last. The commanding and fascinating elements of his character are intact in the midst of the wreck of matter. Such passages of Scripture as he has recited even in his wanderings, and such grand sentences as have fallen from his lips--such beautiful soliloquies upon "the fleetness of time," and upon "doing good while we can," etc., are wonderful, very wonderful to all of us.'"
Such were the closing hours of Alexander Campbell--a fitting close to a long, eventful, pure Christian life.
His body has been laid in the tomb; but his spirit is with Christ in glory. He has departed, "to be with Christ, which is far better."
I now think of him--not as dead--but as in heaven with the glorified spirit of his sainted father and other great spirits that are not lost, but gone before. His father and the sainted Walter Scott were his greatest helps in the work of this reformation for many years.
Now they are all in glory. They have met on the other side of Jordan, where parting is no more.
|"Thus star by star declines
Till all are passed away,
As morning high and higher shines,
To pure and perfect day;
And faith beholds the dying here
Translated to that happier sphere."
Joseph King. "A Memorial Sermon on the Occasion of the Death of Alexander
The Millennial |
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|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)