J. F. Burnett The Origin and Principles of the Christians (1921)





The Origin and Principles of the Christians





Minister in the Christian Church



      This is one of a series of booklets prepared and issued under the direction of the Secretary for Department of Publishing of The American Christian Convention, that the members of our churches and Sunday-schools may be well informed as to the history and distinctive principles of


which accepts and proclaims:

      The Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church.
      Christian our only name.
      The Bible our rule of faith and practice.
      Individual interpretation of the Scriptures, the right and duty of all.
      Christian character the test of fellowship.
      The union of all the followers of Christ, to the end that the world may believe.

      Several of the booklets are from the pen of John Franklin Burnett, D. D., who has given many years of his life to research and investigation of the subjects he presents. Others are by men of outstanding ability who have given many years of service in the Christian Church. They will present the distinctive principles of the Christian church as essentials in Christian life and the basis for church unity.

      While the booklets have not been prepared [2] especially for study books, yet the subject matter presented can be studied with profit by the individual, students, Christian Endeavor societies, Sunday-school classes, etc., particularly as a part of programs for stated week-day meetings. It is the hope of the Secretary for the Department of Publishing that they will be given by pastors to all new members as they are accepted into church. They are also intended for general distribution, by pastors and religious workers in our churches, to those who may be interested in the church and principles of the Christians.

      No. 1 is The Origin and Principles of the Christians with an account of the co-ordinating of the bodies of different sections.

      No. 2 is a historical and biographical sketch of Rev. James O'Kelly, who courageously stood for individual liberty in religious thought and worship.

      No. 3 sketches the life of Rev. Abner Jones, a pioneer in the thought that character and life are the true test of religious fellowship as over against dogma.

      No. 4 is a sketch of the life of Rev. Barton W. Stone, a scholar and religious teacher who advocated that the Bible is the book of life, and the only rule of faith and practice necessary for a Christian, as over against any formulated creed.

      No. 5 combines sketches of Elias Smith, publisher, and Horace Mann, educator; and the pioneer women workers of the Christian Church. [3]

      That all who use these booklets judiciously may be supplied, they will be sent free on request and payment of postage, 15c. for one dozen, 40c. for fifty, 75c. for one hundred. Order them from The American Christian Convention, or The Christian Publishing Association. Both are in the Christian Publishing Association Building, Dayton, Ohio.

      If the hopes and wishes of the Department of Publishing are even in a measure realized, the effort and expense of the publication of the series will be justified.

O. W. WHITELOCK,      
Secretary for Publishing. [4]


      In the early years of my ministry, I felt most keenly the need of some concise statement of the Origin and Principles of the Church to which I belonged and searched as diligently and as widely as I could but was rewarded by only fragmentary statements. I have strongly and increasingly felt the need of such information, and determined if ever within my power so to do, to prepare such statement for those who like myself so sorely needed it. This little booklet contains the result of years of searching the oldest reliable publications the writer could secure, and consulting the best authorities known to him. The contents of the booklet have at various times and in many places been given in a fragmentary way in lectures and addresses, and the writer believes that God has blessed them, and that he will in some way use the booklet for his glory and the good of his cause. With the hope that at least some may be helped by it,

            I am, yours in service,
                        JOHN FRANKLIN BURNETT.
      Dayton, Ohio, April 16, 1921.
            The 70th anniversary of his birth. [6]



      Who are the Christians? Whence came they? What is their mission, belief and strength, are questions often asked by those who really seek to know. Most of the Protestant sects trace their origin to some individual reformer, such as a Luther, a Calvin, a Fox, a Wesley, or a Campbell. The Christians never had any such leader, nor do they trace their origin and principles to the labors of any one man, or the wisdom and work of any one conference, association or convention.

      They arose nearly simultaneously in the South, East and West, and that, too, in sections remote from each other, without any preconcerted plan, or even knowledge of the other's movements. Some years later these three branches learned of each other's existence, sought and obtained information concerning one another and found to their great surprise and delight that all three had embraced the same principles and were engaged in doing the same work. There may have been different methods, and a variety of opinions, but there was an essential oneness of purpose, and they dwelt together in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, and this has been true of them [7] throughout all their years. They may be lacking in uniformity, but they have lived, loved, and labored in harmony, as perhaps no other people has ever done. I have often been asked to preach on the doctrine of this people called Christians. To all such requests I have invariably replied that the Christian Church, as such, has no doctrine, and more, it has no right to a formulated doctrine which might exist by reason of a vote of the church. The doctrine is of God. It is older than the church. It is written in the Book, and it is the duty of the church to believe and practice the doctrine as it finds it revealed of God. The doctrine of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of repentance, of faith, of baptism, of forgiveness, of justification, of sanctification, of prayer, of heaven, of immortality, of rewards and punishment, is written in the Book. It is of God, and is eternal in character and duration, and no man or number of men has any right to change one "jot or one tittle," add to, or take from, under penalty of having their names taken out of the Book of Life. With a charity as broad as truth itself, the Christian church has stood, not for a formulated doctrine but for an honest belief of the doctrine as written and the faithful practice of that belief in home, church, and state.

      The Christians learned very early in their career that in the thought and practice of sectarianism there was but little difference between doctrine and dogma, and sought to remain free that [8] they might breathe God's spirit and fellowship his children without submission to theological opinions or ecclesiastical tests.

      Notwithstanding the Christians have not had a formulated statement of doctrine, they have had a few principles around which they have clustered their thoughts and activities and for which they have stood for more than a century and a quarter.


      Prominent among these principles is the right of the individual to interpret God's truth for himself. The question is often asked, Where did that principle originate? What conference or assembly gave it existence? Was it reported upon by a committee appointed and charged with the duty of defining the rights of man? Was that report when made discussed and adopted by a unanimous vote of any regularly constituted authority? To all these questions and similar ones the answer is No. The right of the individual is a God-given right and was simply recognized and exercised by those who were first to declare in favor of the one against the many.

      It is a well-known fact that prior to the Revolutionary war the Methodist Church in America was considered a branch of the Church of England, and was dependent upon English Episcopacy for the regular administrations of the church ordinances. But as the Revolution had wrested [9] the states from British rule, it also left the American Methodists free to transact their own affairs. After the close of the Revolutionary war, when the Methodist Church in America had separated itself from their brethren in England, the Rev. John Wesley wrote from Bristol, England, September 10, 1784, to Dr. Coke, Francis Asbury and others, giving them detailed instructions regarding the future life and work of the Methodist Church in their country. Dr. Coke, Francis Asbury and others desired to establish an Episcopal form of government. They wanted to Episcopize the church to the extent of preventing any appeal from the decision of the Bishop. They were determined in spirit, sanguine in hope, and unceasing in their efforts to accomplish their purpose. They made public their intention of clothing the Bishop with Episcopal power. Their proposed form of government became a subject of spirited and constant discussion in several conferences immediately preceding the general conference, where the question of government was to be settled, for it was for the settlement of this question more than for any other reason that the first General Conference of the Methodist Church was held. This conference met in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in November, 1792. From the Compendium of Methodism by James Porter, D. D., I take the following:

      "This General Conference properly enough called the first, was held in Baltimore, November, [10] 1792. Here the whole economy of the church was reviewed, and such alterations made as the experience of previous years suggested. But one man especially had it in his heart to produce a radical change in the government. We refer to Rev. James O'Kelly, a very popular preacher and an old presiding elder from Virginia. His plan provided that, after his reading of the appointments of the preachers by the bishop, if any one thought himself injured he might appeal to the conference, and state his objections, when, if the conference thought them sufficient, the bishop should change his appointment. It was discussed about three days with great interest, and then rejected by a large majority. This gave Mr. O'Kelly great offense, and the next morning he resigned his seat. Everything was done by the conference to appease him, except to adopt his plan, but to no purpose. He withdrew from the church, and formed a separate party, raising a hue and cry against the church he had left, and denouncing the ministers, and especially Bishop Asbury. The excitement was great, and many seceded and joined the new party. To make some gain of the political fever which raged in those times, they took the name of 'Republican Methodist.' This brought the spirit of the world to their aid, and many of the people, some whole societies in Virginia, withdrew and took their meeting houses with them, while others were embittered, divided and destroyed. In the course of the four years [11] immediately succeeding this outbreak, the church decreased in her membership more than 12,000. But, after all, the enterprise did not succeed. The traveling preachers found that there was more popery in the new concern than in the old, notwithstanding its titles and pretensions, and all but one returned to the church, bringing large numbers of people with them. Those who remained struggled on but with little encouragement. In 1801 they sought to help a sinking cause by a new name and came out under the imposing cognomen of the Christian Church."

      It will be seen from facts given later on, that the distinguished author was mistaken in the time of adopting the name and we may reasonably conclude that he was mistaken as to the number returning to the original fold, but it is a fact that the conference did try to induce Mr. O'Kelly to return for they sent a committee to treat with him. He says of this meeting with the committee that they "conversed freely and lovingly; although they could not defend the government, nor the conduct of the president, yet they thought it advisable to submit."

      This James O'Kelly was a mighty man. He has been spoken of as a classmate of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, and being well versed in Methodism and imbued with the spirit of religious liberty it was "Greek meeting Greek" when he opposed the Episcopacy proposed and defended by Asbury and Coke. In this first general [12] conference he introduced a resolution to the effect that should any one be appointed to a circuit and thought himself injured by the appointment, that he should have the right to appeal to the conference and state his objection, and should the conference approve his objection the Bishop should appoint him to another circuit, and he made a speech in favor of the "injured preacher" but was given to understand that individuals had no rights that bishops were bound to respect. Then it was that Mr. O'Kelly left the conference and was followed by about twenty other ministers. Among them was a man by the name of McKendria, who afterward returned to the conference and was subsequently made a bishop. Very few preachers nowadays know anything about an injured preacher, but the writer happens to know. It was then, and is now, a preacher who has a large circuit and a small salary.

      In Mr. O'Kelly's defense of the individual was born that principle, "The Right of the Individual," for which we stand. It was not legislated into existence. It was born. It was not wrought out of the brain of a committee, conference, or convention. It was born of a man's interest in his fellowman, his love for the right and his recognition of the individual. It was not intended at the first to mean anything more than the right of the individual to be heard in matters pertaining to conference membership and ministerial service. In other words, it was not doctrinal, but [13] governmental matters which interested and moved Mr. O'Kelly to speak and act, but it soon came to mean the right of the individual to interpret God's word for himself as well. In other words, the individual was to read for himself, think for himself, interpret for himself, act for himself, as well as give an account for himself. This principle has been the crowning glory of the Christians for all these years. In preparing the history of the American Christian Convention the writer sought information from Mr. W. E. MacClenny, of Suffolk, Va., who has since prepared and published "The Life of James O'Kelly," who wrote as follows:

      "Two conferences were held at Reece's Chapel, in Charlotte County, Va., one in 1792, and the other late in 1792 or early in 1793. At one of these meetings they sent John Chapel and E. Almonds over the mountains with a petition for union with Rev. Francis Asbury. Their efforts were in vain.

      "The next conference was held on August 2, 1793, at Piney Grove church in Chesterfield County, Virginia. There they condemned the Episcopal form of government, but they still desired union with the Methodist brethren. They prepared an address to the Bishop, and asked that the Methodist form of government might be examined and tried by the Scriptures, and amended according to the Holy Word. That request was denied by the Methodist brethren."

      It is apparent that Mr. O'Kelly made a heroic [14] effort to harmonize the discordant conditions so that he might remain in the fellowship of the church of his early years.

      Mr. O'Kelly has this to say in regard to the fourth conference: "And it came to pass on the twelfth month (of 1793) about the 25th day of the month, we met pursuant to adjournment at Manakintown to receive the answer from Francis Asbury. Our friends made report that his answer to us was, 'I have no power to call such a meeting as you wish; therefore, if five hundred preachers should come on their knees before me, I would not do it.' We formed our ministers on an equality; gave the lay members the balance of power in the legislature; and left the executive business in the church collectively."

      He was a strong believer in sprinkling as the Bible mode of baptism, and as late as 1809 taught that baptism by sprinkling should be the rule of the new church to the exclusion of all other modes.

      We should keep in mind that in the south we were born of Methodist parents; that we breathed into our lives the fervor, zeal, customs and doctrines of the Methodist church; that we grew up among the strongest, as well as the most pious men, homes and churches, of that great body of believers; and that this fact accounts for customs, methods and practices in the Southland which may to some extent be unlike the methods of other sections of the country. [15]


      Christian character as the test of fellowship is another fundamental principle of the people known as Christians, which was born not of flesh and blood, nor of the will of man, but of God.

      Near the close of the eighteenth century, Dr. Abner Jones, of Hartland, Vermont, then a member of the regular Baptist church, had a peculiar travail of mind concerning sectarian names and human creeds. He had seen the baleful influence of these for many years, had witnessed the divisive force of those wolves in sheep's clothing as they entered into the flock of God to steal and kill, had heard the bitter anathemas of their defenders until his mind reeled, his heart grew faint and in hope of better things he turned away. He was especially averse to human creeds. He regarded them as so many lines or walls of separation, by which the followers of Christ were kept apart. He conceived the idea that it was not so much what a man believed, as what he was that entitled him to the favor of God and the fellowship of the saints. In those early days (and indeed at the present time) when a man got a new idea, he had to get a new church to put it in. The new wine would burst the old bottle, so that Dr. Jones was compelled to organize a new society in order to teach his honest, conscientious convictions. He commenced propagating his sentiments with zeal, [16] though at that time he did not know of another individual in all the world who thought like himself. In September, 1802, he organized a church at Lyndon, Vt., with a membership of twenty-five. During 1802 he organized another church at Hanover, N. H., and in March, 1803, another in Pierpont, N. H. About this time Elias Smith, then a Baptist minister, was preaching with great success in Portsmouth, N. H. Falling in with Dr. Jones' views the church under his care was led to adopt the same principles.

      No committee appointed by any conference, association or convention ever took under consideration the advisability of making Christian character the test of fellowship. It was born out of the heart of a man who loved God and wanted to see all the believers united in one visible fold. All men cannot be Presbyterians, nor Baptists, nor Episcopalians, nor Congregationalists, nor Friends, but each individual may be Christian. The radical unit is the one man, the individual. Paul recognized this selfhood when he said: "For me to live is Christ." Dr. Jones well knew that individualism could be abused and debased, a fact we have experienced many times in our history. But he knew and we know that there is an individualism that means personal thinking, personal conscience, personal obedience, personal faith, personal service; and through this personal fellowship one with another, we are learning that uniformity is a false standard of [17] judgment, and that only by bringing all the individualities together do we get the right conception of the church. It seems that God has taken some pains to individualize us, giving to each a personality all his own; and he seems to say to us, "Now you are all different, yet you may all be one; I mean for you to be united. Find the common measure, find the uniting line; and whilst retaining each your individuality enter into one another's feelings, sympathies, and activities, and, while you enter into and become parts of communities, societies and church organizations, never forget your individuality, for I meant the individual when I said, 'Ye are the branches, and every one of you shall give an account of himself unto God'."

      We called attention to our Methodist parentage in the South, and with equal satisfaction point to our Baptist ancestry of New England. It is something to be born well and most certainly we have been, for our test of fellowship has for its earthly home a Baptist church and the heart of a devoted Baptist preacher. Should we build our meeting houses on the river banks of all New England, and insist upon all our applicants for membership going down into the water and coming up out of the water, it would be a most natural consequence of our childhood home and teaching. And, I presume that throughout all New England the subject of immersion is given more emphasis and made more [18] prominent among our people than in any other section of the country.


      Those who had withdrawn from the Methodist church in 1792, together with the number that had been added to them during the two years, met in conference in Lebanon church, Surrey County, Va., the first of August, 1794. They were then Republican Methodists. Rev. Rice Haggard, standing with a copy of the New Testament scriptures in his hand, said: "Brethren, this is a sufficient rule of faith and practice, and by it we are told that the disciples were called Christians, and I move that henceforth and forever the followers of Christ be known as Christians simply." The motion was unanimously adopted, since which time we have had no other name. MacClenny, in his history of James O'Kelly, says: "Whereupon Rev. Mr. Hafferty, of North Carolina, made a motion to take the Bible itself as their only creed, and this too was carried." We have been accused of adopting or appropriating a name for a part of the family of God which belonged to the entire family. The fact is that we neither adopted nor appropriated the name. We simply refused to be known by any other name than the family name. In some localities we have been called "New Lights." It has always been annoying to the writer to be called a "New Light." A lady once said to me, "You belong to the [19] New Light church, don't you?" said I, "To what church!" "Why, to the New Light." I replied that I had never heard of such a church. "Why," said she, "You are sometimes called New Lights, aren't you?" Said I, "We may be, and you might sometimes be called handsome, but that wouldn't make you so."

      One thing is sure, we never adopted, accepted or recognized the name New Light as the name of our people. The first use of the word New Light, as far as known to the writer was by the Presbyterians with whom it seems to have originated. I quote verbatim from page 617 of Buck's Theological Dictionary, published by J. and J. Woodward in 1847:

      "In 1716 the Presbytery resolved to divide its members into four subordinate bodies, to be called the Presbyteries of Philadelphia, Snowhill, Newcastle, and Long Island; and to meet annually as the Presbytery of the whole, under the appellation of the synod of Philadelphia.

      "In 1741 this synod was divided by an unhappy controversy, which originated in the ministry of the Rev. George Whitefield, into two independent and rival synods. The new body was called the Synod of New York, and its members were styled in derision New Lights, and the New Side, while those who remained in the Synod of Philadelphia, with no better spirit, were stigmatized as the Old Side and Old Lights.

      "The root of bitterness undoubtedly subsisted [20] in the Synod before Mr. Whitefield's arrival in this country; but the fruits of discord did not appear until the Old Lights contended that it was disorderly to admit that eloquent man into the pulpits of the Presbyterian churches. They regarded him as a zealous but imprudent man; as a disorderly Episcopalian; as a disturber of the peace of ministers and congregations, whose revival measures were of questionable propriety.

      "The New Lights thought the Presbyterian churches in great need of revivals and that the preaching of Mr. Whitefield was well calculated to produce them, by alarming formalists, stirring up the people of God and convincing the impenitent."

      The writer has been told by the older ministers of the Christians, that when Rev. Barton W. Stone announced his intention of withdrawing from the Presbyterian church, and told his reasons therefor, he was called a "New-Light." This would be perfectly natural; for the Presbyterians of Cane Ridge, Ky., would be familiar with the facts above cited, and would at once associate Rev. Mr. Stone with the Rev. Mr. Whitefield and class him with the "New Lights" of 1741.

      Our right to the name Christian is beyond controversy even though there is another body of believers laying claim to it. It is a beautiful name, around which there is more glory than has ever adorned any human name and it is not a surprise that it is coveted. With reference to this people and their right to the name I quote from a [21] reported speech of Alexander Campbell as published in the Millennial Harbinger in 1839. Let it be remembered that Mr. Campbell was the editor of this paper at the time above mentioned.

      "Our name--Into what, or into whom have we been immersed? Into Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Campbell or Reformation? If not, then why nickname us, or we nickname ourselves, when we assume or choose such designation? Shall we be called Disciples of Christ, or Christians? Why not call ourselves Christians? Not because we have another leader than Christ, for He is our teacher. We believe in Him, were immersed into His death, and have thus put on Christ. But we have been anticipated. The term Christian in New England and in some other sections of this land is a name chosen and appropriated by a party who boast that they are Unitarians--disbelieve in baptism for the remission of sins, and refuse to celebrate the Lord's death as often as they celebrate his resurrection, etc., etc.

      "Were I or any brother to traverse much of New York, New England and some other sections, and call ourselves Christians, as a party name, we should be admitted by all Unitarians and rejected by all of a different belief. One party would fraternize with us, while others would repudiate us, and un-church us, because of our Unitarianism, Arianism, etc., etc. For this reason we prefer an unappropriated name, which is indeed neither more nor less than the scriptural [22] equivalent of Christian; for who were called Christians first at Antioch? They had a prior, a more ancient name. They were called Disciples. Disciples of whom? Of Christ. Disciples of Christ is then a more ancient title than Christian, while it fully includes the whole idea. It is then as divine, as authoritative as the name Christian and more ancient. Besides it is more descriptive, and, better still, it is unappropriated. It claims our preference for four reasons:

      "First--It is more ancient.

      "Second--It is more descriptive.

      "Third--It is more scriptural.

      "Fourth--It is more unappropriated.

      "First--Our first reason is indisputable, for the Disciples of Christ were called Christians first at Antioch. Those who from the day of Pentecost were known throughout Judea, Galilee, Samaria and among the Gentiles as Disciples of Christ, were at Antioch many years afterward called for the first time, Christians.

      "Second--It is more descriptive, because many people are named after their country or their political leaders, and sometimes after their religious leaders, who would feel it an insult to be called the pupils or the disciples of the persons whose name they bear. Germans, Franks, Greeks, Americans, Columbians, Jeffersonians, etc., do not describe the persons who bear their names, for they are not supposed to be the pupils of such men. Might not a stranger, an alien, imagine that [23] Christian, like American or Roman, had some reference to country or some benefactor, or some particular circumstance, rather than scholarship? Disciple of Christ is then a more descriptive and definite designation than Christian.

      "Third--It is more scriptural. Luke wrote his acts some thirty years after the ascension. Now in his writings, which give at least thirty years' history of the primitive church, the word Christian occurs but twice--used only by Antiochans and by King Agrippa; but no disciple as far as Luke relates, ever spoke of himself or brethren under that designation. More than thirty times they are called disciples in the Acts of the Apostles. Luke and other intelligent men call them often Brethren and Disciples, but never Christians. Again we have the word Christian but once in all the epistles, and then in circumstances which make it pretty evident it was used rather by the enemies than by the friends of the brotherhood. Our proposition is, then, abundantly proved that it was a more scriptural and consequently a more authoritative and divine designation than Christian.

      "Fourth--It is more unappropriated at the present time. Unitarians, Arians and sundry other newly risen sects abroad are zealous for the name Christian, while we are the only people on earth fairly and undisputably in the use of the title, Disciples of Christ.

      "For these four reasons I prefer this [24] designation to any other which has been offered. Can any one offer better reasons or a better name?"

      There was a time when Alexander Campbell was opposed to using the name Christian as a denominational name.

      In the Christian Messenger of October, 1843, appears an article in defense of the name Disciple and yet favoring the name Christian. The article is signed A. S. The editor, Rev. B. W. Stone, in commenting upon the article, says:

      "On this article we wish to suggest a few remarks:

      "First--We are pleased to find that Brother A. Campbell so highly approves these sentiments. He will no longer contend for Disciples as our family name, in future; no longer will he reject the name Christian because others had taken it before us."

      But why should we desire to be called Christians? Are there not many other names just as good? Is not one name as good as another? Some even go so far as to say, "There is nothing in a name." But evidently God thought there was something in a name when he changed the names of certain individuals that their names might correspond to their new life and character. Gen. 17:5. "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee." Gen. 35:10. "And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob; thy name shall not be called any [25] more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel." John 1:42. "He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter.)" Rev. 3:12. "He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name." I am quite sure that bankers think there is something in a name, and if you think they do not, you try to borrow money. Suppose you go to a bank and ask for $100 for thirty days. You date your note correctly and write the amount on the right line and fill out all the blanks properly. You hand it to the banker, he looks it over and hands it back to you, saying that he cannot lend you money on that paper. You say, "Why not?" "Because, sir, there is no name signed to it. You see, sir, that names are important things with bankers." "Oh! if that is all, I can quickly fix that," and you write a name, for names are important things with bankers. Again the banker examines the note and returns it, saying that he cannot comply with your request. "Why, there is a name to it, is there not?" Yes, but banks do not regard all names with equal favor and the one you have written cannot be accepted here, for names mean something with bankers, you see. If [26] you think there is nothing in a name, you try signing some other name than your own to a check, or note, or deed, or mortgage, or even a letter, and you will find out that the law regards names as very important and significant things. Suppose an estate is willed to a man by the name of Whitelock. The name Whitelock then becomes important with reference to that particular estate. Zartmann, or Rathbun, or Chase, or Kerr may be as good a man, but their names bar them from possessing that property. Suppose it is to be willed to Orlando Whitelock, then the name Orlando becomes important and no other Whitelock could lay rightful claim to the estate. Suppose it is to be willed to Orlando W. Whitelock, then the letter W. becomes important and Orlando H. Whitelock could not possess said estate under the will. In law names mean something, and why not in religion? Names mean much in home life. Your name is Smith. Would you be willing for your wife to be called Jones? Jones may be a handsomer man than you; he may have more money than you; he may live in a finer house and ride in a more elegant automobile than you; but if your wife should persist in being called Mrs. Jones, there would be a domestic difficulty and no one would blame you for it. Why? Because it is the law of both heaven and earth that the wife shall wear the name of her husband, and the wife who is not willing to wear her husband's name to the absolute exclusion of all other names is not worthy [27] of her husband, and as such has no rights that he is bound to respect. Jesus Christ is the "husband of whom the whole family, both in heaven and earth, is named." The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. Has not the husband an unquestioned right to demand that his name shall be hers? Has she any right whatever to wear any other name? Will it please the divine husband any more than it will the human husband, for his wife to prefer another name to his? We accept the name Christian as the wife accepts the name of her husband, or the child takes the name of its parents. The name is the birth-right of every child of God. God named his children. They were first called Christians at Antioch, or as the clear sense of the passage is, "They were by divine appointment first called Christians at Antioch." The name Christian beautifully designates a follower of Christ. It means nothing less and should never be made to mean anything more.

      And more; no church with a test of fellowship that excludes some of the followers of Christ, has any right to the name that includes all the followers of Christ; as our test of fellowship excludes none of the followers of Christ we have a right to the name that includes all the followers of Christ. [28]


      Notwithstanding that a motion was made and carried at the Conference held in 1794 that the Bible be our rule of faith and practice, its real birth was in the west. It was born of a most extraordinary revival of religion, beginning with the Presbyterians of Tennessee and Kentucky as early as 1799 and continuing until about the close of 1801. That the reader may have some idea of the birth throes of that great awakening I venture to give a brief history of it, as gathered from "The Story of a Country Church, by Charles W. Hoffman."

      In the summer of 1799 at Red River, Kentucky, religious services had been held in the church from Friday until Monday. After the sermon on the last day, an elderly lady uttered a loud shout. The congregation suddenly became exceedingly quiet. William McGee and his brother, John, were present; the former sat down upon the floor, and the latter began to tremble. John McGee attempted to preach; the people were eager to hear; he became so agitated that his effort failed; he exclaimed that there was a greater than he preaching and exhorted the people to "let the Lord reign in their hearts;" immediately the awful silence was broken by mingled cries for mercy and shouts of ecstacy. The congregation swayed as trees in the wind. The excitement became intense, the [29] aisles filled with exhorters; some prayed, others sang, while the proprieties of religious worship were disregarded. In their agitation men, women and children "fell" until the floor was covered.

      The news of this remarkable manifestation of what the Rev. McGready and the McGees were pleased to call "God's Spirit" spread like wildfire. A religious fervor seized the whole community. On the Green river and the Cumberland, the Licking, the Miamis and the Ohio the populace flocked to the meetings. The capacity of the churches was inadequate to accommodate the multitudes. Services were held in the forests and "camp meetings" were introduced. Through the forests for hundreds of miles came the worshipers in their wagons, with provisions sufficient to maintain them for weeks. All labor was suspended, the farmer left the harvest in the fields and hastened to partake of the "Bread of Life;" the hunter ceased his wanderings in quest of the deer; the blasphemer praised God, and the inebriate practiced sobriety.

      Camp meetings held in every locality of Kentucky and southern Ohio followed each other in rapid succession. At every gathering hundreds, and sometimes thousands, would "fall" and remain in a state of stupor for hours. Their breathing became slow, and all the physical faculties were apparently suspended. As the enthusiasm became more intense those who fell would begin to roll. One bodily exercise followed another; the rolls [30] were succeeded by the "jerks." The "jerks" consisted of throwing the head and upper half of the body backward and forward. There seemed to be no limit to these excesses. Congregations would begin to laugh, and at times the "holy laugh" became so vociferous that it could be heard for miles. When the revival was at its height the "jerks" were accompanied by the "barks." "Forced, as the victims claimed to be, to impersonate a dog, they fell on all fours and barked and snapped and showed their teeth in such a manner as to fill the spectators with horror."

      As irrational as all these excesses may appear they are inexplicable. No one was exempt; the scholar, the poor ignorant backwoodsman, the saint and the sinner "fell." In their stupor they saw bright visions and dreamed of realms of bliss. They awoke either in deep despondency because of their sins, or in a state of ecstasy, rejoicing in their salvation. Children, after passing through these experiences, became possessed of remarkable gifts of prayer and exhortation, and their petitions to Almighty God couched in language so clear in expressions and so pertinent in application, have never been explained except on the ground that "their heads were lifted up in the ways of the Lord," and their minds "quickened by the divine spirit." Many preachers advised their congregations to stay away from these meetings and endeavored to explain to them that it was the wildest fantasy of an overheated [31] imagination. Other ministers, as prominent and learned, claimed that it was a direct visitation of God. When the "falling" of five hundred persons, as though cast down by a cannon ball, had been witnesses, who could disbelieve?

      At the close of this great revival Barton W. Stone, a learned and eloquent minister, with Richard McNemar, John Thompson, John Dunlevy and Robert Marshall, withdrew from the Synod of Kentucky.

      As early as 1803 or 1804 Rev. Rice Haggard, who had been a colaborer with James O'Kelly and one of the ministers who went out with him, and who had proposed the name Christian as the only name for the followers of Christ, had visited in Kentucky and was present at the meeting of the Springfield Presbytery in 1804, and Elder Samuel Rodgers says it was Haggard first who suggested to Stone the propriety of taking the name "Christian" as that divinely given at Antioch.

      As well might be expected, a large number of Presbyterian members with most of the converts of this great revival, rallied around these men who had labored so faithfully and had been so signally blessed in their labors. As they had already felt the scourge of a human creed, the churches then under their control, with such others as they organized, agreed to take the Holy Scriptures as their only written rule of faith and practice.

      David Purviance was the first as far as known to be ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry [32] by the new-born church in the west. For a while after their withdrawal they continued the Presbyterial form of government and formed themselves into an independent organization which they called the "Springfield Presbytery." Even this, they thought, savored too much of ecclesiasticism, and on June 28, 1804, they concluded to dissolve this Presbytery, to allow each church to be entirely independent, each member thereof to teach and believe those principles which, from a careful and candid examination of the scriptures, they conceived to be true, and to be known as Christians only. In other words, they exalted the Bible above creed and conscience above priestly dictation.

      The final act in the withdrawal was expressed in what was known as the last will and testament of Springfield Presbytery, a copy of which is herein given.

      Elder Stone says of this (Springfield) Presbytery:

      "Under the name of Springfield Presbytery we went forward, preaching and constituting churches; but we had not worn our name more than one year before we saw it savored of a party spirit. With the man-made creeds we threw it overboard, and took the name Christian--the name given to the disciples by divine appointment first at Antioch. We published a pamphlet on this name, written by Elder Rice Haggard, who had lately united with us." [33]


      "For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall in the ground, and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth fruit. Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.--Scripture."


      The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Caneridge, in the county of Bourbon, being through a gracious Providence, in more than ordinary health growing in strength and size daily; and in perfect soundness and composure of mind; but knowing it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to die, and considering that the life of every such body is very uncertain, do make and ordain this, our last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, viz.: [34]

      Imprimis. We will, that this body be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body and one spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.

      Item. We will, that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be forgotten, that there be one Lord over God's heritage, and his name one.

      Item. We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

      Item. We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the Holy scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, without any mixture of philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

      Item. We will, that the church of Christ assume her native right of internal government--try her candidates for the ministry, as to their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental religion, gravity and aptness to teach and admit no other proof of their authority but Christ speaking in them. We will, that the Church of Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest; and that she [35] resume her primitive right of trying those who say they are Apostles, and are not.

      Item. We will, that each particular church, as a body, actuated by the same spirit, choose her own preacher, and support him by a free-will offering, without written call or subscription--admit members--remove offenses--and never henceforth delegate her right of government to any man or set of men whatever.

      Item. We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life, having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.

      Item. We will, that preachers and people cultivate a spirit of mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less; and while they behold signs of the times look up, and confidently expect that redemption draweth nigh.

      Item. We will, that our weak brethren, who may have been wishing to make the Presbytery of Springfield their king, and wot not what is now become of it, betake themselves to the Rock of Ages, and follow Jesus for the future.

      Item. We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every member who may be suspected of having departed from the Confession of Faith, and suspend every such suspected heretic [36] immediately in order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the sweets of gospel liberty.

      Item. We will, that Ja--------, the author of two letters lately published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to destroy partyism--we will, moreover, that our past conduct be examined into by all who may have correct information; but let foreigners beware of speaking evil things they know not.

      Item. Finally, we will, that our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.

Springfield Presbytery.  
      June 28, 1804.
(L. S.) Robert Marshall,
John Dunlevy,
Richard McNemar,
B. W. Stone,
John Thompson,
David Purviance,

      It is a remarkable item in the history of our movement that the five who first withdrew from the Presbyterian church in the west, were lost to the church they helped to start. Marshall and Thompson returned to the Presbyterians, McNemar and Dunlevy united with the Shakers, and Stone was lost to us in his affiliation with the Disciples, with which people he never united except [37] in co-operation and that for the sake of the union of all believers.

      The author of this booklet has made quite extensive investigation concerning Mr. Stone's relation to the Disciples of Christ, and has written a booklet in which the evidence assembled from the Disciples of Christ, as well as from the Christian's side of the question, warrants the conclusion that Mr. Stone never formally united with the Disciples of Christ, and that he never fully endorsed their teaching.

      It is certain that Mr. Stone did not meet Mr. Campbell until 1824, and that no union of any character whatsoever was formed earlier than 1832, and then none that bound any except those who were present and parties to it, and it originally meant no more than co-operating in evangelization, but it resulted in great loss to the Christians, both in numbers and influence. Elder Stone had been wearing the name Christian to the exclusion of all others, and preaching the gospel with the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice for full twenty years before he met Mr. Campbell, and there is small reason for believing that he ever turned away from his original purpose except to co-operate with the Disciples of Christ in what promised to him a fruitful field of evangelization.

      The Bible our rule of faith and practice, like the other three, came into existence not by legislation, but by birth, born of God, born of the times and [38] conditions of men, and it is worthy of note that by a strange coincidence unexplainable except from the direct interposition of God, the Christians of the west came out from their so-called orthodox friends about the same time as those of the south and east; and what adds to the beauty of the coincidence is that they adopted precisely the same name, asserted the same right, established the same test, and added the much needed rule of faith and practice, and that, too, when they were entirely unacquainted with the fact that others in the different parts of the United States had been moved by the same spirit and engaged in the same work. It seems now that God intended by this to leave not even the possibility of a doubt but that the Christians were to finally overthrow all creeds, all divisions, harmonize all sects, put to shame all human names, and lead the way to the oneness of God's people. The time when these principles were first made known was most opportune indeed. It was soon after the Declaration of Independence when the peculiar spirit of the times seems not only to have demanded political freedom, but religious liberty as well. Religion and politics for once seem to have united in one great effort to lift man from political oppression and religious bondage into political and religious freedom--to give him the rights of a free man in body and soul as God had planned for him.

      Of the peculiar situation of the times and our [39] origin and principles, J. R. Freese, M. D., has this to say:

      "The situation, being that of a country which had only of late assumed the form of a Republic, and hence, needed a religious co-worker, in order to strengthen her in her onward march to fame, to glory and renown! In almost any other country the Christian religion would have been opposed to the political form of government; but, in this, it was synonymous with it. The unity of their rise in different parts of the Union, although at the time entirely unknown to each other. This would seem strangely to prove that it was through the direct interposition of Divine Providence, and that this remarkable incident was ever to stand as a memento of that fact. The Presbyterians have had their Calvin, the Lutherans their Luther, the Methodists their Wesley, the Disciples their Campbell, etc., etc., but a simultaneous rising of men and sentiment, as was the Christian Church, never before was known since the creation of man. The causes that induced separation from the other churches, although differing in themselves, yet all had the same great object in view, viz.: the breaking down of assumed superiority in the church, the doing away with the mere customs and traditions of men, the right of private judgment in matters of thought and action, and the correction of many heinous traditional errors that had crept into the churches, and [40] which, if not exposed, might have finally caused their eternal ruin."

      These principles have stood the test of the most critical investigation and severest trial, and have steadily come to the front until today they shine with a glory undimmed, and when all human authority, human tests, human names, man-made creeds and man-made unions have failed, the principles of which the Christians are the conservators and for which they have stood and stand today will be approved of God and accepted by men.

      If the Calvinist and the Universalist had equal rights and equal power, the Calvinist would obliterate Universalism, and the Universalist would wipe out Calvinism, but neither of them would lay hands on a single principle of the Christians. If the Trinitarians and the Unitarians had equal rights and equal power, would not the Trinitarian destroy Unitarianism, and would not the Unitarian destroy Trinitarianism? But neither the Trinitarian nor the Unitarian would lay hands on a single principle of the Christians.

      If the Baptist and the Pedo Baptist had equal rights would not the Baptist put a pool in every Pedo Baptist church, and would not the Pedo Baptist close up all the baptistries of the Baptists? Most certainly they would. But would either of them lay hands on the Right of Private Judgment, Character as a sufficient test of fellowship, the name Christian for His followers, or the Bible a sufficient rule of faith and practice? [41]

      I cannot close this brief sketch more appropriately than in the words of the great and good N. Summerbell, D. D., who wrote but a short time prior to his death all the following on a postal card:

      The Christians believe--

      In the Bible as making a man perfect for all good works.

      In Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

      In the Holy Spirit of God, the Reprover and Comforter.

      In the new birth, the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.

      In salvation through the blood of Jesus.

      In repentance, conversion, confession, prayer, baptism, communion, holiness and good works.

      In all that Jesus taught, the apostles preached, the first Christians believed, or is believed in heaven.

      Christians think that more of God's children in the world are of their faith than any other, and that it is the only faith generally believed, or that ever can be.

      That they are most orthodox, most evangelical and biblical, most catholic and liberal.

      Their name is most general, their creed (the Bible) most acceptable, that God is the father of all in every age.

      They first restored the Christian name, started [42] the first religious newspaper, opened the first college with equal privileges for the sexes, and were the first to restore open communion.

      They held the Bible without human creeds, baptism without close communion, true faith without bigotry.

      Theirs is the oldest denomination, the most scriptural name, the most charitable spirit, the most pure religion, the most rational conversion.

      Nobody can find a better name than Christian; a better creed than Bible; a better fellowship for all saints.

      There is not an article of their faith that requires any change of the scripture statement; nor any other denomination that can compare with them in scripture conformity.

      Their name covers all the followers of Jesus; their charity is over all whom God loves; their church was organized at Jerusalem; added to at Pentecost, and has the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

      Christ was their first teacher; the apostles their preachers; the converted Jews their first members, and all the saved are their brethren. They have unity with diversity, truth with toleration, obedience without boasting, and, while liberal, are conservative.

      Theirs is the only name which of itself signifies Christianity, the only church named in the Bible, the only creed that will cross Jordan, and there is no reason why all Christians should not adopt the [43] same Biblical and evangelical principles, except human considerations.

      It is the representative church of the Christian world; its name needs no changing; its creed needs no mending; its fellowship needs no extending; its charity needs no expanding. We ask not union for we are on our part in union with all; nor fellowship, for we are on our part in fellowship with all; and though we cannot go to them, we know they will come to us, for we hold to the only form of religion which will pass into heaven. [44]


      The three separate sections--the South, New England and Kentucky--each began, without knowledge of the others, and each according to its own way, and with adequate organization for the time. The Kentucky Christian Conference was organized in 1804, the Deer Creek Christian Conference (Ohio) was organized in 1807 or 1808, the Virginia Christian Conference in 1814, and general meetings were held in New England as early as 1808. The Southern section evidently carried on organized activity, beginning with 1794. These early conferences were without authority, and members were careful not to compromise their individual liberty, or the independence of their churches. When in session they discussed, admonished, advised, urged and insisted upon such means and measures as they pleased, but they neither legislated, nor commanded. These early conferences feared organization of any kind, and it was not an infrequent thing for conferences to destroy their records, lest they should become binding enactments.

      There is no available evidence of any definite time, nor any particular place, when and where the three separate bodies of the Christians came together and formed what is now known as the Christian Church. Indeed, it is exceedingly doubtful that they ever were amalgamated in any [45] formal, or technical, way. All evidence points rather that they became acquainted with each other as individuals through correspondence and ministers traveling from one section to another in quest of souls for the kingdom. In the Herald of Gospel Liberty, Vol. 1, is an account of some ministers of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, writing to the brethren in New England as early as 1809, saying that they stood on the same platform. The letter breathed the spirit of fellowship, and was signed: Wm. Glendenning, James Jackson, Wm. Gurney, Thomas E. Jeter, Joseph H. Bland, T. Ray (South Carolina), Henry Hays, George Wilkins, James Hays, Elias Evans, Joseph Thomas, John Sled, Walter Christian, Joseph Hatchett*, William More, Philip Vass, John Hays. This communication was answered in a similar spirit of fellowship by the New England brethren, through a committee consisting of Wm. Ramzey, Uriah Smith and Elias Cobb. This is a sample of many communications between the sections South and East, each and all of them serving to develop fellowship and produce union between the separate groups. It is well known that these early ministers were veritable missionaries, going everywhere preaching the gospel. Elias Smith travelled from Massachusetts to Virginia in 1812. A conference was organized in Virginia, a record of which is found in the Christian Herald of 1921, which says it was the "seventh [46] session of the Conference." W. E. MacClenny, of Suffolk, Virginia, in writing the author a few years ago, in answer to some questions, said of this conference: "Evidently the conference of 1814 was the immersion branch of the Christians in Virginia, and covered the territory of the Eastern Virginia Conference." It is well known that Elias Smith was an immersionist, and in all probability this conference was the out-growth of his visit. His visit would serve to put the brethren of the two sections into a relation of fellowship with each other, though they remained apart organically. Morrill, in his history of the Christian Denomination says:

      "Elias Smith stipulated, at his ordination, that he should be an itinerant evangelist, and others had the same understanding. Mark Fernald, Joseph Boody, Levi Hathaway, John Rand, Frederick Plummer were tireless in their missionary journeys, making incursions into Maine, Canada, the West and South, preaching daily if possible. In the south were men of like stamp and energy who journeyed northward into Pennsylvania, southward into South Carolina and Georgia, and westward into Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. Such men were James O'Kelly, Rice Haggard, William Guirey, William Lanphier, Mills Barrett and John Gray."

      Isaac N. Walter traveled almost incessantly, threading his way into all parts of our Zion, and wherever he went acquaintanceships were formed, [47] and fellowship developed. In 1822, David Millard visited Virginia and North Carolina. Abner Jones traveled westward into New York at an early time in his ministry. Reuben Dooly visited Virginia, and especially Rice Haggard, in 1810.

      The Rev. Peter Cartwright, a pioneer preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and cotemporary with Stone, and riding a circuit in Kentucky and Tennessee, not long after the Cane Ridge Revival, describes in his autobiography quite fully, and no doubt correctly, that wonderful meeting. Among other things he says: "I suppose since the day of Pentecost, there was hardly ever a greater revival of religion than at Cane Ridge." He does not hesitate to call the dissenters from the forms and doctrines of that day, "The trash trap," and other brotherly names, and adds, "In the meantime a remnant of the preachers that broke off from the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1792, headed by James O'Kelly, who formed a party because he could not be bishop in said church, and called it the Republican Methodist Church, came out into Kentucky and formed a union with these New Lights." Rev. Rice Haggard settled in Kentucky soon after the Cane Ridge revival, and labored with Stone, later traveling through Ohio, in which state he probably died, while on a preaching tour, in 1819. His coming from Virginia, to the West, would serve to acquaint the two sections with each other, and form a tie of Christian fellowship. As early as [48]


1824 the New York Western Christian Conference appointed Elder Joseph Badger an evangelist to the Southern states, and to obtain a history of the church in that territory. The United States Christian Conference, in session that year in Beekman, N. Y., passed a resolution "Approbating the action of the Conference."

      Gradually local conferences were organized, and ministers visited among these conferences. Indeed it was a rare thing for a conference of that early day to meet without a number of "fraternal messengers, and visiting brethren, being seated." It was a great event in the session when the invitation would be given, and the fraternal messengers and visiting brethren would come forward and be seated. Not only were such visitors from adjacent territory, but they traveled to and fro from Pennsylvania, New York, New England and the West. Through the opportunities afforded by these local conferences, for acquaintance and fellowship, there came a desire for a General Conference that would afford an extended acquaintance, and a larger fellowship. There had been held in New England, from the year 1808, a meeting of the ministers and laymen, which was fully intended to be a General Conference, but which very naturally was limited to New England territory, though efforts were made not to have it so. In the Christian Herald of January, 1826, I find the following notice:

      "The United States Christian Conference. [50]

      "The propriety of the next United States Christian Conference has been suggested, and also the propriety of locating the United States Christian Conference alternately in the Northern, Middle and Southern states, and that from each of the sections where the conference is not held, messengers should be chosen and sent to the conference, in order to better understand the movements of the society in the different parts of the country." As early as 1821, local conferences began to link up with the General Conference. W. E. MacClenny says of a conference of this character, held in Portsmouth, N. H., in 1819: "It seems that every section of the Christian Church was represented, unless it was the old North Carolina Conference, which followed James O'Kelly after the division of 1910 in the South." In the minutes of the session of 1821, held at New Bedford, Mass., I find the following: "Agreed, we approbate the proceedings of the last Virginia Christian Conference, as far as we have been made acquainted with them through the medium of the last number of the Christian Herald, and this Conference regrets that their messenger, Elder Nelson Millar, did not arrive to sit with us." The General United States Christian Conference met in 1822, in New York, and for several succeeding periods thereafter. The first General Christian Convention meeting west of New York, was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1854. It will be easily seen from the locations of the General [51] Convention, and the tone of each session, that there was a deep and abiding desire for a closer organization, yet nowhere is there recorded that such an organization was formed. In 1833, the General Christian Convention met at Milan, N. Y., and dissolved. The Rev. I. N. Walters, and others, met in New York, in 1833, and planned to hold a General Christian Convention the following year. They sent circular letters to the several conferences, stating that when eight or more local conferences should agree that such convention should be held, that it would be called. More than the number mentioned responded to the appeal favoring the Convention, and it was accordingly called. This appears to be the first concerted action of the conferences, and probably comes as near being the time, as any that can be designated, when the various sections, organizations and local churches were recognized as one. The General Christian Convention of 1850 was made up of accredited delegates from almost every state in which the Christians had churches, and there were delegates from the Dominion of Canada, so that the whole body known as Christian spoke at the same time, and at the same place, through this session of the General Christian Convention. It appears quite evident that from the first there was a flowing together, and in the fullness of time the various sections, with their diversified characteristics, were firmly united into one body in Christ Jesus their Lord. [52]

      We may not be able to designate the time nor name the place where the union was formally made. It should be enough to know that it was made. And while it is certain that such union was formed, it was the unity of spirit, and the fellowship in service, and even though it existed before the separate sections knew each other, it was none the less a real union. The Christian Church has been held together from the first by that indissoluble tie that binds all Christian hearts into oneness in Jesus Christ. In the Herald of Gospel Liberty, 1878, Elder N. Summerbell said of the Christian Church:

      "One of the grandest facts of the present age is the reappearance of the primitive Christian Church in America. Seemingly without any adequate cause, certainly without any preconcerted plans, confessedly without any human author, there appeared, as if by magic, in a moment molding itself into form, east, west, north, south, a religious body, differing from anything known in its age or country, yet developing in itself, in the midst of the most adverse circumstances, the great principles and highest conceptions of truth and beauty, of the inward heart-hope of the good of all ages, in forms of symmetrical beauty and grand proportions, and surrounding itself with such a halo of glory as could hardly be realized as real. Its coming was like the rising of the morning sun, or a column suddenly appearing amid [53] surrounding ruins, or as stone cut out of the mountain without hands."

      The reader may ask whence came the additional principles which form a part of the Christians' claim--"Christ the Head of the Church," and "The Unity of Believers." Having taken the Bible as the rule of their faith and practice, they believed its teaching.

      In 1854, The American Christian Convention met in Cincinnati, Ohio. At that time there were some who thought the church should make a statement of what it believed. Accordingly a committee was appointed, of which the Rev. Moses Kidder, then of Woodstock, Vt., was chairman. The committee retired from the auditorium for deliberation. In due time the announcement was made that the committee was ready to report. The President replied that the Convention would hear the report. Followed by the committee, the Rev. Moses Kidder, chairman, came up the aisle, bearing aloft a large pulpit Bible. Reverently he placed it on the altar, and said: "Mr. President, there is our report. We believe the Bible."

      "For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, [54] that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."--Paul.

      "Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me."--Jesus.

      "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all."--Paul. [55]


      James O'Kelly withdrew from the Methodist Conference in 1792.

      For about two years (until 1794) he and his followers were known as Republican Methodists.

      He and his followers met in the Lebanon Church, Virginia, August, 1794, and took the name Christian to the exclusion of all other names and the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice.

      The Christians never accepted officially nor generally the name Christian Connection nor New-Light.

      Abner Jones organized his first church in Lyndon, Vt., in 1802.

      Elias Smith began publishing the Christian Magazine in 1805.

      Elias Smith founded the Herald of Gospel Liberty in 1808.

      Barton W. Stone withdrew (finally) from the Presbyterians in 1804.

      The Springfield Presbytery was dissolved in June, 1804.

      Thomas Campbell reached America in May, 1807.

      The Christian Association of Washington was organized in 1809.

      Alexander Campbell reached America in 1809.

      Thomas Campbell made application for [56] membership in the Pittsburg Presbytery in 1810, and was refused membership for himself and churches.

      First church organized by the Campbells was at Brush Run, Pa., in 1811.

      There was not an immersed person in it and not for two years afterward.

      Alexander Campbell was ordained at Brush Run, Pa., January 1, 1812.

      Thomas Campbell was baptized by a Baptist minister by the name of Luce, June 12, 1813.

      Alexander Campbell was baptized at the same time and by the same Baptist minister.

      They united with the Baptist Association in 1815.

      Alexander Campbell contended that he was a Baptist in 1826, and in full fellowship with the Mahoning Baptist Association.

      Alexander Campbell established the Christian Baptist in 1823.

      Alexander Campbell made immersion in water a test of fellowship in the local congregation in 1825.

      The followers of Alexander Campbell were known as Baptists, Christian Baptists, Reformers, Baptist Reformers, Restorationers, Campbellites, from 1813 to about 1832.

      Alexander Campbell and his followers were disfellowshipped by the Baptists in 1829.

      Alexander Campbell and his followers issued [57] calls to the Baptist churches for public meetings in 1830.

      From 1813 to 1830 the whole movement led by the Campbells was a propaganda among the Baptist churches.

      The whole movement was eliminated from the Baptist Church by the year 1832.

      Alexander Campbell did not think seriously of a name for his followers until after they had been eliminated from the Baptist Church in 1832, at which time he expressed a preference for the name Christian but declined it because it had been "taken by the followers of Stone and was thought by Campbell to be a badge of sectarianism."

      Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone did not meet until the year 1824.

      There was not the semblance of union between them until the year 1832.

      The union question was discussed for three years, 1832-1835, and then found many staunch opposers in both bodies.

      Barton W. Stone had been preaching and founding Christian Churches for full twenty years before he met Alexander Campbell. [58]

      * In Kernodle's "Lives of Deceased Ministers"--Hackett.

[OPC 1-58]


      The electronic version of J. F. Burnett's The Origin and Principles of the Christians (Dayton, OH: The Christian Publishing Association, 1921) has been produced from a copy of the book held by the Disciples Christ Historical Society.

      Pagination in the electronic version has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. Inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and typography have been retained; however, corrections have been offered for misspellings and other accidental corruptions. Emendations are as follows:

            Printed Text [ Electronic Text
 p. 7:      other's movements [ other's movements.
 p. 9:      originiate? [ originate?
            againt the many. [ against the many.
 p. 17:     advisibility [ advisability
 p. 19:     sufficent rule [ sufficient rule
 p. 23:     as authorative [ as authoritative
 p. 24:     this designa tion [ this designation
 p. 26:     Because, sir,, [ Because, sir,
 p. 41:     Calvanism, [ Calvinism,
 p. 45:     inactments. [ enactments.
 p. 54:     isle, [ aisle,

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
Derry, PA

Created 11 April 1999.
Updated 2 July 2003.

J. F. Burnett The Origin and Principles of the Christians (1921)

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