[Table of Contents]|
John T. Brown, ed.|
Churches of Christ (1904)
BY CHARLES A. YOUNG.
One of the chief promoters of the great religious movement in modern times was Walter Scott. His ancestry as well as his name was the same as the renowned novelist of the last century. He was born on the last day of October, 1796, in Moffat, Scotland. His parents were John Scott and Mary Innes, who had five sons and five daughters. His father was a music teacher and a man of culture. The mother was refined and so sensitive that the news of her husband's death caused her death and she was buried in the same grave with him. Walter was the sixth of ten children. At the very beginning of this brief biographical sketch of one of the purest, noblest and truest spirits of the Restoration, we desire to let one of his pupils, who became the best historian of the Restoration, give us his estimate of Walter Scott. After telling us that Scott was a tutor for several years in his father's home, Dr. Richardson says: "It was about this period also that he wrote his Essays on Teaching Christianity, in the first volume of the Christian Baptist, in which he, over the signature of 'Philip,' first presented and developed the true basis and most important point in the Reformation, to-wit: The belief in Christ as the Son of God, the Christian faith and bond of Christian Union. Brother Scott really laid the true and distinctive foundation of the Reformation."
Baxter, in preparing his life of Walter Scott, found a dearth of material because this hero of the Cross had "lived so much for others that he had little thought or care for himself." We can only give a survey of the life of this great, gifted and God-fearing man. Before the death of his parents Walter was given good educational advantages. Through great economy he received training which usually only the children of wealthy parents enjoyed at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. After the necessary academic preparation he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he completed the collegiate course. It was the prayer of his parents that he should "preach the Word." A touching incident of his boyhood days throws a flood of light upon the kindhearted character of this noble man. It is said that Martin Luther sang and begged for the lazy drones who belonged to a monastic order. Walter Scott when a boy of sixteen sang late at night for a poor blind beggar. Singing the sweetest of Scotch airs he poured out the fulness of a sympathetic heart in the interest of suffering humanity. Soon after he completed his University training, Walter Scott was influenced to come to America, by the fact that his uncle on his mother's side, George Innes, had a government position in New York City. He sailed from Greenock and reached New York July, 1818. His uncle was a man of integrity and highly esteemed. He secured Walter a position as Latin tutor in a classical academy on Long Island. Soon, however, he set out on foot with a light heart and a lighter purse, in company with a young man to go West. They reached Pittsburg in May, 1819, where Mr. Scott fortunately--we may say, Providentially, became acquainted with a fellow countryman, who had been greatly influenced by the Haldanes, Mr. George Forrester. He was the principal of the best academy in Pittsburg, and quick to recognize the superior talents and training of Walter Scott he engaged him as his head assistant. Mr. Scott soon found that Mr. Forrester held views which were then quite peculiar, though fortunately they are not so peculiar now. "Mr. Forrester's peculiarity consisted in making the Bible his only authority and guide in matters of religion, while his young friend had been brought up to regard the Presbyterian, Standards as true and authoritative exposition and summary of Bible truth." Being a diligent student of the Word of God, he soon saw the consistency of Mr. Forrester's position. The Bible had for him a new meaning. It was no longer a store-house of texts to confirm dogmatic systems, but a revelation, an unveiling of the will of God. "The gospel was a message and to believe and obey that message was to become a Christian." Seeing that  religion was personal and not a matter of proxy, he made a careful study of the conditions of pardon, and being a thorough Greek scholar he was soon convinced that baptism should symbolize his death to sin and the rising to live a new life in Christ. He was baptized by Mr. Forrester who soon after gave up his academy and placed the management of it entirely in the hands of Mr. Scott. The school became very prosperous, but the principal felt that he ought to be preaching the glad tidings of salvation. "About this time a pamphlet fell into his hands, which had been put into circulation by a small congregation in the city of New York, and which had much to do with deciding the course he should pursue. The church alluded to was composed mainly of Scotch Baptists, and held many of the views held by the Haldanes, and were in many respects, far in advance of the other religious bodies. This pamphlet was published in 1820. It set forth with admirable clearness and simplicity the teaching of Scripture with regard to the design of baptism. The careful reader will find in it the germs of what was years afterwards insisted upon by Scott in his plea for baptism for the remission of sins and also by Alexander Campbell in his celebrated "Extra on Remission." We give a few extracts from this pamphlet:
"It is not intended, in this article, to discuss the import of the term baptism, as that term is well known to mean, in the New Testament, when used literally, nothing else than immersion in water. But the intention is to ascertain what this immersion signifies, and what are the uses and purposes for which it was appointed. This can only be done by observing what is said concerning it in Holy Scripture. (Here follows an induction of quotations familiar to our readers. C. A. Y.) From these several passages (Mark 1:4, 5; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:2-11; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 5:25, 27; Eph. 4:4, 6; Col. 2:12, 13; Titus 3:3, 6; 1 Peter 3:21), we may learn how baptism was viewed in the beginning by those who were qualified to understand its meaning best. No one who has been in the habit of considering it merely as an ordinance can read these passages with attention without being surprised at the wonderful powers, qualities, and effects, and uses, which are there apparently ascribed to it, if the language employed respecting it, in many of the passages, were taken literally, it would import, that remission of sins is to be obtained by baptism, and that an escape from the wrath to come is effected in baptism, that men are born the children of God by baptism; * * that men wash away their sins by baptism; that men become dead to sin and alive to God by baptism; that the church of God is sanctified and cleansed by baptism; that men are regenerated by baptism; and that the answer of a good conscience is obtained by baptism. All these things, if the passages were construed literally, would be ascribed to baptism. And it was a literal construction of these passages, which led professed Christianity in the early ages, to believe that baptism was necessary to salvation. Hence arose infant baptism, and other customs equally unauthorized. And from a like literal construction of the words of the Lord Jesus, at the last supper, arose the awful notion of transubstantiation.
"But, however such men may have erred in fixing a literal import upon these passages, still the very circumstance of their doing so, and the fact that the meaning they imputed is the literal meaning, all go to show that baptism was appointed for ends and purposes far more important than those who think of it only as an ordinance, yet have seen.
"It is for the churches of God, therefore, to consider well, whether it does not clearly and forcibly appear from what is said of baptism in the passages before us, taken each in its proper connection, that this baptism was appointed as an institution strikingly significant of several of the most important things relating to the Kingdom of God; whether it was not in baptism that men professed by deed, as they had already done by word, to have the remission of sins through the death of Jesus Christ, and to have a firm persuasion of being raised from the dead through Him, and after his example; whether it was not in baptism that they put off the ungodly character and its lusts, and put on the new life of righteousness in Christ; whether it was not in baptism that they professed to have their sins washed away, through the blood of the Lord and Savior; * * * whether it was not in baptism that they passed, as it were, out of one state into another, out of the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's Son; * * * whether, in fact, baptism  was not a prominent part of the Christian profession, or, in other words, that by which, the part, the Christian profession was made; and whether this one baptism was not essential to the keeping of the unity of the spirit."
This tract made a profound impression on the conscientious mind of Mr. Scott. He gave up his lucrative and delightful position and went to New York. But he was sadly disappointed. He found the practice of the church far below its high ideas. This same experience he had with regard to independent bands worshiping in Baltimore and Washington. In regard to his Washington City experience, he said: "I went thither and having searched them up I discovered them to be so sunken in the mire of Calvinism, that they refused to reform; and so finding no pleasure in them I left them. I then went to the Capitol, and climbing up to the top of its lofty dome, I sat myself down, filled with sorrow at the miserable dissolution of the Church of God."
After this Walter Scott returned to Pittsburg and resumed his teaching. He met the Campbells--Thomas and Alexander--wrote for the Christian Baptist, was married, and in 1826 moved to Steubenville, Ohio. In 1827 he accompanied Alexander Campbell to the Mahoning Baptist Association which met in New Lisbon, Ohio. Although he was only a "teaching brother," he was chosen at this meeting to be the evangelist for the Association. He had been preparing to publish a new paper to be called the Millennial Herald, but he gave up everything and entered with all the enthusiasm of his earnest nature into this new work. His first meeting, in which he preached the simple gospel, as in the days of the apostles, was at New Lisbon, Ohio, where only a few months before he had been appointed evangelist. This remarkable meeting resulted in a number of conversions. "His first step was to fix upon the divinity of Christ as the central and controlling thought of the New Testament, and which he afterwards demonstrated and illustrated with a strength and felicity that has never been surpassed. Next he arranged the elements of the gospel in the simple and natural order of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Remission of Sins, and Gift of the Holy Spirit, then he made baptism the practical acceptance of the gospel on the part of the penitent believer, as well as the pledge or assurance of pardon on the part of its author." It was Walter Scott who at the last meeting of the Mahoning Association freed the disciples from the last vestige of human authority and placed them under Christ with His Word for their guide. In incessant labors with Adamson Bentley, John Henry, William Hayden and others he continued his work and gave the great evangelistic impulse to the Restoration Movement. The Messiahship of Jesus was the central theme of all his preaching. Next to Mr. Campbell, his co-laborer, Mr. Scott was one of the most prolific writers of the Restoration. He opposed the "Word alone" theory as well as the "Spirit alone" theory regarding conversion, and he was one of the first writers upon the Biblical view of the Holy Spirit. The latter part of his life was spent at Mayslick, Kentucky, where he died during the first year of the Civil War, April 23, 1861. He was a great preacher and did more than any other man to restore apostolic preaching. He was a learned man and his greatest work was the Messiahship or Great Demonstration, written for the Union of Christians on Christian principles.
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John T. Brown, ed.|
Churches of Christ (1904)
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