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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)



      [By D. S. BURNET, A. M., delivered before the Trustees, Faculty and Students of Bethany College, June 26, 1866.]

      The knell has tolled! The quiet village of Bethany has sat down in sackcloth; and a million mourn, around our land, in sad sympathy: for a great man hath fallen in Israel! True, since then the bare forests and the blackened hills have been clad in green; the sun has photographed his varied hues on the maiden cheek of the fair [593] corolla; the beauty of the bloom has begun to redden into fruitfulness; the harvester is watching the golden bronze as it creeps o'er the green of the gladdened fields, and soon you'll hear his merry songs as the yellow ranks fall before the victorious scythe. The storm must lull, and the leaden wave of grief must mingle with the purer water of joyous life. The sorrows of to-day must yield to the alleviating power of the scenes of to-morrow, and the mingled emotions which crest every wave of the tide of life. The shock that thrilled the social heart when Alexander Campbell died, has subsided; and gentle grief and sad remembrances have filled the bosoms lately convulsed. The green sod arching the narrow abode of his manly form, speaks the freshness of the perennial life in a fairer clime. Like the bow of God,

"It sweetly bent over the gloom,
  Like love o'er a death couch or hope o'er the tomb."

How beneficent the law that the cloudy sorrows of the night should melt into the light of life, and the winter of our woe brighten into the tranquil joy of vernal bloom!

      The pulpit and the press have spoken one tone of admiration for the recent living, and of sorrow and respect for the more recent dead. Even the growlings of discontent, abashed, have hushed into silence. Friend and foe have spoken, but the child of Mr. Campbell's manhood, the pride of his life and the hope of his old age--Bethany College--is yet to speak, and to-day is speaking. What more worthy this institution than a fitting recognition of the life, character and services of its founder, and for a quarter century its president and patron, and whose blood and bones might be said to be built in its walls? It is not possible that a superb mausoleum will ever raise its proud form over his clay-built house, or that a holy Mecca will tell weary pilgrims where he was buried. Rather let this splendid pile, with its oriels and its towering spire, be visited as one of the scenes of his more recent labors in literature and religion. Let every good student be his epistle, written in his immortalized heart, known and read of all men who can appreciate sound learning and religious training; for he wrought not in marble, nor did he care to have the marble work for him; for he wished every young man of the college and every hearer of his public preachings and private discoursings, "manifestly declared to be the epistles of Christ, ministered by him, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart."

      Genius has the historic honor of originating what is permanent. The pyramids of Gizeh and Cheops, the ruins of the Carnac and Luxor, of Babylon and Nineveh, of Perseopolis and Palmyra, of Greece and Rome, whether statuary, architecture or roadways, all stand, in the [594] estimation of historians and of the literary world, upon the sole foundation of Genius. Which do you prefer to contemplate, respected auditors, the bust of Demosthenes or his orations? Cicero in marble or Cicero in his matchless Latin? the broad-fonted Plato in sculpture or in broad and deep-flowing thoughts and mellifluent Greek? Much honor to Phidias, Alcamenes, Myron, and Praxiteles; but more to those who wrought upon thoughts and thinkers; the highest honor to those who have winged the fancy, balanced the imagination, and cultured and invigorated the reason; and double superlative gratitude to him who has guided erring feet to the high places of God, and has plumed weak faith, like the king of birds, to dash through the cloudy pavilion of the Father of Lights, and fold his pinions in adoration among cherubs and seraphs, while gazing upon the beatific vision!

      The venerable president of this institution wrought in the quarry of the mind, for in marble he saw men--men of whom are made poets, orators, historians, editors, critics, teachers, harbingers of Christ in lands where there is no light and pastor-preachers who shall imitate the good shepherd--the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. In the rough rock of stormy emotion, perverted affections, undeveloped intellect and almost indistinguishable spiritual nature, his penetrating glance could discover jewels to be cut and set and chased, such as Jehovah said, in Malachi, should be his, when he "made up his special treasure."

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
      The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
  Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
      And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

"Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest--
  Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood."

Educated mind rules the world, and is to more fully rule it, hereafter. To guide the mind, therefore, by the laws of philosophy and religion, is to rule the ruler--to conquer the conqueror. And, it adds not a little to the value of this victory, to know, that the mind has a double immortality; it lives in itself, and it lives in its works. What see you in the sphynx, the pyramids and the Cyclopian colonnades of the Nile, where a bunch of moss or a sprig of ivy can not live, but sempervirent mind? What see you in the winged lions and fresh paintings recently exhumed from the ruins of the imperial cities of the Euphrates, but immortal mind? What reads the student in Greek and Latin, but Aristotle and Plato, Caesar and Cicero? They being dead, yet speak to the educated ear, but speak not so sweetly and effectively as the shepherd king and sweet singer of Israel, and the all-mind apostle of the Gentiles. Faith outspeaks philosophy, and its voice is heard more widely and longer. I love art. Did I consider it lawful, and [595] did occasion offer, I could spend hours daily among breathing marbles and speaking canvas; but I love the works of God with a greater ardor. I find in my path a beauty which neither Solomon nor his Egyptian spouse, in all their glory, could rival, I know that my Father in heaven has so clothed, in more than royal robes, sun-dyed and dyed with diamond dew, this fragile plant, that my eye, as well as his, would admire it; if he have covered "the wings of the dove with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold," my eye joins my ear, when I am charmed with her coo of love to her beloved mate; if he have ascended inanimate and animate nature in the bud and flower of lovely woman, adding sentiment to beauty and life; if he have placed this casket of associated beauties and values the germ-gem of mortal spirit, on which your culture is never lost, shall I not say with the great Teacher, "Ye are of more value than many sparrows"?

      Everything but the spirit of man has its price. Its value could only be written in blood, and measured by the Divinity. When God could swear by no greater, he sware by himself; and when he could give no less, he gave himself, for the redemption of the soul, "for it is precious;" the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and he it is whom the divine love offers on the altar of human redemption. Thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift!

      Our departed friend had an eye for every beauty, a mind for any business, and an imagination for every sublimity. He could have won laurels upon any field, but, while he conversed, all the arch of time abutting on two eternities, the religious, not the secular, the ritual rather than the material, were the chosen theatres of his genius. His irrepressible generalization grasped the whole idea of spirit;--God, essential and central spirit, and every nature in which has breathed the breath of lives. Tracing every line of beneficence from this spirit, centre to circumference, and every return line of obligation from the periphery of being, back to the radiating and acting Spirit, his soul left the earth for higher realms. But understand me. I am not painting an enthusiastic recluse, an inmate of Saba, or a mystic of any school. The mind we contemplate knew well the mountain was an aggregation of atoms, and therefore studied the atom. There have been few more accurate observers or close definers. It was not that he could not, but that he would not, make a specialty of the earthly; but laying a manly grasp on every thing he contemplated, as a creature in the presence of the Creator, or as a subject before the Lord of all, he subordinated matter mind, earth to heaven. Nor were these contemplations in the uncertain light of tradition or fancy; they were the direct impress made upon his mind by "the unwritten voice of God." Well [596] do I remember his remark to me, as we were being ferried across the Ohio, at Cincinnati, in a skiff, in 1826, "I have but one object in this world, and that is to know and enjoy the meaning of that book," pointing to a Testament. The writer or writers of Ps. cxix. could not have possessed a more superlative love for the word of God.

      But whence came this reverence for the Bible? The answer is found in one of Solomon's aphorisms, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Alexander Campbell had an eminently Christian father and mother. He was made acquainted with God with his earliest knowledge of language, and learned to love him when he first learned to love. He might have appropriated the words of Solomon, and said: "For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thy heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not, neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee; love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thy head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee."

      Thomas Campbell, the father of President Campbell, was one of the most remarkable men of the class which overlapped the last and the present centuries. He was pre-eminently a good man, a learned Presbyterian divine, and a preacher of view outgrowing the limits of his creed and party. He was head and shoulders above those who preceded him in efforts to reform Popery and Protestantism. There was no enthusiasm, not to name fanaticism, in his plan of operations. Indeed, union of Christians, rather than reformation of sects, seemed to be the purpose of his "Declaration and Address," issued in 1809, in Washington County, Pa. Luther, in the sixteenth century, contended for the Bible against the Pope behind battalions and princes, but Thomas Campbell, kindly as a spring morning, and radiant with divine light, fraternally approached Christendom with a flag of truce, resting on the Almighty arm. Knowing little more than his better informed contemporaries, except this, that the union of Christians is the crowning moral miracle which is to convert the world, with no other support than faith in our common humanity, and our common Father in heaven, he issued his proposals for this gigantic enterprise of the composing of all differences and the union of Christians, especially the better informed and more pious, on the word of God.

      On Sept. 12, 1788, his son Alexander, the subject of this eulogium, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, and became the peculiar charge [597] and treasure of this man of God and devoted pastor. Circumstances throwing father and son together, until the latter entered the University of Glasgow, the whole soul of the former seemed to be absorbed in the literary and religious education of the future reformer. Not a waking moment was permitted to be wasted. The memory, reason, and the heart were severally and severely taxed by a guiding mind, which seemed to have prophetic expectations of an abundant harvest from this plentiful seeding of truth. To ensure a complete knowledge of the copious language consecrated to the gospel, two Greek grammars, one in a dead tongue, were committed to memory, and abundant lore of English, French, Latin and Greek prose and poetry were stored away in the same spacious thesaurus for future use, apples of gold in baskets of silver. Scott's huge Commentary, and similar works, were read through; but the crowning glory of his youth was, that, like Timothy, he was the depository of unfeigned faith, ancestral and pure, because derived from the truest source; for from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus. To quote from my Baltimore "Memorial Discourse": "As Hamilcar Barca swore the child Hannibal at the altar to a lifelong enmity to Rome, and made the name of his god Baal part of his son's name, so Thomas Campbell trained Alexander to a perpetual war against the Papal and all other corruptions of the Word."

      The father was a remarkable teacher, and was himself a model of propriety and devotion; a living exemplification of his doctrine. In Ireland he had large pecuniary inducements laid before him by a nobleman, but he declined the situation for fear his children would be corrupted by the vices of society. He wished to train them for usefulness and heaven. His connection with European society polished his naive and gentle carriage into courtly manners, much of which was instinctively imbibed and continued through life by his son, contributing, with a fine physique, to that commanding address which friend and foe acknowledged to the day of his death. What if the necessity of bringing the family from Europe to meet the father, now settled in western Pennsylvania, compelled him to sacrifice university honors? Did not Isaac Taylor, the great author, confess the same defeat, when upon the credit of his anonymous works, "The Natural History of Enthusiasm," etc., he was called out of his concealment by the offer of the chair of Intellectual Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh? Mr. Campbell's authorship is his diploma.

      Thomas Campbell's "Declaration and Address," and his "Prospectus of a Religious Reformation," were the outgrowth of his enlarged benevolence and devout veneration for the word of God, rather than a comprehensive knowledge of the structure of the [598] kingdom of Christ. Having been a mediator between parties in his own church in the Emerald Isle, the fresh air and the magnificent proportions of the western continent, and the liberal tone of its institutions, furnished him the occasion of this spiritual expansion. The arrival of Alexander in Pennsylvania, as the "Declaration and Address were passing through the press, was most providential. Nothing could have so impressed the mind of such a son with the importance of Christian union upon Christian principles, as this action of such a father. There were many and imposing involutions of Providence before the father Jacob embraced his beloved Joseph, escaped from a great catastrophe, still true to his early training, at the head of a mighty empire. "A wise son makes a glad father," said Solomon more than once; and the eventful biographies of Joseph in Egypt and Alexander Campbell in America, fully illustrate it. The closing scenes of both the fathers were gilded by the greater earthly grandeur of their more highly favored sons; and Thomas Campbell could have joined the happy patriarch in his blessing the son on whom his mantle fell: "He is a fruitful bough by a well, whose daughters run over the wall; the archers have sorely grieved him and shot at him and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hand were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." But in both instances, as regards intellectual power and position, the greater is blessed by the less. The patriarchal Jacob and the patriarchal Campbell both rejoiced in the fact. Thomas Campbell, who launched the mind of his son in the right direction, soon fell in his wake, and followed the remainder of his days. As a counterpart to these remarks, indicating the regard of the elder for the younger, I am permitted to extract from a letter addressed to a citizen of Baltimore, Jan. 24, 1854, a paragraph revealing the estimate which the son placed upon the father, then recently deceased: "Yes, he has, been introduced to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to all the spirits! of just men made perfect; of which I have no more reason to doubt than I have that he has vacated the family and the church at Bethany? I never knew a man, in all my acquaintance with men, of whom it could be said with more assurance that 'he walked with God.' Such was the even tenor of his path, not for a few years, but to a period as far back as my memory reaches; and that is the other side of half a century."

      Prior to this change in the leadership, some important events had taken place. Upon entering into his father's views, Mr. Campbell commenced a course of evangelical training for the ministry, under his father's supervision. He told me that during pleasant weather, he took his books under a wide-spreading tree, and wore a well-defined path in the green sward, by his peripatetic and healthful mode of [599] study, much to the wonderment of the witnesses of this daily procedure. Two congregations having been collected by the senior Campbell on the western border of Pennsylvania, the younger delivered his first discourse to one of them in the month of May, 1810, from Matt. iii. 24-27: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

      This sermon indicated, with great distinctness, the mental direction and purposes of the young speaker. It was held in such high estimation by the church, that he received a call to the ministry from them on the spot. By the course of "the wise man," of his text, he marked out the programme of his whole life. No man ever strove more persistently to found upon the rock.

      About a year after the delivery of his first discourse, March 12, 1811, the subject of this sketch was married to Miss Margaret Brown, a true "helpmeet for him." My memories of her are pleasant and fresh. Her parting address to her five daughters, preserved in the Christian Baptist, is thought to fairly represent this model mother. Alas, she lives now on earth only in her grandchildren!

      It turned out, as the younger Campbell had predicted when he corrected the proof-sheets of his father's declaration of principles in 1809, that the declaration contained the germs of a broader reformation than the writer then contemplated. He could not repress the conviction that the rejection of every religious practice untaught in word, or unsanctioned by approved precedent, must exclude all the ceremonials called baptism, but the immersion of believers. His father was slow to "unchurch himself," as he expressed it. The two congregations already established, had, at an early period, passed the laver unconstitutionally, and found by the light of the Spirit-typifying golden lamps, the table furnished with the "continual bread," and the weekly communion had been adopted. Every step taken, made the necessity of confining church membership to believers more apparent, and the substitution of immersion for affusion, followed in the wake. The younger Campbell, now become a popular preacher, and a more independent thinker, less trammeled by precedents, declared his intention to immediately sever his connection with the pedobaptist world, by being buried with Christ in immersion. This quickened the discussion of the family, and led to the union of father, mother, wife [600] and sister, and other persons, with him, in this act of fealty to Christ, on June 2, 1812. The indifference of a large number of ungodly people to positive institutions, even after full conviction of their propriety, was strikingly illustrated on this occasion. But the Rubicon once passed, no one was more decided than Thomas Campbell; having founded upon the rock, he was firm. Although he had not the poetical genius of his classmate and namesake, he was possessed of a more generous enthusiasm and enlightened zeal. When with Walter Scott, in 1827, his soul drank in the joys of the gospel practically exemplified. In 1833 I met him in eastern Virginia, on horseback. He informed me that he had preached at 11 A. M., and after affectionate greetings, hurriedly observed, "Though it is painful, we must part, for I must complete my forty miles to-day, and preach to-night."

      A eulogy cannot be a history. I must therefore pass by without notice, many important events which will appear in the more permanent page, and hastily glance at a few which serve as a foil for the chief figure of our picture. The organization of six churches, not upon a closed Bible, but in the principles contained in the Bible and left there; the union with the Redstone Baptist Association, the transference of their membership to the Mahoning Association, to prevent a useless and interminable struggle with unscrupulous men; the suspension of the ecclesiastical functions of this latter body and the gradual substitution of the lovely annual county meetings which have grown out of it; the resulting overflowing of the Western Reserve with joyous converts and flourishing churches--all interesting enough for a volume, must be left to other hands.

      Though the struggle was for the reintroduction of primitive Christianity, Mr. Campbell the younger was now considered the champion of a new cause, and he went far and near attracting immense concourses of admiring, and frequently gainsaying hearers, stating the following proposition as fundamental in all efforts to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, viz:

      "Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or be made a term of communion among Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament. Nor ought anything to be admitted as of divine obligation in the church constitution or management, save what is enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles upon the New Testament church, either in express terms or by approved precedent."

      The subjoined extract followed as a legitimate corollary from the foregoing:

      "Christian union can result from nothing short of the destruction of creeds and confessions of faith, inasmuch as human creeds and [601] confessions have destroyed Christian union." That "whenever the setting aside of creeds and confessions shall be attempted, Christians will give to the world and the angels and to themselves, proof that they do believe the word of God."

      The establishment of the popular Buffalo Academy in 1819, the debate with Mr. Walker in 1820, and the one with Mr. McCalla in 1823--both Presbyterian ministers--on the subject of baptism, served to intensify his studies, and enlarge the area of his reputation. The work was accumulating on his hands, and in personal presence he was unable to perform it. The employment of the press became a necessity. The Baptists generally were favorably aroused, and the Pedobaptists unfavorably aroused, and all over the West, inquiry was being excited. On Aug. 3, 1823, he issued Vol. I., No. 1, of the Christian Baptist. The name was intended to intimate that Christianity, professed and obeyed in immersion, was to be the burden of its pages. The ground plan and elevation and most of the specifications of his life-work, were found in the seven annual volumes (now published in one super-royal octavo) of this monthly. For clearness and comprehensiveness, though it had many faults, and was the most controversial, this was the best of Mr. Campbell's publications. He felt his power, and the impenetrability of his Scripture armor. All men competent to poise a lance, were freely invited into its arena, they came from every quarter--Baptists and Pedobaptists, Congregationals and Episcopals, Calvinists and Arminians, Sceptics and Infidels. How they fell around him, the readers of that work know full well. No periodical has created so profound a sensation in modern times. At the expiration of seven years, it was merged into the new, more ornate, more diffuse and larger Millennial Harbinger. Mr. Campbell issued forty annual volumes of these two works, and while our attention is directed to his publications, I may add, he issued more than a dozen other volumes: The Christian Hymn Book in several editions, with enlargements; the New Translation of the New Testament, first a reprint of Geo. Campbell, Doddridge and Macknight, but afterwards upon the basis of the emended text, thoroughly revised with critical notes; so that it became eminently his own--one of the best translations issued from the American press; his translation of Acts of Apostles for the Bible Union; "Infidelity Confuted by Infidels;" "The Christian System," which passed through emendations and several editions; "Baptism--Its Antecedents and Consequents;" a large volume of literary addresses; his five great debates, including the two already named, and those severally on infidelity, Romanism, and the most common errors of Protestantism, with Dr. Rice. Two, if not three, of these last named debates have become text-books. There was something sublime in Mr. Campbell's [602] acceptance of Robert Owen's challenge addressed to the clergy of the world, and posted on the walls of all of our cities for weeks. He seemed like David trusting in the living God, while arranging to meet Goliath. "I have felt indignant," said he, "at the aspect of things in reference to this libertine and lawless schemer, and relying on the Author, the reasonableness and the excellencies of the Christian religion, I will meet him in debate." Mr. Owen expected that debate to give great notoriety to communism, and to attract tens of thousands to his common stock Paradise. But the whole enterprise found the low-water mark almost as suddenly as the waters of the Wabash. I was amused by a talented lawyer, one of Mr. Owen's very particular friends, who had a few days before predicted to me the speedy overthrow of the Bible. We sat together two days, within the altar of the old Methodist Church, where the debate was held. On the third day I noticed him standing among the graves outside, and listening at the back window; and then he disappeared. In reply to my inquiry as to the cause of his retreat, he said, "Oh, Owen is a simpleton." The president of moderators at this debate was my relative, Judge Burnet, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, who, though his sympathies divorced him from Mr. Campbell religiously, made this emphatic remark: "I have been listening to a man who seems to have lived in all ages." Let the other debates speak for themselves.

      I will mention here an incident to illustrate the workings of Providence in human affairs. Our departed brother, as lately as 1836, urged me to advise him as to the suspension of the Millennial Harbinger, that he might devote his attention to the preparation of permanent volumes on important topics, so little did he know at that time, when we had but one or two other papers, of the growing demand for a periodical literature, and the necessity of a central organ.

      Now, Mr. Campbell's tours through the country, and his visit to England in 1847, assumed the proportions of a royal progress. Men and women of all creeds and no creed, pressed from all quarters to the route of his travel to see and hear him. As I had for many years ample opportunity of knowing, the house where he domiciled, became, for the time, an improvised Normal School for religious teachers, literary gentlemen, and active Christians, brother Campbell being the parlor lecturer and public preacher.

      Early in 1830, our departed friend, without seeking the position, was in the Virginia Convention for amending the State Constitution. Though not a politician, his known liberal and well-digested sentiments commended him to the suffrages of the western citizens of that great State, at the moment when they demanded liberation from the burdens not shared by the tide-water districts. Though he did not shine as a leader in this most august Virginia assembly of this century, [603] he was intimate with the venerable and celebrated ex-President Madison and Chief-Justice Marshall, and a co-member of the Judiciary Committee with the latter. These gentlemen, with Philip Doddridge and the members of the convention generally, held him in high esteem. But never did our venerable brother shine more brilliantly as a preacher than during that spring, the First Baptist Church being constantly crowded in every part with anxious listeners, Mr. Madison often among them. The results of that season of preaching cannot be measured in time.

      When, in 1838 or 1839, he consulted me upon the founding of this institution, which he effected in 1840, I conceded the importance of the work, but warned him of its burdens, weighty and weary, to be superadded to cares already too wearing, for one whose head was then whitening with the unmelting snows of over fifty winters. But it was to be the closing and crowning work of this eventful life, and the cultivated minds and chastened affections that have gone and shall go forth from these halls, consecrated to the arts and to God, shall be his memorial.

      Why was Alexander Campbell so much sought after and beloved? If Apelles alone could paint Alexander of Macedon, who can paint Alexander Campbell? It is no easy task. His presence was very imposing, a noble and great man. Your eye was upon his eye, and apart from his face, many forgot what manner of man he was. An admiring Kentucky lady hearer being asked, in 1825, when he wore a suit of Kentucky jeans, the fashion of that time and region, how he was dressed, replied; "In a splendid suit of black, of course, but I did not notice."

      Few men changed as much as he. The first time I saw him, thirty-nine or forty years since, he was spare and thin, he stooped some, and was slightly gray. When he grappled Robert Owen, three years later, he was more vigorous and hearty than at any other period of his life known to me. If he changed much in his general physique, his face presented a perpetual play of varied expression. I took him once to a fine daguerrean, who, after eight sittings, gave up in despair. No two of the pictures were alike. Nor have I ever seen a passable portrait of him, if I except one or two of the most recent, such as Middleton's, but they are the grand old man, not the Alexander Campbell who stirred the world to a lofty conception of the "lively oracles," from 1820 to 1847. We have no correct pen or pencil picture of him as he stood, the great man of Israel. No one not intimate with him during that period, can be said to have known him. In stature over five feet eleven inches, nervous rather than muscular, when in health a good eater and a sound sleeper for seven hours, mingling the blood of the Argyles of Scotia and the Huguenots of France, though Irish by [604] birth, he had a good rather than a robust constitution, showing pallor of thought rather than roundness of muscle, facile, capable of large endurance, and tenacious of life. His bead was fine; the brain compact and active, rather than massive; the dark blue eyes of fair size, though not prominent, expressed great penetration; his Roman nose was slightly awry, though, as a lady once naively observed, "it turned to the right," and his whole face, though of great power, was genial. Few failed to defer to his presence and opinions, though all were assured and comfortable when once introduced. The twinkle under his heavy eyebrow, and the gleam of sunlight over his countenance, with a jeu d' esprit or a jeu de mot, were an irresistible contagion of pleasure, but his presence was always imposing. Such are the recollections and conceptions of one who pillowed his head with him more frequently than with any other man.

      If such were the native dignity and grace of his person, his manners were in good keeping with his exterior. As I have already intimated, both the Campbells were native gentlemen, as far removed from the boorish as elegance, and from the brusque as refinement. They are among the few who would have been refined, had they entered society late in life; and the younger, reared with the elder, had he been inapt, would have absorbed ease and gentleness. I have the written testimony of at least three, that "through all his weakness and suffering, politeness and gratitude were the most conspicuous expressions of his heart." Such a man must have a strong will, but generally it was concealed in his argument--it seemed to be reason only determining the measure.

      Mr. Campbell's religion, manifest in morning and evening services in the family, instructive, lengthy and devout, as well as his constant conversations, preachings and writings, was not what the non-intelligent would call emotional; but there was a rich vein of feeling running through it all, like gold-bearing quartz through a mountain. With him religion was not gold thread to be woven into Sunday and protracted-meeting attire, but the filling in the woof of life. His religion contained as much emotion as his nature did. Veneration for God seemed to absorb other sentiments, and regard for his word as the exponent of his will, was the ruling principle of his life. He was as familiar with God in his word, as Moses was with God on the mount. It was no superexcited enthusiasm, no overstraining of the imagination. It was the firm grasp of the Divine Personality, the full assurance of faith, and it needed no new verbal coinage to give it voice, as is the case so frequently in modern literature. The words and ordinances of the two covenants were enough for his purposes. His emotion came with a thought, and he lived in it. [605]

      What was the character of his intellect? I do not know to whom to compare him. If I could, I would be, for the nonce, a Plutarch and raise aloft my social balance, and weigh him with other men. But first we must weigh Alexander Campbell with himself--Campbell with Campbell. Campbell of the Christian Baptist and early Harbinger, and Campbell of the later Harbinger, are in equipoise but for a moment. The former preponderates. Of his debates, those held in Cincinnati preponderate. His Lexington debate would have been his best, for he was quite perfect in preparation, had he not permitted the side issue of his uniform consistency as a writer, to come into the arena. The Campbell of the last fifteen years never compared with the Campbell of the preceding thirty-five. But with the partial and almost imperceptible decay of the intellectual power discerned by but few, there was an increasing evolution of the sentimental and spiritual--a gracious compensation.

      Three events, more than any others, contributed to the breakdown of Mr. Campbell's overtaxed powers. The labors of the college, superadded to "the care of the churches," and incessant literary labor--the sudden death of his darling boy, Wycliffe--and the translation for the American Bible Union, of "Acts of Apostles." Before the last he staggered, then he fell, no more to rise to the height of his former power.

      Now, with whom can we compare the Alexander Campbell during the thirty-five or forty years of his prime? In dignity and solid judgment he was both Moses and Solomon. For forty years he was Moses, keeping flocks among these mountains, and communing with God. Overlapping this period he was Solomon for forty years, discoursing the wisdom of God. Incompatible as Moses and Solomon may seem to be with John the Immerser, he was the John, the reformer and harbinger of the new covenant to thousands.

      No uninspired man has said so much and said it so well, about the kingdom of God. None have with greater clearness and effect, said to two generations, "Behold the Lamb of God;" and no other man in modern times, has, like John, drawn such myriads to the Jordan. But, in intellect and earnest nature, he resembled Paul, the New Testament Cicero, more than he did any other Bible character. Of course, in all these comparisons, inspiration is left out of the account. Like Dryden's preacher,

"With eloquence innate his tongue was arm'd;
  Though harsh the precept, yet the preacher charmed;
  For letting down the golden chain from high,
  He drew his audience upward to the sky.
  He bore his great commission in his look,
  And sweetly tempered awe, and soften'd all he spoke." [606]

      There are many points of resemblance between President Campbell and Luther. Vigorous intellect, imperturbable confidence in God, an aggressive nature, a life of prayerful toil, and a tendency to conservatism in later life, were common to them. With Calvin he had nothing in common but a towering intellect. He more resembled Zwingle.

      Of the quality of his mind, opinions will differ, as the prejudices, culture and temperaments of the observers differ. Generalization--rapid generalization, involving an exhaustive analysis--pre-eminently characterized it. The abstraction, the penetrative and associative imagination and comparison, were so moulded and compounded in him as to make him, in his sphere, what Newton, "who carried the line and rule to the utmost barriers of creation," was in the pure and mixed mathematics--the man who comprehended truth at a glance; for Sir William Hamilton says that the imagination "is as indispensable a condition of success in the abstract sciences as in the poetical and plastic arts." Both Newton and Campbell, well furnished with these faculties, seemed to have truth inbred in their minds. The clew, without which it were dangerous to enter into their several labyrinthine departments of thought, was in their hands. They had what Ancillon calls "the imagination of reason, which represents a principle in connection with its consequences, the effect in dependence upon its cause."

      I have seen near twenty pieces of unpublished poetry from his pen when he was about twenty years of age. He had rhymed easily and wrote some blank verse, seeming equally at home in the devotional, the descriptive, the sentimental and the satirical.

      Mr. Campbell's position kept his rare endowments in vigorous exercise. By tongue and pen he telegraphed his thoughts to the world, while along the same wires came suggestive inquiries and rebutting arguments, back to his mind from all the marts of thought. It is a dull mind that can slumber in a metropolitan telegraph office in a room full of ticking word-machines.

      Mr. Campbell's great joy was the discovery of truth. He could not build upon another man's foundations. But he must have the truth. A mystic once asked him, "Would you have me to trust in the bare, naked truth?" "Yes," he curtly replied, "as naked as two bares can make it." The elements of his intellectual greatness were, then, calm comprehensiveness, width of grasp, and wonderful energy and rapidity. There was no suppression of some faculties and exaggeration of others. There was an exaltation of the whole spiritual nature and such activity of special capacities as his work demanded. He had quite a symmetrical mind, easy of adaptation to almost any elevated pursuit. Withal he was eminently practical. For forty-five [607] years he was proprietor of a large estate, which he always managed himself. At one time he was farmer, shepherd, printer, editor, preacher and president of a college, with considerable practical knowledge of medicine and government.

      Mr. Campbell was a remarkable preacher. Not an orator, such as Whitfield, Summerfield, or the Irish Kirwan. He had not the voice, gesture or pathos of either of them. He could not, like them, raise a storm and quell it at will; and yet he would draw as large a congregation, hold them longer, and leave them furnished with much more comprehensive views of truth and duty. He spoke more sensibly, more rhetorically, and more Scripturally than either of them, and his work on earth will abide longer. We can imagine few more pleasurable sights than this grand preacher, delivering an extempore discourse, while supporting himself, enfeebled by dyspepsia, on his cane, in the midst of the largest and most intellectual audiences our country could afford. Thus he stood, like Paul on Mars' Hill, among the orators and statesmen of Kentucky, at an early day, in the largest hall of Lexington; thus he entranced the elite of Richmond in 1830 and of Nashville shortly after; thus, shortly before that, he held spellbound for two hours, the Legislature of Ohio, before breakfast, ready to depart; it was thus in 1833, he addressed with great power, the sceptics of New York, two successive evenings, in their own Tammany Hall, with such suavity as to draw praise from every lip, and secure a vote of thanks from the men whose air-built castle he demolished. These speeches flowed from his lips like the 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 were charmed with the man, and impressed with the majesty of the Scripture.

      Mr. Campbell's preachings did not cease when he left the pulpit; the stream flowed on until every little goblet and great vase around the hearth were filled, and nature demanded a rest.

      As a talker he was immensely popular. "His colloquial powers were of an unusually high order. In every circle he seemed to be the centre of attraction and radiance, his social discoursings reminding one of the nine-mile sweeps of the Mississippi. If I compare him with Webster, Chalmers, Calhoun, or the elder Beecher, as a conversationalist, he is their superior. I must look further for his peers, and find them in Luther, Johnson, Macaulay and Coleridge. In private as in public debate, he was more the sage than the conversationalist. The universe was his library; his conversation a living study.

      But these social discoursings were not on metaphysics. Having in early life read the same sensuous philosophy of Locke, and having [608] possibly been injured by it, he seemed disinclined to pursue the subject, which I presume did not come within his short curriculum in Glasgow. He never became a metaphysician, simply because his tastes took another direction. Early in life, the short logic of Locke certainly did pervade his mind. Had Browne or Cousin or Sir William Hamilton then been his teachers, quite a different turn might have been given to his life by the alluring influence of their fertile pens. A taste for such inquiries, with such leaders, might have diverted his attention from that life devotion to Biblical study, which has placed him in such a commanding position before the world. Instead of studying critically the mental structure, he consecrated the powers of that structure to the study of God in his word, founding there his moral system.

      He was in warm sympathy with Protestantism, as his debate with a Roman Catholic bishop attests, yet he mourned over its divisions all his life, and ceased his healing labors just as Europe and America seemed to awake to the importance of evangelical union. His death occurred also on a year and a day pregnant, to him, with culminating prophecy. The first vernal Lord's Day, the astronomical opening of 1866, the year of the greatest conjunction of planets since the creation, the year to which the expectant eye and ear of Christendom have long been turned as the probable dawning of a brighter day for the church; this was the time, the temple of Janus being shut; selected by the Lord for his servant to come up higher. He had not been a laggard, but had hastened to the coming of Jesus Christ, whose he was, and whom he served. Since Paul called the name of his Master over ten times in the first ten verses of I. Corinthians, I doubt whether any one on earth has given, with the tongue and pen, especially the former, a richer offering of intelligent homage to the Saviour, than was the burden of Alexander Campbell's spirit. Christ was his "joy and song." Though he repudiated the terminology of the scholastic theology, no Trinitarian more firmly believed, and I never knew one as ably sustain, the separate personal relations of Father, Son and Holy Spirit--the society of what has been called the Godhead--the divine nature.

      The closing scenes of his life--the incidents of his happy and triumphant death--have been so fully and so recently published, that I forbear to open the wound afresh.

      Students of Bethany College! you miss to-day, the man of God, your venerable president. No more shall he kindly hand out, and the student proudly receive, the testimonial of scholarship and good behavior. No longer shall these halls, where he was the cynosure of all eyes, echo his magic words of wisdom and eloquence. The bell can not bring his patriarchal form; the angelic trump alone can arouse it. He joins no commencement procession, till he meets the [609] convoy of angels that comes to give the victor an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

"Thus star by star declines,
      Till all are passed away;
  As morning high and higher shines,
      To pure and perfect day:
  Nor sink those stars in empty night,
  But hide themselves in heaven's own light."

      Your late president was a reader and a student in his boyhood, his manhood, and his old age. When Lyman Beecher, D. D., in 1837, asked him how he possessed himself of such stores of methodized knowledge, he replied, "By studying sixteen hours per day." These habits he maintained, "When possible, till late in life. But the secret of his triumphant success, was his familiarity with the Bible. Students, the future is born of the past. Follow the light of this brilliant example till you accomplish a similar glorious destiny!

      Alumni of Bethany College! I address you, for if the college is your alma mater, the late president has been to you a father, a father of warm affection and wise counsels. You have known him, some of you, in the day of his prime. You have felt his value and the value of his religion. I would scorn to ask you, and you would spurn the request, to be a blind follower of a man, living or dead, but I do ask you, in following Mr. Campbell where science and religion led, to emulate his virtues, carry out and perfect his plans, and vitalize into a methodized and general success, his favorite measure of making the Bible a college classic. Upon you, gentlemen, Mr. Campbell has devolved a solemn responsibility.

      To the Trustees and Faculty, I have only to say in the dying words of Wm. H. Harrison, "You know my will. Administer the government upon pure constitutional principles." The founder of Bethany College has committed its destiny to you. I doubt not you will preserve the trust inviolate, discharge the duties faithfully, and make the crowning labor of his life his fitting memorial and a permanent monument.

      Members of the house Bethany, and bereaved relatives! Messiah was anointed "to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." The Lord of hosts hath "taken away from you the stay and the staff," mourning relict, after thirty-eight years of intimacy. "The Lord is now thy husband." He who was thy husband has gone to join eleven, having left but five to mourn. The twelve are "with Christ, which is far better." If ever a family had high reason of serene resignation, you now have. The tender husband [610] and affectionate father "came to his grave in a full age like as a shock of corn ascendeth" the altar among the firstfruits, "in his season." Following his example, is the sincerest sorrow for the dead, and the purest hope for the future. Divide among yourselves, children, the falling mantle, and see that each wear his part well. The old hero's maxim was, Frangas, non nettes. So say you to the powers of evil, "You may break, you shall not bend me."

      The stern integrity of Alexander Campbell was the chief glory of his life. Thirty-three years since, before many of you were born, I traversed these hills with him, preaching on both sides of the river, while the cholera was decimating Wheeling and some Ohio villages. Never shall I forget the self-possession exhibited by him in those weeks of peril. He was as firm before the pestilence as he was before his foes. The night of November 12, of the same year, he shared my pillow in Richmond, Va. Before midnight, the captain of the city watch called me up to see "the heavens falling." Upon arising, we found the negroes and many whites had already shared the excitement of this official. Your father then, and a departed sister, witnessed the grandest sight recorded since the deluge--the great storm of meteors--the snowstorm of fire. He alone stood tranquil, and dealt out in encouraging strains his philosophy of the phenomenon. Long after the day broke, these flakes of fire seemed to touch the earth.

      These hills, every rood of which he loved, will answer to his tread no more. He has gone to the upper level of Christianity, "the heavenly Jerusalem, and the innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born."

"Can storied urn or animated bust
  Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
  Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust?"

It remains for you, then, but to aim for the same blest abode by a life of devotion to the cause of God! Heaven grant you all the needful help!

      Men, brethren, and fathers! Shall the voice of the dead speak here and now a lesson? Methinks I hear it:--Be united; "be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of peace shall be with you." Too often have modern times realized the painful illustration of one poet, as given by another:

"Should such a man be fond to rule alone,
  Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
  View him with scornful yet with jealous eyes,
  And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;
  And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
  Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
  Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
  Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
  Who would not weep, if Atticus were he!" [611]

      I would found here upon this spot, an argument for ministerial ethics and the warmest and strongest fraternity. Were "the great gulf" bridged, and the spirit of our departed brother once more on this platform, would he not, by the solemnities of the grave, condemn all asperities and discourtesies among the friends of Jesus. Would he not, by the joys of the higher life which he has entered, beseech us here to fall not out by the way, but pray us to "fulfill his joy," that we "be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind," having the mind that was in Christ Jesus!

[D. S. BURNET.]      

      D. S. Burnet. "In Memoriam--President Alexander Campbell." The Millennial Harbinger 37 (July 1866):


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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)